Bible Study Archive

 


 Jonah and Jesus 17.10.20



 fish+cross

                                                                                                                       

 

Matthew 12 v 38-42

 

Real faith is about trusting Jesus ......the One who died,was buried and then rose again.....rather than any impressive signs.

 

Read Matthew 12 v 38-42.

 

In what two ways does Jesus respond to the demand for a miraculous sign ? (v 39)

 

. Only a wicked and adulterous generation would seek a miraculous sign.

. Only one sign would be given ....... "the sign of the prophet Jonah".

Jesus calls His generation "wicked" because their demand for a miraculous sign shows that they trust in signs rather than in Christ Himself. The Lord's generation is "adulterous": they are more attracted to impressive displays of power than to the One through whom God has chosen to work.

Jesus says that He will give his generation just one sign: "the sign of the prophet Jonah".          He wants people to understand what will happen to Him as being similar to what happened to Jonah.

 

What are the key similarities between the experiences of Jonah and Jesus?

 

The fish and the tomb. Both places of desperation and death.

The Timings. Both of them were in the places of death for three days and three nights.           ( Jesus was dead from Friday to Sunday ,and in the way Jews counted part days and nights as whole days and nights, this was three days and nights).

God's action for Jonah and Jesus. God didn't leave either man in the depths, but brought them back to where living people dwell.

.The effect on others. Jonah's deliverance led to Nineveh hearing his preaching, and repenting. Jesus' resurrection leads to us being able to know that He is God's Christ and being able to know Him as our Saviour.

 

                                       jonah+Jesus                                                          

 

What are the important differences?

 

Key differences:

 

. Jonah didn't literally die; Jesus did.

. Jonah's near -death experience was because of his sin. Christ's real-death experience was because of other's sin.

. Jonah didn't choose the fish,but the Lord chose the cross!

. Jesus' experience had a better ending than Jonah's......He was raised to life; Jonah was vomited out!

 

Other differences:

 

. Jonah's obedience came about as a result of his fishy experience, while Jesus' experience resulted in the cross (Romans 5.19)

. Jonah's preaching had a huge effect on the whole of Nineveh; Jesus' preaching (and that of His people) was massively opposed after His resurrection (though Acts records episodes where thousands of people did repent).

 

The only "sign" Jesus gives people is His death, burial and resurrection. 

How should His example here shape our approach to witnessing?

 

We, like Jesus, should keep the focus on the events of His death, burial and resurrection.       That's where we need to point people and where we want to head to in any conversation about our faith.

 

Jesus suggests that the Ninevites knew about Jonah's near-death, near-resurrection experience in the sea and the fish (Luke 11.30)

 

What does verse 41 remind us that Jonah did next, after the fish vomited him out?

 

Jonah answered God's call to go and preach in Nineveh.

How did the Ninevites respond to this?

 

They "repented at Jonah's preaching".

Christ's point is :if they did this when Jonah preached to them, you should do the same when I preach to you!

 

What is Jesus' warning in verse 41 ? Why will it be fair for the "men of Nineveh "       to do this?

 

The "men of Nineveh" will condemn Jesus' generation, because Nineveh responded better to Jonah than Jesus' listeners had to Him. This is despite the fact that Jesus is "greater than Jonah and that Nineveh was a pagan city which never heard such preaching before, whereas the Jews are supposed to be God's people, so those listening to Jesus really have no excuse!

Look up Matthew 25 v31-33. How does this passage underline the warning of 12 v 41?

"Judgement" refers to the final judgement which will happen when Jesus returns and separates His people from those he doesn't know. This is when our eternal

destinies will be determined.

 

 

Explore more........

In verse 42 Jesus says the Queen of the South  (also known as the Queen of Sheba) will condemn His generation at the final judgement.

 

                                          Queen Sheba                                                                   

 

Read 1 Kings 10 v 1-10

 

Why did the Queen of the South go to meet Solomon?

 

Because she had heard of his relationship with God.

 

How did she respond to Solomon's wisdom?

 

She was overwhelmed (v 5),recognised that it was God who had given Solomon all he had         (v 9),and praised the Lord herself.(v 9)

 

                                         wisdom                                                       

 

So why, according to Jesus ,will the Queen of the South condemn Jesus' generation? (Matthew 12 v 42) ?

 

The Queen responded better to Solomon than Jesus' generation had responded to Jesus. The contrast is all the greater because Jesus' wisdom is greater than Solomon's.                           (see Colossians 2 v2-3),and she, unlike Jesus' listeners, but like the Ninevites ,was a pagan.

 

How have we seen this truth in Jonah (compare the pagan sailors and Ninevites with the prophet Jonah)?

 

Jesus' point ,that the Gentile Ninevites and Queen of the South responded better to God than His Jewish contemporaries, is very similar to the point made by the author of Jonah. In Jonah 4,the pagan Ninevites repented and were saved from God's judgement, whereas Jonah was left sulking and angry, opposed to the merciful character of God.

 

To think about........

 

What is the right response to seeing "the sign of Jonah" in Jesus' life, and hearing    His preaching (in our generation as well as His)?

 

Listen to His preaching  and so "repent and believe His good news (Mark 1 v15).

 

 Looking back over our time in Jonah, what has Jonah's experience taught us about our evangelism?

 

. To look at our hearts......are we grudging evangelists like Jonah, or are our hearts compassionate like God's ?

. To expect God to do wonderful things......as He did in the boat for the sailors and in the city for the Ninevites.

To be encouraged that our best can be good enough......God used a single sentence of Jonah's to convert a shipload of pagan sailors.

. Not to think that we deserve God's grace more than others.

 

Both the Lord Jesus Christ and the author of Jonah want their hearers not to have false confidence for finding favour with God, but instead to rely wholly and only on God's grace......His undeserved kindness and compassion.

 

Say to yourself each morning......" It is by grace you have been saved, through faith......and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God....not by works, so that no one can boast" ( Ephesians 2 v 8-9)

 

Next week there will be no new study and our Zoom session on Weds. Oct. 21 will be a catch up and discussion of our overall response to the book of Job. Why not join us to share what God has taught you through this series....or questions (if you have any). As always the meeting ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password in 3NZjXF.

 

The following week on Oct. 31 there will be the introduction to a new study ......"Revelation.....Heaven's Perspective". Do not be put off this challenging book which will take us up to Advent. Tim Chester, the author of the "Good Book Guide" we will be using, writes.........


" Imagine looking up close at an impressionist painting . All you can see are strokes of paint and dabs of colour. It's hard to make sense of it. However, take a step back and the picture becomes clear. What emerges is not just a scene but the mood it evokes......and that's how we should approach Revelation. Look at the detail and it's all a bit perplexing, but step back and look at the big picture and Revelation not only becomes clearer ,but can grip our imaginations."


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Lesson learned? 10.10.20 


Jonah 4. 5-11

 

                                         withered tree                                               

 

We are getting near to the end of this prophetic oracle which highlights the sickness that blights humanity.......sin. Here we see Jonah's utter selfishness that he cares far more about a bit of shade than he does about the destiny of 120,000 people! Be prepared; the book finishes with a question ,and we are left hanging...........

 

Read Jonah 4.5-11.

 

Jonah leaves Nineveh and waits at a safe distance "to see what would happen to the city" (v5). What might Jonah be hoping for?

He seems to be still hoping for God's judgement to fall upon Nineveh, anticipating another Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19.24-25). So he wants to be well away from the city when God's judgement falls.....but he wants to gloat and be there to watch.

 

                      gloating Jonah                                                         

 

What is surprising about Jonah's hope, in the light of 3 v 10?


God has already "relented and did not bring about the destruction on Nineveh that he had threatened". Jonah knows this from 4 v1. He hopes that God will repent of His compassion and destroy Nineveh anyway!

So what makes Jonah very angry in this last chapter and what makes him very happy?


. Jonah is very angry when God's mercy is extended to non-Israelites in a big matter, them not being destroyed (v 1-4)


. He is very angry when God's mercy is withdrawn from him in a small matter: the plant (v 5-9)

 

 

                        God's mercy                                                      

 Note that in both these cases Jonah is angry enough to want to die.


Jonah is very happy when God's mercy is extended to him in a small matter (v 6). He wants a God who is merciful to him in giving him what he would like (a bit of shade) as well as what he needs (rescue from drowning);but he also wants a God who does not give mercy to others, even in what they most need (saving from judgement).

 

                   selfish Jonah                                                           

 

What does this show us about Jonah?


His utter selfishness and his sense that he deserves God's help while others do not.

His priorities are directly opposed to God's.

 

If you would like to explore more.......

Read Mark 11 v 15-17.

What made Jesus very angry? What does tell us about Jesus?


How were Jesus' priorities and the cause of His anger, the opposite of Jonah's priorities and what made him angry?

 

To think about......


The things that make us most angry and most happy offer insight into what we REALLY care about.

 

Jonah was hoping chapter 4 would be about Nineveh learning their lesson through being judged. However, it turns out that God wants chapter 4 to be all about Jonah learning a lesson, through the events of v 6-8.


Have a look at Jonah's response in v8.What do you make of it?


Jonah wants to die again! He is so self-absorbed and petulant.....and incredibly rude when God withdraws what He gave in the first place.


What do verses 9 and 11 have in common?


They both contain a question from God to Jonah.


What is the right answer to God's first question (v9)? Why?


"No!" .It's God's plan,not Jonah's (v 10). Jonah should have been thankful when he had it and accepting when he didn't......


What is the right answer to God's second question (v 11)?


"Yes!"


What reason does God give why this is the right answer?


. v 11.More than one hundred and twenty thousand people (+ cattle!) live in this great city.


. The people who live there are spiritually ignorant and God cares about people who are spiritually clueless.

 

Why do you think the book of Jonah ends with this unanswered question left hanging?


The question leaves the ball in Jonah's court. Pagan sailors have come to fear God; pagan Ninevites have repented; but will Jonah come round to seeing God's way of things?


. God's question is probably meant not just for Jonah......but for the reader to ask him or herself. Will we be persuaded of the rightness of God's character and compassion for unlikely recipients of mercy? Are we concerned that people, even those who have wronged us, hear of God's mercy?


(I am reminded of the US army chaplain who was given the task of taking the Gospel to convicted Nazi war criminals, prior to their executions and following the Nuremburg trials. 


At least one repented.)

 

If you would like to explore more........

There are striking similarities between the book of Jonah and the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. 11-32

Pick out the similarities.


What's the cliff-hanger at the end of both stories?

 

Pray.........

Thank God for His compassion, mercy and love.

 

Ask God to help you with the challenges of Jonah 4.

 

                                     Jonah's challenge                                                                     

 

 

THE CLIFFHANGER QUESTION.........

 

Did Jonah come to share God's heart of compassion for pagan's? We'll never know.

So the real cliffhanger is ........Will we?!

 

There will be our usual Zoom session on Weds October 14 to discuss this study .......to which all are welcome. 

The Zoom ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjXF. 

Next week we complete our study with a session on "Jonah and Jesus". 

How are the two related?Check out the study to find out.

 

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Repent, relent, Rage  3.10.20

 

                                    secoond chance                                           

 

 Jonah 3 v 1- 4 - v 4

 

 

There are three mini-sections in this passage; and it's worth noticing before we begin that they're closely linked to the first three sections of the book, which we have already looked at.

So, as we study 3 v 1 - 4 v 4, we'll compare each section with the section from earlier in the book to which it is linked.

 

1 v 1-3: God commissions Jonah: Jonah flees God.                           3 v 1-3a: God commissions Jonah again: Jonah obeys.


1 v 4-17: Jonah talks to pagan sailors: Jonah is saved.                    3 v 3b-10: Jonah talks to pagan Ninevites: Ninevates saved.


2 v 1-10: Jonah's grateful prayer about his salvation.                      4 v 1-4: Jonah's angry prayer about Nineveh's salvation.

 

Read Jonah 3. 1-3a.

What is going on in 3 . 1-2?


These verses describe Jonah's re-commissioning. The phrase "a second time" reminds us 

that there is always a second chance.


What is the difference between here and 1 v 2. Why the change?


The two are very similar ,but in chapter 3 Jonah is given no content for his message, the focus being on the need for him to simply obey God. Has Jonah learned to get on with doing what God says?


What is the difference between Jonah's response in 1 v 3  and 3 v 3a?


In 1 v 3 Jonah disobeyed the word of the Lord; in 3 v 3a he immediately obeys the word of the Lord. In 1 v 3 Jonah headed towards Tarshish, in the opposite direction to Nineveh; in 3 v 3a  he finally goes where God wants him to.

 

 jnah tries again


To think about........


When God gives us a second chance it's a sign of His mercy, giving us another opportunity to be a part of His plans. Are there areas in your life where you feel that God is giving you a "second (or third or fourth!) chance?" Will you obey Him this time?


Are you the kind of person who gives others a second (or third or fourth!) chance?

 

Read Jonah 3 v 3b-10.


The summary of Jonah's preaching in verse 4 is short; only five words in Hebrew! However it is clear that judgement is coming within forty days. (it is worth noting here that the number forty in scripture signifies the time it takes by God to teach someone something.....as in the forty days and nights that Jesus was in the wilderness and the forty days that Noah and his family spent in the ark on the waters)


How did the Ninevites view Jonah's words in verse 5a?


They recognise Jonah as a true prophet,who is speaking not his own words ,but the word of the Lord.


How does the narrator summarise the Ninevites' response to Jonah's message at the beginning of verse ten?


God saw that the Ninevites had turned from their evil ways; he knew that their repentance was heartfelt and genuine.


What external signs do the Ninevites show that they have repented? (v 5-8)


. "A fast was proclaimed"

. All of them put on sackcloth (v 5)

. Everyone repents....even the king. (v 5-6 )and the beasts (v 7-8)

. It is a "complete fast"....from both food and water.

. The king makes the fast official. (v7-9)

. The fast is not just "religious" and a ritual, but is accompanied by a change in behaviour.(v 8 )

 

  king prays                                                                                                                      

Note on fasting.......

This is a much neglected spiritual practice among Christians today, but it is a spiritual discipline which Jesus himself practised.( Matt 4 v2)and one he expected his followers to observe.      (Matt 6 v 16-18; Mark 2 v 20).Fasting helps us not to be ruled and dominated by the demands of our bodies and reminds us that our deepest hunger should be for God.


Compare Nineveh's response to the word of the Lord with Jonah's response in 1 v 3. Whose response is better and why?


There is no contest! Nineveh's response is a lot better. Jonah does not respond in obedience, whereas everyone in Nineveh,from the king to the cattle repents fully and immediately.

 

The structure of the book of Jonah encourages us to compare his time in pagan Nineveh  (3 v 3b-10 )with the earlier section about his sea voyage with the pagan sailors (1 v 4-16).


What are the similarities between these two sections? For what purpose has God used both Jonah's disobedience (in running away) and obedience (in going to Nineveh)?


The big similarity between chapter 1 and chapter 3 is that in both Jonah has been used by God to extend mercy to non-Israelite pagans.

God uses Jonah's disobedience to show mercy to the pagan sailors and he uses Jonah's (grudging) obedience to show mercy to the pagan Ninevites.

 

 Ninevites happy

                                                                                                                            4

 

Read Jonah 4 v1-4.

How does Jonah respond to God's mercy on Nineveh?


. He is furious (4 v1).

. He's so upset that he says that he would rather die than live. (4 v3)


How does this compare to his response to God's mercy to him in chapter 2?


There's a striking contrast between Jonah's thanks for himself being saved and his fury that others are saved.


What does this show about Jonah's heart?


Jonah still does not share God's desire to show compassion. He wants God to be only the God of Israel and not the God of pagans.

 

 

.........Does Jonah not understand who God is, or does he not like who God is?


Jonah really does understand God's gracious and compassionate character, but he doesn't like this compassion when it is flowing to non-Israelites.

Read Exodus 34. 6-7 to discover why Jonah's sin is so serious. God's mercy to the Ninevites is an expression of His character. Jonah, in hating God's compassion, is hating God himself.......that's serious.

 

Jonah asks God to take away his life (v 3) . How might we expect God to respond?


In judgement. Jonah might find himself back at the bottom of the sea!


How does God respond? (v 4 )


He talks to Jonah and asks him a question.


How does this show us what God is like?


He is hugely patient! He's not only being compassionate to Nineveh, but also to his angry, unloving........and very rude prophet!

 

To think about.........


Are there areas where you, like Jonah, want God to be different? Remind yourself that God is God and he doesn't change. When we are out of step with God, we are the ones who need to change.

 

Pray........

Thank God...


. For what this passage has shown you about who he is.

. For what this passage has shown you about what he's done for people.


Ask God......


. To help you to see where you need to repent and enable you to do so.....

. To help you to confront any other challenges this passage has posed to you.

 

THE CLIFFHANGER QUESTION.......


Will Jonah listen to God? Will God run out of patience with Jonah?

 

We will finish our reading of the book of Jonah next week......but not our study. The next session is entitled "Lesson Learned" and we will be reading Jonah 4. 5-11. As always there will be a Zoom session to discuss the passage on Weds October 7 at 10.30 to which everyone is welcome.....why not give it a try? The Zoom ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjXF.

 

 


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Jonah's Fishy Faith  26.9.20



 

jonah swallowed

 

Jonah 1.17-2.10

 

Read Jonah 1.17-2.1

 

1 v17 and 2 v10 bracket this section. What happens to Jonah in these two verses?


Jonah is rescued from Death by a fish. He's swallowed and then vomited out onto dry land.

Look at 1v17;4 v 6 and v 8. Which word is repeated and who does it ?

The word is "provided" and it is God who does it.

Now look at 1 v 4,v 7 and 2 v 10. What are all these verses teaching us about God?

in 1v 4 the Lord sends a great wind on the sea . In 1 v 7,God controls the casting of lots      (see Proverbs 16 v 33). In 2 v 10, God commands the fish to vomit Jonah out on dry land.           The Maker of the sea and land (1 v 9) is clearly in continuous, comprehensive control of His entire creation, down to the smallest detail.

 

  Jonah spat

 

 

What does Jonah's prayer in 2 v 1-9 teach us about the purpose to which God put his power in this situation?


2 v1-9 is Jonah's prayer of thanksgiving for God's mercy in rescuing him. Jonah knows that God's actions in 1 v17 and 2 v 10 ,bracketing this prayer, are done in order to have mercy on him . God uses His great power to have great mercy.

 

To think about .....

Is it sometimes difficult for you to give God the credit for situations in which He has helped or delivered you? What work in your life do you need to thank Him for today?

 

How does Jonah's prayer in 2 v 1-9 emphasise how desperate was his situation?

. He was "deep in the realm of the dead" (v 2). As good as dead.

. The waters were surrounding him (v 5).

. He was trapped and held fast by seaweed. (v 5)

. He sank as low as possible. (v 6)

 

jonah in whale

 

What does Jonah know about why this happened to him?


. Jonah knows "you (God) hurled me" (v 3).....they were "your waves".

. He knows he was far from God (v 4)

. The sailors threw him in, but his near-drowning was God's purpose and God's judgement. (1 v 12,15)

What was Jonah's response?


He "called to the Lord" and "called for help" (v 2).He prayed for mercy from God who was judging him.

What was the turning point in Jonah's life-threatening plunge?


Verse 6b. Note the use of the word "but "at the beginning of the sentence....it signals a contrast with the previous thought. Jonah's direction (literally) changes here. He has been going down, down, down (v 3,6a) but now God hears Jonah and brings him "up' from the pit.

Remember where Jonah is as he says this prayer. What is strange about the plans he is making in v 4 and v 9?


Jonah is confident that he'll look at God's temple again while he's still drowning (v 4) and while he is lying inside the fish, deep underwater (v 9)

What does this tell us about Jonah's faith?

It is a remarkable picture of trust in God's, pre-deliverance. Jonah believes in God while he's drowning. His prayer of thanksgiving for deliverance is prayed to God from inside the fish, certainly not a place of safety, comfort, and total deliverance! He trusts and thanks God during his rescue, rather than only after it is completed.

