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2 THE HEART OF GOD

DISCOVER
God is love in the most personal,
other-centered and beautiful sense imaginable.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?
A Swedish couple attempted to name their child, "Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116," to be
pronounced, "Albin." They stated that the unusual name was "a pregnant, expressionistic development that we
see as an artistic creation." The court in Sweden that makes rulings on such matters said something like, "Um, okay
… NO," and ordered them to come up with a different name for the child. Turns out, the name carried a more
deliberate message. The couple chose the strange name as a protest against the Swedish government's naming
law, which gives the state the final say on whether a name chosen for a child is acceptable.

Everyone has name, and everyone's name means something (Google will tell you what yours means, if you don’t
already know). This is especially true in the Bible. Every name carries a message, revealing something about the
character or story of the one who bears the name.

"Adam" means of the earth, and the Bible says that God created him from — you guessed it — the earth.

"Jacob" means deceiver, and we see this character trait played out in his life's experience.

"Israel" means one who prevails with God, and that was the name God gave Jacob once he told the truth and
overcame his deceptive tendency.

You get the point: in Scripture names carry meaning.

The first time we meet "God" in the Bible is by a very specific and peculiar name that reveals the most incredible
thing imaginable about the Creator:

"In the beginning _____________ created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

You likely wrote the word "God" in the blank, as most Bible versions indicate you should. But in original language
of the text (Hebrew), it's not the generic word "God," as if to say, "In the beginning Deity created the heavens and
the earth." Rather, it's a proper name, and the name is Elohim. But there is something odd about the name: it's
plural noun, which would be like your neighbor introducing himself to you by saying, "Hi, I'm Johns." Tilting your
heard with confusion, you might think he was just a very poor student of basic grammar, or perhaps that he was
imagining himself to be more than one person. Whatever the case, you certainly would not take his plural
introduction to be an accurate description of himself.

Why?

Because there is no coherent sense in which an individual human being can be named as a plural person. And yet,
this is precisely how God introduces Himself to us in the first verse of the Bible — as a plurality of being in some
sense. The idea is made all the more certain later in Genesis 1:

"Then God [Elohim] said, 'Let _______make man in _______ image'" (Genesis 1:26).
There is some sense in which God is composed of an Us and an Our, not merely an I and a Me. God's own reality,
apart from and before Creation, involves a plurality of personhood. God is Elohim—the Plural one.

ONE, AND YET MORE THAN ONE


While the idea of one God involving more than one personal being may sound strange at first, we begin to
understand what it means when we take into account the most fundamental and essential truth about God stated
in Scripture:

"God is love" (1 John 4:16)

Meaning what, precisely?

When the Bible uses the word "love," it means something very specific:

"Love is … not self-seeking" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV).

Love, by definition, is self-giving and other-centered. So in order for love exist, there must be more than one
person; there must be a relationship. If you lock yourself alone in a room and stay there for the rest of your life,
you will never experience love for the simple reason that a solitary self cannot experience love. It logically follows,
then, that since "God is love," God is more than one personal being while at the same thing existing as one
essential divine entity.

In other words, God is not a solitary self, but rather a social unit of self-giving love in perpetual motion.

Throughout the Bible God is described as one God and yet more than one: God the Father, God the Son, and God
the Holy Spirit. The Father is God (Isaiah 64:8; John 3:16), and yet not all there is of God. The Son, Jesus Christ, is
God (John 1:1; Philippians 2:5-6), yet not all there is of God. The Holy Spirit is God (Job 33:4; Luke 1:35), yet not all
there is of God. This is why we call God a Trinity, or a Tri-unity—because God is an eternal fellowship shared by
three distinct divine persons who are of one essential nature, one in purpose, mind, and character.

There is a pure, self-evident genius to the fact that the Bible identifies God as three who are one. Let's think
through the relational logic of three persons. Before reading the next paragraph discuss the following situation: a
close friendship exists between two people, and then a third person enters the picture. What are the possible
relational dynamics that may occur?

We sometimes say, "Two's company, three's a crowd." The reason we regard this a truism of life is because we
know that we are naturally self-centered and therefore threatened by the introduction of a third person into a
relationship. Perhaps you remember having a best friend, only to have a third person come along and leap into
your nice little relational enclosure. Suddenly, your friend's focus was divided. And yet, a third person is actually
what's best for the relationship, because if the third person is accepted, self-centeredness will have to give way to
a more selfless quality of love. Now you not only have to receive the love of your first friend you also have to
accept that your first friend is also friends with another. You have to accept that all the attention is not focused on
you. For this reason, three is the minimum numeric value of love in its purest form. Where there is only one
person, love cannot occur. Where there are two, each is the sole recipient of the other's attention, giving potential
for self-centeredness. But the moment there are three, each recipient must also humbly defer attention to the
third party, and each one must occupy the position of the third person to the other two. Pure selflessness can now
occur.

If God were an absolute singularity, a solitary self with no eternally coexisting others, it could not be said with any
coherence that "God is love." The Bible's relationally logic picture of God as a three-way unity of perfect love is
convincing evidence that the Bible is, in fact, a true revelation of the one and only true God. Yes, aspects of this
truth are beyond our comprehension. After all, this is God we're talking about. We are mere finite creatures
attempting to comprehend the infinite. And yet, when we know God as three personal beings who are eternally
one in nature and character, we can begin to comprehend that God is a fundamentally relational being, a blissful
friendship of self-giving love. And if that's who God is, what's not to like? Suddenly, in the light of such beauty, we
find ourselves attracted to God.

CONNECT
Jesus' life on earth demonstrated the sublime
and glorious truth of god's relational love.

According to the Bible, Jesus came into our world from having preexisted for all eternity past "in the bosom of the
Father" or, as another translation say, "in closes relationship with the Father" (John 1:18, NIV). Speaking to the
Father of the relationship they had before His incarnation, Jesus said, "You loved me before the foundation of the
world" (John 17:24). Then Jesus expressed to the Father His hope regarding humanity: "that the love with which
You loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26).

What beautiful insight regarding who God is and what He desires for us!

God is more, far more, than a powerful Supreme Being ruling over the universe with authority. God is epicenter
and origin of all true and tender and trustworthy friendship. "God is love" —Father, Son and Spirit—and the
essence of their desire is that each of us would come to know them and become partakers and reflectors of their
love.

EXPERIENCE
Wow! God is more beautiful than I thought. I can believe
in a God like this, and I'm eager to know more about Him.

From the moment we exit the womb into the world, we are hungry for connection with others. We live our lives
craving friendship, loyalty, affection and trust. We are, at heart, relational creatures because we were made in the
image of a relational God. All of our good and loving and beautiful human relationships are whispering to us of the
relationship God is inviting us into with Himself.
3 THE IMAGE OF GOD

DISCOVER
If we humans are mere animals, then a short life of animal
urges and the finality of death are all we can hope for.
But if humanity was created in the image of God,
then dignity, nobility, and eternal bliss may be ours.

DIVERGENT STORIES
The Bible poses a question that we all ask in one form or another at some in our lives:

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
_______ is _______ that you are _______ of him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)

Here, King David stands in wonder at the vastness of the universe and he feels quite small by comparison. And yet,
he also has a sense that he is hugely significant in God's estimation. The question David has is simple, yet
profound: what is our essential identity as mankind and why is God interested in us?

One popular story about human identify goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was nothing—no time,
no space, no matter. Then, suddenly, about 13.9 billion years ago, there was a massive explosion from the
nothingness, and from nothing came everything, including us. Life is a biological fluke generated by a blind and
brutal evolutionary process, void of any transcendent meaning or lasting significance. We live by the law of
selfishness, we grab what we can, we die, and that's that. In due course, the human race and all other life forms
will go extinct and the universe will implode on itself and return to the cold nothingness it once was. The end.

Not such a happy ending—or middle, or beginning, for that matter.

The Bible tells a radically different and, perhaps you will find, a more believable story. More believable because it
harmonizes with our deeply embedded sense that we are something more than mere animals. We sense that we
are conflicted creatures who have fallen from some elevated position of moral dignity, and that we are fraught
with immense potential for relational bliss. So what does the Bible teach regarding the identity of humankind?

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1)

That's how the story begins. Chapter one of reality opens with the intentional creative act of a personal God. As
the creation account of Genesis unfolds over the course of six days, a beautiful material environment takes shape
until, at the climax of it all, we read:

"God [Elohim] created man in His own _______; in the _______ of God He created him; _______ and _______ He
created _______. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'be fruitful and multiply'" (Genesis 1:27-28).

Here we see that the image of God is composed of both the man and the woman as a relational unit with the
ability of procreate a growing community of third-party relational circles. This makes total sense because, as we
have previously discovered, God is a relational circle rather than a solitary self. In other words, "God is love" (1
John 4:16), which means that God is self-giving and other-centered. So when the Bible says that human beings are
creatures of divine image, it means that we possess the capacity to love like God loves.
Think this through: as God ventured forth with creation, only three conceivable possibilities lay before Him. He
could create (1) machines, (2) slaves, or (3) free moral agents. Only the third option would be consistent with the
aspirations of love. And so, here we are, beings of huge and magnificent significance, beings who possess the
power to create real effects by our choices, effects that ripple into eternity with never-ending impact. We are
beings endowed with astounding uniqueness of individual personhood.

Compare Psalm 139:1-13, Psalm 56:8, Jeremiah 31:3, Matthew 10:29-31, and Acts 17:26-28 to discover how truly
significant each of us is to God. Discuss what it means for God to be paying attention to our every thought and
action with interest, for God to notice all our tears, for God to have every hair on our heads numbered, and for
God to providentially orchestrate key events of our lives with the hope that we would seek Him and find Him.

Each human being's life carries what Paul calls "an eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17) —a weight of moral
and relational significance that only eternity itself can measure. The influence exerted by each of our lives will
never reach final calculation, but rather will ripple forever with effect. It lies within our power as human beings
made in God's image to actualize events and relationships of everlasting beauty that cannot come to pass apart
from our individual choices.

Every act of love you perform constitutes an infinite moral good that makes a difference to the course of history
and, therefore, to the eternal scheme of reality itself. If you speak a word of encouragement to a heavy heart, it
matters on a grand and infinite scale. If you visit a suck person and envelop their heart in compassion, that deed
means something of staggering eternal worth. If you feed a hungry child, doing so constitutes a crucial experience
of generosity in that child's existence, as well as in God's existence as the One who loves that child as Himself. It is
a marvelous and weighty thing to be a human being created in the image of God.

BUT AREN'T WE MERE ANIMALS?


Atheism is becoming increasingly popular in some circles due to the story of evolution being told by secular
science. But is it rationally sound to deny the existence of God? And what are the implications of doing so?

If God does not exist, then human beings are nothing more than biological animals, mere material creatures
governed by the instinct of self-preservation, here today and gone tomorrow. To accept this view of human
identity would be to accept that life has no ultimate meaning, that the moral categories of good and evil do not
actually exist, that all our notions of compassion, justice and goodwill are false constructs we've made up, and that
love is merely a powerful illusion. But we sense in our inmost hearts that this is not the case.

Consider this challenging insight from the Bible regarding atheism:

"The _______ has said in his hear, there is no _______" (Psalm 14:1)

The text isn't meant to be a demeaning jab at the atheist, but rather a rational observation regarding the logical
incoherence of atheism. Of course, many intelligent people refuse to believe in God because religion has often
made God appear ugly and only worthy of unbelief. But here in Psalm 14:1 the Bible is offering an analytical
observation regarding the general foolishness of denying God's existence. It is foolish to say, "there is no God," for
the simple reason that if God did not exist it would never occur to us to wonder if He does. The fact is, only that
which exist in some form occurs to human awareness and things that do not exist can never occur to our
awareness. It is impossible for the human awareness and things that do not exist can never occur to our
awareness. It is impossible for the human mind to conceive of anything that has absolutely no basis in reality. No
negation statement is ever absolutely true. We cannot complete the sentence, "There is no _______," without
reference to existing realities. Even when we construct our wildest fictions, we have simply reassembled pieces of
things that do exist. The fact that we conceive of God at all is evidence that a God of some sort does exist.
It is also intellectually incoherent to deny the existence of God for the simple reason that we all know life does
have meaning, that good and evil do exist, and that we long for a totally trustworthy quality of love that finds no
perfectly satisfying match in the current moral order of our broken world. Atheism is, therefore, counterintuitive
and requires an intellectual and emotional leap away from what we know we are meant to be.

We all have a nagging suspicion, a divinely implanted intuition, that we are meant to be creatures of astounding
nobility and that evil, suffering, and death and unnatural intruders. We can't help but wonder if the reason we so
persistently long for something more is because there is something more.

God "has planted eternity in the human heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT)

There resides within us a sense of eternal realities that we find very difficult to shake off. Because we were made
in the image of God, we can never be truly satisfied unless, and until, we return to God. Only God can fill the God-
shaped hole in our heats.

CONNECT
In Jesus Christ we see what if really means to be
human as humans were originally created to be.

The key word in this study is "image." We've seen that "God made mankind in His own image." As we fast forward
to the New Testament, we encounter strategic uses of the word again, this time pertaining to Jesus Christ as a
new, and restored manifestation of what it means to be human. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul tell us that Jesus "is the
image of God." Hebrew 1:3 states that Jesus is "the brightness of His [God's] glory and the express image of His
person." Jesus now carries the descriptive title, "the image of God," because He is, in His humanity, the new
pattern man. He is, as it were, a fresh enactment of the human experience living once again in God's love as
originally intended.

Now, through identification with Jesus, "as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear
the image of the heavenly man [Jesus]" (1 Corinthians 15:49). The image of God may be restored in us through
coming into trusting association with Christ. As we "behold" Him, Paul explains, we will be "transformed into the
same image, from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

EXPERIENCE
I commit myself to "behold" Jesus and I look
forward to being changed into His image.

To "behold" Jesus simply means to contemplate, examine and become acquainted with His character and teaching.
As we engage our hearts and minds in the transformative task of beholding Him, the Bible promises that God's
image will take on new and living form in our lives.
4 WAR IN HEAVEN

DISCOVER
Our world is at the center of a cosmic conflict between
good and evil with a history that reaches back to an angelic
rebellion. The issue under dispute is the character of God.

THE ORIGIN OF EVIL


The Bible teaches that we humans are not alone in the universe as the only rational, sentient, freewill creatures.
From Genesis to Revelation we encounter an order of beings called angels. We know from Scripture that the
angels predate the existence of humans (Job 38:4-7; Revelation 1:20), that they are numerous (Hebrews 12:22),
powerful and intelligent (Psalm 103:20; Daniel 4:17), that they function within an orderly system of governance
under appointed leaders (Ephesians 3:10; Daniel 7:9-10), that the actively operate within our world, mostly
unseen, but sometimes in visible form (Hebrews 1:14; 13:2), and that the reality of evil that afflicts our world
originated with them (Revelation 12:7, 12).

One of the angels was "Lucifer"—bearer of light—a name bestowed upon Him by his Creator to signify his
character and mission. This exalted being was to occupy a position of intimacy with God and this to be a
preeminent revealer, a teacher of God's character to his fellow angels. Lucifer was "perfect in all" his "ways" (his
patterns of thought, feeling and behavior), "until iniquity was found in" him. At this point he began to bear the
name "Satan," which means adversary. While the image of Satan has been trivialized and fictionalized into a
cartoonish red man with horns and a pitchfork, the biblical picture is of a super powerful, highly intelligent,
magnificently beautiful, and totally non-fictional fallen angel who is the originator of the very real evil that haunts
and hurts our world.

Read and discuss Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. On a separate sheet of paper compose a character profile
of Lucifer.

Self-exaltation was the worm at the core of the evil that Lucifer chose to actualize in himself, leading to the heady
aspiration to displace God from the hearts of his fellow angels and usurp their loyalty. As Lucifer nurtured self-
centeredness in himself, he ceased to reflect the light of God's character and began to attribute to God his own
self-serving motives. The aspiration, "I will exalt" myself, followed by, "I will be like the Most High," indicates that
Lucifer began attributing self-exaltation to the character of God as justification for his own. By denying the
essential goodness of God's character, Satan's course of action was calculated to erode trust toward God and incite
rebellion against Him.

Thus, the Bible inform us that, "_______ broke out in _______ …" (Revelation 12:7).

The word here translated "war" is polemos in the Greek, which is related to words like polemic and politics. This
clues us in on the precise nature of the "war" Satan launched against God. It was not primarily a war of physical
engagement of force of arms. It was a political war, a propaganda campaign, a character assassination scheme.
Satan waged his war by disseminating lies regarding who God is at heart. Thus, he is described as the one who
"deceives the whole world" and as "a liar and the father of it" (Revelation 12:9 and John 8:44)

Put these pieces together and you will discover additional insight into the core issue involved in Lucifer's rebellion:
Ezekiel says that Lucifer was cast out of heaven because he "sinned" (Ezekiel 28:16)

John defines sin as "lawlessness" (1 John 3:4).

And Paul defines God's law as "love" (Romans 13:10)

Clearly, then, Lucifer rebelled against God's law and, therefore, against God's love. He raised changes against God
and against the law of love by which God governs the universe. Whereas the Bible claims that "God is love" and
that His law is, therefore, a law that governs by the principle inherent in love (1 John 4:8; Matthew 22:37-40),
Satan has set out to live without love and portray God's law as a list of arbitrary rules imposed for purpose of
control, but unnecessary as a way of life.

WHY DO EVIL AND SUFFERING EXIST?


At some point in life, every human being asks one of the most pressing and significant of all questions: "Why do
evil and suffering exist?" In what we've discovered regarding the rebellion of Lucifer we have the starting place for
the answer to the question. Now let's go a little deeper by first considering the fact that within the entire scope of
human thought only four basic explanations for the existence of evil are offered:

1. Naturalism (the atheist worldview) says that there is no such thing as evil as a moral category. All there is, is
natural process. Suffering is part of that process and is necessary for the evolution of the strong and the
elimination of the weak.

2. Pantheism (the god-in-all-as-all worldview) says that there is no personal God, but rather that nature itself and
the natural processes of life constitute an impersonal divine force. Evil is viewed as a balancing force in nature
and suffering as the inevitable process of the wheel of life. As in naturalism, there is nothing other than
natural process.

3. Deterministic Theism (the control worldview) says that God's main characteristic is power and His main
objective is control. God predetermines all events, and human beings are merely the subjects upon which His
will acts. Evil and suffering are therefore ordained by God according to His sovereign will.

4. Benevolent Theism (the relational worldview) says that God's main characteristic is love and His main
objective is that we would be voluntary reciprocators of His love. Evil and suffering are, therefore, ultimately
the result of the misuse of freewill for chosen anti-love purposes.

The Bible clearly teaches the fourth option by claiming that love is the fundamental essence of God's identity. It
logically follows from the premise that "God is love," that God is a relational being whose very existence is defined
by a dynamic flow of giving and receiving. It further follows that if love is the essence of God's character, then love
must be God's objective for us, which necessitates that freewill must be granted to us—literally built into the
system of life—in order that love may occur. It becomes evident, therefore, that in seeking to answer the question
of evil's existence, a basic three-part equation logically emerges:

LOVE  FREEDOM  RISK


The risk inherent in freedom with its ideal of love is that free moral agents with their majestic potential for love
might choose selfishness instead. God lives within that risk, as do we, with all its glorious possibilities and horrific
dangers.
In biblical thought, evil is not an eternal principle inherent and necessary to the operations of reality, nor it is God's
will. Rather, evil is the product of personal, free moral agency gone bad, first with angels, and then with human
beings. Speaking of the evil in our world, Jesus said, "An enemy has done this" (Matthew 13:28). In other words,
God is not the source of the bad things in our world. Rather, Satan is, with human consent and cooperation. Thus
Satan's anti-love mode of existence was implemented in our world: "God made people good, but they have found
all kinds of ways to be bad" (Ecclesiastes 7:29, NCV)

Read and discuss Isaiah 14:15-17, Revelation 12:12, 1 Peter 5:8, and Romans 1:28-32 to discover that all evil,
oppression, enslavement, prejudice, hatred, violence, abuse and everything else contrary to love, has its origin in
the principles of Satan's kingdom.

Then read and discuss James 1:17 and Galatians 5:22-23 to discover that everything pure, lovely, liberating, noble,
healing, peaceful, joyous, and beautiful has its origin in the principles of God's kingdom.

This brings us to the final point of the Bible's logic regarding evil, and it is this: because evil is fundamentally
contrary to the character of God and to the natural operations of His love, it is temporary and will ultimately be
eliminated.

"For evildoers shall be _______ _______; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm
37:9).

"They shall not _______ nor _______ in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the
Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9)

As we continue our study of Scripture, truth by truth, point by point, we will discover God's plan for eliminating evil
and restoring other-centered love to human hearts as the only principle of our existence.

CONNECT
Jesus went to battle against Satan on our behalf
and demonstrated the superiority of love over evil.

There are two kingdoms, two antagonistic principles, two diametrically opposed motives contending for the
mastery of our world and every human heart. Jesus leads the kingdom of truth and love. Satan, the adversary of all
that is good and beautiful and true, leads the kingdom of deception and selfishness.

A comparative illustration was offered by Christ: "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his
goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor
in which he trusted, and divides his spoils" (Luke 11:21-22). The "strong man" represents Satan, but Jesus claims to
be "stronger than he." Satan's kingdom is based on deception, self-exaltation, and violence. Jesus' kingdom is
actuated by truth, selflessness, and non-coercive love. When Jesus suffered the murderous rage of humans and
demons at the cross without responding in kind—responding, in fact, with only self-giving love—Satan's kingdom
was conquered and his accusations against the character of God were proven false. By voluntarily dying on the
cross with unyielding love for His enemies, Jesus defeated evil in principle and set in motion a course of
redemption that ensures its ultimate defeat.
EXPERIENCE
I understand that we are involved in a war between
good and evil and that Jesus is the Heavenly
Warrior sent with truth and love to rescue us.

Jesus came to our world to "destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Any of us who so choose may be
empowered by His grace to break free from the bondage of Satan. By His life and death Jesus ignited a revolution
of truth and love that will finally vanquish evil. It lies with each of us to allow Jesus access to our lives so that the
devil's deceptive power may lose its hold on us.

5 THE FALL OF HUMANITY

DISCOVER
The human race as a whole, and each of us as individuals,
are living in the throes of a perceptual, relational.
and moral fall from the beauty of our original state.

A PERCEPTUAL FALL
At the psychological core of the fallen human condition there lies a deeply embedded perceptual distortion. We all
naturally harbor some significant degree of apprehension about God due to the primal lie that was received into
human consciousness by our first parents, Adam and Eve. We pick up the story in Genesis 3:1-5:

"Now the serpent was more _______ than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the
woman, "Has God indeed said,' _______ _______ _______ eat of every tree of the garden?' And the woman said
to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of
the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest your die.' Then the serpent said to the
woman, 'You will not surely die. For _______ _______ that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and
you will be _______ _______, knowing good and evil.'"

First, let's identify who we're dealing with here. The serpent in this account is none other than Satan, the fallen
angel we profiled in our previous study guide. Revelation 12:9 makes this clear:

"So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the _______ and _______ who deceives the whole
world; he was cast out to the earth, and his angels were cast cut with him."

Satan approached humanity with the intent to deceive, this he is called "cunning." The target of his deception is
the human mind and his subject is the character of God. First, he suggests that God is restrictive:

"Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
Actually, God said no such thing. He had, in fact, framed the human situation as one of expansive freedom with a
minor restriction, and that only for the protection of humanity from harmful consequences (Genesis 2:16). Satan
came along and subtly reframed God's word to convey the idea of the total restriction with freedom dropped
completely from the picture.

Secondly, Satan portrayed God as untrustworthy, as a liar:

"You will not surely die." God says you will, but you won't.

