Jesus’ Harsh Words

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One of the biggest criticisms against some bible teachers is that our words are unChristlike, degrading, and divisive towards our brothers and sisters. The argument states that Jesus would never say “mean things” or act this way, but only ever responded in love and lifted people up. Below is a list of verses in which Jesus actually said harsh things in a polemical context. Further, we must remember that Jesus’ words, no matter how harsh they may sound, never return void and always accomplish its purpose (Isaiah 55:11).

           “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” –Matthew 10:34

           “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?” –Matthew 23:16-17

           And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”  –Luke 11:39

           “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” –Matthew 25:30

           “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” –Mark 9:42

           “But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.” –John 8:55

           “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” –Matthew 23:33

           “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” –Matthew 23:27

           “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” –John 8:44

           “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.” 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” –Matthew 15:7

           “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.” –Luke 19:28

           “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” –Matthew 7:6

           “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” –Luke 12:51

           “And will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” –Matthew 24:51

           “Woe to those who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” –Luke 6:25

           “…but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”Luke 13:3,5

           “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” –Matthew 25:41

And perhaps the harshest thing Jesus ever said (or will say) is:

           “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” — Matthew 7:21-23

But we’re not Jesus, so we shouldn’t talk to people this way, it just turns people away from Christ, right? Wrong! The Apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 4 that the open statement of the truth is the only commendable method of carrying forth the Great Commission. Watering down Jesus’ words with a veil of niceness is “cunning” and “underhanded,” according to Paul. The Word of God serves two purposes; either it draws God’s people to Him, or it further hardens the hearts of those not called. But Paul clearly teaches that blunt speaking, even using harsh words when needed, is how we should carry forth the gospel and defend the truth.

1Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

[Contributed by Jeff Maples]

 

Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

 

Proverbs 27:5-6 (ESV) Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

 

Proverbs 26:17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5(HCSB)I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 

Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

 

Gossips and people who are offending are like those who go to a mountain top and open a pillow and release all the feathers, then feel sorry or forgive their offense and then don’t even try to get the feathers back or if they do they will not succeed.

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Palm Sunday

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Palm Sunday is the Celebration of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the beginning of the last week of His ministry.

Luke 19:28-40(HCSB) 28 When He had said these things, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As He approached Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, He sent two of the disciples 30 and said, “Go into the village ahead of you. As you enter it, you will find a young donkey tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say this: ‘The Lord needs it.’”

32 So those who were sent left and found it just as He had told them.33 As they were untying the young donkey, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the donkey?”

34 “The Lord needs it,” they said. 35 Then they brought it to Jesus, and after throwing their robes on the donkey, they helped Jesus get on it.36 As He was going along, they were spreading their robes on the road.37 Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen:

38 The King who comes
in the name of the Lord
is the blessed One.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heaven!

39 Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”40 He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”

John explains the same the scenario but puts more emphasis on the fulfilment of the mesainic prophecy.
John 12:12-19(HCSB) 12 The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: “Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One—the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written: 15 Fear no more, Daughter Zion. Look, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt. 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. 17 Meanwhile, the crowd, which had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify. 18 This is also why the crowd met Him, because they heard He had done this sign. 19 Then the Pharisees said to one another, “You see? You’ve accomplished nothing. Look—the world has gone after Him!”

The prophecy fulfilled in Zechariah 9

Zechariah 9:9(HCSB) Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

As Jesus entered the holy city, He neared the culmination of a long journey toward Golgotha. He had come to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and now was the time—this was the place—to secure that salvation. Palm Sunday marked the start of what is often called “Passion Week,” the final seven days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Palm Sunday was the “beginning of the end” of Jesus’ work on earth.

Luke 19:41-47 (HCSB) 41 As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come on you when your enemies will build an embankment against you, surround you, and hem you in on every side.44 They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”45 He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those who were selling, 46 and He said, “It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”  47 Every day He was teaching in the temple complex. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people were looking for a way to destroy Him, 48 but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people were captivated by what they heard.

There is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11). The worship will be real then. Also, John records a scene in heaven that features the eternal celebration of the risen Lord:

Revelation 7:9-10(HCSB) After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

Salvation belongs to our God,
who is seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb!

These palm-bearing saints will shout, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (verse 10), and who can measure sum of their joy?

The crowds who were crying out “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday were crying out “Crucify Him!” later that week. Matthew 27:22–23(HCSB) 22 Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Messiah?” They all answered, “Crucify Him!” 23 Then he said, “Why? What has He done wrong?”But they kept shouting, “Crucify Him!” all the more.

