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