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A. Introduction: We have been talking about the importance of getting your picture of reality from the Bible.
1. There are two kinds of knowledge available to us -- sense knowledge and revelation knowledge.
a. Sense knowledge is the information which comes to us through our five physical senses.
b. Revelation knowledge is the information which God has given to us (revealed to us) in the Bible.
2. Sense knowledge is limited. It cannot tell us anything beyond what we see, hear, taste, smell, or feel.
a. But, there is a realm beyond what we can see, hear, taste, smell, or feel -- the invisible realm.
II Cor 4:18
b. If God did not choose to tells us about the unseen realm, we could not know anything about it.
3. Why does it matter? Why is it necessary that we know about this unseen realm?
a. God is a Spirit and He is invisible. The only way we can get accurate knowledge about Him is through what He reveals about Himself in the Bible. John 4:24; I Tim 1:17
b. We are spirits (invisible) who live in a body (visible). The only way we can know our true condition is through what God shows us about ourselves in the Bible. II Cor 5:6-8
c. We have a destiny that goes beyond this life. We were created to be sons and daughters of God conformed to the image of Jesus, with, not only the privilege of fellowshipping with our Father, but also of demonstrating His glory in this life and the life to come. None of that information comes from sense knowledge.
4. In this lesson, we want to continue to emphasize the value and reality of unseen information and the importance of learning to live by that information.
B. We have been emphasizing the importance of unseen information and its potential impact on our lives by looking at the Cross of Christ.
1. The central event of Christianity is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
a. The people who saw Jesus crucified and resurrected had sense knowledge information about the event -- what they could see, hear, feel, etc.
b. Although that information was accurate, it was limited. Standing at the foot of the Cross, the disciples could not tell why it happened, what it accomplished, or what value it had to anyone.
2. As Jesus hung on the Cross, all kinds of things were going on in the unseen realm.
a. Isa 53:4-6,10--God the Father laid our sins and sicknesses on Jesus, on His Spirit (the unseen part of Him).
b. Isa 53:10,11--His soul (the unseen part of Him) was made an offering for sin.
c. II Cor 5:21--Jesus (the unseen part of Him) was made sin. He took our sin nature on Himself.
d. Rom 6:6; Gal 2:20--He not only went to the Cross for us, He went as us. When Jesus died, we died. We were united with Him on the Cross, but, no one could see it with their eyes.
e. Acts 2:24-32; Isa 53:11--When His body died and He left it, Jesus went to hell to suffer for us as us. We went there with Him.
f. Eph 2:5,6--When He was raised from the dead and restored to life and relationship with the Father, we were, too.
3. None of these things could be seen with the physical eyes as the disciples witnessed the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Yet they are real.
4. God wants us to know these unseen realities. In His first meeting with His disciples on Resurrection Day, Jesus began to explain to them what went on behind the scenes at His crucifixion.
a. Luke 24:44-48--Jesus explained the OT scriptures concerning His crucifixion and gave the disciples the “why” behind it.
b. Isa 53:4-12--He explained that He died as a sin sacrifice and that He satisfied the claims of justice against every man.
5. Jesus spent forty more days with the disciples teaching them, before He went back to heaven.
a. But, Jesus' return to heaven did not end the process of Him giving unseen information about His death, burial, and resurrection.
b. Jesus had many more things to say. And, He choose to reveal them primarily to the Apostle Paul.
6. When Jesus appeared to Paul and he was saved, Jesus told Paul He would appear to Him again and give Him more information about what He was to preach. Acts 9:15,16; 26:15-18
a. That is exactly what happened. Jesus later directly taught Paul unseen facts about what His death, burial, and resurrection accomplished. Gal 1:11-23
b. Jesus revealed to Paul things He had not yet told anyone -- including His twelve disciples.
c. Paul was given the privilege of revealing certain mysteries of God. I Cor 4:1
d. In the NT, a mystery refers to plans and works of God which up to that time had not been revealed. Some examples of the mysteries God revealed to Paul:
1. I Cor 15:50-53--A generation of believers would not see physical death.
2. Eph 3:1-11--The Church, made up of Jews and Gentiles, was to be the Body of Christ.
3. Eph 5:28-32--The Church was to be the Bride of Christ.
7. Through Paul, God revealed unseen plans and purposes He accomplished at the Cross. Paul was given the privilege of revealing critical aspects of the plan and purpose of God concerning His people.
8. Not only did Paul preach these mysteries, he wrote them down. Eph 3:1-6; 2:11-22
a. Paul's epistles (letters) were written to Christians to unveil the unseen facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus so Christians could know them and walk in the light of them.
b. Everything in the Bible was written by someone to someone about something. The epistles were written to Christians. We should concentrate our Bible reading primarily on the parts written to us, especially Paul's epistles.
9. What did Jesus reveal to Paul when He appeared to him?
a. Jesus told Paul many things -- more than we can deal with in one lesson. But, there are several specific things we want to deal with in the rest of this lesson.
b. Through a careful study of Paul's epistles, we find three basic categories of information which Jesus revealed to Paul about God's plan. Jesus told Paul that:
1. God formed a plan for us before He created the earth -- a plan which would be accomplish through the Cross of Christ.
2. Through the Cross of Christ, God would legally remove our sins making it as though we never sinned.
3. The Cross would make it possible for us to be vitally united to Jesus, and through that union, God would fulfill His plan for us.
C. Let's talk about God's plan He formed in eternity past and how it was accomplished through the Cross.
1. The unseen is real. Before the world (the seen creation) existed, there was God -- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
a. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have enjoyed an intimate, loving relationship since forever.
b. John 1:1--With = PROS = has the idea of intimate, unbroken, face-to-face fellowship.
