Logos

Logos is for the students and young workers in Carrubbers and is focused on Studying, Working and Living for Jesus

Studying, Working, Living for Jesus

At Carrubbers we have a passion for our young adults... a passion for Jesus and the Bible... and a passion to make a difference in this world for God’s mission. Logos is our weekly Sunday gathering for students and young workers to share a meal, to worship and pray together, and dig deep into the scriptures to discover its treasures.

Life with God at university and in the workplace is the ultimate adventure. At Logos we want to invest in your growth and equip you for the adventure that lies ahead, as you live and speak for Christ.

Get in touch: David.Nixon@carrubbers.org

How Logos Works

Our vision is to see the growth of life-long disciples who live for the glory of God.

Our mission is to be inspiring and investing in this generation’s passion for the Bible (God's Word) and Jesus (the Living God)

Our strategy is threefold:

  • UP - Gospel: Growing closer to God our Father
  • IN - Community: Growing in maturity together as disciples of Christ
  • OUT - Mission: Bearing the Spirit’s fruit in our lives and service in the world

The Team

The Core Team lead the ministry and are here to serve you during your time at Logos.

Sunday Nights

We meet in the Main Hall after the evening service (6:30pm-8:00pm), which we’d love you to attend before Logos.

It's a great way to get to know other people as we serve together to help clear-up after Logos.

Studies

John 4: Jesus is the Satisfaction for all our Desires

Where do people look for satisfaction or happiness today?

We live in a world which is full of desire but empty of satisfaction!

That’s why the Rolling Stones sang at the heights of the 1960-70s “I can’t get no satisfaction”.  That’s why Barack Obama said: “That was the problem with booze and drugs, wasn’t it?  At some point they couldn’t stop that ticking sound, the sound of certain emptiness”.

Tonight we’re going to meet a woman, who was unsatisfied and looking for happiness in the wrong places.

John introduces us to her in chapter 4, after Nicodemus is told in chapter 3 about the gift of “eternal life” available in Jesus.  The two characters couldn’t be more different: she was a woman in a man’s world.  In contrast to the Jewish rabbi, she was a Samaritan - descendants of Jews who mixed with pagan Gentiles – they were despised for having their own Temple and Scriptures.  Unlike the self-righteous Pharisee, she lived under a cloud of shame and scandal for her immoral lifestyle.  That’s why when Jesus meets her she is at the hottest part of the day, collecting water from the local well alone.  All the other women would have been early that morning in the cool, but she is isolated and ostracised from them.

Her daily journey with her water jar is a parable of her life story.  She gets thirsty, she goes to the well to fill up her jar, she goes home and enjoys the water which satisfies her thirst… but gradually the jar empties… so she has to return to the well the next day to refill it.  She lives in a desert of unsatisfied desires.  But when Jesus Christ walks into her life, that is all about to change!

BIBLE STUDY

  • What does Jeremiah 2:13 reveal about the true reason for her struggle to find satisfaction in life? How does this make sense of the solution that Jesus offers to her in v.13-14, and the question he asks her in v.16-18?

The true problem is spiritual– she has unfulfilled relationships with men – but she really needs a restored relationship with God.  St. Augustine explained it this way: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you”.

  • In light of her being exposed, why might she ask about Temple and Worship in v.20-22? (Does her response in v.28-29 help?)

“If she had guilt and shame exposed… where could she find atonement for her sins if the Samaritan worship were deficient … if that worship was wrong her hope of atonement is gone” (Noel)

  • What do you think it means in v.24-26 that true worship and relationship with God is to be “in Spirit and Truth”? (Where does Jesus fit into it?)

Worship isn’t about place but “in Spirit and Truth”.  The invisible God has made Himself known in Jesus Christ, who will pour out His Spirit into our hearts to bring us into relationship with God.  Our worship must be in accordance with the truth that God has revealed in Christ and in the Bible (the Samaritans lacked the whole Bible and had cut themselves off from the Messianic line).

  • Looking at John 19:28-30 and Revelation 22:1-2, how ultimately will Jesus solve her deepest problem and longings?

