Pathfinders!

You will make known to me the path of life -- Psalm 16:11

Lesson 2:  The Restoration of the Path

 

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Getting Started

Someone accused a Christian of using Jesus as a crutch.  He responded, "Jesus is not a crutch!  He is a stretcher.  You can't even limp into heaven without Jesus."

 Think of the commandment "You shall not commit adultery".  Jesus said if you look at someone with lust in your heart you are guilty of this sin.  The Bible says the wages of sin are death.  Suppose that God punished people with death upon their first offense. How long would you live?

 Who will rescue us from this bondage?

NAU Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Who is our rescuer?

 

 

The Bible Teaches

 

1God planned to save us from the beginning: 

 

We saw the first glimmer of God's plan in the first lesson, as He promised to send a Savior.

 

&    NAU Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."

 

Through the Old Testament as God dealt with His people, He gave promises that a Savior was coming:

To Abraham:

&    NAU Genesis 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

To Moses:

&    NAU Deuteronomy 18:15 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

To David:

NAU 2 Samuel 7:11 The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you. 12 "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Through the Prophets:

&    NAU Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

 What does it say to you about God's plans that He made all these promises long before Jesus came? 

 

 Read Isaiah 53. What does it mean that Christ's suffering and death are so carefully described long before it happened?  What does the passage itself tell us the servant's suffering will accomplish?

 

2.  Jesus is fulfillment of the promise.  He is the path to heaven!

 

When the time was right God sent His Son into the world.

 &    NAU Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,

Some unique features of the time contributed to the fulfillment of Jesus' mission.  Jerusalem sat at the crossroads of the Roman empire between Rome to the west, Egypt to the south, and the lands of the middle east.  The Roman emperor had just recently began a series of reforms which had increased peace and prosperity in the empire.  Crime had been reduced and travel was much safer than before.  The people of the empire spoke a common language.  All these factors would help to speed to proclamation of Jesus' death and resurrection once His work was completed by the first apostles and missionaries.   

 

Jesus is the one promised Savior who would take away the sins of the world.  There is none other.  There is no other needed.

&    NAU John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

&    NAU John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

&    NAU John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

What do these passages say concerning religions and spiritual efforts that do not depend upon faith in Jesus?

 

 

3.  Salvation is His gift to us

 

Through Jesus our sin is forgiven.  He took our sin upon Himself, its burden, and its punishment.  He endured death upon the cross that we might having our sins removed from us, be granted eternal life.

 

&    NAU Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE" --

Why do you think Scripture describes Jesus as "having become a curse for us"?

 

Lutheran believe we are saved by grace alone!  Salvation is God's gift to the us simply because He loves us.  It is a free gift.

 &    NAU Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 &    NAU Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

 Notice that in the Ephesians passage, the stress is that we are saved by grace through faith.  "It is the gift of God."

Is salvation a gift of God?   Yes  No

Are we saved through faith? Yes  No

Think carefully in light of this passage.  Is faith a human work, (such as an exercise of will or decision) or a gift of God?  human work  gift of God

 

4.     Some Common Misconceptions

 

Fallacy 1:  We must earn salvation.  Getting to heaven is about being good.

 

It is common misconception that God takes good people to heaven and send bad people to hell.  Many people think that the Bible is guide to help us be better people.  Some believe that if we attain a certain level of holiness, then we are rewarded with eternal life.  But what does the Bible say?  Lets look in detail at part of Romans Chapter 3:

&    19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;

Is everyone accountable to God and His law?  Are there any excuses for our behavior?

&    20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

The law does not enable us to do what we should.  It tells us what we should do, but because of the corruption of our hearts, we cannot keep it.  And show it winds up showing us our sins. 

How might the law show us our sins?  (hint Romans 7:7)

&    21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

 "Law and Prophets" here refers to what we call the Old Testament.  This was the Jewish way of referring to these Scriptures. 

There is hope.  A righteousness is available to us.  Not one that we create or work for.  It is a righteousness that is from God.

