Dr. Charles F. Stanley

His Life's Purpose

Know Jesus

Charles Stanley preaching

Dr. Stanley was dedicated to knowing Christ and making Him known.

If there were only one thing Dr. Stanley could say to you now, it would be that God loves you, and you can have a meaningful, personal relationship with Him. Dr. Stanley would assure you that you can believe the testimony of Jesus Christ and trust Him to be your Lord and Savior. Learn more about what it means to know God personally and find answers to your greatest questions about your spiritual life below.

You can know God through Jesus Christ.

Do you yearn to experience the Lord’s comforting presence, power, and wisdom? That’s good, because God loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you forever.

The problem is . . .

. . . one thing separates you from a relationship with God—sin. You and I sin whenever we fail to live by the Lord’s holy standard. In fact, Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Furthermore, Romans 6:23 explains that the penalty for sin is death—separation from God in hell forever. No matter how hard we try, we cannot save ourselves or get rid of our sins. We can’t earn our way to heaven by being good, going to church, or being baptized (Eph. 2:8-9).

Understanding how helpless we are because of our sins, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to save us.

Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life, and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Rom. 5:8). Three days later, He rose from the dead—showing that He had triumphed over sin and death once and for all.

Charles Stanley Preaching

So how can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection (Rom. 5:10).

Romans 10:9 promises, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” If you have not yet begun your personal relationship with God, understand that the One who created you loves you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. He wants you to experience the profound depth of His care.

Therefore, tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever! Please let us know by emailing us at decision@intouch.org so we can rejoice with you. We know you will have questions about your new relationship with Jesus, and we want to help.

Begin your new journey with God by downloading the New Believer Kit! It has lots of great resources to answer your questions about your new life with Jesus.

  Download the New Believer Kit

I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, now what do I do?

Avoiding the Performance Trap

by Dr. Charles Stanley

A treadmill is one of the most effective tools for burning calories, despite the fact that the person exercising stays in the same place. Similarly, many workers worry and grope through each day, without actually making headway. Isn’t it ironic that in both pursuits, people must give great effort without really going anywhere?

So it is with people who try to work their way to righteousness. Many Christians grow stagnant in their faith because they expend tremendous energy trying to attain some lofty ideal of the “Christian experience.” They usually understand that grace is what saved them but believe they must pay God back with good works in order to remain saved.

Have you become a modern-day Pharisee? Do you maintain a mental or psychological checklist to ensure that you do what you should and resist what you should not? Are you closer to living under the law than under God’s grace?

When you act outside of God’s will, your life runs on finite “fumes”: your own strength. The result can be exhaustion, withdrawal, and bitterness. The real Christian experience requires only that we have faith in Jesus Christ and abide in Him, the true Vine (John 15:5).

You can’t do anything to make God love you more. Nor can you do anything to make Him love you less. This is a liberating truth! Your heavenly Father isn’t keeping score—we can’t pay Him back for His grace. In fact, no amount of good works can pay the debt of love we owe. The apostle Paul wrote, “The Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 3:24-25). He explained that there is no way we can keep God’s moral code perfectly. We need a Savior.

Even after we become Christians, God doesn’t want us to add law to His grace. He wants obedience, of course. But obedience is the overflow of a heart full of love, not legalism.

When Jesus tells us to keep His commandments, He emphasizes that obedience shows others we love Him (John 14:31). The moral law shows us our need of a Savior. But we cannot obey the Lord Jesus without His help. We are children wanting to please the Father because we love Him. This delivers us from legalism and keeps us grounded in grace, not only for salvation, but also for living the Christian life.

Living by Grace

The Scriptures compare our relationship with God to a race. Paul calls us to run so that we may win (1 Cor. 9:24)—and the author of Hebrews adds that we are to do so with endurance (Heb. 12:1).

Only by running on the wings of grace can believers triumphantly finish the course God has assigned for each one of His children. The legs of performance eventually grow weak. The muscles of legalism and religion weigh us down and become rigid hindrances. Our main problem is that we can understand the need for grace in salvation, but we tend to rely on other means for process of sanctification.

How can you cease striving, get off the performance treadmill, and learn to walk in grace? Here is the key: the more you humble yourself before God, the more you will receive the fullness of His grace.

God “gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Not to the strong, but to the weak. Not to the self-sufficient, but to the dependent. Grace belongs to the poor in spirit—in other words, those who humble themselves by recognizing God’s majesty and worshipping Him. The more you adore and praise the Savior, the more highly you’ll think of Him.

Humbling yourself won’t reduce your self-esteem or diminish your worth to God. Rather, it positions you to receive your sustenance from the source of all good things, Jesus Christ. As a humble believer, cast yourself on the grace of God, leaning on Him with your full weight. Draw all your strength, peace, joy, and security from the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit living within you.

Be strong in grace. Throw off the chains of works and “religion,” and receive the remarkable power of God’s merciful lovingkindness.

Adapted from Charles F. Stanley’s “Into His Presence” (2000) and “Handbook for Christian Living” (1996).

Does it matter what I believe, now that Jesus is my Savior?

Basic Christianity

by Dr. Charles Stanley

  1. Introduction

    For Christians, it is absolutely essential to know what we believe and why. To be sure our system of thinking is accurate, we must base it on the Word of God rather than on habit, culture, or family heritage.

    • Why is it important to understand scriptural truth (1 Peter 3:15)?
    • What are some other reasons Christians should know how to explain their beliefs?

    Let’s consider a list of absolute truths that should be a foundational part of your belief system.

  2. The Bible

    The Bible is a record of God revealing Himself. It explains His intervention in history and nature, and His arrival in this world as the God-man, Jesus Christ.

