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Hearing with New Ears

by Stephen Trout

Have you ever considered that, like your eyes and mouth (see Lk. 6:45), your ears have a wireless connection to your heart?

Sound strange? It’s true.

In fact, your “heart” – which scripture describes as the center of your being, comprising your thoughts, will, and emotions (see Mt.9:4, Acts 11:23, Jn. 16:22) – directly influences how well you’ll listen. 

We’ll dive into that and its ministry implications in a moment; first we must acknowledge an obvious fact: we live in a world with a lot of sounds to hear. (Take a moment to notice the sounds around you right now). 

From instant music and video streaming to social media platforms and 24-hour cable news, the options are endless. We even have headphones to feed them directly into our ears, and noise-cancel everything else.

With so much to hear, you might assume we’ve got this listening thing down.

Yet as Jackie Knapp writes:

“It is amazingly hard to really listen to people. It is increasingly harder as we’re more plugged into mobile devices. We must put them down and focus on the human in front of us. The discipline of listening requires patience and learning to ask questions, so that people feel free to be honest without feeling condemned.”

For some, breaking free of their virtual “stream of consciousness” and steady consuming of media to listen closely to another person – with undivided attention – can feel like stopping an addiction. And it may be exactly that. 

Or, perhaps we can find ourselves distracted by what we’d like to say next, our latest hobby, or our plans for the weekend. 

Yet tuning into someone else’s story – carefully, with receptive ears, eyes, and heart – is a necessity for wholistic “data gathering” about another person. 

So how do we become better listeners?   

As with all true movements of love, “heart-listening” is always more than just “going through the motions”, pretending to be attentive while your mind is elsewhere.  

Real heartfelt or heart-engaged listening happens with a heart first connected to (or reenergized by) the Gospel. 

Three points (call them “trees”) can help us:

1. First, identify the idol that is blocking your listening. Picture a thornbush.

A helpful tip here is to look for the “sin underneath the sin.” In other words, not just the action (thorn), but the heart root underneath it. 

Since we know the heart is always worshipping (Rom. 1), we can ask about the object. What “must-have” has captured the heart and is blocking love? 

For example: craving entertainment as a way of escape can have us looking past a person at a television. Instead of saying we were just “distracted by a show,” we can ask why that need was so important. What did we want at that moment? To avoid conflict? Be soothed? These are pseudo-idols, looking for peace in things rather than God himself. 

Other idols can include workaholism (because success trumps people); pride (we’d rather not be challenged); etc.

Seeing the “sin beneath the sin” helps us name the root problem which is producing thorns. 

2. Turn to the 2nd tree – the cross. See Jesus there, giving himself for you.

When we turn to the cross to confess our idols, we see Jesus enduring the silence of not hearing his beloved Father’s voice: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:45)

Why did he choose the silence of God? So that you and I might be eternally heard, forgiven, and loved.

3. See the 3rd tree – a fruit tree producing specific fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control)

As we repent, a fresh application of forgiveness and acceptance (not that it was ever absent, but we receive its promise) brings gratitude.

This is how fruit is produced by the Spirit. (Note how different this is from “Just do it,” which bypasses the diagnosis and cross-transaction brought by the “3 trees.”

A new humility to love – and listen well –  is formed in a changed heart – an indispensable requirement for ministering to another person.

So there it is: your ears are always connected to your heart! 

May God give us the grace to see those connections and repent of our idols, so that we might become better listeners and lovers of others!

*Note: I owe the “3 trees” analogy and diagnostic tool to my former teacher, David Powlison of CCEF, who went home to see his Lord in 2019. He was a gift to both the church and the counseling world, and one for whom I and many others will be eternally grateful. 

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Seeing with New Eyes

by Stephen Trout

It’s an odd (and humbling) thing to wake up and realize that the glasses you’ve relied on to see are suddenly blurry.

Yesterday, they worked just fine; overnight, the darn things seem to have lost their focus.   

