No Other God’s: God Deserves First Place in Our Lives
- The first commandment sums up the other nine, and when we break the first commandment it leads us to break the other nine.
- The first commandment is also connected with the last commandment in a way where if we can keep those two commandments all the others fall into place.
- First commandment: Have no other God’s before me.
- Tenth commandment: Do not covet.
- Both speak to a heart attitude where we are to desire God above all other things and that our satisfaction is supposed to be found in Him.
- Also, if we break the other commandments then we are also breaking the first commandment.
- Lesson Summary.
- What is the first commandment?
- Why is it important to understand that breaking the first commandment makes us break all of them and vice versa? (Because it shows us that all sin ultimately happens when we start to love something more than we love God).
- What are the similarities between the first and last commandments? (They both speak about heart attitudes).
- Why is it important to trace our behaviors back to heart attitudes? (It helps us get at the root of our sin, because all sin comes from within our heart).
God has demonstrated His love by redeeming us: (Deut. 5:1-6).
- Read Deuteronomy 5:1-6.
- The commandments are not rules handed down to us by an impersonal force they are given to us by a God who has redeemed and adopted His people, and as their savior he wants what is best for them.
- Deut. 5:2-3: Moses reminds the people that God made a covenant with them. He is not a distant deity, but He is a God who makes personal promises.
- Deut. 5:4-5: Next we see God’s grace in revealing Himself to His people. God revealed Himself to them and gave Moses as a mediator between Him and them.
- Deut. 5:6: God does not only make promises but He keeps them as well. He does all of this for the good of His people and for the glory of His name.
- How does our view of rules change when we separate them from the personal relationship with the one who gave them?
- What does Moses as the mediator of Israel point forward to? (Christ as the ultimate mediator).
- How should God redeeming us drive us to want to obey His commandments?
- Why is it important to believe that God wants the best for us?
God deserves to have first place in our lives: (Deut. 5:7).
- Read Deuteronomy 5:7.
- God is not only to be number One but the only One.
- Like a husband or wife who loves their mate demands to be the only spouse in that person’s life, so God demands loyalty from His children because of His love for us.
- If we put other things before God they are considered to be idols in our lives. An idol is anything we love more than God. Trust more than God, or obey more than God.
- So God must be the One we love supremely, trust entirely, and obey completely.
- And when we are given to idolatry and break the first commandment it leads us to break all the others.
- Take at least a few of the commandments and show how breaking the first law causes us to break those. (Refer to page 26 of the leader guide.)
- So the areas where we are breaking the commandments are like smoke. Follow the trail back of smoke back to the fire and you will arrive at the idols in your life. You will see what you are putting before God.
- So worshipping something or someone else besides God is what leads us to sin. So we must seek to put God first and to make Him the only God in our life.
- Do you think it is appropriate for God to demand first place in our lives? Why or why not? How does this show us that God loves us?
- Are there idols in your life that cause you to put your hope, trust, and happiness I them rather than God?
- Do we often spend time asking what the root of our sin is or do we just try to change our behavior?
- Why is it always important to get at the root of our sin?
A vision of the one true God breaks our attraction to lesser gods: (Deut. 5:22-31).
- Read Deuteronomy 5:22-31.
- This passage makes the connection between seeing God’s glory and the desire to get rid of idols.
- The people upon receiving the commandments, immediately wanted to obey because they witnessed the awesome power of God and they feared the Lord as a result.
- They witnessed His majesty, power, and holiness.
- Majesty: They God a glimpse of His bigness through the thunder, earthquakes, and lightning that surrounded the mountain. They saw a majestic and big God who commands the creation.
- Power: They got a glimpse of God’s power by the way He delivered them from Egypt. He delivered them from slavery, showed His power over the gods of Egypt, and in a moment He did for them what they could not do for generations.
- Holiness: In coming into the presence of God the Israelites were confronted with His immense perfection and righteousness. As a result they realized that they should be annihilated by God because of their sin yet in His grace He allowed them to come before Him.
- This led them to desire to obey God in His power and perfections.
