Week 2: Justifying Grace
For the Leader:
Outside all the Zombie talk we’re using to hopefully grab and hold attention of the kids, this week’s real topic is Justifying Grace. Today, some call God’s justifying grace “conversion” or being “born again.” When we experience God’s justifying grace, we come into that new life in Christ. John Wesley (Mr. Methodism) believed that people are free to accept or reject God’s justifying grace. The beginning of justifying grace is the understanding that we can’t do it on our own. It is realizing that we are….not good!
Not only that, but that we specifically need JESUS in our life. If you realize you have a disease as we talked about last week, and then decide to go to a painter, vet, or auto mechanic for a cure, it’s probably not going to be very helpful. They may be able to produce or fix something that makes you feel better temporarily, but ultimately, you need a doctor! That’s the principle behind justifying grace. It’s realizing that we’re zombies…realizing that we’re walking dead and that we’ll stay that way without God. Jesus talks a lot about this concept. He says, “Unless a man is born again, he will not see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) He talks a lot about coming to a point of “repentance.”
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) And in his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul wrote: “But God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
These verses demonstrate the justifying grace of God. They point to reconciliation, pardon, and restoration. Through the work of God in Christ our sins are forgiven, and our relationship with God is restored. According to John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, the image of God—which has been distorted by sin—is renewed within us through Christ’s death.
Again, this dimension of God’s grace is a gift. God’s grace alone brings us into relationship with God. There are no hoops through which we have to jump in order to please God and to be loved by God. God has acted in Jesus Christ. We need only to respond in faith.
Again, this week’s point (in relation to the walking dead) is the fact that we have to realize we’re dead.
Week 2: (Justifying Grace) Sometimes, the best thing for a zombie is to be put out of their misery. A huge part of justifying grace is putting ourselves second….dying to self. Dying to our flesh. It’s the point when we realize we’re dead. And when we realize our need for Jesus.
- John 3:3
- Galations 2:20
- Luke 9:23
- Mark 8:35
- Romans 5:8
Between Now and then:
This week try texting, Facebooking, or emailing your kids some scripture. Maybe even some of the scripture mentioned above. Ask them to think on it and let you know what they think it means for them. You’ll be surprised at some of the answers. Remember, even if they are WAY off base, try not to tell them they’re “wrong.” Maybe just present another point of view for them.
Middle School Adaptation:
Human Knot – Put your group in a circle and have them grab the hands of 2 people who aren’t next to them. Tell them that they have to untangle themselves into a circle without letting go of any hands. Stand back and watch the chaos. Each group member will be trying to figure this out for themselves. Once they realize that they can’t do it on their own (and maybe they’ll even need your help) the process should go a lot easier and quicker. Use this to talk about justifying grace and how we have to come to a place where we know we can’t make it without Jesus in our lives.
Share the story of the time you experienced Justifying Grace (got saved, became a Christian, or whatever term you want to use). Encourage the students to share with the group, too. This should also give a better picture of Prevenient Grace. Don’t force them to talk if they don’t want to. Maybe have one or 2 people picked out and warned about this before the group meets. It may take the pressure off and encourage others to participate.
These questions are to be used as a GUIDE:
- Can you see yourself as “walking dead” without Jesus? What factors brought you to that realization?
- Mention the fact that you shouldn’t go to the mechanic, painter, vet, etc. for human sickness. Then discuss what people use to try and take the place of Jesus. Have you seen that in your life?
- Sometimes the Bible says things we think we’re expected to understand. Sometimes it’s good to know that some things in the Bible are just tough to get. Read through the scriptures in the “In Scripture” section above together. Talk about what it means to “die to self”, be “born again”, “lose your life” and be “crucified with Christ.” It’s ok if you don’t have the answer. Just see what they think. Make notes of anything interesting and share your thoughts.
- How do you think we receive this Justifying Grace? Does God just spring it on us? Is it from Church? Is it from friends sharing?