Daily Archives: August 19, 2014

Questions about Parables: What Is the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares?

 

The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, or Tares, is filled with spiritual significance and truth. But, in spite of the clear explanation of the parable that Jesus gave (Matthew 13:36–43), this parable is very often misinterpreted. Many commentaries and sermons have attempted to use this story as an illustration of the condition of the church, noting that there are both true believers (the wheat) and false professors (the weeds) in both the church at large and individual local churches. While this may be true, Jesus distinctly explains that the field is not the church; it is the world (v. 38).

Even if He hadn’t specifically told us the world is the setting of the story, it would still be obvious. The landowner tells the servants not to pull up the weeds in the field, but to leave them until the end of the age. If the field were the church, this command would directly contradict Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18, which tells us how to deal with unrepentant sinners in the church: they are to be put out of the fellowship and treated as unbelievers. Jesus never instructed us to let impenitent sinners remain in our midst until the end of the age. So, Jesus is teaching here about “the kingdom of heaven” (v. 24) in the world.

In the agricultural society of Christ’s time, many farmers depended on the quality of their crops. An enemy sowing weeds would have sabotaged a business. The tares in the parable were likely darnel because that weed, until mature, appears as wheat. Without modern weed killers, what would a wise farmer do in such a dilemma? Instead of tearing out the wheat with the tares, the landowner in this parable wisely waited until the harvest. After harvesting the whole field, the tares could be separated and burned. The wheat would be saved in the barn.

In the explanation of parable, Christ declares that He Himself is the sower. He spreads His redeemed seed, true believers, in the field of the world. Through His grace, these Christians bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–24). Their presence on earth is the reason the “kingdom of heaven” is like the field of the world. When Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17; Mark 3:2), He meant the spiritual realm which exists on earth side by side with the realm of the evil one (1 John 5:19). When the kingdom of heaven comes to its fruition, heaven will be a reality and there will be no “weeds” among the “wheat.” But for now, both good and bad seeds mature in the world.

The enemy in the parable is Satan. In opposition to Jesus Christ, the devil tries to destroy Christ’s work by placing false believers and teachers in the world who lead many astray. One has only to look at the latest televangelist scandal to know the world is filled with professing “Christians” whose ungodly actions bring reproach on the name of Christ. But we are not to pursue such people in an effort to destroy them. For one thing, we don’t know if immature and innocent believers might be injured by our efforts. Further, one has only to look at the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the reign of “Bloody Mary” in England to see the results of men taking upon themselves the responsibility of separating true believers from false, a task reserved for God alone. Instead of requiring these false believers to be rooted out of the world, and possibly hurting immature believers in the process, Christ allows them to remain until His return. At that time, angels will separate the true from false believers.

In addition, we are not to take it upon ourselves to uproot unbelievers because the difference between true and false believers isn’t always obvious. Tares, especially in the early stages of growth, resemble wheat. Likewise, a false believer may resemble a true believer. In Matthew 7:22, Jesus warned that many profess faith but do not know Him. Thus, each person should examine his own relationship with Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). First John is an excellent test of salvation.

Jesus Christ will one day establish true righteousness. After He raptures the true church out of this world, God will pour out His righteous wrath on the world. During that tribulation, He will draw others to saving faith in Jesus Christ. At the end of the tribulation, all unbelievers will be judged for their sin and unbelief; then, they will be removed from God’s presence. True followers of Christ will reign with Him. What a glorious hope for the “wheat”![1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: If a Couple Gets Pregnant before Marriage Do They Have to Get Married?

 

Sex before marriage has become so commonplace in our society, even to the point of being expected, that many professing Christians don’t even consider it to be a sin. Our culture assumes that people do not possess the amount of self-control necessary for abstaining until marriage, so the idea has become unrealistic. God’s Word does not change, however, and the Bible tells us that sex outside of marriage is immoral (Matthew 15:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 6:13, 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3).

Any person who has become a born-again Christian by putting his or her faith and trust in Christ no longer belongs to himself. First Corinthians 6:18–20 (NLT) says, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

Disregarding God’s plan for marriage, sex, and family always results in these kinds of spiritual or physical consequences: grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), guilt, shame, regret, loss of respect for self and others, division in families and between believers, poor role modeling, pain for future spouses, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. God intends for sex to be an intimate expression of love and commitment, to be shared only between a husband and wife. Sex just for the physical pleasure of it damages our spirituality and pulls us away from fellowship with God.

Anyone who has made the mistake of having sex outside of marriage can be forgiven, even if the mistake results in an unplanned pregnancy. First John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.” This does not mean that He will erase the consequences of our actions, but we can be restored spiritually by confessing and repenting from our sins. This means turning away from our sins and making the commitment to love and serve Christ.

There are some cases in which getting married before the baby is born would be wise. If a committed couple who was already planning to get married commits fornication which results in pregnancy, it would probably make it easier for the family and the child to marry before he or she is born. But if an uncommitted couple commits the same sin, getting married will not make them right in God’s eyes. In such a situation, getting married will only set them up for marital failure. The Bible does not instruct people as to whether or not to marry under these circumstances, although both parents are still obligated to support the child emotionally, spiritually and financially.

None of us are made right with God through works. We are saved by faith alone, trusting in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, which lead to death. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God does not want us to try to right our wrongs, but He wants us to give Him our hearts. By laying down our own will and submitting to the sovereignty of God, we can be assured of not only a fulfilling life on earth, but also a place in heaven for eternity.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Bible: What Are the Most Famous/Important Questions in the Bible?

 

There are many, many questions in the Bible. It is difficult to give a precise number because ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek did not use punctuation—we can’t just pull out the Dead Sea Scrolls and count the question marks! Often, it is difficult to know if a sentence is truly intended to be a question. But Bible scholars estimate that there are approximately 3,300 questions in the Bible.

This list of questions in the Bible is definitely not complete. It is simply a survey of some of the most famous and important questions in the Bible.

“Did God really say …?” (Genesis 3:1)

This is the first question in the Bible and also the first instance of someone questioning God’s Word. Satan tempts Eve to doubt God’s Word. Eve responds by adding to God’s Word: “And you must not touch it.” God said do not eat from the tree. He did not say do not touch the tree or its fruit. Adam and Eve respond to Satan’s question by disobeying God’s Word. It was all downhill from there. And it all started with a little question.

“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)

This is the first question asked by God in the Bible. Of course, God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were physically located. The question was for their benefit. God was essentially asking, “You disobeyed me; how is that working out for you? Did things turn out like you wanted or how I predicted?” The question also shows the heart of God, which is the heart of a shepherd seeking out the lost lambs in order to bring them into the fold. Jesus would later come “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

This was Cain’s question in response to God’s question of where Abel was. Beyond the fact that Cain had just murdered his brother, Cain was expressing the feeling we all have when we do not want to care about or look after other people. Are we our brother’s keeper? Yes, we are. Does this mean we have to know where they are and what they are doing 24/7? No. But, we should be invested enough in other people to notice when something seems to be out of place. We should care enough to intervene, if necessary.

“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)

Yes, the Judge of the earth always does right. Abraham asked this question in his appeal to God to spare the righteous and protect them from judgment. If something God does seems unjust, then we are misunderstanding it. When we question God’s justice, it is because our sense of justice is warped. When we say, “I do not understand how a good and just God can allow such-and-such a thing,” it is because we do not correctly understand what it means to be a good and just God. Many people think they have a better understanding of justice than God.

“Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)

The entire book of Job resounds with this question from Job’s wife. Through it all, Job did maintain his integrity. Job’s “friends” repeatedly say, “Job, you must have done something really bad for God to do this to you.” God rebukes Job’s friends for attacking Job and for presuming on God’s sovereign will. Then God rebukes Job by reminding him that only God is perfect in all His ways. Included in God’s presentation of His greatness are many questions: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4).

