Fri, Dec 30th - 10:32AM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
31: Another parable He gave to them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and roost in its branches (13:31-32).
The parable of the Mustard Seed prefigures the rapid but unsubstantial growth
of the mystery form of the kingdom from an insignificant beginning Acts 1:15; 2:41; 1
Corinthians 1:26 to a great place in the earth. The figure of the fowls
finding shelter in the branches is drawn from Daniel
4:20-22. How insecure was such a refuge the context in Daniel shows.
The mustard seed is an unlikely symbol of the church or of individual Christians. Normally, fruit-bearing trees are used to depict believers. Mustard is a condiment and has no food value as such. It's not loaded with vitamins or minerals. It is just good on hot dogs, sausages, and hamburgers.
Despite what some preach, this scripture does not claim that the mustard plant grows into a mighty oak tree. It is an herb and grows to become the largest of them all, large enough that birds are able to roost in it. It also thrives in arid regions.
The mustard seed is called "the least of all seeds." It definitely was the smallest that the people in his audience knew about. When it grew to maturity though, it spread out and up to such an extent that it was rather impressive. However, this parable reveals to us the outward growth of the organized church. The church and the world have become horribly mixed. There has been great integration between the man in the church and the man in the world. There no longer is separation between the two. The Christian ought to be salt in the world and not mustard.
The birds in this parable must be interpreted by the first parable. The birds in all of these parables in Matthew don't speak of anything good, rather, they represent Satan's agents. The birds were the ones who came and took the seed which had fallen by the wayside. Jesus said that they represent our enemy/adversary who is Satan. So today Christendom is a great big mustard tree chock full of nasty birds! Keep that in mind while you converse with other believers from other denominations and other congregations.
33: Another parable He spoke to them; The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (13:33).
This parable is a key in this chapter. The Book of Matthew is the key book of the Bible. Chapter 13 is the key chapter of the Book of Matthew and verse 33 is the key verse of chapter 13.
What does the leaven represent? Some have taught that the leaven is the gospel. They should know better for nowhere in the Bible is leaven used as a principle of good; it is always a principle of wickedness and evil. The word "leaven" occurs 98 times in the entire Bible, 23 times in the New Testament, and it is always used in a bad sense. In the Old Testament it was forbidden to be used in any offering made to God. In the New Testament Christ warned to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Matthew 16:6). The Apostle Paul spoke of the leaven of malice and wickedness (I Corinthians 5:8). Symbolism in the Bible does not contradict itself, leaven is not the Gospel.
The Gospel is represented by the three measures of meal. Why? Because meal is made out of grain or seed, and our Lord already said in the parable of the sower that the seed represents the Word of God. Rather simple, right?
We must remember that this parable is a picture of what happens to the Word of God on earth during the period between Christ's rejection and His future exaltation when He returns to rule in the kingdom. So what happens to the Word of God? The leaven is taken and hidden in the meal. The gospel is not to be hidden at all, it is to be shouted from the rooftops. Evil is taken and hidden within the Word of God, thus altering its Truth. This changes how it is interpreted, how it is applied to a life, and what a person then believes.
What does this "leaven" do? Leaven is a substance, such as yeast, used to produce fermentation. Put into bread dough, it causes it to rise or expand and causes it to taste good. This is why so many people today find a thrill in these cults. Unleavened bread is rather bland tasting as far as the carnal man's taste buds are concerned. A little leaven creates some taste for them. But if the leaven is allowed to finish its process in bread you will end up with nothing which is edible, it will be thoroughly corrupted.
So this short parable teaches us that the invasion of wrong doctrine into the church of Christ will finally lead to total apostasy, or the corruption of God's Truth. As we progress through the remainder of the New Testament we find the warnings which alert us to the fact that this corruption of the Gospel is inevitable (Luke 18:8; II Timothy 4:3; Revelation 3:14-19). For this reason we have been given the model for reproducing accurate converts to Christ, without errors introduced, so that others may also be given God's Word untainted by wickedness.
34: All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and He did not speak to them without it being a parable:
35: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world (13:34-35).
Jesus spoke about things which up to this point in time had been "mysteries." Now they were to be revealed so that mankind would have the option of knowing them. Nothing like this appears in the Old Testament.
That is all for the next to last day of 2011, my friends. Next time we all shall discover what the meaning of the tares in the wheat parable is. Grace and peace be with you all.
Wed, Dec 28th - 8:53AM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
24: Another parable he put forth to them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man which sowed good seed in his field.
25: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way (13:24-25).
