BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 5: John 15:18-16:4

Summary of passage: The world hates believers because they were chosen by Jesus to be not of this world. The world will persecute and hate believers as they have persecuted and hated Jesus. The disciples and the Holy Spirit are to testify about Jesus. The time will come where the disciples will be thrown out of the synagogue and persecuted.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question. My answer:  The human system that opposes God’s purpose and unbelievers.  They hate believers because they were chosen by God.  These people hate me or are indifferent to me because they are of the world and not believers.  Why would I ask myself questions?  It’s a fact and you deal with it and you move on with life.

13)  Part personal Question. My answer:  We need to be the light for others who may come out of the darkness.  We are called to evangelize.  By doing His will.

14a)  All believers, the Holy Spirit, and the disciples.

b) Part personal Question.  My answer:  Because Jesus was persecuted and the world hates believers.  They don’t know the Father nor Jesus, only the devil, so they follow the devil’s way which includes persecution.  We must respond as Jesus would with compassion and from an understanding that they are blinded to God and do not have Jesus’ heart.

Conclusions: Repetitive in terms of how you are living for Christ and bearing fruit. Talked about this last year as well in our Revelation study. In essence, Satan works through unbelievers. He tells them to hate us and persecute us. He blinds them to the Truth. We must understand it is Satan at work and not take it personally. We must be like Christ and still shine bright despite the encroaching darkness around us.

End Notes:  Jesus warns his disciples they will be hated.  All except John were martyred.  First the world hated Jesus, then them.  “You or Ye know” or “keep in mind” means be aware or be very sure.

The disciples were different from the world.  If people don’t know God, they persecute those who do.  Those persecuted (Christians) should sympathize for unbelievers because they don’t know God.

Because Jesus was God walking around on the earth, there is no excuse not to know God or more about Him.  Both his works and his words are enough to know Him.

Jesus quotes the Psalm here to show Scriptural fulfillment.

Jesus previously spoke of the sending of the Counselor (John 14:16, 14:26).  The departing Jesus knew the disciples would need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit to face the opposition the world would bring.

“Who proceeds from the Father” or “whom I will send to you from the Father”: This is one source of a historic controversy between the eastern and western branches of Christianity, debating if the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son (known as the filoque clause in the Nicene Creed).

The Holy Spirit’s job is to tell us and show us what Jesus would do and who he is.

The disciples’ job is also to bear witness for Jesus.

Jesus did not want his disciples to be surprised by opposition against them so he tells them they will be thrown out of the synagogue, which for a Jewish person is ostracism from all they know.

Most Christian martyrs are killed by followers of other religions.  Jesus is preparing his disciples because up until this point all hatred was against Jesus himself.  When Jesus departs, it will fall upon the disciples to bear.  He will not be there to protect them.  It wasn’t pertinent until this moment.  God’s timing.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 3: John 15:1-8

Summary of passage: Jesus says he is the vine and God is the gardener. God cuts off those who don’t bear fruit and prunes the branches that do bear fruit. Believers will only bear fruit if they remain in Jesus. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Ask whatever you wish and as long as you remain in Jesus, your wish will be granted. For God’s glory you will bear much fruit.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question. My answer: My family, my job, my purpose in life. I could be doing more in writing my novel and helping others. I am failing in gentleness and self-control. These are my hardest areas especially since my heart towards the world and others is very hard. I can be brash and rude. Loving others is hard for me as well. I do have joy and peace though. I could always be more patient and kind. I’m pretty faithful though to God and others.

7)  Yes. No. Jesus says apart from me he can do nothing. He can bear no fruit. If believers stray, then they are leading lives of quiet desperation where nothing is being accomplished that God wants. Even if you are doing good but your heart is empty of God you are not growing and those around you are not growing or seeing God’s light. You are withering and you are empty inside. Eventually you will shrivel instead of bloom. God wants us to bloom and bloom for Him!  You must remain connected to God always.

