Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 12: Evangelism

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 12: Evangelism

One important responsibility that all Christians have is to tell others how to become Christians. This lesson will examine why and how to tell others about Christ.

1. Read Mark 5:18-20. What did Jesus tell the man to do? To go and tell others what had happened to him.

2. Read Acts 4:20. Why did the disciples tell others about Jesus? It was natural–they couldn’t help it. Should be similar for us.

3. Read Matt 28:19-20. Summarize Jesus’ command here. Go, make disciples, teach them to obey Jesus’ words.

4. Read Matt 5:16. How important is your lifestyle? Does it say anything about you? Lifestyle is very important. Others see it and make conclusions based on it. Your behavior says lots about the kind of person you are.

5. Read 1 John 1:3. What should we tell people? What we have seen and heard.

We ought to tell others what has happened to us. Describe how your life has changed since you became a Christian.

Before I got saved:

Since I’ve been saved:

What are the necessary elements of a Gospel presentation?

  • Who God is: the sovereign, holy creator, who made man for fellowship with himself

  • Who man is: the sinful, rebellious creature, who is under the wrath and condemnation of God

  • Who Jesus Christ is and what He did: God the Son, the Lord and Savior lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, rose again, ascended to heaven

  • What the appropriate response is: turn from sin; trust in Christ

  • repentance: acknowledging sin, sorrow for it, turning from it

  • faith: knowledge of, assent to, and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for salvation

  • What the costs of discipleship are:

  • death to self

  • submission to Christ as Lord

Sharing the life-giving gospel of Christ with lost people is a great privilege. Believers should be ready at any time to “give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15). It’s your duty to know the details of the gospel and to be able to express the message in a compelling way. Take the opportunities that God gives you to share the gospel with those around you.

Some Obstacles to Effective Evangelism

  • Some believe they need a lot of specialized training to witness effectively. Perhaps they are concerned about making a mistake when communicating the gospel—this is a serious matter, and they don’t want to mess up. Or perhaps they lack the confidence to answer potential questions E.g., How do you know the Bible is true? How do you know Jesus rose from the dead? Why do you think you’re right and all the other religions are wrong? Why does God allow so much evil in the world? Such questions are intimidating.

Answer: 1) Most believers can learn to communicate the gospel very efficiently. If one understood it well enough to be saved himself, he should be able to tell others; 2) Tell what you know and don’t worry about what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to admit your lack of knowledge. Tell how you got saved. Advanced training is important and valuable, but not necessary for effective evangelism.

  • Some are afraid that people will think they are strange and will reject them. They don’t want to lose friends or popularity. If they tell others about Jesus, they might suffer ridicule or insults. In other words, they are ashamed.

Answer: We should expect some opposition to the message. Jesus was crucified for that message. The disciples were killed for it. Millions of Christians have been persecuted for it. So it shouldn’t surprise us if people react negatively to the gospel message. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom 1:12). Are you?

  • Some may be uncomfortable with the methods of evangelism they have been taught. People use various methods to spread the gospel: door-to-door evangelism (“cold calling”), street preaching, passing out tracts on the corner, telemarketing (phones), etc. Some people are uncomfortable with such activities.

Answer: 1) These are not the only methods of evangelism–there are many others that one might find more suitable to them. 2) Lack of comfort should not deter one from evangelizing. Paul, for example, endured an amazing amount of discomfort (beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, imprisonment, threats) as he spread the gospel. We can endure a little discomfort for the cause of Christ.

  • Some people may be disillusioned because of their lack of success. Since no one responded in the past, they have decided not to try again.

Answer: The goal in evangelism is to glorify God by sharing the gospel with another person. Whether or not that person accepts the gospel is not under the control of the evangelist. All biblical evangelism is successful evangelism, regardless of the results. So don’t give up.

  • Some consider themselves too sinful to tell others. They think of themselves as such poor examples of what a Christian should be that they are hesitant to tell others of their need for Christ.

Answer: 1) It’s true that rebellious believers are bad testimonies. If their lives are a mess, or if they display ungodly attitudes and behaviors, they have nothing to offer anyone else. 2) God uses regular, sinful people to evangelize. One does not have to be a “superChristian” to witness. It’s OK to admit that you still struggle with sin. The message is more important than the messenger.

  • Biblical illiteracy, spiritual immaturity, apathy, and wrong doctrine prevent people from witnessing. Many believers have not progressed to the place where they could make a convincing, or even accurate, presentation of the gospel to an unbeliever. Failure to evangelize boils down to simple disobedience. Christians have received a direct, unmistakable commission: go and tell others. No excuse for not doing so is valid.

There is no effective antidote to disobedience other than repentance and revival. A stubborn refusal to be involved in evangelism indicates a backslidden spiritual state.

Friendship Evangelism

Probably the most effective and natural means of evangelism might be called friendship evangelism. This is not really a particular method at all. Believers simply use the relationships they naturally have to spread the message of the gospel. In other words, one tells his friends and acquaintances during the regular course of life. He takes the opportunities that come his way to tell others directly, invite them to church or special meetings, hand out a tract, or give a word of encouragement. He makes evangelism a normal part of his life, using the contacts that he has.

Note the Quote: “Evangelism is the inalienable responsibility of every Christian community, and every Christian man. We are all under orders to devote ourselves to spreading the good news, and to use all our ingenuity and enterprise to bring it to the notice of the whole world.”1

Conclusion: Every believer is responsible to tell others how to be saved. Make sure that you know the main points of a Gospel presentation, and tell others when you have an opportunity. Don’t let the typical hindrances to evangelism prevent you from being a good witness.

Discussion:

  1. Who has the responsibility to tell others about Christ? All believers

  2. What are the contents of a proper gospel presentation? Who God is, who man is, who Jesus is, the correct response to the message, the costs of discipleship

  3. List some reasons believers fail to evangelize. See above list.

  4. Does the Bible present any certain method of evangelism as the correct one? No.

  5. Describe friendship evangelism. Telling and/or inviting your friends; using the contacts you already have.

1 J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, p. 26.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 11: Proper Behavior

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 11: Proper Behavior

How should Christians decide what kinds of activities are proper for them? That is, how can one know if something is right or wrong? We could come up with a long list of rules to follow. But instead of just listing a bunch of do’s and don’ts, we’ll look at some important Biblical principles to apply.

Direct Commands and General Principles

The first thing to do is see what the Bible teaches about the subject. Direct biblical principles cover many of life’s most important issues–they tell us specifically what to do and what not to do. What are some direct commands that we must follow? Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t commit various forms of immorality, be saved, be generous, be kind, attend church, etc.

The Bible doesn’t address many issues that modern believers have to deal with. Usually, if the Bible doesn’t speak to the topic directly, we can find a general principle that does apply. What issues do general biblical principles cover? Amusement, entertainment, dress, music, language, etc.

General Biblical Principles that Guide Behavior

There is usually not much question or confusion regarding how to apply direct biblical commands – just obey them. However, because the Bible doesn’t address every single issue, we must apply general principles. Below is a list of texts that we should use when the Bible doesn’t directly talk about an issue.

1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

“To glorify” means to honor or reverence, to treat with respect. To do something for the “glory of God” means that we do it in a way that God would be pleased with.

What are some things that it is impossible to do “to the glory of God”? Murder, lie, cheat, steal, immorality, get drunk, etc. What about watch TV/movies? Some shows are OK, many are not.

Ask yourself the question, “Is God pleased with or honored by this activity?” or “Can I do this activity in a way that God would be pleased with?”

  1. Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

  • Think about the right kinds of things.

What kinds of things would this passage rule out? Porn, bad language, wrong religion or philosophy, etc.

Where are the good things from this passage found? In the Bible, in good books, in art, science, history, biography, etc.

  • Follow the right kind of teachers. “learned, received, heard” When the blind follow the blind, they both fall into a pit. Make sure you are following someone who is leading you in an orthodox, proper path.

  • Follow the right kind of examples. “seen in me”

Who is speaking here? Paul

What did Paul expect his readers to do with the information he had taught them? do it

Paul was a good example for the Philippians and for us. Who are other examples we could follow? Mature Christians–pastor, deacons, teachers. This is one important reason to be in church.

Ask yourself, “Does this help me think the right thoughts?” and “Is this teacher helping or hurting me?” and “Am I following a good or a bad example here?”

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

All Christians will one day stand before the Lord to be judged for our works. Thus, we should ask ourselves, “Is this activity worthy of reward, or will I be sorry I did it?”

Note: This judgment is for rewards, not for salvation. Nobody is saved based on his or her works.

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:12 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.

The people at Corinth were boasting that they were totally free in Christ and could do whatever they wanted to. This is a very common sentiment today. Paul gives them two limitations:

  • Your actions should be beneficial, i.e., helpful, advantageous, or profitable. What are some activities that we can do that are not sinful, but that are unprofitable? Much TV, video games, movies, entertainment, some books, etc.

  • Your actions should not lead to enslavement. What are some activities that tend to lead to enslavement? Smoking, drinking, drugs, porn.

