The Most Important Verse in the Bible, Part 1 — John 3

On November 3 and 10, we will study the visit of Nicodemus with Jesus by night. So, over the next two or three weeks, you might ask your class, “What is the most important verse in the Bible?”

In our Sunday school class, we have some Christian families who are from India. Today, one of them told about an unbeliever in India who was dying in the hospital. After he recovered, he told people that a man had come into his room and prayed for him and gave him a Scripture verse written on a piece of paper. After hearing about what happened to him, someone gave him a Bible and he became a Christian. I wonder what that Scripture verse was and who prayed for the man that led to his physical and spiritual salvation?

Could it be that the most important Scripture verse is the verse that began to lead us or actually led us to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? If so, there might be many “most important verses in the Bible” for many different believers. On November 10, we will study the verse in the Bible that many believe in the most important verse in the Bible.

In thinking about Bible verses, you might ask your class what the most important Bible verses are to them, and why those verses are the most important to them. You might also ask them what the characteristics or themes of their most important verses are.

We will look at the most important verse in the Bible over the next two or three weeks. Please share your ideas or the ideas of your class through the comments IBS Forum. 

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

How Jesus Cleans the Temples of God — John 2

October 19, 2019

Jesus probably cleansed the temple in Jerusalem at least twice, once at the beginning of His ministry and then shortly before His arrest and crucifixion. During Jesus’ ministry on earth and afterwards, the religious leaders refused to keep the temple clean, and for this reason among others the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Apostle Paul wrote about our bodies as followers of Jesus Christ: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” Jesus spoke of His body as the temple of God, and the Bible speaks of our bodies as temples of God too.

As we study John 2:13-25 this week, let us think and pray about the zeal Jesus may have regarding our keeping our minds and hearts spiritually clean. Jesus’ zeal led Him to discipline those who made the temple in Jerusalem a den of thieves, but His zeal and discipline did not lead to their change of behavior in the temple for very long if at all. It is our responsibility to keep ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually clean so we can represent Jesus before others, just as God intended the temple in Jerusalem to be clean and represent Him on earth until the coming of His Son, Jesus, and His creation of the Church.

Let’s pray, read, study the Bible, love, and obey Jesus so we will not need His discipline. As soon as we recognize that we have sinned against God, knowing that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, let’s repent as quickly as we can and pray for Jesus to fill us once again with His Spirit; then, we will have His guidance and power to make our bodies true temples of God.

Let’s pray that if we need Jesus’ discipline to change that we will make all the changes we need to make in the way we treat God, others, and ourselves. Let’s also pray that the Holy Spirit will help us maintain the changes Jesus wants us to make with His help. Jesus is our Savior and Lord, and He will help us through the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

Let us pray that as temples of God the indwelling Holy Spirit will use us to share, teach, and show forth the truth of God that many might be drawn by our Heavenly Father to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Jesus and Believers Working Miracles — John 2

October 13, 2019

When Jesus performed His first sign at the wedding in Cana, He did so through believers. Though they knew very little about Jesus, not being one of His disciples, the servants at the wedding feast knew enough about Jesus to do what Jesus told them, and through them Jesus worked a miracle.

What type of believer can Jesus most easily work through when He works a miracle? What type of believer will be most able to see Jesus working a miracle through them? We can learn the characteristics of a true believer in Jesus from looking at the behavior of those through whom Jesus worked His first miracle.

First, Jesus worked His miracle through those who had committed themselves to serving others. Yes, the servants at the wedding feast may have been paid for their service, or they may have been friends of the bride and groom. Whatever their relationships or reasons, they had committed themselves to serving others at the wedding. The true followers of Jesus have committed themselves to serving both God and others as Jesus commanded and taught by example.

Second, Jesus worked His miracle through those who had committed themselves to doing whatever Jesus told them to do. When Jesus told the servants what to do, they obeyed Him without asking Him “Why?” questions. They trusted Jesus knew what He was commanding and doing, and they knew they should do what He said.

