JESUS, THE TRUE VINE

[SW293] 08/18/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

“Jesus, the True Vine”

Text: John 15:1-17

Jesus Christ is the true Vine, the life-giving Vine, the Vine to which all believers must be continually individually attached, for we can do nothing apart from Him!

He must be in us! I consider Him faithful who promises.

As I began to say at the end of last weeks’ teaching, it is likely that when Jesus said, “Get up, let us go from here,” He knew it was time to go to the Garden at Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

So when they were walking toward the Garden, the Temple would have been visible, with its great golden grapevine, the national emblem of Israel, on the front of the Temple (see Expositor’s Bible Commentary, page 150).

So Jesus’ first words are especially meaningful, now that you understand what He and His disciples were likely looking at —

Verse 1 — I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. God was not pleased with Israel, the grapevine He had planted and tended through His own powerful works, because most of His people had grown up to be wayward, pursing false gods and seeking deliverance from other nations, rather than from God (Isaiah 5). And even when Christ spoke these words, Israel pursued the Law instead of the Author of it, and refused to recognize His Son!

God the Son means that unlike God’s people (and me), who strayed, He is the faithful and true Vine, planted by the Father on this earth, to make the way for us to become attached to Him, and for Him to be in us, so that we would bear His fruit!

Every grapevine needs a vinedresser, one who tends the vines and makes them produce the greatest harvest. And Jesus says the vinedresser is “My Father.” Oh, who better to tend to you and me!

Verse 2 — In this parable, the disciples (and all who follow Jesus) are the branches. We either bear fruit, or we do not bear fruit.

Grapevines bear grapes, but what fruit do we bear?  Galatians 5:22-23 — the fruit of the Holy Spirit! It is not your love that you bear — it is His! And likewise with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness/humbleness, and self-control (Spirit control)!

So, some of the branches, and thus, some who follow Jesus, do not bear the fruit of the Spirit, so the Father takes them away.

What does “take away” mean? The Greek is airo, and it means “take away,” but another of its meanings is “lift up.”

In His amazing mercy, and because of the difference in Greek words in this verse and Verse 6, I believe the Father lifts up barren branches into His light so they are able to see that they need the Holy Spirit in order to bear His fruit.

It is like the parable of the unfruitful fig tree in Luke 17:9 — let it grow another year, and “if it bears fruit next year, fine, but if not, cut it down.”

So the branches that don’t bear fruit are lifted up to His light. And what about the branches that bear fruit? God the Father prunes them, so they may bear even more fruit!

Beloved, My Father continues to prune me, so I may bear a greater degree of His fruit and go from one degree of Christlikeness to the next and the next! It is wonderful to be pruned by His expert hands!

Verse 3 — Jesus tells the Eleven that they are already clean (pure) because of the word Jesus has spoken to them, just as He said in John 13:10. But remember, their walk still needed to be cleansed — they needed to be filled with the Spirit!

Verse 4 — Jesus says,  Abide (dwell, are present, stand) in Me, and I in you!!! Do you see it? “I in you!” That is how we become His fruit-bearers! He must be in us, just as He promises in John 14:23! If you stay and wait, He will fill you with His Spirit and the Father and He will come to dwell IN you!

A branch of a grapevine cannot produce fruit unless it is attached to the vine. Jesus says to His disciples and to you, “So neither can you (bear My fruit) unless you abide (dwell, are present, stand) in Me.” We have no ability to bear His fruit on our own. We must be filled with the Spirit, so the Father and Son permanently dwell in us! Then we are able to bear His fruit!

Verse 5 — Again, He says, I am the Vine. You are the branches. If you dwell, are present, stand in Me and I dwell permanently in you (again, John 14:23), you will bear much (an abundance of) fruit. But apart from Me, you can do nothing.

Do you see it? You must be filled with His Spirit, with Him dwelling permanently in you, in order for you to bear His  fruit. Otherwise, all the good deeds you may do are done by you alone — apart from Him. Beloved, it is HIS fruit in you, because He is in you, that draws people to Him and to salvation!

Verse 6  — Jesus further emphasizes this truth. If anyone does not abide in Me, He says, He is thrown away as a branch (Greek: ballo, an intense, forceful casting out, throwing down). Thrown away as a branch!

The one thrown away WAS a branch, but that one has not borne the fruit of the Holy Spirit because that one does not dwell, is not present, and does not stand in Christ, and Christ does not dwell in Him.

Jesus says the one who bears no fruit, once thrown away, dries up, and just as with an unproductive grapevine branch, he is gathered up and cast (again, ballo) into the fire and he is burned (see Matthew 13:40-42)!

Beloved, if you have said words at an altar and said a sinner’s prayer, and you try not to sin and agree God’s laws are good and right, yet you continue to live a sin-filled life, like the wretched man in Romans 7, may this word be His light for you, that  you may become a bearer of His fruit.

Through the words My Father gives me, He lifts you up so you may see the light of His truth. Cry out for Him to come in!

Verse 7 — But if you dwell, are present, stand in Jesus, and His words dwell in you (because He dwells in you), then you are able to ask what you will, and it will be done for you!

Ask what you will? If you are in Him and He permanently dwells in you, then you will ask according to God’s will. Therefore, what you ask for will be given, because you always request that which will give God the Father and God the Son glory, honor and praise! That is the only desire of His fruit-bearers!

It is like Psalm 37:4 — Delight yourself in the Lord (be soft and pliable in His hands), and He will give you the desires of your heart. Your desires will be the same as His, so He will gladly give them to you!

Verse 8 — Jesus says, My Father is glorified in this. In what? My Father is glorified when Jesus’ disciples bear much fruit. That is the proof that you are truly dwelling, are present, and are standing in Jesus Christ, and He is fully dwelling in you! It is the proof that God keeps His promises (Acts 1:4-5)!

And because people see the promise fulfilled in believers who are full of the Holy Spirit, God’s promise is shown to be true, and He is shown to be faithful, they honor, revere and praise Him!

Verse 9 — And Jesus says He loves the disciples with the same love God the Father has for Him — agape! And He commands the disciples, “Abide in My love.” That is, permanently dwell, be present and stand in My agape. You can only do that if His agape is in you!

Verse 10 — And whoever keeps (holds fast) His commandments (authoritative prescriptions) to stay and wait, WILL abide in His agape. Jesus says it will be just the same as with His Father and Him, because He keeps His Father’s commandments, even to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)!

Verse 11 — Jesus speaks these things so His joy may be IN them! It will be, when they are filled with His Spirit, and therefore are filled with His fruit. This joy is His joy, not human joy. It is joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)! And Jesus says that when His joy is in them, it will fill them (be crammed into them)!

Verse 12 — Then He speaks a commandment that we cannot possibly do unless He is dwelling permanently in us. Jesus says, Love one another just as I have loved you. His command to them and you and me is that we must love each other with God’s actual love, His agape, just as Jesus has loved us with God’s agape.

That happens for the disciples at Pentecost in Acts 2, and for you, it happens at your own personal Pentecost!

Verse 13 — What will someone filled with agape do? Jesus says, greater agape has no one than this, that you lay down your life for your friends (phileo, someone dear, a friend or neighbor).

Is He speaking of physically dying in the place of someone else, of “taking the bullet” to save the life of one of your natural friends?

It is far deeper than that. He is speaking of all mankind. He is speaking of losing your life — laying it down — to gain His life, life as God has it. (Matthew 16:25ff). Then you will hold all mankind dear!

John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you,  unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his  life loses it, and he who  hates his  life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”

When you lay down your life and take up His, you are able to bear His fruit so all mankind may have eternal life through Jesus Christ who indwells you and shines from you!

Verse 14 — Whoever does what Jesus commands is His friend. If you throw down your old life, and take up His, you have become one of whom He holds dear.