- This is the same big God who in His grace sent His Son to earth to bear our punishment and save us.
- We must hold these two truths together that God is big, glorious, perfect, and holy, and that He humbled Himself in Christ to death on the cross in order to save us.
- This will allow us to stand in awe of God and will cause us to desire Him more than anything else.
- In fact the reason that Christians struggle with sin is because we have a severely diminished view of God.
- So in order to break the pattern of idolatry and sin in our lives we must behold the greatness of God and the grace of God given to us in Christ. This leads us to love God and obey Him.
- Why did the Israelites want to obey as soon as they received the commandments?
- How does the glory of God and the grace of God lead us to a desire for obedience?
- So why do we often struggle with obedience as Christians? (Because we have a diminished view of God).
- How should our view of God be transformed by Christ’s work on the cross?
- How can we show the world the glory and power of God and the love of God in our lives?
- As a short wrap-up the last paragraph of the conclusion is a good way to emphasis the missional aspect of this lesson and to get us to think more about how we can show God’s glory and His love to others.
Atonement-Driven Life: Life in Light of Christ’s Sacrifice
Sunday, May 18, 2014
- The circus illustration can be useful to illustrate how our theology should affect the way we live our lives, and particularly how the atonement should affect eh way we live.
- Q. can you think of a situation where the grace that God has given you has affected the way you have treated someone else?
- Q. Can you think of ways that you act differently based on what you believe to be true of God?
- Lesson Summary.
Draw near to God with confidence: (Heb. 10:19-22).
- Many people only view God as a powerful being who is aloof and detached. When we only see God in light of His power and perfection we become like Adam and eve trying to hide ourselves from His presence.
- When Adam and eve sinned God did not give up on them. Their sin would not have the final word. Salvation would reverse the fear caused by sin and would lead t restoration with God.
- Read Hebrews 10:19-22.
- The author of Hebrews opens this passage with the word “therefore.” This means that he is giving these truths in light of what he has previously said.
- The author pointed to the reality that all the Old Testament rituals were a mere shadow of what would be accomplished in Christ. That animal sacrifices pointed to our need for the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. Or how the High Priest who atoned for his sins and the sins of the people was an imperfect shadow of Christ being our perfect High Priest and mediator.
- Also, in previous lessons we talked about the mercy seat in the temple being the place where God’s presence rested and how it was in the holiest of holies and was separated by a thick curtain and only the high priest could go in.
- But this passage points out that we have the ability to approach God because of the blood of Jesus. The curtain has been torn in two and the ultimate sacrifice has been made so we can boldly approach God.
- Since Jesus is our high Priest and has opened the way for us to God we are reminded that He is a God who is full of love and mercy and grants the forgiveness of sins to His people. So now we have the confidence to enter God’s presence by faith in the finished work of Christ.
- Why must we view God as loving and merciful and not just as powerful and perfect?
- Does it give you confidence in God’s work in your life knowing He did not give up on Adam and Eve? Why or why not?
- How does the image of the curtain being torn in two help us to understand what Jesus did for us?
- What does it mean for us as believers to boldly approach God? How do you do this in your daily life?
Hold unwaveringly to God’s promises: (Heb. 10:23).
- Read Hebrews 10:23.
- Christian hope is in the expectation that God will make good on His promises, that they have been fulfilled in Christ, and one day will be experienced by all people.
- The author of Hebrews 10 earlier quotes Jeremiah 31:33-34 in which God says he will write his laws on our hearts and will remember our sins no more.
- These promises signify God’s desire to have a close relationship with us. A relationship that is based on His faithfulness and not ours.
- So we can hold fast to the promises of God by looking away from ourselves and turning to God knowing He will see us through all circumstances because he is always faithful to His people.
- Does it excite you to know that God will one day make good on all of His promises? Why or why not?
- Why is it good for us to know that our relationship with God is dependent upon His faithfulness and not on ours?
- What might you be facing today that could be helped by putting your full trust in the faithfulness of God?
- How does this knowledge help us in our witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Encourage one another in love and good deeds: (Heb. 10:24-25).
- Read Hebrews 10:24-25.
