Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles

September 9, 2019 at 5:30 pm | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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Jesus’s statements in John Chapter 6 about eating His flesh and drinking His blood (vv. 51-57) are taken by some people to be literal rather than metaphorical. This leads them to the conclusion that what we call the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion,” or what our Catholic friends call the “Eucharist” or “Mass,” should be considered a “sacrament” (something that infuses supernatural grace into the participants) or “sacerdotal” (something that requires a special blessing by a priest in order to be effective), and that the eating of bread and drinking of the fruit of the vine is an ex opere operato (literally, “by the working of the works”) experience, meaning that the ceremony itself carries its own spiritual power within it. The correct view of Jesus’s “I AM the Bread of Life” discourse is that He was using a metaphor rather than instituting a literal rite necessary for true salvation by a mixture of works and grace.

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

John 6:65-66

Out of the 12 capital D Disciples, all 12 were chosen to literally “follow” Jesus, but only 11 would turn out to be truly given by God to the Son.

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

John 6:67-71

John Chapter 7 describes Jesus’s attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles.

Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.

John 7:2

The Feast of Tabernacles was the most popular of the three yearly Jewish “pilgrimage” feasts. The other two were the feast of Passover (which celebrated the liberation from Egypt and the barley harvest) and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (which conincided with the wheat harvest). The Feast of Tabernacles was at the time of the grape and olive harvest, in the fall of the year. People would travel to Jerusalem or Judea and build little tabernacles out of twigs and sticks. (Obviously they were not afraid of the big bad wolf – just kidding.) The feast would last for seven days, on the last of which a big ceremony would take place featuring the lighting of a lampstand and the pouring out of water. You can imagine the significance in John’s Gospel of Jesus’s parallels as the light of the world and the living water, but Jesus’s earthly brothers didn’t care about this. They challenged Him to go there and take advantage of the opportunity to show His power and gain followers – not believing at that time in His Deity, but seeing Him as an opportunist with His own (apart from God the Father’s) agenda.

His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.

John 7:3

Jesus’s response to them was very similar to what He told Mary at the wedding in Cana when she suggested that He solve the wine shortage problem with His power.

Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.

John 7:6

Jesus may have been chiding them to a degree in suggesting that they cared not for God’s timing, and, as ordinary and inconsequential unbelievers, they could do what they wanted when they wanted. Jesus never denied His Deity – although He often kept it on the downlow – but when challenged directly in a non-dangerous setting He would draw a clear delineation between acting at the request of men as opposed to acting only in strict accord with God the Father’s will… even when what He intended to do did happen to coincide with what was being requested.

When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

John 7:9-10

What follows in most of the rest of John Chapter 7 is a pattern of Jesus teaching in the Temple during the feast, the opposition or anger or confusion that His teaching caused, and the narrative of the Jewish religious leaders trying to figure how to put a stop to it.

Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

John 7:19

They acted as though they held Moses and the Law “he” gave (God actually gave it through Moses) in high regard, yet they neither understood it, nor applied it consistently, nor believed its true purpose: pointing to the Savior Who now stood in their midst. The Law said “thou shalt not kill” and they were actively trying to kill the personal embodiment of the Law itself. They were mad that Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and told Him to carry his mat, yet when a baby’s scheduled circumcision (which was a law prior to Moses) fell on the Sabbath they did something more labor intensive than carrying a mat. Plus, the whole point of circumcision was to make the person a part of the Covenant family – to make him (ironically) wholly pure.

The people were starting to wonder, if Jesus was such a blasphemer, why didn’t the authorities go ahead and arrest him and put Him to death?

Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?

John 7:25-26

Not only were they not arresting Him, but they didn’t even appear to be trying to shout Him down or shut Him up: “Is it possible they are not so sure He’s a blasphemer, and that He really might be Who He says He is?”

Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.

John 7:27

But the counterargument was: “Nah, the Messiah is supposed to show up out of nowhere, or at least remain hidden until He announces His arrival in Jerusalem, but we know Jesus! He’s just the ordinary son of a carpenter and His pregnant-before-marriage wife… Pfft, from Nazareth, of all places, too!”