Verse 15 — He no longer calls His disciples slaves (servants). But He calls them friends. Why? Because they have listened to all the things the Father gave Him to speak to them. Servants do not know the plans of their masters. They simply serve them by doing what they are told to do. But friends know the plans of their friends. And Jesus has told them His plans.

Verse 16 — He tells His disciples that they did not choose Him. He chose them. You have been drawn by the Father. If you hear His voice in this message, you are being called by Jesus. That is what it means to be chosen by Him.

And He appointed (planted) them!

For what purpose? So they and we would go and bear abundant fruit that remains, that stays, that does not fade or perish.

Again, what is this fruit? I tell you, followers will come and go. Some to whom you minister will leave. So people are not the fruit of which Jesus speaks.

But this fruit is His fruit — the fruit of the Spirit, which is everlasting, eternal, forever! That is the kind of fruit that is eternal!

And what happens when you bear His fruit? Then you are able to ask in Jesus’ name, having His divine nature (2Peter 1:4) in you, and His character.

So, whatever you ask of the Father, in Jesus’ name, He gives it to you (the word “may” is not in the original Greek)! Again, you will ask according to the Father’s will, and He will gladly give what you ask for!

Verse 17 — Again, Jesus repeats His authoritative prescription for them and us — love one another with My agape, not human love.

Has this word shown you that you are not dwelling, standing, and present with Jesus Christ? Has it shown you that you do not love with God’s love, nor bear the rest of His fruit? Have you found that you are struggling with sin, even though you agree that God’s laws are good?

Then Jesus has the answer to your dilemma! Cry out to Him! Ask your Father in heaven and He will fill you with His Spirit. God the Father and God the Son will permanently dwell in you! Then you will find that bearing His fruit is as natural as breathing, and you will continue to be pruned for greater and greater Christlikeness!

Peter says —

2Peter 1:8 For if these (fruits) are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen!

SESSION 15 — “Being the Church, a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

Review of the study thus far:

— Jesus’ briefing on the Holy Spirit in John 14-17

— The promise for which they were to wait

— Fulfilled in Acts 2

— Peter’s sermon, boldly speaking their sin and Christ’s resurrection, and 3,000 come to Christ

— The beggar born lame is healed, Peter speaks again of Christ’s resurrection and their sin, and 5,000 come to Christ

— Peter, John and the beggar are brought before the Sanhedrin

— Do not speak this name or do anything in this name

— Should we obey God or you? You be the judge!

—We cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard

— The bond-servants of the Lord ask for greater boldness to speak,

and God answers their prayer!

— Contrast between Barnabas, who gives all, and Ananias and Sapphira, who lie about their offering, and the consequences.

— The apostles are arrested. The angel who frees them delivers this message: Go! Stand! Speak all the words of this Life! And they did, and were arrested again!

— Sanhedrin cut to the quick, Gamaliel’s advice to let them be, for if it is of God, they may find themselves fighting against God! The Apostles, flogged and released, rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer as Jesus did.

— Spirit-filled believers are required for even the most menial tasks in the church. Filled with the Spirit, full of God’s wisdom, full of faith, full of grace and power! Stephen persecuted for what he speaks and does. As his accusers gaze intently at him, they see his face like the face of an angel — he is radiant!

— Stephen boldly speaks of Israel’s history and how they continually reject and repudiate their God and His servants. He is stoned to death, but as he is dying, he asks the Lord not to hold this sin against those who are stoning him. We see the first mention of Saul, whose Roman name is Paul.

Now, Session 15 — Acts 8:1-24

Verse 1 — Saul, whose Roman name is Paul, was in hearty agreement (he took pleasure in it) that Stephen should be put to death. Thus, Jesus’ words to them came to pass —

Matthew 23:34   “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city . . .”

And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem. The believers scattered, traveling all over Judea and Samaria. This persecution caused the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, by His Spirit-filled witnesses(Acts 1:8)!

NOTE: Saul was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus, capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, so he had a Roman name (Paul) as well as his Hebrew name (Saul).

Verse 2 — Some devout, godly men buried Stephen and made loud lamentations over him. They mourned deeply and loudly over him.

NOTE: This was a violation of the rabbinical writing, the Mishnah, which says no such thing is to be done for someone who, by the Sanhedrin’s judgment, is stoned, burned, beheaded or strangled. These men defied the Sanhedrin.

Verse 3 — Saul began ravaging (that is, causing widespread destruction in) the church. He entered house after house and dragged off men and women, then put them in prison, where they would await their deaths. He had authority to do so, just as we will see in Acts 9, though it is not specifically mentioned here.

NOTE: He was not a youth (see 7:58) in the way we would think today. In those days, a man was called “young” if he was between the ages of 24 and 40.

Verses 4-5 — Philip, who was one of the seven Spirit-filled men in Acts 6:5, and had been scattered along with some of the other believers. Now we see him BEING the church! He was not silent, but was bold, going about, preaching the word. Philip proclaimed Jesus Christ to the people in Samaria.

Verse 6 — The crowds were all of one accord (unanimous), giving attention to what Philip said. As he spoke, God worked through him to perform attesting signs and wonder as proof that Philip was His ambassador (2Corinthians 5:20).

Verses 7-8 — What were these attesting signs? Evil spirits shouted as they were cast out of those who were possessed! Many who had been paralyzed and lame were instantly healed. As a result, there was exceeding joy in that city! Captives were set free, because the Spirit of the Lord was in Philip (see Isaiah 61:1)!

That’s what it is to be the church! PRAISE BREAK!

Verses 9-11 — We now meet Simon, who had practiced magic in the city for a long time, amazing the people of Samaria with his magic arts. He claimed to be someone great. They all gave attention to him, calling him The Great Power of God.

But the people gave him attention because he had been practicing his magic arts before them for some time. It is the same today — many are fascinated with the black arts. What can bring them to Jesus?

Verses 12-13 — Even those who follow the black arts believe when they:

— See God’s works (a greater power than that of the false gods they worship), His signs and wonders, done in the power of the Spirit-filled believer, and hear the good news of the kingdom of God AND . . .

— Hear the name (character and reputation) of Jesus Christ proclaimed with that same power!

That’s what Philip did, and the people were being baptized (for repentance), both men and women. Even Simon the magician believed, was then baptized in the same way as the people! He began traveling with Philip, constantly amazed at the miracles that the Lord worked through Philip.

NOTE: A colleague of ours, a full-blooded Native American evangelist, said it was difficult to convert Native Americans because they have a form of spirituality. But when the Lord worked signs and wonders through him as he preached the gospel, many were saved.

Verses 14-17 — When the apostles in Jerusalem heard what was happening in Samaria, and how they had received the word of God and believed, they sent Peter and John. They came down and prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.

Why did Peter and John come?

Because the Spirit had not fallen on any of them. They had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, baptized in water because they believed in Jesus Christ.

By their own experience, Peter and John knew these new believers could not be the church until they were filled with the Holy Spirit. So John and Peter began laying hands on the new believers, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit, in the same way Peter and John did, and Philip — that is, they were being baptized in the Holy Spirit, and filled with Him and their hearts were purified (Acts 15:9)!

NOTE: We will see that it is not just the Apostles who are able to lay hands on people so they are baptized in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 9:17, for example).

Verses 18-19 — Simon wanted to do the same, and offered money to Peter and John, so they would give him the same power. Wrong motive! We must see our need for power to give testimony of Him, and our need for a pure heart. That is the right motive in asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But Simon wanted to be able to perform this act — to lay hands on so people are filled. And he was willing to pay for it. May it never be!

So Peter PUBLICLY rebuked him!

God can’t be bought, beloved! Are you being offered the Holy Spirit for a price? Are you paying for a handkerchief that has been prayed over? May it never be! Avoid such men. They are counterfeits.

Verses 20-22 — Peter said, may your silver perish with you! He said, “You thought” — God did not speak to you, Simon! The Holy Spirit is a gift of God, not something  — actually someONE — you can buy with money!

He continued — You have no right or portion in this word (gospel), this that we preach and teach! Why? Your heart is not right, in God’s eyes!

What was the solution for Simon’s wrong heart? Peter said, “Repent of your wickedness, and pray that the Lord, if possible, would forgive you for your heart’s intention.”

Forgiveness is possible for those who try to buy and sell God, and for all sins, but only if they will repent. That is not just a confession like, “I’m sorry,” but a change of heart, a turning away from sin and turning to God.

Verse 23 — The Lord wants you to see that Peter sees (DISCERNS) Simon’s heart, by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit. That is a characteristic of those who are filled with the Spirit. (NOTE: Do not confuse this with the spiritual gift of discerning of spirits. This is discerning of HEARTS.)

So, discerning Simon’s heart, Peter said to him, “I see (discern clearly) that you are in the gall (poison) of bitterness (again, poison).” Simon was poisoned all the way through! And Peter also saw that Simon was in the bonds (control) of iniquity (sin). Poison-hearted Simon was in the chains of sin.

Did he really believe (see Verse 13)? It is the same Greek word used for the others, pisteuo. But if I am Baptist and believe once saved, always saved, I would be forced by my beliefs to conclude he was never really saved. But Simon believed and was baptized! What was the problem, then? Why was he not right before God?

His heart’s intentions, the thoughts of his heart (Hebrews 4:12), were not right before God, and thus, he needed to repent. His heart was not pure. You say, but Christians don’t have to repent, so he could not have really been a Christian. Look at Revelation 2 and 3. Of the seven churches, Jesus Christ commands five to repent!

Verse 24 — Did Simon repent? Peter told Simon to pray, but Simon asked Peter and John to “Pray for me yourselves, so nothing of what you have said will come upon me.”

Was this true repentance, or did Simon ask them to pray out of his own fear? True repentance is done individually, by the sinner. You yourself must pray.

So I do not believe Simon truly repented. Had he done so, I believe Peter and John would have then been willing to lay hands on him, for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Not every commentator agrees with the others on this, but the Lord showed me this. Again, Acts 17:11 — search the scriptures to see if what I say is true.

Do you see the boldness of Peter to PUBLICLY call out Simon and clearly and concisely tell him what is wrong in his heart? That is what it is to be the church, beloved. (See 1Corinthians 5:4-5.)

What? Didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not, lest ye be judged?” He said that to hypocrites who sin and then point their finger at others (see Matthew 7:1 and forward).

But we are to judge sin if we have been filled with the Spirit who removes the log from our own eye by purifying our hearts (see Acts 15:9 and 1Corinthians Chapter 5, especially verses 9-13).

Do you hear that in the church today? Is their a public rebuke of the sinning Christians among you, and a public call to repentance?

Are you going out from your church, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, including repentance from sin? Are you performing signs and wonders that prove you are Christ’s ambassador? Are those who follow the black arts turning to Jesus because of what you say and do?

If not, and you see your need today, ask your Father in heaven for the Holy Spirit, and He will gladly give Him to you (Luke 11:13)!

JESUS, THE PROMISER OF THE SPIRIT

[SW292] 08/11/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

“Jesus, the Promiser of the Spirit”

Text: John 14:15-31

These verses are a treasure! In them, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, so you are filled with His love and empowered to be His church, and so that the Father and the Son themselves dwell inside of you!

Consider Him faithful, who has promised (Hebrews 11:11)!

Verse 15 —Jesus says, in the original Greek-to-English whoever loves Me will keep (hold fast) My commandments (authoritative prescriptions). That’s agapeo, the verb for agape, which is God’s actual love!

He speaks as if it has happened to His disciples, because it will, at Pentecost.

Peter says the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). Obey Him in what way? By following His very specific authoritative prescriptions, given to them before He was glorified, and before the Spirit was poured out  —

Luke 24:49 “And behold,  I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Acts 1:4  Gathering them together, He commanded them  not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Notice He does not say, “If you’d like to . . .” He knows what you NEED, so He commands it!

Surely, what the Spirit-inspired John writes in John 20:22 is true  —

John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “ Peace be with you;  as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and  said to them, “Receive (lambano) the Holy Spirit.”

The Greek is lambano. Full receipt would be paralambano or apolambano. Jesus gave them enough of the Holy Spirit so they would be able to obey His first and immediate authoritative prescriptions!

But God’s actual love was not yet poured out in their hearts. How do I know that? Peter reveals it in his responses to Jesus in John 21:15-17. At that time, he could not agapeo the Lord . . . he had phileo for Him (brotherly love, the love of one friend toward another).

Beloved, when you receive the promise of the Father because you have obeyed by staying and waiting until you are filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and God’s actual agape (Romans 5:5), you are THEN able to keep these two most important commandments —

Matthew 22:37 “You shall love (Greek: agapeo) the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love (agapeo) your neighbor as yourself.’”

Verse 16 — Again, Jesus has just said, “Whoever loves Me will keep My commandments.” (Stay! Wait!)

AND . . .

I will ask the Father (John 17:22), and He will give you another Helper (Greek: paracletos, one who is summoned to come to another’s aid).

He will be another Helper  — another of the same kind as Jesus (that is, the Holy Spirit is God the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ is God the Son).

And the Father will give Him so He may be with you forever!

Verse 17 — Who is this Helper? Jesus says, He is the Spirit — the Spirit of truth, in the same way that Jesus is the Truth. The world does not see (perceive) or know the Spirit (Greek: ginosko, complete knowledge, a personal, holy intimate relationship in view, knowing by experiencing).

Jesus tells His disciples that they know the Spirit, though the world does not. Jesus was not glorified  yet — He had not died and risen and ascended and been glorified yet (John 7:39). So how can they know the Holy Spirit intimately?

It is because the Holy Spirit was IN Jesus when He walked the earth, and they had walked with Jesus for 3/1-2 years. So the Spirit has been WITH them, IN Jesus.

So the Spirit has been WITH you, and now, Jesus promises, He will be IN (literally located within) you!

Do you see it? He will take them from WITH to IN! That bears repeating!

The Spirit will be IN THEM! He is not in them yet, but He will be, at Pentecost!

And the Spirit WILL BE in you, and in me, when we have our own personal Pentecost! Then we will KNOW Him, completely and intimately, experiencing Him IN us! Then we will love Him with God’s actual love, poured out to overflowing in our hearts by the Holy Spirit! Then, and only then, are you and I empowered to be His church.

PRAISE BREAK!

Verses 18-19 — Jesus promises them that He will not leave them as orphans. He will come!

Soon, the world won’t literally see Him. He will go to the cross and be placed in a tomb.

But His disciples will see Jesus Christ risen from the grave, along with the rest of the 500 (1Corinthians 15:6-8).

And they will see Him with spiritual eyes when they are filled with the Spirit! And so will you!

And because He lives — He is the Possessor and Giver of eternal life — His disciples will live. He is the Life!

Verse 20 — And in that day, when we have His eternal life literally within us, and the Spirit comes to fill us, Jesus says we will have complete knowledge by experiencing Him IN us.

What will we know? Jesus says  you will know —

— I am in My Father (literal location, belonging to and in the presence of Him).

— You are in Me (you belong to Me and dwell in My presence).

— I am in you (no longer WITH you, but IN you).

PRAISE BREAK!

Verse 21 — If you have (follow) His commandments and keep them (hold them fast) — that is, Stay! Wait! — you will be filled with His agape, and keeping His commandments will be as easy as breathing!

Jesus says, because you WILL love Me with God’s actual love, the Father will love you, and I will love you AND will disclose (manifest, show) Myself to you.

