Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

John 17-21 (12.31.22)

Good Morning Church Family and Friends!

It is my prayer that this year’s Saturday Studies have been a blessing to you and to your walk with the Lord Jesus. We will begin our new study on Monday, and I am excited to tell you that we will read through the New Testament this year for our daily Bible reading. Pass the word along to encourage others to join us, and let’s keep God’s word the center of all we are and do in this new year that our Lord is entrusting to us!

To help set the table for this final interaction that John records in his Gospel, let me remind us of what has just taken place in this conversation on the shore of the Sea of Galilee between Jesus and Peter. Jesus and seven of the disciples have just finished a great fish BBQ for breakfast, and Jesus takes this opportunity to prepare Peter and the disciples for leading and feeding His sheep—His Church. In verses 18-19, Jesus declares that Peter will die by crucifixion in his old age—a death that will glorify God. This news comes on the heels of Peter declaring his love for Jesus three times, which is an important moment of restoration for Peter, since his failure to stand with Christ at his arrest when Peter denied knowing Him three times. Jesus finishes this leg of the conversation by saying to Peter, “Follow me.”

As Jesus approaches His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and as the disciples will go on to launch the Church, write the New Testament, and die for their faith in Jesus, they are now preparing to truly live out the teaching of Jesus that “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

This is the life of the Christian: to die to self every day and give one’s life joyfully for the glory and gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our high privilege to follow Jesus and to give our lives for Him. Peter got this better than anyone. But Peter is also a human man, which means he is susceptible to comparing, judging, fearing, and boasting among other men, which we see play out in the last leg of this conversation.

John 21:20-21 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”

Peter is blessed to hear that he will finish his race faithful to the Lord, which is a beautiful truth to his soul, even if it means he will die for his faith. But even in the good news of this revelation of the Lord, Peter’s flesh is still quick to jump in and say, “What about that guy? Is he going to die for you, too?”

The man Peter refers to is identified by many clear indicators but not by his name. The disciple Jesus loved was John. The one who leaned back against Jesus during the Lord’s supper was John. The one who asked, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” It was John. So it is about John, our author of this Gospel, that Peter asks, “Lord, what about this man?”

Now, what Peter is asking Jesus in this is: “Will John die for you as well? You just said I am going to die for you. And as much as that is good news, my flesh is quick to want to know about those around me and who will die, also.”

What is it in our flesh that is so concerned with everyone else’s business? When we do something wrong, we are so quick to deflect and point out what the other person did, even though we know we were wrong. We are quick to put the focus on another. We are so quick to concern ourselves with others; not in a “good, loving, looking-out-for-you” way, but in a “nosy, selfish, looking-for-life-to-always-be-fair” kind of way.

Peter is given this amazing moment to really hear what Jesus is trying to tell him to help him grow and be ready. And yet, in Peter’s flesh, he so quickly focuses on others. Let’s look at Jesus’ reply:

John 21:22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

I love Jesus’ response to Peter. Jesus sets Peter straight by saying, “It is none of your business what I, the sovereign God, decide to do with John or anyone else.” When Jesus says, What is that to you? it is His way of saying, “How does this help you in any way? This is a distraction from where your focus should be, which is on yourself and the faith-walk and ministry I have called you to do for me.” Jesus reorients Peter by saying, “Follow me.” This is Jesus’ way of saying, “Get your eyes off of others and focus on me.”

Jesus was not declaring that John would not die until He came again. That would mean John is 2,000 years old and still hanging around. Jesus simply meant that if it was His will that he would remain, then he would remain.

John 21:22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will …”

This brings us to the important reality of God’s providential will. We must stop and ponder the power of Jesus’ words here. This is the Word of God—the One who created, sustains, and purposes all things according to His perfect will. I don’t want us to miss what Jesus is trying to do for Peter here. It is what God did for Job, too. God is reminding the created of the providential rule of the Creator. Oh, how we need this reminder, too. In our sin, mankind has been guilty of thinking we can give God counsel and/or cause God to follow our will. We must know and embrace the reality of God’s providence and honor Him as the One who is over all things.

Understand this: When God acts, He does so only because He willfully and independently chooses to act, according to His own nature, predetermined plan, and good pleasure. He decides to do whatever He desires, without pressure or constraint from any outside influence. God’s word says this to us again and again:

Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Christ “… upholds the universe by his word of power.”

In Colossians 1:17, Paul says of Christ that “… in him all things hold together.” Such teaching is also affirmed by Paul when he says, “In him we live and move and have our being …” (Acts 17:28).

God continues to give us breath each moment. Elihu says of God, “If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust”(Job 34:14-15; cf. Ps. 104:29).

In Ephesians 1:11, Paul says that God “… works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

It is God’s providence to fulfill His plan, and it is our job to joyfully and faithfully follow Him in obedience to His will. This is Jesus’ simple yet potent charge to Peter as a follow-up to his rebuke. He simply says in John 21:22, “… You follow me!”

