Seeking God and Finding
An Investigative Journey into the
Foundational Claims of the Gospel
Written by Chris Norman
Adapted by Brian Smeltzer
Grace Gathering, New Haven, IN
TABLE of CONTENTS
4 - How can I understand God in this Crazy World?
10 - One Human Race – One Common Problem
16 - Coming to Grips with the Destiny of my Soul
22 - He would do that for Me?
27 - Experiencing a Beautiful and Perfect Love
33 - How do I Begin a Relationship with God?
39 - How can I Know where My Relationship with God Stands?
44 - How Free and Forgiven am I in Christ?
50 - What is the Gospel of Christ
52 - How do I Know if I Should be Baptized?
How Can I Understand God in this Crazy World?
Most people in this world are on some type of spiritual journey. Maybe you are choosing to be
on this journey or maybe you look for it when things get really bad. Deep down, we desire to
know about what makes us who we are; our upbringing, family history, why we are the way we
are, what makes us tick, what we’re passionate about, our identity and purpose. Are you here
by chance or were you uniquely designed and put here on earth by a creator? Having answers
to these questions will affect the way you view life and probably the way you live it.
This study was designed assuming you don’t have any Biblical knowledge. In fact, you may not
even know if you believe in the Christian faith or if the Bible is true. This is an opportunity for
you to study the original document of the Christian faith, the Holy Bible, and come to your own
conclusion. The goal isn’t to convince you that the Bible is true or even that God exists. It will
simply reveal what the Bible states about God, his creation, and how God fits into that plan.
As we will see, the Bible states that a personal and loving God uniquely creates every person
in this world. God created you and knows you far better than you even know yourself. He
wants nothing more than for you to genuinely know and love him. God says he will reveal
himself to anyone who truly seeks him.
Read the following verses and write down what they tell you about seeking God. (If you are not
familiar with where these books of the Bible are located, go to your table of contents in the
front of your Bible or to the last page in this booklet. (OT) will mean Old Testament and (NT)
will mean New Testament.)
• Jeremiah 29:13 (OT)
• Matthew 7:7-8 (NT)
• Deuteronomy 4:29 (OT)
• Luke 19:10 (NT)
• Acts 17:27 (NT)
God delights and gives promises to those who seek him. Many times God allows both good
and bad things to happen in our lives so that we will seek him. From our perspective it may
seem that we are doing all the seeking, but in reality, God is the one who is seeking us.
Every person is born lost and without God. It’s easy to get confused
Mercy means being
about life, the struggles we face, and the questions we have that are compassionate or
unanswered. What matters is how we deal with those issues. Do we kind towards an
let it turn in to baggage that will hold us down and get in the way of enemy or someone
who offends you.
our relationship with God or do we let it become an experience that
we grow from? Often we look for God in the wrong places (e.g.
through friends, boy/girlfriend, popularity, looks, possessions, “churchy” things, etc.), but in his
mercy and love he seeks us. As this Luke passage says, “He desires to save that which is
lost.” It’s amazing that when we finally do seek after God and read what the Bible says, we
come in contact with our loving and intimate creator.
When you look at your life so far, are there things, either good or bad, that have made you stop
and realize your need for God in your life, or realize that God has been seeking you?
Remember God’s promise: “Those who seek me, find me.” Perhaps God has allowed you to
experience something in your life that has made you realize you cannot do it alone. We all
need God, our creator.
How Can Everyone Be Right?
I’m sure you’ve seen it on TV or the news, maybe you’ve even
If something is experienced it at school or with friends. It seems like everywhere we look,
relative it is
dependent or we see or hear someone saying “Truth can’t be completely true.” or
connected to “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” In our day, experience has
something else, become the dominating source of authority. In a relativistic society no one
it’s not absolute.
has a right to tell anyone else he is wrong. There are no absolutes, and
everything is relative. What is right and wrong for me is relative to my
experience. Nothing outside of man’s own thoughts and opinions has
authority. Man and his experience now is the final judge. “Nothing or no one can judge me or
tell me I am wrong but me.” This is the difference between a man-centered world and a God-
centered world. People today generally do what is right in their own eyes. On the next page
are four statements. Which one of them best describes you?
1. “My parents taught me that as long as you love people and are a
Our belief system
good person you will go to heaven, and that is what I believe.” is formed through
these four sources;
2. “The Bible says that God has no beginning and no ending, tradidion (school),
therefore, that is what I believe.”
will burn me... it’s
hot!) and the Bible
3. “It does not make good sense to me that a God would create (what it teaches).
people and then send many of them to hell, therefore, I cannot
believe this is true.”
4. “I will not believe in the God of the Bible unless he personally appears to me or
performs a miracle before my eyes. The way I live right now feels right to me.”
If there are no absolutes, and no one can make universal statements about right and wrong,
think about the result: morality is based only on the opinion of each person’s own feelings. “If I
want to get pregnant at 17, who are you to say I am wrong? I decide what is right and wrong
for me… It’s my choice.” This reasoning can be given to verify any action. Man becomes his
own final judge. In a sense, everyone is his or her own god. The very first verse in the Bible
challenges this thinking, and reveals that we are not our own gods.
God as Creator
What does Genesis 1:1 (OT) say about all of life and more specifically what does it say about
What does Gen. 1:31 say about his creation after the six days?
As you read through the first chapter of Genesis, God often states that what he has created is
“good” which shows that not only is God the creator but he knows good because he created it.
He created the universe (and everything in it) and established a moral basis of right and
wrong. Because this world is his creation, he is the one who sets all standards and creates all
plans. The creation is always subject to the Creator because he created it.
Creator God as a Communicator
The God of all creation is not silent, but he communicates and is interactive with his creation.
God did not create everything the same. He created man and woman with the special ability to
relate and interact with him. This is part of what it means for God to create man in his own
image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). God is revealed as a communicator with man and woman
within the very first chapter of the Bible.
To whom did God communicate in Genesis 1:28?
If 2 Timothy 3:16 (NT) is true, how reliable and dependable is the Bible as it relates to God’s
communication to man? Explain in your own words.
Who is this Creator God?
Take a minute and write down how you picture God. How would you describe him?
Many people have different views of God. Some think he is like a police officer always looking
for us to screw up. Some think he is always mad and always disappointed in us. Some think he
is more like a grandfather in the sky who never gets angry. Maybe you have an earthly father
who isn’t in your life and don’t want to be involved with a heavenly Father who will do the same
or you may see God as Santa Clause who is only there to give you the stuff you want and you
only seem to need him when you’re in trouble or need something. Some believe God is nature,
others believe he is simply the good in people, and yet others believe God is simply on the
sidelines cheering us on with the hope that we will make the right choices. Because God
existed before he created the universe, he is totally independent of our thoughts or perceptions
of him. He is here because of himself and by himself; he didn’t need to be and wasn’t created.
What we believe about God is not nearly as important as what God has communicated about
himself. We know this is true so our goal should be to understand God based on what HE
says, not on what WE think. We will continue to understand God’s character and nature
throughout this study. However, let’s look at one of God’s major Holy means to
be set apart from
attributes: His holiness. everything else. It
also means to be
There are many attributes and characteristics that describe God such as: worthy of worship.
eternal, infinite, Spirit, loving, compassionate, judging, wrathful, patient,
kind, forgiving, right, pure, all-knowing, all-powerful, present everywhere,
just, fair, faithful, above us, with us, and the list could continue. One attribute of God that
encompasses many of these is his holiness. God is a holy God. As we seek God, it is crucial
that we are willing to shed our own ideas about God, as many of them may be wrong. We must
begin building an understanding of God based on the foundation that he is a holy God.
Holiness describes God’s uniqueness and moral purity. The Creator is different from everything
else in all of creation. He does not think the way we think, or live the way we live, and he is
beyond the full grasp and understanding of our finite minds. We sometimes wonder why God
does this, or says that, or allows certain things to happen, and we quickly forget that God is not
like us. God is completely different. God is also morally pure, right, and perfect 100% of the
time. He never makes a mistake, never thinks an unwholesome thought, and never commits
an indecent act. He is morally perfect. Read the following verses and write what they say about
Exodus 15:11 (OT)
Habakkuk 1:13 (OT) (first half of verse)
Numbers 23:19 (OT)
Psalm 99:9 (OT)
God’s holiness (his uniqueness and purity) reveals that God is the most amazing being anyone
could ever imagine. Yet, this unique, different, and morally perfect God is the one who created
us and desires to have a relationship with us. Who can understand this astonishing truth? It is
one of the most humbling realizations we can ever grasp. This is the God who is revealing
himself to you.
The First Building Blocks of Understanding God
The truths shared in this session are the first building blocks to our understanding of God. God
is the creator of all things, he is a communicating God, and he is holy. While you may at times
question the existence of God, question the reliability of the Bible, or simply refuse to become
a follower of Christ, this study will give you the opportunity to investigate the claims of the
biblical gospel on your own. Perhaps you already are a follower of Christ and want to refine
your thoughts and how you communicate your faith to others. Whatever your situation, this
study will be an exciting journey for you!
