New Life Course Study Two

Study Two

 

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN

 

N.B. Don’t forget to look up all the Scripture references in your Bible.

 We begin this study by summarizing what we have seen so far.

SUMMARY OF THE GOOD NEWS

 God is willing, and indeed desires, to take us, His rightful subjects, back under His rule, and to save us from sin, death and the control of the devil. He calls us to come to Him. But because of our rebellion and sin we are both unable and unwilling to respond. This is where God in His love, mercy and sovereign power steps in. By His Holy Spirit, He convicts us of our sin, plants new life in us, and enables us to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ died in our place on the cross, bearing our sin and enduring the wrath of God. He rose from the dead, ascended to Heaven, poured out His Holy Spirit upon the Church, and now prays for us.

Thus we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ. Among the many blessings that salvation brings are justification, that is, being made right with God, regeneration, in which we are born again and given a new nature, and eternal life, with the assurance of eternal bliss with God in Heaven. Some of these terms will need definition.

II.          SOME DEFINITIONS

      A.   Grace:              God’s free unmerited favour; God’s undeserved benevolence, mercy and      kindness  shown to sinful man.

B.   Repentance:      A complete change of mind and heart in turning away from sin to God.

Repentance includes the following elements:

1.    Sorrow for sin (Psa. 51:17; II Cor. 7: 10-1 1).

2.    Confession of sin to God (Prov. 28:13; I John 1:9).

3.    Forsaking sin (Prov. 28:13; Isa. 55:7; Acts 2:38).

4.    Turning to God and determining by His grace to lead a new life (Matt. 3:8; 9:13; Acts 3:19).

5.    A work of God the Holy Spirit, for repentance is a gift of God, but we have to act upon it (Acts 11:18; cf. II Tim. 2:25).

C. Faith:      Not merely belief about God, nor even belief in Jesus Christ, but a real trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour, a resting and relying on Him.

Discuss the difference between belief and trust.

D.   Justification:

Being made right with God. Being counted as righteous in God’s sight.

III.         THE MEANING OF THE NAME CHRISTIAN

 How would you define ‘Christian’?

The word ‘believer’ occurs twice in the New Testament. The word ‘Christian’ is found only three times.

Acts 26:28; I Peter 4:16; Acts 11:26 – write this verse out.

This last reference is important. It reminds us that the only person who has a right to be called a Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ. How would you define ‘disciple’?

N.B. The word ‘disciple’ occurs 264 times in the New Testament.  A few of those occurrences refer to the disciples of John or of the Pharisees, but the vast majority refer to followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A disciple:     1. is an adherent

2. is a learner, not yet perfect

3. is a disciplined follower

4. has someone as his pattern not something.

Write out Luke 6:40.

Discipleship was a familiar method of education and training in the ancient world. It was aimed not merely at knowledge, but at a different way of life. Jesus commanded His disciples to make other disciples and to teach them to observe (i.e. live out), not merely to know, all that he had com­manded. Matt. 28:18-20.

IV.        THE MARKS OF GRACE

 What are some of the signs that a person is a real Christian?

In Acts 2:38-42 we see several. Can you find them?

A.   Repentance.

B.   Hunger for teaching and understanding of the Word of God. (Verse 42, cf. Luke. 24:45).

 C.   Desire to pray. (Cf. Eph. 2:18; Gal. 4:6).

D.   Desire to be with God’s people (cf. I John 3:14).

E.   A new heart. See verses 46 and 47.

They had gladness and singleness of heart (i.e. loyalty to their new faith).

Cf. II Cor. 5:17.

V.         JOINING A LOCAL CHURCH

 According to Acts 2:38-41, the steps in becoming a Christian are:

A.   Repent

B.   Believe – this is implied in verse 41 and is taught throughout the New Testament. This means really believe in or trust.

C. Be baptized.

D. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  When we truly repent, believe and are baptized, God gives us His Holy Spirit.

E. Join the Church.

To be a Christian means that we are part of that great company of the redeemed. The ‘redeemed’ are those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ. (I Pet. 1:18,19; Rev. 7:9).  But we need to identify ourselves with the local Body of Christ. (I Cor. 12:27; Heb. 10:25; Acts 2:41, 47).

Every Christian has a part to play in the Body of Christ which is another name for the Church. (I Cor. 12:27, 14-27; I Pet. 4: 10,11; Rom. 12:4-8).

Identifying ourselves with the local Church is one way of showing that we are one with every other Christian in the local Church. (Eph. 4:3-16).  For the first two or three centuries of the Christian era churches met in homes.  This is still the only way and indeed the best way for churches to meet in some parts of the world.  The church is not a building, but the people.  That is why the Greek word for church (ekklesia) is often translated ‘assembly’ or ‘congregation’.

The New Testament knows nothing of an isolated Christian. We were made to function in the local Body of Christ. If we are not in such a fellowship, not only are we prevented from growing as we should, but we are exposed to a great many unnecessary dangers and temptations. Moreover, we are not able to function as we should, for no Christian is complete in and of himself. We need each other.

NOTE:  Sadly, some so-called churches have deviated from the truth, as some did in the early days of the Church.  (See Galatians 1:6-9; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 John verse 7; Jude verses 3 and 4).  Therefore be careful to associate only with a congregation that is true to the Word of God, where Christ is exalted, where there is reverence and sincere worship.

VI.        CHRIST’S LORDSHIP OVER US

 What do the following verses say about:

A.   The Lord and our bodies?

Rom. 6:13; 12:1; I Cor. 6:19, 20.

B.   Our mind and will?

2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:4-8; Matt. 12:50; 26:39.

VII.       HOW WE MAY BE SURE WE ARE SAVED

 There are two ways we may be sure that we are ‘born again’.

A.   The Testimony of Scripture

We have already seen that God’s Word is inspired. The word translated ‘inspired’ means literally ‘God-breathed’. It is God’s revelation and as such it is trustworthy, inerrant and authoritative. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He answered from Scripture (see Matt. 4:4, 7,10). In fact, when the Scribes and Pharisees questioned Him, He frequently quoted Scripture in answer.

How many things about God’s Word can you find from Psalm 19:7-11?

Another Psalm about the Word of God is 119. Read it sometime to see how much the Psalmist loved the Law of the Lord.

Because the Bible is inspired and trustworthy, you may rely upon it. It is God’s Word and He cannot lie. Now the Bible tells us that if certain conditions are fulfilled, then certain results follow. Write down the conditions and the results in the following Scriptures:

1.   John 3:16

Conditions:

Results:

2.   John 3:36

Conditions:

Results:

3.   John 5:24

Conditions:

Results:

4.   Romans 10:9,10

Conditions:

Results:

There are many other Scriptures that say the same things. If you have fulfilled the conditions, you may be sure of the results. So when you are questioned about your faith, you should be able, like Jesus, to reply by quoting Scripture. The Bible is the chief source of assurance of salvation.

B.   The Evidence of a Changed Life

On a previous page we noted the ‘marks of grace’ or the indications that God has worked in our lives. This is really the kind of thing James has in mind in Jas. 2:14-26. Read and discuss it.   A true Christian does not continue to live a sinful life.  Read the First Epistle of John to see this.

EXERCISE

Write out the answers to the following:

1.   Define Grace, Repentance, Faith, Justification.

2.   What are the signs of being a true Christian?

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