Friday, December 29, 2017

74 - A Treasured Life is a Waste

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 
For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of Me shall find it. 
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give as an exchange for his soul? 
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will render to each according to his works. 
Assuredly I say to you, there are some standing here who will by no means taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Mat. 16:24-28.

Christ, our example

If anyone desires to come after Me.  The choice belongs to the human. Jehovah's act of predestination will not decide for anyone whether or not he or she will follow Christ. 

Let him deny himself; Some in the church have taught that if we will follow Christ we must give up all pleasures; deny ourselves everything except the barest essentials to stay alive. If we do that we become useless in this life and probably not fit for the next.

That Christ enjoyed some of the pleasures of life is shown by the fact that he enjoyed the companionship of friends; both male and female.  He enjoyed going to public affairs, and while there, being of some service.  He enjoyed eating and drinking so well that those that hated Him even accused Him of being a glutton and a tippler.

As society changes, so do the pleasures of life.  Christ never needed to ask Himself "what may I watch on TV" but, in this situation, we can always ask ourselves, "What would Jesus watch?"  It is safe to surmise that the shows He would watch would not include violence or blasphemy!

let him ... take up his cross, and follow Me.  For some who take a stand for Christ, the situation may arise where they are publicly shamed, tortured or even killed.  To them, Christ says, follow my example.

Death to Self is Essential

whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of Me shall find it.  This is the irony of life.  If we hang on to what we have we cannot go any further but to the extent that we give ourselves in the service to others we ourselves find a new reason to live.

Christ said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24.   Without dying to our own selfish desires we will never bear the fruit of service to others and consequently never attain our potential.  Our pastors have taught us that in order to follow Christ we must learn religious words and know when to say them; Christ's idea of true Christianity was much more "hands-on".

Here is an interesting biological fact: Before a crawling caterpillar can become a gorgeous butterfly the caterpillar in the cacoon must completely change into a soupy mess.  To all appearances, it has become totally and forever wasted.  However, out of that seemingly deranged mess emerges a butterfly which can still remember exactly on which milkweed it began as a butterfly one generation ago.  The point of the story: death to self-precedes a beautiful life.

what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?  If you insist that you will spend your life getting rich, maybe you will or maybe you won't, but in the end, you will have wasted your life for short-range indulgences.

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels. This is a promise that Christ made many times and the Christian church is looking forward to that event in spite of the fact that it is then that He will render to each according to his works.  Notice again that Christ did not say that we will be rewarded for having the right "statement of faith" or for attending church regularly.   He said that we would be "paid" according to our works.

Will Some Disciples not Die?

there are some standing here who will by no means taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.  As is usual, in almost all aspects of Bible study, there are a number of different opinions as to what it means:
  1. This refers to Christ's Transfiguration which is the very next episode recorded in the Book of Matthew.  In that story, three of His disciples saw Him in His kingdom.  Guzik holds this theory.  This, however, does not seem like the right interpretation, one reason being, none of His disciples died before that happened but Christ had indicated that some would.                                                                                                       
  2.  Some say that this happened when Rome destroyed Jerusalem.   And as an emblem of this, there are some here who shall live to see the Messiah coming to set up his mediatorial kingdom, with great power and glory, by the increase of his Church, and the destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews. [John Wesley]  The old covenant: slaughtering animals as sacrifices, worship in the temple, etc, all came to an end and, with the Jewish religion out of the way, the New Covenant, The Church, could take its place. 

  3. The reference, beyond doubt, is to the firm establishment and victorious progress, in the lifetime of some then present, of that new kingdom of Christ, which was destined to work the greatest of all changes on this earth, and be the grand pledge of His final coming in glory. [JFB]   According to this theory this new kingdom would have started on the Day of Pentecost when the spirit of God descended on the earliest Christians and the Church was born.  It did spread rapidly, for a little while, before the last of the disciples had passed away.
Throughout our studies, we have seen that Christ preached the Gospel of the kingdom, here it is surmised that that kingdom is found in the people who decide to accept Christ as their Redeemer; He is the King of that kingdom.  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you." Luke 17:21.  Or, as the KJV has it, the kingdom of God is within you
From Biblical history, we know that Judas was dead before the day of Pentecost.

