Sunday, September 25, 2011

Born Again (John 3:1-6)

(There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water, and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” ~John 3:1-6).

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, which tells us that he was a respected man held in high esteem in the land of Judea among the Jewish people, and probably a member of the council, the ruling religious authority in Jerusalem. The Pharisees, as a group of people were very strict in their adherence of the Jewish law. As bad a rap as they get they did get many things right, one of which was the resurrection of the dead, which the other ruling group at the time of Jesus, the Sadducees denied. To become a Pharisee you have to dedicate your entire life to studying “The Law and the Prophets” (The Old Testament) and strictly adhere to the law, but where the Pharisees fell short is that they thought a bunch of religious acts of self denial would earn favor with God. While on the outside they may not physically steal but would covet the things belonging to someone else. They may not physically go have sex with a woman that was not their wife but would look upon a woman with lustful desire. They had as Paul wrote to Timothy “a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). Jesus said of them “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” ~Matthew 23:27. What the Pharisee had going for him was that he wanted to be in God’s kingdom (at least a lot of them did, many of them just liked the power), but what he had against him is that they thought a man could be good enough to please God, so they made up an unbearable amount of rules on top of God’s laws to try and make sure that everyone didn’t break God’s laws and in doing that they broke God’s law.

As we study “The Gospel According to John” you will see that every time Jesus interacts with a Pharisee there is always some conflict, and in the case with Nicodemus as well. The difference between this conversation with Jesus and Nicodemus, and all the other conversations that Jesus has with the Pharisees is that Nicodemus really wanted to hear what Jesus had to say, he really came seeking answers. Nicodemus said he was old, and being a ruler of the Jews he probably was and for an older man to come and pay respect to a younger man calling Him Rabbi, that older man would have to humble himself to do so. So here comes Nicodemus saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2). Then Jesus blows Nicodemus out of the water saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Basically He just told Nicodemus, you don’t even know what you’re talking about Nicodemus, your blind, you can’t even see the kingdom of God, and you’re going to have to start all over again. Jesus said of the Pharisees “They are blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14). Nicodemus, I have to hand it to him, being an older, respected Middle Eastern man, for this young man to tell him he is blind, he held great restraint, because he really wanted to hear what Jesus had to say, the prompting of the Holy Spirit was upon him. Also Jesus answered the question that Nicodemus wanted an answer to without him even asking. Nicodemus wasn’t a Pharisee just for the sake of it, he wanted to be in the Kingdom of God, so the question, (How do I get in the kingdom of God?), was on his mind and Jesus answered it without him even asking, which I am sure startled Nicodemus and peaked his curiosity.

So Nicodemus said to Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). I don’t think that Nicodemus really thought Jesus was speaking of a physical birth; I think he knew Jesus was speaking spiritually, but what Nicodemus was saying is that it is futile. I can’t start over, I’m an old man, I have invested my whole life in following the law and study, I can’t start over again. Jesus’ next statement shows that He agreed with Nicodemus, that he can’t start over, that there is nothing that Nicodemus can do, it is God who must do it. (Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water, and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” ~John 3:5-6). This verse many take out of context and try and use it to say that a person has to be physically baptized with water to be saved. Ceremonial baptism is not what Jesus was talking about here. There was the baptism that John did after someone came to repentance and later the baptism that Christians do as a public profession of faith saying that they died to self and are raised to life in Christ. But it is still a Ceremony, baptism doesn’t save anyone, Faith alone in the blood of Jesus Christ saves!

So what was Jesus talking about? You’ve got to remember that Nicodemus is a Pharisee who has studied the Old Testament; there was no New Testament at that time. Jesus was referring to a passage in Ezekiel 36, which Nicodemus would have been well aware of. (Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. ~Ezekiel 36 25-27). What was being described by the Prophet Ezekiel and what Jesus was referring to here is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. A true transformation of a person where they truly do become a new creature by God, this isn’t something that a man can do on his own, God must do this, the Holy Spirit must do this.

