As A New Christian You Should Crave God's Word - His Spiritual Milk

by Joe McKinney - The BibleWayOnline Publisher
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Table of Contents
1. Were You Born? It's Timeto Eat.
2. Your Body is Now the Temple of the Holy Spirit of God
3. You Are Still In The World But You Are No Longer Of The World
4. You Are Now A Disciple Of Jesus Christ

5. You Must Grow Or Else You Will Die
6. Take Your Place In The Family Of God
7. The Purpose And Mission Of The Church
8. The Church Assembles For Worship And Edification
9. Who Are You In The Body Of Christ?
10. Be Fruitful And Multiply

11. Reproduce Yourself
12. You Are His Servant
13. Reproduction Of Authentic Christianity
14. To Be Just A Christian
15. God's Plan For Our Salvation
16. Evangelize Your Family
17. Can You Really Know - The Evidence

WERE YOU BORN? IT’S TIME TO EAT!

"…as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." I Peter 2:2-3

Like a newborn baby soon after it’s birth starts seeking the mother’s breast to feed, as a newborn Christian, you need to feed yourself with the Word of God. Before understanding theology and doctrines; before knowing how to crawl or walk; even before understanding the importance of nutrition to your health, you need spiritual nutrition. It comes from the Word. So start now. Do not wait even a single day. Take the Bible and start your daily nourishment. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.

LISTEN TO THE WORD
Do not miss the meetings of the church and, when you attend, pay attention to the sermons and Bible classes. Always have pen and paper with you to make notes. You may need to review them at home and get together with someone to clear up any doubts. Be diligent in doing this. Be like that newborn baby that sometimes acts as though it is dying of hunger! And of course, you will never want to arrive at the church meetings without your Bible.

READ THE WORD
Read all of the Bible in one year. There are printed plans where you can record each chapter you’ve read. By reading three chapters a day and five on Sundays, you will read the whole Bible in one year! This will give you a general survey of the Bible. Since it is a reading and not an intensive study, it may be helpful to use an “easy-to-read” version of the Bible. For deeper studies use a more literal translation like NKJV or NASB

STUDY THE WORD.
Pray, asking God for understanding. Let God's Holy Spirit speak to you through His Word. Instead of studying what somebody else thinks about some passage, read for yourself in the words that the Holy Spirit directed to be written. Read directly from the Bible. This will be your own personal study.

Follow a system of study. It’s not wise to open blindly to just anywhere in the Bible and start studying without thinking about the context. The diligent student is always building on what he has already learned. So study a book, a chapter, or some Bible topic.

Take notes of your thoughts, questions, doubts and reflections during your study. Keep a special notebook to do it in. All of us know that a good thought, a special perception or a new understanding is easily forgotten. Write down the results of your studies.

Think about the following questions and make notes of the answers in your study notebook:
        What does this word mean? Analyze verse by verse. Define the
        difficult words. Take note of a reference to a parallel passage.
        Make an outline of the paragraph.

        What don’t I understand? Write your doubts and questions.
        Many of your doubts will become clear as you study other parts
        of the Bible.

        What is the summary of this passage? Be brief.

Choose some verses to memorize. Without a doubt. Jesus did this. Make a list of the memorized verses to review them frequently.

Meditate on what you’ve studied. This is a very important step. Meditation is what will give depth to your study of the Word. It doesn’t mean a method of meditation, like some eastern religions use (transcendental meditation, for example), but simply that you reflect, think, apply and analyze what you’ve learned in the Word.

MAKE A PERSONAL APPLICATION OF THE WORD.
Apply the lesson to yourself, asking about each passage:
    Is there some example I can follow?
    Is there something that I must avoid?
    Is there a commandment that I should obey?
    Is there a promise that would prove beneficial?
    What does this passage teach about God or Jesus?
    Is there some difficulty to be examined?
    Is there something that I should pray about?
    What will help me with my problems?

SHARE THE WORD
Choose somebody and share some significant with them, truths that you are learning in your studies. This serves for their edification and more. When you express to others what you’ve studied, then this knowledge becomes your own personal property.

PRACTICE THE WORD
As James wrote, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22) The true knowledge of the Word of God comes when you put into practice what it teaches. Be like the wise man that built his house on the rock instead of on the sand. (Matthew 7:24-28)

A SUGGESTION
Choose a commandment, attribute or biblical principle each week to practice. Write this in your study notebook and day by day, look for opportunities to practice what the word is teaching you. This way the Word of God becomes the Living Word in you.

MEMORIZE:
II Timothy 3:16, 17. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Questions
1. As a newborn Christian are you feeding on God's word?

       

2. How does one learn what God desires of them?

Read their Bible

Study with other Christians

Search the Internet

All the above

A and B

3. A diligent student is always increasing his knowledge of God's word by determining if there are other scriptures about the subject being studied?

       

4. A good student must understand the meaning of words in their context in order to understand what God has stated in His message to them?

       

5. How does one make application of God's word

Is there some example I can follow?

Is there something that I must avoid?

Is there a commandment that I should obey?

Is there a promise that would prove beneficial?

What does this passage teach about God or Jesus?

Is there some difficulty to be examined?

Is there something that I should pray about?

All the above

YOUR BODY IS NOW THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD

The newborn baby leaves his mother’s womb to enter into a new world. This can be a big shock but there is no turning back. He can never return to his mother’s womb. The same thing happens to the new Christian. The change of life is radical and there is no return. In fact whoever thinks about going back should know that for the ones who return to the old life after having been born again in Christ, " the latter end is worse for them than the beginning." (II Peter 2:20-22). You need to understand the nature of your new life in Christ in order for you to assume your new identity. Who are you now that you’ve been born of the water and of the Spirit?

"...therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (II Corinthians 5:17)

"Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4)

YOUR BODY WAS PURCHASED BY JESUS CHRIST
12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (I Corinthians 6:12-20)
Your physical body now has a divine purpose - vv12, 13. Think about this: the purpose of a suitcase is to carry clothes and the purpose of a stove is to cook food. So, what do you do with the suitcase and stove? Sweeping the floor with the suitcase, or playing games on the stove would not be the correct use for these things. It is the same with your body now that it belongs to the Lord and is to be used for His purposes.

Your body is so important that, someday, God will raise it from the dead - v14. All who have the Holy Spirit living in them, have the guarantee that they will be risen to the glory of God. The Bible says "you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14). You have a guarantee from God that He will not leave your body in the grave, but in the resurrection, you will receive a glorified body, no longer subject to pain, sickness, loneliness or sorrow. You will have a body suitable for the good things of life: joy, happiness, immortality, peace and eternal fellowship in Heaven with Jesus, God and all His other sons.

Your body is a member of the Lord - v15. If you had the power to control the legs, the arms, the eyes or the hands of Jesus, what would you do with them? Would you carry them to indecent places? Would you expose them to pornography? Would you participate in filthy habits? Would you commit immoral acts? Would you smoke? Would you drink? Would you take drugs? Would you hurt these members of His body? Would you kill them? Of course not! Even so do not treat your body, which is a member of Christ’s body, in this way.

Your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit of God - v19. God’s sanctuary is a place for worship to take place in a spirit of reverence and dedication.

Your body is not yours. – vv19-20. You are only a caretaker (steward, administrator) of God’s belongings and not the owner so always ask yourself: "What does God want me to do with this body of His?"

"I live in a house. It’s not a perfect house. It has its good points and bad points but in spite of everything, I like it. I’ve lived in it for so long that I’ve grown accustomed to it. Some time ago, the richest, purest, most generous, kindest and most wonderful man in the world bought my house. he paid a high price for it - more than it was worth - so, evidently, he wanted it very much. He bought it, but did not evict me from it. In fact, He came to live in the house with me. I have to confess that it is great to have him in the same house with me, but I also have to confess that I had to make some changes. Now, I feel the need to take better care of the house, to keep it clean and to never do anything that he disapproves of because he bought it - the house belongs to him. It’s not mine anymore." It’s obvious that this house is my body. Jesus bought it and came to live in it with me, through the Holy Spirit. Now I want to use it as He wishes because He is the owner and I am the tenant. Now, before doing anything, speaking any word, thinking any thought, participating in any activity, I want to ask: "Is this the right thing to do with the body that belongs to Jesus?"


QUESTIONABLE USES OF GOD’S TEMPLE

Sometimes it’s hard to decide if a certain activity is prohibited or allowed. Even among religious people, there are big differences of opinions about certain things. For example: dancing, drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking, watching TV, participating in sports, playing cards, going to the movies, going to the swimming pool, playing the lottery, working in a bar, wearing a mini-skirt, voting in the elections, being a politician, listening to certain music, using drugs, getting married to an unbeliever, being in the military, etc.

We don’t find specific rules about these things in the Bible. It’s not always enough to just look for a simple prohibition or permission in the Bible. The Bible often teaches by principles instead of rules and regulations. Here are some questions, then, that you might ask yourself before taking part in some activity:

         Decide, first of all, that you are going to do God’s will, before even knowing what His will is. (Read John 7:17.) Ask yourself honestly: "What is the desire of my heart? To please God or please myself?" (See Matthew 6:33 and Romans 12:1,2.)

        Does the Bible have some clear instruction or teaching about this activity?

        Will this activity force me to have some association that could corrupt me by its influence? (I Corinthians 5:13)

        Is this activity unnecessarily harmful to my health? (Romans 12:1; I Corinthians 10:31)

        Is this activity going to hinder me in fulfilling my responsibilities as a Christian? (II Corinthians 6:14-18)

        Can this activity damage my influence as a Christian before others? (Romans 12:2; I Corinthians 8:7-13; 10:23-38; II Corinthians 7:1; Titus 2:12)

        Could this activity cause my brother to stumble (to fall into sin)? (Romans 14)

        Do I have doubts about this activity? If I do it, would I be acting against  my own conscience? (Romans 14:23)

        What would Jesus do in my place? (I Peter 2:21)

Questions
1. Being buried with Christ in baptism and walking a new life means one has did to their sinful past.

       

2. A Christians physical body belongs to Christ.

       

3. A Christian's body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, therefore they are a servant of God not their own master.

       

4. Since the Holy Spirit lives within a Christian's body, one needs to

Take physical care of their body

Keep it clean of sinful practices

Do nothing as the Holy Spirit is spirit not physical

A and B

5. The New Covenant established by Christ is

A set of rules and regulations one must follow

An agreement to those who put their trust in Christ by obedience that their sins are forgiven and eternal life awaits.

