Religion or Response?

Posted by Karah


Take a moment before you begin today and thank God for the amazing gift of salvation.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” —John 3:16-17

Read John 3:1-21.

A Pharisee Nicodemus approached Jesus by night and called him “Rabbi,” which can also mean Master. He was respectful of Jesus, but his questions revealed his uncertainty of Jesus’ claims. Jesus immediately directed the conversation to the fact that religious knowledge doesn’t earn salvation.

• What does Nicodemus’ conversation with Jesus reveal about his understanding of who Jesus was?

• Think about how Jesus’ gospel contradicted the legalistic beliefs of the Pharisees. What are the main differences between religion and a saving faith in Christ?

Religion                                                                                                               Jesus



• What does this passage reveal about the personal nature of the gospel? Eternal life? God’s love for you? Explain.


• Salvation isn’t free—God sent His own Son to pay the price for your reconciliation. As you go through the rest of the week, meditate on God’s gift to you.

• How would you personally explain what it takes to be saved? Journal the story of when you trusted Jesus as Savior. Then, pray and ask God to help you know how to tell someone else about Him. If you have not placed your faith in Jesus, talk with someone that you trust, like your parent or one of your camp counselors, about the Gospel.

• For further study on the difference between religious knowledge and salvation, read Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke (Thomas Nelson, 2013).


Much debate centers around how a person is saved, but the most important truth to cling to is that God is the initiator of salvation. Redemption was God’s idea, carried out by His Son. We are accountable for our response in either belief or disbelief. A cohesive reading of the Bible concludes, “It is unproductive theological speculation, therefore, to minimize either the role of God or of humanity in the salvation process. The Bible and John 3:16 recognize the roles of both.”¹


Jesus died for you personally. To be saved, you must respond to His gospel.



¹Gerald L. Borchert, New American Commentary – Volume 25a: John 1-11, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1996), WORDsearchCROSS e-book, 183.

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