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STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JOHN

Written by: Jackson, Bill    Posted on: 05/12/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN

                    STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JOHN                         by Bill Jackson

Introduction

.        It is fitting that a basic course in the Bible should have the Gospel of John as its theme.  John is known as the disciple whom Jesus loved, and his name brings to mind the idea of loving communion with the Lord Jesus.    Although nearly 2000 years have passed since the earthly life of our Lord, He is still waiting to share the same love with those who will follow Him.  It is to this end that this Bible course is dedicated.    Each lesson will consist of a scripture portion for you to read, with some notes from the passage.  Please read the verses at least twice, then read the notes and answer the questions.  After answering the questions, you may check them with the Answer Key after Lesson 7.  If you have any points that you have a question about, please write.  We are glad to enter into discussion on any of the Bible truths.  God bless you as you study His Word!

                            LESSON 1                 The Gospel of John in a nutshell

Read:  John 1:1-14

.        We see the Lord Jesus revealed to us as the Word, or expression, of God. His eternal being with the Father is majestically unfolded in verse 1. .        In verse 3 we see the Lord Jesus as Creator; in verse 4 as Life- giver. This life is more than mere physical being, as this is the Light of men. Verse 9 tells us this is the True Light for all. .        Previous to the Incarnation (which means the Word made flesh, see verse 14), although the Light of Christ did shine in the darkness of the world, the Light was not known.  This leads us to the beginning of the manifestation of this True Light. .        We see a witness raised up to testify of the true Light.  He was John the Baptist, and although the Bible plainly states that he was not that Light, he gathered men together under his powerful preaching to tell them not of himself - but of the coming Light, the Lord Jesus Christ. .        But even though He was heralded by John, and even though He gave life-giving Light, our Lord was not accepted by many.  Verses 10 and 11 are among the saddest in scripture; not only that the world as a whole did not receive Him - even His own people turned their backs on Him. .        So it has always been, and so it is now.  Most men choose their own ways rather than His, and while He has stamped His image upon two thousand years of history, the Lord Jesus Christ is, to the vast majority of the human race, an unknown Person. .        We can take heart that some did receive Him, and became Sons of God. Those of His early followers, including the writer John, testified that they saw His Glory, for He was full of Grace and Truth.  The remainder of the chapter gives ample evidence of this wonderful Grace of Jesus. .        Today there are still men that see His Glory.  Poverty, war, hatred, violence, trouble; all these were present in the first century when the Light of the world dawned upon the Judean hills.  Some, only a comparative few saw that Glory.  The world has not changed very much since, for amid all the problems and perplexities of the 20th century living, some (but very few) see His Glory and are blessed. .        Becoming His Sons involved a miracle never before revealed to the world. Those who believed (trusted) in Him were born of God.  Ordinary men received a New Birth, and in the initial revelation of this phenomenon (we shall read more of it in Lesson 3), God plainly illustrates the New Birth by telling us what it is not.

.        (1)  It is not "of blood", that is, you cannot inherit the New Birth as you inherit other features and tendencies from your parents. .        (2)  It is not "of the will of the flesh", that is, it is not the normal tendency for any person in the world.  Left to ourselves we couldn't experience the New Birth. .        (3)  It is not "of the will of man", that is, no man can decree, when, where or how you will receive the New Birth.  It is not dependent on any act by any other person.

.        In the simplest terms, to be expanded later, we are plainly told that it is to be "born ...of God."  No nobler birth can be mans, and treasures yet to be unfolded in God's Word will make it clear how all can enter into this grand experience and truly become sons of God.

QUESTIONS  (Answer True or False.)

1.  John's Gospel clearly states that Jesus is the Eternal Son of God. 2.  John the Baptist was the Light of men. 3.  Everyone eagerly received the Light of Christ. 4.  Those who received Christ became sons of God. 5.  In order to receive the New Birth, we must rely on the co-     operation of men. 6.  Those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ see His Glory. 7.  We are God's children because we have Christian parents.

