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?
- In the name of Jesus.
- In no other name (nobody else can save you).
- In Jesus you can 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?
- You will know the truth.
- The truth will set you free.
- Free from what? verses 34-35... from sin, because when we're not saved, we're slaves to sin.
- Verse 36 - if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.
- That's good news!
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...
- Who saves us? Jesus (God).
- What did he do to save us? He died for us.
- Why did he save us? Because he loves us, and we need to be brought back to God (salvation), and can get it no other way than him.
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
- Mercy -- When God doesn't give us what we do deserve (i.e. condemnation, death).
- Grace -- When God does give us what we don't deserve (i.e. salvation, eternal life, happiness, peace).
Isn't that great? Yes, that's good news!