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John5(2B)

February 27th, 2018
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We have been listening to the claims Jesus has made about he and his Father. They are one.

Thus the Father knows how we respond to Jesus is how we will respond to him. So there is no judgement separate from the Son. To be offended by Jesus or to dishonour Jesus is to reject the Father. There is no other conclusion.

And to believe in Jesus is to now have life – true life, eternal life. We are safe with him.

But now Jesus goes a bit further to explain how central to our resurrection he is.

John 5: 25(NIV)

Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

In what sense was the hour present when the dead would hear the voice of Jesus and live?

Jesus was showing in his ministry on the earth the sort of thing that would characterize the age to come. He cast out demons from some people on earth because there will be no demons in the age to come. He healed some sick people on earth because there will be no sickness in the age to come. And he raised three people from the dead because there will no death in the age to come.

In the Gospel of John, the hour is present when the dead hear and live because that is what happens to Lazarus in chapter 11. Lazarus has been dead four days. Jesus goes to see his grieving friends, Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters. He says to Martha in John 11:23 “Your brother will rise again.”

And Martha says to him in verse 24, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

In other words, she agrees that the hour is coming when the dead will rise. But she doesn’t understand what Jesus meant when he said in John 5:25 that “an hour is coming, and is now here” when the dead will rise.

So Jesus says to her in John 11:25–26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

In other words, the hour of resurrection is here. It’s here because I am here. And I am the resurrection and the life.

And then Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus, tells them to move the stone, and in John 11:43–44 it says, “He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.”

The hour is here because the mighty voice is here.

John5:25(ESV)

An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

We will rise from our grave just as surely and just as bodily but with a new body suited for the age to come and just as immediately as Lazarus did.

Jesus came into the world in advance of the last day, before the final judgment, to show who he was and what eternity in his presence will be like.

Jesus was showing in that hour what the last hour would be like. And he was revealing more of his glory—the glory of his sovereign voice over death. He commands and the command creates what it commands.

How can the Son  command the dead so that they live?

John5:26 -27(NIV)

26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

The Father begets the Son eternally—there never was a time when there was no Son—and thus the Son is a perfect image of the Father. And in this case, the Son has life in himself just like the Father has life in himself.

He has it as source, not as channel. The life comes from the Son, not just through the Son.

So when we think of Jesus raising all the dead by his mighty voice, John wants us to think of him doing this by the power of divine life that he has in himself absolutely—the same way the Father has life in himself absolutely. Jesus is the way the truth and the life.

He doesn’t channel life. He is life.

27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

We know that Son of Man can be a very exalted, even divine, title as used in the book of Daniel.

But it seems that here the emphasis falls on another qualification besides the exalted divine one. The judge of the universe, the one who raises them all from the dead and passes judgment on them must be a son of man, that is, must be a vulnerable human.

Recall what Paul said to the people on Mars Hill in Acts 17:31(ESV)

God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

So the judge of the world, in God’s reckoning, must be a son of man—human.

We need to grasp the significance of this.

Revelation 5:2-9

2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

In other words, God intends that the one who judges the world will have been a slain lamb, a crucified man.

The Lion of Judah must first be the Lamb of God. The judging Son of God at the last day must first be a suffering son of man.

And if we ask why must our judge be a man—a suffering man? The answer is that God sees it fitting that human beings be judged by one who knows what it’s like to be human. And not just human, but one who suffered to deliver the rest of us from condemnation.

The one who knows us to life or does not know us to death is a suffering Saviour.

The judge of all men will be able to look into every eye and say, “I too was tempted. I too suffered.

“I know you as one of mine or I don’t know you as one of mine.” This will be determined by our response to him.

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How do Christians Pray?

October 31st, 2017
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Prayer is something we do as Christians. In fact as we will see it is one of the great privileges of being a Christian.

How do Christians pray? Is there a Christian pattern of prayer that is uniquely Christian?

Lets look at one of Paul’s prayers, which we have referred to several times in the past.

Ephesians 3:14-15

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Notice the direction of prayer. It is towards our heavenly Father. But prayer involves all of God.

Ephesians1:3,17

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Notice we pray to the glorious Father. But at the same time all of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are involved.

Notice how this is revealed in us.

Ephesians 3:16-17(a),20-21

16 I pray that out of his (the Father) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Our prayer to the Father, praising his name, is for the Father to work deeply in us through the Spirit so Christ is dwelling where our thoughts and desires are. It is a prayer of faith trusting the will towards us of our Father.

Such a prayer knows that despite our struggles we are never alone spiritually. We can be assured that this is the reality or truth of our lives.

This began when we were baptized into the single name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From Paul’s example prayer involves Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church

Glory must be given to God the Father by believers, not only individually, but together in the Church. Why? There the Lord is present and displays his grace.

and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This is to be done by “Christ Jesus”, or “in” him. This may refer either to the church, which is in Christ; or to Christ Jesus as the way all praise and glory are to be given to God.

Remember all blessings are in Christ, and come to us through him, and he is the only way of access to God the Father. Our praises and thanksgivings cannot be acceptable unto God, but through him.

How does this affect how we pray and to whom we pray?

We could say that Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is for them to experience more fully the life of God within them.

What do we mean by that?

In the eternal being of God, there is a Father -Son relationship that is expressed in the Spirit, and that Christian salvation is sharing in that Father- Son relationship through the Spirit.

This means the really central idea of being a Christian is being adopted by God, the Father, to become children of God. Children of God are led by the Spirit.

We go from a position of not being the children of God to being the children of God.

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Worship1(A)

May 7th, 2017
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Philip Yancey wrote:

I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task…

You would think, in view of all the energy used on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful. Not so. Every time my shadow was above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell. They showed me one “emotion” only: fear. Although I opened the lid and dropped in food on a regular schedule, three times a day, they responded to each visit as a sure sign of my plot to torture them. I could not convince them of my true concern.

To my fish I was like God. I was too large for them, my actions too difficult to understand. … In order to get through to them, I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby. And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem. The God who created matter took shape within it, like a writer becoming a character within his own play. God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history. The Word became flesh.

This is the amazing truth at the heart of our worship.

Who is this God we see revealed in Jesus? We will be always discovering wonderful things in the face of Jesus as we proceed in our Christian journey. It should never just stagnate and become ordinary. We don’t want to have a 6th grade knowledge of him.

And another dimension to our worship is that the scriptures inform us that God’s plan for us was before time, before the creation of matter. In this plan God intended for us to be included in his life for eternity through our union with Christ through the Spirit.

Ephesians 1:3-6

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

What we see revealed in Jesus Christ and the adoption of sonship in him was purposed before the creation of the world. And it was freely given. This brings praise of his glorious grace.

In a recent Bible Study on the scripture John4:44

(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.)

We asked why?

One danger was over-familiarity with Jesus.

This man is one of us. We know his mother and his brothers. He has always been so ordinary. How can he be what he claims to be? That same mindset can be in us: We are so familiar with the Bible, and with Jesus, and with Christianity, that it can’t shock us any more. Jesus is not doing anything really mind-blowingly powerful. He’s too familiar.

We need to see worship as an antidote to this familarity. We don’t just sing some nice catchy songs. In worship, we become aware of who he is. And we stand in awe that of his great love for us. This love lies at the very heart of God’s being. It expresses itself in the desire of Father, Son and Spirit to share their life, fellowship and purposes with us!

The creation of time and matter, in fact the whole wonderful universe, is primarily an expression of God’s joyous, out-flowing love for us.

As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:21-23

21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours,
22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours,
23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Worship is not about us. It is not centred on any human being. It is standing in awe of the wisdom of God, revealed in what seems foolishness to the world of Christ crucified.

It is a thanksgiving for the simple fact that God, out of his free will, wants us to share everything with Christ. And in him we belong to God.

We belong to the relationship that has always existed in God.

