Introduction: When I was a young, I read statements about the lofty
standards by which Christians are required to live. When I read the
requirements and attitudes involved, I said, “I cannot do this. Why
even try?” How did it make any sense to live a miserable life trying
to reach an unattainable standard? I should just reject the whole
idea because I was certainly destined to fail! Thankfully, it also
seemed impossible to live a life without Jesus. Later, I learned
about grace and was greatly relieved that I was saved by grace alone,
and the lofty standard set before me was the goal of a lifetime, not
a requirement for salvation. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible
and explore the standard set before those who are saved!

  1. Good Samaritan

    1. Read Luke 10:25. Do you think that this expert thought
      that he knew more about the law than Jesus? (Yes, he
      intended to “test” Jesus.)

    2. Read Luke 10:26. Who is getting tested now? (The expert!
      Jesus turns the question around.)

    3. Read Luke 10:27-28. Is salvation a matter of what we do?

    4. Read Luke 10:29. Why would the expert in the law want to
      “justify himself?” (Wait! He asked Jesus what he must “do”
      to be saved. When Jesus tells him, the expert decides that
      he might not pass this test. He seeks a narrow definition
      of “neighbor” in the hope that he will pass the test.)

    5. Read Luke 10:30. What kind of road is this? Would this
      expert’s neighbor travel on this road? (The answer is
      absolutely yes. Vincent’s New Testament Word Studies
      tells us that part of the road passed through a wilderness
      and was called “the red or bloody way.” It was protected
      by a fort and a Roman garrison. Barnes’ Notes adds that
      12,000 priests and Levis lived in Jericho, with the result
      that they constantly traveled this road on their way to

      1. What kind of robbers are these? (Mean!)

      2. If you were thinking of helping the victim, what
        would go through your mind? (The mean guys might
        still be around!)

    6. Read Luke 10:31. Why does the Bible say this priest
      “happened” to be on the same road? (This was not a rescue

    7. Read Luke 10:32. Why do you think that both the priest and
      the Levi “passed by on the other side?” (They did not want
      their consciences bothering them too much. They wanted to
      ignore the problem.)

      1. What do you think these two said to themselves when
        they saw this man? (That they had important temple
        work to do. They needed to be about God’s business.
        Robertson’s New Testament Word Pictures suggest that
        they might have also become ceremonially unclean if
        they had helped the victim – another interference
        with work.)

    8. Read Luke 10:33. When the expert heard Jesus say that a
      Samaritan took pity on the victim, what do you think went
      through his mind about the “neighbor” question? (This was
      a bad bit of information. The Jews would certainly not
      think that Samaritans were their neighbors. They detested
      each other.)

      1. How would you apply this bit of bad news to your
        life? (You should be willing to help your foes:
        people you do not like, and who do not like you.)

      2. Consider this entire story so far. The reason for the
        question was that an enemy wanted to test Jesus. How
        should Jesus answer? (Like the Samaritan answered the
        call here. To genuinely try to help the expert.)

    9. Read Luke 10:34-35. The Samaritan not only shows
      compassion, but he actually does something vital to help
      save this fellow. The Samaritan risks his life and
      health, detours from whatever his tasks were that day, and
      gives his own money to aid the victim. Would you do this
      for someone you disliked? Would you do it for someone who
      disliked you? Would you do it for someone who had
      foolishly traveled without protection?

    10. Read Luke 10:36-37. Notice how the expert answers the
      question. He does not answer, “the Samaritan.” Why? (It
      was too painful to say that a Samaritan would be superior
      to a priest or Levi.)

      1. Jesus tells the legal expert that he should do just
        like the Samaritan. What do you think are the odds of

      2. Recall that the story started out with ( Luke 10:25)
        “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” If the
        expert fails to meet this standard, is he shut out
        from eternal life?

  2. Rich Young Ruler

    1. Read Matthew 19:16. Does this question sound familiar? (It
      is essentially the same question asked by the legal expert
      in the Good Samaritan story.)

    2. Read Matthew 19:17. Is this a correct answer to the
      question? Can we enter eternal life by obeying the Ten

    3. Read Matthew 19:18-22. Let’s focus on the command that the
      young man was not willing to obey. Would you, in the next
      ten days, sell everything you own and give it to the poor?
      If not (and I’ve never met anyone who thought this command
      was meant for them), are you barred from eternal life?
      (I’ve always taught that this story was about depending on
      God. But, that does not change what Jesus actually said to
      this young man.)

  3. Sheep and Goats

    1. Read Matthew 25:31-34. What is Jesus illustrating? (The
      final judgment, how to get into heaven.)

    2. Read Matthew 25:35-36. What qualified the “sheep” for
      heaven? (Deeds.)

    3. Read Matthew 25:41-43. What qualified the “goats” for
      “eternal fire?” (Lack of deeds.)

  4. Serious Reflection

    1. We have two parables and one story spoken by our Lord
      which say that the most radical love must be shown in
      deeds to others to be saved. How is this consistent with
      being saved by grace alone? It seems to directly
      contradict the concept of grace!

    2. Let’s go back to our Rich Young Ruler story. Read Matthew
      19:23-25. The disciples heard the dialog, they heard
      Jesus’ summary of the matter. What reaction did the
      disciples have? (They had the same reaction that you and I
      have: “Who then can be saved?”)

    3. Read Matthew 19:26. After considering these three
      examples, I would expect Jesus to answer, “Concentrate.
      Grit your teeth and you can do it.” Instead, Jesus says
      that God can do this, humans cannot. How do you understand

      1. Is Jesus saying that with God’s help humans can meet
        this impossible standard? Or, is He saying that only
        God can meet this impossible standard, and therefore
        grace is needed?

    4. Read Matthew 19:27. Is this true? Peter claims that
      actually, now that he has thought about it, the disciples
      have done the impossible. (John 21 suggests that the
      disciples may have temporarily left their possessions, but
      they had not sold their possessions, for we later find
      them still plying their fishing trade.)

    5. Read James 2:8-11. James recites the same command with
      which we started our conversation. What does James say
      about keeping this command? (He, too, puts the most
      radical spin on it. Just showing favoritism means we have
      violated the entire Ten Commandments.)

    6. Read James 2:14. How would you answer this?

    7. Read James 2:18-24 and Luke 23:39-43. Luke records one of
      the few cases where we know absolutely that the person,
      here a bad person, was going to heaven. Did James not
      know this story? (I hope that you are seeing a pattern
      here. The thief on the cross was saved by faith alone –
      just as we are saved by grace alone. But, true faith,
      genuine faith, transforms our life. Faith, as James says,
      is not a matter of mere words. It is a serious decision
      that begins a change in our life. By the power of the Holy
      Spirit, we lead a life in which the goal is absolute love
      towards even those who detest us. This kind of attitude,
      followed by deeds, is something possible only through the
      Spirit of God.)

    8. Friend, will you commit today to ask the Holy Spirit to
      start you on the journey to an attitude of absolute love
      towards all of those who come within your sphere?

  5. Next week: The Church.