YOU ARE STILL IN THE WORLD BUT YOU ARE NO LONGER OF THE WORLD


CHRIST’S PRAYER FOR HIS DISCIPLES
"I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." (John 17:15-16) When you received Christ as Lord and Savior, you rejected the world ("world" here refers to the bad things of this life: the illicit desires, selfishness, works of the flesh, materialism, etc.). Your loyalty is no longer to the world. It’s even considered your enemy. Not only are you to love Christ and His way, but you are also to stop loving the world. Open your Bible and read I John 2:15-17 and see the relationship between you, the Christian, and the world. Think about the following truths:

The love of the world blocks man’s heart so that he is not able to receive God’s love. Like water and oil, the two do not mix. (v15)

None of the ways of the world comes from God. The illicit desires, the pride, the egotism - these things come from the world, from the evil one, and not from God. (v 16)

The world, with its desires, will be destroyed. He who remains is the one who does God’s will. (v 17)

WE ARE DIFFERENT FROM THE WORLD
The Christian and the world are opposed to one another and are mutually exclusive. The Christian has to be separated from the world! But, how? Does it mean that you have to stop studying and working, or that you have to run away to a desert island, where none of the contamination of the world could reach you? Of course not! The Christian is in the world but he is not of the world. He is very different from the people of the world and this difference is reflected in his life. Anyone who observes your life, seeing your behavior, should easily notice that you are now a follower of Jesus Christ! Brethren, we are different!

Read Colossians 3:5-16. And notice the things that the Christian does and does not practice. See how different it is from the world’s way. The Christian does not practice: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lies. The Christian Practices: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, forgiving one another, love, peace and thankfulness.

NOW THAT YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN YOU CAN RESIST TEMPTATION
The eternal purpose of God for us is to make us holy, blameless and without reproach. (Read Colossians 1:21,22 and Ephesians 1:4; 5:25-27). Our situation is that we are in the world but we don’t belong to the world. Even though we are being sanctified (separated) to serve God (I Corinthians 6:9-11) and live holy lives (Romans 6:11-12), we are still subject to temptations. However, now that we are Christians there is a big difference. We have heaven’s help in the fight against sin! Let’s note some things about temptation and the Christian.

The danger of temptation is the possibility of apostasy (a falling away from God). Read Hebrews 3:1-19 and notice:
        This warning is sent to " holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,."v 1

        The condition to receive the blessing is to remain firm until the end. vv6,14

        An example of apostasy was Israel in the desert vv 7-11

        The warning: sin can deceive you and harden your heart and you can end up losing your promised "rest." vv 12,13,19

A summary: "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11) and "He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight; if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard" (Colossians 1:22,23).

HOW CAN WE REMAIN FIRM, RESISTING SATAN’S TEMPTATIONS UNTIL THE END?
"Put on the whole armor of God". Ephesians 6:10-18.

"Add to your faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love." II Peter 1:5-11.

The Divine Assurance (I Corinthians 10:13). "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able".

Our Divine help (Romans 8:26,27). The Holy Spirit, who lives inside you, helps you in your weakness, interceding for you.

WHAT SHALL WE DO WHEN THE TEMPTER COMES?
(Matthew 4:1-11). Remember that even in the life of Jesus temptation was necessary. (Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. Or in Mark’s words, the Spirit drove him.) He was perfected; that is, qualified to be our sacrifice and High Priest (Hebrews 2:17,18; 4:15,16) in the process. As in Jesus’ case, your faith has to be tried also. Is there a risk in this? Yes, but he who never enters the race, will never be a winner. God tests our faith (I Peter 1:7; James 1:2-4,12,13) but He doesn’t tempt us to sin. Jesus was taken by God to be tested but He was not tempted by God.

Recognize that Satan is the tempter. He is the one who wants to overthrow us. When he comes around saying things like, "Do it, nobody will know"; "Do it, God does not care if you do"; "Do it, God does not know what you need"; "Do it, you will feel good"; "Do it, you just live once so have some fun while you can"; "Do it, God wants you to be happy", remember that these thoughts come from someone who is only trying to destroy you.

When the tempter comes to you, then say as Christ said, "No, I will not do that, because it is written … you will need to be able to do something else too. You'll need:
        To know God’s Word.
        To believe in God’s Word.
        To decide to do God’s will in advance.
        To remember God’s word when the tempter comes around.

When the tempter came to Eve, she knew God's Word but she did not believe it. In Ananias and Saphira's case, they knew and believed but did not decide to obey Him. When temptation came to David, he knew, believed and decided to obey in advance but he did not remember at the moment of the temptation. Jesus knew, believed, decided to obey in advance and at the time of temptation He remembered it. That's why he was able to resist Satan's attacks.

MEMORIZE: Ephesians 6:10-18


Questions 1. The word world in "you are not of the world" means acts fulfilling the illicit desires of man's nature.

       

2. A Christian's lifestyle is different as Christians do not practice fornication, evil desires, covetousness, anger, blasphemy, lies or filthy language.

       

3. Being tempted is a sin

       

4. Yielding to temptation hardens a Christian's heart which can lead to loosing eternal life with Christ.

       

5. When the tempter comes you need to

To know God's Word.

To believe in God's Word.C

To decide in advance to do God's will.

To remember God's word

All the above

B and C

YOU ARE NOW A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST!


“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30)

WHAT IS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS?
The Christian life is a learning process (John 6:45 and Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 11:28-30) and a disciple is a student. But in the New Testament it’s meaning is a little bit different than today. In the days of Jesus there were masters (teachers) and disciples (students) but they did not sit in classrooms like we do today. The master taught in practical ways. He walked with his students. He showed them how to do things. That's why the word disciple in the New Testament is often translated "follower". It was the same with Jesus. And the word disciple could very well be translated as "apprentice". Imagine a master mechanic and his apprentice. The "master", in this case, would teach his apprentice how to use some tools, how to repair some problems. The apprentice hears and observes the teacher doing this. Afterwards he takes the tools and imitates his master’s work. He is a disciple (apprentice, learner, follower, student) of the teacher (master mechanic). Disciple is the most used term for followers of Jesus in the Gospels- 269 times.

· If we are the learners, who is the teacher? It is Jesus Christ.
· What does Jesus teach us? He teaches us how to live, how to be, to do and to teach. It is on the job training about lifestyle and personal commitment.
· Where is His classroom? In every place.
· When does His class meet? All the time.
· What is His teaching method? Show and tell, model and teach. (See Philippians 2:3-8 and II Corinthians 3:18.
· It is not the power of positive thinking or a mechanical system of moral improvement.
· What is the goal of a disciple? To know Christ John 17:3 and to be like him Romans 8:29.
· When can we say we have learned His lesson? When we are practicing what He has taught us.
· When is a person considered a disciple? When he enrolls in Jesus’ school or when he graduates? When you became a Christian, you enrolled in the School of Jesus!!! You will spend your whole life learning as Jesus is being formed in you.

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Remind yourself that there’s a price you have to pay to be Jesus’ disciple. The enrollment price in Jesus’ school is high! With the blessings come responsibilities and for the Christian you must live worthy of His call. Speaking about the life of the disciple, Jesus said "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23). Notice four important points in this verse:

"Deny himself" - The Christian is a slave of Christ, and as such, has no will of his own to fulfill but only his Lord’s will. We can’t pursue the world’s desires nor give in to temptation. Jesus, with the same weapons against sin that are available to us, faced temptation and always overcame it. He is our High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, because He "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15).

"Take up his cross daily" - What does the word "cross" mean in this passage? Is it a medal that a person wears around their neck? Is it a symbol of Christianity? Does it mean torture and suffering? None of these give the correct meaning. The idea in the first century, when Jesus spoke these words, was to die to your old life, saying, like Paul "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20)

"Follow me" - Here is the source of our strength - Jesus is the key. He gives us strength to bear the difficult things in life. He guides our way! He gives us success over temptation (I Corinthians 10:13). We must follow Him (John 14:6). Being a Christian doesn’t mean to just stop sinning but, also, to put Jesus and His word first in our life, following Him and imitating Him in everything.

"Daily" - We made the decision to deny ourselves and take up our cross for the first time in the day that we embraced Christ as our Savior and Lord. But that day is gone and today is another day! Every day we need to make the decision to follow Jesus, again! When Jesus said "daily", He was telling us that we need to make this decision each day. Our faith has to be a dynamic, living faith. We must daily renew our purpose of becoming like Christ.

Also read: Luke 14:25-33; Romans 12:1,2; Mark 8:36.


THREE TRAITS OF A DISCIPLE
Jesus, in the gospel of John, mentioned three characteristics of a disciple:
Abide in His Word (John 8:31). It’s more than simply believing (See John 8:29-59). It involves knowledge of the Word. We have to study Jesus’ words. It means to practice what we have learned. Do you hold to the Word? How often do you study the Bible? Daily?

Love one another. (John 13:34-35). How should we love? Like Christ loved us. (John 13:34 - He gave Himself for us). How shall we be disciples? By helping one another, talking to each other about spiritual subjects, studying the Bible together and being sensitive to the necessities of one another. Do you love your brothers in Christ? What are you doing in practical ways to help them?

Bear much fruit (John 15:8). What kind of fruit do we bear? Children and families, fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), glory to God for having created us, bringing others to Christ, etc. Why should we bear fruit? To glorify God. To not be cut off (John 15:1-2). To save others. For gratitude (Psalms 51:12-15). To fulfill our purpose in life. How can we bear more fruit? By abiding in Jesus. (John 15:5) When the branch is cut off the vine, it does not bear any fruit. Are you producing much fruit?

JESUS IS OUR MODEL!
We know Him through the Bible. We see how He acted, talked and treated people. We learn what is important to Him. We see His attributes, such as His love, meekness, humility, mercy, purity and righteousness. By meditating on Him and admiring Him, we seek to become like Him. To the Christian, He is our example in all things.


Questions 1. A disciple of Christ is obedient and committed to Him and His teachings.

       

2. What does Christ teach us?

How to live

Practice what He taught us

Positive thinking

A and C

3. A servant of Christ does the will of Christ not his own.

       

4. How often is a child of God to deny himself and do God's will?

Weekly of Sunday

Every day after his personal chores are completed

Daily, all the time

5. Take up your cross means

A medal or symbol worn around one's neck

Torture and suffering

Dying to old sinful way of life

YOU MUST GROW OR ELSE YOU WILL DIE!


It is not considered normal when a child is born but does not grow. If he does not grow mentally, he is called retarded. If he does not grow physically he is called a dwarf: But if you don’t develop your Christian life, you’re going to die! See what God said about the necessity of spiritual growth:

" … we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Hebrews 5:11-14

"As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,." I Peter 2:2

"Therefore, my beloved, as you 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; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure ..." Philippians 2:12,13

WHAT IS SPIRITUAL GROWTH?
Remember that we are talking about spiritual growth and not physical or numerical growth. It means becoming more and more similar to Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 3:18).

