The "Good News," according to the Book of Acts
 

If we want to know what the Bible says about the "Good News," it helps to go back to the Bible! Many who do so will discover that what people have said is often NOT what the Bible says. This is one of the reasons why so many people who claim to be "saved" are no different from people of the world. When the life-changing Good News is distorted, it loses its life-giving capability.

[The New Testament word translated as "Good News" is also translated as "Gospel" in many Bibles. Either way, it means the same thing!]


The Good News needs communicated accurately and carefully.

1. The world needs the genuine Good News! PDF / JPEG

We need to tell them accurately, without downplaying the parts they might not like, and in a way that honors God.

2. Changing the Good News won't increase the number who are saved! PDF / JPEG

You may get "decisions" (the result of human manipulation and trickery), but you won't get genuine "conversions" (the result of God changing the heart).

3. We need to rely on the Bible's Good News, not modern-day substitutes! PDF / JPEG

Genuine salvation is available only through the genuine Good News! Get rid of the tricks and techniques, and go to the book of Acts!

4. We need to communicate the real Good News in a way it can be accurately understood. PDF / JPEG

We need to be willing to communicate it (obviously). But we also need to be careful about changing the apostle's message into something more appealing to the sinful nature. When such changes are made, what we think we're saying won't be what they hear.

Foundational issues.

5. The Good News and our responsibility. PDF / JPEG

When it comes to the Good News, all of God's people have certain responsibilities. This does not mean we all have special evangelistic abilities; but it focuses on certain attitudes and obligations that must influence our thoughts and actions.

6. "Complete surrender" - What the Good News is all about. PDF / JPEG

In its most basic form, "following Jesus" involves complete surrender of our own wills to his. This is what salvation is all about. This is what the Bible says it is, so why would we want to distort it, by saying anything different?

7. Telling others the Good News... What obligation does the Bible say YOU have? PDF / JPEG

In the early days of the church, it was the people who went out telling others the Good News. The apostles stayed in Jerusalem! Does this imply anything about our obligation? What does Scripture say?

The fact-foundation.

8. Beginning with the Bible's focus, starting with the fact-foundation. PDF / JPEG

If we want the Bible's Good News, we will start with the fact-foundation that the Bible starts with. Today, many people try to start with something that appeals to people who hate the facts!

9. Talking about "love," but omitting the foundation that Scripture says people need to hear! PDF / JPEG

Preaching "love," while ignoring "truth," may allow us to generate "decisions" (not the same as people being saved); but until people build their lives on the truth foundation of Scripture, they cannot be saved. Nowhere in all the "Good News" presentations in the book of Acts do we find anything about "love" - because that is not the issue!

10. The fact foundation: Where must we begin when someone knows nothing about the Bible? PDF / JPEG

The examples in Acts show us that we must begin where their understanding ends. And for someone who knows nothing about the Bible, that means starting at the very beginning. Today, we look at the example in Acts 14:7-20.

11. The Scripture foundation a person needs for understanding the Good News. PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at Acts 17:16-34, to learn some of the most basic things a person needs to know, in order to understand the Good News. Without these things, accurate communication is impossible. We might be using the same words... but will be meaning radically different things.

12. Living and speaking the truth, though the world may hate you for it. PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at: (1) Acts 27 and 28, which show us examples of how Paul lived in the presence of unsaved people, and (2) what to do when people don't want to hear the Good News.

What people can know about God without the Bible; why the Bible is needed.

13. What people can know without the Bible: God's glory in creation! (Even though they suppress it.) PDF / JPEG

There are things people can know about the God of the Bible... without the Bible! By nature, we suppress the truth we can know... but it leaves us without excuse.

14. The suppression of God's truth... the power of God to save. PDF / JPEG

All people suppress the truth of God, as seen in creation. But God uses Scripture to change the hearts of some.

15. How God has revealed himself; our attitude and responsibility. PDF / JPEG

A look at the various ways God has revealed himself. This includes what we have mentioned about God's glory being seen in creation... but there are also other ways.

16. Does God reveal himself today? PDF / JPEG

What does the Bible say? If he does reveal himself today... how would we know if a specific "revelation" was "for real"? Scripture does have something to say about this issue!

17. The need for a "renewed mind" (Romans 12:2), in order to recognize God's glory in creation. PDF / JPEG

Having a renewed mind is the only way we can see (and respond) correctly. Without it, we will suppress the truth revealed in creation. (Note: "Renewing" one's mind with Scripture is a livelong pursuit, continuing even after we have turned to Jesus. The more our thinking is changed, the more we will be able to recognize things for the way they are.)

18. God's glory is visible in all of creation. Don't suppress your awareness of it... open your eyes! PDF / JPEG

We were born suppressing the truth; we were "trained" by the world to suppress it. We - even saved people - need to learn to recognize creation for what it is - a reflection of God's glory! We need to open our eyes and recognize what is there!

God's role in salvation.

19. Because we have sinned, even knowing the "basics" about God cannot save us. We need Jesus. PDF / JPEG

The issues we have looked at - God's revelation in creation, and the basic fact-foundation about who God is (etc.) - is not enough to save us. First, we don't want the God of the Bible. (We would rather have a "revised" god of our own making.) Second, the sins we have already committed are enough to prevent us from ever being saved. This is why we need Jesus. This is why we need (in addition to the fact-foundation) the Good News.

