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9. Destruction of the Amorite Coalition (Joshua 10:1-43)

Chapter 10 describes Israel’s campaign and victory over the southern portion of Canaan. Something happened which provided Joshua with a great military opportunity for a quick victory over a number of the enemy at once rather than by a long, drawn out campaign against the cities one by one.

The Amorite Coalition
(10:1-5)

10:1 Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua captured Ai and annihilated it and its king as he did Jericho and its king. He also heard how the people of Gibeon made peace with Israel and lived among them. 10:2 All Jerusalem was terrified because Gibeon was a large city, like one of the royal cities. It was larger than Ai and all its men were warriors. 10:3 So Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem, sent this message to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon: 10:4 “Come to my aid so we can attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.” 10:5 So the five Amorite kings (the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon) and all their troops gathered together and advanced. They deployed their troops and fought against Gibeon.

Being very alarmed over the news of the victories of Israel, as at Jericho and Ai, and hearing of the Gibeonite’s covenant with Israel which was viewed as treasonous, one of the kings of the south, Adoni-Zedek (Lord of Righteousness), king of Jerusalem, gathered other kings of the region together to attack Gibeon. They had belonged to the Amorite coalition which was probably a defense coalition against invading forces. So, in retaliation and also because of fear of the united power of the Gibeonites with Israel, the five kings listed in Joshua 10:5, moved against the city of Gibeon.

The defection of the Gibeonites was cause for great alarm for three reasons: (1) it was discouraging to see such a large city with an excellent army surrender to the enemy, (2) without Gibeon the southern coalition was severely weakened, and (3) they constituted a fifth column that would fight with Israel in time of war. Though it had no king (see comment on 9:11), Gibeon was “like one of the royal cities”; it was just as strong and influential as any city-state (cf. 11:12). There is a wordplay between “Gibeon” and “good fighters,” which is literally gibborim. Boling (p. 279) defines gibborim as “men trained in combat and prosperous enough to afford armament, squire, and leisure time for such activity.”61

Miraculous Deliverance
(10:6-15)

10:6 The men of Gibeon sent this message to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, “Do not abandon your subjects! Rescue us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings living in the hill country are attacking us.” 10:7 So Joshua and his whole army, including the bravest warriors, marched up from Gilgal. 10:8 The LORD told Joshua, “Don’t be afraid of them, for I am handing them over to you. Not one of them can resist you.

10:9 Joshua attacked them by surprise, after marching all night from Gilgal. 10:10 The LORD routed them before Israel. Israel thoroughly defeated them at Gibeon. They chased them up the road to the pass of Beth Horon and struck them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 10:11 As they fled from Israel on the slope leading down from Beth Horon, the LORD threw on them large hailstones from the sky, all the way to Azekah. They died—in fact more died from the hailstones than the Israelites killed with the sword.

10:12 The day the LORD delivered the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua prayed to the LORD before Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon! O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon!” 10:13 The sun stood still and the moon stood motionless while the nation took vengeance on its enemies. The event is recorded in the scroll of the upright one. The sun stood motionless in the middle of the sky and did not set for about a full day. 10:14 There has not been a day like it before or since. The LORD obeyed a man, for the LORD fought for Israel! 10:15 Then Joshua and all Israel returned to the camp at Gilgal.

The Call for Help (vs. 6)

Faced with the armies of the coalition and certain destruction, the Gibeonites sent a messenger to Joshua asking for help based on their treaty with Israel.

The Response of Joshua and Israel (vs. 7)

Humanly speaking, this was the perfect opportunity for Joshua to get rid of the Gibeonites. Why shouldn’t Joshua just ignore the very people who had deceived them? Why not let the coalition destroy them and rid him of the embarrassment? There were at least two reasons he could not do that: First, as a man of integrity who honored his word, Joshua did not consider that an option. They had given their word and were duty bound to honor it. Second, this now provided a unique military opportunity. Rather than a long, drawn out campaign against one city at a time, this gave them the opportunity to defeat and destroy several armies at once.

The Promise of the LORD (vs. 8)

The fact that God now gives this promise might suggest that Joshua had inquired of the Lord and had received this answer and promise. With all these kings coming together, there was surely a certain amount of concern in Joshua’s heart. The situation was urgent, and God’s word of encouragement and his promise of victory were certainly needed.

The Battle Described (vss. 9-15)

Our text tells us Joshua and his men marched all night, about 25 miles and all uphill (some 4,000 feet) over steep and difficult terrain. This meant, with no opportunity to rest, his fighting men would be tired. They would certainly need the sovereign strength of the Lord. By marching under cover of darkness, Joshua was able to take the enemy by surprise and this created disorder in the enemies camp. Further, God sent hailstones to kill even more than Joshua and his army were able to put to death.

This passage provides an excellent example of the interplay between the work of God and the work of man in achieving victory. As Campbell notes: “certainly there are occasions when we can do nothing but wait for God to act; but usually we are to do our part with dependence on God to do His.”62 Here, then, is another example where man’s efforts and God’s sovereign intervention cooperated, but the clear emphasis is on the fact it was the Lord who gave the victory. God gives us responsibilities, things we are to do. We are to pray, witness, and minister to others in many ways, but ultimately, we must understand that if there is going to be victory, it is God who gives it.

We should remember too that these Canaanites were those who worshipped nature gods. What a shock when they realized that their gods, in which they had placed their faith, were helpless against the God of Israel. Perhaps they thought that their own gods were aiding the Israelites.

With verse 12, we move to one of the great miracles of the Bible. It is often called “Joshua’s long day,” or “the day the sun stood still.” This is the greatest of four miracles found in the book of Joshua: (a) The parting of the Jordan River (3:7-17); (b) The destruction of Jericho (6:1-27); (c) The hail and sword destroy the Gibeonites (10:1-11); (d) The sun and moon stand still (10:12-15). What was the purpose for this miracle?

. . . the day of the battle of Beth Horon was wearing on and Joshua knew that the pursuit of the enemy would be long and arduous. At the most the military leader had 12 hours of daylight ahead of him. He clearly needed more time if he were to realize the fulfillment of God’s promise (v. 8) and see the total annihilation of his foes. Joshua therefore took to the Lord an unusual request: O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.

10:13-15. It was noon and the hot sun was directly overhead when Joshua uttered this prayer. The moon was on the horizon to the west. The petition was quickly answered by the Lord. Joshua prayed in faith, and a great miracle resulted. But the record of this miracle has been called the most striking example of conflict between Scripture and science because, as is well known, the sun does not move around the earth causing day and night. Instead, light and darkness come because the earth rotates on its axis around the sun. Why then did Joshua address the sun rather than the earth? Simply because he was using the language of observation; he was speaking from the perspective and appearance of things on earth. People still do the same thing, even in the scientific community. Almanacs and journals record the hours of sunrise and sunset, yet no one accuses them of scientific error.63

But just how are we to explain this fourth miracle in the book of Joshua? Regarding this, Ryrie writes:

Views concerning this phenomenon fall into two categories. The first assumes a slowing or suspending of the normal rotation of the earth so that there were extra hours that day (either 12 or 24). God did this so that Joshua’s forces could complete their victory before the enemy had a night for rest and regrouping. The Hebrew for “stood still” (v. 13) is a verb of motion, indicating a slowing or stopping of the rotation of the earth on its axis (which would not affect the earth’s movement around the sun). Verse 14 indicates that this was a unique day in the history of the world. The second category includes views that assume no irregularity in the rotation of the earth. One such view argues for the prolonging of daylight by some sort of unusual refraction of the sun’s rays. Thus, there were more daylight hours but not more hours in the day. Another view supposes a prolonging of semi-darkness to give Joshua’s men relief from the blazing summer sun, accomplished by God’s sending an unusual summer hailstorm. This view takes stood still in verse 13 to mean “be still” or “cease,” indicating that the sun was clouded by the storm and no extra hours were added to the day. Verses 12-15 are quoted from the book of Jashar, a collection of songs praising the heroes of Israel (also in 2 Sam. 1:18).64

Concerning the difficulties of this passage, Boice says:

I confess that I have not great convictions as to what happened, and as I read the various articles and books available, I sense that no one else has very strong convictions on this point, either. I do not believe the words are poetry, in spite of their having been in the book of Jashar, a largely poetical book. I doubt if the earth actually stopped its rotation, even more that the sun and moon actually stopped in their passage through space. I tend to think that other phenomenal were used by God to prolong daylight, but I do not know, and all I can say is that I am content to wait until God himself reveals precisely what happened. What is certain is that God did something to give the Jewish armies a complete and decisive victory.65

The Defeat of the Rest of Southern Canaan
(10:16-43)

16 Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17 And it was told Joshua, saying, "The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah." 18 And Joshua said, "Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them, 19 but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies and attack them in the rear. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand. " 20 And it came about when Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished slaying them with a very great slaughter, until they were destroyed, and the survivors who remained of them had entered the fortified cities, 21 that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace. No one uttered a word against any of the sons of Israel.

22 Then Joshua said, "Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave." 23 And they did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24 And it came about when they brought these kings out to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." So they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25 Joshua then said to them, "Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight." 26 So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening. 27 And it came about at sunset that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and put large stones over the mouth of the cave, to this very day.

28 Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

29 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. 30 And the LORD gave it also with its king into the hands of Israel, and he struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor in it. Thus he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

31 And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish, and they camped by it and fought against it. 32 And the LORD gave Lachish into the hands of Israel; and he captured it on the second day, and struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah.

33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish, and Joshua defeated him and his people until he had left him no survivor. 34 And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. 35 And they captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

36 Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. 37 And they captured it and struck it and its king and all its cities and all the persons who were in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor, according to all that he had done to Eglon. And he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it.

38 Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to Debir, and they fought against it. 39 And he captured it and its king and all its cities, and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah and its king.

40 Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41 And Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon. 42 And Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. 43 So Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp at Gilgal. (Joshua 10:16-43)

The five kings and their armies had left the safety of their fortified cities to fight Joshua and his army out in the open which gave Joshua a great advantage. He was determined to keep them from escaping to the safety of their walls which would prolong the campaign against that portion of the land. Verse 17 informs us that when Joshua received a report that the kings were hiding in a cave, he ordered the cave sealed with large rocks with men assigned to guard it. Capturing the five kings was an important event, but there were more pressing matters. He would deal with them later for the more pressing concern was to pursue the fleeing armies. Here we see the wisdom of a leader putting first things first. This is seen in his statement, “But don’t you delay! Chase your enemies and catch them! Don’t allow them to retreat to their cities for the LORD your God is handing them over to you.” Note how again we see the combined emphasis in Joshua’s thinking of human responsibility and tactical wisdom along with faith in the One who really gives victory.

Only after the battle is over and Israel’s army had totally destroyed the enemy did Joshua return his attention to the five kings. In this regard, he did two major things. First, following an ancient Eastern custom sometimes pictured on Egyptian and Assyrian monuments, Joshua made the defeated kings lie down in the dust before him and his commanders. He then called his commanders to come and place their feet on the necks of the five kings, which was symbol of victory and complete subjection. But Joshua, the wise commander did more. He used this as an opportunity to focus his commanders and his army on the Lord. With the feet of his commanders on the necks of the kings, Joshua said, “Don’t be afraid and don’t panic! Be strong and brave, for the LORD will do the same thing to all your enemies you fight.” Then he executed the five kings by hanging them on five trees until evening (vs. 26). Thus, the defeat of the five kings and their armies gave complete victory over Southern Canaan.

Verses 40-43 conclude the chapter by telling us Joshua totally subdued the land according to its four regions: the hill country, the Negev (the desert area to the more distant south), the western foothills, and the mountain slopes. How did he do so? “… the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.” Thus the chapter closes with a familiar ring of Scripture. The battle is the Lord’s and He will fight for His people.

Our need is to keep our eyes on Him, to obey Him, and above all, to trust in His strength rather than in our own. This will usually mean expending great effort as we see Israel doing here all the while knowing that the Lord is also at work to enable and to fight for us.

I am reminded of Paul’s comments in Colossians. Speaking of his calling and the great effort involved in proclaiming the risen Christ, he wrote: “We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all men with all wisdom so that we may present every man mature in Christ. 1:29 Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.” (emphasis mine)

Dr. Don Campbell, in his conclusion to this chapter which he titled, People Who Know Their God, has a focus that really provides a fitting conclusion to this study on the book of Joshua. He writes:

Most of us learn, early in our Christian experience, that we do not just face one enemy. We face a coalition of evil forces that have banded together in an attempt to destroy us. Those enemies are commonly called “the world,” “the flesh,” and “the devil.” The world pressures us and hammers us and tries to conform us to its mold. The flesh is the sinfulness within us which betrays us and undermines us and sabotages us, even though we want to serve God with our minds and our bodies. The devil is master strategist of the assault against us and sometimes attacks us openly, sometimes craftily, but always with an unerring sense of where our weaknesses lie.

Together, the world, the flesh, and the devil make an unbeatable combination—or they would be unbeatable, if not for the saving intervention of God. Without God, victory against such an alliance is impossible. With God, victory is assured …

Joshua was a man who knew God above all else. The results are impressively recorded here. As Daniel later wrote, “The people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Dan. 11:32). For Joshua, for Daniel, and for you and me, the key to victory is knowing God personally and trusting Him completely.66

As we saw in the introductory material of this study, Joshua is the book of possession in which Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, possesses their God-given possessions, but not without having to go up against hostile forces. The Christian life is precisely like this. In Christ we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). In Him, we are complete (Col. 2:10), but the appropriation of those blessings requires faith in the accomplished work of Christ, along with personal effort, not in the flesh, but the disciplines of godliness—things such as prayer, Bible study, meditating on God’s Word, and regular fellowship with other believers for encouragement.

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (1 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV)

7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (Hebrews 3:7-19, NASB)


61 Expositors Bible Commentary, electronic version.

62 John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Victor Books, Wheaton, 1983,1985, electronic media.

63 Walvoord and Zuck, electronic media.

64 Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, p. 347-348.

