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There is so much
to weep about in our world recently. Bad things happen as surely as night follows day. (John 16:33) It seems as though our country–along with most other parts of the world–has been experiencing one very long night. Will the violence and human pain never end? Yet for those who find their eternal hope in our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13), Scripture carries the promise of a bright day to follow each and every dark night: “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” — (Psalm 30:5).”
Christians know this biblical promise of God is true, because Christ has already deposited within them the fountain of life and joy–his Holy Spirit (John 7:38; Ephesians 1:13). And this fountain of joy and life is eternal; it can never be quenched no matter how much external circumstances say otherwise. And so we sing–
” “Spring up, O well! — Sing to it!”
This is a reprint from 2016.
No Virtue Will Get You In! No Defect Will Keep You Out!
Do you have a Bible study you attend regularly? Either at a church, a group, or online? If not, you are not alone.
There are many reasons why a person hungry to learn more about God’s word cannot attend a Bible study, one of the most likely being that they cannot find one or the ones available to them meet at the wrong time or the wrong place. This doesn’t mean that you cannot learn the Bible–you can! I’m going to give you a simple way to begin studying at home. It is called a Word Study or Topical Study.
Always pray and ask God to help you know him more and to help you obey and apply what he shows you. All teaching from God begins and ends and is through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, God himself, breathing his life into his word as he shows it to you inside your heart, the best knowledge of God’s word will only be dead knowledge.
Pray that God will lead you to the right Bible for you at this time in your life.
Pray that God will direct you to the right verses that he wants you to study.
Pray that God will help you to understand and apply what you read.
2. Second, buy yourself a reference Bible.
You may have one already. What is a reference Bible? A reference Bible is not necessarily a study Bible. A reference Bible is a Bible that simply has a list of other verses in a center column, or a side column, or at the foot of the page.
You can see from the example above that the text on the left has verse numbers that correspond to a list of verse numbers running down the middle of the page between the two columns of scripture.
Verse 33 at the top of the page, for example, has a small, italicized letter a before the word “teach.” “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes.” That’s what the Lord is doing right now. He is teaching you how to study Scripture.
The center column has the number “33” corresponding to the verse you just read. There is a small letter “a” followed by “Ps 119.5, 12.” This means that if you turn to Psalm 119 verses 5 and then 12, you will find more verses that use the word “teach.”
Psalm 119:12 Blessed art Thou, O LORD; Teach me Thy statutes.
Verse 36, which is underlined, has the small letter “a” before the word “incline.”
Psalm 119:36 Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.
Turning to the center column, the number “36” is followed by a small “a” and the reference “1Ki 8:58.” Looking up that verse we see:
1 Kings 8:58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.
When we read the above verse, we see that it begins half way through a sentence. To get the full meaning, we need to go up a verse to the beginning of the sentence, and we read:
1 Kings 8:57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, 58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.
Perhaps a small desk dictionary might be useful here to understand the meaning of “incline” in this sentence. This is from Merriam-Webster.
1 :to cause to stoop or bow :bend
2 :to have influence on :persuade
- his love of books inclined him toward a literary career3 :to give a bend or slant to
Putting this together, we see that the psalmist in Psalm 119:36 is asking the Lord in prayer to “incline” or bend, that is, to persuade his heart to prefer obedience to the Lord’s way rather than preferring to spend his time trying to get rich. 1 Kings tells us that when God is with us, he does just that. The psalmist is praying to God, asking God to influence his heart to prefer the Lord’s way above the way of the materialistic world. This tells us that we are not alone, that God is the one who influences us to desire him and his word.
How might a reader apply this verse to her own life? Does she sense that her heart is growing cold towards the Lord? She should turn to the Lord and ask him to help her. Do someone else find that worldly interests of career and money are drawing their attention away from God? They should turn to him, just as the psalmist does, and ask God to help them, to influence their heart and the things their heart desires.
What I have showed today is very simple. The more you practice looking up the little verses in the reference column, the better you will become at it.
Also, you will soon see that the Bible is a unified whole. It connects and teaches the same message in each of its individual parts. Each part repeats in a different setting what the other parts are also saying.
Further, you will be studying topics, such as love, light, truth, life, faith and any of the other Christian words you can think of.
