Sunday, May 18, 2014

John 5

"After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.  In these lay a multitude of invalids--blind, lame, and paralyzed.  One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?"  The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me."  Jesus said to him, "Get up, take up your bed and walk."  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. 

Now that day was the Sabbath.  So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed."  But he answered them, "The man who healed me, that man said to me, 'Take up your bed, and walk.'"  They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?"  Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you are well!  Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you."  The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.  And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing things on the Sabbath.  But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working."

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.  For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.  20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.  And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.  21For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.  22The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.  Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.  24Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."

(Explanation for verses John 5:19-24 from The MacArthur Study Bible, pages 1547.
"5:19 Truly, truly.  Cf. vv. 24-25 and 1:51.  This is an emphatic way of saying, "I'm telling you the truth."  In response to Jewish hostility at the implications of his assertions of equality with God, Jesus became even more fearless, forceful, and emphatic.  Jesus essentially tied his activities of healing on the Sabbath directly to the Father.  The Son never took independent action that set him against the Father because the Son only did those things that were coincident with and co-extensive with all that the Father does.  Jesus thus implied that the only One who could do what the Father does must be as great as the Father.
5:23 honor the Son.  This verse gives the reason that God entrusted all judgment to the Son (v. 22), i.e., so that all men should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  This verse goes far beyond making Jesus a mere ambassador whi is acting in the name of a monarch, but gives him full and complete equality with the Father (cf. Phil. 2:9-11).  honor the Father.  Jesus turned the tables on the Jewish accusation against him of blasphemy, instead, Jesus affirmed that the only way anyone can honor the Father is through receiving the Son.  Therefore, the Jews were the ones who actually blasphemed the Father by rejection of his Son.
5:24 passed from death to life.  This develops the truth of v. 21, that Jesus gives life to whomever he desires.  The people who receive that life are here identified as those who hear the word and believe in the Father and the Son.  They are the people who have eternal life and never will be condemned (Rom. 8:1; Col. 1:13).")

"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 I can do nothing on my own.  As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.   If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true.  There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.  You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.  Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.  He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.  But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John.  For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.  And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.  His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.  I do not receive glory from people.  But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.  I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me.  If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.  How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?  Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father.  There is one who accuses you:  Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.  But if you do not believe his writings how will you believe my words?"

(Explanation for verse John 5:30 from The MacArthur Study Bible page 1548
"5:30 the will of him who sent me.  In summarizing all he has said from v. 19 on about his equality with God, Jesus claimed that the judgment he exercised was because everything he did was dependent upon the Father's word and will (cf. vv. 19-20))"

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus,  I lift up all who are reading this today.  I pray that they will see the truth of who You are and why You came to die on the cross as You have spoken in the Bible.   I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Gospel According to John, Chapter 4

"Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.  And he had to pass through Samaria.  So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well.  It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?"  (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep.  Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob?  He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock."  Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drink of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thristy or have to come here to draw water."

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here."  The woman answered him, "I have no husband."  Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.  What you have said is true."  The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusamlem is the place where people ought to worship."  Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.  The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ).  When he comes, he will tell us all things.  Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."

Just then his disciples came back.  They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you seek?" or, "Why are you talking with her?"  So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?"  They went out of the town and were coming to him. 

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."  But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."  So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought him something to eat?"  Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.  Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'?  Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for havest.  Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper may rejoice together.  For here the saying holds true, One sows and another reaps.  I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.  Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did."  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his word.  They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."

After the two days he departed for Galilee.  (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.)  So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast.  For they too had gone to the feast. 

So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.  And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill.  When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.  So Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe."  The official said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."  Jesus said to him, "Go your son will live."  The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.  As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering.  So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him."  The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live."  And he himself believed, and all his household.  This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee." John 4 (ESV)

Explanations for John 4: 1-26,  John 4:27-42, John 4:43-54 from The MacArthur Study Bible, pages1542-1545.

