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Bible Study – Week 7

This week at Bible study one of our members- Andrew returned after a bit of a holiday around Australia. It was good to have him back after 6 weeks.

We started off looking at the first 6 of the 39 Articles of Religion. Some interesting statements in here. I think I’ll get a series of those as we continue looking at them.

We delved into our continued study of evangelism with being beautiful. This was an interesting study, and quite hard for me to ponder and respond.

We started off reading an extract from an interview with Tim Winton, the Australian novelist and Christian, by Andrew Denton on Enough Rope. Tim tells a story of his familys interaction with Len Thomas, a man from the local church who sacrificially came to bathe Tim’s dad after being involved in bad accident where he was knocked off his police motorcycle through a factory wall.

It is through acts like these that we can show Christ’s love for non-Christians, building relationships and sharing our faith. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16:”let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” and Peter paraphrases in 1 Peter 2:12:Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

We went on to look at Titus 2:1-10:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
This is such an amazing passage that, I guess, describes the fusion of actions/behaviour with sound doctrine, or how the gospel of grace produces in believers a graciousness that points back to the gospel of grace.

So my brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage you to continue good works and service as a result of the regenerating Spirit.
To my non-Christian readers, I hope that I and other Christians you know are treating you well and that you appreciate all that they do. I hope that you will be able to glorify God on the day he visits with us.

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WORD

Offensive Original Sin

The article The very useful doctrine of original sin by Ross Allen published in The Briefing [Issue 344 – May 2007] explains how useful and practical the doctrine of original sin is, even though it may seem highly offensive to believe that all humans are basically bad.

When you think about human perception of their nature the general populous believes that humans are basically good, or at least ‘not bad’. Christians believe otherwise; they believe that people are inherently bad, and this is something that is regularly expressed in the Bible. Often referred to as the doctrine of ‘original sin’; one standard expression is found in Article IX of the Anglican Church’s Thirty-nine Articles of Religion:

Original Sin … is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh … is not subject to the Law of God.

So without God and his regenerative gospel, humans do not have any ‘understanding‘ i.e. consciousness of God’s holiness, fear of or reverence for God. Instead, we are self seeking, looking out for ourselves, and this is a basic understanding of sin; It can be seen from the nature of children right through to old men.

Practically Ross suggests the following:

  1. Original sin helps us to see ourselves more clearly, and warns us against pride and complacency
  2. When a person puts their faith in God and thus becomes a Christian they have a new standing before God, a new spiritual identity, new loyalties and new obligations. Their mindset is to please God instead of self seeking. However, whilst in this life, Christians can never be without this infectious sin. It is good to remember this problem, it will help us to confess our complete reliance on God.

  3. Original sin helps up see others more clearly, and relate to them better
  4. This helps us to realise that when others stumble or mistreat us that this is also a problem of infectious sin. We are instructed to respond with love and prayer by Jesus rather than in a way that would be sinful and/or judgemental.

  5. Original sin helps us better understand the world around us
  6. The Australian governmental system is partially based on original sin. Recognising that both those who govern and those who are being governed have sinful tendencies. Recognition of this dismal truth is the starting point for providing a system that has at least some chance of providing fairness and accountability.

  7. Original sin helps us realise the need for spiritual transformation
  8. When a person becomes a Christian the natural order becomes reversed; rather than being someone naturally inclined towards evil, with a capacity to do good, they have a God-given inclination to do good with a lingering capacity to do evil.

I’d mostly agree with what Ross says in his article, however there are a few points of information to be raised. The 4th practical point seems less so; I feel that rather than being someone that is naturally inclined to do good, a Christian is less inclined to do evil, or has the God-given mindset to resist it more often. In my experience, I still think of evil things, many of them are quite horrific even, but the will and ability to act on them is less influential than when I wasn’t a Christian, or was a less mature Christian. Instead I want to be doing things that please God and are in service of others, rather than self-seeking.
The term ‘good‘ for a Christian can be mis-leading…. It’s hard to find a substitute word, but if I had to, holy would be my pick of the bunch.

What do you think of original sin?? Does it influence your life?? How about your attitude towards others??

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WORD

Bible Study – Term 2

So far this term I’ve not mentioned what we’ve been doing in Bible Study, unlike last term. Here’s a quick catch-up:

We’ve also been starting off the night reading a range of articles based on current topics that may have come up within the group. This has been a rather interesting part of the night. We’ve read the following articles, and I’m planning on posting up a summary and thoughts on some of them.