 

 

jonah and god

 

 

..........At this point, what does Jonah rightly understand about God's salvation?

Jonah "gets" that God can and has saved him and that only God can do this; he possesses remarkable faith in God to save him from drowning in the sea.

Look at v 8-9. What does he still not understand?

In v 8, Jonah is looking down on pagans who don't know God: those who "cling to worthless idols". He doesn't realise that God's mercy extends to pagans. There's great irony here, because as Jonah is being narrow-minded, the pagan sailors he's just met,have given up their "gods" and are worshipping God for saving them from the storm (1 v16),which is exactly what Jonah himself is planning to do (v 9).God has been working not only to save Jonah ,but also to save pagans, but Jonah's so caught up in his own rescue that he doesn't think about this.

 

If you want to explore more.......

Read Ephesians 2. 1-10

Now compare what God did for Jonah with what He has done for Christians through Jesus.   What are the similarities?

 

Look at Jonah's response to God's deliverance in v 9. What does this show us about how we should respond to God's deliverance in our lives?

We should acknowledge that salvation is all about what God has done (v 9),and we should trust in and thank God for rescuing us while he's doing it, not only after. He might use uncomfortable circumstances to bring us to eternity and we should praise Him during tough times, or while He's helping us, rather than when those times are over. That's hard!

 

Pray.

Thank God.....

. For the way He has encouraged you in the past.

Ask God.....

. To help you to trust Him before He saves you from a difficulty ,not only after.

. To see that you are every bit as much in need of God's mercy as anyone else.

. To help you with any other specific challenges which have come up as you have studied this section.

 

The cliff-hanger question.......

The "wicked" people of Nineveh have been facing destruction since 1 v 2. Will Jonah now go and warn them? And what will they do to Him if he does?

 

Next week's study is entitled "Repent, Relent, Rage" and we shall be looking at Jonah 3 v 1-4 v 4. As always there will be a Zoom session on Wednesday Sep. 30 to discuss any issues or insights. Do join us! . The Zoom ID 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjXF. We look forward to seeing you ......we are a friendly bunch��


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 Judgement and Mercy  19.9.20

 

                                                                                                                    stormy boat              

 

Jonah 1 v 4-16

 

 

To understand and imagine this passage properly, we should feel the violent rocking and swaying of the ship ,hear the fury of the crashing waves and the ship's timbers about to break apart ......and taste the salty seawater which is overwhelming the ship...........

 

Read Jonah 1.4-16

 

What happens on board the ship? How does God deal with Jonah's rebellion?


God sends a storm that causes the pagan sailors to learn from Jonah about the one true Lord, the God of Heaven, the Creator of the land and sea (1 v 9). The pagan sailors come to fear and worship this Lord ( v16).God deals with Jonah in judgement . He is thrown into the raging sea.

Jonah realises that the storm is from God and has been caused by his own rebellion (v 12). Jonah seems to think that he'll die in the sea if he is thrown overboard. The sailors don't want to do this (v 13),believing ,like Jonah, that he'll die if thrown into the waves, so they ask the Lord not to hold Jonah's death against them.(v 14). Jonah's suggestion works. ( v.15)     


                                         go down Jonah                                                              

 

How does v 4-6 emphasise the ship's desperate situation ?


. There is a great wind upon the sea (v.4)

. The sea is so rough that the ship is threatening to break apart. (v.4)

. Even the experienced sailors are so afraid that each cries out to his own god.(v.5)

. The sailors try to lighten the ship by throwing cargo overboard.( v.5 )

. The ship's captain comes down to the hold to wake up Jonah ( v.6 )

 

What are we told about the religious views of the sailors ?


They are pagans who worship various gods ( v.5 ) Jonah boarded the ship at Joppa, a Philistine (pagan ) city.

 

How do you think Jonah feels about these sailors?


They're pagans and we've already seen that Jonah will go to great lengths to escape God's plan to show mercy on them (  4 v 2-3 ). These are the kind of people Jonah despises                     ( 2 v 8);OK as travelling companions, but not as recipients of God's mercy.

 

In the light of this, what is surprising about the way they treat Jonah?


They are remarkably good to a man who despises them! They continue to try to row to the shore, putting their own lives at risk, even after Jonah tells them to throw him into the sea      (v 13-14 ). And they're willing to listen to Jonah when he (rather grudgingly) tells them about Israel's God.

 

To think about .........


Jonah's behaviour looks even worse when we compare it with the actions of the pagan sailors.  Sometimes our behaviour doesn't match up to the standards of those around us who are not Christians. Does this challenge you? Are there any areas of your life where this is happening? If so, what are you going to do about it ?

 

Fear is a significant theme in this passage; note each of the three times fear or terror is mentioned in verses 4-16.


. v 5: The sailors are afraid of the storm.

. v 10: The sailors are terrified of God.

. v 16: They "greatly feared the lord"

 

                                                                                                                                 

 scared sailor

 

What progression do you see? And what does this tell us?


They move from being scared of the circumstances beyond their control ( the storm) ,to fearful of the God who sent the storm, to respecting and praising that God. Their fear is turning to worship.

 

By what names is God referred to in this section?


. v 9.Jonah refers to God as "the Lord". This is the Hebrew name "Yahweh “or "I AM", God's covenant name (Exodus 3.13-15)

. v 6. The captain thinks of the God Jonah worships simply as "your god”, one among many.

. v. 14. The sailors pray to God using the covenant name twice....and by v. 16 they're worshipping the Lord.

 

What is surprising  about the way the pagan sailors come to know and fear the Lord?


God uses His unwilling ,rebellious prophet to bring these pagans to know and respect Him!. Jonah does for the Pagan sailors exactly what he's trying to avoid doing for the Ninevites. God can use anything to bring people to see who He is and to worship Him.

 

Think about where we leave the main characters, Where is :


.  Jonah, God's prophet? Drowning in the sea having run from God.

.  The pagan sailorsSafe on land instead of dying at sea.(It's likely that they would have been on land to make their sacrifice.) v 16)

.  God? Right where we'd expect Him to be ruling over everything from His heavenly throne room ,controlling and using events.

 

                                       Jonah fire                                                                     


 

Explore more.......

Read Mark 2. 13-17 and Luke 15.1-2,11-32.


God is eager to reach the "unreachable ": Jonah is the opposite.

 

Think about how God's character is displayed in this section. What hope does it give us as we try to share our faith with those who don't know Jesus?


There's no one who God cannot reach with the truth about himself and no one He cannot use to do so.

 

Our attempts at talking about Christianity can often feel halting and inadequate. How does Jonah's answer in v 9 encourage us?


Jonah's answer isn't persuasive or detailed.....and his motivations are all wrong! However it tells the truth about God and God uses it.

 

Getting personal.......


Is there someone you're not talking to about Jesus because you just don't think they'll ever respond? Why not pray about it and look for an opportunity to talk about your Christian faith.

 

Think about.......


......ways in which this passage has challenged you and pray that God would change you to become more like Him.

 

The cliff-hanger question.....

Is there any hope for the drowning Jonah?

(You probably know the answer to this ,but at the time he and the sailors didn't!)

 

Next week's study is entitled "Jonah's Fishy Faith" and we will be looking at Jonah 1.17-2.10.The Zoom session to discuss the session will be on Weds Sep 23.Do please join this session which is open to everyone ,with the opportunity to discuss any thoughts raised by the study. The meeting ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjXF.

 

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 Running Away   12.9.20


 

                                           jonah on run                                               

 

                                                            Jonah 1.1-3.

 

 This opening passage is meant to shock us! Jonah, God's prophet , refuses God's call ;          and what's worse ,it's because he doesn't want his enemies to be forgiven. These three opening verses chart Jonah's disobedience and external fleeing as he tries to go in the direct opposition to God's call.....West to Tarshish instead of East to Nineveh.

 

What do we know about Jonah? (......actually very little)

Read 2 Kings 14.23-27


Jonah was a prophet the son of Amittai (see Jonah 1.1).He prophesied during the reign of King Jeroboam II, of Israel (782-753 BC).and his prophecies about Israel's expansion were correct.

Why is it significant that Jonah's prophecy about Israel's expansion was fulfilled?


The test of a true prophet is that his words always come true (Deuteronomy 18.21-22) Jonah was a true prophet.

What would we expect Jonah to do if God gives him another command?


We would expect him to obediently proclaim that word, as the task of a true prophet is to speak forth the words that God commands him (Deuteronomy 18.18).

 

Read Jonah 1.1-2


What does God command Jonah to do?


Preach against Nineveh (1.2) This means that Jonah is to make known Nineveh's sins and proclaim God's coming judgement upon them (see 3 v4).The inhabitants of Nineveh have behaved sinfully and have offended God. In chapter 3 v 8,10 the "evil ways" are emphasised; it is the same Hebrew word translated "wickedness" in 1 v 2 of Nineveh with the urgent need for them to turn from their wickedness.

 

Let's look at the background........


Nineveh was an important city in the Assyrian Empire, an ancient superpower that had subdued Israel in the past and would eventually conquer Israel a few decades after Jonah's day. The Assyrian kings used various forms of grisly torture to subdue and frighten enemy nations and also required regular payments from conquered peoples. In 841BC,50 years before Jonah's time Assyria demanded payment from the king of Israel and in Jonah's day was its most feared enemy.

 

In the light of all this, how do you imagine Jonah might have felt about God's command to "preach against Nineveh" ?


. Jonah might well have been afraid for his life, venturing 500miles away from home and  

  into enemy territory.

. Jonah might be eager to "preach against" an enemy of his country....he had already correctly prophesied ill tidings for Syria (2 Kings 14.25). Perhaps he'd relish the opportunity to do the same for Nineveh.

 

To think about........


Who are the people or groups who we easily think of as enemies?

Are there any groups or types of people who might think the church sees them as enemies?

How do we react when God prompts us to do something quite inconvenient or difficult?

Do we tend to obey God joyfully; or follow him grudgingly; or simply ignore Him? What excuses do YOU make?

 

Read Jonah 1.3


How does Jonah respond to God's command?


Jonah sails to Tarshish in the Western Mediterranean.....in the opposite direction to Nineveh, which was 500 miles NE of Nineveh.

 

                             tarshish map                                                                       


What do you think of Jonah's actions here?


We're obviously meant to be shocked! It's like the beginning of a symphony with a jarring, discordant ,disturbing burst of instrumental sound .We are on the edge of our seats right at the beginning of this story....aghast and appalled......Jonah refuses and runs?! It leaves us asking:" "What could possibly be leading God's prophet into such disobedience? How will God respond?

 

If you want to explore more........


Read Exodus 3.1- 4 v17; Isaiah 6 v1-13; Jeremiah 1 v 4-19.

How do these prophets respond to being called to do something hard?

 

The big question now is: What could possibly account for such wilful disobedience on the part of God's prophet?

 

Read Jonah 4. 1-2


Why does Jonah want to escape from his commission to "preach against "Nineveh? How does he understand the ultimate purpose of his task?


4 .1-2 shows that Jonah flees from God not from a fear of losing his own life, but from a fear of saving the lives of the pagan Ninevites! He is opposed to God's gracious and merciful character. He wants the Ninevites to be judged by God, not repent and be forgiven. If he doesn't go they'll not be warned and they'll definitely be judged! Assyria is Israel's enemy and Jonah clearly does not love his enemies. From the beginning of the book we see that God's prophet hates God's plan. Jonah was happy to prophesy God's blessing for Israel        (2 Kings 14.25) ,but he can't stand the idea that God wants to forgive and bless Israel's enemies.

 

hate God

                                                                                                                               

 

A Challenge.......


Are there any ways in your life in which you are currently resisting God's direction and living at cross-purposes with the Lord? Think about why you're not getting on with obeying him; what it would be like to live His way ,and what exactly you need to ask Him to help you with so that you can get on board  (pun intended!) with His plans.

 

                     get on board                                                                

 

Pray.

Thank God....

. That His word is so frank ,showing us what God's people are really like.

. That His plan is to bless all peoples, even those like Nineveh, who despise Him and His people.

. That He uses people to fulfil His purposes.

 

Ask God.....

. To help you repent over the areas of your life in which you are currently resisting Him.

. For a heart like His that yearns for all peoples to know life with Him.

. To give you confidence that there is no one you know that His grace can't reach and change.

 

THE CLIFFHANGER QUESTION...

Will Jonah get away with defying God ?

 

The study next week is entitled "Judgement and Mercy" when we will be looking at Jonah 1.4-16. The follow-up Zoom session, to which everyone is invited ,is on Weds. Sep 16 at 10.30. The Zoom ID is 737 2295 965  and the password is 3NZjXF. Do join us!

 

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 The Depths of Grace  5.9.20


 

                     jonahinthewhale                                                                    

 

Introduction to the book of Jonah

 

We shall be using another of the "good book guides" in our studies, written by Stephen Witmer.

 

How about sitting down and reading this short book in its entirety.......there are only  4 chapters!

 

Why study Jonah?

This book is one of the most famous in the whole bible: but the message of Jonah is one of the most ignored. It is an odd book....we have a great fish (the bible doesn't say a whale), a rebellious, mean and nasty prophet, a "vine" which grows big enough to provide shade for Jonah in a day, a "worm" which rapidly eats the "vine" and "beasts" who are commanded to fast and repent. If you find all this pretty unbelievable (of course all things are possible with God) it might be easier for you to think of the book, as was once suggested to me as                         "a prophetic oracle in parable form".

 

                                            grapes of sin                                                  


 

Let's look at Jonah in the historical context in which it is set......

Date written

.785 - 760 BC (approx)

Author

. Jonah son of Amittai

To whom written

. Israel....and all God's people everywhere.

Setting

. Jonah preceded Amos and ministered under Jeroboam II, Israel's most powerful king.            (2 Kings 14. 23-25). Assyria was Israel's great enemy and Israel was conquered by them in  722 BC.

 

This is a story about one man, the prophet Jonah, and of his experiences of living among and speaking to pagans who knew next to nothing about the God he worshipped. Unlike the other prophetic books the focus is not on Jonah's words but on Jonah the man. It is a story of storms and sailors, rebellion and rescue, preaching and protest; a story full of cliff-hanger endings. It's the story of the most reluctant evangelist in the bible.

 

                      thundernlightning                                                         

 

The Book........

Falls easily into 2 parts....

. Jonah forsakes his mission  (1.1 - 2. 10)

. Jonah fulfills his mission (3.1 - 4.11)

Chapter 1 is about the sailors  and chapter 3 about the Ninevites.

Chapters 2 & 4 revolve around Jonah's prayers.

The narrative of the book is based around opposite reactions and humour and irony are used to critique character flaws. Everything is "upside down". Today we would call this style of writing "satire”.(Don't say that the bible doesn't have any humour.....)

 

                                           worm                                                                     


 

The book's relevance for today......

Local churches increasingly find themselves existing in pagan cultures, where the truth about God is not much more than a distant memory. In the workplace, amongst  friends ,and even within the family, many believers feel alone, isolated and ill-equipped to survive as Christians, let alone speak out about God.

This short book encourages us as we see the effect of Jonah's preaching on pagan sailors and city-dwellers, but at the end challenges us about how we view those who don't know God and about our own attitudes to evangelism.

Most of all though, this is a story about God himself. We meet the God of great grace towards "outsiders" and of great patience with the "insiders". We discover that God is the most committed evangelist of all. We meet the God who, as Jesus, lived as a man and who pointed to the experiences of Jonah to explain the gospel significance of his own death and resurrection.

 

These 6 studies hardly mention the "big fish" at all ! However they will help you open up the book of Jonah, discover more of the amazing character of God ,and to be encouraged to share the heart of the greatest evangelist......the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

 

We begin the first study next week reading Jonah 1. 1-3. which is entitled "Running Away". There will be a Zoom session on Wednesday Sep. 9 at 10.30 to share and discuss. The meeting ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password in 3NZjFX. As always everyone is very welcome, whether you are a member of All Saints or not. The session lasts around 40 mins, but you can come and go at any time.

 

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 thoughfulness

 

 

No Bible study this week.......but we will be starting studies on the book of Jonah next week. Why not use this week to catch up on the studies in Ephesians which you may have missed........

 

 

There will be a zoom session as usual  on Wednesday  Sep 2 at 10.30 to chat about/discuss any issues raised in our studies on Ephesians. This session is open to everyone whether or not you are a member of All Saints ,Walton on the Naze. The Zoom ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjXF (many apologies as the password was wrongly printed last week).

 

The Introduction to Jonah will now begin on Sat Sep 12...............

 

intro Jonah


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                            Spiritual Warfare 23.8.20


                 spiritual armour    

Ephesians 6. 10-24

 

In this final section Paul reaches his dramatic finale to the letter. He begins "finally" because, far from being a random diversion,or disconnected afterthought, this passage  is actually the glorious climax to the Ephesians......and it is all about spiritual warfare. The Christian life is one of standing firm against spiritual attack by "wearing "our gospel convictions as we fearlessly proclaim Christ's victory to those around us.

 

Read Ephesians 6.10-20.


What does Paul tell us to do? (v 10)


"Be strong"(literally "be strengthened") in the mighty power of God.


How does he tell us to do it?(v 11)


By putting on the "full armour of God".


Why do we need to do this? (v 11-12)


We need to stand against the "devil's schemes" (v 11). We are in a spiritual battle involving "flesh and blood enemies" (false teachers/persecutors/those who mock us) and we need to stand our ground. Our protection will be our heavenly armour.

 

Explore more.......


Read Revelation 12 v 9,12;John 8 v 44; 1 Peter 5 v 8.


What do these verses tell us about the devil and his aims?


He is active on earth, filled with fury and seeking to lead the whole earth astray. He is a liar, seeking to "devour" Christians by convincing them not to trust Christ as their Lord and Saviour.


Read Luke 11 v 14-22; Colossians 2 v 13-15 ; John 3 v 8.


What do these verses tell us about what Jesus has done to the devil ?


Jesus brought God's kingdom to earth and began to overpower and throw out Satan. Being more powerful than Satan he was able, on the cross, to remove Satan's ability to use God's law against us (by demanding God punish lawbreakers justly) and so the spiritual forces of evil are now powerless to take us to hell. By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has destroyed the power and work of Satan.


Read Revelation 20 v 7-10.


What will eventually happen to the devil ?


This is a complex passage,but the main emphasis is that the devil will resist God to the end, but that eventually he will be utterly defeated and punished.

 

                                         sword

It is easy to make too little, or too much of the devil. Some of us are oblivious to satanic powers because we are influenced by the rationalistic materialism of our culture. There is also the opposite risk of becoming dangerously obsessed with spiritual warfare, and being far too afraid of Satan. We need to understand "the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3.8 )

 

What does victory in this spiritual warfare look like? ( v 13-14 )


The battle ground will be everyday life and we are required to "stand firm". The devil will try to stir up doubts and divisions among us, but our goal is to survive,hold our ground and stand firm in gospel convictions.


Look at the armour we are to "put on" in v 14-17.....note that this is not a list of actions.


This is the armour that Jesus himself wore as he resisted the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4.1-11),and utterly defeated him on the cross. This is the armour of a Roman foot- soldier. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the word of God are all ways of describing the impact of the gospel .....God's full armour, which our champion and commander Jesus wore into battle with Satan.


What does it look like to "wear" this armour?


It is to remember, believe ,and live by the truths of the gospel. When the devil attacks us, suggesting that God is not good, or trustworthy, or that his word is not clear, it is a gospel conviction that will protect us ,enabling us to stand firm against the devil's lies and sin in some way. Note that all items of armour here are for our defence except one......"the sword of the spirit" which is God's living word, for attack. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Satan used  God's word against him (out of context!). Jesus responded with the spirit's sword, saying each time "It is written......". Matthew 4(v 1-11 )

 

                                                                                                                                                                               shield of faith                                               

 What final piece of "armour " does Paul identify in verse 18?

 

Prayer. Notice that this is....


Regular "on all occasions"


. Varied "all kinds"...whether urgent, single sentence, family, "arrow," prayers at the start/end of the day, in church, prolonged (at important decision -making times).


. For other believers "for all the Lord's people".