"4:1-26 The story of the Samaritian woman reinforces John's main theme that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God.  The thrust of these verses is not so much her conversion but that Jesus is Messiah (v. 26).  While her conversion is clearly implied, the apostle's focus centers on Jesus' declaration foretold in the Scriptures (v. 25).  Important also is the fact that this chapter demonstrates Jesus' love and understanding of people.  His love for mankind involved no boundaries, for he lovingly and compassionately reached out to a woman who was a social outcast.  In contrast to the limitations of human love, Christ exhibits the character of divine love that is indiscriminate and all-encompassing. (3:16)."

"4:27-42  These verses reinforce Jesus' acknowledgment that he was Messiah by offering proof for his claim.  John gave five genuine, but subtle, proofs that Jesus was truly Messiah and Son of God, which reinforced his main theme of 20:31:   1) proff from his immediate control of everything (4:27):  2) proof from his impact on the woman (vv. 28-30):  3) proof from his intimacy with the Father (vv. 31-34):  4) proof from his insight into men's souls (vv. 35-38):  and 5) proof from his impression on the Samaritans (vv. 39-42)."

"4:43-54  The episode of Jesus' healing of the official's son constitutes the second major "sign" of eight that John used to reinforce Jesus' true identity for producing belief in his readers (v. 54).  In this episode, Jesus chided the official's unbelief in needing a miraculous sign in order to trust in Christ (v. 48).  While some believe that this story is the same as the healing of the centurion's servant (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:2-10), sufficient differences exist to demonstrate that it is different from the synoptic account; e.g.,   1) no evidence exists that the official's son was a Gentile;  2) the official's son, not his servant, was healed; and 3) Jesus was far more negative regarding the official's faith (John 4:48) than the centurion's (Matt. 8:10).  One may divide this section into three parts:  1) Jesus contemplation unbelief (John 4:43-45);  2) Jesus confronting unbelief (vv. 46-49);  and 3) Jesus conquering unbelief (vv. 50-54)."

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus,  I lift up those reading the Bible today.  I pray that they will seek Your living water.  I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Mormon Exit Story

Last March while I was waiting in line to see the movie, "God's Not Dead" my husband and I started talking to the couple in front of us.  My husband asked the man if he knew what the movie was about and the man said--Jack Mormons?  It turns out that this man and his wife were Mormons, but the wife had really left Mormon Church already.  The man was still thinking about leaving.  I gave them my card and told them about some websites (Sandra Tanner's website .  I told them about Sandra Tanner and Lynn Wilder.  Both ex-Mormons now born-again Christians.  Lynn Wilder's book "Unveiling Grace" is about her journey out of the Mormon Church.  She was a professor at BYU and it is a fascinating story.  Lately, I have had people ask me about my Mormon background so I decided to post my Mormon exit story.  The long version.  I have been praying for this couple I met in line at the movie theater.  I hope they are doing well.  Here is my story:

From the time I was a small child I have always loved God.  I was raised in a Christian home and attended a local *Presbyterian Church during my childhood and as a young adult.  It was there that I became a born again Christian.  I was around the age of 16 and was in the church high school group.  One Sunday morning the youth pastor asked us if we wanted Jesus to forgive our sins and be our Lord and Savior and I really did so I asked the Lord quietly into my heart then.  I understood the Gospel and that I was a sinner and needed Jesus to save me.  I was passionate for Jesus and His saving grace.  That is when Satan went after me and challenged my faith in following God's will.  Now begins the battle.

The following summer I went to church camp and while there started to read the Bible regularly.  I read through the entire New Testament, underlining verses.  While at church camp the guest pastor spoke about Christ centered marriage.  He said that if God wanted you to marry you would--if not there was nothing you could do about it.  This upset me terribly because I had always wanted to get married and have a family.  I was frustrated with the "if it's God's will it will happen."  As a young teenager I really didn't understand what that meant.  Unfortunately, what that pastor said started me on a one sided fight with the Lord.  I was going to make absolutely, positively sure I would get married when I grew up.

