Topic 10 The development of the basic beliefs of Christianity: Paul’s and James’ Perspectives of Salvation



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The development of the basic beliefs of Christianity: Paul’s and James’ Perspectives of Salvation


Topic 10

The development of the basic beliefs of Christianity: Paul’s and James’

Perspectives of Salvation


Suggested teaching time: 4 Periods (1 hour per period)

Main points:

  1. Change of sovereignty

  2. Mystical transformation

  3. Justification by faith

  4. Faith and work


Text Interpretations:

Paul interpreted Jesus Christ’s salvation to humankind from three perspectives when he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Early Church.


Firstly, Paul interpreted Jesus’ salvation using the concept of “change of sovereignty”. Paul realised that people did not obey God’s rules, but submitted to one’s own desires and evil thoughts, so that they were controlled by sin (Rom 3:9). As a result, people did evil things involuntarily. They found it hard to follow their conscience to do good acts. God then sent His Son Jesus to earth to redeem humankind and release people from the slavery of sins. Jesus was crucified on the cross. He sacrificed himself and died so that the humankind would be given salvation and could live under God’s sovereignty. Human beings desisted from being the slaves of sins and came to accept God’s sovereignty. The fulfillment of the change of sovereignty enabled people to stay away from sin and turn to God. Those who believed in salvation would receive an eternal life.
Secondly, Paul interpreted Jesus’ salvation using the concept of “mystical transformation”, which regenerated and transformed the believers. Jesus Christ loved the humankind and he was willing to sacrifice himself on the cross. If people experienced Jesus’ love and were willing to live according to God’s will, he/she would live a life of Christ and become a newborn man, being rewarded a new life. This was what mystical transformation meant. Paul stated that the idea of “human beings and God live and die together” was equivalent to mystical transformation, illustrating that one should live a new life and not to

The development of the basic beliefs of Christianity: Paul’s and James’ Perspectives of Salvation


judge others with worldly standards.
Finally, Paul interpreted God’s salvation plan using the idea of “justification by faith”. Justification by faith meant that the humankind should have faith so that they could receive God’s grace and be called sinless. By doing so, they could re-establish a good relationship with God. At that time, the Jews deeply believed that if one wanted to have an eternal life, they should not only believe in God but should also undergo circumcision and observe the Jewish laws. The idea of Paul’s justification by faith exempted the gentiles from observing the Jewish laws, that’s why Christianity spread rapidly throughout the gentile areas during Early Church.
During Early Church, James also interpreted the relationship between Faith and Work in his book. It could be seen as supplementary notes to Paul’s Justification by Faith. James thought that people should not rely solely on faith to achieve justification (having an appropriate relationship with God). Rather, they had to “work” and behave well. Faith without work is dead faith. James emphasised that people should not be justified by faith alone, but also by work which made his/her faith complete.
James’ teachings supplemented Paul’s idea on justification by faith. Their teachings enabled Christians of the Early Church to understand that the meaning of salvation should be fulfilled by behaving virtuously and living a life with faith and work.

Change of Sovereignty Teacher’s Guide 2-1





  1. Biblical reference: 1Corinthians 7:23; Romans 6:15-18, 7:15-23




  1. Objectives:

    • To understand Paul’s concept of the change of sovereignty. All human beings are controlled by sins. They should turn away from sin and live under God’s authority.

    • To understand that people are controlled by sins to do evil things. Their ability to do good is deprived.

    • To understand that God sent His own Son Jesus Christ to save the humankind. He died on the cross to redeem human beings from the mastery of sin.

    • To understand that people’s sovereignty of life can be transferred from sin to God by believing in Jesus Christ. Hence, their lives will be managed by God and they will live a new life with new directions and new principles.

    • To learn to transform one’s life and enhance the quality of life through the power of religious belief.

  1. Teaching strategies

Background Information


  • All human beings are controlled by sin to do evil things. Their ability to do good is deprived.

  • God sent His Son Jesus Christ to save the humankind. Jesus died on the cross to redeem human beings from the mastery of sin.

  • By believing in Jesus Christ, people’s sovereignty of life can be transferred from sin to God. Hence, their lives will be managed by God and they will live a new life with new directions and new principles.

