Thursday, December 15, 2011

Effective Bible Study with Mind Mapping Method using Ps 48

This is the Seven Steps to Effective Bible Study using a mind mapping software and with Ps 48 as illustration,  With computerized bibles and software tools, you can understand a passage better, faster, and have a record from which we can build additional understanding. With a proper framework, we learn and apply what we have learned and truly experience first hand the faithfulness of God's words.
Some people suggested that one should read 1 Proverb (for the mind) and 1 Psalm (for the heart) daily. For proverb, you can read the chapter according to the day of the month. For the Psalm, you choose the day of the year and take a modulus of 150 (since there are 150 psalms). Today is 15 Dec 2011 which is the 348th day of year 2011 and we choose 348 - 150 -150 = 48.  This method will ensure you cover the Proverb monthly and go through Psalm at least twice in a year.

This purpose of this post is to share with you how to study and meditate on the Bible in depth using a mind-mapping software ( in this example, I use mind-manager. There are many good FOC mindmap software like Freemind, Freeplane, Xmind and also on the web like MindMiester etc.

The Steps
See the illustration below:

  1. Copy & Paste
    Choose your favorite electronic Bible like eSword or TheWord, copy the passage and paste it over to your prefer mind-mapping software. Each verse is in a branch of the map. Break each verse down into finer concepts giving rise to more branches.
  2. Group and Title Tag Main Concepts.
    Group the main branches that are related together, and give a group title tag using your own words.
  3. Put in Your Own Thoughts and Comments
    With each branch, append your own comments, the factual, interpretive and application thoughts that come into your mind and heart when you read the verses.
    Cross reference them to see the repetition and emphasis of the concept in the verses.
    You can highlight key branches as you read along so that you can later come out with the conclusion easily.
  4. Summary Tagline
    Conclude the whole passage with a tagline that inspire you.
  5. Develop Questions
    Come out with a set of questions to bring out your learning from this passage. Questions are of the factual types first (what did the passage say), then your interpretive ones (what does it mean) and finally the applicative ones (what should I do about what I learn).
  6. Answer your Own Questions and share with others ... post it on your blog.
  7. End with Prayers of Requests if any and Thanks giving.
  8. Note: Step 1-7 may take place iteratively, jumping from one steps to another, rather than step by step,
    Read this passage again in future, either starting from blank and compare the versions or add on to this existing ones.
The End Result

Here is the mindmap of the study on Ps 48. I took out the verse reference to make the map more compact to be easily read on a computer screen. Have fun and be enriched in your spiritual walk with God.

Lim Liat (C) 15 Dec 2011

See also Meditating on God's Words using Mind-mapping
For a series of visual maps See

if you like to know about how to do mind mapping, please follow the series of articles starting with Brain Storming with Mind Mapping - Illustrated with Future of Singapore.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bible Study Titus - Building Great Church

A natural follow on to the book of 1&2 Timothy is the book of Titus. I have done that using a business point of view earlier. It is at "Building Great Church and Business According to the Letter to Titus". Hope this give you a fresh perspective on the Bible.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bible Study 2 Timothy 4 Preach the Word Till the End

Do you know how to live this life with satisfaction that there be no regrets ?Paul knew his time is up. He was ready to receive the crown. He reminded his protege Timothy how to live this victorious life to the end; the key things he needed to do; the types of people he would meet and the reliance on God's grace and His Spirit to complete this journey of life well.
The Outline:

The Trend and the Formation of Myths

Paul told us that people will continue to like what they want to hear and form their own myths and distorted gospel and theology. We need to watch out ourselves.

The Work and Calling of Believers
The secret of living a victorious and no-regrets Christian life is given by Paul. A major key work is to preach the Word carefully. Study the details of how this is done. The key verse in this chapter and even for the whole book of 2Tim is in 2Tim 4:2.
Paul's Own Successful Example:

The Types of People We shall be Meeting:
The Final Farewell:

Questions for Reflections:
  1. What do people nowadays like to hear?
  2. What will that lead to?
  3. What can be done about it?
  4. What are we called to do in general?  Do a checklist for Paul and learn from him.
  5. What are the different types of people that you will encounter?
  6. How should you handle them?
  7. What does the story of Paul and Mark tell us?

Lim Liat (C) 7 Nov 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bible Study 2 Timothy 3 Living in the Last Days

In the last days, people will get worse. However, it is even more important that we stay in the course of the truth and shine the light. Since you are the light, expect persecution from those in the dark trying to cover your light.

This purpose of 2Tim is for Paul to encourage and instruct his protege Timothy to boldly lead the Church at large. He is draw power from God, to guard the truth, to train up followers to continue the faith, and be watchful of the increasing evils and false doctrines. In this chapter 3, Paul told Timothy of increasing evil and encouraged Timothy to follow his teaching and model. He must stay the course despite the increasing persecutions and evil.

Here is the detail in mind-map form:
The Key Verse 2 Tim 3:16
In the midst of evil and confusion, it is a lot more important that we stay in the truth and know what is truly right and wrong. While the truth is in the Bible we must study it well and apply it. For more details see Judging Rightly

Questions for Reflections:
  1. What kind of people will you find in the last days?
  2. How do we handle the people in the last days? What do Paul mean by avoiding such people?
  3. What is to be expected in living a Godly Christian life? What can we learn from Paul?
  4. What is the purpose the scripture? How do we apply it?

Lim Liat (c) 4 Nov 2011

If you are wondering how can I come out with Bible Study Chapter in mind-map form in a day, the answer is I don't. Those mind maps have been constructed in the past. I just reflect and refine them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bible Study 2 Timothy 2 How to Be a Model Christian Leader

Paul teaches Timothy how to be a Model Christian Leader in this chapter. It begins with the Grace of God and follows with a set of instructions on ensuring continuity, focusing on serving God, preserving the truth, and leading by example
The Keys for Leadership.

The Details

Questions for Reflections
  1. What should we do with the gospel that we have?
  2. What is the gospel? What is the mission?
  3. What's make a good soldier?
  4. When does the teaching and/or discussion of the truth becomes a foolish and harmful quarrel? Are multiple interpretations of the truth, e.g. pre-, mid-, post-rapture, foolish quarrels? 2Ti 2:14-18, 2:23
  5. How to be a model believer and a leader like Paul?
Lim Liat (c) 3 Nov 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bible Study 2 Timothy 1 Be Bold to Lead & Preach

We hear sermons at least once every week and usually more if you attend home cell groups and get more from the internet. Do we really know how to live a meaningful and tough life like Paul? This is his last departing message to his protege Timothy. The secrets must be here. Read to know about it.
For this series of bible study, I shall try something new - that is to study the Bible in mind-map format. I have been doing that for many years. I will
  1. start with an electronic Bible, e.g. e-sword,net or are FOC.
  2. copy a passage, paste it over a mind-mapping software and then 
  3. break the verses down to study the words and ensure I don't miss out any detail.
  4. reflect on the learning and coming out with tagline titles to summarize and group the verses.
  5. highlight the important concepts and give my own comments.
  6. coming out with questions for reflection.
If you have been following my blogs, you will see that my posts tend to have mind-maps. It is easier and faster for me to do mind-mapping first. Then I will have to write from the mind-map to get a document that people can read. This transcribing could take a lot of time. For some people, the mind-map provides greater clarity and faster reading and learning.

So here it is, the mind-map for 2 Timothy Chapter 1 which I titled it as "Be Bold to Lead and to Preach".

After you have read through the mind-map, here are the questions for your reflections. The answers are located in the mind-map as well.
  1. How can we fulfill our calling of God?
  2. What is the key verse for this chapter?
  3. How do we be concerned about our friend?
  4. How can we be like Paul serving God gratefully even when in prison (1:8)?
  5. What are the key things that God give to enable us to live out our calling in life?
Lim Liat (c) 2 Nov 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 6 Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain

The secret of the truly rich is revealed here - Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain - Now and in the Future of Heaven (1 Tim 6:6, 19).

