Final 3 Days of the 24 Day Wordless Book Devotional
9/15. RESCUE ME! Our Need for a Savior.
Holy God is God, and created us golden in God’s Own image to worship and be in right relationships with the Triune God, ourselves, and one another. Sin spirals down our relationships. At the center of our black hole is the dark “My way” attitude. Something deep within us does not want God to be God. This core attitude seeded the dynamic that killed the Lord Jesus. God being God–true, righteous, and just cannot simply blink out this, our deicide, and forget. Consequences and punishment are due to us.
Consequently, we need more than just a little help from the “Man Upstairs.” We need the God who truly loves us and who is God enough to make a way to forgive and rescue Sinful us. God gave the way, the truth, and the life. God took the initiative and gave a person a God’s Own nature to rescue us—the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Now, place yourself in the following Bible passages. Realize your own need for rescue and for God whose love and grace has forgiven and saved you…. and keeps you there!
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authoritiesand put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2: 13-15 ESV.
…we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 2: 1-6 ESV.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6: 20-23 ESV
Did you notice your pre-Christ condition. You were dead, a child of wrath, a slave of Sin, and with nothing but eternal death ahead.
And what did God do in Christ without any contribution from you, then offer to you as a free gift? Forgave you, disarmed the powers against Him and you; triumphed over them. Made you alive together with Christ. Raised you up with Christ and seated you with Him. Set you free to become a slave, as in servant, of God, and bear fruit, be sanctified, and receive eternal life. Wow!
9/16. JESUS IS LORD! Who Jesus is.
One of the earliest, shortest, and clearest proclamations of the earliest church, especially at baptisms, was “Jesus is Lord!” This implies that the Lord Jesus is a Person of the Triune God.
“Jesus is Lord!” This was not a title the earliest Church placed upon Jesus. Rather, this is Who He Himself claimed to be and is.
The culture of which we are part pushes the interpretation of Jesus in another direction. Which of the following lies have you believed?
▪ Jesus was a very good person who taught us how to live, just like other religious leaders.
▪ He never claimed to somehow be God.
▪ The Bible cannot give me a clear picture of Jesus, and people have tried for thousands of years to get a clear picture, so I go with what I feel about the legend of Jesus. Jesus is whoever I want him to be.
▪ It’s all personal preference and private opinion.
Today, let’s briefly discover who Jesus is.
As you read the authoritative biographies Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus reveals His divine nature slowly over time through his teachings, behavior, and miracles. From conception, He has this divine nature; He does not receive it along the way. During His final days in Jerusalem, Jesus more openly reveals His divinity. His resurrection confirms His divine claim.
When you read John’s canonical biography of the Lord Jesus, you will notice that Jesus more overtly reveals Himself as Lord.1 Especially during the Jewish festivals and final days in Jerusalem, Jesus claimed divine titles and roles. He backed up his claims with miraculous signs. His claims received strong push back from the crowds and religious leaders.
As a result of His own Divine self-identification, the earliest Church proclaimed Jesus as Lord. Imagine yourself worshipping in a house as a part of the earliest 1st Century Church. Proclaim with them this statement of belief:
Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2: 5-11 ESV
Now, picture yourself in a 4th Century Church. During worship with others, you proclaim the following part of the famous Nicene Creed:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
Did you hear the echo of the earlier 1st Century statement of belief in the centuries later Nicene Creed?
Jesus is Who Jesus is: Lord–the Eternal God-Man. No other religious leader ever claimed anything near such a thing and in such a way.
Encourage the Holy Spirit to make this personal. Imagine yourself as Jesus’ friend Peter. You have followed Him for almost 3 years. You are now in the northern region of Galilee, and Jesus initiates unwitting you into His final trip to Jerusalem:
When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. Matthew 16: 13-18. MSG.
As you read, did you more deeply realize that Jesus is Lord?