Thirdly—and this is the bottom line of the deception—Satan painted God as self-serving, suggesting that He holds
a monopoly on a higher state of being that humanity might access if God weren't keeping it for Himself:

"For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and
evil."

The crucial point to grasp is that the sin problem began with deception regarding the kind of person God is.
Essentially, Satan denied that "God is love" and misrepresented the Creator as a selfish tyrant, which brings us to
the relational aspect of the Fall.

A RELATIONAL FALL
Once the primal lie was received into the mind, or believed, relational breakdown immediately followed.
Continuing in the Genesis account:

"So when the woman _______ that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree
desirable to make one wise, she _______ of its fruit and _______. She also gave to her husband with her, and he
ate. Then the eyes of both of them were _______, and they _______; and they sewed fig leaves together and
made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the
day, and Adam and his wife _______ themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the
garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?' So he said, 'I heard Your voice in the
garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.' And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?' Then the man said, 'The
_______ whom _______ gave to be with me, _______ gave me of the tree, and I ate'" (Genesis 3:6-12).

First we see that the vertical relationship was broken: God and humanity were separated. Because they no longer
believed in the integrity of God's love, they ceased to trust God and ventured out in self-preserving rebellion
against Him. Then, as a direct result, the horizontal relationship between human beings fell apart. When given a
chance to take responsibility, the new natural impulse was to defend self by casting blame on one another, and
ultimately on God. Once they crossed this line, and immediate sense of nakedness, or guilt, came upon them
because now they were living the lie and moving behaviorally in violation against the very design of their nature, a
design that dictated that they live in relational love and trust, which was now broken.

A MORAL FALL
Paul gives us a clear understanding of what sin is when he says:

"All have sinned and _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______" (Romans 3:23).

In the Bible, the word "glory" refers to the radiant outshining of what makes God who God is at heart. It's the inner
content of God's character shining outward in His deeds. It's the way God thinks and feels and behaves.

Discover this biblical idea of "glory" by reading and discussing Exodus 33:18-19.
When Paul says that sin is constituted in falling short of God's glory, he is defining sin as disharmony with the basic
essence of God's character, which the Bible defines as self-giving love (1 John 4:8). So sin is anything that runs
contrary to God's character and thus violates the integrity of His love.

The comparison of the following two scriptures sheds additional light on the precise nature of sin:

"Sin is transgression of the _______" (1 John 3:4, KJV).

And "love is the fulfillment of the _______" (Romans 13:10).

The Fall of mankind involves moral derangement. Whereas God had created humanity to live in love (relational
faithfulness), the Fall resulted in turning human beings into creatures of anti-love (relational violation). We hurt
one another, we cross moral lines, and we tend to do what fulfills our individual urges at the expense of others. In
short, the Fall of mankind was and I entailed in selfishness taking the place of love as our core motivational
impulse.

By contrast, in Christ we see the crystal-clear truth about God. "You shall know the truth," He said, "and the truth
shall make you free" (John 8:32). Not truths in general or in the abstract, but the truth, singular, about God's
character in contrast to the lie, singular, that Satan has disseminated regarding God. Speaking to the religious
leaders of His day, Jesus highlighted the singular nature of the lie they had believed in contrast to the truth He
embodied:

"You are of your father the devil, and the _______ of your father you want to _______. He was a murderer from
the beginning, and does not stand in _______, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks _______ _______,
he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of _______" (John 8:44).

Notice the connection between deception, desires, and deeds. Buying into Satan's lie regarding the character of
God generates antagonistic desires towards God, which in turn produce rebellious actions against God. Our
thoughts (beliefs) determine our feelings, which determine our actions, which reinforce our thoughts. The Fall of
mankind began with believing falsehood regarding God, which then led to broken trust or emotional disconnect
from God, which then led to moral rebellion on the behavioral level.

CONNECT
Jesus passed over the same ground as Adam
and Eve and maintained relational integrity
on both the vertical and the horizontal planes.
He remained faithful to God and to us.

As Satan came to our first parents subtly tempting them to doubt God's love and cease trusting Him, so also he
came to Christ. According to the account given to us in Matthew 4:1-11, the devil's attack on Jesus took form of
three temptation. In the first two, Satan sought to drive a wedge between Jesus and the Father by casting doubt
upon their relationship: "If you are the Son…"

You're in a predicament, Jesus, but if the Father does love you, then surely, He'll relieve your suffering and protect
you from harm.
If Jesus doubted the Father's love, He would have yielded to the temptation and asserted independence from the
Father. But His confidence in God's love remained unbroken. In the third temptation, Christ was pressed by Satan
to acknowledge his dominance over humanity by worshipping him. If Jesus had yielded, it would have amounted to
an abandonment of humanity for purposes of self-extraction. But His love for us remained constant. Jesus retraced
the steps of our first parents and redeemed their failures. In Him, complete relational integrity is restored.

EXPERIENCE
It is my desire to experience restored trust in my heart
toward God by believing the truth of His love for me.

God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). Coming to know—
not merely factually, but experientially—the truth of who God really is will save us from the perceptual, relational,
and moral effects of the Fall. Thank you, God, for making Your true character known through Christ!

6 THE PROMISED ONE

DISCOVER
The old Testament is a promise of faithful love made
and the New Testament is that promise kept.

THE FIRST GOSPEL PROMISE


Merriam-Webster defines the word promise like this: "a statement telling someone that you will definitely do
something or that something will definitely happen in the future."

The entire Old Testament can be summarized as a promise made by God to keep on loving fallen humanity at any
and all costs to Himself. The New Testament can be summarized as God following through to fulfill that promise in
the life and death of Jesus Christ.

As soon as Adam and Eve believed Satan's lie about the character of God, they ceased to trust their Creator, and
fell into sin, God immediately took the initiate to pursue them and to promise their rescue from the enemy:

"Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, '_______ _______ _______?' So he said, 'I heard Your voice in
the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.' And he said, '_______ _______ _______ that
you were naked? _______ _______ eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?'"
(Genesis 3:9-11).

Here we see God's heart of grace on beautiful display. Of course He knew exactly where they were. As they hid
themselves in the bushes, He could have appeared right behind them, gave a tap on the shoulder, and terrified
them, but He didn't. He could have burst into the garden shouting words of condemnation, but He didn't. He could
have immediately wiped them out of existence, but He didn't. Rather, He came wooing, beckoning, initiating
contact and asking disarming but probing questions to reveal that He meant them no harm, although the lie they
had believed about Him aroused in them the expectation of harm. And then, addressing Satan in their hearing,
God declared what scholars call the first gospel promise:

"I will put _______ between you and the woman, and between your _______ and her _______; He shall bruise
your _______, and you shall bruise His _______" (Genesis 3:15).

Notice the key aspects of the promise:

Enmity: even though humanity had fallen into sin, God would implant within us a sense of hostility toward evil, a
desire for justice, and inclination to resist evil and long for restoration to our original state of innocence. Compare
John 1:9; Romans 7:14-15, 23.

Seed: God will send salvation to the world in the form of a special human Seed (Offspring), in whom the promised
enmity will take on full form in a singular and rippling conquest over Satan. Compare John 14:30; Galatians 3:16;
Hebrews 1:9; 2:14; 1 John 3:8.

Heel: The New International Version is stronger here, saying, "He will crush your head." The Offspring of the
woman will conquer Satan on behalf of humanity. Compare John 12:31-32; Colossians 2:15.

From the initial promise of Genesis 3:15, Scripture proceeds to unfold the Messiah's character and mission with
added detail and deepening insight. Moses foretold that the Promised One would come to the world as a prophet
and as a sacrifice for sin (Deuteronomy 18:15; Leviticus 4:32). King David said the Messiah would undergo horrible
abuse and abandonment (Psalm 22 and 88). Isaiah portrayed Him as a suffering servant and a non-violent
revolutionary who would set in motion an unstoppable movement of justice (Isaiah 42 and 53). Prophet by
prophet, vision by vision, symbol by symbol, song by song, the entire Old Testament spoke the mystery of the
Promised One who would come to disclose God's redeeming love to mankind and, in so doing, unmask the devil's
primal lie leveled against God's character (Genesis 3:1-5).

THE TIME FORETOLD


Six hundred year in advance the prophet Daniel foretold the time when the Promised One would appear on the
public stage to begin His saving work as the Messiah, as well as when He would be crucified. Read the remarkable
prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel and declared, "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your
holy city, to finish the transgression, to make and end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, too bring in
everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy" (verse 24).

Israel is here given a 70-week period of time to fulfill covenant faithfulness with God. In Bible prophecy a day is
equal to a year (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34; Mark 1:15), so 70 weeks equates to 490 years. Gabriel then specified
the specific historic event that would act as the starting date for the prophecy from which we can count forward to
pinpoint the time when Jesus would launch His Messianic career:

"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until
Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two week (69 weeks)" (verse 25).

The command to restore Jerusalem was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in 457 BC (Ezra 7:11-12). Sixty-nine
weeks is equivalent in prophetic time to 483 years. Counting forward 483 years from 457 BC we arrive, remarkably,
at AD 27, the very year Jesus entered the public eye as the Messiah, a title that means "anointed" of God
(Matthew 3:16-17; John 1:29; Acts 10:38).
Gabriel continued to unfold the prophecy to Daniel by stating that "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself"
and that He "shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring and
end to sacrifice and offering." In other words, in the middle of the 70th week—which would be AD 31—the Messiah
will be crucified and, thus, bring and end to the symbolic sacrificial system of Israel. This, by His perfect self-
sacrificing love manifested at the cross, Jesus fulfilled covenant faithfulness to God. Israel as a nation was now
granted the opportunity to receive the Messiah and embrace His covenant faithfulness on their behalf. But,
tragically, they finalized their rejection of the Messiah by the stoning of Stephen as the preached Christ to them, at
which point the 490-year prophecy reached its completion in AD 34 (Acts 7:54-60).

The two most important features of the prophecy are these:

1. Jesus would be "cut off, but not for Himself."

2. By His death he would "confirm the covenant."

The term cut off is normative biblical language intended to convey the idea of complete separation from God. The
word covenant indicated the strongest possible form of commitment—God's "promise" of "faithful love" at any
cost to Himself (Isaiah 54:10; 55:3, NIV). We see, then, that Daniel's prophecy foretold that Jesus, the Messiah,
would voluntarily submit Himself to undergo the most horrific demise possible—complete separation from God
(Matthew 27:46). He would do this, Daniel said, "not for Himself," but, astoundingly, for the fallen human race. He
died "for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; 3:5; 4:10). In so doing, He would
reveal to the world the highest, strongest, and most beautiful manifestation of love imaginable—absolute self-
sacrifice for the eternal well-being of sinful human beings.

The apostle John declared, "By this we know _______, because He laid down His life _______ _______" (1 John
3:16).

And Paul said, "God _______ His own _______ toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died _______
_______" (Romans 5:8).

This is heartbreaking and beautiful point of the entire Old Testament—that God so deeply, so passionately, so
selflessly loves each of us that He was willing to save us at any and all cost to Himself, and the cost was great.

CONNECT
When the Bible says, "God is love," it basically means that God
is relationally faithful to all others at any and all cost to Himself.
The voluntary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the proof.

Promise made!

Promise kept!

That's the whole Bible in a nutshell. In the Old Testament God says, I love you with a faithful, unstoppable love that
will never fail, and in the New Testament God demonstrates the truth of His love in the life, death, and
resurrection of Jesus. When the apostle Paul looks at Jesus, he says, "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes,
and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us" (2 Corinthians 1:20). In other words, in Jesus all God promised
through the prophets is fulfilled. Everything God said He would do, He has done. His love has proven itself reliable,
faithful, true. We can trust Him because He is trustworthy.

EXPERIENCE
I can see that Jesus is God's promise of faithful
love fulfilled, and my answer to Him is yes.

If you really stop and think about it, the most beautiful idea that can be conceived by the human mind is the idea
of a perfectly faithful love. But the thing is, it's not just and idea. The only reason we can conceive of it and desire it
is because it really does exist awaiting our acceptance. Saying yes to Jesus is the first in opening your heart God's
perfectly faithful love.

7 JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF GOD

DISCOVER
There is a secret path that leads to the most incredible
destiny imaginable, and the sanctuary system God gave
to Israel is the map He has provided for the journey.

A SYMBOLIC PATH
Every human being finds himself/herself "lost" on the landscape of reality, sensing that life must mean something
more than this—this emptiness, this brokenness, this addiction, this failed relationship, this ever-present ache—
and yearning for a clear path through life to be a better place, to the freedom and love we know we were made
for. According to the Bible, as we have discovered in previous studies, we were made for a living love-relationship
with our Maker. The problem is, we've been "alienated" from God by "sin" (Ephesians 4:18). The Bible says, "Your
_______ has _______ between you have your God" (Isaiah 59:2).

Graciously, God has provided a kind of spiritual map to mark out the steps of the journey He has taken to save us
and that we are called upon to make in following Him. He has given us this map in an ingeniously simple yet
powerful object lesson called "the sanctuary."

"Your _______, oh God, is in the _______" (Psalm 77:13).

The Hebrew word here translated "way" is derek, which means path and carries the idea of making a journey.
According to scripture, then, the sanctuary depicts a path. Not a literal path, of course, but an experiential journey
we are invited to embark upon, moving from our lost, alienated condition into a restored relationship with God.
So, let's map out the journey.

First, we notice that the sanctuary was comprised of three basic spaces or areas that were accessed through three
veils, with six pieces of symbolic furniture to be encountered along the way (Exodus 26-27).

1. The Courtyard, with its (a) brass altar of sacrifice and (b) laver, or pool, of washing.

2. The Holy Place, furnished with (c) the table of shewbread, (d) the seven-branched candlestick, and (e) the altar
of incense.

3. The Most Holy Place, which contained (f) the Ark of the Covenant.

Each area symbolized a specific phase of the plan of salvation, and each piece of furniture symbolized a specific
aspect of Christ's ministry to sinners, especially to those who follow Him on the journey. Using the following New
Testament verses, what does each piece of furniture in the sanctuary teach us about Jesus and the plan of
salvation?

Each of the three phases of the sanctuary could only be accessed through a veil, which pointed to Jesus, who said
of Himself, "I am the _______. If anyone _______ by Me, he will be saved" (John 10:9).

Applying the symbolism of the sanctuary, the apostle Paul said that through Jesus we have "a new and living
_______ which He consecrated for us, through the _______, that is, His _______" (Hebrews 10:20).

The main ceremony of the sanctuary was the sacrifice of the lamb on the brass altar. Pointing to Jesus as the
sacrifice for our sins, John the Baptist proclaimed, "Behold! The _______ of God who takes away the sin of the
world" (John 1:29).

The laver, or pool, that was used for ceremonial washing teaches us about, "The _______ of _______ and _______
of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).

The table in the Holy Place that was kept supplied with fresh bread pointed to Jesus, who said, "I am the _______
of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).

The seven-branched lampstand was kept burning to provide light in the sanctuary. Jesus said of Himself, "I am the
_______ of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).

The altar of incense pointed to a specific aspect of Christian experience: "He was given much incense, that he
should offer it with the _______ of the saints" (Revelation 8:3).

The Ten Commandments, God's ten eternal laws of love engraved on stone tablets, were kept in the Most Holy
Place inside a golden box called the Ark of the Covenant. But ultimately this symbolized God's desire to put the Ten
Commandments somewhere else: "I will put my laws into their _______, and their _______ I will write them"
(Hebrews 10:16).

THE DAILY AND THE YEARLY


Within the unfolding of its annual symbolic cycle of ceremonies, the sanctuary depicted the entire story of
redemption. All the vital dimensions of God's plan to save humanity and eradicate evil were revealed in a series of
symbolic enactments. The sanctuary was placed at the center of Israel's encampment. From north, south, east and
west the high shite linen wall surrounding the temple could be seen by all, communicating the sobering reality that
sin has separated human beings from God, but that God has made a way of redemption by which the relationship
may be restored.
The Daily Service (Leviticus 1-4): Each day, morning and evening sacrifices were made for the sins of the people in
general. Also, individual Israelites would bring their spotless sacrificial animals to the priest. Placing both hands on
the head of the innocent victim, confession of sin was made, symbolizing the transfer of guilt from the sinner to a
substitute. Then, the sinner would perform the horrific act of slitting the throat of the animal, indicating that our
sin would cost God suffering and death. Some of the blood was caught in a bow by the priest. The slain lamb was
placed on the brass altar and burned to ashes. Now the sinner was free from the burden of guilt. The priest would
then continue the symbolic process by washing his hands and feet in the water for the laver. Then, he would take
the bowl of blood into the Holy Place. Once there, the act was deliberate and meaningful. He would dip his fingers
in the blood and sprinkle it on the veil before the Most Holy Place, repeating the act seven times, this indicating as
a prophetic promise that a perfect atonement for sin was to be made by the shed blood of the Messiah. Day by
day throughout the year the ceremony was repeated.

The Yearly Service (Leviticus 16): Then, one day each year was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this climactic
day a special ceremony was enacted to symbolize the ultimate resolve of the sin problem, the full restoration of
the broken relationship between God and mankind, and the total eradication of evil. "God inscribes each person's
fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah (the start of the new year), and waits
until Yom Kippur to seal the verdict" (Wikipedia.org, the Yom Kippur entry). So the Day of Atonement was the day
of final reckoning or judgement, on which each person's case was sealed. As all day of Israel gathered before the
sanctuary, two goats were brought to the high priest. One was designated "for Lord" and the other as "the
scapegoat," Azazel in Hebrew. The Lord's goat was slain, pointing forward to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Some of its blood was brought into the Most Holy Place and sprinkled seven times on the mercy seat over God's
broken law of love, thus indicating that complete and final atonement was made for all the sins Israel had
confessed throughout the year in the daily service. Then the high priest placed both hands on the scapegoat and
confessed over it all the sins of the people. However, Azazel' vs goat was not slain. Rather, it was led into "an
uninhabited land," to perish in "the wilderness" alone, by implication. Since the scapegoat was explicitly not the
Lord's goat, and since its blood was not shed as a sacrifice, Azazel must symbolize another figure that bears
responsibility for the existence of evil and the fall of humanity. The ancient Hebrew people and Jewish scholars to
this day have understood that Azazel represents Satan, the originator of evil and the tempter of mankind (see
wikipedia.org, the Azazel entry). Thus, the Day of Atonement symbolized the final segment of human history when
sin and Satan, the originator of evil, will be finally and fully eradicated.

Discussion: If the death of Christ on the cross fulfills the Courtyard phase of the plan of salvation, and if the
ascension of Christ as our High Priest fulfills the Holy Place phase, what part of salvation history we are not living in
that would correspond to the Most Holy Place? See Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 14:6-7; Hebrews 10:1-25.

CONNECT
In one epic burst of luminous glory, all the symbols of the
sanctuary converge in Christ with perfect fulfillment.

We've read in Psalm 77:13, "Your way, oh God, is in the sanctuary." Jesus said of Himself, "I am the way, the truth,
and the life. No man comes to the Father except by Me" (John 14:6). Describing the journey, He made from the
Father to us and back again, Jesus said, "I come forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave
the world and go to the Father" (John 16:28). Picturing the journey depicted in the sanctuary, we see that Jesus
came from the Most Holy Place into our separated encampment here on earth. Then He made the journey back to
the Most Holy Place on our behalf, inviting us to follow Him on the path He has marked out for us: through the veil
into the Courtyard to encounter His selfless death for us at the altar of sacrifice, onward to the laver for moral
cleansing, into the Holy Place to partake of the bread of life, to the seven-branched lampstand to experience the
illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit, to approach God through Him in prayer at the altar of incense, and
ultimately to enter the Most Holy Place to have His law of love written in our hearts.

EXPERIENCE
I want to take this journey to the heart of God symbolized
by the various steps depicted in the sanctuary.

What an amazing thing it is that God would love me so much that He would make a way for me to be fully restored
to fellowship with Him. "O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for
You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So, I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power
glory …My soul follows close behind You" (Psalm 63:1-2,8).

8 DEATH DEFINED

DISCOVER
One after another, each of us stops breathing. What then?

THE FIRST DEATH


A little boy took a shortcut through cemetery on his way home from school one day. A particular tombstone
stopped him in his tracks. The epitaph offered a taunting message: "As you are now, so once was I, as I am now,
you soon will be, so prepare yourself to follow me." The little boy took a crayon from his bag and wrote on the
stone, "To follow you I'm not content, until I know just where you went."

Death is the most intimidating mystery that confronts us as human beings. We can't help but wonder if this life is
al there is. All of us ask the question at some point, "What happens when we die?" The answer offered in the Bible
astoundingly clear and filled with promise.

First of all, Scripture teaches that there are two kinds of death:

"He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the _______ _______" (Revelation 2:11).

"Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the _______ _______ has no power"
(Revelation 20:6)

If there is a "second death," it logically follows that there must be a first death. Let's explore both.
Carefully read and discuss Luke 8:52-53 and John 11:11-26 to clearly define the first death. From these passages
answer the following three questions:

What is the word Jesus used to define the state of the dead? _______

When did Martha expect Lazarus to be resurrected? _______

What title did Jesus claim for Himself? "I am the _______ and the _______."

Okay, so death is like "sleep" and we can expect to be awakened, resurrected, from death at "the last day." But
let's dig deeper to fill out our understanding of the first death by allowing Scripture to answer a series of questions
for us:

How much do they dead know? Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 _______

Do the dead have any consciousness of God? Psalm 6:5; 115:17 _______

When a person dies, what happens to their thoughts? Psalm 146:3-4 (see KJV on this one) _______

Do the dead return to haunt their houses? Job 7:9-10 _______

Since it is clear that the dead are unconscious and, therefore, cannot communicate with the living, it follows that
those who think the dead are communicating with them are not actually encountering their deceased loved ones.
Who, then, are they encountering in these supernatural experiences?

"When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable
practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an
offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or charmer or a
medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to
the Lord" (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, ESV).

Notice in the above passage that necromancy, or communication with "the dead," was one of the abominable
practices of the pagan nations and that it is listed with practices that include human sacrifice and other occult
activities. This is super significant because the Bible tells us that the "gods" that led the pagan nations in these
practices were actually "demons," or fallen angels, masquerading as gods (Deuteronomy 32:16-17, 21; Psalm
106:36-38). It is clear, then, that the reason God forbids necromancy is because (1) it is impossible to communicate
with the actual dead since they have no consciousness and because (2) "the dead" we think we are communicating
with are actually demons pretending to be our deceased loved ones.

All of this makes perfect sense in the light of the fact that Jesus described the state of the dead with the word
"sleep." In fact, the Bible uses the word "sleep" 54 times to describe the condition of the dead. We are exactly
right when we say of the dead, "Rest in Peace" (R.I.P.), because they are, in fact, in an unconscious state of rest
similar to sleep.

THE SECOND DEATH


What, then, is the second death by contrast to the first? Jesus tells us the basic difference between the two in
Matthew 10:28:

"Do not fear those who kill the _______ but cannot kill the _______. But rather fear Him who is able to _______
both _______ and _______ in hell."

So, the first death is merely the death of the body, but not the soul, whereas the second death involves the
destruction of both body and soul. But what, exactly, does this mean?
The Greek word here translated "soul" is psyche, from which we get words like psychology and psychiatric. "Soul"
is not the best translation. Mind or even whole person would better convey the idea. It refers to what the Bible
elsewhere calls "the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16) and "the spirit of your mind" (Ephesians 4:23). The first death is
the common physical death all human beings die. The second death, by contrast, is the complete destruction of
the whole person on both the physical and the psychological levels, rendering those who suffer the second death
completely non-existent. When a person dies the first death, the Bible says this happens:

"Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

The "dust" refers to the body, which returns to the earth as organic matter after the first death. The "spirit" that
returns to God is what Jesus called the "psyche," or the total content of the person's inner being: personality,
thoughts, feelings, motives—everything that defines the unique identity and moral character of the individual. We
have already discovered that there is no ongoing consciousness in death, so the "spirit" that "returns" to God
when a person dies is simply preserved by God in an unconscious state awaiting the resurrection, when God will
reconstitute the physical body with the spirit, at which point conscious life resumes.

