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Sesssion 11 - 2 Peter 1:19-21 (HCSB) - WITH TRUST - Day 3

Posted on November 8, 2016 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Session 11 – 2 Peter 1:19-21 (HCSB) - WITH TRUST – Day 3

 

2 Peter 1:19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

 

The prophetic word was the entire scripture as they had it at that time, the whole Old Testament. The disciples had studied the Old Testament from the time they were twelve years old (and had been taught orally at their mothers’ knees). As they followed Jesus, they began to see that He was the fulfillment of all of the messianic prophesy in the flesh standing before them. They based their trust on the word of God, not just their experience of seeing miracles or a man who could draw large crowds. Their belief in Jesus as Messiah was not based on a series of emotional, feel good events. The foundation of their faith was all the word of God taught about the Messiah. Their teaching about Jesus was based on sound, biblical doctrine and insight as well as His own words to them and in their presence. Our personal testimonies are valid, but the word of God trumps experience.

 

Romans 10:17 (VOICE) So faith proceeds from hearing, as we listen to the message about God’s Anointed.

 

The message we share is the word of God rather than our own words. It is the scripture that is used by the Holy Spirit to draw men into faith. The Bible is the light guiding us to the end of this dark tunnel called life on earth. We need to keep our focus on The Light, Jesus, and the light He provides in His word.


Psalm 119:105 (VOICE) Your word is a lamp for my steps; it lights the path before me.

 

2 Peter 1:20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

 

Peter is saying that he and the other writers of the scripture did not generate or initiate the words they recorded. They were under the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (AMP) All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Question – Why is it important to quote or read actual scripture when witnessing? Is it enough to commiserate with a fellow believer that you’ve had a bad experience similar to theirs, or is it more effective to also share something directly from the word of God?

 

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 12 - Lesson 6

Posted on June 2, 2016 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Jesus Came as the Light

 

John 12:44 (ESV) And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.

 

The Jews saw Jesus as competing with the Jewish Religion and with the true God. However, Jesus explained many times in many ways the He and the Father were One. Part of the Shema (the prayer that Jews recite in morning and evening prayers) was “Hear, O Israel, The Lord is your God, the Lord is One,” so I can see why some would be confused about God and His Son being equally God. However, that is exactly what the promised Messiah was to be – God’s Son who is equally God. Jesus came to fulfill God’s original intention. The Lord is one – He is not fragmented. There is not a god of the moon, god of the flowers, god of fertility, etc. as pantheistic religions believe. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even though they have different roles or jobs, have one unified purpose. They are drawing to themselves a holy people, newly created by grace, to not only serve them but to be one with them as family. Christianity is unique in that we have a risen Savior rather than a dead founder and in the fact that God desires to be our perfect Father, that we become sons and daughters of our God. In claiming deity, Jesus was pointing out that if a person sees Him, knows Him, that person sees and knows God. He was the Messiah sent to be sacrificed as the perfect Lamb in order that we might be freed from slavery to sin to have that family relationship with our Holy God.

 

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

 

Jesus is the spotlight on the path to the Father. Jesus came into the world as a beacon to draw men out of darkness and show them the safe way home like a lighthouse guides the ships to harbor. When we step into the light by trusting Jesus, He cleanses us from the darkness of sin.

 

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

 

Walking in the light Jesus provides not only gives us fellowship with God but enables us to have fellowship with other believers, our brothers and sisters in His family. Darkness is a euphemism for sin. Even in movies or TV shows, if someone walks into a dark alley, the ominous music begins to play, and we know something bad is going to happen. Jesus is the opposite of the darkness. He is perfect good and drives out darkness for those who trust Him.

 

John 12:47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

 

The time when Jesus will judge was not yet, and is not yet; but it WILL come soon. Jesus came so that those the Father chooses and the Holy Spirit draws could avoid judgement. As was said earlier in John 3:17 (NIV) “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus’ purpose while He ministered on earth at that time was to die for sinners and draw them to a relationship with the Father. Jesus entire mission was to die as the perfect Lamb in order that those who believe would be saved by His grace and freed from the tyranny of sin. His mission was to be lifted up in order to draw people to Him and make them part of the Father’s forever family.

 

John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

 

On the last day, those who have not believed in Jesus will be judged by the Scripture. Jesus was the Word (Scripture) incarnate, so His words will judge them. Those listening to Him would eventually be judged for rejecting His words, and those who have heard or read the word of God, the Bible, will be judged based on the word. To reject the Bible is to reject Jesus.

