Uncompromising Orthodoxy (Part Four): Sin and Salvation

By Cameron Silsbee

Begin with prayer

Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other, and then have somebody pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Take a few minutes to go around the group to debrief how the Practice went this past week. 

Read this overview

Something has gone horribly wrong; that much is clear. Everyone agrees on that. What exactly has happened, why it is the way it is, and what to do about it are questions that do not have universally agreed-upon answers. Sifting through different religions, political ideologies, and philosophers, one will find many differing and often conflicting answers. 

The Scriptures tell a single, unified story that answers these questions. We find out what has happened, why the world is the way it is, and what needs to be done about it. The Scriptures start in a garden with rebellion and end in a garden city with the renewal of all things. In between those two points of the story, we find ourselves in the Pacific Northwest in 2022.

In popular Christian culture, words like “sin” and “salvation” reverberate around church buildings so frequently that they have lost much of their meaning and impact. The words themselves become caricatures of what they are supposed to represent from the story of the Scriptures. Yet, for 2,000 years, the church has been living proof that what we believe about sin and salvation fundamentally impacts the way we live our lives as followers of Jesus every day.

Talk through the following discussion questions:

There are two prominent extremes when it comes to the idea of sin in our culture. For some, they’ve experienced or witnessed the concept of sin as a weapon to wield in order to condemn or exclude those who don’t measure up or conform. For others, the idea of sin seems like an ancient, antiquated concept that the world should have done away with long ago. Nowadays, they argue, we know that morality is purely subjective, and any moral claims to the contrary are dangerous. Both of these approaches to sin miss the mark and muddy our understanding of “salvation.” 

Have one person read Colossians 1v22-23 to hear one way the Scriptures talk about sin and salvation. Then discuss the following questions:

  1. Do you tend to see people as inherently good (morally) or inherently bad? Does that differ from how you view yourself?
  2. When you sin, are you more inclined to be overly hard on yourself or more prone to let yourself off the hook for your attitudes and actions?
  3. In your own words, why do you think that you need salvation?
  4. Do you or have you ever struggled believing that God has saved you?

Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:

For this week’s Practice, read through the following texts:

  • Colossians 1v22-23
  • Ephesians 2v1-10
  • Revelation 21v1-8

Set aside to read each text slowly. Take note of anything surprising, confusing, or that resonates with you. As you read, ask yourself this question: What are the Scriptures telling us about sin and salvation?

Be prepared to debrief your time with your Community next week. 

Close in prayer

End your time as a group by having one person say the Nicene Creed. 

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.