The river had been well past flood stage for days, and as darkness settled on the streets and rooftops of the city that night, the wind picked up and howled its fearful message that destruction had arrived. A board worked its way loose outside Sam’s apartment on second floor and crashed against the street light. A short display of fireworks and then darkness. Sam could feel the floor sinking and then rising again, his knees giving way as he fell and grasped a piece of
flooring that dropped with him to the mud of the earth below.
Sam could hear the screams of terrified people. When the lightning flashed he could glimpse some of them flailing their arms against the weight of the water. But it wasn’t the water alone. It was the load of chair arms and bed frames,
bicycle wheels and car doors, and people along with the load of junk and filth
and human and animal waste being carried by the rushing river.
“Save me, God!” Sam cried. “Save me!”
Just then, when he felt his throat was too raw to utter even a whisper, Sam saw a large steel ladder being lowered to the dirt and water in the space next to him. “Get on the ladder!” a voice shouted to him. “Get on!”
For a split second Sam thought about the money, the almost-new car, the books, the closet full of clothing—all possessions he knew were in his apartment, now twisted in rubble above him.
Then he grabbed the ladder, holding on tight to a rung above him and began pulling himself up to the next rung.
“No!” shouted the voice. “Don’t climb. Just hold on!”
In due time Sam was rescued and he picked up his life and went on, but he never forgot that experience when the ladder was extended to him. From that moment on he never doubted for a moment that to be rescued from the muck and corruption of sin, he had to hold on, all the time, to God, the source of all power and all love.
Discussion Questions for Justification by Faith Alone, Oct 22, 2011.
- Working our way. We sometimes say that a student who held down
a job and made enough to pay tuition and other costs of going to school was “working his way” through school. Isn’t that our natural sense of what happens in our lives? We work things out, we work our way through. What do we think of someone who manages to obtain what he or she wants without doing any work? What did Paul think of Peter when he (Peter) made up his mind that it would be wrong to share a meal with a second-class Christian who hadn’t been circumcised? Wasn’t Peter just trying to “work things out” in his own spiritual life? Don’t you and I do the same thing in our lives?
- Gentile sinners. How disturbed do you think Paul was about
the attitude of his fellow minister, Peter, towards the Gentiles? Why? Don’t we as Adventists insist that people accept the Sabbath, the state of the dead, tithing, and other practices before they can join our church? What do you think Paul would say about this? Would he say “It doesn’t matter”? or “It matters, but faith in God is more important”? What is our message today to Christians who do not accept all of our beliefs? (A) Believe as we do or be lost; (B) Choose the beliefs you prefer; (C) Put your trust in God, and He will lead you; (D) [Supply your own answer.]
- The works of the law. Is there more than one “law” we need
to understand to fully comprehend Galatians? In his writings, why does Paul speak of the ceremonial and the spiritual law as one law? Or does he? What do the two laws have in common? Do you belong to a Commandment-keeping church? Do you keep the Ten Commandments? How much effort does it take to meet all the requirements of the law? Do we meet those requirements, have we given up trying, or do we even understand what those requirements are?
- The Source. Can your neighbors and fellow workers and friends tell that you’re filled with Christian love? If you aren’t sure, does that indicate that you’re missing something? How much faith do you have? How much faith does Jesus have? How much faith is needed to live a righteous life? Are we saved by our faith? Or by Christ’s faith? Can faith exist in itself without being linked to something? In other words, is faith a goal in itself?
- What is faith? When you see your lesson guide boldly ask, “What is faith exactly?” what is your emotional response? What does the secular press mean by “faith-based” schools or hospitals? Do you want to have a faith-based walk with Christ? If so, what will your walk be like? Have you ever wondered if you would have enough faith to give your life for Jesus? To suffer persecution at the hand of evil ones? Is that the goal of seeking for faith in our lives? Whose faith will see me through tough times to come? How?
- Sin away. If you like sin (and most of us do), isn’t it lucky that every time we sin we can just ask God to forgive us, and He flicks the sin away? Was Paul alarmed about Christians like you and I with such an attitude towards faith and sin? Should he have been? If the faith that saves us is Christ’s faith, is the sin that leads us to perdition Christ’s sin? Why? or why not?
- Watch therefore. This lesson presents issues that trouble all of us. Do you ever feel so sinful that you’re convinced God doesn’t want you with Him through eternity? Or do you sometimes feel so whole and good inside that you aren’t concerned about eternal life at all? Do your sins trouble you? Or do you brush them off and go on your way? What does Paul in the first six chapters of Galatians have to share with us in these days of intellectual confusion and self worship?