You may have heard believers in Jesus Christ say before, “I hate religion.” On the surface, this may confuse you because isn’t Christianity a religion? My answer to that is yes and no; yes Christians worship God, so in the sense that we worship the God of the universe it is religion, but in the sense of ritual worship, following a bunch of rules to appease a deity and doing a bunch of good works to please that deity it is not. A man cannot please God we are law breakers before God. One of the funniest statements I hear all the time is “He or she is a good Christian.” The first step in becoming a Christian is realizing that you are not good, so the cliché’ “I’m a good Christian” is false. Saying you’re a good Christian is denying the words of Jesus Himself; He said, “No one is good but One, that is God.” (Matthew 19:17). So Jesus in His final statement in these first 6 verses of John 3 says, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). Anything that a man does is of flesh; trying to follow the law, doing good deeds to earn favor with God; that is of the flesh and is of man. Being born again is of the Spirit of God and comes from outside of us. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).

Next week John 3:7-12, thank you, and God Bless you,
Mike Peek

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Destroy This Temple (John 2:18-25)

(So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. Now when He was in Jerusalem, at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. ~John 2:18-25).

Today I am going to talk about the last 8 verses of John chapter 2 completing my memorization of John chapter 2; God has shown me much through this chapter. I have had struggles through it, but God who is always faithful has carried me through all the way. I knew when I under took this endeavor, I had no ability to do this except that which is given to me by the Holy Spirit. God has caused me to memorize these first two chapters of John and has spoken to me through them the entire way, and I thank Jesus Christ for that; I will forever have His word in my heart because of this, and I pray He will keep me going through this entire book (The Gospel According to John).

Today we continue on from last week in the temple Jesus had just gotten through running off the people who sold in the temple; oxen, sheep, doves, and the money changers all doing business in the temple. Last week I asked, why did Jesus get so mad about this? I have thought about that all week. Jesus put up with a lot of stuff from a lot of people. Just walk around today and everywhere you look there is sin, it is so prevalent in our society and was prevalent in the society of Judea during the first century. So everywhere you go all the time you are surrounded by sin and sinful people. When the Word (Jesus) walked amongst us He would have been constantly in the presence of sin and sinful people all the time, yet He dealt with it differently than He did on this occasion. I have recently been reading through the books of the Law (The Old Testament) there is one thing I have gotten out of that with certainty. God really got angry with Israel when they had no reverence for Him. Continually throughout the Old Testament the Israelites would fall away and worship other gods then God would become angry with them. Jesus is God! What was going on here in the temple was complete and total irreverence towards God. They had taken His Holy temple and made it into a common market place. There is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of people in the temple for the Passover, and the Scripture tell us that Jesus ran them all out. That is the equivalent of one man by himself with a whip running everyone out of the Dallas Cowboys stadium, that in and of itself is incredible.

So then you have the Jews, the religious leaders, the Priest, the Pharisees, and the Levite guards coming and questioning Jesus. “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” This really is a dumb question, and my guess is that they asked it because they were in shock from what He just did. They wanted a sign, He had just given them a sign, what He had just done was fulfillment of prophesy in Malachi 3. So Jesus gives them an answer, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” These very words Jesus had said, they used against Him when they wrongly tried Him before His crucifixion. He was speaking both of His body which housed His spirit, and the temple in Jerusalem itself. Jesus’ earthly ministry is sandwiched between two Passovers, and two times He cleared the temple, separated by three years. And what did they do when they crucified Jesus on the cross? They destroyed His body, and destroyed temple worship, and all sacrifices both at the same time. When Jesus on the cross breathed His last, and bowed His head, the temple Veil separating the most Holy place in the temple tore down the middle, signifying that it was available to all, and that God had departed from the temple, and it was just a few years after this that God used the Romans to destroy the temple, and there has been no temple worship or sacrifices in Israel since, for two thousand years. Jesus did raise both temples. Three days later He rose from the dead and defeated death but He also rose up the earthly temple as well. You have probably often heard the building in which a church service takes place as being the house of God, well it is not, that is totally untrue. The believer is the house of God, which houses His Holy Spirit. Every single man or women on earth who has had a saving faith in Jesus Christ (His death on the cross as payment for our sins) has received the Holy Spirit of God thereby making their own body the temple of God. Think about that for a minute and it will humble you. Your body is quite literally the temple of God on earth, if you are a believer.

