New Beginnings 1 – 4
NEW BEGINNINGS SERIES
BE SURE OF YOUR SALVATION
Memory Verse: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13).
One of the most common questions that I have faced over the years is, “If I am really saved, why do I still sin?” In today’s lesson we will try to answer this, and similar questions.
FIRST OF ALL, YOUR ASSURANCE MUST BE BASED UPON THE WORD OF GOD
In order for one to understand his need of salvation, and the effects of salvation upon the individual, he must have some basic understanding of what man is.
THE THREEFOLD NATURE OF MAN
The Bible declares that the creature we know as ‘man’ is a tripartite (or three part) being. He is made up of spirit, soul, and body. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:23).
1. THE SPIRIT OF MAN
The spirit of man is the portion which enables him to communicate with God. This was the initial ‘death’ of which God warned Adam in the garden. “16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen. 2:16-17) When Adam disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit, the first thing that happened was a spiritual death. Of course, a few centuries later a physical death followed. The Bible teaches us that as a result of Adam’s sin, all of his offspring were born spiritually dead as well. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Rom. 5:12). Further “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” (Eph. 2:1).
2. THE SOUL OF MAN
The soul of man is the part which distinguishes one of us from the other and imparts personality. The soul of man is made up of his thoughts, will, and emotions. If the spirit of man is dead, and it is; then the soul of man is depraved. The reason for this is, as the Lord pointed out to the rich young ruler, “…none is good, save one, that is, God” (Luke 18:19). Since spiritually dead man is lost and completely out of fellowship with God, none of the attributes of God will adhere to him. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Cor. 15:33). If being around wrong thinking and acting people will corrupt you, then a close association of the believer with the Lord will likewise appear in his behavior.
3. THE BODY OF MAN
Man’s spirit was the part of his makeup which enabled him to interact with God. His body was the part of man with which he was enabled to interact with his surroundings. His body was composed of the same elements as the world which surrounded him. God designed the body to rejuvenate itself. When man died spiritually this capacity, as were all others, was flawed. Thus “…death passed upon all men…” (Rom. 5:12). So then we find that a man, in his lost condition, is spiritually dead, morally depraved, and physically decaying. Man is therefore completely ‘lost’ to God for eternity. Therefore, God has devised a means whereby man could be returned, not merely to his former estate, but to a far better relationship with God, through the work of His Son on Calvary.
THIS BRINGS US TO THE THREEFOLD NATURE OF SALVATION
As one searches the Scriptures, he will find references to salvation, as something which has occurred in the past, as something which is occurring in the present, and as something which is yet to occur in the future. All three are correct, as the following illustrations will reveal.
1. SALVATION FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Rom. 5:1). The first element of salvation which we will deal with is the state of JUSTIFICATION. This refers to our legal standing with God. From God’s viewpoint, the moment that a sinner places his faith in Christ, depending upon Him and Him alone for salvation, God imputes (puts on his account) the very righteousness which Christ possesses. “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8).
A man can be no more positionally righteous than he is at that point. As far as God is concerned, it is “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned.
2. SALVATION FROM THE POWER OF SIN
The area of study into which we now enter is SANCTIFICATION. At this point we enter into another problem all together. If I am saved, then why do I still have the same thoughts, and why do I still behave in the same manner? “17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:17-24).
“8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:8-10).
“1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:1-2).
To summarize the above verses: a Christian should not sin, but if and when a Christian does sin; he should confess his sin to God and evaluate the circumstances which led to his sinning and avoid such circumstances in the future.
“20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Tim. 2:20).
Sanctification is the daily ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. The instrument which He uses is the word of God.
“15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:15-17).
“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
3. SALVATION FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN
This aspect of salvation is known as GLORIFICATION. Even when a believer comes to the point of understanding his position in Christ and realizes victory in the Power of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in his daily walk; there remains the fact that sin is rampant on every hand. His senses will be buffeted by the filth and lewdness surrounding him, and the more chaste his conversation, the worse it will seem. Is there no deliverance for the child of God who is living a separate, holy lifestyle? Yes, thank God there is!
“11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13).
“49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Cor. 15:49-54).
SECONDLY, YOUR ASSURANCE MUST BE BASED UPON THE PROMISES OF GOD
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
The Bible explicitly says that God cannot lie. “1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; 2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:1-2) If God cannot lie, then it is safe to believe what He says. If we meet the criteria which he sets forth, then He will do what He promises.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
THIRDLY, YOUR ASSURANCE MUST BE BASED UPON THE CHARACTER OF GOD
A promise is only as reliable as the person who makes it. So, in order to have assurance of your salvation, you must have at least a minimal idea of what God is like. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9). “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thess. 5:24). “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Heb. 10:23).