Why is it so powerful? (look back to 1 v 19b-22; 3 v 20-21)


The power we ask from God as we pray is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead......and is able to do more than we could ever think or ask.


Why is Paul asking for this kind of prayer? ( v 19-20 )


Paul is in prison (v 20) and may feel tempted to be fearful and keep his mouth closed.

 

                                       power of prayer                                                        

 Read Ephesians 6. 21-24.


Paul uses three words in his final farewell. Let's look at them more closely........


. Peace (v 23) This is the wonderful reconciliation with God and with each other,for which Christ died and by which we are gathered together under Christ in his church. Christ "is our peace" satisfying God for our sins. Peace well summarises the eternal blessing of salvation in Christ that results from the mystery of the gospel.


. Love (v 23) God's eternal plan reveals that our great, impressive and all-powerful God is also a God of compassion and love. How immense is his love for us! (3.18).


. Grace (v 24) Grace is undeserved and extravagant kindness. (Remember God's Riches AChrist's Expense). God's plan is not only to gather us into his church to display his wisdom in the spiritual realms, but "in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (2.7). Since our salvation comes entirely from his grace, all glory must be given entirely and eternally to him alone.

 

To think about ........


In what way is your praying for the gospel to be preached part of God's great plan for the world?


How can you encourage others to pray as in v 18-19 ?

 

How has God's triumphant plan , revealed in Ephesians, to gather everything under the risen Christ as displayed in his churches shaped your view of:


The purpose of your local church?


. Your safety from Satan's attacks?


. The glory of evangelism?

 

Identify how Paul's words in Ephesians show you how and what to pray.

 

Pray......


Praise God for the peace, love and grace that you have received.

For all "the saints" ie. God's people.

 

This session concludes our study of Ephesians; next week we will be venturing into the Old Testament, to look at the book of the prophet Jonah. We shall be using our usual "Good Book Guide, "this time written by Stephen Witmer. John Piper, the well -  known American minister, bible scholar and teacher recommends this book...in his words....

" Stephen Witmer opens up to our minds and hearts the amazing grace of God and shows us how ultimately, it's Jesus who makes that grace possible for us. Biblically rich and personally accessible, these studies remind us that the story of Jonah is also the big picture of the bible.....the depths of God's grace".

 

Our first study will be an introduction to the book; meanwhile,

next week Weds August 26 we will have our usual Zoom session to which everyone is very welcome, whether you attend/are a member of All Saints, Walton on the Naze or not.  

Zoom ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjFX. 

 

At Home and at Work 15.8.20


                                         home and work 

 

Ephesians 5.21-6.9

 

The Introduction and also the summary of this section is verse 21:" Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". For those of us in Western 21st century cultures, we need to realise that the bible teaches that "our role does not define our worth". Submitting to someone else does not mean we are worth less than them. Submit = to arrange yourself under someone's authority.

This cannot mean that all Christians should submit to each other(which is impossible).Instead Paul shows us three areas where Christians are, depending on circumstances, called to submit....and where other Christians are called to lead with authority. Each command comes with a gospel -based explanation and motivation.

 

Read Ephesians 5.21-33.

Within marriage what are wives instructed to do? (v22)

Submit. Wives should follow the leadership of their husbands. This is not enforced, servile oppression, but voluntary. Husbands are not called to make their wives submit.

What is her model? ( v 24 )

The submission of the church to Christ. The church submits to Christ gladly and joyfully. We follow Christ's lead because we understand that his rule is for our best; we know that he loves us sacrificially (which is what husbands are called to do).We trust that he is guiding us wisely and so we respond with respect and thankfulness. This does not mean that Christians lose their personalities /never think for themselves/ask questions and we will not always find it easy or natural to submit. However, a wife's submission should be "as to the Lord"......as part of her service to Christ in this world.

 

It is important to make three biblical qualifications at this point:

. Submission is always conditional upon obedience to God.....so if a husband demands his wife disown or disobey Christ, she should not submit to him.

. Submission is not mindless......it does not mean never holding an opinion or making a point (see Mark 14.35-36)

. Submission is not about ability or value.....men and women are both made in the image of God (Genesis 1.28). To have a different role does not mean to have a different value. God does not love ministers more than cleaners!

 

What does Paul tell husbands to do? (v 25)

To love their wives, and their leadership must flow from love. Note that the command to love is repeated 3 times. (v 25,28,33 ).A husband is to be committed to loving his wife by serving her through leading her.

What is his model? (v 25-27)

Christ himself. Christ loved the church by giving himself up, even unto death.   (v 25). A husband should sacrificially give himself to the good of his wife; to love her for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health......not just providing for her materially but giving himself to her, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The aim of a godly husband's love is his wife's best interests, which Paul explains from 3 aspects of Christ's love....

. Christ died to make his people holy (v 26). ie. devoted to God.

. Christ died to cleanse us from sin.

. Christ died to present us to himself on the last day as "radiant"(v 27)....without any stain, wrinkle, or imperfection.

Paul says that this should be the chief goal for his wife ....not short term happiness, but long term holiness, cleansing and radiance in Christ.

 

What does Paul talk about in verse 31?

Human marriage. Paul quotes from Genesis 2.24.

                                         married

 What does he then say he's talking about in verse 32?

"Christ and the church". Paul's deeper focus is not upon our marriages, but rather the gospel; that people of every background are being united to Christ.

How does this help us to avoid making too little and too much, of marriage between a man and a woman?

Western culture assumes that marriage can be redefined according to society's opinions. Entering it is seen as a temporary decision rather than a life-long promise...if it does not make us happy we are free to walk away. As Christians, we understand that marriage is a God-given union and a life-long commitment. It is also part of the way in which the mystery of the gospel, the wonder of Christ's love for his people and his peoples' glad submission to him, is displayed to the heavenly realms and to the world.

This passage also reminds us not to make too much of marriage or family, as it is only for this present life. It is a picture of a much greater reality ....the relationship between Christ and his church. So we must not make marriage an idol, where it becomes too important and compromises our obedience to Christ and our commitment to his church. If we are not married, or in a difficult marriage, we need to remember that we can still enjoy eternally, the greater relationship that marriage pictures.

 

Read Ephesians 6.1-4

What are children who are still living at home to do?(V 1)

Obey your parents. Children should fully comply with their parents' instructions. Children need masses of disciplined love (not indulgence), but also loving discipline (not bullying).

What does it mean for adult children to obey verse 2?

The word "honour" means serious respect and is commonly translated as "fear" or "reverence". This means respecting parents' wisdom and seeking their advice. It means practical care and support and not showing disrespect in the way that we talk about them.

What are Fathers (and mothers if there is no father around) to do and not to do? (v4)

. To "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord". These means nurturing and nourishing, implying long term relational care. Training means "corrective discipline" and "instruction of the Lord" means godly parents will make time to read the bible and pray with their children.

Note here that Paul is not saying that it is the parents’ job to make their children be Christians, but it is their job to ensure that their children grow up understanding the gospel and what it means to follow Jesus.

. To not "exasperate your children". This implies no severe or relentless discipline, harsh demands, unfair rules or constant criticism or humiliation. The aim of all parents is to consciously resolve to enjoy their children as precious gifts from God for a short season.

 

                                  family together                                                     

 

Read Ephesians 6.6-9.

Paul is speaking here to slaves and their masters....but there is much for us to learn from the principles he gives for our workplaces today.

What should motivate our hard work as employees? (v5-8)

. We are to obey our bosses as slaves of Christ (v 6). We should serve others in our work as a part of doing God's will from our hearts. Whatever may be our work we can do it wholeheartedly as a part of our service to our Lord.

big boss

. We are "serving the Lord, not people" (v 7). Whether we are farmers working the land, or a part of a large IT company, we can all work, in our own small way to help govern God's creation.

. "The Lord will reward each one for whatever they do" (v 8). Even though an earthly master may not notice or care what we do, our Lord sees everything, including our motives for doing it and will delight to reward us in heaven. Christ is so generous....with a bonus in heaven among "the incomparable riches of his grace" (2 v 7 )

 

                                           great job                                                              

What should we not allow to motivate us? (v5-8)

. Personal advancement (v6)

. A boss/colleague watching us. We must strive to work hard when there is no one to see us

. What do bosses need to remember? (v 9)

They have a master too and they are accountable to God. Our God doesn't show favouritism; he will not reward bosses more in heaven because of their better education or expensive clothes. They will not be rewarded for their status, but for the way they have faithfully served God.

How would this shape the treatment of those working under their authority?

. They would treat them in the way they would like to be treated.

. They will not threaten or intimidate their employees, nor take advantage of their power over them.

. They will still lead, using their authority well and wisely for the good of everyone.

 

If you would like to explore more.......

Read Mark 10.42-45 and note how Jesus explains the difference between how the world uses authority and how members of his kingdom use their authority.

 

To think about.......

How can you support members of your church in their marriages, as parents and in the workplace?

 

Pray.......

. For those you know who are struggling in their marriages.

. For those in your church who are preparing for marriage.

. For those you know who are parents.

. For those whose work is hard, tedious or dangerous, that they may know that whatever they are doing ....God sees and will reward their faithfulness.

 

Next week will be our last session studying Ephesians and we will be looking at Ephesians 6.10-24,which is entitled "Spiritual Warfare". As always there will be a zoom session on Weds. Aug 19 to discuss and pray about the issues raised in the study.

The zoom meeting ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password in 3NZjXF. The session lasts around 30 min. and everyone is very welcome, whether or not you are a regular member of All Saints, Walton on the Naze.

 

 

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                Christians are not Chameleons  8.8.20


Christians are not Chameleons.

                                                                                                                     

chameleon    

 

Ephesians 4.17 - 5. 20

 

We probably all know that chameleons are an amazing species of lizard that can adapt their appearance to match their surroundings, in order to stay camouflaged and safe.

 

How might Christians live like chameleons?


. We may be consciously copying someone else.


. We may have a spiritually damaging fixation with salary and status.


. We may have a spiritually unhealthy tendency to approve of ungodly religious opinions,  

   because of a fear of appearing "judgmental".


. If we're unhappily single or unhappily married  we may surrender to selfish self- pity or 

  indulge our appetites for sexual fantasy, giving in to lies propagated by the media which  

 claim that we are entitled to sexual pleasure and stunted without it.


Why might Christians live like spiritual chameleons?


To "blend in" and remain safe from criticism and rejection.


How can we tell that we are living like spiritual chameleons?

When unbelievers who have spent time with us are shocked to discover that we are Christians.

 

Read Ephesians 4.17 - 5.2.

 

What does Paul mean by "living as the Gentiles do "? (v 17-19)


He means.........

. To think like non-Christians....."in the futility of their thinking"(v 17) This might mean empty worship/superstitious idolatry/platitudes of popular folk religion (eg. a deceased atheistic relative is "happily smiling down on us"). Or it may be the empty confidence that whichever God exists "he'll look at my good points and let me into heaven".


. To "be darkened in their understanding....separated from the life of God because of....the hardening of their hearts" (v 18). Futile thinking is caused by spiritual blindness. Paul has more to say on this in Romans 1.18 - 21.


. This futile thinking caused by hardened hearts results in a life without sensitivity (the relationship we were created for to have with God), directed by sensuality (shameless debauchery),indulging in impurity (riotous immorality) and being full of greed(insatiable appetites, because sin never satisfies).


Notice that Paul is saying that although as Christians the Spirit has given them new hearts and a relationship with God, they can still think in this futile way and be influenced by these appetites.

 

What difference does becoming a Christian make? (v 22-24)


. We are to take off our "old self" and reject our previous lifestyle.(v 22)


. Getting "undressed" in this way prepares us for a new attitude (v 23). God's Spirit renews our attitudes through his word. This process begins at conversion ....and continues throughout our lives.


. We must keep practising the "putting on" of our "new self" (v 24).This means to become more like Jesus.


Think about all this as "changing our whole wardrobe". We must be dressed utterly differently to how we were before God saved us.

 

                                       right clothes                                              

 

What distinction between "old self" and "new self" living does Paul highlight in   verses 25-32?

. Falsehood vs speaking truthfully. (v 25)


We must be honest and speak the truth about each other....no more gossiping, exaggeration or lying.

. Sinful anger vs (implicitly ) forgiveness.(v26-27)


Sometimes it is appropriate to be angry, such as when people are persecuted for their faith, or when someone has been hurt by someone else in the church. However we are not to indulge our anger so that it becomes self-important righteous indignation. Paul advises a time limit for grievances, so that Satan can't build up divisive factions.


. Stealing and a "taking "attitude vs working hard in order to live out a "giving" attitude. (v 28)


Paul acknowledges that as un-believers we may have "stolen" eg. borrowing but not returning/avoiding taxes. As Christians we are expected to work hard, not over-indulge ourselves and be generous in our giving to our family, the church ,and worthwhile causes.      We no longer use our hands to get, but to give.


. Unwholesome talk vs building-up talk. (v 29)


Unwholesome = "rotten". This means vulgar jokes/damaging gossip/spiteful criticism. We are meant to use words that build up and not tear down....words that encourage and strengthen faith.


. No more grieving of the Spirit. (v 30)


Paul refers here to the rebellions of Israel on their way to the promised land. (Isaiah 63 v 10). We who have God's Spirit are not to grieve him by continued grumbling or moral disobedience.


No more bitterness, rage, slander, malice. (v31 )


We are to replace our malicious instincts towards those who annoy/mock/hurt/malign us with the grace that Christ showed towards his enemies......including us.


Who is our great model in living like this? (4.32-5.2 )


God himself. Rather than being chameleons ,we are to imitate God (5.1);especially in demonstrating the sacrificial love he has shown to us....supremely in Christ's death.

 

To think about........

. What do I need to take off?

. What do I need to put on?

. What changes will that involve?


Ask God to renew your mind and help you get changed, so that you no longer live like a chameleon, conformed to the culture around you, but as a Christian, conformed to Christ, who died to save you.

 

Read Ephesians 5.8-14.


Paul now turns to an area which particularly applies to us today, where Christians are under great pressure to compromise their faith and behave like chameleons......sexual morality.


What does it mean to" live a life of love"? (v 2)


To give ourselves up. True love is about voluntary self-sacrifice......particularly when it is directed to others' salvation or blessing. Our love is to be Christ shaped, not culture shaped and should be done to please God as a "fragrant offering "ie."pleasing".

 

                                            smell roses                                                                 



What must God's people even indulge a hint of.......? (v 3-4)


. Sexual immorality. This applies to any sexual activity outside marriage. This includes watching porography, reading erotic novels, watching sexually explicit films, lusting......and so on.


. Impurity. This also includes lusting, but also behaviour such as crudeness and drunkenness.


. Greed. An unrestrained desire for material things which leads to covetousness and bitterness.


. Obscenity. Coarse talk and joking, together with conversation that makes light of immorality. We should take care with what we laugh at or smile about.

 

How does Paul underline the seriousness of these commands in verses 3-7?


. v3 If we want to be in God's family we have to be different.


. v5 Habitual ,unrepentant behaviour of these sorts( ie. a settled lifestyle and not the occasional lapse) means that, whatever we may think we are outside God's kingdom.


. v6 We mustn't think that we can repeatedly disobey God and not truly repent....... and not face his anger.


. v6-7 Given Paul's warnings in v 3 and 5-6 ,we must not become "partners with " those who are disobedient.

 

Re-read v8-14 .What image does Paul use here to describe what makes a Christian different from others.......


Paul uses 3 images in v 8-9....

. Darkness....we come from it.

. Light.......we come to it.

. Fruit.....as children of God we now grow it!


What should a Christian do? (v 10-11)

Find out what pleases the Lord.


And not do?


Have nothing to do with fruitless, non-Christian ways of living.

Why is it loving for a Christian not only to have "nothing to do "with sinful behaviour, but to "expose it, by living differently?


People around us can see that there is a different way both to think and live and so their assumptions are challenged. By a different lifestyle false premises and empty promises can be challenged.


What else does Paul tell Christians not to do and to do? ( v 18 )


"Do not get drunk on wine". We are to enjoy God's gifts (Ps. 104.15), but not to get drunk.....whether this drunkenness takes place in a town centre, respectable dinner party, or at a friend's home. Then Paul says "do be filled with the Spirit". We are people who "are under the influence "of the Holy Spirit  and not of alcohol.

 

                                    rightspirirt                                               


What are the signs that someone is filled with the Spirit?(v. 19.....see also Colossians 3.16-17)


We sing joyfully to one another...to build each other up in the faith as our hearts sing to the Lord.

 

                                         sing out                                                         

 

To think about......


Bible believing Christians often have a reputation for what they deny and reject, but not a matching reputation for gracious generosity towards others......

 

Is this true of you? How can you live in such a way that people realise that you love them even when your life is distinctly different (and maybe unpopular)?

 

Pray.........


. For strength to become more like Jesus, who was full of kindness even to those who hated 

  him.


. Thank God for making you "light in the Lord, with new Christ-like clothes to wear.


. Ask God to help you with those times when you struggle to live for Christ and to change and 

  renew you.

 

Our study next week will be  "At Home and at Work” and we will be reading Ephesians 5.21-6.9. As always there will be a Zoom discussion on the passage on Weds. Aug.12 at 10.30, to which all are very welcome. The Zoom ID is 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjXF.


                          How Churches Grow 1.8.20


                                                                                                                         

3 houses 

                                                                                                           

Ephesians 4.1-16

 

In this passage Paul outlines the fundamental principles of how God wants to grow his churches, both numerically and in godliness.....in every generation and culture.

These verses mark the beginning of the second half of Ephesians......

Chapters 1-3 have celebrated God's eternal plan:

Chp. 1. To gather all things in heaven and on earth under Christ, which reconciles us to God  and to each other.......

Chp. 2. Through the death and resurrection of Christ......

Chp. 3. To manifest his triumphant wisdom to the spiritual realms in his church.

 

Read Ephesians 4.1-16

 

Think back to the content of chapters 1-3. What is the "calling you have received?"

It is a calling to ......

. Praise God as we enjoy our spiritual blessings in Christ (1 v 3)

. Live as God's forgiven children, pure and blameless.(1 v 4-5,7)

. Live under Christ's rule, as one day everything will.(1 v 10)

. Know God better, understand our hope more and experience his power at work in us.(1 v 17-20)

. Do the good works God prepared for us to do as his new-created people (2 v 10)

. Proclaim God's wisdom to the heavenly realms. (3 v 10)

 

What does verse 1 suggest Paul will be teaching us about in the rest of his letter?

"How to live a life worthy" of this identity we now have as a part of God's family, under Christ's rule, in response to his grace and by the power of his Spirit.

 

Where do church members have to put their effort? (v 3)

Protecting the "unity of the Spirit" through our "bond of peace". This is our shared experience of adoption into God's family for peace with God and peace with each other in Christ. We must do all that we possibly can to pursue and maintain the unity of our church, instead of fuelling division.

 

                                     unityofspirit                                                     

 What three attitudes does Paul lay out in verse 2 which we need to adopt and why does each require effort?

1. Being humble. This does not mean being quiet or shy, or always speaking critically of ourselves. It means not seeking to be the focus of other people's care and attention, but seeking unselfishly to promote the good and well - being of others.

2. Being "gentle".(literally "meek").This is not weak, but is best thought of as "strength under control"; to show kindness rather than roughness, compassion rather than force and showing soft encouragement rather than hard bullying.

3. Being "patient". Here we need to be long -suffering of the faults of others and to be slow in rebuking them. Those young in the faith may seem unreliable, lazy or demanding and need to be dealt with sensitively and with understanding, realising that spiritual growth takes time.

 

How do verses 4-6 underline the special Spirit-given unity we have within our church?

The repeated word here is one. We are united together as God's people because we have so much in common as Christians.

      

                                    love eachother                                                                     

 Read Ephesians 4.7-14

 

What has each church member been given and by whom?

Grace......... ..................Given by Christ.

God's Riches AChrist's Expense.

Given that in verses 11-12mPaul goes on to talk about roles and abilities, what does "grace" mean in verse 7?

