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Lesson 10: Facing The Giants (Mark 14:43-15:47)

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Question to consider: Recall the worst 12 hours of your life. What happened? How did you get through it?

Historical Insight: Here is a possible timeline for the day of the crucifixion.

3 AM

4-6 AM

6-8 AM

9 AM

Noon to 3 PM

3 PM

Arrest

Trial before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin

Trial before Pilate

Crucified

Darkness over the land

Jesus died

Day One Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 14:43-52.

1. Discover the Facts: Jesus was praying and waiting in the garden to be arrested. He knew it would happen; this was not a surprise to God. Jesus did not run away.

  • Whom did the Sanhedrin send to arrest Jesus (v. 43)?
  • How did the armed crowd identify Him (vv. 44-45)?
  • How did you feel when you read that Judas called Jesus “rabbi” and kissed Him?
  • What did the disciple standing nearby do to defend Jesus (vv. 46-47)? See John 18:10.
  • What is Jesus’s response to the crowd, exposing their deceitfulness (vv. 48-49)?
  • What happened to His disciples (v. 50)? But, see v. 54.
  • Who else was there as an eyewitness (vv. 51-52)?

Did God need a betrayer for Jesus to get arrested? No. He chose to use Judas’s sinfulness to represent the sin of man in opposition against God. Judas represented evil, the sinfulness of man. And, Judas was part of God’s plan to fulfill the Scriptures in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.

Read Mark 14:53-65.

2. Discover the Facts: The Sanhedrin consisted of 70 members. Not all were present at this “trial.”

  • Where was Jesus taken (v. 53)?
  • Where is Peter (v. 54)?
  • What did the religious leaders want but could not get (vv. 55-56)?
  • What was the accusation against Him (vv. 57-59)?

Scriptural Insight: There is no recorded statement from Jesus about this. Perhaps it is a misuse of His words in John 2:18-22. In Acts 7, we read that the Sanhedrin throws a similar accusation at Stephen and stones him for it.

  • When asked to respond to the accusation, what did Jesus say (vv. 60-61)?
  • When asked if He is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One, what did Jesus say (v. 62)?
  • What was the High Priest’s response (vv. 63-64)?

Focus on the Meaning: Remember that blasphemy is anything that slanders God’s name or claims God’s majesty and authority. Jesus did not commit blasphemy since He was the Son of God as He said.

  • What did the onlookers do (vv. 64-65)?

3. Read v. 62 again. Read Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13-14. Did Jesus claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God?

4. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s study speaks to your heart?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Two Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 14:66-72.

1. Discover the Facts: While Jesus was being attacked upstairs, Peter was being attacked in a different way.

  • Who came by Peter in the courtyard, and what did she do (vv. 66-67)?
  • What did Peter say (v. 68)?
  • What did the servant girl do then (v. 69)?
  • What is Peter’s response to those who said he had been “with the Nazarene” (v. 70-71)?
  • What happened next (v. 72)?

Think About It: As I was preparing this lesson, I realized that Peter wanted to stay close by because he loved Jesus. And, he wanted to just be left alone. It wasn’t his faith that failed him. It was his courage and maybe his hope. Add to that exhaustion. How often does exhaustion, wanting to be left alone, and avoiding conflict get you into trouble?

2. Heartbreak to Hope: God doesn’t entice anyone to sin (James 1:13-14), but He does lead us to a place where we are tested (Job 1; Matthew 4:1; 6:13). His method of instruction is 1) Prepare by instruction (what Jesus had done) and 2) Learn by experience.

Testing reveals to us that we are weak in our humanity regarding even our good intentions. It also shows the terrible possibilities in us because sin is still in us. But, testing teaches us that the safest place to be is in humble dependence upon God (Romans 13:14; 2 Corinthians 1:9). Our prayer should be, “Lord, protect me from myself.”

What have you learned through a time of testing?

Read Mark 15:1-15.

3. Discover the Facts: Pilate was a bad dude. He minted coins with pagan images on them. He stole from the temple treasury to build an aqueduct and killed those who protested against that. Pilate represents worldly authority.

  • What did the Sanhedrin do with Jesus (v. 1)?

Historical Insight: The Sanhedrin apparently reached the decision to accuse Jesus before the civil authority for treason rather than blasphemy. Then He could be executed by the Romans. (NIV Study Bible 1984 Edition, note on Mark 15:1, p. 1527)

  • Why do you think they bound Him?
  • What did Pilate ask Jesus (v. 2)?
  • How did Jesus answer Pilate?
  • What is Pilate’s next question (v. 4)?
  • When Jesus refused to answer, what is Pilate’s response (v. 5)?

Historical Insight: According to Roman Law, if the accused made no defense, he would be considered guilty and judged as guilty.

  • Pilate could release Jesus or the murderous rebel in his jail. What did he recognize in the religious leaders (v. 10)?
  • What did the religious leaders do to get their way (v. 11)?
  • What response did the crowd give to Pilate’s questions (vv. 12-14)?
  • What did Pilate do (v. 15)?

Think About It: Was Pilate acting as an impartial judge? No. He asked questions for which he didn’t really want answers. His judicial decision was prompted by a desire to satisfy the crowd. Judgment in a Roman court was the sole responsibility of the imperial magistrate. There was no jury of peers. Pilate was a man of the world who rationalized to evade responsibility and the truth. Interestingly, he wanted to wash himself of blame for this judgment, but every doctrinal creed for Christians since this day says, “Suffered under Pontius Pilate.” God didn’t let him be forgotten.

4. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s study speaks to your heart?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Three Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 15:16-20.

1. Discover the Facts: Before this time, Jesus had little interaction with Roman soldiers (who were all non-Jewish) except for those centurions who sought His help in healing someone from their household.

  • Where did the soldiers take Jesus (v. 16)?
  • What did they do and say to Him there (vv. 17-19)?
  • After they finished mocking Jesus, what did they do (v. 20)?

Read Mark 15:21-32.

Historical Insight: Crucifixion as a means of execution had been around for at least 100 years. The Phoenicians used it. Even a Jewish king had used it. The Romans popularized it, primarily using it for revolutionaries, criminals, and slaves to deter rebellion. To keep the Jews satisfied, they did not leave crucified Jews on the cross after death though non-Jews were left for days. Roman citizens were never crucified. Jesus was identified with the lowest of society here.

2. Discover the Facts: Mark’s account of the crucifixion is the briefest of the four gospels. You can read Matthew 27:33-34; Luke 23:33-43; and John 19:17-24 to find out more information.

  • Who was drafted to help Him carry the cross beam?

Scriptural Insight: Simon was probably a Jew who was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Alexander and Rufus are only mentioned by Mark, but referred to in such a way as to suggest that they were known by those to whom he wrote. Rufus may be the same person spoken of by Paul in Romans 16:13. (NIV Study Bible 1984 Edition, note on Mark 15:21, p. 1528)

  • Where did they take Jesus (v. 22)?
  • What happened there (vv. 23-24)?

Historical Insight: It was the accepted right of the executioner’s squad to claim the minor possessions of the victim. Jesus’s clothing probably consisted of an under and an outer garment, a belt, sandals and possibly a head covering. Casting lots was a common practice for them to do this and fulfilled Psalm 22:18. (NIV Study Bible 1984 Edition, note on Mark 15:24, p. 1529)

  • What did the sign above his head say (v. 26)?
  • Who else was crucified that day (v. 27)?
  • What did those passing by do (vv. 29-30)?
  • What did the chief priests and lawyers do and admit about Him (vv. 31-32)?

3. Were the religious leaders sincere in their statement that they would believe if He came down from the cross? How do you know?

4. Read Luke 23:40-43. What do we know about one of those who were crucified with Jesus?

Think About It: Sin was very ugly that day. The one who was supposed to represent Jesus before God—the chief priest—did not do that. Those guiltier than Jesus heaped insults on Him. Those who saw Jesus heal many (“save others”) felt no compassion for His unjust execution. But, this was all part of God’s plan. There were no surprises.

5. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s study speaks to your heart?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Four Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 15:33-41.

1. Discover the Facts: Jesus spoke 7 times from the cross. Mark only records 1 of them.

  • What happened between noon and 3 PM (v. 33)?

Historical Insight: Based on the latest research into historical records, it is generally thought that the Crucifixion took place on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33 and the resurrection on Sunday, April 5. The Crucifixion had to occur in a year when Nisan 14 fell on a Friday. This happened in A.D. 33. Astronomy presents another insight related to the Crucifixion. Just as the sun was setting on April 3 of A.D. 33, there was an eclipse of the moon, giving the moon a dark red color. (Rodger C. Young, Book review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology, by Andrew E. Steinmann, accessed online)

  • Read Amos 8:9-10 for the prediction of this event. What are the similarities?
  • At 3 PM, what did Jesus cry out (v. 34)?

Think About It: Why did Jesus quote Psalm 22:1? The words accurately reflect what Jesus felt in His humanity, just as He shrunk back from the cross while in the garden. He identified with people in the horror of sin as the sin of the world was placed on Him. But, He was in the center of God’s will for His life and not really forsaken by God. Perhaps He was pointing those listening to Psalm 22, whose words amazingly describe a crucifixion 1000 years before this happened. It was as if He was saying, “David wrote about me.” Although often taught that God turned His back on Jesus that day, there is no verse in the New Testament declaring that. It is a mystery beyond our comprehension regarding what was going on between the Father and the Son at the cross.

  • What did the bystanders hear and do (vv. 35-36)?
  • How did Jesus die (v. 37)? See John 19:30.
  • What happened next (v. 38)? See also Matthew 27:51.

Historical Insight: The inner “veil” of the temple is probably in view here, the one separating the holy place from the most holy place. It was a most elaborately woven fabric that was 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and of the thickness of the palm of the hand. The tearing happened at 3:00 PM, the time of the evening incense offering. A priest would normally have been standing in the holy place offering incense when it tore (cf. Luke 1:8-10). Some early non-biblical Jewish sources also report unusual phenomena in the temple 40 years before its destruction in A.D. 70, one of which is the temple curtain tearing. The fact that this occurred from top to bottom signified that God is the One who ripped the thick curtain. It was not torn from the bottom by men ripping it. (Dr. Constables Notes on Matthew 2017 Edition, p. 471)

  • Based on the above information, what does the tearing from top to bottom mean?
  • What did the Roman centurion notice and declare (v. 39)?
  • Who else was there watching (vv. 40-41)?

