Begin with this amazing book as you start on a journey of studying the Bible.
The blue Living Water book is free and can be picked up in the church lobby.
Follow the lessons below as you read through this book.
These lessons are from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Click Here for a complete BGEA booklet
Whether you have just become a Christian or are renewing your commitment to Christ, let’s review some basic truths about Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers. We can never really know enough about the Good News that has freed us from eternal death and given us eternal life!
Our Need for Salvation
The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All people are sinners and are under God’s judgment. The Bible shows this clearly, and common sense shows it as well. Though you may know many people who seem to be morally “better” than others, you probably don’t know anyone who never makes a mistake.
The consequence of human sin and imperfection is eternal separation from God, who is holy and perfect. And since God is the very source of life, eternal separation from Him means eternal death: “For the wages of sin is death...” (Romans 6:23).
Promise 1: The Promise of Salvation
The Bible talks about something called “salvation,” which means being set free from the consequences of sin (eternal death) and experiencing peace with God and the assurance that we can live forever with Him. John 3:16, perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible, explains clearly how you can have salvation and eternal life:
“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
Let’s look at this verse one phrase at a time to better understand the simple truth it proclaims: “For God so loved the world ...”
The world includes you and every other individual on the face of the earth. God does love you, and the next part of the verse shows just how much He loves you: “...that he gave his one and only Son ...”
How did God give His Son? “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid the penalty for your sins when He died on the cross. He took all your sins and died once for all. As He died He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning that He had truly done everything necessary for your salvation.
As the Son of God, Jesus is equal to God Himself. He is part of what theologians call the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Amazingly, however, even though Jesus was equal to God the Father (John 1:1–3; 10:30), He freely chose to become a human being and die for us (Philippians 2:5–8).
How should you respond to Christ’s death on the cross?
“...that whoever believes in him shall not perish ...” If you believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and accept Him as your Savior, you will not have to pay the eternal penalty for your sins—because Jesus paid that penalty for you when He died on the cross.
“...but have eternal life.” Instead of eternal death and separation from God, you will have eternal life. Eternal life is a present possession for all who believe. The moment you trust Christ,
- Your sins are forgiven (Colossians 1:14).
- You become a child of God (John 1:12).
- You possess eternal life (John 3:16).
Have you personally trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
If so, then on the authority of God’s Word you have eternal life.
If not, you can trust Him right now! The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on
the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). You can receive Jesus Christ into your life right now by praying a prayer such as this:
Dear Lord Jesus,
I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from running my own life, and now I ask You to run it. I invite You to come into my heart and life. I trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
To be assured of salvation, simply take God at His Word:
“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
This verse is on one of the verse cards at the bottom of this page.
Memorize it, and if you ever have occasion to doubt your salvation, use this verse as an anchor for your faith!
Promise 2: The Promise of Victory Over Temptation
If Satan cannot make you doubt your salvation, he will concentrate on some area of spiritual weakness in your life. Don’t be surprised when this happens! Rather, learn to take your eyes off your own weaknesses and put your trust in Jesus Christ, who is able to help you:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
When you are troubled by temptation, remember:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
You may think that you are the only one who is tempted, but all believers go through similar tests. Temptation is not a sin. Even Christ was tempted (Hebrews 4:15). The sin comes only when you give in to the temptation.
To overcome temptation, take the problem to God immediately, before it has a chance to take root. Be positive in your prayers. Don’t concentrate on the thing that is tempting you, but think about godly things:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable ... think about such things.”
Ask God to bring such experiences and thoughts into your life. Meditate on
1 Corinthians 10:13 (quoted earlier) and rely on its promises whenever you are tempted.
Promise 3: The Promise of Forgiveness
You will find that learning to live the Christian life is like learning to walk. There will be many ups and downs, especially in the beginning. This is natural, as the psalmist points out:
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23–24
The devil wants to trip you up and cause you to fall. Sin hinders our relationship with God, and Satan would love to keep you in a constant condition of being out of fellowship with God!
When you were learning to walk, you often fell down. But did you stay down long? No, you reached out to the extended hand of your mother or father, who put you back on your feet. This happened often, until finally you learned to walk. You can learn to walk with God the same way: When you fall, reach out to God through prayer, and accept His merciful helping hand:
“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
Whenever you do something that displeases the Lord, as soon as the Spirit of God
has made you aware of it, make things right with God. As you do this again and again, you will come to know—firsthand!— the mercy and forgiveness of God and the joy of walking in constant fellowship with Him.
Memorize 1 John 1:9 (on your first memory verse card) and practice it daily. Take God at His Word and believe Him for forgiveness and cleansing.
Promise 4: The Promise of His Presence
Because you are human, it will be natural for you to doubt, to be frustrated at times, and to feel weak and all alone. But you are never alone; Christ is in you (Colossians 1:27), and He wants to help you become the kind of person He wants you to be:
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
He will meet your every need and will take care of you daily:
“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
You can also experience God’s presence through His indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus knew His followers’ weaknesses and need for greater spiritual strength. He wanted them to know that eventhough He would not be present with them personally, the Holy Spirit, whom we have seen is a part of the Trinity, would take His place and meet their every need. He gave them this promise:
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to help you and be with you forever.” John 14:16, HCSB
The Holy Spirit can be your Counselor or, as some Bible translations read, your “Comforter.” He can also be your teacher. As you read your Bible and ask God to help you understand it, the indwelling Spirit will “guide you into all the truth”
He will also lead you (Romans 8:14), enrich your spiritual life (John 6:63;
Romans 8:11), and empower you for Christian living (Galatians 5) and for dynamic witness to others about your faith (Acts 1:8).