"Grace" here is not referring to God saving us by grace alone in Christ dying for us, but for his subsequent and additional grace in giving us gifts of ministry: these are not for our satisfaction or reputation, but to enrich the life and service of others in our church family.

 

The quote from Psalm 68 in verse 8 speaks of the ascended Christ giving his people to the world. So Paul explains that Jesus has not only given to every church the foundational apostles and prophets of the first century (v 11-see 2 v 20).He has also given some people in every church the gifts needed to be "evangelists.....pastors and teachers).

What is the job of evangelists/pastors/teachers?

To equip the people in their church for "works of service"(or ministry/worship).Teachers have been given to the church by Jesus for the equipping of people for many different ministries, which will grow and build up the church to glorify God.

What is the outcome of this? ( 12b-13 )

The "body of Christ" (the church) is built up, It is the ministry (or works) of God's people to build up the church in maturity and unity. As the whole church contributes its ministry, it will grow in "unity in the faith" (v 13). It will become" mature" as it shares a true understanding of Christ as he is revealed in scripture and hence become more like Christ himself. All of us have ministries and so we are all "ministers". Our "paid" clergy /ministers/pastors are there to encourage, challenge and equip us to identify as to how we can minister to our church and to get going with our various ministries......they are not there to do all the ministry.

 

Read Ephesians 4.14-16

What will a church where every member is contributing to the ministry......

. not do? (v 14). They will not be susceptible to false teaching and following the latest fashion "fads".

. do? (v 15). They will speak the truth in love and as they do so they will grow in maturity and become like Christ. We are all to speak truthfully and lovingly and are to counsel each other as to how the gospel affects our lifestyles/decisions/attitudes. We should challenge fellow believers who we fear are not living according to the truth in some way. However this is not a license for us to say inappropriate things to someone we dislike, or find irritating; or to sit in judgement and exercise control over people. Instead we should seek to bring people to the word of Christ for his counselling, acknowledging that none of us are perfect.

 

How does the image of the church that Paul gives in verse 16 underline all that he has been saying in this passage?

Each local church is a body, growing as "each piece does its work". The head is the Lord Jesus Christ ....and it all comes from him. The image of the body underlines: the unity of the congregation and the importance of maintaining that unity; the need for every single church member to serve the whole in whatever way they can and bible teachers being like "ligaments", supporting and enabling that body to grow.

 

                                   body of christ                                                                       

 

If you would like to go further.........

Read 1 Corinthians 12.12-31.

What ideas have you seen from Ephesians 4 does Paul develop in this passage?

How far is verse 26 description of your church ,and your own attitude to others in your church?

 

So, the three ingredients for a growing church are

. Unity

. Ministry

. Maturity

 

To think about............

What part are you playing in:

. Keeping and nurturing unity?

. Contributing your ministry?

. Growing in maturity as you speak the truth in love?

 

A challenge...........

Do you come to church expecting to be served, or to serve others?

Do you see your abilities and talents as Christ-given for your church's growth?

 

Pray.........

For your church leaders, that they would equip your church to serve and pray about ways in which you are ,or are considering serving.

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 Mystery revealed - 25.7.20


                                  faithquestion                                                  

 

                                                      Ephesians 3

 

In this passage, Paul explains that there had been a perplexing mystery troubling Israel for centuries, concerning God's salvation plan......a mystery now solved in a most astonishing ,unexpected fashion.

 

Read Ephesians 3.1-13

What exactly was the mystery made known to Paul (v 3-6)?

v 4. The "mystery of Christ".......a secret plan that was solved by and revealed in the death of Christ.

v 6. It is that through the gospel, Gentiles and Jews can be saved, without keeping the law of Israel ,through faith in Christ, who kept the law for us and died for our lawbreaking . So now both Jews and Gentiles are......

Heirs together. (The original text doesn't mention "with Israel"). We stand to inherit God's eternal kingdom ,as part of his new people.

. Members of one body. We are all united as part of Christ's church and we are all equally part of that body. No one is more or less useful or special to it.

. Sharers "in the promise in Christ Jesus". Paul is referring to the empowering of the Spirit, whose presence was promised in the OT as the chief blessing of being the people of God. (Ezekiel 36.26-27) and who now lives in anyone who believes in the Gospel. (Ephesians 1.13-14).

 

                                             All together                                                          

 How did Paul know the solution to the mystery(v3,5)?

It was revealed to Paul "by revelation" (v3,5) Paul didn't invent it or "work it out"....God revealed it to him through His Spirit.(v5). Note here that Paul's gospel was not new......the gospel of blessing for all nations in God's kingdom had been announced to Abraham and promised by the prophets.. What was "new" was how God had brought about that blessing, which was the ancient gospel revealed.

 

What are we heirs to? Read Revelation 22.1-5.

."The river of the water of life" depicts an inexhaustible torrent of life giving spiritual abundance, forever washing us clean and filling us with thirst -quenching satisfaction from the Holy Spirit. (see Ezekial 47.1-12; John.7.38)

 

                                                                 

                                        river

."The tree of life" (literally the "wood " of life) symbolises the everlasting deliverance of the cross and the leaves of this tree are "for the healing of the nations". (Revelation 22.2) permanently healing us from the damage of sin in our souls and the decay of death in our bodies. As the tree of life in the Garden of Eden was the source of life that looked forward to the cross on which Jesus was punished for our sins, the tree of life in the new creation looks back to the cross as the source of eternal life.

 

                                           tree of life                                                                    

"His servants )including us) will serve him', see him and rule with him.

 

Imagine how all this would have encouraged Paul as he languished in prison in a pagan city.........

 

What is Paul's role in the revealing of this mystery (v 7-9)?

He is a servant (literally slave) of the gospel (v7) with the particular role of telling the Gentiles "the boundless riches of Christ" (v 8). His task was to explain how through the life/death/resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is able to forgive and give eternal glory to both Jew and Gentile alike.

What amazing truth do we discover about our churches in verses 10-11?

The triumph of God's eternal plan is to gather a diverse people into his kingdom under Christ which is seen in every local church. The local church displays to the heavenly realms "the manifold wisdom of God".

So how does Paul, who is in prison ,see his sufferings (v13) ?

He views them as being necessary for his mission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and then build up Gentile believers in their faith

How should the Ephesians see his sufferings(v 13)?

Likewise the Ephesians should not be discouraged. The church in Ephesus is a trophy in the cabinet of God's grace to sinners.

 

Read Ephesians 3. 14-21.

 

What does Paul ask the Father to give the Ephesian Christians (v 16,18, 20) ?

Notice the repeated word.......power.

 

                                           seek spirit


What does he ask God to do through the power of the Spirit?

.v16-17. To enable these believers to welcome Christ into their lives so that he can be at home in their hearts. From the moment that we believe the gospel Christ dwells within us by His Spirit.(1.13-14).Note that "dwell" doesn't just mean arrive, but to settle down. Paul is praying that Christ would make himself the centre of their affections/decisions/behaviour. That their lives would change so deeply, that they would become a dwelling place fit for a perfect king.

.v18-19.  To appreciate the vast scale and immensity of Christ's love for them. This can only happen through God's power and not our own effort. Paul prays that as we experience more and more of Jesus love for us, looking back at his death for us on the cross and experience his present love for us.....that we will live with the confidence of being a people who are so greatly and infinitely loved.

 

Why can we realistically hope to become suitable dwellings for the perfect Christ; and truly know the unknowable love of Christ (v20-21)?

........because God is able to do all that we can think of......and more. We can never transform ourselves by or through our own strength of initiative. We can never fully grasp the magnitude of the love God has for us in Christ. However it is not about our ability ,it is about God's and he is more powerful than we can ever appreciate or imagine. He is the God of the impossible.(Luke 1.37)

 

How do these verses help us when......

. we don't know what to pray for?

. we begin to fear that prayer does not work?

. we feel inadequate as believers?

. we feel that we are unloved or misunderstood?

 

Remember that Paul is in prison as he prays this joyful ,hope-filled ambitious prayer. Life is never too hard to be able to pray, or pray boldly, either for ourselves or for others. God is never unable to come through for us. We need to challenge ourselves and each other to pray unselfish and ambitious prayers, not based on our own situation ,but on the character and power of the one to whom we are speaking.

 

Pray......

In verses 14-19 Paul gives us plenty to pray for, so do so now.

Pray for yourself and for a couple of other Christians for a greater grasp of God's love......

Use the truths of verses 20-21 to praise God.

 

Next week will be studying Ephesians 4.1-16 with the theme "How churches grow".

 

There will be the usual Zoom session on Wednesday July  at 10.30 to discuss the bible study. This is open to anyone who is interested and wants to share their experiences and /or ask questions. The session lasts around 40 min,but you are free to come and go as you would wish. The Zoom ID is 73722959656 and the password is 3NZjXF.

 

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 New Life, New People - 18.7.20


 

                                                                                                   

Ephesians 2



                                         alive in christ                      

 

To think about.......(1)

How would you define "grace"? Does "God's grace" make any difference to your daily life? If so what?

 

Read Ephesians 2. 1-10

 

Our nature has put us under the power of three "tyrants"(v2-3) . What are they?

1.The ways of this world. We follow a cultural worldview of our sinful race. At present there are two principal worldviews......

."Traditional". A social hierarchy, concerned with duty and good works which rejects the gospel because it does see the need for a Saviour, since good works and dutiful living are enough.

."Emergent". This is self-focused, pluralistic and /or atheistic. It worships idols such as sex, pleasure, power, family, money.......It rejects the gospel because it does not recognise Jesus as Lord.

2."The ruler of the kingdom of the air". The Devil, a hostile supernatural tyranny in Hebrew thinking. Satan exists in the spiritual sphere between earth and heaven....or "in the air". Satan is active in us all and in unbelievers he tempts them with lies causing them to doubt the existence, truth and motives behind God's word. Satan has been doing this since the beginning (Genesis 3.1-7). We'll learn more about satanic powers and Christ's victory over them in chapter 6.

3."The cravings of the flesh". (v3). This means our whole human nature. These cravings include our desperate appetites for pornography or selfish luxury, as well as self-indulgent attention seeking and proud self-glorification.

 

What was the result of this (v1, 3b)?

"You were dead in your transgressions and sins"(v1). We were all born spiritually dead to God....utterly lifeless and insensitive to our creator; we faced both physical and spiritual death and separation from God in Hell. We were,therefore "by nature children of wrath"(v3),or deserving of wrath. God's wrath, not impersonal or vindictive rage, but God's consistently pure anger towards evil. God is not describing any particular degraded or decadent sector of society.....but all of us.

 

How do these verses show us the desperate state of humanity?

Not one of us can say that "we are a good person". By nature we are dead....spiritually dead and enslaved to the world, Satan's influence and fleshy desires. We should be facing an eternity of suffering in Hell!

 

 

 

What has God done to rescue us from our plight? (v 4-6)

God's mercy is revealed in three stages of resurrection, with cosmic implications.....

1. He made us alive (v 5)

Through faith in Jesus, we share in his representative death and resurrection as our king.

2. He raised us up (v 6) In our representative king we've already been accepted in heaven where Jesus was raised. When Jesus died and rose, we died and rose with him. Heaven is our future destination.

3. He has seated us with him in the heavenly realms. (v 6)We're already seated with Jesus in his position of authority at the Father's right hand in the heavenly realms. Since he has already sat down, our places are secured by him.

(It is worth noting at this point that an excellent and well known commentary was written on Ephesians by Watchman Nee ,which was entitled "Sit, Walk, Stand")

Why has God done this?.......

So that in "in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace". God wants to spend eternity showering us with blessings!! God's great plan is not just to clean up humanity' mess and rebellion, but forever to pour out a torrent of loving kindness upon us in Heaven.

 

                                         stairway to heaven                                   

 

Which words describe God's character (v4-7)? What does each mean?

*Love (v 4). God's commitment to bless us forever in Christ.

*Mercy (v 4). God withholding the punishment that we deserve because Christ endured it for us in the cross.

*Grace (v 5,7,8).God generously giving us what we need in the obedience of Christ, even unto   

  death.

*Kindness (v 7). God's compassion in coming down to become one of us, to take our rightful place on the cross.

 

How are we saved? (v8-9)

Our salvation is entirely God's generous and costly gift. We receive this gift through faith (v8)..God's grace is the whole origin of our salvation. We are not saved by good works (v 9).....as some kind of reward for good deeds, religious performance, or our church ministry (Note here that "good works" is the passport to heaven for both Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and other cults).

So what is the wrong response to being saved? (v 9)

We've nothing to boast about ....except the cross of Christ (Galatians 6.14)

And the right response? (v10)

We are now created in Christ in order to do good works. We've been recreated by God's Spirit for a purpose....to do the good works God prepared for us to do, in gratitude to him.               We need never feel insignificant or useless.

 

Read Ephesians 2v 11-22

 

How does v 12 describe the Gentiles' desperate state?

Note; these verses are quite complex.

*They are separate from Christ. (v 12)Gentiles had no share in the benefits of the Jewish people in the great promise of the Messiah ie. the anointed one or Christ. He had now arrived in the person of Jesus.

*They were excluded from citizenship in Israel. (v 12)Gentiles had no rights in knowing God or His covenant promises; His ethical laws, powerful protection or his faithful provision.

*They were foreigners to the covenants of the promise. ( v 12) God made on marvellous promise to Abraham, that he and all his descendants would enjoy the blessings of God's kingdom (Genesis 12v1-3).

*They were without hope and without God in the world. (v 12). In the face of death, there was only despair and no hope because Gentiles had no relationship with God.

What has changed and how has it changed? (v 13-18)

We who were once far away from God have been brought near to God and his people through Jesus' sacrifice for our sins. Christ has united two of the most deeply separated peoples in world history......Jews and Gentiles, into one entirely new people, central to God's plan to unite all things under him (v 14,16). Christ fulfilled all the terms of the Jewish law in his life and then in his death exhausted its condemnation of both Jew and Gentile. Jesus can now preach peace both with God and with each other.....to you who were far away (Gentiles) and to you who are near (Jews). We all share access to our Father on the same basis.....through Jesus (v 18) by the work of the same Spirit.

 

                                                hanshake                                                            

 

The Jews used to be able to meet God in the Jerusalem Temple. The Gentiles were excluded.

Where does God now dwell? (v 21-22)

In and with his people......the church....by His Spirit.

 

                                          churchhouse                                                                   



On what foundation is this "new "temple constructed? (v 20)

The foundation is the apostles and prophets. The heavenly church, expressed in all its local congregations on earth, is founded upon the teaching of the first century apostles of Christ, who announced the gospel of Christ and the first -century prophets who explained the word of God (see 4.11). The foundation is finished and is sufficient. The cornerstone of the whole building is Christ.

 

                                           thecornerstone           

To think about (2).........

How would you now define "grace"? Look again at the truths of v11-22 and v1-10.

 

Pray.........

Read through v 1-3 and use them as the basis of prayers of confession.

Read v 4-9 and use them to praise the God of amazing grace.

Read v 10 and pray for help to do the good works God has prepared for you. Pray about ways you are struggling to live his way.

 

There will be a Zoom session on Weds. July 22 at 10.30 to discuss this session. Zoom ID 73722959656 Password 3NZjXF. Everyone is very welcome.

Next week's study will be Ephesians 3 on the subject "Mystery revealed".

 














Bigger Prayers 11.7.20

                                             bigger prayers                                                 

 

 To think about........(1)

When you pray or Christian friends or family members, what kind of things do you tend to pray about?

 

Read Ephesians 1.15-23

 

What is Paul doing and why? (v 15-16)

He is giving thanks for the Ephesian Christians; for their faith in God and their love for one another. In v1-14 Paul has talked about God gathering His chosen, redeemed and sealed people.....now he gives thanks for their faith.


What is revealing about Paul saying that he has not stopped doing this?

Paul prayed unceasingly/regularly/all the time. Prayer was a constant feature of his life.          He was now suffering in prison, but he still prayed for his Christian friends all the time.


                                         pray continually                                                                

 

Let us sum up the things about which Paul is praying.........

. v17 That they will know God better, through his Spirit's work in them.

. v18 That their hearts will be dominated and directed  more and more by the great hope they have in Christ.

. v19 That they will appreciate the immense power of God that works in them to secure them in faith and for their future.

 

Who will need to be at work in us if we are to know God better? (v17)


His Spirit. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation, who will bring a deeper understanding of God as he is revealed in His word ,so that we can bet to know him better.


Think about verses 3-14. Why would we want other Christians to "know God better?


Because he is our creating, ruling, electing, redeeming, sealing, glorifying God, who loves us. God is perfect....the more we know him, the more we will know of his love for us and enjoy loving him.

 

The word "heart "in the bible is not used to describe the organ pumping blood around our bodies, but the centre of physical and spiritual well-being, combining our intellectual understanding and our personal affections .


                                                 good heart                                                                      

......with all this in mind, what is Paul praying for in v18?


That we will be able to see the world in an "enlightened " or Christ centred way. That we will love the things that God loves and trust God to be at work. We are confident that whatever happens we are headed for our inheritance in Heaven.

 

At the end of v18 Paul says "the riches of our glorious inheritance in His holy people" What does he mean by this?


God has saved sinners (us!) to be ""His inheritance"; we are the most precious thing in His new creation.


What does this tell you about what brings God joy?


We do! God will enjoy our company and shower us with abundant blessings forever. Note; this reminds me of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which answers the question

.....What is the chief end of man? Answer; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

 

What else does Paul want the hearts of the Ephesians Christians to know? (v19)


His "incomparably great power".


How should v 20 excite us about the kind of power that is at work in us and for us?


It is a power great enough to raise Jesus from the dead and seat him in the heavenly realms. That same power is now used to enable us to keep going in the faith and will be used to raise us from the dead as well. Jesus has gone before us and we shall follow in his steps.

                                     by his wounds                                                                             


How does Paul assure us in verses 21-23 that nothing can stop us from being His "inheritance"?


Our Saviour is enthroned far above all evil powers .....above every position imaginable.      He rules "for"(ie. for the benefit of) his church (v 22). However small our churches, or however vulnerable we feel, all God's resurrection power is being used to keep churches trusting Christ. There is no one more powerful than our Lord.

 

To think about ........(2) How do our prayers for Christian friends compare with Paul's prayers for his Christian friends?

 

Let's get personal........


Don't just pray for your Christian friends to know earthly peace, prosperity, health and happiness. Pray for them to experience the huge spiritual privileges of knowing God better, of knowing the hope to which he has called us and of knowing the power to which he has committed in order to bring us home to be with him.

Now.........


Write down three prayer requests for others, based on Paul's three prayers in verses 17,18 and 19.

 

Next week our study will be on Ephesians 2 on the subject of "New Life, New People". This will be followed by the usual Zoom session  on Wednesday July 15 at 10.30 .The Zoom password is 737 2295 9656 and the password is 3NZjXF. Everyone is very welcome.

 

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 Every Blessing in Christ 6.6.20



                                           Blessings                             


Read Ephesians 1.1-14

 

Read Ephesians 1.1-2

In our last study we learned that this letter was written by the apostle Paul as a general letter to the church in Ephesus, probably to be shared with other local churches. Note that unlike some of Paul's other letters,there is no mention of local people or issues. Paul calls his readers "the faithful in Christ Jesus" (1.1) because this letter especially celebrates the blessings of being in Christ together.

 

Read Ephesians 1.3-6

What has God the Father done for every Christian?

Blessed us!

Why is "every" a stunning word in this verse?

Each believer has received every possible spiritual blessing from God; none  are being withheld. Christians have different gifts/ministries/circumstances, but we all possess every spiritual blessing. There is no other way to gain "special" or "extra" blessings, because we already have them all in Christ. We need never feel more or less blessed than any other believer; God has given each Christian everything to enjoy in eternity.

Where do we find such blessings?( look at 3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,12,and twice in v13)

"In Christ" or "in Him," through Him" or "under Him". We owe everything to God's son. We are blessed personally "in Christ,” to whom we are united by faith. These are fabulous resurrection blessings to all who have put their trust in Him.