Ulimately the Pharisees did attempt to arrest Him.

The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.

John 7:32

In response, Jesus messed with their heads, by telling them that He would go on the lam to a place where they could never find Him.

Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.

John 7:33-34

This is classic Gospel-of-John irony. “Where would He be going that we can’t follow?” the Pharisees asked. Later He would tell His Disciples something similar, but then He would be talking about going to Heaven to prepare for their own reception. Here, though it escapes their comprehension, the Jewish leaders are being told that they can’t come where He is going because they are unbelievers and have no part with the God Who they were so proud of knowing in comparison to the gentiles/heathen.

Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?

John 7:35

Jesus will receive only those who “believe on Him” and Who He really is.

Ordinance, Not Sacrament

September 5, 2019 at 11:17 am | Posted in John | 4 Comments
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The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:52-54

This language about eating flesh and drinking blood is not sacramental language. It is metaphorical language, alhtough Roman Catholic theologians say that, as early as Ignatius of Antioch, Christians believed that Jesus was in fact instituting the so-called sacrament of the Eucharist. They believe that the observation of the Lord’s Supper is sacramental or sacerdotal – that it infuses grace ex opere operato – but it’s not. Jesus is not – nor does He ever become – intermingled with, or substituted for, literal bread or wine or grape juice, any more than He – as the Living Water – becomes literal water, or – as the Door – becomes a literal Door, or – as the True Vine – becomes a literal grapevine. The theme of the Gospel of John is “that ye might believe” – not believe that you must participate in the so-called Eucharist, but that you might BELIEVE that Jesus is the Son of God and that in Him alone – by His grace alone – through faith alone – you might have eternal life.

The Lord’s Supper and Baptism are the only ordinances – not sacraments – of the Church, and they are important ordinances, but, being “works,” they do not infuse or impart supernatural grace, and they can not save souls. Christians reading John 6 during the time when it was first written, even if they were already practicing the observation without a full understanding of why they were doing it, would see what the Lord’s Supper represents, not that it is commanded as a so-called means of grace.

Hard Sayings

August 19, 2019 at 11:35 am | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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Jesus miraculously produced enough bread and fish to feed 5000 men, plus women and children (a crowd that could have easily ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 people). His disciples had gathered up the leftovers, and Jesus Himself had evaded the throng of overzealous patriots who wanted to crown Him king whether He was ready for it or not (John 6:15). How did Jesus “thin the herd,” so to speak, separating mere spectators and political fanatics from His true followers, and ultimately from His inner circle of twelve (John 6:67)? He did it by saying some “hard sayings.” Do you love Jesus enough to hear some of the tougher truths about Who He is and what it means to really believe on Him and follow Him?

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:35

Jesus identified Himself with a form of the Old Testament name for God: The I AM (Ego Eimi), sometimes written as YHWH (Yahweh), a name which references His aseity – His self-existence, His BEING (rather than becoming), His pre-existent eternality, His immutability, His infinitude, His glory, His holiness, His perfection. This was not a claim by Jesus to be a mere representative of God, a missionary of God, a prophet of God, a child of God in a figurative sense, an angel or an archangel, but a claim to be truly God.

This would not only be a “hard saying” (John 6:60), but a “too-hard” saying for most – not necessarily hard to understand, but hard to accept.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

John 6:41-42

They “knew” the origin of Jesus of Nazareth. They thought they knew His backstory – His “nativity,” but not His real Nativity. This was not a prince or a nobleman or the son of a wealthy influential merchant or businessman or politician – not even the son of a priest or a scribe. This was the poor son of a simple carpenter from the most disreputable hick town in Galilee… here with a message from Heaven!? Maybe here with some power from Heaven? Maybe here with some special Heavenly insight into spiritual truth? Maybe. But “came down from Heaven?” No – unacceptable.