Now notice this crucial statement by Jesus regarding the resurrection:

"The hour is coming in which _______ who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have
done good, to the resurrection of _______, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of _______" (John
5:28-29).

Clearly, then, every person who has ever died the first death will be resurrected, both the good and the evil. The
good will then go on to live eternally with Christ. "Over such the second death has no power" (Revelation 20:6).
The wicked, on the other hand, will be raised to "condemnation"—not condemnation in the simplistic sense of
fingers being pointed at them, but rather, the condemnation of the final judgement, at which point they will face
their life's record and experience in the psyche all the "condemnation" inherent in their sins.

Condemnation is, in fact, a psychological experience rather than a physical one. It happens in the mind. When the
apostle Paul described the final demise of those who are incorrigibly evil, he said they experience "indignation and
wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul (psyche) of man who does evil" (Romans 2:8-9). In other words, the
second death! The psychological weight of their "condemnation" will utterly crush them from the inside out.

In our next study we will discover that Jesus voluntarily suffered this very experience for us when He hung on the
cross and "tasted death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9). He endured the full, horrific reality of our sin and shame
upon His conscience as if He were the guilty one and, thus, He conquered the second death on our behalf.

Discuss the nature of guilt and the effect it has on the mind. What would it be like for a human being to suddenly
experience the total conscious reality of all their sins?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

In summary, every person dies the first death, at which point the body returns to the earth and the spirit returns to
God to be preserved in a sleep-like state for the resurrection. When the righteous are resurrected, they go on to
live eternally with God. When the wicked are resurrected, they experience the full conscious reality of their guilt
and are eternally destroyed, both body and soul. (We will explore the final demise of the wicked in greater detail in
a future study.)
CONNECT
In God's heart there is complete forgiveness for each of us.
We can either hold on to our guilt or we can embrace
God's mercy and be restored to innocence before Him.

Every selfish act a human being commits imposes guilt upon the conscience. Guilt is debilitating because we are
not wired to handle it. If the guilt of our sins is not offloaded from the conscience by repentant acceptance of
God's forgiveness, it remains as a psychological weight in the subconscious mind to be reckoned with in the final
judgement: "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things
done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

God's desire for each of us is liberation from our sin and guilt now, to be completely healed and set free from it all.
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in
whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14). While all of us have
failed, not one of us need bear the burden of our guilt and suffer the second death. Jesus "tasted death for
everyone" (Hebrews 2:9). As our voluntary Substitute, He experience the dark horror of our guilt so that we need
not live another moment in bondage to it. We have the privilege of standing perfectly forgiven through Christ.

EXPERIENCE
I put my complete trust in Jesus as my personal Savior
and I accept God's forgiveness through Him.

As I receive God's forgiveness, I believe that I live under favor in complete innocence before Him. This promise is
for me: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to who the Lord
does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Psalm 32:1-2). Thank You, God, for Your
pardoning love!

9 DEATH DEFEATED

DISCOVER
By the power of self-sacrificing love, Jesus conquered sin
and death on our behalf, His resurrection is proof of that victory.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST
In our previous study we discovered that there are two categories of death. In our previous study we discovered
that there are two categories of death. The first death is common physical death all human beings die. When a
person dies the first death, they rest in unconscious sleep-like state. From the first death all human beings will be
resurrected, "those who have done good, to the resurrection of live, and those who have done evil, to the
resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:29). The righteous, having been restored to innocence and love by God's
saving grace, will enter into eternal fellowship with God. The wicked will stand before God accountable for their
lives and will die the second death—not because God wants them to, but because what they have become through
identification with evil places them fundamentally out of sync with God's love and, therefore, renders them
incapable of living for others. The second death is not merely the death of the body, but the destruction of they
body and the "soul (psyche)" (Matthew 10:28). The second death involves complete moral accountability before
God, in which each individual conscience will bear its own guilt.

With this background understanding of the difference between the first death and the second death, we are now
prepared to explore the death of Jesus and be blown away by astounding magnitude and beauty of His self-
sacrificing love.

Carefully read Matthey 26:36-39, Isaiah 53 and 2 Corinthians 5:21. Especially notice each usage of the word "soul"
and discuss the psychological aspect of the suffering Jesus endured. Also talk about the repeated reference to
Jesus bearing, carrying, and becoming identified with out sin. Answering these questions will help:

Before any physical torture was inflicted on His body, Jesus told His disciples that He was dying at the "soul"
(psyche) level of His being. If not by physical causes, by what lethal force was He dying according to the above
scriptures? ____________________________________________________________________________________

Paul says Jesus "became sin for us" and Isaiah says "He was numbered with the transgressors." Discuss what it
must have been like for Jesus to feel in His own conscience as if He were guilty for our sins. What words come to
mind to describe those emotions?
________________________________________________________________________

Though the Father was right there suffering with Him, Jesus could not feel His presence. Instead, He felt
completely crushed by our guilt as if it were His own. Discuss what it must have been like for Jesus to enter into
the total mental and emotional darkness of separation from the Father.

This brings us to the most astounding reality imaginable. Follow the logic of this next point carefully.

While Jesus had previously spoken confidently of His resurrection (Matthew 17:22-23), now, as He hung on the
cross bearing the crushing weight of our sin upon His conscience, He was enshrouded in mental darkness and felt
completely separated from the Father. Resurrection for Himself now faded from view. Psalm 88 is a Messianic
prophecy that describes just how deep the mental darkness was into which Jesus was plunged:

"For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the
pit; I am like a man who has no strength, adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You
remember no more, and who are cut off from Your hand. You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the
depths. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah…. I am shut up, and I
cannot get out…. Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah. Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or
Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And your righteousness in
the land of forgetfulness?" (verses 3-12)

Wow! Jesus felt as though He was being "shut up" in a death from which He would not "get out," as though He was
dying a death from which there would be no resurrection. For a sustained period of time the separation from His
Father was no complete that He could not see life for Himself beyond the grave.
And yet—don't miss this—Jesus suffered all of this voluntarily. When Peter tried to defend Him with violence,
Jesus said, "Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide me with more than twelve
legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). On another occasion He told the disciples, "No one takes it [My life] from Me,
but I lay it down of Myself" (John 10:18). He did not have to die. He chose to give His life for us. He was not
trapped with no way out. At any point in the process of that monumental self-sacrifice He could have abandoned
us to save Himself. But He would not let us go, simply and profoundly because He literally loves each of us more
than His own existence. In the midst of that dark separation from His Father, He had to decide whether He valued
our eternal life above His own, and He chose us. Jesus demonstrated that He was willing to die forever and never
see the light of the day again in order to save us. Such is the magnitude of God's love for us. Paul called it "love"
that "passes knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). It soars beyond mere intellectual computation and must be received
into the heart in order to be comprehended.

And yet, while Jesus experienced the full, horrific reality of the second death on our behalf, He could not be held
by it.

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST


Scripture declares of Jesus:

"God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep
its hold on Him" (Acts 2:24, NIV)

The question is, Why was it impossible for death to hold Him? To discover answer, we need to understand that
there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between sin and death:

"The wages of _______ is _______" (Romans 6:23).

"For to be carnally minded is _______" (Romans 8:6).

Discuss Romans 8:1-4.

Paul speaks of "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" in contrast to "the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2).
Sin is law, a cause and effect principle that destroys, not an arbitrary category of behaviors forbidden by a
controlling God. Sin itself is intrinsically destructive because sin itself is intrinsically contrary to love, which means
that sin is contrary to the fundamental operations of life as God designed it to function. As such, sin ultimately
leads to death—the second death! —if allowed to run its course.

This is where Jesus enters the picture as our Savior. Paul explains that Jesus "condemned sin in flesh" (Romans
8:3). He conquered sin by having nothing to do with it, by continuing in faithful love for us at any cost to Himself.
Thus, He triumphed over death by rendering sin inoperable and powerless in His experience. He lived a sinless life
and died a sinless death, uncorrupted by selfishness. Sin never owned Him because He never yielded to it. As our
Substitute, Jesus suffered the full weight of our guilt while Himself remaining guiltless, thus neutralizing the power
of sin and death. His resurrection is proof of the victory.

Read and discuss the following scriptures: Hebrews 2:9, 14-15;2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 1:18; 2:11; 20:6.

What did Jesus "taste (experience) for everyone?" __________

What effect did the death of Jesus have on death itself? __________

Who now holds "the keys of hell and of death" and what do "keys" imply? __________

By virtue of the victory of Jesus, how much "power" does "the second death" now have to "hurt" us? __________
Death is a defeated foe! Jesus is Victor, and it is our privilege to receive the incredible benefits of His conquest.

CONNECT
When Jesus died on the cross He demonstrated
the astounding truth that God loves each of us more
than His own existence, and by the power of that
love He conquered sin and death on our behalf.

Because of this resurrection of Jesus, the resurrection and eternal life of all His followers is assured: "Behold, I tell
you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For
this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass
the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Imagine what an incredible
thing it will be when all who have ever died in God's love are resurrected and clothed with immortality. Nothing
this world has to offer can in any way compare to that great and glorious day!

EXPERIENCE
In the light of God's self-sacrificing love for me, I choose
to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and I choose
to live in connection with Him both now and forever.

To think that God values my life more than His own is absolutely amazing. In response to His great love for me, it is
my desire to love Him in return. I want to experience what John describes in 1 John 4:19: "We love Him because He
first loved us." It is clear from this text that accepting His love for me all will generate love in my heart for Him.
Dear God, I ask You to sharpen my vision of Your love and empower me to love You in return.

10 NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST

DISCOVER
We do not earn salvation by rightdoing. Rather, by faith
we receive the salvation already achieved for us in Jesus
Christ, from which the right kind of rightdoing arises.
THE OBJECTIVE FACTS OF THE GOSPEL
The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news, not good advice. The difference between news and advice is that news
proclaims the past and advice prescribes the future; news declares what has been done while advice dictates what
must be done. Every religion, philosophy, and psychotherapy system known to humanity offers moral of
behavioral advice for self-rectification, self-improvement, self-help, and self-healing. There are a lot of sincere,
honest people seeking repair these systems. But the systems themselves all center on what the morally broken
human being must do, ought to do, had better do to fix himself or herself. All of them are fundamentally oriented
towards self as the solution.

With one exception the gospel, or good news, of Jesus Christ.

Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. According to the apostle Paul, what is the basic content of the gospel?
_________________________________________________

The gospel of Christ is a radically different kind of message, solution, and remedy than anything human beings
have come up with (Corinthians 1:18-25). It turns the human attention outward away from self and rivets the focus
on an intervening Savior who gives unconditional love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace as the relational climate in
which deep and lasting transforming can occur from the inside out (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). The gospel tells us what
God has already done for us in Christ and invites us to lodge our trust in Him (Titus 3:3-8). It is not a mandate of
what we need to accomplish for ourselves or for Him. Rather, it is the good news of His accomplishments for us,
and they are incredibly good and beautiful and complete accomplishments.

According to the gospel, the totality of human salvation is an accomplished, past tense, historic reality in the
person of Jesus Christ. In Him we see the objective facts of the gospel. He became a human being. Then, in our
very same human nature, He lived a perfect life of selfless love, died for our sins in our place, rose from the dead,
and ascended to heaven to the victory position at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:3-7; 2:1-10). He did all
of this in our human nature, thus forging out a new humanity on our behalf (1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-47). This is
why Paul describes the accomplishments of Christ in universal terms that encompass humanity as a whole (1
Timothy 4:10). In Paul's thinking, the perfect life of Jesus was lived as a representative life for all human beings; the
resurrection and ascension of Christ was a representative resurrection and ascension for all human beings
(Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

 Paul speaks of the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23). Redemption is an achieved reality in
Christ before it is an experiential reality in us.

 Paul also speaks of the new life that has been "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). The good works God has in mind for us are already
done in Christ. We walk in them after the fact of their creation in Him
 Paul says that because Jesus "died for all, then all died" (2 Corinthians 5:14). In His death all were represented.
In His death Jesus suffered that total horrific reality of our corporate guilt as a race. As our Substitute He died
for us, as us, in our place.

 And finally, Paul says that "God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even
when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and
raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-6). Jesus
died, rose from the grave, and ascended to heave, and because he is there, we are there in Him as our
representative.
All of this, according to Paul, is "the gospel." The historic, objective achievements of Jesus Christ in our very
humanity constitutes the good news of what God has done for the entire human race apart from anything we had
done to earn, merit, or deserve it—purely "because of His great love with which He loved us."

THE SUBJECTIVE FAITH RESPONSE


From the solid foundation of the past tense historic accomplishments of Christ, Paul blinds a natural bridge that
crosses over into the realm of our present tense relational interface with those accomplishments. The objective
fact of redemption in Christ aims to become the subjective experience of redemption in our very hearts and lives.
And faith, Paul explains, is the means by which the human agent engages with the achieved reality of redemption
that exists in Christ. When human beings believe the gospel, they do not manufacture any new facts. Faith does
not make facts, but rather believes, relies upon, and identifies with the facts that are already true in Christ.

Discuss Galatians 2:20, 2 Timothy 1:8-10, and Titus 2:11-14. Answering the following questions will help bring the
truth in these scriptures to the surface:

When Christ was crucified, who was also crucified with Him? _______

What is the motive that drives the new life of faith in Christ? _______

God "saved us" (past tense), and in that saving act He also "_______ us with a holy _______."

What part do our "works" play in God saving us in Christ? _______

To how many human beings does the grace of God appear bringing salvation in Christ? _______

While our good works do not earn salvation, how does God's saving grace teach us to live in the present world?
______________________________________________________________________

ALL THINGS VIEW


The apostle Paul explains just how truly powerful God's love is, and he articulates the transformative effect it has
over those who come under its influence:

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all,
that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore,
from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed
away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through
Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to
Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians
5:14-19).

Discuss this passage line by line and flesh out its beautiful insights with these questions:

What is the compelling motivational power of the gospel? _______

Once we "judge" (discern) that Christ died for all human beings, how will we begin to see people and how will we
cease regarding them? _______

What is God's position toward the world and how does He handle our trespasses (our sins)? _______
How many aspects of our individual lives are made new as we become reconciled to God in response to His
reconciled position toward us? _______.

Essentially what Paul is telling us is that the love of Christ, when perceived and receive, exerts a deeply
transformative power over all dimension of our lives. We cease living for ourselves and being living for Him,
moved by His love for us. And we cease relating to other human beings "according to the flesh," or from our
natural self-centeredness. Rather, we begin seeing them in the light of the fact that Jesus died for them, and we
relate to them according to their potential if they could just be reconciled to God.

CONNECT
By His perfect life of love, His self-sacrificing death
on the cross, His resurrection and ascension to the
right hand of the Father, Jesus achieved salvation
as the new representative head of humanity.

As the first man, Adam was the representative head of the human race. Through Adam, humanity was plunged
into sin, guilt, and death. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains that Jesus came to our world to be, as it were, "the last
Adam …the second Man …the heavenly Man." He came to redeem Adam's failure: "For since by man (Adam) came
death, by Man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the deed." Paul makes a comparison and a contrast between
Adam and Christ as two representatives of two distinct human experiences: the first man, Adam, was the source of
humanity's Fall; the second man, Christ, is the source of humanity's redemption. Each of us is free to identify with
the first Adam or the second Adam. Regarding those who identify with the second Adam, Paul says, "as is the
heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall
also bear the image of the heavenly Man" (verses 21-22, 44-49). In other words, those who identify with Christ will
be restored to His image.

EXPERIENCE
By faith I choose to identify with Christ as my
representative Head before God and as the kind
of human being I want to be by God's grace.
It is clear to me from Scripture that God sent Jesus into the world to live the life of love I should have lived, to die
the death my guilt demanded, and to rise from the dead victorious over sin on my behalf. From this day forward, I
lodge my trust, my identity, all my relationship, my very life in Him.
11 LIFE IN GOD'S LOVE

DISCOVER
There's only one thing God desires for
human beings: other-centered love.

WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE IN ACTION


Imagine a city composed of millions of people, like Los Angeles, for example, in which every married couple is
deeply in love and live every moment with unswerving faithfulness to one another, and every person is completely
content with their own stuff and has no desire to possess other people's stuff, and everybody can always be
depended upon to tell the truth, and everybody totally loves and respects their parents, and everybody values the
life and well-being of all others and never does anything to cause harm, with no violence or abuse of any kind, and
nobody has a single broken or damaged relationship, and everybody knows God to be a God of perfect other-
centered love and worships Him for who He is with happy, voluntary adoration.

Does that sound like a good place or a bad place, a happy place or a miserable place, the kind of place you'd like to
live or get as far away from as possible? Of course, we all know that what we've just described is the best way
imaginable for human beings would look like in which all people live in harmony with God's law, also known as the
Ten Commandments. So what kind of law is this? Well, from the community we've described, it is a law of
relational integrity. The first four of the Ten simply describe what love looks like in vertical action, toward God. The
last six of the Ten describe what love looks like in horizontal action, toward our fellow human beings.

Read Exodus 20:1-17 and Matthew 22:36-40 and discuss how the Ten Commandments describe what love looks
like in action.

Because "God is love," God's law is love. And because God's law is love, it is basically a transcript of His character.
And because God's law is a transcript of His character, it is as immutable changeless, and eternal as God Himself.
Map out the logic of the following scriptures to discover the changeless nature of God's law:

Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8; 1 John 4:8; Romans 13:10.

LAW OF LIBERTY
Some people don't like the idea of God having a law, but this is usually because they misunderstand its nature and
intent. The word "law" conjures up ideas of control, restriction, and arbitrary rules that run contrary to freedom
and pleasure. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

James calls God's law "the perfect law of _______" (James 1:25).

David says of God's law: "I will _______ the course of Your commandments, of You shall _______ my heart" (Psalm
119:32).

The human capacity for freedom and happiness expands within the large parameters of relational faithfulness and
constricts within the narrow parameters of relational violation. The law of God is not restrictive, in fact. To the
contrary, it is liberating in the extreme. It doesn't decrease the human experience of freedom and pleasure, but
rather increases freedom and pleasure to the maximum degree possible.

Who is happier, the person that is known to be honest and, therefore, has the confidence and trust of everyone, or
the person who lies and cheats and is trusted by no one? Who has the larger capacity for fulfillment, the couple
that remain devoted to one another for like and, therefore, experience deeper and yet deeper layers of security,
intimacy, and trust, or the couple who violate one another by engaging in extramarital affairs? Who is more free,
the person whose emotions are angry and whose actions are violent, or the person who feels no ill will toward
anyone?

Point made.

MORAL BANKRUPTCY
But there is a problem, and it's serious. The apostle Paul describes our predicament perfectly:

"The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good… For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am
carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but
what I hate, that I do" (Romans 7:12, 14-15).

So there is nothing wrong with God's law, but there is something deeply wrong with us. The word used by
Scripture to describe our fundamental brokenness is "sin," and "sin" is simply defined as "transgression of the law"
(1 John 3:4, KJV), and the law is "love" (Romans 13:10). So to say we are "sinners" is to say that we are bent away
from love toward selfishness. We are in a condition that Martin Luther described as, "homo incurvatus in se," Latin
for, "man curved inward toward self." Our self-serving inclination is so strong that Paul employs the language of
slavery: we are "sold under sin," he says. Left to ourselves, no matter how hard we try, we find it impossible to live
in harmony with God's perfect law of love. We are bankrupt of moral power. We need something more than a self-
help book, a religious practice, a medication, or a boost of good old-fashioned willpower.

We need a savior.

Enter Jesus!

THE NEW COVENANT: INSIDE-OUR OBEDIENCE


Through Jesus Christ God has provided a salvation arrangement the Bible calls, "righteousness by faith" (Galatians
5:5).

In two messianic prophecies, Jeremiah ascribed a revealing title to the coming Savior: "THE LORD OUR
RIGHTENOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16). Here is the idea of righteousness being provided as a gift from an
outside source, as opposed to the human being having to manufacture righteousness for himself within himself. It
is the Lord's righteousness and, yet, it is ours. He, Himself, is "OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

When we come to the New testament, the apostle Paul expands this magnificent idea. He teaches that God saves
sinners by attributing to them the righteousness of Christ. By virtue of the righteous life and atoning death of
Christ, God does something remarkable for sinners: He "calls those things which do not exist as though they did"
(Romans 4:17). God relates to us as if we were righteous even though we are not, as if we have never sinned even
though we have, as if we were innocent even though we are guilty.

Paul calls this unilateral divine action "the free gift," and "the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one
Man, Jesus Christ," and "the gift of righteousness" (Romans 5:15, 17). Then he summarizes the idea like this:
"For as by one man's disobedience (Adam's sin) many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many
will be made righteous" (Romans 5:19).

In other words, the obedience of Jesus to God's law is representative obedience given as a free gift to sinners. And
yet, God does not relate to us as righteous in order to confirm us in our unrighteousness, but rather for the
purpose of lifting from our hearts all sense of condemnation and the anxiety of trying to earn salvation, persuading
us of His unconditional love for us, showing His vision for us, and arousing faith in us. Then, once the relationship
with God has been restored on the premise of His grace—His unmerited favor—obedience to God's law begins to
spring forth from the inside out. It is faith responding to faith, love responding to love.

Which brings us to the new covenant.

When God gave Israel His law at Mount Sinai, the people miscalculated their own moral condition and made the
self-confident promise to God, "All that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient" (Exodus 24:7). What
followed was a long history of disobedience, rebellion, and sin of every description, punctuated with repeated
promises to obey God's law. This became known as the "first" or "old" covenant (Hebrews 8:7, 13). But God had
something else in mind all along, which became known as the new covenant, which is based on God's promise to
forgive sins and write His law in our hearts.

Read Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:7-12 and discuss the specifics of the new covenant.

CONNECT
Within a new covenant relationship with God, we do
not keep the law as a means of earning salvation,
but rather as the love-motivated outgrowth of the
salvation we have a free gift in Christ.

In Romans 7:1-6, Paul uses marriage as a metaphor to illustrate the difference between the old covenant and the
new covenant. If a woman has a husband, he reasons, she is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. If
she marries another man, she is committing adultery. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry another man.

Paul then likens the first husband to our effort to secure salvation through the law, and the second husband to
Christ as the only real means of salvation. He urges us to "become dead to the law" as a means of salvation and to
get "married" to Christ as our Savior. Then we are in a relationship with God in which we "serve in newness of the
spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (verse 6).

In other words, in the old covenant paradigm we attempt to obey the letter of the law to merit right-standing with
God, whereas in the new covenant we relate to God on the premise that we already have His favor through Christ
and, therefore, we obey His law from the heart because we are motivated and empowered by His love.

EXPERIENCE
It is my heartfelt desire to be a new covenant follower of Jesus.
I confess my complete inability in myself to live in obedience to God's law of love, embracing by faith the
righteousness of Christ as my only hope and asking Him to write His law in my heart. May my experience be that
described by King David and his passionate prayer, "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my
heart" (Psalm 40:8)

12 RESTING IN CHRIST

DISCOVER
The sabbath is a weekly reminder of both creation
and redemption. It signifies relational rest with God:
freedom from the anxiety of trying to earn His favor,
on the premise that we already have it.

