Bible Study Series: The Need for Forgiveness (6 Parts)

Christian Life Resources


Introduction

  • Galatians 3:10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
  • Romans 3:20-23 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Objective and Universal Response to Sin

  • 1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
  • Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
  • John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
  • John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
  • Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:19 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
  • 1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

The Subjective Element of Forgiveness that Saves

  • Philippians 3:7-11 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • Galatians 3:26-27 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, {27} for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
  • Romans 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.
  • Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
  • Mark 16:15-16 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The Characteristics of Faith

  • John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted itnot as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
  • Romans 4:20-21 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
  • Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
  • Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
  • Ephesians 6:14-17 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Change in Life That Comes Via Faith

  • James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
  • John 5:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
  • Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
  • Galatians 5:24-25 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
  • Titus 2:14 [Jesus] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
  • Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

The Reality of Hypocrites

  • Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
  • Isaiah 1:15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.

Presumptuous Sinning

  • Romans 6:1-14 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
  • Hebrews 10:26-31 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Luther on This Matter

Genuine Faith Will Break Controlling Power of Sin

“Therefore if formerly you were an adulterer, a miser, or an envious and malicious person, all these evils are now to be dead, mortified by Christ. The benefit of this victory of Christ is conferred on you through faith in His sacrifice; therefore these evils should henceforth cease in you. If this does not happen, you may not boast of Christ and faith; for although He has died for you and your sins lay on His neck and should be dead, still you are not rid of them, because you do not desire to be rid of them, since you do not apprehend Christ with His treasure through faith or follow His example in your life and actions. Now you will say: Indeed, you yourself teach that we are all sinners and that no saint on earth lives without sin; for we must confess this article: ‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins’ and must pray: ‘Forgive us our trespasses.’ Answer: You are right, to be sure. You will most certainly never attain sinless perfection here on earth; otherwise you would have no further need of faith and Christ. But this does not mean that you should continue as you were before you obtained the remission of sins through faith. I am speaking of such sins as you knowingly and willingly continue to commit and on account of which your own conscience rebukes and condemns you. These sins should be dead in you, that is, you should be found, not ruled by them but ruling over them, resisting them, and beginning to mortify them. And if you occasionally faith or stumble, you should soon rise to your feet again, lay hold of forgiveness, and begin anew to mortify your sins.” (W 21, 312 f-E 8, 259 f- SL 12, 561)

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 1 (Student’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. These Bible studies will address the subject of forgiveness and how we receive it.

Read the Following Passages:

Galatians 3:10 – All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

Romans 3:20-23 – Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is meant when the Galatians passage refers to all who rely on observing the law?

2. What is the Book of the Law (see Deuteronomy 27:26 and Jeremiah 11:3-4)?

3. What does it mean to say someone is cursed (see Galatians 3:13)?

4. What does the law accomplish in us?

5. What makes us in need of forgiveness?

6. What is the status of all people before the law?

7. What is the result of sin?

8. Who needs forgiveness?

9. Discuss the role of sin even in the lives of “good” or “kind” people.

10. How can we communicate this message without sounding self-righteous?

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 1 (Leader’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. These Bible studies will address the subject of forgiveness and how we receive it.

Read the Following Passages:

Galatians 3:10 – All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

Romans 3:20-23 – Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is meant when the Galatians passage refers to all who rely on observing the law?
This is a reference to legalists. Legalists tend to look at actions and obedience to rules and regulations more than they consider the attitude of the heart.

2. What is the Book of the Law (see Deuteronomy 27:26 and Jeremiah 11:3-4)?
This is a reference to the laws given by God. In its narrow sense it refers directly to the entire law given by God through Moses. In its wider sense it is a reference to all of the laws and principles contained in Scripture.

3. What does it mean to say someone is cursed (see Galatians 3:13)?
That status of being cursed is pronounced by God. It is a status of being completely separated from God. People are cursed when judged to go to hell. People feel cursed when they feel they are left alone and without God.

4. What does the law accomplish in us?
It makes us conscious of our own sinfulness. While the law is the expression of God’s will for our lives it is often the greater reminder of how often we fail to do God’s will.

5. What makes us in need of forgiveness?
Sin makes us in need of forgiveness. Some people that by becoming or remaining unchurched you don’t have to bother with all of that “sin stuff.” But the reality is that sin is not exclusive to church goers or members of a religious denomination.

