10 Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity
Introduction: The Uniqueness of JesusEvery day more and more people everywhere are getting excited about Jesus of Nazereth. Wherever the true message of Jesus Christ has gone, people and nations have been revolutionized, resulting in new life, new hope, and new purpose for living.
Step 1: The Christian AdventureHave you been living in spiritual defeat – powerless and wondering if you can make it as a Christian? This study will show you how to enjoy what millions of other Christians around the world have experienced – the adventure of a full, abundant, purposeful and fruitful life in Christ.
Step 2: The Christian and the Abundant LifeHave you ever wondered if there was something more exciting than you are experiencing as a Christian? This step describes the Christian way of life – what it is and how it works practically. The study discusses the problems of sin and temptation and the spiritual warfare of life.
Step 3: The Christian and the Holy SpiritIs your life filled with purpose and power? Are you living in joy and victory? Or does your Christian life seem dull? Discover how the revolutionary power of the Holy Spirit can help you rise above your discouragement and defeat and move into a life filled with God’s supernatural power.
Step 4: The Christian and PrayerPrayer is the most revolutionary source of power known to man. This step will teach you how to tap into this power. The truths you learn will ignite your spirit.
Step 5: The Christian and the BibleThe Bible – God’s holy, inspired Word – is without comparison. The heart-warming story of God’s love for mankind, the Bible is an exciting and joyful adventure of reading, meditation and study. No other book written can equal it. And no one can live a full, abundant, supernatural life without daily drawing upon the supernatural resources of God’s word.
Step 6: The Christian and ObedienceWhat is the secret to personal purity and power as a Christian? How can you experience a deep, abiding sense of God’s holy presence as a way of life? Surrendering to the will of God and living daily in His grace is the key.
Step 7: The Christian and WitnessingNow you can learn to share your faith with confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit. The principles presented in this step have been learned on the front line of experience. They have changed millions of silent, guilt-ridden Christians into radiant witnesses for our Lord.
Step 8: The Christian and GivingDoes God reserve a special blessing for those who give generously to His work? Does the “Law of the Harvest” hold true today? Can you give liberally and still miss God’s blessing? Learn the answers to these and many other vital questions concerning your money.
Step 9: Exploring the Old TestamentIs the Old Testament a big mystery to you? Do you wonder if it is really important for the Christian? What does the Bible mean when it talks about a time of law and a time of grace? And who are some of the major players in the drama of God’s dealings with mankind? This step explores the answers and shows what God did to prepare the way for Jesus Christ.
Step 10: Exploring the New TestamentWhat is the key idea of each book in the New Testament? Why do we have four Gospels? Why did Paul write so many letters? And what is in store for us in the not-too-distant future? This step explores the answers and surveys the message of the New Testament as a whole. The study shows the focus of the four Gospels and highlights the exciting beginning of the Church.
1. Christian Adventure
1. The Christian’s Certainty
Believers of the Old Testament times looked forward to the coming of their Messiah. New Testament believers look back to the cross and the resurrection. Both of these events culminate in the unique person of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul says, “It was through what His Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to Him — all things in Heaven and on Earth — for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by His blood…and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are standing there before Him with nothing left against you…the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting Him to save you.” (Colossians 1:20-23)
Hundreds of millions of people around the world have discovered this marvelous “path” because of Jesus’ death on the cross and His bodily resurrection from the dead.
Jesus’ death bridged the gulf between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. He died to pay the penalty of our sin and rescue us “out of the darkness and glood of Satan’s kingdom” and bring us “into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who bought out freedom with His blood and forgave us all our sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) But without His resurrection and ascension, His sacrifice would have been incomplete, and we would have remained under the penalty of death. (I Corinthians 15:17)
To believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world is to believe in a living person. People often ask, “What is the meaning of belief?” The Amplified New Testament expresses the full meaning of the term believe as “adhere to, trust in, and rely on.” The Gospel of John has been called the Gospel of Belief. The word believe occurs many times in the book of John. Chapter 20, verse 31, expresses the purpose of that book:
“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in His name.”
The living Savior, therefore, is the basis for Christian confidence. The resurrection is the foundation of our certainty that we have eternal life and that we experience daily the indwelling presence of our loving Savior.
The printed version of this study contains 9 pages of prepatory study notes not included in this online version. Click here to order the complete study guide, The Christian Adventure.
Why is the resurrection so essential to our faith? (I Corinthians 15:17, Ephesians 2:4-10)
2 The Abundant Life
What is the Christian Life?
The Christian life begins with receiving the Lord Jesus Christ – the gift of God’s love and forgiveness – by faith. It results in a threefold commitment to a person, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a commitment to Him of your intellect, emotions, and will.
The Christian life is a personal intimate relationship between you and Christ. This life begins in faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and can only be lived by faith. Faith is another word for trust. We trust our lives to Christ’s keeping because He has proven Himself trustworthy by His life, His death, His resurrection, and His abiding presence – His unconditional love.
As you walk in faith and obedience to God as an act of your will and allow Him to change your life, you will gain increasing assurance of your relationship with Him. You will experience God’s work in your life as He enables you to do what you cannot do on your own.
The printed version of this study contains 12 pages of preparatory notes not included in the online version. Click here to order The Christian and the Abundant Life study guide.
A New Creation
A New Relationship with God
A New Motivation
A New Relationship with Mankind
Appraising Your Spiritual Life
The two circles in the diagram below represent two kinds of lives: the self-directed life, and the Christ-directed life.
The one on the left illustrates a life with self in control, and depicts a stressful, chaotic life.
The circle on the right represents a life with Jesus Christ in controls, balanced and orderly, with a potential for rich, productive experiences.
Which circle best represents you?
Which circle would you like to have represent your life?
Meditate on each question in this lesson as well as on the answer. Make this a personal appraisal of your spiritual condition.
Types of Soil
Read the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:3-20, and Luke 8:4-15.
To what does the seed refer? (Mark 4:4)
What are the four kinds of soil refered to in Matthew 13:4-8?
Compare verses 5 and 6 with 20 and 21.
Compare verse 7 with 22.
Compare verse 8 with 23.
Result of Swelling in Good Soil
The Abundant Life
Imagine coming home one day to find a stain in your brand new living room carpet. You try everything possible to take out the disoloration. Nothing seems to work. Then someone gives you a special formula guaranteed to remove even the worst of stains. The spot remover is so powerful that it not only takes out the blotch, but it also protects the carpet from ever being blemished again.
This is what God does with our sins. Christ’s excruciating death on the cross forever blotted out out unrighteousness. No sin is too deep, no stain too dark, that God cannot cleanse us to a brilliant white through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross is complete. He saved us from the penalty of sin (John 3:18, Ephesians 2:8). We are being saved from the power of sin (Jude 24-25, II Thessalonians 3:3). And we will be saved from the presence of sin (I John 3:2, Philippians 3:21, I Corinthians 15:51-52).
You have trusted God for the payment of your penalty for sin and for eternal life. Why not trust Him now for power over sin? Remember that as you received Christ by faith, so you shoud walk in faith and receive the abundant life that He promised you.
The Basis of Abundant Living
Read Romans 6:1-23
Review Romans 6:6, 11, 13, 16 and note the progression:
Use these four steps to dedicate yourself to serving God rather than sin.
The Practice of Abundant Living
Read Psalm 37:1-7, 34
Now, review each of the above references and note the progression:
The secret to the abundant life is contained in these key words: know, count, offer, obey, fret not, trust, delight, commit, be still, and wait. Click for a definitions of terms.
The Abiding Life
Alex was distressed over his constant failure to live the Christian life victoriously. “I’m always failing,” he said. “I know what is right, but I’m simply not able to keep the many commitments, resolutions, and rededications that I make to the Lord almost daily. What’s wrong with me? Why do I constantly fail? How can I push that magic button that will change my life and make me the kind of person God wants me to be, and the kind of person I want to be?”
All of us experience this conflict when we walk in our own strength. But the victory is ours as we learn to abide in Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) The reality of abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in us is made possible through a supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Abiding in Christ means to be one with Him by faith. It is to live in conscious dependence upon Him, recognizing that it is His life, His power, His wisdom, His strength, and His ability operating through us that enable us to live according to His will. We do this by surrendering the throne of our lives to Him, and by faith drawing upon His resources to live a supernatural, holy fruitful life.
The abiding life, we in Christ, He in us, enables us to live a victorious and fruitful life.
Millions of Christians throughout the world profess their love for Christ each week by attending church, singing songs, studying their Bibles, and attending prayer meetings. Yet, all the talk in the world will never convince anyone that you or I truly love the Lord unless we obey Him, and this includes bearing fruit for Him. The only way we can demonstrate that we are truly abiding in Him is to produce fruit, which involves introducing others to our Savior as well as living holy lives.
The abiding life also brings lasting joy. “I have told you this,” Jesus said, “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
To live this joyful, abundant life, we must learn to live in Christ, constantly yielding total control of our lives to Him.
Is the abiding presence of Jesus Christ a reality in your life? As an expression of your will, in prayer, surrender the throne of your life to Him, and by faith, invite Him to endow you with supernatural life and enable you to bear much fruit for His glory.
The Abiding Life
Abiding is the key to the Christian experience by which the divine attributes are transplanted into human soil, to the transforming of character and conduct. – Norman B. Harrison.
What did you learn through these situations?
Results of Abiding in Christ
Read John 15:7-11
The Cleansed Life
If the Holy Spirit was sent to give me power to live a victorious life, why do I feel so powerless, so defeated?
We often yearn for spiritual power and do not have it because of impure motives, selfish desires, or unconfessed sin. God does not fill a dirty vessel with His power and love. The vessel of our lives must be cleansed by the blood of our Lord before it can be filled with the Spirit of God.
The Psalmist wrote, “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
I believe that this prayer is an essential disciple of the Christian’s inner life. It expresses to God our desire for purity, our longing to make His ways our ways. Asking Him to reveal to us any unconfessed sin enables us to keep our accounts short with Him. Confession results in cleansing. God’s Word promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all righteousness. (I John 1:9)
The Holy Spirit longs to fill us with His power and love. In this lesson, you will learn how your life can have this power. The first step is to be cleansed from sin and filled with the Spirit of God.
Living “Out of Fellowship” with God
How to be Cleansed
The word “confess” means “to say the same thing as another – to agree with God.” Confession involves three things:
When God brings to your attention the fact that something you have done is sin, you are to confess – say the same thing God says about that specific sin. Do not just say, “I have sinned,” but state what the sin was and agree with God, looking at it from His viewpoint. Then determine to put it out of your life and not do to it again.
Living “In Fellowship” with God
Picture with me for a moment a British soldier during the Revolutionary War. Along with his fellow soldiers, he fought against Colonial forces, who were brilliantly led by General George Washington. As the small Colonial army fought against the overwhelming, superior troops of England, they were miraculously victorious. Even so, there were several British soldiers who resued to surrender. They refused to admit their defeat, and they continued with guerrilla activity.
This is the portrait of the Christian life. We read in Colossians 1:23-24 that God has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom. The Christian flag of victory has been raised; Satan has been defeated. Yet the spiritual guerrilla warfare continues.
If we are to walk in the control and fullness of the Holy Spirit, we must be prepared for spiritual conflict.
I am sure there are dozens of times everyday — at home, at the office, at the grocery store, while driving on the freeway — that you face temptations to compromise your Christian convictions. None of us in this life have gotten to the point of perfection. I can tell you that even after almost fifty years of walking with our wonderful Lord, I face such guerrilla warfare daily.
Ephesians 6:10-18 exhorts us to “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all the strategies and tricks of Satan.”
There are ways you can deal with the “guerrillas” in your life. Let me list just a few:
We are on the Battlefield
Describe in your own word the picture depicted in Paul’s command given in Ephesians 6:10-18.
We are on the Battlefield
Attitude Makes the Difference
The Abundant Life
Your son has just been rushed into the emergency room at the hospital. He was severly injured in a traffic accident, and is not expected to live…
You’ve just discovered that your teenage daughter is pregnant…
The house payment is past due; the dentist is threatening to turn your bill over to collection. Your telephone has been shut off, and you’re facing a layoff at work…
Your husband is a hopeless alcoholic. He becomes violent when he is drunk…
Crisis is part of life. We cannot escape difficulty. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) In short, life is a battleground. But it is not the crisis that creates the problem; it is how we react to it. The pain of trouble can be eased by the attitude we take toward it.
