The Gospel and the Christian Life – Part 4

The Gospel and the Christian Life

Over the next several weeks we are going to follow the story line of Scripture from Creation to Jesus’ return in an effort to deepen our understanding of the Gospel and how Christians are to live after they have professed Christ as Lord and Savior. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Redemption and Reconciliation

The Continued Affect of Sin

After Adam and Eve left the garden, sin continued to affect them and their family. One of Adam and Eve’s sons — Cain — killed another son — Abel (Gen. 4). The corruption of sin didn’t stop with them, it only continued to grow until God decided to destroy the world with a flood and start over with Noah’s family (Gen. 6-9).

Even after God destroyed the world and started over with Noah, the corrupting power of sin still affected the people’s of the earth. They turned from God to themselves so much so that they attempted to make a name for themselves instead of making much of God (Gen. 11).

God’s Promise

Clearly, Adam and Eve’s sin had affected the entire world. God, however, had made them a promise. He was going to deal with sin and Satan. He would do that through the Christ, the Messiah. We know Him as Jesus.

Waiting on Jesus

Jesus, however, didn’t show up for several thousand years. As we wait on Jesus, a number of important characters carry the narrative forward.

God establishes the nation of Israel through Abraham (Abram). In Genesis 12, God came to Abraham and asked him to leave his home and go to another country. A country he knew nothing about, but one God would direct him towards. Abraham trusted God. He packed everything up and started walking in the way the Lord directed him.

God then established a covenant with Abraham promising him that from his offspring would come the Savior — Jesus (Gen. 12:7, Gal. 3:16).

After Abraham and his family, comes Moses. Moses led the people of Israel out of captivity in Egypt in an event known as the Exodus (Exodus 12). After which, God established Moses as the leader of Israel. While Moses was leading the nation, God gave Israel the Law (The Ten Commandments and everything else in Leviticus and Deuteronomy). It made a way for them to have a relationship with God, but wasn’t sufficient to keep the people from sin.

Another important character is David. He was the example King of the nation of Israel. The one to whom all other kings were compared. Under his reign and rule the nation thrived and worshipped God.

Israel, however, didn’t continue to thrive and worship God after David died. Through a series of evil kings, the nation fell deeper and deeper into sin until God decided to punish them. Both the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) were captured and exiled from the Promised Land.

Finally, after years in exile, they were able to return and rebuild Jerusalem. After rebuilding Jerusalem, they waited for the Messiah (the Savior sent by God). Clearly, He was needed. No matter how many leaders came, Israel couldn’t be curbed from sin. Something else needed to be done in order to cause them to worship God in the way He directed and to repair their relationship with God.

Jesus Finally Comes Bringing Salvation

So several thousand years after God’s promise to Adam and Eve, Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and died on a cross. When He died on the cross, He took our punishment for us, acting as our substitute. God’s wrath was poured out on Him instead of being poured out on us.

Jesus’ death was necessary because our sin is what hinders our relationship with God. God is holy and we are not. He cannot have a relationship with someone who is not holy, who is a sinner. Just like Adam and Eve’s relationship with God was ruined by sin, so is our relationship with God. The only way He can have a relationship with us is if someone takes our sin from us and makes us holy. Jesus is that person. He is the one who takes our sin from us, places it on Himself. While at the same time, He places His righteousness on us. When that occurs, our relationship with God is restored. Instead of seeing a sinner, God sees a holy and righteous person.

All those who believe Jesus is their Savior and Lord, confess that they are sinners and turn to follow Jesus will be saved. Their relationship with God is repaired by Jesus.

Reflect

  1. Did you realize Jesus was promised in the Old Testament?
  2. How does the Old Testament help you see the reason Jesus had to come?
  3. What is a substitute? Why is it important Jesus became our substitute?
  4. How can you become a believer?

Resources

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Some posts’ structure influenced by Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware

The Gospel and the Christian Life – Part 3

The Gospel and the Christian Life

Over the next several weeks we are going to follow the story line of Scripture from Creation to Jesus’ return in an effort to deepen our understanding of the Gospel and how Christians are to live after they have professed Christ as Lord and Savior. (Part 1, Part 2)

What Does Adam and Eve Have To Do With Me?

Sin not only affected Adam and Eve and the world in which they lived, but it also affects us. Romans 5:12-19 teaches us Adam is the representative of the human race. Since he is our representative, everyone born after him is born as a sinner.

Even though we are not Adam, our sin is no different than Adam’s. It is rebellion against God. A rejection of God’s rule over our lives. Our sin, just like Adam’s deserves punishment. In fact it deserves the same punishment — death. So we not only trace our sinful nature back to Adam, but we trace our judgment back to him as well.

What is the Punishment for Sin?

The punishment for sin involves more than physical death. It involves more than broken relationships with others. It involves more than bad things happening in the world. The punishment for sin involves separation from God. That separation occurs now and in the future after we pass on from this life.

Sin is a big deal because separation from God means separation from all that is good, beautiful, joyful and all other good things God gives. It means we will experience “the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and His might(2 Thess. 1:9-10). The punishment we experience will result in a miserable and painful existence for all eternity.

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus helps illustrate what eternal punishment will be like. In Luke 16:22-26 we read,

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’” (Lk 16:22–26)

Notice the Rich Man begs for relief, but no relief is given. He is left to experience the anguish of the flames. Anguish that will never cease because there is a great chasm between him and heaven.

You see, hell is an unquenchable fire (Matt. 25:41; Mark 9:43), a place where the worm doesn’t die (Mark 9:48), and its intense pain causes weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:42). Hell is not a fun place!

