[Thought questions for Salvation: The Only Solution October 24, 2012]
1. Salvation the only solution. Since we can’t have a solution without a problem, what is the problem that salvation addresses? If you said, “sin,” what sin or sins are you including? Did Satan’s sin and rebellion long ago define the need and set the stage for salvation? Or was salvation an outpouring of God’s love after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden? In other words, did the sin of mankind set in motion the dynamics of the plan of salvation? Discuss.
2. Sin’s scope. In Sunday’s lesson we are asked to define the sin problem as described in several texts of Scripture. How extensive is the sin problem in the part of the planet where you live? Do you think there is more sin today than in the time of Christ? Is Satan becoming more ingenious in the way he leads people to their eternal destruction? What about our lives? Are we affected by sin every day? Do our lives have smirches of sin lingering in them, are we overwhelmed at times by sinful acts or thoughts, or can we honestly say there is no sin within us?
3. God’s provision. In what sense did the consequences of sin (“you shall surely die”) take place the instant Adam and Eve sinned? Imagine seeing leaves and flower petals fade and die for the very first time. Given the nature of that sin and its woeful consequences for thousands of years to come, why do you think God was so eager to provide a rescue plan for his guilty children? Death began to destroy life that fateful moment, but what promise made “before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2) sustains us today? How can we keep that promise forefront in our daily lives?
4. Jesus solves the problem. If the cross is the essence of salvation, why don’t we post monuments and paintings portraying the cross in our churches, hospitals, and schools? How do you feel when you see jewelry and clothing depicting the cross? Does the cross have the power to save us? Is there any possibility that without the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, He would have died for us in some other way? What did Jesus’ death do for us? What is the relationship between His death and our salvation? More than a visible image of a cross, what do we need to gain its benefits?
5. Experiencing salvation. What are your thoughts when you think about the holiness of God? Do you feel rewarded that you can participate in a sense of being holy? Or are you overwhelmed by your weaknesses and total lack of reflecting God’s holiness to others? Why do we call the act of being saved as “justification?” At Halloween some people cover themselves in spooky costumes so that for a few moments at least we see them as dragons or devils or dead people. What kind of a covering does God offer us that makes us new in Him and not just look like it?
6. The end of sin. Is God looking forward to redeeming a crook who battered his wife, beat his kids, stole from his boss, and wrecked his brain with drugs? How can there be room for such a person in the sinless galaxies of eternity? Doesn’t God see the depths of people’s wrongdoing? Even ours? How can God trust those He saves to be so filled with His love that there will not be such a thing as sin? Are there ways we can explain the process of salvation to our children? Can a five-year-old understand sin and long to be free from its bounds? What about a sixteen-year-old who rebels against all constraints and turns from God? Is there a role you can I can play in making salvation attractive to youngsters among us? Can we explain salvation by our lives of humility and love of God so that others will want to know God better?
7. Sin and death. Does sin lead inevitably to death? Was it sin that caused Jesus’ death? If so, whose sin? How could Jesus die the death that you and I deserve so that we could live the life that is His? Is it a sin on my part if I don’t understand how God could love this scrawny world so much that He would give Jesus to die for our sins? Do you feel like rejoicing because Jesus is alive and in charge? Can thoughts of eternal salvation bring us happiness even as we struggle day by day with the vagaries of sin and sorrow?