This book offers a huge range of activities, arranged according to group activities. It provides a wide range of activities for many different kinds of groups. The first section, Ideas for Integrated Bible Studies, gives you four group studies on each of the themes or topics.
How to use this book
Ideas for integrated Bibles studies The Great Experiment
Finding New Life
Living New Life
Great Chapters – Old Testament
Great Chapters – New Testament
Ideas for Bible studies and prayers Bible passages
Bible study methods
Bible reading and relationship building
Bible readings and prayers
Ideas for church activities Program emphases: Devotional, Educational, Creative, Serving, Social, Sporting
Witness and Sharing Weekend
Gifts Check List
Ideas for all ages together Activities involving young children and others
Activities involving older children and others
Family and church family questionnaires
Useful teaching activities
ABC of resource ideas
Simulation activities. Simulation Game: Build my Church
Ideas for building relationships Deep – ideas and attitudes
Deeper – ideals and values
Deepest – ideologies and commitments
What is your main love language?
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When we look at the state of Christianity in the world today, we see a decidedly mixed picture. In many parts of the world, there is incredibly good news: God is authoring a season of multiplication instead of addition in many parts of the world. Across Africa and Asia, millions of people in historically unengaged people groups are now in rapidly growing Disciple Making Movements. In 2000 there were 6 such movements, today there are now 1,035! Almost all of the Pygmy peoples of Africa are seeing dramatic transformation by the Gospel of the Kingdom in the last 12 years. Hundreds of large people groups that had been Muslim for many centuries, are now seeing ordinary people making disciples that transform whole communities.
Across Africa and Asia many thousands of former Muslim clerics have left Islam to become fearless disciples of Christ. Not surprisingly, Christianity’s growth in Africa and Asia is explosive. On average, using data from The Status of Global Christianity, between 2000 to 2020, (7,300 days): Africa had 37,825 new Christ Followers every day over the last 20 years. Latin America had 16,988. Asia had 13,443. North America had 1,999. Oceania had 473 and Europe had 8. Much of the great momentum is coming from Disciple Making Movements. Christian history has seen rapid movements happen when many thousands, or millions of people in a region became Christ Followers.
We are living in a season of the greatest church growth since the 1st century! But half of the world is missing the move of God. How is it possible that the Global South Church is seeing Christian history being made while the Global North church is struggling for answers? God alone provides the increase, but why there and not here? What is it that the churches of the Global South are doing that makes so much difference? Two researchers and Disciple-Making practitioners have spent five years identifying several biblical values that Jesus modelled or mandated in his disciples, and which are embraced in the Global South but not in the Global North church. The Kingdom Unleashed was the result of that research.
1. Abundant, and Bold Prayer
In Africa, it is not unusual for churches to commit 50-100 days per year to fasting and prayer. In American churches, seasons of fasting and prayer are not the norm, and if there are prayer meetings, there may be few participants. Some studies suggest that we do not spend much time in private prayer either. It is easy for us to rely on our many resources rather than on God. As a result we lose the privilege of depending on God every day. In the Global South, people often have no choice but to rely on God to meet their needs, lacking resources to do otherwise. Their awareness of their need drives them to pray not just for their physical needs but for guidance, direction, spiritual power and breakthroughs, healings, deliverances, and identifying people to disciple.
2. Discipling to Conversion
American Evangelicals tend to think about Christianity in terms of conversion, forgiveness of sins and Eternal Life. In the Global South, they focus far less on conversion than on disciple-making. When Jesus called the Twelve, he discipled them for nearly three years before he asked them for a statement of faith, “Who do you say I am?” In other words, he discipled them to conversion rather than converting them and then discipling them. That is the model used in the Global South.
3. Obedience-Based Discipleship
Even the idea of what it means to be a disciple is different. For us, discipleship is knowledge-based. But in the Great Commission, Jesus tells us to make disciples (not converts) and teach them to obey everything he commanded. Biblical discipleship is thus obedience-based, not knowledge-based. Our sins are forgiven by faith alone, but throughout the New Testament we are told to live out our faith by obeying Jesus’ commands to love God and neighbour. So from day one in Discovery Bible Groups, people are encouraged to put into practice what they are learning. This approach results in personal transformation as well as community transformation. As people sink into Scripture, they learn that Jesus is Lord of all, and there is no area of life that is not rightfully his.
4. Empowering Ordinary People for Ministry
This changes fundamentally the way the Global South conceives of ministry. In the US, “going into the ministry” means becoming a pastor or missionary. Pastors are expected to preach, pray, visit the sick, counsel people, disciple church members, evangelize, provide direction for the church, handle or oversee administration, etc. In other words, they are responsible for just about everything the church does. But is all this really the job of pastors? Ephesians 4 tells us that pastors are to equip believers to do ministry, in other words, pastors are to be coaches and teachers, but the actual work of ministry is to be carried out by the people in the congregation, something we see in the churches in the Global South. We talk about every member ministry; they do it.
5. Make Replicating Disciples, not Converts
Members of Discovery Groups are also encouraged to tell others about what they are learning. So, even before they come to faith, they are discipled into sharing what they are learning about God. As a result, when they do come to faith, it is the most natural thing in the world to them to share it with others, to start new Discover Groups, and even to found simple churches. People like carpenters, sports coaches, taxi drivers, school teachers, custodians, farmers, and even politicians are making disciples and planting churches. In some parts of Africa, we can identify movements with more than thirty generations of churches planting churches. That is how the Gospel goes viral in these countries, leading to full-blown Disciple Making Movements (DMM).
