Monthly Archives: July 2014

Living Water For A Thirsty Soul


Living Water Pix

Thirst is deep craving of the body for fluids. People dying of thirst have been known to drink saltwater from the sea knowing it would kill them so powerful is the intense craving for water!

Because of the powerful imagery “thirst” is used often as a metaphor in the English language. Thirst has come to mean an ardent desire for something.   Someone might say, “He has a thirst for knowledge” or “that was a Blood-thirsty mob”.  This a kind of thirst drives a man or woman to do anything it takes to quench it!

Scripture also uses thirst to describe for intense craving. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are those who Hunger and thirst after righteousness…” (Mt 5:6)

The Psalmist describes his intense longing for God with these words:

Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.

Our text today is found in John 4:1-26.  In the first four verses John informs us of what is taking place.

In an effort to avoid impending controversy with the Pharisees, Jesus left Judea in the south to return to Galilee (see map below) (v.1-3).  The distance from Jerusalem to Galilee was around 100km and required 2.5 days of walking through dry barren wilderness.

Note: Baptism is not a part of salvation! Baptismal Regeneration = the false teaching that baptism is necessary for salvation. Jesus did not baptize (2), yet he was clear that he had come to “seek and save those who are lost.” (Lk.19:10)

Jesus “needed to go through Samaria” (4). While traveling he stopped at noon near the city of Sychar at Jacob’s well. In his humanity Christ is hot and thirsty and tired.

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GETTING LIVING WATER TO A THIRSTY SOUL MEANS LEAVING THE COMFORT ZONE (5-9)

The Jews and Samaritans hated each other. In 721 BC the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom and carried many Jews away as captives. These Jewish people intermarried with the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:24-41) and eventually resettled in the land as a mixed race (Jew & Gentile).

In 587 BC Babylon took the Southern Kingdom into captivity. The Jewish people from the South did not intermarry in captivity. When these Jews finally returned to their homeland they refused to accept their kinsmen in the north (Ezra 4:1-3).

Samaritans accepted the first five books of Moses but rejected the rest of the Old Testament writings. They built their own temple on Mt. Gerazim mixing pagan idolatry with Jewish practices.

Josephus the Jewish Historian records that 20 years before Jesus, Samaritans had defiled the temple in Jerusalem by scattering human bones in the courtyard during Passover.

So great was the hatred that often Jewish people would cross over the Jordan River walk up past Samaria and then re-enter in Galilee (see map). Going through Samaria is a big deal – very uncomfortable for a Jewish Rabbi!

He rejected deeply ingrained prejudices – Samaritans

The Jews were rabidly prejudiced against the Samaritans. The Jewish Rabbi’s wrote: “Let no man eat the bread of the (Samaritans), for he who eats their bread is as he who eats swines’ flesh.” A popular Rabbinic prayer included this line: “And Lord, do not remember the Samaritans in the resurrection.”  In other words the Rabbi’s prayed for God to damn the Samaritans to hell!

When the Jews wanted to insult Jesus they drew upon the most degrading racial slur they could think of, they called him a Samaritan (John 8:48).

Jesus intentionally stepped outside the Jewish comfort zone because the gospel is for all people – even Samaritans! He intentionally went to people who had different beliefs and values because God had sent Him to the world!

He crossed long-standing cultural barriers – Women

Jesus spoke to her (7). This came as a shock to this woman from Samaria!  “How is that you, a Jew asks a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”

Rabbis were forbidden to speak to a woman in public, even their wife.  One Rabbinical law states: “It is better to burn the law then give it to a woman.”

Jesus not only spoke to this woman, but he asked to drink from her vessel.  To touch her water pot was to become ceremonially defiled.

Jesus demonstrates what Paul would later write to the Galatians,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)

The gospel bridges all divides, it destroys all barriers: Slave & free, male & female, Jew & Greek.  In Christ we are all one!  Someone has said that the ground at the foot of the cross is level, everyone must kneel at the same place if they wish to be forgiven.

LIVING WATER IS THE ONLY OFFER THAT MEETS THE REAL NEED (10-18)

Jesus saw her real need (10-14)

Wells in the ancient world was a social gathering place.  It was customary for people to come for water in the morning and in the evening… not at noon.   It seems this woman was intentionally avoiding contact with people. As we see in the following verses, this woman was a social outcast.