He is saying, “What I ordain to happen to John is my decision and right, and it is not your concern, but what you are to focus on is following me.” This is a massive lesson and a much-needed reminder to us who are God’s people and to those who are studying this passage. Because we, too, are regularly guilty of worrying about what will happen or what we think should happen and not concerned enough with leaving that up to God and focusing on the mission that God has given us to live out.

Brother and sister in Christ, are you worrying about what tomorrow will bring? Are you working to make things go your way? Are you busy telling God how He should act? Are you constantly thinking about others and what they need to do and not do instead of doing the one thing the Lord has saved you and called you to do—to follow Him?

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

This is such a central charge of Jesus for His disciples. We, who are His disciples today, must stop and consider with urgency: What does it look like to follow Him?

It is sin to get caught up in looking left or right, and looking for fair, or worrying about what someone else has, or what you don’t have. It is coveting. It is greed. It is selfishness. It is no being thankful to God for His amazing grace. Instead, let us say with James, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15).

This last scene of Jesus in the Gospel of John is Him with His disciples reorienting them and preparing them for what is to come. John doesn’t give us a view of Jesus’ ascension or the beginning work of the Church. But what we do have is poignant and potent for us, still today.

The last words of Jesus in the Gospel of John are to His disciple. He says,“You follow me!”(John 21:22). It is  a fitting word for each of us today: “You follow me!”

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

John 12-16 (12.24.22)

Let’s dig back into chapter 16 that we read on Friday and see the beautiful truth that Jesus has overcome the world and what that means for us. I want to dig deep with you into one verse in chapter 16—verse 33. I pray it is as great a blessing to you as it is to me.

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Here, Jesus brings resolve to His words in the farewell discourse with the words: “I have said these things to you …” And then He brings a solid and poignant, three-part clarity that the disciples will need in the coming season of ministry and in spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. This verse is where I want to spend the bulk of our time today. I want us to know it and be emboldened by it.

First, He says, “… that in me you may have peace …” Jesus says, “… in me you may have peace …”

Regarding Jesus being the source of our peace, He said to them in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

The dictionary defines peace as untroubled; tranquil; content. But true, lasting peace is different than the world’s peace. True peace is not found in the absence of conflict or in good feelings. The world’s peace is a circumstantial peace, and therefore it is always momentary or temporary. This is not the kind of lasting peace that we find in Jesus! The only way we have lasting peace is in Jesus. No external or self-made modification can bring the peace that only Christ can give. Christ’s work on your behalf is the only way peace is attainable for your deepest problems. Read what God’s word has to say about this:

Isaiah 53:5 (NIV) Buthe [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is what Jesus is emphasizing: Your true peace in the midst of hardship, suffering, loss, pain, and persecution is only found in Jesus! “… that in me you may have peace …” True peace is in no way dependent on your circumstances; it is found in Jesus. Again, this is why religion and knowledge about Jesus is simply insufficient. Your belief must be into Jesus. You are desperate for His identity, His power, His work, and His promise and not your own or anything else’s. “… in me you may have peace …” This is truly good news.

Next, Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation.” This is what Jesus said in John 15:19: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Because those whom God has chosen to make new in Christ are no longer of the world but of Christ and now members of His household, the world has a true angst and hatred for the church. Jesus spoke of this several times:

Matthew 10:17 “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues”

Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”

Luke 21:16-17 “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”

If they only knew what tribulation and persecution waited around the corner and the tidal wave that it must have been in those next couple of days. They would be hiding for their lives, and they would watch their master be tortured and condemned and killed. Each of them would experience tribulation until all but John were killed for their faith. Let us not be surprised when the world hates us, when the world is coming at us, and when nothing is making sense in the world. Why? Why is this not just feel-good religious rhetoric that really means nothing when your world is crumbling? It is because of our Victor. It is because of He who sits on the throne. It is because of the One who holds all things together—because of He who has overcome the world. As big as the evil system of darkness is; as massive as Satan’s army is; as rampant as sin and selfishness are; as lost as people are in sin and idol-worship and self-glorification; as dark as the sins of rape, child abuse, human trafficking, genocide, abortion, sexual perversion, corporate greed, and false worship are in our world … hear what Jesus says to His disciples. Hear Him declare to us today in His word:

 “… But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The influence and power of “the world” is powerful, but hear me today: It is not all-powerful. One greater than it, mightier than its “prince,” has been here and vanquished it. The world did its utmost in the battle, but the Son of God prevailed. The world is a conquered world; it has been conquered for us by Christ. Let us take courage! The storms of trial and persecution may sometimes beat fiercely upon us, but let them only drive us closer to Christ.

… at the name of Jesus every knee might bow … (Philippians 2:10).

It is “… God who changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings …” (Daniel 2:21).

It is God whose riches and wisdom and knowledge are the deepest! It is His judgments that are unsearchable and His ways that are inscrutable (Romans 11:33).

It is Jesus who has been given “All authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus—our King, our bloodied champion, our God—has overcome the world. Is this under your feet? Is it the filter through which everything that is coming at you must pass? Be reminded of what God said to Job to remind him who reigned over all things:

Job 38:4-13 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,

when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb,

when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band,

and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors,

and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,

that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?”

