Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bible Study - Identity (1) - Life in CHRIST - Luke 9:18-26 - April 23, 2017

Bible Study – Identity (1) – Life in CHRIST – April 23, 2017

This is lesson one in our series entitled “Identity: My Life of Faith.”

Our focus scripture is Luke 9:18-26.

JESUS’ identity is foundational to who I am.

For the past seven weeks we have studied the very foundation of our faith in JESUS in our series entitled “Victory.” Our series concluded with the resurrection of JESUS but for all Christians that was the beginning of their journey with JESUS. The resurrection of JESUS was proof that JESUS had paid the sin debt in full and conquered eternal death. It is only through faith in JESUS that a person receives eternal life. It is truth, accept it! Satan tries to lead us to consider other ways to salvation and GOD but JESUS is the only way.

Our next six-week series will explore our role as Christians in the family of faith in JESUS. We will study various scripture passages from the New Testament.

Salvation is the beginning of our journey of faith in JESUS. The miracle of rebirth in our spirit by the Spirit of GOD produces a new creation not born of flesh and blood but born of the Spirit of GOD. Thus our human spirit, when empowered by GOD’S Spirit, through faith in JESUS, results in the rebirth of our human spirit to become Spirit.

Through the miracle of rebirth the person of faith in JESUS is born into the family of GOD and since he or she is conceived by GOD, he or she is HIS Son or Daughter. The born-again believer, through faith in JESUS, has forgiveness for his or her sins, has eternal life, citizenship in Heaven, assurance he or she is GOD’S Son or Daughter by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The disciples of JESUS asked HIM to teach them how to pray. The Apostle recorded the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-10:

9 "Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I want to focus on “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

As children of GOD and an integral part of HIS Family, we are to function as an obedient member of GOD’S Family. This sets the foundation for our study, “My Life of Faith.”

Most of us would like for GOD to toss magic dust over us and in an instant we are Spiritually mature and live a life of absolute obedience. GOD knows us too well. Even JESUS had to face the issues in life and we know HE was victorious.

Our salvation was instantaneous the moment we asked JESUS to forgive us and for HIM to come into our heart and life. From that instant, our life in CHRIST has been a building, growing process through sanctification or being made into the image of JESUS. Let’s explore!

Let’s read Luke 9:18-20:
Peter's Confession of the Messiah

18 While He was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"

19 They answered, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back."

20 "But you," He asked them, "who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah!"

JESUS was praying and asked HIS disciples an important question, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” This led JESUS to the most important question each of us must consider, “who do you say that I AM?”

We get to read the response of JESUS’ disciples. Note Peter’s response.

Often, when we first become a Christian we have great zeal to obediently serve the LORD JESUS. We have formed certain opinions about JESUS and GOD and their role in our lives such as how will they use us to minister to others in the world.

Peter was no different. When we study the journey of Peter we discover that he had formed certain opinions regarding JESUS. We know that in Luke 9:28-36:

The Transfiguration
28 About eight days after these words, He took along Peter, John, and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
29 As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became dazzling white.
30 Suddenly, two men were talking with Him-Moses and Elijah.
31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of His death, which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.
32 Peter and those with him were in a deep sleep, and when they became fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who were standing with Him.
33 As the two men were departing from Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it's good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-not knowing what he said.
34 While he was saying this, a cloud appeared and overshadowed them. They became afraid as they entered the cloud.
35 Then a voice came from the cloud, saying: This is My Son, the Chosen One; listen to Him!
36 After the voice had spoken, only Jesus was found. They kept silent, and in those days told no one what they had seen.

Peter had been exposed to special Spiritual insights regarding JESUS. Peter was willing to die for CHRIST. Yet, do you recall the words JESUS spoke to Peter in Luke 22:31-34:

Peter's Denial Predicted
31 "Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.
32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
33 "Lord," he told Him, "I'm ready to go with You both to prison and to death!"
34 "I tell you, Peter," He said, "the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me!"

Yet, we know the rest of the life of Peter. He repented and went on to become a stalwart for JESUS. The resurrection of JESUS changed Peter’s life.

Let’s read Luke 9:21-22:
His Death and Resurrection Predicted

21 But He strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one,

22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day."

We may know something intellectually without knowing it fully or understanding it completely. JESUS made it plain to HIS disciples what was going to take place but when we have our own notions about things, we forget. 

As you recall, JESUS had to put together the scriptures and the events during HIS life upon earth together for them in an effort to give HIS disciples understanding and comprehension.

The indwelling Holy Spirit was the Spiritual power that brought it all together for them at Pentecost. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who brings it together for each of us as we seek the fullness of JESUS in our lives.

Christians often walk in life in a glass darkly then face to face, as we seek truth. Christians have to grow and mature Spiritually before they comprehend fully the intimate, loving relationship GOD desires for them through their faith in JESUS. False notions have to be dispelled and truth must be embraced, comprehended, understood and applied.

So how do we as Christians build the right relationship with GOD through faith in JESUS? Let’s read on ---

Let’s read Luke 9:23-26:
Take Up Your Cross

23 Then He said to [them] all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

There must be a moment of decision. Notice JESUS “said to all.” All people are called to become a Christian but each must accept the call of JESUS.