 

 John 12:49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

 

The IVP New Testament Commentary:

Since Jesus' teachings come from God and offer eternal life, a rejection of these teachings is itself condemnation, for it is a rejection of God and his offer of life.

 

When a person does not believe or negates the Bible, that person is rejecting the very word of God. It is like snubbing your nose at God’s invitation to become a part of His family. It is as if a person is thinking in their mind that they are so good they have no need of God. Even as believers, if we pick and choose portions of the Bible to live by and ignore the verses we don’t like, we are being disobedient to God. Taking the Bible as an a la carte menu? I don’t think so! We need to study the whole counsel of God and ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey what we learn.

 

Q – We are striving to faithfully share the word of God with you. As you read the Bible along with us, you are either believing or rejecting what it says. Are you trusting Jesus or are you rejecting His word? Remember, rejecting the Word of God is the same as rejecting God’s invitation to eternal life as a part of His loving family. Please do NOT reject the word of God! The opposite is also true. Believing the word of God, trusting in Jesus, is accepting that invitation to freedom from a life of sin and freedom to become a part of God’s forever family.

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 12 - Lesson 4

Posted on May 29, 2016 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

 

John 12:27 (ESV) “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.

 

Jesus realized “His time” was just around the corner. It was almost upon Him. In His humanity, He was anguished at the enormity of what fulfilling His purpose would require. Obedience to the Father would mean facing not only excruciating death on the cross but bearing the weight of the sins of the world in His perfect person as the final sacrificial Lamb slain once for all.

 

Revelation 13:8b (KJV) … the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

 

Jesus asked rhetorically whether or not He should beg God to let Him bypass “this hour.” He answered His own question by stating it was for this purpose that He came. Incarnation, Jesus’ birth as the God-man, was always about His ultimate sacrifice in the place of those who would believe in Him. This was God’s eternal “end-game.” Jesus came in order to increase the eternal family from three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) to include many adopted sons and daughters who He would redeem by paying the price of their sin on the cross.

 

John 12:28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

 

Jesus was submitting to the Father by accepting the painfulness of the trial He faced in order to bring ultimate glory to God. The Father spoke audibly from Heaven to assure Jesus the Son that He had already received glory from His ministry and would glorify His name again through Jesus’ obedience. Of course, Jesus would have already known this since He and the Father are One.

 

John 12:29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

 

God’s voice sounded like thunder to some in the crowd, but others thought it was the voice of an angel talking to Jesus. The difference in interpretation of the sound may have something to do with whether the person was inclined to believe Jesus was the Messiah or not.

 

John 12:30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

 

The voice from Heaven was for the benefit of the people gathered around Jesus because we know Jesus could hear the Father without audible words. Jesus spoke of the judgment of the world and the ruler of the world being cast out. Satan may have appeared to have a victory when Jesus died on the cross, but it was His death as the Lamb of God that caused Satan’s defeat.

 

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

 

Satan is still active in the world, but he knows his time is limited and he is ultimately defeated. Jesus lived a sinless life as a man, died in our place on the cross, and rose from the dead showing that Satan and death have no power over Him.

 

John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

 

The picture of Jesus dying in MY place on the cross proves to me that He loves me as no one else ever has or ever could. It is sad that many “churches” have negated the cross in their décor and even in their sermons as this is God’s highest “drawing card.” Whose house is it after all?! The cross was the turning point of history, and the cross was the turning point of His story. It is also the realization that Jesus, the sinless Son of God, died in my place and rose from the dead, that makes all the difference in my story.

 

John 12:34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

 

The crowd understood that Jesus was speaking of crucifixion when He said He must be lifted up. They were thinking His death would be permanent. They did not realize He would rise from the dead victorious forever.

 

John 12:35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

 

Jesus did not really answer their question but went on to present an invitation to believe and trust in Him. One of Jesus’ “I AM” statements was “I am the Light of the world.” Jesus would not be there to guide them and instruct them in the ways of God much longer. He admonished them to listen attentively while He was in their presence in the flesh. He explained they needed to trust in Him so they could be adopted into God’s forever family.

 

Matthew 5:14 (ESV) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

 

When we trust in The Light, Jesus puts His light in us to make us lanterns to guide others to Him and ultimately toward our eternal home.

