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The Mark Study
Welcome to the beginning of the Mark Study. This is a simple Bible study centered on the book of Mark (hence the name). The study is focused on the most important human in history: Jesus Christ. Gradually we will cover three main parts of the study, which are arranged logically as follows:
Part 1: Jesus Can Help!
Yeah, but some people think he doesn't want to help... so...
Part 2: Jesus Can Care!
But... what eternal good is all of that if he can't save?
Part 3: Jesus Can Save!
As we go through the study bit by bit, page by page, you will join in the study by looking up and reading the Bible Scriptures in the study. I will be asking some questions to both of us... These questions are for you to answer rhetorically and according to the information given in the text. Please do think through these questions and answer them to yourself as you go through the study. Ready? Let's go...
PART 1: Jesus Can Help
Open your Bible with me to the book of Mark, chapter 1, verse 1 (Mark 1:1). Go ahead and read that verse.
What does the word "gospel" mean?
The word "gospel" means "good news." So when Mark says this is the "gospel" of Jesus Christ, he means this is good news about him! It means this will help you, this will make your life better!
In the past, have you felt like religion is this way, or that it is bad news, or that it is just plain boring, or what?
Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? (Just for you to think about... a simple answer is fine, it's okay if you don't know or say no. We'll talk more about this later).
That's it for this first page, nice and short! If you've read and answered the questions above, we'll move on in our study and see more about how Jesus Can Help!
Having now read Mark 1:1 about this being the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news about him, let's now turn ahead to Mark 4:35. Read Mark 4:35-38.
What time of day is it?
What are Jesus and his disciples traveling across?
What starts to happen?
What kind of storm does the Bible say it is?
What do you think it would have been like?
What did the disciples do?
What do you think you would have done?
Have you ever been as scared as they must have been?
Imagine how tired Jesus was... So tired he could sleep in a sinking boat! What about me? I sometimes complain if I get just a little bit tired. Not Jesus!
What did the disciples say to Jesus?
Now read verses 39-41.
What did Jesus say in verse 39?
Who listened? Or more specifically, what listened?
What are the disciples like now? How would you be feeling?
Is there any "good news" there? If Jesus could calm that kind of storm back then, do you think there are storms in your life that he could calm today?
There are some things like this that no man can help. Meteorologists can't help it, doctors can't help it, I can't help it. But... I know Jesus can! When no one else can - Jesus can help!
In our last study, we read in Mark 4:35-41 about Jesus calming the storm at sea. Now let's pick up where we left off. Read Mark 5:1-5.
Based on what we read last time, what time of day do you think it is now?
Keep in mind that though they referred to it as a "sea," the Sea of Galilee (also called Lake Genneserat or Lake Tiberias) was really just an inland lake of large size (a round lake about 14 miles by 8 miles). Still, as we read, its waves got quite large in heavy storms, especially for the little wooden boats they used on it.
Where do they land the boat?
A cemetery isn't the kind of place you typically want to be at night! The disciples are probably soaked and tired, and you can imagine they probably want to dry out, build a fire and get some rest. But then they meet this guy in the cemetery...
How is this man described?
Read verses 6-20.
What does Jesus say?
The demons had no choice!
In verse 15, how is the man now?
I don't believe that people today can be possessed by demons like this man was (the Bible indicates that God allowed it to happen at that time so that Jesus could demonstrate his authority over them). But if Jesus could cast out those demons then...
Can he conquer the influences the devil has in our lives today?
This guy was miserable before Jesus helped him! Is anybody today miserable like that?
What do they need to hear? Jesus can help! That's good news!
Let's pick up where we left off last time. Read Mark 5:21-24.
Who is gathering around Jesus?
We're going to meet two people in this passage. The first is Jairus.
What is it that Jairus requests of Jesus?
What is the crowd doing?
Imagine how Jairus feels! He wants to hurry so Jesus can get to his daughter before she dies, but this crowd is also pushing in and slowing things down.
Read verses 25-34.
This second person we meet in this passage is a lady in the crowd.
What do we know about her?
What had happened to her condition and to her finances when she sought help from the doctors?
Where does the lady touch Jesus?
Keep in mind that the "hem" of his garment is the part down closest to the ground. This shows how desperate she is to get to him, that she is on the ground crawling to touch him.
What happens when she touches Jesus? What is his reaction?