Q1 How is the relationship between boss and subordinates?
(This part 1 Tim 6:1-2 is better to be related to the relationship issue of Chapter 5 Relationship between Boss and Employee is one of many relationships(husband-wife, parent-child, brothers and sisters and friends) that we shall have in life.).

Paul tells us, as employees, to honor our bosses. This is to make sure that we do not bring shame to the name of our God and the teaching of our faith. For Chinese, when we encounter misbehaving children, we say those children are without proper home education, meaning that the parents are not teaching their children well. The parents bear the blame. Similarly, believers must perform well in their job so as to bring honor to our God and Faith.

When our bosses are believers too, Paul warns us not to be disrespectful  because they are our brothers/sisters ( the chances of similarity breads condemns is high). Rather, because they are our brothers and sisters, we should do even more for them. On top of that, all working together, believing bosses and employees, will make for a better and greater influence to the world.

Q2 Who are the ones stirring up troubles? What do they do? (1Tim 6:3-5)

The ones giving and stirring up troubles are those who disagree with the sound doctrine of Christ and teaching a different doctrines. They are proud and unteachable. They hold on to their own thinking and stir up quarrels. They are not interested in doing the right things but only like to engage in discussions to show how clever they are. They like to be different to show they are cool and wiser than others. They produces envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions and friction among people because of their different views. If you have a few of them, there will indeed be lots of different and conflicting views and endless quarrels. Some of them will even use the Faith to mislead believers and create wealth for themselves (1 Tim 6:5) resulting in Paul warning about the Greed for Money (v10) see Q4.

Compare Godliness & contentment IS great gains vs
             Godliness and contentment is the Means to great gain.
(for details, see Our Colored Eyes - 1 Tim 6:6 Godliness and Wealth )

Q3 What are for great gains?

Godliness with Contentment is great gain. Contentment alone is not. There is the goal of Godliness. Godliness alone is not enough as v5 tells us that some uses Godliness for their own personal gains as we can see that happening in the fall of some famous tele-evengelists.

Or perhaps, we must define true godliness to include contentment.

Paul gives an example of contentment - as long as we have food and clothing, basic subsistence living, we should be content. We should not pursue wealth alone as we bring nothing here and shall bring nothing back into the next world.

In v19, Paul tell us to invest, or bring things into the next world, and that is by giving our richness away in good works, generosity and sharing. It brings two benefits, foundation for future (in this present life and in the future heavenly life as taught by Jesus Mat 6:20) and to truly live a meaningful life here.
Richness is defined not in what we possess but in what we give out to bless others! See Q6.

Godliness is about fleeing greed and pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, and fighting the good fight of faith, and living out the eternal life that we have inside of us. (Compare this list with the Fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-23 and the Great Mystery of Christ in Us in Col 1:26-27 ). 

Godliness with contentment is being satisfied with God had provided for us in Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have all that is needed for life and I shall have no more want (Ps 23:1). We do not seek things outside of Christ and stay within Biblical practices. The purpose of man is to know God and glorify God. John Piper said that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.

Q4 What brings destruction? 1 Tim 6:9-10

1Tim 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils.
Those who seek after money alone will fall into temptation, snare, senseless and harmful desires and do illegal and unethical things (e.g. taking short cuts, committing offenses, bringing harm to oneself and families and even friends etc), and be pierced with many pains and eventually into ruin and destruction! Two short verses but full of the bad consequences of the greed for money. We are to take heed of such warnings. Remember godliness with contentment is great gain in life and life is more than just money. Life is of relationships, peace, joy, health and be content with some comforts in life.

Q5 What are believers to do in the meantime until the 2nd Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?
We are to keep the commandments, living them out,  of our Lord Jesus Christ. As an encouragement and a focus, Paul reminds us who Jesus Christ is and how worthy it is to be called and do serve with Him. He is the blessed and ONLY Sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who ALONE has immortality, the glorious light so powerful that none has ever seen ( imagining trying to see the sun and we will be blinded and Christ light is infinitely brighter than the sun). What honor it is to serve Him. When we are discouraged and feel like giving out, remember who is the Lord that you serve. Go to Him and think about Him. You will find that He is beside you and bidding you to come an rest on Him and let Him, His grace, comfort and giving you power to live through you.

Q6 How should the rich behave? How rich is rich?
The rich in this present time (may not be in the future or in heaven depending on how you use your richness)
  1. should not be haughty. It is easy for the rich to show off, to demand attention, to demand service, as their lifestyle is usually about being served rather than to serve. 
  2. should not trust in the wealth that one has. Wealth is most uncertain. The 2008 Financial Crisis, the fall of Lehman Brothers, tells us that clearly. 
  3. to trust GOD who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
  4. to be truly rich by doing good works, be generous and in sharing with others.
  5. The benefits are
    1. protection for the future -- storing up treasure as good foundation
    2. take hold, live out, that which is truly life.
Final reminder (6:20-21):
  1. make good use of our God given talents.
  2. avoid the different for different sakes irreverent to true life babbles disguised as knowledge.
  3. be full of grace (Godliness with contentment!)
We have come to the end of our study on 1Timothy.
I prayed that your life have been enriched by this study.

Lim Liat copyrighted 18 Aug 2011

See also: 
 Our Colored Eyes - 1 Tim 6:6 Godliness and Wealth 
 Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 5 Relating to Others

This chapter 5 teaches us about how to relate to others and how to care for those in needs using a widow as an example. There are the questions to lead you into a deeper study of the chapter.

Q1 How do we relate to others by their age and gender?
By gender and age, we get four combinations (1Tim 5:1):
  1. Older Man as Father.
  2. Younger Man as Brother.
  3. Older Woman as Mother.
  4. Younger Woman as Sister.
But there is an interesting extra added by Paul  - "Do not rebuke but encourage him as you would a father". This means that while we are to honor our fathers, our fathers may not be always right. We have the responsibility to encourage and lead our fathers to the right ways in those area where they are wrong. Correction must be done rightly and with respect is what Paul is emphasizing. Honoring does not mean not correcting. This is similar to the teaching of the Ancient Chinese Book of Filial Piety. See Understanding the Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing) in One Minute point 3 of the Key Differences.

Q2 How do we help those that are widows?

Paul listed the criteria first before helping them. They are:
  1. By age: not less than 60 years old (v9). Younger widows are encouraged to get marry again have have family (v14). Idling widows are tempted to be busybodies and gossipers which are no good(v13). See v6 self-indulgent is dead even while she lives!
  2. Good Character: 
    1. wife of one husband
    2. shown good works of bringing up children, hospitality, washing, caring for the afflicted, devoted to good work (v10).
  3. No Relatives to care for them.
    1. The principle taught here is that their own family should take care of their members need. v4,16 tells us that her children or grand-children or relatives to care for her.
    2. The church may care for those without relatives to support them v16.
Q3 What principles can we derive and apply to those with needs?
  1. Verify the reality of the Need.
    Can he/she work and be able to care for himself or herself. Helping someone such that he/she become idle is actually bad for him/her and burden the church. An idle fellow will be a busybody and a gossiper creating trouble.
  2. Can He/She be helped by his/her close family members or relatives?
    The family should help their member first before the church come in to help.
  3. Age and Character.
    Age help one to determine the ability to be self-supportive.
    Character help ensure that the Church is not helping someone to be self-indulgent. The helping should result in a better person physically and spiritually.
  4. If the 'things of the common' not protected then they are usually exploited and destroyed. Consider the garbage left in parks and other recreation areas, especially after an event. Consider the debts of many countries like US and the European countries.
Q4 How should we treat our elders/leaders/pastors?
  1. Give them the honor and respect v17 especially those in preaching and teaching.
  2. Pay them well v18.
  3. Do not charge them unless there are evidence of two or three witnesses v19. This show that our leaders are not without fault. However, any such accusations must be supported with evidences from true witnesses.
Q5 How do we have discipline in Church?
  1. There must be Right Teachings first so that people can know what are the right things to believe and follow (v7). The right expectation and the consequences for violations must be clearly taught.
  2. Fair Judgment. There should be no partiality. Everything should be done properly under the presence of God v21.
  3. For those unrepentant, there must be publicity to warn others as well v20. Some consequences of some sins are open for all to see and some are only found out later v24.
Q6 How should we live?
This is a question of reflection adn application. From what we have learned, can we check whether we and our church are following the teachings above? Following them will help you to have a healthy church.

