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Experiencing the Cross Study Guide: Your Greatest Opportunity for Victory Over Sin

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Overview

Dare to Go There
Although the cross is God's decisive deed in human history, the full meaning of it is far too much for a mere human mind to grasp. But through Henry Blackaby's careful examination, the cross becomes not a doctrine, but an experience. You'll be overwhelmed with the utter significance of Christ's death, leading you to a stronger sense of God's power in your daily life. Steeped in the Blackaby distinctive of constant encouragement toward your personal experience of God, and firmly rooted in Scripture, this study guide makes it impossible to keep a casual attitude toward sin. Practice surrendering to the deeper dimensions of the cross, so that nothing can block the Lord's presence and power in your life
"Whoever does not bear his own cross
and come after me cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:27
Are you ready to destroy a casual attitude toward sin? To eliminate every barrier blocking the Lord's presence and power in your life? Then you are ready to make the cross your own.
This eight-week Bible study companion to Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing the Cross" provides the practical tools you need to:
LESSON 1 Grasp the graveness of sin
LESSON 2 Comprehend Christ's blood sacrifice
LESSON 3 Grow in gratitude for the One who died your deserved death
LESSON 4 Exchange your sin for Christ's righteousness
LESSON 5 Tap into God's unlimited resources, blessings, and power
LESSON 6 Submit to God's sanctifying work in your life
LESSON 7 Become alive to righteousness
LESSON 8 Share the message of the cross with others
The One who called you to this journey promises to be with you every step of the way. Go boldly forward to experience His blessings as they've never been seen, heard, or felt before.
Receive the reality. Discover the power. Live the experience.


For individual or group use. Leader's guide included.
Story Behind the Book
"Our whole identity with Christ is found in the cross. It was there that God dealt totally with sin. And it is there that God intends us to be united with Christ in His death so that we would forever hate sin, abhor sin, and forsake sin. In our intimate relationship with Christ and His crucifixion, God intends for us to obtain His perspective on sin--to feel its horrors, as Christ does, and then to let God put sin to death in our lives--as He did in the crucifixion of His Son. The victory accomplished through Christ's death and resurrection is the very same victory we can experience daily in our lives "
--Henry Blackaby

Details

  • SKU: 2370002713641
  • Title: Experiencing the Cross Study Guide: Your Greatest Opportunity for Victory Over Sin
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books
  • Release Date: Apr 28, 2010
  • Pages: 128
  • Category: STUDY GUIDE
  • Subject: Christian Life - Spiritual Growth
NOTE: Related content on this page may not be applicable to all formats of this product.

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

Lesson 1

YOUR DESPERATE NEED FOR THE CROSS

* * *

A companion study to the introduction and chapter 1 in Experiencing the Cross

LIFE CHANGE OBJECTIVES

It's our prayer that after you have finished this lesson .

You will begin to open yourself to greater personal ownership and experience of the cross.

You will grasp more deeply the seriousness of sin-particularly your own sin.

You will begin to live and speak in ways that will more highly elevate the name of God because of His sacrifice on your behalf.

DAY 1-A BURDEN TO BE SHARED

When the Lord repeats something, He expects us to sit up and listen! Consider the following statements from the Son of God:

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).

"He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:38).

"Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:27; see also Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34).

Key Question 1

Begin your study of Christ and His cross by talking to Him for a minute or two. Invite Him to change your heart and mind so that you will begin to take ownership of His cross, just as He did so willingly for you. In the space below, write the essence of what you've asked Him to do for you.

Going Deeper

1a. Read again the three passages quoted above (Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:27). In your own words, what do these statements say is involved in taking up your cross?

DAY 2-MORE THAN MERE KNOWLEDGE

What does it mean to take up your cross? Throughout this study you'll discover several truths that help answer that question. And underlying everything must be an actual experience of the cross.

Key Question 2

As you embark on your study of the cross, what do you think bearing your cross might cost you?

What are the reasons you want to bear your cross?

