Sunday, November 28, 2010


Truth or Consequences: How to Avoid Deception, 1 John 2:18-23, Theology Matters Series

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline for our meeting on November 28, 2010. A while back we started a new series on 1 John entitled "Theology Matters." This lesson looks at 1 John 2:18-23 and discusses the idea that our we have to be careful about our doctrine and where we get our theology. John warns us that there are people who want to deceive us or to draw us from the Truth about Jesus, and he gives us some tips on how to avoid spiritual deception. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

Truth or Consequences: How to Avoid Deception
1 John 2:18-23
Theology Matters Series

Teaching philosophy at the community college yielded some interesting conversations:
a. Well, that is “your” truth, not mine
b. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, just as long as you are sincere

These views can be dangerous, right?

If I genuinely believe that a bottle of poison will cure my illness, I may end up dead in spite of my belief
The example of the person who almost kills a loved one because he or she sincerely believes that the person is an intruder

In religious circles, we sometimes hear things like:
Doctrine divides, so let’s avoid doctrine and just focus on getting along
Jesus said you will know you are my disciples by your love, not by your doctrine. Let’s avoid disputes about doctrine and just find places where we agree

John, on the other hand, seems to put a premium on doctrinal issues

In chapter one he even claims that true joy comes from a sound doctrinal foundation
He argues against a bad doctrine that ignores the Incarnation or makes Jesus less than God

What a person believes is just as or more important than the sincerity of that belief

Apparently, it really makes a difference what you believe!

John has already given us a couple of tests in this chapter—the moral test of obedience to God (2:1-6) and the relational test of love (2:7-18). Now, John reminds us that there is also a doctrinal test for believers to consider—1 John 2:18-23

John here offers a warning of sorts to his readers—be careful what you believe, be careful what you accept

In John’s day, there were false teachers who were teaching a doctrine whose consequences would lead to shipwreck and death

In our passage today, John gives his readers instructions on how to avoid deception in spiritual matters. To avoid deception, we need to focus on two things:
a. We need to know the source
b. We need to know the truth

Let’s look at John’s advice on how to avoid deception
1 John 2:18-23

1. Know the Source
1 John 2:18-20
John contrasts true believers and false teachers in these passages

The first thing that many note is John's reference to “the last hour”
May be a reference to the return of Christ
Most likely a reference to the fact that since Christ’s resurrection and ascension the world has entered the last stage of history before God’s kingdom is fully revealed
Mark 13:33—no one knows how long this period will last, but there is a sense of urgency here
The end could come at any moment

Another interesting issue is his mention of Anti-Christ and antichrists
John alone uses the term “antichrist” in his epistles. It does not appear anywhere else in the NT
“Anti-Christ” refers to a particular person, but that does not seem to be John’s focus here
“Many antichrists” is the reference that John emphasizes
“Antichrist” means either “against Christ” or “in place of Christ”

John is referring here to the spirit that stands against the sound teaching of Christ or that tries to replace Christ with another

In John’s day, these folks came claiming a “new revelation” or a “deeper knowledge of the truth” –they claimed an experience that no one else had

To avoid deception, know your teachers

These false teachers (or “antichrists”) may operate in the range of Christian ideas and concepts—they may even came from our ranks

This means we need to be careful to examine ourselves—are we genuinely following Christ, or are we merely tagging along with others to see what happens?

We also need to be on our guard—there are actually people in the world who would like to mislead others and teach a false doctrine

These false teachers may have started off as orthodox teachers, but soon they veered from the truth so that they no longer abide by the teaching of apostles
a. They are more interested in being popular
b. They are more interested in being heard
c. They are interested in making money
d. They claim to have a “fresh” or “new” revelation not given before

The false teachers separated themselves from the church, from orthodox belief
We must beware of anyone who breaks from orthodox teaching of the Scripture to pursue a new or different doctrine

Verse 19 does not refer to individuals who simply leave a church to go to another place of worship. Rather, it refers to folks who leave the sound teaching of who Jesus is for a false gospel that puts the focus on anything but Jesus

They not only attack orthodox beliefs, but they also recruit others to their aberrant views
Modern examples include: Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Scientology, Christian Science, Islam, etc.