The Bible indicates that miracles happened back then through the power of God in Jesus and his apostles and prophets. Now that Jesus and the apostles aren't on the earth in modern times, miracles like this don't take place, but if Jesus could conquer this woman's disease...
Can He conquer our souls' diseases today?
Do you know anyone who is desperate? Maybe they have tried everything -- doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers, drugs, alcohol?
Good news is that when no one else can help - Jesus can help!
Let's not forget Jairus! Remember him, the guy whose daughter is about to die? He is still in the crowd, waiting for Jesus to get to his house! Imagine how he feels: His daughter is about to die... He probably wishes Jesus wouldn't stop and talk to this sick old lady he just healed!
Read verse 35.
What news do they hear?
Imagine what Jairus is thinking... "Why didn't we walk faster?" "Why did we have to talk to that old lady?" "My daughter is dead!"
Read verse 36.
What does Jesus say?
Read verses 37-43.
Jesus says the girl is "sleeping." The people laugh and make fun of him.
Have you been laughed at and made fun of like this?
Jesus tells the girl to "get up" or "arise."
How long does it take for her to recover from her illness and death?
This is an important part of miracles in the New Testament. It did not take days or months for the miracle to run its course. This little girl was made healthy immediately!
Is there any good news there? Do you know people who are dead -- dead in sin? Are any of your friends worried about dying physically? All of our exercises and diets can't stop death. But Jesus can! Jesus can help!
Let's now jump ahead toward the end of the book of Mark. We are going to look ahead, past Jesus' death by crucifixion and his burial in a sealed tomb. It is now two days after Jesus has been buried, and some women are coming to the tomb to see if they can be let into the tomb in order to honor their dead friend Jesus by anointing his body with some spices. Read Mark 16:1-6.
Were the women expecting Jesus' body to be in the tomb?
Was Jesus' body still in the tomb?
What does the person they meet (an angel) tell them?
Jesus raised from the dead (resurrected)!!! Why is this such an important event? Because if he really rose from the dead, then he demonstrated that he has power over the one thing that is inevitable for all humanity. If you are a human and nothing more, it is inevitable that you will die. Nobody can deny that. Jesus was dead, and on the third day afterwards, he was alive again. Instances where a person's heart stops beating for a minute or two, and then starts beating again, do not even compare to this. Jesus' body was dead, as dead as one can get, dead cold. How can we explain that his tomb was empty on the third day? Let's look at some evidences:
WHAT IS KNOWN:
Most all historians and scholars, whether believers or non-believers, agree on the following three points:
SO WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BODY?
1. Jesus' disciples stole the body?
2. The Jews stole Jesus' body?
3. Jesus never died, he just passed out and then revived later inside the tomb?
4. Grave robbers stole Jesus' body?
5. The women went to the wrong tomb?
If the disciples couldn't (and wouldn't) take the body, and the Jews would have had no reason to, and Jesus was definitely dead, and nobody else stole the body, and the women were at the right grave... Then what in the world happened?
JESUS IS ALIVE!
Note that there are still more evidences for the resurrection not even touched upon in this brief summary. You can read more indepth about these elsewhere on knowtruth, but the evidence we've just looked at is simple enough.
Do you believe that Jesus raised from the dead?
So many people are scared to death of dying. After we die, we will have no control over what happens to our souls. But we have some control now! We have the control of choice... We can choose to reject God and His offer of eternal life in Jesus Christ, or we can choose to accept God at His word and faithfully obey Him. And after we die, when nobody else can help... Jesus can help!
Having looked at the resurrection of Jesus, we have seen his power. We have seen that he has power over storms, demons, diseases, and deaths (both those of other people, and ultimately, his own). We have seen Jesus' power. Now let's take a look at his authority.
What did the storm, the demons, and the dead little girl do? They all listened to Jesus.
If you and I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, what should we do?
Flip back in the book of Mark to Mark 9:7. This verse is the end of a story (Mark 9:2-8 if you want to read it), in which Jesus takes three of his disciples with him to a mountain, and there they witness in amazement as Jesus is "transfigured," which basically means his appearance is supernaturally changed. A light emanates from him and his clothes, and he becomes very bright, and the disciples observe that Moses and Elijah appear standing with Jesus. Moses represents the old Law under which the Jews had lived for centuries (Old Covenant), and Elijah represents the prophets of God who preached to those under that Law to guide them spiritually (Old Covenant). Now read Mark 9:7.
What does the voice of God say?
