Teaching By Answering Questions (Teaching Like Jesus, pt. 9)

That same day some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came up to him and questioned him: “Teacher, Moses said, if a man dies, having no children, his brother is to marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first got married and died. Having no offspring, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second also, and the third, and so on to all seven. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had married her.”

Jesus answered them, “You are mistaken, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

And when the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
-Matthew 22:23-33

These are reflections and notes on chapter nine of Harrell Horne’s book, Teaching Techniques of Jesus: chapter 9, His Answers.

Jesus not only asked questions as a way of teaching, but he answered the questions that were constantly peppered at him.  Silence was the answer sometimes and there were only two questioners that he refused to answer.  Do you know who they were?

The big idea is that Jesus answered his questioners as well as their questions.  For Jesus, behind every question is a person.  This is the humaneness of taking the time, valuing the individuals, and seeing them as persons to be redeemed.

Did Jesus answer the questioner as well as the question? This is one of the most significant things about his answers. Illustrate from his answer to the Sadducees concerning the resurrection.  -Horne, p. 60

Jesus answer dealt with the issues that marked the Sadducee party:
1. “You are mistaken, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

  • Jesus answered their argument that ridiculed the OT law, to say there can’t be a resurrection, by telling them that they have no idea, no clue; they don’t get it.  Why? and What?  He teaches that we must both know the scriptures and the power of God.  And they do not, he says.  

2. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.” 

  • Jesus proves to them that there is a resurrection, but that Moses’ marriage laws only apply to our lives now and not then.  He enlightens them that they have conflated two separate issues, to disparage the resurrection.

3. “Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?”

  • Jesus references Bible material that Sadducees hold to be true, to teach that the resurrection is true.

4. “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

  • He shows them that Moses was shown that those who were alive and died are living and not dead.
      Jesus had to correct them, be a little harsh, because they were disingenuous in their question.  He starts his answer with:
      • “You are mistaken” (CSB, ISV)
      • “You are in error” (NIV)
      • “You are wrong” (ESV, CEB, AMP)
      • “You’re off base” (MSG)
      • “You are deluded” (TPT)
      • “You are deceived” (NET)
      • “You are completely wrong” (CEV)
      • “You are very wide of the mark” (Phillips)
      Jesus had to define the questioners who asked a disingenuous question.  They came to Jesus, not to be taught, but to prove that they were right and he was wrong, through a question designed to illustrate the absurdity of Jesus’ position, as they understood it.
      This is an example of people asking questions, who oppose you.  They are not there to learn, but to cause trouble by making you look bad.  
      You don’t want to not take them seriously and say, “get out of here!”  But you must first say something that expresses the idea that they completely misunderstand the topic or are mixing everything up.  This is not character assassination but dealing with the premise of the question.
      Horne says that Jesus’ answers, throughout the gospels, had a wide variety.
      Some examples:
      • Informational, i. e., his answer gave information.
      • Profound (for a series of profound answers, see John 6). 
      • An answer in the form of a question. 
      • An answer in the form of a dilemma. 
      • An answer to the questioner as well as the question.
      • A real but not obvious answer. (See Luke 17: 37) 
      • An answer different from the one wanted. 
      • An answer in the form of a story. 
      • Silence as an answer. 
      • An indirect answer (see Matt. 18: 1-6).
      • A practical answer to an academic question (Luke 13:3, 24).


      Learning to teach Like Jesus series:

      Part 1
      Part 2
      Part 3
      Part 4
      Part 5

      Part 6
      Part 7
      Part 8

      Artist credit, unknown, found here.

      All of Me

      He brought me to the banquet hall, and he looked on me with love.
      -Song of Songs 2:4

      Have you given all of yourself to Jesus?

      I was thinking about this song, “All of Me”.  I feel like the Holy Spirit is  encouraging us to give ourselves wholly to Jesus. 

      I heard once that many people are ready to die for the Lord, but very few are willing to live for him, dying to themselves.

      Bonhoeffer’s famous phrase is, “When Christ calls a man, he calls him to come and die”.

      Is dying to self and giving up everything optional in the christian life?  It does not seem so, if you look at Jesus words.

      Have you read The Song of Solomon?  An interpretation is that it is an allegory about God and his people.  There is a lot of romantic language in it. 

      The idea is that we are designed to have a passionate love towards God.

      We were designed to be loved by God and to love God, passionately.  We are to have no other gods before God and He calls those little gods our lovers we are committing adultery with.

      Jesus looked at his followers, I mean the people who literally followed him from town to town and showed up where he was; and he said to them, that following him can not be casual, but a serious thing, where we give up everything and love him more than everyone. 

      There was the time when he said, metaphorically, that to be his real follower, you have to eat his flesh and drink his blood.  And he turned the people off by saying that.

      When I had a personal renewal or revival, after college; I kept hearing, in my heart, “surrender”.  I began in worship, putting my arms up. 

      I thought about, “why does my body want to do that?”  I realized it is surrender. 

      I think that intimacy with God, passionate love, and surrender are things that must be nurtured.  It is a relationship that has to be cultivated. 

      Think about those critiques that Jesus levels at the churches in Revelation.  “You have left your first love.”  “Return to doing those things you did at the beginning.”

      Yes, repentance is for Christians. 

      Relationship with God, is ongoing and must be renewed and revived and even re-awakened from time to time. 

      This is a song from us to God, to Jesus.  Read Song of Songs, if you think words like this are far fetched.  This is the devotion that the Holy Spirit is encouraging believers to have towards Christ.

      All of me
      Why not take all of me
      Can’t you see
      I’m no good without you

      Take my lips
      I want to loose them
      Take my arms
      I’ll never use them

      Your goodbye
      Left me with eyes that cry
      How can I go on dear without you

      You took the part
      That once was my heart
      So why not take all of me

      All of me
      Why not take all of me
      Can’t you see
      I’m no good without you

      Take my lips
      I want to loose them
      Take my arms
      I’ll never use them

      Your goodbye
      Left me with eyes that cry
      How can I go on dear without you

      You took the best
      So why not take the rest
      Baby, take all of me

      Notes on Suffering From Job, By Chambers & Peterson

      Then Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying:

      Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
      and naked I will leave this life.
      The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.
      Blessed be the name of the Lord.

      Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.

      -Job 1:20-22
      This is a follow-up on why we can not and should not try to fix people.  (You Can’t Fix People)  There is a whole book on this in the Bible, called Job.  It is the story of a good guy who had bad things happen to him.

      Here are notes and quotes, full of sage advice and Christ centered wisdom about how to approach suffering, from first Oswald Chambers, then Eugene Peterson.

