How to Become an Overcomer

This sermon was preached at the Shades Mill conversation area on Father’s Day, June 17, 2018!

How do you overcome? Life seems to be about overcoming. We overcome not being able to walk and talk when we are babies. We overcome going off to school without our mommy or daddy. We overcome cuts and bruises. We overcome exams and tests. We overcome broken relationships. We overcome our fear of being rejected and we land that first job. We overcome the pain of miscarriage and finally have that child. We overcome losing our job. We overcome cancer or some other disease. We overcome even the heat today by finding shade. How do you overcome?

I want to talk about overcoming today and particularly overcoming evil. When we read about 2 little sisters getting shot on playground in Toronto, we can all agree that there is evil in this world. That evil is from within and from without. Behind, the evil from without is the Devil. He really exists and incites evil. Even if you are skeptical about Christianity, doesn’t it make sense that there is an outside force or better yet, a personality that tempts us and sometimes controls us to do evil?

But we can’t blame the devil for everything. There is also evil from within. A little baby is inherently selfish. This is why they throw a tantrum, even though we may think it cute at first. This is why siblings fight. Even to this very day in your life, and some of you may be more seasoned than others, you are still battling to overcome your selfish desires. You are battling yourself.

I think this is one of the reasons why it is so hard to be a dad. Dads have to overcome a lack of resources and provide for their family. Dads have to know and overcome when their children are bullied or hurt. Dads have to overcome when their family turns to them to figure things out and we dads have no clue what we are doing. Dads have to overcome their own demons and struggles. Who are fathers here today? Fathers, God has written you a letter. It is a Dear Dad letter, but not like one you might get from your kids on Father’s Day. You know the ones where they tell you that you are the # 1 Dad in the World and give you a mug to commemorate the declaration. No, this Dear Dad letter is from your father, but not your earthly father. This Dear Dad letter is from the ultimate father, your Heavenly Father. The Dear Dad letter is to the point – one short verse! God writes a letter through the Apostle John, one of Jesus’ top disciples. The letter is known today as the First Letter of John. And the specific part of the letter that I want to focus on is 1 John 2:14. You can look it up on your smart phones or just listen to me read it: I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.” The verse immediately begs the question: DO YOU KNOW HIM? Who is the “Him” John is referring to? The verse before gives us the clue. 1 John 2:13 states, “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.” So the link back to the “Him” in verse 14 is to the capital “F” Father – our Heavenly Father.

And we are to know Him from the beginning. What beginning? The beginning of the universe! The beginning of this earth! Today, we sit here outside and there is much evidence to how our Father created this world. Think about the ingenious way the tree is able to produce leaves which uses photosynthesis to turn sunlight into energy. Our Father created trees to overcome a lack of energy. Amazing how God did that! Or think about the roots that many of us are sitting on top of. These roots are complex conduits that form an elaborate underground maze that brings water to the tree. Trees overcome a lack of water or rain, like we have had recently. Speaking of rain, think about how the lakes and oceans produces water vapor (some of you feel that vapor on this hot and humid day) and then it rises in the atmosphere to form tiny water droplets called condensation. “These then turn into clouds and when they all combine together, they grow bigger and are too heavy to stay up there in the air and so they fall to the ground to form rain.”[1] And that rain is what helps make these big trees and so the trees grow until they mature to reproduce with things like acorns. Acorns are distributed by the squirrels! I could go on with the whole life cycle, but you get the point, God’s creation is utterly amazing and overcoming.

And so do you know Him? Do you know God as Father and Creator? If not, you can today. All you have do is acknowledge that you disobeyed God and need to seek His forgiveness for your sins. You cannot overcome your sins on your own. Trying harder doesn’t work. Behavioral modification doesn’t work. You need your Heavenly Father to step in. This is what 1 John 2:12 promises, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.” We become God’s children by seeking forgiveness. Very few people are good at seeking forgiveness. They do not understand that it is more than saying sorry, it is a relational transaction. Forgiveness comes from the Latin word “perdonare.” Our word “pardon” finds its root in “perdonare.” And so to forgive means “to give completely without reservation.”[2] Therefore, to forgive is to give all you have. Let’s say I took some of your favourite dessert. In fact, this dessert is so good that you didn’t just want to show it off at our church picnic, but you kept a whole other pan of dessert for yourself. But I found it and stole it from you. I cannot pay you back. It is already in my stomach. Offering money maybe restitution, but it isn’t forgiveness. Instead, forgiveness is when you say, “I choose to take that loss fully upon myself. I will cover the loss of my dessert. And here is the next level: it may mean giving the whole pan of dessert to the one who stole from you.

So today the Good News is that God the Father is offering you full forgiveness. He wants to overcome sin in your sin and even has the audacity to make you His child. He wants to adopt you as His children. And this is the best thing that can happen to you and me. However, notice in verse 12 that the verse says that we are forgiven and made God’s children for His name’s sake. And so I ask again, do you know God the Father who forgives you of your sins? If you do, we would encourage you to state publicly that you are God’s child. And this is also why we encourage you to be baptized. You see, Jesus Himself was baptized and when He came up out of the water, a Voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son, whom I love and whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Now there might not be a voice from heaven that we all hear when you get baptized, but God does love you and declare that you are fully forgiven and He is well pleased with you because of what His Son Jesus did for you by dying on a Cross for all your sins.

If you get baptized today, you can tell others you have decided to follow Jesus and that you are part of God’s family. You are an overcome by the grace of Jesus Christ. We will even give you a T-shirt and shorts to wear as we baptize you in the lake declaring you have decided to follow Jesus.

Following Jesus means others will follow you. Back to 1 John 2:14 we read, “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” When you follow Jesus, the young men and women, the next generation becomes strong. They become overcomers. This is because the Word of God abides in us and we are able to overcome the evil one.

This is track season for the public schools. I love track. One of my favourite events is the 4 X 100 relay. I see the Word of God like that baton. We may be down and behind, but we overcome. We keep the Word of God with us as we race throughout life, but we must also pass it on. And this leads to others succeeding as well and the whole team defeats the enemy. Others become overcomers when you tell them the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

My friends, do you know God as your Father today by believing in His Son Jesus? Are you both diligent and vigilant? Diligent in studying God’s Word and vigilant in applying God’s Word. If you do, you will be an overcomer.

Fathering is one of the most difficult jobs on planet earth. We need help. Some say parenting doesn’t come with a manual. Actually, it does! It comes with a manual and a model. The manual is God’s Word and the model is God the Father. Know God by receiving His forgiveness first and get to know Him better by remaining in His Word! This is the only way to become an overcomer!

[1] Source: https://www.coolkidfacts.com/how-is-rain-formed/. Accessed June 14, 2018.

[2] Source: http://www.word-detective.com/2007/12/forgive/. Accessed June 14, 2018.

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The Real Jesus Creates Real Fellowship

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

Many students are getting close to the dreaded exam and final test season. It is a season of separation. Exams separate students from their friends. It starts with studying. You hole yourself away in your room by yourself trying to cram everything you can that the teacher taught you or that you have read. You stay up late, maybe all night like this guy who actually pinned his hair to the wall to keep from falling asleep during studying! I bet texting numbers during high school exams week go down as students bear down on their studies. Then students take the test. Most exams and tests I have taken have caused me separation, even if it was temporary. I found myself sitting at my desk and taking the test all by myself and not being able to even look at, let alone talk, to my neighours. Fellowship during exams is a no-no! Exams cause separation and isolation, which may be one of the reasons why they cause so much anxiety.[1] And research has shown that such anxiety reduces academic performance. Maybe you students should tell your teachers that exams are really hurting your grades? Do you think you might get some sympathy? My wife had to take an exam recently in her Master’s degree program and it was highly stressful for her and the rest of the family. It created separation between her and the rest of the family and as anybody knows, mothers are the hub of the family. Add to her separation from us as a family, Lori is a social person and would rather be with people than studying alone. Exams often create isolation. Exams divide people.

But what if I told you that God’s exams do not cause separation but instead they can even bring connection. Today we begin a series on studying the book of 1 John. I believe it is a timely book for a whole host of reasons. One of the reasons is that maybe some of you feel a little lonely after giving birth to Restoration Church. We are missing some of our key leaders and vital volunteers who went on mission with Jesus to disciple the people of Southwood Community turning broken people into whole people. But we can find help in 1 John. If you read the background to 1 John located on the back of your sermon notes that Dr. Wayne Baxter has so graciously prepared, you will find out, “A significant split had taken place amongst the Jewish Christian congregations in Ephesus, primarily over the doctrine of Christ and its implications. John writes to those left behind to reassure them in their faith and to strengthen them against doctrinal and ethical deception.” Now, unlike the congregations in Ephesus, we did not split with Restoration Church, and our belief in Jesus as the Son of God come in the flesh, fully God and fully man, is the central belief of Temple and Restoration. But we need to be reassured of our faith. So we are studying 1 John to be reminded that Jesus hasn’t left. He is still here. He is still with us!