6. What is the status of all people before the law?
The law clearly designates every man, woman and child a sinner.

7. What is the result of sin?
The most consistent and bitter reminder of sin is death. Even a outward appearance of being good cannot hide the ultimate consequence of sin that all people eventually die.

8. Who needs forgiveness?
Because all sin all are in need of forgiveness. Even the most despicable of people need to have their sins forgiven or else face an eternity of destruction in hell.

9. Discuss the role of sin even in the lives of “good” or “kind” people.
Focus on the idea that even the kindest people, without forgiveness, face eternal punishment in hell.We sometimes find it easy to characterized serial killers and other cruel people as certainly in need of the forgiveness of sins. This discussion through end up with the conclusion that no one escapes the consequence of sin not even the good people.

10. How can we communicate this message without sounding self-righteous?
In our pregnancy care centers we must bring the point of sin home without sounding like we have all of this solved and they have much yet to do. We need to share the need of forgiveness with others but do it in such away that acknowledges the need of forgiveness begins with me. Also, discuss how to witness to your own need of forgiveness without making it a personal confession and making yourself the subject of the conversation. It is good to confess sin, but humbly correcting others does not call for a detailed confession of one’s own sins in every circumstance.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive us for the times when we may overlook our own need for forgiveness. Forgive us for failing to remember that all people need this forgiveness and that it is my job and the job of all Christians to minister with your word to others. Make us truly humble in sin, grateful in Christ, and loving towards others to bring them the message of forgiveness. We ask this in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 2 (Student’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the second in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and how we receive it.

Read the Following Passages:

1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

2 Corinthians 5:19 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is God’s desire for all people?

2. When God issued the marching orders for his people to preach the good news to whom are we to go?

3. When John the Baptist saw Jesus how did he identify him?

4. If John the Baptist were here today, and you could ask him, “for whose sins did Jesus die?” what do you think would be his response?

5. When God sent Jesus what did that act tell us about his love?

6. For whom did God send Jesus?

7. When Jesus paid the price for sin for whom was he bringing life?

8. What does “reconciling the world to himself” mean?

9. Did Jesus die for the sins of unbelievers?

10. Can we say that people go to hell because Jesus did not bring them the forgiveness of sins?

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 2 (Leader’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the second in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and how we receive it.

Read the Following Passages:

1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

2 Corinthians 5:19 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is God’s desire for all people?
God has not premeditated to send people to hell. As a loving God it is his desire that all might be saved.

2. When God issued the marching orders for his people to preach the good news to whom are we to go?
God wants us to go into all the world in bringing the good news. This was a command to go not just to the nice ones, pretty ones, smart ones, genetically pure ones, popular ones, or rich ones. This was a command to go into all the world to all people.

3. When John the Baptist saw Jesus how did he identify him?
John did not see Jesus as just some gifted teacher or great moral leader. He specifically identified him as the one who takes away the sins of the world.

4. If John the Baptist were here today, and you could ask him, “for whose sins did Jesus die?” what do you think would be his response?
John saw the mission of Jesus to be of global consequence. He would say that Jesus died for the sins of the world.

5. When God sent Jesus what did that act tell us about his love?
The John 3:16 passage is first a testimony to the depth of God’s love. Before we can even talk about the target of that love we cannot help but be amazed at this love which is so great that it would sacrifice and only Son.

6. For whom did God send Jesus?
Knowing God’s love runs so deep there is special privilege and pleasure to be taken in knowing that God’s love was for the world.

7. When Jesus paid the price for sin for whom was he bringing life?
He was bringing life for all people. The sacrifice of Jesus was absolute and complete for the sins of everyone.

8. What does “reconciling the world to himself” mean?
To reconcile means to “restore to friendship or harmony.” We must never lose sight of the fact that sin brought a great chasm between God and his creation. Through Christ we are brought back into harmony with God.

9. Did Jesus die for the sins of unbelievers?
Yes. The “world” is all inclusive of believers and unbelievers alike.

10. Can we say that people go to hell because Jesus did not bring them the forgiveness of sins?
No. Objectively speaking, there will be no one in hell for whom Jesus did not die for. The reason some still go to hell even though Jesus died for their sins will be the subject of our next Bible Study.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we are awed by your great sacrifice of your own Son for our sins and the sins of the world. Forgive us for forgetting the terrible cost of sin and instill in us a greater appreciation for the universal gift of forgiveness brought by your Son’s sacrifice on the cross. In his name we pray. Amen.

