Sunday’s sermon attempted to answer one of the (if not the) most important questions a human can ever ask and a Christian can ever understand: how can man, who by nature is sinful (Romans 3:10), the enemy of God (Romans 5:10), condemned (John 3:18) and living under God’s wrath (John 3:36), be justified with God?
To be justified means to be made righteous, acquitted and cleared from every accusation, and God has provided and offered to man a method whereby He is able to look upon him as if he had never sinned at all.
Saved by Works
The majority of people, and every religion other than Christianity, believe that God will accept those who are “good enough” or “do the best they can” or work to achieve ascending levels of spiritual success. Think along with these Scriptures to draw out three reasons that salvation cannot be by works. (Note: if you are a Christian you should dig in on these verses in order to be ready to speak truth in love to your friends, family, and other evangelism contacts.)
Saved by Faith
Christianity invites any type of person with any type of background to stop trying to earn God’s favor or spiritual peace, and instead to freely and humbly receive by faith what Jesus Christ has earned through His life, death, and resurrection. God’s rescue plan of salvation generously offers the needed forgiveness, peace, and goodness through the good work of Jesus as our substitute. Think along with these Scripture to explore and celebrate the meaning of justification by faith.
How are we actually justified? What happens to our sin?
How is salvation offered in these verses?
What are the results of being justified?
Ice Breaker: Name a time when you or someone you know saw a situation that prompted you to care for a stranger in some way.
Two primary attributes of God were repeatedly emphasized in Sunday’s sermon: God’s seeing and God’s caring.
When We Forget
The scene from Abraham and Sarah’s life that we studied in the sermon revealed the horrors of forgetting that God sees and cares for His people.
READ 16:1-6. Make a list of the various horrors occuring here when God is ignored or forgotten.
Here are the three horrors Pastor Thomas shared in the sermon.
1.Forgetting that God sees and cares leads to efforts to solve problems apart from God.
2.Forgetting that God sees and cares leads to listening to God-ignoring voices.
3.Forgetting that God sees and cares leas to men failing in their role of spiritual providers.
Finishing with Praise
Close in prayer reflecting on the various questions and answers that this study has stirred up.
How did other characters in the Scripture, besides Abraham, express their fear, anxiousness, or doubt to God…for good or bad?
God’s Fear Crushers
Pastor Thomas suggested three “fear crushers” that God used to reassure Abraham in Genesis 15. The second fear crusher was: God gives specific promises to stand on. That is what this sermon study will focus on. Below are the 11 New Testament chapters that were suggested for digging through to locate various promises God makes to believers.
John 14-17, Romans 8, Ephesians 1-2, 1 John 2-3, Revelation 21
1. Choose two or three of the chapters to work through. (I’d highly suggest making Romans 8 one of your selections.)
2. Read carefully through the chapters. Mark or highlight each promise or truth statement that you find.
3. After you complete your search go back through the list spending time to thoughtfully answer the following two questions:
Close in a period of prayer that includes confession of struggles with fear and doubt, and also celebration for the immense kindness and grace Jesus has delivered to us in His promises.
This study will have a different rhythm than normal. It focuses on Melchizedek’s prayer over Abram. Therefore prayer is added into this study often. Specifically, the study will weave questions and prayer four times.
The Prayer of Melchizedek
READ Genesis 14:17-20
Let’s focus more closely on Melchizedek’s words in v.19-20. There are four phrases, and the theme of each phrase can be mighty in the everyday life of the believer.
Phrase 1: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High”
Phrase 2: “Possessor of heaven and earth”
This term is a word picture used multiple times in Scripture to relate God as our source of life, ability, and joy in the trials of the day. The phrase is not just speaking of Him as the source of our origins, but as the present-tense possessor and daily-involved Creator in His Creation.
Phrase 3: “Blessed be God Most High”
Phrase 4: “Who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
Ice Breaker: What are you primary thoughts and feelings regarding this upcoming election?
In your estimation what has led to the two primary candidates being enabled to be nominated despite most of the population viewing them through a negative lens much of the time?
God’s People and Government
READ Romans 13:1-7.
God Establishes Governments
Government is For Good
God’s People Engaging Politically
READ 1 Peter 2:9-17.
Close in a time of prayerful worship and confession of any whining, grumbling, or other sins you have given space lately.