Think About It: Many of these women had been caring for His needs for a long time. But, now God is in charge, and they aren’t. They probably felt helpless since they could do nothing for Him. Jesus told them the plan, too. Like the men, they didn’t get it. So, they might have felt hopeless as well.

If you trace the use of the words “follow” and “minister” throughout the Gospel of Mark, you will see how the author used these same words to depict serious disciples. … The women as depicted by Mark do “whatever disciples may do on behalf of their teachers,” which might include table service, but it may include other forms of self-denying sacrifice, as well.

2. “It is finished” (John 19:30). These final words from Jesus come from an accounting term in Greek meaning, “a debt is paid in full.” What debt was paid in full that day? See Colossians 2:13-14 and other Bible verses you know that answer this question.

Think About It: When Jesus said, “It is finished.” God agreed. It is finished. The debt for sin was paid in full. The Old Covenant represented by the veil separating man from God is over. The New Covenant began.

Read Mark 15:42-47.

3. Discover the Facts: Jesus’s friends couldn’t help during the crucifixion. But, now they can do something to show their love for Him.

  • What was coming soon that created the urgency to act (v. 42)?
  • What is known about the one who buried Jesus’s body (v. 43)? See also Matthew 27:57.
  • What actions did Pilate take in response to Joseph’s request (vv. 44-45)?
  • What did Joseph do (v. 46)? See who helped him in John 19:39.
  • What did Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses see (v. 47)?

Historical Insight: The Romans confirmed that Jesus was truly dead and had not just swooned or passed out. Two women knew exactly where the body was placed and would not have forgotten that location between Friday and Sunday.

4. Heartbreak to Hope: Ugly sin nailed sinless Jesus to a shameful cross in our place. Yet, our God is able to make ugly beautiful. What ugliness in your life has God made beautiful because of your faith in Jesus’s death on the cross for you?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

[To see more of what God has made beautiful in your life, read the following essay, “Christ’s Finished Work on the Cross.”]

— —— — —

Christ’s Finished Work On The Cross

Announcement To The World: It Is Finished!

The gospel is an announcement to the world of an accomplished fact. What God set out to do for mankind, He accomplished. The apostles declared this from the time of Pentecost (Acts 2) and beyond.

Salvation is available on the basis of a single condition: faith (or “belief”). Belief is not just intellectual assent that something might be true. Belief is a commitment of the will. It is the difference between walking alongside a pool of water (seeing it is there) and jumping into the water (experiencing the water personally). God acted; we are to respond to His action by saying yes and jumping into the new life God has for us. Those who respond with faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, receive a firm assurance of security (1 John 5:13), a secure new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and a true knowledge of God as seen through all that He has done through Christ’s finished work on the cross.

Six terms describe how our relationship with God is made new because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—Propitiation, Reconciliation, Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification, and Sanctification. These 6 relationship changes are the direct result of Christ’s finished work on the cross so they are often called “words of the cross.” We will cover them one at a time.

Word Of The Cross #1 Propitiation: “God’s Holy Wrath Is Fully Satisfied.”

../../../Joyful%20Walk%20Blog/Other%20Blogs%20Written/Other%20Blog%20Post%20Graphics/Words%20of%20the%20Cross/Propitiation-Satisfied-GodNoLongerAngryAtYou-MelanieNewton-sq200.jpgIt comes up time and time again. Women who know Christ and have trusted in Him for salvation and new life struggle with the notion that God is still angry with them because of something they’ve done in the past. Maybe that is how you feel.

Do you wonder if you have a flawed understanding of salvation? Is salvation just getting eternal life when you die? From what are Christians saved? When you study the New Testament, you see that we are saved from many things, including ourselves and our own flawed righteousness. But, the main emphasis is that we are saved from the wrath of God.

What does that mean? And, how does understanding that give you confidence that God is no longer angry with you or at you?

What Is The Wrath Of God?

In Colossians, Paul described God’s response to all evil and sin as righteous, holy wrath (Colossians 3:6). We must not project our experience with human anger onto God and assume that “His is the same, only bigger.” God’s wrath is not a mood or a fit of temper. God’s disposition toward sin and evil is as constant and unrelenting as His love and goodness. He hates and rejects evil with a perfect and holy anger. He will never bend or compromise with it. His own nature demands that He judge it through action. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it (Romans 1:18-20). Every wrathful judgment of God in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.

God hates sin. It incurs His anger. You can probably recall a time when you incurred the anger of someone you love and needed to make some kind of restitution to “appease” their anger. The act of appeasement leads to that person now being satisfied because restitution has been made, so the relationship can be restored. That is what God did for us. Romans 3:25 says that God presented Christ as a sacrifice of propitiation for our sins. Propitiation is an old word meaning “to appease, satisfy.” Some translations use the words “sacrifice of atonement” or “atoning sacrifice” instead. The concept of God’s satisfaction is the same.

God’s Wrath Is Fully Satisfied

God took action. God’s holy wrath against all sin is fully satisfied by Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. Because of that, God is able to extend mercy to every believer in Christ without compromise with evil. This is truth for you to know and claim.

Romans 5:9 says this, “Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath.”

There is no longer any sacrifice that anyone can ever do to appease God’s wrath against sin apart from what Christ has already done. Picture an empty altar—never again used. Jesus did the appeasement for you. It’s done, finished!

God Is No Longer Angry At You

Because you have trusted Christ and are now found in Christ, you can dwell on the FACT that God is no longer angry at your sin—ever! You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that God is SATISFIED…NO LONGER ANGRY at your sin because you believe in His Son.

Word Of The Cross #2 Reconciliation: “Our Relationship With God Is Restored.”

../../../Joyful%20Walk%20Blog/Other%20Blogs%20Written/Other%20Blog%20Post%20Graphics/Words%20of%20the%20Cross/Reconciliation-RestoredRelationshipwithGod-MelanieNewton-sq200.pngAt some point in our lives, we all experience a personal relationship that is broken. You can probably think of one such conflict right now. Broken relationships cause pain and often leave us confused about how we can possibly fix them.

Most people want to be reconciled so that the relationship can be restored in some fashion. How sad it is when a broken relationship continues to remain broken and isn’t reconciled. What joy we experience when we see a broken relationship repaired and healthy again!

Reconciliation is certainly a reason for rejoicing, especially in our relationship with God! But, what does it take for reconciliation?

The Broken Relationship Restored

As Romans 3:23 describes, all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Before Christ, our problem was a state of alienation (separation) from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2). There was an impassable barrier between us. A broken relationship. Some kind of reconciliation needed to be done. We couldn’t do it on our part—no matter how many good deeds we did. There was always that chasm created by sin between us and God.

BUT GOD did something about that! I love those two words in the Bible, “But God.” Whenever it looks absolutely hopeless for us humans, God steps in and does the exact thing we need. God restored the broken relationship by reconciling us to Himself through Jesus’s death.

To reconcile means to re-establish friendship between two parties, to settle or resolve a dispute, and/or to bring acceptance. Wow! Did we need that!

What was God’s motivation to repair the broken relationship? It was love.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Romans 5:10 says that God loved us so much that even while we were God’s enemies, He did what was needed to reconcile us to Himself through the death of His Son.

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10-11)

Jesus Christ has fully paid mankind’s debt, removing the barrier between God and men. A bridge has been built through Jesus Christ. As we cross over this bridge by our faith in Jesus, our relationship with God is restored. God stands eagerly welcoming anyone who will believe the good news and come home (repent, Luke 15:7-10). And, even more than that, Jesus presents us holy and blameless in God’s sight. Reconciliation is a present reality for every Christian and is worthy of our rejoicing!

Living In The Present Reality Of Reconciliation With God

Because this reconciliation extends to everyone who chooses to receive it by faith, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. We are to announce to others that they can have what we have in a restored relationship with the God who loves them.

“And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

The same power of reconciliation is available to you through Christ for your relationships. If you are in the midst of a relationship that is broken and in need of reconciliation, pray that God would work His mighty hand in the relationship and provide you with His wisdom in pursuing reconciliation.

Restored…No Longer Broken

You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that the barrier of sin has been taken away and a bridge has been built between you and God because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross. This was God’s act of reconciliation offered to you because you believe in His Son. Your relationship with God is RESTORED…NO LONGER BROKEN.

Word Of The Cross #3 Redemption: “Purchased Out Of Bondage To Sin.”

Bondage. No one likes being in bondage. Whether it is to a person, a contract, a debt, or something controlling your life, bondage stinks. It stifles. It discourages. It makes you a slave of whatever is holding you “in chains.” Every person who is in bondage longs to be released from those chains.

Did you know that every human being born on this planet is born into bondage? I don’t care how much money or status you have. You were born into bondage. Bondage to what? Colossians 1:13 calls it “the kingdom of darkness.” Romans 6:15-18 describes it as being a “slave to sin.” The slave master “sin” calls the shots. Obedience comes too easily. It’s a trap. But, you are released from that trap the moment you trust in Jesus Christ.

The Bible calls this “redemption.” We sing songs about being redeemed. But, do we really understand what that means?

What Is Redemption?

The concept of redemption refers to recovering ownership by paying a stipulated sum. Or, it can mean to set something or someone free from bondage by paying a ransom, such as for a kidnapped person or releasing a slave to become free. Either way, a price is paid.

Biblical redemption is based on an understanding of the pain of slavery—a common practice in the Roman Empire at the time. Nearly 50% of the people were slaves—1 out of every 2 men, women, and children! The readers of the New Testament were very familiar with the hopelessness of being owned by a slave master, the buying and selling associated with the slave market, and the only two ways out of the miserable cycle, one of which was death. The other way was for you to be bought by someone and then set free. Jesus did that for us.

Jesus Christ Set You Free.

Jesus declared that He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). It is through Christ’s blood (the purchase price) that we are redeemed. We are redeemed from the slavery of sin and from the empty way of life handed down to us by our forefathers.

Redemption represents an important change in our relationship with God. Before Christ, we were in a state of slavery to sin and to death (spiri­tual & physical). Biblical redemption means that we have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery and released into freedom to serve God in obedience.