It’s an apt comparison to the eyes of our hearts.  

In fact, the need for clear “heart sight” is a central prayer throughout Scripture:

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps. 119:18). 

and,

“… remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…” (Eph. 1:16-18)

Seeing with new “heart eyes” is both a gift and a multi-faceted reality. It includes having:

  • our imaginations engaged and purified (Genesis 6:5)
  • our understanding submitted to His Word (Prov. 3)
  • our thinking transformed (Matt. 15:19)
  • our faith redirected (Romans 10:9)
  • and our loves rightly ordered (1 Peter 1:22). 

And though we might have expected a list of “how-tos,” the “Spirit of wisdom” accomplishes all this by focusing our vision on a Person

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:30, 31)

Note how this leads not to a puffed up or arrogant spirit, but actually produces less boasting in self, and more in him!

Why do we take the time to remember these things?

The main answer to this, of course, is that he alone is worthy of our heart’s worship. He is good, exchanging blindness for sight, and a vision for love where there was none. 

But we might also consider these two, common challenges: storms and headlines.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about storms. As the rains hit and we’re taking on water, our vision for life and ministry can begin to blur. We may even lose hope, feeling that Jesus is asleep in the boat!   

God knows, that is why the prayer is so central: Faith and rest in the finished work of Christ are the daily “spectacles” (faith) we all need to see clearly. Yet the good news is that even when our vision does get blurry, he continues to see us clearly:

“The eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.” Ps. 33:18

In addition, wisdom and renewed vision help us make more sense of the headlines. Like the sons of Issachar, we must learn to “understand the times” (1 Chron. 12:32) – even if the story’s details aren’t clear. 

But perhaps you will respond, “What do you mean, ‘understand the times’? There’s nothing new under the sun!” 

True enough. But sometimes, when this greater clarity comes, we realize that our old ways of interacting maybe weren’t the best after all.

New Ways of Interacting

Consider a case in point: 

One popular view of ministering to people is to first show them their sins, so that they will hopefully see their need for Christ. Essentially, the starting place is Genesis 3 – the Fall of man into sin. 

The classic tool for this is the “Roman’s Road” approach of scripture sharing. You may have even memorized the verses (good for you if so!)

Typically, the first step onto the road is to say something like this: “Do you admit that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”? (Romans 3:23).

But let’s pause for a second: is that always the best first step? Besides the fact that your friend may not even have a clear understanding of “sin,” we might in fact be sending a moralistic message that they are merely “sin on two legs” (as someone put it), and nothing more.

Don’t get me wrong – our indwelling sin is indeed our greatest problem. Our greatest need therefore is to be forgiven, “justified by his grace, through the redemption that comes by Christ Jesus” which brings us into right relationship with God (3:24). (Note how Jesus actually demonstrates this with the paralyzed man, Lk. 5). 

This goes deeper than our concerns about poor self-image, broken relationships, or woundedness. 

Of course, those things certainly matter. But they’re the results of sin’s entrance into the world; the root cause being turning from worshipping God to ourselves and creation (Rom. 1).

(We hasten to add that abuse especially may not be the result of our own sin, but the sins of others against us. This is important to stress, for no one asks for abuse – though they can sometimes feel as if they did. Responding with compassion is critical to help them see a loving God; One who knows what it is to be abused and who intimately and emotionally involves himself with our pain).

But what if our starting point instead was Genesis 1 – where Scripture starts?

Here we see that every person – whether they know God or not – is made in his image, possessing inherent dignity and an honored place in God’s creation.

So what might we see if we aim for dignity first, instead of trying to convince someone of sin (which can come later by confessing our own!)? 

I want to suggest that this can lead to four things, at least:

1. Finding common ground. 

Rather than assuming a defensive posture where we “lob grenades over the wall” at all the ways an unbeliever is wrong, we can realize and affirm our common ground with them. 