So what was discussed in this session that didn’t really make sense? Were there things that
were hard to understand? Are there questions that come to mind that weren’t addressed in this
session? Take a few minutes to write some of those thoughts down so we can address them
as we move along this journey
One Human Race - One Common Problem
Review the previous session. Write down one of the principles taught that you appreciated the
most and explain why.
Session one built around understanding God and seeking him. God is the ultimate authority in
everything because he created everything. He stands independently and is superior to his
creation. God is also a communicating God and communicates to man and woman in many
ways. He wants to communicate and have a relationship with all people. If you were to think of
a diamond for a second, it shines in many different ways. It’s impossible to see all of it at once.
It also looks different depending on how many lights there are, how bright they are, where the
lights are and how you are looking at it but it’s still a diamond. God is like this, his nature and
character are multifaceted and eternal, but most any way you look at him, you see his
holiness. God is different and unlike anything else in all of creation. He does not think, act, or
live as we do. He is also morally pure and without fault. He is the only standard of absolute
Since God is the creator of all things, and the ultimate authority of all things, he is also the
creator of morality. He creates and communicates what is right and wrong. He did this at the
very beginning of time with the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.
Insight - While discovering things in the Bible, it can be helpful to look at it through your eyes
and see how each situation may apply to you. For an example, let’s look at Genesis 2:9-17
(OT). Here God gives many liberties and one prohibition. What prohibition did he give them?
From the beginning of time God created certain moral guidelines for men and women as a way
of blessing and protecting them. At the same time he also gave man the freedom and the
ability to follow these guidelines or to rebel and disregard them. When people follow his moral
laws, he calls this obedience. When people depart and go against his moral laws, he calls this
sin. We sin anytime we do anything that is not in line with God’s perfect, moral standard. With
what knowledge you currently have of the Bible, are there areas in which you don’t follow
God’s moral laws? If you don’t have an answer yet that’s okay, we’re going to spend this
session looking at those exact things.
According to Genesis 3:1-6, what was Adam and Eve’s response to God’s moral standards?
Sadly, all of us are too much like Adam and Eve. We get tempted by power, we desire things
we shouldn’t, and we buy in to the lies of society and the lies of others. Living selfishly comes
more naturally than living rightly for God. We are all sinful before God.
Every Person in the World is Sinful
Here are three of many verses that deal with sin and how sinful we are. What do these verses
say about sin?
I Kings 8:46 (OT) (First half of verse)
Ecclesiastes 7:20 (OT)
Romans 3:23 (NT)
We could turn to many verses in the Bible which teach us that everyone sins. All of us can look
at our own life experience and realize we are far from morally perfect. There is not one human
on the face of the earth who is without sin. Sin is part of our very being. Sin comes so natural
to us we often do not even realize it when we do sin. Sometimes, sin can even seem more
appealing, at that time, than doing the right thing.
Read Matthew 5:17-7:5 (NT) and notice the things many of us do naturally that Jesus calls
sinful. Which of these actions did you not know were sinful?
TEEN STORY - 15 year old
“Life hasn’t been easy for me. I’m only 15 but have been through a lot of things
people twice my age haven’t dealt with. In middle school, I wasn’t bad but people
always spread rumors about me. Eventually, I couldn’t take the pain and
pressure of school and my parents getting divorced so I started drinking ...a lot. It
was one of the few places I could go where I didn’t have to worry about things. I
just wanted to feel better. In high school, things didn’t get better. I was still
drinking all the time and then it wasn’t making me feel good enough so I started
smoking marijuana. I was at a party and some friends were doing cocaine so I
did some too. eventually, I started crushing pills and snorting them. I was
completely out of control and even got checked in to a behavioral facility several
times to get clean and get things straightened out. I saw the pain I was causing
people, especially my mom, but I was more important. I was sick of felling this
pain and the only way to deal with it was to try to forget it was there.”
Because all people are sinful, we live in a sinful society. Write down some things about our
society that reveals people are sinful.
Because sin comes naturally for all people, it comes naturally for you as well. Write down
some sins or some areas in your life that are not in line with God’s perfect standards
(recognizing that we are sinful and being able to admit sins is crucial to the process of seeking
God). This may seem uncomfortable to reveal ways in which we are sinful. It’s okay, as we
move through this process, you will see just why this is such an important step.
Allow your leader to share some of his/her sins particularly before becoming a follower of
One Human Race
There are many things in this world that divide people: racism, hatred, countries going to war
against other countries, divorce, murder, stealing, etc. People are in conflict with each other all
over the world. The Bible teaches us, however, that every single person on the earth is related
to one another. We all come from the same family. Despite all the diversity in this world among
people, there is only one race – the human race. We all come from the same original parents –
Adam and Eve. Most people think there are significant differences among people in various
countries and cultures of the world. This leads to various types of racial tensions. There are far
more similarities, however, among all people in the world than there are differences. These
similarities are why all people in every nation and culture sin. Everyone descended from the
same original father and mother. The first two parents of the human race sinned; therefore,
they produced a human family of sinners as well. This is why every person on the face of the
earth sins. We are all in this world together because we are all related.
Copy Genesis 3:20 (OT)
What does Acts 17:24-26 (NT) teach about the origin of the entire human race? Explain.
The one man mentioned at the beginning of verse 26 is the first man created by God. This is
Adam. As we saw at the beginning of this session (Genesis 3), the first two humans exercised
their liberty and freedom to disobey God, and they sinned. Thus, they became sinful. Sinful
humans cannot give birth to sinless children. When Adam and Eve sinned, they affected the
entire human race.
Copy Romans 5:12 (NT)
This verse again states that all men and women are descendants of Adam and Eve and have
inherited a sinful nature.
Because sin is universal, and every person is a descendant of the same first family, there is
nowhere we can go in all the earth to find an absence of sin. We can go to the far east, we can
go to the far west, we can go to the far north, and we can go to the far south and yet we will
never find one society, one tribe, one community, one family, or one human being who does
not sin. Sin is universal in all places, for all people, at all times. We all have one common
problem in this life, and it is called sin.
The Bible gives us Ten Commandments. We’re going to get into them more on the following
page but before we do, list as many of them as you can and when we go to the next page,
we’ll see how you did.
How many of the Ten Commandments have you kept?
Many people in our society today could not name even one or two of the Ten Commandments,
much less all ten. In the Old Testament God gave his people Ten Commandments or laws that
were reflective of his holy and pure character. Because God is a communicating God he
wanted his people to know his moral standards. This is the purpose of the Ten
Commandments. These commandments were moral standards that God wanted his people to
follow. Many people today would assume they have upheld most of God’s Ten
Commandments. However, the truth is that not many have kept any of the ten. How many
have you kept (Exodus 20)?
Commandment #1: Worship no gods but the true Creator God
Anytime our supreme focus or supreme pleasure in life is anything other than serving and
worshiping God, we have worshiped a false god. Examples of things we all too often worship
or become exclusively focused on are: cars, houses, money, food, careers, girl/boyfriend,
spouse, children, parents, approval of others, sports, hobbies, sex, power, etc. God is to be
number one in our lives at all times and over all these things.
Commandment #2: Do not worship a man-made idol
God is spirit and cannot be contained within any physical object. We break this command
anytime we bow down to a statue, pray to a picture, or worship an object. Because we cannot
see God or understand his eternality, we have a tendency to want to portray him in some
object or finite entity.
Commandment #3: Do not misuse God’s name
God takes his name very seriously. His name represents God himself. We are to never use his
name in vain, improperly in jokes, or in any inappropriate ways. We are to always use his
name with honor and reverence.
Commandment #4: Remember the Sabbath
In the OT God wanted his people to work six days and to not work on Saturday. Today God
wants his people to spend one day in seven to worship him in a local church.
Commandment #5: Honor Your Father and Mother
Parents are always to be respected and honored because of the position God has given them
in the family.
Commandment #6: Do not murder
This is premeditated murder. However Jesus says you have broken this commandment if you
have rage and anger in your heart against another person (Matt. 5:21-22).
Commandment #7: Do not commit adultery
This is sexual immorality outside the bounds of marriage. However, Jesus says that if you have
sexual or lustful thoughts in your mind for someone else you have broken this commandment
Commandment #8: Do not steal
We are to never take something that does not belong to us.
Commandment #9: Do not lie
We are to tell the truth and be honest.
Commandment #10: Do not covet
We are not to secretly desire our neighbor’s car, spouse, clothes, body, income, or anything
someone else has that we do not.
Write down which commandments you have broken at some point in your life:
The bottom line is that sin comes naturally for all people. There is one human race, coming
from one original family, and we have one common problem: sin.
How would you summarize this session in a few short sentences?
