Is the God of the Bible a single-person God like Allah? Was God alone before creating man? Are the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit modes or manifestations of God? Or is the God of the Bible unique among the religions of the world? Do the titles Father and Son and Holy Spirit point to real persons in the one true God?
This short article aims to show that the conversations and transactions between the Father and the Son point to the reality of the mutual existence of the persons in the Godhead. Most of this article is drawn from the writings of “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the Apostle John. More specifically, most of the focus is on Christ’s “high priestly prayer,” the night before going to the cross, which Jesus addressed to his Father in heaven:
ESVJohn 17:1–3 — When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Here the Son makes requests of his Father. He points to their interrelationship, the distinction of persons within the Godhead, and speaks of the mission that his Father has given him to provide eternal life.
As Jesus approaches the cross, he acknowledges to his Father that it is now the hour for him to glorify his Son (v. 1).
The Son will in turn glorify the Father (v. 1).
The Father gave the Son all authority over all flesh (v. 2).
The Father gives people to the Son (v. 2).
The Son gives eternal life to those the Father has given him (v. 2).
These transactions point to real distinctions between the persons. While the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, the Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, and the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. The following is adapted from an ancient digram of the Holy Trinity:
Three Persons, but Only One God
At same time, Jesus underlines that there is only one God, “the only true God” (v. 3). While many other passages make it abundantly clear that Jesus is God (for example, John 1:1, 18; 5:18; 10:30, 33; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1), my purpose here is to show that the Scriptures point to the real interrelational existence “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
These distinctions between the persons are further laid out in the verses which follow:
ESVJohn 17:4–5 —I [the Son] glorified you [the Father] on earth, having accomplished the work that you [the Father] gave me [the Son] to do.And now, Father, glorify me [the Son] in your [the Father’s] own presence with the glory that I [the Son] had with you [the Father] before the world existed.
Four times in those two verses, Jesus distinguishes himself from his Father. The Son glorified the Father on earth. The Father gave the Son work to do. The Son accomplished the work which the Father gave him. The Son asks the Father to glorify him in the Father’s presence even as the Son glorified the Father on earth.
Then Jesus makes the astounding statement that he was with the Father before the world existed:
ESVJohn 17:5 — And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
The Son’s existence is not linked to the world or his mission in the world. He existed before the world existed. He was with the Father before the creation of the world. He shared the Father’s glory. Before “the beginning,” the Father and the Son were in eternal fellowship.
Furthermore, eternal life is inextrincably bound up in a relationship with the Father and with the Son:
ESVJohn 17:3 — And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Jesus here defines eternal life. It is knowing the only true God AND Jesus Christ whom God has sent. It is a knowledge of BOTH the Father AND the Son. The Apostle John emphasizes this truth in his First Epistle when he writes:
ESV1 John 1:3 — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
“Indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
As Christians, our fellowship is not only with the Father, nor is it only with the Son: It is “with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Later in his letter, John points to the grave danger of denying the Son’s real existence:
ESV1 John 2:22–24 — Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
“No one who denies the Son has the Father” (v. 23). To deny the existence of the Son and to deny that Jesus is the Christ, that is the work of the antichrist. The spirit of antichrists—for John says that there are many (1 John 2:18)— is to deny the real existence of “the Father and the Son” (v. 22). Those who deny the Son do not have the Father, but “whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (v. 23). The word “also” like the word “and” in verse 22 shows us that the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father.
John goes on to explain that this is the message that his readers heard from the beginning. If this truth abides in them—and in us—then they and we “will abide in the Son and in the Father” (v. 24). This again shows that our fellowship is with both the Father and with his Son as John said in 1 John 1:3.
The Apostle John insists on this truth in no uncertain terms in his Second Letter:
ESV2 John 9–11 — Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
Apparently some felt that they were more progressive and advanced (v. 9). They went “on ahead” and did not hold to this teaching about Christ being sent into the world by his Father so that through the Son we might have eternal life. They felt that the doctrine or teaching about the Son was not necessary; having God was enough. The Apostle John warns that these progressive teachers who do not hold on to the Son “do not have God.” But “whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” Both… and… Not just the Father, but also the Son.
This teaching is wholly consistent with the teaching of the New Testament that while both the Father and the Son are God, the conversations and transactions between them are not a matter of biblical or literary fiction. They point to the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son.
On virtually every page of the New Testament, we see the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit —the one true God— working together in perfect harmony to bring about the fulfillment of “the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).
ESV John 17:3 — And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Said a young skeptic to an elderly lady, “I once believed in God, but now, since studying philosophy and mathematics, I am convinced that God is but an empty word.”
“Well,” said the lady, “it is true that I have not learned these things, but since you have, can you tell me where this egg comes from?”
“Why, of course, from a hen,” was the reply.
“And where does the hen come from?”
“Why, from an egg.”
Then the lady inquired, “May I ask which existed first, the hen or the egg?”
“The hen, of course,” rejoined the young man.
“Oh, then, a hen must have existed without having come from an egg?”
“Oh, no, I should have said the egg was first.”
“Then I suppose you mean that one egg existed without having come from a hen?”
The young man hesitated : “Well, you see—that is—of course, well, the hen was first!”
“Very well,” said she. “Who made the first hen from which all succeeding eggs and hens have come?”
“What do you mean by all this?” he asked.
“Simply this,” she replied, “I say that He who created the first egg or hen is the One who created the world. You can’t explain the existence even of a hen or an egg without God, and yet you wish me to believe that you can explain the existence of the whole world without Him!”
From Myer Pearlman, Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible
Joy Bible Institute is sorry to announce that former Assemblies of God missionary to Vanuatu, Rev. Wayne Guge, has passed away.
Wayne Guge, beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, and pastor passed peacefully from this life to his eternal reward on May 7, 2021, surrounded by his loved ones.
Wayne Charles Guge was born in Seattle, Washington on March 6, 1937 to Martin and Harda Guge. He spent his childhood years in northwest Iowa on his parents’ vegetable farm. He and his sister would sell vegetables from their wagon around town. The family later returned to Seattle where Wayne spent his teenage years.
In Wayne’s own words, “I was blessed to have been born in a Christian home and to have accepted Christ at the age of five. My first real memory is of going to the altar in a small town church in northwest Iowa. As a teen I had a very deep experience in prayer with the Holy Spirit. From this experience I felt God’s call on my life into ministry, specifically missions.” Wayne graduated from Seattle Bible College in 1960. He earned additional credits from Northwest College (University) of the Assemblies of God in Kirkland, Washington and from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, having received his ministerial ordination in 1967. He met and courted Dora Jean Comnick during his time in college. They married in 1960 and enjoyed sixty-one years as husband and wife.
He served as a youth minister in Kenmore before pioneering a church in Issaquah, Washington in 1964, Issaquah Assembly of God, now known as Eastridge Church. Later they also led churches in Lynnwood and Gleed (Yakima). During his college and early ministry years he also worked in construction learning valuable skills he would later use on the mission field. In 1974 Wayne and Jean were able to fulfill their calling to missions where they accepted an appointment to the Marshall Islands, Micronesia. They established the Marshall Island School of Theology (MIST). In 1979 they moved to the New Hebrides, now Vanuatu, where they completed the building of Joy Bible Institute. He saw the first graduation of students who would return to their islands to preach the gospel. On both fields Wayne used the carpentry skills he had learned to teach and work together with the local population to build the schools.
In 1985 they began missions work in Pohnpei, before Wayne’s health forced him to return stateside. Not willing to allow his health to keep him down, he served consecutively as the pastor for Lincoln City Assembly in Oregon and then Copalis Crossing Assembly, Copalis Crossing, Washington, before pioneering one last church in Ocean Shores, Washington: Shores Fellowship Assembly of God. In between his later stateside ministries, Wayne and Jean started Googies Ice Cream and Candy in Ocean Shores, Washington, which became a must-stop landmark for Ocean Shores tourists for five years. Wayne made the ice cream and fudge from “scratch”. This fulfilled a dream of the family to own an ice cream store called “Googies”. The store continues to run under the name “Murphy’s Ice Cream and Candy”. The store has been in continuous operation for twenty-six years.
Wayne Guge was a dedicated minister, but he was also a man who loved to work with his hands. In addition to building several churches and Bible schools, Wayne also built or remodeled homes for his wife and family. He passed on from the home in Ocean Shores that he had continuously remodeled over twenty years from a small bungalow into a large and beautiful home for his beloved wife. Of course, being who he was, it was always in at least some state of remodel.
Wayne is survived by his wife of sixty-one years, Dora Jean, two children, Phillip Guge (w. Donia) of Hoquiam, and Julia Decker (h. Butch) of Ocean Shores. He was blessed with six grandchildren: Kathryn, Joshua, Ryan, Ben,(w. Ashley), Isaac, Portia as well as two sisters: MaryAnn Johnson (h. Jim) of Boise, Idaho and Sharon Williams of Eagle Point, Oregon, and many nieces and nephews and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother-in-law.