John makes the following points:
a. True Christians are born of God
b. True Christians persevere in the truth and with other believers
c. Church growth or unity are not as important as good doctrine

The test of orthodoxy is submission and obedience to the apostolic teaching found in the New Testament, particularly the teaching about the person and work of Jesus

Verse 20 mentions an “anointing” that Christians have
The false teachers apparently claimed a higher anointing than John or the apostles
John says that we all know the truth because of God’s anointing in our lives
John 14:6-7; 16:13-14
We must be diligent to learn and to follow the truth

To avoid deception, know the source of your doctrine

2. Know the Truth
1 John 2:21-23
In these verses, John reminds us that we must be careful to know the truth
Not knowing the truth has consequences

We live in a day that has rejected the idea of absolute truth
To think that someone could stand in front of a group like this and claim to speak of “the Truth” is considered illogical, intolerant, and even (in some cases) evil by many postmodern people
Truth is what you make of it in a postmodern society

John simply does not agree

In verse 21, John claims to be writing to those who actually know the truth
John was no postmodern

To avoid deception, pursue and know the truth

As we noted earlier—sound doctrine matters
John encourages his readers to recognize the difference between a lie and the truth
Simply stated, truth and lies do not mix—they do not get along (i.e., the Law of Non-Contradiction)

Lies are tied to how Jesus is viewed (v. 22)
To deny Jesus as the apostles taught him is to deny truth, to deny God himself

Sound doctrine is strongly linked to a personal relationship with God
To deny the Son means that one does not “have” the Father
Knowledge of Jesus is salvation, to deny who he is (i.e., the Incarnation of God, God in the flesh, God among us) is to deny what he accomplishes and the God he makes known (John 1)

Sound doctrine about the person and work of Jesus is essential to a proper relationship with God

True believers pursue the truth about God as revealed in Christ (Heb. 1:1-3)

John wants his readers to know that Jesus is the only true revelation of God
a. He is not just a good teacher or an anointed man
b. He is God among us, redeeming us, and leading us
c. He is our only means of salvation, and his divinity guarantees our redemption

To avoid deception, know good doctrine/learn the truth

So what do we do with this information? How do we respond to what John has written here?

If we wish to avoid deception in spiritual matters, then we must be discerning in two areas—who teaches us and what is true doctrine

This week we can do the following
a. Look closely at those who teach us—are their lives consistent with the life of Jesus? Do they exhibit the same attitudes as Christ (Phil 2)? Where is their focus? Are they focused on legacies, numbers, buildings, money, or Jesus? What is their character?

b. Pay attention to your own doctrine. Take some time this week to read through 1 John or the Gospel of John. Ask the Spirit who anoints you to give direction and understanding about what the Bible says about Jesus. Read good books on sound doctrine. Make it a point to be around believers who hold to sound doctrine.

c. Check yourself by John’s three tests—are you obeying God’s commands, do you love others, and are you abiding in truth?

To avoid deception, we must know our teachers and know the truth

Thanks for reading!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010


The Origin and Reliability of the Bible, You Asked For It Series, The Point in Charlottesville

Today I had the privilege of addressing the fine folks at the Point in Charlottesville, VA. Their pastor requested that I address the issue of the origin and reliability of the Bible. Below I am attaching my notes from my presentation. As soon as the podcast is available, I'll try to link it here too. By the way, I ought to add that some of the notes below come from a variety of sources. Andy Stanley did a sermon on this issue that prompted me to research it further. The works of Gary Habermas and Craig Blomberg were also very helpful in my research. I want to acknowledge that I am "standing on their shoulders" so to speak in the material that follows. I hope it is helpful to you!

Here is the link to the podcast:

The Origin and Reliability of the Bible
You Asked For It Series

This is an unusual Sunday morning for me.
Usually I am teaching or preaching on Sunday morning, and usually I am focusing on a particular passage of the Bible
My mandate today is a bit different

Your pastor has asked me to prepare a presentation on the reliability of Scripture. As a result, I will try to offer to you the following arguments without many references to particular passages of the Bible for support.

What I intend to do is to show you where your Bible came from and why you can rely on it as a sound witness to the historical events surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus

Are you ready?
Buckle up, it will be an interesting ride!

What is the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of books, it is not a single book
It consists of 66 books collected into one volume
These books were written by around 40 different authors over a wide range of time

In general these books agree on one thing—God is making himself known through these writings

The purpose of these books is the self-disclosure of God, his character, and his interactions with humans

In Christian circles, the Bible is divided into two basic sections

a. The Old Testament (or Hebrew/Jewish Scripture)
39 books
Reflects the history of God’s interaction particularly with Israel but also with other people

b. The New Testament
27 books
Focuses on the life of Jesus and his impact

The Bible is more precisely a library of books that speak of one major topic

How Did We Get Our Current Bible?

