Relevant Passages: Jeremiah 23:6; Romans 3-5; Ephesians 2:8-9
Jesus, the foundation of our faith. Jesus is the focal point of the Christian faith. The crucial question is: How does the divine initiative in salvation relate to the call for a human response?
1. The two-fold tension: When Jesus is seen as central to the Christian faith, two clusters of ideas, words, or concepts are often brought into focus, perhaps into a certain tension:
- The divine initiative: grace, justification, Jesus our sacrifice
- The human response: faith, obedience, sanctification, Jesus our example
2. The Historical perspective: How is this tension or balance between the divine and the human seen if we look at the question from the perspective of successive eras of history?
- The patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3)
- Israel: Out of Egypt, into Exile, Return to Canaan (Jeremiah 23:6)
- Jesus’ ministry: Pharisee, publican, and the rich young ruler (Luke 18:9-14, 18-25)
- Apostles: Peter, James, John, Paul
- Adventism: Founding fathers, Ellen White, modern Adventism
3. The Experiential perspective: How is the tension between the divine initiative and the human response experienced as one moves from childhood into youth and on into adulthood?
4. Key passages:
- Jeremiah 23:6. “The Lord Our Righteousness” is a line that is born in the context of the exile and return. How does Israel’s experience illumine the phrase and how would it be further refined by a knowledge of the story of Jesus?
- Romans 5. In Romans 5, Paul seeks to establish the priority of grace “while we were yet enemies” and also draws parallels and contrasts between Adam and Christ. What does this chapter contribute to our understanding of grace?
- Philippians 2:12-13. How does this crucial passage (“Work out your own salvation — for it is God who is at work in you”) enable us to arrive at a balance between human responsibility and divine initiative?
- Ephesians 2:8-9. Grace, works, and boasting — how does this passage help us find the right balance?