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FOLLOWING  CHRIST

A Discipleship Training Manual

for New Christians

 

 

By  Jeff Stevens

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1.       SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST

2.       GETTING STARTED                                                                

3.       LIVING FOR CHRIST                                                                   

           1   Be baptized

 

           2   Read the Bible daily  

 

           3   Pray daily                       

          

           4   Depend on the Holy Spirit

 

           5   Attend church regularly         

              

           6   Be of service to others         

             

           7   Conquer your doubts               

     

           8   Live one day at a time

 

           9   Learn the blessing of suffering    

               

         10   Deal with temptation             

           

         11   Be holy                      

                             

         12   Tell others about Christ     

                                    

4.       HOW TO TELL OTHERS ABOUT CHRIST                                                                

5.       BIBLE STUDY FOR NEW CHRISTIANS

A.  KNOWING CHRIST                                                                                   

1   Salvation                                       

2   Assurance                            

3   Total commitment to Jesus Christ                 

4   The Bible                                 

5   Prayer                                        

6   The Holy Spirit in you    

                                   

B.  MAJOR THEMES IN THE BIBLE               

1   Creation

2   Sin and the fall of man                         

3   The Flood                                

4   The Ten Commandments                       

5   The Church                                  

6   The Second Coming of Christ                  

            7     Eternal life                      
 

SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST

The Bible says that we are born in sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12-14), and therefore fall short of God’s glory (what God intended man to be). (Romans 3:23). This puts us under God’s condemnation. In order to avoid the wrath of God, a perfect sacrifice is required so that our sins may be forgiven. Such a perfect sacrifice is not found in any religious practice anywhere; it is found only in the perfect and sinless Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:10-12). Thus Christ died on the cross to take away the sins of the world. Christ offered Himself so that we can receive the free gift of salvation.

Religion is commonly regarded as an activity that begins with man. It is often defined as man’s search for God. But the Bible rules that out, because man is spiritually dead due to his sinful nature. Thus, salvation (deliverance from sin and its consequences) is found only in Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:12). Jesus said of Himself:

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Before we received God’s gift of salvation we were under God’s condemnation because of sin, destined for hell, but when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are “saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9). Not only are we saved from eternal wrath (separation from God); we are saved to eternal life.

Therefore, our only way to heaven is through Christ. The Name Jesus means The LORD (Yahweh) saves,” and we read in Matthew 1:21 that He was given this name “because He will save His people from their sins.”

Therefore, to receive God’s free gift of salvation, we must:

1.  Recognise that we are sinners and recognize God’s plan of salvation. The Bible says:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

No matter how good or moral we are, we fall short of God’s standard because of our sin nature. The Bible states:

“There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10); and

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

So we must admit we are sinners, acknowledge our need for a Savior, and turn to Christ by faith (faith is the substance of the very things we hope for when we don’t yet see the evidence of it).

2   Realize our problem of separation from God due to our sin, and recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. This takes faith. The Bible states:

“God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8); and,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

3   Respond to God by repenting of our sin of unbelief. Repent begins with a change our attitude towards Christ and leads to a new direction in our life. Instead of going our own way, we now follow the way which Christ.

Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no-one comes to the Father, except through Me.” (John 14:6)

4   Receive Jesus Christ into our lives. By faith accept God’s plan of salvation. The Bible says:

“Everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” (Romans 10:13); and …

“To all who receive Him, to those who believe in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12); and …

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” (John 3:36)

If you have not yet received God’s free gift of Salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, then pray expressing your faith in the Lord Jesus, and commit your life to Him.

SUGGESTED PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross to pay the penalty of my sins. I turn from my sins and past life, and will follow You from this day on. I ask You to come into my life. I trust You to save me, and by Your grace I will follow You as my Saviour and Lord. Thank You for loving me so much, and that You were willing to suffer and die for me. I pray this believing in Your precious and holy Name. Amen.

 

GETTING STARTED

If you have expressed your faith in Christ, and have received Him as your Saviour, you are now a believer, and a child of God.  And this has been the greatest decision of your life. What this means is that you are born again; you are born from above.

And the Bible says that when you become a child of God, there is great rejoicing in heaven. (Luke 15:10)

Having taken this first step, you can be assured of eternal life. Just imagine; you will live forever in heaven with God!