It involves learning to distinguish between good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

It means walking more and more by the Spirit and less and less by the flesh. (Galatians 5:13-25)

It means possessing and increasing in the Christian graces in your life - faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love (II Peter 1:5-11). If these things exist in us and are growing in us, we will be active, fruitful, firm, and we are not going to stumble. We can understand spiritual growth as a change for the better in our own character.

A note: Spiritual growth comes, not only when you practice such virtues, but also when you err and reflect about your mistakes. Sometimes, suffering because of your failures helps you grow. This is the value of the Lord’s discipline (Hebrews 12:1-13).

THE SPIRITUAL GRACES OF 2 PETER 1:
Faith - Read Romans 10:17 to see the source of faith. It is in the Word that we learn that God always fulfills His promises (Mark 10:29; Romans 8:28). He always keeps His word to us. Tragedies may happen in life, but knowing that God is sustaining us increases our faith. Living by faith increases faith. Can you remember some times in your life when, trusting in the Lord, you faced some fear or struggle and overcome?

Virtue - means moral courage. It is the characteristic that helps people to do what is right, even when it is very difficult or when others are against it. An example of one who showed great moral courage is Joseph. Read Genesis 39 and see virtue in action ... Can you think of someone else who has shown great virtue (moral courage) in their life.

Knowledge – of God and His will, of Christ and His life. The lack of knowledge caused God’s people to be destroyed. (Hosea 4:6). Since Jesus’ words will judge us, we need to know what He taught (John 12:48-50). The way to obtain knowledge is by reading and studying the Bible. (Psalm 1:1-3). Reading spiritual books and biblical commentaries can also help. Make a practical plan to grow in knowledge (refer back to lesson 1).

Self-control - We should have self-control over our bodies: passions, appetites, moods, etc. ( I Corinthians 9:27). Self-control is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23). Consider making a list of the areas in your life where you need to have more self-control. Pray constantly to God for growth in these areas.

Perseverance - means "steadfastness, persistence, patience". It is the characteristic of a man that is unshakable in his purpose and loyalty to the faith, not going astray even in the greatest of trials and suffering. James 5:7-11 gives us a biblical example of perseverance.

See James 1:2-4 to learn how to develop perseverance. We will have problems and temptations in our lives. However the one who remains firm until the end (he who perseveres) will be saved. (Hebrews 3:6)
Can you think of people and situations in your life that motivated you to persevere?

Godliness - this refers to personal devotion to God or reverence.

is an example of godliness (piety) in the Bible. (Acts 10:2,7). Godliness is always a valuable virtue to possess. I Timothy 4:8. Here are some suggestions to help you to keep your mind on spiritual and holy things:
        Listen to Christian songs
        Have days of fasting and prayer
        Form a prayer group
        Have home worship
        Save a time daily to read, pray and meditate on God’s Word.
        Describe your practice of personal devotion. Do you have a plan? Goals?

Brotherly Love - is love among brothers (fellow Christians). One example: the churches that helped the Christians in Jerusalem during the famine. II Corinthians 8:1-5. Another example: the prayers Christians made for Peter, showing brotherly kindness. Acts 12:1-5. It can include the practice of hospitality. Read Galatians 6:10 and try to think of a brother or sister in Christ that needs your help? What can you do for him/her? Is there a brother or sister in Christ that needs a friend? Get closer to this person to possibly start a good friendship.

Love - Christian love is an action. It means to actively desire and seek the good of others and always involves serving. If serving means to supply the needs of others, and we recognize that the true needs are not necessarily what the person wants, then we can understand that to love is almost the same as to serve. Jesus came to serve. He loved us. He saw our need for forgiveness and He died on the cross to obtain it. In the same way, let us serve (love) one another. Many people only come to understand God’s love when they have their own children. The love of parents for their children helps us understand how God loves us. Read I Corinthians 13 (all) I John 3:11-18 and I John 4:7-21 to gain a greater awareness of what Christian love really is. Write down the name of people or events in your own life that helped you to understand and practice love.
Questions 1. Who decides what God's message, His teachings, means?

Priest

Rabbi

Preacher/evangelists

You - by personal study

2. Spiritual growth is

Learning to distinguish between good and evil

Possessing and increasing in faith, virtue, knowledge self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

Practicing the Christian virtues

All the above

3. The source of faith comes from knowledge of God's word.

       

4. What is greater

Knowledge of God's word

Self- control

Love

5. Love is

A feeling

A desire to do what is best for another

TAKE YOUR PLACE IN THE FAMILY OF GOD

When a baby is born, being a newborn, he starts to be fed and to be cared for almost exclusively by his mother, receiving much more than he contributes. But there comes the time when he is going to assume his place in the family. He starts eating at the table with the others, building relationships, accepting responsibilities and fulfilling duties. All this is part of his development.

You also, as a new Christian, need to take your place in the family of God. You surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, repenting of your sins, and being buried with Him in baptism. At that moment you entered into a new relationship with the other followers of Jesus. You became a part of the "church". The Christian life is not lived in isolation but in company with the other members of the church. This is God’s plan for you.

THE CHURCH IS A VERY SPECIAL GROUP OF PEOPLE
This group is very special because it consists of those whom God called out of darkness into His wonderful light (I Peter 2:9). They are a group of people saved through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The church is people separated by God for Himself. The church (literally, the called out ones), have been called:
        Called by God. Romans 8:28-3
        Called out of darkness. I Peter 2:9; Colossians 1:13
        Called through the Gospel. II Thessalonians 2:14
        Called into fellowship in Christ I Corinthians 1:9
        Called to sanctification (being set apart). I Thessalonians 4:7
        Called to the Kingdom I Thessalonians 2:12; Galatians 1:6, 5:13; Colossians 3:15; Hebrews 9:15; I Peter 5:10)

NOTE: In the New Testament, the word "church" refers either to an assembly of Christians in a certain place (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1) or to the universal body of Christ (composed of all the people in the world that are saved in Christ - Matthew 16:18).

Somebody once said: "I am a Christian but I am not a member of any church because I don’t see such a commandment in the Bible." This person did not study the Bible, because, if he had, he would understand that the local church is highly emphasized in the New Testament: " … not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some"(Hebrews 10:25).

The local church chooses missionaries and supports them, maintains Bible schools, helps people that are in need, promotes prayer meetings, worship, devotionals and evangelism. It’s the local church that serves as an instrument to accomplish God’s work here on earth. There is and always will be a future for the church of Jesus Christ because God’s work should be and is going on. You are to take an active part in this great work of God in the local church!

BIBLICAL TERMS FOR THE CHURCH
In the Bible we find no specific title given for the church. Instead we find various descriptions that illustrate some special aspect of this group of people called the church – terms of either relationship or function.

House (family) of God - I Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 3:26, 27. God is the Father, Jesus is the oldest brother and all of us are brethren. The church is a family that God constituted to be always with Him. We have fellowship with Him, with His son Jesus and with one another as children of God. The love, kindness, help and approval that we find in the human family also have to exist in God’s family and in an even more profound way. The Bible exhorts us: "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms." (James 5:13) Be a faithful and loyal brother on whom the church can count. Serve the other brethren in love.

Kingdom of God (or of Christ) - Revelation 1:5; Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13. God’s kingdom is the kingdom of His Son to whom He already gave all the authority and whom He appointed "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Matthew 28:18 & Revelation 19:16). As God has always reigned over all, now His Son reigns over all creation. The most important part and the purpose of His reign is the church. The church of Jesus is the group of people that voluntarily subject themselves to King Jesus to serve Him in this world.

Temple (dwelling place or sanctuary) of God - I Peter 2:5; I Corinthians 3:16,17. We are the spiritual house, the residence, the sanctuary of God. We must maintain our personal holiness, worthy of His presence. God dwells in the church (not in the building, but in people). We live in God’s presence and in His presence we pray, sing, praise, worship and serve. Be a participant of this worship, treating with respect and care His temple, the church.

Flock of Christ - Acts 20:28. We follow Jesus, our good and supreme Shepherd.

A chosen people, holy nation, royal priesthood, people of God – (I Peter 2:9). We exist to adore, honor and praise our Creator.

Church of Christ (or church of God) - Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; II Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; I Timothy 3:5,15. We are the exclusive property of Christ and God. We belong to Him, not to others, not even to ourselves.

Bride (wife) of Christ - Ephesians 5:23-32. The emphasis in this term is our faithfulness and allegiance to the one we have pledged ourselves to love and serve.

Church - We are the people of God and have been called out of the world, out of the wrong way. We were separated (sanctified) and we should be different from the world. We should live holy lives.

Body of Christ - Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18; I Corinthians 12:12-27 & Romans 12:4,5. The church is Christ’s instrument to continue His mission in the world. We are His hands, mouth, eyes, feet, heart. The church is a living organism and all the parts are joined and mutually dependent one of another. As the arm needs the hand, the members of the body of Christ need one another. So you should seek your function in the church. Exercise the gifts that God has given you for the good of Christ’s body, the church.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBERS
Knowing our identity as a member of Christ’s body, we recognize that we cannot be individualist or selfish. We are part of something much bigger than ourselves. There is nothing more important in our lives than this. You are part of the most privileged group of people in the world. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to serve, work and participate in the church of Jesus Christ.

Questions
1. The church Christ established is

The Temple o the Jew

Meeting place such as a building

People

People called out of darkness (sin) into Christ

2. Christians are

Members in the Body of Christ

Servants of God

People cleansed by the blood of Christ through obedience

All the above

3. The Bible specifies one name for Christ's church.

       

4. Christ's church is referred to as a Kingdom, Bride, Body.

       

5. The church is

n organization

a living organism made up of people

THE PURPOSE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH


The church of the Lord is His living spiritual body. Our mission comes from Him, our head (Ephesians 1:21,22). The church is the body and He is the head and so the church carries out His will. We are the church, anointed by His Holy Spirit, born of His Father. We establish His church and His peace in the whole world. The church continues His work here on earth and although His work is varied, we can summarize it in three general areas:

EVANGELISM
We are to preach the gospel, make disciples of all nations, be the light of the world and salt of the earth, fight against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places and make manifest the very character of God. When Jesus answered questions about His mission here on earth, He said things like – “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” We, as His body, have been given the job of carrying out this very same mission.