May we know who our God is. May we rightly understand what He controls. May we believe rightly that nothing and none are His equal. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command (Psalm 33:6, 9).

1 Chronicles 29:11 “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.”

Isaiah 40:18 To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?

1 Samuel 2:2 “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”

Jesus says, “… take heart …” In other words, “Don’t lose faith. Keep your head up.” Trust in Jesus, for He has overcome the world. For in Christ alone is the power for salvation and every good thing that honors God. Let the fact that God rules over it all and that Christ has overcome it all be to us an unbreakable and unshakable bedrock for our faith! Stand on Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Romans 8:33-39 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yes, the world will rage at us; suffering, death, and persecution will be real for us in the here and now. But, Jesus has overcome the world. We need to stop telling God how big our storm is and instead, tell our storm how big our God is.

Our peace is found in Jesus.

Our victory is found in Jesus.

Our security is found in Jesus.

Please join me in memorizing this verse:

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

John 7-11 (12.17.22)

Grab your Bibles and let’s dive into John chapter 9 today.

John is often known as “the gospel of belief,” because God’s purpose for John’s testimony of Christ’s life is to bring about belief in many who would study it and see Jesus as the true and eternal Son of God. John states his purpose clearly in John 20:31: “… these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

I pray that those of you who are not saved would hear this testimony of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and that you would believe. I pray you would give your life to Christ in faith. For those of you who believe, I pray your faith would mature and your trust in Jesus as God the Son would mature all the more.

The word of God commands all men to believe in His Son, but so many do not. So while John’s Gospel is a telling of Jesus Christ that is designed to bring many to belief, it is at the same time a chronicle of unbelief, and we’ve seen unbelief in a number of forms.

We saw the unbelief of Nicodemus, to whom Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” We saw the unbelief of the people of Cana, to whom Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” We saw the unbelief of the masses—the crowds who saw the miracles, and still didn’t believe. And Jesus said, “You have seen and do not believe.” Even the brothers of Jesus, of whom it was said, “Neither did His brothers believe in Him,” have demonstrated unbelief for us.

The group that stands out most and we see Jesus interacting with the most is the studied, faithful, devoted, zealous, Jewish leaders. These are the ones who think they have a stronghold on God and the ways of God, but they are filled with unbelief in the Son of God. They reject Him for that which He testifies and claims. They mock Him and argue with Him and want Him dead. And this ninth chapter is no different, as we witness yet another display of a wonderful miracle of mercy and healing that Jesus has performed for a man that has suffered his entire life, but the Pharisees are forging a full-frontal attack.

1. Unbelief (Man-Made Religion)

John 9:13-17

The Pharisees say specifically that Jesus couldn’t be from God as He didn’t even honor the sacred practice of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a commanded day of rest given in the moral law. The purpose is to provide us a special day of worship to God. It is physical and mental rest and refreshment and fellowship with other believers. It was not to be a common day but a special day that was set aside for honoring God.

Because of the fall of mankind, our sinful tendency is to produce—to earn—our identity, to prove ourselves, to make something of ourselves. But Sabbath is about being satisfied in God and resting in who God is and His promises.

So, the practice of Sabbath is a good thing and part of God’s moral commands, which means that we are still to practice them today. The problem was that the Pharisees took the good commands of God and added regulation and parameters to them that were more than God intended them to be. For the Pharisees, any labor—even picking a piece of wheat to eat–was not permitted. Even doing something that was kind to someone in need was not permitted. So, time and time again the Pharisees run into Jesus with disdain because He didn’t adhere to the same strict guidelines they had come to adopt.

In Mark 2:27-28 we read, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, and in His time on earth, He gave us many great clarities that worked against the traditions of the Pharisees. For example, in calling back to David eating the bread of the presence in the house of God, Jesus is teaching that acts of necessity are permitted on the Sabbath.

Things that are necessary for living are permitted.

Another example is found in Matthew 12. There, Jesus uses the example of the Old Covenant priests, and His point in that is to say that religious devotion, religious work, and worship is permitted on Sabbath.

So, pastors and other church staff are not in sin for “working” on the Sabbath, because these are permissible acts of piety.

Another example is what we see in today’s text, and that is that acts of mercy are not prohibited on the Sabbath. On the contrary, it is glorifying to God to do acts of mercy to others on the Sabbath. We see this in Jesus healing others on the Sabbath. Therefore, if you have a friend in real need and a solid opportunity to do good to them on the Sabbath, do not decline that opportunity on the basis of it being your Sabbath day; rather, where wise and helpful, do acts of mercy.

These points of clarity may seem like common sense to us, but they were not viewed this way by the Pharisees in that day. They were lost in the unbelief of man-made traditions and religion.

The self-propelled practices of man are not what our faith in God is based on. Our belief in God is a dependence and trust in Him. It is a belief into Jesus. It is not grounded on or based on our performance. If we miss the gospel in our practice of religion or pursuit of God, we miss true belief altogether.

This was evident in the Pharisees and the reason for their rejection of Jesus. Unbiblical belief or practice will keep us stuck in long seasons of lostness and unbelief. We must be oh-so careful to not even put our hope or standing on our performance but on the performance and perfection of Jesus. The evidence of true belief in Jesus is obedience to God’s word and commands, but it is never the basis of it, as these Pharisees judged Jesus for the fact that He didn’t meet their extracurricular parameters for the Sabbath.