The life of slavery to sin leads to someone offering their bodies to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness, free from the control of righteousness with no benefits, only shame. The end result is death.

The life of freedom leads to someone offering their bodies to God and His righteousness leading to holiness, lavished grace and eternal life. Their life is characterized by hearts under obedience to God.

Released…No Longer In Bondage

God chooses to redeem us. It is an extension of His love and His purpose for us.

  • God redeems us to rescue us from the dominion of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (Colossians 1:13-14) where we have forgiveness of sins.
  • God redeems us from all wickedness to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:13-14).
  • God redeems men and women from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9-10) to be a kingdom and priests to serve Him.

When God redeems you, you become the possession of a loving, merciful God and can live in the security of your freedom from bondage to sin. And, here’s the best part. You have a new master now with greater power living inside of you—the Spirit of God Himself—who can give you freedom from any entrapping sin. Claim that freedom now. Choose to obey the Spirit inside you who will lead you and empower you to say “no” to sin.

Bask In The Freedom

You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that you, as a believer, have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery to sin and released into freedom as God’s act of redemption.

Are you experiencing the freedom from slavery to sin in your life right now? If not, do you have confidence that you do not have to listen to the voice of your old slave master sin? You have been RELEASED…NO LONGER IN BONDAGE.

“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.” (Fannie Crosby, 19th century hymn writer)

Word Of The Cross #4 Forgiveness: “Your Guilt Has Been Taken Away.”

../../../Joyful%20Walk%20Blog/Words%20of%20the%20Cross/Forgiveness-NoLongerBurdenedBySin-sq200.pngLike the woman washing Jesus’s feet with her tears in Luke 7, many of us carry the guilt of our sins with us like a heavy burden, weighing us down. The continual reminder of our sins keeps us from experiencing freedom and from enjoying the relationship with God that we have by faith in Jesus Christ.

We don’t just need a teacher. We need a Savior who comes in and does for us what we can’t do for ourselves: forgiveness.

All of our debt of sin before God is enormous; we are incapable of ever paying it back. You and I need to understand how complete and continual is God’s forgiveness of us. And, we need to know how to deal with any recognized sin in our lives so that we won’t continue to carry that burden of guilt.

What Is Forgiveness?

In the Bible, the term “forgiveness” means “to send off or send away.” Our sin is transferred to a substitute, Jesus, and taken away. People in Old Testament times were accepted by God and received eternal life in the same way as we are today: by faith in the merciful grace of God. For daily living, however, they had to bring their animal sacrifice to the priest. Their sin was transferred to that sacrifice, and they received forgiveness for their sins up to that point.

God promised His people that one day forgiveness would no longer be a temporary solution, but it would be complete and permanent. That happened on the cross through Jesus.

Jesus Christ Set You Free From The Burden.

As Paul declared in Colossians 2,

“And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. 14 He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

Once you place your faith in Jesus Christ, whatever you have done that was wrong in God’s eyes from the time you were born through the time of your death has been canceled. Taken away. All of it. Past, present and future. Nailed to the cross.

It’s even better than that! Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,

in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthiasn 5:19)

Since your sins have been taken away, God is longer counting them against you. You are forgiven based on your faith alone. Sins are applied to Jesus who takes them on your behalf. FORGIVENESS: “Your guilt has been transferred to a substitute and taken away.”

Once you have trusted in Jesus, Ephesians 1:7 says that forgiveness is something we possess as believers. We receive God’s forgiveness for all our sins (past, present, and future) from the moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ. That is very important for you to know. Forgiveness is complete and continual.

Although our God does not hold our sin against us any longer, and His grace is continually forgiving us of sin, that does not give us permission to intentionally sin. Intentional sin does not fit with who you are as a forgiven Christian with a new life to enjoy. But, as long as you live in your earthly body, you will be tempted to sin. Sin will happen—whether intentionally or unintentionally. And, though our God is no longer counting our sins against us, we still must deal with the consequences of any sinful behavior.

As an already forgiven Christian, the biblical process for dealing with recognized sin is to remember first that your identity is child of God, then agree with God that you have sinned against Him, mourn your sin and depend on the Holy Spirit to help you obey God in the future. Then, trust in Him to help you overcome the consequences of any sinful choices you have made in a way that brings glory to Him.

Forgiven…No Longer Burdened

Dwell on the FACT that Jesus will cleanse your conscience from guilt. Will you take Him at His word? If there is any past sin for which you are still feeling guilty, claim God’s complete forgiveness today. Now, choose to believe you are FORGIVEN…NO LONGER BURDENED by your sin. Allow Jesus to cleanse your conscience from any residual guilt. Every time you think about it again, thank God for His amazing gift!

Word Of The Cross #5 Justification: “Declared Righteous In God’s Eyes.”

../../../../../../Desktop/Words%20of%20the%20Cross%20Series/Justification-Righteous-No-Longer-GuiltAs a teen, I wrestled with the notion that I was not good enough to please God. I could never measure up to His standards of perfection. I was always guilty of not doing something right, of falling short of whatever it was He expected of me.

Then, I heard some good news when I committed my life to Christ and chose to follow Him. God declared me “not guilty” of all my sin. Not guilty? All my sin? Really?

Yes, dear believer, God declares you “not guilty” of all sin, once and for all, based on your faith alone in His Son. It is an amazing plan that is totally based on His grace towards you, not anything you have earned by your own efforts.

And, this one decision made by God the Judge on behalf of every Christian is one of the most important aspects of our relationship with God. The word used to describe it is this: Justification. And, the truth wrapped up in this one word has rocked the world for centuries.

What Is Justification?

Justification is a legal term that literally means, “to declare righteous, to declare not guilty.” English New Testaments use “justified” and “made righteous” interchangeably, but both mean just about the same thing. Justification represents an important change in our relationship with God. Our problem before Christ was our need for perfect acceptability before a holy God. We could never reach that on our own.

Justification is God’s act as Judge where He declares a guilty sinner to be totally righteous in His sight on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross and that person’s faith in Christ. This is possible because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ fully honored and satisfied the righteous demands of a holy God (“propitiation”).

Justification involves both a negative and positive aspect. Negatively, justification is the removal of guilt from the offender (“forgiveness”). Positively, justification is the addition of righteousness to the one who believes (Romans 5:17). This is called the “Great Exchange.” Paul describes it clearly in 2 Corinthians,

“God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus Christ Took Your Sin; God Declares You Righteous.

God not only declares you “not guilty” of all sin through your faith in His Son, He also gives you a new status called “righteousness before God.” That’s the end result of JUSTIFICATION: “The believer in Jesus Christ is declared righteous before God.”

It is not your own righteousness that does it. You receive this righteous status by faith alone and not depending upon any works that you do to earn acceptability in God’s sight, even after you are saved. When God looks on you, He sees His Son’s righteousness taking the place of your sin—even your sin after you’ve been a believer for a long time.

Picture an accountant’s spreadsheet dedicated to your life. On the left side of the page is the heading “your sins;” on the right side of the page is the heading “Christ’s righteousness.” When you sin (intentionally or unintentionally) for the rest of your life, God replaces that sin on the “your sins” side with Christ’s righteousness and puts your sin on His side—your sin is taken away (forgiveness). It is a continual balancing. Your sin never stays on your side of the page because God declares in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that He is “not counting men’s sins against them.” You are forever declared “not guilty” in His sight. Isn’t that great news?!

But, Wait, There’s More…

According to Romans 5:1-2, we now have peace with God as a benefit of being justified. We are no longer enemies but are reconciled to Him as saved ones. We are no longer alienated from God as enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior. Instead, we are now presented as “holy in His sight,” without blemish and free from accusation.

In Galatians 3:26-27, Paul declares that every believer is a child of God by faith and, therefore, clothed with Christ. When God looks on you and me, He sees Jesus and His righteousness, not all of our faults. It is an amazing plan that is totally based on His grace toward us, not anything we have earned by our own efforts. 

Righteous…No Longer Guilty

If you are still wrestling with the notion that you are not good enough to please God, remember that no one can ever be good enough on his or her own merits to please God.

In Philippians 3:2-9, Paul considered his birth status, education, pursuit of knowledge, and zeal to get rid of Christians as evidence that he had plenty of reasons to convince himself that he was a “righteous” Jew and that God should have been pleased with his efforts.

But, after knowing Christ, Paul declared all those things that he once thought were in his favor to be rubbish, a loss rather than a win when it comes to faith. Instead, Paul discovered that knowing Jesus Christ as Lord was far better. He now preferred to be found in Christ with the righteousness that comes through faith, not by his own efforts. All Paul had to do to gain his new righteous standing before God was to trust in Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord. That is true for you as well. 

Dwell on the FACT of your justification—being declared righteous so that you are now perfectly acceptable to a holy God based on your faith in His Son. How do you feel about this? When you are tempted to think that God could not possibly accept you because of your weaknesses and guilty past, declare this to yourself: “I am declared righteous in God’s eyes because of my faith in Jesus Christ.” You are RIGHTEOUS…NO LONGER GUILTY in God’s sight.

Word Of The Cross #6 Sanctification: “Set Apart As God’s Possession For His Exclusive Use.”

I was once an up-tight perfectionist. Yes, I admit it. My whole self-image depended upon being perfect in grades, piano performance and whatever got me awards for achievement.

Yet, my flaws kept getting in the way of getting straight A’s one six weeks so that I missed out on the “straight A’s” award for that school year. I was horrible in athletics so PE was my nemesis. Then, in college, physics knocked me down big time. I just couldn’t see how to get the answers to those problems.

My flaws were ever before me, and I sobbed when I couldn’t achieve perfection, which happened a lot. My self-image was tied to a losing cause.

Then, Jesus entered my life and showed me a new way to look at myself—through what He did for me on the cross. When my eyes stopped looking at me and my flaws and started looking at Him and my value in His sight, that burden of performance and perfectionism just rolled off my shoulders. It was the greatest relief I ever felt!

And, perfectionism has never controlled my life since then (although that tendency to evaluate myself and what I do with critical eyes remains latent in my personality). Through my faith in Christ, God looks upon me as already perfect, as flawless as the most perfect diamond. The Bible calls this Sanctification.