How will he show Himself?

Verse 22 — That is what Judas (not Iscariot) asks. What has happened that Jesus would reveal Himself to them and not to the world?

But he was thinking in earthly terms. It was what was GOING to happen, just as Jesus is promising for them!

Verse 23 — Oh, my! Listen! Jesus doesn’t answer Judas’ question, but says, Whoever loves (agapeo) Me will —

— keep (hold fast) My word (follow my authoritative prescriptions) AND

— My Father will love Him, AND

— WE will come to him and make OUR abode with him!!!

Abode! Residence! Mansion! When you are filled with the Spirit, He purifies your heart (Acts 15:9), so you become a clean temple (1Corinthians 6:19). So the Father and Son come to permanently reside in you!

You have this treasure in earthen vessels, in jars of clay, in your physical body (2Corinthians 4:7)! That is what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, beloved! To have Him IN you is a treasure, a holy deposit of the very presence, power and love of God!

Verse 24 — But if you do not love Him, you will not keep (hold fast to) His words. You will disobey Him. Instead, you will hold fast to your waywardness.

And if you disobey Him,  you do not love Him. So says the Father!

If you know at this moment that you are disobeying Jesus, and therefore do not love Him, cry out to Him to be saved, so that you obey Him in waiting for what John Wesley called “the one thing needful!”

And then, cry out for Him to send the One who will fill you with that love, so that obeying Him is a delight and a joy, and as natural as breathing!

Then you will say, as David prophesied of the Christ, “I delight to do Your will, O God; your Law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8), and you will find that His law is written on the tablet of your human heart (2Corinthians 3:3)!

Verses 25-26 — Jesus says He has spoken these things while He is with them on the earth.

BUT the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in Jesus’ name (having His character and nature) will do something. What will He do?
Jesus says the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things! What things?  The truth and knowledge possessed by God, the wisdom of God.

And the Holy Spirit will bring to mind Jesus’ words (for the Apostles’ writing of the Gospel accounts, but also as they walked about, filled with the Spirit). And we, too, will remember His words, as we walk about filled with the Spirit!

Verse 27 — To his troubled disciples, He says, Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. It is His peace, not human peace. When believers are filled, they receive His peace.

It is a fruit of His Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22-23). It is peace in every circumstance (2Thessalonians 3:16)! It is peace that surpasses human understanding (Philippians 4:7)!

So, again Jesus commands, NOT your heart be troubled, NOT your heart be fearful!

Verse 28 — They are troubled because He says He is leaving.

But Jesus says if you loved (agapeo) Me (they are not yet filled with His love), you would have rejoiced and not been troubled. As I have said, they are troubled because they are still thinking in natural terms.

They want Jesus to stay with them! They are attached to Him, they love Him as a friend. And they want His kingdom to come, so they can be free from Roman rule. Their motive is self interest.

Therefore, they do not rejoice! I tell you that as long as your self interest is your motive, you will not rejoice.

And it is worthy of great rejoicing for Jesus to go to the Father! It will be to their advantage (John 16:7), because the Father is greater than Jesus Christ, and the Father gives the Holy Spirit!

If Jesus does not go to the Father, the Holy Spirit will not be given and the Father, the Son, the Spirit and the actual love of God cannot fill them!

Oh, it is far better!

Verses 29-30 — He tells them before it happens. He speaks to them prophetically, so when it happens, they may believe He is who He says He is!

Then He tells them He will not speak to them much longer. Why? The ruler of this world is coming (that is, this ruler is going to be permitted to work, for a time).

Does He mean the Jews? No, He means the god of this world (2Corinthians 4:4), the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).

But Satan has nothing (absolutely nothing, completely nothing at all, nothing in any way) in Jesus. He has no valid accusation against Him.

Verse 31 — Here’s why Satan cannot accuse Jesus Christ. He does exactly as the Father commanded Him. He does it so the world may know that He loves the Father. He is God the Son, so He loves with agape!

And Satan and those who work for him will think they have defeated God because Christ died on a cross. But they will have quite a surprise, three days later!

Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Verse 31 — Here’s why Satan cannot accuse Jesus Christ. He does exactly as the Father commanded Him. He does it so the world may know that He loves the Father. He is God the Son, so He loves with agape!

Then Jesus abruptly tells His disciples to get up, and go from there. He knows it is time to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, where He knows He will be arrested.

He is about to walk through the streets of Jerusalem with them, toward that Garden. On the way, they will pass the Temple, with its grapevine relief at the top of its walls. And that leads us into John 15, next time!

So . . . will you obey His authoritative prescription for you?

Will you obey Jesus Christ’s command to you, to stay until you are clothed with power on high, and wait to be baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit? If you do and are ready to obey, then I rejoice, for God has shown it to you!

Now, respond to what He has shown you. Ask the Father to fill you to the full, until you overflow (Luke 11:13)! Do it now, not to get something from God, but to be filled with Him so He can use you for His kingdom! And He will do it!

Hallelujah! Amen!

SESSION 14 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

Review of the study thus far:

— Jesus’ briefing on the Holy Spirit in John 14-17

— The promise for which they were to wait

— Fulfilled in Acts 2

— Peter’s sermon, boldly speaking their sin and Christ’s resurrection, and 3,000 come to Christ

— The beggar born lame is healed, Peter speaks again of Christ’s resurrection and their sin, and 5,000 come to Christ

— Peter, John and the beggar are brought before the Sanhedrin

— Do not speak this name or do anything in this name

— Should we obey God or you? You be the judge!

—We cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard

— The bond-servants of the Lord ask for greater boldness to speak,

and God answers their prayer!

— Contrast between Barnabas, who gives all, and Ananias and Sapphira, who lie about their offering, and the consequences.

— The apostles are arrested. The angel who frees them delivers this message: Go! Stand! Speak all the words of this Life! And they did, and were arrested again!

— Sanhedrin cut to the quick, Gamaliel’s advice to let them be, for if it is of God, they may find themselves fighting against God! The Apostles, flogged and released, rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer as Jesus did.

— Spirit-filled believers are required for even the most menial tasks in the church. Filled with the Spirit, full of God’s wisdom, full of faith, full of grace and power! Stephen persecuted for what he speaks and does. As his accusers gaze intently at him, they see his face like the face of an angel — he is radiant!

Now, Session 14 — Acts 7:1-60

This seems like a lot of scripture to do in one session, but my video will not include everything that is in these notes. As I always say, “There’s so much here!”

I pray you are like the Bereans, though, searching the scriptures to see if what I say is true (Acts 17:11)!

Verse 1 — When the high priest asks Stephen if the false witnesses are telling the truth, Stephen begins a history of Israel, with no Bible to aid him.

Again, how does an “unlearned” person know what Stephen knows? How does such a one stand before this august group of 71 experts, leaders of the Jewish faith?

Where does his wisdom come from? We have seen it before. As I said last time, in these verses, we will see that Stephen is given his words by the Holy Spirit (again, Luke 21:15).

The priest knows the history. But Stephen tells it from the perspective that Israel has always resisted God and repudiated the leaders He chose.

Verses 2-4 — Stephen begins by calling them brethren and fathers, speaks of God as the God of glory, and speaks of “our father, Abraham.” The Holy Spirit reminds them that Stephen is a Jew, just like them.

He begins the story of Abraham, who came out from Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, southwestern Turkey, and the border area of Iraq and Iran). The Lord told Abraham to go to a place He would show him. So he went! He was obedient, and did not resist God! First he was in Haran, until his father died. Then he continued following the Lord into Israel.

It is the land where Stephen’s listeners are now living. He reminds them of God’s faithfulness to go to a place He would show Abraham.

Verse 5 — But the Lord didn’t say, “This land is yours right now.” Not even a foot. But He promised that even though Abraham was childless, He would give it to Abraham AND his descendants as a possession. He would possess it (occupy it and hold it down, as with holding a fort), but the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1, 1Corinthians 10:26)!

I like the Expositor’s Bible Commentary’s observation — Abraham did not consider  possession of the land to be the the ultimate purpose for the Lord speaking to him. He cherished the intimate, personal relationship the Lord shared with him, wherever Abraham sojourned.

So there are a couple of questions I must ask you —

Have you left everything to follow the Lord?

What is your ultimate purpose in seeking God? Is it that He has promised something in His Word (like possession of the land), or is it an intimate, personal relationship with Him?

Verses 6-7 — Stephen paraphrases the prophecy about Israel in Egypt, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years.

But the Lord would judge Egypt, just as He later judged Assyria after Samaria (northern Israel) was exiled, and Babylon after Judah was exiled. Each regime mistreated His people. It was far beyond what they deserved, in God’s eyes. Exile from the Promised Land and from His presence was punishment enough.

So after the 400 years in Egypt, they would come out and go to Israel. And the Lord would once again be seen as the Owner of the earth —

Exodus 9:29 Moses said to him (Pharaoh), “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.”

Verse 8 — Stephen then reminds them of the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17:1, 7-8). The Lord came down, and said, “Walk before me blameless.” And Abraham followed Him with all his heart, and obeyed the Lord. The everlasting covenant (promise) was for such ones.
What was the everlasting covenant? To be God to Abraham and his descendants. And he would give them the land where Abraham had sojourned. And the sign of the covenant was circumcision of male Jews.

God kept His covenant with Abraham, and Abraham was faithful to God. The Lord gave him a son, Isaac. Abraham obediently circumcised his son, Isaac, who became the father of Jacob and Esau, and Jacob became the father of the patriarchs, from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel.

Obedience is the key that connects what Stephen speaks in this verse and the verses in his message up to this point!

Verses 9-16 — Now we see the first repudiation of God’s choice. Joseph, the son of Jacob, was favored above the rest by Jacob. And the other sons were jealous. Joesph was given two dreams from the Lord, in which his borthers and then his whole family bowed down before him. He told them the dreams, and his brothers become outraged. They sold him into Egypt as a slave.

But God was with him — he was obedient to the Lord, and prospered to the point that he was second only to Pharaoh. When famine came, Jacob’s brothers came to seek food from him. Again, Joseph was obedient to what the Lord showed him in Pharaoh’s dreams, and his brothers bowed down to him.

Joseph revealed his identity to them in their second visit, and ultimately invited Jacob and his whole family, 75 persons, to come to Egypt. And they all bowed down to him.

Thus, the line of Abraham survived the famine. It was because Joseph was obedient to God, and God’s purpose was worked (Genesis 50:19-20).

Verses 17-19  — And Abraham’s descendants multiplied, just as the Lord had promised.

But a new Pharaoh came into power in Egypt — an Assyrian (Isaiah 52:4). He did not know about Joseph saving all Egypt during the famine. He mistreated them. He commanded them to let their newborn sons die of exposure.

Verses 20-28 — But Moses was hidden, and brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter after being nursed by his mother for three months, and was educated as an Egyptian.

At age 40, he learned he was a Hebrew and went to see his brethren. He murdered an Egyptian who abused them. He believed this was the means for God to give them deliverance, but the people disowned him! Again, repudiation and rejection!

Verses 29-34 — He fled to Midian and lived there 40 years. But then God called him from the burning bush, to go and rescue His people out of Egypt. This was the Moses who was disowned by the Jews!

Verses 35-38 — A note on Verse 35, about the angel Stephen refers to, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. The word “angel” is used not only for heavenly beings, but for the presence of the Lord. So the Lord spoke to him, just according to the text in Exodus 3.

In Verse 38, Stephen reminds the Sanhedrin that the one the Jews rejected was the one who led them out of Egypt! He did wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea. Even when they would not believe but rejected God’s promise and listened to the bad reports of 10 of the 12 who went in to spy out the land (Numbers 13:25-33), and even in their wilderness wanderings, the Lord used Moses to take care of them. Again, unbelief and rejection of the Lord and His servant!

Verses 39-41 — Stephen reveals the truth of God’s Word to those who know the Old Testament so well. Our fathers were UNWILLING to be obedient to Moses, REPUDIATED him, and turned their hearts back to Egypt! It is the history of Israel’s rejection of the God who called them out as His people! They wanted other gods, and commanded Aaron to make them an idol.

Verses 42-43 — It was just as Amos prophesied in Amos 5:25-26 to northern Israel/Samaria, long after they had entered the Promised Land. They offered sacrifices not to the Lord but to idols, in the wilderness, for 40 years! They brought their false gods with them, out of Egypt. They rejected the Lord!

Amos 5:25   “Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel? 26 “You also carried along Sikkuth your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves.”

And indeed, He would remove His people from the land, into exile!

Verses 44-47 — Stephen goes on with the history of Israel — Joshua, David, and then Solomon, who built the temple in Jerusalem. They were faithful to accomplish what the Lord commanded them to do (though Solomon later fell).

Verses 48-50 — But the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. It’s a quote from Isaiah 66:1-2, where the Lord says He looks to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at His word.

Are you humble and contrite in spirit? Do you tremble at His word?

Verses 51-53 — Stephen’s recounting of Israel’s failures to believe had already stirred up the Sanhedrin. Now he speaks to them directly —

— You men! You!

— Who are stiff-necked (who do not bow to the Lord) and uncircumcised of heart AND ears (their hearts and ears are not tender toward the Lord, but thickly covered over)!

— Are ALWAYS resisting the Holy Spirit. From the beginning! You have, and you are doing just as your fathers did, just as I have reminded you!

— Your fathers persecuted ALL the prophets the Lord sent. They killed (murdered) those who had previously announced the coming Messiah, the Righteous One (see Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:35).

— And you have become His betrayers and murderers!

— You who received the law as ordained by angels, but did not keep it.

[Again, the Law was given to Moses by the Lord, by the Lord’s presence on Sinai. In no way do Stephen’s words indicate that angels somehow mediate the Law. We have one Mediator, Jesus Christ, per 1Timothy 2:5!]

— You received the Law from the Lord, but did not keep it! These who dot every “i” and cross every “t,” who look good on the outside but are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:27).

Verse 54 — So the members of the Sanhedrin are cut to the quick (Acts 5:33) and gnash (grate) their teeth, evidence of their intense anger!

Verses 55-56 — But Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit. He gazes intently into heaven, and sees God’s glory and Jesus standing at the right hand of God! Jesus stood to honor his faithful servant, Stephen, for Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. And Stephen describes what he sees!

Verses 57-58 — They cry out, cover their ears, and all of them rush at him, and drive him out of the city, and stone him. And young Saul (whose Roman name is Paul) is a witness. They lay their ceremonial robes at Saul’s feet so they will not be spattered with blood.

Verse 59-60 — They continue to stone Stephen, while he calls out and says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”

Then he falls on his knees and cries out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”

They were ignorant, after all. Peter said so, in Acts 3:17. Paul speaks of it, that they are ignorant because of the hardness of their hearts (Ephesians 4:18). Then, Stephen falls asleep — he dies.

The Jewish leaders had yet again resisted the Holy Spirit, spurned and repudiated Stephen, who spoke from God by the Holy Spirit, and continued on in their ignorance and anger toward the church.

Are these things so today, among those who profess Jesus Christ? Yes! John Wesley, a theologian par excellence and ordained in the Church of England was rejected, repudiated and disowned by them when God revealed to Wesley that He is able to (and will, for whosoever will ask Him) circumcise and purify a human heart and fill it with His perfect love!

And it is the same today In much of the church, many hold to a form of godliness, but they deny, abnegate, reject, and disavow its dunamis, its miracle working power, and the Holy Spirit who wields it, through His servants. Lord, help us!

We will see more of Saul/Paul next week, in Session 15!

JESUS, THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!

[SW291] 08/04/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

“Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life”

Text: John 14:1-14

How many of you want to get to heaven? You can’t get where you want to go unless you know the Way! You need GPS — a God Positioning System, or even better, a God Positioning Savior!

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life! Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift (2Corinthians 9:15)!

He is the Way! There was no way, until Him! There is no other way to reach heaven than to believe He is who He says He is. He opened heaven to whosoever will believe!

He is the Truth, the very embodiment of truth, the One who is Faithful and True (Revelation 3:4, 19:11), and in the entire chapter of John 14, He shows us all of the truth that we need, as followers of Him. We will look at Verses 15-31 next time.

And He is the Life, the One from whom we receive eternal life — life as God has it, here and now, and there and then.

Hallelujah!

Verse 1 — The disciples had followed Jesus for three-and-a-half years. They had heard His words that came from God, and they had seen His works that could only be done by  God. Jesus has just told His disciples that they cannot come where He is going (John 13:33), and He has told Peter that he would deny his Master three times (John 13:38). So their hearts are troubled (stirred, agitated)!

What does Jesus do? He gives them an amazing and seemingly impossible command. NOT your heart be troubled! (There’s no “let” in the original Greek.)

Believe in God, believe also in Me, that I am who I say I am!

Beloved, your heart will not be troubled if you truly believe in God and in Jesus Christ!

Verses 2-3 — In My Father’s house are many dwelling places (mansions). If it wasn’t so, He wouldn’t have said it.

He tells them that He goes to His Father’s house to prepare a place (a position, a home) for them, and you and me.

And if He goes to prepare a place, He will come again and receive (take unto Himself) them, and you and me. He will take us to His Father’s house.

But you cannot get where you want to go unless you know the Way.

Verses 4-5 — He says they (and we) know the way (the means, the mode) to where He is going — the Father’s house.

But Thomas doesn’t understand. The disciples do not know where He is going, so how could they know how to get there?

Thomas was still supposing that Jesus Christ would be an earthly king who would free them from Roman rule and sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Where is your Father’s house? In what city or place was the Father located? And if He did not tell them the physical location He was going to next, how would they know how to get there?

Verse 6 — So Jesus makes it clear to them and you and me. I AM! I am the voice from the burning bush in Exodus 3:14! I am God the Son!

I AM the way, and the truth, and the life!

#1 — The way: Again, He is the only way to enter His Father’s house (heaven). Only He is the means, the mode. There is no other way.

The way to the Father’s house is opened to you when you believe He is who He says He is, and repent (turn from your sin), and ask Him to forgive you. Then He will and save you from God’s wrath, and make the way for you to enter heaven. Had there been another way, surely God would not have sacrificed His Son on a cross. Why would He do that, if there were many ways? Oh, Jesus Christ is the way!

#2 — The truth:  All that He speaks is truth, for He is the complete and perfect embodiment and expression of God’s truth, far superior to any truth man can reach by natural means through man’s own intellect. God has made foolish the wisdom of the world (see 1Corinthians 1:20).

#3 — The life:  Not life as you knew it from the time you were born, for that is natural life, it is life that will end with the death of your body someday. But it is His eternal life, His zoe, life as God has it, here and now, and there and then!

Jesus says, No one comes to the Father but through Me. No one! Again, there is no other means or mode to come to God the Father, the one true God.

No good works can be done to qualify you for heaven.

Prayers to whatever god you have been worshiping will not qualify you for heaven.

Meditation as Eastern religions teach will not qualify you for heaven.

The only mode, the only means, is to believe Jesus Christ is who He says He is, repent, and ask Him to forgive you.

Verse 7 — He says to His disciples, If you had known Me (Greek ginosko, to know absolutely, indicating a holy, intimate relationship), He says they would have known (ginosko) My Father also.

He says, from now on you know Him and have seen Him. In John 14:15-31, He will tell them, and you and me, how to know Him this way!

Verse 8 — Philip also does not understand. Show us the Father, he says, and it will be enough. But Jesus is God the Son. And Philip says he has not seen His Father yet. He has no spiritual insight, despite following Jesus for 3-1/2 years.

Beloved, it is possible to follow Jesus faithfully, as Philip and Thomas did, but not know Him or the Father intimately or completely, so as to know Them intimately.

It is far beyond crying out to Him for help in time of need! It is Him in you! Then you will know Him, and the Father — you will know them by experiencing them in you.

Verse 9 — So, Jesus rebukes Philip. Have I not been so long with you, and you still have not come to know Me?

After all of the miracles that only God could do, and all of the words that God the Son spoke in the wisdom of God and not man — still, Philip did not see?

He points out Philip’s need. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. So, Philip, why do you say, Show us the Father? He shows Philip his need.

The writer of Hebrews says this —

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . .

[NOTE: So He is not the Father, because He will sit down at the Father’s right hand. He is the Son who completely represents the Father’s nature, His character and personality.]

Verse 10 — Do you not believe that I am literally in the Father, and the Father is literally in Me? Don’t you recognize His words coming from Me? I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father who dwells in Me does His works through Me.

Verse 11 — And if you don’t believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, believe because of all the works themselves. If you do not believe My words, believe because of all the works He has done through Me!

Verse 12 — Jesus now begins speaking of the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4), by Whom we will fully know and unwaveringly believe.

Truly, truly! Beloved, this is an essential truth and a promise He gives to you, if you believe in Him  —

You will do the works I do, He says. You will do GREATER than these (the ones I have done while on the earth)! Why? Because I go to the Father.

What happened when He went to the Father? He was glorified! Then His Father gave the Spirit (John 7:39). No one was filled with the Spirit but Jesus, when He walked the earth!

So, when we are filled with His Spirit, we are able to do GREATER than He did when He walked the earth! This is the GREATER:  We are able to impart the Spirit to others, just as in the Book of Acts (see Acts 9:17, Acts 19:6, and many other passages)!

Verses 13-14 — When you and I are filled with the Holy Spirit, whatever we ask in Jesus’ name (having His nature and character in us), He will do. And when He does what you ask in His name, the Father will be glorified because you will be the proof, and the works you do will be the proof, that the Father indeed sent His Son!

He tells His disciples they have not asked for anything in His name (John 16:23). They cannot, because they do not yet have His nature and character in them. But they will at Pentecost!

Again, Jesus says, if you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it! If you think that means money and cars and houses and jobs, then your self interest and ulterior motives are evident, and you need to repent!

But if you stand before Him, having His Spirit in you, then you will have His character and nature, and you will ask for things that will glorify Him and your Father, and that will bring many to salvation, and to being filled with the Spirit!

Next time, we will look at His words about the promise of the Spirit, who will be better than having Jesus walk beside you, on this earth!

So, do you know the Way? Have you seen the truth? Do you have His eternal life in you?

If not, come now, for He will surely receive you and forgive you if you come humbly, with a repentant heart.

Have you seen the Father in Jesus? Do you know that He is God the Son? Then blessed are you! Now you are prepared for His promise!

SESSION 13 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

Review of the study thus far:

— Jesus’ briefing on the Holy Spirit in John 14-17

— The promise for which they were to wait

— Fulfilled in Acts 2

— Peter’s sermon, boldly speaking their sin and Christ’s resurrection, and 3,000 come to Christ

— The beggar born lame is healed, Peter speaks again of Christ’s resurrection and their sin, and 5,000 come to Christ

— Peter, John and the beggar are brought before the Sanhedrin

— Do not speak this name or do anything in this name

— Should we obey God or you? You be the judge!

—We cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard

— The bond-servants of the Lord ask for greater boldness to speak,

and God answers their prayer!

— Contrast between Barnabas, who gives all, and Ananias and Sapphira, who lie about their offering, and the consequences.

— The apostles are arrested. The angel who frees them delivers this message: Go! Stand! Speak all the words of this Life! And they did, and were arrested again!

— Sanhedrin cut to the quick, Gamaliel’s advice to let them be, for if it is of God, they may find themselves fighting against God! The Apostles, flogged and released, rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer as Jesus did.

Now, Session 13 — Acts 6:1-15

Verse 1 — There was some concern that the Hellenistic Jewish widows were being discriminated against. These would be “widows indeed,” per Paul in 1Timothy 5:3 and forward.

They are disregarded and neglected compared with the Hebrew widows, NOT receiving their daily allowance of aid, which is according to the Law handed down to Moses by the Lord —

Deuteronomy 10:18 “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”

Hellenists were Jews but born in other countries controlled by Greece. Thus, they had adopted the Greek language and culture (the world standard at that time), rather than Hebrew language and culture.

Verse 2 — So how does the church react? The Twelve call the multitude of disciples, and present their plan to them all.

It is displeasing for them to neglect the word of God (that is, proclamation of it) in order to serve tables. I believe it displeased God, because He has called them to proclaim the gospel, and tending to the widows is distracting them from their calling. No blame is assigned, but change is needed.

Oh, would that our leaders call everyone in the churches together to say they must not neglect the proclamation of the gospel, so they need help with the daily matters of the church!

Would that the congregation would respond, understanding the importance of this calling upon their leaders!

Would that the leaders not pursue TV, sports, movies, video gaming, youtube, and other distractions of these times, but rather, focus entirely on what God has called them to do!

Verse 3 — The widows must be properly served. So, put some from among yourselves to work, to make sure all widows are served equally. What are the requirements for this menial service? Someone who is popular? Someone who has a lot of money? Someone who has the gift of hospitality? Not at all! Then and now, here are the requirements:

— Seven men (women serve as we go on in the Book of Acts)

— Of good reputation (they live what they speak)

— Full of the Spirit and wisdom (the wisdom of God is in view here)

Two things to note: 1) The Lord, from whom the Twelve take their orders, requires a Christian to be filled with the Spirit to do even the most seemingly menial task;

and 2) the Twelve ask the disciples to select Spirit-filled men, which means some of the church must not yet be Spirit-filled. That explains why prejudice is shown toward the Hellenistic widows. Being filled with the Spirit rids us of prejudice, beloved.

Would that everyone in the church be filled with the Spirit, so they would meet the requirements for serving in even the most menial work, all the way up to lay leaders and board members, pastors and bishops!

Verse 4 — While the seven serve widows, the Twelve will devote themselves, “to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” They will pray, though they are full of the Holy Spirit. What do they pray? For open hearts, for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and for continual increase of their own understanding as they grow in grace and in the knowledge of God!

I tell you, many of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers of today do not have prayer lives, and confess it at conferences!

And ministry of the word? Many use their pulpits as “bully pulpits” for political, societal and other worldly discussions.

Many have memorized the Word of God, but twist it to fit the demands of their congregations and audiences. They do not follow Paul’s command to Timothy —

2Timothy 4:1   I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

1Timothy 4:1   But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons . . .

Verse 5 — The whole multitude of disciples approves, and chooses —

Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit

And six others, including a proselyte (a convert to Judaism)

Verse 6 — The Apostles pray and lay their hands on the seven, thus imparting authority to them, agreeing with the Holy Spirit that these men are called to be sent out to minister.

We will see this many times in the Book of Acts, both when being filled with the Holy Spirit as part of the Spirit’s baptism (see Paul in Acts 19:6), and for sending out (see Acts 13:3).

Verse 7 — During all of this, the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, keeps on spreading, the number of disciples increases greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests (those of the 24 divisions in 1Chronicles 24:7 and forward, and like Zecharias in Luke 1:5) become obedient to the faith. Hallelujah!

Selah! Pause and think about it! Priests and Levites BECAME obedient to the faith. They had been disobedient, rejecting Jesus as the Christ. But now they obeyed (heeded) and believed the truth! A great many! These knew the Law, but are now convinced that Jesus has risen and is the Christ!

Verse 8 — And Stephen, full of grace (the Greek word charis, the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life) and power (dunamis, miracle-working power, the very power of God), was performing great wonders and signs among the people.

Wait! He was supposed to just serve widows. But how could he not minister to  those he met along the way? When you are filled with the Spirit, He ministers through you while you are performing your other duties!

Stephen is: 1) full of the Spirit and wisdom, per Verse 3; 2) full of faith and the Holy Spirit; and 3) full of grace and power. Wisdom, faith, grace and power are hallmarks of a Spirit-filled believer! They are FULL!

Verses 9-10 — PERSECUTION is to be expected, if you are a Spirit-filled believer. This time, it is the Synagogue of the Freedmen, and includes many who were born in Grecian-controlled parts of the known world.

They argue with Stephen (we will see the nature of the argument shortly, in Verses 11-13).

BUT . . . They are unable to “cope with,” my NAS Bible says. A poor translation! The Greek word means resist or withstand!

Jesus’ promise is fulfilled:

Luke 21:12   “But before all these things (signs of His return), they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance (literally, a mouth) and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.”

The Spirit-filled Stephen is about to have an opportunity to give testimony, and the Spirit has given and will yet give him words and wisdom which none of his opponents will be able to resist or refute! The Lord is faithful!

Verses 11-14 — So these men induce men to lie by saying Stephen has blasphemed Moses and God. As with those who persecuted Jesus, they falsely believe that he contradicts the Law of Moses, given by God.

The Synagogue of the Freedmen  stir up the people, the elders, and the scribes. They drag Stephen away and bring him before the Sanhedrin. They put forth false witnesses, saying Stephen constantly speaks against the Temple and the Law. They claim that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy the Temple and change their customs, handed down by Moses.

Verse 15 — Everyone fixes their gaze on Stephen. They gaze intently at him. What do they see?

Stephen’s face is like the face of an angel. There is a radiance, because God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are in him. He is filled with the Spirit, filled with God’s glory, His kabod, His weighty glorious presence!

It is just as the Lord spoke, through the prophet Isaiah —

Isaiah 60:1  “Arise, shine; for your light has come,

And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

2  “For behold, darkness will cover the earth

And deep darkness the peoples;

But the Lord will rise upon you

And His glory will appear upon you.

3  “Nations will come to your light

And kings to the brightness (radiance) of your rising (shining).

Is it so with you? Are you full of the Spirit and wisdom, full of faith, grace and power? That is the description of a servant of the living God, since Pentecost has come.

Do you have a mouth and wisdom which no one can resist or refute, when you are accused and persecuted for your faith?

Have you had your own personal Pentecost? Our Lord Jesus Christ commands it, because He knows you cannot serve Him unless you have been baptized and filled with His Spirit.

Cry out to Him now, and ask Him to fill you! He will do it!

 

JESUS, LORD AND SERVANT

[SW290] 07/28/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

“Jesus, Lord and Servant”

Text: John 13:1-17

Jesus Christ is Lord and Teacher, but He is also a Servant — first to God, His Father, and then to us. But as with every physical act He does, His serving has a life-changing spiritual meaning and effect!

Verse 1 — Jesus knows! He knows perfectly! What a great truth! He was not at all surprised by what was about to happen. Jesus had told His disciples over and over that He would be arrested, tried, and crucified AND arise on the third day.

And now the time was very near — the Passover at which our Passover Lamb would be sacrificed so you and I could receive forgiveness of past sins, reconciliation to God the Father, and eternal life!

HALLEUJAH!

