The believers attending this conference had very little formal Bible training. Therefore, part of this conference was dedicated to sharing "15 Key Lessons" from the Bible. These lessons were designed to give them both some knowledge of God's overall plan in the Bible, as well as a solid foundation on how to have a victorious Christian life. For each of these 15 messages a detailed one page abstract was prepared, which will be helpful to any Christian.
NOTE: All audio messages were delivered in English, with translation into the Nepali language. Unfortunately, not all messages got recorded.
- The fall
- The Flood
- The calling of Abraham
- God’s dealings with Abraham
- Israel in Egypt and the Passover
- The Coming Christ – a great theme in the OT
- The victory of Christ at the cross and in resurrection
- The Holy Spirit poured out
- Two great principles in the NT
- Spiritual growth – Lesson 1
- Spiritual growth – Lesson 2
- Spiritual growth – Lesson 3
- Spiritual growth – Lesson 4
- Looking for and Preparing for the coming of the Lord
Charts used in the conference
- Gen. 1:1. “The beginning” here means the beginning of our universe, with its elements of time and space and matter. The Hebrew word translated “beginning” usually describes an initial period of time, not a single point in time. It seems likely that this term “beginning” refers to the seven days in Genesis chapter one. It was during this period that God created the universe and all within it and rested in satisfaction. This idea is found in the plain statement of Ex. 20:11: "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
- The eternal God existed before creation (Ps. 90:2). He created the material universe out of nothing by His creative power. Col. 1:16; Heb. 11:3; Rev. 4:11. Man is therefore responsible to his Creator, God (Rom. 1:18-21).
- The book of Genesis has truths which are like seeds that grow and develop throughout the Bible.
- The first day of creation is covered by 1:1-5. The light here is not sunlight as the sun was created on the fourth day (1:16-18). On the second day, God made an expanse of space called “heaven” (v.8). which separated the waters on the earth from a layer of water, in a vapor state, above the heavens. This huge vapor canopy was released upon the earth as rain in the flood at Noah’s time (Gen. 7:11).
- The third day. God created the dry land into the earliest continents, perhaps out of material that was in the earth’s watery surface. The seas were formed in basins. The earth brought forth trees and grass.
- The fourth day and fifth days. The sun, moon and stars were created for light, for days and years, and for signs and for seasons, which means “appointed times” in Hebrew. Signs – to tell the glory of God (Ps. 19:1-4) and send other signals to man (Matt. 2:1-2, 9-10; Rom. 1:20; 10:18; Joel 2:30-31; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 6:12-17). The major “appointed times” are outlined as seven convocations in Lev. 23, on dates tied to the lunar/solar calendar. These seven feasts portray the major events of God’s redemptive program in history (such as Christ’s death as “Passover,” His resurrection as “Firstfruits,” and the birth of the church at “Pentecost”). On the fifth day God created the sea creatures and the birds.
- The sixth day. The land animals were created, each according to its kind. The theory of evolution claims that all life forms evolved from one small life form into many different kinds of life forms. But, this is impossible and no fossil has ever been found that was a bridge between two kinds. Different dogs (the canine kind) can be bred to develop various dog breeds, but no dog has ever evolved into a horse! Man was created on the sixth day as the climax of God’s creation.
- Man created in God’s image, after His likeness. Man was created to reflect God’s glory, to shine forth His magnificent character. To accomplish this, man was made similarly to God (in His image) as a being with ability to think and reason, with emotions, with a free will, with a moral capacity, and with a spiritual capacity for communion with God (Gen. 1:26). Jesus Christ is the perfect man, expressing God perfectly (Jn.1:17-18; 14:9; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:1-3). The great potential for man in Gen. 1:26-27 was lost through the sinful fall of man (Gen. 3). However, when we become believers, God’s plan is for us to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). Gen. 1:26 also shows God’s plan for man to rule over the earth. We will reign with God in eternity (Rev. 22:5). Believers can also be rewarded with responsibility to reign with Christ in the next age of 1,000 years, if they live faithfully in this life (Matt. 25:14-23; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:4-6). Ps. 8:3-6 similarly speaks of God’s plan for man.
- All that God made in the first six days He saw as “very good” (1:31). At that point the fall of man into sin and the rebellion of the angels had not occurred. In God’s eyes it was good to make creatures with a free will so that they are not forced to love Him and serve Him, but only do so out of their free choice.
- Gen. 2 provides a more detailed account of the creation of man. Gen. 2:23-25 not only gives us God’s plan for human marriage, but also illustrates God’s intention for the church to live under the headship of Christ and to be in spiritual union with Him in order accomplish God’s purpose. See Eph. 5:22-32.
- Satan: He is first seen as the serpent - he took possession of the serpent’s body. Job. 38:4-7 tells us that the “sons of God” (angels per Job 1:6) witnessed the creation of the earth. Since everything in the heavens and earth were created in the first six days (Ex. 20:11), this must mean that Satan was created on the first day, after the heavens were created, but before the earth (Gen. 1:1). The Bible weaves some history of Satan within the story of the king of Babylon in Is.14:4-17. Note especially 14:12-15 where Lucifer (Satan) willfully rebels against God. Similarly, Satan is revealed in part of the story of the ruler of Tyre in Ezek. 28. Verses 28:11-17 reach beyond the earthly king of Tyre to depict Satan, who was the “anointed cherub” (v.14), but fell due to his pride (v. 17). He was perfect when created until sin was found in him (v. 15). Satan means “adversary.” After his fall (sometime after the first week) he became God’s adversary, opposing God and His plan. So in Gen. 3 we see him trying to ruin man, whom God created for glory and dominion. When Satan rebelled, he took one third of the angels with him in the rebellion against God (Rev. 12:4). From Gen. 3 through Rev. 20 we see the warfare between Satan and God, with men influenced by both personalities (Eph. 2:1-3; 6:11-13; Phil. 2:12).
- Satan’s temptation of Eve (3:1-5): His tactics focus on placing a question of God’s word and upon God’s character. He suggests that God is withholding something valuable from Eve. Then he blatantly lies that Eve will not die, thus calling God a liar and saying that God’s word is not true.
- Eve’s desire (3:6): Her desire is threefold: “good for food” = the desire of the flesh; “a delight to the eyes” = the desire of the eyes; “to make one wise” = the pride of life. Note 1 Jn. 2:15-17, showing how these desires may draw one away from God, if yielded to apart from God’s will. Jesus was similarly tested but did not yield to the temptation (Matt. 4:1-11). Eve violated the will of God in taking the fruit.