EDIFICATION
The church can be referred to as living stones or bricks. It is not just a pile of loose bricks. God wants a construction of living stones. If the bricks are not in place, if they are not cemented together, then they are not a building. Evangelism brings in bricks but God wants them formed into a building. (Ephesians 2:19-22; 4:6; I Peter 2:5) In the process of things we may lose a lot of new bricks if we just throw them into a pile or if we cement them in a very haphazard manner so that they soon fall apart. We must work at making sure each one is cemented into the place God gave him. This is called edification.

For some, the church is a place you go to observe others. The center of attention is a person, probably the pastor or priest. If someone needs help, who do they call? They call the leader. If someone has a problem or doubts they call only the preacher. It wasn't this way in the primitive church. The church is not an institution but rather a family. They met in homes. Due to persecution, they often met in secret in small groups so as not to call attention to themselves. An example was the church at Thessalonica. Paul went there and established the church but only stayed a very short time before he was cast out of the city. It was a new church, suffered persecution and had problems with sin and doctrine. The missionaries were gone and yet they survived. How? Read I Thessalonians 5:11-14 and see how. Everything did not depend on the preachers, elders, etc. They recognized that they were the building of God and their identity as Christians could be seen in their involvement with each another. We must edify one another and be involved with one another.

Still, some want to protect their private lives: "I want to be independent, free to do as I want." But if you really want to be the best possible Christian, then you should invite others into your personal life, tell them to look for your faults, and help you to be better. In this way you can grow even more.

These, then, are the goals of edification:
· II Peter 1:5-11 every member active, productive, firm, saved.
· Ephesians 4:16 every member in the place God assigned him, linked to the others, working, cooperating, growing, edified in love.
· Colossians 1:28 all are to be presented perfect in Christ.

Let’s note some examples of opportunities that God gives us to edify one another. Read each passage and write the mutual obligation of Christian in the blank:
        John 13:34-35 _____________________________________
        Romans 14:19; 15:14 ________________________________
        I Corinthians 12:25 __________________________________
        Ephesians 4:2; 5:21 _________________________________
        Galatians 6:2 ______________________________________
        Colossians 3:12-14 _________________________________
        I Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11-14 _________________________
        Hebrews 3:12; 10:24,25 ______________________________
        James 5:16 ________________________________________
        I Peter 4:9 _________________________________________

Meditate on these commandments of the Lord and your responsibility as a follower of Jesus and as a member of His body, the church. This work is not reserved only for the leadership but rather each member shares in it. Love, edify, counsel, care for, support, carry burdens, conserve the peace and unity, comfort, exhort, warn, confront, help, encourage, motivate, confess, pray, take in, fellowship. Jesus called all of us to do all of this for one another.

SERVICE
One way we serve the Lord is through serving other people. This service is not a competition between us but rather a cooperation. We are to use our gifts, working together (I Corinthians. 12:12-27). Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and so His church must have the same vision. The church exists to defend the oppressed, help the needy, and do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

You are going to want to help or be helped by your brothers. This help is sometimes spiritual (encouragement, edification, etc.) and sometimes material. Giving and receiving, this mutual help will develop love and friendship that unites us in the Christian family.

Consider the following verses:
Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Romans 15:25-27; Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-12; 6:1-7; Ephesians 4:1-16; Colossians 3; 1-17

Questions
1. The mission of Christ's church is to

Build buildings in which to meet

Proclaim gospel of Christ

Encourage other Christians to remain faithful

Do good works

All the above

B, C and D

2. The church is an active body of saved people

       

3. The center of the assembled church is

the priest

the preacher

Christ

4. For the church to be legitimate it must assemble in a building such as a temple or sanctuary

       

5. During persecution it is acceptable to gather in secret and in small groups.

       

THE CHURCH ASSEMBLIES
FOR WORSHIP AND EDIFICATION

“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

One of the saddest things you will ever see is a “Christian” who does not eagerly await the opportunities when the whole church assembles together for worship and edification. Some even consider it as only one of their “Christian duties”. In truth, God did command it because we need it so much and many have sacrificed their very lives to protect our liberty to do this very thing.

THE CHURCH ASSEMBLES FOR WORSHIP
We must understand clearly that there is no certain time or place for a Christian to worship God. Jesus made this very plain in John 4:19-26. We worship in our spirit (heart) at any time in any place. Worship describes the expression of our heart characterized by awe, veneration, and respect. It always occurs individually, whether one is in an assembly or not.

Group worship is just a "number of individuals worshipping God together at the same time in the same place. The actual worship occurs in the heart or spirit of each one. All the others in an assembly may be worshipping while one individual is not. Or an individual may be worshipping while the others are not. The forms or acts such as singing, offering, eating the Lords's Supper and praying are not actually the true worship. They are just means of expressing the sense of reverence that is in the heart.

Normally, in church meetings God's Word is read, taught or proclaimed. When the Scriptures are read or quoted we ought to listen like it is God speaking to us through His Word (if in fact, the one speaking is speaking God's words. Listen with personal active participation: What does God have to say to me? What does He want me to do? How can I share this with others?

ARE YOU A WORSHIPPER OR A SPECTATOR ?
We are becoming a nation of spectators. TV has revolutionized the world. Participants have become viewers. Doers have become couch potatoes. Being creative and industrious demands too much. Being just a spectator demands very little. When you add to TV viewing, live sports events, videos, movie theaters, you have our #1 past time – spectating. The spectator mind set affects the church and creates certain conflicts because the overwhelming Biblical emphasis in Christianity is being a participant and not just a spectator.

When it comes to the assembly of the church, some have a hard time trying to change from being a spectator to a participant. They get up from the game on TV and assemble to worship in the church meeting. Some TV addicts , after an hour or two of hype and pizzazz on TV, come to church and expect to feel the same level of emotions. But think about this: TV advertisers spend $1,000,000 on a 30 second commercial. Programs dazzle you with the latest sophistication in light and sound. On TV the visual impression is changed about every 5 to 10 sec. Then you come to a church meeting. Can you honestly say that the word “boring” doesn't sometimes flash across your mental screen?

But our problem doesn't lie in the church’s inability to compete. The problem is the wrong notion that the church is supposed to compete. Like it or not, many Christians are comparing Christianity to spectator sports. If the worship service or game is not exciting, that is; “doesn't edify me”, they feel that time is being wasted in boredom. It’s so easy to just chill out and change the channel. Though some would never admit it, their mind set is: “I’m a spectator. I don’t sing. I don’t bring my Bible, read along, enter into the discussion, take notes or listen carefully. I’m a watcher and a listener. And this service had better be good.” Thus the spectator expects to have his needs (or desires) met without any concern about the needs of the others present.

THE CHURCH ASSEMBLES FOR EDIFICATION
The most detailed description of the New Testament church assembly is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 and the summary verse 26 says “Let all things be done for edification.” Edification is what we do in order to build each other up in the most holy faith. The way we do it is mainly through words:
        Through words in prayer. I Timothy 2:1, Acts 4:23-31
        Through reading the word. I Timothy 4:13
        Through words of exhortation and rebuke. I Timothy 4:13, 5:20
        Through speaking. 1 Corinthians 14:3
        Through spiritual songs. Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19

Because we usually worship when we assemble, many call the church meeting a “worship service”. Since we assemble to edify one another the meeting can also be called an “edification service”. There is one very special activity God planned for Christians to do when they assembled that should involve both worship and edification. It is called “The Lord’s Supper”.

THE LORD’S SUPPER
The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic meal of great importance for the church. It is a meal. That means that its purpose is not to satisfy our physical hunger but rather to remind us of important spiritual things by means of material things. The elements, the acts, the words - all the symbols involved help us according to what they represent. The Lord’s Supper is not something mystical or miraculous but is a memorial. "...do this in memory of me " (Luke 22:19). The purpose of a memorial is to remind us of people, events, truths, relationships, commitments, etc.

The bread – reminds us of Christ’s body that was sacrificed for us.
The fruit of the vine - reminds us of Christ’s blood that was shed for the remission of our sins

Not only are the elements used in the Lord’s Supper significant but our actions are also. Think about what we do with the bread and the fruit of the vine. We don’t just look at them. We don’t just admire them. We don’t bow down before them. We eat the bread and drink of the cup. Jesus took the bread gave it to his disciples and said: “Eat it”. He passed the cup and said: “Drink it”. What is the significance of eating and drinking instead of only gazing upon them? It speaks a message that Christ has to be on the inside. It is a moment for individual, personal participation. Each one says something like this to the Lord, “Jesus, come into my heart and my life.” It is not enough to just be in the room where Jesus is present. He has to be in us. The Lord’s Supper is one of those special moments when we say to God “Come in!” Jesus said in John 6: 51, 54-56: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”

Questions
1. There is no specific time or place for Christians to worship.

       

2. In an assembly or group of Christians

All worship God because they are present in the group

Worship is from one's inner being, their heart, so it is individual who worships

3. When Christians come together all things are for strengthening those assembled.

       

4. One can sing, pray, partake of Lord's supper but not worship.

       

5. In the Lord's Supper the bread represents God, Jesus, from heaven in an earthly body while the fruit of the vine represents Jesus' blood of His atoning sacrifice that cleanses faithful obedient people from sin.

       

WHO ARE YOU IN THE BODY OF CHRIST?

“…grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ; from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15,16).

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God ...” (1 Peter 4:10).

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them …” (Romans 12:4 – 6).

Now that you are a Christian it is important for you to assume your place in the family of God. The quote from Ephesians 4 clearly shows the importance of 100% involvement of the members in the work of the church. In fact, the church is organized by the Lord to do its work

THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH
Jesus is the head of the body, the church. He is not just a figurehead, but rather is actively involved in all the church's work. It is Jesus who guides, organizes, oversees and shepherds the body in order for us to be what He wants us to be and to do what He wants us to do.

Jesus organizes the church by giving a gift(s) (functions) to each and every member. These gifts include elders, deacons, preachers and teachers but they also include every single member in some way. No one is unnecessary. None are unimportant. No one is excluded or excused. Jesus works through the Holy Spirit, distributing spiritual gifts to the members of the body, for the work of the church.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Spiritual gifts are functions (ministries, assignments, works or services) that you, as a member of Christ’s body, exercise. See Romans 12:3-8. Spiritual gifts are not talents. Even unbelievers have talents but spiritual gifts are only given to Christians. Spiritual gifts are not personality traits (patient, impulsive, kind). The gift of Peter and Paul was apostleship - they had the same gift but had different personalities.

Note: The types of gifts under consideration in this lesson are the permanent, non-miraculous gifts of service and not the temporary, miraculous gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.

