Shyju Mathew's 30 Days of Bible Basics


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Shyju Mathew's 30 Days of Bible Basics

  1. 1. IntroductionGUARDING THE HEART “The key is not in the memorizing or simply studying the Word of God but Greetings to allow it to become an integral part of one’s life. Study the Word of God till It is with great pleasure that I write to you. This it becomes the database for your book does not come to you by accident. We personal opinions in life.” believe that the Holy Spirit wants to equip, how we do with our guest posts) as the objective empower and energize you for His glory. of these posts is to serve as training material. The idea to create a resource to empower a new However, we are extremely grateful to all the believer significantly has been in our hearts for a authors who have partnered with this mission to long time now. Our search for this one resource equip the body of Christ. that would work as a basic foundation for a new believer caused us to dive headlong into this My sincere thanks to Richard Chamberlain project. (UK), Jason James (USA), Tayron Corera (Canada), Priji Varghese, Cleophas David, Even though we initially planned to use this Sheldon Bangera book for our ministry crusades, we decided that putting it up online would help thousands others Thanks to SMMinistries editors who have who may not be able to meet us in person. pooled in their very best, Virginia Pereira, Rathi Quinton and Kim Kumar. Special thanks to the This book will guide a believer on a 30 day walk SMM team who work behind the scenes on through the Word of God to fully grasp every project. elementary but essential Christian foundational teaching and equip them in their continuing At the end of this, we would love to hear from walk with Jesus! you and how this series has blessed you. With the help of other sincere, committed and May the Lord lead you and cause His face to passionate Bible teachers, the Lord blessed us shine on you. with this book. Sincerely, We have intentionally avoided mentioning the Rev. Shyju Mathew names of the author above each posts,(unlike © Shyju Mathew Ministries, All rights reserved. All scripture references from ESV, unless specified otherwise. The vision of Guarding the Heart Blog is to provide content that will empower your walk with Jesus. Some of the topics that we cover are spiritual growth, leadership, ministry,  equipping the church, motivational, marriage, parenting, relationships, useful tips and tools. Subscribe for free to receive the blog in your inbox. 2
  2. 2. GUARDING THE Day 1 The Father, Son & the Holy Spirit “ The Father sent Jesus into the world; Jesus introduced them to Holy Spirit who in turn brings them back to Jesus; and Jesus leads them to the Father. There is such a beautiful, mutual understanding and submission within the Trinity. And it is the prayer of Jesus that we be one as They are One. This is exactly how our communities, churches and families are meant to be. 3
  3. 3. GUARDING THE HEART The Father, Son & the Holy Spirit Understanding The Trinity “That they may be one as we are one” (John 1:1), and the Holy Ghost; and these three are 17:21). one.” This verse presents to us the strong desire and (Anything to be established as doctrine should prayer of Jesus. have been foreshadowed in the Old Testament, taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, and be a part The word “Trinity” is originally derived from the of the theology formed by the disciples of Jesus Latin root word Trinitas meaning a “triad”. in the Epistles.) Tertullian, a Latin theologian from the 3rd century, was the first person to use the word Nature of the Trinity Trinity in relation to the Godhead. Later in 325 AD, the first Council of Nicaea established the Now that we have observed Scriptural doctrine of Trinity with the publishing of the references for the Father, the Son and the Holy Nicene Creed. Spirit, it is important for us to also understand their nature. Biblical Understanding They are one in essence, attributes and power. The theology of the Trinity is first revealed in the None is more or less powerful. Just like the Scriptures in the creation story. There were Father; the Son and the Holy Spirit are also three persons involved at creation: The Father eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, (Gen. 1:1); the Son (the spoken Word of God; infinitely wise, loving, kind and merciful. Gen. 1:3, John 1:1, Col. 1:16); and the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2). Then, we see a conversation How the Trinity Works among the Trinity in Gen. 1:26: “Let US make man in OUR own image, after OUR likeness.”  God loves the fellowship of human beings, but God is not at all dependent on us for fellowship We see the same presence of the Trinity later at because there is perfect fellowship among the the baptism of Jesus Christ: The Father spoke Trinity itself. There is absolute love, joy and from Heaven and the Holy Spirit descended on peace within the Godhead. Jesus in the form of a dove! Jesus further established the doctrine of the Trinity in United: There is complete unity in the motive Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore and teach all and actions of the Father, the Son and the Holy nations baptizing them in the name of the Spirit. They are completely submissive to each Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” other to the extent that they are completely one in the very literal sense. Apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelation after a vision of Heaven, further Like Jesus said: “If you have seen Me, you have propagated this understanding of the Trinity in seen the Father” (John 14). Furthermore, Jesus his statement: Grace be unto you from Him (the promised that He will never leave the disciples, Father),… the seven Spirits (the Holy Spirit),… and sent the Holy Spirit to be with them until and from Jesus Christ… (the Son) (Rev. 1:4,5). the very end. That is how identical and united John firmly establishes the doctrine of the Trinity they are. in 1 John 5:7: “There are three that bear record in Heaven; the Father, the Word (Jesus; John 4