Jesus did not try to soft-peddle this truth; He emphasized it: John 6:33, 38, 41-42, 50-51, 58. That statement, “I AM”, is a hard saying. The statement, “I came down from Heaven,” is a hard saying. Here is another:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 6:37

All those whom the Father gives to the Son SHALL come to Him. Will all men come to the Son? No. Will there be some given to the Son who do not come to the Son? No. “I will in no wise cast out” is an example of a literary device called “litotes.” Here are a couple of other examples of litotes in the Bible:

But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

Acts 21:39

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

I Corinthians 15:10

You may have heard these modern examples of litotes: “She’s not hard to look at” (said about a beautiful woman); “Einstein was no dummy” (because he was considered a genius). A litotes is a negative statement that is made to emphasize the opposite. Jesus will not cast out ANY of those whom the Father gives to Him, but can some of them (not being “cast out”) still somehow be lost? Not according to Jesus:

And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:39-40 (emphasis added)

“Hard sayings” can cause dejection, abandonment, or anger. Here, as was the case with the original “bread” (manna), they caused murmuring.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

John 6:41

By this point the conversation/discourse had probably moved into the synagogue.

Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

John 6:43

Jesus responded to murmuring at hard truth with reinforced truth:

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44 (emphasis added)

NO MAN CAN.” Unless the Father DRAWS him. This drawing means to compel. It is not mere wooing, enticement, or even invitation or argumentation.

From Feeding to Fearing to Following to Failing

July 11, 2019 at 10:19 am | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

John 6:13

The miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude with fish and bread was just that: a miracle. It was not the result of some ethical guilt-trip whereby Jesus shamed the crowd with the little boy’s example into graciously sharing their own lunches so that everybody got a little bit to eat, nor was it some type of David Copperfield-style illusion where the Disciples formed a hidden bucket brigade from a nearby cave to Jesus, hands behind His back, while He made the illusion of multiplying loaves and fish. No, this was a true SUPERNATURAL miracle, and was understood as such by all who were present.

Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

John 6:14

The reference to “that prophet” was from the Torah – the one who would replace Moses. They believed the teaching of some rabbis who said that this prophet would be known by his ability to duplicate the miracle of the manna (bread) from Heaven.

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

John 6:15

The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Tiberias, was in a concave place, surrounded by higher ground and “mountains.” The Disciples, leaving Jesus, entered a ship and started across the sea, which, because of the geography, was notorious for sudden and violent storms. Few things were more terrifying to a First Century Jewish person than a raging sea, which to them represented chaos and turmoil and loss of control and judgment. And, sure enough, their fears began to be realized:

And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

John 6:18-19

This was a distance a little less than three and a half miles, and they weren’t making good progress because they were rowing against storm. Often overlooked in Bible studies about Jesus and His Disciples is the terror that came upon even the people who knew Jesus best when He let His Deity show. It is tough to convey the real sense of fear you or I would feel upon seeing a human being actually step out onto a lake and walk on top of the water. Jesus encouraged them not to be scared, and they probably changed from fear to welcoming him aboard.

It’s hard to miss the symbolism here:

Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

John 6:21

When we recognize our sin against God, we might be afraid – certainly afraid to face Him – but then He makes it so that we “willingly” receive Him, and “immediately” we are home (in the sense of our status of becoming part of His family, though not actually in Heaven yet). This is the “already/not yet” nature of salvation – the Ebenezer/Jehovah Jireh – “The Lord has brought us this far, so He will always provide.”

The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

John 6:22-24

The people were exerting a great deal of effort to seek Jesus, but they were seeking Him at the lower level of “rabbi,” rather than the true level of “Lord.”

And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

John 6:25-26

Those who are truly seeking a destination are not satisfied with a sign that points to the destination.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

John 6:27-28

Just as Jesus had told the Samaritan woman at the well about living water/eternal life, now He mentioned meat which would provide everlasting life. God had “sealed” Jesus – had placed upon Him an indelible and ineradicable anointing and ordination as the only One who could dispense eternal life. The people listening to Jesus wanted to know, “What shall we DO?” There has always been resistance to the idea that salvation is all of God and is found in what Christ has DONE, not what human beings can or should “do.”

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

John 6:29-32

They had faith in Moses, but they missed the “sign”ificance of Moses, and settled for life-sustaining bread, rather than eternal-life-giving Bread.

Rising above the Rules

April 19, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Posted in John | 4 Comments
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Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

John 5:2-3

What made these handicapped folks think that this pool could help them? They thought an angel would come along every now and then and cause a noticeable disturbance in the water, and that the first one – but ONLY the first one – to enter the water would be healed or “made whole.”

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

John 5:5

Was this man desperate? Or perhaps only resigned? He had been “infirm” – lacking firmness – for 38 years. Some commentators see in this detail a symbolic reference to the inability of the Israelites to heal themselves of the unbelief that kept them wandering in the wilderness for 38-40 years.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

John 5:6

Jesus saw him “lie.” He was lying down, but he was also perhaps being less than completely honest when he said:

The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

John 5:7

That wasn’t really an answer to what Jesus asked him: “Wilt thou be made whole?” “Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

John 5:8

Jesus did not engage in a lengthy dialogue. He just gave a simple direct command.

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

John 5:9

He was healed and STRENGTHENED – “made whole” – instantaneously or immediately.

The Pharisees had developed 39 rules concerning the Sabbath. These were not part of Scripture, but were given authority by them AS THOUGH they were part of Scripture. This is one of the meanings of legalism – adding man-made rules or traditions to God’s Word and trying to endow them with binding authority. One of the 39 rules forbade carrying anything.

The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

John 5:10

This gives us telling insight about the Jewish religious leaders and their psychological mindset, their pride, and the object of their praise. They worshiped the Sabbath itself to the exclusion of the Lord of the Sabbath.

The Greatest Sacrifice

March 17, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Biblical Greats, Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Priests went into the Old Covenant sanctuary to make sacrifices. These sacrifices had to be repeated time and time again, but the New Covenant Sacrifice is superior. It is an everlasting Sacrifice. It is sufficient and efficient to open the way into the Holy of Holies in Heaven – to allow believers to have confident and eternal access to God the Father. In the Old Covenant animals were sacrificed, but in the New Covenant the Sacrifice was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Christ was a better Sacrifice because He actually took away sins.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:3-4

Old Covenant sacrifices had to be repeated over and over because they did not cause God to stop “remembering” the sins of the people. These sacrifices served to cover sin, but not to cleanse the sinner. Christ was a better Sacrifice because God had prepared the Sacrifice Himself.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Hebrews 10:5

Christ did what it was not possible for anyone else to do: He pleased God with His mind, His heart, His desire to obey, and even with a body of flesh. He did ALWAYS the will of the Father.

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Matthew 17:5

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:38-40

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

John 17:4-5

Old Covenant sacrifices were accepted, but they had no will of their own to be sacrificed, and they had not been especially prepared by the Father in the way Christ had.

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Hebrews 10:6

Why would God have no pleasure in sacrifices which were done in obedience to His Word? These sacrifices were often made with an outward show of obedience, but without an obedient heart. Remember, God sees the heart. There’s no drawing near by way of a sacrifice in form only. There must be a humble heart, a desire to please, and a true obedient ATTITUDE: a desire that the Lord God would accept this sacrifice as a sign of true repentance and a resolve not to disobey again. This did bring about blessings, but it did not pay the sin debt once and for all. The sacrifice of Christ did.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Hebrews 10:12

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Hebrews 10:14

Getting Full (Part 2)

October 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Posted in John, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Have you ever attended a church service or a conference that turned out to be sort of a religious pep rally where the speaker did his best to get you all fired up to do something, but then stopped short of actually telling you how to do it? Last time I wrote about the importance of being “full” of the Holy Spirit. Now we will look at how to do that.

The first clue lies right there in the verse that commands us to do it:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

How do you get drunk with wine? You drink it – lots of it!

