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Foundations Teacher's Guide11 Core Truths to Build Your Life On
By Tom Holladay Kay Warren
ZondervanCopyright © 2003 Tom Holladay Kay Warren
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSalvation Part 1 session 11
Life Change Objectives
To give you an understanding of God's gift of salvation that enables you to:
Love God more deeply for what he did for you.
Tell others more confidently what God can do for them.
Summary Teaching Outline
The Problem: Man's Need for Salvation
The nature of God The nature of man
The Provision: God's Solution to Sin
Three central truths about how we are saved Seven descriptions of salvation
1. Substitution: Jesus died in my place.
2. Justification: Jesus made me right with God.
3. Reconciliation: Jesus made peace with God possible.
4. Adoption: Jesus made me a part of God's family.
5. Redemption: Jesus purchased my salvation with his blood.
6. Propitiation: Jesus satisfied God's justice.
7. Forgiveness: Jesus sent my sins away from me.
Three aspects of salvation: past, present, and future
In Los Angeles the rivers have been encased in concrete and turned into flood channels leading to the ocean. When heavy rains come, these channels quickly fill with swiftly flowing water. From time to time someone falls into a channel, and the result is often fatal. The slippery concrete gives a person nothing to grab on to in the rapidly moving waters and no way to get out. Unless rescued, certain death awaits at the tunnels that lead to the sea. Those who fall in the water cannot rescue themselves-they can't even call out for help as they struggle to breathe. The only hope is for someone to see their plight and to call the emergency rescue team to lower ropes to get them out of that water.
This flood channel is a picture of the spiritual need of all mankind. Without God, we are all headed for certain disaster. We cannot save ourselves, no matter how great our desire or effort. The good news is: God sees our need and he sent someone to rescue us!
If I had to sum up all that the Bible says in one sentence, it would be this:
The major theme of the Bible is God's eternal plan to rescue us from our sin through Jesus' birth, his death on the cross, and his resurrection.
God knew from the beginning that his creation would need a Savior, so he set in motion all that would be necessary to accomplish the salvation of his children.
While the message of the cross is a familiar one to many, we must guard against attitudes of complacency, boredom, forgetfulness, and, most of all, "I've heard it before. "There are so many layers of truth about Christ's work on the cross that we can never come to the point where there is nothing more to learn.
It's easy when a subject like salvation is announced to lean back in our chair and think, "I have this one figured out." It seems much more easily understood than the Trinity of God or the divinity of Jesus. So we let our minds wander to the tasks we have in front of us tomorrow or maybe the situations we faced today, thinking, "This is one of the subjects I already understand."
When we do that, we're somewhat like the college student who, after one class in psychology, feels they can now understand every motivation of their parents and friends. A little knowledge becomes dangerous when it keeps us from looking deeper and knowing more. The more we understand about our salvation, the more we comprehend the greatness of God's love for us.
In the study today we will be concentrating on:
The problem: the need for salvation
The provision: the solution of salvation
In the next session we will look at:
The promise: the security of salvation
Discussion question 1 can be used here.
The Problem: Man's Need for Salvation
To understand man's need for salvation we must look at twothings: the nature of God and the nature of man.
The nature of God
We underestimate our need for a Savior because we underestimate who God is.
The nature of God cannot and will not allow what is evil to continue.
1. God is HOLY.
Read with me Isaiah 57:15 and Psalm 99:9. Circle the word "holy" each time it is used.
For this is what the high and lofty One says-he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."
Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.
Holy, you may remember from an earlier study, means to be separate, set apart, different. God is not like us. He is a God of perfection. And we are a people who struggle daily with our imperfections and sins.
Look at Habakkuk 1:13.
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. -Habakkuk 1:13
God is certainly aware of all of the evil in our world, and this verse reminds us that God cannot tolerate evil in his presence. It's amazing how we can fool ourselves into feeling a sense of moral superiority by our being tolerant of the sins of others. When we tolerate our sins and the sins of others, we are showing the worst kind of intolerance-we are being intolerant of the heart and the desires of God.
God cannot tolerate anything that is evil.
Look again at the word cannot. God cannot tolerate the presence of evil. God is repulsed by our sin. Sin is utterly offensive to all that he is.
The Bible often speaks of God as being offended by sin (Matt. 13:41-42; Deut. 4:25; Prov. 6:16-19). If we say that someone offends us, we usually mean they've been rude to us or hurt our feelings. When the Bible says God is offended by sin, it doesn't mean he's had his feelings hurt and is now in a corner having a pity party. It doesn't mean he'll get over his bad mood if you leave him alone for a while. It means God is justifiably angry because of our sin. Why? Because of his nature. Because of who he is.
2. God is RIGHTEOUS AND JUST.
Holiness has more to do with God's character.
Righteousness and justice have to do with God's dealings with mankind in relation to his character.
Because God is holy, he always deals with us with righteousness and justice.
Righteousness simply means that what God does is always right; he never makes a mistake. When God looks at my actions or behavior, he never judges me wrongly. He is always right on the money with his assessments. He sees me for who I really am every time!
God's justice is always fair and without vindictiveness. The so-called justice we see in many books, movies, and TV shows is motivated by anger and personal revenge. The angrier you are at the bad guys, the happier you are when they "get what they deserve." God's justice is not like that. God's justice grows out of the holiness of his character. It is a pure justice.