Issues for Explorations


  • How should people live a new life after they have experienced the change of sovereignty?

Change of Sovereignty Teacher’s Guide 2-2




Enquiry Questions


  • According to Paul, what authority do people live under?

  • How can people turn away from sin and let God manage and guide their lives?

  • How can the concept of changing one’s sovereignty from sin to God become the direction for people to lead a brand new life?

Learning Activities

  • Through discussing selected news articles, understand that people, under the control of sin, always do evil involuntarily and fail to do good.

  • Through making a salvation plan for human beings, understand God’s salvation by sacrificing His own Son Jesus Christ to free people from the slavery of sin.

  • Through watching the testimony of Ngai Chi-heng and Lam Po, explore how one’s quality of life can be enhanced, and how one’s value system, attitudes and behaviour can change tremendously once a person believes in Jesus Christ and transfer his sovereignty of life from sin to God.

Key Concepts


  • Change of sovereignty

  • Sin

Generic Skills, Values and Attitudes Involved

  • Refer to the ‘Generic Skills, Values and Attitudes’ tables included in the corresponding lesson plans.

High-order Questions


  • What important role does religion play in life transformation and life renewal?

Extended Activities

  • Find out the difference in Paul’s value system, attitudes and behaviour before and after his conversion; explore how religious belief enhanced his quality of life.

Change of Sovereignty Activity One 3-1






Activity One


Enquiry Questions

Generic Skills

Values and Attitudes

According to Paul, what authority do people live under?

Communication skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills

Holy life, truth, self-reflection


Teaching Steps:

Step 1. Teacher does warm-up exercise with students by asking them to think about the meaning of sovereignty and the change of sovereignty

  • Teacher raises the questions:

      1. Have you heard about the term ‘sovereignty’? Under what situations do we usually hear about this term? (Guide students to spell the terms such as “national sovereignty”, “Sovereignty of Taiwan” and “Sovereignty of Diaoyutai Islands”, etc.)

      2. Teacher continues, “According to the international law, sovereignty means the exercise of power within a state or a nation. De jure sovereignty is the legal right to do so, de facto sovereignty is the ability in fact to do so.”

  • Teacher says:

    1. Sovereignty, such as the sovereignty within a nation or a place, is subject to changes. Did Hong Kong experience the change of sovereignty? What were the changes to Hong Kong government’s object of allegiance, the system of Hong Kong and people’s life style? (Guide students to give more examples of changes.)

  • Teacher and students discuss:

    1. Are there any examples of the change of sovereignty in our daily life? Who are affected by the changes? What are the impacts? (Guide students to give as many examples as possible. Teacher can inspire students to think further by quoting the following example: Before smoking was banned in restaurants, people could decide whether to smoke in the restaurants. However, after the ban was implemented, the sovereignty of making the decision has been changed. As a result, Hong Kong people can no longer smoke in restaurants as freely as before.)

Change of Sovereignty Activity One 3-2
Step 2. Teacher points out:

  • In brief, owning something means having the right to use it or to decide its future. In our daily life, we have encountered situations that are related to the change of sovereignty.

  • The change of sovereignty often exerts great impact on people, bringing drastic changes to their life.

  • The concept of ‘change of sovereignty’ could be found in Christianity. What kind of ‘change of sovereignty’ was it?


Step 3. Teacher carries out the “Who Has the Sovereignty?” activity with students, allowing students to explore Paul’s concepts on who took hold of human life’s sovereignty.

  • Teacher raises the questions:

    1. Although we cannot do whatever we want, who has the right to rule over our lives? (Guide students to answer “we ourselves” )

    2. What rights do people have when the sovereignty of their lives are in their own hands? (After students have expressed their opinions, teacher guides them to answer: When the sovereignty of human beings is in their own hands, they have the rights to make decision and set directions for their own lives.)

    3. In reality, to whom do we usually entrust the sovereignty of our lives?

    4. Teacher distributes ‘Appendix 1’ (Two news articles) and ‘Worksheet 1’ (Who has the sovereignty?) to students, and asks students to form groups to complete the first part of ‘Worksheet 1’ based on the information in ‘Appendix 1’.

