TBSTuesday Night Bible Study
As we look at the life of John the Baptist, one of his most endearing characteristics is his ability to fully grasp his place in redemptive history. In other words, John the Baptist had a part to play, but that part was secondary to Jesus. John was the opening act. Jesus was the headliner. And this was much the same type of relationship Jesus had with His Father. Both were God, yet Jesus seemed to take a subordinate role to that of His Father. We can see that in the way Jesus describes His relationship with His Father.
For example, consider the following:
“You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)
Uh, what? What did Jesus mean when He said His Father is “greater” than He is?
It appears in Scripture that Jesus chose to assume a subordinate relationship with His Father yet, as we know, Jesus and His Father are one (John 10:30). But this raises a few questions we will be addressing as we move forward. Some of them are:
Are they each equally God?
And, if so, is there a subordinate relationship between members of the Godhead?
Is that relationship based on worth or merit or something else?
And why is this even important?
These are some of the questions we will be answering as we dig deeper into John’s statement in John 1:30:
“This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” (See also John 1:15, 27 where John the Baptist makes the same claim about Jesus.)
If you have a desire to know more about the relationship between Jesus and His Father and, at the same time, uncover some incredible truth, then keep listening.
We have been looking at how to live in the victory Christ provided for us over our past sins and failures. And it is really quite simple: Choose to believe what God says about you (and your past regrets) and not what you feel or what seems right to you. After all, He is God and we are… dust. Yet, because of His great love for us, He chose to provide victory over the consequences of our sins by sacrificing His Son on the cross. And for us to wallow in self-condemnation and despair over the sins and regrets Christ died to forgive, makes light of His great sacrifice.
If His death provided us victory over sin, then our reasonable duty would be to walk and live in that victory. Period. End of story.
But how do we go about living in His victory over our past regrets?
In this message, we’ll give some tools to help you experience freedom from self-condemnation and unforgiveness. And these tools are centered around turning the enemy’s temptations and taunts into praise. After all, Satan hates it when we praise our Lord.
There is also one last Scripture we will look at that clearly puts our life and relationship with Christ into perspective. It’s 1 Corinthians 6:20, and reads:
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
And finally, as we shared before, the choice offered to each of us when we struggle with past failures and regrets is to believe what the Lord says about our sins and transgressions or to hold on to what we feel about them. And most Christians, especially when it comes to a choice of grace or condemnation, choose the latter. Why? Because it somehow feels good to punish ourselves for something God has chosen to forget.
If you want to know more, keep listening.
We have been taking the plaguing problem of self-condemnation and unforgiveness regarding our past sins and regrets and using it as a means to learn how to surrender our lives to the Lord. And the crux of the issue always has to do with what we choose to believe. We can base our relationship with the Lord on how we feel, or on what He says. Which brings us to the great question we looked at yesterday: What does God do with our sin? We listed five of ten truths from His Word. And for today, we have the followup question: What else does God do with our sin?
Trust me, you’ll be surprised to see the great lengths the Lord goes to make sure we are not only forgiven but feel forgiven and experience the joy of full forgiveness. Here are the first five we discovered:
One, God forgives our sins and transgressions. Period. You can find this truth in Psalm 32.
Two, God covers our sins so they can be seen no more. This truth is also found in Psalm 32:1.
Three, God throws our sins into the depths of the sea. This, and the next truth, are both found in Micah 7:18-19.
Four, God tramples our sins under His foot. The imagery is of a father crushing the head of a serpent who threatens his children as they walk together on a trail.
And five, God removes our sins from us. How much or how far? As far as the “east is from the west”, according to Psalm 103:10-12.
But this is only the beginning.
God has a limitless supply of grace He freely bestows on those who confess their sins to Him. Let’s quickly list the last five things:
Six, God puts all our sins behind His back. This is from Isaiah 37:17. Let the imagery of this verse sink in for a moment.
Seven, God chooses to forgive our sins and failures. His choice. Our blessing. This wondrous truth is found in Isaiah 43:25 and Jeremiah 31:34.
Eight, God cancels the debt of our sin. Literally wipes it out. See Colossians 2:13-14.
Nine, God cleanses us from all unrighteousness. This is the second part of 1 John 1:9.