 

Q – Have you ever thought of the image of Jesus on the cross drawing people to Him? It is the ultimate expression of love – dying for someone else. Do you believe Jesus did this for YOU? Have you trusted Him to take you to Heaven? Have you come to that turning point in YOUR story. If you are already a believer, a Christian, are you being the lantern God intends for you to be; or have you let your light become so dim that people have a difficult time seeing it, let alone following it to The Light? Add some oil to that lamp and let it shine!

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 8 - Lesson 2

Posted on April 12, 2016 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I AM the Light of the World

 

John 8:12 (ESV) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

This is the second of Jesus’ “I AM” statements in the book of John. You may recall that earlier Jesus had stated “I AM the Bread of Life.” The way He structured these sentences indicates that He was clearly claiming to be THE I AM, that He was claiming to be God. Since the timing of this statement was still at the Feast of Booths, the people would have definitely recognized this as a messianic claim since the following passage was read during the Feast:

 

Zechariah 14:5b-8 (MSG) Then my God will arrive and all the holy angels with him. What a Day that will be! No more cold nights—in fact, no more nights! The Day is coming—the timing is God’s—when it will be continuous day. Every evening will be a fresh morning. What a Day that will be! Fresh flowing rivers out of Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea, half to the western sea, flowing year-round, summer and winter!

 

The passage from Zechariah is a prophecy concerning the New Jerusalem. There will be no need for the natural luminaries (sun, moon, or stars) because God will be the only light source needed. Jesus was claiming to be THAT light. “Follows” in this passage can be defined as “to be in the same way with,” or in other words to be in unity with, in tune with. This would not be a half-hearted, person who followed out of curiosity, but one who had dedicated himself to following Jesus, the true believers. To this type of person, Jesus promised they would walk in light rather than darkness. Darkness is usually symbolic of evil and depravity. Light represents goodness, peace, joy, tranquility – all the things provided by a relationship with Jesus. The light of life is Jesus Himself because He is the only way to everlasting life. Meaningful, productive, purposeful life!

 

John 8:13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.”

 

That’s what they always say. Same old song and dance, and I can’t even dance! Previously as we studied in John chapter 5, Jesus had pointed out that He, His Father, the miracles, John the Baptist, and even Moses all bore witness that He was the Son of God! Yet here are the Pharisees once again saying His testimony is not true because there are not two witnesses. Actually, because it is not corroborated by the Pharisees.

 

John 8:14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

 

Jesus knew where His true home was, but they didn’t. And unless they came to know Him as the Truth, they would not understand that He had come from Heaven and was going back there. After all, these guys didn’t even have His earthly birthplace correct since they kept assuming He was from Nazareth in Galilee rather than Bethlehem of Judea. They didn’t have a clue!

 

John 8:15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.

 

The Pharisees were judging according to the outward, but the Lord judges according to the heart.

 

1 Samuel 16:7b For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

 

Jesus does not pass judgment based on the five senses. If He does make a judgment it is heavenly and revelatory. Christ will ultimately be the judge of all, but His judgment is unclouded because he knows all the facts. Since He and the Father are One, His judgment is perfect. Jesus and the Father judge together, so they are two witnesses as well as the perfect judge.

 

John 8:17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

 

As we have noted previously in our comments on John chapter 5, two witnesses were required to prove a person’s guilt or innocence. In this case, they wanted two witnesses to prove whether or not Jesus was telling the truth about Himself. Jesus is one witness and the Father is the other witness. If they worshiped the Father wholeheartedly they would be able to perceive that Jesus was the Son of God. The miracles He performed were also God’s witness on His behalf. The miraculous healings He performed could be authenticated by the people who received them, and the Pharisees had interviewed some of those who experienced healing but refused to accept their testimony. We will see another example of that in John chapter 9, so stick with us.

 

John 8:19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?”

 

Once again, the Pharisees were thinking in fleshly terms. You would think they would have a clue about spiritual things since they were the religious leaders of Israel, but it appeared they had none. They were wanting Jesus to produce an earthly Father. They still did not understand that He was speaking about God.

