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Apostles’ Creed 3: God the Son (Part 2)

This is part of an ongoing series on the Cornerstone Confirmation Curriculum we are developing at First Trinity Lutheran Church. (Main Confirmation Page)

Small Group Footer 580

The second article of the Apostle’s Creed focuses on Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In this lesson, we focus on how Jesus is both True God and True Man, and why that matters. Also, despite our sinfulness, He loves us and wants a relationship with us, and will stop at nothing to win us back.

Two “Natures” of Jesus

Read John 1:1-2

  • Circle: “the Word”
  • Margin: Write “Jesus” in the margin, then draw arrows connecting “the Word” to Jesus.

Read Matthew 4:2, John 11:35, and John 19:28

  • Underline the human needs and emotions that Jesus had.

Because God is holy (without sin), He needed a holy (sinless) sacrifice to pay for our sins. The Father knew we could never pay that debt, because we are sinful beings from birth. But the payment had to be made by someone under the Law (ie, a human). Therefore, God chose to send His Son, Jesus, who was truly God (John 1) to be born as a man, and therefore truly human in all respects (Matthew 4, John 11, John 19), only without sin. Jesus was therefore able to be the holy sacrifice the Father required to pay for our sins.

In addition, we know that Jesus is able to empathize with us and understand our needs and wants because He lived as one of us, experiencing the same emotions and feelings that we do. He is not a distant God, unable to understand our daily struggles, but rather one who walked through life with the same struggles we face.

How does Jesus relate to us?

Read John 10:25-30

  • Underline: I know them.
  • Margin: Jesus knows me.

Read Luke 15:1-7

  • Underline: What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
  • Margin: Jesus pursues me.

Read John 7:53-8:11

  • Underline: And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
  • Margin: Jesus forgives me.

Read 1 Peter 5:7

  • Underline: Entire Verse
  • Margin: Jesus helps me.

Jesus died not only to make the payment for our sin, but to have a relationship with us. He knows all of our joys and fears; all of our strengths and faults. He knows me better than I know myself, and yet He loves me. Like a shepherd who has lost just one sheep, Jesus pursues me, forgives me and helps me in my time of trouble. He doesn’t do this because we deserve it, but because He loves us. He relates to us as friend and brother, always concerned about what’s best for us.

Class Documents

Apostles’ Creed 2: God the Son (Part 1)

This is part of an ongoing series on the Cornerstone Confirmation Curriculum we are developing at First Trinity Lutheran Church. (Main Confirmation Page)

Small Group Footer 580

The second article of the Apostle’s Creed focuses on Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In this lesson, we focus on our own fall from sin and the need for a Savior.

The Fall into Sin

Read Genesis 3:1-5

  • Underline: neither shall you touch it, lest you die.
  • Margin: No! See Genesis 2:16-17.

Read Genesis 2:16-17

Eve mistakenly added to God’s command (He never said not to touch the fruit, only to not eat it) and the devil took advantage to tempt her to sin. We must be careful to pay attention to what God actually says, not what we think or wish He said.

Read Genesis 3:6-7

  • Underline: she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
  • Margin: Original Sin

This first sin is referred to as the “original” sin. There are two types of sin: original and actual. Adam and Eve actually committed this sin, but everyone else since then was born with original sin. That means that from the moment we are conceived, we are sinful people, inheriting that sin from our parents, all the way back to Adam and Eve.

The Need for a Savior

Read Genesis 3:8-13

  • Underline: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” … The serpent deceived me, and I ate.
  • Margin: Take Responsibility

After the Fall, God confronts Adam and Eve about their actions. Adam’s first instinct is now to blame others (God, this is really your fault for giving me Eve). We try to say things like “The devil made me do it” or blame our friends or siblings. Instead, when faced with sin, we should take responsibility for what we’ve done and ask for God to forgive us.

Read Genesis 3:14-15

  • Underline: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
  • Margin: Jesus (Messiah)

Read Genesis 3:16-19

  • Underline: dust you are and to dust you will return.
  • Margin: Sin Led to Death

After confronting them, God promised hope for Adam and Eve in the form of a Savior, namely Jesus. Jesus would come and defeat sin, death and the devil because we are powerless to do so. After confessing our sin, we place our trust in Jesus, who forgives our sins, not because we deserve it, but because He has paid the price for them. However, as we see in verses 16-19, there are still consequences for our sin. There is death, sickness and suffering in our life because of our sin. Yet God triumphs in the end, bringing eternal life to all who trust in Jesus.