Jesus continues on with depicting what the kingdom of heaven is like through another parable. In the first parable He informed us that only one quarter of the "seed" made it onto good ground. The remaining three quarters of "seed" never produced anything because the people who heard the Word of God never responded properly to it. They were not born-again/saved. We see clearly then, only a remnant of professing Christians will be saved and produce fruit in their lives.
But now in this second parable we see another condition, another facet, of the kingdom of heaven as it applies to the present day. The owner of a field went out and sowed good seed in it. This represents Jesus Christ broadcasting the Word of God across our world. Notice who is asleep. While men slept the enemy came. People sleep in this world and our enemy is Satan who comes and sows "tares" among the wheat. The tares are false doctrines, counterfeit versions of Christianity. They contain most of the truth contained in God's Word but leave out key parts of it.
26: But when the plants sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares as well (13:26).
Tares is a kind of darnel. Of the four kinds of darnel, the bearded grows in grain fields and looks very much like wheat and grows to the same height. The seeds are poisonous to man and herbivorous animals causing sleepiness, nausea, convulsions, and even death. Thus it is evident why it is appropriate for use in the parable. What Satan sows out in our world causes all of these spiritual symptoms, but these physical symptoms can also appear in the lives of those people who choose to believe what Satan has placed before them.
Very many of the cults and "isms" out in our world sound very good at first. It is difficult to distinguish them from the real thing until you get well involved in their teachings. Then you become exposed to their false doctrine. It could be such things as Christ is an angel and not God. Or that Christ never truly died upon that cross. Or that the bread and wine during Communion actually become transformed into Christ's flesh and blood. All are false doctrine and not to be believed as truth. It could also be so simple as teaching people that grace is insufficient to saving a person, that they must do good deeds as well, such as bringing a set quota of new converts into the congregation. All of these teachings are false according to the bible and thus expose these groups as sowing tares among the wheat.
So are we expected to go out into world and weed out the tares? Prevent them from growing and crowding out the wheat? Let's see Christ's response within the scope of the parable.
27: So the servants of the householder came and said to Him, Sir, did You not sow good seed in Your field? from where then has it come to have tares?
28: He said to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to Him, Do You wish us to go and gather them up?
29: But He said, No; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them.
30: Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn (13:27-30).
Christ tells them that in waiting for both types of plant to mature they will then be able to discern which one is which. Then they will be able to separate the wheat from the tares. The question then comes to mind: Is our world getting better or getting worse? In one sense it is getting better for the "wheat" is heading up and is ready for harvest into the barn. There perhaps has never been more bible teaching and preaching in our world than there is today. That is a very good thing. But the world is also getting worse because we have all of these tares growing up as well. It will do Christians little good to go around and attempt to pull up the tares which they find for in the process they shall also pull up the wheat as well and then it shall wither and die. A Christian's business is not in pulling up the tares but in tending to the wheat and eventually helping in its harvest.
This is a kingdom of heaven situation in Christendom during this interval between Christ's rejection and His return to establish His kingdom here upon earth. It is not a picture of Christ's church. You may disagree with me at this point and say, "Well, it most certainly is a picture of the organized church!" That much is true, but the organized church is not His church. Remember, only a remnant receives His Word and actually does something proper with it. Christ's universal body of believers are not to be found in any one denomination, they are everywhere. We are not to be disturbed by the fact that the tares are growing in among the wheat, one day the Lord will put His sickle to the fields and then separate out the tares from the wheat. Are we to then ignore the tares? No, we ought to mark them out and avoid them for their fruit is poisonous to us.
That is all for today, beloved. This parable gives us more to ponder and to choose how it applies to our life. Perhaps we are involved with a tare and ought to ask God to prune us off of it and then graft us onto the true vine, Jesus Christ. Perhaps we are wheat but have been extremely involved in identifying and uprooting tares within Christendom. We ought to ask God how He wishes us to treat these false doctrines and still maintain our own holiness.
As people all over the world begin to spend some time reviewing what this past year has involved, perhaps we Christians should spend some time taking stock of how we have behaved. Our conduct speaks volumes as to what we truly believe and it is linked to our character. Have we consistently acted as Jesus Christ has commanded us to? Have we loved all brothers and sisters of Christ unconditionally? Have we exhibited compassion on those in need, those who are without? Have we helped those struck by disaster and opened up our homes in generosity? Have we been spreading the Gospel to all who were willing to listen? Have we been teaching God's Word accurately, reproducing disciples who can then also do the same in turn? I sincerely hope so. It is the mirror I find I must look into in order to discover my shortcomings. Grace and peace be with you this day!
Tue, Dec 27th - 12:53PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
19: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side (13:19).
