This weekend, my husband and I watched the documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone on Netflix. I’d been hearing about it from friends, but hadn’t taken the time to watch it. I’m so glad I did! The movie is well done, full of excellent theology and doctrine, unabashedly correcting the false gospel that has been sweeping the world for far too long.
After the movie was over, however, my husband and I were both struck by how dense it was. It’s so full of testimony, Biblical teaching and commentary that we felt like we’d need to watch it again with a pen and notebook to really gain clarity on the issues addressed.
So here is what I’d like to share with anyone else preparing to watch this movie, whether it’s the first viewing or you’ve seen it before – use this study guide to enhance your experience with the documentary, and to prepare yourself for further discussion and study. While I loved the movie and am so grateful it was made and given such a public platform, I am committed to being a student of the Word of God, a disciple of Jesus. It’s not enough to just watch the movie, be convicted and then walk away without an action plan. We are called be changed in Christ, made new, and His living Word is a large part of how He accomplishes that in us. So grab your Bible, a notebook and a pen, and get ready to really dive in to what the Bible says.
American Gospel: Christ Alone
The following is a list of Bible passages highlighted in the movie, American Gospel: Christ Alone (2018). For the most part, they are in the order the appear in the movie, to help you utilize your notes as you watch.
I suggest that you carefully read each passage prior to watching the movie, keeping a notebook with answers to the following questions:
- What do I observe or learn about man?
- What do I observe or learn about God?
- What do I observe or learn about Jesus Christ?
- What do I observe or learn about salvation?
During the movie, make notes of follow-up questions you have and any answers the movie provides for you. After your own study and watching of the movie, find a trusted Biblical pastor or counselor in your life to help you find the answers to any remaining questions you have. Be sure this person can show you Biblical references for their answers so that you can study further and confirm the truth.
I teach others how to study the Bible inductively. This is a method of Bible study that helps us interpret the Bible according to a set of standards that are universally accepted, so that we can get to the true meaning of the text without being derailed by our emotions or the manipulations of less-than-ethical teachers in our lives. The basic steps of Inductive Bible Study are Observe, Interpret and Apply. Very simply, it looks like this:
Observe – What does the passage say?
- Read and reread the passage.
- Ask questions to help you gather facts like a reporter.
- Who are the people in the passage?
- What are the important ideas in the passage? (Noticing repeated words and phrases can help you find the important ideas).
- Where and when is this taking place?
Interpret – What does the passage mean?
- What are the meanings of important words? Use a dictionary or Greek/Hebrew concordance to find out (www.blueletterbible.org).
- Look at other verses that relate to the passage. These cross-references can be found in the margins of most Bibles or in the footnotes. How do they help explain the passage?
- Compare this passage to other versions of the Bible.
Apply – How does this affect me?
- What is the Holy Spirit saying to me in this passage? Pray.
- What is one way I can apply the message of this passage to my life?
- What will I do differently because of what I’ve learned?
For your study along with American Gospel, you will be focusing on the observation of very specific topics addressed in the documentary. The teachers and other Christians in the movie help interpret those passages, and I’d encourage you to pursue the interpretation even further if you still have questions. And finally, it is up to you to apply what you learn to your life. Don’t think watching this movie or reading these verses is enough; put them into action in your life.
Romans 12:2 tells us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The transformation of a Christian comes from renovating how we think. We are rebuilding our worldview according to Biblical truth. And anyone who likes HGTV knows what the first step in a renovation project is… DEMO DAY. I am certain that if there is renovation needed in your understanding of the Biblical gospel, that this documentary and study guide will be a powerful hit in your own demo day.
I pray that you will find God’s Word to be as living and active as I have, and that this project will bear great and eternal fruit in your life.