And ten, God “takes away” or removes our sins from us. And we now end where we started, back at John 1:29.
Again, the choice offered to each of us when we struggle with past failures and regrets is to believe what the Lord says about our sins and transgressions or to hold on to what we feel about them. And most Christians, especially when it comes to a choice of grace or condemnation, choose the latter. Why? Because it somehow feels good to punish ourselves for something God has chosen to forget.
To unpack these truths and learn how to get victory over this, keep listening.
One of the ways to learn how to totally surrender your life to the Lord is to also learn how to deal with your past regrets, no matter what form they may take. Your past regrets may be a habitual sin, a failed marriage, or the betrayal of a friend. The substance of your regrets may take on many forms. But at the root, it is always the same problem. And that problem is the fact we refuse to believe what the Scripture says about what God does with our sin and instead hold on to what we feel is right and justified. For many Christians today, that is penance, self-condemnation, and our refusal to forgive ourselves.
Which brings us to the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” final question: What does God do with our sin once we repent of it? Or, what does the Scripture say about how God views our sins after we confess them to Him?
These are excellent questions. But the answer depends on who we choose to believe: God, and what He says about our sins in His Word, or the ever-increasing lying voice of self-condemnation we hear in our own head. And as with most of life after regeneration, God leaves the choice of victory or defeat entirely up to us.
It is ours to lose.
Before we begin with the specifics, remember what His Word says about condemnation. Romans 8, that incredible chapter begins like this:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
But it gets much better. Look how the same chapter ends:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Today, we will look at ten things God does when we sin, five today and five tomorrow. Then, you will have the choice of where to place your faith. In Him and His Word, which always leads to victory and a surrender of our past regrets. Or to your flesh and its demand for restitution and penance, which leads to self-condemnation and loathing.
And as always, God gives the choice to us.
We have been talking about a life of total surrender or total abandonment to the Lord. We see examples of this kind of life in Scripture and in church history, but are pressed to know anyone personally who lives that way? Which begs the question: How do I surrender my life to the Lord? Or, what are the steps to total surrender? To my giving my all to Him?
These are great questions. But when you ask someone the answer, they usually respond with something like this:
Give everything to God.
Really? That’s all you’ve got for me? Ok, like what? What exactly do I surrender to the Lord? And how exactly do I go about doing that? You make it seem so easy with your pat answer, but I know it can’t be that simple.
Remember, to surrender your life to the Lord means to “yield ownership or control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our rights, our self.” And the focus of our surrender is our past, present, and future.
We are to give Him our past regrets, our present problems, and our future ambitions. This means we freely give Him our fears, our dreams, our weaknesses, our habits, our hurts, and our issues (hang-ups). In essence, we give all of who we are, good, bad, and ugly, and allow Jesus to take control.
And what do we get in return? It’s so wonderful it’s hard to put into words. But let’s start with this:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
And we’ve just scratched the surface. If you want to know more, keep listening.
One of the key requirements for having the kind of spiritual life we see in the heroes of our faith is an often neglected term: total surrender or total abandonment to God. Or, to make it personal, to be surrendered totally or become totally abandoned to Him. We see this concept in the works of Oswald Chambers and Andrew Murray and many of the other “higher Christian life” proponents of the last century. It was a major theme in the Keswick Movement that had such a lasting effect in the first half of the twentieth century. And the idea of total surrender or total abandonment to God is the foundation in the teaching of Jesus in John 15 about the vine and the branches and the art of “abiding in Him.”
But what does it mean to experience total surrender or total abandonment to God?
First, to surrender or experience total abandonment means to “yield ownership or control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our rights, our self.” This is the key that unlocks the door to the
“abundant life” Jesus promised (John 10:10). There is no other way.
In “My Utmost for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers defines total surrender this way:
Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
Then he gives this warning:
Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.
If you desire to surrender more of yourself to Him, by all means, keep listening.
We have spent quite a bit of time exploring what it means for Jesus to be called the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29). But one question needs to be answered. If Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” including our sin, what is our natural, spiritual, and reasonable response to Him? In other words, what do we give Jesus in exchange for what He has given us? Or, what gift or sacrifice is worthy of His gift and sacrifice? And why is that even important?