Here begins Christ's explanation of this important parable. Satan takes away the seed sown by the wayside. This should force each and every church member to examine their heart. The "wayside" soil apparently represents church members, professing Christians. They have heard the Word of God, but it was not heard in faith. Intellectually they know the Word but it has not reached into their heart. To these people Christianity isn't a lifestyle, it is a sideline to their life. Belonging to the church is like belonging to any other lodge or club. It is a means to gaining status within the community, to obtaining access to social contacts for business deals. It is anything but about forming an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words, they remain lost and the Word is stolen away from them. Significant numbers of these people eventually fall away from attending church and end up in cults and other "isms."
20: But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the Word, and immediately receives it with joy;
21: Yet he is not rooted within himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word, by and by he is offended (13:20-21).
These are people with whom the flesh has become a critical issue. They are warm, emotional, shedding tears, and greatly moved. They can have great zeal and energy during meetings, especially as long as things are going their way. They only have an emotional relationship with Christ, it is not rooted in faith and in total trust. They are sort of like "fair weather" followers of Jesus. As long as no persecution and criticism fall upon them because of them being Christians they are happy. But they become offended when criticism arrives on their doorstep.
22: He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the Word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful (13:22).
With these people who hear the Word, the world's cares crowd out the Word of God. All of the amusements and distractions of our world choke out the Word of God and move in. Sometimes it can be poverty and other times it can be the deceitfulness of wealth. Some of the toughest people to reach with God's Word are to be found on either end of our social spectrum: the extremely poor and the very wealthy.
What we must remain aware of here is that these three soil types represent people who have not become believers in Christ. They have heard the Word and have professed to having received it. But the Word has never become engrafted within their hearts, faith has not come to them through the hearing of the Word.
23: But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the Word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (13:23).
Here are those people who have heard God's Word, receive it and understand it. Not all of these people are as fruitful as others, some producing three times as much as others. Do we have an example given to us of this type of person in the Bible?
The Ethiopian eunuch was reading the Word, but he didn't understand it even though he wanted to understand it. Philip was brought across the eunuch's path by the Holy Spirit and proceeded to teach the eunuch what he was lacking in order to be able to understand the Scriptures. Philip explained to him who the Lamb was, who had come to fulfill Isaiah 53, and that one must believe that He had come to pay for his/her sins. The Ethiopian eunuch believed and received Christ, thus opening up God's Word to his understanding.
Philip could be considered to be a sower of the Word. It is a kingdom of heaven situation as it reveals to us that the Sower, Jesus Christ, is sowing the seed of the Word of God out in the world and that the Holy Spirit applies it to the hearts of those people who want to believe.
Recall what Jesus said right after giving this parable? Jesus pointed out that those people who were truly listening, they would be the ones who would come to understand what He was speaking about. The word "parable" comes from the Greek parabole. It was something that measured an object. A ruler could be used as a parable in measuring a table or a length of carpet. Jesus gave parables to measure heavenly truth which he could then set down in front of us. Why did He do this in this fashion?
If a person wants to know the Word of God, can know it. If you really wish to know the truth it can be revealed to you. But if you close your eyes, shut your ears, and close off your heart, then it becomes impossible to know the Word of God. "Broadminded" people are usually closed to understanding God's Word. They don't want to hear that God is compassionate, loving, merciful, and holy; so they close themselves off to hearing the truth. They fail to hear it, and they fail to understand it. They read the Bible like it is any other kind of novel, just a plot line fleshed out with lots of words. To them it will remain this way for they are closed to the parables.
The parable of the Sower shows us a kingdom of heaven condition; it exhibits God's present rulership over the entire earth while He calls out a people to His name. These are the Christians. God carries out His program through the universal church of believers, the called out body, or ekklesia. It is an ongoing activity that is nonstop. It may be proceeding more quickly in one part of our world today than in another but next month it could be vastly different. It is extremely fluid in nature and adjusts to political climates as they change worldwide. No matter what mankind may choose to do, God continues moving forward with His plan of calling out people to join His family, to become members of a new royal priesthood. God continues to pave the way towards the Second Advent of Christ, irregardless of what we may choose to do.
That is all for today beloved. May Christ bless you and keep you through these turbulent times in which we find ourselves.
Wed, Dec 21st - 9:55PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
We can note that chapter thirteen immediately picks up where chapter twelve left off. This chapter will show us that the parables of the kingdom of heaven picture the direction of the kingdom after Israel's rejection of it until Christ the King returns to establish the kingdom of heaven here on earth.
If the Book of Matthew is the door to both the Old and New Testaments, then chapter 13 is the key to the Book of Matthew. Here we are able to gain a better understanding of what the kingdom of heaven is. Some have called it the Mystery Parables Discourse. It is one of three major discourses found in the Book of Matthew.