Before we move on, do you get caught up in performing righteously in order to keep your spiritual persona looking good? We must be oh-so careful not to let man-made practices or standards be what drives our faith. Instead, we must live obediently and faithful out of the gospel—out of the truth that we only have new life because of Christ.

Look with me at verse 18.

2. Unbelief (Fear and Respect for the Wrong Master)

John 9:18-23

The Pharisees’ unbelief is stated clearly in verse 18, and so they go on the hunt for Mom and Dad to try to solidify their hunch that this is all a falsity. But what they find is that Mom and Dad are vouching for the fact that this is indeed their son and that he was in fact born blind. But they do not testify how he now sees. They pass it off to the son saying, He is old enough, just ask him.” Now, why do the parents do this? It says clearly in verse 22. They feared the Jews and the widely known propaganda that if anyone was verbal in siding with Jesus, they would be discredited and banned from the synagogue. This shows us another kind of unbelief—the kind of unbelief that is rooted in the sin known as “the fear of man.”

The Fear of Man is man’s deep seated, sinful desire to long for the approval, applause, acceptance, compliments, and affection of other people rather than from God.

The fear of man is concern for what other people think of us. It is a desire for approval and a fear of rejection. It is when we place the opinion of others over that of God.

To make it personal for you today:

Do you often need something from others to make you feel good about yourself?

Do you crave compliments?

Do you worry that you might be exposed as an imposter?

Do you think about your self-worth and look to others to shore up how you feel about yourself?

Do you often feel unappreciated?

Are you quick to shift blame so you do not look like a failure in front of others (i.e., “I get that from my mother”)?

What we have to understand is the gospel does not produce fear; it produces confidence and hope and boldness. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

If you come this morning tense and depressed with fear and are feeling anxiety over life, your primary need is to see the gospel again. You need to stop and ponder what it implies about God’s intentions toward you that He gave His Son to die for you.

True belief in God means you fear only God. You understand that you are His, and no one but Him holds the keys to your life. But these parents showed unbelief in that they only were concerned in what man has to say or what man could do.

What do you do in your faith when confronted by a boss or a government official or someone else who threatens to negatively affect your life if you don’t comply? A true believer in God doesn’t bend to the will or ways of man in order to keep the life the way they want it or without consequence. The true believer says, “I am the Lord’s and if He wills, I will do this or that.”

3. Unbelief (Head Knowledge Is not Enough)

John 9:24-25

When the Jewish officials call the man who was healed back into their presence, they start by saying, “Give glory to God.” In other words, they are saying, “Tell the truth.” They didn’t get the testimony they had hoped for out of his parents, so they are back to him with a manipulative press on him to hopefully get the testimony they want.

The manipulation is in their words, “We know that this man [speaking of Jesus] is a sinner.” This is like when law enforcement arrests a number of people, and they are bringing them in the room one at a time, and after interviewing another witness, they bring you back in the room and say, “Ok, we know that he is guilty.” This is to give the impression that they know something that allows you, the witness before them, to go ahead and be honest, because they already know the other guy is guilty. Therefore, there is no need to hide any truth anymore since they already know. Now, the Pharisees  would say this was not a lie, since they believe Jesus broke the law by healing a man on the Sabbath. But the point is still worth making, which is that these Pharisees are full of unbelief, and they are trying to sway this entire thing toward their view of Jesus.

Now, the once blind man’s reply is another sign of unbelief. He says that he doesn’t know if Jesus is a sinner or not, but he does know that he was blind and now he can see. He is saying, “I can’t vouch for who the guy is, but I can tell you what he has done.”

There is a very real buy-in and belief about Jesus that many can show based on head knowledge—based on the facts of Christianity. Many people for many generations have sat in the pew faithfully and heard a lifetime of preaching and studied the Bible thoroughly. They know the information; they know it well. But what you must understand is that believing the information to be true, or just knowing the information of the gospel in your head, is not saving faith or true belief. No, you must be transformed. You must be given eyes to see and ears to hear it–not just into your head, but into your heart.

Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

We must know Jesus personally. This man who was healed has interacted with Jesus and has been blessed by Him. He believes that He is someone important but doesn’t yet believe with saving faith. How do we know that? Because he doesn’t vouch for Him as the Son of God when accused of being a sinner. He only speaks of what he knows in his head, which is about what Jesus did to him. We also know this because we are given the testimony of his conversion. We will see that next week. But first, the application here is important for us.

To just know God with our mind—to know tons of information about God is not enough. We must know Him with our heart and soul also! We must know Him with our deepest emotions and affections. He must be someone we KNOW and not just someone we know about.

This is an important topic that we must slow down and take seriously. I fear that far too many people who casually pursue the things of God by attending church or by saying a prayer one day because they were told to in order to avoid hell believe they KNOW God intimately, but in the end, they only know about God and the things of God. This is serious because on Judgment Day, many of these people will stand before Jesus and hear him say, “… I never knew you, depart from me …” (Matthew 7:23).