Lim Liat copyrighted 13 Aug 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 4 End Times Deception and Godliness

Watch out for the deceptive doctrines of abstinence at end times and how to pursue godliness that is of greater value in every way.

Q1 What will be happening in Later Times? Give some details.

1Tim 4:1-3 tells us that in the later times, SOME will depart from the faith because they were deceived by demons.

Departing from the faith means also that they were once of the faith. But because they indulge themselves in myths (1:4, 4:7) and endless genealogies (1:4) and misuse of the laws (1:8-9) they were deceived by the demons.
In trying to be godly and holy, they went to the extremes of abstaining from things.

Paul pointed out two such erroneous teachings:
  1. forbidding marriage
  2. abstinence from foods
Paul also gave the reasons why such abstinence were wrong.
  1. 1Tim 4:4 Everything created by God is good and it to be received with thanksgiving.
  2. Everything can made holy by the word of God and prayer and with thanksgiving if we still have doubts about any of them. (1Tim 4:5).
Godliness does not come just by abstaining foods or marriage. Going a bit further, even sinlessness does not mean Godliness. A table or chair is sinless. A dead person that could do no sin is not godly. Godliness is a positive thing of value which we shall cover in the next question.

(Note: as pointed in Chapter 1, we tend to err on two extremes, legalism & abstinence covered here, and the other of Antinomianism- grace covers all our sins and we are therefore free to sin! This 2nd part is well covered in 1&2Peter and Jude)

Q2 What are 'these things' that Paul admonished Timothy to do?
In one word, it is 'Godliness' or more specifically, training in godliness.

Benefits of Godliness
  1. of value in every way - for now and for the life to come.
    Physical training benefits a little but godliness is much more. We spend time to train our body for health, what about spending time for our training in godliness?
  2. 1Tim 6:6 Godliness with contentment is great gains. See 1 Tim 6:6 Godliness.
The Practice:
  1. Not abstaining from things but pursuing godliness.
  2. Learn and practice the word of faith, the good doctrine thought 4:8
  3. Have nothing to do with irrevent and silly myths.
  4. Be the examples for believers to follow (4:12) in boldness (not despised), in speech, conduct, love, faith, purity.
  5. Public reading, teaching and exhortation of the Bible.v13
  6. Make good use of our God given gifts v14.
  7. Monitor and reflect on our progress - our behavior and the progress in the list of things listed above. v16
Q3 What are the things that are applicable to you? How will you put them into practice?

This is an application question (point 7 above).  Pick up one or two things that are of concern to you and work out an action plan. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you if it is not obvious. Holy Spirit 'talks' to us all the time even when we are not aware. He is in us.

Review this periodically to see if you have attained the plan and move on to others.

Lim Liat Copyrighted 3 Aug 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 3 Roles in A Church

Are you a good leader in the Church and how can you tell? If not, are you a good server in Church and how can you tell?If not, what is church anyway and who is this Jesus?
Q1  What are the main roles in a church? What are differences from Ephesians 4:11 five fold ministries?
There are two main leadership roles covered in this chapter. They are:
  1. Overseers/Bishops/Elders - Overseeing Leadership - Mission, Vision, Values, Strategies, Doctrines, Judges etc. Ensuring things are done according to God's will and methods.
  2. Deacons/Servers/Operations - Execution and Operational Leadership. Ensuring smooth operations and working of the church.
However, it does not mean that God only speak through the Overseers and the Deacons are mere followers. Everyone has the Holy Spirit and is guided by the Holy Spirit. God speak through everyone. Overseers have the facilitating roles and guardian roles. Their roles are made clearer in the following question about the qualities or requirements needed. Paul in Eph 4 pointed out clearly that all roles are to be submitting to one another and not one dominating over another. Jesus Christ teaches us about servant leadership and he who is first must be the servant of all. The leaders' interests must the growth and maturity of his members into the image of Christ and not for personal glory or gains as discussed in the next question.
Eph 4:11  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Here we have the five fold ministries, comparable to the present organizational functional roles of CEOs, Corporate Planning, Marketing/Business Development, Human Resources and Training Managers. These are the domain or area of expertise. Withing each domain, we can still have the broadly two levels of Overseer and Deacons.

Let me also add that the eternal rewards given to us is not about the 'ranking' of the roles we play but more importantly our faithfulness to the roles. The stewards with the ten talents and and the five talents are proportionally rewarded. Jobs are not divided into spiritual and secular. It is the way we do the jobs that differentiate it as spiritual or secular. See  Secular vs Spiritual Jobs.

Q2 What are the requirements for the roles? What and why for the differences?

Here is the table that show the requirements for the two leadership roles:

We can see that the demands on the Overseers are higher than those for the Deacons. The asterisks highlight the extra requirements for being Overseers. Overseers are to care for others. Deacons are to make sure they manage themselves and their households well. Here are the highlights:

  1. Internally, within the church, he must be someone above reproach. Externally, to outsiders, he must have good reputation (well thought of by outsiders).
  2. Self-controlled - being is a position where people are watching, the examples shown by the Overseers influence many. They must exercise extreme care not to show the wrong examples.
  3. Hospitable - Overseers are to welcome and care for many people, the new members and visitors.
  4. Able to Teach and to lead is implied. Deacons only need to be faithful.
  5. Not violent but gentle. Being in a high position, our flesh of pride may get the better of us and we may throw our weight around. Hence, Paul has this extra warning. Power has the ability to corrupts one character!
The Common Requirements for Leadership in Church
  1. One wife.... faithful to her.
  2. Sober-minded - Clear, fair, righteous, knowing God's will.
  3. Respectable & Dignified. Take care of how we behave.
  4. Faithfulness and Faithful to the Truth - a clear conscience. Living out the truth and not just talk about it.
  5. Not quarrelsome, and not double-tongued to incite divisions and quarrels.
  6. Not a lover of money and not greedy for dishonest gain. It is tempting and easy to make use of the highly regarded position of leadership in church for personal gains and glory. How often we find people being misused and abused by the leadership in church in the name of God and threatening with verses like "touch not God's anointed"?
  7. Not a recent convert even though he may be holding senior positions outside of church. He must be tested and proven faithful to the truth. The worst case is a smart person with a bad character.
  8. Managing the household well. Not getting into financial debts and other troubles on his household.
  9. A wife that is dignified, not slanderers (gossiping), sober-minded as her husband and faithful.
  10. Children that are dignified and obedient (vs rebellious).
Q3 What was the purpose of this letter? What is a Church?
Paul reiterated the purpose of his letter in v3:15 - 'how one ought to behave in the household of God.  More interesting is the definition of the Church. It is the household of God, a pillar and buttress of truth. The believers must live out the truth.

Q4 What is the Mystery of Godliness?
The Bible uses the word 'Mystery' not as something you don't understand but is actually the opposite. A mystery is a hidden truth in the past now make known.
The mystery of Godliness is now made known, revealed, in Jesus Christ the man in the flesh, vindicated by the Holy Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on the world and taken up in glory.
Simply, Jesus Christ is Son of God whom we bear witness. He who receives and believes in Him is saved. (Son represents Jesus God, coming as a man into this world)

Lim Liat copyrighted 2 Aug 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 2 Praying & Roles of Men & Women in Church

Q1 What is the most important thing for men do and why?
  1. Praying - First of All (1Tim 2:1)
  2. For Who? 
    1. All People, everyone.
    2. In particular, for Kings (i.e. Government) and those in high positions (e.g. our leaders and bosses).
  3. Why?
    1. We may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and with dignity;v2:2
    2. so that the Gospel may be preached and all be saved.v2:4
    3. It is pleasing to God v2:3
note: there is no need to differentiate supplications, prayers, intercessions because in the original Greeks, there is no 'and' and the original meaning is essentially presenting the needs of the people/kings to and in the presence of God and with thank givings that our requests are heard and answered by God.

