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2. He Made Us Alive (Ephesians 2: 1, 5)

 

(1) The way to cross over from death to life

 

    

Prayer:  Lord, we were destined to die in our transgressions and sins, and it was impossible for us to save ourselves.  But Lord, we thank you because you loved us; you didn’t want to see us being dead in transgressions and sins and you wanted to make us alive.  We thank you for preparing the salvation plan for us.  We lift up our lesson today into your hands, may you lead and guide us through this study.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Ephesians 2: 1:  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, (but he made you alive).  In the previous lesson we talked about “we were dead in our transgressions and sins”; in this lesson we will discuss “he made us alive!”

We are truly thankful that the One and Only true God of the universe – Jehovah, is the Triune God of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is holy, loving and righteous.  Because of his righteousness he can never declare the guilty as innocent and the unjust as just.  This One and Only true God is also the source of life, if you have him then you have life, the joy of fullness, and eternal blessing.  Our sin is what keeps us away from God, so in “we were dead in our transgressions and sins,” the death means we were separated from God.  However, God so desires us to come before him to receive life and to have the joy of fullness as well as a blissful eternal life.  But we are all sinners and sinners cannot come before the holy God, so what is God’s solution for this?         

1.      Why did God set up the salvation plan? (John 3: 16; Romans 5: 8; 2 Corinthians 5: 14)

      Why did God want to save us?  John 3: 16 says, ”For God so loved the world ….”, because God loved us to such an extent that he wanted to die for us the sinners.  Romans 5: 7-8 state: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Even though his righteousness kept him from calling the guilty ones innocent, but God’s love compelled him not to forsake us and his holiness made him want to save the world.  “Holiness” here indicates that God is absolutely perfect with no wrongs.  God’s absolute perfectness is what made him wanting to save us.   

2.      What is the purpose of God’s salvation plan?  What kind of salvation plan did God set up? (Matthew 1: 21; John 3: 16, 5: 24; Acts 4: 10)

The purpose of God’s salvation plan is to allow whosoever believes in Jesus not to perish but to have eternal life.  God wants us to come before him, the source of life, to receive life.  He wants us to have the fullness of joy and to live a life of eternal blessing.

What kind of salvation plan did God set up?  In the previous lesson we talked about men could not go before God because of sin.  Because our ancestor Adam disobeyed God so the sin nature (original sin) entered the world.  We are all controlled by the sin nature so it’s impossible for us not to commit sins.  So God’s salvation plan must address the issues of “the sin nature” and “the sinful deeds”.  In other words, God must not only take care of the sinful deeds that we have committed but also free us from the control of the sin nature.  Therefore, God set up the salvation plan in order to “remake the human race”, to recreate men by putting to death our old-selves and creating the new-selves.  He wants to provide a way to pay for all our sins and free us from the control of the sin so that we may move from the status of being separated from God to the status of being reconciled with God.

3.      What is the qualification for being the savior of the human race?  What is the importance of Lord Jesus’ “becoming flesh” to live on earth?  (1 Peters 3: 18; 2 Corinthians 5: 21; Philippians 2: 7-8)

God accomplish his salvation plan by establishing a “savior for mankind”.  So, what is the qualification of the savior for mankind?  Since the savior is to save mankind so he must be a human; he must be a perfect sinless man; and he must not perish when subject to crucifixion.  (Throughout history, countless people were crucified and all have perished because they were not sinless.)

Why must Jesus become flesh to dwell among us on earth?  Could God save us from the heaven?  No, he couldn’t.  Because in heaven God wouldn’t be crucified or be put to death and the salvation plan of Lord Jesus must include “death” followed by “resurrection”.  No one on earth was perfect and sinless because all were born in Adam and lived in sin.  Therefore, the sinless Son of God became flesh – Jesus Christ, to be born “in Adam” and to be united with mankind on earth.  Lord Jesus often called himself as the “son of man”, for he became the son of a human.  Only Jesus Christ, who became flesh from the word, could substitute his righteousness for our unrighteousness and offer his sinless self to redeem us the sinners.

