Matt Smethurst: S.W.I.M. Down Deep

June 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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If exploring sin brings you to the deep end of the pool, exploring mercy will take you to the Mariana Trench. And awaiting you at the bottom of the dive is not a black hole but a solid rock.

Matt Smethurst

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Don’t Teach Fables

April 5, 2017 at 11:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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The are various ways to teach Bible stories (which are true, factual, historical events) to children, and various techniques that can be used. This is not going to be a lesson about how to use sock puppets, or how to talk in a funny voice to keep kids’ attention, or how to string out a story over several weeks with carefully designed “cliffhangers,” so they will want to come back each week to find out what happens next. There are people who are far better at those things than I am.

No, this is about the actual teaching of Scripture. Teaching means that you are focusing on what they are actually learning, not just making sure they are having fun or being entertained. Nor am I talking about showing off Bible knowledge, or giving out prizes for participation or accomplishment. I’m talking about actually finding out what God wants us to know about a particular Bible story: Why did God put this in there and command us to read and study it?

Therefore, the first thing to keep in mind when teaching Bible stories to children is: Don’t teach fables. Bible stories are not fables. They are not fairy tales, and their purpose is not always to teach a “moral lesson,” although we usually can glean moral lessons from them.

The problem with avoiding the fable-teaching method in children’s Bible studies is that you will be hard-pressed to find a children’s curriculum or lesson book that DOESN’T use this method. Take the story of Jonah for example.

“Jonah was told by God to go where? Nineveh. But he didn’t want to go there, did he? No. Where did he go instead? To Joppa and then to Tarshish. And when he boarded the ship for Tarshish, what happened? A big storm that resulted in him getting thrown overboard. What do we learn from this? That if you disobey God something bad will happen to you.”

That’s true – as far as it goes – but remember, there are people disobeying God all over the place like crazy, and they seem to be doing fine. Several of them hold the highest government offices in our land! The story of Jonah is not like the boy who cried wolf – he did something bad so he ended up facing the consequences.

Try this instead: “What happened to Jonah when he was thrown overboard? Did he drown? No, God sent a big fish to swallow him up. That’s terrifying, but it turned out to be better than drowning, because he lived in the fish’s belly for how long? Three days… hey, wait a minute… hmmm, that reminds me of someone else who was supposed to be dead, and went down somewhere for three days.”

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Matthew 12:38-41

It turns out that the Holy Spirit, when describing what happened to Jonah, was not really primarily teaching a lesson about the consequences of disobeying God, or even about how God can comfort you when you are scared and alone, or even about how God controls His creation (weather and animals). No, what He was primarily teaching is that we all have disobeyed God, and we deserve to be thrown into the sea to die, and we have absolutely no ability to save ourselves, but God can save us, because He Himself went down into the grave (the “belly of the earth”) and rose again in His Own power. Furthermore, just like Jonah’s testimony of coming back from the dead was the sign that supported his preaching, for us, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is our “proof” that everything that Jesus said about our sin and His salvation is true.

We don’t want our kids to think of a cartoon man and a cartoon whale, and definitely not a cucumber swimming around with a talking tomato.

We want them to think of a real man and a real fish that God used to get people ready to recognize Jesus – the Christ – Who would one day fulfill what Jonah and the whale typified: sin, death, burial, resurrection, and Gospel preaching!

Winsome Weeding

January 23, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, parables | 4 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.

Matthew: Jesus as King

September 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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Matthew the organized tax collector became Matthew the inspired historian, but in the first book of the New Testament there is still an organized structure, as the Holy Spirit inspired him to record facts, followed by a teaching on these facts, followed by a transitional phrase marked by the words, “and it came to pass.” The structure looks like this:

The Facts                   The Lesson                      The Transitional Phrase

Matthew 1-4             Matthew 5-7                     Matthew 7:28

Matthew 8-9            Matthew 9-10                    Matthew 11:1

Matthew 11-12         Matthew 13                        Matthew 13:53

Matthew 14-17        Matthew 18                        Matthew 19:1

Matthew 19-23        Matthew 24-25                  Matthew 26:1

Here are links to posts under the category on the Book of Matthew:

