Day: July 6, 2021

The Gospel of John – The Good Shepherd

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Jesus’ references here to a good shepherd and shepherding are pointed barbs at these hypocritical, self-serving figures. In this section, Jesus actually creates three separate metaphors; these are not meant to be understood as a single analogy. The first comes in verses 1 through 6, the second in verses 7 through 9, and the third in verses 10 through 18. In doing so, Jesus explains how He differs from the corrupt leaders He confronts. He also delivers His third and fourth ”I am” statements, out of seven in this gospel.

white sheep on farm, Good Shepherd
Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

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Enter through the narrow gate

The story continues from healing the blind man

Jesus continues without pause from the end of His conversation with the Pharisees who disputed His healing of the man born blind in chapter 9. Here, again, Jesus uses the “Amen, amen” construction. This uses a word that has come from Aramaic is almost unchanged in many other languages. It is an expression of agreement or hopefulness when used at the end of a statement. When used at the beginning of a sentence, it implies that the speaker is presenting first-hand, absolute truth.

This is the first of three related-but-separate analogies Jesus will make using the concept of shepherding.

1. Thief and a robber

Jesus begins the first metaphor by stating that someone who climbs the wall of a sheep enclosure “is a thief and a robber.” In that era, multiple flocks of sheep would be housed in a single walled-in enclosure. The sides were high enough to prevent sheep from getting out, and wild animals from getting in. This structure would have a single opening—and this was the only intended place for the sheep to come in or out. Anyone attempting to get into the pen without using the single door was, by definition, up to no good, a thief or a robber.

In the verses that follow, Jesus will continue to explain that only the legitimate shepherd can come in and out, and only that shepherd is approved by the gatekeeper. This teaching also relies on the unique way sheep naturally learn to respond only to the voice of “their” shepherd, and not to others.

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The flock know the shepherd voice

As mentioned earlier the sheep pens of that era were constructed with relatively high walls and a single door. Individual shepherds were known by their flocks purely by voice. To get a particular shepherd’s flock out, all that shepherd needed to do was call. In response, his sheep—and only His sheep—would come out.

Because these pens were built in this way, there was no legitimate reason for anyone else to enter the pens. The single door was where approved shepherds would be allowed to come in and out, and where their flocks would enter and leave. The only reason someone would enter the pen by climbing the wall is so they could harm or steal sheep.

Jesus continues in the next verses to explain that He, and He alone, is the “approved” shepherd, and those sheep which are His recognise Him by His voice. Strangers and thieves won’t be recognised by the sheep.

Listen for the voice of Jesus and respond with “Here I am, Good Shepherd” and follow Him.

At this point, Jesus is not speaking about heaven. His analogy has a well-defined purpose, not directly related to salvation or attaining eternal life. Those who are His, as it pertains to everlasting life, cannot be stolen in the way a robber in this particular analogy would do. Rather, this symbol is about how and why certain people respond to the message of the gospel, and others do not.

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2. The gatekeeper or “the door of the sheep”

The gatekeeper was not merely minding the opening. There were often no physical barriers across that opening, since a gatekeeper was always on duty. To rest, or even to sleep, the gatekeeper would literally lay across the gap. This will be used in Jesus’ second metaphor, where He claims to be “the door of the sheep.”

The gatekeeper of the pen would ensure that only approved shepherds—those who had claim on a flock inside—could get in or out. Anyone trying to climb over the walls was, by definition, up to no good. Those allowed in by the gatekeeper were legitimately allowed to be there.

Multiple flocks would be kept in a single pen. As mentioned earlier, to get a particular flock out, all the shepherd had to do was call. The sheep, having been raised and cared for by that single person, would respond. Members of other flocks would not come in response to that voice.

Jesus uses this analogy in response to the religious leaders of Jerusalem, who stubbornly refuse to recognise His miracles and His message. In plain terms, these men don’t listen to His voice because they are not “His” flock. They are, as Jesus pointed out in other discussions, subjects of Satan (John 8:42–47).

These me did not listen to Jesus because they were not “His.” Those who belong to God recognise the voice of God. But, like sheep from a foreign flock, those who belong to the Devil don’t respond when called by Christ.

Jesus continues this analogy with two more analogies that flesh out the idea that Jesus is the one and only means of salvation, and that those who are part of God’s kingdom will recognise no other voice except Him.

Those who don’t listen to Jesus voice are, in plain terms, “owned” by someone else. As Jesus pointed out in prior conversations, such people actually belong to Satan (John 8:42–47).