The promises of salvation, of victory over temptation, of forgiveness, and of God’s abiding presence are yours this very day. Practice God’s presence, believe His promises, and walk in absolute dependence on His indwelling Holy Spirit.
Lesson 1: Your Response
Answer these questions by looking up the verses in the gospel of John.
Suggested answers are at the end of the questions.
1. What did Jesus come into the world to do? John 1:29
2. How did Jesus take away the sins of the world? John 19:16 –18
3. God loved the world and gave His Son to die on the cross. John 3:16 tells how we can personally benefit from what God has done.
A. Fill in your first name in each of the following blank spaces:
“For God loved _____ so much that He gave His only Son (Jesus) so that if believes in Him, will not perish (pay the penalty for sin), but ________will have eternal life.”
B. Physical life will end someday, but the life which God wants to give each one of us is eternal life, which means that it will never end. What must you do to have eternal life? John 3:16 ________
4. What new relationship do you now enjoy by believing in Christ?
John 1:12 ________________________________________________________
5. What happens to those who do not believe in Christ?
John 3:18 ___
John 3:36 ___
6. Eternal life is not obtained by being religious, keeping a set of rules, or doing
good works, but by believing in a person, Jesus Christ. What does Jesus say in
John 11:25 –26? _________________________________________
7. What happens the moment you believe in Christ?
John 5:24 _
8. Now, review your answers and state briefly how you know that your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life: ____________________________
Now that you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, claim the assurance of your salvation. As a child needs physical food each day to grow, a child of God needs daily spiritual food.
- Memorize the two verses for Lesson 1.
- Go on to the next lesson, “Growing in Christ.”
Suggested Answers to Lesson 1
- To take away the world’s sins.
- He died, thus paying the penalty for our sins.
- a. (Insert your name.)
b. Believe in Jesus.
- I am a child of God.
- a. They are tried and condemned.
b. They will not see life.
- Believing in Jesus Christ means life forever.
- I pass from death to life.
- (Your answer.)
Growing in Christ
God wants to meet with you—just you, personally—each and every day.
That thought may amaze you, but consider it for a moment: When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you become a member of God’s family, a child of God. You can call God your Father. Any good parent wants to spend time with his or her children—sometimes with all of them together, but often with each one alone. That is how one person gets to know another person well—by spending time alone with that individual.
The best way to get to know your heavenly Father is to spend time alone with Him. You can do this by reading His Word and by talking with Him in prayer.
You can pray to God any time of the day— driving to work, preparing dinner, washing clothes, studying at school. But you also need to find a time during your day when you can give the Lord your full attention, without any distractions.
Perhaps the morning is best for you—when you are fresh, before your active day begins. Or perhaps evening is best for you—at the close of the day, as you consider the next day’s plans and prepare for a good night’s rest.
Whatever the time of day, be consistent in your meeting with God. Jesus rose early to pray, and He went somewhere that was quiet—a good example for us to follow (Luke 5:16)!
There doesn’t need to be any set order to your time alone with God, any more than there would be in spending time with an earthly parent.
A word of greeting should come first, a short prayer to God asking Him to bless the time. Then you will want to read some of His Word to you—the Bible.
If you are just getting acquainted with the Bible, you will likely find the gospel of John the most interesting, for it is here that God’s plan of salvation is most beautifully summed up in one book.
Below you will find a schedule for reading John in 30 days: Bible Reading Plan
After you have finished reading John, you may want to continue in the book of Acts to see how the early Christians shared their faith with those around them. Sharing your faith is one of the most important things you can do for God.
If you have not read much from the Bible, you may prefer to use a modern version. Ask your pastor or someone at your local Christian bookstore to recommend one.
While you are reading the Bible, meditate on what it says. To meditate simply means to think seriously about spiritual things.
It means thinking quietly, soberly, and deeply about God—how wonderful He is, what wonderful things He has done for you, what He is going to do for you, and what He wants you to do for Him.
As you read the Bible and meditate, perhaps you will notice:
- a special promise to claim
- a guidepost for your day
- a command you should follow
- a searchlight pointing out a sin or spiritual need in your life
- a meaningful verse to memorize
Don’t read too fast or try to finish too much at one time. Take time to look for all that God has for you in the day’s passage. There’s no need to rush through your time alone with God, especially if you spend time with Him each day.
When you have read and meditated awhile, talk with God in prayer. Talk to Him as you would to an earthly parent who loves you, who wants the best for you, and who wants to help you in every way possible.
Perhaps you do not know what to talk with God about. Perhaps these suggestions will help:
- You can praise Him for who He is—Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, yet interested in each one of us!
- You can thank Him for all He has done, for all He is doing for you, and for all He has promised to do for you.
- You can admit to Him the things you have done or said or thought for which you are sorry. God tells us that He is both willing and able to forgive our sins
(1 John 1:9).
- You can pray for your family. We have a special obligation to pray for those close to us.
- You can pray for others —for friends or neighbors who have needs, both physical and spiritual.