Her real need was not the water from Jacob’s well but the living water that only Christ could give her (10).  Physical water can never satisfy permanently!  Jesus reminded her of the obvious, “You will thirst again” (13).  The living water that Christ was offering however would satisfy the soul! Jesus tells her,  “You will never thirst again!” (14a)

The Living Water Jesus is speaking of is the free offer of salvation given through the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. This internal fountain of “living water” would continually overflow to eternal life. (14b)

Jesus pointed to her real problem (15-18)

It seems like an abrupt change of conversation.  The woman has just asked Christ to go ahead and give her the living water He was offering.  Suddenly Jesus said, “Go call your husband.”

Jesus confronts her, not to condemn her, but to help her face the problem that was keeping her from having her “thirst” quenched eternally.

“I don’t have a husband,” she replied.  Her answer was accurate but incomplete – this woman and her situation was well-known in the town. (17)

This woman was empty inside!  There is a euphoria when you “fall in love” but that will fade and replacing it is a steadier, growing deeper kind of love, intended to last a lifetime. She was trying to satisfy the deep thirst and aching emptiness of her soul with the euphoria of love. She was ruining her life trying to satisfy her inner thirst for love and acceptance.

People today are like women from Samaria – they are trying to fill the deep longing inside with success or sex or stuff or drinking/drugs – whatever, yet coming up empty again and again.

Pop music star Starr Lana Del Ray in Time Magazine:

“You know, I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry. But none of them helped me get my record deals. Which is annoying.”

Later in the article she indicates that she would like to die young:

Interviewer: Is early death glamorous?

“I don’t know. Ummm, yeah.”

Interviewer: Don’t say that

“I do! I don’t want to have to keep doing this. But I am.

Interviewer: Do what? Make Music?

“Everything. That’s just how I feel. If it wasn’t that way, then I wouldn’t say it. I would be scared if I knew [death] was coming, but …”

Jesus is saying to the woman from Samaria and Lana Del Ray and to you – the ONLY thing that will satisfy the thirst of your soul is the Living Water that I freely give! Seeking satisfaction from any other “well” will never satisfy your soul!

LIVING WATER PRODUCES WHAT GOD IS SEEKING (19-26)

Her question was irrelevant (19-21)

What is “worship”? The actions of men and women expressing homage to God because He is worthy of it! To bow down, to serve!

True worship is about a person not a place! (21).

“It is entirely possible to have religious experience and forms of worship that are not at all acceptable to God.” (Tozer)

Soon Jesus would be crucified and rise again for the sins of the world. Worship would no longer be centered in a location but would be centered in and through the person of Christ.

The NLT translates Romans 12:1 this way:

And so, dear brothers and sisters,* I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that the Holy Spirit lives in those who have received the living water:

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s

Her knowledge was incomplete (22)

Jesus pointed out that her understanding is mixed up with wrong ideas. The Samaritans had taken what they wanted from the Bible and rejected the rest. They added in a bit of idolatry and pagan practices.

The heresy of the Samaritans is alive today – people think they can pick out what they like to worship and reject what they do not like!

Salvation for the world would come through the Jews – the Messiah came through the Jews! The Scriptures came through the Jewish people. God’s promise of Messiah and redemption was repeated again and again through covenants to Adam, Abraham, and David.

You cannot worship unless you have been born again – regeneration precedes worship. You must partake of the living water to be a true worshipper.

Her worship was sought after by God Himself! (23-24)

Worship must come from the heart (spirit). God is looking at our heart, not simply our religious routines. God wants to be the consuming attention of our heart!

Mark 7:6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips,But their heart is far from Me.

Worship must be guided by the truth.  It is possible to be sincere, but wrong!

For nearly 2000 years it was believed that bleeding an ill patient would help with a speedy recovery.  The process was known as “bloodletting.”  The first president of the United States, George Washington asked to be bled heavily after he developed a throat infection from weather exposure. It is recorded that over a ten hour period, a total of 3.75 liters of blood was withdrawn from the President leading to his death in 1799.