This is the first of three separate analogies Jesus uses that involve shepherding. As the following paragraphs show, the men to whom He speaks—the same religious leaders who criticised His healing of a man born blind (John 9)—will predictably fail to get the point.

What’s the point?

Of course, as those not inclined to listen to Jesus in the first place, these men fail to grasp the point being made. Instead, as seen in later, they will try to write Him off as a babbling maniac.

Jesus has just finished comparing His ministry to the voice of a shepherd. 

3. I am the good shepherd

Now Jesus makes the third of seven “I am” statements found in the gospel of John. In these remarks, Jesus evokes the words spoken to Moses by God in Exodus 3:14. Jews of that era knew exactly what such claims implied—when Jesus used those words in reference to Abraham earlier, they interpreted it as blasphemy and tried to kill Him (John 8:58–59).

Here, Jesus makes a separate metaphor, which is only partly related to the one just completed. Since the doorkeeper would typically lay across the opening to rest or sleep. In that way, the gatekeeper very literally became “the door” of the sheep pen.

Here, Jesus is implying that He, and He alone, is the means by which God intends people to come to God. His comment in the next passage, in particular, is meant to state that the prior religious leaders of the people were not the “true” leaders God intended. This concept also echoes, at least subtly, the single door God placed on the ark built by Noah—the one and only doorway through which mankind was saved from the wrath of God (Genesis 6:16).

Legitimate authority in Jesus

Jesus continues to explain that, like the door—the gatekeeper—He is the one and only legitimate authority for the sheep. The religious leaders who have controlled Israel to that point are like those trying to sneak into the sheep pen, or calling to sheep which are not theirs. They are, spiritually, thieves and robbers.

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This analogy brings several layers of meaning. First and foremost, it is only through the door that the sheep can “be saved.” This uses a Greek term, sōthēsetai, which implies something being kept safe, healed, or rescued from destruction. This is very dramatic terminology for literal sheep, though the pen was their best protection from wild animals. Jesus’ statement, then, is unusually direct in its spiritual implications. Jesus is that door, and the only door, an idea often repeated in the New Testament (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

Closely related to this, the door—Jesus, in this case—is what separates all sheep into two basic groups. Sheep are either “in” or “out”; they are “saved” or “unsaved.” There are no other categories, and no other options. This, also, supports the New Testament’s consistent teaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only means by which any person can be eternally saved.

Narrow is the gate to Heaven

Also, some interpreters see this as a reference to Jesus leading people out of Judaism and into its intended fulfillment, Christianity.

Everlasting life and spiritual abundance

Jesus begins His third and most detailed analogy. He has already compared the hypocritical, tradition-bound religious leaders to thieves. The purpose of a thief, so far as the flock is concerned, is only to wreak havoc; the robber causes mayhem for his own selfish gain. In the same way, ungodly people who claim to be spiritual cause suffering in others for the sake of their pride and greed (Titus 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:5).

In contrast, Jesus seeks to not just preserve life for the sheep, but to provide it. In the prior analogy, Jesus claimed that as the one and only door, He was the means by which a person could “be saved.” That Greek term, sōthēsetai, suggests rescue, protection, and healing. Here, Jesus deepens that claim by saying that His purpose is not only tied to life, but to an abundant life.

That “abundant” life means something more meaningful than material wealth and prosperity (Colossians 3:2–3; Matthew 6:25–32). It begins with salvation from an eternity of suffering the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). An abundant life is, first and foremost, eternal life. The abundant life means gaining a heavenly perspective, leading to a growing trust and knowledge of God. It means blossoming into a life full of the fruit of the spirit. While false teachers and false religions offer shallow, temporary relief.

Only Jesus brings truly everlasting life and spiritual abundance.

Humility and sacrifice

A main point of this third analogy is that Jesus is the “good shepherd,” in contrast to those who have selfish interests at heart. Jesus comes to offer life, and does so with humility and self-sacrifice. Prior statements compared some religious leaders to thieves and robbers, who purposefully take advantage of the flock for their own gain.

Here, Jesus refers to those who serve the flock, in a sense, but who are not motivated by love and self-sacrifice. A hired shepherd, for instance, is inclined to run away when the sheep are under severe threat. That hired hand is only interested in the sheep so long as he benefits; when serving the sheep means personal risk, he abandons them.

This describes those who purposefully take advantage of others using spiritual deception.