Since the individual books of the Bible were written over a period of more than one thousand years, the question of origins could be a lecture in itself

Simply put, these books were written by authors at a particular time and then collected by those who acknowledged the importance and inspiration of the documents

The actual development of our current Bible may be summarized as follows:

Many of the Jewish or Hebrew Scriptures began to be collected shortly after they were written
By the time of Jesus, most of the books currently in our OT were recognized as authoritative by Jews
Criteria for this recognition included the following: conformity to the theology of the Law (first five books), inspiration (Prophets), written in Hebrew, and commonly used among most Jews

After Jesus’ life and ministry, some of his followers wrote materials pertaining to his life and impact on humanity. These books were written roughly from AD 45 to about 100. They began to be collected early on (Paul’s letters are mentioned as a collection by Peter sometime in the mid-60s—2 Peter 3:14-16), and we have authorized list of our current 27 books as early as the second century. The criteria for acceptance included the following: the books ties to an apostle, the use of the book by the church at large, the theology of the book, and inspiration

By the fourth century AD, the Bible as we current know it was considered authoritative and settled (no more books were to be added—Council of Carthage)
Since then Christians everywhere have accepted this as God’s Word

Is the Bible Reliable?

Now that we have some history about this collection of books, we have to consider whether or not we can accept this collection as reliable. In order to make the process more manageable, we will focus only on four books of the New Testament—The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

My argument is simple
1. If these books are reliable historical witnesses, then what they say about Jesus is true
2. If what they say about Jesus is true, then the claims that Jesus is the Son of God must be true
3. If Jesus is the Son of God, then what he says about the rest of the Bible must be true and what he says about God must be true too

How do we determine historical reliability?
Note that we are primarily concerned here with historical reliability

How can we tell if a document is historically reliable?

We have to be aware that offering a “proof” of history is difficult if not impossible. “Proof” requires observation and repetition. What we have to consider is evidence. What does the evidence tell us?

Think of a court of law. Both sides of a case present evidence to support their view or their claims. Evidence is not a proof, it is simply a testimony to the probability of a certain set of circumstances. Whichever set of evidence is considered most probable usually wins. (Example—how do you prove you are married, or that you came to church today? )

The question to be answered involves what is most probable, not what is possible—we have to have probable cause

An example from my life—a car wreck in Waco, TX
What is the most probable explanation of what happened?

Ancient Manuscripts and History
The four books we are considering are ancient manuscripts

Two ways to show the reliability of ancient manuscripts
a. Look at their age/date and distribution
b. Look at their authors

Let’s consider the manuscripts first
Consider the example of Roman history

Rome existed for almost a millennium—during that time Roman emperors and other leaders commissioned many different authors to write an authorized version of Rome’s history

Literally dozens (if not hundreds) of documents were created, published, and preserved. Writers like Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, and Tacitus wrote volumes on Roman history.

The Gallic Wars—our oldest copy dates to around AD 900—many centuries after the events they record
Yet only a few of the copies remain

Tacitus—lived and wrote near the end of the first century—wrote a 30 volume history of Rome
Yet only about 20 copies representing half of the volumes remain

These Roman materials are used regularly in history classes all around the world.
In spite of the limited number of copies and the late date of the materials, these works are considered historical and worthy of use as representations of “what really happened”

The NT Manuscripts
Let’s look at the manuscripts of the Gospels

They represent not a history of an entire kingdom, but rather about three years of the life of a Jewish carpenter in the first century

We actually have hundreds of copies of the manuscripts for the Gospels (not dozens, but hundreds)

We even have one fragment of a manuscript that dates to around AD 130—the John Ryland’s Papyrus—that is a part of the Gospel of John

This manuscript was found in Egypt, which means that it was probably written sometime near the end of the first century (to give time for a copy to be made and circulated to Egypt)

By AD 250, we have complete copies of all four Gospels as we have them in our current Bibles

As far as the rest of the NT is concerned, we have over 5000 copies of manuscripts of the books of the NT—almost 10 times the number of manuscripts for Homer’s works

Compared to Roman history, the Gospels (and the other NT books) have a better distribution and dating of manuscripts.

What about Differences?

What about errors? Don’t the copies have errors?