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:13

That Spirit referenced in I Corinthians 12:13 is the Holy Spirit, and you have access to Him if you are truly a Christian – just like every other Christian has access to Him. So how do you “drink of the Spirit?” You drink the Spirit by “minding the things of the Spirit.” In other words, since the Spirit is not really a liquid, and we are using a metaphor here, you have to set your mind and your affection on spiritual things. You have to focus on the things of God and get involved in doing them. If you wanted to drink a large amount of water you would go to where the water is. You would pick it up, and you would pour it down your throat.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5

1. Initiate spiritual thoughts and actions.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

Think about that with which God would want you to be involved.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Get full of the Holy Spirit by thinking about – and doing – the types of things the Holy Spirit loves to do: things that help others; things that build up others; things that edify; things that bring praise and glory to God; things that magnify Christ Jesus – which brings us to the second way to get full of the Holy Spirit.

2. Imitate the Lord Jesus.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John 7:37-39

If you came to Jesus, repenting of your sins, believing the truth about Him, and calling upon Him to save you from the wrath of God that you and I deserve, then you “drank” of His Spirit, and, after that, rivers of this “living water” exist in you and flow out of you. Therefore, you “drink the Spirit” by living, loving, and leading like Jesus. You need to live a pure and holy life, because that’s how Jesus lived. You need to love the people around you – and especially the people who seem unlovable – because that’s what Jesus did. You need to lead people into a right relationship with God, because that’s what Jesus did.

3. Indoctrinate yourself with Bible principles.

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

John 6:53

You need to read and study and meditate on the teachings of Jesus. You need to go to church and Sunday School and learn about, put into practice, and live out the teachings of Jesus. You need to be a student of the records of what He said during His time on earth in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you are going to have to find out what the Bible teaches, both in the “red letter” words, and in the rest of the Bible, too, including the teachings of the Apostles.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I Corinthians 2:12-13

If we will indoctrinate ourselves with the words of Jesus and with Apostolic teaching, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

4. Interact with the Holy Spirit Himself.

He is a person. He is not a source, a power, a mystical cloud, a thing, or an “it.” When you are dealing with a person, you must cultivate a real relationship.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

John 3:8

You can’t control the wind, but you can certainly interact with it. It is important – and perhaps this is the most important thing to know about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit – to pray for Him to fill you.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:3

Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.

You have to want to be Spirit-filled for the right reasons. He can not be manipulated.

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Acts 8:9-23

“Simony” is the purchasing of church offices, but Simon’s real fault was in thinking he could manipulate and control the Holy Spirit for his own profit. He was covetous (“in the gall of bitterness”) and he was being used by Satan (“in the bond of iniquity”). The wrong way to ask God for the Holy Spirit is with an ulterior motive of manipulation. The right way is with a heart that seeks to please God. Remember, when you are filled with the Spirit, here is what you will find yourself doing: praising the Lord; thanking the Lord, serving others humbly because of God.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:18-21

However, you can not have the Spirit at all – much less be filled – unless you have been born again.

Do You Have Plans for Lunch?

November 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, John | 11 Comments
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If you were to take a drive out into the country, past forests and fields, pastures and ponds, and were to happen to see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, you would not automatically be able to discern all the exact details about what you were seeing, but one thing you would know for certain: somebody put that turtle there.

http://truthpressure.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/turtle_post_sitter.jpg

Turtles don’t get on the tops of fence posts by themselves.

I’m thankful to be involved in Christian ministry. I’m thankful to know a few things about the Christian life. I’m thankful to be a Christian. One of the many reasons I’m thankful is that I didn’t get here by myself. Right before I became a Christian, somebody told me how to be saved. And, before that, there was a time when somebody told that person how to be saved. My little fence post is a very small, comparatively insignificant fence post, and I’m certainly not a very important turtle. But I know one thing for sure: I didn’t get up on this fence post all by myself.

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

John 1:43-44

Philip was from Bethsaida – he knew the area.

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

John 6:5-6 (emphasis added)

Jesus wanted to test Philip’s faith. It just so happened that Andrew knew a lad.