  4. 4. GUARDING THE HEART Yet Distinct: Although there is absolute The fact is that the Hebrew word used in this oneness in the personality and Will of the Trinity, verse is “Echad” which stands for unity or there are differences in their respective oneness rather than the number ‘one’ which is functions. “Aleph” in Hebrew. With this understanding, it is clear that Deuteronomy 6:4 refers to the A basic way of understanding the Trinity is oneness of God and not the one person of through the use of a metaphor involving the God. sun, light and heat. From the sun comes the light; we see it and when we don’t see it, we 4. God exists in three different forms or feel its heat. All these three are inclusive; yet, names. Absolutely incorrect. This is also have their own individual characteristics. another wrong understanding because we see the presence of the three different persons at Right from creation to redemption, and to the the same time in the same place at different resurrection; the Father, the Son and the Holy places right from creation to the resurrection. Spirit have completely different roles, making it clear that they are three distinct persons. 5. The Father is an angry and cruel person while Jesus is loving and kind and the Holy Common Misconceptions Spirit is their servant. Absolutely incorrect. As we discussed earlier, the Father, the Son and 1. Since the explicit mention of the word the Holy Spirit is completely one in their nature; “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, it is not a infinitely loving and kind! You will see God Biblical doctrine. Absolutely incorrect. The showing mercy, forgiveness, love and word “gravitation” was not part of the English judgement in the Old Testament as you will see Dictionary until Newton came up with his laws in the New Testament too. of motion. That doesn’t mean that the gravitational force did not exist all along. Conclusion Newton only gave a name to that which already existed. The same applies here; we have only You will see the the ultimate expression of the given a name to the Triune nature of God! relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in John 14. The Father sent 2. The Trinity is the Father, the Mother Jesus into the world; Jesus introduced them to (Mary, who was the mother of Jesus on Holy Spirit who in turn brings them back to earth), and the Son. Absolutely incorrect. This Jesus; and Jesus leads them to the Father. concept is not based on the Word of God. There is such a beautiful, mutual understanding Mary was only a carrier of what God had and submission within the Trinity. predestined and she had no direct involvement with the Trinity whatsoever. She was chosen to And it is the prayer of Jesus that we be one as manifest Jesus on the earth; period. They are One. This is exactly how our communities, churches and families are meant 3. The Trinity contradicts the verse in to be. Deuteronomy 6:4. Absolutely incorrect. This is an argument posed by Zakir Naik, who is an Click here to visit or leave a comment on this Indian public speaker on the topic of Islam. He post online. is featured at many Islamic conferences and debates the accuracy of the Word of God, specifically taking issue with Deuteronomy 6:4 that states that God is one. 5
  5. 5. GUARDING THE Day 2 The Father God “ Resting securely in the love of God is a birthright of every believer. You can be confident that your Father loves you constantly with an unchanging love (Rom. 8:39). God declares that in His love, He wants to be involved in every area of your life. There is nothing you do that God does not care about. 6
  6. 6. GUARDING THE HEART The Father - Heart of God As you grow spiritually, God’s desire is that you prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Here, the increasingly know Him as Father and His son runs away from his home and family, Father-heart in your life each day. wasting his time and money in sinful rebellion. When he realises his One of the great declarations of the Bible is that foolishness, the son returns expecting God is Our Father. The Bible tells us of the shame and condemnation from his amazing closeness, intimacy, warmth and father. Instead, the father is shown to tender-heartedness of God, Our Father. When have been looking every day for his son received through faith in Jesus Christ and acted to come back, and upon seeing him, the upon, this truth gives amazing freedom and father runs to him, lavishing him with power in our lives as believers. extravagant love and gifts. Never forget this picture of the Father’s love for you: Unfortunately in societies around the world God will never forget you, reject you, today, there are many “fathers” but few “good and always desires that you will come fathers.” This lack of knowing what a home to Him. father signifies has led to many believers 2 Jesus taught us to pray to God as rejecting, or not fully receiving, the Father-heart Father (Matt. 6:9ff). Prayer is time spent of God. Do not let the devil steal away the joy of in the presence of the Father. It is not knowing your true Heavenly Father. Remember only talking to Him but listening to His that even if you had a poor worldly father you voice; it is a two-way conversation. Our can know and experience the amazing love and Father wants you to spend time in His care of your Father in Heaven. presence; praising, worshiping and communing with Him. He never ignores As you start to read, I want you to pray this you, and He loves to hear your voice. prayer: 3 Jesus and Paul both declared that God is not just Father, but Abba. Abba is an “Loving Heavenly Father, the Bible tells me of Aramaic word which has no simple Your abundant love and care for me. Please explanation in English, but is often said forgive me for any wrong ideas I have about to mean “daddy” (Mk. 14:36, Rom. You as my Father. Renew my mind and correct 8:15). my thinking, so that I might delight in Your love as much as You delight in loving me. Amen.” One person put it like this: “It is easier to explain Abba using the Italian language by looking at the word “Papa”. This is Now, we are ready to begin looking at what the a real word very young children use for their Bible says about the Father-heart of our Father Fathers and is pretty easy for them to say and in Heaven. is a term of great love and endearment. However, the very same word “Papa” is used 1. God as Our Father is Revealed in the for the Pope, someone the Italians particularly Bible hold in great esteem. The word Papa therefore holds huge honour and a magnificence and The New Testament is full of passages reverence in that context and one of great declaring God to be Our loving Heavenly intimacy and familiarity in the other.” Father. Allow me to quote three important aspects of this: God wants us to know the intimacy of Him like a small child does with their dad, but also to 1 One of the best known pictures of God understand that Our Dad is the Creator of the as Father is seen in the parable of the universe. He is mighty, powerful, awesome 7
