Week 37 Sept. 9-15, 2018

The scars that we carry on our physical bodies are a reminder of old wounds that have now been healed.

But what makes Christianity so unique is that it is only through the scars of someone else that our souls find true healing from the wounds of sin.

This distinct method of redemption is known as substitutionary atonement, where all the punishment that we deserved for our transgressions against a holy God was poured out on one person who willingly agreed to take our place: Jesus Christ.

It was through the perfect life of Christ that He was counted worthy to be a fitting sacrifice for our sin, and it was through His death that He took our just penalty and exchanged it for His earned righteousness, so we could be healed and restored to an eternal relationship with our Creator.

While this idea of salvation through substitution is clearly taught throughout Scripture, it is most vividly illustrated in Isaiah 53. In this prominent Old Testament prophecy, we encounter a portrait of the future messiah as a suffering servant who would be brutally punished for the sins of His people, but who would offer them final deliverance from their condemnation.

A central passage of Isaiah 53 that captures the essence of substitutionary atonement is found in verses 5-6, which states, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

In just these two verses we see four different ways that through the scars of Christ as the suffering servant, we have the redemption and restoration that our soul desperately seeks.

First, we see that He was pierced for our transgressions. When we hear the word “pierce” it conjures up images of  nails being driven into the wrists and feet of Christ, and of course the spear of a Roman solider piercing the side of Christ as the blood and water spilled out. We need to remember that in each of those times Christ was pierced, it was just punishment for our transgressions against God, and our Lord and Savior willingly offered His body to be ripped open so that we could be restored to God.

Secondly, we see that He was crushed for our iniquities.  The primary way Christ was crushed was by bearing the spiritual weight of God’s wrath that was being poured out on Him in waves during His excruciating final hours on the cross. When Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” we can see how His soul was being crushed for all the sins of our past, present, and future.

Thirdly, we see that He was chastised for our peace.  The most painful aspect of Christ’s punishment on the cross was not the physical pain but the spiritual separation from the Father. However, He had to be chastised and treated as a sinner and not a Son, so that we who have been separated from the Father could be restored to a peaceful fellowship with God forever.

Finally, we see that He was wounded for our healing. Throughout the entire passion of Christ we see the many wounds that were necessary to bring us healing. Jesus was wounded when his head was torn open by a crown of thorns, his back was bloodied by the scourging of a cat o’ nine tails, and his extremities were stretched to their horizontal and vertical limits on the cross. We were offered healing because when Christ cried out “It is finished” all the justice that needed to be carried out for our forgiveness was now complete.

So as we celebrate our adoption into the family of God and experience new life in the kingdom of God, let us never forget that it was the scars of the Christ who willingly became a suffering servant so we could escape our condemnation and begin an eternal restoration..

The Scars of a Suffering Servant

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A Reminder of the Real Gospel

Though many false gospels have attacked Christianity throughout church history, the real gospel message of Christ’s resurrection power always prevails. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this powerful truth in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 when he states, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

The Fruit of Fearing God

Scripture teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge, but the Bible also teaches that our fear of God is also the root of all our fruitful blessings from God. Psalm 128:1-2 says, “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”

Conduits of God’s Comfort

As Christians we are called to be conduits of God’s blessings, which means that every gift we receive is a blessing we are called to share with others. One of those blessings that God bestows upon His people to be shared throughout His kingdom is His comfort. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Paul proclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

Week 38 Readings:  September 16 – 22

-Day One:  Isaiah 64-66; 2 Corinthians 2

-Day Two:  2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33; Psalm 71; 2 Corinthians 3

-Day Three:  Nahum; Psalm 149; 2 Corinthians 4

-Day Four:  2 Kings 22-23; Psalm 73; 2 Corinthians 5

-Day Five:  2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6   


Tips to Keep You on Track

          Our assigned reading passages this week will take us through the pages of another minor prophet, as we walk through the entire book of Nahum. Named after its author, Nahum was written by a prophet from Elkosh who lived in the mid 600’s B.C. during the final days of the Assyrian Empire. The name Nahum means “comfort” and the heart of this prophet’s message is one of comfort to Judah as they learn about the Lord’s promise to destroy the evil Assyrian capital of Nineveh. As you read the three short chapters of this prophecy, consider Nahum a fitting sequel to the book of Jonah and notice how these two books display both God’s grace and His judgement towards one evil city. In Jonah, the Ninevites were called to repent and God graciously relented from destroying them and gave them a second chance. In Nahum, Nineveh had not only resumed their evil ways but later erased the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel by 722 B.C. through endless torture and bloodshed. Therefore, God prophesies in this book that He will soon pour out His just wrath on the Ninevites and put an end to all the destruction. This promise brings great comfort to Judah in their time of persecution, and it should also comfort us today as Christ’s church. Despite the persecution we face from our enemies, we are reminded that the Lord will eventually bring justice and we too can be restored if we trust in Him through true repentance and faith. As Nahum 1:7 proclaims, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”