- The two trees: The trees were real trees, but symbolized some very important spiritual truths. The tree of life represented Christ, who could become spiritual life for man (Col. 3:3-4; 2 Pet. 1:3-4; Rev. 22:2). Taking this tree signifies dependence upon God, which issues in life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil signifies independence from God, man living by his own efforts without God, which issues in death. The final tree of life for believers is in the New Jerusalem in eternity (Rev. 22:2)
- The test of obedience: God tested Adam and Eve to see if they would obey His command not to eat of the tree of knowledge. Eve was deceived by Satan and disobeyed; Adam was not deceived but also disobeyed (1 Tim. 2:14). By man’s free will he could obey or disobey. The result of disobedience was the entrance of sin and death into Adam and Eve and the world, as well as God’s condemnation upon sinful man (Rom. 5:12-16). Adam and Eve died spiritually on the day they ate of the tree, as seen in their loss of fellowship with God (Gen. 3:7-11). They also died physically many years later.
- God’s promise: This verse shows that due to the fall there will be enmity between Satan and mankind (represented by the woman, “the mother of all living,” 3:20), especially believers (Rev. 12:12-17; 13:1-10). Also there will be enmity between Satan’s seed (fallen men, Jn. 8:44, and evil spirits who follow Satan) and “her seed.” “Her seed” most surely refers to her one descendant, Christ (Gal. 3:16), who would crush the serpent’s head. The second part of the verse contains the “first gospel” in the Bible, a prophecy of Christ’s defeat of Satan. On the cross, Satan only bruised Christ’s heel in temporary death, but Satan was fully judged and defeated at the cross (Jn. 12:31-32; 16:31; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14).
- God’s provision: The couple’s use of fig leaves shows man’s attempt to solve his guilt by his works (Gen. 3:7). Gen. 3:21 shows that God killed an animal (a picture of the blood sacrifice of Christ) in order to clothe Adam and Eve. This provision pictures Christ, who bore our sins on the cross and made a provision for us to be clothed in His righteousness (Is. 53:5; Rom. 3:22; 4:3-8; 1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21).
- The meaning: The flood event speaks of the judgment of God upon sinful men and the deliverance of men from judgment through Christ. God hates sin because He is holy and morally perfect (Ps. 5:4-6; 11:4-7). Although God also is patient with man, He eventually judges sin in His wrath. God also desires to save men from His righteous judgment upon sin and provides for them a way of salvation from judgment.
- The flood was a real catastrophic event. There are a number of stories from various ancient peoples which also tell of a great flood on the earth. The tremendous upheavals and great water movements from the flood, occurring over many months, led to significant geological changes to the earth. This event has been studied by Christian scientists in light of Scriptural statements. A unique Hebrew word (mabbul) is used for the flood in Gen. 6-8, showing it to be a singular catastrophic event in history.
- Why did God bring the flood? The flood came because the evil upon the earth was very great and was ripe for God’s judgment. One awful source for the influence of evil was the activity of fallen angels. Scriptures considered together show that some angels left their previous place, came to earth, took on human form, and had sex with human women, thus producing offspring who were giants and evil (Gen. 6:2, 4, Jude 1:6). The “sons of God” is 6:2 is a reference to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1). These rebellious angels boldly attempted to thoroughly corrupt the human race, perhaps especially so that the promised “seed” to crush Satan’s head (Gen. 3:15) could not appear. Later, God imprisoned these evil fallen angels in a special pit until the coming Day of Judgment (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6). The result of the evil activity of these fallen angels upon the pre-flood society was to influence men to be thoroughly evil and violent (Gen. 6:5, 11-12).
- Noah. Noah (along with his family) was an exception to the evil generation. Why? Gen. 3:8 tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” This grace here means God’s gracious favor and acceptance of Noah. We can guess that this happened because Noah had learned some valuable things from his forefathers. Noah no doubt learned these things directly from the descendants of Seth, Adam’s son. Noah placed his faith in the promise given in Gen. 3:15 that God would bring a “seed,” a Savior for mankind. Also, after the flood, the first thing Noah did was to offer blood sacrifices to God, showing his understanding that only a blood sacrifice could satisfy God’s anger against sin (Gen. 8:20-21). He had gained this understanding through the history of his ancestor, Abel (Gen. 4:1-5). Noah, realizing his own sinfulness, offered this blood sacrifice, looking forward in faith to God’s perfect sacrifice, “the lamb of God,” Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:29; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 10:12). Gen. 6:9 records that Noah was righteous and blameless, and that he walked with God. Here Noah being described as righteous refers to his standing or position (not his living) before God because of his faith in God’s promise of a coming Savior (Rom. 4:3-5; Gal. 3:6-9, 16). The word “blameless” does not mean sinless perfection, but means spiritual maturity and integrity. Noah learned to walk in fellowship with God and in obedience, and thus was blameless.
- The ark. God determined to destroy all of evil mankind, except Noah’s family (6:13-18). In 6:3 God stated that He would not continue to strive with man. His Spirit had been striving with man, trying to convict man of his sinfulness for some time, most probably through the preaching of the godly descendants of Adam. But, the great masses of people were hardened by sin. God announced a final period of 120 years before judgment would fall (6:3). During that period God was patient, waiting for the ark to be finished to protect the remnant (1 Pet. 3:20). Noah preached righteousness during that time (2 Pet. 2:5). The ark is the vessel of salvation, which experienced the judgment waters but protected those inside. Christ bore our sins on the cross to protect us from God’s judgment (Is. 53:4-6, 11; 1 Cor. 15:3). Only those people “in Christ” will be protected from the penalty of eternal death as the judgment of God upon a world of sinful men (Jn. 3:17-18; 5:24; Rom. 6:23). God’s final Day of Judgment is approaching (2 Pet. 3:7). When Christ comes, it will be a time of universal judgment upon the world (Ps. 98:9).
The calling of Abraham
- Israel, God’s special nation. After man’s failure at the time of the flood, and after the rebellion of Babel (Gen. 11), God called Abraham to be the father of a nation, the Jews. God’s intention was that they would be a special people to Him, and a source of blessing to the whole world (Gen. 12:1-3; Deut. 7:6; 10:15; 1 Sam. 12:22; Is. 41:8). In knowing the Bible, it is important to understand that God sees all of earth’s inhabitants as belonging to one of three groups: 1) the nation of Israel; 2) the church; 3) the “gentiles” (all others). 1 Cor. 10:32 makes this distinction (in this verse, the word “Greeks” is equivalent to “gentiles”). The remainder of the Old Testament, following Gen. 12, is mostly a record of God’s dealings with His special people, Israel.
- God’s promises and covenant to Abraham. When God called Abraham out of his land, He made some marvelous promises to him (Gen. 12:1-3, 7). These promises of blessing were later clarified and also formally made into a covenant (Gen. 15:18). Thus we have the important term Bible teachers call “The Abrahamic Covenant.” This is God’s covenant with Abraham and the nation of Israel. A covenant was a type of agreement in the ancient world between two parties, spelling out their agreement on certain things and indicating the responsibilities of the parties. Some covenants required both parties to do certain things for the covenant to be carried out fully. Some covenants required only one of the parties to be responsible to fulfill the covenant. In the Abrahamic Covenant God took upon Himself alone the responsibility to fulfill all of the promises of the covenant. Abraham was not required to perform anything on his part to fulfill the covenant. God demonstrated this in Gen. 15:7-15, when He ratified the covenant but was the only party to pass between the cut animals. If both parties had responsibilities to complete in order for the covenant to be fulfilled, then the two parties would walk through. God took all of the responsibility upon Himself to fulfill all of the promises to Abraham and the Jews, and He will fully carry it out by His sovereignty and power. Once a covenant is ratified, no conditions can be added (Gal. 3:15). All of God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled!