On that day, your eternity will hang in the balance solely based on your relationship with Jesus and by works of your own doing.

The good news is that all God intends to save; all of His sheep will know Him in saving faith.

John 10:27-28 (NASB)My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

Jesus will say this so precisely in his High Priestly prayer:

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Jeremiah 9:24 “…let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Let’s move on to the next example of practical unbelief.

4. Unbelief (Devotion to the Wrong Leader)

John 9:26-28

This is a particularly funny part of this exchange to me, in that the man grows tired of their persistent inquisition as to what happened. He has said it plainly to them multiple times and has not minced his words. But they ask once again. So he inquires back and says, “Why are you so driven to know this man? Do you want to become his disciple [his devoted follower]?” In a voice of disdain and mockery, they jest back at him and say, “You are the one who seems to be devoted to him Jesus. We are disciples of Moses. We are devoted followers of Moses.”

This is the trappings of religion 101. To not believe that Jesus is God and the only way to the Father is to not believe in the one true God. You don’t have God without Jesus. Any deviation from Jesus as the only way to salvation is a deviation to death—to false belief. Devotion to Moses combined with unbelief in Jesus is a recipe for judgment and eternal death. This is because you don’t have saving faith and a restored right relationship with God without the atonement and lordship of Jesus, without trusting your life to Jesus alone.

Jesus says Himself, “… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The unbelief of the Jewish faithful before Christ that day is perpetuated by the fact that they think they are good because they are devoted to Moses. Please hear this today: It is devotion to Jesus alone that gains us favor and life with God. No amount of religious fervor or devotion outside of Christ earns us eternal life. Let us always be most careful to be devoted followers of Jesus Christ alone.

5. Unbelief (Lacking Ears to Hear and Eyes to See)

John 9:29

The Jewish leaders argue that they are confident and solidified in their belief in the teachings and testimony of Moses, but Jesus is an unknown entity from Galilee. They are saying the will of God was made known through Moses and written in the Pentateuch and passed on in the oral tradition. They are saying, “These are the hallmarks of our faith—not this ill-founded, new revelation given from Jesus.”

The response of the man who was healed is bold and strong in opposition to his parents who were fearful and timid. What a cool sign of the work God is doing in him to awaken him unto true faith in Christ. God has set His love on him. What an amazing view into this man’s life, as we are about to see a miracle of superior quality in comparison to his physical healing of lifelong blindness.

John 9:30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! …”

This is amazing. The work of Jesus is amazing!

This is God revealed and at work in the presence of man. Power of healing, preaching of truth, grace and mercy are being shown to guilty, sinful people. The life and work and word of Jesus Christ truly is amazing! It is grace in the flesh. It is a rescue mission of love of infinite proportions. What is cool is that this man still doesn’t see and savor the best part of who Jesus is; he is simply praising the things we see in the physical.

We have so much more in our salvation. We have spiritual insight into who Jesus is and what He has done! We see how it changes everything about us and we see God like never before.

Praise God. The gospel of Jesus Christ truly is “an amazing thing.” Is this the way you speak of Jesus? Let us who are spiritually made new not be outdone by a man in his flesh who still did not know Jesus as Lord. Let us who are saved and set free proclaim how amazing He is. Let us do it OFTEN!

Look at what he goes on to say in John 9:30-33.

Now, the man is using their own Jewish history and belief to make his case. It was understood that God only listened to the cries of the righteous man and not the enemy of God. It was also understood that this kind of healing was extremely rare and only happened as an answer to faithful, fervent prayer.

So, the man is making a case that the works they see Jesus performing are a great sign that He is indeed of God. The Jews are so enraged and angered that they do not have any view of the messianic promises they were raised hearing. Their unbelief is fueling a deep blindness that is worse than the man who was blind for a lifetime until this point. This is an ironic backdrop to the words the Pharisees say next.

John 9:34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

They use the man’s lifelong blindness and disability at birth as a way to discredit him as worth anything valuable. They mock him and try to discredit his argument—not by addressing what he said, but by discrediting him based on their view that because he was steeped in sin at birth, he surely cannot exercise wisdom greater than they who are righteous and devout.  

They cast him out. They threw him out. They threw out the one man who was pointing them to life-changing truth. To the light. To the only one who saves: Jesus!

Hear me today:

We must see these many ways that unbelief blinds us from living in the truth of saving belief.

They surely lacked eyes to see and ears to hear. This is the sobering reality for all unregenerate people. We are desperate for God to give us a new heart, a new view of the gospel—one that brings us to utter confession and repentance of sin and total life surrender to Jesus as Lord. A view that leads to believing not just about Him but believing into Him—to trusting our lives to Him.

This is the greatest joy of life, the greatest truth you could ever know. I pray you know Him and not just about Him.

Now, even we who are saved, we have a danger of practicing any of these modes of unbelief in our sin. So let us be mindful always to not slipping into:

  • Looking for your solidification with God to be grounded in our man-made religion and practice.
  • A fear and/or respect for the wrong master. To fear man and not God.
  • To lean on our head knowledge over the transformation that must happen in the heart.
  • Exercising devotion to the wrong leader. May we be devoted to nothing or no one more than Jesus Christ.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

John 2-6 (12.10.22)

I am excited to walk with you through a famous and often misunderstood passage about Jesus confronting the money changers in the temple. Look with me at John chapter 2.

John 2:13-14 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.

At the annual Passover week, faithful Jewish worshipers would come from remote parts of the Holy Land to gather for the Passover. They didn’t have SUV’s and travel trailers, so many found it a convenience to be able to purchase the animals used for sacrifice right there at the temple. Even with our modern-day travel means, I believe it still would have been most convenient not to transport living animals in the back of the van. Traders were smart to supply this huge demand, and what began as selling the needed items and animals outside the gates moved to the streets of Jerusalem, and eventually, they crept nearer and nearer to the sacred precincts of the courts of the temple itself. We can think of a modern-day example of this like buying t-shirts or concessions at a concert or a game. So, we get why there was a market for the animals, given that they were needed for sacrifice, but why the money-changers?

Every Jew had to pay to the temple treasury an annual tax of a half shekel, and this tax could be paid only in sacred currency. No foreign coin, with its emblem of submission to an alien king, was allowed to pollute the temple. With that, there came to be a need of money-changers, not only for the Jew who had come up to the feast from a remote part of the empire, but even for the inhabitants of Palestine, as the Roman coinage had displaced the shekel of ordinary use.

Here is the problem:

Cattle-dealers and money-changers were notorious for making a quick buck on ignorant travelers passing through. The poor were shamefully cheated, and the worship of God was hindered and impoverished instead of being facilitated and enriched. The worshiper who came to the temple seeking quiet and fellowship with God had to push his way through the hoards of the dealers and biding and merchant chants. Surely whatever devotional mindset one had was tampered with by the wrangling and shouting of a cattle market or auction floor.

The problem is everybody had become so used to it that it didn’t stand out as wrong and offensive to the people of God. This is not unlike the modern church today. The biggest, most attended churches in our country are often self-serving, “man-uplifting,” “God-belittling,” “word-manipulating” houses of profit. Big business has taken over much of the church and turned it into a moneymaking, people-entertaining, man-exalting house of trade.

In these churches:

  • Little repentance of sin is happening;
  • The word of God is not taught fully and/or with God-fearing conviction;
  • Few disciples are being made and sent out;
  • And people have no staying power or commitment, but instead they come and go as fast as the church can get the next campaign or event up and running.

Just like it was in Jesus’ day at the temple, few modern Christians can discern the difference and they just accept it as normal.

But not Jesus; He couldn’t stand what the house of worship had become. This was the temple. Remember, this is still the old system: This is where you went to interact with God. This is where the Holy of Holies was–where God’s presence was. But our faith is not dependent on the house of God like it was before Christ–like it was at the temple. The temple is where the people of God went to interact with God through the sacrificial system He put in place, through the priest and the animal sacrifice. So, we need to be sure we understand the weight of what this place and space represented in this time. We need to see what bothered Jesus so much. The idolatry and love affair with making money had become why all these people woke up and went there–not to worship God, but to make a profit.

Jesus was bold enough to stand up and say, “Enough! This is all wrong.”

John 2:15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

Now, to do this–to upset an entire courtyard of merchants–He was going to need a little force and a loud voice.

John 2:15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen.

The whip is not to hurt people but to herd people and their many animals–to herd them out.

How do you move a herd of sheep and oxen? With a whip! And if you are going to move the people out, people who have a lot to lose, people who worked so hard to secure their spot to sell, you would need some influence. A whip will help.

John 2:15b And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

I know of no more direct way to rid yourself of a person who is addicted to money than to mess with his money. This is what Jesus did. He is taking their treasure and dumping it on the floor and turning their shrines of idolatry upside down.

There are two ways to see Jesus here:

  1. As mean, rude, out of control, and out of line


  • As loving and full of mercy.

In no other instance do we see Jesus interact with anyone in this way—in a physical way. Think about all of Jesus’ interactions and all the times He faced incredible disrespect and opposition. He never got physical or loud like He does here. So, how do we digest this—as out of line or as a loving response? Let me ask you, when a father yells across the room at his daughter who is about to dump a pot of bowling water on herself as she reaches to grab the handle on the stove, is he being out of line or full or love? It is loving, right?

When a humble, peaceable, gentle man discovers that his house has been broken into and his family is in danger of evil, rape, and murder, and he grabs a bat or a gun to stop the evil attack, is he out of line or full of love? It is loving and right to restrain the evil and protect the defenseless!

So, when the Son of God is in His Father’s house and thieves and swindlers and idolaters have set up shop to advance their own kingdom and not God’s kingdom, is the Son right to defend what is sacred and holy and to protect the children of God from being taken or manipulated by these crooks?

Here is what we also must remember: God is love and mercy, but He is also just and wrath. He is the good and right and the ultimate Judge. His verdict is right. If He declares these guys guilty and doing wrong, then they are—without a shadow of doubt. Why? Because God says so, and God is never wrong.