      These are some notes or quotes from Oswald Chambers book on Job called, Baffled To Fight Better.
      • The sympathy which is reverent with what it cannot understand is worth its weight in gold.
      • It is not what a man does that is of final importance, but what he is in what he does. The atmosphere produced by a man, much more than his activities, has the lasting influence.
      • (A) man may utter apparently blasphemous things against God and we say, “How appalling”; but if we look further we find that the man is in pain, he is maddened and hurt by something. The mood he is talking in is a passing one and out of his suffering will come a totally different relationship to things. Remember, that in the end God said that the friends had not spoken the truth about Him, while Job had. 
      • All we can know about God is that His character is what Jesus Christ has manifested; and all we know about our fellow men presents an enigma which precludes the possibility of the final judgment being with us.
      • The pseudo-evangelical line is that you must be on the watch all the time and lose no opportunity of speaking to people, and this attitude is apt to produce the superior person. It may be a noble enough point of view, but it produces the wrong kind of character. It does not produce a disciple of Jesus, but too often it produces the kind of person who smells of gunpowder and people are afraid of meeting him. According to Jesus Christ, what we have to do is to watch the source and He will look after the outflow: “He that believeth on me,…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
      • There are things in our heavenly Father’s dealings with us which have no immediate explanation.
      • There are inexplicable providences which test us to the limit and prove that rationalism is a mere mental pose. 
      •  The Bible and our common sense agree that the basis of human life is tragic, not rational, and the whole problem for us is focused on this (in the) book of Job. 
      •  Job 13:15 is the utterance of a man who has lost his explicit hold on God, but not his implicit hold, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.” That is the last reach of the faith of a man. 
      •  Job’s creed is all gone; all he believed about God is disproved by his own experiences, and his friends when they come, say in effect, “You are a hypocrite, we can prove it from your own creed.”
        • But Job sticks to it, “I am not a hypocrite, I do not know what accounts for all that has happened, but I will hold on to it that God is just and I shall see Him vindicated in it all.”
      • God never makes His way clear to Job. Job struggles with problem after problem, and providence brings more problems all the time, and in the end Job says, “…now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5): all he had hung onto in the darkness was true, and that God was all he believed Him to be, loving and just, and honorable…
      • Will I trust the revelation given of God by Jesus Christ when everything in my personal experience flatly contradicts it?”
      These are notes from Eugene Peterson’s book, The Message: Job: Led by Suffering to the Heart of God.
      • Job was doing everything right when suddenly everything went wrong.
      • He refuses to accept the role of defeated victim.
      • Job does not curse God.
      • Neither does Job explain suffering.
      • He does not instruct us how to live so that we can avoid suffering.
      • Suffering is a mystery, and Job comes to respect the mystery.
      • Perhaps the greatest mystery in suffering is how it can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship, full of wonder, love, and praise.
      • Even in his answer to his wife he speaks the language of uncharted irony, a dark and difficult kind of truth: “We take the good days from God- why not also take the bad days?”
      • Sufferers attract fixers the way road-kills attract vultures.
        • These people use the word of God frequently and loosely.  
        • They are full of spiritual diagnosis and prescription.
        • It all sounds so hopeful.
        • But then we begin to wonder, “Why is it that for all their apparent compassion we feel worse instead of better after they have said their piece?”
      • The book of Job is not only a witness to the dignity of suffering and God’s presence in our suffering but it is also our primary biblical protest against religion that is reduced to explanations or “answers”.
      • Many of the answers that Job’s so-called friends give him are technically true.
        • But it is the “technical” part that ruins them.  They are answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy.
      • In every generation there are men and women who pretend to be able to instruct us in a way of life that guarantees that we will be “healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
      • He (Job) rejects the kind of advice and teaching that has God all figured out, that provides glib explanations for every circumstance.
      • Job’s honest defiance continues to be the best defense against the cliches of positive thinkers and the prattle of religious small talk.
      • Real faith cannot be reduced to spiritual bromides and merchandized in success stories.  It is refined in the fires and storms of pain.
      • We cannot have truth about God divorced from the mind and heart of God.
      • When we rush in to fix suffering (people), we need to keep in mind several things:
        • 1.  No matter how insightful we may be, we don’t really understand the full nature of our friends’ problems. 
        • 2.  Our friends might not want our advice.
        • 3.  The ironic fact of the matter is that more often than not, people do not suffer less when they are committed to following God, but more.
      • When these people go through suffering, their lives are often transformed, deepened, marked with beauty and holiness, in remarkable ways that could never have been anticipated before the suffering.
      • Instead of continuing to focus on preventing suffering… we should begin entering the suffering.
        • Entering the mystery and looking around for God.
      • We need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and if they will let us- join them in protest and prayer.
      • Pity can be nearsighted and condescending.
      • Shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing.

      You Can’t Fix People

      “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.

      -John 15:1-9
      You can’t fix people.  Have you discovered this?  It is futile to imagine that you can.
      We get frustrated with others and want them to change.  We want them to get saved, become different, to move into Christlikeness and godliness.  We say and do things to try to get them to understand, to change.
      We are trying to fix them.  We might even think that this is what discipleship or ministry is all about.  But we are wrong.
      When we try to fix people, we are trying to save them, get them saved.  It sounds good and noble.  But we were never called to save people.
      We are called to love people and let God save them.  This is what the vine and the branches analogy from Jesus is about.  He is the vine.  The vine is the source for the branches.
      Branches have the vine on one side and fruit on the other.  And branches bear fruit because they are attached to the vine.  That fruit is offered to the world and the source of that fruit is the vine.
      All that the branch does it produce fruit, by being attached to the vine.  The branch does not offer the power to make fruit.  The branch only offers the fruit.
      When we try to fix people, we are acting like we are the vine.  And we further delude ourselves that we can somehow get our vine to influence that person to make good fruit.  But we are not the vine and that is not how it works.
      We are called to love people and be fruitful.  God saves people.  Jesus saves.  The Spirit of God works to save people.
      We share, we love, we forbear, and we stay in the vine.  When we leave the vine to try to be the vine, then we cease to bear fruit and become useless.
      The fruit of Christ in our lives is mainly to love people.  We see every person as lovable and as a person God wants to and can save.
      People might not be nice, they might be mean, annoying, or even doing evil.  We can most definitely say to them. “that’s not nice”, or, “that is wrong”, or “stop that”.  We can say, “what are you doing?” to someone who is doing something wrong.  We can stand up for someone being attacked, protect them, or shield them.
      These are all good and fine.  But in all these, we need to know that we can not fix people.  We need to know this so that we do not try to force people to change (be fixed or saved) or we do not melt down internally into despair, because we do not see people change for the better.
      We can forbear with rude people or ask them to not do the rudeness.  We can forbear with people who are rude with their cars on the road or push ahead and cut in line, in person.  Or, we can lovingly say something like, “excuse me”, when someone cuts or we see them steal.
      How do you stay in the vine and keep bearing fruit, as you witness someone stealing at a store or cheating?  What if a secret sin that someone is doing becomes known to you?  How do you respond, or do you respond?
      How do you not fix people, not be their savior, but always bear fruit from the one who is the savior?  How do you live out the great commission, as a minister, but not fix people?
      We are connected to someone.  We reflect him.  We point to him.
      We speak his words, his language.  We are filled with the Spirit, who is all about Jesus.
      People in our lives, all around us, need Jesus.  They need salvation, need to get saved.  And we always say or need to say, “I can not save you, but I know who can”.
      Meanwhile, here is what we can do.  We can give to people.  Give them sustenance, clothes, shelter, and help.  We might not have any of these, but we give what we have and what we can.
      We give people attention.  We see them and listen to them.  We have to learn to see people and listen to them without trying to or needing to fix them.
      Most of the time, we will not understand people.  We might think, “how will this person ever get saved?”  We’re thinking they are too far gone or too alienated from God or too far into unbelief, deception or rebellion.
      Stay in the vine.  When we get into despair, at people, we have to hold on tight to Jesus, who can save anyone.
      A person who is a ‘mystery’ to you, how they could, can, or will ever get saved; is a ‘my story’ to them, before Christ.
      You can not fix people.  But He can.  We hold onto him, and let him bear his fruit in our lives.
      We can and do call upon people to get saved and to come to be saved.  But we do it as we hold onto Jesus and bear fruit.  We are always showing him off and expressing the reality that he saves and that people can get saved, because they are loved.

      Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 3

      Now Jesus began to go all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

      -Matthew 4:23 and 9:35

      Chapter 3 of Herman Horne’s book, The Teaching Techniques of Jesus, is entitled: HOW DID JESUS SECURE ATTENTION?

      (Quotes from Horne or the Bible are in italics)

      Horne writes:

      When one mind approaches another for any reason, the first thing to do is to catch attention. Ordinarily in human intercourse this is done by a word, gesture, or touch. The need of winning attention and of keeping it is felt, not only by the teacher before his class, but by the “preacher before his congregation, the lecturer before his audience, the lawyer before his jury, the salesman before his purchaser, and the writer and the advertiser, though only the printed page is before their readers. Anybody who influences anybody else must first have their attention. 

      Did Jesus have the attention of his auditors, even of those who did not hear him, but only heard of him? Who since his day or before has so had the attention of mankind? Stop a few minutes to think your answers to these questions. 

      Now why was this? How did Jesus so capture the attention of his generation, and, we may add, of all generations? For he is a teacher of the world. 

      Before answering this question directly, we must approach it by asking another: What kind of attention did people give Jesus?

      Horne breaks down the different kinds of attention that a person may have:
      • Voluntary attention, with effort, is like when we do homework that we don’t really enjoy.  Another example is when we keep our car in the right place and watch the red or green light.  We voluntarily give our attention to something through the fear of the consequences of inattention.
      • Involuntary attention is less effortful.  Examples are a ‘labor of love’ or reading a good book till midnight.
      Jesus’ disciples and followers gave him attention involuntarily.  His critics and enemies attended to him voluntarily, making the effort to seek his demise.
      Examples from Jesus’ life:

      Pilate’s wife, but glimpsing him, perhaps, gave involuntary attention. Pilate, with no interest in the proceedings instituted by the ecclesiastical Jews, but rather a distaste for the whole business, gave voluntary attention.

      There is a scene where the Jewish leaders sent men to take Jesus.  They went to do the task of arresting him voluntarily and ended up not arresting him involuntarily, saying, “never man so spake as this man” (Jn. 7:46).
      Multitudes of people in the countryside, “heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37), with involuntary attention.  While his people in his hometown gave him the involuntary attention: “The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened upon him” (Luke 4:20).
      There may have been a shift in Luke 4, with his audience starting out listening to him with ease and peace, involuntarily.  Then, the hard to swallow word was given by Jesus, and they changed to a hostile crowd, listening to something they did not like, that did not fit.

      Now, how did Jesus secure attention? It was no great problem to him. “He could not be hid.” He secured attention because first, there were many things about him to interest people; second, he knew what to do to get attention.”

      Horne suggests these, about how Jesus secured attention:
      • What are some of the things he did to get attention?
        • He called for it.  “Hear”, “hearken”, “behold”, “give ear”, he would say.
        • He announce his coming to a city by advance messengers.
        • He utilized posture- not that he ever posed (Matt. 5:1).
        • He spoke in concrete, pictorial, imaginative language, which easily catches and holds the attention, as a moving picture does today. The phrase “fishers of men” may rivet the attention like a fixed idea.
        • He used the familiar to explain the unfamiliar. Thus, he said men do not put new wine into old bottles to explain why he and his disciples, contrary to the custom of John and his disciples, did not fast. Professor James says: “The new in the old is what excites interest.” Did Jesus exemplify this canon? Can you illustrate your answer?
        • In teaching he did not belabor a point, but passed quickly from one phase to another of his general topic. Thus, the different brief beatitudes. So, too, parables were spoken successively, one story after another, as The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, The Lost Son. Here is unity in variety.
        • He changed the subject rapidly to win attention.
        • His teaching was so different from that of the Scribes.
        • He spoke with authority rather than for the authorities.
        • Jesus received attention because he paid attention: he was genuinely interested in people and their needs.
        • His works prepared the way for his words.
        • People gave him attention because he was a peripatetic teacher.  He taught as he journeyed from place to place…  Jesus walked with his pupils in the open, carrying his good news to all.
        • But mainly Jesus won attention because of that complex thing, covering a number of the preceding points and others besides, which we call personal magnetism. The sum of his qualities made him unique, matchless, winsome.

      Not that Jesus was, and did and said, all these things consciously and intentionally to get the attention of men. Winning and keeping attention was probably no conscious problem to him at all. He simply and naturally did those attention-winning things which poorer teachers must do with set purpose. Thus we must consciously imitate him as our unconscious model. 

      Can you now think of still other ways in which Jesus won attention? 

      The point that it was mainly through personal magnetism that Jesus secured attention, just as any good painting of him today arrests our attention, leads us naturally to ask: What in Jesus interested people?

      Some other things about Jesus that got people’s attention (my notes from Horne):
      • The question of, “Is he the Messiah? (His Messiahship).  There were many other fake messiahs that appeared, on the landscape, around the time of Jesus’ life.
      • His claim to forgive sins got attention.
      • His giving authority to bind and loose, to his non-elite disciples, was attention getting.
      • His message of love and mercy got attention, in the midst of a religion steeped in legalism.
      • His message about God as a loving Father got attention.
      • His signs and wonders that he did out of love and not to prove something, got attention.
      • His social freedom caught attention: who he ate with and called “friend”.
      • The fact that he did not follow the traditions of ‘the elders’ got attention.
      • What additional things about Jesus would naturally interest people? 
        • The fact that to some he extended a definite call to be with him? 
        • His moral earnestness? 
      • How would you explain the fact that the young fishermen accepted his invitation at once? 
      • How that the young ruler declined? 
      • What do you suppose would have happened if Jesus and Saul of Tarsus had met face to face in the flesh? 
      • What do you think would happen now if Jesus should visit in the flesh one of our towns or cities, as he visited Capernaum or Jerusalem? 
        • Would he have our attention? 
      • In what about him would modern Americans be interested? 
      • How much has human nature changed in nineteen centuries?