Q2 What is the Gospel? Is Christ the only way?

The Gospel is God saving all human beings through one mediator, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom, appearing at the proper time.v2:4-6

There is only One God and One Mediator - Jesus Christ. There was no other mediator between God and men. John 14:6. New International Version (NIV). 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". 

Q3  What is the mission of Paul?
Paul was appointed a preacher, apostle, a teacher to the Gentiles(non-Jews) for the faith in Jesus Christ. v2:7

Q4  What is the main difficulty in the interpretation of the roles of man and woman in the New Testament?

In the Greek, the word for man can be used as the male-man and as husband. The word for woman can be used as the female and as wife. Hence, we must look at the context to see whether 'male or husband' and 'female or wife'. Here are the additional details:

1Ti 2:5  For there is one God,and one mediator between God and menG444, the man(G444) Christ Jesus

Thayer Definition:
Man G444 anthrōpos 1) a human being, whether male or female

1Ti 2:8  I will therefore that men(G435) pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Man G435 anēr
1) with reference to sex
    1a) of a male
    1b) of a husband
    1c) of a betrothed or future husband
2) with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy

Woman G1135 gunē
1) a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow
2) a wife 2a) of a betrothed woman

I personally think that in this context, husband and wive are the better terms to use.

Q5  What should men/husbands do?
Paul was addressing man's tendency to fight by v2:8 telling us that husbands should pray by:
  1. lifting holy hands
    • dedicate the hands for good use rather than fighting with one another
  2. without anger or quarreling
Q6 What should women/wives do?
In the same way, Paul was addressing ladies' tendency towards outward beauty and ignoring inward beauty.
  1. pray too (likewsie in v2:9)
  2. adorn themselves respectably that reflect their godliness and not going for costly attire and jewelries. (But don't go to the other extreme of not even taking care of good appearance). The warning is not to overdo it externally.
  3. attitudes should be modesty, self-control, holiness, faith, love and submissive to their own husbands (i.e. not to any other men. Other men has no say over others' wives). v9,15.
  4. Women tend to be impressed and hence easily deceived by outward appearance as exemplified by Eve who saw the fruit was desirous.
  5. v15 could have many interpretations. Jesus was born through woman (Mary) to save the world is one interpretation. For me, it tells me that a wife becoming a mother will have greater wisdom and not be easily deceived. Mother has a different view and priority of life than a unmarried and a wife. However, no matter what the role and age, faith, love, holiness and self-control remain the good virtues.
Lim Liat copyrighted 30 July 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 1 The Charge of Work for Timothy

Q1  What background information can you share about this letter?
But checking out some commentaries and from the content of this letter, we know that 1&2 Timothy and Titus are the two pastoral epistles where Paul teaches his proteges Tim and Titus about how to run a church. For a study on Titus see  Building Great Church and Business.

For an organization to continue, we must raise up leaders to take over our responsibilities as we grow old and move on. That was what Paul was doing - training successors to continue the good work started.

Q2 What is the purpose of the letter?
The purpose can be seen in 1Tim1:3 to take charge of the work at Ephesus as Paul move on to other places. 1Tim 3:14-15 tells us more about how one ought to behave in the household of God.

Q3 What is the charge or job of Timothy? What to do and what not to do?
The key is to preserve the true gospel of grace (1Tim 1:11-12).
  1. The Positive Method: Hold on to (1:5,19)
    1. love from a pure heart
      1. Pure: no other motives like greed for money, self interests. 
    2. good conscience: no guilty conscience or accusations.
    3. sincere faith: not mere mental assent but living stewardship of faith and truth (1:4).
  2. The Things to Stop 
    1. Speculations, Myths and Genealogies - things not taught or explicit revealed by the Bible.
    2. Abuse and Misuse of Laws
      1. The purpose of Laws (1:8) is to reveal sin and trigger the need for the salvation by grace of God.
      2. The Abuse and Mis-use of Laws
        1. Legalism - using Laws to restrain and bind the just (1:9). For a specific example see 1Tim 4:1-3 abstain of foods and marriages. Using Sabbath Laws to stop Jesus from healing sick people.
        2. Antinomianism: Using grace as a license to sin.
  3. Disciplining the Rebellious. 1Tim 1:20. 
    • We don't know what Paul mean by handling them over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. Some said it could be sickness. But I can at least say it is not death else there is no need for them to learn. May be it could just be the consequences of their actions, and the withdrawal of God's protection, that brought them to repentance. (refer to Book of Job where Satan stole, kill and destroy Job's family and properties). 
    • Our job is to warm them if we detect wrong doings and if they refused to listen, we should hand them over to God for the right punishment and to sever our relationship with them.
Q4 What is the testimony of Paul? How does it relate to the present?
Paul was telling us that if he, the biggest sinners(a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent) against God and His people, can be saved, then anyone, no matter how big the sins, can be saved by God. (1Tim 1:12-16).
There is no excuse for us not to be saved by the love of God. Our badness could not be the reason for us to reject His salvation. It is only our unbelief and our pride. This rejection of the saving work of the Holy Spirit is the blaspheme against Him that could not be forgiven!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bible Study 2Peter 3 Discussion

Continuing from  Bible Study 2 Peter 3 Living in End-Times , the discussion is: 

a. watch out fro scoffers who would laugh at our teaching
b. God's delay of judgment is due to His love to have more people saved.
c. There is surely a judgment by fire coming to punish and remove the evils.
d. In the mean time, we are to prepare well for His coming.

Peter's world view on the creation and ending did not have the millennium of Revelation. Paul did not see that either. The key message of Peter is not about the absolute certainty of God's judgment on the evil, the wiping out and the establishment of a New Heaven and New Earth where only righteousness dwells. This is an answer and a warning to the false teachers and scoffers who claimed there is no God or God is not interested. 

Most people argued that if there were to be a God then He must be asleep or blind or cruel to allow the evil at the present. Peter told us that God will definitely punish the evil (he did with flood in the last time of Noah and will do with fire in future) and is not slow in coming. It is just that God wants as many to be saved as possible, there seems to be a threshold that will trigger the 2nd coming. God timing could be long 1 day as thousand years or could be sudden 1000 years as one day.

Some asked why the wait. Isn't there more people being borne and going to hell than going to heaven. Perhaps, we can say that God only count those that are saved. Or may be if you take the view that children before age of accountability will go to heaven. 

Nevertheless, we just have to trust God and do our part in the mean time. 

We are in fact to hasten the coming of God. Christ 2nd coming could be  hastened by us in the work of bringing more souls into heaven. Jesus did shared that a sign of of His coming will be the gospels being preached to the rest of the world. 

Preparation for His Coming
The mind map below summarized how we should prepare:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bible Study 2Peter 2 Discussion

Our discussion is on Bible Study 2Peter 2 False Teachers.

The key points are:
  1. The False Teachers among us. We need to be alert, though not suspecting everyone around us, to the possible presence of such people among us.
  2. They can be recognized by their doctrine which can be summarized in a few words.

    To put it nicely and deceptively, it is called live according to your naturally self.

    But it is actually living like the animals - following your lusts. It may look like freedom but actually it is bondage to sins.

    The appetites are greed for more, living wildly, rebelliously, no sense of right or wrong, and with no respect to authority and even God.
  3. They will be judged and punished for their sins as God had demonstrated His judgments in the past.
  4. What we are born with does not make it right. God, the creator, defines what is right and wrong and will execute judgment.

    Hence, Christ has to die for our sins and to rebirth us with a new Godly live in us. With Christ in us we can then live freely in righteousness as we follow the desires of our new life in Christ. Without rebirth, following our sinful self freely will lead us to sins and bondage like the false teachers.
  5. If we are truly saved, we will not live in sins comfortably. Our cleansed conscience will stirred us to repent. The grace of God is for us to live a righteous life freed from sins.