 

Paul spends the rest of the passage (4-14) outlining the top three sensational blessings that we enjoy "in Christ".........

 

What has God chosen His people for (4) and what destination has he given them (5)?

For "adoption". God has predestined us to be a part of His family forever in eternity.

 

                                            fammily love       

 

In this first century Greco-Roman world, a slave was sometimes adopted by a wealthy man to become his son and legal heir.

Bearing this in mind, how do verses 4-5 tell us what an amazing and privileged position every Christian enjoys?

By faith in His son, men and women alike are adopted by the Father to share in Jesus' inheritance. We enjoy a son's privileges, the tender care of our Heavenly Father who provides for our daily needs, pardons our sins, protects us from harm, disciplines us in the way we should go and showers us with undeserved kindness. Our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and he is never forgetful/sleepy/uninterested/powerless to help and support us.

 

                                                   dad and child      

 

Paul is talking about election and predestination, which are often difficult doctrines to understand and accept. This section helps us with three natural objections to God's election.

v13 God's election undermines evangelism.

It is through the preaching of the gospel that God calls His elect into Christ, as they hear the message of salvation. We evangelise everyone so that God can involve us in reaching His elect.

. v4-5 God's election undermines humility.

We are not saved because we are more clever or deserving than other people.The decision was made before God even created the world. If we had chosen God rather than Him first choosing us, we could be proud of our wisdom.Our salvation is due only to His gracious initiative.

. v4.See also Romans12.1. God's election undermines any motivation for holiness.

We've been chosen to be accepted by God as holy and blameless on the basis of the holy and blameless life lived for us by Jesus. In gratitude for being saved we are called to gradually become holy and blameless like Him. Election is the reason to be holy!

 

Let's think about how this applies to us........

 

How do the truths of v 4-5 .....

. Humble us? God chose us before the foundation of the world.He chose us because He loves us.....and we have done nothing to deserve that love.

. Encourage us for the future? God has not left any part of His plan uncertain or risky. All that happens will be according to His will. There is a sure and certain future awaiting all believers....even now as we struggle with personal failure and addiction/debilitating physical or mental conditions/miserable jobs or unemployment/painful singleness, divorce or widowhood. Whatever we are facing we can be sure that we are children of God now and will be with Him in eternal glory for evermore.

 

The first great blessing that Paul has shown us is:

 That we are chosen for adoption by the Father. Here is the second.....

 

 

 

Read Ephesians 1.7-10

How does v7 explain what we have in Christ?

Redemption....liberation from slavery. We enjoy having our sins forgiven and set being free!

How did we get this?

Through the blood of Jesus .Christ's death liberates us.

 

If you have time or would like to go deeper into this truth ,have a look at Exodus 12.1-13 ,28-32 and 1 Corinthians 5.7.

We can sum up the second blessing as; We are redeemed by,and for unity under, the Son.

 

Next Paul celebrates the third great blessing.........

 

Read Ephesians 1.11-14.

 

How is the Holy Spirit described in  v 13-14,and what do these terms mean?

. A "seal" (v13) was a mark of ownership and protection, which in Roman culture was often branded upon cattle or slaves. God's seal of constant protection and permanent ownership is the Spirit of God himself; like a birthmark on all His children. We are "marked out" and are completely safe from all frightening powers.

. A "deposit" (v 14) is the first instalment of eternal life, guaranteeing the "full  payment" of enjoying God in Heaven.

 

How do these verses give Christians....

. confidence that they will reach eternal glory with God? If reaching eternal glory was up to us, we would have great cause for worry and uncertainty, but God has marked us as His own, we belong eternally to Him and He is in charge of the future.

excitement about that eternal glory with God? Knowing that the Spirit is merely a deposit means that our current experience is just a taste of what's to come....actually a foretaste of the feast we shall enjoy in God's presence.

So here is our third wonderful blessing that we enjoy in Christ: 

"We are sealed for our inheritance by God's Spirit.

 

                                                Gods property        

 

To think about.......

What blessings mentioned in this passage have particularly excited you ,and why?

 

Pray......Thank God for those blessings and whether you are riding on the highest peaks of joy and success, or sinking in the lowest troughs of pain and failure ,ask God to make you continually aware of all His blessings and loving kindness.

 

 

Next week.....we will be looking at Ephesians 1.15-23 and the study is entitled "Praying Bigger Prayers".

 

There will be the usual Zoom session to discuss this study on Wednesday July 8 at 10.30. Meeting ID and password can be found on the website.


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 Your Place in God's Plan 30.5.20


 

                                           thoughtful man                                              

 Today we begin a new study for the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians. We will be using a study guide written by Richard Coekin, who has entitled the series " Your place in God's plan". This session will be a general introduction to the book, setting the scene for all that is to come.........

 

So .......why study Ephesians?

 

What is God's plan for this world?

And what is your place and our church's place, in that plan?

God's eternal cosmic plan to unite everything under Christ has been accomplished by Christ's death and resurrection in triumph over satanic powers.....and so every local church is a glimpse of our glorious future when we unite under his rule.

 

Welcome to Ephesus.

Ephesus is the shopping centre of the ancient world; today it is situated in Western Turkey. It is located at the meeting point of both the major land and sea routes to the East and is a major commercial centre and port. It has a large man-made harbour,connected to the Aegean sea by a narrow channel.

The city is packed with impressive monuments, including the temple of Artemis                        (or Diana), which was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. Statues of the goddess can be purchased from local silversmiths. The local stadium is worth a visit, where there are various entertainments and the occasional riot.

 

The church at Ephesus.

The church here was one of the more prominent ones that were established by Paul. It was founded in AD 53 on Paul's homeward journey to Jerusalem, but he did return a year later ,on his third missionary trip and stayed there for three years preaching and teaching (Acts 19 .1-20). Paul met with Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20.17-38),and he sent Timothy to them to serve as their leader (1 Timothy 1.3). Just a few years later Paul was sent as a prisoner to Rome. In Rome he was visited by messengers from various churches, including Tychicus of Ephesus. Paul wrote this letter (probably around AD 60)to the church at Ephesus and sent it by Tychicus.

                                      tychicus                                                       

The Letter.

Unlike some letters of Paul, this was not written to counteract any problem or heresy in the church. It was a letter of general encouragement with the aim of strengthening the body of believers and was probably read as a "circular letter" to other churches as well, probably for all the churches planted from Ephesus in the surrounding region. (The earliest manuscripts don't include the name of Ephesus). Paul sees these churches like "trophy cabinets " of God’s' victorious grace. Paul explains the nature and purpose of the church,the body of Christ. It was probably written from prison in Rome.

 

                                       ephesians galatians                                                           

The Debate.

There has been some speculation as to whether Paul was the genuine author of this book. Some have suggested that because Ephesians brings together many of   the themes of Paul's teaching, it can be seen as a summary of his thought ,and might have been written by one of his followers ,as a kind of "introduction to Paul" to be read before studying a collection of his work, however there is not a shred of evidence to support this theory.

 

The Blueprint.

We can divide the letter roughly into 2 sections.....

* Unity in Christ (1.1-3.21)

* Unity in the body of Christ (4.1-6.24)

In this letter Paul explains the wonderful things we have received through Christ and refers to the church as a body, temple, bride, and soldier. These all illustrate unity of purpose and show how each individual  member is a part that must work together with all the other parts.

 

Themes.

We will encounter 5 mega themes......

* God's purpose.

* Christ the centre

* Living church

* New family

* Christian conduct.

 

So as we dig into this letter.........

We will discover precious spiritual treasures for our lives today. These eight studies will deepen our appreciation of God's sovereignty; move us to celebrate God's grace to us; blow our minds with the dimensions of Jesus' love; thrill us with the place of our church in God's plan and show us how we can contribute our time and gifts to it; and explain how in our everyday lives and relationships we can please God and show Christ to those around us.

                                                                   


                                     God's plan



Please join us next week .......when we will begin to discover God's plan for the world and your place in that plan. The session is entitled "Every blessing in Christ " and we shall be looking at Ephesians 1.1-14.

 

As always there will be a follow-up Zoom discussion session on Wednesday July 1 at 10.30. Please check the church website for Zoom ID and password details.

 

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Why study the Holy Spirit? 25.4.2020 

intro Holy spirit pic
Yes folks,this is our new topic: in the run up to Pentecost ,we will be looking at the "Holy Spirit and his work in our lives"; the title of the book by Pete and Anne Woodcock from the Good Book Guide series,which we will use as a basis for our studies; there will be 10 of these,beginning online,and (hopefully!) finishing in the Parish Church Hall on a Saturday morning,to which of course,all are invited.

You may have heard a lot about the Holy Spirit.....or very little. Are you fascinated or confused? There have been many disagreements and divisions around the Holy Spirit,and his work in our lives. This was true in the life of the early church,when the Holy Spirit seemed to be a "minor" figure with regard to the Father(God) and the Son(Jesus).All this was sorted out in 325AD at the famous Council of Nicea ,in present day Turkey( from where we have the Nicene Creed).Here around 230 bishops ,together with Emperor Constantine established the equality of the Father,the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. There were only 3 dissenters ;2 bishops decided to follow Bishop Arius,who denied the deity of Christ,and who were consequently banished. The doctrine of "Arianism " continues to this day in cults and heresies,notably the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Our 8 sessions have been constructed from every single verse in the bible that mentions the Holy Spirit,but as 2 foundational truths are not covered ,we shall look at them before we begin the other studies.These truths are :-

The Holy Spirit is a person ,not a force.

holy spirit explanation

The Holy Spirit is God.....the third person of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit is a person.......
Jesus says that the "Spirit of truth"will come to those who obey His commands;and he addresses the Spirit as "Him" (John 14;15-17and John 16;13-14).We are told not to grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4;30.)The Spirit can be sinned against (Isaiah 63;10)and lied to (Acts 5;3)  We are to obey Him (Acts10;19-21) and honour Him (Psalm 51;11).He was personally involved in creation(Genesis1;2),enpowers God's people(Zechariah 4;6),guides (Romans 8;14),comforts (John 14;26),convicts(John16;8),teaches(John16;13),restrains sin(Isaiah 59;18)         and gives commands(Acts 8;29).Each of these works requires the involvement of a person rather than a mere force,thing ,or idea.

The Holy Spirit is God.....the third person of the Trinity.
Nowhere in scripture does it mention the Holy Trinity,but the whole of scripture declares it as the foundation for our faith. In Genesis there are two names for God in Hebrew "El" and "Elohim" ,they are both translated "God", but Elohim is plural,so right at the beginning of Genesis, God says "Let US make man in OUR image......male and female HE created them. You see here a mixture of plural and singular pronouns. For all of eternity ,The Father,the Son ,and the Holy Spirit have always been in communication with each other,yet not as three Gods....as one God.

analogy of Holy Spirit

We can think of something to illustrate this truth,but no illustration will be perfect......
.Water .......which is H2O (2 atoms of hydrogen to 1 of oxygen); we can see it as water,steam and ice,all radically different forms,but all H2O.
.The Sun....from it we receive light,heat and radiation; 3 distinct aspects but only one sun.

One of the few places in scripture where we see all three persons of the Trinity is at the baptism of Jesus: as he is set apart for his ministry we are told "that Heaven was opened,and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove,and lighting on him. And a voice from Heaven said,'This is my son ,whom I love;with him I am well pleased' ". (Matthew 3;16-17).
We hear of all three persons when the angel Gabriel visited the virgin Mary,he declared "The Holy Spirit will come upon you,and the power of the Most High with overshadow you;and for that reason the holy offspring will be called the Son of God.
And as Christians we are also called" to make disciples of all nations,baptising them in the name of the Father,the Son ,and the Holy Spirit.(Matt. 28;19)

All three persons in the Trinity have relational names. The first person is called FATHER.You cannot be called FATHER unless you have a child.The same goes for the second person in the Trinity;you cannot be called the SON unless you have a father.The third person in the Trinity is called both THE SPIRIT OF THE FATHER (Matt10;20) and the SPIRIT OF THE SON (Gal. 4 ;4-6).

holy spirit1




The Spirit and the Bible  2.5.20 



1 Corinthians 2:1 - 16

How is it possible to Know God? Think about it........

Having dealt with false ideas about how to communicate God's message in 1 Corinthians 1,in 1 Corinthians 2 Paul sets out the true nature of this message,which he calls "the testimony about God" (v1),"God's wisdom"(v7),"Words taught by the Spirit (v13) and the "mind of Christ"(v16). This is where we will find out how we can know about God!


Read 1 Corinthians 2.1-16

How does Paul summarise the content of his message?(v2)

"Jesus Christ and him crucified".


crucifixion


Paul has already explained that he is not prepared to use miraculous signs, or human wisdom to persuade people (1 Corinthians 1.22-25).So what is it that makes Paul's message persuasive?

The Spirit's power (v4), which is the same as God's power(v5). The Spirit's power is demonstrated when people understand the message that is preached,responding in obedience,and so are saved.The book of Acts records that sometimes preaching was accompanied by miraculous signs,however in 1 Corinthians 1.1-2 Paul has already made clear that he rejects demands for miraculous signs to authenticate God's message,and as we move through Acts ,the references to miraculous signs become less frequent.It seems that in the early days of the church ,God gave miraculous signs along with the preaching of the gospel ,to prove that the apostles,like Jesus Christ ,were truly sent from God;as the apostles authority became established,the need for accompanying miracles diminished.

Who is unable to understand the message (6,8,14)? Why?

The rulers of this age (v 6 and v 8)

The man without the Spirit (v14)

They cannot understand or accept this message because.....

.It does not follow the wisdom of this age (v 6) and so appears foolish to them(v 14).

.It is beyond the powers of human reason or imagination(v9) to understand this message.

Who can understand the message (v 14-15) ? Why?

Those to whom God has revealed it by his Spirit,because it can only be spiritually discerned(v 14). Note that that these people are not cleverer or better than those who do not understand God's message;they have been freely given the Spirit by God; something that they have not earned or deserve.

Why do we need the Spirit to understand God's message(v 10-11)?

The Spirit is the only one who knows the thoughts of God (v 10-11). Notice how the reference to the Trinity is completed in v16......       those who understand God's message by the Spirit have "the mind of Christ".

In what form does God's message come to us,according to v 13?

This verse shows us that God's message is taught by words....."words taught by the Spirit".

Read the following bible passages...... How do they agree with what we have learned so far?

2 Peter 1.20-21

Hebrews 1.1-2

1 Peter 1.10-12


Let's investigate more...........


dove

If you looked at Hebrews 1.1-2 you will have read that God has spoken to us in two ways;through the prophets of old " at many times and in various ways"(Old Testament),and "in these last days ....by His Son"(New Testament). Let's look at the role of the Spirit of God's revelation through the Old and New Testament writings.

What was the role of the Spirit in the production of the Old Testament?

Look at the following passages and see who's speaking/writing? Who is being quoted? What is said about the Spirit?

Matthew 22.43

Acts 1.16

Acts 18.25

Hebrews 3.7

Hebrews 10.15

How has God spoken to us in these last days(Hebrews 1;1) and what is the role of the Spirit in that?

Look at these passages and see who the Spirit helps,and what the Spirit does......

John 3.31-34

John 14.16-26

So what should our attitude be to the Old Testament?

Both Jesus and the apostles taught that the words of the OT prophets were spoken by the Holy Spirit himself (see 1 Peter 1;10-12).        The OT is a revelation about Jesus Christ.

....... and our attitude towards the New Testament?

Both the words of Jesus and the teaching of His apostles come by the Spirit.The disciples would be supernaturally reminded of everything that Jesus had taught;there would be no difference in content,accuracy or trustworthiness.Jesus' words were not his own ,but the words of God the Father.


Read 2 Timothy 3.16-17.

2Tim.1

How does this passage agree with what we have learned so far about how God reveals himself?

It show us that not only the spoken words of Jesus and the apostles,but also the Scriptures.....the written words of the Old Testament prophets,and the New Testament apostles that we now have in the bible.....are the  words of God himself,and that through them,God has told us everything that we need to know.

Look at v16. What do you think"God breathed” means?

Try to say a word without using a breath,either in or out....it's not possible!"God breathed "means the same as "by the Spirit".              God's breath and God's Spirit are linked in the bible.(Job 33.4 and 34.14-15.John 20-22).

Look at v17. What can the Scriptures do for us? Do we need more revelation from God?

".....that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work". In the bible,God's Spirit and God's word go together,and 2 Timothy 3;17 shows us that we need nothing else.


2Tim.2


Do you need to change your view of the Bible,the Spirit,or the way God speaks today?

How do you respond to God's word? Ask for God's Spirit to help you accept and obey.

 Next week we shall be looking at the "Spirit and the Old Testament". There will be many passages to   look up so be prepared for a route march around the Old Testament!


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The Holy Spirit and the Old Testament. 9.5.20



holy spirit dove

 

This is a full and varied study ,with lots of texts to look up.It might well be too much for        "one sitting", or you may feel that you only want to do a part of it. However it is comprehensively produced, so that studying all of it will give you good overall knowledge of the Holy Spirit's activity in the Old Testament.

 

It has been said that we must interpret the OT in the light of the New Testament. This becomes more obvious when you look at 2 examples of what was commanded in the OT.... All Christian males should be circumcised. . We should stone adulterers. We need to understand the working of the Spirit in the OT through the fuller revelation of the NT!

 

The Holy Spirit is first mentioned at the very beginning of the OT. In Genesis1.2 he is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. Job 33.4 and 34.14 ;Psalm104.29-30 reveal that there is no life without the Spirit.

Without Him there is no life and everything returns to darkness (Genesis1.2)

 

In this study we will see how God gave His Spirit in the OT, and what was promised in the OT about how God planned to give the Spirit in NT times. In order to answer these questions we will survey many O and N testament references.......so get ready with your bible!

 

Old Testament Spirit Individuals.

Look up the following verses and answer the questions......who had the Spirit? What did they do?

 

 

In the time of Moses......

Exodus 31.1-7

Numbers 11.16-17

Deuteronomy 34.9

 

 

In the time of the judges......

Judges 3.7-11

Judges 15.11-15

 

 

In the time of the kings......

1 Samuel 10.1,6,9-11

1 Samuel 16.13

2 Samuel 23.1-2

1 Chronicles 29.11-12

 

 

In the time of the prophets......

2 Chronicles 24.20

Ezekiel 2.1-8

Zechariah 7.12

Luke 1.1

         worl of the holy spirit

 

What three types of activity were carried out by those who were given

the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?

. constructing /planning the tabernacle/temple

. leading God's people

. prophesying God's word. Note that prophesy in the OT is not just about prediction ,it’s about speaking God's word (usually the law) to the people of the day.

 

 

Read Numbers 11.29

Here we read that God has just given His Spirit to 70 elders of Israel to assist  Moses in leading God's people. Joshua doesn't understand this and wants to safeguard Moses unique leadership position; this leads him to protest about 2 elders who are prophesying outside the tabernacle.

 

 

 

Look at Moses response to Joshua. How does this answer the question of who received God's Spirit in the OT? What does Moses heartfelt wish tell us?

 

 

 

The Spirit was not given to all God's people; He was only given to those chosen to help Moses in the task of leading God's people. Moses' desire was that all  God's people should have God's Spirit, this was something greater and better than  Israel's experience of the Holy  Spirit up to that time.

 

 

Read 1 Samuel 16. (see also Psalm 51.11)

What does this verse tell us about the gift of the Spirit in the OT?

The Spirit was given to Saul when he was anointed by Samuel as the first king of Israel            (1 Samuel10.1and 6), but because of Saul's repeated disobedience to God's word the Spirit finally left him. Just because a person had once received the Spirit, it didn't necessarily mean that they would always have the Spirit.

Old Testament Spirit promises.......

Moses' hope in Numbers 11.29 is turned into a promise, mostly in the OT books of Isaiah and Ezekiel.

 

 

A  Promised Spirit Person.

Look up the following verses and answer the questions......How is the Spirit -filled described? What will the Spirit-filled person do?

 

Isaiah 11.1-5

 

A  Promised Spirit Person.

