A New Believer’s Introduction to the Christian Life.
Study guides cover the following topics:
• Assurance of Salvation
• Life as a Disciple of Jesus Christ
• How to Read and Study the Bible
• How to Pray
• Attributes of God
• The Holy Spirit His Work and Gifts
• Sharing Your Faith.
OR DOWNLOAD INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS BELOW (ENGLISH VERSIONS ONLY):
ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
You know God has forgiven your sins. Yet you look at your life and wonder if you are indeed a child of God. Why do I struggle? Why do I always seem to sin no matter how hard I try not to? Do Christians struggle in life? Yes, they do. Sometimes, even more than the unbelievers. All of the struggles Christians face in this world come from three sources: the world, the ﬂesh (Our sinful nature that craves evil), and the devil. A disciple of Jesus Christ is conﬁdent that God has saved him and rejoices in the grace of God in the midst of trials, tribulations, and temptations.
LIFE AS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST
Have you come to trust Jesus as your Savior? If so, you have been forgiven of your sins! Christ has made you a new person, a person who is free from sin. Feels great, doesn’t it? As great as it may have felt those ﬁrst few days, you begin to realize that there are certain areas of your life that still have not really changed. Your mountain-top experience now feels more like a steady descent and most of your life is returning to “normal.” As we learned in the last chapter, the struggles you had before are still present. You may still be suffering the consequences of your past. The question becomes, “What is going to happen next in my life?”
The call from Jesus to His disciples was to follow Him. Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “Follow Me, and I will make you ﬁshers of men.” The answer to the question, “What next?” is that you, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, will follow Him and obey Him as you are empowered by His grace. 1 Peter 2:21 teaches that Jesus has “left you an example for you to follow in His steps.” Disciples do not follow Christ, though, because they feel pressured to do so. A person is happy to realize that life as a disciple of Jesus Christ is simply the life that springs from grace. Your motivation to obey the Lord will be His grace, who He is, and what He has done for you.
HOW TO READ AND STUDY THE BIBLE
Often when Christians learn that a person has recently become a Christian, they strongly encourage that person to “get in the Bible.” You may have heard this same advice, but you don’t know why and you aren’t sure how. Even in the ﬁrst two lessons of this manual, you have already begun looking up Bible verses and learning from them. You have been told that Bible study is vital to your growth as a Christian, but you don’t know what to read or where to begin. Well, you aren’t alone. In this lesson we will tackle the basic questions of why, how, and what you should read in the Bible in an attempt to guide you as a disciple of Jesus Christ in this area. Jesus said in John 8:31, “If you continue in My Word, you are truly disciples of mine.”
HOW TO PRAY
You have just learned the importance of reading the Bible. That is the way we hear what God has to say to us. In any good relationship, though, there is communication both ways. God speaks to us through His Word. We speak to God through prayer. This circle of communication is important for spiritual growth as a Christian. In prayer we simply talk to God. You may have seen people pray before—folding their hands, bowing their heads, closing their eyes. You may have many questions about prayer. As new disciples of Jesus Christ, may your cry be the same as Jesus’ ﬁrst disciples: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
Disciples of Jesus learning how to read the Bible and pray will beneﬁt from a study of the attributes of God. What are attributes? The attributes of God are those character traits in which God reveals himself to us. Without the revelation of Scripture, the Bible, we all would have no clue what God is like. But God has graciously chosen to reveal Himself through His Word. We will examine ten of God’s attributes in this lesson. Keep in mind that many other attributes could be added to this list. Let this lesson be a starting point for you in getting to know God.
THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS WORK AND GIFTS
It is vital that a disciple of Jesus Christ understand the work and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Bible proclaims that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, has often been misunderstood, neglected, and even ignored by many teachers because many aspects of the Holy Spirit are so hard to understand.
Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? These are the questions we will seek to answer in this lesson. Martin Luther described the work of the Holy Spirit in this way: “The Holy Spirit has called me (talking about all Christians) through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctiﬁed and preserved me in the true faith.” Then you can boldly claim the promises of Galatians 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” And Romans 8:14, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
We have seen in the study of spiritual gifts that gifts are given for the building up of the church. When one becomes a Christian and thus a disciple, he or she is not meant to follow Christ alone. 1 Cor. 12:7, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” It is in the midst of the church, the congregation of fellow believers, where we enjoy fellowship with God and with man. It is vitally important to be connected to such a fellowship.
Take a look at 1 John 1:1-4. These verses talk of the two-fold relationship of fellowship. The ﬁrst aspect of this fellowship is the vertical relationship between God and Man. The second aspect of this fellowship is a horizontal relationship with our fellow believers. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about these two aspects of fellowship.
True Christian obedience is not a set of “do’s” and “dont’s”. It’s a lifestyle marked by continual focus on Jesus and the cross. Our obedience to God ﬂows from what God has done for us. Ephesians 2:1-10 is a good reminder of what God has done. These verses state who we once were; we were dead in our trespasses and sins (v. 1). The good news is that God loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses (vv. 4b, 5). For it is by grace we were saved (v. 8). Finally, we see that we are His workmanship created for all good works (v. 10).
Furthermore, obedience is rooted in God’s love. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We can love God by being obedient to Him, because He ﬁrst loved us. No longer are we slaves to sin, but servants to Christ. Scripture is clear that believers are to be obedient to God. One such passage is Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples,‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” (This same verse is repeated in Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23)
Undoubtedly, the word “cross” would have conjured up thoughts in the disciples minds of a violent, degrading death. In this verse Christ is demanding willful commitment from His disciples even unto death. The greater context of this verse comes from Matthew 16:21 where we learn that Jesus told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suﬀer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and also be killed and raised from the dead three days later. Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the dead for our sake. It is for this reason only that we can even bear the cross, even unto death. Death has lost its sting and we can now joyfully pick up our cross and follow Jesus!
“You cannot prevent the birds from flying over your head. But let them only ﬂy and do not let them build nests in the hair of your head. Let them be thoughts and remain such; but do not let them become conclusions.” – Martin Luther
Martin Luther was no stranger to temptation. It seems from his writings that Luther experienced more temptation as attacks from the world, flesh, and the Devil than most. Luther did not enjoy temptation, and yet he saw it as something from which he could grow. For many, temptation is not seen in this light. Luther believed that in order for the Christian to grow, one would face temptation and learn by the grace of God to resist and grow from it. Norwegian devotional writer O. Hallesby agreed with Luther when he wrote, “Character cannot be formed without being tried in the flaming ﬁres of temptation.”
As we approach the topic of temptation, it is important to lay some ground work which will help in our understanding of the battle. We will look at four main issues surrounding temptation. We will first look at the nature of the Christian, and secondly, the nature of temptation. After these two foundational truths are established, we will learn how to resist temptation and then close with the Gospel promise of forgiveness.
Through this study, our hope and prayer is that you will gain a greater understanding of yourself and temptation. It is also our hope that you will learn what God has laid out for you so that, by His grace you can resist temptation. Most of all, our desire is that through the work of the Spirit of God through His Word, you will be brought to a place having peace with God through His gracious forgiveness.