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.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Story of Woman Caught in Adultery

#1.  The text = John 7:53-8:11
This happened at the end of the week of the feast - (teachers of the law = modern day lawyers)
John 8:6 - they weren't concerned about any of this but trying to trap Jesus.  They weren't interested in keeping the law.

#2.  The problem with the text.  First appears in the 5th. century manuscripts (400's).  Most Bibles didn't include it until the 7th. century.  The church Fathers didn't note/comment on it until the 12th. century.  (also, late manuscripts had it at the end of Luke) - so...... added later???

So, why is it included?  Why is it still here? 
     A.  Once included people were hesitant to omit it.  ("take away")
     B.  It's a well-loved passage/story
     C.  Nothing in the text contradicts the Gospel message (nothing new/contrary to scripture/doctrinally disturbing.   
Adds to the message, doesn't detract from it. 

So, on one hand, it could be historically true.
But, it is almost certainly not part of the original text.

#3.  Options:  
      A.  accept the story; preach/teach from it as it is
      B.  avoid the text
      C.  Use the story ... in conjunction with other texts to parallel, illustrate, bolster up

Example:  Luke 7:36-50

Note #1:  there are only 2 lengthy sections of the New Testament questioned:  here and Mark 16:9-20

Note #2:  NO disputed texts anywhere in the New Testament that challenge/contradict/change the cardinal truths of Christianity - period!!!

Conclusion:  a)  Christians should be people of truth and not be afraid to see truth concerning scripture.
                   b)  Christians shouldn't be disturbed upset because of a couple questionable passages.  More than 98% of the New Testament text stands/ NO Basic doctrine challenged.

Now..... using either or both texts - some lessons/applications for us today. 

1)  Jesus came to save sinners (morally corrupt and consistently corrupt)
Luke 19:10   Luke 5:31-32

2)  No sin(s) can keep you lost  (unsaved)
None too big/bad/many .... NO sin is greater than Christ!!!!
1 Tim. 1:15 = gospel/Good news!!

3)  Forgiveness is full, complete, instant and free.  1 John 1:9

But, the other side of the coin is:
a)  Sin matters - (no small thing)  Sin is wicked and evil!!!
note:  past fall/current situation/ DIVINE sacrifice!!! - (salvation by works) - HIS works!!

POINT:  Jesus' easy acceptance of the sinner DOES NOT mean He is indifferent to the SIN!!!  - No free lunch.  Cost somebody something.

b)  Mercy has not eliminated condemnation - not for those in Christ - John 3:18
   John 3:16-19

A word, concept, doctrine CENTRAL to these texts = Reconciliation    (example:  bridge illustration)  Fact of the bridge doesn't put you on the other side of the bridge!

#1.  Initial reconciliation - Col. 1:21-22
Technically,  it is not your sin that condemns you.  It is your refusal of the cure.  Example:  disease, pill, response

#2.  Repeated reconciliation  - example:  marriage - need for repeated correction because we move, God doesn't move!!   Heb. 4:14-16

#3.   The Ministry of reconciliation - (responsibility of reconciliation)
2 Cor. 5:18-21  (as Christ did, so we should do)  *CP2G = what primary ministry of Octavia Baptist Church should be!

*Connect People to God