- You can pray for yourself. Ask God’s guidance for the new day.
Ask Him to help you with any problem you might have. Ask Him to arrange opportunities for you to serve Him.
Try listing your prayer requests, so that you don’t forget any and so you can record God’s answers. (He may say “yes,” or “no,” or “wait”!) Keep your list in a small notebook or on 3" x 5" cards—something small enough to fit in your pocket or billfold or purse.
If you have spent your time alone with God in the morning, continue your day refreshed and ready for whatever may come!
If you have spent your time alone with Him in the evening, go to sleep relaxed in His care, ready to rest for a new day of service to Him.
Better yet, try to spend some time alone with Him both morning and evening!
(See Psalm 55:17.)
And remember that you can pray to the Lord any time, anywhere—in school, at work, at home—about anything—to ask for something you need or to thank Him for something you have received. As any loving earthly father would be, God is interested in all that happens to you.
He is looking forward to His time alone with you!
I met God in the morning When the day was at its best,
And His presence came like sunrise Like a glory within my breast.
All day long the presence lingered All day long He stayed with me;
And we sailed in perfect calmness O’er a very troubled sea.
Other ships were blown and battered, Other ships were sore distressed;
But the winds that seemed to drive them brought to us a peace and rest.
Then I thought of other mornings, With a keen remorse of mind,
When I, too, had loosed the moorings, With His presence left behind.
So I think I know the secret learned from many a troubled way;
You must seek God in the morning If you want Him through the day.
Ralph S. Cushman
Lesson 2: Your Response
God speaks to us through the Bible, and we in turn can speak to Him through prayer. As we carry on this dialogue, we become better acquainted. This lesson should make Bible reading and prayer more meaningful.
1. Turn to the following passages in John’s gospel, and briefly summarize the statements Jesus made about Himself.
- John 6:35 _
- John 8:12 _
- John 10:9 _
- John 11:25–26 _
2. What does Jesus promise if you keep His commandments?
John 14:21 _______________________________________
3. What further help is promised in John 14:26? __________________
4. What does Jesus ask you to do in John 13:34 –35, and why? ________
- What does He ask you to do? v. 34 ___ _
- Why? v. 35 _ _
5. Read John 21:1-6 Describe what happended in verses 3 and 6.
- v. 3 ___________________________________
- v. 6
- What important lesson can you learn from these verses? _________
- What similar truth is taught in John 15:5? __________________
6. As a believer, what is now your privilege? John 16:24 ____________
7. As you grow in Christ, your faith and confidence will increase, and you will pray with greater assurance. What are you promised in John 15:16? ___________
God the Holy Spirit is your teacher, and He uses the Scriptures to teach you. As you continue to read, study, and memorize the Scriptures—and pray—Christ will become more real and you will find fulfillment in life.
- Memorize the two verses for Lesson 2.
- Please continue now to your next lesson.
Suggested Answers to Lesson 2
- a. He is the Bread of Life.
b. He is the Light of the World.
c. He is the Gate (or door).
d. He is the Resurrection and the Life.
- He will love me and show Himself to me.
- The Holy Spirit will be my teacher.
- a. Love one another.
b. So others will know that I am His disciple.
- a. The disciples went fishing and caught nothing.
b. They obeyed Jesus and caught many fish.
c. That I should always obey Him in all things.
d. To have a fruitful life, I must abide in Him.
- To pray to God in the Name of Jesus, which will help me find fullness of joy.
- A fruitful life and answers to my prayers.
As you grow as a new Christian, you will find it absolutely essential to make Christ your Lord as well as your Savior. You will never find true contentment and fulfillment until you have surrendered complete control of your life to Him. That’s what the following story is all about.
MY HEART—CHRIST’S HOME
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes these words: “That[God]may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (3:16 –17).
Or, as another has translated, “That Christ may settle down and be at home in your hearts by faith” (Weymouth).
Without question one of the most remarkable Christian doctrines is that Jesus Christ himself through the Holy Spirit will actually enter a heart, settle down and be at home there. Christ will live in any human heart that welcomes him.
He said to his disciples, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). But he was also telling them that he was soon to leave them (John 13:33). It was difficult for them to understand what he was saying. How was it possible for him both to leave them and make his home with them at the same time?
It is interesting that Jesus uses a similar concept here (home) that he uses earlier in John 14: “I go to prepare a place for you ... that where I am, you may be also” (vv. 2–3). He was promising that just as he was going to heaven to prepare a place for them and would one day welcome them there, so it would be possible for them to prepare a place for him in their hearts now. He would come and make his home with them right here.
This was beyond their comprehension. How could it be?
Then came Pentecost. The Spirit of the living Christ was given to the church and they experienced what he had foretold. Now they understood. God did not dwell in Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem—nor in any temple made with hands! Now, through the miracle of the outpoured Spirit, God would dwell in human hearts. The body of the believer had become the temple of the living God and the human heart the home of Jesus Christ. Thirty minutes after Pentecost the disciples knew more about Jesus than they had known in the three years previously. It is difficult for me to think of a higher privilege than to make for Christ a home in my heart, to welcome, to serve, to please and to know him there.
I will never forget the evening I invited him into my heart. What an entrance he made! It was not a spectacular, emotional thing, but very real, occurring at the very center of my soul. He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire in the cold hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been stillness and harmony where there had been discord. He filled the emptiness with his own loving fellowship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will.
