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|Posted on October 7, 2016 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
Session 6 – 1 Peter 3:21-23 – Always Ready – Day 5
1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God saved Noah through the flood by enclosing he and his family in the ark. The flood washed away the evil of the world, but the water is not what saved Noah. Does the act of believer’s baptism have any power to save us? No, being immersed does not save us. It is a symbol, a witness, and a reminder of what Jesus accomplished through the work of the cross, his resurrection, and taking His royal seat at the right hand of the Father. When we are baptized, we are identifying with the death of Jesus and the death of sin’s power over us, a cleansing of our inward nature rather than our outward body. Coming up out of the water signifies the new birth, the ability to walk with Jesus rather than be enslaved by sin. In other words, we come out from under the dominance of Satan into the empowerment of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. All of this happened the moment we surrendered to Jesus, but baptism is an important step in obedience as our first public witness to these truths. We show the world in a picture that we have died to ourselves and become children of the Lord.
Romans 6:4 (CJB) Through immersion into his death we were buried with him; so that just as, through the glory of the Father, the Messiah was raised from the dead, likewise we too might live a new life.
1 Peter 3:22 Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.
Jesus the Son is God the Father’s right-hand man. Jesus, the Creator, is also the Ruler, Judge, and Sustainer of His creation.
Hebrews 1:3 (NIV) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Ephesians 1:20-23 (KJV) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
How is the power Jesus now has since His resurrection and return to the throne a comfort to us? First of all, Jesus fulfilled His earthly purpose as our sacrifice, the complete, forever sacrifice for our sin. Secondly, we comforted because He is seated beside the Father interceding for us and giving a defense to dismantle the accusations of the Enemy against His bride, His church, His forever family. Thirdly, nothing can steal us away from Jesus because He has the ultimate power and authority to keep us. Satan likes to make us think he can take us down, but he is really full of hot air. We look forward to the day when Satan’s bubble will be burst and he will be cast into the lake of fire forever.
Chew on this: Each time you view a baptism, let it remind you of all that Jesus has done for you as a believer. Be prepared to explain the rite of baptism to someone unfamiliar with its symbolism. It may just be a jumping off point for sharing Jesus with that person!
|Posted on August 28, 2016 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
Session 1 – 1 Peter 1 – A Living Hope – Day 3
1 Peter 1:1 (HCSB) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:
Define “apostle,” please. Apostle can mean messenger, but in this instance it refers to someone Jesus personally called and commissioned during His ministry on earth, who saw the resurrected Jesus in the flesh. This consisted of the eleven (twelve minus Judas), Matthias who was the one God chose to replace Judas (Acts 1:26), and Paul who was selected by Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6). Peter was one of the original twelve and had been teaching and leading (feeding and shepherding – John 21) the early church for at least 30 years.
1 Peter 1:1b To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.
In the introduction to 1 Peter, we explained that these Christians were scattered due to the persecution during the Emperor Nero’s vicious reign. Did this dispersion of His people catch God by surprise? Of course not! It was all in the plan to spread the gospel far and wide. Peter was writing to Christians as they were chosen according the foreknowledge of God. Scripture teaches that we were chosen by God from the beginning of the world (Ephesians 1:3-4). They were also “set apart by the Spirit.” I understand the obedience part of their calling. What does it mean that they were set apart for the “sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ”? They were chosen by God to be anointed with the blood of Christ, not literally, but symbolically as Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, His blood, is what cleanses us and enables us to walk in obedience with Him. Without His sacrifice, His death in our place, we would never be fit to serve a Holy God.
1 Peter 2b May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
I thought Peter just told us this was written to people who had to flee because of persecution. How does he expect them to have peace? Is he just expressing wishful thinking? The grace that Peter is talking about is the grace of God as defined in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:
Charis – graciousness of manner or act, especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace, joy, liberality, pleasure, thank, thanks-worthy
So, grace is the work of God in saving us unto good works, a work we could not accomplish by our own effort (Ephesian 2:8-10). Now let’s tackle peace. Peace comes from knowing God and knowing that God knows you (relationship), has forgiven you, and nothing can touch you unless God has allowed it. As my mom’s sweet CNA, Monica (who had many struggles) used to say, “Whatever my sovereign Lord God has ordained, He will give me the strength to endure victoriously.” Peace in the midst of the storm. Not the absence of trouble, but the ability to remain confidently calm during the trouble. The reason we can look at situations with unshakeable assurance is because Jesus has done everything He said He would do. He not only rose from the dead but ascended back to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to reside in believers as He promised. He stated that He was going to prepare a place where we would one day live with Him forever (John 14). Therefore, like these early believers we have a “living hope.” We live in anticipation of a future that is certain and secure. Jeremiah 29:11 spoke of God’s future plans for Israel, and we know He has fantastic plans for those Gentiles He has grafted into the Vine – Jesus.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
In His statement of praise to God, Peter also affirmed the deity of Jesus by referring to God as His Father, addressing Jesus as “Lord” and “Anointed One” meaning Messiah. The Father showed enormous mercy toward us in sending Jesus to take our place, dying the death we deserved for our sin and disobedience to God. Reflect back with us to John 3:3 when Jesus told Nicodemus he must be “born again.” Then in John 3:16, He explained that this new birth is gained by believing that God sent His Son to die in our place that we might live eternally. Because Christ raised from the dead, our living Savior (our Hope) conquered death and the grave. Therefore, those who believe have confidence that Jesus is only the first of many to be raised to eternal life. In believing, we are made new immediately, but we also have the living hope that we will someday be perfect and holy and at home forever with Jesus. The place Jesus is preparing for us (John 14) cannot be spoiled, keeps out all evil, has a continual heavenly glow emanating from Jesus Himself, and is waiting for our arrival.