1) The Sermon on the Mount looks back to the past, it is the law for the land.
2) The Mystery Parables Discourse reveals the condition of the kingdom of heaven in the world during the present age.
3) The Olivet Discourse looks to the future, to the return of Christ as King and the things beyond this current age.
We have already looked at the law for the land and now it is time to answer the question: What will happen to the kingdom of heaven? It was very obvious that Jesus was not establishing it on earth during His first Advent. So what about it now, during this interval between His first and second Advents?
These parables are called mysteries since in the Word of God a mystery is something hidden or secret up to a certain time and then it becomes revealed. The church is a mystery since it was not a matter of revelation in the Old Testament. It was only revealed after Christ's death and resurrection since those events made the church possible.
The kingdom of heaven is not synonymous with the church or vice versa. The kingdom of heaven today is all Christendom (that part of our world which is predominantly Christian). The church is within Christendom but it is not all of it.
What these mystery parables do is give us material covering the entire interval between Christ's rejection by Israel and His return to earth to establish His Millennial Kingship.
1: The same day Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the seaside.
2: And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3: And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went out to sow (13:1-3).
Some things to notice here are the fact that He went out of the house. Physically He went out of the house in which He had been staying, but He also was going outside of the "house of Israel." He went and sat by the seaside, or shore physically. But the sea also represents the Gentile nations as seen in other parts of the Bible. We see the subtle change in Christ's focus from Israel to the greater world. The parable itself indicates a man going out to scatter seed so that it may take root and grow to bear fruit. This begins the revelation of what will take place in the world until He returns as the King of kings.
Christ will present several parables here, but He interprets only two of them. That interpretation provides us with the valuable guide to understanding the symbolism in the other parables. Thus we are able to remain consistent in our interpretation throughout all of these parables. The parable of the sower can be considered therefore to be the foundation for all of the others.
4: And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and quickly they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth;
6: And when the sun came up, they were scorched; and because they did not have root, they withered away and died.
7: And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked them:
8: But other seed fell onto good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold (13:4-8).
Sowing seed was a very familiar sight around Palestine back then. They were broadcast by hand onto crudely cultivated ground. In America today farmers can still be seen sowing seeds during the springtime from Idaho to Florida to Maine. They simply use machines to do the sowing instead of doing it by hand.
In this parable we are presented with several scenarios as to where the seed ended up and what happened to it afterwards. Now Jesus answers the questions His disciples have concerning Him speaking to these huge crowds in parables.
9: Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
10: And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why do You speak unto them in
11: He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12: For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but
whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has.
13: Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing
they hear not, neither do they understand.
14: And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not
15: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and
their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be
converted, and I should heal them.
16: But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
17: For truly I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to
see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things
which you hear, and have not heard them.
18: Therefore hear you the parable of the sower (13:9-18).
Is Christ being exceedingly harsh in His comments about the Israelites' faith condition? Not at all. They had had God's Word given to them for generations, had it taught to them in the Temple and in synagogues. They knew their own history as God's Chosen People. Yet they still did not recognize their own Messiah when He came, and they did not comprehend what they were hearing coming from His mouth. Christ states that it is because they have become so cold spiritually that their hearts no longer can understand what God is saying to them.
Christ also points out to His disciples that the Old Testament righteous men and prophets all diligently sought to "see" and to "hear" these very things which Jesus was about to reveal. King David understood about God being his Rock and his Salvation, but could not know what the church would be nor in what form the Passover Lamb would come in.
Well, that is all for today beloved. Next time we shall discover what this parable is all about and how it applies to us today. The Lamb of God, Shekinah Glory come down from heaven above to provide those who believe in the name of Jesus Christ redemption from their sin. May you stop and remember how He called you from out of the world to Himself, and reconnect emotionally to that reality all over again this Christmas Day. Christ came for you, and for me. Are still coming to Him to serve Him with gladness in our hearts?
Mon, Dec 19th - 9:29PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
50: For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother (12:50).
Christ is declaring that there stand here the members of a family transcending and surviving this of earth:
Filial subjection to the will of My Father in heaven is the indissoluble bond of
union between Me and all its members; and whosoever enters this hallowed circle
becomes to Me brother, and sister, and mother! Blood kin are not elevated above that of Christ. Spouses are not elevated above that of Christ. Doing the will of God qualifies each person to become members of the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. That is the "doorway" through which I am able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now, I used some big words to start with, but Jesus looks at each person in this light. The basic will of God the Father is that I hear Jesus Christ and that I accept Him and completely trust Him. Again, faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God, who is none other than Jesus Christ.
