Monday, December 28, 2015


Jesus is gone.  10 days after ascension = Pentecost - beginning of the church.
Acts 3:1-26 - shortly after Pentecost - these are Jews - still following the Jewish ways, even though are now followers of Christ.  Lame man - leaping because he had never walked before.

Peter's Message = "Repent!!"  - turn to God

Note:  last week = John the Baptist.  Message = "Repent!"
Before that - Acts 2 - "Repent!"
Primary message of the Old Testament prophets = "Repent!"

All these messages were to God's own people - believers in God.

Question:  Why so prevalent?  Recurring?  Answer:  because so important (necessary to God's plan/intent for us)

Definition of repent = turn or return.
includes:  turning from (sin/s)
              turning to (God/'liness)
Don't have the full gospel message if doesn't include "repent"

Note:  message often - "Repent AND be Baptized" - Acts 2:38 - John the Baptist
Because  #1 to Repent and turn = show of faith
BUT #2 - Baptized = public declaration of that faith.  (formal/public act)

Why Repent?  -  2 Basic reasons:
         I)  to AVOID DISASTER (detriment/destruction)
        II)  to ENCOUNTER BLESSING (benefits)

Note:  this = true both Along the way - (life)
          and in the End (death)

Acts 3:19 -"Repent then and turn to God so that...."

#1.  Your sins may be wiped out" - (erased, forgiven)
**This does NOT eradicate sinful behavior, does correct your sinful standing!!
Contrast:  Positional & Practical Righteousness

#2.  Your relationship be set right (with God)
positional rightness? - Rom. 8:15-17 - Spirit of sonship

#3.  Blessings may ensue (follow0 (result)  Acts 3:26
 Example:  Mal. 4:5-6
NOTE:  "blessing" does NOT mean carefree/pain free/trouble free Life!!
               Blessing = His Presence and favor in spite of  and in the midst of
Example:  Paul's thorn in the flesh
There is no promise that blessings will be what you want!

#1.  Sinful behavior cannot result in blessing  (cannot achieve good by doing bad) - example:  Adam and Eve.
#2.  Short term experience may suggest otherwise, BUT results should be measured long-term.
Example:  there may be short term highs and exciting times, etc, but always going downward.
 #3.  (repeat) destruction or blessing is true both along the way life) and in the end. death)
From Moses:  Deut. 30:15, 19  - choose life that you and your children might live.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

John the Baptist - Herald of the Visitation

Luke 1:1-25, 57-80
Luke 1:1-4 = this is eye witness stuff.  5 - 25 - Zechariah was of the priestly order of Aaron.  Due to the number of priests that served, a priest was chosen by lot to burn incense on the incense altar.  He could expect this to happen only once in his lifetime.  This was Zechariah's time.
Vs. 57-80 - John fulfilled the last prophecies in the last verses of the last book of the Old Testament.  There had been 400 years pass since those prophecies were given.

John's role - preparing the people for a Visitation of God
ie:  a coming ...... stop in, drop by, show up, make an appearance, etc.

God's Visitation includes:
1)  Incarnation
2)  Return
But also =
3)   Any time God drops in

4 Divisions of Visitation

#1.  Corporate Visitation - (He comes to Israel/to Us)
#2.  Individual Visitation - Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph
#3.  Initial Visitation - drawing for salvation
#4.  Subsequent visitation - Note:  John's audience = mostly believers already!!!

John's Message (sermon) on Preparing 'self for Messiah's Visitation:
I.  Repent
II.  Prepare
III.  Produce

I.  Repent = turn around, about
Elements of Repentance:
A)   recognition of your sin(s)
B)  Contrition = sorrow for sin(s)
C.  Conversion = turning around - no salvation without conversion

NOTE:  1).  Initial repentance  (drawing for salvation)
             2).  subsequent Repentance = recognize, readjust, return - Note:  Johns audience were believers.
We have to re-recognize sins.

II.  Prepare  usually refers to "heart" - sensitivity, openness - which = wide range!!
So, Boil down to:  PRE-SUBMISSION   ie:  submission Prior to Visitation - Example:  Mary - chosen because she had pre-submitted.  "behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Observation: = those with prepared hearts are 1st. to recognize and accept Messiah.
If we can stay in a state of submission to Him, then are ready for visitation.

III.  Produce - Matt. 3:8   (roughly a third of John's message)
Fruit = outward evidence  - actions are reflection of the heart that matches the profession
Call = produce evidence PRIOR to and in anticipation of His Visit!!!  (examples:  Parables of Master's Return)  - never know when it will happen

Point:  #1.  He will Visit
          #2.  the Visit will Not be neutral!!
The result will be either - A)  Blessing (mercy, goodness)
                OR                 B)  Judgment

What we NEED:
Personal Evaluation - Is heart really prepared???

Monday, December 14, 2015

The First Church

Pentecost - when all signs and wonders by the apostles took place, Peter's message, verification of the gifts of the Spirit.   People heard, and believed and the first church was born.
Acts 2:40-45 - not communal living, but sharing of goods, etc.  Was not commanded, just did it
Acts 4:32, 34-35
Acts 2:46-47 - the new church (gathering) of believers

the early church did NOT get all things right.  Example:  church at Corinth - 1st. Corinthians is 15 chapters about stuff they were doing wrong.
However, the above passage = commendation (here God was approving of what was going on by signs),


Here's What They Got Right!

"They devoted themselves" - Acts 2:42 - dedicated, committed, applies themselves
Means:  A)  EFFORT (put work into it)  and B)  SELF-DISCIPLINE
Devotion underlies it all!

They devoted themselves to:
        A)  The Apostles' teaching (doctrine)
Why???  a)  they were with Jesus from the beginning
              b)  they were chosen and appointed BY Christ!
This = fundamental - always been recognized and built on by the church orthodox.

       B)  THE Fellowship - the brotherhood, fraternity, community - the group, the body
And so devoted themselves to - a)  gathering (we need each other) - Heb. 10:25 - not commanded, just did it.
                                                 b) the atmosphere at the gathering (Koininia) feel welcome
                                                 c)  the well-being of the body (sharing) - local and universal body

      C)  The Breaking of Bread - Lord's Supper?  Agape Meal?  Christian Meal?
Either way = gathering, fellowship, corporate worship

      D)  The Prayers - ie:  to the Act and Action of praying

      E)  Concern for One Another - *generosity, sharing) - not explicit in text but implied as result of the others.

 CONSEQUENCES  (results)
#1.  Dramatic activity of the Holy Spirit - many signs, many miracles, many wonders by the apostles attributed to God,
#2.  Everyone, not just the Christians, was filled with awe.
#3.  The Lord added daily those being saved
#4.  They enjoyed the favor of all the people

Wow!!!  Church as it should be!!!!   Yes....... BUT:

#1.  The miracles wane (thru Acts and Epistles) - constant lessening of miracles
#2.  Favor with the people becomes tension and persecution
#2.  Even their generosity causes problems.  Acts 6:1  2 Thess. 3:11-12

So, As we strive for what we should be, let us also recognize ...

I.  God, the Holy Spirit, is Sovereign.
On one hand, we can create an environment that is "Spirit-friendly"
On the other hand, we cannot assume or manipulate His work(s)
God is Sovereign - the LORD added daily.

II.  It requires more devotion to maintain a church than to establish a church 
Compare to marriage:  fresh, exciting, fulfilling, no baggage

III.  A church will never be any better (or any worse) than its members.
A ____________ church is made of _____________ people.

Whether the Spirit moves in a mighty way is God's business.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Points for Us from Peter's Sermon

Lead up:  Acts 1:1-9, 12, 13 - "I" = Luke - vs. 4 - important to today's text.
Three signs:  wind = audible, tongues of fire = visible, unknown languages = audible.  These three always recognized by the Jews as manifestation of God's presence.  That it happened here = validation of the messengers

Text:  Acts 2:1-24, 32-33, 36-41 - 10 days later - Pentecost = very Holy day - to celebrate giving of the Law, etc.  Note:  Acts 2:36-41 - apostles didn't have to give the invitation, the people did!


