[Think of a time when you got to meet a famous person or you got to go backstage at a concert]
Have you ever gotten backstage tickets or gotten premium access to a sporting event? What was it and how did you feel having that sort of access?
Today, in our last talk on faith, we’re going to discover that faith is an Access Pass to God, and the plan He has for us. So, let’s pray and then get in to the study.
Tonight, we’re going to be finishing up our study on faith. So far, we’ve discovered that faith is an attitude and that faith is hope.
Lesson 1: It’s an attitude because we have to live out our faith. Just like we resolve to live out being a fan of our favorite team, or we determine to live out our love for someone, we must make the choice to have an attitude of faith, choosing to trust God.
Lesson 2: In the midst of that, we remember that the only hope that we truly have is our faith. Hebrews says without faith, it is impossible to please God. In other words, your best efforts are not enough to please God! Faith is your only, best hope!
Lesson 3: Tonight, we’re going to finish up by seeing that faith is access.
The access that God gives us because of our faith is unique because it is not something that is open to the “general public.” Access to God is only available to those who have faith in God. So, tonight we’re going to talk about how to gain access, and how to use access.
Our primary Scripture tonight is Romans 5:1–5, but we’ll also be looking at some other passages of Scripture.
Romans 5:1–5 (ESV)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
What is Paul saying in this passage?
Do you agree with Paul? How might you disagree with him?
How does this passage relate to what he said previously about faith being hope in Romans 4 (in the last study)?
What is special about having access to God?
We need to realize that this is a huge deal! God is the Creator of the universe, not just a cool band or a famous celebrity. He’s God! He’s perfect (holy)! He’s all-powerful, all-knowing! People can’t even get access to other people sometimes, but as believers, through faith, we have unlimited access to God. That’s pretty cool.
If we have access to God, that means we have access to GRACE.
What is Grace? How is grace different from mercy?
The first thing that we see in this Romans passage is that we’ve been given access to God’s grace. Grace is undeserved kindness.
Mercy is not getting what (punishment) you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. So, mercy means God takes away His punishment, and grace means He gives you something better than you deserve!
What are some examples of God’s grace that nonbelievers receive?
Being alive, breathing, happiness, education, fun, the enjoyment of being around friends and family that love them
How does faith in Jesus give us access to grace that is inexperienced by non-believers? What is the difference between saving grace and common grace?
Common grace is the grace that God gives to all humanity, examples like those listed above. Saving grace is the undeserved kindness that God gives to anyone who believes that Jesus is their savior. Jesus gives us personal access to God, which then God adopts us in as his own. Nonbelievers do not have access to the perfect love that He gives to those who believe in Jesus. It’s only through Jesus they can have access.
Do you rejoice in hope of the glory of God? What does that look like?
When hard times hit and you suffer, do you rejoice? What are we supposed to rejoice in, in our sufferings?
We don’t rejoice that we have to suffer, that is not God’s heart. He is not a psychopath.
But we can rejoice because it is during these hard times that we can hope for God to show up. This hope will not disappoint. When we suffer, we have to rely on God, which makes our faith stronger. We get to experience his perfect love and the power of the Holy Spirit, because we cannot rely on ourselves.
What is perfect love?
Unconditional and ever faithful
It doesn’t matter what you have done, what’s been done to you, where you are or whom you are with.
If you are a believer, do you believe and experience this perfect love every day? How is your daily life different from when you believe in His perfect love?
What keeps you from believing and living in His love?
Ephesians 3:14–19 (NIV)
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Paul’s prayer for you as a Christian is to be completely aware of the love of Christ. He wants your roots, the foundation of your life, to be firmly planted in Jesus’s love. Why? Because he knows that everything in your life is going to fail you at some point, except for one thing: Jesus’s love for you.
That’s why he can say in 1 Corinthians 13 that everything will fail you except three: faith, hope, and love, but … the greatest of these is love.
Unfailing faith and unfailing hope are rooted in the love of Jesus Christ. It’s rooted in that love because the greatest expression of that love is exactly the thing that offers salvation to us: Jesus’s death on the cross! Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friend” (John 15:13).
Jesus expressed His perfect love by dying on the cross for us, even when we (humanity) didn’t want Him to! Humanity rejected Jesus, but He still loved us enough to die for us.
Faith gives you access to Christ’s love. Paul says he wants you to “know how wide, long, high, and deep” Christ’s love for you is. In other words, he wants you to be all up in it, surrounded by Jesus’s love.
It’s kind of like Jesus’s love is a house, and faith is the key that unlocks the door. Faith lets you come into Jesus’s house. It lets you become a part of His loving family. It lets you sit in His love seat … OK, bad pun … but you get the idea!
Last Word and Application
- Are you rooted in God’s love? If not, what are you rooted in? Where do you find your security?
- Are you trying to grasp how wide, long, high, and deep the love of Christ? How are you trying to understand it?
- How can this group of believers help you?
- What keeps you from experiencing His love that surpasses knowledge? Is there any sin that you need to confess and repent?
Remember that there is grace and unconditional love for those in Jesus. God wants us to live in his grace and perfect love.
Click HERE for the pdf version of the study!