2. Wanting nothing, needing nothing, God chose to make man and invite us into that fellowship -- the relationship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have enjoyed since eternity past.
a. We have been invited into an eternal realm to fellowship with an Infinite Being who has chosen us for relationship with Himself. I Cor 13:12 (face-to-face = PROS); John 17:20-26
b. God's plan since before He formed the earth was to have a family of sons and daughters with whom mutual relationship and fellowship was possible.
c. I Cor 1:9--By Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Amp)
3. God made man as much like Himself as a creature can be like His Creator (in His image) so that relationship was, is, possible. Gen 1:26
a. God gave man a free will so that man could choose relationship with Him.
b. The first man, Adam, chose independence from God. As the head of the human race, his choice affected the entire race.
c. Through his act of disobedience, Adam united the entire race to sin and death. Rom 5:12-19
4. God knew this would happen, but created man anyway, because He had a plan in mind to redeem man out of sin and death and obtain His family through the Cross of Christ.
a. The Second Person of the Trinity would leave heaven, take on flesh and die as the sin sacrifice for the human race.
b. As the representative of the race, He would go to the Cross for us as us. He would join us in death, in our fallen condition.
c. Because Jesus was fully God as well as fully man, He had no sin of His own to pay for, and the value of His person was such that He could satisfy the claims of justice against man.
d. When the price for our sins was fully paid, He rose from the dead and brought us to life with Him.
He joined us in our sin and death so that He could raise us up to life and righteousness.
I Cor 15:45-47
5. Until Jesus told this to Paul, God's plan was not fully revealed. There were hints of it in the OT (such as Isa 53), but that's all. I Cor 2:7,8
a. God knew Satan would inspire wicked men to crucify the Lord in an attempt to stop His ministry.
Luke 22:3; Acts 2:23
b. God used that very act, and put the sins of the world on Jesus.
1. He united us with Jesus on the Cross -- punished us, executed us, and buried us through, with, our substitute.
2. Then, God raised us up together with Jesus to new life. He beat the devil at is own game.
c. I Cor 2:7--But rather what we are setting forth is a wisdom of God once hidden [from the human understanding] and now revealed to us by God; [that wisdom] which God devised and decreed before the ages for our glorification [that is, to lift us into the glory of His presence]. (Amp)
6. Through the Cross of Christ, God legally obtained salvation for the human race.
a. When a person accepts the facts of the gospel and takes Jesus as His Lord and Savior, what happened at the Cross goes into effect for that person. His sins are removed, remitted.
b. God can then legally make that person His child by putting His life in them. Gal 4:4-7 (adoption = privileges)
7. When a person believes the facts of the gospel, a union takes place between us and Christ. We (the unseen part of us) are united to Jesus Christ.
a. There are hints of this in the Gospel of John. John 3:3,5; 15:5
b. But, it is through Paul that God clearly revealed what happens to us at the new birth.
1. We are united to Jesus as a Body to its Head. Eph 1:22,23
2. We are united to Jesus as a wife is joined to a husband. Eph 5:31,32
c. Col 1:27--For it is God's good pleasure to make known to his People the wealth of glory contained in these truths when exhibited among the heathen. For this revelation means nothing less than -- Christ in union with you, your hope of glory. (20th Cent)
8. Through union with Christ we become new creatures united to the life in God.
a. II Cor 5:17--So if any one is in union with Christ, he is a new being. His old life has passed away, and a new life has begun. (20th Cent)
b. Eph 2:10--The truth is that we are the handiwork of God. By our union with Christ Jesus we were created for the purpose of doing the good actions which God had in readiness, so that we should devote our lives to them. (20th Cent)
c. I Cor 1:30--But you, by your union with Christ Jesus are God's offspring; and Christ, by God's will, became not only our Wisdom, but also our Righteousness, our Holiness, our Deliverance, so that -- in the words of scripture -- Let those who boast, boast about the Lord.
9. To Paul, through Paul, Jesus revealed the fact that the unseen events of His death, burial, and resurrection made this union and shared life possible.
a. Through that union, we have become literal, actual, holy, blameless sons and daughters of God.
b. We are literally in the kingdom of God, and, we literally have all the blessings that heaven itself enjoys. Eph 1:3; Col 1:12,13
c. Eph 1:7--For by union with Christ, and through his sacrifice of himself, we have found redemption in the pardon of our offences. (20th Cent)
d. There are approximately 130 scriptures (mostly in Paul's epistles) which tell us things that are true about us now that we are born again.
D. Why talk about all of this? What does this have to do with real life?
1. This is the information Jesus gave Paul about His death, burial, and resurrection. It must be important. This is what Jesus commissioned Paul to preach. Col 1:27
2. Eph 1:16-20--Look what God inspired Paul to pray for Christians. Look what God wants us to know.
3. II Cor 5:16,17--The Lord told Paul (who told us) that we are not supposed to know ourselves according to the flesh anymore, but according to the unseen changes in us.
4. This is Paul's approach to Christian behavior. First, he tells them what they are through their union with Christ. Then, he tells them to act like what they are. Col 3:9-14
5. We are told to live by unseen realities and focus our attention on them. So, we must take the time to study them. II Cor 5:7; 4:18
6. These unseen realities are true, are real -- despite what we see or feel.
a. We are now part of an unseen kingdom which created all that we see, will outlast all we that we see, and can change what we see.
b. We are what God says we are. We have what God says we have. We can do what God says we can do whether we see it or feel it or not.
7. If we will take the time to meditate on these unseen realities, sooner or later, they will dawn on us and revolutionize the way we live. John 8:31,32