For instance, our shared dignity as image-bearers will translate into both of us reflecting God’s heart in some way – maybe a passion for justice, or artistic creativity.

As John Calvin put it: “the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts…” 

They themselves may not acknowledge where these things come from, but we can certainly express our appreciation when we see them. And since everyone longs to be valued, our enjoyment of them will help build relational currency and trust, rather than immediately creating a spirit of opposition.

2. Being quick to listen, slow to speak.

We are called to this as believers, but it’s an area where often fail because we like to hear ourselves talk. We might tell ourselves it’s about righteousness, but usually a pride thing, this needing to be right, and approved.

In contrast, when someone feels heard, they will (again) feel valued, noting that someone took the time to listen carefully, see them more clearly, and not assume things about them.   

3. Asking questions, graciously. 

When we do open our mouths to speak, what if we began by asking some clarifying “get to know you better” questions? 

This too is a gracious way to build relationship, demonstrating the humility of wanting to understand, and that we’re more interested in them than being right, or heard. 

 4. Serving in love. 

This should really be #1, though it is actually a part of each point. 

We don’t listen and ask questions so that we might now set about fixing another person.

What if, instead, our main intent was to empathize; to comfort? 

Maybe we could pray with them – the very act of which demonstrates that we aren’t “the Fixer.” In truth, we’re both needy for grace, and can cry out together to the God who hears and is “close to the broken-hearted” – who alone can rescue and save. 

This shows them too that we’re not the Holy Spirt, who alone can convict. No one wants to know how much you know – until they see how much you care.

Our hope and prayer in mentioning these four things is that we’ll see others more clearly, with a “renewed mind” and heart that will help shape our ministry focus. 

If so, your writing, preaching, teaching, and website content will be more graciously informed, with the stronger, more pleasing aroma of Christ as a result. 

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.

   

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A Kingdom-Centered Website for Questioners, Part 1

If there’s one thing that’s true of all of us – embedded deep in our hearts from creation – it’s that we ask questions. 

We ask because we’re not self-sufficient; we’re dependent creatures. We need to wonder, wrestle, and learn – it’s actually a good thing. 

Relational inquisitiveness propels exploration, and deepens knowing. Gracious questions can be an expression of love, a way of not being preoccupied with self (1 Cor. 13:5).  

Yet sometimes our questions do reveal our unbelief:  

“Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1)

But then God himself comes asking us a question (though he already knows the answer!): “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9)

It’s a way of helping us face ourselves; we’re meant to hear and reflect: “Where am I indeed?” And, “Will I be honest about my hiding, and my guilt and shame?”

Now, since that great fracturing of our relationship with God, we ask even more questions, expressing our deepest fears, hopes, and longings:

“Am I loved? Will I be Accepted?”

“Can I really be forgiven? If so, will I always feel it?”

Is there healing for my shame?”

“What am I looking to (trusting in) to find meaning in my life right now?”

etc. 

Multitudes of self-help gurus offer answers to these questions – yet their answers send us inward, and leave us wanting. After all, a curved-in self is part of the problem.  

But what if we linked our questions to God’s unfolding story?

The gospel – this “divinely orchestrated narrative” of good news (what “gospel” means) actually drives us outward, away from our own schemes, to the true King.

In other words, as Tim Keller notes, the gospel is news, not advice.

And the good news is, his heart is not set on crushing us (2 Pet. 3:9). He asks us to simply admit what we are, and come open-handed.

When we do, we see that this King is unlike all others, for he stoops from his throne to personally come and rescue us. The devastating effects of our cosmic treason – guilt and shame – are answered with unimaginable grace. 

The Kingdom

Yet what makes the gospel especially good news is that it’s not only our past and future hope, it’s our present hope in the face of heart struggles and sufferings as well.

We may have come to trust Christ as our Savior, yet our deepest questions about being loved, accepted, and finding true meaning still persist.