- Many people today feel like they do not need to go to church to be a faithful Christian, but Heb. 10:24-25 challenges this perspective by emphasizing the importance of being in community.
- One of the greatest accomplishments of the atonement is the formation of a new people called the church. Most scriptural metaphors used to describe the church are relational.
- The church is the bride of Christ joined to Jesus in a personal way.
- The church is the family of God made up of brothers and sisters in Christ.
- The church is the body of Christ united together by God.
- The church is called the temple of God which points out how the interlocking stones are like the people of God relying upon one another.
- The reality is that we cannot accomplish the work of God disconnected from the church as a whole and we cannot show concern for people that we can do without.
- This is why the author of Hebrews tells these Christians that regular attendance at worship should be a habit. This will promote love and good works.
- This is in line which what Jesus said about the church in Jn 13:34-35, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- So the church is a distinctive community of believers who are identified by their love for God and for each other. And this is a visible community that people should see on a daily basis.
- It becomes the vehicle through which the gospel is displayed as we wait for the day that Christ will return.
- What are some reasons that people give for not going to church today?
- What do the images of bride, family, body, and temple teach us about the importance of the church?
- Does thinking of the church as the visible representation of the gospel help us to better serve one another? Why or why not?
- Do you think that our community sees the gospel being made visible through our church? Why and how? How can we do a better job of visibly living out the gospel as a community of believers?
I think that the last paragraph of the conclusion wraps up the lesson well. I might end with that paragraph and if you still have a couple minutes use it to think about how we are doing at living out the gospel as a faith community. This might be a helpful for exercise even to apply just to your small group.
The Bread of Life: Christ is the Bread from Heaven who gives Life to the World
- I don’t think you need to use the opening illustration. However, I think that the question about stories in the Bible dealing with food could be a good place to start.
- Q. What are some stories in the Bible that deal with food? (Jesus feeding the 5,000; Manna from heaven; Esau selling his birthright for food).
- Q. Is food important for our lives? Why? Can it become an idol? How?
- Q. How can our need for food point us to our need for God?
- Lesson Summary.
The Bread from heaven gives life to the world: (John 6:25-34).
- Read John 6:25-34.
- Jesus just finished feeding 5,000 people and is urging the people to look for bread that comes from heaven, not the bread of earth that spoils.
- Jesus told the crowd that the only reason they were following Him was because of their appetites and what He had done for them.
- Also, just like Israel not being satisfied with manna in the desert, these people were not satisfied with a one-time meal of “bread from heaven.” (V. 30-34).
- We are often the same. God gives us what we need to be sustained, but in the end we are not satisfied.
- For Israel the point of the manna was not to satisfy, but to sustain them until they made it to the promise land that would satisfy them. For these people in Jesus’ day the point of this meal he gave them was to point them to their need for Jesus who is the eternal Bread from Heaven.
- In this way we too need to realize that all that God has given us is to sustain us, not satisfy us, and to show us our need for Jesus as the eternal Bread from Heaven.
- What are something’s that people try and get from God?
- Why must we follow God more for who He is instead of what He does for us?
- Can you think of a time where God was sustaining you, but you were not satisfied with your circumstances?
- Why is it good that God does not completely satisfy us on earth?
Jesus is the Bread of life from heaven: (John 6:35-51).
- Read John 6:35-51.
- Jesus was letting these people know that He is the imperishable Bread they needed for life, and whoever comes and believes in Him will never be hungry again.
- However, these verses do not imply that you believe in Jesus once and then the rest of your life can be spent eating other food.
- The word “Believe” in verse 35 implies an ongoing action. So we need to keep on believing.
- Because we need life we go to Jesus as the true manna, and we keep believing in Him and following Him knowing that He is the Bread of Life.
- Read John 6:35-51.
- Jesus points out that no one can come to the Father unless He draws them. This is a reminder that it is God who takes the first steps in initiating salvation, and as people we are commanded to respond and repent.
- This shows us our need for God’s grace, and left to ourselves we cannot get to God on our own.
- Our problem is like that of the Israelites. Even when God frees us from the slavery and chains of sin we at times can wish we were back in those chains.