When two Christians face the same tragedy, one may become depressed and defeated while the other draws closer to God. What do you think is the reason for this?
Some Christians believe that God has let them down when they find themselves without money, health, or prestige, or in severe straits. Such an attitude leads to coldness of heart, prayerlessness, distrust, worry, and selfish living.
In this study you will learn about unrecognized blessings and how attitude makes the difference between a defeated outlook and a victorious one.
God’s People in Trouble
In Exodus 14:1-4, the Israelites experienced an unrecognized blessing. As you read, notice the human viewpoint of the people and God’s viewpoint as seen in Moses.
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lessons from your saved or printed documents.
What specific steps do you still need to take to make the abundant life a reality for you?
List verses from Lesson 6 that can help you deal with temptations you face. Each week, update your list to include additional temptations and the verses to help you deal with them.
3. Christian and the Holy Spirit
Who Is the Holy Spirit and Why Did He Come?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
While there is a degree of divine mystery to the nature of the Holy Spirit, He definitely is not a bundle of warm feelings or good memories. Neither is He a vague cosmic force.
In this lesson, you will study biblical evidence proving that the Holy Spirit is a real person who loves and cares for you. You will also discover why He came and how He can make a difference in your life.
The Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is not a vague, ethereal shadow, nor an impersonal force. He is a person equal in every way with the Father and the Son. All the divine attributes ascribed to the Father and the Son are equally ascribed to the Holy Spirit.
Why Did He Come?
The Holy Spirit’s Relationship with You
The moment you receive Christ, you are regenerated, indwelt, sealed, baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. As a result, you have the potential to live a life of victory over sin and witness in the power of the Holy Spirit. This potential is released by faith as you surrender control of you life to Him.
In this lesson, you will see how the Holy Spirit can work in your life and the results you can expect as you yield yourself to His control.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
The Results of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit
Complete the list below:HOW I VIEWED THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE PAST:HOW I VIEW THE HOLY SPIRIT NOW:
(If you are still unsure you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and need further help, please click here to learn about the Spirit-Filled Life.
Why So Few Christians Are Filled with the Holy Spirit
Through the centuries, many of Christ’s followers have been ordinary people. Nothing spectacular ever happened to them or through them. Then, as happened to Peter on the day of Pentecost when he was filled with the Holy Spirit, their lives were dramatically changed.
No longer ordinary or average, they became men and women of God — bold in faith and instruments of God’s power.
Today, the same Holy Spirit with His life-changing power, is available to each of us. Yet, tragically, multitudes of Christians go through life without ever experiencing the abundant and fruitful life that Christ promised to all who trust Him.
In this lesson, you will examine the reasons so few Christians have experienced the infilling of the Spirit. And you will have the opportunity to consider any barriers you may have erected between yourself and God. I urge you to mediate and reflect on how they may apply to your own life.
The Heart’s Battlefield
Why the Battle Is Often Lost
Basically, the reason most Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit is that they are unwilling to surrender their wills to God.
Dear Father, I need you. I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against you. I thank you that you have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite you to again take your place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as you commanded me to be filled. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank you for taking control of my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.
How You Can Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
A desire to serve Jesus Christ and help others receive Him as their Lord and Savior should be your motive for being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Review the video above. A careful study will enable you to gain the greatest benefit from the lesson.
What You Must Know
The fruit of the Spirit is never an end in itself, but only a means to the end. We win men and women to Christ, which in turn brings glory and honor to Him. (John 15:8)
What You Must Feel
What You Must Do
How You Can Know When You Are Filled with the Holy Spirit
Did you sincerely follow the steps outlined in Lesson 4?
Did you ask the Holy Spirit to fill you?
If you did not, Lesson 5 and 6 will not mean much to you. Go back to Lesson 4 and ask God to work in your heart. If He has filled you, you will be anxious to proceed with these next two lessons.
Results of the Spirit-Filled Life
Fact, Faith, and Feelings
Do not depend upon feelings. The promise of God’s word, not our feelings, is our authority. The Christian lives by faith in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word.
This train diagram illustrates the relationship between:
1.fact[Enjin](God and His Word),
2.faith[Cole car for fuel](our trust in God and His Word), and
3.feelings[the caboose](The last car on a train with eating and sleeping facilities for the train crew) this car is the result of our faith and obedience and even our circumstances . (John 14:21)
This train will run with or without the caboose. However, it would be futile even impossible to attempt to pull the train with this car. In the same way, we must not depend upon our feelings, emotions or our circumstances to lead a Christian life, but we must place our faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the promise of His Word.
Though you may not be aware of a change immediately, with the passing of time you will see some evidence of your being filled with the Spirit. If there is no change, the Holy Spirit is not in charge.
How You Can Continue to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit already dwells within you. When you purchase a mechanical item that runs on batteries, frequently the notice “Batteries Not Included” is printed on the box. The Holy Spirit — your source of power for living — is “included” when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Therefore, you do not need to invite Him to come into your life. He came to live within you when you became a Christian, and Jesus promised that He will never leave you.
The moment you received Christ, the Holy Spirit not only came to indwell you, but He imparted to you spiritual life, causing you to be born anew as a child of God. The Holy Spirit also baptized you into the body of Christ. In I Corinthians 12:13, Paul explains, “We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body.”
There is but one indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one rebirth of the Holy Spirit, and one baptism of the Holy Spirit — all of which occur when you receive Christ.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit, however, is not a once-for-all experience. There are many fillings, as is made clear in Ephesians 5:18.
How to Be Filled Continually – Part I
Read Ephesians 5:18. In the original Greek, “be filled” means “keep on being filled constantly and continually.” Living a godly life is a vital part of this process.
How to Be Filled Continually – Part II
The Spirit-Filled Life is an obedient and abiding life. It can be experienced daily as you:
How is the Holy Spirit’s fullness and power evident in your life?
List any areas of your life in which the Holy Spirit is not in control. List the areas where the Holy Spirit is in control. What practical steps will you take this week to give the Holy Spirit full control of those areas that you have not surrendered to Him?
Have you realized a victory today over a sin you confessed yesterday? Describe.
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lessons.
4. Christian and Prayer
The Purpose of Prayer
Jesus set the perfect example of obedience in prayer. Although His day was filled from morning to night with many pressures and responsibilities — addressing crowds, healing the sick, granting private interviews, traveling, and training His disciples — He made prayer a top priority. If Jesus was so dependent upon His fellowship in prayer alone with His Father, how much more you and I should spend time alone with God.
The lives of the disciples and other Christians who have been mightily used of God through the centuries to reach their world for Christ all testify to the necessity of prayer. They are examples of obedience to our Lord’s command to pray.
Someone has wisely said, “Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when he sees the weakest saint on his knees.” Prayer is God’s appointed way of doing God’s work.
This lesson will help you understand why prayer is so important to our Christian life. Study the lesson carefully, taking time to meditate and apply the principles you will learn.
Read John 14:13, I Thessalonians 5:17, Acts 4:23-33, and Matthew 9:38.
The Apostle’s Motive
Read Acts 4.
Your Motives for Praying
On the basis of your personal experience, list at least 4 reasons you pray.
God’s Motives in Teaching Us About Prayer
Read John 3:5-8 and 4:23-24.
Prayer Meets the Heart’s Needs
To Whom Should We Pray?
Because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in perfect unity and harmony, each has a specific role in our prayers. The writer of the book of Hebrews said, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence (boldness), so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
But how do we approach the most powerful presence in the Universe? Do we pray directly to Him? Do we pray to Jesus Christ and ask Him to present our needs to the Father? How can we even approach such a holy God with boldness?
In this lesson you will learn why all three persons in the Godhead are active in our prayers and why each person performs a separate, but interconnecting role.
To Whom Do We Pray?
But some will say, “Is not all prayer unto God?” No. Very much so-called prayer, both public and private, is not unto God. In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray; we must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray.
In much of our prayer there is little thought of God. Our mind is not taken up with the thought of the mighty and loving Father. We are occupied neither with the need nor with the one to whom we are praying , but our mind is wandering here and there throughout the world. When we really come into God’s presence, really meet Him face to face in the place of prayer, really seek the things that we desire from Him, then there is power.
How do you approach God when you pray? How can you better focus your attention on Him?
Think about a time when you particularly sensed God’s presence when you prayed. What made this time of prayer different than others? Why?
Through Whom Should We Pray?
A Guide to Effective Daily Prayer
Effective prayer cannot be reduced to a magic formula. God does not respond to our requests because we have the right ritual. He is more interested in our hearts than in our words. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, said, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
God’s Word does, however, give us certain basic elements that, when included in our communiction with God, will enable us to receive His answers to our prayers.
In this lesson we will consider a simple guide that you can use in your daily devotional time:
The guide can easily be remembered by the first letter of each word: ACTS.
Now follow through by apply praise and thanksgiving in these circumstances.
How to Pray with Power
Jonathon Goforth was a man of powerful prayer. It is said of him that once he felt assured of God’s will in prayer, he would continue in the power of prayer until the thing was accomplished.
Andrew Murray, too, was a great prayer warrior. He wrote in The Praying Christian: “The Christian needs strength. This we all know. The Christian has no strength of his own. This is also true.”
Where may strength be obtained? Notice the answer: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
Paul had spoken of this power in the earlier part of his epistle to the Ephesians (1:18-20). He had prayed to God to give them the Spirit that they might know the exceeding greatness of His power according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.
This is the literal truth: The greatness of His power, which raised Christ from the dead, works in every believer. In me and you, my reader. We hardly believe it, and still less do we experience it.
That is why Paul prays, and we must pray with Him, that God through His Spirit would teach us to believe in His almighty power. Pray with all your heart: “Father, grant me the Spirit of wisdom, that I may experience this power in my life.”
Pay for God’s Spirit to enlighten your eyes. Believe in the divine power working within you. Pray that the Holy Spirit may reveal it to you, and appropriate the promise that God will manifest His power in your heart, supplying all your needs.
Do you not begin to realize that time is needed — much time in fellowship with the Father and Son, if you would experience the power of God within you?
Power for Answered Prayer
Conditions to Answered Prayer
During his lifetime, George Mueller recorded more than 50,000 answers to prayer. He prayed for two men daily for more than 60 years. One of these men was converted shortly before Mueller’s death and the other about a year later. As in Mueller’s experience, we do not always see the answer to our prayers. We must leave the results to God.
One of the great needs of today is for men and women who will begin to pray for things and then pray repeatedly until they obtain what they seek from the Lord.
God’s Promises About Prayer
It is estimated that there are more than 5,000 personal promises in the Bible. However, these promises mean little or nothing to many Christians because they do not claim them by faith. (Hebrews 4:2)
Faith is a word signifying action. For example, bags of cement sitting in a warehouse will never become concrete until they are mixed with sand, gravel, and water. Likewise, God’s promises will never become concrete unless they are mixed with faith and action. You must make them yours by believing them and putting your faith to work.
This lesson will show you some of God’s conditions and promises concerning prayer and His provision for your needs.
What God Has Promised Concerning Prayer
Look up the following verses and identify the condition and promise in each:
Jeremiah 33:3 Condition / PromiseMatthew 21:22 Condition / PromiseI John 5:14-15 Condition / PromiseJohn 14:14 Condition / Promise
Which promise do you need most to apply to your own prayer life right now and why?
What God Will Provide Through Prayer
In the following verses, identify God’s promises concerning:
Philippians 4:19, Psalm 84:11 Material Needs.Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 32:8 GuidanceEphesians 1:3, Philippians 4:13 Spiritual Needs
List reasons you can trust Him to keep His promises:
Psalm 9:10, Psalm 115:11, Isaiah 26:4, Nahum 1:7, II Samuel 7:28
In what particular circumstance of your life and for what do you presently need to trust Him more?
These promises are real — believe them, claim them, live by them.
List at least three things you need to pray for, and a verse for each that promises God’s provision:
Planning Your Daily Devotional Time
Down through the years, godly men who have done great things for God have testified to the necessity of having a devotional time.
John Wesley, who shook the world for God and founded the Methodist Church, is representative of such great spiritual leaders. He thought prayer, more than anything else, to be his business.
Just as a child needs food to grow physically, so we need food to grow spiritually. We can miss a meal and not feel any ill effects, but if we don’t eat for a week we begin to weaken physically. So it is in our spiritual lives.
The study of the Word of God and the practice of prayer are vitally important for spiritual growth. We may miss a day without feeding on the Word of God or praying and not feel any apparent ill effects in our lives, but if we continue this practice, we will lose the power to live the victorious Christian life.
