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Bible Overview Series: John

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John by Joseph Novak

John: Because we could not find the way to God, he used a spear to open a door in his side, and said, “Look, I am the way!”

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of John

John is the story of Jesus: God who came down to save the world. This book was written by a disciple whom Jesus loved—the Church traditionally attributes it to John.

John is the fourth and last Gospel (an account of Jesus’ life and ministry) in the new Testament. John focuses on the deity of Christ more so than the other four: we see Jesus as the Word of God, the Son of God, and God Himself. Jesus is a great miracle worker, an omniscient teacher, a compassionate provider, and a faithful friend.

John may be the final Gospel, but this narrative begins far, far earlier than the other three. While Mark begins with Jesus’ adult ministry, and Matthew and Luke begin with His physical birth, John opens with the beginning of all creation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Jesus presents Himself as God incarnate throughout the Gospel of John, often using the phrase “I am” (the memorial name of God revealed in Exodus). John records several “I am” statements from Jesus throughout this book:

  • “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
  • “I am from [God], and He sent Me” (Jn 7:29)
  • “I am the Light of the world” (Jn 8:12; 9:5)
  • “I am [God]” (Jn 8:58)
  • “I am the door” (Jn 10:7, 9)
  • “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14)
  • “I am the Son of God” (Jn 10:36)
  • “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25)
  • “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6)
  • “I am the vine” (Jn 15:1, 5)

The Gospel of John makes a strong argument for Jesus as the exclusive savior, and the only way to know God (Jn 1:18; 14:6). Jesus is greater than the Jewish heroes Moses and Abraham (Jn 1:17; 8:58); Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, and John challenges us to believe in Him.

Theme verse of John

“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (Jn 20:30–31)

John’s role in the Bible

In addition to this Gospel, John wrote three New Testament letters and possibly the prophetic book of Revelation. He was a leader in the early church, and he probably wrote his documents after most of the other New Testament books were already written.

The miracles recorded in John’s gospel are written that the reader would believe in Jesus and find life in His name (Jn 20:30–31). Therefore, much of John’s material directly states who Jesus is, not just what He does or says.

Unlike Luke, John does not aim to chronicle the whole life of Christ—in fact, John doesn’t think the world could contain such a document (Jn 21:25). Instead, John presents a few signs and teachings that should compel us to believe in Jesus.

Quick outline of John

  1. Beginnings (Jn 1)
  2. Signs that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God (Jn 2:1–11:46)
    • Turning water to wine (Jn 2)
    • Healing the nobleman’s son (Jn 4:46–54)
    • Healing the sick man at the pool of Bethesda (Jn 5)
    • Feeding 5,000 (Jn 6:1–14)
    • Walking on water (Jn 6:15–21)
    • Healing the blind man (Jn 9)
    • Raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11)
  3. Jesus’ final week and teachings (Jn 11:47–17:26)
  4. Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and death (Jn 18–19)
  5. Jesus’ resurrection and encouragement to the disciples (Jn 20–21)

 

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YHWH

A hauntingly powerful video has just been released from the YHWH Project.

Set to repeat.

YHWH

I am the might before the sword
The tremors in the spear shaft
I craft my ways from blazes of firestorms
Absorb the failings of deadened ends
To render the floors I dance upon
I am the spaces between applause
The roars of hearts running through Heaven’s halls

I breathe the forms of light and silence
Stall the course of cosmic riots
I am the glory of the giants Manaslu / Sagarmatha
Watchmen of the Asian plains
They yield my name
Made famous through the cries
Of albatross flocks enflamed in Pacific fires

I am dressed in the spray of Nevada dunes
Clothed in the shadows of Sahara caves
I am the light of lunar flames fleshing the rains of Amazonia
I paint the trains of Antarctic quests
Release dominion to desert Panthera

I authorise the remains of Aztec and Inca
That bloom through the visions of mountain tribes
I ride the skylines breathe the signs
Ignite the paths of astronomy’s eyes
I am the unheard heard in the storms that burn on my words
I am the yearned for
I am the Word

I emerge deciduous from the wetlands of your cries
Rise through the moments you wake
I bring the dawns that shake the fevers from your remembrance
I am here
I am imminent

I am he who crosses the plains through which you strayed
Discover the parts extinction seared
I dust away the dried remains of tears
I drain the lakes of your regrets
I wet the wells
till the soil
Placate the toil
quell the rages
Sew the broken pages
With my belief in you

I bring the you you have never quite met
I am the desire that keeps your pillow wet
I am the heartbeat you seek when you chase after dreams
In the reachings and sighs you are looking for me

In the body touching body
It is me you seek
In the groans and the longings
It is me you seek
In the yearning dream
In the need-to-be-seen
In the love-me love-me
It is me you seek
In the breath-drop wonders
In the gasping hunger
In the touch of a stranger
That makes you feel younger
In the books and the fables
In the this-is-me labels
In the is-this-me?
Is   this   me?
In the hear-me hear-me
Say-my-name
In the touch-me need-me find-me need-me
In the aching pain
In the love
In the music
In the beats
And the taste
In the heat
In the need
And the need
For embrace
In the colour
In the gaze
In the meaning
The desire
In the flame
Of the voice
And the spirit
Of the fire

When you cry for more my name you weep
I am he who waits for you to reach
I reach for you and wait
When you lie half broken and awake
I am the watchman of your sleep
I wait and wait til the shakings cease

I am the Truth they call release
When the darkness flares and starts to speak
I sculpt the shades of daybreak
It is me you seek​

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Second Week of Advent: Wednesday, December 11th

1 Corinthians 1:27–29

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.  