Jesus substitutes Himself into her place.  Jesus will bring us eternal life in God’s presence in the new creation.

 

  • What can we learn from Jesus’ explanation to the disciples about where He finds His satisfaction in v.31-34?

Jesus’ joy is found in serving His Father and accomplishing His will

TEACHING ON DESIRE

One of the major misconceptions about God is that He does not want us to be happy.  People fear that living in God’s ways will frustrate our desires, leaving us feel unhappy and unsatisfied.  But at the centre of John’s gospel, Jesus promises to give people “fullness of life” – what this woman lacked.

This was one of the most significant themes in the work of C.S. Lewis, who had an intense life-long interest in the search for happiness.

Our desires are telling us something:

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

It is not wrong to desire to be happy and satisfied:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We are relying on the wrong things to be satisfied:

“Human history is the long terrible story of humans trying to find something other than God which will make them happy”

Where can it be found?

“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire.  If you want to be wet, you must get into the water.  If you want joy, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them… God Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other… God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because… there is no such thing…”

So God’s holy commands are not there to frustrate our happiness but rather to redirect our paths so we can find both holiness and happiness in Him.  Lewis once wrote to a friend, Arthur Greeves who wrestled with lust and same-sex attraction:

“God not only understands but shares the desire which is at the root of all my sin – the desire for complete and ecstatic happiness. He made me for no other purpose than to enjoy it. But He knows, and I do not, how it can be really and permanently attained… I may always feel looking back on any past sin that in the very heart of my evil passion there was something that God approves and wants me to feel not less but more… But the thirst will never be quenched in the way I tried to quench it…”

WE NEVER HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN GOD AND HAPPINESS; only TRUE and FALSE HAPPINESS!

APPLICATION DISCUSSION

  • How can Lewis’ reflections help you see your desires, temptations, in a new light? How could you use them to help a friend who is wrestling with a persistent temptation?
  • How can Lewis’ reflections on desire help us in our evangelism in an unsatisfied world?

CONCLUSION

Jesus is good news:

  • In the past: He can remove our sin and shame from seeking satisfaction in the wrong places
  • In the present: He can bring us satisfaction in knowing and serving God
  • In the future: He will completely satisfy our longings in the new creation

Logos: John 1 "Jesus Reveals The Face Of God"

SUMMARY: God has made Himself known in this world in the divine person of His Son, in order to invite us into His family as children

It is said that familiarity breeds contempt – and for some of us, we know a lot about Jesus, and have heard about Him for many years.  But that has also meant that we are less excited about the truths about Him, and less fired up in our love for Him, and passion to tell others about Him.  It is my hope and prayer that the Holy Spirit will do something about these problems in our lives, as we study John’s gospel this year.

Tonight, as we come to the Prologue, or Introduction, to John’s Gospel – I want to challenge you as you to read this passage, as if you’d never read it before.  And do this bible study as if you were a non-Christian coming to learn about Jesus for the very first time.  John wants to introduce us to Jesus for the first time tonight and amaze us with Him!

BIBLE STUDY

v.1-4: What do we learn from Jesus’ CV about His IDENTITY?  How can these verses shape the way you view Jesus?

  • “In the beginning was” – Jesus shares in God’s eternal pre-existence. “There never was when he was not” (Athanasius).  The echoes of Genesis are unmistakable (“In the beginning… created… light… life”).
  • “The Word” – Jesus communicates and reveals the Father’s mind and heart to us
  • “was God” – Jesus is one with God, fully divine
  • “with God” – Jesus is in intimate relationship with the Father – literally “The Word was face to face with God”
  • “all things were created through Him” – Jesus is God the Creator.  The seven miraculous signs we will see in John's gospel are the Maker restoring His damaged and defaced masterpiece.
  • “In Him was life” – Jesus is the solution to the problem of death in this world

v.5-11: What has God done and what is humanity’s RESPONSE?

  • 5-7: Sent His “light” (general revelation in creation) and His “witnesses” (special revelation) to prepare the way and point to the light (John the Baptist represents the last of the OT prophets)
  • 9-11: Jesus, the “light” of the world has come – but the “world did not know him” – even His own people in Israel did not recognise Him.

v.12-18: What are the BENEFITS that Jesus makes available?