Frequently, those who are nearest to the source of knowledge and grace are most
negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day,
forgetting that tomorrow is not ours, it is not guarenteed. We often meet with obstacles in our
work from friends about us, and are distracted by care for the things of this
life, from the concerns of our souls. Amusements are laid across our paths on a daily basis by Satan, he hoping to trip us up, to trap us into being distracted from doing God's will. Be vigilant! Be alert! Do not fall asleep spiritually! Stay in touch with your Christian brethren more than with unsaved family members for they are looking out for your best interests in service of God.
That is all for now, beloved. Grace and peace be with you all in this run up to Christmas! Be at peace with yourselves, with your family, and with your neighbors both near and far.
Sun, Dec 18th - 1:33PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
It has occurred to me that through my travails with PC issues, that I lost one segment of my blog message in this study. I will insert it here at this time (12/22/11) and pray that you do not become confused or lost in following along.
34: O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
35: A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings out good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings out evil things.
36: But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment.
37: For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned (12:34-37).
John the Baptist had already called the Israelites a generation of vipers. Here comes the same judgment once again. Jesus Christ lays out the logical outcome of belief upon words and conduct. If your beliefs are evil in your heart then nothing good can come from out of your mouth. We are informed here of the fact that everyone shall be held accountable of what they have said during their entire lifetime, before the judgment seat of Christ. What we say shall either justify our behavior or else it shall condemn it. There shall be no way to "pull the wool over the eyes" of God by being untruthful during judgment. God is able to see into the hearts of each person and know what their true motives have been. What has been kept hidden from others shall be made manifest during the time of judgment so that all may see clearly.
38: Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from You.
39: But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall be no sign given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40: For as Jonah was in the whale's belly three days and nights; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41: The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.
42: The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and , behold, a greater than Solomon is here (12:38-42).
These scribes and Pharisees weren't actually looking for any signs nor of any miracles from Jesus. They were trying to set Him up. But Jesus easily deflected their intentions, and He scathingly rebuked them with their own history. The prophet Jonah had refused to go to Nineveh to preach God's Word to them as commanded by God. So he got to spend some alone time inside of a great fish for three days. After being spat upon the shore, Jonah decided that he might as well go and preach to those distasteful Ninevites. The results were that a great revival took place within their hearts and masses of people repented of their sinful living and turned back to loving and serving God. Jesus informed these crafty religious rulers that those same Ninevites would judge them and find them lacking. The queen of the south who had come to listen to the wisdom of Solomon would rise up in judgment of that generation as well. Jesus pointedly reminded them that as impressive as those two men of God had been and as mindful of their words as people had been, someone extremely greater than either of them was right here before them in the flesh! God was in their presence, speaking to them, and they refused to listen and to believe! Just as Jonah had been brought out of darkness and certain death back into the light of day, so too, Jesus would go into the darkness of death in the grave only to return to the light of day as the Savior of all mankind. Jonah's experience was a foreshadowing of the coming crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
The queen of Sheba had traveled very, very, far to hear the words of Solomon. Christ had come all the way from heaven to man, and these people would not listen and come to Him even though He was so very close to them.
This scenario continues to replay itself over and over throughout the centuries since Christ's resurrection. Christ offers to mankind the Holy Spirit, who will dwell within each person, if they will but listen to what He has said in the past. But people ignore His words in preference to listening to what other people have said, or are saying. As close as God is to us in our world, He might just as well be on the moon for all that we choose to not listen to His Word.
VALUELESS REFORMATION OF THE INNER MAN
43: When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
44: Then he says, I will return into my house from where I came out; and when he is come, he finds it empty, swept, and garnished.
45: Then he goes, and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also to this wicked generation (12:43-45).
This is one of the most profound and startling parables given by God to us. Here we are given the example of a man who had an unclean spirit; and the unclean spirit leaves him. The man believes that he is all cleaned up, he has turned over a "new leaf." His New Year's resolution has come true! Not! So what happens to this man?
The original unclean spirit is thoroughly unhappy with where he must dwell outside of the man, revisits the man and discovers nothing there to prevent him from returning to dwell in the man. So he goes and finds seven other unclean spirits, worse than himself, to come with him into the man. In other words, reformation is worthless outside of Christ Jesus. We can stop doing many, many things but it does not have the means to become permanent. I can quit drinking but what have I put in its place in my life? What is present within me to stop a return to drinking? If everyone stopped sinning right now, there would not be any more Christians in the next minute or in the next day, because quitting sin doesn't make Christians. Reformation is not a solution to our problematic conduct.
The hardest people today are the unsaved church members because they believe they are all right with God. They have undergone self-reformation: empty, swept, and garnished. They are like a vacant house, and all of the evil spirits are able to move right on in unopposed. Satan owns them and they are not even aware of the fact. Reformation means death and destruction. Regeneration, on the other hand, means life and liberty.