Being sincere is not enough!  We are to worship wholeheartedly guided by truth!  God is actively searching for worshippers who will worship Him in spirit & truth! (23b)

Jn. 17:17… your word is truth.

CONCLUSION: (25-26)

Jesus utters a life-altering revelation: “I who speak to you am He!” (26)   With these words Jesus clearly, unmistakably and undeniably identified himself as the Messiah!

She believed! The woman rushed off to tell everyone that she had found Messiah. So convincing was her testimony that the whole town came to meet Jesus, and ultimately all the Samaritans in Sychar believed in Him. (39,41).

Three lessons concerning salvation:

  • You must be spiritually thirsty and realize it.
  • Confess and repent of your sin.
  • Accept Jesus as your deliverer who takes away your sin.

Anybody, anywhere can come to Christ – anytime! Christ in love has intentionally “passed through Samaria” to find you!  That emptiness inside can be filled permanently – living water!  Christ in love is reaching out to you today.

If you are reading this Bible Study and you have that deep aching thirst in your soul – please receive Christ right now!  Drink of the Living Water that will satisfy your soul today and forever!

Click the highlighted link to download a pdf version of Living Water For A Thirsty Soul Web.

John The Baptist’s Testimony About Jesus


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Our text today is found in John 3:22–36

In this passage, we are going to witness an episode which will require John the Baptist to comment upon Jesus. His testimony is included in this gospel to give us a full picture of who Jesus is.

The Setting—Jesus’s public ministry is expanding (John 3:22¬–24)

  1. His first miracle (John 2) followed additional signs (John 2:23)
  2. Cleansing the Temple (John 2)
  3. Interaction with religious leaders such as Nicodemus (John 3)
  4. Now at this point many people are aware of who he is, and his disciples are baptizing many new followers in Jesus’s name.

The Conflict—A Dispute About Washing (3:25–26)

Confusion about John’s practice of baptism and Jewish water purification rites: “An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing” (John 3:25)

  1. The Jews had practiced ritual bathing in water for religious purification for centuries (remember the stone water pots in John 2).
  2. But baptism was a new practice in this context and was, therefore, open to misunderstanding.
  3. What does it mean to baptize someone or to be baptized? It simply means to immerse someone in water (that’s why John was in a place with plenty of water 3:23).

What (if any) was the difference between the baptism of John and that of Jesus?

  1. People were baptized by John to indicate repentance from their sin in preparation for the coming Messiah. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt 3:11)
  2. People were baptized in Jesus name to indicate that they were now his followers and that they acknowledged him as the Messiah.
  3. We should recognize that since John’s ministry anticipated the coming of Jesus, it had a natural “expiration date” attached to it.

However, in this passage, there is an emphasis on what everyone sees as an emerging conflict between the ministries of John and of Jesus; John had been baptizing and now Jesus is baptizing and seems to be drawing away John’s followers. They came to John and said to him,

“Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (Jn 3:26)

John the Baptist’s Testimony of Jesus (3:27–36)

John humbly defers to the Messiah (vv. 27–28).

  1. Everything we have, including our station in life, comes from heaven—from God.
  2. John is emphatic that it is not he who is the Messiah. To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ (v. 28)

John illustrates his role with the picture of a wedding party.

“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” (v. 29)

John acknowledges his subordinate role to Jesus.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” (v. 30)

We may ask why this is so, that it is necessary for John’s ministry to be eclipsed by Jesus? John, the writer of this gospel (not John the Baptist), tells us why in the next paragraph.

Reflections on the Son of God from the gospel writer (vv. 31–36)

 Jesus has a divine origin (v. 31)

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He is from above—from Heaven where God dwells. John, on the other hand, is from the earth and is encumbered with the limitations of being a creature. The fact that Jesus is from Heaven indicates his superiority over all; he is not a creature like we are.

 Jesus has a divine testimony (vv. 32–34)

1. His testimony is first-hand (v. 32a)

Jesus testifies to what he has seen and heard in heaven.

“He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.” (v. 32)

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.” (John 3:13)

2. His testimony is often rejected (v. 32b)

John points out how few people accept as true what Jesus said. Jesus himself made a similar observation earlier:

“Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” (John 3:11)

3. His testimony is truthful (vv. 33–34)

Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

“Jesus so completely says and does all that God says and does, and only what God says and does (e.g. 5:19–30; 6:37–40; 8:29), that to believe Jesus is to believe God. Conversely, not to believe Jesus is to call God a liar (cf. 12:44–50; 1 Jn. 5:10).” (Don Carson, The Gospel According to John, p. 213)

In the Old Testament, the prophets who spoke on behalf of God were given the ministry of the Spirit according to their need. But upon Jesus, John says, God gave the Spirit without measure.

Jesus is the divine Son of God (vv. 35–36)

35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

  1. He enjoys a special father-son relationship with God.
  2. He has been given authority from his Father.
  3. How you and I respond to Jesus determines our relationship with God the Father.

Thoughts for Personal Application

This paragraph concludes with a powerful promise as well as a sober warning.

The Promise:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (v. 36a) If you have accepted as true what Jesus says and have placed your whole confidence in him, then you can be certain that you possess eternal life.

  1. Eternal life means that physical death for you is no longer the door to judgment.
  2. Eternal life means a restored relationship between you and God now and in eternity.
  3. Fear is replaced by confidence in God and certainty of his love and care for you.

The Warning:

“Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (v. 36b)

Maybe you are asking, how is it fair for God to be angry with me if I choose not to believe Jesus?

1. The answer goes back to a proper understanding of who Jesus is, to the inseparable relationship between him and the Father.

2. Because Jesus is God’s Son and has been given God’s authority, rejecting him is the same as rejecting God the Father.

Come to Jesus to find eternal life. Jesus is the only way to God, so come to him with your whole confidence.

Download John the Baptist’s Testimony of Jesus as a .pdf.

You Can Study The Bible For Yourself! Here’s How


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You can study the Bible for yourself!

The Word of God is powerful in its affect upon our life (Heb 4:12) and the Word of God is profitable for every aspect of our life! (2 Tim 3:15-17).  Something that powerful and profitable is worth the investment of time in learning how to study it in order to glean the benefits for your own life!

Here are a few pointers I’ve picked up from various sources that have proved helpful in my own study of God’s Word.

Remember the three “big-ideas” for Bible Study:  Observation, Interpretation, Application.

OBSERVATION:

This answers the question: What does the passage say?

Discover Facts – Ask questions of the text:

  • Who? Who is speaking, being spoken to or talked about?
  • What? What is happening, what are they talking about?
  • When? When did this happen, when will it happen?
  • Where? Where was this said, where did it or will it happen?
  • Why? Why did this need to be written? Why did they do this, say this etc.
  • How? How is it done? How did it happen, How is this truth illustrated?

LET’S PRACTICE: John 7:1

  • Who is this about?
  • What was He doing?
  • Where was He walking?
  • Why was He not in Judea?
  • When was this taking place?
  • How – NA

Identify repeated words or ideas

  • List the important repeated words
  • List the important repeated ideas
  • List everything you have learned about these repeated words or ideas

HELPFUL HINT!
Repeated words and phrases reveal the subject – the main thing the author is talking about.
The more a word is repeated, the more obvious it becomes that that word is a subject. The more that subject is repeated, the more obvious it becomes that the subject represents a theme.

Once you determine what the author is talking about you can determine his main purpose for writing! This is called the theme.

INTERPRETATION:

This answers the question: What does the passage mean?

When seeking to determine the meaning always remember that context rules – what comes before and after the passage you are studying? To take something out of context is when you make it say something that is contrary to the teaching of the passage? ILL: Passage about the Pharisees made to teach of how bad living in sin is. (Lk 15)

Define unfamiliar words

Use a Bible dictionary as well as an English dictionary.

Check out other Scriptures

Is your interpretation consistent with other Scriptures? Are there any other passage that talks about the same subject? (Acts 20:27)(Cross-reference, Online Bible program has an easy cross-reference feature.)

Interpret literally

Take the Word of God at face value, in its natural, normal sense.

  • What was the author’s intended meaning?
  • Are there any cultural or historical considerations?

APPLICATION

This answers the question: How does this passage apply to me?

  • Is there an example for me to follow?
  • Is there a sin for me to avoid?
  • Is there a prayer for me to repeat?
  • Is there a command for me to obey?
  • Is there a condition for me to meet?
  • Is there a lesson for me to learn?
  • Is there a verse for me to memorize?
  • Is there an error for me to avoid?
  • Is there a challenge for me to face?

Read with a purpose:

You must ask the 5 W’s and an H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How.

Who wrote it? Who said it? Who are the major characters? Who are the people mentioned? To whom is the author speaking? About whom is he speaking?

What are the main events? What are the major ideas? What are the major teachings? What are these people like? What does he talk about the most? What is his purpose in saying that?

When was it all written? When did this event take place? When will it happen? When did he say it? When did he do it?

Where was this done? Where was this said? Where will it happen?

Why was there a need for this to be written? Why was this mentioned? Why was so much or so little space devoted to this event or teaching? Why was this reference mentioned? Why should the do such and such?

How is it done? How did it happen? How is this truth illustrated?

These questions are the building blocks of precise observation which lay a solid foundation for accurate interpretation. If you rush into interpretation without laying the vital foundation of observation, your understanding becomes colored by your own presuppositions – what YOU think, what YOU feel, or what OTHER people have said. If you do this you distort the Scriptures to your own destruction – something we are specifically warned against (II Peter 3:16).

So grab your Bible, a pen and notebook and practice these three simple suggestions!  You will be amazed the truths that will be opened to you! (John 16:13).

You Must Be Born Again


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You may be the man in our story today!  His name? Nicodemus. He was a sincere, honorable man, respected among his peers, having committed his life to serve God. Yet for all those admirable qualities Nicodemus was spiritually dead, living in darkness… condemned.

This story should make each one of use face the sobering reality that if Nicodemus was lost – then each one of us would be wise to evaluate our own life, because we may be just like him!

This is my prayer: that you will pause right now and ask God over the next few minutes as we look at this text to show you if you are Nicodemus.

This text – John 3:1-21 – is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament! The conversation that Jesus had one evening in Jerusalem contains what has become the best known verse in the world; John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

We begin by acknowledging THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MAIN CHARACTER – NICODEMUS (1)

He was religious

The Pharisees were theological conservatives within Judaism. They were known as guardians of truth, defenders of orthodoxy. They did not deny cardinal doctrines like the resurrection as their counterparts the Sadducees did (Luke 20:27).

The Pharisees were biblical separatists who held Scripture as the rule of faith and practice. As defenders of the Torah (God’s Law) the Pharisees developed what many saw as a very helpful system to guide new converts and old alike who might struggle to otherwise apply God’s law and precepts to everyday life. this practical guide to life was known as the Talmud. This is often called the “tradition of the fathers” (Mark 7:3-5).

He was very respected

Nicodemus was a ‘Ruler of the Jews’. This refers to his membership in the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was made up of 70 leaders after the example of Moses’ elders in the wilderness. This group was made up of the High Priest, elders and teachers of the law and held a limited degree of power and autonomy under King Herod.

In verse 10 Nicodemus is referred to as “the teacher in Israel” which may indicate that he was the lead teacher among the Pharisees.  Regardless, he was a respected influential insider! (see John 7:50)

He was reaching out for answers

Nicodemus was intellectually honest – “we know you are a teacher come from God…” He wanted to find out who Jesus was and what he was really believed. So he came to meet Jesus at night – perhaps he did not wish to openly be seen inquiring of Jesus so that he could escape uncomfortable questions that might be asked. Whatever the reason for the time of the meeting, his heart burned with questions that he wanted answered.

THE MESSAGE JESUS PREACHED TO NICODEMUS IS THE MESSAGE YOU MUST HEAR AND UNDERSTAND! (2-13)

You must be born again! (3-8)

Jesus statement to Nicodemus cut through all formalities and small talk and drove straight to the heart of what Nicodemus was searching for.  Jesus introduced in no uncertain terms the new birth!  Jesus made it clear that this is new birth:

  • is extremely urgent!
  • is an unequivocal command!
  • is a non-negotiable necessity!

Jesus also points out to him that the new birth is something that had not yet happened to Nicodemus.