  • 12-13: Jesus extends to us the offer of adoption and inclusion into the family of God as His children, sharing the life with God, is entered into through faith: ”who believed in His name”. The purpose of John’s gospel is to encourage us to enter into this relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
  • 14: Jesus became a human being and dwelt among us – showing that there is a way for human beings to walk and live with God again (as it was in the Garden and as it will be in the New Creation), through Himself!
  • 17: Jesus brings the offer of the grace of God to us, in fulfillment of all the OT promises of God providing salvation for the world
  • 18 Jesus has made the invisible God known, who otherwise is outside of this creation, and shown us what He is like perfectly

 

UNLOCKING JOHN

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).  Everything that John has recorded contributes to this purpose.  Each passage should be approached asking:

  • IDENTITY: What does this teach about Jesus being the Christ, the son of God?
  • BENEFITS: What does it mean to have life in belonging to Him?
  • RESPONSE: What does a right response of belief in Him look like?

OVERVIEW OF THE PROLOGUE

The way that John has written his introduction (as a chiasm) is meant to draw attention to his three themes of IDENTITY, BENEFITS and RESPONSE

v.1-4: Jesus is God (I)

v.5-8: Witnesses to Jesus: Creation and John the Baptist (I)

v.9-11: Jesus comes and is not recognised by the world (R)

v.12-13: Jesus invites us to become children of God through believing in Him (B)

v.14: Jesus comes and is recognised by the believer (R)

v.15-17: Witnesses to Jesus: John the Baptist and the OT (I)

v.18: Jesus reveals God (I)

A wonderful summary of the implications of this introduction for our understanding of God as human beings:

“For many of us, God is like the Loch Ness Monster.  Some people claim to have caught glimpses of him… but all we have to go on are a few grainy pictures that are just enough to keep our hopes up.  There’s no proof that it exists… The God of the Bible is not the god within.  He is not merely the projection of our hopes and fears.  He is the God who is really out there.  But he is no Loch Ness Monster.  The good news is that God is there and he is not hiding… when it comes to arriving at the truth of what someone might be like, our only hope is for him to come and make himself known to us.  John is telling us that that is exactly what has happened… He calls Jesus the Word.  He does it to make a point.  In the Bible, God’s Word is how he made himself known… John is saying that God has not left us guessing about what he is like.  Jesus Christ is the Word that he has spoken…In Jesus we don’t just catch a glimpse of God – see footprints or the flash of a tail – we can look into his face and see God in all his brilliance… Deep down we fear that living for God will make us less human… it turns out that God knows more about being human than I do.  And if I knew more of God, I would know more of what it means to be a human… He loves us so much that he comes to us as a man like us – not just to live our life, but to die our death” (Mike Cain)

APPLICATION

v.18: In light of all we have been told about Jesus, what do we learn about God the Father?  How might this affect the way we relate to Him?

  • Jesus has made the heart of God known. We can love Him; we have no reason to fear Him.
  • “This truth has major implications for the way we conceive God… God is always Jesus-like. God is Christlike and in Him is no unChristlikeness at all… Jesus Christ was always at the heart of God … there is no God ‘behind the back’ of Christ” (Bruce Milne)

 

How does the promise of the gospel: “He gave the right to become children of God” (v.12) affect how you think about yourself today?

  • We are secure in His love
  • We have a certain, meaningful identity that doesn’t depend on anything in us or our circumstances
  • We should be thrilled by our privileges: “Eternal life in John is not the Greek idea of the immortality of the individual soul; it is life shared – with God and with the people of God… Eternal life for John is being brought into the divine family… ‘This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (17:3).” (David Wenham)

What difference could this passage make for your evangelism with your non-Christian friends this term?

