BSF Study Questions John Lesson 1, Day 2: John 1:1-5

Summary of passage:  The Word (Jesus Christ) was in existence from the beginning with God and is God.  All things are made through him and he contains life.  He shines to unbelievers who do not understand him.

Questions:

3)  1)  “In the beginning was the Word”.  The Word is Jesus.  This means he has always existed.

2)  “the Word was with God”.  Jesus is always with the Father (God).

3)  “the Word was God”.  This means Jesus and God are one and the same, referring to the Triune God where God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are One entity.

4)  Genesis 1:1:  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Jesus has always existed so Jesus was there in the beginning and he created the heavens and the earth since he and God are one and the same.

Colossians 1:15-17:  Jesus is the image of God and was first in creation.  Jesus created all things and all things are created for him.  He is above all things and he holds all things together.

Hebrews 1:2-3:  The universe was created through Christ.  Jesus is the world’s light and the sustainer of this world (creation).  Jesus and God are equally responsible for this world, for Creation, and for its ongoing perpetuity.  They are in ultimate control of everything.

5)  We are told even thrones, powers, rulers, and authorities were created by Jesus and for Jesus.  All things on heaven and earth.  God is in control of us and our flourishing upon this earth and in heaven.  God is responsible for our life and therefore is at the center of a fulfilling life and should be the center of my fulfillment in life.

6)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Light is God/Jesus.  Darkness is Satan/devil.  Figuratively, light is also believers and darkness is unbelievers and evildoers.  Too many examples to list.  Light is all the good people do for others.  The aiding in disasters and in daily life.  Missionary work.  Even just bringing a meal to a sick neighbor.  That is light.  Darkness unfortunately is everywhere.  Terrorism.  War.  Senseless deaths and violence humans wreck upon each other.  Very, very sad.

Conclusions:  I’m SO excited to begin the study of John.  After Revelation last year, I’m looking forward to something more clear-cut, easy to understand, and Jesus’s words to us.  My kids struggled last year due to the nature of Revelation so I’m praying they love this study and look forward to BSF every week.

Good lesson on the Word and light and darkness, which is frequently used by John in this book.  If we understand nothing else in this study, understand the first line:  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one in the same and have been since before time existed.  Life is in the belief in Jesus.  Period.

End Notes:  John deliberately opens his book with a parallel to Genesis 1:1.  There, God speaks creation into existence.  Here, God through John speaks salvation into existence by announcing Jesus’ presence in the world.  Everything is spoken.  Jesus speaks the Word of God and is the Word of God.

In Greek, word is logos.  Jews referred to God himself as “word of God.”  The ancient Greeks used the word logos as meaning turning chaos into order.  John uses the concept of word to speak to everyone:  the word is God–always has and always will be.  He lays out from the first sentence the Trinity so all can understand.

The Word created all things, meaning the Word himself is an uncreated being.  In the Word is the source of all life–physical and spiritual.  The Word is the life of all men.  Without Jesus we are dead and in darkness.  Most of us have a natural fear of darkness because of this fact.

The Greeks also used logos to mean the unspoken word as well that lingers in the mind–reason.

Life is Christ’s gift and is central to this Gospel for Christ is life (John 14:6).

Light is also Christ (John 8:12), who illuminates all spiritually–prominent in the Book of John as well.  Psalm 36:9 holds the connection to the Old Testament:  “in your light we see light.”  We see Jesus.

In verse 5, understand can also be overcome.  Essentially, darkness cannot overcome light.  The devil cannot defeat God.  The Greek word is difficult to translate here, meaning laying hold onto something to make its own.  In Genesis 1:2, the earth was dark until God called into light.  Until God decided to banish darkness with his light and gift us all with life.

Fun Fact:  The Greek word “life” is used 36 times by John while no other New Testament book uses it more than 17 times.

Who is John the Baptist?

