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    Aug 17, 2014

    Class 4: Jesus' Death

    Series: Two Ways to Live

    Category: Core Seminars, The Love of God, Death of Christ, Life of Christ, Person of Christ, The Birth of Christ, The Deity of Christ, Work of Christ, Evangelism


    Welcome to the Two Ways to Live core seminar.  We’re in the fourth week of this six-week course, and as we begin, we want to restate the main purpose for this class.  First of all, we want to solidify the content of the gospel – the hope of salvation – for each of us.  Secondly, by better understanding the gospel ourselves, we would be better equipped to share the gospel with others, as we grow in confidence and boldness in articulating these great truths. 


    There is nothing particularly special about the Two Ways to Live tract.  It’s simply a faithful presentation of the gospel and is based on God’s Word in the Bible.  It should be our desire to clearly proclaim this gospel message to the glory of God and for the eternal good of those who hear and accept it.  And so we use Two Ways to Live as a tool that will help us clarify the basic elements of the gospel.  It certainly isn’t the only way to share the Gospel, but many have found it to be helpful and we hope you do as well.


    I.          Review


    So to review, let’s go through each Cell and 1) explain what we’ve learned; 2) repeat the corresponding verse; and 3) draw the picture that went with it.  [Repeat these questions for Cells 1-3 as shown below.]


    Cell 1

    Summary: God created everything and is the loving ruler of His creation.  He made us in His image to be rulers of the world under Him.

    Verse: Revelation 4:11 – “You are worthy our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.”



    Cell 2

    Summary: Man sinned by rebelling against God, and we try to run life our own way and not God’s.  By doing so, we live in misery and have made a mess of everything.

    Verse:Romans 3:10-12 – “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away.”



    Cell 3

    Summary: God won’t let us rebel forever and will punish us through death and judgment for eternity.   

    Verse:Hebrews 9:27 – “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”



    Questions or Comments?


    Did anyone use Two Ways to Live to share the gospel this past week?  How’d it go?


    II.         Jesus, The Man Who Died for Rebels


    Last week, we talked through Cell 3 and God’s judgment on all men for their sin.  Each one of us – you, me, and everyone else – has rebelled against God and deserves a just and eternal condemnation in hell.  And the biblical picture of hell is not a party where we sit around indulging in sinful fantasies, but a place of horrible torment, where the fire never goes out.  Perhaps even worse, we can’t undo what’s been done.  Hell is what we’re destined for… unless God saves us. 


    And with that, we turn our attention to the good news of the gospel.  In order for us to understand the good news of Christianity, we needed to understand the bad news first.  Hopefully, we’ve covered this sufficiently in the past two weeks.  But now we turn our attention to God’s gift of grace.  For the gift is not like the trespass…For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:15-19).


    God chose to save man from sin through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  There is plenty of biblical support for this.  In fact, you could say that all of scripture testifies to it.  But instead of asking you to memorize the whole Bible, there is one verse that helpfully summarizes this great truth that we can commit to memory.  That verse is 1 Peter 3:18.  Would someone please read that verse found on your handout?  [“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”]


    God’s work of salvation can be pictured like this.  (Draw picture)




    God loved the world and sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to live perfectly under His rule, unlike Adam.  Then, being found sinless, Jesus took our punishment, died in our place, and brought forgiveness.  And he gave the righteousness he had earned to us.


    To understand Christ’s death for sinners, we need to look at five truths that we see in the Bible, which is where we’ll focus our time today.


    A.         God Loved the World


    How many of you have ever memorized John 3:16?  [See if anyone can recite it; otherwise, go ahead and read it.]  Well, the verse says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


    In our first class, we learned that God is the loving Creator and Ruler.  Well, to be loved in Creation is one thing.  To be loved by God when I’m in rebellion against him—at the cost of his own Son’s life—well, that’s a whole different dimension of love.  But that’s what we see in the gospel!  The reason God chose to save man was not because of something found in man, as though we somehow earned it or had something unique to offer the God of the universe.  No, the reason God chose to save man was found in God alone, in His love.


    And this love of God’s was set on man for the purposes of saving him from his sin.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”


    When did God choose to set His love upon us?  [While we were still sinners.]  We are sinners, and as we discussed the past couple of weeks, this means that we’re rebels who have rejected God’s loving rule over us.  We’re God’s enemies (Rom. 5:10).  Yet God loved us, and in loving us, He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to save wretched people, such as you and I.