Eugene Peterson writes:

…every part of the revelation, every aspect, every form is personal — God is relational at the core — and so whatever is said, whatever is revealed, whatever is received is also personal and relational.

Jeremy Begbie reminds us that Godly love is always “other centred”. He describes our relational, loving God and his intentions towards, and for us, in this way:

His very being is relational; he is joyful love, love that always goes out to the other. His relation to the creation is of personal commitment and faithfulness. The Son has taken flesh.

He has offered creation back to the Father in his own humanity. Through the Holy Spirit he invites us to share in the task of bringing creation to praise and adore the Father in and through him.

God’s purpose, before his creation of the universe, was that the original creation would be the first of several steps towards the final goal of new creation. It can be helpful for us to view scripture as a narrative(story).

The Bible records God working towards the fullness of the new creation God would bring about in Christ.

N.T. Wright suggests the following five acts:

Creation, Fall, Israel, Jesus (True Israel) and the breaking in of the New Creation, and the final completion of New Creation.

For Jesus – who is God – to put on our flesh, and to tabernacle with us tells us God’s faithful delight in his creation. This will climax with his eternal dwelling with us on this earth as pictured in Revelation 21-22.

Indeed, any thinking about the creation and its purpose must be centred on Christ:

for in him all things were created… through him and for him… and in him all things hold together and will be reconciled through him and all things in heaven and earth will be brought to unity and blessing in and under Christ.

Our worship must be viewed in the bigger context of the restoration of all things in Jesus. It is not just about us and our salvation. It is about the whole creation transformed into a new creation

Reflect on what the writer is endeavoring to say about the Son in the very first chapter of Hebrews.

Hebrews 1

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
The Son superior to angels

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

‘You are my Son;
today I have become your Father’[a]?

Or again,

‘I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son’[b]?

6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’[c]

7 In speaking of the angels he says,

‘He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.’[d]

8 But about the Son he says,

‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom.
9
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.’[e]

10 He also says,

‘In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
12
You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.’[f]

13 To which of the angels did God ever say,

‘Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet’[g]?

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

How astonishing are these claims about Jesus Christ. He is greater than everything created because he brings everything into existence and sustains its existence. We are not to make him comfortable to our culture.

As we have said before Jesus does not bring us a word about God. He is God amongst us. We can know God in the way Jesus lived and spoke amongst us. This One who is God came to us in our neediness, sin and brokenness!

True worship grows in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ.

As we read the stories of the gospels we read of Jesus doing what only God can do – things like forgiving sin, healing and making people whole, or commanding the seas and winds to do obey him.

Likewise, the gospels provide many echoes of Israel’s story that enable us to glimpse a “new exodus” in Christ: feedings in the desert, the drowning of the demonic host in the sea, Jesus – as the new Israel coming through the waters of baptism and, like Israel receiving the Spirit upon coming out of the water. We join the the early church in understanding the man Jesus to be God!

The gospel stories tell the way Jesus lived when among us. He lived in such a compassionate and welcoming manner that he attracted many who lived as outsiders – the poor, the needy, the sinner, the broken, the outcast, the stranger. God among us in the flesh was welcoming and caring.
How do we respond to the stories about Jesus? Do they move us to thankful praise as they reveal God’s love for humanity.
This One – Jesus – brings light, life, the right to become the children of God through belief rather than human family! It is open to all without the discriminations we create in our societies.

Galatians 4:4-7
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’
7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Trevor Hart commenting on these verses:

the gospel has at its heart a gift… the free giving by God upon humans of an intimate sharing in his own life and activity as ‘children’ and ‘heirs’ who know him as ‘Abba’. The God of scripture grants us an inheritance in what is properly his alone.
He ‘earths’ this by himself becoming a human Son. He discovers what it means to share humanly in the life of God (as Jesus, the Son who knows and loves his Father in the activity and fellowship of the Holy Spirit) so that we might do so too.

What an unexpected, amazing, totally undeserved and surprising expression of God’s love for us! The Word becomes flesh! All are included!

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