Chew on this: Look up other references to the kind of peace available to Christians. You can start with Philippians 4:6-7. Use your concordance or www.BibleGateway.com to find others. Praise the Lord for His grace, peace, and the heavenly dwelling He is making ready for you.
|Posted on February 27, 2016 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
John chapter 3 is both apologetic and evangelistic. In it, John proclaims and defends the deity of Christ, that He is the Son of God. He also clearly presents the way of salvation through God’s gift of His only begotten Son. The story of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus continues the theme at the end of chapter two that Jesus can see into the hearts of men.
John 3:1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.
The Pharisees were Jewish “Puritans” who meticulously observed the letter of the Mosaic law along with a host of traditions they had added to it. However, they often missed the heart, the spiritual intention, of the Law. Jesus called them out on this:
Matthew 23:23 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
According to the MacArthur Bible Commentary the Pharisees were comprised of mostly middle-class businessmen rather than priests and Levites. I had always pictured them as rich men. The common people revered them because their outward appearance seemed to indicate they were devout. However, Jesus at one point described them as “whitewashed tombs.” OUCH!
Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
Nicodemus was not only a Pharisee but a “ruler of the Jews” which means he was a member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was comprised of the High Priest, the chief priests, the elders, and some scribes for a total of seventy-one people. Nicodemus must have been an elder, head of a family since he was neither a priest nor a Scribe. The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews in Palestine, but they had to defer to the Roman authority in matters of capital punishment which we will see later as Jesus is brought before Pilate, the Procurator. Nicodemus was a member of this prestigious group.
John 3:2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Nicodemus approached Jesus under the umbrella of darkness because he did not want any of the other Pharisees to know of his inquiry of Jesus. Nicodemus must have been talking about Jesus to other Pharisees whether they were willing to admit it or not because he says, “We know that you are a teacher who has come from God.” He acknowledges that the power to perform the miracles Jesus had done must have come from God. Yet, at this time, he still could not bring himself to admit that Jesus could be God’s Son. As we will see later, most of the Pharisees did not even give Jesus a chance. But Nicodemus wanted to look into His eyes, talk with Him face to face, and see exactly what He was about. You know the honesty or deceit of a man by looking into His eyes.
John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Jesus’ statement about being born again was shocking because Nicodemus would have been confident he would see the kingdom of God because of his righteousness in adhering to the Law and his Jewish lineage. Jesus was saying this heritage and personal righteousness was not enough. The other reason it is hard for Nicodemus to digest is that he is taking it literally! Because he did take it literally, it made his brain go tilt, tilt, tilt!
John 3:4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Nicodemus pictures a grown man somehow going back into the womb to be “born again.” As we will see, this is not what Jesus meant at all. The phrase “born again” can literally be translated “born from above.” Jesus endeavors to explain this distinction in the next few verses.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Since Nicodemus is obviously thinking of natural, physical birth, Jesus contrasts this with spiritual rebirth. He compares the Spirit with the wind. We do not see the wind, but we feel and see its effects. So Jesus is declaring to Nicodemus that he must receive transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not see the actual transaction of the Holy Spirit entering a life, but like the wind, we see the effect this has on the person’s attitudes and behaviors. We see the fruit of the Spirit in a consecrated life. Jesus is explaining that our own self-righteousness can never be good enough. We must be transformed by the power of the Lord through faith in order to approach a Holy God.
John 3:9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
Old Nicodemus still doesn’t get it. Even though he now knows it is not a second physical birth, he still cannot figure out how this new birth transpires. Where he goes wrong is trying to reason everything out. It is all an intellectual process for him. He is not using eyes of faith. Of course, I guess we should cut Nick some slack since Jesus had not yet died and been resurrected. His wheelhouse is dissecting the Law for proper interpretation, but he misses the core of the Law which is love for God and people. The Pharisees sat in judgment upon the people but did nothing to lift them up.
Luke 11:46 (NIV) Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
John 3:10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
Nicodemus was a teacher of teachers. He was a respected authority among the Jews. The Pharisees were so focused on the external obedience they could not see the need for inward transformation. If you do not know the reason for the ritual, it is of no effect. The rituals of the Jews should have been an act of obedience based on their relationship to God, not an occasion to say, “I’m holier than you.” I am reminded of a song that was instrumental in my realizing I was a “good girl” but did not know Jesus at all. The lyric was “Empty eyes stare from empty sockets; frozen lips form frozen words. Masks that hide faceless people, acting roles with lines unheard. Row on row we march in order, mouthing hymns and reading prayers.” Pharisees demonstrated all the outward appearance of serving the Lord but needed an operation of the heart that only the Holy Spirit could perform. The Apostle Paul explained this quite well:
Romans 2:29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Q – Has God revealed a need for inward change in your own life? Have you been checking off all the expected boxes for “Christian” behavior rather than submitting to having the Holy Spirit change your heart? In tomorrow’s lesson, Jesus will explain to Nicodemus exactly how this change occurs.