“God’s Heart for You”
Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Unlikely Leaders - Ch. 35
Gods Special Plan for the Jews
Unlikely Leaders - Ch. 36
Pauls Timeless Letter to the Galatians
How can we as Christians rejoice in the freedom we have in Christ, and yet explain to others why we choose to live according to the lifestyle He has portrayed in the Bible?
This lesson will deal with how we can be confident in our salvation. There should be no doubt in any belief that Jesus is all we need.
WHAT WOULD YOU WAGER?
Supplies: M&M’s, Skittles, or other small candy—enough for everyone to have 25 pieces; two small bowls for every playing pair of students
Object of the Game: To have more candies in the “life” bowl than the “death” bowl.
In this trivia game you will be answering Bible trivia questions. Correct answers will get you more points in the life bowl. Wrong answers will get you more points in the death bowl. Have each person in your group partner up with someone. If your group is more than 10-15 students, bring two pairs of students up front and have them play the game on behalf of the whole group.
Ask one partner be the answerer and the other be the wagerer. Give each team 15 pieces of candy and let ask them to pretend that each piece of candy represents $100. The wagerer is in complete control of the candies. For each question a wager value will be placed on the question. To play the game the wagerer must wager the given amount before they hear the question. There should be no communication between the wagerer and the answerer (having them sit back-to-back would be good).
Place two bowls in the middle of the students. One labeled “life” the other labeled “death.” If the wagerer thinks their partner can answer the question, they will put the correct amount of candies in the “life” bowl. If the answerer answers the question correctly the candies stay in the “life” bowl. If they get it wrong take their wager from the “life” bowl and put in the “death” bowl. In addition, they are to drop an amount that is double the wager from their stash in the “death” bowl. For example, if the wager was 1 candy and they get it wrong they would have to deposit a total of 3 candies in the “death” bowl. One taken from the “life” bowl, and 2 more from their stash.
*Bonus of 10 candies given after 3 successful wagers.
*Any candies left in the answerer’s pile at the end of all questions will be placed in the “death” bowl.
Leaders: These instructions seem complicated, but if you will read and think them through ahead of time, you can have a fun experience.
Question 1: (1 Candy) In what book of the Bible is Joseph’s story? (Genesis)
Question 2: (1 Candy) This person lost their strength after a haircut. (Samson)
Question 3: (1 Candy) What is the name of the mountain where Elijah prayed and fire came down from heaven? (Mount Carmel)
Question 4: (2 Candies) What is the name of Ruth’s second husband? (Boaz)
Question 5: (2 Candies) Name the synoptic Gospels. (Matthew, Mark, Luke)
Question 6: (2 Candies) How does Revelation describe the church of Laodicea? (Lukewarm)
Question 7: (3 Candies) After Jesus’ resurrection Jesus had a conversation on a road with two disciples. Where was that road headed? (Emmaus)
Question 8: (3 Candies) What was the name of the boy Paul raised from the dead? (Eutychus)
Question 9: (10 Candies) After the resurrection, John’s gospel tells us about a fishing miracle, how many fish were caught by the disciples that day? (153)
It may have seemed weird to be wagering or betting in Sabbath school. Trust me, we do not endorse gambling in any way. That said, how many of us often think about our spiritual life a little bit like a gamble? Perhaps we will do something, think something, or say something that will tip the scales against us and God will end up placing us in the “death” bowl. Is life really some sort of gamble? How sure can we be of our salvation?
There are lots of text about this topic, but we are going to dive into two this morning for our lesson time. Both are written by Paul to believers that were also struggling with the concept of salvation. We hope that at the end of this lesson you can be sure of salvation and why you are saved.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
(Leader: the point of this lesson is to look at the Seventh-day Adventist belief that we can be assured of our salvation through faith in Jesus. That’s it. There are a lot of texts to look at and if you need some, feel free to look at www.adventist.org and Fundamental Belief number 10 for more biblical support. This is a huge struggle for many of our members and especially our youth. So helping them realize that God loves them no matter what is a very important lesson for them.)
Today, on this Easter weekend, it is very appropriate that we are going to look at two texts about salvation. There are a lot of different texts about this and it is one of the most important themes of the Bible. It is also one of the most difficult things for humans to grasp. Everything costs something, right? Nothing comes for free. Is that true of salvation?
One of the first texts used in Bible studies on this topic is Romans 3:23. Many of you will recognize this verse.
Read Romans 3:23.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
I don’t know if you noticed that the first letter of this verse isn’t capitalized, and there is a comma at the end of the verse! The verse isn’t even a complete sentence, but often we read and quote it as one. Today let’s take a deeper dive into the other verses surrounding this passage. Maybe it will give us a little less gloom. Look at God’s view of us!
Paul begins the book of Romans by setting a trap for the Jewish readers. Chapters 1-2 build up the Jewish faith and a Gentile reader might feel as if they are missing out on something special from God. But in Chapter 3, Paul goes for the gut punch. He tells the Jewish Christians that just because they followed the laws, it didn’t do them much good as far as becoming right in God’s eyes. In fact, there was nothing they could “do.” Salvation is all about what God and Jesus have “done” and “do” in us.