Coming to Grips with the Destiny of my Soul
Review the previous session. Write down one of the principles taught that you appreciated the
most and explain why.
You and your friend are driving to the store. As you are driving, the driver in front of you doesn’t
use his turn signal but moves into your lane and nearly crashes into you. You immediately feel
a sense of rage, and you desire to yell out an obscenity to the careless driver. However, you
are trying to look good in front of your friend, and so you use self-control and do not say
anything. As you pass the car you realize it is a little old lady who is hunched over just like your
own grandmother. You get to the store, and you are looking for a parking spot. You see a car
pulling out of a close spot, and so you back off to let him out. Just as the car pulls out and
leaves, another car comes right in and takes the spot. You are boiling mad inside, and you
almost lose control of your anger. Yet again you withhold your comments. As you pass by you
notice that the driver is handicapped, in a wheel chair, and all the handicap spots were full. The
driver struggles to get out of his car and into the store.
As you and your friend are walking into the store he is telling you this long story about
something that happened to him last week. You are getting tired of listening to him and in your
mind you are thinking, “I wish this guy would stop talking for at least five minutes. I should have
gone to the store by myself and had some peace and quiet.” As he nears the end of his story
he tells you that his parents just told him they are getting divorced. He breaks down in tears
right in the store.
Can you imagine what life would be like if everyone around us could read our mind? Would we
be proud of our thoughts or would we be ashamed? Thoughts of jealously, rage, lust, anger,
indifference, pride, arrogance, judgment, etc. come to our minds more times than we like to
admit. We can hide our thoughts from other people, but our thought-lives truly reflect our
hearts and character more than anything else. We can fake people out with our external words
and actions, but we can never fake our thoughts. No one knows our thoughts except God and
Jesus addresses this issue of connecting our thought lives to the moral state of our heart.
Explain in your own words what Jesus is teaching us in Mark 7:21-23 (NT).
Would you be ashamed and embarrassed if everyone around you could read your mind? What
if you had a bullhorn strapped to your head and it broadcast every thought you had! Does your
thought life represent a heart of purity and innocence or sinfulness? What do your thoughts
say about the state of your mind and heart before God? Explain.
Jesus teaches us that our evil actions and our evil thoughts come from an evil and sinful heart.
It is a heart problem. We learned from session two that our sinful disposition has been passed
down from generation to generation since Adam and Eve, and that we pass our sinful nature
down to our children as well. We are all born with a sinful heart and nature, and that is what
causes our sinful thoughts, our sinful words, and our sinful actions.
Do you ever get frustrated with yourself because of something you wished you would not have
said? Do you ever regret doing something that you knew was wrong? Have you ever not done
something you knew you should have?
Give an example of something recently you did or said that you knew was wrong.
Did you have a sinful thought before you sinned in word or deed? What were your thoughts
before you sinned?
Allow the leader to share a time when a sinful action that was preceded by a sinful thought.
Based on session two and what we have learned so far in this session, can anyone claim that
some people or even one person on this earth is without sin? What is the answer to the
question raised in Proverbs 20:9 (OT)?
Let’s go back to one of the three building blocks of understanding God taught in session one.
The God of this world is a holy God. He is different from anything else in all creation, and he is
absolute moral perfection. Moral perfection, however, cannot tolerate moral imperfection.
Habakkuk 1:13 says this about God, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot
tolerate wrong.” God cannot tolerate or accept sin. God cannot be with something that
separates us from him. God’s holiness and purity requires God’s justice. Justice says that sin
demands punishment and judgment.
Most people do not like laws when they get caught breaking them (e.g. speed limits,
government regulations, paying taxes, etc.). On the other hand people recognize the need for
laws and do enjoy the benefits of living in a nation of laws. How would you feel if a drunk driver
was double the legal alcohol limit, was driving 30 miles over the speed limit, hit one of your
best friends in your front lawn, and yet was not punished for his sinful and lawbreaking
actions? Everyone recognizes we need laws in society to govern our sinful nature. Laws are
given for our protection and give us boundaries in life.
The same is true in the spiritual realm. God has established moral guidelines based upon his
pure and sinless character, and he has prescribed judgment to lawbreakers. One of the things
God taught Adam and Eve as he communicated moral boundaries and guidelines is that
choices have consequences. Obedient choices lead to blessings, and sinful choices lead to
What was the penalty God established in Genesis 2:16-17 because of disobedience and sin?
The more we come to understand the character of God and how perfect, pure, and awesome
he is, the more we realize how much he despises sin. God takes sin so seriously he
communicated to Adam that sin must be punished with the ultimate price – death. Maybe you
think that sounds harsh, a loving God wouldn’t send me to hell. Unlike life, when sometimes
we can get away with it if we aren’t caught, there isn’t any escaping God. He is always around
us, always has been and always will be. We are caught and just like Adam, there is
punishment for our sinful choices.
There are three types of death addressed in the Bible: spiritual, physical, and eternal. Spiritual
death is the natural condition of man’s spiritual heart. Everyone born in the world is born with a
sinful nature and is spiritually dead. Physical death is when the soul separates from the body.
Eternal death is when the soul is judged to an everlasting place of judgment and punishment.
God’s holiness and justice requires all three deaths because of sin.
Summarize how the above explanation of the three types of death contradicts the common
misconception that people are born with a right relationship with God and only spiritually die if
they reject God or do something very wicked in life.
Because we are born with a sinful nature and already have a heart that is naturally selfish,
small children do not need to be taught how to lie, how to steal, how to throw temper tantrums,
how to be selfish, or how to disobey their parents. Children sin at a very early age because
they are born with a sinful nature and a heart that is spiritually dead. The only thing that
changes as they grow older is the degree of sin and amount of premeditation to sin. Adults are
simply more sophisticated about sin than are children.
What did David say about the sinful nature in Psalm 51:5 (OT).
If everyone on the earth sins, and if the consequence and punishment of sin is ultimately
eternal death in hell, does everyone deserve hell? Does hell even really exist? What is hell?
How could a loving God send people to an eternal hell? Does sin really deserve that much
What is your opinion about hell? Do you think it exists? Whom do you think God sends there?
According to 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (NT) whom will God send to hell? How long will the
punishment last and what will these people be shut out from?
Although many may not acknowledge the reality of hell or may not fear hell, Jesus challenges
these thoughts with his own words. Copy Matthew 10:28 (NT).
Take a look at your life. Considering the choices you make, do you feel you fear God or man
more? Explain your answer.
Do you acknowledge that based on your own sins of thoughts, words, and deeds you deserve
the punishment of hell?
Do you have a healthy fear of hell?
Read Luke 16:19-31 and write down several observations you come to about the passage.
Perspective from the Author
“I have to admit that for a very long time I did not believe in hell, nor would I
have ever considered that God could send me to hell. My beliefs about God
and about this world were more based on my own opinions and experience
rather than what some book said. Therefore, in my view of God, I could not
accept a perfect being sending people to a place of judgment and pain forever
and ever. To me this seemed to contradict a God of love and forgiveness. I
remember having many arguments with other people about this. When people
tried to convince me that the Bible teaches the reality of hell, they usually
would not succeed. Because my opinion was more authoritative to me than
the Bible, hell was not a part of my belief system. What I did not understand
then is that our sin nature rebels against what God says is true. Again, I
wanted to play the role of God (even though that is not the way I viewed it).
God has ultimate authority in all of life, but if my opinion and beliefs override
God’s, I have taken over his rightful place and have placed him beneath me.
This is what I did in many areas of my life including my perspective on hell.
“God, send me to hell? Yeah, right. I may not be perfect, but I am sure not that
bad.” I was the authority, not God. My sin deceived me, and I had no true fear
of God and certainly no fear of hell. I was spiritually dead and without a true
relationship with God, and yet I did not even know it. I walked around thinking
that I knew it all, and yet had I physically died prior to my new birth in Christ, I
would have suffered eternal death. I did not believe in hell, and I had self-
assurance that I had done nothing bad enough to deserve hell. In the end,
however, God’s truth would have been a shocking and eternally devastating
surprise to me.”
How does Jesus say that some people will be tragically surprised on the Day of Judgment
according to Matthew 7:21-23 (NT)?
It is interesting that many people talk about the glories of heaven but few ever contemplate the
despair of hell. Have you ever heard, at a funeral, someone say “I know that this person is
spending their days suffering in pain, grief, sorrow, and loneliness.” We often do not like to
think about or meditate on that which is uncomfortable or negative. Who wants to think about
people going to hell, or what hell will be like? While it is the natural inclination of man to not
want to think about hell, it may be surprising to know that God talks more about hell in the
Bible than he does about heaven. He also says that more people in this world will go to hell
than they will heaven (Matt. 7:13-14 NT). Like it is stated above, hell will be a place of pain,
grief, sorrow, loneliness, and there will be no relief. The worst truth about hell is that it will
What does Jesus say about hell in Mark 9:47-48 (NT)?
