Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Re: Book of John Part One

Grace be unto you,and peace, from God our Father,and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

John begins his Gospel by speaking about the WORD-but he does not explain at first who or what the WORD is. A word is a unit of speech by which we express ourselves to others. But John is not writing about speech but rather about a Person. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God has fully expressed Himself to mankind in the Person of the Lord Jesus. By coming into the world, Christ has perfectly revealed to us what God is like. By dying for us on the cross, He has told us how much God loves us.

Chapter One
In the beginning was the Word. He did not have a beginning Himself, but existed from all eternity. As far as the human mind can go back, the Lord Jesus was there.He never was created.He had no beginning, The Word was with God. He had a separate and distinct personality. e was not just an idea, a thought, or some vague kind of example, but a real Person who lived with God. The Word was God.He not only dwelt with God, but He Himself was God. The Bible teaches that there is one God and that there are three Persons in the Godhead-the Father, the Son,and Holy Spirit. All three of these Person are God.

The life was the light of men. The same One who supplied us with life is also the light of men. He provided the guidance and direction necessary for man. It is one thing to exist,but quite another to know how to live, to know the way to heaven.  The same One who gave us life is the One who provides us with light for the pathway we travel. That was the true light. By His coming into the world as the perfect Man, He has shown how imperfect other men are. When a room is in darkness, you do not see the dust on the furniture. But when the light goes on, the room is seen as it actually is. In that same sense, the shinning of true Light reveals man as he actually is.

The next day after the visit of the Pharisee from Jerusalem, John looked up and saw Jesus coming toward him. "Behold! The Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world! The lamb was a sacrificial animal among the Jews. God had taught his chosen people to slay a lamb and to sprinkle its blood as a sacrifice. The lamb was killed as a substitute and its blood shed so that sins might be forgiven, however, the blood of the lamb slain during the Old Testament period did not put away sin. Those lambs were pictures or types, pointing forward to the fact that God would one day provide a Lamb who would actually take away the sin.

God had revealed to John taht the Messiah wa coming and that when He came, the Spirit would  descend upon Him and stay on Him. Therefore, when this happened to Jesus, John realized that this was the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit is a Person, one of the three Person of the Godhead.He is equal with God the Father and God the Son. On the basis of what he saw at the baptism of Jesus,john testified positively to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God who was foretold as coming into the world.

By faithful preaching, John lost two disciples, but he was glad to see them following Jesus. So we should be more anxious for our friends to follow the Lord than to think highly of us. When a person find Jesus, he usually wants his relatives to meet Him too. Salvation is too good to keep to oneself. So Andrew went quickly to his own brother Simon with thrilling news, "We have found the Messiah!" What an astounding announcement this was! For at least four thousand years, men and waited for the promised Christ, God's ANOINTED One.  Andrew brought his brother to the right  place to the right Person.He did not bring him to the church, the creed, or the clergyman. He brought him to Jesus. What an important act that was! Because of Andrew's interest, Simon later became a great fisher of men, and one of the leading apostles of the Lord.

It never was  Christ's way to demand a full-fledge faith for a beginning. it never was his way to hold men back from discipleship on the ground of an incomplete creed. And quite certainly that is not his way today.He puts Himself alongside his brethren. He bids them attach themselves with the faith that they can offer him. He is content with that as a beginning; and from that He leads his friends on, as he led the first group on, step by step, to the inmost secret of who He is and to the full glory of discipleship.

Chapter Two
 The expression 'what does your concern have to do with me occurs several times in the Bible. It means, what have we in common." The answer is nothing. David uses it twice with respect to his cousins, the son of Zeruiah.How impossible it was for them to have anything in common with him in the spiritual life! Elisha uses it in 2 King 3 to express how deep was the gulf between him and Jehoram the son of Ahab. Three times the demons, by using the same expression, reveal how Satan had nothing in common with Christ, or Christ with Satan. And lastly the Lord used it to the Virgin Mary so to show how impassable is the gulf between His sinless Deity and her sinful humanity, and that only One Voice had authority for His ear.