- God’s promises in the Abrahamic Covenant. The covenant covered three realms of blessing. Firstly, there were personal blessings for Abraham: a great nation would come from him; his name would be great; he would be a blessing to others; all the families of the earth would be blessed through him; kings and nations would come from him; God would be his God; the land of Canaan would be his for an everlasting possession. Secondly, there were national blessings for Abraham’s descendants, the Jewish nation: the guarantee of a continued national existence and greatness; the promised land of Canaan to be theirs forever; and the lasting nature of the Covenant itself; God would be their God. Thirdly, there would be universal blessings to all the nations through Abraham’s descendants. In this last category we can see the blessing given to the nations by the Scriptures that came from the Jews, as well as the testimony of the miracles God performed for them. Ultimately, the greatest blessing is from Jesus Christ, the promised “seed” (Gen. 3:15) who was a Jew descended from Abraham (Matt. 1:1). (See Gen. 12:1-7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 18:17-19; 22:15-18) Overall the Covenant had to do with the land, the seed (Abraham’s descendants), and the blessings.
- The complete fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant lies in the future. The promise of the land became clearer through the Palestinian Covenant, a sub-covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant (Num. 34:1-12; Deut. 30:1-10). The Jews’ lasting possession of the land (larger than the current state of Israel) will happen at the end of this age (Deut. 30:3-6). The promise related to the seed was expanded in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:4-17) and will be fulfilled when Christ rules on the “throne of David” during the next age of 1,000 years and into eternity (Lk. 1:32-33). The blessings promised to Abraham are stated as spiritual blessings under another sub-covenant, the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Rom. 11:25-27; Heb. 8:6-13). This covenant finds fulfillment for national Israel upon Christ’s return.
God’s dealings with Abraham
Lessons Of Faith
- God appears to Abram. Acts 7:2-3 and Gen. 12:4 show us that God appeared to Abram and spoke the promises in Gen. 12:1-3 while he lived in Mesopotamia. This personal visit and word from God must have made a great impression upon Abram. God told Abram that he should be a blessing and that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:2-3). It must be that Abram had some realization that the peoples around him who worshipped idols needed salvation from God. He was surely aware of the flood judgment upon a sinful earth and the judgment at Babel upon rebellious man. When Abram came into the promised land God appeared to him a second time, Abraham built an altar in worship to the one true God (Gen. 12:7). He knew a Savior was needed and likely knew of the promise of the seed of Gen. 3:15. The statement in Gen. 12:3 that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” was clarified in 22:18 to be “in your seed [your descendant].” And this “seed” is singular, referring to the coming Savior, Jesus Christ, as shown in Gal. 3:16.
- Abram believes the gospel. This background gives us a way to understand what happened in Gen. 15. At that time, God’s words of reassurance came to Abram (Gen. 15:1). However, Abram was puzzled, as God had not given him an heir who was born from him. Abram wondered if his servant was to be his heir (Gen. 15:2-3). But God told him that one born from his own body would be his heir. God took Abram outside to see the stars and assured him that as the stars could not be counted, so his descendants would be (Gen. 15:5-6). At this point, Abram simply believed God’s word and this faith was counted to him for righteousness (Gen. 15:6; Gal. 3:6-8). The good news here was all about how God would produce the promised seed (a descendant of Abraham) which would bring in blessing for all peoples. Therefore, the Bible reveals that God preached the gospel to Abram in God’s promises about the blessing through the seed (Gal. 3:6-8). The object of Abram’s faith was the coming seed, Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself stated: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." (Jn. 8:56).
- Spiritual lessons. Gen. 16 shows how Abram and Sarai were tested in their faith. God allowed Sarai to be barren for a time, and her impatience led her to lose faith in God’s promise. So she proposed to Abram that he should lie with Hagar. He too failed in his faith here. Hagar pictures the covenant of law, involving human works to be right with God (see Gal. 4:24-25). Abram’s relations with Hagar shows how “the flesh” (meaning the natural, fallen man – Gen. 6:3; Gal. 3:2) works together with the law, trying to do works for God and be acceptable to Him. But the flesh trying to carry out things for God always ends in failure and spiritual death (Rom. 7:5). Ishmael was born when Abram was 86 years old. After this failure, the word of God is silent for 13 years about Abram’s life. We should never try to carry out God’s works or plans by the energy of our natural ability, no matter how capable we may seem to be naturally. God’s work is always to be carried out by His power, His grace, through trust in God and His word. Paul said that he labored more than all others, but not by his own natural power, but by God’s grace (1 Cor. 15:10). God finally appeared to Abram when he was 99 years old (17:1). At that time God said: “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly." (Gen. 17:1-2) God’s name here really means the “All-sufficient God.” In other words, God was telling Abram that He would be everything to Abram, all that Abram needed. By walking before God, and depending fully upon Him and His promises, Abram would find his strength and ability in God, not in himself. Abram believed God, even that he would have a son at 100 years old, according to God’s word, and he did (17:15-21; 21:1-8; Rom. 4:18-21). It was at this time that God changed his name, indicating a change in character. Abram meant “exalted father,” but Abraham means “father of a multitude.” The old name, Abram, indicated the life of the old person, the self-life, the natural life of Abram. But, the new name, Abraham, indicates a new life empowered by God’s grace. Such a life can give spiritual life to others. God set circumcision as a sign of His covenant with Abraham. Circumcision indicates a cutting off of the flesh, signifying the old life of man, which is accomplished through our identification with Christ in His crucifixion (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24; Col. 2:11). Our old life being crucified with Christ and our new life being lived out is accomplished by a walk of faith (Gal. 2:20).
Israel in Egypt and the Passover :
Spiritual Lessons For Us
- Israel in bondage and affliction in Egypt. God had told Abraham that his descendants would be in a strange land and suffer affliction for 400 years. God also promised that He would deliver them from their bondage and judge the nation that afflicted them (Gen. 15:13-14). The children of Israel came to Egypt as a result of Joseph (the son of Jacob) being sold into slavery by his brothers (see Gen. 37, 39-46). The people of Israel cried out to God for deliverance and God called Moses to this work, speaking to him from the burning bush (Ex. 3, Acts 7:30-35). Moses had previously failed to deliver the people by his own plan and power, but now God would be his power (Ex.2:11-15; Acts 7:22-30). Here we see the spiritual lesson that our service to the Lord must be in dependence upon Him and according to His will and plan. God declared that it was He Himself who would deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians and would also bring them into the land according to His covenant with Abraham (Ex. 2:23-25; 3:7-12).