Ask yourself, “Is this kind of activity beneficial?” and “Will this activity bring me under its power?”

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 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? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

This passage teaches several important truths that impact our behavior. First, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer’s body. That means that wherever the believer goes and whatever he does, God is present. Second, the believer’s body is not his own because God has purchased it. No one has the right to do whatever he pleases with his body. Third, the believer’s duty is to honor God with his body. Some have taught that it doesn’t matter what one does with his body because the physical nature is not as important as the spiritual. This is not true. One should seek to honor God with both his body and his spirit, because both belong to God.

How should this text influence your behavior? Avoid any activities that dishonor God or your body.

6. 1 Peter 1: 15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Clearly, this text teaches that the believer is to live a holy life. But note that one should be holy because God is holy. Christians should judge an activity by comparing it to the character of God. In other words, if the activity runs contrary to what we know God is like, the activity is likely out of bounds.

List some of the attributes of God’s goodness that can help us evaluate an activity or behavior. Holy, loving, kind, gracious, merciful, truthful, righteous, just. If participating in an activity/behavior forces you to violate these characteristics, the activity is probably not acceptable.

What about letting your conscience be your guide?

What is a conscience? It’s an internal sense of right and wrong, a witness within man’s heart that tells him he ought to do what he believes is right and not to do what he believes is wrong. Conscience does not teach us what is right or wrong, but prods us to do what we have been taught is right.

The conscience may or may not be a good guide, depending on how it has been molded. One’s conscience may become overly-sensitive if he has been taught that certain permissible behaviors are sinful. On the other hand, one can so abuse his conscience that it becomes unable to sense good and evil (1 Tim 4:2). If your conscience is telling you that a behavior is wrong, you should not practice it. If you are unsure about a behavior, you should withhold from participating until you examine the matter biblically. Once you are convinced that an activity is acceptable for Christians, it should not bother your conscience when you engage in it. In any case, don’t ignore your conscience.

Note: Determining what behaviors are personally acceptable for you depends greatly on your spiritual and physical maturity. Young people still living at home obviously have to abide by the rules their parents teach. Newly saved people probably won’t have the same standards and convictions as mature Christians do.

Conclusion: How do you know if an activity is proper or not? Find out what the Bible teaches, either directly or in principle. Can you practice the behavior in a way that honors God? Does the practice help you think the right kinds of thoughts, or does it tempt you toward evil thinking? Are you following a good example or a bad one? If God were to judge you for this activity, would you be rewarded or punished? Is the behavior beneficial for yourself and others or does it lead to enslavement? Answering such questions usually helps in choosing proper activities.

Discussion:

  1. Why is it sometimes hard to discern what behavior is acceptable? Because the Bible doesn’t speak to some issues, especially modern ones–e.g., entertainment, dress standards, games/recreation, etc.

  2. How can you know if some activity brings glory to God or not? Check what the Bible says directly about it; check what general principles may apply; think about the character of God and evaluate the activity on that basis.

  3. How should the reality of the Judgment Seat of Christ influence your behavior? Knowing that we face judgment for our actions should cause us to think twice before getting involved in sinful behavior.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 10: The Lordship of Christ

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 10: The Lordship of Christ

One of the titles used of God and Jesus in the Bible is “Lord.” We often use this title, but may not know what the significance of the word is. Today we’ll find out what it means when we say “Jesus is Lord.”

  1. Titles reveal much important information about the one to whom they refer. What are Jesus Christ’s titles in the following verses?

  • John 13:13 teacher and Lord

  • Acts 2:36 Lord and Christ

  • Rev. 19:16 King of kings and Lord of lords

Summarize what these titles show about Jesus. Jesus has a great deal of authority.

The word “Lord” suggests legal authority. It may also be translated as “master” or “owner.” It refers to one having power. As a noun, it suggests a ruler, one who has control. It always contains the idea of legality and authority. When we attach the term to God or Jesus, we are asserting that he has authority and power. Those who claim Jesus as their Lord are saying that they recognize and submit to Christ’s authority. They are committed to fulfilling the requirements of a disciple of Christ–denying oneself and willingly obeying Christ.

  1. Jesus is repeatedly referred to as the Lord.

  • The phrase “Lord Jesus” occurs 115 times in the NT.

  • The disciples often referred to him as “Lord.”

  • Paul often refers to Jesus as the Lord. Cf. Rom 10:9, 14:9

There is no doubt that the NT teaching about Jesus is that he is the Lord, the master, the one who has legal authority.

  1. Read Philippians 2:9-11

What name is above Jesus’ name? none

What will happen at the name of Jesus? every knee bow and tongue confess that Christ is Lord

  1. Read Luke 14:26-33. Note the following:

  • Being a disciple is costly .

  • Christ must come before any relationship v. 26.

  • Christ must come before yourself v. 27.

  • Christ must come before any possession v. 33.

Question: Is there any difference between a believer and a disciple? Is discipleship required of all believers, or is discipleship a higher, optional level of commitment? Believers are disciples. There’s no difference. What the Bible requires of disciples it requires of all believers. One cannot say, “I’m a believer but not a disciple.”

  1. Read Luke 6:46. What are a couple of implications of this verse?

  • If you call Christ “Lord,” you should obey him.

  • Those who call Him “Lord” and don’t obey are out of order or not saved at all.

  1. Read 1 John 2:4-6. Summarize this passage in your own words.

Those who claim to be saved and are disobedient are liars and not saved. Whoever claims to be saved must be Christ-like. We’re not talking about sinless perfection, but striving for maturity. Immaturity is normal, but the immature move on, they grow. Lack of growth is a sign of death/no life/no salvation.

  1. Some who claim Jesus as their Lord are insincere.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

One may profess to be saved and not possess a genuine relationship with God through Christ. In fact, there are likely many people who consider themselves to be Christians because they agree with the facts of the gospel. However, salvation is much more than mere assent to a set of facts.

Also note that one’s lifestyle can contradict his profession of faith. That is, if the evidence in one’s life is not consistent with what should be evident in a Christian’s life, he should not assume that his faith is genuine. One’s lifestyle will either confirm or deny his profession of faith.

Question: What about the so-called “carnal” Christian? Paul uses this term to describe those who professed to be saved yet were living ungodly lives, just like unsaved people (1 Cor 3:1-4). The word “carnal” simply means “fleshly,” suggesting that which is controlled by the old nature, the flesh (as opposed to the Spirit). Based on this, some have suggested that one can be a genuine Christian and yet live an ungodly, carnal life for years on end. However, we should probably not think of the “carnal Christian” as a legitimate category of believer. If one’s faith is genuine, he will not persist in a worldly, ungodly lifestyle, but he will be transformed and sanctified as he submits to God’s work in his life. True believers persevere in faith and in good works, not in rebellion and worldliness. Those who fail to give evidence of a transformed life are not just carnal; they’re not saved. One cannot use the excuse “Sorry, but I’m just a carnal Christian” to justify his ungodliness. We’re not saying that it’s impossible to backslide, but that a true believer’s life will not be characterized by ungodliness, at least not as a long-term pattern of life.

Question: We know that Jesus is the Lord and that believers must recognize Jesus’ right to rule over them. However, there is some debate regarding whether or not one must acknowledge the Lordship of Christ at the point of salvation. Some say that salvation occurs without the necessity of recognizing any aspect of Jesus’ claim of authority over one’s life. That is, one can be saved without any intent or desire to follow the Lord in obedience or loyalty. However, the general teaching of the NT is that the faith one exercises at the point of salvation must include at least some degree of commitment to Christ as one’s Lord. Virtually nobody makes a perfect, total commitment of his life to Christ at the point of salvation; few make such a commitment after salvation, for that matter. But the convert must understand that becoming a disciple of Christ requires submission to him. The NT presents Jesus as both the Savior and the Lord, and that is how we must present him to others. The other side of this argument is what I call “easy-believism,” which claims that no more than simple acknowledgement of the facts is required for salvation–no repentance, no commitment–a simple recognition that Jesus is the Savior. I disagree with this position.

Conclusion: What is the practical meaning of the Lordship of Christ? It means that believers must submit their wills to his. Jesus demands and deserves first place in the believer’s life. Obedience is not optional. Jesus is not just the Savior; He’s the Lord and Master. Part of being a Christian is submission to Christ as one’s Lord.

Discussion:

  1. What does the title “Lord” mean? Legal authority. Master, owner, the one in control

  2. Is it possible for one who does not recognize the Lordship of Christ to be saved? No. One need not be perfectly obedient/committed to Christ to be saved, but one must at least acknowledge that Jesus has legal authority over one’s life.

  3. What is the practical significance of the Lordship of Christ? If we claim to be disciples of Christ, we must follow Christ obediently. Those who fail to do so must not be genuinely saved. Not that it’s possible for us to judge that in many cases.

  4. Is it necessary to recognize the Lordship of Christ at the point of salvation? Yes, at least to some degree. One must acknowledge that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9).