While the physical actions of Jesus are very unique (He doesn’t get physical with anybody in all the other accounts we have), it makes sense why this is a somewhat shocking scene, but you need to see how right it is. You need to remember, this is Jesus, who was without sin. Not one valid accusation was ever made against Him at his trials when they arrested him. Why? Because He never sinned. This means Jesus handled an incredibly intense situation just right. He didn’t cross the line. Oh, how we need the discipline of Jesus in and through us when faced with extreme moments like this—to do what is right but to not sin.

Look at:

John 2:16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away …”

To those He didn’t need to engage physically, He didn’t. This shows us that He did whatever was needed and nothing more. To the pigeon dealers, He simply said, “Take them away.” Christ rebuked all, yet none were injured, and nothing was lost. What an amazing example for us to follow. Temperance and prudence at work to perfection. Another thing to remember is this was how often Jesus handled the worst of situations with a still, calm voice—not getting riled up, not exploding or sinfully boiling over. Just trusting His sovereign Father to work all things to His perfection. There is a perfect combination of engaging but not over-engaging.

  • Men, we need this as we lead our homes.
  • Parents, we need this as we lead our children.
  • Wives, you need this as you submit to your husbands.
  • Any of you who work for someone else or with someone else, you need this.

Oh, how we need the discipline of Jesus in and through us when faced with extreme moments like this—to do what is right but to not sin.

Let’s look at what Jesus said as He cleared the courts:

John 2:16 “… do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

See how this points out the deity of Christ! First, He identifies Himself with the temple, terming it “My Father’s house,” therefore affirming His divine Sonship. Nobody in all of the history of the temple would have dreamed of calling the House of God their father’s house—not Moses, David, or Solomon ever referred to the tabernacle or the temple as his “Father’s house.” Why? Because only the Son of God alone could do this. Only through Jesus can the Father be known.

Matthew 11:27 “… no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Now, here is the thing we must not miss here. Verse 15 says, “And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple” (John 2:15). You have to realize, the masses of hundreds, if not, thousands of people in this area during the annual Passover who filled the courtyard didn’t know who Jesus was. It’s not like He was a high-ranking official of the temple. We know there is no higher ranking official of the temple than the Son of God. So, when He says “My Father’s house,” He is pronouncing that authority. But to the masses, He would have just been another guy. Not only does this ramp up what Jesus is making known about Himself, but it also points out that there is no way in any human explanation that one guy with a whip clears hundreds if not thousands of people from the temple—especially when these people have their livelihood on the line. It would have only taken a few angry men to grab Him, bind Him, and toss Him out after a good beating. So, do you see the miracle here? Do you see the hand of God at work? We often don’t attribute this as a miraculous event, but it is! I pray we see it with a fuller view and that it causes us to worship Jesus as God and worthy of our praise.

Jesus says, “do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” Referring to God as His Father would have been more reason to beat Him down. Why? Because until Jesus, no one talked about God this way. It is not abstract to us because we, the church, are God’s adopted sons and daughters, and so He is our Father, too. Jesus later teaches His disciples to refer to God in prayer by saying, “Our Father in Heaven.” But when the Jews hear Jesus speak this way, it causes them to boil in anger because to them, it looks like a man is putting himself at the same level as God.

Later, in John 5:18 we’ll read, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”

This is a great miracle. God was surely at work in causing unexpected obedience from the crowd to listen to Jesus and to leave without riot or pushback. Also, it was miraculous for Jesus not to be arrested right there for disturbing the peace and for what would have been blasphemous in Jewish ears, by proclaiming Himself as the Son of God.

But, Jesus is the Son of God. He is doing the will of the Father. I want us to see the power of God to accomplish His work in this amazing event. Praise God for Jesus’ example of faith and passion about the name of His Father. He will not stand for God’s worship to be trampled on by the agenda and idolatry of man. This leads us to the next verse and the disciples’ response to Jesus in all of this.

John 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus’ disciples remembered Psalm 69:9: “For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”

Psalm 69 was written by David, and David was calling the people to true worship. That’s the scene. David was calling the people to true worship, and what he was getting back was resistance and hatred and hostility. The people were in the same condition then that they are in Jesus’ time.

Like David, Jesus is filled with zeal for his Father’s house. He is upset that the House of God had become simply a means to a profit. Instead, God’s house is supposed to be about knowing and loving and treasuring God the Father. We have to see this today, too. We have to ask, “Am I like Jesus who has a right zeal for God, or am I like a merchant who really focuses my days on only the things of this world—on my profit and my stuff?” We have to see that the true treasure that satisfies is not a daily profit, but it is God Himself. The point of the temple is that God holds the supreme place. He is the supreme treasure. Do you get this? Does your life reflect the truth that God is far superior to any temporary profit or fame or satisfaction?

What Jesus saw that day in the temple was not an isolated instance of questionable worship support. It was the outworking of greed cloaked with religion. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me” (Matthew 15:8–9).

Jesus is saying, “My Father is not being worshipped. Money is being worshipped—in my Father’s house.” This flies in the face of why Jesus came into the world. He came to display the infinite worth of His Father and to vindicate His Father’s honor—and to free us from the killing effects of the love of money.