1. Prophecy Fulfilled in a Person (Matthew 1-2)
2. Christ’s Childhood Preparation (Matthew 2)
3. Two Kings (Matthew 2-3)
4. The Victorious Humility of the Last Adam (Matthew 3-4)
5. The Amazing Accomplishment of Fulfilled Righteousness (Matthew 3:13-15)
6. The Relief of being Blessed (Matthew 4-5)
7. The Mountain No One Can Climb Alone (Matthew 5)
8. Matt Smethurst: S.W.I.M. Down Deep (Matthew 5:4)
9. Beware the Foreign Figurehead (Matthew 5:5)
10. Objections to the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 4) (Matthew 5:13)
11. What Can I Do for God? (Matthew 5:16, 19:30)
12. Doctor’s Orders (Matthew 5:18)
13. The Purpose, and the Misuse, of Anger (Matthew 5:21-16, 43)
14. Purity, Prayer, and Possessions (Matthew 5-6)
15. Double Vision, Divided Vision, and Darkened Vision (Matthew 6:22-23)
16. What Exactly Did Jesus Say about Being Judgmental? (Matthew 7)
17. A Show of Power for those Who Wanted More than a Show (Matthew 7-8)
18. When Pigs Fly (a.k.a. Deviled Ham) (Matthew 8:28-34)
19. The Great House Call (Matthew 9:12)
20. Jesus’s Response to Imperfect Faith (Matthew 9)
21. The Rules of War (Matthew 10)
22. Three Things to Bring to Sunday School (Matthew 10:27)
23. Jesus Christ: The Greatest Priest, Prophet, and King (Matthew 11-12)
24. When God Condones Violence (Matthew 11:12) *
25. Are You Struggling? (Matthew 11:12)
26. The Power of the King (Matthew 11:15-20)
27. Hearing What the King Says (Matthew 12-13)
28. Don’t Teach Fables (Matthew 12:38-41)
29. Hearts of Stone (Matthew 13)
30. Why Parables? (Matthew 13:10)
31. Wake Up to the Word (Matthew 13:11-16)
32. Winsome Weeding (Matthew 13)
33. Things New and Old (Matthew 13:51-52)
34. The Intercession of the King (Matthew 13-14)
35. Persistent in Prayer (Matthew 15)
36. Faith that Won’t be Ignored (Matthew 15:22-28)
37. Revealed Truth (Matthew 15-16)
38. A Glimpse of His Glory (Matthew 16-17)
39. Lest We should Offend Them (Matthew 17)
40. The Humble King (Matthew 18)
41. Who Is the Greatest? (Matthew 18:1-4)
42. Decrees on Discipline and Divorce (Matthew 18-19)
43. What Lack I Yet? (Matthew 19:20)
44. The Unwanted Peace, the Unfruitful Tree, and the Underdressed Guest (Matthew 20-22)
45. When the ExaminEE becomes the ExaminER (Matthew 22-23)
46. The Butterfly (Matthew 23:27-28)
47. The Ultimate Confession (Matthew 24-25)
48. The Least (Polite) of These (Matthew 25:42-45)
49. The King’s Trial, Execution, and Victory (Matthew 26-28)
50. Resurrection Witnesses (Matthew 28)

* most-viewed post in category

The Least (Polite) of These

August 31, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Matthew, The Flood | 2 Comments
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There is some debate about exactly to whom Jesus was referring when He emphasized the responsibility of His disciples to minister to “the least of these.” However, most Bible scholars agree that the list He gave was both specific and illustrative, counting as a summation of those who are the most helpless and neglected in worldly society.

As 21st Century Christians we are prone to romanticize the notion of “the least of these” and picture ourselves taking in a doe-eyed orphan with smudged but pudgy cheeks. Or perhaps we see ourselves caring for a kindly old grandfather, abandoned by His Gen-X children who are too busy with their own lives to benefit from his homespun wisdom and sage advice. Jesus did not, however, limit His description of the needy and the outcasts to those to whom we might find it easier – for sentimental reasons – to minister.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Matthew 25:42-45

What our family found out during the recent flooding in our parish, which affected the rich and poor alike, is that the person who comes into your home during a catastrophe, needing food, water, clothing, and shelter, may be the “the most irritating of these.”

He might be a person who makes all his phone calls on speaker-phone, yelling at the top of his lungs and broadcasting the other person’s (who has not been told he’s on speaker) personal business to everyone within earshot.

He might be a person who comes in drenched with sweat, mold, flood water, and Chinese drywall, and, declining your desperate offer of a shower, plops himself right down on your couch pillows and puts his feet up.

He might be a person who is super touchy about everyone else’s failure to appreciate his plight, while also being hypocritically hypercritical of others who are worse off than him.

He might be the person who picks skin off his feet and flicks it on your carpet.