Another reason why we are studying 1 John is because we have just finished studying the Gospel of John where we learned the identity of Jesus, which has transformed and given us a new identity. Now, we want to learn the practical implications of Jesus being revealed as the Word and Son of God and how we are to live that out. This has a lot to do with how we love one another and show hospitality. Time and again we will be reminded that if we do not love one another, we do not love God. This is an area that our leadership has identified that we need and want to grow in. And don’t think practicing hospitality will cause us to be more insular and form our own little holy huddles because if we truly love one another, then it will overflow into our community and the world will see who we belong to – Jesus, the source and epitome of love.

And so we are studying 1 John to be reminded that Jesus hasn’t left our church and that we need to focus on loving one another, a third reason why we are studying 1 John is to test ourselves to see if we are truly of the Faith – that we are truly followers of Jesus Christ. We will take three tests called the doctrinal test (what we really believe about Jesus); the moral test (how we obey Jesus) and the social test (how we love one another). As Daniel Akin summarizes all the books that the Apostle John wrote, “John wrote the Gospel of John to convert sinners. He wrote the epistles of John to confirm the saints. And He wrote the Book of Revelation to coronate the Savior.”[2] John the Apostle wants us to love and worship Jesus and this overflows into loving others. Let’s start with 1 John 1:1-4 and see how the book begins. Read 1 John 1:1-4!

Since this letter was written nearly 60 years after Christ had died in the early 90s AD, many of its readers would not have seen, heard or touched Jesus. Therefore, we all can relate. None of us has had the privilege of being around when Jesus was on earth and performed His miracles and taught the people the Good News of His Kingdom. It has been nearly 2000 years later. And some in that day, like today, thought that Jesus was just a figment of their imagination or that He was an ideal of how to live out a good life. In other words, there are some people who think that we follow Christ as the ideal of our Faith. They may call Him the Christ-figure, but they do not believe in the historical person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God come in the flesh who lived and walked among us human beings. In fact, He went further and actually became one of us humans. But the Apostle John in his old age, declares he saw Jesus, he heard Jesus and he was so close to Jesus that touched Jesus. What a reminder for us older folks that you need to testify about your God Stories and encounters with the living Christ! Seasoned saints, please tell us about how you have encountered Jesus all these years. We desperately need to hear your stories. Does anybody want to give a 30 second testimony of how Jesus has changed your life?

To see, hear and touch Jesus was one of the key declarations by John. The Gospel of John ends with Jesus showing up in the midst of the disciples and inviting them see, hear and touch Him. Recall in John 20:24-29 how Jesus showed the nail marks in His hands, and His feet and His side to Doubting Thomas, one of His disciples. Or recall how Jesus met the disillusioned Peter who had denied knowing Jesus. Jesus sat down to breakfast with Peter and restored him to fellowship and leadership (John 21:12). Though Jesus was from heaven, He was very earthy in His approach to His disciples’ needs. And this reminds us both of John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood,”[3] as The Message paraphrases. Jesus really cared about and still cares about what happens on earth and in our lives. This is why He is called the Word of Life in 1 John 1:1. He speaks and life happens. He enters into our lives and gives us a new life.

Our God is not like gods who seem to be removed or aloof from our lives or are so transcendent that they cannot relate to us like the Muslim God. And our God is not like some religions whose gods are essentially parts of creation. Millions still worship idols made of wood or stone like many in the Hindu religion. Many more billions worship food or plastic in the West trying to manipulate for control, a sense of purpose, pleasure or prestige. But our God transcends creation and at the same time is imminent with His Creation, especially since Jesus came from heaven to become human. The Creator became a Creature! THE WORD BECAME FLESH! That is foundational. That is what the phrase “what was from the beginning” points to. Even going back to the very first book in the Bible, which declares in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth,” we find Jesus as the Word of God who very much cared for and engaged His creation. He did not create the universe and walk away. He engaged creation!

And He is engaging you today! Here is what 1 John 4:1-4 teaches us in a sentence: The real Jesus creates real fellowship! The real Jesus creates real fellowship. Let me break that down for you. God offers you the Word of Life Who produces joyful fellowship with God and each other. God didn’t just want to be a voice from heaven as He had from the days of old. God wanted to show up in the flesh. He wanted us to experience Him as we would any other person. Notice verse 1 that John declares, “What was from the beginning” meaning the Word of God is eternal! He had no start! He was before everything else was. The Creator decided to show up in His Creation as a Creature. He was visible, audible and touchable. That’s exactly what we read in verse 1, “what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.” This would have been mind blowing to John’s Jewish and Greek audience alike. When Pastor Aaron told us preached on John 1:1-13, he explained the word Logos meant that “Jesus was the Word of God. This would have sounded to the Greeks reading it that Jesus was the intellectual nirvana they were desperately searching for, while at the same time to the Jews, that Jesus was the Torah, the Law of God.” Think about the best thought you have ever had. The Logos is 100 billion times greater than that and yet He isn’t just a thought, but a Person who came in the flesh to be with us.

But why did He have to come? Because we failed the test! The first test ever given was simple: eat everything but one fruit from one tree! Yet, the first human beings, Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and thus chose to walk away and try to hide from God. We chose dis-fellowship. And ever since, we have been separated from God … until the Word of Life came and became flesh. That Word of Life goes by another name. Do you know it? Do you know Him?

The amazing good news is that He didn’t want you to be alone anymore. God wasn’t alone. He had Himself expressed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but He wanted and still wants to have fellowship with you. Isn’t that what verse 3 declares? “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Do you see how Jesus is the connector to God the Father and also connects us to each other?

Have you ever met one of those people who seems to know everybody? Sometimes they are called connectors or mavens. Jesus is the ultimate connector. He is the one at the party who introduces you to His Father and all His family and friends. He wants to hang out with you. He wants you to be one of His peeps! Jesus can connect you with people so different than you to the point that “the fellowship that exists among followers of Jesus is far richer and deeper than that of a college fraternity or sorority… We Christians must never forget that we have more in common with a Chinese Christian, an African sister and a brother in South America than a next door neighbour, who does not know Christ.”[4]

And so here are two practical action steps from today’s message: 1) Ask Jesus to create greater fellowship between you and others. I am trying to do this in my missional relationships. This week my baseball team underperformed in a game. After the game, it is the time for me as the head coach to address the team. Before I went into the dressing room, I asked Jesus, what do you want me to say? Remember, Jesus is at the heart of fellowship and our team was not having good fellowship. We were not on the same page. We were not 2 or 15 fellows in the same ship. Instead of being all emotional and laying into them, Jesus allowed me to remain calm and call them to greater commitment. It seemed to have worked because Jesus was giving me His words because afterwards I got to share the gospel with one of my Assistant Coaches. And the next night at the ball park, our team played another game where we gelled together. I wonder if we tried this same principle at work or at school or at home when we are at odds with one another. Ask Jesus to re-establish fellowship with God and one another. It starts with acknowledging that Jesus is the connector and source of our all our fellowship.

The second step is one we are going to do right now: 2) We are going to pray together before we take Communion. Communion is the ultimate reminder of Jesus’ re-establishing fellowship with us and God. Gather in groups of 3 or 4 and ask what situation they need Jesus to show Himself to be real in? We will pray and when I think we are ready, I will call our Elders and Deacons to come up and serve communion to you. It goes without saying that we have to be in a right relationship with each other to pray together. So if you need to reconcile with somebody before praying and taking communion together, please do so.

[1]  Andrews, B.; Wilding, J. M. (2004). “The relation of depression and anxiety to life-stress and achievement in students”. British Journal of Psychology. 95: 509–521.

[2] Daniel Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition – 1, 2, & 3 John (Nashville: Holman Reference, 2014), 4.

[3] Eugene Peterson, The Message (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2002), 1916.

[4] Akin, 9.


Become a Restorer

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

I am not going to prison that I know of, but I do feel like the Apostle Paul in Acts 20. In Acts 20:17-38, we read that Paul gives his farewell speech to the Ephesian church before heading to Jerusalem where he would be arrested and ultimately shipped back to Rome to be beheaded for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. He did so with much tears of joy.