  7. 7. GUARDING THE HEART living God. Allow God to soften your heart so - It means you are forgiven by Our Father that you can call Him “Dad” and know that He looks upon you with favour and listens to your You must live each day knowing that God is voice with delight. ready and willing to forgive your sins (1 Jn. 1:7-9). Yet, living in the forgiveness of God is at 2. Living Out the Father-heart of God times tremendously challenging. We feel down because of the mistakes and sin in our lives. Knowing that God is Our Father is much more But failing to ask for and not receive God’s than just knowing some verses from the Bible; it forgiveness can be crippling to your walk with is a truth that should change our lives. Below God. When you sin, remember you have a are five out-workings of the fact that God’s Father who loves you unconditionally and is Father-heart is constantly towards us. waiting for you to turn back to Him. He loves to forgive you. - It means we are constantly loved by Our Father - It means you will be disciplined by Our Father Resting securely in the love of God is a birthright of every believer. You can be confident In Hebrews 12:5-11, the Scripture talks about that your Father loves you constantly with an Our Heavenly Father loving us so much that He unchanging love (Rom. 8:39). God declares that will discipline and correct us at times. Our in His love, He wants to be involved in every earthly fathers corrected us so that we would area of your life. There is nothing you do that live in the best way possible. Likewise, God God does not care about. disciplines us so that we might become more and more like Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18). This takes - It means we will be provided for by Our place in various ways: As you read the Bible Father and realise you have been walking in some way that is displeasing to God; as a conviction or Becoming a part of the family of God means thought placed in your mind by the Holy Spirit, that your Father provides for you in many ways, etc. In fact there are all sorts of ways our Father for example: speaks with us to make sure we live the abundant life He has promised (Jn. 10:10). If 1 Your daily food – Jesus taught us to you are ever in doubt here, then ask someone pray in faith - “Give us this day our daily who is older and more experienced what they bread” – knowing that Our Faithful think. Based on the Bible, they will be able to Father will provide as we ask (Matt. guide and advise you. 6:11). 2 His Presence – God does not leave you  - It means there is a hope and a future to walk alone but gives you the Holy Spirit, the living presence of God within There is no need to fear the future, or to fear you. Lk. 11:13, “…how much more will death; for through our faith in Jesus, God our the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit Father declares that there is an eternal home for to those who ask Him.” us in Heaven. When this life ends, we shall be 3 Gifts – In order to do the work the welcomed into Heaven! This gives our hearts Father calls us to do, He equips us, great peace and security, for we know that we giving us gifts so that we can do His have believed and trusted our Father while living work, in His power, for His glory (1 Cor. here on Earth. As we move on to Heaven,  we 12:1-11). can be sure that Jesus has prepared a place for us (Jn. 14:2) and He will welcome us. 8
  8. 8. GUARDING THE HEART In Closing Knowing the Father-heart of God is a source of great peace and great power in your walk as a believer. The devil will try to convince you of all sorts of rubbish; that God doesn’t care at times; that your sins are too great to be forgiven; that God doesn’t love you… I could go on but what is important is that you know and take hold of the fact that God’s Father-heart reveals all those things to be lies. God loves you and is calling you to greater intimacy; to a deeper knowledge of Him and His ways; to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Father, come and invade my heart with Your loving Presence. Heal my hurts; cast out my anxious thoughts. Let Your peace reign over all my life. Fill me afresh with Your wonderful Spirit so that I might live each day knowing the Father whose heart is always towards me. Amen. Click here to visit or leave a comment on this post online. 9
  9. 9. GUARDING THE Day 3 Who is Jesus? “ He is the Hope of humankind. Whether He is laying in a manger or walking on water, He exudes a greatness that grips our attention. There is no one who hated sin more, and no one who loved the sinner more. He was so authoritative that demons would flee from Him; yet, so gentle that children would come to Him. 10
  10. 10. Who is Jesus?GUARDING THE HEART Everyone must come to a decision about Him. Either this Man was, and is, the Son of God, or There is no middle ground we can take. While else a madman or something worse. You can some have dismissed Jesus as a fictional shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and character, others have attempted to portray kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet Him as merely a good teacher. However, both and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being of these assumptions are terribly inconsistent. a great human teacher. He has not left that The truth is, there is no person in human history open to us.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity). like the person of Jesus Christ. No serious historian would doubt his existence without We would never dream of viewing a man, who risking his own credibility. had claimed to be before Abraham (John 8:58), as having the authority to forgive sins (Mark Considering that we have more historical 2:9-11); or He who refers to Himself as the only documentation on Jesus Christ than anyone way to the Father as merely a good teacher else in history is staggering. Consider for a (John 14:6). Jesus’ claims are far too bold to moment that a person as widely accepted as dismiss Him as such. So, who is He? Alexander the Great has five ancient sources dated 300 years after his death to attest to his He is the Hope of humankind. Whether He is existence. laying in a manger or walking on water, He exudes a greatness that grips our attention. On the other hand, not only have several non- There is no one who hated sin more, and no Christian sources affirmed the existence