19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
As a quick reminder, Isaiah 43 is in the beginning of what is called the second book of Isaiah. Written long after Isaiah’s death, the general belief is that Isaiah’s followers, a remnant of believers, were responsible for the expansion of clarity on what Isaiah taught and foretold.
These verses begin with the foretelling of a new thing from God, something that has not yet occurred, some unheard of and wonderful event, that will far surpass all that God had formerly done. This new thing will spring up as the grass does from the earth or like buds that come forth, opening leaves and flowers. The verse paints a beautiful picture in describing the manner in which the events of Divine Providence will come to pass.
The verse ends with a description of the care which God would show in protecting His people, and providing for them in guiding them to their native land. It shows God’s love for us.
Items for Discussion
- God is still guiding His people through a wilderness – What is our wilderness today and how does God guide us?
- What new things does God still do in the world today?
- In what ways are you still surprised by God today?
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are not without their controversies. The general consensus is that there was a prior letter to both 1st and 2nd Corinthians but this letter is lost. There are also those who believe that the composite of both 1st and 2nd Corinthians are actually 4 separate letters. What is important to understand is that Paul is primarily responding to problems in the new church in Corinth. What we have are Paul’s answers, what we do not have were the questions that Paul was attempting to answer.
In our study verses, we can see that Christ’s love for Paul directed all that he did. Paul was also sure that Christ’s death was for all of us. Because of this inclusion, we too have all died. As a result, the people who trust Christ, receive eternal life. Christ’s death and our inclusion means we no longer live for us but instead, live for Jesus. He died for us and also rose for us. Although Jesus’s death and resurrection was for all mankind, Jesus did not rescue everyone. His death made it possible for everyone to have his or her sins forgiven. However, it only rescued those from sin who believe in Christ. This means, those who live do not live to please themselves but live to please the one who died for them.
The Apostle Paul is telling us not to make an opinion about somebody’s value in the way that the world does. The world used to think about Christ in that way. We should do not do it that way any more. Paul used to estimate Christ’s value in the same way as everyone else. Jesus said that He came from God. However, people did not believe Him. so they killed Him. After his experience on the road to Damascus, Paul changed his ideas. When a person trusts Christ, he is completely different. The old life is gone and he new life has begun. It is as if God begins to build their new house (see verse 1). God has removed everything on His side that separated Him from His people.
The death of Christ satisfied the demands of God’s justice. Jesus took the punishment for people’s sin. The death of Jesus also took away the anger of God against sin. After people trust Jesus, God no longer keeps a list of their sins. Now Paul’s task was to tell people how they can become friends with God again. He asks them again and again to let God change them. Paul speaks of an exchange. Although Jesus did not sin, he took our sins anyway. Jesus gave us His goodness instead so that we could have a relationship with God again.
Items for Discussion
- The separation from God through man’s sin is a hard concept to understand. Most people who believe in a deity believe in a benevolent creator. What should a Christian expect after they place their faith and trust in Christ?
- Think of a friend that you totally disagree with. Pick religion, politics, any topic. What do these verses tell us about how we should interact and on what levels with that person?
- How would you describe to a close non-Christian friend, what it means to turn your life over to Christ?
- What does it mean to be “friends with God?”
- The verses of salvation are not complex, why do you think so many people struggle with it?
- How does the modern church today teach the “love of Christ?”