Chapter 26 Meanings
“Adam had … envisioned himself crashing into the banquet hall, clutching the Ruler by the arm, and beseeching him to come with him to the orchard. … But now, as they strolled along the path to the cottage, all his anxieties settled behind the solemnity of the moment. Peace fell upon him as he watched the swaying treetops massage the sky in the cool breeze. As urgent as his concern for Abigail was, he sensed the Ruler could be trusted to carry that anxiety while Adam faced the momentous occasion at hand.”
This illustrates Jesus’ promise of peace to those who come to him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The entry to the cottage features a series of plaques detailing how all things came to be and how the half-real world became broken and lost its connection with reality. This is the book of Genesis.
The Ten-Sided Room
Each of the ten walls emitted a different color. This room is the law of God, which is based on the Ten Commandments. God’s law reflects his will, which is an expression of his nature.
On each of the walls hung a mirror. This illustrates the fact that God’s Word exposes the reader’s heart like a mirror (James 1:23).
“Utterly condemned, his lungs still drew air but in the truest sense, he was dead. This room had killed him by showing him that on the inside, in the ways that matter most, he had been dead all his life.”
This illustrates the condemning ministry of God’s law.
“For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful” (Romans 7:11-13).
The Blood Room
The blood room is the place where the Father slaughtered the Ruler as he bore the punishment for his people’s sins.
This illustrates the cross, where it was the Lord’s will to crush Jesus (Isaiah 53:10) as a sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 2:24).
The Promise Room
Multiple padlocks and deadbolts sealed the promise room, and only the Ruler could gain entry. This is to show that our access to God’s promises comes only through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).
The room contained people at rest and people carrying out great projects. It is in trusting God’s promises that we find rest (Isaiah 26:3) and perform mighty deeds (Matthew 17:20).
That the room had no floor illustrates the need to trust the Lord. Only by trusting him can one remain in the realm of God’s promises (Ephesians 1:18-19).
Chapters 27-28 Meanings
The Promise Room (cont’d)
“The Ruler’s smile lit up the entire promise room as Adam walked to him across the floorless expanse without sinking an inch.”
The most fundamental way we can please the Lord is by trusting him (Hebrews 11:6).
Adam faces a test of faith when he is forced to choose between his greatest desire (returning to his family) and being with the Ruler. The story of the treasure in the field (Matthew 13:44) shows him it is joy that drives a person to forsake all he has in exchange for the Lord, because the Lord is worth so much more.
“Use the Mirrors”
Anzu chastises Dagon, the demon assigned to Adam, saying, “You had one job.” All Satanic attacks really boil down to one objective: destroy our faith. Unless Satan can get us to lay down the shield of faith, all the rest of his efforts are useless because faith extinguishes his burning arrows (Ephesians 6:16).
Anzu instructs Dagon to use the mirrors. The law of God is designed to condemn the unbeliever and drive him to Christ. But Satan also tempts us to use the law in a legalistic, self-justifying way (Dagon tempts Adam with thoughts like, “I’ve never killed anyone …”).
Sift You as Wheat
The Ruler warns Adam of an enemy who has the power to sift him as wheat. This phrase comes from the warning Jesus gave Peter in Luke 22:31. Satan is powerful, and if we lay down the shield of faith, he makes short work of us.
Trust in Christ’s Work Alone
The Ruler’s penetrating gaze lays bare Adam’s self-justifying thoughts, illustrating God’s examination of our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7).
“Adam, he who justifies himself will have himself as a defense and no other. But he who comes defenseless—I will plead his case.”
When God is angry with us, the only remedy is God himself pleading our case (Micah 7:9). Self-justification results in condemnation (Luke 18:9-14).
When Adam trusts the Ruler more than he trusts himself, the Ruler is elated and gives Adam the blue fluid, which stands for grace. In this case, saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Then the adjacent room erupts with celebration. This illustrates the rejoicing of God and his angels over each repentant sinner (Luke 15:10).