- The Passover and deliverance from Egypt. Ex. 7-11 record the plagues God brought upon Egypt in order to force Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. In Scripture we may see that Egypt pictures this world system with Satan (like Pharaoh) being the ruler of this world (Jn. 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Jn. 5:19). All are under his dominion until they believe in the gospel and are delivered (Acts 26:16-18). All of Egypt, their people and their gods, were under the judgment of God. So, in the last plague God passed through the land to kill all the firstborn of Egypt, both man and beast (Ex. 12:12). The firstborn represented the whole race. This judgment pictures the condemnation of God upon the whole world of sinful men (Rom.3:9-20; 5:16, 18). But, the Israelites were spared from this judgment because at God’s word they took a lamb, killed it and placed its blood on the doorway. God said that when He saw the blood, He would pass over the house and those inside would be spared the judgment (Ex. 12:1-30). The lamb that was killed was a picture of the coming Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). The hyssop plant used to place the blood on the doorway pictures our faith, used to apply the blood to our sinful lives (Ex. 12:22). Without the blood, there is no forgiveness of sins, but with the blood of Christ, we are redeemed, bought back from the bondage and guilt of our sins (Heb. 9:22; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). The blood of Christ protects us from God’s wrath with the penalty of eternal death for sins (Rom. 6:23). This event was the most significant event in the ancient history of the people of Israel. Therefore, God told them that it should be remembered every year by them as a memorial of God’s redemption (Ex. 12:23-27; Lev. 23:4-5). When Jesus was crucified, He fulfilled in reality the Passover as the Lamb of God sacrificed on the day of Passover. The NT declares: “Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). When Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples on the night before His crucifixion, He instituted this meal as the Lord’s Supper for the church. The bread symbolizes His body given for us, and the wine symbolizes His blood shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:26-28; Lk. 22:14-20). It declares that the church shares in the blessings of forgiveness of the New Covenant God made with Israel (Lk. 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). After God’s judgment on Egypt, Moses led the people out of Israel through the Red Sea. This great and miraculous deliverance pictures spiritual truth: Moses pictures Christ, and Israel going through the sea pictures our spiritual baptism into Christ (1 Cor. 10:2; Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3-4); Pharaoh’s armies drowned in the sea pictures the defeat of Satan’s forces at the cross (Jn. 12:31; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14); God’s people crossing through the sea indicates their separation from the world (Jn. 17:16; Gal. 6:14; 1 Jn. 5:4).
- The giving of the Law. God gave the Law to Moses within a few weeks after the people left Egypt (Ex. 19-24). This Law was a covenant with God (the Mosaic Covenant or the Law). It stipulated that the children of Israel must obey in order to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:4-6). The OT history of the Israelites shows that they could not obey and often turned away from God’s Law. The NT declares that the Law was given to show men the problem of sin and thus it was a tutor to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:16-26).
The Coming Christ – A Great Theme Of The Old Testament :
Lk. 24:25-27, 44; 1 Pet. 1:10-11
The OT spoke of the first coming of Christ in over 300 prophecies. Jesus came first as “the Suffering Servant.” Some key OT prophecies and sketches of Christ:
- He would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2. Lk. 2:4-6.
- Born of a virgin. Is. 7:14. Lk. 1:26-31, 34-35.
- From the line of Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 22:18. Matt. 1:1); a descendant of Jacob (Num. 24:17. Matt. 1:2); from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10. Lk. 3:33; Heb. 7:14).
- Children would be killed at Christ’s birthplace. Jer. 31:15. Matt. 2:16-18.
- A messenger would prepare the way for the Messiah. Is. 40:3-5. Lk. 3:3-6.
- He would bring light to Galilee. Is. 9:1-2. Matt. 4:12-16.
- He would bring healing to the oppressed. Is. 61:1-2. Lk. 4:17-21.
- He would be the promised Prophet. Deut. 18:15. Acts 3:20-23.
- Jesus would be the Lord’s “Suffering Servant” to accomplish redemption (Is. 53). The Messiah would be betrayed (Ps. 41:9; Lk. 22:47-48); betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12-13; Matt. 26:14-16); the silver used to buy a potter’s field (Zech. 11:12-13; Matt. 27:6-10; He would be silent before His accusers (Is. 53:7; Mk. 15:3-5; He would be struck and spat upon (Is. 50:6; Matt. 26:67); He would be hated without a cause (Ps. 35:19; 69:4; Jn. 15:24-25); He would be mocked and ridiculed (Ps. 22:7-8; Lk. 23:35); His hands and feet would be pierced (Ps. 22:16; Lk. 24:39-40; Jn. 20:25-27); He would be pierced (Zech. 12:10; Jn. 19:34); He would be crucified with criminals (Is. 53:12; Matt. 27:38); those who crucified Him would gamble for His garments (Ps. 22:18; Matt. 27:35); He would be forsaken by God (Ps. 22:1; Matt. 27:46); He would be a sacrifice for sin (Is. 53:5-12; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 2:24).
- He would be resurrected from the grave Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24-28.
The OT spoke of the second coming of Christ, when He will come again as “the King of Glory.”
- When Christ returns, He will judge the earth as He begins to establish His kingdom Ps. 96:10-13; 98:6-9.
- Ps. 24 depicts Christ coming triumphantly into Jerusalem following the final battle of this age. He is coming as “the King of glory.” (Ps. 24, especially 24:7-10).
- Zech. 14 shows us that all nations will gather to battle against Jerusalem. The Lord Himself will fight against them. A way of escape will be made for the remnant of the Jews who are being pursued by Antichrist’s forces. The Lord will come and will be King over all the earth. Ps. 2 also describes this time when the nations rage against God and “His Anointed” (which means Christ). Christ will be installed as King on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Mic. 4:7 and Is. 24:23 confirm His reign on Mt. Zion. Is. 9:6-7 tell us that the Son given to us will be upon the throne of David and there will be no end to His government. This fulfills the Davidic Covenant made with David concerning His descendants (2 Sam. 7:8-17; Ps. 89:20-37; Matt. 19:28; 25:31; Lk. 1:32-33; Rev. 11:15).
- Some other passages describing the glory of the King’s reign are Is. 2:2-4; 11:1-10; 35:5-10; 65:18-25; Ps. 72; Mic. 4:1-3.
The Victory Of Christ At The Cross And In Resurrection
- When Jesus came the world was being ruled by Satan and men were living under the guilt and bondage of sin, as well as the influence of the evil spirits (Jn. 12:31; Rom. 3:9, 23; Eph. 2:1-3). God’s plan in Jesus made a way for all of these problems to be solved. Jesus came “in the fullness of time” to be the Savior for mankind (Gal. 4:4-5). “Born of a woman” in Gal. 4:4 indicates both the humanity of God’s Son and His being the promised “seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:15) to crush Satan’s head.