8)  Personal Question. My answer: Well, you are constantly being cleansed and molded and growing if you abide with Christ and stay connected.  I hope I’ve been more fruitful. One, to you all. Two, to my family. Three, in my job. Four, in my personal life. I hope I’ve grown more mature and been more fruitful to others. I still have much to do though.  We have been abundantly blessed through Him.

Conclusions: Love this lesson! It’s great to reflect on how we are living out God’s calling in our lives and if we think we’ve grown or been more fruitful or productive in doing so. And the fruits of the spirit is something we all need to constantly ask ourselves and check in with how we are doing. Are we more patient? Kind? Loving? At peace? Etc. Great reflection time!

End Notes: [Same from yesterday]  Most scholars believe Jesus is speaking to the disciples here as they are standing in the upper room, preparing to depart.  Jesus only has a few more hours to prepare his disciples for the tumult ahead. These are his closest friends and he is about to leave them. He knows they will face fierce opposition, hatred, beatings, and execution. So, he reaches for an allegory to explain himself again.

One, grapes. They were just drinking wine. He says they must remain connected to him in order to bear everlasting fruit. Two, dead branches. They have lost their connection somehow and now useless.

The vine. Jesus’ 7th and last I am statement.  This would have stood out to both believers and unbelievers since everyone knew God as the great “I am”.  Jesus is equivocating himself with God in all these statements.

The vine was a familiar symbol. God repeatedly used a vine as a symbol of His people in the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalm 80:8-9). Yet it was often used in a negative sense (as in Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 and Jeremiah 2:21). Just in the previous week Jesus publicly taught about Israel being like a vineyard in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-44).

Vineyards were everywhere in ancient Israel. There was a large golden vine set as a prominent decoration on the front of the temple communicating the idea that Israel was God’s vine. And it was a recognized symbol of the Messiah.

Jesus is the true vine. We must be rooted in him in order to bear fruit. The branch and the vine picture complete dependence upon one another as well. The vine in the Old Testament pictured Israel and God as the tender of the vine.

There are two understandings for verse 2. Either the branches are taken away because they were never abiding the first place (judgment) or they are lifted up (another possible translation of the Greek) to be taken care of.

The word for prunes does mean cleansing as well in the Greek. The vine will maximize its fruit if it is pruned. God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity. Good fruit in the New Testament represents a godly life (Matthew 3:8; 7:16-20) or virtues of character (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11).

The work of pruning has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26). It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.

Abiding or remaining is a two-way street. Choose to abide in Jesus and he will abide in you. You have to be connected to the vine, to Jesus, to bear fruit. Otherwise, it’s impossible.

Jesus repeats himself that he is the vine since so often they thought of Israel as the vine. The purpose of caring for the vine is to receive fruit. In this sense, we can say that fruit represents Christian character (such as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5). God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by fruit, and perhaps by much fruit. Fruits contain seeds which are meant to be spread.

Jesus abides in us in an active way.

We can do nothing of real, eternal value without Jesus. You must remain connected to the master or you will fail.

Note you are thrown away, withered, and then burned–a slow progression of losing that connection with the Father. Fire is associated with punishment and eternal repercussions like the burning lake of sulphur in Revelation. It also was an Old Testament symbol of punishment.

Verse 6 Interpretations of the cast out branches:

1) Believes are the cast out branches who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out

2) The cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas)

3) The cast out branches are fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew)

However, all agree that there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good. Genuine salvation is evidenced by a life of fruitfulness.

Verse 7: Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words (John 14:23-24) and answered prayer (John 14:13-14).

Spurgeon says “Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. It comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus.”

It is impossible to pray correctly apart from knowing and believing the teachings of Christ.

Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple.

Tenney explains: “The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.”

This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple.

Verse 8: We must remember bearing fruit is for God’s glory, not our own. When we achieve great things, it is God’s will and through God’s might not ours. We give credit to Him for we ourselves can do nothing.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 19, Day 5: John 14:27-31

Summary of passage: Jesus says he’ll give the disciples peace. He tells them to not be afraid or troubled. He is going away and if the disciples loved him, they would be glad for he is fulfilling the Father’s wishes.