But it also applies to those who “passively” take advantage, by claiming spiritual authority or privilege without the service or sacrifice that position entails.

Eternal life

This statement is also important for its connection to a famous statement made later in this chapter. Jesus will claim that the life He offers is eternal, secure, and absolute: “no one will snatch them out of my hand.” The verb used here, is harpazei. Later one He uses this exact same root word, differing only in tense: harpasei. As the one and only “good shepherd,” Jesus will never allow any of “His” sheep to be taken from Him. Period.

Jesus is willing to lay down His life for the sake of “His” sheep.

It is important for believers to recognise Jesus’ voice and follow only Him. He is “the door,” like the single narrow gap in the ancient sheep pen. All people—like all sheep—were either “in” or “out” of this door, and only those “in Christ” can be saved.

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Jesus also reiterates a point made in His first analogy related to shepherding (John 10:1–6). Ancient shepherds spent considerable time with their flocks, from the moment of a lamb’s birth. As such, sheep were acutely tuned to the voice of their shepherd, and only theirs. Sheep would instinctively ignore—or even flee from—the voice of a stranger. Jesus’ sheep, on the other hand, know His voice and respond to it. And, as a “good shepherd,” He knows every detail about those for whom He cares.

Jesus compares that closeness a shepherd has with his sheep and His intimacy with the relationship between God the Son and God the Father. This echoes other statements in the New Testament which imply that salvation through Jesus Christ brings us into an intimate family relationship with God (1 John 3:1; Romans 8:16–17).

Controversial comments from Jesus

The comments Jesus makes controversial to Jesus’ audience. Jesus is claiming to be the sole legitimate means of salvation for mankind (John 10:1–13), and even indicating that He will bring “other sheep,” meaning Gentiles, into this intimate relationship with God (John 10:14–16). Those remarks, in and of themselves, would have been tough for His critics to digest.

Jesus again refers to His impending death. This is a point over which even His own disciples argued (Mark 8:31–33). Jesus has already implied that He is willing to die for the sake of His spiritual “sheep,” as “the Good Shepherd” described earlier (John 10:10–14). This statement goes further and indicates that God the Father has special affection for Jesus specifically because He is laying down His life for the sake of these people. This is echoed in other New Testament Scriptures (Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:19–21; Hebrews 2:9).

Jesus reiterates that this is not a matter of theory: He will truly die. However, Jesus also predicts that He will resurrect from that death based on authority given Him by God.

It’s not shocking, then, to see many who were listening to Jesus’ words dismiss Him as a raving lunatic. He claims to be the sole example of a “good shepherd,” with special favor from God, who will soon rise from the dead. Others, of course, point out that Jesus’ miraculous signs make it very awkward to believe He’s insane or demonically possessed.

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Here, Jesus clarifies: this is exactly what He’s saying.

Command from the Father

John 10:18: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.'”

The context of these remarks is important: Jesus is still debating with religious critics who are angry over His recent miracle (John 9). There, Jesus gave sight to a man born blind, which sparked debates that did not end well for the local religious leaders.

Now, Jesus continues to explain His role as “the Good Shepherd,” which includes His willingness to die for the sake of His sheep. That sacrificial love, Jesus says, is a reason He has special favor with God the Father (John 10:17; Philippians 2:9). It’s possible, in some sense, that those listening might have assumed Jesus prior statement was just an assumption. In other words, that Jesus was “willing” to die, not that He “would die.” Talk of Christ’s death is something Jesus’ closest followers often struggled to accept.

As He continues, Jesus makes it clear that His role as “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:10–14) and “the Door” (John 10:7–9) not only includes an actual death, it also includes resurrection. That death is entirely voluntary—it is not something into which Jesus is being coerced (Matthew 26:53). And it will result in a resurrection, based on divine power and authority (John 2:19–21). In this relatively brief statement, Jesus claims to have power over life and death—even His own—as granted to Him by God. He predicts His own death and revival.

The grand nature of those ideas may be a reason that—at least here—the crowd doesn’t seem to react with accusations of blasphemy, as they do in other passages (John 5:18). In simple terms, what Jesus says is so outlandish that it suggests two other possibilities. The audience seems torn between Jesus being possessed—the ancients’ reference to insanity—and being a miraculously-verified messenger (John 10:19–21).

Division amongst the Jews

Many of Jesus’ words were divisive (John 7:43; 9:16). To some extent, His entire existence drives separation between human beings (Matthew 10:34–36; Psalm 53:1; Acts 25:19). Jesus even claimed to be “the Door” and the sole means of salvation (John 10:7–9); that implies a division of people into one of only two categories, saved and unsaved.