  • The light of God can penetrate the darkness of our unbelieving friend’s minds and hearts
  • We have good news to bring of an invitation into God’s family, because He loves us
  • Because Jesus came into this world and into history, we can be sure that the Christian faith is true – it has been witnessed by many

 

PRAYER TIME:

  • Praising God for who Jesus is
  • Giving thanks for what Jesus has done for us
  • Asking God to use us in the lives of non-Christian friends/colleagues/family to help them find out who Jesus is (three names to pray for this term) and respond to Him

Searching For Answers (1)

Please keep in your prayers the university mission weeks coming up in the next month in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS: ISN’T THE BIBLE OUDATED AND IRRELEVANT?

IDENTIFICATION

Back in the 1990s, each episode of the classic series “The X Files” began with the words: “The truth is out there”.  But if they were remaking the show today, they might have to change the tag-line to “We used to think the truth was out there”.  You see, a few months ago, the Oxford English Dictionary announced that the word of 2016 was “post-truth”.  In our post-modern, post-Brexit, post-Trump, western world there is scepticism about any claims to possess facts that everyone should believe.  However, I’m not sure that we’re really post-truth – because as humans we are curious, inquisitive beings; we want to explore, discover and find answers to our most important questions.  That’s why Google we love to use Google.  And today, we’re considering whether the Bible can help us in our search.

Now, you may be here, and your starting assumption is that the Bible is irrelevant, past its sell-by-date, obsolete, primitive, not worth bothering with.  That’s the popular attitude towards the Bible presented in our culture today.  However, if you’ve not taken the time to check out and read the Bible for yourself, then it’s possible you’ve been misinformed.  I would encourage you to invest the time to make up your own mind.  And if you do, then you’ll find that it addresses the most fundamental and important questions that humans beings have always asked.  Where have we come from?  Who am I?  How do we make the most out of life?  What happens when we die?  The Bible also addresses at length the real life issues of love, friendship, family, war and peace, justice, beauty, truth, freedom, happiness, grief and pain, death and evil.  So the Bible is concerned with the ultimate issues of human life and reality – it presents us with unique answers which are worthy of our consideration.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said of the bible that “no other book of any kind ever written in English has ever so affected the whole life of a people”.  The Bible’s unprecedented impact on our culture has influenced our laws, the fight for democracy, human rights and equality, social reform and welfare provision, the arts and literature, and the pursuit of the sciences.  The Bible has inspired our greatest hopes (that death is not the end, that one day good will triumph over evil, that we are loved).  It has also challenges our darkest parts of our lives.  Astoundingly, at its heart, it claims to be the Word of God our Creator.

PERSUASION

To help us consider whether we should bother engaging with the Bible, there are two questions we need to consider briefly:

  • Are we alone in our search for the answers?

Someone once illustrated the dilemma facing humanity in its quest to understand the world and our place in it using a thought experiment.  Imagine waking up in a room with no memory of anything prior to 30 seconds previously.  We look around, we see the door is locked, the windows are bricked up.  We all begin asking lots of questions about who we are, how we got here, and what is outside this room….but none of us can remember.  So without knowing these facts, we start investigating, theorizing, and suggesting our own answers.  But we have no way of knowing the truth!  Until, after a long wait, we hear a key turning in the lock, and someone opens the door, walking in from the outside.  At that moment what that person says takes precedence over all our guesses about reality.  It’s this speaker from the outside world, who can confirm or deny our speculations.  In a similar way, the Bible communicates truth and knowledge from outside the walls of the universe.

At the heart of the Bible is its unique assertion that we are not all alone, having to work out the ultimate answers to life, the universe and everything on our own.  It introduces us to the God who made us – who has revealed Himself to us in words and actions, within the horizon of human history.  And who has personally revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

  • Are we searching for the right thing?

Many people say the Bible seems irrelevant.  But let me suggest that there is a danger in our search for truth, to settle for something that seems relevance.  After all, how do you measure relevance?  The problem with ‘relevance’ is it can be superficial.  Something strikes us as being relevant because it resonates with our present thinking or feelings.  The problem is that our present feelings and cultural intellectual trends are always shifting - so relevance is an unstable and unsettled basis for life.

A danger with relevance is what Professor C.S. Lewis calls “chronological snobbery” – where we assume that today we have reached the pinnacle of knowledge and understanding, while what came before us was inferior.