Adam then looks in the mirror again and discovers he now resembles the Ruler. This illustrates the washing and transformation that takes place at conversion (1 Corinthians 6:11). The new self is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), created to be like God (Ephesians 4:24).
The Ruler then promises Adam that as he walks with the wind, he will grow deeper into this new identity. The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more what we already are (Ephesians 5:8).
The Ruler assures Adam that all his past wrongs are forgiven and the Father’s anger is erased.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12).
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:3-5).
“… You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead— Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
Adam is now the Ruler’s brother.
“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:11).
“His love for you is now just like his love for me, because when you trust me, you are connected to me in the Father’s eyes—grace by association.”
This illustrates the concept of our being in Christ. Our association with Christ is so close that all the Father’s favor on Christ lands also on us. See John 17:23, Ephesians 2:7, and 1 Corinthians 1:30 as a few of many, many passages that speak of us receiving favor from the Father because we are “in Christ.”
Even unbelievers can read the Bible and understand the meaning of the words and sentences. So what aspects of Bible study require divine intervention? See 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Psalm 119:18; 2 Timothy 2:7.
Unbelievers can understand the meaning, but they can’t accept it or welcome it into their hearts. They can’t love it as the reflection of the heart of God or gain insight from it to see the glory of God.
In what sense is the Bible a source of light? See Psalm 36:9; 119:105, 2 Corinthians 4:4–6, Psalm 119:130.
Ps.36 & 2 Cor.4 – Scripture enables us to perceive and experience aspects of God’s nature that are otherwise inaccessible to us. And seeing his glory gives us spiritual life.
Ps.119 – Scripture guides us to be able to navigate life in God’s way.
If the Creator of the world is good, why is there so much evil, suffering, and death? See Genesis 3:1-19.
God did not create the world with evil, suffering, and death. What he created was only good. Evil arose with man’s sin and God’s curse in response to man’s sin.
What role does the Holy Spirit play in the Scriptures? See 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:14.
The Spirit “carried” the writers of Scripture along in such a way that those men were not the originators of Scripture. They wrote what was in their minds—what they wanted to communicate to their readers, but the Holy Spirit saw to it that what they wrote was his Word.
Having inspired Scripture, the Holy Spirit then works in the hearts of believers to enable them to receive and accept the truth of God’s Word.
God’s people have a deep love for God’s law (Psalm 119:47-48). What is the connection between loving God and loving his law? See Psalm 25:14.
They are often interchangeable in Scripture. God’s Word is the expression of his very heart. It’s the communication of his intentions and purposes. What he loves and what he hates. Nothing is more essential to his being than his Word. It is impossible to love God without delighting in his Word.
What role does meditation play in Bible study? See Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2-3; 2 Timothy 2:7.
Meditation is the key to getting from knowing to doing. Just as food provides no benefit until it is digested, so it is with the spiritual food of God’s Word. Mediation is how we make God’s Word part of us.
In what way does the Word of God function like a mirror? See James 1:22–25.
Just as a mirror reveals what is out of order and needs attention in your physical appearance, so the Bible reveals what needs correction in your soul.
God’s law makes our sin appear “utterly sinful” in our eyes (Romans 7:13). Why is this a good thing?
It is only when we see the severity of our sin problem that we will be capable of true repentance. It was only when the law put Paul to death that he was broken enough to rely on Christ alone for righteousness.
What knowledge about God is embedded in the soul of every person? See Romans 1:19-20. If everyone knows this, why does it seem new to people when they first accept it? See Romans 1:18.
God’s eternal power and divine nature are plain to all people, along with the fact that God is the Creator. But it doesn’t seem like common knowledge to many because mankind has suppressed that knowledge.
What do unbelievers know about what their sin deserves? See Romans 1:32.
Deep down, they know they deserve to die for their sin.
Why is it impossible for us to atone for our own sin? See Jeremiah 13:23; Psalm 51:4-7.