I have tears of joy as well. As I spent time writing encouragement cards to each member of the Restoration Church launch team, who I call Restorers, it was bittersweet for me. Bitter only because I hate good-byes and I know that life will never be the same even if those going aren’t going far, just across town. As I look over the list of 37 Restorers with two more in utero, I considered it one of the great privileges of my life to be their pastor these almost 6 years. By the way, if you haven’t written an encouragement to them yet, I hope you will today. And if there is something between you and them, make sure you get it right first. We are big time into reconciliation and restoration at this church because Jesus is big time into reconciliation and restoration. This is why each member going with Restoration Church is leaving with our full blessing and that there is not an issue between us and the church that we are aware of. If you don’t write an encouragement card, please speak to them in person or take them out for lunch.

When I arrived at Temple, I made it clear that one of my core values was to multiply disciples and churches. I vividly recall looking over the church on the weekend I candidated here and with sadness knew that I would be saying good-bye to some because I knew some were not far from seeing Jesus. What I hadn’t fully projected was that the some of the ones that I would personally disciple and worked closest with would be the ones who would take up the call and task of planting a church. Many of those going are pastors, interns and deacons. They have served well and because of being faithful with the little, God is entrusting them with more. The catch and release practice of making fishers of men is joyful and hard at the same time. However, nothing, and I mean, nothing thrills me more to know that you are joining Jesus in making disciples and restoring those who were lost. This is the only reason why we would plant a church – to join Jesus in seeking and saving the lost. It is crazy to give up some of our best to the Lord and His mission of turning broken people into whole people, but I believe this is what the Kingdom of God is all about. It is demonstrated best by Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who risked the 99 to save the one (Luke 15:3-7). That is reckless and risky unless you are the one who is lost and being rescued.

And so in the last sermon I will preach, I want to challenge both Restoration Church and us all to become Restorers. We find out how to become a Restorer through the greatest church planter to ever live, the Apostle Paul and what he says in Acts 20:17-38. Let’s read Acts 20:17-38 to see how to become a Restorer. Read Acts 20:17-38!

Be a Restorer by consistently serving the Lord with: 1) Humility; 2) Compassion; 3) Endurance; 4) Boldness; and 5) Generosity. Time does not permit me to go in depth over each characteristic of a Restorer, but these characteristics should be self-evident and Spirit-produced. This means that you should look for these in yourself and your leaders and you should ask for them by the power of the Holy Spirit. The first characteristic is humility. Paul says in Acts 20:17 that he “served the Lord with all humility.” Paul was at one time a terrorist towards Christians and Jesus so humbled him that he blinded Paul. Paul had a massive blind spot, not understanding the Gospel, and so God wanted to heal him of his spiritual blindness by getting his attention through giving him physical blindness. God may be doing the same for some of you today. Maybe you are spiritually blind to something and Jesus wants to humble you so that you can serve Him. Restorers, you are going to need to go low to raise others high to Jesus. There will be some days when you are going to need to get dirty and enter into the mess of people’s lives who are indifferent or even hostile to God. Serve with humility and when you are underappreciated, remember the reward isn’t halfway through the race, but when you collapse into the arms of Jesus at the end of the finish line.

So to be a Restorer, you must serve the Lord with humility, but you must also serve the Lord with compassion. Paul goes onto say he served with humility and tears. When I was really young, tears were self-centered. I would cry to try to get my way. As I got older, I learned that tears didn’t work to get my way. My parents would say, quit your bellyaching. So I tried to be manly and never tear up. What I have discovered is that it is manly to tear up, not over my own desires or hurts, but over the desires and hurts of others. In fact, Lori and I were talking and we notice that many people in the second half of life are hard-hearted and harsh. I want to fight a hard-heart with everything I have. Rather than growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, many have let hurts callous their hearts. Maybe that is true for some of you? It wasn’t for the Apostle Paul. This ex-terrorist shed tears over the Ephesians. Restorers, ask God to give you a soft heart for your neighbours, for those in Southwood and even for your church and biological families. If you have to choose between being precise or being compassionate, choose compassion first. As David Powlinson says in his book How Sanctification Works, “Timely words focus on the need of the moment. Giving people what they need and can handle; saying one thing, but not everything; being sensitive and selective. Later on after the heart is healed, you can give the needed comprehensive theology and instruction, which protects us form exaggerating, ignoring or overgeneralizing the truth.” There will be many times, when you are coming alongside those in our community, that you have to cry with people rather challenge people with the truth. Restore with humility and compassion.

The third characteristic of a Restorer is one that endures. Though some of you may be on loan from us or don’t stay with Restoration Church until you see Jesus, you can’t think that way! Otherwise you won’t dig in and be fully committed to the work of restoration. Discipleship is long term. Let me say that again: discipleship is long term. Evangelism is often an event; discipleship is an eternity! Go all out in evangelism, but do not stop in making fully committed disciples, teaching everything Jesus commanded. The Apostle Paul proclaimed in Acts 20:19 that he served the Lord with trials. You heard me right. Trials! Aaron and Nikki and all the rest of the Restorers, I want to be the bearer of good news (not bad news) – you are going to have trials. Nobody likes trials, except maybe trial lawyers who get paid massive sums to participate in them. However, for the Christian, for the Restorer, you are blessed if you have trials. You heard me right! It is a good thing to have a trial. James 1:12 promises, Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” Notice that trials bring about approval and life. You learn to love the Lord when you go through a trial because it forces you to remember how Jesus when through the trial of the universe for you when He was arrested, imprisoned and crucified for you and your sins. And it is these trials that get the attention of a lost and indifferent world. It is hard to argue against endurance. Restore by enduring trials and hardships. They grow you and witness to others God’s grace. You have seen this at Temple. Think about the lawsuit God brought us through. Think about the Academy closure God brought us through. He will give us all that we need.

Remember how I said that Restorers need humility, compassion and endurance, they also need boldness. Compassion must later on be paired with truth. I love how Paul describes his ministry in Acts 20:20-21, “How I did not shrink back from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” And then jump down in Acts 20:26-27, “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” Restorers, you must, and I repeat, you must declare the whole purpose of God. Don’t hold back when you sense the Holy Spirit gives you the green light. Tell people that they have sinned and that there is Good News that Jesus can be their Savior. Don’t let people’s eternities hang in the balance because you didn’t declare the whole purpose of God’s message. No one has excuse who rejects God, but let’s not give them one. Be bold! What is the worst that they can do? Reject you? They already are rejecting God so that is no different. Or maybe they will kill you? Again, you will be rewarded by being with Jesus. Be bold with the Gospel! Aaron and other teachers, proclaim the whole counsel of God’s Word.

So Restorers must be humble, compassionate, endure, be bold and lastly be generous. We find Paul’s final words to the Ephesians in Acts 20:35 was a quotation of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” To be a restorer, we must give and give some more. And our motivation is Jesus who gave His everything for us. He was the ultimate Restorer as He humbled Himself, showed compassion, endured great suffering, boldly proclaimed God’s truth and gave His own life for us.

So Restoration Church, follow Jesus and you will become rewarded Restorers. I love you all so very much and are so proud of you!

Now, before I call Aaron up to say a few words and we pray over him and the whole team, we want to present a gift to Restoration Church. It is a surprise gift. We don’t have it yet because we want Restoration Church to pick it out. The gift demonstrates your DNA and Baptist roots and more importantly, your call and commission to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded. So we are giving you a portable baptismal tank. May God fill it with new disciples of His!


Jesus Cares For You More Than Your Mom

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

Imagine you were without food and drink. You were so hungry and could find no food on your own. Imagine if you were also naked and defenseless. Further imagine that you were blind and trapped in a space not too much bigger than you. You might think you were in deep trouble. However, every one of you actually has been in that situation for many months of your life and you were so deeply cared for that none of these supposed problems you considered problems. In fact, you took them for granted and when your situation changed, you cried about it. What am I talking about? I am talking about when you were in your mother’s womb (pic)! You were completely cared for by your mother. All the nourishment, warmth, direction you needed were perfectly provided and cared for as your mother carried you.

God’s plan of care for you from the beginning has been amazing. He superintended your care from conception to maturation in your mother. As Psalm 139:13-16 declares, For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skilfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” This is why we celebrate not only mothers on Mother’s Day, but God who created, gave and sustained our mothers. God still sustains mothers today and that is good news.

