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Letters to God's People

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LETTERS WRITTEN TO GOD'S PEOPLE

Scripture: The Epistles; Galatians 5:16–23; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; James 1:19–22

Memory verse:  2 Thessalonians 2:15
"Stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."

Lead—In

Introduce the class session by opening and reading a short “letter” from a close friend. (This should be a fictitious letter so there will be no risk of embarrassment to anyone.) When reading the letter, include information abound the sender’s life, such as moving to a new place, adjusting to a change in their job or school, and plans they are making for the future. End the letter by having the sender mention when they may be in your area for a visit.

After reading the letter, explain that this is only an example of many letters people receive. Ask the students if they have ever sent or received a letter in the mail See how many have friends in faraway places.

Point out that the average household receives many kinds of mail, such as bills to be paid and ads for products. But by far the most exciting mail we can receive is a long-awaited letter from a loved one. While we eventually throw away most mail, we sometimes keep special letters to read over and over again. Today we will learn of some letters that we should read again and again.

Hearing God’s Word

Two things helped Christianity spread during the first century. These were discussed in our lesson on the Book of Acts.

Ask: “Do you remember what they were?” (Allow responses.)

First, persecution forced many Christians to leave Jerusalem and move to other lands. But they now had the power of the Holy Spirit in them. This made them bold in telling what Jesus had done for them. They shared God’s message with the people living in the other lands. Secondly, Paul and others spread the gospel by going on special missionary journeys to many parts of the then known world.

New Testament Letters

In this week’s study we will look at several special letters that were written to help believers follow Jesus. Some of Paul’s letters were written to entire churches. Paul wrote these letters, or epistles, to instruct the people in the Christian life. These letters make up a large part of our New Testament. The instructions in these epistles are for all Christians, so they are important to us today. In addition to the letters written to specific churches, some were written to individuals, while others were to be circulated among many groups of people, Paul wrote two letters to his friend Timothy and one each to Titus and Philemon. He wanted to give them special instruction and encouragement. Paul was not the only writer of the Epistles.

Ask: “Who else wrote some Epistles?” (Allow response.)

Other writers were James, Peter, John, and Jude.  Let us find out to whom each Epistle was sent and why. Each letter was written for a specific purpose, but usually several topics concerning the Christian life were discussed. Sometimes several authors wrote on similar subjects.

As we review the epistles, some subjects stand out because of their importance to Christians. Today we will focus on nine main topics in these 21 books of the New Testament.

ABC’S of s Salvation

Paul’s epistle to the Roman Christians is recognized as a foundation for understanding what it means to be a Christian. In this epistle Paul outlined the ABC’s of Salvation—Admit you are a sinner; Ask God’s forgiveness; Believe in Jesus; Become a child of God by receiving Christ; Confess that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour. (Write these on the chalkboard.)

These ABC’s apply to us today. Everyone has sinned and needs to be cleansed from their sins. This can happen only if we repent of our sins and believe that Jesus, who is God’s Son, will forgive us. Then, as new believers, we should begin to speak and act as Jesus would: That is our appropriate conduct.

Faith in Christ, Not in Law

Many of the new Christians were Jews who had always lived under the Law of Moses. Some found it hard to realise the requirements of the Law were no longer necessary in order to receive salvation. Three Epistles were written to show we are not made holy and righteous by animal sacrifices in obedience to the Law, but through faith in Jesus. This truth is presented in Galatians, Colossians, and Hebrews. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for sin. Other sacrifices are no longer needed to please God.

Galatians also outlines how we can live fruitful Christian lives. Showing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is proof of our relationship with Jesus.

Beware of False Teaching

As the Church grew, the new Christians faced other problems. Because they were just learning about this new experience, it was easy for them to believe things that were untrue. Some people began to teach them things that were false. The Epistles of 2 and 3 John and Jude especially warn against false doctrine. (Let a student read 2 John 7–9.)

Do we have to be careful about false teachings today? Absolutely! There are many religions whose doctrines contain some truth, but are also filled with dangerous errors. We can know the truth only by learning God’s Word. If we know what God’s Word says, we will not be led away from God by false beliefs.