What should be the attitude the attitude of Christians toward wine today? Wine is sometimes prescribed for medicinal purpose, and this is entirely in according with the teaching of the  New Testament. Regarding its use at the table, Christian ought to act prudently in all situations and in all cultures, seeking before all the glory of the Lord and not the selfish gratification of their own desires.Finally the saints should refrain from any behavior that would cause someone else to stumble. Changing water into wine was a sign, that is, a miracle with a meaning. It was a superhuman act with a  spiritual meaning. These miracles also were designed to show that Jesus was indeed the Christ of God. By performing this sign, He manifested His glory. He revealed to men that He was indeed God-manifest in the flesh.

The Son of God cleansed His Father house. In all ages, God has warned His people against using religious services as a means of getting rich. There was nothing cruel or unjust in any of these actions. Rather, they were simply an indication of His holiness and righteousness. We should remember that the Christian's body is the  temple of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Lord Jesus was  anxious that the temple in Jerusalem be kept pure, so we must be careful that our bodies be turned over to the Lord for continual cleansing.

Many profess to believe in Christ. This does not mean that they actually committed their lives to Him in simple trust, rather, they professed to accept Him. It was similar to the condition which we have in the world where many people claim to be Christians who have never truly been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Although many believed in Him, yet Jesus did not believe in them. He did not commit Himself to them. He realized that they were coming to Him out of curiosity. They were looking for something sensational and spectacular. He had full knowledge of what was in man and why man behaved as he did.

Chapter Three
The story of Nicodemus contrasts with what had just gone before. Many of the Jews in Jerusalem professed to believe in the Lord but He knew their thoughts were not genuine. Nicodemus was and exception.  Jesus recognized  an earnest desire to know the truth.

