The Disciple whom Jesus loved (John)

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.” Luke 9:51-56 ESV

While reading and meditating on Luke during the week, this was one of the accounts that stood out to me. Amidst Peter’s confession of Christ, the Transfiguration, and the cost of following Jesus is this seemingly random insertion of a story. But as we well know there’s no such thing as a chance story. Everything Jesus did during his ministry had a purpose. Everything the gospel writers recorded were also therefore purposeful. Here in Luke 9 we see that James and John want to call down fire on the Samaritans for not receiving Jesus. Perhaps it was because they had just witnessed the Transfiguration and venerated Christ all the more so they were more incensed than usual that the Samaritans rejected Jesus. Perhaps they knew there were instances where Old Testament prophets called down fire. It was probably both. But when I read this account you know what I see? I see a vengeful, racist man. He was vengeful for a slight against his Lord and seemed to be just a little too eager to wipe out the Samaritans which was probably a result of his and many other Jews’ hatred of the Samaritans.

But what’s even more amazing? This man is called the Apostle of Love. Later when writing his own gospel account this man tells of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. This is a changed man.

So there’s my introduction for the author of John. And now for the book. John is the fourth and last of the Gospel accounts and focuses on Christ’s deity. While Mark begins with Jesus’ ministry and Matthew and Luke begin with His birth, John begins at creation. The first verse is this “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

As mentioned before the purpose of the gospel of John is to show Christ’s deity. We see this in seven “I am” statements throughout the book:

  • “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)
  • “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12)
  • “I am the door” (John 10:7)
  • “I am the good shepherd”  (John 10:11)
  • “I am the  resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
  • “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6)
  • “I am the vine” (John 15:1)

In his statement in John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am”,  Jesus is making a claim to full deity. Not only does He claim to have existed before Abraham, but He takes for Himself the sacred name of God. The is the point of John: Jesus is the exclusive savior, greater than Moses and Abraham, God in the flesh, and we are to believe in Him.

“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:30-31 ESV

We can divide John into 5 key sections:

  1. Beginnings (John 1)
  2. Miracles (John 2-11:46)
    – 
    Turning water into wine in John 2
    – Healing the nobleman’s son in John 4:46-54
    – Healing the sick man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5
    – Feeding the 5,000 in John 6:1-14
    – Walking on water in John 6:15-21
    – Healing the blind man in John 9
    – Raising Lazarus from the grave in John 11 
  3. Final week and teachings (John 11:47-17:26)
  4. Betrayal, trial, and death (John 18-19)
  5. Resurrection (John 20-21)

The Gospel of John is about Christ and His deity. He is the main character and the focus should be on Him. As Christians Jesus Christ is the object of our affections and we delight in the Gospel of John because it is about Him. At the same time, the Gospel of John was written by the apostle John. It was written by a man that we see elsewhere as brash and bigoted. A man who is one of the sons of thunder, a pair of brothers known to give in to a wild and thunderous anger. But through the years of being with Jesus and learning with Jesus ultimately culminating in seeing his Savior die on the cross, John changed. He became the disciple whom Jesus loved.

Be Strong and Courageous (Joshua)

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:6-9

In the books prior, God had delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery, disciplined them in the wilderness, and brought them to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But here in Joshua, the story begins thus: Moses just died at the door step of the promised land and Joshua has been tasked with leading the people into the land. For so far the people had been brought to the land but never entered it for fear of its inhabitants (Deuteronomy 1:28). After the Israelites react with fear, not trusting God’s deliverance, God promises that they would never see it, at least the current generation (Deuteronomy 1:35).

Now 500 years after God’s covenant with Abraham, his descendants finally settle into the land and make it theirs. The book begins with God calling Joshua to be strong, courageous and most importantly obedient. The book ends with Joshua’s death and the Israelites happily serving God in the land He gave them. One of the end scenes is captured in Joshua 24:21, during a covenant renewal ceremony.

To give a high level overview of the book, we can break all 24 chapters down into two parts:

Joshua 1-12, Joshua and Israel conquer the land

Joshua 13-24, Joshua divides up the land between the tribes.

Pretty straightforward this book marks the end of an age for Israel. With both Moses and Joshua dead, there is no commissioned leader of Israel. After this Israel will move into the age of Judges, where God periodically will raise national leaders to deliver Israel from her enemies. But that’s a post for another time.

 

Thoughts from the TMAI Pre-conference

This week instead of giving an overview of a book I wanted to share about the recent TMAI (The Master’s Academy International) Pre-conference I was able to attend. The theme was Missions in the Local Church. After the initial introduction by MacArthur, we heard from speakers about the history of missions, a personal testimony regarding missions, and some thoughts local church leaders had regarding their roles in heading up missions in respective churches. There was really only one message that contained an exposition from Scripture as the conference as a whole was about practically focusing on missions in your church. But it’s this message that I wanted to encourage you all with.