Our sinfulness is part of our nature, like spots on a leopard. We have a sin nature from conception.
Also, our sin is against God, so only God can forgive us and cleanse us. If someone owes you a debt, that person cannot forgive the debt. Only you can.
In what way does the law of God put a person to death? See Romans 7:7-13.
The law of God reveals God’s nature, which is the standard for goodness. When an unbeliever tries to conform to that standard, he experiences hopeless failure. The more this happens, the more the person is driven to the point of despairing of being able to be what he should be. Being right with God seems so hopeless, all self-confidence is lost. His spiritual existence was dead all along, but when he reaches this point of despair, he finally realizes his own spiritual deadness. At that point, his only option is to humble himself and seek mercy from God.
The law is essential for showing us our condemned state and teaching us the will of God, but that’s not enough. What was the law powerless to do, and why? Galatians 3:21; Romans 8:3.
The law is powerless to make us righteous because it has no ability to transform our sinful nature (the flesh). Only the grace that comes through faith in Christ can do that.
Sometimes people debate whether it was the Jews or Romans who put Jesus to death. Both were involved (Acts 3:15; 4:27), but who was the primary actor in putting Jesus to death? See Isaiah 53:10; Acts 4:27-28).
God the Father.
Some theologians argue that Jesus’ death was not substitutionary (in our place), but that it was merely an example for us. Did Jesus suffer punishment in our place? See Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24.
Yes. Without question, Jesus was punished for our sin in our place as a substitutionary sacrifice. Were there also other factors—such as Jesus providing an example for us to follow? Yes. But that does not negate the clear statements in Scripture about the substitutionary sacrifice.
Is it possible that hell is a place of temporary punishment where people eventually go out of existence? See Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:10.
No, it is not. The eternality of the punishment in hell is the same as the eternality of the life in heaven.
Sometimes people assume that since God knew beforehand who would be saved, those people were never really on their way to hell. Some even suggest that our sins were forgiven 2000 years ago. What does the Bible say about our condition prior to the time we placed our faith in Christ? At what point was our sin actually forgiven? See Ephesians 2:3-5.
It says we were, by nature, objects of God’s wrath. Prior to our conversion, we were most definitely on our way to hell.
What was our fate apart from Christ’s intervention? See Romans 2:5; Matthew 13:50; 24:51.
The wrath of God, judgment, punishment, and eternal fiery torture.
Who is subject to the threat of hell, and how is one rescued from that threat? Matthew 5:29, 25:31–46, Luke 12:4–5, and John 3:16–18.
People who continue in unrepentant sins, such as failing to treat believers the way Christ deserves to be treated. To avoid hell, one must fear God and trust the Lord Jesus Christ enough to follow him (which requires trusting him more than you trust yourself).
In what sense was Jesus able to recover from the punishment we would not have been able to recover from? See John 10:18; 2:19,21.
Jesus had the power and authority to raise himself from the dead.
Scripture also says God the Father raised him from the dead, which shows the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. If we died for our own sin, we would not have been raised to life.
What is our responsibility to those around us who are subject to the threat of condemnation? See Ezekiel 33:2–6; Proverbs 24:11–12; 2 Corinthians 5:11.
Our responsibility is to warn them, so their blood will not be on our hands. But it is not enough to simply give a disinterested warning, not caring how the person responds. The warning we give should be as persuasive as we can make it.
What access do people have to God’s promises apart from Christ? See 2 Corinthians 1:20, James 1:6-8.
None. God gives many gifts of grace to unbelievers (Matthew 5:45). But he does not promise those gifts to them. He does promise them to us. And the promise makes a huge difference, because we can count on them. If I know for sure I have a benefit coming in the future, I can enjoy it from now until then through anticipation. Unbelievers don’t have that.
And many of the gifts we have access to, unbelievers never receive (such as forgiveness of sins and eternal life). Those gifts are only accessible to those who are in Christ.