Joy Bible Institute expresses their thankfulness for the ministry of Wayne and Jean Guge. May the God of all comfort be with the family and loved ones.
ESV1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 — But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
“Jesus Christ is THE SAME yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…” (Hebrews 13:8–9, ESV).
“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…”
The writer to the Hebrews tells us in his very first sentence that God’s final word is his Son Jesus Christ.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but IN THESE LAST DAYS HE HAS SPOKEN TO US BY HIS SON, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power…” (Hebrews 1:1–3, ESV).
The message of his letter is that nothing else compares to Jesus. He is God’s final and greatest word. We must cling to Jesus as he is revealed in Scripture.
Then in the last chapter, the writer warns us not to be led astray by different teachings because “Jesus Christ is THE SAME yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8-9).
Don’t look for new revelations. God has revealed himself in the inspired written Word of God:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV).
The following is a suggested sermon outline for Pentecost Sunday (May 23, 2021) written by Pastor Mark Turney, Assemblies of God Missionary in Africa.
Sermon Purpose: To convince believers that they need the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and help prepare them to receive it.
Text: Acts 19:1-12
I. THE PRIORITY OF THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
Paul’s first question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
Question implies it is possible to be a disciple of Christ and yet not have been filled with the Holy Spirit. Salvation and Spirit baptism are separate experiences.
Question also implies that it is a priority for a Christian. Paul wanted to know for sure they had been filled with the Spirit.
This is not the only place in the book of Acts where we see the priority of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Samaria – Acts 8
If you have received Jesus Christ as your savior then you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The early church made it a priority and we should to.
II. THE PURPOSE OF THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT – POWERFUL WITNESS
A. Why was Paul so concerned that these 12 men in Ephesus needed to be filled with the Spirit? Because of God’s purpose in giving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1: 4b-5; 1:8 Jesus’ priority. The disciples should not go anywhere until they received the Holy Spirit because they needed POWER TO BE WITNESSES.
The purpose of the gift of the Spirit was not for personal benefit and blessing. It was to fill their lives with the power of God so that they could serve God and his mission.
B. God has a great purpose for your life. He wants you to live as a powerful witness for him so you must be filled with the Spirit and learn to walk in the power of the Spirit every day of your life.
C. The result that happened when these 12 men in Ephesus were filled with the Holy Spirit.
They were filled with the Spirit and the result was they began to speak in tongues and prophecy under the influence of the Spirit. Vs. 6
But that was not the only result. As a result of the outpouring of the Spirit a powerful witness went forth in that whole region. Acts 19:8-10
D. Paul had a plan to spread the Gospel to all of Asia from Ephesus.
Vs. 9-10 imply that Paul was not the only one preaching and being used by God.
There are several churches in this region of the world that are mentioned in other places in the N.T. that were started during this time of ministry by Paul in Ephesus. (Colosse, Hieropilas, Laodicea)
Paul had a reason for making the Baptism in the Spirit a priority when he went to Ephesus. Because he was planning to reach all of Asia through the witness of Spirit filled believers.
Paul was following the plan that Christ himself gave to the church. Be filled with the Spirit and be a witness.
E. The plan has not changed. God is still calling the men and women of His church to seek the power of his Spirit so that we can BE WITNESSES.
III. THE PREPARATION FOR RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
A. The first step of preparation is repentance from sin.
1. The men in Ephesus had already taken that step. They had heard and accepted the message of John the Baptist which was first of all a call to repent from sin.
B. The second step is faith in Christ as Lord and savior.
These men were called Disciples in vs. 1. At first Paul thought they were disciples of Christ and so he asked them if they had received the Spirit when they believed.
When they answered that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit Paul asked them what Baptism they had received?
When they replied that they had been baptized under John’s Baptism. Paul realized they had only heard the message that prepared people to believe in Jesus Christ. So he explained to them that the one that John the Baptist had come to prepare people for was Jesus.
C. When Paul explained this to them they believed because they had believed John’s message.
1. John the Baptist preached two things. Luke 3:3, 15-16
Repent of your sins so that God will forgive you because the Kingdom of heaven is very close.