MEMORIAL OF CREATION
The creation amount of Genesis 1 and 2 unfolds beautifully to form a specific literary pattern called a chiasm,
which simply means that the story is told in the shape of two corresponding and ascending sides that reach a
pinnacle point of focus, like the shape of a mountain or a capital A. Day one corresponds to day four, day two
corresponds to day five, day three to day six, with day seven occupying the pinnacle:

Within this simple poetic structure, we see God moving forward in a forming and filling pattern. On the first three
days God forms spaces by dividing the material elements of creation. On the next three days God fills those spaces
with beautiful things. On day one God forms the heavens and the earth and separates the light from the darkness,
and then on day four He fills that space with the sun, the moon and the stars. On day two God forms the spaces of
water and sky, and then on day five He fills those spaces with fish and birds. On day three God forms the space of
the dry land, and then on day six God fills the land with animals and mankind. Then we come to the entire point of
the process of creation: at the pinnacle of the chiasm, on the seventh day God rests form His work and fills that
day with blessing and sanctity:

"Thus, the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were _______. And on the seventh day God _______
His work which he had _______. Then God _______ the seventh day and _______ it, because in it He _______
from all His work which God had created and made" (Genesis 2:1-3).

This is not rest in the sense that physical exhaustion has happened, for which sleep would be required, but rest in
the same sense of satisfaction, for which enjoyment is required. God isn't tired, He's happy, pleased, fulfilled.
Which is precisely His plan for us— that we would be "blessed," living life with happiness or enjoyment. The word
"sanctified" basically means unique or distinct. And to God gave us the sabbath as a unique space in time for the
mutual enjoyment of fellowship between Himself and us. Some have suggested that the Sabbath is only for the
Jews, but in the Genesis account we see that "the Sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27) before the Jewish
nation existed. It is a sacred space in time for the special engagement of all human beings with their Maker.

Which brings us to another vital feature of the creature story: Human beings were created on the latter half of the
sixth day, after all the "work" of creation was already "finished" by God. They did not participate in the work of
Creation, nor did they witness God performing the task of creating anything. They awoke to life as objects of grace,
recipients by faith of life and all its pleasures as a free gift. That same quality of relationship also holds true for the
work of salvation, as we will now discover.

MEMORIAL OF SALVATION
Read Exodus 20:8-11. Here we discover that the Sabbath is one of God's Ten Commandments, which means it is
eternal and changeless. What is the logic stated for the Sabbath being part of God's eternal law? Simply this: It
identifies who God is and who we are in relation to Him. He is the Creator and we are created beings. Therefore,
our position is one of restful dependence on Him. All the work we do is done within the existing parameters of the
work He has already done for us by creating us, all our powers, and the material world we live in.

Now compare Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Here we discover that the Ten Commandments are given a second time.
However, this time the Sabbath is not given as a memorial of creation, but rather as a memorial of deliverance
from slavery, or redemption. Just as creation was achieved by God's power alone and we are recipients of the gift,
so salvation is achieved by God's power alone and we are recipients of the gift.

The Bible speaks repeatedly of salvation with creation language:

"_______ in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your
presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your _______, and uphold me by
Your generous Spirit" (Psalm 51:10-12).

"For by grace you have been _______ through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,
lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, _______ in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10).

AS we turn to John's Gospel, we see that Jesus employs Sabbath language from Genesis: "I have glorified You on
the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4). Back in Genesis we read about the
finished work of creation. Now Jesus is speaking about the finished work of salvation. Then, when Jesus was
crucified, He cried out, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). Jesus then died, having "finished" the "work" of redemption.
And He died on the latter half of the sixth day, Friday. Then He rested in the tomb on the seventh day, Saturday,
and rose to life again on the first day of the week, Sunday (Luke 23:54 through 24:3). By His death on the cross
Jesus confirmed that the Sabbath is an eternal memorial of His "finishes" "work" of salvation.

We see then that the Sabbath is God's weekly reminder to us that our salvation is 100% the free gift of His grace,
totally His accomplishment and not ours, to be received into our hearts by faith. As such the Sabbath guards us
against legalism and self-dependence and secures all our hope and trust in Jesus, who is both our Creator and our
Savior. The Sabbath tells us that good works contribute absolutely nothing to our salvation, while at the same time
they do reveal God's mighty creative work in us, which brings forth obedience of the right quality, from the inside
out. This brings us to the relationship between the Sabbath and the new covenant.

THE SABBATH AND THE NEW COVENANT


Because the Sabbath is a memorial of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, it also signifies the new
covenant, which teaches that true obedience to God's law springs forth from the inside motivated by love. Isaiah
56:1-7 is a prophecy of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the formation of the New Testament church. Read
this prophecy and discuss what it says about New Testament believers, both Jews and non-Jews, regarding the
Sabbath. Notice each usage of the words salvation, covenant, and Sabbath, as well as each reference to non-Jewish
believers.
Now turn to the New Testament book of Acts. In chapter 13 we read that the apostle Paul came into the city of
Antioch, "and went into the synagogue on the _______ day and sat down" (verse 14). The leaders invited Paul to
speak, which he did. After delivering his message, we read these words:

"So, when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the _______ begged that these words might be preached to them
the next _______" (verse 42). Paul agreed to the appointment, and "on the next _______ almost the whole city
came together to hear the word of God" (verse 44).

Just as Isaiah 56 foretold, we see here that New Testament believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, were Sabbath
keepers. This makes total sense in light of the fact that the Sabbath is a memorial of both the finished work of
creation and the finished work of salvation.

And yet, there is a terrible, unbiblical misconception that has been popularized in Christianity. It is said that Jesus
and His apostles abolished the Sabbath and put Sunday observance in its place, and that Sabbath keeping is
legalism. But as we've just discovered, the exact opposite is the case. First, the Sabbath cannot change, for it was
established at creation for all mankind and is a part of God's very law of love. Secondly, the Sabbath, which began
as a memorial of God's creative power, is also a memorial of God's saving power and, therefore, the very antithesis
of legalism by virtue of what it commemorates. The truth is, there is not a single statement in the Bible that
institutes Sunday worship in place of God's Sabbath. Why, then, do so many churches disregard the Sabbath and
keep Sunday? History offers only one answer: Sunday observance was imported into Christian practice by
Catholicism from the pagan sun worship cults of the Roman Empire.

CONNECT
It is the natural inclination of fallen human beings
to trust in ourselves and labor under the anxiety
of trying to earn God's favor. Jesus invites us
to a radically different spiritual experience.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn
from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden
is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). The labor Jesus refers to here is not physical work, but rather psychological and
emotional work under the burden of feeling we must labor to earn salvation. We know this is His point because He
offers "rest" for our "souls" (psyche in the Greek), not for our bodies. This is the deeper rest that we really need,
the rest of knowing that God saves us by His grace because He loves us, not because we have done sufficient work
to make ourselves worthy of His love. Then, as we enter into the restfulness of His grace, we are aroused,
energized, and motivated to love Him in return. Every week the Sabbath tells us this truth again, inviting us to rest
in God's love.

EXPERIENCE
I choose to keep the Sabbath day holy as a memorial of the
finished work of creation and the finished work of salvation.
Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is also Lord
of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27-28). The Sabbath is the Lord's day. It belongs to Him, set apart by Him as holy. I also
belong to Him, redeemed by His grace, in which I rest through faith. I praise God that He made the Sabbath for
mankind, which includes me, as a weekly reminder of my utter dependence on Him for salvation.

13 RECIPROCAL LIVING

DISCOVER
God's kingdom is based on one powerful principle:
giving. And giving is the most God-like and
influential thing a human being can do.

GIVING FORMS A CIRCLE


It is literally true, with no exaggeration, that all the suffering and pain in the world is the result of people taking:
emotional taking, relational taking, material taking. In God's system there is no room for taking, but only for giving
and receiving. Jesus explained in beautiful language that giving forms a circle of blessing:

"_______, and it will be _______ to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be
put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:38).

Jesus is here describing the reciprocal nature of love: it moves outward toward others, then returns from others
who also move outward. Those who give, receive, only to turn around and give more, and receive again. We might
call this the circuit benevolence. The circle begins with God as the Great Giver:

"Every good gift and every perfect _______ is from above, and comes down _______ _______ of lights, with whom
there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).

God's giving nature led Him to give us the ultimate gift:

"For God so loved the world that He _______ His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not
perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

"For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who _______ _______ a
ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

What does the gift of Jesus Christ indicate God is also willing to give us? Romans 8:32 _______

But that's not the end of the story. God's goal is to replicate His giving character in our very lives. His giving to us
seeks to generate giving in us and from us to others. To discover this truth, read and discuss the beautiful
implications of Philippians 2:1-6. God's giving initiates change in the way we do life in relation to others.

Paul says Jesus "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His
own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14). Since God's law is "love" (Romans 13:10), to be
redeemed from "every lawless deed" means we are delivered from every loveless deed. In other words, the plan of
salvation transforms us from takers into givers. With slightly different language Paul said the same thing to the
Galatians:

"Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who _______ for our sins, that He might
_______ us from present _______, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Amen" (Galatians 1:3-5).

In another place Paul describes the principle "this present evil age" operates on:

"For men will be lovers of _______, lovers of _______, boasters, proud, blasphemers, without self-control, brutal,
despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of
godliness but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

It is all of this that Christ gave Himself to deliver us from. His giving aims to liberate us from self-centered living into
other-centered living. He begins the circle and we complete it, empowered and motivated by His love. He takes the
initiative to reach down into our hearts and lives, and we simply back up to Him in gratitude and appreciation.

Circle complete!

And what a beautiful circle it is!

GOD'S FINANCIAL PLAN


Most of the economic plans of our world are based on getting and keeping. The goal is to acquire all I can and
expand it on myself and for my personal increased profit. God's economic plan is based on giving for the blessing
of others, which in turn produces greater profits in our lives on a deeper level than mere material gain. God has set
up an ingenious system of material benevolence that simultaneously provides financially for the advancement of
the gospel and for the relief of human suffering, while teaching us the core principle of the gospel.

God's economic plan begins with an accurate view of His position over all material things as the Great Giver and of
our position as receivers and stewards.

To whom do all the material blessings of the world belong? Psalm 24:1 and Haggai 2:8 _______.

Who gives the ability to produce wealth? Deuteronomy 8:18 _______.

What is the word Jesus uses to describe our relation to the material blessings He gives us? Luke 12:42-44 _______.

When we give to God, and to others, what is actually happening? 1 Chronicle 29:14 _______.

What percentage of our increase does God claim is holy to Him? Genesis 28:22 and Leviticus 27:30 _______.

What is the tithe to be used for? Numbers 18:21 _______.

What is the rather strong word that God uses to describe those who do not return tithe? Malachi 3:8-9 _______.

And yet, what is the even stronger promise to those who do return tithe? Malachi 3:10 _______.

In addition to the tithe, to what level would God have us give of our financial means? Deuteronomy 16:17 ______.

The tithing system is a practical illustration of the gospel because it teaches us that God is the Great Giver of all
good things, including the material blessings of life. By returning 10% of our income to the Lord we acknowledge
that 100% of our income came from Him as a gift to begin with. So, returning tithe is an act of faith in response to
God's grace. Beyond the tithe, it is our privilege to manifest God's love to the world by giving all we possibly can to
relieve and help and bless those in need.
NOT UNDER COMPULSION
The gospel is the good news of salvation by God's grace, through faith, in Christ alone. In those who receive it, the
gospel sets in motion an outflow of good works that go back to God and out to the world, works which are
motivated by the love of God revealed to us in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14). This is the essence of what the Bible calls
the "new covenant," which is obedience to God's law of love from the inside out rather than obedience rendered
with the hope of earning salvation in exchange for what we do. It is in the light of the gospel that the apostle Paul
says this regarding the way we should view our finances:

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap
generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under
compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all
times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: 'They have freely scattered
their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.' Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for
food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness" (2
Corinthians 9:6-10, NIV).

Reciprocal living is really the only sustainable way to live, and it's the only way to live that brings fulfillment and
joy. All of life operates on the principle of sowing and reaping, outflow and inflow, giving and receiving. Of course,
God is not interested at all in pressuring us or guilting us into giving. It's not our money He's after, but rather our
hearts. He asks us to give for our development and elevation into His image as the Great Giver.

CONNECT
Returning tithes and offerings is no a religious form
to be self-righteously compiled with, but rather a
tangible and practical means of reflecting God's
heart of love back to Him and to the world.

While Jesus clearly desired that all His followers would participate in the tithing system, He strongly rebuked self-
righteousness in the practice of tithing and urged us to not neglect "the weightier matters of the law: justice and
mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 22:23). According
to Jesus, to pay tithe as a religious practice while neglecting justice and mercy and faith, which are expressions of
"love of God" (Luke 11:42), is "hypocrisy"—mere pretense or acting.

The whole point of God's economic system of tithes and offerings is ministry to others. We do not return tithes
and offerings as an act of compliance to religious rules in order to lift ourselves above others with moral pride. To
the contrary, we return tithes and offerings so that our hearts, by giving, would be enlarged with love for
humanity, and as a result that our material blessings would be used to bring the good news of God's love to the
world through preaching, justice work, rescue missions, medical ministry, and numerous other ways of ministering
God's grace to men, women, and children.

EXPERIENCE
I want to step out in faith and become a participant in
God's economic plan by returning tithes and offerings.

What an incredible realization it is that all the material blessings I have are gifts from God! "For all things come
from You, and of Your own we have given You" (1 Chronicles 29:14). By God's grace, may my heart and life be
constantly engaged in the beautiful circle of benevolence He has initiated.

14 HEALTH AND WHOLENESS

DISCOVER
Because God is love, it logically follows that He would
be interested in our complete health and well-being.

CAUSE AND EFFECT


Ancient peoples believed that everything good and bad happens by the exercise of God's arbitrary power. Many
modern people believe the same. This idea is that God causes all events, as if He is up in heaven pushing the
blessing button and the curse button. But that's not actually how reality operates. We don't live in a closed system
in which everything is minutely controlled, but rather in an open system in which our decisions are casual. Because
God is love, He designed the world to function by laws of cause and effect, which simply means He designed the
world in such a way that our free actions create actual outcomes. In order for any real love to exist there must be
real freedom, and in order for real freedom exist there must be real cause-and-effect interplay at all levels of our
existence. The exercise of arbitrary authority would be, in fact, the absence of freedom, and, therefore, the
absence of love. Describing how the world really works, the Bible says:

"The curse _______ shall not come" (Proverbs 26:2, KJV).

"Whatever a man _______, that he will also _______" (Galatians 6:7).

In the Bible there is something called "wisdom," chokmah in Hebrew. The world literally means "skill"—skill at
understanding the principles of life and making good choices. In the book of Proverbs "Wisdom" says, "Blessed is
the man who listens to me … For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins
against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death" (Proverbs 8:34-36).

When a person discerns cause-and-effect relationships and makes choices that produce positive effects, that's
wisdom. The result is "blessing," a word that means happiness of well-being.

We live in a world, and in bodies, governed by principles of cause and effect. It should come as no surprise to us
that God has in an interest in the principles we live. After all, He loves, so He can't help but want what is best for
us. In fact, according to the Bible salvation itself involves an educational process by which God aims to increase the
quality of our lives by teaching us the principles that govern reality and by empowering us to live in harmony with
them.
HEALING AND WHOLENESS
Often "salvation" is though of in the narrow sense of escaping hell and getting to heaven when this life is over. But
according to the Bible, it's far more than that. In the New Testament the Greek word that is translated "save" is
sozo. It's a beautiful word that has huge significance for the present-tense quality of our lives. Sozo literally means
to deliver, liberate, make well, heal, restore health, make whole. It communicates God's desire that we experience
health and wholeness here and now.

Read the following scriptures and discuss what they have to say about God's interest in our present quality of life:
John 10:10; 3 John 2; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; and 1 Corinthians 10:31. What are three key ideas that
stand out to you in these verses?

1. _________________________________________________________________________________________.

2. _________________________________________________________________________________________.

3. _________________________________________________________________________________________.

THE BIBLE'S HEALTH MESSAGE


As we’ve just discovered, God desires our health and flourishing. If the core truth of Scripture is that "God is love,"
it makes total sense that God would care about the quality of our health.

What was the original diet God gave to humanity? Genesis 1:29 ______________________________________.

The human body operates best when supplied with a steady intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains,
and legumes. They are densely packed full of the very nutrients our bodies need to thrive and fight disease.
Modern science has now proven that this is the real food our bodies need. In the light of the original diet given by
the Creator, and with the support of modern science, why not consider trying this original diet? You will be blessed
and you won't look back on the decision with regret.

After the Flood had destroyed much of the vegetation of earth, God permitted certain animals to be used for food.
This was the accommodation to the situation our fallen world now found itself in, but it was not God's ideal plan.
What two categories did God specify for animals? Genesis 7:2 ________________________________________.

Discuss Deuteronomy 14:3-20. On a separate sheet of paper compose a two-column list of animals God says are
and those that are unclean.

Some people reason that the clean and unclean laws of the Old Testament no longer apply now that we live in the
New Testament era. That's like saying the law of gravity applied back then but doesn't apply anymore. God
specified which animals were clean and which were unclean as health laws, not as ceremonial laws that would
become unnecessary once Christ had fulfilled what they symbolized. Health laws are not symbolic and, therefore,
do not become obsolete. They have real effects on all human bodies at all periods of history. You will find it very
difficult to persuade your arteries, your heart, and all your other vital organs that the health laws of the Bible are
symbolic. And modern science is affirming what the Bible has taught all along.

Read and discuss Daniel 1:8-16. As a captive in Babylon who manifested intellectual giftedness, Daniel and his
three friends were offered the "privilege" of taking their daily meals at the king's table. The diet offered to them
consisted of "delicacies" ("meat" in the KJV) and "wine" —basically, the diet of much of the Western world today.
Daniel requested a kind of controlled study in which he and his friends would be allowed to forgo the king's food
and be given "vegetables to eat and water to drink" for ten days. Then he suggested that their "appearance" be
"examined" and compared to "the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies." The results? "At the
end of the ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion
of the king's delicacies."

This is amazing. Written 2500 years ago, Daniel's story tells us what medical science is just now discovering. The
stop two causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer, in most cases lifestyle related diseases,
largely due to poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, toxic relationships, and negative emotional stress. Many of us
are eating our way to an early death and a lot of unnecessary misery along the way. Daniel's ancient diet
recommends itself to common sense and harmonizes with modern nutritional science. The basic message of the
Bible on diet is this: eat food, not other stuff masquerading as food.

Why did Daniel refuse the wine at the king's table? To discover the answer, read and discuss Proverbs 20:1, 23:29-
35 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
The data on the destructive effects of alcohol are staggering:

 There are 2.5 million alcohol related deaths per year worldwide

 Alcohol is the third largest risk factor for all disease worldwide, number two in Europe, and number one in the
Western Pacific and the Americas

 Alcohol is involved with many serious woes, including violence, child abuse, and absenteeism in the
workplace.

 In the U.S. one-quarter of all emergency room admissions, one-third of all suicides, and more than half of all
homicides and incidents of domestic violence are alcohol-related.

 Alcohol use is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.

 Alcohol-related problems cost the U.S. an estimated $185 billion per year.

It shouldn't be surprising that the Bible has a lot to say about what we eat and drink. "God is love," after all. Every
good parent care what their children put into their bodies because they care about the health of their children. So
why wouldn't our heavenly Father care about our health? We have such a powerful advantage at our fingertips:
The One who engineered our bodies offers us clear instruction on how best to feed these glorious machines. Why
not do as He says and reap the benefits in health, energy levels, and longevity?

CONNECT
Jesus came to our world as a healer of hearts and bodies.

Looking forward to the salvation Jesus would achieve for us, Isaiah said, "by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah
53:5), meaning that the love He manifested for us by His sacrifice exerts a healing power over our sin-sick hearts.
In the last book of the Old Testament the prophet Malachi foretold the mission of the coming Christ in these
words: "The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2). When Jesus did come an
angel told Mary, "Call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The Bible says
Jesus "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). His ministry was characterized by two main features: (1) He preached
the good news of God's love to bring healing to hears weighed down with the dysfunctions of shame and (2) He
healed people's bodies revealing that God cares about our physical well-being. He is just as interested in our
spiritual and physical health today.

EXPERIENCE
What a blessing it is to realize that God cares about
my health and well-being! I love Him for that and I am
determines, by His grace, to glorify Him in my health habits.

The promise of Jesus is for me: "I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly"
(John 10:10). Sign me up for that! I want to learn all I can regarding the principles that make for abundant living.
Please provide me with additional educational materials on the topic of health and healing.

16 IMMERSION

DISCOVER
Baptism symbolizes total immersion in God's love as
manifested in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

A WHOLE NEW YOU


What if you could be an amplified version of yourself…wait for it…with all the good and astounding things about
you expanded and all the bad parts erased. Well, guess what? That's precisely what God has in mind for you, and
He fully intends to get you there, if you want to go. But how?

"Yes, I have loved _______ with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have _______ _______"
(Jeremiah 31:3).

First of all, notice that it is you God loves, the very you that you are. And since He wants you, notice that He seeks
to reconnect you with Himself while simultaneously preserving your freedom—by drawing you, not forcing, but by
drawing. That means the person you are remains intact as you undergo the transformative process. Your
individuality is of infinite value to God. He's not a control freak or a dictator. Religion often portrays God like that,
but He's not that way at all. He doesn't want to divest you of yourself and turn you into a slave or a machine. In
fact, He likes you. He's excited about you incredible and beautiful and mazing you are. "Um, well, not everything
about me is amazing, and some of it's downright ugly." Yes, He knows that too. And, of course, He doesn't like the
things about you that violate others and cause harm. But there is a very good reason why He doesn't like those
things about you, and it's because He likes reason why He doesn't like those things about you, and it's because He
likes you so much, which means He can't possibly like anything that damages you. So His goal is to delete all the
bad stuff from your life and grow you into the best you imaginable.
With the following scriptures, pause to really think deeply about how passionate God is about you.

Read Luke 15:20. When the father in this parable (representing God) sees his son approaching in the distance
(representing you), what exactly does he do? ________________________________________________________.

Read John 17:23. God loves you as much as He loves who? _____________________________________________.

Read 1 John 3:16. What enormous level of sacrifice did God make to reveal how much He values you? __________.

We see here that you are of such infinite-scale worth in God's eyes that He was willing to undergo infinite-scale
suffering to save you. The cross of Christ reveals this, as we've discovered in previous study guides. Now we are
discovering that God has a plan for transforming each of our lives while at the same time preserving the dignity
and freedom of our individuality. Jesus described this transformation in terms of being reborn. In John 3 we read
about a conversion Jesus had with a mad named Nicodemus, a conversation sound pretty heave, and even pretty
weird if we take it literally. Nicodemus thought so too. But Jesus meant something deeper than physical rebirth. He
was talking about an experiential rebirth of mind, heart, motive, and will.

Read John 3:1-17 and discuss the implications of being born again.

Firs of all, to be reborn implies starting over, going back to the beginning, to the place of innocence before we
accumulated all the negative mental, emotional, and moral damage we carry inside of us, and before all that
damage pushed us into places of insecurity, pretense, anger, greed, lust, and guilt.

Now notice that Jesus draws a contrast between two key influences:

What motivated God to give Jesus for our salvation? Verse 16 __________________________________________.

And what does God specifically intend not use on us? Verse 17 __________________________________________.

The fact that God uses love and not condemnation to facilitate our rebirth, says a lot about who He is and what He
wants for us. Love is a motivator that engages the voluntary action of the will. Condemnation is a manipulation
tactic that seeks compliance while bypassing the will. Clearly, God is pursuing our voluntary involvement with Him,
not our enslavement. When I'm born again, I'm still me—a new me, but me nonetheless, with innocence restored
and a clean slate of which a new biographical history can be written. A blank page lies before me and my story can
now be rewritten.