The Christian life might be compared to a soldier in battle. He is out on the front lines but is connected with his commanding officer by radio. He calls and tells of the conditions and problems he is facing. Then his commanding officer, who from his vantage point can see the entire battle area, relays instructions. Similarly, the Christian shares his joys and sorrows, his victories and defeats, and his needs as God instructs and guides him through His word.
It is our Heavenly Father who directs us in the adventure of life. He knows the steps we should take. We must take time to seek Him for guidance.
Establish a Definite Time
A daily devotional time should be set aside for personal worship and meditation in which we seek fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Once begun, this fellowship can be continued throughout the day. (Psalm 119:97, I Thessalonians 5:17)
Choose a Definite Place
Avoid distraction by finding a quiet, private place of worship. If privacy is impossible, you will need to learn to concentrate. If you cannot have a devotional time in your own home or room, perhaps one of the following places will be suitable:
Goal and Content of the Devotional Time
We should have a reason for everything we do. “Aim at nothing and you will surely hit it.” Our purpose for prayer should be to establish personal fellowship with God and to fulfill our own spiritual needs.
A brief time of meeting with God in the early morning and walking in vital union with Him throughout the day, “practicing the presence of God” is more meaningful than spending an hour or more in legalistic ways and forgetting about Him for the rest of the day.
During our devotional time, we should be concerned with learning where we have failed and with rededicating ourselves to the task before us. We should use the time to regroup our forces after the battles of the previous day and plan for the next day’s attack.
What particular spiritual need do you feel today? What battles did you have yesterday?
The devotional time should include Bible study, prayer, personal worship, and quiet meditation. These aspects of the devotional time are so closely related that you can actually engage in all at the same time.
For example, begin by reading a Psalm of thanksgiving or praise. As you read, your heart will respond and you will continue to praise and worship God from a grateful heart.
Turn now to another portion of scripture, such as Romans 8. Interrupt your reading to thank God for each truth that applies to you as a Christian. You will be amazed at how much you have to praise and thank God for, once you get started.
After you have read and prayed for a while, remain in an attitude of quiet, listening for instructions from God. Write down any thoughts that come to mind and pray about these.
Additional activities may include memorizing scripture or reading from a devotional book or hymnal.
Study Matthew 6:9-13. Paraphrase this prayer in your own words, using expression meaningful to you.
Complete these statements:
I have set aside the following definite time in the day for daily devotional time:
I have decided on the following place:
My purpose for setting aside a definite time and place for my devotion is:
I will include the following activities during my devotional time:
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lessons (s).
Why is prayer important?
To be more effective in prayer, what conditions mentioned in Lesson 4 and 5 are you now meeting that you were not meeting before?
Fill in the words to complete the suggestion guide for prayer content:
Are you presently following the ACTS guide? (Remember, the guide is not mandatory, it is just helpful.) If you use another system, what is it?
How has your understanding of power and promises in prayer been broadened?
What specific time and place have you set aside for daily prayer and devotions? What adjustments do you need to make for it to be more effective?
Memorize and remember: Effective praying is simply asking God to work according to His will and leaving the results to Him.
5.The Christian and the Bible
The Book of Books
The Bible is God’s Holy, inspired Word. It is the most powerful and most quoted book in the world. Some of the greatest men in modern history have had a deep respect for the Bible:
Abraham Lincoln: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.”
Immanuel Kant: “The existence of the Bible, as a book for people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”
Robert E. Lee: “In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”
Daniel Webster: “If there is anything in my thought or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me early love for the scriptures.”
Hundreds of millions of people have read its sacred pages, making it the best-selling book of all time.
The composition of the Bible is indeed amazing. A library of sixty-six books, it was written by more than forty different human authors under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These writers wrote independently, knowing almost nothing of the other’s part. None had anything in common, and their literary qualifications were diverse. Moses, for example, was a man of learning, trained in the best universities of Egypt. Peter, on the other hand, was a fisherman without claim to formal education. Yet, each wrote the wisdom of God with powerful force.
It took the Old and New Testament writers fifteen centuries to complete the Bible, which was written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and on three continents. Indeed, this collection of books is really one, not sixty-six, for it is coherent in content and progressive in truth.
The Bible is composed of 1189 chapters (929 in the Old Testament and 260 in the New) and utilitizes 773,746 words to convey its life-changing message. This literary masterpiece contains history, laws, poetry, prophecy, biography, dramatic stories, letters, and revelations.
In the words of Sir Isaac Newton:
“There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.”
Christian church leaders of the fifth century A.D. decided upon the list of books to be included in the Bible. This collection of accepted writings came to be known by scholars as the “canon,” and were considered inspired and authoritative.
In this lesson you will study the various names of the Bible, survey its construction, and gain insights that will make your own Bible study more meaningful.
Various Names of the Bible & It’s Construction
List the various names the Bible is called according to the following references:1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Ephesians 6:17.
To become familiar with your own Bible, leaf through it and look at these divisions and books as you progress through the lesson. If possible, use a Bible with headlines to help you answer the questions.
The Bible is composed of two main sections: the Old Testament, containing 39 books, and the New Testament, containing 27 books.
Read Genesis 1 and Revelation 22. From these two chapters, summarize the scope of the contents of the Bible.
Divisions of the Old Testament
The Old Testament can be divided into five parts:
Pentateuch. The first five historical books, written by Moses, are also called the books of the Law. Genesis | Exodus | Leviticus | Numbers | Deuteronomy
Historical Books. The next twelve books tell of the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, of Israel’s repeated turning from God to sin, and finally of the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles — God’s punishment.Joshua | Judges | Ruth | 1 Samuel | 2 Samuel | 1 Kings | 2 Kings | 1 Chronicles | 2 Chronicles | Ezra | Nehemiah | Esther
Poetry. Of the next five books, Psalms — the Hebrew hymn book — is probably the best known. Job | Psalms | Proverbs | Ecclesiastes | Song of Solomon
Describe how God may have used any of these books or sections to comfort and strengthen you in a difficult situation.
Major Prophets. Written shortly before Israel was taken into captivity and during the exile, these books prophesied the coming Messiah and other world events. They also contain warnings of impending disaster if Israel did not turn from her wicked ways.Isaiah | Jeremiah | Lamentations | Ezekiel | Daniel
Minor Prophets. These last twelve books of the Old Testament are called minor prophets only because they are shorter, not because they are less important. They are mainly concerned with Israel and the coming Messiah. Read one of the books from the choices below, and summarize it’s main points.
Hosea | Joel | Amos | Obadiah | Jonah | Micah | Nahum | Habakkuk | Zephaniah | Haggai | Zechariah | Malachi
Divisions of the New Testament
The New Testament can be divided into five parts:
Gospels. The first four books of the New Testament tell of Christ’s life and ministry.Matthew | Mark | Luke | John
What was Jesus last command to His disciples in Matthew? How does this apply to you today?
Acts. This history of the early church, which also describes the ministries of Peter and Paul, consists of only one book. What is its significance for us today?
Pauline Epistles and Hebrews. Thirteen of the epistles (letters) were written by Paul, and were named for the church, group of churches, or individual to whom they were sent. Although the author of Hebrews is not identified, many believe Paul also authored it. Romans | 1 Corinthians | 2 Corinthians | Galatians | Ephesians | Philippians | Colossians | 1 Thessalonians | 2 Thessalonians | 1 Timothy | 2 Timothy | Titus | Philemon | Hebrews
Write down any favorite verse you have from any of these books and explain why it is meaningful to you.
General Epistles. There are seven general epistles, and they are named not for the recipients, but for the authors. James | 1 Peter | 2 Peter | 1 John | 2 John | 3 John | Jude
Revelation. The last book of the New Testament is one of prophecy. It describes the end times and the triumph of Christ in His second coming. Describe the central message of the book (Revelation 22:12-17). What are its promises to those who overcome? (Revelation 2,3)
What warning does the writer of this book give? (Revelation 22:18-19)
What new insights about the composition of the Bible have you gained from this study? How will this help you in your daily life?
To know the Bible well and to be able to find scripture references quickly, you should memorize the names of the books in the order in which they appear. Master one group, and then go on to the next.
Focus on one division each week until you have memorized all the books of the Bible. Review these frequently until they are fixed in your mind.
Today, commit to memory the books of the first division, the Pentateuch
The Central Person of the Bible
Jesus is the most remarkable and fascinating person in history. He has inspired more hope, taught more compassion, and shown more love than any other man who has ever lived.
Jesus is the central figure of the Bible. His birth as the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world was prophesied by Old Testament authors. Their writings contain more than three hundred separate references to the coming of Jesus, with many unique details. Christ fulfilled 100 percent of all the Old Testament predictions of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah.
The New Testament makes an even more revolutionary claim: that Jesus Christ is the center of all biblical prophecy. The Scripture proclaims:
“Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through prophets [in visions, dreams, and even face to face], telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything, and through whom he made the world and everything there is.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
And the book of Ephesians declares:
“God has told us His secret reason for sending Christ, a plan He decided on in mercy long ago; and this was His purpose: that when the time is ripe He will gather us all together from wherever we are — in Heaven or on Earth — to be with Him in Christ, forever.” (1:9-10)
The precise fulfillment of the immense body of biblical prophecy is found in one unique and revolutionary Man — Jesus of Nazareth. Claiming that He was the predicted One of old, Jesus stepped into time. And the pieces of the prophetic puzzle slipped into place. We can clearly see that He was the center of God’s revelation to man.
What Christ Said About Himself and the Old Testament
What did Christ say of the Scriptures in John 5:39?
Read Luke 24:25-27, 44-48. What was Christ’s claim concerning the Old Testament teaching about Himself? What parts of the Old Testament did Christ say referred to Him? (Verse 44)
What do you think Christ wants you to understand about the Old Testament from verses 26, 46, and 47?
What the Apostles Said About Christ and the Old Testament
What did Peter conclude in Acts 3:18?
Keeping in mind that the New Testament had not yet been written, how did the Apostle Paul use the Old Testament to show that it contained the “good news” of Christ? (Acts 17:1-3)
What three things occurred in Christ’s life that Paul said were taught in the Old Testament? (I Corinthians 15:3-4)
What did Paul conclude in Romans 15:8-9 about the ministry of Christ?
Old Testament Prophesies Concerning Christ Fulfilled in the New Testament
All of more than 300 Old Testament prophecies about the first coming of the Messiah were fulfilled in the life of Christ. Here are a few of them.
Compare these Scripture references and record the prophecies fulfilled.
COMPARE WITH FULFILLMENTI Samuel 16:19,Isaiah 11:1 Luke 1:31-33 Genesis 3:15 Galatians 4:4 ,Hebrews 2:14 Numbers 24:17 Matthew 2:2,9 Isaiah 9:6 Matthew 1:23 Isaiah 40:3 Matthew 3:1-3 Zechariah 9:9 Matthew 21:1-11 Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34 Psalm 34:20 John 19:33,36 Job 19:25-27 Galatians 3:13,I John 3:2
What is your impression after seeing these Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment?
Christ, the Central Person of the New Testament
The four Gospels are the history books of Christ’s ministry. (Read Matthew 1:1, Mark 1:1, Luke 1:1-4, John 20:30-31.) In what ways did the disciples know Jesus? (I John 1:3)
Do the four Gospels purport to record all that Jesus did? (John 20:30) Why were the historical facts and teachings of Jesus Christ written? (John 20:31)
The Book of Acts is a historical account of the acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles. Who wrote it? (Luke 1:1-3, Acts 1:1) How do you think the passage in the book of Luke applies to the Book of Acts?
The Epistles are letters written to show the church the practical outworking of the life of Christ in the lives of those who wrote them. By example, they teach us regarding our membership in the body of Christ, and about our privileges, responsibilities, and destiny. Read Colossians 2:6-8. What are Christians to do? How are we to do it? Of what are we to beware? What would you say our greatest responsibility is?
The Book of Revelation is the only New Testament book of prophecy. Read Revelation 1:1-3. This book is the revelation of whom? What is its purpose? Who gave such knowledge? How was this knowledge given, and to whom? How will studying Revelation affect your life and under what conditions?
How will recognizing Jesus as the central figure of the entire Bible affect your Old Testament reading?
What do you see as your individual responsibility in fulfilling the commands of this person? (See John 15:16 and Matthew 28:19-20)
Authority of the Old Testament
Researchers in Israel subjected the first five books of the Old Testament to exhaustive computer analysis. They came to a different conclusion than expected.