I once asked a friend of mine a question: I asked him, “Ralph, would you say that I am pretty consistent?” I guess that I was fishing for a compliment. What he said was, “John, do you realize that what you just asked contained an oxymoron?” I felt like a moron, because I had no idea what an oxymoron was. I finally had to confess my ignorance, and he explained that an oxymoron was two words that do not fit together, or are mutually exclusive. Having gotten this out of the way, he went on to explain that what I had asked was an impossibility. A person is either consistent, or inconsistent. I have often heard people say, “He is pretty faithful, or fairly faithful, or usually faithful.”
Make up your mind, he either is, or he isn’t. While you and I might be wrong; the Bible very clearly states that God is faithful! We can depend upon Him to always behave in the same manner. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
“8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:8-9).
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Tim. 2:19).
God IS faithful! Nothing can change His mind about your salvation; nothing will separate you from His love. The reason: because our relationship with Him is not based upon anything that we have done, but upon the work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9).
LASTLY, YOUR ASSURANCE IS BASED UPON THE SPIRIT OF GOD
“21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Cor. 1:21).
“12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Eph. 1:12-13).
“29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:29).
The working of the Holy Spirit within the life of a believer is the indisputable proof of his salvation. The sensitivity to sin which we formerly lacked is an evidence of His working within us.
“12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12).
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” (I John 5:10).
NEW BEGINNINGS SERIES
OUR PUBLIC PROFESSION OF FAITH
Memory Verse: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (I Pet. 3:15).
THE LORD WANTS NEW BELIEVERS TO DECLARE
THEIR FAITH IN HIM PUBLICLY
“32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33).
I am often asked, “When I become a Christian, what will I do about my friends?” This lesson will help you with that problem. You may rest assured that when your conversation centers on the Lord, although your friends may ridicule you a little; they will soon disappear. Don’t get me wrong; the object of our public profession is not to run people off, but to draw people in. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Earlier in the same chapter of Romans we find this statement: “13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Rom. 10:13-15).
Almost every time a person attends a preaching service, whether it be in church, or a public gathering such as a crusade; after the gospel is preached, there will be an opportunity provided for those who have been touched by the preaching to respond to the invitation, and to make public whatever decision they might have made. If you have received Christ as your Saviour, and have never made that fact public, you should do so at the next available opportunity. After making this public declaration and commitment to serve Him as master, you should follow the Lord in the believer’s baptism.
BAPTISM IS AN ACT OF OBEDIENCE WHICH DECLARES ONE’S FAITH
Water baptism is our way of making a visible, public declaration that we have determined to depart from our former lifestyle and obey God’s Word. “3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3-4).
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
The Lord commands all believers to be baptized as a means of identifying with Him. Baptism is for the saved, it holds no saving merit in itself. It is the first public act of obedience which a Christian makes.
JESUS COMMANDS BAPTISM
Let’s read <st1:bcv_smarttag w:st=”on”>Matthew 28:18-20: “18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:18-20).
Baptism is not an option for New Testament believers. It is the first step that you and I can take in order to show our allegiance to the Lord. He, Himself, set the example in Matthew “13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:13-17). I have heard a lot of people advance a lot of reasons that they believed explained the Lord’s baptism. It certainly gave us New Testament precedent whereby we could state with assurance that baptism is not an essential for salvation. Our Saviour certainly needed no salvation, Himself.
In fact, immediately following Jesus’ baptism, God the Father made this statement: “…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). To me it seems that the Lord’s baptism was a means of identification with a purpose; to obey the Father’s will. “5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:5-10).
Now, we are all aware that the will of God the Father intended that God the Son should give His life a Ransom for many. It is equally evident that the will of God for the believer requires one yield his life to the guidance of the Son. Our baptism therefore serves a dual purpose:  It pictures our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and  it is our means of identifying with the purpose of the Lord Jesus. “15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” (I Pet. 2:15-21)
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, NEW BELIEVERS WERE BAPTIZED
Let’s now read some verses in Acts chapter 2: “37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost…41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls…47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:37-38, 41, 47).
The formula for baptism in <st1:bcv_smarttag w:st=”on”>Acts 2:38 has often been misused and misunderstood. However, the purpose served was certainly in keeping with our lesson. The answer to the cry of the people, “…what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), was short and to the point, “…Repent,…” (Acts 2:38). The act of repentance for a Christ-rejecting Jewish population was to publicly identify with the Name which they had rejected. They had flatly refused to accept Christ as the Messiah, saying, “…We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). The remission of sins and gift of the Holy Ghost came to them on the same grounds that it comes to us today, based upon repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
BAPTISM NEVER PRECEDES SALVATION.