- But the good news is that the Father draws us toward Christ as the Bread of life. He calls us to partake of the Body and the blood of Christ that was shed for the world. In this way he calls us to believe.
- Why is it important for us to know that Jesus is the imperishable bread that will satisfy us for good?
- Jesus said in verse 35, “whoever believes in me will never be hungry again.” Is this belief a one-time action or something that is continual? Why is it important that belief is continual?
- Why must we remember that it is the Father who ultimately initiates salvation? (So that we don’t think that our salvation is something that we earned. Instead it is freely given.)
- If God initiates salvation is it still important for us to respond and repent? Why or why not?
- Why do we often run back to our old sinful ways that God has freed us from?
- How does the good news that God called us and Christ shed His blood for us help us to break the desires to run back to old sinful ways?
Eternal life is found only in the sacrifice of Jesus: (John 6:52-58).
- Read John 6:52-58.
- Jesus uses the images of His body and blood to get across our need for salvation in Him.
- And when people reject Christ’s blood they reject the very transfusion that would give them life.
- This is one of Jesus’ hardest and most powerful sayings.
- And as we unit ourselves with Him in death we will also be united with Him in His resurrection. In doing this we show the world what he is like.
- In the end we live by faith in Jesus, we serve by faith in Jesus, and we go on mission by faith in Jesus. We are all beggars telling other beggars about the bread that will satisfy them forever.
- What is Jesus pointing forward to when He tells the people that they need to eat His flesh? (Communion).
- Does it help you to view what Jesus did as a transfusion? Why or why not?
- Do you see yourself as a needy beggar the same way these people were needy?
- Verse 57: Jesus makes it clear that the Father is sending him, and in the same way Jesus has sent us. How should we respond when we realize that we are salvation and sending is completely of God and not of us?
If you have time, read the conclusion or at least paraphrase it so that the points are tied together well and your people have an understanding of how Jesus as the Bread of life propels us forward in the work of the kingdom.
Behold the Lamb: Jesus’ Identity and Role as the Lamb of God
Sunday, May 4, 2014
- We have seen in previous sessions how the prophets foretold of the coming Messiah who would atone for human sin.
- We have also seen how throughout the Bible the lamb serves as a picture of innocence and sacrifice.
- Through the law, a sacrifice was necessary to bring about the forgiveness of sin.
- As we come to the New Testament the biblical writers reveal the Messiah as Jesus Christ, and as the one who is the ultimate Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world.
- Read Lesson Summary.
Questions: (As always make sure to intersperse your questions throughout the introduction.)
- Why is the lamb such an important animal in the Old Testament?
- Why is it important to see Jesus as the Lamb of God?
- In what ways is Jesus Like a lamb?
- How does the image of Jesus as an innocent lamb help us to be more in awe of what He has done for us on the cross?
Jesus is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world: (John 1:29).
- Just as the Old Testament prophets foretold of the coming of the Messiah so did John the Baptist.
- He taught people to turn away from their sin and prepare for the coming Messiah.
- Read John 1:29.
- John’s use of the “Lamb of God” title reminds us and would remind those who heard Him about the “Day of Atonement.”
- The Day of Atonement involved two goats that displayed two different aspects of what must take place for sins to be forgiven.
The Sacrifice: Propitiation:
- The first goat was sacrificed and the blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the holy of holies.
- This goat signifies that although sin deserves death, God approved a substitute to take the place of the people and bear His wrath.
- This is called propitiation.
The Scapegoat: Expiation:
- The second goat is often called “the scapegoat.”
- The high priest would lay his hands on the goat to signify that the sins of the people had been passed on to the goat.
- This goat was then taken out of the city and released into the wilderness. This signified that God had removed the sins of the people.
- This is called expiation.
- This was an annual reminder that sin was real, that sin separates us from God, and He must punish sin. But it also reminds us that in His love and mercy God provided a substitute to be offered in the place of sinners.
- Read Psalm 103:12.
- This does not mean that God forgets our sin, but it does mean that He removes our guilt and does not hold our sin against us.