The new birth is a spiritual birth, not a physical one. Without it no one will not enter the kingdom of God (5).  This birth is produced by the work of the Holy Spirit of God.  Just as you did not produce yourself physically, you do not produce yourself spiritually. It is a mysterious work of the Holy Spirit. (6-8)

There are those who teach that the phrase, “born of water” (5) refers to baptism, but we know that this cannot possibly be true because in the following verse (6) Jesus clarifies exactly what he is talking about: “that which is born of the flesh (water) is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Bottom line is this:  If you want to enter the Kingdom of God, you must be born physically and you must be born a second time, this time spiritually!  So how does one go through this second birth?

You must believe in Jesus (9-13)

The issue is believing! The word “believe” is used 7 times in this brief text. You must be born again and you are born again by believing something!  You are born again by faith alone.

This testimony is reliable because Jesus is the one testifying (11-13).  Nicodemus had to believe Christ’s testimony regarding the new birth, and so must you or you will never enter the Kingdom of God!

THE ILLUSTRATION OF SAVING FAITH THAT GIVES US NEW LIFE (14-15)

Illustration was something very familiar to Nicodemus (Num. 21:4-9)

Nicodemus was a teacher of the law! He particularly knew the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah, or “the Law”.  Jesus reached back into the Torah and pointed to an event that would illustrate the importance of the new birth.  This illustration became a window that shined light on the truth that Jesus was explaining and that Nicodemus was struggling with.

The illustration provided a visual explanation of the faith required to be born again. You can find the full account of what Jesus is referring to in Numbers chapter 21.  Here is the story in outline form.

  • The Sin – Complaining (Num. 21:4-5)
  • The Sentence – Death!  Poisonous snakes were sent into the camp by God and many were bitten and died. (Num. 21:6). Sin is a poison that flows through your veins and it is killing you.
  • The Solution – Look and Live (Num. 21:7-9). The people cried out to God acknowledging their sin and asked God to reverse the curse of snakes in the camp.  God instructed Moses to make a snake of bronze, tie it to a pole and lift it up on the highest point in the camp.  anyone feeling the affects of sin and would look at the replica of the snake on the pole would live!

It is clear that these people were in trouble and could not do anything to save themselves from  certain death!  God must intervene.  And he did!

It is the same for you today! God must provide the solution, God must open your ears to hear the message, God must draw you to receive the message.

Here is the point of Jesus’ Old Testament illustration. You are responsible: You must hear the message, you must believe the message, you must respond to the message!

William Ogden captured this truth in this poem written in 1887:

I’ve a message full of love, hallelujah!
 A message, O my friend, for you,
’ Tis a message from above, hallelujah!
 Jesus said it, and I know ’tis true.

Life is offered unto you, hallelujah! 
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
 If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!
 Look to Jesus who alone can save.

I will tell you how I came, hallelujah!
 To Jesus when He made me whole—
’Twas believing on His name, hallelujah! 
I trusted and He saved my soul.

Look and live today!

Illustration requires personal application (15)

Just as Moses lifted up the snake on the pole, even so MUST the Son of Man be lifted up. The lifting up of Christ on the cross was necessary for us to be born again! Why?

  • Because you have sinned
  • Because you are sentenced to death! God is just – his judgement will fall upon you for your sin.
  • Because if you want to live – you must look to Him!

THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL (16)

  • For God – the greatest lover
  • So loved – the greatest degree
  • The world – the greatest number
  • That He gave – the greatest act
  • His only begotten Son – the greatest gift
  • That whosoever – the greatest invitation
  • Believes – the greatest simplicity
  • In Him – the greatest Person
  • Should not perish – the greatest deliverance
  • But – the greatest difference
  • Have – the greatest certainty
  • Everlasting life – the greatest possession (Copied)

CONDEMNED OR NOT CONDEMNED – WHICH ONE ARE YOU? (17-21)

God’s purpose for sending his Son is to save you (17)

The poison of sin is killing you – the wages of sin is death! God’s love for you was so great He chose to sacrifice His own Son so that He could rescue you!

Romans 5:8 – God demonstrated His love to you in that while you were still a sinner Christ died for you!

