Providing you with life-giving, hope-instilling, captive-freeing Bible study plans and other content is our objective at Setting Captives Free publishing. We want you to enjoy so much hope and freedom that you say with King David “My cup overflows!” (Psalm 23:5).
All of our Bible study plans, books, courses, lessons, group studies, blogs and videos follow a similar format: teaching, illustration, application. Every subject is focused like a laser on the message of power, the message of love, the message of freedom: the cross of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection from the dead, and how to apply that powerful message in your own life.
What is included in our Bible study plans?
Our Bible study plans offer teaching designed to reach your heart, to penetrate to the core of who you are, to get down deep, and do the work only God’s Word can do.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
True biblical teaching should do more than merely give us information, a set of facts, Bible study plans, or some food for thought. God’s Word is described as a double-edged sword that both cuts and heals. It cuts through all the lies and faulty logic of the world, the devil and our flesh to get to our hearts. It should reach to the deepest places, penetrate beneath the surface, and reach the place where our loves and passions are. It touches and changes “the attitudes of the heart.” And once it reaches our hearts, it heals us and transforms us.
The message that penetrates and cuts like a sword, and heals like medicine is the message of the cross. Indeed, if you look at a cross, it looks like a sword plunged into the heart of the earth. Keep that image in your mind as you study any Bible study plans with us. It is this deep cutting work, this penetrating Word of the cross that also heals our hearts and makes us whole.
How does the message of the cross in these Bible study plans heal our hearts and change our lives? This is the question that we all ask. A picture is worth a thousand words, so God gave us an amazing supply of these word pictures (illustrations) in His Word. Let’s look at one:
“They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Numbers 21:4-5 (NIV)
In the book of Numbers, we can read the account of the Israelites who were in slavery in Egypt until God rescued and delivered them, made them His own people, and led them to the Promised Land where they would enjoy rest and peace. But along the way, the Israelites suffered periods of unhappiness and discontent when they would whine and murmur against God and Moses as noted in Numbers 21:4-5.
It is important to learn the secret of being content. Paul wrote, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
The Israelites had not learned this secret yet. Their complaining required discipline, much as a discontent child needs correction when whining and acting rebelliously.
“Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.” Numbers 21:6-7 (NIV)
This might seem a harsh punishment at first glance, but it is essential to see things from God’s perspective. What we consider small things, such as complaining and speaking out against God, God considers a sin deserving of death. It is human nature to minimize our wrongs, but God says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
And these serpents that God sent were deadly. The people bitten by snakes had venom running through their system, putting them in agony and leading to the death of many.
Note: when we end up in horrible circumstances due to our wrong actions or the wrong actions of others, crying out to God is our only hope. “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:12-13).
Here is what happened when the Israelites called on the name of the Lord:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV)
Now tell me, isn’t this an odd solution? To put a snake up on a pole and tell the people who were bitten and dying to look at it? And they would then live?
Many times, God’s solutions do not seem to make sense to our natural way of thinking. There may have been some who thought a snake on a pole was a foolish method of healing the sick and dying. Others turned and looked and were healed! “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
So, what does this story-picture have to do with our healing and freedom? Well, this story, like every story in the Bible, is given to focus our attention on Jesus and His death on the cross.
Think of it this way: all people are born with a death sentence. We have sin and rebellion running through our bodies, just like the venom in the bloodstream of snake-bitten the Israelites, and we will die from this, every one of us.
But God did something about our condition. Two thousand years ago, He erected a cross-like pole, and on that pole, He hung a Savior. If we will turn and look at the cross with eyes of faith, believing that Jesus is dying for us, believing that He is taking our punishment so that we can be pardoned, we discover that "by His wounds we are healed" (1 Peter 2:24) and, as strange as it sounds, will live forever (John 3:16)!
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” John 3:14-15 (NIV)
On the cross, Jesus Christ took your sins on Himself and died under the penalty of them, the purpose of which was to give you life and freedom. God made Jesus to be sin so that He could make you to be holy.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
The Israelites had to turn and look at the snake, as disgusting as that may have seemed to them. By turning and looking, they evidenced that they believed what God said, they accepted His invitation and followed His command to “look.” And when they did, they were healed, and they lived!
Likewise, the cross of Jesus Christ was given to heal us of our sin-sickness and to raise us and give us life. But we must “look,” that is, turn in faith to God, look at the cross, as disgusting as that may seem, and believe the message that God rejected Jesus so that you can be reconciled to God. Jesus was punished that you would be pardoned. Jesus was crucified that you would be justified.
As you continue to look at the cross in your Bible study plans, you see Jesus being pierced for your sins and crushed for your wrongs, and in believing this message, it should dawn on you that the punishment for your sin has already been meted out! So, you realize that, through believing this message of the cross, you are free. There is no longer any punishment or condemnation for you (Romans 8:1). If you believe this message, you find peace in your heart and healing for your life.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)
If you believe this message, it will cut your heart like a sword. It will wound you to consider that your sin put God’s Son on a cross. It will hurt your heart and penetrate down deep. You might mourn or cry as you look on the suffering of Jesus, who took your place on the cross:
“They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10 (NIV)
But you know what else? If you keep looking, keep believing, it will heal you! It will put immense gratitude in your heart, a smile on your face, and joy in your heart. For you now have seen the end of your sin, the reason for your pardon, and the hope of your freedom, healing, and eternal life. The cross will fill you with joy unspeakable, provide you with a new life of freedom and a heart that overflows with God's love.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)
So, what is included in our Bible study plans, blogs, videos, and lessons? Teaching that cuts like a knife and penetrates to the heart, illustrations that call us to look and see the story like a picture, and applications that bring us to the point of action.
And if you continue to study with us, read the bible study plans, lessons and blogs, take in the newsletters and videos, you will no doubt experience the power of this method of study, and the freedom that always comes with it.