Genesis 15:6; 2 Samuel 11; 12; Romans 3:20-23, 31; 4:1-17; Galatians 3:19; 1 John 3:4
It’s so difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that salvation is a gift, not something we earn. We can never earn it because Jesus has already paid for it.
Paper, pencils, blindfold, various obstacles
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
A. Blindfold one person and give him or her four quarters. Set various obstacles on the floor around the room. Spin the person in circles. Standing on the opposite side of the room, guide the person—by voice instructions only—to where you are standing. If the person bumps into an obstacle, he or she is out. If the person thinks he or she is headed for an obstacle, a quarter can be paid to another class member who can guide the blindfolded person to a safe position. Take turns.
B. Discuss how this game parallels trying to “pay” our way into heaven by works rather than having faith and listening to Jesus guide us.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
A. Forget what you’ve been told by authority figures (parents, teachers, authors, pastors, etc.). What do the Old and New Testaments clearly teach us about justification and the law?
B. Thought Questions
Read Romans 4:1-8. How does this disprove the idea that the God of the Old Testament—the One who gave the Ten Commandments—was a harsh God who judged people by their works?
- Abraham was justified simply by believing.
- David said that through God, transgressions are covered and sins are forgiven.
- David promised that God would never count anyone’s sins against him or her.
- This text can’t stand alone to prove that we are justified by faith only.
- Paul beautifully states that payment for work is wages, but salvation is a gift.
Read Romans 4:14-17. How do these verses confirm that even in the Old Testament, God did not judge men and woman by their works?
- The law brings wrath, and no one can fully obey the law.
- If works truly saved them, their faith—their foundation—would be worthless.
- No one can be saved through works, but all can be saved through faith because faith is a gift.
- This was written before the Ten Commandments; afterward, God expected more from people.
- God used Abraham in the Old Testament to prepare the way for Jesus’ death in the Israelites’ place.
Read Galatians 3:21-23 and Romans 3:20. According to these texts, what is the relationship between law and faith? Is it still necessary to keep the law?
- Righteousness can’t come by the law because no one can keep the law.
- The whole world is a prisoner to sin.
- Jesus was the key that released us from that prison.
- God’s law isn’t a burden when we keep it out of love rather than out of fear.
- The law makes us conscious of what sin is.
Read 1 John 2:3-6. How does our view of the law reflect our relationship with Jesus?
- If we obey the law of Christ, we’ve truly come to know the Savior fully.
- We’re lying when we say we know Jesus but continue to disobey; to love is to obey.
- Too many people sentimentalize this text. Obeying the law is a must if we want eternal life.
- We are complete in Christ only when we obey Scripture.
- Walking as Jesus did is obeying the law.
Applying the Message of the Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. After several minutes, report back to the larger group with your findings.
Option 1: Make a list of Bible heroes from the Old and New Testaments. Briefly discuss their lives. Realize that many of their sins were recorded so that we could learn from them what not to do. God forgave these people, and we look forward to seeing them in heaven. Discuss what you can learn from these Bible heroes.
Option 2: Discuss what you heard while growing up about salvation through works. Did it make you fearful or insecure? How do you feel about it now as an adult?
Option 3: Do you know someone who feels doomed by a past sinful life? Share with that person in a letter or visit the good news in the Bible texts in this lesson. Search the Bible for even more texts that will encourage him or her.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
A. Make a private list of the sins you’ve committed this past week. In a silent prayer, thank God that you are justified by faith as a free gift!
B. If you struggle with “righteousness by works,” stop and ask yourself why this concept is difficult for you. Now read the Bible texts in this lesson and accept them as evidence that you are saved by grace. Read these verses often—especially when you doubt.
Next Week's Scripture Focus: