Bible Study Series – How To Become a Disciple of Jesus Christ


Overview

Matthew’s gospel paints a compelling background to Jesus famous’ ‘Sermon On The Mount’: “5:1 – Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.” With this ancient picture in mind: What is a disciple of Jesus; and what does Christian discipleship look like today? A disciple is essentially a student. But there is a significant difference between the average teacher/student relationship today and the kind that Jesus shared with his disciples. While the goal of modern students is usually to get information from their teachers in order to pass a class, Jesus put forward the goal of discipleship like this, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Jesus’ definition of a disciple helps us understand why his original 1st century disciples didn’t just take notes in a classroom for an hour or so and then return home. Instead, Jesus’ disciples followed him around, day and night, observing his life and the way he worked, rested, and related to others. The aim of Jesus’s disciples was to grow spiritually and become more like Jesus – who was not just their teacher but also their Lord (e.g. Luke 6:46).

Today as we consider what is required for us to be Jesus’ disciples, it’s important to notice that the word ‘disciple’ is the root of the word ‘discipline’. Everyone who has ever sought to excel in his or her studies or in sport or musically knows that any worthwhile pursuit requires regular training. The process of Christian discipleship begins with understanding who Jesus is and what he is all about. Studying Jesus’ famous ‘Sermon On The Mount’ will help us toward this end. However, Christian discipleship is more a spiritual pursuit than an academic exercise. Therefore, we can only grow as Christ’s disciples with the help of the risen Lord Jesus, through the daily guidance of his Holy Spirit and the assistance of our fellow-disciples: The Church.

As daunting as discipleship might sound, we should gain encouragement from the fact that it was a disciple named Matthew, a tax collector, who recorded Jesus’ life and teaching found in our first gospel. In Jesus’ day, tax collectors were often despised and likened to prostitutes and other notorious sinners. Therefore, becoming Jesus’ disciple isn’t an exercise for the very religious, but a vital pursuit for ordinary sinners like Matthew, and for us as well. This will become clearer in our very first study.

Bible Studies

Title Download (Word)
Overview SOM discipleship ov2
1. Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ Nine Blessings (Matthew 5:1 – 12) SOM discipleship study 1 Blessings
2. Being salt and light (Matthew 5:13 – 16) SOM discipleship study 2 Salt
3. Perfectly fulfilling God’s Law (Matthew 5:17 – 48) SOM discipleship study 3
4. For Whom Do We live? (Matthew 6:1-8,16 – 18) SOM discipleship study 4 worship
5. How should we pray? (Matthew 6:5 – 15; 7:7 – 11) SOM discipleship study 5 prayer
6. Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 6:19 – 34) SOM study 6
7. Judgment and Forgiveness. (Matthew 7:1-2) SOM discipleship study 7 judging
8. Coming soon Coming soon..

What is Biblical Baptism?


What is Biblical Baptism?

 Download a printable copy here: What is Biblical baptism (word document).

Lesson one: Why are Christians baptized?

The best place to begin a study of the origins of Christian baptism is with John’s baptism of Jesus (see Matthew 3:13 – 17). Before baptizing Jesus, John the Baptist had been telling his fellow Israelites to be baptized as a way of turning away from their sins and preparing to meet their Savior.

The gospels make it clear that John’s baptism of Jesus didn’t mean that Jesus was a sinner like everyone else. In fact, Jesus is the one that God sent to save the world from sin. But by being baptized Jesus demonstrated his humble obedience to every command that God gave to his people. God also used this event to announce who Jesus was by sending the Holy Spirit upon him [in the form of a dove] and audibly declaring, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” After Jesus’ baptism, John began pointing his followers to Jesus as the one who would baptize, not just with water, but also with the Holy Spirit. After this, John’s baptism ministry began to fade into the background, as John himself declared, “Now [Jesus] must become greater, and I must become less.” (John 3:29 – 30)

After his death for sins and resurrection from the grave, Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18 – 20). It is this ‘Great Commission’ of Jesus that is behind the Church’s historical and universal practice of baptism to this day.

Questions to consider:

  • In your own words explain why Jesus is central to Christian baptism?
  • Give two reasons that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:13 – 17.
  • Read John 1:29 – 34. Explain the difference between John’s baptism and the one Jesus spoke about to his disciples after his death and resurrection (in Matthew 28:18 – 20).
  • Think about the details of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16-17. Why did Jesus go on to command his followers to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

Lesson two: What is the background and meaning of baptism?

While the Old Testament (written before Jesus) doesn’t specifically mention baptism, it can help us understand the background to baptism. The Law of Moses (written about 1500 years before Jesus) describes various sacred cleansing rituals. One such ritual involved using a hyssop branch to sprinkle God’s holy people with a mixture of water and the blood of sacrificed animals to purify them (see Hebrews 9:19 – 22).

Hundreds of years later King David made reference to this Old Testament practice in his Psalm of confession. After sinning with Bathsheba, David prayed, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:2, 7). In these two examples we see the Old Testament connection between cleansing with water, sacrifice, and the forgiveness of sins.

Like the Old Testament cleansing ceremonies before it, Christian baptism also has more than just one layer of meaning. Some of the symbolic meanings connected with baptism include:

  • Repentance (turning away from sin), forgiveness, and spiritual renewal (see Matthew 3:11 and Titus 3:4-6).
  • The fact that all believers are told to be baptized also demonstrates our unity in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12 -13 & Galatians 3:26 – 28).
  • Finally, baptism is a way of symbolically acting out and openly proclaiming Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins, his burial, and his resurrection (Romans 6:3 – 4).

Is there one correct Biblical method of baptism?

Because John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River we can assume that this probably involved Jesus being immersed in (going down into) the water. But the various Old Testament cleansing rituals (mentioned above) may help us understand the origins of other methods of Christian baptism such as sprinkling and pouring water. It’s important to understand that the New Testament doesn’t give us instructions on how to baptize. However, the Christian Church gradually began to develop various customs and regulations regarding baptism. For example, a first century early church document known as ‘The Didache’ [I.e. ‘The Teaching’] states, “baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [free flowing] water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit… you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.” We should note that these traditional instructions are fairly detailed, yet still leave room for various forms of baptism. In other words, it’s not the way in which we’re baptized that is important, but instead it is our faith in Jesus and our understanding of the meaning behind baptism that truly matters.

Questions to consider:

  • Name two or three meanings of Christian baptism.
  • What are some different ways in which people in the Bible and Christian history have been baptized or religiously cleansed?
  • What does baptism mean to you personally?

Lesson three: Who should be baptized, and when?

One thing that is clear is that Jesus instructed all his followers to be baptized as a way of demonstrating their faith in him. Therefore, in his very first public sermon (40 days after Jesus’ death and resurrection) the apostle Peter proclaimed, “’Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:36 – 41)

We should also notice that, while the Bible doesn’t specifically tell us how soon a believer must be baptized, the New Testament example in the book of Acts indicates that the first believers were baptized immediately after they professed their faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes baptisms happened in church gatherings and other times in homes or elsewhere, depending where a believer was when he/she professed their faith in Jesus. (E.g. Acts 2:40 – 41, 8:36 – 38)

Furthermore, Peter’s proclamation about salvation was for both his audience and their children (2:39). In fact we can see a similar principle in the story of the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his household in Acts 16:25 – 34. However, the New Testament doesn’t specifically tell us whether all those in these households were old enough to understand and believe the good news about Jesus for themselves, or if some of these believing families also had infants who were baptized. But we do know that the question of when to baptize the children of Christians has since become an issue. The New Testament doesn’t comment on age at which a child can or should be baptized. However, the two main church practices in this regard are:

1. Not to baptize anyone until they are old enough to profess their personal faith in Jesus Christ. In some churches, baptism has become like a confirmation ceremony since a believer is only baptized when he/she demonstrates an adequate understanding of and maturity in the faith.

