forgive to live forgiveness

Walking with Jesus
Following Jesus

Test of
Discipleship

Griffith Francis Jones was born in Hamefly, North Wales, in 1864. When he was 15 years old, he chose the sea as his profession and began study to become a sea captain, achieving his certificate of competency in 1890.

On one of his journeys, he discovered a torn piece of paper from the English journal Present Truth. He was about to toss it overboard, but paused to read the content.

The information on the piece of paper would change his life. Accepting as truth the Bible teachings found on the piece of paper, he was baptised in 1893.

About 1900, Captain Jones and his new wife Marian, left England to study an intensive Bible course at Keene Academy, Texas, that would start their missionary career sailing through the South Pacific islands.

In 1914, Captain Jones and Marian were asked to take the story of Jesus to the Solomon Islands. In a small boat, called the Advent Herald, they arrived at a town called Gizo. With a heart for the people, the gospel began to take hold among the many tribes they visited and despite many challenges, the people willingly believed the story of Jesus.

The villages of the Solomon Islands were troubled by many things. In the early days, and the practice of cannibalism and worshipping devil gods was widespread.

To address the spiritual battles between good and evil, God and Satan, Jones began by teaching the people about Jesus who was not yet known to them. He said,

“When we first arrived in the village, we would at once teach the people about Jesus and His power. The old people who led and controlled the evil practices, began to see and feel that they had lost their power.

People would often come from surrounding communities requesting us to visit their village. We would reply, ‘yes, but what for?’. They would answer, ‘We want you to do what you have done here—sing and pray and talk of Jesus, because we are troubled by the spirits and wherever you go, these spirits do not come again’.

“I recall instances,” Jones said, “where we would kneel down to pray and the demon would leave without any violence, however on other occasions, people would become violent and throw spears or tomahawks at us.

On these occasions we couldn’t be on our knees but commanded the evil spirit in the name of Jesus to leave.”

These people would begin living a new life in Jesus free from the power of evil. They discovered the teachings of the Bible about God’s love, His law and the joy of living a new life not in the fear of evil, but in the joy of the Spirit.

Today, if you visit the Solomon Islands, you would find hundreds of thousands of people serving God because one man, who had himself been renewed by Jesus, stepped into the unknown and began to practice his new faith in a profound way.

G.F. Jones leaves a legacy and example for us, to move out of our familiar and comfortable circumstances and live a life of a faithful follower of Jesus.

(Credit: G.F. Jones and Piuki Tasa)

LIVING A LIFE CHANGED BY JESUS

A person may not be able to pinpoint the exact moment or place, or even circumstances that led to their conversion, but this doesn’t prove them to be unconverted.

Even though we cannot physically see the new heart that Jesus has given, people around us will witness a change because we now follow Jesus. Jesus described the Holy Spirit as being like the wind, even though it remains unseen, we can clearly see its effects (see John 3:8).

How do we know we have been made new?

2 Corinthians 5:17

Ezekiel 11:19, 20; 36:26; 18:27–31 || Ephesians 2:10; 4:23, 24
|| Romans 6:4–6;8:10

We can do nothing in ourselves to create a change in our heart that will bring us in to harmony with God. We must not trust ourselves or good works to secure a changed life.

Although we cannot see the Spirit of God as He works on our heart, our words, actions and daily habits are evidence that Jesus has done something special in our lives. This relationship will change our habits and the way we live.

“It is true that there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing of Christ. By what means then shall we determine whose side we are on?

If we are Christ’s, our thoughts are of Him,
All we have and are is consecrated to Him.
We long to bear His image, breathe His spirit, do His will and please Him in all things.”

— Ellen G. White

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

What characteristics will the Holy Spirit bring to our lives?

Galatians 5:22, 23

Galatians 5:16, 17 || Psalm 92:12–14 || Matthew 12:33 || Luke 8:14, 15

When Jesus gives us a new heart, we will desire to be more like Him in every way. We will see our lives the way He does, recognising how harmful sin is, and appreciate the gifts God has given us that transform our lives.

Often we set our standards according to the world around us, but this should not be the case. The things we once valued will fade and change because the Spirit has given us a new heart that longs after the heart of God and we now value the things that matter to God.

The proud and self-assertive become humble; the drunkard becomes sober; the immoral person becomes pure. The vain customs of the world are laid aside and the fruit of heaven is clearly evident in our thoughts, words and actions. This is through no action or initiative of ourselves, but the power of God creating in us a new heart.

If my sinfulness appears to me in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all.”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)

ow will our attitudes change to people we may have wronged?

