Introduction: This quarter we turn our attention to the topic
“Pillars of our Faith.” These studies should make for interesting
discussions. What one person considers a “pillar” may be viewed by
another as a non-essential fence. As usual, we will take a careful
look at what the Bible says on each subject. This week we turn our
attention to Jesus, which, as the lesson notes, is “the foundation of
the pillars.” Let’s dive in!

  1. Peace With God

    1. Read Romans 5:1-2. How many of you would like peace in
      your life? What kind of peace do you want?

      1. Paul says that faith gives us peace. What kind of
        peace is he talking about? (Verse 1 says “peace with

      2. Did you declare war on God? I never did. I’m not that
        stupid! What is Paul talking about when he says
        “peace with God?” (Read Colossians 1:21-22. We did
        declare war on God by our evil behavior.)

      3. If faith gives us peace with God, how do we get
        faith? ( Romans 5:1-2 says that Jesus is the key
        “through whom we have gained access by faith into
        this grace.” Faith in Jesus is the key that unlocks
        God’s grace.)

    2. Let’s look further into how this happened. Read Romans
      5:6-8. What was our condition when Jesus died for us? Were
      we good? Do only good people have access to this key of
      grace? (Verse 8 tells us that Jesus died for “sinners,”
      and v.6 tells us He died for the “ungodly.”)

      1. How much power can we have through our determination
        to do what is right? (Verse 6 tells us we are
        “powerless” without Jesus.)

      2. Think about two people you know who used to be
        friends, but now dislike each other. When you speak
        to them about a Christian’s obligation to forgive, do
        they respond, “I’ll forgive the other person when
        they apologize?”

        1. Did Jesus wait for us to take the first step?
          (This chapter clearly has God taking the
          initiative. Verse 8 says “while we were yet
          sinners” Jesus made the first step towards

      3. God is our judge. How is He different from a human
        judge? (A human judge might not even know us. He is
        just doing a job. Verse 8 tells us that God loves us.
        Instead of just sitting there to judge, He waded into
        the problem by dying for us to give us the
        opportunity to be acquitted of our sins.)

      4. How do we personally apply this example to others in
        our day to day dealings? Do we just judge those that
        are sinners? Or, do we dive into the sin problem to
        help them realize that reconciliation with God is

    3. Read Romans 5:9-10. We spoke about peace before. Is Paul
      talking about a peaceful feeling? Is this a subjective
      feeling of calm? (Cranfield’s commentary on Romans says
      this is an “objective state of being at peace [with God]
      instead of being at enmity.” Although he notes feelings
      of peace may result, the real issue is that we are no
      longer at war with God. We are His friends because He
      loves us and His Son (Jesus) has reconciled us to Him.
      Praise Jesus!)

  2. Our Response to the Offer of Peace

    1. Read Romans 6:1-4. What should be our response to God’s
      gift of grace and reconciliation?

      1. Verse 2 refers to living in sin. What do you think
        that means? (The pattern, the habitual direction of
        your life is sinful.)

      2. Do we get the gift of grace before or after we decide
        not to live in sin? (These verses clearly indicate
        that we were given the gift before we stopped living
        in sin.)

      1. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Can we earn God’s grace? (No.
        This text tells us that grace does not come from us
        and it cannot be earned by us. It is a gift from

        1. Is everyone saved then? Is there nothing that we
          need to do? (No. Look at Romans 6:3&4 again.
          Both verses refer to baptism. By that I conclude
          that we must make a decision to accept God’s
          grace. When we (v.2) die to sin (as a result
          of a decision on our part), we no longer are to
          live in it.)

    1. Do our works play any role in our salvation? Read Romans
      1:17. (This text says that righteousness is by faith “from
      first to last.”)

    2. Read James 2:14. What is your answer to James’ question?
      What would Paul’s answer be?

      1. Let’s find out more by reading on: read James 2:15-17. James says (v.17) “faith … not accompanied by
        action, is dead.” Does he mean that kind of faith
        (without works) is ineffective? Or, does he mean it
        does not exist?

        1. If your answer is “faith does not exist,” does
          James contradict Paul in the texts we just
          studied? ( Romans 1:17 and Ephesians 2:8-9)

      1. Read James 2:18-19. Will demons be saved? (No.) Do
        the demons referred to here have “deeds” that support
        their faith in God? (They shudder! Their faith is so
        strong they have a physical reaction!)

        1. Why isn’t the faith of the demons good enough?
          (What James is doing is defining faith. Faith is
          NOT simply believing that God exists. This gets
          back to my old theme of “righteousness by
          attitude.” Try defining faith with the word
          “attitude.” Attitude means you not only are
          aware of something, but it changes your approach
          to life. The demons’ faith that God exists does
          not cause them to adopt the proper approach to
          God’s will. They do not have a “what can I do
          to serve God” attitude. They have a negative
          attitude towards God.)

    1. Let’s read on: James 2:20-22. Consider the breath of what
      James is saying. Was Abraham required to sacrifice his son
      in order to demonstrate his faith? Do you have that kind
      of faith? (I’m not going to speculate on what would have
      happened if Abraham had not been willing to sacrifice
      Isaac. James’ point seems to be that this is the pinnacle
      of faith. If you have such faith (attitude) that you are
      willing to put God before the life of your own son (who
      was Abraham’s future), then you no doubt have faith.)

    2. Read James 2:24 and Romans 3:28. Isn’t James getting
      carried away? Are not these two texts flatly contradictory
      when it comes to faith and justification? Can you explain
      how these two texts can both be true? (Elwell’s
      Evangelical Commentary on the B|ible give us the “way out”
      of this contradiction. He says that when Paul uses the
      word “justify,” he is speaking of God’s initial acceptance
      of us sinners. We are made right with God because of our
      faith. James, on the other hand, uses “justify” as the
      “ultimate verdict of acquittal rendered over our lives.”
      Thus, Paul teaches us that we are initially declared
      righteous through faith, but James warns us that our
      ultimate acquittal depends on the evidence of true faith.
      So when James speaks of “faith alone” in verse 24, he is
      not speaking of the faith that Paul describes. He is
      speaking of merely believing God exists without the
      attitude that true faith brings.)

      1. Can you change your attitude? (This is why Paul is
        right when he says in Romans 1:17 that righteousness
        is by faith from first to last. Only God can change
        our hearts – our attitudes!)

    3. Friend, if you simply believe that God exists and you
      still walk in sin, will you ask God to give you true faith
      – that life-transforming attitude of wanting to do God’s
      will in all things. Claiming Jesus’ Righteousness and His
      transforming power as the foundation of our life is truly
      a “pillar” of the Christian life.

  1. Next week: The Sabbath