Lesson 7

Grace

(Isaiah 53, Romans 5-7)
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Introduction: When a Jewish friend of mine discussed religion with me, he claimed that Christians "highjacked" his religion. In response, I would say we "completed" his religion. To make the logical point, I would ask him what the sanctuary service and the offering of the lamb was all about? If it was merely about killing animals to take away sin, why not carry on with the tradition? A temple is not necessary to have sacrifices! Consider this: Judaism, Islam and Christianity all accept the Old Testament as the word of God, but it is only Christianity that completes the logical connection to grace. Jesus, the Lamb of God, takes away our sins. That is what the Old Testament sanctuary service was all about! Let's jump right into our study of grace!

  1. Grace Predicted


    1. Recently, I had a couple of people suggest to me that the link between Jesus and the prophecies of the Old Testament is weak. Let's explore this by reading Isaiah 53. Read Isaiah 53:1. What problem do we find in this verse? (That Isaiah (God's prophet) has a message that has not been universally accepted.)


      1. What has God's arm got to do with the message? Normally, people speak through their mouth! ("God's arm" is a symbol for God's power. This is a message about the power of God.)


    2. Read Isaiah 53:2. Have you ever wondered why Jesus did not come to earth as a majestic being or at least as a prince or king? That would have given Him instant credibility. (Jesus came in a odd way - according to human logic. But, this was foretold by Isaiah.)


    3. Read Isaiah 53:3-5. How strong do you think the link is between the life of Jesus and this prophecy? (It says specifically that Jesus was "pierced for our transgressions." Compare John 19:18 & 34 to show that Jesus was not simply pierced with a spear, but He was crucified - nailed to the cross.)


    4. Read Isaiah 53:6-7. How does this text compare to the Old Testament sanctuary service? (It specifically compares Jesus not simply to a lamb, but one used in temple sacrifices because it says "the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.")


    5. Read Isaiah 53:12. What did Isaiah prophecy that the Messiah would do for you and me? (That He gave His life to bear my sin and make intercession for me.)


      1. Friend, can you doubt that Jesus is the lamb spoken about in Isaiah - a book which the three main religions of the world believe to be God's word?


  2. Grace Understood


    1. Read Romans 5:18-20. What did you do to cause the condemnation of Adam and Eve to fall upon you? (Be born? The text says condemnation fell on "all men.")


      1. What did you do to cause the obedience and righteousness of Jesus to fall on you? (Be born? The text says "justification that brings life for all men.")


        1. Does this mean our salvation is automatic?


    2. Read Romans 6:1-5. Does this text suggest that any action is necessary on our part to participate in the grace given by Jesus? (It does. It suggests that we opt into grace by being "buried" with Jesus through baptism so that we can live a new life.)


      1. The Romans 6:1 question is really quite odd. Why would Paul even consider asking such a question, much less starting this section of his logic with it? (This is one of the strongest arguments that grace comes without being earned by good behavior. The conclusion (from Romans 5) is so strong that our actions have nothing to with earning our salvation that Paul feels forced to say "Wait! This does not mean that you should keep sinning to keep grace flowing!)


      2. Does this make sense to you based on the Old Testament sanctuary model? Did the person who brought the lamb to be slain in the temple "merit" the forgiveness of sins? Did that person "merit" righteousness? (No. They simply came with a sacrifice and claimed its benefit.)


    3. Read Romans 6:15-17. What reason does a benefactor of grace have to obey God? (Because we have chosen Him and given our allegiance to His system.)


      1. Consider this a moment: if you had this attitude which Romans describes, would you consider any of God's rules to be a limit on your freedom?


      2. Is there something that you would like to do if you could "suspend the rules" for a period of time? Some person with whom you would like to have an affair? Some item you would like to steal? Some selfish act that would make others admire you? Some revenge that you would like to take?


        1. If your answer to any of these is "Yes, I'd like to suspend the rules for a year," ask yourself why God has His rules? (Satan tries to mask the fact that God's rules are for our benefit.)


        2. Or, is it just a natural impulse of our sinful heart to want to sin?


        3. If sin is something that we would like to do, if the rules were suspended, why did Jesus suffer so terribly for sin? Why did a lamb, much less God, have to die - and die painfully? (This is the counterpoint to God's love. We think that sin will bring us joy, but what Satan really has in mind for us is what he did to Jesus. If we could just see clearly the goals of God and the goals of Satan, we would run from sin.)


    4. Read Romans 7:1-4. Does the law bind us? (No. It binds us no more than we are bound by our marriage vows when our spouse dies.)


      1. What does verse 4 mean when it speaks of "belong[ing] to another" or "bear[ing] fruit to God?" (We have a new obligation of some sort.)


      2. At this point are we living a sin-free life? (Read Romans 7:21-25. You should read all of Romans 7 to get the correct sense of this. Paul appears to say that even when we are under grace, we struggle with sin.)


        1. Why is there a struggle if the law has died in our life?


    5. Read Romans 8:1-14. This is a very long reading, but I think it is necessary to understand grace. Now that we are not bound by the law, does our conduct matter? Does our attitude matter? (Yes! "If you live according to your sinful nature you will die." Once the Holy Spirit convicts us that God loved us so much that He died for us; once the Holy Spirit convicts us that Jesus suffered the natural penalty for our sin - and that we died to sin in Jesus; once the Holy Spirit convicts us that God's law is only for our good and that Satan has only harm for us in mind, then we have a desire to live in accordance with God. We have our mind set on what the Holy Spirit desires.)


      1. How important is Sabbath-keeping to this new life? (Some would say this is the essence of trying to live by the law. But, the Sabbath re-energizes us to the Spirit-led life. It reminds us that Jesus created the world (thus showing His authority over us), it reminds us that He lived, died and rose from the grave for us (thus showing His love and our rescue), it sets apart time for us to set our minds on what the Spirit desires.)


    6. Friend, will you today give your attitude to God? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you set your mind on what God desires? Will you turn away from your sinful nature?


  3. Next week: Rest.

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