Going Deeper

2a. If possible, describe a time when the sacrifice of Jesus became so real to you that, at least for a time, you lived as a different kind of person.

DAY 3-MORE THAN MERE HISTORY

Key Question 3

Read Matthew 16:21 and Luke 24:44-46. Why is it significant to you that Jesus recognized there was no other way to fulfill the Father's plan?

Going Deeper

3a. Read Revelation 13:8 and Titus 1:2. Why is it significant for you that the cross was God's plan throughout the span of history and beyond?

DAY 4-THE REASON FOR THE CROSS

Key Question 4

Read Ephesians 2:11-12 and describe in your own words your prospects apart from the cross of Christ. (Without the cross, how does God view your eternity?)

Going Deeper

4a. Consider the familiar words of John 3:16. Before reading Experiencing the Cross, what would you have chosen as the one word that represents the very core of what God is saying in this verse? Why did you choose that word?

4b. Describe the daily reminders God has provided all around you to help you understand the seriousness of sin. (See Genesis 3:16-19.)

According to Dr. Blackaby, "the reason we fall short of seeing eternity as God sees it is that we fail to view sin as God views it."

4c. How serious does God know our sin to be? What was the magnitude of the price it required? (See 1 Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 9:27-28.)

DAY 5-GOD'S RADICAL TREATMENT OF SIN

Our English word radical comes from the Latinradix, "root." So when Dr. Blackaby says that God planned "to deal radically with sin," he means that God's plan was no mere Band-Aid. His remedy went to the very source from which our individual sins arise.

So consider two scenarios:

Scenario 1: God implements a plan by which He remedies each sin as you commit it, but leaves you essentially unchanged.

Scenario 2: God implements a plan by which He addresses the very root of your sin nature, changing you from the inside out.

Key Question 5

Why is it important to you that God chose the second of these scenarios? (See Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:3; Ephesians 4:22-24.)

Going Deeper

5a. Read Hebrews 10:12-17 and describe your eternal prospects after the cross of the sinless Christ has been applied to your life. Under the cross, how does God view your eternity?

CONCLUSION-EXPERIENCING THE CROSS

The seriousness of sin applies not only to your life before Christ, but also to your life in Christ. In Experiencing the Cross, Dr. Blackaby explains that God implemented His plan of spiritual rebirth "for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord . when I am hallowed in you before their eyes" (Ezekiel 36:22-23).

Key Question 6: Reflecting on the Cross

Take a few minutes and talk with your Father about your life as you have been living it. You might pray something similar to Dr. Blackaby's prayer:

Use the following space to record thoughts that come to mind as you pray with an open heart before Him.

6a. Take a few minutes more and ask Your Father that question: "Why did Jesus have to die? Was there no other way?" Pray also, "Lord, help me understand more deeply and personally that you did this for me . that it was exactly what I needed."

Use the following space to record your thoughts as you converse with Him.

Key Question 7: Changed by the Cross

Choose one change you will make this week in your thinking, speech, or behavior in order to reflect your gratitude for God's sacrifice on your behalf.

For Meditation and Memorization

In each lesson, we will suggest a key Scripture passage for you to think about throughout the week. Write it on a card and carry it with you. Take it out and read it at least twice each day, reflecting on its significance in your life. This simple process is one way of practicing biblical meditation.

Allow the truth of the passage to sink deeply into your mind and heart. After a few days, you'll probably find that you can remember the specific words. But even if you can't, the essential significance of God's Word will become more deeply embedded in your thinking.

You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

For Further Study and Application

Each lesson in this book will conclude with a selection of additional Scriptures that you may want to study to strengthen your understanding and application of the Bible's teaching about the cross.

The necessity of the cross: Luke 24:25-26; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3.

The seriousness of sin: Matthew 12:30; Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:21.

The magnitude of Christ's sacrifice on the cross: Hebrews 7:26; John 1:4.

The impact of the cross in our lives: Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 2:10.

(Continues.)