How do we know this?  Because God said it in His Word, the Holy Bible. For example, the Bible says:

 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16)

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

These are just two verses that speak of eternal life for the believer. There are numerous other verses in the Bible that confirm this great promise, and you will read them as you study God’s Word, the Bible.

As you grow in your faith, you will develop a deep and abiding love for God, a passion for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and a love for God’s people, the Church.

 

LIVING FOR CHRIST

Now that you are a Christian in fellowship with God, you will desire to follow the Master, and will want to learn more about how to grow closer to Him. The Bible calls this growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18).

Here are some things that will help you begin growing as a new Christian:

1   BE BAPTIZED 

Baptism, by immersion, is an outward sign that a person has become a Christian.  This is called “believer’s baptism” and signifies the believer’s identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Since Christ was baptized we must follow His example.

Baptism is an outward sign of an inward act of Grace.  The Bible says:

“For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Baptism is important; every believer should obey the Lord in baptism. However, the outward rite of being baptized does not produce God’s inward Grace. Baptism always follows salvation.

     2    READ THE BIBLE DAILY

Obtain a modern-day translation of the Bible. This will make it easier to read and understand.

The Bible is God’s inspired Word. Besides revealing the Good News about forgiveness and eternal life, it can also answer the many questions you will have as you seek to live a life that pleases God. Daily Bible reading will enable you to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:17)

The Bible not only reveals God to us; it contains greater wisdom than all the other books in the world. Think about what you read; study and analyze it.

As you read the Bible, ask yourself these questions:

(a)              What does the passage mean to me?

(b)             What is God saying to me through the passage?

(c)              How can I apply the truth of the passage to my life?

Bible study is so important because the Word gives life. (Psalm 119:50). The apostle Paul referred to the Gospel as “the word of life.” (Philippians 2:16). Jesus Himself referred to His words as being “life.” (John 6:63). And Peter had this insight about Jesus’ words: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68). How can anyone claim to have a grip on life without having knowledge of the Book that is life itself?

Pray for understanding. The Holy Spirit will help you, and you will begin to see life from God’s perspective. 

Psalm 119:18 states, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”

Whenever you can, talk with others about what you are learning. Take the opportunity to attend a small group Bible study.

       3    PRAY DAILY  

If reading the Bible is compared to reading correspondence from one’s beloved, then prayer is like a personal and intimate conversation with God. What the Bible doesn’t cover about living life in this world, prayer does.

The Bible is God’s revealed will for every person; prayer is the source of His counsel, comfort, and guidance for us as individuals. What a privilege we have to talk with God as our Father (Romans 8:15-16), to enter boldly into His Presence at any time (Hebrews 4:16), to unburden our heart to Him (Philippians 4:6-7), and to receive His counsel and guidance. (John 14:16; John 16:13-14; Isaiah 58:11)

Talk with God often. Talk over your problems with Him. Let God bear the weight of your troubles. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told to:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

Praise and thank God for who He is and for what He has done for you. Admit your weaknesses. Confess each specific sin that you are aware of. Pray for others that they, too, may receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Suggestions for your daily time with God:

(a)   Plan a definite time, preferably in the morning when your mind is fresh and rested. Make it a habit.

(b)  Select a quiet place where you can be alone with God in prayer.

(c)   Make a list of people and needs for which you can pray daily. Pray for others as well as yourself.

(d)  Read and meditate on a portion of Scripture, then spend time in prayer.

(e)   As you end your daily time with God, by faith commit the day and yourself to Him.

4   DEPEND ON THE HOLY SPIRIT

God is a “Triune Deity” who has existed eternally in “three modes of being” –or three personalities – the Father, the Son (who was incarnate as Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Together they are one God.