The simple message is that the Old Covenant of that time was soon to end, and a New Covenant (which is what we live under today) was coming. In this New Covenant which has come, we are simply told of Jesus, "Listen to Him!"
This is an important question that needs to be answered before we can go on...
Are you willing to listen to Jesus?
In the last study, we looked at one simple passage in which the voice of God said of Jesus, "Listen to him!" Now that we are willing and ready to listen, let's first address an important question: "Why should I listen to Jesus?" For the answer to this question, we will leave the book of Mark that we have been using in the whole study so far and flip ahead to the very next book, the book of Luke. Read Luke 6:46-49.
Here, Jesus compares the storms in our lives to a physical storm that strikes in a place where a man builds a house. When the storms come, what will happen to your "house" (your life or your soul) if you have listened to Jesus and acted on his words?
What does Jesus say will happen if the storm comes and you haven't listened to him and acted on his words?
You can't stop the storms in your life... but you can listen to Jesus and put his words into practice! Now turn ahead to the next book in the Bible, the book of John. Read John 12:48.
What does Jesus say will judge us in the "last day"?
There are two things to be emphasized here:
Here, Jesus makes it clear that when it comes to our salvation or condemnation in "the last day," we will not be judged by our parents, our friends, or by any pastors or priests, etc. A lot of times when we hear something in the Bible that is different than what we believe, we say something like, "But my church teaches something else..." or "But my pastor says..." or even "But my heart says..." or "But me feelings say..." If you are willing to listen to Jesus, then nothing anyone else says (or even our own emotions) will matter! Nobody's words or teachings can keep you from listening to the true word of Jesus! And this is so important, because as you just read, it will only be the words of Jesus that will judge you for either salvation or condemnation! Nobody else's word!
So that's one big reason why we should listen to Jesus. Why else? Turn ahead to the next book, the book of Acts. Read Acts 3:23.
What does this say will happen to anyone who doesn't listen to or "heed" what Jesus says?
This may seem like a really negative scripture. These scriptures are meant to do two things: They should reassure you if you do want to listen to Jesus, and they will convict you if you don't want to listen to Him. Now flip forward to the next book, the book of Romans. Read Romans 10:17.
This teaches us that faith comes by or from what?
What does it say we need to hear in order to have faith?
Why should you and I listen to Jesus? That's what gives us faith!!! Think back to the events we have already studied... Why did the disciples turn to Jesus when they were in trouble? Because they believed he would and could help them! Why did the demon-possessed man run to Jesus from the tombs? Because he thought Jesus could help! Why did the desperate woman crawl to Jesus to touch his clothes? Because she believed he could help! All of these had faith. And according to this Scripture, what will give you that kind of faith? Listening to the words of Jesus!
Now turn ahead to the next book in the Bible, the book of 1 Corinthians. Read 1 Corinthians 14:37.
Paul (the apostle, and inspired author of this book) says that the things that he writes are what?
When you read what Paul wrote, whose words are you reading?
The simple point here is that if we want to listen to Jesus, where do we look? In the pages of the New Testament! Now, let's flip briefly through those pages and look at a couple more things. First, flip past the next book (2 Corinthians) and find the book after it, the book of Galatians. Look at Galatians 1:6-10.
What if someone (even an angel) preaches something that is contrary to what Jesus and the New Testament writers preach and write?
Now turn to the next book, the book of Ephesians. Read Ephesians 3:2-5.
Here we read about the "mystery," which refers to truth which was formerly hidden but now has been revealed in Christ (verses 3 and 4). It was made known to God's apostles and prophets (verse 5). Paul says that in this case it was written down for us to read. When we read it, can it be understood (see verse 4)?
What is the point? If you want Jesus to help you, you must listen to him!!! Why?
Where can you find his words?
So now, to recap, we have seen the ability of Jesus. Now we have seen the authority of Jesus. We want to trust Jesus' power and respect his authority. This is good news! If you will listen to Jesus... what can Jesus do? Jesus can help! When nothing else can... When nobody else can... Jesus can help!
This brings us to the end of the first part of this study, Jesus Can Help. Proceed to the next page and we will start the next part, Jesus Can Care.
