Winsome Weeding

January 23, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Posted in parables | 2 Comments
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The agricultural principles of sowing, watering, and reaping are commonly used to illustrate evangelism in the Bible. (See Psalm 126:6, Luke 8:4-15, I Corinthians 3:6-9.)

One aspect that tends to be overlooked, though, is the principle of “weeding.” Sometimes the seed of the Gospel can be planted, but thorny weeds tend to choke out growth before strong and true roots can be established.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Matthew 13:7

Jesus warned us not to treat professing brothers and sisters in the faith as though they need to be pulled up and thrown out like weeds masquerading as fruitful plants, even if we suspect they may be false professors, although certainly God knows those who are truly His and will sort them out at the proper time.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Matthew 13:24-30

When it comes to pulling things up by the roots, we need to be mainly focused on our own hearts, because the weed of bitterness can easily spring up before we realize it, and it will serve not only as a an obstacle across our own path, but it will cause others to stumble and fall, as well.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:14-15

So, while we need to exercise great care with those who have heard, and may be considering, the Good News about Jesus and His salvation, there might indeed be a need, along with the need for planting, watering, and harvesting, to do a little weed-pulling in our evangelistic efforts. A diligent farmer checks his field regularly for unwanted weeds which steal nutrients, sunlight, and room to grow from the crop he has planted and watered. In our soulwinning ministry, we need preaching planters, wise waterers, and holy harvesters, but we also need winsome weeders. Be a good friend to those who have heard the Gospel but have not yet believed. Invite them to investigate the Truth of the Bible more closely, answer their questions, and do what the Lord allows you to do to eliminate worldly, sinful, and Satanic distractions while the Holy Spirit does His work.

Get the L out of There!

March 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The “world” is often the Bible’s word for the ungodly system of this world, which opposes Christ and His Kingdom.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

I John 2:15-17

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

I John 4:4-5

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:5

When we are trying to make disciples of Christ, we should, as quickly as possible, try to get those who are showing an interest in the Gospel message out of the “world” and into the Word.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Matthew 13:22

Worldly cares and concerns can crowd the truth of the Bible out of a person’s mind.

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Mark 4:19

However, we must not let the animosity that exists toward the Word in this world keep us from diligently getting out into the world as evangelists and witnesses and missionaries.

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

John 17:6

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:14

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

II Corinthians 5:19

Christ Himself is the Living Word of God, and His mission to reconcile lost and otherwise hopeless sinners to the holy God was and is accomplished by the power of His Word.

Finally, we need to make sure that we keep the “world” out of the Word. The canon of Holy Scripture is closed, and our complete Bible in 66 books is sufficient to show us everything that God wants us to know about Godly living and the plan of redemption in this life. We must not let the transmission of God’s Word in our day be corrupted by faulty modern translations, by extra-Biblical false prophecies such as the Book of Mormon or the NWT Bible used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor by the influence of referential texts of false religions such as the Koran.

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalm 12:6

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 4:2

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Psalm 119:89

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19

Only one little letter makes the difference between “world” and “Word,” but that letter could have an eternal impact. We need to:
1. Get out of the world and get into the Word.
2. Get the Word out into the world.
3. Get the world out of the Word.

Hearts of Stone

November 9, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Matthew, parables | 2 Comments
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In Chapter 13 of Matthew, we see the King teaching His closest followers. The teaching vehicle He chose was that of the parable. These parables were earthly illustrations containing spiritual lessons. They revealed truth to those who had a heart for Christ, and hid truth from those who insisted on hardening their hearts toward Him.

Verses 5 and 6 describe what happens when a person who is planting seeds scatters some of the seeds on stony ground where the soil is too shallow to bear roots:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Matthew 13:5-6

In this parable the soil represents the human heart, and the seed represents the Word of God. When some people hear the Word of God, they have an emotional response to it, and appear briefly to be growing in new life. However, the truth, for these stony-hearted hearers, is that they did not really receive the Word into their hearts, and therefore It was not rooted.

Light in the Bible usually represents truth, but in this parable the sunlight represents the heat of persecution. When someone has a false profession, persecution will cause their shallow emotions to wither, dry, and die. But in the case of the Christian who truly has believed, like the plant with deep roots, the sunlight of persecution will cause growth instead of death.

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that
heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in
himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Matthew 13:20-21

The Intercession of the King

September 25, 2015 at 10:12 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 2 Comments
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Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Matthew 13:45

This parable is known as the “Pearl of Great Price,” not to be confused with a collection of writings by the heretic Joseph Smith, known by the same name and promulgated by he Mormon cult.

The pearl is a gem of unity. Unlike a diamond or emerald, it loses value if cut or carved. Pearls are the product of suffering. They are formed gradually – alone, in the dark, hidden from the world. Then, one day, they are revealed – in glory. It is important to remember that men, apart from the power of God, don’t seek the Savior, and that we can’t purchase salvation. Jesus sought us, and, in a sense, He “sold everything He had” – He gave His all – He died – to purchase His Church.