He also preached that there was one coming after him who was the lamb of God and would take away the sin of the world. Jn 1:29-31
2. When Paul told them about Jesus they realized this was what John had been preaching about and they put their faith in Christ. Acts 19:5
D. The third step is to believe that Christ will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.
The message of John the Baptist also included the promise that the one who would come after him who was greater than John would baptize people with the Holy Spirit. Luke 3:16
The men believed the message that Jesus was the one that John the Baptist had foretold would come and baptize people with the Holy Spirit. And so it says in vs. 6 “When Paul placed his hands on them the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
The power of God came upon them because they believed. HALLELUJAH.
E. If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ then you are a candidate to receive the Holy Spirit. All you have to do is to believe that this gift of God is for you and ask the Lord to give it to you and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit just like they were.
F. In John 7:37-39 Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.”
How can you prepare to receive the Holy Spirit like these men in Ephesus did? Open your heart to God and believe that this is what you need in your life. Believe that this is what God wants to do for you. Believe and ask God to do it for you.
J. Gary Ellison • Tuesday, 2 March 2021 • JBI Chapel
ESV Ezra 7:1–10 — 1 Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest— 6 this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
7 And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants. 8 And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
We read of Ezra in verse 9 that “the good hand of his God was on him.” I would like that to be true of me. Perhaps it has been said of you. Perhaps you are here at Joy Bible Institute because someone said of you, “The hand of the Lord is on that young man.” Or, “The hand of the Lord is on that young woman.”
In Ezra chapters 6, 7, and 8, we read six times that the hand of the LORD was on Ezra. It will help us to understand what the Lord’s hand of blessing produced in Ezra’s life.
We first learn that Ezra was from a long line of priests, going all the way back to Aaron, but his life did not begin in Israel. Ezra was a child of the exile, born in the Persian empire.
You know the story of Abraham and how God promised to make of him a great nation. But the descendants of Abraham found themselves as slaves in Egypt for 430 years. They were delivered by Moses. This was followed by 40 years in the wilderness, several hundred years under the judges. Then God gave them a king. Three kings, Saul, David, and Solomon, reigned for 120 years.
Then the kingdom was divided between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom last 210 years before God judged them for their idolatry. The kingdom of Judah lasted 325 years. The prophet Jeremiah warned the people that they must repent of their idolatry, but they would not. They trusted in the temple. They claimed that God would not allow His own temple to be destroyed. “Long God yumi stanup!”
But that was not true. God sent the King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylonians to carry the people off to Babylon. Daniel and the three Hebrew, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were taken. Ezekiel was taken. For 70 years Israel was in exile in Babylon. By then, the Persians had conquered the Babylonians. King Cyrus gave permission for the Jews to return, but many stayed.
When we read this passage in Ezra, nearly 80 more years had passed. People like Ezra were born in Babylon, in the Persian Empire. Many were happy to stay in Persia. Ezra had been very successful, rising to a place of great prominence in the administration of King Artaxerxes. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states that he was the “Secretary of State for Jewish Affairs” in the Persian empire. We read in verse 6,
ESV Ezra 7:6 — this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
Back to Jerusalem: Authorization to Lead a Group of Exiles
Chapter 7:11-26 contains a long letter from King Artaxerxes authorizing Ezra to make the journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem. The king sends Ezra with offerings of silver and gold from the king’s treasury. The letter protects Ezra from any taxes and gives him and all those with him free passage to Jerusalem. So Ezra blesses the Lord because His hand was upon him:
ESV Ezra 7:27–28 — Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem, and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
Needed Ministers for the House of God (8:1-21)
Ezra chapter 8 gives details about preparing for the journey. Ezra the scribe was very detail oriented. He made a list of all the families going up with him, but he noticed that there were no Levites.
ESV Ezra 8:15 — I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi.
There were no ministers among those who were to return to Jerusalem! Life had been good in Persia. They had prospered. They had good paying jobs. They had nice homes. Life was good! Why leave? Why go someone else? Why bother?
Why should Ezra leave his position as Secretary of State for Jewish Affairs?
What a contrast between Ezra of the tribe of Levi and the other Levites, the lazy Levites in the land of Persia!
The temptation to live for this world is ever present with us. We get a good education, a good job, and nice house, and that’s what we want. Who cares about Jerusalem? Who cares about the islands? Life is good!
We are always looking for students who have the hand of the Lord on their lives. We look for students who have the call of God on their lives. Students come, telling us that they are called of God. They are recommended by their pastors. But only God knows the heart. Some don’t even finish. Some finish and never go into ministry. Some start in ministry and they find some position in a business or government position. Life is good! Who needs to think about the villages and islands and places where ministers are needed?