2. To baptize the infant children of Christians with the understanding that when they are old enough they must confirm their own faith in Jesus. This second practice sometimes involves baptized infants being ‘confirmed’ when they are older, before they can share in their first holy communion.

A final important note connected with the above topic

Although Peter proclaimed to his audience that first they should be baptized and then receive the Holy Spirit, these two things occur in the reverse order in the story of the first Gentile converts (Cornelius and his household) in Acts 10:44 – 48. Therefore, what is important to understand is that baptism is an outward sign of faith, but receiving the Holy Spirit is a sign that Jesus has come to live within a believer. Peter’s words don’t mean that a believer won’t receive the Holy Spirit until he/she is baptized. In fact, a person can’t be ‘born again’ without the internal work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1 – 8).

Questions to consider:

  • According to Jesus and his disciples, who should be baptized?
  • How would you answer someone who asked how soon a person should be baptized after becoming a Christian?
  • Is there any Biblical evidence that children can be baptized? Explain.
  • Is there a connection between receiving the Holy Spirit and baptism? Explain.
  • Read the story of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39 – 43). This story never records that this man was baptized. Therefore, was he saved? Explain.

Conclusion: What is our church’s baptism practice?

Ephesians 2:8 – 9 states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Therefore, baptism is not a religious work that saves us, but an outward symbol of God’s grace and love for us expressed through Jesus Christ. The reality of spiritual cleansing is not done by water but through the internal work of the Holy Spirit when we confess our sins and put our faith in Jesus.

All this explains why Jesus commanded that believers be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In light of the complex history and the various traditions surrounding baptism, our church is open to receiving members who have been baptized in various ways in other churches, as long as they are committed to Christ. We are also willing to baptize people by various methods and at various ages. But our most common practice is to baptize professing believers by immersion.

Write down/ask any further questions you have about baptism.

If you are interested in being baptized please contact Rev Chadd Hafer

 

Bible study: Wisdom of the Old Testament


Old Testament Wisdom Books Overview

Many people would be aware that the Bible is divided into two major sections: The Old Testament and The New Testament. However, fewer would be aware that the Bible also contains further sub-divisions. The New Testament can be subdivided into at least four sections: The Gospels; Acts; The Apostolic Letters and Revelation. The Old Testament can also be subdivided into at least four smaller units including: The Five Books of Moses; The Historical Books; The Writings/Wisdom Literature and The Prophets. There are more subdivisions we could explore as well. But the purpose of this short Bible study series is to focus on three books from the Writings or Wisdom Literature: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job. These books offer three unique perspectives on pursuing a godly understanding of life in this fallen world.

Ultimately true wisdom is found in following Christ. As an obedient son, Jesus did everything that his Heavenly Father asked of him. However, doing so didn’t bring Jesus worldly wealth, fame and prosperity, but instead humiliation, suffering and death. As Christ’s followers we need to count the costs of following Jesus and keep our eyes fixed on his heavenly reward. This is true wisdom.

Click to download the printouts for the wisdom books bible studies:

Study Bible reference Resources
Overview NA Wisdom 1 – OT Wisdom Books Overview
1 Proverbs 1:1-33 Wisdom 2 – Proverbs one 1 & Sermon
2  Ecclesiastes 1 Wisdom 3 – Ecclesiastes study & Sermon
3 Job 1 Wisdom 4 – A lesson in real-life wisdom from Job & Sermon

John’s ‘Water’ Gospel

John study sevenJohn study sixWater gospel header

 




This Bible study series is called, ‘John’s Water Gospel’ because of John’s frequent use of water symbolism, (such as baptism, water being turned into wine, water that heals and gives eternal life, the washing of feet, and water flowing from Jesus’ pierced side). John concludes his gospel by saying that he recorded these things ‘so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ (John 20:31) Therefore, what can John’s frequent use of water symbolism teach us about the good news of Jesus Christ?