- Through His death on the cross, Jesus accomplished redemption for sinful men. To “redeem” means to purchase out of a market. All men are considered as slaves “sold under bondage to sin” (Rom. 7:14). Further, men are under the condemnation of eternal death (total separation from God for eternity) due to their sin (Rom. 6:23). But, Christ came to make a payment on our behalf to release us from the bondage of sin and condemnation due to our sins (Mk. 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:5-6). Instead of us dying for our sins, Christ died in our place, thus paying the full penalty for our sins in God’s eyes (Is. 53:5-6; Rom. 4:25; 5:6-8). So, now we have been redeemed, bought out of the slave market of sin and purchased as God’s own possession (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18). Through Christ’s redemption we have forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7). “It is finished.” (Jn. 19:30)
- At the cross, God legally judged Satan, the ruler of the present world system (Jn. 12:31; Jn. 16:11). The execution of that judgment is yet future for Satan (Rev. 20:1-3; 20:10), so he is still a power to be reckoned with in this age (Eph. 6:10-12; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).
- When Jesus took on humanity and died on the cross, He defeated the devil, and disarmed him of his power of death (Heb. 2:14-15). Satan and his forces were defeated at the cross (Col. 2:14-15). Satan and his forces did all they could, influencing sinful men, to put Christ to death (Lk. 22:2-6). They were ignorant of what God would do on the cross, providing for reconciliation of men with God (2 Cor. 5:18-21). The “rulers of this age,” both the human rulers, as well as the fallen spirit rulers (Eph. 6:12), were ignorant that the crucifixion of Christ would secure God’s victory over evil, not His defeat (1 Cor. 2:6-8).
- The world system under the rule of the devil was judged at the cross (Jn. 12:31; Gal. 6:14).
- The sin principle within man was judged at the cross (Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21).
- Our “old man,” all that we were “in Adam,” was crucified with Christ, so that we would no longer have to live in slavery to sin (Rom. 6:6).
- We are set apart to God forever “in Christ” due to Christ’s perfect offering on the cross (Heb. 10:10, 14).
- By His resurrection, Jesus displayed His victory over death and the grave and proved who He was (Jn.11:25; Acts 2:24; Rev. 1:17-18).
- When Christ had completed His perfect work of redemption, He arose from the dead. His resurrection declared the acceptance of His work by the Father and demonstrated that our justification had been accomplished (Rom. 4:25).
- In resurrection Christ is the giver of resurrection life (Jn. 11:25-26). We were raised up with Christ in His resurrection (Eph. 2:6), so that we can now walk in newness of life by faith (Rom. 6:4).
- Christ’s resurrection power is now available to His body, the church (Eph. 1:19-21). This power enables us to overcome many difficult circumstances in life and endure in faithfulness to God (2 Cor. 1:8-10; 4:7-11; Rom. 8:34-37).
The Holy Spirit Poured Out :
Acts 2:1-4, 16-18, 32-33; Gal. 3:14; 4:5-6
- Having accomplished redemption, Jesus poured forth the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4, 16-18, 32-33). A new era was inaugurated at that time. This began “the age of grace” (or we could say “the age of the Spirit”), as well as the “age of the church.” The church began at Pentecost. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks.” (1 Cor. 12:13)
- This outpouring begins the “blessing of Abraham” for all the families of the earth, as promised in the Abrahamic Covenant: “and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). Gen. 22:18 explains further that it is in Abraham’s descendant (Jesus Christ) that this blessing will come: "In your seed [Jesus Christ] all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." (see Gal.3:16 also) Gal. 3:14 makes all of this very clear: “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
- This outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the initiation of the New Covenant (an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant), prophesied in Jer. 31:31-37. The New Covenant promises to national Israel will ultimately be fulfilled in the coming 1,000 year kingdom of Christ with a remnant of national Israel. However, the church is now sharing in the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant. These spiritual blessings are fundamentally seen as: (1) the indwelling of the Spirit of God in believers (Jer. 31:33-34 and Heb. 8:10-11), and (2) the eternal forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34 and Heb. 8:12). Jesus ratified this New Covenant by His blood with His disciples at the Passover meal just before He was crucified: “And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.’” (Lk. 22:20) The Spirit never permanently indwelt anyone in the OT era, and sins were only passed over, not forgiven (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 10:4). The great promise of the New Covenant is the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in the believer so that we can know Him in an intimate way and in an increasing way (read Heb. 8:10-11).
Some of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the believer:
- Our human spirit is born again with the life of God by the Holy Spirit when we first believe (Jn. 3:6-8; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). Our spirit is the deepest part of our being and is where we contact and have fellowship with God (Jn. 4:23; 1 Cor. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:22).
- The Spirit seals us at the time of belief and all the way up to the day of redemption, when Christ returns (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). The seal indicates that we belong to God and are kept secure by Him. The Holy Spirit is given to all believers to permanently indwell them (Jn. 14:16-17). The Spirit empowers us to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). The Spirit gives spiritual gifts for service (1 Cor. 12:7-11).
- The Spirit working with the Word. The Spirit guides us into the truth, shows us what is to come, and reveals and glorifies Christ to us (Jn. 16:13-15). The Spirit uses the Bible to transform our living as we direct our hearts toward Him while in the Bible (2 Cor. 3:14-18).
- Believers are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit,” which means to be controlled by the Spirit for Christian maturity and service (Eph. 5:18). Immature believers are controlled by the flesh, their own natural desires (1 Cor. 3:1-3). To be under the Spirit’s control means that we are walking (having our conduct) “according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:16) and are “by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body” (putting to death the sinful inclinations of our old nature before temptations are yielded to and manifested as sins – Jas. 1:14-15). To be under the Spirit’s control means we are also being “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18). Such control by the Holy Spirit is to produce the fruit of the Spirit and to ultimately conform us to the image of Christ (Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 8:29).
Two Great Principles In The New Testament :
(1) Eternal Salvation by Grace; (2) Reward According to Works
- To understand the Bible we must know these two principles. There are many verses which apply to the believer’s future status and condition, but these are often misunderstood because of lack of understanding these two principles. These two principles are like two shelves for two types of items. Confusion results when an item is on the wrong shelf. Similarly, verses applying to reward are often wrongly thought by people to belong to the “eternal salvation” shelf.
- Our eternal salvation, being saved from God’s judgment upon sin in order to be with God throughout eternity, is given to us as a free gift. It is God’s grace to us. This gift is received by faith. Clear verses showing that our eternal salvation is a gift received through faith are Jn. 5:24; Acts 16:30-31; Eph. 2:5,8,9. Faith and grace exclude works (Rom. 4:1-8; 11:6). Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins, making it possible for salvation to be a free gift (Acts 13:38-39; Rom. 3:22-24).