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit actually lives within every true believer in Christ. (See John 14:16-17)

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit, as He lives inside you, is your counsellor, to help you understand the truth revealed in God’s Word:

“The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (See John 14:16, John 15:26, and John 16:7)

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who testifies about Jesus Christ and convicts the world of guilt and sin. (See John 14:16 and 17, and John 16:7-8)

The Holy Spirit is also your Comforter; to help in times of trouble. Turn to Him when you are down. The Bible says:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

God has provided power for us to live the Christian life. Daily ask Him to control your life, actions and thoughts. The Bible teaches that we need to be filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

The Holy Spirit will:

(a)              Teach you

(b)     Guide you

(c)     Strengthen you in your times of need

(d)     Comfort you

(e)      Give you power to live for Christ

5       ATTEND CHURCH REGULARLY

When you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, you begin a relationship not only with Him but also with all other Christians. Whatever it meant to you in the past, going to church could now become a rich and rewarding experience.

(a)   You will grow in understanding by hearing God’s Word preached and taught.

(b)  You can ask questions and discuss Scripture with others.

(c)   You will learn to worship God, which means praising Him for all He is and thanking Him for all that He has done for you.

(d)  As you worship, learn and serve with other Christians, you will find individuals with whom you can form lasting friendships (friendships that will last for all eternity).

Find a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area. Attend its services regularly and get involved in ministry opportunities. This is an important way to strengthen your walk with the Lord.

6   BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS

You will find that the more you give yourself in service to others, the more you will enjoy your Christian life. Talk to your pastor about ways and opportunities to serve Christ, to witness for Him and to help others.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Find an area of service that you are comfortable in and capable of doing. This may include helping out in the church, working with organizations that help the poor, joining a mission’s team, talking with your family and friends about your decision to follow Christ, discipling others, bringing someone to church, etc.

7   CONQUER YOUR DOUBTS

At times you may doubt that you are really a child of God:

(a)   There may be some big failures in your Christian life.

(b)  You may find yourself thinking about things that you feel Christians just shouldn’t be thinking about.

(c)   You may be troubled by some unconfessed sin.

(d)  You may have wronged someone.

(e)   You may not be regular in church attendance.

When these things happen, it is important to remember that you are not saved by your goodness but by what Christ has already done for you. Reassure yourself with the fact that, if you have received Christ by faith, you are now a child of God.

8   LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME

Too often our lives become filled with anxiety. We worry ourselves sick about what might happen tomorrow. We try to cross bridges before ever coming to them.

The Bible says we are not to be anxious about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:33-34).

The Bible promises that …

“Your strength will equal your days.” (Deuteronomy 33:25)

In other words, God’s grace will be sufficient to meet the challenges of each day.

Practice the habit of confessing your sin to God as soon as you are aware of it. Ask His forgiveness and trust the Holy Spirit to fill and control you as you surrender control of your life to Him. By doing this there need not be times when you are out of fellowship with God.

9   LEARN THE BLESSING OF SUFFERING

Remember Christ suffered and died for you. Difficulties, ill health and all kinds of suffering will come our way because we are human, but they have a new perspective when you have Christ in your life. Always remember that God is sovereign and knows everything, and nothing is hidden from Him. 

For example:

Instead of “going to pieces” or “falling apart” you can be strengthened.

Instead of being a burden to others, you can be a blessing.

As you realize God’s power, comfort and strength through life’s experiences, you will grow in your faith. In Hebrews 2:10 we read that salvation is perfected through suffering.

Just because we are Christians we are not free from suffering and trials. The Bible says:

“Through many hardships and tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  (Acts 14:22)

10   DEAL WITH TEMPTATION

Temptation is a part of life. You experienced temptation before you received Christ, and you still will now. It is not a sin to be tempted, such as to have wrong thoughts enter your mind. It is, however, a sin to choose to dwell on such thoughts over and over again. The Bible tells us to reject wrong thoughts.

The Word of God says:

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He replied to the devil by quoting Scripture. Three times He said:

“It is written …” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10)

Be prepared for temptation through the knowledge of God’s Word and prayer.

The Bible says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13)

Be prepared to take advantage of God’s “way out” of temptation, whether it means that you “flee” the scene of the temptation (1Timothy 6:11), or that you stay on the scene and “resist” it.  (James 4:7)

Yielding to temptation, or committing any sin whatever, will grieve the Spirit, and will temporarily break our fellowship with Him. So whenever this happens, you need to be restored to fellowship with the Lord. So do the following:

1   Confess your sins. The Bible says:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

2   Surrender your life to God’s control.  The Bible says:

“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:13-14)

3   Ask for His strength daily to stay on God’s pathway. The Bible says:

“I can do everything through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13)

(Confidence in God gives us courage towards men!)