6. Never Ending Leadership Training for All
Lay ministry is central in the Global South to finding pastors. In many western churches, to become a pastor requires years of education, a degree from a Bible college and often a Master of Divinity degree. Where Christianity is spreading rapidly, evidence of effective ministry precedes the call to be a pastor. You have to have a track record of making disciples and planting churches before you can become a pastor. Where Christianity is growing, they do things very differently from how we do them, pointing to a totally different ministry paradigm drawn from Jesus’ teaching and example. And that paradigm is based on a very different thinking about the Kingdom, the Gospel, the Church, and the ways the invisible world of the Spirit interacts with the physical world.
What would happen to the church in the west if it revised its ministry paradigms to align with what Jesus himself taught and did? What would happen if we adopted different practices like those of the churches of the Global South? It’s starting to happen: A campus minister at a large state school is reading the Word one hour a day, interceding one hour a day and listening for God’s response one hour a day 5-6 days a week. God has placed a burden on his heart for reaching guys in fraternities and God has been opening doors for him to begin training “insiders” to start Discovery Groups with their fraternity brothers who are lost. A woman in a New England church prayer walked every street in her town, over 700 miles, praying for a Kingdom movement where she lives.
Many Global South ministries are mobilizing thousands of intercessors to pray daily for the Global North churches to be restored to vitality. Some are sending workers to help Global North churches. A Discovery Bible Study in Alabama went viral and impacted multiple countries and a huge number of people. God is no respecter of persons and is the same in the west as He is in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Maybe if we don’t let our theological systems, traditions, and habits stop us from putting into practice the things Jesus taught about making disciples, we might see movements here that would make the great revivals of American history look insignificant by comparison. For more information: www.finalcommand.com and www.kingdomunleashed.org
100 Bible Quotes gives you the most popular and well known Bible verses grouped in themes for easy memorization. Additional sections add other Bible passages. These quotations are from the world’s most famous book, now translated into 700 languages and additional New Testament translations into another 1500 languages.
Part 1: 100 Bible Quotes 1 God’s Love, God’s Greatness 2 God’s Presence, God’s Help 3 God’s Provision, God’s Guidance 4 God’s Kingdom, Faith 5 Jesus’ Authority, Jesus’ Help 6 With Jesus, In Jesus 7 Holy Spirit, Thoughts 8 Prayer, Promises 9 Love, Light 10 Joy, Peace 11 Strength, Wholeness 12 Choose, Salvation, Word of God
Part 2: Great Passages God’s Glory
Jesus Ten Commandments Declarations
Prayers Benedictions Love Psalms A – Z Verses Index Appendix 1: New Christian’s Guide Appendix 2: Books
From the Introduction
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
(Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:24-25)
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16 NRSV)
These four verses about God’s Word leapt into my mind as I started writing this book. Then I checked with Google and Bible Gateway (www.biblegateway.com) for the references and to compare translations. If you type one verse into Bible Gateway you can find a link to 50 different translations of that verse.
This book uses the New King James Version the most because it is closest in today’s English to the majestic Authorized Version (AV) and is easy to memorize. The AV uses italics for English words added into the text to make sense in English. I sometimes use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) because it also follows the historic Authorized Version of 1611 but uses more current inclusive English, as in 2 Timothy 3:16 above. Sometimes I also use the popular New International Version (NIV).
The 100 passages or verses are easy to memorize, such as one or two verses each week for a year. Of course, it’s very easy to learn more than one or two a week, and you may already know many of these verses from memory. They are especially useful for new Christians, and for God’s Spirit to remind you when needed.
I have arranged these Bible verses or passages into themes of about four verses each to easily find similar verses or passages on that theme. You can also use it to memorize the verses in each theme in a month, or eight in a month, or more quickly.
The 100 Bible quotes are in large print for easy memorizing. It’s a good idea to learn the reference with the verse because you can then locate them easily in your Bible, compare translations, and refer to them when talking with someone such as a new Christian or someone interested in Christianity.
You can reproduce this book, or its verses, in any way you choose. God’s Word is not bound and we need to learn it, apply it to life, and share it widely. God’s Spirit will often remind you of verses you have learned, especially when you need them.
This book is freely available in PDF and Word versions in colour here and is also available in print and as an eBook. You can reproduce the PDF and Word versions in your social media or print your own copies.