Jesus can help. He can help you. So far in our study, we have seen this simple fact in everything he has done. He has calmed a storm, cured disease, cast out demons, raised others from the dead, and ultimately conquered even his own death. There can be no questioning that this news that Jesus is the Son of God is indeed "good news." With his miracles he proved that if you are afraid, miserable, desperate, and/or dead (in sin), he can help you! We have seen that if we are going to come face to face with the fact of Jesus' power and deity, we must listen to him. We have seen that he has the power to help and his word has the authority. It is his word that will help us survive when the storms come, help us from being judged in the last day, and give us the faith that causes us to get that help.
But what difference does all that make, if Jesus doesn't care? How much does he know about you? How much does he care about you, personally? How much does he love you? We will now start to notice that throughout his ministry, Jesus not only asserted to be the Son of God, but he also called himself the Son of Man. This is a reference to the fact that Jesus was human. Let's look at some of the events that showed just how human Jesus was. Because we know he has the power. Now we are going to see that Jesus can understand us, that Jesus can care.
PART 2: Jesus Can Care
Open your Bible with me to Mark 1:32. Read Mark 1:32-34.
What time of day is it?
What do you think people back then did when it became night time (no TV, no movies, etc)?
What is happening where Jesus is staying?
If you were Jesus, do you think you would have wanted to deal with this?
What do we learn about Jesus from this?
Now read verses 35-39.
In verse 35, how early is it?
Have you ever just wanted to get away from people and spend some time alone? Jesus did!
In verse 37, what happens?
How might you have felt if this happened to you?
What did Jesus do?
What do we learn about Jesus from this?
Have you ever felt stressed out? Totally hard-pressed? When you want to get away, but you can't? Based on what we just read, who understands how you feel?
Read verse 40. Keep in mind that not only was Jesus up late the night before helping people, but then he was up early that morning to spend some time alone, and now he has been preaching all day!
Who is this that comes to Jesus?
A leper is someone who has an incurable skin disease in which their body slowly decays. It is also a highly contagious disease, and for this reason, the lepers in Jesus' day lived away from everyone else, and their lives were characterized by loneliness and shame. If they ever were in an area of normal people, they were expected to cover their mouths with their hand and shout, "Unclean! Unclean!"
What does this leper say to Jesus?
There are many people today who are like this leper. They need Jesus' help so badly, and they know that he can help, but they are not sure if he will. They are not sure if he cares enough. Jesus not only can help, but he will!!!
Read verses 41-42.
What does Jesus do?
Do you think Jesus could have healed the leper without actually touching him?
It should be pretty obvious that Jesus' power is more than capable of healing this leper without touching him. And to touch the leper is to make yourself a likely victim of this contagious disease, which can spread through just touching an infected person. And yet, Jesus chooses to touch him!
Why do you think Jesus actually touched the leper?
It had probably been a really, really long time since this leper had been touched by anyone other than another leper. Perhaps the last time he had ever been hugged was by his wife or his kids, just before he learned that he had leprosy and had to leave them. By reaching out and touching this leper, Jesus made an incredible gesture to show how much he cares!
Do you think there are people today who feel like this leper did?
What would you do if you met a person with leprosy one day? What did Jesus do?... He cares!!! There is good news for everyone in the world who is an outcast or has a disease, and there is hope for all of us who need Jesus' cleansing touch in our lives to free us from sin... Jesus not only has the power, but he has the understanding. Jesus cares!
We have just seen how Jesus displayed overwhelming compassion toward one of the lowliest people in society. One would think that Jesus would be honored and respected for his care for humanity. Let's continue to take a look at how Jesus was treated by people, and his reactions...
Read Mark 5:40.
What did they do to Jesus?
Some Bible translations say they "laughed him to scorn." They weren't chuckling, they were trying to make him look stupid and foolish. In short, they were making fun of him. Had he done anything wrong?
Has this ever happened to you? If so, Jesus understands. Do you think anyone was laughed at today? Did any kids get picked on at school...
How does that feel?
There is good news for those people. Jesus cares and understands. They laughed at him too.
Read Mark 6:1-4.
Where did Jesus go?
Who is at home? Family, friends, and relatives. If there is anyplace in the world where there ought to be people who will love you and stand beside you, where is it? At home.
But in verse 3, they took offense at him. What does that mean?
Have people in your own family ever misunderstood you? So much that they would rather not have you around them? How does that feel? You and I may or may not know how that feels, but we know this... Jesus knows how that feels!
Do you think anyone feels like that today?
I may not know how that feels but I know this... Jesus does! There is good news for us: Jesus understands, and because of that, he cares!
Move ahead to Mark 6:30-34.