Now think about how Jesus experienced such care Himself as He was carried by His own mother Mary after He was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus became vulnerable as a human being and was cared for by His mother inside her womb. Though later when Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, He was able to turn water into wine, which He did at His mother’s request and Jesus was able to turn 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread into food enough to feed 5000+ people. Jesus for the first part of His life didn’t make miraculous meals. Presumably He ate many of His mother’s meals. Can you imagine that moms? That you had the Son of God living in your house and you could have asked Him to make supper in a flash every single night, but instead you had the privilege of cooking for and feeding Jesus. You see, presumably it was His mother Mary who comforted Him when He fell and skinned His knee or when He was bullied as a young boy. Mary provided hospitality to the Son of God. What a contrast to the first woman on earth – Eve. Eve’s hospitality was harmful. She gave forbidden fruit to the first Adam and it killed him and her and everybody since. Her son Cain would not become his brother’s keeper and actually killed his brother. We all die because of the original sin and harmful hospitality. But then women (and men) were given a second chance when the second Adam, Jesus, came to earth. God loves to show grace and redeem what has been lost. So Mary provided hospitality and care for Jesus in part of the redemptive story.

Do you see how hospitality and care is so critical? It is foundational to the gospel. Hospitality actually was one of the last acts at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Please turn to John 19:25-27 to find out how critical hospitality is to the gospel. As you are turning to John 19:25-27, I need to define hospitality. Rosaria Butterfield, a former lesbian who has become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, has said in her outstanding new book The Gospel Comes with a House Key, “Radical ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way to make strangers neighbours, and neighbours family of God.”[1] Did you catch that? Gospel hospitality makes strangers into neighbours and neighbours into family of God. And this is exactly what happened at the Cross. Jesus made strangers into neighbours and more importantly neighbours into God’s family. So let’s read John 19:25-27 to find out how Jesus used hospitality to demonstrate the gospel. Read John 19:25-27!

I have heard many times that Christianity stifles women, but I believe no other movement, even the suffrage and feminist movements, have not helped women more than Christianity. Sometimes I confess I have thought that men are mentally and emotionally tougher, but as my wife kindly reminds me that besides John, it was women at the Cross sticking around to see the final breath of the bloody and beaten up Jesus. Women were with Jesus at His most difficult time; not His disciples who abandoned, denied and betrayed Him. And we need to remember that one of these women was His mother Mary who knew from the beginning that caring for Jesus met certain pain. Hospitality can be painful. When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple to dedicate Him, they met a man named Simeon who prophesied to Mary in Luke 2:34-35, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” So Mary was not a woman who ran away from pain. And neither were the other women mentioned at the foot of the Cross. Leon Morris informs us, “In light of Luke 8:2-3, which describes how some of these same women were Jesus’ major supporters and benefactors, it is not impossible that these women had provided the very clothes over which the soldiers gambled.”[2] So listen up ladies, two important lessons we learn from this background: 1) Your support of Jesus’ work is critical – it will be productive 2) Your support of Jesus’ work is sacrificial – it will involve pain.

Let’s understand a little bit more about the other women mentioned. We have already described Mary, the mother of Jesus. But then we find described in John 19:25 Mary’s sister, Jesus’ aunt. Now if we compare this description to the other Gospel accounts, D.A. Carson says we discover her name – Salome. And “Salome according to Mark 15:40 is the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 27:56-57), and is none other than the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus.”[3] So there is a possibility that the Apostle John’s aunt is Salome making John the Baptist, John the Apostle and Jesus all cousins. And then we also have the wife of Clopas. The Gospel writer implies that Clopas was well-known. In fact, “Eusebius, the ancient historian, reports that Clopas was a brother of Joseph, the earthly father figure of Jesus.”[4] And speaking of Joseph, another important point of this story is that we can presume by this time in Jesus’ life that Joseph, Mary’s husband, had already died. For certainly a man like Joseph with such stellar character would not have neglected his family. So Mary is a widow.

Understanding this, look at this chart that Raymond Brown[5] has prepared for us and we can make some inferences:

THE WOMEN AT THE CROSS AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS

Matthew 27:55-56               Mark 15:40                           Luke 24:10

Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene
Mary the mother of James and Joseph Mary the mother of James the Less (Little) and Joses Mary the (mother) of James
The mother of sons of Zebedee Salome
Other unnamed women Joanna

I say all this because: 1) We see how Jesus and His Cross bonded His biological and spiritual family; and 2) I wanted you to see the importance of women in the Gospel story, especially in our culture that degrades and acts with violence against women, which we saw so appallingly on the streets in Toronto when 10 people were killed in a van attack. Imagine the pain the mothers of the victims are going through today on Mother’s Day. May Jesus comfort them and all grieving mothers today.

But Jesus doesn’t do this alone. Jesus delegates His care of mothers and others to us. My main point is this: Jesus gives you people to adopt and care for as family. I’ll say that again, Jesus gives you people to adopt and care for as family. This goes back to our original definition of hospitality by Rosaria Butterfield – strangers become neighbours and neighbours become part of the family of God. And this is exactly what we find Jesus doing moments before He took His last breath and gave up His spirit. As Warren Wiersbe states, “Even while He was performing the great work of redemption, Jesus was faithful to His responsibilities as a son.”[6] Look at John 19:26-27, “When Jesus then saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’” Some scholars even think these statements had undertones of the legal adoption formula, “Here is your son; and here is your mother.”[7] Adoption is a theme in John as John 1:12 promises, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” To believe in Jesus’ name is to believe in both His character and work. And to believe in Jesus’ name is to receive His name like a child receives a new last name when adopted into a new family. John, the beloved disciple, took both physical and spiritual adoption seriously. John would later write in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear my children walking in the truth.” And John wasn’t just talking about young people here. He was talking about spiritual sons and daughters who might be adults and elderly who needed adopting like Mary did at the foot of the Cross. This was very tangible. “Tradition dictates that Mary stayed with John on the hilltop of Panaya Kapula in modern day Turkey when John moved to Ephesus.”[8] John took care of Jesus’ mother for the rest of her life as John 19:27 declares, “And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”

But this begs the question. Why does Jesus need to take care of Mary when she had other sons as described in John 7:3-4? Why didn’t Jesus’ half-brother James take care of his mother when he advocated true religion as being taking care of widows in James 1:27? I believe the answer is that sometimes we need to be spiritual foster parents. We need to care for others as family of God, sometimes for a season and sometimes for a lifetime, always understanding that we will spend eternity with these people as God’s forever family. You see as Rosaria Butterfield so powerfully remarks, “The blood of Christ is thicker than the blood of biology.”[9]

Here is what I want to conclude with before I invite some ladies who are hospitality specialists and at the same time fellow strugglers. Please turn to Mark 10:28-29 and Jesus’ promise, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

As Sam Alberry says, “Jesus assumes that people will leave things to follow Him. Discipleship is costly. And the most costly things to leave are familial and relational. Jesus demonstrated this Himself when He left His own mother in the hands of His beloved disciple. However, Jesus promises not only benefit in heaven but now on earth. Whatever we leave behind for His sake, Jesus will replace in godly kind and in greater measure. This is the true prosperity gospel. There will always be a place you can call home and there will be always be a people you can call family.”[10] Sam Alberry is a single and celibate pastor and yet struggles with same-sex attraction. He reminds us that those struggling with homosexual tendencies (and singles) will have to leave intimacy behind but they should be able to find greater intimacy in the church, otherwise we are calling Jesus a liar.

Jesus gives us people to adopt and care for as His family. Who is Jesus calling you to adopt and care for? Write that down!

Now, how do we do this? It is not having people over so they invite us over. That is not grace. Jesus has adopted you as family so you can make strangers neighbours and neighbours His family.

Let’s hear how some faithful women are demonstrating gospel hospitality.

Question for Hospitality Panel

1) What should we do when an unclean house competes with inviting people over to our homes?

2) There are many magazines and TV shows challenging us to make impressive and delicious dishes. How do you balance making people feel loved without trying to please or impress people?

3) What are some creative ways and tips you would give us to being more hospitable?

4) How is Jesus our motivation for being hospitable?

[1] Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018).

[2] Leon Morris, Expository Reflection on the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990).

[3] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 616.

[4] Richard C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Columbus, Lutheran Book Concern, 1942), 1293.

[5] Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI – The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1970), 905.

[6] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 397.

[7] Carson, 616.

[8] Brown, 923.

[9] Butterfield.

[10] Sam Alberry, “Session 3,” FEBCentral Conference, Morningstar Christian Fellowship, Scarborough, Ontario, April 24, 2018.