Skeptics had long assumed that the Torah, or Books of Moses, was the work of multiple authors. But scripture scholar Moshe Katz and computer expert Menachen Wiener of the Israel Institute of Technology refuted this belief. They discovered an intricate pattern of significant words concealed in the canon, spelled by letters separated at fixed intervals.
According to Katz, the statistical possibility of such patterns happening by chance would be one in three million. The material, suggests a single, inspired author — in fact, it could not have been put together by human capabilities at all. “So we need a nonrational explanation,” he said. “And ours is that the Torah was written by God through the hand of Moses.”
The Old Testament was considered by its writers to be the inspired and authoritative Word of God. Our Lord Himself, the New Testament writers, and the early church, also affirmed its authenticity.
Of Moses it is said, “Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.” (Exodus 24:4) David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.” (II Samuel 23:2) The prophet Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me saying…” (Jeremiah 1:4) Ezekiel, Daniel, and Amos made it perfectly clear that their messages were absolutely and wholly from God.
Jesus frequently referred to Old Testament scriptures during His earthly ministry. In confronting the unbelief of the Jews, Jesus affirmed that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35) During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, until Heaven and Earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)
While teaching in the temple courts, Jesus cited Psalm 110:1 and declared that David spoke by the Holy Spirit. (Mark 12:35-36) After His resurrection, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Then Luke notes, “He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45) The Jews used the expression, “The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms” to represent the entire Old Testament.
Concerning the birth of Christ, Matthew records, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.” (Matthew 1:22) In quoting the song of Zechariah (Father of John the Baptist) concerning the birth of Jesus, Luke included the affirmation, “as he said through His holy prophets of long ago.” (Luke 1:70) And the writer of Acts records Peter’s speech concerning the fate of Judas who betrayed Jesus, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David.” (Acts 1:16)
Many other passages testify to the authority of the Old Testament, often with the words, “that the Scripture might be fulfilled,” or “for this is what the prophet has written.” Peter affirmed, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origins in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1:20-21)
As the early church grew, differences in doctrines surfaced. But no matter how much the church fathers differed in their teachings, they were unanimous in one thing: that the entire Old Testament, God and Christ, the incarnate word of God, spoke by the Holy Spirit through men. They affirmed the writing of Paul to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16) Unlike other doctrines, the authority of the Scripture was indubitable.
Belief in the absolute authority of the Scripture is foundational to your faith. I encourage you to study this lesson carefully and prayerfully so you will be able to assure others of the divine authority and sureness of God’s holy Word.
Testimony of Its Writers
The phrase, “Thus says the Lord,” or its equivalent, occurs more than 2,000 times in the Old Testament.
Write out these statements concerning inspiration made by the following writers:David (II Samuel 23:2), Isaiah (Isaiah 8:1,5,11), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:9), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:4)What is different about each one? What is the same?
What two statements of Moses in Exodus 31:18 and 32:16 show that God actually wrote the Ten Commandments?
What statements made by David shows that the pattern for the temple was dictated by God? (I Chronicles 28:19)
Testimony of Christ
The New Testament had not been written during Christ’s earthly ministry, and His references to the Scriptures refer to the Old Testament writings. He never once denied or made light of Old Testament Scriptures; He related Himself to them as their fulfillment. He said: “These are the Scriptures that testify about Me.” (John 5:39)
How did Christ describe those who did not believe the Old Testament prophecies? (Luke 24:25)
What is the result of not believing in the Old Testament? (John 5:46-47)
What did Christ think of His responsibility concerning Old Testament prophecy? (Matthew 5:17-18)
What was Christ’s view of the story of man’s creation as recorded in Genesis? (Matthew 19:4-6)
What authority did Christ use to answer Satan? (Matthew 4:4-10) Men? (Matthew 22:29-32, 43-46)
Summarize Christ’s attitude and view of the Old Testament.
Testimony of the Apostles
It is evident from their inspired writings that the apostles of Christ considered the Old Testament Scriptures prophetic and inseparable from the authority, power, and ministry of Christ.
Peter. From whom did the apostle Peter say the writings of the Old Testament came? (II Peter 1:21, Acts 1:16)
How did Peter feel about the Old Testament historical account he recorded in I Peter 3:20? Who did Peter say were inspired by God? (Acts 3:20-21)
Paul. How much of the Old Testament is inspired by God, according to Paul in II Timothy 3:16? What did Paul believe the Old Testament to be? (Romans 3:2)
James. Acceptance of the Old Testament writing is evidenced in the Book of James by references to whom? (James 2:21, 25, 5:11, 17)
John. One of the many evidences that John believed the Old Testament is his acceptance of which story? (I John 3:12)
The writers of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Apostles of Christ, and the early Church Fathers all say of the Old Testament, “This is the inspired Word of God.” What do you say? (John 8:47, I John 4:6)
Describe how the information in this lesson give you confidence in the authority of the Old Testament.
Write down several proofs of the authority of the Old Testament that you could use to explain to someone who doubts it.
Authority of the New Testament
As you prepare to start this lesson, pick up your Bible and thumb through the pages of the New Testament. Have you ever thought about its origin and how its twenty-seven books were collected together into one volume?
Since the first of the books was probably not written until about A.D. 50, the church did not have a “New Testament” for the first twenty years following our Lord’s ascension. Instead, the early Christians relied on the Old Testament and the eye-witness accounts of His disciples.
Christianity began with the preaching of Jesus but was spread word-of-mouth by the faithful witness of His followers. Eventually the oral Gospel and the writings of the apostles to the churches were preserved for us in the books of the New Testament.
The New Testament grew book by book, beginning with the writings of Paul. As Paul established churches in new communities, he kept in touch with them by letter. Beginning with letters to the Thessalonians, Paul corresponded with his churches until his death. He letters were copied, compiled, and circulated among the churches until they became known throughtout the Christian communities.
As the years passed and the number of living eye-witnesses became fewer, the Gospels were written to preserve their accounts. Mark wrote his Gospel first, followed by Matthew, Luke, and John.
In addition to Paul’s letters and the Gospels, other epistles, the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation soon appeared until the church had in its possession all the books of our New Testament by the close of the first century.
These twenty-seven books, however, represent only a few of the numerous writings produced by the early Christians, many of which attempted to reinterpret the sayings and teachings of Christ. For more than two hundreds years, the church fathers could not decide which of those works should be considered written under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit and thus be approved for reading in the public services of the church. The need for unity in belief and practice among Christians eventually led the fathers to separate the writings that were in harmony with the teachings of Jesus from those that were not.
The authoritative list of books developed slowly and gradually under the influence of the Holy Spirit until by year 400 most Christians had accepted the twenty-seven books that now comprise our New Testament. Today almost all of Christianity — Catholic and Protestant groups of many kinds — have placed their approval upon them.
In 1874 the Scriptures were under severe attack by critics, and John W. Haley pubished a defense entitled, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible. In the preface he wrote:
Finally, let it be remembered that the Bible is neither dependent upon nor affected by the success or failure of any book. Whatever may become of the latter, whatever may be the verdict passed upon it by an intelligent public, the Bible will stand. In the ages yet to be, when its present assailants and defenders are moldering in the dust, and when our very names are forgotten, (God’s Word) will be, as it has been during the centuries past, the guide and solace of millions.
Authority Given the Apostles By Christ
What four things did Christ say the Holy Spirit would do for the apostles? (John 16:12-15) Why do you think the apostles could not know all the truth at that time, and how would they in the future?
What authority did Christ give the apostles? (John 17:18, 20:21)
On what basis did Christ select the apostles to bear witness of Him? (John 15:26-27, Luke 24:46-48)
How did Paul fit in according to Acts 9:3-6, Acts 26:13-15, and I Corinthians 15:7-9?
What authority did Christ give Paul? (Acts 26:15-18) How do we fit into this as witnesses?
The Apostles Wrote Under Christ’s Authority
Paul. What does he call himself at the beginning of the book of Romans? From whom did Paul receive what he preached? (I Corinthians 11:23, Galatians 1:11-12) What was Paul’s authority and purpose? (II Corinthains 5:20)
Read II Peter 3:15-16. What did Peter think about Paul’s writings? What did he think about those who misuse the New Testament?
Writer of Hebrews. Where did the writer of Hebrews get his authority? (Hebrews 1:1-2 )
James. What did this half-brother of Jesus call himself? (James 1:1)
John. What does John claim as the authority for writing his epistles? (I John 1:1-3) How was Revelation written? ( Revelation 1:1)
Jude. What does this other half-brother of Jesus call himself in Jude 1? What do you think Paul, James, and Jude meant by saying they were bondservants of Christ?
Peter. What does he call himself? (I Peter 1:1) What does Peter make known? (II Peter 1:16)
On whose writings is the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ established? (Ephesians 2:20) What is the Gospel of Christ according to the apostles in Romans 1:16.
Why were the apostles confident they they wrote correctly about Christ? (II Corinthians 4:5-6)
God has miraculously preserved His Word for us. Although this study should convince us that the New Testament is the Word of God, what is your greatest assurance that it is God’s Word? (John 16:13, 8:47, 18:37)
How does the information in this lesson help you trust the Bible more than you may have in the past? How will you use the deeper trust in witinessing? Praying? Daily living?
The Power of God’s Word
I believe that knowledge of the Bible without a college education is more valuable than a college education without the Bible.
– William Lyon PhelpsFormer professor at Yale University
Lila and her husband were expecting their fourth child and looking forward to the new baby’s arrival with eager anticipation. Then, unexpectedly, their dreams were shattered by a miscarriage.
Not only was Lila grieved by the loss of the child, it soon became apparent that her life was in grave danger. Serious complications suddenly became evident, and she was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.
Lila was vaguely aware of her surroundings as she slipped in and out of consciousness. Her family was at her side encouraging her, and many friends and loved ones were praying fervently.
During the crisis, she found it nearly impossible to focus her mind on anything except for one clear impression that persisted in her mind. “I can endure…I can survive…I can withstand…all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Somehow, in spite of the loss of blood and the close proximity of death, she was aware that she was not remembering the words just right. Yet, intuitively she understood that God was promising to see her through.
Two weeks later, she returned home weakened but alive. While reading her Bible, she suddenly remembered the exact Scripture.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
How she praised God for His Word, which had penetrated the fog of unconsciousness with a powerful promise of strength and provision! In the Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul records:
“The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any two edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4:12)
God’s holy inspired Word has several characteristics that guarantee powerful results. First, it is infused with the power of the Holy Spirit. It has been said that a Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn’t. That is because God’s Word is energetic and active, speaking to today’s world and our own personal needs and circumstances.
Second, God’s word is truth. It awakens our conscience. With the power to reach into the private corners of our hearts, the Word bares our motives and secret feelings and reveals our hidden longings.
Third, God’s Word discerns our true character. It exposes the weakness in our attitudes and conduct, enabling us to correct ourselves by the power of His Holy Spirit.
As you study this lesson, I urge you to begin hiding the Word of God in your heart, drawing upon its wisdom for your life. Remember that God’s Word will never return to Him void, but will most certainly accomplish what it was sent to do. Share the Word with a friend, bearing witness to the faithfulness of our wonderful Lord and the power and authority of His Holy Spirit.
The Word of God
Tell what God’s Word is or what it does, or both, according to the following scriptures. (Use a dictionary for definition of key words if needed.)
What it is:Hebrews 5:12-14, Philippians 2:16, Ephesians 6:17
What it does:I John 2:5, John 12:48, Romans 10:17, John 15:3
Both:I Peter 1:23, John 8:31-32, John 17:17, I Peter 2:2, Hebrews 4:12
How to Understand the Word of God
Read I Corinthians 2:14. No one can understand the Word of God by his own ability. Why?
Describe in your own words a natural man’s reaction to spiritual things.
Explain in your own words how one must come to understand the Word of God. See I Corinthians 2:7-12 and Romans 8:5-9.
Why do some individuals deny the authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, and other basic teachings in the Word of God? What should be our response to them?
When we approach the Word of God, what is the first thing we should understand? (II Peter 1:20-21)
What is one way the power of the Bible manifests itself according to II Timothy 3:15?
How have you experienced that power in your life recently?
The Need for God’s Word
Before I became a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Word didn’t make any sense to me. I tried to read it occasionally during my high school and college days, but found it boring. Finally, I concluded that no really intelligent person could believe the Bible.