I.)  Acts 2:36 - God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ

ie:  A.  God conferred the titles of Lord and Christ on Jesus - (not the apostles, church, tradition)
     B.  God confirmed the message - Rom. 1:4

IF Peter is wrong?  then what?
BUT, IF Peter is right?! - then  #1 - Christ IS the way to God
                                                #2 - Christianity is the way to live! - the Bible - His instructions to us.

II.)  Acts. 2:36 - This promise is for you and your children. - not just for the apostles and first century people.
ie:  Promise of:  A)  forgiveness, reconciliation, salvation
and,                  B)  the Holy Spirit - "with you".....  Regardless of sensation(s)!!!
1 Kings 19:9-13 - illustration:  Elijah on Mt. Horeb - God spoke in a still, small voice!

III)  Acts. 2:38 - Repent and Be Baptized
Question:  what if haven't been "called"?  (Acts 2:39)
But if have been called....
      A)  Repent = turn and begin to walk the other way
      B)  be baptized = show - death, burial, resurrection - public declaration
     C) - in the name of Jesus Christ = identify with person of Jesus

(unbelievers scoff, ridicule .... believers REPENT!!)

IV.  Acts 2:40 - Save Yourself
On one hand, (obviously) can't procure, secure your own salvation
However, you CAN accept the salvation offered  (example:  life boat)
*Note:  (vs. 40) - "from  this _________ generation"
King James Version reads 'untoward' - ie:  not inclined to go the right way.
Who are you going to believe? follow? run with? buddy up to?
The influences are legion to lead us the wrong way.

Conclusion??   Acts 2:41 - "those who accepted were...."
       #1.  Baptized - (identified with Christ)
       #2.  Added to ..... (associated with a church....) = people of God.  Are NO Lone Ranger Christians.    

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Questions to Ponder

This morning, Nov. 22nd., 7 of the men each took one of the following questions, and tried to answer it as best he could.  A lot of good points and thoughts were presented. 

Here is the list for you to ponder during this season (and all year long):

#1.  What if God gave me only what I deserved?

#2.  What if I woke up today with only the things that I thanked God for yesterday?

#3.  If I am so blessed, why do I complain so much?

#4.  Why are we hesitant to thank Him publicly?

#5.  What would change in my life if I gave thanks as often as I complained?

#6.  Explain the difference in being thankful (an inward attitude) and in giving thanks (an outward action).

#7.  What could I do to better show (demonstrate) my thankfulness to God?

No additional message needed. 

Growth of the Church/Expansion of the Faith

Continuation of the story in John

Luke 1:1-4 - similar account written by Luke - not an eyewitness but knew many of the eyewitnesses.  This account not just hearsay.
Theophilis - "loved by God" - probably non-Jew and was a seeker after the one true God.
Acts 1:1-7 - Luke's sequel to his book.
Deut. 29:29
Acts 1:8 - "martus" - testifiers.  Where we get the word martyr - took on current meaning because eventually as people continued to testify about Christ, many were persecuted and put to death for it.
Acts 1:9-14 - Jesus' brothers - became believers after the resurrection

At Acts 1:1 - how many people were Christians??  (some estimates = 20?,  some as high as 120?)
So, let's go with 60.
Estimated 60 million people in the Roman Empire at this time.
So, 1 of 1,000,000 would be Christian.

By AD312 -(Constantine, Roman emperor, converted and endorsed Christianity.)
estimated 5% of the empire were Christians (3 million)
So.... 1 of 20 would be Christian (in the Roman empire, not in the world)

By the end of the 4th. Century, was estimated that there were 30 million Christians in the empire.  So... 1 of 2 people would be Christian - again in the empire, not in the world.


Some factors:

These 60 (+ their converts, followers) had -

#1.  FAITH - in Christ and the words of Christ - confidence (contemporary word)   Heb. 11:1 -  hope = clear, confident expectation.  everybody lives by faith in something!

#2.  FELLOWSHIP - called "church" - local and universal.  Church = called out gathering of people.  Had nothing to do with religion at this time.  Spreading the gospel not a "lone ranger" thing.  Need team support.

#3.  A MISSION - a GREAT Commission - Matt. 28:18-20,  Acts 1:8
Wherever they went.  Carried it all over.

#4.  A MESSAGE - "the Gospel" - on a mission with a clear message

#5.  the PRESENCE of the RISEN CHRIST - (Holy Spirit)
Matt. 28:20 - ..."and surely I am with you..."
Question:  what's changed?  - Answer:  this stuff HASN'T changed. 

Note:  Acts 1:1 - "began"     Acts. 28:31 - "without hindrance" - Paul was under house arrest, continually preaching, teaching, etc.  Believers had great freedom to share the gospel and witness about Christ.
THIS freedom to witness was about to change.  ie:  new Roman emperor - Nero, Rome burns AD 64 - he blames it on Christians, and enormous persecution breaks out.

BUT.. will ti stop the movement?  Momentum?  impetus?   mission?  NO.  Suddenly they didn't have the freedom, but kept right on doing what they were doing anyway.

Example:  today roughly 1 out of 3 persons in the world claim to be Christian.

Matt. 16:18

Questions:  Are you in?  Are you on board?  You can be a part of the movement.

Monday, November 16, 2015

P.S. Do You Love Me?

Luke 5:1-11 - in the beginning of ministry "fishers of men"
NOW - three years later - after the trial, denial, cross, resurrection, it's the story in Luke all over again.
John 21:1-25 = post script - John had completed his gospel with Chapter 20 - the last verse.  Then chapter 21 added.  Was not added to John's gospel years later as it is in the oldest found manuscripts. Has always been considered part of the scripture, so was most likely added immediately.  P.S. ........

Restoration of Peter:
When Jesus says, "Do you love me?", he uses the Greek word, 'agape' - self-sacrificing, intense, willful, highest form of love - God kind of love
When Peter answers, "You know I love you." he uses the Greek word 'phileo' - affection for, fondness = lesser form of love.
Note:  third time Jesus asks the question, He uses 'phileo' -came down a notch.  Peter doesn't own up to having that intense, chosen form of love.

APPLICATION:  (written for US!!)
Obviously = so you'll believe  - John 20:31
But also = that you'll follow and serve!! - Chapter 21

#1 = Forgiveness and Restoration are available to faulty servants!  (as Peter was, so are we).  Many times we say, "YOU are LORD", but I will DO as I please!!

Forgiveness and restoration  A)  Begins with confrontation, ie. His word, Spirit, our conscience, etc.
Note:  1 Cor. 11:31 - judge self, so don't come under judgment.

                                            B)  must be accepted and received. - Contrast Peter and Judas Iscariot
When we fail miserably, we have the choice to go back and seek restoration.

#2.  Devotion to Christ is demonstrated (partly) by tending His flock.  (identified, expressed)
      A.)  the definition - Christians only?  Mark 6:34 - we don't know who is a lamb of God, about to become a lamb, needs to become a lamb.
      B)  the demonstration = "Love Me?  Feed Mine!"
 On one hand, this is not the only expression of Love for Christ.  However, it IS an inseparable expression of love.   Love for Christ, Love for man.

#3.  The Primary Charge is "follow me".

The charge is  1.  Imperative --- a command!  DO IT!!
                      2.  Continual command -- present tense  "keep on, continue"
                      3.  Personal - "YOU......"

How long?  how far?   Isa. 6:11-12 - other example Jeremiah - don't expect any victories in following.

Simple definition:  Col. 2:6 - continue to live in Him.

John was written so that we might believe and have life, and then, follow and serve.

Monday, November 9, 2015

That You May Believe

John 20:19-22 - disciples had every reason to believe Romans would be after them as well.  Unnerved at Jesus' appearance.  Scars = testimony of debt paid.  No mention of other scars - so probably not on glorified, resurrected body.
Greek word "breath" here used no where else in New Testament. Imparted to disciples - spiritual life, eternal life.
However, used here:  Gen. 2:7 = physical life, soul life.

John 20:23 = troubling verse - but, we have clear teaching that ONLY GOD can forgive sins.  Seems to be telling disciples to go and tell people HOW sins could be forgiven.

Contrast:  the authority to forgive sins with the authority to declare forgiveness of sins. (tell how to obtain)
Translators = "what did John say".  Interpreters = what did John mean!

