A NEW BEGINNING!
Incredible truths have been revealed to you through the study of the Bible with this course. Yet knowledge, unless it is applied, is of no value. So what will you do now?
You were born for an awesome purpose. The priceless knowledge of God’s plan for mankind has been made plain through your study of the Bible. The truth your studies have revealed is the fact that God is a Family, and that God is reproducing Himself! God’s purpose for you is that you become a member in the Family of God!
You have also learned the solutions to the seemingly unsolvable problems facing the world today! You have learned the way to world peace-the way to freedom from fear and worry, poverty, sickness and unhappiness. You have also learned the truth about such doctrines as heaven, hell, salvation, law and grace, the Great Tribulation, the resurrection, Christ’s Second Coming to rule the entire earth, the coming 1000 years of world peace and beyond.
Finding the place where you can learn God’s truth is like finding a gold mine (Rom. 11:33). The world has been blinded to this priceless knowledge (Rev. 12:9). This is not the time for most people to be called by God (John 6:44). God has not yet opened their minds to understand the truth about His purpose for mankind.
God allows the world to be spiritually blinded (II Cor. 11:13-15). This condition covers all nations (Isa. 25:7). But God has begun to remove the blindness from some, including you, through His Church that is announcing the coming Kingdom of God to the world! To those of you who God the Father is calling, Christ says, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16).
A New Way of Life
If you are like thousands of others you have been amazed by the new truths you’ve discovered. A new “way of life” has been opened up to you. You have come to understand what it means to be a true Christian. As stated in Romans 12:2, this is a renewing of your mind. This changing of your mind with God’s Spirit, is the key to a new and successful way of thinking and living. Most are not ready to start on the road to living God’s way of life, to serve God in a new life of spiritual growth. This takes time to apply the spiritual knowledge you are learning. But time does not stand still or wait for anyone.
Now Is the Time to Act
What will you do with the precious knowledge God is giving you? Do you think you are too “weak” to change? Does it seem too difficult? We don’t like to change. We don’t like to have to admit that one’s religion or one’s ways may have been wrong. The key to our future survival is our willingness to change our own ideas, customs and beliefs so that they correspond with God’s ways and teachings in the Bible.
Count the Cost
We need seriously to count the cost before committing ourselves to living God’s way of life (Luke 14:28-30). We must put God first in our lives (verses 26-27). We must live God’s way of outgoing concern for others, based on God’s commandments. This is the cost in answering God’s calling. Not one in a thousand people today understands what this means! It requires a sense of urgency, putting all other pursuits second and being willing to take whatever consequences come.
We serve God in fulfilling this calling (Heb. 13:5-6). Satan will try to discourage us. But Christ will finish the work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6). He risked His own future life and position in God’s Family for all of us personally. We must have the ability to discern truth from error. It is not enough to just hear the truth we must respond (Rom. 2:13)You have seen the plain truth of God’s Word revealed. You have seen for yourself out of the Bible that the teachings of modern Christianity are false! And you have discovered that God is serious!
What are you going to do with this priceless knowledge that God has revealed to you through your study of His Word? The choice is up to you. You are accountable.
Repentance Is a New Beginning
Have you come to the place where you see yourself as you really are as God sees you? Are you willing to keep all of God’s commandments? Notice what the Apostle Paul says in II Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove your selves.” John told the Pharisees and Sadducees to “bring forth fruits … [befitting] repentance” (Matt. 3:8).
How can you examine-prove-your self? By comparing your life, thoughts, words and actions with the Word of God. God recognizes a humble attitude. He wants us to have the teachable attitude of little children (I Pet.2:1-2; Matt.18:2-4)True repentance requires a permanent change of direction. It is a total commitment. It is not a temporary, spontaneous emotional response so prevalent today in religious meetings. It is something deeper and vastly more profound!
Unconditional Surrender to God
Once we surrender to God -and are baptized, God puts His Spirit in our minds. It then begins to influence our ways of thinking and living. But His Spirit does not take away our free moral agency. It won’t force us to do anything. It only leads us in the direction of God’s truth and gives us the spiritual strength to do His will.
COMMENT: Jesus is talking about giving our lives to serve God as our highest priority, His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).God wants us to prosper and be in good health (III John 2). He wants us to give up those things that are bad for us-that hurt us spiritually and physically. Repentance and conversion make possible our intelligent use of God’s material creation through the guidance of His law and His Spirit.
3. Is surrendering to God something requiring serious thought? Must we first “count the cost”–realizing what surrendering to God really requires? Luke 14:27-30.
Beware of False Repentance
Repentance is a required step toward entering the Kingdom of God. Real repentance is a matter of mind as well as emotion. It is heartfelt realization that we have thought, spoken, and lived contrary to God’s law and that we should stop doing so.
1. Can people worship Christ, acknowledging Him and yet not enter His Kingdom? Matt. 7:21. How else can one worship Him, and yet not be changed to spirit at Christ’s coming? Matt. 15:7-9. Then who will enter God’s Kingdom? Matt. 7:21, last part.
COMMENT: Notice what else Jesus said about people who worship Him without keeping God’s commandments: “…in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men….Ye reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7-9). Human nature wants to be right, but it doesn’t necessarily want to do right! So people often say, “Well, here’s the way I look at it”- putting their concept of righteousness above the Bible. If it “looks right” to them, it becomes their law. This is self-righteousness.
Another way Satan has deceived millions about repentance is through penance. The Bible clearly shows that no amount of human works can bring about forgiveness for breaking God’s law. Even the sacrificial laws of the Old Testament could not bring full spiritual forgiveness and a clear conscience. They were only symbolic types picturing the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ who was to come much later to die for all mankind (Heb. 9:9-14; 10:4-10).
COMMENT: Many people profess to be religious-they attend churches- they have a “form of godliness.” But they have the attitudes and practices that have made this world what it is today-“this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). God requires a complete reversal in the direction we have been going. In other words, God wants us to stop following the ways that seem right according to human reasoning-to completely turn around and begin following the way of God as revealed in the Bible.
COMMENT: Here is the starting point. God commands us to come out of this world and its wrong ways. We are to become more and more like Christ by allowing God’s Spirit to renew our minds.
5. What is the result of this world’s kind of sorrow, or “repentance”? II Cor. 7:10, last part. But what kind of sorrow does God accept, and where does it lead? Verse 9, first part of verse 10 and verse 11.
COMMENT: It is commonly believed that repentance is simply a temporary remorseful feeling over past mistakes without a real change in our way of living. Such “repentance” is not repentance at all. It is totally unacceptable to God. Real repentance is something far more than a temporary, emotional “experience.” True repentance means a permanent about-face in our thoughts and deeds!
Win the Fight!
We have three deadly enemies to face, each of which tends to discourage us from overcoming sin and developing the character of God.
These can come between us and God-separating us from Him. They tend to put wedges into our minds that can grow, gradually separating us from the guidance and power of God’s Spirit if we allow them to.
2. Did Paul follow God’s way of life-did he know, shortly before his death, that he had won the fight? II Tim. 4:6-8.
COMMENT: The first enemy in our daily struggle against our human nature (Gal. 5:19-21). This nature causes us to rationalize deceitfully (Jer. 17:9). It encourages us to break God’s spiritual law- cutting us off from Him. Wrong habits and impulses can destroy us spiritually, unless we resist them.
COMMENT: Because most people are spiritually deceived (Rev. 12:9), they don’t understand how so many of the world’s ways could be wrong in God’s sight.
5. Should we strive to avoid the evil that is in the world? II Cor. 6:14-18; Rev. 18:4. Does this mean that we should move away from populated areas? John 17:15-18. Notice especially the first part of verse 15.
COMMENT: Christ’s prayer in John 17 shows that God does not expect us to move to the mountains to escape the world’s distractions! Rather, we should be separate spiritually and refuse to participate in the sins of the world.
From earliest childhood we began conforming to the customs and practices that we learned from the teachings and examples of others. We merely accepted, without question, most of the practices and life-styles of the society around us. But as we learn about God’s way, we are to apply ourselves to our new life. “Be not conformed to this world,” said Paul, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
6. Do people always appreciate the person who tries to live according to God’s law? I Pet. 4:3-4; John 15:18-20; 16:33. How should we respond to those who might be antagonistic toward us? Matt. 5:43-47; Rom. 12:20-21.
COMMENT: God has not chosen to call everyone at this time. Some may persecute and ridicule those who follow God’s way. Yet they are potential Sons of God, and we are to love them! God will eventually open their minds and show them His truth.
7. What, or who, is the third great enemy? I Pet. 5:8-9. Is Satan ultimately responsible for inspiring all the evil in this world? II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1-3. As the invisible ruler, has he deceived the whole world? Rev. 12:9.
COMMENT: Satan became perverted in his thinking and developed his evil nature, which he broadcasts to humanity. Humans have unsuspectingly acquired Satan’s nature, which we call “human nature.” This natural state of mind, “is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
But once God’s Spirit is added to our minds, we then have access to the spiritual power to resist the attitudes of self-centeredness, lust, greed, vanity, jealousy, envy, resentment, competition, strife, bitterness and hate that are spiritually broadcast to our minds by Satan. No one is forced to obey these daily impulses from Satan. But the unsuspecting do so without realizing what is taking place in their minds. Most people just drift along, responding to emotions and impulses that often find expression in vain pursuits (Gal. 5:19-21).
Satan, the “god of this world, the prince of the power of the air,” is actually working in (Eph. 2:2) the minds of unsuspecting people all over the world. That is why this world is so thoroughly deceived today!
8. After you receive God’s Spirit, Satan will continue to try to deceive you. What did Paul warn the Corinthian Christians? II Cor. 11:2-4, 13-15. Did some in Paul’s day begin to fall victim to the deceptions of Satan false ministers once again? Gal. 1:6-8; 3:1.
COMMENT: He continues to broadcast his attitudes to our minds in an attempt to spiritually overthrow us. When Jesus Christ spoke of overcoming, He referred to overcoming Satan’s way. Those who have turned from Satan’s way are fighting to overcome his subtle urgings they are the ones Satan hates. He is especially interested in destroying them! But with God’s protection and restraining power over Satan, which He promises to give us if we remain close to Him, we can overcome! Before Jesus Christ could qualify to restore the government of God and rule all nations, He, too, had to withstand Satan’s most severe temptations. Notice how Satan attempted to deceive and influence Jesus Christ to break God’s law.
9. When Jesus had fasted and was extremely hungry, how did Satan appeal both to human vanity and hunger? Matt. 4:1-3. And to the human desire for prestige and power? Verses 5-9. What were Jesus’ immediate responses? Verses 4, 7, 10. What was the outcome of this spiritual battle? Verse 11.
COMMENT: Christ overcame Satan. He responded to his temptations by citing the scripture that applied in each situation. He knew the Bible thoroughly. He knew God’s will. And He obeyed it. Satan could not deceive Him!
11. What instructions on fighting against the impulses and attitudes of Satan does God give us through Paul? Eph. 6:10-12. What are we to put on to be able to fight this spiritual battle? Verses 11-13. Of what does God’s spiritual armor consist? Verses 14-17.
COMMENT: We are to be clothed with the revealed “truth” of God (John 17:17) so we can’t be deceived, and wear the “breastplate of righteousness,” which is the keeping of God’s law (Ps. 119:172). Our feet are to carry ” the gospel of peace”- we are to be actively doing our part in getting out the message of the soon-coming Kingdom of God that will rule this earth and bring it peace.
The “shield of faith” protects us from the attacks and enticements of Satan. This is not our own faith, but the faith of Jesus Christ, which can be within us (Gal. 2:20; Rev. 14:12). Christ’s faith is given to us by God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The “helmet of salvation” (Eph. 6:17) It is the knowledge of God’s awesome purpose for mankind -of becoming members of the Family of God! The “sword of the Spirit” refers to the written Word of God (Heb. 4:12). We must study the Bible and learn God’s will and His promises.
12. What else did Paul say is necessary to win the fight? Eph. 6:18-20.
COMMENT: We are to draw close to God in prayer (I Thess. 5:17), praying for all of God’s people, for the work of God’s Church and for our own needs. This is the formula for successfully overcoming Satan and forcing him to leave. This is the perfect strategy for defeating human nature and the attractions of the world, which are both motivated by Satan.
You Can Overcome
Once baptized you begin a new way of life. But God knows that we still can and sometimes do break His law(I John 1:8-9). But God promises to forgive us if we repent, and continue to overcome. But exactly how is it possible to continue to overcome, and enter into God’s Family? It is through Jesus Christ working in you (Phil. 4:13)
COMMENT: We must try to overcome. Christ said: “My Father works and I work” (John 5:17). God’s way of life is one of productivity, growth and exciting challenge.
COMMENT: We must overcome ungodly habits and thoughts that would ultimately lead to death (Rom. 6:23).It is impossible to conquer the influences of the world, human nature and Satan through human strength alone.
COMMENT: Paul found that when he tried to resist his human nature, bad habits and law breaking would not easily be dismissed. In fact, when his attention was drawn to fighting personal sins, they seemed to become more pronounced.(verse 24). Paul did overcome. Shortly before his death, he wrote to Timothy: “… I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day [the time of the resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming], and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (II Tim. 4:6-8, Revised Standard Version ).
COMMENT: Jesus Christ, who has already defeated Satan and qualified to become “King of kings" will help defeat Satan and this world’s influences through God’s Spirit! He told His disciples He had overcome the world (John 16:33).
5. But didn’t Jesus say He could, of Himself, do nothing? John 5:30.
COMMENT: Even the Son of God said He could do nothing (no spiritual works) by His own human power. If Christ, had no faith in Himself, how much less, then, can we accomplish by trusting in ourselves?
6. What was the source of Christ’s faith? John 14:10-11.
COMMENT: The Father who lived in Jesus Christ through His Spirit helped Him obey the law!
COMMENT: The Bible shows that we have a part in the process. Many professing Christians believe that Jesus obeyed God’s law for us. We are not excused from overcoming, growing in spiritual character, and enduring in spite of opposition or temptation. The Bible makes it clear that having faith does not excuse us from having spiritual works.
This is a great mystery to those who don’t understand God’s purpose and plan. Since we must do these things but are unable to do them ourselves, many have concluded that God sent Jesus to do it all for us. Nothing could be further from the truth! The answer is the key. It is faith in God’s power- the same kind of living faith Jesus had!
8. By whose faith is a Christian’s obedience to God’s spiritual law made possible? Rev. 14:12.
COMMENT: We have the “faith of Jesus Christ.” It’s not just our faith in Him, but His faith-the very faith through which He kept God’s law-placed in us and acting in us!
9. Does the Bible call Jesus the author and finisher of our faith? Heb. 12:2-4.
COMMENT: A more accurate translation of the phrase “author and finisher” is “pioneer, perfecter.” Jesus led the way, as our pioneer, setting US the supreme example of living faith. But Jesus also perfects His faith in us! Here’s how.
COMMENT: Paul didn’t live by his own faith. The mind of Christ lived in Paul through God’s Spirit. And the Spirit of God implanted in Paul’s mind the same faith that can be in your mind! This faith will enable you to live a life of overcoming as did Paul.
COMMENT: Christ, who can live in us by God’s Spirit, will make our spiritual obedience and overcoming possible!
12. What must you do to receive God’s Spirit and the faith of Jesus Christ? Acts 2:38. Must you be willing to obey God? Acts 5:32. And must you first show faith before He will give you His faith? Acts 20:21; Rom. 1:17.
COMMENT: God will give His Spirit and ‘the faith of Christ’ only to those who meet these prior conditions. We must show our own faith, or belief. Upon faith in Him, God is bound by His Word to give us His Spirit.