So here’s the breakdown of the message which I will intersperse with my own thoughts.

 

Preaching Missions from the Text by Dr. David Doran, President of the Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

1. Principles (This is the reminder, the rationale behind shaping missions in the local church)

  • Shepherds are called to feed and lead, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
    – Biblically these are the only job descriptions for an elder or pastor. Everything else is just fluff.
     – The Great Commission wasn’t given to missions boards, or missions agencies but to all disciples of Christ. Don’t think that you aren’t required to obey because you are.
    – Shepherds are responsible to lead their congregation in obedience; James even makes mention that teachers will be judged all the more harshly because of this responsibility
  • Shepherds lead best through feeding, 1 Timothy 5:17 and Hebrews 13:7

2. Practice: Expositional preaching is a method of preaching which unpacks the original meaning of a biblical passage, correlates it with the unified message of Scripture, and makes appropriate application to its contemporary hearers.

  • Interpretation: What does this text say and mean? Our hermeneutic calls for a grammatical, historical approach.
  • Correlation: Does this text contribute to our understanding of Great Commission ministry? This is the theological component. Two questions we can be asking is if the text is consistent with the rest of Scripture and how the text helps our understanding of the Great Commission.

3. Paradigm, Matthew 28:18-20. This is just an example of a text to preach missions from. Really though the whole rest of the New Testament is just an unpacking of the Great Commission. It is an extension of the command to “teaching to observe all that I commanded you.”

  • Authority, “all authority…in heaven and earth.
    We can go
    We must go
  • Activity, “make disciples…baptizing…teaching to observe.”
    New creatures 
    New community
    New congregations
  • Arena, “Go…all the nations.”
    New places
    New peoples
  • Assurance, “I am with you always.”
    Power, Acts 11:21; Romans 15:18
    Provision and Protection, Hebrews 13:5-6

Fight for your Faith! (Jude)

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Jude 3 ESV

Jude (or Judas), the writer of the letter, was the brother of James, the early church leader, and the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s quite interesting to note though that James and Jude were the same brothers who doubted Jesus in John 7:5. They were also the same brothers who proclaimed that He was “out of his mind” in Mark 3:21. There was likely more pain then we know when Jesus proclaimed “a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household” in Matthew 13:57.

But what a drastic change! James and Judas became leaders in the church and martyrs for their faith. They went on to write the encouraging letters that we have today in James and Jude. 2 Corinthians 4:6 rings true for them both by God shining His light into their formerly darkened hearts.

Originally the intent of Jude was to write about the common salvation that we all share. Jude, who as we noted was in the darkness up until the point of his brother and Lord’s death and resurrection, wanted so desperately to write about what he believed and loved (Jude 3). But he didn’t. He couldn’t because he noticed that the church was facing a far more pressing issue: certain people were creeping into the church unnoticed. These were people who claimed to be believers but were denying fundamental doctrines such as the exclusive authority of Jesus Christ (Jude 4). These were apostates, false teachers who were twisting the grace of God into a license to sin. What had once for all been delivered to the saints now needed to be contended for.

So the letter of Jude is a warning to true believers to watch out for these types of people. Instead of writing about their common salvation, Jude writes a brief but uncompromisingly direct letter.

Only 25 verses, the letter can be broken down into two major sections.

1) Verses 1-16 describe the ungodly contesting against the faith.

2) Verses 17-25 describe how we should contend for the faith.

Jude is a call to fight. But it is unlike any other battle cry we have heard of. Although his main concern is to renounce false teachers (for the threat he was confronting was similar in fashion to what was described in the Peter’s second letter: false teachers who twisted the grace of God to be a license for immorality) we can see that Jude’s strategy is more than just the negative opposition of these false teachers. Jude calls Christians to fight by building themselves up in the faith and by showing mercy to others. In verses 20 and 21, Jude calls Christians to pray in the Spirit, to maintain themselves in God’s love, and to wait for eternal life in Jesus; all as a means to build themselves up. And in verses 22 and 23 Christians are to show mercy to those who doubt, who are stained with sin. Christians are to be rescuers, snatching them out of the fire.

But the thing is this wasn’t a problem only for Jude’s time. His warnings are quite relevant today. Pastor Chris mentioned it this past Sunday but many of those false teachings are still within our church today, along with a host of others such as the prosperity gospel or inclusivism. Jude’s prescription for confronting spiritual error is as timely and applicable today as it was when it was first written.

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