Why were people in the first century so drawn to Jesus of Nazareth? His powerful miracles and challenging teachings, for sure. But it was also His character. Humanity had never witnessed someone who is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, compassionate, generous, faithful, humble, and self-controlled all the time. It was as if God Himself had become a human being to demonstrate the life that is possible–a life beyond amazing.
The traits that Jesus demonstrated in His life were traits empowered by the Spirit of God who filled Him. When Jesus returned to heaven, He sent His Spirit to indwell all His true followers so they could display the same character in their lives–not for their benefit alone but to show the world the kind of life God intended us to enjoy. The apostle Paul called these traits "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22–23).
In this A Life Beyond Amazing Study Guide, Dr. David Jeremiah describes the divinely empowered life that is possible for followers of Christ. Between introductory and concluding messages, Dr. Jeremiah explores each of the nine traits of a Spirit-filled life as outlined by the apostle Paul–traits that produce a life beyond amazing. Each lesson also includes:
- An outline of the main subjects and Scriptures covered during the lesson
- An overview of Dr. Jeremiah's teaching on the topic being studied
- Application questions to help individuals and small groups delve into the Bible
- A Did You Know? section that adds a point of interest to the lesson
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Edition description:||Study Guid|
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About the Author
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than fifty books, including Is This the End?, The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, David Jeremiah Morning and Evening Devotions, and Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible. Dr. Jeremiah serves as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, where he resides with his wife, Donna. They have four grown children and twelve grandchildren.
Read an Excerpt
A Life Beyond Amazing
In this lesson we are introduced to the theme of a Christian life beyond amazing: the roadblocks, roadmaps, and results.
Jesus Christ lived an amazing life and attracted followers wherever He went. But the same can't always be said of His followers today, the Church. When we understand that our salvation is more than just a past event, we catch a biblical vision for the amazing life God wants us to experience.
I. The Roadblocks to a Life Beyond Amazing
A. A Misunderstanding of Salvation B. A Misapplication of "Works"
II. The Roadmap to a Life Beyond Amazing
III. The Result of a Life Beyond Amazing
In a recent book, I asked the question, "Is this the end?" The answer to that question is, "No, but you can see it from here." Meaning, every day we are getting closer to the return of Jesus Christ. That raises another question: "What kind of people do we need to be to live in an increasingly chaotic and unpredictable culture?" In other words, regardless of what is going on around us, what kind of people does God expect us to be?
The answer is in this series of lessons. We need to be the kind of people described in Galatians 5:22–23 — people who manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is the kind of person Jesus Christ was. The indwelling Holy Spirit wants to manifest the presence of Christ in and through us as well.
I call such a life "a life beyond amazing" — the abundant life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). It is an impossible life apart from the Holy Spirit. But it is possible by His power and presence. In this series we will examine each of the nine dimensions of the fruit of the Spirit, one at a time.
The Roadblocks to a Life Beyond Amazing
Are you, or the Christians you know, living a life beyond amazing? If not, what is getting in the way? How can we remove the impediments? I know three obstacles that can stand in our way.
A Misunderstanding of Salvation
First, we mistake the nature of salvation by thinking of it only in the past tense — something that happened "back then." But the Bible views salvation in three "tenses": past, present, and future.
First, we have been saved. At a moment in the past we placed our faith in Christ and were saved. Second, we are being saved continually and daily delivered from the power of sin. Finally, we will be saved for all eternity in God's heavenly kingdom. So our salvation is three-fold: from the penalty of sin (past), the power of sin (present), and the presence of sin (future) (Romans 13:11).
Unfortunately, too many Christians are stuck in the past. They fail to walk in the ongoing blessings and benefits of salvation in the present. They know they were saved from something, but they have failed to realize they were also saved for something. And what we have been saved for is a beyond-amazing life. It's like being adopted into a family and then spending many years coming to realize the benefits and blessings of that family. As author Craig Barnes says, "How long does it take to become a Christian? A moment — and a lifetime!"
Becoming a Christian is not the end of one kind of life, it should be the beginning of another: a life beyond amazing!
A Misapplication of "Works"
The New Testament is clear that we are not saved by our good works; we are saved as a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8–9; Titus 3:5). But it is also clear that we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Ephesians 2:10; see also Titus 3:8). We are not saved by good works but for good works. Too many Christians think that because their salvation is a gift, they can be passive about it until they get to heaven. Not true! We are saved unto an active, Christlike life while on earth.
A Mistaken Idea of Spirituality
Some Christian teachers promote an idea of spirituality called "the deeper life." Essentially, they say, "Let go and let God." It means to put our trust completely in God (a good thing) to accomplish everything in us without our involvement (not good). I believe this view downplays the importance of the Christian's responsibility to be active in pursuing the spiritual life; we have to fight the good fight of faith. Yes, God does the work in us, but we actively pursue those things that we know God is working in us to accomplish. Our spirituality is active, not passive. It takes time; it doesn't happen all at once.