We sin any time we do or think something that does not reflect God’s perfect, moral character.
We sin so much more often than we ever realize. Because God is holy, he has established a
moral standard in this world that reflects him. God is a communicating God and has
communicated in the Bible his standards as well as the consequences for breaking his most
holy standards. The ultimate punishment for rebelling against God is an eternity in hell. God
takes sin far more seriously than any of us do. In the end, it doesn’t matter if we think we have
done nothing worthy of hell. The truth is that we all sin, rebel against God, and based on
justice will be sentenced to hell. Only self-deceived people question the seriousness and utter
depravity of their sinful nature. Your sin violates the law and character of a holy God and there
is a high price to pay. You will pay with your life! You cannot escape the responsibility of your
past sin, nor can you turn over a new leaf today and never sin again. Our sin places us in a
desperate situation. However, God does have an answer to this massive problem. His answer
will be communicated in the following two sessions. If you do not want to wait and are
overburdened with your sin, or if you desire spiritual freedom today, go to the Summary page
at the end of the study. There you can read about the way God has given you an opportunity to
be forgiven, thus, changing the very destiny of your soul.
We will never be able to fix something unless we know it has been broken. This session has
taught you that something is very broken, and your sin is the reason it got that way.
Please write down at least two questions or comments:
He would do that for Me?
Review the previous two sessions on the issue of sin and write down at least one of the
principles taught that had an impact on you the most and explain why.
At this time allow your leader to verbally share one of the principles from the previous two
sessions that most impacted him/her and why.
When we study the nature of sin and we come to realize how often we sin in thought, word, or
deed in everyday life, it usually brings a deeper sensitivity to our own sin. Name some ways
you sinned this past week in thought, word, or deed.
We learned in session three that due to God’s holiness and purity he judges sin with the
ultimate price – death. This death is ultimately expressed in eternal death. Sin costs us both
our life and our soul. We cannot live with God forever in eternity as sinners who rebel against
God in thought, word, and deed. God’s justice requires death as the punishment of sin.
Addressing Sin in the Old Testament
Sin has been a huge part of our society ever since the first man and woman sinned in the
Garden of Eden (Genesis 3 OT). Murder, rape, lying, stealing, prostitution, adultery, immorality,
deception, rage, jealousy, greed, lust, hate, materialism (the need for “stuff”), and a love for
everything but God has been around for as long as man has been on the earth. We cannot go
to one community, tribe, or people group in the history of civilization and find these sins
missing. God dealt with sinful and rebellious people thousands of years ago during the OT time
period just as he deals with sinful and rebellious people like us in the 21st century.
Although God’s holiness and purity lead to his justice and judgment, they also lead to his
perfect love, mercy, and willingness to forgive. However, how could a morally perfect being like
God forgive wicked and rebellious people and allow them to escape his justice? Wouldn’t this
contradict his absolute holiness? The answer is found in one of the most amazing ideas
communicated in the OT – substitution.
Substitution is the act of replacing someone or something with something else. Substitutions
are common in sports. Coaches may take out a player and substitute that player with someone
else. Substitutions are common in cooking. Maybe a recipe calls for butter, but you substitute
margarine for it. Almost everyone grew up in school with an occasional substitute teacher. The
substitute would teach on behalf of the permanent teacher. Substitutions are also common in
the medical field as people donate their organs to others to help replace organs that are not
functioning properly. In theater, the understudy sometimes substitutes in when the lead actor is
sick or injured. Everyone in society experiences the idea of substitution in various forms.
In the OT God spiritually used the idea of substitution in the area of punishing sin. Because
God is holy and because people sin, God’s justice requires death for sin. However, God
punished people’s sins by death through an act of substitution to fall upon innocent animals in
the place of guilty men and women. A person would come to God’s altar with a lamb or some
other type of acceptable animal, and he would first lay his hands on the head of the animal.
This symbolized a transferring of sin from the guilty to the innocent. God spiritually and
symbolically allowed a person’s sin to transfer onto the animal. The innocent animal became a
substitute for the guilty sinner, and the animal would then be put to death. If this was done with
true faith in God, God would forgive the sinner, and he would escape the punishment of sin.
Because there was death, God’s holiness and justice were not compromised. Sin had been
rightly punished. Throughout the OT animal sacrifices were made to account for sin, and thus
through faith, people could escape God’s judgment for sin and receive the forgiveness of God.
This act of substitution gave people hope that a relationship with God, both temporarily on
earth and eternally in heaven, was possible.
What does Leviticus 4:28-29 (OT) say?
What are some of your thoughts about the idea of putting animals to death as a substitute for
judging people’s sins?
In the NT, we find out that the OT way of sacrificing to cover our sins wasn’t enough. What
does Hebrews 10:1-4 say about this?
While it is true that animals for humans are an unequal substitution, finding an equal
substitution has many problems. According to God’s character of holiness and justice sin will
be punished with death and ultimately eternal death. However, because every human sins and
deserves punishment, there are no innocent humans who could act as a substitute for
someone else. Substituting an innocent man for a guilty man is impossible for there are no
innocent men. For example, you could not be judged in the place of a family member or friend
and pay for their sins. You could not become a substitute for someone else and take on their
sin because you have your own sin that must be judged. It was not difficult to find animals that
were innocent, but where can innocent humans be found? Finding innocent humans who could
be put to death as substitutes for guilty humans is impossible because innocent humans do not
God did allow the transfer of sin from people to lambs and other animals as a temporary
means of substitution and forgiveness in the OT. However, this was simply a foreshadowing of
the ultimate lamb that would take away the sins of the world. God had a plan and an answer to
a more permanent sacrifice and substitution for sin.
Write down what John the Baptist said when Jesus first began his ministry on earth in John
INSIGHT - This is one example of how Jesus changed things. Although it may seem like the
Bible is saying two different things, it’s not. Jesus came to establish a new way of doing things.
He was that way. There are many times that the OT says one thing and the NT says
something that seems to go against it. Because Jesus came, the old way of doing things
changed and a new way was established.
Countless innocent lambs were put to death in the OT as a means of judging sin. Sin requires
death, and the ultimate death is the punishment of eternal hell. Many worshippers of God in
the OT were spared God’s punishment because in faith their sin was transferred to innocent
animals. When these innocent animals were put to death, people’s sins were forgiven. All of
these innocent animals pointed to the one and only perfect sacrifice – the Lamb of God.
When Jesus was put to death on the cross it was a substitutionary death. On the cross God
punished Jesus, his one and only son, for the sins of others. Because there were no innocent
humans on the earth who could become a substitute for sin, Jesus came to fulfill this purpose.
Jesus left Heaven, became a man, lived a perfect and sinless life, and became the only
candidate in the history of the world who could become that human for human substitution. If
Jesus was willing, and he was, he could allow guilty sinners to transfer their sin onto him.
Jesus died on the cross as the punishment for the sins of others.
The entire OT sacrificial system was based on substitutionary death through innocent animals.
It was God’s plan, however, from the beginning of time that Jesus would be put to death as
God’s ultimate lamb.
Read I Peter 3:18 (NT) and notice the language used to describe this substitution. According to
the verse, for whom did Christ die and for what purpose?
Here are some questions that maybe you’ve heard or thought about. Put a check beside the
ones you’ve thought about.
• Was the death of Christ really necessary?
• Couldn’t God forgive people’s sins without sacrificing his only son on the cross?
• Is sin really that bad?
• Can’t we have a relationship with God our own way?
• Can’t we just believe in God and try to be a good person?
• Will God really send people to hell apart from a substitutionary death?
• Won’t his love and goodness cover over our failures?
• What if I believe in another religion apart from Jesus?
• Will God really judge me?
• Isn’t it arrogant to suggest that Jesus is the only way to God?
• What about all the religions of the world that do not adhere to the substitutionary death of
• Are you going to tell me they are all wrong, and God will judge all of them to hell?
• Can’t I simply try to follow God’s universal law in life by treating others the way I want to be
• Is there another way apart from the death of Christ?
• Jesus was a good example for all people, but did his death really accomplish something
• Is all this really that necessary?
To answer the above questions, record John 14:6 (NT) and Galatians 2:21 (NT).
These passages teaches us a very important truth about the crucifixion of Christ: if there is
another way to God or another way to be forgiven and escape hell apart from this
substitutionary death, Jesus died for nothing. If Jesus is not the only way to God, and if his
death was not required for people to be restored back to God, his blood was wasted. Jesus is
the only way to God.
In Matthew 16:21-28 (NT) Jesus began to prepare his disciples with the truth that it was
necessary for him to go to the cross and be crucified to save people from their sins. There was
no other way. One of the most outspoken apostles, Peter, challenged this notion that this was
necessary and told Jesus he would not allow him to be murdered on a cross.
Read Matthew 16:21-28 (NT) and record Jesus’ response to Peter.
