Want to learn more about Growing in Christ? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Welcome to a new series of studies that will give us a
better “big picture” understanding of our God. Often, Christians
intensely debate relatively unimportant things like what they should
eat or wear, or some small point of doctrine. If your life span is
shortened by twenty years because of your diet, that is terrible, but
not as terrible as missing out on eternal life. While I think we
should measure everything we do by the teachings of the Bible, having
a clear understanding on the big picture is our first order of
business. No one would begin studying how the body worked by
critically examining a finger nail. Let’s start our examination of
the big picture by diving into our Bible and seeing what we can learn
about how sin entered our world!

Last week we learned about the war that is going on
between good and evil, between God and Satan. Christians are aligned
with God in this controversy. He is our Commander. Have you ever
heard of a commander who made no commands? If God is actively
prosecuting a war against Satan, is it necessary or helpful to
communicate with the troops? Surely the answer must be “yes.” How,
then, does God communicate? Is it through the Bible? The Koran? The
teachings of Buddhism or those of Hinduism? Could it be “all of the
above?” Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more about
God and revelation!

Before my wife and I had children, I had many
misinformed ideas about the topic. For example, I thought some
couples had children to boost their own standing. That would never
happen to me! Instead, I thought that I had my own reputation and
they would make their own – whatever it might be. How wrong I was!
We don’t have enough space in this introduction for me to explain the
many ways my children have affected both my reputation and my
thinking! In our exploration of the big picture issues, how do we
reflect the nature of God, His thinking and His reputation? Let’s
dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

My wife recently attended a conference of clergy and
church school teachers. Through the wizardry of modern technology, in
one session the audience could give electronic feedback that was
instantly computed and displayed on a screen at the front. The
question posed to the audience was whether they were confident of
their salvation. The positive response was discouragingly low. If
you have made a decision for Christ, but are uncertain of your
salvation, you must get this “big picture” theology right. Join me in
this important journey through the Bible to discover the true meaning of grace!

Last week we learned the heart of the gospel: salvation
is by free grace alone, there is nothing we can do to earn it. Our
studies for this week and the next two are about how those who are
saved should live. Have you ever been embarrassed by a member of your
“group?” It might be your family, your church, your organization, or,
perhaps, a Christian leader. Someone did something that brought
shame. Since a battle rages between good and evil, and those saved by
grace have chosen the side of good, shouldn’t we do everything we can
to aid good, to repay love with love, and not harm the name of Jesus?
Let’s plunge into our Bible and see what it teaches us about how
those confident of their salvation should live!

When I was a young man, change was slow – except for
cars. American car manufacturers changed the looks of their cars
every year. Things cost more each year. These days, we have new
technology all the time, and technology gets cheaper. One astonishing
new area is cell phones. All the time I discover some new “app” for
my phone which allows me to live or work more efficiently. Is there a
parallel in the spiritual world? Are there new weapons (new “apps”)
that we have not considered or discovered to help us live more holy
lives? Perhaps we have heard of them, but not used them? Let’s dive
into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

Have you ever looked closely at the armor used by
knights of the middle ages? It looks a bit dangerous to the person
wearing it! Sure, it might keep an arrow from going through you, but
it would not help when you wanted to move fast to dodge arrows.
Mercedes Benz makes the “Smart” car. That little car “armors” the
passenger compartment so it is difficult to break into the
compartment. Like the armor of the knights, you have to ask yourself
some questions about the practicality of this. What happens to your
body when the armored passenger compartment starts bouncing around in
a crash? The last two weeks we have noted the texts in Ephesians 6
about armoring for spiritual warfare, but we have not gone into
detail about the nature of our armor. Let’s jump into the Bible to
see what armor is good and what attitudes towards armor might be a
little dangerous!

What role should the church play in the life of the
believer? Some think that they can comfortably live a Christian life
apart from organized religion. Avoiding organized religion, and its
institutional conflicts, allows them to have a closer, more personal
relationship with God. I think this is delusion and a profound
mistake. The church plays many indispensable roles in the life of the
Christian. But, what does it matter what I think? What matters is
what God thinks. Let’s plunge into the Bible and see what it has to
teach us about the role of the church in our life!

Confession time. Do you have fantasies about being
great, or beautiful or powerful? Over the decades that I’ve been
fighting in the courtrooms for religious liberty, I have this
recurrent fantasy of being some kind of modern day Roman warrior –
battling the bad guys. Of course, my muscles are small, I’m not wild
about blood, and if you came at me with a sword, I’d likely run the
other way. As I get older, the muscle situation is not improving.
Some of my ancestors actually had “Running” as their last name! One
of the customs of Roman warriors is to tap their chest over their
heart with a closed fist as a symbol of loyalty to Rome. More than
once I’ve done that as an act of loyalty to God. Instead of silly
fantasies, does God have real symbols of loyalty to Him? Do God’s
symbols make sense? What does the Bible reveal about this? Bible
study warriors, let’s charge forward and see what we can find in our
study of this topic!

How do you view the Ten Commandments? Would you say
that you can see a logical connection between the commandments and
the last time you saw police lights in the rear view mirror of your
car? Jesus didn’t help this problem when He explained that the
commandments against adultery and killing, included the more common
problems of lust and anger. How many people, when they hear of grace
are delighted because they think they no longer have to worry about
those pesky and inconvenient commandments? Much ink has been spilled
on the topic of the law and grace, but I think we will better
understand grace if we better understand the nature of the law. We
claim that if we are saved by grace, we will want to obey God. But,
that is not consistent with equating the commandments with feeling
like a police officer is about to arrest us! So, let’s take a
plunge into the Bible to better understand what it says about the

Are you loving the law more? Last week we learned that
the law is not our enemy, but rather God’s instruction manual for a
better life. We decided that only if we seek unbridled self-benefit
is the law our opponent. If that is true, then why does Paul indicate
that the law is a problem for us? Is it because we all seek unbridled
self-interest? We need to learn more! This week we plunge more deeply
into the idea that we need to re-educate our thinking to understand
that the law is both our friend and our benefactor. We need to become
lobbyists for the law! If that sounds strange, let’s dive into God’s
word and see what He has to say about the law!

How much time do you spend dreaming about having enough
money so that you can stop working? If you are older, do you dream
about what you would do in retirement? At some point in my life, I
realized that I was dreaming too low. Instead of dreaming about what
I might do here on earth if I had unlimited time and money, why not
dream instead about what it will be like in heaven? There you truly
have unlimited time. What about the ticket to enter heaven? Would you
act differently if you thought that heaven was your retirement? This
week let’s jump in and find out what the Bible has to say about end

Let’s continue last week’s exploration of our
“retirement” in heaven – a glorious place where we have unlimited
time and resources. We have our ticket and we know we should be
careful to avoid showing up at the wrong event. We are living a life
reflecting God’s love to us and anticipating our life in heaven. Now
Jesus comes! Let’s dive into our Bible and learn more of the details
of what happens next!