“If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14, ESV)

Barring the return of Christ in our lifetimes, we will all die someday. Is there life after death? Everyone wonders about this question at some point. Yes, there is life after death, and everyone will experience it. It is simply a matter ofwherewe will exist. Do all paths lead to God? In a way, yes. We will all stand before God after we die (Hebrews 9:27). No matter what path a man takes, hewillmeet God after death. “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” (Psalm 119:9)

The answer: by living according to God’s Word. When we “hide” God’s Word in our hearts, the Word keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:11). The Bible does not tell us everything. It does not contain the answer to every question. But the Bible does tell us everything we need to know to live the Christian life (2 Peter 1:3). God’s Word tells us our purpose and instructs us how to fulfill that purpose. The Bible gives us the means and the end. God’s Word is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8)

The correct answer is spoken by Isaiah: “Here am I. Send me!” Far too often, our answer is, “Here am I—but send someone else.” Isaiah 6:8 is a popular verse to use in connection with international missions. But, in context, God was not asking for someone to travel to the other side of the planet. God was asking for someone to deliver His message to the Israelites. God wanted Isaiah to declare the truth to the people he rubbed shoulders with every day, his own people, his family, his neighbors, his friends.

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)

Forgiveness is tough. Peter’s suggestion of seven-fold forgiveness probably seemed, to him, to be superbly gracious. Jesus’ answer showed how feeble our forgiveness usually is. We are to forgive because God has forgiven us of so much more (Colossians 3:13). We forgive not because a person deserves it. “Deserve” has nothing to do with grace. We forgive because it’s the right thing to do. That person might not deserve our forgiveness, but neither did we deserve God’s, and God forgave us anyway.

“What shall I do then with Jesus?” (Matthew 27:22)

This was Pilate’s question to the crowd gathered at Jesus’ trial. Their answer: “Crucify Him!” Their shout a few days earlier had been different: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9). It is amazing how unfulfilled expectations and a little peer pressure can change public opinion. In first-century Jerusalem, people who had an errant view of Jesus and His mission rejected Him; so, today, people who come to the Christian faith with an errant understanding of who Christ is will eventually turn away. We must make sure we accurately present who Jesus is and what Christianity is all about when we share our faith.

“Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

This question, from Jesus, is one of the most important that a person will ever answer. For most people, He is a good teacher. For some He is a prophet. For others He is a legend. Peter’s answer, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” is the correct answer (Matthew 16:16). C. S. Lewis addresses the issue of the various understandings of who Jesus is in his bookMere Christianity:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36)

If the cost is one’s soul, then whatever is gained—even the whole world—is good for nothing. Sadly, “nothing” is what the vast majority of people strive after—the things of this world. To lose one’s soul has two meanings. First, the more obvious meaning is that one loses his soul for eternity, experiencing eternal death in hell. However, seeking to gain the whole world will also cause you to lose your soul in a different way, during this life. You will never experience the abundant life that is available through Jesus Christ (John 10:10). Solomon gave himself over to pleasure and denied himself nothing, yet he said, “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11).

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18) and “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)

It is interesting to see the very different responses of Jesus and Paul to what was essentially the same question. Jesus, knowing the self-righteous mindset of the rich young ruler, told him to obey the commandments. The man onlythoughthe was righteous; Jesus knew that materialism and greed were preventing the man from truly seeking salvation. The man first needed to understand that he was a sinner in need of a Savior. Paul, recognizing that the Philippian jailer was ready to be saved, declared, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The jailer believed, and his family followed him in accepting Jesus as Savior. So, recognizing where a person is at in his or her spiritual journey can impact how we answer someone’s questions and change the starting point in our presentation of the gospel.

“How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4)

This question came from Nicodemus when Jesus told him that he needed to be born again. People today still misunderstand what being born again means. Most everyone understands that being born again is not a reference to a second physical birth. However, most fail to understand the full implication of the term. Becoming a Christian—becoming born again—is beginning an entirely new life. It is moving from a state of spiritual death to a state of spiritual life (John 5:24). It is becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Being born again is notaddingsomething to your existing life; it is radicallyreplacingyour existing life.

“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1)

We are saved by grace (Ephesians 6:8). When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, all of our sins are forgiven and we are guaranteed eternal life in heaven. Salvation is God’s gift of grace. Does this mean that a Christian can live however he or she wants and still be saved? Yes.Buta true Christian willnotlive “however he or she wants.” A Christian has a new Master and does not serve himself any more. A Christian will grow spiritually, progressively, in the new life God has given him. Grace is not a license to sin. Willful, unrepentant sin in a person’s life makes a mockery of grace and calls into question that person’s salvation (1 John 3:6). Yes, there are times of failure and rebellion in a Christian’s life. And, no, sinless perfection is not possible this side of glory. But the Christian is to live out of gratitude for God’s grace, not take advantage of God’s grace. The balance is found in Jesus’ words to the woman taken in adultery. After refusing to condemn her, He said, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Children of God will face opposition in this world (John 15:18). The devil and his demons oppose us. Many people in the world oppose us. The philosophies, values, and priorities of the world stand against us. In terms of our earthly lives, we can be overcome, defeated, even killed. But, in terms of eternity, God has promised that we will overcome (1 John 5:4). What is the worst thing that could possibly happen to us in this world? Death. For those who are born of God, what happens after death? Eternity in the most glorious place imaginable.