      We have now seen in a measure how the problem of attention and Interest was solved in the teaching of Jesus. Make a list of the points he exemplified which we may imitate more or less in our work as teachers. Do you find that it brings Jesus too near or makes him too real in flesh and blood to study him in this way? If so, be patient till you are through, and then see what happens. 

      What was the effect on the lives of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the other disciples, of their interest in Jesus? Did following out this interest soften and weaken their lives?  Is it only by doing hard, disagreeable tasks that our lives are disciplined?  Is there a discipline of higher interest as well as of effort? Did Jesus assign weary tasks as such to discipline his pupils?…

      What do you think of this conclusion: The interest of his learners in Jesus led them to make the supreme effort of their lives? As fishermen they would never have expended nervous and muscular energy to the same extent that they did as followers of Jesus. The pedagogy of Jesus was not the soft pedagogy of interest alone, nor the hard pedagogy of discipline and effort alone, but the combined pedagogy of effort through interest.

      Next time, chapter 4: His Points of Contact
      Learning to Teach Like Jesus

      Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 2

      A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

      -John 4:7

      I am sharing my notes from Hermann Harrell Horne’s , Teaching Techniques of Jesus.  Horne’s style, which he models in his writing, is to constantly ask questions.  Asking questions is the supreme teaching method.  My words in these posts are my answers and thoughts, spurred by Horne’s observations and questions about Jesus’ teaching techniques.

      Previously, we introduced the author and his book, then looked at chapter 1, which was about ‘the teaching situation’.  To review, the situation can have six and perhaps more attributes or dimensions. 

      Here they are again:
      1. a teacher
      2. a pupil
      3. environment
      4. curriculum
      5. aim (goal of teacher)
      6. method (way of teaching)
      Chapter 2 is:


      (Italics indicate a direct quote from the book or the Bible)

      Horne states that Jesus never deliberately gave his disciples a lesson on how to teach, like how he washed their feet to teach them humility.  But we can take examples of his teaching as lessons for our study on how he taught.  Chapter two analyzes the story of how Jesus taught the Samaritan woman, from John 4:1-43.
      Here are the six dimensions to this teaching situation:
      1. Jesus is the teacher
      2. the Samaritan woman is the learner
      3. Jacob’s well is the environment
      4. the water of life & transformation is the subject or curriculum
      5. the transforming of a life is the aim or goal of the teaching
      6. Jesus utilized an occasion as it arose.
      Jesus’ method with Nicodemus, in John 3, was Q & A, a remarkable illustration, and the element of surprise.  Here, with the Samaritan woman, it is an occasion that arose.  They found themselves in the same space and it was unplanned.
      We are going to look closer at how Jesus utilized this occasion to teach this lady.  Stop and consider that this is not just evangelism, but teaching.  If you see yourself as a teacher, see this story through a new teaching lens, of Jesus.
      This is a, “Jesus has left the building”, story.  The teacher, Jesus, and now us, does not just teach inside ‘the building’.  The full exercise of teaching is to teach outside and inside the building.

      John 4:

      When Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard he was making and baptizing more disciples than John (though Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were), he left Judea and went again to Galilee. He had to travel through Samaria; so he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon.

      Jesus was tired and it was time for lunch.  He was chilling while the others went to find some food.  That is the backdrop to this encounter.
      They were at the well.  He was thirsty and she was there to get water.  He established a point of contact, when he asked her for a drink.

      A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

      “Give me a drink,” Jesus said to her, because his disciples had gone into town to buy food.

      Jesus got this lady’s attention and interest from the start.  Because he did something that was not done, that was counter-cultural.

      When you show up ‘where you don’t belong’ and actually talk to people, you might spark their interest and get the attention of people who are used to being ignored by you.

      Just beginning a conversation with the Samaritan lady was riveting enough in it’s “surprise power” to totally get her attention for whatever he wanted to say to her.

      But Jesus did not surprise her to speak to her, but rather to listen to her.  When we stop talking and instead listen, we will be surprised at what the other person will tell us.  And often they will end up telling us what God is doing in their lives, because they will have asked us something that our answer will give away that we are a person of God or that is focused on God.

      Jesus crossed the racial, religious and sexual boundaries or prejudices, customs and ‘norms’, when he spoke to her.  Just doing that gave him an audience with her.  
      His method was the conversational method.  He taught her a lesson, from her own life.

      “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.

      Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”

      “Sir,” said the woman, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do you get this ‘living water’? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.”

      Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”

      “Sir,” the woman said to him, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.”

      The teaching came from what was already happening in her life.  The teacher gift that Jesus operated in, came to bear on the material she provided.  He had no agenda or script that he launched into.
      He only responded to what she brought to ‘the table’.

      What if we envisioned people as already being loved by God and on a journey with problems, questions and needs and we let them tell us where it hurts?  

      He used the conversational method.  Seven times he addressed her and six times she replied, the arrival of the disciples interrupting the conversation. 

      She was one person, but ministering to her alone opened the door to Jesus ministering to many Samaritans for two days.  One person usually has many connections.  Newly saved people are the most powerful evangelists or witnesses to God’s work in a life, because it is fresh, new and completely credible or compelling to others: real and authentic.
      We can teach a crowd and have some amen’s, smiles and thank you’s, with little or no transformation.  On the other hand, we can focus, with God, on one person, in whom God is doing something transformative with.  Then, that one goes, in the power of God upon their life and shares with many others, effectively.
      Jesus modeled something for us here to teach us how to do God’s work.  He personally associated with this person.  He sat with her, talked to her and answered her questions, while asking nothing of her besides a drink of water for his natural thirst.
      Sit with the outcast and answer her questions.  That is how God changes lives.
      One of the interesting parts of the conversation that started and ended with water, was when the lady started to talk about the spiritual or religious activities, about worship.  Imagine this is you or me, and we get side-tracked into the ‘worship wars’ discussion, that is really an embarrassing ‘in-house’ debate that does nothing to get pre-Christians saved.  Jesus did not take the bait and neither should we.
      Jesus brought the conversation back to God’s work in her life.  Loud or soft, acoustic or amplified, instrumental or acapella, contemporary or old hymns….  These are all distractions!  Jesus is fine with all forms of worship music.  What he is most passionate about is our hearts for God: “worship in spirit and in truth”: intelligent worship.

      “Go call your husband,” he told her, “and come back here.”

      “I don’t have a husband,” she answered.