- The other principle involves some reward, or recompense, to men based upon their works, their doings. The Bible declares that every man will be recompensed by God according to his works after Christ returns to earth (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12). For unbelievers, this recompense will be an eternity apart from God in the “lake of fire” (which pictures eternal torment), because no man can be justified (declared righteous) by his works before a holy God (Rom. 3:9-20; Rev. 20:11-15). The only escape from this fate is by faith in Christ for salvation (Rom. 3:23-26; 4:5). The recompense for believers is decided at the Judgment Seat of Christ and is based upon the things that they have done since becoming a believer (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10). The recompense for a believer can be positive or negative, but does not affect his eternal salvation, which is a free gift. Note the potential for positive or negative results for a believer in just one matter (Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25). Such recompense falls in the next age of 1,000 years.
- Those believers who are approved for positive reward at Christ’s Judgment Seat may receive various crowns (the reward of ruling with Christ in the future 1,000 year kingdom – 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6): 1. The imperishable crown, awarded for self-control (1 Cor. 9:24-27); 2. The crown of rejoicing, awarded for fruitful labor in the lives of others (1 Thess. 2:19); 3. The crown of righteousness, awarded for righteous living due to love of the Lord’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:8); 4. The crown of life, awarded for faithful endurance under trial and persecution (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10); 5. The crown of glory, awarded to the genuine, godly, and faithful shepherds of the Lord’s flock (1 Pet. 5:2-4). Those believers who are disapproved for positive reward will suffer some negative penalty from the Lord during the 1,000 year kingdom. There will be degrees of punishment depending upon the seriousness of the disobedience in the Christian’s life. Those who persist in some sinful lifestyles will be excluded from the joy of Christ’s kingdom during that kingdom age of 1,000 years and may suffer more penalties (1 Cor. 6:8-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-5). Those who do not serve will also be excluded, but those who serve faithfully now will enter into the joy of Jesus’ kingdom (Matt. 25:14-30). All of our sins are eternally and legally forgiven due to Christ’s redemption (Eph. 1:7), but the Bible reveals that in “time,” before eternity, God in His moral government may punish us with some discipline for our sins (note Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 11:27-32). Sins disrupt our fellowship with God, and should be sincerely confessed and repented of so that God can forgive us these sins before the Judgment Seat of Christ arrives (1 Jn. 1:7-10; Prov. 28:13). Such forgiveness is viewed as “fellowship forgiveness,” which differs from “eternal forgiveness.” Any sin we sincerely confess will not be brought up at Christ’s Judgment Seat, but will have been forgiven.
- All believers already possess “eternal life,” the life of God, due to simple faith (Jn. 3:16; Jn. 17:3; 1 Jn. 5:11-13). However, the reward of a greatly increased enjoyment of eternal life awaits faithful disciples in the “age to come,” the next age of 1,000 years (Mk. 10:28-30; Lk. 18:28-30).
Spiritual Growth – Lesson 1 :
Paying attention to the conscience and dealing with sins
- Our Christian life begins when we are “born again” and the Holy Spirit gives new life to our human spirit (Jn. 3:1-8). Any life should develop over time into maturity, and so it is with our new life in Christ. In four lessons we will cover some basics on how our spiritual life can grow. The goal of our growth is to become conformed to Christ’s image (full maturity). To grow is to live increasingly like Him in our lives (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 4:15; Col. 3:10; 1 Pet. 2:1-3; 2 Pet. 1:5-9; 3:18).
- The conscience is a God-given function of our human spirit. It is operative, on a greatly diminished level, even in unbelievers (Rom. 2:14-15). When a person is born again, his spirit is enlivened, and thus the sensitivity of his conscience is dramatically enhanced (Eph. 4:17-19; Rom. 6:21; Rom. 8:10). The conscience of man functions to monitor his thoughts, words, motives and actions in light of what the person understands to be good and evil. The conscience testifies to a person whether one is upholding or violating the moral standards he acknowledges as true. If we violate our accepted standards of morality, then we feel uneasiness and guilt. “And it came about afterward that David’s conscience [lit., heart] bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe” (1 Sam 24:5; see also 2 Sam. 24:10). If we live according to our accepted moral code, then we feel affirmed within as being correct. “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 9:1). See also 2 Cor. 1:12. To the believer, then, the conscience is his inward advisor as to whether he is sinning or obeying God.
- Maintaining a blameless conscience. Paul, even as an unbeliever trying to live righteously before God, paid much attention to his conscience (Acts 23:1). He stated that “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men” (Acts 24:16). He lived by the dictates on his conscience, seeking to do right and taking steps to clear up any offense that violated his conscience. The way we clear up offenses that condemn us in our conscience is to confess our sins to God (1 Jn. 1:9). To confess means to “agree with” God (that we have sinned) as He points out sins in our lives through the working of the Holy Spirit and our conscience. If we do this, then God forgives us of our sins and our fellowship with Him is restored and maintained (1 Jn. 1:9; Prov. 28:13). Our conscience is like a window which must be cleaned in order to allow God’s light to enter our spirit and give us unhindered communion with Him. If we respond in confession to God’s condemnation of our wrongdoings, then this window of our conscience becomes clean, allowing for future light and even greater light. On the other hand, if we do not confess our sins, our conscience becomes damaged and the window becomes cloudy. Therefore, we can see less of God’s light and His voice becomes more hushed. If this pattern continues, it is possible for a genuine believer to sin without any feeling of being wrong. The believer is then on a dangerous path of living further and further away from God, His truth and His righteousness.
- The dangers of a violated conscience. This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith” (1 Tim. 1:18-19). This passage shows that our faith and a good conscience go together. However, if we reject a good conscience (by not maintaining a blameless conscience), our faith may leak out, eventually causing us to doubt even the fundamental doctrines of “the faith.” This is what happened to Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:19-20).
- The fruitfulness of a good conscience. The Bible upholds the clear, or good conscience, as being of great value in God’s plan for the believer. “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). In this verse we see that a good conscience is needed in order for love to flow from us. Those chosen to be deacons are to have a clear conscience (1 Tim. 3:9-10). Paul was an example of one who served with a clear conscience (2 Tim. 1:3).
- Knowledge. Each believer’s conscience is shaped by Scriptural and spiritual knowledge and develops over time (1 Cor. 8, Rom. 14; 2 Pet. 3:18).
Spiritual Growth – Lesson 2 :
The Word of God
- The Bible is a vital source for our spiritual growth. Jesus quoted the OT: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” The Bible is as necessary to sustain spiritual life as food is to sustain physical life. In Jn. 6 Jesus portrayed Himself as the living bread from heaven, which gives life. Then, He summarized how He comes to us as bread: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (Jn. 6:63). In His prayer the night before the cross, Jesus prayed for us, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). To sanctify means to set apart to God. The more we take the words of the Bible in a proper way, the more our lives are set apart to God and to His will.