What Is Sanctification?

Like propitiation (word #1), sanctification is a word we don’t use in our daily vocabulary. To be sanctified means to be made holy. To be “holy” means to be “set apart for special use.” Because the two words—sanctified and holy—are so closely connected, they are used interchangeably in our English translations. They mean the same thing, though.

Sanctification represents another important change in our standing with God. Our problem before Christ was our need to be separated from the world and separated to God. This is accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as all believers are turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:17-18).

God demands that we be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). But, here’s the best news: God makes us holy in His sight by our faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:10). His love chooses to do that for us. It absolutely amazes me that God looks upon me and calls me holy in His sight. Doesn’t that amaze you?

But, sanctification is more than just having a different status before God. We have a different purpose as well. Every believer has been set apart as God’s special, beloved possession for His exclusive use. To be set apart for special use is similar to using fine china and silverware for special occasions. It is the opposite of ordinary and common. Dear Christian, you are God’s special, beloved possession—called by Him to be dedicated to His service. You have a valuable purpose. How sweet is that!

You Place Your Faith In Jesus; God Declares You His Saint.

Sanctified ones are called “holy people” and “saints” in the New Testament, depending on the translation. You can see how Paul described the believers in the first couple of verses of most of his letters—i.e., Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:1, and Ephesians 1:1. Translators use various English words to represent Paul’s intended meaning, usually “saints,” “holy ones” or “holy people.” All of those are translating a derivative of the Greek word hagios, “holy,” meaning separated from sin and dedicated to God.

All believers are called “holy ones” based on their faith in Jesus Christ. You as a saint are identified by position, what God declares to be true about you. Every believer, including you, is one of God’s saints, totally loved and accepted by Him. You are considered a saint of God by His declaration, not because of your behavior. Although some particularly influential Christians have been titled “Saint” through the years as an honor for their service to God, this in no way negates the truth that every believer is a saint in God’s eyes.

Believers are made holy by Christ’s death on the cross in their relational status before God. Remember all those words we have already studied? You have been redeemed, reconciled to God, forgiven, justified and completely accepted by God because of what Jesus has already done for you on the cross. All of that contributes to God declaring you holy as one of His saints by faith in Jesus Christ. That is your status before God. Perfected…no longer flawed in His sight.

But, Wait, There’s More…

Believers are also “being made holy” in their thoughts, words, and actions by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is ongoing from the moment of salvation until the Lord comes or the believer dies, when our “being made holy” is complete (Philippians 1:6). The goal of the Spirit’s work is to transform us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) so that we become in thought and behavior what we are in status—holy as God is holy.

Perfected…No Longer Flawed

An understanding of Christ’s finished work on the cross is the basis for a firm knowledge of your identity in Him—a founda­tional truth for successful Christian living. It was totally God’s work to make you acceptable again in His sight. Your proper response is to trust and rest in His work and to continually offer Him thanks from a grateful heart along with your willing service.

Dwell on the FACT that God declares you holy because of your faith in Christ. You are set apart by Him, for Him. This is your status before God because of your faith. Your behavior matches your position when you submit to the Spirit’s work to intentionally separate you from what God calls sin and then commit yourself to being used for His purposes throughout a typical day as you care for your household, be a parent or grandparent to children, work for an employer, interact with people around you, and spend your leisure time.

These Gifts Are Yours, Sister!

Because of the cross, you can dwell on the FACT that God was fully satisfied by Jesus’s finished work on the cross. God is no longer angry at your sin because you believe in His Son. You can dwell on the FACT that the barrier of sin has been taken away and complete reconciliation between you and God is possible because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross. Your relationship with God is restored. You can dwell on the FACT that you, as a believer, have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery and released into freedom as God’s act of redemption. You have a new master with greater power living inside of you, the Spirit of God Himself, who can give you freedom from any entrapping sin.

You can also dwell on the FACT that you are completely forgiven of your sins and that Jesus promises to cleanse your conscience from guilt. You can dwell on the FACT that you have been declared righteous (justified) and are now perfectly acceptable to a holy God based on your faith in His Son. And, you can dwell on the FACT that God declares you holy because of your faith in Christ. You are sanctified—set apart by Him, for Him.

Mankind’s disease was sin. Because of this disease, we were: 1) never able to make ourselves well, 2) in bondage to the disease, 3) alienated from the one who could heal us, 4) carrying the guilt of having the disease, 5) experiencing cumulative effects of the disease, and 6) unable to live a purposeful life. Jesus’s finished work on the cross removed all these effects of the disease so that “by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24)—truly healed!

An understanding of Christ’s finished work on the cross is the basis for a firm knowledge of our identity in Him—a founda­tional truth for successful Christian living. It was totally God’s work to make sinners acceptable again in His sight. Our proper response is to trust and rest in His work, and to continually offer Him thanks from grateful hearts along with our willing service.

Now that you have a more complete understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross on your behalf—how does that make you feel? Believe it, sister. Embrace it. Relish in it. Bask in it. Anchor your hope in it.

As Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, you are dearly loved!

Reflect and Respond

Related Topics: Gospels, Women's Articles

Lesson 11: He Is Alive! Hope Springs New (Mark 16:1-8; Matthew 27:62-28:20; Luke 24:1-35; John 20:1-31)

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Day One Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Matthew 27:62-66.

1. Discover the Facts: The religious leaders weren’t satisfied with just having Jesus crucified.

  • On Saturday, while Jesus was dead in the tomb, what did the religious leaders ask Pilate to do (vv. 62-64)?
  • What happened then (vv. 65-66)?

Focus on the Meaning: Jesus’s first “deception” from their viewpoint was His messiahship, and His “last” (second) was His claim that He would rise from the dead. The falsely pious chief priests and Pharisees pretended to want to protect the people from deception. Matthew viewed their action as self-deception designed to deceive others (“blind leading the blind”). … they were the real deceivers of the people. (Dr. Constables Notes on Matthew 2017 Edition, p. 477)

Read Mark 16:1-8.

2. Discover the Facts: Now, we get to look at the greatest miracle in human history.

  • What did the 3 women do after sunset on Saturday (v. 1)?
  • What were they not expecting to happen?
  • What was their concern as they headed to the tomb early Sunday morning (vv. 2-3)?
  • When they got there, what did they see (v. 4)?
  • As they entered the tomb, what did they see (v. 5)?
  • What did they not see?
  • What was their response?
  • What did the young man (Matthew and John identify him as an angel) tell them not to do?
  • After confirming their intent to find Jesus, what did he say to them?
  • What instruction did the angel give to the women (v. 7)?
  • According to Luke 24:6-8, what did they remember?
  • What was Jesus’s plan for meeting with His followers?
  • How did the women feel then (v. 8)?
  • What did they do even though feeling that way?

Scriptural Insight: Verses 9-20 are not original to Mark. The earliest and best manuscripts do not have them. Most scholars believe they were added later. The word choice and writing style are different from Mark’s style. We don’t have any record of Jesus giving His disciples authority to pick up snakes or drink poison. Everything else is a summary of what is found in the other gospels. So, either Mark ended his book at v. 8 or the rest of it was lost. Because of word choices in v. 8, many scholars think that Mark wrote more and did not intend to end at v. 8.

3. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s study speaks to your heart?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Two Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Matthew 28:1-10.

1. Discover the Facts: We will learn a few more details from Matthew’s account of Resurrection Sunday.

  • According to v. 2, what had just happened?

Focus on the Meaning: Only Matthew mentions the earthquakes that happened at Jesus’s death and at His resurrection. These were significant signs for the Jews. Matthew wrote his gospel primarily for those who were Jewish.

  • What was the angel’s appearance like (v. 3)?
  • How did the guards respond to this event (v. 4)?

Scriptural Insight: All of these events have supernatural connotations. An angel had announced the Incarnation, and now an angel announced the Resurrection (1:20-23; cf. 18:10). The angel rolled the stone away to admit the witnesses, not to allow Jesus to escape (cf. John 20:26). The guards experienced the earthquake and observed the angel, who appeared as a young man (Mark 16:5). It was seeing the angel—whose appearance was also “like lightning,” which evidently terrified them so greatly—that Matthew could describe them as appearing “like dead men” (vv. 3-4). Perhaps they fainted “dead away,” as in a deep sleep or coma. (Dr. Constables Notes on Matthew 2017 Edition, p. 478)

  • What is added in v. 8 to what Mark wrote about the women leaving the tomb?
  • Who met them on the way, and what did He say to them (v. 9)?
  • What did the women do?
  • What did Jesus tell them not to do (v. 10)?
  • What were they to do?
  • What new relationship does Jesus now have with the disciples?

Read Matthew 28:11-15.

2. Discover the Facts: The guards reported what had happened to the chief priests. The religious leaders had to come up with a “Plan B.”

  • What deceptive plan did the chief priests and elders make (vv. 12-15)?
  • Did it work?

3. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s study speaks to your heart?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Three Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read John 20:1-18.

1. Discover the Facts: John gives more detail about Jesus’s interaction with one particular woman, Mary Magdalene (v. 1), but we know from the other gospels that at least 3 other women were with her when they went to the tomb.

  • What did Mary Magdalene tell Peter and John (v. 2)?
  • What do Peter and John do and see for themselves (vv. 3-9)?
  • What did they not understand?
  • After the disciples left, what is said about Mary Magdalene (vv. 10-11)?
  • When she saw the angels, what was her concern (vv. 12-13)?
  • When she sees Jesus but doesn’t recognize Him, what was still her concern (vv. 14-15)?
  • What does this tell you about her?
  • When she recognizes Jesus calling her name, what does she say and do (vv. 16-17)?
  • What does Jesus tell her to do (v. 17)?
  • Mary obeys. What news does she give (v. 18)?

Read John 20:19-31.

2. Discover the Facts: Jesus shows Himself to His disciples.

  • When did this occur (v. 19)?
  • Where were the disciples and why?
  • What did Jesus say and do?
  • Then what did Jesus do (v. 20)? See also Luke 24:36-43.
  • How did the disciples respond?
  • What did Jesus reconfirm to them in v. 21?
  • Whom did He temporarily give to them (v. 22)?
  • Who missed Jesus’s appearance (v. 24)?
  • What was Thomas’s response when the others told him about seeing Jesus (v. 25)?
  • What happened a week later (vv. 26-27)?
  • What is Thomas’s response now (v. 28)?
  • What is Jesus’s response to Thomas that also applies to us (v. 29)?
  • Write John 20:31 in the space below. This fits with Jesus’s words in v. 29.