Fast forward to my last year in college (1978).  I met a guy who was Mormon.  When he found out I didn't smoke, drink or do drugs he asked if I was a Mormon.  I said no.  We became friends and he gave me a Book of Mormon to read.  Then the Mormon missionaries came to my home and showed me their lessons about their church.  When I heard the Mormon missionaries say things like, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, I can't remember which term they used) I was thinking of the Trinity--ONE GOD.  I did not realize that the Mormon missionaries were talking about 3 separate gods--one only in thought and purpose.  What the Mormon missionaries said sounded "Christian" and being a young Christian and wanting to take things into my own hands and marry a good Christian guy the Mormon Church was just the thing for me.  I had a wonderful time at those Mormon dances and went out on lots of dates with some nice guys.  I was baptized into the Mormon Church in June of 1978.  I caught a bad cold the day I was baptized a Mormon.

Soon after I was baptized I met a Mormon guy (Mike) at a special dance.  He was going to UOP to become a dentist.  We dated from August to December and got engaged on Christmas Eve 1978.  My mother and I were busy planning the wedding.  I remember I used to pray to the Lord that my marriage would take place and that we would have a nice life.  I remember being in my room alone and talking out loud to the Lord about this when I heard His still small voice.  The Lord said to me, "No, Karen, I'm sorry, but no."  I asked again and heard Him say the same thing.  I remember getting mad at the Lord and said to Him, "What is the matter with You!?  Why do you keep saying no?"  I am so grateful that the Lord was loving and patient and never let go of me.  He was saying He was sorry to me when I should have been down on my knees saying I am sorry to Him.  I truly did not know at the time that the Mormon Church was not a Christian Church.

My fiance, Mike had gone to Utah for Easter break to see his family (1979) and while he was there we had a little agrument over the phone about polygamy.  I had asked him if I died first would he re-marry and be sealed to someone else in the Mormon temple.  He said if they had never been sealed before he would.  This did not sit well with me (I think this was the first crack in my Mormon "testimony").

When Mike came back to California after spring break he gave me a birthday gift from his parents.  It was my temple clothes that I would wear on my wedding day.  When I opened the box the first thing I saw was this green apron.  It was a matte satin green with stitching that looked like leaves.  I thought the way the stitching swirled around looked crazy--like the brush strokes of a Vincent Van Gogh painting.  If you don't know Vincent Van Gogh suffered from mental illness.  I didn't say anything about my thoughts to my fiance.  We went back to our Mormon ward for church.  Meanwhile, my parents came home and saw the birthday present on the coffee table.  When my mother opened the box and saw those temple clothes the Holy Spirit convicted her and she knew right away that the Mormon Chruch was not Christian.

Later that evening after Mike left to go back to his apartment, my mother and I were doing the dishes.  She has such a funny look on her face I had to ask what was on her mind.  At first she said that my fiance was a good man and that she didn't want to interfere.  Well, I don't know about you, but when your mother says something like that you just have to know what she means by not wanting to interfere.  Finally, she said, "Karen, Christ didn't just come for the "perfect people" He came for everyone.  That Mormon Church is not a Christian church because only the "perfect people" can go into their temples.  Your father and I can't go into the temple to see your wedding."  When my mother said that Christ didn't just come for the perfect people He came for everyone the Lord removed the blanket from my eyes and all these Bible verses that I had read when I was 16 came flooding into my mind.  "Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment."  Matthew 22:37-38.  "On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17.  "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.  I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30.  It was really pretty amazing.  I remember my heart started to sink as I started to process this.  I said to my mother, "You're right! What should I do? Can I still marry Mike?  If I marry Mike will I be denying God?"  I couldn't deny the God of the Bible.  If I were to marry Mike and we had children and they were raised Mormon would I be condemning them to hell?  I couldn't knowingly raise my children as Mormons.  All this happened on a Saturday night--the next day was Easter Sunday.

I went to my Mormon ward on Easter Sunday because I had to teach 3 year old children Sunday school.   Mormons don't wear crosses and the cross is not displayed in the ward--ever. When I walked into the ward the fact that there was no cross stuck out like a sore thumb.  I listened to the different members of the ward give their Easter speech and they only spoke about the exaltation of man to godhood.  What the heck was that?  What godhood?  I went into my Sunday school class of 3 year olds and was so upset I couldn't teach.  I just asked them who they thought Jesus is.

