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Exploring The Bible

2. New Testament

Book of 3 John (AD90-95)

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • 3 John 3-4

 

John writes a personal letter to Gaius commending his faithful response to Jesus as shown by his treatment of other believers. In doing so, Gaius exhibits faithfulness, generosity and love.

 

John condemns Diotrephes for being faithless, arrogant and contrary, whilst commending Demetrius. Finally, John writes to inform Gaius that he hopes to travel and meet him.

 

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 84 - John 19:23-24
The Witness of Four Prophecies

John’s account of the crucifixion is thin in the extreme. He says very little about what actually happened and what he does say is mainly centred round prophecies from the Old Testament. There are four of them, giving witness to what happened and the truthfulness of the account. We have:
1. John 19:23 - 24 where we read: “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’ This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, ‘They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.’”
This is a quotation from Psalm 22: 18. Many people have seen this as a reference to the unity of the church as Jesus wished it to be. Sadly there are now many pieces of that original garment floating around the world.


2. John 19:28 - 30 where we read, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Jesus became very thirsty - very natural given his circumstances. Two references from the Psalms, 22: 15 and 69: 21 are here fulfilled. They are, “My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” and “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”. Jesus told the woman at the well “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” But he did thirst - that we might never thirst, spiritually speaking of course, not practically.

3. John 19:31–33 - Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have their legs broken and the bodies taken down. In John 19: 31 – 33 we read, “The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.” It sounds incredibly cruel but breaking the legs of those being crucified speeded death as they were then no longer able to push themselves up to get some air into their lungs. They would suffocate relatively quickly - what a horrid thought. Because Jesus was already dead, having given up his spirit, as he was able to do because of who he was, they did not break his legs. Thus Psalm 34: 19, 20, “The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” It also places Jesus alongside the Passover lambs of whom it is said Exodus 12: 46, “Do not break any of the bones.”.


4. In John 19:34 we read that “one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. It was not usual for a soldier to stick his spear into a crucified man as one did here. The result, the flow of water and blood, or possibly body fluids and blood, has caused much argument as to its meaning. Perhaps the most likely is that it referred back as does 1 John 5: 7, “there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood”. This is one of John’s many references to both water and blood as signifiers of the spiritual life that would flow from Jesus. They reflect many Old Testament places where the same equation is made.
 
We have here an astonishing web of references to prophecies. Let us never forget that their whole purpose is to witness to what happened on that hill outside Jerusalem. John makes his purpose crystal clear. He says, 19:35-36. “ The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows, or quite possibly someone else writing all this down for him knows, that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled:”
Hold tight to the reality of our Saviour’s cruel death – for you, for me.
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Partakers Friday Prayers!

20th January 2017

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

 Today we pray this prayer to encourage ourselves and others!


Tell, tongue, the mystery
of the glorious Body
and of the precious Blood,
which, for the price of the world,
the fruit of a noble Womb,
the King of the Nations flowed forth.

Given to us, born for us,
from the untouched Virgin,
and dwelt in the world
after the seed of the Word had been scattered.
His inhabiting ended the delays with wonderful order.

On the night of the Last Supper,
reclining with His brethren,
once the Law had been fully observed
with the prescribed foods,
as food to the crowd of Twelve
He gives Himself with His hands.

The Word as Flesh makes true bread
into flesh by a word
and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ.
And if sense is deficient
to strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone suffices.

Therefore, the great Sacrament
we reverence, prostrate:
and the old Covenant
cedes to a new rite.
Faith stands forth as substitute
for defect of the senses.

To Begetter and Begotten
be praise and jubilation,
health, honour, strength also
and blessing.

To the One who proceeds from Both
be praise as well.
Amen,

Alleluia.
;

 

A prayer of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)

 

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Thursday Story

People meeting Jesus

 The story of Milly from Mississippi, USA...

We continue apace into the twentieth century and hear the story of a friend of mine. Her name is Milly and she is from Mississippi in the USA! Come on in, and listen to her story about her own Christian journey and the relevancy of Jesus Christ to her life.