4.      Explain the following four sets of terms: “in Adam and in Christ”, “the first man Adam and the last Adam”, “old-self and “new-self”, “the first man and the second man” (1 Corinthians 15: 22, 45-49; Ephesians 4: 22-24

Before we can understand God’s salvation plan we must first understand the following four sets of terms:

(a)   “in Adam” and “in Christ”:

      1 Corinthians 15: 22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  Here we see there are two types of people, one is characterized by being “in Adam”; the other is characterized by being “in Christ”.

(b)   “the first man Adam” and “the last Adam”:

      1 Corinthians 15: 45 says, “So it is written: the first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.”  “The first man Adam” is the human ancestor Adam who brought sin nature and sinful deeds into the world so that we all become sinners.  God wanted to prepare a savior for mankind, so he prepared a “last Adam” who concluded everything that was “in Adam” through crucifying and burying the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (see Galatians 5: 24)

(c)    “old-self” and “new-self”:

      Ephesians 4: 22-24 say, “You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desire; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  This scripture passage introduced a set of terms “old-self” and “new-self”.  A person who is under the control of the sin nature is called the “old-self”.  The old-self is enslaved to sin and has no freedom not to sin.  God wants to re-create mankind, that is, he wants to create a “new-self”.  The new-self is a person who is free from the control of the sin nature and is united with Christ.  The sin nature can never be the master of the new-self.

(d)   “the first man” and “the second man”:

      1 Corinthians 15: 45-49 mention “the first man” and “the second man”.  “The first man” is the human ancestor Adam who failed to obey God.  So God wanted to remake the human race and created the “second man” to be the head of the new human race.

      From the above four sets of terms we can get a basic understanding of how God plans to remake mankind.  He wants to set up a head for the new human race; he wants to purge all that are old so that we may be freed from the control of the sin nature and be united with Christ to become the new-self.

5.      Explain how Jesus accomplished “the way to cross over from death to life” (God’s salvation plan diagram).  Also, explain how he accomplished the plan in us (Figure 2). (Ephesians 2: 8)          

           

GOD’S SALVATION PLAN DIAGRAM

(The way to cross over from death to life – by grace)

(a)   “God’s salvation plan diagram” – How did Lord Jesus complete the salvation plan for us?  Jesus Christ is the savior God prepared for the human race, and through him the salvation plan (the way to cross over from death to life) was to be accomplished.  The terms “crossed over from death to life” and “passed over from death to life” are found in the Book of John and the Book of 1 John, respectively.

      Jesus Christ is the Son of God, came in the flesh to become the son of man.  Lord Jesus Christ’s entire life on earth is characterized by obedience, suffering, and especially being able to keep the entire law.  He is fully God, and is also fully man.  He is the complete embodiment of both natures of God and man.  Although he was tempted in every way but he did not sin throughout his entire life.  In the end, he assumed the sins of flesh and evil desires of all men (who were “in Adam”) and was crucified.  “The first man Adam” brought the sin nature and the sinful deeds into the world while Lord Jesus Christ as “the last Adam” died on the cross to be our sin offering and redeemed us with his blood.  His blood repaid all our debts of sin and lifted God’s wrath on us (our sins before God are the debts we owe to God).  We are the ones that committed the sins yet God’s wrath didn’t fall on us, instead Jesus bore the entire wrath from God.  Lord Jesus endured the flogging at the hands of the Roman soldiers, he had a crown of thorns put on his head and they spat on his face.  He suffered much insult and humiliation that he didn’t deserve but he took it all for us.  This is a true illustration of “He is cursed so that I may be blessed”.  He was dead and buried and so were all things associated with the first man Adam.  He has resurrected to become the head of the new men.  Romans 8: 3 says, “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, ….”  Lord Jesus was without sin, he became flesh simply to assume the likeness of sinful man.  When he was resurrected he became the head of the newly made human race – “the second man”, and this new human race is characterized by being made “in Christ”.  Later Jesus rose to heaven and sat on the right side of the Father God, and because of him Father God sent the Holy Spirit to implement the salvation plan on earth.