Questions:

12)  The Bible tells us that Satan is a fallen angel, a real being who tempts us and tries to destroy us. We see this in the temptation of Jesus. We are told he rules the world until Jesus comes again, hence a prince. He was hurled to earth and tries to lead us all astray.

13)  Personal Question. My answer: Jesus gives those who believe in him peace. Currently, I’m struggling with what God wants me to do in my life. Either quit my job and be a full-time mom or stay working and do everything else He calls me in this world. I know whatever I decide, it will be in His will and with His guidance. That gives me peace.

Conclusions:  If only we could grasp the peace Jesus offers every moment of our lives.  I know I struggle with peace and it only comes when I stay close to God and don’t stray or push him aside.  Staying in the Word like a bible study helps me to maintain that closeness we all so desperately need.

End Notes:  Jesus saying Peace be with you was and is a common Jewish departure saying and a common greeting as well.  However, Jesus is clarifying this customary saying to say my peace, or Jesus’ peace is the peace of God, an untroubled heart.  Hence, along with the Holy Spirit, Jesus is blessing his disciples with peace.

Jesus repeats 14:1.  With faith, the Holy Spirit, and peace, you will be untroubled.

The disciples were troubled at the news of Jesus’ departure.  Jesus says rejoice instead!  His work through the Holy Spirit will be greater than His work during the years of His earthly ministry.  For the sake of the world and yourselves, rejoice!  We sense that Jesus is joyful in his soon reunion with God.

The Father is greater than Jesus in position but not in being.  Both are equally God.

At this very moment, Jesus is arranging Jesus’ arrest–Satan is coming.  Jesus goes to the cross willingly. Satan has no hold on him since he is sinless.

Now Jesus and his disciples are ending dinner and going to go the Garden at Gethesemane.  They are still in the room because Jesus doesn’t actually leave until John 18:1.  We can imagine Chapters 15-17 is Jesus speaking as the disciples gather round him in the room.  As one probably knows when there is a gathering of a big group of people it takes a bit to get them moving.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 19, Day 4: John 14:20-26

Summary of passage:  On the day of Pentecost, the disciples will realize Jesus is still with them through the Holy Spirit.  Whoever obeys God’s commands loves God and will be loved by God and Jesus. The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything Jesus has said.

Questions:

9)  Pentecost

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  That they will be loved by the Father and by Jesus and Jesus will show himself to those who love him.  It gives me confidence that no matter what I do I am loved.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The Holy Spirit will be with us, will teach us all things, and will remind us of everything Jesus has said.  We will know him.  I am most grateful for the teaching and he reminding.  Otherwise, I’d be like everyone else.

Conclusions:  Better day.  Very straightforward, simple questions we all need to think about.

End Notes:  “On that day” is Pentecost according to scholars–the day the Spirit will indwell believers, allowing us a union with God here on earth.

Jesus says the world won’t see him so Judas naturally wonders why not and how will he do this.

Judas is called ‘Judas of James’ in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 or brother of James or son of James. He seems to be identical with the Thaddaeus of Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18. Some of the apostles were known by more than one name.

We know in John 13:30 that Judas Iscariot is not there, but these words are added by John to make it clear since he is now a traitor.

Jesus repeats himself again to Judas, emphasizing love, obedience, and union with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit. He repeats his 2nd assurance, emphasizing how God will send the Spirit in the Son’s name–the Trinity.

God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit at the request of God the Son. Beautiful! Both are involved in the sending.

Love for Christ and keeping his commands cannot be separated.  The love of the Father cannot be separated from that of the Son.

Their work will continue through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a general promise to us today if we listen carefully enough but specifically to the disciples who were commissioned to spread the Word, establish the early church, and to write the Word for all of us (the Bible).