For example, it’s easy to look back on our grand-parent’s generation, only dismiss them as naïve, ill-informed, mistaken about many things that we now have hindsight on (for example: read old magazines that encouraged women to find their place in the kitchen).  But it’s unsettling to then consider: when our grandchildren look back on our generation – what will they see we’ve been mistaken about?  The only way to begin to see our personal and cultural blind spots, is when we encounter voices outside of our time and place.  Part of my adult life journey has involved coming to terms with my heritage growing up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.  There are many things in my past and in my community which no longer seem reasonable, having now spent 16 years in Scotland.  So when you find truth, you will relevance – sometimes unsettling so!

Another danger of If we are only looking for relevance, rather than truth, then we are in danger of living inside an “echo-chamber”.  You may have heard that phrase used in recent discussions about fake or biased news.  For example, Facebook uses complex algorithms to predict the sorts of updates that we will want to see on our feeds.  It prioritises showing us things it thinks we’ll find relevant and interesting.  The problem is that we can end up only hearing ideas of people who are like us and think like us which only reinforce our opinions and prejudices – not exposed to contrary perspectives that might challenge and force us to reconsider things.  I learnt how important this was when at university training to be a lawyer – to look at something from every angle possible.  I started to do that with my politics, reading those across the political spectrum who would challenge me, and I also started doing it with my religious beliefs too.

So it’s important that we actively seek out and challenge our blind-spots, by reading old books.  And when it comes to old books, the Bible is the greatest.  It has been the best-selling book of the year, since the printing press was invented.  Surely, there is something to the Bible that is worth reading.

INVITATION

Today we’ve been thinking about the search for the answers to the ultimate questions of life.  When the first Russian cosmonaut returned from space, he reported that he had the answer to the ultimate question: Does God exist.  No, he had not found him in space.  But in response, C.S. Lewis said: “this was like Hamlet going into the attic of his castle looking for Shakespeare.  If there is a God…He would relate to us the way a playwright relates to the characters in his play.  We (characters) might be able to know quite a lot about the playwright, but only to the degree the author chooses to put information about himself in the play”.

John’s gospel begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  Through Him all things were made … in Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” – this describes God our creator as a being of communication and revelation.  He is a God who speaks and makes Himself known – because communication is fundamental to relationships. God is a relational being, and He wants us to be in relationship with Himself.  So the Bible is God’s gift to us, to speak words of truth and understanding into our world, which so often perplexes us.  But John goes on and gets more excited: “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us”.  God has written Himself into the world which He created.  He has come among us in Jesus Christ, to personally introduce Himself and show us what He is like.

For us 2000 years later, we have access to those events through the historical eyewitness sources left to us in the Bible’s gospels.  And here’s an exciting thought.  If it the Bible is true, then it opens up to us a whole new way of looking at the world and understanding our lives in it.  The story of our lives has a beginning… we are not cosmic accidents but have a creator…and we have a destiny beyond this YOLO life… we were made to know and enjoy Him forever.

So please would you consider taking away to read part of the Bible to learn more about its central figure Jesus Christ?  Please would you open your mind to consider whether in His words there is truly life for all mankind.

JAMES 3:13-17 “PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE”

2 Minute opening question: What did you want to be when your grew up?  Is it what you’re currently in training/actually doing?

As students and young workers you are at a time in life when you are making pretty significant decisions about what you will do with some of the best years of your life.  A question a lot of people ask me is: how can I know God’s will for my life?

I too would love to have the answers to that question.  Sometimes I dream of having a Tardis, so that I could go forward in time and see what the future holds, and then I could then plan accordingly today.

Our passage tonight puts us into the shoes of a Christian business person, who is making plans for their future.

BOOK: BIBLE STUDY

  • What (or who) is missing from the perspective expressed in v.13?

This is “Practical Atheism” – making our plans for life without taking thought of God.  It is living for the moment with no thought of eternity.

  • In v.14 how does this business-person have a wrong view of…

… the future?

… themselves?

Why does James call these wrong views “boasting in arrogance” (v.16)?

This fails to consider that humans are not God, that to us the future is unforeseeable and the brevity of our lives.  Our futures are outside of our control.  As we think about our futures we often over-estimate our importance, failing to see that we will be easily and quickly forgotten (just as we know little about our great-grandparents).  Our lives and plans “appear” and then “vanish” – only God and His plan endure forever. Humans have a way of putting themselves in Gods’ place with an over-inflated sense of their own importance.

  • What is the right attitude we should have as we think about the future according to v.15?

We are to have an attitude that recognises that God is sovereign over our lives and history

 

  • How can we avoid the twin problems of ARROGANCE and ANXIETY about the future (see: Matthew 6:25-34, Proverbs 3:5-6)?

*Rather than asking "What is God's wonderful plan for my life?" we should ask "What does it mean for my life to be a part of God's wonderful plan?"  We are to seek Him and His purposes, and trust Him to bring our lives into alignment with His much greater kingdom purposes (Matthew 6) – set forth in Ephesians 1:9-10 as the plan to bring heaven and earth back together in harmony under the rule of King Jesus.

*We are to entrust ourselves to His sovereign, fatherly providence in our lives, allowing Him to direct our paths (Proverbs 3)

*We are to make all our plans provisionally allowing God to over-rule in our lives (Proverbs 3)

  • Discuss how you might answer someone who came to you asking: “How can I know what God’s will is for me at this time of my life?”

*Two extreme views:

- Determinism: We have no real choice; God chooses and determines everything according to His plan.

- Libertarianism: Everything depends on our choices; God needs us to make the right choices for His plans to succeed.

*The Biblical View: The Bible teaches two complementary truths: God chooses and we choose (God is sovereign and Humans are responsible).  [How you put these things together leads to the views of Calvinism, Arimianism and Mollenism]  We are free to choose what we desire, but at the same time God also has a sovereign overruling plan to bring about what pleases Him.  Our choices do matter and make a difference to our experiences (of blessing, usefulness, rewards, etc.) but cannot thwart God’s plans.  “The mind of man plans his course, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 14:6). 

Illustration of the railway tracks.  If you stood on the railway line looking at the line as it goes towards the horizon, then you’ll see two parallel tracks which you know will never meet in this world.  Each track represents divine sovereignty and human responsibility, respectively.  However, as you look to the horizon and imagine beyond the horizon, in the heavenly world, it looks like the two tracks will converge and meet in the mind of God.

BOOK: TEACHING

Our choices matter and do make a real difference.  The question then is what are the right choices that God wants me to make?  How do we know what God’s will is?

There is often a lot of mystery and confusion around this subject.  One book’s subtitle sums up a lot of the ways people approach this question: “How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random bible verses ,casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.” (see Kevin DeYoung: “Just Do Something”).  I know many people who are afraid that God’s will is like a target they have to hit, or else they will be going on the wrong path in life and missing out on God’s best for them – that puts on a lot of pressure to find Gods’ will before you make any decision.

I want to help you get real answers to this question and think biblically about God’s will.  Someone who has helped me is Dr John MacArthur: who points out that there are just five instances where the Bible talks about something being Gods’ will:

  • GOD’S WILL IS YOU BE SAVED (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who wills all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”

To know God’s will we need to be first reconciled to God through Christ.

  • GOD’S WILL IS YOU BE SPIRIT-FILLED (Ephesians 5:17-18 cf. Colossians 3:16-17)

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord: do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” … “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”

Being Spirit-filled is about being controlled by the influence of God’s Holy Spirit – the comparison is between being filled with the Spirit and being filled with wine, one controlling influence leads to good things… the other controlling influence leads to negative things.  How does the Holy Spirit have control in our lives: by filling our minds and hearts with the Spirit-given Word of God (as the parallel passages both have the same results).  To know God’s will we need to be saturating ourselves in the Bible.

  • GOD’S WILL IS YOU BE SANCTIFIED (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour”

God’s will for us is always that we would be separate from sin.

  • GOD’S WILL IS YOU BE SUBMISSIVE (1 Peter 2:13-15)

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution… for this is the will of God”

God’s will for us is that we would be humble, accepting the authority of governments, family, church leaders to speak authoritatively into our lives – rather than to insist on our own way.

