Many scholars have called the raising of Lazarus, Jesus’s seventh sign and last public sign, the climax of Jesus’s ministry and the greatest of His public signs. In this chapter, John is preparing the reader for the cornerstone of our faith in Jesus Christ, which is the resurrection of the dead. We cannot have Christianity without the resurrection, and there cannot be resurrection without Jesus having authority over death.
2 Corinthians 5:11-13
The aspiration of the believer is to please God, whether here on earth or in His presence in Heaven. The Spirit compels us to become more like the Son every day.
God’s nature is unity (Deuteronomy 6:4). When we are baptized into Christ, we are one with Him and with each other spiritually (John 17:11, 20-22). David and Solomon both praised the importance of unity among God’s people (Psalm 133:1, Proverbs 6:17-19). Anyone who dismisses the unity God has created and spreads strife unnecessarily is considered an abomination. The job of believers in the church is to maintain the unity of the Spirit in peace (Ephesians 4:3, Philippians 4:2). God’s people love what God has provided and persevere in unity.
As Paul continues to write according to his theme of ministry integrity, he turns to the quality of Christian relationships. This is one way people can suffer in a local church. When they are persuaded that Jesus is not enough, their relationships inside the church struggle, and they don't know how to develop redemptive relationships in the community. When unsure of the permanence of their relationship with God, then people have no foundation from which to build other relationships and no message of how the Gospel changed them.
Opinions on finding happiness are not hard to find. In the Bible, true happiness is an effect, not a cause. It is the product of making God-honoring choices in critical areas of life. Psalm 32 shows the watershed which divides true happiness from unhappiness. The transformative nature of God’s forgiveness sets us firmly on the path of true happiness. The psalmist gives us 4 reasons why.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 teach us about the power, boldness, and freedom we have in Christ to grow in Christ-likeness.
The best way to protect the church from religious racketeers is to compare the nature and practice of the false and genuine.
Luke 1:67-80 occurs just before the birth of Jesus, after the birth of his cousin John the Baptist. Zechariah is holding his newborn son and speaks promises inspired by the Holy Spirit. He answers the question, how can we be sure of Jesus' ability to save us from our sins?
We can trust in Jesus because God says we can. His Word is enough, because His promise will always come true. What He says, He will do.
We can learn a lot from Paul's list of greetings in Romans 16. In this longest list of names in Paul's letters, he repeats the phrases "in Christ" or "in the Lord." All 26 people named had been redeemed and transformed by Jesus Christ.
How do we know the Gospel is real? It evokes more than an emotional response. It changes the whole person. Many know the facts of the Gospel and are emotionally moved, but they still feel empty. They can't break their bad habits, because they are still governed by their old selves. Jesus gave His life to redeem us. The appropriate response is to give all of ourselves to be completely His.
The best way to proclaim that you're redeemed is by the way you live. The Gospel makes a transformative change in our lives that should be noticeable to those around us. Faith comes by hearing, but hearing the Word of God does not come primarily from a pulpit. It comes from believers living with disciple-making intentions in the natural rhythms of life. Your character and joyful disposition should prompt conversations!
Survival shows intrigue us when we see how shockingly few things are necessary to survive in a wilderness. The world we live in is an extreme, fallen, undiscerning spiritual wilderness, but the Lord has provided us with the simple yet essential tools of spiritual survival for daily living.
Philippians 3:10 expresses the Apostle Paul's desire to "know Him [Christ] and the power of His resurrection." In the Bible, the word "to know" usually means to share one's life. We share life with those who are closest to us, spouses, family, and close friends. We share in Christ's life when we know Him as our Savior.
In whatever change we seek, God seeks to change us.
God is a God of second chances for those who have been redeemed. Though they fall, believers are always welcome back to fellowship with God and ministry service. Psalm 146 rehearses many truths to make sure we walk with God faithfully.
In extreme circumstances, our needs become very clear. When you are tired, hungry, and poor, what do you need more than sleep, money, and food? The Word of God is more necessary than any physical need. It is sufficient at all times (2 Peter 1:3). A desire for God's Word nourishes the spirit.
Displays of spiritual power are found throughout the Bible. Today, people search for spiritual power in many ways and from various sources. Christians seek power in prayer and spiritual warfare. In the salvation era, power must be understood in light of Jesus' bodily resurrection. We must not substitute the historical form of spiritual power for its continuing substance.
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