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Gospel of John - Lesson Introduction
In about 1967 when I started in the ministry of working with people, the group I started with believed (and taught) that if someone was willing to "pray this prayer," he or she would be saved. It did not matter that you had to "argue" the sinner into a corner, as long as the sinner "prays this prayer" he or she would be "saved." In fact, it is really a "notch on the gun" if you were able to catch several people together and get them all to "pray this prayer." The same method was used against children. (I was in charge of children's and bus ministries until I came to LBC.)
Obviously, it was extremely difficult to get those "saved" people into church to be baptized, and even more rare to see them faithful to the Lord over a lengthy period of time. (See our salvation booklet, "The Gospel Perverted," on this web site. I have kept the names and addresses of about 1,000 people whom I convinced that they should "pray this prayer," so I know whereof I speak. Maybe 200 of them came in to be baptized, and maybe 100 were faithful over the long run.)
Over the years, I came to realize that the Spirit of God MUST deal with the lost sinner before there can be salvation. I reached the conclusion (through serious study of his word) that the Spirit alone must deal with the sinner, and that he does that through God's word. Though I had determined the sinner could not be argued into (nor scared, for that matter) into salvation, being an associate pastor in a church caught in the numbers game, I did not change my method of arguing people into heaven (which is not possible). In 1983, I came to the Linden Baptist Church as pastor. I knew that "pray this prayer" would not work, and, being out of the numbers game churches (I had been in three of them), I totally changed the way I dealt with people.
John 20:31 (But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.) came to my attention, and caused me to change the way I dealt with people. Being the new pastor and having gone through "pray this prayer," I strongly emphasized the substitutionary, atoning work of Christ for the sinner. Thankfully, folks became concerned about their relationship with the Lord. However, realizing that the Spirit must convert the sinner and that he works through his word, I insisted that those concerned about their relationship read the book of John. I told them to read it with the desire that if they were not right with him, he would trouble their hearts, and if they were right with him, he would give them peace. I told them to then come back and see me. I refused to deal with people on an emotional levelI had seen too much of it, and was fed up with the emotional numbers game that was/is sending people to hell by the millions. (The "worker" who wants to see will see when the Spirit is dealing with an individual: Godly sorrow is very different from worldly sorrow, and the "worker" must be sensitive to recognize the different sorrows in sinners, 2 Cor. 7:10.) We saw probably 2/3 of our church members saved over the next few yearsthe Holy Spirit used his word to strip away their false hopes, and greatly convect them that they were lost sinners without a savior. To my knowledge, all of those converted during that period are still faithfully serving the Lord, though not many of them are still with us here. (A change in church leadership usually results in a general change of church membership. However, they ALL left quietly, with no hard feelings.)
After a few years, I was impressed to put together this series of lessons from the book of John. The lessons emphasize the saving work of Christ (salvation, conversion, or whatever you want to call it) while covering the basics of the Christian faith. Their purpose was for home Bible studies. Thus when unchurched folks (or new folks in the church) express an interest in the Lord, I tell them to read John, and I offer to go through these lessons with them. If it is a woman, my wife and I go together into the home. We have seen several families reached through these lessons.
Some have asked me, "But if they are interested, then why don't you press then right then for a 'conversion decision?'" My answer to them has been, "If the Spirit of God is dealing with the concerned or interested sinner in this most important issue, then the person WILL follow through with what he or she is told, including reading John and/or doing the lessons." If there is not enough concern on the part of the sinner to follow though, then it is obvious, in my opinion, that the interest was not motivated by the saving Spirit of God. Sure, the person could be influenced to make a profession, but I have seen hundreds of such professions fall by the wayside. The way outlined above may be slower and more time consuming, but I have found the above to be very effectivethose who then make a profession of faith WILL follow the Lord in baptism, and they will be faithful in the public assembly, and, most importantly, there WILL be a change in their life-stile and priorities.
There are no short-cuts when dealing with the souls of men. No doubt, God's curse rests upon those who seek short-cuts for the numbers. Though I am now out of the numbers game, I believe I can safely say that there are more "converts" faithful to the Lord since I started letting the Spirit convert the sinner through the word of God, than there are "converts" from the 1,000 mentioned above whom I convinced to "pray this prayer."
These lessons are extremely simple, for they are designed for the unchurched (and/or the immature Christian) to be used in the home. However, there is enough "meat" in them to cause the best church member to think and learn. Their purpose includes "checking" on people with encouragement to consistently study the word of God. ("People don't do what we expect; they do what we inspect." And people love the fact that someone takes the time to "inspect" their spiritual condition.) Of course, a Bible teacher can launch from any point and reach any point he wants to cover: these lessons provide such a launching pad.
I am confident that those who use these lessons with the unchurched and/or immature Christian will be very pleased with the work the Spirit will do through the word of God.
These lessons are yours for the downloading.
As mentioned at the opening page, this web edition was put togehter for home schoolers working through Fatih Chrisitan Ministries, but are available to all. For those who wish just to do the lessons and return them to me for "grading," please contact me at the e mail address above.
Hard copies are available, as are the answers. Contact:
Pastor Ovid Need
PO Box 6
Linden, Indiana 47955
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