Look up the following verses and answer the questions......How is the Spirit -filled described? What will the Spirit-filled person do?

Isaiah 11.1-5

Isaiah 42.1-4

Isaiah 61.1-3

 

 

The Promises fulfilled.........

In this section we will look at the New Testament verses which show the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises about the Spirit.

 

Who is the promised "Spirit Person" and what does he do?

Look up the following verses and answer the questions..... 

 

 

Luke 3.16-17

Luke 3. 21-22

Luke 4.16-21

Acts.1 4-5

Acts 2.32-33

Acts 2.38-39.

 

 

church

Who are the promised "Spirit people?

Read 1 Corinthians 12.13; Romans 8.9; Titus 3.4-7.

 

Refer back to the answers to the promised "Spirit people"and how the OT promises about them are fulfilled and ask yourself the question

"Who are these promised Spirit people?

The promised Spirit people are the church. All kind of people......Jews and Greeks, slave and free.....are baptised by the Spirit into one body, so God's people are no longer confined to the nation of Israel, and those who have the Spirit are no longer confined to specially chosen individuals such as prophets, judges or kings.

 

How does the Spirit come to the promised Spirit people?

The Spirit comes to Christians through Jesus Christ. The promised Spirit Person is also the Spirit- Giver.

 

Look up John 14.26 and 16.7.

 

The Spirit is the gift of the Father to His Son,that Jesus then gives to His people. The gift of the Spirit is both from the Father and from Jesus.

Read John 3.3-16

 

How does Jesus use the themes for Ezekiel to show that being a

Christian is much more than a matter of intellectual religious belief (v3-8)?

Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can see or enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again, of water and the Spirit. Here he echoes the words of Ezekiel 36.25-27 ,where God promises to sprinkle clean water on His people ,and cleanse them from all their impurities.(v25) and to put His Spirit in them (v27),thus giving them a new heart and a new spirit (v26) that will move them to keep His laws(v27).

 

 

The problem in Ezekiel's time was that God's people had hearts of stone (v26) that could not be moved to keep His laws. It was the same for Nicodemus, a Pharisee, Jesus told him that his law-keeping wasn't enough:he too needed the work of the Spirit, as promised in Ezekiel.

 

 

snake and cross

 

 

Look at verses 9-16 and ask yourself .......how does Jesus relate this work of the Spirit to His own work?

Jesus tells Nicodemus that...... He has come from heaven and speaks of what he knows and has seen (11-13) He must be "lifted up" (crucified), just as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the desert, to save those being punished by God.....see Numbers 21.8-9.

 Everyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.

To have eternal life in God's kingdom, we must believe in Jesus Christ and be born again by the Spirit.

If you are a Christian ,how will you respond to the truth that the Spirit of God lives in you ?

 

Pray.......

 

 

Thank God for the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised Spirit King and Servant of God, who baptises His people with the Spirit.

 

If you are a Christian, ask God to help you,by His Spirit, to live as someone who has been cleansed from all impurity and born again.

 

Next week’s study; is Acts 2.1-41 ; “Baptised with the Spirit”. 

  


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Baptised with the Spirit 16.5.2020 

 

                                                                    flames of spirit        

The next part of this course looks at some of the most common terms that are used about the Spirit and the Bible

It is important to discover precisely what the bible means when it uses a particular term.......

 

Read Acts 2.1-14

 

There are only 7 verses in the New Testament that mention "baptism with (or by) the Holy Spirit".....

Matthew 3.11

Mark 1.8

Luke 3.16

John 1.33

These 4 announce that Jesus is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit. As we saw in the last study, Jesus is the "Spirit Person" who will give the Spirit to the promised "Spirit People" (the church).

The 3 remaining verses....

Acts 1.5

Acts 11.16

1 Corinthians 12.13

......will be investigated in this study.



16.5 corn


Read Acts 1.5 and 11.15-17

What do these 2 verses tell us about when the baptism with the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus took place?

Acts 1.5. Looks forward to the baptism with the Holy Spirit ....in "a few days".

Acts 11 15-17. Here Peter is explaining to the other apostles how the first non-Jews had come to faith in Christ, and looks back to the baptism with the Holy Spirit that the apostles had received......"God gave them the same gift as he gave us". So the first baptism with the Spirit occurred between these 2 Bible references.

 

Scan the chapters of Acts, between 1.v 5 and 11. v 15-17 and find out exactly when this event took place.

Looking at the section headings you will find that the first baptism with the Spirit is in Acts 2.

 

Before we look at the events of the day of Pentecost in detail we need to understand the difference between an event and its interpretation.....

An account of an event simply describes what happens.


                                                      wind of spirit

The Interpretation, which explains the significance of the event, comes later.

Read Acts 2.1-13, 41: The Event

List everything that happened......

. A sound like a violent wind. (v2)

. Tongues of fire. (v3)

. Jesus' followers speaking in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (v4) and declaring the wonders of God in many languages (v11)

. People who heard them were amazed (v7,12)

. Some people made fun of them (v13)

. People, who accepted Peter's message (about 3,000 of them) were baptised and joined the church.

 

What did people at the time understand o be the meaning of the events that they had witnessed? (v 12-13)

Before Peter stood up and gave an explanation some were perplexed (v 12), others thought that the apostles must be drunk (v13).

 

Read Acts 2.14-21: The Interpretation (Part 1)

How do the events of the day fulfill the promises found in Joel 2.28-32,that Peter quotes in Acts 2.14-21?

The believers prophesied, and people called on the name of the Lord and were saved. Joel continues in apocalyptic language pointing to all kinds of people being able to speak the truth about Jesus (Hebrew 1.1-2).It was a fulfillment of the desire of Moses (Numbers 11.29),that not just prophets and leaders ,but that everyone of God's people would have the Spirit.


speaking in tongues 


Read Acts 2 .22-37: The Interpretation (Part 2)

What does Peter talk about? List the main points of his sermon.

. Jesus was accredited by God through his miracles (v 22)

. Jesus was handed over to the Jews in accordance with God's plan (v 23)

. The Jews were responsible for Jesus' death. (v 23)

. God raised Jesus from death (v 24)

. Jesus' resurrection was predicted in the OT (v25-31)

. The apostles are witnesses of Jesus' resurrection.

. Jesus is exalted at God' right hand (v 33)

. Jesus has poured out the Spirit (v 33)

. Jesus' exaltation was predicted in the OT (v 34-35)

. God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ (v36)

 

What event,according to Peter shows that Jesus is now alive and exalted in Heaven ,even though the audience cannot see him?

Jesus receives the Spirit from the Father and pours Him out on His followers (v 33). This happened when Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God. The visible and audible wonders that accompanied the Spirit's arrival were signs that the enthronement of Jesus had taken place; just as in the time of the Exodus, the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire signified that God was with His people. At Jesus' baptism, the dove showed that God's Spirit had come down upon him. In Acts 4, the shaking of the building showed that God had heard the believers' prayer and that the Spirit had come to help them. At times the Spirit gives demonstrations of His presence and power that can be seen, heard or felt. At other times nothing like that happens.

 

Read Acts 2.37-40 The Interpretation (Part 3)

Why were the people cut to the heart?

They understood that they were responsible for crucifying the one that God had made both Lord and Christ.

Why was Peter's message good news?

If they repented and were baptised in the name of Jesus ,they would receive forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

What is promised in verses 38-39? Who is this for?

Forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit is for everyone who repents( v39)

What do the events of the day of Pentecost show us about the work of the Spirit........

. in regard to Jesus?

The Holy Spirit shows the glory of Christ, demonstrating that He has been exalted to God's right hand and made Lord and Christ.

 in regard to the apostles ?

The Holy Spirit helps them proclaim the truth about Jesus. Notice the difference it made to Peter, an uneducated fisherman; notice his boldness (v36). The baptism of the HS transformed him.

 in regard to the audience?

3,000 people who originally were a mocking crowd,(v12-13) repented and believed in Jesus.

 

Read 1 Corinthians 12.13

After the day of Pentecost who is baptised with the the Spirit? What is the effect of baptism with the Spirit?(see also v3)

All Christians are baptised with the Spirit. The result is to unite many different kinds of people into one body, the church (v13) under the lordship of Christ (v3).

Baptism with the Spirit = becoming a Christian (repenting and believing in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins)

 

As we come to the end of this study, it is important to remember that the feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) was one of the 3 major Jewish festivals celebrated every year; the name reflects that it was held 50 days after Passover. It was primarily a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Note the significance here, that in Acts 2 we celebrate the first fruits of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the accompanying harvest.....the birth of the church.

 

Pray

.Ask God to help you live and speak boldly for Jesus.

.Pray for your church and leaders, that your Christian ministry to the local community may be used by the Spirit to bring many to Christ.

 

Next week we will be looking at lots of texts in Acts on the subject "The Gift of the Spirit".


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                 The Gift of the Spirit   23.5.2020

 

 

gift of spirit 

                                                                

     

This is another full study with plenty of texts to look up and consider; once again you might like to attempt the study in 2 sessions.

 

The gift of the Spirit must not be confused with the gifts of the Spirit, which we will be looking at in another study.

      

In Acts 2.38 Peter talks about "the gift of the Holy Spirit". In the last session we saw that what Peter was speaking of in this verse could also be referred to as "baptism with the Spirit" (compare Acts2.38 with what is explained in 1 Corinthians 12.13). Is it always true that "baptism with the Spirit = "the gift of the Spirit"? This study aims to answer that question.

 

There are a number of terms that are used for the giving of the Spirit........

 

Here are a number of texts from the book of Acts; look up each one and ask yourself the following questions.....

What words describe the giving of the Spirit?

. Who is the Spirit given to?

. What led to this?

. Are there any other events connected to this?

Acts 1.4-5

Acts 1.8

Acts 2.4

Acts 2.33 and v 33-36

Acts 2.37-38 and v 41

Acts 8.12 and v15-17

Acts 8.16

Acts 8.17

Acts 9. 4-6 and  v17-18

Acts 10.44

Acts 10.45

Acts 10.47

Acts 11.15 and v18

Acts 11.16

Acts 11.17

Acts 15.8-9

Acts 19.1-6

What do you notice about the words used for the giving of the Spirit?

There are a number of terms.......gift/baptised,/with/came on/filled with/poured out/and received. They all refer to the giving of the Spirit and are used interchangeably throughout the book of Acts.

                                                   

 

falling rain 

In each incident what happens before the gift of the Spirit? (Apart from the first 3)

Christians are preaching, explaining, or witnessing to the good news about Christ.

 

What is always the response from others?

Among those who hear the good news there are always people who repent, accept the message, and are baptised, ie. become Christians.

 

Which features occur only sometimes?

. Wind and tongues of fire (Acts 2.2-3)

. Speaking in tongues/prophesying (Acts 2.4,10.46,Acts 19.6)

. Laying on of hands (Acts 8.170

. Physical healing (Acts 9.18)

What does this tell us?

Not to automatically equate these things with the gift of the Spirit; sometimes they occur and sometimes not. The Spirit may be given without any of these special signs taking place.

A personal note here; the wife of an Anglican vicar friend of mine told me some years ago, that when the Spirit filled her daughter's church (on the Isle of Skye),He came as a wonderful perfume and filled the whole building. We cannot limit our glorious God and He delights to surprise us!

                                                                                       

                      

 pat on head

 

What we have found in Acts is a description of events. Remember that a description is not the same as an explanation. We need to read other parts of the New Testament (Gospels and Letters),for a fuller explanation of these events.

 

Read Titus 3.4-7

 

What is being explained in these verses?

What happens when someone repents and believes in Jesus. (v5)

What is similar to the passages from Acts?

v 5-6"the Holy Spirit ,whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour"

What else do we learn bout what the Holy Spirit does for us?

Paul tells us that by the Holy Spirit, those of us who are saved....

. receive the washing of rebirth and renewal.

. have been justified by God's grace.

. can become heirs with the hope of eternal life.

 

Read John 3.16

How do these words of Jesus fit with what we have read in Acts?

According to the words of Jesus, to be born of the Spirit is to become a member of the Kingdom of God, which is to become a Christian. Similarly, in the book of Acts, we have seen that when the Spirit is given, people repent and are baptised, which means that they become a Christian.

To be born again of the Spirit = to receive the gift/baptism/outpouring of the Spirit = to become a Christian.

 

Has this session changed your view of what a Christian is?

Can you rejoice that you have received the Holy Spirit in your life?

                                                                                                                           

                            fire of spirit                           

 

Pray

Look again at Titus 3.4-7

. Praise and thank God, especially for the gift of the Spirit.

. Confess and sins.

. Ask for help in living as a true Christian.

 

Next week's study is entitled "Led by the Spirit" and we shall be looking at                                              

                                Romans 8.12-17 and Galatians 5. 16-26

 

 

 

 By the Spirit 30.5.2020

 

As in the last study, we need to find out exactly how the term "led by the Spirit" is used in the Bible. It is very easy to impose our own definition and end up reading the Bible incorrectly.

There are only 4 references to being led by the Spirit in the Bible and all of them are to be found in the New Testament; two of these verses are about Jesus and two are about Christians.


parting of sea

"Led by God" in the Old Testament.                             


"God" rather than "Spirit" is used in these verses, which give a biblical backdrop to the subject of being led by the Spirit in the New Testament.

Look up the following verses and answer these questions....

. Who was leading?

. Who was being led?

. Where were they being led?

Ex 13.17-18

Psalm 106.9

Ezekiel 20.10

Deut 8.2 & 15

Nehemiah 9.12

Judges 2.1

All these OT references to being led by God are about the Exodus, when God rescued his people from Egypt to take them to the Promised Land. We can conclude from this that "led by God" in the OT refers to the whole people of God (Israel),who are led in keeping with His great plan and promises to Abraham; it doesn't refer to individuals who are led according to a personalised plan of God for their lives.

 

Jesus "led by the Spirit"

 

Moses in desert 

 

Read Luke 4.1-13 (see also Matthew 4.1-11;Mark 1;12-13

What similarities are there with the Exodus ?

. Both Israel and Jesus were led through the desert.

. Both passed through baptism before going into the desert.....Israel through the Red sea and Jesus baptised by John in the river Jordan.

. Israel spent 40 years in the desert and Jesus spent 40 days......both had difficult experiences in the desert.

What differences are there? (compare Hebrews 3.7-8 and 4.15)

. Israel failed the test and responded to hardship by grumbling and rebelling against God (Hebrews 3.7-8)

. Jesus passed the test and was found to be without sin despite being tempted in every way, just as we are (Hebrews 4:15)

 

 

Where did the Spirit lead Jesus ? Why?

The Spirit led Jesus into the desert so that, in resisting temptation, Jesus could be proved to be without sin and so qualified both to bear our sin on the cross and give Christians His righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5.21)

 

Christians "led by the Spirit "

 

Read Romans 8.12-17;Galatians 5.16-26

Note: the NIV translation of Galatians 5.16 & 25 is confusing because it uses the word "live" to mean separate things:

v16:"live" =" to be obedient to what the Spirit wants"

v25:"live" = "to be born again" i.e. "saved"

Both of these passages show us two ways to live.

For both passages list everything that you learn about the two ways to live........

. By the Flesh (sinful nature)

. By the Spirit.

 

Look at both passages. Who is being led by the Spirit?

. Romans 8: Christians -those who belong to Christ.

. Galatians 5: Christians-those who belong to Christ.

 

Look at Romans 8.12-17.

Where are these people led to?

. v13: struggle

. v13: life

. v14: sonship

. v17: suffering

. v17: glory

                                             

 

co heirs with christ



What does it then mean to be "led by the Spirit"?

It means to live the Christian life, experiencing both its hardships (the struggle with sin and suffering),and its blessings (the privilege of being children of God and the hope of eternal life and glory).

 

From what we have learned about being led by the Spirit, what should we expect the Christian life to be like?

One of both difficulty and blessing, struggle and joy, battle and peace. The old testament parallel with the life of the Christian in this world, is the 40 years when Israel wandered in the desert. However, we have the joyful hope of eternal glory and the presence of the Spirit leading us there. That the Christian life is a difficult path will come as a surprise to many, this is because of a misunderstanding of the term "led by the Spirit, when it is wrongly used to describe personal guidance and so becomes associated with ideas of fulfillment.

 

 

Look at Galatians 5.25. What command is given to those who are born again? What does that mean?

Those who "live by the Spirit"(are born again) are commanded to "keep in step with the Spirit". That means living in obedience to what the Spirit wants.

 

How does Galatians 5.17 describe the reality of what it means to keep in step with the Spirit?

If we keep in step with the Spirit, we will have to do what is contrary to the sinful nature; this will mean a battle. Similarly Romans 8.13 talks about putting to death the misdeeds of the body......clearly a painful process. In the same way Jesus, suffered when he was tempted in the desert, because he chose to do what was harder, in obedience to God, rather than take the easy way out as suggested by the devil.

                                                 

                                                             

in step with the spirit     


To think about......

Have you realised that the Christian life in this world is not one of comfort and ease, but of struggle and hardship?

In which areas of your life do you need to do battle with your sinful nature? How will you do this?

 

Pray.

. Praise God for Jesus, who has been tempted in every way, yet without sin.

. Do you need to confess to your heavenly Father times when you have given in to the sinful nature?

. How much of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23) can be seen in your life?

  Ask God to grow and use this fruit for the blessing of everyone.

 

 

Next week’s topic is "Filled with the Spirit" and we shall be looking at                  Ephesians 5.15-22.

 

Following the study, if you would like to join in a discussion,or ask any questions on the topic, there will be a Zoom session on Wednesday June 3 at 10.30.

The meeting ID is: 207 656 2312 and Password2P5DAC. We are hoping to have one of these sessions each week while we cannot meet in the church hall and while the studies are    on-line. The meeting ID and the password will remain the same.


 

 Filled by the Spirit 6.6.20

 

cup of spirit 

Read Ephesians 5.15-22

 Scan the whole of Ephesians 5. What is the main theme of this passage?

Paul is talking about living a Godly life; this is particularly in the context of the church....the Christian community. Noticehow  many of the instructions in this passage involve relationships with others. In the original Greek, verses 15-22 are written as one sentence, which is all about holiness.

 What are the two commands in verse 18?

Don't get drunk on wine.

Do be filled with the Spirit.

The reason? : The days are evil.(v 16)

Therefore: do not be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is. (v 17)

And.....be filled with the Spirit. (v 18)

 What are the four actions that show that someone is filled with the Spirit? (v 19-21)

. Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

. Singing and making music in your heart to the Lord.

. Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of Jesus.

. Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

                                                       singing of spirit                                                                           What do these four things have in common?

They are not things that we would naturally do; all these actions focus away from ourselves towards God and others.

Why does Paul call these actions "being filled with the Spirit"?

We cannot do this without the Spirit, who helps us to please God. (Romans 8.8)

 

According to the passage, how is getting drunk on wine different to being filled with the Spirit?

Drunkenness leads to debauchery (v 18), that is uncontrolled and self-seeking indulgence. Getting filled with the Spirit leads to a right relationship with God and others.

How is getting drunk on wine similar to being filled with the Spirit?

They both lead to a dramatic change in behaviour. When we are controlled by something or someone else, we should make sure that we are controlled for godly and selfless purposes, not for destructive, selfish purposes.

A personal note here.....I knew two really nice people; one a young man who worked with me, and the other a young girl who was a friend of my daughter; if either of them had too much alcohol they became extremely violent, to the point of having to be restrained.

                                              drinking spirit!                                           

Read Colossians 3.16-17

 

What does this passage mention instead of being filled with the Spirit?

It instructs us to be filled with the Word of Christ. We have seen the close link between God's word and God's Spirit in study one. The implication here is....that if we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we shall be filled with the Spirit and that if we are filled with the Spirit,the word of Christ will dwell in us richly.

 

Notice that Ephesians 5.18 gives us a command. How can we obey it?