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 3 (Student’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the third in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and how we receive it.

Read the Following Passages:

Philippians 3:7-11 – But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.

Galatians 3:26-27 – You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Romans 3:22 – This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.

Romans 3:28 – For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Romans 4:5 – However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Mark 16:15-16 – He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Discussion Questions:

1. What does it mean to be “righteous” before God?

2. Did Paul think he was able to earn righteousness?

3. How did Paul feel his righteousness came before God?

4. What is “grace”?

5. If salvation comes by faith why is it that we can’t boast about it?

6. How do we attain the title “sons of God”?

7. How does the declaration of “righteousness” come to a person?

8. What would be another word to use for “faith”?

9. What is the criteria for being saved?

10. Objectively speaking, Jesus died for the sins of the world? How is this forgiveness translated into salvation for us?

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 3 (Leader’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the third in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and how we receive it.

Read the Following Passages:

Philippians 3:7-11 – But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.

Galatians 3:26-27 – You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Romans 3:22 – This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.

Romans 3:28 – For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Romans 4:5 – However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Mark 16:15-16 – He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Discussion Questions:

1. What does it mean to be “righteous” before God?
“Righteous” is to be in the state of being “right” before God. Remember that our sins separate us from God because we do not live up to his absolute demand of being perfect because of sin.

2. Did Paul think he was able to earn righteousness?
Paul knew that he could not make himself “right” before God by obeying the law. In fact, elsewhere, Paul acknowledged that through the law all that happened was that he had an increasing awareness of his own sinfulness.

3. How did Paul feel his righteousness came before God?
Because of sin Paul knew he couldn’t earn righteousness. He professed that he was “right” before God by faith in Christ.

4. What is “grace”?
“Grace” is what we learned in catechism class to be “undeserved love.” That means God loved us even when we did nothing to deserve that love.

5. If salvation comes by faith why is it that we can’t boast about it?
While we often repeat the Biblical passage that we are saved through faith and not by works we sometimes fall into the error of thinking that it was at least a good thing we believed — as though believing was the ultimate good work on our part. But if salvation comes by faith, and we therefore did nothing for it because we have nothing to boast of through our own efforts, then faith itself must be the ultimate gift of God.

6. How do we attain the title “sons of God”?
It is “faith” which brings us the status of being God’s children.

7. How does the declaration of “righteousness” come to a person?
As noted earlier, it comes not by doing enough good things (that is, we do not earn it) but it comes by having faith.

8. What would be another word to use for “faith”?
In Paul’s words of Romans 4:5 he equates “faith” with the word “trust.”

9. What is the criteria for being saved?
Jesus said that a person is saved who believes (by faith) and is baptized.

10. Objectively speaking, Jesus died for the sins of the world? How is this forgiveness translated into salvation for us?
It is an objective reality that Jesus died for our sins. Where his death benefits us is when we accept it by the miracle of faith.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive us for the times we think heaven is ours because we earned it. Forgive us for suggesting that our better lives merit salvation. Instill in us a stronger faith that is not tempted to assume credit for that which we have not done. Thank you for the miracle of faith which has convinced us that Jesus is our Savior and by that faith we have eternal life. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 4 (Student’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the fourth in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and the faith which makes it our own.

Read the Following Passages:

John 17:3 – Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 – And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

Romans 4:20-21 – Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Romans 10:17 – Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Ephesians 6:14-17 – Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

1 Corinthians 12:3 – Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 – But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions:

1. What did John mean by “Now this is eternal life”?

2. When one believes God how does he view God’s Word?

3. What happens when you are strengthened in faith?

4. What does the concept of a “strengthening faith” have to say about the nature of faith in general?

5. Define faith.

6. How does faith come to us?

7. What does faith enable you to do?

8. How is one able to profess Jesus to he his Lord?

9. Who is the one that creates faith?

10. How are you brought to faith and kept there?

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 4 (Leader’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the fourth in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and the faith which makes it our own.

Read the Following Passages:

John 17:3 – Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 – And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

Romans 4:20-21 – Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Romans 10:17 – Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Ephesians 6:14-17 – Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

1 Corinthians 12:3 – Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 – But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions:

1. What did John mean by “Now this is eternal life”?
The essence and critical component of possessing eternal life is to know God and his son, Jesus Christ as our Savior.

2. When one believes God how does he view God’s Word?
Faith in God includes and acceptance of God’s Word as more than the writings of men but as it is actually is — the Word of God.