    We're all called to love God (Deut. 6:5), but we must recognize that God’s love precedes ours.  1 John 4:19 says, “We love because [God] first loved us.”  Our love for God is only a response to His love for us. 


    And so we can see that even though God was perfectly justified in punishing all of us, He chose to love the world.  And to demonstrate His love, He sent His Son to the world.


    Questions or Comments?


    B.         Jesus is God


    To say that God is love (or is loving) isn’t that big of a stretch for many people to make.  Most Americans today believe in a benevolent divine being.  It’s when you start getting into the particulars about who that divine being is that differences begin to surface.  If we’re going to understand what Jesus’ death meant, we need to understand who it was who was dying.


    So the question of “Who is Jesus?” is of huge importance.  This was the question that Jesus asked his disciples before his transfiguration.  “[Jesus] asked them, “Who do people say I am?”[1]  [His disciples] replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you….”[2]


    So who is Jesus?  He is the Son of God, a title that reflects both his humanity (Ezekiel 2) and his divinity (Daniel 7).  Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”


    What examples can you think of in scripture that give evidence of Jesus being God?  [All knowing – Woman at the well (John 4); Sovereign – Feeding of 5,000 (Matt. 14); Worthy of worship – Healing of blind man (John 9); Authority over creation – Quieting the squall (Mark 4)]


    Would someone please read Mark 1:22-27 for us?  As this passage is being read, listen to the way Jesus’ divine nature is described.


    Mark 1:22-27 – “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.  Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"  "Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly.  "Come out of him!"  The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.  The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this?  A new teaching—and with authority!  He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 


    What are some unique characteristics of Jesus that stand out in this passage?  [Taught with uncommon authority; Rebuked evil spirits; Recognized as the Holy One of God]


    We could also cite numerous accounts in the gospels where Jesus showed his divine authority through physically healing people and other miracles.  But perhaps the most telling sign of Jesus’ divinity and most important to us is exemplified in Mark 2:5: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 


    If Jesus could truly forgive sins, then he could be no other than God Himself.  Only God has the right to forgive sins, and Jesus came for this very purpose.   So we see then that Jesus is God.[3]


    Questions or Comments?


    C.         Jesus Became a Man and Came Into the World


    So what makes Jesus alone able to address the problem of sin?  Well, we just answered part of the question—Jesus is God.  Yet Jesus’ divinity is only half of the equation.  Jesus also became fully human.  We see evidence of this in several portions of scripture.  (Ask for three volunteers to read the following passages:)


    • Matthew 1:20-21 – “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
    • Romans 5:17 – “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”
    • John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”


    “The Word became flesh.”  The “Word” is Jesus.  We see in this phrase alone that the Eternal One became the mortal, the Infinite like the finite, the Perfect like the imperfect, the Holy One like the unholy, the Sinless like the sinful.  The Son of God took on human flesh and came into the world.  Yet in no way did Jesus’ humanity compromise his divine nature.  He wasn’t half God and half man—he was 100% divine and 100% human, fully God and fully man. 


    It’s beyond our ability to grasp this wonder known as the incarnation.  Yet this truth is essential.  It means that Jesus did what no one else ever could – and this leads us to our fourth biblical truth about Jesus.


    Questions or Comments?


    D.         Jesus Lived a Sinless and Perfectly Righteous Life


    Why do you think it was important that Jesus became man?  [Man sinned and so man had to atone for that sin.]


    In Luke 4, we see the tempting of Jesus by Satan: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”


    Satan tempted Jesus to sin for forty days, and for forty days Jesus resisted the devil.  How difficult is it for us to resist 40 minutes of temptation, let alone 40 days?  But Jesus does what we can’t do.  This is why the writer of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15).


    We may think that Jesus’ sinless life is less remarkable because He’s God.  After all, James tells us that, “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13).  Yet Hebrews says that Jesus was tempted in every way.  In Jesus’ humanity, he knew the appeal and attractiveness of sin, but he didn’t give in. 


    To put it more positively – Jesus obeyed God’s law perfectly.  Jesus’ righteousness was the currency that he used to purchase man’s salvation.  “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).