                            LESSON 2                       Mary's only command

Read:  John 2:1-11

.        From verse 11 of this chapter we can see the purpose of Jesus' first miracle.  It was to manifest His Glory so His disciples would believe in Him. .        Besides this primary importance of the miraculous changing of water to wine, it is interesting to see the role that Mary the mother of Jesus played in this.  It is one of the few times between the birth and Passion of the Lord that she is mentioned.  The words that she spoke in John 2 contain the only command that Mary ever uttered. .        Any Bible student, whether Protestant or Catholic, will admit the important part Mary played in bringing the Lord Jesus Christ into the world.  It will therefore be very helpful to contemplate the importance of her only command. .        Mary's first statement, "they have no wine" (v. 3) gives us a good indication of her practicality.  She was no mystical, ethereal creature; she was a down-to-earth woman, seeing a small but real need. .        So often we tend to think of Bible heroes walking around with halos, as if they were of another world and didn't know the realities of this one. Jesus didn't walk around with a light shining on His head and neither did Peter or Mary.  True holiness is demonstrated by a life of dedication to God, not a halo. .        Mary classed herself with humanity and saw human need, just as she spoke on the "Magnificat" (Luke 1:46-55) of her need of a Saviour.  Thus she counted herself a sinner, not in the sense of great wickedness, but as one who shared the lot of all mankind.  As St. Augustine said, "Mary was more blessed in having Jesus as her Saviour than in giving Him birth. .        Jesus' retort to Mary sounds abrupt, but His addressing her as "Woman" carries no idea of disrespect.  Jesus said it was not yet time for Him to perform a miracle, and yet a moment later a miracle was performed.  Is this a mistake?  Did Jesus act solely because Mary had pointed out the need? .        A look at these few verses will convince us that neither of these is true.  We know He made no mistakes, and we can see that His response to Mary's initial plea was negative. .        Our attention must be focused upon verse five, which is the key.  This verse contains the only command that Mary ever gave:  "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."  To this statement Jesus gave full and immediate response, thereby demonstrating important truths about His power. .        First, we see that His miraculous power came into operation in response to obedience that was prompted by faith.  Imagine drawing water and carrying it out to the table as if it were wine.  But in doing so, it became manifest that it was wine! .        In this light, we see Mary as the one who drew attention to Jesus, and made it clear that it was reliance on Him that would meet their need.  Anyone who is looking to a church, its sacraments, or to their own good works as a means of salvation would do well to take heed to Mary's only command! .        We also see that Jesus' miraculous power does not come into operation automatically whenever there is a need.  Were this true, all sinners on earth would be instantly be converted. .        A MIRACLE OF GRACE TAKES PLACE WHEN THE NEED FOR SALVATION IS RECOGNIZED AND THE REMEDY IS APPLIED IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WORDS OF JESUS. .        The command of the Virgin Mary was that we should obey the words of Jesus, and that we should rely on Him to perform in our lives that which we need.  The greatest miracle is the true conversion of a sinner to God.  In this we see the same principles as were present at Jesus' first miracle at Cana.

(1)  RECOGNITION OF A NEED.  John 2:3 - "they have no wine." This     pictures man's need of salvation, as Romans 3:23 says,  "all     have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (2)  UNDERSTANDING THE CONSEQUENCES.  As shortage of  wine  would     have ruined the feast,  sin ruins the lives of men.  (Romans     6:23 -- "the wages of sin is death.") (3)  OUR ONLY HELP IS CHRIST.  As He met the need at Cana, ├┐Peter     says,"Who his own bare our sins in his own body on the tree"     (1 Peter 2:24). John adds "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son     cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). (4)  BECAUSE OF OUR FAITH IN HIM WE BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD. It is     not because of our background,  good works or church attend-     ance (see John 1:12).

QUESTIONS  (Answer True or False)

1.  Jesus turned the water into wine because Mary asked Him to. 2.  John 2 records Mary's only command in scripture. 3.  Mary did not need salvation because she was sinless. 4.  Sin is a destructive force and results in death. 5.  As long as we are sincere, we will get to Heaven. 6.  Everyone needs salvation; the Bible says, "all have sinned." 7.  The blood of Jesus Christ can wash us clean from all sin.