3. What happens when you are strengthened in faith?
As your faith is strengthened your conviction about all that God reveals about himself grows.

4. What does the concept of a “strengthening faith” have to say about the nature of faith in general?
Being a believer does not mean that all of a sudden your are convinced beyond all shadow of doubt about everything God has said about himself. We may still question and doubt. See, for example, the man whose child was ill and professed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). See also Philippians 3:15.

5. Define faith.
Faith is that miraculous ability God has given us to believe that which we normally would not believe. Faith is that power we have to be sure about things which normally would rest only as hope, and to be certain about things that we do not see. All of this confounds our natural of thinking. That is why, in 1 Corinthians 1 the message of the cross is called “foolishness” to unbelievers. Faith defies natural reason.

6. How does faith come to us?
The instrument by which faith is worked in our hearts is the “message,” namely the Word of God as it reveals the full account of our salvation through Christ.

7. What does faith enable you to do?
When the devil launches his most vicious attacks we are able to withstand them because of this faith which acts like a shield.

8. How is one able to profess Jesus to he his Lord?
The ability to profess Jesus from the heart as our Lord and Savior is because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

9. Who is the one that creates faith?
It is by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Sanctifying is the process of making one holy and pure.

10. How are you brought to faith and kept there?
As we confess in the Third Article, “The Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel.”

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for assuming credit for faith in our lives. Accept our humble thanks for performing this greatest of all miracles in our hearts. By the power of your Holy Spirit we believe that Jesus died for our sins. In his name we pray. Amen.

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 5 (Student’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the fifth in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and the faith which makes it our own. In particular, this study will examine the impact faith and the knowledge of forgiven sins has on a person’s life.

Read the Following Passages:

James 2:17 – In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

John 5:3 – This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 – For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Galatians 5:24-25 – Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Titus 2:14 – [Jesus] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 3:8 – This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Discussion Questions:

1. What accompanies faith as a natural by-product?

2. What would God have us to do with regard to his commands?

3. Faith changes us. How does Paul describe the change?

4. As those created by God and then instilled with faith, what is our mission?

5. What does it mean to live a “holy life”?

6. What does it mean to say we “live in the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”?

7. Discuss some of the things that seem mundane but are to be done to God’s glory.

8. The change from faith becomes more profound as it grows. What one profound thing does faith instill in us?

9. How can we devote ourselves to doing what is good?

10. In summary, describe how faith changed your life… and how change is yet desired.

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 5 (Leader’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the fifth in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and the faith which makes it our own. In particular, this study will examine the impact faith and the knowledge of forgiven sins has on a person’s life.

Read the Following Passages:

James 2:17 – In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

John 5:3 – This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 – For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Galatians 5:24-25 – Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Titus 2:14 – [Jesus] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 3:8 – This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Discussion Questions:

1. What accompanies faith as a natural by-product?
James suggests that while we cannot earn our salvation by doing good works, once we have saving faith it is natural for us to want to do good works. It is like showing appreciation to someone who has shown unexpected and undeserved kindness.

2. What would God have us to do with regard to his commands?
God’s Word is the expression of his will. He would have us to follow it.

3. Faith changes us. How does Paul describe the change?
Paul says we are a new creation. We have literally been made over. We are different because by faith our destiny is different. No longer is hell in our eternity but heaven.

4. As those created by God and then instilled with faith, what is our mission?
We are created to do good works. Good works, by the way, are defined by God and include the Christian mission of being a shining light of love and proclamation of God’s Word in a dark world of sin.

5. What does it mean to live a “holy life?”
“Holy” means to be without sin. Paul once observed, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). As we have been made holy by Christ, now live as holy people.

6. What does it mean to say we “live in the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”?
We have been brought to faith and literally live eternally by the work of the Holy Spirit who instilled faith in our hearts. Now, the encouragement is, to live us to what the Spirit has made us. In the previous question we looked at Paul’s words in Philippians. They are essentially the plea to live as the perfection we have been made by the Holy Spirit. By faith instilled in us by the Spirit God sees us with the sinlessness of Jesus Christ.

7. Discuss some of the things that seem mundane but are to be done to God’s glory.
The Christian is to have God on his mind at all times. He is to observe his own actions to assure that no shame is brought to the name of God but instead our actions become arrows always pointing to heaven (see Matthew 5).