The specific words referred to here are Jesus’ comments about being killed and raised from death (John 10:15–18). This conversation happens immediately after Jesus has given sight to a man born blind (John 9). That sparked a debate where Jesus laid out three shepherding-related analogies to explain His ministry (John 10:1–14). The miracle leads some to believe Jesus is a legitimate messenger of God (John 10:21), others to suggest He’s a nutcase (John 10:20).

As always, how a person responds to Christ has everything to do with their own spiritual state (John 10:1–5). Those who want to follow God will respond accordingly (John 7:17). Those who don’t will find a way to resist, no matter what (John 5:39–40). Miracles and truthful teaching ought to lead people to accept Him (John 3:1–2), but a hard heart can always make excuses (Matthew 12:31; Luke 11:15).

This passage does not say how the rest of this encounter plays out; the last verses only show the two main views of the crowd. After that, the narrative will leap ahead several months.

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Insanity or God’s work

To some in the audience, this claim is bizarre enough that they think Jesus is crazy. This isn’t the first time people have suggested that He is mentally ill. At one point, His own family tried to bring Him home, thinking He had lost His mind (Mark 3:21). His critics sometimes accused Him of insanity—considered a form of demonic possession in that era—in order to discredit Him (John 8:48–52).

Others, however, point to Jesus’ miracles and other signs to suggest He’s telling the truth (John 3:1–2). The supernatural signs, especially, make it hard to accept the idea that Jesus is a raving lunatic (John 9:16).

There are two main positions of the crowd; no particular resolution is given. After recording the basic response of the audience, John’s gospel skips ahead several months to a different incident.

In contrast, those miracles are the main point referenced by the other major faction in the crowd.

They, like others before, rightly recognise that these are “signs” meant to give divine approval to Jesus’ message!


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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 3 comments

Trinity – The Holy Trinity

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The Holy Trinity!

God the Lion – Hosea 11:10

The Holy Trinity is God the Lion

Photo by Zaheer Ali

They will walk after the Lord,
He will roar like a lion;
Indeed He will roar
And His sons will come trembling from the west.

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Jesus the Lamb – John 1:29

The Holy Trinity is the Lamb of God

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

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Holy Spirit the Dove – Luke 3:22

The Holy Trinity is a white dove

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and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased

The Trinity is the Christian foundation

The Trinity is the foundation, content, and goal of Christian faith and devotion. In salvation, the Father sends the Son to save his people through the power of the Spirit. Likewise, Christians are reconciled to God the Father through the life, death, and resurrection of the Son through the power Spirit, who is our seal and guarantee of our inheritance. The church is the body of the Son which the Father has called into existence by his Spirit to be his holy temple. As such, Christians are to live as members of the Father’s family, who are devoted to the Son, in the power of the Spirit.

The Trinity is the atmosphere in which Christian faith and devotion thrives. Christians are engaged to Christ and they look forward to the consummation of their engagement at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. They belong to God’s family and they love God’s people. They are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who fills the household with the holiness of Christ, in heart, speech, and behavior. The Trinity is integral to the gospel because the saving power of the Triune God is the gospel. If the gospel creates Christian faith, then Christian devotion should be as Trinitarian as the gospel on which it rests

A glimpse of the Trinitarian

The book of Ephesians gives us a glimpse of the Trinitarian devotion that should characterize both believers and the church. Paul illustrates this fact by describing how the Triune God comes to us, how we return to him, how he dwells among us, and how he drives church life. These four points result in two parallel pairs: the Triune God relates to us and we respond to him, both as individuals and as the church. As we live in this atmosphere of devotion to the Triune God, we must learn to breathe deep and exhale praise to the Triune God who saves us.

How the Triune God Comes to Us

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“To the Praise of His Glorious Grace” (Eph. 1:6).

God comes to us from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit. This is the gospel, plain and simple. The gospel is less a list of benefits, than it is the saving work of divine persons. The Father is of no one. He often represents the majesty of the entire Trinity, as he does here, since the whole work of redeeming sinners is “to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). The Son is of the Father. He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of his person (Heb. 1:3). The Spirit is of the Father and the Son (John 15:26). He is of the Father through the Son (John 14:26). These relations cannot be communicated to the other divine persons, though all of them are equally divine. Neither can this order be reversed. Every act of God originates with the Father, is executed by the Son, and is perfected by the Spirit. God created the world by speaking through his eternal Word, the Son, and the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep (Gen. 1:1–2John 1:1–5). The Father sent the Son to become man and the Spirit hovered over Mary’s womb, uniting true deity with true humanity (Luke 1:35). All three persons work in everything God does because the one God is Triune.