If you do not believe in Jesus you are condemned – judged guilty! (18-21)

Jesus Christ did not come to condemn us, we are “condemned already”, Jesus came to save us!  To provide the means by which the Spirit of God can birth us into the family of God!

So let’s look at it from the perspective of someone who is condemned as we conclude our study.

  • Refusal to look to Jesus and live means its only a matter of time before you realize the awful reality of your condemnation. (18)
  • Refusal to look to Jesus means that you love darkness instead of light, your evil deeds are more precious to you than life! (19)
  • Refusal to look to Jesus means that you refuse to expose your evil deeds to the light so that they can be dealt with! (20). Like a cockroach that scurries for the darkest corner your comfort zone is hiding and darkness where you can practice your sin in secret.
  • Refusal to look to Jesus means you have embraced the lie instead of the truth (21a) Nicodemus believed in Jesus (19:39)

Here is the final question to take away from this study: Are you Nicodemus?

He was trying to live a good and religious life that would be pleasing to God but he had never been born again spiritually! His faith was in his standing at his “church”, his reputation as a Bible teacher, his good works as a Pharisee – but he was not looking in faith to Jesus.

Nicodemus was invited to look to Jesus and live!

You Must Be Born Again!  Are you?

If you desire help with answering this question please get in touch philhunt66 (at) gmail.com or in the Kitwe area on cell 0976153466.

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Three Things You Must Learn About Jesus


Three_Things_About_Jesus

A businessman seeking professional counsel was asked by his counselor to describe his life. He said, “I have come to the end of my life; I have climbed the ladder of success to the top only to realize that my ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall.”

The passage under consideration this morning is found in John 2:13-25.  Jesus has traveled from Cana in Galilee some 14km to the city of Capernaum.  Capernaum is called “the City of Jesus” because it seems that he used it as a staging area, a home base for his ministry when in the Galilee.

But now Jesus is on the move with thousands of other people toward Jerusalem.  A new year has dawned and the most important feast of the year is scheduled to take place: Passover.

From this account there are three things that you must learn about Jesus.  These truths will bring our lives into focus in relationship with God!  None of us want to climb the ladder only to realize it was leaning against the wrong wall!

HIS PASSION IS ALL-CONSUMING (13-17)

Note the CONTEXT (13)

Place: Jesus traveled from Capernaum in Galilee south to Jerusalem

Time: This is the first month of the year on the Jewish calendar, the month Nissan.  Passover is celebrated the evening of 14th Nissan which corresponds to April/May on our calendars.

Event: The Passover Celebration.  The story of Passover is found in Exodus chapter 12. The people were to take the lamb into their house to live with them from the 10th-14th Nissan.  On the evening of the 14th they were to kill the lamb and put the blood on the doors and lintel of their home.  The home is carefully inspected and cleansed from all leaven.  From the 14th-21st Nissan the feast of unleavened bread is observed. All of this served as a reminder that each person must carefully inspect their life for sin because the Lamb had given his blood so that judgement would pass over them.

Three_Things_About_Jesus

Place: Temple.  Every year all males aged 12+ were to travel to Jerusalem and present themselves at the Temple to make sacrifice and pay the temple tax of 1/2 Shekel. Some estimate that in Jesus’ day there were over 2million people in Jerusalem during passover.

The Temple was a holy place set aside for the special purpose of worship to the God of Israel.  It was the place where God came down in all His glory in the Holy of Holies on the Ark of the Covenant to dwell among his people.

1 Kings 8:10-11
10 And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

The Temple was also the place where atonement was made for the sins the people through the sacrificial system of lambs, oxen and doves.  Blood was shed as a reminder of the severity of sin.  God would see the repentance of his people and accept the blood sacrifice, thus withholding his punishment for their sins.

And the Temple was the place where the “nations” were invited to witness reverent worship of the one true God and a place where they were invited to reject their false gods and accept God.

But there is a PROBLEM (14)

The problem is two-fold. First the people had lost the perspective of the majesty and holiness of God.  It was much like it had been for the past 400 years.  The Prophet Malachi had written the last words of God to His people:

Malachi 1:11
For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

The second problem was that they had perverted the place of worship using it for their own selfish agendas and for economic advancement.  The Temple had been to a market where they were consumed with business at the expense of worshippers. One commentator says they were charging 700% profit on doves.

