Advanced Bible Study
"Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day" (Genesis 1:26-28,31).
Man, as God created him, was the crown and glory of creation. As it is written, "...You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet" (Psalm 8:5-6). Yet, the prophet cried out, "...we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). The difference between man "crowned with glory and honor" and man "as filthy rags" is sin. "Behold, the Lords hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2). It is because of sin that man has become "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17).
Part of the glory of the Gospel is that is has the power to make man what God intended him to be when he was created. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Mans problem is in his heart. The wise king, Solomon, wrote, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus taught: "...those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man " (Matthew 15:18-20). This is why the apostle Paul wrote that we are "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
On the day of Pentecost, when those who had crucified Christ realized their wickedness, they said, "...Men and brethren, what shall we do?Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized " (Acts 2:37-38). Repentance occurs when a man determines in his heart to turn from his former ways to serve God. Since baptism is a command (Acts 10:48), true repentance will be followed by baptism. When in faith man obeys God in baptism, his former sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), and up from the watery grave of baptism man is raised to "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).
The apostle Paul describes the Christian life with these words: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
"Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
"But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:1-15).
The Christian life is a life of growth. Paul said, " the inward man is being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16), and that we are changed "from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18). After many years of faithful service to God, he said: "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
The apostle Peter taught us to grow, saying: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:2-11).
There are things which we must do in order to grow. We must study the Bible. Peter said: "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). We must pray for such things as help, strength, boldness, deliverance, and wisdom. Paul admonishes, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).
We are to come together on the first day of the week to be encouraged and to encourage others as we worship. The Bible says, "...let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
And we are to put into practice the things which we learn, "that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
The Christian life was summed up in the words of Paul, as he said, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
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