Friday, September 21, 2018

2018.09.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 4:1-15

Questions for Littles: What did Jesus know that the Pharisees had heard (v1)? Where did Jesus leave Judea to go (v3)? Through where does v4 say He needed to go to get there? What city did Jesus come to in v5? Where did Jesus sit in v6? By what? At what time? How did He feel from His journey? Who came to draw water (v7)? What did Jesus ask her? Where had the disciples gone (v8)? What does the Samaritan woman ask Him (v9)? What two things does Jesus say that she doesn’t know in v10? What does He say that she would have done if she did know? From where does the woman point out that Jesus is ill-equipped to draw this living water (v11)? What does she ask Him in v12? What does Jesus point out in v13? But what does He say about the person who drinks the water that He gives them (v14)? What will the water that He gives them become? How does the woman answer in v15? What does she never want to have to do again?
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus is leaving Judea as the heat gets turned up. But there is something that He has to do.

It wasn’t a logistical necessity. Jews went from Judea to Galilee while going around Samaria, instead of through it, all the time. But our passage uses a little Greek particle that means something was absolutely necessary. This was not a necessity of geography but a necessity of mission, a necessity of purpose.

It’s high noon when an exhausted Jesus sits down by the well. No time to be drawing water—which is perhaps why this woman, who has had four husbands and hasn’t even bothered to marry the fifth man, would come by herself.

But here she meets someone who talks about never being thirsty again. That sounds great. She’d love to never again have to come out to the well to draw water.

But she doesn’t know that the gift of God is everlasting life. And she doesn’t know that the One who asks for a drink is God Himself in the flesh, who has come not to get from her something but to give to her everything.

Many people don’t know this about Christ. They think that He has come to demand one thing or another. Perhaps, more accurately, they know that they will have to give up their entire life to Him if they receive Him.

But they haven’t wrestled with the fact that they deserve Hell. And they haven’t learned that God offers them eternal life as a gift instead. They haven’t reasoned out the fact that Jesus is the living God, and that He has no need of anything from us—so that it is His role to give Himself, and ours to worship Him for it, whether in an hour of set apart worship, or an entire life that is lived as worship.
Have you learned what the gift of God is, and who it is that gives it?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH351 “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”

Thursday, September 20, 2018

2018.09.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 8

Questions for Littles: What is the next topic about which they seem to have written (v1)? What, apparently, had they presented as the primary support for being able to eat this meat (cf. v4-6)? But what does knowledge by itself do? And what does love use knowledge to do? If we are impressed with our knowledge, what does that show about what we know (v2)? What is more important than what we know (v3)? What truths about God (and idols) does the apostle affirm in vv4-6? But what happens if someone who isn’t sure of the truth about idols eats meat offered to one (v7)? And what can’t food do for us (v8)? But what might it do to the weak (v9)? If the people “with knowledge” do something, what might those without knowledge do (v10)? And what might the consequences be (v11)? Against whom does the “knowledgeable” brother sin in this case (v12)? What extraordinary sacrifice would the apostle be willing to make for his brother (v13)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn about the proper use of theological “knowledge.” This is an important lesson in the age of cage stage Calvinists in internet arguments, who all of a sudden discover that some rules they had been following were man-made, and are now determined to make great display of themselves drinking and smoking as much as possible at every opportunity.

There’s not just knowing. There’s knowing rightly and knowing wrongly. It’s the difference between being a blowfish (puffed up) and a general contractor (builds up). And, ironically, flaunting your newfound liberty can itself be an indicator that you are more about what you know than the fact that God knows you (v3). This isn’t the first time we’ve thought about how people make enjoyment of their liberty into an even sneakier form of legalism!

What are we doing with our knowledge? Rejoicing that God loves us, and loves our believing brothers and sisters? Figuring out how we can best serve and help and build up brothers and sisters who do not have the same knowledge?

Or are we rationalizing a lack of care for the effect we may be having upon another—while indulging ourselves in delusions of superiority the entire time?

Once we are confident that God has delivered us from a man-made rule like “don’t eat meat” or “don’t drink alcohol,” v8 reminds us that there is nothing particularly godly in going ahead and indulging ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with eating that steak—and I heartily recommend that you enjoy it to the glory of God (cf. 10:31).

BUT if your brother is about to suffer spiritual ruin, because he is convinced that it’s wrong, but seeing his “knowledgeable” brother is encouraging him to do it anyway—then it’d be better if you never visited the butcher again!

Christ gave Himself for that brother. So be careful, lest your words say “eating a steak doesn’t mean anything,” but your actions be interpreted by 1Cor 8:11-12 to say, “Christ’s death doesn’t mean anything.”
Whom do you know that has less theological knowledge? How are you using your knowledge to love them?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”