Friday, April 23, 2010

Bible Study on Galatians 4 Son vs Slave Discussion

Q1 What is the difference between Heir and Slave?
  1. Heir: inherit estate, give orders, and take initiative
    Stages: children = slave = follow orders, son - matured - right time
  2. Slave: work for salary (a living), follow orders, reactive
Q2 How do I apply this to my life now?
  • Which stage of Son-ship am I? Child or a mature Son?
  • Do I need a Mentor to guide me?
  • Am I in any kind of bondage? Am I free to act rather than forced to act?
  • I have ability and creativity
  • Am I taking initiative rather than reactive?
    • Am I complaining instead of doing something about it?
    • Am I working and learning for growth?
Q3 What are the responsibilities of being a true friend?
  • Telling the truth and doing it in the Right Way
  • The Right way:
    1. establish your identity, position & authority to speak, the credentials, such as the Bible
    2. show evidences
    3. show endorsements from relevant authorities
    4. use illustrations to communicate better e.g. Nathan on David's adultery & murder.
    5. packaged in love Eph 4:15. You need to earn the right to be listened to. Start with love, gain trust then earn the right to speak to be listened to.
    6. The Way of Love (in Truth) is a more powerful way than just Confrontation which leads to mutual destruction. e.g. Gandhi for India, M Luther King Jr for the Blacks, N Mandela of S Africa.
Q4 What action do I need to take from this learning about true friendship?
Is there anyone I should I extend my love to? Are there improvements to be made in the way we correct someone?

Q5 What is the difference between the two covenants?
  1. Law: Slave:
    1. Performance for acceptance
    2. Stressed to Perform
    3. Become either proud when we think we do well and condemned when we fail.
    4. Who set the standards?
      • Other People – We become Men-Pleasers.
      • Self Perception of God – A Judgmental God, all ready to punish.
      • Satan instigation
  2.  Grace: Son ship:
    1. Performance from Acceptance
    2. Joy to Perform
    3. Standards according to God – God glorifying work.
    4. Productive and fruitful work see Ps 127:2
Q6 How does this change my behavior?
  1. Not have to do but I want to do.
  2. Not minimum standard, but God glorifying standards
  3. Not by my power, but according to God's direction and empowerment to accomplish innovative, impactful things obtaining favors & good relationships with people.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bible Study 1 John Chapter 2 The Stages of Spiritual Growth

Stages of Growth
John tells clearly that there are three main stages of spiritual growth - little children, young man and fathers. The implications of the stages of growth are:
  1. Different levels of maturity - Not all believers are at the same level. Don't treat everyone the same way.
  2. All start from beginning stage. There is no short-cut or step jumping.
  3. We can be stuck at a stage, or even regress to lower stage.
  4. Growth is a process that takes time and practices, to move from one stage to higher stages.
Stage 1 Little Children
  1. Forgiven & righteous & holy. If we sin, we don't hide it but come boldly to God because we have Jesus who paid for our sin and is our advocate. We are forgiven not because we are great but because God is love. We don't earn or could even work for our salvation. Rebirth is by grace of God only. (1John 2:1-2, 12)
  2. Abide in Him - Know Him through Obedience. A key part of this stage is to know Christ through listening to Him and obeying Him - keeping His words. Obedience is the way to growth - the process of perfecting us to be like Christ. His Words for us are simple - love and hate not (2:9-11), stay and walk in righteousness (2:6, 2:29) and truth (2:4).
  3. Know the Father (2:13). We know the Father through Jesus. The Father sent His Son Jesus for us. Knowing and experiencing the Father's love and presence is the ultimate aim of life. Jesus came to bring us back to the Father. Let the love of our Father so comfort us that we forgive and let go of all bitterness and simply cling on and enjoys His love. The Father's love bring deliverance, peace and joy and overflowing love to others. Children must grow up in the environment of love that they can be secured and become strong young man. Focus on the Father alone and not on any other (1 John 5:21).
 Stage 2 Young Men
  1. Overcomer - Overcame the evil one. We are overcomer through abiding in the Word of God (2:14) and not through our physical or mental strength. The Word of God is internalized in us through our obedience in stage 1. 
  2. Love the Father and NOT the World (2:15-17) 
    • The world has 3 temptations for us to distract us from loving our Father.
      1. Desires of the Flesh - There is nothing wrong in having pleasures of life. Our Father want to give us that. But we are tempted to have pleasures outside the boundaries of God and go on to the extremes and be held in bondage rather than the promised satisfaction. e.g. sexual, drug, gambling addictions etc. The senses of our flesh are the doors opened to temptations from the world and devils.
      2. Desires of the Eyes - We see and we want them no matter what. We put our faith on things that are seen (and temporary 2:17) instead of unseen things that are spiritual and of eternal value. 
      3. Pride in possessions and of Life - We put our value and esteem on what we get and possess. We seek glory and power from the abundance of things of things we own, and specifically money. We are distracted from putting trust in God and we want to be our own God. Of course we can never be God. It is only devil's lie to us since the time of Eve.
  3. Do the Will of God - Abide in God (2:17,24)
  4. Have Knowledge & Discernment
    • Know the enemy - the anti-Christ (2:18-23) and deceivers(2:26). There are many anti-Christs, not just one, throughout history and into the future. Know their lies - denying Christ had come in the flesh.
    • Know the Truth and our Identity (2:20-25)
      • Anointed of God - Holy Spirit within us 2:20,25-27
      • Eternal Life (Zoe's, God's kind of Life) 2:25
      • Listen to the Holy Spirit within us.
Stage 3 Fathers
  1. Know the Heart of the Creator Father (2:13, 14). We have grown up to be a father, spiritual or earthly, and know the responsibilities and heart of being a father. 
  2. Love True: The Father's love for us is true-love. It is a love without conditions, and is proactive, and is sacrificing. There are additional things that we shall study in Chapter 4. 
  3. Considering Paul's concept of "More than Conqueror", in The Meaning of "More than Conquerors",we can perhaps says that 'Young Men' are 'Conquerors' (winning by force of God) and the 'Fathers' are the "More than Conqueror"( winning by transformation of the heart through love of God).
Questions for Reflections:
  1. What are the Stages of Growth? 
  2. What are the characteristics of each stage?
Questions for Applications:
  1. Which stage are you presently in?
  2. What actions will you take to grow up into the next stage?
    What are the obstacles? What help do you need?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bible Study 1 John Chapter 1 Walk in Fellowship with Jesus