Now the last three verses of John I have to tell you have left me in total shock and awe. I have learned through this process of memorizing (The gospel According to John), to look at the Word of God in terms of sentences or complete thoughts rather than in terms of verses. While the versing of the bible helps us to locate parts of the bible for study, it also hinders in that if you look at a verse as being a complete thought, when part of the thought was in the previous verse, it changes your perception of scripture. So these last three verses are really just two sentences. When I had read this before I had just missed it, because it is two sentences sandwiched between two great events; Jesus cleansing the temple, and His meeting with Nicodemus, so allow me to write them out for you again.

(Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. ~John 2:23-25).

I think that, maybe, the most eye opening, and jaw dropping, literal slap in the face of all of scripture. It says that Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men. Not some men, not just these men but all men, which includes me and you. And it says that He had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. He wouldn’t commit Himself to them, because He knew what was in man. What did Jesus think of us, and yet He willingly went to the cross for us, absolutely amazing? Let us take a look at Paul’s testimony of man.

(As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ~Romans 3:10-18).

Paul was speaking of all men, just as Jesus knew what was in man. All I can say to that is, thank God that He sent us a Savior, in His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who took our punishment on the cross for all of our sins. Repent and believe by faith in the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sins.

Mike Peek

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Clearing of the Temple (John 2:11-17)

(This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days. Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise. Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”) ~John 2:11-17.

Last week I wrote about Jesus changing water into wine and showed you how this miracle was a miracle of creation showing that this man Jesus of Nazareth was in fact the creator Himself, no man can create only God can create. And here beginning with the first sign done by Jesus showing that He was the Messiah, that He was Immanuel (God with us). And here in verse 11 the scripture tells us that His disciples (His followers) believed in Him. Verse 12 said that He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples left Cana and went to Capernaum. Capernaum was on the Sea of Galilee and it was here and around here that Jesus did much of His teaching to His disciples during the three years of His earthly ministry. Verse 13 tells us that the Passover of the Jews was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the appointed place by God for the Passover lamb to be sacrificed, and it is the sight where the true Passover Lamb provided by God Himself would be sacrificed three years later, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.

The Israelites were held in bondage in the land of Egypt, God had a plan that He told through Moses to rescue them out of Egypt. After Pharaoh had refused to let the Israelites leave after many miracles had been done by God through the hand of Moses. God told Moses to have every two households sacrifice a lamb and to put the blood of the lamb over the door post. God sent the Angel of death into the land of Egypt and commanded him to take the life of the first of everyone in the land of Egypt except for those with the blood of the lamb over the door post, the angel of death would Passover these homes. Once the Israelites had left Egypt God told Moses that they were to remember this and celebrate this event every year and it would go on for a week. For seven days they were to eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day they were to sacrifice an unblemished lamb in the place of God’s choosing, which Jerusalem was, and Jesus came for this Passover Festival.

Verse 14 tells us that Jesus came into the temple and He saw merchandising going on in the temple, animals being sold, money being exchanged. If you will read through the book of Leviticus you will get some understanding of the sacrificial system of Jerusalem, but like man always does it was corrupt. A sin offering was either a bull or unblemished lamb. For many a Jew it was a long journey to Jerusalem, many days by foot, where they were to make there atoning sacrifice. So it would be difficult to haul an animal all of that distance and then finally get to the temple and have the animal turned away as unworthy for a sacrifice. All sacrifices had to be inspected by and approved of by a Temple Priest, it had become such that if you wanted your sacrifice to be found worthy you had to buy it from the Temple and in order to buy it from the Temple you had to use the temple money which meant that you had to exchange the money you had earned at a high fee for the Temple money and then purchase an animal for sacrifice.

Verse 15 and 16 tells us that Jesus made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the Temple with their animals and pouring out the money and overturning the tables and telling the ones who sold doves “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” People that don’t know Jesus and haven’t really followed Him try to paint Him as this meek mannered nice guy. He was anything but; He was unlike any man ever to have lived. Most people take advantage of the weak and flee a bully. Jesus did the exact opposite, He would always give grace to the humble heart that admitted that they were a sinner and didn’t want to be, and to the self-righteous who thought they were good He would come down on them like a hammer. No one before or since could give a lashing like Jesus. Can you see this scene, one man with a whip of cords causes this much destruction runs off all the animals and there owners. Then He pours out the changers money and overturns their tables, can you imagine the fight one man would put up over his money much less many men and realize that it was one Man doing all this.