Some of the themes
1 God’s Love John 3:16-17 God so loved the world
Romans 5:8 God has shown his love
Romans 8:38-39 who can separate us
1 John 4:9-10 God’s love revealed
God’s Greatness Psalm 86:10 you are great
Psalm 145:3 great is the Lord
Isaiah 55:8-9 heavens higher
Luke 1:37 nothing impossible
2 God’s Presence Exodus 33:14 my presence
Psalm 127:1 unless the Lord builds
Lamentations 3:22-23 new every morning
Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave
God’s Help Genesis 15:1 your shield
Isaiah 41:10 I am with you
Isaiah 41:13 I will help you
Philippians 4:6 not anxious
3 God’s Provision Matthew 6:33 seek first God’s kingdom
Psalm 37:4 delight yourself in the Lord
Romans 8:28 all things work together
Philippians 4:19 my God shall supply all
God’s Guidance Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you
Proverbs 3:5-6 he will direct your path
Romans 12:1-2 living sacrifice
Jeremiah 29:11-13 the plans I have
A – Z Bible Verses
A – Z Verses
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15 Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you – Matthew 7:7
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. – Acts 16:31 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you. – Psalm 55:22 Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. – Ephesians 6:1
Depart from evil and do good. – Psalm 34:14 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6
Encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Every good and perfect gift is from above – James 1:17
Fear not for I am with you. – Isaiah 43:5 For it is by grace you have been saved – Ephesians 2:8
God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble – Psalm 46:1 God is love – 1 John 4:8
Honour your father and your mother. – Exodus 20:12 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken – Psalm 62:6
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made – Psalm 139:14
I am the way, the truth, and the life – John 14:6
Jesus Christ is Lord – Philippians 2:11
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. – Hebrews 13:8
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies – Psalm 34:13 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture – Psalm 100:3
Look unto me and be saved. – Isaiah 45:22 Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people – Psalm 56:7; Matthew 21:13
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord – Psalm 98:4
Nothing is impossible with God. – Luke 1:37 Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling – Jude 24
O God you are my God earnestly will I seek you. – Psalm 63:1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good. – Psalm 118:1
Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God. – Psalm 147:1
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. – John 14:27
Quietly, wait for the salvation of the Lord. – Lamentations 3:26 Quench not the spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5:19
Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. – Exodus 20:8
Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice. – Philippians 4:4
Seek the Lord while he may be found. – Isaiah 55:6
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
Trust in the Lord with all your heart – Proverbs 3:5
Under his wings you will find refuge – Psalm 91:4b
Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it. – Proverbs 16:22 (NASB)
Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. – John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say to you, whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you. – John 16:23
When I am afraid I will trust in you. – Psalm 56:3
We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19
eXalt the Lord our God – Psalm 99:5
eXamine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. – 2 Corinthians 13:5
You are the light of the world. – Matthew 5:14 You bought us with a price.- I Corinthians 6:20
Zion heard and was glad. – Psalm 97:8 Zeal for your house will consume me. – John 2:17
Millions of people disagree with what Israel Folau (Izzy) said or the way he said it, just as millions of people disagree with what the Bible says about a lot of things.
But the crucial issue here is not a Christian footballer, nor even the Bible. After all, Christianity has been violently opposed for 2,000 years since that crucifixion on Calvary.
The crucial issue is losing “freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of belief and freedom of religion” in this free land of the “fair go mate”.
Why religious freedom is a big issue in Australia:
Bernard Gaynor has a background in military intelligence with three tours of duty in Iraq with the Australian Army. Married with eight children, Bernard’s courageous advocacy has cost him more than $400,000 in legal fees. In the process of defending himself he has lost two homes and now lives in rental accommodation.
Since 2013 Bernard Gaynor has faced 50 separate allegations of wrongdoing. Not a single allegation against him has succeeded. He has also defended himself in military inquiries and state tribunals, before magistrates and even in the High Court in Canberra.
A Tasmanian bishop was sued for publishing his church’s and the Bible views on marriage. Some Ministers of Religion have been sued for preaching the biblical teaching on marriage.
A Victorian teacher launched legal action against a Christian college claiming she was discriminated against over her political and religious beliefs in support of same-sex marriage, setting up a test case over faith-based protections for religious schools.
On April 10, Israel Folau posted on his Instagram account the following message: “Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You. Repent! Only Jesus Saves.” Next to this big, bold statement was the message: “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
This eye-catching text was from the Bible, a loose paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
If someone else had posted this it would almost certainly have slipped under the radar. But Folau was being watched. Partly this is because of his brilliance as a footballer. He holds the record for the most tries scored in Super Rugby. In 2007 he won rugby league’s Dally M Rookie of the Year award for having scored the most tries in his debut year. In that same year he was the all-time youngest international player (he was 18 at the time). …
But it looks as though Folau was also being watched for an opportunity to punish him for being a Christian; indeed, for being a blunt defender of the classic, conservative Christian faith.
The attack on Folau provoked an unexpected reaction: many Aussies were unhappy. They flooded open-line radio with calls in support of the right of Folau to hold and express his faith. This support was not limited to the 52.1 percent of Australians who called themselves Christian in the 2016 census. A bucket load of callers took the line of “I don’t support what he said or the way he said it, but, hey the bloke’s obviously sincere so why is he being bashed up like this?”
Whether articulated or not, the underlying feeling of much of this response was: Australia is a free country. There was a distinct unease about the possibility of losing at least some degree of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of belief and freedom of religion in this wide, brown land. …
This is no storm in a tea cup: this is central to Australia’s character as a nation and raises three questions: ● Why should there be penalties for defending classical Christianity? ● Why do the rights of one group trump all other rights? ● What is the actual content of the view he is defending? …
But as Folau’s short post indicates, there is more to the story. Here’s the completion of those words from the Bible quoted above: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
There is the offer of God’s love and forgiveness and restoration: switching at life’s end from the bad option (separation, isolation, “hell”) to the good option (connection, community, “heaven”) as a free gift. From the point of view of classical Christianity, Folau saw people in danger and shouted out a warning. In other words, the intention of his message was the exact opposite to how it has been portrayed. And for that Folau is being punished.