65 Boice, pp. 113-114.

66 Campbell and Denny, pp. 148-149.

The Epistle to the Galatians

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The Epistle to the Galatians is a powerful Christian treatise designed to declare the truth of salvation by grace alone and the goal of such a salvation; namely, a life of joyous freedom from sin’s tyranny, on the one hand, and increasing enslavement to Christ on the other.1 It is surely, as one author has called it, “The Charter of Christian Liberty.”2 Its importance for understanding Paul and the core of his doctrine of justification by faith alone can hardly be overstated, with the result that it has received a long and extensive treatment by the church. It had a tremendous impact on the Reformers, including Luther, who said, “The epistle to the Galatians is my epistle. To it I am as it were in wedlock. It is my Catherine.”3 Boice, commenting on its impact since the Protestant Reformation, says, “not many books have made such a lasting impression on men's minds as the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, nor have many done so much to shape the history of the Western world.”4

Authorship

Apart from a few radical Dutch critics, the Pauline authorship of Galatians (as a whole or certain parts) has never been seriously questioned.5 Indeed, the letter has often been used as a benchmark from which to test the authenticity of the other Pauline letters. As Richard Longenecker points out:

The most uncontroverted matter in the study of Galatians is that the letter was written by Paul, the Christian apostle whose ministry is portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles. The letter begins by naming him as its author (1:1). Furthermore, the nature of its theological argument, its distinctive use of Scripture in support of that argument, the character of its impassioned appeals, and the style of writing all point to Paul as its author. If Galatians is not by Paul, no NT letter is by him, for none has any better claim.6

However, the date and destination of the letter, to which we now turn, has not fared so well.

Destination

With respect to the first of the problems, that is, the destination of the letter, the text of Galatians 1:2 clearly says “to the churches of Galatia” (tai'" ejkklhsivai" th'" Galativa"). But, the interpretive question is: “Where is the 'Galatia' to which Paul refers?” Some say the term refers to Galatia in a geographical sense (i.e., the North theory and churches in Ancyra, Pessinus and Tavium) while others say it refers to Galatia as the Roman provincial title7 (i.e., the South theory and churches in Antioch [Pisidia], Iconium [Phrygia], Lystra, Derbe).8 F. F. Bruce summarizes the heart of the issue with respect to the destination of the epistle,

The question before us is: Where were these churches and who were the Galatians? Should we locate them in the territory of the former kingdom of Galatia or somewhere else in the more extensive Roman province of Galatia, which included the former kingdom and much additional territory? Were the recipients of the letter Galatians in the ethnic sense, or only in the political sense, as inhabitants of the Roman province of that name?9

Closely connected to the destination of the epistle is its date. In fact, Guthrie says that the “date of the epistle depends on the decision regarding its destination.”10 Generally speaking those who hold to a North Galatia theory, date the book on or about the time of Paul’s Ephesian ministry, ca. 56 A.D.11 On the other hand, those who hold to the South Galatia theory generally date the book either before or after the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.12 This view is generally expressed as a date around 48, 49 or 56 A. D., the latter date corresponding generally to that proposed under the North Galatia theory.13

And finally, there is the problematic question of the relation of the details in Galatians 2:1-10, wherein is a description of one of Paul's visits to Jerusalem, to Luke's record in Acts. To which visit in Acts,14 if any,15 does the visit in Galatians 2 relate? Indeed, this question must be answered before one can posit a date for the book. But, as with many aspects of this study, this too is a thorny issue, yielding itself only to a very tentative solution at best. As Stanley Toussaint has observed, “without a doubt, the outstanding problem in reconciling Paul's Epistle to the Galatians with the book of Acts is the relating of Galatians 2:1-10 with Luke's record.”16

Let’s begin with a cursory look at the arguments for the destination of the letter. Those who argue for the North theory generally advance the following points: (1) the term “Galatia” was commonly used in the first century to refer to the ethnic region in the North. Thus it is most likely that Luke (Acts 16:6; 18:23) and Paul (Gal 1:2) used the term in this way. But this argument is seriously weakened when it is realized that the term was not used exclusively in this way; (2) Luke uses terms like Mysia, Phrygia and Pisidia as geographical place-names and so it is thought that “Galatia” in Acts 16:6 and 18:23 would be similarly used, supporting the ethnic or North theory; (3) In Acts 16:6 to what does the phrase “the region of Phrygia and Galatia” (thVn Frugivan kaiV GalatikhVn cwvran) refer? Those who hold to the north Galatia theory generally insist that ‘Phrygia’ and ‘Galatia’ refer to two distinct regions17 and since Phrygia is unquestionably a geographical title, then so it must be with ‘Galatia’; (4) the expression “the region of Galatia and Phrygia” (thVn GalatikhVn cwvran kaiV Frugivan) in Acts 18:23 is understood by proponents of the North theory to be virtually identical to the expression in 16:6; (5) J. B. Lightfoot thought that the generally ‘fickle’ character of the Gauls in the north (as gleaned from extra-biblical sources which highlight their relationship with the Romans)18 fit well with the fickle character described in the letter to the Galatians; (6) If the participle “having been prevented” (kwluqevnte") in Acts 16:6 be taken as a participle of antecedent time19 to the main verb “they went through” (dih’lqon),20 it would indicate that the missionary band most likely moved north from Lycaonia and then preached in Phrygia and Galatia. In other words, they were in Lycaonia when they received the prohibition not to preach in Asia so they continued north into the geographical district of Galatia.21 In summary fashion these are the arguments generally raised in favor of a North destination for the letter to the Galatians.

Now let’s take a brief look at arguments in favor of the South theory and raise objections to the North at the same time: (1) as was pointed out above, the term Galatia may have been commonly used around the first century to refer to the region in the North, but this was not uniformly the case. Thus we cannot necessarily appeal to that, except as corroborating evidence; (2) the book of Acts records no churches in the north, but it does record the spread of the Pauline gospel in the South; (3) As Boice22 points out, Paul seems to prefer provincial titles when referring to churches (cf. “Macedonia” in 2 Cor. 8:1; “Asia” in 1 Cor. 16:19; “Achaia” in 2 Cor 1:1). The apostle also speaks of Judea, Syria and Cilicia23 (cf. Gal. 1:21), but never of Lycaonia, Pisidia, Mysia and Lydia. It appears logical and consistent then to say that the term ‘Galatia’ in Galatians 1:2 and 3:1 is probably a provincial designation in which case the letter could have been sent to the churches of the south; (4) the term “Galatia” can refer to both those in the north and those in the south; it was not limited to those in the north; (5) any argument based on the use of the participle in Acts 16:6 can at best only be a corroborating argument since it can just as easily be read as indicating subsequent time (favoring the south Galatia view). Indeed, it appears that this argument is more crucial to the North Galatia view; (6) Paul and Barnabas were together on the first missionary journey (cf. Acts 13, 14) and therefore Barnabas would have been known to the churches of south Galatia. Those who hold to the South Galatia position often point out that Paul’s argument in Galatians 2, wherein Barnabas is mentioned three times (vs. 1, 9, 13), is severely weakened if the Galatians were of the North and did not know Barnabas personally24; (7) the letter to the Galatians is a polemic against certain Judaizers. With this in mind, it has been argued that these agitators would have followed Paul into south Galatia, but most likely not into the more difficult region of north Galatia.

In summary, there are several good arguments for both sides of this issue. The strongest argument in favor of the north Galatia theory is perhaps the conventional use of the term ‘Galatia’ and Luke’s use of geographical titles when referring to places-names. But, there are some major problems with this line of reasoning. Luke is only a secondary source, it is Paul to whom we must principally turn. When we do this we find that it is Paul’s custom to generally refer to places by Roman provincial titles. And since we know that Paul did indeed establish churches in the South (Acts 13, 14), the south Galatia theory seems to better accommodate the facts.

Relation to Acts

Many scholars have argued that the events described in Galatians 2:1-10 reflect Paul’s visit to Jerusalem outlined in Acts 15. This association is based in part on similarities in people (e.g., Paul, Barnabas, James and Peter) and issues (i.e., the gospel). But this view has some internal inconsistencies in it. First, Paul mentions a private meeting in Galatians, but the meeting in Acts 15 is definitely public. Second, Acts does not mention Titus, but Galatians does. And further, in Galatians Paul says he went in response to a revelation, but Acts does not indicate this. These latter two objections, however, are of no material consequence and can easily be accounted for.

There are, however, two serious objections to identifying Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 15. First, it is very difficult to conceive Paul not mentioning the favorable decree of the council in his letter to the Galatian churches if he indeed knew it. The second objection raised against equating Acts 15 with Galatians 2:1-10 concerns the reading of Galatians 1:18-2:10. If this theory stands, Paul has omitted one of his visits to Jerusalem, namely, the famine visit, since 1:18-20 undoubtedly refers to his conversion experience (Acts 9:26-30). The normal reading of “again” (pavlin; 2:1) would indicate that the visit in 2:1-10 is the next visit after the conversion visit (Acts 9), i.e., the famine visit. And it has been suggested by many commentators that a failure on Paul’s behalf to mention the famine visit may leave his integrity open to question—something his opponents would have made much of.

There is better evidence to suggest that Acts 11:27-30 is the visit related in Galatians 2:1-10. First, it is difficult to imagine that the decree preceded the events of Peter’s separation from the Gentiles and Paul’s rebuking him. Surely Peter, even though he possessed a vacillating spirit, would not have done such a thing after the Jerusalem church, that is, those who caused it the first time (Gal. 2:12), had settled the issue. Second, it is further difficult to imagine that the Judaizers could have accomplished so much damage, as the letter to the Galatians indicates, if Galatians 2:1-10 refers to the Council. Third, Paul appears to be listing his visits to Jerusalem, in succession25 since his conversion. This would mean that Galatians 2:1-10 would be equivalent to Acts 11. Fourth, in Galatians 1:21 Paul says that he visited Syria and Cilicia. This occurred after his first visit (1:18) and before his second visit to Jerusalem (2:1). This most likely refers to the fact that Paul concentrated his missionary work in Tarsus and Antioch (after Barnabas ‘retrieved’ him from Tarsus) without going to any other centers. If this is true then, he did not evangelize in Galatia until after his second visit to Jerusalem and therefore, Galatians 2:1-10 must refer to the famine visit with evangelization of Galatia (Acts 13, 14) sometime later.

An important objection concerns the chronological problem inherent in saying that Galatians 2 is equivalent to the famine visit. Most are in agreement that the famine visit took place around A.D. 46.26 If one adds up the years Paul mentions in Galatians 1:18 and 2:1, one has 17 years. This places Paul’s conversion around A.D. 30, which obviously does not even allow enough time for the growth of the church mentioned in Acts 2-8. This has been solved in at least three27 ways by various writers: 1) both the three years and the fourteen years refer to the date of Paul’s conversion; 2) Paul is using a method of counting years that counts parts of years as full years and 3) to push back the crucifixion to 30 A.D. from 33 A.D. and then to date Paul’s conversion about 32 A.D. With these solutions in mind, or a combination of them, the chronological problem need to not be insurmountable. For example, if the three years and fourteen years refer to Paul’s conversion then, there is no real problem.28

The second objection involves the ‘former’ visit referred to by Paul in Galatians 4:13. Those who hold to the North Galatia theory cite this as a reference to Acts 16:6 and 18:23. But this implies that the phrase toV provteron carries the idea of “former” only. It may also mean “initially” or “originally.”29 But if the term does mean two visits then it is possible to see them as occurring on his return from the first missionary journey as Luke records him passing back through the cities in which he established churches (cf. Acts 14:21). This would fit well with dating the letter before the Jerusalem Council.30

Date

The destination of the letter appears to have been in the region of the South, including most likely the churches of Antioch (Pisidia), Iconium (Phrygia), Lystra, Derbe and vicinity. This interpretation of the destination opened the door for the possibility that the letter preceded the Jerusalem Council. Indeed, there is an identity between Galatians 2 and Acts 11. The general parameters of the letter’s date then, would be sometime after the first missionary journey (Acts 13, 14) and before the Council. Working within these parameters, Bruce says the most probable place to put the letter seems to be on the eve of the Jerusalem meeting described in Acts 15:6.31 Thus, the date would be approximately, A.D. 49.

Theme, Structure and Tone

The theme of an exposition, defense and application of “the gospel of God’s grace” runs throughout the letter from beginning to end. The polemic is immediately set forth in 1:6-9: “….if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” In chapters 1-2 Paul defends his apostleship which his opponents had obviously attempted to undercut. The point is, if the agitators could undermine the credibility of the messenger (i.e., Paul), they could undermine the credibility of his message (i.e., a gospel without need for Jewish ceremonialism, etc.). In chapters 3 and 4 Paul lays out an experiential and theological argument for the purity and accuracy of his gospel. And then, in chapters 5-6, he sets forth the practical implications of his gospel, properly understood. His gospel does not lead to libertinism; this results only from unintentional misunderstanding (the Galatians) or intentional mischaracterization (his opponents). Thus the letter hangs together as a unified argument for the Pauline gospel and the freedom from sin to which it leads.

The Identity of Paul's Opponents and Their Teaching

That the letter to the Galatians is largely polemic is clear enough, but one might ask the question, “Who were the opponents Paul was resisting?” Some scholars have argued that the agitators (5:10) were Gentile Judaizers, but virtually every important clue in the letter suggests otherwise, namely, that they were Jewish. For example, it is not likely that Gentile Christians or Jewish proselytes would so vehemently stress circumcision (5:2) or that they would boast over those whom they had led to circumcision (6:12). Further, the discussion of “the Jerusalem above” in 4:25-26 seems to indicate that the troublemakers were Jews headquartered in Jerusalem.