Study Bible reference Resources
Overview NA John overview 
1 John 1 John study 1 & sermon
2 John 2 John study 2 & sermon
3   John 3  John study 3 & sermon
4  John 4 John study 4 & sermon
5 John 13  John study five
6  John 19 John study six
7 John 20   John study seven
8
9
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Acts series


Acts

Starting this week, CroydonPark@10 will start a exciting new sermon series on the Book of Acts!

In Luke’s introduction, he states,

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven” (Acts 1:1 – 2).

Acts picks up during the forty-day period between Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven. Luke tells us that during this time Jesus continued to teach his disciples about the kingdom of God, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the necessity to spread the gospel throughout the world. (Acts 1:3 – 7)

Studying Acts will help us to gain a better understanding and appreciation for how the Christian church was established and how the gospel of Jesus Christ was spread throughout the world. But Acts is not just a history book, but also the word of God. Therefore, Acts is there to teach and inspire us to continue Christ’s mission to keep making disciples and spreading his good news of salvation until Jesus returns.

Resources

Study Bible reference Resources
Overview NA Acts study summary
1 Acts 1:1-11 Acts study 1, sermon
2 Acts 2:1-21 Acts study 2, sermon
3 ACTS 2:42-47 Acts study 3, sermon
4 ACTS 4:32-5:11 Acts study 4, sermon
5  Acts 6:1-7 Acts study 5, sermon
6 Acts 6:8-15 and 7:51-8:8 Acts study 6, sermon
7 Acts 9:1-22 Acts study 7, sermon
8  Acts 10 Acts study 8, sermon
9  Acts 11:19-30 Acts study 9, sermon
10  Acts 15:1-35 Acts study 10, sermon

SALT, coming soon this winter!

Dear folks at CP@10,

This Winter we will have a new and exciting set of seminars called SALT, that will run for 4 Wednesday nights in August instead of our usual small group meetings. SALT sessions will be a Q & A panel discussion format where different topics related to Christ and popular culture will be examined and you will be able to ask questions of the panel. The aims are:

  1. To help us think more Christianly about everyday topics and to get practice in ‘taking every thought captive and making them obedient to the teachings of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  2. To demonstrate how to use everyday topics to share the gospel with those who aren’t Christians or who don’t attend church (1 Peter 3:15).
  3. To provide some interesting forums that our unchurched friends may be interested in attending.

We need your help in deciding which topics will be the most useful and interesting for you. Vote now for the top four topics you would like to hear about, or to suggest others you are interested in!

Vote for SALT topics

Thanks for your input,

 

Lawrence, Des and Chadd

Helps for reading Leviticus yourself



We’re in the middle of a series on Leviticus called ‘Wholehearted Holiness’. Many are having a go at reading Leviticus for themselves. If that is you, here are some helps from the Briefing website:

An excellent introduction, highlighting the value of Leviticus for understanding the good/great/spectacular(!) news of Jesus:

Reading Leviticus – Jean Williams

Questions and notes for you as you read through!:

Bible Brief: Leviticus – Jocelyn Williams

And for those wrestling with the wider question of reading the Old Testament in the light of Jesus, here is a good article to get you thinking:

Bridging the gap between the Old and New Testament – Greg Clarke and Joshua Ng

 

Happy reading, Mark

 

Winter school resource: I can write a Bible study

Click and download Sam and Brian’s notes from winter school: I can Write a Bible study (PDF).

Winter school resource: Evangelism today by Sam Chan

A great resource by Sam Chan on Evangelism Today.

3 tips:

  1. Your friends have to become their friends
  2. Church is for both Christians and non-Christians
  3. Listen to their story first

Finally, learn to tell your story.

Check out the course notes in full here: Evangelism for Today (PDF).

Winter school resource: Raising Christian Kids

Kit and Arthur’s presentation on Raising Christian Kids: Raising Christian Kids (Power Point presentation)

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