of one who loved the sinner more. He was so Jesus, but there are over 24,000 complete or authoritative that demons would flee from Him; partial manuscripts dated within 30 years of His yet, so gentle that children would come to Him. resurrection that attest to His existence. To deny His existence while affirming the existence Indeed, there is no one in all of human history of anyone else in history is tragically like Jesus. When sin had created a chasm that inconsistent. we could not cross and we were incapable of reaching out to God, God came to us. Jesus Therefore, one cannot question whether or not took the penalty of sin that was due to us and He really existed; now is the time to decide bore the wrath of God so that we may be what to do with Him. This is where C.S. Lewis saved. can be very helpful to us. Lewis famously suggested that we must decide what to do with In fact, the Father made Jesus, who never Jesus, but our choices are limited. We must knew sin, to become sin on our behalf so that decide whether Jesus is a liar, Lord, or lunatic. we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). So He took our sins, Lewis writes, “I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that and as a result, we wear His perfection. This is people often say about Him: I’m ready to the Gospel; and it is truly remarkable. accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. As Tim Keller writes, “The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially That is the one thing we must not say. A man news.” (The King’s Cross). At the heart of who was merely a man and said the sort of Christianity is not advice on how you can reach things Jesus said would not be a great moral God, but news about what God has done in teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the history to reach out to you; and He still opens level with the man who says He is a poached His arms to anyone who wishes to come to egg — or else He would be the Devil of Hell. Him. [Click here, to view the post online.] You must make your choice. 11
  11. 11. GUARDING THE Day 4 Who is the Holy Spirit? “ The Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world, even from the time of creation. We are weak and fragile by ourselves, but the Holy Spirit is Our Helper and will teach us to walk in holiness for Him. 12
  12. 12. GUARDING THE HEART The Holy Spirit Third Person in the Trinity - Your Helper! Rev. David Yonggi Cho, Senior Pastor in one of Jesus had to die on the cross for the the world’s largest churches (with more than redemption of the humanity. 800,000 members) said: Every morning when I awake, I greet the Holy Spirit and invite Him to After His resurrection from the grave, Jesus go with me through the day and take the lead in promised His disciples the power of the Holy all my affairs, and He does. I say, “Good Spirit as He was taken up to the Heaven. And morning Holy Spirit. Let’s work together today the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the and I will be Your vessel.” Every evening before Book of Acts, Chapter 2. Ever since, the Holy retiring I say again, “It’s been a wonderful day Spirit has been closely working with us those working with You, Holy Spirit.” who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. See, John 14:15–17, 25–26; 15:26–27; 16:7– Who is the Holy Spirit? 15. The Holy Spirit is God. Although the Holy Spirit Ineffective Without The Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of God, it does not mean that the Holy Spirit is created by God, but As we live on this earth, we must realize that we because the Spirit is of God. The same way are ineffective without the Holy Spirit. That is that the Son of God is equally eternal with the why Jesus commanded His disciples to “wait Father, so is the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11). until you receive the Holy Spirit.” This makes the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit one. (See more here on Trinity). We are weak and fragile by ourselves, but the Holy Spirit is Our Helper and will teach us to What the Holy Spirit is Not? walk in holiness for Him. The Holy Spirit is not an it, a thing, a force, a Just like Rev. David Yonggi Cho said: Allow the voice or a bird. Although the Holy Spirit is Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you today. compared to and manifested as a fire, dove, Desire for a close, intimate relationship with the wind and so on, the Holy Spirit is not an Holy Spirit today. impersonal force. Click here to view and discuss the post online. Jesus calls Him “Counselor” (John 14:16). In John 14:17, Jesus says, “You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” In John 14: 26, Jesus describes Holy Spirit as a “Teacher.” Holy Spirit and Man The Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world, even from the time of creation. But with the fall of man at the birth of sin at the garden of Eden, the Holy Spirit withdrew from man. The consequence of sin was that all humanity faced an eternal, spiritual death. That is why 13
  13. 13. GUARDING THE Day 5 Spirit, Soul and Body “ This human spirit which was breathed and birthed into us by the Spirit of God dictates our soul and our body as we learn to continually walk with God. It is in the absence of this spirit that evil spirits take over and control a person’s soul and mind, leading him into sin and bondage (Matt. 12:43-45). 14
  14. 14. Spirit, Soul and BodyGUARDING THE HEART Now that we have acquired a better and likeness, we are also spirits. We have a understanding of the person of God during the soul and we live in a body! first segment of this series, our study will focus on how we were created by God; separated by Our Body sin; and saved by His grace. Although we are spiritual beings, we live in a Created in His Image physical world. We need this body to be sensitive to the things of this physical world. It is Humanity came into existence when God said, our body that helps us to exist here in the “Let us make man in our image, after our physical world. It is our temporary home. And likeness. And let them have dominion over the hence, anything we do with our bodies affects fish of the sea and over the birds of the our spiritual lives as well. That is why the Bible heavens and over the livestock and over all the says: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, earth and over every creeping thing that creeps holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1).Our on the earth.” So God created man in His own