An Extra Reading for You

Because of our missions week, we will be dealing with Week 3 of our Hebrews on May 26th.

This is a supplemental reading that we think will be of great benefit to you!

Please join us this week in a very informative reading plan on the cross and crown of our savior.

7 Days

Much of the New Testament was written so that we might know Jesus Christ, the salvation He secured through His death on the cross, and the promise of His resurrection. Join Dr. Charles Stanley as he reflects on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the gift of eternal life secured on your behalf, and the depth of the Father’s great love

Day 1

The Precious Blood of Jesus

Leviticus 17:11 (ESV)

11For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

John 1:29 (ESV)

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

1 Peter 1:18–20 (ESV)

18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

Thoughts on the Word

When was the last time you heard a sermon or sang a song about the blood of Jesus? Some churches today find the concept antiquated or even gruesome. Songs that mention “the blood” have even been removed from hymnbooks. Yet without it, there’s no hope of a relationship with God, no assurance of salvation, and no confidence that our prayers are heard.

Scripture never shies away from the mention of blood. In fact, it runs like a red thread from Genesis to Revelation. If you eliminate the references to blood from the Bible, all that remains is a book of history and literature. Anything God considers this important should never be disregarded. 

Leviticus 17:11 tells us that God gave blood to make atonement because the “life of the flesh” is in it. The word “atonement,” as it is used in the Old Testament, means “covering.” Through the sacrificial system of worship established by the Lord, the sins of mankind were covered by the blood of innocent animals.

The seriousness of sin is revealed by the monumental cost of atonement—the penalty is death; and it must be paid by either the guilty one or an acceptable substitute. To cover transgressions, the animals offered had to be unblemished and perfect. Every sacrifice on the altar was a fulfillment of the death penalty required by God’s law.

The sacrificial system taught people that the Lord is holy, transgressions must be punished, and atonement for sin takes place only through the shedding of blood. This arrangement was a foreshadowing of what was to come. Because animal sacrifices can only cover sin, an “ultimate lamb” was needed to remove all of man’s iniquity.

One day as John the Baptist stood by the Jordan River, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” walked onto the scene of human history (John 1:29). The perfect sacrifice for sins had arrived. He was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” and came to earth to fulfill the Lord’s awesome plan of redemption by shedding His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-20).

Jesus wasn’t just a man; He was the Son of God clothed in human flesh. His birth was supernatural because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin. Since no sin was transferred to Him through an earthly father, Jesus was the perfect, spotless Lamb of God—His was the only flawless life and, therefore, the only suitable sacrifice for the guilt of all mankind.

Day 2

Redemption & Forgiveness

Romans 3:23 (ESV)

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Ezekiel 18:20 (ESV)

20The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

Thoughts on the Word

Apart from the blood of Christ, no one can have a relationship with the heavenly Father. Because God is holy, our sin blocks any chance of connection with Him. But in love, He planned and initiated a course of reconciliation with fallen humanity. The blood of Jesus provides all that we need to draw near to the Father.

To “redeem” means “to buy something back.” Jesus Christ came to the cross for the primary purpose of purchasing us from a life of slavery to sin. Maybe you think you’re a pretty good person and don’t feel enslaved to sin. But no matter how moral a person may seem, every human being has a sin nature (Rom. 3:23).

To set us free, a price had to be paid. But to whom? Jesus didn’t pay off the devil; He paid the price that God required in order to satisfy His holy justice. According to Ezekiel 18:20, “The person who sins will die.” The cost of our redemption was the blood of the perfect Son of God—and He made this sacrifice in our place. Because the Father accepted Christ’s payment, we’ve been set free from bondage to sin and have received the power of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live in the freedom of obedience to the Father.

Now when it comes to forgiveness of our sins, most people have the idea that the Lord will forgive them simply because they ask Him. What they may not understand is that the basis for His pardon is not their request, but Christ’s payment for their debt. The Lord cannot forgive wrong just because someone asks. His holiness will not allow Him to overlook sin; it must be punished. His justice will not allow Him to forgive trespasses without a payment.

Only with the substitutionary death of the perfect Son of God does the Father have a legitimate basis by which He can forgive whoever comes to Him in faith and repentance (Eph. 1:7). There is nothing we can do to earn His forgiveness. Our pardon is granted only when Christ’s blood is applied to our lives.

Day 3

Justification & Reconciliation

Romans 5:8–10 (ESV)

8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 3:23–26 (ESV)

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

1 Corinthians 6:20 (ESV)

20for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Colossians 1:19–22 (ESV)

19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,

Thoughts on the Word

The Word of God alerts us that the wrath of God will rightly fall on sinful mankind (Rom. 5:8-10), but those who are justified by the blood of Christ will be saved from that dreadful punishment. Justification means that the Father accepts the death of His Son as full payment for our sin (Rom. 3:23-26). Jesus is a satisfactory substitute because He is the sinless Lamb of God.