Our initial salvation happens in a moment of time, but the working out of our salvation — our conformation to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) — takes a lifetime.
The Roadmap to a Life Beyond Amazing
Having identified the obstacles that stand in our way to a beyond-amazing life, where do we find the roadmap?
Philippians 2:12–13 is a good place to begin — Paul balances our work and God's work together: "Work out your own salvation ... for it is God who works in you." Please note that Paul is not saying to work for our salvation but to work out our salvation — live it out as God does His transforming work in us. It's like a miner who works to bring to the surface something God put deep in the earth. God put it there (in us), and we work to reveal His work in us. We work out what God has worked in. The New Testament holds our work and God's work in perfect balance — and so should we.
Peter agrees: God's "divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). But we are to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (verses 5–7). We are to give "all diligence" (verse 5) to these things. That sounds active, not passive, to me!
What does that roadmap look like? Paul continues in Philippians 2: we will be found "blameless and harmless" in the midst of a chaotic world (verses 14–16). That's how we shine God's amazing light in a dark world — by maxing out what God has done for us and in us. We are to work out our salvation daily, bringing to light the glory of Christ in us for the world to see.
Paul wrote to Timothy to "reject" the bad things and "exercise" himself toward godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). The origin of the word "exercise" is the Greek word for gymnasium. We are to go to the spiritual gym daily to perfect our spirituality. The Holy Spirit doesn't force us to conform to the fruit of the Spirit; He enables us to pursue them by His power. That is the roadmap to a life beyond amazing.
The Result of a Life Beyond Amazing
If we remove the roadblocks and follow the roadmap, what will be the results of the life we will live? I call it character — the bridge between our past and future salvation experiences. The life we now live between those two consists of the godly character we pursue and develop with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are to pursue traits like the fruit of the Holy Spirit and others in an active way, enabled by the Spirit. As our character is transformed, we work out our salvation in the present. But it doesn't happen overnight while we sleep. It happens as we exercise our character so it is conformed to the character of Christ.
Author Pat Goggins has expressed what it means to develop character through self-discipline:
I describe Character as the only thing that goes in the casket with you. It's the only thing that you take with you to the hereafter. Everything else — all the ranches, the farms, the money, the machinery, the good horses, the top cattle — these are all wonderful attributes, but they do not go in the box with you. Character does!
People of strong character are usually people that are very well self-disciplined. They have fortitude, integrity, and ethical strength. These are attributes that will distinguish each one of us from another, and the combination of these qualities is what you call Character.
Character is an attitude that every young person, every middle-age person, every old person should have embedded in their minds. Character is returning extra change at the grocery store. Character is keeping appointments and being on time, honoring your commitments and honoring your word. Character is choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Character is setting priorities that honor God, family, country, and then career.
Character in marriage is working through the tough times rather than throwing in the towel and looking at divorce. Character is being committed to the well-being of your family and friends, associates, and others, even if it is personally costly; and yes, Character is setting a good example.
A married person of Character acts married all the time. A person of Character is self-disciplined and self-controlled. Character implies the courage to stand for what is right, if necessary, all alone to oppose what is wrong and to make the effort to discern the difference. Character is being truthful in all things while being sensitive to the fact that sometimes the truth hurts and need not be spoken. Character is being selfless rather than selfish.
Character in its true form is developed over time and, just like steel, is forged to its greatest strength. The fires of daily living are the fires that hone Character.
Remember, it's the only thing that goes in the casket with you to the hereafter, and believe it or not, it's the only thing that people will remember about you when you're gone.
Our world is crying out for people of character; it doesn't take much for a person of Christlike character to stand out in this world. I want to be that person, and I hope you do as well. I want to live a life beyond amazing!
Every time we involve ourselves in the life of others in this world–family, community, workplace, church-we have the opportunity to display the character of Christ. It may not always be easy; it may require hard work and difficult choices. But that's why the Bible uses such terms like "work out," "exercise," "pursue," and "run the race." When we implement that idea in our spiritual life, the result will be a life that people notice and are attracted to. We don't want them to be attracted to us in our flesh but to Jesus Christ who is revealing His life and character through us.
British theologian N. T. Wright tells a story about a village church whose choir needed help. They tried, but the result was not very good. Then a new choir director came on board and began to work with the choir. He was gentle and encouraging, but firm and skillful. His goal, through practice and leadership, was to take them beyond where they had been, to take them to the point of being what a choir should be. And it worked! Wright visited that church some time later and discovered a choir fully engaged in leading the congregation in worship. He goes on to say that is how God's grace works in our lives. God finds us in not very good shape and gracefully works with us over time to where we are singing in tune with Him more and more. He takes us where we are and leads us to where He knows we can be-and where we know we want to be.
Wright compares the Christian life to that of a musician or singer: "Out of our desire to become better musicians, we begin to practice and to learn the habits of how to sing. ... There is the sequence: grace, which meets us where we are but is not content to let us remain where we are, followed by direction and guidance to enable us to acquire the right habits to replace the wrong ones."