Third, Jesus worked His miracle through those who had committed themselves to obeying Jesus when He wanted them to do something, according to His timing and not theirs. At the wedding in Cana, whether convenient or inconvenient, no matter what else they were doing, they obeyed Jesus immediately. True believers in Jesus will do what Jesus wants done when Jesus wants it done, or they will prepare themselves to be ready to do what Jesus wants done when Jesus indicates, “Now is the time.”

Fourth, Jesus worked His miracle through those who had committed themselves to obeying Jesus completely. They filled the six jars to the brim. True believers in Jesus do not just obey Jesus part way or part of the time. They obey Jesus completely all the time.

Fifth, Jesus worked His miracle through those who were willing to take a risk for Jesus. Someone might have questioned what they were doing with the jars set aside for purification and why, but they took the risk and used those jars anyway. We do not know the exact time the water changed to wine, but if they took a ladle of water from the jar and the water did not change to wine until it touched the lips of the steward, they took the risk of being embarrassed before the entire wedding party. Sometimes Jesus works miracles at the last possible minute.

If we would see Jesus work miracles through us, we need to examine ourselves in the light of these servants and their way of believing in and obeying Jesus. Though believers in Jesus are not yet perfect, they are growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and Jesus can work miracles through us. Jesus has given us, His followers, commands in the New Testament. If we obey Jesus’ commands in the Bible completely, we will be preparing ourselves to do whatever He wants us to do in the future. We do not need special commands or “words from the Lord Jesus” outside the New Testament to become the type of true believer through which Jesus can help people today, and afterward we will be able to look back and exclaim, “That was a miracle!”

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Answering Dishonest and Honest Questions — John 1

September 22, 2019

As we study the Gospel of John, we will discover some people coming to John and Jesus asking dishonest questions. What is a dishonest question? A dishonest question is motivated by and designed to trick or entrap or put a label on the person you are questioning rather than asking an honest question that truly seeks to learn the answer to the question. Most of those sent from the authorities in Jerusalem to interrogate John the Baptist asked dishonest questions. They wanted a simple Yes or No answer from John so they could put a label on John, go back and report to their leaders, and then plan how to stop John from preaching and baptizing without their authorization. When we read the gospels, we find interrogators coming to Jesus seeking to entrap Him so they can arrest Him. Asking “Are you the Messiah” with the intention of entrapping John or Jesus would be a dishonest question.

What is an honest question? A person asking an honest question truly seeks information and knowledge because they really want to know the answer. Asking “Are you the Messiah” with the intention of following the Messiah if you can find out if He is the true Messiah would be an honest question. An honest questioner thinks the answer might be life-changing or add to their understanding of reality, and they believe the person they are asking might have the answer they are seeking. An excellent example of an honest question was asked by a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and asked, “How can a man be born again when he is old?” Nicodemus truly wanted to know the answer to that question, and he sincerely believed Jesus was “a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God” (see John 3:1-10). Nicodemus was not trying to entrap Jesus. He asked honest questions.

From reading the gospels and seeing how John and Jesus answered dishonest questions and honest questions, we learn that dishonest questions do not need to be answered directly or completely, but they must be answered truthfully. For example, John the Baptist could never have explained to the leaders from Jerusalem that Jesus’ coming as Messiah included His coming as the Lamb of God.

From seeing how Jesus answered Nicodemus, we learn how Jesus gave him as complete an answer as it was possible for Nicodemus to understand under the circumstances. If Nicodemus had received what Jesus told him and had believed what Jesus told him about earthly things, then Jesus could have explained heavenly things to him, and he would have understood them (John 3:12). The same requirement is true today.

