Here is this weeks College/Away Bible Study...may you be blessed and encouraged by it, that's my prayer.
Encountering God’s Purpose --JN. 20:30-31
TEXT…What we just read, summarizes John’s Gospel(strategy, subject, and purpose). John uses selected works or "signs" of Jesus, that illustrate Jesus' character, His power and relate Him as the answer to our great needs. John's purpose was doctrinal, but don’t let that scare you or put you to sleep. John says that it was God’s will for him to omit many things that he could have included. John wanted to advance a greater purpose. He, not only, stated that Jesus was the Christ, the One and Only Son of God, but to present it in such a way to encourage us to believe on Jesus Christ. Why? So we might have eternal life. But isn’t this the purpose of the entire Word of God?
We, too often, use the Word to prove our point or settle our differences. But the overreaching purpose of the Bible is bring us into a healthy relationship with God…through the completed work of Jesus. The Bible was inspired, intentionally written to bring us to salvation.
I. THE INCOMPLETENESS OF SCRIPTURE, v30
Don’t get mad because I said that, because, in v30 John makes it clear that he took sections of Jesus' life on purpose. John admits that Jesus gave "many other signs" to His disciples. Only 7 of these were narrated, not including Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Each sign involved a person and showed how the power of Jesus can be applied to human life. Many witnessed Jesus performing these and like today, people respond differently. What matters is how you respond!So in John records a few of the miracles Jesus performed. This means that John witnessed much more than he wrote about. He had to be careful to follow the Holy Spirit’s direction.
There is nothing in John's Gospel about Christ's birth, His baptism, or about His selection of His Apostles. There is hardly anything about the facts of Jesus' outward life at all. There are few words about His ministry in Galilee. He includes none of Jesus parables, and only 7 of His miracles before the Resurrection, and 2 of those also occur in the other Gospels. There are hardly any of Jesus' moral teaching and not a word about the Lord's supper.
Almost half of John’s gospel is about the last week of Jesus' life, and the events after His Resurrection. We need to ask, Why is that? Why does the Gospel of John skip most of the stories included in the other Gospels? The stories of Jesus childhood and what happened between His death and His resurrection? Is it unusual that the events about the greatest life in the world's history should be told in such brief detail. Put the 4 Gospels down beside the thick volumes of today's biographies and you will see how brief the Gospels are. They are an outline or pencil drawing of God's Son. You can easily sit down and read them all in an evening, isn’t it strange that they have stamped upon the mind of the world an image so deep and so sharp, of such a character that the world can never see anywhere else? They are fragments, but they have left an immeasurable and powerful impression on the whole world.
The same is true of the entire Book. The silence of Scripture is as astounding as what it does say. How many things the Bible simply takes for granted which we would not expect to be taken for granted in a book of religious instruction. It takes for granted the being of a God, our relations to Him, our moral nature and even the future life as it says so little about what it is like. Consider with me, how the Bible, as a whole, passes by, without one word of explanation on many of the difficulties which are caused by some of its teaching. For instance, we find little attempt to explain the divine nature of our Lord; or the existence of the the Trinity. It has little to say in explanation of the mystery of prayer; or of the difficulty of reconciling the Omnipotent will of God on the one hand, with our own free will on the other.
The Scripture as a history book is also light. Nations and men appear on its pages abruptly, walking out of oblivion, and stepping to the front of the stage for a moment, and then they disappear, swallowed up again in obscurity. It’s not interested in telling the stories of its heroes, except where they were the instruments of God, the power is seen. This is not a book about Adam and Eve, Joshua and Caleb, Abraham and Moses, this is the story of God relating to us. Philosophers or theologians would have filled up. Yet, here it is, the story of God pursuing man, a Book unique in the world's history, unique in what it says, and in what it does not say. Yes, ‘Many other things' did God do that His Divine Spirit did not write in His book. Why was God's Spirit so selective?
II. THE SELECTIVE PURPOSE OF SCRIPTURE v31a
The reason for the selections and silences of Scripture is explained in v31. The signs are not the primary importance. The chief subject of the Gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "the Christ"(Messiah), "the Son of God." Christ means "Anointed One" and refers to the long expected Deliverer appointed by God, who would come to free the nation from its’ bondage. "Messiah" means the Deliverer from sin.
The title "Son of God"(1:34, 49; 5:25; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4) would appeal to the Gentile world. The idea of sonship bring together the clearest view of Jesus, the very incarnation of God Himself.
