Grace I: The Cross

Purpose:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Here, the gospel message reaches its peak. We are saved through grace. There is hope! We are saved through Jesus’ loving sacrifice. Be sure that the seeker has seen his/her need for grace, and this study in grace will be powerful. It’s also important for the seeker to understand his/her responsibility for Jesus’ death. Establishing personal responsibility will later reap great gratitude and joy for Jesus’ personal love and forgiveness.

Scriptures:
  • Romans 3:21-27.  All are in complete need of grace for all have sinned. Christ is propitiation or atonement (temple illustration) for the wrath we’ve earned. He redeems (slavery illustration) us; he justifies (legal illustration) us. Discuss the illustrations.

  • Romans 4:22-25.  We have Jesus’ righteousness credited to us via faith. Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification. He takes our sins and gives His righteousness!

  • Romans 5:6-11.   Jesus died for us while we were at our worst, enemies of God, weak and sinful. His blood changes all that and reconciles us to God.

  • Mark 14:26-15:41.  Jesus chose to die for us. Who killed Jesus? I did. You did. Reflect on the reasons why Jesus endures these afflictions (my sins require it, and His love offers it).

  • 1st Peter 2:21-25.  Why did Jesus die on the cross for us? So that we might die to sin and live for the new righteousness that the cross provides. This is our response to the cross. 

  • Acts 2:36-41. Peter has preached the message of the cross. What are the next steps?

  • John 3:16-21. Do you prefer the darkness over the light? Are you ready to move into the light of God’s grace? 

Additional Helpful Scriptures:
  • Matthew 26:17-27:56 (suggest reading this before the study; viewing The Passion of the Christ is also highly recommended

  • Isaiah 52:13-53:13 

  • Psalm 22

  • Acts 2:22-38 

  • Colossians 2:13-14

  • Ephesians 2:1-10 

  • John 1:29

Grace II: Salvation

Purpose:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Christ alone has earned our salvation through His work on the cross. We respond to His work on the cross with clarity and certainty to make this gift of grace all the more secure. We connect to His death, burial, and resurrection through the baptism that He has established for our new life. The Bible never refers to this response as a work; rather the Bible refers to baptism as "not performed by human hands," "from above," and "not because of works done by righteousness" (Colossians 2:11, John 3:3-5, Titus 3:5).

After preaching about the cross, Peter calls his hearers to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). This study helps establish the link between Christ’s sacrifice and our forgiveness of sins by means of baptism.

Scriptures:
  • Colossians 1:13-14.  What is salvation or redemption? It’s the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus.

  • Colossians 2:11-14. What state are you in when God makes you alive and forgives all your sins? How do you go "from dead in sins" to "alive with Chirst"? Baptism is visualized here as a burial with Christ. What happens when you are raised from that burial in baptism? What is required of you to be raised from this burial to new life? Remember, that this is in no way a work "performed by human hands."

  • Acts 2:36-41. When do we receive the forgiveness of sins? Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, because it is our connection to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Those who accepted this message were baptized, thus they were saved (note the parallel in v. 47).

  • Romans 6:1-4.  We are baptized into Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. (Thus, Peter directed his hearers to be baptized in response to the cross – Act 2:38). We, too, will be raised to a new life through baptism. Thus, we are born again.

  • Romans 10:5-13.   (note the reference to Deut. 30:12-13 and Joel 2:31) Like Paul, all in Rome who were baptized, were baptized to be raised to a new life. Also like Paul, all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 22:16). We profess Jesus to be Lord (Thus, we are no longer Lord of our life – a statement of Repentance. See 2nd Tim. 2:19 and Acts 2:21, 38) at our baptism. Are you ready to make Jesus your Lord? 

  • Acts 22:7-16.  After encountering Jesus, repenting, praying, fasting (see Acts 9:9, 11), being healed, and being called by God, Paul still remains in sin until he is baptized. He calls on the name of the Lord at his baptism. Have you made Jesus the Lord of your life? Then… “What are waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away!”

Additional Helpful Scriptures:
  • John 3:3-5

  • John 13:6-11

  • Titus 3:3-5 

  • Colossians 2:11-14

  • Acts 8:26-40 

  • Acts 18:24-26

  • Hebrews 10:22

  • 1st Peter 3:21 

  • Ephesians 4:4-6; 5:26

  • Galatians 3:23-27

  • Mark 16:16

Added to the Body of Christ

Purpose:

Encourage the seeker that each will not be left to fend for one’s self after baptism. Instead, Jesus baptizes us into the body, the church (1st Corinthians 12:12-13) to be joined by a team of likeminded disciples in our devotion to Him. These brothers and sisters are meant to be a continual source of encouragement in our walk with Christ. Even more good news!

Also, most of us in the West live very isolated, individualistic lives. This is antithetical to life in the Body of Christ. This shift from individualism to community is one of the biggest challenges for Westerners. OUR fellowship is with Jesus and OUR fellowship always takes place in the light (1John 1:3-10).   

Scriptures:
  • Acts 2:40-47.  The first 3,000 converts joined together in devotion to the Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. A beautiful view of the early church. How would such a church be received today?

  • 1St Corinthians 12:12-27.  The Spirit baptizes us into the body of Jesus, his church. The church consists of distinct yet unified parts, just like a human body. God, Himself, has arranged it this way. We are the church; each of us must actively look for the distinct yet unified ways we are to support this body. How will you help build up the body of Christ?

  • Ephesians 4:1-16.  Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the church requires humility, patience, gentleness, and selflessness. We maintain unity on the essentials of doctrine – one Lord, one faith, one baptism. God provides specific offices within the church in order to prepare us for works of service which build up the body. 

  • Hebrews 10:22-25.  After being washed in baptism, we need the continual exhortations of brothers and sisters to stay the course. Prepare in advance how you will spur on fellow Christians in the fellowship. Also prepare to receive biblical input that will result in greater love and good deeds. Why is missing meetings of the body described as a bad habit? Why and when do we meet?

  • Hebrews 3:12-14.  We each have the charge and the responsibility to see to it that no one has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from God. Daily encouragement helps everyone stand firm until the end. 

  • 2nd Corinthians 8:7.  God loves a cheerful giver.  Our giving supports the body as we reach out to a world in need of Jesus.

Additional Helpful Scriptures:
  • 1st John 1:3-10

  • Eph. 2:19-20

  • Rom. 12:4-8

  • John 17:20-26

  • Col. 1:18

  • Col. 2:18-19

  • John 13:34-35