 

John 8:19b Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

 

Jesus was pointing out that the Pharisees had no relationship with Him or His Father. If they trusted in Jesus, they would have had the light to see that His Father was God, Yahweh. And had they truly known Yahweh, they would have recognized His Son! There was an obvious family resemblance, after all! They were so busy trying to force everyone to follow traditions that they did not focus on knowing the Lord God. They were trying to squeeze people into the mold of liturgical conformity rather than teaching the people to have a relationship with God as their Father. They missed the fantastic message that Jesus had come to make an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe possible for sinful men and women!

 

John 8:20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

 

Jesus was speaking boldly in the enemies’ camp, yet was not arrested. He was in the territory of the Pharisees, claiming to be God which they thought was blasphemy because they did not believe Him, but they left Him alone. His time had not yet come. Where have we heard that statement before? Repetition highlights importance, and John reminds us over and over that God sovereignly protected Jesus because “His time had not yet come.”

 

Q – Have you ever heard the Hank Williams song, “I Saw the Light?” Jesus is the Light, and His Holy Spirit illumines the word of God that we might understand. Are you beginning to see things more clearly? If not, pray and ask the Lord to shed His light on the passage for you.

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 3 - Lesson 2

Posted on February 29, 2016 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

John 3:11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

 

The MacArthur Bible Commentary:

John 3:11-12 “Jesus focused on the idea that unbelief is the cause of ignorance. At heart, Nicodemus’ failure to understand Jesus’ words centered not so much in his intellect, but in his failure to believe Jesus’ witness.”


As we have stated before, Nicodemus is trying to analyze everything intellectually rather than just believing Jesus at face value. He was missing the faith factor. For example: I am fully convinced that Jesus is our healer in every sense of the word, but healing of my cerebral palsy has not been physically manifested in my body. However, I know that I have been healed in the most important manner, the healing of my heart. I have faith that I will be completely, physically healed when I am with the Lord if not before. What an exciting day that will be! However, I am blessed and privileged beyond measure that every day that I wake up I have the honor and pleasure of being the Lord’s mouthpiece to share His word and truth around the world. Jesus was explaining that “birth from above” was transacted by God’s grace through faith and was not something to be achieved by man’s own power. Self-effort will not and cannot get you to Heaven, in God’s presence eternally. No matter how hard I might try, I cannot in my own strength be good enough to merit a relationship with the perfect, almighty God.

 

 

John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

 

Jesus is the One sent from God to provide the way for us to enter Heaven. He is the only one who was in Heaven and came down to earth to reveal truth to us. Paul stated that man was not permitted to speak of such things when recording his vision of being caught up into Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). After Jesus ascended back to Heaven, the Apostle John was allowed to write the Revelation given to him of Heaven, but this was after the time that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus. Of course, one has to be listening with ears of faith to understand that Jesus is the Son of God and also the Son of Man.

 

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

 

Reformation Study Bible

3:14 Moses. Num. 21:4–9 records the story of the rebellious Israelites, who murmured and complained. God sent fiery serpents into their midst to punish them. Then God told Moses to put a bronze serpent on a pole, with the promise that whoever looked at it would live.

 

must . . . be lifted up. Here is a key term in this Gospel (8:28; 12:32, 34) which carries the double meaning of crucifixion and exaltation. Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection, and His glorification together reveal the glory of God. The word “must” points to God’s sovereign purpose. The crucifixion was the keystone of God’s eternal plan to save His people (Acts 4:27, 28.)

 

Jesus’ crucifixion was not some cosmic tragedy but was God’s plan for salvation all along. When Jesus says He must be “lifted up,” the phrase has a layered meaning. It refers to Jesus’ ultimate suffering of being displayed naked on the cross for all to see, the worst humiliation for a Jew since Deuteronomy 21:23 says that one who is hanged on a tree is “accursed of God.” The second layer of the term “lifted up” is that Jesus must be exalted. He must be recognized as fully equal with God and given all the glory due Him.

 

Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language:

EXALT'ED, pp. Raised to a lofty height; elevated; honored with office or rank; extolled; magnified; refined; dignified; sublime.

 

Philippians 2:8-11 (ESV) 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Now for the verse you memorized in Sunday School when you were a wee lass or lad. That is, if you lived in Scotland. My heritage is coming out.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


Let’s take a look at this extremely familiar verse (probably the one most likely to be committed to memory) in the Amplified version:

 

John 3:16 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

 

The world in this instance means all kinds of people in the world, Jews and Gentiles, from all over the world, living under the fallen “world system.” In other words, sinners of all kinds. God gave His “only begotten Son.” We as Christians are adopted into God’s family, but Jesus was actually God’s Son born of the virgin Mary, conceived in her by the Holy Spirit. Believing in Jesus is much more than intellectually acknowledging His existence. It is a complete understanding that we must lean into, depend upon, Jesus for all that we are, all that we have, and all that we ever will be. It is a total surrender of our lives to His care by faith that He is the only way to the Father as we will see Him clarify in John chapter 14.