body is prone to sin, and so our flesh fights the image, in the image of God He created him; things of the Spirit. That is why – in Apostle male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26, Paul’s language – we will need the imperishable 27). God created man in His image and body: “Behold! I tell you a mystery… in a likeness. moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet… the dead will be raised imperishable, But have you ever wondered what it means to and we shall be changed. be created in God’s likeness? Does it mean that we are all tiny god entities like the pantheists For this perishable body must put on the believe? Or does it mean that God has a imperishable, and this mortal body must put on physical body with two hands, two feet and immortality” (1 Cor. 15:51-53). This body will be other characteristics as humans do? like Jesus’ body after His resurrection that can allow us to, for instance, defy gravity and the Man was created on the sixth day of “Creation laws of physics, and even travel millions of Week”. It was on the same day that God miles within a fraction of a second! (Now that’s created animals and reptiles too. And God said, some fun that sounds like it’s straight out of a “Let the earth bring forth living creatures sci-fi movie – imagine walking through closed according to their kinds– livestock and creeping doors, etc. – that would be quite an interesting things and beasts of the earth according to experience!). their kinds.” And it was so (Gen. 1:24). Or in other words, the living creatures were formed of Our Soul earth! This means to say that God used the same raw material for both humans and the The soul of a human being consists of his/her animals.So then, how was man any different emotions, will power, reasoning capabilities, from the animals? It lies in the fact that God intelligence, conscience, etc. — all of which didn’t finish with man until He breathed life into stay in continuous stages of evolution, and him. “And the LORD God formed man of the mature on the basis of his family upbringing and dust of the ground, and breathed into his the influence of friends, society, culture, and so nostrils the breath of life; and man became a on and so forth. The human mind, which is also living soul” (Gen. 2:7). God had breathed His a part of our soul, is a very important aspect of Spirit into man. And it was at that moment that our life. A commandment in the Old Testament man became a living being!Now God is a Spirit, reads: “You shall love the LORD your God with (John 4:24). Since we are made in His image all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5). 15
  15. 15. However, Jesus – when quoting the same The only criterion to be “born of the Spirit” is toGUARDING THE HEART commandment – added “the mind” to the list: believe in Jesus. “If you confess with your “And you shall love the Lord your God with all mouth (body) that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart and with all your soul and with all your heart (soul) that God raised him from the your mind and with all your strength,” (Mark dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). The 12:30), giving significance to loving God with salvation, or in other words, the born-again our mind. experience is basically surrendering your body and your soul to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It Our thinking and logical reasoning have to is at that moment that the Spirit of God gives evolve and progress from the old “Adamic” birth to your spirit. style of thoughts into something refined and profound, like how Jesus would think (Rom. This human spirit which was breathed and 12:2). I quote Shyju here, “A man is not greater birthed into us by the Spirit of God dictates our than his thought life” because as a man thinks soul and our body as we learn to continually so he is (Prov. 23:7). The renewal of the mind walk with God. It is in the absence of this spirit comes with constantly meditating on the Word that evil spirits take over and control a person’s of God. We have to reach a place where we soul and mind, leading him into sin and can confess as the Apostle Paul did that we bondage (Matt. 12:43-45). also have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Your spirit is your inner man. The more you feed your spirit, the stronger your inner man will be The human heart is also a key aspect of our and the more your spirit will dictate terms to soul. That is where our emotions, our will power your soul and your body. Whatever you feed and our desires live. That is why the Bible says, more will dictate terms for the other. For e.g., if “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it you eat too much, your body will expect some flows the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). The state relaxation, in turn overruling your mind’s of our heart determines our attitude towards life schedule and your spirit’s leading. If you feed and people around us. That is why it is so your mind with too much of television, it will important to guard our hearts. Our hearts can start to rule over your body and your spirit! be hurt very easily, but it can’t be healed as Since you are not a body or a soul, but a spirit, easily without a touch from God. you should not allow anyone or anything to have control. Allow the Spirit of God to control Our Spirit your spirit This is who we are! We are spirit beings! If our “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify spirit is not alive, we are not alive either (Jam. you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul 2:26). What happened in the Garden of Eden and body be kept blameless until the coming of when sin entered humanity was the death of our Lord Jesus Christ”  – (1 Thess. 5:23). the human spirit. Click here to view and discuss the post online. And that is why each one of us needs to be born again. This birth is a spiritual birth. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). We have to be born of the Spirit of God! 16
  16. 16. GUARDING THE Day 6 What is Sin? “ “The Gospel is this:  that I am far worse than I imagine and simultaneously more loved and accepted by God than I ever dared hope for – because of Jesus’ death for me.” 17
