Monday, February 21, 2011

Bible Study John 15:18-27 Hatred &Witnessing for Christ

In our witnessing for Christ, we will encounter people that are against Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ explained the hatred in this section.

Q1 Who is the 'world' that Jesus referred to in John 15:18?
The 'IF' in the "If the world hates you ..." tell us that not all in the world hate us or Jesus Christ. There are three groups of people in the world toward Jesus.
  1. The Group that Hates Jesus
    • They tend to be the religious leaders of Jesus' day. They were the ones that incite people to stone Jesus and eventually put Jesus on the cross.
  2. The Group that Follow Jesus
    • These are Jesus' followers. That are some that did not follow Jesus physically but follow His teachings. Mark 9 recorded someone casting demon in Jesus' name that resulted in Jesus' statement of Mark 9:40 For the one who is not against us is for us.
  3. The Group that are Neural
    • These are people that don't know about Jesus, don't care about it or are seeking and considering. This group is temporary. They have to decide to follow or not before their death. At the final count, only those who know and follow Jesus count. Mat 12:30 and Luke 11:23 "Whoever is not with me (against the devil - added by me for clarity) is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."
Q2 Why do the 'world' hate Jesus or us, the followers of Jesus?
  1. Hate Jesus - because they do not know the Heavenly God that sent Jesus v21.
  2. Hate Us - because 
    1. we are not of them. v19
    2. we are chosen by Christ out of the world v19
    3. we, the servants of Christ are not greater than Christ. They persecute Christ and will persecute us. v20.
Q3 Are they guilty of such a sin?
Yes. They don't have excuses that they don't know. They fulfilled the prophecy that "They hated Jesus without a cause"v 25 .Reasons are:
  1. Jesus had come and spoke to them about Himself -sent One of God. v22
  2. He who hates Jesus also hate His heavenly Father God.
  3. Jesus had done mighty works that no one ever did among them. They witnessed them and yet hated Jesus v24.
Q4 Who are the Witnesses of Jesus Christ in this world and this time?
There are two types of witnesses now.
  1. The Holy Spirit that was sent from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, will bear witness about Jesus v26.
  2. We, the follower of Jesus, who had know Jesus from the beginning directly or indirectly v27.
Q5 What is the secret of witnessing for Christ?
We are the only ones physically on the earth to bear witness for Christ. The Holy Spirit, sent to be in us, will bear witness for Jesus and also convict the world (we will learn this in John 16). The secret of witnessing is there is to listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit in our witnessing. Let the Holy Spirit gives us the leading, boldness and wisdom to share the words and also through our works. Witnessing is not just by speech but by work of love and faith.

Q6 How should we handle the objections and persecution that we may face in our witnessing?
  1. Do not be surprised or upset because we have been told by Jesus already.
  2. Do not take it personally and be offended because it is Jesus that they hate. There is nothing wrong with you. It is that they don't know Jesus.
  3. Feel free to leave them until other time that Holy Spirit lead. They are not the men of peace yet.
  4. The key thing is not be discouraged. Witnessing is the job of the Holy Spirit as well and not just you. Luke 10:6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest on it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bible Study 1Peter 2 Discussion

 
Key Points:
  1. We are living stones of a Cathedral of God, in which Christ is the Corner stone.
  2. We are and hence we do right and good things and we do not the bad things. We prefer Paul's term of Ambassordor of Christ in this world to Peter's sojourner and exiles in this world. Ambasssodor draw resources from God.
  3. We stressed on Be-Do-Have. Identity - Action - Outcome. Our behavior comes from our identity in Christ.
  4. Doing the other way round, Have-Do-Be is legalism. Have the laws of God, Doing the Laws of God to obtain Salvation as Sons of God is not possible. One reason is that we fail often to follow the laws. The other more fundamental reason is that doing something does not make us that hing. A monkey can behave like man, do the things that man do, but they will remain monkeys. Becoming children of God needs Christ and the Holy Spirit' rebirth. see "Be-Do-Have" of Grace Based Doctrine, &   From Be-Do-Have to Be-Do-Have-Share.
  5. We talked about testimony. We are touched often by people from very-bad to very-good. There are inspiring stories from common people to successful and influential people thorugh Christ. One is HTC boss. Her story is in http://www.gospeltimes.cn/news/2008_11_08/3614.htm.
  6. We are to suffer for righteousness and Christ's sake to bring glory to God. We added another good reason: Our righteous suffering may, like Christ's wounds for us, bring benefits to others.
  7. We discussed that bearing good witness under a difficult boss is tough thing to do that needs the grace of God. We have to fully trust God to vindicate us in our life time and not to bear grudges or take revengeful actions into our own hands. Some shared that one sometimes had to stay away from colleagues who get together to share complains about the boss.
  8. Haveing an anger releasing party by throwing things may not work but just train up our anger! Better to get to the source of anger and if needed, ask God for the grace to forgive, to see the purpose, to grow up, to receive the peace, and to be grateful even for the tough time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bible Study John 15:9-17 Community of Father's Love

