Following Jesus - A Course for New Christians
Lesson 2: How can I be sure of my faith?
Rev John Hibberd
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
These lessons are for new Christians. The pastor will teach some parts of the lesson. He will ask you to talk about some other parts of the lesson. You can ask the pastor questions too.
Notes for the pastor: it would be good to begin each lesson with some worship and prayer.
1. The pastor should ask people to go into groups of about six people. Then the people should try to answer the question: ‘Is it difficult for you to be a Christian? What are the main reasons for that?’ Tell them that they have about 10 minutes to do this.
2. The pastor should ask the groups to tell him their answers.
3. Then the pastor should teach them from these notes.
· We learned about this in last week’s lesson. If you still think that the good news about Jesus is hard to understand, speak to the pastor after the lesson. He will help you.
· Many people feel that God is not interested in them. They may carry some shame in their life. Maybe their village tells them that they do not have much worth.
· God says that every person has great value to him. He allowed people to kill his only son. He did this so that you could know God as your friend.
· Sometimes it is difficult for new Christians to overcome sins and bad habits. The devil will use this to accuse us. He wants to make us feel that we have failed as Christians.
· When we do wrong, we should not pretend that we have not done it. We should ask God to forgive us. We should also ask God to help us not to do that wrong thing again. God forgives us again and again. He will help us to overcome sins, as we live our Christian lives.
· It is easier to live a life that suits our own needs. We can be as selfish as we like.
· You know that this was a life without God and without hope. It was a life with no answer to sin, no answer to the power of evil, no answer to the fact of death. It may be an easier way to live, but it is an empty life.
· Sometimes we may be in danger because we are Christians. People may hurt you with their words, or with their actions. Some people may even want to kill you.
· The first followers of Jesus had the same problem. People forced some of them to leave their homes. People killed some of them. They did not stop believing in Jesus. They knew that believing in Jesus is more important than anything else.
We will look at 4 things from the Bible. The first one is the most important. It supports the second one, which supports the third one in its turn. Then the third one supports the fourth one. It is important to remember this order.
The most important thing of all is the fact that Jesus died for you and me. He completed the work that God gave him to do to rescue us. This can never be taken away. The Bible says:
This Bible verse reminds you of several important facts:
· God loves you. He loved you so much that he sent His Son into the world. He came to die for you.
· Jesus loves you. He chose to die on the cross for you. Jesus gave up his life so that you might have real life with God.
· If you trust in Jesus, then it affects your whole life. What he did on the cross affects your whole life. This Bible verse says it very strongly. It says that when Jesus died, you shared in his death. I know that you have not stopped breathing! Your body is still living. But Jesus brought all your sin to God when he died. And God has forgiven all that sin. Now you can live a new life with Jesus.
· The Bible verse says, ‘Jesus now lives in me.’ When God looks at you, he sees someone whom Jesus has forgiven. He sees Jesus in your life, and that pleases God very much.
Many people are not sure whether God accepts them or not. The clear message in this verse is that he has already accepted you, as soon as you really trusted in Jesus. That leads us on to the next point.
In the first lesson, we read these words from the Bible:
Sometimes people think that they do not believe in Jesus enough. They imagine that it must be easier for other people to believe. This is not the right way to understand what ‘to believe’ means. In this Bible verse, ‘to believe’ means to make a decision. It could happen like this:
· You heard the good news about Jesus
· God made you understand that the message is true
· You decided to ask Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord
It does not matter if you made this decision with lots of faith or with a little faith. The important thing is that you said ‘Yes’ to God. You have accepted his plan to rescue you. This is why he sent Jesus. Some people can remember the time and day when they accepted the message about Jesus. Other people cannot do this because they did not decide all at once. The important thing is to be able to say: ‘I have decided to follow Jesus.’ Have you truly made that decision, from your *heart? If you have, then be sure that God has heard your prayer. He accepts you.
The Bible says that we should be full of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, Jesus said:
Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit to his followers. The Holy Spirit came after Jesus went up to heaven. The first Christians spoke about the Holy Spirit, and they also placed their hands on people. They did this as they prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. This is a good time to teach you about the Holy Spirit.
Christians believe in ONE God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It can be hard to understand, because we talk about one God but three different ways in which God shows himself. With human words it is not easy to speak of our wonderful God. However, the Trinity has helped Christians to understand God better.
The Holy Spirit helps us to know God, and Jesus. He helps us to know that God is real. The Bible says:
We need the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we can live as Christians. The Spirit in us shows that we are now in God’s family. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live the Christian life; we cannot do it in our own strength.
Note: Perhaps you have been involved with evil spirits. Then you may need prayer for these spirits to leave your life. You should speak to the pastor about this. You want the Holy Spirit to fill your life with good, and to keep evil away.
The Bible tells us that Jesus gave his followers different gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says:
Other parts of the New Testament have different lists of gifts. The important things are:
· God gives every follower of Jesus at least one gift.
· These gifts are not so that we can become proud. God gives these gifts so that we ‘can help each other’. We must use the gifts to help other people. We must serve the church and the people in our town or village.
· One gift is ‘speaking in strange languages’. Many people receive this special prayer language from God, as a gift. But the Bible never says that we must receive this gift to be a Christian.
Some people get very excited about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is in your life, then your character should also become more like Jesus. This is what the Bible says:
How you feel makes a great difference to you. It affects many parts of your life. This includes what you believe. On some days you may feel like a strong Christian. On other days you may not feel that you can be a Christian at all. So, it is very dangerous to let your feelings be your guide. You would not feel very sure of God at all.
· You can be sure about what you believe because of the FACT that Jesus died for you. God always keeps his promises.
· You can be sure about what you believe because of the decision you made TO BELIEVE in Jesus.
· You can be sure about what you believe because you are full of the HOLY SPIRIT.
Are feelings important? We already read this Bible verse:
God wants you to love him with every part of your life: – love him by the way you think; love him by the way you decide about things; and love him by the way you feel about things. So feelings are important. God wants you to know that he is always close to you. The thing to remember is that feelings must not take first place. They cannot take the place of the fact that God gave his Son for you.
The main point of this lesson is to show how you can be sure of what you believe about Jesus. This is very important when you begin the Christian life. You should be completely sure that God loves you. Then you will become a real Christian. If you are not sure that God loves you, then you will not be a close follower of Jesus.
We will finish this lesson with a Bible verse for you to learn and to remember. Before we learn this lesson’s verse, we need to check the Bible verse from the last lesson. Do you remember it?
[Note to the pastor: Ask them to say last week’s verse from memory.]
Last week’s verse was:
Here is the new verse for this lesson:
Try to repeat this verse to yourself this week. God gives eternal life to those who receive his son. You can be completely sure of this. A person who does not have Jesus in their life does not have eternal life. They do not look forward to something good after death. You could pray for people that you know. Pray for people who do not have Jesus in their life. Talk to God about them. He can make them want to listen to the good news. Pray for an opportunity to share the good news about Jesus with them.
The new quality of life for those who believe in Jesus. This new life with Jesus will go on for ever. It will never end.
Where you see the word ‘heart’, this does not just mean the heart that makes the blood to go around your body. It is our custom to describe the heart as the centre of our life. When we speak about ‘knowing the truth in your heart’, we mean that you know it for yourself. It has become real to you. It may be your custom to speak in the same way of your mind, or your stomach. You must use the word that fits your customs. This will help people to understand the true meaning of the teaching in these lessons.
Wonderful works that God does by his power.
© 1997-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
23 May 2003
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