REBORN OF WATER AND SPIRIT


Now back up to John 3:5 and notice that Jesus said we must be born again "of the _______ and the _______."
What does He mean?

In the larger context of the Gospels, it becomes clear that Jesus is saying we need to receive water baptism and
receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Jesus Himself was baptized as an example to us, "to fulfill all righteousness,"
and as He came up out of the water the Holy Spirit came upon Him "like we dove" (Matthew 3:15-16). We are
invited to follow in His steps, to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Read and discuss Romans 6:1-11, in which Paul explained that baptism is an act of identification with the death,
burial, and resurrection of Christ. By being baptized I am saying that my old life of sin and guilt is dead and I am
raised to new in Christ.

Peter adds a key idea to the picture:

"_______, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Baptism is the thing to do when we've experience what the Bible calls repentance, metanoia in Greek. The world
literally means to undergo a change of mind. As we've discovered in previous study guides, the human
predicament in sin has its dark roots in the mind—in our thinking and feeling processes regarding God, which
impacts how we think and feel about ourselves and others. Then, as a result of the way we think and feel, we do
things. We commit acts of sin. We engage in relational violations. Metanoia involves complete reorientation on the
landscape of reality. We cease believing lies about God and start believing the truth of the gospel, which is the
good news that God the Father is just like Jesus. When this fundamental change of mind takes place, the way we
live changes too. We turn from sin, from our relational violations of God and others, and begin to love like God
loves. And Paul tells us precisely what is that brings about metanoia in us: "the goodness of God leads you to
repentance" (Romans 2:4). When we get a clear vision of God's good character, it changes us. We begin the
process of being radically transformed on all levels of our lives. Baptism symbolizes our decision to engage with
Jesus in this process.

BAPTIZED IN THE NAME


Before departing from our world, Jesus gave special insight regarding baptism:

"Go ye therefore, and _______ all nations, _______ them in the _______ of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20, KJV).

The word "baptize" is bapitzö. It means to immerse. This is why Jesus was baptized in a river and "came up" out of
the water (Matthew 3:13-16). This is why John the Baptizer called people to a place with "much water" (John 3:23).
Baptism requires immersion under the water because it symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ,
our Substitute, as our own. This is also why there is no infant baptism in Scripture. Immersion in the realities of
God's love requires conscious acceptance of God's love as one's own chose mode of existence.

Jesus instructed His followers to baptize people "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
In the Bible the name of a person, place, or thing signifies its character. Jesus, for example, means, "God saves."
Bethlehem means, "house of bread," because, apparently, the town had at least one great bakery. To be baptized
"in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" is to be immersed in the character of God, or in
the love that the Father, Son and Spirit enjoy with one another. Baptism in the three-fold name of God means that
I identify myself as a partaker of Their love and I voluntarily choose to orient my life toward the reflection of that
love. Jesus expressed this very desire for us in His prayer to the Father in John 17: "that the love with which You
loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (verse 26).

CONNECT
Baptism is a symbolic act that indicates a person's
decision to be immersed in the reality of God's love as
manifested in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

As we've just discovered in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said those who are baptized need to be taught or discipled.
This indicates that the "born again" life has definite content, doctrinal content that composes a picture of God that
looks exactly like Jesus. Baptism means something specific. Therefore, what it means needs to be taught to people
so they know what they are identifying with. Of course, we don't need to wait until we know everything about
God, doctrine, and theology before we are baptized. In fact, we will be learning throughout all eternity. But before
baptism, we do need to know enough to be certain that we see in Jesus is what we really want. God is all about
honoring our freedom because "God is love" (1 John 4:16). He's not trying to coerce us or trick us into anything. In
fact, all God wants is our freedom, not freedom for freedom's sake, but freedom for love's sake. All He wants is
that we would be reborn into the same love that He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit experience in Their fellowship
with one another. This means we need to be taught what God's love entails. Otherwise, our intelligence and
freedom would be bypassed. Each of us is invited as a free moral agent to examine the content of God's character
as revealed in Christ and to say yes to His love by the tangible act of baptism.

EXPERIENCE
Yes, I want to be baptized to signify my personal identification
with Christ and my acceptance of all He has for me.

What an amazing thing it is that God loves me, the very person that I am! I am in awe of the fact that He doesn't
want to control me, or negate who I am, or erase my individuality, but rather to empower me to be the best me
possible. From this day on it is my determined purpose to love in a growing relationship with Him.

16 A HEALING COMMUNITY

DISCOVER
God is building a global community
or the restoration and revelation of His love.

FELLOWSHIP
At our physical birth, we are born into a family. This is a good thing because we need a family in order to grow and
develop as human beings. The same is true when we are spiritually reborn. We are born again into the spiritually
family of God in order for our spiritual growth to be facilitated.

As we discovered in study guide 2, God is a communitarian being, an other-centered friendship, a fellowship of


three who are one. Then, we discovered in study guide 3 that God made humanity in His own image. We logically
deduce from these two foundational truths that human beings exist for fellowship, that we are social creatures,
psychologically, emotionally, and biologically engineered for self-giving relationships. In study guide 4 we
discovered that the sin problem resulted in fractured relationships between humans and their Creator, and
between ourselves as fellow human beings. Sin, we learned, its relational violation that leads to relational discord.
The plan of salvation, which we explored in study guides 6 through 15, is all about restoring those relationships. In
this lesson we will discover that God is building a global community for the restoration and revelation of His love.
The Bible calls this community, "the church."
Let's begin with 1 John 1:1-4. In verses 1 and 2 John testifies that he and others had an encounter with the "Word
of Life," Jesus Christ. Then, in verses 3 and 4 he comes to the incredible point of it all:

"That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have _______ with us; and truly our
_______ is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that you _______ may
be _______."

The word here translated "fellowship is koinonia in Greek, and it means, community, intimacy, shared life,
connected living. John is telling us that koinonia with one another in the context of koinonia with God leads to
fullness of joy, or off-the-charts happiness. So, our first point regarding the church is simply this: it is a community
of believers who have fellowship with one another and with God.

Now let's go a little deeper and discover the practical aspects of the church's fellowship. Read and discuss Acts
2:40-47 and notice four key actions of the early church:

1. Those who come into the fellowship of the church are being "saved" (verses 40 and 47). The Greek word here
is sozo, which as we discovered in study guide 14, literally means to heal, restore, make whole.

2. Those who come into the fellowship of the church "continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and in
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." The church is a fellowship in which the truths of Scripture
are studied and taught, and the people spend time together and pray together.

3. Those who come into the fellowship of the church deal in a benevolent manner with their material
"possessions." They live this way in order to help those in "need."

4. As a result of this kind of fellowship, the early had "favor with all the people." The church was attractive. It's
fellowship revealed to the world a way of live that was characterized by love for God and love for people.

This is what koinonia looks like in action. What a beautiful thing to be part of!

PROCLAMATION
The church does not exist for itself. It is called to "proclaim" a message—not a mere recitation of theological facts,
but a living message that is informed and formed by its koinonia with God:

"You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may _______ the
_______ of _______ who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

Notice that the message of the church is a positive proclamation of God's "praises." In other words, the message is
about Him—the attractive loveliness of His good character—and it has the effect of awakening praise in human
hearts as they come to know Him as He really is. The truth the church holds and proclaims are not abstract ideas,
academic theories, or creedal tenets to be argued and debated, but rather a composite picture of God's praise-
worthy character, each doctrine contributing to the portrait. Paul agrees with Peter regarding the content of the
church's message, defining it as "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…the light of
the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6). Said another way, the message
the church is called to proclaim is the beauty of God's character of self-giving love as revealed in Christ.

It follows, then, that the spirit with which church members relate to one another, and the attitude with which they
speak the truth to the world, is of crucial importance. Ephesians 4:1-16 makes this clear. Move through the
passage verse by verse.

Verse 1. As members God's church, how should be "walk" or live our lives? ________________________________.
Verses 2-3. How should we relate to one another within the church? _____________________________________.

Verses 7, 11-12. To how many of us has God given special grace in the form of spiritual gifts and how many of us
are called to be engaged in "the work of ministry?" ___________________________________________________.

Verse 13. What is the grand goal to which God is growing His church? ____________________________________.

Verses 15-16. With what attitude and to what end is the truth to be spoken? ______________________________.

It is clear then that the message the church preaches is only as believable as it is made beautiful with love, which
brings us to the church's calling to serve the world's practical needs.

SERVICE
Isaiah 58:1-11 is an extremely enlightening segment of Scripture regarding the purpose for which the church exists
and how its witness to the world is to be made attractive and believable. The historical setting, of course, is ancient
Israel. But this passage is also prophecy in which envisions what He want His church to look like today, and what
He does not want it to look like. Read and discuss the entire passage.

Is it possible for religion to become arrogant, ingrown and self-serving? __________________________________.

Verses 3-5. What does God think when we "find pleasure" in religious practices (like fasting) while at the same
time engaging in business dealings that "exploit" people for financial advantage? __________________________.

Verse 4. Does God approve of or reprove religious strife and debate? ____________________________________.

Verses 6-7. What kinds of social actions does God long to see His people performing? _______________________.

Verses 8-11. When God's people minister to the world around them in these kinds of ways, what will the effect be?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________.

Verse 9. What does God think of religious finger-pointing? _____________________________________________.

Read and discuss the following scriptures regarding God's call for the church to be engaged in meeting people's
practical needs and in the advancement of social justice causes: Proverbs 31:8-9; Isaiah 1:15-17; Jeremiah 22:3;
Ezekiel 16:49-50; Zechariah 7:9-10; Luke 10:30-37; Romans 12:15-18; Matthew 7:12.

Consider an insightful summary of why the church exists from a book that tells the story of the apostolic church:

"The church is God's appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to
carry the gospel to the world…. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the
church will eventually be made manifest…the final and full display of the love of God" (E.G. White, The Acts of the
Apostles, p.9).

CONNECT
The church should be known for the love that exists among
its members, for the self-giving service it renders to the
world, and for its proclamation of God's good character.
Love cannot occur in isolation: each of us needs to be in corporate fellowship with God's church in order to grow in
our capacity for loving like God loves, for giving and receiving love is an integral part of the circle of benevolence.
Nor can love be sustained without action. The whole point of the church's existence is to serve the world with
practical, helping, healing ministry. This is why Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39).
Loving one another in the church and serving with love outside the church is the powerful combination of factors
that will give credibility to the message the church proclaims. "By this," "Jesus said, "all will know that you are My
disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). This love will result in others being born again, joining the
family, and growing together in the nurturing care of those more mature in the faith.

EXPERIENCE
I would love to be part of a community of believers
who endeavor, by God's grace, to mobilize their
collective energy, talents, and resources to impact
the world with the good news of God's love.

Lord, bring me into fellowship with Your church and show me how I can serve the world around me. Through
connection with fellow believers teach me how to love like You love. Reveal to me the special gifts You have given
me for ministry. May people come to know You through the good that I do in Your name.

17 THE GREAT APOSTASY

DISCOVER
Two opposing kingdoms are at war in our world,
operating by two different governing principles,
undergirded by two diametrically opposite motives.

THE UPSIDE DOWN KINGDOM


In our previous study we discovered that God is building a global community for the restoration and revelation of
His love. The New Testament calls this community "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth"
(1 Timothy 3:15). The singular truth upon which Jesus founded His church is the reality of his self-giving, non-
coercive love (Matthew 16:16-18). Now we will discover that Scripture foretold a great apostasy that would
attempt to eclipse the truth upon which Christ founded His church.

Read and discuss Luke 22:24-30 with the following questions:

What were the disciples arguing about? "Which of them should be considered the _________________________."
How did Jesus describe the principle by which the kings of this world govern? "Lordship __________" and
"authority __________."

How did Jesus describe the principle by which His kingdom operates?
"He who is __________ among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who __________."

As the great King of the universe, what are the two words Jesus used in Matthew 11:29 to describe the kind of
person He is? "I am __________ and __________ in heart."

Portraying Himself as "the master" in Luke 12:37, how did Jesus describe the manner in which he will relate to us in
His eternal kingdom? __________.

John 13 opens by stating of Jesus, "having __________ His own who were in the world, He __________ them to
the __________" (verse 1). Then Jesus did something remarkable to illustrate the exalted nature of His love: He
wrapped a towel around His waist, filled a basin with water, got on His knees, and washed the dirty feet of His
disciples (verses 2-5). After this, Jesus said in John 14:9, "He who has seen Me has seen the __________."

Finally, Jesus voluntarily submitted Himself to the violet rage of those He came to save, thus giving the zenith
revelation God's character and kingdom. What is sometimes called "the myth of redemptive violence" is the notion
that responding to violence with violence will end the violence. By dying on the cross Jesus set in motion the only
principle of action capable of stopping the cycle of violence: self-sacrificing, nonviolent love, which only returns
good for evil. Discuss this principle as explained in Luke 6:27-38 and 1 Peter 2:21-24.

Clearly, then, Jesus founded His church on the principle of self-giving love. He demonstrated a power-under rather
than a power-over method of governance, in which greatness is measured in terms of serving other, and in which
self-sacrifice triumphs over force. His is what we might call the upside down kingdom: greatness is defined as
humility, elevation as service, and power as love. This is how God's universe is made to function.

FALLING AWAY
In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul revealed that there would be a "falling away" (verse 3), and apostasia in the Greek, from
which we get the English word apostasy, which means to abandon the truth. The insidious thing about this
apostasy is that it would not take the form of a blatant, open abandonment of the truth, but rather the setting up
of a false church masquerading as the true. Paul explained that the apostasy would be led by a self-exalting
personage described as "the man of sin…the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is
called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (verse
3-4). Paul foresaw the development of a counterfeit religious system with a man at the center playing God. He
then goes on to say, "the mystery of lawlessness is already at work" (verse 7). The coming apostasy would be
characterized by "lawlessness," or anomia, which means against law, or without law—referring to God's law of
self-sacrificing love.

So, in order to identify this false religion system, all we need to look for in history is a professedly Christian power
that exalts man to the place of God and advances an agenda against God's law. It's an easy shoe to fit. But first let's
turn to the prophet Daniel, who long before Paul foretold the same apostasy.

THE LITTLE HORN


The prophet Daniel had a vision in which he saw that "the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And
four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other"(Daniel 7:2-3).
What do the four "beasts" of Daniel's vision represent? Daniel 7:17, 23
_____________________________________________________________________________________________.

What do "winds" represent? Jeremiah 25:32; 49:36-37 ________________________________________________.

What do "seas" represent? Revelation 17:15 ________________________________________________________.

Now read Daniel 7:4-7. Daniel lived and wrote his prophecies as a captive in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar.
He understood that the head of gold in the king's dream and the lion in his own vision both symbolized Babylon
(2:36-40). From our position in history, we know the complete succession of kingdoms.

The Lion represents Babylon (Jeremiah 4:7; 50:17, 43-44). The wings on the lion indicate speed of conquest
(Deuteronomy 28:49).

The Bear is the empire of Media-Persia, raised up on one side because the Persians were stronger than the Medes.
The three ribs in the bear's mouth are the three provinces conquered by Media-Persia: Babylon, Lydia and Egypt.

The Leopard is the Greek Empire, depicted with four wings to indicate the tremendous speed with which
Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire and every other kingdom in his path. The four heads on the
leopard represent the four kingdoms into which the Grecian Empire was divided after Alexander's death, ruled by
his four generals: Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Seleucus.

The Dreadful Beast with iron teeth is the Roman Empire, which conquered Greece. The ten horns represent the ten
principle kingdoms of Western Europe that arose out of the Roman Empire as it crumbled: the Visigoths (Spain);
the Anglo-Saxons (England); the Franks (France); the Alemanni (Germany); the Burgundians (Switzerland); the
Lombards (Italy); Suevi (Portugal); Heruli (destroyed); Ostrogoths (destroyed); Vandals (destroyed).

Then Daniel describe "another horn, a little horn, coming up among them" (verse 8). Another power would rise to
prominence among the ten horns, or among the Western European kingdoms. There is no mistaking what Daniel
has revealed to us. As sure as history bears out that Babylon was succeeded by Media-Persia, Media-Persia by
Greece, and Greece by Rome, just as certain does the historical record reveal that the pagan Roman Empire was
succeeded by the papal Roman Empire, or the Roman Catholic church-state.

Additional Characteristics are given to identify the little horn:

1. Self-exaltation. It would speak "pompous words against the Most High" (verses 8, 11, 25). As the pagan Roman
Empire crumbled and the Church of Rome rose to power upon its ruins, the Pope came to occupy the elevated
position previously held by the Caesar, claiming to possess the authority of God on earth.

2. Force and violence in God's name. It would "make war against" and "persecute the saints of the Most High"
(verses 21, 25). For more than a thousand years during its Dark Ages reign, the Roman Church slaughtered an
estimated 50 million people who refused to acknowledge its supremacy in matters of conscience.

3. Against God's law. It would "intend to change times and law" of the Most High (verse 25). So self-exalted in its
power, the Roman Church ventured to delete the second of God's Ten Commandments, which forbids the
worship of images, thus accommodating the adoption of pagan idol worship practices, and she claimed the
power to change God's Sabbath from the seventh day, Saturday, to the first day, Sunday, the day of the pagan
sun worship cults.

This prophecy is remarkable and vitally important, not simply because it foretold the existence of the papal church-
state, but because it informs us that the colossal system know to history as "Christendom" is not, in fact, the true
church of Christ, but rather an apostate, counterfeit system masquerading as His church. By adopting the
principles of self-exaltation and force, the Roman Church has horribly misrepresented the character of God. But we
can be assured that God is nothing like the Roman Church has portrayed Him to be. In Jesus Christ—as He girds
Himself to wash dirty feet and as He willingly gives His life at the cross without retaliation—we see what God is
really like.

CONNECT
God's love drives Him to tell us the truth, and His love
in us will drive us to hold the truth with humility.

"Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies" (1 Corinthians 8:1). By identifying Catholicism as the "little horn" foretold by
Daniel, and as the great apostate power of history foretold by Paul, Scripture is condemning the system, not
individual people, and the only reason the system is condemned is because God loves the people so much. A
religious system that darkens the character of God by teachings that make Him appear exacting, cruel, and
coercive, can only have the effect of generating either slavish fear or outright rebellion against God in human
hearts. So, the system must be identified for the danger that is and must be indicted by the standard of God's love
to be false. And yet we who understand these prophecies need to remember something crucially important: none
of us are better than the rest of us. We're all inclined to self-exaltation and disinclined to humility. God loves every
member of the human race and Jesus died for all. While the system is warned against as dangerous, the people are
cherished by God as precious objects of His love.

EXPERIENCE
I want to know God for who He really is, in all His
beauty, unobstructed by the false teachings of men who
would dare to put themselves in the place of God.

As I learn the meaning of these prophecies, it is my sincere desire to discover the whole truth as it is unfolded in
Bible prophecy, while at the same time loving those who do not know the truth.

18 THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS

DISCOVER
God has always had a people in the world to proclaim the
knowledge of His true character—in the darkest period
of Earth's history and under the most terrible persecution.
WILDERNESS WOMAN
Revelation 12 is nothing short of astounding. It presents a symbolic prophetic picture that traces the journey of
God's church from the birth of Christ straight down to the end of the world as we know it. Read the entire chapter,
pausing to look up and discuss the scriptures provided as we unpack the rich symbolism of this remarkable
prophecy.

"Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a _______ clothed with the _______, with the _______ under her feet, and
on her head a garland of twelve _______" (Revelation 12:1).

In biblical symbolism a woman represents a church (Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-
23). The sun that clothes the woman represents the healing truth of God's love embodied in Christ, who is called
"the Sun of Righteousness" and the "light of the world" (Malachi 4:2, John 8:12). The moon under her feet is an apt
symbol of the lesser, reflective light of the Old Testament prophecies and symbols that pointed forward to Christ
(Hebrews 1:1-3, 10:1, 5-10).

As John's vision continued unfolding, he noticed that the woman was "with Child" and in labor pain about to give
"birth" (Revelation 12:2). Immediately, John's attention was then shifted to "a great fiery red dragon," which he
identifies as "that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan" (verses 3,9). "And the dragon stood before the woman
who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born" (Verse 4). Christ is here depicted as the
Child of God's covenant promise, born to the world through Israel just as Scripture foretold He would be (Genesis
3:15; 12:1-3; Isaiah 42:6). Satan is portrayed as a dragon attempting to destroy the Babe, the evil King Herod being
the devil's human agent for the grim task (Matthew 2:16). The homicidal attempt failed and Jesus grew up and
achieved His mission to testify of the Father's love (John 1:14, 18; 5:19; 14:9; 16:25-28; 17:3-4), was crucified, rose
from the dead, and was "caught up to God and His throne" (Revelation 12:5). As a result, the New Testament
church was born to the world as a continuation of Israel, now composed of all who would believe the truth about
the Father revealed in Christ (Romans 9:6-9; Galatians 3:29).

At this point, John's vision does a quick fast-forward to reveal "the woman," the church, at a critical phase of her
history:

"Then the woman fled into the _________, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her
there one thousand two hundred and sixty days" (Revelation 12:6).

This is the church during the Dark Ages, when the papal Roman Church was on its rampage of persecution and
drove the faithful followers of Christ into hiding. A day equals a year in Bible prophecy (Ezekiel 4:6), so the 1260
days are 1260 years. Remarkably, just as foretold, history marks off the period of papal supremacy as lasting for
1260 years: from A.D. 538, when the pope was made the official and undisputed ruler of Christendom by the
decree of the Roman Emperor, Justinian, to the year 1798, when General Louis Alexandre Berthier, under
command of Napoleon, dethroned and imprisoned the pope.

Then, in verses 7-12, before going on to further describe the church during her wilderness period, John loops back
to the original "war" between good and evil that "broke out in heaven" between "Michael and His angels" on the
one side and "the dragon and his angels" on the other. The most crucial point to notice is that John ingeniously
merges that initial battle in heaven with the battle between Christ and Satan at the cross, which calls our attention
to the fact that the life and death of Jesus defeated the devil. To discover this connection, read and discuss the
following biblical passages:

Revelation 12:7-12, John 12:31-32, and Colossians 2:15.

John's vision then returns in verses 13-16 to the church in its wilderness period. Having been defeated by Christ at
Cavalry, Satan "persecuted the woman." Again, history unmistakably reveals that the human agency through which
Satan made war on the followers of Christ was none other than the Roman Church, which had become the political
heir to the crumbling pagan Roman Empire. But goes on to inform us that the followers of Jesus were to be
"nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." Back in verse 6 John said that
God had taken the woman into the wilderness so that He might "feed her there." The nourishing and feeding of
the woman in the wilderness indicates that God would keep His true church alive with the pure gospel during the
long Dark Ages of papal wilderness communities that preserved the pure apostolic faith: the Waldenses, the
Huguenots, the Albigenses, and many other groups of believers who, generation after generation, preserved the
Bible and educated their children with the nourishing truth of the gospel.

This prophecy is extremely enlightening because it informs us, to our great relief, that the massive professed
Christian system of Roman Catholicism that so long ruled large segments of the world with coercion and cruelty,
was not, in fact, genuine Christianity. Rather, it was a counterfeit system operating by principles that made it the
enemy of Christ and His true followers. Once we realize that true, apostolic Christianity went underground during
the Dark Ages—into "the wilderness"—it becomes evident that all those bloody persecutions, inquisitions, and
crusades that were perpetrated upon humanity in the name of Christ by the Roman Church only served to
misrepresent Christ rather than make Him known as He truly is.