“35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:35-38).
“44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:44-48).
BAPTISM EXPRESSES YOUR LOVE FOR JESUS
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).
“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Baptism, while it may be our first step of obedience, and first gesture of love toward the Lord, had better not be our only one. Notice that the Lord did not say “commandment”, singular, but “…commandments” (vs. 15), plural. The Psalmist put it this way, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105). And “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psa. 119:9).
BAPTISM PICTURES TWO THINGS IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER
We have already covered this ground, but repetition never hurts anything, especially when it comes to the fundamental teachings of the Faith.
What Jesus did for you – He died for your sins, was buried, and rose back from the dead. “1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (I Cor. 15:1-4).
What has happened to you – You have died to an old way of life and have been raised to live a new life in Jesus. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).
SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM REQUIRES FOUR THINGS
The right person – a believer.
The right reasons – obedience and declaration of your faith in Christ.
The right method – immersion in water.
The right authority – an authorized representative of a local New Testament church (Acts 2:41-47)
THE ESSENTIALS FOR BAPTISM ARE
Through faith having trusted Jesus as your Savior.
Make your commitment public.
Request to be baptized by immersion.
STUDYING THE BIBLE
Memory Verse: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
THE WORD OF GOD HAS SPECIFIC PURPOSES
In this lesson we will see that God has revealed at least 4 specific purposes in giving us His word, along with several reasons for preserving it in written form. Below, each of these 4 sections explains what God expects of us concerning His command to study and profit from His Word.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (II Tim. 3:16).
1. GOD’S WORD IS PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE
The following verses give us some definite insight into the character of God: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). And further, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
Probably the single most important fact that the Bible clearly teaches is that God loves mankind. Every aspect of God’s dealing with man is based upon this premise.
“7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:7-8).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
While God’s love is only one facet of the doctrine revealed in the Holy Scriptures, it is certainly a pre-eminent one.
To speak of Bible doctrines is an incorrect approach. When the Bible speaks of ‘doctrines’ (plural), it speaks of false teachings; when the Bible speaks of truth, it is always in the singular, (doctrine). The Bible is not fragmented; therefore, no matter what you are studying, or what approach you take, it all ties together. There is one body of truth, and therefore the Scripture is profitable for Doctrine (teaching).
SOME THINGS TO BE AWARE OF IN BIBLE STUDY
As one approaches the study of the Bible there are few ‘rules of thumb’ of which he should be aware; (i) Not everything in the Bible is true. (Before you jump to conclusions, allow me to explain.) The Bible is the inspired Word of God, but there a statements made by others that are not true: in Gen. 3:4, the serpent told Eve, “Thou shalt not surely die”.
That was a lie! In the book of Job, Job’s friends made many accusations against Job that were not true. In Job 1:16, the servant told Job that the ‘fire of God’ had fallen and consumed his flocks and servants, but the Scripture plainly states that it was Satan who was responsible for the attack. (ii) There are things in the Bible which were once true, but are no longer so. In John 7:39 the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified, this was true at the time but is true no longer.
When we are reading and studying our Bible, it is wise to ask ourselves the following questions: (i) Who is speaking? (ii) What are they talking about? (iii) Who is be addressed? (iv) What is the occasion of what is being said?, or the time period in which the discourse takes place? If we take these things into consideration, there will be far fewer misunderstandings.
2. GOD’S WORD IS PROFITABLE FOR REPROOF
(TO ADDRESS A FAULT) AND BRINGS CONVICTION OF SIN
“Be ye angry, and sin not, let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” (Eph. 4:26-31).
Notice that the Scripture addresses every day issues in the lives of believers; wrath, or uncontrolled anger giving place to the devil, accusations, allowing wickedness to control your thoughts, theft, wrong speaking, whether it be profanity, lewd speech, gossip, or otherwise bitterness, wrath, clamouring (head running), and malice.
3. GOD’S WORD IS PROFITABLE FOR CORRECTION
Reading, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God will enable a believer to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18). Scripture is not only capable of diagnosing the problem areas of a believer’s life, but provides a remedy for the same. Note what it says in Psalms: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” (Psa. 119:9). Compare this instruction with what the Bible says in II Peter: “5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”(II Pet. 1:5-10).
The importance of the knowledge of the Word of God cannot be stressed too much. God’s Word says; “2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2Pet. 1:2-4). Any time that a word appears five times in ten verses of scripture, one would be wise to take heed.