Matthew Chapter 14 mentions Herod the Tetrarch, also known as Herod Antipas, the son of “Herod the Great” (who had the male children of Bethlehem killed). Herod the Tetrarch had John the Baptist killed under the manipulation of his wife Herodias. When he heard of Jesus, he feared that He might be John the Baptist resurrected, and he was determined to kill Him once and for all.

Notice Christ’s response when He was warned that Herod had put a hit out on Him.

The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Luke 13:31-32

Jesus used the term “fox” as a feminine reference – a way of letting Herod know that Jesus knew that his wife was calling the shots.

There were multitudes following Jesus. During this time He fed 5000 men, plus women and children, by miraculously multiplying five loaves and two fish. The disciples were learning, and they were right where the Lord wanted them to be, right in the center of His will. So it seems like there should have been “smooth sailing.”

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

Matthew 14:22-24

Didn’t Jesus know there would be a storm? Why was He praying? Was He praying that there would not be a storm? Why would He do that when He could just command the waves and wind to be peaceful? No, Jesus was praying for the Disciples to prove their faith in the storm.

He is doing the same thing today. He knows we are in the storm. He sees us. He cares. The storm is for our good. He is praying and interceding for us with the Father.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Romans 8:34

Hearing What the King Says

September 3, 2015 at 11:06 am | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Matthew 12:20

The nation of Israel rejected Jesus during His earthly ministry, but, by making themselves His enemies, they were breaking and burning themselves out without realizing it.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Isaiah 42:1-4

Jesus did not destroy His enemies, the Pharisees, although He had the power to do it easily. He did however, as their true King, address the evil in their hearts.

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

Matthew 12:31

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Matthew 12:35

Words can be evidence of evil in the heart. In this case, Jesus warned of unregenerate evil. There was an ongoing rejection of Him by the people of Israel in Jesus’s time. First they rejected John the Baptist, which was also a rejection of God the Father, since His prophets were His means of revealing truth under the Old Covenant. Second, their rejection of Jesus was a rejection of God the Son. Third, their rejection of the Holy Spirit would be the rejection of the final witness. Today, life-long rejection of Christ (which is the blasphemy of His Spirit) is the only unpardonable sin.

By the time we get to Matthew Chapter 13 we have seen the King’s arrival announced, His background confirmed, His Kingdom described and explained, and His power displayed.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian
Lift up Your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!

Alfred Ackley, “I Serve a Risen Savior”

Now He began to give some secret information to His closest followers. The words “hear” or “heareth” or “heard” or “hearing” are used 21 or 22 times in Matthew 13, as Jesus taught in parables, giving ordinary examples to help us understand an extraordinary Kingdom.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 13:9

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 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. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:13-16

Jesus compared the Word of God to seed that is sown. He compared the human heart to the soil in which it is sown. He compared the heat of persecution to the light that shines down upon the sprouting seed. Sometimes the seed lands in soil that is too shallow. Other times it lands in soil that is too crowded. Other times it does not even land in the soil – it just falls by the wayside. However, sometimes it does land in good soil.

When Satan can’t steal the seed that lands in good soil, he plants imitations of what the seed will become next to the real plants. This changes the symbolism. Now the field is not a picture of the heart. It is a picture of the world. Satan has false professors (tares), a false church (the mustard seed tree), and false doctrine (leaven). He has fake Christians who believe a fake gospel. He promotes a false righteousness. In the Tribulation he will introduce a false christ.

Things New and Old

October 12, 2011 at 11:49 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Matthew | 6 Comments
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Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Matthew 13:51-52

I have read this passage of Scripture so many times, but it still surprises me that the disciples could say “yes” when Jesus asked them if they had understood everything He said. Over 2000 years later we are still studying, but that’s the job of a Bible teacher – to be instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven – to learn from the Bible and to bring out of it treasures both new and old.

We are supposed to be reinforcing the great truths that have been taught since the beginning, but every time they are taught, these “old” truths are new to someone.

Furthermore, we are teaching new and old truths to new and old students. Some Christians are “new” as to their age, and some are “old” in years. Some are “new” to the Christian faith, and some have been Christians for many years. We learn more and more about God every week, and He never gets “old.” Is it possible that your spiritual life has become routine? You attend church. Maybe you pray at home and have devotions at home. Maybe you tithe and live a somewhat holy life. You don’t get drunk or swear or abuse your spouse. You are living on “old” things that you got settled early in your walk with Christ. Old things are good, but they become familiar. Familiarity costs us our sense of “awe.” You are going to lose your sense of awe and excitement about the Bible unless you are willing to take a dare. Take a chance by committing more of your time, talents, resources, effort, and gifts to the Lord. Ask Him to excite you as you as you study His Word. Neither the God of the Word, nor the Word of our God are ever boring or dry. They contain treasures – and few things are more exciting than discovering treasure!

Key Words for Bible Teachers: Treasure

July 27, 2011 at 10:52 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 7 Comments
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As we learned previously, Bible teachers have a responsibility to teach the Truth and to make a “type.”

Treasure: Bible teachers must realize that the Gospel is a valuable treasure which we hold in “trust.”

