Lesson 1/Week 1: Death Is the Gate of Life
(Parables of the Cross, pages 5–10)
DAY 1 (Monday):
Read the Section Summary (below). Then read the assigned pages (above). Jot down some initial impressions. Ask God to give you insight into the idea of dying to self and what that might mean in your life. Note those as well.
Section summary: Growing in knowledge of the blessing of God brings us to a crossroad. Life lived on its own brings us to despair. Death is the “gate of life.” It is seen in the floral world of nature. It is evidenced and personalized in the death and resurrection of Christ. “He loved me and gave Himself for me,” a sinner. As we begin to understand this redemptive work on our behalf, we grasp the importance of death for life.
DAY 2 (Tuesday):
Read the Scripture passages (below). Make notes of any insights. If you find this topic hard, note your questions as well. Read and respond to the questions given. You will see that the questions correspond to the scripture.
Scripture reading: Genesis 3:1–15; Romans 5:5–8; Hebrews 2:14–18; Galatians 2:20
What does Genesis 3 tell us went wrong in God’s perfect world? Consider Genesis 2:17 and 3:4 (“You will not surely die” NIV). What kind of death came because of Adam and Eve’s sin? To what death does Genesis 3:15 point?
What did Jesus accomplish by His death? Why did He die (Rom. 5:5-8)?
Read Hebrews 2:14-18. Consider the reason Jesus had to die as fully human and fully God.
Galatians 2:20 says that we are crucified with Christ. From that verse note the contrast between death and life. How can we be crucified and yet live?
What does life in Christ look like for you personally? (Write this down so you can compare it to your responses later in the study.)
DAY 3 (Wednesday):
Re-read the Parables of the Cross pages that are noted. Then read and respond to the questions (below).
Parables of the Cross: Read pages 5–10 and consider the following:
- LT reminds us that death brings the thought of decay and dissolution and doom because of “the curse.” What happened in Genesis 3 that brought a curse on humanity?
- Is there any release or freedom from that curse? What answer does LT provide as our only hope?
- LT states that the death of Christ is “death’s triumph hour” (p. 5). What did Christ win for us? How can His death lead us to triumphal deaths in our lives? (Remember that death is not a good thing in itself but a “gate” to blessing.)
- LT notes that we come to the gate again and again, and that it is a deeper dying each time. What is this gate of dying? To what does it lead (p. 6)?
- Paraphrase LT’s example of the chestnut. What does this metaphor say to you personally?
- LT says, “Death is the only way out of the world of condemnation wherein we lie” (p.9). How do Galatians 2:20 and Romans 5:5-8 express the hope that lies beyond condemnation? What has God poured out (Rom. 5:5) to lead us from death to life?
- As you begin this study of Parables of the Cross, take time to walk, sit outside, or enjoy a house plant. Ask God to help you notice aspects of nature that illustrate the dying, living, and fruitfulness that LT describes. Her delight in God’s creation led her to delight in God Himself.
DAY 4 (Thursday):
Review your responses of the previous readings. You may want to re-read the scripture passages. Then read the quotes (below) for further consideration.
For further consideration:
John Piper, concerning Galatians 2:20:
What Paul means is that there was an “I” who died, and there is a different “I who lives.” That is what it means to become a Christian . . .
. . . The new self is Christ living in me . . . I take this to mean the new self is defined by Christ’s presence and help at all times. — Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
The first thing in all progress is to leave something behind; to follow Him is to leave one’s self behind. — “Self-Denial” in Unspoken Sermons
C.S. Lewis, in the essay “The Weight of Glory”:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. — The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses
Paul’s point is that life and death, for a Christian, are acts of worship – they exalt Christ and magnify Him and reveal and express His greatness – when they come from an inner experience of treasuring Christ as gain. Christ is praised in death by being prized above life. And Christ is most glorified in life when we are most satisfied in Him even before death. — The Dangerous Duty of Delight
DAY 5 (Friday):
Use the hymn given (below) and others you can think of for a time of worship and reflection. Ask God to help you understand the ideas given and apply them to your life. Read again any of the scriptures or other favorite readings from this lesson.
In the Cross of Christ I Glory
In the cross of Christ I glory,
towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o’ertake me,
hopes deceive and fears annoy,
never shall the cross forsake me:
Lo, it glows with peace and joy.
DAYS 6 and 7 (Saturday/Sunday):
Enjoy God. Worship Him as your Father. Thank Him for his many gifts. Perhaps get out in nature to see what God has created. You may also want to view more of Lilias’ artwork at liliastrotter.com (or on the Lilias Trotter Legacy Facebook page). Ask Him what He especially wants you to learn through this Lenten study.
For the full printable Parables of the Cross Study Guide, click here: Parables-of-Cross-Study-Guide.pdf (liliastrotter.com)
For the printable weekly study tips, click here: Parables-of-the-Cross-Study-Guide-Lenten-Suggestions.pdf (liliastrotter.com)