8. The change from faith becomes more profound as it grows. What one profound thing does faith instill in us?
The “eager” desire to do what is good. Faith creates a desire and joy in doing good things.

9. How can we devote ourselves to doing what is good?
One of the best ways to do good is to study the example of Christ himself. He was completely loving and completely sacrificial. He was perfect in living to the glory of God.

10. In summary, describe how faith changed your life…and how change is yet desired.
Measure the progress so far, and frankly evaluate the distance yet to travel.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord to thee; take my moments and my day, let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my love, my Lord, I pour — at thy feet its treasure store; take myself, and I will be, ever, only, all, for thee. Amen. (LH 400)

 

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 6 (Student’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the sixth in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and the faith which makes it our own. In particular, this study will examine the sad reality that there are hidden unbelievers and that even many believers may be tempted to sin, taking for granted the forgiveness earned for us in Christ.

Read the Following Passages:

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Isaiah 1:15 – When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.

Romans 6:1-14 – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Hebrews 10:26-31 – If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Discussion Questions:

1. What do Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 tell us about all who use God’s name?

2. Does Matthew 7 suggest we are saved by works? (See Ephesians 2:8-9 & James 2:17)

3. Does praying to God suggest faith?

4. Will all prayers to God be heard?

5. Shall I continue to sin knowing I have forgiveness already and why not?

6. When we intentionally sin what are we doing to Christ?

7. How do these passages apply directly to your life?

The Need for Forgiveness – Part 6 (Leader’s Guide)

As Christians carry out their mission of sharing God’s Word it is important that we understand there is a universal need for forgiveness. This is the sixth in our series of Bible Studies on the subject of forgiveness and the faith which makes it our own. In particular, this study will examine the sad realty that there are hidden unbelievers and that even many believers may be tempted to sin, taking for granted the forgiveness earned for us in Christ.

Read the Following Passages:

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Isaiah 1:15 – When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.

Romans 6:1-14 – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Hebrews 10:26-31 – If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Discussion Questions:

1. What do Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 tell us about all who use God’s name?
It is possible for some people to talk and sound very much like a believer but if his heart is not right with God by faith, he is only a show. This is not a contradiction to 1 Corinthians 12:3. You will notice that in the Corinthians passage the discussion centers on the work of the Holy Spirit. The point is that faith, which compels us to proclaim Jesus is Lord, is the work of the Holy Spirit and not our own. Matthew 7 talks about people putting on a false front. That is why they are called “hypocrites” which means “hidden unbelievers.”

2. Does Matthew 7 suggest we are saved by works? (See Ephesians 2:8-9 & James 2:17)
Faith is a 100% gift from God and not earned by anything we do. But as James points out, faith naturally compels the believer to do good works and those works are the visible testimony to the faith in the heart.

3. Does praying to God suggest faith?
God has committed himself to hear the prayers of believers (John 14:13-14). But some people, with wrong motives, will offer prayer to God. Those wrong motive may betray a false faith in which prayer is more of a show than a heartfelt communication with God (See James 4:2-3).

4. Will all prayers to God be heard?
While God has pledged to hear the prayers of his children it is clear from Isaiah 1 that God will not hear the prayers of those who do not come with the proper motive or with genuine faith.

5. Shall I continue to sin knowing I have forgiveness already and why not?
The beauty of God’s forgiveness is that even though we do continue to sin we have forgiveness. But forgiveness benefits us through faith. Faith is more than a statement but a heartfelt conviction that I belong to God. My actions represent God and my life is to point to God. Because faith manifests itself in actions that are to be pleasing the God the believer will never set out to sin presuming upon the love of God as though forgiveness now becomes a selfish right for us to presume for personal pleasure.

6. When we intentionally sin what are we doing to Christ?
In Hebrews we are told that by intentionally sinning we “trample the Son of God under foot.” The writer further explains that we treat Christ’s holy blood as though it were and unholy thing. And finally, the writer says to intentionally sin we insult the Holy Spirit which gave us faith.

7. How do these passages apply directly to your life?
The first two passages are a reminder for us not to be deceived by everyone who is praying or calls our “Lord, Lord.” There are hypocrites and therefore we should be on our guard. The second two passages are a caution to us not to take for granted God’s gift of forgiveness but to seriously fight sin in our lives.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, alert us to false prophets so that we are not deceived. Forgive us for taking the forgiveness of our sins for granted and instill in us a desire to live holy lives in reflecting your love through Christ. In his name we pray. Amen.

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