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 19, Day 3: John 14:15-26

Summary of passage: Obey Jesus out of love for him. The Father will send us the Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) to be with us and in us and we will live.  Whoever obeys God’s commands loves God and will be loved by God and Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything Jesus has said.

Questions:

6)  Counselor, Spirit of Truth, and Holy Spirit.

7)  The Holy Spirit is a teacher who “will teach you all things and remind you of everything.”  The Counselor will be in you always and will be with you always.  You will know him.

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Love is obeying Jesus’ commands.  Well, we have to learn Jesus’ commands in order to obey them.  Hence, we study the Bible to know what those commands are so we can obey.  The Holy Spirit helps us to understand God’s commands.  As we obey and understand God’s commands, we love Him more.  I feel like I hear God more, but it’s never any easier I feel to obey what He says.  I know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I’m in a stop-gap where I’m trying to earn money for my family to pay our bills.  So it’s quite a quandary.

Conclusions:  Again, like yesterday, I feel I’m not much help with these questions.

End Notes:  This is the first in a series of important passages about the Holy Spirit since Jesus has not mentioned it before.

Love is not just an emotion or a feeling. Jesus says love is an action, doing, keeping his commandments. This shows you love him. Love, like faith, cannot be separated from obedience. You don’t have to enter a convent and give up everything. It’s simple.

Here is the 2nd Assurance: Jesus will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to help believers.

“Counselor” is the ancient Greek word parakletos. The idea is someone called to help someone else or it could be an advisor, a legal defender, a mediator, or an intercessor. It’s often translated as “Comforter” which comes from the Old English and Latin.

The devil is the accuser. Hence, “Helper” for the Holy Spirit.

“Another” means in the same kind. So the Counselor is in the same kind as Jesus and the Father and hence, the Trinity. Besides Jesus in essence.

The Holy Spirit will not be temporary–he will be with us “forever.”

The Spirit is characterized by truth in essence and action. He brings people to the truth of God. All three persons of the Trinity are linked with truth. The world takes no notice of the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit was already with the disciples (Jesus) but it would be in them (John 20:22). Acts 1:8 tells us the disciples will receive power when they receive the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit eliminates the distance between Jesus and ourselves.

Jesus’ 3rd assurance: He will not leave them as orphans, but will come to them. To the Hebrews, the disciples of a particular teacher called him father; his scholars were called his children, and, on his death, the disciples were considered orphans.

Jesus repeats this promise from 14:3 and fulfills it when he rises again after the cross.

Because Jesus lives is the only reason we still live. The Holy Spirit allows us a union with God here on earth.

Jesus says the world won’t see him so Judas naturally wonders why not and how will he do this.

Judas is called ‘Judas of James’ in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 or brother of James or son of James.  He seems to be identical with the Thaddaeus of Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18. Some of the apostles were known by more than one name.

We know in John 13:30 that Judas Iscariot is not there, but these words are added by John to make it clear since he is now a traitor.

Jesus repeats himself again to Judas, emphasizing love, obedience, and union with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.  He repeats his 2nd assurance, emphasizing how God will send the Spirit in the Son’s name–the Trinity.

God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit at the request of God the Son.  Beautiful!  Both are involved in the sending.

Their work will continue through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is a general promise to us today if we listen carefully enough but specifically to the disciples who were commissioned to spread the Word, establish the early church, and to write the Word for all of us (the Bible).

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 18, Day 5: John 14:8-14

Summary of passage:  Here, Philip really doesn’t get it and Jesus chastises him for it.  He asks Jesus to show him the Father and Jesus answers by saying he has seen the Father since the Father is in him.  He will do whatever they ask in his name to bring glory to the Father.

Questions:

11)  “even after I have been among you such a long time.”  “How can you say” such a thing.