This, of course, is the first step in making the heart Christ’s home. He has said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). If you want to know the reality of God and the personal presence of Jesus Christ at the innermost part of your being, simply open wide the door and ask him to come in and be your Savior and Lord.
After Christ entered my heart, in the joy of that newfound relationship, I said to him, “Lord, I want this heart of mine to be yours. I want you to settle down here and be fully at home. I want you to use it as your own. Let me show you around and point out some of the features of the home so that you may be more comfortable. I want you to enjoy our time together.” He was glad to come and seemed delighted to be given a place in my ordinary, little heart.
The first room we looked at together was the study—the library. Let us call it the study of the mind. Now in my home this room of the mind is a small room with thick walls. But it is an important room. In a sense, it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books in the bookcase, the magazines on the table, the pictures on the walls. As I followed his gaze, I became uncomfortable. Strangely enough, I had not felt bad about this room before, but now that he was there with me looking at these things, I was embarrassed. There were some books on the shelves his eyes were too pure to look at. On the table were a few magazines that a Christian has no business reading. As for the pictures on the walls—the imaginations and thoughts of my mind— some of these were shameful.
Red-faced, I turned to him and said, “Master, I know this room really needs to be cleaned up and made over. Will you help me shape it up and change it to the way it ought to be?”
“Certainly,” he replied. “I’m glad to help you! I’ve come to handle things like this! First of all, take all the material you are reading and viewing which are not true, good, pure and helpful, and throw them out! Now put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Fill the library with the Scriptures and meditate on them day and night. As for the pictures on the walls, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but I have something that will help.” He gave me a full-sized portrait of himself. “Hang this centrally,” he said, “on the wall of the mind.” I did, and I have discovered through the years that when my thoughts are centered on Christ, the awareness of his presence, purity and power causes wrong and impure thoughts to back away. So he has helped me to bring my thoughts under his control, but the struggle remains.
If you have difficulty with this little room of the mind, let me encourage you to bring Christ there. Pack it full with the Word of God, study it, meditate on it and keep clearly before you the presence of the Lord Jesus.
The Dining Room
From the study we went into the dining room, the room of appetites and desires. Now this was a large room, a most important place to me. I spent a lot of time and hard work trying to satisfy all my wants.
I told him, “This is a favorite room. I’m sure you will be pleased with what we serve here.” He seated himself at the table and inquired, “What is on the menu for dinner tonight?”
“Well,” I said, “my favorite dishes: money, academic degrees, stocks, with newspaper articles of fame and fortune as side dishes.” These were the things I liked, thoroughly secular fare. There was nothing so very bad in any of them, but it was not really the kind of food which would feed the soul and satisfy true spiritual hunger.
When the plates were placed before my new friend, he said nothing. However, I observed that he did not eat. I asked, somewhat disturbed, “Savior, don’t you like this food? What is the trouble?”
He answered, “I have food to eat you do not know of. My food is to do the will of him that sent me.” He looked at me again and said, “If you want food that really satisfies you, do the will of your heavenly Father. Put his pleasure before your own. Stop striving for your own desires, your own ambitions, your own satisfactions. Seek to please him. That food will really satisfy you. Try a bit of it!”
And there about the table he gave me a taste of doing God’s will. What flavor! There is no food like it in all the world. It alone satisfies. At the end everything else leaves you hungry.
What’s the menu in the dining room of our desires? What kind of food are we serving our divine companion and serving ourselves? “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16), our self-centered wants? Or are we finding God’s will to be our soul-satisfying meat and drink?
The Living Room
We moved next into the living room. This was a quiet, comfortable room with a warm atmosphere. I liked it. It had a fireplace, sofa, overstuffed chairs, a bookcase and an intimate atmosphere.
He also seemed pleased with it. He said, “Indeed, this is a delightful room. Let’s come here often. It’s secluded and quiet, and we can have good talks and fellowship together.”
Well, naturally, as a young Christian I was thrilled. I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes alone with Christ in close companionship.
He promised, “I will be here every morning early. Meet me here and we will start the day together.”
So, morning after morning, I would go downstairs to the living room. He would take a book of the Bible from the bookcase, open it, and we would read it together. He would unfold to me the wonder of God’s saving truth recorded on its pages and make my heart sing as he shared all he had done for me and would be to me. Those times together were wonderful. Through the Bible and his Holy Spirit he would talk to me. In prayer I would respond. So our friendship deepened in these quiet times of personal conversation.
However, under the pressure of many responsibilities, little by little, this time began to be shortened. Why, I’m not sure. Somehow I assumed I was just too busy to give special, regular time to be with Christ. This was not a deliberate decision, you understand; it just seemed to happen that way. Eventually not only was the period shortened, but I began to miss days now and then, such as during midterms or finals. Matters of urgency demanding my attention were continually crowding out the quiet times of conversation with Jesus. Often I would miss it two days in a row or more.
One morning, I recall rushing down the steps in a hurry to be on my way to an important appointment.
As I passed the living room, the door was open. Glancing in I saw a fire in the fireplace and Jesus sitting there. Suddenly, in dismay, it came to me, “He is my guest. I invited him into my heart! He has come as my Savior and Friend to live with me. Yet here I am neglecting him.”