 Nicodemus was recognized as teacher among his people. Perhaps he came to the Lord for instruction,so that he might return to the Jews with this additional learning. The Bible does not say why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The most obvious explanation is that he would have been embarrassed to be seen going to Jesus,s ince the Lord had by no means accepted by the majority  of the Jewish people. He was like so many today who say that Jesus was a great man, a wonderful teacher, an outstanding example. All of these statements fall very far short of the truth. Jesus was and is God.
The expression born again may also mean "born from above." In other words, Christ's kingdom can only be entered by those whose lives have been changed. Since His reign will be a righteous one, His subjects must be  righteous one also. He could not reign over people who were going on in their sins. Nicodemus insisted on taking everything literally. He could not  understand how a grown-up could be born again. He pondered the physical impossibility of a man entering his mother's womb again in order to be born. In further explanation, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born of water and the Spirit. Many insist that literal water is intended, and that the Lord Jesus spoke of the necessity of baptism for salvation. Throughout the Word of God we read that salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Baptism is intended for those who have already been saved, but not as a means of salvation.
That born of the Spirit is spirit. A spiritual birth takes place when a person trusts in the Lord Jesus When a person is born again through the Spirit, he receives a new nature,and is made fit for the kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus then understood the infallibility of His teaching,and yet man's unbelief concerning it. From all eternity. He had known truthfulness of this and had only taught what He knew and had seen. But Nicodemus and most of the Jews of his day refused to believe His testimony. God so loved the world  The world here includes all mankind, God does not love men's sin or the wicked world system, but He loves people and is not willing that any should perish.
The extent of His love is shown by the fact that He gave His only begotten Son. God has no other Son like the Lord Jesus. It was an expression of His infinite love that He would be willing to give his unique Son for a race of rebel sinners. This does not mean that everyone is saved. A person must receive what Christ has done for him or her before God will give them eternal life. When the church comes to understand the love with which od loved the world, she will be restless and ill at ease, until all the great empires have been captures, until every coral island and been won.
The ministry of John the Baptist. The John referred to in this text is John the Baptist.He was still preaching a message of repentance in the region of Judea and baptizing those Jews with were willing to repent in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. John also was baptizing in Aenon because there was much water there. This does not prove conclusively that he baptized by immersion, but it certainly implies as much, If he baptized by the sprinkling or pouring, there would have been not necessity of having much water. Some of John's disciples became engaged in a dispute with the Jews about purification.What does this mean? Purification here probably refers to baptism. The argument was whether the baptism of John was better than that of Jesus.John reminded his disciples that he had pointed out time an again that he was not the Christ, but was simply sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. The entire object of John's ministry is summarized here: He labored ceaselessly to point men and women to the Lord,and to make them realize His true worth. In doing this, John realized that he must keep himself in the background. For a servant of Christ  to seek to attract attention to himself is really a form of disloyalty.
So today.When people accept the message of the gospel, they take sides with God against themselves and against the rest of mankind. They realize that if God has said something, it must be true.  Whoever believes the testimony of Christ acknowledge that God is true. This is just another way of saying that the testimony of God, and to receive the one is to receive the other also. God does not give the Holy Spirit by measure. Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit of God in a way that was not true of any other person. Others have been conscious of the help of Holy Spirit in their ministry, but no one else ever ahd such a Spirit-filled ministry as the Son of GOD.The prophets received a partial revelation from God but the Spirit revealed in and by Christ the very wisdom, the very heart of God to man with all its infinitude of love.If we receive Him, God gives us eternal life as  free gift.If we reject Him, we will never enjoy everlasting life,and not only so, but God's wrath already hanged over us, ready to fall at any moment.
Chapter Four
By leaving Judea and journeying to Galilee, Jesus would prevent the pharisees from being successful in their efforts to cause divisions. But there is something else of significance  here.Judea was the headquarters of the Jewish religious establishment, whereas Galilee was known as a heavily Gentile region. Sychar was the Old Testament Shechem. The Samaritains had intermarried with Gentiles during the Assyrian captivity. They acknowledge only the Penteuch as Scripture,and around 400 B.C built a temple. The living water refers to the Holy Spirit.
John gives three descriptions of God. He is a Spirit, love,a nd light. God is a spiritual being who is invisible and without a body; He is a divine person who reveals Himself in perfect intellect, emotion,and will; He is the source and personification of all material an spiritual life; He is self-existent; He is eternal in relationship to time; He is the unity of all existence; and He is consistent in His being-that is, He corresponds in actual fact not His nature and attributes as they are revealed to us.
Jesus may have pointed to the multitudes who came from Sychar to see Him because of the testimony of the woman at Jacob's well. At first they believed because of the woman's testimony.But to people of this culture, this was not adequat. They would have to hear for themselves, Jesus acceptance of the woman in her new role shows that He did not share this condescending attitude toward woman.
From this nobleman learned that it was not necessary for the Lord Jesus to be physically present to work a miracle or answer prayer. This should encourage all Christians in their prayer life. We have a mighty God who hear our request and who is able to work out his purposes in any part o the world at any time. God loves to see families untied in Christ. It is not His will that  to have divided families in heaven. He takes care to record the fact that the whole household believed in His Son.