Let's begin the study with a mind-map of the content shown below. Jesus was establishing a His community of love centered on God, the Heavenly Father. He gave the objective, their identity, and tell them the how-to. The community should be known by their love. (John 13:35).
Q1 What is the source or the foundation of this community of love?v9
The source, the uniting identity, the power to love, comes from God, the Father of Jesus. It is His love, His commandments that should run through and unit the community in Jesus Christ - His beloved Son. The Father and Jesus are one. Jesus had repeatedly said this many times. Most people can relate to Jesus though some feel a mother figure like Mary, mother of Jesus is closer. Most people feel that the Father is too authoritative and high-up to be loving and close. Jesus is telling all that it is not so. God, to be known as a loving Father, is the one who empower and command him(Jesus) to love and do all that he does. All that Jesus did was from his Father God. We must clarify our mindset about Father God and enjoy His love and presence.

Q2 How should we response to the Father's love through Jesus? v10
We are to abide and continue in His love. It is not a vague concept. It is something that we can put into practice and experience the benefits. The simple form is to obey or keep what He tell us, namely, His commandments. His commandments to us comes out of His love for us and is surely for our good. Keeping His commandments reveal our trust and hence our love for Him. There is no relationship unless there is trust. There is no trust if we do not believe and keep His commandments.
   
Q3 What is Jesus' commandment to us?v12, 17
His commandment is that we should love one another as He has loved us.
We are not just to love only but to love as much and as Jesus' love for us.
  • That is quite a high standard. Left to us, we probably will only love those that love us or are related to us. But Jesus want us to love our fellow believers totally, despite their faults and unlovableness. Jesus tells us to love even our enemy! He did it by dying for us even when we were yet sinners.
  • Love includes truth and righteousness. Love without righteousness is indulgence.
  • But don't worry. Jesus gave us the Father's love to enable us to love like Him. He gave us His joy so that our joy might be full. v11.
Q4  What is the greatest degree of love?v13
The greatest degree that we can give to our friend is our very life. This is precisely what Jesus did and setting us the example to follow!

Q5 How should believers live in this community of love?v14-17
  1. We are chosen by Jesus. 
    • That also means that we did not earn it.
    • Jesus just choose and love us out of His own free will. 
    • It is up to us to accept it.
  2. We are ordained to go and bear everlasting fruit.
    • The is a repeat of v8 that the Father is glorified. 
    • Note that the fruit we bear, our character and work, is with and in us. We are glorified as our Father is glorified in us.
  3. We are friends of Jesus. He tell us the why, what and how.v15
    • Jesus emphasized this point by telling us we are not His servants anymore.
    • Jesus will tell you the future and your calling if you bother to seek and ask.
  4. We are given the power for us to accomplish our assigned mission.
    • whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father, He give to you v16.
  5. We are to love another with His love v12,17 (a reminder again).
This is the mind-map that summarized all:

Lim Liat Copyrighted 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bible Study John 15:1-8 Vine & Fruits - Keys to Success

This passage is commonly known as the parable of the vine. But I feel it lacks the punch. I use parable in my teaching of Corporate Performance Management. It holds the keys to creating sustainable performance and growth both for an individual and a corporation. I prefer to name it "The Parable of Vine and Fruit - Keys to Success".  Jesus is telling us how to bear fruits. The key is connecting to the source the vine. Let's start from the beginning.

A key verse is John 15:2, most translations have it as:
(KJV) Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away G142 airo

A check with the Strong Concordance gives it two possible meaning:
   1. take up or lift up
   2. take out or take away.

Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abund...



see Heb 12:6-8.