Each member of the church is important. Each one is necessary. Perhaps you think "I am not a preacher or teacher. The body does not need me." How would the church be if everybody did the same thing? The Lord does not call everybody to do the same thing that is, not everybody has the same responsibility in the church. The Holy Spirit gives to each member of Christ’s body ministries according to the body’s needs. The Lord, being the head, knows how to coordinate the body. He gives to the body different kinds of ministries to supply the needs of the whole church.

WHO AM I IN THE BODY OF CHRIST?
This is the question each one of us needs to ask. How can I know what my God given ministry is. The New Testament does not give a concise list of steps for determining one’s spiritual gift. The steps are suggested below but they ought not be considered the final word on the subject. Here are some steps to help you answer this question for yourself.
1. Become A Christian: Gifts are given by God to members of the body.
2. Place Yourself Entirely At God's Disposal: This is an objective decision which is implied by your decision to become a Christian. Say to God as Isaiah did: "Here am I, send me." Isaiah 6:8
3. Pray: You know that God has a purpose for you in the body of Christ. So now you ask Him to show you what it is, knowing that He will answer for it is His will. Psalm 25:12
4. Review The Lists Of Gifts In The N.T.: You need to start thinking about what God calls a ministry. These lists should give you an idea. See Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11,12; I Peter 4:10,11. Some Examples of Gifts (Ministries) In The N.T. (not including temporary or miraculous ones):
    Service (I Peter 4:11; Romans 12:7)
    Teacher (I Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:7; 2 Timothy 1:11)
    Exhorter (Romans 12:8)
    One who gives (Romans 12:8)
    One who gives aid/helps (Romans 12:8; I Corinthians 12:28)
    One who shows mercy (Romans 12:8)
    Administrator (I Corinthians 12:28)
    Shepherd, Pastor, Bishop (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11; I Timothy 3:1,2; Titus 1:5,7)
    Evangelist, Preacher, Minister (I Corinthians 9:16,17; Ephesians 4:11, 2 Pet 2:5; I Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:11)
    Deacon (I Timothy 3:8)

And within all of these there are myriads of things to be done in which you could serve the Lord. For example:
    Pre-marriage and/or marriage counseling,
    Organize activities for youth group,
    Sing at funerals,
    Church secretary
    Prepare Lord's Supper
    Do a Church Bulletin
(Don't be limited by this list. We need to expand our areas of service. Look around to see what needs to be done that is not being done.)

5. Consider The Needs Of The Church: Peter plainly tells us that we are to employ our gift for one another as good stewards of God's varied grace (I Peter 4:10). So we must look to the needs of the church.

6. Look For Opportunities: Start a journal of doors that God has opened for you. As time goes on you may begin to see a direction that He is leading you in.

7. Seek Guidance From Church Leadership: Ephesians 4:11,12 says that these gifts are given to the church for the equipping of the saints. Make good use of these gifts of the leadership.

8. Take The Initiative: You have prayed to the Lord, reviewed the list of ministries in the N.T., taken into account the needs of the church that the Lord has brought to your attention and possibly even put the desire in you to fulfill. You have noted that God is always opening up doors of opportunity in certain directions and you have talked things over with the leadership in the church. Wait no longer, take the initiative and get on with what the Lord would have you to be doing.

Got the idea? Go through the steps given. Begin to serve the Lord by employing your gift for one another as good stewards of God's varied grace. May the Lord bless you in everything good that you desire to do.

Questions 1. Each member in the church has a function to perform.

       

2. Gifts (functions) of evangelizing, shepherding and preaching are more important than other functions.

       

3. The Holy Spirit gives each member ministries (activities) according to needs of Christ Body.

       

4. The New Testament provides a list of functions God requiers Christians to perform.

       

5. Before a function can be performed by a Christian it must be authorized by a church leader.

       

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY


Living beings multiply themselves. The child that was generated from the love of his parents grows and soon the day arrives for him to repeat the process. God said to Adam and Eve: "Be fruitful and multiply." We are here today because of this blessing from God. In the spiritual life the command is also "Be fruitful and multiply." You were born and live with the purpose of reproducing yourself spiritually. Disciples are to make disciples.

"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:2)

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations …." (Matthew 28:19).

"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)

THE PRINCIPLE OF "MULTIPLICATION"
Can you imagine how the church would grow if each member reproduced themselves 30, 60 or 100 times? It would be fantastic! Even more interesting is seeing the results if each disciple of Christ would make at least one new disciple every year who would then, in turn, do the same thing. See how the principle of multiplication works: If you fold a sheet of 20 # paper (its thickness is 1/250) it is going to double. By folding it 10 times it would be about 2 inches thick. The interesting fact is that if you could fold it 30 times it would be 34 miles high and by folding it 60 times it would reach the astonishing height of 36,392,724,262 miles. A 100 fold would be
astronomical! That's the principle of multiplication.

THE DREAM OF THE CHURCH:
We want to transform this whole society, from the smallest to the largest. We want to make the wolf to live with the lamb. We will see the leopard lying down with the goat. The infant will play near the hole of the snake. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Read Isaiah 11).

Have you ever imagined living in a world of headlines void of murder,
robbery or violence? Movies and TV without pornography? Streets without beggars? Commerce without exploitation? Homes without confusion, fights or betrayals? Neighborhoods without bars, drunkards, addicts? "You are dreaming," somebody says. "The church is poor, young and small. We aren't able." But, if we were many, rich, powerful, with 1,000 years of experience, we still would not be able. It will only be done through the power of God. The difference between dream and reality is God.

So how can our dream be realized? Not by force nor military or political power. Our weapon is the gospel. We are a people (church) dedicated to take this world out of darkness into the wonderful light of Jesus Christ.

You, new Christian, need to have the vision of multiplication. Like in the example of the paper, if each Christian multiplied them self in number each year, even during their lifetime there could be billions of disciples of Christ on the earth. This view of multiplication should challenge us in many things.

THE FRUIT OF THIS DREAM OF INCREASING IN NUMBER
First of all, this vision gives motivation and enthusiasm.
Let’s do it! Let’s transform this world, our society, bringing millions to salvation through the knowledge of the Son of God. Let’s start it now!

Secondly, this vision shows us how wise is the plan of Jesus to conquer the world.
"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (II Timothy 2:2)

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;" (John 17:20).

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. ..." (Matthew 28:19-20).

This is Jesus’ plan: disciples making other disciples, teaching these new disciples to do the same thing.

The evangelism of your city will not be done through somebody with a charismatic personality, with great financial resources, with an army of Ph.D.’s in theology. It does not depend on buildings, money, or well developed hierarchy. It is done when you pass your faith onto another person in your own personal way, simple and sincere, instructing this person to go and do the same. That’s how the kingdom of God will go from one end of the earth to the other.

Thirdly, this vision of multiplication shows us the necessity of being a disciple and making disciples. We do not just baptize people. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus ordered his disciples to baptize the people that became disciples. The plan is that each individual is to follow Jesus. Yes, there are leaders in the church - elders, evangelists, and teachers. But Jesus’ plan is for each person to be totally dedicated to following Him and being like Him. The true meaning of baptism is "converted people"; people who died to self and sin, were buried in union with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. Baptism means a new birth into a new life.

YOU CAN START RIGHT NOW!
Do your best and the Lord will help you to develop more and more. Take advantage of all the opportunities; whether in your family, with neighbors, friends or colleagues. In personal conversations, public preaching, acts of charity, according to the gifts and opportunities that God gives you. Start now to practice this great vision of multiplication. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinn ers. ..." (I Timothy 1:15). Remember: you exist in this world as a Christian to fulfill exactly the same purpose.


Quesstions
1. God left the proclaiming of Chris's message of reconciliation to those God put into His church.

       

2. The members of Christ church must be dedicated to taking the world out of darkness of sin into the wonderful light of Jesus Christ.

       

3. Evangelizing is to be done by someone with

A charismatic personality

Great financial resources

Highly trained theologians

Christ's Christian family

4. For evangelizing to be successful there must be

A church building

Lots of money

An organized hierarchy

All of the above

A proclaiming of the death, burial, resurrection of Christ

5. Before one can become a Christian they must

First become a disciple

Accept Christ as God in human form

Obey his teachings by dying to a life of sin

Be buried following death in water immersion

Resurrected by God and placed into Christ kingdom

All the above

REPRODUCTION OF AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY

THE PRINCIPLE OF REPRODUCTION
Some explorers found corn seeds in a cave in Arizona These seeds were left in the cave by Indians, centuries before. Being well preserved, the seed was planted. What do you think happened? Did it produce rice or wheat or potatoes? Of course not! The corn seed produced corn.

Some people discovered the New Testament, written about 2,000 years ago. They opened, read, believed and obeyed the things they found in the book. What happened? Was the result: Catholics, Protestants or Spiritists? Of course not? The word of God set in the minds and hearts of people produced just Christians, members of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ

Corn seed makes corn, wheat seed makes wheat, and Christ's seed, the divine seed (the Word of God) makes Christians. It produces the church of the New Testament and nothing else.

The reproduction principle is the seed principle. To reproduce true Christianity in its pureness and simplicity, such as God revealed in the New Testament, it is necessary to preach the same word that God preached in the New Testament. Our goal is to always be reproducing what God established in the beginning.

THE BIBLE IS GOD'S INSTRUCTION BOOK
God is like an artist who starts only with an idea inside his mind. Contemplating and organizing, he makes some drawings until some details of his vision are well formed in his mind. Then he transfers the idea to the painting canvas with brush and colors. He pays attention to the smallest detail and when he is finally done, he takes a look at the canvas, satisfied for creating exactly what he wanted. As the picture is the artist’s masterpiece, the Bible is God’s masterpiece. It reveals exactly what God wanted to reveal and teaches perfectly what God wanted to teach.

II Timothy 3:16, 17 says: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Also read Mark 13:31; John 12:48; I Corinthians 14:37; Matthew 7:24-27; Revelation 22:18,19 and see how the Bible is our guide. If you want to know how to be saved, you have to look it up in the Bible. If you want to know how to live the Christian life you have to look it up in the Bible. If you want to know how the church should be, you have to look it up in the Bible.

The principle of reproduction is based on the conviction that the Bible is the Word of God and that it constitutes the rule of faith and practice, completely sufficient for all our necessities. It is not only God’s will revealed, but is ALL of His will for mankind. It is complete!

Some religious groups are based on the idea that God’s will includes the Bible, tradition and revelations of the last days. Others have the idea that the first century church departed from the truth and it is necessary to reform it. Some groups have the idea that there does not exist any pattern but "Every one can do as they wish" "If you think something is good, then you can do it."