- Coming to the Bible for life. The best way to absorb life from the Scriptures is to come to them with an open heart seeking after Christ Himself, wanting to hear Him and learn of Him. 2 Cor. 3:15-18 show us that when our heart is turned to the Lord Himself, the Bible is unveiled and the Spirit is ministered to us. Another wonderful verse is James 1:21: “Therefore, rid yourselves of everything impure and every expression of wickedness, and with a gentle spirit welcome the word planted in you that can save your souls.” This verse is very instructive. It tells us this: for the Bible to affect us spiritually, we must come to the Word with an attitude to put away sin, and with a humble and meek spirit we should welcome the word, which planted in our hearts has the power to save (that is, deliver) our souls from any sin and selfish living. Similarly, Jesus spoke: "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (Jn. 8:31-32) The freedom mentioned here is freedom from the power of sin (see 8:33-35).
- Meditating on the Word. An effective way to gain life from the Word is by meditating on it (see Ps. 1; 119:15; Josh. 1:8). This differs from just reading it. In meditation one goes over the phrases of each verse slowly, usually repeatedly, and with consideration. The Hebrew verb for “meditate” means to make a low sound. So in meditation one may repeat the phrases of a verse in prayer softly to God, spontaneously thanking God for the truths, or turning them into prayers for one’s self or others (See Eph. 6:17-18). One may also meditate silently in the heart over verses. Meditation is similar to a cow chewing the cud over and over, breaking the grass down to get its nutrients. The word will feed us this way, and we can move along in a passage phrase by phrase as it seems good to us. A time set aside first thing in the morning for being in God’s word prayerfully was the habit of so many great Christians throughout the centuries.
- Reading the Word. Every Christian should read through the entire Bible regularly. God can teach us and speak to us different things from many passages and stories. Familiarity with the Bible gives God an opportunity to speak to us in our daily lives from things we have previously read in the Scriptures. Knowing the Scriptures through reading them equips us so that we can help others (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
- Diligently studying the Bible. All believers should study the Bible in order to know the truth. The truth not only helps us live free from sin’s dominion (Jn. 8:3-1-36), but also helps safeguard us from error and false teachings. The Christians in Berea are a good example for us, checking Paul’s teaching by studying the Scriptures for themselves (Acts 17:10-12). As a result, they trusted Christ and were saved! There is just as much false teaching around today as in the early church. Without a very good knowledge of the Bible, Christians are easily led astray by clever and deceiving false teachers. Paul’s word to Timothy is a good word for all of us, especially for those who are caring for the flock: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15). Shepherds of the flock are responsible to guard the flock against false teaching (Acts 20:28-30).
- The Bible feeds our faith. The one way to strengthen our faith is to be in the Bible with our heart open to God. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:14) The remedy for weak faith is to spend more time reading, considering and meditating on, or even memorizing, the Word of God.
Spiritual Growth – Lesson 3 :
Living in victory over the sin nature within
- The born-again believer has two natures or dispositions within. Before we were born again, we had only one nature – the sinful nature inherited from Adam. This nature urged us to sin and we felt helpless to successfully resist these urges, often yielding to them (Eph. 2:1-3). Thus, the Bible declares that we were “slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:20). When we were born again we became partakers of God’s divine nature in our human spirit (Jn. 3:6-8; Rom. 8:10; 2 Pet. 1:4). Now there are opposing forces within us. Our spirit with the life of God along with the resident Holy Spirit urges us to obey Him, but the old nature of our sinful life is still within us, urging us to do things that are wrong in God’s sight. This battle is seen in Gal. 5:16-23. How do we win this battle of the Spirit versus the “flesh” (our old life)?
- The victory has already been won by Jesus Christ. The Bible makes an astonishing statement: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). Jesus won the victory over sin at the cross and in resurrection. God now gives us this victory – makes it fully available to us. It only remains for us to enter into it by faith. The key passage about our sharing in this victory is Romans 6.
Romans 6: Our union with Christ in His death and His resurrection
- Rom. 6:2 declares that we have “died to sin.” How? It is true because “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3). Baptism here is not water baptism but our spiritual immersion into Christ when we believed (Gal. 3:26-27). We were placed into Christ and also placed into His history of death on the cross, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-6; Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 2:11-13). Rom. 6:4 tells us that our union with Christ in His death and resurrection is so that we might walk in “newness of life,” that is, live out His life.
- “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” (Rom. 6:5). We are in union with Christ in a “death like His.” His death is defined in 6:10: “For the death He died, He died to sin once for all.” In His earthly life Jesus never knew sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). But on the cross, in the eyes of God, Jesus became identified with sin. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). There God judged sin in the flesh of man (Rom. 8:3). Jesus bore the condemnation of sin itself at the cross, which condemnation resulted in death. Then, He died to sin – that is, through His death He broke all ties to sin; He separated from sin through death, dying to it “once for all” (for all time and forever). In the realm of the Spirit we were crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), and when He died to sin, we also died to sin, breaking all ties with sinful race of Adam. We are to “know” the spiritual fact that our old man was crucified with Christ, so that our body would no longer be under the dominion of sin (6:6). We who died are now freed from the power of sin (6:7). We were buried with Christ, breaking our connection with the sinful race of Adam. Then, we were raised up with Christ to live a new life in Christ (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12-13). In His resurrection “the life that He lives He lives to God. (6:10). The sin principle is still present within us, but these spiritual truths tell us that we can live free from its dominion. We do not have to obey the old sin nature’s demands. We need to meditate these truths in Rom. 6 and go over them again and again until they become spiritually real to us.
- “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6:11). We must count these things (Rom. 6:2-10) as absolutely true and believe that we are now dead to sin and alive to God in our spiritual union with Christ Jesus. We must continually stand on these facts by faith, and then the experience follows. Faith never focuses on contrary evidence (such as the presence of sin, the lusts of our flesh or our past failures), but always focuses on God’s word (Rom. 4:19-20; 10:17). Also, we must be in agreement to be dead to sin. We cannot stand on these facts if our will secretly seeks to respond to sin’s appeals. We appropriate by faith our new identity in Christ. We must not believe that we are still the same old sinful person, but that we now have a new life in Christ. (See 2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:4)
- Finally, to have victory, we must present (dedicate) ourselves to God as those now alive from the dead and our members to do righteousness (6:13). This dedication is something we should practice daily.
Spiritual Growth – Lesson 4 :
Living under Grace
- “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14) Now that we have been brought into a spiritual union with Christ, we must learn a new way of living – the way of grace.
- “Under law” means that law, a set of commandments or rules, governs one’s relationship with God. When “under law” a person focuses upon and lives to certain rules. He feels responsible to obey those rules in order to establish his righteousness before God. This general legal principle was the principle of the Old Testament Law. The law demands, but gives no enablement to obey (Gal. 3:21; Rom. 8:3). The law is not God’s way for man. God only gave the law to show man his sinfulness (Rom. 3:20). God’s OT law was holy, but when paired with man’s efforts to keep it and man’s fallen nature, it only produces failure (Rom. 7:12-14; 1 Cor. 15:56). The law puts fallen man under condemnation, causing him to seek a Savior. “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 3:24-25).