Other scholars have suggested that Paul’s opponents were Jewish zealots who sought, not so much to oppose Paul, as they did to complete his gospel message with circumcision (and other Jewish cultic elements) and so bring the Galatian churches to maturity and into their full rights as “sons” and heirs of Abrahamic promise. There is much to commend this view, but from Paul’s description in 1:6-9 and 6:11-13, combined with his need to defend his apostleship, we get the distinct impression that his opponents were Jewish Christian legalists, who regarded Paul as inferior (and an opponent) and his message to be in error on certain crucial points. Therefore, they sought to correct his preaching, arguing that in order for the Gentiles to become “full” sons and daughters and heirs of the covenant, they needed faith in Christ plus adherence to the Mosaic code (including circumcision and observance of certain religious feasts).

Teaching Outline

    IA. Introduction (1:1-10)

      1B. Salutation (1:1-5)

        1C. The Senders (1:1-2)

        2C. The Recipients (1:3)

        3C. The Salutation Proper (1:4-5)

      2B. Denunciation: The Reason for the Letter (1:6-10)

        1C. The Perversion of the Gospel (1:6-9)

        2C. Paul’s Motivations (1:10)

    IIA. Historical: Defense of Paul and Gospel (1:11-2:21)

      1B. The Revelatory Source of Paul’s Gospel: Thesis Statement (1:11-12)

      2B. The Revelatory Source of Paul’s Gospel: A Defense (1:13-2:21)

        1C. Proof #1: My Former Life In Judaism (1:13-14)

          1D. I Persecuted the Church (1:13)

          2D. I Was Zealous for My Ancestral Traditions (1:14)

        2C. Proof #2: When Paul Was Called and Commissioned…(1:15-17)

          1D. He Was Called and Commissioned by God (1:15-16a)

            1E. God Set Him Apart From Birth (1:15a)

            2E. God Called Him by Grace (1:15b)

            3E. God Was Pleased To Reveal His Son in Paul: To Preach (1:16a)

          2D. He Did Not Consult with “Flesh and Blood” (1:16b)

          3D. He Did Not Go Up to Jerusalem To See Other Apostles (1:17a)

          4D. He Went Away: Arabia and Damascus (1:17b)

        3C. Proof #3: When He Did Go to Jerusalem…(1:18-20)

          1D. It Was Three Years Later (1:18a)

          2D. He Saw Peter for Fifteen Days (1:18b)

          3D. He Did Not See Any Other Apostles, Except James (1:19)

          4D. In Regards to His Testimony…He is Not Lying (1:20)

        4C. Proof #4: Paul Then Went to the Regions of Syria and Cilicia (1:21-24)

        5C. Proof #5: The Report of the Churches in Judea (1:22-24)

          1D. The Churches in Judea Did Not Know Paul Directly (1:22-23)

          2D. The Churches in Judea Praised God Because of Paul (1:24)

        6C. Proof #6: Paul’s Relationship with the Jerusalem Church (2:1-10)

          1D. Paul Went to Jerusalem Church Fourteen Years Later (2:1)

            1E. He Took Barnabas

            2E. He Took Titus

          2D. He Went in Response to a Revelation (2:2a)

          3D. He Had a Private Meeting with Leaders (2:2b-10)

            1E. The Problem of the “False Brothers” (2:2b-5)

            2E. The Blessing of the “Pillars” (2:6-10)

        1F. The “Pillars” Contributed Nothing to Paul (2:6)

        2F. They Gave Paul/Barnabas Right Hand of Fellowship (2:7-10)

        1G. They Recognized God’s Grace in Paul’s Ministry (2:7-9)

        2G. They Asked Paul To Remember the Poor (2:10)

        7C. Proof #7: Paul Had to Rebuke Peter Concerning the Gospel (2:10-21)

          1D. The Circumstances Leading to the Rebuke (2:10-14)

            1E. Paul Opposed Peter to His Face (2:11)

            2E. Peter Was Standing Aloof from Gentiles (2:12)

            3E. Others, Including Barnabas Were Led Astray (2:13)

            4E. Paul’s Indicting Question (2:14)

          2D. The Theological Reason for the Rebuke (2:15-21)

            1E. Jews and Gentiles Alike Are Justified by Faith (2:15-16)

            2E. Do Not Nullify Grace through the Law (2:17-21)

    IIIA. Theological: A Defense of Paul’s Gospel (3:1-4:31)

      1B. Through the Experience of the Galatians: Four Questions (3:1-5)

        1C. The Fact: The Galatians Knew Jesus Christ Was Crucified (3:1)

        2C. The Questions (3:2-5)

          1D. Receiving the Spirit: By Law or by Faith? (3:2)

          2D. Sanctification: By Law or by the Spirit? (3:3)

          3D. Suffering: In Vain or Not? (3:4)

          4D. The Gift of the Spirit and Miracles: By Law or by Faith? (3:5)

      2B. Through The Lesson from Abraham (3:6-9)

        1C. The Example: Abraham’s Justification Was by Faith (3:6)

        2C. The Application: Those of Faith Are Blessed with Abraham (3:7-9)

          1D. The Statement: Those of Faith Are Sons of Abraham (3:7)

          2D. The Scriptural Support: “All Nations Will Be Blessed in You” (3:8)

          3D. The Application Proper: Those of Faith Are Blessed with Abraham (3:9)

      3B. Through the Curse of the Law (3:10-14)

        1C. Curse Is Not Overcome by Works of the Law (3:10-12)

          1D. Cursed Is the Person Who Does Not Obey the Whole Law (3:10)

          2D. Habakkuk 2:4 Teaches Justification by Faith Not Law-works (3:11)

          3D. The Law and Faith Are Mutually Exclusive (3:12)

        2C. Christ Redeems from Curse of the Law (3:13-14)

          1D. The Statement: Christ Redeemed Us from Curse of the Law (3:13)

          2D. The Reason: That Gentiles Might Receive Abrahamic Blessing (3:14)

            1E. Through Christ Jesus

            2E. The Promise of the Spirit by Faith

      4B. Through the Abrahamic Covenant (3:15-18)

        1C. The Unchanging Nature of the Abrahamic Covenant (3:15)

        2C. The Object of the Abrahamic Covenant: Christ/Not Nation (3:16)

        3C. The Permanence of the Abrahamic Covenant (3:17-18)

          1D. The Statement: The Law Does Not Set Aside Covenant/Promise (3:17)

          2D. The Reason: Inheritance Is according to Grace Not Law (3:18)

      5B. Through the Nature and Purpose of the Law (3:19-22)

        1C. The Law Was Temporary (3:19a)

        2C. The Law Was Inferior to the Promise (3:19b-20)

        3C. The Law Could Not Impart Life (3:21)

        4C. The Law Reveals Sin (3:22)

      6B. Through the Temporary Nature of the Law (3:23-29)

        1C. The Law Was To Lead Us to Christ (3:23-24)

        2C. As Sons of God Now, We Are No Longer under the Law (3:25-27)

        3C. The Law Was Limited to Israel, But Salvation Is for All (3:28-29)

      7B. Through an Understanding of Becoming an Heir (4:1-7)

        1C. The “Slave” Condition of a Child (4:1-3)

        2C. The “Full Rights” Condition of a Son (4:4-7)

          1D. Through Christ’s Redemption (4:4-5)

          2D. Includes the Gift of the Spirit (4:6)

        3C. Conclusion (4:7)

      8B. Through an Appeal to the Galatians (4:8-31)

        1C. To Not Return to Weak and Miserable Principles (4:8-11)

          1D. Because You Know God Now (4:8-9a)

          2D. Because They Enslave (4:9b-10)

          3D. Transition: Paul’s Concern (4:11)

        2C. To Remember Their Relationship with Paul (4:12-20)

          1D. To Become Like Him (4:12)

          2D. To Remember Their Love for Him during His Illness (4:13-16)

          3D. To Be Aware of the Judaizers’ Motives (4:17-20)

            1E. The Judaizers Want To Alienate Paul from the Galatians (4:17-18)

            2E. Transition: Paul’s Concern (4:19-20)

        3C. To Recall the Story of Hagar and Sarah (4:21-31)

          1D. Introduction: Abraham’s Two Sons by Hagar and Sarah (4:21-23)

          2D. The Allegory: Two Women and Two Covenants (4:24-27)

            1E. General Statement (4:24a)

            2E. Hagar: Bondage and the Sinai Covenant (4:24b-25)

            3E. (Sarah): Freedom and Jerusalem That Is Above (4:26-27)

          3D. The Application: For the Galatians and the Judaizers (4:28-30)

            1E. The Natural Son Persecutes Son Born of Promise/Spirit (4:28-29)

            2E. The Natural Son Will Not Share in Inheritance (4:30)

          4 D. Conclusion: Christians Are of the Free Woman (4:31)

    IVA. Practical: The Application of the Gospel to Life (5:1-6:17)

      1B. By Standing Firm In Freedom and Resisting Legalism (5:1-15)

        1C. Maintain Your Freedom: The Command Proper (5:1)

        2C. Recognize Your Freedom: Do Not Give in to Legalism (5:2-6)

        3C. Protect Your Freedom: Be Careful of The Circumcision Group (5:7-12)

        4C. Use and Do Not Abuse Your Freedom: Serve Others in Love (5:13-15)

      2B. By Walking By the Spirit (5:16-26)

        1C. The Hortatory Context: The General Command (5:16)

        2C. The Experiential Context (5:17-18)

          1D. The Conflict of the Spirit and the Flesh (5:17)

          2D. If Led by the Spirit, Not under the Law (5:18)

        3C. The Ethical Context: Visible Evidence (5:19-23)

          1D. The Acts of the Flesh Are Evident (5:19-21)

            1E. The Various ‘Acts” (5:19-21a)

            2E. The Warning: Concerning the Kingdom of God (5:19b-22)

          2D. The Fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23)

            1E. The Fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23a)

            2E. The Place of the Law (5:23b)

        4C. The Theological Context (5:24-26)

          1E. Co-Crucifixion with Christ (5:24)

          2E. Life By the Spirit: A Command (5:25)

        5C. The Relational Context (5:26)

      3B. By Sowing To Please the Spirit (6:1-10)

        1C. Through Carrying Others’ Burdens (6:1-2)

        2C. Through Humility and Responsibility (6:3-5)

        3C. Through Sharing with Teachers (6:6)

        4C. The General Principle of Sowing and Reaping (6:7-10)

          1D. The Foundation of the Principle: God Will Not Be Mocked (6:7)

          2D. The Principle Proper: The Spirit and the Flesh (6:8)

            1E. Sowing to the Flesh: Destruction (6:8a)

            2E. Sowing to the Spirit: Eternal Life and Righteousness (6:8b)

          3D. The Application: Persistence in Doing Good to All People (6:9-10)

            1E. Do Not Become Weary: A Harvest Awaits (6:9)

            2E. Do Good to All, Especially Believers (6:10)

      4B. By Exposing the Legalists (6:11-17)

        1C. They Are Men-Pleasers Only 6:11)

        2C. They Are Fearful (6:12)

        3C. They Are Disobedient to Their Own Standards (6:13a)

        4C. They Are Arrogant (6:13b)

        5C. They Do Not Value the Cross of Christ (6:14)

      5B. By Affirming What Really Matters (6:15-16)

        1C. Not Circumcision, But The New Creation (6:15)

        2C. Where God Displays His Peace and Mercy (6:16)

      6B. By Recognizing Jesus’ Vindicated Servant (6:17)

    VA. Final Greeting (6:18)


1 For an excellent summary treatment of the meaning and significance of the message of Galatians, see William Hendricksen, “Galatians and Ephesians” in the New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968), 3, 4.

2 Merrill C. Tenney, Galatians: The Charter of Christian Liberty (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950).

3 Luther, Commentary on Galatians, cited in Hendricksen, op. cit., 3.

4 James Montgomery Boice, “Galatians,” in The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 10, Gen. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), 409.

5 Ernest De Witt Burton says, “From the end of the second century quotations from our epistle are frequent, and no question of its Pauline authorship was raised until the nineteenth century.” Eernest De Witt Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1921), 69. According to Burton, Bruno Bauer is credited with the first person to doubt Pauline authorship, but many commentators point to the “Dutch School of critics” as those who attempted to popularize the notion—without success. See Donald Guthrie, “Galatians” in the New Century Bible Commentary, ed. Ronald E. Clements and Matthew Black, (Grand Rapids: W, B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973), 1. cf. also, Boice, op. cit.,420.

6 Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians in Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard Glenn W. Barker, vol. 41 (Dallas: Word, 1990), in loc. electronic version.

7 Pliny, Natural History, 5:146, 7. “This district is occupied by Gallic settlers. Along the North and East of Galatia is Cappadocia. . .the towns are Ancyra. . .Tavium and Pissinus. Galatia also touches on Cabalia in Pamphylia. . . and the district of Orando in Pisidia, and Obizene which is part of Lycaonia.” From the recording of Pliny (23-79 a.d.) we can tell the region occupied as the Roman province of Galatia at the time of the writing of the book of Galatians.

8 There does not seem to be, historically, any other widely advocated and supported option. It is either north Galatia or south; cf. Burton, op. cit., 30. But, Longenecker, op. cit., (p. 67) makes reference to the work of J. Schmidt (whom most people think was the first scholar to really break with the totally North Galatia view) and J. P. Mynster as two scholars who held to a 'Pan-Galatian' view. Their view had serious problems and was never really embraced as viable. James Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1920), 92, says that “this modification attempts to do justice to the plain sense of Acts 16:6, but it fails to bring out the evident homogeneity of the churches addressed in Galatians and involves more difficulties than it solves.” But, cf. also Henry C. Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 216, as a contemporary expression of this position. He says that “we hold, then, that the Epistle to the Galatians is primarily addressed to the churches in South Galatia,” but allows for it also to be sent to the disciples in the north (cf. Acts 18:23).

9 F. F. Bruce, “Galatian Problems. 2 North or South Galatians?” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 52 (1969, 70): 243.

10 Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, 472. See also F.F.Bruce, “The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text” in The New International Greek Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 43—”The dating of the letter in the context of Acts will depend partly on whether the addressees are regarded as 'South Galatians' or 'North Galatians.'“

11 F.F.Bruce, “Galatian Problems. 4. The Date of the Epistle,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 54 (Spring 1972): 251.