He might be the person who stands uncomfortably close to your wife, peering over her shoulder at the pot she is stirring on the stove while pompously offering suggestions about how to cook green beans to the best green bean cooker in the known world.

He might be the person who would rather sit up til late at night in the living room, spurning the comfortable guest bed you’ve offered him, while belching loudly 56 times in a row in front of your high school aged daughters.

He might be the person who, after four days of living with your family, has still not bothered to learn a single one of their names.

He might be all of these things and more, but, as a servant of the King, it is tough to rationalize away your duty to care for “the least of these” even when the category includes those with the least manners and common courtesy.

Resurrection Witnesses

August 10, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Matthew 28:1

We might ask why were only the women performing this thankless and grief-laden task of caring for the post-Crucifixion body of Jesus. Where were the men? Were they hiding and scared while the women were doing the hard work? We might also ask what these women thought they were going to do about the stone that sealed the entrance to the sepulchre (Mark 16:3). They were carrying perfume and spices to care for a body they weren’t going to be able to access. Perhaps their love and their grief overcame their common sense.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Matthew 28:2

There is a certain humor in the thought of the angel sitting atop the very stone that had been intended to keep the followers of Jesus from getting into the tomb. However, during the night before, there had been nothing humorous to the guards about his appearance.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Matthew 28:3-4

This was a very holy and frightening angel. Roman soldiers weren’t easily frightened by mere men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:5-6

“As He said” was a gentle, though perhaps chiding, rebuke, referring to one of his least palatable prophecies:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 16:21

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

Matthew 17:22-23

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Matthew 20:17-19

 

But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

Matthew 26:32

The testimony of Jesus Himself, the testimony of the angel, and the empty tomb all bore witness to Jesus’s Resurrection.

 

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:7

Note how the angel used the words “from the dead,” reinforcing the truth that Jesus had actually died.

 

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Matthew 28:8

It is a difficult combination to explain, but it is true that fear and joy can go together. God created them both, and there is great joy in having a fear of the Lord. Some of the greatest blessings you will ever experience are when you are facing, and overcoming, a terrifying challenge. The women who saw the empty tomb and heard the words of the angel were afraid, and they ran, but it was not an occasion of “fight or flight.” It was an occasion of “fright and flight.” They ran to bring “word,” and we need to always be running to bring the Word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28:9

Whenever you are running to do something in obedience to Him, no matter how fast you run, He is already there before you. The struggle to exercise patience, and to overcome procrastination, is a battle that almost every Christian fights. Impatience is unbelief when you don’t know God’s will, but procrastination is unbelief when you DO know God’s will.

The Disciples grabbed Jesus’s feet – His physical resurrected body – demonstrating His humanity. They also worshiped Him, demonstrating His Deity.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

Matthew 28:10-12

The soldiers went to the Jewish leaders first. They could have been killed by their Roman authorities for for allowing the body to be stolen. The Jewish leaders bribed them, but they also promised to protect them.

Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

Matthew 28:13-14

Beware of Satan’s techniques. First he plays on your fears. Then he sends someone to help you make up a lie. Then he sweetens the deal with money. Then he gives you a false security and makes you think God will not mind your sin all that much.

So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Matthew 28:15

Each lie that denies the Resurrection has had its day, and come and gone: the swooning lie, the imposter on the Cross lie, the hallucination lie, the conspiracy lie. None are convincing. Only those who hate the Truth can voluntarily blind themselves to it. The Bible bears witness, 500 witnesses saw Him, the martyrdom of the Disciples bears witness, the empty tomb still bears witness, the Church meeting today still bears witness. If they could have produced a body, all of history would be different. Christianity wouldn’t exist. His Spirit bears witness with our spirits. There is more credible evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus than there is for the for the existence of Plato.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Matthew 28:16-18

The King’s Trial, Execution, and Victory

July 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Matthew | 1 Comment
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There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

Matthew 26:7-9

The Disciples accused the woman with the alabaster box of wastefulness, but Jesus defended her. The one who was really guilty of “wastefulness” was Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus called the “son of perdition.” Judas wasted his opportunities, and betrayed his Master. He was not a martyr or an innocent tool of providence. He thought that he could “use” his place in the earthly ministry of Jesus for profit. Remember, things are to be “used;” people are to be “saved.” Things “used up” for the glory of Christ are not “wasted.” The King will be loyal to those who truly worship Him.