Chapter Five
As chapter five opens, the time had come for one of the Jewish feast. Many believe this was Passover, but it is impossible to be sure. Born into the world as a Jew,and obedient to the laws which God had made for the Jewish people, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the feast.
Around the pool there were five porches or large open spaces capable of holding a number of people. Some Bible teachers think that these five porches represent the Law of Moses and speak of its inability to help man out of his deep trouble. Apparently the pool of Bethesda was known as  a place where miracles of healing occurred.  Surrounding the pool were large number of sick people who had come with the hope of being cured. These people, suffering from the effect of sin in their bodies, were  waiting for the moving of the water.
They lingered around that uncertain, disappointing water, though the Son of God was present. Surely there is a lesson for us in this. The pool thickly populated, and Jesus by unheeded! What a witness  of man religion! Ordinances, with all their complicated machinery, sought after,and the grace of God slighted.
The opposition of the Jews. This incident marks one of the great turning points in the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because He performed this miracle on the Sabbath, He stirred up the anger and hatred of the  Jewish leaders.They began to pursue him and to seek his life. It seems clear that the man sickness had originally come to him as a result of some sin in his life.This is not true of all sickness. Many times illness in  person life has no direct connection with any sin he has committed. Infants, for instance, may be sick before they are old enough to sin knowingly.
Jesus defends His claim to be equal with God. Many people claim to worship God, but deny that Jesus Christ is God. They say that He was a good man or more godlike than any other man who ever lived. But this verse puts Him on an absolute equality with God, and requires that men  should give Him the same honor which they give to God the Father. It is useless to claim a love for God if one does not have the same love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
To hear the word of Jesus means not only to listen to it, but also to receive it, to believe it,and obey it. Many people hear the gospel preached, but do nothing about it. he Lord is saying here that a man must accept His teaching as divine, believe that He is indeed the Savior of the world. Everlasting life is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not  only life that will go on forever, but it is higher quality of life. It is the spiritual life received when a man is born again, in contrast to the natural life which he received at his physical birth.
The lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.Him you shall hear...I will raise up for them a Prophet and put my words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all I command Him. The Lord allusion is, of course, to the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses-the portion of the Bible that has been more savagely attacked than any other; and, strangely enough, the portion which,so far as our records go, the Master quoted more than any other. As if, long before the attacks began, he would set his own imprimatur upon them.
Chapter Six
The expression after these things means that a period of time had elapsed since the events in chapter 5 took place. Just how much time we do not know, but we do know that Jesus had traveled from the area around Jerusalem up to the Sea of Galilee.
Great crowd of people followed him, not necessarily because they believed on Him as the Son of God, but  rather because they saw the miracles which HE had some for those who were diseased. A faith founded on miracles is never as pleasing to God as that which is founded on His Word alone. God Word should not require miracles to verify it. Anything that God  says is true.It cannot possibly be false. That should be enough for anyone.
The Lord was going to teach Philip a very valuable lesson and test his faith. Jesus Himself knew that He would perform a miracle to fed a great crowd of people. But Philip realize that He was able to do this? Was Philip faith great or small? Andrew was Simon Peter brother. They lived in the vicinity of Bethesda, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Andrew also decided that it would be difficult to feed such a throng. He noticed a little boy with five barley loaves and two small fish, but he felt that these would be almost useless in attempting to satisfy the hunger of so many.
In the bread of life discourse, our lord began with fairly simple teaching. But as He progressed, it was apparent that the Jews were rejecting His words. The more they closed their hearts and  minds to the truth, the more difficult his teaching became.  Finally He talked about eating his flesh and drinking His blood. That was too much! They said, this is  a hard saying; who can understand it? and they quit following him. Rejection of the truth results in judicial blindness. Because they would not see, they came to the place where they could not see.
 Chapter Seven
There was a lapse of some months between chapter 6 and 7. Jesus remained in Galilee. He did not want to stay in Judea, which was headquarters for the Jews, because they sought to kill Him.. Feast of Tabernacles: Jesus visit to the feast (Feast of Booth, approximately early October) was debated by his half brothers,about six months prior to the Crucifixion. During this feast, for six consecutive days a procession of priest carried water in golden vessels into the temple area. On the seventh day, the great day, no water was carried.  It was then that Jesus stood and taught of the rivers of living water, an especially significant reference to the Holy Spirit. The advice of Jesus unbelieving half brothers was to go to feast. Mary had other children by Joseph, but they whereas yet unbelievers.
Jesus had probably received the normal synagogue training of Jewish boys, when Jesus was 12 years old at the temple. But He had not attended a school for rabbis in Jerusalem, as Paul did under Gamaliel. Jesus claimed that His ability to teach should prove the divine origin of His message. Obedience will help to determine true doctrines. Unfortunately,most people seek to reverse this order. They want to know more than is necessary before they act. There is no question in the minds of His listeners about His claim, which He made clear to them. But their response is confused and divided. There were three very good reasons for accepting His claim the hesitancy of the rulers to stop Him, the miracles He did,and the excellence of His speaking. However, they found three reasons for rejecting His claim : It was commonly believed that the messiah would coe ina spectacular fashion throne of David and therefore must be a Judean from Bethlehem, the city of David, but they thought Jesus was born in Galilee. The Messiah was to be a defender of the law-yet Jesus seemed indifferent to it by healing on the Sabbath.