Jesus is talking to His apostles, and we see in verse 31 that they were so busy with the people that they didn't even have time to eat! So they went to a "quiet place"...
But what did the people do? (verse 33)
How would you have felt? What would you have done? Would you have been frustrated or lost control?
What did Jesus do? (verse 34)
Jesus "felt compassion for them" because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He knew what they really needed, so he gave them his time and taught them. Keep in mind that he and his disciples hadn't even had time to eat lately, and were surely tired and worn out as they were going to spend some time in a quiet place. What do we learn about Jesus? He cares more for people than he does for his own needs!
We have just seen a simple point about Jesus -- that he cares more for people than he does for himself. This point is about to get even more meaningful as we read on... Read Mark 14:1.
What did these people want to do to Jesus?
Has anyone ever hated you? Wanted something bad to happen to you? How does that feel -- depressing, scary? Jesus understands how it feels -- they wanted to kill him!
Jump down and read verses 10 and 11. What about when a friend turns on you?
How does that feel? Jesus understands and cares!
Do you think anyone feels like that today?
Verses 32-34. Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane...
How does he feel?
He feels sad enough to die! Have you ever felt that sad, that you could just die? Do you think anyone is depressed today? Anyone just feel like not going on with life? Jesus understands how that feels and he cares! He was sad enough to die.
Verses 37-38. Disciples fall asleep instead of keeping watch...
Have you ever needed for someone to be there for you and they weren't? That can make you feel unimportant, rejected, lonely, worthless.
What do we know now? Jesus understands!
Verse 43-45. Judas betrays Jesus...
Judas was "one of the twelve"... one of Jesus' friends! He gave Jesus a kiss on the cheek to betray Him...
Have you ever had someone use you just to get their way? Has anyone ever used you to make someone else jealous, or to take advantage of you?
There is good news... Jesus cares!
We continue reading in Mark 14:50. "Then everyone deserted him and fled..."
What did they all do to Jesus?
Have you ever been left alone?
We see people like that all the time. Do you think there is anyone who feels like this today...
Jesus understands what it is like to be all alone. He cares. That's good news!
Verses 56-57. "Many testified falsely against him..."
Has anyone ever lied about you?
Verse 65. "Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists..."
Has anyone ever abused you? Spit on you? Hit you?
Verse 71. Peter cursed and swore, "I do not know this man..."
Have you ever had anyone deny you? Has anyone been told today, "I don't love you anymore!"
Skip down to chapter 15 now, to Mark 15:20.
"And when they had mocked him..."
Now read verse 34.
None of us will ever be forsaken by God, but Jesus had to be in order to save us. Do you think there is anyone today who believes they have been forsaken by God?
Jesus understands and cares!!!
In Part 1 of this series, we read about Jesus' miracles and wonders, his sheer power, and from that we drew the important point that Jesus can help. He can help us, with all that power. But as we pointed out, what good is that if he doesn't want to help us? That's why we studied in Part 2 about Jesus' love, compassion and concern for other people, for all mankind. His love for people both then and now drove him to set aside his own needs and good and accomplish instead what He needed to accomplish for the good of others. We saw that Jesus understands and loves us, that Jesus can care.
But that's still not the end of it. Even if he has the power to help us and he has the desire to care for us, we need to see if he can save us from our biggest problem... We need to see that Jesus can save.
PART 3: Jesus Can Save
Let's start in the book of Mark once again at Mark 10:45. Remember in our last study: Why did Jesus die? Because he cares for us!
Why, according to Mark 10:45, did Jesus give his life?
What does ransom mean?
Why did we need to be brought back home? What happened to us?
Sin has consequences. Adam and Eve received the consequences of their sin: they were cast out of the garden of Eden and never again had that original, perfect life the way God designed it. They felt ashamed or guilty. Adam blamed someone else -- anger. They were afraid -- so they tried to hide themselves from God. This was not the way God made us -- but they made the choice to sin. God did not make us to feel that way... Sin makes us feel that way!
Isn't that bad news? It sure isn't very uplifting, but it's something we have to know about. There is good news, but first we need to address the bad news so we can know the full extent of our situation. The Bible sure doesn't hold back on telling us the reality of things, and below we'll look at some scriptures that specifically relate to this bad news about sin.
The following Scripture references are arranged so that each verse will be from the book in the New Testament after the current one. So currently we are in Mark, and the next verse will be in Luke, right after Mark. And we'll keep going back book by book like that.
