The Forgiven

April, May, June 2003

Want to learn more about The Forgiven? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: God and Forgiveness (1 John 1, Luke 5 & 13, Matthew 18)
We are starting a new twelve-week study on the topic of forgiveness. What does it mean to be forgiven? What are the steps to forgiveness? How much will God forgive? Can we leave guilt behind? How important is our obligation to forgive others? We have a great deal to learn about forgiveness, so let's dive into the Bible this week and see what we can learn!

Lesson 2: Forgiveness in the Hebrew Bible (Psalms 32, 51, 78; Exodus 32)
Chances are you cannot read Hebrew. If so, you might be wondering whether a lesson with the title "Forgiveness in the Hebrew Bible" has any relevance to you. What is the Hebrew Bible anyway? Is it a Bible written in Hebrew? One of my dear friends is very active in his conservative Jewish synagogue. When I speak to him about the "Old Testament," he reminds me that, as far as he is concerned, it is the only testament. The "Hebrew Bible" is just a fancy way to say "Old Testament." Was God less forgiving in the Old Testament than in the New Testament? What picture of forgiveness does the Old Testament reveal? Let's dive into our study and find out!

Lesson 3: Forgiveness and Repentance (Romans 2, Matthew 9, 2 Peter 3, 2 Corinthians 7)
Last week, the students at the boarding school, where my daughter attends, put on a play. Although the students were very good, I went more out of a sense of obligation than desire. Obligation was rewarded, however, when one of my daughter's teachers, Harlen Miller, started talking to me about forgiveness. "Have you," he asked, "ever thought about the word itself?" Well, I had not. My handy electronic dictionary tells me it means "from" and "to give." Forgiveness is a gift that God gives to us and we, in turn, can give to others! What really catches, my attention, however, is the "for." For can also mean "before" or "ahead." We see this in words such as foretaste and forgone. Jesus gave us the gift of His sacrifice on our behalf before we needed it. Let's explore how this forgiveness leads us to repentance!

Lesson 4: How Jesus Forgave (Luke 5, 23; John 21)
This past week I went to a wonderful Easter play at a local Assemblies Church. The production was what you would expect from a professional company - really first class. The quality of the play allowed me to imagine being present during Jesus' life and crucifixion. It gave me better insights into those events. Not only did the final scenes break my heart, but they impressed me again with the incomprehensible nature of Jesus' forgiving spirit. The crucifixion, like nothing else, shows the depth of the evil of Satan, the importance of God's law and the incredible love and forgiveness that God extended to us. Let's get into our study this week and focus on how Jesus treated sinful Peter!

Lesson 5: Forgiveness and Guilt (Genesis 3, Romans 3)
Guilt has gotten a bad reputation these days. I have a friend who never attends church, is sure that what he learned about God when he was young is enough to carry him through the rest of his life, and who has turned to secular counseling to eliminate any feelings of guilt from his life. He fears that going back to church will revive feelings of guilt. On the rare occasions when we speak on this topic I tell him, "Guilt is good." He disagrees. What do you think? Is the answer different for different people? Let's jump into our lesson and explore this subject!

Lesson 6: Forgiveness and the Church (1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 2)
Many years ago, a pastor asked me to go along with him on a visit to begin the disciplinary process of a church member who was involved in a very serious sin. This was not a visit I wanted to make. My assumption was that this church member knew we were coming and why. It turned out the member thought this was a social call and had no idea I was coming. Imagine my discomfort when the pastor began discussing the sin problem and the member said “What’s Bruce doing here?” Shortly after that, the church member asked, “What business is this of you guys? (i.e., what are either of you doing here?” Good question! I was asking myself why I was there! What is the “business” of the church when it comes to sin among members? Let’s dive in and discover what the Bible says!

Lesson 7: For the Love of God (1 John 4 & 5)
The word "love" means so many things today that sometimes it is almost meaningless. What does it mean to have a God who loves us? What is required of us when we are called upon to "love our neighbor?" What kind of love is expected of us? Is love a substitute for obedience? Let's dive into our lesson about God's love and see what we can learn!

Lesson 8: Loyalties (Exodus 20 & 32; Matthew 6 & 19)
Have you ever thought of applying for a position and then asked yourself, "What does this position require?" If you want to be a Christian, if you want to serve God, what does that require of you? What does God ask of those who want to follow Him? Obedience? Loyalty? Let's jump into our lesson and find out what the Bible says on that subject!

Lesson 9: Reverence (Psalm 111, Proverbs 1, James 4, Isaiah 6, Revelation 14)
One of my law school classmates had the practice of standing at the front of the class, before the professor arrived, and telling a joke. Often the joke was about God. The class would roar with laughter and I would try not to smile because I thought the joke improper. I was worried about respect for God. Today when I preach I always try to say something funny. Although it is generally not reflected in these lessons, I hardly ever teach a class where the students do not laugh. What does God expect of us when it comes to respect and reverence? Are His standards the same as ours: we want people to laugh with us and not at us? Let's jump into our Bible study and find out what it means to reverence God!

Lesson 10: Why Forgive? (Exodus 23, Proverbs 25, Matthew 5)
"I'll forgive, but I will not forget." Have you ever found yourself saying that? Should we forget as well as forgive? Or, is forgetting being foolish? What about the saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." How do these worldly sayings relate to the teachings of the Bible? Are we required as Christians to do more than simply forgive? Let's dive into our Bible study and find out!

Lesson 11: Out of the Heart (James 3, Matthew 12, Philippians 4)
This weekend was graduation at my daughter's school. I attended the services and then helped move my daughter out of the dormitory. A critical part of the move was a wonderful Dodge mini-van that I bought several years ago for $700.00 (US). I love that van mostly because I paid so little for it. At graduation I noticed another parent who owned the latest model BMW 7 series. I complimented this parent on his beautiful BMW. Later, when I had filled my van with my daughter's "stuff," and was getting ready to drive away, it turned out the "BMW parent" was right there. My first impulse was to shuffle my feet for a little bit so that he would not see me with my old van. Why did my heart not want the "BMW parent" to see the "$700 van parent?" Let's dive into our lesson and learn more about our hearts!

Lesson 12: Selfless Service (Matthew 20, Luke 3 & 6, 1 Timothy 5)
"Selfless service." Does this idea make you shudder or does it give you a feeling of satisfaction or freedom? If the goal of life is simply to serve others, then (to continue a theme from last week) the guy who drives the $700 mini-van may be better than the guy who drives the new BMW 7 series, right? Hold on just a minute! If the goal is to serve others, should we even ask "Who is better?" How do we fit ambition and hard work into this picture? Who should we help? Only the worthy? Let's jump into the Bible and find out!

Lesson 13: Living the Life of Faith (Romans 1, Habakkuk 2, Hebrews 10, Micah 6)
We are at the end of our studies on forgiveness. Assume your personal life has made that same journey this quarter. You have repented, God has forgiven you, and you stand completely justified before God. Feels wonderful, doesn't it? Now tell me, how do live the next minute, the next day, the next week? What do you do next? Let's dive into the Bible and find the clues to living the life of faith!

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