But when I becamse a Christian, my life was transformed, and my attitudes concerning the Scriptures changed. I realized that the Bible was truly the holy, inspired Word of God. For almost fifty years it has been more important to me than the thousands of books in my library combined.
Why is the Bible so important to the Christian? Let me share five basic reasons. First, the Word of God is divinely inspired. The Apostle Paul wrote, “All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16)
Second, Scripture is the basis of our belief. As the divinely-inspired Word, the Bible gives us God’s perspective on how we should live. If offers His pardon for our sins, reveals His purpose for our lives, shows us how to live peacefully in a world of turmoil, and commands us to appropriate His power so we can be fruitful witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Many years ago, while I was a student at Fuller Theological Seminary, two gifted young evangelists came to speak during our chapel program. Both believed and preached the Word of God without questioning its authority. Later, however, they began to doubt that the Bible was truly inspired in every word.
One of these men finally rejected the integrity of the Scripture altogether. As a result, he had no moorings on which to base his life and ministry. He is now a skeptic and an outspoken opponent of the Christian faith.
The other young evangelist chose to believe that the Bible is truly the authoritative, inspired Word of God, and what he could not understand he entrusted to God and believed by faith.
Few remember the name of the first man. But the second is Billy Graham, whom God has used to touch the lives of millions around the world.
Third, the Bible is God’s love letter to man. From Genesis to Revelation, it tells of God’s great compassion for us and of His desire to have fellowship with us. John 3:16, perhaps the most beloved passage in the Bible, summarizes the depth of God’s love for us:
“God so loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son, so that whosoever would believe in Him, might not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Fourth, the Bible reveals God’s attributes. It tells us that He is holy, sovereign, righteous, and just; that He is loving, merciful, and kind; that He is gracious, patient, and faithful. We have no trouble trusting Him if we really understand who He is and how holy, loving, and wonderful His purposes are for us.
Fifth, God’s Word teaches us how to live holy lives and to be fruitful witnesses for our Lord. The more we read and meditate on His precious Word — and let His Holy Spirit control our lives — the more fruitful we become.
Are you spending time meditating on God’s Word daily? If not, let me encourage you to begin today. As you study this lesson, ask God to reveal Himself to you in a fresh, new way, and let Him speak to your heart of His will for you. I encourage you to depend on God’s Word for your daily Christian living.
What We Should Know About the Bible
Read Psalm 119. What does the psalmist call God’s Word in verses 1-7, 43, 72, 105, 123?
What does this tell you about the importance of knowing God’s Word?
When does God discipline His children and what value does His word have for us? (Psalm 119:72, 126)
What is necessary in order to learn the Word? (Psalm 119:73)
How God’s Word Affects Our Feelings
According to Psalm 119:7-9, what does the psalmist recognize is accomplished by respecting and learning God’s Word?
From Psalm 119:10-16, list at least three attitudes of the psalmist that show his love for the World of God.
Why is adversity sometimes good for us? (Psalm 119:67,71)
From Psalm 119:136, 158 what is the reaction of those who love Christ when His Word is not kept?
How can we have great peace? (Psalm 119:165)
Results of Appropriating God’s Word
Read these verses in Psalm 119:98-100, 105, 130 and write down what affect the Word has on us when we do the following:Know and memorize the Word. (V. 98)Meditate on it. (V. 99)Obey it. (V. 100)Follow it. (V. 105)What does the Word give us? (V. 130)
According to Psalm 119:11,32,63,74,157,176 , what should we do as a result of appropriating the Word?
What impresses you most about Psalm 119?
List three ways in which you recognize your personal need for God’s Word today?
Private Bible Study Methods
Martin Luther said he studied his Bible in the same way he gathered apples. He encourages us to:
Search the Bible as a whole, shaking the whole tree. Read it rapidly, as you would any other book. Then shake every limb — study book after book. Then shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters when they do not break the tense. Then shake each twig by a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences. And you will be rewarded if you will look under each leaf by searching the meaning of the words.
The Thompson Chain Reference Bible gives this suggestion:
Study the Bible as a traveler who seeks to obtain a thorough and experimental knowledge of a new country. Go over its vast fields to truth; descend into its valleys; climb its mountains of vision, follow its streams of inspiration; enter its halls of instruction; visit its wonderous portrait galleries.
Remember that many doctrinal errors have grown out of a lack of spiritual perspective, or a narrow view of scriptural truth. The Savior says, “You err not knowing the Scriptures, or the power of God.”
Seek to understand the deep things of God. Study the Word as a miner digs for gold, or as a diver plunges into the depths of the sea for pearls.
Most great truths do not lie upon the surface. They must be brought into the light by patient toil.
Every time you and I read and study God’s Word carefully, we are building up our storehouse of faith. When we memorize the Word, our faith is being increased.
Reading the Bible is vital for every Christian. How can we learn about God or grow spiritually if we do not spend time studying the Book in which He has made Himself known to us?
Taking a few minutes each day to read a chapter is a good way to start. But we should also block out extended periods of time for exploring God’s Word and reflecting on what He is saying to us.
Proper Attitude for Bible Study
When you personally received Christ as your Savior and Lord, you began a great adventure. That great adventure is mapped out in the pages of the Holy Scriptures. As you read and study the Bible in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will receive meaning, strength, direction, and power for your life. You will learn and claim the many great promises God has reserved for His own.
Approach the Bible in prayer, with reverence, awe, and expectancy; with a willing mind; and with a thirst for truth, righteousness, and fullness in the Lord Jesus Christ. When you come with a humble and contrite heart, you can trust God the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you, and you will experience the cleansing power of His eternal Word.
Above all, as you study God’s Word, be eager to obey all that He commands, and rejoice in the knowledge that you are an ambassador for Christ, seeking men in His name to be reconciled to God.
How do you feel about Bible study?
What do you see at this point as your main purpose in studying God’s Word?
Have you established a definite goal regarding Bible study?
First, obtain at least two translations of the Bible. If you don’t have access to printed Bibles in your country, you can use this web site to access multiple languages and translations of the Bible: www.biblegateway.org.
Study the various translations. You would not expect to learn much about the physical laws of our universe without diligent and persistent study. Should you expect to acquire much knowledge of God and the unsearchable riches of His Word without studying with equal diligence and persistence?
As funds are available, you will want to secure a topical Bible, a concordance, and a Bible dictionary. Additional Bible study books are helpful and can be added as convenient. However, always remember, Bible study involves just that — studying the Bible. The other items are merely tools to assist you in getting the rich truths God has for you in His Word.
As you consider each study of the Scriptures, may I suggest you record God’s Word to you in a journal. This will not only result in a deeper, more serious study, it will give you a written record of how God speaks to you and of your response to Him.
List the tools you have now.
List the additional tools you desire in the order in which you plan to obtain them.
Book study. The Bible contains many books. Yet the divine plan of God to redeem men in Christ Jesus runs through the whole of it. Be careful to consider each book as a part of the whole. Read it through. Following these suggestions will help make your study more meaningful:
Which book would you particularly like to study using this method? (It is best to start with one of the shorter ones.)
Chapter study. To get a grasp of the chapter, answer the following questions:
Choose a chapter from the book, and apply these questions.
Topical study. Take an important subject – such as grace, truth, prayer, faith, assurance, justification, regeneration, or peace – and, using a topical Bible and a concordance, study the scope of the topic throughout the Bible.
You will find it necessary to divide each topic into sub-topics as you accumulate material; for example, forms of prayer, prayer promises, examples of prayer in Scripture, Christ’s teaching on prayer, Christ’s ministry as we pray, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
What topic do you plan to study first? How much time have you scheduled for it?
Biographical study. There are 2,930 people mentioned in the Bible. The lives of many of these make extremely interesting biographical studies. Why is it important to study the characters of the Bible (I Corinthians 10:11, Romans 15:4)?
Using a concordance, topical Bible, or the proper name index in your Bible, look up every reference in the Bible of someone you would like to study.
Name the person you would like to study. State your reason for choosing that particular person. Answer the following questions:
By the time you complete the studies outlined in this series, you will have been introduced to each of these four methods. Your already have taken the first step in the book study method by reading the Book of Acts. Lessons 2 and 4 of Steps 2: The Christian and the Abundant Life were chapter studies. You will soon be ready to apply these as well as the other two methods to more advanced work in your own individual Bible study.
What method interest you the most now?
How do you expect to benefit from serious study of the Bible?
Select one method and use it over the next week. Use the other methods the following weeks. Remember, always study the Bible with the following on hand: pencil, notebook, prayer, purpose.
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lessons.
Write the divisions of the books of the Bible and the name of each book in each division. Review any division you do not know well.
How would you explain the statement, “Christ is the central person of the Bible?”
Who do you think is the real source of the authority of Scripture? Describe how this is evident in biblical history.
Name at least three things the Word of God accomplishes that indicate its supernatural power.
Write several changes that the Bible has made in your life. Be specific.
Why do you need the Word of God? What steps will you take to be fully prepared for serious study of the Bible?
Begin a journal of what you are learning through your Bible study. Buy a small notebook and record:
Periodically review your journal to see how you are growing spiritually and to remind yourself of important lessons you have learned.
6. Obedience — The Key to Knowing God’s Will
1.Obedience The key to knowing God’s Will
Have you ever wondered what God’s will is for your life? Have you needed to make a difficult decision and wondered what God wanted you to do in that situation?
We all struggle with questions about our future. Questions like: How can I know God’s plan for my life? Which job should I take? Is this the person God wants me to marry? Is this a good investment to make? Should I share the gospel with my boss? You probably have questions you could add to that list.
The greatest discovery I have ever made concerning how to know the will of God involves the following:
Many Christians are trying so hard to discover the will of God that they lose the joy of the Lord and leave their first love for Him.
But all we need to do is abide in Christ, maintain our first love for Him, and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will be in the will of God. So as you continue to walk in the Spirit, He will guide you in making the most important decisions of life. He will also guide you in the daily, moment-by-moment decisions and actions of your life.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth…and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13). So the key to knowing God’s will is to be obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit of truth. If you are willing to trust and obey God and live a holy life, God will reveal Himself to you and direct your steps as a way of life.
Satan is the enemy of our soul. His mission is to keep us from being effective and fruitful in our witness. But although he wields great power, Satan can never defeat us if we are completely yielded and obedient to Christ
Some people are reluctant to trust God completely with their lives, fearing that He may want to make a change in their plans. Yes, He will change our plans. His plans are infinitely better than the very best we could ever conceive.
Is it not logical that the One who created us knows better than we the purpose for which we were created? And since He loves us enough to die for us, is it not logical to believe that His way is best (Romans 8:32)?
Obedience is the true test of our love for Christ and the secret to discovering God’s will for our life.
Disobedience of King Saul
Read I Samuel 15. What was God’s command to Saul through Samuel?
Describe how Saul rationalized his actions. Was his repentance sincere?
The main principle illustrated is stated in verse 22. What is it?What are some ways that Christians rationalize disobedience today?
Obedience of Paul
Read Acts 9:1-22. What was God’s command to Paul (here called Saul)?
How did he comply? Why was Paul’s obedience so important at this particular time?
How do you think Paul’s obedience illustrates the truth of the principle in I Samuel 15:22?
Obedience of Anannias
Read Acts 9:10-22. What was God’s command to Anannias?
What was Anannias’ reaction? How did he finally respond?
Why was his obedience so essential at this time?
How does his obedience indirectly influence you?
How would you have felt in Anannias’ place?
What is the most important thing this lesson teaches you about obedience?
What specific area of weakness in your life do you need to bring into obedience to Christ? What steps will you take to become obedient in this area?
2 Insincere Obedience
At a high school graduation recently, one student was heard to make these remarks: “Yeah, I finally made it. It’s a good thing, too. If I had blown it, my parents would have killed me!”
In contrast, during the ceremony one of the student speakers, an oriental girl who was a foreign exchange student declared through her tears, “I want to express my deepest appreciation to my parents for loving me and for giving me the opportunity to get an education in this great land. I want to do everything I can to show them how much I love them and to make them proud of me.”
What a difference in motivation between these students. The first obviously lived in fear of his parents, while the second understood and appreciated what her parents had done for her.
The epitaph of Amaziah, a king of Israel, reads, “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 25:2, NKJ). Obedience involves attitude, not merely outward actions. What is your motivation when you obey Christ? Do you serve Christ out of fear and self-serving ambition? Or from a loyal heart because you understand and appreciate God’s love and what He has done for you?