As Christians who study the Bible and hope and pray that we can share the truth of Jesus with others, we will be asked both dishonest and honest questions. We will need to pray for the Holy Spirit to help us recognize which is which and how to answer each type. As we answer both types, we will need to pray that we do so with the Spirit that Jesus showed. Through us, the Holy Spirit might draw a person asking dishonest questions to begin asking honest questions; and thereby come to believe in Jesus, the Messiah and Lamb of God.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Seeing Greater Things Through Jesus — John 1

October 6, 2019

When Jesus told Nathanael He had seen him under a fig tree, that was enough for Nathanael to believe Jesus was the Son of God and the King of Israel. Then, Jesus told Nathanael that he would see far greater things. By comparison, Nathanael did see a far greater thing when Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth. Later, of course, Nathanael saw the glorified Jesus raised from the dead.

We do not know all that Philip told Nathanael about Jesus as they walked together to see Jesus. We do not know all that Philip and Jesus talked about. But somehow, Nathanael had enough good reasons to believe Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah that God promised to send.

The truths we learn about Jesus from the Bible and especially from our study of the Gospel of John will give us enough good reasons to believe that Jesus is all He revealed himself to be in the Bible. If we are truly seeking God, the Holy Spirit will use the truths of the Bible to help us find God in Jesus Christ and draw us to Jesus and God the Father. In Proverbs 8:17, we learn, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” In Jeremiah 29:13, God promised us, “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.” As believers, we can help seekers learn the truth about and come to believe in Jesus too.

Jesus told Nathanael that He found no deceit (nothing false) in him. Nathanael was honestly seeking God, the true God, and in Jesus Christ Nathanael found the true God, the Son of God and the King of Israel. Then, Jesus assured Nathanael that this was only the beginning of what He would see and learn about God as they walked together (which they did for the next three years). After Jesus rose from the dead and filled His disciples with the Holy Spirit, they continued to walk with Jesus; therefore, they never complained that Jesus was not with them—for Jesus was always with them—showing them greater and greater things.

As we seek to find God or as we talk to someone who may be seeking God (or who does not know yet that they need to seek and find God), God will give us enough good reasons to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—and enough good reasons we can share with others. BUT, this is only the beginning! We will begin to SEE Jesus doing even greater things in our lives and we will begin to learn even more reasons to continue believing in and following Jesus as a child of God—reasons we can share with believers and unbelievers as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Let me share one simple (but profound to believers) example of seeing greater things the longer we walk with Jesus. As Bible students and teachers, we usually read the Bible in two ways almost every day (if not every day).

First, we read through the Bible in a quiet time. We sometimes call this our devotional reading of the Bible. Second, we read the Bible in our study time to learn more about sometime or to teach a class.

Currently, we are studying the Gospel of John more deeply. Now, those who have read the Bible in these two ways for a long time will be able to tell you that there have been times when their devotional reading (in the Old Testament, we will say) answered a question or shed light on or gave them a better understanding of what they were studying (in the New Testament, we will say). The Holy Spirit arranges the timings of these readings far in advance.

Experiences such as this, simple and profound, show us that indeed the Holy Spirit is working within us to teach us more about Jesus and the saving ways of our Heavenly Father. I believe anyone who is a believer can tell others both smaller and greater things about the work of God (answers to prayers, for example) in their lives—to give anyone enough good reasons to receive and believe in Jesus Christ, and thus become a child of God.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Preparing to Meet Jesus — John 1

September 29, 2019

John the Baptist came to prepare people to meet Jesus by telling them to repent of their sins and be baptized. Andrew and John were two of John the Baptist’s disciples who were the first to follow Jesus. They had prepared themselves to meet Jesus as John had preached; therefore, they recognized Jesus as the Son of God when John told them Jesus was also the Lamb of God.

What did their repentance and baptism reveal? These two acts revealed that they had resolved to do the will of God. Why is resolving to do the will of God important? In John 7:17, Jesus declared, “Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.” Because they had resolved to do the will of God and had prepared themselves to meet Jesus, Jesus called them to be His first two disciples. As His prepared disciples, they knew when they heard Jesus teach that His teaching was from God and they began to follow Him.