After church I went home and so the conflict became bigger.  A few days later while I was at work, I called my mother, who volunteered at the local *Presbyterian Church office.  I asked her to ask the pastor there if it is ok if I married Mike.  When she called me back and told me that the pastor said the Mormons are not Christians I really just broke down and my boss had to have my mom pick me up and take me home.  When I got home I wept really hard.  I asked my mom to call the youth pastor and ask him about this.  She got him on the phone and I spoke to him.  He was really nice and told me that what I needed to do was to go into my room by myself and pray to the Lord.  Ask the Lord to direct me.  The youth pastor also said that the Lord has someone for me to marry and that also my salvation was assured.  He said that I was on the edge of a cliff ready to fall off and that I needed to pray and the Lord would save me from falling off that cliff.  The youth pastor said that if I did marry the Mormon and if I would raise my children in the Mormon Church they would not be saved.

I went into my room and prayed and for the first time since this started I had peace.  I knew I had to make a choice--choose the Jesus of the Bible or choose Mike.  I chose Jesus.   "No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24.  I knew I had to break it off with Mike and leave the Mormon Church.  I called Mike and asked him to come over.  I told him I had lost my testimony.  I did not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  I told him I thought the Mormon prophets were actually adulterers.  Mike got angry with me for saying that one.  I also said to Mike that he would not be a god nor would I for there is only one God and we are not Him.  Mike asked me why I did not want to be a god?  I said because it just is not the way it is--God is God and we are not--never will be.  I want to love and worship God, not be Him.  Mike said he thought I needed help and he wanted to help me.  I didn't need Mike's help so we broke up and I gave him back his diamond ring, temple clothes and fishing rods.  We said our goodbyes and never spoke to each other again.

I then had to tell my bishop.  He could hardly believe it.  Someone came and picked up my Sunday school lesson books.  Then so many people started calling me and showed up on my doorstep.  Answering machines were not the norm back in 1979.  This was really upsetting and harassing.  This eventually stopped when I told them I would get a lawyer and to please leave me alone.  My mother was praying for me and prayed that the Lord would bring a nice born again Christian man into my life.  The youth pastor at the *Presbyterian Church asked a young woman who was the wife of an intern at the *Presbyterian Church to befriend me and help me get back into Christain fellowship.  She was very sweet and I appreciated this very much.  I re-joined the Presbyterian Church.

In June of 1979 I was invited to a going away pool party BBQ for this couple because her husband was going to seminary school.  I was sitting on a porch swing at this party when this cute guy came up to me, sat on the arm of the porch swing and said, "Hi."  Scott is a born again Christian.  We started dating soon after and got married the following summer, July 1980.  We will be married for 34 years this July.  We also got baptized in a Christian church.  It was wonderful to be baptized as a believer in Christ in a real Christian church. It just washed away that awful Mormon baptism that happened 35 years ago.  I am so very thankful and humbled to the Lord for all His loving forgiveness and for never letting go of me even though I went off so wrong.  Through all this I learned that the Lord really does know best and it is better to wait on Him than make a mess of things like I did.  It is so easy for people to be deceived and it is so important to stand by the Bible alone.  The Mormons use many of the same words as born again Christians, but they have very different meanings behind those words.  If you are reading this and are a Mormon I would suggest that you to say a prayer and ask the Lord to show you the truth.  He will show you the truth.  The Lord taught me a lot through my Mormon experience.  How Satan can really appear as an angel of light, yet he is the prince of darkness.  It is important to gage everything according to the Bible and to spend time with the Lord in prayer.  If it conflicts with the Bible then forget it.  You cannot trust your feelings.  Feelings can deceive you.  The Lord Jesus is with you always.  When you have faith and believe in Him and His sacrifice for you on the cross He will never leave you or let you go. I give all the glory to the God of the Bible for getting me out of the darkness of Mormonism.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again:  If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." Galations 1:6-9

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus,  I lift up those who are still in the Mormon Church.  I pray that their eyes would be opened to the truth found in the Jesus of the Bible.  I pray that those in darkness will ask You, Lord to show them the truth.  I pray that Your gift of salvation through Jesus, by grace will be received.  I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

*NOTE:  The Presbyterian Church was a very different church back in 1979.  I am no longer a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA.  I have not been a member for many years.  I do not endorse nor would I recommend joining the Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA.  Please seek out a church that stands with the Bible alone.