    • What is the inspiration of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16)?
    • Do you believe the Bible is reliable? Why or why not?

    The Word of the living God is our instruction book for life and the final authority for what we believe.

  3. The Godhead

    God consists of three distinct persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—but is one in essence. All three members of this Godhead (which is known as the “Trinity”) have the same character traits but different functions.

    • Describe how you see all three members of the Trinity in each passage below. (Refer to the surrounding text if necessary.)

    John 14:16-17 Matthew 3:16-17 The following is a brief overview of the Godhead’s different roles: Our heavenly Father is the Creator and is sovereign over everything (Rom. 8:28). God the Son is Jesus Christ, who took on human flesh and came to earth to die for the sins of mankind (John 14:9). Currently, these two members of the Trinity are in heaven (Eph. 1:20). God the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer from the moment of salvation. He enables us to fellowship with God, transforms the life of the believer, and produces good fruit through our lives (Gal. 5:22-23).

  4. Satan

    The Bible teaches that Satan is real. The Devil was once an angel who rebelled against the Creator. Satan instigates pain, sorrow, and spiritual death. He tries to lure people into his counterfeit kingdom by tempting them to do what feels good rather than what is right.

  5. Man

    God created man in His image in order to love and fellowship with us. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, our relationship with the Creator changed.

    • Is anyone not guilty of sin (Rom. 6:23)?
    • Why can’t a person just be good enough to make up for his or her sin (Is. 64:6)?
  6. Salvation

    The simplest definition of salvation is the gift of God’s grace, whereby He provides forgiveness for our sins. Throughout the Old Testament, God-fearing people sacrificed animals to atone for their sins. This practice foreshadowed Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice (1 Peter 2:24).

    • Why is it impossible for someone to reject Jesus and still go to heaven (1 John 2:23)?
    • How is a person saved (Eph. 2:8-9)?
    • Why should believers do good works (Eph. 2:10)?
  7. The Church

    The church is the whole body of Christ—believers from every part of the globe. It has nothing to do with being part of a denomination. If you have trusted Jesus as your personal Savior, you are in the body of Christ.

    • Read Romans 12:3-16. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal one or two things He would have you do.
    • What are three things the church should be doing, according to Matthew 28:19-20?
    • How do you help your church “make disciples of all the nations”?

    In the church, we practice baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which is also known as Communion.

    • What does baptism represent (Rom. 6:4)?

    Through Communion, we celebrate the forgiveness Christ gave us, His resurrection, and His future return.

    • What did Christ say is the purpose of Communion (Luke 22:19-20)?
  8. Closing

    Every one of these issues is a vital part of the Christian’s belief system, and they are all found in one place—the Word of God. If we know what this precious book says, we will know how to live for His glory.

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us the marvelous library we call the Bible. We can have clear answers about why we are on earth and what the future holds for Your children. Please help us to diligently study and obey Your Word, that we may live in a way that glorifies You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Adapted from “Living the Extraordinary Life” by Charles F. Stanley, 2005.

I still have the impulse to sin. What does that mean?

Why do I still have the impulse to sin?

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Galatians 5:16-17 When you placed your faith in Jesus Christ to forgive you of all your sins, were you filled with joy because of your new life in Him? Did the ungodly things you once did lose their attraction? Did you feel like you never wanted to sin again? Sometimes at the beginning of our relationship with Christ, we begin to feel as if we could conquer every evil impulse. Unfortunately, that feeling of invincibility does not last long. We stumble badly. New temptations and trials bring to light areas of weakness in our lives that we thought we had conquered. We feel confused, ashamed, and even alarmed. We wonder, How could this happen? I thought I was supposed to be free from sin! The truth is, Jesus has liberated us from our sins—but we must cooperate with what He has done for us. Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). In other words, God has broken sin’s hold over us and has given us His Spirit, who directs us in living a life of freedom that is pleasing to Him. However, we can forfeit our liberty by selfishly choosing our way instead of God’s. This is the basis of sin—we disobey the Lord in order to satisfy our own fleshly desires. Paul explains, “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17). The impulse to sin—also called the sin nature—remains within us and must be surrendered to God. This does not happen overnight, but is the continuing work of the Spirit within us. Paul affirms, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (v. 16). If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you have been united with Him. His likeness and holiness are present within your life and He empowers you to resist temptation. Therefore, you must have faith that He can remove ungodly strongholds within your heart and that He will continuously work to set you free from all sin and bondage. Your responsibility is to say no to sin and yes to Him as He provides the all-encompassing liberty that your soul craves. And if you do sin, ask His forgiveness as soon as possible, so that nothing will hinder your relationship with Him (1 John 1:9).

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

Can I lose my salvation?