20. The role of "God's sovereignty" in salvation... not the world's counterfeit type of "sovereignty." PDF / JPEG

God does have a role in salvation. His sovereignty is what makes it possible. But it is a sovereignty that works with human responsibility, not in competition with it. We need to make a clear distinction between what the Bible says on this matter, and what the world says - for the two views are diametrically opposed to each other!

21. We can rejoice in God's sovereignty, because it gives value to our choices. (The world's type doesn't.) PDF / JPEG

It gives meaning to our choices and stability to our lives. Even when life doesn't make sense to us, we can rejoice that the devil cannot prevent God from accomplishing ultimate good in our lives!

22. God's sovereignty and human responsibility: Not just in the New Testament, but also in the Old. PDF / JPEG

A look at several examples in the Old Testament and also in the book of Acts. In all the Bible, it's an ongoing theme: sovereignty and responsibility work together!

The need to tell others the Good News.

23. To accept the Good News found in Scripture, people must change the way they think, and respond accordingly. PDF / JPEG

Without the message of Scripture, our views about salvation are wrong and cannot change. Even when we use the same words, they will imply different things. People must to be willing to put forth the effort necessary to learn what Scripture says - specifically the Good News as defined in the Book of Acts. (We can - and will - include other Scripture passages. After all, all of it is in agreement with what we find in Acts!)

24. The nature of "witnessing"; the myth of "silent witnessing." PDF / JPEG

In recent years, it has become quite popular for people to promote something they call "silent witnessing." Some go as far as to claim that people can become saved by watching how you live, without you actually telling them the Good news about Jesus. Well, when it comes to the facts about salvation, you cannot silently communicate ("witness") them to others! Scripture says it requires saying something!

25. When to be silent. PDF / JPEG

Yes, there are some specific situations in which silence might be an acceptable alternative - but not as an excuse to disobey God's command to speak! And even when silence is legitimate, there are other things you can - and must - do!

Issues related to living for Jesus (including a short break for Christmas and New Years).

26a. A focus for Christmas; a focus for the New Year. PDF / JPEG

Issues related to living as a follower of Jesus. 1) CHRISTMAS: Including Jesus in all that we do (including Christmas activities). 2) STARTING THE NEW YEAR: Living in a way that results in "assurance of salvation." (God's Sovereignty and our responsibility work together to guarantee our salvation! If we focus on our "human responsibility," and do what Scripture tells us we must do, God, in his sovereignty, will make sure that our salvation is genuine.)

26b. A letter from Christians around the world... to us. PDF / JPEG

Genuine revivals are occurring in some areas of the world... but not here. Why? (Based in part from a book entitled, "Principles for the Gathering of Believers under the Headship of Jesus Christ," available on the internet.)

27. Why do so few in the church tell others about Jesus? PDF / JPEG

Comparing the excuses/reasons people tend to give and the actual reasons that Scripture gives.

28. Why the early church was so successful in growing. PDF / JPEG

There was a common pattern in what happened in the lives of the believers. (We plan to look at these issues in the coming weeks.) Note: if we look at the genuine revivals that are occurring in other parts of the world, we will notice that these same patterns are present today.

Prayer.

29. Prayer in the early church - an overview (the "technical details"). PDF / JPEG

When talking about prayer, there is a tendency for people to ask about the technical details - how, when, etc. Here, we look at these, with a greater focus on what the Christians prayed about. The types of things they prayed about are often totally unlike the things we tend to pray about. (When it seems that our prayers don't accomplish much, might this be one of the reasons?)

30. Various prayer examples and lessons we can learn from them. PDF / JPEG

If we want the type of praying that resulted in a strong growing group of Jesus-followers, we need to learn what God-honoring prayer is all about! It does not come natural to us, but requires a renewed mind (Romans 12:2). So in pursuit of that mind, here are some examples to learn from.

31. Prayer influenced by Scripture... changing us, and enabling the Spirit to accomplish more in us. PDF / JPEG

Last time, we looked at some specific prayers in the Bible. Here, our focus is on using other Scripture texts in our prayer. With this type of prayer - Scripture influencing the way we pray - two things can be accomplished at once: 1) God hears our prayer, and 2) the Bible is influencing and changing us.

32. Using the Bible in prayer - recommendations and cautions. PDF / JPEG

Some additional considerations related to last week's topic.

33. Prayer and our values; difficulties we may have when trying to let Scripture influence our praying. PDF / JPEG

The way we pray (and what we pray about) will be a reflection of our values. Getting Scriptural values takes effort; but the more the Bible influences our thinking, the more it will influence our praying.

34. God's sovereignty and our prayer. PDF / JPEG

These are two separate issues that work together. Prayer accomplishes much more than just "informing God" - who already knows what we're praying about!

The Holy Spirit.

35. Modern perceptions of the "Holy Spirit" (and how he works), contrasted to what we find in Scripture. PDF / JPEG

Many modern-day church-goers have no comprehension of how the Bible treats this whole issue. They pursue the "Spirit" in ways that are foreign to the Bible, and end up with a counterfeit "spirit" - without realizing that it is counterfeit.