- The New Testament then shows us how these sacrificial rituals come to a climax with the coming of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
- In one act of sacrifice, the perfect Son of God died on the cross in the place of sinful humanity, absorbing the punishment that we deserved (propitiation) and removing the burden of guilt associated with our sins (expiation.)
- Why is it important to know that the message of the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist are the same?
- Why are propitiation and expiation both important? (Be sure that you define the words well before asking this question.)
- Why must we never say that God forgets our sin? (This would imply a freedom from any and all consequences which is not true.)
- Why is it good for us to remember that God has removed our guilt?
Jesus is the Lamb who baptizes with the Holy Spirit: (John 1:30-34).
- After John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world he indicated that Jesus was divine and that he would baptize people with the Holy Spirit.
- Read John 1:30-34.
Jesus is Divine:
- Even though John was biologically older than Jesus he knew he was not equal with Jesus, and he claimed Jesus existed for he did.
- This is one of the earliest testimonies to the divinity of Jesus.
- John the Baptist based his whole ministry and life on this truth and it caused him to humbly acknowledge that Jesus was the eternal Son of God.
- This same humility should be true of us as we see ourselves in light of who Jesus is.
- Then the descending of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus at His baptism confirmed what John already believed to be true that, that Jesus was the Anointed on of God.
Jesus Baptizes with the Holy Spirit:
- The law served as guardrails for God’s people and John’s baptism prepared them for the Messiah, but these things could not change their hearts.
- Jesus was the only one who could change hearts. He fulfilled what God prophesied through Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-34 when He promised a New Covenant with His people based on the forgiveness of sins and His law being written on their hearts.
- Or the promise God gave through Ezekiel in Ezekiel 36:25-28 that He would remove dead hearts and replace them with new hearts and that He would dwell in His people through the Holy Spirit.
- When we enter a relationship with God through Jesus we receive the promised Holy Spirit. In this way he baptizes us with the Holy Spirit as John said He would.
- As Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to fulfill His mission we are also anointed by the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work that God has called us to do, and through His Spirit God empowers us to accomplish His mission.
- Why is this early proclamation of Jesus’ divinity important?
- How does John the Baptists response to Jesus inform how we should respond to Him today?
- Why is it important to remember that the Law could not save us? Are there times in our lives when we try to live as if the Law can save us? Why or why not?
- Why is it significant to remember that Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit in a permanent way?
- How does this give you confidence to accomplish the work He has given you?
Jesus is the Lamb who calls people to a life of discipleship: (John 1:35-42).
- Read John 1:35-42.
- Upon hearing John’s declaration of Jesus as Messiah, two of John’s disciple’s began to follow Jesus.
- Jesus invited them to come stay the day with Him, and in doing so He invited into a relationship with Himself. Through this it became clear to them that He was the Messiah.
- After only one day with Jesus Andrew began to live on mission and he went and found his brother Peter to share the good news of the Messiah with him. This of course would change Peter’s life and the course of history.
- Like Andrew when we understand and believe that Jesus is the Messiah we are sent out to be on mission for Christ. There is no option to choose an alternative to the missionary mandate given by Jesus.
- After Peter’s encounter with Jesus, his name was changed to Simon which means “rock.”
- But Peter didn’t always seem like a rock. He denied Jesus three times and he spent the days following the crucifixion in fear. Yet God still transformed Peter and used him to proclaim the gospel and launch the explosion of the first church in Jerusalem.
- This example gives us hope. According to the scriptures we were all lost, under God’s wrath and we were going our own way. Yet Christ came as the lamb who takes away the sin of the world and changed our identities.
- We went from being lost to found, from rebels to friends, from living for ourselves to living for God’s purposes.
- So now our own agendas are traded in for the kingdom agenda and missionary mandate of the Lamb of God.
- Is it convicting that after one day Andrew went to share Christ with his brother? Why or why not?
- Why must we remember that there is no alternative to being on mission for Christ?
- How does it help you to know that God used Peter despite His failures?
- How are you living out your role as a missionary today?