This Gift Is Forever

by Dr. Charles Stanley

You and I do not have eternal life because we exhibit unwavering faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord, Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished for us on the cross. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9: “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The salvation that has been given to us is His loving, sacrificial gift to us—we can do nothing to earn it. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have learned that a present that can be taken back is not really a gift at all. True gifts have no strings attached. Once we place a condition of any kind on a present, it becomes a trade—not a gift. So to say that our salvation can be taken from us for any reason, whether it be sin or disbelief, is to ignore the plain meaning of what Paul teaches us in the verse above. Questioning the permanency of our salvation is equivalent to not believing Ephesians 2:8-9 or the other passages where what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is clearly described as a gift. What you do once you’re saved is another matter entirely. Once you accept a present, it’s yours, like it or not. You can take it and bury it in the backyard, but it is still belongs to you. You may say, “Well, what if I give it back?” But you can only return the present if the giver accepts it back, and there is absolutely no evidence in Scripture that the Lord has ever taken back the gift of salvation once it has been given. His love keeps Him from doing so. Remember, Christ came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Why would He take back what He came to provide? “What about a wavering faith?” we may wonder. “If faith is our way of accepting God’s gift, can’t we lose our salvation if our trust in Him falters?” Though it is true that faith serves as our spiritual hands by which we receive the Lord’s gift, it is not necessarily a sustained attitude. We are reconciled to God the moment we accept what He has offered. Has there been a time in your life when you accepted God’s free gift of salvation? If not, why not settle the issue once and for all right now? It’s really so simple. The Lord is not looking for a series of promises from you and is not concerned about what you can do for Him. Rather, He is more concerned about what you will let Him do for you. So have faith in what Christ has accomplished on the cross and accept His gift of eternal life. It is the one present you will never lose—it will truly be yours forever.

Adapted from Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure by Dr. Charles Stanley.

Why is it important to obey God?

The Adventure of Obedience

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Isaiah 30:21 Christians sometimes approach obedience as a way of avoiding the negative consequences of disobedience. They see obedience as a burden, not as the road to blessing. But God intended our walk of faith to be a great adventure, motivated by our love for Jesus Christ. Obedience is about expressing our love for and trust in God, not about avoiding unpleasant consequences. That is why John can say, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). When we place our trust in the omnipotence of the Lord and act on His prompting, life becomes worthwhile and purposeful. We need not be afraid of the future because God already knows the outcome of our obedience—and we can trust in His promise that He works everything out for our good (Rom. 8:28). Although we may not understand how, we are confident that the Lord is continuously moving us through a variety of circumstances toward His overriding purpose for our lives. However, if we fail to obey Him because of a mistaken desire for safety, we reject the opportunity for God to demonstrate His awesome power in us. Small choices to submit to God’s will may seem insignificant, but they lead toward a lifetime of walking with Him. And as His children, we should ask Him to lead us each day. “What would You have me say here, Lord?” or “What is the best decision now?” We must learn to listen to our heavenly Father and remain sensitive to the quiet voice that prompts us throughout the day. Isaiah says, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” (30:21). When we keep our minds focused on Him, we begin to understand the significance of our decisions and how He is guiding us along the adventurous path of His will. Ultimately this awareness will lead to a fulfilling, meaningful life of walking with the Lord and receiving His best for us. As you look at the day ahead of you, what is your next step of obedience? No matter how He directs you, trust Him and do exactly as He says. You’ll be glad you did.

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

How do I get to know God better?

Intimacy with God

Do you feel close to the Lord? Life’s distractions and duties can compete with our desire to spend time with God—then before we know it, we’ve drifted in our devotion to Him. But the Father desires to commune with us on a daily basis.

  1. Every individual is important to the Lord.

    You might feel unworthy of the Father’s attention, but the truth is, you are a unique creation and beloved in His sight. Every one of us was created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26); He designed us with the emotional and spiritual capacity to have an intimate relationship with Him.

    • According to Psalm 8:4-5, what special place does man hold in creation?
    • Do you ever feel undeserving of God’s notice? Why or why not?
    • Jesus called His disciples “friends” (John 15:15-16). In what way is your relationship with Him like a friendship? How does it differ?
  2. No one is too sinful to have a close relationship with God.

    According to Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (emphasis added). In other words, no one is righteous enough on his own to fellowship with God, who is perfectly holy. Instead of friendship with our Creator, we deserve death and hell—everlasting separation from Him. However, Jesus took the guilt of our sin on Himself and gave us the gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:22-23).

    • We typically think of eternal life as the promise of heaven after death. How does John 17:3 define it?
    • What is surprising about this definition?
    • Read Romans 4:7-8. Reflect on the sins you committed and confessed this past week. How does it feel to know you are completely clean in God’s sight?
  3. Cultivating an intimate relationship requires a commitment.
  4. Choose a special place where you can meet with God.

    Even if you don’t have a large home, devote one section of it to your time with God. You might choose a chair, a small rug, or even a closet. Eventually, that place will take on a sacred quality. There, you will find it easy to focus on the Lord and His still, small voice.

    • Read Luke 5:15-16. Where did Jesus go when He needed time alone?
    • Why do you think He sought the Father after the events of verse 15?
    • What prompted Jesus to seek solitude in Matthew 14:13?
    • What types of life crises prompt you to seek a solitary place to pray?
  5. Invest a significant amount of time in getting to know your Maker.

    Just like a close friendship or good marriage, an intimate relationship with the Lord requires time. Biblical writers often referred to “waiting on God.” By this, they meant trusting in the Lord and giving Him time to speak to their hearts, encourage them, or answer their prayers.

    • What benefits are associated with “waiting on the Lord”? Psalm 25:3; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 62:5
    • What do you enjoy most about sitting quietly before the Lord?
  6. Include Bible reading.

    Reading and meditating on Scripture should be a regular part of your time with God. It will teach you how the Lord thinks, remind you of His promises, and reveal areas of your life that need His correction.

    Before you read from the Bible, ask God to speak to you. He will be faithful to reveal His truth and show you how to apply it to your life.

    • List at least four benefits to making the Word of God a priority in your time alone with Him (Psalm 119).
  7. Humility and trust

    As we approach God, we must come with an attitude of humility. Proud people don’t see their need for the Lord and, consequently, resist His guidance and correction.