 

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Jesus is the source and sustainer of our lives both now and forever when we trust in Him.

 

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

Reformation Study Bible:

Jesus comes into a world that is already condemned because of its rejection of God’s self-revelation (Rom. 1:18–32).

 

Jesus did not come to condemn the world because it was already condemned due to rejecting God’s revelation in nature and perpetually giving in to the sin nature within them. The point is that He came to bring them the only offer of salvation they would receive from God. Jesus’ purpose was not to condemn but to redeem. To redeem is to buy back as from slavery. We were slaves to sin. The price of our redemption was His death on the cross. God was willing to give His pride and joy to redeem those unworthy of His love in order to adopt them into His forever family to enjoy His presence eternally. Believing in the saving power of Jesus transforms us from hopeless sinners into precious saints, something we could never do on our own.

 

John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

 

According to Webster, one definition of verdict is “Decision; judgment; opinion pronounced; as, to be condemned by the verdict of the public.” We love to think of Jesus as the One who saves the world, but He is also the only one qualified to pronounce a verdict on its sin since He Himself was sinless. Jesus is the One who shines a light on the true motives of people. He did not come to actively condemn people because they had already condemned themselves due to their unbelief and actions. He puts a spotlight on our hearts which will enable those who believe to see their true condition and their need of Jesus to rescue them from it. Those who do not believe and trust in the saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross in their place fear self-disclosure and especially the exposure of the Light of Christ. In contrast, those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus, have no reason to fear because Jesus has paid the price in full for their wrongdoing. Substitutionary atonement is a big word for Jesus died in their place to pay their debt. When God looks at those of us who believe, He does not see our thick file of bad stuff, but instead sees the righteousness of His Son.

 

Philippians 3:9 (NIV) …and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

 

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

 

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” This old hymn says it well. Jesus is the only One who can enable us to stand in the light without fear.

 

Q – Does the Light of Jesus make you feel naked and exposed? Jesus died literally naked on the cross to save you from the wrath of God and remove that guilt and shame from you. Have you accepted His free gift of salvation? If so, you are covered in His righteousness and enabled by Him to turn from sin to an intimate relationship with the God who created everything!

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 1 - Lesson 3

Posted on February 21, 2016 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

The Word (God’s Voice), Jesus, became flesh:

 

Luke 2:7 (ESV) “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

 

Jesus not only became flesh but came in the form of an embryo, being born of the virgin Mary who was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. He fully identified with mankind by even going through the birth experience rather than just materializing as King which was well within His power. The Apostle John writes that He dwelt among us. The disciples lived with Jesus every day. Jesus was fully human with all the needs that entails. He ran on food, water, and sleep like the rest of us; but He was still fully divine.


John was with James and Peter when Jesus was transfigured before them on the mountain.

 

Matthew 17:2 (ESV) “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”


They not only saw Jesus’ humanity clear and present, but they also saw His undeniable divinity. God then told these three disciples that this was His Son and commanded them to listen to Him.


According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, grace can mean “the divine influence upon the heart, and it’s the reflection in the life.” The disciples saw the grace that Jesus offered all who would believe on Him; transformative power to become what God intended them to be.

 

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

 

John observed that Jesus was full of truth. In fact, according to Jesus Himself, He is THE TRUTH:

 

John 14:6 (NIV) “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

We will study this in more depth later. Stay tuned: more layers of understanding are coming!

 

John 1:15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”


Elizabeth gave birth to John before Mary gave birth to Jesus (see Luke chapter 1 again). So John the Baptist was older than Jesus in His human expression. However, John the Baptist was correct in saying Jesus was before him because, as we have already seen, Jesus has always been. Technically, Jesus created John the Baptist if you think about it hard enough. In fact, He created His own mother Mary. True – but tilt, tilt, tilt! I love this line from the Michael Card song “The Mystery”:

“No fiction as fantastic and wild:

A mother made by her own child!”