Example of copying a letter today

Given the sheer number of copies of New Testament works, you would expect some differences in the manuscripts

On the other hand, the sheer volume of copies also provides comparison data to ascertain the probable original wording

To compare this—the manuscripts of the NT are old enough and numerous enough to offer the promise of ascertaining the original readings, even though the originals no longer exist

We have over 600 manuscripts of Homer and scholars are certain that we have restored Homer to 90% of the original

Given the sheer number of NT manuscripts, we should be able to do better than 90%

In fact, the differences in the NT manuscripts are negligible—the manuscripts agree on over 90% of the material, and the disagreements amount to insignificant details

There are no doctrinally significant differences in NT manuscripts

Can we trust the authors?
Let’s consider the authors of the Gospels
Matthew—a tax collector and eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry
Mark—a friend of Peter (1 Peter 5:13)—history tells us that Mark wrote down what Peter preached
Luke—a Gentile doctor and friend of Paul
John—a disciple of Jesus and an eyewitness

The material these individuals wrote agree on basic topic, order, and historical record

Although they wrote at different times and from different perspectives, they come to the same conclusion about Jesus and present the same basic historical information about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ

These four different presentations of Jesus offer historical events
They are portraits of the life and ministry of Jesus

The Case of Dr. Luke

Luke is the most unique among the Gospel writers

He was not an eyewitness follower of Jesus nor a Jew
He came to be a follower of Christ as a result of the testimony of others
He then decided to investigate the claims about Jesus so that he could write an orderly account for his friend (Luke 1:1-4)
He interviewed eyewitness and read accounts about Jesus so that he could compile his history of the events
He had no idea that his work would be collected with three other accounts and included in some “Bible”!

Luke claims to write an orderly account so that Theophilus can be sure of what he has heard about Jesus

Four Witnesses, Four Perspectives
The other three writers put together their materials for different purposes, but they all exist as witnesses to the same historical events (1 John 1:1-3)

Since they are writing about similar events from different perspectives, shouldn’t some variation be expected?

Think of four witnesses to a car accident
Each one will remember different details as they describe the same incident
One may remember the colors or makes of the vehicles
Another may remember the gender of the drivers
Yet another may remember the accident itself
But all are describing the same incident

We have a similar probability with the Gospels

Differences As Evidence
All four Gospels describe the same event from different perspectives
They emphasize different details
They offer varying levels of detail
They agree on the general flow of the story (they all focus on Jesus’ character, ministry, and passion)

As a result, the apparent “contradictions” are just what would be expected if we had four different witnesses

The differences show that collaboration among the four writers is unlikely

Our hypothetical car accident above took only a few minutes to develop, but the Gospels are writing about events that happened over a period of almost 3 years

We ought to expect some differences in these materials

Each Gospel writer sees Jesus from a different perspective
None of them became rich or famous for their writings—in fact they all died for their conviction that Jesus was who he claimed to be—the Son of God who came to reveal God to humans

Legend and History
Sherman White in his research found that two generations (a little over 50 years) is not sufficient to cause a legend to alter a solid core of historical fact
In other words, if the Gospel information about Jesus was a legend, then it would take 50+ years before its repetition would be viewed as historical events

How much time separated the writing of the Gospels from the actual events of Jesus’ life?

Conservative scholars place the earliest of the Gospels around AD 45 to 55. Even liberal scholars date the earliest Gospel before AD 70.

If Jesus lived and ministered in the mid-30s, then the first Gospel is written just a few decades after his life. That is not long enough for it to be the result of a newly created legend!

There is also evidence that the story of Jesus’ life and resurrection circulated during the lifetime of the authors of our Gospels

Three witnesses—Paul, James, and Tacitus

First Century Witnesses
Paul—left a leadership position in Judaism to become a follower of Christ, plant churches all over the Roman empire, and write books about Jesus (Paul died in the mid-60s of the first century AD)

James—another author of a NT book who left Judaism to become a Christian. He mentions the return of Jesus in his letter (conservatively dated to around AD 45—just fifteen years after Jesus). Where did he hear about Jesus’ return? How could Jesus return unless he left (as the Gospels report)?

The final witness is the most important, in my opinion

The Non-Christian Witness
Wrote around AD100 to 115
Wrote about events in the life of Roman Caesar Nero
Nero ruled from AD 54 to 68
Peter and Paul were reportedly martyred under Nero

Tacitus wrote about Nero:
“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite torture on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.” He continues: “Christ, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate. A most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, but even in Rome.”

Other witnesses include the following non-Christian historians:
Pliny the Younger (AD 62-113)—describes Christian worship
Suetonius (AD 100-160)—describes Claudius’ edict of AD 49 that kicked Jewish Christians out of Rome

The Conclusion
The conclusion is obvious, isn’t it?