               Lord Jesus was born “in Adam” so how was it possible for him to leave the “in Adam” domain?  It was through his death on the cross that Lord Jesus Christ came out of the “in Adam” domain.  Because we are all subject to the law until we die so once we are dead the law has no power over us.  This is a very important point; it is also the key to our receiving and growing the new life.  Through death Lord Jesus came out of the “in Adam” domain (he is without sin but he was born “in Adam” so that he may represent the human race).  As depicted in the above diagram, if the cross is at the middle and the area to the left represents the “in Adam” domain then through his death and resurrection Jesus entered the area to the right of the cross, i.e. the “in Christ” domain.  Because of his death on the cross Lord Jesus is freed from all sins and transgressions so we call this “crossing over from death”.  When he was resurrected, he became the head of the newly created men and entered into the “domain of life”, therefore this is called “crossing over from death to life” salvation plan.  Hallelujah!  Give thanks to the Lord, it’s all by grace that God completed this “crossing over from death to life” salvation plan.

 

FIGURE 2.  THE WAY OF “Crossing Over from Death to Life” – Through Faith

(At the Moment of Our Conversion)

 

(b)   Per Figure 2:  How does Jesus’ “crossing over from death to life” salvation plan work in us?

The upper branch of Figure 2 describes the situation we were in before believing in the Lord, which results in our separation from God:  “I” was controlled by the sin nature and became the “old-self”, turned my body into the “body of sin” which couldn’t help but commit sins resulting in “death” (separation from God).  This was covered in our discussion of Figure 1 previously.

 The lower branch describes God’s salvation for us at the moment of our conversion:  “I” now call on the name of the Lord to be united with righteousness (Christ), so that my “old-self” is crucified with the Lord.  Christ has set me free from my sin nature to be united with him (though the sin nature is not dead but it shall not be my master) to become “new-self” (receiving new life – eternal life).  When I confess and call on his name: “Oh Lord, I am a sinner, and I am willing to accept Jesus as my personal savior,” then God will unite me with the Lord.  When that happens, my old-self is nailed to the cross with the Lord and the old-self, the slave of sin, is dead and “I” am set free to be united with Jesus to become “new-self”.

Ephesians 2: 8 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Praise the Lord, by grace the salvation plan has been completed.  What does “through faith” mean?  John 1: 12 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name …..”  So faith is “calling on the name of the Lord, confessing to being a sinner and receiving him as our personal savior.”  When I receive him as my savior, the way of “crossing over from death to life” is realized in me, namely, I die with the Lord, buried with the Lord, rise with the Lord and receive a new life.  This is the meaning of “once you believe in Jesus you will have eternal life.”  To have faith or to believe means to acknowledge everything Jesus Christ has done for me and to accept that he has accomplished the “crossing over from death to life” salvation plan for me.  Thus, when I accept Jesus as my personal savior, I am united with the Lord; and what he has done has been done for me and what he has been through likewise is taking effect in me.  Although I was not physically crucified on the cross or buried in the tomb but because of grace and through faith that once I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior I am united with the Lord in death, burial, and resurrection.  For a new believer of Jesus we don’t need to tell him (her) about the salvation plan or being united with the Lord in death and resurrection etc., because the moment he (she) becomes a believer he (she) will experience that there is a new life in him (her) and that there is a voice in him (her) to guide his (her) actions.  This shows that in fact he (she) has experienced being united with the Lord in death and resurrection, or has crossed over from death to life.    

1.      How does the “way to cross over from death to life” free us from the control of the sin nature?  (Romans 6: 7-11)

      Lord Jesus Christ shed his precious blood on the cross and cleansed our sins (paid for the debt of our sins), but how did he free us from the control of the sin nature?  It is through his death.  Because we are subject to the law only when we are still alive, therefore, the sin nature can control us when we are alive but not when we are dead.  For instance, if sin is the master of the slave but now the slave is dead, what can the sin do?  It is Lord Jesus who went through death himself and through faith we are united with Lord Jesus and experience death with him.  Since we are dead we are freed from the control of the sin nature.  Romans 6: 7-11 say: ”Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  As we said before, it is painful to be under the control of the sin nature, so how can we be set free?  There are only two ways: either the sin nature dies or I die.  One of the two has to die otherwise their relationship cannot be severed.  Lord Jesus accomplished the way to “cross over from death to life” through his crucifixion; and we through our faith are united with him to die on the cross as well, and thereby are freed from the control of the sin nature.  The sin nature did not die, it is “I” who died – my “old-self” was nailed to the cross with the Lord.