I stopped, turned and hesitantly went in. With downcast glance I said, “Master, I’m sorry! Have you been here every morning?”
“Yes,” he said, “I told you I would be here to meet with you.” I was even more ashamed! He had been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. I asked him to forgive me and he did, as he always does when we acknowledge our failures and want to do the right thing.
He said, “The trouble is that you have been thinking of the quiet time, of Bible study and prayer, as a means for your own spiritual growth. This is true, but you have forgotten that this time means something to me also. Remember, I love you. At a great cost I have redeemed you. I value your fellowship. Just to have you look up into my face warms my heart. Don’t neglect this hour if only for my sake. Whether or not you want to be with me, remember I want to be with you. I really love you!”
You know, the truth that Christ wants my fellowship, that he loves me, wants me to be with him and waits for me, has done more to transform my quiet time with God than any other single fact. Don’t let Christ wait alone in the living room of your heart, but every day find a time and place when, with the Word of God and in prayer, you may be together with him.
Before long he asked, “Do you have a workroom in your house?”
Out in the garage of the home of my heart I had a workbench and some equipment, but I was not doing much with it. Once in a while I would play around at making a few little gadgets, but I wasn’t producing anything substantial.
I took him out there.
He looked over the workbench and the few talents and skills I had. He said, “This is fairly well furnished. What are you producing with your life for the kingdom of God?” He looked at one or two of the little toys that I had thrown together on the bench and he held one up to me. “Is this the sort of thing you are doing for others in your Christian life?”
I felt terrible! “Lord, that’s the best I can do. I know it isn’t much. I’m ashamed to say that with my awkwardness and limited ability, I don’t think I’ll ever do much more.”
“Would you like to do better?” he asked. “You know I would!” I replied.“Well, first remember what I taught you: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).
“Come, relax in me and let my Spirit work through you. I know you are unskilled, clumsy and awkward, but the Spirit is the Masterworker. If he controls your heart and your hands, he will work through you. Now turn around.” Then putting his great strong arms around me and his hands under mine he picked up the tools and began to work through me. “Relax. You are still too tense. Let go—let me do the work!”
It amazes me what his skilled hands can do through mine if I only trust him and let him have his way. I am very far from satisfied with the product that is being turned out. I still get in his way at times. There’s much more that I need to learn. But I do know that whatever has been produced for God has been through him and through the power of his Spirit in me.
Don’t be discouraged because you cannot do much for God. It’s not our ability but our availability that’s important. Give what you are to Christ. Be sensitive and responsive to what he wants to do. Trust him. He will surprise you with what he can do through you!
The Rec Room
I remember the time he inquired about the rec room, where I went for fun and fellowship. I was hoping he would not ask me about that. There were certain associations and activities I wanted to keep for myself. I did not think Jesus would enjoy or approve of them. I evaded the question.
However, one evening when I was on my way out with some of my buddies for a night on the town, he was at the door and stopped me with a glance. “Are you going out?”
I answered, “Yes.”
“Good,” he said, “I would like to go with you.”
“Oh,” I replied rather awkwardly. “I don’t think, Lord, that you would really enjoy where we are going. Let’s go out together tomorrow night. Tomorrow night we can go to a Bible class or a social at the church, but tonight I have another engagement.”
“As you wish,” was his comment. “Only I thought when I came into your home we were going to do everything together—be close companions! Just know that I am willing to go with you!”
“Well,” I said, “we’ll go someplace together tomorrow night!”
That evening I spent some miserable hours. I felt rotten! What kind of a friend was I to Jesus? Deliberately leaving him out of part of my life, doing things and going places that I knew very well he would not enjoy? When I returned that evening, there was a light in his room and I went up to talk it over with him. I acknowledged, “Lord, I have learned my lesson. I know now I can’t have a good time if you are not along. From now on we will do everything together!”
Then we went down together into the rec room of the house. He transformed it. He brought new friendships, new excitement, new joys. Laughter and music have been ringing in the house ever since. With a twinkle in his eye, he smiled, “You thought that with me around you wouldn’t have much fun, didn’t you? Remember, I have come ‘that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full’” (John 15:11).
One day when we were in my bedroom he asked me about the picture next to my bed.
“That’s a picture of my girlfriend,” I told him. Though I knew my relationship with my girlfriend was a good one, I felt funny talking to him about it. She and I were struggling with some issues and I didn’t want to discuss them with him. I tried to change the subject.
But Jesus must have known what I was thinking. “You are beginning to question my teaching on sex, aren’t you? That intercourse is only for those who are joined in the covenant of marriage? You’re feeling I may be asking something unnatural if not impossible for you. You’re afraid my will on this will limit the full enjoyment of life and love. Isn’t that true?”
“Yes,” I confessed.
“Then listen carefully to what I am saying,” he continued. “I forbid adultery and premarital sex not because sex is bad but because it is good. Beyond the physical ecstasy it is a means of bonding two lives in deepening love. It has the creative power to bring human life into being. Sex is powerful. Used properly sex has tremendous potential for good. Used improperly, it destroys the good. For this reason God intends it to be expressed only within the commitment of a loving life partnership. There is far more to love than just sex.