Ezra sent some leading men, men of insight to request, “Send us ministers for the house of our God.”
ESV Ezra 8:16–18 — Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight, and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. And by the good hand of our God on us…
258 ministers and temple servants were sent “by the good hand of our God on us.”
Jesus told us to pray for workers:
ESV Matthew 9:37–38 — Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Divine protection on the journey (Ezra 8:22-31)
Then there was the journey. It would take four months to make the journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem. It was a long journey. It was a dangerous journey. They would be carrying much silver and golden. They would be targeted by warring tribes along the way.
Ezra was in a position where he could have asked the king for protection. He could have asked for soldiers and horsemen to protect them, but he was embarrassed.
ESV Ezra 8:21–23 — Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
ESV Ezra 8:31 — Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.
The Hand of the Lord: The Hand of Blessing and Grace
We recognize that the hand of the Lord is upon Ezra to bless him. We recognize that this was the grace of God. It was not earned or merited. It was the grace of God:
The king’s favor
The needed ministers
The safe journey back to Jerusalem
It was all of grace.
John Newton wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace.”
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come: ’tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
You are here because God’s grace has brought you here. You are here because the hand of the Lord has been upon you.
And yet, there is an explanation for God’s grace. Notice 7:9. Verse 9 tells us that they safely arrived in Jerusalem in four months.
ESV Ezra 7:9–10 — For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him.
Verse 9 tells us that the good hand of the Lord was on Ezra. Verse 10 tells us why the good hand of the Lord was on Ezra:
ESV Ezra 7:10 — For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
Notice the word “For”. That word prepares us to understand why God’s gracious hand was upon Ezra. Ezra had set his heart to do three things:
Ezra set his heart…
1. To Study the Law of the LORD.
ESV Ezra 7:10 — 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
We read in verse 6 that Ezra “was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses.”
In verse 12, King Artaxerxes addresses Ezra as “the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven.”
Ezra knew the Scriptures. How is it that he knew the Scriptures? He had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD. He read. He studied. He memorized. He meditated. He was like the man of Psalm 1:
ESV Psalm 1:2 — but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
You see, there are things that a Bible school could never do for you and there are things that God will never do for you. No one can study for you, and God will not read and study the Bible for you. He has given you the Word that you may know Him and know His will.
CSB 1 Peter 2:2 — 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow up into your salvation,
NLT 1 Peter 2:2 — 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,
The desire of his life was to know the Word of God.
He had set his heart to study the Scriptures.
2. To do it.
Second, Ezra had set his heart to do it. “He did not want merely to learn the Bible; he wanted to live it.” He studied the Word in order to put it into practice.
He made it his goal to love the LORD his God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might (Deuteronomy 6:5).
He kept the Ten Commandments.
He searched the Scriptures to know what God expected of him.
He put the Scriptures into practice.
We have courses here at JBI that are designed to help you grow as a Christian. It is not enough to learn about prayer; we must pray. It is not enough to learn about faith; we must exercise our faith. We must apply ourselves to the Word and then apply the Word to ourselves.
ESV Psalm 40:8 — 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
3. To Teach It
Third, Ezra set his heart to teach the Lord’s “statutes and rules in Israel.”
It was not enough for him to study it and to do it; Ezra set his heart to teach the Scripture to others.
But notice where he wanted to teach God’s Word.
Verse 6: “this Ezra went up from Babylonia.”
Verse 8: “And Ezra came to Jerusalem…”
Verse 9: “he began to go up from Babylonia, and… he came to Jerusalem…”
Verse 10: “For Ezra had set his heart… to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
While Ezra was still living in Babylonia, he had set his heart on teaching God’s Word in Israel. He wanted the whole nation to be transformed by the Word of God.
Where do you want to share God’s Word? Some of you will go to new islands, new places. Some of you have come to return to your home island to share the message of God’s salvation.
We find Ezra teaching the Word of God in Nehemiah 8:
ESV Nehemiah 8:1–8 — 1 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
Ezra and the Gospel
There is much that Ezra did not know. He did not know much of what you know about the gospel. He did not know the four Gospels or the books of the New Testament. He did not know the life and teaching of Christ. He did not know much about the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ. He did not know about the eyewitnesses. He did not know how Christ had fulfilled the Law that Ezra had studied so intently. He did not have the epistles of Paul or Peter or James or John.
