Christian social networking for Bible Study and Spiritual Growth.
Being in love changes everything. For instance, a young lady was reading a large book for her university's English literature course. She found the whole thing very boring and could barely stay focused when reading it. But then she met a striking young professor on campus, and they quickly fell in love. Soon after, she realized her beloved was the author of the book she had struggled with. That night she stayed up and devoured the entire book exclaiming, "This is the best book I have ever read!" What changed her perspective? Love did. Likewise, many today find Scripture boring, oppressive, and unappealing. But that all changes when you fall in love with the author. See how in this heart-warming Study Guide!
1. Who is the author of Scripture?
"The prophets have enquired and searched diligently, ... Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." 1 Peter 1:10, 11.
Answer: The God of the Bible (even the Old Testament) is virtually always Jesus Christ. Jesus created the world (John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 1:13-17), wrote the Ten Commandments (Nehemiah 9:6, 13), was the God of the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), and guided the writings of the prophets (1 Peter 1:10, 11). So, Jesus Christ is the author of Scripture.
2. What is Jesus' attitude toward the people of earth?
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Answer: Jesus loves us all with an indescribable, unfailing love that passes understanding.
3. Why should we love Jesus?
"We love him, because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8.
Answer: We should love Him because He loved us enough to die for us--while we were yet His enemies.
4. In what respects are a successful marriage and the Christian life similar?
"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." 1 John 3:22.
Answer: In a good marriage certain things are imperative, such as faithfulness to one's spouse. Other things may not seem major, but if they please a spouse they are necessary. If they displease, they should be discontinued. So it is with the Christian life. The commands of Jesus are imperative. But in Scripture Jesus has also outlined for us principles of conduct that please Him. As in a good marriage, a Christian finds it sheer joy to do the things that make Jesus, the One he loves, happy. He also avoids things that displease Him.
5. What does Jesus say are the results of doing the things that please Him?
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; ... These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:10, 11.
Answer: The devil claims that to follow Christian principles is drab, dull, demeaning, and legalistic. But Jesus says it brings fullness of joy (John 15:10, 11) and a more abundant life (John 10:10). Believing the devil's lies brings heartache and deprives people of life that is "really living."
6. Why does Jesus give us specific principles for Christian living?
Answer: Because they:
7. According to Jesus, how should Christians relate to the evil of the world and to worldliness?
Answer: His commands and counsel are clear and specific:
8. What urgent warning does God give us regarding the world?
Answer: Jesus warns Christians, "Be not conformed to this world." Romans 12:2. Phillips translation puts it: "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould."* The devil is not neutral. He presses every Christian constantly. Through Jesus (Philippians 4:13), I must firmly resist the devil's suggestions, and he will flee from me (James 4:7). The minute I permit the "squeezing" of any other factor to influence my conduct, I imperceptibly begin slipping into apostasy. Christian behavior is not to be decided by the feelings and conduct of the majority, but by Jesus' words from Scripture.
9. Why do we need to guard our thoughts?
"As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7.
Answer: We must guard our thoughts, because thoughts dictate behavior. God wants to help us bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5. But Satan desperately wants to bring "the world" into our thoughts. He can do this only through our five senses--especially sight and hearing. He presses his sights and sounds upon us all and, unless we consistently refuse to look at or listen to what he offers, he will direct us into the broad way that leads to destruction. The Bible is clear. We do become like the things we repeatedly see and hear (2 Corinthians 3:18).
10. What are some principles for Christian living?
"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8.
Answer: Christians must separate themselves from all things that are not true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. They will avoid:
11. What clear-cut list does Jesus give us that we could use as a guide for watching television?
"Anyone can see the kind of behaviour that belongs to the lower nature: fornication, impurity, and indecency; idolatry and sorcery; quarrels, a contentious temper, envy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, party intrigues, and jealousies; drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who behave in such ways will never inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21, NEB.*
Answer: Scripture is too clear to misunderstand. If a family should ban all TV programs that exhibit or condone any of the above sins, there would be very little to watch. If Jesus came to visit you, what TV shows would you feel comfortable asking Him to view with you? All other shows are probably unfit for Christian viewing.
12. In this day of determined, independent thinking, many feel totally capable of making spiritual decisions without input from anyone, including Jesus. What does Jesus say about such people?
Answer: Listen to Jesus' unequivocal statements: "Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes." Deuteronomy 12:8. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 16:25. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise." Proverbs 12:15. "He that trusteth in his own heart [mind] is a fool." Proverbs 28:26.