3. Heartbreak to Hope: Reflecting on John 20:29 (those of us who have not seen and yet believe). What drew you to believe in Jesus? When? Where? Who?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Four Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Luke 24:13-35.

1. Discover the Facts: Two men get a great sermon!

  • As two men were walking the 7 miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, what happened (vv. 13-16)?
  • What did Jesus ask them (v. 17)?
  • Who did they think Jesus was before He was crucified (v. 19)?
  • What news did they receive (vv. 22-24)?
  • How did Jesus respond to this (vv. 25-27)?
  • What happened next (vv. 28-31)?
  • What did they say to each other (v. 32)?
  • Then, what did they do (vv. 33-35)?

Read Matthew 28:16-20.

2. Discover the Facts: Jesus’s commission to all His followers.

  • Where were they now?
  • What was given to Jesus?
  • What commission does Jesus give to those under His authority?
  • What does He promise to His followers who are being commissioned?

Scriptural Insight: Jesus’s Resurrection Appearances

That Morning—The women (Mark 16:1-8; Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-18)

That Afternoon—Peter and the two men walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)

That Evening—The disciples minus Thomas (John 20:19-25; Luke 24:36-43)

One week later—The disciples plus Thomas (John 20:26-31)

In Galilee—7 disciples (John 21); to 500 at once and His brother James (1 Corinthians 15:1-7); and gives the Great Commission to all His followers (Matthew 28:16-20)

3. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s study speaks to your heart?

4. Heartbreak to Hope: Reflect back on this whole lesson, seeing how people experiencing heartbreak, pain, or uncertainty found hope, healing and love. Which ones will you remember the most?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this study of Mark.

[For additional insight, read the following essay, “The Resurrection of Jesus—What Does It Really Mean?”]

— — — — —

The Resurrection Of Jesus—What Does It Really Mean?

Does it bother you when you watch a new movie about Jesus’s life (or, even an old one) and the movie just falls flat when it comes to the resurrection appearances of Jesus? Sometimes, they are skipped altogether. Other times they are portrayed as some kind of “voice heard only” type of thing. With all the phenomenal capability of Hollywood special effects, it seems that filmmakers could do (and would want to do) a fantastic job of portraying Jesus in His resurrected body and His real interactions with all those 500+ real people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) who saw Him over a period of 40 days.

The Resurrection Is The Greatest Event In Human History

This culture is wild about the supernatural, sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Yet, the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest real supernatural event in human history. God raised His Son from the dead and gave Him a new physical body that would never die again. Jesus’s new body was different from His friend Lazarus (John 11:38-44) who would experience death once again.

So, why do we as a culture have difficulty believing that Jesus’s dead body was resurrected into an immortal but completely physical body that walked, talked, ate, drank, and could be touched as any human body could do? I think it is because we don’t really understand the true meaning of the resurrection and why Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Do you know why Jesus had to rise from the dead? Wasn’t the cross enough? Why is the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ essential to our faith? Couldn’t it have been some spiritual thing instead?

After 2000 years of Christians celebrating this human-history-changing event at Easter, many do not know the answer to these questions—perhaps because so much of our teaching centers on the cross and our sin problem. That’s only half the story, though. Understanding the true meaning of the resurrection gives us a proper view towards being human, towards life after death, and even towards both our present and future purpose on this earth.

Several years ago, I read The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright, an insightful book that helped me to understand what the resurrection meant to those living 2000 years ago and for us today. I first learned what the resurrection did not mean.

What The Resurrection Does Not Mean

1) The resurrection was not meant to prove life after death. Nearly everyone in the Roman world of Jesus’s day believed in some form of post-death existence—the soul living on after the body died.

2) The resurrection was not the appearance of Jesus’s spirit or ghost. Even though the gospels clearly say this, people persist in viewing the event as somehow ghostly rather than physical. The term “resurrection” in that day and time meant receiving a new physical body after a time of death, never a way of talking about a ghost or spirit. That’s why it was so offensive to the Greek-influenced mind. To them, the body was evil so why would anyone ever want a new body?

3) The resurrection does not directly prove that Jesus is God. The Jews expected the resurrection of all the righteous before the kingdom was established; that wouldn’t prove that they were God. Jesus did not become the “Son of God” at the resurrection. But, the resurrection declared that what He did in His life and in His death was the work of God’s Son (Romans 1:4).

Eliminating those ideas leads us to what the resurrection of Jesus does mean.

What The Resurrection Does Mean

1) The resurrection announced the beginning of the kingdom (Daniel 12:2-3; Isaiah 26:19; John 5:28-29). The Jews just didn’t know that it would be a two-stage process—first, the Messiah resurrected, then later everyone else.

2) The resurrection is God’s solution to man’s state of spiritual death. Human beings had two problems. The first problem—a sickness called sin, which caused the second problem—death, physical death and spiritual separation from God.

Jesus’s death on the cross was God’s solution to the sickness—sin. Jesus had to physically die because physical death was the penalty for sin (Romans 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-23). The resurrection declares that the debt for sin has been paid and accepted (Col 2:13-14). The sickness has a cure. What about the death problem?

God’s solution to our spiritual death is to restore life to us. That’s called regeneration. Believers receive life. We are cleansed and made new creations when God plants His Spirit within us. Jesus completely identified with us in our humanity, our sin and our death, so that we could be totally identified with Him in His resurrected humanity, His righteousness and His life.

The empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus together are powerful evidences of the fact. When the early Christians spoke of Jesus being raised from the dead, they were claiming that something happened to Jesus which had happened to no one else—ever!

Jesus’s Resurrection Body

Jesus’s resurrection body was the same in many ways as His “before death” body but different in other ways. One writer called it “transphysical,” meaning transformed physicality. Since we get a similar body, let’s look at this more closely.

What Was The Same?

  • He looked like a normal human being (not glowing), not a spotted owl or whale or alien life form.
  • He talked, walked and preached a sermon at the same time, and had memory.
  • He invited His followers to touch Him and see that He was real, referred to Himself as having flesh and blood, and used His hands to break bread. And, He cooked and ate broiled fish.
  • He could be grasped or touched (John 20:17; Matt.28:9).
  • His voice was the same. He spoke the same language. He was just as compassionate as He had been.

What Was Different?

  • Sometimes it was hard to recognize Him. Perhaps His new body was created to appear the ideal age for a man—whatever that might have been for Adam. The perfect 25-year-old! That would have changed His looks considering He died as a 30-something. The scars on His hands, side and feet were obvious means of identification.
  • Jesus could appear and disappear at will. His body passed through grave clothes, a rocky tomb, and walls where the disciples were meeting behind locked doors. It’s as though there is another dimension we don’t see that exists alongside the one we do see. That would explain several things in the Bible.
  • His body was physically robust. After all, He walked and preached a sermon for a good part of the 7 miles to Emmaus two days after He was severely beaten and crucified!

Jesus ascended to heaven in His new physical body to reign from heaven as God-man until He returns (Acts 1:9-11).

Jesus’s Resurrection And Life In The “Until” Time

Understanding the true meaning of the resurrection gives us a proper view towards life now (until He returns, or we go to heaven before then).

We Get A Proper View About Being Human.

When God made a new body for Jesus, He didn’t choose a spotted owl or a whale or some alien life form. He created another human body. That tells me something about being human. The pagan view was that the body is evil, and the soul is good. But God’s view is that the problem was not the body itself, which He had purposefully designed, but sin and death which had taken up residence in it. Being an embodied human is good. What is bad is being a rebellious, decaying human, because of sin and death.

How do you view the body God gave you? You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14-16).

We Get A Proper View About Facing Death.

You can be confident that when you as a believer die, you go immediately to be with Jesus. And, you can enjoy all the blessings of being there. We have the hope of reunion with loved ones and receiving a new physical body with a wonderful new life to enjoy forever.

We Get A Proper View About Having A Purpose On This Earth.

God has given us new life here by design. He didn’t take us to heaven right away. We have a purpose here. We are here by God’s design to follow Jesus as His disciples and to live for Him as disciple-makers—intentionally sharing our faith with others, leading them to Christ, and helping them grow in their faith so they can reach their peers for Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). We do that through His power in us—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

The Resurrection Is Hope

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest miracle in human history. Life-changing. Life-giving. And, this same Jesus is in His physical human body in heaven waiting for us to join Him some day. We will experience life in a new physical body that far exceeds anything we have ever known here. That’s HOPE!

Reflect and Respond

Related Topics: Gospels, Women's Articles

Sources

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1. Answers Magazine, Vol. 2 No. 3, “Biblical Leprosy: Shedding Light on the Disease that Shuns”

2. Dr. Constables Notes on Mark 2017 Edition

3. Dr. Constables Notes on Matthew 2017 Edition

4. Ida Rose Heckerd, “Male Bashing: Is it trash talk or harmless humor?” Todays Christian Woman, January/February 1998

5. Lisa Jenkins-Moore, “Entwined in Him,” Living Magazine, November 2016

6. NIV Study Bible 1984 Edition, Zondervan

7. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 2

8. Rodger C. Young, Book review: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology, by Andrew E. Steinmann, accessed online

9. Sue Bohlin, Probe Answers Questions about Specifics, “Am I Committing Adultery?”

10. Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament,

11. Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament,

12. Tim Stevenson, First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians

13. “What does Messiah mean?” accessed at gotquestions.org

14. Woven, The Truth about Redemption Next Step, “Redeeming Hope: Your journey Toward Surrender”

Related Topics: Gospels, Women's Articles

The God You Can Know: The Wonderful Attributes Of Your Father God

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This Bible Study is part of the Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies specifically designed for anyone new to the Bible—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing you to your God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

Through The God You Can Know lessons, you will become familiar with the character of God—those attributes that help you to know Him well, love Him wholeheartedly, and gain the confidence to trust Him as your Father God.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Character of God, Women, Women's Articles

Introduction

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The Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies are specifically designed for anyone new to the Bible—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing the inexperienced Christian to God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

Just as a newborn baby needs to know the love and trustworthiness of her parents, the new Christian needs to know and experience the love and trustworthiness of her God. Graceful Beginnings: New Believers Guide is the first study in the series, laying a good foundation of truth for you to grasp and apply to your life. The other books in the series can be done in any order.