An Example of Insincere Obedience
Read Acts 4:32-5:11. At one time, Jerusalem Christians held goods as common property. Each Christian put his funds into a common treasury, which then supplied the needs of the Christian community. What made them willing to give up personal possessions (verse 32)?
One writer has said that many today view the local church as if it were a restaurant where all kinds of people meet for a short time, sit down together in the same room, then part, not knowing or caring anything about each other.
What is your estimation of the fellowship in our churches today compared with the fellowship of the Jerusalem Christians? What kind of attitude did the early Christians display?
Do you think this is true in your church? What can you do to improve the fellowship in your church?
When Barnabas sold his land, which was probably valuable, and gave the money to the church, no doubt other Christians praised his devotion. How do you think Barnabas’ action might have influenced Ananias and Sapphira?
What do you suppose motivated Ananias and Sapphira to sell their possessions and give money to the church? How did their motive differ from Barnabas’ motive?
Importance of our Christian Testimony
How can it be possible to study the Bible, share Christ with others, or attend Christian meetings, and yet be committing sin when you think you are pleasing God?
What did Christ say was wrong with the people of His day (Mark 7:6)?
Why is your heart attitude just as important to God as your outward action?
Attitude in Giving and Prayer
Each of us has a tendency to do things for the approval of our friends. When this desire becomes our sole motivation, our attitude is wrong. Think of a person you know who has a godly attitude toward giving.
How do his actions differ from those described in Matthew 6?
List some ways you can help keep your giving sincere.
Public prayer is not wrong in itself. when you pray aloud with others, to whom are you talking? How can you make your public prayers a testimony to how much you love God?
Read I Corinthians 13:1-3. In terms meaningful to you, paraphrase these three verses.
On the basis of this passage, what would you say is the relationship between love and sincere obedience? What action or activity in your life needs a change in motivation?
How do you expect that change to affect other people with whom you come in contact? How do you expect that change to affect your life?
3. Personal Purity
Few areas of life are more important than our relationship to the opposite sex, and few areas are so exposed to temptation.
Some time ago, my heart was grieved as I learned of a respected Christian leader who had fallen into a life of sin. He had obviously not intended to do so, but when the temptation came he gave in – and as a result his wife, his family, his friends, and fellow Christians suffered tremendous heartache.
Most tragically, his testimony and witness for the Lord Jesus Christ suffered untold damage, and the overall cause of our Lord was ridiculed and rejected by many because of his sin.
As Christians we are called to live lives that are holy. We are to set aside the evil ways of the world and honor Christ by living in faithful obedience to His commandments.
God’s Word tells us, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
As you study this lesson, consider these principles:
Immorality originates in the mind, and God must give us victory there by His Holy Spirit.
The Bible gives a healthy outlook on sex. God’s Word teaches that the sexual relationship can be a source of enjoyment and blessing when confined to the proper area – marriage. The Bible never pictures sex as sinful, distasteful, or dirty. Just as fire may be a great boon to man but can bring havoc when used improperly, so sex is a great blessing, but can ruin a life when abusively indulged.
Our gracious God forgives and cleanses in this area as He does in all others, so that we need carry no unnecessary load of guilt. David repented of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. He said, “I acknowledge my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
In all our conduct toward the opposite sex, we must set the highest example and give no occasion for others to doubt our testimony.
Purity and the Mind
What does God say of impure thought? (Matthew 5:27-28)
List the things on which we are to think. (Philippians 4:8) Why does the human mind not want to think on these things? (Romans 8:7)
What are some things in our modern lives and homes that naturally lead to impure thoughts? How do we gain victory over impure thoughts? (Galatians 5:16)
What can we do to avoid impure thoughts? (Romans 13:14, II Timothy 2:22)
Apply these verses to the things you listed above. How will you handle each temptation?
Note: Temptation in the thought life is not the same as sin. Evil thoughts may pass through the mind, but sin comes from dwelling on the thought.
Purity and the Opposite Sex
What does the Bible say about the sexual relationship in its proper place? (Hebrews 13:4)
When tempted by immorality, what is the Christian to do? (I Corinthians 6:18)
List some things you can be certain will help you when you are tempted. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Write in your own words the warnings against immorality in the following scriptures:Proverbs 6:26, Proverbs 6:32, I Thessalonians 4:3-8
Purity and Forgiveness
Write in your own words what the following verses say about God’s forgiveness:Psalm 103:12, Isaiah 43:25, I John 2:1-2
What must we do to obtain God’s forgiveness? (I John 1:9)
What area of impurity in your life do you need to face and deal with?
What are you doing or have around you that increases the temptation?
Choose an appropriate verse or passage from this lesson, apply it to your situation, and write the result you expect to attain.
4. No Matter What Others Think
William Carey, an impoverished English shoemaker born late in the 18th century, had to overcome great odds to obey the call of God to become a missionary in India. In opposition to his work, the Directors of the huge, influential East India Company presented this resolution to the English Parliament:
The sending out of missionaries into one Eastern possession is the maddest, most extravagant, most costly, most indefensible project which has ever been suggested by a moonstruck fanatic.Then in 1796, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed the following resolution:
To spread the knowledge of the gospel amongst barbarians and heathens seems to be highly preposterous.One opposer – a speaker in the House of Commons – said he would rather see a band of devils let loose in India than a band of missionaries.
But despite all this antagonism, Carey persisted. “Why is my soul disquieted within me?” he wrote. “Things may turn out better than I expect. Everything is known to God, and God cares.”
William Carey stood the test and became the father of modern missions.
A sincere, committed Christian will always take his stand for Christ regardless of opposition, popular opinion, or peer pressure. If we yield to the fear of man, Satan may ruin our testimony substantially. If we obey the leading of the Spirit of God, men and women will be won to Christ.
I encourage you to take your stand for Christ and be a fruitful witness for Him no matter what others think.
Read Matthew 26:57-75 carefully. Peter knew and loved Christ in his heart, but when it came time to openly identify himself as a follower of Christ, what did he do (verse 58)?
Note the contrasts between Christ and Peter:
Some have said that Christ’s teachings are only for weaklings, cowards, neurotics, and those who need some kind of crutch. As you look at the examples here of Christ and Peter, how would you evaluate such a statement?
Describe what Jesus’ example means to you in facing your peer pressures.
After Christ’s resurrection, what did the angel announce to the women in Mark 16:7? Why did the angel single out Peter’s name from all the rest?
Upon what basis can Christ restore you even though you have denied Him?
Less than two months later at Pentecost, Peter stood up from among the disciples to give a bold defense of the Christian faith to a ridiculing crowd (Acts 2:13-15).What shocking thing did Peter fearlessly tell the crowd (Acts 2:36)?
What made this dramatic difference in Peter’s life (Acts 1:8, 4:8)? And what resulted (Acts 2:37-41)?
Compare the actions of the disciples during the crucifixion (Luke 22:47-62, 23:49; Matthew 26:56) and during this account in Acts. What part does Christian fellowship and unity play in standing up to peer pressure?
How do you think having natural courage and boldness compares to being filled with the Holy Spirit?
Write Proverbs 29:25 down in your own words.
If we know and love Christ in our hearts, why must we also take a bold and open stand for Him (Matthew 4:19, 10:32, 16:24)? How do these verses relate to your present attitudes?
To whom do you particularly need to confess Christ and take a bold stand for Him (Romans 10:13-15)? Why?
5.Taming the Tongue
We’ve all met people with a sharp, critical tongue. Picture this scene. A couple from your Bible study group are having problems, and they have chosen to confide in you.
The man is big, a real outdoorsman, and works hard on a construction job. The wife is petite and frail. But she is as skilled with her tongue as David was with his slingshot against Goliath.
You’re not with them long until the man bristles at his wife’s verbal jabs.
“I just can’t stand it when Karen puts me down in such a sarcastic way!” he complains.
“Oh, great big Mac,” she digs, “can’t take care of himself!”
Mac purses his lips and shakes his head. “I don’t think I can take this much longer. I love my wife, but she’s killing me with her tongue!”
Often the hostility in our hearts reveals itself through our words and actions. The word “tongue” is mentioned ninety-three times in the Bible, often referring to its destructive power:
The lash of the tongue (Job 5:21).Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty (Job 15:5).
Though evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue (Job 20:12).
A deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
Their tongue is a deadly arrow (Jeremiah 9:8).
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (James 3:6).
No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8).
James goes on to say, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9,10).
Few things are more self-contaminating than poisoned words that spring from the depths of a bitter heart.
If we are to please God and maintain a testimony that brings glory to our Lord, we must learn to control what we say. James says, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26). How often through an unkind word have we borne unfaithful witness to God’s love and forgiveness!
A Test of Love
A test of our love for God comes in the manner of our speech. Can we say with the psalmist, “His praise was on my tongue” (Psalm 66:17), “My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long” (Psalm 71:24), or “May my tongue sing of your word” (Psalm 119:172)?
Will we follow the wisdom of Solomon who said, “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18) and “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4)?
And can we say with Samuel, “His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2)?
The words of Peter hold good advice for us today: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech” (1 Peter 3:10).
This takes self-control.
Key to Self-Control
Self-control is vital to a fruitful Christian life. After counseling with thousands of people through the years, I am convinced that an undisciplined Christian cannot live a victorious, abundant life or be an effective witness.
The key to self-control is being filled with the Holy Spirit. The reason most of us fail in self-control is that we try to do it in our own strength. You and I know from experience that, apart from God, self-discipline in our tongue is impossible. But “when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace,…self-control” (Galatians 5:22, TLB).
We must develop and exercise self-control through daily dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit. I encourage you to study this lesson carefully. Prayerfully apply the principles you will learn to your everyday life, and invite the Holy Spirit to take control of your tongue that you may bring blessing to those around you and be a fruitful witness.
Effects of the Tongue
Read James 3:1-13. Though we may study our Bibles faithfully, attend Christian meetings regularly, and even talk to our friends about Christ, one thing marks us as really mature Christians. What is it?
When you control your tongue, what else will happen (verse 2)?
James compares a wicked tongue to an incorrectly handled steering mechanism on a ship. What would happen if the ship were an oil tanker in rocky water? How does this relate to the damage of “spilled” words?
What does it take to start a forest fire in a drought? What does it take to put out a forest fire? What damage can be caused by just a few words of gossip that you pass on?
Give an example from your own life in which you suffered from the “fire” of someone’s destructive words. How did you respond? How would you respond today? Why?
Sins of the Tongue
Name the sins of the tongue that are condemned in the following references in Proverbs 6:16-19; 11:13; 15:1; 17:9; 27:2. Give examples of how you may have been hurt by or how you may have offended another in each of these areas.
Read Ephesians 4:29.How does this apply to profanity, obscene language, off-color jokes, and so on. What else can you name that could be included here? What does this verse say we should do instead?
Significance of the Tongue
Read Matthew 12:33-37. For what shall we give an account to God?
What illustration does Christ use to explain good and bad words, and how does He apply it?
What is the real source of an evil tongue? How does this relate to attitude?
What is the only solution to taming the tongue for the believer? (Galatians 5:16)
How will you obey the instructions indicated in James 1:19 in your own life?
How about James 1:26?
Think about the attitudes expressed through your words in the past week. Ask yourself these questions, and answer them honestly.What attitude do I need to confess and make right with God? To whom do I need to go and ask forgiveness because he or she has been affected by my words?
6.The Key to Inner Security
Obedience to our Lord in every facet of our lives is the key to inner security and experiencing the presence of Christ.
I recall one wealthy and influential businessman in California who sacrificed everything he had to care for his dying wife. Eventually he spent his fortune seeking to find a cure for her disease.
By the time I learned of their situation, they had lost their entire fortune including their palatial home. They were living in modest circumstances in a little trailer on a parking lot in Hollywood.
I went to see them with fear and trembling. How in the world could I, a healthy, young Christian businessman, identify with this poverty-stricken husband? He had already lost his large fortune and was about to lose his most precious friend and mate of nearly forty years.
The trailer was neat as a pin. When I stepped into their humble home, it was as though I were entering a corner of heaven. There, sitting beside his dying wife, was this man holding her hand. Both of them had radiant faces. The joy of the Lord filled the place.
I had come to minister to them, but they ministered to me instead. They were trusting God with their lives. Like Job, they were saying of their Lord, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope (trust) in him…” (Job 13:15).