John 20:24-28 - Thomas - doubted - didn't have the advantage of seeing Jesus that first Sunday night.  This = one week later - BUT, he's still there - in essence Jesus said, 'stop not believing'.
His statement - "My Lord and my God" = very strong statement for a Jew who believed there was only ONE God.  Thomas spent 20 years in India and died there a martyr.

John 20:29-31 - has carried down for 20 centuries.

John's purpose in writing this gospel?

1)  that you (the reader) might come to believe

2) that (by believing) you might have life.

Objection!!  I have life or couldn't read this!!!
Answer:  this is not about biological life - John knew that when he was writing to his readers.
It is about spiritual/eternal life... the kind of life God designed and desires for you!!

A theme in John:
John 1:12-13 - new birth, John 3:3 - born again, John 3:16 - eternal life, John 6:35 - bread of life, John 10:10 - fullness of life, John 11:25-26 - will never die, John 14:6 - the way, the truth, and the life, John 17:1-3 - eternal life - knowing God and Jesus

Bookend John's Gospel:  John 1:1  and John 20:31

It is important:
#1.  THAT you believe
#2  WHAT you believe

Definition of belief, faith in Biblical context - CONTENT, ASSENT, TRUST - these necessary to Biblical faith

CONTENT -   Rom. 10:13-14 - must know what the gospel is about.
ASSENT = agreement - I know the content and agree with the content
TRUST = James 2:19 - no crossing over if don't trust.  Also very important what you trust in!!

Can't believe (Biblical sense) without a CAT!
Simple witnessing tool - helpful in today's thinking:  Content, Assent, Trust.

So:  it's important:  A.  that you believe
                             B.  what you believe
also important       C.  that you Share that belief!

John 20:21-23 - clear that Jesus is:
                                       Sending them  forth
                                       Authorizing them - be My spokesman
                                       Empowering them

Application for us?  = two things traditionally recognized and accepted:
On one hand, the Apostles held a special office and commission.
Nevertheless, ALL believers are expected to "go". -  not JUST apostles, missionaries, preachers, etc.

Because Christians took this responsibility, world has been changed tremendously.  Whether this will continue will depend on whether Christians continue to take on this commission.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Resurrection

The most central part of Christian doctrine.  

Setting:  Jesus is dead - on the cross

The Burial - Matt. 27:57-61 - Joseph of Arimethea - unused tomb probably very close by.  The women saw where He was laid.

The Guard - Matt. 27:62-66 - seal on stone.  Roman soldier posted as guard.  Anyone breaking the seal would face SEVERE punishment.

The Resurrection - John 20:1-20 - early Sunday morning.  The one Jesus loved = John (author of this book)
Cloth folded up, napkin folded separately at head - doesn't speak of "stolen".  Brothers = disciples.  He saw and believed - what? - most likely that the body was really gone as Mary had said. 

The Nature of the Resurrection
It was not just "back from the dead" or "alive again".  Was infinitely more than that.
It was #1 in a glorified body - no longer subject to age, disease, death
          #2 an eternal state - transformed AND perfected - will be this state forever!!

On one hand, resurrected body was clearly physical, BUT also capable of "de-materializing".
It was a continuity of the original, BUT not always recognizable
Luke 24:36-43          Resurrected body - "mystery"

The Message of the Resurrection
Again, was more than alive again, overcame death, glorified body!!!
The message is:  HE IS RISEN AND REIGNING!!!! 

The Importance of the Resurrection
(an abbreviated summary from 1 Cor. 15)
"if Christ has not been raised ..... your faith is useless"
 ie:  unfounded - ineffective for salvation, transformation, etc.  - foolish
Have no more reason to believe in a dead prophet than does anyone else to believe in their dead prophet.  No point in gathering together on Sunday morning if He didn't rise as the risen LORD!

The Significance, relevance of the Resurrection ... TO US!!

Because He Rose...... 

#1 - we can be sure of His identity - Rom. 1:4 - was declared to be the Son of God BY the resurrection.  Is very, very important - question still today is:  Who was this Jesus?
#2 - We can trust His teaching(s)
         on moral issues, on life/death questions - example:  John 14:6 - only way?  = only one reason to believe this because of the man who said it - the resurrected man.   The guy who said to do these things is the ONLY one who rose from the dead.
#3.  we can trust Him
These are more than the teachings of a dead prophet - He = ALIVE & INTERACTIVE (involved in our lives)
When you follow Jesus, He will never hurt you, will make you, develop you, and sometimes may be a lot of pain in this developing, but He will not HURT you!

Therefore - because He IS involved in our lives -
He confronts, corrects, comforts, encourages, leads, instructs, etc., through His Word, Spirit, PRESENCE

Resurrection also offers us:

#4.  Confidence to face death - with no fear - our own and others who are Christians

#5.  Great Expectations after death - "HOPE"
1 Cor. 15:20-26
1 John 3:2 - we will be like Him
#6.  Encouragement to persevere until death
1 Cor. 15:1-57 0 Resurrection - His and ours ....   NOTE:  1 Cor. 15:8 - "therefore stand firm"

Question:  Where do you stand in terms of Relevance?
Are you - 1) certain of His identity? have you acknowledged that? professed that?  followed in believers' baptism?

                2) trusting His Word(s)?
                3)  following Him?  (seek His Presence, voice, Spirit?)
                4)  confident in your salvation - AT death?   AFTER death? 
                5)  committed to service until then?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Access to the Father

Setting:  Jesus on the cross, been there 6 hours. 
John 19:28-37 - died evening of Passover - whole point of this passage - Jesus was DEAD!!!  Spear in side - blood and water - thought that his heart actually ruptured.  Fulfillment of OT prophecy
Ex. 12:46 - original Passover lamb - no bones broken
Zech. 12:10 - "the one that they pierced"

John 19:38 - Joseph of Arimethea, rich, devout, secret disciple, member of Sanhedrin but was not consenting to Jesus' death - takes Jesus' body - with Pilate's permission

Question:  What happened between Death and Resurrection????

Bookend views:
I)  He went to hell .....
     A) and suffered - Example Apostles' Creed - "He descended into hell" (place of the dead).   newer version:  "He descended to the dead" -
    B)  and preached - 1 Pet. 3:18-20

II)  He went to heaven..... Luke 23:43 - in Paradise
..and presented His sacrifice to God - Heb. 9:11-12,23-24

III)  He did both .... hell, then heaven

Fact is:  We don't know exactly WHAT took place those 3 days.

BUT - we DO KNOW something that took place this is very Relevant and Applicable to us:

ie:  by His death - JESUS PROCURED OUR ACCESS TO GOD  (gain/acquire/earn/secure)

Matt: 27:50-51 - " to bottom" - the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place

POINT:  The Way is Now Open!!!  - by the blood of Jesus
                        Heb. 10:19-20, 21-22
                        Rom. 5: 1-2

This Access is:  bought by Christ, secured by Him, available through Him

#1.  Unmerited  (unearned, undeserved)
       Eph. 2:8-9 - has nothing to do with our goodness
       Heb. 4:15-16 - 21st. century people have no concept of barriers to God's presence as in the temple, tabernacle.  1st. and 2nd. century Christians were VERY familiar with this concept.  AND, were amazed that they could now approach God on their own.  
However, we have NO right to approach God EXCEPT through Christ.

#2.  Equal to all
       Eph. 2:14, 17-18 - two are now one - Jews and Gentiles - both have access by one Spirit
       Gal. 3:28-29 - all are one in Christ - access equally the same for  everyone, BUT only through the true veil - Christ.

#3.  Available to all
BUT access secured, granted, guaranteed DOES NOT MEAN Appropriated!!!
      Heb. 4:16 - availability dies NOT assure it's done!
Note:  to enter with boldness, confidence DOES NOT mean with IMPUDENCE!!!!  He is GOD!!
Example:  disciples always addressed Jesus as:  "Lord, Master, Teacher, etc."  never by His name.  Always used title of reverence in recognition of who He was.

Application:  simple - HIS part is done!!!            
                                 Your part =
Decide and come -- initially (for salvation)
                            -- continually - entry is always the same again.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Crucifixion = method of execution under the Roman Empire.  Various types of crosses used, various means of attaching accused to the cross.  Many other means of execution used, but crucifixion was the worst of them all.  Prolonged suffering.  Was used as an example of what happens when laws weren't obeyed.
So, not a unique thing that Christ went through.  Thousands of people were executed this way.
Crucifixion was banned by Constantine in 300+ AD out of veneration of Christ - when he declared Christianity the state religion.