Class Documents

One Thing I Know

We conclude our Miracles series with the healing of a man born blind. At first, he is unsure of who Jesus is, but this he knows: once he was blind, but now he sees. Jesus would write a story of spiritual blindness healed in our lives today.

Stories are powerful. Well-crafted stories speak to our hearts, drawing us into a greater narrative. They evoke strong feelings in the hearer and inspire action. Stories awaken passions we didn’t know existed.

God is the ultimate storyteller. He has been writing stories for thousands of years in the lives of His people. We’ve heard some miraculous stories these past four weeks: the Resurrection, storms calmed, wine from water, the lame healed and now sight restored. The formerly blind man is called before the Pharisees to tell the story of Jesus’ miraculous healing. Outraged, the Pharisees demand the blind man recant.

He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25

The blind man couldn’t deny the story being written in his life:, that though he was blind, now he saw. His story had only one conclusion: Jesus must be God, for no one else could have healed him.

Today our Confirmands boldly profess that God is writing a story in their lives. Though their stories are different, they are written by one Storyteller. He is weaving their stories together into an even larger one, a story of spiritual healing and renewal in Jesus alone.

What story is God writing in your life? Is it one of healing? Of restoration? Of forgiveness?

Do You Want to Be Healed?

Jesus asks a seemingly silly question to a man who was lame for 38 years. Even something good for us can be scary, taking us out of our comfort zone. Read on for this week’s article from the Announcements page.

Familiarity is good. I like having a regular routine to follow. While I’m not opposed to change, the familiar patterns in my life are comforting to me. I feel more relaxed when things are familiar and unchanging. My life might not be the best, but it could be worse. So rather than risk moving in the wrong direction, I stay in my comfortable, familiar routines and habits.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6

Do you want to be healed? What a strange question to ask a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. I mean, how would you answer that question if you’d had a debilitating disease for 38 years? So why would Jesus ask him?

I suppose the man was comfortable with his life, possibly to the point of being resigned to it. The question is not meant to gather information, but rather provide hope. It drew him out of his “comfort zone,” the life that he was used to living, and focused his attention on Jesus. And Jesus does not leave that hope unfulfilled:

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” John 5:8

Jesus wants to offer hope to you. Real hope. He desires to draw you out of your comfort zone into something better. And He never offers something He is unable or unwilling to provide. Whatever ails you, whether physical illness, ungodly desires or spiritual doubt, Jesus is calling: “Do you want to be healed?”

A Covenant of Grace

We’re entering week 3 of our Miracles series, focusing on Jesus turning water into wine. This miracle is life-giving version of a judgment miracle from the Old Testament. Read of for the details in this week’s announcements article.

Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. Exodus 7:17

This was the first of 10 plagues that God would visit on Egypt through the hands of Moses. They were words (and signs) of judgment upon Pharaoh for his refusal to let God’s people leave. The resulting chain of events would lead to God’s people escaping through the Red Sea and forever be burned into their minds.

1,500 years later, Jesus begins His public ministry in Cana, when His mother observes that the wedding they are attending is out of wine. Jesus turns water into wine, a gift for the newly weds, saving them from the embarrassment of not having enough for their guests.

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:11

This miracle set in motion a new chain of events that would lead to the salvation of God’s people. Unlike the first, this process begins with grace, not judgment. This chain reveals Christ’s glory. It brings life to those who trust in Jesus, regardless of their nationality. This chain brings hope and joy, not condemnation.

The disciples witnessed what happened that day and believed in Jesus as a result. But it wasn’t just for them. It was for you that Jesus started this chain. His goal was to bring salvation to you. It is His gift of grace and hope and joy for you.

Dread and Awe

Easter weekend is finally here. Of all the major church holidays we celebrate, this (extended) weekend is my favorite. From Maundy Thursday’s celebration of the Last Supper to Good Friday’s reflection on the death of Jesus. But Easter is the capstone. It’s the crescendo we’ve been building to since Christmas.

This year, I’m seeing it in a different light. No longer just an awe-filled celebration of victory over death, but also a dread-filled moment where we step back and realize exactly who it is we serve. It’s the healthy fear of the Lord that we hear about throughout the Scriptures. It’s the logic-defying truth that God is even bigger than death, a concept our limited minds can not truly understand.

Read on for this week’s cover article in the announcements.

Recently, we showed a section of the Gospel of John in worship about the resurrection of Lazarus. I experienced the story from a new perspective that day. Oftentimes, I miss the feelings behind stories—the mood. Music and solid acting really conveyed the sense of dread and awe the people must have felt at seeing Lazarus walk out of the tomb. My heart flutters just thinking of being there first-hand to witness it.