4. GOD’S WORD IS PROFITABLE FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
In II Peter we are admonished to add to our faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, “And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (II Pet. 1:6); this means that the believer should display the same character and attitudes that God displays. The only way that such a thing is possible, is for us to be knowledgeable of God, especially His viewpoint on the matter as revealed in His Word. Just as we need physical food to maintain our physical health; we also need spiritual food in order to be spiritually healthy: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16). And “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
IS GOD’S WORD EQUALLY APPLICABLE TO EVERYBODY?
While the Bible makes it very plain that all Scripture is equally inspired of God, and that all Scripture is profitable, all Scripture does not apply in precisely the same context to everybody. And example is found in Acts 15:
Ac 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6 ¶ And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
From the above Scriptures, it is obvious that the Gentile believers were not compelled to observe the rituals of the Mosaic law. You may also notice that the dietary restrictions of the Old Testament were not imposed on the Gentiles, nor the Jewish holy days.
THERE ARE SEVERAL METHODS OF LEARNING GOD’S WORD
One of these ways can be compared to the fingers on your hand. It is easy to lose your grip, if you hold something with only one or two fingers. If you hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word, your grasp of its truth and ability to retain its teachings will be greatly improved.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Pay attention to the preaching that you are exposed to, take notes, compare what you hear to the Scriptures. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (I Tim. 4:13). You should set a goal to read from your Bible daily. I would recommend reading a chapter per day from the book of Proverbs. Having thirty-one chapters, it easily lends itself to being used as a daily devotional. However, I would not stop there; I would read at least four chapters per day in the New Testament, preferably starting with the Gospel of John, then the book of Romans. As you read, keep a pen and paper handy; when you discover something you don’t understand, jot it down. Then ask someone who has a better grasp of the Scripture, or seek out worthwhile study aids.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). As you read, there are several questions that you should keep in mind, if you are to have a good grasp of what the Scriptures teach:
What promise is there to claim?
What example is there to follow?
What command is there to obey?
What sin is there to confess and forsake?
Here are some other questions to consider:
Who is speaking?
To whom is he speaking?
What is he talking about?
And what occasion prompted the discourse?
Asking yourself these questions will tend to keep you on track, and help you to keep Scripture in context.
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psa. 119:11). Memorizing Scripture is important because it enables you to meditate upon it when you have your quiet time in prayer with the Father and also it enables you to share the Word of God more readily when given the opportunity. However, the Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid…” (Psa. 119:11). Something that is hidden is not readily apparent, or available. While Scripture memorization is good, Scripture exposure is every bit as important. If we expose ourselves to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit has the wherewithal to bring Scripture to our remembrance, when needed. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Also, consider what David said in the First Psalm: “1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psa. 1:1-2). Meditation is to the student of Scripture, what the chewing of the cud is to a cow. When a cow eats, it is with the purpose of storing its food supply. Later, in a relaxed leisurely way, the cow will regurgitate its fodder, and then slowly and methodically chew it, thereby drawing its full food value. Meditation works in the same way for the child of God.
WHAT BIBLE STUDY WILL DO FOR YOU
Let’s look at some Scriptures which will show us what God says will result from studying His Word.
1. IT WILL MAKE YOU A STRONG CHRISTIAN
“I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:14).
2. IT WILL GIVE YOU ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
“12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:12-13).
3. IT WILL GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE AND POWER IN PRAYER
“14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (I John 5:14-15).
4. IT WILL CLEANSE YOU FROM SIN
“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). And “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
5. IT WILL ALSO ASSURE YOU THAT YOUR SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). And “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).
6. IT WILL BRING YOU JOY
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).
7. IT WILL PRODUCE PEACE IN YOUR LIFE
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
There are many more valuable benefits to studying the Word of God, but the few that we have already covered should be sufficient to stress our great need for Bible study.
LIST FOUR PURPOSES OF GOD’S WORD
- It is profitable for _______________________________________________
- It is profitable for _______________________________________________
- It is profitable for _______________________________________________
- It is profitable for _______________________________________________
USING THE HAND ILLUSTRATION, FILL IN THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF BIBLE STUDY
What would be the best time of day for you to spend in Bible study? Approach the Bible expecting results. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psa. 119:18)
LEARN TO PRAY
Memory Verse: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (I Tim. 2:8).
The best way to get to know someone is to talk frequently with that person. The secret to a successful Christian life is an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus. The Bible is full of invitations to enter into a deep, personal relationship with God. An effective prayer life is imperative, if one wishes to achieve this relationship.
