Come as you are. Bring a Bible & a friend. All are welcome. Studies last one hour.
One of the great failures of understanding when it comes to the intersection of the ideas of grace, faith and works in salvation is rooted in the idea of contingency. In other words, we are not saved by any of these items independently, but each is interdependent, or contingent upon the other.
The word contingent is defined as “dependent on or conditioned by something else” (Merriam Webster).
A spirit of radical giving organically existed among the original disciples that, in many ways, contradicts and has become lost in today’s capitalistic, materialistic and individualistic mindset. Sure, instead of disciples helping disciples, radical giving has given way to societal welfare programs, which now fill these basic needs. Still, politically and socially, many disciples today passionately resist and chaff against this spirit. Yet, it remains a testament to and an identifying quality of the first believers. Many churches claiming to have restored (past tense) first century Christianity have not recaptured this spirit. Far too many individual Christians are content to let the government meet these needs. While there are many reasons this quality has been largely lost on the church today, the resulting ramifications of its loss are keenly and broadly realized in the lives and love of disciples today.
The Corinthian brethren wrote to Paul with questions regarding, among other topics, the marriage relationship (1 Cor. 7:1ff). In response, Paul sets forth some principles covering various aspects of the marriage relationship. Among these principles, the ideas of separation and divorce are considered—both of which are widely practiced in our culture and of great concern among disciples.
A woman was caught in the very act of adultery. They brought her to Jesus to test Him, that they might find something of which to accuse Him. Perhaps they sought to accuse Him of breaking Moses’ law. The Law of Moses was clear, that such a one should be stoned to death (though they were very selective in their application of the law in this case – cf. Lev. 20:10). They pressed Jesus and waited to see what He would say.
His eventual reply was simple, profound and struck to the core of the issue with astounding effect.
Are you, as a Christian, the salt of the earth or are you just salty?
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus challenges His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matt. 5:13). He expects us to flavor the earth and season the world for good, not be flavored and seasoned by the world for naught.
There are few things in this world as spiritually empowering as a clean conscience. Conversely, there are few things as spiritually debilitating as a corrupt conscience. The apostle Paul strove, “to have a conscience without offense toward God and Men” (Acts 24:16). Yet, Paul spoke of those whose consciences had been, “seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2).
The same conscience that let Paul to persecute Christians, even unto death (Gal. 1:13; Acts 22:4), also allowed Paul to boldly preach the gospel he once defamed, nearly resulting in his own death on several occasions (2 Cor. 11:23-28). Why is this? It is because Paul believed what he was doing was right. He had a clear conscience in both cases, albeit misguided in one.