THE REMNANT OF HER OFFSPRING


In the last verse of Revelation 12 John directs our attention to the end-time continuation of the apostolic faith. For
this verse, use the old King James Version to catch the significance of the idea:

"And the dragon was _______ with the woman, and went to make war with the _______ of her seed, which keep
the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:17, KJV).

The word "remnant" simply means a remaining quantity or piece of something. The idea of a remnant is drawn
form the Old Testament, in which it referred to a representative group of Israel who would be preserved during a
period of war and captivity and then reemerge faithful to God (Isaiah 10:20-22; 11:11, 16; 37:31-32; Jeremiah
23:3). Similarly, "the remnant" of Revelation 12:17 is composed of those who emerged after 1260-year period of
papal persecution to continue on with the preserved apostolic gospel. John tells us that the "remnant" will be
clearly identifiable because they will be a body of believers who "keep the commandments of God and have the
testimony of Jesus Christ."

Again, history bears out the fulfillment of the prophecy. By the end of the 18 th century, papal dominance was at an
end due to the combined impact of the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, and the American
Revolution. People were free at last to think for themselves and to publicly proclaim their faith. According to the
prophecy, this is the period in which we are to look for a remnant people who "keep the commandments of God
and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." And that's exactly what we do find.

By the first half of the 19th century the Protestant Reformation had fragmented into numerous denominations,
each with their special points of recovered truth and each with retained doctrinal errors inherited from the
papacy. At this time, a new movement arose on the scene of history that began to gather up the various truth
recovered by the different branches of Protestantism and to synthesize all of them into a single theological system.
The Advent Movement was composed of believers from various denominations. Baptists, Seventh-day Baptists,
Methodists, to name a few, came together and studied the Scriptures. As a result, a chain of biblical truth was
reassembled, link by link, with the potential to magnify the character of God before the world with restored
apostolic clarity. "The remnant" of the woman's offspring was reemerging from the wilderness. In our next study
we will continue exploring the identity and mission of the remnant.

CONNECT
It is quite amazing that Bible prophecy foretold
hundreds of years in advance that the church of Christ
would come under persecution from a counterfeit
Christian system, flee into the wilderness for 1260 years
to preserve the apostolic faith, and then reemerge at
the end of time to again proclaim the pure gospel.

Paul reminds us that we are to speak "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). The "remnant" concept of Scripture is a
vital truth that can be spoken in such a manner as to make it untrue in spirit. The biblical idea has nothing to do
with elitism, as if remnant is composed of people who are better than everyone else. It is not intended by God to
produce an arrogant us-versus-themism. The remnant of Revelation is a mission-driven movement that everyone
and anyone may be a part of, because it is a call to communicate the truth of God's good character to the world at
large. As human beings, all of us have been impacted by the darkness that fills our world, and all of us need the
light of God's love as revealed in Christ. The remnant is made up of fallen, frail human beings who, just like
everyone else, are sinners dependent on God's grace. Those of us who come to know and believe the prophecy
regarding the remnant are to hold that truth with humility and love, not with arrogance and argumentativeness.

EXPERIENCE
I want to be part of God's remnant movement and
help take the truth of the gospel to the world.

What a privilege and also a responsibility it is to understand the prophecy of Revelation 12! Learning these things
makes me eager to learn more and fills me with motivation to share these things with others. May God continue
opening my mind to the truths of His word and help me to speak the truth in love.

19 THE REMNANT

DISCOVER
During the final phase of human history God will have a people
in the world who will preserve the knowledge of His Law and
point to Jesus as the true revelation of God's character.
GUARDIANS OF THE LAW
Under the symbolism of a woman clothed with the sun, Revelation 12 tells the story of God's church in three
historical phases: The Apostolic Period, the Wilderness Period, and the Remnant Period. In our previous study we
explored the first two of these phases and briefly introduced the third, which we will now look at more deeply by
examining the two key characteristics of the remnant:

"And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest [remnant, KJV] of her
offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).

In study guide 17 we saw that one of the identifying characteristics of the great apostasy foretold in Bible prophecy
is that it would be an antinomian religious system. That is, it would align itself against God's law. Paul specifically
calls that system, "the mystery of lawlessness," and he calls its leader, "the lawless one" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
We noted that the Church of Rome has, indeed, made a specific attack on God's law.

In this historical context it makes total sense for "the remnant," who emerge on the scene of history after the Dark
Ages of papal supremacy, to be identified as a body of believers "who keep the Commandments of God." The
Greek word here translated "keep" is tēreō, which literally means to guard or preserve something, suggesting that
the thing spoken of is in need of protection against attack. And so, in "the remnant" we have a people who, in the
historical trajectory of "the lawless one," guard and preserve God's law.

Just as prophesied, the Advent Movement, arising in the early 19 th century in the direct historical context of the
great antinomian apostasy, discovered in Bible prophecy the foretold attack on God's law and restored it to the
Christian faith. While Catholicism and most Protestant denominations were teaching that God's law was subject to
the alterations men might impose upon it, and some were even teaching that it was completely abolished and,
therefore, of no relevance to the Christian, the Advent Movement began to preach the unchanging nature of God's
law as a transcript of His character. They reaffirmed the second commandment and thus rejected all forms of
image worship, and they played a major role in restoring the Sabbath to its proper place as God's holy day of rest
and worship. BY directing attention to God's law, the movement opened the way for a restored knowledge of
God's true character of love and a comprehension of the issues under dispute in the great war between good and
evil.

THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS


Not only did the prophecy state that the remnant would keep the commandments of God, but also the remnant
would "have the testimony of Jesus Christ." This identifying characteristic is of extreme significance in the historical
context delineated in Revelation 12, because the papal system is not only described in Scripture as antinomian
(against the Law), but also as antichrist (against the gospel of Christ). The apostle John issued this warning:

"Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists
have come" (1 John 2:18).

The prefix "anti" means both against and in place of. The Amplified Bible accurately inserts after "the antichrist" a
helpful interpretive note: "he who will oppose Christ in the guise of Christ."

"Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledge the Son has the Father also" (1
John 2:22-23).

The Greek word here translated "denies" is used by both Peter and Jude to describe false teachers, or those who
claim to represent Christ while falsely portraying Him (2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1:4). Just as Paul indicated in 2
Thessalonians 2:4, the antichrist does not openly deny Christ, by rather "he sits as God in the temple of God,
showing himself that he is God." It is after the antichrist has come and has misrepresented Christ for 1260 years
that John sees "the remnant" stepping onto the open stage of history as people who " have the testimony of Jesus
Christ. "Let's discover from Scripture what this terminology means.

First, the word testimony refers to what a person knows firsthand to be true and makes known to others. John the
Baptist explained that Jesus came to our world "from above" with testimony:

"And what He has _______ and _______, that He _______; and no one receives His _______. He who has received
His _______ has certified that God is _______" (John 3:32-33)

Okay, so Jesus testifies regarding what He has seen and heard. But what is the content, the subject, of the
testimony of Jesus?

"No one has _______ _______ at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the _______, He has
_______ Him" (John 1:18).

"Most assuredly, I say to you, We [Jesus and the Holy Spirit] speak what We _______ and _______ what We have
_______, and you do not receive Our witness" (John 3:11).

"Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He _______ the ______ do; for
whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19)

"As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep…The works that I do in
My Father's name, they bear witness of Me…I and My Father are one…Many good works I have shown you from
My Father" (John 10:15, 25, 30, 32).

"He who has seen me has seen the _______" (John 14:9).

"…for the Father Himself love your" (John 16:27).

All summarized, "the testimony of Jesus" is the "true" revelation of the Father's character of selfless love that Jesus
gave to the world. In the context of the larger biblical narrative, and especially the era of the remnant, the
testimony of Jesus is the truth Jesus made known regarding who God really is in contrast to the false testimony
born against the Father by Satan and the earthly antichrist system that mirrors his false witness.

When Revelation 12:17 says that "the remnant…have the testimony of Jesus," it means that the remnant will bear
special witness regarding God's character by pointing to Jesus in all His beauty as "the Faithful and True Witness"
(Revelation 3:14). And this brings us to a specific end-time manifestation of "the testimony of Jesus" that John says
the remnant will "have."

THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY


In Revelation 19:10 an angel told John, "The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy." What does this mean?
The word "Spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who inspires the minds of prophets: "Holy men of
God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). "The Spirit of prophecy" is the supernatural
phenomenon of a human being receiving special inspired insight from the Holy Spirit. So, the question is, do we
find any manifestation of "the Spirit of prophecy" in the "remnant" phase of the church's history? And the answer
is a resounding Yes!

As the early Advent Movement engaged in earnest Bible study, a you girl named Ellen, just 17 years of age, began
receiving visions with special insight. Rigorously testing by the Bible what she had to say, the Adventist Movement
came to recognize that "the Spirit of prophecy" was upon the young lady. Over the next 70 years Ellen White wrote
numerous books and articles regarding Jesus as the divine Son of God and the Savior of the world, the great
controversy between Christ and Satan, the character of God, and the missionary work of the church. While
repeatedly affirming the Bible alone as the source from which doctrine is to be formulated, she called for focused
attention upon the life and death of Jesus as the perfect revelation of the Father's love:

"There is one great central truth to be kept ever before the mind in the searching of the scriptures—Christ and Him
crucified. Every other truth is invested with influence and power corresponding to it's relation to this theme" (The
Faith I Live By, p.50).

"It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary
it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which
"seeks not her own" has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the
character of Him who dwells in the light which no man can approach unto" (The Desire of Ages, p. 19).

CONNECT
The theological and experiential genius to which the
remnant is called is the harmonious union of the
gospel and the law, faith and works, love manifesting
itself in unforced obedience to God's law.

The remnant is called upon to hold before the world both the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus
Christ. They are to be guardians of God's law while simultaneously pointing to the love of God embodied in Christ
as the only means of salvation. A parallel passage to Revelation 12:17 is Revelation 14:12, which says that God's
end-time people will "keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). The first is
done in the immediate context of the second. God's end-time people obey God's law, not as a means of earning
salvation, but as the fruit of the salvation gifted to them by faith of Jesus. The two are not contrary to one another.
The Law of God does not negate the gospel, nor does the gospel negate the Law. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep
My commandments" (John 14:15), and Paul said that "love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10). Very simply,
love begets love, and that's the whole story of redemption.

EXPERIENCE
Count me in, for sure. I want to be a part of what God is
doing right now in our world through His remnant people.

I love you, Father, because You have first loved me (1 John 4:19). Thank you for getting my attention and
entrusting me with the truths of Your word. Empower me to be faithful to You in the light of Your faithfulness to
me, and to hold the truth with humility and kindness.

20 THE DAY OF ATONEMENT


DISCOVER
Right now we are living in the final phase of
redemption history, during which God will bring
final and full resolution to the sin problem.

SEALING AND OPENING


God is on a constant communication quest because He wants us to know what He's up to in human history so we
can be involved. In this study we will consider a Bible prophecy about God's current activity that invites our
engagement.

Begin by reading Revelation 10, and then compare Daniel 8:14,26; 12:4-10.

A correlation of these passages makes it clear that the two prophets, through separated by nearly 600 years, were
addressing one and the same topic: the sealing and opening of Daniel's prophecies. One of Daniel's visions
included prophecy, which was of particular interest to him:

"For two thousand three hundred days; then the _______ shall be _______" (Daniel 8:14).

When Daniel prayed for understanding of the vision he was told by an angel that it pertained "to many days in the
future" rather than to his own time. "Therefore, seal up the vision," the angel said. Later, Daniel was again told,
"Shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and from, and acknowledge
shall be increased. "This odd terminology refers to an ancient method of study. The scrolls of Scripture were
unrolled on long tables and the student would "run" back and forth comparing scripture with scripture. The angel
is telling Daniel that his sealed "book" will be opened to the understanding of "many" who will search the
scriptures during the end-time period of history.

The same angel that told Daniel to "shut" his book appeared to the apostle John with "a little book open in his
hand" (Revelation 10:2). Then the angel instructed John to enact a prophecy:

"Go, take the title _______ which is _______ in the hand of the angel. . . Take and _______ it; and it will make your
stomach _______, but it will be as _______ as honey in your mouth" (verses 8-9).

At the end of time the book of Daniel would be eaten, or studied, and its sealed prophecies would be understood.
And yet, there would be something both sweet and bitter about the experience.

Just as foretold, during the first half of the 19th century a unique Bible study phenomenon emerged on the scene of
history with a specific interest in comprehending the prophecies of Daniel. "Many" were, indeed, running "to and
fro" in Scripture. A key figure at the forefront of the movement was an American Baptist preacher named William
Miller. Many preachers around the world understood what is commonly referred to as the day-for-a-year principle
of prophetic interpretation (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34). They knew that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 represented
2300 years. Miller noticed that the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9 was actually a breakdown of events that would
occur within the first 490 years of the larger 2300-year period (see study guide 6). This meant that the event given
by Gabriel to mark beginning of the 490-year prophecy also marked the beginning of the 2300-year prophecy.

The event was "the command to restore and build Jerusalem," which was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in
457 BC (Daniel 9:25; Ezra 7:11-12). With that starting date, Miller realized that the 2300-day prophecy would end
in 1844.
This meant that something of extreme prophetic importance was going to happen in 1844. But what? William
Miller and Bible students around the world concluded that the event to be expected must be the second advent of
Jesus. The message went around the world, "Jesus is coming in 1844!" But He didn't come. Just as John foretold,
the experience that began as "sweet in the mouth" turned out to be "bitter in the belly." The devastating
experience became known as, "The Great Disappointment." Miller and the Advent believers were wrong, plain and
simple. It was all a huge mistake. Or was it?

Read Revelation 10:11 and discuss what this meant for the disappointed Advent believers and what it means for us
today:

"And he said unto me, Thou must _______ _______ before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings"
(Revelation 10:11, KJV).

THE SANCTUARY
A handful of scattered advent believers regrouped and began to retrace their steps through Scripture. Two things
became clear:

First, they had assumed that the cleansing of the sanctuary foretold by Daniel must point to the cleansing of the
earth by fire at the second coming of Jesus. But now they saw that there was no biblical evidence to suggest that
the earth was the sanctuary. That was their mistake. The time for the prophecy to be fulfilled was undeniably sold,
but they had expected the wrong event.

Second, they had discovered that the ancient sanctuary built by Israel was a symbol of the true tabernacle in
heaven, where Jesus ministers as our great High Priest. Read and discuss Hebrews 8:1-5 and Psalm 102:19 to
discover this connection for yourself. They discovered that the sanctuary served as a symbolic outline of plan of
salvation that would unfold in three historical phases: (1) the life and death of Jesus, correlating to the Courtyard.
(2) the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as our mediator to minister the benefits of His atoning sacrifice,
correlating to the Holy Place. (3) the final resolution of the sin problem by Jesus as our High Priest, correlating to
the Most Holy Place.

In the ancient symbolic sanctuary, the daily sacrifices would be slain in the Courtyard and burned on the altar,
pointing forward to the sacrificing of Christ. Some of the blood from each sacrifice would then be taken into the
Holy Place and sprinkled seven times on the veil before the Most Holy Place, symbolizing that the sacrificing of
Jesus would provide continual atonement after His resurrection.

And then came the grand climax of the entire symbolic system.

On the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month, called Yom Kippur on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would
enter the Most Holy Place to make a final application of the atonement with the blood of a sacrificial goat. Then he
would send away a second goat, called "the scapegoat" or Azazel, into the desert, thus signifying the final end of
evil and its instigator, Satan.

So, it was that the Day of Atonement ceremony pointed forward to the final resolution of the sin problem. Daniel's
prophecy indicated the time when the great antitypical Day of Atonement would begin, and John foretold the
bittersweet experience of the Bible students that would make this discover. The Day of Atonement and the
cleansing of the sanctuary, they realized, were one and the same event. In 1844 Jesus had entered into the climatic
phase of the plan of salvation. He was now presiding as High Priest over the final resolution of the sin problem
preparatory to His second coming.
CONNECT
As our heavenly High Priest, Jesus ministers for us as the
"one Mediator between God and man" (1 Timothy 2:5).

There are life-transforming benefits available to us as we look to Jesus Christ as our great High Priest. He
"sympathizes with out weaknesses" and invites us to "come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain
mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16). He also opens the way for us to enter by faith to
"the Presence behind the veil," into a sense of "strong consolation" before God (6:18-19). "Consolation" means
comfort, the opposite of discomfort. Wow! So, Jesus is leading us to a position of strong comfort before God,
resolving in us everything that makes us uncomfortable with Him. He also accomplishes in us the reality of the new
covenant by writing His law in our minds and hearts and feely forgiving "our sins and lawless deeds" (8:10-12). He
cleanses our "conscience from dead works" —works rendered from a sense of guilt in order to earn salvation—so
that we can "serve the living God" free from all sense of need to earn His favor (9:14). And finally, by virtue of His
"once for all" sacrifice for all sin, Jesus has entered the Most Holy Place for us all, "having obtained eternal
redemption" so that we can stand in "the judgment" knowing that He has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself"
(Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26-28).

EXPERIENCE
Knowing that we are living in the Day of
Atonement is both sobering and exciting.

It is my purpose to lodge all my hope for confident standing before God in the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf. I
look to Him alone as my Mediator and High Priest, inviting Him to cleanse my conscience from all sense of need to
merit God's favor and I ask Him to write His Law of love in my mind and heart. Knowing and believing His great love
for me is what gives me boldness in the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:16-18).

21 THE FIRST ANGEL'S MESSAGE

DISCOVER
God has demonstrated in Christ that He is relationally faithful
to all others at any and all cost to Himself. All who believe the
good news will worship Him with aw, magnify the beauty of His
character, and stand before Him with confidence in the judgement.
TO EVERY PERSON ON EARTH
In Revelation 14:6-12 we encounter a series of three angels flying over the earth proclaiming God's last message to
humanity, symbolizing the work of God's church just prior to the second coming of Christ (verses 14-20). In this
[truth] Link study guide we will explore the first angel's message.

Read the first angel's message in Revelation 14:6-7 and notice its five parts:

1. The everlasting _______

2. _______ God

3. And give _______ to Him

4. For the hour of His _______ has come

5. And _______ Him who _______ heaven and earth

After working through each of the five sections below, return to the top of each section and write in your own one-
sentence explanation of the subject covered.

THE GOOD NEWS


1. The everlasting gospel = _______________________________________________________________________.

The word "gospel" simply means good news. The word "everlasting" means eternal or always. So, the "everlasting
gospel" tells us something super positive about God that has always been true and always will be true. But what?
Notice how Jeremiah 31:3 uses the word everlasting:

"Yes, I have _______ you with an everlasting _______; therefore with _______ I have drawn you.

The word here translated "lovingkindness" is chesed in Hebrew. It means faithfulness or unfailing love. The gospel
is the truth of God's faithful love toward us expressed through Jesus. Speaking of the content of the gospel, Paul
says that "in it the righteousness of God is revealed" (Romans 1:17). The gospel is good news because it reveals the
kind of God that God is; it opens His character to our understanding; it discloses the way God thinks and feels and
behaves in relation to us as sinners. And its good news because, it turns out, God in righteous in the way He relates
to us.

"Righteousness" is a biblical word that basically equates to the idea of relational faithfulness or an unbroken
pattern of other-centeredness (Hosea 2:19-20; Psalm 36:5-8; 37:21; 40:10; 143:1). When the Bible says that God is
righteous it means that God always does what is right for others (Deuteronomy 32:4; Zephaniah 3:5).
Righteousness is described as living by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:16) and as faith working by love (Galatians
5:5-6). The word righteousness is closely associated with the concept of covenant keeping (Isaiah 42:6; Daniel 9:4,
7). From His side of the relationship, regardless of what we do, God maintains relational integrity (Lamentations
3:22-23; Isaiah 11:5; 2 Timothy 2:13). He remains faithful to us no matter what pain to Himself that faithfulness
necessitates. This is why the righteousness of Christ led Him to the cross (Isaiah 53:11; Romans 5:8). The question
that hung before the universe was, Does God love others more than Himself? The cross answered the question
with a resounding Yes! When Jesus breathed His last agonizing breath at Calvary without exerting His power to
perform a single act of retaliation or self-preservation, it was proven beyond all doubt that God loves all others
above and before Himself. This is why Paul pointed to the self-sacrificing death of Christ on the cross as the very
gospel itself. At the cross we see the ultimate enactment of the righteousness of God's character in putting all
other first (1 Corinthians 1:9, 17-18; 2:2; 15:1-4). And that's the gospel in all its sublime beauty!
So, then, what does God's righteousness (His faithful love) mean for us on a practical level? Read and discuss
Romans 3:20-31 for Paul's explanation of God's righteousness as the basis of our salvation. Carefully think through
what Paul is saying in this passage, because it is the best news you will ever hear. All of us are guilty sinners and if
left to ourselves our sin and guilt will destroy us. And yet, because of "God's righteousness"—the faithfulness of
His character that moves Him to keep on loving us in spite of our guilt—He has chosen to give us a justified
standing of innocence before Him at the cost of great suffering on His part. We are made righteous by means of
God's righteousness!

This, Paul says, is the good news! And this, says the first angel's message, is what God's end -time church is to
proclaim to every person on earth.

OUR RESPONSE TO THE GOOD NEWS


2. Fear God = __________________________________________________________________________________.

Why, then, in the tremendously positive context would the first angel's message go on to say, "Fear God?"

The word fear is used two ways in Bible. In one usage it is a negative fear, like terror that evil people who persist in
evil ought to feel at the thought of righteous God to whom they are ultimately accountable (Psalm 9:20; 14:4-6;
36:1-3; Isaiah 33:14). The second way the word fear is used is in the sense of being awestruck at God's mercy and
goodness (Psalm 22:23; 25:14; 31:19; 33:8; 18; 40:3-4; 89:7; 115:11; Psalm 130:4). The "fear-God" proclamation of
the first angel may mean "be afraid" or "be awestruck." Both are possible emotional responses to God. It all
depends on whether the individual person having the encounter senses guilt or innocence before God. According
to 1 John 4:16-19, when we know and believe the love God has for us—the gospel—the terror kind of fear is cast
out of our hearts and we experience confidence before God. So, for those who believe the gospel, the first angel's
message says, In the light of the good news of God's faithful love for you, be amazed with awe at who God is and
what He's done for you

3. Give glory to Him = ___________________________________________________________________________.

The word "glory" (doxa) literally means to declare a high opinion, judgement, or view of a person. In this case, we
are called upon to give glory to God in the light of the gospel. The glory of God is His good character (Exodus 33:18-
19). To give glory to God is to proclaim, in word and dead, the beautiful reality of His goodness, confessing that our
"righteousness and sanctification and redemption" are all from the Lord and not of our own manufacturing (1
Corinthians 1:30-31; Matthew 5:16).

4. The hour of His judgement = ___________________________________________________________________.

The first angel goes on the announce, "for the hour of his judgement has come," God has appointed a time for the
final judgement of humanity, which Jesus and Paul knew to be future to their time (Matthew 12:36; Acts 17:310. In
Acts 24:24-25 Paul reasoned with Felix of the "judgement to come." The first angel's message is proclaimed to
those who are living during that juncture of history when "the hour of His judgement has come."

Some people make bad news out of the judgement, but actually it's good news. The prophet Daniel tells us why.
First, when God's final judgement happens, "the beast"—Daniel's term for the antichrist system that wages war
against god and His people—will be "slain" (Daniel 7:9-11). Second, "judgment" will be "made in favor of the saints
of the Most High" (Daniel 7:21-22). In the light of God's faithful love for us, we can have "boldness in the Day of
Judgement" (1 John 4:16-17). That's why the judgement is good news—because the Judge is just and good in all
His judgements (Psalm 9:8; Isaiah 33:22).