      “You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said. “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

      “Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

      When Jesus brought up her husband(s), it was a ‘word of knowledge’.  That’s a spiritual gift that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12:8.  Jesus did not minister out of his divinity, but as a human, filled with and dependent on the Spirit.  He was fully man and fully God, setting aside his divinity during his incarnate life (Phil. 2:7).

      Just read verse one of John chapter four: “When Jesus learned…”

      Jesus said, “you’ve had five husbands”.  What he said, in a sense, was, “I see your great sadness”.

      You have to consider what God’s goal is and the means to that goal.  The goal is union or reconciliation; and the means is love.

      God’s love is relentless, but not harsh or unkind.  Look at ‘the love chapter’ in 1 Corinthians 13.

      Jesus does not say, “You have been divorced five times”, or, “You are an adulteress”  He simply says, “God is showing me that you have had five husbands and the man who’s home you live in is not your husband”.

      We do not know for sure that she has been divorced.  Her five husbands might have died.

      What about the second part?  She could ‘have’ a man, in her life, who is watching out for her and giving her shelter (a home), who is not her husband or lover.

      Jesus’ word of knowledge is not a condemning indictment.  And she perceived that he was operating as a prophet, when he gave her those words of knowledge.

      Prophecy and word of knowledge are two separate gifts.  Both are taught on by Paul in 1 Corinthians.

      Prophets (small p) often operate in ‘word of knowledge’, but a ‘word of knowledge’ is not a prophecy.  Prophecy or prophetic words are always encouraging (1 Cor. 14:3).  Also, prophetic ministry is part of normal Christianity  (1 Cor. 14:31, Rev. 19:10).

      We are looking at Jesus teaching, where he gives a word of knowledge, is perceived as a prophet, and is evangelizing a person; who receives the living water of God and opens the way for her whole town to meet and hear Jesus.

      When we get a word like this, it is about compassion and mercy.  We have said, “Love the sinner and hate the sin”, but we have talked and acted like we are about, “Hate the sin, then love the sinner”.  This is backwards and not Jesus.

      You might be saying, “I am not an evangelist.  I don’t do street evangelism”.  But, you do talk with people, outside of your role of teacher.  This story, of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, illustrates to us how to teach ‘outside the box’: outside of the church building, classroom, or Bible Study space.

      Imagine taking the principles illustrated in this encounter that Jesus had and using them, when you teach.  What if you used an occasion, as it arose; mainly listened and let the ‘students’ ask the questions, had a conversation guided by the others and trusted the Spirit to superintend, and be open to operating in spiritual gifts in a loving fashion?

      Jesus told her, “Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit,and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

      The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

      Jesus told her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”

      I already mentioned the worship discussion.  But, here is another note.  This lady who was not Jewish or in Israel, and because of her ethnic heritage, was an outsider, was also looking for the Messiah.

      If you do some homework on the topic, you will find that Samaritans were looked down upon by some of the Jews.  The story of ‘the good Samaritan’ is an indictment against the self-righteous Jewish leaders of the day.  The Samaritan, who would have been looked down on by the Jewish elites, turned out to be the guy who did the right thing, had mercy.  

      The lesson is that people who are dismissed by the chosen ones, are cherished by God.
      The water might represent what people think they need, to survive and live.  The reality is that every person needs God and needs redeeming through Christ.
      All the ways and means, passions and proclivities, are in a sense, people seeking meaning and seeking to find their way through life.  People, like the lady in this story, have a story, that we should listen to.
      Most of the time, people’s stories have God in them and they also have an opinion about worship or religion.  Listening to them, while listening to God, while having a conversation is a way of teaching that Jesus demonstrates for all of us.
      The greatest way to minister (to be a leader) is to be a servant.  The best way to be a servant is to listen.  We usually say, “Listen to me teach you”, but a better way is for us to teach as we listen.

      There is a world of people out there who are looking for God, but are not going to come to church (to the building) to look for him.  Go out to where the people are.  The teaching that changes lives happens where those lives are already living.

      Next time, chapter 3 notes: How Did Jesus Secure Attention?

      Learning How To Teach From Jesus:

      Part 1

      Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 1

      They were astonished at his teaching because he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes.

      -Mark 1:22
      I have a book by Herman Harrell Horne, called “Teaching Techniques of Jesus“, (Jesus The Master Teacher, 1920), that I am going to share my notes from.  This is the best book, from the past 100 years, on how Jesus taught.  Even though Jesus may have preached sermons, shared teachings, or given homilies; the gospels record Jesus teaching in many different ways, other than lecturing or giving speeches.

      I linked to the book, for purchase, above.  You can also download the book for free, from archive.org, here.

      I think that when we read a verse that says “Jesus taught”, our minds start at how we teach, preach, or give messages.  We imagine that Jesus preached sermons, like we do, whether it was to small groups or huge crowds.  But that really is not the case.

      We might imagine that Jesus is like us or our favorite pastor, teaching by giving great messages, in front of a group of people; in a lecture, monologue style.

      If you are a teacher, whether your classroom is your dining room table, with your child; or if it is your church building’s sanctuary, and you stand behind a pulpit; you might want to learn how to teach like Jesus.  I do.
      You can follow the link above, for a bio of Horne.  This is what Angus M. Gunn wrote about Horne, in the 1998 edition:
      “Herbert Harrell Horne was the first educator in modern times to recognize both the value and relevance of Jesus as a teacher and the features of his pedagogy that were superior to those prevailing in the public schools of the United States.  This book is an eloquent testimony to Horne’s understanding of the former, that is, to Jesus as a teacher, we need to look further afield, into Horne’s life and his other publications,if we are going to grasp the extent of his influence over the educational world of the 1920’s and 1930’s.  
      “Horne was born in Clayton, NC, on November 22, 1874, a third-generation son of a Scottish immigrant.  Following school and university studies in his home state  (he earned two degrees from the University of North Carolina by the age of 22), he went on to Harvard to complete his Ph.D. two years later, in 1899.  His thesis, “History and Philosophy of the Problem of Sin,” set the stage for an illustrious career in teaching and writing on many aspects of education and Christian faith.  By 1906 his first two major books,  The Philosophy of Education and Psychological Principles of Education, were published by the MacMillan Company of New York.  The academic year 1906-1907 was spent in postgraduate study at the University of Berlin….
      …In the first edition of this book Horne made it clear that it was not a book to be read so much as a guide to be followed in study classes.  It was especially designed for discussion groups.  He consistently stressed that his viewpoint was not the content of Jesus’ teaching but rather the form in which the content is cast.  This was how he described his teaching method:  “The mode of presentation will, so far as possible, make the reader a sharer in the process of discovering the methods of Jesus as a teacher.  This result will be accomplished first by raising questions, then giving the reader a chance to answer them tentatively for himself or herself, and finally presenting additional material to reach a more considered conclusion.”

