By Grace Alone
Study Questions Chapter Four
THE BASIC PROBLEM:
Most of humanity can feel that there is a problem within their souls. This is why they try to fix the problem through religion, sex, drugs, alcohol, entertainment, etc. The problem they feel, as this book has pointed out, is their alienation from God. According to Scripture, we were designed to glorify and enjoy God forever. It is clear humanity is born with a bent toward pleasing ourselves and pursuing our own enjoyments in opposition to God.
- Why do you think simply telling people they are alienated from God without giving them any examples is hard for them to believe?
- Why is it important to show people they truly are alienated from God?
- “We are designed to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Why do you think this biblical understanding is so offensive to people?
- If God’s purpose for humanity (according to the NT) is to honor His Son, how is this a simple way to prove to people God is not pleased with the way they are living their lives?
- Why does 2 Corinthians 5:10 bother people?
Here are two Old Testament pictures that help explain Jesus taking our place:
First: “Leviticus 16 describes the elaborate ritual that the high priest followed. However, the principle of these sacrifices was always the same. The sins of the people were exchanged for the sacrifice of an innocent animal. The animal was treated as though it were responsible for the people’s sins; it bore the judgment of death due to the people for their sins. The people, in turn, were treated in the sight of God as though they were righteous” (page 51).
Imagine how the people felt as they looked upon the innocent animal to whom priests killed as a sign of the exchange. Their sin was exchanged for the animal’s innocence. But this, of course, was a temporary fix.
Question: How does this OT ritual help you better understand the cross and what Christ has done for you?
Second: “Even the details of the Day of Atonement foreshadowed Jesus’ later experience. On that day, two goats were selected. Lots were cast to select different roles for each of them. One goat was slain as a sin offering. The high priest placed his hands on the other and confessed the sins of the people. They were ‘put on the head’ of the goat (Lev. 16:21). It was led away into the wilderness ‘to an uninhabited land’ (v. 22) and set free to wander there without prospect of return. Together, these two goats give a vivid picture of what was involved in Jesus being ‘made sin’ for us.” (page 53)
Question: Connecting humanity’s alienation from God, how does this OT sacrificial symbol help you better understand what Christ accomplished and experienced for us on the cross?
Thought – Christ as our replacement:
Animals will never be an adequate replacement for our sins because they cannot stand in our place. There must be another human who can take our place to receive the punishment we deserve. Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
This is why Christ could be exchanged for our place. He was a human who had no sin, and therefore could be punished in our place.
Question: How does this help your understanding of the gospel?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:19 “…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…”
“Against whom, then, does God count sins? He counts them against His Son, Jesus Christ…Faith says: ‘Yes, God counts my sins. But He does not count them against me. Rather, He counts my sins against His Son.’” (page 56).
Question: God does keep count of all of your sins, every last one of them. But He takes your sin and uses them to punish Christ. He counts them against Christ and not against you. How does this help you understand the gospel?
A Legal Standing
“Until we acknowledge our sin and guilt, we will never come to discover that it can be forgiven. But when we do, actual forgiveness begins to give rise to an awareness of forgiveness psychologically, spiritually, mentally, inwardly. With that comes an increasing sense that the bondage of guilt has been broken. At last, we are set free. Wonder of wonders, we discover that at the very heart of the gospel is this fact: God has taken our guilt upon Himself in His Son Jesus Christ” (page 58).
- How does the message of being guilt-free make you feel?
- Why is it so hard to believe this at times?
With this great exchange that has taken place, we not only have our sins placed on Jesus, but we also have His perfect obedience placed upon us. How righteous are we now? We wear the righteousness of Christ. We can boldly walk right up to God and approach Him as Jesus would all the while knowing we absolutely never earned it.
- Why is this so hard at times to accept, that God looks at us as perfect?
- How will this change the way we live the more we can embrace this reality?