Chapter One

THE DIVINE NECESSITY OF THE CROSS

Was There No Other Way?

* * *

It is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

When we recall the horror and frightful injustice of God's pure and blameless Son being crucified, the question often comes: Why? We want to know: Could there not have been some other way? Was there no other way to save us from sin?

If you haven't yet done so, I urge you to stand in the presence of God and ask Him, "Why did Jesus have to die?" Then linger in prayer until He gives you His answer.

Throughout the Scriptures, God makes clear the divine necessity of the cross. It had to happen; it was God's purpose, and there was no other way. If there had been, we can be absolutely certain that God would have provided it.

That's why, in this world of so many religions, a Christian declares unashamedly that Jesus Christ alone is the way and the truth and the life, and that no one can come to the Father and to eternal salvation except through Him. If the cross was God's only way of providing human redemption, then Jesus Christ is surely the only Savior there is for all mankind.

Eternity as God Views It

The reason we often fail to grasp the divine necessity of the cross is that we don't view eternity as God views it. What does God know about eternity that you and I often fail to realize?

Recall in your mind the familiar words of John 3:16. If you could choose one word that represents the core-the very heartbeat-of what God is saying here, which word would it be? "Loved"? "Gave"? Perhaps "everlasting life"?

Actually, it's the word perish.

Think about that: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Death is at the very foundation of that statement-eternal death-a destiny that's inescapable by our own efforts.

In Ephesians 2:12, Paul tells us to remember something we often forget: "You were without Christ . having no hope and without God in the world." Humanly speaking, none of us has any eternal hope of anything . except to perish.

Yet this inescapable fact brought a response from God's heart, one that causes us to bow in wonder and awe as we truly consider it: He so loved the world that He gave His only Son . so we would not perish!

Something about that word perish made the cross eternally necessary, requiring God to give up His Son, with no other effective strategy being possible. That word perish says something about eternity that we don't usually take in.

And the reason we fall short of seeing eternity as God sees it is that we fail to view sin as God views it.

The Proof of Sin's Magnitude

How serious is sin?

Serious enough that to provide a way to deal with it, God the Father ordained the death of His own beloved Son, a death far more profound than physical death, as we'll study later. His Son was "holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26, HCSB); His Son was "a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:19); "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). But sin-your sin and mine-necessitated this One's death.

Have you realized, therefore, how the cross reveals more of the magnitude of sin than all the wars and atrocities and human cruelties throughout recorded history?

God understands the seriousness of sin because all sin-every sin-is a personal offense against our God and our Creator. In that sense, there are no "little sins"; any and every sin a person commits places that person in enmity with the Father.

Not many people seriously think of themselves as God's enemy. Even believers often resist this way of thinking. They'll say with all sincerity about their past, "Well, I wasn't really goingagainst God; I just wasn't going with Him." But they're sincerely wrong. God's perspective is all that matters, and He says in His Word that we were His enemies (Colossians 1:21). Or as Jesus put it, "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matthew 12:30).

For the Sake of His Great Name

In Ezekiel 36, God is ready to announce to His people the new covenant which will initiate our spiritual rebirth and renewal. Speaking through the prophet, the Lord will tell the people of God, "I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols." He will promise them, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes" (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

But first He tells His people something else. He lets them know that what He's about to do, He is doing not for their sake, "but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations" (vv. 22-23).

And how did God sanctify His great name among the people of Israel? He sent them into captivity in Babylon and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. He did this to restore the holiness of His name, because His people in their sin had profaned His name among the nations. God severely chastened His covenant people in full view of the nations. All the nations could see what God did to His chosen ones, and all could see and begin to understand that the God of Israel is a holy God.

That's how serious Israel's sin was in God's eyes.

Ezekiel 36 is a passage God has powerfully used in my own heart and life, and I'm often disturbed by all that it implies. When Christians today sin consistently, they affect how the world understands God. In fact, they profane His name by their sin. What then should we expect God to do? Doesn't the world today need to see and know that God is holy? Wouldn't God be entirely right and just, therefore, to bring severe affliction upon His people today, so the nations of the world can see His holiness displayed through His discipline of His chosen ones?