Q2 Describe what the Gardener does to the different types of branches. What do they signify?

Type 1 Branch: Does not bear fruit.
  • Action: Lift it up.
  • Meaning: 
    • Branch on the ground covered with dirt, blocked from the sunlight, may not grow well and bear no fruit. They need to be lifted up from the dirt, be exposed to the sun, that they may grow well and bear fruit.
    • The Gardener Father first investigate the cause and then take corrective action. Hence, I prefer the lift-up rather than the take-out translation. 
  • Application:
    • Don't be too quick to fire your non-productive staff. Find out the reasons why they are not productive. Apply the 6M thinking - Man, Machine, Method, Measurement, Materials and Environment. Man is only one of the factor of production. The staff who is not doing well could be due to factors beyond his control like poor materials, machine that break down often, or may be he was not even trained well for the job etc.
Type 2 Branch: Bear some fruit with potential to bear more fruit.
  • Action: Prune it.
  • Meaning:
    • The branch is producing some fruit. But the branch is also producing lots of leaves. The energy are not channeled to producing fruit but to produce other things for show. A management guru said that "good is the enemy of best". God may take away what we think is good now only to give us and to bring us to something better.
  • Application:
    • Energy not channel to producing the objective - the fruits, are called waste. We may be very busy doing all kinds of things. But not all activities are contributing to the 'making fruit' objective. Such activities need to be cut off so that the energy and other resources can be used to produce the strategic mission of producing fruits. We are good at doing what we think is good for God without consulting God. Then we turn around and blame God for not blessing our work for Him! Activities that promote our own selfish agendas against God's will are waste and need to cut off. Pruning creates focus and alignment towards achievement of God's objective - bearing fruits.
    • Being too comfortable in our present situation will cause us to stagnate and regress. It is good that we are 'pruned', given a jerk, a new challenge, so that we may continue to grow up to be better. If a papaya is not bearing fruit, a recommended procedure is to drill a hole through its stem!
Q3 How do we know what and how to prune?
v3 tells us that by Jesus' Word we are clean. We are pruned by following His teachings. 2Tim 3:16 tells us the various uses of Scriptures (See Bible Study 2Timothy 3 Living in the End Times.). Psalm 1:1-3 tells us the fruitfulness of keeping God's Words.

v4 Abide in Jesus.  Be connected to Jesus. Be in His presence - to talk to Him and to gain direction from Him. He will guide us and coach us about what are the important and useful things (from God's perspective and not us) to do.

v5 Tells us if we are not connected to and directed by Jesus, we cannot do anything useful for God. See We can do Nothing apart from Jesus.
v7 tell us abiding include abiding in Jesus' words (ie. study and practice the Bible and not just praying only).  There is the assurance that in abiding, we can ask anything and it shall be done for us. Vine, the source, also provide the energy and resources for us to do the work that He wanted. That is the grace power of God. see "Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This common definition is wrong.

Q4 What happen to those that are not connected to the Vine?
Branches not connected to the Vine will eventually withered, died and dried up. They are only useful for burning. 

The original purpose of the vine is for producing fruits and not for burning.
If we do not connect to the Source and abide in Him, we loose our purpose, become used to Him, and deviate and degrade our purpose and become firewood. Even worse, vines are poor firewood being not created for it. We can see this lost of our purpose and our value in Matt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. In 2Tim 2:20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Our works will be like woods and hays that are burnt off as in 1Cor 3:12-15.

Perhaps, we can extend a further bit and said that Jesus used this illustration in v6 to tell us that men without Jesus will go to hell.

However, this verse is not about loosing our salvation. Some people use this verse to show that Christians not obeying the commandments will loose their salvation and be cast to hell. But this is not what Jesus is saying. We are saved by Jesus while we are yet sinners. On the other hand, if we say we are saved and yet not abiding in Jesus and His words, then we need to examine our heart and intention. Are we believing rightly and are connected to the true vine of Jesus?


Q5 What is the Father's objective?
v8 tells that our Father is glorified by the fruits we bear. If we are truly Jesus' disciples, then we should bear fruit to glorify our Father.

In summary, we have the following key words

Mission: Glorify God by Producing Godly Fruits

(John Piper said that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. Please note that God is glorified through us - we are the glory of God!)