How do we prepare ourselves to understand the Bible and learn the truth about Jesus? First and foremost, we must come to the Bible with the resolve that we will do the will of God as we learn the will of God. In the same way, when we study the Bible, when we prepare to teach the Bible, and when we prepare to go to a Bible study or worship service, we need to go with the resolve that we will do the will of God as we learn the will of God. If we go to the Bible for personal study, or to a Bible study, or to a worship service with the resolve to do the will of God, we will more easily learn new truths, understand old truths better, and recognize whether the teaching we are hearing from others is true to the Bible or not.

If we are seeking God or seeking to know Jesus more personally or desiring to love our heavenly Father and Jesus more deeply, then the way to do so is to come before God in our prayers with the commitment to do the will of God if He will teach us His will. If we are teaching the Bible, our effectiveness will depend in large part on our commitment to faithfully teach the Bible and on our listener’s commitment to do the will of God when they study our lesson from the Bible.

Andrew and John eventually began to see how people divided over Jesus and His teaching, because some just did not want to prepare themselves to meet Jesus and others simple did not want to do the will of God.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Matthew, Luke, and John — John 1

September 16, 2019

It is never too late to begin your personal Bible study of John or to begin a group study of the Gospel of John! None of the Bible commentaries, lessons, or handouts are dated as they once were, so no one and no group using the International Bible Study Commentary & International Bible Lesson (and the other Bible lesson materials) are ever hopelessly behind. If you ever fall behind due to illness or vacations, for example, it is easy to catch up using the Contents page. If you miss a week or more, you can catchup with your Bible group by reading the commentary and lesson at home.

As you begin your study, if you would like to learn more about John the Baptist and the birth and early years of Jesus before He was baptized by John the Baptist, read the first three chapters of the Gospel of Matthew and/or the first three chapters of the Gospel of Luke. The Holy Spirit did not lead John to cover these events. Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (reported in Matthew 4 and Luke 4) occurred before Jesus called His first disciples. John did not report Jesus’ temptation by the devil and instead moved from a report of John the Baptist’s interrogators to the report of Jesus’ calling His first disciples. In the Gospel of John, John is giving an eyewitness account; therefore, John did not tell us what he did not personally see; such as, Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.

If we carefully read the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we have good reasons to believe that John, the writer of the Gospel of John, was first a disciple of John the Baptist and then one of the first two disciples that Jesus called to follow Him. That means John would have prepared himself to meet Jesus the Messiah by having repented of his sins and having undergone the baptism of John the Baptist. Without going into details here, John and Andrew were the first two disciples to follow Jesus (see John 1:35-37).

From the time he was a disciple of John the Baptist, John offers us a first-hand eyewitness testimony regarding John the Baptist. Then, John offers a first-hand eyewitness testimony regarding the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry through His death and resurrection. Even though John was also an eyewitness of what Matthew and Luke wrote about regarding Jesus, John takes us behind the scenes. Jesus taught the crowds publicly and His disciples privately. Matthew and Luke report details of Jesus public ministry. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John blends Jesus’ public and private revelations of himself, revelations of His grace and glory, into the Gospel of John. The Bible reports that Jesus privately taught His closest disciples, and in Luke 10:23, we read, “Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!’” Blessed are our eyes as we see Jesus through the eyes of John and believe in Him.

As we study the Gospel of John, you will discover how wonderful it is for us to experience and enjoy the continuity of studying through a book of the Bible verse-by-verse with each study building upon the one before to give us a beautiful understanding of Jesus Christ; an understanding that will buildup our faith in Him or give us the faith in Jesus that we need.

Invite others to study the Gospel of John with you. Invite them to “Come and see” Jesus as Jesus invited His first disciples.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Why Study the Gospel of John?