Thankfully, they find their ultimate answers not in ourselves, but in the finished work of Christ – including what he is now doing: interceding for us, and “making all things new” (Isa. 43:19).

Faith may wax and wane, but the cross and resurrection changed everything; now, wherever the King is, there you will find the kingdom.

So how do we understand this kingdom?

Unlike many conceptions, the kingdom of God isn’t an ethereal, pie-in-the-sky, off-in-the clouds reality. Rather, it’s an unfolding story now taking shape; a King ushering in his new society.

As theologian Nicholas Perrin says, it is a “sphere of reality conspiring with a community of human image-bearers in the task of restoring creation to the worship of the one true Creator God.”

The resurrection of Jesus has opened that door. 

NT Wright fleshes this out for us when he writes:

“The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether…They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”

Your Website

When it comes to your website, you may have heard the popular saying “content is king.” If you listen to marketing experts, they’ll tell you that you need to use keywords (that come up in searches), well-written content, and good visuals.

These things are helpful, and shouldn’t be neglected.

Yet, we also do justice to God’s work and his unfolding kingdom when our content helps questioners grapple with the true King and his kingdom. As we’ve noted in past posts, your site should anticipate the things they will ask about, with a posture of warm and loving welcome.

We facilitate this welcome by acknowledging that every person has a story. Because we were made for this King, the questions that arise in our stories can be answered in the most healing of ways: 

“Am I loved?” The gospel answers, Yes, you are loved more than you can imagine, for the king has suffered and shed his blood to rescue you (dying the death you deserve) and welcome you into his family.

“Am I accepted?” The Gospel says you’re accepted – even on your worst day. 

“Am I forgiven?” Yes, through faith in Jesus you are completely forgiven. Jesus has sealed the adoption papers in his blood. He will bring the good work he has begun in you to completion.  

“Is there healing for my shame?” Yes, but like our other questions and because of our sin, this is easy to forget. We need continual reminders that through his cross, he has separated our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west, ” and has taken our shame upon himself.  Though we want to take it back sometimes (we insist on self-salvation projects), he says “it is finished.” 

“What gives me meaning in my life right now?” Because we’re still prone to wander, the question of where we look for meaning is always relevant. Even as believers, our heart’s worship can deviate to “self-made, artificial saviors” – whether relationships, jobs, success, feeling good and always entertained, etc. The Gospel reminds us that Jesus is better than all. 

These kinds of questions must be unpacked carefully and continually – on your site, in sermons, conferences, Sunday School lessons, etc., – and especially in God’s new community, the welcoming fellowship of believers. 

It’s easy when it comes to questions of doctrine to simply proof-text answers without fleshing them out. Your website can offer more; inquirers need to hear down-to-earth stories from those in your church family to help them. 

In our next post, we’ll add to the questions above to help your site anticipate the questions that inquirers are asking.

 

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A Graceful Reconsidering of the Ministry Website

The problem with our assumptions, someone once noted, is that we tend to assume they’re true. (This, despite that old quip about what assuming does to you and me!)

But if, as Einstein posited, most of our assumptions are wrong — why don’t we question them more?

Maybe it’s because we’re caught in a feedback loop of how we think the world should be — surrounded by what’s comfortable for us. Why ask a fish about the water, right?

But what we’re blind to — or maybe don’t want to see — can lead us down some unhelpful paths.

Take your ministry website and messaging, for example. 

As the main doorway for seekers to explore what you do, your site content may unwittingly communicate some misleading messages:

1. “Our website is really about us; become like us too.”

I know saying “our website” is unavoidable, but is it really for you?

If most visitors to your site are those exploring your church or ministry, will they interpret your site as a member or believer would?

Why does that matter?

It matters because if your site assumes a universal understanding of Christianity — using only words that even Christians sometimes find fuzzy, like “atonement,” or even “sin” — you might not be meeting visitors where they actually are.