“24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:” (Acts 17:24-27).
“Speak for eternity. Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. A word spoken by you, when your conscience is clear and your heart full of God’s Spirit is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin. Remember that God, and not man, must have the glory. If the veil of the world’s machinery were lifted off, how much we would find is done in answer to the prayers of God’s children.”
-Robert Murray McCheyne
JESUS SET THE EXAMPLE FOR US
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). The best possible way to begin the day is with prayer and a time of Bible reading. Consider what the verse above teaches us about the prayer life of our Lord.
JESUS TAUGHT THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” (Luke 18:1). Prayer to the new, or ‘spiritual’ man, is what breathing is to the old, or ‘natural’ man. Also, if there were no danger of fainting (to stop praying through weakness and unbelief) the Lord would not have warned us against it.
THE DISCIPLES ASKED JESUS TO TEACH THEM HOW TO PRAY
“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). There must have been something unusual in the Lord’s style of praying. Jews grew up in very religious surroundings, and prayer was a very familiar routine. However, when they observed the Lord at prayer, they realized that they knew nothing about true prayer. We would all pray a great deal more, if God met with us, and we saw results.
NOTICE WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT PRAYER
“17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:17-18). These verses of Scripture tell us that it is “…the will of God…” (vs.18) that we pray. If we have any intentions of pleasing God, or of having His blessing upon our life, we must do those things which He wants us to do.
THE ACROSTIC A.C.T.S. WILL HELP US DEVELOP
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE FOR EFFECTIVE PRAYER
1. ADORATION IS PRAISE FOCUSING UPON WHO GOD IS
Look at the following Scriptures; fill in the blanks what each verse says about God.
“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psa. 145:3).
“Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely” (Psa. 147:1).
“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psa. 147:5).
It is a rare individual indeed, if they are honest, who cannot find something for which to praise the Lord. God will meet with the individual who offers praise to His name. “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psa. 22:3). Spend some time now in praise. <st1:bcv_smarttag w:st=”on”>Psalms 100 and <st1:bcv_smarttag w:st=”on”>Psalms 150 are excellent examples of how one should approach God. According to the last verse of the last Psalm, if you are breathing, you should be praising God.
2. CONFESSION IS ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR SINS
BEFORE GOD IN ORDER TO RECEIVE FORGIVENESS
When you received eternal life, a relationship with God was established, which will never be broken, but our daily fellowship with God can be hindered by unconfessed sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psa. 66:18).
Therefore, when you sin:
Confess the sin when you realize that you have committed it. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Receive His promise of forgiveness and cleansing. (by faith)
Trust God for deliverance from temptation and sin.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13).
After you have confessed all known sins, take time to ask God to reveal any unconfessed sins. If and when He does, then deal with them immediately. “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23-24).
3. THANKSGIVING IS EXPRESSING GRATITUDE TO GOD
FOR SPECIFIC ACTS AND PROVISIONS
“17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:17-18). Below are some of the areas in which you should give God thanks: (In the note section at the end of the chapter, you might want to begin a list of the things that you want to regularly thank God for.)
Physical blessings- (health, strength, gifts, etc.)
4. SUPPLICATION IS MAKING REQUESTS AND
EXPRESSING DESIRES TO GOD
These prayers may take the form of personal requests or intercession for others. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). Notice how successful prayer incorporates many, if not all of the right attitudes that we have just discussed (see acrostic A.C.T.S.).
PETITION IS ASKING GOD FOR OUR NEEDS
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). And further “6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). Notice the ‘if.’ This is a conditional promise. Remember what we said last week as we read our Bible? One of the things we are to watch for is ‘a condition to be met.’
LIST THREE PERSONAL REQUESTS AND PRESENT THEM TO GOD
(You might want to consider starting a ‘prayer diary.’ Writing down the date that you started praying about a matter, and the date when your prayer was answered.)
INTERCESSION IS PRAYING FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS
Write out the requests which are found in the following verses.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (Rom. 10:1).
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;” (Phil. 1:9).
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” (Col. 1:9).
In your NOTE section list some people that you know with specific needs in their lives and pray for them.
Prayer is communication with God. It has to be learned and practiced.
Without looking back, what are the 4 attitudes of prayer?
It is important to spend time each day in prayer. When is the best time for you to pray? Please give that some thought. (Once per day is hardly enough, so for now, plan on beginning and ending your day with prayer.) “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). In the preceding verse I hardly think that the apostle meant for us to spend our entire lives with heads bowed and eyes closed; however, we need to cultivate an attitude of prayerful fellowship with God.