Your beginning point will be a single verse. For example,
John 3:16 “For God so (a) loved the world, that He (b) gave His (1)(c) only begotten Son, that whoever (d)believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Looking up the verses in the reference column for each one of the letters in parentheses gives us the following list:
(a) loved the world Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4; 2Th 2:16; 1Jo 4:10; Rev 1:5
(b) gave Rom 8:32; 1Jo 4:9
(c) only begotten Son Joh 1:18; Joh 3:18; 1Jo 4:9
(d) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life Joh 3:36; Joh 6:40; Joh 11:25f. (The letter “f” here means “forward.” That is, read John 11:25 and keep reading, since there are more verses that continue on the same topic.)
(1) While letters refer to verses, numbers refer to notes by the editors or translators of the particular Bible you may have. Here the (1) says the following, “unique, only one of His kind.” That is what the translators or editors are saying about the word “only begotten.”
I guarantee that by the time you have looked up all the above verses, you will have a good idea of the topic of God’s love to all people in the world!
1 Of David. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits–
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, my soul.
Reader Challenge: As you read through this portion of Scripture, John chapters 7 and 8 (see link just below), try to answer the question found in the title of this blog–What is the problem that the enemies of Jesus have that prevents them from seeing Christ for who he actually is?
Week 8 Part 2 John 7:1-8:59 Focus–Jesus Confronts His Enemies
John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Summary of Chapter 7 (based upon Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 30-31)
The Galilean Ministry has ended. Jesus has retired to the northern regions of the country. After six months, he returns again to Judea for the Later Judean Ministry and the feast of Tabernacles.
1. John 7:1-13 His blood brothers, not yet believers, (see Acts 1:14 for their later belief) attempt sarcastically to entice him to go to the feast with them. Jesus refuses, but later goes up “not publicly, but in secret” (vs 10). In the meantime, at the feast, the “Jews” are murmuring about where “that man” might be, while the crowds call him a “good man” They are all afraid to say anything openly, for fear of the religerati©.
2. John 7:14 Halfway through the feast, Jesus goes up to the temple and begins to teach. He causes a stir.
ESV John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
3. John 7:15-52 The people react.
a. The “Jews” are generally skeptical and oppositional (15, 20, 35-36).
b. The crowd is divided–some derisive and some more or less open (vss 12, 20, 25-27, 31, 40-44).
c. The Pharisees sent guards to arrest him (32, 45-52).
d. The guards sent to arrest him are dumfounded with awe-filled amazement at the manner in which Jesus spoke while teaching (32, 45-46).
e. Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees who had personally gone to inquire of Jesus (John 3:1-12), speaks up in defense of the law, a fairly safe and noncommittal way to defend Jesus himself (50, 51).
Summary of Chapter 8 (based on Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 68-69)
1. John 7:53-8:11 Discussion among experts is inconclusively split concerning whether or not this section should be included in Scripture.
This is the highly popular and famous scene in which Jesus loves unto salvation a woman caught “in the act of adultery.” The great contrast is between the non-judgmental (yet highly aware) love of Jesus versus the callous condemnation and deceitfulness of the “teachers of the laws and the Pharisees.”
Scene: the temple courts the following day (1-2)
Jesus: [Theme 1–the light] “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (12) [JESUS’ SECOND GREAT “I AM” IN JOHN] (Light of the World: 1:4,5,7,8-9; 3:19, 20, 21; 8:12; 9:5; 11:9, 10; 12:35, 36; 12:46)
Pharisees: “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” (13)
Jesus: [Theme 2–Sent by God] The [my] Father sent me (7:28; 8:14b, 15, 16, 17, 18, 26, 49-50; 5:31, 5:38)
Pharisees: They don’t get it–they remain literalistic and concrete; their scope is narrowly focused on the physical, carnal world only.