You and I can fudge on how we apply fairness. God cannot. The perfection of his character will not allow it. God said from the beginning that the penalty for sin would be separation from him and death. When we sin, it would be contrary to God's holy character for him to say, "We'll let this one go. I didn't really mean what I said about judgment."
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. -Psalm 116:5 The Lord is fair in everything he does, and full of kindness. -Psalm 145:17 (LB)
Notice in these verses that God's justice is linked to his compassion and to his kindness. Who would want a God who was not fair, who condemned one and blessed another simply based on chance or whim. It is comforting to know that God is just, but it is also sobering. Why? Because of the way we have treated God!
Look with me at the nature of man.
The nature of man
Man's nature is the exact opposite of God's. While God is holy, righteous, and just, man is unholy, unrighteous, and unjust. When God created us, he made us to be holy, but we became unholy. At the moment of mankind's fall in the Garden of Eden, everything changed.
1. Our nature: we are sinful.
The Bible records Adam and Eve's sinful choice to disobey God's instructions not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17; 3). Without knowing it, they unleashed the onslaught of evil and decay that permeates our world today. God cursed them and all of their offspring.
The Bible tells us God instructed Adam that he could eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden except from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Adam and Eve chose to disobey God's instructions (Gen. 3). Just like small children told not to touch Grandma's prized vase, they made a beeline for the one thing in the whole garden that was off-limits to them. Because of their decision to disobey, all mankind now is born with a sin nature. But we can't just blame Adam and Eve for our troubles.
2. Our choice: we sin.
God says that all of us are considered guilty because of our relationship to Adam and because of our own choices (Rom. 5:18-19; 3:10-18).
Romans 3:10-18 tells us there is no one righteous, not one! On top of the sinful nature we inherited from Adam, we all choose on our own to disobey God. Anyone who has children or remembers what it was like to be a child knows that you don't have to teach a child to misbehave. They do it all by themselves. As parents, we spend hours repeatedly teaching and training our children how to overcome their natural inclination to misbehave and disobey. The sin nature is within all of us, and when given the opportunity, we choose to sin even more. There's no room for feeling superior to Adam and Eve or for condemning them. All of us would have done exactly the same thing they did!
3. Our condition: we are lost (Luke 19:10).
Go back with me to the person in the flood channel. Spiritually, we're all in the rushing waters of the channel, headed for an eternity without God. Because spiritually we're all in the same lost condition, it's easy to fool ourselves into thinking it really isn't all that bad. We compare ourselves with others and think, "I'm doing as good as everyone around me." We're staying afloat, but we're headed toward destruction. We all are in desperate need of being rescued!
One of the reasons we fail to see our need for the Savior is our inability to clearly see the desperation of our situation. The consequences of being lost are deeper and more terrible than we can imagine. Look with me at some of what it means to be lost-realizing that these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Discussion question 2 can be used here.
A Closer Look
What Are the Consequences of Sin and Lostness?
Sentenced to physical and spiritual death (Gen. 3:19; John 3:18; Rom. 6:23)
Separated from God (Eph. 2:12)
Dominated and controlled by sin (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 6:6)
Spiritual blindness (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
Without understanding (Rom. 3:11)
Enemies of Christ (Matt. 12:30)
Objects of God's wrath (Eph. 2:3)
Considered children of the Devil (John 8:44)
The Bible portrays mankind's lostness as the most pitiful condition imaginable. Not only is our life on earth wasted as we live for self and selfish desires but the consequence is eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23; Luke 13:3; Matt. 25:46).
Those of us who have trusted Christ for salvation should get down on our knees and thank him every day for taking us out of our condition of sin. Some of you sitting here right now may very well still be in this condition of being lost. Most of the people you meet each day are lost, in need of salvation-the people you work with, your neighbors, maybe even your family members.
God is holy; we are sinful. God is just; we break God's commandments.
A holy and just God cannot say, "I feel benevolent today, so let's just pretend it never happened." He can't say, "I'll let you off just this one time."
Because he is holy. And he is just.
And this holy God loves us and wants to bring us back into a relationship with him. How can he do that? From our perspective it seems that his holiness would demand that he judge us for our sin, no matter how great his love for us. But God had a different plan, a plan more wonderful than we could ever imagine.
The Provision: God's Solution to Sin
God's solution is the last three words in this verse: faith in Jesus.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. -Romans 3:25-26
Circle "just" and "the one who justifies." That is how God solved this problem. He does not ignore or wink at our sin. Instead, he himself takes the just penalty for our sin through the willing sacrifice of Jesus. He justifies us by taking the penalty for us.
Do you ever find yourself taking your salvation for granted? It's all too common for us to think with greater joy about the occurrences of our daily lives than we do about our eternal salvation. Why do we do that? One reason is that we don't see-we can't see while we are on this earth-the depth of what happens when we are saved. We don't see how lost and in need of God we are. Before we become Christians we tend to think of ourselves as "almost there" when it comes to a relationship with God. The truth is, our sins have separated us from God by a distance that couldn't be measured in light years!
There are three central truths about salvation that every one of us needs to have cemented deep in our hearts. If you misunderstand any of these truths, you will misunderstand how you and I are saved. Understand these truths and you will not only understand your own salvation, but you can be a person who can be used by God to help many, many people find a saving faith in Jesus.
Three central truths about how we are saved
1. Salvation is not by works but by GRACE.
Read with me Ephesians 2:8-9.
Excerpted from Foundations Teacher's Guide by Tom Holladay Kay Warren Copyright © 2003 by Tom Holladay Kay Warren. Excerpted by permission.
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