  • Rewards in the Age to Come by Tim Thorburn
  • Getting to the heart of the Hillsong worship ‘revolution’ by Peter Collier
  • Between here and eternity by Tim Patrick
  • On the dangers of Christian shorthand: ‘Going to heaven’ by Christopher Ash
  • The very useful doctrine of original sin by Ross Allen – Summary: Offensive Original Sin

Being able to read these articles has I suppose given me some perspective on what’s been happening around Christian circles, whereas I doubt these topics or issues would have been a blip on my radar previously. Mike believes we’re an influential part of 7fifteen, so it’s good to think about things in a wider sense, both to shape the current structure moving forward, and also to guard against things which could potentially harm.

Our main line of study is Evangelism. Mike has been writing some studies based on about 5 resources which have helpful and less helpful parts to them, leaving us with the best bits of all. The last 5 topics we’ve gone through are:

  1. God’s Glory – Basically the Why
  2. Love
  3. Prayer
  4. Money
  5. Connect

in conjunction with the topics, we’ve had memory verses, similar to the ones from 2 ways to live.

So there’s the catch-up. Regular posts coming up after the weekly study.
What have you been looking at in the bible?? Are your studies engaging and interesting??

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DIARY MUSIC WORD

The Week Ahead

Mundane Monday off to a flying start!!

Listening to a random selection from several albums:

  • Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
  • London Elektricity – Syncopated City
  • London Elektricity – Billion Dollar Gravy
  • Mistabishi – Drop
  • Cicada – Cicada
  • Gift – 3

Diary is looking quite busy for the week. So far I’m booked in for:

  • Steak Dinner at West Ryde for Hamish’s Birthday today.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAMISH!!!

  • Bible Study on Tuesday night
  • Thursday Lunch at World Square Pub with City St Paulians
  • Work Social on Friday night, we’re having a poker night
  • MANDAY on Saturday at church. We’ll be hearing from Geoff Hall, James Moore and James Warren on Paul, a man that suffered much for the sake of the Gospel
  • Hamish’s 21st on Saturday night
  • Church on Sunday night. It’s a guest night with a guest speaker

Hoping to drop my new CHONGLAND theme in some time mid-week, it’s mostly finished, but I’m having issues getting some aesthetics looking pretty….

And from my reading this morning: Psalm 136

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

A great reminder to pray and thank God for the great love that He shows to us. I’m also reminded of the love that He showed in the sacrifice of Jesus.

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DIARY

The Status of CHONGLAND

Good Morning Blogosphere!!

Apologies for the neglect and lack of blog posts…. Things have been pretty hectic of late, resulting in a lack of time to complete blog posts…. (I have about 5 draft posts sitting here to be completed….)

So what’s been taking up my time and energy??

  • I’ve been coming to work early (getting in between 7 and 7:30am) because my sister is catching an earlier train due to her job demanding longer working hours. I’ve decided that the loving thing to do for my dad is to go at the same time as her so he doesn’t have to make 2 taxi runs to the train station…
  • I’ve been working on the SaltYouth site. It’s now in its second skin and hopefully staying that way for a few months, at least until the lead-up to AWESOME: their annual youth camp in October
  • Just the general flow of life, being up and down….

I am hoping to get the ball rolling again now that things are more complete….
As for the content?

  • Bible Study coverage will still be a feature, I’m enjoying the time I spend with the group and the things we’re discussing…
  • I fear the Mighty Kites coverage may drop off…. The new look team isn’t providing a great write up… the first two games of the winter competition we’ve consecutively scored 18 points, but the opposition has clocked up 45 and 58 respectively…. Plus my Meniscus/Knee still haunts me and I doubt I’ll play until mid June…
  • Music should be getting a good plug as well, I’ve promised many album reviews, but provided little…. And there so much great music I’m enjoying that I’d love to share with you all

I am working on yet another visual metamorphosis of this site, which I hope to get up soon.
I’m aware that my readership is generally reading via RSS, but for those of you that do drop by the site, I’d like to know what you think of the sidebar; that thing that sits over there -> ->.
Do you find it useful?? Do you have an account setup to login to and see how many comments you’ve made?? I’m thinking of ditching it, or refining it and it’s position, plus moving the b-sides back into the everyday blog….

