|"THE SEEKER" BIBLE STUDY|
THERE IS A SOLUTION TO OUR PROBLEM -- WHAT IS IT?
Courtesy of author, Linsey Garmon.
Now... the "good news!"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...
If the "bad news" was really bad, the "good news" is sure to be really good! Just as the terminally ill cancer patient would be elated to learn of a sure cure for this horrible disease, the person who knows the damaging and deadly power of sin will find great relief to hear that God has promised and provided a way of deliverance.
Are you ready and willing to hear the "good news" of what God has done to rescue sinners?
Introducing the "GOSPEL!"
Are you aware that the word "GOSPEL" means... Good News? For all sinners who are separated from God and unable to find their way back into fellowship with Him, there is "good news" in the Gospel. This "good news" is so good, so essential, and so powerful that God wants every sinful human being in the world to hear it. Just before He left this earth to return to the heavenly realm, Jesus said to His disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the GOOD NEWS to all creation." (Mark 16:15) No one was to be left out. That includes...YOU!
Why must everyone hear the "Gospel?" Because everyone is held captive by sin's power with no human means of escape. Sin is such a powerful force that it can never be overcome by human strength alone. Many have tried. All have failed. Remember Paul's words. "There is no one righteous. Not even one." (Romans 3:10) Knowing our helplessness, God acted on our behalf and sent His only Son to set us free from the power and penalty of sin. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
This divine intervention on our behalf is at the heart and core of what the "Gospel" is all about. The only hope for every human being is the "good news" of what God has done through Christ to solve the sin-problem. To reject the "Gospel" is to refuse our only way of salvation. In Romans 1:16, Paul makes the point crystal clear. He says the "Gospel" is the "power of God" for the salvation of everyone who believes it! Note that last point. It is so crucial. The saving power of the Gospel can only be experienced by those who "believe it!" Do you believe? Do you want to believe?
This "Good News" ... Exactly What is It?
When the Apostle Paul wrote Christians in the ancient city of Corinth, he clearly and concisely identified the essential facts of the Gospel message. Here's the "good news" in short form as revealed in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5... "I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you bold firmly to the word I preached to you... For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:"
Here are the essential facts of the Gospel:
Christ was buried...
Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...
Christ appeared to many after His resurrection...
Do you see "good news" in those statements? Anything that would solve the human sin-problem and bring sinners back into fellowship with God? Look at and ponder Paul's first "Gospel affirmation" in this passage. He said: "Christ died for our sins." As sinners, we deserve the punishment of death. (Romans 6:23) "Every mouth is silenced and the whole world is held accountable to God." (Romans 3:19) We are guilty. Yet, Jesus, as God in flesh, came from heaven to earth on a rescue mission! He came to take upon Himself the penalty and punishment of our sins. Think about this. Jesus suffered and died for you--for your sins. This is the "good news" that becomes "God's power" to save everyone who is willing to believe it.Romans 3:22 - This RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM GOD comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
But--How Can Jesus' Death Benefit Me?
This is a fair and legitimate question. How can the death of a man who lived centuries ago benefit me... today? How can this be? Here is what the death of Jesus can mean in our lives if we are willing to believe:
1. His death makes it possible for us to be righteous before God! Remember the "bad news?" "There is no one righteous--not even one!" (Romans 3:10) Now hear the "good news." "God made Jesus, who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become... THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Do you see it? On our own, we are unrighteous before God and have no way of achieving right-standing with Him. Hopeless and helpless. Lost. But, because Jesus, who had no sin, was willing to "become sin for us" [He takes our sins upon Himself], we receive [we do not achieve] the righteousness of God as a gift that is totally undeserved and unmerited. Righteousness is experienced by God's giving rather than by our doing!
This gift from God--righteousness--is waiting for you, but you must receive it by faith. Many other New Testament passages refer to this wonderful gift which must be received and can never be achieved.