Advent is a season where we need to be reminded that in looking for and longing for God, He often shows up in our lives through the most unexpected paths.

 

 

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Is Blogging “Cultural Masturbation”?

NT Wright shares some wise and insightful reflections on the blogging phenomenon.  His warning about how blogging can become a kind of “cultural masturbation” is especially interesting.

It sounds as if he really wants us to ask ourselves the question, “Does my blogging behaviour push me into deeper face to face relationships and community, or help me avoid these things?” 

I think that’s a great question that we need ask ourselves, because it relates to so many issues tied to our use of “screen time” technology (e.g., Facebooking, texting, blogging, etc.)

Here is the full video:

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“This church had a man crisis…probably”

I recently received an email from the president of our denomination association (www.agcofcanada.com), encouraging us to watch a short video advert for a new book by Darrin Patrick (Mars Hill Church–Driscoll edition).  The email was sent as a kind of “watch and be inspired” email that you get forwarded to you when a friend sees something and then says, “I’ve got to tell others about this!”

Now, I want to be up front and admit that I’m not a fan of the philosophy of ministry that seems to undergird Driscoll’s church, so my expectations were immediately…tempered…to say the least.

I’ll post the video first, then offer some reflections afterwards.

After repeated viewings, the message is of the video is clear: The health and effectiveness of the local church is causally connected to the “manliness” of the men within it.

Really? O_o

Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised by this assertion. Mars Hill Church (Driscoll edition) has carved out a niche of sorts hammering on and on about the necessity of a “godly” patriarchy (a view which I firmly disagree with). What surprised me, however, were the assumptions piled on top of one another.

“It was men that made this church come alive, and it was probably men who caused this church to die.” Probably? You don’t know? (I’m assuming not, because he reiterates that this is “probably” what happened at this church again at the 1:06 mark). Just my two cents, but you might want to do your homework and try to understand the actual reasons why this particular church died, before you launch into a solution.

I’m also saddened by a number of assumptions Patrick makes through the video:

1. Women are (apparently) a non-factor as it relates to the effectiveness and health of the local church.

2. Church dysfunction could be stopped if men in the church started “manning up” (i.e., move out of the house, get a union job, stop playing video games and stop masturbating).

3. Pastors are the actual root of the problem, because men take their identity cues from the pastors within their churches. So pastors, moreso than “regular joe’s,” need to man up (x2!).

All three of these assumptions are the classic “shame game” that evangelical churches are famous for. They sound “strong and bold,” but they are actually cowardly and weak. Transformation within churches will not happen through the words, “Shame on you!”

Is there a crisis of masculinity within the church? Undoubtedly! But Mars Hill Church (Driscoll edition) doesn’t offer a vision that comes close to a solution. At best (and I’m being very lenient here) it only offers a warrior archetype for masculine spirituality, which can be genuinely helpful for some men (especially adolescent males), but the warrior archetype is limited in its ability to propel men into deeper levels of genuine spiritual transformation, especially into the 40’s and beyond. I fear that all that’s being offered here is a Christianized version of “command and control” spirituality which Richard Rohr (a true master in the realm of masculine spirituality) actually believes to be the root of the masculinity crisis within churches. Ironically, Rohr believes an overemphasis on a “man up” theology will actually stunt the spiritual development of males, because the problem isn’t simply one of motivation.

Oh, and by the way–what does any of this have to do with church planting? Isn’t that what Patrick’s book is about? All I can say is I hope his book is going offer a lot more than a “wake up call” to men/pastors to plant churches on the foundation of “real men,” because I can think of a better Foundation for a church than that.

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Is faith irrational, sub-rational, or super-rational?

In scanning through some Youtube videos for a sermon a while back, I came across a channel produced by Word on Fire, a Catholic ministry spearheaded by a priest named Father Barron. I watched several of their videos, and really, really enjoyed them, especially the ones that took modern movies and explored their themes from a biblical perspective.

One of my favourite videos is Fr. Barron’s response to Bill Maher’s mockumentary “Religulous.” Actually, Fr. Baron doesn’t spend too much time cutting down the movie’s “arguments.” Instead, he focuses his efforts on exposing the problems with Bill Maher’s underlying assumption that religious belief is fundamentally irrational.

The entire video is worth watching, although it’s Fr. Barron’s reflections on the relationship between belief and reason (starting at 5:31) which are really rich and insightful.

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