As stated before, John the Baptist tried to make it clear that Jesus was above him in rank, more important than him. John the Baptist shouted that Jesus was who he had been preaching about all along. One of the things that John the Baptist preached was that he must decrease because the Lord Jesus must increase (see John 3:30).


Luke 3:16 (NASB) John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.


John the Baptist was faithful to fulfill his job as the trailblazer of the Messiah.

 

John 1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


Through Moses, the Law was given. The Law is the instruction manual and a reflection of one’s sin back to them. The need for a Messiah, the need for a Savior, the need for the sacrificial Lamb of God becomes evident as we realize we can NEVER fully uphold the Law. No one who could uphold the Law except Jesus, the God-Man.


Romans 3:10 (NASB) …as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one…

Romans 3:23 (NASB) …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

 

Because Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb and died in our place, He has the authority to extend grace to us, not only saving grace, but “grace upon grace.” This indicates a superabundant, fantastic eternal grace!

 

Romans 6:23 (NASB) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Ephesians 4:2-7 (VOICE) 4 But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, 5 united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. 6 He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 7 He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed.

 

This ability to be united with God is not accomplished by self-effort, will, good works, self-worth. It is only accomplished through the work of God’s abundant grace which is made available to us through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

 

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.


The Amplified Version of the Bible sheds some light on verse 18:

 

John 1:18 (AMP) “No one has seen God [His essence, His divine nature] at any time; the [One and] only begotten God [that is, the unique Son] who is in the intimate presence of the Father, He has explained Him [and interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the Father.]”

 

No human has seen God the father. In fact, He told Moses that it would kill him to see His face:

 

Exodus 33:18-20 (NASB) Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!


So Jesus was God with skin on, fully God and fully man in a human body. He was also the Voice of God and explained God’s nature to all who would listen. Through Jesus, we can understand God’s righteousness, justice, mercy, love, and grace. Jesus' presence reveals that God desires to be with His people – Emanuel, God with us. Even before Jesus, we see this desire in the Ark of the Covenant housed first in the traveling tabernacle and then in the temple. It was the symbol of God’s presence among the Jews. God calls those who trust Jesus to be His own “possession.”


1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;


Jesus is the Light who dispels the darkness of this world and reveals the marvelous life found in relationship with God.

 

Q – Has the Light shown a spotlight on your need for a Savior? Have you realized the depth of sin that creates distance between you and a completely perfect God? Trusting Jesus is the only way to bridge that gap.

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 1 - Lesson 2

Posted on February 20, 2016 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

John 1:6 (NIV) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.


Whenever we see the name “John” in this gospel, it is referring to John the Baptist since the Apostle John always referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The other gospels attach the descriptor “the Baptist” or “the Baptizer” in some translations. Through John the Baptist, God ceased His 400-year silence. The Jews had not had a prophetic word during that time. Now that Jesus was ready to begin His earthly ministry, someone needed to “prepare the way.” That someone was John the Baptist, who served as the forerunner to the Messiah. Even as an unborn baby, John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb when her relative Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came to visit (read Luke chapter 1). He was already a prophet in the womb even though he was not even able to speak. This makes a strong case that your purpose is woven within you even in your mother’s womb. The prophet Jeremiah was assured of this by the Lord Himself:

 

Jeremiah 1:4-5 (KJV) “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

 

We believe this makes a strong case against abortion!

 

John 1:7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

 

John the Baptist was to give testimony that Jesus was the Son of God. In the Old Testament, courts required the testimony of multiple witnesses. John the Baptist was the first of many who would stand as witnesses to the truth that Jesus is Lord. Remember that “the light” refers to Jesus Christ. It is made clear that John the Baptist himself was not the light. Many people of that day were confused and thought John the Baptist might be the Messiah; but, as we will see, he made every effort to correct this misconception.

 

John 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

 

God reveals Himself to everyone in a general way through creation.

 

Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

 

This general revelation is not enough to cause a person to trust in Jesus but is enough to cause a person to seek more information. God’s creation, all we see in the heavens and nature, is definitely enough that God can hold someone accountable for rejecting the truth that God exists. The complexity of a single cell is enough to point to “intelligent design” as scientists call it. Those who believe know the “intelligence” behind creation is the Lord God Almighty in the person of His Son Jesus. As the “true light,” Jesus would make the reality of God even more clear than creation could. Jesus would illuminate God for mankind by living as the perfect God-Man among us.