The death of Christ on the cross was the most horrific event in human history. Jesus, the Son
of God, the only perfect and sinless person to ever walk this earth was crucified on a cross and
put to shame – the guilty punishing the innocent. If there were another way to restore sinners
to God, Jesus certainly would have chosen a different way.
The night Jesus was betrayed he spent time in prayer to the Father regarding the anguish over
his eventual crucifixion. He was dreading the cross as he would take on the sins of the world
and suffer the wrath of God against sin. In his turmoil he communicated his deep struggle with
facing the cross but then said, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Read Luke 22:41-44 (NT) and describe the anguish of Christ regarding the cross.
Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t by accident. Jesus did not go through the agony of crucifixion
so that he could become one of many different roads to heaven. If there were other roads to
Heaven, Jesus would have pointed you to those roads. Jesus took on the sins of the world and
died in your place, as your substitute. God’s holiness and justice will not allow your sin to go
unpunished. Either you will pay for your sins, or God will punish someone else for your sin.
The only substitute in the history of the world who is qualified to take on that punishment in
your place is a man named Jesus – the Lamb of God.
Write down some thoughts or questions about the truth that Jesus went to the cross to do what
no one else could do – become a substitute and take on God’s wrath and judgment against
Experiencing a Beautiful and Perfect Love
Love is a very strange word in our society. People get married because they love each other.
People get divorced because they no longer love each other. Many times people hurt the very
people they love. People love their children, love their families, love their dogs (which is
different from puppy love), love pizza, love basketball, love TV shows, and love to be loved.
We even talk about love being in the air. Love, love, love – everyone is looking for love.
God is said to be a God of love. How can we understand God’s love when we have so many
different versions of love here on earth? What does pure love, untainted by sin, look like? Have
you ever experienced love without even a hint of self-interest?
The love of God is unique to anything we have ever experienced on earth. God’s love is the
only pure and genuine love this world has ever seen. God’s love is the deepest and most
amazing love known to man. When men, women, and children understand and experience the
love of God, they are never the same. It is a love that is life changing.
As we start the second half of this study we are beginning to form a biblical worldview
regarding all of life. Some truths taken from a biblical worldview are the following:
• God is the creator and authority over the entire universe.
• God is holy. (pure and different from anything else in creation)
• God has created morality and has determined some things to be right and some
things to be wrong.
• God’s holiness and purity cause his justice and punishment of everything that is
sinful or impure.
• God is a communicating God and has spoken to his creation of men and women
through his written word. (the Bible)
• Every person is born with a sinful nature, and this is why we commit wrongful acts in
thought, word, and deed.
• The punishment of sin is death. (spiritually, physically, and eventually eternally in
Which of these biblical truths do you feel like you understand? Take a few minutes to talk about
them with your mentor.
Which of these biblical truths would you like to grasp in a deeper way? Explain why.
Allow your leader to express which truth he or she would like to grasp in a deeper way and
So what is a biblical worldview? It isn’t simply knowing and agreeing to the above facts. It’s
when a person lives out what he knows is biblically true and when we look at life the way God
looks at it. The above list isn’t complete but simply showing the beginning stages of developing
a biblical worldview.
We come now to another important piece in developing this worldview, and that is the love and
mercy of God. While God’s holy character certainly leads to judging and punishing all sin,
God’s character of love, mercy, and grace gives a true and real hope to each person in the
world. The reality of hell is a scary thought to all. The hope of heaven and an eternal
relationship with God is everyone’s desire. It is only by God’s love and grace that anyone will
escape hell and enter an eternal relationship with God in heaven.
We learned in the last session that God the Father was willing to punish his only Son, Jesus, in
our place as a substitute, so that we can escape God’s eternal judgment. We can have a right
relationship with God both on this earth and forever in eternity through the sacrifice of Jesus
Christ on the cross.
Why was Jesus willing to go through the torture of a crucifixion when he committed no sins?
Why was he willing to leave the perfect environment of heaven and accept the judgment of
God? Why would he come here to be abused, mistreated, beaten, tortured, and eventually
murdered? Why would he take the punishment that you and I deserve? He did this because he
loves. He loves like no other.
Jesus loves you like no one else has ever loved you because Jesus is not only God’s son, he
is God himself.
INSIGHT - This idea can be difficult to grasp. I remember going over this with a group of
students when all of the sudden, a student cocked his head to the side and interrupted. “Wait a
minute, that doesn’t make sense ...how can Jesus be God and man? It’s not possible for Jesus
to be 100% God and 100% man ...that’s 200%” Don’t be embarrassed to say that you don’t
understand this idea. Take time to go through the next few pages a little slower if you need to.
Jesus is both God and Man
While there are many passages of Scripture that teach Jesus is God, let’s look at two:
Colossians 1:15-20 is a brief description of Jesus. Write down all the characteristics of Christ in
this passage that could only be true of God.
According to Revelation 1:8 how does God describe himself?
The Alpha and Omega are the beginning and ending letters of the Greek alphabet. God is
saying that he is both the beginning and the end, in all of life.
According to Revelation 22:13 how does Jesus describe himself?
Jesus was not only God’s son; he was literally God in the flesh. There is one God in the
universe, but he is revealed in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Does that make
sense to you?) God is three in one. It is important to remember that God is holy and different
from anything else in creation. God is infinite and beyond complete human understanding.
Understanding God as three in one is impossible for finite minds to grasp. Many people think
God created Jesus or that God and Jesus are different. God the Father and God the Son are
different, but they are both God. When Jesus left heaven, became a man, and walked this
earth, people interacted with God himself. When Jesus talked with his fellow Jews and made
statements to them revealing himself as God, they often picked up stones to kill him for
blasphemy (e.g. John 5:16-18, 8:54-50 NT). This is also why Colossians chapter one says that
Jesus was the creator of all things. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all involved in the
creation because they are God in one. Finite minds cannot understand three in one, but our
limited minds cannot understand many things in the universe that are true (e.g. infinity in
mathematics, the boundaries of the universe in physics, the complexity of the human brain in
biology, etc.) If we could understand everything about God or completely grasp him, he would
no longer be infinite, and he would no longer be God. God reveals himself as both three in
one. Jesus is God.
The amazing thing about God the Son, which is not true about God the Father or God the
Spirit, is that Jesus became man. When the Virgin Mary conceived supernaturally by the Holy
Spirit, the eternal creator took on the finite body of flesh. Jesus became the God-man. For the
first time in history Jesus the Son experienced bodily growth, aging, hunger, physical pain,
thirst, tiredness, and even physical death.
What does Philippians 2:5-11 (NT) teach about Jesus’ willingness to become man?
Jesus did what no one else could do. Jesus died in the place of others and suffered the
punishment for their sins. As we said before, everyone else in the world has his or her own sin
that requires punishment. No other human could die in your place. Either God’s holiness and
justice would punish every person in the world to hell due to sin, or God himself would come to
earth and take on this judgment himself in the place of sinful man. The Father asked the Son
to accomplish this task, and the Son willingly came. Throughout Jesus’ time on earth, he stated
that he came to do the will of his Father. His entire purpose as the God-man was to live the
perfect and sinless life as a man, and then willingly place himself on the altar to be slaughtered
as God’s own sacrificial lamb. Jesus became the perfect and only mediator between God and
Copy 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NT).
Why would God the Father send God the Son to die in our place? If every person is impure
and tainted by evil and sin, why doesn’t God simply judge everyone to hell? We certainly do
not deserve to be forgiven. If we receive what we deserve, we would receive judgment. God’s
grace, however, paves the way for the possibility that we could receive what we do not deserve
– eternal life in heaven with God. God owes heaven to no one, but his mercy and grace
creates this possibility and reality. God sent Jesus, and Jesus was willing to come because of
love. God’s motive was based on a love we have never experienced from other men and
women on this earth. God’s motive was based on a love that is pure and eternal.
John 3:16 (NT) is one of the most well-known verses in the Bible. How does it prove that God’s
motive was based on love?
Read and reflect on Romans 5:6-10 (NT). Which aspect of this passage stands out to you the
most and why?
Allow your leader to share what aspect of this verse strikes him/her the most and explain why.
God’s character is compassionate, merciful, patient, kind, good, gentle, caring, understanding,
forgiving, and based on a love that is deeper than the seas and higher than the heavens. God
is more loving and forgiving than any of our minds can grasp. It is this loving character
combined with his holy justice and punishment that led Jesus to the cross. The event of
Christ’s crucifixion highlights both God’s justice and his love as God poured out his wrath on
Jesus for sin, and as Jesus willingly accepted that wrath in love.
How does the cross of Christ represent both God’s wrath and hatred of sin, as well as God’s
Why is God so interested in me?
If I sin so often in my thoughts, in my words, and in my deeds, and if I have a nature that rebels
against God and his authority in my life, why would Jesus love me enough to die in my place?
