Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2005
The Cross and Justification
[Title] The Cross and Justification
[Text] Romans 3: 20-28; 4:1-8, 13; 5: 14-18; 6:23; 9: 31,32; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Ephesians 2:9; Isaiah 53:11; Matthew 22:1-14; Galatians 2:16; 3: 8-11
[Use] March 12, 2005
Journalist Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped and held by insurgents in Iraq for a month. March 4th, Italian Secret Service agent Nicola Calipari was fatally shot as he leaned over Sgrena to shield her from bullets fired by U.S. troops at the car they were both riding in to the Baghdad airport. Allegedly the car failed to stop at a U.S. check-point.
Giuliana was injured in the incident. Two other Italian agents who had just negotiated Sgrena's freedom were also wounded. The ANSA news agency quoted the journalist's boyfriend as saying she told him that the most difficult moment was when she saw the person who had saved her die in her arms.
In other news this past week Supreme Court Justices stuck down the death penalty for juvenile killers. There are 19 American states who still execute criminals who are minors and 72 inmates held on death row who were not yet 18 when they committed their crime(s). Regardless of the heinous crimes they committed, they received reprieve from the electric chair or lethal injection.
According to reporters in the Fort Worth, Texas Star Telegram, Texas houses 29 of the 72 inmates who benefited from this ruling and will likely be removed from death row to serve life in prison. In Texas, inmates serving life sentences are eligible for parole after 40 years behind bars.
The Justices of the United State's highest court based their decision on evidence found in new scientific data. In its briefs to the court, the American Psychiatric Association explained that recent brain research indicates that crucial parts of the mind develop later than previously believed. This immature, but normal development, robs late-year teenagers of the impulse control and decision-making ability of people just a few years older.
The best news is that the Supreme Court of Heaven has shielded all of us and kept us from death row. Jesus, God's Son who "knew no sin," took our sins and their penalty and died so that we will be able to live in eternally--in spite of our sinful nature.
For by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone of us would boast... that I'm saved because of what I do or don't do, eat or don't eat, wear or don't wear, what office I hold at church or how much money I put in the offering plate, etc.
Author Ellen White compares the self-pious attitude of some Christian believers to "a conceited Pharisee who regards self a paragon of virtue and piety." You can read the account in Luke 18:9-14 or in an amplified version in Christ's Object Lessons, "The Two Worshipers" (online) at:
Our Bible study texts this week reinforce the fact that we, like juvenile offenders and Giuliana Sgrena, cannot save ourselves. We are justified solely through the merits of Christ--period. No matter how hard we try or how we interpret Scripture, there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. The price has already been paid.
We have been reprieved from death row! Jesus served "time" so we don't have to. Why then is it so hard to witness to others of Jesus incredible gift? Are we wishy-washy witness-ers? Do we question the verdict? Is the gift too good to be true?
Maybe we need to practice telling another member of our Bible Study group our salvation story until we feel comfortable with our testimony so that this week we can tell others about our indescribable Gift. God's gift has a name-tag on it for everyone. Take a good look at yours. Then keep passing the Word along.