Don't take this passage lightly. It devastates me to think about it, and causes me to pray, "O God, is there anything in my life, in word or deed, that misrepresents You to people who watch or listen, causing them to take lightly who You are? Are they kept from hearing You because of how I live or what I say? If that's so, I ask You, Lord, to do in me what's necessary to cause them to realize that You take sin seriously."

God's Radical Treatment of Sin

God knows full well-as we could never know-the appalling destructiveness of sin. He knows what sin has done to us; He knows how it hurts and impairs us. For every sin we've committed, He understands the full harm done to ourselves and to others, as well as the awful affront which it is to Him. In the cross, therefore, He made complete and total provision for every aspect of what sin has done or ever could do.

And as we'll see later, because of the totality of what God did in the cross, absolutely nothing can now come into our lives to make us less than what God wants us to be and to become. In Christ and in the cross, God has already abundantly provided us with everything we need to deal with everything that confronts us.

This is true because God, through the death of His Son, purposed to deal radically with sin-not just with our individual sins (plural), but with the sin nature in human beings, with the whole presence of sin (singular), which is the root cause of all our individual sins.

Reminders All Around Us of Sin's Seriousness

Failing to view sin seriously shows how little we understand about the reality that surrounds us every day of our lives. God has given us reminders of the seriousness of sin in the form of His judgments against sin in Genesis 3, judgments that continue to this day.

As a pastor for a church in Saskatchewan on the prairies in the heart of Canada, I officiated at many funerals. When those funerals occurred in the depths of winter, the graves had to be dug in ground that was frozen several feet down, hard as a rock. It made me think of the judgment the Lord God pronounced upon Adam: "Cursed is the ground because of you" (Genesis 3:17, ESV). Ever since Adam's sin, God has cursed the ground so that it's unyielding, or stays prone to yield the wrong things-"thorns and thistles" (v. 18), and requires painful toil to produce our food. If we take notice of this and think about it, we may wonder why God continues to bring such a judgment. Don't you suppose it's meant to serve as a constant reminder of how serious sin is to the mind and heart of God?

Or think of His judgment upon Eve and on every mother since then: "In pain you shall bring forth children" (v. 16). When a mother today experiences the intensity of labor pains, do we say, "Thank You, Lord God, for reminding us of the reality of the seriousness of sin"?

In the graciousness of God, every moment of experiencing His continuing judgment provides us an opportunity to remember how tragic sin is, how it turns us into His enemies, and how costly it is for God to deal with it.

That's why it's incredibly good news that "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son" (Romans 5:10). Our sin against God, our enmity against Him, required nothing less than the cross; and that ultimate sacrifice is exactly what God provided!

Jesus Recognized This Divine Necessity

Jesus Himself knew and accepted this divine necessity of the cross. This is clear in His first mention of the cross in the Gospels, in Matthew 16:21:

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things . and be killed, and be raised the third day.

The Savior didn't hint that these things might happen, or even predict that they would happen-but rather declared that they must happen. There could be, there would be, no other way.

Jesus again emphasized this necessity in the very significant teaching moments He had with His disciples after His death and resurrection:

He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25-26, ESV)

To demonstrate this necessity to them, He went directly to Scripture, to the Old Testament:

He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day." (Luke 24:44-46)

He was telling them, "All this had to take place-the Scriptures themselves say so." Thus was it written, and thus was it necessary.

Paul taught the same thing: "Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3). The cross was inevitable-planned by the Father from the beginning, and plainly revealed to His people in His Word.

So whenever you come into God's presence and ask Him, "Why did Jesus have to die? Was there no other way?"-let Him show you from the Scriptures how the cross was necessary for the redemption of the whole world. Then let Him apply that truth to your heart. Let it sink in how it was all for you . and exactly what you need.

(Continues.)

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