    The grace of God is not a license for us to sin as Paul pointed out in Rom 6:12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

Only an unchanged pig after cleaning will go back to wallow in the mud. Wallowing the mud shows that its character has not been changed. A transformed pig, not longer a pig, will not go back to mud for he will see it as unclean. So, if you find yourself stuck in your old sins, you may need to question your understanding about the salvation by Christ.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bible Study 2Peter Chapter 1 Discussion

Who are we? What is our Future? Are we equipped? The Growth Model of Life. Our Calling - Journey to a Destination. You are in God's will, be the right one and live out the best. 
This is a discussion on  Bible Study 2Peter 1 Growth that Never FailsWe have the additional points shared and discussed in the meeting.

1. Apostle & Servant
Peter addressed himself as Apostle and Servant together. An apostle is the sent-one, the man with a mission assigned by Christ. The apostle is usually the leader, the groundbreaker, the church planter. Peter followed it with 'a servant' reminding us that a leader should lead not by it positional authority by force but by serving as shown by Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet. Servant Leadership is about leading by example with the interests of the people in his heart. It is about teaching and more importantly by living out the message. The famous Chinese Philosopher Lao Zi will call it "Teaching without Words" (Dao De Jing Chapter 2 是 以 圣 人 处 无 为 之 事  行 不 言 之 教.).

2. We all have the Same Level of Righteousness of Jesus Christ.
In the eyes of God, we as the same level of righteousness as the Apostles. The Righteousness is imparted and based on the Righteousness obtained by Jesus Christ who is in us. No one is more worthy than another.

3. We are called by Jesus to Glory - Partakers of Divine Nature.
We need two things to live out the promises of God.

They are
  1. Grace - God's empowerment, all things that pertain to life godliness v2-3.
  2. Peace - God's confidence and clear-mindedness. Only when we are at peace are we able to receive guidance, think clearly without any biases, and have the boldness to walk according to His guidance. Chinese uses the word "Righteous and Restful Heart - 正心"  without desire, fear, or anger. ( see The Great Learning)
They are gained by the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ v2,v8.

4. The 8 Steps Model of Growth from Faith to Love for All

It is not a linear but a spiral model of growth. We grow from within to without from lower to higher levels as we live out and experience the new life.

Growth into Maturity of Christ is best depicted in the mind-map below:

5.  Our Unique Calling

Our general calling is well covered above by Peter. We need to discover and follow our unique calling. We discussed calling as both a destination and a journey. For this journey, the way to discern God's will have the following 3 keys (Tim Keller)
  1. affinity (of the heart): passion, interests.
  2. ability (of the mindset and body skills): should not be what we claim but our friends are able to tell us that we are good at those things.
  3. opportunities (of external events): the doors are to be opened for us to enter.
6. Moving away from the "Perfect & Permissible Model of God's Will" to "Journey of Life Model".

We discussed that a past concept of God's Will may be causing more harm than good. That is the "Perfect & Permissible Model of God's Will". The concept teaches that there is a God's perfect will for you and that God will give in to you if you insist for His permissive will. Under His perfect will, he will be having a great time whereas, in his permissive will, you will be struggling.

We think is to always good to seek God's will in all matter of life. But we don't think that God's way is so narrow that there is a perfect will. We think God's will is a range of options (within His revealed Words) and anyone will be good. We have Rom 8:28 All things work for good to those that love God. 2 Thes 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We cannot judge whether we are in God's perfect will by our external circumstances of blessings like wealth and promotion. Else, Paul should be the most disobedient person in the world according to his suffering for Christ.

Logically, the perfect will model of God will easily be broken in a marriage relationship when two disobedient believers married the wrong persons.

We need to see that God is more interested in us following His will that we wanting to follow His will.

Seek and understand God's will in all matter of life and live out boldly within the revealed Words of God with what we see best since we have the mind of Christ in us. Don't worry about whether are you in the perfect will of God now but to live out the best in your current situation. Don't worry about whether have you marry the right one, be the right one now. Don't worry whether you are in the job that is God's perfect will, do the best you can in this current job, in the name and for the name of Christ.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 5 Elders & Members Discussion

Additional notes from our discussion on Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 5 Elders & Members.
  1.  The model roles for Elders as Leaders not only in Church but also in Corporations and Government. 
    1. Main Job: Shepherd the People which we expanded to include the following:
      1. lead - don't get lost
      2. feed - teaching truth
      3. protect them from attacks
      4. find the lost
      5. care for the sick
      6. disciplining
      7. provide the right environment
    2. The Execution of the Job is 
      1. Not as a burden, a compulsion, to get rid off.
      2. But as a meaningful mission as God would have us.
      3. Developing the People and not for Shameful Gains.
        Leadership and power enables one to use it for selfish gains, especially for money. We discussed that of the major sins like pride, lusts, laziness etc the one on Greed is most deceptive. Most people don't see themselves as having problem with it. 
      4. Not domineering but setting the examples. Teaching without words by living rightly in their presence that they may follow; as Paul said, be imitators of me as I am of Christ. 
    3. Expect a Reward - the Crown of Glory at Christ 2nd Coming.
  2.  The Model Staff
    1. Submit to the Leaders/Elders
    2. Be Humble - submitting to one another, learning from one another, trusting God for promotion rather than fight of it in ungodly way.
    3. Cast our cares and worries to Christ. That means we don't think about it any more. We continue to do our best and leave the result to God. We do something else, even taking a break, watch TV as we trust God to handle for us.
    4. Be alert and watchful for the work of evil - the temptations, the persecutions force us to take things into our own hands rather than standing firm in our faith. 
    5. We must resist the evils with faith and trust in God.
    6. Our mindset on Time - it is a little while only and God will vindicate you - He will restore to past status, confirm your status, strengthening and establishing you --- i.e. promotion comes quickly from the Lord after the testing.
    7. Living harmoniously with one another is the final call of Peter.
  3.  Setting and Maintaining the Standards
    1. We discussed whether members should also evaluate their leaders/elders according to the standards set in the Bible.
    2. We think a member should give feedback to the leaders, following the recommendations in the Bible, of correcting those in the wrong. We have the example of Paul correcting Peter in Gal 2:11-14 Galatians 2 Validation of Paul's Gospel.
    3. Even the Chinese Classics of the Bible of Filial Piety provides for children to correct their parents and the officers to correct their King. See Understanding the Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing).
    4. A healthy organization should have a system of enabling and collecting such corrective feedback and protecting such 'whistle blowers'.
    5. It is better that the organization corrects itself internally before the external and government organizations come in to take actions.
    6. Not standing against evil will result in the propagation of evil throughout as we have witnessed such happening in all the major area like business, arts, family, education, government etc. There is a call at present to take back the seven mountains of Arts & entertainment, Business, Church & Religions, Distribution Media, Education, Family and Government.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bible Study John 21 Deja Vu - Re-commissioning of Peter

Apostle John, after concluded his book on 20:31 by giving the purpose of his writing, felt led to add another chapter to close the loose-ends and to give a vision for the future. His extra chapter centered on Peter - the one who denied Jesus three times. He remembered the first calling of Peter by Jesus to be "Fisher of Man" Luke 5:1-10. It resemblance this 3rd appearing of Jesus after His resurrection (21:14) and recorded this incidence for us. Many commentators also think that this chapter provides the answers to how a church is meant to be.