I will always remember the peace of heart and mind that this couple enjoyed because they had learned to trust and obey the will and ways of God even in the midst of tragedy.
Many people hope to find security in their possessions when only a right relationship with God can bring abundant life.
Through the years, I have become increasingly convinced that there are no unhappy obedient Christians. Furthermore, I have never met a person living a disobedient life who can honestly say that he is happy.
I have observed many Christians like the businessman and his dying wife, however, who have found peace and blessing in tough times because they were walking with God in faith and obedience.
We can find no lasting security in a life apart from God as the Lord of our lives. God alone is the owner of all that we possess and the total source of our supply.
Are you experiencing the joy of Christ in your life? His love? His peace? The sense of His direction? If not, could it be that you are not obeying His commands?
When you withhold the resources that God has entrusted to you for His work, He has little with which to bless you, and your life becomes unfruitful and unhappy.
We are not our own anymore; we have been bought with a price, the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-20).
Giving Him control of our time, talents, and treasure is our way of expressing gratitude to our great and glorious God and Father for all that He has done to fill us with His presence.
The Rich Fool
Read Luke 12:13-34. What was foremost on the mind of the man in verse 13?
Why did Jesus deny his request? In light of this, why do you think He denies some of our requests?
Why was the man in the parable a fool? How do people today make the same mistakes this man made?
Name some illustrations Jesus used in verses 24-28 to show the uselessness of worrying about material things.
Give some examples from recent events that show how true verse 34 is. How does this parable help you put your priorities in order?
A Follower of Christ
Read Philippians 4:10-19. How did Paul react to the lack of money?
Where did Paul obtain the strength to face adverse circumstances?
Is it easier for you to handle humble circumstances or prosperity? Why?
How does having your priorities straight affect material changes in your life — whether for the better or worse?
Study verse 19. Why do you think God promises to supply our needs, but not necessarily our desires?
Read I Timothy 6:17-19. How do these verses compare with the world’s view? Be specific.
Against what things did Paul warn the rich in Philippians 4:10-19? What did he exhort them to do?
How would your obedience to these verses affect relationships in the following: Your family, church, neighborhood.
In your own words, describe what Jesus Christ did for us according to II Corinthians 8:9.
Read II Corinthians 9:7-8. Because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, we should be willing to invest part of our income in His work. When we give toward His work, that should our attitude be? (verse 7)
Note the use of the word all and every in verse 8. Why can you be cheerful even though you may give sacrificially to God’s work? When have you done this, and what has been the result?
Think about the circumstances of your life. What part do they play in your search for security?
In which areas of your life do you feel greedy or materialistic? How have these affected your spiritual well-being?
List your most important possessions. Prayerfully yield each one to God. Then write down one way you can show that it belongs to Him.
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lesson (s).
Complete the following statements:True obedience to God is not…True obedience to God really is…
How is your obedience expressed in the following:Your attitude toward God’s will?The sexual purity of your life?The degree of satisfaction you find in your possessions?Your courage in witnessing for Christ?Your speech?The true motivation for your actions?
Describe the result of a young child’s obedience to his parents. Compare it to a Christian’s relationship with his Heavenly Father.
How has your obedience to God benefited your life?
List the area from this study that concerns you the most.
Review the verses that pertain to that area, then write down at least three ways you can grow in that area.
Commit this area to the Lord. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and to help you grow in this area. Write down any comments after your prayer.
7. The Christian and Witnessing
1. Why We Witness
“I think a man’s religion is so personal we shouldn’t discuss it.”
“I don’t like people who are dogmatic and fanatical about religion. They try to force their views on everybody they meet.”
“Well, I have my own religion, and I’m happy with it.”
Perhaps you have heard comments like these from someone you know. Or even made them yourself before you became a believer.
During approximately fifty years of sharing Christ and training others to do the same, I have found no biblical rationale to justify fearing those responses as a reason for not witnessing.
In fact, the need for people to hear the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness is a matter of life and death. The writer of Ecclesiastes observes:
Death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
Man’s self-will is characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference. Because of sin, he is by nature degenerate and corrupt, destitute of God’s love, undeserving of His forgiveness, and so destined to death – eternal separation from God. But Christ does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
He placed such a high value on the human soul that He personally gladly exchanged the perfection of heaven for a life of poverty, suffering, shame, and death to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10).
From His earliest youth and throughout His life, Jesus clearly understood His mission and purpose. His concern for the lost was so deep that at times the flood of compassionate tears rolled down His face. Jesus, the manliest of men, wept. Similarly, Paul pleaded night and day with everyone who would listen to be reconciled to God.
Since then, people of every century and many walks of life have had a heart of compassion for those who are living apart from God. Great spiritual leaders such as John Wesley, D. L. Moody, and Billy Graham dedicated their lives to reaching people with the message of hope.
When one young missionary who had been sent home because of illness was asked why he was so eager to get back to his people, he said, “Because I cannot sleep for thinking about them.”
Our Lord has commissioned each of us to share the Good News and “seek the lost.” He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations”; and “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). It is our greatest calling, then, to share the love and forgiveness He has given us with those who have never received Him as their Savior and Lord.
From my personal experiences and studies of God’s Word, five key concepts have been made clear to me – concepts that impact the lives of every Christian.
Christ has given a clear command to every Christian.Jesus Christ’s last command to the Christian community was to make disciples. This command, which the church calls the Great Commission, was not intended merely for the eleven remaining disciples, or just for the apostles, or for those in present times who may have the gift of evangelism. This command is the responsibility of every man and woman who professes faith in Christ as Lord.
Men and women are lost without Jesus Christ.Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6). God’s Word also reminds us, “There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them” (Acts 4:12, TLB).
Men and women are truly lost without Jesus Christ. He is the only way to bridge the gap between man and God. Without Him, people cannot know God and have no hope of eternal life.
Rather than being “not interested,” the people of the world are truly hungry for the gospel.One of the greatest misconceptions held by Christians today is that men and women do not want to know God. But wherever I go around the world, I find ample proof that just the opposite is true. The Holy Spirit has created a hunger for God in the hearts of millions.
I have discovered that at least 25 to 50 percent of nonbelievers are ready to receive Christ in most parts of the world if properly approached, one on one, by a trained Spirit-empowered witness. And I believe that among that number may be some of your own family members, a neighbor or a co-worker, or a person you do not yet know to whom God may lead you. They are ready to hear a clear and simple presentation of the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness.
Jesus said, “The fields are ripe unto harvest.” Can we afford to be selfish with the gospel when such overwhelming evidence shows that so many people are hungry for God? By sharing our faith in Christ with others, we can help change our world for our Lord.
We Christians have in our possession the greatest gift available to mankind: God’s gift of eternal life, which we received with Jesus Christ at our spiritual birth (John 3:16).Christ is risen! We serve a living Savior! He not only lives within us in all His resurrection power, but He also has assured us of eternal life. He died on the cross in our place for our sin, then rose from the dead. We have direct fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. And this fellowship, this peace, this gift of eternal life, is available to all who receive Him.
The love of Jesus Christ for us, and our love for Him, compels us to share Him with others.Jesus said, “The one who obeys me is the one who loves me…” (John 14:21, TLB). In other words, He measures our love for Him by the extent and genuineness of our obedience to Him. As we obey, He promises He will reveal Himself to us.
Because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him (John 14:21, TLB). What are we to obey? When it comes to witnessing, we have the specific commandment from Jesus Christ to go into all the world with the Good News.
Helping to fulfill the Great Commission is both a duty and a privilege. We witness because we love Christ. We witness because He loves us. We witness because we want to honor and obey Him. We witness because He gives us a special love for others.
God wants you to witness because of the benefits He offers to those who receive Christ:
The Holy Spirit came to provide the power for you to do so (Acts 1:8). Wouldn’t you like to share with someone else the most valuable thing you have?
All over the world, I have asked two questions of Christians, young and old, rich and poor, new Christians and people who have been believers for more than half a century. I have asked these questions also of some of the most famous Christians in the world. The answers are always the same, no matter who I ask.
What is the most important experience of your life?“Knowing Christ as my Savior.”
What is the most important thing you can do for another person?“Help him or her to know Christ.”
If you are a Christian, you undoubtedly would give the same answers to these questions. Yet if you are like the majority of Christians today, you have never introduced anyone to Christ. But you would like to do so, and you know in your heart that this is what God called you to do.
What is a Witness?
The Motivation for Witnessing
2.Jesus Shows How to Witness
Many devout Christians fail miserably in their efforts to introduce others to Christ simply because they do not know how to go about it.
Knowing how to share your faith often makes the difference between effective and ineffective witnessing. Before you can introduce others to Christ, you must:
In this lesson we will observe Christ’s example in witnessing. Jesus demonstrated how to witness in the most effective manner as He talked to the woman of Samaria. Study John 4 carefully to discover new approaches and techniques of witnessing.
Example of Jesus
Responses of the Samaritan Woman
Sometimes witnessing can seem like breaking a sound barrier, like when an airplane accelerates to supersonic speed. Introducing the subject of Jesus can produce much stress and nervousness.
The first sound barrier occurs when we first mention the name of Jesus Christ and the value of knowing Him. Once we turn the conversation from dating, fashions, politics, work, sports, or any other topic to spiritual things, we have broken the first barrier. It is sometimes hard to do, and it does not always come easily.
The second sound barrier comes when we present the gospel. That nervous feeling returns once again. We must blast through this one also because many people, when they understand who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them, will want Him in their lives.
The last barrier, asking the person to receive Christ right now, is the most difficult. But this is the most important step. Often we tell the person how to become a Christian and then just leave him high and dry. Until we ask the person to trust Christ as his or her Savior and Lord, our witness is not complete.
3. Qualifications for Witnessing
Personal preparation is the key to becoming a successful witness.
The first step is to be sure that you yourself are a Christian. Commit your entire person – your intellect, your emotions, your will – to Him and receive the gift of God’s love and forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The second step is to be sure there is no unconfessed sin in your life. If some sinful attitude or action is hindering your fellowship with God, He cannot live through you, and you will not be a joyful Christian or a fruitful witness for Christ.
The third step is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. To be fruitful in your witness for Christ, you must appropriate by faith the fullness of God’s Spirit. Invite the Holy Spirit to control and empower you – to enable you to live a holy, godly life by faith and to make you a fruitful witness for Him.
The fourth step is to be prepared to communicate your faith in Christ. Keeping Christ on the throne of your life as the Lord of your heart is the best preparation for communicating your faith.
Carefully study the eighth chapter of Acts. List the qualifications for witnessing. Ask the Holy Spirit to make these qualities real in your own life.
Philip demonstrated at least eight qualities that contributed to his effectiveness for Christ. Notice these qualities:
Possible Hindrances to Our Witnessing
After each of the following hinderances, describe how it affects your witnessing:
4. Witnessing and the Word of God
When the early Christians received the power of the Holy spirit at Pentecost, the news spread quickly throughout Jerusalem, and a large crowd gathered, seeking the meaning of this phenomenon. Peter, under the control and in the power of the Holy Spirit, addressed the inquisitive crowd.
Who were these people? Some had been present at the crucifixion earlier and had cried, “Crucify Him” and, “Let his blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:22, 25). Possibly some in the front row were those before whom Peter had used profanity when he denied Christ (Matthew 26:73,74).
Under these fearful circumstances, Peter’s resources had to be God’s Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. The purpose of this lesson is to demonstrate the use of the Word of God in witnessing, and its results.
Read Acts 2.
The Crowd’s Response
The Power of the Word
The Value of Scripture Memorization
Committing portions of Scripture to memory is the best way to know the Word of God, and as a result, to know Christ. Also, by having the promises and commands of the Word memorized, we can apply them to any life situation at a moment’s notice, especially when we want to use them in an unexpected witnessing opportunity.
5. Witnessing and Prayer
Do you want your loved ones, your friends, and neighbors to come to Christ? Begin to claim them for God as you pray. Follow the example of our Lord, our High Priest, whose prayer is recorded in John 17:20: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”
Just as Jesus prayed that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of His disciples, so we can pray that the Holy Spirit will convict non-believers and give them a strong desire to know God. Paul and other writers of the New Testament were frequently requesting prayer for others as well as for themselves.
Although God wants everyone to come to repentance, He chooses to wait for the prayers of a concerned believer to release the Holy Spirit in that person’s heart. In our efforts to lead people to Christ, we must first talk to God about men, then talk to men about God. If we follow this divine order, we will see results.