The final section of this chapter is even more startling. Christ reveals to mankind that there is a relationship that is greater by far than that of mother and son and even blood brothers. The greater relationship is that which is established with God through Jesus Christ by having faith in Him.
46: While He yet talked to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood without, desiring to speak with Him.
47: Then one said to Him, Behold, Your mother and Your brethren stand outside, desiring to speak with You.
48: But He answered and said to him that told Him, Who is My mother? and who are My brethren?
49: And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold My mother and my brethren (12:46-49)!
Christ Jesus is saying that the strongest relationship is that between Christ and a believer. If I am a child of God and I have unsaved family members, I am closer to Christ than I am to my own kin. I am more closely related to other believers in Christ than I am to unsaved family members. Too many believers fail to understand this simple fact of Christian life. Jesus wanted everyone to clearly understand that He was creating a brand new family, one which would be solely composed of those who genuinely believed in Christ by faith.
That is all for today beloved. My apologies for being absent from this blog recently. I was experiencing PC problems and only yesterday got them resolved. Praise God for guiding my efforts to keep my 8 year old PC up and running! Grace and peace be with you all as you prepare for Christmas celebrations at home or on the road.
Wed, Dec 14th - 12:04PM
Why Celebrate Christmas?
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1-3)."
Christmas is a time of gift-giving and receiving. It is a time for families to come back together to experience fellowship and comradeship, to reconnect with one another. It is also a growing time to make financial gain through retail selling of products that beckon to personal wants and desires. The commercial aspect of the holiday is rapidly overtaking, and overshadowing, the spiritual nature of Christmas. What is the "spiritual aspect" of Christmas?
Here in the first three verses of the Gospel of John we find the declaration of exactly who Christ Jesus was. Christ being the Logos, the Word, is God and is the Creator God. At the beginning Christ was not made manifest in human flesh, He was purely a Spiritual Being who was involved in making the universe what it is today.
It is remarkable how many names and titles are associated with Jesus Christ (meaning "anointed Savior") in the first chapter of John's gospel. In verse nine, He is called "the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world." He is "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" in verse fourteen, and "the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father" in verse eighteen. John the Baptist called Him "the Lord" in verse twenty-three, "the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world" in verse twenty-nine, and "the Son of God" in verse thirty-four. The disciples then called Him "Master" in verse thirty-eight and "Messiah" in verse forty-one, as well as "Jesus of Nazareth" in verse forty-five. Nathanael acknowledged Him as "King of Israel" in verse forty-nine, and Jesus called Himself "the Son of man" in verse fifty-one.
But the very first title given to Jesus by John was simply "the Word." This comes from a word hard to translate in its fullness. In the New Testament it is rendered by "word", "reason," "communication," "doctrine," "speech," and many others besides. This reveals to us that Christ is always the One who reveals, speaks for, manifests, explains, and incarnates the Heavenly Father.
John 1:1 even takes us back before Genesis 1:1, where we learn that the pre-incarnate Christ created all things. It tells us that Christ can not be a created thing for He is the one who created everything. Outside of Christ nothing could be made. Psalm 33:6 reinforces this concept by declaring that by the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the heavenly hosts that make it their abode. As the eternal, omnipotent Word of God, Christ spoke all things into existence. Jesus Christ then chose to come into our world manifested in human flesh, in order to reveal to mankind the Father's mercy and grace towards them.
It is this advent into our world by Christ that fuels the celebration of peace on earth and goodwill towards all men at the end of every calendar year. Did Jesus actually come into our world at this specific time of year? No, most likely not. Scriptures firmly indicate that His birth probably happened sometime during late September or early October before winter temperatures arrived. This conclusion is arrived at due to the presence of shepherds and their flocks of sheep still being up in the hills at His birth. It is also supported by the timeline of John the Baptist's conception and birth, which ran about six months earlier than that of Christ Jesus.
So we have chosen a day in December to celebrate the birth of all Hope for mankind, to celebrate the coming of Light into this dark world, and to also proclaim the Way to forgiveness, justification, sanctification, and eternal life. What better time of year to celebrate the source of all spiritual light than when the darkness of night is at its longest? So this Christmas season lift your voice and hands up to heaven as you sing hymns of praise for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Rededicate your heart to service to the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, and the Prince of Peace. Reaffirm your journey with the Holy Spirit at this time, deepen your walk with Christ and enter in to a more intimate fellowship with God in this coming year. You will never regret doing so!
