Study Guide: Let’s Not Make-a-Deal

Sunday March 11, 2012 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Salvation is usually defined as a distinct moment in time. It is a deal that we make with God to get out of hell. In this sermon, Greg talks about how salvation is so much more than a one-time deal, and there is something better behind curtain number 2 (guaranteed).

Extended Summary:

Last week, we discussed what it looks like to be rooted in Christ. This rootedness involves both salvation and discipleship. The key to this rootedness was to continuing to walk in a certain direction or way. This is one of the most basic and difficult parts of being a Christian.

This is not the typical description of Christianity that we hear. This walking involves life-long effort, and yet we hear that it only takes a moment to be a part of the Kingdom. One step instead of a journey. While the salvation moment is important, centering our entire faith on it makes our faith contractual and not covenantal. We make salvation a legally-binding contract between us and God, where if we pray the sinner’s prayer, then we get to go to heaven. But we lose out on so much of what God offers by thinking in contractual terms.

In contracts, there is usually a purchase of goods during a legal deal. This legal deal involves two or more parties where they enter into an agreement. The parties trust in the legal contract and not each other. It is a self-oriented way of doing things, where it is meant to protect oneself from others.

In covenants, there is a marriage where people exchange their lives in personal pledges to one another. It involves parties and celebrations. The people involved trust each other. It is an other-oriented arrangement, where people trust and love others instead of only seeing what they get out of it.

Salvation is about entering a marriage with Jesus. It’s about him sharing his life with us and us surrendering ours to him. It is participating in the eternal fellowship of the Trinity. It is about growing in knowledge and love for Jesus and learning how to be a trusting and trustworthy spouse. It is about getting ready for the marriage supper and learning how to partner with God on this Earth.

This is why the New Testament never separates salvation and discipleship. Becoming the bride involves a salvation moment and a continual walking out of our faith. It is not commands that we obey, but rather a relationship that we honor. It is not fire-insurance. When we think in terms of contract, we lose the relationship aspect of our walk with God. It simply becomes freedom to do what we want with no consequences because that is what Jesus bought us.

We don’t earn the love of a spouse. We don’t purchase a marriage with a spouse (nowadays anyway). It’s for free. But it would be ridiculous to then live a life without caring how we treat a spouse. Our relationship with Jesus is the same.

If salvation is a marriage covenant (and it is), then it’s something we never forget. It’s about surrendering to Jesus and the only life we have to surrender to him is this life. The important question becomes “how do I take the next step with Jesus” and not “did I remember to take that one step with Jesus, and was that one step enough?”

It is important to remember this relationship with God is a covenant. It is extremely difficult to remain rooted in Christ if we simply view the relationship as a contract. A one-time purchase is easily forgotten, but a person we have everyday interaction with, is a part of every step we take.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Why is contract thinking so much more comfortable than covenant thinking?
  3. Is it ok to expect things from God in a covenant relationship?
  4. What would a contract marriage look like? What would a covenant marriage look like? Which would you prefer to be a part of?
  5. If salvation is a life-long process involving an everyday relationship with Jesus, can we lose our salvation if we mess up that walk?