In Matthew Chapter 27 the King was placed on trial. The charges were: misleading the nation; forbidding the paying of taxes; and claiming to be king, as shown in Matthew 27:11-26. This third charge is the one that Pilate dealt with because it could have been a threat to the Roman Empire.

Pilate found no fault, because he understood that Jesus was claiming to be King of a Kingdom “not of this world.” However, Pilate chose to yield to the people and not to the true King.

At this point, King Jesus demonstrated His meekness and submission and strength. For His willingness to submit and for the strength that allowed Him to endure this tremendous, indescribable humiliation, we who know Him as Savior shall be eternally giving thanks.

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Matthew 27:42

It was ironic for the people to claim that they would like to have a king who would save himself and not others. That’s how warped their idea of kingship had become.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

27:45-50

Jesus was crucified at what we would consider to be 9:00 a.m. He was on the Cross for three hours until noon. At noon darkness covered the land – not an accidental eclipse or a sandstorm, but a supernaturally produced darkness. Then it was dark for three hours. To the extent such a thing can be said to have occurred in “time,” this is believed to have been the time when Christ was “made sin.”

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

Exodus 10:21-22

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

Psalm 22:1-2

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The King’s victory was yet another proof of His Kingship. In earthly governments, such as the Roman Empire of that time, it is common to see the principles of “realpolitk” and “might makes right,” but with God His might and His right flow from His Divine nature, so that He can never be overcome by, or with, wickedness.

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:1-6

The angel sat upon the rock, bearing witness to the King’s Resurrection, but we bear witness today by standing upon the Rock and speaking forth the truth of Scripture.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

The King commands us to be active, making not just converts, but also making disciples: making learners and doers. We are not called to be, or to make, mere spectators.

The Ultimate Confession

July 5, 2016 at 9:58 am | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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Matthew Chapter 24 explains end-times prophecy concerning Israel. It is talking about Christ’s return after the Tribulation – for Israel – not His return for His Church. At the end of Chapter 24, and on into Chapter 25, the Lord’s discourse changes from Israel to the Church.

There will be loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We have a treasure, which is the Gospel, and we should defend it. However, in defending it, we must not fail to put it to use. Our lights must be kept burning, but they must also be used to shine light.

But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

Matthew 25:18

We live in the period of time between this verse and the next one.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

Matthew 25:19

The faithful servants entered into joy, and their joy was not retirement. It was more service. The unfaithful servant didn’t know who his lord was.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

Matthew 25:24

In his mind he made a lord he wanted to follow and be like. The deceitful leaders of the false charismatic prosperity movement are leading those who want to be deceived. They serve their preachers, not the Lord. They want to be like their preachers and not like the Lord.

We don’t use our talents because the talents are worthy. We use them because the Lord is worthy. He is worthy to be served. He will judge the nations – by judging the individuals who make up the nations. He will judge both the saved and the lost – but in different ways. The saved will yield willingly in acknowledgment of His power. The lost will yield unwillingly when their knees are broken by a rod of iron. The cup of wrath will open their mouths and they will confess Him as Lord. The most pagan ungodly devilish unbeliever knows deep down inside that Jesus Christ is the true King, but he is restraining that truth with all his might. The drinking of the cup of wrath will let the truth out. This confession will not be like a bully twisting a kid’s arm on the playground and making him say “uncle.” The victim is not really the bully’s nephew. The ungodly will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and it will be 100% true.

When the ExaminEE becomes the ExaminER

June 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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Even though He was truly a King, there were times in His earthly ministry when Jesus submitted Himself to examination by inferior and unsuitable examiners. They questioned Him about taxes:

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

Matthew 22:15-17

They questioned Him about relationships:

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

Matthew 22:23-28

This is similar to today. People have access to the revealed will of God, and access to the friendship of His Son, but they would rather know about health, wealth, and relationships. People cultivate relationships with people that they can use – use to get things – because things are what they really love. God made things for using and people for loving, and when we get those reversed we are guilty of idolatry.

Now the King had a question for them:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Matthew 22:41-46

Psalm 110:1 would have answered this question for them about how Jesus could be the Son of David and the Lord of David:

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Psalm 110:1

However, they were blinded by their past, their position, and their pride.

In Matthew 23 we see the King’s last public proclamation before the Cross. It is considered unloving these days to criticize unbiblical ministries, but Jesus was not hesitant about exposing false teachers, nor about denouncing them.

Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Matthew 23:2-3

The Pharisees based their their religion on self-righteousness, but they were not righteous themselves.

