Seeing the Invisible

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Romans 8, John 14, Psalms 55
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 8

Seeing the Invisible

  1. 8, John 14, Psalms 55)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: When we think about what we have studied so far regarding suffering, we might get the impression that we are to hunker down, take it, and resist giving up on God. Is there a more positive view of this? Are we empowered by “the invisible” to fight back? Should we refuse to meekly take suffering? Or, should we “grab it by the horns” and throw it to the ground? Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and learn how we can best respond to suffering!

  1. Conquering Suffering
    1. Read Romans 8:28-29. When we consider the suffering of Jesus, did He end up being the victor, the hero? (Read Matthew 28:18. Jesus says after His crucifixion and resurrection that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Him!)
      1. When Romans 8:29 says that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son, does that mean our post-suffering future is very bright? (Yes! Our future is linked to Jesus.)
    2. Read Romans 8:31-32. What is God’s attitude toward us? (If God was willing to give Jesus to provide a future for us, what is He unwilling to give? What a positive message!)
    3. Read Romans 8:33-34. When you think of suffering, is suffering the condemnation of others part of what you have experienced? (Suffering has historically been considered to be the result of sin. Romans tells us Jesus is arguing on our behalf and God justifies us. We do not have to worry about condemnation because we have the best Lawyer and God as our Judge.)
    4. Read Romans 8:35. This verse asks a question, but I think it is a rhetorical question (one which answers itself). What is the suggested answer? (Nothing can separate us from Jesus. As we have discussed, the primary purpose of suffering is that Satan wants to separate us from Jesus. This text tells us that we cannot be involuntarily separated from Jesus.)
    5. Read Romans 8:36-37. Can those two statements exist in the same room? How do we reconcile the idea that we are being slaughtered like cattle and that we are “more than conquerors?” (The way to reconcile them is to say that we are in a battle with evil. Satan and his minions are out to hurt us. But guess what? We are going to do more than beat them. We are better than conquerors!)
    6. Read Romans 8:38-39. Notice that we now have the answer to the rhetorical question found in Romans 8:35. Nothing can force our separation from God. Why would angels want to separate us from God? (These are evil angels. No power of any kind can separate us from the love of God.)
  2. The Promise
    1. Read John 14:1. Do you have a “troubled” heart? If so, what is the solution? (Believing in God and Jesus.)
      1. What, specifically, are we supposed to believe? (We come to that next.)
    2. Read John 14:2. Are you troubled by being promised a “room” instead of a mansion? (Read Revelation 21:16-17. The Bible gives the dimensions of the New Jerusalem. What we find is that the city is a cube - all the sides are the same length! The closest thing we have to compare is a huge condominium - one reaching into space! Describing a condo as “many rooms” seems exactly right. And, what a series of rooms we will have! I imagine them all fronting on the River of Life that flows (down) through the New Jerusalem.)
    3. Read John 14:3. What logical argument is Jesus making to His disciples? (If He is going to go to all of the effort to make us homes, He will certainly come to get us and take us to the place He has prepared. For that reason we should not live with a “troubled” heart. We have a future with Jesus!)
    4. In John 14:5-11 the disciples get into a discussion with Jesus on directions to the New Jerusalem, Jesus’ nature, and Heaven itself. We will skip reading this.
    5. Read John 14:12. What works did Jesus do? Which of His works would you like to do?
      1. When Jesus premises His promise with “Truly, truly,” what does that mean? (Jesus is telling us that the words that follow are extremely important.)
      2. Do you think that Jesus means that we will do more dramatic miracles? Greater healing? More people raised from the dead? Greater teaching?
        1. And, why should our greater works have something to do with Jesus going to the Father?
    6. Let’s jump ahead to answer these last questions. Read John 14:26. What is different since Jesus left? (The Holy Spirit has come to help us.)
      1. How does that help us to do greater things than Jesus? (I don’t think Jesus is saying that the quality of our miracles or teaching is better (how could it be?), but rather the power of the Holy Spirit makes it more universal.)
      2. Let me give a rough parallel. Many decades ago when I taught my Sabbath School class twenty people heard me teach - and then it drained out of their memory. Today tens of thousands are exposed to my teaching because of the universal potential of the Internet. What I teach will last as long as the web site. Jesus’ work was specific to His location. But, the Holy Spirit has the ability to touch every mind at once.
    7. Let’s go back and look at a couple of important texts we skipped over. Read John 14:13-14. Is Jesus promising to give us anything that we request? Is this like the story of the lamp and the genie, except that we can make unlimited requests and not just three?
      1. Let’s examine Jesus’ promise in detail. What does it mean to ask something “in My name?” Do we simply add Jesus’ name to the end of our prayers? (John MacArthur’s commentary provides great insight. He says that our request “should be for [Jesus’] purposes and kingdom, not selfish purposes.” Our request should be based on Jesus’ “merits and not any personal merit.” That is what it means to ask for something in Jesus’ name.)
      2. What does the final phrase, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son” teach us about this promise? (The promise is to give us what we want if it is for the purpose of giving glory to God - not to us. This is unlike the genie story because those requests were all for selfish reasons.)
    8. Read John 14:15. Is Jesus making a unrelated statement? He has been talking about giving us things and now He is off on a different topic, obedience? (I don’t think He is off topic. The purpose of Jesus’ prior promise was to advance the Kingdom of God. We show love to God by obeying Him. It brings glory to Him and to us.)
    9. Read John 14:16-17. Is this related to obedience? (Absolutely! This is our Helper in doing great work to bring glory to God.)
    10. Consider the texts in John that we have just discussed. Are these “hunker down and suffer” texts? (No. These texts tell us what we can aggressively do to promote the Kingdom of God.)
  1. Destroying Suffering
    1. Read Psalms 55:18. Is the psalmist patiently taking a beating? (No. He is in battle against many opponents. The verse speaks of safety for the psalmist.)
    2. Read Psalms 55:19. What will happen to those who want to cause us to suffer? (They will be humbled.)
    3. Read Psalms 55:20-21. Who is causing the problem here? (A companion who speaks graciously, but has war in mind.)
    4. Read Psalms 55:22. What response should we make to those who would create trouble for us? (Cast our burden on God. He will not allow us to be “moved.”)
    5. Read Psalms 55:23. What happens when we cast our burdens on God? (He in turn casts them “into the pit of destruction.”)
    6. Friend, we need to fight against suffering by turning to our invisible God who will destroy our enemies. Will you trust God?
  2. Next week: A Life of Praise.