Grace and peace adorn your heart and your mind. Walk in reconciliation and peacefulness. Greet all of the brethren of Christ in love and generosity.
Thu, Dec 8th - 8:55PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
22: Then was brought to Him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, to the point where he could both speak and see.
23: And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David (12:22-23)?"
"Is this not the son of David?" In other words, "Isn't this our Messiah?" It was a tremendous miracle for Him to perform in front of all of these people. As great a one as raising the dead back to life. This was not just a healing of physical problems, it was the casting out of a demon which lead to physical healing. I am not saying that all of the physical problems that people suffer from today are the direct result of being possessed by demons. Only some are caused by demons. Some of the people who suffer through dire mental health problems are possessed by demons. Medical science simply can't solve their problems, can't even begin to figure out why they suffer the way they do. Science's stance is that given enough time it will figure out what is wrong with them and fix it. My stance is that there are some things which science can't solve nor can it fix them, no matter how much time it is given to do research. Star Trek, Star Wars, and Star Gate are all excellent fictional pieces of work, however, they are exactly that: fictional. Doctors can't give life back to those who have been dead for days. Doctors can't give us a pill that will rejuvenate our failing kidney. Doctors can't use robotic surgeons to mass produce new nerves, tissue, and organs while repairing damage to the human body. We simply are incapable of manipulating genetic material to such an extent. But Jesus Christ walked around for three and a half years doing just these sorts of things before large crowds. People who were lifelong cripples and did not know how to walk,suddenly got up and walked. People who had been blind suddenly could see. Those who had never heard a single sound their entire lives were miraculously speaking and responding to those around them. Lepers were completely healed of that awful disease that kills nerve endings and allows injuries to the body to go unnoticed. It had to have been an extremely exciting time for the crowds. It was also an extremely infuriating time for the Pharisees.
24: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
25: And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
26: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall his kingdom stand then?
27: And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out: therefore they shall be your judges (12:24-27).
Here is the very beginning of the question concerning unpardonable sins. We need to follow this discussion very closely in order to properly understand what is being pointed out. The Pharisees did not deny that Jesus was performing miracles among all of the people. What they attempted to do was to paint Jesus as being in league with Satan. Jesus pointed out quite logically how any kingdom that is divided against itself is destined to fall into ruin. It does not matter whether it is a marriage, a family, a town, a state, a nation, or even an empire. If not in unity with itself it will in time tear itself apart from the inside out. As a note, this is what is beginning to happen to America. Can't be defeated from external attack, but can be consumed by societal decay from within.
Jesus boldly points out in verse 27 that these Pharisees' children were going about in the name of Jesus and casting out demons; did they actually wish to claim that their own children were doing this in the name of Satan? Of course not.
28: But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you (12:28).
Logic dictates the conclusion. If they accept that Christ performs all of these miracles by the Spirit of Jehovah, then they must accept that the kingdom of God has come to them and that Christ is the long awaited Messiah. Christ is declaring His credentials before the Pharisees, there can be no doubt in what He is proclaiming to them.
29: Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
30: He that is not with Me is against Me; and He that gathers not with Me scatters abroad.
31: Therefore I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men.
32: And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come (12:29-32).
Jesus speaks of Satan being the "strong man," that He has now entered into Satan's "house" and has come to bind him. It is openly declared that anyone who is not with Christ Jesus is plainly against Him instead. So if I choose to not believe that Christ is God and came to redeem me from my sins by sacrificing Himself in my place upon that cross, then I have effectively declared myself to be against Him and His church.
But interestingly we also see here that to speak against Christ or God the Father is something that is sinful but it is still forgiveable. Not to suggest, even remotely, that forgiveness is provided universally to such people. I maintain that if an unbelieving person actively sins against Christ today he/she still has the potential to be forgiven tomorrow if repentance is genuine.
The forgiveness "line" is drawn before anyone who chooses to speak against God's Holy Spirit however. The Holy Spirit came into this world to make real the salvation of Christ to the hearts of all men. Resist the working of the Spirit of God when He speaks to you and there is to be absolutely no forgiveness. There is to be none because you have rejected salvation made real to you by His Holy Spirit. It is the work of the Holy Spirit of God to regenerate you.
This matter of unpardonable sin is amplified over in Mark 3. What Christ is telling them, and us, is that by claiming He did all of these miracles through the power of Beelzebub the Pharisees were rejecting the witness of Himself and of the Holy Spirit, that He did these things through the power of God.