God does what he does because he is who he is. He saves through his Son and by his Spirit because the Son is eternally of the Father and the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. God saves from the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. We bless the Father who has blessed us by choosing us before the foundation of the world in Christ (Eph. 1:3–4). These blessings are spiritual and heavenly. Their purpose is that “we should be holy and blameless before him.” The destination to which he has appointed us is adoption into his family, with all the rights and privileges that come with it in Christ (1:5–6). He does this by redeeming us in Christ’s blood, displaying the riches of his grace in the forgiveness of our sins (1:7). Christ united the Father’s family, whether in heaven or on earth, revealing the mystery of God’s wise counsel so that we might receive our inheritance as we hope in Christ (1:8–12). We can trust that God’s plans will not fail because he works all things according to the counsel of his will (1:11). The Spirit ensures that none of these things will be in vain. He brings about faith in the gospel of salvation through “the word of truth.” He is the seal that God owns us and he is the guarantee that we will come into our inheritance (1:13–14).

The Triune God creates the Christian family. The Father chose us, the Son redeemed us, and the Spirit is God’s seal of approval on us. Do we inhale the fresh air of the gospel as the Triune God gives life to our souls?

How We Return to the Triune God

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“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18)

We return to God by the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. We are who we are, as Christians, because God does what he does in bringing us back to himself. We are apostates by nature. We were dead in our sins and children of wrath (Eph. 2:1, 3). Adam was exiled from God’s presence and we became strangers to God through him (Rom. 5:12–20Eph. 2:12). We did not know God because we did not know Christ. We come near again through Christ’s blood because Christ is our peace (2:13–14; Mic. 5:5). He removes the hostility between God and mankind that spills over into human relationships by killing the enmity and by removing every case of separation (2:15–16). Christ speaks peace to our hearts when we hear his Word preached (2:17; Rom. 10:14–17). The Spirit seals this word in our hearts so that “in one Spirit” we have access to the Father through faith in Christ (Eph. 2:18). Our glorious Trinitarian gospel finds reflection in a glorious Trinitarian salvation. It takes the work of the whole Trinity to make us “no longer strangers and aliens,” but “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Christ himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19–20). The Spirit changes us so that Christ becomes lovely to us so that we believe in God through him. In this one Spirit, the Father’s election comes to fruition by applying Christ’s redemption to us so that we may inherit his Fatherly blessings.

The Triune God ensures that the children come into the household. Do we exhale the fresh air of the gospel as the Spirit gives us breath to come to the Father through Christ?

How the Triune God Dwells Among Us

“In him you are also being built into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22)

God dwells among us in Christ by the Spirit. God’s actions, which reflect his being, result in a church. The structure of the church is joined together in Christ so that it may be “a holy temple to the Lord.” The builder is the Spirit, who uses the teaching of the apostles and prophets as tools to fashion the building. As Christians, we are the living stones that he builds with (1 Pet. 2:5). As individuals, we are temples of the Spirit who dwells in us (1 Cor. 6:19). Yet the temple is only fully realized in the church as a whole (1 Cor. 3:16). God dwells in and shines in you as a Christian. Yet God’s presence shines most brightly in the church to which every Christian is joined and must be part of. The church is the object of Christ’s death (Acts 20:28), it is the temple in which God lives, and it is the location of the Spirit’s presence as well as the sphere in which he works.

The Triune God makes the church his home. Do we breathe in his work with our brothers and sisters? Do we share the Christian faith and life with them?

How We Live with the Triune God in the Church

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“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in you all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph. 4:4–7).

We live with God in the Spirit as a church through faith in Christ. Who we are as Christians determines how we live with God’s people. We must walk humbly, gently, and patiently with one another in love, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2–3). This is the only way we can walk worthy of God’s calling (4:1). We cannot do it alone. Our behavior towards one another is grounded in our relation to the persons of the Trinity. The one body in the one Spirit reflects our common hope and common call (4:4). We are all baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). We are also baptized into “one Lord” Jesus, in whom we share a common faith (Eph. 4:5Acts 2:38). This is because there is one Triune God and one incarnate Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). The Father is above us, but he is also through us and in us, uniting the family in its goals and purposes (Eph 4:6). While Christ has graciously given gifts to each of us (4:7), he did not give them to us for our sakes. When we are more concerned that our gifts are underutilized in the church than we are with serving Christ and his church through them, we have turned Christ’s gracious provision into something perverse. As individuals, we reflect the image of God, but it is only through serving in a unified though diverse church that we can reflect the unity and diversity in the Trinity.

