Here is the image of our loving and graces God who transcends the bounders of our sin to give us His Grace. This grace saves us but does so much more. It gives us the joy to endure the harshness of life. He gives us the hope to persevere and make our life purposeful and meaningful. He does this with His Spirit and His love! He gives us access to Himself. It is God's abiding love that keeps us attached in grace and purpose for His glory. Because we alone would quickly fall away into our sin, and forget who we are in Christ, just as the Israelites did throughout the OT, especially in Judges 2. The Holy Spirit is the glue who keeps us sticking together. He takes us who are His enemies by our sin and reconciles us so we are no longer enemies rather His friends (John 14-15).
Our service must not be guided by our desires or our needs. When we think "we are all that"(holy) we are of no use to Him. All we do is isolate ourselves into a sub-culture when God calls us to be salt and light. Our goal is not to serve, but to be His children, and that devotion will lead us to serve. To keep our eyes on Him, to keep our mind on Him!
· Trials work in favor for us (8:28) and not against us. They actually promote spiritual growth!
· Our justification is no escape from bad things happening. It is a starting point to build and develop character, patience, and dependence on God's grace, as Abraham by faith; we are accountable for our choices.
· Grace was not an after-thought of God, but a part of the plan all along. This Passage is also about "Irresistible GRACE," the "I" of TULIP.
· God has always dealt with people from Adam to the Patriarchs, prophets and all, with grace. The O.T. helps us understand the conflict and limit of the law. We are all in Adam, our first birth we had no control, but we had to learn (John 16:33).
· Love is that Christ died in our place. The love that flows from us is not from us, but from God through His Spirit (1 Cor. 13). We cannot prove love, we can only respond and obey it.
· All this happened in God's timing (John 17:1; Acts: 2:23; Gal. 4:4), thus we need to trust God in His timing and not ours.
· Christ will meet us in our deepest need.
· Love is not from our nature. The response is to put Jesus first (John 15:12; 21:17; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; 3:9; 3 John 7) and let Him work in our lives. Thus, God will bring us to people and situations we do not like for us to learn true love.
· Love is also disciplined, constant, and spontaneous.
· Discipleship is our response to His love, to be passionate and obedient to our Lord.
· The created order has been restored in the righteousness of Christ (John 10:15), as we are a totally new creation ("Solus Christus", by Christ alone).
· Atonement means covering, that Christ covered us with His righteousness, so God does not see our sin, and cannot be contaminated by us. Atonement in the O.T. was done by animal sacrifice which covered their sins, but did not put them away as Christ does with us.
· Our relationship with God is through Christ. Christ's redemption is that He took away our sins and preserved us in faith for God's glory.
· Since not all are saved, Christ's redemption is not for everyone this is "Limited Atonement," if it were then there would be universal salvation, that is, everyone regardless of faith or belief would be saved (John 6:35-57; 10:15-18; 27-29; 11:51-52; Eph. 1:3-14; Gal.2:20; 3:13-14; 4:4; 5:1; 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 John 4:9-10; Rev.1:4-6; 5:9-10; 22:17). Christ was not limited in what He could do with His Godhood and power, His redemption is for the "elect", those foreknown for God's purpose.
· Our thinking of justice cannot be a factor to an all knowing and all powerful God.
All this is a result of His sacrifice of redemption, His permanence, and His love for us. He lived, died, and rose again for you and me! All we are to do is trust and obey Him, and as we continue in this endeavor, He gives us even more empowerment for enduring life and performing ministry along with His special favor and peace! Even if we do not see Jesus, He sees us, loves us, and helps us persevere. This may seem unattainable or even unfathomable when we are under stress or the hostile occupation of life. However, we can do this because we have access to His empowerment; we are literally kept by God through faith. As we grow in our faith, we become even more precious to God and He will preserve us through trials and life.
Our character and what He is doing in our lives is our true treasures. And this richness is so much more tangible and impressive than what the world offers. To take this hope to new levels and apply it with passion and conviction, we have to see who we are in Him. We must be careful that our faith is developed from God's nature and not ours! This hope will not just fuel our liberty but also our worship. Because we praise God for what He has done. Do you realize what He has done in you?
1. How can you identify Christ's interests in others over against our own interests?
2. Why is it that a lot of evangelism and mission efforts fail besides people's objections, and the regular excuses that they use to turn away from our Lord?
3. What is the factor that makes people not respond because we as the church are sometimes guided by our desires and needs?
4. When we think "we are all that"(holy) we are of no use to Him. Why?
5. Why do some Christian groups and some denominations isolate themselves into a sub-culture when God calls us to be salt and light?
6. What is the prime goal or "prime directive" (for our Star Trek fans) for the Christian faith?
7. How can, and why do trials work in favor of us (8:28) and not against us?
8. How can trials promote spiritual growth?
9. A lot of Christian's think bad things happen only to those in sin or those that have little faith. That if you have enough faith you will be blessed only. Is this Biblical, if so why, if not why?
10. Can you think of an example of grace in the OT?
11. We may not have had any direct control over our original sin condition since we were not there (Adam & Eve represented all humanity, and if anyone else in all of human history were there in their place the same choices would eventually have been made) what do we have control of?
12. When you have gone (or will) through trials, do you blame God? Do you think they are a personal attack against you?
13. How can you see trials and problems as a means to allow God to work in you in a deep way to be of better use to Him, and for others?
14. What do you gain when you have gone through a trial?
15. Why does God need to use suffering to build us up?
16. When is a time that Christ has met you in your deepest need?
17. The response of love is to put Jesus first, so how can you do this?
18. As a totally new creation, how can you live your life so it reflects that it has been restored in the righteousness of Christ?
19. How can you explain 'Atonement' to an unbeliever?
20. We must be careful that our faith is developed from God's nature and not ours! So how can you do this?
©1998, 2001, 2004, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org