      Chapter 1, quotes & notes: (direct quotes are in italics)


      We are going to study  “how Jesus taught.” This implies that he was acquainted with the teaching situation, even that he was a part of it, and faced its problems; that he was confronted by the same kind of difficulties in teaching as we, if not the identical ones….

      …Now what are the elements essentially involved in the teaching situation?

      The teaching situation involves:
      1. a teacher
      2. a pupil
      3. environment
      4. curriculum
      5. aim (goal of teacher)
      6. method (way of teaching)
      The scene of Jesus and Nicodemus, in John 3, has all six of these.
      1. Jesus
      2. Nick
      3. Night, for privacy and secrecy
      4. “Birth from above”
      5. To affect great change in the pupil
      6. Q & A, a remarkable illustration, and the element of surprise
      Two other examples to think about and look for the teaching situation therein are the story in John 4 of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman, and the Great Confession, in Matthew 16.  Homework: Read all four gospels and look for all the leading teaching situations in the life of Jesus.
      Something to think about (for later chapters): Are the miracles Jesus wrought teaching situations?  For example, look at Mark 2:1-11 and Luke 5:1-11.
      The question is, do Jesus’ miracle situations teach us?  If not, then what is the purpose of them?
      This book will focus mainly on #6, from above in the teaching situation of Jesus: the methods Jesus used as a teacher.

      Next time: Chapter 2: AN OBJECT LESSON IN TEACHING, John 4, How Jesus taught the Woman of  Samaria.

      Influence and Mentoring

      “We want to be mentored.”
      -Millennial Generation

      After hosting and then saying goodbye to a young person, who had spent the afternoon with us; I was struck with this idea of influence.  We influence everyone we come into contact with,  We also influence people unknowingly.

      And how we treat people is more important than what we teach.  How we teach is more important than what we teach.  This is a very hard word for teachers to hear who have excellence as their goal.

      Think about Jesus as a teacher.  He is the best person and best teacher.

      He could teach the Law or The Torah pedantically.  He could preach in the streets.  And he could accommodate himself to the liturgical customs of the local synagogues and bring a message from the scrolls there.

      But he also taught in many other ways, like parables and stories.  He also mixed doing with teaching, as in doing healings, deliverances and miracles.  He also taught through questioning his listeners.

      Why would the way we teach, train, model, mentor or disciple people not be the way that Jesus did it?  We have done it our way and wondered why it has not worked very well.  Jesus needs to be Savior, Lord and King of how we live, influence and teach.

      The younger generations need mentoring.  They need Jesus style mentoring.  Something has been missing.

      Mentoring is different than the way we have been teaching.

      The younger generations have been taught, preached at, lectured, admonished, rebuked, encouraged and entertained.  But, their leaders, their teachers, their elders and their parents have failed to influence them the way that Jesus did with his disciples.

      What do I mean or or how has this happened?

      We have neglected taking up Jesus’ style and ways.  Influence through mentoring has become a lost art for many Christians.

      We have been failing to disciple people.  Why?  Because, in a nut-shell, we say to our learners, “Do as I say and not as I do”.  This does not work well and is called hypocrisy.  This is the charge that Jesus leveled at the elite teachers.

      This is a profound insight about influence.  People will do what you do more than believe what you say.

      The Christian life is more about being and doing than educational knowledge.

      I have probably had hundreds of teachers, from kindergarten through the present.  The handful that I remember, loved me in some fashion:  They came into my personal space or invited me into theirs and expressed genuine caring.

      The fruit of the Spirit is more important than knowledge or the gifts of the Spirit.

      Mentoring is when you live with someone.  Many of us are not able to take on a mentorship where we live with someone to learn life from them.

      Mentoring means living together, sharing life: teaching and learning how to live, do and be; close up.

      Mentoring involves caring and sharing, living and being together.  Mentoring involves more listening and less talking:  Hearing stories and sharing stories.

      Lots of patience.  
      Walking beside a person.  
      Helping the other person discover who God made them to be and what the dreams are that God has put in their hearts.

      Mentoring involves working together, playing together and a lot of eating together:  Walking together and  praying together with a lot of questions.  And good mentors are able to say, “I don’t know, but I will walk with you”.

      Influence is something that we do, whether we like it or not.  Influence is a responsibility for which we are accountable for.  Many methods of influence do not work well in that they do not touch the heart and form a life towards God.

      Mentoring is what is missing.  Jesus mentored his learners but many learners are not mentored by us.  Instead, we keep using methods that do not make people have lives for God.

      A simple definition of mentoring is guiding people, in their lives, from beside them.

      The Lord’s Favorite Place

      The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

      -Psalm 87:2
      The Lord has a favorite place on earth.  His favorite place is the place where people come into His presence.  That is what the gates of Zion means.
      The gates of Zion is God’s Golden Gate Bridge.
      Zion is a place, a mountain, that is real and symbolic.  Zion is the hill that Jerusalem is built on and Zion is the mountain that the temple is built on.  But today it is a place that points to something.
      Zion today, is a word that signifies the people of God.  The Lord loves the gates of His people.  The gates signify the entryway and authority of Christ that believers live in with the Lord.
      The gates are the ways and the means.  That is to say, the Lord loves the gates of Zion, because the Lord loves people who are living in Christ.  God’s plan has always been for people to come and be transformed and then to go out with Him, into the world.
      The gates of Zion are the place where people are transformed.  People come into Christ, through the gates.  Then people go out into the world as God’s missionaries in Christ, through those same gates.
      The gates of Zion signify the authority given by Jesus to his church.  Jesus said, 

      “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
      -Matthew 28:18-20

      Notice that baptism comes before teaching.  The beginning of discipleship is baptism.  This is something I learned recently, from a Baptist friend, who is insightful.

      The great commision is to go out and make disciples. And the first thing a disciple does is to get baptized.

      Jesus method is to go out and find people, make them disciples and baptize them, where they live.

      Baptism is part of mission and evangelism.  I think that if you study baptism in the NT, you will find that it always happens outside of the more formal meetings.  As soon as you become a disciple, you get baptized.

      It is natural, powerful and solemn; with prayer, and in the authority of Jesus, which all believers possess.

      Jesus simply said, “go out into the world, in my authority. You are all authorized, as missionaries, to make disciples.  And first baptise them.”  There is no mention from him of getting people into the church (meeting houses) first or through catechism or confirmatory classes before the event of baptism.

      The gates of Zion, are the authority to say, “you are in”, to people.  And baptising someone, where you find them, says, or is symbolic of, “you’re in”.  Every Christian is authorized by Jesus, to go out, into the world, and find people; to make them disciples and immediately baptize them.

      That is the great commission.  That is the assignment from Jesus to all Christians.  This is permission.

      The gates of Zion signify coming and going.  Coming into Christ and going out with Christ.  And we do both, through his authority.

      And there is also an enemy of Christ in the world.  He also has a kingdom and authority.  A battle is going on between God’s and Satan’s kingdoms.