  • GOD’S WILL IS YOU BE WILLING TO SUFFER (1 Peter 3:17, 4:19)

“For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil… Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good”

God’s will won’t always be for our comfort.  As Paul discovered, when he struggled with his “thorn in the flesh” and prayed for its removal, God’s reply was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 10)

If these 5 S’s are true of your live, then “do whatever you want, because guess who is controlling your wants?”  As you walk closely with God, He is “planting His desires in your heart” for you to follow.  This is the meaning of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” – not necessarily your natural desires, but the new desires that He has planted in your heart that reflect His good, pleasing and perfect will.

This way of understanding God’s will is terribly freeing.  It allows you to “just do something” as you walk closely with Him.

LOOK: APPLICATION

  • “You are not your own, for you were brought with a price, so glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20): How can this truth give you a new perspective on how you use/plan your 24/7 time?

“The 24 hours in the day are not mine to use as I please.  God has given them to me, and I am to use them as He would want me to.  The plans I form need to reflect this” (Sam Alberry)

  • What are examples of the “right things” (v.17) that God has called us to prioritise in our lives? How are you incorporating these things into your schedule/plans?
  • To love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength
  • To love our neighbours as ourselves

TOOK: CONCLUSION

SONG: “Jesus All For Jesus, All I am and have and ever hope to be.  All of my ambitions, hopes and plans, I surrender these into your hands – for it’s only in your will that I am free”

Logos: James 2:14-26 "Faith That Moves"

TEACHING THEME: James challenges us not to settle for an invisible intellectual Christianity, but rather to pursue an active, living faith in Christ that visibly overflows in good works bringing Him glory in our lives.

APPLICATION AIMS: To challenge us to put our faith into action in our lives.  To clarify wrong views of the relationship of faith and works in salvation.  To give reassurance for those who are conscious of their failures.

INTRODUCTION

We come this afternoon to the heart of the book of James.  Everything builds up to it, and everything else follows on from it.  Also what it says has sometimes been controversial and misunderstood – so much so that some Christians have argued that James should not be included in the Bible, because they fear it undermines the gospel. 

BIBLE STUDY

  • Summarise the ‘big idea’ of this passage, after highlighting James’ repeated statements about “faith”.
    • “Faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead… is useless”
    • “Can that faith save him?” – this is not genuine Christian faith
    • “Faith that has no impact on behaviour is not authentic Christian faith. Real faith acts.  Real loves does” (Alberry)
  • How does each of James’ examples develop the ‘big idea’ of this passage?
  • The beggar (v.15-17)
    • It does no good to speak words only and not help with practical needs – an empty profession of faith, or mental acceptance of Christian orthodoxy, without practical expression, is nothing. It’s just hot air!
  • The demons (v.19-20)
    • “Hell is full of good theology” (Alberry). An intellectual understanding of the truth is not genuine Christianity.  If it is not mixed with trust, commitment and love to God!
  • The corpse (v.26)
    • Faith without action is like a body without a spirit – it’s dead. Notice an unexpected twist: faith = body, works = spirit – emphasising the practical nature of true faith, as members of a body.
  • James says “a person is justified by works and not by faith” (v.24). Paul says “one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28 cf. Ephesians 2:8-9 “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and not by works”).
    • How can we resolve this apparent contradiction, by looking the examples of the Patriarch (v.21-24) and the Prostitute (v.25)? (Notice in v.22 “you see”)
  • James isn’t talking about how someone is saved (faith) but how we can “see” that someone is truly saved (works – the fruit of faith). We see the reality of Abraham’s faith and relationship with God, by how he trusts and obeys God when tested.  We see the reality of Rahab’s faith by her actions towards the spies.  She has changed allegiance from the Canaanites to the Israelites.
  • Martin Luther is especially helpful here: “We are saved by faith alone [Paul’s emphasis], but true saving faith never remains alone [James’ point: it will lead to good works]”.
  • Paul himself teaches same point this when he talks about “the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5) and “If I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2)

 