  5. Will a genuine believer persist in rebellion, worldliness and ungodliness? He may backslide for a time and/or show signs of immaturity, but a true believer will display evidence of salvation and will persist in faith and in good works.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 9: What to Do About Sin

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 9: What to Do About Sin

When a person becomes a Christian, lots of things change (2 Corinthians 5:17). Unfortunately, one thing remains the same: believers still sin. They may not sin in the same ways, but they do sin. Even mature believers still struggle with sin. No one reaches a level of perfection where they no longer sin or yield to temptation occasionally.

This lesson will look at what a believer should do when he sins.

1. Confess your sin to God. Prov 28:13; 1 John 1:8-10

Note that the texts imply that believers still sin. In fact, if someone thinks he is sinless, he is wrong.

The word “confess” means to admit, acknowledge, or agree with. The Greek word literally means “to say the same thing.” When you confess your sin, you admit to God that you have sinned, acknowledge that you are guilty and ask for forgiveness.

Confession is not to other people, like a priest, but to God. It’s not wrong to talk to someone else about your sin, but it’s not necessary unless someone else is affected by your sin.

When one has sinned, he will normally feel guilty or sorry for his sin. Don’t ignore this feeling. Your conscience is a very important voice telling you right from wrong. However, you shouldn’t wait until you feel guilty to confess your sin to God. You should ask God to forgive you as soon as possible after you sin.

The fact that God forgives sin should not produce within us a presumptuous attitude regarding sin, as if we can freely sin because God always forgives anyway. God’s willingness to forgive us should lead us to live holy, righteous lives (Titus 2:11-12).

Question: What do you think about this statement: “I can sin all I want to because God is always going to forgive me anyway.” This is obviously a wrong attitude. God forgives us when we are truly repentant, and this kind of attitude lacks true sorrow for sin.

Question: What has God promised to those believers who refuse to repent of and forsake sin? Chastisement Hebrews 12:5-7

Question: Why do Christians need to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness if God has already forgiven all sins at the point of salvation? Sin is still sin. We need to still ask for pardon because we still sin. Full forgiveness declared in a judicial sense (i.e. based on imputed or positional righteousness) does not prevent the on-going need for forgiveness applied in a sanctifying or progressive sense (relational righteousness). Unconfessed sin will negatively affect your relationship with your Father here on earth. Things will not be right in terms of communion and maturity between ourselves and our heavenly Father until we have said “sorry” and asked Him to over look the ways we have let Him down.

From the Westminster Confession: “God continues to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.”

Note: Sometimes we say that sin in the believer’s life hinders his fellowship with God. This is probably not the most accurate language to use. In the NT, the idea of fellowship with God roughly corresponds with salvation (1 Cor 1:9; 1 John 1:3-6). Hence, if one is saved, he has fellowship with God and cannot be out of fellowship with Him. A believer may, however, “fall under God’s fatherly displeasure” through sin, which does hinder one’s day-to-day relationship with God.

2. Forsake your sin. Proverbs 28:13

“Renounce” or “forsake” means to leave behind or to turn your back on. After confessing your sin, you must determine not to sin in that way again. This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t, but this should be your attitude.

Does God forgive the person who has no intention of forsaking that sin? No.

3. Make amends for your sin.

Your sin often affects others. Therefore, you must make things right with those touched by your sin. Don’t pretend the sin never happened. Deal with it.

  • Ask others to forgive you if necessary.

  • Repair, replace, or repay for what you did. Make restitution.

Question: What should you do when someone thinks you have wronged him or her, but you don’t believe you did? I.e., someone accuses you of wrongdoing, but you are innocent. Depends on the situation. At times, you could just be gracious and kind and apologize even though you are not to blame. E.g., “If I’ve done anything to offend you, I’m sorry.” At other times, you need not apologize if you are certain you are totally free of guilt in the matter. If something is absolutely not your fault, you have no need to admit any guilt.

4. Be sensitive about sin. Psalm 19:12, 139:23-24

It ought to bother you when you sin. You ought to be concerned about it. Ask God to show you your sins and your shortcomings. It’s good to do this at the end of each day. Keep “short accounts” with God. Don’t let sin pile up.

Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Those who are sensitive to sin are concerned about sin in the lives of others. They don’t talk or joke about sinful behavior or enjoy it when others sin. Christians should obviously not tell or listen to dirty stories or off-color jokes and the like. Neither should they listen to “juicy” gossip regarding the sins of others. The corrupt and wicked ways of media stars should have no attraction for us. Don’t watch TV shows that promote and wallow in the “dirty laundry” of wicked people. Sin grieves God; it should grieve us, too.

What About when Others Sin against You?

Christians are not perfect people. Just like anyone else, they are prone to mistakes, errors in judgment, and sinful behavior. So we should not be surprised when a fellow believer sins against us. What should be our response?

  • Pray – Probably the first thing we should do when sinned against is pray for the offender. Pray that he or she would admit their sin, repent of it and make restitution.

  • Confront – It is a Christian’s duty to confront a brother or sister in Christ about his or her sin (Mt 18:15-17; Gal 6:1). Go to the person privately and discuss the issue. In some instances, this will solve the problem. At times, other individuals may need to be brought in to help. There may be occasions when church discipline is appropriate. Don’t just ignore the problem; deal with it.

  • Forgive – Whether or not the offending individual apologizes, the Christian response to sin against himself is to forgive. One must not allow himself to become bitter, resentful or hateful against those who sin against him. If you’re not careful, a failure to forgive will develop bitterness in your heart. Learn to forgive people even if they don’t ask for it or don’t deserve it. Really, none of us deserve to be forgiven. Think of how much God has forgiven you.

  • Rest – Once you’ve done your biblical duty, trust God to work out the situation. You can’t force anyone to repent. The only thing within your control is how you respond to the situation. Put it behind you and move on.

Conclusion: What should Christians do when they sin? They should confess it, forsake it, and make amends for it. They should always be sensitive about sin.

Discussion:

  1. What does the word “confess” mean? To admit, acknowledge or agree with.

  2. Why do saved people need to continue to ask forgiveness for sin? Because sin is still sin, and it creates a barrier between God and man.

  3. What does “forsake” mean? To leave behind, turn your back on

  4. Why is it inappropriate for Christians to enjoy listening to Hollywood gossip shows or talk shows that air someone’s “dirty laundry”? Because sin should grieve us. We shouldn’t find sinful things like that attractive. Trashy talk does not belong in the Christian life.

  5. Does a Christian have to forgive someone if he or she doesn’t apologize? Yes.

  6. Does a Christian have to apologize is he or she is not guilty of sin? No, but sometimes it’s a good idea anyway.

  7. How can lack of forgiveness develop a bitter attitude? When you hold on to a hurt, it just gets worse and more painful.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 8: Separation

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 8: Separation

Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6:17)

Separation is the teaching that Christians ought to be distinct and different from the sinful, corrupt world around them. The doctrine of separation is based on the holiness of God. Throughout the Bible, we find the command to be holy because God is holy (Lev 11:44 19:2, 20:7; 1 Pet 1:16). The primary meaning of the word “holy” is “unique, different, or separate.” God is both totally separate from sin and totally unique. Believers ought to imitate this character of God by separating themselves from sinful influences and striving to live a life of holiness.

Three Areas of Personal Separation:

  1. Physical Separation

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 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? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

  1. The Holy Spirit indwells the body of the believer, thus making it the temple of God. As such, the believer should seek to live in a way that would not dishonor God. There are many activities that would defile one’s body and dishonor God. What are some examples? Sexual immorality and those activities associated with it, pornography. What about dancing? Some forms might be OK–square, ballroom, folk. But modern dancing to rock music is not appropriate for a Christian, imho. Tattoos.

  2. Believers ought to stay away from any substances which would defile their bodies. What would be some examples? Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, some foods, etc.

Physical separation is staying away from those activities or substances that would be dishonoring to God. We must remove ourselves from certain environments in order to prevent ourselves from sinning or being associated with sinful practices.

We live in a very sinful culture. Christians ought to be truly counter-cultural. They ought to be offering an alternative lifestyle to what most others are pursuing. They must stand against the evils of society and refuse to be forced into the mold that modern culture is promoting. That’s what separation is all about.

Unfortunately, many voices within the church tell us that we need to be like the world in order to reach the world. We supposedly must format Christianity in a way that is the least offensive to unbelievers. Many churches are going the “seeker sensitive” route in order to be more appealing to lost people. However, the doctrine of separation teaches us that we cannot lower our standards or engage in worldly behavior just to make ourselves, our message, or our church more appealing to the lost.

  1. Relational Separation

2 Cor 6:14-18 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

  1. Explain what a yoke (not yolk) is. The wooden farming implement used to hook together animals in order to pull a plow or cart.