For a person to become a Christian he or she must accept JESUS as his or her Savior. They are born anew into GOD’S family. They receive the Holy Spirit as the guarantee and assurance that they are GOD’S children. It is when Christians put the truth of their relationship with GOD into practice, as led by the Holy Spirit, that GOD becomes relevant and real in their lives.

Keep in mind that we are not testing GOD but partnering with GOD when we desire to build the right relationship with HIM. It is only in the last year that I have begun to discover this in my life and still have a long ways to go but it is so rich to see GOD as my very best friend. We can tell HIM our darkest secrets and HE listens and forgives when we ask HIM. HE not only forgives, HE cleanses, restores and reminds us that we are under HIS Grace; therefore we are always HIS beloved Son or Daughter.

That is unfailing love, agape love, which loves without demanding anything in return.

Those who are serious about obediently serving the LORD JESUS are to:
-         Make a decision whether or not to follow JESUS.
-         Lay your ambitions on the altar and commit your life to follow JESUS. An interesting dynamic can, but not always, take place that GOD leads you to the desires of your heart but under HIS authority.
-         Take up your cross daily. The cross was an instrument of death. The condemned person carried the cross upon which he or she would be crucified. Christians are to, each day, willingly and without coercion, decide to follow JESUS. The Apostle Paul reminds Christians in Ephesians Chapter 6; they are in spiritual warfare and must suit up for battle each day with spiritual forces. Christians are to die to self and live in obedience to GOD as led by the Holy Spirit.
-         Follow HIM. JESUS was totally obedient to the will, plan and purpose of HIS Father, GOD. JESUS came to earth to live as a human for a specific purpose. That was to give HIS life to redeem all who will place their faith in HIM as their Savior from the penalty of sin, which is eternal death. That purpose was fulfilled. JESUS’ death upon the cross opened the way to GOD but the only way to GOD is through faith in JESUS. Do you remember the words of JESUS in John 14:6?

24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.

Many people want to do their own thing and live like they want to, which is what JESUS had in HIS mind. People are so afraid if they become a Christian they will not experience all that life upon earth has to offer. Satan’s desire is for us to live life according to our desires. Why? It is because Satan’s mission is to prevent all people from acknowledging JESUS as their Savior and GOD as their Father through faith in JESUS.

We think that earth is reality but all humans are moving toward reality and that is eternity – Heaven with GOD, through faith in JESUS or Hell that was created for Satan and his followers.  

Truth and reality is that GOD loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life upon earth and for eternity with HIM. Satan’s desire is for you to miss that loving, intimate relationship with GOD and for you to spend eternity being miserable and alienated from GOD outside of Heaven.

Have you ever been invited somewhere and refused to go because you thought it would be boring or had something else you wanted to do? Later you found out that it was the best event ever? Those who believe the lies of Satan and miss Heaven will be in for an eternal disappointment.

GOD is the GOD of reconciliation. All humans are separated from GOD by sin. GOD sent HIS only Son to earth to break the barrier of sin. The key to eternal life is for each person to accept what JESUS did for him or her and for him or her to be born into GOD’S family through the miracle of rebirth in our spirit.  

25 What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?

JESUS makes a very valid point. Suppose you were the ruler of earth and all of earth belonged to you. Everything in earth was yours. WOW! What is missing? One day, you would die and leave it all behind and enter eternity. Would you enter Heaven or Hell? Your decision regarding JESUS makes the difference.

JESUS was saying this life upon earth is precious and intended to be lived but one day it will be over and then what? Eternity! Where will you spend eternity; With GOD in Heaven or Hell?

JESUS was saying choose wisely by following ME because the rewards are eternal.

26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.

Have you ever been ashamed? You are very uncomfortable to be associated with that which makes you ashamed. You avoid the subject or associating with the subject.

Some of the time we are ashamed of that which we do not understand. We place our confidence in a certain person and support that person in word, deed, resources and he or she does something that appears to violate the trust we have placed in him or her. We are hurt to the core and feel betrayed.

How many of JESUS’ followers were certain that JESUS would be the next physical ruler of Israel? Yet, when HE was treated so shamelessly by the Romans and even the Jewish leaders, they lost all faith in JESUS. After all, JESUS was crucified as a common criminal. It was very humiliating to be one of HIS followers. Yet, the greatest triumph was HIS resurrection from the dead. JESUS conquered both sin and eternal death for all who will place their faith in HIM!

JESUS made it clear that those who are ashamed of HIM, when truth is revealed, HE will be ashamed of them. Being ashamed of JESUS will block a person from being a follower of JESUS.

If you are ashamed of JESUS, let it be an alarm to you and confess it to HIM. Ask HIM to help you change your being ashamed of HIM to being a faithful, obedient follower of HIM.

27 I tell you the truth: there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."

This statement of JESUS is just as true today as the day HE spoke it. Some reading this will experience seeing the Kingdom of GOD before they die. My prayer is that all will accept JESUS as their Savior and make HIM the LORD of their lives and obediently serve HIM. Happy Resurrection! Blessings!!!


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