  17. 17. GUARDING THE HEART What is Sin? And how to overcome it! It is a topic that is familiar to us all. Even those because we were born sinners. We came into we consider to be invincible in spirituality have the world, before we even took a breath, been vulnerable to this poison; and all of us completely fallen and needing God’s grace. have drowned in it. What is sin? That is why the Psalmist says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother Sin:  An immoral act against a divine law. conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5). There is no one who does good. No not one (Psalm 53). Every Some have also defined this way:  Sin is a one of us needs God’s mercy, because we failure to let God be God and placing have all fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). something or someone in God’s rightful place of supremacy. There are times when we cherish This is crucial that we understand this, because money, possessions, ambitions, other it will affect the way that we seek hope. If you relationships, and much more above the glory believe that the problem is really a lack of of God. There are times when we try to be the education, then you will just try educating god of our own lives and not joyfully submit to yourself for change. However, if the problem Jesus; and most of the time, we disobey really is within us, as the Bible says, then there willingly and repeatedly. We exchange the glory must be a radical transformation that has to of the Creator for the glory of created things come from outside of us. We must realize that (Romans 1:18-25). our will was broken in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), and that is precisely why we can The Problem: Why Do We Sin? never simply will ourselves to victory – because we would be using what is broken to fix what is We all have experienced it. We know what we broken. That is why God must intervene. ought to do, but are unable to do it. We can make goals and plans and profess how we will The Solution: The Gospel of Jesus Christ change, but it nearly always ends in failure. The reason we are so disappointed is because we Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel misunderstand sin. We typically think of sin as for it IS the power of God for salvation (Romans an action, something that we do. However, 1:16). The Gospel is the power of God for scripture also talks about sin as something that salvation, transformation, and joyful fellowship actually exists in us. with God. When we believe the Gospel, that Jesus finished it all, and that there is nothing - It is parasitic in nature and is out to devour us else that we can do to earn God’s approval, (Romans 7:11) make Him love us more or less, we are transformed. True repentance is having a - It takes root and kills us (James 1:14-15) revelation of what Christ has done, and turning away from our sin as a result. - It seeks to control us (Romans 7:20) The word repent in Greek (meta-noeo) actually - The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) means to feel remorse for an action and change directions as a result. However, it is not Therefore, sin is not merely something that we something that is purely emotional. In fact, the just do. As some have said, it is not that we are word in Greek can be sliced right down the sinners because we sin, but that we sin middle, and two root words can be found. 18
  18. 18. GUARDING THE HEART The first part of the word meaning, “after” and the second part sharing the root for, “knowledge.” What is implied is that there is remorse, and a change in direction, but as the result of having some sort of revelation. It is to change one’s direction or path after obtaining knowledge – conviction: that we are fallen, that God is an infinitely holy God, and He has come near to us in Jesus Christ. What joy there is in that! In this life, we will continue to struggle with sin, as God is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus. However, when we come to the cross, we are deeply convicted of our sin, and deeply encouraged by the immeasurable love of Jesus, who was willing to die for us. We realize that there was nothing we could do to help ourselves, and yet God was willing to come to us. We are joyfully humbled that Christ lovingly took our shame, and we get a righteousness that is not our own (Philippians 3:5-11). Because of Jesus, we are treated as people who have never broken the law, not even once. Not- Even- Once. As Tim Keller once noted, “The Gospel is this:  that I am far worse than I imagine and simultaneously more loved and accepted by God than I ever dared hope for – because of Jesus’ death for me.” Click here to view and discuss the post online. 19
  19. 19. GUARDING THE Day 7 What Did Jesus Do For Me? “ There is nothing that can make God love you more or love you less than He does right now. There is nothing that can make Him accept you more or accept you less. Everything that needed to be done has been done. 20
  20. 20. GUARDING THE HEART What Did Jesus Do For Me? Surprisingly, many Christians have never been 1:13). We may, like the Israelites who stood at told what Jesus has accomplished for them. To the foot of Sinai, boldly believe that we can be sure, they know that Christ has died, and obey God in our own strength (Exodus 19:8), rose again, but hardly know how this incredible but we will fall short, as we always have historical act affects them presently and in the (Romans 3:23). future.  Yes. He did. As a result, some of us, when thinking about the death of Christ, either feel guilt that He However, Jesus obeyed. would pay such a price for us, or do not know what to make of any of it at all; but it is far too When the Father demanded perfect obedience, wonderful to NOT know. Jesus did what we could not do. He lived perfectly, obeying the Father in everything, even So, what did Jesus do? to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). He was tempted in every way, but No You Can’t. without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He succeeded where Adam, Israel, and we failed. Ever since the Garden of Eden, we have been incapable of doing well. Having come into this Therefore, when we are in Christ, we are not world with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5), the treated as sinners who deserve the wrath of human heart proved to be desperately wicked God. We are treated like people who have (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, when God looks down never broken the law. For God made Jesus, upon the earth to see if there are any who are who never sinned, to be treated like a sinner, so wise, who seek after God, He finds no one that you and I would receive a righteousness (Romans 3:9-20). that is not our own (Philippians 3:8-9), that we would become the righteousness