36. About those who do not have the Holy Spirit; about sinning against the Holy Spirit. PDF / JPEG

Before learning about the presence of the Spirit in the lives of God's people, we want to understand the significance of the absence of the Spirit in the lives of the unsaved, and the effects of willful sin.

37. What must we do to receive the Holy Spirit? PDF / JPEG

Yes, the Spirit is a free gift. But there are requirements.

38. The Holy Spirit - a gift from Jesus! A gift we can't live without! PDF / JPEG

It is impossible to be saved without the Spirit.

39. If the Holy Spirit is in us... what will happen? PDF / JPEG

All people are controlled - either by the Spirit or by sin (and the forces of evil). In each case, there will be "fruit" that is present because of the one who controls us. Scripture tells us what "fruit" to expect, if we are controlled by the Spirit, so don't go after the fake "fruit" that the religious fakes promote!

40. The Holy Spirit is not silent! PDF / JPEG

It's a constant theme in Acts (and the rest of Scripture): When the Holy Spirit is present, it results in people saying something! You might not be a gifted "evangelist"; but if you have vocal cords, don't use them to praise (or excuse) "silence" about God - like so many church-goers do!

41. What about miraculous demonstrations of the Spirit's presence? PDF / JPEG

We need to understand what "miracles" are, and how the Spirit works. We also need to focus on the Spirit's priorities. Scripture tells us that certain things will be present, if the Spirit is present. And whether or not we think miracles can occur today, Scripture places them in the "optional" or "secondary" category. They are not to be our primary focus, even if they do occur.

42. The terrifying work of the Holy Spirit. PDF / JPEG

People who want miracles to occur tend to focus on the "exciting" things. They forget that, when miracles occurred in Scripture, "terrifying" things also occurred. God's focus is on purity, not on entertaining people with exciting things! Every time miracles were occurring, some people experienced the judgment of God. Some even died.

43. Fake miracle workers... not empowered by the Holy Spirit. PDF / JPEG

Scripture wasn't joking when it warned us to look out for fakes. An unwillingness to do so is sin against God himself. Here, we look at 3 ways to identify fakes. So next time you hear someone claim to be a miracle-worker, you can know for sure if what they are saying is true.

The Spirit's priorities and having a genuine Good News focus.

44. In pursuit of the "greater." (Part 1) PDF / JPEG

Don't be preoccupied with the secondary/lesser things! This "priorities" topic is a response to the modern-day distorted focus on the Holy Spirit; but the principle has a much greater application.

45. In pursuit of the "greater." (Part 2) PDF / JPEG

We are to pursue the primary/greater things - and Scripture tells us what those "greater" things are! Here is where we should start, if we want to be "greatly" used by the Spirit!

46. In pursuit of the "greater." (Part 3) PDF / JPEG

Do we want a Spirit-led focus on "greatness"? Having the right values will get us there. In 1 Corinthians 14, we learn about how to prioritize our values.

47. The New Testament "Good News" OR today's "new good news"? PDF / JPEG

If the Spirit is present, the New Testament version of "Good News" will be proclaimed - which is quite different from the modern-day "revision" that permeates many (perhaps most?) churches. Today's "new good news" is not what you find in the book of Acts (as we are in the process of demonstrating)!

48. Why do people promote the "new good news," instead of the original, genuine Good News? PDF / JPEG

The Bible's "Good News" changed the world! Why reduce it to something that lacks the Spirit's power? There may be a number of reasons, but none of them are good. We conclude by introducing an example of a modern-day distortion (which we finish looking at next time): the distorted emphasis on "love." (Though love is an important virtue, the Bible never describes as being a part of the Good News! Not ever!)

49. God's love for the unsaved. PDF / JPEG

Love, though not part of the Bible's "Good News," is an important issue. There are specific ways in which we can say that God loves unsaved people; but there are other ways that God does not love them. The modern-day distortions only confuse the issue and tend to lead people astray.

Persecution - a genuine possibility.

50. Persecution? Really? PDF / JPEG

Part of the reason for the modern-day "new good news" is the desire to avoid persecution. People would rather tell the unsaved something they want to hear, instead of something they don't want to hear (which they need to hear). The apostles realized that the Bible's "Good News" - which saves people - may result in persecution. Instead of shrinking back, they chose to view (and do) things the way Jesus did!

51. Why the persecution? PDF / JPEG

We do not have to be offensive or mean. (And we aren't to be that way.) No matter how we say it, people, by nature, prefer the lie that the Good News opposes. The issue is that the Good News is truthful about one's spiritual condition - and sin-loving people don't want to hear it.

52. Responding to persecution. PDF / JPEG

We need to watch our attitude! There are various issues to consider (which are mentioned in the presentation). Over-all, our goal should be to honor God in how we respond!

The "Good News" and its communication.

53. It's GOOD News, and it needs proclaimed! PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at the word itself - the word translated as "Good News" (or "gospel"). We review some basic facts about its proclamation and its focus, and the foundational facts that people need to know before they can understand it. (We looked at these facts previously.) Finally, we point out that the focus of the New Testament "Good News" is on JESUS - not on us!

54. "Witnessing" and the Good News. PDF / JPEG

We need to understand what the concept of "witnessing" is all about! This might seem obvious, but many people use the word in ways never intended by Scripture! So our focus today is on what it meant to the apostles.