11  BE HOLY

The Christian life is not easy to live, so we must daily ask the Holy Spirit to help us in everything we do. We are to always reverence God.

The Bible says that “we (our bodies) are the temple of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 6:16). So we must discipline ourselves and refrain from doing things or engaging in activities that would compromise this command. We are to obey our Master’s commands.

Since our bodies are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we must be careful about our speech, what we wear, or where we go. We are to be different and should not conform to the world’s standards. God even warns us against abusing or disfiguring our bodies, saying:

“Do not cut your bodies … or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:28)

God admonishes us to be holy and righteous before Him. We are to train ourselves to be holy and godly. (See 1 Timothy 4:7). Here are Scriptures to review and meditate on:

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7)

“I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1)

“I am the LORD your God, consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44)

“I am the LORD … therefore be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45)

“You are to be holy to me, because I, the LORD, am holy.” (Leviticus 20:26)

“Fear the LORD and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalms 111:10)

“To fear the LORD is to hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13)

“For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21)

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD.” (Hebrews 12:14)

“God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people’.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

12  TELL OTHERS ABOUT CHRIST

Letting others know about your new life in Christ – by word and by action – can be one of the most satisfying and exciting experiences you will ever have. The apostle Peter encourages us to …

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  (1 Peter 3:15)

Jesus says; “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19)

In Mark 16:15 and 16, Jesus says:

“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The next chapter contains practical tips, which can be used as a guide, to help you show how to tell others about Christ.

Here are some Scriptures to review and meditate on:

“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

“For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

When Paul and Silas were in prison there was an earthquake and the prison doors flew open. The jailer was terrified and was going to kill himself. He asked them:

“‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household’.” (Acts 16: 30-31)

 

HOW TO TELL OTHERS ABOUT CHRIST

As you recognize what the Messiah, Jesus Christ, has done in your life, you will want to tell others about Him and what He is doing for you. This can be relatively easy when the Holy Spirit is your guide and when you have a few Scriptures ready to share. God’s Word is like a seed which, when planted in the human heart, can bear fruit for eternal life. (John 4:36). Here are a few suggestions to help you “plant the seed” of God’s Word:

1. Familiarize yourself with the Scriptures in this manual. Try to memorize these verses, so that you can quote them with confidence.

2. As you read the Bible daily, highlight or underline additional verses that you will be able to use in witnessing.

3. Begin to pray for individuals with whom you might share Christ. Sharing Christ with some one is called “sharing your testimony.” Trust God to provide the opportunities for you to talk with them, and the wisdom to know what to say.

4. Spend time with these friends. Win their confidence by doing things with them and for them. If they see that you really care about them, they will be more likely to listen when you present the Gospel to them.

5. Pray for opportunities to mention Christ in casual conversation. For instance you might simply ask, “What do you think happens after death?” or, “How do you think a person becomes a Christian?” or, “How do you think you go to heaven?” Listen to their ideas and then say, “Here’s what I believe.” In giving your answer, quote Scriptures, especially those included in this manual.

6. Take your friends to church and Christian functions, and discuss with them the messages that are presented.

7. Start a Bible class in your home and invite your non-Christian friends. You may use the “Bible Study For New Christians” included in the next section of this manual. Allow time for questions and discussion. Let the Holy Spirit speak through the Word.

Make it clear that becoming a Christian involves a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You don’t become a Christian by being good, by doing the best you can, or by joining a church. You become a Christian by personally receiving Jesus Christ – by trusting in Him as your personal Lord and Saviour.

To find forgiveness, people must be willing to:

1. Admit they are sinners, and they are in need of forgiveness.

2. Turn from their sin and turn to Jesus.

3. Believe that Jesus Christ died to save them from a life of sin and an eternity of separation from God.

4. Receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, and commit their lives to Him.

Give an opportunity for a response. If you sense that an individual sees his or her need for Christ, you might ask:

1. Have you ever received Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour?

2. Would you like to do so, right now?

Point out that Christ is standing at the door of their heart and is knocking. If they hear His voice and will open the door to their heart, Christ will enter. (Revelation 3:20). Christ will come into a life if He is invited. When He does come into a life, he or she will become a child of God.