Why is it impossible to be saved apart from faith in Christ? See Hebrews 11:6; Titus 1:15.
Unbelievers can do things that are better than other things. But no unbeliever can ever do something so good that it is pure in God’s eyes. Even our best works are tainted with evil. Apart from Christ, there is no sacrifice to cover that evil, so nothing we do can ever please God.
What one virtue enables both rest and ability to accomplish great things? See Isaiah 26:3-4; Mark 11:23.
Make a list of the benefits that come from trusting God’s promises in the following passages: Isaiah 26:3, Psalm 13:5, 28:7, 31:6–7, 32:10, 52:8, 56:4, 84:12, Proverbs 28:25, 29:25, Jeremiah 17:7–8, Romans 4:5, 2 Corinthians 1:24, Galatians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 6:17–7:1, 2 Peter 1:4, Romans 4:20–21, Mark 9:23.
Perfect peace, joy, strength, protection, help, God’s compassion, God’s love, courage, blessing, prosperity, flourishing, justification, steadfastness, participation in the divine nature and escape from the world’s corruption, the ability to glorify God, everything God is willing to give you.
Suppose a person is very religious, sincere, kind to others, generous, honest, hard–working, and does his best to be a good person, but does not trust in Jesus Christ. According to the following passages, what will happen to him on Judgment Day? Romans 10:13–14; John 3:16–18; 8:24.
Chapter 27 Questions
What are the riches we have access to through God’s promises? See 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Participation in the divine nature and escape from the corruption of the world.
Seeing rich people enjoying this world’s pleasures normally triggers feelings of envy. But seeing people in the church enjoy the riches of God’s grace causes joy in fellow believers. Why do you think this is?
The world’s “love” tends toward selfishness, which results in envy. When we love like God loves, our happiness is bound up in the wellbeing of the ones we love. When they flourish, we are happy. But envy is distressed at the prosperity of others.
Consider the logic of Romans 8:32. What are some implications for your daily life?
Whenever I pray for something, I can have the confidence that, if it would be good for me to have, there is zero chance God would withhold it. If he wouldn’t withhold the gift of his own Son, the greatest and most costly gift imaginable, why would he withhold any lesser gift?
I can also have the confidence that God is for me, not against me. If he loves me enough to give his Son for me, he must have deep compassion for me when I’m suffering, profound joy over my triumphs, raging anger when I’m mistreated, and fatherly affection toward me at all times.
Can you think of a time in your life when you thought you were trusting God, but when he led you a direction you didn’t want to go, you hesitated? Consider Matthew 8:19-20. What happens to those who choose to trust their instincts and follow their heart? See Psalm 49:13–14.
For me, it has most often been times when God was leading me to spend more time with people. Doing that means less “productivity” in the areas that feel productive to me. The more time I spend with people, the less time I have for study, sermon preparation, and other elements of my work.
Those who trust their instincts and follow their heart are on the road toward death.
Chapter 28 Questions
One purpose of God’s law is to condemn us, driving us to desperation so we turn to Christ in repentance (Romans 7:13). What is another purpose? See Proverbs 6:23.
Some people err by seeing the first use and assuming that’s the only purpose of God’s law. They teach that it is a mistake for us to attempt to obey God’s law. This is a grave error.
Another purpose of God’s law is enable us to live a righteous life. Theologians refer to this as Calvin’s third use of the law. Calvin pointed out three uses of God’s law:
- To expose our sin to us
- To restrain evil in society
- To guide believers in the way they should live
When is it wise to compare yourself to others, and when is it foolish? See Philippians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 10:12.
Comparing with others is wise when we do it for the sake of following a godly person’s example. There are many things Scripture calls us to do that become much more attainable when we watch someone else do them. For example, humility can be an abstract idea that’s difficult to live out in practical ways. But when you see a humble person, it gives you an idea of what a humble life looks like and it becomes more attainable.
On the other hand, comparisons are foolish when we do it for the sake of self-justification. When we find someone worse that us in order to feel better about ourselves, we are not wise.