September 9, 2019

In the first and last chapters of the Gospel of John and in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John begins and ends with two reasons to study his gospel and share what we learn with others.

First, in John 1:12, we read, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” If we have received Jesus and believe in His Name, by His power we have become children of God. If not, the gospel of John will give anyone good and sufficient reasons to receive Jesus and believe in His Name so they can become children of God. As Christians, we can study the Gospel of John so we can be prepared to share the good news of Jesus Christ with believers and unbelievers. Those who are not Christians should at least be intellectually honest and study the evidence in the Gospel of John.

To fully learn the Name of Jesus (“the name above all names”—Philippians 2:9), the names that reveal the nature and character of Jesus, we need to study the Gospel of John. For example, in just the first few verses of John’s first chapter we learn that the Name of Jesus includes “Word,” “God,” and “Lamb of God.” For this reason alone, and I am sure there are others, in the Book of Revelation 19:12, John wrote, “His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself.” And then in Revelation 19:13, John repeated the Name he used to begin teaching about Jesus in his gospel, “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God.” As the Lamb of God, Jesus’ robe was dipped in blood, His own blood. For this reason, John wrote this in John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” And on His robe, Jesus has this name, as we read in Revelation 19:16, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’”

Second, as John drew his gospel to a close, in John 20:30-31, he wrote, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” Jesus is the Life and Light that all people need and can receive by believing in Him (see John 1:4). We believe in Jesus and study the gospel of John to learn more about and praise the One who said of himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Because Jesus “did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book,” as Christians we study all four gospels and the entire New Testament. As John concluded his Gospel in John 21:25, he wrote: “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

The Authority of Jesus and the Holy Spirit — John 3

From John 3:31-36, we learn that Jesus Christ is above all, and He has come from heaven to earth. We learn that Jesus Christ speaks and “testifies” about what He saw and heard in heaven before He came from heaven to earth. We learn that those who accept the testimony of Jesus Christ certify that “God is true.” We learn that Jesus Christ spoke the words of God. We learn that Jesus Christ gives to those who believe in Him the Holy Spirit without measure or without limit. We learn that because God the Father loves His Son, Jesus Christ, that He has placed all things in the hands of Jesus Christ. We learn that Jesus Christ has authority and power over all things, and no being and no created thing has more authority and power than Jesus Christ.

Therefore, it is abuse of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, if not a moral and spiritual crime, for someone to say that the Holy Spirit is leading them or leading a church to contradict the teachings and words of Jesus Christ. Remember also what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” It is abuse of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, for someone to teach that the Bible is no longer “inspired by God” and parts of the Bible are no longer useful “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” They make matters worse when they say that the Holy Spirit is leading them or leading a church to contradict the Bible, Jesus, and the words of God, so they can teach unrighteousness while claiming that they are following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never contradict the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. In this day and age, we must be careful not to follow anyone or believe anyone who says the Holy Spirit is leading them (and others should follow them) to turn from the clear teachings in the Bible regarding true and false, right and wrong, righteousness and unrighteousness. Remember, we also learn in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”

Remember what Jesus himself preached about those who claimed to be His followers who instead followed the culture. In Mark 8:38, Jesus declared, “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Too many today are ashamed of Jesus’ words because of the culture in which we live.

If this warning of Jesus were not enough, when a church leader or a church contradicts the words of Jesus and the Bible, who are Christians to listen to? On the Mount of Transfiguration, God the Father gave the answer in Mark 9:7, “Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!'” Those who believe in Jesus will listen to Him.

Finally, what are some of the consequences for those who tell us the Holy Spirit is leading them away from the teachings of Jesus and the Bible? Jesus has told us in Mark 9:42, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.” These are sobering words in our world today; therefore, much prayer, discernment, and faithfulness is required of those who claim to be followers of Christ.

Receive our “new” periodic International Bible Study Forum Newsletter by becoming a Registered Member of this IBS Forum. Send me an email to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.