“Let me help you in your relationship with the opposite sex. If you should fail and feel shame and guilt, know I still love you and will remain with you. Talk to me about it! Acknowledge the wrong! Take steps to avoid it happening again! Rely on my strength to keep you from falling and to lead you into a relationship of love in marriage where two truly become one in me.”
The Hall Closet
There’s one more matter of crucial consequence I would like to share with you. One day I found him waiting for me at the front door. An arresting look was in his eye. As I entered, he said to me, “There’s a peculiar odor in the house. Something must be dead around here. It’s upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet.”
As soon as he said this I knew what he was talking about. Indeed there was a small closet up there on the hall landing, just a few feet square. In that closet behind lock and key I had one or two little personal things I did not want anybody to know about. Certainly I did not want Christ to see them. They were dead and rotting things leftover from the old life—not wicked, but not right and good to have in a Christian life. Yet I loved them. I wanted them so much for myself I was really afraid to admit they were there. Reluctantly I went up the stairs with him and as we mounted, the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed at the door and said, “It’s in there! Some dead thing!”
It made me angry! That’s the only way I can put it. I had given him access to the study, the dining room, the living room, the workroom, the rec room, the bedroom and now he was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said to myself, “This is too much! I am not going to give him the key.”
“Well,” he responded, reading my thoughts, “if you think I am going to stay up here on the second floor with this smell, you are mistaken. I will take my bed out on the back porch or somewhere else. I’m certainly not going to stay around that.” And I saw him start down the stairs.
When you have come to know and love Jesus Christ, one of the worst things that can happen is to sense him withdrawing his face and fellowship. I had to give in. “I’ll give you the key,” I said sadly, “but you’ll have to open the closet and clean it out. I haven’t the strength to do it.”
“I know,” he said. “I know you haven’t. Just give me the key. Just authorize me to handle that closet and I will.” So, with trembling fingers, I passed the key over to him. He took it from my hand, walked over to the door, opened it, entered it, took out the putrefying stuff that was rotting there and threw it all away. Then he cleansed the closet, painted it and fixed it up all in a moment’s time. Immediately a fresh, fragrant breeze swept through the house. The whole atmosphere changed.
What release and victory to have that dead thing out of my life! No matter what sin or what pain there might be in my past, Jesus is ready to forgive, to heal and to make whole.
Transferring the Title
Then a thought came to me. I said to myself, “I have been trying to keep this heart of mine clean and available for Christ but it is hard work. I start on one room and no sooner have I cleaned it than I discover another room is dirty. I begin on the second room and the first one is already dusty again. I’m getting tired trying to maintain a clean heart and an obedient life. I just am not up to it!”
Suddenly I asked, “Lord, is there a possibility you would be willing to manage the whole house and operate it for me just as you did that closet? Could I give to you the responsibility of keeping my heart what it ought to be and myself doing what I ought to be doing?”
I could see his face light up as he replied, “I’d love to! This is exactly what I came to do. You can’t live out the Christian life in your own strength. That is impossible. Let me do it for you and through you.
That’s the only way it will really work! But,” he added slowly, “I am not the owner of this house. Remember, I’m here as your guest. I have no authority to take charge since the property is not mine.”
In a flash it all became clear. Excitedly I exclaimed, “Lord, you have been my guest, and I have been trying to play the host. From now on you are going to be the owner and master of the house. I’m going to be the servant!”
Running as fast as I could to the strongbox, I took out the title deed to the house describing its assets and liabilities, its condition, location and situation. Then rushing back to him, I eagerly signed it over giving title to him alone for time and eternity. Dropping to my knees, I presented it to him, “Here it is, all that I am and have forever. Now you run the house. Just let me stay with you as houseboy and friend.”
He took my life that day and I can give you my word, there is no better way to live the Christian life. He knows how to keep it and use it. A deep peace settled down on my soul that has remained. I am his and he is mine forever!
May Christ settle down and be at home as Lord of your heart also.
Lesson 3: Your Response
What did you think of that story? What do the “rooms” of your own heart look like? Are they ready for a visit from your Lord? Are you ready to sign over to Him the title deed of your spiritual house? Perhaps the following questions will help you understand more about the joy of truly surrendering your life to God’s control.
- Study 1 Corinthians 6:19 –20 and answer three important questions concerning Christ’s lordship over your life:
- Now that you are a Christian, what has your body become? v. 19
- Why do you now belong to Christ? vv. 19 –20_____________________________________________
- What should now be your purpose in life? v. 20_____________________________________________
- Briefly summarize what you think Jesus was teaching in the parable of the wise and foolish builders: Luke 6:46–49
- What must we do if we call Jesus our Lord? v. 46
- What spiritual truth is represented by the house built on the rock? vv. 47–48
- What spiritual truth is represented by the house with no foundation? v. 4
What does the Apostle James say about obeying the Bible?
James 1:22–25 ___________________________________________
Obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord is the true test of your commitment to Him.
What does the Apostle John say about obedience? 1 John 2:3–6
What is another sure way of knowing you belong to Christ?
1 John 3:14
As you grow in Christ, there will be times when you fail Him. No one except Christ has ever lived a perfect life. Be willing to admit you have failed and confess your sin. Briefly summarize what 1 John 1:8–10 teaches about confession and forgiveness:
v. 8 ___
v. 10 ______________________________________________
v. 9 ___
What can you thank God for right now, concerning your need for God’s forgiveness?
