Explore: The power to save

 • The Explore the Bible lesson for Oct. 6 focuses on John 4:39-54.

I believe what a leader of any kind—whether it is a parent, teacher or business professional—wants most to instill in others is a sense of ownership. We desire that people feel a sense of responsibility for whatever work or task they are given.

This same idea is true when it comes to our spiritual lives. God desires followers who are not just "going through the motions" of religion. We all know what that looks like. Whether it is going to church out of a sense of obligation or giving money at church out of a sense of guilt, we know these are not signs of people who are in a true love-relationship with God. Instead, God would have us cultivate a desire within us to love him. We would love studying his word.

We would look forward to opportunities to give financially and times when we can gather with other believers in worship. These are the signs of someone who has really come to a place of "ownership" in their relationship with God.

Go deeper than surface level

In our study this week, we see two instances of people who went deeper than surface level in their new-found relationship with Christ. The first were those people who heard the testimony of the woman Jesus had spoken with at the well in Samaria.

Originally, the people were drawn to Jesus because of her amazing testimony. Her words drew them to seek Christ. Ultimately, though, they needed more. They invited Jesus to stay for a couple of days. After their own time with Christ, they said, "We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world." (Verse 42)

These people developed their own faith in Christ, based not on someone else's testimony, but their own interaction with Jesus. However, they are not the only ones who mature in their faith in this lesson. In the second episode in this week's study, we find the royal official whose son was in dire need of healing.

Clearly, he had heard many wonderful things about Jesus and believed there was something special about him. After Jesus performed the miracle for his son, Scripture tells us he "believed, along with his whole household." I believe this shows the official went deeper in his understanding of Christ.

When Christ's claims become real

Do you remember the time in your life when the claims of Christ became real for you? I certainly do. I was in college and was struggling with many life events. It was the first time I was on my own, and I was working through all of the issues that go with that. Also, one of my high school basketball teammates died in a tragic car accident.

My mother also had been told her illness was terminal. You add all that up, and I was going through a time as a young man that certainly tested my faith. At some point, I had to answer this question: Was my faith just a bunch of stories I was told by my parents and people within the church, or did I really believe in God?

The result was a time of real growth in my spiritual walk with God. I was honest with him, and he helped me take ownership of my faith. My faith came alive in my own heart through these struggles and my time of crying out to God. I believe this has to happen for each follower of Christ. It does not always happen in the same way, but there has to be a time of moving beyond other people's testimony and moving toward letting God write your own story.

Evidence of change

I also believe there will be clear fruit or evidence in a life when this encounter takes place. Consider a couple of observations.

First, these people will be with Christ for the long-term. Because they have "dug in deep" in this relationship, they are not going to be shaken by minor problems or obstacles. These people will have come to the point where they understand God makes promises and, more importantly, God always keeps his promises. They will be able to say along with the psalmist: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).

Second, these people will see clearly their role here on this earth. When you surrender yourself fully to Christ, then you begin to see the world as he sees the world. He sees people, and he wants to adopt them into his family.

As we follow Christ and go deep in our relationship with him, we will begin to desire the same things he desires. We will agree with Paul when he said, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

As we explore God’s word together this week, let us be encouraged to continue to “go deep” in our relationship with God and to let God use us to inspire others to do the same.

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