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Materialism

1 John 2:15-17, the Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. "

I wonder what you think is quite possibly one of the greatest challenges to the Christian Disciple standing alone and being faithful to God in the twenty first century?  I want to propose to you that this threat is the temptation of materialism, or to be materialistic.  This is where following Jesus' command to follow Him, take up the cross for ourselves becomes practical.  This is where loving God and loving others becomes difficult.  Materialism grips both the Church community and also Christian Disciples if it is allowed.  Eschewing and casting off materialism will see Christian Disciples who are radical by the very society, which we are trying to win for Jesus.

What is materialism?

Every person has in differing quantities: possessions and money.  These things, in and of themselves, are not evil.  It is however our reaction and attitudes toward them that causes us to be seduced in this area.  Materialism is a reliance on possessions, money people or even the church, as our ultimate objects of trust, instead of God.  The Apostle John writing in 1 John 2v16 gives a very accurate picture of materialism: "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life." That, brother and sisters, is materialism!

A Particular Sin

If there were to be a particular sin that marks our generation, especially in the West, then it would be this sin of materialism and the worship of money, objects and people. Every day hundreds of thousands of people die from lack of food, water, clothing and shelter.  For each of us in the West, these things are taken for granted.  When we feel like a change of house or location, we just move. 

The whole Christian community is one that reflects the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit.  The Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members.  Where one member of the Christian community suffers and hurts, the whole Christian community suffers and hurts! This applies not only to the local church in a local community context, but also to the universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well. 

Too often as Christians we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the bare necessities of life are in sparse existence.  Too often we gather possessions and people, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needy of both our local and global communities.  When one member of the universal body of Christ is hurting, the whole body hurts!

So what?

As Christian Disciples living in the world of the twenty first century, where wealth is seen as a sign of success, the cult of celebrity is rife and where family, morals, ethics, community and God have taken a back seat, how should a Christian Disciple respond to materialism? 

A lot of Churches measure their success solely by the number of members in the congregations or by how much money goes into the offering pot each week.  However, not just good things grow.  Islam measures its success on the so-called growth in those who would consider themselves a Muslim.  It is probably the fastest growing religion in Australia.  However, every gardener will tell you that even weeds grow! So counting numbers is not the best way to measure success.

The measure of a successful Christian Disciple can be seen in thee verses from 1 John 2:15-17. The Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. "

Also in Matthew 22v37-40: where Jesus is saying: "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

Action Stations!

By doing these two things, we show we trust in God and not in anything or anybody else.  By exhibiting these commands, we cast off materialism and any thought of materialism from our lives. By doing those two things, both as a Church and as individual Christian Disciples, society will see we are neither dangerous nor deluded. 

To Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and their aficionados who think all religion is pure evil, based on delusion and that religion has never done a good thing in history to benefit humanity, it will help show the folly and irrationality of their thinking. If Church communities and Christian Disciples make radical steps such as eschewing materialism, both in being and making Disciples, I think the Church and Christian Disciples would no longer be seen as evil, deluded and irrelevant.  Rather they would be seen as a thriving community of people, resulting in Jesus being glorified and holy transformation sought.  After all, Jesus is to be the master of those who would call themselves a Christian Disciple and the Head of the Church.

As Christian Disciples, and the church as a whole, you and I are to eschew materialism, cast it off and live a life worthy of our God, living in total obedience to Him and reflected in the love we display for both our local and global communities.

For more to think about, please do read for yourself Matthew 22:37-40.  Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1 - As a Christian Disciple, in what ways am I being seduced by materialism and the gathering of possessions, people and power?

Q2 - What things can I do, not do or give up in order to aid the weakest members of my community - local, national and global?

Q3 - How can I better use my "passion, prayer and intelligence" this week for the glory and honour of God? 

 

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Psalm 91

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Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of Yahweh, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust."
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge. His faithfulness is your shield and rampart.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day;
6 nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked.

9 Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
11 For he will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands, so that you won't dash your foot against a stone.
 

13 You will tread on the lion and cobra. You will trample the young lion and the serpent underfoot.
14 "Because he has set his love on me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honor him.
16 I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation."

 

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