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DIARY WORD

Rudd can affect Holiness

Today I bought a new Bible!!!! I’m excited!!! It set me back a whack of pennies, but seeing as my Ruddy Money has rolled in, I thought it was a good way to help the economy, as well as benefiting myself and hopefully others in the process. The result is a genuine leather ESV study bible… Not quite the calfskin version that I competed for, but the contents are the drawcard here. I’ve been encouraged by The Boomer in his posting and reading that I wanted to achieve even a fraction of his diligence in the Word, and being spurred on by the Spirit and by Mike Ev through Ephesians.

How will/have you use your Ruddy Money?? Are you consistently immersing yourself in the Word?? And who/what encourages you to do so?

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WORD

Bible Study – Week 7 (Luke 16 – 18)

This week we changed up the location to Jason’s flat on account of the family von Everett down and out with gastro or some variation thereof.
This week we met Rach and Alfie before gender splitting and reading Luke 16 – 18.
We men discussed the following points, mainly questions, in this section:

  • Does this mean that we should throw child molesters into the sea? When referring to Jesus said to his disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to the person through whom they come. It would be better for him to have a mill-stone tied round his neck and be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Watch yourselves closely. …”
  • An intense and surprising question to kick us off, I think it caught us all out for a second or two. It was a misinterpretation of the passage taking “little ones” to literally mean children in the sense of kids. This term could mean any number of things but is more likely referring to children of God, young Christians or those Christians being led astray.

  • What is the meaning behind this parable of the manager? (Ch 16)
  • Summary of the parable is the manager does wrong to his master/rich man and is fired, he decides to set himself up by reducing customers’ debts so that they will help him out in the future. Jesus finishes the parable with this: “Now the master commended the unrighteous manager because he had acted cleverly, because the sons of this age are more cunning than the sons of light when it comes to dealing with their own kind. And so I tell you, make friends for yourselves with unrighteous wealth so that when it fails, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.”
    This is definitely a confusing and hard to interpret part of the bible. We came up with a few different ways that this could have been applied, all of which more or less fit, but nothing solid, the most prominent one being supported by D.A. Carson, telling us that the manager used resources under his control to prepare for his future. Another interesting action was to befriend those that posess this unrighteous wealth, in the hope that when it falls away/fails, they will turn to God and may be the ones welcoming you into heaven… I think it seems to fit in a little better overall, not brilliantly or neatly, but better…

  • “Watch yourselves closely. If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a single day, and seven times turns back to you and says, ‘I repent’, then you must forgive him.”
  • This was something that we were sorry for not doing, and we were challenged to do so.

  • In the parable of the 10 lepers (Ch 17), when is the one leper ‘rescued’ by his faith?? And what of the other nine?
  • The parable reads: On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing through the border region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one particular town, they met ten lepers, standing at a distance. The lepers called out, “Jesus, Master, be merciful to us!”
    And when Jesus saw them, he replied, “Go and show yourselves to the priests”. And while they were going, they were made whole.
    When one of them realised tat he had been healed, he came back, honouring and praising God in a loud voice. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.
    Jesus responded, “Weren’t there ten who were made clean? Where are the other nine? Did none come back and give honour and praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Stand up, and go on your way. Your faith has rescued you.”

    There is a distinction between rescued and healed, which was the confusion behind the question. There are a few important points to pick up on :

    1. That this leper that returns is a Samaritan, a sworn enemy of the Jews.
    2. That he responds with praise and honour.

  • It is interesting how the Kingdom of God is described throughout these chapters
  • it is announced, difficult to enter and not able to be closely observed as to it’s arrival, but is in the midst of us.

  • A certain leader asked him, “Good teachers, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”. Jesus said to him, “Why do you speak of me as ‘good’? No-one is good except God alone. …”
  • An interesting way for Jesus to subtly explain his oneness with God, He doesn’t doubt his being good, only diverts the focus to God.