Let's look at Luke 12:47-48. The "slaves" here, or "servants," represent us as sinners, and how we respond to God's will for us. What happens to people who continue in sin? They are like the slave who receives a beating or many lashes with the whip. In short, sin will be punished!
Now flip to the next book, and look at John 8:24, as well as verse 34. What happens to us as a result of sin here?
Moving forward, let's look now at Acts 17:30. Here we have a straightforward insight into God's attitude toward sin. Do you think there are some things God just might shrug off? Does He play favorites? No matter what He used to do, in overlooking the times of ignorance, God is clear that here and now, He calls all to repentance. Does that include you?
Now we're in the next book, the book of Romans, and we'll look at Romans 3:19, 23. The whole world is accountable to God, as we see here in verse 19. Just to be sure, let's look at verse 23 -- all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. If there is one thing that all of us accountable, adult humans have in common, it's that we all sin. Does that include you and me?
Keep moving ahead to the next book, and take a look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Look at some of these sins listed here. Try saying some of these out loud, these are real!
What does it say about people living in these sins? They will not inherit the kingdom of God! In other words, they cannot go to heaven. Do you see that sin is a serious matter? Nothing in this world is more pressing than the problem of our sin. Do any of the above things, or others mentioned in that passage, describe you? If so, you're not alone. What do you learn from this scripture? There is bad news.
If sin is so bad, why would anyone ever do it? How did we get involved in it in the first place if it's so obviously terrible??? We can find an answer in the next book... Look ahead at 2 Corinthians 11:3,14. Read that and ask once again the question, if sin is so bad, why would anyone ever do it?
How far will Satan go to deceive someone?
Next flip a few pages up to the book of Galatians, and check out Galatians 5:19-21. Here we have another list of sins, this one a little longer. Notice some of the "big sins" listed:
Maybe we don't have a problem with those, but how about these?...
This is starting to get a little more personal, because as the end of verse 21 says, those who live like this cannot go to heaven! Sin separates you from God.
Now we'll arrive at our destination, which is a couple pages over in Ephesians 2:1-3,12. Go ahead and read that. Read it again, if you need to. Verse 1 says "dead in sin." Let's look at some of the key words and phrases in these verses:
What does all this add up to? Bad news! We must understand the process of sin: Sin separates us from God...
But wait, because there is more. Read on...
Like we said, in the last study we heard the bad news. Is that the end of the story? If it is, we have absolutely no hope. Read again the scripture where we left off on the previous page, Ephesians 2:12. How's that for depressing? The end of verse 12, in my version, says "having no hope and without God in the world." But praise God, it doesn't stop there!!!
Now read verse 13. Remember, this is still talking to the same people verse 12 was talking to, but now it says they have been "brought near"to God. Somehow, we can be brought back from our state of sin! And what's the difference, as seen in this verse? "In Christ Jesus... by the blood of Christ." There's the difference right there, between a saved person and an unsaved person... Not whether you're perfect or not. Not what you've done in your past. Not how good-looking you are or how much money you have. No, all that can bring you near to God is the blood of Christ. The difference between the saved person and the unsaved person is that one is in Christ Jesusand one is not.
Now we will look at a few more verses along these lines. This will proceed similar to the way we did it in the last page, except now we are going in reverse -- each verse will be from the book in the New Testament before the current one. So currently we are in Ephesians, and the next verse will be in Galatians, right before Ephesians. And we'll keep going back book by book like that.
Turn back to Galatians 3:13 and read that. What did the old Law say? "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Paul writes this in reference to Jesus' death on the cross, which is commonly referred to simply as "a tree." So Jesus was cursed because of the way he died. Why do you think he allowed himself to be cursed? So we wouldn't be. He died in our place, for our sins. Why was he cursed? To "redeem" us. To buy us back.
Back another book, to 2 Corinthians. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21. Jesus was made to be sin for us. Why? So that we might become the righteousness of God. That's right, you and me. Sinful people. Imperfect people. Unworthy people. Jesus took our sin so that we wouldn't have to bear it. So that we could be righteous in God's sight.
Now back to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Remember that list of sins in verses 9 and 10? Everything from adulterers to homosexuals to thieves to drunkards. Can you imagine those kind of people being saved? Can you imagine them becoming Christians? Niether can I, until I read verse 11. Check it out... "And that is what some of you were." Whoa! He's writing to Christians here! Some of these people used to commit these sins! But not anymore... what happened? "But you were washed...sanctified...justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ". So there's the difference -- it doesn't matter how bad the sins in their past, these people were "washed" of their sins, cleansed, purified.