      Jesus said,

      “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”                                                           -Matthew 16:18b (ESV)

      The gates of Zion prevail over the gates of hell.  The gates of hell means the comings and goings or the commerce of the forces of darkness.  Gates also means power or force, and hell also means hades.

      The church has authority over the spiritual forces of darkness in the world today, through Jesus.  There is a battle going on and we are on God’s side.

      The authority or authorization that Jesus gives his people, is to take territory and capture people out from the hands or clutches of the enemy.  As the church Jesus builds expands, it also extends into areas or spheres where the enemy has held influence, and takes that territory or spheres of influence away from the enemy and takes it for the kingdom of God.

      The church and the people in the church, believers; are the soldiers of God, in the world, who put their feet on the ground and take the territory that Christ makes a way to be taken.  The church was never meant to be just a house of refuge, but the mountain that is Zion, and has authority from Jesus.

      The way for the world to be evangelized is to take the church into the world.  And this is part of the destiny, calling and inheritance of the church that Jesus has had in mind.

      The Lord has a favorite place on earth.  His favorite place is the place where people come into His presence.  That is what the gates of Zion means.
      The gates of Zion is God’s Golden Gate Bridge.
      Zion is a place, a mountain, that is real and symbolic.  Zion is the hill that Jerusalem is built on and Zion is the mountain that the temple is built on.  But today it is a place that points to something.
      Zion today, is a word that signifies the people of God.  The Lord loves the gates of His people.  The gates signify the entryway and authority of Christ that believers live in with the Lord.


      Looking For A Jesus Shaped Church

      When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

      And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

      “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered,

      You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

      And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and

      On this rock I will build My church,
      And the forces of Hades will not overpower it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.”
      -Matthew 16:13-19

      What do you look for in a church?  We know that a church is not a building, but a group of people.  Those people who are the church, are gathered around Jesus Christ as Lord, Messiah, the Son of God.

      When I was a small child and my parents were looking for a new church, the number one attribute they sought was Christian education.  They were impressed by the emphasis on Christian ed. that our new church had.

      Both the church we left and the new church we joined believed that Jesus is Lord.  That is the center,  But how does a church function, live and breathe, act, be, become and do; based on “Jesus is Lord”?

      All churches that believe that Jesus is Lord do not have to look alike and emphasize the same things.  The NT does not have a model for what a perfect church is or what the right emphasis is, other than the cornerstone of Jesus as Lord.

      Every list or advice on what to look for in a church should begin or have as it’s foundation, that Jesus is Lord.  The question becomes, “If Jesus is Lord, then what is your church going to look like, be like and function like?”

      What if Jesus is the blueprint for the church?  He calls people to become like him.  He is the head of the church and the Spirit of God is the orchestrator, conductor and chief imagineer.

      What is it that we need to have in a church that we are going to be a part of?

      Jesus said, “I will build my church”.  It is important to keep in mind that Jesus is and has been building his church.  And every church on the landscape today is not necessarily a church that Jesus built or is building.
      Jesus is saying that his church is based on the foundation that He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  If a ‘church’ teaches, believes or proclaims otherwise; they simply are not a part of the church Jesus has or is building.
      And Peter is not the foundation of the church.  Peter’s proclamation, inspired by Jesus’ Father, is the foundation.  When we look at individual churches, we want to look at what they are built on and that gives us a clue as to if Jesus built it or is building it.
      I think that the foundation or cornerstone that the church or any particular church is built from (should be built from) is “Jesus Christ is Lord, Messiah and Son of God”.  With that settled, what does a church look like and function like?

      I looked for lists, that try to answer that question.  And I found a church that I think does a great job of describing what to look for in a church.

      Here are five examples of lists, with some comments.

      Church One (pastor-centric?)

      1. A church where my family will be regularly fed by God’s Word. 
      2. A church where I am convinced the care of my soul will be a priority. 
      3. A church where my family will experience meaningful Christian fellowship and accountability. 
      4. A church where I can serve God’s people and use my gifts for its benefit.

      My questions for this sort of church:

      • Is the church a feeding center?  
      • Is this a pastor-centric view of church?  
      • Are we consumers or disciples in Christ?  
      • Did Jesus come, so that we could serve him in church?

      Church Two (Biblical)

      9 marks of a Biblical church:

      1. Expositional preaching.
      2. Biblical theology.
      3. Biblical understanding of the gospel.
      4. A biblical understanding of conversion.
      5. A biblical understanding of  evangelism.
      6. Biblical church membership.
      7. Biblical church discipline.
      8. Biblical discipleship and growth
      9. Biblical church leadership.
      My understanding is that the people of this church’s camp are concerned about churches without the Bible.  There are so called churches that just do not value or believe in the Bible.
      We do want to be people of the word and Biblical illiteracy among Christians is a bad thing.  But, the living Word, Jesus Christ, is really the center of the church, of Christianity.  We do not worship the Bible.

      I believe:

      • We can miss God, with our faces and eyes in and on the Bible.  
      • We can memorize or think we know what is biblical, but misrepresent God.  
      • We do not study and understand the scriptures to be Christians or church members. 
      • But, we will love the word and live it, breath it and study it, discuss it and talk about it; 
        • Because of our loving relationship with the living God.
      Church Three (not sure if you are Christian)

      “Top 10 Things to Look for in a Church;”

      1. Community
      2. Commitment
      3. Involvement
      4. Worship
      5. Beliefs
      6. Graceful and Truthful teachings
      7. Evangelistic Aims
      8. Biblically based Teachings
      9. Clear Gospel Message
      10. Traditions

      This list is very different than the previous one.  I do not doubt the author is Christ centered or based on Jesus.  But the church that Jesus builds is overtly Christ like.

      The author of this list might say that Jesus and “Jesus is Lord” is a given, but we have no way of knowing, without the list saying it.  And the mark of an inauthentic church is that Jesus is not Lord there.

      When I look for and look at a church, I am mainly looking for one thing:  Christ.  Jesus Christ is Lord.  People in Christ.  The love of Christ.  Christ in people, their hope of glory.
      Church Four (church centered church?)
      “10 Qualities to look for when Choosing a Church”:

      1. Is this Church Centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 
      2. Does This Church Stand Firm on Sound Biblical Doctrine? 
      3. Is the Bible Faithfully Preached Week after Week? 
      4. Is the Worship Biblical and God-Centered? 
      5. Are the Leaders Biblically Qualified and Mutually Accountable? 
      6. Do the Leaders/Pastors Shepherd the Sheep? 
      7. Does This Church Practice Biblical Church Discipline? 
      8. Does this Church Equip Its Members to Serve God? 
      9. Does This Church Community Have a Culture of Grace, Love, and Peace? 
      10. Does This Church Have an Outward Focus—Missions, Evangelism, and Church Planting?
      Lots of good points in this list.  But we, as the church and overseers of the church, can get so caught up in the church, that we do not see the forest through the trees.  There is more here about the church than who is inside its members and building it.
      The Gospel of Jesus Christ is number one.  But what is the Gospel?
      Is the Gospel the message of the cross and about what happened there and the invite to appropriate that into our lives?  Or is is the gospel of Jesus Christ, that Jesus preached and we are to preach, teach and live in; the gospel of the kingdom of God?

