John 15:9-14 (NRSV)

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

  1. What does it mean to abide in God’s love?

1 John 3:16-18 (NRSV)

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

James 2:14-17 (NRSV)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

  1. Both of these passages from two different New Testament authors heavily emphasize our actions and seem to downplay words and faith. What do you make of this emphasis on works and actions in relation to your understanding of salvation?
  2. How do these passages appear to challenge Paul’s assertions about faith and grace, particularly in Romans? Are Paul, James, and John contradicting each other in their theologies of faith and works? If not, how do you make sense of what they say about faith and action?
  3. These two passages also speak to the treatment of those in need or what may be called social justice. What do you think of when you hear the term “social justice”? How does social justice relate to the Gospel?
  4. What do you think of when you hear the word “justice”?
  5. How are retributive justice and restorative justice different? 
  6. What does the Bible mean when it speaks of justice?