Friday, December 22, 2017

73 A - The Perfect Gift

Christ's Conception

There are at least three different theories concerning the immaculate conception of Christ.  This, of course, excludes those theories that say the story is based on lies, or that Mary was not aware of, or did not admit, her past activities. 

1. The word used for the first theory is parthenogenesisthis is simply the Greek way of saying virgin birth

This theory simply states that a female body has all the chemicals needed to produce a child by itself.  "So, while it is possible for a human baby to be born of a virgin mother, it's very, very unlikely..."  The writer placed the likelihood of that happening at much less than one in a billion. [From the blog: "Slate", written by Melinda Wenner Mayer.]

If many of the lower species can and do conceive Parthenogenetically, I don't think it's too shocking to assume that humans can too. Based on this fact alone I can't imagine why scientists are not more curious like they were over a hundred years ago when the famous biologist, Jacques Loeb realized that: "The male is not necessary for reproduction. A simple physio-chemical agent in the female is enough to bring it about. [From, PARTHENOGENESIS: women’s long-lost ability to self-conceive by Den Poitras]  For more on this topic, I recommend his blog.

Theologians have, ever since the days of Saint Paul, argued that sin entered the human race through Adam, not through Eve.  He wrote, Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world. Rom. 5:12.  Eve was deceived, and so, not at fault, but Adam knew what he was doing, therefore he is to blame.  Isn't it reasonable then, to argue that if a child is born of a virgin, that child would not be burdened with all the negative aspects imparted by a sinful human father?

2. The teaching that the church has held for about twenty centuries.   The holy spirit came upon the virgin, Mary, and she became pregnant.  Mary asked the visiting angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!” The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. Luke 1:33-35

That teaching leads us directly into the third theory I am presenting here.

3. The idea that the gods had offspring with human women is a recurring thought in ancient writings.  It is found in Greek mythology, in Babylonian and Egyptian writings as well as in the Bible.  When the sons of the gods had sexual intercourse with the daughters of men, the Bible tells us, their offspring were mighty men of renown. Gen. 6:4.  mighty man of renown is not what Jehovah wanted when Christ was born.  He must have a perfect human being.   

He had made a deal with Satan; simply stated, the deal said, either a perfect human must pay the ransom price for the mortal race or none of mankind will have a chance at eternal ecstasy.  Jesus Christ is both a perfect human and the Son of God and so He could fulfil all the requirements laid down by Satan.

The God of the Jews, Jehovah, decided that Mary was a fit candidate to be the mother of Christ.  The Lord, having chosen the young woman from among the Jewish people, sent an angel, whose name was Gabriel.  

It is totally believable that Mary became pregnant through artificial insemination, an act performed by the angel.  In this way, Christ was, in fact, the Son of Jehovah and the son of human lineage.  From reading the story of the conception and birth of Christ, in the Bible, it is easy to arrive at the aforementioned conclusion.

The Magi are Guided

What if you knew what stars looked like but didn't know what an airplane was? What would you call the airplane lights? ... Now, if I were to tell you that last night I saw a set of flashing stars that moved across the sky, what would you say? Would you agree that they were stars, or would you tell me that I really saw an airplane?

... Remember, the wise men knew what stars were, but probably didn't know what UFOs were: 


At the time that Christ was born, as was normal, there were shepherds looking after their sheep, out in the fields.  At night, while they were watching their flocks, the light from a UFO shone all around them.  The shepherds were afraid of the spacecraft, so one of the Lord’s robots came closer to them and said, do not be afraid, this UFO has not come to hurt you. I bring you good news of great joy, which will come to all people. Luke 2:10

Here, suddenly, a new stage is set.  The focal point is no longer, The Lord of Israel.  The new theme is, peace on earth; great joy shall be to all people (nations), for Jesus, the Lord of Peace, is not a national god as were the gods of the UFOs.  He is the Son of Jehovah, who later will pay the penalty required by Satan, the god of this world. 2 Cor. 4:4.