John 19:14-30

Various views of Christ's crucifixion:
1)  it didn't happen - this doesn't carry much weight today as it is historically proven to have happened
2)  they crucified a good man - not the Son of God, or deity in any form, but a good man
3)  they crucified a foolish man - he was deluded or deranged, or just trying to fool the people into believing he was the Son of God
4)  I don't know, don't care - the whole thing is irrelevant - most people never give it a thought.  Prevalent in the US today.

5) Christian view - John 1:1 - Word was God!  (crucifixion of God!!)

Christian Views:
#1.  He died for us - for our sin(s) - significant thing = death
       Bridge Illustration:  --> the Love of God
                                          the Justice of God -   just demands of a just God

#2.  His death was Pre-ordained (pre-determined, prophesied) - decided sometime in eternity past
                                    - necessary - Luke 24:25-27
                                    - voluntary - Jesus did not have to die for anybody

#3.  His death was a sacrifice - Heb. 9:26  - He sacrificed Himself for us
     (terms)   A)  Penal Substitution = take the place of
                   B)  Propitiation = to appease/satisfy - the wrath of God fell on Christ and God was satisfied.  Justice had been paid.  (contrast:  wrath averted vs. satisfied, absorbed.)
                  C)  Expiation = to extinguish, eliminate, remove guilt -
                        Example:  Old Testament 'scapegoat' - 1 Pet. 2:24

#4.  The Purpose, Intent of the Sacrifice:
                 A)  To Redeem - He died to buy us back out of slavery to sin - Mark 10:45, Col. 1:13
                 B)  To Reconcile - 2 Cor. 5:19

Question:  To what degree (extent, measure) was the intent/purpose of the cross accomplished?
(John 19:30 - "it is finished")
1)  Universalism - (Christian)  - Christ paid for all - all are safe and saved.  - Contrast Matt. 7:21 - not  is going to make it.  You must cross the bridge.  Pictures in Revelation

2)  Pre-determinism - (pre-destination, election, limited atonement) - you are pre-determined to be saved.  Nothing you can do to change that. 

3)  Works-salvation - He did His part, I must do mine. - ie:  can't be saved until I'm good enough.

4)  Traditional Evangelical view - Individual Choice (volition, decision) ie:  the work is done, the bridge is built, the way is open, BUT .  YOU must choose and cross the bridge (accept the sacrifice, make Him Lord)

The bridge will now save you, but provides the opportunity to be saved.

If this is true, then: need to: 
Make your choice
Declare your choice
Live your choice - (act and live as if you've crossed)

Make it Personal - He died for me!!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

God on Trial

7 Stages of the Trial:

Order of the trial: - Jesus stands before:
1)  Annas - former high priest, although deposed, retained much of his influence, and probably exercised much of the power of the high priesthood along with Caiaphas.
2) Caiaphas - current high priest (Annas' son-in-law)
3) Sanhedrin - 70 leaders of the people of Israel - over anything to do with the laws - civil, ceremonial, moral
4)  Pilate - Roman governor over this area - his word is final - controls the military
5)  Herod Antipas - son of Herod the Great who tried to kill Jesus when a baby - local governor over Galilee
6) Pilate - Herod passing the buck
7)  The Jewish crowd

The account is in all 4 gospels.   Reason for the offense - from Jewish standpoint = blasphemy - Jesus claimed to be God.   From political standpoint - Jesus claimed to be a king - Jews - no king but Caesar.

However, these not the real offenses, the real reasons for the anger.

John 18:12-14
John 18:19-24
Matt. 26:57-67 - ref. Lev. 24:16 - "anyone who blasphemes the Name of the Lord must be put to death"
John 18:28-32
Luke 23:4-12
Mark 15:6-14
John 18:33-40
John 19:1-18, Matt. 27:19, John 19:8-16
Mark 15:15

IF the sceptics, detractors, are correct, then this is simply (another) unjust trial, conviction, execution.

BUT, IF orthodox Christianity is correct, then this = GOD ON TRIAL!!!  (IF= God on Trial) = the offense(s)???

Jesus was:  Intrusive - example Temple cleansing
                  Exclusive - John 14:6 - made many claims to this
                  Intolerant - "of SIN, (not sinners)
                  Authoritative - (compare to prophets) - almost always hated by the people
                  Confrontational - "woe to you scribes ad pharisees" - Judgment!!!!
                  Threatening - "adjust/correct ... or else!!"  (if you don't believe in Me, will die in your sins)

On one hand, if you accept His Lordship, the above list = right (His right)
However, if you reject His Lordship - above list = intolerable!!!
Therefore, must silence Him - ie:  eliminate, discredit, ignore


#1.  the trial, tension did NOT end at execution  -
examples:  resurrection --> Pentecost --> disciples/gospel --> Jewish persecution

Question:  why was Pilate (Rome) not angry at this time?
Answer:  Jesus had not yet confronted them!!!  later?? ---> Revelation - intense persecution and hatred of Christians by Rome

#2.  the trial, tension continues today - same things, the list of offenses stays the same.
Renewed with each generation, individual!!

#3  The list of offenses remains the same.
If you share Christ in this world, these things will make people angry at you.

#4.  The offense is not entirely removed at Salvation!!  We still struggle with some of these things:  BUT, He is LORD!!

The Question then, and the Question Now = IS HE LORD???  These things should set you apart!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Peter - Denial & Restoration

Jesus' Arrest - all gospel accounts have pieces of this story not found in the others

John 18:1-11 - entered into Gethsemane (see last week)
Luke 22:51 - healed the servant
Matt. 26:53-54 - could call legions of angels.  Jesus not taken, gave Himself up
Matt. 26:55-56 - all disciples fled, deserted Him at this point
John 18:12-14 - Jesus bound and taken to High Priest

PETER'S DENIAL - recorded in all 4 gospels - (made big impression on other disciples - expected it to make a big impression on their readers)

FORETOLD by Jesus - John 13:36-38 - will disown me 3 times
                                      Matt. 26:31-35 - disciples ALL said would never deny You
                                      Luke 22:31-32 - Satan asked to sift "you all" as wheat - Jesus prayed for Peter          (singular)

FULFILLED - John 18:15-27
                        Luke 22:59-62
End of denial, BUT not the end of the story.  Just because Peter failed, Christ didn't put him out forever.

PETER'S RESTORATION - John 21:12-19 - (sometimes Christ was not recognized in His resurrected state)
Parallels?  - around fire/around people (witnesses)
                  addressed Peter as "Simon" (unstable, weak) - Luke 22:31
                  asked 3 times - denied 3 times
                  closes with "verily, verily"/"amen, amen" - John 13:38, 21:18

So - Peter was restored and re-commissioned, and continues as apostle, representative, spokesman until his death (according to tradition by crucifixion)


1)  Jesus knew Peter's mix (Peter and Simon) - partly rock, partly clay)

2)  Jesus loved him, called him, commissioned him ...... anyway!!!!

3)  When Peter failed, Jesus offered restoration.

4)  Peter had to decide/choose.  Is a stark contrast between Peter and Judas.

Question:   How are you any different than Peter???
 Answer:  We're NOT!!! - We're a mixture, there's good and bad in all of us! Strength and weakness, but all called/commissioned to something.

Order of Restoration
#1.  Repentance - "turn" - and this is MORE than tears - (example:  Judas)  Tears don't necessarily mean repentance.  Remorse is not evidence or repentance, TURNING is the evidence.

#2.  Confrontation - because this is MORE than a correction of behavior.  Restoration = renewing (re-establishing) a Relationship!!  ie:  face to face with the Lord - must mend the relationship

#3.  Forgiveness - a) granted - 1 John 1:9 - He WILL forgive if we truly ask.
                            b) received - (accepted, applied) - Phil 3:12-15 - go forward, not let those things hold you back.  This is a mature Christian response

#4.  Harness - "ie:  back to WORK!!! (with Him and for Him) - examples:  "feed my sheep", Elijah's post-Carmel commission)
He saved us for good works!