The Temple tax could only be paid with “clean” Temple money.  Those who traveled to Jerusalem from Roman held territories were required to exchange their currency for Shekels.  Moneychangers were making a killing on exchange rates.

Later in His ministry when Jesus cleansed this Temple for the second time it is recorded:

Matthew 21:12-13
12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

Worshippers were required to have their sacrificial animals inspected and certified as “clean”.  Official Kosher inspectors were in league with the animal sellers and profits were soaring. The high priest had his hand in the business by selling franchises for money exchange booths and animal sale stalls.

And all of this was taking place in the court of the Gentiles! This was where Gentiles were welcomed to observe the worship of the one true God!

The problem was one of idolatry.  The people were motivated by covetous greed!

Colossians 3:5
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Note Christ’s RESPONSE (15-17)

First it was a response of anger.  Christ made a whip and drove them and their livestock off the Temple Mount.  He then turned on the money changers and threw over their tables!  He was angry for the glory of God.

Anger is a divinely implanted emotion. Closely allied to our instinct for right, it is designed to be used for constructive spiritual purposes. The person who cannot feel anger at evil is a person who lacks enthusiasm for good. If you cannot hate wrong, it’s very questionable whether you really love righteousness. – Dr. David Seamands

Jesus’ anger was fueled by His love for God (17).  What makes you angry says a lot about what you love.

Psalm 69:9
Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

Second it was a response of authority! Jesus referred to the temple as “my Father’s house.” He commanded them to clean the place up, to remove the doves… and they did!

LESSONS:

  • God demands reverence from those who worship Him.
  • God will not share worship with anyone or anything else!
  • God is “inflexibly righteous as well as infinitely gracious.” AW Pink

HIS POWER IS UNDENIABLE (18-21)

Un-belief demands a sign (18)

Jesus had just cleaned out the temple.  This was something they knew was right the right thing to do, and something they themselves were responsible for.  They asked for a sign of His authority.  Jesus pointed them to His own death and resurrection.  They misunderstood his words and dismissed them.  After He rose from the dead they tried to cover up and instructed the soldiers to lie and say that disciples had stolen the body.

Resurrection is the undeniable sign (19-22)

He would lay down his life and take it up again on Passover three years later.

John 10:17-18
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.
18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

This would be the ultimate sign of His supreme authority.  His Disciples would remember these words and believe the Scripture and the words that Jesus taught. (22).

Though Jesus was speaking of His body, the physical temple was destroyed in 70AD when Rome sacked Jerusalem and tore down the Temple.  Since that time God has not dwelt in a place, rather He has dwelt in a body!  If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation YOU ARE the temple of God!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

HIS PERSPECTIVE IS ABSOLUTE (23-25)

There is a faith that does not save (23)!

We see that demonstrated by the masses in Jerusalem. Mental assent to undeniable facts is not saving faith.  The people believed He was Messiah but they did not receive Him as Messiah.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

If you believe that the historical Jesus is God, if you believe He is Messiah that alone makes you no different than the Devils.

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Jesus knows what is in your heart (24-25)

Jesus will not commit Himself to those who are not coming to Him in absolute surrender.  If you come for any other reason than to save you from your sins and you will find that He will not commit Himself to you.  He knows your heart and mind.

LESSONS:

  • Seeing is not necessarily believing
  • Mental assent to undeniable facts is not saving faith
  • God knows the hearts and minds of all men
  • Faith includes knowing something & receiving Someone!

 

There are three possible responses to Jesus – we see them in this text:

  • The Jews (18). They asked for a sign = unbelief.
  • The People (23). Majority of people saw the signs and believed He was Messiah = intellectual faith.
  • The Disciples (21). Recognized the sign and believed = saving faith.  Their believing involved not only their intellect, but also their will and emotions.  They were willing to give their life for it!

 

You may be reading this Bible study and you have saving faith – the question for you to take away is this:  Is your temple clean?

Make sure that at the end of your life you don’t find your ladder leaning against the wrong wall! Become a disciple of Jesus Christ today through saving faith!

Here is the .pdf download of Three Things About Jesus Web.