A Promise for the Future

Before Adam and Eve left the garden, God did something for them. He made a promise. In Genesis 3:14-15 we read,

“”The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”” (Ge 3:14-15)

God promised to send a Savior. A Savior that would crush the head of Satan. But this Savior would do more than defeat Satan. He would serve as our sacrifice. God indicates this with His actions in Genesis 3:21. There we learn,

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” (Ge 3:21)

So God made garments to cover Adam and Eve, to cover their shame and nakedness. One day another will come who will cover us. His name is Jesus. We learn more about Him, His redemption and reconciliation in the next section.

Reflect

  1. Why are we born with a sinful nature?
  2. What is the punishment for our sin?
  3. What will the punishment for sin be like?
  4. What is God’s promise?

Resources

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Some posts structure influenced by Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware

The Gospel and the Christian Life – Part 2

The Gospel and the Christian Life

Over the next several weeks we are going to follow the story line of Scripture from Creation to Jesus’ return in an effort to deepen our understanding of the Gospel and how Christians are to live after they have professed Christ as Lord and Savior. (Part 1)

The Fall/Sin

Adam and Eve continued to live in the perfect garden in a perfect relationship with God, each other, and creation until the day they rebelled against God. We read about their rebellion in Genesis 3.

God’s Command

When God placed Adam in the garden to work and keep it, He told him he could eat of every tree in the garden except one — the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He wasn’t supposed to eat the fruit from that tree. If he did, God told him he would die.

Satan’s Temptation

After some time, Satan appeared in the garden as a serpent. He approached Eve and asked a question about the fruit from the tree God had forbidden them to eat:

He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?’” (Gen. 3:1)

After Eve responds by telling him they aren’t supposed to eat from nor touch one tree in the garden, the serpent continues his deceptive tactics. He tells the woman,

You will not surely die.” Instead, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:2-5).

Do you see what the serpent is doing? The serpent is lying to Eve by telling her God doesn’t want her to be happy. That God is holding something back, and it is not just fruit, it is being like God. Eve buys Satan’s lie. She believes him and eats the fruit. And Adam does as well (Gen. 3:6).

When they did, something happened. Their eyes were opened and they felt naked and ashamed, vulnerable. So they sewed fig leaves and covered themselves up.

What do we learn about sin?

(1) Sin always tricks or deceives us into doubting things that are true and believing things that are false. 

The woman was tricked by Satan into believing a lie. Believing something that wasn’t true. She believed God lies to us and that He withholds something from us.

God, however, doesn’t lie to us, nor does He withhold from us. God does and always wants what is best for us. We see that in the rules He places on our life. They are there to help us live in the way He has designed us to live, not to hinder us or limit our freedom.

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they discovered Satan was lying because they didn’t become like God, instead they felt ashamed and realized they were naked. They were plunged head first into a world of sin and death.

We learn from Adam and Eve that we should’t believe the lie of sin. We should instead resist its temptation because we know it will not deliver on its promises.

When I was a kid, my mom placed limits on how far I could go from my house. I had to stay close enough to hear my mom when she came outside calling for me. I remember one time in particular, I went too far from the house. My mom called, but I didn’t hear her. When I finally came home, my mom asked where I had been. I knew I had gone too far from the house, but I didn’t want to tell her because I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I lied. I told her I was at a friend’s house. Somehow, she knew. She knew I lied to her. Instead of getting away with it, I got caught and was punished.

You see, sin held out the promise of freedom — freedom from the boundaries my mom set and freedom from the punishment that would come from breaking those rules, but it didn’t deliver. And that’s the thing about sin. It never delivers on its promises, but it deceives us into thinking it will.

(2) Sin involves us turning from God to live our own way.

When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, He told them not to eat of the fruit of the tree and He told them what would happen if they did. Adam and Eve, however, turned away from God to live according to their own understanding.

And that’s what sin does. It turns us away from God. It causes us to think we know what’s best when we really don’t.

God’s ways are always best for us, which is why it’s important we continue to learn about God’s ways through reading His Word, attending Bible Studies, and church services.

(3) Sin always results in harm, ruin, and death. 

Eating the fruit of the forbidden tree did exactly what God said it would do. It brought death. Eve’s relationship with creation, Adam, and God was broken after her first bite.

After eating the fruit and rebelling against God, Adam and Eve’s relationship with creation was ruined, so that now the animals of the field were dangerous to be around. As well as their work on the land would be hard and labor intensive.

Their relationship with God was ruined as well. While they once walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day, they were now at odds with God.

Their relationship with one another was ruined too. Getting along with one another was once easy. They didn’t fight, use or abuse one another. Now, their relationship was different. Arguments occurred, strained relationships, fights, and abuse occurred.

Not only did their sin affect their relationships, but it also brought death, disease, sickness and all things bad. So Adam and Eve’s rebellion, their sin, polluted God’s good creation. What was once perfect was made imperfect. Sin ruined the perfect world God created. It is the reason things are not as they seem they should be. So sin always results in death, harm and ruin. It never results in life or goodness.

Reflect

  1. Have you ever experienced a time when your sin — breaking God’s or others rules — didn’t deliver on its promises? How did you feel? What did you learn?
  2. How do you view God’s commandments? Do you see them as unnecessary rules or as a guide for your life?
  3. What does sin cause us to do to God?
  4. How would you explain to someone why people do bad things to others in the world?

Resources

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Some posts structure influenced by Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware