Saturday, October 15, 2011

Luke 4:31-44: Miracles

We're between units in our study guide this week.  The class decided to cover the entire gospel, not just the chapters chosen by the lesson writer in the study guide.


Last week we discussed Jesus teaching in His home synagogue.  We learned Jesus' message was rejected by His own hometown folks.  People couldn't believe the boy they had watched grow into a man was the Son of God, the Messiah.

This week we see His first miracles.


A little background on people's beliefs about unclean spirits in Jesus' day...

  1. Ancient people thought world was thickly populated with unclean spirits
  2. Unclean spirits sought entry into people through food and drink
  3. Egyptians thought there were 36 parts of the body where spirits could enter
  4. Unclean spirits were thought to be the cause of any disease or condition which couldn't otherwise be explained.
Question: Most people now consider the belief in unclean spirits to be primitive yet Jesus seemed to believe in them.  How can this be? 


Here in two short verses we have another example of Jesus' healing power.  Barclay points out there are three great truths which can be found in this short passage.

  1. Jesus was always ready to serve.  Likewise we too are called to always be ready to serve those in need.  Are we or are we too busy with our own lives and issues to even see the need around us? 
  2. Jesus didn't need crowds to perform miracles.  He was at His best wherever and whenever.  Are we on our best behavior when we're out in public or are entertaining guests?  What about when we're alone with family?  Is there a difference?
  3. After being cured Simon's mother-in-law immediately got up and began to serve them. Do we use our priceless gift of health to serve others who are less fortunate?

In this last passage in chapter 4 we encounter Jesus beginning to explain the Kingdom of God.  However, before we get there we are reminded about a few other items.

  1. Jesus always sought time to be alone and pray to His Father.  He used this time to rekindle His spirit and rejuvenate Himself for the task ahead.  We too must take time to speak with God, to worship Him, to allow Him to rekindle the spirit in us.
  2. Another example of Jesus always being ready to serve.  Crowds sought Him out.  He did not push them away.  He met their needs.
  3. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirits when they recogized Him as the Son of God.  Jesus knew the time was not right for the people to know Him as the Messiah.  They wanted an earthly, revolutionary Messiah; another Moses to lead them out of bondage into the 'promised land'.  They wanted Him to overthrow the Roman rule.
  4. Jesus explained to the people that He had to go out into other towns and villages to teach people about the Kingdom of God.  What was His message regarding the Kingdom of God?  Was it about the future Kingdom in heaven, the earthly Kingdom here and now, or both?

Interpretation - A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: Luke, Fred B. Craddock, 1990, John Knox Press

Interpretation Bible Studies: Luke, Thomas W. Walker, 2001, John Knox Press

The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Luke, William Barclay, 2001, John Knox Press

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Luke: Unit 1 - The Announcement of the Birth of Jesus


We are back to using the  Interpretation Bible Studies series.  As noted in the title we are beginning a journey through the Gospel of Luke.  Last week we began with an introduction and learned the following:

  • It is commonly believed that Luke and Acts were written by the Gentile physician Luke, one of Paul's followers who is referenced in Colossians 4:14.
  • Believed that Luke / Acts were originally intended to be a "2-volume set"
  • Generally accepted that Luke was written in the latter third of the first century
  • Luke and Acts together comprise over 25% of the New Testament...more than all of Paul's letters
So with that quick recap of last weeks introduction let's begin Unit 1 - The Announcement of the Birth of Jesus.
  • Unit 1 covers Luke 1:39-56.  This section describes Mary's three month visit to her relative Elizabeth.  It also contains Mary's song.
  • However, Unit 1 bypasses a great deal of important material.  For that reason I want to expand our study to include all of Chapter 1...all 80 verses.
  • Chapter 1 can be broken out into 5 sections
    • The Dedication to Theophilus (which we covered in our introduction last week)
    • The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
    • The Birth of Jesus Foretold
    • Mary Visits Elizabeth (the lesson writer's section)
    • The Birth of John the Baptist
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

  • John the Baptist's parents were Zechariah - a priest from the lineage of Aaron, and Elizabeth who also was from the lineage of Aaron
  • A little background about Jewish priesthood
    • It is thought there were upwards of over 20,000 priests at this time
    • Divided into 24 sections
    • Each section served one week at the temple, twice a year
    • Large numbers of priests meant that assignments were assigned by drawing lots (God's choice).  Some priests might go there entire lives and never have the privilege of performing an important temple duty
  • Zechariah and Elizabeth were advanced in their years and had not had any children
  • Being barren was seen as a tragedy - it was even valid grounds for divorce
  • Zechariah draws the lot for burning the incense in the Holy of Holies
    • While in this special place he is visited by Gabriel
    • Gabriel explains that Elizabeth will give birth to a son to be named John
    • John is shorter form of name Jehohanan - Yahwey's gift or God is gracious
    • Zechariah's disbelief causes him to be mute for the entirety of Elizabeth's pregancy
  • Important to note the righteous man of God's disbelief, similarity between this account and that of Abraham and Sara
The Birth of Jesus Foretold

  • Same angel, Gabriel appears to Mary bringing the news that she will be the mother of Jesus
  • Mary, a virgin, is betrothed to Joseph
  • A few interesting tidbits about engagements at this time in Jewish history
    • were arranged by the parents
    • typically lasted about a year before the couple were married
    • was a binding contract, required a divorce decree to back out
    • bride to be was considered a widow if groom died during the engagement
  • Undoubtedly while Elizabeth was advanced in years, Mary was very young...probably no more than 13-14.
  • Contrast Mary's response to Gabriel with that of Zechariah's
    • Zechariah educated, wise man of God - disbelief
    • Mary uneducated, young girl - "I am the Lord's servant, whatever He says, I accept."
Mary Visits Elizabeth

  • Mary visits Elizabeth during the 3rd trimester of Elizabeth's pregancy
  • Three special items to note in Elizabeth's greeting
    • Elizabeth calls Mary and her unborn child "blessed"
      • Two Greek words for blessed makarios - state of happiness, and eulogetos - invokes a blessing of God
      • By using the latter Elizabeth is proclaiming that Mary has been chosen by God
    • Elizabeth signals the identity of Mary's unborn child...calling him "Lord"
    • Elizabeth's greeting confirms the appropriate response to God's plan - hearing and obeying
  • At the sound of Mary's voice unborn John leaps in Elizabeth's womb
  • Foretells that the older will serve the younger (similar to Esau and Jacob)
  • Mary is overjoyed and breaks out in song
    • Mary's song is not unlike that of Hannah's when she finds out her barreness is gone and she is to give birth to Samuel
    • Important to note that Mary begins her song by praising God and all He has done for her
    • Song's second stanza acknowledges God's steadfast love and how God will correct all of the wrong's of this life by lifting up the poor and downtrodden
The Birth of John the Baptist
  • Elizabeth gives birth to John
  • Neighbors and relatives want to know his name
  • Elizabeth says John
  • People are confused, no one in their family has been named John, thus no precedence
  • People go to Zechariah, he writes down "His name is John"
  • Immediately he was able to speak
  • He then prophesizes about the role of his son John and the one who is to follow, the Messiah.

Interpretation - A Bible Commentary for  Teaching and Preaching: Luke, Fred B. Craddock, 1990, John Knox Press

Interpretation Bible Studies: Luke, Thomas W. Walker, 2001, John Knox Press

The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Luke, William Barclay, 2001, John Knox Press

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Finished Work of Christ - Ch. 13

Chapter 13 - Eternal Life is Forever I. Introduction A. Recap - What Have We Learned 1. Justified - By accepting Christ as our Saviour our guilt before God is gone 2. Sanctified - Because of the power of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we have ongoing protection from the power of sin 3. Glorified - Jesus is coming again. Our bodies will be made whole. We will sin no more. B. Today's Topic - Can I Lose My Salvation? 1. In a word - NO! 2. Now as Paul Harvey would say..."and now the rest of the story." 3. Paul begins Romans and ends this section (his description of salvation) by referring to the Trinity II. Salvation Assured by the Work of the Holy Spirit A. We do not know how to pray - interesting, what do you think about that? B. Because of that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf "with sighs too deep for words" 1. Holy Spirit also referred to as Advocate by Jesus in Gospel of John - how appropriate! 2. John 14:16-17 3. John 16: 7-11 III. Salvation Assured by God the Father A. If you have freely accepted Christ as your Savior, know God has chosen you and predestined that you will be glorified, nothing can change that. B. If you have freely accepted Christ as your Savior, know NOTHING can separate you from the love of God IV. Salvation Assured by the Work of the Son A. Jesus died that we might live for eternity but even today His work on our behalf is not done B. Jesus intercedes for us in heaven - He pleads for us on the basis of His own character and on His finished work at Calvary. V. Conclusion A. Great couple of books by Schaeffer, now what? B. How about Luke? 1. Interpretation Series 2. Study Guide 3. Commentary - $16.50 on Amazon 4. Study Guide - $11.05 5. Barclay - $10.13 BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. The Finished Work of Christ, 1998, Francis Schaeffer, Good News Pubishers, Wheaton, IL 2. The New Daily Study Bible - The Letter to the Romans, 1955, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Louisville, KY

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Finished Work of Christ - Ch. 10

Chapter 10 - The Christian's Struggle with Sin (Part II)

I. Introduction

A. Last week - Struggle with Sin Part I covered Romans Ch. 6
1. must die to sin
2. allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, draw on His strength to keep us from sin

B. This week - Struggle with Sin Part II covers Romans Ch. 7
1. my opinion...much easier to understand what Paul is saying in Ch. 7 than in Ch. 6
2. scary thought...being able to understand what Paul is saying without reading two or three commentaries!
3. Schaeffer says there has long been a debate as to whom Paul is directing this passage.
4. Schaeffer believes passage directed at both believers and unbelievers.

II. Chapter 7 can be broken out into three sections

A. 7:1-6 An Analogy from Marriage
B. 7:7-13 - The Law and Sin
C. 7:14-25 - The Inner Conflict

III. An Analogy from Marriage - Paul begins using analogy of a woman, marriage, and the Law

A. According to the law - a woman could not remarry as long as her first husband lived or she would be considered an adulteress.
B. However, if her husband died she was free to remarry.
C. Paul says when we accept Christ as savior we 'die to the law through the body of Christ' (v. 4) and the law no longer has a hold over us.
D. Schaeffer - "Two things happened when we accepted Christ as our Savior: We became dead to the law, and we became married to Christ."
E. Our first 'husband', The Law is gone and thus we no longer have to answer to it
F. Our second 'husband' is Christ and we are free to accept His love and His laws.
G. Barclay - "When that happens (accepting Christ), Christian obediance becomes not an externally imposed obediance to some written code of laws but an inner allegiance of the spirit to Jesus Christ...The motive of our lives is not law, but love; and the inspiration of love can make us able to do what the restraint of law was powerless to help us do."
H. Schaeffer reminds us of Jesus' own words - "If you abide in me, you shall bring forth much fruit." As we give ourselves up to Christ we sin less. Christ brings out the best in us if we will only let Him!

IV. The Law and Sin

A. Paul then asks a provocative question, "is the law sin"
B. No! Of course not.
C. Schaeffer says Paul recognizes that the law is good because it shows us how far short of perfection we fall.
D. Schaeffer also says Paul is saying that it is through the law that man comes to realize his guilt and therefore his need of a Savior.
E. Barclay - "The law is devine and has in it the very voice of God. It is just...It is designed for nothing other than our highest welfare."
1. God loves us - He gave us the law because He knows what we need to be happy and fulfilled.
2. If we would but trust wholly in God and follow His word the world would be a much better place.
F. Paul however says that the law is the source of sin. How can this be?
1. It defines sin
2. Forbidden things hold a strange fascination with us. They draw us in like bugs to a light.
G. Paul says sin deceived him. That is so true.
1. We are deluded as to the satisfaction to be derived from sin.
2. We are deluded as to the excuse that can be made for it.
3. We are deluded as to the probability of escaping the consequences of it.

V. The Inner Conflict

A. Paul, like all human beings wants to do what is right but finds he is often unable to do so.
B. The mind is willing but the body is weak.
C. Schaeffer - "Through Christ we have become justified before God. His Word informs, calls, corrects, and encourages us. Yet, in our body, we are still part of a fallen world."
D. Barclay calls this passage a "demonstration of inadequacies"
1. Inadequacy of knowledge - "if to know the right thing was to do it, life would be easy."
2. Inadequacy of human resolution - "to resolve to do a thing is very far from doing it."
3. Limitations of diagnosis - doctors often can accurately diagnose a disease but is powerless to prescribe a cure.

1. The Finished Work of Christ, 1998, Francis Schaeffer, Good News Pubishers, Wheaton, IL
2. The New Daily Study Bible - The Letter to the Romans, 1955, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Louisville, KY

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Finished Work of Christ - Ch. 9

Chapter 9 - The Christian's Struggle with Sin (Part I)

I. Introduction

A. Last Week - Adam and Christ
B. This Week - Our Struggle with Sin

II. Adam and Christ

A. Adam was a real person
B. Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world by directly disobeying God
C. That is what sin is...disobeying God
D. Also discussed if people 'sinned' between Adam and Moses (i.e., before the Law was given. Learned Barclay and Schaeffer disagree on this point.

III. The Christian's Struggle with Sin

A. Going to focus on key points made by Schaeffer and Barclay
B. Schaeffer and Barclay both make the point that Jesus didn't just die so that we can go to heaven some day but that we might also live a righteous life now until that day comes.
1. 1 Peter 2:24
2. 2 Corinthians 4:10-11
3. Matthew 16:24
C. Key to understanding Christian life is that it is not "some sort of gloomy struggle"
1. Must learn to live in the present as though we were already in the future
2. Primary calling as Christians is found in Matthew 22:37 - "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."
3. To truly love the Lord is to want to follow Him, to do His work.
D. Schaeffer says we must 'die daily'. Die to selfishness, self-centeredness, to self-sufficiency.
E. There has always been a lot of talk in the church about using your God given talents for the Lord's work
1. Schaeffer puts a different spin on this. He says our greatest human talent may not be our greatest usefulness to God.
2. Using that human talent can lead to pride and pride can and will drive a wedge between us and God.
3. All God wants is for us to love Him and be in fellowship with Him.

IV. Short Lesson this week as have the opportunity to hear Jack and Polly's grandson, Ben, tell us of his mission work in Africa.

1. The Finished Work of Christ, 1998, Francis Schaeffer, Good News Pubishers, Wheaton, IL
2. The New Daily Study Bible - The Letter to the Romans, 1955, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Louisville, KY


Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Finished Work of Christ - Ch. 8

Chapter 8 - Dead in Adam, Alive in Christ

I. Introduction

A. Last Week: Justification results in Peace with God
B. This Week: Adam and Christ

II. Peace with God

A. God is at peace with us because we accept His gift
B. We can be at peace with God and ourselves if we...
1. acknowledge and accept that we are sinners
2. ask for forgiveness and accept God's gift of grace
3. Thank God for His gift of grace

III. Adam and Christ

A. Passage this week, Romans 5:12-21, describes our path from ruin to rescue, from one sin to one redeemer
B. Barclay - "No passage of the New Testament has had such an influence on theology as this; and no passage is more difficult for us to understand today."
1. Reading the scripture it's easy to see why he said this.
2. Especially the first half, about Adam and original sin
B. First the path to ruin - Adam and original sin
1. Many do not believe Adam and Eve were real historical figures, rather just an idea or an allegory
2. Schaeffer makes the point that Paul did believe Adam and Eve were real historical people
a. v.12 - "by one man sin entered unto the world..." clearly speaking as Adam was a real person.
b. again in 1 Corinthians 15:22, and again in 1 Timothy 2:13-14
3. Not only did Paul believe it but Christ proclaimed it, see Matthew 19:4-5
4. OK, that begs the question how did one man's sin get passed onto the rest of us?
1. Barclay says passage must be read with two basic Jewish ideas in mind
a. idea of solidarity - Jews don't think of themselves as individuals but as part of a clan, family, or a nation. Thus, as Adam did, they all did.
b. death is the direct consequence of sin. Jews believe if Adam and Eve had not sinned they would have been immortal, i.e. immune to death.
5. Schaeffer and Barclay seem to disagree on one point - did people between Adam and the giving of the Law of Moses sin?
a. Barclay - "the law did not come until the time of Moses. Now, if there is no law, there can be no breaking of the law; that is to say, there can be no sin. Therefore, the men and women who lived between Adam and Moses did in fact commit sinful actions, but they could not be counted sinners, for the law did not yet exist.
b. Schaeffer - "As we saw in 2;1, those who lived from the time of Adam until the giving of the law will not be judged by the Law of Moses, but on the basis of what they knew, apart from the law, about right and wrong...So all come under condemnation, for even before the Law of Moses all were guilty."
C. Passage has two historical acts
1. First we just discussed, Adam and original sin
2. Second, Jesus who came to fix what Adam had ruined
D. Because it has fallen, humanity is far less than God meant it to be
E. Schaeffer speaks a great deal about how we are Christ's children
1. Uses parallel of Jewish law that brother shall take his dead brother's wife as his own and have children with her such that his brother's blood line can continue.
2. Unsaved people are still in the dead blood line of Adam
3. Saved people are children of God because Christ died for us.
4. In light of this how should we live? That is the topic for the Romans Ch. 6-8, which is what we will begin studying next week.

1. The Finished Work of Christ, 1998, Francis Schaeffer, Good News Pubishers, Wheaton, IL
2. The New Daily Study Bible - The Letter to the Romans, 1955, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Louisville, KY

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Finished Work of Christ - Ch. 7

Chapter 7 - The Result of Justification: Peace with God

I. Introduction

A. Recap First 6 Chapters - Justification
B. Next 5 Chapters - Santification
1. This week - Peace with God
2. Next Week - Origins of Sin

II. Justification

A. All are sinners - our sin is a chasm which separates us from the love of God
B. Believe God - God keeps His promises, promised a saviour
C. Christ died for us. His shed blood covers all our sins
D. Barclay - justification: "change of our status"

III. Santification - The Result of Justification: Peace with God

A. Barclay - santification: "change of our state"
B. Schaeffer - "The most important aspect of this eace with God is not the peace in our own hearts but the fact that God is at peace with us."
C. Many people struggle to find peace in their hearts
1. Know God has forgiven them, but can't forgive themselves
D. Salvation takes place in three phases
1. Past - justification when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior (salvation from the guilt of our past sin
2. Present - santification, salvation from the power of sin
3. Future - glorification, in heaven, salvation from the very presence of sin
E. Santification, like justification, based on "finished work of Christ"
1. After accepting Christ, can't rely on own "works" to keep us from sin
2. Will continue to face temptation, will continue to sin
F. Schaeffer - key to finding peace with God is three part process
1. just like finding initial salvation - admit you're a sinner
2. again, just like initial salvation - "lay hold of the finished work of Christ", bring the sin under the blood of Christ.
3. Say THANK-YOU to God for your salvation. According to Schaeffer, this third "optional" part is key. As soon as you say 'thank-you', "the certainty of your forgiveness will come and you will have peace of mind."
G. Peace with God not just some introspective thing. It is a peace based on God's promise that Christ's atoning death is enough to meet all our present failures.
H. Depth of God's Love
1. God sent Jesus to die for us when we were lost, apart, and "at war" with him
2. How many would die so that their enemies could live?
3. How much more so does He love us now that we've accepted His gift and have become reconciled to Him?

1. The Finished Work of Christ, 1998, Francis Schaeffer, Good News Pubishers, Wheaton, IL
2. The New Daily Study Bible - The Letter to the Romans, 1955, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Louisville, KY