The fact that verses 18-20 are a single sentence in the original Greek indicates that we are actually filled with the Spirit when we do the actions listed here by Paul.....that is what is what being filled by the Spirit is all about. We don't have to pray to be filled with Him and then passively wait for some experience or spectacular event to occur. If you are speaking God's truth to others, singing to the Lord, giving thanks to Him for everything in the name of Jesus and submitting to others out of reverence for Christ......you are following the command to be filled with the Spirit. This is similar to walking.....or keeping in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5.25).

 

Look up the following verses and answer the following questions....

 

 Who is filled with the Spirit?

 For what purpose?

Luke 1.15 (v 16-17)

Luke 1.41(v 42-45)

Luke 1.67(v 68-69)

Acts 2.4(v 4, 11)

Acts 4.8(v 8-12)

Acts 4.31

Acts 9.17 (v 15)

Acts 13.9 (v10-11)

Acts 13.52 (v49-51)

Note that Luke, in his gospel, doesn't use "filled with the Spirit" to refer to being a "godly person" ,but rather to describe a special empowering at a particular time for a particular purpose. That purpose is always connected with speaking God's word, often in the context of opposition or persecution. On several occasions the filling of the Spirit gives Christians the courage to speak.

In contrast to Paul's writing, Luke says that being filled with the Spirit .....

Is not.....godly living in the Christian community (church).

It is........being empowered by the Spirit for the purpose of speaking God's word boldly, especially in situations of persecution and opposition.

So, according to Luke, someone who is filled with the Spirit you would expect to see proclaim the gospel boldly.

                                                                                     

 Man at podium

To think about. How are you involved in the Church's task of proclaiming the good news about Jesus? How do you feel about doing that? Has this study encouraged you?

 

Pray.....

Ask God to empower you by His Spirit to proclaim His message faithfully and boldly, no matter how difficult the situation.

 

Next week's study will be "Gifts of the Spirit" and we shall be looking at 1 Corinthians 12.4-31.

 

If you would like to join a zoom session to discuss this study do join us each week on a Wednesday at 10.30. ID 737 2295 9656   Password 3NZjXF 



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 Gifts of the Spirit 13.6.20

 

 gift of spirit

 

 

 Read 1 Corinthians 12.4-31

 

The gifts of the Spirit are gifts to the church, rather than to individual Christians, for the purpose of building up the church.

 

There are 5 lists of gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament; they are to be found in .........

. 1 Corinthians 12.8-10

. 1 Corinthians 12; 28-30

. Romans 12.6-8

. Ephesians 4.11

. 1 Peter 4.11

This study will focus particularly on 1 Corinthians 12, looking at the context in which these gifts are given.

 

Look up the following verses (all are related to the 5 lists above) and note down the word or phrase that is used to describe "gifts of the Spirit".

. 1 Corinthians 12.4

. 1 Corinthians 12.5

. 1 Corinthians 12.6

. 1 Corinthians 12.7

. 1 Corinthians 12.11

. 1 Corinthians 14.1

. Romans 12.6

. Ephesians 4.7

. 1 Peter 4.10

What can we learn about the gifts of the Spirit from the words used to describe them?

. Spiritual/of the Spirit: gifts to further the Spirit's work, not promote our success, prosperity or influence.

. According to grace: these gifts are given by God undeservedly......we cannot boast in them(either individually or as churches),and we should be thankful to God for them.

. Service/working/work of the Spirit: these gifts are about serving one another, not promoting ourselves and about work, not just personal enjoyment or fulfillment.

                                    Lawnmower                                                                                    

 

Let us look more closely at all the gifts that are mentioned in the 5 lists.

1 Corinthians 12.8-10

The message of wisdom; the message of knowledge; faith; gifts of healing; miraculous powers; prophecy; distinguishing between spirits; speaking in tongues; interpreting tongues.

1 Corinthians12.28-30

Apostles; prophets; teachers; workers of miracles; gifts of healing; ability to help others; guidance/administration; speaking in tongues.

Romans 12.6-8

Prophesying; serving;teaching;encouraging;giving;leadership;showing mercy.

Ephesians 4.11

Apostles; prophets; evangelists; pastors and teachers.

1 Peter 4.11

Speaking; serving.

Note: There is also a reference to gifts of the Spirit in Hebrews 10.4,but as it does not specify the gifts, it has not been included.

                                                 

                                                                    posh lady

 

What can we learn about gifts of the Spirit from comparing the 5 lists?                                                                                                                           

There are many different kinds of gifts ranging from the miraculous (workers of miracles) and prominent (apostles), to the supportive (encouraging) and apparently mundane (administration).

Do you think that these 5 lists contain a complete list of all the gifts of the Spirit?

None of the lists contain all of the gifts of the Spirit that are mentioned in the NT. If the 5 lists together constitute the entire range of gifts available, why is it that they are never mentioned all at once? It is interesting to note that Paul uses the phrase "gift from God" when talking about singleness (1 Corinthians 7.7), but none of the 5 lists mention singleness as a gift of the Spirit. It seems most likely that each time a NT writer wanted to talk about the gifts of the Spirit, he selected examples of some gifts, so we can conclude that there are many more gifts of the Spirit than have been mentioned in the 5 lists.

What can we learn from Peter's concise list?

It seems to be a summary of the functions of all the gifts of the Spirit.

 This passage comes between the 2 lists of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12,and shows us the context in which they were given.

What are the main themes of this passage?

Oneness and independence.

In what way are all Christians the same?

All God's people have been baptised by the one Spirit and are part of one body,all have the Spirit working through them, and all have a part to play in the functioning of the body.

In what way are Christians different?

Each Christian has a different part to play in the functioning of the body.

Why is the body such a wonderful illustration of the church?

A body is a wonderfully designed and complex organism, in which many different parts all work together under the command of the head. From experience we know how much the whole body is affected when even one part of the body malfunctions ( think stubbing your toe, or an ingrown toenail). So the body is an accurate illustration of the sheer variety of people that should be found in a church, their individual importance ,their utter interdependence and their profound unity, unmatched by any human organisation.

Do all gifts have the same or different purposes? What if the purpose of the gifts of the Spirit? (v7)

The body illustration suggests that all the gifts have one purpose, just as all the parts of the body work together for the well-being of the whole body. Verse 7 tells us that each Christian is given a manifestation or gift of the Spirit "for the common good".

So .....what is "the common good"?

Anything that meets the needs and promotes the well-being of the church.

                                             swimmer

                                                                

 

How is the purpose of the gifts described in Ephesians 4.12-13 and 1 Peter 4.10?

. Ephesians 4.12-13.

The purpose of the gifts is "to equip (God's) people for works of service, so that the body of Christ  may be    built up" to unity in faith ,knowledge ,and maturity.

. 1 Peter 4.10

We should use our gifts to "serve others,as stewards of God's grace in its various forms".

What does 1 Corinthians 13.1-3 add?

Without love, our gifts are useless and worthless.

 

What are the greater gifts? (1 Corinthians 12.28-31)

The greater gifts are those that Paul ranks in v28....apostles, prophets and teachers.

What do these gifts have in common?

They are all concerned with speaking God's word.

 

What is the role of people who have these gifts? (see also Acts 6.1-4)

To bring God's word to people. The ministry of God's word and the responsibility of praying for God's people were considered so important by the apostles that no other need , however urgent, was permitted to distract them from this work.

Note: Apostles were men who had met with the risen Jesus and were chosen by Him for this role. Prophets here refers to people who are gifted to open up God's word and apply it today to people's lives and the church.

Why are the greater gifts greater? (Compare 1 Corinthians 14.1-5)

They build up God's people with His word. They are about that which all other gifts are serving......                  for example: an administrator may organise a church meeting so that the church can hear the word of God preached .Someone puts the chairs out because it helps people hear the teaching of God's word. The gifts of administration and serving (by putting out chairs) are not inferior ,because it serves the church by helping them hear the word of God, which builds them up in the faith.                                                                                                                     

                  keen vicar

 

Look at 1 Corinthians 12.31.

If Christians all have different gifts, how is it that we should all desire the greater gifts?

The Spirit gives gifts to the church for the common good. Each Christian should eagerly desire to see the greater gifts at work in their church and in the worldwide church.

So how can we desire the greater gifts?

. By praying for them.

. By supporting those who already exercise these gifts.

. By doing everything we can to encourage and make possible the training of future prophets and teachers,  thus ensuring that the ministry of the word and prayer have the most important place in our church activities

 To think about ....      think emoji


Reflect on what it means to be a part of God's people.

How grateful  are you  to God for the gifts He has given you?

How are you contributing ,and how can you contribute , by using your gifts ,to the common good of the church?

 

To pray about......

Thank God that He has made you part of the body of Christ.

If you don't know your gift,ask God to show you and help you.

Pray for the greater gifts to be given to your church. Pray about how you can help and support those with these greater gifts.

 

Next week will be our final study on the Holy Spirit and the topic will be " The Spirit and You". We shall be studying Romans 8.1-39

 

 

If you would like to take part in a zoom session to discuss "Filled with the Spirit"  Please join us on Wednesday at 10.30. ID 737 2295 9656 PW 3NZjXF


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 The Holy Spirit and You 20.6.20

 


The Holy Spirit is always there for those of us who believe......keeping us afloat in a world of change, where today's values are often in conflict with Christian standards........

 

Girl with spirit skirt

              

As this is the last study, let's have a recap of the story so far.......

 

To be led by the Spirit means to be enabled to live the Christian life, battling sin in the world as we struggle on towards a glorious future.

 

To be filled with the Spirit has different meanings, depending on the New Testament writer. It means living the Christian life as part of the church (Paul), or being empowered to prophesy/preach/witness (Luke).

 

The gifts of the Spirit are gifts to the church rather than to individuals), for the purpose of building up the church; so we're to use our gifts to do this.

 

Read Romans 8.1-39.

 

This incredibly full and well-known chapter contains more references to the Holy Spirit than any other chapter in the bible. It is all about the work and achievements of Jesus Christ and of course the work of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. We will be looking at things which we have already investigated, so it is a great opportunity to review these truths.

What is Paul's big theme in this Passage? (verses 1,33-34,38-39)

Note: What a wonderful and liberating truth this is in verse 1! We walk away from God's law court not condemned.........

 

. No condemnation for original sin (the sinful nature that everyone has   

  inherited from Adam);

. No condemnation for the sins committed in the past, present, or future.

No condemnation, even though we fall, fail, and feel condemned.

No condemnation however much the Devil accuses us.

No condemnation whatever others say.

No condemnation when we are physically sick, or going through emotional pressures.

 Joy of spirit

  

                                                                                                      

 

How has Jesus done what the law of God couldn't do for us? Compare Romans 5.6

 

God's law condemns those that break the law. Jesus was sent as a sin offering, in the likeness of sinful man and suffered in himself the condemnation of God for our sin......so that we would not have to suffer ourselves.

 

How do we receive the benefit of what Jesus has done for us? (v.1-4)

 

We must be "in Christ" (v1) .Verse 4 expresses it in a different way.....living according to the Spirit and not according to the sinful nature.

Verse 3 makes it clear that we cannot be free from condemnation by following God's law.....because our sinful nature means that we can never keep it.

 

Why does Paul again stress that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ? 

 

(7.14-25;8.10,18,22)

When our minds and senses are battered day by day by our frailty and mortality, our flaws and sins and our suffering, we can begin to believe that these are indications that God no longer loves or accepts us. Paul himself understood the despair that Christians can feel when,for instance, all they can think about is the sin they can't stop doing (7.24).Paul writes  Romans 8 because of his utter confidence in the saving power of Christ.

 

How can we know whether we are "in Christ"? (v8-9)

 

Those who have the Spirit of Christ belong to Christ. "In Christ"(v1)/"belonging to Christ "(v9)/"Christ in you" (v10)/the Spirit of God living in you (v9)/having the Spirit of Christ (v9). All these phrases mean the same thing.

 

How do we know we have the Spirit?

 

. v5 Our minds will be set on what the Spirit desires. This is not to say that we will always do what the Spirit wants. Like Paul, we will often feel at war within ourselves. The reason we feel disappointment,frustration ,and even despair by our own sinfulness is precisely because our minds are set on what the Spirit desires.

 

. v13-14 We are led by the Spirit (v14) which means that we "put to death the misdeeds of the body"(v13)

 

. v15-16 We no longer hide in fear from God as our Judge; we understand that he is our perfect heavenly father.v16 We also have an inner conviction, which is a result of the Spirit testifying with our spirit. This may not be constant, but we should experience it at some time during our lives.

 

                              Girl with spirit                                                    

 

 

Look again at verses 14-16. What is the difference between the relationship between a slave and his master and that of a son and his father?

Think about the following areas.......

Why obey?

. What happens when you fall?

. What are your hopes for the future?

. What is most important to you?

 

What is the future for the children of God? (v17)

God's inheritance and Christ's glory.

 

What does this mean?

 

Everything that belongs to the Son belongs to us. God has instore for us what he has in store for Jesus........no rejects and no hand-me-downs. We are headed for glory BUT we will also share in His suffering. (Hebrews 12.2)

 

                                                          Father and son                

 

What is the contrast in verses 18-27 between now and the future? List what Paul says are the characteristics of each for the Christian.

 

What is the thing that we are missing now and that we hope for? (See also v10). How does this affect us at the moment? (v18, 23 and 26)?

 

We are missing the redemption of our bodies, which is our adoption as sons of God (v23).However as the Spirit lives in us He is the guarantee that one day our bodies will be redeemed and resurrected. (Ephesians 1. 12-14)

 

What does the Spirit do for us now and how?

 

He intercedes to God for us, because we are weak and do not know what we ought to pray for (v 26). The Spirit does this through wordless groans (v 26) and in accordance with God's will (v 27).

 

What is God's loving purpose for His children (v 28-30)? So what will the Spirit ask God for on our behalf when He intercedes for us (v 27)

 

God's loving purpose for His children is that we will be conformed to the likeness of His son (v 29). So when the Spirit intercedes for us in accordance with God's will (v 27), He asks God for whatever is required in a specific situation (and we probably don't know what that is) to make us more like Jesus.

 

Pray

 

Look again at the wonderful verses in Romans 8.28-39 and use this passage to help you .......

. Praise and thank God your Father.

. Confess and seek forgiveness from God your Father.

. Ask for the Spirit's help in living freely, securely and hopefully as an astonishingly loved

  child of God your Father.

 

This concludes our studies on the Holy Spirit. Next we there will be an introduction to the next series on Paul's letter to the Ephesians; "Your place in God's plan".

If you would like to discuss this study......or any of the others on the Holy Spirit, there will be a Zoom session on Wednesday June 23rd at 10.30.

 ID 737 2295 9656

Password 3NZjXF.

Everyone is very welcome.........



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Luke 23;48-24-53

 

The death of Jesus opened the way into his kingdom for absolutely anyone by bearing God's judgement in their place.          Death has no fear for lovers of Jesus.

 

Read Luke 32;48-55

 We are all familiar with the story of the crucifixion,but just try to imagine the confusion which was left in the minds of those who had known him..........

How do the women (v49,55-56) and Joseph (v50-54) give us a picture of real discipleship?

The women.

They are with Jesus to the end. The men are not mentioned after 22;62. The women stay with Jesus s he dies (23;49) and is buried (v55-56).They remain faithful when it is hard to do so.

Joseph

Joseph was a prominent member of the council with much to lose. However he chose to identify with Jesus publicly (9;26). As others watched from a distance he displayed devotion and care toward Jesus ,even when it was unclear as to what it would accomplish.

 

Read Luke 24;1-8

 

What facts confront the women? (24;2-3)

The huge entrance stone to the tomb had been rolled away and there was no body in the tomb.

stone rolled away

Who provides an explanation for those facts?(v4-5)

Two "men" ,who were obviously angels  ,as their clothes "gleamed like lightning",and the women bow before them out of fear. They explain that Christ has risen.Note that Peter had no such help(v12)  and was left wondering.

The women should not have been suprised at what they found. Why not ?(v6-7)

The angels encouraged them to remember the words that Jesus had spoken to them in advance;that he would die,and that he would rise(9;22,18;32-33)

Their memories had been overwhelmed,but if they trusted Jesus' promises,they would have expected him to rise from the dead.

What does the empty tomb tell them ,and us, about Jesus' promises?

His word is always true and his promises are utterly trustworthy.

 

What has Jesus promised us?

6v22-23. We will be rejected and insulted on account of our faith ;but we are also blessed.

9;24. We are called to lose our lives for the gospel's sake,thus saving our eternal lives.

11v13. God gives us the Holy Spirit.

11v28. Blessing is found in obeying God's word.

12v4-8. Death has no fear for us as God controls our eternal destiny. If we affirm him in this life,he will affirm us in the next.

12;40,17;22-24. We would miss Jesus return to this world.

18;29-30. Whatever you give up in following Christ,you will receive far more in this life,and infinitely more in the next.

 

Read Luke 24;9-12.

 

It is easy to imagine as to how excited these women would have been by what they had seen and heard....but to the disciples "their  words seemed like nonsense".

Peter went to investigate for himself(v12) but without angelic help was left wondering........

 

Read Luke 24;13-53



 Emmaus road

On the Emmaus Road........

What does Jesus do to change the minds of the the disciples about the claims of the women? (13-45)

v25-27 & 44. He explained that the whole of the old testament pointed towards Jesus as God's chosen king ,destined to suffer ,die and rise again for his people.Jesus is the fulfillment of all the people,patterns  and prophecy of the old testament.              The scriptures showed that the disciples should have been expecting what the womens' claims.


bible

v35. Jesus opened their eyes to recognise him as the risen Christ. Might he have looked a bit different?

v34-36. Jesus appeared to different groups of his followers at different times; this was no one-off vision or hallucination.

v39-41,42-43. Jesus body was physical;he could be touched and could eat.

bread

 

Why are Jesus' first words to the gathered disciples in v36 rather suprising and wonderful?

The Hebrew word for peace is "shalom";in Jewish culture this implies wholeness,harmony and prosperity......just like life in Eden!  It is wonderful that the crucified and risen  Christ would grant this "peace" to such flawed and failing followers as were gathered in that room.....and to us.

 

We do not have the risen Christ standing in front of us,but we do have his written word.Why is this wonderful for us? (v25-27,44-49)

The scriptures tell us all we need to know; Jesus always pointed to them as the place where we would find explanations and outlines of God's truth. We can meet Jesus through His written word.

 

What is the mission of the church?(47-49,52-53)

v47-48 To witness to the truth of the promised Messiah and to obey his command to repent and forgive.

v49. To conduct his mission relying solely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

v52-53. To worship and praise God joyfully together.

 

Compare the events at the beginning and end of Luke's gospel.

 

Read 1;8-13,26-28,&2;8-9; link to 24;4-5.

Angels are present at both the beginning and end of the gospel announcing truth and explaining events.

Read 1;7,13,31,34; link to 24;1,3,5-6.

There is life in a place where life is impossible;a barren womb.a virgin's womb, and a tomb.

Read 1;37;link to 24;6b-8.

God's word is true and can be trusted;his promise to Mary and his promise to die and to rise again.

Read 1;46-47 & 2;8-10;link to 24;52-53

Understanding who Jesus is and living under his rule causes us to rejoice and to praise God.

Read 2;8-11;link to 24;46-47

Christ came,dies and rose again to be our Saviour,offering forgiveness to all who repent.....this is the "good news" of the gospel.

jerusalem

 

What part are you going to play in sharing the good news of the gospel to others......

.with your prayers?

.with your deeds ?

.with your finances?

.with your words?





The Night of Trials Leading to the Opening of the Kingdom.


This study at the end of Holy Week is slightly longer than usual;this is because I have had to amalgamate 2 studies in order for the Easter story; the culmination of Jesus life and ministry in his death and resurrection ,to be read and studied over the Easter weekend. This was because we missed a week owing to  repercussions of the corona virus outbreak. Hopefully you will want to spend more time during this important season,to look at this theme ,which is central to the whole of scripture.