5. Worship Him who made = _____________________________________________________________________.


This part of the first angel's message quotes from the fourth commandment, the one regarding the Sabbath. Read
Exodus 20:8-11 and discover why this message, which is for those living at the end-time segment of history, would
direct our attention to the Sabbath. First, the Sabbath is the one commandment among the Ten that identifies that
God of the biblical story as the Creator of all things, or Jesus Christ Himself (Exodus 20:8-11; Colossians 1:16-17;
Mark 2:27-28). Secondly, the Sabbath teaches us to rest in dependence upon our Creator for salvation rather than
work to earn it, which is the central truth of the gospel (Ephesians 2:8-10). And thirdly, the Sabbath logically fits in
the historical context of the end-time message because, as we have discovered in guide 17, a counterfeit system of
Christianity has aligned itself against both the law and the gospel. By pointing to the Sabbath, the first angel's
message is calling the attention of the world to God's downtrodden Law of love and to the rest we have Christ
alone for our salvation.

CONNECT
The gospel of Christ is a complete
paradigm shift for the human mind.

Paul tells us that it is Satan's special aim to put a mental veil over the gospel to block our view of God's character,
but in Jesus the light of God's glory illuminates our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). All the religions of the world
present the human predicament as one in which we must by some means ascend to God and save ourselves. By
contrast, the gospel announces that God has come down to save us by virtue of His faithful love. Human religious
offer good advice regarding what men and women ought to do, must do, had better do to lift themselves up, to
save themselves, to win God's favor. The gospel of Christ offers good news regarding what God has done for us in
Christ because of the sheer goodness of His character. Mere good advice for behavior modification can only
generate a sense of obligation to try harder and then impose more guilt when we fail. The good news of God's
faithful love revealed in Christ arouses a deep sense of gratitude and awe, awakening in us a desire to live for
God's glory. The natural motive to preserve self gives away to the new motive of love for God in the light of His
love for us.

EXPERIENCE
What an amazing message this is!
I want to be a part of getting the gospel out.

It is my decision to receive the first angel's message into my own heart and to help share it with our world.
Everybody needs to hear the good news of God's faithful love, to be in awe of such an incredible God as this, to
give Him glory for all He has done to save us, to worship Him as Creator and Savior, and to stand with assurance in
the judgement. May my life point to Him!
22 THE SECOND ANGEL'S MESSAGE

DISCOVER
Our world is filled with dark confusion regarding the character
of God and the way of salvation. God is calling us out of the
confusion into the beautiful light of His love manifested in Christ.

In our previous study guide we learned that Revelation 14:6-12 contains a series of three crucial messages for the
inhabitants of earth leading up to the second coming of Christ. The first angel's message, we discovered, is "the
everlasting gospel"—the eternal good news of God's faithful love tangibly acted out toward us in Christ. Now we
will explore the second angel's message:

"And another angel followed, saying, '_______ is fallen, is fallen, that great _______, because she has made all
nations drink of the _______ of the wrath of her _______!'" (Revelation14:8)

Babylon is a big deal in the Bible, First, there is ancient Babylon, which begins with the Tower of Babel. Babylon
then develops into an empire characterized by self-exaltation and false worship, only to fall under the weight of its
own pride. Then, in Revelation the memory of ancient Babylon is employed as a symbol for the end-time global
system that deceives and dominates the world.

ANCIENT BABYLON
Explore the following characteristics of ancient Babylon by looking up and discuss each scripture provided:

1. Rebillion and Unbelief: Babel was founded by a man named "Nimrod," a name that means rebel. In the biblical
narrative there is a specific context to Nimrod's rebellion. The human race had become almost universally evil
and was on the verge of extinction through violence (Genesis 6:1-13). God intervened by bringing a flood upon
the world and starting over with Noah. After the Flood, God entered into a covenant with Noah that included
a promise that there would never again be a worldwide flood (8:20-22; 9:8-17). Against this immediate
backdrop we encounter Nimrod, the rebel, aligning himself against God by launching a tower-building venture
of unbelief in God's covenant promise (Genesis 10:8-10).

2. Self-exaltation: Following through with Nimrod's rebellion, the people of Babel attempted to build a tower
whose top would reach up to heaven. Rather than embracing God's covenant promise, they were endeavoring
to save themselves from the threat of another flood, although God had promised that there wouldn't be one.
The Babel builders went about to establish their own system of salvation (Genesis 11:1-4).

3. Confusion: As the builders of the Tower of Babel were engaged in their audacious enterprise of self-
preservation, God confused their language. The resulting communication breakdown brought their quest to
and end and scattered the people throughout the earth, preventing the consolidation of power and evil as had
occurred before the Flood (Genesis 11:4-9).

4. Forced Worship: Babylon reached the height of its development under King Nebuchadnezzar, who personified
self-exaltation as the core principle of Babylon (Daniel 4:30). Acting out the principle of self-exaltation to tis
logical conclusion, King Nebuchadnezzar established a system of worship with himself at the center,
employing civil laws and threatened penalties to enforce his dominance. He built an image made of gold to
symbolize his kingdom, a bold statement intended to negate all other kingdoms, including the kingdom of
God. Then he commanded that all "peoples, nations, and languages" should "fall down and worship the
golden image" on pain of death for dissenters (Daniel 3).

5. The Fall of Babylon: In Daniel 5 we read the account of the fall of Babylon. King Belshazzar threw a decadent,
idolatrous party during which he "lifted up" himself and openly blasphemed the God of heaven. As the party
ensured, a bodiless hand appeared and wrote on the wall, "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN"—indicating that
the kingdom of Babylon was at an end and would fall to the Medes and the Persians. The point of the story is
that lifting up self brings self down.

6. Because of the shared attributes of self-exaltation and dominance over others, Isaiah employed the King of
Babylon as a symbol of Lucifer himself (Isaiah 14:1-17). Jeremiah likened Babylon to a "dragon," the biblical
symbol for Satan, with emphasis on the attribute of "violence" (Jeremiah 51:34-35, KJV; Revelation 12:7-9).

Read and discuss Philippians 2:5-11, taking careful notice of the downward steps Jesus took that led to His eternal
exaltation, demonstrating that humility and self-giving love are the true principles of greatness. Then, by contrast,
read in Isaiah 14:12-15 of the upward aspirations of Lucifer, noticing that his quest to exalt himself will finally lead
to his eternal downward demise.

END-TIME BABYLON
Revelation 17 gives us ample data to make a positive identification of the power that constitutes end-time
Babylon.

1. Babylon is depicted under the symbolism of a "great harlot" (verse 1). In Scripture God's people are
symbolized by a pure woman or bride (Jeremiah 6:2). It logically follows that a "harlot" represents an
unfaithful church.

2. The harlot "sits on many waters" (verse 1), representing "peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues" (verse
15). This is an international religious system that encompasses large segments of human population.

3. "The kings of the earth committed fornication" with her (verse 2). She is a church that has engaged in political
alliances to achieve her ends. The angel stated further to John that "the woman whom you saw is that great
city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (verse 18). She is a church that operates simultaneously as a
state and has ruled over various kings during her nefarious career.

4. She was "full of names of blasphemy" (verse 3). Blasphemy is defined as a human being claiming to occupy the
position of God (John 10:33) or claiming the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:7).

5. John says that the harlot had "in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her
fornication" (verse 4). So, this is a church that has committed horrible acts in the course of her illicit political
maneuvering.

6. She was "drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (verse 6). This is a
church that has killed many people in the name of God.
7. And finally, the harlot is "that great city" that "sits" on, or is geographically situated on "seven mountains"
(verse 9,18).

From these seven identifiers, Babylon is a large, multinational church-state system that has claimed the position of
God on earth, has formed political alliances that have resulted in horrible outcomes upon the world, and has shed
the blood of many martyrs. When john wrote this detailed profile of Babylon in the first century, the power he was
pointing to did not yet exist. From our vantage point in history it is unmistakably clear that John was describing in
advance the Roman Catholic church-state, which alone fulfills all the points of identification given.

Read Revelation 18 and with the aid of these questions discuss the eventual fall of end-time Babylon:

Verse 1 — The fall of Babylon is precipitated by the "glory" of a message illuminating the world. What does the
word "glory" refer to? Compare Exodus 34:18-19; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6; Colossians 1:27.

Verse 2 — What kinds of non-human influences are at work in Babylon? Compare Mark 9:25; Revelation 16:13.

Verse 3, 9-20 — To what degree is Babylon involved with our world's economic system and its eventual failure?

Verse 4-5 — What is God's call to His people who are in the Babylonian system? Compare Hosea 2:23.

Verse 7 — Who does Babylon glorify and how does she live? Compare John 7:18; Hebrews 5:5.

In summary, the second angel's message opens our eyes to the fact that the professed Christian system that has
passed itself off as God's one true and universal church has actually filled the world with dark confusion regarding
God by posturing itself with self-exaltation and coercion, just like Babylon of old. We also see that this religious
system is confederated with a larger political system that encompasses many nations. But the second angel's
message also informs us that end-time Babylon will ultimately fall under the weight of the beauty of the truth
about God brought to light through the proclamation of the gospel.

CONNECT
In Scripture, Babylon is the archetypal kingdom of evil,
embodying a composite of attributes that run directly contrary
to the character of God while professing to represent God.

Contrary to popular Christian opinion, atheism is not the worst thing in the world. Bad religion is. The reason is
obvious: many people in our world either serve God as fear-driven slaves or hate God as if He were cruel monster,
in both cases due to the way false religion has misrepresented God. The Bible speaks directly about bad religion in
general and bad Christianity in particular. The second angel's message brings relief and liberation from all anti-love
images of God that counterfeit religion has pushed on the world and calls upon each of us to come out of the
confusion into the illuminating truth of God's glory as revealed in Christ. And yet, Babylon isn't merely that big bad
religious and political system out there, rather it is in all of us. Paul urged us to recognize that "the carnal mind is
enmity against God" (Romans 8:7), which is an indictment that includes all of us. The great protester himself,
Martin Luther, insightfully observed, "I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I
have within me the great pope, Self." The papacy is simply a corporate manifestation of the universal human
inclination to exalt self in the place of God, to justify self rather than rest in God's justifying grace, and to control
our fellow human beings by coercion tactics rather than grant liberty of conscience.
EXPERIENCE
By God's grace I want my life to reflect the self-giving,
non-coercive love of God in all my relationships.

John says of Babylon, "She glorified herself" and that she made "merchandise" of the "bodies and souls of men"
(Revelation 18:7, 13). It is self-evident that any religious system that exerts itself with self-exaltation and force over
others is inherently wrong and opposed to the love of God so clearly revealed in Jesus Christ. I accept God's call to
come out of all such religious systems, and I pray God will take the principles of Babylon out of me.

23 THE THIRD ANGEL'S MESSAGE

DISCOVER
All true worship is motivated by love for God in the light
of His love for us, because only by love is love awakened.

THE BEAST AND HIS IMAGE


The idea of coerced worship is a contradiction of terms. Where coercion exists, genuine worship does not. When
the Bible says, "God is love," it means, at a bare minimum, that God only desires a relationship with us that
preserves our freedom. The third angel's message warns of a coming global crisis in which worship laws will be
imposed upon the world by a false Christian system.

Begin by reading Revelation 14:9-12.

A "beast" in Bible prophecy symbolizes a kingdom (Daniel 7:17, 23). The "beast" warned about in the third angel's
message is identified in Revelation 13:1-10. Seven identifying characteristics are given:

Verse 1 — The beast rises to power "out of the sea." Compare Revelation 17:15.

Verse 1 — He has "seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns." Compare Daniel 7:24, Revelation
17:9-10.

Verse 2 — He was "like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth was like the mouth of a lion."
Compare Daniel 7:4-6.

Verse 2 — "The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority." Compare Daniel 7:7-8; Revelation
12:9.

Verse 5 — "He was given authority to continue forty-two months." Compare Revelation 12:6; Ezekiel 4:6.

Verse 6 — "He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God." Compare Daniel 7:8, 11, 25.
Verse 7 — He made "war with the saints." Compare Daniel 7:21, 25.

What kingdom in history rose to power among ten nations populated with different language groups, came to
power in the succession of the empires delineated by Daniel, received its political throne from the fourth beast in
Daniel's succession (Rome), reigned for a period of 1260 years, blasphemed God by its teachings, and exercised its
power to persecute the followers of Jesus? Only one answer can be given: the papal Roman Empire. And while the
answer may bring initial discomfort, it opens a doorway to relief and liberation by giving us permission to believe
better things about God than the Church of Rome has conveyed during its dark and bloody history.

The third angel's message goes on to sound a warning regarding the "image" of the beast. The basic M.O. of the
beast is that is uses force in the name of God. It logically follows that "the image of the beast" will take shape when
the Roman Church eventually prevails upon some political power to act as the enforcer of its religious authority.
But what political power? Revelation 13:11-15 makes a positive identification for us.

Whereas the papacy is described as rising to power from the sea, or from a populated multilingual geographic
location, the second beast brought to view in Revelation 13 is describes as "coming up out the earth," or in a
relatively undeveloped land. Whereas the papacy is depicted as a composite of predatory beasts, this beast is "like
a lamb," the docile beast that symbolizes Christ (John 1:29). And whereas the papacy is described as ruling in a
geographic location with ten horns (nations) and on his horns ten crowns, indicating nations ruled by kings, the
lamb-like beast has two horns without crowns, indicating a nation with no king. So what nation rose to power after
the historic 1260-year reign of the papacy, in a relatively undeveloped new land, with a lamb-like governmental
structure, and without the rule of kings? It is obvious that Bible prophecy is here describing the rise of Protestant
America.

THE MARK OF THE BEAST


We can easily deduce what he "mark of the beast" is by nothing the words uses to describe its basic nature:

"If any man _______ the beast and his image, and receive his _______ in his forehead, or in his hand…" (14:9, KJV).
And the lamb-like beast will "speak" through its laws "like a dragon" to "cause" those who do "not _______ the
image of the beast to be killed…and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the _______" (13:11, 15-17).

Clearly, then, the mark of the beast has to do with "worship" and will be imposed by means of civil laws. This
makes perfect sense because, as we've seen, the beast is a false religious system. It follows that the mark of the
beast will be some type of coerced means by which the beast will receive spiritual allegiance.

A second clue is that the mark is received in the "forehead" or in the "hand." It has to do with worship, which calls
for the loyalty of the mind or the compliance of the body. Some people will believe in the system while others will
merely yield the homage of their hand for fear of the threatened consequences.

A third clue is "the seal of God," which is described in Revelation as being "in the forehead" (7:2-3). If we can
ascertain what God's seal is, we will have no problem identifying the mark of the beast, for they are conflicting
expressions of faith in two opposing systems of worship. When John speaks of the seal of God in the forehead he is
drawing the idea from Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Song of Solomon 8:6-7. These passages make it clear that the seal
of God has to do with God's law and God's love being written in our hearts (forehead) and manifested in our
actions (hand). Paul adds to the concept by informing us that the Holy Spirit is the active agent who brings about
the seal of God within us (Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30).

It is not surprising, then, to discover that God's Law contains all the elements of an ancient seal. The word seal
comes from a Greek word that means a signet or sign. In ancient times a seal was employed by persons of
authority to make their unique mark on documents and laws, much as a signature operates today. Three pieces of
vital information were included in a seal: (1) the name of the person whose authority was represented, such as
Nero; (2) his title, Emperor; and (3) his territory, Rome Empire. Sure enough, these three elements are present in
God's law, within the very commandment that has to do with worship. Read Exodus 20:8-11 and list the three
elements that compose a seal:

1. Name: __________. 2. Title: __________. 3. Territory: __________.

The Sabbath is explicitly called "a sign" between God and His people (Ezekiel 20:12, 20). As we discovered in study
guide 12, the Sabbath is God's holy day of rest that reminds us that He is both our Creator and our Redeemer. As
such, the Sabbath is the perfect sign or seal of the salvation we have by grace through faith in Christ alone. By
contrast, notice what the Roman Church regards as the mark of its authority:

"Of course, the Catholic church claims that the change [from Sabbath to Sunday] was her act. And the act is the
mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters" (Faith of Our Fathers, p. 14, C.F. Thomas,
Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons).

According to Revelation 13, the day is coming when Protestant America, acting as the political ally of the Roman
Church, will "speak like a dragon" and use its powers of state to enforce the mark of papal authority, Sunday
observance. At that point, when Sunday is enforced as a day of rest by civil law, it will constitute the mark of the
beast.

THE RESISTANCE
The third angel's message closes by pointing to a people who resist the beast system:

"Here is the _______ of the saints; here are those who keep the ______ of God and the ______ of Jesus"
(Revelation 14:12).

The word here translated "patience" is hypomonē and means endurance, perseverance, constancy. In this context,
the point is clear: God will have a people who endure the mark of the beast crisis without yielding. But their
resistance will not be impelled by sheer willpower. Rather, they will be moved by "the faith of Jesus" to "keep the
commandments of God." Here we see the vital fusion of the two factors that compose the theology and
experience of those who preserve as through the crisis. They have faith in " the faith of Jesus"—His faithfulness to
man as God and His faithfulness to God as incarnate man—as the sole basis of their salvation. And that reliance
upon Him leads them to "keep the commandments of God." They are experiential believers in the pure gospel Paul
describes as "righteousness by faith … faith working through love" (Galatians 5:5-6).

The mark of the beast will come upon the world as a liberty-violating religious enforcement based on a false
picture of God's character. By contrast, the theology and experience of those who stand in resistance against the
mark of the beast will lead them to do so precisely because they know that coercion kills true worship while love
alone motivates it.

CONNECT
Non-coercive love is the essence of God's character, and
any system of religion or government that employs civil law
in matters of worship reveals that it does not represent God.
The Constitution of the United States enshrines two vital truth of the gospel: first, that all human beings are
created equal, thus defying the right of any man, pope or king, to rule their fellow men; and second, that all human
beings are created innately free, thus acknowledging liberty of conscience as the natural state of humanity and the
only state of being in which true worship may occur. And yet, the third angel's message warns that the American
experiment with liberty will thus become the facilitating political engine that will bring upon the world a crisis of
individual conscience and character. Pressures will be brought to bear upon the world that will drive every person
on earth to act out their picture of God.

EXPERIENCE
I am so thankful that God wants my heart
and not my outward compliance against my will.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17). The fact that God saves me while
simultaneously preserving my freedom is such good news. I will serve Him with my whole heart, not because I
have, but because I want to.

24 THE SECOND COMING

DISCOVER
The entire biblical narrative rushes forward
to a single point of climatic beauty.
Jesus will return to receive the church as His eternal bride.

WHY WILL JESUS COME AGAIN?


In biblical times, when a man was in love with a woman and wanted to maker her his wife, he would engage in
pattern of matrimonial customs common to that culture. First, was the wrong phase, in which respectfully interact
with woman in such a way as to draw her to himself and discern if her interest was mutual. Once drawn to him,
they would enter into the courtship phase, an exclusive relationship in which they would grow in their love for one
another. Then, once the proposal was made, the man would depart from his beloved back to his family, comforting
her with the promise of his soon return and the assurance that he was only departing for the purpose of preparing
a place for her in his father's house. Once the preparations were completed, he would return for his bride, marry
her, and take her to the place prepared for her to be with him for the rest of her life.

In various passages of the Old Testament, God portrays Himself as a pursuing lover and hopeful husband to His
covenant people. Explore and discuss this rich imagery in the following scriptures: Isaiah 54:5; Ezekiel 16:4-8;
Hosea 2:19-20.
Against this beautiful matrimonial backdrop, it is not surprising, then, that when Jesus came into the world John
the Baptist viewed Him as "the bridegroom" who had now come for His "bride" (John 3:29). As the public ministry
of Jesus unfolded, multitudes were attracted to Him. As His ministry was coming to a close, Jesus said, "And I, if I
am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 12:32).

Draw!

Not push, not force, not require or demand, but draw!

This is the language of love. Jesus died on the cross, bearing our guilt, to reveal how deeply He loves us in the hope
that the beauty of His love would attract us to Him as the divine Lover of our souls.

Shortly after announcing His intent to draw humanity to Himself by the display of His love at Calvary, Jesus had a
conversation with His disciples in which He invoked the matrimonial customs of their culture:

"Let not your heart be _______; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many _______; if
it were not so, I would have told you. I go to _______ a _______ for you. And if I go and _______ a _______ for
you, I will _______ _______ and _______ you to _______; that _______ I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-
3).

Jesus is returning to Earth for one reason: because He deeply, passionately, ardently loves us and wants to spend
eternity in intimate fellowship with us. The Second Coming of Jesus will be great climatic event of human history
and the ultimate matrimonial consummation of Christ's faithful love for His church.

When the apostle Paul talks about marriage he uses it as a symbolic springboard to describe the love of Christ for
His church. Read (Ephesians 5:25-33 and see what additional insights you can draw regarding the love of Jesus for
His people.

WHEN WILL JESUS COME AGAIN?


Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus pronounced a heartbroken lament over Jerusalem and simultaneously foretold
His second coming:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are to her! How often I wanted to
gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your
house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in
the name of the Lord!'" (Matthew 22:37-39).

The disciples were understandably troubled and perplexed by such a negative prophetic outlook for Israel, so they
called Jesus' attention to the impressive "building of the temple." Jesus responded by saying, "Do you not see all
these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown
down." Curious about both the destruction of Jerusalem and His Second Coming, the disciples asked Jesus a
question:

"Tell us, _______ will these things be? And what will be the _______ of Your _______, and the end of the world?"
(Matthew 24:1-3, KJV).

In response, Jesus proceeded to outline at least nine signs that will precede His Second Coming. Read Matthew
24:4-14 and list these signs:

1. _______ 2. _______

3. _______ 4. _______
5. _______ 6. _______

7. _______ 8. _______

9. _______

Of course, all of these things have been going on throughout the world from the time of Christ to the present. So,
the events themselves are not especially unique. But in verse 8 Jesus explained how these kinds of events will
constitutes signs of His second coming: "All these are the beginning of sorrows," He said. The Greek word here
translated sorrows is odin, which literally means "birth pains," as it is rendered in the English Standard Version.
There are two characteristics of labor pains: they become more frequent and more intense as the time of delivery
draws closer and closer. By employing this symbolism Jesus has informed us that while things like pestilences,
famine, war, and natural disasters have always afflicted the world to some degree, they will become more
frequent and more intense as the time for His returns draws near.

Also, in 2 Timothy 3:15, the apostle Paul offers a list of 20 indicators to let us know when the Second Coming of
Jesus is drawing near. Read the passage and discuss how these kinds of things are increasingly defining our world's
popular culture in more and more open and pervasive ways.

HOW WILL JESUS COME AGAIN?


After His resurrection Jesus met with His disciples to outline the mission of the church to proclaim the good news
of God's saving grace to the world: "It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His
own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to
Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). After speaking these final
departing words, "while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (verse 9).
Now read verses 10 and 11 and discuss how the angels described to the disciples the "manner" of Jesus' Second
Coming.

To further construct a clear picture of the manner in which Christ will return, allow the following scriptures to
answer a series of questions:

How many people will witness the Second Coming of Jesus? Revelation 1:7 ________________________________.

Describing the "appearing" of Jesus, what word did Paul use to indicate that it will be a spectacular visible event?
Titus 2:13 _____________________________________________________________________________________.

According to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, what will happen to "the dead in Christ" when Jesus returns? ___________.
And when Jesus returns, where will the resurrected saints and "those who are alive" at the Second Coming "meet
the Lord?" ____________________________________________________________________________________.

How many of the holy angels will attend Jesus at His Second Coming? Matthew 25:31 _______________________.

Most importantly, how will Jesus distinguish those who are the sheep (the saved) from those who are the goats
(the lost) at His Second Coming? Matthew 25:32-46 __________________________________________________.

