We learned in our last study that Jesus was born to be the Savior of mankind. To do this meant that He was born to die. You and I are part of mankind. He died to save you. He died to save me. Christ has experienced death for every person. (Hebrews 2:9).
Christ has accomplished with His death reconciliation between our Creator and each of us. To do this Christ had to pay the penalty for all our sins and those of the whole world. Eternity in Hell waits for us without this salvation. But because Jesus has taken the penalty of our sins onto Himself there is the possibility of eternal life with God after this life.
Perhaps you aren't concerned with what comes after this life. You have today to live. Jesus did not just save us from the past so that we could have a secure future in Heaven. His salvation extends especially to the present in very practical ways. We saw also in our last study that salvation can be translated "deliverance". He delivers us from those people or things or circumstances that would try to crush and defeat us. We are delivered to live without fear which can be worse than enemies. We are delivered from being slaves to habits that we think we may never be able to break. We are freed from having to sin so that we can serve God all the days of our lives in holiness and righteousness. This is what we were created to do. Our lives can only find true fulfillment and happiness when we are living life as our Creator intended.
But how does this salvation that is already accomplished in Christ become mine? This is what we started to answer last study. We need to recognize that our problems result directly from living independently from God. Living life our own way will never work. Let's say you were created to be a car. But you decide instead that you'd rather be a tractor. It's harvest time and you attach your heavy equipment to the car and head for the fields. The car can barely move with the attached machinery. Then it is too low to the ground and gets stuck in the ruts. It is too low to clear the rows of the crops and pretty soon you have a broken down vehicle and a crop that has been trampled rather than harvested. This is what happens when we live independently from God.
This independence in deciding how we are going to live our life is sin. Sin is knowing what is right to do but then not doing it. (James 4:17). Sin does not always look "bad". For example: you sense that you should go home after work -to talk with your wife and just enjoy her company. But, it's a nice day and you decide to go golfing with your colleagues at work. No, that doesn't look "bad" on the outside. But you knew what was right to do and you didn't do it. That is sin.
The subtle thing about sin is that often it doesn't look bad to others, or even yourself. But you and I know what is behind our actions. It is sin that has severed our relationship with God. Sin makes us like dead men in God's sight. Sin blinds us from seeing the truth about ourselves and the lives we live. Sin keeps us from living our lives for the purpose that God had planned for us.
Let's continue answering the question.......
I'd like to open this study with one of the same thoughts at the close of the last study......
Day 1- God, through the Holy Spirit is always at work in every man,
trying to bring us to Himself.
The truth of the Word of God (i.e. what is recorded in the Bible) about
man's condition and God's remedy is what the Holy Spirit uses to show us
things. This is why a man or woman might be enlightened through the words of a
song or sermon or a believing friend or the beauty in a painting or through
reading the Bible.
Hebrews 4:12 / John 8:32
Day 2- Enlightened about what you ask? God wants us to see the truth
about ourselves - i.e. that we are living independent of our Creator. We live
doing what is right in our own eyes and that is sin. This bent toward
independence and selfishness is our inheritance from Adam and Eve when they
chose to disobey God. From that time until this all men have a sin nature.
Psalm 14:2-3 / Romans 3: 10-12, 23
If we can see our spiritual self the way God sees us then our salvation is very near.
Day 3- Once we see what our condition is as men, then we naturally must
ask what is the cure? Just as chemotherapy might be the treatment for cancer,
so Jesus' death on the Cross is every man's hope for life lived as the Creator
Romans 5:6/ 1 Corinthians 15:3 / 2 Corinthians 5:15 / Revelations 5:9
Day 4- Jesus and His death in place of ours was God's plan (or remedy)
for the sins of the whole world.
Isaiah 53:5/ Hebrews 2:9/ Hebrews 9:28/ 1 Peter 2:24/ 1 Peter 3:18
Day 5- This "cure" for man's sinful nature is totally God's doing. Man
cannot help things along by doing good or saying prayers or going to church.
Ephesians 2: 4-5, 8
Day 6- There are many of us that wish we could start over with life. We
have a rough past, a tangled present and no hope for the future. Or we may
have had a good life but now feel an emptiness and purposelessness as we come
to the end of life. There is good news for us because Jesus says, "we must be
born again." He wants us to start over!
John 3: 3-7
Day 7- Being born again means that we are completely made NEW. We are
not just reformed. It is more than a fresh start.
Ezekiel 11:19 / 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Romans 6:4-6
Day 8- To be born again is God's plan for every man and woman. No one is
too far-gone in sin to start over. Salvation through Christ is for every man.
Romans 5:18/ Romans 10:13/ 1 Timothy 2:4 / 2 Peter 3:9
Day 9- This is the question that Nicodemus, a leader among the Jews
asked Jesus as he puzzled over Christ's statement: "?.unless a man is born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3-4) What was the Lord's
John 3: 5-7
Day 10- "Unless one is born of water?." This indicates the pardon for
our sins. John the Baptist had gone before Jesus baptizing with water. This was
a symbol of what was happening in the heart - i.e. the washing away of sin from
the soul. Those that submitted to this baptism had to start with the confession
and repentance of sin.
Matthew 3: 1-2 / Psalm 32:5a / Psalm 38:18 / Acts 3:19
Repentance involves our mind, emotions and will. We must have a knowledge of sin, a genuine sorrow for it and a will that changes its attitude towards God, self and sin.
Day 11- When confession and repentance are real, what happens?