13. Once we receive God’s Spirit, must the faith that it gives us grow? II Thess. 1:3.
COMMENT: Faith is not complete at the moment we receive God Spirit. Faith must grow. It needs exercise and practice, it must grow by testing and by works. We are to keep God’s law and live as if it depended on our own effort, God makes up the necessary difference. Paul had his limitations, we look to God for help “For my weakness makes me strong in him” (II Cor. 12:10, Phillips). Paul walked, talked and lived with Christ and the Father through God’s Spirit. So can you.
Why Overcoming Is So Important
Let’s understand what it has to do with the responsibilities we will have in the Kingdom of God.
1. Did Jesus Christ become perfect? Heb. 5:9; 2:9-10. Notice especially the last part of verse 10. What did Christ set as the goal for His true followers? Matt. 5:48. Who are they to become like? Eph. 4:13.
2. Even though Christ was the Son of God and had God’s Spirit without measure (John 3:34), did He still have to learn obedience? Heb. 5:8-9. Did Christ overcome and did He resist temptation? John 16:33; Heb. 4:15.
COMMENT: No one can overcome for us. It requires putting forth effort on our part, together with the power of God’s Spirit, to become the kind of spiritually minded person God can use in His Kingdom.
Qualifying to Rule with Christ
1. By what principle can a person of ordinary ability qualify to take on far greater responsibility in the Kingdom of God? Luke 16:10.
COMMENT: We learn to rule by being conscientious in whatever we do. We must put into practice in our daily lives the principles and laws we learn from God’s Word. Even the person who considers himself to have only a little ability and natural talent can qualify to rule in God’s Kingdom. We learn to rule in the world tomorrow by learning to manage our own affairs and responsibilities today, no matter how small they may be.
God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11; Gal. 3:28). Whether we were born male or female has no bearing on our reward in God’s Kingdom. Our future reward will be determined by our works in this life. Recall that it is by God’s grace that we will enter His Kingdom, living forever is a gift from God. But it is our works that will qualify us for an office of responsibility-an opportunity for greater service, for doing more good- once we enter God’s ruling Family.
But to qualify to serve and teach in the world tomorrow, we must learn to serve now. The only reason any person is called now is to qualify to help the thousands of millions during the Millennium and later. God hasn’t selected certain ones today for special favors, it is to prepare for greater service in tomorrow’s world. We are now in training to help teach the world God’s way and to administer the government of God for the good of humanity.
Are You Qualifying for That Job?
You were born with the awesome potential of becoming a member of the ruling Family of God. And after that, to help rule the entire universe throughout all eternity! This is the incredible human potential, the awesome destiny God has in store for those who become members of His Family! Have you begun obeying God? Are you growing in self-control? In the ability to restrain wrong desires, selfish motives or vanity? Are you replacing bad habits and attitudes with right thoughts and deeds?
If you have not yet begun to control and constructively guide even the little powers in your care-your temper, your voice, your passions and emotions, your income-then how could God entrust you with far greater responsibilities in the Kingdom of God? Ask God for the understanding and wisdom to rightly use and direct the comparatively small powers, abilities and responsibilities that are now yours so you can be faithful and productive.
Strive to be faithful over what God has already given you, so one day Christ can say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much” (Matt. 25:21, Revised Standard Version). This life is the training ground. We learn to rule by performing our responsibilities and by learning to rule over ourselves. God will not use any person He does not govern (Luke 19:27). So learn God’s laws. Study them. Think about them. Live by them. And with the power of God’s Spirit, grow in the character of God by obeying Him and overcoming the temptations of the world and the influence of Satan.
Seek God, drawing closer to Him in prayer and Bible study. Continue to build the character of God during your lifetime until death or until the moment Jesus Christ returns and instantly changes your weak, physical body into a sinless, spirit body (Phil. 3:20- 21).
Then you will be ready to to fulfill your awesome destiny of helping to rule the earth and the universe as a member of the Family of God!
It’s a breathtaking, exciting, incredible calling! A wonderful future!
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