Q1 Describe the events leading to breakfast with Jesus.
  1. Location: the sea of Tiberias or sea of Galilee. They went back to where Jesus started his ministry 3 years ago as instructed (Mat 28:7).
  2. The People: 7 of them. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, John, James and 2 unnamed disciples (those On Road of Emmaus Luke 24:13-32?).
  3. They were waiting for direction from Jesus. It was natural that they want back to their old vocation - fishing.
  4. Peter took the lead and suggested going fishing. All followed him. They caught nothing that night. 21:3
  5. Time: early morning. as the day was breaking 21:4.
  6. Jesus appeared and called them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They did not recognize Him yet.
  7. They caught a lot of fish (153 big ones v11) and yet the net did not break.
  8. It triggered John to recognize Jesus and told Peter.
  9. Peter put on his outer garment, only to get wet later by diving into the sea and swam ashore to meet Jesus.
  10. They found Jesus already prepared some breakfast for them. Where did Jesus get the charcoal, fish, and bread? Did Jesus create them as per the feeding of 5000 and 4000?
  11. Jesus asked them to bring in the freshly caught fish. Jesus already had fish prepared and yet wanted us to participate in His work and enjoy the fruit together.
Q2 Compare this incidence with that of Luke 5:1-10?
  1. Roughly the same people - Peter, John, James ...
  2. Fished all night and nothing caught.
  3. At Jesus instruction, they got a big catch.
  4. Reluctance following in Luke by Peter and just obeyed in John.
  5. Going to the deep in Luke and just near the shore (100yrds) in John. (The harvest is closer and ready!).
  6. Breaking nets (because of old nets) and strong usable net.
  7. Morale: follow Jesus and give Him our best. (new usable net vs old torn nets. Quality not number is more important).
Q3  How did Jesus re-commission Peter? What was the mission for Peter? What can we learn?

  1. When they had finished breakfast. Choose a right time when full attention can be given.
  2. Peter denied Christ 3 times. Jesus gave the opportunities for Peter to confess his love for Christ 3 times. 
  3. Jesus started with "agape-love" twice and then go down to "phileo-love" with Peter responding all times with "phileo-love".  Agape-love is total love by will without conditions. Phileo love is affectionate love between brothers. Peter loved Jesus because of relationship - my master, my brother, my friend. God loves us without condition. Even when we were yet sinners, the enemy of God and rebellious toward God, Christ loves us to die for us. Christ's death for us makes the way for us become His brothers and sisters, not before His death. We are to love people as Christ has agape-love us. Peter may not have fully grasped the meaning of Christ's commission then. Peter is to agape-love directly His sheep not indirectly because of the phileo-love Christ. But Peter eventually got it because he was martyred later.
  4. Peter's Mission is - feed, shepherd and feed His sheep. Essentially, Christ commissioned Peter to start a church - congregation of people and to lead and care for them. This leading and caring would cause Peter one day to give up his life. Peter was to fully commit his life in carrying out the mission.
  5. Peter was not fully focused on his mission. He was curious about John's mission. So he asked Jesus what about John's.
  6. Jesus essentially told Peter to mind his own business. God's call for us is unique. We don't have to copy or to compare with others. MYOB & JFOJ Mind Your Own Business and Just Focus on Jesus.
Q4 What are the lessons learned in this chapter?
  1. Must have a vision or mission. 
    1. Proverbs 29:18 Where there is NO VISION, the people perish.
    2. We become what we focus on. Prov 23:7.
    3. We must, therefore, find out about our unique calling and live it up.
  2. Focus on Our Calling.
    1. MYOB & JFOJ Mind Your Own Business and Just Focus on Jesus.
    2. There is no need and no point to compare or to copy others' callings. We are God's masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good work.
  3. Give and Use Our Very Best to Fulfill Our Calling.
  4. Leadership is about visioning and agape-love for people. There needs to be love and there need also to be purpose and development for the people. Love without vision leads to death --- see point 1 again!
This is the end of our study on the Gospel of John. I will review it now and then and make changes to them. I prayed that by studying the Bible, you get to know Jesus deeper and live an abundant and God-glorifying life, influencing others to have Christ's kind of life as you.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Bible Study John 20 The Resurrection of Jesus

    The most important event of the whole history of mankind is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus would be meaningless if there was no resurrection. He would be just like any other great man of the past and we would still remain in our sins. 1Co 15:17  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

    But Jesus has been raised from the dead! In Adam, we all die but in Jesus Christ we shall all be made alive (1 Cor 15:20-22).

    Now we shall examine the evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus just from this record of John, our first hand witness.  There are many good books written about the resurrection of Jesus such as "Who Moved the Stone".

    Q1 Make a list of the sequence of events about the resurrection of Jesus.
    1. On Sunday early morning, Mary Magdalene (Mar 16:1 added Mary (Mother of James) and Salome) came to the tomb. v1.
    2. She saw the stone was moved away. v1.
    3. She ran to tell Peter and John that they had taken the body of Jesus. v2.
    4. Peter and John ran to the tomb to check. v3.
    5. John reached the tomb first and peeked into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there. v4-5.
    6. Peter came and they went into the tomb. Besides the linen cloths, they saw the face cloth folded up and place by itself. v7.
    7. They believed, first ever, that Jesus had risen from dead according to the scripture. v8-9. They actually never did believe what Jesus told them earlier that Jesus will rise from dead! It is common for people to see what they want to see. But the disciples had saw something that they were not expecting.
    8. They went back to their home v10. But Mary stood outside the tomb v11 and had a special and great encounter with Jesus.
    Q2 What is the significance of John mentioning the Linen and Face cloths?
    If the body of Jesus have been taken away as Mary's belief and claim, then it would be strange to leave the linen cloths behind. Even more strange is to expect the clothes to be neatly folded and placed there. One would have taken the body with the linen clothes together. If there is any loose ends, they would be left there in a mess. The circumstantial evidence fit the resurrection model better than body-stolen model.

    Q3 Describe the encounter between Mary and Jesus. What significances do you find in what Jesus said.
    1. Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. There must have been something in the tomb that attracted her attention (light coming out from within the tomb?). She stooped in and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and another at the feet where Jesus' body was laid. v11-12
    2. The angels even spoke and asked Mary about her weeping. v13
    3. While answering them, Mary felt someone enter the tomb and turned told him that she did not know what they took Jesus. Mary still could not believe that Jesus has risen and stick to 'stolen-body' story. v14.
    4. Jesus had to draw Mary's attention by calling out her name. It might have been a unique way that Jesus called her name because she immediately recognized that it was Jesus v16.
    5. She instinctively moved to want to touch Jesus. But Jesus stopped her.
    6. Jesus said 3 important things:
      1. He has yet to ascend to the Father (may be to receive the Holy Spirit and other things...)
      2. Go to tell 'my brothers' i.e. the disciples are now His brothers.
      3. My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God. Jesus and His believers are now one in the family of God with God as the Father!
    7. Mary did as instructed and told the disciples what Jesus had said v18.
    8. Mary is the 1st person that had seen the resurrected Christ.
    Q4 Describe the events of Jesus first appearance to His disciples.
    1. Time : Sunday evening (the same of the resurrection) v19
    2. Location: in a house with locked doors for fear of the Jews v19
    3. Who: The disciples (11 or more? Women too?) except Thomas.
    4. Jesus: 
      1. appeared in their midst (closed doors could not keep the resurrected Jesus out)
      2. He said "Peace be with you". Peace is to overcome their fear in v19.
      3. He showed them His hands(nailed to the cross) and His side (pierced) to show that He was the crucified one and not someone else. v20.
      4. His commission "As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you" v21
      5. The giving of the Holy Spirit for them to do the mission v22.
      6. The authority of the forgiveness or withholding of sins v23. This is a very powerful thing. The forgiveness of sin result in the healing of paralytic in Luke 5:24. Peter in Act 3:6 raised up lame man and preached the gospel. By proclaiming forgiveness in Jesus Christ, the believers can remove the curses of sins.
    Q5 What can we learn from the 'Doubting Thomas'?
    1. Thomas would not believe any hear-says. 
    2. He want to make sure the resurrected one is the same Jesus that was on the cross. He wanted to check the wounds. v25
    3. We can learned from Thomas the right way to think and examine the evidences. Don't just believe any prophecies but check them.
    Q6 How was Thomas convinced? What can we learned?
    1. 8 days later, this time Thomas was with the others.
    2. Their doors are still locked.
    3. Jesus appeared among them and addressed Thomas directly and asked Thomas to verify the evidences. 
    4. I do not think Jesus repute Thomas for his doubts. Jesus was just proclaiming blessings for us, who could not witness first hands, but who believe in the disciple testimonies. We should thanked Thomas because he made the evidence stronger. Doubts per se do not weaken faith but are precursor of faith. Doubts answered strength our faith.
    5. If there by any doubts, ask Jesus, and be fully satisfied and you could move forward with full faith. 
    6. See a related post "Doubts? It is good to have doubts".
    Q7 What is the purpose of John's writing this book?
    John told us that there were many more evidences and signs not written to prove the resurrection and identify of Jesus. But he considered he had written enough for us to believe that 'Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.' v 31.