Jesus Christ’s hour had come, when He would be Servant to His Father, by obeying Him and completing the work the Father sent Him to do. And He would serve you and me, by taking upon Himself the punishment we deserved for our sin.

Jesus knew! He knew perfectly! He knew was about to depart out of this world, and go to His Father. He had loved His own (His disciples), who were in the world.

And now that the completion of His assignment was about to be accomplished, He loved His disciples to the uttermost — completely. His love was not human love — it was agape, God’s actual love, the same love with which God loves His Son!

In what way did God the Son demonstrate His love? In a most unlikely and unexpected way!

Verse 2 — It happened at the Last Supper. Judas Iscariot was about to betray Jesus, the devil having already put it in his heart to do it.

Verse 3 — And Jesus knew! He knew perfectly! He knew who He was. God the Son. And He knew that the Father had given all things into His hand (that is, Jesus had all power and authority)! He knew He had come forth from God, and was about to go back to Him.

Verse 4 — So what was this unlikely and unexpected expression of God’s actual love by the One who has all power and authority? And what does it mean to you and me?

Let Paul tell you —

Philippians 2:5  Have this attitude  in yourselves which was also in  Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He  existed in the  form of God,  did not regard equality with God a thing to be  grasped (hang onto as if it was stolen treasure), 7 but   emptied Himself (made Himself of no reputation), taking the form of a  bond-servant [one who serves out of love], and  being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man,  He humbled Himself by becoming  obedient to the point of death, even  death  on a cross.

Emptied Himself. Humbled Himself. A bond-servant. So, He demonstrated God’s actual love to the uttermost by giving the disciples, and you and me, a clear lesson on what it is to “have this attitude in (Greek: be of the same mind) yourselves.”

Empty yourself. Humble yourself. Become a bond-servant of Jesus Christ. This is a picture of selflessness, the opposite of the self interest/ulterior motives which we saw in Judas, in some of the disciples, in the crowd, and in the Jewish leaders in John 12.

And the ulterior motives were evident in all of the Twelve as they argued over who was the greatest and vied for choice places at the Lord’s right and left hand in what they supposed would be His earthly kingdom (see Luke 9:46 and 22:24, and Matthew 20:21). Jesus’ rebuke —

Matthew 23:11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”

What selfless act of agape did Jesus show them, and you and me, to teach us?

He laid aside His garments, took a towel, and girded it tightly around his body. Only the very least, the very lowest of servants was assigned to wash the mire from the streets off the feet of dinner guests.

And I tell you, in the same way that He laid aside His clothing in this verse, to serve His disciples, He laid aside His glorious position at the right hand of God, and obediently did what His Father sent Him to do — He died on a cross! To serve who? You! Me!

Verse 5 — God the Son poured water into a basin. He washed the disciples feet. He dried them with the towel around His waist.

Only He can cleanse you. But why did He cleanse their feet? Keep reading!

Verses 6-7 — He came to Simon Peter, to wash his feet, but Peter objected. Why should His Lord and Teacher demean Himself in such a way?

But Jesus said Peter didn’t realize (Greek: fully understand right now) why Jesus was washing His disciples’ feet. But later, Peter would fully understand, in the upper room where he was staying with the 120, in Acts 2.

When Peter did the same, offering himself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing (Romans 12:1), he would understand (know by experiencing).

When Peter died in that way, so Christ could live in him (Galatians 2:20), he would understand.

Verse 8 — But because he didn’t understand YET, Peter said, “Never!”

Jesus said he MUST allow Him to wash His feet, or Peter would have no part with Him. He could not be Jesus’ disciple, His follower, unless he allowed Jesus to wash his feet.

So, in order to be His disciple, even before you are able to fully understand why, you MUST ask Him to cleanse you from all of your past sins, by His precious blood —

1John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Here’s why I say, “past sins” —

Romans 6:1    What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2  May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

Verse 9 — Peter reversed course at Jesus’ words. He wanted Jesus to wash him completely — head, hands, and feet.

Verses 10-11 — But Jesus said Peter had already bathed, so he was already clean, but not all of the disciples were clean (referring to Judas, His betrayer, who did not heed Jesus’ words).

Jesus said Peter’s body was clean, but his feet needed washing.

How had Peter been made clean in all areas but his feet? He had been cleansed by the words Jesus spoke (see John 15:3). He was cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

So why did his feet need washing?

Peter could not walk (live) in the same manner as Jesus in this world (1John 2:6) until he was baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Only then would his feet be truly clean. Only then would his walk be pure.

Only then would Peter’s self interest be crucified. Only then would he become selfless, like Jesus.

Only then would he fully understand why Jesus needed to wash his feet. Only then will you fully understand, beloved.

Verse 12 — So after Jesus washed all His disciples’ feet, He took His garments and dressed. And He reclined at table, at the place He had been before He served them.

Then Jesus asked His disciples, “Do you know (know by experiencing, have absolute knowledge of) what I have done to you?”

He knew they did not YET fully understand. They could not YET see the spiritual significance of His selfless act of agape. They did not yet have His agape in them! But He also knew they would!

I tell you, after Jesus completed His work, dying naked on a cross — the most ignoble and demeaning form of execution of those days — for you and me, and after rising on the third day, He ascended into heaven and once again was clothed with the glory He had temporarily laid aside, just as He had prayed to His Father in John 17:5 —

John 17:5 “Now, Father,  glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

He sat down at the right hand of the Father, where He had been from before time began —

Hebrews 1:3  And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact  representation of His nature, and   upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made  purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the  Majesty on high . . .

Verses 13-14 — Jesus told them they rightly called Him Teacher and Lord. He is, for all who come to Him! He is greater, and we are lesser.

So, He continued, if He did it for them, then they ought to (they were required to) do it for each other.

You cannot humble yourself on a literal cross and die for someone else, like He did.

But you can deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him, to sacrifice your self-centeredness so He can live in you (Matthew 16:24, Galatians 2:20).

You can humble yourself by dying to your self interest, in order to serve Him as His witness in this world, and serve other believers, with a pure. selfless heart motive.

You cannot wash others. Each one must be washed by believing His words and believing into Him. Then they have bathed.

And no one can be purified in their walk unless they ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

But He requires you serve others in this way — to teach and exhort others, to teach His Word that will cleanse them, and exhort them to ask the Father to cleanse their walk by being filled with the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! This is what it is to be His servant!

Verse 15 — Jesus gave this as an example to His disciples, that they ought to do for each other as He did for them. “Ought” is not a suggestion, but a requirement!

It is the same for you. Humble yourself, die to your self interest, and then walk as He walked.

And by doing so, you will then demonstrate that you are filled with the actual love of God — His agape. He does not require it of just pastors and leaders. It is the requirement of every Christian. It is so much more than a literal washing of feet!

Verse 16 — Why does He speak of slaves not being greater than their master, and ones sent not being greater than the one who sent them?

Because if you object to His cleansing of you (as Peter did), do you see that you are correcting your Lord and Teacher? You, the slave (servant) are correcting your Master. You are saying you know better than He does! But you are not greater than He!

Verse 17 — If you know these things (completely, by experiencing them personally), you are blessed if you do them.

And you will gladly do them, because He has filled you with His love.

And you will be blessed by the doing, for He will be glad and you will feel His joy in you, because He is in you —

Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God is  in your midst,

A victorious warrior.

He will  exult (Hebrew: laugh) over you with joy,

He will be quiet in His love (Hebrew: renew you in His love)

He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy (Hebrew: spin    around and sing).

When you humble yourself  so others may be cleansed by His words that you speak and purified by His Spirit in whom you walk, you will be blessed spiritually! You will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

You have heard His words, the water by which you are washed. Now ask Him to wash your feet, and He will fill you with His Spirit so you do what He requires of you — to walk as He walked in this world!