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.