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

John 6:8-9

The Disciple Andrew was a very interesting fellow. He didn’t write a book of the Bible, and, as far as we know, he never preached a well-known sermon. But what he excelled at was bringing people to Jesus. He brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus, and now he brings this lad to Jesus. If we are willing, we can all be “Andrews.” We can all bring people to Jesus. But we will have to do what Jesus did, too. We will have to “lift up our eyes” and see the need. Jesus looked on the multitudes and saw the need. The unsaved people you know don’t really need entertainment. They don’t really need more “fun.” They don’t need something to occupy their time. The common pious Christian response at this point is, “Yeah, I know, I know, what they need is to be loved.” And that is true. But, like with most things in our life, the Bible tells us specifically how we are supposed to love them. We love them the way Jesus loved the crowd that was hungry: by giving them food, yes, but even more so by feeding them the Gospel. The people you know need to hear the Truth about Jesus way more than they need to know about the latest metrosexual mormon vampire movie.

Jesus is and was God. He could have fed this crowd of hungry people simply by creating fish and bread out of thin air. But His plan was to use people. And that’s still His plan today. I won’t pretend to understand it. It seems like too important a job to trust to people like you and me. But I’m not God – He knows what’s best – and He’s chosen us to spread the Word – the plan of salvation – to the hungry masses.

What about the little boy that Andrew brought to Jesus? I don’t want to read too much into the account, but, being a typical little boy, it seems probable that his mother, or someone at home who loved him, packed his lunch for him that day. (Little boys rushing out of the house early in the morning, excited about a big day, aren’t exactly known for stopping to think about planning ahead!) If you are a Christian, God has used people in your past – your parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers, coaches, pastors, or church elders – to invest into your life. If you are “prepared” to be used by God – the way this boy was – then you owe a debt of gratitude to those people. Remember, like I said at the beginning of the post, we didn’t get up on our fence posts by ourselves. This lad had two things going for him:
1. He was prepared.
2. He was available.

If people have invested into your life, are you now intentionally making yourself available in places where you can bless others with that investment? Somebody has been used by God to “pack your lunch” for you. Now Jesus wants to use your lunch to feed others. Is your lunch wrapped up somewhere spoiling? Are you going to eat it all yourself? Or are you going to give it to Jesus?

Jesus took the lad’s lunch and He blessed it and broke it. If you give your “lunch” – your self – to Jesus, He may very well decide to break you. We don’t like to think of it that way, but Jesus knows me, and He knows my lunch can’t be used unless it’s broken. Can you convince yourself to rejoice over being broken?

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:9-10 (emphasis added)

Don’t hold back your lunch from God. And don’t try to give Him the “leftovers” from your lunch. God is the only One you can truly trust with your “investment.” He will not waste it.

Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

C.T. Studd

The Bookends of Faith (Part 3)

December 29, 2010 at 10:11 am | Posted in John, The Bookends of Faith | 8 Comments
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The Bookends of Faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ: The first and last of the seven “I AM” statements in the Book of John

Last time, we looked at what our response should be to Jesus’s proclamation that, “I AM the Bread of Life.” That was His first “I AM” statement in the Book of John. Now we move on to His last.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

John 15:1

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

John 15:4

The True Vine provides life to the branches, and, because the branches are “in” the vine, they are secure. Only God can give and preserve life. The two words that John 6:35 and John 15:1 have in common are “I AM.”

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exodus 3:13-14

God told Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.” God is unexplainable. God is unending (eternal and infinite – “unending” and “unbeginning”). He was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 1:4; 1:8; 4:8) I once heard a catchy song on the radio with the lyric:
He’s not the God who one time did,
He’s the God Who does.
That’s why they call Him the Great I AM,
And not the great I was.

When I say that God is “uncommon,” I mean that He is truly unique.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

John 15:1

This is an illustration – the vine and the branches – which is not as familiar to us as it was to those who first heard it. Vineyards were almost as common to Jesus’s audience as gas stations are to us in the 21st Century. (Hey, maybe there’s a lesson there: He is the Gas Pump – we are the car – we won’t work unless He fills us up!)

