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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, March 27, 2022

March 27, 2022
  • Joshua 5:9-12
  • Psalm 32
  • 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
  • Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32


            When reading Scripture, it can be easy to fall into thinking that there is Old Testament God and New Testament God. In this mental model, Old Testament God is often harsh and judgmental while New Testament God is loving and forgiving. This week’s readings remind us that that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same God.

            Jesus tells us of the ultimate nature of God through the story of the prodigal son. God is always ready to welcome us with open arms when we repent of our ways and return to God. God does not hold a grudge, even when others (such as the elder brother) would be uncomfortable with showing radical forgiveness.

            God’s forgiving nature is upheld in the Old Testament. In Joshua, God fulfills God’s promises to the Hebrew people as they enter into the land of Israel. God does this despite decades of disobedience and insubordination of the Hebrews after they leave Egypt. God will keep the covenant God made with humanity as long as they are willing to return to God and keep up their own end of the covenant. The Psalmist praises God for forgiving trespasses, testifying to God’s nature as one ultimately rooted in mercy, not judgment.

            Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians reminds us of the ultimate goal of all that God does in God’s relationship with humanity. God’s objective is always to reconcile us to God and to transform us into something better than we are without God. God sometimes uses punishment to accomplish these ends, not because God revels in punishment, but because sometimes punishment is needed to instruct, much like a parent punishing a child to encourage better behavior.

            If this makes us uncomfortable, we must remember that as Christians, we believe that the climax of Scripture is not God’s punishment, but the radical act of love and mercy as expressed via Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Judgment is indeed a part of God’s nature, but it is love and forgiveness that are deepest in the heart of God.


Ryan Newberry


  • Do you remember a time as a child when you were punished and it improved your character or behavior?
  • Is it necessary for one party to admit their error or wrong in order for the other party to forgive them? Why or why not? Do you think God forgives those who do not express repentance?


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