Tacitus and Pliny reference a superstition, not a teaching, or a philosophy.

What brought people to Christ was the story of the resurrection! It wasn’t Jesus’ teaching or philosophy that attracted people, but his claims to be the Son of God and the evidence of the truth of this claim in his resurrection.

This Jesus, who was crucified by Pilate, came back to life. That is the so-called superstition.

The disciples began preaching the resurrection within 2 months of Jesus death and resurrection.

The existence of Christianity in Rome less than 2 decades after Jesus’ life and ministry support the historical perspective of the Gospels

This means that the Gospels are reliable history

What do we do now?
What will you do with this information?
How will you respond?

If what I have shared supports the historical reliability of the Gospels, then the claims made about and by Jesus are also historical and reliable.

We cannot ignore them. Jesus spoke of the OT, he spoke of God, he forgave sins, he rose from the dead.

You now have to decide—if the Gospel accounts are historically reliable, you cannot ignore the claims about or by Jesus.

He is either a liar or he is God. He cannot be both.

What do you think? How will you respond?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Forgiveness: Jesus Style, John 21:15-19, Live Like You Were Dying Series

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the notes on my blog. So, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on November 7, 2010. Thomas Road started a new church wide series entitled "Live Like You Were Dying." The staff at TRBC provided teachers topics and notes for each lesson for the next few weeks (this is our fourth and final week). I used the notes they provided and tweaked them a bit to fit our particular group. The result are the notes below entitled "Forgiveness: Jesus Style: John 21:15-19." If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

Forgiveness: Jesus Style
John 21:15-19

Live Like You Were Dying Series

This is the last Sunday of “Living Like You Were Dying”

We’ve talked about:
a. Proper focus to be God’s champions and live as he desires
b. The need to speak sweeter and seek to be agents of God’s healing touch in the lives of others
c. The need to follow Jesus’ example of love in reaching out to others

Every week we walk into this building and act as though our lives are in fine shape
We claim to be “fine,” and it seems that everyone here has their act together
We all act like we are living the American Dream

But life isn’t nearly so neat, is it?
We all have issues—relationships that are broken, an ongoing struggle
We simply don’t want anyone to know

The starting place today is to acknowledge the elephant in the room. We are all broken and we all have failures. And somewhere along the way in life, we will all need to restore and reconcile a broken relationship. Sometime in your journey you are going to need to ask forgiveness and then there will be times when you will need to extend forgiveness.

So, here’s the question of the hour “How do we face that which is uncomfortable to face and restore that relationship that has been broken?”

Peter’s Story

This week we will look at the issue of “giving forgiveness”
We will consider how Jesus forgives by looking at one particular example of Jesus’ restoration of Peter

This is a story of release and restoration

Remember Peter’s denial
What do you think Peter felt when he heard that crowing rooster? How did his denial hit him?
The sense of failure was all consuming. Peter, the rock, had been crushed and crumbled under pressure

Fast forward to the resurrection
Peter saw the risen Christ and heard the words “Peace be with you”
But how could he be at peace? Had he not disqualified himself?

So, he went fishing

You know the rest of the story
Jesus shows up and cooks them breakfast after showing them where the fish were

Now breakfast is over, and an awkward silence descends on the scene
Jesus turns to address Peter
They are going to talk about the elephant in the room

John 21:15-19
Jesus does three things in showing forgiveness:
1. He pursues
2. He focuses on relationship
3. He restores

1. He Pursues Us
Jesus comes looking for Peter and the disciples

God takes the initiative. Sometimes we talk about people being seekers but the Bible portrays God as the original seeker. He pursues us. No matter what you’ve done or what’s in your past, the great God of the universe pursues you.

John 14:16-18—Jesus doesn’t abandon his own—he sends another Comforter (i.e., another of the same kind as Jesus)
Jesus will never forsake his people
The Spirit “comes alongside” of us to provide help for our spiritual journey

Jesus is our advocate—Hebrews 4:14-16
Many of us portray a self-confidence and a self-reliance that betrays a common truth—we all want to be pursued

Is there somebody that you have a broken relationship with that you need to pursue?