Strategy: Abide in the Vine - Jesus
- be connected to Jesus
- get guidance
- follow His words

Development & Growth:
- Measure: quantity and quality of fruits.
- Develop the weak
- Prune the Capable
   - Cut Waste
   - Focus resources on growing fruits

Outcome:
   Lots of fruits that bring glory to God.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bible Study John 14 Leaving & Coming Again

This is one of my favorite chapter of the Bible, especially verse 14:3 I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.  Jesus was preparing His disciples for his pending absence from them. There are many great truths in this chapter. Many verses are quoted often.

Q1 What was the purpose of Jesus' discourse in this chapter?
To comfort and to prepare His disciples for His soon coming departure - His death on the cross. v1 Let not your heart be troubled. v25 These things have I spoken to you being present with you. v29 I have told you before it come to pass that when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

Q2 What is the one sure cure for our worry?
Believe in God and believe also in me v1 is the one and only one needed.

Q3 What are we to believe about Jesus? Can you come out with a detailed list and meditate on it? How does the particular truth apply to your present situation?
  1. Jesus was going - to prepare a place for us (John 14:2,3) & not abandoning us(John 14:3).
  2. Jesus will be back & receive us ; 14:3c, 18b, 28a.
  3. You know the Way there - Jesus is the only Way to Father, Truth, Life. (John 14:4,6)
  4. Father God and Jesus are One. (John 14:7, 9-11, 20, 31)
  5. Believers can do greater works than Jesus was on earth   (John 14:12)
  6 Jesus will answer your prayer in His name . (John 14:13-14)
  7. Love is know thru keeping commandments (John 14:15, 21, 23-24)
  8. Father God will give the Holy Spirit to be with us forever.  (John 14:16-17, 26)
  9. Jesus lives and so do we in Him  (John 14:19)
  10. Jesus gives us Peace  (John 14:27)
  11. Rejoice at Jesus' Leaving (John 14:28b)
  12. The Prince of this world was coming. This prince had nothing to do with Jesus (John 14:30)

Q4 What is the work of the Holy Spirit?
  1. The Holy Spirit is known as the Comforter v16.
  2. The Spirit of Truth - Only believers can receive Him. v17
  3. The Holy Spirit dwells in us v17.
  4. The Holy Spirit will be sent by the Father when Jesus is taken away v26
  5. He shall teach us all things v26
  6. He shall remind us of Jesus' teachings.
  7. He will bear witness of Jesus John 15:26 (it is good to put related verses here to have a better understanding).
  8. He will reprove the world John 16:8
    1. of sin (not believe in Jesus) John 16:9,
    2. of righteousness (given by Jesus when He went back to the His Father) 16:10
    3. of judgment of the prince of world 16:11 and found guilty and condemned.
Q5 Why is Jesus the only way to the Father? John 14:6
We simply answer that it is because Jesus said so! But we can also give good reasons for it. Firstly, it is only Jesus who come from the Father and therefore He should know best. Secondly, it is only Jesus who is qualify to pay for sins, the only sinless and righteous to redeem our sins. Thirdly, Jesus is the source of life. He is the resurrected one that can give life to us. No one else qualifies. Jesus is the only way.

Q6 Explain the relationship between love and keeping His commandments in greater details.
  1. If we love Jesus, we will obey Jesus by keeping His commandments v15
  2. Keeping Jesus' commandments is an outward expression of our inward love for Him v21.
  3. He who loves Jesus will be loved by the Father and Jesus will love him too. v21,23
  4. Father and Jesus will abide with him and manifest themselves to him. v21, 23.
  5. I think these verses are telling us that as we obey out of love, not out of justification, we can discover and taste the love of the Father and Jesus. We will discover that the commandments bring great benefits to us rather than keep us from enjoying life as the devil would have us to believe.
  6. Love and obedience are both sides of the same coin. This is emphasized again in 14:24 in the negative way - love not & keep not.
Q7 What is Rapture? 
Rapture refers to the future event when believers will be taken out of the world to meet Christ in the air referred to in 1 Thes 4:16-18. In 14:3, Jesus said He went to prepare a place for us in heaven and then He would come again to receive us so that we will always be with Him. We also know that Christ's Kingdom will be established on earth. John 14:3, 1 Thes 4:17 all have the assurance phrase "so shall we ever be with the Lord". So we can infer that there is a period where we would be with Christ in Heaven before we come again to rule with Him on earth in the Millennium.