Why is it Satan’s strategy to remind us of our past good deeds when we feel condemned by God’s law? See Luke 18:9-14; Philippians 3:3-9.
The condemning action of the law has a good purpose. It’s what drives us to Christ. Without it, we would never come to repentance. If Satan can succeed in reminding us of our “good” deeds enough to satisfy us that we are basically good people, he can prevent us from ever being saved.
When we feel the guilt of our sin, our natural reaction is to want to do some good deeds to make up for what we did wrong. Why is this impossible? See Romans 6:23; Luke 17:10.
The wages of sin is death. Once I do something that deserves death, then that’s what I deserve regardless of what I do after that point. If someone robs a bank, that person deserves to go to jail. If the next day he abstains from robbing any banks and helps an old lady across the street, he still deserves to go to jail for his crime the previous day.
We can’t make up for past wrongs, because to make up for something, we would have to go above and beyond. But God’s standard is righteousness. You can’t go above and beyond that.
If both the Father and the Son love us and have a heart to forgive us, why does the Father refuse to forgive us until the Son pleads our case? Hint: Consider why God would only forgive Job’s friends if Job prayed for them (Job 42:8). See also Jeremiah 15:1.
When God says, “I won’t forgive you unless my servant so-and-so prays for you,” the purpose of that is to show how much God favors “so-and-so.” In Job’s case, God wanted to show how much he favored Job. God won’t forgive us unless Jesus intercedes. That’s not because the Father is reluctant and the Son has to convince him. The Father is just as eager to forgive us as Jesus is. But he will only do it as a favor to his Son to show us how much he favors his Son.
If it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6), what does that imply about when we do trust him? Are there some examples from today when you trusted him?
When a person is dying physically, he is losing strength, health, awareness, joy, energy, and flourishing. Losing life means losing those things. The same is true spiritually. Life from God is spiritual strength, health, awareness, joy, energy, and flourishing.
Sadly, I can’t think of any specific time today when I consciously thought about trusting God. However, many of the things I did today I did because I believe God’s Word is true. The very first thing I did today was spend time in prayer and the Word. I did that because I trust God to bless me with some sample of his presence when I seek him.
Scripture uses the term “life” to describe what believers receive from God’s grace. To interpret the analogy, consider what you know about physical life. Based on that, how would you define spiritual life?
When a person is dying physically, he is losing strength, health, awareness, joy, energy, and flourishing. Losing life means losing those things. The same is true spiritually. Life from God is spiritual strength, health, awareness, joy, energy, and flourishing.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories about someone who celebrated. What is the common element in each of the three stories that causes the rejoicing? See Luke 15:6–7, 9–10, 22–24, 32.
In each case, the person celebrates over the restoration of something that was lost. Jesus is teaching us how happy the Father is over sinners who come to repentance because of how precious they are to him.
In the context of Luke 15, what is the significance of God rejoicing over repentant sinners? Luke 15:1-2, 27-28.
The incident that spurred Jesus to tell all three parables was the Pharisees grumbling about sinners gathering around Jesus. In the third story, the older brother ruins what would otherwise be a wonderful story when he grumbles about his lost brother being restored. His attitude is the opposite of the father’s. The older brother illustrates the Pharisees. They were ruining an otherwise wonderful story by grumbling when a bunch of sinners were coming to Christ. He was showing them how their attitude was the opposite of God’s.
The power we need to live the Christian life comes through grace (Titus 2:11-12). How do we gain access to that grace? See Ephesians 2:8. What would be a practical example of how one might receive greater access to grace by trusting God?
We gain access to grace through faith. A practical example: God promises to provide for my needs if I follow his way. I trust that promise and in response, God gives me the grace needed to eliminate my anxieties about money.
What happens to the filth in a person’s heart when that person trusts in Christ? See Titus 3:4–5; 1 John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 3:18.