The steps/process = same for:  a) backslidden Christians  AND  b) Pre-Christians

Above steps = how to fix either situation!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Great Prayer

Not found in John but in Matthew

Last week = the Other Lord's Prayer (John 17)
Today = the GREAT Prayer 

Setting:  John 18:1 - the Gethsemane Prayer/the Great  Prayer (Gethsemane = the place of the olive/oil press)
Great because of :  #1- it's intensity   #2 - its CONTENT
"not my will, but Thine be done"

Matt. 26:36-46 - cup = all that He is about to face - Vs. 41 - watch = stay alert in prayer
with Luke 22:39 - "as usual"
       Luke 22:43 - "angel strengthened" (messenger)
       Luke 22:44 - "sweat blood" - Hematidrosis - actual known condition

Note:  Jesus' Itinerary for the next 12 -16 hours = betrayal, abandonment (isolation), trial, false accusation, mockery, scourging, crucifixion, bearing sin, forsaken by the Father, and, what we don't know!! (hell?  punishment?)

So, this is a GREAT Prayer - because of its #1 - intensity (all of the above)
                                                           and  #2 - content - "not my will" - shows nature of Christ

We'll use a Wasm/Ism approach.
today focus = 1)  content - WASM - applies ot Jesus and what happened to Him in the garden
         and it's  2) Application - to US today -  ISM


#1:  Jesus submitted to God's will   ie:  surrendered, deferred, accepted His lot

#2.  Jesus committed to God's will
Difference?  in frying pan by God's will
if can't get out - you submit (example:  loss of a loved one) - submit = passive
if CAN get out - must Commit!! (example:  unhappy marriage, unwanted pregnancy) - commit = active

#3.  Jesus' commitment preceded this crisis (garden)
The decision to commit, follow, obey was made in Eternity Past!!!
Example:  the garden struggle was not about the decision, but was about confirmation - "any other way" - not a crisis of obedience

The ISMs?

#1.  We should submit to God's will - Hi is all wise, all knowing, loves us.

#2.  We should (also) commit to God's will - (active vs. passive) - not just receive but move in that direction.  Don't just sit and wait for God to do the moving.

#3.  Our commitment should precede our crisis.  Life is full of crises - gonna have them.  More apt to stay in God's will if make the commitment in advance.
A public heartfelt commitment makes a difference.  Verbal commitment not so much.

ADD (wasm) - Jesus' commitment was not merely to God's will -
#4.  Jesus' commitment was to God His FATHER!!!! - Mark 14:36
Committing to God's will won't be as strong as committing to God Himself

The first step is submit to the Person of God the Father through Jesus Christ
Then it's easier to submit to the will of God.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Other Lord's Prayer

 The Lord's intimate prayer at the end.

Setting:  have left upper room - on way to Gethsemane.  Judas already gone.
John 17:1 - not yet in Gethsemane possibly on the way, possibly in the temple courtyard.

Jesus prays for:

I.  Himself - that he continue to glorify the Father
"Glorify"= manifest, reveal, display, make known - deeper, more profound - John 1:18

On one hand He has glorified the Father
However, has the cross ahead!! - will He continue to glorify?
The cross tells us something about our God that couldn't be told anyplace else.

II.  His Disciples --left behind - with a task ahead!!! - about to face real trauma themselves
John 16:33
He prays for their:
    1)  protection - "from the evil one" - (not for physical protection, but spiritual protection)
          So not led astray, don't fall away as did Judas
    2)  Sanctification  which = to be SET APART, therefore, to Stand Apart.  - 1 Pet. 2:9
        Example:  temple utensils - holy unto the Lord
    3)  Unity - doesn't mean all be the same, means all pull together.  Example:  hitch of horses in a horse pull

III. Us (John 17:20)  What He prays for them, then, applies to us, NOW!!

John 17:1-26

This prayer for the disciples exactly same as disciples today need.  Vs. 3 = definition of eternal life

This prayer is partly answered and fulfilled if you are a Christian.
      You are protected  (John 10:28) = Satan can't get you beyond what God allows
      You are sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2)
      You are united, as a family  (Eph. 4:4-5) - co-heirs with Christ

BUT, on a day to day basis (Christian walk, practice, lifestyle) THIS PRAYER....AWAITS YOUR ANSWER!!!  (decisions, choices) - We have to respond to his prayer for our life.

We are called to:  Avoid temptation, flee temptation, resist the Devil. (day to day we are still susceptible to the devil)
1 Tim. 6:11   1 Pet. 5:8-9  - OUR choices, OUR decisions

BE holy, STAND apart - (especially in time of Pressure to BLEND IN!!!)

"make every effort ...."  Eph. 4:2-3

#1.  IF this is His Prayer for us, it is also His WILL for us.  (desire)

#2.  IF it is His Will for us, it is also good for us.  (beneficial)

#3. IF it is good for us, it is also good for others.  (minister to, reach)

Jesus prayed for you - John 17:20
He continues to do so - Heb. 7:23-25

What is your response to His prayer?  calling?  will?


Monday, August 24, 2015

Abiding In The Vine

Setting"   Still in upper room - last words to disciples.   John 14:31 - enroute to Gethsemene?

John 15:1 (7th. "I Am") I Am the TRUE Vine.
Grapevine = symbol of national Israel as God's fruit bearer.  (there was a solid gold vine @ the temple entrance - symbolic of Israel itself)

So..... Old Testament prophets to the people:  Isa. 5:1-7  Jer. 2:21
           Jesus to the leaders of the day - Matt. 21:22-43
Often what was said by the prophets, was repeated by Jesus to the Jewish leaders

In light of that, John 15:1 - "I am the TRUE vine"  with John 15:5 - ....."you are the branches...."

FOCUS = 1)  fruit-bearing
                  2) abiding (old English) - settled down, at home, remain, content, indwell - as the branch to the trunk
                  3)  pruning - ie:  cutting back to increase production

John 15:1-17
Simple lesson/truths from this passage:

#1.  WE ARE TO BEAR FRUIT  (as Israel, so us)  We're to be productive - individually and corporately.
Fruit = character? (fruit of the Spirit)  works? (fruit of good works, character)  converts?  - there is room for all these at the church.

Fruit = the outward manifestation of the inner nature.  John 15:8 - fruit bearing - glorifies God, identifies the Christian.  A Christian that doesn't bear fruit is not living up to what he is called to be.  God's character, nature, etc. should be manifest in us.  He is proclaimed when we bear much fruit.

In order to bear fruit -----
#2.  WE MUST ABIDE IN HIM (continue, remain) = MUTUAL INDWELLING
This suggests SUBJECTIVE side of the Christian life - the RELATIONSHIP
Relationships are both objective and subjective - examples:  marriage, friendship, pregnancy
Objective - with Christ - you are either IN Christ or your are out.
Subjective = relationship with Christ
So, traditional spiritual disciplines (not talking about Bible study per se)  = quiet time, Bible Reading, Prayer, Meditation, Praise and Worship.
You won't bear fruit if won't abide!!!

In order to bear fruit -
The text addresses - DIVINE PRUNING - John 15:2
Example:  Luke 22:31 - Sifting permitted!!! a)  to What end?   b)  Peter's part? - recognize the sifting, accept it, and employ it!!
Scripture suggests:  SELF-PRUNING - Heb. 12:1 - throw off everything that hinders.

#1.  John 15:5 - without this you can do nothing!! (ie:  of eternal/Kingdom consequence) - Yet, John 14:12
We're supposed to DO something!

#2.  John 15:11 - Jesus shared this that your JOY may be full.  (regardless of your situation, or circumstances) - Phil. 4:11-13

So:  A)  Get in   
       B)  Abide in  
      C)  Bear with (pruning) 
      D)  Bear fruit!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Paraklete

Setting:  Last few hours of Jesus' life. - Jesus is going away.  The Disciples are expected to carry on!!!

the PROBLEM = How???  Jesus is the teacher, knower, miracle worker, Messiah.  Jesus has the plan, the power.....
Disciples feeling totally inadequate to the task.