    • Read James 4:6-7. What does “God resists the proud” mean to you?
    • Describe what submitting to God would look like for you today.
    • What analogy did David use to describe his humility before the Lord (Psalm 131:1-3)? How is this an accurate picture of the attitude we should have in approaching God?
  8. If you are willing to invest in your relationship with God, you will reap a great reward.
    • In Psalm 63:3-5, “fat” or “marrow and fatness” refers to rich, satisfying food. What comparison does David make between physical sustenance and his time alone with God?
    • Read Psalm 16:11. Have you felt this kind of joy in the Lord’s presence?

Prayer: We were designed to fellowship with God, and it is the greatest pleasure our souls will ever know on earth. Ask the Lord to draw you closer to Him in this new year. If you have been too busy or distracted to dedicate time on a daily basis, pray for the grace to make fellowship with Him a priority. Wait on the Lord, and He will fill you with incredible joy in His presence.

Why pray?

God's Desire to Communicate with Us

Perhaps the greatest key to spiritual growth is spending time alone with the Lord. This means taking the time to speak with God about whatever is on your heart—and, even more importantly, allowing Him to speak to you.

God called King David “a man after My heart” (Acts 13:22). To win that kind of reputation, David first needed to know the mind and heart of God so that he might be and do what the Lord desired of him. David sought to know God. He frequently “inquired” of the Lord. He spent time in the Lord’s presence, singing to the Lord from the depths of his heart. In 2 Samuel 7:18 we read, “Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, ‘Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?’”

What did it mean for David to sit before the Lord in prayer? It means that he spent time alone in the presence of God, communicating with the Lord from the depths of his heart, asking Him questions, and listening quietly for the His answers.

Jesus frequently sought time apart with His heavenly Father. Time with the Father provided the Savior with a never-ending source of comfort and strength. Jesus also sought time alone with His disciples so that He might teach them and they might find spiritual refreshment (Luke 9:17-24).

We are wise if we choose to spend time alone with God in prayer—in a place without distractions or interruptions, for a period sufficient for us to relax completely and focus our attention fully upon the Father and His Word. We must be willing to wait in the Lord’s presence until we receive God’s directives or His words of comfort.

Why don’t many of us desire to spend time alone with God? The foremost reason is that we don’t feel sure of our relationship with the Lord and, therefore, we feel afraid of Him.

But those who are born again spiritually have a Father-child relationship with the Lord. Our heavenly Father loves us unconditionally and deals with us tenderly and patiently. The more we learn what He’s really like—the more we see Him as He truly is—the more we will long to spend time alone with Him . . . and the more we will know the fullness of His grace.

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

How should I pray?

Principles for Effective Prayer

by Dr. Charles Stanley

James 5:15-16 Each of us has prayed about situations and for other people without seeing results. When that happens, it’s easy to become discouraged. Rather than give up, we should review our lives to see if we need to alter something.

  1. Our prayers must flow from a heart that is in step with God. If we want our prayers to be effective, we must be open to His Spirit and be compassionate, forgiving, and sincere as we intercede. Therefore, pray that you will have His love and compassion for others and that you will forgive fully—just as He has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32).
  2. Our prayers are a link between our needs and God’s inexhaustible resources. Ask the Lord to reveal your or your loved one’s true needs and His power to meet those needs so that you can intercede in faith.
  3. Identify with the need of the other person. To be truly compassionate in our supplication, we must see others through Jesus’ eyes. When we realize that people are truly hurting on the inside, our mercy for them is released, and we can intercede for them with greater zeal, understanding, and emotion.
  4. Desire the highest good in the person’s life. We should pray to stay in the center of God’s will and that whomever we are praying for will do so as well. The Father knows what is absolutely best for each person and what it will take to bring him or her closer to Him.
  5. Be open to meeting the person’s need. Are you willing for God to use you to meet another person’s need? Will you allow Him to glorify Himself through you? Jesus did not back away from those who were hurting, and neither should we. We are to follow His example and always remember that God blesses us so that we might bless others.
  6. Persevere. We must continue praying, regardless of whether we see immediate results or not, because the longer we intercede for a situation or another person, the more tightly our hearts will be knit to God. That in itself is a comfort to those in need. Prayer binds us together with the Father and with others in love and fellowship—with a spiritual bond that lasts into eternity and will certainly be a blessing to us and to others.

Therefore, endure in your loving, compassionate, hopeful supplication for others, and always be confident that: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). God is listening, friend. Trust Him.

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

Why should I read the Bible?

The Inportance of Scripture

The truth of God’s Word applies to all men and women in every culture, in every age, in every walk of life. It is His supernatural manual that alone reveals His mind and ways so that humankind may know and experience His presence and eternal love.

The Bible is God’s written record of His works through the ages. It provides substantial evidence of His nature, plan, and purposes so that we can confidently place our faith in Him. Because we have His Word, we are not left to archaeological, historical, or theological guesswork. We can know how to live, make decisions, and worship the Lord, for “it is written” in His Word.

Scripture is divinely inspired. This means that He was involved in every detail that was recorded and written. It is God-breathed, and it is life’s final and ultimate authority. The Bible is the “last word” on issues pertaining to God and His will. No individual, institution, or organization can supersede the authority of Scripture. Likewise, the Bible is God’s guide to salvation and wise living. The psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105).

That is exactly why we are admonished not to add to or take away from Scripture (Rev. 22:18-19). It perfectly expresses the decrees and judgments of almighty God. The Bible is authoritative because it is the truth: “The sum of Your word is truth” (Ps. 119:160).

Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Bible enlightens each individual to recognize personal sin, the need for salvation, and the best possible life course. Without the Bible informing and illumining us, we would be hopelessly unable to know and follow the true and living God. When we say, “Oh, I just wish I could hear God speak to me!” we overlook the fact that He has spoken and is still speaking to us through His Word. He is never silent but is actively involved in every aspect of our lives (Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12).