  2. The Israelites were forbidden from plowing with an ox and a donkey yoked together because the animals were of unequal strength (Deut 22:10). Paul uses the idea of a yoke to teach that believers should not be joined with unbelievers in certain activities. What reasons does Paul give for separation from unbelievers? Union with unbelievers constitutes an unequal yoke; believers have nothing in common with unbelievers spiritually; an unequal yoke may cause a believer to be involved with “unclean” things; such a yoke may prevent one from enjoying a proper relationship with God.

  3. The clear teaching of the Bible is that believers should not marry (or date) unbelievers. Such a union would be an unequal yoke.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4 Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

Saved people and unsaved people disagree on a very basic and significant level. Thus, a marriage between a lost person and a saved one creates all sorts of difficulties and problems. Name a few. How to raise the kids, how to handle church activities, how much money to give, what is morally acceptable behavior, etc.

Applying the doctrine of separation should also prevent a mature Christian from dating and/or marrying an immature Christian. If spiritual goals are not shared equally by both partners, it’s probably not a good idea for the two to date or marry. So it’s not enough that both individuals profess to be saved. Both should also be in agreement regarding theology and practice. Common scenario: spiritually mature/godly girl “gets swept off her feet” by immature guy. Girl tends to ignore this guy’s weaknesses because he pays attention to her. What happens when they get married? Friction develops because their spiritual goals are different. E.g., girls with “senioritis” at college–great pressure to get married.

  1. Separation should prevent a believer from forming close, personal bonds with those who would be a bad influence upon them. Rather than going along with evil people, believers should rebuke them.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Ephesians 5:11-12 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.

There are times during which a believer has no choice but to be in the company of wicked people. And it’s acceptable for Christians to have non-Christian friends. However, believers must not follow such people in their evil ways or allow them to negatively influence them. Believers must strive to be a good influence in such situations.

  1. Separation is not isolation. It does not require the believer to enter a monastery or insulate himself against all contact with unsaved people. Christians are to be “in” the world but not “of” the world. God commands us to reach the lost, so we have to be out in the community interacting with those who need the gospel. However, we must prevent ourselves from being negatively influenced by unsaved people.

  1. Doctrinal Separation

  1. Paul’s primary concern in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is that believers separate themselves from false teachers and false doctrine. Genuine Christians should not allow cultists or others with faulty theology to influence them.

  2. There are occasions when believers must break fellowship with other believers. Causes for separation from professing believers:

1. Doctrinal departure

2 Timothy 2:16-18 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth.

There is room for some doctrinal differences among orthodox believers, but not on the major tenets of the faith. Teaching wrong doctrine is especially dangerous, and those who do so must be put out of the church (i.e., excommunicated).

Churches must also practice doctrinal separation. It is unwise and unbiblical for churches to cooperate with other churches that vary on important doctrinal or philosophical issues. What might some of these issues be? Baptism, the spiritual gifts (tongues, miracles), associations (e.g., WCC, ECT), universalism, worship practices, etc. It’s common for churches and organizations to depart from orthodoxy.

What are some issues that churches may disagree about, but might still cooperate? Bible version, dress standards, music preferences (to some degree)

It’s usually better to withdraw from a corrupt organization than to attempt to reform it. That’s why today many churches are independent rather than members of a larger denomination or association. Denominations tend to slide into doctrinal/philosophical compromise.

Doctrinal deviation is one reason why commitment to a confession of faith is a good practice. Many Baptist churches endorse the New Hampshire or London confessions. These confessions express clearly what doctrinal beliefs the church holds. Those departing from that position are clearly in opposition to what the church believes.

2. Divisive spirit

Romans 16:17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.

What does “divisive” mean? Causing divisions and disunity within the church

Believers should stay away from those who cause friction and/or disunity within the church. What kind of behaviors might cause disunity? Gossip, insults, criticism, lies, false teaching.

3. Disorderly conduct

2 Thessalonians 3:6 Keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.

Disorderly conduct covers a multitude of sinful behaviors. Individuals and churches have to determine whether or not a believer’s behavior is so disorderly that he or she must be put out of the fellowship. What might some disorderly behaviors be? Drinking/drunkenness, various forms of immorality, being quarrelsome, financial misdeeds, idleness, violence, etc.

The goal of church discipline is to bring the offending person to repentance. Church discipline is for the benefit of both the person and the church. If the person refuses to repent, church members should treat him as an unsaved person and avoid him. This is why church membership is so important—if one is not a member, the church has no right to impose discipline upon him.

Applying the Doctrine of Separation

At times it may be difficult to tell when you should separate yourself from an activity, a person or a group. Asking yourself the following questions may be of help:

  • Is it forbidden in the Bible? John 17:17

  • Is it of the world or will it make me worldly if I do it? John 15:19; 1 John 2:15-17

  • It is good for me physically, emotionally and/or spiritually? Romans 12:9b; I Corinthians 10:23

  • Can I do it knowing that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? I Corinthians 6:19

  • Will it glorify the Lord, or will it possibly bring shame to His Name? I Corinthians 6:20; 10: 31

  • Can I honestly ask God’s blessing on it and be certain I’ll not regret doing it? Proverbs 10: 22

  • Is it apt to damage my testimony for the Lord? Philippians 2:15; Genesis 19:14

  • Is it possible that it is a stumbling block to weak believers? Romans 14:7, 2 1; I Corinthians 8:12, 14

  • Will it look bad? Does it have the appearance of evil? 1 Thessalonians 5:22

  • Would I be ashamed to be found doing this when Christ returns? I John 2:28; Mark 13:28

  • Will it make me a slave to anything or anyone but Christ? I Corinthians 6:12

  • Will it eliminate me from any type of Christian service? I Corinthians 9:27

  • Do I have any doubts that it might be wrong, or does it violate my conscience? Romans 14:23

  • Is it a valuable use of my time, or does it waste time? Ephesians 5:16

  • Could Satan use this as a way to gain a “foothold” in my life? 2 Corinthians 2: 11; Ephesians 4:27

  • What do my spiritual leaders (parents, pastors) and/or other godly people think about it? What advice would they give me? Hebrews 13:17

Conclusion: Separation is the teaching that Christians ought to be distinct and different from the sinful, corrupt world around them. God commands believers to shine like lights in the midst of a dark and depraved culture. We are to separate ourselves from those activities and substances which would defile our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to separate ourselves from those people who would influence us in a negative way, even if those people are professing believers. And we are to separate ourselves from false doctrine and those who teach it. We must also remember that separation is not isolation. We are in the world, but not of the world. Separation does not prevent us from reaching out to those who need to be saved.

Discussion:

  1. Explain the analogy of the yoke and how it applies to separation.

  2. Does separation mean that you can’t have unsaved friends? No, simply that you don’t allow them to influence you toward evil. This may mean that you can’t do what they do–certain parties or other activities where you know they’ll be encouraging you to sin. There may be times when you have to end a friendship.

  3. What’s the difference between separation and isolation? Isolation is preventing all contact with evil people, a “fortress mentality.” Separation is preventing evil from influencing you.

  4. What are the biblical grounds for breaking fellowship with professing believers? Doctrinal deviation, divisive spirit, disorderly conduct

  5. How do you know when to separate from something or someone? Apply the principles in this lesson.

  6. What’s wrong with this argument: “In order to reach people, you have to be like them.” It’s simply not true. Sick people don’t need another sick person to help them. People often are more responsive to someone who is different from, not the same as, they are.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 7: Daily Devotions

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 7: Daily Devotions

We’ve already learned about the necessity for both Bible intake and prayer. When we do both in a private situation, we usually call it “devotions” or having a “quiet time.” Having devotions on a regular basis is a fundamental discipline of a mature Christian life.

Why do we consider devotions to be a discipline? Because they take time and effort; one must discipline himself to engage in them; like exercise, the discipline makes one stronger—the effort pays off, it’s worthwhile.

What ought devotions to include? Minimum: Bible reading and prayer. Can add Bible study (i.e., taking notes, reading commentaries, etc), meditation, memorization, singing or reading hymns, devotional books, etc.

Since we’ve previously studied the elements of a devotional life (i.e., Bible intake and prayer), we’ll not cover that ground again. This lesson will focus on how to make the discipline of devotions a normal and important part of your life.

Bible Reading

Since reading the Bible is so important, we need a plan or strategy to do it. Here are some tips:

  1. Make a commitment to do it. Devotions should not be an “if I have time” event. Instead, make room in your schedule so you have time to do it.

  2. Determine what time of day you’re going to do it. For many people, mornings are the best because it prepares you for the rest of the day. If the mornings won’t work, find another time.

  3. Find a quiet, comfortable spot away from distractions.

  4. Before you start, ask God to help you understand. Make Psalm 25:4-5 your prayer.

  5. Read according to a plan or schedule. Don’t just flip open your Bible and start reading.

Potential plans:

  1. Read from various parts of the Bible

  • a section from the OT and from the NT. If you read 3 chapters from the OT and the NT daily, you’ll get through the NT about 3 times in the time it takes to get through the OT.

  • from the Law (Gen-Deut), History (Josh – Esther), Poetry (Job – SoS), Prophets (Isa – Mal), and the NT

  • Start in Genesis, Job, and Matthew. If you read equal numbers of chapters in each section, you’ll end at about the same time.