The Solution:  PARAKLETE

from the Greek word meaning alongside  (parallel)
and  the Greek word meaning to call 

So Paraklete = One Called Alongside to Help (assist) - parallel with
Examples:  paralegal - paramedic - paraministry

In Greek, there is a distinction between two meanings of the English word "another".  One meaning "of the same sort"-allos or allon  vs. one meaning "of different kind - heteros

This Paraklete uses the word meaning "of the same sort" - similar to what you have

So, who is this Paraklete?  Answer:  the Holy Spirit

Point:  As I helped (assisted) when present with you (physically), so the Holy Spirit will help in my physical absence from you.

John 14:15-20, 25-27, 15:26-16:16, 16:33

The Promise of the Spirit - goes beyond the Apostles to all Christians -- Acts 2:38-39

The Work of the Spirit (to help, assist)
"help" has many forms:
Titles: The Comforter
         The Counselor
         The Helper

        The Interceder
        The Advocate
        The Stand by
(terms used of a family attorney who represents you in court)

       The One who Encourages
       The One who Consoles
       The One who Strengthens

Many Synonyms:
   to aid, assist, support, HELP!!
   to console, comfort, ease grief and pain
   to strengthen, enable, encourage
   to guide, direct, illuminate
   to remind, teach, convince

ALL under umbrella of PARAKLETE

Summary:  Holy Spirit has come to do Christ's WORK in Christ's absence:
               1)  in you = transformation into what called, gifted, saved to be
               2)  through you = ministry (to do His work)

Obtaining the Spirit (acquire, procure, gain possession)
Got God?  Got Christ?  then you Got the Spirit!!!  Rom. 8:9
(must be born again, saved, ask Jesus into heart, etc.)  - Gospel

Sensing the Spirit - (experiencing, feeling, perception, intuition)
On one hand, are occasions of the sense of His presence - example:  Pentecost
However, can be, and probably will be long periods of sense of Absence!!
Examples:  Job, Jeremiah
"Dark night of the Soul" written by St. John of the Cross from prison.  The dark lasted 45 years.  Mother Teresa made statement that her "dark night of the soul" lasted 47 years.
However:  lack of the sense of the Spirit DOES NOT mean lack of the Presence of the Spirit.

Utilizing the Spirit - (as helper, in practical way)
You don't USE the Spirit (don't manipulate, control)
You ALLOW the Spirit to USE You!!
Therefore the issue is:  surrender, submission, obedience
Knowing whether He's using you or not, is not your business - is His business.  We don't have to know, don't have to see!!

John 14:12 - "greater things"
 1)  Need a helper
 2)  Need t submit to that helper

Monday, August 10, 2015

Christ the Only Way

Setting:  upper room, last night, Judas has departed.
John 13:31-14:6

6th. "I Am" - contains 3 "I am's" in one but focus = THE WAY
Definition = road, route, path, passageway - Examples:  bridge - ladder - stairway
No way for sinful man to get into presence of Holy God except through Jesus.

The term "way adopted by the early church - Acts 9:1-2, 24:14  (Saul - on route when got saved)
"The Way" = Jesus

This doctrine has always  been:
1)  Fundamental - basic/primary/non-negotiable teaching
2)  Controversial - can't be proven this side of the grave, or the return of Christ
3)  Offensive - especially with the New Tolerance these days.  Was offensive then and is today.

Old tolerance = respect and treat as equal people of different beliefs
New tolerance = accept as equal ... their BELIEFS!!! - can't hold to your belief as exclusive, BUT can't both be right!!!

Therefore:  the temptation is to preach, teach, embrace John 14:1-3 and distance 'self from John 14:6 - I am THE way!!!!!

So, why does the church hold to this controversial, offensive doctrine?
#1.  Taught by Christ - John 3:18, John 8:24, John 17:3
#2.  Affirmed by the Apostles - Acts 4:12, 1 Tim. 2:5
#3.  Embraced by the Early Church
#4.  Considered orthodox ever since

Therefore:  as Christ's followers we are obligated to hold to this ---
unless can be shown error in:  the Record
                                             the Transmission
                                             the Translation
Being unfaithful to His teachings = being unfaithful to Him!!

So, How to get in the Way?  What's required?
Some views -  1)  inclusivism - on one hand Jesus = the only way
                                  - on the other hand, you just need to believe in whatever in order to receive
                      2)  Baptism - or other sacraments bestowed by the church
                      3)  Confession - contrast - Matt. 7:21-23
                      4)  Good works (deeds)
                      5)  holy living (lifestyle)

The Protestant/Reformed view in order to get into the Way = C.A.T.
#1.  Content - need to know that Jesus is the Christ, are a sinner, need a Savior, etc.
#2.  Assent/Agreement - must see the truth of and agree with the content
#3.  Trust (which is more than believing with head - James 2:19 ) - must believe enough to walk across bridge in faith.
Which brings us BACK to:  John 14:1  and the question?  IF you can't trust Him with John 14:6, why should you trust Him with John 14:1-3?

(ie:  I trust your knowledge of Heaven, Jesus, but I question your knowledge of how to get there!)

1.  We are obligated to accept this even if we don't like it!!  (we have no Biblical reason to reject this)

2)  The charge of arrogance, narrow-mindedness that accompanies this falls on Jesus (not us)  He's the One who said it!

3)  Though many have found this outrageous and offensive, so also many have been challenged-->converted-->transformed by the very same statement.  So:  Rom. 1:16

Question #1:  Is there Only One Way???  (and many questions related to this discussion)

Question #2:  ARE YOU IN THE WAY??? - not, are you believing in the gospel, in the way?
Rom. 10:9-11

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Foot Washing

Jesus' final words and acts before crucifixion - end of the week - somewhere around sundown - last day of His life.

John 13:1-17 - The Foot Washing  (lowest task that could be given)

#1.  The Act - prompted by  --- love, desire to teach (instill need to minister to one another)
                                            AND  Luke 22:24

#2.  The Point = humble yourself and serve others - do it voluntarily.  Luke 22:24-27 - Jesus' Upside-down Kingdom.  Exactly opposite of the world.

#3,  The Example - Christ in this instance.  Christ in His whole incarnation - Phil. 2:5-8
He chose to do this for Our sake!!

#4 - The Setting = last meal, last evening, last WORDS!!  Point:  this is important stuff!!!! - He took time to wash feet because very, very important.  Not a peripheral issue.

#5.  The Students
Initially = THE Apostles!!  (founders, leaders, pillars)  = the people on whom the entire future of His church rests.
1 Pet. 4:10 - Cannot lead if will not wash
Eventually = ALL Christians - be devoted to one another
                                              - honor one another
                                              - live in harmony with OA
                                              - Edify (build up) OA
                                              - accept OA
                                              - instruct OA
                                              - agree with OA
                                              - serve OA
                                              - bear OA's burdens
                                              - be patient with /bear with OA
                                              - be kind to OA
                                              - be compassionate to OA
                                              - forgive OA
                                              - submit to OA
                                              - encourage OA
                                              - spur OA on (to good works)
                                              - confess your faults to OA
                                              - pray for OA
                                              - offer hospitality to OA
                                              - minister your gifts to OA
                                              - love OA
                                              - greet OA w/a holy kiss

Question:  See a pattern here?????

#6.  The Mystery - 1 Pet. 4:10 - more than washing feet - is about ministry to others.

#7.  The Promise - John 13:17 - you'll be blessed if you do them - (you have the Father's favor)
Even if no reward in this life, assured to be rewarded in next life.
"to this ye are called" - humbling 'self and serving

Pre-Christians - this = part of the package
Christians - this = part of the package

Monday, July 27, 2015

Jesus' Last Public Appearances!

John Chap. 11 & 12 = last public appearances before His betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion.

NOTE:  in the text are many people and different reactions, responses to Jesus.

John 11:45-57 - Jesus' most fervent opponents didn't deny His miracles.  Vs. 48 - we will pay for this.
John 12:1-15, insert:  Luke 19:37-40 - He will be glorified.  John 12:16-23, 27-28, 37, 42-43

People/Groups of people in the text:

1)  former believers - disciples and other disciples
2)  new believers - because of Lazarus, and other miracles
3)  snitches - run to tell about everything Jesus did
4)  Sanhedrin - chief priests
5)  Mary - Lazarus' sister - shows love, devotion, sacrifice of year's wages (the value of the ointment)
6)  Judas - betrayer
7)  Jewish pilgrims
8)  Gentile seekers - God fearers
9)  Secret believers - afraid to openly commit because of Jewish leaders
10)  "won't" believers - even after seeing signs, won't believe in Him

So.......  all of these had the same exposure, same evidence to know
However, came to different conclusions, responses, outcomes

the REASON = is questionable, debatable (due to pre-determination?, pre-disposition?)  more open? more sensitive?,  more inclined to belief?

the RESULTS = are more measurable.  Only have two options - accept Him and follow Him.  Believe & turn toward Jesus.
OR, reject Him.  Don't Believe and turn away from Jesus.

