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John 8(5)

October 27th, 2018
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No one likes to be told the truth about themselves. And that goes for individuals and nations.

Every nation has its dark stains that we deny by always saying the other country is worse than us.

And it can become quite emotional when someone draws attention to these dark historical events.

It affects identity and even feelings of superiority.

Well Jesus wasn’t very popular with those who controlled the identity stories of the Jewish people. They were proud to be a free people. God’s people. A special covenant people. They were the true descendants of father Abraham. They were above other people because they worshipped the true God in the true way. This would have been highlighted in the magnificent Feast of Tabernacles.

To believe in Jesus meant challenging this accepted comfortable narrative. He was an inconvenient truth.

So Jesus said to people who believed in him

John8:31-32

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

What I want to focus on today is how the people tried to justify themselves for not really believing in what he was saying.

We could be tempted to say it is all about the Jews. How blind and stubborn they were. But there is a warning to all who hear as well.

Lets get the context.

John 8:33-34

33 They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’

Notice the ethnic pride.

We need to remember that Jesus is about the human condition that is common to all: Jew and Gentile.

34 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

Everyone! Not just Jews. We all sin, and we are all slaves of sin, until the power of sin and Satan is broken in our lives. And only the Son of God, Jesus Christ, can cancel and conquer our sin.

View Bible Project on Sin by clicking here.

Thus what we are in the flesh does not protect us from who we are a spiritually. A lying hateful Jew is the same spiritually as a lying hateful Gentile. The same with any human fleshly distinctions: race, gender, ethnicity, social position.

And this also applies to a professing Christian and a non-professing Christian.

The real reason that Jewishness is important here is not to put down the Jewish religion. It represents the self-justification that all religions, indeed all humans, use when confronted with Jesus as the only one who can set us free from slavery to self and sin and Satan. He upsets everyone.

But the immediate context of John is the temple and its leadership. So lets look at their self -justifications.

Verse 33: “They answered him, ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, “You will become free”’?”

1. So they defend themselves with an ethnic argument — religiously laden for sure, but at this point it’s just ethnic. We’re safe. We’re Jews.

Verses 34–35: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.”

How to be a son? Obviously by definition he is not a slave to sin.

Remember John1:10-13

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him.

11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

If you want to be a son — a true son of Abraham, a son of God, you must be born again into the family. Thus your human family is irrelevant.

Our true sonship is revealed by our response to Jesus.There is no other way to be a child of God.

He is the only one who can set us free from sin determining our future.

John 8:37 -38

37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants.

In the flesh only.

Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.

What happened was a refusal to hear his words (let alone abide in them), and a desire to kill him (opposition to truth and desire to kill the truth-bearer).

38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.’

At the same time they were claiming to be children of Abraham and free from slavery. But, when, in fact, murder and a refusal to receive the truth from the Father are the marks of slavery to sin and Satan’ lies.

They are outraged.

John 8: 39-40

39 ‘Abraham is our father,’ they answered.
‘If you were Abraham’s children,’ said Jesus, ‘then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.

This is incredible. You say you are Jews. You’re not Jews. You say Abraham is your father. He’s not. True Jewishness, Jesus says, is not a bloodline; it’s a faith and obedience line.

Paul described this way Romans 2:29

A true Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not the letter

2. Now we come to the second justification which is strongly connected to the first.

John 8:41-44

41 You are doing the works of your own father.’
‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’

First, it was their ethnic connection with Abraham that justified them.

Now it is their religion, their God. We are children of God!

42 Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.

And Jesus says, “No, you aren’t.”

Because they cannot recognize what Jesus says and does as belonging to God’s character or glory, this shows they are not of the same family. Until the Son sets you free, you are not children in the house; you are slaves.

43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

As Jesus said elsewhere: By their fruits you will know them.

And remember this was after the spectacular observation of the Feast of Tabernacles. Our religious practices do not justify us – no matter how well we do them.

Religion of itself cannot make one a child of God.

There is one more subtle self justification. We heard it already.

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Message for the Day ,

Ulladulla First Service(B)

October 21st, 2016
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Grace can sound like a wishy washy word. Very religious without much meaning. But at this festival we want to lean how powerful it is. When one stands in the presence of a mighty waerfall, we sense the power –like an irresistable force that overwhelms all around it.

To get an idea of the power of a waterfall watch a few seconds of  The Largest And Most Powerful Waterfall in Europe by clicking here.

His voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

Our theme for this year’s festival: The Mighty Water Fall of God’s Grace

Where sin increased grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20(b))

We want to be assured that nothing can stop God’s grace achieving his purpose on this earth and the entire universe. And grace isn’t just a force or a quality of God. He is grace. Sin will not be able to resist it.

We are a joyful people because we increasingly know the graciousness of the one who wants us to abide in him and to be at home with him.

Psalm 1 uses an image about a tree being planted by a stream of running water. It’s Psalm of the exile. It’s all desert—emotionally, spiritually desert, but also physically it’s desert. And yet the Psalmist used, “In the Lord you will be like a tree planted by a stream of running water.”

So no matter what our circumstances we have the continual stream of living waters. We don’t have to be feeble and dry, stumbing around dying in a desert.

Andrew Purves:

Romans 5 Paul talks about grace. Overflowing. Three times he says, “Grace overflows.” perisseia Again he says grace overflows, and the third time he puts it in the superlative—grace super-overflows hyperperisseuō —it’s a Niagara Falls of grace, not just a little trickle-down effect. It’s with this huge grace so that sin has no chance.

Let’s examine the context of that statement more closely.

Romans 5

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

We are standing in this grace.

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

So we are confident that grace will achieve its purpose in us.

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

No matter what happens in life we live in hope. A real hope. Not a wishful hope.

Why?

5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Grace flows through the working of the Holy Spirit imparting the love of God into our lives.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s the power of that love that we receive.

This is where we left off last year. You can hear a lot of what we spoke about last year in these verses.

But the really big question is “Is God’s grace really sufficient to take care of our sinful nature? Can God put right us and the world right when sin abounds so much?”

What does this mean for all of us and this darkened world?

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

There is a living new way in him. Grace is on-going, not just one event.

The grace of Christ is not freedom from obedience, it’s a gracious obedience given to us to empower us.

Mike Feazell:

That good news is not some kind of sloppy permissiveness. It’s not some like, “Okay, I’ll just forgive you, and you’re off the hook.” It’s an accountability. Grace…because Christ is our life, sin would be to say, no, he’s not. But he is our life, he is living our life for us, and there is an accountability to that grace.

The church is a group of people who want to live into this reality, they want to help each other and hold each other accountable.
In Titus, Paul is writing to Titus and he says, “Grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness.” [Titus 2:12]

Whatever obedience is required of us, we already have the obedience of Jesus to empower us. By the Holy Spirit we are brought into the life of Jesus in his obedience – it empowers us.

11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Everything we are today and will be tomorrow is in him.

But how universal is this grace? Can it really save all and rectify the world from evil.

Read more…

Message for the Day ,

Jesus as High Priest

May 2nd, 2016
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Think about the hope we have in the challenges of our Christian journey in the High Priest who has before us and for us.

Read  Hebrews 5-6

It is impossible to actually understand the Christian life without grasping who Jesus is for us today.

A high priest is one of us, who represents us to God. He seeks atonement for us because of our sins.

 A high priest in Israel was totally identified with our mutual vulnerability before God. There is a compassionate understanding of our human weaknesses. So if we have blind spots or if we are just drifting away and turning from God in disbelief, he is not shocked.

 It was a role no one could choose to do. He had to be called by God

 Jesus has been appointed to this high office by God. And it is forever.

 He entered completely in to our human condition. He was perfected as a human being in his reverent submission –obedient even unto death. Not my will be done, but yours. We can say that he redeemed our humanity in himself. We now see what we are meant to be. This is the quality of the one who represents us to the Father.

 His High Priesthood was learnt through suffering: tempted in all points we are.

 We need to pause here and reflect that the Son of God, eternally with the Father in the Spirit, actually became a human Son of God, with all the human struggles, pains, suffering for one reason only: to be the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

 But notice the description of the ordinary human high priest He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

 How much more the one who entered completely our sinful state, the anguish of our alienation from God and became a sin offering for everyone: not just High Priest but the sacrifice as well, who understands who we are in our blind spots, our drifting and disbelief.

 Even when he penetrated the fearful depths of our alienation ‘ my God, my God, why have you forsaken me – he converted it from the very bottom of our disobedient nature into perfect oneness with the mind of God- ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

 Come to him. He will represent us to God in himself. He is our atonement. It is in the atonement of his blood that we are reconciled. It is in his resurrected perfected humanity we are received by God as his children,

 The role of Jesus as our High Priest, of the order of Melchizedek, is a challenging area to understand.

 It involves Jesus as the Son of God and Jesus as the Son of Man. It involved the Word becoming flesh.

 The receivers of this letter were not ready for this. Slow to learn has the implication of laziness. They were not willing to go outside their comfort zone. They were looking back to a simpler reliance on their old Jewish temple faith. They were not allowing God through the Holy Spirit to lead them into the deeper things of God.

 Hebrews 5:12-14

 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

 While a babe is beautiful, we become worried if it does not progress after a time and begin to use it limbs and other faculties in a more mature way. What at first, in its dependency and vulnerability, was something we saw as beautiful and precious, becomes a deep concern.

 Little babies are meant to grow. They are not meant to stay how they were born. Young parents always compare how there child is developing by what is happening to other babies. They read books about the various developmental stages.

 My child is walking. If it slightly ahead of the average there is some satisfaction of how quickly they are growing. However, if there seems to be a delay, they appear behind, in say speech, a slight panic can take over. In most cases it is just the normal variability that children go through.

 But some times it indicates something is seriously wrong.

 It is the same spiritually.

 Slow to learn or dull of hearing represents the same word as is translated slothful, lazy. They were not exercising their spiritual life. Just lying there, drifting. They were the same in their understanding as they were at the beginning.

 They somehow were losing what this is all about. It had become routine, they were staying where they started, probably happy with just the elementary teaching. They were not used to using their intellect and growing in understanding — but more importantly they had stopped responding to the teaching and working of the Holy Spirit in the inner being. You see we are not just here to just collect facts about Christian doctrine, stopping where we like, with what suits us — not interested in going on.

 A Christian is meant to advance further as God’s Spirit leads him to a deeper understanding, not just for one’s own privilege but to be able to teach others. The goal of maturity is to give instead of receiving help from others. We are meant to have streams of living waters flow from us, our behaviour reflecting by a growing maturity led by a Spirit inspired use of the Word of God.

 Maturity is associated with “ by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

 While it is good to rehearse the old, old story and not to forget the foundational truths, just to sit back and say I can just sit on this knowledge and just allow my mind to atrophy, without the prayer to have the Spirit teach us the deeper matters of faith is a spiritual danger.

 It would seem strange to have to go to an Olympic gymnasts and say we must convince you once again of the fundamentals about the facts of gravity and learning to walk again. You would only do that after a serious disease or accident in which he would have to relearn all those foundational skills again.

 Normally you would have hoped they had progressed passed that.

 So there is a danger: Standing still at first and then going backwards.

 The fact that the author exhorts the reader to train implies it is possible that spiritual degeneration is remedial.

 It is the old principle of “use it” or “lose it”

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Message for the Day