of God (2 Now, some may protest, “But there are so Corinthians 5:21). many good people in the world!” However, in response, the question is, “Good compared to Take a moment and let that sink in. who?” Your sins have been punished. It is not that To your circle of friends? Maybe. God has acted like your sins have not happened. No, your sins really have been To your family members? Sure. punished – all of it. But compared to a Holy, Righteous, Consuming But just not on you. The wrath of God was Fire of a God who cannot stand to even look poured out on Jesus, so that we may live; and upon a single blemish? Not even close. when God opens our hearts to actually believe this, it becomes the most life-altering, earth- That is why when it seems like we are doing shattering, love-awakening truth of the well, we should remember that our universe. righteousness, that is, our good deeds, no matter how good they appear to us, are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). For God requires PERFECT OBEDIENCE, as His eyes are too pure to even look upon sin (Habakkuk 21
  21. 21. GUARDING THE HEART Now, You Can. Jesus did not only forgive us of our sins. He has also freed us from it as well. The Holy Spirit now works within us to sanctify us, and make us more and more like Christ as we behold Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, as we meditate on the truth of the Gospel, and depend on the finished work of Christ and not on our own ability, we are transformed. God removes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh, a heart that will finally obey Him (Ezekiel 36:26-27). We begin a process where God enables us to finally obey (Philippians 2:12-13), and do His will. And if all that were not enough. As a result of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, we are able to go boldly before God, as a child, and not as a slave (Hebrews 4:16). We go with more freedom than we would with our own earthly father. We go with more liberty than we do with our closest friend. For when Christ was on the cross, and loudly exclaimed, “It is finished!”, it meant that everything that needed to be done for our salvation had been done. In other words, there is nothing that can make God love you more or love you less than He does right now. There is nothing that can make Him accept you more or accept you less. Everything that needed to be done has been done. For Jesus has done it. All glory and honor to Christ alone. Click here to view and discuss the post online. 22
  22. 22. GUARDING THE Day 8 How to Follow Jesus “ Maybe you know you have made a mess of your life so far, you have failed as you walked in your strength and your ideas. God has not given up on you – in his love he is calling out for you to come to him through Jesus and experience the power of his forgiveness and receive a new life in Jesus. 23
  23. 23. GUARDING THE HEART How to Follow Jesus 6 practical steps! Some decisions you make are more important whenever that is you can guarantee being in than others – whilst getting dressed this God’s presence as soon as it happens; morning you might have thought of who you Secondly, God promises us that life with him, might meet, what meetings or classes you had real life, life in all its fullness as God intended for to attend, whether it was sunny or raining etc. you, starts here and now the moment you Nothing major or tragic was going to result from believe and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord a wrong decision in any of these matters. and Saviour. However, in the big picture of your life there are some decisions that have massive implications God wants you to know Him now, in fact the – and from God’s point of view there is one Bible reveals an amazing fact; before the world major decision which dwarfs all else. God asks was made God had decided he wanted you to you, Who is Jesus? be his child, and him to be your Father (Eph 1:4). God has always loved you and has always Note the question isn’t who was Jesus – that had a plan and a purpose for your life (Eph would give you the option of disregarding him 2:4-10). as some historical figure like Gandhi, Genghis Khan or Goliath. No, God is concerned about Many people want God to be part of their life – who you think Jesus is now, today, in the they want him to help them, to bless them, to present tense. make them feel good. The problem is they approach God from the position of what they The answer to that one question reveals your want. The Bible looks at this from God’s decision as to where you will spend eternity. perspective – it declares that we need God, we Declare that Jesus is your Lord and you will be need to be forgiven, we need to be reconciled saved and God promises to welcome you into to God – and that can only happen through heaven for all eternity, Romans 10:9-10 “If you Jesus Christ. declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from Previous posts in this series have covered the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your the important ideas of what Jesus has done for heart that you believe and are justified, and it is us and who Jesus is, and it is good to know with your mouth that you profess your faith and these amazing truths. We have to be careful are saved.”(NIV) that these are not simply ideas but become realities in our life. This can only happen It is easy to imagine you can put this mega- through asking Jesus to become Lord and decision off, surely there will be time later to Saviour of your life – and it has to be an decide, after all it is so important that it requires individual, personal decision. much thought, let’s not be hasty in this… This is the one decision you should not, in fact you God does not have grandchildren – your cannot, procrastinate over. parents might go to church but that doesn’t make you a Christian. You might go to church Note two things: but that doesn’t make you a Christian. Only one thing can, a personal decision to ask Jesus to Firstly, even the wisest of us does not know the forgive your sin and to make him Lord of your date and time of their departure into eternity, life. you don’t know when you will die – but 24