#1.  Belief is Trust - (ie:  in the New Testament sense) - is a big difference in believing with head and trusting.
Example:  the "Jews" believed the miracles - John 11:47, but they didn't trust Jesus!!
Contrast:  believe with head vs. trust with hands - example:  walking on 2 x 12 suspended between two blocks - 8" above ground - no problem.  Trust board to hold you up.  Maybe even at 2 feet off the ground, BUT, when put at 20 - 30 feet off the ground, probably not going to trust it.  Trust means committing and stepping out.

#2.  This Belief is a Choice - John 12:37 - "would not believe"
On one hand, we're not called to blind faith, or not called to choose without evidence
BUT, given evidence - you become RESPONSE - ABLE!!!!

#3.  Belief is PROGRESSIVE (or Regressive)
John 12:37-40 - "would not" ==> "could" not.
Compare:  Matt. 13:15  Rom. 1:21-28, 32

#4.  Belief does not conclude with conversion (is lifelong thing)
Biggest challenges to the disciples' faith were ahead of them!!
    a)  His trial, His DEATH!!  His Absence, delayed return
    b) waning of miracles, persecutions, jeering of sceptics
    c)  apostasies, false conversions, nominal Christians

So, Trust Him with #1) your salvation and your soul,
BUT, #2 also with your money, business, marriage partner, sexual needs and decisions,etc.

How much DO we trust Him?  Live according to His Word?  Col. 2:6

Monday, July 20, 2015

What Should Christians Do in Light of Recent Court Decisions

Court decisions lead to questions, issues - Biblical, traditional, religious (freedom, Christians' individual freedoms), debates.

President of SW Baptist Seminary made statement that there's a "moral revolution" happening.

Moral change(s) - example:  60's sex and drugs
led to
Moral shift in culture in the decades following
which led to
Moral reversal ==> that which WAS condemned is NOW celebrated!!  AND, those who oppose are now condemned as intolerant, mean, hateful.

Most grew up in a culture friendly to Christianity.  That's changing!!!  Example:  in a recent poll:  39% favor gay rights over 59% for religious liberties.   A few decades ago, those percentages would have been vastly different with a much higher majority favoring religious liberties.

Christians should be concerned BUT shouldn't be surprised.
Jesus' warnings concerning "the world" - three different contexts:  a) world = creation  b) world = population (people)   c) world = viewpoint of the population.  View c is what is mostly referred to in following scripture references.
John 15:18-21, 17:13-19, 16:33 

Just remember:  we here in the US have been and are a very privileged people in this century!!

Question:  do the warnings for THEN apply to NOW?
Question:  Why are the conclusions so different???

Answer:  Viewpoint/worldview is different - 1 John 4:5-6 - fallen man = fallen decisions ==> fallen viewpoint

Viewpoint of the population today is largely a result of different views of God, Revelation, Authority

As Christians, we have always believed in One Triune God who created all that there is.   He sent His Son, Jesus, and revealed some of Himself to His creation through His Son and through the Prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.  These revelations in scripture and through the words and life of Jesus therefore are the Authority by which we try to live our lives and base our decisions.

1)  Contrast Natural law vs. fabricated law. 
Natural law states that the laws are already in place and it is our job to determine what these laws are and put them to use.
Fabricated law states that there are no natural laws, we will just determine ourselves what is good for us as people and make the laws accordingly.

2)  If two people go in different directions, they will arrive at different points!!!

Answer:  Respond Biblically - the instructions and admonitions there are too numerous to list, so here are just some.

#1.  Be Prepared - (this may be the new normal)
#2.  Be concerned but ...DON'T OVER DRAMATIZE - Heb. 12:4
#3.  Don't lose heart - Rom. 8:28
#4.  Read the New Testament in light of 1st. Century Christians in a hostile environment.  Acts 4:23-31
#5.  Be Informed - Biblically, Politically, Socially - get to know what we're doing
#6.  Beware (cautious lest you fall into same faulty viewpoint) - Col. 2:8  ( 1 Tim. 4:1 - "seducing spirits")
#7.  Be Transformed - Rom. 12:2 - "ongoing process"
#8.  Stand Firm "in the faith" - 1 Pet. 5:8-9 - Are you IN the faith????
#9.  Engage and Evangelize - 1 Cor. 5:9-10 - revival, awakening, conversion only directly affects 1 generation.  Must keep on keeping on.
#10.  Recognize the true enemy - Eph. 6:12 - not people, but spiritual beings
#11.  Pray for Revival - James 5:16 - "the prayer of a righteous man avails much" - we ought to be serious in prayer, and mostly we're NOT!!
#12.  Continue in Joyous Expectation - HOPE - Rev. 11:15 - everything will be good in the end.  Not necessarily from the here and now to the end, but IN THE END!!!!   God IS in CONTROL!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Resurrection and the Life

The 5th. "I Am"

Last week = "I am the Gate/Good Shepherd"

Jesus' claims:  1) galled the Jewish leaders - John 10:30-33 - note 'again' - not the 1st. time
                      2)  caused division among the people - John 10:19-21

So that..... John 10:37-42 - (to this extreme..) He sequestered Himself away from  the Jews.  Went roughly 50 miles from Jerusalem.

Next?  John 11:1-35 - all this to reflect God's wisdom, power, authority, etc. - as the moon reflects the sun  (shows that it's still there)

Question:  Why was Jesus moved?  troubled?  wept?  WHY???  He knew that in a few minutes He would change the entire situation.

Answer:  Because  #1 - He was human - Heb. 4:15
                              #2 - humans should be troubled when people suffer - Rom. 2:15 - that's what humans are supposed to do!!

John 11:36-44 - vs. 40 - but God is invisible.  Martha moves the stone.  Belief goes beyond the head and heart to the hands.

Note:  Even dead men hear Him!!  They are not unconscious to His voice!!

I.  This is an INCREDIBLE miracle!!!
BUT - it is more than a miracle!!!!   It is a SIGN!!!

A sign which says:  A)  Jesus has power over death!
                              B)  Jesus is Lord over everything including death.  Matt. 28:18

(this = incredible miracle)
II.  this is not His greatest miracle!!!
Greatest is:  A)  overcoming His Own death - resurrection
                   B)  overcoming it permanently (glorified vs. Lazarus - who later died again)
 Rom. 1:4 = ultimate miracle!!

III.  This miracle was performed to convince YOU!!
A)  to Believe in Jesus - John 11:42 with John 20:30-31

B)  to Face death with confidence - that's how we're supposed to face it.
                                     Rev. 1:17-18, Rom. 8:35-39 - troubled by does not mean trembling before

C)   to Embrace the Christian Hope - Rev. 20:13-14,  Rev. 21:3-5

Last enemy to be destroyed is death.


Monday, June 29, 2015

I AM the Gate, I AM the Good Shepherd

Sheep/Shepherds were common to Israel ... and common to Scripture.  Sheep are the most commonly mentioned animal in the Bible.  Very often used as a metaphor because of spiritual parallels.
Example:  dividing flocks from common sheep fold - each flock goes to its own shepherd - the multitude of sheep divide themselves.

Jesus speaking:  John 10:1-30 - vs. 3 - calls sheep by name
                                              - vs. 16 - almost universally agreed that this refers to the Gentiles
                                              - vs. 19 - are you for Jesus or against Jesus - only two possibilities - can't be on the fence between.
Then - gap between vs. 21 and vs. 22 - first 21 verses take place at Feast of Dedication in the fall.  From vs. 22 on, takes place near Christmas time - called Hanukkah

Two more "I Ams"
#1.  The Gate - John 10:7 - If you want the safety of the sheepfold, must enter THROUGH HIM!!  - only one door = Jesus.

