10 Lessons on the Lutheran Faith

Lesson 1:  Sin and Grace

a resource from www.lutheran-resources.org

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Introduction to the Course:

This course is designed to cover the basics of the Christian faith in 10 session. The goals of this course include:

1. to introduce and review the key teachings of the Holy Scriptures.

2. to demonstrate that the Lutheran faith as confessed and taught here is indeed the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.

3. to give each student opportunity to share and have questions answered.
 
 

Getting Started

1. How would you describe God?

Some people see God as the one in charge. They think of God sort of as a police man who enforces all sorts of rules in our lives. As long as we obey the rules, we do fine. But the minute we go against the rules, God is out to get us.

What would your response to such a God be? How would you feel?
 
  

Others see God as someone who is always there waiting for us in the background, sort of like a safety net. But unless we need Him, He does not really care about what we do or who we are.

What would your response be to such a God?
  
 

2. How would you describe human beings?

There are two ways to focus on who we are as human beings. One is to look at us in isolation as if we were an object like a cup or a saucer. Another is to focus on how we live together. God created us to live with Him in His universe and to live with one another. God created us to live in relationship with Him and each other.

Thinking about how we live out our lives together and how we treat one another how would you describe human beings: basically good or basically evil?
 

The Bible Teaches

1. God is Holy and Righteous

God has revealed Himself through the pages of the Holy Scriptures. In these pages we learn that God is Holy and Righteous. All that He does is right.

  • NAB Isaiah 6:3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory."
  • NAB Deuteronomy 32:4 "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

2. God created all things good.

We learn in Genesis that God created all things and that everything was good. At the very beginning of creation there was no sin. Everything was in its proper place and everything worked together beautifully. Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect relationship with God, with creation, and with one another.

  • NAB Genesis 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

God gave only one command to the first human beings, Adam and Eve. Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But when they went beyond this one limitation of God the brought the first sin into the world.

  • NAB Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die."' 4 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

 
Even before Eve ate of the fruit of the tree, she lost her faith in God and believed rather the lies of the serpent. Through her unbelief in God she was tempted to sin.

Adam too decided to trust his wife and not trust in what God had spoken. So humanity had fallen completely into sin. Their perfect relationship with God was destroyed. They no longer trusted God. They no longer took Him at His Word. They sought rather to be something they were not created to be: gods. They had sought to serve themselves.
 

3. The consequences of sin:

When the Lord heard that they had sinned, He punished Adam and Eve. The curse of death would from this time forth hang over humanity. Their sin had consequences.

  • NAB Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned --
  • NAB Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.
  • NAB Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
  • NAB Genesis 8:21 The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
  • NAB 1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
  • NAB Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
  • NAB Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

From these passages we learn something hard but true about ourselves.

    • All people because we are descended from Adam and Eve, are conceived and born in sin and bear the sinful corruption upon our spirits.
       
    • That left to themselves there is no spiritual good in the human heart.
       
    • That left to ourselves, we are inclined to evil.
       
    • We are spiritually dead. This means that we can no more help ourselves out of our situation than can a dead man bring himself back to life.
       
    • Because of this condition, all people fall under the judgment of God and under His wrath.

       

  • NAB Matthew 7:17 "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
  • NAB Matthew 15:19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

From these passages we learn:

    • Our sinful corruption brings forth a host of sins in each of our lives.
       
    • Such sin causes a great deal of damage to our lives.

       

What sort of damage does sin do in our lives?

    • hatred ___________________________________________________________
       
    • thefts ____________________________________________________________
       
    • lust ______________________________________________________________
       
    • adultery __________________________________________________________
       
    • lies _______________________________________________________________

       

Sin can be described as sins of commission and sins of omission. In other words, we do things we should not do and we do not do the things we always should do.

Our sinful corruption ruins our right relationship with God and with other human beings and causes to commit acts which harm others and demonstrate our inborn mistrust of God.

4. The knowledge of sin

We learn about sin from the law of God. 1 John 3:4 tells us that all who sin break the law. God did not give His law as a way that we could make ourselves good enough and so be saved. We have already learned that we cannot help but sin and so we can never be good enough on the basis of the law. Rather the law is given to us to show us our sins.

  • NAB Romans 3:10 as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE."
  • NAB Romans 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

5. God is our Savior

Scripture shows us that God does not prefer to be judge, but rather God prefers to be our Savior. Even when Adam and Eve had sinned and God punished them, He gave to them the hope of deliverance from their sins. He gave Adam and Eve a promise, that one would come who would crush the serpent who brought sin into the world. Someone born into the world as a human being would crush Satan.

  • NAB Genesis 3:14 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."

Scripture reveals to us that Jesus Christ is the one promised of God. He is God Himself come in the flesh to save the world from its sin.

  • NAB John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God&ldots;. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God has brought salvation and forgiveness to human beings through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. The Law may tell us that we sin and deserve punishment. But the Gospel, the goodnews from God, tells us that Jesus Christ was punished in our place for our sins. Each and ever sin ever committed by a person has been taken away by Christ.

  • NAB Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE" --

This salvation is Godís gift to each of us. We do nothing to deserve it. It is a free gift of Godís choice, out of Godís love. This gift becomes ours when God gives it to us and in so doing creates faith to believe the gift is ours. And so we may confess ours sins to God knowing that He will forgive those sins and wash them away.

  • NAB John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
  • NAB John 1:9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

7. Sin and grace

For this reason Lutherans do not believe in freewill as taught in some churches. Freewill puts the responsibility of salvation upon human beings. If we do something, either keep the law well enough, or make a personal commitment to Jesus, or any other such effort, then God forgives our sins. But rather we learn from the Scriptures that human beings are so lost in their sins that they are as dead people already when it comes to spirituality. But God does not leave us in such hopeless straights. He reaches out to us in mercy and kindness. He first reach out in the person of His Son as His Son gave His life for us to take away sins and make salvation possible. Then God reaches out to each of us as He proclaims the goodnews of forgiveness to us and in so doing creates the faith in each of us that receives Godís gift. Human beings are born dead in sin, but God in mercy reaches out to us and makes us live spiritually again.

  • NAB Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • NAB Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

copyright Rev. David D. Reedy, 1999