• “Where is your father?” (8:19) [slanderous insinuation]
• “You, who are you?” (8:25) [scornful disdain]
• “They did not recognize that he spoke to them of the Father.” (8:27) [ignorance born of prejudice]
The Crowd of Religious People: “While he was saying these things, many believed in him.” (8:30) [mental agreement only, quickly changing to disdain–8:31, 33, 39, 41, 44, 48, 52, 53, 57, 59] [see also The Parable of the Sower, especially vss 5-6 and 20-21]
Jesus: [Theme 3–The Son of Man to be lifted up] “When you will have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he.” (3:14-16; 8:28; 12:32-33) [Also, Theme 6–I AM]
Jesus: [Theme 4–Truth] “If you remain [abide] in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (8:31-32; 1:9, 14, 17; 3:21, 33; 4:18, 23, 24, 37; 5:31, 32, 33, 45; 6:32; 7:18, 28; 8:13, 14, 16, 17, 26, 32, 40, 44, 45, 46)
The [Supposedly] Believing Crowd of Religious People: “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (8:33)
Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father, your father] “I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” (8:38) “If you are Abraham’s children, you are doing the works of Abraham. But now you are seeking to kill, me, a man who has been telling you the truth which I heard from God. This Abraham did not do. You are doing the works of your father.” (8:39-40)
The [by now] Non-believing Crowd of Religious People: “Abraham is our father.” (8:39) “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.” (8:41)
Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father God, your father the devil] “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me (8:42) [Also Theme 2–Sent by God]. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (8:44) “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (8:47)
The [now] Hostile Crowd of Religious People: “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” (8:53)
Jesus: [Theme 2–Sent by God] “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.” (8:54-55)
Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father, your father] “Your father Abraham [according to the flesh] rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (8:56)
The Hostile Crowd of Religious People: “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (8:57)
Jesus: [Theme 6–I AM] “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (8:58)
The Hostile Crowd of Religious People: [Theme 7–Jesus’ Enemies want to kill him] So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (8:59; 5:18; 7:1, 19, 20, 25; 8:37, 40)
So how did we do in the Reader Challenge? (see top of post)
Hint: What is the one thing that Jesus had that none of his enemies had? L-O-V-E.
1. See Jesus’ many miracles:
• water to wine demonstrates compassion for a groom, his bride, and the parents (2:1-11)
• healing the nobleman’s son demonstrates love for a social class not his own (4:46-54)
• healing the paralyzed man demonstrates Jesus’ love for the outwardly weak and defeated, the unattractive and unlovely (5:1-9)
• healing the paralyzed man on a Sabbath demonstrates Jesus’ (and God’s) love for people above an overly zealous and ungodly love for human religious tradition
• feeding the 5,000 people demonstrates love for people’s physical needs 6:1-15
2. Jesus’ actions demonstrate love:
• cleansing the temple demonstrates love for God and for God’s house of prayer (2:13-22)
• Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus demonstrates love for potentially hostile people (3:1-21)
• Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well and his long visit in her village demonstrates his love for ethnic and religious classes not his own (Jesus was Jewish by human birth) (4:4-43)
• Jesus’ long discourses with his enemies in chapters 6, 7, and 8 demonstrate his love for those who hate them
• These same discourses demonstrate Jesus’ love for God in his willingness that none should go without hearing the gospel of salvation, even those whom he knows will use this gospel against him in order to kill him
3. Lack of love prevented Jesus’ enemies for recognizing that Jesus was a good man.
Yet, even without LOVE, two other attributes would have worked to help these blind enemies of Christ: KNOWLEDGE and OBEDIENCE
John 7:17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
obedience–if anyone’s will is to do God’s will
knowledge–he will know
Obedience–John 7:19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”
John 7:23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?
Knowledge–John 7:27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”
Obedience and Knowledge–John 7:49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” [The chief priests and Pharisees do not obey the law that they claim to know.]
Knowledge and Obedience–John 8:4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” … John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. [In their claimed knowledge of the Law, the Pharisees test Jesus to see if he will deny the love for common folk, which he often displays, or deny his obedience to the Law of Moses. Jesus’ outwits them by causing them to recognize their own guilt of disobedience.
Knowledge and Obedience–John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. [The religious leaders did not know God, nor did they obey him. They dishonored God by dishonoring his Sent One–Christ.]
Summary: If they had known God and wanted to obey him, they would have investigated Jesus’ claim of being God’s Son with an open mind and an open heart, given that God backed up Jesus’ claims with astounding miracles, and that Jesus taught with astounding teaching. If these Pharisees had sought to honor God (to know, obey, and love him), they would have fairly investigated Jesus’ claims, as Nicodemus, who was one of them, apparently did. Seeking to do God’s will (obedience), they would have discovered (knowledge) that Jesus truly was who he claimed to be. Knowledge of God and his Son leads to love for both. So, in love, they would have honored God by honoring the Son. They did none of these, thereby showing that they had neither knowledge of God, nor a heart of obedience towards him, nor did they have the love of God in their hearts. Jesus told them flat out that they had none of these because they were not “of God” but of their father, the devil (8:44).
Week 7 Part 2 John 6:22-71: Focus–Jesus Was Sent by God the Father and Endorsed by Him
(Link to Outline of John)
John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Faith Has Its Perfect Response