In Romans 12:1, we find what the “reasonable, natural, and spiritual” response is to the Lamb of God. And it is based, not on the fear of judgment or condemnation, but the joy of His mercy. Consider these words:
I beseech (urge, beg) you therefore, brethren, by the (what) mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
But how is that done? In practical terms, how do we present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice?
The key to an overabundant spiritual life is not doing, but being. In essence, it’s not what we do for Him that matters, but what we allow Him to do through us. And this process is called abiding.
“Abide (rest, dwell, make your home) in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
The answer is simple. But it’s hard to live it out daily in our lives. Join me as we explore the wonders of responding to the Lamb of God and His love for us.
As we have been discussing, the term “Lamb of God” that John the Baptist used to identify Jesus was not simple guesswork or something he made up. It was a profound, prophetic revelation given to John by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. How do we know that? Because we can trace the Lamb of God in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, clearly showing God’s intent to reveal His Son in that way all along. Let’s once again look at John the Baptist’s proclamation of the coming King.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36).
Note, this may be the first time Jesus is called the Lamb of God in the New Testament, but we see traces of this revealed in the Old Testament beginning in Genesis 4.
Consider the thoughts John the Baptist may have had right before he proclaimed Jesus as the “Lamb of God” as he remembered how the phrase was used in Scripture:
In Genesis 4:4 we have the Lamb as a type in the firstlings of a flock slain by Able in sacrifice.
In Genesis 22:8 we have the Lamb prophesied where Abraham says to Isaac, “My son, God will provide (for) Himself a lamb for the burnt offering.”
In Exodus 12 we have the Lamb slain and the blood applied to protect from judgment.
In Isaiah 53:7 we have the Lamb revealed as a person. For the first time, we learn the Lamb would be a Man.
In John 1:29, we have the Lamb identified as Jesus.
In Revelation 5 the Lamb is magnified by all the hosts of heaven.
And in Revelation 22:1, the Lamb is glorified, seated upon the throne of God.
Let’s unpack this truth together, shall we?
We have been discussing the phrase used by John the Baptist to herald the coming of Jesus. In both John 1:29 and 36, John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God.” We have also traced that phrase throughout the book of Revelation, beginning in chapter 5. And amazingly, John describes Jesus as a “Lamb as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:7), or as a “Lamb as if slain.” But what does that phrase mean? And what are the implications? Let’s look at the text together:
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:6-8).
Later in the same chapter, we see Jesus identified, once again, as the “Lamb.” Not Christ, not Son of God nor the Son of Man, not even Messiah. But simply, the “Lamb.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
But this is only the beginning. We will soon discover the identification of Jesus as a “Lamb” runs all through the book of Revelation. Did you ever wonder why? What is the Lord trying to say to us?
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the description of John, a “Lamb as if slain.”
As we look at the name John the Baptist calls Jesus in John 1:29 and 36 (the Lamb of God), and compare it to how the name of Jesus is used in Revelation, several key points quickly come to the surface. For example, when we see Jesus referred to as “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” in Revelation, it is usually associated with an attribute or characteristic of Jesus, and not as a description of His person.
In other words, John uses phrases like the “testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 1:2, 9; 12:17; 19:10), or the “witness of Jesus” (Rev. 20:4), or the “patience of Jesus” (Rev. 9), or even the “faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12), to describe something associated with Jesus the person, but not as a term describing Jesus as a person.
The descriptive phrase John uses to describe Jesus in Revelation is the same phrase John the Baptist uses to introduce Him to the world in John 1:29. And that phrase is “Lamb of God” or, simply “Lamb.” Consider the following:
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6).
This is a description of Jesus the person.
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” (Revelation 6:1).
Again, John is describing Jesus as the person opening one of the seals, and not one of His attributes. And He calls Him the “Lamb”.
Take a moment and do a quick Bible search and look at how often John refers to Jesus as the “Lamb” in Revelation and then ask yourself, Why? Could there be more to this than what it seems like on the surface? And how did John the Baptist know to call Jesus the “Lamb of God”?
This is just a sneak-peek into all the Lord has for us to learn about Him in this wonderous name of Jesus, the “Lamb of God.” Keep listening to find out more.