12 This, of course, requires the explanation of the relationship of Galatians 2:1-10 to Paul's visits to Jerusalem as recorded in the book of Acts. This will be addressed later.

13 see Donald Gutherie, “Galatians” in The New Century Bible Commentary, 27-37.

14 Luke records five visits of the apostle Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30; 11:27-30; 12:25; 15:1-30; 18:22; 21:15-23:35).

15 Apparently Manson believes that Galatians 2:1-10 describes a visit to Jerusalem just before the first missionary journey. This view is attractive, on the one hand, in that it does not need to be 'fitted' directly with particular statements in the text of Acts, but may, on the other, simply be an attempt to put to rest the tension between Luke and Paul on this point by giving up on a harmony of the known data. T.W. Manson, “St. Paul in Ephesus: The Problem of the Epistle to the Galatians,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 24 (April 1940): 59-80; cited by Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10,” 334, footnote 3.

16 Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10,” Bibliotheca Sacra 120 (1963): 334. cf. also Robert G. Hoerber, “Galatians 2:1-10 and the Acts of the Apostles,” Concordia Theological Monthly 31 (1960): 482; F. F. Bruce, “Galatian Problems, 4, The Date of the Epistle,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 54 (Spring 1972):250; Charles Talbert, “Again: Paul's Visits to Jerusalem,” Novum Testamentum 9 (Jan. 1967): 26, 27.

17 Moffatt, Introduction, 93, holding to the North Galatia theory, says, “The phrase is not an equivalent for Phrygia-Galatica, or for the borderland between eastern Phrygia and Western Galatia: it denotes not one district but two.” Contra Lightfoot, (p. 22) who while also holding to the North Galatia theory, says, “the form of the Greek expression implies that Phrygia and Galatia here are not to be regarded as separate districts. The country now evangelized might be called indifferently Phrygia or Galatia. By this Lightfoot meant the region in the north; i.e. the Phrygian area before it was settled by the Gauls. F. F. Bruce “Galatians” in The New International Greek Testament Commentary, 11 says this antiquarianism is uncharacteristic of Luke.

18 Bell Gall. 4: 5; cited in Lightfoot, Galatians, 15. cf. also Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary, 8.

19 Or perhaps the participle is more specifically causal with the idea that “since they were restricted from entrance into Asia, they went into Phrygia and Galatia. cf. Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, The Language of the New Testament, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965), 188, 89. Cf. also Acts 25:13 for an aorist participle of subsequent time, though according to Goetchius (p. 189) this use is rare.

20 There is textual variant here, wherein a Byzantine reading, dielqovnte" was taken to be original instead of dih`lqon by commentators such as Lightfoot and Ramsay (cf. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, 195; “But the strange form of construction by a succession of participles suits so perfectly the strange and unique character, the hurry, and the deep lying emotion of the passage that, as Lightfoot's judgment, Bibl. Essays, p. 237, perceived, the inferior MSS. must here be followed.” But as Bruce (North or South Galatians, 257) points out, this was not necessary for the prohibition could have been given in enough time for the missionaries to change their plans. One might also add, that Ramsay et al. need to deal with external data more thoroughly than to just refer to the MSS. as inferior. The indicative reading is supported by MSS. such as p74 a A B C2 D E.

21 cf. Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, 467.

22 Boice, op. cit., 414. This argument will be more fully developed under the southern theory. cf. also Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2: 49.

23 Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, (p. 469) says Moffatt takes 'Syria and Cilicia' together indicating a Roman province. Gutherie makes the distinction that Paul is referring to his own travels, not the location of churches.

24 Cf. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 97. He discounts this argument as not helpful in any regard. Cf. also Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2:252, who agrees with his evaluation.

25 This seems to be the force of the pavlin in Galatians 2:1.

26 Ibid., 339

27 Longenecker, op. cit., 83.

28 Fourteen years back from 46 A.D. would be around 32 or 33. If Christ were crucified in A.D. 30 then there is no real problem in the chronology. Obviously this is not the place to debate the date of the crucifixion, but a date of A. D. 30 is apparently not uncommon among scholars.

29 Walter Bauer, et al. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, 2nd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 722. They say that “from a lexical point of view it is not possible to establish the thesis that Paul wished to differentiate between a later and earlier one [visit].”

30 F. F. Bruce, Galatian Problems, 4: 252.

31 F.F. Bruce, Galatian Problems, 4: 266.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

What Does It Take To Grow?

I. What Does It Take To Grow? The Bible!

We’re beginning a new series this morning, “What Does It Take To Grow?” This poinsettia is part of an experiment (pull it out of pot, shake dirt from roots, leave it on table, in sight of audience). I want to see if plants really need water and soil to grow, or if it’s just a widely believed urban legend.

    A. The Purpose of this series:

The purpose is the same goal that Epaphras had for the Colossian Christians. He prayed for them,

“That you may become mature Christians and that you may fulfill God’s will for you.” Col 4:12 (Phillips)

That’s what God wants for us. He wants us to grow up. You can circle the word “mature” and “God’s will”. They are both in the same sentence. It is God’s will that you grow up.

Listen to this verse from the Apostle Paul:

Ephesians 4:14-15 “We are not meant to remain as children but to grow up in every way into Christ.” (Phillips)

Did you realize that God wants you to grow up? I have a friend who works at the Medical Lake facility for those with developmental disabilities. I went out there one day with him and saw men and women with mature bodies, but immature minds. It was tragic. One young man looked to be in his late 20’s, in a wheelchair. The aide would place a plastic ball in his lap, and he’d try and try to knock it off with his hands. Sometimes it would take him a full minute. Sometimes it would take him 3 or 4 minutes.

If we look at arrested development mentally, physically, and think, “How tragic,” what must God the father think when he looks at arrested development spiritually? Here’s a question for you…

    B. What is Spiritual Maturity? Being like Christ

Eph 4:13 until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.(NLT)

According to this verse, you can define spiritual maturity in one phrase. That phrase is this: Spiritual maturity is being like Christ.

Most of us want to grow. Most of us want to mature. Most of us want to be like Christ. Many times, we don’t know how to get started.

    C. Overview: Seven Habits of Maturing Christians

We will focus on the Seven Basic Habits every Christian needs to develop in order to grow to spiritual maturity. My goal is to…

    Equip you with the skills you need to begin these habits

    Explain the tools you need to continue these habits.

    1. In order to grow we need to eat—The Bible

    2. In order to grow we need to breathe—Prayer

    3. In order to grow we need good spiritual hygiene—Confession of sin

    4. In order to grow we need a caring family—Fellowship

    5. In order to grow we need regular exercise—Service

    6. In order to grow we need protection—Temptation

    7. In order to grow we need to give—Stewardship

    D. Facts about spiritual maturity

      1. Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen automatically

Did you know that you can be a Christian and you can never grow up spiritually.

Hebrews 5:12-13 “You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. 13And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right.” (NLT)

Arrested spiritual development. They should be mature. They’ve had enough time. But tragically, they’re not! Spiritual maturity is not automatic. It takes time, effort.

      2. Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen quickly

The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:18, “Continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our savior, Jesus Christ.” (GN) That indicates a process. It takes time. It’s not instantaneous.

9th grade algebra. The formula for distance. Anybody remember?

r x t = d

Rate x Time = Distance

That formula means that if I’m going 5 miles per hour, it will take me 1000 hours to cover 5000 miles.

That formula means that if I’m going 50 miles per hour, it will take me 100 hours to cover 5000 miles.

That formula means that if I’m going 500 miles per hour, it will take me 10 hours to cover 5000 miles.

There are some Christians that have known Christ for 50 years. By now they should be mature. But they are poking along at 1 mile per hour. Or some of them have stalled out. Not going anywhere. Just sitting there, causing a traffic jam behind them.

Theme Verse: 2 Pet 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

There is no shortcut to spiritual growth. There’s no instant pill I could give you that today you could take and tomorrow you’re going to be spiritually mature. It takes time. It takes an intentional pursuit. It won’t come automatically or quickly.

People try a lot of shortcuts. Some people look for an emotional experience — “If I just get this `certain experience’, then all my problems will be solved and I will be a mature Christian.” Other people say, “If I just go to this seminar…. If I just read this book… If I just listen to this tape…” Other people say, “If I just keep a certain set of rules, then I could be all God wants me to be.”

But the Bible says, no. It’s a continual process. You have to learn to be mature. But there are some skills that you can learn that will help you grow.

      3. Spiritual maturity won’t happen without discipline

1 Timothy 4:7 “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” (Phillips) Is physical fitness automatic? No. Neither is spiritual fitness. It takes time and trouble. Just like to be physically fit you’ve got to exercise, develop some basic habits. That’s true in the Christian life. The Bible says, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” That’s the NASV of the same verse. It takes discipline.

When you talk about discipline you need to talk about discipleship because the two go together. There are six key truths I want you to understand as an overview to where we’re going.

      1. The Bible teaches that mature believers are called disciples. That’s the term that the Bible uses for a mature believer — a disciple.
      2. The Bible teaches that I cannot be a disciple without being disciplined. In fact the two words go together — disciple and discipline.
      3. The Bible also teaches that the more disciplined I become the more God can use me.
      4. The mark of a disciple is cross bearing.

Luke 14:27, Jesus said, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” God wants us to bear our cross. We’re going to explain what that is.

      5. How often am I to do this? The Bible says daily.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (NIV)

That’s what we’re going to talk about. What does it mean in a practical sense to bear our cross.

      6. What is involved in cross bearing? Stated up front: Whatever it takes to give Christ first place in my life.

    E. The Goal: That I will commit to the habits necessary for spiritual maturity.

II. Reasons Why You Need Your Bible

    A. The Bible is like an instruction manual for a car owner. Without it life is hard at best, impossible at worst.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

If you have a new car, one of the first things you do is read the instruction manual. Find out how often the tires need to be checked, rotated. Find out how often the oil needs to be changed. Find out how often it needs to be serviced. Find out how fast you should drive it for the first 500 miles. If you fail to do this, you can ruin the engine and wreck the car.

Someone has said the Bible stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

God cares enough about us that he didn’t just plunk us down here on the earth and say, “Do the best you can! Hope you figure it all out! Good luck!”

He gave us an owner’s manual. It tells us everything we need to know about Him, about us, and about life. But it doesn’t do us a bit of good unless we read it! Read God’s instruction manual!

    B. The Bible is like a flashlight for a camper. Without it you’ll stumble and get hurt, or wander and get lost.

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

You’re in a new campground. It’s the middle of the night. You feel the call of nature. You step out the back door of the camper without a flashlight, and bang into the picnic table. Trip over tree roots, fall into the stream. Without a light, you stumble and get hurt or wander and get lost.

Life can be like that. You feel like you’re stumbling, you’re wandering. You’re hurt, you’re disoriented. God didn’t intend for life to be like that. He gave us a flashlight. But it doesn’t do us a bit of good unless we use it! Turn on God’s light!

    C. The Bible is like a weapon for a soldier. Without it you’ll be captured or killed.

Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

I’ve taught a number of Bible classes over the years. Sometimes you get students who are eager to learn, excited, motivated. Other times you get students who are bored, disinterested, detached, unconcerned.

I’ve often thought, “They don’t realize that they’re in a battle. They don’t realize that this book is their only weapon. They don’t realize that unless they learn it, and learn how to use it, they’re history. They’re dead. We’ll read about them on tomorrow’s casualty list.”

We’re in a spiritual battle. If you’re a Christian, you’re a target. And unless you know how to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, you’re dead! God never intended for you to be a casualty. God wants you to be a conquering soldier, not a casualty. God gave you a sword, but it doesn’t do a bit of good unless you use it! Master the use of God’s sword!

    D. The Bible is like a mirror for an actor. Without it you’ll never know what you’re like or change how you act.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25 (NIV)

What’s a mirror do? Show you what you look like. This morning I spent some time in front of a mirror. Some of you are thinking, “Not enough time!”

In this passage James specifies that it is the man who looks and walks away and forgets what he looks like. A woman would never do that. She’d do whatever it takes to restore her face to the original glory God intended!

The function of a mirror is to show us accurately what we look like, so that we can make any necessary changes. The function of the Bible is to show us accurately what we look like so that we can make, with God’s help and enablement, any necessary changes.

It’s tragic when everyone else knows that Bob gossips, but Bob doesn’t know it. It’s tragic when everyone else knows that Betty has a tongue like a razor, but Betty doesn’t know it. It’s tragic when everyone else knows that Burt’s spending far more money than he should, but Burt doesn’t know it.

The Bible is like a mirror. It shows us what we’re like. It shows us where we need to change. It not only points out the need, it helps us change! But a mirror does you no earthly good unless you use it! Look in God’s mirror!

    E. The Bible is like nutrients and water for a plant. Without it you’ll be stunted and starved.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Let’s go back and take a look at my poinsettia here. Doesn’t look too worse for the wear. But if I left it here till next week, just like this, without water, without access to nutrients, you know what? It would be dead and ready for the garbage.

Here’s the tragedy. There are some of you who are trying to live like this. Each Sunday you’re trying to get all the spiritual food and water you need for the entire week. You can’t do it. It’s not possible. It would be like this plant, only putting it in the pot, only giving it water and nutrients for one hour a week.

What would that do to the life of this plant? What does that do to your spiritual life? Here’s the tragedy. Many of you today are more concerned about this plant than you are about your own spiritual life. You’re thinking to yourself, “I hope that poor plant survives.”

If you’re concerned about this plant, how much more should you be concerned about your soul. Your soul needs the water of the Word. Your soul needs the nourishment that only this Book can provide. And you’re trying to survive on starvation rations! You only eat once a week, and then wonder why the spiritual life is so difficult! Wonder why you continue to fall into sin. Wonder why you can’t make much progress. I’ll tell you why—you’re soul is starving to death! I could have a table set with the most nutritious food imaginable, but it does you no earthly good if you don’t eat it! Eat God’s food!

    Matt 4:2-4

2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (NIV)

Eat God’s food!

III. Conclusion

I’d like to challenge you to take the next step, ratchet up your commitment to the study of God’s Word. Here’s a list of possibilities. Would you be willing to check at least one of these things, and then do it this year?