You don’t have to use the conclusion and you may not have time to, however, if you get through everything and have a minute or two left it would be good to read the conclusion as a way to wrap up the subject and bring all three points together.
Wounded for You: The Servant Suffered and Died that We Might Live in Righteousness
Sunday, April 27th, 2014
By Ryan Perry
Note: This format will look different form my other notes because I am teaching this week. So this is what my teaching notes look like.
Q. Can you think of a movie or movies where a people is suffering and enslaved, but an age old prophecy promises that one day there will be a chosen one who comes to set them free? (King Arthur, Chronicles of Narnia, The Matrix, Year One, Ender’s Game, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Terminator Movies, Star Wars, Etc…)
Q. Why do you think our culture is fascinated by these types of movies?
-Our culture resonates with this type of movie because we resonate with the message that says, “You feel oppressed and without hope, but a hero is coming to set you free.” Inside we also know that this is not just a story.
-In fact the whole of the Old Testament is pointing directly at this hero and savior that would come to set oppressed people free.
-Today we are going to look specifically at the prophecy of Isaiah in Isaiah 53. This is one of the prophecies that Christians turn to time and time again as one of the most direct foreshadowing’s of Jesus Christ in all of scripture. Through this prophecy we will see how is was foretold that Jesus would be rejected and suffer the consequences of our sin, that he accomplishes the victory of salvation through His suffering, and how Jesus is the basis for our service.
The Servant will be rejected as He suffers the consequences of or sin: (Isa. 52:13-53:9).
Read: Isaiah 52:13-53:9 (Multiple readers).
Q. As we look in this passage what are something’s that we learn about what the servant that the prophet is talking about?
-Now the Israelites would have thought on some level that they were the servant He was referring to because they were His chosen people.
Q. Reread verses 4-5. Can you tell me why the prophet couldn’t be referring to Israel?
Q. Now think back to the movies we talked about at the beginning. How do movies often depict a savior or hero? Powerful or weak? Why?
Q. According to verses 4-5 does it seem like our savior is powerful or weak?
-But the New Testament gives us a glimpse of why Jesus our savior endured all of these hardship’s and chose weakness over strength. Read: 1 Peter 2:22-24.
Q. According to verse 24 why did Jesus endure the hardships?
-Jesus died and bore the consequences of or sin so that we did not have to. As a result we who have believed in Him are dead to sin and alive to righteousness. By His wounds we are healed.
Q. How do these verses give you the confidence to live out your Christian life?
Q. Knowing that Isaiah was pointing forward to Jesus’ suffering, how does this give you greater confidence in God’s Word?
-Now we will take a deeper look at what Jesus accomplished for us through His suffering.
The Servant accomplished the victory of the salvation through His suffering: (Isa. 53:10-12).
Read: Isa. 53:10-12.
-As we look at verse 10 we see two important ideas being communicated here. One that it was the Lord’s will to crush Him, and that He was made a restitution offering.
Q. Does it seem strange that the Lord would be pleased to crush Jesus severely? Why?
Q. What does this teach us about God? (That His desire is to have mercy upon us. That is why it pleased Him to crush Christ).
-It also says that He is made to be a restitution offering. A restitution offering is an offering for guilt. So Jesus was offered for guilt.
Q. Whose guilt is Jesus offered for? Ours or His own?
Q. What does this teach us about God’s justice? (Even though God desire’s mercy he also has to rightly administer the justice that is due for our sin. It is part of who God is.)
-So for God to fully display who He is He must display both His justice and mercy. The only way that God can do this is through the cross. It is the only way that He can pour His justice upon our sin while at the same time showing us mercy and forgiving us of our sin. It perfectly had to happen this way.
Q. Do you have more confidence in the cross knowing that it was the only way God could both judge sin yet show us mercy? Why or why not?
Q. knowing that justice and mercy are both apart of God’s character, how can we as Christians make both of those known unbelievers and the world around us?
The Servant’s suffering is the basis for our service: (1 Pt. 2:21-25).
Read: 1 Peter 2:21-25.