The Bible is also profitable and nourishing. It provides us with an advantage in every department of life—family, business, and personal relationships. It is profitable because it reflects the wisdom of God; and when we abide by its teachings, we learn to live in His peace. As we meditate and consider its truth, our spirits and souls find nourishment. We become established and enriched in every experience of life by living according to God’s perspective. The Bible is the Book for everyone. It is revelation, inspiration, and communication of the Person and plan of the eternal, living, and powerful God.

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

Where do I begin reading the Bible?

Reading the Bible

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Scripture: Psalm 1:1-3 It is surprising how many people simply do not know how to study Scripture. The truth is, genuine Bible study can take many forms, and it can be as uncomplicated as focusing on a single word or phrase in a passage. For example, if you are reading Psalm 1:3 and come upon the word “prosper,” then you might ask yourself, What does it mean to prosper? How does God want me to be successful, bloom, and grow? These questions can lead you to examine the same word in other passages, or to trace the idea of bearing fruit throughout the entire Bible. For greater insight, incorporate other resources into your study. Consult a Bible dictionary, a concordance, and perhaps a topical Bible to clarify a particular issue. A standard dictionary can frequently be helpful, too, by shedding light on a word’s various shades of meaning. Commentaries offer an explanation of a passage’s historical and theological background. In addition, Bible software or online resources can open your eyes to the verses’ fuller impact. When studying God’s Word, we ought not settle for merely scratching the surface; rather, we should be motivated to dive in with excitement to discover exactly what God wants to teach us. We can achieve this by conducting word studies, by following certain themes or topics throughout the whole Bible, or by doing a book-by-book examination of Scripture. There are many ways to study God’s Word, all of which offer a rich experience and the blessing of revealed truth. There is no other book in the world like the Bible. When we read, meditate, and study Scripture, and then believe, apply, and share its principles, something happens to us. We become living, walking treasure houses because we grow to be prosperous in the things that matter. Money cannot buy the wealth that we have; death can’t take it away. Through God’s Word, we possess eternal riches.


Study the first three verses of Psalm 1. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • What man or woman is truly blessed?
  • In what does such a person find his delight?
  • What is the result of his delight and obedience?

Should I be baptized?


by Dr. Charles Stanley

Baptism is such a vital part of discipleship that Jesus included it in the Great Commission: we are to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Although a person’s sins are forgiven based on faith in Jesus alone, baptism is an important symbol of death to our old way of living and a new beginning in Christ. Scripture tells us the details about a number of New Testament believers who were baptized after coming to faith in Jesus. The Ethiopian eunuch is one of them. Read the story of his conversion in Acts 8:25-40.

Ethiopian’s Conversion and Baptism

  • What prompted Philip to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (v. 26)? (The road was in the “desert,” meaning it was rarely used or went through an unpopulated area.)
  • Candace was probably a title rather than a given name, much like Pharaoh of Egypt or Caesar of Rome. Describe the rank or position of the Ethiopian under this ruler (v. 27).

The official in this passage may not have been a literal eunuch. The term was also used of anyone in a high governmental office. In Genesis 39, Potiphar is described as a eunuch, although we know he had a wife. The Law forbade literal eunuchs from worshipping God with other Jewish men (Deut. 23:1). By reaching out to this man in such a deliberate way, the Lord indicated His desire to offer salvation to everyone, regardless of race or physical deformity. The Ethiopian was probably a Gentile proselyte, or convert, to Judaism. In his devotion to the one true God, he had traveled about 1,500 miles from his homeland to attend one or more of the season’s Jewish feasts: Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles.

  • Who or what prompts Philip to “join” the chariot (v. 29)?
  • When Philip asks the Ethiopian if he understands the passage of Scripture, the official’s answer sounds almost sarcastic to modern readers. How do we know it was not meant that way (v. 31)?
  • Isaiah 53 predicted a suffering servant who would bear the sins of humanity. Today we recognize this passage as prophecy about Jesus. Explain how the details in Isaiah 53:7-8 (also Acts 8:32-33) correspond with the historical facts about our Lord’s trial and crucifixion. (For help, see Matthew 27:12-14; Luke 22:63-65 and 23:32; John 1:29; Revelation 5:6.)

Either from hearing the apostles’ preaching during his visit to Jerusalem or through Philip’s gospel presentation, the Ethiopian realized that once a person believed in Jesus as the Messiah, he should be baptized (v. 36). In verse 37, Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may [be baptized],” and the Ethiopian answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Although this verse is not found in the oldest manuscripts, its principle is repeated over and over in the New Testament: first comes belief, then baptism.

  • Name the person or group of people baptized after salvation in each of the following passages:

Acts 2:41 Acts 8:5-12 Acts 9:17-18 Acts 16:27-34 Baptism was an old Jewish custom given new meaning in Christ. Under Mosaic law, Jews bathed in water as part of ritual cleansing. They had also adopted baptism as a step in a Gentile’s conversion to Judaism. In both of these rituals, the person was submerged under water, so that’s likely what happened here, rather than baptism by sprinkling or pouring. Scripture says the two men “went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him” (v. 38).

  • What supernatural event occurs after the Ethiopian’s baptism (v. 39)?
  • Why do you think the Ethiopian “went on his way rejoicing”?

Application Using the Jewish Scriptures, Philip explained the gospel to the Ethiopian (v. 34).