    A. Suggestions for individual growth

      1. Beginner

      __I will pick-up a Daily Bread booklet and read it and my Bible __ days a week

      __I will read my Bible __ minutes a day, __ days a week this year

      __I will listen to the Bible on cassette tape __ minutes per week this year

      __I will memorize __ verses of Scripture each week this year

      __I will buy a different translation of the Bible and use it this year

      __I will begin attending a Adult Elective class on Sundays at 9:45 a.m. on Sundays

      __I will join a Small Group and ask them to help me achieve my Bible study goals this year

      2. Intermediate

      __I will plan to attend the “Open Book” Bible Study seminar on March 3, 9:00 to noon, and practice some new methods of Bible study this year (register by calling 924 4525)

      __I will read a book this year on how to study the Bible

      __I will eliminate some non-essential activities from my schedule and spend __ hours per week in Bible study this year.

      __I will study and practice the art of Scripture meditation ___ minutes a week this year

      __I will register for a Bible study course at Moody Northwest

      __I will write out my Bible Study objective on a 3x5 card, give it to a friend, and have him/her ask me regularly how I’m doing (for example, “My goal: 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week”)

      3. Advanced

      __I will record my insights from the Bible in a journal __ days per week this year

      __I will purchase and use a Bible study book/tool this year (Bible Dictionary, Bible Encyclopedia, Bible Commentary, Bible Concordance, etc.)

      __I will attend a Bible study group (Precept, Bible Study Fellowship, Women’s/Men’s Bible study) and participate this year

      __I will buy a Bible Study program for my computer and use it this year

    B. Suggestions for family growth

      __We will do the Family Time Bible study this week

      __We will begin a family Bible Library

      __We will memorize a passage together each week this year

      __We will read through a book of the Bible this year

      __We will ask each other once-a-week, “What have you learned from the Bible this week?

      __We will attend a family Bible camp or conference this year

Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word), Basics for Christians

What Does It Take To Grow? Outline

I. What Does It Take To Grow? The Bible!

    A. The __________ of this series:

“That you may become mature Christians and that you may fulfill God’s will for you.” Col 4:12

Ephesians 4:14-15 “We are not meant to remain as children but to grow up in every way into Christ.” (Phillips)

    B. What is ____________ ____________? Being like Christ!

Eph 4:13 until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.(NLT)

    C. Overview: Seven Basic __________ of Maturing Christians

      1. In order to grow we need to eat—The ________
      2. In order to grow we need to breathe—_________
      3. In order to grow we need good spiritual hygiene—______________ of sin
      4. In order to grow we need a caring family—_____________
      5. In order to grow we need regular exercise—__________
      6. In order to grow we need protection—_____________
      7. In order to grow we need to give—______________

    D. Facts about spiritual maturity

      1. Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen ________________

Hebrews 5:12-13 “You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. 13And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right.” (NLT)

      2. Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen __________

2 Peter 3:18, “Continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our savior, Jesus Christ.” (GN)

      3. Spiritual maturity won’t happen without ______________

1 Timothy 4:7 “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” (Phillips)

“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” (NASB)

      1. The Bible teaches that mature believers are called ____________.
      2. The Bible teaches that I cannot be a disciple without being ______________.
      3. The Bible teaches that the more disciplined I become the more God can use me.
      4. The mark of a disciple is _______-__________.

Jesus said, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27

      5. How often am I to do this? ________.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (NIV)

      6. What is involved in cross bearing? Whatever it takes to give Christ_______ _______ in my life.

    E. The Goal: That I will commit to the habits necessary for spiritual maturity.

II. Reasons Why You Need Your Bible

    A. The Bible is like an instruction manual for a car owner. Without it life is _______ at best, _____________ at worst.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Read God’s instruction manual!

    B. The Bible is like a _____________ for a camper. Without it you’ll stumble and get hurt, or wander and get lost.

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Turn on God’s light!

    C. The Bible is like a _________ for a soldier. Without it you’ll be captured or killed.

Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

Master the use of God’s sword!

    D. The Bible is like a _________ for an actor. Without it you’ll never know what you’re like or change how you act.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-- he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25 (NIV)

Look in God’s mirror!

    E. The Bible is like ____________ and ________ for a plant. Without it you’ll be stunted and starved.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Eat God’s food!

III. Conclusion

    A. Suggestions for individual growth

      __I will read my Bible __ minutes a day, __ days a week this year

      __I will listen to the Bible on cassette tape __ minutes per week this year

      __I will pick-up a Daily Bread booklet and read it and my Bible __ days a week

      __I will record my insights from the Bible in a journal __ days per week this year

      __I will purchase and use a Bible study book/tool this year (Bible Dictionary, Bible Encyclopedia, Bible Commentary, Bible Concordance, etc.)

      __I will plan to attend the “Open Book” Bible Study seminar on March 3, 9:00 to noon, and practice some new methods of Bible study this year (register by calling 924 4525)

      __I will read a book this year on how to study the Bible

      __I will eliminate some non-essential activities from my schedule and spend __ hours per week in Bible study this year.

      __I will memorize __ verses of Scripture each week this year

      __I will study and practice the art of Scripture meditation ___ minutes a week this year

      __I will attend a Bible study group (Precept, Bible Study Fellowship, Women’s/Men’s Bible study) and participate this year

      __I will buy a different translation of the Bible and use it this year

      __I will buy a Bible Study program for my computer and use it this year

      __I will register for a Bible study course at Moody Northwest

      __I will begin attending a Adult Elective class on Sundays at 9:45 a.m. on Sundays

      __I will write out my Bible Study objective on a 3x5 card, give it to a friend, and have him/her ask me regularly how I’m doing (for example, “My goal: 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week”)

      __I will join a Small Group and ask them to help me achieve my Bible study goals this year

    B. Suggestions for family growth

      __We will do the Family Time Bible study this week

      __We will begin a family Bible Library

      __We will memorize a passage together each week this year

      __We will read through a book of the Bible this year

      __We will ask each other once-a-week, “What have you learned from the Bible this week?

      __We will attend a family Bible camp or conference this year

Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word), Basics for Christians, Teaching the Bible

Scriptural Evaluation of Salvation Invitations

Related Media

by
AWANA Clubs International

Will you give your heart to Christ?

This invitation is misleading. The Scriptures never tell us to give our heart to Christ. Such an invitation implies some effort on our part. We are not saved by giving God anything, but rather by receiving His gift of eternal life (Eph. 2:8-9). Remember also that the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Romans 10:10 tells us that with the heart man believes unto righteousness, but the nonbeliever is unable to give his heart to God. Some use this Scripture, however, with the idea that the unsaved person is making a decision of his will to accept Christ. Even so, this invitation contains very confusing terminology that does not clearly present the truth of the gospel.

Will you surrender your life to Christ?

Surrender implies "giving everything'' to the Lord, while salvation is accepting the work of Christ on our behalf as a free gift. This invitation is the reverse of scriptural teaching. We are saved by receiving rather than by giving (John 1:12). The appeal of surrender is fitting only for a believer to yield his life to obedient service to the Lord. Such an appeal cannot be used for salvation. The expression "yield" in Romans 6 and "present" in Romans 12, both of which apply to believers, are calls to obedience and the need for dedicating one's life to God's will. Do not confuse these expressions and concepts with accepting and believing for salvation.

Will you confess your sins and ask the Lord to forgive you?

This is an appeal for a believer who needs to renew fellowship with the Lord on the basis of 1 John 1:9. This is not a salvation verse. It is God's direction for a sinful believer to be restored to fellowship with Himself. The unsaved person is not asked to confess his sins to get saved (he couldn't remember all of them anyway). Rather he is asked to recognize his sinful condition and accept Christ's payment for him. The unsaved person is forgiven and cleansed of his guilt because of his acceptance of Christ's death for him (Rom. 3:24).

Will you come to Christ tonight and promise to serve Him from now on?

The promise to serve Christ has meaning only for the believer. No invitation for service could be given to the unsaved because he has no spiritual life (Eph. 2:1). Also, the idea of "coming to Christ" may give the thought of trying to make oneself acceptable to Christ. If "coming" means deciding to accept Christ and His finished work on the cross, however, such an invitation may be acceptable. This invitation contains vague terminology, though, and will very likely be misunderstood by the unsaved person. The promise to serve Him is unacceptable for salvation, because it gives the idea of works (Eph. 2:8-9). Serving the Lord is a result of being saved. Service has nothing to do with getting saved.

Will you come and "pray through" to Christ?

The whole idea of praying through, hanging on, letting go, etc., is entirely foreign to a salvation invitation. Such terms imply some kind of action on our part and do not apply to receiving Christ. All we need to do is believe the gospel and receive the gift of salvation. Christ promised to save us when we accept and believe (John 3:18). Never are we told that we must plead with God. The way to Christ is open. When we come to Him in faith, He accepts us as we are (John 6:37). Such invitations are often used by those who put great emphasis on emotions. They insist that a person must keep on praying until he has a feeling of being saved.

Right now ask Jesus to come into your heart.

We are not saved by Jesus coming into our heart, but rather by trusting in His death for us (Eph 1:7). When we believe, He does indwell us. Our body then becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit However. that is a result of salvation. It is not the method whereby we are saved. Children find it confusing because they wonder if Jesus can physically come into their hearts. The simplicity of believing and trusting is misunderstood. Revelation 3:20 is often the basis of this invitation. Yet this passage does not deal with salvation. It does not focus the attention on Christ dying in my place and my acceptance of His work for me.

Will you make your commitment for Christ tonight?

This is one of the most misleading, vague invitations imaginable. A "commitment to Christ" could mean any number of things, such as serving, breaking wicked habits, obeying. making greater effort to do right, changing friends. or changing my life-style. Committing or promising something to God is certainly a "work" on my part. The unsaved person who is dead in trespasses and sin is unable to make any kind of commitment whatsoever. We are not saved by our promises to God, but by believing Christ's work is for us (John 3:18). The unsaved person needs a new life in Christ. Only when he places his faith in the finished work of Christ will he receive that life in Christ (1 John 5:12).

Will you make Him Lord of your life?

This invitation deals with personal dedication and obedience by the believer (Rom. 6:11). It does not deal with salvation for the unsaved. The idea of "lordship salvation" is not scriptural. Jesus saves us from sin because of His work on the cross. There He took upon Himself the punishment for our guilt and died in our place (Rom. 5:8). The unsaved person cannot make Christ the Lord of his life. He has no spiritual life and no ability to obey the Lord. The work of Christ on the cross saves all who believe. His death and resurrection give spiritual life whereby the believer may obey and serve Him (1 Pet. 2:24).

Will you repent of your sins to get saved?

Repentance means a "change of mind" and is followed by a decision or action because of that change Genuine repentance is the result of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and is often accompanied by sorrow. Repentance is more than just sorrow, however. It involves a change of mind about guilt and the penalty for sin, one's need of salvation, and the Savior's sacrificial provision for salvation on the cross. While it is associated with salvation, repentance alone is not salvation. Faith and trust in the work of Christ on Calvary is the needed result of repentance. It must be followed by faith in the Lord Jesus to save from sin and to give spiritual life (Acts 20:28, John 1:12). Emphasizing only repentance leaves the unsaved with an incomplete message that does not give clear understanding of salvation.

Just believe now and allow Jesus to touch you.

The idea of Jesus touching me appeals to my emotions and feelings. It doesn't say anything about receiving Christ as Savior The emphasis in this invitation is on feelings and some unusual experience that indicates I am saved. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that Jesus saves us by touching us nor are we told to seek or expect any particular feelings when we trust Christ as our Savior. Feelings of joy, cleansing, and relief may all come as a result of believing Our assurance of salvation, however, is based on the simple promise of the Word, not on how we feel (John 1:12). Even if there are no special feelings, the promise of God is to save everyone who believes the gospel. On this basis alone, salvation can be claimed by the believer (John 3:16).

Are you willing to forsake all your sins to obtain salvation?

As a person who is dead in transgressions and sins, the sinner has no ability to forsake his sins. Even if he could forsake his sins, it would only be self-reformation, not regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Scripture never tells us to forsake anything as a requirement for salvation. Rather Scripture commands us to believe the "Good News" that Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). God saves us just as we are--lost and without hope outside of Christ. We cannot make ourselves more acceptable to God by trying to forsake our sins. This invitation puts the emphasis on something we cannot do. Rather, we must believe that Christ in His death and resurrection has done all we need to become saved. All God requires is that we believe and trust Him (Rom. 4:5). Once we are saved, it is a different matter. Then the believer should forsake sin with the power of the Holy Spirit and obey the commands of Christ to live a godly life (Gal. 5:16). This invitation confuses the results of salvation (godly conduct) with the method of salvation (to receive and believe).

Will you accept the Lord Jesus as your own personal Savior?

This invitation is biblically correct. Accepting (receiving) the Lord Jesus as my Savior is believing that He died for me and paid the penalty for my sin (Rom. 5:8). Because He loves me, He died for me. Placing my personal trust in His death for me is God's only requirement for salvation (Rom. 3:24). Trusting Christ is personal. Christ died for me, and I personally trust Him to save me from the penalty of my sin. "As many as received Him" (John 1:12) is the open invitation to anyone to be saved. "Receiving" results in an immediate salvation. Christ died for your sins. Believe it personally. That's all you need to get saved. This is the heart of the gospel (Rom. 5:8). The Bible uses believe as an absolute trust in the work of Christ for me (John 3:18). Christ died for my sins and demonstrated His victory over sin by His physical resurrection from the dead (Rom. 4:24-25). The work is all done! Our Savior lives to assure the believer that He can and will complete our salvation (Phil. 1:6). The payment is complete for the penalty of my sin (1 John 2:2). Knowing my guilt of sin, all that I can do is believe that He died for me and trust that payment to be all I need for salvation (Rom. 4:5; 6:23).

You can be saved right now by believing that Christ died for your sins.