-What should the suffering of Jesus produce within us? Peter gives us two main applications within this passage: 1. Join Jesus in His suffering, and 2. Die to sin and live to righteousness.
Join Jesus in His Suffering:
Verse 21 says that because Jesus suffered we are to follow Him in His suffering.
Q. Does it seem strange that Peter calls us to follow Jesus in His sufferings when He is the one who suffered in our place? Why or why not?
-Jesus came to suffer for our sin so that we don’t have to, but that does not mean we will escape physical suffering in this life when we follow Christ. In fact Jesus says that we must suffer when we follow him.
Read: Matt. 16:24
Q. What does it mean to pick-up our cross and follow Him?
Q. Is suffering for Christ supposed to be something that we grit our teeth and bear, or is it supposed to be something we do with joy?
Read: James 1:2-3.
-The trails and sufferings that we face in this life are hard but they are meant to produce joy knowing that we are partaking in the work that God has given us and that as we join Him in His death we will also join Him in His resurrection (Rom. 6:5).
Q. What does it look like for us to suffer today as Christians?
Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness:
Q. If Jesus died for our sins then why does Peter have to remind us that we died to sin? (V. 24)
-Too often we know that Jesus set us free yet we feel paralyzed by the guilt and sin that remain in our life. There is ongoing sin that paralyzes us and keeps us from being effective in His kingdom.
Q. How can ongoing guilt and sin keep us from doing things that God maybe calling us to do?
Q. How do we get ourselves out of a cycle of sin, guilt, and shame?
-We need to remember the words of Peter when he says in V. 24 “You have been healed by His wounds.” This means that you are no longer condemned for your sins. God looks at you as washed clean of sin. He sees you as sinless in His eyes because of the finished work of Christ. When we grab hold of this idea we are able to live free in Christ because we fully realize that the weight of all the bad stuff that we have ever done is no longer upon us. We are free to live as Christ’s messengers of good news.
Note: Before the conclusion recap the main three points.
Q. How is God calling you to be a platform for the gospel right where you are today?
Q. Even though we are set free from sin it does not give us the freedom to sin. Why is it important that our lives represent the Jesus that we serve?
1 Peter 1:6-7
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I must confess that I do not like going through trials at all. In fact I would say that many times I am adverse to pain of any sort. Often my inward desire is for a life that is rather routine, with a family without strive, and a white picket fence in a neighborhood where everyone gets along and has a continual smile on their face.
Unfortunately this is not the picture that the New Testament paints for Christians. In fact it often stands in opposite contrast to these types of ideals that I have for my life. But according to 1 Peter 1:6-7 God has a plan for our struggles and our trials. He desires to use the hardships in our lives to prove that our faith is genuine.
I will admit that it is not often hard to believe in God because things in my life are rather easy. It’s not until we really experience pain and sorrow that we are confronted with whether or not our faith is genuine. On the other hand the lack of trials in our lives can also make us complacent. Part of our faith being genuine is that we cling to God as our only hope and life. For most of us, we are not faced with a situation that is requiring us to cling to God as our only hope. But these times do come for us, and when they do they are a reminder of our frailty and the reality that we are but dust that will come to nothing apart from a powerful work of God on our behalf.
God desires to use our suffering and our trials to bring Him glory and to draw us near to Him as our only source of life. And if we do that, Peter makes it clear that our genuine faith will result in praise and glory and honor when Christ returns. This should give us confidence to face trials knowing that there is a purpose, and that purpose is to prepare us for the joyous worship of our creator in eternity. This is why James says in James 1:2-4:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
He knows that trials are meant to make us steadfast people who cling to Christ, and when we cling to Him He makes us people who or complete because we find our fulfillment and life in Christ and Christ alone. This should be a source of joy for us as we wait for the time when Christ will return and we have the privilege of worshipping Him in eternity.
So the reminder for me and for you is that we need to suffer. We need to remember that our suffering is a joyous thing that God uses to make us more like Him until the day that Christ returns. Now does that mean it will always be fun? No. But it does mean that we can trust that God has a purpose for it, that He will use it for our good, and that it will prepare us for a perfect, everlasting, and joy-filled eternity with Him.
