Jesus came from the Father full of grace and truth! (John 1:14) Grace and truth are intricately intertwined like strands of DNA. If you separate one from the other you can really get off base!
For example, the first time I ever did an evangelistic Bible discussion I invited three friends over and we read through the first chapter of Romans. I thought, “Hey, I’ve heard of people using ‘Romans Road’ to share the gospel – why not start with this book!” My friends gathered in my dorm room, I gave a Bible to each, and we started reading. As soon as we reached Romans 1:24…
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. “
My one friend who occasionally went to church and was living with her boyfriend slammed her Bible shut, saying, “I don’t believe this! You don’t have to believe this to be a Christian!” Then my other friend said, “I think I like her version of Christianity better than yours!” And all three of them stood up and walked out!
I was in shock! I hadn’t even said a word!
Since then I’ve learned this is why it’s so much better to start with the gospel of John – it gives people the opportunity to see grace as well as truth lived out by Jesus. That is such a powerful combination!
And not just for unbelievers!
This is one of the problems we face when we take isolated verses to focus on. Even in the “What is a Disciple” study, found in the “Helps” section, if you just read Luke 14:26-33 where Jesus shares requirements for being His disciple they can sound pretty severe, especially if someone has been deeply wounded in her past and struggles to trust.
When Jesus says, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” it’s so vital we read that against the backdrop of Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing” and Psalm 35:27 “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant” or from the New Testament, John 1:16 “From the fulness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” and Philippians 4:19 “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.”
In Luke 14, Jesus isn’t coldly demanding harsh sacrifices that leave us in the dust! He’s saying stop trying to take care of yourself, stop relying on yourself. He’s asking us to do this in the context of trusting Him that He loves us, that He can take better care of us than we can ourselves and will steadfastly, always, not just when we deserve it!
This is why it is so vital young believers get to know who Jesus is! And that all throughout our lives we keep reminding ourselves who He is!
I love to take people through the study “24 hours with John” or Helene Ashker’s “Jesus Cares for Women.” It is so critical to learn these truths (and remember them!) about who He is, in the context of seeing Him live out grace as He relates to those around Him. God could’ve just given us a list of truths but instead He blesses us with four accounts where we can see Jesus in action full of grace and truth.
If you’re struggling or those you are meeting with are struggling to give up controlling their lives, by all means go to the Gospels to see Jesus in action. When you take time to do this, can it ever help build trust in Him!
NOTE; You can find a pdf of the study “24 Hours With John” here: http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/college/navfusion/assets/24%20Hours%20with%20John.pdf
I always like to go through the questions on my own first before meeting with someone. Depending on where they are coming from – if I feel a need to keep it more informal, I’ll write the questions in the margin of my Bible. But if they are more serious in their seeking I will type out the questions to give to them so they can reflect on them after we’ve parted (do not include the answers when you do this!!! Provided answers kill discussion!). As time goes on, I will often offer to give them the questions for next week in advance so they can have more time to think about their answers. One other benefit of giving them the questions – it’s much easier for them to pass this on to others – either to share with friends during the week or later on to know what to do when they meet someone else seeking! I have done this study countless times and every single time I do I learn more about Jesus! And does that ever help me keep giving the reign in my life over to Jesus! This is an ongoing process! And ongoing input sure can be a HUGE help!
NOTE: You can purchase a copy of Helene Ashker’s book Jesus Cares for Women here:
You only need one copy of this book for yourself as the study is reproducible – or you can also write the questions in the margin of your Bible. This is a much shorter study – it only takes 5 weeks to complete – but is it ever a potent one!