Jesus wants to Restore You

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

Tim Elmore tells the story about a young boy named Leroy: “Leroy strolled into the kitchen where his mother was making dinner. His sixth birthday was coming up and he thought it was a good time to tell her what he wanted. ‘Mom, I want a bike for my birthday,’ he announced. His mother smiled, thinking this would be a good time to talk about Leroy’s behavior. He had the reputation for being a pest to his sister. And he had gotten into trouble at school that semester. She gently asked him if he thought he deserved to get a bike for his birthday. When he immediately responded that he did, she told him to go to his room and reflect on his conduct over the last year. Then she suggested he write a letter to Jesus and tell Him why he thought he deserved a bike for his birthday.

Little Leroy stomped up the steps to his room and sat down to write Jesus a letter: Dear Jesus, I have been a very good boy this year and I would like a bike for my birthday. I want a red one. Your friend, Leroy

Leroy knew this wasn’t true. He had not been a very good boy and knew Jesus could see right past his words. So, he tore up the letter and started over: Dear Jesus, I have been an OK boy this year. I still would really like a red bike for my birthday. Your friend, Leroy

Finally he convinced himself he had to be honest if he hoped to get any results with Jesus. So he tore up letter number two and began the third letter: Dear Jesus, I know I haven’t been a very good boy this year. I am very sorry. I will be a good boy if you just send me a red bike. Thanks, Leroy

Leroy knew that even if this were true, it wasn’t going to get him a red bike from Jesus. By now, he was upset. He went downstairs and told his mom that he wanted to go to church. Leroy’s mother thought her plan had worked, as Leroy looked very sad, ‘Just be home in time for dinner,’ she told him.

Leroy walked down the street to the church on the corner. He slowly opened the door and crept down to the altar. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, then picked up a small statue of the Virgin Mary. He slipped it under his shirt and ran out the door, down the street, into his house, and up to his room. He shut the door behind him, and sat down with a piece of paper and a pen. Leroy then wrote this letter to Jesus: Dear Jesus, I’ve got your mama. If you want to see her again, send the bike! Signed, You Know Who![1]

Leroy’s letter begs the question, what should we do when we have sinned? Should we try to hold God hostage until He shows us His grace like Leroy? We all know that this not only doesn’t get us the bike or whatever we want from God nor does it fix the problem. It only adds to our guilt. Maybe we should hide from God, like Adam and Eve, the first human beings did when they rebelled against God? The problem is that God still finds us and the fig leaves we wear are too small to cover up our shame. Maybe we should just live in resignation thinking that God is finished with us and we can only live our lives in disgrace paying the consequences for our failures? This was the Apostle Peter’s perspective in John 21. But as my father so eloquently reminded us last week in his sermon that Jesus is not finished with us yet. I do not know what you did, but today Jesus has a message for you. It was a message aimed at Peter who denied knowing Jesus, but it can also be applied by us today so that we can know Jesus and His love better.

To give you the context, Jesus had just done the same miracle for the second time – He caused a massive haul of fish to be caught by His disciples after the disciples had fished a long time and caught nothing. Let’s read John 21:15-17 to find out what happens next. Read John 21:15-17!

After breakfast it was time to talk. Just eating together broke down the wall Peter had erected in his mind with Jesus. You see it was at the last time Jesus, Peter and the rest of the disciples ate together that Jesus had predicted that Peter would not deny Him just once, not twice but three times. John 13:38 records Jesus’ prophecy, Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” Remember that question and we will return to it. What is also important to remember is that Jesus made this statement right after washing His disciples feet and charging them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Did you catch that? The key identifier of a disciple of Jesus is their love for others. Write that down! The key identifier of a disciple of Jesus is their love for others.

And this is the main truth of this story and actually the pathway to restoration: You must love Jesus more than others and you love Jesus by loving others. I’ll say that again, you must love Jesus more than others and you love Jesus by loving others. The order of our love makes all the difference in the world and it is where we often get off track. If we love others before Jesus then we will ask from them things that they could never give: peace, satisfaction, and salvation. What got Peter in trouble on the night of Jesus’ trial was that Peter loved others more than Jesus. He cared more about the opinion of others, even strangers and a little slave girl, than he cared about Jesus. He did not want to be known as one of Jesus’ disciples (John 17:15-27). But remember Jesus had told Peter and the rest of the disciples only hours earlier that they had to love one another to be known as one of His disciples. To be a disciple of Jesus is to love Him first and to love others. Therefore, if you had to sum up discipleship in one word, it would be love. Love is what should drive your Bible study and Bible application. Love is what should cause you to talk and listen to Jesus in prayer. Love is your motivator for sharing the gospel and taking care of others’ needs. The same can be said of the other spiritual disciplines: fasting, solitude and silence, celebration, and simplicity. Following Jesus does not exist without love.

But love must be rightly ordered – Love Jesus and love others. By the way, Jesus had already declared that these are the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).

And this gets to the heart of Jesus’ first question in verse 15, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” What are the “these” Jesus is referring to? The fish? Was Jesus asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than fish as food or a source of income? We certainly can love food and money more than Jesus! However, I don’t think that was Jesus’ main point. Jesus was not so much concerned with Peter’s appetite as his affections.

Well, maybe Jesus was asking Peter whether Peter loved the boats and the nets more than Jesus? Certainly, we can put our jobs and careers before Jesus. Maybe some of you are doing that right now. However, I do not think that is the main point. Maybe Jesus was asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than the other disciples? I think we are getting closer to the heart of Jesus’ question because all of us have put people before Jesus. However, I think we need to go one step further. George Beasley-Murray thinks, “’These’ means ‘more than your fellow disciples do’ because Peter had brashly asserted his loyalty to Jesus as more steadfast than theirs in Matthew 26:33, ‘Even though all may fall away, because of You, I will never fall away.’”[2] This is a good point because Peter’s pride had led him to make such an arrogant statement. Jesus may have been reminding Peter of his pride and that Peter needed to be reminded that he must love Jesus more than others. And as Warren Wiersbe teaches us, “since Peter had denied the LORD publicly, it was important that there be a public restoration. Private sins should be confessed in private, public sins in public. Since Peter had denied his LORD three times in the Temple courts, Jesus asked Peter 3 personal questions.”[3] These questions were not about to see if Jesus could get Peter to love Him at a certain level, which sometimes preachers make a big deal about because Jesus uses the word “agape” or unconditional love in the first two questions and the word “phileo” or “brotherly love” for the final question. Jesus is not using these questions to see how much love He can get out of Peter and then finally settles for the lesser form of the love. The words “agape” and “phileo” are used sometimes interchangeably in the Bible. Jesus is not asking Peter questions to lower his commitment, but to restore his commitment.

And so Peter responded to Jesus all three times, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” This is the first step in the restoration process: Confess your sins and love to Jesus! What should you do when you have sinned: confess your sins and love to Jesus. Own your sin but borrow grace from Jesus. His love covers a multitude of sins. Will your love? This is the greatest characteristic. If you and I could demonstrate love that is patient and kind, not jealous, boastful or arrogant, is not rude or seek its own, is not easily provoked or keep no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Oh, how often have I failed to not love like I should! I’m praying that God would give me a greater love for Him and others.

When we confess our sins and declare our love to Jesus, He will make us bear fruit with repentance. The heart problem Peter had was that he loved others and himself more than Jesus. Jesus now commands Peter in verse 15 to, “Tend my lambs.” This is the second step in the restoration process: Shepherd Jesus’ people. And this is not just for vocational and ordained pastors, but every one of us should care for one another.

Back to verse 15, notice some important truths about this three-word command where “Peter’s love for his Lord is to be made manifest in his care for the Lord’s flock.”[4]. First, the word, “tend.” The word for “feed” or “tend” means, “to feed as a herdsman, or to tend. And the present imperative tense and mood calls for a habitual feeding.”[5] My wife has understood this for years. She has made thousands of meals for our family. Sometimes she laments, “Why do you people keep wanting to eat? I just fed you.” But kids keep coming back for more and she tends our family.

I am starting to learn about tending and feeding now that we have a new puppy. As a pastor I feed you once or twice a week, but as a puppy parent, I wake up and Remy is immediately glad to see me. And this starts our morning routine. I take him out of his crate, we have a mini-reunion with a wagging tail (his, not mine) and then puppy kisses. I then let Remy go outside in our back yard to water our grass and then he comes back into the house to be fed. He needs habitual feeding. Sheep need that as well from their shepherds. People need that from their shepherds. Listen all of you pastors or pastors-in-training, one of our primary responsibilities is to make sure God’s flock is being fed the very best food we can prepare from God’s word. And just like making a gourmet meal at home, it takes hours of planning and preparation to serve the best meal possible. Jesus’ flock deserves such a meal so we must work hard at preaching.