Lead the person step-by-step through the following prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ died in my place on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin. I am turning from my sin and my past. I am putting my faith in the Lord Jesus, and I ask Him to take control of my life. By Your help, I will seek to follow and obey Christ and own Him as my personal Saviour and Lord. Amen.

 
BIBLE STUDY FOR NEW CHRISTIANS

 

A.   KNOWING CHRIST

Jesus Christ who is referred to as “the second person” of the Triune Deity, has eternally existed as God. And He loved us so much that He determined to come to earth “to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

His physical birth was necessary so that while being God, He could be the perfect human representative for mankind, and become the sin-bearer, paying the penalty for the sins of the world. This He did when He died on a cross as our Substitute.

The Bible tells us about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ:

“Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5-7)

“Jesus” is the English transliteration of the Hebrew Name Y’shua which means “Yahweh (the eternal One) is salvation.”   “Christ” means Messiah, and both mean, “The Anointed.”

The birth of Jesus Christ was the direct intervention of God into human history. But the sacrificial death of “the Lamb of God” which provides salvation for all who will receive Him as Saviour, is the Gospel we preach.

The heart of the Gospel (good news) message is …

“Now brethren, I again declare to you the Good News which I have already preached to you - the Good News which you have received, and on which you take your stand; by which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the words that I preached as Good News to you - unless you believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance, that the Messiah died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

 

 

As He is our Saviour and Heavenly Master, we must seek to please God with our walk. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:1:

“We instructed you how to live in order to please God.”

And in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 4 we read:

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.”

We are exhorted to live and walk by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  (Galatians 5:16). So we need to be ever alert to the pitfalls of life, and to be very careful how we live, because the days are evil. “Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15 - 17)

Below are six lessons, which will help you to understand our Lord Jesus Christ.

1.   SALVATION

Salvation means deliverance from sin and its consequences. Salvation is the gift of God to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. Salvation cannot be bought, earned or worked for; it is offered as a gift by God and must be accepted by the recipient. In Romans 6:23 we read:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Before being saved, we are under God’s condemnation because of sin, destined for hell; but when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we are saved for an eternal life with God.

Review and meditate on these truths about the work of Christ until you can say with confidence, “I know I am a Christian … I have been born into God’s family as His child … I now have eternal life.”

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15).

“Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross.”  (Philippians 2:6-8)

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

“To all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

2.   ASSURANCE

One of Satan’s tricks is to cause believers to doubt their salvation. Having assurance means being absolutely certain, and being free from all doubt. Meditate on the following Scriptures, which will enable you to have victory over your doubts.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)

“You who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10: 27-30)

“I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

3.   TOTAL COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST

When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, He becomes not only our Saviour but also our Sovereign Master. We are under new ownership. We can only enjoy new life in Christ as we daily seek His will and follow Him in obedience.

Meditate on the following Scriptures to understand what this means:

“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

 “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this.” (Psalm 37:4-5)

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If any man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

 

 4.  THE BIBLE

The Bible is the inspired Word of God. It contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, which were written by over 30 authors. The Bible was written over a span of about 1,500 years, but its theme is the same throughout. It was 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.” (John 20:31).

Thus, Jesus, who is the Living Word, is the real Author of the Bible.

The Bible says: “All Scripture is God-breathed (divinely-inspired) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16) 

This means that God told the authors of the books of the Bible what to write.

David, the writer of many of the Psalms, explains in 2 Samuel 23:2:

“The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.”  

The Bible changes lives.  It is God’s written Word. Its message of salvation is most profound, but it can also change the way we treat others. It provides a firm foundation for society with its clear teachings on institutions such as marriage, the family, the Church, our business dealings, and government.

The Bible is good. The Word of God is good for …

“… attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.” (Proverbs 1:2-4).

Therefore, the message of the Bible is always relevant and timely.

The Bible is living and active. In Hebrews 4:12-13 we read:

“The Word of God is living and active (it accomplishes God’s purposes). Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

The Word of God (both the written and the living Word, Jesus Christ) is living and energizing and it is the double-edged sword of the Spirit. It judges as with an all-seeing eye, piercing and penetrating into our innermost being, the deepest recesses of body, soul and spirit, where it “discerns” even the very thoughts and intents of our hearts. It has access to the totality and depth of our being.