  • Teacher discusses with students the questions on the worksheet:

    1. What mistakes did they make?

    2. What thoughts and values the people were subject to when they made such mistakes?

    3. Perhaps we will not commit theft or hit-and-run as the people mentioned in the news articles, however, have we been controlled by similar thoughts and values which led those criminals to commit crimes? (Teacher asks students to give examples.)

  • After discussion, teacher invites each group to present their ideas.


Step 4. Teacher and students read Romans 6:15-18, 7:15, 18-23 and 1 Corinthians 7:23, then complete the second part of ‘Worksheet 1’.

Change of Sovereignty Activity One 3-3




  • Teacher and students discuss questions on the worksheet:

  1. According to Paul, What are the laws that control people so that they cannot do good but evil? (The law of sin)

  2. What will people become if they follow the law of sin? (The slaves of sin)

  • Teacher goes further to discuss with students:

      1. According to Paul, people are controlled by sin so that they cannot help doing evil and find it difficult to do good. What is your opinion about his interpretation? (e.g. I don't do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do. (Rom 7:19) )

      2. Paul thought that people are controlled by sin, which means that they have given the sovereignty of their lives to sin and become the slaves of sin. As a result, people cannot help doing evil and find it difficult to do good. Have we ever been in such situation? (Teacher guides students to suggest examples or asks students to refer to the answer of Question 1c on ‘Worksheet 2’.)

      3. Why do people live under the mastery of sin and become the slaves of sin? (Teacher asks students to write their answers on the blackboard, such as being happier when behaving as they please, being not rational enough, being unable to stand firm, etc.)

  • Teacher shows ‘PowerPoint 1’ (Paul’s View on Sin) to illustrate Paul’s viewpoint on sin, such as the origin of sin and the relationship between sin and humankind. The emphasis is on how human beings, ignoring God’s Law and living under the mastery of sin, follow their desires and evil thoughts and become the slaves of sin.


Step 5. Teacher summarises:

  • Paul thought that human beings do not follow God’s Law but live under the mastery of sin. People follow their own desires and evil thoughts and become the slaves of sin.

  • Human beings, being the slaves of sin, do evil involuntarily and find it difficult to do the good they want.


Step 6. Teacher distributes ‘Students’ Reference: Material 1’ (Paul’s View on Sin), briefly explains it and wraps up the activity.

Change of Sovereignty Activity Two 3-1






Activity Two


Enquiry Questions

Generic Skills

Values and Attitudes

How can people turn away from sin and let God manage and guide their lives?

Communication skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills

Holy life, truth, love


Teaching Steps:

Step 1. Teacher raises the question:

    • Through Activity One, we know that human beings have become the slaves of sin. Do you think people can be transformed from the slaves of sin into God’s servants?

    • In other words, people must be redeemed from the mastery of sin and let God become their master. (In Christianity, this is called “redemption”) Teacher can illustrate the concepts by writing the words “Sin” and “God” on the blackboard. Draw a man below the word “Sin” and tell students that what we have to do is to find out ways to move the man to God’s side.


Step 2. Teacher carries out the “Angel’s mission” activity with students.

    • Teacher asks students to form groups and work on ‘Worksheet 2’ (God’s Salvation Plan). Students imagine that they are angels (God’s messengers) who are working out a plan based on the characters of God and people, so as to redeem human beings from the mastery of sin and bring them to live under God’s management.

    • Teacher and students study the following four proposals. Which proposal will you recommend to God?

  1. Proposal A: God forces all people to follow Him by means of severe punishment. Those who refuse to follow God will suffer from severe punishment.

  2. Proposal B: God deprives people of their freedom so that they can no longer choose between following Him and not following Him. Everyone will have to live under God’s rule.

  3. Proposal C: God gives people more freedom, reasoning power and the ability to make a rational decision on whether to follow Him.

  4. Proposal D: God forgives people’s sin unconditionally. People can choose whether to follow Him and live under His rule.

    • Teacher discusses the following questions on the worksheet with students:

  1. Why would you recommend the above proposal to God as a means to save people?

    • After discussion, teacher invites each group to present their ideas.

Change of Sovereignty Activity Two 3-2
Step 3. Teacher carries out the “God’s Salvation Plan” activity with students.