    You may think that this is the end of the book. But John wrote another chapter to close the outstanding issues and disclosed to us about the future of the church.

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    Bible Study John 19:17-42 The Death of Jesus & Your Verdict

    Q1 What can you tell about the Crucifixion of Jesus from John 19?
    1. Jesus carried His cross as first v17. The other gospels recorded that Jesus, being too weak after the great torture, fell and the Romans just picked one from the crowd, Simon of Cyrene,  to carry for Jesus (Mat 27:32).
    2. The location is Golgotha, meaning a Skull v17-18.
    3. Two others, between Jesus, were crucified with Jesus v19. Luke 23:39-43 told us more about these two men and their conversation with Jesus.
    4. There was an inscription placed by Pilate, in Aramaic, Latin and Greek (the common languages then so that who ever was there could understand), "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" v21.
    5. Jesus' outer garments were divided into four parts and given to the soldiers v23. The inner cloth, the tunic, seamless (good quality and likely expensive) was given by drawing of lot to a soldier v24.
    6. John mentioned it was to fulfill the scripture Ps 22:18. (Ps 22 had an accurate description of the death of Jesus which we shall see).
    7. John was the only disciple to be with Jesus most of the time. The others had gone hiding. 
    8. At the cross, Jesus' mother, the mother's sister, and Mary Magdalene were there as well. v25.
    9. Jesus asked his disciple John to take care of His Mother Mary. John did that from then on. v24-27.
    10. Jesus said "I thirst" and sour wine on a hyssop branch was given to Jesus. See Ps 51:7.
    11. After Jesus tasted the sour wine (vinegar), he said "It is finished" and gave up His spirit v30.
    12. Since the next day was Sabbath with the Passover, they did not want the dead bodies to defy their holy day. So they wanted all three of them to be dead and buried before end of day. The usual practice to hasten the death is to break the leg bones so that there would be not support for the upper body and cause dead by inability to breath. They broke the legs of the other two. But when they came to Jesus, they found him already dead. So no bone was broken v33. But a smart Alex soldier pieced Jesus to make sure he was doubly dead. Blood and water comes out to show that Jesus was indeed a man and there were no acting as some others claimed later. v34
    13. John specifically mentioned these two unusual events as fulfilling the scripture written in that the: Exo 12:46 Num 9:12 as the passover lamb;  Psa 22:14 pour out as water, Psa 34:20 no bones broken.Zech 12:10 The Coming King. John wanted us to believe in his testimony about Jesus - The Son of God, the Messiah v35.
    Q2 What is the significance of the inscription "Jesus, King of the Jews"?
    1. For Pilate, may be he wanted to show his last respect for Jesus as he at least understood Jesus was someone special with a Kingdom. It was also a warning to the Jews who wanted to rebel against the Romans. 
    2. For the religious leaders, they were not so happy. They did not recognize Jesus as their King at all. They wanted Pilate to change it to "He said he is the King of Jews" v21.
    3. For the common people, it is to tell them that Jesus was the Messiah, the son of King David who would become King forever. Those who studied the Old Testament, the Jews and the Gentiles, this inscription offer yet another evidence that Jesus was the Messiah.
    Q3 How was Jesus buried?
    1. Two secret disciple of Jesus showed up. 
    2. Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus and was granted v38. 
    3. Nicodemus (of John 3, the Night Visitor) came to help to embalm the body with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes v39.
    4. They bound Jesus with line cloths with the spices v40
    5. They put Jesus in a new tomb v41.
    Q4 What is your verdict about Jesus? Who is He?

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Bible Study John 19:1-16 Pilate Outsmarted

    In the last chapter, Pilate tried to save Jesus by offering an exchange - Robber vs Jesus. It did not work. Pilate tried again.

    Q1 What was Pilate's 2nd attempt to free Jesus? Did it work? Why not?
    Pilate got Jesus flogged John 19:1 thinking that his suffering will gain the sympathy and claim the anger of the Religious Leaders. In  Chinese 36-Strategies, that will be strategic#34 Suffer in the Flesh to Gain Trust and Acceptance. Pilate even re-iterate that he found guilt in Jesus. v4.

    It did not work. They wanted Jesus to be crucified. Pilate still could not understand the issue about Jesus. They wanted Jesus death. They did not want Jesus to be their King. Their reason for wanting Jesus' death was because Jesus claimed he was Son of God which could not be possible as Jesus was truly a man; a man that had the support of the common people and a mirror that reflected their wrong doings. If they let Jesus live, they were likely to loose their influence and authorities over their people. Jesus as a big threat to their survival. They also misunderstood Jesus thinking that He wanted to established His political kingdom here and could incur the wrath of the Romans to got them destroyed. (The Romans actually did destroyed Jerusalem later in AD 70).

    Q2 What did Pilate think of Jesus ?
    Pilate was shocked, more afraid, when he heard the charge was about Jesus calling himself Son of God. He must have felt some kind of power, dignity, or authority when he encountered Jesus, even in chains. He knew Jesus, even if he was not God, he must be at least a good and a man of authority of some sort. It was better not to touch Jesus just in case He was God. v12 told us that Pilate sought to release Jesus.

    Q3 What was Pilate 3rd attempt to free Jesus?  Did it work? What did it tell us about Pilate?

    He brought Jesus out and asked the people should he crucify their King. I don't understand the logic of this. Pilate is projecting his own thought on the Religious People. He found Jesus to be man of authority and goodness and if it were up to him, he would let Jesus go free. Pilate should read up any book on communication. He must first understand others to be understood. (Stephen Covey Habit#5). He did not address the real issue of the Religious Leaders. Most likely he could not even if he knew.

    Pilate actually has the authority to crucify or free Jesus. Otherwise the Religious leaders would not have bothered to come to him. The Religious Leaders might be able to punish Jesus in different ways, like ex-communications, but not by death. Pilate did not have the guts to do it. He was trying to gain support of them as well.

    But now he got himself into a corner - the Religious Leaders said they had no king by Caesar v15 and v12 anyone who made himself king opposes Caesar.

    We can also see the evilness of the people at work. To achieve their objective of crucifying Jesus, they can said and anything even against their inner belief.

    Q4 Is Pilate guilty of crucifying Jesus?
    The answer is yes but is of second degree. Jesus said in 19:11 "Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."  It was a sin nonetheless. He had the power to say no and yet he gave the consent to crucify Jesus. He may did the wonderful thing of watching his hands off this crucification as recorded in Mat 27:24 but he was guilty in the eyes of God. He could of course be forgiven if he finally believed in Jesus as the Son of God. But we don't know whether he finally did believe. He did get bold enough to reject the Religious Leaders request to change the inscription.