  1. Read the whole Bible through in a year. You can do so if you read 3-4 chapters every day. Follow a published plan, or buy a one-year Bible.

  2. Read sections repeatedly (this works especially well in the NT). Examples: loop through Luke-Romans, Galatians-Colossians, or 1 Thessalonians-Titus. Or read the same book over and over again. What would be the benefits of doing this? You get to know that section very well.

  3. Read through a chronological Bible. This Bible arranges the information into a chronological order, so you read the events in the order in which they occurred. By the way, there’s nothing inspired about the format or set up of our Bibles. The traditional format is somewhat confusing because it doesn’t follow a chronological order. Reading a chronological Bible is highly recommended–helps the reader make sense of the material better than how it is laid out traditionally.

  4. Read and meditate on a small passage (a paragraph or a chapter). Concentrate on understanding that passage very well.

  5. Follow a published Bible reading schedule included in many devotional booklets and/or guides. TableTalk, published by RC Sproul’s organization Ligonier Ministries, is a good example.

  1. Read a portion that is comfortable for you, maybe 1-3 chapters.

  2. Take notes as you read.

  1. Outline the book. Note the major themes.

  2. Write down questions and comments to study or discuss later.

  3. Note verses you’d like to work on memorizing.

  1. For a change of pace, read from a different version than you normally do.

  1. Versions: The KJV is generally accurate and reliable, but the language is often quite difficult. The NKJV updates the language of the KJV without departing totally from the well-known phrasing and language of the KJV. The NASB is a good literal translation, as is the ESV. The NIV is quite interpretive, often giving the translator’s view of what the author meant. Nevertheless, it’s generally pretty accurate and is quite clear and readable. Avoid paraphrases (Living Bible, The Message).

  2. Study Bibles: Explanatory notes can add much to your understanding of the text. The NIV Study Bible has a very good notes section. The Ryrie Study Bible has many helpful notes, as does the Reformation Study Bible. John MacArthur’s study Bible is a good one. Various publishers put out Student Bibles, which are formatted especially for teens. As always, remember that the notes, while usually helpful, are not inspired and may be contrary to what you have been taught.

  3. Parallel Bibles: These volumes have the text of several translations side by side so you can see how the different translators handled the text. This is especially helpful when one translation is unclear.

  4. Interlinears: An interlinear Bible has the text of the original language (Hebrew or Greek) along side the English translation. Interlinears are especially helpful for those who have a basic knowledge of the original languages.

  1. Use another book in conjunction with your reading, such as a good commentary, or a devotional book. Many devotional books include interesting stories but don’t aid in your understanding of the text. Use those that explain the Bible or deal with significant doctrinal issues. E.g., “Our Daily Bread” is often interesting to read, but is pretty light–not much in the way of explaining the text. Most teen-oriented devotion guides are the same.

  2. Read with a friend or a study group. Agree to read a certain section and then meet to discuss it.

Prayer

In our last lesson we covered this issue pretty thoroughly. Here are some reminders for effective prayer:

  • Use the ACTS format:

Adoration (i.e., praising God for who he is) Nehemiah 9:6-7

Confession 1 John 1:9

Thanksgiving 1 Thes 5:18

Supplication Phil 4:6

  • Pray briefly before you read the Bible, asking God for wisdom and enlightenment. As you read and meditate upon the Bible, you’ll see principles or issues that you should pray about. Spend the majority of your prayer time after you’ve read the Bible.

  • Use a prayer list. There are several available at church, or start your own. It’s important to pray specifically. “God bless the missionaries” is a little too general.

  • Pray for others: parents, friends, pastor, church members, missionaries

  • Pray for events: church services, activities, mission work, plans

  • Pray for your self: confess sin, help with problems

You might want to break up your list into different things for each day of the week. That way you can pray briefly each day and still pray for many things within a week.

What about Fasting?

Biblically speaking, fasting is a voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual reasons. One may fast from food or from any number of regular activities like watching TV, using certain products, participating in certain events, etc. A fast is any time you refrain from doing something you usually do, for spiritual reasons. The Bible refers only to fasting from food.

The NT indicates that there will be times for fasting. Jesus stated more than once that his disciples would fast (Matt 6:16-17, 9:14-15, 17:21) and the early church participated in fasting (Acts 13:2, 14:23). However, Paul mentions it only once (1Cor 7:5) and does not suggest that fasting is a necessary part of the Christian life.

How is fasting related to prayer? Fasting is often associated with prayer (Ezra 8:23; Neh 1:4; Dan 9:3; Acts 13:3). Fasting brings a note of urgency and sincerity to our prayers. Fasting doesn’t guarantee that God will answer prayer in the way that we desire, but it does show that we are serious and sincere about a matter. If you are facing a serious decision or have a significant prayer request, take meal times to pray instead of eating.

  • Pray and fast for wisdom in making decisions (Acts 14:23)

  • Pray and fast for deliverance or protection (Ezra 8:21-23; Esther 4:16).

  • Pray and fast to express repentance for sin (1 Sam 7:6; Joel 2:12).

  • Pray and fast to express and/or renew your dedication to God and to worship Him (Luke 2:37).

Conclusion: Discipline yourself to take time daily to meet with God in devotions. Bible reading and prayer are essential parts of the Christian life. Without them, there will be little if any growth or strength possible.

Discussion:

  1. What do you see as the primary factors hindering your devotional life? Lack of time, lack of desire, apathy, boredom, don’t see how the Bible matters (e.g., Leviticus).

  2. What do you have to do to overcome these obstacles? Make a commitment and stick with it, get a Bible version you can understand, find a time in your schedule, etc.

  3. Are there any valid excuses for not taking time for devotions? No, at least not for extended periods of time.

  4. Does it matter what physical position you take as you pray? The position doesn’t really matter. There are examples in the Bible of people standing with hands upraised, kneeling, and prostrating themselves.

  5. How often should one pray and fast? Some people do so on a regular basis. Otherwise, doing so is appropriate when facing a serious decision or problem.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 6: Prayer

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 6: Prayer

What is prayer? Prayer is simply talking to God. You don’t need to use any special language; just talk to God like you would to anyone else you respect and honor.

It’s important that we communicate with God. God speaks to us through the Bible, and we speak to God through prayer. Further, God uses our prayer to advance His program. That is, His will is often fulfilled in answer to our prayers. And God repeatedly tells us that we should pray. So prayer is a very important part of the Christian life.

Prayer is not just asking for things. In prayer, we acknowledge that God is in control of all things and that we depend on Him for all things. We don’t pray in order to change God’s mind or His plan.

Matthew 6:5-15 gives us much information about prayer. Note the following from this passage:

The wrong way to pray

showing off .5

empty ritual .7

The right way to pray

Begin by acknowledging who God is. .9-10

What does “hallowed” mean? To make holy.

Other examples of this:

  • 1 Chronicles 29:10-12. Notice that David does not get around to asking for anything until vs. 18.

  • Nehemiah 1:5f

  • Nehemiah 9:5f

Ask for what you need. .11

“Daily bread” speaks of daily needs, not luxuries or conveniences. God promises to meet our needs, not to give us everything we want.

Ask for forgiveness. .12 see also 1 John 1:9

Ask for help. .13

How to pray

Pray according to God’s will. 1 John 5:14, 3:22

God answers prayer according to His own will and good pleasure. All our prayers must submit to God’s overall plan, which cannot be thwarted or changed.

Pray often. Psalm 86:3; 1 Thes 5:17

Pray for others. 1 Thes 5:25; 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Church – pastors & teachers, deacons, missionaries, events, plans

Parents, family members

Governmental leaders – president & cabinet, House and Senate, courts, state and local government, etc.

Friends, school, teams, etc.

Pray over your food. 1 Timothy 4:3-5

Pray privately. Matthew 6:5-6

Pray persistently. Colossians 4:2

Pray to God, in Jesus’ name, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 12:5; John 16:24; Eph 6:18

4. A pattern for prayer:

ACTS — Adoration (i.e., praising God for who he is) Nehemiah 9:6-7

Confession 1 John 1:9 Confession is simply agreeing with God about the nature of your sin. We ought to confess and forsake sin before asking God for anything.

Thanksgiving 1 Thes 5:18

Supplication Phil 4:6 Supplication is asking for things. It’s not wrong to ask God for things you need or want. However, note that one should not ask for things just to “consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).

5. Hindrances to prayer

  • Unbelief (James 1:6-7)

  • Disobedience (Isa 59:1-4)

  • An unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:25)

  • Unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18)

  • Asking with wrong motives (James 4:3)

6. Hints for effective prayer

  • Plan your schedule so you can pray daily. Mornings are often the best time, but work out your schedule in a way that suits you best.

  • Find a quiet place away from distractions so you can concentrate.

  • Use a list. Pray through the church directory. Use the prayer lists available.

  • Keep track of answered prayer. Keep a prayer journal.