1 John 1:9 / Ephesians 1:7 / Psalm 130: 3-4
This is the first great incident of the new birth: the pardon and cleansing of sin.
Day 12- The second great incident of the new birth is the communication
of life by the Spirit of God which fits us for the present and future. This is
what Jesus meant when He said, "unless one is born of water AND the Spirit."
The Kingdom of God is spiritual and only a man born of the Spirit can enter it.
John 3:6 / 1 Corinthians 15:50
We are born with a certain nature, which fits us to do certain things and makes others impossible. For example a mole naturally digs in the ground but if it is going to fly like an eagle it is going to have to be remade with a very different nature.
Human nature is attributed to all men -- even those who do not love God or even know Him. Therefore the acknowledgement and love of God which give us entrance into His kingdom are not a part of our nature. But the real dignity of man (which distinguishes him from animals) is that he has a capacity for God and for eternity. There is in man a dormant capacity, which nothing but contact with God and the touch of the Holy Spirit can bring into life.
Day 13- Man is born as if dead and needing to be quickened by a higher
power before he can live and be of use. We see this dormant capacity all
throughout nature. For example: most caterpillars will die. But with the
correct circumstances some will transform and become butterflies. The Bible
also gives the example of a kernel of wheat.
John 12: 24
Day 14- So the capacity to be a child of God lies within man but the
development of this lies with God. We can't command the Holy Spirit but we can
do more than wait. We can let Him know (through prayer) that we want this new
nature and then put ourselves in line with the Spirit's operation. It is just
the same with sailors who can't command the wind but they can prepare the boat
and set their sails to catch what wind there is.
Luke 10:39 / Acts 17:11/ Acts 16:30 / James 1:2
Day 15- With a cleansed heart and a will that desires this new nature we
find God more willing for us to have it than we are to receive it.
Zephaniah 3:17 / Romans 10:9,13 / 1 Timothy 2:4 / 2 Peter 3:9
Day 16- We reach out to take hold of our new nature by faith. The Bible
defines faith as ......
A. The assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen. (RSV)
B. Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)
In other words, we cannot see God the Father or His Son Jesus but we now know that they exist and want to abide within the temple of our body through the third unseen member of the Trinity called the Holy Spirit.
By faith--this is the only way we can approach God.
Hebrews 11:6 / Ephesians 3:12
Day 17- To be able to approach God in faith we need to have a knowledge
of what God has said. That's why it is so important to read the Bible, which is
His word to us.
Day 18- Two other aspects of faith besides knowledge involves our
emotions and will. When we fall in love with Jesus our emotions are stirred and
we set our will to do what He asks of us.
John 14:15, 23 / 1 Peter 1:8
Day 19- It is ultimately our will that makes the decision to call Jesus
Christ Lord and to receive the salvation and new nature He offers us through
His death on the Cross. Notice in these verses the definite action that results
when God apprehends a man or woman.
Day 20- When we invite Christ to reclaim His property (i.e. our own
lives), we need to burn every bridge behind us and not look back.
Luke 9:62 / James 1:8
Day 21- How much faith do we need to be able to approach God to receive
Matthew 17:20 / Mark 9:23
You have just come to God to confess and repent of your sins. You thanked Him for sending His Son Jesus to die for your sins and unite you to God. You invited Jesus to reclaim your life by being Lord of it and sending the Holy Spirit to abide in your spirit. But you don't feel any different and you wonder if anything has changed.
Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote a little booklet about how to be born again. (It is called "Have you Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?") This little tract was a great help to many of us as students because of a train illustration that he used. The engine is at the start of the train followed by the other cars and finally the caboose ends the long train of cars.
Day 22- The engine of the train he called FACT. To become a Christian,
we must know the facts. The work of Jesus Christ: His death, burial and
Resurrection are the facts of the gospel. They are true whether you believe
them or not.
1 Corinthians 15:2-4
Day 23- The middle car he called FAITH. Each of us must do something
with the facts in order for them to become real to us. Jesus must be the object
of our faith in this matter of salvation. We believe in Him and that He has
done for us what He said He would do. Faith demands believing and then acting.
Hebrews 11:1 / James 2:17
Day 24- The caboose he called FEELINGS. When we commit ourselves to
Jesus Christ we will have feelings of joy, love, gratitude etc. But feelings
come and go. A train can run without the caboose but it can't run without the
engine. Our commitment is made whether we feel it or not. If salvation is no
deeper than our feelings what will happen?
Mark 4: 14-19 / Luke 6:49
Day 25- The importance of solidly knowing the facts cannot be stressed
too much. Jesus wants us to know the facts and then what it is going to cost
us. We dare not enter into salvation lightly.
Luke 14: 25-33
Day 26- But when we have counted the cost and allowed Jesus to take
rightful ownership of our lives then we can be sure that we have our sins
forgiven, a new nature inside and the promise of eternal life. We can be sure
because Jesus Christ is faithful in keeping His promises.
Hebrews 10:23 / Revelations 1:5
Day 27- Salvation does not depend upon us but upon the faithfulness of
Deuteronomy 7:9 / 1 Corinthians 1:9
Day 28- Salvation is God's work that we accept just like we would a
Day 29- How can we know for sure that our sins are forgiven?
1 John 1:9 / 1 John 5:13
Day 30- How can we know that the Spirit of Jesus - i.e. the Holy Spirit,
has taken up residence in our life?
1 John 3:18-24 / Revelations 3:20
Day 31- What will you see changing in your life as a result of Christ's
1 John 2: 3-6
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