Since it is God’s will that none should perish, and since God promises to answer any prayer offered in accordance with His will (I John 5:14-15), we can know with assurance that God will answer our prayers for the salvation of souls for whom he has impressed us to pray (Philippians 2:13).
Prayer is really the place where people are won to Christ; sharing the Good News is just gathering in the fruit.
The aim of this lesson is to demonstrate that prayer played a major part in the witness of the early church.
What the Early Christians Prayed For
The Answer to Their Prayer
The Christian’s Opposition
Continue praying without ceasing, but instead of begging and pleading with God, thank and praise Him by faith that He is going to answer your prayer in His perfect timing.
6. Witnessing and the Holy Spirit
When you talk about Jesus, expect God to use you. The Lord Jesus promised His supernatural resources to all who join with Him in helping to fulfill the Great Commission.
You are assured of that same resurrection power and presence today through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord honors the faithful witness of all who place their trust in Him.
Self-consciousness and fear of what others will say, however, will hinder our witness. Stephen was a table waiter (Acts 6:2-5), not an apostle. He was brought before the most wicked opponents of Christianity. He could have retreated because he felt inadequate to face these people, but he yielded to the Holy Spirit’s control of his life. As a result, his faithfulness to Christ, even to accepting death by stoning, mightily moved the unbelievers and laid the basis for Saul’s conversion.
Work of the Holy Spirit in a Believer’s Life
Work of the Holy Spirit in Witnessing
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lessons.
Write a three-minute testimony of your personal experience with Christ. Briefly share three things:
Begin a prayer diary listing those whom God has laid on your heart to share your faith in Christ. Record:
8. The Christian and Giving
1. God’s Ownership Over All
As Christian stewards we must realize that in Christ “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). In this lesson, you will see the basis of God’s claim on your life.
Jesus Christ created us (Colossians 1:16). He bought us with His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18,19). And God anointed Him as our Lord (Ephesians 1:20-23; Acts 10:36; Romans 10:12). Thus, the whole of our life – our personality, influence, material substance, everything – is His, even our success.
The Bible tells us that since Christ died for us, “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Not to acknowledge and act upon God’s total ownership of everything we are, have, and will be is to rob ourselves of His blessing and make ourselves unfit for His service (2 Timothy 2:15,16,19-21).
Creation and Fall of Man
2. Examples of Perfect Giving
Giving began with God. His supernatural expression of giving was in the sacrifice of his only begotten Son that we might receive forgiveness for our sins, become children of God, and enjoy eternal life.
God continues to give of Himself today in love, forgiveness, peace, power, and purpose. By this He enables us to live full, meaningful lives.
Giving was the lifestyle of our Lord Jesus. A concise description of his lifestyle appears in the Book of Acts, which records, “He went around doing good” (Acts 10:38). Jesus gave in feeding the multitudes. He gave in healing the sick. He gave in teaching His disciples. He gave in empowering His disciples for evangelism. He gave in compassion for the poor. He gave in offering rest to the weary. He gave in dying on the cross for our sins. He gave in sending His Holy Spirit.
Giving is also an attribute of the Holy Spirit. He strengthens and encourages us (Acts 9:31), renews us (Titus 3:5), reveals things to us (Luke 2:26), and helps us (John 14:6, NASB). He leads and guides us (Luke 4:1; Acts 13:2,4; John 16:13), brings the love of God to us (Romans 5:5), teaches us (Luke 12:12; John 14:26), and empowers us (Acts 1:8; 4:31).
Nowhere can we find more perfect models of stewardship than in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As you study this lesson, prayerfully consider how you can apply their examples to your life.
Stewardship of God the Father
Stewardship of God the Son
Stewardship of God the Holy Spirit
3. Stewardship of Our Time
Does the principle of tithing apply equally to our time as it does to our money?
How much of our time should we set aside for the work of the Lord each week?
How are you using the time God has given you?
Time is the heritage of every person. Whether a king or street sweeper, an astronomer or truck driver, a business tycoon or grocery clerk, each of us has the same number of hours.
Many necessities and opportunities demand much of our day. Our work takes up a large percentage of our life. Being a good husband or wife, father or mother, employer or employee requires time.
As Christians, we have spiritual priorities as well. How many hours or days in a month should we set aside for evangelism and discipleship and the ministries of our church? What about caring for the poor, the orphans, and widows as God’s Word commands (James 1:27; Galatians 2:10)?
With all these tasks competing for our time, how can we balance our responsibilities to fulfill our temporal and spiritual duties?
As a good steward, you must manage your time wisely. Let me suggest a way to accomplish this task that Christians seldom consider today – tithing your time.
Tithing reflects a thankful, obedient attitude and acknowledges God as the source and owner of all that we possess. A voluntary act of worship, tithing teaches us to put God first. A faithful steward serves because he has such a heart for God. As we have seen, everything we have is a gift from God. Every second of every minute, every minute of every hour, twenty-four hours a day belong to Him. Although God’s Word does not specifically require us to tithe our time, our Lord did command us to put Him first in all things (Matthew 6:31-33). Giving back a percentage of our time enables us to give God priority and assurance that we will fulfill our service to Him.
Right Attitude About Time
Right Relationship with God
Most Important Use of Time
Keeping track of how you spend your day can be of great value in evaluating the stewardship of your time. Record the number of hours spent on business, class, sleep, Christian service, recreation, etc. Place the total hours per week used in each activity below.
Stewardship of Time
Determine what blocks of time are wasteful. How could you use them to serve the Lord?
List ways to tithe your time that can be worked into your schedule.
4. Stewardship of Our Bodies
Some time ago, my heart grieved as I learned of a respected Christian leader who had fallen into a life of sin. He had obviously not intended to do so, but when the temptation came, he yielded. As a result, his wife, his family, his friends, and fellow Christians suffered heartache. Most tragically, his testimony and witness for the Lord Jesus has suffered untold damage. Many have ridiculed and rejected the cause of Christ because of his sin.
Since God wants us to live a holy life, the enemy seeks to entrap us in sin and defeat. One of Satan’s methods is to tempt us to misuse our bodies.
But God created our bodies for His glory. By surrendering them to Him, He can use us to further His kingdom and help us grow in our faith.
This study will help you understand the importance of giving control of your body to God. You will also discover danger areas in using your physical self and how to help further the cause of Christ with different parts of your body.
The Spirit and the Body
Individual Parts of the Body
5. Stewardship of Our Talents & Gifts
God created us with a great variety of talents. You may be able to run a marathon, organize a group meeting, teach, or write. Your skill may be typing, photography, or painting. Perhaps you sing or play a musical instrument. Maybe you are a carpenter, landscaper, engineer, mechanic, or bookkeeper. Each of us has a unique function to perform in life and in the Body of Christ.
The Bible refers to the church as the Body of Christ with Christ as its Head (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:23). Just as your body has many specialized parts, each with its own function, so the church is composed of many individuals, each with his own special function to perform – and contribution to make – to the rest of the Body. I encourage you to identify your talents, and ask God to show you how to use them for His glory.
Every Christian possesses both natural talents and spiritual gifts. Our natural abilities come to us at physical birth and are developed through life. Our spiritual gifts are imparted by the Holy Spirit, enabling us to minister to others in behalf of Christ.
Follow these steps to more fully understand your part in the Body of Christ:
Seek to develop your gifts in the power of the Holy Spirit. Realize that you may have other gifts of which you are not presently aware, so excercise various gifts. Be aware that you are accountable to God for stewardship of your spiritual gifts.
6. Stewardship of Our Possessions
One afternoon, Grandpa Clark strode into his house, pockets bulging with treats for his grandchildren. As he settled into his creaking rocker, the children clamored around him with expectant faces, each pushing and shoving to be the first to see what Grandpa had brought them.
The gray-haired man dug deep into his pockets and pulled out a fistful of candy, handing each child a favorite treat. When he finished, he leaned back in his rocker with a smile of contentment to watch them tear at the wrappings.
On his left, two jealous brothers argued over whose flavor of Lifesavers tasted better. Another child sat at his feet munching a candy bar. Suddenly, a tiny red-haired sweetheart patted her grandpa on the arm. Concern furrowed her brow.
“Would you like some of my M&Ms, Grandpa?” she asked with sad, shy eyes. “You don’t have anything.”
Grandpa Clark peered down at his only granddaughter and grinned. Gently, he gathered her dainty form into his lap. “Why, you haven’t even opened your candy,” he observed.
She stared into his eyes with a frank expression. “Cause I want you to have the first one.”
“Why, thank you, I think I will,” he smiled, carefully opening her little package. With relish, he removed a couple of colored candies and popped them into his mouth. Then he wrapped his arms tightly around her, engulfing her happy face.
This story clearly illustrates tithing – giving back to God the first part of what He has given us.
As you recall, the word tithe comes from a Greek term simply meaning the tenth. Godly principles underlay this practice. Tithing accomplishes the following:
Tithing performs a role entirely different from that of mere giving, which suggests that we own all that we possess. Through tithing we acknowledge that God created our increase. As stewards of what God entrusted to us, we set aside a proportion to use for the cause of Christ. We never consider any part of our possessions to be our exclusive property but prayerfully tithe on the entire amount.
“The purpose of tithing,” we have learned, “is to teach you always to put God first in your lives” (Deuteronomy 14:23, TLB). God does not honor a gift that comes from leftovers. He requires the first and the best of our increase (Exodus 22:29,30; Proverbs 3:9,10). Tithing ensures this.
Ten percent, an Old Testament measure for giving, is a good beginning point for a faithful and dedicated steward. And though we are not under the Law but under grace, as Dr. J. B. Gabrell declared, “It is unthinkable from the standpoint of the cross that anyone would give less under grace than the Jews gave under law.”
Measuring their giving by the grace of the cross and not by the legalism of the Law, the early Christians did not limit themselves to the tithe. They gave much more. And they gave in the Spirit of Christ, as a demonstration of His pre-eminence in their lives, to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Money — The Old Testament Standard
Money — The New Testament Standard
God’s Priority for Missions
7. Trusting God for Our Finances
Changing economic conditions exemplify the instability of finances throughout the world. Instead of placing their trust in the Lord who promised to meet all of their needs, most Christians trust in their investments, savings, and retirement plans to ensure security and happiness – only to find their hopes dashed when financial reverses deplete their assets. Many are wasting their lives trying to achieve financial security in a volatile world.
Our heavenly Father, on the other hand, wants us to enjoy a full, abundant life free from the cares and stresses brought by confidence in money and other material possessions. Rather than trusting in a worldly system that cannot assure our welfare or relying on our own weak capabilities to provide for our needs, He calls us to depend entirely on Him.
Permit me to suggest a plan that will help you release your faith in God and develop your trust in Him for your finances.
Recognize That God is Worthy of Our Trust
Realize That God Wants You to Live a Full and Abundant Life
Substitute Faith for Fear
Ask God to Supply Your Needs
Keep your Heart & Motives Pure
Take a Step of Faith
8. Our Accountability to God
Many Christians miss the special blessing of God because they do not obey our Lord’s command recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value, and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in heaven your heart will be there too” (Matthew 6:19-21, TLB).
Jesus knew that by storing up treasures on earth, we would soon take on the appearance of the world. Through selfish desires, we would cease to reflect the character of God and seek our own glory. By laying up treasures in heaven, on the other hand, we would declare the glory of His kingdom.
Everything we do to bring men and women into the kingdom of God, every act of kindness, every expression of love is laying up treasure in God’s storehouse. We give out of love for God and gratitude for His love and sacrifice for us through the gift of His only begotten Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
God will hold us accountable for our motivation in giving and for our faithful obedience to our Lord’s command to help fulfill the Great Commission and so reach the world for Christ. The apostle Paul wrote:
We will all stand before God’s judgment seat. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:10,12).
Relating the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus said:
There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, “What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management…” (Luke 16:1,2).
God considers “An immortal soul beyond all price. There is no trouble too great, no humiliation too deep, no suffering too severe, no love too strong, no labor too hard, no expense too large, but that it is worth it, if it is spent in the effort to win a soul.”
As faithful stewards, our primary financial responsibility is to help worthy ministries reach the largest possible number of people for Christ. We are accountable to our Lord’s last command before He ascended into heaven to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
The Christian at Christ’s Coming
The Time of Christ’s Coming
The Earth at Christ’s Coming
Preparing for Christ’s Coming
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lessons from your saved notes.
9: Exploring the Old Testament