- “Under grace” means that my relationship with God is governed by receiving and responding to grace, the working of God’s Spirit towards us. A person living “under grace” is living in union with Christ by means of the Holy Spirit. Our union with Christ in His death and resurrection is detailed in Rom. 6:3-13, and this spiritual union reflects the principle of grace. A person under grace is experiencing Christ as his life and his spiritual supply through the Spirit (1 Cor. 15:10; Gal. 2:20-21, 3:5; 5:4). Paul declares in Rom. 6:14 that sin has lost its place as our master because we are not under the principle of law, but under the principle of grace. The grace principle is now the principle by which we should live our Christian life, not the law principle. "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” (Gal. 2:19). Rom. 7:1-6 illustrates that our relationship to the law is over and now we are joined solely to Christ.
- The supply of grace. The grace of God may be generally defined as the flow of God’s life to us by the Holy Spirit. Such grace strengthens us to serve (1 Cor. 15:10), supplies us to walk in holiness (2 Cor. 1:12), and enables to walk triumphantly in difficult and troubling circumstances (2 Cor. 12:9-10). In living by grace we must deeply depend upon God in faith for our Christian living, as the Bible originally illustrated by the “tree of life” in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9), and ultimately portrays in the New Jerusalem, where we will live by the tree of life for eternity (Gen. 22:2). This tree of life is simply Christ experienced as our life.
- The throne of grace. God invites us to come to His throne of grace in a prayerful and dependent spirit to find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). This verse tells us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.” We can come to God with confidence and in faith: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Our confidence comes from Jesus’ blood shed for us. Yet, we should also come to Him with a sincere heart and cleanse our conscience from any wrongdoing by confession and repentance. When we come in faith, God supplies us with His grace. We also get the supply of grace through the Word of God (Acts 20:32).
- Keeping the commandments. Because we are not under law some may think that this means we do not need to keep God’s commandments. As Christians, we should keep His New Testament commandments and be obedient to God (Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 2:3-4). Whereas being under law means living to a set of external rules, living by grace is different. For the believer, the keeping of God’s commandments is never something apart from the working of God’s life in us. The written commandments of God in the Bible reflect the will of God, the character of God and the ways of God. The Bible is often the “language” which the Holy Spirit uses to speak to us. The word of God and the Spirit of God go hand in hand in the victorious Christian life. If we have a heart truly seeking Him, which includes seeking to obey Him, then the Lord has a way to speak to us from His word. In this “speaking” there will be verses from His word which will make an impression upon us, or that God brings to mind, and we will realize that God is requiring us to walk in obedience to those Scriptures by His power.
Looking For And Preparing For The Coming Of The Lord
- Jesus is coming again. Acts 1:9-11; Matt. 16:27; 24:30, 32-51; 1 Thess. 4:15-17; Rev. 1:7; 22:12. These verses only give a broad picture. There are many other details related to His coming. Jesus will come suddenly at an unknown time, so we must be ready, spiritually prepared (Mk. 13:28-37). The parable of the fig tree shows that when Israel comes to life again (1948) then the Lord’s return is near (Mk. 13:28-29). We do not know the day of His return, but we are in the season of His return now.
- Believers should be looking for the Lord’s return with great anticipation. We should be looking for the blessed hope and appearing of Jesus (Titus 2:12-13). As we hold this hope in our hearts in a living way, it will help us purify ourselves for that day (1 John 3:1-3). We should eagerly wait for our Savior to come back from heaven (Phil. 3:20). For those who eagerly await Him (Heb. 9:28), there is the promise of a special “deliverance.” (“Salvation” in Heb. 9:28 is a “deliverance” related to positive reward, not eternal salvation.) Those looking for events of the end of this age should be diligent to live godly lives (2 Pet. 3:12-14). We should be those who love the Lord’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:7-8). All of these verses strongly tell us that our Lord’s return is not just a doctrine, but should have a definite effect on the lives of believers, affecting their hearts’ desires, longings, motivations and daily decision making. The Lord’s return should be a powerful, motivating force in the lives of believers.
- Believers will receive a glorified body when Christ returns. Our body will be like Christ’s resurrection body. It will be incorruptible and without the presence of sin. 1 Cor. 15:40-44, 50-53; Phil. 3:20-21.
- When Jesus returns He will reign in His glorious kingdom of 1,000 years. Two future phases of God’s kingdom are yet to come. The next phase will be the 1,000 year Kingdom of Christ, which He will establish upon His return (Lk. 19:11-12, 15; Acts 1:6-11; Rev. 11:15). Christ will openly reign on the earth from His throne in Jerusalem (Matt. 19:28; 25:31; Is. 2:1-3; 24:23; Mic. 4:6-8: Rev. 20:4-6). This age is called the regeneration in Matt. 19:28, and called the “the times of restoration” (Acts 3:21) as a fulfillment of prophecy (Is. 11:1-10; 65:18-25). This title indicates that this period is a time when the earth is released from its bondage to corruption (Rom. 8:20-21). Blessings upon the earth during the 1,000 year kingdom: The lifting of the curse. The curse brought in by Adam’s sin is lifted to a great degree in the coming Kingdom age. The creation is released from its bondage to corruption (Rom. 8:21; Is. 11:6-9; 35:1; 55:13). Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:1-3). Health for the redeemed (Is. 33:24; 35:5-6). Peace (Is. 2:4). Righteousness and justice (Is. 11:4; 32:1). Joy (Is. 14:7; 51:11). Comfort (Is. 49:13). Truth will prevail (Jer. 33:6; Zech. 8:3). Material prosperity (Jer. 31:12). Holiness (Is. 11:9). Fullness of the Holy Spirit (Is. 44:3).
- Jesus will reward His faithful believers with a special share in this coming kingdom. When Jesus returns, every believer will give an account of His Christian life to Jesus at His Judgment Seat (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-12; Rev. 22:12). Those believers who have lived faithful lives will receive a positive recompense from Christ, allowing them to be joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom (Rom. 8:17; Heb. 1:9; 3:14). Those who learn self-denial and obedience now will be prepared to reign then and also be priests to God (Lk. 19:16-17; Rom. 8:17b, 2 Tim. 2:12a; Rev. 20:6). The reward to the faithful believer also includes a magnified, intimate enjoyment of Christ as eternal life, which is in accord with man’s design of being created in the image of God (Lk. 18:30; Jn. 17:3; Rev. 2:7, 17; 3:4, 12). Paul lived with the sole ambition of being pleasing to the Lord in light of the coming Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:9-10). He portrayed the Christian life as a race for the prize of being approved to share in the kingdom reward (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Those who live sinful lives, or who do not serve well, or who live for pleasure today instead of seeking this prize will lose this reward and be disciplined by God (Matt. 24:42-51; 25:14-30; Lk. 12:35-48; 1 Cor. 6:8-10; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-5; Heb. 12:16-17). However, all tears will be wiped away in eternity and all believers will reign with God in eternity (Rev. 21:1-5; 22:3-5).