12)  He is speaking God’s words, doing God’s work through miracles, and anyone who asks of him he will do it in God’s name.  Jesus was at the beginning and the Word and he is the Word and the Word is God so thus Jesus is God.  He is light.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is God.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Anyone who has faith in him.  He grants them whatever they ask.  Those in Christ will accomplish his will–which is greater than our will.  We can accomplish great things with Christ at our backs.  The Holy Spirit is the help Jesus has promised us.

Conclusions:  I almost think Jesus wants to hit Philip over the head he’s so dense.  He’s spent 3 years with Jesus and still doesn’t get it.  You’d think he’d at least get the fact Jesus is God but he doesn’t.  Jesus, exasperated, lays it out for Thomas and us.  He is God and believe in him will lead to great things in your life.

End Notes:  Philip wants to physically see God with his eyes.  Philip was so close to Jesus yet still did not understand him.  Many are like this today.

Jesus repeats himself again, saying all he says and does is by and through God.  I wonder how often he said this that’s not recorded.  Mankind is dense, aren’t we?

“I tell you the truth.”  This is the 1st of 3 assurances Jesus will give his disciples on the night of his arrest. He says this is not the end but the beginning of much greater works.  He expected the disciples to carry on his good works after he’s gone.  This will be with the power of the Holy Spirit in them.

After Peter’s speech at Pentecost more people believed than all combined under Jesus’ recorded ministry.  Christianity is now spread throughout the entire world.  This is what Jesus meant.

Jesus will do anything you ask for in his name–true to his character and in his will–not yours.  Prayer aimed at carrying forth the work Jesus did.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 18, Day 4: John 14:1-7

Summary of passage:  Jesus comforts his disciples by telling them he is leaving so he can prepare a place for them.  He will come back and take them with him so that the can be where he is.  Thomas (the first time he speaks in this Gospel) tells Jesus they don’t know the way.  Jesus answers with another “I am” statement:  “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  Philip, still not getting it, asks Jesus to show him the Father.  Jesus wants to hit Philip over the head, but instead says if he’s seen him, he’s seen the Father and he should know that by now.

Questions:

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus will come again and take us where he dwells in glory.  This comforts those who are in pain or who have lost a loved one or who are lost.  One day we’ll all be with the Father.

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Thomas is seeing this literally.  He thinks Jesus is traveling on a journey, not ascending to heaven.  We can’t be too hard on Thomas.  Remember we know what happens; he doesn’t.  And many are still in shock from Jesus saying he’s going to die.  It’s easy to be critical of the disciples but remember the Holy Spirit hasn’t descended yet and Jesus is still among them.  Who wants to believe Jesus is going away forever?  As far as I know, I haven’t ignored or rejected any truth.  It’s hard to ignore or reject a truth if you don’t see the truth, which for most of us, it’s hard to see our own faults.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus is the only way to God.  He’s eternal life.  He’s the truth you must believe.  “The” means there’s only one way.  It’s a definite article.  An indefinite article (a or an) can refer to any way, truth, or life.  It makes all the difference.

Conclusions:  Well, it’s a good passage but all the questions are personal and once again we see a question asking what difference does it make in your life and I give my stock answer.  See End Notes for analysis.

End Notes:  The disciples had reason to be troubled. Jesus had just told them that one of them was a traitor, that all of them would deny Him, and that He would leave them that night.  All of this would trouble anyone.  Yet Jesus says don’t be troubled.  We will have trouble and tribulation in our lives but we can have an untroubled heart.  As they trusted in God so they must trust in him, Jesus, as well.  This is a command he is giving the disciples.

Jesus’ point is there is room for all.  House is better translated from the Greek as “dwelling places.”

Jesus goes out of his own accord out of love for us.  Jesus coming back is both in the sense of visiting them after death, the Holy Spirit, and the Second Coming.

Thomas is honest and asks for clarity in what Jesus means like a son would a father when he doesn’t understand something.

Jesus’ 7th “I am” statement is verse 6.  He announces he is the only way to God despite what other religions will have you believe.  Why?  Because he is God.

Fun Fact:  In the the early church, Christianity was sometimes called “the Way” because of this passage.