  • Teacher raises the question:

  1. How did God forgive people’s sin unconditionally so that they can choose whether to follow Him and live under His sovereignty?

  • Teacher shows ‘PowerPoint 2’ (God’s Salvation Plan - Simplified version of God’s Salvation Plan) or ‘PowerPoint 3’ (God’s Plan: The Road to Salvation - Full version of God’s Salvation Plan), introducing God’s salvation plan to students, emphasising the following (based on the simplified version of ‘PowerPoint 2’ on God’s Salvation Plan):

  1. Human beings, whose hearts are controlled by sin, cannot restore the relationship with God by themselves.

  2. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth as a sacrifice to redeem human beings from the mastery of sin so that people can live under God’s authority.

  3. In the Old Testament times, redemption is a process through which sin will be redeemed by offering a sacrifice as the atonement for sin. For instance, the Israelites offered the blood of sacrifices for redemption.

  4. Paul made use of the concept of redemption to illustrate how Jesus Christ was offered as a sacrifice to redeem people’s sin so as to free them from the mastery of sin and transfer their sovereignty of life from sin to God.

  5. It is very important for people to believe in Jesus Christ and get rid of sin so as to live under God’s authority.

  • Teacher goes further to discuss with students:

  1. Why did God save the humankind and forgive them unconditionally so that people can choose to follow Him and live under His authority? (The following answers are used in Section two of ‘Worksheet 2’. Teacher can guide students to answer the question by considering (i) The characters of God and human beings; (ii) God’s unconditional love for the humankind; (iii) The human nature of sinning; (iv) The fact that God shows respect to people’s freedom.)


Step 4. Teacher summarises:

    • God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth as a sacrifice to redeem human beings from the mastery of sin so that people can live under God’s authority.

    • Paul made use of the concept of redemption to illustrate how Jesus Christ was offered as a sacrifice to redeem people’s sin so as to free them from the mastery of sin and transfer their sovereignty of life from sin to God.


Step 5. Teacher distributes ‘Students’ Reference: Material 2’ (God’s Salvation Plan), briefly explains it and wraps up the activity.

Change of Sovereignty Activity Three 2-1






Activity Three


Enquiry Question

Generic Skills

Values & Attitudes

How can the concept of changing one’s sovereignty from sin to God become the direction for people to lead a brand new life?

Communication skills,

critical thinking skills,



problem solving skills

Holy life, truth, love


Teaching steps:

Step 1. Teacher raises the question:

    • When people believe in Christ, they will be free from the mastery of sin and their lives will be managed by God. What important impact will the conversion bring to believers’ lives?


Step 2. Teacher carries out the “Transformation of Life” activity with students.

    • Teacher raises the following:

  1. Some people believing in Christ have had the experience of regeneration which brings drastic changes to their lives. The old life is gone and a new chapter begins. Let us look at the stories of Nagi Chi-heng, a promising young man in the advertising profession and Lam Po (Uncle Po), a person who had been sentenced to death twice.

    • Teacher shows the following TV clips, asks students to form groups and finish ‘Worksheet 3’ (Transformation of Life):

  1. TV0890 – Temptation of Fame and Money (“Shower of Blessings”, 2007-05-17), visit http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=162275699673495366 or http://youtube.com/watch?v=jdT0q09Qoig

  2. TV0729 – The Way Out (“Shower of Blessings”, 2006-08-1), visit http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-1380171889817097738&q=SOBEM+%28%E6%81%A9%E9%9B%A8%E4%B9%8B%E8%81%B2%29+-site%3Ayoutube.com&total=163&start=0&num=100&so=2&type=search&plindex=22 (If students cannot visit the above websites, they can just read the testimony of Lam Po extracted from “Shower of Blessings” on http://www.singpao.com/20070617/feature/920549.html).

    • Teacher discusses the questions on the worksheet with students:

  1. What kind of change of sovereignty have they experienced?

Change of Sovereignty Activity Three 2-2


  1. How would you comment on the changes in their lives?

  2. How did these changes benefit them and those around them?

  3. What is the power behind the great changes in their lives? (Guide students to understand that people are originally enslaved to sin, but they can let God manage their lives through following Christ. The change of sovereignty brings people new directions and enhances the quality of life.)


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