First Principles

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-24)

Before Jesus leaves His followers, He tells them that the Father would send them a Helper, the Spirit of Truth and that this Spirit would be in them. In this lesson we look at the relationship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son, the personality of the Holy Spirit, whether the Spirit actually lives in us, and the danger of quenching the Spirit. We also look at several images that can help us understand the Spirit's role as guide, comforter and protector in our lives individually and collectively as the Church.  

Seek Wisdom

PDF of Lesson Notes

When Solomon was a young man, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked, “What do you want?” Solomon requested wisdom in order to govern God’s people properly, and as a result, God blessed him with legendary wisdom. Solomon later teaches about the importance of wisdom: to keep us from laziness, sexual immorality and other sins. In this lesson we explore the importance of wisdom for our salvation, as well as practical steps to obtain spiritual wisdom (or to become even wiser). 

The Liar and Father of Lies (Satan) (John 8:37-50)

In John 8 Jesus called his enemies “sons of the devil”. He then describes Satan as a murder from the beginning, a liar, and the father of lies. Although Jesus had much to say about Satan, most professing Christians today do not even believe in the existence of Satan as a real spiritual being with a personality. However, understanding Satan is critical to understanding the condition of the world around us, the cause of suffering, and even the mission of Jesus. In this lesson we explore the nature of Satan, where he came from from, tactics he uses, and how we can defeat him with God’s help.

The Exodus Map, a Parable of the Christian Life

[PDF of Lesson notes to be posted shortly]

Exodus_map
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Hidden in plain view, in the famous story of the Exodus from Egypt, we find a detailed map of the Christian journey of faith. The connection is suggested in one of the psalms, but revealed by insights from three books in the New Testament and by early Christians. This is an unforgettable, faith-building lesson that sheds light on a number of foundational teachings: on sin, eternal security, baptism, Satan and the goal of our faith.

A Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8:1-11)

In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus famously tells the woman that He does not accuse her. This has been used to justify a “Who am I to accuse anyone?” attitude of tolerating sinful lifestyles in the modern church. In this lesson we take a deeper look into this story, to get a clearer picture of who Jesus is: willing to extend mercy; yet insisting on repentance. We also consider an example of how this story was used to challenge and instruct leaders in the early church.

Clean the Inside of the Dish First

For those who are serious about following Jesus' commands, the Enemy has many tactics to seek to destroy us. One of those is to get us to focus on external things that we can see and measure, which is easier than dealing with the condition of our hearts. God's Word has much to say on this topic to help us embrace all of His commandments, focusing on the greatest, without neglecting the least.   

Worthy of the Kingdom of God (PA Retreat)

PDF of Lesson Notes

Worthy of the kingdom of God?  Wait…I thought we are all unworthy of the kingdom!  Yet when we take another look at the Scriptures, we find that all Christians are indeed called to live lives that are worthy of the kingdom.  This opening message from our retreat weekend in Pennsylvania draws a sharp contrast between the message of the kingdom and the popular message heard in most Protestant churches today, and opens our eyes to the high calling that God has for our lives.

On the Character of God (Ezekiel 18)

PDF of Lesson Notes

One of the great treasures of the Old Testament is how it helps us understand the true nature and character of God. There are many things that distort our understanding of God's nature: the character of our own human fathers, our tendency to make God into something He is not, and Satan's consistent attack, trying to deceive us to believe God is different than He truly is. Ezekiel 18 provides a beautiful picture of God, communicating His great mercy and kindness offered to all mankind. May this help us grasp God's nature in a deeper way, and transform how we view and treat others.      

What the Bible Teaches About Submission

PDF of Lessons Notes

This lesson begins with a look at two very different versions of Christianity that we see today. Which version we choose will have a tremendous impact on how we respond to the harder teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Next, we tackle what the New Testament says about submission, a practical yet challenging topic. All Christians are commanded to submit to the governing authorities. Also, Christian servants are called to submit to their masters, wives to their husbands, and younger men to older men within the church. All of us are called to have a humble and submissive spirit. This is a practical lesson that addresses how we put these counter-cultural teachings into practice today.

Behold the Lamb of God (John 1:29-42)

John the Baptist identifies Jesus as "the Lamb of God". Why a lamb, and not some other animal? Does this simply mean that Jesus was meek and harmless, or is there more to it? How would John's hearers have understood this expression? In this lesson we look at what this would have meant to John’s hearers, and the profound implications for all those who want to follow Jesus today. 

Does God Play Favorites?

James A. Harding

James A. Harding

Does God treat everyone the same, or does He play favorites? James A. Harding, an inspiring Christian teacher and preacher, tackled this question in the early 1900's and provided a startling and unforgettable answer. That answer takes us to Scripture that teaches us much about the character of God, as well as what can be expected by those devoted to and treasured by Him. 

 

(To learn more about Harding's inspiring life and convictions, see James A.  Harding, Evangelist and Teacher by John Mark Hicks)

The Importance of Meditating on the Word of God Daily

PDF of Lesson Notes

The Word of God is referred to as the sword of the Spirit and is to be our offensive weapon to overcome temptation and to understand the very heart and nature of God. Can it be said of each of us, that we are known for our diligent study of (and obedience to) the entire Bible?  Can it be said of us, that our love for God's Word is so infectious that others are inspired to become serious students of the Scriptures as well?  This lesson provides us several surprising images that have the potential of transforming our grasp and motivation to read and know the Word of God. The lesson also offers practical advice and inspiration to read through the Bible in a year.  

 

Additional Resources

Read the Bible in a Year Plan

This plan allows you to pick a start date and it will provide a customized plan to read through the Old the New Testaments in one year.  (To work, you must  download the file to your local drive.) 

Biblical Unity

Why is Biblical unity so difficult?  Why do so many churches end up splitting apart, even churches comprised of Christians serious about following Jesus' teachings? This sad pattern is in stark contrast to early Christianity, where the church remained one for the first 200 years.  Drawing on Scripture, examples from the early church, and his own spiritual journey and mistakes made, David identifies common problems that consistently lead to dividing the church.  This hopeful message provides many gems to help restore Biblical unity and obliterate any sinful sectarian spirit within us.        

The Challenge of the Great Commission

[Lesson outline to be posted shortly]

The Scriptures call us to do two apparently contradictory things: 1) to become all things to all men, that we might by all means save some (1 Cor. 9:22), and 2) to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27).  Many churches focus on one command, while ignoring the other. One church is so relatable to the world, that it becomes indistinguishable from the world. Another church focuses on holiness and separation, but is ineffective converting lost souls. This lesson challenges us to follow all of Jesus' teachings as we strive to win a lost world with the same determination, commitment, and effectiveness of our Lord.