  • Could you show someone Old Testament messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus?
  • Using verses from the New Testament, could you share the plan of salvation?
  • If you answered no to either of the previous questions, how could you be more prepared to “give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15)?
  • Have you ever sensed the Spirit’s leading regarding evangelism and, like Philip, been given the perfect opportunity to share your faith? If so, describe what happened.

Baptism should be one of the first steps of obedience we take after trusting in Christ for salvation.

  • If you have been baptized according to Scripture, describe your experience.
  • How does witnessing the baptism of new believers affect you?
  • If you are saved but were never baptized, or you were not baptized by immersion, what hinders you from following Jesus’ example as described in the Bible?

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us baptism as a symbol of the new beginning we have in Christ. I pray that, like Philip, I would be sensitive to Your Spirit’s guidance in leading others into a relationship with You. Please give me divine appointments with those who are eager to hear about the path to salvation. Amen.

Why should I join a church?

Finding the Right Church

by Dr. Charles Stanley

It is important for all believers to be joined to a local church body. But how should you select a church? Let’s examine the essential qualities of a Bible-believing fellowship. If you do not currently belong to a congregation, use these guidelines as a resource while you search for one. If you are already an active church member, this list can help you evaluate where you attend. Since all Christians do not agree on the same interpretation of Scripture, the first thing we must investigate is the church’s doctrine or fundamental beliefs.

  • Does the church believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God?

    Do the leaders trust that Scripture is without error, and all of it is useful and necessary in our daily lives (2 Tim. 3:16)? Many professing Christians try to excuse certain miraculous or supernatural passages of the Bible, such as the creation account in Genesis or the final judgment in Revelation. If a church tries to make Scripture more comfortable or understandable by sacrificing a doctrinal truth, then it fails to maintain the integrity of the Word. The Bible is the perfect revelation of God to His people.

  • Does the church believe Jesus is not simply the Son of God but actually God Himself (John 1:1-2, 14)?

    The deity of Christ is absolutely a fundamental belief of any biblical church. Had Jesus been an ordinary man, He would have been a sinner like the rest of humanity. The penalty for our wrongdoing needed to be paid by someone who’d never sinned. If Christ disobeyed God, then you and I are left to face the full wrath of the Father (Heb. 9:27).

  • Does the church believe Jesus was born of a virgin?

    If we have faith in God’s Word, then we must trust that it speaks the truth regarding Jesus’ miraculous birth, as recorded in the Gospels (Matt. 1:23-25).

  • Does the church believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ?

    When Jesus left the tomb, He left it physically. He was not simply a spirit floating around; He was a person—alive and in the flesh (John 20:24-29).

  • Does the church believe Jesus is going to return?

    Scripture is clear that Christ will come back to the earth. He will call His followers home and bring judgment on the ungodly (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

  • Does the church believe there will be a future judgment?

    When Christ returns, He will return as a righteous Judge. At that time, He will separate His people from those who do not know Him. Some churches are not comfortable with this portrayal of the Lord, but it is thoroughly biblical (Matt. 25:31-46).

  • Does the church believe there is a literal heaven and hell?

    This goes along with the truth of the coming judgment. After all, if the “sheep” and “goats” are separated (Matt. 25:31-46), then each group must have a place to go.

  • Does the church believe Jesus went to the cross and died a sacrificial atoning death?

    This is the most important point of all. The cornerstone of our faith is that Jesus Christ bore the punishment we deserved—we gained the freedom of God’s forgiveness through the Savior’s death and resurrection. This was the price that was necessary to forgive, redeem, reconcile, justify, and conform us to the image of God’s Son. It was also proof that God truly loves us unconditionally, perfectly, and not on the basis of anything we have done (John 3:16; Rom. 5:5-7).

If the church you attend does not accept these things as true, I suggest you leave that fellowship. Why? Because what you believe determines where you will spend eternity and how you will live here on earth. If you think there is no hell, heaven, or judgment, you will most likely live a morally offensive lifestyle. It is impossible to live a godly life unless core doctrines are firmly set in your walk of faith. Once you get past the doctrine test, you need to ask two more questions of the church. First, is it building your faith? In other words, are you being strengthened in your relationship with God and enabled to understand Scripture? If your answer is “no,” it may be an indication you are not in the right place. Second, does the church have a ministry to the world? A true Christ-centered fellowship will not be satisfied trying to keep the power of the gospel locked within its four walls, available only to its own members. Rather, a solid biblical church expresses a deep desire to reach the world for Christ, taking the truth to those who have never heard it. When you follow these three tests—doctrine, faith-building, and missions—they will guide you to a biblical church. If you are already part of a body of believers, then these guidelines will help solidify your understanding of what the church believes. It is a delight to be part of a local group of people who are doctrinally grounded in the Word of God, who love to be edified through Scripture, and who are concerned about a world that does not know their God. My friend, the Lord is intimately concerned about your church affiliation, and He desires to meet with you in new and exciting ways every time you come to Him in worship. Therefore, don’t settle for simply becoming a church member; instead, recognize your proper place within the growing, vibrant, active body of Jesus Christ.

How does God want me to serve?