Jehovah wanted the whole world to become involved with His Son, The Messiah. The Romans were involved, for they had the military rule of Judea at that time. The Greeks, the intellectuals, were always looking for a new story to write or argue about, and they heard about the Messiah naturally, in the course of their activities.  The Jews, being kin to the mother of Christ, were involved because of that.  One class of people needed to be called to the scene; the mystics; the astrologers from the East.

The wise men of the East, as would be expected, responded to the new light in the sky; a light moving from the East to the West.  They decided to follow the "star", and when they arrived at their destination, the light shone down on a stable in Bethlehem.

Some scholars believe that since Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction at that time they appeared to be a bright star.  That light certainly cannot have been from normal "stars" or planets (even if they were in conjunction).  How can stars shine down on one particular spot in any one city? 

The same argument must be used against the idea that the light was from a meteor; a meteor does not shine down on only one small area.  Neither does a meteor travel slowly enough for the wise men to follow it.  The people who advance these hair-brained opinions surely cannot have thought very carefully about the ideas they present.

We may as well speculate that the light was produced by a spacecraft?  It meets all the necessary requirements.  In their past, the Jews had followed a beam of light through the Red Sea and in their wilderness wanderings!

In this case, a UFO could provide a light shining down to guide the Magi. 
  • It had the ability to move at the right speed so that the wise men and their camels could keep up with it on their journey of approximately 750 miles. 
  • Also, it could wait for them while they needed to stop and rest. 
  • It could shine down on any one small town because it was close enough to earth to "spotlight" it. 
  • It could direct its beam to any chosen spot in that town: namely the stable in Bethlehem.

Friday, December 15, 2017

73 - A New Path For Our Master

Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go off to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised the third day. 

And taking Him aside, Peter began to rebuke Him, saying, "God be gracious to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!" 

But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block unto Me, because you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." 

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Mat 16:20-24.

A Sudden Change

Christ suspects what lies ahead of Him.  He knows it will not be easy but it has always been His desire to please His Father and that is one thing that He will not allow to change.  

The Jewish people envisioned their Messiah coming as a king who would rid Israel of the horrible curse of Roman oppression and so it was too early to tell the populace that their Messiah must first die a horrible death.  So He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ (the Messiah).

From that time Jesus began to show (perhaps to explain from the Old Testament prophets or maybe it just means to explain; that is, with an explicitness and frequency He had never observed before.[JFB]

to His disciples (He was no longer ministering to the crowds; He was focusing on what the disciples needed to learn).

He informed them that He must go off to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes.  Till now the ridicule and the attempts on His life had been in small towns from people he probably knew.  Things were going to change; He will meet the high priest and other high synagogue officials in the capital city.

Not only will He suffer many things but He will be killed.  In our studies, we have run into such a scenario many times already.  If the religious leaders don't like what you preach there is a good chance they will arrange to have you killed.

He will be raised the third day.  Christ's death is not the end of His story, it is the beginning of the story of The Church!

Peter Rebukes Christ  

As a friend takes the hand of a friend and leads him aside for a private conversation so Peter taking Him aside began to rebuke Him, saying, "God be gracious to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!"  There is just no way that God will let this happen to you.

Christ, however, did not think that this should be a private conversation so He turned and saw His disciples and in the presence of His disciples He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."
Mark 8:33  