Read Romans 3:21-26.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
“Propitiation” is the act of gaining the favor of or making things right with someone, especially after having done something wrong…in case you were wondering. This talks about how Jesus took on our sin and reconnected us with God through His death.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:11 through 6:1.
5:11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6:1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
Let’s repeat the beginning question:
If you believe that Jesus/God is who He says He is and that Jesus died for your sins, if you accept the free grace of God, through Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins, then you can be fully assured of your salvation. It’s that easy. You can be confident in your salvation. Live this life in a way that honors God and live confident in His love for you!
So this Easter, we celebrate not only the death of Jesus for our sins, but the resurrection of Jesus’ proving that God is always faithful and His plans work out. Are you willing to exercise the faith that God’s gift is just that—a gift free to you and that all you have to do is accept it and hang on to it through your relationship with Him?
This week, come up with some ways to practice free (no strings attached) grace and be ready to come back with some great stories. Here are some ideas to get you started, but I’m sure your group and the Holy Spirit will come up with even better ones!
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
It was Paul’s position that the way of grace and the way of law were mutually exclusive. The way of law makes salvation dependent on human achievement; the person who takes the way of grace simply casts himself or herself and their sins upon the mercy of God. Paul went on to argue that if you accepted circumcision, if you accepted one part of the law, logically you had to accept the whole law.
To Paul all that mattered was faith which works through love. That is just another way of saying that the essence of Christianity is not law but a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. The Christian’s faith is founded not on a book but on a person; its dynamic is not obedience to any law but love to Jesus Christ.
Paul’s proclamation of freedom is based on his doctrine of redemption. The tension between freedom and bondage is always high-pitched in our lives. With a holdover of the slavish spirit, and continually caught in a merit system, we are tempted to perform according to what we think are divine requirements, rather than to live as a child of the Father, and heir of His promise.
On the other hand, (and here the tension increases) set free, we take our freedom in our own hands and choose as we will, intent on our liberation. Thus, we do not give the Spirit a chance to take possession of our lives and form them in Christ.
Thus, Paul is compelled to talk about responsible freedom—freedom working itself out in love. The criterion to guide our Christian freedom is love. It is the love that was defined in the law by God to Moses (Leviticus 19:18) and reiterated by Jesus (Mark 12:29–31) and now restated by Paul: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
“Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). This is what Jesus meant when He said we would save our lives by losing them. If we give our life in love to others, we will find it. “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.”
Have you ever been locked up, or locked in? How did it feel when you got freedom?
Read Galatians 5:1-15.
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
1. What action groups best describe your views on freedom?
2. What is Paul’s main argument concern in Galatians 5:1-3?
3. What is the right mixture of law and grace?
4. What is the essence of Paul’s words in Galatians 5:6?
5. In verse 10, is Paul suggesting that evil people are leading the church?
6. What is the essence of Paul’s thoughts in vs. 13-15?
7. In what ways do you need to be free?
8. How do you treat those who are law junkies?
We will not go astray if we remember that for Paul, Christian liberty was always grounded on the believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ on the one hand, and with the community of faith on the other. Outside of Jesus Christ, human existence is characterized as bondage. This bondage is to the law, bondage to the evil elements dominating the world, bondage to sin, the flesh, and the devil. God sent His Son into the world to shatter the dominion of these slaveholders. Now God has sent His Spirit into the hearts of believers to awaken them to new life and liberation in Christ.
This is one of the most serious issues facing the contemporary church today. We can err either by drawing the boundaries too tightly or by refusing to draw them at all. On the one hand, we lapse into legalism; on the other, into relativism.
Though Paul clamorously insisted that there was no salvation in “good works,” still works of righteousness, ethical behavior, moral goodness, and holiness of life are essential ingredients, not mere incidental by-products of his faith. When God comes to judge the world, the question will not be whether we were circumcised or uncircumcised, but whether in the revelation of His love expressed ultimately in His crucified Son, we have turned to Him in faith. A faith that expressed itself in love. Jesus’ picture of the final judgment is unforgettably clear: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).
Below, find some application activities to reinforce this lesson. These are simply to provide ideas for your use, or to invite you to imagine and create some of your own, as you impact the lives of teens for God’s glory.
All the Way Up
By Pastor Vandeon Griffin
This FREE download includes sermons and PowerPoint slide backgrounds for “All the Way Up,” the March 13-22 Week of Prayer for Youth Ministries. The theme verse is Colossians 3:2; “Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here.”
The sermon series is set up so that each youth department/youth director of the local church can access the sermons and share them with the young people who sign up to preach each night of the week.
Let’s prepare for “All the Way Up” with Jesus Christ!
1. Activity / Busy Bags for Kids
Help parents stay sane. Assemble bags with activities to keep small children busy.
Cost: Less than $5.00
2. Placemats For Meals On Wheels
Cheer up the homebound. Thoughtfully decorated placemats are a lovely extra to bring to meal recipients. If you’re able to laminate the placemats, all the better!
Cost: Less than $5.00
3. Deliver Meals For Meals On Wheels
Help fight hunger. Pick up and deliver meals to seniors and people with disabilities.
Cost: Less than $5.00