In a landmark judgment, the UK Court of Appeal has upheld the rights of British Christians to freely express their faith by handing victory to former student social worker Felix Ngole. Overturning a High Court decision to uphold Felix’s expulsion from Sheffield University, the crucial outcome represents a major development of the law. It is now clear that Christians have the legal right to express biblical views on social media and elsewhere in public without fear for their professional careers. This is the first Court of Appeal judgment regarding freedom of expression of biblical views which sets limits on the rights of professional regulators to restrict free speech on social media.
The ruling is likely to be relied upon in hundreds of future cases. Felix was expelled in 2016 from his social work course at the University of Sheffield after quoting Bible verses on Facebook that were deemed critical of homosexuality. In 2015, he had entered into a discussion on Facebook over the imprisonment of Kim Davies, the Kentucky marriage registrar jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples. During an online political debate, many views were exchanged on the Christian faith. A devout Christian, Felix quoted Bible verses affirming the traditional Christian opposition to same-sex marriage and of the sinful nature of homosexual activity.
Some months later, Felix was reported to the University of Sheffield by a fellow student and was subsequently disciplined in a Fitness to Practise hearing. He was informed that he had brought the social work profession into disrepute and was then expelled from the course, losing the career he had worked so hard for. In the court hearings, the university argued that Felix had ‘lacked insight’ into the effect of his posts on social media. During his Fitness to Practise hearing, the University had told him that the expression of his Christian views was unacceptable and he was effectively told either to renounce his faith or stay silent on pain of losing his career.
In the High Court hearing, the University of Sheffield implied that Felix was not allowed to express his Christian viewpoint on same-sex marriage or homosexuality on any public forum, including in a church. The Court of Appeal held that it was the university that was ‘lacking insight’ in not understanding a Christian viewpoint. In addition, the Court of Appeal praised Christian Concern co-founder Pastor Ade Omooba MBE for urging that the university seek caution and compromise. The Court of Appeal condemned the position of the university whereby people would live in fear if private expressions of views were overheard and could be reported anonymously.
The court ruled that: “The expression of views on theological grounds does not necessarily connote that that person will discriminate on such grounds.” It was further recognised that Felix had never been shown to act in a discriminatory fashion. The outcome of this case will have significant implications for freedom of speech. Comments made by people on social media, often many years ago, have recently been arbitrarily used to silence viewpoints that people dislike or disagree with. Commenting on his win, Felix said: “‘My personal loss is gain for future Christians’. This is great news, not only for me and my family, but for everyone who cares about freedom of speech.
Felix continued ”I have suffered tremendously as a result of how I was treated by the University and I feel that 4 years of my life have been taken from me. Despite all this, I feel full of joy that what I have lost will be so much gain to Christians in the future as a result of this important ruling for freedom.” Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Felix, said: “This is a watershed case for Christians and a resounding victory for freedom of speech. We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has seen the importance of this case and made a ruling that accords with common sense.”
Williams continued “It is shocking that the university sought to censor expression of the Bible in this way, and we hope this sends out a message of freedom across all universities and professions that Christians and others should be allowed to express their views without fear of censorship or discipline. “Christians now know that it is their legal right to express biblical views on social media or elsewhere without fear for their professional careers. This is a major development of the law and must be upheld and respected in all Christian freedom cases.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
President Kennedy’s speechwriters attributed this quote to Edmund Burke.
Keyes says that the quote has not been successfully traced:
. . . which Kennedy attributed to Edmund Burke and which recently was judged the most popular quotation of modern times (in a poll conducted by editors of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations). Even though it is clear by now that Burke is unlikely to have made this observation, no one has ever been able to determine who did.
You can support Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’ Religious Freedom Petition to go to the Senate. Many Christian lawyers are concerned that the current anti-discrimination bill is toothless.
This link gives you 7 tools to help you:
1. The Issues with Religious Freedom
2. Religious Freedom contents to raise with your MP
3. Sample Letter to your MP
4. How to contact Senators and Members of Federal Parliament
5. Petition by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells
6. Flyer introducing the Senate Petition
7. Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells Speech on Religious Freedom
New Christian’s Guide gives you a basic introduction to living the Christian life through faith in Jesus Christ your Saviour and Lord.
New Christian’s Guide is an introductory guide for new Christians starting out in their life in Christ. It covers basic essentials including Jesus’ instructions on loving God and loving others, with these topics:
Introduction: Welcome to God’s Family
Faith in God – God our Father
Gift of Faith
Follow Me – Jesus our Lord
Follow Jesus in obedience
Follow Jesus in his Word
Follow Jesus in prayer & worship
Follow Jesus in fellowship
Follow Jesus in service
Follow Jesus in mission
Filled with the Spirit – the Holy Spirit our Guide Born of the Spirit
Living in the Spirit
Led by the Spirit
Fruit & Gifts of the Spirit
2 Love Others Love one another Serve one another Encourage one another
Here is the beginning of this book.
Welcome to God’s eternal family. I’m writing this book as a personal letter to you, a new Christian who believes in Jesus. You have given your life to him and you want to follow him and live for him.
If you are already a growing Christian you may find some help in this Guide also. And if you have not yet chosen to be a Christian and follow Jesus, this may help you to decide.
Billions of people believe in Jesus, the Son of God, our Saviour, so you have joined a huge worldwide family of God. Probably somebody told you about Jesus, perhaps a preacher or a friend, or maybe you just want to read more about him.