Luke 19:8

Exodus 22:1|| Matthew 5:23, 24 || Luke 3:8 || 1 Samuel 12:3 || 2 Samuel 12:6

When we are genuinely sorry for the wrongs we have done, God creates a desire and provides the power to set things right, “for it is God who works in us to do His good pleasure.”

The Bible teaches that sincere repentance involves giving back what we have taken, admitting when we have done wrong, and showing love to God and to the people around us.

This is one way we know a change has taken place. Instead of hiding or making excuses, we are seeking to make things right and repair broken relationships. Instead of being burdened by the past, we focus on the future leaving the shame and guilt of the past.

LOVE COMES FROM GOD

What is the source of the love in our heart?

1 Thessalonians 3:12

1 John 4:7-13 || 1 Thessalonians 4:9
|| James 1:17 || Galatians 5:22 || 2 Timothy 1:7

Jesus’ focus was to do the will of His father, and God’s love was reflected in every aspect of His life.

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance’
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”

It is clear that love comes from God—in fact, the Bible defines God as the very definition of love. The natural extension of this love means that a heart that is without love for others is a heart devoid of God. As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.”

When Jesus recreates us, He puts a love for others in our heart. This love is powerful and brings with it amazing changes. This new walk with Jesus reveals what we should do, helps us exercise self-control, overcomes hate, and helps us care for others more deeply than we have before.

“When as erring, sinful beings, we come to Jesus and become partakers of His pardoning grace, love springs up in the heart.”
Ellen G. White

A LOVE THAT TRANSFORMS

In those who are transformed by the power of God, the character of Jesus is seen. For Jesus, love for God was the controlling power in His life.

The heart where Jesus is not found cannot produce a selfless love. It is only where and when divine power has transformed the individual that the power an love of God will be seen.

How is our love for God demonstrated?

John 14:15

John14:21;15:10–14;21:15–17 || Matthew 25:34-40 || 1 John 2:3–6; 4:19–21

What relationship exists between truth and obedience?

1 John 2:4

1 John 1:6–10; 4:20 || James 2:14–16 || Titus 1:16 || 2 Timothy 3:5

THE PURPOSE OF GOD’S LAW

Where does God write His laws when we accept His teachings?

Hebrews 10:16

Hebrews 8:8-10 || Isaiah 51:7  Jeremiah 31:33, 34; 32:40 || Deuteronomy 30:6
|| Psalm 37:31; 40:8 || Ezekiel 11:19, 20; 36:26, 27 || Romans 8:2–4

The law of God is an expression of His very nature. It is an embodiment of the great principles of love and is the very foundation of God’s government.

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

C.S. Lewis

If your heart is made new and you desire to be like God, His law and ways will become part of your heart and will shape how you choose to live your life. Obeying God and following His will demonstrates we are followers of Jesus. Because we love God, we will want to follow the commandments He has given us..

SALVATION IS GOD’S GIFT TO US

We don’t earn salvation because of our obedience—salvation is a gift that we claim by faith. Obedience naturally occurs because we believe and secondly, it is the fruit of the faith He has authored in us. Our thoughts, motivations and actions will be in harmony with God’s character and continue to instruct and guide our lives. Our actions agree with what His holy law show us God wants us to do. “Let know one deceived you , my children! Whoever does what is right is righteous, just as Jesus is righteous.” (1 John 3:7).

When we follow Jesus, what two elements need to be equally present in our new life?

James 2:17

James 2:14, 19, 20, 26|| 1 Thessalonians 1:3 || 1 Timothy 1:5  2 Peter 1:5–9 || Galatians 5:6 || 2 Thessalonians 1:11 || Ephesians 2:8–10

We are saved by God’s grace alone, and because we are saved and our lives have been changed, we live a life to the honour of God and in harmony with His will.

A faith, however, that teaches that we do not need to obey God is not true faith. It is teaching something that is not true.

“Worship is nothing less than obedience to the command of God:

‘Delight yourself in the Lord’!”

-— John Piper

“For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith.” “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead” )..”
— (Ephesians 2:8; James 2:17

Who is our ultimate Example?

1 Peter 2:21

Matthew 10:38, 39 || Psalm 85:13 || Ephesians 5:1, 2 || Philippians 2:4, 5 || 1 John 2:3–6; 3:16–18 || Luke 9:23–25 || Hebrews 12:1, 2

The way we receive eternal life has never changed. Eternal life cannot be gotten in any other way, for then the happiness of all creation would be in danger; sin would go on forever, and suffering and unhappiness would never end.