The next book back is Romans. Read Romans 6:23. What do we deserve because of sin? Death. The writer here describes death as the "wages" of sin. It's what you get for it. But... But what else? But "the free gift of God is eternal life"... there's the good news! Notice that it's a gift, not something we have to earn (because we can't earn it). We can only have it because of God's grace and mercy. And where do we get it? "...in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Keep moving back. Now we're in Acts, and let's look at Acts 4:12. Where and only where can man be saved?
This means we can't save ourselves, by living a good life or being a nice person. No matter how good or nice we are, we still have sin. We can only be saved because of Jesus, and only in Jesus.
Almost there now... Turn back to John. Read John 8:31-36. Jesus said "if you hold to my teaching..." then what?
Back in the book of Luke, we'll look at Luke 23:34. Take note of what Jesus said. Now take note of who he is talking about. He's talking about the very people who spat on him, made fun of him and beat him. They placed a crown of thorns on his head and mocked him, they lashed him, and finally they nailed him to the cruel cross to hang in pain until he died. As he hung there, Jesus spoke these words we just read. Now, if he can love those people and ask for their forgiveness, what about you? If Jesus can forgive the very people who nailed him to the cross, do you think he can forgive you? Yes, and he will!
And now we'll go one more book back and arrive back at the book of Mark. We'll reread the verse we started on, Mark 10:45. Do you see now how Jesus gave his life for you and me, and all people? He gave his life as a ransom, to bring us back to God (see picture below). Through his death on the cross, a death in which he offered himself without sin so that we could be saved, he bridged the gap that sin created -- the separation between man and God.
To sum up this lesson, here are some simple but necessary review questions. If you're not down pat on these, go back over the lesson...
That's good news, isn't it? It's awesome. I hope you can see and understand just how unworthy we are... the point of seeing that isn't simply to show us the terrible situation we are in because of our sin, but also so we can see how good and loving God is. It helps us understand these two concepts:
Isn't that great? Yes, that's good news!
Now here are a couple of important questions about stuff that we didn't cover on the previous page but will cover in the next study... Get a sheet of paper or something else to write on, and go ahead and answer these to the best of your ability, writing down your answers on paper. You can simply print this page out and write the answers in if you like.
When does Jesus say He will forgive us? In other words, at what point in our "conversion" are our sins washed away?
Do you believe you have been saved? If so, when do you believe you were saved? (what age, or how long ago)
What were you doing at that time, at the moment you were saved?
Have you been baptized? If so, when, and how?
Why were you baptized? In other words, what was the purpose of it, or why did you decide to get baptized?
You understand that only Jesus can save us, that he died for our sins to save us, and that he did it because he loves us more than we can ever know. We'll start in this study to look at the simplicity of salvation as found in the Bible. What's really important is not when we "feel" like we are saved, but when Jesus says we are saved. Our feelings can often confuse us and they are not reliable, but Jesus knows all things, and we can always trust in his word. Here we go...
What we'll be looking for here is the specific point in time when a person is saved (i.e., when their sins are forgiven), and the things that a person must do to be saved. With each passage, I'll ask 2 or 3 questions whose answers are just right there in the text if you just read it and accept it for what it says.
Let's start, as we often do, in the book of Mark. Look at Mark 16:16.
Now turn past John to Acts, and read Acts 2:36-41.
[Note: Repentance is a decision you make to turn away from sin. It is like changing your mind; you decide to get out of it and try not to do it anymore. This doesn't mean you won't sin ever again -- you will, all Christians do. That's why we need Jesus' blood. Once you are saved, his blood is continually cleansing you as you walk faithfully through life. Repentance is a fundamental part of this lifestyle. The next scripture also describes this as "dying to sin" or "dying to self"...]
Next book... Romans 6:3-6.
Next book... 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Skip 2 Corinthians, and look at Galatians 3:26-27.
Skip Ephesians and Philippians, and look at Colossians 2:11-12.
Skip several books, and look at 1 Peter 3:21.
There's still more good stuff to look at along these lines in the next couple of pages. Did you make an effort to answer the questions above according to what each verse says? If the questions seem too easy, that's fine, that's because God didn't plan salvation to be difficult and confusing... if it's simple, then you're just seeing the beauty of God's way of doing things!