                            LESSON 3                           The new birth

Read:  John 3:1-16

.        In chapter one, John outlines some basic facts about the New Birth by telling us what it is not.  By emphasizing that this operation is not of man's doing, he clearly establishes the fact that the New Birth is supernatural.  It is not the act of a minister, a priest or a church - it is an act of God.  Having the foundation laid, now the Lord Jesus gives personal application in chapter three. .        In John 3:3, Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."  The necessity of this New Birth is repeated in verses 5 and 7.  If our Lord was so careful to underline the importance of the New Birth, it is worth our while to find out what it is. .        Without this experience no one can get to Heaven.  Unless each of us is born again, we will never see God's Heavenly Kingdom. .        Nicodemus had a hard time understanding the New Birth (see verse 4), and so it is today.  Many very educated men cannot understand the simplicity of this regenerative act of God. .        As we have already seen, the New Birth is not Baptism.  It is not making resolutions, however sincerely.  It does not come to a person because of the station on life which he was born, or because of inherited religious beliefs.  It is a supernatural Act of God. .        Jesus plainly stated that one must be born of water and the Holy Spirit - but if some kind of a "water birth" administered by man was needed to get spiritual life, it would not be a supernatural Act of God.  And the Word of God is very plain that the New Birth is supernatural. .        It is very easy to understand that man becomes a natural creature when he has a natural birth - the birth by water.  Having had this natural birth and being a natural man, he must now have a spiritual birth - a New Birth. .        Jesus says plainly, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit" (John 3:6).  By the natural (water) birth man becomes natural; by the spiritual (Spirit) birth, man becomes spiritual.  As the natural birth brings a natural life, so the spiritual birth gives man a spiritual life, the life of God. .        How to receive this spiritual birth which is the New Birth (being born again) is outlined in John's Gospel, chapter 3, verse 16.  This verse should be memorized, as it contains the heart of the Gospel. .        To be spiritually dead is to perish.  In John 3:16 we read of those who do not perish; instead, they have a wonderful Gift called Everlasting Life. .        WHY? - Because they have received the New Birth, and as they were once dead in their sins, they have been brought to life by the New Birth.  They have become spiritually ALIVE when once they were DEAD. .        HOW? - By believing in (or trusting in) the Lord Jesus Christ.  No work that I can do, nor any ceremony performed over me can do the job.  Jesus alone can save, and I must trust Him to do it.  Anything else that I may be trusting - good works, alms, sacraments, saints, prayers, all must be seen to be lacking.  If we have faith in these things to help to save us, we cannot be fully trusting in the Lord Jesus.  Since His Sacrifice was infinitely able to save, nothing can be added to His work, so we must trust Him alone. .        Truly trusting in Him means to place my whole reliance on Him for salvation.  As the poet puts it:

. "Upon a life I could not live; . Upon a death I could not die; . On Another's Life, Another's Death . I stake my whole eternity."

QUESTIONS (Answer True of False)

1.  Jesus repeatedly told us the New Birth is necessary. 2.  Nicodemus had no trouble understanding all Jesus said. 3.  Man receives natural life from his natural parents in his first birth. 4.  This natural life is governed by natural laws; spiritual birth is governed     by spiritual laws. 5.  A person is born again when he truly trusts Christ as his Saviour. 6.  The New Birth is Baptism in water. 7.  John 3:16 teaches that everlasting life is a gift.

                            LESSON 4                   How to avert God's judgement

Read:  John 5:19-27

.        The message of the Gospel according to John is one of great hope and promise.  In chapter one we found out that we can become true children of God.  In chapter two, we saw the Lord Jesus as the One Who can meet every need - material and spiritual.  In chapter three, we studied the New Birth - God's supernatural act that makes us His Children when we receive Jesus as our perfect Saviour. .        Now we are going to look at Judgement, and at first, this seems a reversal of the theme of the promise of everlasting life, and in vivid contrast is the fact that there is eternal judgement waiting for some.  We can only understand the introduction of this sober thought when we realize God's motive for speaking of judgement is to tell us how we will be able to avert it. .        Judgement is mentioned three times in the nine verses; in verses 22 and 27, we are told that God the Father has committed all judgement to the Son.  In between these two verses, in verse 24, we have one of the most wonderful statements that ever fell from the lips of Jesus.  Note it carefully one phrase at a time. .        "Verily, Verily (truly), I say unto you" - these words point ahead to the importance of the coming statement, and its complete trustworthiness.  Jesus indicated He is going to say something of vital importance. .        "He that heareth my word" refers to the message of the Gospel (the Good News), which the disciples of Jesus were told to preach to the world.  This is still being faithfully proclaimed today.  It is not man's word; it is God's infallible Word. .        "Believeth on him that sent me" tells us the importance of our believing the testimony that God gives concerning the saving power of Jesus Christ.  God never bears witness to any saving power in a church or Christian minister.  There is one Saviour from sin; He is the perfect Saviour.  The sacrificial death of Jesus was sufficient to take away sin, and God declares in His Word that Jesus died for us, in our place, as our Substitute.  Because He took the punishment we deserved, we can receive the free gift we do not deserve.  A gift from God is freely given, not merited or earned.  God's Word tells us plainly that His salvation is a gift. .        "Hath everlasting life" - this speaks of present possession of a life that is eternal, and cannot pass away.  Nothing can take it away or destroy it, for it comes from God and is everlasting. .        "Shall not come into condemnation" (the Catholic version says "cometh into judgement") - this means there can be no thought of hell or purgatory for those who have heard His Word and believed the testimony that God has given about Jesus Christ.  Instead of living our lives in dread of what may be awaiting us in eternity, we are confident - not in ourselves, but in the perfection of Him Whom we trust for everlasting life. .        "Is passed from death to life" refers to what we studied in the last lesson - the New Birth.  We were spiritually dead, and when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we are reborn; we are brought supernaturally from death to life.  In the last part of verse 24 we are assured that a person who has looked to Jesus Christ for salvation has already passed from death (where we receive a gift we do not deserve). .        That gift is eternal life, and once we have received this gift we are truly converted to Christ and eternally secure because of His sacrificial death for us, and the miracle of the New Birth that operated in our lives as we place our trust for salvation completely upon Jesus Christ alone.