There is no agreement as to how the word Satan, as it is used here, should be defined.   
  1. Christ is rebuking Peter by calling him Satan.  These are the same words as He had addressed to the Tempter (Luk_4:8); for He felt in it a satanic lure, a whisper from hell, to move Him from His purpose to suffer. [JFB]   Peter personified Satan.                                                                                   
  2. it seems ... to mean the devil, who took the advantage of Peter's weakness and ignorance; and put him upon dissuading Christ from suffering, for the salvation of his people.[Gill]  In this definition, Christ is not calling Peter Satan but He is speaking to the Devil who is using Peter's mouth to turn Christ from going to the cross.  Satan and his hordes well know what will happen if Christ dies on the cross and then comes back from the grave.  That will be the beginning of the end for them!                                           
  3. Get thee behind me, Satan - The word “Satan” literally means “an adversary,” or one who opposes us in the accomplishment of our designs. [Barnes]  According to this definition it could even refer to a friend who is concerned for our welfare and is trying to dissuade us from doing what we know we must do.
you are not mindful of the things of God - That is, dost not relish, ... or, thou dost not understand or discern the things of God - thou art wholly taken up with the vain thought that my kingdom is of this world. [Clarke]

At this point, Mark tells us that He (Christ) summoned the crowd together with His disciples. Mark 8:34.  Matthew records this story as though it pertains only to Christ and His disciples.  

We will follow Matthew's point of view. 

He said to them  If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  This phrase is often used to convince people that they must lay everything at the feet of Jesus and follow Him no matter what.  That is always a pertinent message to Christians but we must be careful not to wrest this verse from the rest of the story.  

Christ said to His disciples, I am going to Jerusalem to suffer and I will die on a cross, like a criminal.  If anyone of you desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross (figuratively), and follow Me.  Here is your chance to turn back from being my disciple, think it through carefully and act according to your decision.

All of His disciples, including Judas, decided to go to Jerusalem with their master.  This was distinctly a decision to follow Christ "to the death" if it needed to be so.

In keeping with the Christmas season, I will interrupt this study for a week and in place, for next Friday's post, I will reshare an older Christmas post.

Friday, December 8, 2017

72 - The Leaven of the Pharisees

How is it you do not perceive that I did not speak to you about bread, but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?" 
Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was questioning His disciples, saying, "Who do men pronounce Me, the Son of Man, to be?" 
So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others say Elijah, and yet others say Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 
He said to them, "But who do you pronounce Me to be?" 
And Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 
Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I shall build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth will have been loosed in heaven." Mat. 16:11-19 

The setting:

Christ and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee and too late realized that they had forgotten to bring along some bread.  In the meantime, Christ was thinking about spiritual things and He said to them, Look out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Mat. 16:6. Rabbinical writers regularly use leaven as a symbol of evil (Lightfoot). [ISBE] It seems that since Christ mentioned the leaven they thought He was censuring them for forgetting the bread.

he Conversation:

Christ corrected their false notion by saying, How is it you do not perceive that I did not speak to you about bread, but to beware of the leaven (evil teachings) of the Pharisees and Sadducees?"

After leaving the Scribes and the Pharisees behind He was curious to know "Who do men pronounce Me, the Son of Man, to be" so He asked His friends.  

In response they gave Him a list:

  • John the Baptist, 
  • Elijah, 
  • Jeremiah, 
  • or one of the prophets.
Now that Christ knew what others were saying about Him He zeroed in on His main point; But who do you (plural) pronounce Me to be?

Simon Peter, always the outspoken one, replied: You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God.

Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah (Simon son of Jonah) because flesh and blood (human teachers) did not reveal this to you. This is not something you can learn in seminaries or from books.  This is something you can only grasp by faith and then only when it is revealed to you by My Father who is in heaven.

I also say to you that you are Peter (in Greek Petros, meaning: rock).  This was not the name his parents had given him but it was the name Christ gave him when He called him to be His disciple.

upon this rock I shall build My church.  This statement wields a major point of contention.
  1. Some have supposed that the word “rock” refers to Peter’s confession, and that Jesus meant to say, upon this rock, this truth that thou hast confessed, that I am the Messiah and upon confessions of this from all believers, I will build my church.                                                               
  2. Others have thought that Jesus referred to himself. Christ is called a rock, Isa_28:16; 1Pe_2:8. And it has been thought that he turned from Peter to himself, and said, “Upon this rock, this truth that I am the Messiah - upon myself as the Messiah, I will build my church.”                                           
  3. Another interpretation is, that the word “rock” refers to Peter himself.  This is the obvious meaning of the passage; and had it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it, and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for. [Barnes] 

Points 1 & 2 make the Scriptures say something that is not written there. Theologians have come up with these ideas because they do not like what the Roman church has done to the meaning of these words which Christ spoke.  Why not let the words of Christ mean what He said but let's rid these words of the false connotations which the third and fourth-century church forced on to them? 