The Triune God leads the children how to live together. Do we breathe out his work in us as we serve our brothers and sisters rather than ourselves?

Conclusion: Living to Praise the Triune God

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The Father’s family is the atmosphere in which his children are devoted to him through his Son and by his Spirit. We know this reality better by its effects than by definition. Though the Spirit’s work is only implied in it, Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14–21 marks the beginning, middle, and end of Trinitarian devotion:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The lines between prayer and doxology are blurry in Trinitarian devotion. We move from prayer to praise and back again. Our focus on the glory of God overflows to the good of others. We pray that all would “know the love of Christ that passes knowledge,” that they and we “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” This is according to “the power at work within us,” which is by the Spirit, who unites us to the Savior. To the praise of God’s glorious grace, we come to him through his Son and by his Spirit, so that we may be a temple to God in the Spirit and use Christ’s gifts to serve the Father of our family as one body in the Spirit. This fuels our prayers as the Spirit of Christian devotion ignites our praise to God.

We live and move and have our being in God (Acts 17:28). Yet we do not have a generic faith in a generic God. As Christians, our highest privilege is knowing God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is fundamental to the message of Ephesians. It should not surprise us that the Trinity permeated Paul’s prayers and his praise. Does it permeate ours? Do we live in communion with the Triune God, as individuals and together? Does our faith rest on the Father, through his Son, and by his Spirit? Does this make a difference in our devotion to God? Does it affect our understanding of the gospel and our evangelism? Does it filter into our worship, our service, our gifts, our families, and our work? Paul pulls us on a straight path toward being Trinitarian in fact and not in name only. “For from him, and to him, and through him, are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen!” (Rom. 11:26). The path is from God, to God, and through God in all things, by the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father.

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Learning from Christian Persecutions- Radical Faith!

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Holy Trinity, 0 comments

#2 Lies Christians Believe

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Clichés that harm the Christian Faith

Another lies Christian believe is whether or not God who you think He is, or is it all a lie us Christians believe? It’s better in fact – He is the greatest.

There are many Christian clichés we’ve all heard somewhere before but they are un-biblical lies. These clichés although innocent, are harmful to our faith and they keep far too many believers stuck in spiritual immaturity. Let’s replace these clichés with truths about God from the Bible, that will bring encouragement and freedom to our lives.

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First posts in this series:

#1 Lies Christians Believe

Scriptures



Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 1 Peter 1:3-12

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Is God gaining new angels every day?

According to statistics on worldsometers.info, there have been over 19,000,000 deaths this year (at the time of writing). What does the word of God say about humans and angels? Does it mean God has received over 19,000,000 new angels this year? Plainly and simply put: humans are humans, and angels are angels. Even in eternity. According to 1 Peter 1:12, angels long to look into these things“, the interaction between God and His humans.

We are God’s favourite

This is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us in the Gospels.

God loves us more than He loves His angels.

Consider this – God sent Jesus for us. God loved us that He sent His Son to become one of us (fully God and fully man) to die as one of us, for us! Christ died for us, not for His angels.

Through Christ’s resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death for us, not His angels. Through faith in the Son of God, we get to experience grace, hope, and complete forgiveness for our rebellion against Him. Angels never get to experience this!

It’s actually better for you to be a human than to be an angel.

When we or loved ones die

When loved ones die, God calls another believer to come home. Your loved one sees Jesus face to face. They leave this temporary place and temporary body, and they go to their eternal home in the arms of the loving Father. Take absolute peace knowing that God and His Word can be trusted. Let the promises of the Scriptures mend your broken heart, giving you confidence that your loved ones, if they knew Jesus, are more alive today than you are—not as angels but as fully glorified humans being with perfect hearts that are no longer susceptible to sin, minds that are no longer susceptible to depression, and bodies that are no longer susceptible to disease or death. 

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 3:3

What is the most helpful way to care for someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one? 

Name a time when someone ministered to you when you were grieving. What specifically did this person say or do that really helped you? 


Truth

God is not gaining new angels; rather, He is calling believers home.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Lies Christians Believe, 0 comments