55. Our "Witnessing" about the Good News. PDF / JPEG

Once we understand what "witnessing" really is, we can look at the ways that our witnessing is similar or dissimilar to the apostles' witnessing. These issues should influence how we do our "witnessing."

56. The Good News... it needs communicated! PDF / JPEG

Different people have different gifts and abilities. But we all have some type of role in communicating the Good News.

57. The Good News... communicated by "the rest of us" (i.e., people who don't have special abilities)! PDF / JPEG

There are certain things that God has enabled us to do (even if we don't have special communication skills). The Bible tells us so! The Bible also tells us why most of our "reasons" for not doing these things are actually "excuses."

58. Accepting the Good News involves more than just accepting facts. PDF / JPEG

The Good News is the living Word from the living God. If we accept the Good News, we will live it. God himself guarantees it; so pretending it's not so can't change it.

The "Good News" and its fact basis.

59. The Good News - Confirmed by many witnesses. PDF / JPEG

There is objective evidence that confirms the factual nature of the Good News. So when people refuse to accept the Good News, they have no excuse.

60. The Jewish rejection of the Good News. PDF / JPEG

It wasn't for lack of evidence, that they (as a nation) rejected it. It was a stubborn refusal to accept the evidence (for various reasons). This is someday going to change - and even now, many Jews do accept the Good News.

61. The Jews in Jesus' day shouldn't have been surprised! PDF / JPEG

Jesus didn't do anything that the Old Testament didn't say he would do! The problem is that it wasn't what most of the Jews wanted him to do. Yes, with Jesus' coming, certain changes were going to occur; but they were changes that the Old Testament said would occur. Specifically: Because of Israel's ongoing rebellion, God was going to make a New Covenant with them - which is exactly what Jesus did! Today, ALL saved people are under this New Covenant. (Note: The words "covenant" and "testament" have the same meaning. We tend to use "testament" when referring to the two main sections of the Bible, and "covenant" when referring to the specific promises and agreements that are part of those sections.)

62. The words of the prophets... fulfilled! PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at the various ways that the words of the Old Testament prophets were fulfilled in the New Testament. (It's yet another part of the fact-basis of the Good News.)

63. The OLD TESTAMENT message - God's Living Word ... for us! PDF / JPEG

Being under the New Covenant (= "testament") doesn't mean we throw away the words of the Old Covenant (= "testament"). The apostles and the early church relied on its message... and so should we.

The "Good News" begins with a God- and Jesus-focus.

64. The Good News begins with God! PDF / JPEG

It begins with the facts, and the #1 fact is "God"! Specifically, what Scripture teaches about the true God. Without this, there is no Good News.

65. The kingdom of God. PDF / JPEG

This is is a specific aspect of the "God focus" that is strongly emphasized under the New Covenant. When the covenants changed, the nature of the "kingdom" changed. (It had to, because of the differences between the two covenants.) We need to understand what the New Covenant "kingdom priority" is, and live accordingly.

66. Grace - God's undeserved kindness. PDF / JPEG

By nature, we don't want God or his "kingdom priority." It is only by what Scripture calls "grace" (= God's undeserved kindness) that we become willing to change. Genuine grace from God affects not only what happens in eternity, but also how we live now. It teaches us how to live!

67. Good News - Facts about Jesus (1). PDF / JPEG

The change from the "ways of sin" to a "Spirit-controlled life" is made possible by the God of the Bible. But it occurs only through Jesus the Messiah (or "Christ"). Regarding Jesus, there are 5 established facts that must control our thinking and actions. (Yes, they are facts. When people don't accept these facts, the problem isn't a lack of factual evidence. Rather, it's a moral problem.)

68. Good News - Facts about Jesus (2). PDF / JPEG

The book of Acts shows us how these "Jesus facts" are a part of the Good News, and have a role in one's salvation. Today, we look at the first three facts.

69. Good News - Facts about Jesus (3). PDF / JPEG

Today's focus is on the final two "Jesus facts" and how they relate to the Good News and salvation.

Some issues pertaining God's kingdom, the covenants, and our need for obedience.

70. Avoiding misconceptions and "kingdom confusion." PDF / JPEG

A look at some of the ways that people misunderstand the concept of "kingdom of God." If God's kingdom is supposed to be our #1 priority (as in Matthew 6:33), we need to know what it is and isn't!

71. Misconceptions about obedience. PDF / JPEG

Obedience to God has always been our obligation. But now, because of sin, it only becomes possible when we choose to follow Jesus. It has nothing to do with "getting saved," but everything to do with "living as a saved person" - and it's something that God enables his people to do.

72. Obedience and covenants (1). PDF / JPEG

Old Covenant, New Covenant, blessings, obedience. Understanding the relationship of these various concepts will help us to understand the nature of our obedience. Our focus today is mainly on the nature of the Old Covenant. Though it demanded obedience and promised blessings (for obedience), it did not have the power to cause the obedience.

73. Obedience and covenants (2). PDF / JPEG

We continue where we left off last time. Our main focus here is on the New Covenant and how it results in obedience. (God guarantees it.) Then we look at some of the reasons the Jews (as a nation) rejected the New Covenant.

74. The New Covenant and the Gentiles. PDF / JPEG

Because the Jewish nation rejected the New Covenant (which was originally given to them), God has offered it to the Gentiles in an unprecedented way. But with this increased opportunity comes increased accountability to God, and increased judgment if we reject it.