 

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

 

You do not have to look far to see that this world is in spiritual darkness. Crime, immorality, atheism, and agnosticism abound. The belief that the world somehow just came into being without a Creator is prevalent and taught even in schools which is preposterous if you just look at the complexity and intricacies of your own hand! How many bones, muscles, tendons, nerves, etc. does it take for me to type these words? Yet, when Jesus came into the world, they did not recognize Him as the Master Designer that He is.

 

The Jews had been anticipating the arrival of the Messiah for hundreds of years, but when He arrived they did not receive Him. They did not expect Him to be a servant-leader. Their expectations were for a military commander/king to stage a coup and overthrow Rome. The religious leaders of the Jews, rather than accepting Jesus, saw Him as the competition because He challenged their hypocrisy.

 

 

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

The Jews as a whole rejected Jesus, but a remnant, a choice few, believed. To these, Jesus granted the authority to be adopted as the children of God, into the familyship of God. When we accept salvation, we come into agreement with God’s will. God chose to give me new birth through the Holy Spirit. My response was to surrender to that fact, and by that power to repent of sin and follow Him in obedience.

 

1 John 4:19 (NASB) “We love, because He first loved us.”

 

John 6:44 (NASB) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

 

Q – Do you see the reality of God in His creation? Has the Light revealed Himself to you in a more specific way? Have you responded to that revelation by surrendering your life to Jesus for Him to have His way?

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 1 - Lesson 1

Posted on February 19, 2016 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

John 1 (ESV) 1 In the beginning was the Word3056, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.


3056 – lŏgŏs – from 3004: something said (incl. the thought), by impl. A topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extens. A computation: spec. (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ): - account, cause, communication, x concerning, doctrine, fame, x have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say (-ing), shew, speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible


The term logos was familiar to both Jews and Greeks and therefore would resonate with both cultures. According to the John MacArthur Study Bible, the Greeks used the term as “signifying the rational principle of ‘divine reason,’ ‘mind,’ or even ‘wisdom.’” For the Jews, creation occurred due to God’s spoken word. John specifically used it to refer to the person of Jesus Christ. The Voice Bible translates the word logos as “The Voice.” Jesus was God’s Voice on the earth.

 

Hebrews 11:3 (ESV) “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

 

By stating that the Word was with God in the beginning, John was asserting that the pre-incarnate Jesus existed with God the Father prior to the creation of the world. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have ALL always been. Jesus was not created BY God; He IS God. The Word, Jesus, was with God and WAS God. The Trinity is such a difficult concept for our minds to grasp, the idea that three distinct persons can be one God. I’ve seen several analogies but none of them fully explain it (the egg, the apple, water-steam-ice for example). Even though the word trinity does not appear in the Bible, the fact that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is clearly expressed in many passages such as Matt. 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14, Eph. 4:4-7, and Jude 20-21.


John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.


From the cosmos to the seas, from mankind to fleas, Jesus created it all, even the amoebas! This is expressed elsewhere in the Bible as well:


Colossians 1:16-17 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”


Hebrews 1:2 “…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”


As a child, I always thought of God the Father as the creator. You know, the elderly gentleman with the white beard. Maybe I had Him confused with Charlton Heston’s portrayal of Moses. But Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus, the Son, was the one through whom the world came into being. Even as Jesus created the world, He and the Father already knew that He would become the sacrifice for His created ones. In God’s economy it was considered “done” at that moment even though it did not happen in “time” until centuries later.


Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

 

Q – Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus and the Father created us even though they knew we would rebel?

 

John 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


Just had to check this one out in the Amplified Version:


John 1:4-5 (AMP) In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].


Jesus was life in Himself. Life was not given to Him but instead emanated from Him. The idea of Jesus being Life and Light is a recurring theme in the book of John. Watch for it in the weeks to come. The footnotes in the Amplified Version define “darkness” as “the world immersed in sin: all that stands in opposition to God and biblical truth.” The darkness cannot overwhelm the Light. If you light a single candle in a darkened room, the darkness does not hide the candle. The darkness cannot overpower or overtake the Light. Some days it seems this world is out of control and all is doom and gloom. But Susan and I have read the end of the story, and the Light WILL triumph. Take heart, the Light of the World, Jesus, cannot and will not be extinguished.

 

Q – In what or whom do you trust? Are you trusting in the only true source of light in a darkened world?