To Peter, Christ said, “Thou art a rock. Thou hast shown thyself firm, and suitable for the work of laying the foundation of the church. Upon thee will I build it. Thou shalt be highly honored; thou shalt be first in making known the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.” [Barnes]

This statement is shown to be true in the Book of Acts where we find Peter preaching to both the Jews and to the Gentiles before Paul was even converted.

Christ did not mean, as the Roman Catholics say he did, to exalt Peter to supreme authority above all the other apostles, or to say that he was the only one upon whom he would rear his church.[Barnes]

Earlier we studied Christ's choice of the twelve disciples and there we learned that Peter was not mentioned as being superior to any of the other disciples. The wall of the city also had twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Rev. 21:14.   See:        

More than all, it is not said here, or anywhere else in the Bible, that Peter would have infallible successors who would be the vicegerents of Christ and the head of the church. [Barnes]

and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.  In fortified cities of ancient times, the walls around the cities had "council" chambers at some of the gates.  It was in those "chambers" where the "council" members would make the major decisions for the city.  So the word gates represented the decisions or actions of the city's leaders.  Christ says the decisions or actions of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

Just a casual reminder: Hell (Hades) is the place where the wicked dead are kept until judgment day.  It is not taught anywhere in the Bible that Hell is a Lake of Fire.  This, of course, is not to say that the Bible does not speak of a Lake of Fire.

The Rules

I will give you the keys (the authority) of the kingdom of heaven (the Church on earth), and whatever you bind (the things which you forbid) on the earth (for the Church) will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose (permit) on the earth will have been loosed in heaven (permitted by heaven's decree).

With this statement in mind, we can look back to the first meetings held by the church council in Jerusalem.   It was there that the disciples laid the ground rules for the future of the church.  The rules they made were accepted in heaven and are not to be changed by any sect or off shot group who claim to belong to the church of Christ.   

We had a list of these rules in:                                     

The church has not failed too badly in keeping most of the rules laid down by the disciples but it has really messed-up by making many more rules than the disciples ever dreamed off.  Note:

  1.  Many first-generation Christians insisted that all Christian males must be circumcised.  The disciples vetoed that teaching.
  2.  You must "keep the Sabbath".  The disciples did not say which day to gather to worship.
  3.   It is a sin to have electricity on your farm our in your house.
  4.   It is a sin to fly in an aeroplane.  Sailing on a cruise liner is not a sin.
  5.   It is a sin to wear a necktie.
  6.   You are not a spiritual person if you cannot speak in tongues.
  7.   Oh, why continue, the list is endless.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  I can't decide whether this following scene is from TV comedies, serious serials or movies, or some flippant jokes, maybe even from some unknowing Bible teacher, but I am sure it is not from the Bible.  

Saint Peter is standing at heaven's gate, with keys in hand, and when any human on earth has passed away that human goes up to Saint Peter and asks for permission to enter Heaven.  Peter checks the records and accordingly he makes his decision.  How uninformed can people really be?

Friday, December 1, 2017

71 - Water, Fish and Jonah

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. 
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Have courage! It is I AM; do not fear." Mat 14:26-27.

The Impossible is Not

The story of Christ walking on the lake has created a lot of debate.  From "it is impossible" to "Christ is God and God can do anything".   

First of all, it would not be necessary for Christ to be God for Him to be able to walk on water.  Here is a repeat from a former post; "when John baptized Christ He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ."

