The objective of this lesson: to challenge students to consider God's determination to restore His good name after His creation was perverted by sin/evil.
Too often we do not realize that the intents of God that began in the Pentateuch [first five books of the Bible] were achieved in Jesus Christ's death, resurrection, and the eternal kingdom of God often referred to in the New Testament as the church. There are not two objectives, but one. What Christians commonly call the Old Testament and the New Testament represent a single "over all" divine objective. What was important to God in the Old was important to God in the New. The Old projected. The New implemented.
God's desire to restore the goodness and greatness of His name is evident throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. We rarely realize that the consequences of sin [evil] ruling this world was even more an attack on God's name than on us. The first temptation used deceit to attack God's name by suggesting God Himself was deceptive.
This "think about it" is given to challenge you to reflect on all of God's revealed words. God created [brought into existence] everything good we know and experience. When completed, God viewed His work with pleasure declaring it was good (Genesis 1). Then evil was permitted by people to rule over God's good creation, and all things [including humanity] were perverted from the created intent of God (Genesis 3; Romans 8:18-22).
This lesson is intended to be a "mind stretcher" for both students and teachers. We can adopt perspectives about the intent and meaning of the Bible for such a long time that the adopted perspectives become the unquestioned "official interpretation" of the Bible. Commonly, when that occurs, we neither hear nor see all that the Bible says on many subjects. We tend to make what is said conform to our perspectives rather than examine our perspectives.
With the introduction of evil and human rebellion in God's physical world, human intents in this physical world went from totally good to totally evil (Genesis 6:5-8). No timeline is given for this human decent into corruption. However, the essential need for the God of mercy and grace to intercede for humanity is presented in only six chapters. All the writings from Genesis 12:1 to Revelation 22:21 in some way relate to God's restoration of relationship with humans.
The coming and the continuing impact of evil on the physical creation is not the core concern of the Bible. That reality is acknowledged in the first six chapters. The first six chapters only verified the need for a restoration of relationship between the holy God and unholy people.
The challenge of that problem was and is significant beyond human comprehension or imagination. Powerless humans could not [and cannot] reverse the situation of a failed relationship with God. We are the problem! We caused the relationship failure! Some form of evil is the Achilles heel [weakness] of every person! We all are incapable of totally resisting every form of temptation! Due to our own choices and decisions, we are the host for evil! That which rebels against the "good" of God's character and nature resides in each of us. Because we are the problem, we can never be the solution! The solution must arise from God's character, not from us.
There are dimensions of this need for restoration of relationship between God and man that are beyond human grasp. If that relationship is restored, it will be God's work. Humans are powerless to resolve the problem. We are the problem!
When God created, His name was good, supreme, and great in every way. When people perverted through rebellion, God's name was made "mud" in the physical realm. One of God's basic commitments was to restore His good name as supreme and great in every way. In human arrogance, people have assumed that salvation is primarily about us. However, salvation is primarily about God.
Humans understand that the destruction of a good reputation has significant consequences. We need an honest understanding that sin [evil] attacked God's reputation [and still does!].
We are not saved to glorify us. We are saved to glorify God. We are not at the center of the salvation universe. God is at the center of the salvation universe. According to Paul, Jesus Christ is Lord in order to defeat all of God's enemies. When Jesus Christ accomplishes the defeat of all that opposes God, he will submit his Lordship to God. When that occurs, God will once again be the "all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28). At that time, nothing--not even Satan himself--will rebel against God!
Rarely do we acknowledge God's commitment to restore His good name. It is astounding to actually note how often God acted in the Bible for the sake of His name. Moses' pleas with God not to destroy Israel instantly in Exodus 32 and Numbers 14 were based on God's character and reputation among His enemies, not Israel's worthiness. The worthiness was 100% in God's character and 0% in Israel's character as was demonstrated in their behavior.
This basic understanding puts a divine perspective on obedience. Some have yielded to the temptation to conclude that "God cannot do without us." The truth is that we cannot do without God. To view obedience as an attempt to bargain with God, or an attempt to manipulate God, or an attempt to place God in our debt is a fundamental misunderstanding of obedience. No one will stand before Christ in judgment and declare, "God owes me! Because I did 'x' God must do 'y'"! God is far kinder to all of us than any of us realize or deserve.