Continuing with the train of thought in the previous study, we will look at this same thing now with a real life example or two in the Bible. Sometimes it makes it even easier to understand when we can actually see it happening in real life. We have someone who is a live illustration of what Jesus commanded in regard to salvation!
Turn to Acts 22. In verses 1 and 2, the apostle Paul (formerly called "Saul") is about to give his "defense" to a group of people who are trying to have him imprisoned. He is going to explain to them who he was, and is, and what has brought him to preach about Jesus. Let's read...
Read Acts 22:3-5.
What is the first thing you know about Saul?
Was this man saved (as of verse 5)?
Simple enough, let's keep reading: Acts 22:6-10 -- Saul encounters the risen Jesus on the way to Damascus.
What does Saul ask in verse 8?
Verse 10 -- what does Saul ask now?
Is Saul a saved man at this point?
What did the Lord say (verse 10)?
Let's see what's next... Read Acts 22:11-16 -- God sends Ananias to help Saul and talk to him.
Verse 16 -- When would Saul's sins be washed away?
If you said that he was already saved in the second picture (when he believed, repented, confessed), is that correct?
If his sins still hadn't been washed away before verse 16, that solidly tells us that he was not saved at the point of verse 10. Remember that there is no such thing as salvation without the forgiveness, or washing away, of sins. Because sin separates us from God, salvation and the forgiveness of sins are one and the same. According to God's word, as demonstrated in the conversion of Saul, at what point does that forgiveness take place?
Now we'll check out a second "case study," an example of the salvation of Jesus Christ taking place in the lives of people like you and me. Let's look together at Acts chapter 2.
Some background info: Here in Acts 2, it is just weeks after Jesus has resurrected from the dead, appeared to people, and ascended to heaven.
Let's pause it right there and just take a look at these people at this particular point in time:
Pretty easy to see that these guys are not saved yet. Let's see what happens next.
Starting in verse 14, the apostle Peter preaches the message of Jesus to them. He tells them about who Jesus is and concludes with the powerful statement of verse 36, that Jesus is Lord and Christ, this same Jesus whom these people crucified!
Now see their response in verse 37.
What effect did the message have on them?
Are they saved yet?
Now, you may remember with the example of Saul in the previous page, we got the rest of the story when we continued reading. So let's read on...
What question did they ask (verse 37)?
Verse 38 -- What answer was given?
What reasons are given for them, having believed and repented, to be baptized?
If their sins still needed to be forgiven, were they saved before their baptism?
How did they respond to this?
What about you? Think back to the answers you gave to the questions about salvation a couple emails ago. Did you answer that you had been saved before you were baptized (or that you were saved and never were baptized?) In light of what we learned above, you owe it to yourself to stop and sincerely think about the questions below...
In addition to the examples we have just seen in Saul (Acts 22) and the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2), there are several other great, clear examples for us in the book of Acts, that display the way people receive Christ's salvation. Here is one more of them.
The Disciples in Ephesus
This will help us answer a good question: What if you were baptized, but not with the same baptism that the Bible talks about, the one Jesus commands? For example:
Can you be baptized again with the baptism that Jesus commands, as found in God's word?
Read Acts 19:1-5.
Were these people baptized with the baptism that Jesus commanded?
Remember that the baptism we've been reading about is not only for the forgiveness of sins, but also to "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). These people in Acts 19 had been "baptized" in some way, but they had not received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What baptism had they received or been baptized into?
How do we know? Paul tells them to be baptized again with the baptism that Jesus commands (in Jesus' name).
What do we learn?
If a person is not baptized with the baptism that Jesus commands, what do they need to do?
Were their hearts right, their motives good, the first time?
What are your thoughts on your own salvation? Where do you stand, in light of what the Bible has taught us? Do you need to change? If you are willing and ready to live faithfully for the rest of your life as a follower of Jesus and a member of his church, will you be baptized with the baptism that Jesus commands -- to have your sins washed away, to be saved?
We are ready and eager to help. Can we assist you in finding a group of authentic Christians nearby? You can be baptized (immersed in water) into Christ by anybody, but it would be ideal to get in touch with some people who have already been saved to be there for you and to help you in your new walk with Christ as a saved believer.
If you have made this decision, please do contact us with the email link below. We can help, and would be blessed to hear from you. If you would like to know more or learn more, check out the rest of knowtruth, particularly the Salvation section.