In contrast, imagine yourself as Thomas. You also have followed Him for around three years. Suddenly, Jesus is arrested and horribly executed. Now, your friends claim that He has risen from the dead and they have seen him. You all are grief-stricken, but you are a realist. You consider them delusional, and you bluntly let them know…
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20: 24-29 ESV.
Jesus has been raised! God reality knocks you to your knees and bursts open your heart and mouth to truthfully proclaim, “Jesus is Lord!” See Romans 10: 8-13.
See the Case for Christ and the Case for the Historical Jesus, both by Lee Strobel. These are accessible materials that will help you to better understand that Jesus really is Lord. You may also search for these titles with the author on YouTube and discover some helpful videos.
9/17. HE DIED FOR OUR SIN & IS RISEN INDEED!
You know the reductionistic lies of our culture:
▪ Jesus did not die on a cross for our sins.
▪ Jesus did not raise from the dead.
▪ It does not matter if Jesus literally rose from the dead.
▪ It’s all just a powerful metaphor laden story.
God so loved and identified with us that God gave a Person of God’s Own nature in the flesh (John 1: 1-5, 14; 3:16-17). Without becoming any less God, the Son of God came into flesh with the name Jesus (Philippians 2: 5-11; Hebrews 1: 2-4). The Lord Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, but did not sin (John 8: 46; Hebrews 4: 14-16). Instead, He perfectly loved God and neighbor, earning eternal life for us as our representative. He so deeply knew, loved, and identified with us that He took on our flesh and our human condition so as to become this, our representative.
Finally, representing you, He took on your sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; Luke 22: 41-42). He substituted for each of us, and died on the cross for the just punishment of our sins.
Picture the Cross. The vertical beam represents God’s justice. God is just and must punish Sinful us. The horizontal beam represents God’s love. God is love and does not want to punish us. In the middle of the Cross, see the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Project yourself onto Him. He gravitates you into Himself. Your representative has substituted for you!
Now proclaim the following Biblical text out loud. The third person plural has been changed to first person singular in order to make it very personal:
For I have sinned; I have fallen short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes me right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed me from the penalty for my sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. I am made right with God when I believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he made me a sinner right in his sight when I believed in Jesus. Romans 3: 23-26 NLT
Now, picture the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. First, is this just fantasy or did he really, literally raised from the dead?
A famous scholar of Jesus’s death and Resurrection, Gary Habermas, presents six pieces of evidence that support Christ’s resurrection, which even sceptics themselves cannot deny:
▪ First, Jesus died by crucifixion.
▪ Second, His disciples witnessed the appearances of Jesus after His death.
▪ Third, the disciples were so transformed by what they experienced that they all expressed willingness to spread Jesus’ message of salvation even if they had to sacrifice their own lives to do it.
▪ Fourth, James, the brother of Jesus, also saw Jesus appeared after His death.
▪ Fifth, Paul saw a similar appearance of Jesus and converted.
▪ Lastly, the message of His resurrection was proclaimed within one or two years from the date of His crucifixion.
Now, more boldly imagine the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus. Does it really matter that he literally rose from the dead? In the resurrection, God shouted YES this real resurrection matters into a religious world of ritualized myths, allegories, and fables. Hear this YES through God’s Word to a church that was culturally blurring the resurrection:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 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. 1 Corinthians 15: 1-8 ESV.
Please go to 1 Corinthians 15:15-20 and realize the consequences of a Resurrection-less “religion”.
The Lord Jesus’ literal resurrection from the dead not only proclaimed and confirmed his identity as Lord, but also endowed those who fully identify with Him with:
▪ The benefit of the Cross–Forgiveness for your sins,
▪ His identity as a son of God,
▪ His righteousness (with the possibility for you to live a faithful life that makes an eternal difference because you are foundationally in right relationship with God),
▪ What He Promised–The Holy Spirit living in you.
▪ What He earned for you–Everlasting life.
Under great pressure, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter declare the following. Declare this out loud with him to culminate these 24 days of devotion.:
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menby which we must be saved.” Acts 4: 11-12 ESV