      Brothers and sisters, whether we realize it or not, our inner “self” must have a master or an object of worship.  Matthew 6: 24 says, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  This is indicative that we all have an object of worship.  Lord Jesus saved us from death to life – because of his death on the cross we also died with him that enabled us to be freed from the control of the sin nature.  “I” am set free, but this “I” cannot remain neutral.  God united “I” with the Lord then “I” became the “new-self” and Jesus is my life and my master.

      Jesus Christ is the last Adam.  When I am united with the Lord in death, in burial, and in resurrection, my relationship with Adam is severed because the past are all dead and buried; I am living as a new man.  Sin shall not be my master rather righteousness (Jesus) is the master of my life because “I” belong to him, I have lost all ties to everything that was “in Adam”.  There is no need to blame Adam anymore (Why are you so weak, Adam?).  In fact, the choice between the two trees that Adam faced in the Garden of Eden is also faced by every Christian today.  After we have believed in Jesus what do we choose?  Do I choose to always exalt the Lord, trust in the Lord and to be more closely united with the Lord, or do I choose to rely on my own analytical reasoning?

      Praise the Lord!  By grace, Lord Jesus completed “the way of crossing over from death to life”, and through faith we accepted being put to death, buried, and raised with the Lord.  In this way we crossed over from death to life.  We received a new life, the dead are freed from sin and the sin nature shall not be our master any more.    

2.      Explain: “After we are saved and born again though the sin nature is still in us but it shall not be our master; Christ is our life and righteousness is the king reigning in our life.” (Romans 5: 17-19, 6: 14)

      From Figure 2 we see that after we are saved and born again the sin nature is not dead, it is still in us but it cannot be our master because Christ is the lord of our life.  The reason we are able to be freed from the control of the sin nature is because our “old-self” has been nailed to the cross with Jesus.  Thus I am released from the bondage of sin and am united with Jesus to become a “new-self”.  Give thanks to the Lord, Jesus is the Lord of my life; I should glorify the Lord and let him be the one to decide what I should do instead of me.  Whenever I try to be the lord myself, the sin nature will sneak up to control me.

      Below we will discuss the wonder of God’s salvation plan and its relationship to our free will to make choices.

3.      Explain in what way the cross is the watershed separating our being “in Adam” and “in Christ”?

      How do we move from the “in Adam” domain to the “in Christ” domain?  It is through the precious blood Lord Jesus shed and his death on the cross that he completed the salvation plan for us.  The death on the cross is very important because without death there is no new birth.  It is impossible for a person who was “in Adam” and controlled by the sin nature to move out without going through death.  We all rely on Lord Jesus’ death on the cross in order to be resurrected; through our faith we are united with the Lord and raised from being dead in transgressions and sins to become the newly made men.  The death on the cross is the fundamental key to the growth of the new life; it is the watershed of moving from “in Adam” to “in Christ”.  After we have been saved and reborn, our status has changed from “in Adam” to “in Christ” but our heart and thought and our old nature often still remain “in Adam”.  Therefore, we must constantly ensure that our old-self is put to death so that we may truly and gradually move into the “in Christ” domain.  Later on we will discuss” the process of going through the daily death” is in fact “walking on the path of taking up the cross to follow the Lord” (the way of the cross).

             Prayer: Oh Lord, we are truly grateful to you, when we were dead in transgressions and sins and were still your enemies, you sent your Son to earth to be among us to complete the salvation plan for us.  Hallelujah!  How great and amazing is your grace.  Give praise to Christ and give all the glories to the Lord.  Oh Lord, we humbly ask you to continually help us realize that only through the crucifixion of Jesus and our faith in receiving him as our savior that we may be united with you in death and thereby ridding the control of the sin nature.  We know that only through death that we may sever our relationship with Adam.   Lord, I pray that you will continue to lead and guide us in our studies ahead.  We pray this in Lord Jesus Christ’s name, amen!

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