When discipling a new believer, especially someone who didn’t grow up going to church and is new to the Bible, take the time necessary to help her understand the gospel and her decision to place her faith in Jesus. It’s perfectly fine to spend longer than one meeting to go through this material. We will take this first week of the study to share some illustrations designed to help clarify what it means to experience spiritual birth, to understand why Jesus had to die, and the importance of placing our faith in the truths found in the Bible rather than an emotional experience. As you become more familiar with teaching these lessons and the illustrations, you can plan on teaching all of Week One during one meeting and assign homework at the end of the lesson.
A person is made up of three parts:
Physical body: What we are on the outside.
Soul: Our personalities, our seat of emotions. This is what makes identical twins separate and individual even though their physical bodies look the same on the outside.
Spirit: Our connection with God.
Draw three circles inside each other. The outside circle is the body, middle is soul, center circle is spirit.
Ask: Are you familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis?
For those who haven’t grown up in Sunday school, you can take them to Genesis 1–3 to explain the story.
God gave instruction for Adam and Eve to eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He explained that the day they ate of this fruit they would die (Genesis 2:17). This wasn’t a poisoned apple, but when they disobeyed and ate the fruit, their spirit or connection with God died.
Color in the center circle.
This dead spirit left a void in every single person born from that time onward. Every person is born with a dead spirit, which eventually leads to physical death. This spiritual void is what French physicist Blaise Pascal described this way: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
We try to fill the void with money, relationships, awards, food, shopping, and other things, but only God can fill the emptiness.
When a person recognizes their sin and need for God and accepts Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for their sin, they experience a spiritual rebirth.
Draw three new circles.
Have you heard of the term “born-again Christian”? The phrase can sometimes evoke a negative connotation, but it is true that everyone who places his or her trust in Jesus is made brand-new. This is a decision of heart, mind, and will. It’s like a decision to get married. You can intellectually determine this person is one you want to spend your life with, emotionally feel warm and starry-eyed, but not until you stand before a minister in the presence of family and friends are you married.
Draw a line between the two sets of three circles.
In John 3 Jesus explains how we must be born again, and in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul writes, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come.” When we are made new in Christ, changes start taking place from the inside out.
Take some time in the next two days and practice sharing the circle illustration with someone.