Obedience to God is primarily about God's worthiness, not our salvation. God is to be glorified because He is worthy! We are not worthy of divine mercy and grace shown in our forgiveness.
Do we obey God? Absolutely! Why? (1) He is the eternal, sovereign God Who possesses all power! (2) He is worthy of our surrender to Him! Nothing we can give God surpasses His deservedness! He deserves our praise and glorification! [These two truths are equals; one reason is not secondary to the other.]
Obedience is essential for human salvation. However, in every matter [including human salvation] it is always all about God and acknowledging His worthiness rather than being primarily about us and our need. God is deserving of praise and glorification! We are not and can never become deserving of forgiveness.
In our obedience do we obligate God? Consider the same question from different perspectives. Is it possible for any human to "obligate" God to give him or her mercy? Is it possible for any human to "obligate" God to give him or her grace? Is it possible for any human to "obligate" God to grant him or her justification, or sanctification, or propitiation, or righteousness, or redemption?
Nothing we do obligates God. God responds to us because He is good, not because we are deserving.
Trusting God to keep His promise "obligates" God? Repenting because we understand our lives were headed in the wrong direction "obligates" God? Acknowledging the truth [that still is true even if we refuse to acknowledge it] that Jesus is the Christ and current Lord "obligates" God? Being immersed in water [doing less than most of us do when we take a bath] "obligates" God? Redirecting a destructive human lifestyle "obligates" God? What foolish reasoning!
Accepting God's goodness and graciousness in His kindness obligates us, not God. God acts because He is gracious. We respond to Him because in our need we acknowledge God's worthiness. Our need magnifies His greatness.
The Christian obeys God because he or she appreciates God and gladly yields to God because He is worthy [in every consideration!]. When we understand the magnitude of God's forgiveness, we are overwhelmed with God's generosity. When we realize how richly we are blessed by God's mercy and grace, we find our gratitude overflowing. When we understand what God does for us in matters like atonement, justification, sanctification, propitiation, righteousness, redemption, and continuing forgiveness, we realize how worthless we are and how deserving of honor He is. The closer we come to God, the more we realize how much God blesses us. As knowledge of God's blessings increases, humility before God increases.
The motives of appreciation and gratitude should underscore every human act toward God.
In the gospel of John, even Jesus praises God for the joys and blessings of his dependence on Him. The gospel called John is filled with Jesus' acknowledgments of God's worthiness. In John 5:43 Jesus declared he came in God's name. His works simply bore witness to God's name (John 10:25). Service to Jesus resulted in honor from God (John 12:22-28). God is glorified in Jesus (John 13:31). Jesus responded to his disciple's requests in order to glorify God (John 14:13). Read part of Jesus' prayer in John 17:1-14. Note (1) Jesus' purpose was to glorify God, (2) knowing God is the means to eternal life, (3) Jesus was dependent on God for glorification, (4) the people who followed Jesus belonged to God, (5) the words Jesus spoke came from God, (6) Jesus was sent by God, and (7) Jesus asked God to protect his disciples in God's name.
In the gospel of John, Jesus clearly declared he came, he did what he did, and he said what he said to honor and glorify God. Interestingly, Jesus did these things in the midst of a religious people. These people thought they were honoring and glorifying God, but they missed God's true concerns so much that they actually honored themselves rather than glorifying God.
The motivation for all response to God is appreciation and gratitude for all God does for us. We seek to appreciate God rather than seeking to obligate Him. We show gratitude rather then seeking to manipulate Him.
The surrender in obedience is a continual expression of appreciation and gratitude.
The discussion should be centered in God's worthiness and human need.
The discussion should note that almost all salvation discussions focus on humans as a primary concern. It is as if our need for forgiveness totally obscures God's need for vindication. We need forgiveness because we fail. God should receive vindication because He is worthy.
Link to Student Guide Lesson 8
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