The God Who Saves

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Study 2

Why we need to be saved

The big idea in this study is that sin (our rebellion against God) has serious consequences: we will face God's anger and judgement. We are completely responsible for our crimes, but at the same time we are helpless to fix the problem. We need help. We need a saviour.

Religious people often think of sin being like a bank account: the more ‘sins' you commit, the worse your account balance becomes. However, if you do good works (like going to church, praying, helping the poor, etc.), the better your account balance becomes. If you die with a positive balance, you go to heaven.

One of the key points to emphasize in this study is that sin is just a symptom of the real disease which is our rebellion against God. Romans 3:20 teaches us that the Law—the ten commandments and all that is associated with them—is there to teach us the reality of our own sinfulness. Unfortunately we cannot fix this problem by trying to be good. We are completely helpless.

Many people today deny the existence of sin and evil (or they did before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA in 2001). However this is not usually an issue for religious people. Their problem is more often a feeling of guilt and helplessness in their own struggle with sin, or, conversely, they minimize, hide and deny the presence of sin in their lives. For these people, God's free gift of forgiveness of sin is very good news.

Read Romans 1:18-25.

1. What should people's attitude be towards God as the Creator?

We ought to recognize “his eternal power and divine nature” (v. 20). We ought to glorify God and give thanks to him (v. 21). It is worth re-emphasizing God's generosity in creation. The world God made was “very good” (Gen 1:31). Just as God is generous in saving people, he is also generous in creation.

2. How do people treat him instead?

According to verse 21, we neither glorify God as God, nor give thanks to him. Our thinking becomes futile and our foolish hearts are darkened. There are moral consequences too. According to the following verses, we become foolish (v. 22), we worship created things that are not God (vv. 23, 25), and our bodies become degraded through sexual immorality (v. 24). The description we have in these verses highlights our helplessness in our sinfulness.

3. What is God's reaction?

The passage from Romans describes God's anger. He judges us, and the lives we live testify partly to our own choices and partly to the reality that God's judgement involves giving us what we choose.

Read Matthew 22:34-40.

4. What are these two great commandments?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (v. 37) and “Love your neighbour as yourself” (v. 39).

5. Do you know anyone who keeps them?

The question is not asking for examples of good people; it is asking for examples of perfect people.

6. Do you keep these commandments?

An honest “No” will do!

7. Where do you think that leaves you with God?

Push people to answer not from wishful thinking or from what they would like to be the case, but help them frame their answer on the basis of what God actually says, especially in the Romans passage.

Read Romans 3:10-20.

8. Who keeps the Law?


9. What is the point of the Law?

According to verse 19, the point of the Law is that we might be accountable. According to verse 20, it's so that we might know the reality of our own sinfulness. The passage does not speak at all about the possibility that some would be obedient. Rather, the opposite is the case.

10. Is there anything that we can do to become acceptable before God (i.e. “righteous”)?

No. You might read out the conclusion of the study and then see if people would like to comment.

The next study provides the solution to the problem that this study raises. You might like to reinforce this last point, and encourage people to prepare for the next study (assuming they haven't already been doing so for the previous studies).