- Earning our salvation? Do you ever encounter Christians who honestly believe that we earn our way to heaven? If that is not your belief, how do you explain the importance of obeying God’s commands if we want to join Him in heaven? Our lesson guide places the text from Ephesians (2:8-10) at the top of the lesson guide for the week. What fundamental teaching is clearly presented in these verses telling us exactly how we are saved? If you were writing that text today, would you at least think about saying, “By our works we show the world that we are saved”? Or would you think about saying, “Works don’t matter. Just believe”? Or do you have a better way of explaining how we become more like Jesus as we accept His plan for us?
- “For God so loved…” Interesting, isn’t it? that the word “kosmos” translated “world” from the Greek, includes much more than God’s created human beings. The world God loves goes beyond us humans and includes everything He created in nature. Birds, fish, animals of the jungle, butterflies and so much more are part of God’s world that is promising to restore to a perfect existence. Amazing, too, that God loves mean-spirited people and people who are grumpy or too sick and weak to enjoy life as His followers and friends. From sunny skies to rain-blessed gardens and so much more, He is the Creator of all that lives, including us, and the author and designer of everything that makes our “kosmos” so full of evidence that He is the Master of the sun and the stars as well as our Savior and Friend.
- Compassion and repentance. Our good works help us earn heavenly points that qualify us for everlasting life. Is that true? Those who do plenty of helpful and good things are going to make it to heaven. Isn’t that true, too? If good works don’t earn our salvation, what’s the point of trying to live an unselfish and helpful life? It’s hard for many of us to think of the Christ, our eternal Friend and Savior, being battered and bruised and accused of horrible sinful deeds and then crucified on the cruel cross. Can our helpfulness and love to those around us help us handle the sadness we feel deep inside as we contemplate the sacrifice of Jesus for us?
- Our common humanity. Our lesson uses the term, “radical inclusiveness” to describe God’s chosen people. What does that mean? How radical are you and I willing to be in our pursuit of the gospel commission in these tumultuous times? Or do you consider these times to be tumultous? Our lesson guide places a verbal halo around the theme of the Good Samaritan. How does that story illustrate for you and me people in the common element of humanity we are privileged to serve? Are you ready to put on your hiking shoes or lay out a supply of postage stamps or in some other way ready yourself to encounter people along life’s busy way who could be drawn closer to Jesus by your friendship and ministry to them?
- The everlasting gospel. Judgment. Worship. Creation. These three subjects are presented as themes highlighting the gospel message we have been invited to share with those around us. Today we learn of horrible persecution of God’s followers around the world. We see evidence on every corner of life of hardship and suffering. We hear about circumstances changing for the worse in so many ways. But we hold on to the “everlasting gospel,” don’t we? God gives us a message of hope, and we rally to share that message wherever and however we can. Let’s carry on as friends of Christ and friends of others in Christ.