But maybe this was a message just for Peter or for pastors today? No, you parents out there need to prepare good spiritual meals for your family in leading them through family devotions. Use the Bible project! Use the Gospel Project that Pastor Dan sends out each week. Use the Jesus Story Book Bible. It is our responsibility as parents to disciple our children. That happens in walk-a-long, talk-a-long discipleship as you encounter various situations in life, but also planned family devotions. Often those can feel like a battle and ineffective, but remember that God’s Word never comes back void. You never know what is being hidden in your family’s hearts. My aunt has dementia and doesn’t recognize too many people anymore, but when you sing a hymn or start to quote a Bible verse, she will join you without any trouble remembering the words. The Worship and Word of God are seeds planted deep in our soul and psyche.

This is why Jesus told Peter to tend His lambs. And like Peter, we are to care for one another. Protect them. We are to rescue people when are lost. “Shepherds pursue little lambs (and old ewes and rams who ought to know better) who have been caught in the pits and snares of life.”[6]

But also notice whose sheep they are. Are they Peter’s sheep and lambs? No! “The sheep are Christ’s, not Peter’s”[7] (or ours). We need to remember this truth. Every person we are called to serve and love belongs to Jesus more than they belong to us. Why? Because He laid down His life for the sheep. As Jesus declared in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Shepherds are to lay down their life for the sheep. Peter had forgotten this. He had one time been willing to die for Jesus, but then he was not willing to lay down his life for his Shepherd. The Shepherd had to die and be resurrected for him first. And now instead of allowing him to sulk on the sidelines, Jesus wanted to restore Peter. He wanted to re-establish in Peter’s heart a love for Jesus more than others so that Peter could love others with the love of Jesus.

And it looked like it worked. Unlike Leroy who didn’t get restoration or a bike from Jesus as far as we know, Peter was restored. How do we know? Peter exhorts his fellow elders in 1 Peter 5:2-4, “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Peter had taken Jesus’ commands to heart, embraced grace, loved others while not losing sight of the truth that he, like us, are to love the Chief Shepherd first. Confess your sins and love to Jesus and then shepherd His people.

And this is so appropriate as we head to the Communion table. It may not be breakfast for you, but Jesus still wants to talk to you. He wants to restore you. You are welcome here. You don’t have to be a member of our church to participate. If you have confessed your sins and your love to Jesus, you are welcome. If you need to get right with somebody who you have sinned against, then you need to do that first. And if you don’t believe in Jesus, then of course, how can you have communion with Him, just pass the elements on by. This act of communion is where you meet Jesus. It’s God’s gift for you.

[1] John Hull & Tim Elmore, Pivotal Praying (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2002), 83-85.

[2] George R. Beasley-Murray, John: Second Edition – Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 405.

[3] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 397.

[4] Beasley-Murray, 405.

[5] Cleon Rogers, Jr. & Cleon Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 227.

[6] Joe Stowell, The Final Question of Jesus (Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, 2004), 63.

[7] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 678.


Jesus Has the Refresh Button

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

UnknownDon’t you wish we could hit the refresh button for our lives? You know what I mean by the refresh button on your computer. You get a do-over and get to go back to that big mess-up and try again. I know some of you may tell yourself that you live with no regrets, but let’s be honest, all of us wish we could have done things differently. That hurtful and harsh word spoken in a moment of frustration. Or chasing some idol in your life because you are hurt. I heard a story this week of a man whose step father/pastor abused him and as a young man, he ran away to become a gay prostitute and drug dealer. He described the gay life as one without rest – it’s the part of the city that never sleeps because there is always one more sexual conquest. The pain of childhood pushed him to unholy and unsatisfying comforts. He described great regrets through his sobs as he bravely told his story to our denomination’s regional conference. It was awesome to hear his story that God brought him back to Christ and His Church. He identified himself as a prodigal or wayward younger son, but reminded us from the story Jesus told in Luke 15:11-32 that there is always an “older brother” type who is jealous and judgmental.

So maybe you have let judgmental “older brothers” keep you from Jesus. You have come to believe the lie that you can’t get a second or third or fourth chance. You have given up. So no matter if you need a refresh or don’t believe God has a refresh button, you need to hear the story in John 21:1-11. It is a gathering of quitters. A team of the timid! A fellowship of failures! A camaraderie of cowards. If we are being honest, we have all been part of such groups and maybe we are stuck in one now. There is probably one area in your life where you think it is impossible to change under heaven. Here is what I want you to remember today: FIND REFRESHMENT BY REMEMBERING YOUR FIRST CALLING BY JESUS! Jesus will show up and remind you of when He first called you. Let’s read their story in John 21:1-11! Read John 21:1-11!

What did I ask you to remember today? Find refreshment by remembering your first calling by Jesus! Let’s review the characters in the story. I’ll skip the main character mentioned in verse 1 and come back to Him in a few moments. I want to start with the Saviour’s squad of scared students. Verse 2 describes them, “Simon Peter and Thomas called Didymus and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee and the sons of Zebedee and two others of His disciples were together.” They might have thought of themselves as the Forgotten Five. We have Peter the Petrified who denied knowing Jesus three times even though just hours prior to doing so, Jesus warned and prophesied Peter would deny Him. You would have thought as the night unfolded that Peter had the will to say, “I am not going to deny Him,” when the little slave girl inquired as to his identity of being one of Christ’s followers. He could have steeled himself and said, “Jesus warned me this was coming. I will not deny my Lord.” But no, Peter left in tears at the crowing of the rooster after a third denial. Our discipline and self-will often fails us.

Next we have Thomas the doubter. He was AWOL when the resurrected Jesus showed up in the midst of the disciples and so he told his fellow disciples that he would not believe in Jesus unless he put his hands in Jesus’ side. Jesus, in His grace, granted Tommy’s request as described in John 20:26-29.

The next partner in the Saviour’s squad of scared students was Nathanael. What did Nathanael do? Like the others, besides John, Nathanael ran away at Jesus’ most desperate time during His arrest and trial. But why pick on Nathanael? Let’s go back to John 1:45-49 when Nathanael was first called by Jesus and notice first that Nathanael was identified as being from Cana in Galilee. That was the place where Jesus did His first two miracles or signs – the water turned into wine (John 2:1-11) and the healing of royal official’s son (John 4:46-54). So Nathanael’s hometown was a place of healing. Even the H2O wasn’t safe there, but not for making people sick like in Flint, Michigan. The people were safe in Cana; it was the water that wasn’t. Water in Cana didn’t stay water but became a wedding rescue and source for rejoicing. And like what Jesus did with Thomas, He met Nathanael in the exact place of his doubt and proved Himself. We see in John 1:45-49, “45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” So Nathanael originally stated that nothing good came out of Nazareth and then Nathanael met Jesus who told him what he had being doing. Nathanael then declared that Jesus was the Son of God and King of Israel. One vision from Jesus and Nathanael became a believer. And to prove that good does come of Nazareth, Jesus makes Galilee and Cana ground zero for His first two miracles. Now Nathanael has returned to Galilee and given up. Is there anybody here today who Jesus has overcome your specific doubts, but you feel distant from Him right now? Good news is on its way. Find refreshment by remembering your first calling by Jesus.

And then you have the sons of Zebedee who at one time were very ambitious. In fact, Jesus gave them the nicknames, “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). Have you ever met some rambunctious brothers? These guys topped the list. They even had the audacity to get their mama to go to Jesus to ask if they could sit on Jesus’ right and left in the new kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21). James and John were power hungry. But after Jesus died and rose from the grave, they immediately took a back seat and followed along with the other pity partiers. And two other unnamed disciples joined them as John 21:2 reports.