So welcome to the family of God. We believe in God our Father, we believe in Jesus Christ his Son our Saviour and Lord, and we believe in God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and gives us new life, our Christian life. ‘Christian’ means Christ in you!
Our Christian life begins with faith. We trust in God. We believe in Jesus, God’s Son, as our Saviour and Lord or King. We have faith that God lives in us by his Spirit and that we live in God now and forever.
That’s good news. Really good news. The most famous verse in the Bible puts it this way:
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Now that you believe in Jesus and trust him with your life you have eternal life. That eternal life does not start when you die. It starts now and never ends. Jesus said:
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
You have done that. You have given your life to God and he has given you new life, his life in you. Because you believe in Jesus and trust him, God lives in you by his Spirit, and you live in God. You have given your life to him and he has given his life to you. So you know him, your God, and you know Jesus your Saviour, because God’s Spirit now lives in you and makes everything new:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
You are forgiven. When you believe in Jesus your Saviour you ask him to forgive you for all your sin, and he promises to do that: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
You are clean. That promise reminds us that God goes on cleansing us, not just once, but always, as we trust him and continue to acknowledge or confess our sin and failures. You can do that quickly, and at any time, such as thinking or saying, “Sorry.” Make it a habit. Keep short accounts with God!
You have new life, eternal life. That’s God’s promise. He gives his life to you and lives in you by his Spirit who is also the Spirit of Jesus. So Jesus lives in you by his Spirit and you now have new life: I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20).
So the old life has gone and a new life, eternal life, has begun in you. You are born again with new life, God’s life ion you.
You are in God’s family. You have a worldwide family of God’s people, your brothers and sisters. You will get to know some of them well in your local church or group. You will also find many brothers and sisters in other places worldwide. We all share God’s life together and we grow in the unity of his Spirit.
What about problems?
Does this new life mean we are now free from all our problems and difficulties? No, but we do have a new life as we encounter problems and difficulties. We have God’s help and guidance in new ways. God promises to guide and help us, and Jesus promised that his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, would help us.
You now have this amazing new life with God your Father and Jesus your Saviour and Lord living in you by his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who helps us. Jesus said:
If you love Me,keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, andHe will give you anotherHelper, that He may abide with you forever —the Spirit of truth,whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with youand will be in you.I will not leave you orphans;I will come to you (John 14:15-18).
You have God’s help, always. That never ends. So we face our problems and difficulties trusting in God to help and guide us.
How do we go about living this new life with God’s help?
We keep on trusting him. We keep on living for him, with his help and strength. He is our intimate Friend and Guide.
So the title of this little book is not mainly about principles but about a Person. The New Christian’s Guide is God in us, Jesus living his life in us by his Spirit, and guiding us.
That’s a life-long adventure! We can all learn to let God be our Guide more fully, and trust in Jesus to lead and help us by his Spirit now within us, teaching us, leading us, helping us, empowering us, and transforming us.
So, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
Easy to say – hard to do!
Yes, in some ways it is easier said than done. Living the Christian life is not always a piece of cake. It can be tough at times as we keep listening to Jesus and obeying him. But, as an old hymn says:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Living this new Christian life means that we trust and obey our Guide. He leads us by his Spirit within us. So now, as you read this, you could pause and thank him that he is with you, he is within you, and he promises to guide you.
If you find some resistance inside you, just confess it. We all resist God’s great love and holiness at times, so we need to just confess that, know that he forgives and cleanses us, and that he promises to help and strengthen us as we live for him.
The rest of this New Christian’s Guide is my attempt to help you follow your eternal Guide, your Father God, your Saviour Jesus, and your Guide and Helper the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said that the most important commandments of all are just two, so let’s explore that with our New Christian’s Guide:
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).
Our obedience springs from love and flows strong in God’s love. We love Him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Love is why we obey
Jesus says that we will obey his commandments because of our love for him. We obey from love, not just from duty. Our duty becomes our delight. We love him and love to live for him and please him.
We understand about obeying in love with people we really love such as our parents or husband or wife. We love to please them because we love them. It’s our delight, not just a duty. We love to please or obey them, and we are so happy when our love pleases them.
Jesus’ obedience was a natural part of his loving relationship with his Father, and he calls us into loving obedience also.
If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love (John 15:10).
Jesus lived in full fellowship and intimate loving relationship with his Father. Consequently, his obedience flowed naturally and supernaturally from that.
So this book explores how we can obey Jesus in love by loving God and loving others. Loving God and loving others are inter-related. John, the Apostle of love, reminds us:
Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also (1 John 4:20-21).
Believing in God and in his Son Jesus changes us and enables us to love God and to love one another.
Jesus reminds us that the greatest of all the commandments is to love God.
God’s love for us brings us into a loving relationship with him and with others. You could thank him for his love right now!
C S Lewis wrote, “On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’ He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not” (Mere Christianity, Book 3, Chapter 9, emphasis added).
Jesus pointed out that our God who loves us is One Being. Jesus and the Father are one in eternal union with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, I and the Father are one. … Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. … But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 10:30; 14:23, 26). We have one God revealed in three divine persons who love us: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
That is a divine mystery, but God reveals himself to us as we believe in him and trust him daily.
Here is a simple way to understand how God is always with us and within us.