  • How does Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:15-20 and 12:33-38 illuminate James’ point?
  • John Stott - echoing the words of Jesus about “trees” and “you shall know them by their fruit” - describes faith as the “root” of salvation and good works as the “fruit” of salvation.
  • When someone professes in words to be a Christian, but there is no evidence of a changed life, then that raises questions. It is possible to be deceived.  There is also an equal and opposite danger: to be living an outwardly Christian life, but to not have trusted in Jesus for salvation, instead trying to achieve own salvation by works.
  • Why is this equation wrong: FAITH + WORKS = SALVATION? What negative effects can it cause to our lives?
    • FAITH = SALVATION -> WORKS
    • It undermines the work of Christ for us, which has done everything necessary to save us and make us right before God
    • It denies the reality of our sinfulness, that we cannot contribute anything to our salvation, because we can do nothing to merit our salvation
    • It leads to uncertainty: how much is enough to be saved? (Situation in Islam)
    • It leads to failure and condemnation: the problem of our continuing sinfulness

TEACHING CLARIFICATION ON SALVATION

It’s important that we are clear: how to be saved… how to be made right with God… how to be rescued from eternal judgement and hell, for eternal life and heaven.  It’s a crucial question.

We say “you are saved by faith” – but what is faith? 

Our society misunderstands faith.  It says there are many faiths (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), because it divides things into: facts / values… scientific truth / religious faith.  This tries to make Christianity just our personal subjective opinions/beliefs, rather than objective truth for everyone.

However, when Christians talk about faith we’re talking about: TRUST.  When you sit down on a chair, you are TRUSTING it to support your weight.  Your trust doesn’t do the hard work – the object with four legs does it.  Likewise, it is not our faith that saves us, but rather the object of our faith: the Lord Jesus Christ!  We just our trust in God’s promise that if we receive Jesus then we will be saved.

Think of it this way: If we were to get the tram to Edinburgh airport and there was a plane about to leave for New York, then what kind of relationship do we need to have with the plane if we are to get to New York?   It won’t work to be outside the plane, it won’t work to run after it either.  We need to get inside the plane and trust it to carry us to our destination.  Now if Jesus is the plane, and heaven is the destination – then our faith is simply us trusting and committing ourselves to Jesus’ promise that He can take us there.  Whether your faith is big or small, strong or weak, what gets you there is Jesus.  Our salvation depends completely on the work of Jesus for us – His perfect obedient life, His sin-bearing death for us, His life-bringing resurrection, His gracious gift of salvation for anyone who trusts in Him.

And take one more step: If you have trusted in Jesus, then He’s taking you somewhere, there is going to be changes in your life, as He takes prepares you for your destination, your new home.

Discussion For Application

  • How could you use this passage to help the people in these scenarios:
    • John is a professing Christian but after leaving home for university is getting carried along by the crowd into sinful behaviours. He says: “I’m just having a bit of fun.  God will forgive me!”
    • Caroline is a non-Christian flatmate, who thinks it’s lovely you are a Christian “That must mean you do lots of good things for poor and hurting people – I’m also a humanitarian”
    • Someone who always has all the right answers in a Bible Study, but is arrogant and harsh in how they relate to others.
  • In what ways does your faith in Jesus make itself visible to the people around you already? When/where could it be moreso – and specifically how?

CONCLUSION: Clarification For Assurance

I don’t want you to leave this session feeling like a failure and feeling uncertain about your salvation.  Some of us are particularly conscious of our sins, failures, missed opportunities.  Martin Luther was someone like that, whose struggle with sin and his own weaknesses made him doubt his salvation often.  He warns us not to excessively LOOK WITHIN OURSELVES to see if we’re really Christians.  He says when you look within you’ll see your sin, your unbelief, your doubts, etc.  Instead, he tell us to LOOK OUT TO CHRIST, in whom we find forgiveness, a perfect righteousness before God, grace, help, life and hope.  That act of looking out to Christ is faith – and we are saved by faith and go on in the Christian life by faith too.  So keep looking to Jesus, keep trusting in Him.

At the same time, I want you to leave here feeling James’ challenge to not settle for an intellectual faith, but to have a faith that moves, that acts, that abounds in good works, that shows and tells the good news of Jesus to those around you! 

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