Some Bible Basics

Throughout these lessons, you will use a Bible to answer questions as you discover treasure about your life with Christ. The Bible is one book containing a collection of 66 books combined together for our benefit. It is divided into two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament tells the story of the beginning of the world and God’s promises to mankind given through the nation of Israel. It tells how the people of Israel obeyed and disobeyed God over many, many years. All the stories and messages in the Old Testament lead up to Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus Christ, the early Christians, and God’s promises to all those who believe in Jesus. You can think of the Old Testament as “before Christ” and the New Testament as “after Christ.”

Each book of the Bible is divided into chapters and verses within those chapters to make it easier to study. Bible references include the book name, chapter number and verse number(s). For example, Ephesians 2:8 refers to the New Testament book of Ephesians, the 2nd chapter, and verse 8 within that 2nd chapter. Printed Bibles have a “Table of Contents” in the front to help you locate books by page number. Bible apps also have a contents list by book and chapter.

The Bible verses highlighted in each lesson are from the New English Translation® (NET®) unless otherwise indicated. You can use any version of the Bible to answer the questions, but using a more easy-to-read translation (NET, NIV, NIRV, NLT, ESV) will help you gain confidence in understanding what you are reading. You can find all these translations in Bible apps and online.

This study capitalizes certain pronouns referring to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit—He, Him, His, Himself—just to make the reading of the study information less confusing. Some Bible translations likewise capitalize those pronouns referring to God; others do not. It is simply a matter of preference, not a requirement.

The God You Can Know

The God You Can Know lessons focus on the attributes of God—those character qualities of God that He has revealed about Himself. God’s greatness is far beyond human understanding. But, His Word does give us part of the picture. And, that picture reveals an awesome God!

An “attribute” is a quality or characteristic of someone or something. For a person, an attribute is something generally true about that person. If someone says that you are always kind, that’s an attribute of you. If someone says that you are always patient, that’s an attribute of you. Attributes describe someone so that we can know more about him or her.

The attributes of God are things we CAN know about God. They describe His character and are true about Him all the time. God has revealed these attributes about Himself so we can know who He is. By knowing who He is, we can know Him better. He is truly The God You Can Know. And, by knowing Him, we can learn to trust Him with our lives.

Trust (faith) is always an issue of credibility. It is hard to trust God if you don’t know Him. The more you know Him, the easier it is to trust Him. You don’t have more faith by talking about faith. Getting to know the object of your faith, your God, increases your confidence in Him. Knowing God’s character plus His promises gives you plenty of reasons to consider Him trustworthy. The Bible describes that confidence to be like having your feet firmly planted on solid rock—with God as your Rock. He is a trustworthy God.

“So, I am always thinking that when God reveals a particular thing about Himself, He is helping me know Him. That is the point of saying things about Himself or doing particular things in the world. He is helping me know Him, the true God, a person, so that my delight can be in Him…” (John Piper, desiringgod.org, Interview on March 8, 2016)

Trusting Your Father God

Your God is also a trustworthy Father. Jesus continually taught His disciples to consider God as their Father. This God is your Father God, too. The moment you placed your trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation, you were adopted into God’s family as His child. He is the perfect Father, the most loving Father, the most dependable Father, and the Father who cares about your every need.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote several books of the New Testament, describes it this way,

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:14-16)

Our Father God’s love for us is deep and amazing.

See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children—and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. (1 John 3:1

Jesus continually encouraged His followers to call God, “Father.” He taught them to pray to their Father God, whom they could trust.

… for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So pray this way: “Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored,” (Matthew 6:8-9)

Wait a minute. What if you didn’t have such a good earthly father! Your concept of a father might be pretty scary. God knows that. But, He wants you to know that you are dearly loved by your Father God. Dearly loved.

Think of the best father in any movie or TV show. Who comes to mind? God is even better than that father. And, through these lessons, you will become familiar with the character of God—those attributes that help you to know Him well, love Him wholeheartedly, and gain the confidence to trust Him as your Father God.

At the end of each lesson, we will include three things to help you renew your mind with truth about God:

1) Bible verse to learn

This will help to renew your thinking and make Bible truth part of your life as you begin this new adventure. Memorizing Bible verses is not just something “to do.” You are planting God’s words to you in your mind. The Bible calls it “renewing your mind” with truth about who God is and who you are.

If your Bible is a different translation from the one given in The God You Can Know, feel free to memorize the verse from your Bible rather than what is given. The point is to begin a habit of memorizing Scripture. You will be surprised at how soon it just flows from your mind.

2) Response in prayer & praise

This will help you to begin regular conversation with your Father God who loves you dearly. You will be encouraged to talk to your Heavenly Father about anything and everything. Tell Him what you are thinking and feeling. He is someone you can trust.

3) Discover God the Father

You will be asked to read prayers and praises from both the Old Testament and New Testament. Spend a few minutes each day reading these prayers and reflecting on how each prayer reveals someone’s understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

[For further study: See this excellent series of articles on the attributes of God called “Let Me See Thy Glory - A Study of the Attributes of God.”]

Overview of the Attributes of God

  • God’s SOVEREIGNTY: God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.

“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” (2 Samuel 7:22 NIV)

  • God’s OMNIPOTENCE, OMNIPRESENCE, & OMNISCIENCE (the Omnis): God’s power is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God’s presence is everywhere at the same time. God knows everything there is to know.

“You are all around me, behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power. I’m amazed at how well you know me. It’s more than I can understand.” (Psalm 139:5-6 NIRV)

  • God’s HOLINESS: God is holy. He is set apart from anything that is sinful or evil.

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” (Habakkuk 1:13a NIV)

  • God’s JUSTICE: God always does what is morally right and fair.

“This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.” (Romans 3:26 NET)

  • God’s GRACE: God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him.

“Our Lord poured out more and more of his grace on me. Along with it came faith and love from Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:14 NIRV)

  • God’s GOODNESS: God is good all the time — even in the tough times, in different ways for each person, and in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives.

“You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:68 NIV)

  • God’s LOVE: God’s love is patient, kind, forgiving and considers what is best for the one being loved.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8 NIV)

  • God’s JOY: God’s joy finds great pleasure in His creation and His creatures, especially people who trust in Him.

“… The joy of the Lord makes you strong.” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIRV)

Your Father God’s love for you is deep and amazing. Bask in it!

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 1: God’s Sovereignty

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An “attribute” is a quality or characteristic of someone or something. Attributes describe someone so that we can know more about him or her. The attributes of God are things we can know about God. They are true about Him all the time. God has revealed these attributes about Himself so we can know who He is. And, by knowing Him, we can choose to trust Him with our lives.

1. What words come to mind when you think about the character of God?

2. Do you feel that He is someone you can know?

Our first attribute to explore is God’s SOVEREIGNTY.

Attribute #1: Sovereignty

“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” (2 Samuel 7:22 NIV)

3. How do you feel about this phrase, “God’s sovereignty?”

God is sovereign. That is a fact. He is called “Sovereign Lord” over 300 times in the Bible.

4. Read 2 Samuel 7:22. What is declared about God in this verse?

The dictionary definition of sovereign is “self-governing, independent, possessing supreme power or authority.” At the end of the word “sovereign” is the word “reign.” We say that a king “reigns.” That means he is the ruler, the one with the right to make the rules. Someone who is sovereign is the ruler, the king, and the one who has the right to make the rules.

5. Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-12. What do these verses state about God?

6. Read Deuteronomy 10:14-17. What or who is under God’s sovereignty?

7. Read 1 Samuel 2:6-8. What or who is under God’s sovereignty?

8. Read Psalm 50:10-11. What or who is under God’s sovereignty?

9. As you consider the sovereignty of God from these above verses, what do you think could stop God’s plans from being carried out in your life or in the life of someone you love?

Nothing can stop God. He will accomplish anything and everything in our lives for our good.

10. Read Exodus 20:11. About 2 million people heard God speak those words to them. What gives God the right to be king over everything?

God Himself told us in many places in the Bible that He created everything. God is sovereign—the king—over the universe, over the earth, over all the creatures on the earth, and over every human being. If you create something, do you have the right to make the rules concerning how your creation should live and work? God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.

If God is the sovereign ruler of His creation, that means He is the sovereign ruler of you. Yet, adding together God’s sovereignty with His great love expressed through the gift of His Son Jesus should give you great security and confidence.

11. If you believed and continually remembered this truth that your God is sovereign, how might that influence your life?

We need to think of Him as our sovereign king and be willing to respect Him and obey Him. We can trust His care for His creation, including us. Our God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.

12. Though God is the sovereign ruler, He invites you to come to Him with your needs. Are you willing to recognize God’s authority over you—to trust that He knows what is best for you?

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” (2 Samuel 7:22 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

You can go to your Father God, ruler over everything, and talk to Him about anything. When you talk to your Father God, approach Him with humility and respect for His absolute authority. Choose a heart of obedience. He is trustworthy.

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes reading these prayers and reflecting on how each prayer reveals someone’s understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read 1 Kings 18:16-40. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Kings 18:28-19:37. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 2: God’s Power, Presence, And Perception (the Omnis)

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Remember that an attribute is a word someone could use to describe you that is true all the time. Knowing your attributes will help someone to know you better. Just like that, attributes of our Father God are those descriptions of God that tell us who He is so that we can know Him better, and by knowing Him better, we can trust Him as our Father. We have a God we can know.

Lesson 1 covered God’s Sovereignty. God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power. In this lesson, we will be studying three of God’s attributes sometimes called “the Omnis.” The word omni means “all.” The attributes of God that are the Omnis are: 1) omnipotence, 2) omnipresence, and 3) omniscience. Let’s break them down and see what they mean.

“You are all around me, behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power. I’m amazed at how well you know me. It’s more than I can understand.” (Psalm 139:5-6 NIRV)

Omnipotence

God’s Omnipotence. We know the first part “omni” means all and the second part “potence” means powerful. So, putting those two together, we get “all powerful.” Omnipotence refers to God’s power. God is all powerful—more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe.