Why not rather assume that they don’t understand these terms — which, culturally speaking, is much more likely the case — and seek to bring clarity to them?

Please understand — we’re not saying you shouldn’t retain good words or have Statements of Faith or “What we Believe” sections on your site. 

Those are definitely helpful — but mostly for those who are already believers, or transferring from another church.

But when surveys are showing that the average person today can’t name even half of the Ten Commandments — the law which reveals to us what sin really is, and our need for a Savior – why should we expect them to understand redemption?

2. “People will come to faith because we tell them to.”

There are lots of reasons why people doubt. Do you know them? (Take a moment to ponder some of your own). 

Further, did you suddenly believe in Jesus one day because someone gave you a list of truth propositions, and told you to accept them? Or was it rather love — worked out relationally — that wooed your heart to him? (John 13:35)

Instead of focusing on why people should believe — or assuming they will just do it because you said so — why not help them to believe?

We can start by remembering that Jesus didn’t approach everyone the same way — just read the gospels. He knew each person’s heart, and what they needed most.

We can seek to do the same, by getting to know people first. We do this by deeds of love — as we said — serving and asking good questions — not in order to trap them but to honestly learn their story and meet their needs.

You may come to find that they’ve been deeply hurt by distorted or abusive religious experiences, as many have. Wouldn’t this be good to know?

Learning about their struggles can bring a more sympathetic approach and an honest admission (where needed) that Christians often lose sight of grace (see Galatians 1:6–9).

Practical Tip: Including video clips of “Gospel testimonies” on your site is a great way to bring sin and grace “down to earth,” and let visitors know they can be real about their own stories.

3. “We know your concerns.”

Maybe you think everyone is concerned about life after death, or how the world began (evolution or intelligent design?), or even what you think are the most perplexing moral and political issues of our day.

Or maybe you think they should be concerned about those things — so you’re going to make sure they are.

Here’s a news flash: those things may not be anywhere near the forefront of their minds. So are those issues going to be your best points of contact?

You won’t know until you get to know them.

Maybe you’ll find their deeper questions are more like “Can I really be loved?” and “Does God (if he exists) even care, since he seems so remote?” or “What do I do with my shame?”

Those are deeper heart questions that are common to us all — even believers! Wouldn’t it be good for our seekers to know they’re not alone, and that we struggle with them too?

At the very least, they will feel heard — and loved — instead of steamrolled because you assumed you knew what they needed.

So ask yourself: does my website effectively acknowledge an unbeliever’s concerns and questions?

Does it address real struggles, and seek to meet people where they’re at — instead of assuming we know, or making them pass some kind of knowledge test to enter our “club?”

In short, does your website offer them a “hospital for sinners” where the healing balm of Jesus is applied?

These are important questions for ministry in general, but also as we seek to effectively use our sites to connect with real people with real struggles, as ambassadors of grace!

 

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.

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Children are a “Gift from the Lord” – but do We Treat them as Such?

It’s a precious truth, often quoted: “Children are a “gift from the Lord.” (Ps. 127:3) And it’s most certainly true !

Unfortunately, there’s another aspect of truth that we must take to heart: instead of being filled with gratitude for these little image-bearers of God, there are many ways we can mishandle the gift.

Here are some common ones:

1. Make children the center of your life — a child-rearing idol

2. Make work the center of your life — an idol of vocation

3. Make anything but God the center of your life — modeling idolatry to your family

4. Be harsh/abusive with your children in words/actions — akin to hate… the seeds of murder

5. Fail to pray with and for your children — unbelief; modeling self-trust to them

Sadly, the list goes on. We could take a separate article to unpack each of those points alone!

Take heart – there is grace…

As we remember how the Gospel applies to us as children — that God treats us, his beloved and redeemed children and image-bearers with great delight and as his partners in the Gospel — we can repent and learn to love and see our children in new ways.

But this goes further. We also need to ask: might there be a systemic approach to “mishandling this gift” in our churches as well?