Created for Good Works

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Many people come from backgrounds in which they were taught—either subtly or directly—that they would never amount to anything, weren’t worth anything, and would never be fully acceptable. I started school a year before my peers, so I was always the youngest person in my class. That meant the other children were usually taller and heavier. Many times that led to my being picked on or left out. At home, my stepfather repeatedly told me I would not amount to anything. My attempts to please him were never quite good enough. Other than my mother, there were only two adults who showed any signs of accepting me during my growing-up years. My life was a wilderness of disapproval and devaluing statements that always found their way to the core of my being. They created low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy—a major form of bondage and very heavy emotional baggage, indeed. Look around you on any given day, and you’ll find people who feel they will never be good enough to be truly of value. However, God says we need only to receive His love and accept what He’s done for us to gain full acceptance in His kingdom. Our heavenly Father doesn’t base our worth on performance, achievements, friends, possessions, or appearance. He bases it on whether we know, follow, and trust Jesus Christ as Lord. Now, do you base your self-esteem on the world’s opinion, which is often shallow, wrong, and more detrimental than it is helpful? Or is your sense of self-worth defined by God’s opinion, which is eternal and always for your benefit? The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Perhaps no verse in the Bible so succinctly and clearly expresses what you mean to God. Note several things about that verse.

First, you are God’s workmanship. In Greek, the verse indicates that you are a person of notable excellence. You are extremely precious to Him because He made you.

Second, you are created in Christ Jesus. The Lord loved you so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on a cross for you. His love can never grow any greater. It can never be diminished. It is always the same—infinite! Your creation in Christ Jesus is actually a re-creation of you. As Paul wrote elsewhere, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Part of being a new creation means getting rid of the old—especially the “bad tapes” of past sins, inabilities, deficiencies, and inferiority that replay over and over in our minds. It was not until I was an adult that I realized my admiration of certain people was misplaced. I did not admire them for who they were in Christ. They intimidated me because of their position in the community. God wanted to renew my perspective with the truth about my identity in Him. I began to tell myself, “I am a new creation, a child of God. Jesus has prepared a home for me in my heavenly Father’s mansion. One day, I will enjoy the company of angels and saints! I am somebody in Christ.” In recognizing that you are a new creation, you must also face up to the fact that Christ does the recreating. It’s His work. When feelings of inferiority surface, say to the Lord, “Whatever potential I have, God, I trust You to bring it to fullness. I’ll work hard at whatever job You give me. But as of today, I give up striving for perfection in my own strength.”

Third, the Lord has created you for good works, and He is the One who enables you to do them. God has already designed what those tasks are to be. In other words, before you were born, He had a role for you to fill. Believers who catch a glimpse of the Lord’s love for them—His plans for their lives, and His desire to be with them—will find confidence and inner assurance that can’t be matched. Above all, remind yourself constantly who the Father says you are and what He thinks of you. Your self-esteem must be based on His opinion, not your analysis or someone else’s. Remember, it’s what God thinks that truly matters.

Adapted from The Source of My Strength, by Charles F. Stanley, 1994.

Why does God want me to give?

Tithing and Giving

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Malachi 3:8-12 God has set forth very specific directives about what He expects us to give back to Him (Lev. 27:30; Deut. 14:22-23). Malachi 3:8-12 clearly teaches that we are to give Him a tithe, which is ten percent of what we produce or earn (the word tithe is based on the number ten in Hebrew). Offerings were gifts, often of material goods, given above and beyond the tithe. People normally made offerings for specific reasons. In this case, it was a requirement of the Law, such as their sacrifice on the Passover; and sometimes voluntarily to meet a special need or as thanksgiving for a special blessing (Lev. 1:1-7:21). The children of Israel gave such a generous offering at the time they built the tabernacle that Moses actually had to tell them to stop giving (Ex. 35:4-36:7)! The tithe is given to God from our increase and for our increase. It is our acknowledgement that all we have and all we are able to achieve comes directly from the hand of God (Mark 12:41-44). It is also the way we open the door of our finances to give and receive His blessing. When we give the first tenth of our earnings back to the Lord, we return to Him what was His in the first place and what He asks us to give to Him so that He will remain our first priority (Matt. 6:19-24). The Lord is very specific in the way we are to give our tithes and offerings.

First, we are to bring them into His storehouse. Generally that meant His tabernacle or temple in the Old Testament, and the church in the New Testament. We are to give our tithes wherever we regularly worship the Lord—not only to care for the church building and those who work there but to support the expansion of His kingdom by spreading the gospel and ministering to the community for His name’s sake (2 Cor. 9:7-14).

Second, we are to make our gifts on a regular basis. Paul advised the Corinthians, “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Cor. 16:2). In this way, we make our obedience to God a consistent practice and have a constant reminder of His lordship and provision in our life.

Third, choosing to obey God by tithing our income indicates the level of our faith in Him. When we obey Him, we are essentially saying, “Lord, I trust You for every need I have.” We not only honor Him through our giving, we also demonstrate our faith in His ability to provide for us. There is no way we can outgive God. Therefore, we need to give with a willing heart, knowing that He has given more to us than we could ever give back to Him.

Fourth, we are to give our gifts joyfully. People who give grudgingly, solely from a sense of duty, do not truly open up their lives to God’s purpose and blessings for them (Matt. 6:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:1-15). The joy in our hearts about giving is a direct expression of our trust in God to meet our needs (Phil. 4:19).

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

Does God care about my troubles?

Will God really meet all my needs?

Have you ever pondered the real meaning of Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”? If so, then you may also have encountered some frustration.

“What about this need I have had for years?” you wonder. “Doesn’t God care about that aching hole in my heart? Why doesn’t He just fill it by meeting my needs automatically?” The truth is, God wants us to trust Him and not look only for the blessing. In other words, keep our focus on the right thing, which is a personal relationship with the Savior. Circumstances have little to do with lasting joy. Peace, joy, and contentment come from knowing God and having a personal relationship with Him. The only way to be fully happy is to have a heart that is set on Jesus Christ. Then when difficulty comes, we won’t feel lost, confused, or disillusioned.