You may have joined God's "choir" — been saved — many years ago. Or you may be new to the choir. In either case, it is time to tune up, develop our skills (character), and let the Holy Spirit lead us into the amazing life Christ died to provide for us. We remove the roadblocks, become familiar with the roadmap, then start working toward the results, with God's help, that Scripture clearly identifies for us.
The greatest illustration of the theme of this lesson is this: almighty God loved us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). And that would be enough, would it not? But God didn't leave it at that. He loved us enough to send us His own Son to prove His sacrificial love. He gave us Christ, the incarnation of true humanity, to see what our own potential is. God acted to demonstrate His love to you and to me and wants to lead us to fulfill His loving desires.
Perhaps you are reading this study guide but have never taken the step to receive God's love; you have never been saved. If that is the case, you can never move ahead to the amazing life that God has planned for you. I urge you today to put your faith in Christ, to open your heart to Him. Ask Him to forgive your sins and lead you into the transformation of your life for His glory. Once you take that step and are assured of your salvation in the past, you can begin experiencing God's present salvation (transformation) and can know without doubt that your eternal salvation awaits you in God's kingdom yet to come.
1. Describe the type of person you think God wants you to be.
a. The biblical description of a life beyond amazing is found in Galatians 5:22–23. Describe that life. Why is it an amazing life?
b. Which of the character traits listed in Galatians 5:22–23 are evident in your life? Which of them do you most need to cultivate?
2. What are the three common roadblocks to a life beyond amazing?
Which of the three roadblocks is most keeping you from becoming the person God wants you to be?
3. Philippians 2:12–13 is the roadmap to a beyond-amazing life.
a. What is Paul not saying about salvation in these verses?
b. What is Paul saying about salvation in these verses?
c. Second Peter 1:3 says God has given us His divine power to live this life beyond amazing. According to 2 Peter 1:5–7, how are we to respond to God's gift of divine power?
4. When you remove the roadblocks and follow the roadmap to a life beyond amazing, you will become a person of character.
a. Describe what it means to be a person of character.
b. How have people of character influenced your life for your good? How have you influenced others for their good?
5. Living the life that Christ has called you to takes commitment. In His grace, Christ has committed Himself to your spiritual growth. Are you ready to commit your life to Him and to the life He has called you to?
1. Discuss what an amazing life looks like according to the world.
a. How would you define an amazing life?
b. The biblical description of a Life beyond amazing is found in Galatians 5:22–23. How does the Life described in those verses differ from the world's view of an amazing Life?
c. Which of the character traits Listed in Galatians 5:22–23 are most needed in our world today? Which are the most difficult to cultivate?
2. Talk about the differences between being saved from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin.
a. How should this mindset of salvation affect how we Live our Lives?
b. What is the danger in getting stuck in the past tense of salvation?
3. Read Philippians 2:12–13.
a. How is working out your salvation different from working for your salvation?
b. What is God's role in salvation? What is ours?
4. Developing our character is the bridge between our past and future salvation experiences. It's an amazing Life.
a. What is character?
b. How is character developed?
5. In this Lesson, grace is defined as that "which meets us where we are but is not content to Let us remain where we are."
a. How does this definition encourage you?
b. Is it more difficult for you to meet people where they are or challenge them to an amazing life?
c. Discuss how your relationships would Look if you both accepted others as they are and encouraged them toward a life beyond amazing.
DID YOU KNOW?
When Paul tells Timothy to "exercise [himself] toward godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7), he uses the Greek verb gumnazo — to exercise, to train, to discipline. It is easy to see the root of our English word gymnasium in the Greek word. The word gumnazo literally meant "to exercise naked in the arena," an image of the Greek athlete throwing off all encumbrances to his training regimen — including clothes! The writer to the Hebrews certainly conveyed that idea in a spiritual sense: "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Excerpted from "A Life Beyond Amazing"
Copyright © 2017 David P. Jeremiah.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
How to Use This Guide, 7,
LESSON 1: A Life Beyond Amazing (Selected Scriptures), 11,
LESSON 2: A Life of Love (Ephesians 5:1–2), 21,
LESSON 3: A Life of Joy (Selected Scriptures), 31,
LESSON 4: A Life of Peace (Selected Scriptures), 41,
LESSON 5: A Life of Endurance (Selected Scriptures), 51,
LESSON 6: A Life of Compassion (Luke 10:25–37), 61,
LESSON 7: A Life of Generosity (Selected Scriptures), 71,
LESSON 8: A Life of Integrity (Selected Scriptures), 81,
LESSON 9: A Life of Humility (Selected Scriptures), 91,
LESSON 10: A Life of Self-Discipline (Selected Scriptures, 101,
LESSON 11: A God-Inspired Life (Selected Scriptures), 111,
Leader's Guide, 121,
About Dr. David Jeremiah and Turning Point, 125,
Stay Connected, 127,