7. Corporate prayer

Acts 12:5 Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

Corporate prayer occurs when the church assembles to pray. Seek to participate in opportunities for corporate prayer at your church. The Wednesday evening service usually emphasizes prayer.

8. Misconceptions about prayer

  • Prayer does not inform God of anything he doesn’t already know. God knows what we need before we pray (Matt 6:32).

  • Prayer is not some kind of secret formula or special key to unlock a special door to God’s blessings. Prayer is more than just reciting a certain set of words. Man cannot bind or unlock the accomplishment of God’s will. E.g., Prayer of Jabez book – underlying principle is wrong.

  • Prayer is not a means of changing God’s mind or getting what you want. Humans cannot change God’s eternal plan for the universe. God does not wait around, hoping for us to pray so that he can accomplish his purposes.

  • God is under no obligation to answer prayer in the way that we want. Praying for lengthy periods, fasting, or other similar behaviors do not strengthen our prayers or make it more likely that God will answer us according to our desires.

Conclusion: Prayer is an essential aspect of the Christian life. It’s an act of worship and a means of fellowshipping with God. Each day you should set aside a little time to pray. Don’t neglect prayer.

Discussion:

  1. Why is prayer an important part of the Christian life? The Bible commands it; necessary to carry on a relationship with God.

  2. Can prayer change God’s eternal will (his decrees)? No. We are to pray according to God’s will. No amount of prayer will get God to change his mind regarding something he intends to do.

  3. What did Paul mean by “pray without ceasing”? Pray regularly and often.

  4. What answers does God give to prayer? Yes, no, wait

  5. If God knows what we need, and if prayer doesn’t change God’s eternal plan, why should we pray? We are commanded and expected to pray; prayer is an act of worship; prayer is a means of maintaining close fellowship with God

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 5: The Bible

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 5: The Bible

Christianity is a faith based solely on a book, the Bible. Christians believe the Bible is God’s holy Word. Thus it’s important for us to know some things about the Bible.

Luke 11:28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attention to [public] reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

1. Where did the Bible originate?

2 Tim 3:16-17 – The Bible is the product of inspiration. I.e., it’s God’s Word, “God-breathed.”

2 Pet 1:16-21 – The Bible is not a man-made book. People didn’t just write what they felt like. They wrote what God/the H. Sp. Wanted written. “Carried along” describes how the wind moves a sailboat.

2. What are some of the benefits of the Bible?

Psm 19:7-11 revives the soul, makes the simple wise; gives joy to the heart and light to the eyes, they warn and reward the reader

Psm 119:9 keeps your way pure

Psm 119:105 a lamp/light to guide your way

Psm 119:111 cause joy

Psm 119:130 gives you light/understanding

John 17:17 tells you the truth

2 Tim 3:16-17 profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction

1 Pet 2:2 source of growth

3. What are some facts about the Bible?

Psm 119:160 it’s all true

Isa 40:8 it stands forever

Matt 5:18 it won’t pass away; it will be fulfilled

John 17:17 it’s true

4. Biblical Terms:

  • Bible: comes from the Greek word biblos, which is simply “book

  • Scripture: the sacred writings; comes from the Latin word scriptura

  • Inspiration: the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit upon the Scripture writers which made their writings the Word of God

The word literally means “God-breathed.” The Bible is God’s Words written down. Many times, especially in the OT, the writer says, “Thus says the Lord.” The Bible writers repeatedly claim that the words are God’s and not their own. However, God did not dictate the Bible like a boss dictates to a secretary. God influenced or moved various authors to write down what He wanted written. What men wrote under the influence of the Holy Spirit was the word of God.

Because of inspiration, we believe the Bible is:

  • Inerrant – without errors in the original documents Remember that inerrancy applies to the originals, not to subsequent copies or versions.

  • Infallible – incapable of leading one astray

  • Preserved – kept by God throughout time so that it is still accurate and trustworthy today

  • Version: A version is simply a type of translation. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT). Translators convert those languages into other languages so anyone can read the Bible.

There are many different versions of the Bible in English. They are all roughly the same, although they vary in their use of language. Newer versions are more readable but tend to be less literal. Older versions stick more closely to the original language but tend to be harder for modern readers to understand. Versions such as the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, and NIV are useful and reliable works.

  • Revelation: God’s communication of truth to man, or the content of the truth communicated.

“Reveal” means “to uncover, to expose, to show.” God has revealed information about Himself to us in the Bible. Revelation (the verb) happens when God reveals information directly to someone. Revelation (the noun) is the result of that happening. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. Men wrote down what God inspired them to write. This is not the same as some composer or poet being “inspired.”

  • Canonicity: the historical process whereby God, through the Holy Spirit, directed His people to recognize which writings were inspired. The word “canon” means an authorized list. Only those books which bore the marks of canonicity were included in the canon.1 The canon is comprised of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. The canon was permanently closed with the writing of the book of Revelation at the end of the first century A.D. (Rev 22:18-19). Thus, we do not believe that God is directly revealing anything to people today.

What about the Apocrypha? The Apocrypha is the group of disputed books that are included in some Bibles but not in others. Protestants generally believe that the Apocryphal books are valuable historically, but are not inspired. Apocryphal books do not partake of the marks of canonicity, and thus should not be considered as part of the inspired canon of Scriptural books. Some information in the Apocrypha contradicts the rest of the Bible.

  • Illumination: the act of the Holy Spirit whereby He enables saved people to understand the true significance of the Word of God (John 14:26; 1 Cor 2:6 16; 1 John 2:20 21, 27). Unsaved people can understand the basic sense of Scripture, but they do not accept “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14). The only way unsaved people can understand and apply the Gospel is if the Holy Spirit convinces them of the truth of the Scriptures.

  • Interpretation: the process of arriving at the correct understanding of Scripture. One should interpret each passage according to its grammatical, historical, literary, and theological context. Generally speaking, one should interpret the Bible literally. That is, if the plain sense of the passage makes sense, one should seek no other sense. Words and sentences should be understood in their normal, regular way. One should not seek for hidden or “deeper” meanings. The primary task of the interpreter is to find the author’s intended meaning. Biblical interpretation is sometimes called hermeneutics.

5. How do we know that the Bible is really God’s Word?

There are many so-called “scriptures” that claim to be God’s Word. Christians believe the Bible is the one and only inspired source of revelation for two reasons:

  • The Holy Spirit convinces us that the Bible is truly God’s Word (1 Cor 2:9-14). Faith comes through hearing the Word (Rom 10:17).

  • Historical research and analysis, which shows that the Bible is trustworthy and credible, strengthens our assurance.

6. Conclusions about the Bible:

  • Christians should have a high respect and regard for the Bible. It’s not like any other book. It’s the basis for their faith and life.

  • Christians should read it often. Daily Bible reading should be the norm. It should be your goal to read the entire Bible.

  • Christians should listen carefully as preachers and teachers explain it.

  • Christians should obey it. This is the correct response to learning new truth. Seek to obey what you learn, apply the principles to your life. Be “doers of the word and not hearers only.”

  • Christians should memorize it. Psm 119:11. Memorize verses that you find important or meaningful. Start a list and go over it daily.

  • Christians should meditate on it. Psalm 1.2 “His delight is in the law of the Lord…”

  • Christians should base their lives upon its principles. Biblical principles apply to almost every aspect of life. Our lives reflect those principles in daily life. The Bible should influence our thinking and our behavior. Develop a Bible-soaked logic.

Conclusion: Because the Bible is the word of God, it’s essential for Christians to access it on a regular basis. An essential discipline of the Christian life is daily Bible reading. Seek to read, understand and apply the Bible every day.

Discussion:

  1. Define inspiration. The work of the Holy Spirit upon the life of a biblical author that insured that what he wrote was the Word of God.

  2. Define revelation. The act of God revealing his word to man, or the content of the communication

  3. What is a “canon”? A rule or authorized list. The 66 books of the Bible are the canon.

  4. How do we know that God is not directly revealing information through inspiration today? 1) Jesus promised that the apostles would write the NT. There are no apostles around today; 2) The book of Rev strongly implies that nothing else would be added to the canon; 3) The Bible is sufficient for life and godliness. We’ve got everything we need.

  5. Why don’t Protestants accept the Apocrypha? Because they don’t think that it’s inspired. It does not partake of the marks of inspiration. It may be valuable, but it’s not God’s Word.

  6. How should one interpret the Bible? Literally/normally, like any other literature.

1 Books were considered canonical if they were written by a recognized prophet or apostle, if they agreed with the other accepted scriptural books, and if the people of God (Israel or the church) accepted the book as authoritative.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 4: Baptism

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 4: Baptism

In the last lesson we looked at the meaning and purpose of the church. One important thing the church does is baptize believers. In this lesson, we’ll study what baptism is all about.

  1. The word “baptize”

“Baptize” means “to dip, dunk, or immerse.” This is why we baptize like we do. Sprinkling, pouring, etc do not fulfill the basic meaning of the word.

