Jesus spoke in John 5 about the physical resurrection of the dead (bodies coming out of the graves). This was an extremely divisive subject among the Jews. Jesus and Paul maintained that it was plainly taught in the Old Testament; but where? Here we answer that question and continue a deep discussion on the resurrection begun in the previous message. This is a lesson that illustrates God’s power, challenges our faith, and reveals the importance of our bodies (and what we do with them).
In John 5 Jesus’ enemies accused him of “working” on the Sabbath in healing a paralyzed man. In His response, Jesus “doubles down” and puts himself on the same level as God. Jesus also tells his opponents that the Father has committed to Him, the Son, the role of judging all men. In this lesson, we take a look at an aspect of Jesus many prefer to avoid: Jesus, the great Judge of all men on the Last Day. This carries important implications for several areas of our lives. Here Jesus also introduces teaching on the resurrection of the dead: considered a foundational teaching in the early church, yet commonly misunderstood among Christians today.
In John 4 and 5, and throughout the New Testament, we read about Jesus, the apostles and others performing miracles, healings, and signs. These can easily be passed over and dismissed. Yet, why did Jesus (and others) perform miracles and signs? What are we to learn from these miracles? If someone were to work signs and wonders today, would that be a clear sign that God was behind what they were doing? We will seek to answer these and other questions through the stories of the healing of the nobleman's son (John 4) and the paralyzed man at the pool (John 5).
In John 4 Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well and has a noteworthy discussion with her. This passage has often been used to depict Jesus as the Great Women's Liberator. But, is this really what this passage teaches us? We will dig into the history of the Samaritans and their relationship with the Jews to gain insight into the liberation Jesus offers to all people of all the nations. We are also introduced to "living water", and called higher as we learn of Jesus' food: to do the will of the Father.
This passage of Scripture contains perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible: John 3:16. We look at this verse in its context, which not only shows how badly the verse is twisted and misunderstood by so many today but also reveals a message and means of salvation that will be hated by the world. It was for this message, which includes repentance from sin and Jesus as the only means to salvation, that Jesus was murdered. Will we, as Jesus' followers, be willing to proclaim the same message, with similar results? The lesson concludes with John the Baptist's example of humility as a spiritual leader, an upward call to us all as we strive to carry out God's work during our short time here on earth.
In John 3, Nicodemus encounters Jesus at night and is told that to enter the Kingdom of God, a person must be born of water and spirit. Nicodemus, a good-hearted teacher of Israel who will later stick his neck out for Jesus, is confused about what it means to be born again. Such is the case for so many Christians. This lesson deals with water baptism, an extremely controversial topic for much of the church today. We take a close look at Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that address water baptism, as well as at some of the stumbling blocks that make baptism such a difficult teaching for so many.
In John 2 we read two stories: Jesus performing his first miracle at a wedding in Cana and Jesus clearing out the temple. Jesus would go on to perform many miracles; why did He begin with turning water into wine? We also look at whether Christians should drink alcohol, and how we should relate to disciples who have different convictions on this. In the second story, we are challenged to imitate the zeal Jesus had for his Father's house, as well as the zeal of other heroes of faith in the Scriptures. Finally, we see Jesus proclaiming to skeptics that there would be one sign of His authority: His resurrection from the dead on the third day, the foundation of the Christian faith.
This lesson begins with a look at two very different versions of Christianity that we see today. Which version we choose will have a tremendous impact on how we respond to the harder teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Next, we tackle what the New Testament says about submission, a practical yet challenging topic. All Christians are commanded to submit to the governing authorities. Also, Christian servants are called to submit to their masters, wives to their husbands, and younger men to older men within the church. All of us are called to have a humble and submissive spirit. This is a practical lesson that addresses how we put these counter-cultural teachings into practice today.
In John chapter 5 Jesus told his critics that the Old Testament Scriptures testified about him. He pointed specifically to Moses and said, “If you believed in Moses you would believe in me, for he wrote about me”. Where did Moses actually write about Jesus, the Messiah? In this lesson, we examine one of the most detailed and faith-building prophecies in all of the Old Testament, from Moses. Ironically, this is a prophecy that is largely ignored or unappreciated by most modern Christians. This lesson will carry particular significance for those reaching out to friends from Muslim or Jewish backgrounds.