Why would he suffer and take on my punishment? Why does God love me so much? Why
would he be willing to forgive me through Christ? God has a genuine interest in every person
in this world because he is intimately involved in the creation of every individual. God creates
no two people the same. We are all different, and yet we are all created by the same God.
Whether we are Asian, African, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, male, female, tall,
short, rich, or poor we all come from the same Creator God, and we are all related. Because
God created each of us uniquely, he knows us better than we even know ourselves.
What do these verses say about how well God knows us?
• Psalm 119:73a (OT)
• Deuteronomy 32:6b (OT)
• Psalm 139:1-18 (OT)
One of the reasons that God knows us so well is that everything in life is within his presence.
There is no place we can go where we can hide from God. God is always with us and knows
everything we do, even before we do it. God is interested in us, even though we sin against
him, because he created us and he loves us. Fathers and mothers love their children even
though their children do not always obey them. Parents will punish their children for wrong
behavior, but they never stop loving them. A parent spends years and years raising their
children. There is a bond there that is not easily broken. Of course sin can easily damage that
bond and cause division and pain between parent and child. Maybe you or someone you know
has personally dealt with this pain. God the Father isn’t a reflection of our parents but our
parents should be a reflection of God. Don’t allow an imperfect and sinful parent keep you from
who God really is.
While it is true that God creates each person intimately, one does not become a true son or
daughter of God until our sin is removed at spiritual birth. Sin separates us from God, but God
is always initiating a relationship with us. God has created every individual to worship him and
glorify him. God created us to love him back.
God’s Purpose for Men and Women
These are tough years in your life. Not only are you trying to figure out who you are and what
you are doing on this earth, You’re probably dealing with other people who are dealing with the
same things. Maybe the friends you had when you were a freshman aren’t anywhere in your
life now. Maybe there’s a guy or girl you really want to be with, but deep down you know it isn’t
right or maybe you’ve been at a party and know that if you just do what everyone else is doing,
you’ll be in that group. It’s tough. I’m sure you’ve heard of a mid-life crisis it’s the same thing.
Many people struggle in life with purpose no matter what age they are. Why am I here? What
am I to be doing in life? What is my purpose or mission in life? When we begin to develop a
biblical worldview we start to look at life the way God looks at it. When we do this, we see that
God has created all of us to love, worship, and glorify him. Everything in life is for God’s glory.
God loves us because this brings him praise and glory. How much easier would things be if
you could make all of your decisions based on a biblical worldview? By easier, I don’t mean
the actual choice when you need to make it, but many of the other things like consequences,
keeping your stories straight, figuring our which “version of you” you need to be with each
group of people in your life.
Read the following verses and write what they mean for you and your life:
• Psalm 34:3 (OT)
• Psalm 63:3
• Psalm 69:30
• Psalm 86:12
God the Father loves you and desires to have a relationship with you. He loves you so much
he was willing to punish his son in your place. His willingness to do that should tell you the
seriousness of your sin and the depth of his love. He created you to worship him, to love him,
and to glorify him in everything you do. This is God’s world, and he wants everything in life
focused on him. We fall very short of fulfilling our purpose on this earth, but God can change
that. God can change us through the power of his Holy Spirit. In the next session we will see
what we must do to be forgiven of God, to transfer our sin to Jesus on the cross, and to begin
giving him the glory he deserves in our lives. God has been involved in our lives before we
even had our first thought, and he has been there ever since. His desire is that we will worship
him in spirit and truth (John 4:23 NT). Are you a true worshipper of Christ? Have you
responded to his love? Are you fulfilling God’s purpose for your life? Where would we be
without the love of God? God’s love is truly amazing!
How do I Begin a Relationship with God?
Go over Session Five and write down a question, or make some comments, about at least one
principle taught in that session.
Allow your leader to make some comments about at least one principle taught in session five.
In the last five sessions we have learned a great deal about God, ourselves, and about why
Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago. We come now to the personal application of what this
biblical worldview means to sinful people like us. If every person is sinful, and yet God’s
character of justice punishes sin, is everyone in the world going to hell? If Jesus was put to
death as a substitute for the entire world, does God forgive everyone? Is everyone going to
heaven? If some people are going to hell, and some are going to heaven, what will be the
deciding factor? If some people do go to heaven and others too hell, is there anything that I
can do that will assure me that when I die I will not be eternally punished for my sin but will go
to heaven? I know I have sin, and I know that I deserve hell, but what must I do to be saved?
This question, “What must I do to be saved,” is the most penetrating question of this study. It is
the most penetrating question in all of life. It is God’s desire that every person in the world
raise this question at some point in his/her life. Jesus came to the earth to reveal and fulfill the
answer to this most crucial question in life.
Write down Acts 16:30 (NT).
The gospel of Christ is the message of how to be saved and forgiven. Jesus’ death on the
cross was not the completion of his payment for people’s sins, however. It was the resurrection
of Christ three days after he was buried that completed his substitution on the cross. The
foundation of the gospel message is Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
According to I Corinthians 15:3-4 (NT) what are the three components of the gospel?
According to 1 Corinthians 15:17 (NT), could Jesus save us from our sins apart from his
Jesus came to this earth to save us from our sins. There are many things people do to attempt
to get right with God or go to heaven when they die. They try to clean up their life, they try to
love people more, they try to read and obey the Bible, they try to get back in church, they try to
get more religious, etc. Some of these things are good, but none of them will remove any of
our sin. Removing all sin is the only way you can have a true relationship with God and go to
heaven when you die. Jesus has done all the work for us, but he does command us to do two
things. God will transfer our sins onto Jesus, just like OT people transferred their sin to
innocent animals, if we repent of our sin and place our faith in Jesus. Repentance and faith
become the two essential keys to the forgiveness of God. There is nothing we can do to
transfer our sin to Christ except repent of our sin and believe in Christ. God forgives us of all
sin at our conversion to Christ. Conversion takes place when you repent and place faith in
A Personal Reflection from the Author
“I was not converted to Christ until I was 21 years old. I was living in London,
England as a foreign exchange student in college. One of my good friends had
recently been converted to Christ, but I thought he was just on a religious kick.
We were former party buddies, and he certainly lived as sinfully as I did. All of
a sudden he supposedly found Jesus. I was very skeptical and considered it a
phase. At the same time, I began to sense a stirring in my own mind and heart
about the things of God. I began asking questions like: Is the Bible really from
God or from man? Do heaven and hell really exist? Are there many religions
that are true, or is Christ really the only truth? Do I really want to become a
The word Christian conjured up many negative thoughts to me. Did I really
want to make major changes in my life and become a follower of Christ? While
I asked myself these questions I knew that if I became convinced that the
Bible was true, I would devote my entire life to Christ. I became almost an
investigator as I contemplated these questions. As a philosophy major I
engaged my fellow students and professors in these questions.
I had never been a church attender so I started to visit various churches on my
quest for finding the truth. I even talked to various pastors about my questions.
I remember sitting in the home of one pastor in London. I had a list of
questions for him and told him that I desperately wanted to find the truth. I
wanted to either follow Christ as my God or cast him aside as simply another
man-made religion. I will never forget his response as we sat in his office. He
told me that as a 21-year-old, I was very young and had my whole life to
search for these answers. He told me to not be so persistent in finding
answers right away and encouraged me to take my time. That satisfied me for
about a day, but then my urgency returned the next day.
One day after a series of interesting incidences, I asked my host family in
England if they had a Bible. They dusted one from off their shelf and gave it to
me. I began reading the book of Matthew that night. For the first time my eyes
were open, and I truly repented of my sin and believed in Christ. Tears began
to roll down my cheek as I read about Jesus. I had read the Bible a few times
before and had heard the stories, but it never impacted me. God had touched
my heart. Although many changes did not take place overnight, I began the
journey of becoming a follower of Christ. I was converted to Christ. Although I
did not understand this at the time, at that moment when I repented and
believed in Christ, all my sin left me and was spiritually placed on the cross.
God removed all my rebellion, all my past wicked behavior, and all my sins of
thought, word and deed. He removed all my past sins and all my future sins.
For the first time in my life, I was cleansed, and I began a true relationship with
my creator. I was now a convert and follower of Christ.”
Allow your leader to share his/her story of conversion.
Because people are born spiritually dead with a sinful nature, one must experience a
conversion to Christ to be saved from sin. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. His
substitutionary death is sufficient to pay for the sins of every person in the world, but it only
works for those who are converted to him. Conversion to Christ takes place when you repent
of sin and place faith in Christ.
Read Acts 20:21 (NT) and Hebrews 6:1 (NT) and write down the two ingredients to conversion
INSIGHT - Repentance is a heart change toward sin. Repentance is a true sorrow for wrong
and a desire to turn away from that wrong. Let’s take an example. Suppose you have to fill out
a time card at work everyday. Suppose you are required to be at work from 8:00 to 5:00.