The "Good News" people-focus: The need to accept what the Bible says (and to respond appropriately).

75. "People Facts" and our thoughts, actions, conscience. PDF / JPEG

When people accept the Good News facts, it will have an effect on the way they think and live. That's what the Bible tells us, and according to the book of Acts that's what happened. Since two of the verses in Acts link conduct and "conscience," we also examine the nature of "conscience" - its purpose and its imperfections.

76. Paul, our role model for change. PDF / JPEG

We don't have to be and "Apostle Paul" to learn from him! Scripture itself tells us to learn from Paul's example (and also from the examples of other godly people). The key is this, as spoken by Paul: "Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

77. What must we do to be saved? PDF / JPEG

We are going to be focusing on specific obligations - things we must do, in order to be saved. Today is an overview of the topic, with a reminder that God is the one who makes it possible for us to do these things.

78. God's actions give meaning to ours. PDF / JPEG

What WE do does have an impact on whether or not we are saved. But this is not a denial of what GOD does! (Scripture NEVER considers God's sovereignty and human responsibility as in any way contradicting or "fighting" each other!) Here, we look at some of those things God does.

79. God's role in our choices; responding to God's Word. PDF / JPEG

Before a change can occur in our lives, we need to become convinced that what God says is true! (We are calling this "conviction.") There are a number of things we must become convinced about... and there are a number of ways that God accomplishes it in our hearts and minds!

80. Conviction - accepting all that the Bible says. PDF / JPEG

This involves accepting the facts of the Bible - even those parts we don't want to hear! (The Bible warns us about false teachers, who downplay, change or deny those parts that unsaved people tend to dislike.) If we do accept the facts of the Bible, the changes that are a part of salvation will begin to occur.

Repentance and the need for change.

81. Changes that will occur (Introduction). PDF / JPEG

In the "process" of becoming saved, internal and external changes will take place. (God's sovereignty guarantees they will occur; we will choose to do them.) Here is an overview of those changes that will take place.

82. Changes that are a part of salvation: Repentance defined. PDF / JPEG

Repentance is the first change that occurs. Because so many false teachers downplay (and distort) this concept, we need to first find out what it is, and why it is necessary.

83. Forgiveness - from undefined "faith," or from repentance? PDF / JPEG

Many false teachers tell people to just "believe" and they'll be forgiven - and sometimes they don't even define (accurately) what "believe" means! In contrast, Scripture connects forgiveness to an obligation to repent. In other words, without repentance, there is NO forgiveness.

84. Repentance: a part of "believing." PDF / JPEG

Repentance is not only the start of becoming saved; but it's an ongoing part of being saved. It is impossible to be a genuine "believer" without it. (And since God is involved in repentance, it is guaranteed that it will occur in the lives of genuine saved people.)

85. Repentance - a "turn around" based on a truth foundation. PDF / JPEG

Repentance is the first part of our response to the facts of the Good News! It involves an awareness and acceptance of the facts, a turning away from sin and darkness, and a turning to God and the light.

86. The results of repentance. PDF / JPEG

Repentance is the first step. It leads to "saving faith" (and probably overlaps it), and then to the external expressions of those internal changes. After that, Scripture describes a wide range of results - blessings - that occur because of salvation. But without the repentance, none of these other things would occur!

87. For those who oppose repentance. PDF / JPEG

A warning about what Scripture says to those who despise or downplay the concept of "repentance." These warnings are especially relevant to those who claim to be saved, but who consider "unrepentance" to be a legitimate option for them to choose.

88. Salvation in Christ! PDF / JPEG

Salvation is possible only because of our "union" with Christ, in his death and resurrection. This union is the reason we cannot live for sin. God's people are unable to make sin their way of life!

Faith, trust, believing (3 words that mean the same thing).

89. Faith - Definitions matter! PDF / JPEG

The world has redefined "faith," and turned it into something meaningless. The world's "faith" is related to opinion and pretension ("make-believe"), is incompatible with "facts," and is fully compatible with man-made religions. In contrast, the Bible's "faith" is fact-based, and is not subject to popular opinion, revision or human religion (which suppresses the facts about the God who created all things).

90. The "context" of faith. PDF / JPEG

How "faith" fits within the context of the rest of the "process of salvation" - Conviction, Change (internal and external), and Consequences. Though some Scripture passages use the word "faith" to represent the whole process of salvation, the actual "act of believing" occurs in a specific place in the process.

91. GOD defines "saving faith." PDF / JPEG

Human definitions of "faith" are like puffs of smoke; God's definition has lasting "substance" and results in "certainty." Hebrews 11 shows us what genuine faith is, and gives us many wonderful examples of it.

92. Faith - "looking" to Jesus. PDF / JPEG

We need to look to Jesus for salvation the same way that Israel in the wilderness needed to look to the bronze snake for healing (Numbers 21:4-9). This is what Jesus said in John 3:14-15, so we need to find out what that meant!

93. Faith - "Why" we believe/trust. PDF / JPEG

Unlike the world, we have good reasons for our faith/trust/believing. Our faith has a firm foundation, based on what God has done (which includes his sovereignty) and what the Bible says (which includes eyewitness accounts of Jesus' life). The only "weak link" is whether or not we are willing to be faithful in communicating this Good News to others.