If you have actually been in a vineyard or around grapevines, you may have a mental picture of the vines and branches being thin and easily broken, but those in Israel back in Jesus’s day were thick and strong. The image of the vineyard or the grapevine is common in Scripture. God had provided for and chastened Judah and Jerusalem throughout the Old Testament. If there ever should have been a vineyard to the glory of God, it should have been that nation. However:

What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

Isaiah 5:4

The Jewish people were God’s vineyard, but there is also a worldly vineyard in Scripture.

And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

Revelation 14:18-20

The grapes in this worldly vineyard are ripening for God’s judgment. Those are two of the vines found in Scripture. Then there is Jesus – the True Vine. Whenever there are “types” of Christ in the Bible, Christ fulfills those types, and is a “better than” those types. He is the Vine from which all other vines are copies or imitations.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:1-2

He is the Vine. We are the branches. God is the husbandman (vine-dresser). Branches can be strong when they are fed from the vine, but if something closes off the flow of sap from the vine, the branches become brittle and weak – and fruitless. Can these fruitless branches be used for some other purpose, such as for building? They can’t be used for building when they are strong because they are connected to the vine. They can’t be used for building when broken off because then they are weak. Abiding – connected – branches are good for one thing: bearing fruit. Broken – disconnected – branches are also good for one thing: burning. (Actually two things if you count hiding places for serpents.)

The branches of the “copy” – of an actual grapevine – have little choice but to abide. They they have no consciousness or responsibility. But believers on the True Vine must abide in order to bear fruit. There is responsibility involved. “Abide” means to take up residence – to “remain.” Abiding is not intending to make a temporary home. People don’t normally go to a hotel or make an encampment with the intention of “abiding.”

Next time, we will try to learn how to be good abiders.

The Bookends of Faith (Part 2)

December 8, 2010 at 11:07 am | Posted in John, The Bookends of Faith | 8 Comments
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The Bookends of Faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ: The first and last of the seven “I AM” statements in the Book of John

Last time, we looked at the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus in the Book of John. We saw the comparisons between the manna which came down from Heaven in the Old Testament and Jesus, the Bread of Life which came down from Heaven, in the New Testament.

Here is one of the most amazing truths in all of Scripture:

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

John 6:49-50

Moses and all the manna-eaters eventually died and are still dead. Those who partake of the Bread of Life will live forever, reign forever, and enjoy unspeakable beauty and joy of fellowship with Christ for all eternity. What is your response to the proclamation that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life? Would you deny what it proves? That’s what the Jewish religious leaders did. Do you believe that the Bread of Life is good and nourishing and sustaining, but not life-giving? Do you deny that Jesus was and is God? Do you deny that He has not and will not and can not lie? I hope you don’t deny what the “I AM” proved.

However, we still need to ask ourselves, are we grateful only for what it provided?

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

John 6:34

Are you grateful for what Jesus can do for you – more so than you are grateful for Who He is? Is this your prayer: “Jesus, make my life easier, make me well-favored with men, bless me coming in, going out, use me to make me something that will be impressive to other people?” Have you watched too much religious television, or attended too many “revival” services? Have you read too many best-selling “Christian” books? If Christ Jesus has saved your soul, must He now balance your checkbook? Heal every ache and pain in your body? Restore every broken relationship between you and your neighbors and your friends and your family? We are often guilty of thinking of Jesus as our genie in a bottle – we whip Him out whenever we have a problem. Too many professing Christians consider Christ only to be their “ticket to Heaven.” I don’t like that analogy because you don’t do much with a ticket. You keep it tucked away somewhere unseen until it’s time to enter the show, then it’s turned in and discarded.

In John Chapter 6 people were asking Jesus, “What can You do for me?” What they should have been asking – and what we should be asking – is, “What would You have me to do for You?”

Next time, we will examine Jesus’s proclamation that, “I AM the True Vine.”

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