However, lately you have been arriving about 8:15 and leaving about 4:45. Yet on your time
card you continue to mark down that you are arriving at 8:00 and leaving at 5:00. Obviously
this is lying, stealing from your employer, and your deception is sin against God. You don’t
really worry about it because your supervisor is rarely around at those times and many other
people in the company do it as well. However, a fellow coworker tells you that someone just
got caught lying on their time card and was immediately fired. You get scared, and so you start
reporting accurately. You changed your behavior, but repentance never took place in the heart.
Fear of getting caught changed your behavior. Over time your concern over getting caught
fades, therefore, you begin lying on your time card again. Then one day out of the blue you
become very ashamed of your behavior, and you recognize this is not only sin against your
employer but more importantly, it is sin against God. You sense a deep sorrow in your heart for
committing this sin, and you are sickened by your own deception. You think to yourself, “How
could I do this and have a clear conscience?” Your deep sorrow over what you have done not
only leads you to change your behavior immediately and commit to honesty from this point
forward on your time card, but it compels you to confess your sin to your supervisor (realizing it
may cost you your job). This inner change of heart regarding sin is the nature of repentance.
Repentance is a deep sorrow for sin and a desire to turn away from that sin. When it comes to
conversion to Christ this repentance in heart is over your entire life of sin. It is an
acknowledgment that you have not followed Christ and that you have repeatedly sinned
against God in thought, word, and deed. You also desire to turn from that sinful and selfish
lifestyle and begin following God. Repentance is an inner change in the heart, and it is
necessary to receive God’s forgiveness in Christ.
What do these verses say about repenting?
• Matthew 4:17 (NT)
• Matthew 21:31-32 (NT)
• Acts 17:30 (NT)
Repentance is a heart issue. Repentance is not an action; it is a state of the heart and state of
the will. Genuine repentance from the heart then leads to changed behavior. Once I become
repentant in my heart, that repentance leads to changes in my life. The change in behavior
shows that true repentance has taken place in the mind and heart. You can have a change in
behavior but not have repentance (see the above illustration of the worker who stopped lying
because of fear of getting caught), but you cannot have true repentance without it expressing
itself in changed behavior.
What does the second half of Acts 26:20 (NT) say on the nature and fruit of repentance?
If you want to transfer all your sin to Christ and accept his substitutionary death for you, and if
you want to be forgiven of all your sin by God, you must repent of your sinful lifestyle. There
must be a change in your heart regarding your way of life and a desire to walk a different life
with Christ as your leader. You don’t have to change your behavior (that will come later) but
your heart must change. This repentance, along with faith in Christ, is the means of your
conversion and forgiveness.
Faith in Christ
While repentance is a heart and mind issue, faith in Christ is a heart and mind issue as well.
You have never seen Jesus, you were not there when he was crucified, you never saw him
walk on water, and no one can prove to you beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Bible is
true. No one can prove that Jesus is God, that his substitutionary death and resurrection really
can take away all your sin, and no one can prove that if you believe in him and follow him you
will go to heaven when you die. You have to believe in Christ and believe these things based
on faith, not logical proofs. God the Father forgives us and pours out his grace and mercy on
us when we place our life-changing faith in his son, Jesus Christ. Jesus did it all for us, but we
must place our faith in him to receive the benefit from his crucifixion on the cross.
Faith is being convinced of what cannot be proven, but God does not call us to blind faith.
There is a difference between reasonable faith and blind faith. Faith is only as dependable as
what you’re putting faith in. Although reason and experience can never save us, faith is almost
always preceded by reason and experience. Let’s look at a couple of examples. When you go
home tonight and sit at the kitchen table, you have faith that the kitchen chair will hold you. It is
possible your chair could break as you sit down on it, but you exercise faith. Is that faith based
on reason and experience? Yes it is. The chair is made from quality wood and is in good
shape. Therefore, it makes good sense that it will not break anytime soon. Reason says the
chair is reliable. Every time you have sat in that chair in the past you have been supported,
and you have never noticed any problems with any of the legs. Your faith in the chair is based
on good reason and experience. Nonetheless, it is still faith. It could break. However, if you
had recently noticed a separation in one of the legs or if the chair was very old and began to
feel wobbly, your faith in the chair might not be as strong. Maybe you would doubt the reliability
of the chair. Faith is only as dependable as its object. God has given us good common sense,
and we are to use good sense in determining the dependability in the object of our faith.
When we drive home at night on a two-lane road we also have faith that the oncoming car will
not cross the center line and cause a collision. Again, the dependability of this faith is
dependent on many factors that reason and experience help us evaluate. Is it late at night? Is
the driver a neighbor who often drinks and drives? How is the weather? Is it foggy? What is the
speed of the oncoming car?
Faith in Christ is not a blind faith. It is based on reason and experience. Is the Bible reliable?
Did Jesus even exist? Does believing in God make sense, or does atheism make better
sense? Are people really changed by Christ, are other religions more convincing? These kinds
of questions are not opposed to faith; they are simply precursors to faith. At the end of the day
one must realize that no amount of logic, reason, experience, or proofs will remove all
possibility of doubt. Can we prove that God created this world and that it was not just a cosmic
fluke? No, this requires faith. However, this makes far more sense than the notion that
everything in the world is simply here coincidently by a cosmic explosion. Faith that Christ is
true must take place in the heart. It is faith based on good reason, but nonetheless, it is still
faith. What do these two verses say about this?
• Hebrews 11:1(NT)
• Ephesians 2:8-9(NT).
Here we are told that we are saved from our sins by God’s grace. He doesn’t have to save us,
and his holy justice requires the punishment of our sin. However, his mercy and grace allows
us to be free from our sin because Jesus paid for it on the cross. He took the punishment. The
only way we access God’s grace in Christ is through faith. This is not just faith in anything, but
this is faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. Once we place our faith in Jesus and
commit in our hearts to follow him, at that moment we are converted (even before we do one
godly act). We are then cleansed from all sin. Our faith in Christ removes our sins, places them
on the cross, and we are forever cleansed from guilt. We cannot boast and talk about all the
godly things we have done or all the changes we have made in our lives. God does not take
away our sin because of what we try to do. It is only by faith in Christ that God forgives us.
This repentance in the heart and turning to Christ in faith is the only means to our conversion.
It is the only way we can be saved from hell and the consequences of our sin. The fruit of our
conversion will be a changed lifestyle, but our conversion takes place in the heart before any
Now that you understand God, the seriousness of your sin, and the gospel of repentance and
faith in Christ, God calls you today to repent and turn to Christ in faith. He loves you and
desires a relationship with you both on this earth and in heaven for eternity. He has provided a
way for you. Jesus did what no one else could ever do – die in your place. However, you must
repent of your sin and place your life changing faith in Christ to receive this eternal
forgiveness. If you sense this change and repentance in your heart confess Jesus today as
your Savior. Accept this grace while the offer is still there. You do not know what tomorrow
brings. Will you repent today and turn to Christ, or will you reject him and put him off? Simply
pray, telling God how sorry you are for your sins and your desire to follow Jesus. Make today
your day of forgiveness!
How can I Know where My Relationship with God Stands?
Explain the idea of repentance from Session Six.
Explain the idea of faith in Christ from Session Six.
The Bible says that many people in this world think they are Christians, think they are followers
of Christ, or think they are going to heaven when they die but will be tragically surprised on the
Day of Judgment.
What will Jesus say to many on that Day according to Matthew 7:21-23 (NT)?
Just because someone claims to be a follower of Christ, or believes he has been converted,
does not mean true conversion has taken place. There is no greater tragedy than for someone
to think they have been forgiven when indeed they have not. Churches in this country are full
of professing believers in Christ who are deceived and are no more converted than the atheist
off the street. Church people can often be more self-deceived than non-church people. The
reality is that most people in the world, whether churched or not, believe in some sort of deity
or god. Most people believe they are going to a better place when they die. This is a universal
truth seen in most religions and most people groups throughout the world. Therefore, each of
us must do whatever we can to protect ourselves from this deadly, spiritual self-deception. If I
fooled myself about my eternal destiny I want to be the first to find out, and I want to make sure
I find out before it is too late.
There are many passages of Scripture that communicate how we can know if we have come to
Christ. There are many passages that reveal the external evidences of true conversion to
Christ. As we learned last session true conversion to Christ is a matter of the heart and mind.
Salvation in Christ comes through repentance and faith. These are two things that are inward
experiences and cannot be outwardly seen. However, there are external evidences that reveal
whether an inward conversion has taken place or not.
The Bible teaches genuine repentance of sin and true faith in Christ always leads to changed
behavior and a changed lifestyle. It does not lead to a sinless life, but it does lead to a life of
obedience to Christ. One of the first outward evidences of genuine conversion is a profession
or confession of Christ.
Write down Romans 10:10 (NT).