We breathe all the time, usually without thinking about it. Now that you are thinking about it you may even breathe more deeply, or take in more breath!
The Bible has one word for breath, wind and spirit. So translators choose the most appropriate English word to translate it from Hebrew (ruah) or Greek (pnuema).
Our natural breathing is rather like breathing in the breath of God of the Spirit of God, by faith. Just as our physical breathing helps to cleanse our lungs and bodies so our spiritual breathing also cleanses us.
We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide continually without even thinking about it. Similarly, in our relationship with God we continually inhale God’s breath, his Spirit, and exhale impurities, by faith, by trusting God.
Another physical picture or parallel is how our heart continually pumps blood throughout our bodies without us thinking about it, cleansing our bodies. Similarly, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, goes on cleansing us from our sin, for if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
That verse gives us another picture or parallel. The sun always shines, even on cloudy days. So in daylight we live in the light without thinking about it. It’s natural. We can see. Similarly, as we live by faith in God we live in his light. God is light and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).
As a Christian, you are born again into a new life with God, who is light, so you live in his light. Living that way means that you are continually cleansed because of Jesus’ blood given for us all in his death on the cross. So now you have new life, the life of God’s Spirit living in you constantly.
All of that helps us to love and thank God for all he has done for us in creating us, redeeming us from sin, and living in us as we live in him by faith.
So this section on loving God looks at these three dimensions of loving God:
Faith in God our Father
Following Jesus our Lord
Filled with the Spirit our Guide
A prayer of faith you can pray:
Thank you my Father and God for loving me. Thank you Jesus my Saviour and Lord for dying for me. Thank you Holy Spirit of God for living in me and giving me new life, the life of Jesus in me. Forgive me for my sin and I choose you now. Thank you Lord my God for forgiving me and saving me. I give my life to you and I choose to live for you. Help me to live for you always. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Tertullian (160‑220) lived during severe persecution of Christians, noting that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. He was a brilliant Christian scholar and lawyer theologian from North Africa. In commenting on baptism and the Spirit, he says:
“Not that in the waters [of baptism] we receive the Holy Spirit, but cleansed in water, and under the angel we are prepared for the Holy Spirit.”
Tertullian joined the Montanist movement early in the third century and challenged the worldliness of the church of his day. The Montanists flourished in Asia Minor from the second century into the fifth century. Montanus spoke in tongues at his baptism and began prophesying. His movement called people to holy living and they expected the Lord to return soon. They valued the gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy, although the movement became excessive and was rejected by the established church.
Augustine of Hippo (354‑430) wrote:
“When you were exorcised [that is to have evil cast out] you were so to speak, ground. When you were baptised you were, so to speak, watered. When you received the fire of the Holy Spirit you were, so to speak, baked.”
Augustine refers to making bread and uses this to describe the work of God in our lives:
ground ‑‑ to grind the wheat; watered ‑‑ to mix the dough; baked ‑‑ to bake the bread in an oven.
Augustine of Hippo was a great thinker, leader, and writer in the early church who embraced the Christian faith after a varied career through the first half of his life.
He witnessed, was often instrumental in, and recorded many miracles. He said, “For when I saw in our own time frequent signs of old, I desired that narratives might be written, judging that the people should not be ignorant of such things.”
Often healing miracles accompanied the celebration of the sacraments and were supported by a dedicated life of prayer within the Christian community. He wrote, “Today miracles still go on happening in our Lord’s name, through the sacraments he instituted and through the prayers and memorials of his saints.”
Augustine believed that miracles build up faith: “The world believes, not because it is convinced by human argument, but because it has been faced with the power of divine signs.”
The Spirit’s gifts and power given to the apostles were part of the experience of the church in Augustine’s day.
Cyril of Jerusalem lived about 315‑386. He was Bishop of Jerusalem from about 349.
He likened Christian initiation [baptism in water] to the experience of Christ in the river Jordan. “As the Holy Spirit in substance lighted on him, like resting upon like, so after you had come up from the pool of sacred waters, there was given to you an unction [anointing], the antitype [a pattern of the way things happen in the future] of that wherewith he was anointed and this is the Holy Spirit.”
In other words, Cyril of Jerusalem held that Jesus’ experience of water baptism followed by anointing by the Spirit was a Pattern that Christians were meant to follow. That is to say, people would become Christians, enter the water of baptism and then receive empowerment for service by the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Gregory the Great (540‑604) became Pope in 590. The times were wracked by war, famine and devastation. Nevertheless, it was a time of intense missionary activity accompanied by the overt manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit. Gregory was a prolific writer, and in his Dialogues and sermons we read of many accounts of prophecies, healings, and visions that people were currently experiencing.
In commenting on Augustine the missionary to Britain (died 604), he said, “By the shining miracles of his preachers, God has brought faith even to the extremities of the earth… The tongue of Britain, which before could only utter barbarous sounds, has lately learned to make the alleluia resound in praise of God”, and Augustine and his fellow missionaries “seemed to be imitating the powers of the apostles in the signs which they displayed.”
He believed that such phenomena should be integrated into the life of the church, and in the Dialogues he says, “Every act of our Redeemer, performed through his human nature, was meant to be a pattern for our actions.” After describing a healing, he said, “If anyone would ask you how this happened, tell him simply that the Lord Jesus Christ was here doing his work.”
Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was born in that typical Italian town of the thirteenth century. It had a hierarchy, at the bottom of which were peasants, believing in the power of miracles, relics and pilgrimages, but knowing little of the power of Christ in their lives, or even of the facts of the gospel story. Then came prosperous citizens, the higher clergy and the land‑owning gentry. Assisi had its wars, such as that which made such a deep impression on Francis, the war with the neighbouring city of Perugia .
Into this world came Francis, renouncing his family’s prosperity and proclaiming the excellence of a life of poverty, peace, love, and labour. He has been called the Mirror of Christ, God’s Jester, and the Little Poor Man of Assisi. He took Christ seriously, reminding his world that love is more than an abstract virtue about which to preach sermons and write poems; it is something that has to be hammered out in the painful realities of daily living.
He told how the power of Jesus’ Spirit changed him: “I remember the first victory of my new heart. All my life I’d panicked when I met lepers. Then one day on the road below Assisi, I did one of those surprising things that only the power of Jesus’ Spirit could explain. I reached out and touched a leper, a man the very sight of whom nauseated me. I felt my knees playing tricks on me, and I was afraid I would not make it to the leper. The smell of rotting flesh attacked all my senses – as if I were smelling with eyes and ears as well. Tears began to slide down my cheeks because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. Then, as I began to lose my composure, I grabbed the man’s hand and kissed it. In doing so, I received more than I gave. In finding that leper, I found Christ.”
Walter Hilton (1340-1396) was an English mystic whose spiritual writings were widely read in the fifteenth century in England. The most famous of them The Scale of Perfection describes the spiritual journey of the soul. The section on prayer advises the reader to be detached from all earthly things and use every effort to withdraw one’s mind from them so that the mind may be stripped free of them and rise continually to Jesus Christ. While Christ will remain a mystery in his divinity, his humility and humanity are ways of experiencing his goodness.
To pray well is to allow one’s heart to be freed from the burden of all worldly thoughts and, by the power of the Spirit, rise to a spiritual delight in the presence of Christ. “For prayer is nothing other than the ascent of the heart to God.”
In the section on loving others but hating their sin, he quotes Paul from Romans 5:5, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given us.” It is only by this givenness, this grace, that we can love others and hate sin, and without this “… all other actions do not make a man good or worthy of heaven.”
All Hilton’s writing depends on the basic thesis of the initiative for salvation and spiritual growth lying with God.
Thomas á Kempis (1381‑1471) lived and wrote against a background of education and experience in the schools of the Brethren of the Common Life, an association founded in the Netherlands in the fourteenth century to foster a higher level of Christian life and devotion. Thomas á Kempis, while widely sought after as a spiritual adviser, is probably best known for a book which tradition strongly suggests he wrote The Imitation of Christ. It is a series of meditations and prayers designed to draw the individual Christian into a deep love for Christ.
In one meditation, he exhorts the reader to give up or forsake oneself in order to find God. “Stand without choice, without following your own will, and without all possessions, and you will advance much in grace.” If you resign yourself wholly into God’s hands, and take nothing for yourself, you will gain great inward peace.
That is something which should happen all the time, every hour, in great things and in small. God urges: “In all things I would find you naked and poor, and bereft of your own will. … Stand purely and firmly in me, and you will be so pure in heart and in soul that darkness of conscience or slavery to sin will never have power over you.”
St Teresa of Avila (1515‑1582), The Spanish Carmelite nun and mystic, is remembered by the church for two major reasons. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and thus a woman of strong character, shrewdness and practical ability. She was also an influential writer on prayer and the first to point out the existence of states of prayer between meditation and ecstasy; she gave a description of the entire life of prayer.
Her combination of mystic experience with ceaseless activity as a reformer and organiser make her life the classical instance for those who contend that the highest contemplation is not incompatible with great practical achievements.
In her book of prayer Interior Castle, she describes a kind of prayer which she desires for all Christians, but which the Lord gives: a strange kind of prayer, the nature of which one cannot ascertain. What happens, she says, is that one’s faculties are in close union with God, but our Lord leaves both faculties and sense free to enjoy the happiness, without understanding what it is that they are enjoying and how they are enjoying it.
St Teresa describes the joy of the soul being so great that instead of rejoicing in God alone she would rather share that joy so that others may rejoice in praising God “to which end it directs its whole activity.”
“How can your tongues be better employed, when you are together, than in the praises of God, which we have so many reasons for rendering him?”
Martin Luther (1483‑1546), a Reformation pioneer, distinguished between the Spirit and the letter in Scripture, “for nobody understands these precepts unless it is given to him from above. … Therefore, they most sadly err who presume to interpret the Holy Scriptures and the law of God by taking hold of them by their own understanding and study.”
Luther argued that the Holy Spirit is hidden in the letter of Scripture, since the letter itself may proclaim only the Law, or the wrath of God. The Holy Spirit conveys the word of grace, the gospel. So the true reading of Scripture involves a continual process of bringing faith to birth, or constant renewal and re‑creation of spiritual awareness.
John Calvin (1509-1564) of Geneva was a prolific writer. Among his writings we find commentaries on most of the Bible. In commenting on Ephesians 3:14ff., he disagrees with those “who argue, that, if the grace of the Holy Spirit alone enlightens our minds, and forms our hearts of obedience, all teaching will be superfluous.”