#2.  The Good Shepherd - John 10:11
are many shepherds out there (ie:  movements, individuals, philosophies, etc.)
BUT if you want HIS guidance, direction, protection, is found in ... Hearing - Responding - following HIM.

As with the other I Ams - these are:
     A.  Personal - I am!!!
     B.  Exclusive - THE Good Shepherd, THE One, The Door!!!
     C.  Offensive to some - then and now!
But, these are the words of the One who has done all these miracles, made these claims, changed the world the last 2000 years.

John 10 = 'go to' passage concerning:
      1)  salvation
      2)  ownership
      3)  security
      4)  choice

I.  Salvation - John 10:9-10

II.  Ownership - "My Sheep ... a) hear Me, b) know Me, c)follow Me...."
This is easier to understand than to explain!
       A.  "hear" = recognition of His calling (nagging, tugging, wooing)
             1.  is the work of the Holy Spirit - John 16:8 - "convince"
             2.  heard in the heart
      B.  "know" - more than head knowledge - Psalm 23:1
includes the head - Romans 10:9-10
Therefore, must conform to the Word (written Voice - 1 John 4:1
Measure the calling against the Word - there are false teachers, false prophets, false messengers!
    C.  "follow" = lifestyle - practical, continual, visible
Example:  sheep following their shepherd - no question of ownership.  If people can't see any evidence of you following Christ, don't be surprised if they don't know who your shepherd is.

III.  Security - John 10:28-29 - You are absolutely, totally secure in Christ, IF you are IN Christ.

IV.  Choice - John 10:25-26
You won't believe my   A.  words (answer)
                                   B.  works  (miracles)
                                  C.  witnesses (prophets/John the Baptist)
Problem is not CAN'T  believe, Problem is WON'T believe!!!  (admit, allow)

1)  If are a person who has never responded, or one who has done this but never proclaimed it, "come out of the closet" and make your profession known.

2)  For the rest - continue to surrender - the shepherd does not hurt the sheep, only wants what's best for them.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Receiving God's Light

Last week = 2nd of the "I Ams" - I am the Light - so that God and His Character can be physically displayed.
John 9:1-41   -  common theological thought = all calamity is a result of sin.  When it occurs in an individual's life, must be that man is reaping for great sin. HOWEVER, calamity is not always the result of sin, even though many times sin does bring calamity into a life.  Example:  man in this scripture = born blind.  So???? How did he sin?
Again - controversy and antagonism toward Jesus:  John 9:38 - Jesus accepted this man's worship.  To the Jews, ONLY God was to be worshiped.  

The Point The lesson of this miracle??? = The One who gives physical sight (light) also offer spiritual sight (light).   1 Cor. 2:9-10 - Spirit of God
           2 Cor. 4:3-4

Receiving God's Light (sight) Requires:    (accepting light by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Not the end, but the beginning)

#1.  Recognition of the Need - Rev. 3:17-18    Prov. 26:12  (because No Need)  You MUST recognize your need!!!!

#2.  Acceptance of the Cure - as God presents it!! (example:  Naaman)
2 Thess. 2:9-10

#3.  Divine Initiation - John 9:35 = found man the second time!!!  If you've found the light, it's because THE LIGHT found you!!  He sought you!!
(this nudging/drawing/wooing/encounter?)   Luke 19:10
NOTE:  It is an awesome thing that the God who needs nothing would seek you!!!!!    Only reason He seeks is FOR you!!!

So:  1..  Recognize your need.
       2.  Respond to the offer
       3.  Give Thanks - that He would do this!!

Light received increases light.    Light refused increases darkness!

This text also illustrates two powerful Christian tools:
Personal Testimony, and Personal Ministry

I.  Personal Testimony = the story of what Christ has done for you.
this man's testimony = 2 simple parts ... a)  this I know    b)  this I believe

needn't be dramatic - just needs to be 1) True  and 2) used -  Mark 5:18-20

II.  Personal Ministry - the whole unfolding began with an act of compassion(on one hand = miraculous.  on other hand = simple kindness)

Note:  John 9:4 - "we .... must work" - compare to Matt. 5:14-16
                          "while ... in world" - compare to John 14:12

Summary:  Jesus is offering spiritual light (sight) so........
#1.  recognize it, accept it
#2.  spread it, share it

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Light of the World

John 8:12-59 - Jesus is still in the temple courts following the incident with the woman caught in adultery.  Still some of the pharisees and religious leaders there as well.

Opens with John 8:12 - "I am the light of the world"
Ends with John 8:59 - "they picked up stones to stone Him"

in between = confrontation, debate, verbal exchange

Question:  Why are the Jews so offended??? - John 8:23-24, 43-44, 47, 58
These were spoken to those who were supposed to be the torch-bearers for God - they considered themselves that in their own eyes.  Vs. 58 - claim to Deity - final straw

Real Issue = not "are His Claims Offensive?" 
Real Issue = Are His claims TRUE!!!

Issue is the same today as it was then!  If claims offensive and true, then the offense is irrelevant.
The Gospel IS offensive, but it IS true!!

Focus today:  Verse 12 - (2nd. of the "I Am's")
Which are - #1 - personal - "I Am" - versus 'I know, can point to, etc.'
                 - #2 - exclusive - "THE...."  - definite article - not 'a', not 'one of', but THE.
                -  #3. - practical - ie:  the declaration contains an applicable promise!!! 

John 8:12 - declaration = "I Am THE LIGHT..."
                - promise = therefore, IF you follow me.....

Light and Darkness = common symbols for all peoples, cultures - that which is light = good, always in positive sense.
that which is dark = evil, stumbling, bad
Found throughout the scriptures, and is primary in Christian study.

So scripture ... begins with separation of physical Light and Dark ( Gen. 1:1-4)
                       closes with expulsion of all darkness - (Rev. 22)

In between = hundreds of references, mostly symbolic, figurative.  However, just because are symbolic DOES NOT mean they are NOT REAL!!!  Example:  the Nazi symbol - was speaking of something VERY real!!!

3 Symbolic uses of Light in Scripture:

#1.  The Light of Knowledge - 2 Cor. 4:6

#2.  The Light of Moral Purity - (what falls into God's will, God's plan) - Rom. 13:12-13

#3.  the Light of Hope (Christian hope = more than just wishful thinking, but looking forward to based on solid reasoning) - Micah 7:8,  Isa. 9:1-2,6

Point:  John 8:12 - "I am THE Light"
Therefore, Come to me for true Knowledge
                                         true moral purity
                                         true hope

Question:  IF Jesus is holding out Light for me --- HOW do I Find it?  (appropriate it?  in a PRACTICAL sense?)

You find the Light of Jesus in:
#1)  His Word(s) - John 8:31-32 - continue in My Word, ....
#2)  His Example - WWJD - we have His example in scriptures - how He reacted to many different instances
#3)  His Presence - ie: Holy Spirit through prayer, meditation, etc. - inner voice convicting, nudging, comforting, directing.  (never leave you, never forsake you.  Always be with you)
#4)  His Service - because Obedience ==>Light ( light received increases light)
Sometimes we have it backwards.  We want blessing, then will serve.  Lord says, serve, then you'll be blessed in the doing.
#5)  His Redemption - (His Salvation & Lordship) - there are three scenarios regarding our relationship with Christ: 
A) - we are on the throne, in the driver's seat of our heart - Christ is on the outside.  = lost person.
B)  Christ is in our heart, we've accepted His salvation, but we are still on the throne running the show and He is at the foot.
C)  Christ is not only in our heart, but on the throne, and we are at the foot of the throne allowing Him to direct, control, run our lives.

#1.  Light sometimes comes gradually  (cumulatively) - we are a microwave society - want everything to happen immediately.  On rare occasions, it might, but don't expect sudden epiphany all the time.

However it comes:
#2.  with Light comes "Response - ABILITY" - able to respond - 1 Pet. 2:9

Though should be Spiritually transforming,
#3.  Light can be Resisted, Refused - we have God-given capacity to do that.  He has given us freedom of will to choose.  However, light rejected increases darkness.  When He calls, you will know!

John 12:46 - "your choice"
Christ's initial light (salvation)
Christ's continuing light - (Lordship) - more light, more hope, more service.