1. Name some things or some people you think are powerful. After each one, say, “God is more powerful than that.”

You won’t read the word “omnipotence” in the Bible, but you will read many words that describe God’s power. One particular name of God refers to His omnipotence. That name is “Almighty.” God is called “the Almighty” or “Lord Almighty” 345 times in the Bible. The prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament talked about God’s power a lot and called Him the Lord Almighty.

2. Read Jeremiah 32:17. What did Jeremiah call God at the beginning?

3. What did Jeremiah say was too hard for God, his king?

4. When you think of God’s power, what comes to your mind?

God uses His power to do many things—to create and to perform miracles like parting the Red Sea, winning battles, and healing people. Every time Jesus healed someone, that was God’s power at work. Anyone who trusts in God can experience His power.

5. Read Ephesians 1:19-20. What does Paul pray for Christians to know?

6. For whom is God’s power at work?

7. How much power does it require to make a dead man alive again?

God’s power raised Jesus, who had died on the cross, raised Him up alive and with a new body that would never die again. That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?

8. Read Ephesians 3:20. What does Paul say about how powerful God is?

9. And, where is His power working?

God uses His power to work for us and in us. And, we can ask Him to do that in our lives.

10. Do you feel confident that you can ask Him to work in your life, and He will do it?

That’s the first omni — omnipotence, which means all powerful. God is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe.

Omnipresence

The second omni is OMNIPRESENCE, which means “all presence.” When we say that God has “all presence” we mean that God is present everywhere at the same time. There isn’t any place in the entire universe where God cannot be found. God is present everywhere at the same time.

This is so well described in Psalm 139. Psalms are songs written by those who loved God and wanted to speak or sing His praises.

11. Read Psalm 139:5-6. David, who is the psalm writer here, is talking to God as he is writing. How does he describe God’s presence with him?

12. Read Psalm 139:7-10, 18. Where can we go to get away from God?

13. Is there any place far enough away that He can’t find us? Or, can someone hide us so God can’t find us?

14. Can you go to a place where God is not with you or cannot hear you calling out to Him?

The Bible teaches that God is everywhere at the same time. God is near you as you go about your daily schedule, whether to work, school, stores, or home. God is near you at each place. God is with you everywhere. In fact, wherever you go…He is already there! Even in the worst situation or location, you might not get a cell signal, but God is not blocked out! Ever!

15. How does that give you comfort?

16. When are some times that you need to remember that God is always wherever you are?

David, in his psalm, reminded himself that God was not only there but that His hand would be holding him close. And, he declares that God is still there with him even while he is sleeping. Next time you are scared or hurt or in life’s dark places, remember that God is with you right then. Picture Him holding your hand and gain comfort from that.

So, the second omni is omnipresence, which means all presence. God is present everywhere at the same time.

Omniscience

The third omni is omniscience. It’s spelled omni-science. So, it does mean God knows everything there is to know about science. But, it’s more than that. Our word “science” comes from an old Latin word that means “to know” or “knowing.” So, when we talk about God’s omniscience, we are saying that God is “all knowing.” That means that God knows everything there is to know. [Note: the word “perception” in the lesson title means to know.]

That can really baffle our minds. But, let’s talk about how that affects you personally. David wrote about this in the same psalm we just read.

17. Read Psalm 139:1-4.

  • How many times did David use the word “know” or similar words (perceive, discern, etc.)?
  • What does God know about you?
  • Can you hide anything from God?
  • Does anything good or bad in your life escape His notice or surprise Him?

18. Read Psalm 139:6. Write this verse on a card or in your journal.

19. Knowing that God knows you well—having created you to be the special, unique person you are—how does your heart feel about that?

God knows what is going on in your life. He also knows what is going on deep in your heart. And, He knows what is best for you!

The third omni is omniscience, which means, “all knowing.” God knows everything there is to know about everything.

Three Comforting Truths

The Omnis are three truths that are characteristics of God alone. What those words mean is that God is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe, is present everywhere at the same time, and knows everything there is to know.

So, what should that mean for your life? This is the truth you need to know and remember from this lesson: God is always near you, He knows what is going on in your life, and He can do something about it. That should give you confidence to handle anything.

Think of those 3 Omnis as a chair. When you sit on a chair, you get to rest. God wants you to rest knowing that He is always near you, He knows what is going on in your life, and He can do something about it. The Bible says that you can rest on that. And, you can trust Him in whatever He chooses to do for any situation you find yourself in today, tomorrow or the next day. Can you do that?

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“You are all around me, behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power. I’m amazed at how well you know me. It’s more than I can understand.” (Psalm 139:5-6 NIRV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

When you talk to your Father God, humbly realize He can do anything. And, although He cares about every detail in your life, think about how small your problems are compared with how awesome your Father God is! Ask Him to help you trust that He is always near you, that God knows what is going on in your life, and that He can do something about it. Tell Him about your deepest concern then wait and see what your Father God does.

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes reading these prayers and reflecting on how each prayer reveals someone’s understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read Psalm 139. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 3: God’s Holiness

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In Lessons One and Two, we learned about God’s sovereignty and His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience (His Omnis).

  • God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.
  • God’s power is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God’s presence is everywhere at the same time. God knows everything there is to know.

This lesson is about God’s HOLINESS.

Attribute #3: Holiness

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” (Habakkuk 1:13a NIV)

1. When I say the word “holiness,” what comes to your mind?

Holiness is the state or quality of being holy. “Holy” is used more than any other word in the Bible to describe God so it must be very important. The word “holy” by itself means, “to set apart.” That means one thing is totally separated from something else. So, holiness means “to be set apart.” God is also set apart from something. In the Bible, God is called “the Holy One of Israel” and “the Holy God.” So, He is totally set apart, but from what?

The Bible teaches that our God is set apart from these:

  • Set apart from any other name. God’s name is holy. His name is set apart from any other name in the entire universe. That includes the names of other gods that people want to worship instead of the one true God.
  • Set apart from His creation. God is not like anything or anyone He has created. That includes angels and people. God is set apart from His creation.
  • Set apart from anything that is sinful or evil. In fact, this is what is stressed the most about God in the Bible. He is the most “holy,” and no one is as “holy” as He is. He is perfect.

“The word holy calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is holy love, His justice is holy justice, His mercy is holy mercy, His knowledge is holy knowledge, His spirit is holy spirit.” (R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, p. 57)

2. Read Habakkuk 1:13. Habakkuk lived at the time of the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem (~600 BC). How does Habakkuk describe God at the beginning of the verse?

In God’s holiness, He cannot even look on evil or wrongdoing. It is a unique part of His character—who He is. God’s holiness sets him apart from anything that is sinful or evil.

3. If God is perfectly good all the time, what are some things that God cannot do?

4. Read James 1:13. What is something else that God will not do?

5. It is very comforting to know that our God can be trusted to be good all the time. Can human beings be perfectly good all the time?

6. Evil and wrongdoing that people do are called “sin” in the Bible. Give some examples of human sins.

When God created Adam and Eve, God designed people to have a relationship with Him. Because Adam and Eve disobeyed Him, sin entered the world. You can read about this in Genesis chapter 3. Adam and Eve became separated from the perfect fellowship they had with God. And, all people born after them were born sinners. What a bummer!

But, if human beings are sinful, this creates a problem because God is set apart from sin. That’s His holiness. He hates sin and must judge it. The Bible tells us that our sins separate us from Him. God doesn’t want us to be separated from Him forever. So He made a way to bring us back to Him. But, this meant getting rid of our sin.

God had a marvelous plan. His own Son would come to earth to be born as a baby, grow up to live as a human just like us, and die for our sins so we could be forgiven of them. That’s the wonder of Christmas. At Christmas, we celebrate God’s absolutely marvelous plan. When we trust in Jesus, He will remove our sin from us so we are no longer separated from Him. Amazing gift!

7. Read Isaiah 1:18. What is God’s promise to us?

During your school days, did you have a teacher who marked wrong answers with red ink? Red usually says, “That’s wrong. That’s not acceptable.” When God says our sins are bright red, He is saying the wrong things we do are not acceptable to a holy God.

8. What do you think the phrase “white as snow” means?

Freshly fallen snow looks so pristine, doesn’t it? Pure and clean. The phrase “white like wool” refers to freshly prepared sheep’s wool that is perfectly clean and hasn’t been dyed with any colors yet. It’s also pure and clean. That’s what God does to our sin the moment we trust in Jesus so we can get close to Him as our Father God.

And, here is the absolutely even-more-wonderful part: as we live each day as believers in Jesus, God continues to cleanse our sin from us so we can be close to Him.

We can enjoy our relationship with a holy God who loves us dearly, the kind of relationship that He created us to enjoy.

9. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21. What does God do to our sin? What do we get from Christ?

When God looks at us, He doesn’t see sin in our lives. Jesus takes away our sin. We are no longer separated from our holy God. He sees Jesus’ righteousness instead. Our sins are washed white as snow. This is called, “The Great Exchange.” Jesus takes our sin; we receive His righteousness. We can only marvel at God’s goodness to us in this gift.

10. Read 1 Peter 1:14-16. What does God desire for us?

Holiness means “to be set apart.” God desires that we would choose to live set apart from anything that is sinful or evil. Then, we would reflect His character in our own lives.

11. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. What does God promise to us when we are tempted?

12. What confidence does knowing this give you?

Temptation to do wrong is part of life here on earth. Those temptations are not coming from God. Instead, He provides a way of escape for every temptation. That’s His promise.

God’s holiness means He is set apart from anything that is sinful or evil. God cleanses us from sin when we trust in Jesus so that we are no longer separated from Him.

Through His Spirit inside us He also helps us live as holy people, set apart from sin in our own lives.

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” (Habakkuk 1:13a NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

As you approach your Father God, you can thank Him for His marvelous plan and for continuing to cleanse you of sin so you aren’t separated from Him ever again. You can trust Him to always be good to you and those you love. Reverence your Father God in your heart as the Holy One. Grasping His holiness will lead you to desire to be like Him in hating and avoiding evil. You can trust Him to never tempt you to do anything wrong.