Principles of Christian Living

Six Epistles, I and 2 Corinthians, James, 1 Peter, 1 and 2 John, were written to teach about Christian living. They contain instructions concerning marriage, methods of worship, fellowship among Christians, helping the poor, controlling the tongue, humility, and many other practical things. These principles can be summed up in 1 John 4:7, 8. (Have a student read these verses aloud.) What word is the key to successful Christian living? Love is the key.

Jesus and His Church

Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians to help the Jewish and Gentile Christians accept and love one another as brothers. He emphasized that all Christians make up one Church; and Jesus is the head of that Church. Every Christian is a part of the body of Christ. Each has his own place to fill; yet all are one in the Lord.

Rejoicing

The Epistles emphasise how Christians should live, but Paul’s letter to the Philippians focuses on one specific trait. It tells us joy should mark the Christian life. A key word in Philippians is “rejoice”. Paul had learned the secret of successful living in Jesus. This teaching will have more impact on us when we remember that Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians while he was in prison for preaching the gospel. (Read Philippians 4:11–13.) The Books of James and 2 Peter also emphasise having a good attitude during difficult times.

Second Coming of Christ

Christians have reason to rejoice. Jesus gives us strength and help here on earth, and He also gives us hope of Eternal life with Him in heaven. By studying the Epistles of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, 2 Peter, and Jude, we can learn about events that will happen as Jesus’ return draws closer.

Order and Sound Doctrine

Titus is a personal letter written to a leader in the Early Church. Paul’s letter to Titus gives instruction about church order and the need for sound doctrine. Believing the truths of the Bible and knowing what we believe is important for all Christians.

Forgiveness

Paul wrote to Philemon, another Christian, to ask him to forgive his runaway slave, Onesimus (O-NEW-uh-mus). Onesimus had also become a Christian. Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus, and also to receive the slave back as if he were Paul himself. Forgiveness is a key characteristic of a true Christian.

Timeless Messages

The Epistles are valuable because they are so practical for everyday Christian living. These writings also prophesy about things to come. An example of this is 2 Timothy 3:1–5. (Ask a volunteer to read these verses.) In these verses Paul describes godlessness in the last days just before Jesus’ return.

Ask: “Are these things happening today?” (Allow responses.)  They certainly are

The Epistles make up a large part of the New Testament. They have very necessary information for Christians of all times. It is important that we learn the ABC’s of the faith, to beware of false teaching, and to rejoice even in difficulties. Above all, we need to live according to the instruction Paul gave the Christians in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, which is our memory verse. (Recite it together with the class.)  We need to stand for what we believe and not be swayed by what others may say or think about us.

It is always important to remember that God’s Word is the final authority on how to live. As you read it, pray for the Holy Spirit’s help. He will guide you into truth.

Accepting God’s Word

In one of the Epistles Paul wrote, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). God offers salvation from sin’s eternal punishment to everyone. Salvation is the first step in becoming a Christian. Have you made that step?

Read James 1:22. Explain that James was saying that unless we put God’s Word into action by doing what it says, we are only fooling ourselves if we think we are true Christians.

Enjoying Life

At the village well, young women were drawing water to wash clothes. Other women and children were sitting on mats in the shade of a large tree as they prepared a special drink made from crushed peanuts, bread and sugar. They offered us a sample. It was delicious! Some of the men were gathered in a yard, sharing stories. They were smiling and having a great time of fellowship.

REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Safi Women

1. Mothers to deliver their babies without complications,
2. Manage the budget and provide good food for their family,
3. Raise their children with strong biblical values.

Prayer Promise

"Do not forsake your mother's teaching" (Proverbs 1:8).

 

 

 

Remember: LETTERS WRITTEN TO GOD'S PEOPLE

Memory verse:  2 Thessalonians 2:15
"Stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."

1. I want my life to be an open letter.
2. I will tell about Jesus in my writing assignments at school.
3. I will explain the gospel in a letter to one of my friends.

Pray for Safi Women.

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Study 14 | Preach Christ/Our Bible | africaatts.org/go-teach

 

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