Now, God doesn’t just want our routine worship or weekly sacrifice, either. He wants lives that are sacrificial, obedient, honoring Him. He doesn’t want Sunday followers but sold out soldiers for His name’s sake. He wants sacrifice in life and heart and not just religious routine.

Why is this good news? It is good news because zeal for God’s house did consume Jesus.

This was not a one-time flair of zeal for God’s glory. It was His mission. The good news is that Jesus’ zeal for right and lasting worship of God did consume Him. It consumed Him on the cross.

Hear this today:

1. Jesus was consumed, so we don’t have to be.

Meaning He paid our debt, so we don’t have to pay it for eternity, but we get to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Do you know this? Have you trusted your life to Jesus so that this applies to you?

2. Jesus was consumed, so we can have zeal for God’s glory too.

We would only live for our own fame and sin and selfishness if not for the saving work of Jesus in our place. If not for new life in Christ, we would remain just like the merchants and money-changers who pursued idols of the heart and money while in the shadow of the temple that houses the only One who can truly satisfy.

I pray this is a true blessing to you and that God brings real conviction for growth and maturity in your faith. I am praying for you as you continue to study the Gospel of John as we finish this year’s Bible reading plan and prepare to start a new one.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Saturday Study Scripture

Saturday Study

Nehemiah 11-13 & John 1 (12.3.22)

Today I want to delve into John 1 with you, as we get to learn so much about Jesus as God the Son. The deity and sonship of Jesus is a critical part of our faith, and John 1 gives us so much good insight that I pray it is helpful for you and causes you to worship Him all the more. Today I want to answer this important question: What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God, and why is it of the utmost importance to our lives?

John 1:29-34 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Here we see John the Baptist proclaiming that even though Jesus was born after John, He was before him. John the Baptist’s meaning is that Jesus is eternal. This is John’s way of acknowledging that Jesus is the eternal Son of God.

John 1:30 “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’”

We also see this in John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” This shows Jesus’ separate personality from the Father and shows that there is a relationship to the other Persons of the blessed Trinity. This is the confirmation of the deity of Christ—that Jesus Christ is God. If Jesus Christ is not God, He could not accomplish your salvation as “… the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Jesus Christ was and is and always will be God the Son. Even Thomas had his doubts about Jesus’ resurrection, but as he stood before Jesus and touched his wounds, he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Now, to be very clear, God the Father is not God the Son, and God the Son is not God the Father; they are distinct persons. But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God, not three Gods.

Look at John 1:32: “And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.’” Here we see a distinction between the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is an equal part of the Godhead. So when we say that He is God, we are not saying in absence of the Father and the Holy Spirit; we are saying in equality with them.

What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God, and why is it of the utmost importance to our lives? Jesus is God and co-equal with the Father and the Spirit. That is first and foremost. John is testifying here in verse 32 what he saw at the baptism of Jesus. The Holy Spirit descended on Christ like a dove and remained on Him. At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father says this of Jesus:

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Did you hear the love of the Father for His Son? We need to understand it is in the holy Trinity, the eternal relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that love and life find their origins. Everything about real LIFE and love traces its origins and power back to the Trinity.

Did you know that the first mention of the word love in the entire Bible is found in Genesis 22:2? “He said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love …’” This is what we call the principle of first mention, which means the first place something is mentioned, and it gives us a base to understand it elsewhere.

Because the Jewish people knew God’s word so well, they would have understood love through the lens of the love of a father for his son. This would have been their basis for understanding what love is. What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God, and why is it of the utmost importance to our lives? Because without the Son, we would not know the love of God.

Since we are separated from the holy God in our sin, we are left to scramble and spin up our own versions of what love really is. The love this world knows apart from God is not real love; it is a counterfeit love—a man-made replica that doesn’t look at all like the real love of God.

So, unless God intervenes to save us from our sin, unless we can be reconciled to God, we will never know real, lasting love: the love the Father has for His Son. This is the love that has thrived in utter perfection in the holy Trinity for all time. Without the Son, we would not know the love of God.

So, how do we have new life and true love with God forever? The answer is the Son of God! Listen to God’s word:

1 John 4:7-9 … whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

To have love, we need the Son of God.

1 John 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

To have life, we need the Son of God.

1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.

When John says in verse 34 that Jesus is “the Son of God,” He is proclaiming the most important news we could ever hear!

The only way to the Father is to have the Son. To deny the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is to deny your relationship with the Father. To have the Son is the only way to the Father. Jesus himself makes this oh-so plain in John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

So, when John says, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” in John 1:29, we are introduced to God the Son, who came to be a sacrifice for us that would set us free. Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb who paid the ultimate price for us so that we can be set free from the penalty of our sin before a holy God.

Praise God that the Word (God the Son) became flesh and dwelt among us. Praise God, because without His work to come take on flesh and to die in our place, we would have no hope. No salvation. No eternity with God.

I look forward to digging in deeper with you into John’s gospel in the coming weeks as we finish this year’s reading plan. May we know the Son of God, trust the Son of God, and worship the Son of God with all our lives.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church