QUESTIONS  (Answer True or False)

1.  God desires that all of us escape His Judgement for sin. 2.  The words of Jesus in John 5:24 are completely true. 3.  His promise is to those who respond to the Gospel message. 4.  God tell us in His Word that we are saved by a human priest. 5.  The church is God's means of salvation. 6.  When we are born again, we pass from death to life.

                            LESSON 5                         The Bread of Life

Read:  John 6:31-55

.        This is one of the most important lessons of our study.  We have learned basic truths concerning salvation.  Every chapter of John's Gospel contains precious teaching about how we can escape the consequences of sin. We can be children of God, born again by His supernatural power, as we hear His Word and trust Jesus as our Saviour from sin. We understand salvation by seeing it from different aspects. If we read John 4, we see Jesus pictured as the Water of Life.  Now, in John 6, we see Him as the Bread of life, and we are taught how to partake of HIm. John 6:54 is important; it teaches us that we must partake of Christ, and it portrays this in literal terms - eat His flesh and drink His blood.Some tell us this speaks of the Mass, where there is claimed to be a literal eating and drinking of Christ in Holy Communion. If this were true, it would be necessary for one to take Holy Communion only once in a life time.  Verse 55 says that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood we HAVE (present tense) everlasting life.  If Jesus literally meant eating and drinking, He surely meant everlasting life - a life that would be eternal and never-ending.  When a person receives everlasting life, he has that which can never pass away; therefore once a person truly eats the flesh of Jesus and drinks His blood they are eternally saved. Literal terms are used because this partaking of Christ is more than a shadow or a symbol. It is a glorious reality, and far surpasses any religious experience such as the Jews were used to.  For them, religion was going to worship once a week, reciting prescribed prayers and doing religious deeds.  Partaking of a person's very existence was foreign to their thoughts, but Jesus said this was necessary if they were to have eternallife. Jesus further explained His words in verse 63 when He said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth (or bring life); the flesh profiteth nothing."  So it's a spiritual partaking of Christ - but it is so real that it completely differs from anything  we had previously known in our life.  John 6:33 had told us, in introducing this thought, that Jesus is the bread of God, and that He gives life.  This prepares us for the idea of partaking of Him, and thereby receiving everlasting life. Look carefully at John 6:35, for this sums up the whole truth God is bringing to us here.  "He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Here both thoughts are expressed - eating and drinking.  Here is positive assurance to the partakers - shall NEVER hunger; shall NEVER thirst!  Here is clearly set out the conditions to be brought to this place of everlasting life and full assurance.  "He that comes to Jesus" - in coming we of necessity leave other things behind.  We must turn from our sin; the Bible calls this repentance.  We must forsake the things we had relied on for salvation, even though they were religious and good things.  Perhaps they are the things we have always relied on for salvation - prayers, masses, confessions, pennances, indulgences - all things must be left behind when coming to Jesus.  The same is implied when we speak of believing in Jesus.  This does not mean to believe something about Him; it means to trust Him completely, to have full reliance on Him and Him alone for our salvation. If you are trusting old religious observances they must be scrapped if you are to truly partake of Christ, and receive His free gift of everlasting life.

QUESTIONS  (Answer True or False)

1.  Although seen from different aspects, God has only one plan of salvation. 2.  Knowing Christ as Saviour is more than ordinary religious experience. 3.  We can drink Jesus' blood when we take Holy Communion. 4.  Jesus said it is the Spirit that gives life. 5.  Anyone who truly comes to Jesus will never hunger spiritually. 6.  If we truly trust christ, there is nothing else upon which we rely. 7.  In John 6:55, Jesus was speaking about the Sacrifice of the Mass.