The principle of reproduction recognizes that God has revealed His whole will to the church. This will is found in the New Testament and we have no right to change what God has established. We should follow Jesus’ example in all things telling God: "...not my will, but Yours be done". Luke 22:42

The key phrase is: "COME BACK TO THE BIBLE’, or as somebody said: "Speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent." We must always go back to the Bible if we want to reproduce Christianity exactly as Jesus intended in the beginning

TO REPRODUCE BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IS REASONABLE
Why should Christianity today be the same as it was in the New Testament? God is the same. John 3:16 is just as true today as it was when written. Jesus is the same. His blood poured out on the cross has the same power to save the sinner as in the day He died. The Holy Spirit is the same. Man is the same. Life, death, hopelessness, necessities, disappointments, temptations continue to describe men's life. The enemy, Satan, is the same. It is reasonable, then, for us to struggle to reproduce God’s plan, instead of reviewing, reforming or looking for something new to follow. (It is important for us to be able to discern what details in The Word are part of God's plan and what is only incidental. That may not always be easy or obvious but surely it honors God for us to search for it. It is also important to recognize how God made different covenants with different groups of people. This applies especially to the first or "Old Covenant" and the second or "New Covenant ").



TO REPRODUCE BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IS POSSIBLE
With so much confusion around the religious world today, some folks might think: "It is not possible to reproduce primitive Christianity." Everybody has his own denomination with his own belief and tradition. Is it too late to change all that?

But think about this: anyone today is able to become a Christian, accepting the same faith, practice and teaching as the apostles and Christians of the first century. It is not necessary to defend any doctrine that didn’t come from the Bible, or to embrace any religious affiliation but Jesus’ church. What is necessary is to have an open mind and also an open Bible. In truth, it is possible to reproduce Christ's church today.

THE CHURCH IS NOT A RELIGIOUS DENOMINATION
For a church today to be the church that Jesus built, it will not be a new religious denomination, but rather the reproduction of God's original plan for the church. Consider these facts:

Christ established His church exactly as He wished (Matthew 16:18-19 and Acts 2:42). The church of the N.T. was what Jesus wanted. We should do what the apostles did as they spread the gospel in every place: establish the church just as Jesus intended.

The Lord did not want anybody changing what He built (Ga1atians 1:6-9; Acts 20:29-31; I Timothy 4:1-2; II Timothy 4:2-4).

The church of Christ today is not a new church but the reproduction of the original church that was founded and established by Christ on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2) It contains all the saved. This truth becomes evident when we reason thusly: It is the gospel that saves. All the ones who obey the gospel are added to the church (Acts 2:47) Anyone who preaches the gospel (of the N.T.) is not starting a new church, but adding people to the original church.

NOTE: There is a three-fold goal in the desire to reproduce New Testament Christianity: We want to reproduce the life of Christ in ourselves. We want to reproduce the church as Jesus designed it to be. We want to reproduce ourselves by making other disciples of Christ.


Questions
1. The Gospel of Christ is the only thing that can produce a Christian.

       

2. The Bible is the inspired Word of God that contains His will for man

       

3. The Scriptures are for

Teaching

Reproofing

Correcting

All the above

B and C

4. If you think something is good then you will please God by doing it.

       

5. An open mind, open Bible, and a good heart will reproduce Christ's Church.

       

YOU ARE HIS SERVANT

Although "doulos" means "slave", when we read of how Jesus used the word, especially in the parables, we notice that He put a big emphasis on the responsibilities of these servants. The Lord’s servants did not become "robots" that acted mechanically, without any of their own thought or initiative. On the contrary, the servants that Jesus talked about were trustworthy people with whom the Lord left the care of His possessions when he traveled. This is our position - servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are people that God entrusts with His possessions. To have Jesus as your Lord means that you are a steward (this subject is called "stewardship" because we are "stewards"), a man in charge, a manager of the things that belongs to God. Notice some things that God has entrusted to you.

MONEY
In truth, nothing belongs to us. Everything belongs to God, but He charged us with taking care of what belongs to Him. This includes our money (belongings, salary, etc.). Notice the following biblical truths:
Psalms 24:1 "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness,."
Haggai 2:8 "'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the LORD of hosts."
Acts 4:32 "32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common."

When you think about giving your money to the Lord, remember the main principle. Before giving any thing to God, first surrender yourself to Him.
· II Corinthians 8:5 "And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God."
· Romans 12:1 "12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."

God loves the one who gives cheerfully (II Corinthians 9:7). Imagine a husband who went on a trip and came back with a present for his wife. He came home, threw the present on the floor and said - "Take it, it’s yours!" Would the wife like it? When your dear mother comes to eat dinner at your house, are you going to give her leftovers or will you give her the best? Even so, give out of love for the Lord or else God will not be pleased with your offering.

God Blesses He Who Gives Generously. Read II Chronicles 31:10, Malachi 3:10, and
II Corinthians 9:6. God pays 10,000% interest on the investment (Matthew 19:27-29).

God removes blessings of the one who is not generous. Read Malachi 3:8-9 and Acts 5:1-11.

It is more blessed to give than to receive Acts 20:35. Some people are afraid to talk much about the collection because they don’t want to abuse it. Some religions seem to only be interested in getting people’s money. But, let’s not steal a blessing from those who contribute. He who receives without giving will not be as blessed as the one who receives and gives.

How much should I give? Under Moses’ Law, the Jew gave 10% - the tithe. Moses’ Law is not now in effect (Galatians 3:24-25), but in the New Testament, the same principle is applied. There is a ratio - he who has more, gives more and who has less, gives less (I Corinthians 16:2). No percentage is specified but the question is: Has God prospered you more or less than the Jew? There are several ways to give: the church collection, practicing charity in general, special offerings and more.

If you say that you would give much If you were rich, then learn to give much while you are poor. Luke 16:10

TIME
Time is the only thing that God gives to all equally: everybody has 24 hours a day.

What the Bible Says About The Use Of Time;
Psalms 90:12 - recognize that life is brief; live it with wisdom.
John 9:4 - use the time you have, to do the Lord’s work. There is coming a time when there will be no more opportunity.
Ephesians 5:15-17 - walk prudently in wisdom, redeeming (buying back, rescuing) the time. Be sensible, making good use of your time to do God’s will.
Colossians 4:5 - Take advantage of the opportunities.

How To Fill Your Day
Reserve time to be in God’s presence - praise, prayer, and study
Reserve time for your family - to talk, and to have fun
Reserve time for the church - to study, talk, and serve
Reserve time for yourself- sports, reading, and education
Reserve time for others - especially the lost and those in need
Reserve time to plan - make a review of the week
Reserve time to serve God - fulfill your ministry
If in a week we have: 168 hours minus 56 for sleep, minus 40 for work, minus 24 for meals and showers, that leaves only 48 for these other activities.

Abuses Of Time
Laziness and disorder - II Thessalonians 3:11
"The idle mind is the devil’s workshop" - See I Timothy 5:13,14

A Christian Perspective: Romans 12:1,2 - All that we are and everything that we possess (including time) belongs to God and we should offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. Thus, every activity now has a new meaning. Everything we do with our time should be analyzed on this basis. Every activity should have a purpose directed toward God. Whether to sleep, to work, to have meals, to take a shower, to clean the house, to practice sports, to entertain, to eat, to talk. etc. It is all part of a God-guided, balanced Christian life.

THE GOSPEL
Jesus went back to Heaven and the world still was not evangelized. He left this in His disciples’ hands. Acts 1:1 tells about what Jesus started. What He started is for us to continue. And just as in the Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Lord will come back and everybody will have to give account of how they used what Jesus left to them. We are stewards of the gospel. We are in charge of sharing this gospel with the world.


Questions
1. A trustworthy servant takes care of his masters possessions

       

2. What possessions of man does he need to give to God

Money

Time

Self

All of the above

3. God loves those who cheerfully enjoy giving to Him.

       

4. God is more pleased with

The amount of money one gives

Giving out of duty or command

Any gift from the heart with the desire to please God

5. The greatest possession God has given man is the Gospel of Christ

       

REPRODUCTION OF AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY

THE PRINCIPLE OF REPRODUCTION
Some explorers found corn seeds in a cave in Arizona These seeds were left in the cave by Indians, centuries before. Being well preserved, the seed was planted. What do you think happened? Did it produce rice or wheat or potatoes? Of course not! The corn seed produced corn.

Some people discovered the New Testament, written about 2,000 years ago. They opened, read, believed and obeyed the things they found in the book. What happened? Was the result: Catholics, Protestants or Spiritists? Of course not? The word of God set in the minds and hearts of people produced just Christians, members of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ

Corn seed makes corn, wheat seed makes wheat, and Christ's seed, the divine seed (the Word of God) makes Christians. It produces the church of the New Testament and nothing else.

The reproduction principle is the seed principle. To reproduce true Christianity in its pureness and simplicity, such as God revealed in the New Testament, it is necessary to preach the same word that God preached in the New Testament. Our goal is to always be reproducing what God established in the beginning.

THE BIBLE IS GOD'S INSTRUCTION BOOK
God is like an artist who starts only with an idea inside his mind. Contemplating and organizing, he makes some drawings until some details of his vision are well formed in his mind. Then he transfers the idea to the painting canvas with brush and colors. He pays attention to the smallest detail and when he is finally done, he takes a look at the canvas, satisfied for creating exactly what he wanted. As the picture is the artist’s masterpiece, the Bible is God’s masterpiece. It reveals exactly what God wanted to reveal and teaches perfectly what God wanted to teach.

II Timothy 3:16, 17 says: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Also read Mark 13:31; John 12:48; I Corinthians 14:37; Matthew 7:24-27; Revelation 22:18,19 and see how the Bible is our guide. If you want to know how to be saved, you have to look it up in the Bible. If you want to know how to live the Christian life you have to look it up in the Bible. If you want to know how the church should be, you have to look it up in the Bible.

The principle of reproduction is based on the conviction that the Bible is the Word of God and that it constitutes the rule of faith and practice, completely sufficient for all our necessities. It is not only God’s will revealed, but is ALL of His will for mankind. It is complete!

Some religious groups are based on the idea that God’s will includes the Bible, tradition and revelations of the last days. Others have the idea that the first century church departed from the truth and it is necessary to reform it. Some groups have the idea that there does not exist any pattern but "Every one can do as they wish" "If you think something is good, then you can do it."

