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The Scriptorium

"I am from above"

In which world do you live?

The Gospel of John: John 8.12-30

Read and meditate on John 8.23, 24.
We tend naturally to think of heaven as “above” the earth, and, while that’s not entirely accurate, thinking this way provides a useful frame of reference, as Jesus understood.

               23He said to them, “You from
beneath are; I am from above. I come
not from this world, as you do, for I am
not of this world. 24Therefore, now understand
why I have said that you will perish in
your sins, for you will surely die in sin
if you do believe that I am He.”

- John 8.23, 24

1.  We recall that Jesus was talking with the Pharisees, who were the rulers of the Jews (v. 13), and considered themselves to be at the top of the pecking order in Jerusalem society. How do you suppose Jesus’ statement in verse 23 would have struck them? Why? Complete the following prayer: Lord, we are all beneath You. Today, help me to keep this in mind, so that I…

2.  Beneath, above; this world, not this world. Is heaven located spatially somewhere above us? Why do we typically use this language when thinking or talking about heaven? Is it wrong to do so? Could it be helpful? I know, Lord that heaven is all around us, but when I think of You, exalted in glory, I…

3.  From Jesus’ clarification in verse 23, we might get the impression there are two “worlds.” Is this true? Explain. Lord, because of Your resurrection, and the gift of eternal life, I live in both worlds at the same time, which means…

4.  Jesus said that those who remain in “this world” would die in their sins. Apparently, to avoid that outcome, one must enter that world which is above. How did Jesus say that was possible? How can we know when we have made the transition to the world which is “from above”? Lord, I want to know more of the life of Your world, the world above. So guide me today as I…

5.  Review Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Here he is saying the same thing in a different way. What does it mean to be born from above (“born again”)? Is being born again simply a matter of having one’s sin’s forgiven? Or of going to heaven when you die? Explain. Bring together your prayers from questions 1-4 into one prayer.

“We are those who bear about with us, in this living and moving image of our human nature, the likeness of God. It is a likeness that lives with us, takes counsel with us, associates with us, is a guest with us, feels with us and feels for us. We have become a consecrated offering to God for Christ’s sake. We are the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the peculiar people who once were not a people but are now the people of God. We are those who, according to John, are not of those who are beneath but have learned all from him who came from above; who have come to understand the dispensation of God; who have learned to walk in newness of life.” Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD)

Believing in Jesus is a matter of becoming a whole person, of taking up residency in the whole world and living as new creatures who are oriented in all things to Jesus Christ. How does sin interrupt our experience of living in Christ?

Closing Prayer
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51.2-10

Psalm 51.1-9 (Passion Choral: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Be gracious to me, Savior, according to Your love!
According to Your mercy, my sins, my sins remove!
O wash me, precious Savior, and cleanse me from all sin;
Look on me with Your favor, and cause my grief to end.

Against You only, Savior, have I become unclean;
Thus just the condemnation which You pronounce on me.
Lord, I was born to sinning, while You seek truth within;
To wisdom my heart winning, release me from my sin!

In Jesus’ blood and mercy, Lord, cleanse my evil heart!
Let me washed, cleansed, renewed be and pure in whole and part.
Bring joy again and gladness; look not upon my sin.
Deliver me from sadness; renew me yet again!

T. M. Moore

Jesus is the Centerpiece of all Scripture, as He Himself explained (Jn. 5.39). But how can we learn to see Him there? How do the primary themes of Scripture revolve around Jesus? Our online course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, shows you how best to get at, get into, and get with the Word of God, so that you can grow more consistently in the Lord. It’s free, and you can study at your own pace. For more information or to register, click here.

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We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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