Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem

51ED3pui+EL._SL500_AA240_I have to say that I was skeptical about this book – not that Grudem would be bad, but that his great Systematic Theology could be reduced to 160 pages and keep any resemblance of depth.

But I was wrong.

This is an awesome resource for new Christians, or apprentices looking for an introduction to systematic theology. This past year I have worked a lot with John Frame’s book Salvation Belongs To The Lord which itself is a condensed summary of his much larger books. I found Frame at times clumsy and not clear on a number of issues. Grudem is neither of these. His larger Systematic Theology is excellent and despite its immense readability it is still a tad daunting to tackle if you are starting to study doctrine. This little volume is SO accessible and SO clear that this is now my first choice for any apprentice I might have in the future as an intro to doctrine.

The Bible In A Month

I am on course with the Bible in a month. I am following the Abraham Project Guys on this reading plan and I have found amazing. Although 39 chapters a day is not easy I am finding it BETTER than reading the bible in a year. This is because you very quickly see the pattern of how God works in history – something you miss when you read only a few chapters a day.

I think after May I might continue reading the Bible in a month – at the very least I will go to the 90 day plan (which will seem SO easy now!). Getting large overviews of scripture – seeing patterns and repetitions – is so important.

Anyway – one thing that has been slightly hindered in the rest of my reading – I am reading other books but a tad slower than usual, although I well into N.T Wright’s newest book Justification, as well as a couple of others.

John 8:12-29

READ John 8:12-20 

Jesus begins with his second great “I am” statement: 

Can anyone remember the first great I am statement? 6:35 – I am the Bread of life. 

If anyone can remember back over the past two weeks, especially to Matt’s session – why is Jesus’ statement “I am the Light of the world” so significant?

This is probably still during the Feast of Tabernacles – a feast which remembers the time when God took Israel out of Egypt and led them by a pillar of fire. Each day during the feast there was a lamp lighting ceremony in the evening. This is another statement that God had now inhabited the temple as prophesized. 

Also, John has a strong light / darkness comparison – 1:4-5 Life was in him and that life was the light of men That light shines in the darkness yet the darkness did not overcome it. 3:19-21 “This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.  For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.  But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

What is the implication of Jesus’ words “anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness?” 

That the world is now in darkness and all who live in it will walk in darkness UNLESS they follow Jesus. We are not free to map out our own path in life if we want to walk in the light – we must walk in the light – and follow JESUS’ path – just as the Israelites had to follow the route taken by the pillar of light.

I find the Pharisees’ response intriguing – they do not condemn Jesus as a heretic – probably because they have missed his significant point – Why do they bring up the issue of testimony again.

Is Jesus contradicting himself in 5:31 where he says, “If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid.”

The Pharisees challenge is that no one else is making this claim with you Jesus – only YOU!! Hence his claim is invalid! Now the law calls for two witnesses in cases where there will be a judgment made against someone for an offence or for execution. You did not need two witnesses for everything. Also Jesus was not here to simply show himself – but to show and do the Fathers will – this was not Jesus’ mission – it was the Trinitarian mission.

What reason does Jesus give in support that his testimony is valid?

Because he knew where he had come from and where he was going. Jesus is the Son of God – second person of the Trinity – that is who he is from all eternity before the incarnation and will be true for all eternity after the incarnation. There is no authority higher than Jesus – no other place to appeal to for knowledge or understanding. His testimony is valid

What the Pharisees have done is judged from their perspective, from their expectations, from their rules, from their understanding and from their premise without EVER contemplating or suggesting that their starting point might be wrong – and hence their judgment is wrong.

What is ironic is that the Pharisees lack the necessary knowledge to judge Jesus and yet they constantly judge him.

The Pharisees want to know whom Jesus’ Father is – obviously to assess and probably question him.

Once again in v19 Jesus explicitly lays the serious charge before them – what is it?

To have rejected Jesus is to have rejected the one they claim to worship.

What is the implication in v20 “But no one seized him, because his hour had not come”

Every action is under the direction of the Father.

READ v21-29

V21 – where is Jesus going? What does it mean that they will look for him?

Commentators are divided over when the Jews will look for him – maybe its their continued search for Jesus because of the rumors of his resurrection; maybe it’s the continued search for the messiah – or as one commentator has suggested it refers to the time of their death – they will search for the comfort of God but will not find it – they will die in their sin – the consequence of rejecting Jesus.

How on earth do they get the idea that Jesus might commit suicide?

V22 shows how arrogant and ignorant these people were. They were so sure that they were heaven bound that for Jesus to go to a place where they could not go would have to mean he commits suicide and consigns himself to the outer regions of death forever.

What does Jesus mean by “You are from below?”

We have established that the world is n darkness – also who is the ruler of this world? The Prince of darkness. And in v44 Jesus explicitly tells the Jews that their father is the devil.

Their statement that surely Jesus is not considering suicide is, Jesus suggests, hell inspired. Hence they will die in their sins because they are rejecting the only remedy for their sins.

Does anyone see any significance in Jesus’ statement that “For if you do not believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

The word He is not in the original Greek – Jesus says literally, if you do not believe that I am – many take this as a reference to the divine – I am – Yahweh 

Do you find anything ironic is their question – Who are you?

Have they been listening to Jesus at all? The sense of this is “Who do you think you are?” They KNOW who Jesus has claimed to be. They just refuse to accept it or even to consider it. But the basis of Jesus’ messiah ship is not on their acceptance of him but on the Father – and Jesus has simply done the will of the Him.

V26 Jesus says I have many things to say and to judge you about, but the one who sent me is true and what I have heard from him – these things I tell the world. What does this mean?

Jesus’ mission, we know from John 3:16 is to reveal the gospel of God to the world – to show the world the offer of eternal life for all who believe. But Jesus will return, not with the message of salvation but to judge and the Jews and the Pharisees will be judged – not now, because Jesus’ role right now is to tell the world what the Father wants to the world to know.

V27 – Jesus utters a prophetic statement here – what does Jesus mean by “then you will know that I am [he].”

The cross is the clearest sign of who Jesus is – the sacrifice for sin – and for some it may be the time of recognition of who Jesus is – but for others it will be their condemnation as they ignore all Jesus has said and taught which pointed to this event. As one commentator said, Ironically at Jesus crucifixion, when they think they are passing judgment on Him, he is lifted up and becomes their judge.