Furthermore, we are declared righteous in the Lord’s eyes. Think of justification as a legal transaction in which Jesus placed all of our iniquities on His account and then paid it in full. Next, He took the record of His perfect life and transferred it to our account. Now when God looks at us, all He sees is Christ’s perfection. We are no longer guilty but are declared legally righteous, even if we don’t always act like it.

What an awesome privilege to be righteous in the Lord’s eyes! Now, that doesn’t mean believers can go out and do anything they want. Remember, “You have been bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:20). We are children of God, but if we start acting like children of the devil, our loving heavenly Father will be faithful to use discipline and bring us back to our senses. The gift of righteousness should motivate us to live a life that reflects our blameless standing before God.

When a relationship characterized by separation and alienation becomes one of acceptance and restoration, that change is known as “reconciliation.” The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord, the relationship between God and mankind was broken, but the Father took the initiative to bring restoration by sending His Son into the world. Through the blood of His cross, Christ made reconciliation possible by establishing peace between God and man. Beyond that, He presents us blameless before the Father (Col. 1:19-22). All the barriers have been removed, and an intimate relationship with the Lord is available to every believer.

Day 4

Sanctification & Access to God

Hebrews 13:12 (ESV)

12So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

Hebrews 10:19–22 (ESV)

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Thoughts on the Word

At the moment of salvation, Jesus sanctified you with His blood by applying it to your life (Heb. 13:12). This means you were set apart as God’s child to live for Him from that time onward. The best way for me to describe sanctification is to compare it to a period that comes at the end of an event. You were saved, redeemed, justified, reconciled, and sanctified, period. But this period does not end. It turns into a line that continues throughout your life.

Sanctification is the process by which the Lord is continually transforming His children into the image of Jesus Christ. The entire Christian life is in that line; it just keeps lengthening as we grow in godliness, obedience, and understanding. Salvation is not the endpoint but the beginning of God’s purposes for believers. His goal is to renew every area of our lives so that we can become His valuable servants and ambassadors of Christ to a lost world.

This process will continue throughout life because the Holy Spirit resides within every believer, guiding and empowering each one to move forward. He'll never leave us—there’s always another step to take in our progress toward Christlikeness and fruitful service for the Lord.

Key to that progress is being able to confidently enter the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19-22). In the Old Testament, the Holy of Holies was the inner room of the tabernacle or temple where God dwelt above the ark of the covenant. The high priest was the only one who could enter this most holy place, and he could do so only once a year to make atonement for himself and the nation. After carefully preparing himself with sacred rituals, he would enter with animal blood to sprinkle on the mercy seat.

Today, the only reason Christians can approach God is because, spiritually speaking, they're covered in the blood of Jesus. When Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, the veil of the temple—which separated God from the people—was torn in two from top to bottom. This supernatural event signified the Father’s acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice, which opened the way to His presence.

Because we’ve never participated in the Old Testament sacrificial system, we usually take for granted our access to the Lord. There’s now no need to sacrifice a lamb when we want to approach God. Each time we enter the Father’s throne room in prayer, it’s as if Jesus looks to us and says, “Here’s one of Ours … the blood has been applied.”

Day 5

The Resurrection—Why It Matters

1 Corinthians 15:14–19 (ESV)

14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)

23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 27:62–66 (ESV)

62The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

John 20:19 (ESV)

19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Matthew 16:21 (ESV)

21From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

John 10:30 (ESV)

30I and the Father are one.”

John 14:6 (ESV)

6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 7:18 (ESV)

18The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

Thoughts on the Word

What if Jesus Christ hadn’t risen from the dead? Where would that leave us? What assurance would we have about anything in life? Our confidence, thoughts about death, and our hopes for existence after this life would all be affected.

God knew Jesus’ resurrection would raise many questions in our minds; that’s why He led Paul to provide us with some answers. In 1 Corinthians 15:14, the apostle addresses the main issue: What if the resurrection didn’t really happen? He writes, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.”

This means if the resurrection hadn’t occurred, our faith would be empty and without foundation; we'd be false witnesses, spreading lies; all our efforts for the faith would be worthless; and reading Scripture and sharing the good news would be a total waste of time (1 Cor. 15:17). All Christ-followers who’d died believing they were destined for eternal life would've simply perished, their hope of heaven nothing more than a delusion (1 Cor. 15:18). Worst of all, we'd still be living in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17), still under guilt, and owing our lives as the penalty our transgressions deserved (Rom. 6:23). Paul sums it up this way: “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).