This is a correct statement. It includes the immediate fact of salvation when we believe or trust in the work of Christ at Calvary. It also includes the substitutionary aspect that Christ died for me in my place (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ shed His blood for me; that is the payment for my sins (1 Pet. 1:18-19). His sacrifice fulfilled the Old Testament stipulation that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb. 9:22). We have redemption and forgiveness through ills blood (Eph. 1:7). His bodily resurrection assures us that He lives to keep the believer saved, to intercede for him, and to finally present him faultless before the throne (Heb. 7:25, Jude 24). Because He lives, the believer has the blessed assurance of the physical return of the Lord and the certainty of his place in heaven (1 Thes. 4:14-18).

Will you believe Jesus took your place on the cross?

This invitation is also true to the Word of God. All the penalty of our sins was laid on Christ (Isa. 53:6). He suffered the consequence of death for us (1 Pet 3:18). He took my place when He died for me. To believe is to trust Him completely to do all that is needed to remove my penalty of sin and impart spiritual life to me. The Bible usage of "believe'' is different than our common daily usage. Today "believe'' usually means "maybe"--something I think I may do or want. The Bible uses believe as an absolute trust in the work of Christ for me (John 3:18).

Right now believe that Christ paid the price in full for your sins.

Again, this is a correct statement that centers on the need for immediate action. The basis of salvation is also indicated. Christ paid the awful penalty for sin--death. Note the emphasis also that He paid the price in full. There is nothing left to pay, to do, to join, or to earn. We must only receive Him and trust in what He accomplished for us at Calvary. We are justified "freely by His grace" (Rom. 3:24). He loved us while we were yet sinners. His love was not based on any goodness on our part. He loved us because He wanted to save us and make our salvation possible by paying the price of our sin on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). The urgency of our believing is important! There is no promise of tomorrow, or some future opportunity. Rather, "now" is the best time of all to receive Christ (II Cor. 6:2).

Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word), Soteriology (Salvation)

What Does It Take to Grow - Outline (filled)

I. What Does It Take To Grow? The Bible!

    A. The Purpose of this series:

"That you may become mature Christians and that you may fulfill God's will for you." Col 4:12

Ephesians 4:14-15 "We are not meant to remain as children but to grow up in every way into Christ." (Phillips)

    B. What is Spiritual Maturity?

Eph 4:13 until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.(NLT)

    C. Overview: Seven Basic Habits of Maturing Christians

      1. In order to grow we need to eat—The Bible
      2. In order to grow we need to breathe—Prayer
      3. In order to grow we need good spiritual hygiene—Confession of sin
      4. In order to grow we need a caring family—Fellowship
      5. In order to grow we need regular exercise—Service
      6. In order to grow we need protection—Temptation
      7. In order to grow we need to give—Stewardship

    D. Facts about spiritual maturity

      1. Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen automatically

Hebrews 5:12-13 "You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. 13And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right." (NLT)

      2. Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen quickly

2 Peter 3:18, "Continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our savior, Jesus Christ." (GN)

      3. Spiritual maturity won’t happen without discipline

1 Timothy 4:7 "Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit." (Phillips)

"Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." (NASB)

      1. The Bible teaches that mature believers are called disciples.
      2. The Bible teaches that I cannot be a disciple without being disciplined.
      3. The Bible teaches that the more disciplined I become the more God can use me.
      4. The mark of a disciple is cross bearing.

Jesus said, "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27

      5. How often am I to do this? Daily.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (NIV)

      6. What is involved in cross bearing? Whatever it takes to give Christ first place in my life.

    E. The Goal: That I will commit to the habits necessary for spiritual maturity.

II. Reasons Why You Need Your Bible

    A. The Bible is like an instruction manual for a car owner. Without it life is hard at best, impossible at worst.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Read God’s instruction manual!

    B. The Bible is like a flashlight for a camper. Without it you’ll stumble and get hurt, or wander and get lost.

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Turn on God’s light!

    C. The Bible is like a weapon for a soldier. Without it you’ll be captured or killed.

Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

Master the use of God’s sword!

    D. The Bible is like a mirror for an actor. Without it you’ll never know what you’re like or change how you act.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-- he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25 (NIV)

Look in God’s mirror!

    E. The Bible is like nutrients and water for a plant. Without it you’ll be stunted and starved.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Eat God’s food!

III. Conclusion

    A. Suggestions for individual growth

      __I will read my Bible __ minutes a day, __ days a week this year

      __I will listen to the Bible on cassette tape __ minutes per week this year

      __I will pick-up a Daily Bread booklet and read it and my Bible __ days a week

      __I will record my insights from the Bible in a journal __ days per week this year

      __I will purchase and use a Bible study book/tool this year (Bible Dictionary, Bible Encyclopedia, Bible Commentary, Bible Concordance, etc.)

      __I will plan to attend the “Open Book” Bible Study seminar on March 3, 9:00 to noon, and practice some new methods of Bible study this year (register by calling 924 4525)

      __I will read a book this year on how to study the Bible

      __I will eliminate some non-essential activities from my schedule and spend __ hours per week in Bible study this year.

      __I will memorize __ verses of Scripture each week this year

      __I will study and practice the art of Scripture meditation ___ minutes a week this year

      __I will attend a Bible study group (Precept, Bible Study Fellowship, Women's/Men's Bible study) and participate this year

      __I will buy a different translation of the Bible and use it this year

      __I will buy a Bible Study program for my computer and use it this year

      __I will register for a Bible study course at Moody Northwest

      __I will begin attending a Adult Elective class on Sundays at 9:45 a.m. on Sundays

      __I will write out my Bible Study objective on a 3x5 card, give it to a friend, and have him/her ask me regularly how I’m doing (for example, “My goal: 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week”)

      __I will join a Small Group and ask them to help me achieve my Bible study goals this year

    B. Suggestions for family growth

      __We will do the Family Time Bible study this week

      __We will begin a family Bible Library

      __We will memorize a passage together each week this year

      __We will read through a book of the Bible this year

      __We will ask each other once-a-week, “What have you learned from the Bible this week?

      __We will attend a family Bible camp or conference this year

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Teaching the Bible

Small Group Leader’s Guide

Introductory Questions

    1. If you were to be brutally honest and rate your Bible knowledge from 1 to 10, 1 being abysmal, 10 being divine, where would you say you are?

    2. If you were to be brutally honest and rate your Bible study habits from 1 to 10, 1 being abysmal, 10 being divine, where would you say you are?

    3. What impediments have you found in your life or the lives of others that keep us from the Bible? We have good intentions but lousy follow through—why is that?

    4. There was a list of suggestions in Sunday’s bulletin, how we might increase our commitment to Bible study this year. What suggestions did you check?

    5. Would you feel comfortable having the group ask you each week how you’re doing in fulfilling your commitment to greater Bible study this year?

    6. George Barna recently did a survey among born again Christians and found that the biggest impediment standing in the way of their spiritual growth was lack of time, not lack of desire. Would you agree or disagree with this? Why?

    7. What ways can you find the time necessary for spiritual growth? Are there things in your life the Holy Spirit has been convicting you are non-essential or even detrimental, things that you should give up? Would you allow the group to pray for you about this?

Suggestions for individual growth

      __I will read my Bible __ minutes a day, __ days a week this year

      __I will listen to the Bible on cassette tape __ minutes per week this year

      __I will pick-up a Daily Bread booklet and read it and my Bible __ days a week

      __I will record my insights from the Bible in a journal __ days per week this year

      __I will purchase and use a Bible study book/tool this year (Bible Dictionary, Bible Encyclopedia, Bible Commentary, Bible Concordance, etc.)

      __I will plan to attend the “Open Book” Bible Study seminar on March 3, 9:00 to noon, and practice some new methods of Bible study this year (register by calling 924 4525)

      __I will read a book this year on how to study the Bible

      __I will eliminate some non-essential activities from my schedule and spend __ hours per week in Bible study this year.

      __I will memorize __ verses of Scripture each week this year

      __I will study and practice the art of Scripture meditation ___ minutes a week this year

      __I will attend a Bible study group (Precept, Bible Study Fellowship, Women's/Men's Bible study) and participate this year

      __I will buy a different translation of the Bible and use it this year

      __I will buy a Bible Study program for my computer and use it this year

      __I will register for a Bible study course at Moody Northwest

      __I will begin attending a Adult Elective class on Sundays at 9:45 a.m. on Sundays

      __I will write out my Bible Study objective on a 3x5 card, give it to a friend, and have him/her ask me regularly how I’m doing (for example, “My goal: 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week”)

      __I will join a Small Group and ask them to help me achieve my Bible study goals this year

Suggestions for family growth

      __We will do the Family Time Bible study this week

      __We will begin a family Bible Library

      __We will memorize a passage together each week this year

      __We will read through a book of the Bible this year

      __We will ask each other once-a-week, “What have you learned from the Bible this week?

      __We will attend a family Bible camp or conference this year

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Teaching the Bible

Spiritual Growth Study Guide: Prayer

Related Media

I. New Series: What Does It Take To Grow? Prayer!

We started a new series last week, “What Does It Take To Grow?” Last week we saw that the knowing and obeying the Bible is a non-negotiable essential if you want to grow to maturity as a Christian.

I hope that you looked over the list of suggestions to ratchet up your commitment in the area of Bible study. I hope you checked one of the blanks, and are making an effort to increase your intake of the Word of God this week, month.

    A. The Goal: That you will commit to the habits necessary for spiritual maturity.

Theme Verse: 2 Pet 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Did you realize that God wants you to grow up? God isn’t content that you have put your trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, he now wants you to follow and obey Him as Lord of your life. The One who you obey.

    B. How long does spiritual maturity take?

Does the scripture give us any indication of how long it should take until we can be called “mature”? It does. Paul wrote the letter of I Corinthians 4-5 years after he had ministered in the city of Corinth. He probably arrived sometime in A.D. 51 and stayed there until A.D. 53. He wrote the letter of I Corinthians about A.D. 56-57. He expected that 4-5 years would be sufficient time for the Corinthians to have reached a level of maturity.

Here’s what he says in I Corinthians 3:

1Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to mature Christians. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. 2I had to feed you with milk and not with solid food, because you couldn’t handle anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, 3for you are still controlled by your own sinful desires. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your own desires? You are acting like people who don’t belong to the Lord.

If you have been a Christian for less than five years, don’t be impatient with yourself. Don’t demand instant maturity of yourself; it isn’t possible. Do however, push yourself towards consistent growth.

5 years! Does that make you uncomfortable? Perhaps you have been a Christian for more than 5 years. You know you should be farther along than you now are, but you pacify your conscience by saying, “Well, I’m headed the right direction. Someday I’ll be mature, but who knows when.” Maturity is not a nebulous, far off, unattainable goal that you achieve the month before you die. According to Paul maturity is a concrete goal that can be attained in a relatively short span of time. How are you doing?

    C. Overview: Seven Habits of Maturing Christians

We are focusing on the Seven Basic Habits every Christian needs to develop in order to grow to spiritual maturity. We will …

  • Equip you with the skills you need to begin these habits
  • Explain the tools you need to continue these habits.
      1. In order to grow we need to eat—The Bible
      2. In order to grow we need to breathe—Prayer
      3. In order to grow we need good spiritual hygiene—Confession of sin
      4. In order to grow we need a caring family—Fellowship
      5. In order to grow we need regular exercise—Service
      6. In order to grow we need protection—Temptation
      7. In order to grow we need to give—Stewardship

The Habit of Prayer

“Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come, endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.” Romans 12:12 (Phillips)

II. Where are you on the Prayer Growth Chart?

    A. Casual Praying

Mealtime. Bedtime. When you have to. When it’s expected of you. Nothing wrong with that. But your praying tends to be rather routine and quick.

    B. Committed Praying

This kind of praying is focused. It is purposeful. You’re getting serious about prayer because there is a burden on your heart that is driving you to your knees. This is the sort of praying you do when your teenager gets his driver’s license.

    C. Combat Praying

Here’s what Paul had to say about a fellow-worker,

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the sill of God, mature and fully assured.

Epaphras wrestled in prayer for the Colossian Christians. This is serious. This is exertion, hard work. This kind of praying is what a father does when he hears his daughter is away from God, living with a boyfriend. This is the kind of praying a mother does when she hears her son is attending the Mormon church, thinking about marrying a nice Mormon gal.

Where are you on the Prayer Growth Chart? At what level is your prayer life?

    Video—Prayer Group Therapy (WillowCreek Video)

Transition: How can we overcome some of the perils that prayer group fell into?

III. Learn and use the six crucial elements to effective prayer

This is out of Matthew 6:9-15, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer, Jesus said, “This is how you should pray” not what you should pray. He’s giving us an illustration of things we should use in prayer, not this specific prayer to pray.

There are Six Crucial Elements to Effective Prayer

    A. The first crucial element to effective prayer is Praise. Begin by expressing your love to God.

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. (v. 9)

When you come to prayer you want to begin by expressing your love to God. Start by saying to Him, “Lord, I want to focus on You.” If I come to prayer focusing on myself and my needs first, I just leave prayer more depressed and frustrated than when I began. But if I come to prayer with my focus on God, what I can see of Him, what I can learn of Him, what it is that He can show me then instead of going away thinking how big my problems are, I’ll go away thinking how big my God is!

How do you praise God?

      1. First, you can praise Him for Who He is—His character.

The first crucial element to prayer is God’s character. God’s character is the basis for answered prayer. God answers the prayers that acknowledge who He is.

This past week I lost my Palm Pilot. That’s equivalent to losing my mind! I searched all through the house. I accused my wife. Nothing! I couldn’t find it anywhere. I went down to the office, turned it upside down and still couldn’t find it. So I stood by my desk and prayed, “God, you know where it, I obviously don’t. Could you help me find it, please?” I reached down and closed my Bible, and there was the Palm Pilot, under my open Bible!

      2. Secondly, you can praise Him for what He does—His works.

Whole psalms are devoted to this—praising God for His incredible deeds for His people. Are you keeping a record of this in your life? In your family’s life? The deliverances of God? The answers to prayer?