  24. 24. GUARDING THE HEART Maybe you know you have made a mess of 28:19) [More on this coming soon in the next your life so far, you have failed as you walked post.] in your strength and your ideas. God has not given up on you – in his love he is calling out 5. Receive the Holy Spirit for you to come to him through Jesus and experience the power of his forgiveness and When Jesus becomes Lord of your life then receive a new life in Jesus (2 Cor 5:17). In God gives you his presence and his power following Jesus Christ, God offers you a through the Holy Spirit who comes to live in totally new life – something the Bible calls you. In the book of Acts being filled with the being born again. How does this take place, Holy Spirit was usually part of salvation, and how can you make Jesus Lord of your life? it should be part of your salvation experience (Acts 10:44). Ask God to fill you with the Holy 1. Believe and Accept Spirit, believe he will answer your prayer (Lk 11:9-13, Jn 7:37-39, Eph 5:18). Deciding what you believe about who Jesus is, is the first step towards knowing and 6. Walk as a Disciple loving God. As a Christian you believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, who We shall study more fully how we walk as a died on the cross in your place to take away disciple of Jesus Christ (“walking the talk”), your sins – and to remove the barrier that sin later in this series. One of the most telling has created between God and you (Col descriptions of Peter and John (some of the 1:20, 2:13-15). first disciples) was that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). As you walk with him, 2. Repent Jesus will shape and change your life into something that is God glorifying and beautiful Turning from our old ways is the first step to behold. you take towards God – in effect you do a U- turn away from sin and start to walk a new “A believer changes their mind, a disciple life in God’s ways. (This was talked about in changes their life” You have to choose – will the section on what is sin and how to you accept Jesus and God’s offer of eternal overcome it.) life through him, or will you reject him? 3. Confess Pray this prayer or one like it if you want your sins forgiven and you want to become a We quoted Romans 10:8-9 earlier – you child of God and a disciple of Jesus. declare your faith, stating that you trust in Jesus to forgive and save you. Prayer, which ‘‘Lord God, I am aware that I am a sinner. I is simply speaking to God and spending time believe that Jesus died for my sin. He took in his presence, is a great way of declaring away the punishment due to me for my sin your faith, your love and your trust in Jesus. by taking it upon Himself on the cross. I repent and turn from my sin and I ask God’s 4. Be Baptized forgiveness. I yield my life to Jesus and make Him my Lord and Saviour. I will obey His commands and live my life for His good Being baptized in water as a believer is a pleasure. I know that I now am a child of sign showing your commitment to Jesus, God and my sins are forgiven as they have declaring that you have become his been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Praise disciple.This was an important step for the God, Amen.’’ first Christians (Acts 2:38, 41) and is an important step of obedience for us (Matt Click here to view and discuss the post 25
  25. 25. GUARDING THE Day 9 Water Baptism “ You don’t become a Christian through baptism; you are baptized because you have become a Christian by believing that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior.  Water baptism is only as important as the believer believes it to be. 26
  26. 26. GUARDING THE HEART Water Baptism Why, How & Most Asked Questions The Bible declares in I John 4:10, ‘God baptized, in whose name should they be demonstrates His own love for us in this: While baptized, etc., and the list goes on! we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’  What a picture of His extravagant love! In the first Much controversy and debate has clouded the segment of this study, we attempted to delve importance of this doctrine in the Church.   deeper into understanding the nature of God According to Hebrews 6:2, the doctrine of and there our eyes beheld His glorious majesty, baptism is part of the foundation, which the His astounding power and unparalleled Christian life must be built.  So for the benefit of holiness. both the amateurs and veterans, let’s look to the Word of God and attempt to understand Then in the second segment, we looked into this beautiful ordinance of the Church. our own natures, and had a glimpse of the depravity and wretchedness of our sinful state.   What is Water Baptism? The beauty however lies in understanding the bridge that exists between the two drastically The word ‘baptism’ is derived from a Greek different segments; in realizing the extreme term – ‘baptisma’ or ‘baptizo,’ meaning, ‘to measures to which this awesome and holy God immerse, to dip, to submerge’.  To baptize went, just to redeem and ransom you and I something means to put it completely under the from the ugly mess we were sinking in – Sin. water.  Therefore in water baptism, the believer is put completely under water, then immediately In this third segment now, we will study about raised out of it.  As we already know baptism is our response to this remarkable gift that God given to those who have chosen to become has given us – Salvation. Christians, therefore many people think that baptism is a magical ceremony that makes Baptism – Introduction: them Christians.  Nothing could be further from the truth! A baptism service is one of my favourite services to be in. Being in the service always Baptism is the commission of Jesus. Bible says reminds me of that day nearly fifteen years ago in Matt 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples when I made those exact vows to my lover and of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Lord – Jesus Christ.  Now, after all these years, Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” I understand well all the symbolism and meaning that is beautifully woven into the The apostles in the early church followed this service; but when I think back, I’m not really commission and preached the Gospel with sure I knew completely what everything meant power. The people were convicted almost at the time. immediately to be baptized of water. And this is often the case with many new You don’t become a Christian through baptism; believers.  On the other hand, those of us who you are baptized because you have become a have been in the Church for several years, Christian by believing that Jesus Christ is the know all too well the many disputes and Lord and Savior.  Water baptism is only as differences in opinion that arise pertaining to important as the believer believes it to be. who should be baptized, how they should be 27