    Jesus became man like us, but in this he was completely different.  None of us can say we obeyed God’s commands completely like he can. 


    Questions or Comments?


    E.         Jesus Died on the Cross to Bring Forgiveness to Sinners


    So we’ve seen who Jesus is, and we’ve seen how he lived his life.  Now let’s consider his death. 


    The final biblical truth that we want to devote our time to is the fact that Jesus died on the cross.  So to help us better understand this from a biblical perspective, let’s walk through a few passages together.


    • Mark 8:31 – “[Jesus] then began to teach [his disciples] that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”  (Here we see Jesus predicting his death.  He came for a reason.  His death wasn’t a surprise to him.)
    • Acts 10:39 – Speaking to those gathered at Cornelius’ house, Peter says, “We are witnesses of everything [Jesus] did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree…”  (Here we see Jesus’ death actually occurred and was witnessed.)
    • 1 Corinthians 2:2 – Paul says,“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  (Jesus’ death was the message of Paul and the apostles and the early church and remains our message to proclaim some 2000 years later.)


    Jesus’ obedient death on the cross was predicted, occurred, witnessed, and proclaimed.  This is an undeniable, historical fact.


    So Jesus died on the cross.  But so what?  Most non-Christians acknowledge that Jesus died, and many believe that he was not guilty or deserving of such a horrific execution.  But the same can be said of countless others throughout history.  So what’s so special about the cross? 


    Well, remember that because of our sin we all deserve death.  But because Jesus never sinned, he didn’t deserve death.  Yet irony of ironies—Jesus was the one who suffered God’s wrath for our sin.  In fact, this death is the very reason why Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth.  Jesus was born into the world so that he could die.  He was punished so that we could be forgiven.


    This is the climax of the gospel; it’s the culmination of all that’s gone before in scripture.  “How will a just God forgive sinful man without ceasing to be good?” – as all of creation holds its breath waiting for the answer – through Jesus’ death on the cross!


    Paul writes that, “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26)


    Christ’s sacrifice was to demonstrate God’s justice, which we discussed last week.  The wages of sin is death.[4]  Jesus’ sacrifice satisfied God’s wrath once and for all, for all those who have faith in Jesus.[5]  In the heavenly courtroom, God the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for his people’s sins, forgiving them and declaring them innocent.  The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”


    Isaiah prophesized about Christ, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).


    There is hope, and our hero is Jesus.  There is no other.  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).  Praise be to our God and Savior Jesus Christ!


    We’ve been talking about the fact that Jesus died as a substitute—he died in our place.  People talk about all sorts of other reasons for his dying—as an example of love and sacrifice, for example (which we also see in the Bible).  Why is it important when we share the gospel for us to explain his death as a substitute?


    Other Questions or Comments?


    III.        Implications for Evangelism


    Well, before we conclude, we want to briefly consider what all of this means for our evangelism.  So how does the fact that Jesus became man and died for sinners impact our evangelism?  [1) We must know the bad news before we can know the good news; 2) Jesus is the focal point of all scripture; 3) We can’t save ourselves; 4) Christianity is not just another religion – it’s the only one that saves; 5) God’s holiness, justice, and mercy are consistent within His divine being; 6) The gospel makes sense – there is no inconsistency in the story]



    [Practice: Have the class pair up and work through the first 4 cells of Two Ways to Live—including (ideally) saying the verses from memory.]


    IV.        Conclusion


    So to summarize, while we were under God’s wrath – sinners before a holy God – God responds to our helpless state.  In His love – and not because of anything we had done – God decided to save us.  And His plan for salvation centered on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who took on human flesh.  Jesus lived a sinless life, and then died on the cross to suffer God’s wrath in our place.  His atonement took away our sins and brought us forgiveness so that we might be saved and have eternal life with God.  This is the good news of the gospel.  And Lord willing, we’ll follow up next week with the continuation of this good news with Christ’s resurrection and his eternal reign as King.









    Would you say that God’s forgiveness of sins is free?

    Yes, to man, but no, to God.  Man receives the gift freely, yet it comes at a great cost and is not cheap.  Forgiveness still needed to be paid for through death.


    [1] Mark 8:27

    [2] Matthew 16:14-17

    [3] See Colossians 1:19, 2:9.

    [4] See Romans 6:23.

    [5] See Romans 3:26.