News for the week of Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sunday School Lesson — Bible Studies for Life
Dec: 15: A Love You Can Experience
By Josh Moore

Focal Passage: Romans 5:6-11;18-21

Are you familiar with the 1980s song by Foreigner, “I Want to Know What Love Is?” The chorus of the song says, “I wanna know what love is; I want you to show me. I wanna feel what love is, I know you can show me.” This song epitomizes the human desire and search for love, true love. We all want to know what love is; Jesus has shown us. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The breadth of God’s love demonstrated through the gospel of Jesus Christ and explored in this week’s focal passage is even broader! This week, we study the love that we can experience, we can feel, and one that has been shown to us. This is agape love, selfless love. 

Christ’s death demonstrates God’s love for us (vv. 6-8). Romans 5 begins with a listing of the many benefits that believers experience in salvation. We have justification through faith, peace with God, access to God’s grace, and the glorious hope and assurance of eternal life. But how is this possible? Verses 6-8 provide the grounding for this wonderful inheritance. These benefits are only available because at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. The ungodly are you and I. God did not wait for us to prove our worth in righteousness to merit the sacrifice of His Son, for we were hostile and alienated from God in our sinful nature. Verses 7-8 clarify this point. We could possibly understand someone dying for a good and righteous person, or for a just cause. But no one would die for an enemy, or someone who had committed heinous crimes. Would you send your own child into hostile territory knowing that he or she would surely be murdered? But that is what God did. While we were still enemies of God, Christ died for us. 

Christ’s resurrection seals our reconciliation to God (vv. 9-11). Through Christ’s death, we, who were once completely alienated from God in sin, are reconciled to God, our Creator. But the Apostle Paul also realizes that salvation does not stop at Christ’s death. Yes, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross brought forgiveness of sins, but His resurrection from the grave brings ultimate vindication from God and secures for believers the assurance of abundant life in faith both now and forever in the family of God. I am not a fan of tragedies. Even though tragedies provide realistic stories of true life, I prefer the heroic tale where good triumphs over evil. Christ’s victory over death is the ultimate hero epic! He has conquered evil in its entirety. What does this mean for you and me? That is pictured in our baptism. Baptism symbolizes our burial with Christ in His death, but we are raised to newness in life in Him (Romans 6:4). Colossians 3:1 gives us a picture of our present life with Christ, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

Christ’s righteousness grants us eternal life (vv. 18-21). Because of Christ’s victory over death, we have the assurance of eternal life as well. Just as Adam’s sin brought death into the world for everyone, Christ’s perfect obedience and faithfulness brings eternal life to those who believe. It is the free gift of grace available to all. Through the righteousness of Christ, God’s grace grants us eternal life. Charles Wesley’s famous hymn, “And Can It Be, “ is such a fitting way to end this week’s study. “Amazing Love! How can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me!”

— Moore is the director of church relations at Union University in Jackson. He also serves as minister of education at First Baptist Church, Dresden.


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