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WORD

Bible Study – Week 6 (Luke 13 – 15)

This week our members were delayed due to some horrible traffic on the roads. Yet we still kicked off roughly around 7, with some people still eating dinner. We started with testimonies meeting Megan and myself. After that we had a gender split to look at this weeks chapters.
Our guys discussions went along these lines:

  • What does the Kingdom of God actually mean and what is the meaning of the parable of the mustard seed: So he (Jesus) said, “What is the kingdom of God like and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and threw into his garden. It grew and became and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
  • This seemed more difficult to answer than it should have been, we seemed to avoid the actual questions and dug around for a fair while, touching back to the questions at hand. In the end we agreed that the parable meant that the kingdom started out small, and seemingly insignificant, but grows to a great kingdom as people continue to trust in God. The kingdom being the place where God is king, and the citizens are subjected to Him. We learn that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets are in the kingdom and that people from the east and west, north and south will enter, but implies that those from the middle may not.
    We know from previous chapters that Jesus speaks it, the disciples proclaim it, that certain people would not die until they saw it, and that it was near when Jesus came.

  • How much of an understanding would people have had when Jesus says “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me is not able to be my disciple“?
  • People of the day were likely to have a better understanding of carrying his own cross better than we do today. It was something that accompanied and led up to crucifixion, a slow, painful, humiliating and public death, often lasting for days on end. People of the day would also have understood discipleship, as it was a common thing for knowledgeable people to have them, much like trainees that we have these days, but on a fulltime basis rather than finishing up at the end of the day to go home. Where the meaning of the phrase may have been lost or mis-interpretted is what the cost of being a disciple of Jesus was. That people have to give up their lives as they know them to follow him. It is such a strange juxtaposition that Christians give up their lives to the point of death to have eternal life with Jesus.

  • What is the meaning of the parable of the fig tree?? “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look, I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree for three years, yet I still find none. Cut it down. Why should it even waste the soil?’. But the gardener answered, ‘Lord, please leave it for one more year, until I can dig around it and fertilize it. It may yet produce fruit; but if it does not, by all means, cut it down.'”
  • The conclusion that we came up with was that it was talking about repenting and turning back to God, but I don’t think that’s quite correct upon further reflection….

    There seems to be plenty of horticultural references used throughout the gospels, the major one we’ve seen so far in Luke is the parable of the sower/seeds. I think that this parable is talking about the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of Christians. The imagery here very much mirrors that of the sower/seeds, so this fig tree represents a Christian, yet they are not producing fruit, but they ought to. The gardener helps the tree by digging around in the soil and fertilising it so that it has an opportunity to produce fruit, but if it does not then it is not really of any use and deserves to be cut down…. It doesn’t seem to fit in the context though….

  • Jesus seemed to make a lot of people uncomfortable and challenge them in these chapters and the ones from last week… The same held for us as we looked through the following: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, and even his own life, he is not able to be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me is not able to be my disciple.”
  • These are hard teachings to follow and to swallow… Sure, we can down-play them as being extreme, but the choice to follow Jesus is an extreme one, a life changing one. We recognised that these verses called us to put Jesus first and the word hate in this sense meant to give ‘priority and preference over’. An important and less thought of point arose from the verses after these, talking about counting the cost of your faith and following Jesus; something that is not often spoken of in evangelistic talks….

  • Jesus longs for Israel to return to God. Something that seems like a new idea, or that we don’t generally think of…
  • Particularly evident in Jesus‘ lament: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her own chicks under her wing, yet you were not willing….”

  • In the parable of the lost son, what is the purpose of the elder brother??
  • This was a lengthy conversation…. I think that we get bogged down a little too much in the details of parables, having to assign every little element as something, so the point of the parable is that the lost son (a sinner) returns and this is a great and wonderful event and thus deserves celebration. However, the fact that this parable appears as the 3rd and final in a series, and is slightly different to the previous where that which is found is celebrated, and there is no grumbling. So if we do assign the elder brother a ‘role’ then it is similar to that of a Jew; someone who believes in their relationship with the Father and is jealous of those that take the focus off of them. Perhaps it was aimed at the Pharisees and the scribes.

  • Something that we can be sorry for is being proud and not humbling ourselves….
  • So often we think that we are important, yet we are called to be humble…. We will be lifted up and honored if we are, but then we also need to have the right motivation…. do we humble ourselves to be lifted up, because that opposes being humble…. We also discussed looking forward to heavenly treasures, and what they might be… It’s funny how we often can think of heavenly treasures in a worldly sense, but perfect relationship and fellowship is treasure enough, is it not??