So what did these pity partiers do? They did something that I do when I need reflection – they went fishing. Very few activities has a greater calming effect on me. If you would have walked by their business, you would have seen the sign “Gone Fishing.” (pic) Peter was the ring leader or should we call him the rod leader, though they probably used nets to fish. John 21:3 records Peter’s response to all these resurrected Jesus’ sightings, “I’m going fishing.” Now, why would they return to their original career when Jesus was alive and showing up (manifesting Himself)? I think there could be two possibilities: 1) They were impatient; and 2) They were having a pity party. They might have been impatient because Jesus had told them to leave Jerusalem and go back to Galilee. Matthew 28:7 records the angel’s instructions to the women at the empty tomb, Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him.” And then Jesus reiterates these instructions after showing up in their midst as described in Matthew 28:10, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee and there they will see Me.” And yet Jesus only made a few appearances up in Galilee. This wasn’t a Resurrection World Tour, but a few unplugged coffee shop venues. Appearances would have felt like teasers, especially after the disciples had spent three years following and living with Jesus. Children understand how appearances aren’t good enough from their absentee father. In fact, such brief appearances are just interruptions to life that leave everybody frustrated afterwards. Peter may have felt like he couldn’t follow a part-time Jesus. The joy of first following Jesus had been replaced for a jealousy of Jesus’ time. We often are so desperate to recapture that initial feeling of following Jesus that when it doesn’t happen, we board a different ship. A ship that we think we can control. We think our will can steer the rudder of life. But our rudder is rude to us and we are in for a wake-up call. Jesus may appear part-time, even permanent part-time, but He is actually on call 24/7! Jesus is just there on Sundays at church but everyday through His Spirit! Peter would soon learn this lesson and I hope we will too.

Or let’s think this through a different way. Peter may have been so racked with guilt from his denial of Jesus that he went back to his first job – fishing. And the rest of the disciples probably felt some guilt as well for abandoning Jesus. In days of uncertainty, we may be tempted to go back to what we have always known. There is inherent danger in making your former life before Christ your new destination. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, illicit sex and money all beckon us saying, “Come home.” But it is not home. It’s hell dressed up in nostalgia! Maybe you find yourself ready to give up on following Christ and take that trip back to your former life? Be careful because you might not only be losing your first calling but detouring those alongside you. The hymn is true and we must continue to remind ourselves daily, “I have decided to follow Jesus! No turning back! No turning back!”

Going back leads nowhere. It’s a zero. It is a net sum loss – literally. Check out verse 3, “Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will also come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat and that night they caught NOTHING!” Remember that! NOTHING!

Now enters the main character of the story and every story – Jesus! As Joe Stowell says in his book The Final Question of Jesus, “There are two words you should never say to Jesus: ‘I QUIT!’”[1] Why? Because Jesus will allow you to experience frustration. Your life will become unproductive. You will catch nothing, even though you might have a lot of expertise and experience. I believe some of you are in that spot right now. You returned or are in the process of returning to your former life, tempted by the fruit of the past. Jesus will let you and all those you dragged with you – catch nothing.

But Jesus isn’t mean in doing so. He needs to remind you of your dependence and failure without Him. This is the picture in John 21:4-5, “But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’” “Mark this down! It is no coincidence that in the midst of Peter’s discouragement and emptiness of life, Jesus showed up on the beach.”[2] And notice Jesus called His disciples “children.” Why? I do not know of any men’s group that likes to be called “children.” I have been in locker rooms, men’s gatherings and conferences and hunt camps and never have I been addressed as children. My son was recently playing some older guys and the older guys labeled his team, “The Children!” He hated it! That will not be Pastor Dan’s lead opening to any Men’s Ministry gathering, “Children, welcome!” So why would Jesus call His squad of scared students, ‘children’? Because they had not matured! They were acting like spiritual babies again.

They may have thought they were spiritual “steak eaters,” but they were back to eating spiritual pablum® and baby food. Listen up, spiritual meat is not figuring out when Jesus is going to come back. Spiritual meat is waiting on Jesus and telling others of His return. It is about making disciples; not having the finer points of your doctrine affirmed. As Hebrews 5:12-14 teaches, For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

Now Jesus didn’t give His depressed disciples milk. Instead, He fed them fish. First though, He told them in John 21:6, “’Cast the net on the right hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.’ So they cast and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.” This created a major flashback for Peter. The Gospel of Luke 5:1-11 describes when Peter was first called by Jesus! That was another day when Peter and the other disciples had fished all through the night and caught nothing. Then Jesus showed up and said to Simon in Luke 5:4-11, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signalled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish, which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” Peter has come full circle and it would appear had not made much progress. He and his fellow disciples miraculously catch a massive haul of fish. Peter’s response this time in John 21:7 is to drop everything, even his clothes, and throw himself into the sea declaring “It is the Lord.” Peter was always impulsively throwing himself into the sea. Peter was so eager to see Jesus that he may have given Michael Phelps a good race.

And when Peter arrives on shore, he finds Jesus cooking breakfast. On the menu was fish. Now some of you might be grossed out by thinking about fish for breakfast, but if you have never had fresh brook trout pan fried in a hot skillet with flour and butter for breakfast, you haven’t truly lived. Jesus though, was not showing off His culinary skills. Jesus was already cooking fish that He had caught showing Peter that Jesus was an expert and better at Peter’s former way of life. But then Jesus asked Peter take some of Peter’s freshly caught fish and put it on the charcoal fire. The smoke and sizzle would have brought back a memory. You see the last time that word “charcoal fire” was used was in John 18:18 when Peter was trying to warm himself at a different fire. That charcoal fire was the place of denial for Peter. This charcoal fire was the place of restoration for Peter. And the cooking fish would have been a tangible reminder that Peter could pursue fish that lasted a few hours or he could go back to his first calling of catching men who last for all eternity.

My friends, today maybe you have given up. You’ve gone back or are tempted to go back to your former way of life. You may not have caught anything. Samuel Zwemer has been labeled the Apostle to Islam. He ministered for years trying to reach Muslims for Christ. When he came back from the mission field, he preached a sermon entitled, “Master, we toiled all night and caught nothing.” However, Samuel Zwemer must be now rejoicing in heaven to seeing literally thousands of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. We can’t give up. We don’t see all that God is doing. Today Jesus is calling you back. You need to find refreshment by remembering your first calling by Jesus. Go make fishers of men and women and children! Leave your guilt and pity behind and find Christ’s grace and peace! There is no limit to the number of people Jesus wants you to catch for His Kingdom!

[1] Joe Stowell, The Final Question of Jesus (Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, 2004), 9.

[2] Stowell, 24.


Signed, Sealed and Delivered

This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!

What sign are you looking for from God? If you are contemplating attending a certain school next year, you may be looking for a sign to know which school to go to. If you are thinking about retirement, some of you will look for a sign such as a your favourite co-worker leaving and thinking if they leave, I’m gone. Or maybe you are waiting for the golden handshake offer. If you are thinking of buying a new house, you may look for a sign besides a sale sign. If you are single, maybe you are looking for a sign to be able to build up the courage to ask that attractive and unattached person of the opposite sex out for a date. When I was a kid, I would try to use signs like some people reading tealeaves. For example, if I thought that a girl might go out with me, I would take a basketball and take a long shot. If I made the shot, it meant she liked me and she would say yes to my invitation for a date. If I missed the shot, I missed the girl. Pretty superstitious and dumb, eh? Did you ever try to use a sign for direction in life? From horoscopes to solar eclipses, people try to read the signs. By the way, stay away from such signs. Interestingly, when I asked for Lori’s hand in marriage, I actually had to play her father in a game of one-on-one basketball. Modesty prevents me from telling you who won, but Lori is here today with our four children.

imagesTwo cautions about signs: 1) Signs may be misleading (which is why we have to be cautious and not be too quick to read signs); and 2) Signs are not your destination. Some signs create a desire for something, maybe something that you didn’t even know you liked or needed. For example, when my family was travelling home one summer from out west, we drove through South Dakota. It was very sparsely populated and not the most scenic territory, but what kept us going were these billboards that read “Homemade donuts and 5 cent coffee at Wall Drug Store and Café”. Every few miles you would see this sign. Now I don’t like coffee, but after mile after mile on a desolate highway of seeing nothing but these signs, we had to stop and each of us got a coffee and donut. Signs were very helpful on that trip. They told us where to go and also what not to bring. For example, our son Noah who was 4 years old at the time and couldn’t read would see the signs at each store or restaurant and would announce to us every time, “No guns, no doggies, no ‘moking.’”

Signs help those who otherwise can’t read or don’t understand the message. Signs simplify the message. I think this is why God used signs to direct us back to His Son. Did you know that God used signs to point us back to His Son? Let’s read John 20:30-31 to find out what the ultimate sign was about Jesus. Read John 20:30-31!