CONNECT
The God of Scripture is the faithful Lover of our souls.
The Song of Solomon is a prophetic love song that offers a unique window into the love of Christ for His church.
Verse by verse expressions of devoted love are exchanged between Solomon and his bride-to-be, the Shulamite.
They describe one another's virtues and beauties with lyrical dexterity, compliment one another with exuberance,
and ache with passion to be with one another. And just as we're thinking that this is just another on of our world's
silly love songs and wondering why it's the Bible, at the climatic point of the song the Shulamite says to her
beloved, "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as
the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can
floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised" (Song of
Solomon 8:6-7, ESV). Suddenly, we are led to realize that the deepest form of love known to human beings—that
which exist between a bride and her groom—whispers to our hearts of the very love of God Himself for our souls.
Dying on the cross, Jesus did, indeed, reveal to us a quality of love that is stronger than death and which no force
in our world can quench (Romans 8:38-39). This is the beautiful Jesus who has promised to return to Earth and
take us to be with Him forever.

EXPERIENCE
Yes, I look forward to the Second Coming of
Jesus as a bride longs for her lover's return.

What a remarkable thing it is that Jesus was willing to die on the cross to demonstrate His love for me, and for all
of us! As a faithful bride, may we as His church love Him in return and be ready for Him when He comes to receive
us into eternal fellowship with Himself.

25 THE MILLENNIUM

DISCOVER
God will bring evil to and end, not by flat, not by force, but in
such a way as to ensure that it will never rise again—by the full
disclosure of His good character and the justice of His ways.

ORDER OF EVENTS SURROUNDING THE MILLENNIUM


When the Great War between good and evil is over, voluntary love alone will pulse with pleasure in every heart.
The one true and rightful King over all creation is not a controlling dictator, but rather a freedom-loving Father. He
does not desire a forced, confused, or terrified obedience, but only voluntary love arising from minds that
understand Him and hearts that like what they see when they look into His heart. Benevolent God that he is, in
order to facilitate our complete resolve and emotional healing regarding human history in general, and regarding
all individual cases in particular, the Bible teaches that God will provide a special 1000 – year period commonly
referred to as the Millennium, during which God will bring His redeemed children into and open process of
judgement. They will evaluate for themselves the entire recorded history of evil's reign in our world and God's
conduct in bringing it to an end.

In this study we will first map out the various events surrounding the Millennium, and then we will discover the
full-disclosure process through which God will guide His redeemed children during the Millennium.

There are four main events that occur just prior to the Millennium, four that transpire during, and four that
happen after. Explore each of the twelve events by reading discussing the scriptures provided in the following
chart:

SATAN IN CHAINS
Read Revelation 20:1-3. What does it mean that Satan is "bound" with "a great chain" in a "bottomless pit" during
the Millennium?

This idea has its Old Testament parallel in the sanctuary ceremony regarding the scapegoat, Azazel, which
symbolized Satan (Leviticus 16). After atonement had been symbolically made by the sacrifice of the Lord's goat,
which pointed to the atoning death of Christ, the sins of the people were placed on the scapegoat to indicate that
Satan bears primary responsible for sin as its originator and instigator. Then the scapegoat was there will come a
point in the unfolding of the great war between good and evil when Satan's gig will be up. Revelation 20 reveals
the same point in Satan's progressive demise. The events leading up to the Millennium—most significantly, the
revelation of God's true character by the worldwide proclamation of the gospel—will serve to bring Satan's long
career of deception to an end. He will be bound, as it were, by a chain of events that will drain him of his power
and credibility, "that he should deceive the nations no more" (Revelation 20:3).

The prophet Isaiah also depicted this very point in Satan's downfall:

"You shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the _______. Those who see you will gaze at you, and
_______ _______, saying: 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the
world as a _______ and _______ its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?'" (Isaiah 14:15-17).

In other words, people will come to realize that Satan, with his self-serving principles, was the main force behind
all the destruction and ruin brought upon our world. The truth of the gospel will vindicate God's character and
place primary responsibility for evil and suffering where it really belongs—on Satan, the scapegoat.

WHY THE MILLENNIUM?


Which brings us to an obvious and important question: What is the reason for the Millennium? What will the
redeemed be doing with Christ during this special 1000 – year period of time? Revelation 20:4 provides us with the
answer:

"And I saw _______, and they _______ on them, and _______ was committed to them…. And they lived and
reigned with Christ for a thousand years."

This gives us the astounding insight into the kind of God we're dealing with, how He chooses to govern, and how
He intends to bring complete resolve to the problem of evil. During the Millennium God will seat His redeemed
people on "thrones" and commit "judgement" to them. What does this mean?

In Scripture, the word "judgement" essentially means to discern and do what is right. When we say that a person
has good judgement, we mean that they good discernment, that they accurately perceive what is right and wrong
and fair in situations. A "throne" in Scripture signifies the position of authority from which justice—righteousness
and fairness—is to proceed (Psalm 97:2; Hebrews 1:8). God always discerns and does what is right. Therefore, He
always occupies the throne with justice (Psalm 89:4; Isaiah 9:7). Fallen human beings lack the moral integrity,
perception, and emotional strength to occupy throne status with justice, which is evident in the history of our
world's failed monarchies. But here we see that before entering into the executive phase of the judgement, which
takes place after the Millennium, God will do something remarkable: He will invite the redeemed to judge His
judgement, to evaluate for themselves the history of the great controversy between good and evil, to assess all the
factors that have contributed to each person's eternal destiny. Now that they are on the other side of evil's reign
and completely healed of all anti-love impulses, they are pertaining to the cases of all who are eternally saved and
all who are eternally lost.

While reproving the church at Corinth for failing to exercise good judgement in their small, local matter, Paul
projected forward to the far greater work of judgement the redeemed will engage in during the Millennium:

"Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to
judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels?" (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).

The point is, that God operates on the principles of full disclosure. He does not desire a forced, confused, or
terrified obedience, but only voluntary love arising from minds that understand Him and hearts that like what they
see in Him. Of course, God Himself knows everything pertaining to each person's case and He knows that all His
judgements are just. But He wants the redeemed to know the whole truth for themselves with complete
satisfaction and resolve. Why is this person saved and that person lost? What overtures did God make and what
opportunities did He provide for him, for her, and how did each one respond? It is perfectly natural for rational,
freewill beings to have questions about what is just, right, and fair. During the Millennium God invites our
questions, submitting Himself to our scrutiny, knowing we will find Him to be just and true in all His ways.

"He is the Rock, His work is _______; for _______ His _______ are _______, a God of truth and without injustice;
righteous and upright is He" (Deuteronomy 32:4).

God is absolutely consistent within Himself to always remain faithful, just, and good. For one thousand years God
will seat His children upon thrones and commit judgement to their trust. Every question they have regarding the
conflict between good and evil will be answered. Every person's case will be evaluated, all evidence will be
considered, and with one free, rational voice the redeemed will judge that God is "just and true" in all His ways
(Revelation 15:3; 16:5-7; 19:2).

CONNECT
The Bible teaching on the Millennium is based on the premise
that God governs with justice and full transparency.

The book of Isaiah opens with the call, "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: "I have
nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me'" (Isaiah 1:2). The inhabitants of heaven and
earth are addressed in a manner that solicits evaluation (See Revelation 12:12). Amazingly, God is asking creatures
He has made to employ their minds to assess His actions. Then a song is sung about God's care for Israel and her
unprovoked rebellion against Him. "Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard (Israel). What more could have
been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it?" (Isaiah 5:3-4). Here God asks thinking minds to "judge"
between Him and Israel and to tell Him if He could have done something more to be worthy of her faithfulness.
Incredibly, God voluntarily makes Himself accountable to those He has made. Her is under no obligation to do so
except—and this is the whole point—by virtue of the obligation that arises from the integrity of who He is. If He
wanted to, He could simply dominate or destroy us and be answerable to no one—if he wanted to. But He doesn't
want to. God governs by the goodness of His character, not by the sheer strength of His power! By right, not by
might!

EXPERIENCE
I am in awe of God's goodness and it is my
decision to trust Him for just judgement regarding
myself and all other human beings.

When God seats me upon a throne in His presence and invites my judgment, I fully anticipate that I will be
confirmed in the confidence I now place in Him through Jesus Christ. It will be made clear that God did all that
could be done to save every person in exact harmony with the justice that consistently flows from His good
character of love.

26 THE END OF EVIL

DISCOVER
God is love even in the way He deals
with those who are eternally lost.

THE INCOMPATIBILITY OF JUSTICE AND TORTURE


On June 26, 1987, The United Nations Convention against Torture became enforceable as a covenant between
nations. The covenant of this international agreement is of extreme significance, not only for the protection of
human rights it affords, but also for what it tells us about the general human awareness that torture is
unequivocally wrong. Because human beings were created in the moral image of God, even in our fallen condition
we still possess an innate sense of justice that naturally condemns torture as evil. When that sense of justice is
missing from a human being so that they can engage in acts of torture without feeling guilt, we judge that person a
psychopath. We know that torture does not accord with justice and that a person who engages in torturing is
mentally ill at best and willfully evil at worst.

And yet, many have taught to believe that God subjects millions of people to torture for all eternity. The most
famous sermon ever preached in America is titled, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, by Jonathan Edwards. A
few lines will suffice to remind us just how horrific the idea is:

"It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God for one moment; but you must suffer it
for all eternity…no end to this exquisite, horrible misery…you must wear out long ages have actually been spent by
you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point (a dot) to what remains. So that your punishment will
indeed be infinite."

Wow! This reads like Edgar Allan Poe horror. But no, it's popular religious doctrine. Conscious beings burning alive
forever! It's difficult to imagine a more terrifying idea. And it's even more difficult to imagine a God of love doing
this to people! In this study, we will discover that the Bible paints an entirely different picture, revealing that God
is just and merciful and in all His ways, even in the way He will finally deal with those who, by their own choice,
reject God's gift of redemption.

THE PAGAN ORIGIN OF ETERNAL TORMENT


The fact is, the idea of a place of fiery torture at the center of the earth or in some other region of the universe to
which damned souls go when they die is not taught in the Bible. Rather, it is pagan teaching that traces back to
ancient Babylon and then shows up in nearly all of the cultic religions of the ancient world, most prominently in
Egypt, Persia, Greece, and finally, in Rome, the apex of paganism. Then, as the Roman Catholic Church was
gradually incorporated into the pagan Roman Empire as the official religion of the state, church leaders found it
politically advantageous to "Christianize" the doctrine of eternal torment in order to secure and control multitudes
of nominal converts.

There were two main features to the ancient pagan, conception of diet: (1) the demand for human beings to
engage in appeasement rituals, including human sacrifice, to divert divine wrath and earn divine favor, and (2) the
terrifying threat of eternal imprisonment in the flames of the underworld as the punishment awaiting lost souls
when they die.

Some of the ancient pagan gods are named in Scripture: Dagon, Molech, Chemosh, Ishtar, Marduk, Tammuz, and
Baal. In Jeremiah 19:5, the one true God distinguishes Himself from the false god, Baal, by sharply disassociating
Himself from the cruel practice of burning humans as sacrifices:

"They have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not
command or speak, nor did it come into My mind."

This God is different! Hear His heart. Burning human beings as sacrifices is completely foreign to His character. The
very idea never enters His mind. How much more foreign to His character must it be to burn people alive forever
with no hope of release from the flames!

So, then, if the doctrine of eternal torment has its origin in paganism, what does he Bible itself teach regarding the
final demise of the wicked?

THE FINAL DEMISE OF THE WICKED


First of all, we need to understand that at the foundation of the doctrine of eternal torment is the doctrine of
inherent immortality—the idea that the human soul cannot die. From this premise it logically follows that wicked
souls must live on eternally somewhere in God's universe, and since they cannot live with the saints in Paradise
there must be somewhere else they continue existing in a tormented state. But the Bible teaches no such thing.

Read Genesis 3:1-5, especially nothing verse 4, to discover where the idea that humans cannot die came from.

The Bible also says that God "alone has immortality" inherent in Himself (1 Timothy 6:16). The Bible just as clearly
states that God will give the gift immortality to the redeemed at the second coming of Jesus: "this mortal has put
on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:54). Immortality is something God gives to the redeemed. It is not something
human beings possess innately whether redeemed or not. In fact, the consistent testimony of Scripture is that the
wicked will not, in fact, live on eternally.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not _______
but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Perish! Not live on forever undergoing torture!

"The wages of sin is _______" (Romans 6:23). Not eternal torment!

"Sin, when it is finished, brings forth _______" (James 1:15). Not eternal life writhing in flames!

Speaking to those who inhabit the New Earth, the prophet Malachi says that all evil people will be "_______ under
the soles of your feet" (Malachi 4:3).

Ezekiel quotes God saying to Satan, "I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall _______ thee, and I will
bring thee to _______ upon the earth…and never shalt thou _______ anymore" (Ezekiel 28:18-19, KJV). The devil
himself will cease to exist rather than suffer forever.

Speaking of the day of final judgement, the prophet Obadiah describes the demise of the wicked of "all the
nations" by saying, "They shall be as though they have never been" (Obadiah 15-16).

Psalm 37:20 describes the final end of the wicked in similar and equally explicit terms: "The wicked shall _______;
and the enemies of the Lord, like the splendor of the Meadows, shall _______. Into _______ they shall _______
away."

But doesn't the Bible say somewhere that the wicked will be tortured eternally? Actually, no. But it does use the
words forever and eternal in its own internally consistent way to describe the destruction of the wicked. Read
Revelation 14:11 and 20:9-10. These are the two challenging passages that seem, when read out of their larger
biblical context, to contradict the other passages that clearly describe the eternal destruction of the wicked. But a
few clear Bible verses will immediately remove all confusion.

Jonah says that he was in the belly of the whale for "three days and three nights," which he calls "forever" (Jonah
1:17; 2:6). Hannah gave her son Samuel to the service of the Lord "forever," by which she meant, "as long as he
lives" (1 Samuel 1:22, 28). God told Israel that if a man were to choose lifelong service of another, he would "serve
him forever," meaning till death (Exodus 21:6). In Scripture, "forever" means as long as an even lasts to reach
completion, which in the case of the fire that destroys the wicked, means until they are consumed to ashes.

Also, notice how the term "eternal fire" is used in the Bible: "Sodom and Gomorrah…are set forth as an example,
suffering vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7). But wait, those cities aren't still burning. So, Peter speaks of God,
"turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemn[ing] them to destruction" (2 Peter 2:6). Clearly,
the Bible employs the term "eternal fire" to mean that the effect of the fire is eternal, not its duration.

God's promise is that evil will end, not that it will go on forever. The last book of the Bible tells us that God will
finally make "a new heaven and a new earth," in which "there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying," and
"no more pain" (Revelation 21:4). This could not be said if, in fact, lost souls are imprisoned somewhere in the
universe "crying" out in "pain" as they undergo endless torture. Because God is love, Satan and all those who
would continue in hurtful, abusive, and self-serving behaviors will be mercifully and justly destroyed and cease to
exist. And yet, even this is painful to the heart of infinite Love: "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in
the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezekiel 33:11). God longs for he salvation
of all, but will force no one.

CONNECT
The wicked become eternally lost by eradicating
from their souls the capacity for love.

Jesus described those who are finally lost as "those who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 13:38-41). "Practice" is
poieō in the Greek and means to fashion or to make a thing out of something. "Practice" is a good translation
because it gives the sense of a repeated course of action that produces a habitual state of being. "Lawlessness" is
anomia, which means to be without law. God's Law is "love" (Romans 13:10). We see, then, that the wicked are
those who have pursued a habitual course of living that is without love to the point that they have fashioned
themselves into loveless creatures only capable of evil. They are not eternally lost due to an arbitrary decision on
God's part, but because they have made themselves irrevocably wicked. By selfish choices they have destroyed the
fine mental, emotional, and volitional mechanisms of their humanity to the point that living for other is no longer
possible for them. Therefore, as a perfectly blended act of justice and mercy, God will eradicate the wicked from
existence as though they had never been.

EXPERIENCE
What a blessing it is to know that torture
is foreign to God's character!

Dear God, with you my whole heart I embrace You for the good God You actually are. Thank You that salvation has
been worked out in Jesus Christ for all human beings to that no one need be eternally lost and, yet, that You will
deal justly and mercifully with those who persistently choose evil and reject Your love to the point of no return.

27 PLEASURES FOREVERMORE

DISCOVER
God holds before us the promise of a future characterized
by continually-deepening, forever-flourishing, eternally-expanding
friendships in a perfect world free from everything contrary to love.

ETERNAL FRIENDSHIP
Imagine that the wealthiest person in the world has offered you the gift of a private tropical island, upon which he
has built for you a luxurious mansion filled with the best furnishings money can buy and stocked with all your
favorite foods. Do you want it? Of course, you do.
But then he says, "Great, it's yours on one condition. All you have to do is live there alone for the rest of your life
and never see your family and friends ever again. "Suddenly, with no real hesitation (okay, maybe a little
hesitation), your answer is, "Absolutely not!"

But why?

Well, because you know something deep in the core of your humanity. You know that close, healthy relationships
means more than anything else, that without them life has no real significance, and that with them life has
potential for extraordinary beauty and fulfillment.

It should not be surprising, then, that when the Bible talks about the eternal destiny of the redeemed, it does so
with highly relational language. When Jesus talked about Himself being our Savior and getting us to the other side
of the present world of sin and suffering, the destination He held before us was more about a person of extreme
beauty than a place of material luxury:

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes _______ _______ _______ except through Me" (John 14:6).

To the Father is where we are going. Then Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (verse 9),
encouraging us with the assurance that we will encounter the same friendly, unselfish love in the Father that wee
see in Him. Jesus wants each of us to understand something very important: "the Father Himself love you" (John
16:27). Every other in the gospel of John when Jesus speaks of the Father's love us, He uses the Greek word agape,
which is God's unilateral love for us undeterred by our sinfulness. But in this single instance Jesus uses the Greek
word phileo, which refers to the fondness one feels for a friend. Not only does the Father love each of us, He also
likes. Astoundingly, the Almighty Creator of the universe is inviting us into eternal friendship with Himself.

FROM EDEN TO EDEN


When God first created human beings, He placed them in a garden called Eden (Genesis 2:8). The word Eden
means pleasure, which is very eye-opening because it tells us a lot regarding the kind of person God is at the heart
and what He originally planned for us. As odd as it may sound at first—and it only sounds odd due to the fact that
he has been grossly misrepresented as a restrictive tyrant—God is the author, inventor, and source of pleasure.
Genesis 1 and 2 persuade us that God created human beings as physical, mental, emotional, and relational
creatures perfectly crafted for living lives of multidimensional pleasure: eyes to see shape and color, ears to hear
voice and song, the nose for smelling lovely aromas, the tongue for tasting delicious flavors, the tactile sense to
hold puppies and hold hands, the mind for exploring the mysteries of creation, emotions with which to feel the
feelings of others and thrill with joy of unselfishness. The human being Is an engineering wonder of high world.
And yet, sensory pleasure was not designed by God as an end in itself. The entire material creation was established
as the ideal setting in which relationships could flourish with eternally escalating love, joy, and peace.

Read Genesis 1 and 2 and compose a list of points that highlight the fact that the physical world was simply
created by God as the perfect environment for personal beings to interact with one another and with their
Creator.

Just as the first two chapters of the Bible describe the world in its pristine bliss before the Fall of mankind, the last
two chapters of the Bible describe the world as it will be once the sin problem is completely resolved. A
comparison of these chapters reveals that it is God's plan to bring the world full circle back to its original Edenic
state, its Pleasure state. Let's explore some key verses in Revelation 21 and 22, interspersed with additional
complementary scriptures, to discuss the eternal future God has planned for us.

Revelation 21 opens with words that stop us in our tracks: "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (verse 1).
Our curiosity piqued, John immediately follows up by emphasizing a single point, three times:
"Behold, the tabernacle of God is _______ men, and He will dwell _______ them, and they will be His people. God
Himself will be _______ them and be their God" (verse 3).

Astoundingly, God simply wants to be "with" us, to "dwell" right here in our very world, to have face-to-face,
heart-to-heart fellowship with us.

Then John proceeds to paint an incredible picture of the New Earth as a perfectly conducive environment in which
we can forever enjoy God's friendship. The first thing God does is "wipe away every tear" from our "eyes" (verse
4). What then follows is truly amazing and inviting. Read verses 4-8 and compose a list of all the things that will not
be present in the New Earth.

Summarizing the glorious picture, John states succinctly:

"And there shall be no more _______" (Revelation 22:3).

This language is direct throwback reference to Genesis 3:7-19, in which God describe to Adam and Even the fact
that human life and the earth itself would be dramatically impacted on all levels by sin: relationally, biologically,
and ecologically, humanity and the world would be cursed. But John says the curse will be reversed. Everything
that has interrupted the pleasure God had planned for us will be removed. All sin and suffering will be banished
from existence.

Isaiah's vision of the New Earth involves a beautiful depiction of predatory animals, docile animals, and children at
"play" all together without any violence occurring. Read Isaiah 11:6-9 and discuss what kind of word it will be when
all living creatures share the earth together without threat to one another.

Paul described the impact of sin upon our world with the word "sufferings," but then he added that they are "not
worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" when God's idea for the world is finally
realized (Romans 8:18). Creation itself, Paul says, is in a state of brokenness and longing for the day when human
beings are restored to their original nobility and the earth itself will no longer be subject to the evils her stewards
have inflicted upon her:

"For the creation was subjected to _______, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because
the creation itself also will be _______ from the _______ of _______ into the glorious liberty of the children of
God. For we know that the whole creation _______ and _______ with birth pangs together until now. Not only but
we also have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves _______ within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the
adoption, the redemption of our _______" (Romans 8:20-23).

The physical creation will be restored to its original condition, made free from the horrors that humanity has
imposed upon in. Even our physical bodies will be redeemed:

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will
transform our _______ _______ that it may be conformed to His _______ _______" (Philippians 3:20-21).

Read the following scriptures to discover that after His resurrection Jesus had a physical body, glorified and
immortal, but physical nonetheless: Luke 24:36-43; John 20:17-18, 24-29; 21:1-14.

With our bodies restored to their glorious pre-Fall condition, and the earth restored to its Edenic state free from
the curse of sin, we will live in eternal fellowship with God, partaking of the pleasures he had in mind for us all
along:

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

What an amazing future!


CONNECT
God has one grand aspiration: to be with us.

In Revelation 21:9-27, John describes the capital city of the New Earth, the New Jerusalem, with measurements
that equate to the shape of a massive cube (verse 16). Upon investigation, we discover that the Most Holy Place of
the Old Testament temples was constructed in the shape of a cube as well (1 Kings 6:20). This was the place where
the radiant glory of God was manifested (1 Kings 8:10-13), and concerning which the Lord said, "I will meet with
you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat" (Exodus 25:22). Here the high priest, as the mediator
between God and the people would come into God's immediate presence. With intentional reference to the glory
of God dwelling in the ancient symbolic temple, John says of the New Jerusalem, "I saw no temple in it, for the
Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,
for the glory of God illuminates it. The Lamb is its light" (Revelation 21:22-23). He then says of the redeemed and
their eternal intimacy with God, "they shall see His face" (Revelation 22:4). John's point is clear: the New Jerusalem
is the ultimate reality to which the Most Holy Place was pointing, only now all of God's people will be privileged to
enter His immediate presence with no mediator between them. That's what the plan of salvation is all about—
restored intimacy with God.

EXPERIENCE
It is my heartfelt desire to be one of the happy inhabitants of
the New Earth and live in the joy of eternal friendship with God.

Dear God, I understand that You love me, and even like me, and that You want me to be with You forever. With
eager anticipation I look forward to our future together. I submit to whatever preparation is needed for me to live
in Your love forever.

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