Here God makes a connection between the inward and the outward. A change or belief takes
place in the heart, and the mouth confesses that change or belief. Therefore, when someone is
converted to Christ in the heart, he/she will then confess Jesus Christ as Savior. The
challenge, however, is that many people in this world do confess Jesus Christ as Savior but
have never experienced a true conversion to Christ in the heart. Repentance and genuine faith
have not occurred. As we will see in this session a major distinction between a self-deceived,
professing Christian and a true follower of Christ is lifestyle. A true believer will live for Christ
and grow spiritually, and a false believer will profess but live like the rest of the world. Here are
several reasons why many people may think they are Christians, but because their lifestyle
does not reflect it are still unconverted:
• They grew up going to church and have a biblical foundation
• They go to church on a regular basis now
• They believe in the Bible
• They believe in Jesus
• They responded to an invitation to become a Christian at a church service
• They said they were sorry for their sins and asked Jesus to be their Savior
• They try to treat others the way they want to be treated
• They try to do the right thing in life
• They believe in God
• They believe they have done nothing bad enough to prevent them from going to heaven
There are many more reasons people believe they are Christians and believe they will go to
heaven when they die. Many of the above beliefs or practices are good and even biblical;
however, none of them on their own guarantee true conversion to Christ has taken place.
Repentance of sin, and faith in Christ, are the necessary ingredients to a true conversion in the
heart. Many people in our society grew up believing in Jesus or had an experience where they
prayed, asking Jesus to be their Savior. Even these are not assurances that genuine
conversion has taken place in the heart. Churches today are filled with professing Christians
who are as spiritually lost as anyone else in the world. What criteria does the Bible use to show
us the difference between a professing Christian and a possessing Christian? How can I be
protected against my own self-deception? The following passages will communicate one of the
major distinguishing factors.
Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 (NT). Jesus teaches his disciples a parable about what happens
when people hear the gospel and the message of God’s forgiveness in Christ. Some people
just do not understand the gospel. Others understand it but are not interested. Some people
receive it, and make a profession of faith, but later fall away and revert back to their old
lifestyle. However, some people receive the gospel, truly repent and place faith in Christ, and
experience a changed life over time. Read this passage and summarize the teaching of this
parable in your own words.
Read James 2:14-26 (NT). What message is God communicating in this passage about the
relationship between faith and deeds?
One of the examples given in the passage is that some people believe in God, and therefore,
think this is sufficient for God to forgive them. Is belief in facts about God enough? Copy the
answer given in verse 19.
What we see in these passages is that the difference between a true follower of Christ and one
who professes Christ but is self-deceived in lifestyle. Deeds, fruit, a changed life, works, etc. all
refer to the outward lifestyle of a professing believer. Can a person be genuinely converted and
yet not worship him consistently in church, never seek him through personal reading of the
Bible, not talk about him to others, not pray to him regularly, not be continually convicted of sin
and repenting of it, not love others selflessly, not desire others to become Christians, and not
desire to obey him in life? Can a person be genuinely converted to Christ and morally blend in
with the rest of the world? Can a person repent of sin and yet never change? The answer
according to the Bible is no? Looking at the outward life helps indicate if an inward conversion
has taken place. Followers of Christ do, in fact, follow Christ in life. This is what follower
means. True converts of Christ still sin and are certainly not perfect, but there is a lifestyle
difference between the authentic and the deceived. True conversion to Christ leads to an
overall lifestyle change of obedience.
Read I John 2:3-6 (NT). This passage is addressing the question, “How do I know if I have
come to know Christ (how do I know if I have been genuinely converted)?” What is the answer
according to verse 3?
Obedience to Christ is the evaluating marker. The Bible teaches us that genuine conversion to
Christ through repentance and faith is an inward transformation of the heart. God changes
your heart when you are converted to him. This is something we cannot see, but the moment
God transforms our heart, that is the moment we are forgiven, cleansed, and assured heaven
when we die. Even though we cannot see this inward transformation what we do see over time
is a lifestyle change that reflects a new love for God. While new believers in Christ do not
change overnight they will in time reflect a changed life as the outward fruit of an inward
change. If this lifestyle change does not eventually happen over time, or if it only lasts for a
certain timeframe, the probable conclusion is that genuine conversion has not taken place.
With spiritual birth always comes spiritual growth. People spiritually grow at different paces in
life, but if birth has taken place, growth is inevitable.
TEEN STORY - 16 year old
“I have always gone to church. In my community, it’s just what you do. Everyone
goes. Not only did I go to church but I went to youth group and other meetings
too. I thought I had it all together through middle school. In high school though,
things really began to change. The people I was hanging out with changed and I
was changing with them. I drank a little and got caught smoking pot. I had a
change to look back at my faith and see what was there and if it meant anything
to me. I mean, if I did all of the church stuff why did I still drink and smoke pot? I
didn’t get it. Then I remembered what one of the youth directors told me my 8th
grade year. He said that unless I focused on my relationship with Christ and truly
lived my life that way, I would find myself making decisions based on what was
the most popular choice right then and because of that, I was making a lot of bad
decisions. I sent him a Myspace message and asked him to help but didn’t know
if he would because I didn’t care when he told me last time. He did care. He
helped me get Christ back to the center of my life and I am living a new life I
never thought I would live. My friends now know that my decisions are based on
my faith, not my popularity. More importantly, I’ve started working with some of
those same friends who got in trouble with me. Together, we are living life the
right way ...focused on Christ. That doesn’t mean that we have it all together but
we are trying and continue to rely on Christ and what he teaches each and every
Read 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NT). Explain in your own words what everyone has a responsibility to
*Take the time to examine yourself. Would you say that you are “in the faith” (truly converted)?
Explain the reasons for your answer.
Everyone in life is on some type of faith journey. You were on a faith journey when you started
this Bible study, and now you have a biblical and much better understanding of your journey.
Maybe you were a true follower of Christ when you started this study or maybe you simply
thought you were. Everyone fits somewhere on the following chart. What line are you at today?
Place a T where you believe you are spiritually today. Place a B on the line where you were
just before starting this study.
Your Faith Journey
Obedient Servant in God’s Kingdom (loving God and loving others)
Comprehensive and Consistent Growth (begin to surrender all of life under Christ)
Growth Lifestyle Change (patterns of godly living begin to form)
Baby Christian (new to the faith – learning how to live for Christ)
Conversion to Christ — Genuine Repentance and Personal Faith in Jesus Christ
Crisis (ready to repent and turn to Christ)
Recognition of need for Conversion to Christ (realization of spiritual lostness)
Unconverted Intellectual Belief in Christ (but no life commitment)
Universal God (everyone knows God personally in their own way)
Atheist or Agnostic (God does not exist or does exist but we cannot know him)
*If your answer is ‘no’ to the question just above the chart (or if you placed a T under the
Conversion to Christ line), are you willing to repent today and place life saving faith in Jesus
Christ? If you are not, what is holding you back?
Evaluating your spiritual condition before God is the most important thing you will ever do. Now
that you have studied the gospel you can evaluate yourself biblically in truth. If you have not
experienced genuine conversion to Christ, make today that day. Through repentance and
personal faith in Jesus you can be forgiven of your sins and experience genuine conversion.
Simply communicate to God your repentance and faith in Christ in a prayer, and allow him to
take control of your life. Do not let another day go by lost and on you’re way to hell. Jesus is
calling you to come to him today. Not making a decision is making the decision to reject him,
for yet another day. Jesus paid for your sins, if you are willing to come to him in biblical faith.
Make today the day of your salvation!
How Free and Forgiven am I in Christ?
This is the concluding session of this eight session Bible study. What an exciting journey it has
been! Maybe you already were a follower of Christ before you started this study, or maybe you
were a new believer. Perhaps you thought you were a Christian but were self-deceived when
you started this study, or maybe you were an investigator of the gospel. We are all on a
journey of faith. You have studied the gospel account directly from its foundational source, the
Bible. You have not studied this second-hand, but you have opened and studied the Bible
yourself. You now have a first-hand understanding of what God communicates about himself,
about you, about your sin, about the eternal consequences of sin, about the need for a
substitute, about Jesus, about his holiness and his love, and about what you need to do to
receive complete forgiveness from God. You have also learned some of the beginning pillars of
developing a biblical worldview. A few of these are: God is the creator of all things, God is a
communicator to his people, and God is holy. These truths as well as many more have helped
shape an overall understanding of life from a God-centered point of view. This foundation,
however, is just the beginning for you.
Write out the three most significant things you learned from this study that impacted you the
Allow your leader to share a couple things he/she appreciated the most while studying these
Go back to Session Seven and reread the answer you gave to the last two questions (with the
* in front of them). If you answered no, have you thought more about what is holding you back
from repenting of your sins? Would you be willing to repent and place faith in Jesus today?
Explain your answer.
The hope is that this study either confirmed your conversion to Christ and helped ground your
faith in a deeper foundation, or was the instrument God used to bring you to Christ. This
session will now focus on the magnificent truth of what the forgiveness of God really means. It
is only when we understand the depth and magnitude of our sin that we really come to