94. Faith - "What" we believe/trust. PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at the specific details of our fact-based faith... and their significance. (It's not just a matter of learning a set of facts.)

95. Faith - About this great faith. PDF / JPEG

Not only is it fact-based... it is also living. It's special - and that fact should influence our attitude toward it! This faith is the way of life, and we need it!

96. Our faith, God and "the family of God." PDF / JPEG

It's a great faith, and it brings us into a great family. Specifically, we now belong to the family of God! By adoption (Ephesians 1:5, etc.), God has become our Father and Jesus our Brother. Furthermore, there are many others who have been adopted into the family - all the saved "believers" from all ages. These facts give us a number of rights and responsibilities.

Things connected to faith.

97. Things associated with faith (#1). PDF / JPEG

Certain things will exist when genuine saving faith is present. (The Bible says so.) This includes: 1) certain other things that will occur at the time of salvation, and 2) changes that will occur in our thinking (concepts, values, interests, perspective on various matters, etc.) [More things to be mentioned next week.]

98. Things associated with faith (#2). PDF / JPEG

[Continuing from last week.] More things that will exist when genuine saving faith is present: 3) the living expression of faith as it influences the various aspects of life, and 4) the influence that saving faith has on the ongoing expression of the "fruit of the Spirit."

99. Things associated with faith (#3). PDF / JPEG

[Continuing from last week.] After finishing with our look at the "fruit of the Spirit," we look at some additional things that will exist when genuine saving faith is present: 5) its influence on our interaction with others - saved people, the world, and even the spiritual forces of evil. Finally, we look at 6) some things that Scripture says are incompatible with saving faith.

100. Trustworthiness: God's faithfulness (= our pattern). PDF / JPEG

God can be believed/trusted, because he is faithful/trustworthy! There are many Scripture passages that tell us about the trustworthiness of God, Jesus, and the Bible. This is all part of the fact-foundation that makes genuine faith what it is.

101. Trustworthiness: Our faithfulness. PDF / JPEG

Because God is faithful/trustworthy, he requires us to be faithful/trustworthy. In his Word, he teaches us about faithfulness through examples and instructions. He has also entrusted us with things that give us an opportunity to prove whether or not we can be trusted (i.e., whether or not we have paid attention to his commands about faithfulness/trustworthiness).

Results of faith.

102. Results of faith (#1). PDF / JPEG

Scripture describes many things that are the result of the whole "process" of salvation. But many verses also directly link certain consequences to the word "faith" (or "believe/trust"). [Perhaps some of these verses are using the word "faith" to represent the whole "process of salvation"; but we are not going to make that determination. Either way, the consequences will ultimately be there!] Consequences examined today include two general concepts: 1) other parts of the "process of salvation," 2) various statements about salvation and eternal life; and two specific concepts: 1) changes in our relationship to God, and 2) changes in our relationship to sin. [More things to be mentioned in the weeks to come.]

103. Results of faith (#2a). PDF / JPEG

Another result of faith is: 3) our lives will be increasingly characterized by righteousness and obedience. Because there is so much confusion on this issue we have to look deeper into the issues and why this is so. We also need to understand how the New Covenant affects people - in a way that changes them. (If changes don't occur, it is because the person has not come under the New Covenant. In other words, there may be "religious activity," but there is no "salvation." This is a serious matter, because this is what Scripture says!)

104. Results of faith (#2b). PDF / JPEG

Here, we continue where we left off last week. The only way we can have the righteousness and obedience that pleases God is by means of a changed heart - which God makes possible. God has given us a new nature that makes it possible. Our old "self" may fight us, but with God's power, we can fight back.

105. Results of faith (#3). PDF / JPEG

Another result of faith: 4) Changes related to our spiritual condition/growth. Our spiritual condition has changed, and because of Christ, we now share in blessings that were never originally ours. Also, our spiritual growth is changing, as we grow in various aspects of our salvation.

106. Results of faith (#4). PDF / JPEG

The final result of faith involves: 5) Changes in our interaction with people. Our faith will have certain characteristics that make this interaction possible. And because of that, we will interact in certain ways with saved people and with unsaved people. (Be aware that the unsaved people may oppose you because of it - just like they opposed Jesus. This takes us back to the issue of persecution, which we already examined.)

107. What if we don't have the results of faith? PDF / JPEG

False teachers may say it doesn't matter, since "nobody's perfect." But Scripture has a different message... and your attitude on this issue will influence the outcome!

"Defective" faith: Lacking either in its fact foundation or its living expression.

108. Defective faith: Being deceived (1). PDF / JPEG

This has to do with deception and error, being led astray, wandering from the truth, etc. It is a matter of serious eternal significance. Today, we look at the causes, victims, and results of deception.

109. Defective faith: Being deceived (2). PDF / JPEG

We continue by looking at examples of deception and how to respond to deception. Remember that deceivers do things in deceptive ways; they don't go around warning you about what they are doing! The only way to protect yourself is by pursuing the "renewed mind" (Romans 12:2) that is needed for recognizing it.

110. Defective faith: The fact foundation rejected (= unbelief). PDF / JPEG

This has to do with not accepting the facts (which is different from deception, where the person thinks he is accepting the facts). Though there are a couple examples of momentary unbelief by the apostles, the general attitude is incompatible with salvation. Again, the only way to protect yourself is by pursuing the "renewed mind" of Romans 12:2.