Acts 8:36-38 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

Note that both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. If baptism were merely pouring or sprinkling of water, there would have been no need for them to get into the water. There is a perfectly good Greek word for “sprinkling,” and it is never used in reference to Christian baptism.

The symbolism of the baptism strongly suggests immersion (see Romans 6:4-5). Baptism is an act which symbolizes the believers acceptance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as provision for the washing away of sin. No other mode of baptism captures the symbolism correctly.

Further, the practice of the early church was obviously immersion (see such passages as Matt 3:6, 16; Mark 1:10; John 3:23; Acts 8:26-40).

Definition: Christian baptism is the immersion of a person in water, on profession of his faith in Christ, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  1. Baptism is the initial step of obedience after salvation.

Baptism is only for those who have exercised and professed a saving faith in Christ. In the NT, the order is always salvation followed by baptism. Those who put their faith in Christ were generally baptized soon thereafter. All believers should be baptized.

Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Acts 18:8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

Some traditions teach that baptism washes away original sin. The idea that baptism absolves one of sin is often called “baptismal regeneration.” While baptism is at times linked with salvation (Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet 3:21), the two are separate ideas. Baptism is not required for salvation. However, this fact does not reduce the need for baptism. One should not see baptism as an optional, unimportant ritual, but as a necessary step of obedience. Those who refuse baptism cast their profession of faith into doubt.

The NT knows nothing of baptizing infants or anyone else who does not have the ability to understand the gospel. Some suggest that the children of believing parents should be baptized, but this practice has no biblical support. Each person must believe for himself in order to be saved.1

  1. Baptism is an ordinance, not a sacrament

An ordinance is a meaningful rite or ritual conducted by a church. Most Baptist churches do not see baptism as a sacrament, but rather as an ordinance. The word “sacrament”2 suggests a means of grace, i.e., a practice through which one receives grace to be saved. Baptists do not believe that baptism saves or keeps one saved. They don’t see the practice as a channel of saving grace. Instead, baptism is an ordinance, a symbolic ritual that Christ instituted and that the early church practiced. It’s an outward sign of inward grace, not an outward work through which one receives saving grace.

Baptism has no power in itself to forgive sin, to change one’s heart or to cause one to be more sanctified. But as an act of obedience, it does bring one into a more intimate and personal fellowship with Christ and with His church.

  1. Baptism is a local church ordinance.

The local church is responsible to control and conduct baptisms. It is not a ritual that any believer can practice, but one that must be conducted under the authority of a church. A church, not an individual, authorizes baptisms. Generally, pastors administer baptism, although anyone the church appoints could do so. The validity of baptism depends on the character and profession of the candidate, not on that of the administrator. However, if one was baptized in a non-baptistic church, he will likely have to be re-baptized (really, baptized correctly for the first time) if he wants to join a Baptist church.

Baptism is an initiation into the church. One cannot be a member of a church until he is baptized.

  1. The importance of baptism

A. Baptism is a public confession of faith. Esp. important in NT times. Shows your true commitment. Something wrong if a person is unwilling to follow the biblical pattern.

B. Baptism is a public identification with Christ (Rom 6:3-5). It shows one’s belief in the death, burial and rez of Christ.

C. Baptism results in addition to the church (Acts 2:41-42). Normally when we baptize someone, we take him into membership. We wouldn’t baptize someone without taking him into membership.

  1. Baptism is commanded by Christ (Matt 28:18-20). Baptism is not a matter of personal preference. Any genuine believer desires to follow the Lord in baptism. It may not be required for salvation, but it certainly is required for obedience, church membership and further service. One cannot hope to receive all the blessings and rewards of discipleship if he is unwilling to obey in this matter.

  1. Misunderstanding Baptism

  1. Baptism does not convey saving grace. Salvation and baptism are two different matters. Baptism is for those who are already saved.

  2. The correct mode of baptism is immersion. Sprinkling or pouring water on someone is not genuine baptism.

  3. Baptism is not a continuation of the OT rite of circumcision. Jewish males were circumcised on their eighth day as a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. Baptism is an entirely different thing.

  4. The character of the candidate and the mode of baptism (immersion) are most important. The administrator is of secondary importance.3

Conclusion: Baptism is an important initial step of obedience and a public testimony of one’s conversion. After a person gets saved, he should seek to be baptized and to become part of a local church.

Discussion:

  1. What’s the difference between a sacrament and an ordinance? “Sacrament” suggests a channel/means of grace; “ordinance” suggests meaningful rite/ritual. An ordinance is an important act, but it doesn’t convey saving grace.

  2. Does baptism save a person or help keep one saved? No. It doesn’t help a person be saved, nor does it keep a person saved. It’s a step of obedience.

  3. Should we recognize the baptism from non-baptistic churches? You have to go on a case-by-case basis. Some “alien baptisms” are fine, others aren’t. As long as the candidate understood correctly and the mode was right (immersion), the baptism should probably stand. If not, the person should be legitimately baptized.

  4. Should babies be baptized? No. Christening was started because people thought baptism saves or removes sin. If it did, it would make sense to do it as soon as possible. But it does not save. Remember the order: Salv, then baptism. Can babies believe? No. Thus, they shouldn’t be baptized. See Acts 18.8

  5. What is the procedure of baptism like? Normally the person who wants to get baptized talks to the pastor about it. The pastor then sets up an interview to make sure the person is really saved and understands what baptism is all about. If the pastor and deacons feel the person is ready, they will recommend the person for membership. Then the person will be baptized as soon as possible–maybe a few days or a couple of weeks. We have a baptismal tank in the front of our church. The pastor dips the person backward under the water and then brings him up. Then the church votes the person into membership.

1 Some suggest that because the NT mentions the baptism of entire households (Acts 16:15; 1 Cor 1:16), infants must have been included in baptism. However, it is clear that the members of those baptized households included only those who could exercise saving faith (cf. Acts 18:8).

2 From the Latin sacramentum, a soldier’s oath of loyalty and consecration to the military service in which he enlists.

3 Some churches insist on “rattling the chain,” that is, making sure that one is baptized in a “legitimate” church, one that was started by a “legitimate” church, and so on. Such churches assert that unless one is baptized in a church that can trace its heritage back to a “legitimate” church, the baptisms conducted by that church are illegitimate. We do not hold that view.

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 3: Church Membership

Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 3: Church Membership

One of the most important aspects of the believer’s life is the church to which he belongs. Church is where the Scripture is taught, where believers fellowship and encourage each other, and where Christians gather to worship God as a community. Church is a very important thing.

  • What are some ways in which people understand the word “church”?

Usually the building; a denomination, all believers, a local group of believers

  • What are the two ways in which the term “church” is used in the NT?

1 Cor 1:2; Rom 16:5 a certain church in a town, i.e., a local church

1 Cor 12:13; Eph 1:22-23 all saved people, i.e., the universal or “catholic” church

  • Read the following verses and formulate a definition for what the local church is.

Acts 2:41 saved and baptized

Acts 2:42 devoted to teaching, etc

Acts 5:42 preaching the gospel

Matt 28:19-20 going, making disciples, baptizing, teaching (fulfilling the Great Commission)

Heb 10.25; Acts 20:7 meeting regularly

Phil 1:1 organized with elders and deacons

Definition of church: combo of above elements

  • Are you currently a member of a church that follows this definition?

  • How do you become a member of a church? Acts 2:41

For new converts, baptism is the means of addition to a church. You would talk to the pastor, explain how you got saved and that you want to be baptized. If the pastor is convinced you really understand and are saved, he’ll schedule a baptism, usually after a PM service. After the baptism, the church votes to take you into membership. Next time we’ll look at the meaning and importance of baptism.

Unlike the universal church, membership in a local church is voluntary. One must choose to become a member of a particular local church. Unfortunately, some Christians choose not to.

For Discussion

Why do some Christians refuse to join a local church? They are disobedient; they see it as optional; they don’t agree with every aspect or philosophy of the church.

What about people who attend a church but refuse to formally join it? Same as above. They want the benefits of a church without the commitments involved.

Do you have to wait to find the perfect church, or can you join one that is slightly flawed? If you find the perfect church, don’t join it; you’d wreck it. Obviously, no church is perfect, and you won’t agree on every single point. But as long as the church is doctrinally and philosophically sound, there’s no reason not to join.

The fact that some Christians refrain from uniting in membership with a local church is unfortunate, for church membership is a good thing.

I. The Reasons for Membership

Though it is true that church membership is not explicitly taught in Scripture, the general concept is found throughout the NT. Consider the following:

A. Biblical precedent suggests church membership.

1. Believers were added to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:47). They could not have been added to an organization that did not exist.

2. Records of membership were kept (1 Tim 5:9).

  1. Members could be removed from the local church (1 Cor 5:12-13). One obviously cannot be removed from something he is not a part of.