  • The parable of the lost sheep is such an encouragement
  • To think that there is so much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, is that not a call to evangelism or what?!?!

Overall these three chapters continue to look at Jesus as he challenges people about entering the Kingdom of God… they’re not quite as intense and dark as the previous three, but there are still some big challenges…

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Bible Study – Week 5 (Luke 10 – 12)

This week we went For the basics in terms of bible study format; after opening with a prayer from Mike, based on the Lords Prayer, we met Kim and Ian. After that it was straight into Luke 10-12 followed by some discussion:

  • When addressing the religious lawyers Jesus says: “Woe to you religious lawyers as well! For you load people up with burdens that are hard to carry, but you yourselves will not lift one finger to bear the load. Woe to you, because you build the tombs of the prophets, but your ancestors were the ones who killed them! Therefore, you are witnesses and accomplices to the deeds of your ancestors, because they killed the prophets and you yourselves build their tombs. It is for this reason that the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles; and they will kill and persecute some of them’, so that this generation might be blamed for the blood of all the prophets that has been he’d since the foundation of the world- from the blood of Abel through to the blood of Zechariah, who died between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you it will be blamed on this generation!. There was a question as to whom the ‘this generation’ referred to.
  • We came to the conclusion that it was the people who were still in the deeds of the ancestors, ie those working toward salvation in the law.

  • The next three were things that were a bit challenging or uncomfortable
  • …you hold the key to knowledge…
  • In the text this is applied to the Jewish law experts, but it is also applicable to Christians. We tend to forget this, so we should remember it a bit more…

  • “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”
  • There is no fence sitters, it’s either for or against…

  • Now Mary was sitting at the Lord’s feet to listen to what he was saying, but Martha was worried about the many things she had to do to serve her guest. She came up and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister is leaving me to serve on my own? Tell her to come and help me.”
    But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and bothered about many things, but there is only one thing that is necessary. For Mary chose the better thing, and it will not be taken away from her.”
  • Martha is distracted by good things (serving) over better things (listening and learning from Jesus. We need to focus on the right things to do.

    Following on from this we talked about the placement of this event in this translation. It is set just after the parable of the good Samaritan where a Jewish law expert asks what must he do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus questions his understanding of the law by asking what Is written in the law and what the expert understands by it. The expert answers “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as yourself”. We know that this is a commandment of the law, however it is impossible to do. No one by doing is able to get themselves into the kingdom of God, rather it is by faith that we are saved. So the comparison of Martha the doer and Mary the listener challenges and makes us uncomfortable here…

  • Something that was encouraging, new and puzzling was said by Jesus in chapter 12: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were burning already. I have a ‘baptism’ to experience and how distressed I am until it is achieved. Do you suppose that I have come to establish peace in the world? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five people in one home will be divided: three against two, and two against three; they will be divided, father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law”
  • For those that are Christians without Christian parents this is both good and bad news…. Good in the sense that Jesus is more important than family, He is our Saviour that saves us from our sin and enables us to live in Heaven with him at the end of days. Bad in the sense that family is family… They are, generally, the ones that we are most intimate with in this world, those that have known us for the longest time, supported and loved us throughout plenty of situations, yet with the coming of Jesus they are no longer the ones that have the strongest link, if they are not Christian, because the Christian family is profound with ties thicker than blood, and full of relationships that will surpass this world.

    It’s new in the sense that Jesus hasn’t really talked about casting fire on the earth, at least from my recollection from other translations, and also that he is distressed about the baptism he is to experience…. I found it quite confusing and not too sure if there was much of a resolution to the meaning of the passage for me. I do feel a little encouraged that Jesus was distressed over these things though. It puts him in a light that we don’t often recognise that things were hard for him, putting the whole man perspective back in the picture.

  • “Now, when they bring you before the synagogues, the leaders and the authorities, do not be anxious about how or by what you will defend yourselves, or what you will say. For the Holy Spirit will instruct you in that moment about the things you should say.” Jesus to his disciples
  • Something to be thankful for and encouraged by, although we do need to be careful in what context this is. We may not necessarily be able to directly apply it to our lives as Christians because there’s not many times in which we are before the synagogues, leaders and authorities. Rather Jesus does assure us further on in this chapter: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life-what you will eat; nor about your body-what you will wear. For your life is more than food, and your body is more than clothing.