Flash forward to “Good” Friday, and Jesus is dying on the cross. After He dies, His friends are mourning and distraught. Because it was Friday, there was not time to prepare the burial spices and ointments, so Jesus was laid in a tomb until after the Sabbath. But what His friends found that first Easter morning was the unexpected.

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Luke 24:5

What dread and awe must the women have felt upon hearing these words? Or Peter, as he ran to the tomb to confirm the news of Jesus’ resurrection himself, upon entering and seeing only the cloths? Or the two men on the road to Emmaus, whose hearts burned within them as Jesus secretly taught them along the way?

Two-thousand years later, do you feel the same dread and awe? Jesus, who was dead, is alive. It defies logic. It is incomprehensible. It’s awesome and fills me with dread at the same time.

Jesus is risen. He is indeed. Alleluia!

Victory in Surrender

I’m not really big on giving things up for Lent. I understand the practice, and can even see value in it, it’s just never really been for me. This week we start, as we start our journey to Easter, we start a new series about giving up. Read on for the front page of this week’s announcements as you prepare for the sermon this weekend.

There are times when wars end in a stalemate, where both sides just decide to stop fighting, but more often they end when one side surrenders. Generally speaking, you don’t want to be on the side that surrenders, because surrendering means defeat. It means the victor gets to impose their will on yours. But in God’s upside-down view of things, surrendering is actually the path to victory.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Romans 7:22-23

There is a war waging inside us. It’s a war between our own sinful nature and the Spirit of God. The Spirit is calling for our complete surrender. No terms. No demands. But total surrender. And in return, the Spirit offers freedom. It is only through surrendering to God that we can win the war raging in our body. Paradoxically, surrender leads to victory.

This week we start a new series about surrendering, about Giving Up those things in our lives that keep us from God. Check inside for a complete list of what we’re called to give up. This Lent, we walk with Jesus towards Golgotha, the hill on which He would surrender His very life to win our freedom. This Lent, we give up more than chocolate, TV or some other bad habit. This Lent, we heed the Spirit’s call to wave the white flag. This Lent, we surrender and experience true freedom in the process.

The Loving Father

We wrap up our Pain Killer series this weekend talking about the Pain of Rejection. As I reflect on this pain, I’m reminded of the pain God experiences when we reject Him, and how he continually takes us back. Read on for the front page of this week’s announcements as you prepare for the sermon this weekend.

Nobody likes to be rejected. Whether it’s applying for a job and not getting it or asking a girl or guy out on a date, only to get the cold shoulder. Rejection hurts. After several rejections, it’s easy to just give up and not try anymore. How many times can I hear the word “no” and still keep going? Eventually, it’s just easier to give up and not risk rejection.

Have you ever considered how God feels about rejection? He calls us to Himself, to trust Him more than anything else, yet we continually reject Him. Jesus lamented this on His way into Jerusalem:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Matthew 23:37

God is continually inviting us into His loving arms and we are continually turning our backs on Him. But He is a loving God. Unlike us, He doesn’t get tired of inviting. He doesn’t give up on us because we continually reject Him. He keeps inviting us, drawing us back to Him. And when we do return, He’s waiting with open arms. In the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15, we see a picture of the Father’s love for us. When the son finally decides to return to the father, we hear of the father’s great love:

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

As you struggle with the pain of rejection, maybe it’s time to return to your loving Father. He’s waiting for you, with open arms, ready to forgive all the times you’ve rejected Him.

Other Writings: Devotions on Jesus

A while back, I wrote an article for thESource, an online publication for youth workers about technology in ministry. There was a recent call out for writers again, so I decided to write a series of devotions about Jesus. The original topic I had been given was about prophecies fulfilled. They gave me a list of 7-10 prophecies to choose from and were looking for four devotions.

The devotions are now published on thESource. For quick reference, they are:

It was an interesting writing experience. Some of the options seemed almost impossible to write about—Called a Nazarene? What spiritual significance could that possibly have in my life?!—while others were fairly straight forward. The most difficult ones ended up being the most fun to write though, as I had to do some serious thinking about them before putting ink to paper… Or fingers to keyboard anyway.

But We Had Hoped

I’m preaching this weekend for Pastor Chuck.  We’ll be looking at Jesus’ appearance to the two people on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13ff.  I’m working on the sermon right now and can’t get this verse out of my mind:

But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. (v. 21a)

I guess I’m struck by the fact that these people could spend so much time with Jesus and still not see Him for who He is.  It’s a reminder to me how important it is that we spend time regularly with Jesus, not just learning about Jesus.  As Pastor said this weekend in the sermon, it’s about following Jesus, not about following  a set of teachings.

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