The Gospel According to John, Chapter 3

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.  Jesus answered him,  "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."  Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"  Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"  Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?  Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment:  the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.  John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification.  And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness--look he is baptizing, and all are going to him."  John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.  You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.'  The one who has the bride is the bridegroom.  The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice.  Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.  He must increase, but I must decrease."

"He who comes from above is above all.  He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way.  He who comes from heaven is above all.  He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony.  Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.  For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.  The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."  John 3  ESV

Explanation for verses in John 3:1-21, John 3:3, John 3:8, John 3:16, John 3:15, John 3:22:36, John 3:36 from The MacArthur Study Bible, pages 1540-1541

"3:1-21  The story of Jesus and Nicodemus reinforces John's themes that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God (apologetic) and that he came to offer salvation to men (evangelistic).  John 2:23-24 actually serves as the introduction to Nicodemus's story, since ch. 3 constitutes tangible evidence of Jesus' ability to know men's hearts and thereby also demonstrates Jesus' deity.  Jesus also presented God's plan of salvation to Nicodemus, showing that he was God's messenger, whose redemptive work brings about the promised salvation to his people (3:14).  The chapter may be divided into two sections: 1) Jesus' dialogue with Nicodemus (vv. 1-10); and 2) Jesus' discourse on God's plan of salvation (vv. 11-21)."

"3:3 born again.  The phrase lit. means "born from above."  Jesus answered a question that Nicodemus does not even ask.  He read Nicodemus's heart and came to the very core of his problem, i.e., the need for spiritual transformation or regeneration produced by the Holy Spirit.  New birth is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the believer (2 Cor. 5:17); Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18).   John 1:12-13 indicates that "born again" also carries the idea "to become children of God" through trust in the name of the incarnate Word.  cannot see the kingdom of God.  In context this is primarily a reference to participation in the millennial kingdom at the end of the age, feverently anticipated by the Pharisees and other Jews.  Since the Pharisees were supernaturalists, they naturally and eagerly expected the coming of the prophesied resurrection of the saints and institution of the messianic kingdom (Isa. 11:1-16; Dan. 12:2).  Their problem was that they thought that mere physical lineage and keeping of religious externals qualified them for entrance into the kingdom rather than the needed spiritual transformation that Jesus emphasized (cf. John 8:33-39; Gal. 6:15).  The coming of the kingdom at the end of the age can be described as the "regeneration" of the world (Matt. 19:28, ESV footnote), but regeneration of the individual is required before the end of the world in order to enter the kingdom."

"3:8 The wind blows where it wishes.  Jesus' point was that just as the wind cannot be controlled or understood by human beings but its effects can be witnessed, so also it is with the Holy Spirit.  He cannot be controlled or understood, but the proof of his work is apparent.  Where the Spirit works, there is undeniable and unmistakable evidence."

"3:16 For God so loved the world.  The Son's mission is bound up in the supreme love of God for the evil, sinful "world" of humanity (cf. 6:32, 51; 12:47; see notes on 1:9; Matt. 5:44-45) that is in rebellion against him.  The word "so" emphasizes the intensity of greatness of his love.  The Father gave his unique and beloved Son to die on behalf of sinful men (see note on 2 Cor. 5:21).  eternal life.  See note on John 3:15; cf. 17:3; 1 John 5:20."

"3:15 eternal life.  This is the first of 17 references to "eternal life" in John's Gospel.  The same Greek word is translated in some versions as "everlasting life."  The expression appears in the NT nearly 50 times.  Eternal life refers not only to eternal quantity but divine quality of life.  It means lit. "life of the age to come" and refers therefore to resurrection and heavenly existence in perfect glory and holiness.  This life for believers in the Lord Jesus is experienced before heaven is reached.  This "eternal life" is in essence nothing less than participation in the eternal life of the Living Word, Jesus Christ.  It is the life of God in evey believer, yet not fully manifest until the resurrection (Rom. 8:19-23; Phil. 3:20-21)."