  • And turning to his disciples, he [Jesus] said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, but never did; and to hear what you hear, but never did.” We questioned why the disciples were blessed.
  • They are blessed because they had the privilege of seeing Jesus, being in his presence, and taught by him. So many of the prophets, kings and people of Israel wanted to see Jesus. They are also blessed as the Son reveals God the Father to them as well.

    In summary these three chapters are a bit darker, challenging and even offensive to those opposed to Jesus, yet reassuring for those that follow Him. They concentrate on dividing between those who are inside and those who are outside the Kingdom of God.

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    WORD

    Bible Study – Week 4 (Luke 7-9)

    Tonight we convened for another week of Bible study with yet another welcome addition to the group in Malika.

    We started off with a bit of housekeeping, getting a list of some attributes of ‘The Christian Life’ which we’re to read through over the next week and identify 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses to assist the group leaders in deciding what to study after we finish our current Essential Jesus (Luke) series, and also to assist in prayer points for each person. We then had a little followup to last weeks discussion. Mike gave us some wisdom from J.C. Ryle and D.A. Carson on turning the other cheek and loving our enemies; the major discussion point of last week: The principles apply in a broad sense, whilst they don’t call for Christians to be pacifists, we’re not to suffer personal abuse and sacrifice. These points were pretty much inline with our discussion, yay Bible study group!!

    Tonight’s testimonies came from Imanuel and James. We then read through the particularly meaty chapters 7-9 of Luke and then went on to look at certain observations or questions raised:

    • Jesus pushes forward in his ministry
    • It’s encouraging to read and see that Jesus was active in his ministry. It encourages us to keep going and push forward in our own ministry. We also read that Jesussets himself to go to Jerusalem‘. Jerusalem was the place where Jesus was to die and he knew that; so it’s encouraging to read also that He was willing to die.

    • “Whoever is no against you is for you.”
    • When speaking to other religions that are similar to Christianity, like Catholics, it can be easy to stir up arguments but this statement of Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t necessarily do so. It’s an interesting thing to think about though, as it’s talking about doing good works in Jesus‘ name, yet there’s no mention of the theology or beliefs behind the motives. Whether that is implied or not is ambiguous. People that do do good works in this day and age probably aren’t doing it for the sake of Jesus but tend more to be self serving, so that they can get ahead or work towards heaven, which misses the point of Jesus.

    • Jesus shows love and forgiveness.
    • Definitely something that we can thank God for. We see him showing such things to sinners like the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume. He also actively shows it through his healing ministry, which a different showing of his power, a more personal power.

    • Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women supported them (Jesus & the 12 apostles) financially
    • This was an interesting inclusion in the book. There seems to be such a focus, at least in our church, on fulltime ministry, like going through MTS, that those that work seem to be labeled as ‘less Godly’ which isn’t the case. Everyone in the body of Christ has a role. Those that financially support help to enable the ministerial staff to do the great work that they do, plus it gives opportunity to minister to those in the workforce, who may not have the opportunity to hear the good news otherwise. Also this seems like a juxtaposition from the rest of what is said about money/riches in the rest of Luke where it is seen in a bad light, but here it is for the good of the Kingdom. And the triple here is that it was the women that were supporting. Not something common in those days.

    • Choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life; and they never mature to produce fruit. & Good soil produces fruit
    • An old truth that we are reminded of is that these worries, riches and pleasures of life can hinder our Christian lives and potentially draw us away. We must be wary of this and not get bogged down in such things, but strive to be like the seeds in the good soil where we will be able to produce good fruit.

    • Christians aren’t stagnant
    • Another encouraging thing that we can see from the parable of the sower and the seeds is that no plants here are stagnant, they don’t grow a bit and then stop, rather they are either growing or they’re choking. It also serves as a warning to make sure that we’re not choking.

    • Jesus could have said “I heal you”, yet he more often than not says “Your faith has healed you.” Why is that??
    • A difficult question to answer, and one that raises other equally difficult questions along with it. We came up with some plausible answers:

    • Jesus was healing physical and spiritual sickness
    • It was out of character for Jesus to express pride in his works. It would also have drawn unwanted attention to him as the Son of God, something that would have prevented him from continuing his ministry.

    These three chapters I summed up as:
    Jesus continues to teach, heal and challenge. Many hear, many fear, but few are faithful.