Since the spirit of Jehovah was resting on Christ, walking on water would not have been a problem for Him.

hen the disciples saw Him walking on water they thought they saw a ghost and were afraid so, to calm their nerves, Christ said, Have courage! It is I AM. In Greek "I am" is "EGO EIMI".  By writing, I AM, in capital letters, trinitarian Bible students falsely emphasize the idea that Christ is "the great I AM - Jehovah Himself".  The more exact meaning is Jesus said to them, "Don't worry! I am Jesus. Mat. 14:27, CEV.

hat Christ did not mean to imply that He was God is made very clear in a blog by Krista Mariia.  I quote, "John 9:9 is a similar verse. In this verse a man who had been blind from birth (John 9:1), and was healed by Jesus, said the same Greek words, "EGO EIMI", "I am". Did he claim to be God?"

This removes all basis for trinitarians to argue that Jesus was trying to fit Exodus 3:14 to himself in Mark 6:50, or in any other scripture having the words "EGO EIMI".

For much more good Bible teaching I suggest:\

Enough Bread and Fish 

So they all ate and were satisfied, and they took up what they had left of the fragments, twelve baskets full. 

Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, apart from women and children. Mat. 14:20-21

So they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what they had left of the fragments, seven hampers full. 
Now those who ate were four thousand men, apart from women and children.  Mat. 15:37-38

These two stories, side by side, have caused some to believe that it is the same situation with some random numbers changed.  Perhaps one storyteller rounded-up the numbers and another rounded-down the numbers.

However, Christ did not think that the two stories refer to the same incident.  He said, Do you not ... remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 
Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many hampers you took up? Mat. 16:9-10

The Sign of Jonah

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him, they asked Him to show them a sign out of heaven. 

An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And leaving them behind He went away.  Mat. 16:1-4

came ... testing Him.  They wanted to ensnare Christ; perhaps they could catch how he did His "slight of hand" tricks; things like making the blind see or the lame walk. 

they asked Him to show them a sign out of heaven.  These earthly miracles you do are nothing compared to the miracles the "real" prophets "back then" did.  Moses gave us manna; Joshua made the sun stand still; there were thunder and lightning at the giving of the law.

The appearance of the rainbow, in a very extraordinary manner, is looked upon by the Jews as a sign of the Messiah's coming. "Says a certain Jew, when my father departed out of the world, he said thus to me; do not look for the Messiah until thou seest the bow in the world, adorned with light colours, and the world enlightened by it; then look for the Messiah, as it is written, Gen. 9:16.'' [Gill] 

Back then, already, Bible students put meanings into the Scriptures which were not even hinted at there.  And the rainbow shall be in the cloud. And I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. Gen. 9:16.

Do We Always Need to be Politically Correct

Christ well knew that they were not interested in believing Him.  With their request, they were just scorning Him.  So He bluntly said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  It sounds as if Christ did not mind "stepping on the toes" of those who refused to believe Him.  He did not find it necessary to always be politically correct!  When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility. [Matthew Henry]   Why are we, The Christian Church, so eager to fit into the non-Christian's worldview?  

He said, I am not going to indulge you in your petty games; no sign will be given to it (an evil and adulterous generation) except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Christ walked away; leaving them behind.

What is the sign of Jonah?  Probably just the most impressive sign in the Old Testament.  Christ referred to that sign at another time, also.  He said, For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  Mat. 12:40 

That sign has been shared with humankind.  There are more copies of the Bible in the world than any other book.   History has vindicated that sign's accuracy. Whether or not humans believe that Christ died and rose again is their choice.  However, the fact stands secure; historical studies attest to it; Christ died and after three days and three nights He came back to life.

Friday, November 24, 2017

70 - Clean Dirty Hands

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 

Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with ceremonially unclean, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 

For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands with their fist, holding the tradition of the elders. 

And coming from the marketplace, unless they bathe, they do not eat. And there are many other things which they have received by tradition, like the washing of cups and pitchers, copper vessels and couches.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but they eat bread with unwashed hands?" 

And answering He said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 

And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 

Well do you set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your tradition.

