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Lesson 4: Atonement and the Divine Initiative *

Introduction: The last two weeks we studied how sin entered the universe and our world. This week we turn our attention to the first chapter of our escape from sin and eternal death. Why would God decide to redeem us? What began our way out of sin? We learned something in the last two weeks about how to avoid sin based on how sin entered the universe and the world. What can we learn about righteousness based on how God gave us a way out of sin? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more about the thoughts of God!

  1. Our Present Position

    1. Read Romans 3:10-12. What is our condition? Are we able to do better than Adam and Eve and stay out of trouble? (No! No one is righteous. All sin.)

    2. Read Romans 3:19-20. If you asked most people, they would think that they lived a pretty good life. On what basis would they make that claim? (Most people base their claim on some sort of standard. They are "good people" because they have not been arrested, or they treat others decently.)

      1. Is that what you think about your life?

      2. What does this text say about thinking we are good based on the standard of the Ten Commandments?

      3. There are only Ten Commandments, how difficult can it be to keep them?

      4. When we read Romans 3:20, what do we learn is God's purpose in having the Ten Commandments? (We are told that no one will be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments, no one is "good enough" through their own actions. At least one purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show the true (sinful) nature of our hearts. When we really understand what it means to keep the law (see Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 5:27-28), we will simply learn how unrighteous we are.)

  2. Hope of Glory

    1. If we cannot come up to God's standard by our efforts to keep His law, what hope is there for us?

    2. Read Romans 5:1-2. What is "the hope of the glory of God?" (Hint: it gives us joy!)

      1. Does it have something to do with faith and grace? (The glory of God must mean to be in God's presence. Grace and faith are keys to this access.)

      2. What role does Jesus play in this hope of the glory of God? ( Romans 5:1 tells us "through our Lord Jesus Christ" we are able to "stand" in grace. Having grace from God gives us hope that we will be with Him in glory. This is a promise of heaven. We take hold of this promise by faith in Jesus.)

      3. What does this hope in Jesus give us? (It gives us (v.1) "peace with God" and (v.2) a cause for rejoicing.)

    3. Read Romans 5:3-4. Notice this list of bad things. Do bad things end up in hope? Why does this string of things end up in hope?

      1. Why even talk about these bad things when the subject is rejoicing in God's presence? (The reality of life is that we face difficult problems from time to time.)

      2. Do you find it to be true in your life - that suffering causes you to hope? (It seems to say that the good thing about bad things is that they sharpen our hope if we remain faithful. Realizing how we fall short of God's standards brings us to the point of realizing that we must trust the grace and peace offered to us through Jesus.)

  3. The Rescue Plan

    1. Read Romans 5:6. Given out condition, when and why did God decide that Jesus should rescue us? (The Bible says "at just the right time. The "why" is that we were "powerless" - we desperately needed the help.)

      1. Read Ephesians 1:4-6. When did God decide on this plan? Was it after He saw what a mess Satan and humans had made of things? (This tells us that God had this plan in mind before the world was created!)

      2. Does this mean that God created us knowing that we would make a mess of things (we were powerless)and He would have to clean it up? (It is hard to reach any other conclusion.)

    2. Read Romans 5:7-8. What motivated God to engage in this kind of extraordinary conduct for humans who had turned away from Him?(Love. God did something none of us would do. He did it because He has a love that is superior to anything we can imagine. God did not wait until we became good or righteous or worthy.)

      1. Do you know someone who stays away from church because they are not "good enough?" What does this text say to them?

    3. Read Romans 8:32. Romans 5:7-8 told us God's sacrifice for us is remarkable. What does Romans 8:32 add to that thought? (Not only is Jesus' sacrifice for us remarkable, but it shows that He loves us more than anything! This means God will not withhold any good thing from us. The "why" of the rescue plan is that God loves us. Amazing!)

    4. Read Romans 8:33-34. What else does Jesus do for us? (Jesus is in heaven interceding for us. Just as in the time of ancient Israel, when the High Priest on the Day of Atonement interceded for the people, so Jesus now intercedes for us in the heavenly sanctuary.

      1. So we have a full understanding of the cast of players: Who is it that brings charges against us? Who condemns us? ( Revelation 12:10 tells us our accuser has been "hurled down." Two weeks ago we studied Revelation 12:9 and determined that the party hurled down was Satan. The one who brought us into sin has been defeated, but he still brings charges against us!)

      2. What happens to your hope when people condemn you and bring charges against you?

      3. Who wins in the controversy between Jesus and Satan? (The "hurled down" text tells us that Satan is on the canvas. Satan is on the ground and Jesus is the winner. The charges and accusations against us go the same way as the accuser.)

    1. Look at Romans 8:34 again. Why does Jesus win for us? (This verse tells us our Intercessor has the ear of God. He is at the right hand of the Father. Jesus followed the loving heavenly plan and lived, died, was resurrected for us. He now has a special place by the Father where He puts in a good word for us. A good word to the Father who already loves us. I like this plan!)

    2. Read Romans 8:35. It asks "Who shall separate us from the love of God?" What can cause us to lose out on God's plan and God's fulfillment of His part of the plan?

      1. This text gives several possible causes for separating us from God's love. What do all of these causes have in common? (They are all bad. But, more than that, they all have an external source. They come from outside us.)

      2. As you consider the various possible causes for separation, what does that suggest about the answer to the question in verse 35? (That nothing external can separate us from God's love. This suggests that we are the only one who can separate our self from God's love.)

    3. Read Romans 8:37. Who gives us the victory over all of these external problems? (Jesus makes us "more than conquerors.")

      1. Do you feel like a conqueror?

    4. Conquerors sometimes find that with time they lose their ability to win over their opponents. Read Romans 8:38-39. What gives us hope and confidence that will not happen to us? (It tells us nothing in all creation will be powerful enough to separate us from God. Praise God!)

    5. Friend, do you see why God intervened to save you? His love is beyond our imagination. Although day to day live may cause you to face trouble, if you decide to accept Jesus' sacrifice and His victory for you, there is nothing in all creation that can separate you from His love. Why not decide to accept Him right now?

  1. Next week: Atonement Announced.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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