“For we are enlightened and renewed by the Holy Spirit so that the teaching may be strong and effective, so that light may not be set before the blind, nor the truth sung to the deaf. Therefore the Lord alone acts upon us in such a way that he acts by his own instruments. It is therefore the duty of pastors diligently to teach, of the people earnestly to attend to teaching, and of both to flee to the Lord lest they weary themselves in unprofitable exertions.”
Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680), the seventeenth century Puritan leader, in a lecture on the letter to the Ephesians, explains how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of all men and women. He explains that the Holy Spirit works in three ways:
First of all, the Holy Spirit makes it possible for a person to turn to God. The Holy Spirit touches a person’s mind so that he or she is able to believe. This is called regeneration.
The second thing the Holy Spirit does is in water baptism when we are cleansed from our sin.
The third thing the Holy Spirit does is to fill us so that we are able to carry out the task of evangelism. This he calls being sealed in the Spirit.
Richard Baxter (1615‑1691) was an English clergyman of Reformed persuasion who made a deep impression on English Christendom. He left nearly two hundred writings, breathing a spirit of unaffected piety and love of moderation. Near the end of his life, writing his autobiography, he says:
“I am now, therefore, much more apprehensive [have more perception] than heretofore of the necessity of well grounding men in their religion, and especially of the witness of the indwelling Spirit; for I more sensibly perceive that the Spirit is the great witness of Christ and Christianity to the world. And though the folly of fanatics tempted me long to overlook the strength of this testimony of the Spirit, while they placed in it a certain internal assertion or enthusiastic inspiration, yet now I see that the Holy Ghost in another manner is the witness of Christ and his agent in the world. The Spirit in the prophets was his first witness; the Spirit by miracles was the second; and the Spirit by renovation, sanctification, illumination, and consolation, assimilating the soul of Christ and heaven is the continued witness to all true believers. And if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his (Romans 8:9).”
John Wesley (1703‑1791) found strong motivation for evangelism at a conversion experience at the age of 35 while hearing Martin Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans read at a meeting in Aldersgate Street, London. “About a quarter before nine while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” From then on he resolved “to Promote as far as I am able vital Practical religion and by the grace of God to beget, preserve, and increase the life of God in the souls of men.”
He told how he and others including his brother Charles and George Whitefield with about 60 people were touched by God at a love feast in Fetter Lane, London: “About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his majesty, we broke out with one voice, ‘We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord’”
In a Letter to a Roman Catholic, he wrote (among other faith statements), “I believe the infinite and eternal Spirit of God, equal to the Father and the Son, to be not only perfectly holy in himself, but the immediate cause of all holiness in us: enlightening our understandings, rectifying our wills and affections, renewing our natures, uniting our persons to Christ, assuring us in our actions, purifying and sanctifying our souls and bodies to a full and eternal enjoyment of God.”
Wesley understood the value of small groups designed to promote Christian growth through prayer, Bible study, and the sharing of lives, and he established these groups all over Britain.
David du Plessis (1905‑1987), acclaimed by Time magazine as one of the nine best known religious leaders in North America, was a humble man who dared to love others. A group of Catholic and Protestant editors included his name in a list of eleven religious giants who have challenged the assumptions and changed the thinking of the Christian community.
This gracious Pentecostal pioneer lectured at Princeton, Yale, Union, and leading Catholic seminaries in America and Europe as well as at the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches. He was an official observer at the Vatican Council and involved in the Catholic Pentecostal dialogue in Rome where Pope Paul VI greeted him with, ‘So you are Mr Pentecost?’
He earned that nickname through his untiring efforts to bring the Pentecostal message to the whole church. Known as the boy preacher at fifteen where he was involved in the despised Pentecostal movement in South Africa, David du Plessis lived to see that movement grow over 100 million Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians worldwide by 1980, to over 400 million by 2000, and over 600 million by 2008.
The forthright English Pentecostal evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth, gave a remarkable and heretical (for a Pentecostal) prophecy to young David in 1936. The Lord would pour the Spirit upon the established church, he said, and the ensuing revival would eclipse anything the Pentecostals had experienced. David would be mightily used by God to bring acceptance of the Pentecostal message to the established churches. “This same blessing will become acceptable to the churches and they will go on with this message and this experience beyond what the Pentecostals have achieved. You will live to see this work grow to such dimensions that the Pentecostal movement itself will be a light thing in comparison with what God will do through the old churches. There will be tremendous gatherings of people, unlike anything we’ve seen, and great leaders will change their attitude and accept not only the message but also the blessing.”
David du Plessis declared, “God has no grandsons”, emphasising that all God’s children needed a personal spiritual birth for life in the Spirit. He stressed that Jesus is both the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the baptiser in the Holy Spirit (John 1:29‑34).
At an ecumenical leaders’ conference, he was asked, “What is the difference between you and us? We quote the same Scriptures you do, and yet when you say those words they sound so different. We say the same things that you do, but there seems to be a deeper implication in what you say.”
Referring to 2 Corinthians 3:5‑6 (the letter kills but the Spirit gives life), he replied: “Comparisons are odious, and I do not wish to injure anyone’s feelings or hurt your pride. But the truth as I see it is this: You have the truth on ice, and I have it on fire. … My friends, if you will take the great truths of the gospel out of your theological freezers and get them on the fire of the Holy Spirit, your churches will yet turn the world upside down.”