John wanted people to think and understand the significance of Jesus' miracles. Many today ignore, deny, or rationalize Jesus' miracles. Even in Jesus' day some people attributed them to God others to Satan. In Jesus day these miracles had to be dealt with. 35 different miracles are recorded in the 4 Gospels. John selected 7 for special consideration in order that people might come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, and the Son of God. This shapes the picture of God from the first words to it conclusion. But, get this, the only way this can be successful is on your acceptance of Jesus, powerfully & personally.
It’s not just about establishing the fact that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. Scripture is to convince us to individually rest our sinful soul upon Jesus Christ as our only hope. The words of the Apostles is to lead us to place our faith for salvation and life in Him. If you don’t, then Scripture has not done the work in you that it is designed to do. Is God's Word accomplishing it's purpose in your life? Have you trusted your eternal soul and life to Jesus?
III. THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF THE SCRIPTURES v31b
V31 concludes with the most amazing promise ever offered mankind. "and that believing you may have life in His name." Scripture was written so that those who continue to believe may have life, a great, glorious life! ‘Life' is deep, mystical, inexplicable by any other words than itself. It includes forgiveness, holiness, well-being, immortality, Heaven; but it is even more.
This life is not just a distant life in the heavenly, but life and life abundant here and now. This Life is connected to the person of Jesus. This life is in His name, in His being and character. This life comes into our dead hearts and changes them by union with the Living God. It flows like an mighty river from Jesus' disciples down through time. Everything that is joined to God lives. Everything that is separated from God dies. You can separate your will and your spiritual nature from Him, but separated from Him you are ‘dead in trespasses and in sins.'
There is not contentment, no fullness of joy, no confidence in the future…apart from Him, who was and is. Do you believe in Him, and trust yourself to Him? Do you trust in Him as the Son of God who comes down to earth that we in Him might find the immortal life which He is ready to give? THIS IS
THE ENCOUNTER YOU NEED FROM GOD.
You may admire Him, you may think loftily about Him, you may be ready to call Him by many great and appreciative names, but unless you have learned to call on Him as the divine Savior of your soul, you have not seen what God means you to see. When you do believe, then all other questions about this Book, will settle themselves. Is Jesus to you the Son of the Living God? Has your believing on Him brought you new life? Can you say out of a thankful heart that triumphant and powerful confession of Thomas, ‘My Lord and my God'? If you can, you have been, you are and you will be blessed, no matter the circumstances, no matter the events, no matter the station in life. For when you have Jesus…you…have…life, now and forever.
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God's right hand.
— Acts 7:55 nlt
Stephen had been chosen to serve widows because he was full of the Spirit. Stephen had spoken the truth of Jesus in the face of great hostility by the power of the Spirit. Stephen had warned those who opposed his words to not resist the Spirit like their ancestors before them. And now, when the enemies of truth had stoned the life out of Stephen's body, we are told an amazing truth: the same Holy Spirit who had shaped Stephen's life in this world was now letting him see over the horizon of history and see the Lord Jesus in glory. How important is the Holy Spirit? For Stephen, the Holy Spirit influenced, qualified, empowered, and brought home to glory this man of God! May the Spirit do the same in each of us!
O Father, be at work within me through your Holy Spirit. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Devotional provided by Heartlight®© 1996-2013. All rights reserved.
"You stubborn people! You are heathens at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That's what your ancestors did, and so do you!"
— Acts 7:51 nlt
Stephen spoke with wisdom and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Yet he knew that there was great opposition to the Jesus he proclaimed and the truth that he spoke. He also knew that this was nothing new. God's own people had consistently opposed God's servants in every age even though those servant leaders had been inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Their stubbornness made their hearts hard and their ears deaf to the truth of God. Yet it wasn't the words of Stephen and the prophets that they ultimately resisted: they resisted and rejected the Holy Spirit of God (1 Thess. 4:8). Let's be different than they were. Let's humbly ask God to use his Spirit to convict us where we need to be changed, fortify us where we need to be strengthened, to instruct us where we are ignorant, and bring hope to hearts when they are broken.
O Father, with the words of King David, I pray: "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." I ask, dear Father, that you cleanse my heart of any sin and purify my motives as I seek to serve you and never resist the influence of your Holy Spirit within me. I pray this in the name of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.