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Matthew 23:4

They had a strange idea of “ministry:” adding burdens instead of helping bear burdens.

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

Matthew 23:5

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

Matthew 23:11

The Pharisees thought that they were “great men of God,” but they did not want to serve.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Matthew 23:13

They kept others who were trying to “press in” from entering the Kingdom.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Matthew 23:15

They had a deceitful and dangerous idea of “religion.” They had just enough religion to be dangerous – to use the right words and look the right way without any real conversion. They were like a preschooler who doesn’t really know the answer, but ecstatically waves his hand to be called on anyway: a big commotion with nothing of any value to say.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Matthew 23:27-28

The Pharisees lived for outward appearances, while the inside was vile and dead.

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Matthew 23:33

Jesus referred to their “generation” not as an earthly, genealogical generation, but as the generation of Satan’s “children.”

Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

Matthew 23:32

They were filling up the cup of God’s wrath. Jesus drank the cup of wrath for believers, but unbelievers will be made to drink their own cup.

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

Matthew 23:38

He called it “your house” instead of God’s house because it had been abandoned and left empty.

And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Matthew 21:13

The Unwanted Peace, the Unfruitful Tree, and the Underdressed Guest

June 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Matthew, parables | 2 Comments
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Lord, please help me to be humble. Help me to recognize my lack of knowledge concerning Your Word. Please grant me wisdom and a clear mind ready to be renewed in Your Word. Help us to see Your glory in the Bible’s portrait of Your Son. In His name I pray. Amen.

Jesus is not an accessory or an adornment. If you have Him, you have everything that matters. If you do not have Him, you have nothing.

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

I John 5:12

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:25-28

The Kingdom of King Jesus is not like the kingdoms of this world. There are no worldly leaders in His Kingdom – just servants – servant movers – because the servant’s job in Christ’s Kingdom is to get people moving. Serving in this Kingdom is a commitment which produces character which produces conduct.

In Matthew Chapter 21 another phase of the King’s plan goes into motion. He starts a triumphal parade that would ultimately lead to His Crucifixion. This parade, this “triumph,” would have seemed like a joke to the Romans. An observing Roman centurion would have seen garments on the ground, a donkey, palm branches, and thought, “What victory could they possibly be celebrating? Give me a break! The Roman standard still stands! Pathetic!”

This was the first time Jesus had allowed a public demonstration like this in His honor.

And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Matthew 21:9

Hosanna meant “save now.” The people were rejoicing because they believed the promised Son of David had finally come to bring a military victory, and to throw off the yoke of Roman bondage. This parade would have been a big disappointment to even Jesus’s Jewish followers if they had understood what Jesus’s entry into the city really meant. But it pleased the Father, and it fulfilled prophecy, so it was done according to Christ’s will.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zechariah 9:9

The King declared peace, but Jerusalem declared war.

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:

Deuteronomy 21:10-12

But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

Luke 19:14

Not only did the Jewish rulers reject their King, but the citizens did, too.

Jesus came into the city and judged the Temple. The Temple was thought to be glorious, but there was no real glory in the Temple until the King entered it.

First He judged the Temple, then He judged the nation.

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

Matthew 21:19

This tree had leaves – a superficial show of health – but it had no fruit. It was a picture of the nation of Israel.

Matthew 22 starts off with the parable of the king’s son’s wedding banquet.

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Matthew 22:1-10

This was a prophetic parable. It refers to a time after the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The same leaders that allowed John the Baptist to be killed asked for Jesus to be killed, and killed Stephen themselves. The King whose invitation had been rejected sent armies to destroy those who rejected His Kingship, and to destroy their city. Then he invited others (Gentiles) to come to His feast.

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Acts 7:51

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:11-14

The father/king gave the guests wedding garments – one for each individual – because eternal salvation is personal for each believer. In the Kingdom of Christ there are no “poor” and “rich,” because our standing is not in what we bring, but in Him Whom we have trusted.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the Cross I cling

Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages”

One of the ones invited to the feast didn’t want to wear the garment given by the king. We see this illustrated today in those who are welcome at church, but don’t want to be saved. We sometimes have trouble distinguishing between true converts and false professors, and only the King can recognize the ones who aren’t wearing a garment of Christ’s imputed righteousness. The king in the parable used His servants to “bind” the one without a garment – to discipline and remove him. The servants aren’t the ones who made the decision to throw him into torment. It was the king’s decree. The servants merely “bound” what had already been bound by the King’s sovereign will.

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