1 John 2:1–2 ___________________________________________
Memorize the two verses for Lesson 3.
Please continue now to your final lesson. This could be the most important lesson of all. It concerns sharing your faith with others.
Witnessing for Christ
As He began His ministry, Jesus called two fishermen, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and said, “Come, follow me, ... and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19). Through the ages, the same call has gone out to all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. He reaches the lost today through faithful witnesses like you. The Apostle Paul said that God has “committedto us the message of reconciliation” and that “weare therefore Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:19–20).
As you seek to be a witness for Christ, your life is a key part of your witness.
Because you are a new creation, you need to demonstrate your new faith by your conduct. Jesus said, “Letyour light shine beforeothers, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). This means your habits and lifestyle should commend the Lord Jesus Christ and help to draw others to Him. It does not mean that you must become perfect before you can witness. You surely will stumble from time to time as you are learning to walk. But as you learned in the last lesson, God is willing to forgive your sins and put you back on your feet again.
But living as a good example will not, in and of itself, make you aneffective witness. You also need a power beyond yourself. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, who indwells all believers. The Bible says,
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
When your life is clean and you walk under the control of the Holy Spirit, He is able to witness through you. For example, we read in Acts about a man named Philip who was chosen to serve the church because he was “fullof the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3). Philip was having a successful ministry in Samaria (Acts 8:4–13) when an angel summoned him to go to Gaza (Acts 8:26), where an Ethiopian official was returning from Jerusalem and reading from chapter 53 of Isaiah. Using his God-given wisdom, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Philip “began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35).
Your life is an essential part of your witness, and the Holy Spirit is indispensable in witnessing. But there is a third ingredient without which there can be no effective witness: the Word of God.
In the witness of Philip, we saw how God had sovereignly placed the appropriate Scriptures in the hands of the Ethiopian. The Bible says that we have been “bornagain ... through theliving and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). When the seed, which is God’s Word, is planted in a prepared heart, it produces the fruit of a new believer in Christ.
The question now is, “How do I start witnessing for Christ? What do I say?” To begin with, you can always share how Christ changed your own life. There is great power in a simple and honest personal testimony. It is also helpful, however, to have a practical outline in mind as to how you will present the facts of the Gospel.
The Gospel Message
God’s Plan—Peace and Life
God created us not as robots, but as personal beings made in His own image (Genesis 1:27). He created us with the ability to relate to Him on an intelligent level. He gave us freedom of choice so that we could choose whether or not to love and obey Him. Just as we humans experience our deepest love from other humans, who have the freedom to accept or reject us, so also our Creator wanted a being who could love Him more than the rest of His creation.
When God had finished creating the world, He declared that everything in it—including human beings—was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Our Problem—Separation From God
Right away, God gave the humans He had created an opportunity to choose whether or not to obey Him. He placed Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden with just one regulation: They could eat of the fruit of every tree but one; to eat of that tree would mean spiritual death and separation from God (Genesis 2:16–17). Unfortunately, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God (Genesis 3:6) and were therefore separated from Him (Genesis 3:22–24). This separation exists today for all who are without Christ as Lord and Savior:
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned ...” Romans 5:12
Even though Adam and Eve committed the “original” (first) sin, simple observation shows us that every human who has ever lived has been a sinner as well—as this verse states.
As a result of this universal sin, a chasm or gulf has become fixed between God and humans, as shown in the diagram below. Through the ages, people have tried to bridge this chasm in many different ways, but without success. As the illustration shows, they have tried various religions, good works, morality, and various philosophies of life to bridge the gap:
As we will see in step 3, there is only one remedy for this separation:
Truth 3: God’s Remedy—The Cross
Jesus Christ is the only answer to this problem of separation between human beings and God. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the grave, He paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between us and God. His death and resurrection make a new life possible for all who believe in Him. The Bible says,
“Forthere is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:5–6
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He made it possible for sinful people to be reconciled to God. The Apostle Peter said, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Regardless of popular opinion that there are many ways to get to God, Jesus said,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
It is faith in Jesus Christ and not human effort that brings us to God. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. It is grace all the way:
“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
Yes, God has provided the only way, but we must make the choice.
That brings us to step 4, the vital step of faith:
Truth 4: Our Response—Receive Christ
We must all come to the place where we are willing to admit, “I am a sinner.” Then we must be willing to repent, or turn, from our sins. The Bible says, “Repent,then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19). To repent means to change your thinking and to change the direction of your life. It means turning to Jesus Christ, who is the door to eternal life, the door to God and heaven.
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” John 10:9
The door to forgiveness and salvation is through the cross of Christ.
By faith, we must trust Him and receive Him as our Savior and Lord. When we do, we become children of God:
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
Eternal life then becomes a present possession:
“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
By faith we cross the bridge from death to eternal life through the cross.
Now let us look at the four steps as a whole:
God’s Plan ............................................... Peace and Life
Our Problem ................................. Separation From God
God’s Remedy ...............................................The Cross
Our Response.......................................... Receive Christ
Which side are you on?
All you need to explain the Gospel using this graphic illustration is a pen and piece of paper. As you draw your illustration and explain the Gospel, try this four-step method of presentation:
Step 1: Explain the facts.