John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus.  He was of priestly descent, born to Zechariah and Elizabeth who were old at the time–another miracle baby like Isaac.  Zechariah was told of John’s birth by an angel–like Mary was of Jesus.  He was born six months before Jesus in Judea and lived as a Nazarite.  We know little of John the Baptist’s childhood–only that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth (Luke 1:15).  He first appears in Scripture in Luke 3:1-2 somewhere around 26 or 29 AD (scholars debate the date) to proclaim the coming of the Messiah in Judea.  He emphasized repentance, baptism, and the coming of the Messiah.

John the Baptist was the first to speak of repenting of their sins and being baptized as a sign of repentance.  His baptism differed from the ceremonial washings of the Old Testament significantly.  Baptism by water meant an accepting of a new condition.  Ceremonial washings only restored the old condition.

Jesus and John were cousins but it appears John the Baptist did not recognize Jesus until he came to be baptized by him (John 1:32-34) and saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus.  John was imprisoned for his preachings and Jesus began his ministry in Galilee after John’s arrest.  We know this because it was 7 months John the Baptist was imprisoned when he sent two disciples to inquire of Jesus if he were the true Messiah (Matthew 11).  How long he was in prison is unknown but we all know he died when Herodias asked for his head on a platter (Mark 6:18-28).

John the Baptist lived his whole life fulfilling God’s plan for him and died doing God’s will.  His beheading is the subject of some of the most famous pictures in art history, notably the series done by Caravaggio.

John the Baptist lived during extraordinary times and died doing extraordinary things.  We live during relatively ordinary times, but we can still do extraordinary things in our world–if we do God’s will for our life.

John the Baptist by Caravaggio

John the Baptist by Caravaggio

 

 

 

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 30: All Days

Since the last lesson of BSF is always personal questions, I just sum up my answers.

I’ve learned a lot about the End Times, who’s going to heaven and who’s not, Satan and his methods to deceive the saved, God’s faithfulness, timing, and goodness, and the importance of Jesus.  Jesus is paramount in God’s plan for this world.  He’s the linchpin.

Overall, the study was great.  Great discussions in my small group.  Great questions.  Great material.  Great God who showed up in the midst of it.

Some repetition that some liked and others didn’t.  Could have delved deeper into the differing End Times eschatological views.  Could have gone deeper into the possible meanings of symbols and passages.

My love for God has deepened as I’ve learned just how much God loves us by sending His son to die for us and planning a home for us in the future.  He is good despite what society says.

Not for sure if I see yet how this study has impacted me and God’s will for my life.  Some changes don’t show up immediately and because we are so close to ourselves often we don’t see it.

It has been a blessing to study alongside you all and listen to your thoughts on the material.  I hope I have broadened the base of discussion just a tiny bit.  I will miss you all and be praying for you during the summer.

God bless you all on your summer break and we’ll see you all in the Fall for the study of John!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 5: Revelation 22:6-21

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming and John falls at the feet of the angel to worship it (he did this in Revelation 19:10). The angel told John to tell others of what he has seen and heard and to let them continue to do wrong or good as they are doing.  Jesus is coming to reward those according to what they’ve done. He’s the Alpha, Omega, First and Last, Beginning, End. Blessed are the righteous who have the tree of life. Outside the gates of the city are the dogs who are immoral and practice falsehoods. Jesus is the Root, Offspring of David, the Morning Star.  Let all come for the gift of the water of life say the Spirit and the bride. A warning to not change the prophecy in the book of Revelation. Jesus is coming soon. Grace be with God’s people.

Questions:

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It really doesn’t.  I plan to do what I normally do:  tell others as God leads me.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t know.  Too soon to tell.

Conclusions:  Filler.

End Notes:  See previous days.

Conclusions to Lesson 29:  What words of hope and encouragement.  Jesus is coming.  All should be ready.  Hold fast.  Reflective lesson leading up to Lesson 30, our last lesson where we’ll be asked what has changed within us.  This is always hard to answers for little changes we don’t see but others do.  I’d wait 6 months and then ask someone close to you if something has changed.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 4: Revelation 22:17-21

Summary of passage:  Let all come for the gift of the water of life say the Spirit and the bride.  A warning to not change the prophecy in the book of Revelation.  Jesus is coming soon.  Grace be with God’s people.