This past Friday I asked God to help me with two specific things. My tape player broke. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, and it isn’t, but every morning when I’m shaving and showering, I listen to the Book of Proverbs on cassette tape. I wanted to find another one, cheap. One other prayer. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve had a pair of good hiking boots. This winter, I noticed that the soles were coming off. I took them into a shoe repair shop and was told it would be $65.00 to fix them. So I asked God to help me find a good, cheap pair of hiking boots, and a good, cheap tape recorder. By 10:00 Friday morning, I’d found a tape player for $6.99, and a wonderful pair of boots that fits me fine for $12.99. And today, I’m praising God for being concerned enough about minor things in my life to answer!

Psalm 100:4 says “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

  • Commitment: I will praise God for who He is and what He does.

    B. The second crucial element to effective prayer is Purpose: Commit yourself to God’s purpose and will for your life.

The next part of the Lord’s prayer says,

10May your Kingdom come soon.

May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.

This is an acknowledgment that God is God and I am not. This part of the prayer forces me to examine whether or not I really want God’s purposes fulfilled in my life, in my family, at my job, in my school, in this country.

Have you ever thought through what this might entail, saying to God, “You do whatever you want in any aspect of my life. I want what you want more than what I want.”

You want a new car. God has been saying, “The old one is fine. It still gets you from point A to point B, the heater works, and the insurance is low. Keep it! And use the money you’d have spent on it to help fulfill my work in India through Gospel for Asia.”

That’s what praying “Your will be done” means.

You love chocolate eclairs. God has been saying, “Lay off on the chocolate eclairs. One a day is too much. Cut back to one a week. Save the money you don’t spend, and put it in the deacon’s fund.”

That’s what praying “Your will be done” means.

You and your girlfriend have been sexually intimate. You’ve crossed the line, but you don’t want to quit. God has been saying, “Break off the relationship. You know this is hurting both of you. Break it off now.”

That’s what praying “Your will be done” means.

You’ve been uneasy about coming home and spending as much time as you do with ESPN. God’s been saying, “Your family needs you. Turn the TV off, limit your viewing to 3 hours a week.”

That’s what praying “Your will be done” means.

Romans 12:2 urges us to “Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.”

  • Commitment: I will obey God no matter what He asks of me.

    C. The third crucial element to effective prayer is Provision: Ask God to provide for your needs.

11Give us our food for today

What needs do I pray about? Absolutely every one of them. There is nothing too great for God’s power to take care of and there’s nothing too insignificant for His concern. So all my needs I’m to pray about.

Here’s a rule of thumb: it it’s big enough for you to worry about, it’s big enough for you to pray about. I’d recommend that you keep track of the things you worry about through the course of a day, write them all down, and make that your daily prayer list. Your worries are a good clue to the things you should be praying about.

Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Philippians 4:19 says “God will supply all of my needs from His riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.”

Prayer is my personal declaration of dependence on God. When I come to Him I’m saying, “I’m totally dependent upon You, God. Not because of what I can work for or what I can earn by my smarts or by my industry, but I am totally dependent on You for my needs.”

  • Commitment: I will depend on God’s provision for all of my needs.

    D. The fourth crucial element to effective prayer is Pardon: Ask God’s forgiveness for your sins.

12and forgive us our sins,

This part of the Lord’s prayer says, “Forgive us just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

There are four steps to forgiveness:

      a. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal every sin.

Psalm 139 says. “Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me.”

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin.

      b. Confess each sin specifically.

Sometimes we like to get away with confession of sin by just saying, “Forgive me all my sins.” You committed those sins individually, you better ask for forgiveness individually. None of this blanket coverage stuff.

Proverbs 28:13 “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up. Then God will show mercy to you.”

      c. Make restitution to others when necessary.

Matthew 5:23-24 “When you remember your brother has something against you, go at once to make peace with him, then come back and offer your gift to God.”

So when God reveals something that you’ve done to someone else make restitution and get it off your conscious.

      d. By faith accept God’s forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

When we talk about forgiveness you need to accept the fact that you don’t have to live with guilt. It can be forgiven and wiped clean.

  • Commitment: I will confess my sins as God reveals them and accept His forgiveness.

    E. The fifth crucial element to effective prayer is Purity: Let go of your grudges and bitterness

The Lord’s prayer says, “ just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

Christ’s assumption is that we will be forgiving because we have been forgiven. God will not respond to your prayers as long as you are harboring grudges, bitterness, venom in your heart. Listen to what the Bible says,

1 John 3:21 Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him.

Psalm 66:18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened. 19But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.

  • Commitment: I will release those who have sinned against me because God has forgiven me.

    F. The sixth crucial element to effective prayer is Protection: Ask for divine protection.

13And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

We, as believers, face a spiritual battle every day and Satan wants to defeat us through temptation and fear. If I start the day without praying for God’s strength, I’m going into battle with my own resources—and that ain’t much!

If you pray this prayer, you need to search your own heart and life, find out where you tend to fall. You need to know yourself, because Satan, the enemy of your soul, is a master at knowing our weaknesses, and using them to bring about our downfall.

1 Cor 10:13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

  • Commitment: I will learn my areas of weakness and depend on God’s protection.

    G. Relationship

This prayer begins in the context of relationship—our Father. If I lose sight of the fact that I have a relationship with a father in heaven, my prayers will deteriorate.

The foundation for effective prayer is a relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. Relationships thrive on communication, and wither without it. God’s listening, are you talking?

IV. Conclusion

For the next 15 minutes the praise team is going to lead us, and we’re going to practice what I’ve just been preaching. It may be that you simply wish to sit in your seat and sing and pray silently. That’s great.

It may be that you want to kneel there at your seat and pray. That’s great!

It may be that you want to come up front and pray with an elder/elder’s wife. They will be here to pray for you. They are ready to anoint you with oil and pray for you, if you’d like.

Our small group leaders and deacons are here, and will be leading some small groups in praying. If you’d prefer to join a small group and pray with a few others, please join one of them. You don’t have to pray out loud. You are free to silently enter in as others pray.

Let’s practice the pattern that the Lord Jesus Christ gave us. Let’s pray!

Related Topics: Prayer, Teaching the Bible

Spiritual Growth Study Guide: Confession

Related Media

Confession Sermon

This is part of a complete study guide, including outlines (blank and filled) and a leaders guide.

I. Review

This spring we’re asking the question “What Does It Take To Grow?” There are seven non-negotiable, essential habits you must develop if you want to grow to maturity as a Christian.

    A. Seven Habits of Maturing Christians
      1. In order to grow we need to eat—The Bible
      2. In order to grow we need to breathe—Prayer
      3. In order to grow we need good spiritual hygiene—Confession of sin
      4. In order to grow we need a caring family—Fellowship
      5. In order to grow we need regular exercise—Service
      6. In order to grow we need protection—Temptation
      7. In order to grow we need to give—Stewardship
    B. Theme Verse: memorize it!

2 Pet 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

    C. Why don’t we mature?

I hope that you looked over the list of suggestions (from last week) to ratchet up your commitment in the area of prayer. If you’re like me, you may well have all sorts of good intentions, “I’m going to pray more this year, I’m going to spend time with God.” But your follow-through is probably lousy. Know what? You’re not alone!

George Barna, in his recent book, “Growing True Disciples, said this, “most believers say that their faith matters, but few are investing much energy in the pursuit of spiritual growth. We seem to possess an abundance of desire, but a dearth of commitment.”

His survey found that

18% of all believers surveyed said that their effort to grow spiritually is the single, most intense commitment in their life.

52% said that they work consistently to grow spiritually but with limited success.

Another 20% said that they work occasionally to grow spiritually but are not consistent.

The remaining 10% admitted that they are neither involved nor interested in growing spiritually.

What were their reasons Christians gave for not pursuing spiritual growth more passionately?

66% said they are just too busy to give the process the time it requires.

25% cited a general lack of interest or motivation to grow.

Here’s what Barna concluded. Christianity in America suffers from “a lack of passion to be godly.” “We’re all busy, and Jesus comes along and asks us to get serious about spiritual growth. What’s our response? We give intellectual assent to the idea, but when push comes to shove, our schedules are already bloated with other, more important tasks, opportunities and responsibilities. We have passion, but it is not a passion for the matters of God.”

    D. The Goal: That you will commit to the habits necessary for spiritual maturity.

If you’re here this morning and agreeing with Barna’s survey, I have one suggestion for you—get involved with a small group. Join a group of men, women, a Small Group and tell them where you need to work. Write out on a 3x5 card where your spiritual life needs an overhaul. Ask them to pray for you, walk with you, lovingly hold you accountable for growth and progress.

What Does It Take To Grow? Confession!

II. Introduction

I used to backpack regularly in the Salmo Wilderness area of Northern Washington. After hiking hard for 2 hours, there was nothing better than slipping out of your heavy pack next to a clear mountain stream and getting a drink of water. Once, while we were enjoying the delicious refreshment of the mountain stream, a friend was placing large boulders in the bottoms of our packs. 15 to 20 extra pounds! We came back after 10 minutes, slipped our packs back on, and commented on how heavy they always felt after a break. Our friend agreed! We hiked another 2 to 3 hours to our destination, and only after setting up camp did we realize that we’d been carrying unnecessary weight!

My fear is that many of you here this morning are also carrying unnecessary weight! Burdens on the inside that are slowing you down, weighing you down, bringing you down! Turn to page 670 in your pew Bible, Psalm 32. God has some answers for us…

III. God wants you to experience the incredible joy of being completely forgiven of every sin (1-2)

    A. God’s forgiveness includes every kind of sin imaginable

As I read verses 1 and 2, I want you to circle three words…

1 Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!

2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of sin,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

David uses three distinct words for sin in verses 1-2:

  • “rebellion” or breaking away from God,
  • “transgressions” or missing the mark, and
  • “iniquity,” that which is crooked, morally distorted.

He isn’t saying that God forgives these three distinct kinds of sins as much as He is saying God forgives all kinds of sins…

      1. Sins against God or against people
      2. Large sins or small sins
      3. Intentional sins or unintentional
      4. Sins of commission (doing what you shouldn’t) or omission (not doing what you should have)
    B. God’s forgiveness clears the guilty completely

David uses three distinct terms to describe God’s forgiveness in verses 1-2. I want you to put a box around the words for forgiveness:

1 Oh, what joy for those
whose rebellion is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!

2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of sin,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

      1. God carries away your burden of guilt—removes it, forgets it
      2. God covers your shame—its defilement is no longer reason for shame, implies that He will never bring it up again
      3. God cancels your debt—nothing left for you to pay
      C. God’s forgiveness results in boundless joy!

1 Oh, what joy…

Do you want that? Maybe you’re here this morning with no joy. Weighed down with the guilt of your sins. Guilty, ashamed, a prisoner of your troubled conscience. Doesn’t have to go on that way! You can go free! You can know joy again!

D. Objections

You’re thinking, “If that were only true. It may be true for others, but it isn’t true for me. My sin is different. God’s forgiveness be extended to others, but not to me.”

The background of this Psalm is probably David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and then his murder of her husband Uriah. Adultery. Murder. David says that God has forgiven him of these things. If God can forgive David of these, why don’t you think he can forgive you of your sins? You may be thinking

    1. God can’t forgive me

What I've done is so horrible, it is inconceivable that He could ever forgive." I have a word from God for you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I Jn 1:9 (NIV)

Now if you are here today saying "God can't forgive me" that just makes one more thing God can and will forgive you for. God is not a liar. When He says He will forgive, he means it.

    2. God can’t forgive me again

I have done this sin so many times, that God by now is sick and tired of me coming to him over and over. God can't possibly forgive me again."

We think of God like someone on the other end of a phone. We have called him and called him about the same sin. Over and over and over again. And we are sure that if we call once more, He's going to yell into the phone, "YOU AGAIN!!!" and then slam down the receiver.

But notice again what the verse says, "If we confess our sins...He will forgive us our sins up to 10 times, up to 100 times, up to 1000 times." No. Is says that if we confess, He will forgive. Period.

    3. God can’t forgive me now

Maybe he'll be able to forgive me once I've proved to him how sorry I really am, how sincere I am this time to go straight. Once I have had opportunity to prove to God I mean business, then maybe he will forgive me."

So to demonstrate your sincerity you:

  • Tell God that you will go to church for 10 straight Sundays, even if it is snowing, even if you have a head cold.
  • Promise that if He will forgive you just once more, you will volunteer to work with the Youth Group this year as punishment.

But notice again what the verse says, "If we confess our sins..." It doesn't say "If we confess and give $100 a month; If we confess and pray an hour a day; If we confess and read 5 chapters a day for a year; If we confess and ..."

Sometimes we wait to come and confess our sins until we think we have a better case. I don’t know if that was in David’s heart, but he waited a year after his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. An entire year went by until he finally came and acknowledged to God his wrong.

No. God doesn’t say we need to prove our sincerity. God says that all we need to do is confess. What He will invariably do is to forgive. But what if we don’t confess? Look again at Psalm 32…

IV. Living with unconfessed sin results in sickness of body and soul (3-4)

I refused to confess my sin…” Is it hard to admit you’ve been wrong? Absolutely! So sometimes we stubbornly refuse to admit we are in the wrong. Pretend as though if enough time goes by, God will forget about it. Pretend as though it wasn’t that big of sin. Excuse, rationalize, justify. There are predictable consequences for refusing to confess your sins…

    A. You’ll lose your strength and peace

3 When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable…(lit. my bones wasted away.)

    B. You’ll lose your joy

3 When I refused to confess my sin…I groaned all day long.

    C. You’ll find no relief

4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

    D. You’ll be thwarted and frustrated, lasting success will always elude you

People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Sometimes, because the consequences of not confessing are so hard, we opt for a counterfeit confession. Let me run a few of them by you, and see if you’ve ever tried getting God off your back with any of these…

    E. Confession Counterfeits
      1. The Martyr’s confession—“OK, I sinned, so shoot me”

“God, I don’t really believe that what I did was that bad, but if you’re going to be so unreasonable and make me confess, well, just go ahead and strike me dead right here, right now!”