111. Defective faith: The fact foundation missing (= ignorance). PDF / JPEG

Not knowing something can be a sin, such as when: 1) you should have known it, and 2) you neglected the opportunity to know it (whether by direct choice, or indirectly, because of other choices you made). In spiritual issues, it's a matter of choice... so it is sin. (Remember that we have deliberately suppressed the truth about God that we can know from creation - whether or not we have ever been exposed to - and suppressed - the message of the Bible.)

112. Defective faith: Small in its expression. PDF / JPEG

Scripture uses the phrase "little faith" to describe a "faith" that is approaching "non-existence." It's barely alive (if at all), and is bordering on extinction. It's associated with sin and weakness. In contrast, Scripture uses another concept, "mustard-seed faith" to indicate a faith that, though small, is alive and growing.

113. Defective faith: Wavering with doubt. PDF / JPEG

A "doubting" faith is an uncertain faith. It has a two-direction focus, whereas genuine faith has a one-direction focus. Doubt destroys us and leaves us questioning God's ability to be trustworthy, faithful and true.

114. Defective faith: Dead, lifeless faith (1). PDF / JPEG

This may be the most common type of defective faith that exists in the church: people claiming to "believe" the facts, even though they don't live them. (Many church-goers live and die very religious... but very unsaved.) Because of this, our focus today is on what Jesus said about such faith. (It's "lifeless" because the faith isn't lived, and doesn't result in the "fruit of salvation." In the parables, Jesus describes the same concept in other ways - such as "fruitless" or "weeds.")

115. Defective faith: Dead, lifeless faith (2). PDF / JPEG

Here, we look further into this issue of dead, lifeless faith. We also compare the various types of "defective faith." (Some types have a closer superficial resemblance to genuine faith, than do others.)

116. In pursuit of genuine faith. PDF / JPEG

We have a duty to recognize the difference between genuine faith and defective "faith." As we conclude this topic, we review the relationship of "faith" to the various parts of the "process of salvation."

Confession - an external manifestation of internal changes.

117. "Confession" defined. PDF / JPEG

We need to start by defining the concept; because many people use this word in ways that Scripture doesn't (whether or not their use is legitimate in some other context). Today, we focus on the basic issue of what it isn't, and what it is, as described in Scripture.

118. Confession (2) - It's about Jesus! PDF / JPEG

Most people think that "confession" has something to do with admitting one's sin. In reality, admitting sin is mentioned in only 10% of the occurrences of this word! Most of the time (though not 90%), the focus has something to do with "confessing" Jesus! Scripture warns us that our willingness or unwillingness to "confess" Jesus NOW will matter at the day of judgment! Since it's such a serious matter, we need to know what "confessing" him means... and do it!

119. Confession (3) - Other things to confess. PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at a number of other things that are (or can be) a part of our "confession." Though we could probably include anything that is consistent with the message of Scripture, we will focus on sin (the 2nd-most common topic of confession, involving about 10% of the word-occurrences), as well as God, the Good News, our response to difficult times, and things pertaining to future events. Remember that, in the future, all people will confess Jesus as Lord and Master... but only those who confess him now will be saved.

Baptism - Water baptism vs. Holy Spirit baptism

Water baptism - an external manifestation of internal changes, done by people; Holy Spirit baptism - an internal change done by God. The word "baptism" is used for both; but they are not the same. Yet because they are often connected (though different things), we are looking at both in this section. (See also the previous studies about the Holy Spirit, which includes some things about miracles, signs, etc.)

120. Introduction. PDF / JPEG

In this introduction, our goal is to deal with the controversial and emotional issues in the most objective way possible, and to encourage people to examine Scripture for themselves (patterned after the good example of Acts 17:11), to reach their conclusion. Few, if any, of us baptize in the same way that they did in the New Testament. Even if we baptize with "immersion" (based on the original meaning of the word), Scripture does not give us enough detailed instruction to know "exactly" how they did it. We have to take the position that if it seriously mattered, God would have told us! The view of the early church was that certain ways were preferred, but other methods were acceptable, if necessary... and we look at various situations that might make it necessary. However, since some differences are serious, we encourage you to examine the issues and see if you need to make some changes to your views. (Having said these things, our goal is to spend the rest of our investigation focused strictly on what the Bible says - which may or may not include all that we might want it to say.)

121. John's Baptism. PDF / JPEG

John's baptism was necessary, but it was not enough. Its message is still relevant today; but to be complete, we need Jesus (as John himself said).

122. Why do we need Jesus? PDF / JPEG

What John said about Jesus answers the question. (The rest of the New Testament fills in the details.)

123. The Old Testament and Holy Spirit baptism. PDF / JPEG

The Old Testament tells us to expect the Holy Spirit to come. (It uses the word "pour" instead of the New Testament word "baptize"; but the concept being communicated is the same.) Since this pouring/baptism is connected with the New Covenant and with changed hearts/minds, and ultimately with a total change in the attitude of Israel toward God, we also look at these issues.

124. Baptism of the Holy Spirit - for all of Jesus' followers. PDF / JPEG

It's for all who follow Jesus - for all who are saved. Scripture never considers it an option to be "saved" without being "baptized by the Holy Spirit."

125. Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues - introduction. PDF / JPEG

The Old Testament gives us the basis for (1) signs (in general) and (2) speaking in tongues. (If we look here, instead of to the teachings of people, many of the modern-day controversies will cease to exist.)

126. Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues in the book of Acts. PDF / JPEG

This happened only three times, and for specific purposes. They were signs, and pointed to things we need to pay attention to. Ultimately, our focus is to be on what the signs pointed to, not on the signs themselves.

127. Concepts related to the Spirit's presence in people. (1) PDF / JPEG

Some people think that there are two "categories" of Christians: (1) those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit (perhaps viewed as "super-spiritual"), and (2) the rest of us (perhaps viewed as "normal" Christians). They conclude that it is unreasonable to expect a "normal" Christian to act like a "super-spiritual" one! But Scripture doesn't say that! Today we look at the term "filled with the Spirit" - which is something that is available to all genuine Christians.

128. Concepts related to the Spirit's presence in people. (2) PDF / JPEG

This is a continuation from last time. Here, we look at Scripture passages that focus on the Spirit "coming upon" a person. Also a quick glance at some similar concepts. None of them suggest that there are two "categories" of Christians! (In fact, the whole idea of some Christians being more "spiritual" than others distorts the Bible's concept of "spiritual.")

129. Water baptism and the other parts of salvation. PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at the relationship between water baptism and: (1) Spirit baptism, and (2) the other things we must do. We point out that Scripture often looks at issues from different perspectives - such as separately vs. collectively - and observe how this applies to issues related to salvation (including water baptism).

130. Water baptism in "his name." PDF / JPEG

Water baptism, without the internal (heart) changes, is meaningless. But when it is a genuine reflection of the changes happening in the heart, it is (and will be) done "in God's/Jesus' name." Here, we see what that means.

131. Baptism - Union with Christ and Christians. (1) PDF / JPEG

Water baptism is a picture of Holy Spirit baptism. We need to know what Spirit baptism accomplishes, and should reflect on those things when we (or others) are water-baptized. Today, we focus on our union with Christ - its effect on saved people, and the obligations that saved people have, because of it. (Since God's people have changed hearts, the obligation also becomes our desire.) Sin is not to be considered an option!

132. Baptism - Union with Christ and Christians. (2) PDF / JPEG

First, our union with Christ is the cause of our salvation and our spiritual growth. (Religious rituals, etc., don't accomplish either of these.)  Second, in Christ, we are also united with each other. This union implies various obligations on our part. (We must treat other family members as family!)

133. Baptism - Union with Christ and Christians. (3) PDF / JPEG

God uses our union with other Christians for the good of the group - as each individual uses the abilities God has given him ... for the good of all (not for the "advancement" of self).

134. "Unexpected" verses about baptism. PDF / JPEG

A look at two verses about baptism that are sometimes viewed as "controversial," because what they say is unexpected. The first says something about baptism "saving" us; the second mentions "baptism for the dead." Ultimately, this presentation is about how we should respond when we find Scripture passages that are difficult to understand.

Consequences of salvation - Two issues related to eternity

135. Judgment - a consequence that ALL people will experience. PDF / JPEG

Both saved and unsaved will stand before God at the Day of Judgment, and will give account for what we have done in this present life. If our "good news' doesn't include this fact (in addition to showing the way to prepare for that day), it is a false "good news." It means we are false teachers and deceivers, and it qualifies us for the lake of fire.

136. Will saved people spend eternity in heaven? PDF / JPEG

Many people think so, but the Bible never says that! Actually, God has something better for us!

The "salvation concept" - Used to illustrate an easy method of studying the Bible

137. Learning the basics about being saved. PDF / JPEG

I have labeled the first 2/3 of this presentation as "optional" - the present-day attack on language and communication, and how we can respond to it. Then I introduce a basic way to study Scripture that will lead us toward understanding what it says. (Since growing in knowledge is a lifelong process, we won't attain 100% understanding in this present life. But we can learn the "basics" of what we need for life and godliness... and much more!)

138. Learning to study the Bible - word meanings and how they connect. PDF / JPEG

For this Bible study method, the first two principles have to do with paying attention to: (1) the words and their meanings, and (2) how those words connect.

139. Learning to study the Bible - conjunctions (1).  PDF / JPEG

A short review of (1) the words and their meanings and (2) how those words connect, followed by a look at the conjunction "and." We discover that we can learn quite a lot about salvation, from that small word!

140. Learning to study the Bible - conjunctions (2). PDF / JPEG

Here, we look at some additional conjunctions: "or," "but," "so that," and "if." We see that conjunctions can teach us about some serious issues that make a distinction between saved and unsaved. Ignoring conjunctions can be a "heaven-or-hell" matter!

141. Learning to study the Bible - prepositions (1) PDF / JPEG

Prepositions are another group of "little" words that people often think aren't very significant. Here, we introduce the issue by looking at what the preposition "of" teaches us. But first, we look at a few issues related to Bible translations (first 6 slides). After all, without translations, few of us living today could understand the Bible! (Only those who learned ancient Hebrew and Greek.)

#. [More in the process of being written.] PDF / JPEG

(Additional presentations to be added later.)