For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother';
But you say, 'If a man says to his father or to his mother, "Whatever you might be profited by me is Corban"--' (that is, a gift),
then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or for his mother, 

thus nullifying the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down. Mark 7:1-13; 

You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean. 
It doesn't go into your heart, but into your stomach, and then out of your body." By saying this, Jesus meant that all foods were fit to eat. 
Then Jesus said: What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean. 
Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, 
unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness. 
All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God. Mark 7:18-23 CEV.


when they, the Pharisees, saw some of His (Christ's) disciples eat bread with ceremonially unclean, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.  It seems that finding fault was their most obvious talent.

When we think of the words unwashed hands we think of dirty hands and, of course, we would wash before we eat.  This, however, is not what the Pharisees were referring to.

For these ceremonial washings, special stone vessels of water were kept, because ordinary water might be unclean. To wash your hands in a special way, you started by taking at least enough of this water to fill one and one-half egg shells. Then, you poured the water over your hands, starting at the fingers and running down towards your wrist. [Guzik]

they wash their hands with their fist, Then you cleansed each palm by rubbing the fist of the other hand into it. Then you poured water over your hands again, this time from the wrist towards the fingers. [Guzik]

holding the tradition of the elders.  They were overwhelmed with traditions and this is what bothered Christ about their religion.  Christ came to dispel cold religion and traditions. He said I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10.  

It is probably natural to think that the opposite of enjoying the abundant life Christ gives is being totally irreligious.  Isn't a religion weighed down by rules and traditions much more binding than no religion at all?  Not being bound by religious rules is more in line with Christ's attitude of freedom.

Of course, just because we reject religious, man-made, rules we do not reject the need for decency, honesty and obeying the laws laid down at the first church council meeting.  We looked at these in an earlier post:

1. to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols
2. and from blood, do not drink blood,
3. and from things strangled, do not eat meat with the blood still in it,
4. and from fornication. Acts 15:28-29; Acts 21:25.

Cancel the Traditions, Already!

Ceremonially, they wash their cups, pitchers, copper vessels and couches and coming from the marketplace, unless they bathe, they do not eat. We must not forget that this has nothing to do with making anything cleaner; it is just religious tradition.

Here are a few interesting side notes concerning the couches.

  1. These couches were not used for sleeping on.  They were the couches that, in Roman times, were used for leaning on while eating.
  2. These couches were too large to be completely submerged in water in any container that would normally be in a home.  Yet the word for wash, in this case, is the same word that is used for baptize.  They baptize their couches!
People who insist that baptism is valid only for those who have been completely immersed in water should have a problem with this verse.  If a couch can be baptised, and considered to be clean, without being completely immersed in water, why can't a Christian?

Christ could see right through their facade and said Isaiah was right when, speaking for Jehovah, he said This people honors Me with their lips.  You know all the right religious words to say; you know what kind of things to do to make people think you are really spiritual but your heart is far from Me.

Christ continued by saying, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men ... Well do you set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your tradition.  Here are a few quotes from Jewish teachers:

  • He who expounds the Scriptures in opposition to the tradition has no share in the world to come  
  • It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself. 
  • If the scribes say our right hand is our left, and our left hand is our right, we are to believe them. 
  • There is more in the words of the scribes than the words of the law. [Guzik]

Example One

Christ then gives an example of what the Jews, His peers, had done.  For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; this does not mean only to speak nicely to them, it also means to help them with whatever they need help with.

But you say, 'If a man says to his father or to his mother, "Whatever you might be profited by me is Corban"--' (that is, a gift).  In modern English: Your parents cannot fulfil their mortgage payment and they ask you for help but you say to them, Oh, I would love so much to help you but all the money in my bank account has been promised to God so I'm sorry I cannot help you.  Christ does not accept that vow as a good reason to break one of the ten commandments!

then you no longer allow (once you have made that vow to God you cannot undo it no matter how much your parents need your help and in that way you have nullified the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down.

Example Two

Christ gave His listeners another example.  He said You Jews are so fussy about what you eat and how it has been prepared You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean.  It simply passes through the body and becomes waste.

Then Jesus said: What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean.
Out of your heart come:
evil thoughts, 
vulgar deeds, 
unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, 
All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God.