There are many other great questions in the Bible. Questions from seekers, questions from scoffers, questions from discouraged believers, and questions from God. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be ready to accept God’s answer when it comes.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

47 of 73 federal Inspectors General protesting Obama administration obstruction of justice

WINTERY KNIGHT

From the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

In an unprecedented letter, a majority of the federal government’s inspectors general (IGs) claim that the Obama administration is obstructing their investigations into government mismanagement and corruption. So much for President Obama’s claim that his would be the most transparent administration in history.

And it truly IS unprecedented. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says “there has never been a letter even with a dozen IGs complaining” about such obstruction by an administration. The fact that the Justice Department’s IG, Michael Horowitz, also signed on is particularly revealing. After all, it is the duty of senior executive officers like Eric Holder to advise subordinate officials that they are obligated to cooperate with the IGs of their agencies.

On Aug. 5, 47 of the federal government’s 73 inspectors general, many of whom were appointed by President Obama

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In Which Bill Muehlenberg Debunks the ‘God Loves You Just as You Are’ Falsehood

Zwinglius Redivivus

In an essay titled, amusingly, ‘Umm, No He Doesn’t‘ M. writes

Who doesn’t what? God. He doesn’t love people just as they are. In fact, he loves people too much to leave them just as they are. People just as they are are sinners alienated from God and headed for a lost eternity. A God of love could never just sit back and allow that to happen.

That is why Jesus came and died a cruel death on a cross for our sake, so that we don’t have to remain as we are, but we can become what we were meant to be. Yet we have too many clueless wonders, especially in the Christian camp, who think otherwise.

Uh oh.  Bill must not want to be popular.  He’s right though.  From pillar to post.  Especially when he writes

A Christian is a sinner who acknowledges that they are…

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Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [Introduction]

hipandthigh

atheistBack in 2006, during my first full year of blogging, I interacted with an online pamphlet written by an atheist anarchist by the name of Chaz Bufe.

Twenty Reasons to Abandon Christianity

My primary objective was to locate apologetic blog fodder for my new blogging project. That was just around the time when the “new” atheists were beginning to make their presence known on the internet, and Chaz certainly delivered the goods for me. When he wasn’t playing blues guitar at weekend music festivals around Tucson, AZ, he had devoted himself to spreading anarchist propaganda and subversive counter-culture philosophy, which of course is atheistic.

He also fancied himself a “free thinker” and regularly utilized words like “logic” and “reason” despite the fact his atheism can’t really provide a coherent, rational framework to answer life’s big questions like, “where did we come from?” and “where are we going?” as well as explain reality…

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Who were the Jesus Seminar? Should anyone have taken them seriously?

WINTERY KNIGHT

Was having a conversation Sunday evening with the woman I am mentoring and she brought up the Jesus Seminar – a small group of naturalistic, pluralistic academics. Apparently, someone’s child went to college, heard about them, and lost their faith because of their writings. I wanted to find a good article for her on this, and since Dr. William Lane Craig has debated most of the leading scholars in the Jesus seminar, (e.g. – John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Roy Hoover, Gerd Ludemann, Robert Price, John Shelby Spong, etc.), I chose an article by Dr. Craig. I also link to two debates that Dr. Craig did with Jesus Seminar people below.

First a short video (4 minutes):

If you can’t watch anything long, then watch that.

Here is the article, on the Reasonable Faith web site.

Intro:

In 1985 a prominent New Testament scholar named Robert Funk founded a think tank in…

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Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra-which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:10-13 ESV)

“Christians” in the United States and other “civilized” countries do not exist in a climate of a fear of persecution like those in China and India (for now). Some would say that is because of our culture or that there are huge numbers of Christians here. However, the truth of the matter is that Christians who live in total obedience to their…

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