Paul makes a strong contrast between salvation by faith and salvation by works by pointing to the saving faith of Abraham.
Bibles, paper, pencils/pens
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Have someone ever told you something and your first response was, “That is really hard to believe!” Share your experience without revealing anything that might break a confidence. Why was it hard to believe what you heard?
- Place a chair in the center of your group and ask someone to sit in the chair. After the person is seated, say, “You exercised faith to sit in this chair. How does your belief in sitting in this chair compare with faith in trusting God’s message of grace to us?” Invite everyone to respond.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- Why is it difficult for many Adventists to believe the gospel message of salvation by faith alone?
- Thought Questions
Read Galatians 3:1-9. How does Paul teach justification (being made right with God) by faith in this passage?
- Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates that we are made right with God by the act of Another, not our own action.
- The Galatians first received the gospel (good news) through the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
- The faith of Abraham (a central figure for the Jews) is used to teach that we are saved by faith, not works.
- Jesus worked for our salvation. We should be like Jesus; therefore, we should work for salvation as well.
- Jews saw themselves as children of Abraham through the flesh. Paul said we are Abraham’s children by faith.
Read Galatians 3:10-14. In these verses, Paul speaks of the law. What do we learn about how the law relates to salvation?
- If we don’t keep the law, we are cursed.
- Since we don’t keep the law, we certainly are all cursed.
- We cannot receive salvation through keeping the law because we cannot keep the law.
- Jesus kept the law but became a curse by taking our sins.
- Salvation comes through a combination of faith in Christ and keeping the law.
Does the Old Testament teach the gospel—salvation by faith alone? Read the following texts and discuss how they relate to salvation.
Sometimes when people hear the gospel (saved by faith alone), they think, “That is nothing but cheap grace!” What do they mean?
- Being saved by faith alone leads people to spiritual laziness. They think, “I’m saved; I can live any way I want!”
- Grace is not cheap. It cost the life of Jesus Christ on the cross.
- Grace can be made cheap when we accept it on a shallow level and don’t allow it to break our hearts.
- True salvation (justification by grace through faith) leads to obedience.
- Saved by faith in Christ is fine, but eventually we’ve got to do something to help pay for our mess!
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: “I hate your guts! All you care about is if I get my chores done around the house! You don’t give a rip about me!” The door slams and your teenager storms out of the house. Then the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, saying, “You can learn about salvation by faith from your teen.” How?
- Option 2: Write a new verse for the old hymn “Amazing Grace.” Make it rhyme. Share it with your group. Include lessons you’ve learned from this study of Galatians.
- Option 3: Have someone stand by “the gates of heaven” (a door in your meeting room) and have a few group members walk up to the “gate.” The person at the gate asks, “Why should I let you into heaven?” Invite individuals to respond. Then ask the group, “How do these responses relate to what you’ve learned in today’s discussion?”
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Do you really believe in salvation by faith alone? Or do you hesitate, feeling there is some work you must do to earn God’s favor? Prayerfully reflect on these questions.
- Conclude by praying together as a group with short sentences or phrases, expressing gratitude to God for the gift of salvation that cannot be earned.