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

I Timothy 6:20 (emphasis added)

The Word of God is a treasure because of its value. In fact, it’s so valuable that I am not completely sure why God has entrusted it to us. From what I can tell, it somehow serves His glory to see that if He placed it in a weak vessel, the power of the Gospel itself would be seen to come completely from Him, and not the vessel itself.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:7

God could have sent angels to deliver His Word. He could have written it in the sky. But He has given it to us in trust. Something given in trust must be protected, but it also must be put to work so that it “grows,” bears an “increase,” or bears “fruit.” So, as we teach, we must guard the Word of God. We must keep it from being stolen or contaminated. We do this by teaching it to our students as though it were a thing of great value. When you teach, be serious about the Word of God. Show your students how to treat their Bibles, how to read Bible verses, how to memorize Bible verses.

We treat the Word of God as a valuable thing held in trust by guarding it, but also by putting it to work. We will give an account for what we have done with our Master’s treasure. He will not be happy if we just dig it up, dust it off, and say, “Here, I’ve protected it. I didn’t lose it and I didn’t let anyone steal it.” He will say, “But did you invest it? Did you sew it? Did you plant it in hearts? Did you spread it around like seed? Has it earned interest? I trusted you to know that I was the kind of Owner Who let you use My treasure in such a way that it would multiply in spiritual fruit.”

Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

Matthew 13:51

When the Disciples answered affirmatively to Jesus’s question that they understood all those principles that Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of Heaven, do you think they really did?

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Matthew 13:52

A scribe is similar to a teacher. Bible teachers must teach the basic things and new things (things that we find on our own in the Bible – things that are dear to us and are shown to us by God). These “new things” are not “fresh” Words in the sense of being private revelation. They are “fresh” in the sense of being “living” Words, and they are just as applicable today as they were when they were written, but they are new to your students – and maybe even to you.

Bible teachers are to teach Truth. We are to deliver a type of teaching. And we are responsible for a treasure.

Wake Up to the Word

November 24, 2009 at 10:19 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 10 Comments
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Have you ever noticed the disparity among church-goers as they listen to the Word of God being preached aloud? Many times you will see one listening with rapt attention, while another, right next to him, is day-dreaming, or, in some cases, sleeping soundly! In some ways, this mirrors the different spiritual responses to the parables of Christ.

Jesus explained it this way:

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. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 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. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:11-16

Christ’s parables had the power to hide truth and reveal truth at the same time, depending on the condition of the listeners. Let us make sure today that, if the Word of God is becoming hard to understand, or if it seems boring, we allow the Holy Spirit to arrest the process of spiritual blindness, deafness, and hard-heartedness. Just as the truth of the Gospel aroused your interest in becoming born-again, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing you (Colossians 3:16), as you grow in spiritual maturity, and grow closer to God.

Why Parables?

October 26, 2009 at 11:30 am | Posted in Matthew, parables | 10 Comments
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By reading the true historical and inspired accounts of the life of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), you will notice how frequently the Lord taught in parables.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Matthew 13:10

The word “parable” comes from two ancient words: para, meaning “alongside;” and bole, meaning “to throw.” Literally, a “parable” is two different topics thrown alongside each other so they can be compared or contrasted for the purpose of greater enlightenment. In the 21st Century we are guilty of laziness, and our more common forms of the parable are the simile and the metaphor. We may say, “Kay was as mad as a hornet,” or, “Bob is just a couch potato.” These forms of speech sketch a picture, but they pale in comparison to the richness of Bible parables, which not only sketch the outside of a lesson, but vividly paint it in living words.

Christ’s parables are, in a sense, like the keys to a mansion. Mansions look interesting from the outside, but the keys allow us to go inside, spend time, explore, and closely investigate. Jesus invited those whose spiritual sight and hearing were growing dim and dull to become interested and excited, and to examine the things they knew about the world while those things are “thrown alongside” the principles of the Kingdom of God.

When Time Shall Be No More

August 13, 2009 at 7:51 am | Posted in Eternity | 7 Comments
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Our souls were created by God to last forever. Every person who has ever lived will exist for all eternity in either Heaven or Hell. Hell is reserved for those who say “no,” to Him Who said “yes” to the Cross. Heaven will be the home for those whom the Lord has graciously saved from their sins. The thought of hell lasting forever is understandably horrible. But what about Heaven?

Sure, Heaven will be a wonderful place, but, to our finite minds, eternity seems so long. Anything that lasts forever is bound to get boring after a while. But it is not so with Heaven. For in Heaven, those who belong to the Lord will never tire of marveling at His glory, of exploring the endless mysteries and majesties of His Gospel, of fellowshipping with His saints, or with discovering the unending truths of His Word. That’s right, the Bible will be in Heaven. (I Peter 1:25)

When the Lord Jesus asked His disciples, “Have ye understood all these things?” it amazes me that they answered, “Yea, Lord.” (Matthew 13:51) We might excuse them for their enthusiasm, but our understanding of the depth and richness of God’s Word should remind us that every one of us who has been taught from the Scriptures, and would teach others in turn, “is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52) It is always good to remember and repeat the lessons we have learned from the Bible, but we must be constantly digging deeper to bring out the treasures which God has given us from the foundation of the world, but which ever seem new to us.

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