      2. The Politician’s confession, part 1—“Errors were made”

The passive voice negates the need for accepting any responsibility. This is like the captain of the Titanic getting on the P.A. system and announcing, “Icebergs were hit.” No one is responsible. And that isn’t confession!

      3. The Politician’s confession, part 2—“I’m sorry you took offense”

This pseudo-confession throws the blame on the offended party. “God, I can’t believe you were offended at my “French.” But if that bothered you, I’m sorry for the offense.” Not sorry that I did anything wrong, because I don’t believe I did!

      4. The Burglar’s confession—“I’m sorry I got caught”

Sometimes what sounds like a confession of wrongdoing is really just regret for getting caught. “God, I’m sorry” really means, “God, I’m sure sorry I got caught.”

      5. The POW confession—“I’ll mouth the words, but I won’t mean them”

This Is like the prisoners of war confessions that were coerced. They might have been saying the words with their mouths, but their hearts certainly weren’t in it. To get God off my back, I’ll say the words, but my heart isn’t in it, and I really don’t mean it at all.

      6. The Negotiator’s confession—“I’ll say I was wrong if you’ll cut me a deal”

“OK, God, I’ll give up my speeding and admit it was wrong if you’ll let me skip church twice a month. Deal?” That’s not confession. That’s just plea bargaining with the Almighty!

    F. Have you had enough yet?

Some of you here this morning have been trying to run from God, trying to run from your sin. Some of you here this morning have a temper that flares, and you strike out in anger at those you love—your spouse, your kids. And because you’ve refused to confess it for the sin it is, you’ve been wandering in the wilderness. It’s dry. It’s desolate. There’s a cancer eating at your soul. Have you had enough yet?

Some of you here this morning have been trying to run from God, trying to run from your sin. Some of you here this morning have been convicted by God about your adultery, but you don’t want to acknowledge it and confess it as sin. The doctor says he’s not sure why you can’t sleep at night, but you know. The doctor says your stomach problems are real puzzling, but you know. You’ve been wandering in the wilderness. It’s dry. It’s desolate. Have you had enough yet?

Transition: Refusing to confess leaves us miserable—sick in body and sick in soul. Counterfeit confessions are even worse. So what’s the answer?

V. The only way you can find the joy of forgiveness is through the humility of confession (5)

      A. Confession means I acknowledge ownership of my sins

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide them.

Did you catch whose sins they were? David’s sins. One essential part of confession is ownership—these are my sins. In verse 5, three times David acknowledges that these sins are his sins. Circle the phrases “my sins” “my rebellion” and “my guilt.”

  • Today I claim ownership of my sins
      B. Confession means I don’t disguise my sins

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide them.

There are all sorts of ways we try to hide our sins. We call them by all sorts of other names, “My Irish blood,” “The neighborhood I grew up in,” “If you had a boss like mine.” Confession means I quit rationalizing, explaining, justifying my sins. I rip the disguises off and call them what they are—sins!

  • It’s not flirting, it’s emotional adultery.
  • It’s not an intense discussion, with your teenage son, it’s verbal abuse.
  • It’s not one of the perks of the job, it’s stealing.
  • It’s not catching a few more winks, it’s laziness.
  • It’s not studying with friends, it’s cheating.
  • It’s not saving money on music, it’s stealing.
  • It’s not a platonic relationship, it’s adultery
  • Today I call my sins what they are—wrong.
      C. Confession means I come back to God on His terms.

5 I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

Who is it in verse 5 that David confesses his sins to? To the Lord. God is mentioned twice. The One David had been running from ignoring, is the One David finally comes back to. Confession always involves a return to reality about myself, about my sin, and about my God. Are you ready to do that? To come back?

  • Today I will come back to God on His terms.

VI. Those who confess their sin gain God’s help

      A. Those who confess their sins gain God’s complete forgiveness

5 I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

      B. Those who confess their sin gain God’s secure protection

6 Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.

7 For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble
.
You surround me with songs of victory.

  • Today I choose God’s protection rather than His judgment
      C. Those who confess their sin gain God’s wise guidance

8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

  • Today I choose God’s loving guidance rather than His harsh discipline
      D. Those who confess their sin gain God’s unfailing love

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.

  • Today I choose God’s unfailing love rather than sin’s unending sorrow
      E. Those who confess their sin gain God’s triumphant joy

11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

  • Today I choose God’s joyful victory rather than sin’s sad defeat

VII. Conclusion—The Seven A’s of Confession

Would you be willing to work your way through the steps of confession before this service is over? You may have come here this morning with unnecessary weight, unnecessary guilt, but you don’t have to leave the same way. The choice is yours…

    1. Address everyone involved

That may be just God. That may be others as well. You need to confess your wrong to everyone affected by your sin.

    2. Avoid ifs, buts, maybes

“God, I cheated on the test, but if You hadn’t let her paper be so visible, I don’t think I would have.” “God, I yelled at my mom, but she yelled right back at me too!” Dr. Tony Evans says, “If it contains an excuse, it isn’t a confession.”

    3. Admit specifically what you did wrong

It’s easy to hide behind vague generalities. Don’t do it. Identify your sinful attitudes (pride, selfishness, envy, greed, bitterness, ingratitude, stubbornness, etc.) and sinful actions.

    4. Acknowledge the hurt you’ve caused

Let God know you realize your sinful behavior has caused him pain.

    5. Accept the consequences

Tell God that you’re willing to bear the consequences of your sin. God may graciously let you off the hook. That’s his call, not yours.

    6. Alter your behavior

Proverbs 28:13 says we should confess and forsake our sin. Make a commitment that with God’s help, you won’t walk down this path again.

    7. Accept God’s forgiveness

If after confessing your sin, you find your conscience still plagued with guilt, that’s not from God. He says that if you confess, He will forgive. Receive it, believe it, accept it!

Related Topics: Teaching the Bible, Confession

Prayer - SPFRM 5053/2053

Related Media

 

Prayer Course Description
(Updated 2008)

This is the course description and materials for a class on Prayer, given at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

Course Description

 

A biblical study of prayer with practical application to personal discipline, family worship and congregational ministries of intercession. Special attention will be given to prayer’s relationship to spiritual awakening, spiritual warfare, church growth and world missions.

Course Objectives

  • Students will recognize the importance of a theological foundation for prayer as evidenced by reading, writing, listening, reporting, interacting, researching, and testing.
  • Students will distinguish the uniqueness of a personal passion for prayer as evidenced by reading, writing, listening, reporting, interacting, researching, and testing.
  • Students will evaluate the nature of a corporate expression of prayer as evidenced by reading, writing, listening, reporting, interacting, researching, and testing.
  • Students will examine the global impact of prayer as evidenced by reading, writing, listening, reporting, interacting, researching, and testing.

Course Outline

  • Section One: The Theological Foundation of Prayer: This section of the course will help the student recognize the importance of a theological foundation for prayer as the basis of any approach to the study of prayer principles and any development of prayer strategies.
  • Section Two: The Personal Passion for Prayer: This section of the course will help the student distinguish the uniqueness of a personal passion for prayer.
  • Section Three: The Corporate Expression of Prayer: This section of the course will help the student evaluate the nature of a corporate expression of prayer as well as equip the student to lead such expressions.
  • Section Four: The Global Impact of Prayer: This section of the course will help the student examine the global impact of prayer as well as participate in global intercession.

Course Textbooks

  • Giving Ourselves to Prayer: an Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry, Dan R. Crawford, Compiler, Prayer Shop Publishing.
  • The Prayer-Shaped Disciple, Dan R. Crawford, Hendrickson Publishers
  • The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer, Compiled by Leonard Allen, Howard Publishing Company.
  • Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster, Harper San Francisco

Course Prayer Room

An online Prayer Room will be a part of Blackboard’s menu. Students should click on the item entitled “Prayer Room” to meet weekly prayer assignments.

Course Grade Determination

Grades will be posted weekly in the Online Grade Center. If an assignment is worth 3% of the course grade and the assignment is completed correctly and submitted on time the number “3” will appear in the grade column for that assignment. If the assignment is incomplete or incorrect, a lesser number will appear in the grade column. Questions answered in one or two sentences are not acceptable for master’s level work. If the assignment is submitted late the grade will be lowered. Blackboard will record the time each assignment is submitted. The only exception to the “late” policy is if Blackboard is down. If all assignments are submitted correct and on time, the final grade will be 100.

Course Options

  • Dr. Dan’s Coffee Break. At selected times throughout the semester a time may be set for a class Chat Room – better known as “Dr. Dan’s Coffee Break.” These are optional as far as student participation, but are available for students who wish to “chat” with the professor or fellow students in the online class.
  • Free Speech Mall. On the student menu click on the item entitled, “Free Speech Mall” to leave any non-academic items. Among items left here could include: responses to résumés of other students, news bits, warm fuzzy stories, ideas that must be shared with someone, great spiritual insights, etc. You can go to this site to read and respond to the postings of other students. By doing so, it will free up the Discussion Board for academic, class-related use.

Course Bibliography

  • There is a two-hundred-eighty-nine-book bibliography available at the end of The Prayer-Shaped Disciple.
  • For a more thorough bibliography go to www.discipleallnations.org and click on “A Bibliography of Books on Prayer.”

COURSE REQUIREMENTS SCHEDULE:

Week One:

Each student will post their definition of prayer as well as a prayer concern in the “Discussion Board” site, no later than Friday, January 16. This assignment is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Each student will watch the video entitled, “Who is the Professor?” A completed Q&A form will be submitted on Friday, January 16 and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Week Two:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section One, Chapters 1-10. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. There will also be questions on the form from the video, “The Theological Foundation of Prayer,” which each student should watch. This assignment is due on Friday, January 23, and is worth 4 % of the course grade.

Each student will also select one type of prayer (chapter) from Part One (Moving Inward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home and practice praying that type of prayer for the next two weeks.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter I: (The Purpose of Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, January 23 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, January 23 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Three:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section One, Chapters 11-20. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, January 30, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Having selected a prayer (chapter) from Part One (Moving Inward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, each student will continue to practice praying that type of prayer for the next week.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter II: (The Psalms as Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, January 30 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, January 30 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Four:

Each student will read The Prayer-Shaped Disciple, Part One, Chapters 1-3. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, February 6, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Having practiced a prayer (chapter) from Part One (Moving Inward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, each student post a response of their experience on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, February 6 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, February 6 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Five:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section Two, Chapters 21-30. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. There will also be questions on the form from the video, “The Personal Passion for Prayer,” which each student should watch. This assignment is due on Friday, February 13, and is worth 4 % of the course grade.

Each student will also select one type of prayer (chapter) from Part Two (Moving Upward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home and practice praying that type of prayer for the next two weeks.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter III: (Patterns for Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, February 13 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, February 13 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Six:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section Two, Chapters 31-40. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, February 20, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Having selected a prayer (chapter) from Part Two (Moving Upward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, each student will continue to practice praying that type of prayer for the next week.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter IV: (A Passion for Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, February 20 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, February 20 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Seven:

Each student will read The Prayer-Shaped Disciple, Part One, Chapters 4-6. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, February 27, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Having practiced a prayer (chapter) from Part Two (Moving Upward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, each student post a response of their experience on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, February 27 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, February 27 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Eight:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section Three, Chapters 41-50. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. There will also be questions on the form from the video, “The Corporate Expression of Prayer,” which each student should watch. This assignment is due on Friday, March 6, and is worth 4 % of the course grade.

Each student will also select one type of prayer (chapter) from Part Three (Moving Outward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home and practice praying that type of prayer for the next two weeks.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter V: (The Posture of Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, March 6 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, March 6 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Nine:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section Three, Chapters 51-60. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, March 13, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Having selected a prayer (chapter) from Part Three (Moving Outward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, each student will continue to practice praying that type of prayer for the next week.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter VI: (Problems with Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, March 13 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, March 13 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Ten: Spring Break – no assignments

Week Eleven:

Each student will read The Prayer-Shaped Disciple, Part Two, Chapters 7-12. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, March 27, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Having practiced a prayer (chapter) from Part Three (Moving Outward) of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, each student post a response of their experience on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, March 27 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, March 27 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Twelve:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section Four, Chapters 61-70. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. There will also be questions on the form from the video, “The Global Impact of Prayer,” which each student should watch. This assignment is due on Friday, April 3, and is worth 4 % of the course grade.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter VII: (Powerlessness and Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, April 3 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, April 3 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Thirteen:

Each student will read Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Section Four, Chapters 71-80. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, April 10, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter VIII: (Public and Private Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, April 10 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, April 10 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Fourteen:

Each student will read The Prayer-Shaped Disciple, Part Three, Chapters 13-15. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, April 17 and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter IX: (Pastoral Private Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, April 17 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, April 17 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Fifteen:

Each student will read The Prayer-Shaped Disciple, Part Three, Chapters 16-18. On the “assignment” form provided, each student will answer the questions. This assignment is due on Friday, April 24, and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Each student will read one author of their choice from Chapter X: (The Power of Prayer) in The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer and post a response on the Discussion Board. This post is due on Friday, April 24 and is worth 2 % of the course grade.

Each student will post either a prayer request, an answer to prayer or an actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, April 24 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Sixteen:

Each student will select one country or people group of the world (other than their own) for prayer research. A completed form is to be submitted on Friday, May 1 and is worth 3 % of the course grade.

Each student will select one scripture passage that is a prayer (minimum four verses). A completed research form is to be submitted on Friday, May 1 and is worth

3 % of the course grade.

Each student will post one final prayer request, answer to prayer or actual prayer for some other student’s prayer request. This post, to be done in the Prayer Room, is due on Friday, May 1 and is worth 1 % of the course grade.

Week Seventeen:

Each student will watch the video, “My New Concept of Prayer” before completing the final assignment of the course.

Each student will post a new definition of prayer based on what they have learned during the semester. Then they will compare and contrast their first-week definition of prayer and make comments. This post is due on Wednesday, May 6 and is worth 5 % of the course grade.

Related Topics: Prayer

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