4. Members could transfer from one church to another (Rom 16:1).

B. Biblical principles suggest church membership.

1. The principle of accountability

The local church is the context in which one makes himself accountable to other believers. Members of a church are responsible to exhort, encourage, warn, and disciple one another. We should welcome and seek such accountability. Unwillingness to join a church implies an unwillingness to be held accountable.

2. The principle of commitment

The members of the early church had a sincere commitment to one another (Acts 2:41-47). The author of Hebrews exhorts his readers not to forsake the assembly of believers (Heb 10:25). Members of a church ought to be firmly committed to one another and to the ministry of their church. Those who are not members have little or no ownership of the ministry. No matter how faithfully they attend, they are not really committed to the assembly.

Most churches have a formal covenant that members agree to when they join. A covenant is an agreement or contract which lists the obligations members voluntarily take upon themselves. Such a document is helpful in that it spells out very clearly the commitments people are making when they join the church.

Pass out copy of church covenant and read thru it.

3. The principle of orderliness

In the local church, all things are to be done in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40). Church membership promotes orderliness by clearly identifying who is part of a local church and who is not. If one is part of a church, the church members have the right and responsibility to help that person live an orderly life. If a non-member is living a disorderly life, the church has no right or obligation to confront the person about it. Non-members are not under the authority of any church.

II. The Requirements for Membership

A. The initial requirements

  1. Salvation (Acts 2:41,47)

A dearly held principle of Baptist polity [explain polity] is regenerate church membership. That is, only those who can give a reasonable testimony of salvation are considered for membership. This obviously prohibits infants from membership, as well as anyone else who does not have a testimony of salvation. Many churches extend membership to anyone who cares to join, whether or not they claim to be saved. Why do you think they’d do that? In the hope that such people would get saved. What are the dangers of doing that? It could lead to unsaved people having an influence over the church.

2. Baptism (Acts 2:41)

Just as salvation and Spirit baptism are prerequisites to membership in the invisible church, so salvation and water baptism are prerequisites to membership in the visible church.

Normally, when one gets saved, he is shortly thereafter baptized. This is the clear NT pattern. The church then votes to accept the person into membership. If a baptized believer moves to a new community, his membership is transferred from his old church to his new one; he is not re-baptized.

If a person has a legitimate testimony of salvation, has been baptized, and has evidence of an orderly way of life, he may expect to be welcomed into the membership of a church.

B. The continuing requirement: an orderly walk

In order to remain a member in good standing, the church member must live a consistently righteous, although not perfect, lifestyle (2 Thes 3:1). Those who persist in sin and are unwilling to repent are to be excommunicated from the assembly (see 1 Corinthians 5). A church may discipline a member out of the fellowship for a number of reasons: doctrinal deviation, a disorderly walk, a divisive spirit, etc.

III. The Responsibilities of Membership

“Membership has its privileges” was a catchy advertising slogan several years ago. As far as the local church is concerned, this saying might be modified to read: Membership has its responsibilities. What are some of the responsibilities of a local church member?

A. Attendance (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:24-25)

This is not sporadic, hit-and-miss attendance, but faithful participation. A church member should strive to support all the services and activities of his church that pertain to him. If one does not attend, he can’t be an active participant. A non-attending member is a drag on the whole operation.

B. Giving (1 Corinthians 16:2)

The sacrificial giving of the members of a church finances the ministry of that church. The local church is both the collection and distribution point for the money Christians give. Members should seek to give a portion of their income to sustain and expand the ministry of their church. Those who don’t give are not only disobedient, they are not pulling their weight. Non-members really don’t have a place to give.

One’s own church, not para-church ministries, should be the primary recipient of Christian giving. Support your local church instead of some other ministry that is not directly interested in you.

C. Fellowship (Acts 2:42)

Fellowship is more than just social interaction. The fellowship that church members have with each other is based not only on their common bond of faith, but also on their common commitment to one another as members of the same church. Thus, if one is not a member of a church, the degree of fellowship that he can experience with other believers is greatly diminished.

Members of a church have made a pledge and a commitment to one another. They can count on each other. Non-members have not so committed themselves, and thus are outside the fellowship.

Attenders and non-members may enjoy a degree of fellowship, but they can’t expect the same treatment as members can.

  1. Ministry

Note all the ways in which church members are to minister to each other.

1. Pray for one another (2 Thes 3:1; see also Lesson Ten)

2. Do good to one another (Gal 6:10)

3. Serve one another (Gal 5:13)

  1. Forgive one another (Col 3:13)

  2. Edify one another (1 Thes 5:11)

  3. Admonish one another (Rom 15:14)

  4. Bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2)

  5. Teach one another (Col 3:16)

  6. Comfort one another (1 Thes 5:11)

  7. Exhort one another (Heb 3:13)

  8. Encourage one another (Heb 3:13 and 10:25)

Members fulfill these ministries (and more) primarily within the context of their church. If one is not a part of a church, he can’t fully participate in either the giving or the receiving aspects of these ministries. He really has no outlet for ministry within the church because he’s not part of it. He may have a personal ministry of outreach and discipleship, but this would be separate from church ministry.

Further, leadership is only for members. If one wants to be a pastor, deacon, or Sunday school teacher, he normally has to be a member. In fact, if one desires to fulfill nearly any responsibility in the church, he has to be a member. Thus, membership is required to obey the above commands.

Admittedly, some churches are very loose when it comes to whom they allow to minister within the church. Some churches allow anyone to be involved. We don’t.

  1. Membership privileges

The saying “membership has its privileges” is true. There are things church members can participate in that non-members cannot.

  1. The ordinances

The Lord’s Supper is for church members. This ordinance is strictly for those who have been baptized and are part of a church. The other ordinance, baptism, is directly linked to membership. That is, those who are baptized are normally added to the church.

Some churches have closed communion, others close, and others open. We practice close communion—one has to be a member of either our church or a church of like faith and practice. This is based on the order in the Great Commission: make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching. The Lord’s supper comes under the “teaching” part.

  1. Ministry

As noted above, ministry is a responsibility, but it’s also a privilege. Knowing that the other members of the church have obligated themselves to minister to one another is a very comforting and strengthening thought. There are times when we need to be ministered to, and members should be able to count on other members to do so. Knowing that one has a definite place of ministry is also helpful. Ministering among a group of people who have committed themselves to each other is a real joy.

  1. Fellowship

Like ministry, fellowship is both a responsibility and a privilege. The members of a church have committed themselves to each other, and thus have a unique bond of fellowship. Non-member have no such privilege.

Conclusion:

  • There are several reasons why believers should be members of a church. The Bible demands it, there is no accountability without it, and orderliness is impossible without it.

  • There are several requirements for membership. One must have a valid testimony of salvation, must have been baptized, and must walk in an orderly manner.

  • The responsibilities of membership include participation, financial support, ministry and fellowship.

  • The privileges of membership include participation in the Lord’s Supper, ministry, and fellowship.

Discussion:

1. Can you think of any scenarios in which church membership is not required for the believer? Perhaps when a saved person moves to a place where there is no Christian church, or where all the churches are bad. Then he should start a church.

2. Should a church ever baptize someone who does not intend to join the church? No, not normally. Certain circumstances may allow it, but not normally.

3. Should we have a negative, arrogant attitude toward those who attend but refuse membership? No. If we are charitable, we’ll see them as disorderly brethren. If we are a little more dogmatic, well see them as unbelievers. Jay Adams: “People who are not members of a church should be treated as unbelievers, because they are treating themselves as unbelievers” (LITFH, 18). Believers unite with churches; unbelievers don’t.

  1. What problems do churches that don’t have membership face? 1. It’s unbiblical; 2. They have no basis for discipline; 3. There is no basis for control or limitation; 4. Little or no commitment from attenders, especially when times are tough—people will be prone to cut and run easily.

  2. To whom in the local church is the believer accountable? (See Matthew 18:15-20 & Hebrews 13:17.) To one another and to the church leadership

  3. How does church membership make accountability possible? If one is not a member of the church, no church discipline can take place. You can’t throw someone out of an organization he is not a part of. The church has no influence over those not in its membership.

A Sample Church Covenant

LIBERTY BAPTIST CHURCH

Antigo, Wisconsin

(typical of most conservative Baptist church covenants)

CHURCH COVENANT

Having been brought, as we believe, by divine grace to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior; and having been baptized, upon the confession of faith, into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we do now most joyfully and solemnly enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ. As His body, we will seek to do all things to the praise of the glory of His grace.

We engage, therefore, as the Holy Spirit shall enable us, to walk together in brotherly love; to exercise Christian care and watchfulness over one another; to participate in one another’s joys and sorrows; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation; to provoke one another unto love and good works; and to forsake not the assembling of ourselves together.

We further engage to boldly strive for the advancement of Liberty Baptist Church in grace, knowledge, and holiness; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; to sustain its worship, ordinances, and doctrines; and to contribute cheerfully and liberally to the financial support of the ministries of the church.

We further engage to walk wisely and watchfully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our behavior; maintaining family and private devotions; bringing up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; seeking the salvation of the lost; availing ourselves of the great privilege of prayer for one another and for all men.