1 Peter 1:8-9
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Have you ever realized just how much of a visual culture we live in today? We are a culture with thousands of movies coming out every year. We have five hundred channels at our finger tips everyday and we have the internet which is streaming movies and YouTube videos at an unprecedented rate. All of this points to the reality that we are people that want to see something with our eyes. It often does not mean as much if we can read it, but if we can see it, then we will give our full attention to it.
This trend along with many others, including the reality that we have massive amounts of information available at the click of a button have made us into what I call a Seeing-is-Believing culture. To give you an example of what this looks like, I think back to a story of one of our church members who had a conversation with a woman on a plan who said that she does not believe anything she reads in a book unless she can see it right in front of her. Now this may seem a little extreme when compared with where most people might fall in this culture, but it is becoming a greater trend than I think most of us realize.
This is a very important trend when it comes to Christianity. It is important because according to Christianity it is not about seeing it is about believing. In the above passage Peter writes it this way:
Though you have not seen him, you love Him. Though you do not now see him, you believe him…
This type of belief is one that is not dependent upon our seeing, but is dependent on our belief. This is why many Christians say, “believing is not seeing, seeing is believing.” Though this is a very cliché statement hat has been overused and is wrought with some weaknesses, it is a reminder that Christianity is counter-cultural or to say it another way, it goes the opposite direction of the culture. Also, there is still agood amount to be gleaned from it, especially as it relates to what Peter said in the above passage. Also,
First, our love of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, though it is based on the truthfulness of God’s Word, is still dependent upon our faith in a God we cannot see, and this is good. Again, our faith is reasonable, and there are so many ways in which the Word of God proves that Jesus is both God and Lord, but God in his infinite wisdom has only given us what we need to be able to believe and follow him in this life. He has not revealed all of himself to us and he will not until the day he returns. This is good because it is a reminder that we serve an infinite God who is bigger than us. It is a reminder that he is unfathomable and unable to be fully comprehended by small beings such as ourselves, and I believe that if he was, we would not follow him as God. For God to be God he must be bigger than us and he must be beyond us.
Two, our belief in this big God is not only confirmed by his Word, but by the inexpressible joy that Peter talks about in 1 Peter 1:8. I don’t know about you, but I have tried to find happiness in many things in this life. Women, money, friends, drinking, etc… I have tried it all. And yet all of these things left me more empty and depressed then when I started. The only thing that has brought real joy to my life, and has never faded, has been the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reality that I am a lost sinner in need of salvation and in my desperate need God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross and pay the penalty for my sins. The truth that Jesus was in the tomb for three days and then was wonderfully resurrected to prove that he conquered death on my behalf so I could spend forever with him. These things produce, by the power of his Holy Spirit, a joy that I have tried to find else where but does not exist. So this joy becomes a great and glorious confirmation of the life changing faith that God has given me and it becomes great confirmation that God is there.
Finally because of this faith, there is a love for God that far surpasses any earthly love that exists. Sure I love my wife and kids but I definitely love God more. He is the author and perfector of my faith (Heb. 12:2), and he is the one who went to the cross on my behalf. As a result my heart is full of a love that cannot be fully expressed in words as I ponder the magnitude of what God has done for me.
All of his is the result of believing in a God we cannot see. We see the smallness of our own lives in comparison with the bigness of our God. We are filled with a joy that is so constant and inexpressible that it is impossible to attribute it to anything else but God. And we are filled with a love for God that goes beyond any earthly love. This truly brings home the reality that believing is seeing, and once we put our faith in God through Jesus Christ, we are ushered into a fullness of life that is greater than anything this world has to offer. And Peter makes it clear that we are “obtaining the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls.”
So this Good Friday and Easter weekend, don’t feel like you need to defend your faith with every apologetic argument out there (Though these things can be very helpful and useful at times). But remember that the greatest apologetic and confirmation of God that you have is the life change that God has produced within you. The understanding of your smallness, sin, and weakness, and the joy and love that God has put within the depths of your soul. Let these things speak for themselves as you stand firm on his Word and continue to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world who needs it.