"3:22-36  This section constitutes John the Baptist's last testimony in this Gospel regarding Christ.  As his ministry faded away, Jesus' ministry moved to the forefront.  In spite of the fact that John the Baptist received widespread fame in Israel and was generally accepted by the common people of the land as well as those who were social outcasts, his testimony regarding Jesus was rejected, especially by the leaders of Israel (cf. Matt. 3:5-10; Luke 7:29)."

"3:36  This constitutes a fitting climax to the chapter.  John the Baptist laid out two alternatives, genuine faith and defiant disobedience, thereby bringing to the forefront the threat of looming judgment.  As John faded from the forefront, he offered and invitation to faith in the Son and clearly expressed the ultimate consequence of failure to believe, i.e., "the wrath of God."

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You so much for Your gift of salvation for us.  I lift up those reading the Bible today.  I pray that You will soften their hearts and minds so they will come to know You.  I pray that the truth will be made known.  I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Note about the painting:  This painting is called "The Wind".

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Gospel According to John, Chapter 2

"On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.  When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."  And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me?"  My hour has not yet come."  His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water."  And they filled them up to the brim.  And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast."  So they took it.  When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine.  But you have kept the good wine until now."  This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.  And his disciples believed in him.

After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.  And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen.  And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.  And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade."  His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."

So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?"  Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."  The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"  But he was speaking about the temple of his body.  When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.  But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man."  John:2  ESV

Explanation for some of the verses in John 2 is from The MacArthur Study Bible, pages 1537-1539

"2:1-11  John relates the first great sign performed by Jesus to demonstrate his deity, the turning of water into wine.  Only God can create from nothing.  John identifies eight miracles in his Gospel that constitute "signs" or confirmation of who Jesus is.  Each of the eight miracles were different; no two were alike.(cf. v. 11)"

"2:13-25 John used this section where Jesus cleansed the temple in righteous indignation to reinforce his main theme that he was the promised Messiah and Son of God. In this section, he highlighted three attributes of Jesus that confirm his deity:  1) his passion for reverence (vv. 13-17);  2) his power of resurrection (vv. 18-22); and  3) his perception of reality (vv.23-25)."

"2:15 As John recorded this cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the synoptic Gospels record a temple cleansing at the end of Jesus' ministry during the final Passover week before Jesus' crucifixion (Matt. 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46).  The historical circumstances and literary contexts of the two temple cleansings differ so widely that attempts to equate the two are unsuccessful.  Furthermore, that two cleansing occured is entirely consistent with the overall context of Jesus' ministry, for the Jewish nation as a whole never recognized Jesus' authority as Messiah (Matt. 23:37-39).  Instead, they rejected his message as well as his person, making such repeated cleansing of the temple highly probable (as well as necessary).  drove them all out of the temple.  When the holiness of God and his worship was at stake, Jesus took fast and furious action.  The "all"  indicates that he drove out not only men but also animals.  Yet, although his physical action was forceful, it was not cruel.  The moderation of his actions is seen in the fact that to riotous uproar occurred; otherwise the specially large contingent of Roman troops in Jerusalem at that time because of the Passover crowds, stationed in the Antonia Fortress overlooking the temple, would have swiftly reacted.  Although the primary reference is to the actions of the Messiah in the millenial kingdom, Jesus' actions in cleansing the temple were an initial fulfillment of Mal. 3:1-3 (and Zech. 14:20-21) that speak of Messiah's purifying the religious worship of his people."

"2:18-22  The second way John demonstrated Christ's deity in the account of the temple cleansing was to show his power over death through resurrection.  Only God has this right."

"2:23-25  The third way John demonstrated Christ's deity in the account of the temple cleansing was to show his perception of reality.  Only God truly knows the hearts of men."

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus,  I lift up those who are reading the Bible today.  I pray that as You reveal Yourself to us in the Gospel of John and in the whole Bible--that their hearts and minds will be open to receive You as their Lord and Savior.  I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.