Now, is this matter of unpardonable sin still with us today? Good question. Since Jesus is not here on earth today no one can reject His personal witness to them. But, if I resist the Holy Spirit of God there will be no forgiveness because He is bringing forgiveness to me. It is like the person who is dying from a curable form of cancer, their doctor informs them that there is a remedy for it. They refuse to accept the remedy and so they die a horrible death. Did they actually die from the disease, or from refusing to take the remedy? There is a remedy for the disease of sin, the Holy Spirit brings it and applies it; but if I resist Him, there can be no remedy for me. I believe that is the way sin can be unpardonable today.
That is all for today beloved. Next time we shall see how important it is to not just talk without thinking. Once the words come out of our mouths we can't ever retrieve them and put them back in! More than once I warned my children to beware what they chose to say to their mother and myself for once they said it they would be held accountable for it. Anger invites us to always say those things which seemingly ought to equalize a situation in which we have been humiliated, emotionally hurt, rejected, or made fun of. But the quick response in anger usually creates more problems than it ever solves. All of our choices have consequences, all of them.
Live holy lives beloved and seek out the face of God each day. Seek Him early and you will find Him and He will speak to you. Ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you, seek and you shall find. It is as simple and as difficult as that. It is something which requires effort and passion and faith. I wish you Godspeed in your faith journey.
Mon, Dec 5th - 7:38PM
STUDY IN HEBREWS
14: Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him.
15: But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from there: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all (12:14-15).
Here is the break between the religious rulers and Jesus Christ. The Pharisees chose to stand against God, and to figure out how they might destroy Him. Can you clearly see their arrogance? Can you clearly see how they felt that they would be able to seize control of the situation?
Up to this time the Pharisees had cautiously "hitched" their wagon to Christ's rising star and hoped to be carried along with Him to greater power. But Jesus steadfastly refused to bend to their will and obediently did the will of Jehovah. So the religious rulers did not simply decide to discredit Him, or to shame Him into silence, they chose to destroy Him completely. It was premeditated on their part to kill Him. Nothing accidental about it, no means to declare insanity. And the break was over the question of the Sabbath day, and it lead to open conflict. The Pharisees became bloodhounds, seeking to run Christ to ground and end His life so that they would no longer be offended by His teaching, by His behavior, and by His words. They became agents of hate and began their plot to kill Him.
Christ knew what was in their hearts and left the vicinity to avoid arrest for it was not yet time for Him to be arrested and crucified. Until the appointed time arrives these Pharisees can't so much as touch Jesus. What is then extremely interesting is that Jesus withdrew from the religious rulers, but He did not go into hiding. He went and was followed by multitudes of people who sought to be healed by Him. Guess what? Jesus did not shy away from healing anyone. We are told that He healed them all, no one went home without being healed. Did Jesus make a definitive statement to the Pharisees by doing this? You betcha! "No matter what you may attempt to do to Me, I will continue to do My Father's work." Jesus made it impossible to do anything except either accept or reject Him; He left no room to sit on the fence.
Jesus Christ remains controversial today. Our adversary is still out to discredit Him, to mislead people about Him, to mislabel Him. Works of so-called art, movies, novels, and videos, all seek to blaspheme His holy name and character. Today, you are either His friend or His enemy. He is either your Savior or your Judge. You can attempt to ignore Him, but you can't get rid of Him. Just like the Pharisees: they could not debate Him and they could not get rid of Him.
16: And charged them that they should not make Him known.
17: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
18: Behold My servant, whom I have chosen; My beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the Gentiles.
19: He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets.
20: A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send out judgment unto victory.
21: And in His name shall the Gentiles trust (12:16-21).
Christ did come to this earth to primarily be a wonder worker. He came to present His credentials as the Messiah, and to seek out that which was lost. Mankind was lost. The Messiah was rejected. However, He remained steadfast on the course which lead to the cross upon Calgary. His miracles caused excessive crowds of people to gather around Him, and just as He had already known, He altered His ministry to accomodate this fact.
We find here confirmation that Jesus Christ will most certainly bind up all those "reeds" who will let Him do so. "The smoking flax" is each person who continues to reject Him and ultimately must then face Judgment in the lake of fire. Christ did not come to quench the slow burning already taking place in those who staunchly stand in opposition to Him and His church.
In our present time there is a definite moving out toward both the fulfillment of prophecy in general and the fulfillment of prophecy concerning us Gentiles. We Gentiles are to be saved by grace. Christ Jesus's rejection by His own people led to His gracious offer of salvation to all of the Gentiles. In the Book of Acts we find Paul being commissioned to be a missionary to the Gentiles: "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me (Acts 26:18)." What's more, this movement among the Gentile nations is to further turn full circle over the course of time and center once more upon the Israelites during the End Times.
That is all for today beloved, for next time I will look at the question of "the unpardonable sin." I hope you return to join me in studying God's Word. May Christ bless you deeply and abundantly!
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