The Bible is eternal. 

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, and Luke 21:33)

In Psalm 119:160 we read,

“All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.”

And the psalmist reminds us:

“Your Word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek. Today the Bible is translated into hundreds of languages and is read all over the world.

The Bible is far more than a book on morality. Its concern is man’s relationship to God and his fellowmen.

Review and meditate on the following Scriptures to understand the importance of His Word:

“As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the LORD is flawless.” (Psalm 18:30)

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.” (Psalm 119:18)

“The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)

“Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165)

James’ admonition is: “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

5.   PRAYER

Prayer is our lifeline to God. We need to form the habit of starting each day with prayer and then praying throughout the day.

Review and meditate on the following Scriptures:

“Until now you have not asked for anything in My Name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20, 21)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1: 5-6)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

6.   THE HOLY SPIRIT IN YOU

God has not left us alone. His Holy Spirit lives in us and daily ministers to our needs.

Here are some Scriptures to review and meditate on:

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” (Romans 8:16-17)

“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

“The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

“In the same way, the Spirit helps in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26)

 

B    MAJOR THEMES OF THE BIBLE

1.  CREATION

Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe, and there are numerous Scriptures that point to this fact. The Bible says:

“For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)

The account of the Creation is a fascinating story, and is found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. It starts with

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …” (Genesis 1:1)

And it goes on to describe how God created everything from nothing, by His (Jesus Christ’s) spoken Word.

The order of creation is as follows:

   DAY     REFERENCE        CREATION

     1          Genesis 1:3-5           Light

     2          Genesis 1:6-8           Sky and atmosphere

     3          Genesis 1:9-13          Land and seas, vegetation

     4          Genesis 1:14-19        Heavenly objects (galaxies, planets, stars)

     5          Genesis 1:20-25        Living creatures (birds, fish, animals, etc.)

     6          Genesis 1:26-31        Man (Adam and Eve)

The Creation was rapid and supernatural, and took place just as it is described in Scripture. Christ commanded and creation occurred. The things that we now see were not made of pre-existing materials. Everything was created by the spoken word of God.

 

2.  SIN AND THE FALL OF MAN

Before the creation of the universe as outlined in Genesis Chapter 1, God created angels. At some point after their creation, a large group of these angels rebelled against their Creator. Helel, commonly called Lucifer, an Angel of Light, became Satan, the devil, and he led the rebellious angels in their rebellion. As a result, God expelled them from heaven. (Luke 10:18). And ever since then, these evil but powerful fallen angels have attacked God and His creation. (1 John 3:8). This was the origin of sin and evil in the world.

All creation was placed under the curse of death when sin entered the world.  This included the animals (Genesis 3:14), the plants (Genesis 3:17-19), the ground (Genesis 3:17), and mankind. (Genesis 3:15-19)

Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26-27). This does not mean that they looked like God, since God is a spirit (John 4:24); but rather, they were created in a state of perfection, with thoughts that were in complete agreement with God. (Ephesians 4:24). Adam and Eve, however, lost that perfection when they willfully disobeyed God.

“And YHWH Elohim commanded the man: 'You are free to eat from any tree of the garden;  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you must not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17. See also Genesis chapter 3).

 

That act of disobedience brought God’s wrath upon them and on all their descendants.

 

The moment they sinned against God they were spiritually separated from God. And ever since then, every human being, (with the exception of Jesus Christ), has been conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) and with a natural inclination to do evil. (Genesis 8:21)

Because all of us are sinners from birth, it is impossible for us to come to God on our own, or to please a holy and righteous God, or to make up for our sins by our ‘good’ deeds.

Genesis chapter 3 describes man’s fall - his disobedience of God. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden and enjoyed perfect communion with God. But they allowed the devil to influence them into disobeying God and sinning. That led to their expulsion from the Garden, and to the death (physical and spiritual) of the whole human race. As a result of Adam’s, and Eve’s, sin, we are born into a sinful world with a sinful nature, which rebels against God.

Read the full account of the Fall of Man in Genesis chapter 3, and in numerous passages in the Old and New Testaments.