This talk was given on November 18, 2017 at a meeting of Society for the Two Tasks, a graduate student Christian apologetics group that meets on the Harvard University campus.
The story of Ruth is an inspiring tale of three unlikely individuals, who God would use in a remarkable way to accomplish His purposes. This study takes a close look at the character strengths of Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth, who set a standard for Christians today, that we might also be made useful for the designs and plans of our Great Redeemer.
In this lesson we discuss the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, which is mentioned in all four gospels. Why was Jesus' baptism necessary? Jesus then encounters his first disciples, and gives Simon the new name, ‘Peter’. What was the significance of that? We explore this question, the source of great controversy related to claims made by the Roman Catholic Church. Finally, we are introduced to Nathaniel, a good-hearted skeptic whose conversion still inspires us today to lead other truth-seekers to the Stairway to Heaven!
John the Baptist identifies Jesus as "the Lamb of God". Why a lamb, and not some other animal? Does this simply mean that Jesus was meek and harmless, or is there more to it? How would John's hearers have understood this expression? In this lesson we look at what this would have meant to John’s hearers, and the profound implications for all those who want to follow Jesus today.
John the Baptist was asked three questions: “Are you the Christ?”, “Are you Elijah?” and “Are you the Prophet?” John said he was not Elijah (whose return was prophesied in Malachi); however, Jesus said John was the Elijah to come. How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? Also, what is this reference to “the Prophet” all about? Does this refer to Mohammad, as claimed by 1.8 billion Muslims? In this lesson we use the Scriptures to answer that question, and dismantle one of the central claims of Islam in the process.
As we continue in the first chapter of John, we continue our deep dive into the identity of Christ, his divinity, and his appearances in the Old Testament. We are also introduced to John the Baptist, an important character in the beginning of all four Gospels. John was asked three questions: are you the Christ, are you Elijah, and are you the Prophet? We tackle the first of these (are you the Christ?) - a study that not only builds our own faith but also prepares us to give an answer to questions posed by Jews and Muslims.
The opening lines of the gospel of John are some of the deepest, most profound lines ever written. They introduce us to the divinity of the Son of God, His involvement in Creation, and His relation to the Father. In this lesson we begin our journey through this gospel, the favorite of many, and touch on its importance in our spiritual foundation.
Does God treat everyone the same, or does He play favorites? James A. Harding, an inspiring Christian teacher and preacher, tackled this question in the early 1900's and provided a startling and unforgettable answer. That answer takes us to Scripture that teaches us much about the character of God, as well as what can be expected by those devoted to and treasured by Him.
(To learn more about Harding's inspiring life and convictions, see James A. Harding, Evangelist and Teacher by John Mark Hicks)
What should Christians do with Christmas? Some desire to embrace the season, some focus on Jesus, some ignore the season completely. How do we maintain unity in the church with different opinions regarding Christmas? This lesson tackles these questions and provides insights for us related to the events surrounding the birth of Christ, including the significance of Jesus' name, the background of the magi, the role of Herod, and a prophecy about the star.
The Word of God is referred to as the sword of the Spirit and is to be our offensive weapon to overcome temptation and to understand the very heart and nature of God. Can it be said of each of us, that we are known for our diligent study of (and obedience to) the entire Bible? Can it be said of us, that our love for God's Word is so infectious that others are inspired to become serious students of the Scriptures as well? This lesson provides us several surprising images that have the potential of transforming our grasp and motivation to read and know the Word of God. The lesson also offers practical advice and inspiration to read through the Bible in a year.
This plan allows you to pick a start date and it will provide a customized plan to read through the Old the New Testaments in one year. (To work, you must download the file to your local drive.)
As the famine continues, Jacob moves his family to Egypt and reunites with his son Joseph. After seventeen years in Egypt, Jacob recognizes that death is approaching, and he blesses Joseph’s two sons. But this is an unusual blessing....
After being sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers, Joseph is falsely accused of a crime and spends two years in prison. Then, a remarkable turnaround....