13. What solemn warnings does Jesus give us about the example and influence of our lives?
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6. Let "no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." Romans 14:13. "None of us liveth to himself." Romans 14:7.
Answer: We all expect leaders, people of influence, famed athletes, and other widely known figures to set a good example and use their influence wisely--to pay a so-called "debt to society". But in today's world, we are often disillusioned at the repugnant and irresponsible actions of prominent individuals. Jesus clearly states in Romans 1:14 that Christians, who represent Him and His kingdom, do indeed owe something to others. And He solemnly warns that Christians who disregard their influence and example, and thereby lead people astray, will not enter His kingdom.
14. What are Jesus' principles of conduct regarding clothing and jewelry?
15. How do conduct and obedience relate to salvation?
Answer: Obedience and Christian conduct are the proof, or evidence, that I have been saved by Jesus Christ (James 2:20-26). The fact of the matter is that unless one's lifestyle changes after conversion, the conversion most likely was not genuine. A converted person will find his greatest joy in discovering Jesus' will in everything and in joyously following where He leads.
16. Should we expect everyone to look with favor upon the Christian lifestyle?
Answer: No. Jesus said that the things of God are foolishness to the natural man because they are not spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). When Jesus refers to conduct, He is laying down principles for those who are seeking to be led by His Spirit. His people will be grateful and will joyously follow His counsel. Others may not understand or approve.
17. How would a person who rejects Jesus' standards for Christian conduct view heaven?
Answer: Such a person would be miserable in heaven. He would complain that there were no nightclubs, no liquor, no pornographic material, no prostitutes, no sensual music, no lewd books, no profanity, and no gambling. Heaven would be "hell" for those who have not formed a true love relationship with Jesus. This is why Christian standards make no sense to them (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
18. How can I adopt and follow these Bible guidelines without appearing pharisaical, judgmental, or legalistic?
Answer: Everything we do should be with one thought in mind: to express love and esteem for Jesus (1 John 3:22). When Jesus is lifted up and shown to people (John 12:32), they will be drawn to Him. Our one question should always be, "Will this honor Jesus? Would I listen to this, sing this, do this, watch this, drink this, buy this, read this, say this, or go there if Jesus were here, in person, with me?" Jesus is with you and me (Matthew 28:20), and He sees everything we do. I must sense Jesus' presence in every facet and activity of life. When I consciously spend time with Him, I become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). Then when people are with me, they will respond as they did to the disciples of old: "They marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13. Christians who live like that will never become pharisaical, judgmental, or legalistic. In Old Testament days, God's people were in almost constant apostasy because they chose to live as their heathen neighbors rather than follow the distinctive lifestyle God outlined for them (Deuteronomy 31:16; Judges 2:17; 1 Chronicles 5:25; Ezekiel 23:30). It is true yet today. No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Those who cling to the world and its lifestyle will be slowly molded by Satan to adopt his feelings and desires and, thus, be programmed to be lost. Those who follow Jesus' principles for Christian conduct will be changed into His image and prepared for heaven. There is no middle ground.
19. I want to love Christ so much that to follow His principles for Christian living will be a joy and delight.
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1. I know what God would have me to do, but I just don't feel that I'm ready to begin doing it. What do you suggest? (Isaiah 8:20 ) Begin doing it at once! Never depend on feelings. God guides through the words of Scripture (Isaiah 8:20). Feelings often lead astray. The Jewish leaders felt they should crucify Jesus, but they were wrong. Many will feel saved at Jesus' second advent, but they will, instead, be lost (Matthew 7:21-23). The devil influences feelings. If I depend on my feelings, he will lead me to destruction.
2. I'm troubled. I want very much to do a certain thing. I realize, however, that because of its appearance, some might feel I am doing evil. What should I do? (1 Thessalonians 5:22 ) The Bible is clear. It says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22. And the apostle Paul said that if his eating of flesh foods offended somebody, he'd never touch those foods again (1 Corinthians 8:13). He also said that if he ignored the offended person's feelings and continued eating flesh foods, he would be sinning.
3. It seems to me that churches list too many things I must do and too many things I must not do. It drives me up the wall. Isn't following Jesus what really matters? (Revelation 22:14 ) Yes, following Jesus is what matters. However, following Jesus means one thing to one person and something quite different to another. The only safe way to know what following Jesus means is to discover what Jesus says in the Bible on any question regarding right doing. Those who lovingly follow Jesus' commands will one day soon enter His kingdom (Revelation 22:14). Those who follow man-made rules will go astray and could be led away from His kingdom (Matthew 15:3-9).
