The Great Discipleship
Key Verse: Ephesians 1:7: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…” (NIV)
Last Sunday we saw the demonstration of “God’s Might in Humility” and how humility can shine through even in the most powerful. Lessons from the study include the following:
- The truly powerful do not exercise their power just for show or for personal benefit; they exercise it in humility and with a sense of purpose, the way Jesus Christ demonstrated His power over all creation.
- Although God has all power, he does not always exercise that power to stop evil, as many would expect. We should not take this to mean that He is incapable of doing so. His seeming delays in dealing with evil-doers is in part due to His mercy.
- Christians in positions of power and authority should constantly seek God’s guidance in exercising the prerogatives of their position, in awareness that all power belongs to God.
This Sunday we will be exploring “God’s Redemptive Love” – a love that can only be explained by His sovereignty. Our learning from this study should include the following:
- Those who have had a genuine experience with God through Jesus Christ would always see that it is only by God’s sovereign love that they came to know Him – never by their pedigree or anything they have done.
- It is only by God’s sovereign grace that the gospel we preach finds a place in the heart of an unbeliever to the point that he or she comes to know Christ. Thus, no one should claim the credit for the salvation of another.
- God’s love could take us through some rough patches which He, in His infinite wisdom, sees as necessary for our redemption. Indeed, he could call us home to Himself sooner than we consider full-time, to save us from being a spiritual wreck.
If we were to name those we love and why we love them, most of us would be able to say positive things about them. For our spouse, we could talk about the good looks, good manners, good education or intellect, and so on. For others, we could speak of intellect, their good behaviour towards us, or how stimulating it is to have a conversation with them. However, God’s love towards us is not necessarily for any of these reasons – or for any reason at all. It is the nature of His sovereignty. Recall that we did note in our first study in this series that one who exercises sovereignty does not have to give a reason or logic for his or her decisions. In fact, if we were looking for reasons for God to love us, we would rather see why He should not love us – see Romans 5:8. Occasionally, we get shocked when a well-known villain gets touched by God’s love and becomes an instrument of honour in His hands. At such moments, we hardly think of ourselves as also being most undeserving of His love.
1. Let some participants who have experienced God’s redemptive grace give some reasons why they consider themselves undeserving of His love.
God’s sovereignty in redemption is presented most strikingly in our second text: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…” (Eph 1:4-5). Apostle Paul reiterates this many times in his epistles. “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Rom 9:15-16). This Scripture position has generated controversy among Christians as to whether a sinner can really choose salvation as we preach, since it all depends on God’s sovereign grace. Paul responds to this in his letter to the Romans: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Rom 8:29).
2. How would you respond to an believer who, on hearing the Gospel, says he would only receive Christ into his life when he feels called by Him?
God’s redemptive love is manifested in the way He deals with those who fall short of His standards and of the demands of the law. In some cities, law-enforcement agents are delighted to see[ someone break the law – especially traffic violations – as it gives an opportunity for extortion or to generate more money for the government. God’s redemptive love has the opposite objective: “… he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2Pe3:9). When the Pharisees wanted to visit the demands of the law on the woman caught in adultery, Jesus gave the woman another chance to live right. His redemptive love shows in more ways than we realise. His love could take us through some rough patches which He, in His infinite wisdom, deems necessary for our redemption. Indeed, he could call us home to Himself sooner than we consider full-time, to save us from being a spiritual wreck. The Christian needs to have this broad view of God’s redemptive love.
3. Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. What does Paul mean by “… hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved”?
Father, we thank You for the privilege to be beneficiaries of Your redemptive love. May we ever remain in that love, in Jesus’ name, Amen.