      The church that Jesus Christ is building today, is built on and through the Gospel of the kingdom.

      It is popular today to use Paul to interpret Jesus and his message, even if we do it subconsciously or unintentionally.  We say we are all about Christ, but we preach a Pauline Gospel, that Paul himself did not preach.

      (See notes at the bottom.)

      What is Paul’s message in one short sentence, from all his writings?

      I would say: “A man in Christ”.  A man in Christ has seen the cross and his savior thereon.  He sees the death and resurrection of Christ and he has Christ in him, as King; because now, for him, Jesus Christ is Lord.

      Church Five (Jesus shaped church)

      Crosspointe Community Church, in Michigan has a long list.

      Here is their shorter list:

      What to look for in a Church:

      1. Jesus is the focus of the church and all its teachings
      2. The church believes that loving other people is the most genuine and accurate representation of our love for God
      3. The Church believes that All People Matter to God no matter their race, nationality, income level, education, or political affiliation
      4. The Church believes that forgiveness, grace, and mercy is the deepest form of love towards other people; especially when it’s demonstrated to our enemies
      5. The Church believes that God’s Values are not the same as the world’s
      6. The Church believes that God is concerned about His Truth and not the traditions of mankind
      7. The Church lives out its Commission to spread the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ to impact the entire Community (people, environment, & institutions)
      The longer list:

      What to look for in a Church:

      1. The name, person, and works, of Jesus Christ are regularly focused upon, spotlighted, and promoted (John 17:1-5, 24-25, 2 Corinthians 4:5)
      2. People are being invited to join God’s family: publicly, privately, and regularly and people are accepting these invitations (Joshua 24:14-15, Acts 2:40-41, 46-47, 5:14)
      3. People’s salvations and growth in Jesus Christ are considered more important than traditions, dress styles, and/or musical styles (Philippians 2:3-11)
      4. The church is growing in their recognition, acknowledgement, and participation in evangelizing their local communities (2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8)
      5. God’s Word and the learning of God’s Word is continually and regularly promoted and taught (John 1:1-5, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119)
      6. All people at your church feel comfortable, accepted, cared for, and loved by those who attend. (Mark 12:28-34, Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9)
      7. Believers who have been part of God’s family are regularly challenged to grow in their fellowship with God and allow God to grow them to be more like Christ (Ephesians 4:14-16)
      8. The pursuit of truth is regular, continuous, and persistent (1 Corinthians 13:6, 2 Corinthians 4:2, 13:8, John 1:17, 3:21, 4:23-24, 8:31-32)
      9. Forgiveness should be promoted and practiced (Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 5:7, 6:12, Romans 2:1)
      10. The freedom of grace in Jesus Christ is promoted and not the slavery of the law of Moses (Romans 5:20-21, 6:15-18, 22-23, 8:1-4 )
      11. Satan doesn’t like what is going on and will continually try to subvert the work and impact of the church (Revelation 12:10-11, Genesis 3:15, Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8-9, 1 Chronicles 21:1, Zechariah 3:1-2, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:13, Matthew 16:23)
      12. The people have an increasing capacity to recognize Satan’s work and don’t allow his schemes to cause them to waver from God’s work (Matthew 7:15-20, Proverbs 28:11, John 10:3-5)
      13. They are more concerned with the approval and praise of God and not the approval and praise of men (Galatians 1:6-10, 2 Corinthians 10:17-18)
      14. The congregation gets its identity from their love of God and not the name of their building (John 13:34-35, Matthew 22:35-40)
      15. They share their financial resources generously with those in need and in order to promote God’s program of adding to His Kingdom (2 Corinthians 8:1-7, 9:6-7, Deuteronomy 15:7-15, Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-35)
      16. God’s finances are handled responsibly, reported to the congregation regularly, and are done in an “open” atmosphere (Philippians 4:10-18, 2 Corinthians 8:1-6)
      17. Teachers and other leaders are identified through prayer, information gathering, and careful consideration; not by popularity votes (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Samuel 16:6-7)
      18. There is no congregational uproar over minor issues of preference (1 Timothy 4:1-5, 2 Timothy 2:23, Mark 7:6-8) 
      19. There is no congregational uproar over how people dress other than the biblical mandate of propriety (1 Timothy 4:1-5, 2 Timothy 2:23 Matthew 15:8-9, Mark 7:6-8, 1 Timothy 2:9-10)
      20. Disputes are attempted to be settled biblically through loving dialog and mutual submission; not by gossip (Matthew 18:15-17, 2 Timothy 2:23-26, Romans 1:29)
      21. Leaders are encouraged and supported. New leaders are identified and trained. (Romans 13:1-5, Hebrews 13:7, 17-18, 1 Timothy 3:1-13)
      22. All styles of music which promote God’s Word and bring glory to Him are welcomed (Psalm 150)
      23. Creativity is encouraged and not discouraged (Psalm 20:4, Gen 1:1, 26-27. Exodus 31:1-5)
      24. There is no distinction over “types” of musical instruments that bring praise to God (Psalm 150)
      25. Leaders have private meetings about private matters and the discussions stay private (Proverbs 11:13)
      26. God, the Creator of the Universe, is not portrayed as “old”, “stodgy”, or “boring” but is portrayed as always working, caring, concerned, loving, exciting, interesting, and relevant to every single human life and the rest of His creation (The entirety of Scripture)
      27. While fun is not the ultimate goal of your church, certainly people of all ages can enjoy and have fun while in worship, fellowship, and learning. Worship, while not necessarily a pep rally is certainly not supposed to be a funeral either. (Exodus 15:20, 2 Samuel 6:12-22, Psalm 30:11, 149:1-4, 150:1-6, Luke 15:23-32)
      Crosspointe community church

      Their ministry philosophy is: “All people matter to God”

      Their core beliefs are:

      1. God exists
      2. He matters to us greatly
      3. We matter to Him greatly

      Their core purpose:

      1. To grow in our love for God and one another
      2. To discover God’s design for our lives
      3. To introduce others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ
      4. To mature as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ
      5. To bring God glory in all we do

      Notes: For further reading

      Paul’s Gospel and Caesar’s Empire, N.T. Wright
      Paul and Caesar, A New Reading of Romans, N.T. Wright
      What is The Gospel? (video), N.T. Wright
      N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight and the Gospel: Compared and Contrasted
      Jesus vs. Paul, Scot McKnight
      Jesus, Paul and The Gospels, James D.G. Dunn
      The King Jesus Gospel, Scot McKnight

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