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes reading and reflecting on what Habakkuk’s prayers reveal about his understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read Habakkuk chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Habakkuk chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Habakkuk chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 4: God’s Justice

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So far, we have learned about God’s sovereignty; His Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience; and His holiness. Remember these truths about your Father God.

  • God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.
  • God’s power is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God’s presence is everywhere at the same time. God knows everything there is to know.
  • God is holy. He is set apart from anything that is sinful or evil.

God’s holiness is related to another attribute which we will study in this lesson—God’s JUSTICE.

Attribute #4: Justice

“This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.” (Romans 3:26 NET)

1. When are you likely to want justice?

Justice means that someone is always concerned with two things—being right and being fair. Justice means, “always doing what is morally right and fair.” That’s how you likely want to be treated by others whenever there is a problem, isn’t it? You want them to do what is right and to be fair about it.

Our God always acts with justice. It is the natural expression of His holiness. Remember we said that God’s holiness always sets Him apart from anything that is sinful or evil. The Bible says that God hates sin and has declared that sin is wrong and must be punished by death.

The apostle Paul wrote about God’s justice in the book of Romans.

2. Read Romans 3:23. What does this verse declare about all people?

3. Read Romans 5:12. What happened to all people because of sin?

Since everyone has sinned, everyone is declared guilty of sin by God’s justice. He’s being right and fair. And, each guilty person must pay a penalty. The Bible says the penalty for sin is death. That’s God’s justice. God’s justice always does what is morally right and fair. It’s fair for God to say anyone who sins must be declared guilty and pay a penalty.

In our society, whenever a person is declared guilty of committing a crime, they have to pay the penalty for what they did wrong. They usually go to prison and are held captive in prison until the penalty is paid—maybe 3 months or 2 years, sometimes 20 years or more.

In the Old Testament, God decided that certain animals would die to pay the penalty for the sins of His people. By the deaths of those animals, called sacrifices, the people would be set free from being guilty for a little while, until the people did bad things again. But, this was only a temporary plan.

God had a better plan. He loves people so much that He came to earth Himself as a man named Jesus who lived a perfect life and died on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus paid the penalty for sin that God’s justice demands. Jesus paid this penalty for us so that we would not have to do it nor would any animals ever have to do it again!

Paul describes it beautifully in Romans 3.

4. Read Romans 3:24-26. How is God’s justice satisfied?

God’s justice is right and fair. The NIRV translation of verse 26 clearly describes this:

“God did that to prove in our own time that he is fair. He proved that he is right. He also made right with himself those who believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:26 NIRV)

Jesus paid the penalty for every wrong thing that anyone has ever done or will do in the future. God’s justice is satisfied. So, God can declare that anyone who trusts in Jesus is “set free” from having to pay the penalty for their sin. Everyone who trusts in Jesus is free from being held captive by his or her sins.

What a great deal! Being set free is a great thing. God’s justice sets free everyone who trusts that His Son Jesus Christ paid the penalty for their sins. God can do that because the penalty has been paid for all time. When you trust in Jesus you receive complete forgiveness for ALL of your sins. This sets you free from being afraid of God.

Isn’t it easier to not be afraid of God if you know that He forgives you for all the bad things you do? Instead, you can be confident that God loves you dearly.

5. Have you lived in fear of God, being afraid of Him?

6. How does the truth that you are set free from being afraid of God make you feel now?

And, if you aren’t afraid of God, you are set free to love Him back with your whole heart. Isn’t that true? It’s easier to love someone that you know loves you! You are also set free to do what is morally right and fair in your own life.

7. Read Micah 6:8. God desires that we live life God’s way. How is it described in Micah?

God’s justice always does what is morally right and fair. He desires that we uphold justice in our lives as well. The New Testament writings teach us how to live life God’s way, following the example of Jesus Christ. God will enable you to live that way. He wants you to live that way. Is that something you’d like to do?

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.” (Romans 3:26 NET)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Thank Jesus for paying the penalty for your sin so that your Father God can set you free from sin’s penalty and forgive all your sins instead. Because God’s justice has set you free from the penalty of sin, you are free to love Him back with your whole heart. Have you learned to love your Father God? How do you express your love for Him? Also, ask your Father God to show you how to do for others what is right and fair just like your God.

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes each day reading and reflecting on how Jonah responds with trust or lack of trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read Jonah chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Jonah chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Jonah chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Jonah chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 5: God’s Grace

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about your Father God.

  • God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.
  • God’s power is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God’s presence is everywhere at the same time. God knows everything there is to know.
  • God is holy. He is set apart from anything that is sinful or evil.
  • God always does what is morally right and fair.

Now, we are going to learn about God’s grace.

Attribute #5: Grace

“Our Lord poured out more and more of his grace on me. Along with it came faith and love from Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:14 NIRV)

1. What do you think “grace” means?

For Christians, “grace” is a very special word. You’ve probably heard the word but may not know what it means. Grace means “undeserved favor.” God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him.

You may know some girls or women named Grace or Gracie. A lot of churches have the word “grace” as part of their name. And, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most well-known songs worldwide. It’s written by a man named John Newton who understood the immensity of God’s grace in his life.

John Newton lived in England over 200 years ago. When John was a little boy, his mama taught him Bible stories and prayed that he would grow up to become a minister. Sadly, when he was only 6, his mama died. Poor John! His father was a ship captain who would be gone for months or years at a time. His new stepmother didn’t want him and ignored him. So, John was lonely and angry. He started acting very badly. It looked like he forgot everything his mama taught him.

One night, John was kidnapped. He tried to escape but some men dragged him onto one of England’s war ships, threw him into a dark hole, and forced him to work on the ship. That made him angrier. He refused to follow the captain’s orders so he was often whipped and put in chains. His bad attitude and bad language were worse than that of the other sailors. And, John made fun of anyone who believed in God. He thought that life had treated him badly, so John decided to be cruel to others.

John Newton got his own ship and became a slave trader. A slave is forced to work for someone else without pay, against her will, often in chains, without any freedoms at all. John Newton kidnapped African people, chained them in his ship, and sailed them to North America to be sold as slaves. The bad boy became a bad man, didn’t he?

Then, one day, a violent storm began to rip his ship apart. John felt helpless and very afraid because he couldn’t swim. Suddenly, he remembered Bible verses his mama had taught him. John cried out to God, “Lord, have mercy on us!” But, then he thought, “What mercy can there be for a wretch like me?” A wretch is a wicked, unhappy person. John told God he was sorry for turning away from Him and for doing so much wrong. The storm ended, and John’s life was spared. He knew it was God’s doing!

So, John found a Bible and read how Jesus could forgive him for all the bad things he did. John Newton trusted in Jesus to forgive him. Over time, he stopped using bad words, stopped being angry all the time, and stopped being a slave trader. In fact, he joined others who fought against the slave trade in England. Before he died, it was outlawed. That was great news for John.

Remember that his mother prayed for him to become a minister. God answered that prayer with a, “Yes.” John became the pastor of several churches, traveled around England telling how God saved a wretch like him, and wrote lots of songs including “Amazing Grace.”

As stated at the beginning of this lesson, the word “grace” means “undeserved favor.” In the Bible, grace is God giving favor to someone, not because they are good enough to deserve it but because His love chooses to do so.

Did John Newton deserve God’s favor? No. He even called himself a wretch—a wicked, unhappy person. Yet, when he trusted Jesus, God’s grace saved John from death, completely forgave him for all his sins, and gave him a brand-new life.

His story is much like the prodigal son in the Bible. Jesus told the story of a family with 2 sons. The younger son told his dad one day that he wanted to take his share of the family money and go away to see the world rather than stay home and help his dad run the farm. So, he did. But, he was very reckless with his money and spent it all while doing bad things—like John Newton did when he was away from home.

Anyway, this younger son got a job feeding pigs, but even that wasn’t enough for him to buy food to take care of himself. He was miserable. So, he decided to go back home and ask his dad to let him be a servant. What do you think his father did? Was he angry with him for leaving in the first place and spending all his money? Or, was he happy to see his young son again? Let’s find out.

2. Read Luke 15:11-24.

  • Focusing on verse 20, what was the father doing?
  • What actions did he take when he saw his boy coming home?
  • Did his dad have just a little bit of love for his boy or a lot of love?
  • Why did the father celebrate?

Wow! Did you expect that? The prodigal son didn’t deserve his father’s favor. He had done some bad things. But, his dad was looking for him to come home. That is a picture of God’s grace. The Bible says that God’s grace is so abundant it’s like a cup overflowing.

3. Read 1 Timothy 1:13-14.

  • How does Paul describe his own worthiness?
  • How does Paul describe God’s grace?
  • What do you picture in your mind when you think of something being poured out abundantly?

Paul, the writer of the letter, was describing himself, but doesn’t it also describe John Newton and what God did for him? No longer was John the bad man, the slave trader. Now, he was John, the beloved child of God, the one who taught many people about Jesus and wrote songs to praise Him like “Amazing Grace.”

That song has become one of the favorite songs of all time. When John Newton was writing the song, he remembered that terrible storm and how wonderful it was to be right with God at last. He praised God for His grace. This is what he wrote:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

4. When he wrote “the hour I first believed,” when was that?

He was thinking of that time when he was so afraid, wasn’t he? None of us deserve God’s favor because we all do bad things called sin.

Remember how that prodigal son’s father was so filled with love he was ready to forgive his son for all the bad things he did and welcome him home? That’s how Father God welcomed John Newton home to Him. That’s how your Father God welcomed you when you trusted in Jesus.

God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need him. His grace overflows to you every single day. You are completely forgiven and covered in God’s grace. God gives His favor to someone not because they are good enough to deserve it but because His love chooses to do so. We all receive it when we trust in Jesus. Isn’t God’s grace amazing!

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“Our Lord poured out more and more of his grace on me. Along with it came faith and love from Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:14 NIRV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Reread 1 Timothy 1:13-14. Make these verses personal. Replace Paul’s experience with your own experience. Use any creative means to express gratitude for God’s amazing grace toward you—drawing, painting, prose, poetry, song, or prayer. An extra page is added at the end of this lesson for you. This is your praise to God today.

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes each day reading these prayers and reflecting on how each prayer reveals someone’s understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read Psalm 103. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Psalm 116. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

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