First, share the facts: On the top of your page, list the four truths presented on the previous page: “God’s Plan,” “Our Problem,” “God’s Remedy,” “Our Response.” List them one at a time and use a Scripture or two with each one.
After you list the first basic truth, “God’s Plan—Peace and Life,” read a Scripture or two and say, “Eternal life is not automatic, because we have a problem. Let me illustrate.” Then draw the graphic of God on one side of the chasm and us on the other. As you draw, share the Scriptures that explain how the separation took place. Work your way on to the second diagram, showing how the cross bridges the chasm between us and God, and how we can cross the bridge through faith in Christ.
Step 2: Invite a response.
If you feel led by the Spirit and the person is responding positively, proceed to the second step and offer an invitation, saying, “If this illustration is true—and I believe with all my heart that it is—then all of humankind is on either one side of the chasm or the other:
- “There are those who by personal faith in Jesus Christ have crossed the bridge and are now in God’s family.”
- “Then, there are multitudes who may be religious, striving to do good works and to be morally upright, but who have never committed their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They are still in their sins, separated from God.
Then ask, “Which side are you on? Here ... or here?” If the person is unsure or definitely realizes that he or she is on the wrong side, let the person know that he or she can be sure of his or her position by:
- Admitting your need. (I am a sinner.)
- Being willing to turn from your sin, and ask God to forgive you (repent).
- Believing that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.
- Through prayer, inviting Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit. (Receive Him as Lord and Savior.)
Step 3: Pray with the person responding.
The third step is the prayer of commitment. The Scripture says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Remember, Jesus Christ is the door to eternal life.
Through prayer we can enter that door and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Lead the person in a simple prayer, such as:
Dear Lord Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness.
I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.
I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life.
I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.
In Your Name, amen.
Step 4: Confirm the new believer in his or her decision.
If the person sincerely prays that prayer, he or she is a Christian and has been saved from eternal death! You will want to share some Scriptures to give the person assurance of his or her new standing before God:
What happens when we believe in Jesus Christ? The Bible says,
“ForGod 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
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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 5:12–13
4: Your Response
A witness in a courtroom tells what he or she knows about a given situation. The Christian witness tells others what he or she knows about Jesus Christ and what it means to personally trust Him.
What is the Good News (Gospel) that we should share?
1 Corinthians 15:1–4
What power does the Gospel possess?
Romans 1:16 ____________________________________
What are three things an effective witness for Christ must have?
- Matthew 5:16
- Acts 1:8
- 1 Peter 1:22–23
Review the preceding message on witnessing and briefly explain the “Bridge to Life” illustration (pages 35–40). ______________________________
Once a person is convinced of his or her sin and need of a Savior, what should that person do?
- Acts 3:19
- John 10:9
- John 1:12
When a person believes in Jesus Christ, what can he or she now say with assurance? John 3:16 ___________________________________
Memorize the two verses for Lesson 4.
The four memory verse cards below are a very important part of your completion of this Living in Christ Bible study. After each of the four lessons in this booklet, you should memorize the two verses for that lesson. As you use each card, write down the verse and keep it in a convenient place for frequent review.
|Lesson 1 ~ Promise of Salvation
For God so loved the world that he gave his one
Lesson 1 ~ Promise of Forgiveness
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
|Lesson 2 - Confidence in Prayer
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
1 John 5:14–15
Lesson 2 ~Victory Through God’s Word
How can a young man stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. . . . I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:9, 11
|Lesson 3 ~ Confirmation of My Love for God
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.
Lesson 3 ~ Applying God’s Word
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
|Lesson 4 ~ Telling Others About Christ
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Lesson 4 ~Telling Others About Christ
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Do you doubt your ability to memorize these Bible verses? Maybe these tips will help:
Say it aloud.
Say the verse aloud so that you can hear it as well as see it and think it. Do you ever find yourself thinking about a song you have recently heard? Or about something someone has said to you? The ear remembers! Use this built-in “memory chip” to help you memorize Scripture.
Say it the same way each time.
Each of the four memory verse cards includes a topic name, such as “Applying God’s Word,” along with the verse and the reference. Each time you say the verse, do so in this order:
- The topic
- The reference
- The verse
- Repeat the reference
Reciting these four elements the same way each time will help you to firmly fix the passage in your mind.
Say it one phrase at a time.
If you find the verse “too big for one bite,” memorize it a phrase at a time, adding each phrase in order till you have the whole verse. Even if you start with just three or four words, say the reference before and after the phrase.
Say it again and again.
The real secret of Scripture memorization is review, review, review. Quote the verses often, asking God for deep understanding and seeking to apply each verse to your life.
Who Jesus Is
First Miracle & Cleansing of Temple
The New Birth - You Must Be Born Again
The Samaritan Woman
Jesus, the Son of God
Feeding the Five thousand
Jesus, the Bread of Life
Jesus Teaching in the Temple
Jesus' Conflict with the Pharisees
Healing the Blind Man
Jesus, the Good Shepherd
Jesus Is Divine
Lazarus Raised From the Dead
Jesus Enters Jerusalem
The Last Supper
Apostles Receive Comfort
Promise of Holy Spirit
Abiding in Christ
Work of the Holy Spirit
Jesus Prays for His Followers
Arrest of Jesus
Peter Denies Jesus
Jesus Before Pilate
Jesus Is condemned
Jesus Is Buried
Events Following Resurrection