1.Think about the lesson’s comparison between John 3:17 and John 5:22. How does this comparison help you approach texts that seem to conflict?
The Bible has been around for many centuries. During that time the critics have been busy pointing out all the seeming contradictions that they can possibly imagine. If someone points out to you something in the Bible that seems to be a contradiction, don’t worry—chances are almost100 percent that it’s been seen before. It’s nothing new. Talk to someone who is spiritually mature to resolve the apparent difficulty. It is appropriate to approach the Bible with the presumption that God can be trusted!
2.How does recognizing that eternal life begins in this world make a practical difference in your life right now?
Believers are sometimes tempted to view this life as a time frame in which non-Christians get the best end of the deal. They may view them-selves as giving up lots of fun over the short haul for the sake of eventual, eternal blessings. At times some Christians even appear to be-grudge the lifestyle of non-Christians, wishing they could live that way but afraid of eternal consequences.
This passage shows that God’s way is the best way to live life right now. As the author and provider of abundant life, He is able to provide both earthly and eternal joy and fulfillment. This awareness helps us live contentedly and confidently in the present as we await the culmination of our hope.
3. How should recognizing that judgment occurs now make a practical difference in your life?
Christians should not fear God’s final judgment as being some kind of “moment of decision” on God’s part. The moment of decision is now! For those saved through Christ, Jesus’ teaching pro-vides a great sense of security and comfort. This should undergird all our daily actions.
For those who are outside of a saving relation-ship with God through Christ, this lesson serves as motivation to make an immediate response.
One cannot hope that the Judge will have a sudden change of heart on the Last Day; the decision already will have been reached as a result of one’s choice for or against Jesus. This verse demonstrates that our eternal standing before God is determined while we are on earth.
4.How does John’s portrait of Jesus as judge provide encouragement to you?
Verses 25-29 serve as a reminder that God gets the ultimate and final word in each and every circumstance, with each and every person. When we become frustrated with the imperfect justice meted out by human judicial authorities, these verses are a comfort. When we become discouraged with our limited awareness of situations and, therefore, with our difficulty in handling situations and people fairly, these verses provide peace.
This section also helps us keep spiritually balanced when non-Christians attack the character of God and the truthfulness of the Scriptures. Though God is patient, His justice will be satisfied and His character vindicated.
5.How can we avoid making mistakes similar to those Jesus’ opponents, who thought they were protecting God’s truth yet actually were violating it?
Let’s face it: we can never be completely certain that our understanding of every Scripture or doctrine is correct. Even so we can put in place certain guard rails that help us avoid deluding ourselves into disobedience.
First, we can regularly engage in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, worship, and service. These help keep our hearts soft toward God. Some errors find their source in hard hearts; excusing disobedience isn’t far behind when that happens.
Second, we can maintain a teachable attitude. Assuming that we have all the right answers can lead to the wrong ones. We may be confident that if the evidence pointed to a certain conclusion the first time, then it will do so the next time. But if information that we hadn’t considered before surfaces, then we should be willing to rethink and reexamine.