4. A few of God's requirements seem unreasonable and unnecessary to me. I can't understand why they are important. What do you suggest? (1 John 5:4 ) Children often feel that some of their parents' requirements (e.g. "Don't play in the street") are unreasonable. But in later years, the child will thank the parents for the requirement. We are "children" in dealing with God, because His thoughts and actions are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:8, 9). We need to trust our loving heavenly Father in the few areas we may not understand and stop "playing in the street", if He so requires. He will never withhold anything good from us (Psalms 84:11). When I am truly in love with Jesus, I will give Him the benefit of the doubt and do His will even if I do not always understand why. The new birth is the key. The Bible says when I am truly born again, overcoming the world will not be a problem because a converted person will have the faith and trust to happily follow Jesus in everything (1 John 5:4). Refusing to follow Him because I am not clear on His reasons displays a lack of trust in my Saviour.
5. Will I benefit from Jesus' loving principles, laws, and commands? (Jeremiah 29:11 ) Absolutely! Every principle, rule, law, or command of Jesus provides unbelievably outstanding blessings. The biggest lottery win in history pales into insignificance when compared to God's rich blessings to His obedient children. Here are just a few benefits that come from following Jesus' rules:
6. In regard to standards and lifestyle, do I have a responsibility to lecture other people about them? (2 Corinthians 13:5 ) The best rule for us to follow is to be concerned about our own lifestyle. "Examine yourselves", the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:5. When our lifestyle is as it should be, our example serves as a silent witness and we don't need to lecture anyone. Of course, parents do have a special responsibility to help their children understand how to follow Jesus.
7. What are the greatest dangers for Christians today? (Matthew 6:24 ) Among the greatest dangers are divided loyalties. Many Christians have two loves that divide the heart: love for Jesus, and love for the world and its sinful practices and pleasures. Too many, it seems, wish to see how closely they can follow the world and still be considered Christians. It won't work. Jesus clearly warned that no one "can serve two masters." Matthew 6:24.
8. But isn't it legalism to follow these Christian rules of conduct? (Ephesians 2:8 ) Not unless a person is doing it in order to be saved. Salvation comes only as a miraculous, free gift from Jesus. Salvation by works (or conduct) is no salvation at all. However, following Jesus' standards of conduct because I have been saved and love Him is never legalism.
9. Are Christian standards involved with Jesus' command to let our lights shine? (Matthew 5:14 ) Assuredly! Jesus says a true Christian is a light (Matthew 5:14). He also said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16. You don't hear a light; you see it. People will see a Christian's light shine by his conduct, dress, diet, conversation, attitude, sympathy, purity, kindness, and honesty (Jesus' standards). They will inquire about his lifestyle and, thus, often be led to Christ.
10. Aren't Christian standards cultural? Shouldn't they change with the times? (2 Corinthians 6:17 ) Customs may change, but Bible standards endure. "The word of our God shall stand for ever." Isaiah 40:8. The church must lead, not follow. It must not be programmed by culture, humanism, or the trends of the day. We are not to bring the church down to erring human standards, but rather, up to Jesus' standards. When a church lives, speaks, looks, and behaves like the world, who would ever go to it for help? Jesus sends a clarion call to His people and His church, saying, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate ... and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." 2 Corinthians 6:17. Jesus' church is not to imitate the world, but rather to repudiate it. The "world" has ravaged billions. The church must not join in its mayhem. The church must stand tall and with a gracious but firm voice call people to listen to Jesus and come up to His standards. When a hearer falls in love with Jesus and asks Him to control his life, the Saviour will work the miracles needed to change him and safely escort him to God's eternal kingdom. There is no other way to heaven.
11. Surely not all dancing is evil. Didn't David dance before the Lord? (2 Samuel 6:14 ) True, not all dancing is evil. David leaped and danced before the Lord as an expression of praise for His blessings (2 Samuel 6:14-16). Also, he was dancing by himself. David's dance was similar to that of the lame man who leaped for joy after being healed by Jesus (Acts 3:8-10). Such dancing, or leaping, is recommended by Jesus to those who are being persecuted (Luke 6:22, 23). Dancing with those of the opposite sex (which leads to immorality and broken homes) and lewd dancing (such as strippers) are the kinds condemned by the Bible.
12. What does the Bible say about people condemning and judging each other? (Matthew 7:1 ) "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged." Matthew 7:1, 2. "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things." Romans 2:1. How could this be clearer? There is no excuse or justification for my judging anyone other than myself. Jesus is the Judge (John 5:22). When I pass judgment on others, I usurp Christ's position as judge and become a miniature Antichrist (1 John 2:18)--a solemn thought, indeed!