                            LESSON 6                         He died for me

Read:  John 19:17-30

.        We have studied various aspects of salvation, and have learned much concerning how this gift can be received.  Now in this lesson we are going to view the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ - the actual purchase price of this great salvation. .        This part of the life of Jesus is often called His Passion - which simply means His sufferings.  While the sufferings on the Cross are unique, they are a climax to a life of suffering which began when Jesus Christ left Heaven's Glory and, for our sakes, became man. .        The events surrounding Calvary burst upon our viewing of the life of our Lord suddenly, but this was no unexpected event as far as He was concerned.  He knew man would fall, and therefore He ordained the death of Christ before the world was created. .        In chapter 18, we can read of Peter's denial, of Jesus' appearing before Annas, Caiaphas and Pilate and of the release of Barabbas, who the Jews chose instead of Jesus.  In the beginning of chapter 19, we find Jesus still before Pilate, and we read of His being mistreated by the Roman soldiers.  After making efforts to release Him Pilate gave in to the Jews and delivered Jesus to them for crucifixion. .        An account of His journey to Calvary follows, and it is interesting to note that, in scripture, it does not record the three times Jesus was said to have fallen beneath His Cross, nor does it mention any meeting with Veronica or Mary. .        Jesus was crucified between two thieves, and in another Gospel we read that one of these, in the hour of his death, asked the Lord Jesus for salvation, which was graciously granted him. .        The soldiers parted His garments and gambled for His coat, all in fulfillment of prophecy.  From the account in the four Gospels, we find that 33 Old testament prophecies were fulfilled in the Passion of Jesus. .        Jesus' mother was standing by the Cross with two other women and the Apostle John.  Mary's husband Joseph had most likely died before this event, and the brothers of our Lord mentioned in scripture were unbelievers.  With the loving care of a son to his mother, Jesus indicated his desire that John should henceforth treat Mary as his own mother, and John readily obeyed. .        Now that His last earthly tie was taken care of, Jesus said, "I thirst."  Many Bible students see in this statement the full agony of Christ, literally suffering the pains of hell for our redemption.  And Jesus in reality did become our Substitute - dying the death we deserve to die so that we, trusting in HIm, might receive the benefits of this perfect sacrifice for sin - His Gift of eternal Life! .        Jesus then said, "It is finished."  And indeed it was.  His redemptive death on the Cross fulfilled, Jesus commended His Spirit to His Father and died. .        And the wonderful trust that comes echoing down the centuries - HE DIED FOR ME!

QUESTIONS  (Answer True or False)

1.  God's great salvation is a free gift. 2.  John's gospel tells us of Jesus meeting St. Veronica. 3.  Jesus was crucified between two thieves. 4.  Much Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus died. 5.  Jesus asked John to care for His mother Mary. 6.  Jesus died on Calvary as my substitute. 7.  Jesus' death and resurrection completed God's plan of redemption.

                            LESSON 7                       Jesus' parting words

Read:  John 20:21-31

.        John, chapter 20 begins with the wonderful news of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.  His Sacrifice was complete, and its full acceptance by God was verified by the resurrection.    As He met again with the disciples who could hardly believe the good news, Jesus spoke some important words.  Obedience to His instructions brings success to His Church. .        First, He gives them His salutation of "Peace."  They had been troubled and distressed; He assures them that in Him they can have peace - and He says the same to believers today.    Then He makes the remarkable statement that He is sending them as the Father sent Him.  There could be no higher calling, and we note that it is all the disciples that are gathered here, not just the eleven apostles.    Breathing upon them, He speaks of the receiving of the Holy Spirit, and then He gives them the actual power to remit and to retain sin.    We can see here in verses 21-23 three thoughts linked together:

        (1) the commission to go preach the Gospel;         (2) the promise of power of the Holy Spirit; and         (3) the authority to remit and retain sin.

.        These should never be separated on our thinking; they all go together. .        Looking at the other recorded Commissions of the Lord Jesus in the other Gospels, we see striking similarities. .        In Matthew 28, we see the commission to go (v.19) and this going is dependent on the power of God.  The authority is given to make disciples and to teach them the truth (v. 19, 20). .        In Mark 16, the commission is given in verse 15, the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit in verse 17, and the fact that they can proclaim this gospel with full authority in verse 16:  "He that believeth (the gospel you preach) shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be condemned."  We see G

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