For instance: many churches, while rightly emphasizing growing and maturing in discipleship, practically assume a posture of “children should be seen (in the other room) and not heard.”

It’s really the adults, they say— the supposedly mature — that should do the work of ministry. One day children will grow up and participate in ministry too. At least, that’s the message that gets sent.

But think about it: was this the posture of the One who called little children to sit on his lap, and even used them as a kind of model that adults should imitate if they would enter the kingdom of God? (see Matt. 18:2–4)

A Radical Idea

No doubt, this statement of Jesus to “become like children” was radical to his hearers; a Greco-Roman culture would’ve surely interpreted it as absolutely backward  — even insulting.

But what Jesus meant by holding the child up as an ideal, as scholar D. A. Carson says, was not as a model of “… innocence, purity, or faith,” as we often think, “but of humility and unconcern for social status.”

In other words, as author Jared Kennedy puts it,

“Jesus wants his disciples to be childlike because young kids don’t pretend to have it all together. They poop and cry and get into things. Jesus wanted his team of disciples to see they were just as needy, and he wants us to see it as well.”

So there’s our starting place — neediness. It’s a call for us to empty our hands, instead of touting our record or living for another’s approval. You can’t receive a gift if your hands are full.

But what does this look like, practically?

Partners in Ministry

Kennedy suggests that we start by committing to “valuing children enough to build a relationship with them.” For example, learning their name is powerful, and communicates, “You’re part of this community” and “I was expecting you.”

Further, if we would nurture our children with the same grace we ourselves need, bible lessons must not degenerate into mere downloading of bible facts, or moral lessons that usually amount to: “be like David,” and “don’t be like Jonah.” As if David hadn’t committed adultery and murder along the way, and wasn’t in need of a Savior himself.

In other words, lessons should aim toward seeing the “gospel center” of the passage. Ultimately, we want to be asking, “how is Jesus our true hope?”

Blake Hardcastle summarizes this approach well when he writes,

“A church member doesn’t need seminary training or loads of experience with the Bible to practice these methods. Volunteers, with a little effort, can navigate the four questions:

1. Who in this story needs good news?

2. What is God doing for his people in this story?

3. How does God do the same for us-only better-in Jesus?

4. How does believing this good news change the way we live?

Answering these questions guides the teacher to the key truth of the Scripture passage [which is what we all need]. It will make an impact on young learners by constantly presenting Jesus as he’s revealed in the Word.

This approach is key to understanding and teaching the historical narrative genre which makes up a disproportionate amount of children’s curriculum. You can stop searching for the perfect lesson plans; use the ones you already have and apply Kennedy’s grid to convert them to gospel-centered lessons.”

So what about your church? Has your children’s ministry primarily become a babysitting sitting service, waiting for them to grow up? Or do you actually see them as engaged in ministry with you — right now? What does your website communicate about how you view and minister to kids?

These are important questions if we would model the love of Jesus to our kids.

Want to explore how you might embrace this important move from “child care to soul care?” You can find the article containing many of the above ideas here.

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.


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Seven Passages of Hope

“The resurrection is not a stupendous magic trick but an invasion…” – Timothy Keller

In Jesus, God has broken into time and space; the future into the present. As CS Lewis said, “a cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world.” Nothing will ever be the same.

As ambassadors declaring that “invasion” of love, we must always return to the well to be refreshed. Here are seven earth-shattering passages to read and meditate on this Easter, reminding us of our source of true life and hope.

May your love and ministry be fueled anew by the self-giving, death-defeating love of Jesus – the God who took on flesh to make “all things new”:

1. John 20:19–23

On 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.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

2. Ephesians 2:4–7

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

3. Isaiah 53:11–12

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

4. Genesis 22:9–14

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

5. Romans 5:6–11

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For 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. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

6. Romans 8:3

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:14–21

7. 2 Corinthians 5:14–21

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

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