Who is Jesus?
John began his letter with a clear statement on who Jesus is. He is with the Father (i.e. God), the Word of Eternal Life and He came in the flesh that he could touch, see and hear. Jesus came in the form of a real human being. God visited His creation.

The Gospel and Its Purpose
The good news, proclaimed by John, is that we can have fellowship Jesus, the Father and us (human beings) forever. We all can enjoy the goodness of God through Jesus.

Fellowship with Jesus is the Key for Victorious Living and staying sin free
A key attribute of God is Light (1:5). There is no darkness or sin with God. The key point is for us to come the light. The light will expose our sins. We can then confess our sin. without fear, to God because God is love and through Jesus' completed work on the cross Jesus has already saved us from our sins. There is no fear in love. We can be honest with God and with ourselves. Admitting our sins allows us to face it boldly and with Christ's grace be changed and be freed for victorious living. See Heb 4:16. Facing our sins allows us to be freed from them through applying the power from God. The secret for breaking away from sins is to walk in the light, have close relationship with Jesus.

Focus on fellowship and walking with Jesus keep us freed from the influence of sin.

Don't focus on the sin but focus on Jesus. Our preoccupation with Jesus will free us from the temptation of sin. Nevertheless, if we do sin, we can face it immediately and be freed from it. We cannot continue in our sin if we want to have fellowship with Jesus.

While Jesus has paid for and forgive our sins, the society that we live in does not. While spiritually there is no punishment for our sins, we still have to pay the penalties that our society levies on us for our sins. A thief can be forgiven in Christ but he may still need to face the punishment of imprisonment or fines.

v1:9 has been used by some to say that unless we confess our sins, our sins will not be forgiven. But v9 follows from v7 which says that as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  My personal view on confession of sin is that we must admit and face it to change and it was not for forgiveness as Christ had redeemed us from all sin. There are sins that we are not aware (unless someone or the Holy Spirit tell us), and hence we are not able to confess them. Does that mean if we die we could not go to heaven because of unconfessed sins? Certainly not. But unconfessed sins hold us in bondage and defeat. As we grow up into maturity in the likeness of Christ, we shall be aware of our other inadequacies as we conquer over them, one step at a time.

Questions for Reflections
  1. Who is Jesus?
  2. How do we have fellowship with Jesus?
  3. What is the secret of victorious sin-free living?
Questions for Applications
  1. What can I do to have closer fellowship with Jesus?
  2. Write down an action plan to develop the relationship with Jesus. Be outcome(fruit of the Spirit) focus rather than just effort focused. 
For the discussion, see Bible Study 1 John 1 Walking in the Light Discussion
Next: Bible Study 1 John Chapter 2 The Stages of Spiritual Growth

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Bible Study 1 John God is Light & Love

    1 John is a first hand experience report of Jesus, God in the flesh, that visited the earth. A creator of the universe, larger than the universe He created, came into this little earth, as a man to communicate and save us. This is almost unimaginable. But John declared to us that the One, whom he touched with his own hands is the Word of Eternal Life that was with the Heavenly Father.

    Christianity differs from other religions in one key aspect - Jesus Christ. If you remove Jesus Christ, Christianity is void. All other religions can still stand without their founders.

    The main themes of 1 John are about Jesus Christ the Eternal Life, the Light and the Love. We who has fellowship with Jesus must walk in the light and in love. By walking in the light, we stay away from sin. Sin is revealed by the Light. Sin breaks fellowship. Sin and its effects, however, are removed by our confession. It is also about exposing the evil and staying away from the lusts of the world. Fellowship with Christ is also about love in action. Love is proactive - it acts first. Love is about obedience. Love is without fear. Our loving deeds assure us that we are of God who is Love.

    I find John writing to be a bit repetitive. He tends to say the same thing in different ways. It shows that our language are too restrictive to explain the greatness of Jesus and His love.

    The main title for the 5 chapters are :
    1. Jesus, True God Came 
    2. The Growth Stages
    3. Believers Love like Their Father & Sin not
    4. Discernment & True Love 
    5. Our Identity & Authority
     It is exciting to discover the Love that Jesus had for us. It is also revealed slowly in our own life as we grow up from a child, young man and to fatherhood that we come to understand the Love of God. Let start with chapter 1... Bible Study 1 John Chapter 1 Walk in Fellowship with Jesus

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Bible Study Galatians 3 Discussion

    Additional learning from our discussion on Galatians Chapter 3 are shown in the mind map below:

    There is nothing to add to the completed work of Christ but to receive in faith and showing the faith through our behavior. The Spirit ruling over our mind and body.

    A main question is Q4 Do we still need to follow the Law after we are saved by Christ?
    We don't have to follow the Law for our justification or salvation for we have been justified and saved by Christ. Following and living out the Christ in us actually surpassed the requirements of the Law. Nevertheless, the Law serves as a mirror for our behavior - a minimum standard. We follow the spirit of the Law. We also exceeds the Law as we love and forgive others.