Before we go deep into John 20:30-31, let me give you a little refresher course on the signs we have covered in the Gospel of John because John in verse 30 refers back to “these signs.” What are these signs? There are 7 signs in the Gospel of John. Each sign links Jesus to a characteristic and story in the Old Testament. Here are the 7 Signs in the Gospel of John:

  • Jesus turned water into wine (2:1-11, esp. 11) – That would have been an amazing sign and it communicated many things including Jesus’ first act of ministry was at a wedding just like when He “officiated” the first wedding on earth between Adam and Eve. This sign demonstrated that Jesus was the Creator! It communicated that Jesus didn’t want people to find their joy and satisfaction in the empty religious jars for cleansing, but in Him alone who gives the best with abundance. It also communicated that He cares for people in embarrassing situations and rescues us even when we don’t know we need rescuing like the Bride and Groom who didn’t know they were running out of wine. A second sign is…
  • Jesus healed the royal official’s son (4:46-54, esp. 54) – If your child has been sick, whether you are rich or poor, you know that you would give anything to see them healthy again. This is why some of you would go to great expense to find a doctor that could heal your child. Interestingly before Jesus heals the boy, He makes an indictment in John 4:48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” This should serve as a warning to us that God uses signs to point us to Jesus, but our faith shouldn’t be dependent upon signs. We should know the way to God by following Jesus through obedience. Strangers need signs! Think about that. When you go home after service today, do you need us to give you directions or use your GPS? Do you need us to put signs up pointing “This way to your house”? No, you know the way. This goes back to Thomas’ statement to Jesus that he didn’t know the way to where Jesus was going. And Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus Himself shows us the way. Today we are saying that if you need a sign, God will graciously give you one. Ask God to show Himself! However, there will be a time when you just need to believe Jesus and His Word without a sign. Jesus’ Word should be good enough. That was the second sign. Jesus just told the royal official, “Your son lives.”(John 4:50) And this caused the royal official and his entire household to believe in Jesus. It was a sign linked to the story of Jacob in Genesis 37-50 who thought he lost his son Joseph, but found he was alive. This sign was also a foreshadowing of the resurrection when God would say, “My Son lives.” A third sign is that…
  • Jesus healed the paralytic (5:1-15) – This sign demonstrates that Jesus cares for and heals people. As my father said when preaching on this passage, “When we receive anything from God, it is by His grace. Jesus cares about people nobody else cares about. Jesus still heals people who reject Him and try to harm Him.”[1] Jesus is contrasted as our Elder Steve Limmer said, “With the Jews who were more concerned that a man was carrying his sleeping bag on Saturday than being healed after 38 years of sickness.”[2] I think this sign links back to when God rescued the Israelites, a forgotten people, from Egypt, even though they would not obey His Word and rejected God. So we had the sign of water turning into wine, and signs of Jesus healing both the royal official’s son and paralytic, now we have a fourth sign…
  • Jesus fed the 5000 (6:1-14) – In this story, Jesus feeds at least 5000 people who had followed Him out to the wilderness to hear Him teach. In John 6:2 we even read, “A large crowd followed Him because they saw the SIGNS which He was performing on those who were sick.” Jesus feeds all these people by multiplying only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. This sign teaches us that you get can’t get rid of your problems or buy your way out of your problems, but look to Jesus as the only solution to your problem.[3] Even your little is much with Him! Now what does this sign point to? This sign is easier to pick up as to what it points to because Jesus declared in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” This is clearly a reference to when the Israelites were wandering in the desert and needed food. God miraculously provided manna and quail to eat for nearly 40 years as His people wandered the desert. As we heard from Nick Rachevsky last Sunday night when he preached on Deuteronomy 8 is that the purpose of the wilderness wandering was for God’s people “to learn that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We must obey Jesus’ teaching and commands. But sometimes our obedience puts us in a difficult spot as we find in the next sign in the immediately following verses in John 6:16-24. This is the fifth sign that …
  • Jesus walked on water (6:16-24) – The next sign we find is that Jesus walked on water in the middle of night. The disciples were very afraid. This sign could be linked to when the Israelites were afraid of the Egyptian army coming after them, but God shows up and parts the Red Sea so they could walk across on dry land. That was a foundational miracle in the Old Testament, but I think Jesus walking on water shows that Jesus is better. We do not need to be afraid when we have Jesus. Remember this sign when you are afraid. Jesus doesn’t need to part the sea, He just shows up and the disciples are already on the other side. (John 6:21)
  • Jesus healed the blind man (9:1-7) – In this sign, Jesus heals a man born blind. Maybe because modern medicine is able to do a lot for those with blindness, this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in that day it was massive. It was so big that later on in Jesus’ ministry when Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus’ healing of the man born blind stuck out in their minds more than any other miracle and it was not without controversy as John 9:16 says, “Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, ‘This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others were saying, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’” Later on in John 11, the Jews said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” (John 11:37) This sign could be a link back to the time in 2 Kings 5 when God used the prophet Elisha to heal Namaan, the captain of the Aramean army, from leprosy. Namaan had to go wash himself in the Jordan River seven times. Namaan was an outcast to the Israelites and so was the man born blind, but both had to learn to obey God with the simplest of actions. We learn to trust and obey Jesus even when others reject us. When we trust and obey, Jesus does amazing things like He did with the seventh sign when…
  • Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (11:1-45) – In this sign, we see that Jesus will sometimes let His friends die in order to receive resurrection. This was a sign looking back and forward. I think it looked back to the time in Genesis 22 when Abraham was about to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. We know from Hebrews that Abraham believed God would raise his son Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). But God never had to prove it. At the last moment, when Abraham was holding that knife over his son to kill him, God provided a ram. Now, in Jesus’ time, Jesus as a new and better Abraham had to experience the death of His beloved friend Lazarus. Jesus proved Himself “able to raise people even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19) Jesus shows Himself to be the God of the living and the dead. (Mark 12:27) Yet, this sign as the last of the 7 signs, 7 usually conveying completeness in the Bible, points forward to when Jesus would be resurrected Himself overcoming death.

And this leads us to one more sign we discover in John 20 – the empty tomb of Jesus! GOD WILL GIVE YOU SIGNS TO BELIEVE IN JESUS, BUT THE GREATEST SIGN WAS HIS DEATH & RESURRECTION! As we read in John 20:30-31, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name.” All signs are meant to cause us to believe in Christ, not to get us what we want. As Warren Wiersbe reminds us, “There are nearly 100 references in this Gospel to believing on Jesus Christ.”[4] This is why we must read God’s Word. “The sinner must hear (or read) the Word if he is to be saved.”[5] As Jesus said in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my Word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” The Bible itself is a sign pointing us back to God!

It is God’s Word pointing us to Jesus’ death and resurrection that will point us to come to faith and to continue in the faith. In fact, there is a scholarly debate on the word “believing” whether that is a present or aorist subjunctive. If it is a present subjunctive, then “the believer has life at once as long as he believes”[6] and this should encourage us to continue to believe in Jesus. If it is an aorist subjunctive, then it means it is a completed action and once we believe we are saved. This verse then could be used evangelistically. D.A. Carson says that the verse could be aimed at both, “John could mean coming to faith and continuing in the faith.”[7] The big question today is, have the signs I have proclaimed to you led you to Jesus? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?

If you don’t, you need to read the signs more carefully because God is trying to get your attention. Read the Gospel of John all the way through this week. Maybe 3 chapters each day. If you do believe in Jesus, then you need to use the signs to point others to Jesus. One way of doing that is using these four questions I have

adapted from Jaeson Ma’s Blueprint[8] “The 7 Signs of John”:

  • What does this story say to you about human nature?
  • What does this story say to you about the person of Jesus?
  • In what ways does this story affect your way of thinking about your own life?
  • With whom should you share this story?

You can use these in your own personal study or in your witnessing. I have used these questions in Senior’s Centres when asked to teach on the life of Jesus. I have used them in discipling others. Now it is your turn to use them as a sign to point them to Jesus. Like the Wall Drug signs out west, people may not even know they need Jesus, but these signs will create in them a hunger for the Lord.

[1] Phil Stairs, “Who Gets Their Healing?” sermon, Temple Baptist Church PM service, August 20, 2017.

[2] Steve Limmer, “Do You Wish to Get Well?” sermon, Temple Baptist Church AM service, June 11, 2017.

[3] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 309.

[4] Wiersbe, 395.

[5] Wiersbe, 395.

[6] Richard C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of John’s Gospel (Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1942), 1398.

[7] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 662.

[8] Jaeson Ma, Blueprint: A Revolutionary Plan to Plant Missional Communities on Campus (Ventura: Regal Books, 2007).