 Notice that this passage indicates two important words from God -- the "Law" which tells us what to do but which we cannot do, and the "righteousness of God" manifested in the Scriptures but not in words of the Law.  Lutherans and others call this "Law and Gospel".

What does the "Law do"?

What does the Gospel do?

&    22a even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; ;

 This righteousness is found only in Christ.  It is His righteousness that is offered to us.  It is received through faith. 

 Where is righteousness found that leads to salvation?

&    22b-23 for there is no distinction, or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Can salvation be earned?  Can anyone earn salvation?

 

 

&    24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

 To be justified is to be declared "not guilty" of crime and absolved of all guilt and punishment. 

How is a Christian justified in God's sight?

 

&    25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.

 

This gift is none other than Jesus' death for us on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. 

 

Fallacy 2:  We must give our hearts to Jesus and make a decision to follow Him.

 

Perhaps you have been invited to come to an altar and "give your heart to Jesus"  Perhaps someone has asked when did you become a Christian, meaning when did you give your heart to Jesus. 

 

Is our status with God dependent upon our making a decision or exercising our will to follow Jesus?

 

&    John 1:12-13  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

It is true that salvation depends upon "receiving" Jesus through faith, but that reception is not dependent upon our decision, but upon the work of God.

 

Jesus used a metaphor to describe how we are saved.

 

&    NAU John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

 

One must be born again. How much do we have to do with being born the first time?

 

&    NAU John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

 

Being born again is the work of God inside of us, not the work of the human will to decide to follow God.  We are born again through the intervention of the Holy Spirit who moves us to have trust in the gift of forgiveness from Jesus.

 

This gift is none other than Jesus' death for us on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. 

 

Fallacy 2:  We must give our hearts to Jesus and make a decision to follow Him.

 

Perhaps you have been invited to come to an altar and "give your heart to Jesus"  Perhaps someone has asked when did you become a Christian, meaning when did you give your heart to Jesus. 

 

Is our status with God dependent upon our making a decision or exercising our will to follow Jesus?

 

&    John 1:12-13  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

It is true that salvation depends upon "receiving" Jesus through faith, but that reception is not dependent upon our decision, but upon the work of God.

 

Jesus used a metaphor to describe how we are saved.

 

&    NAU John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

 

One must be born again. How much do we have to do with being born the first time?

 

&    NAU John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

 

Being born again is the work of God inside of us, not the work of the human will to decide to follow God.  We are born again through the intervention of the Holy Spirit who moves us to have trust in the gift of forgiveness from Jesus.

How does the Holy Spirit move us to faith?

 

&    NAU Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

 

Faith is not a human decision, it is the response of trust to God's decision to save us as a free gift.

 

Fallacy 3  God does His part and we do our part and therefore make it to heaven.

 

This third fallacy teaches that God gives us a little grace to get us started and we respond with good works.  Then God rewards us with a little more grace.  And the process cycles until we attain a certain level of holiness and so earn heaven.

 

But what does the Bible say about how we are saved?

 

&    NAU Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

 

&    NAU Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

 

One is either dead (in bondage to sin and unbelief) or alive (trusting in the promise of Jesus).  There is no middle ground.

 

Salvation does not depend on us, it depends on God.  It is His free gift to us.

 

&    NAU Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

Notice that salvation, including the faith which receives it, is the gift of God. 

 

Fallacy 4:  We don't have to do good works at all.

 

In the first lesson we talk about three uses of the law.  1. Curb  2. Mirror  3. Guide.

 

While we can never follow the law perfectly and so attain heaven, as Christians moved by God to faith through His grace, we are also granted a new start on life even in this world. 

 

God does not save us through our good works, but when He saves us, it makes a difference in us.  We are new people

 

&    NAU 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

 

&    NAU Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

 

Does that mean Christians will be perfect?  While we may find ourselves improving in obedience to God, the struggle is one of a lifetime. 

 

&    NAU Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

 

The key to remember is that our salvation does not depend on how "holy" we become.  Rather, our actual holiness is a fruit of the work of the Spirit inside our lives because we have already been saved.

 

&    NAU John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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