Luke 22-23;27

Jerusalem is now thronged with visitors for the Passover with the accompanying feast of Unleavened Bread. This festival commemorated and celebrated God's deliverance of his people from Egypt through the death of sacrificial lambs (Exodus 12;1-20)

Read Luke 22;1-38
What is shocking about :
Judas' Actions (v4-6,21-22)?
Under the influence of Satan, Judas betrays his friend to death,but Jesus makes it clear that he is responsible for his own actions.
Jesus' words about the Passover Meal?
Jesus redefines this meal a being about his body broken and his blood shed,rather than about the death of the lambs in Egypt.
The disciples' priorities (v24)?
They could only think about which of them was the greatest
Jesus' statements about the disciples and about himself (v31-37)?
The disciples will be "sifted" (shaken violently);the events of the next 24hours would be a terrible test for them......and he knows that Peter will fail as he (Jesus) faces his greatest trial.

bread and wine

What do verses 25-26 teach us about the Christian view of greatness?
The one who rules should be like the one who serves (v26)

Read Luke 22 ;39-46 and then read Isaiah 51;17 and Jeremiah 25;15-16.

The prophets sometimes spoke of God's wrath and judgement against sin,as a cup that the wicked were required to drink.The symbolic cup represents the fury,anger and punishment of a just God .
What is astonishing about the second half of v42?
It is understandable that Jesus asked the Father to remove the cup;but Jesus was determined to do the Father's will....even though it would cost him everything.

angel
Read Luke 22 ;47-71

Who mistreats Jesus in these harrowing scenes,and how?
Judas (v47-48).He betrays His master with an intimate and friendly greeting.
Peter (v 54-60).He denies repeatedly all knowledge of his Lord.He chose His own safety over loyalty.
The Guards,(v63-65). They hurl insults and inflict pain on Jesus.....unaware that he is their maker.
The Ruling Council (v66-71).They put the Son of Man on trial for his life,and find him guilty.they never consider that he may be telling them the truth about his identity.(v69-70).

What does Peter claim about himself (v55-60)?
He denies Jesus 3 times,with a determination to distance himself from Jesus. He lies.

cockerel

What does Jesus claim about himself?
(v69-70.....see Daniel 7;13-14)
That he is the divine Son of Man from Daniel,and that after his crucifixion ,resurrection and ascension,he "will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God".

Who is really on trial in all these overnight events?
The disciples. They were being sifted.
The religious leaders. They were making the final decision whether or not to condemn Jesus for blasphemy.
Jesus. He was on trial for his life.

Who comes through the trial with their  credibility intact?
Only Jesus,who tells nothing but the truth.
Who loses theirs?
Everyone else.....The disciples disappear after v.53,apart from Peter who fails his trial,denying Jesus.The religious leaders rig a show trial,condemning God's son to death.


We now come to Jesus' trial before Pilate,take the path along to the cross ,and then to Jesus final breath. These events will be very familiar; pray that God will give you new insights as these situations unfold.

Luke 23;1-47

Jesus died to bear God's judgement that we deserve for rejecting him,so that the way into his kingdom is open,and we can live with him forever.

Read Luke 23;1-31
What doe Pilate,the Roman governor ,know ? (v4,15,22).
That Jesus had nothing wrong and presents no immediate threat to Rome's rule; Pilate knows that Jesus is innocent.
What does Pilate do?(v24-25)
In surrender to the peoples' will, he releases Barabbas.
Why does he do this?
He appears to fear the crowd and does what is easy rather than right.
How does the crowd respond to Pilate's desire to release Jesus?(v18,21,23)
They scream and demand that Jesus be killed.
Who would they rather have as a part of their society rather than Jesus?(v18-19)
Barabbas,who was a rebel and a murderer.

Read 1 Peter 3;18. Colossians 1;21-22 and Revelation 1;5b.
How are we like Barabbas?
You and I are sinners,bound and helpless,sitting in a spiritual prison awaiting the day when ,like Barabbas,we would get the just punishment that we deserve.However,Jesus went to the cross in our place . He got what we deserve;we get what he deserves.The prison door opens ......and we are free.

crosses

Read Luke 23;32-47

These men were both criminals (v32).Their crimes were serious enough to bring a verdict of execution ,as the second criminal himself acknowledges (v41).

How do these 2 criminals crucified with Jesus respond to him?
v39. The first criminal rails against Jesus ,using the words of the crowd (v35 and v37).He calls on Jesus to save all 3 of them.
v40-42. The second criminal recognizes that:
Jesus is innocent
The justice of God lays behind his suffering......he is" punished justly" according to his deeds (v 41).
Jesus can help him ,not by getting off his cross,but in giving him life beyond his death.(v42)

What is remarkable about Jesus words in v43?
Jesus promises such a man that he will be with him in Paradise.....perfection ,a return to Eden-like life......that same day. Think about it ; a hardened ,condemned criminal who is enabled to live in Paradise forever....all because of Jesus.
In what sense are "with me",the most exiting part of this promise?
The thief will be with Jesus forever in Paradise :he is the greatest reward .( Philippians 1v23,2 Corinthians 5;6)

Read Joel 2;1-2.Amos 5;18-20

What does the darkness in the middle of the day signify?
The judgement of God.......his wrath at human sin.

What 2 things happen in the darkness?
v45. The temple curtain tears;this was the curtain that hung around the presence of God in the Most Holy Place.
v46. Jesus dies.

temple curtain

Read Genesis 3;23-24 and Exodus 26;30-34.

What did the veil in the temple represent?
The separation between humanity and the perfect presence of God.There was no way for humanity to enter and enjoy unrestricted access to  a holy and just God.

What did Jesus' death achieve?(v44-45a,45b and 46)
Jesus bore God's just wrath over sin and the punishment of death on a cross. Jesus was the one perfect sacrifice required for that sin....our sin.This achievement was symbolised by the tearing of the temple curtain,showing that the way into God''s presence in eternity is now open.

The centurion,a Gentile executioner saw "what had happened" :,and was led to praise God and declare Jesus 'innocence(v47).                   What is your response? Is it to praise God?
How will Christians view death and why?
Death need hold no fear for the Christian,because Jesus has died in our place. Jesus has experienced God's judgement on our behalf,        so that we,like Him,can enter God's presence beyond our death.

Is this true for you ? Have you trusted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour so that when you die ,you will go to be with him?



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4.04.2020

Showdown at the Temple

The story so far.......
Jesus' interactions with a great variety of people reveal that the humble who come with empty hands find life;those who approach proudly leave without a life.

Luke 19;45-21;38

Since 9;11 Jesus has been walking towards Jerusalem and the climax of his ministry. The next 2 chapters take place in the temple complex which was the centre of Jewish religious life;it is here that the final showdowns of Jesus earthly ministry take place.

temple

Read Luke 19;45-20;26

What is the aim of the chief priests,teachers of the law,and people's leaders?
To kill Jesus.
What is their problem? v 48
The only thing that prevented them was that the crowds adored Jesus.

What is their first question? v 20;2 Why was it a clever one to ask?
On what authority was Jesus doing these things?
Jesus was wildly popular,but had no title or position.He was outside the religious establishment;he had no credentials to justify his cleansing of the temple,and his ministry of teaching and healing.

What is even cleverer about Jesus' answer? v 3-4
John testified that Jesus was the Messiah(3;15-18),so the leaders would not want to say that John's baptism is from Heaven(20;5).However ,John was so loved by the people that they were terrified of saying that John was not from Heaven(v 6)

How does Jesus show the weakness of their position?
They care about their own position rather than the truth;the political ramifications were far more important to them.

What is their second question? Why was this also a clever one to ask?
Should the Jewish people pay taxes to the Roman emperor?
Again the goal is to try to trap Jesus: if he says "no" the scribes and pharisees can report him to the Romans,but if he says they should pay the tax,he might be seen as a traitor to the people of Israel.
Jesus answers the question and avoids the trap;he affirms the authority of Caesar,as his image is on the coin,but he limits that authority inferring that people are made in God's image and should worship him alone.

caesar

How does Jesus example show us how to relate to present day authority?
We should be law abiding citizens,unless obeying the law of man conflicts with us obeying God.(Acts 5;29)

Read Luke 20;27-21;4

Who asks the third question,and what is it? Why is this yet another clever question to ask ? 20;27-33
The Sadducees,who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.Who will the woman be married to in Heaven,as she has had 7 husbands.
This makes the whole business of resurrection and eternal life look ridiculous....how would you untangle all the things that have happened in our lives after death?

7 husbands

How does Jesus answer?
The Sadducees assume that if there is life after death ,that it is like life now.Jesus says that marriage is for this age alone;so the answer is ....none of them!

How does Jesus show us part of the Christian view of marriage?
Human marriage is but a preview of the far greater reality of our union with Christ in eternity.It is a foretaste of far more wonderful things to come! (Ephesians 5;31-32 Revelation 19;6-9)

How does Jesus parable v 9-16 provide his assessment of what is going on?
The OT used a vineyard to portray the nation of Israel.(Ps 80;8-18). The tenants are the leaders  and the servants are the prophets.The leaders' final terrible act would be to kill the owner's son Jesus;this would lead to the removal from office of the tenants or leaders.

Compare 19;45-46 and 20;45-47 with 21;1-4.
What religious approach does Jesus criticise and which does he praise?
He criticises .....
The use of religion for personal gain (19;45-46),and pursuing  a form of godly religion that prevents people from coming into a forgiving relationship with God
The use of religion to further one's personal glory and honour,and which uses others to further that end.
He praises.....
The poor widow.her offering seemed insignificant to the greater gifts being offered,but she did not give out of her "excess and wealth",she gave (literally in Greek) ALL her life.


humblw woman

Let's think about what we have learned about.....

The life of true discipleship which pleases Jesus.
The life of false religion which Jesus opposes.
Why is it challenging that Jesus greatest opponents were the religious people around him?

Luke 21;5-38 marks the end of Jesus public ministry. Its predictions of destruction alternate between the near horizon ,and thing that will happen in the future.We are positioned in history between the events which Jesus describes;we look back to AD 70,when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans,and forward to the day when Jesus will return.

Read Luke 21;5-38

What does Jesus want his followers to ......
Watch out for ?
Those who claim to be the returning Messiah.
Make up their minds about ?
Not to worry about our response to rejection,persecution,or death. Jesus will be there with us.
Look forward to?
The son of man coming in all His glory and power.
Be careful about?
To live each day in the expectation of Christ's return.
Pray for ?
That we will keep trusting in Christ.

In the light of these answers,how can we help each other to do these things? What might cause you not to do them?

jesus glory





"Ins and Outs" 28.3.2020

Luke 18:9 - 19;44
luke 14

Last week we learned that Jesus announced that between his coming as King and return to establish his kingdom;his people are to live under his rule,in light of their future.

To think about......What is necessary for someone to enter God's eternal Kingdom? What prevents people from entering his kingdom?

Read Luke 18;9-14

What is good about the Pharisee? (10-12)
The Pharisees were widely respected for their piety and devotion.He is living a more obedient life than other people (v11).

How does his prayer reveal his society's attitudes towards tax collector's?
He lists tax collectors alongside "robbers,evildoers,adulterers" (v12). Tax collectors worked for the occupying Romans,and grew rich through overtaxing people;they were widely despised as traitors,thieves,and oppressors of their own people.
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector | Eternal Vigilance

Why is Jesus verdict in v14 shocking?
The traitorous thief is "justified" (right with God). The "other",the Pharisee ,is not.This is quite shocking and revolutionary ;the justified one is the sinner who approaches God on the basis of his mercy,rather than the "good' man who approaches God on his own merit.

How does it answer the question : Who is part of God's Kingdom?
The sinful person who accepts that they are sinful and comes to God asking for his mercy......receives it.The person who is less sinful,but comes to God assuming that he will be approved on the basis of his goodness,does not receive mercy and so is not a member of God's kingdom.

Read Luke 18;15-19;10

In each of these episodes ,Luke records interaction between Jesus and an individual or group.In each ,we are watching the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector coming true in reality.

How do we see the themes of the parable in the approach of each person/group to Jesus; and how do they relate to Jesus as a result of their encounter?
18;15-17 Children were not regarded as innocent in Jesus day,and most people would understand the action of the disciples.Jesus welcomes the children (like the tax collector) because the quality they possess is their unworthiness;they plead no goodness.The children end up  being welcomed by Jesus.


!8;18-25
This ruler reminds us of the Pharisee;he was wealthy and generous,together with being a keeper of the law. However he ends up sad (v23) and walks away from Jesus ,and eternal life,because he wants the kingdom on his own terms.The more possessions we have ,the greater their pull on our hearts and lives.
18;35-43
Here a real man -a desperate beggar cries out to Jesus and will not be silenced.He knows Jesus has the ability to give him mercy,and he uses his new found sight to praise God!
19;1-10
Zacchaeus is a wildly successful ,thieving tax collector,who seemed to be obviously outside the programme of God's salvation,but he responds to Jesus by asking him both into his house and into his life.He does what the other rich man would not do-he gives his wealth away (v 8).

Note that the blind beggar and Zacchaeus show us that membership of God's kingdom is transformative;it has a profound affect upon their lives.

How does 18;27-33 answer the following questions:

Who then can be saved?(v26)
It is impossible unless God does it (v27) People with no righteousness of their own can be saved,not through their good works,but by Jesus' death in their place.On the cross he took the guilt ,sin and  shame of his people,so that when they cry out to God for mercy (like the tax collector) they receive forgiveness and righteousness as a free gift (2 Corinthians 5;21).

Is it worth leaving everything to follow Jesus?
The encounter with the rich young ruler reminds us ,that entry into God's kingdom means that we must renounce our love and loyalty for everything else.He was promised treasure in heaven,but would not part with his treasure on earth in order to gain them.We are not promised an easy ride;Jesus said that there would be sacrifice and difficulty in this life (v28-29;see 6;22;9;23-24).However Jesus says his followers will receive much in this age (18;30).This includes freedom from slavery to sin,and membership of ,and fellowship with God's family.

Read Luke 19;11-27

This parable contains 2 different stories;one about a nobleman and his interaction with his subjects,and the other about a nobleman's interaction with his servants.

How does the parable about the nobleman and his subjects warn those who are not submitting to Jesus as King?
Opposing him will have terrible consequences;see 19;27. Not a popular message ,but central to the gospel.

How does the parable about the nobleman and his servants encourage and warn those who are submitting to him?
A mina =3 months wages.
The first 2 servants invest their minas and gain a return.Number 3 chooses to do nothing with his and defends himself by insulting his master (undeservedly as he is remarkably generous).The first 2 are rewarded lavishly ,number 3 looses his mina.One day we will all have to give an account to God for how we used all that he gave us.We all have gifts that can, and should be invested in the service of Christ's kingdom . For those who do this their joy will be one day to hear God say "Well done ,my good servant!"

Read Luke 19;28-44

Here we have the fulfillment of a prophecy........
Read Zechariah 9;9-10

What is Jesus claiming.....
About who he is? The mighty all victorious king as promised in the Old Testament.
About what he is like? He is "righteous and victorious" but also "lowly"and servant hearted.
About what he will do?He will "proclaim peace " by defeating his enemies and fighting for his people.

How do those present in Luke 19 respond to those claims?
The disciples threw their cloaks on the colt and "put Jesus on it" like a king on a throne..The people threw their cloaks on the ground in front of him.....like rolling out a red carpet.Some of the Pharisees called on Jesus to rebuke his followers;they were clearly offended by the donkey-riding;that Jesus was claiming to be the promised king.

How does Jesus revel the importance of the choice of how we respond?(19 ;41-44)
In v41 Jesus finally sees Jerusalem and he weeps knowing that he will be rejected.He graphically predicts the destruction of the city and highlights the choice that rejecting him will bring terrible judgement.
JESUS WEEPS OVER JERUSALEM [LUKE 19:41-44] | Pictures of christ ...

To think about.......

If we look at the world around us in the way Jesus looked at Jerusalem in V41-44 what would we feel? What would we say?



The Kingdom is coming 22.3.2020

Bible study
Read Luke 16;1-18;8

The Story so far.......Jesus taught that he will return to bring his kingdom in all its glory,and to save,reward,and judge.....and calls his people to stay repentant and keep serving.
In a series of parables ,Jesus pictures himself as the great seeker,come to rescue sinners.This is at the very heart,and the middle of Luke's gospel.We need to accept the invitation and walk home ,even when it's hard. God does not chase us,the choice is ours alone.

Read Luke 16;1-12

Look and think about what the manager does,and ask yourself why? Then see what lesson Jesus draws from this for His followers.
The citizens of the world know how to take care of their needs,and make sure they get what they want. The dishonest steward behave wisely according to the world's standards,and the world's values. In an analogous way ,Jesus wants his followers to behave wisely according to the standards and values of his kingdom. We should live with the kind of generosity which is attractive to others;our acts of love and kindness should impact peoples lives as we serve our Heavenly Father.

What warnings does Jesus give about our attitude to money? (v 13-15)
v.13 If our hearts are committed to money ,they cannot be committed to God.
v14 Note that the Pharisees were lovers of money.
v14 God "knows your hearts";we cannot pay lip service to generosity to the things of God without him knowing about it.Do we put him first ,or money?

Read Luke 16;19-31
Image result for Luke 16;1-12

In what sense is this parable a warning to those who are wealthy?
The rich man never points to any act of kindness which might mitigate his guilt: he knew that Lazarus  was at his gate begging,but did nothing about it. Even in Hades(the realm of the dead)  he tries to be bossy, but he is alone and the chasm between heaven and hell is fixed,and he can do nothing about it.Wealth will not bring us to heaven.

How is this a warning to us who have access to bible teaching?
We are not lacking in access to to God's revelation contained in His word;we do not need any special visitor ,or someone returning from the dead.We should be willing to listen and respond to God's word.

Think about what someone who is "kingdom-shrewd" with their wealth would look like in your context?
This is what Jesus describes in v 9; we use our worldly wealth now in a way that shows that we care more about our eternal future than our current situation.

Read Luke 17;20-37

In what sense was the kingdom of God already "in their midst" ? What do you think?
Jesus was himself the embodiment of the kingdom of God. It had already come!

However.....what does Jesus also tell his disciples? v 22-25
In the future they will "long to see one of the days of the son of Man,but you will not see it" v22. This refers to Jesus return to Earth in splendour as Judge;to establish his kingdom in all its fullness.So although the King has come,the Kingdom is not yet fully come.When it does,it will be dramatic and visible to all (v24). It is all a case of "now......but not yet"!

So in what sense had the kingdom arrived ,and in what sense had the kingdom not arrived?
This question draws together the teaching of v 20-25
The kingdom had arrived in the presence of its King,but has not yet arrived in all its fullness,which will happen when Jesus returns.

What does Jesus say the future kingdom will be like?v 26-37

Bible study
It will come suddenly and we will be caught unaware by the arrival of God's judgement.There will be no opportunity to make preparations once that day has arrived.Do we seek to follow Jesus in our daily routine? How would you be behaving now if you knew that Jesus was returning tomorrow?

Read Luke 17;1-19 and 18;1-8

What principles for living in this now/not yet tension do v1-19 give us?
v1-3a We live in a fallen world so must watch out for temptation to sin and be careful not tot tempt others.
v3b-4 We must confront sin in the lives of other believers,particularly when our brother sins against us.We must use love and humility (Galatians 6;1) and not turn a blind eye;God's standards matter and we must be serious about holiness.We also need to forgive one another in anticipation of that coming kingdom,when all will be forgiven.
v5-6 We need to ask for faith,but we are not to put Jesus words to the test by trying to relocate shrubbery using nothing but our faith(v6)!
v7-10 We owe God our obedience,not to be proud,or to get a better place in Heaven,but to give god the glory.
v11-19 We are characterised by gratitude,just as the 10 lepers should have been. Only one was grateful,and so he alone was healed spiritually (v19 the Greek literally means "saved")
18;1-8 We are to pray .......and not give up!

Now let's apply........
Image result for repentance

What reasons for failing to start loving,or keep loving God,do these chapters offer us?

Love of money
Lack of understanding of,or confidence in the coming of the King and the future coming of his kingdom on Earth.

Are you living as though the King has come,and that one day the kingdom will come ? Is there anything you need to start doing,or stop doing,in order to live in the light of that future event? How will you do this?