3.  THE FLOOD

The 6th chapter of Genesis describes the Flood. Very early in our history man rebelled against God and this grieved Him. As a result, God caused a natural disaster, a worldwide flood, to destroy nearly everything on earth. God said:

“I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7)

But God used Noah, a righteous man, to build an ark, a large boat, measuring about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Noah was told to bring his family as well as a male and female of every living creature into the ark so that they would survive the Flood, and multiply and replenish the earth after the Flood.

The Flood occurred about 2,500 B.C., and there is widespread geological evidence of this global event.

Read the full account of the Flood in Genesis chapter 6, and in numerous passages in the Old and New Testaments.
 

  4.  THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

The Ten Commandments were inscribed on stone tablets by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments were given so that the Israelites as a nation would have a law, or moral code, to follow and to know right from wrong. Until that time man did not have such a detailed, written code of law.

The Ten Commandments were the central part of the Law given to Israel – a Law containing 613 commands. Many of those commands wee to do with the sacrificial system that was necessary until the perfect Sacrifice, Messiah, the “Lamb of God,” brought that system to an end.

The Ten Commandments were basic principles. They may be divided into two major sections. The first four Commandments deal with our relationship with God. The next six Commandments instruct us on how we are to relate to fellow human beings.

   1  You shall have no other God before Me. (Exodus 20:3) 

   2  You shall not make for yourself an idol. (Exodus 20:4)

   3  You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD (YHWH) your God. (Exodus 20:7)

   4  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

   5  Honour your father and mother.(Exodus 20:12)

   6  You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)

   7  You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)

   8  You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15)

   9  You shall not give false testimony. (Exodus 20:16)

 10  You shall not covet. (Exodus 20:17)

The above is a summary of the Ten Commandments. You can read the full account of this great story in Exodus 20:1-17.

Now while the Law and Covenant given to Israel has been replaced by a New Covenant – a covenant of “life in Christ” (Romans 8:2), there are principles in the old covenant that are repeated, or amplified, in the New Covenant which all believers are privileged to live in today.

The Messiah Himself amplified the ten commandments. For example:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER;’ (Ex. 20:13), and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be subject to judgment;’ but I tell you that whoever nurses any ANGER against his brother will be subject to judgment; and whoever contemptuously says to his brother, ‘Raca’ (empty-head, good-for-nothing, idiot), shall be liable for punishment before the Sanhedrin (the supreme court); and whoever says, ‘YOU FOOL!’ will be in danger of the penalty of Gehenna - hell-fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)

“You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY;' (Ex. 20:14), but I say to you, that anyone who so much as LOOKS AT A WOMAN LUSTFULLY - with evil desire for her - has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

Nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Covenant. The 4th commandment, regarding the Sabbath, is not. The emphasis in the New covenant is not on certain days but on spiritual rest in the Lord. But the principle of physical rest – one day in seven - was endorsed by God Himself when He rested on the seventh day of creation. (Genesis 2:2). In the Old Covenant, even the land was to be given rest every seventh year.

The Messiah rejected a rigid bondage to the Sabbath, when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27).  But He also said:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."

 

5.  THE CHURCH

Christ established the Church, (see Matthew 16:18), and preserves and perpetuates it with His power. The Church is the mystical body of Christ. He is the head, and we, as members of the Church, are under His rule and direction. True believers all over the world are brothers and sisters, united in Christ.

The Church was born on Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus ascended into heaven. Read the full account of this in Acts 2:1-4.

6.  THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

After His resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with His followers, teaching and preparing them for the ministry of building His church on earth. Then He ascended to heaven (see Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:9). While He was going up to heaven, two angels stood beside them and proclaimed that Jesus would return one day. (See Acts 1:10 and 11). Jesus’ return to earth is known as the Second Coming of Christ.

The Bible says, “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ (Christians who have passed away) will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)

 

“The day of the Lord (Christ’s second coming) will come like a thief in the night (unexpectedly. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destructions will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 3)

So, we need to always be ready for the Lord’s return, because it could happen at any time. We believe His coming could be very soon.

7.  ETERNAL LIFE

A major theme in the Bible is eternal life. All those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are assured of spending eternity with Him in heaven. The Bible says:

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

Don’t let anyone rob you of the joy of salvation and this great and wonderful promise of Eternal Life.

 

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