    Q5 What can we learned from this passage?
    1. Seek first to understand the motivation and thoughts of the people and then you can communicate your proposal and get it understood.
    2. If you don't know what to do, ask God for wisdom.
    3. Be bold to take up and exercise your authority when it is called for. Don't be a people pleaser and fail to do the right thing.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Bible Study John Chapter 18:28-40 Conversation Between Pilate & Jesus

    Q1 What was the intention of the Religious Leaders about Jesus? How can you tell?
    Their intention was to killed Jesus.
    1. The reason they brought Jesus to Pilate was for him to sentence Jesus to death. They had no power to sentence Him as revealed in 18:31.
    2. They told Pilate they had their reasons else would not have brought Him in 18:30. It showed their arrogance and lack of respect even for Pilate. They were essentially wanting Pilate to rubber stamp their decision. By implication from Pilate's conversation with Jesus recorded in 18:33, the accusation must be about being "King of the Jews". It was probably a distortion created by Pilate himself since he see it as a matter of the Jews. The accusation that the Religious Leaders had on Jesus was His claim as Son of God, the King of all, the Creator. Pilate reduced it to King of Jews.
    3. They asked for Barabbas, a robber to be freed instead of Jesus. Barabbas was probably the first man freed by the substitution of Jesus. It was not his choice but the religious leaders. Nevertheless, he benefited from it because of Jesus.
    Q2  How did Jesus witness to Pilate?
    1. Get a personal commitment. from v34 of your own or hear say to v37 so you are a king.
    2. Tell the Truth:
      1. v36 My Kingdom is not of this world.
      2. v36 They would fight for me. 
      3. v37 I came to bear witness to the truth.
      4. v38 Everyone who is of the truth listens to me.
    3. Give an Opportunity for Commitment.
      1. Pilate said "What is the truth?" - He was forced to consider the proposal of Jesus.
      2. He found Jesus not guilty (of trying to build a kingdom on earth to over-throw the Romans). His purpose was not political.
    Q3 What great idea did Pilate came out to save Jesus? Did it work? What did that say about Pilate? What can we learn?
    1. Great Idea - Substitute for Jesus.  He offered a bad guy, a robber, Barabbas in exchange for Jesus. 
    2. It did not work. The Religious Leaders just wanted Jesus' death. They wanted to legalize it with Pilate's consent.
    3. It show that Pilate did not fully understand the issues at hand. He thought it was a small matter that can be settled easily. In the next study, we shall discovered more about Pilate's character.
    4. The lesson for us is that for any issue, please dig deeper to find the intentions of people and then you can come out with good solutions. Failure to understand the true intentions will result in proposals that fail.
    Lesson Learned:
    1. The persistence of evil.
    2. The witnessing of Jesus - Personal and Truth.
    3. The Need for Understanding of Intention to Solve or Mediate Issues.

      Wednesday, April 13, 2011

      Bible Study John Chapter 18:13-27 Trial at High Priets & Peter Denials

      There are two major events recorded here.
      1. The Trails by High Priests - Annas, Father-in-law of High Priest Caiaphas.
      2. Peter's Three Times Denials of Knowing Jesus.
      They arrested Jesus, or more accurately, Jesus gave himself to them, and they brought Jesus to Annas and then to Caiaphas(v24). We had the hearing with Annas but not with Caiaphas recorded in this chapter 18.

      Q1 Described the hearing with Annas. What was the conclusion? Did they find any thing wrong with Jesus' teaching?
      1. The ex-High Priest Annas questioned Jesus about his teaching and his disciples.
      2. Jesus challenged them to ask the people who heard him at public. 
      3. One officer struck Jesus for his rudeness.
      4. Jesus challenged them to point out what wrong he did say.
      5. They have no answers. They could not find a valid reason to charge Jesus.
      6. So they bound and send Jesus to Caiaphas. 
      7. Mat 26:57-68, Mar 14:53-65, Luk 22:54-65 recorded for us what happened at the hearing with Caiaphas. They found none and finally nailed Jesus for admitting the truth that He is the Son of God (Mark 14:62). It is the very sin of Adam wanting himself  to be the judge of right and wrong without the full knowledge and understanding.  (note: the most convenient way to study gospels is to read the Harmony Gospels. You can get it by downloading e-Sword
      8. Caiaphas also believed in sacrificing one Jesus for the whole nation. John 18:15.

      Q2 Describe the three denials of Peter. Can you explain what happened to the courageous Peter that cut off Malchus' ear?
      1. At the door of Annas' house when asked by the servant girl.
      2. Warming himself with the servants and officers when asked by one of them.
      3. Asked by a relative of Malchus.
      Our courage changes with the situations. In the past, Peter was with Jesus and His disciples. Now, Jesus was captured and Peter was all alone (may be with John that came in and out and recorded for us what happened inside the trial and the denials of Peter in the outside courtyard). It also show that Peter was not mature then. A mature person should maintain his stand and commitment irrespective of the circumstances. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, we shall find a very different Peter in the Book of Acts. We are, just like Peter, basically cowards without the Holy Spirit within us.

      Even David, in Ps 27, started with confidence, but went through some doubts, and eventually encouraged himself to hang on by waiting on the Lord.

      Sunday, April 3, 2011

      Bible Study John Chapter 18:1-12 Arrest of Jesus

      It is good that the corresponding verses in other books of the gospels be read too to get a more complete picture of the event. The references are Matthew 26:14-16, 36-56; Mark 14:10-11, 32-50; Luke 22:39-53.

      The sequence of events recorded by John, the first hand witness, contained more details than the others, and is shown as the mind map below:

      Q1  There are 3 persons and 2 groups of people, can you identify them?
      1. Jesus
      2. Disciples
      3. Judas
      4. Soldiers
      5. Peter
      Q2 Who and what did each person or group do? Can you imaging what were they thinking?

      P1 Jesus
      Jesus, Son of God, knew His mission well and having decided to take up the bitter cup, was bold and loving. His bold approached the soldiers and told them that it was He that they wanted and to let the others go. His boldness, some said his anointed power, fell the soldiers. A demonstration of His power and authority that He withhold. He rebuked Peter's violent action and healed the injured Malchus whose ear was cut off by Peter. His mission to die for men is not be stopped by His personal suffering. Love and righteousness may sometimes cause us to suffer. Will we be willing to suffer for love and righteousness?

      P2 Disciples 
      Despite many the warnings given by Jesus, as revealed by the related passages, they did not seems to know the urgency of the time. They slept when Jesus asked them to keep watch. At this end times approaches, as evidence by the frequency and serious of earthquakes, wars within and between nations and sectors of people, increased of knowledge, global traveling to and fro, will we be sleeping as well?

      P3 Judas
      The betrayal of Judas did not just happen. It occurred long before as recorded in John 12:6 that he was a thief. Now that he discovered that Jesus was not going to set up any kingdom but to die, he decided he better take care of himself and cash out by betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver before it was too late. Evil people are smarter at exploiting the situation than the people of light (Parable of the Unjust Stewards). This need not be so.

      P4 Soldiers
      They were just acting under instructions of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees. They never knew their job could be so shockingly easy. They met no resistance. They needed not search or given chase. They were wondering who this Jesus was. Why were they not impressed by the miracle healing of Malchus's ear? May be some of them later found Jesus as He said He was.

      P5 Peter
      He slept instead of praying. He was still acting on impulse of the flesh. This time even cutting off the High Priest's servant ear. He was going to stop Jesus for going to the cross again. It was natural for Peter to protect his master. His boldness changed to denial of Jesus 3 times later.

      Saturday, March 19, 2011

      Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 4 Discussion

      The following additional points were raised:
      • End-time living should not be different from normal living of a good believers except for greater urgency and increased opposition.
      • Be ready for Christ to come any time, yet be ready to wait for a long time, and being faithful and optimize the opportunity in the mean time.
      • Be sober = know the will of God. see Eph 5:16-17 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
      • Have self-control, being busy in the carrying out the will of God so that there is no time for sins
      • Be prepare to suffer and persecuted by the world, but be not suffering our own wrong doing.
        • There is a particular and peculiar kind of persecutions suffered by believers - doing the wrong things for the right reasons. e.g. spending too much time on church activities and neglect office work and hence resulting in scolding by boss for poor performance and despised by colleagues. Believers should know how to lead a balanced life, not in moderation, but in optimal performance for family, career, ministry and community.
      • Optimize, develop, and use our God given gifts and particular grace to serve one another and to accomplish the the will of God.
      • Loving one another, covering the hurts, strife and damages caused by sins. Don't let the devils create problems in our midst by our love for one another. Be hospital to others,
      • When under persecution, don't take things into your own hands. Trust God to execute justice for you.
      • God will judge his people first and then the world.