The principle of reproduction recognizes that God has revealed His whole will to the church. This will is found in the New Testament and we have no right to change what God has established. We should follow Jesus’ example in all things telling God: "...not my will, but Yours be done". Luke 22:42

The key phrase is: "COME BACK TO THE BIBLE’, or as somebody said: "Speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent." We must always go back to the Bible if we want to reproduce Christianity exactly as Jesus intended in the beginning

TO REPRODUCE BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IS REASONABLE
Why should Christianity today be the same as it was in the New Testament? God is the same. John 3:16 is just as true today as it was when written. Jesus is the same. His blood poured out on the cross has the same power to save the sinner as in the day He died. The Holy Spirit is the same. Man is the same. Life, death, hopelessness, necessities, disappointments, temptations continue to describe men's life. The enemy, Satan, is the same. It is reasonable, then, for us to struggle to reproduce God’s plan, instead of reviewing, reforming or looking for something new to follow. (It is important for us to be able to discern what details in The Word are part of God's plan and what is only incidental. That may not always be easy or obvious but surely it honors God for us to search for it. It is also important to recognize how God made different covenants with different groups of people. This applies especially to the first or "Old Covenant" and the second or "New Covenant ").



TO REPRODUCE BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IS POSSIBLE
With so much confusion around the religious world today, some folks might think: "It is not possible to reproduce primitive Christianity." Everybody has his own denomination with his own belief and tradition. Is it too late to change all that?

But think about this: anyone today is able to become a Christian, accepting the same faith, practice and teaching as the apostles and Christians of the first century. It is not necessary to defend any doctrine that didn’t come from the Bible, or to embrace any religious affiliation but Jesus’ church. What is necessary is to have an open mind and also an open Bible. In truth, it is possible to reproduce Christ's church today.

THE CHURCH IS NOT A RELIGIOUS DENOMINATION
For a church today to be the church that Jesus built, it will not be a new religious denomination, but rather the reproduction of God's original plan for the church. Consider these facts:

Christ established His church exactly as He wished (Matthew 16:18-19 and Acts 2:42). The church of the N.T. was what Jesus wanted. We should do what the apostles did as they spread the gospel in every place: establish the church just as Jesus intended.

The Lord did not want anybody changing what He built (Ga1atians 1:6-9; Acts 20:29-31; I Timothy 4:1-2; II Timothy 4:2-4).

The church of Christ today is not a new church but the reproduction of the original church that was founded and established by Christ on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2) It contains all the saved. This truth becomes evident when we reason thusly: It is the gospel that saves. All the ones who obey the gospel are added to the church (Acts 2:47) Anyone who preaches the gospel (of the N.T.) is not starting a new church, but adding people to the original church.

NOTE: There is a three-fold goal in the desire to reproduce New Testament Christianity: We want to reproduce the life of Christ in ourselves. We want to reproduce the church as Jesus designed it to be. We want to reproduce ourselves by making other disciples of Christ.


Questions
1. The Gospel of Christ is the only thing that can produce a Christian.

       

2. The Bible is the inspired Word of God that contains His will for man

       

3. The Scriptures are for

Teaching

Reproofing

Correcting

All the above

B and C

4. If you think something is good then you will please God by doing it.

       

5. An open mind, open Bible, and a good heart will reproduce Christ's Church.

       

TO BE JUST A CHRISTIAN

The religious world is full of confusion but God is not the author of it. Jesus Christ came to show the way that leads to the Father and His way is that of peace, unity and love. Confusion happens when people lay aside the way of the Lord. Traditions, divisions, denominations and human teachings can hide the Lord’s way. Think about how some say: "I am Catholic", or "I am Baptist’, or "I am Pentecostal", etc. Was it this way in the Bible? Of course not. Then, why does it have to be like this now? Is God happy with all this? Why not just be Christians, using only Christ’s name and nothing else?

This confusion and chaos discourages many people. On the one hand, they see the deception, hypocrisy and exploitation that happens in the name of "religion". On the other hand, something keeps them from throwing away their respect for God and Christ. They feel that what some people call religion is really a far cry from the greatness and goodness of our Creator. To just such people, Jesus offered this invitation: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28,29)

Thank God, Jesus is still calling everybody to come to Him. No matter that the heavy burden may be a religion distorted by men or just a confused life without purpose, Jesus is calling all to Him. Be advised, though! He does not call one to follow or take part in a religious sect or denomination. He calls the weary ones to Himself,

An important principle is to look for and do what Jesus, His apostles and the first Christians were and did (the good things they did and not he bad of course). If we use them as examples, instead of the men of today, we can find the original plan of God. The book of "Acts" tells the story of the beginning of Christianity. Read how things were in the beginning:

“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit… Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." (Acts 2:37-41) This was the first preaching of the Gospel after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Jerusalem, thousands of Jews were assembled. Jesus, as He promised, sent the Holy Spirit to start the preaching of the gospel. And, as we read on, we find that about three thousand people were saved. Now, when the Bible said, "they were added", somebody could ask: "To what religious denomination were they added?" What answer is given in the Bible?

In the same context, the Bible says: " And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers… So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47) Again, ask yourself who were these people? To what denomination were they added?

Philip preached Jesus to the people in Samaria. Many "believed in him and were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:5-13). Also Philip preached the gospel to an Ethiopian man. He believed, was baptized and continued on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:26-39) The same thing happened to Paul (Acts 9:1-9 and 22:1-16), Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), the jailer (Acts 16:25-34) and many other people in the New Testament. In all these cases, what did these people become?

The answer is obvious. First of all, there were not several churches at that time. In those days, nobody became Catholic, Baptist, Mormon or any other such thing. Denominations are human inventions and divisions and are not part of God’s plan to redeem (save) man. People that heard, believed and obeyed the gospel became Jesus’ followers (disciples) or Christians and nothing more. We read in Acts 11:26, "... The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." They wore the name of Jesus.

All these people just became Christians. To tell the truth, they refused to use any other title that did not give glory to their Savior. One time, some brothers tried to do that. They were strongly rebuked by Paul. Observe what happened when some began to give their allegiance to men:

" Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (I Corinthians 1:10-13)

Think about the way that men today say: "I am Lutheran", or "I am Calvinist”, or "I am Mennonite", or "I am ... (you choose the answer) Do you think that God is content with this? Of course not! Why can we not just be Christians, just using Christ’s name, nothing else?

The church Christ established is not a religious denomination (division). We don’t need to be part of or promote any sect or religious denomination. Christians can meet together to worship God, for mutual edification, to work, etc., without becoming some sect or religious denomination.

It is possible to abandon human names and divisions, to just be Christians as God has planned and as our brethren were in the apostles’ day. Everybody has the right to read, study and practice Christianity as it is written in the New Testament and not as some denomination determines. People in Berea "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11). We can do the same thing. Compare everything that is taught with the Scriptures. It may look terribly difficult today with so many established religions and denominations, but let’s decide to respect Jesus’ request on the night He was betrayed and arrested: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me." (John 17:20, 21) Let us be dedicated to obey Jesus in this.

An important note: This is not just about calling ourselves by a certain name but sincerely following Christ in word and actions. If we wear the name of Christ (Christian) we had better reflect the beauty of Christ in our lives. What a shame it would be for a "CHRISTian" to not be like Christ!

Questions
1. Teachings and practices, traditions, following the first group of Christians in Jerusalem until now are just as important as the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

       

2. Peter told those who desire to know God's will to repent (change lifestyle to godliness) and be immersed (baptized) by Christ's authority into His death for the forgiveness of sins.

       

3. What happened to the 3,000 in Jerusalem who believed, repented and were baptized

Added to apostles and disciples by God

Received the Holy Spirit

Continued in apostles teachings

All the above

A and C

4. God adds those saved to Christ's body not to some religious organization.

       

5. Separation among the Christian body due to one's personal opinion and interpretation displeases God as He desires unity of all in Christ.

       

GOD’S PLAN FOR OUR SALVATION

Well may this glowing heart rejoice, and tell its raptures all abroad’
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away. He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day"

Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day are important dates, but the day of the most important event of your life was the one when you received Christ and was born again into God’s family. It’s good to remember this day and your decision for Christ. It’s good to remember your salvation in Christ because you will then want to share the good news of salvation with others. You can help them to make the same decision you made. Let us review the steps that led you to be saved in Christ.

FIRST, WHAT HAPPENED?
Many people do not feel the need for a savior because they do not feel lost. What happened with you? Maybe, you heard a moving sermon; maybe a friend shared with you the truth; maybe you read a tract. Whichever, in some way you understood that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

As the prophet Isaiah had said, long ago: our sins have hidden God's face from us so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). "But what about my good works?" you thought. Then you read "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9). "But my sins are small" you said and then you read: " For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). It was more than enough to convince you, was it not? You understood the despair of being a sinner! You needed a Savior!

WHO IS THIS SAVIOR?
Paul said: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). You wanted to know more so you read on! What a story! God in human form, in the person of Jesus, passed through so many temptations but never sinned (I Peter 2:21-25)! He did so many signs and miracles to prove His divinity (John 20:30-31). He died for you - a sacrifice to God for all your sins (Hebrews 10:10-14)! Finally, He was raised from the dead, proving that He was the Son of God (Romans 1:4-5 & I Corinthians 15:1). What a wonderful story! You now knew your Savior!

FAITH WAS BORN ...
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). You were needing a Savior and you were sure you had found Him.

... AND IT GREW
You trusted in His words and made your decision. Jesus said: "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mark 8:34). "Yes, I am going to follow my Lord for the rest of my life". Jesus said: “repent for the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 24:47). "Lord, I’ve decided, I don’t want to sin anymore." You were now ready to be united with Christ.

FINALLY YOU FULFILLED IT!
You surrendered yourself to Christ and He saved you through your faith. Jesus said: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved ..." (Mark 16:16). "Lord, I trust in you to save me. I will die to self to sin and to this world and be united with you in baptism. That was the defining moment of your life.

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:4-6).

Consider some of the great changes that God effected in your life when you were baptized:
You were saved – Mark 16:16
You were born again – John 3:5
You died, were buried and resurrected with Christ – Romans 6:4-6 and Colossians 2:12
You were clothed with Christ – Galatians 3:27
You became a new being – Romans 6:4

Christ washed your sins away. Was it at the beach? In the swimming pool? In the river or in the baptistery? It doesn't matter where it happened. What is important is that Jesus, through His blood, washed you! Just like He washed Paul’s sins away! Acts 22:16. "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Just like He forgave the sins of the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost! "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ..." (Acts 2:38). "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them .." (Acts 2:41). Then your new life started (Romans 6:4). " Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life!"

AND NOW, WHAT IS HAPPENING?
You are walking in the light (I John 1:7). You wish to know more and more (I Peter 2:2). You are nourishing yourself with the Word and growing up in your faith (Hebrews 5:12-14). You are taking part in the fellowship with your brothers in the faith (Hebrews 10:24-25). You are learning how to share the gospel with your relatives and friends (Matthew 28:19).