Chapter Eight
Women caught in adultery were not normally brought to Jesus. The scribes and Pharisee were seeking to trick Him to see He would uphold the law- or defend the sinner. The eldest left first, admitting they were sinners. Jesus was the only one who could have condemned her- but He did not, partly because such cases demanded two or more witnesses. Also, He knew repentant, which explains why she did not flee when her accusers left. Jesus did not take her sin lightly; rather He commanded her, sin no more Neither do I  condemn: The prerogatives to  forgive sins is a divine one,so in this instance Jesus demonstrates His Deity. Jesus claimed to be the light of the world but the Pharisees disputed his authority because He witnessed to Himself. Jesus said His own witness agreed with the witness of the Father, satisfying the law requirement of two witnesses.
The Jews' spiritual preparation is inadequate. They could not become his disciples because they are of this world they do not believe in Jesus and they do not understand. Jesus identifies the true disciples as those who believe in Him continued in His word, unlike the Jews will be freed from sin  by He truth. They will not be blameless-free from the power of sin. He shows that discipleship depends on having the right Father. They claimed to be sons of Abraham, but Jesus shows this to be false. They are Abraham physical seed, but he is not their spiritual father.  They also claimed to be sons of God, which Jesus shows to be false. When you love the parent, you will not hate the SON .Finally, Jesus says they are sons of the devil, the father of lies, for they were knowingly doing his works.
Abraham saw the promise Christ from a distance. This probably refers to the universal scope of the Abraham covenant. This clear statement of deity caused the Jews  to try to stone him. before Abraham was historical, I am: Abraham had a beginning-Jesus is eternal.
Chapter Nine
he controversy arose during the Feast of Dedication. There was Jewish belief that all suffering was punishment for sin. But how could a person have sinned before birth? The Jews considered human life to begin at conception. Thus, they thought one could theoretically sin even before birth. Light of the world means as long as I am in the world, When he is no longer in the world, then believers become the light of the world. Faith to go and wash in the pool of Siloam is required before the healing. Once again the issue of healing on the Sabbath arises. Surely Jesus healed on other days as well- but John chooses to record healing that dramatize the conflicts between Jesus and the Jews.
The confusion of he Pharisees is shown by  their handling this case in  group,and by heir repeated questions: How did He do it? What do you say of Him? How does he now see? What did He do to you? and Are we blind also? Jesus could not work miracles if He was a sinner as they said. Jesus confirm his deity once again.
Chapter Ten
This text is closely linked with the latter part of chapter 9. There the Lord Jesus had been speaking to the Pharisees,who claimed to be rightful shepherds of the people of Israel. It was to them, in particular,that the Lord Jesus referred.
Door is the one who stood in the opening of the stone fold. The thieves and robbers were the Pharisees. Sheep knows only their own shepherd' voice. In Near East several flocks belonging to different shepherds any be in one fold a fenced in area.But only a shepherd' own sheep will follow him out of the fold. Cattle can be driven, but sheep must be led. Good shepherd when Jesus uses this terminology, thoughtful Jews remember Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd, and even understood Jesus claim to be God. The other sheep are Gentiles who will be saved later. Jesus does more than predicted His crucifixion and resurrection.He also shows hat he has the power to lay down his life and take it up again, once more asserting His deity.
The Jews accused Him of making himself God. He does not deny that in so speaking He made Himself God. But does deny that He blasphemed,and this on a ground that might fully justify Him even in claiming the honors of deity; namely that He was the Messiah , the Son of God, Immanuel. That he Jew did not consider Him as in the least withdrawing His lofty claims, is evident from the continued enmity that was manifested. If I do the work of my Father, then though ye may not be convinced by what I say; be convinced by what I do. Though ye resist the evidence of my words, yield to the evidence of my works. In this way learn to know and believe that I and my Father are indeed one, he in me and I in Him, and that in claiming to be His Son, I speak no blasphemy.
Chapter Eleven
O love, stronger than death! The grave cannot separate Christ and His friends. Other friends accompany us to the brink of the grave,and then they leave us. Neither life nor death can separate from the love of Christ.
This is a marvelous admission. Even our Lord worst enemies confess that our Lord did miracles,and many miracles. Can we doubt that they would  have denied the truth of His miracles, if they cold? But they do not seem to have attempted it. They were many, too public,and too thoroughly witnessed for them to dare to deny them. How, in the face of this fact, modern infidels and skeptics can talk of our Lord  miracles as being impostures and delusions, they would do well to explain! If the Pharisees who lived in our lord time,and who moved heaven and earth to oppose his progress, never dared to dispute the fact that He worked miracles now, absorb to begin denying his miracles now,after eighteen centuries have passed away.
Christianity endangers business, undermines profitable but wicked trades, steal way customers from the devils shrines, attacks vested interests,and turns the world upside down. It is a tiresome, annoying, profit-destroying thing. According to Caiaphas,, the chief priests and Pharisees were wrong in thinking that the Jews would die on account of Jesus. Rather, he predicted that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation.He said that it was better that Jesus would die for the people, rather than that the whole nation. Official orders had gone out from the chief priests and the Pharisees for the arrest of Jesus. Anyone who knew of His whereabouts was commanded to notify the authorities so that they might seize him and put Him to death.

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