What does Jesus promise to those who seek righteousness?

Matthew 5:6

Philippians 1:6; 3:9, 12–14 || Proverbs 15:9 || 1 Timothy 6:11 || 2 Timothy 2:22

Sin disconnected us from God, but through Jesus, our relationship is restored and we are promised strength and wisdom to guide us as we follow God’s will.

The good news is, God has promised an end to sin. If we want to live forever with Him in heaven, we need to by faith accept Him as our personal Saviour.

What does God give to everyone who is made new?

2 Peter 1:4

Ezekiel 36:25–27 || Colossians 3:10 || 2 Corinthians 3:18; 6:17, 18 || Ephesians 4:23, 24 || Hebrews 8:10–12; 12:10 || John 1:12, 13

“God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer”

ACCEPTED BECAUSE OF JESUS

How are we made righteous?

Ephesians 1:77

Colossians 1:14 || 1 Corinthians 1:30 || Romans 3:24-26 || Hebrews 9:12-15; 10:16–19 || 1 Peter 1:18, 19 || 1 John 2:2; 4:10; || Revelation 5:9 || Psalm 130:7

When Adam and Eve were first created, they were without sin and had a close connection with God. When they sinned, their thoughts and desires changed from what was right to what was evil. This has been the fate of all humankind ever since, as we to inherited this sinful nature.

Because sin is in our nature, we cannot obey God’s perfect law. In surrendering ourselves to God, we are counted as just. The beauty of Jesus is that He takes our hearts of stone and gives us a new one.

In the first century, Jesus came to our world and lived among the people in the land of Palestine. Like us, He went through trials and temptations, but unlike us, He never gave into temptation and sinned. But even though He lived a life without sin, He died for us, taking our sin upon Himself that we might be saved.

When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, it means that regardless of our sin, Jesus’ perfection stands in place of our imperfection and we are accepted by God.

How are we made righteous?

Galatians 2:20

Romans 1:17; 5:2 || 1 Peter 1:5–9 || 2 Corinthians 1:24; 5:7 || Hebrews 12:2;11:6

When Jesus lives in our heart, through faith, we will also be changed. We are to behold Him everyday by faith and by doing this, He will work in us something wonderful.

”Where there is not only a belief in God’s word, but a submission of the will to Him; where the heart is yielded to Him, the affections fixed upon Him, there is faith—faith that works by love and purifies the soul.

Through this faith, the heart is renewed in the image of God.”

— Ellen G. White

GOD IS ALWAYS WITH YOU

How long will Jesus continue to work in our lives?

Philippians 1:6

Hebrews 12:2; 13:20, 21 || Philippians 2:13 || Psalm 138:8 || 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24
|| 1 Peter 5:10 || 1 Corinthians 1:8, 9 || 2Corinthians 9:8

Do not be discouraged by the awareness of your faults and your failures. Rather, be encouraged because of the love Jesus has for you.

Ask Him for His help and guidance. However, when you sin, be comforted by the knowledge that God has promised to forgive and help you.

Do not draw back without hope. “Bow and weep at the feet of Jesus because of your mistakes, yet do not give up. God does not turn away from us even if we are overcome by the enemy.”

God has promised that He will never leave you or abandon you. He will be with you regardless of the trials you are facing.

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and
actively doing God’s will.”

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer“

CLAIMING GOD’S PROMISE

What promise can we claim if we sin?

John 6:37

Matthew 11:28 || Hebrews 7:25 || Isaiah 55:7 || Revelation 22:17 || Romans 8:31, 32; 5:8 || 2 Peter 3:9 || Psalm 102:17 ||

Jesus is at the right hand of God to intercede for us. Don’t wait any longer. Surrender yourself to Him and He will do a new thing your life.

The more we understand Jesus’ character, the more we will recognise our need for Jesus, His forgiveness, grace and mercy.

As we know Jesus more, what will we realise about our sins?

Isaiah 64:6

Isaiah 53:6 || Ecclesiastes 7:20 || Job 15:16 || Ephesians 2:1-3 || Psalm 51:5; 130:3 || John 15:5

“ The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer and your imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to His perfect nature. This indicates that the Spirit of God is upon you bringing you to new life.”

Ellen G. White

It’s impossible to love Jesus and accept Him as your Saviour without first recognising your own sin and your need for Him.

If you can’t see your own sinful state, how can you appreciate the love of Jesus? The closer we are to Jesus, the more we’ll be changed to be more like Him.

Click to download a PDF copy of this lesson

Click to download a PDF copy of this lesson