KEEP ON GROWING’


Questions
1. Sin hides God from man so that He will not hear man.

       

2. One who refuses to admit he is a sinner in need of forgiveness is lost and cannot be saved while in that condition.

       

3. Sin has no consequences.

       

4. Jesus is the only way to salvation, eternal life with God.

       

5. One who does not repent will not be lost.

       

6. Repentance is

A change of heart

A change of mind

A change in lifestyle

A change toward godliness

All the above

7. Whoever denies that Christ is God, Christ will deny them before the Father

       

8. Lack of belief that Christ is the Son of God hinders one from being baptized.

       

9. Baptism, immersion in water, is not a cleansing of dirt from the physical body but a cleansing of sin from one's soul, his inner being.

       

10. Being buried with Christ into His death results in a resurrection and a uniting with Christ.

       

11. Changes that occur when one is baptized into Christ death

You were saved

ou were born again

You died, were buried and resurrected with Christ

You were clothed with Christ

You became a new being

All the above

A and E

12. Salvation is conditional one must be faithful until his death to receive to crown of life, eternal life.

       

EVANGELIZE YOUR FAMILY

In Mark 16:15 Jesus commanded: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." We read these words, we get up to obey them, we open our eyes to see the world, and who do we see in front of us? Our own family! Some people say that the most difficult place to evangelize is in their own home. But why? It should be the best, the easiest, most convenient place. Jesus was raised in a family of unbelievers! At least His brothers were. But they were converted. James and Jude delayed but they became followers, too. Jesus conquered His own family!

Dear brother or sister in Christ, evangelize your family! But you ask, "How?" Think about this: How successful would Jesus be if He were part of your family? What effect would He have in your family if He were you? Thinking about your family, who would resist Jesus? So there is the answer. To reach your family with the gospel, you only need to do and be like Jesus. Let your family live with Christ through you. More than this, nobody can do.

Everything Christ said about evangelism in the world is applicable to our families. It’s just closer to home. If you are not having an impact, maybe you need to reexamine your own view of Christianity and the church.

DRAW CLOSER AND NOT FARTHER AWAY FROM YOUR FAMILY.
The gospel should bring us closer to the world and not remove us from it. The symbols of the church that Jesus used emphasizing evangelism are salt, light and leaven, but why these? What do these three have in common? The answer is that each one penetrates! The salt penetrates and gives a new taste. The light penetrates and gives new light. The leaven penetrates and gives new power.

BE LEAVEN - Matthew 13:13
We cannot be leaven kept in a little package on the shelf of the kitchen. Leaven has to make contact. It has to penetrate the bread dough. Penetrating in the bread dough, the leaven loses its identity but notice the result - a delicious loaf of bread! Pass close to the bakery when they are taking bread out of the oven. You will want to stop, go in and buy some bread! This is like the Christian who penetrates his own family with the presence of Jesus Christ.
BE SALT - Matthew 5:13
But what if the salt stays in the saltshaker? We can be pure salt but if we never get out of the saltshaker and are never put on the food, we will never give the taste of the gospel to our families. Make mashed potatoes with no salt and see how it has no taste. Now add some salt and mix it in. Now those who taste it will say: "I like mashed potatoes!" The members of your family, on seeing your life, might exclaim: "I like the Christian life!"

BE LIGHT - Matthew 5:14-16
Don’t put the light under a basket. That will do no one any good. Light has to illuminate the place where you live.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION
How shall we proceed? How shall we reach them? How shall we have an impact on our own family? We must be salt, leaven and light! Note some practical examples:

Contact - It is important to spend time together, to converse, to share experiences. Sometimes parents of Christians complain: "My son has no time for our family. I rarely see him. He is always doing something with the people of the church but has no time for us." Sometimes a non-believing husband says the same. Be careful to not allow this to happen in your family. Penetrate your own family as salt, leaven and light would.

Temperament Controlled By The Holy Spirit - You cannot be involved in fights, arguments and confusion in your family. When your parents fight, what should you do? Take part in it? Choose sides? Of course not! Remember: "A soft answer turns away wrath," The presence of the Holy Spirit bears His fruit which is peace (Galatians 5:22). It would be better to give good biblical advice and also to be a good example.

Insist On Christian Principles - Isaiah 55:89 says that God calls us to a higher way. The mother of a Christian girl insisted that she wear indecent clothes, but she refused. There are disciples who leave the room because their family insists on watching immoral programs. These Christian set their principles higher. If you put Jesus in first place, you will never lose. If you put Jesus in second place, you will never win. Trying to please your family by practicing sin will not win them to Christ.

Practice Hospitality - Observe the example of Jesus in John 1:38-39. When Jesus had a house, He took Andrew and others to spend some time with Him. This is important for evangelism. It’s a way to make a contact. But what’s the application in the family? It’s simple - what is hospitality but opening your life, time, house and things to share with others? It has specia1 application in the family. Look for special opportunities to open your life, your room, your things, your clothes. Share what you have. Some people are less hospitable with their family than with strangers. "Don’t wear my clothes." "Who was in my drawer?" "Where is my pencil?’ "Who ate my chocolate candy?" And that’s how the fight starts. It is not becoming of a Christian to be that way.

If you are a father or mother, you can practice hospitality by inviting people to your house. If you are a son or daughter, you can invite people of the church to visit you with your parent’s agreement. Always be considerate of the members of your family.

Be Accessible - Be disposed to serve when you meet people who are suffering and in need. Jesus came into the world to serve, i.e., to fulfill people’s needs. He gave us the same mission. Observe the world (your family). Notice when somebody suffers or hurts. Stay close to help, give comfort and serve.

We are servants of the Lord, placed in houses of needy people. Shall we serve or not? Should we be accessible and open or should we build walls between us and the members of our own family? Again, for you to reach your family with the gospel, you simply need to do and be like Jesus. Let your family live with Jesus through you. It’s not a guarantee that your family will be converted, but more than this, nobody can do.

SOME THINGS TO DO:
• Write down some good activities you can do with members of your
family.
• Write down some important moments when you should be with
your family.
• Who in your family is needing help?
• Write down some of your family’s bad habits you should reject.
• Write down some things you have that you can share with members
of your family.

Questions
1. The Gospel is restricted to certain classes of people.

       

2. Christians are the salt of the earth since they have the gospel. The gospel like salt is useless if it is kept in a container and never used.

       

3. Jesus is the light of the world so when Christians reflect Christ in their daily life Christ shines.

       

4. Lack of self-control with fits of anger creates division and distrust, but a soft answer turns away wrath

       

5. God expect His children to serve those in need not demand others serve them

       

CAN YOU REALLY KNOW?

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Acts 8:37 … And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

John 5:39 Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me."

A Christian wears the name of Christ because Christ is our Lord, Teacher, Guide, Savior, Redeemer, Model, High Priest, Hope, Sacrifice for sin and much, much more. The rock solid foundation for our faith is the truth of Peter’s confession. Jesus is real and the Bible is true. All that needs to be known about Jesus is found in the Bible but all of human history revolves around Him. Jesus is the central character of the human drama. It is not surprising that the history of the world is divided into two spans of time: before Christ (B.C.) and after Christ (A.D.).

Even though it is in the Bible that Jesus is revealed, there is considerable evidence outside the Bible confirming that Jesus is a historical person, just as the Bible presents him. These external writings collaborate what the Bible tells about him. Notice some ancient historians who mention Jesus:

THALLUS
Thallus, a Samaritan-born historian who lived and worked in Rome about A.D. 52, quoted by Julius Africanus, a Christian chronographer of the late second century. "Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun."1   Africanus stated his objection to the report arguing that an eclipse of the sun cannot occur during the full moon, as was the case when Jesus died at Passover time. The force of the reference to Thallus is that the circumstances of Jesus' death were known and discussed in the Imperial City as early as the middle of the first century. The fact of Jesus' crucifixion must have been fairly well known by that time, to the extent that unbelievers like Thallus thought it necessary to explain the matter of the darkness as a natural phenomenon. ... Ironically, Thallus' efforts have been turned into the mainstream of historical proof for Jesus and for the reliability of Mark's account of the darkness at his death." 2

MARA BAR-SERAPION
A manuscript in the British Museum preserves the text of a letter sent to his son by a Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion. The father illustrated the folly of persecuting wise men like Socrates, Pythagoras, and the wise king of the Jews, which the context obviously shows to be Jesus. "What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the seas; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. … Nor did the wise King die for good; he lived on in the teaching which He had given". 3

CORNELIUS TACITUS
A Roman historian living from about AD 50 to AD 100 wrote regarding Nero's fire. "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus".4

PLINIUS SECUNDUS
A Roman governor AD 112 wrote Emperor Trajan "They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to commit any wicked deed ... after which it was their custom to separate, and then meet again to partake of food, but food of an ordinary kind".5

SEUTONIUS
An annalist and court official of the Imperial House during the reign of Hadrian wrote about AD 120 in the Life of Claudius. "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from Rome."6     Edward C. Wharton then states "The reason for the fame of this quotation is due to the fact that Luke, some sixty years earlier, had recorded this same incident as the reason for the apostle Paul yoking up with a Christian Jewish couple named Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:1-2). Again, the mention of Christ in the historical context is observed in extra-biblical literature."7

FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS
Josephus has an interesting observation. "And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man; for he was a doer of marvelous deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure. He won over many Jews and also many Greeks. This man was the Messiah. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross at the instigation of our own leaders, those who had loved him from the first did not cease. For he appeared to them on the third day alive again, as the prophets had predicted and said many other wonderful things about him. And even now the race of Christians, so named after him, has not yet died out.8

EARLY JEWISH AND GENTILE WRITERS
The following quote from F. F. Bruce summarizes this very clearly. "Whatever else may be thought of the evidence from early Jewish and Gentile writers...it does at least establish, for those who refuse the witness of Christian writings, the historical character of Jesus himself. Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories." 9

1. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents, Eerdmens, p. 113.
2. Edward C. Wharton, Christianity: A Clear Case of History Howard p. 7.
3. British Museum Syriac Mss., F. F. Bruce, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the
New Testament, p. 31.
4. The Annals and the Histories, 15:44. From Britannica Great Books, Vol. 15, p.
168.
5. Epistles, 10:96.
6. Life of Claudius, 25:4.
7. Edward C. Wharton, Christianity: A Clear Case of History, Howard p. 11.
8. Antiquities, 18,3.3.
9. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents. P. 119.
All the above were cited by Edward C. Wharton in his book Christianity: A Clear Case of History