Questions:

9a)  The invitation is to all to accept Jesus as Savior.  It is open to all.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am thirsting for Him more.  For His world here.  For His presence more in my life.

10)  So nothing is twisted to mean something else.  God wants all to know the promises for the believers and the consequences for the nonbelievers.  No sugar-coating going on here.  All need to know the Truth.  Whoever changes it, corrupts His word and leads others astray.

Conclusions:  I love the ending!  A final invitation to God’s world and eternal life with Him.  A reminder Jesus is coming soon.  And a prayer for us!  His grace be with us!  Awesome!

End Notes:   Is this an invitation to Jesus, asking Him to return? Or is it an invitation to those with a spiritual thirst to come to Jesus? Either sense is certainly true.  Isaiah 55:1 echoes this invitation.

All you need is the desire to have Jesus in your heart.  Come and God will do the rest.  There is no bringing anything to God or giving.  It’s HIM doing the giving.  All you have to do is accept.  This is the greatest invitation you’ll ever receive.

The warning is either Jesus, the angel, or John.  It is not clear who is speaking here.

God’s word is holy and must not be altered. 2 Peter 3:16 says those who do face destruction.

“Come, Lord Jesus” in verse 20 is a common Aramaic expression that was well known in the ancient church: Maranatha!  Should be our cry today!

Will the End Times be in our times?  Only God knows.  It is our job to be ready.  God has the rest.

Note:  it’s a cry for Jesus to fix the world.  Man cannot fix it.  It’s man’s fault the world is full of sin.  Despite our noble efforts, we are Fallen.  Only God can catch us and make us whole again.

The word of grace was used by Paul as well to sign off on his letters (1 Corinthians 16:23, 2 Corinthians 13:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:18).  In 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18, Paul indicated that this signature – no doubt written with his own hand – was a mark that the letter was genuinely from him.  John is greeting those who will soon be reading his testimony and praying for them as well.

The last verse of the Old Testament contains a curse by the Lord: “Else I will come and strike the land with a  curse. (Malachi 4:6).  The last words of the New Testament speak of grace–the saving grace of Jesus that saves and redeems.  The fading of the Old Covenant with the New Covenant.  A curse but a promise fulfilled at the end.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 3: Revelation 22:12-16

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming to reward those according to what they’ve done.  He’s the Alpha, Omega, First and Last, Beginning, End.  Blessed are the righteous who have the tree of life.  Outside the gates of the city are the dogs who are immoral and practice falsehoods.  Jesus is the Root, Offspring of David, the Morning Star.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He’s the Alpha, Omega, First and Last, Beginning, End, the Root, Offspring of David, the Morning Star.  The first and the last or alpha and omega because everything starts, ends, and everything in between is his.  He is the beginning, the middle, and the end for every Christian.

7a)  Blessed are those who accept Jesus as their Savior and not blessed are those who don’t.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Those who accept Jesus because he lives inside of me via the Holy Spirit.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray to be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  All personal.  No meat.  I love how Jesus uses all his titles here.  We see most of them in Revelation and throughout the Bible.  It’s a culmination of who he is.

End Notes:  Be ready.  This is stated 3 times in this chapter (verses 7, 12, 20).  It’s meaning is not soon but when they come it will be in rapid succession.  The church and us are meant to be ready always.

“And My reward is with Me.”  The word for “reward” means to “pay for service—good or bad” (more literally, as a “wage”).  Jesus will compensate the saints (Revelation 11:18) as well as the unrighteous (2 Peter 2:12-13).  A believer shall be given the gift of life and rewarded for good works, whereas the unbeliever shall be given the wages of death (Romans 6:23).  There is no partiality with God.  He “will render to each one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-16).

What you do here matters.

Jesus uses titles normally associated with God.  Alpha and Omega is in Revelation 1:8; 21:6.  The First and the Last is in Isaiah 41:4.  Jesus wants to leave no doubt he is a Triune God.

There is debate about who speaks this last beatitude in Revelation:  John, an angel, or Jesus.