Many people attempt to meet their own needs apart from God. But this never works. It only leads to frustration and deep disappointment. There will be times when we wonder if He hears our prayers. He always does. And He also is the only One who can answer correctly and satisfy the desires of our hearts. So why do we struggle? Usually, it is because we think we know better than God. We fail to realize we cannot meet our own needs or compel Him to comply with our personal desires, schedule, or concept of how we think something should be done.

The first step to having our needs met is to trust Him completely with the entirety of our lives. He knows what is best for us, and His purpose in allowing any delay is for our good. Waiting prepares us for a greater blessing. It strengthens our faith and reliance on Him and consequently rids us of a desire to be self-sufficient.

The second step is to obey Him and allow Him to work fully in our lives. Many times, He stretches our faith by allowing us to have a need. He knows how we will respond, but He wants us to learn how to say yes to His design—even when we do not have all the information and facts.

The third step is to trust and wait for Him. In a very real sense, your unmet need is a form of trial and temptation. It’s a trial because its lack of fulfillment can feel truly painful, and it’s a temptation because it urges you to turn away from God to meet your own needs. But James says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

So what are you to do when the delay goes on, the pressure to give up increases, and you feel weary of beating yourself up with false guilt? It may sound like a platitude, but keep your eyes on the Lord and follow Him—no matter what. James tells us that the testing of our faith leads to perseverance, which works to make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).

Worked out on the journey of faith, such unwavering trust has profound results.

How can I face the trials in my life with courage?

How can I find courage in the face of challenges?

by Dr. Charles Stanley

1 Samuel 17:12-54 Any time God requires us to face trials and tribulations, He always provides the courage to meet the demand. David was a man of great courage—not merely human courage, but courage rooted in the sovereignty of God. In 1 Samuel 17, we see God’s supernatural strength in action in the life of David.

Defeat is never a viable option for the person of courage. As David faced Goliath, he never considered defeat an option. People of courage refuse to look for ways of escape. They set their gaze on advancement and victory. Never go into battle entertaining thoughts of defeat; you will lose every time. Men and women of courage know their success lies with our unshakable God.

Courageous people recall past victories and God’s faithfulness. At times David had faced enemies just as vicious as Goliath. In the moments before the battle, David recalled how God had strengthened him in the past to kill both a lion and a bear. He expected the same sort of help to strengthen him against Goliath.

Courage is a result of having the right attitude. David realized he could not win in his own strength. He knew God had to be with him or he would suffer defeat.

Courageous people look to God and trust His guidance. David’s brothers mocked him. Saul doubted him. Goliath made fun of him. But their negative talk did not affect David. Every time God calls you to follow Him, expect opposition, even from surprising sources.

Genuine courage is not chilled by inner fears or outward difficulties. The person of courage isn’t interested in those who refuse to believe God. Take time to study God’s Word and apply His principles to your life. You can always face your enemies head on when you stand on the promises of God’s Word.

A courageous person applies resources at hand in creative ways. David chose five smooth stones and a slingshot as his weapons instead of the bulky armor of Saul. He faced Goliath clothed in the strong faith of the living God. And mere men cannot penetrate or defeat God-centered faith!

A person with the attribute of courage confronts an opponent with confidence that God will ultimately give him success if he obeys Him. When we face life’s trials as David did, by faith, we become men and women of courage—and the victory is always ours.

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

How do I share my faith with family and friends?

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Here Paul, the renowned apostle, revealed that the results of his preaching were not dependent on his personal skills, knowledge, or expertise but on the power of God.

Since the biblical principle in this passage applies to all Christians, it can be a simple but powerful guideline to help us share the gospel. Paul doesn’t mention any textbooks, formulas, or evangelistic strategies. Rather, he concentrates on two basic truths that all of us can grasp.

To share the gospel effectively and compellingly, Christians should focus on the right spirit and the right message. It’s that simple.

The right spirit for sharing our faith is the spirit of humility. One of the greatest hindrances to communicating the gospel is personal pride. Unbelievers are seldom offended by a Christian who humbly shares what Christ has done in his or her life.

Personal honesty, including admission of our past failures and problems, is rarely an obstacle to witnessing. But when we imply through a proud spirit that we’re better than others because of our salvation experience, we immediately establish a barrier to the gospel.

Unbelievers quickly recognize spiritual pride. They see it as hypocrisy and resent the implication that they are inferior to Christians. How many people are won to Christ when we’re filled with pride and arrogance? Very few.

The other essential element in sharing our faith is having the right message. But what is the right message? Paul wrote: “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Contrary to what some people think, you do not have to know philosophy or theology to share Christ. You do not need a seminary degree. Paul said you should know that Jesus died on your behalf, bore your sins, and paid your penalty of death. As a result, you can receive the gift of eternal life from the Father.

When you talk with unbelievers, center your conversation on the person of Jesus Christ. It’s His claims and His life that you are sharing. Paul clearly understood this truth. That is why the message of the cross was the focus of his preaching.

Salvation is not complicated. An eight-year-old can know Jesus as his Savior as readily as an eighty-year-old. All that is necessary is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning work on Calvary.

A personal testimony is a mighty tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit. As long as it focuses on Christ, it can be a significant factor in drawing others to Jesus. I know of many people who came to know Christ because they heard what He had done for someone else.

Others can relate to a personal testimony. They can identify with our doubts, fears, mistakes, and ignorance. They can see the difference Christ has made in our lives.

They understand when we share our feelings of hopelessness and meaninglessness. Deep within, they share the same sense of guilt over sin, the same fear of death, and the same questions about the purpose of our existence.

Never hesitate to tell others what Christ has done for you. It is a story of supernatural significance—even if it happened without drama or fanfare.