Jesus said this about the Old Testament saints:
ESV Matthew 13:17 — For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
What would Ezra have given to come to Joy Bible Institute, to sit where you sit, to learn what you are learning? Think of the privilege that we have to open the Word of God! We must follow the example of Ezra in setting our hearts to study, to do, and to share the Word of God with others.
Set Your Heart
Let me encourage you to set your heart. Notice that Ezra set his heart to study, to do, and to teach.
There are a number of passages that point to the importance of setting our hearts to seek the Lord. This is an engagement, a commitment that we must make. If you find it difficult to set you heart to study the Word of God, ask the Lord to give you a heart to study. Jeremiah has this promise:
ESV Jeremiah 24:7 — 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
God can give you a heart like Ezra’s to study, to do, and to share the Word of God with others. Ask him to give you such a heart, then set your heart.
ESV Ezra 7:9–10 — …the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
 Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Ezra (Person). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 757). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Skul yia hem i stat long namba 1 Maj 2021. Plis mifala i askem yu blong yu folem gud ol samting we bambae mifala i talem long pepa ia.
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Fi blong styuden long 2021. Long 2021, mifala i gat trifala tem. Skul fi blong ful yia long styuden we oli slip long skul hem i 139,500 vatu long wan yia. Olgeta we oli AOG we oli slip long skul hem i 123,000 vatu long wan yia from we oli kasem wan skolasip.
Smol tok save: Taem we yu kam rejista long 1 Maj, yu mas pem skul fi blong tem. Sipos yu kam rejista wetem haf mane blong skul fi, skul i alawem yu blong mas pem narafala haf we i stap long six wik nomo. Sipos skul fi hem i 46,500 vatu, yu mas pem 23,250. Afta six wik, yu mas pem narafala haf (23,250). Sipos yu no flatem long six wik ia, bae mifala i sanem yu aot long skul. Sipos yu yu wan styuden blong AOG, skolasip hem i ridyusum skul fi long 41,000 vatu. Yu mas pem 41,000 long 1 Maj, sipos no yu save pem haf olsem 20,500 vatu long 1 Maj mo 20,500 vatu afta six wik. Evri styuden mas pem 20,000 vatu long taem hem i kam rejista.
Smol Tok Save: Mifala i plan blong gat plante textbook. Praes blong olgeta textbook blong wan wan tem em i 10,000 vatu. Mane ia mifala em i putum finis insaed long skul fi blong yu.
Sam samting yu mas save bifo yu kam long Vila.
Yu mas tekem wetem yu naf mane blong pem ol samting olsem pen, pensel, toeletpepa, senta we i blokem smel blong swet, sop blong wasem klos, mo sam narafala samting.
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Ol gel / boe styuden i mas slip insaed long campus.
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Taem yu kasem Vila yu save ringim mifala blong pikimap yu o yu save kasem wan bus blong karem yu i kam long skul campus.
Mifala i prea se God bambae i mekem bigfala samting insaed long laef blong yu taem yu stap wetem mifala. Mifala i glad we yu jusum blong kam long Baebol skul. Mifala i askem yu blong yu kam wetem wan hat we i open blong lisin long toktok blong Masta mo rere blong folem rul mo lisin long olgeta we oli stap lukaotem Baebol skul. Bambae God i blesem yu! Sipos yu gat eni samting blong askem mifala, mifala i askem yu blong ringim mifala long telephone namba 7109983 (Dean of styuden), 7736185 (Principal), 27401 (skul office).
• Term 1 (Mon, 1 March 2021 – Thu, 13 May 2021)
• Term 2 (Mon, 31 May 2021 – Thu, 12 August 2021)
• Term 3 (Mon, 6 September 2021 – Sun, 21 November 2021)
REGISTRATION is Monday, 1 March at 2:00 to 4:00 pm.All students should be present to register. Depending on textbooks, on campus students should expect each term to cost 35,000vt to 40,000vt. Married students living on campus should expect a bit more.
Please come with 20,000vt as your first payment! The balance should be paid during the sixth week of the term.
On July 23, 2020, the students from Joy Bible Institute joined the Victory Parade to celebrate Vanuatu’s 40th anniversary of independence. Their antiphonal calls of “Yumi!… 40!…Yumi!…40!” could be heard as they marched through the streets of Port Vila up to Indpendence Park.
The students carried a banner boldly proclaiming from Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
What a privilege to join in the celebration in recognition of the freedoms and responsibilities incumbent on us as citizens of Vanuatu and even more as citizens of the kingdom of God. “Long God yumi stanap!”