Some versions say blessed are those who do his commandments instead of who wash their robes. The difference stems from a Greek word:  HOIPLUNONTESTASSTOLAS (washed their robes) or
HOIPOIOUNTESTASENTOLAS (do His commandments).  This would be a copyist’s error.  Still, the meaning is clear.  This is the desire of our hearts.  Obviously, we all fail.  But our desire is to keep his commandments and wash our robes.  That is what matters.  The unbeliever has no such desire.

We saw washing of robes in Revelation 7:14 or washing in Jesus’s blood.  It means fully committing to the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives.

Being on the outside is not literal here.  There are not throngs of unbelievers standing outside the New Jerusalem.  It means they are not in the eternal city.  Jesus is making clear one last time who will stand with him and who will stand against him.

Dogs here is a derogatory term for the morally impure or unbelievers (Matthew 7:6; Philippians 3:2).  Dogs were considered unclean and despised.

Jesus assures us here the Book of Revelation is his word to us, the churches, to be known.

The Root is a Messianic title (Isaiah 11:1).  It shows that Jesus is both the Creator of King David and His descendent.  Jesus spoke this same idea in Matthew 22:41-46.

The Morning Star is another Messianic title from the Old Testament (Numbers 24:17) and the New Testament (Revelation 2:28).  Just as the Morning Star (generally held to be the planet Venus) shines and welcomes the new day, so does Jesus.

Fun Fact:  This is the first reference to the church since the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 2: Revelation 22:6-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming and John falls at the feet of the angel to worship it (he did this in Revelation 19:10).  The angel told John to tell others of what he has seen and heard and to let them continue to do wrong or good as they are doing.

Questions:

3a)  God/Jesus/Holy Spirit says it’s true.  Furthermore, there are 3 witnesses to John’s testimony:  the angel, John himself, and Jesus, which was the legal requirement in ancient times for a trial (Deuteronomy 17:6; John 5:31-32).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), given to man through prophets or people as a gift from God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Prophecy gives us a word to keep, not merely material for interesting discussions and debates. The main purpose of prophecy is to lead us to trust and obey God, and apply His truth to the way we live.  Obviously, if we trust and obey God more, we live God’s life more, and we are further blessed.  As my faith grows, my life is better.  I was asked over the the weekend at church to name a time when I’ve been completely blessed in my life and one of my answers was now.  I am feeling truly happy, content, and blessed with God and my life.  And I think it’s because of my strengthened faith in Him.

5a)  He said to worship God alone not fellow servants or prophets.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not for sure if I worship anything other than God.  I am prideful sometimes and put credence in things I shouldn’t but worship (definition: to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power) is a strong word.  God is at my center.  He gets all the credit.  Pray all the time.  Stay in His word as much as possible.  Do His will in my life.

Conclusions:  Saw 3b before.  Good lesson on the truth of the Bible and how we are blessed by knowing prophecy and we grow in trust in Him.  The more we know, the more we grow!

End Notes:  Revelation opens with an angel and ends with one.

“Soon” in the Greek connotes suddenly to us.  Jesus will come suddenly and in his time.  We are to ready always.

No created being is ever to be worshiped.  Angels are servants of God who minister to us (Hebrews 1:13-14).

Revelation is in contrast to Daniel 8:26; 12:4 where Daniel is told to seal up his visions about the future.  Now is the time, the angel says.  Daniel was hundreds of years before Revelation.

The angel says there will be no more time to change when Jesus comes.  The wicked will still be wicked, the good still good.  Second (and third and fourth, etc) chances are over.  Furthermore, those doing wrong will have hardened hearts and will not heed the book of Revelation (Daniel 12:10).  Those with God’s heart will be affected and shall continue to do good.

This is encouragement to us who pray for the lost and the lost loved ones we know.  There is nothing we can do but share with an open and loving heart.  God will do the rest.  And if they don’t convert, that is no fault of ours.  It is their responsibility to let God into their hearts, not ours.

Here we see the 6th Beatitude of Revelation.