Why did this so anger Him? Because they were using God’s word and His house for sin. They were using God’s word and His house to steal from the people. How could you do this except for unbelief, how could anyone do this and not believe that they would have to answer to God for this. The wrath of God came upon them quickly in the God Man Jesus Christ. He is returning and when He returns He will not deal with sinners so easily. All will give an account of their life to God wither they believe in Him or not, so repent today and put your faith alone in Jesus Christ. This Passover and the incident in the Temple and the Passover three years later where Jesus would once again run the merchandisers off from the Temple bracket His public ministry.

God Bless you all,
Mike Peek

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jesus the Creator God (John 2:6-10)

(Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” ~John 2:6-10)

This is the first recorded miracle of Jesus Christ in the four gospel accounts, this miracle is special and I will show you why. There were six stone waterpots that happened to be there, which would have been in any Jewish household, because these pots were used for cleaning, so there was nothing extraordinary about the waterpots themselves. But that is what God always does; He takes the ordinary, and does the extraordinary. He did with these waterpots what He did with the Apostles, twelve ordinary men, He set out into the world, that set the world on fire, and nothing has been the same since. He took six ordinary stone waterpots and did something extraordinary, and what He did was something only God could do, He created.

Do you want to be used by God? Do you want to take part in His kingdom? Then obey Him, and you will. The servants mentioned here we know little about, but we do know that they obeyed the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And the scripture tells us, “And they filled them to the brim.” Jesus said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And the scripture tells us, “and they took it.” These servants were obedient in following the commands of Jesus Christ and they got something special for that, they witnessed the God of creation doing something only He can do. Create matter!

That is correct, this miracle is special because it is a miracle of creation, Jesus created. Man cannot create, only God can create. We, man can take matter and reshape it to look different. We can take basic elements (atoms) and through a series of chemical reactions bind those atoms to other atoms or separate atoms making a different compound, but we always have to start with the matter we are given we can never make new matter (new elements). Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And the scripture tells us that “they filled them to the brim.” Water is made up of two elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen, you must have these two elements to have water, and there must be two parts Hydrogen for every one part Oxygen, thus the Chemical symbol (H2O).

Wine occurs when you extract the juice from grapes and allow that juice to ferment. Fruit has a sugar called fructose, which is a carbohydrate. All carbohydrates (which there are many combinations of) have three parts in common; all most have these three elements: Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen. The compound fructose which is the bases for making wine is six parts Carbon, twelve parts Hydrogen, and Six parts Oxygen, (C6H12O6 ) .

So therefore, in order for the water that was filling these waterpots to become wine, the element Carbon had to be added. This miracle is a miracle of creation. In doing this miracle Jesus performed the miracle of creation in creating within these waterpots the basic element Carbon, which was not previously in the waterpots. Six carbons, combining with six water molecules, making the compound fructose, which then could be turned into wine; this my friends was a miracle of creation. In this miracle, Jesus Christ proved that He was the creator God, just as we had learned through our study of chapter one.

The scripture tells us “the master of the feast tasted the water that was made wine.” He told the bridegroom in so many words that this wine was much better than the wine that was previously set out. On this earth that God created, there are some things that are just incredible to our taste buds. Can you imagine how great this wine most have been? There are a couple of things I have taken out of this miracle and here they are.
1. Jesus is the creator God, who became as His creation, a man so that He could walk among us and with His first miracle that He performed before men established that as fact.
2. If you want to see God working, if you want to take part in what God is doing, then obey the commands of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” ~Mark 16:15. He didn’t say try to get people to come into the church or change the gospel to try to win people’s hearts. He said preach the gospel, His gospel. Man is sinful, and Jesus paid it all, so repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Mike Peek

Nursing and the Law of Christ

The Lord’s teaching recorded in John 13-21 is amazing. It is what the apostle Paul calls "the Law of Christ." (Cf. 1 Cor. 9:2...