His heart is washed clean and made glorious. This happens in a decisive way at conversion, and in greater and greater measure throughout the Christian life.
Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Paul says that is what we “were” (past tense). And yet, we still continue to sin (1 John 1:8). If I still commit sins of greed, why am I no longer among the greedy who will not inherit the kingdom? See 1 John 1:9; 1 Corinthians 6:10-11.
“The greedy” are people who are greedy and unrepentant. Slanderers are people who slander without repentance. Christians routinely commit those sins, but when we do, we repent. And as a result, we are forgiven and God does not identify us with those sins.
Instead of saying “You should change and become what you ought to be” Scripture often says, “You already are what you should be—now live up to it.” Why do you think God takes this approach? And how can it be true that I am what I should be if I’m not currently living up to it? See 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6; Ephesians 5:8; Romans 6:6-7, 12; Ephesians 4:17.
When we speak of George Washington, we call him President Washington even though most of his life he was not President. We speak of him that way because, looking back, we can see that was his destiny and ended up being the most significant thing about him. God can already see our destiny. He can see what he made us to be and the role we will play throughout eternity. In his mind, that’s the real story of who we are. It’s what matters most about us.
Understanding that can help us fight against everything that is contrary to our glorious destiny.
What changes can you expect to see in your life the more you walk with the Holy Spirit? Galatians 5:16–25.
Less occasions of gratifying the flesh, less impurity, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, and the like. More love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In what sense does a person become righteous the moment he believes? See Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3-8; James 2:21-23; Ephesians 2:10.
He becomes right with God in a legal sense, since God credits his faith as if it were righteousness. And that faith results in more and more righteous living.
Scripture speaks of our offenses against God in terms of a debt. How does the analogy of a debt help us understand our sin and God’s forgiveness? See Matthew 18:23-27.
For a debt to be covered, the payment has to come from somewhere. When someone offends us, we can simply overlook the offense. God can’t do that because he is the Judge of all creation. For every wrong ever done, something has to be done about it. Someone has to pay.
How does God reconcile us to him after we have alienated ourselves from him by our sin? See 2 Corinthians 5:19–21; Ephesians 2:13.
He reconciles us by sending a sin offering to be a sacrifice to absorb our punishment in our place. This sacrifice (Christ) is supremely pleasing to God—pleasing enough that God accepts it and is willing to reconcile us to him.
Having provided the sacrifice, God then sends ambassadors with the message about the possibility of reconciliation through faith in Christ.
What are some of the benefits that come with forgiveness? See Psalm 32:1–5, Psalm 51:7–13.
Psalm 32 – He is blessed and relieved from the condition of his bones wasting away through his groaning all day long and having God’s hand heavy on him and his strength sapped. In other words, he had refreshment, strength, and happiness.
Psalm 51 – Joy, gladness, rejoicing, a pure heart and steadfast spirit, the presence of the Holy Spirit and enjoyment of God’s nearness, and the privilege of teaching sinners to turn to God.
Jesus is our Lord, Master, Creator, Savior, and God. But he is also called our brother. In what sense is Jesus our sibling? And why is this important? See Hebrews 2:11; Romans 8:29; Mark 3:34.
Christ is our brother in the sense that we have the same father-child relationship with God that he has. We are born again with the same spiritual DNA as Christ (2 Peter 1:4). This similarity shows itself in the fact that, like Jesus, we do the will of God.
How can God love us just as he loves Jesus when Jesus is perfect and we are sinful? See John 17:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; For further study see Romans 5:12–21; 1 Corinthians 15:45–50.
He loves us as he loves Jesus because we are in Christ. God has placed us in Christ in the sense that God’s attitude toward Jesus extends to us.
What effect does it have on God emotionally when we trust him? See Hebrews 11:6.
What is at stake when we engage in spiritual warfare? See 2 Timothy 2:26; 1 Peter 5:8.
If we lose, we will be taken captive by the evilest being in existence to do his will. Ultimately, we will be utterly destroyed by him.