Major Texts: John 2:25; Jer. 17:9; Titus 1:1-2; Rom. 3:19-24; Acts 2:37; Luke 7:47; Eph. 2:1-5; John 3:16-17; Rom. 8:1.
This week we come to the subject of salvation. Salvation is the word believers use to describe the whole saving plan of God in just one word.
One of the best ways to develop a true and deep appreciation for the plan of salvation is to spend some time contemplating the problem of Sin and its effects on creation and humanity. If the problem of sin is a small one – like a mild headache – then the solution need not be grand. If the problem is moderate, then the solution need only be moderate. But if the problem of sin is radical, then the solution must be radical. The decisions and understandings developed around the problem of sin drive the understandings we develop about salvation. It is safe to say that, a misunderstanding of the problem of sin can easily result in the loss of salvation due to the under-apprehension of the magnitude of the problem being addressed.
- Gather up various texts that illuminate the magnitude of the sin problem. Jeremiah 17:5-9 should not be missed.
- What do you think of the statement that, because of sin, everything on earth is broken so we are left in a situation where we always have to choose between one imperfection or another?
- Can you think of anything in nature or in human experience that remains untouched by the effects of sin?
- In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul describes the plight of humans in very start terms. he indicates we are spiritually dead, we are enslaved by the Devil, the world, and by our own natures and senses, and we are condemned. Do humans have any solution for any of these problems? How would this affect your appreciation of the presence of a Savior?
When looking at the plan of salvation, it is helpful to being to mind that there are several components to this plan.
- Think about the things that God has done irrespective of human effort of situation. What has God done to save humans whether they know it or react to it or not? These elements are sometimes known as the “objective” elements of salvation. They exist independent of human knowledge or action. What effect does learning of the objective elements have on you?
- What implications can be drawn from Revelation 13:8 about the point at which the plan of God to save lost humans was initiated?
One of the main motifs or systems by which salvation is illustrated and demonstrated in the Bible is the system of sacrifices that prevailed in ancient times for so many centuries.
- Can you envision the power and meaning of the symbolism of sacrifices? What do you think people learned and understood as the result of seeing and participating in a ritual that involved sacrifice? What do you think would happen if sacrifice were re-instituted?
- Jesus is cast as THE once-and-for-all sacrifice. By his humanity, he linked God to humans, and by his divinity he was able to make an adequate sacrifice. Is there a tension between Jesus and the Father in the plan of salvation?
- What do you think of the idea of substitution, letting one person die in the place of another? What does the death of Jesus indicate about the seriousness of Sin?
The process, and then the solution, of the plan of salvation is magnificent to contemplate. See if you can find verses that relate to the following:
- There is first the appearance of conviction of sin that leads a person to repentance.
- There is justification, the declaring of a person to be without culpability for their sins, followed by reconciliation, the restoration of a good relationship with God.
- There is sanctification and regeneration that involves a growth away from sin toward righteousness.
- There is glorification, the taking of people to be with God that includes the transformation of humans from their earthly and sinful selves to holy beings.
- There is the final eradication of sin and sinners so the universe is pristine once more.
The other part of the salvation plan is the “subjective” side, the side that calls for human response and effort and involvement. What might those elements be?
- What causes humans to make a favorable response to God?
- What is the proper human role in salvation? And if there is a human element to salvation, does that mean we are saved by our own doings? How would you resolve this possible problem?
- What responsibility do human have to collaborate with God toward their restoration? What do you think humans should do from day to day to enhance the process of their own movement toward God?
- What effects do you think repentance would have in the life of a person who comes to faith?
- At some point, everyone has to take the risk of believing and then relying on those beliefs. By the point of death, this becomes unavoidable for, at that point, we all have to rely on the belief systems we have come to trust in. What might the Christian faith offer you at a time where trust and belief is all you have?