Romans 4:5 - To the man who does not work, but trusts God, HIS FAITH IS CREDITED AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Romans 5:19 - For just as through the disobedience of one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] THE MANY WILL BE MADE RIGHTEOUS.
Romans 9:30 - ...the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS BY FAITH....
Romans 10:3 - ...THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM GOD....
Philippians 3:9 - ...THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM GOD AND IS BY FAITH.
2. His death makes it possible for us to be restored to fellowship with God! Remember the bad news? "Your iniquities have separated you from your God." (Isaiah 59:2) In sin, we are separated from Christ without hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
Now, hear the "good news." "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13) Do you see it? Left to ourselves, we remain separated from God with no way to enter into His holy presence. Cut off! Separated! Out of fellowship with Him! But, because Jesus freely assumes our guilt and takes our punishment, the way is opened for us to enter into the presence of God. Peter says it so beautifully in 1 Peter 3:18, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." Once strangers, we can now be God's very own children. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God." (1 John 3:1)
3. His death makes it possible for us to be innocent before God! What? Innocent? How can we be innocent since we openly admit our guilt? Here's where the "good news" is so good. There is hope for sinners.
This idea that we can stand innocently before God is what the New Testament refers to as... JUSTIFICATION. The doctrine of "justification" means that through faith in Jesus and His saving work at the Cross, God is willing to treat me "just as if I'd never sinned!" As unbelievable as it may sound, God is willing to inflict the punishment of our sin upon the sinless Christ, and allow trusting and believing sinners to go free and unpunished. Centuries before Christ was put to death, the prophet Isaiah predicted that this redeeming event would occur. He wrote of the coming Savior, "But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us bas turned to his own way [remember the Big- "I" ]; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:5-6)
But, how can this be? We are guilty as sinners. He was sinless. We deserve to be punished. He does not deserve punishment.
This amazing blessing of acquittal for sinners occurs not on the basis of justice as humans understand it, but on the basis of divine grace. Grace is God giving us what we need, but not what we deserve. It is God's unmerited favor. We simply believe the "good news" that Jesus, as God, died for our sins. Out of love and appreciation for what God has done for us, we surrender our lives to Him. In response to our "faith response," God transfers our sins to Jesus. He assumes our guilt and endures our punishment. And, by the amazing grace of God, we are acquitted--declared "not guilty!" Let the Scriptures speak on this matter. In Romans 5:1, Paul writes, "Since we have been justified [treated 'just as if we had never sinned'] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." In 8:1, he declares, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Note the drawings which symbolize our heavenly records. [The "X's" represent our "sins."] Contrast the sinner's record with that of the sinless Christ. The heavenly records appear as you see on the right.
Yet, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus and believe the Gospel, something marvelous occurs. God transfers our sins to Jesus, and allows His suffering and death to count as our punishment. Jesus becomes our substitute sin-offering. He stood in our place and endured the penalty that we deserve! Remember Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "Jesus becomes sin for us so that in Him we may become the righteousness of God!" Thus, when penitent sinners believe in Jesus and surrender their wills to Him as Lord, the heavenly records are changed to appear as you see below.
Look at the status of your heavenly record after faith in Jesus and acceptance of the Gospel. Clean! Clear! Just as if you had never sinned! Justified! Not because you have earned or achieved anything, but because of the amazing and abundant grace of God.
Question! Since God so freely forgives, does this mean we can take liberties with His grace? Does God's unmerited favor and love give us the right to live carelessly and loosely since He forgives so freely? The Holy Spirit anticipated this question.
After declaring that we are saved by grace, Paul, in Romans 6:1, writes, "What shall see say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? BY NO MEANS! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" In fact, according to Scripture, the grace of God teaches us to "say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." (Titus 2:11-12)
In the next lesson of "The Seeker" series, we will study grace and the sinner's responce. "Grace" is the key word that describes the saving work of Christ for sinners. "Faith" is the key word that describes the sinner's response!
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