Jesus didn’t wait for Peter to come to him and seek to restore the relationship.
Jesus tracks down Peter

Jesus pursues Peter because he is focused on relationship

2. He Focuses on Relationship
He doesn’t drag up the past
Jesus prepares a meal and eats with Peter
Notice that he doesn’t drag up Peter’s past failure
There is not one word of rebuke
Jesus is in the grace business, not the guilt business
He comes to restore, not to condemn
Romans 8:1, 34

If any could condemn us, it would be Jesus
But he chose to die for us rather than to condemn us (John 3:16-19)—cf. Psalm 103:12

Apparently Jesus had “let go” of Peter’s denial—he didn’t keep rehearsing it over and over

We need to learn from Jesus
Colossians 3:12-13

Discussion question: In what ways have you learned to “let go” the hurts of the past? What are some practical ways that you can “make allowance for each other’s faults”?

Jesus asks Peter three questions
He doesn’t ask them to condemn Peter, but to check on the relationship
He asks these questions to see where Peter’s heart was regarding their relationship

Matthew 26:31-35—Peter promised to stay with Jesus until death, even if no one else did
Of course, Peter not only denied Jesus, he pronounced curses on himself if he even “knew” Jesus

Jesus didn’t recount Peter’s promises, he went right to the heart
“Peter, are you still with me? Do you love me?”

Jesus sought to restore the relationship

Jesus focuses on relationship because he wants to restore Peter to service/ministry

3. He Restores to a Place of Service
Three times Jesus asks Peter about their relationship, and three times he requests that Peter would look after Jesus’ sheep or lambs

The most precious thing to Jesus is people
People created in God’s image need a witness of God
Jesus asks Peter to be that witness, to shepherd the flock with the same love he received

“There are a lot of people who sit in church pews who profess love for Jesus Christ, but by whose lives you would never know it. If we truly love Jesus, it will work itself out in ministry: to his people and to his world. Our love needs to be so deep that we are led to really follow in Jesus' footsteps and to love those around us.” Jerome Cooper

Jesus places his most treasured possession in Peter’s care

“The proper foundation for ministering to other people is not guilt, which focuses on ourselves, not even love for others, which focuses to often on people, but love for Jesus Christ, which is the only true focus of ministry. And it's as we love him, that the love for others will grow.” Jerome Cooper

The issue here is not only forgiveness but also restoration
What relationship needs to be restored or re-instated?
Peter moves from resigned to re-instated. This is an incredible gesture of trust from Jesus to Peter

Jesus doesn’t view Peter as disqualified from ministry or from service
In spite of the denials from Peter, Jesus sees Peter as a valuable member of the family. Jesus wants Peter to serve the flock of God.

Jesus wanted to restore Peter, and not just to a relationship with Jesus. He wanted to restore him to a significant ministry in the church

It is interesting to me that the assignment he repeated to Peter 3 times was “take care of my sheep”. It wasn’t to build a great church or launch a world-wide ministry. It was to shepherd people.

God was not through with Peter, and he is not through with us
Jesus wants to see broken relationships restored and re-instated
He wants all of us to act as reconcilers—those who forgive and restore one another (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
He has done it for us, now he wants us to do it for others

Where do you need to look for reconciliation? Who needs restoration in your life?
Jesus seeks reconciliation, should we do any less?

Pope John Paul, Corrie Ten Boom, C. S. Lewis--examples of people who learned to forgive

We all have hurts, we all have needed forgiveness, release, and restoration at one time or another

Those of us who follow Christ have experienced this first hand in our salvation—God forgave our sin, released us from past guilt, and put us in a position of service and ministry for him

This week, what can we do to put this message into action
1. First, spend some time thinking about Peter’s situation. Read 1 Peter to hear his take on “feeding” and “caring for” Jesus’ flock.

2. Second, pursue those who need God’s forgiveness. Make time to share the good news of salvation with those who are estranged from God. While you are at it, pursue those in your own life who need forgiveness from you. Face the elephant in the room. Pursue reconciliation and seek to restore relationships that have been broken. If there are those in your life who you need to forgive, then do it. Do what you can to restore relationship.

3. Finally, look for opportunities to serve out of love for Christ.

If we want to forgive others, we must follow Jesus’ example

Discussion Questions
Do you want the fire of God’s love to motivate your ministry? What kinds of things can quench that love?

Why did Jesus ask about Peter’s love three times? What did Jesus expect Peter to do to show his love?

What does it mean for us to feed or care for Jesus’ sheep or lambs? What does that look like in real life?

Where has God’s forgiveness, relationship, and restoration blessed you? How has God restored and re-instated you?

Who needs your forgiveness, relationship, and reconciliation? How can you bless someone else as God has blessed you?

What would the church look like if we followed Jesus’ example of forgiveness?

Will we do it for the love of Jesus?

What needs to change for us to live this way?

Thanks for reading!

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