Thankfully, our hope extends beyond this life because Jesus truly has risen from the dead. God, in His wisdom, left us undeniable evidence. For starters, the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers, who faced imminent death if they failed to carry out orders. Though this precaution was to prevent Christ’s followers from stealing the body and falsely claiming He’d risen (Matt. 27:62-66), the tomb nevertheless ended up empty. Another indication is that of changed lives—something significant has to have taken place for Christ’s fearful disciples to become bold proclaimers of the gospel despite violent threats (John 20:19).

Most importantly, Jesus Himself promised He'd rise from the dead (Matt. 16:21). He claimed to be one with the Father (John 10:30), so either He was and is the Son of the living God, or else He was a liar. The record shows, however, He never told an untruth (John 14:6). Everything He promised or predicted came about, just as He said it would, except for those prophecies that are still to come (such as His second coming). These, too, will one day occur exactly as He’s foretold, for there’s nothing false about the sinless Son of God (John 7:18).

Day 6

Because He Lives

Matthew 16:16–17 (ESV)

16Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

John 14:9 (ESV)

9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)

25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 10:12 (ESV)

12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

John 14:2 (ESV)

2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

John 14:16 (ESV)

16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

John 14:18 (ESV)

18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Thoughts on the Word

The fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead gives us the absolute, unquestionable foundation for everything else we believe. First of all, we have the confidence of knowing our God is alive. Jesus was not simply some itinerant preacher or teacher; He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16: 16-17). The Lord told His disciples that to see Him was to see the Father (John 14:9); and in fact, that was one of the reasons He came—to reveal the heavenly Father so we could understand what He’s like.

All other belief systems have their so-called gods, but we know where their leaders are buried, which calls into question their “divinity.” Christ rose from the dead to validate and settle once and for all that our God is the only true God, the Creator of all things. He who made each of us can’t be fashioned by us. The One we worship is alive—not dead, inanimate, or an idea dreamed up in the mind of man. Think about it: Unless you believe that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, then you either worship something else or nothing at all, a situation Isaiah considers foolish and Paul calls pitiable. Why? Simply because people without the living Christ have no assurance of anything.

You might be wondering, Well, if Christ is alive, then where is He? What’s He doing? Scripture reveals very clearly that Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand, interceding on our behalf (Heb. 7:25; 10:12). He’s a living God who cares, loves, hears, and answers our prayers. He’s our forgiving Lord, continually advocating on our behalf. What’s more, the Lord Jesus is God the Son, who is preparing a place for each of us who believes in Him (John 14:2). He’s also the risen Savior who promised His disciples that, though He was going away, He wouldn't leave them as orphans—Jesus assured them He would send the Holy Spirit to teach and guide each of His followers until He returned (John 14:16, 18).

So today, every single believer is in-dwelt by the living Spirit of God, beginning the moment he or she receives Christ as Savior. As Christians, we’re sealed forever unto the day of redemption when we’re called home to heaven. Our God is alive and active in and through the lives of His children, and He’s ready to save any who are willing to confess sin and receive the gift of forgiveness He so freely gives.

Day 7

Conquering the Unconquerable

John 10:18–30 (ESV)

18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 19There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” 22At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

John 3:16 (ESV)

16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Thoughts on the Word

Jesus told His disciples that He would rise from the dead. By actually doing so—by conquering the unconquerable—He not only proved the truth of that one statement but also validated everything else He ever said. The resurrection earned and deserves our trust for all that Christ ever claimed, promised, warned, and predicted.

Because Jesus is alive, we have the awesome certainty that our God is actively involved in our lives. In fact, we see evidence of His living through us. We pray and God answers; we watch Him work in people’s hearts and change lives; we ask Him to cleanse us from our sins, and we walk away forgiven—the guilt is gone, and we experience a profound sense of restored fellowship with our Father. Why? Because He is real. And when something is true, you don’t have to worry about defending it. You simply live it out, trusting God, and He will take care of the results.

Because Jesus died in our place and rose again, we are God’s forgiven children—and what He has done for us can never be undone. John 10:28-30 promises, “I give eternal life to [my sheep], and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Do you hear the permanence and guarantee of that promise? No one—not even you yourself—can snatch you from the Father’s hands once you are His.

John 3:16 also promises, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”—period. God didn’t say “except” or “if.” He said “eternal life.” That means forever, irrevocable, 100 percent sure. And He offers it to whomever will believe. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can journey forward with the assurance that if we trust Him as Savior, we will live and reign with Him forever.

May our risen Savior remind you today and every day of the certainties of the cross and His resurrection, and may He encourage your heart deeply, abundantly, and with never-ending joy.

A Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son and for the eternal life He purchased on my behalf at Calvary. If ever I doubt Your love for me, help me remember that You spared nothing—not even Jesus—to make a way for me to be with You forever. Help me live in the light of the gospel, dead to sin and raised to a new life with Christ. And with that new life, use me as Your ambassador to share the good news of salvation with others. Amen.