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew root words are found in Psalm 118:25(ESV), which says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!”. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

So, as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the crowds were perfectly right to shout “Hosanna!” They were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah, as shown in their address “Son of David.” Theirs was a cry for salvation and a recognition that Jesus is able to save.

Jesus is the only one that can save us. We can not, our works can not, no one else can, He and He alone is able to save us. John Owen said, “To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect.” But why?

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.

Scripture reveals human character which is contrary to what humans think about themselves:

  1. Man’s heart is evil. Mark 7:21-23(HCSB)21 For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, 22 adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit,promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
  2. Man’s heart is deceitful and incurable Jeremiah 17:9(HCSB) The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?
  3. Man is a slave of sin Romans 6:16-20(HCSB) 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness.
  4. He does not seek for God Romans 3:9-18(HCSB) What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have previously charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, 10 as it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.
11 There is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away;
all alike have become useless.
There is no one who does what is good,
not even one.
13 Their throat is an open grave;
they deceive with their tongues.
Vipers’ venom is under their lips.
14 Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and wretchedness are in their paths,
17 and the path of peace they have not known.
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

  1. He cannot understand spiritual things 1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB) 14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.
  2. He is hostile to God Romans 8:7(HCSB) 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
  3. He is by nature a child of wrath Ephesians 2:3(HCSB)  We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

“In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”

The Father calls, the Son redeems and the Holy Spirit applies salvation.

Please note that all spiritual blessings are IN CHRIST, that the Father chose us IN CHRIST, that He predestined us to adoption as sons IN CHRIST. God elects according to his good pleasure but he gets the job done through Jesus Christ.

 

Parable 13 Sheep and Goats

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Matthew 25:31-46 (HCSB)31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

42 For I was hungry
and you gave Me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43 I was a stranger
and you didn’t take Me in;
I was naked
and you didn’t clothe Me,
sick and in prison
and you didn’t take care of Me.’

44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’

45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The good works mentioned in the parable are not the cause of salvation but the effect of salvation. We know from scripture that God is the author and finisher of salvation, it was His plan from the very start. He designed it, He initiates it, He confirms and seals it. It is a work of grace not a work that we can do.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

As we can see here as in many other scriptures it was God’s plan from the beginning.  It is God’s blueprint, so to speak, of what he intends to do in time through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. God the Father elects, the Son redeems them, and the Spirit applies the work of Christ to the same. The Trinity, in other words, works in harmony, to bring about the redemption of the elect. God the Father does not do this alone, APART form the work of the other two Persons of the Trinity. All redemptive grace is found in Christ. Ephesians 1:3- 14(HCSB)Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him 10 for the administration of the days of fulfillment—to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.

11 We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, 12 so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory.

13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.

After reading this clear explanation of salvation why are there so many arguments? Because people want the goats to be saved as well. People don’t want to crucify their pride and say “Hey it is all a work of God and I have no part in this!” How freeing is that thought?!

 

As Christians we become like Christ (Romans 8:28-30(HCSB) 28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

Colossians 2:6-7  (HCSB)Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.

 

Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Good works in a Christian’s life are the direct overflow of these traits, and are only acceptable to God because of the relationship that exists between servant and Master, the saved and their Savior, the sheep and their Shepherd.

James 2:14-26 (HCSB) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.

20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness,  and he was called God’s friend.24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The separation between “sheep” and “goats” (v. 32) alludes to Ezekiel 34:17–19(HCSB)

17 “The Lord God says to you, My flock: I am going to judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and male goats. 18 Isn’t it enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of the pasture with your feet? Or isn’t it enough that you drink the clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19 Yet My flock has to feed on what your feet have trampled, and drink what your feet have muddied.

Palestinian shepherds frequently had to separate their flocks this way. Sheep and goats freely intermingled and often looked quite similar in appearance, at least from a distance. We too could probably not guess from superficial knowledge and external appearance who are truly God’s people, but he knows. “His right [hand]” (v. 33) refers to a place of honor; the “left” hand, to a place of disgrace.[1]

This showing us that the church will have sheep and goats, just as it has wheat and weeds. God will be the one to separate them on judgement day. It is hard to distinguish between sheep and goats from  a distance but there is a distinction in their behavior.

Our world is a vastly different place than the agricultural world of the Bible. This difference in lifestyles puts those of us who grew up in cities at a disadvantage when it comes to fully understanding some of Christ’s parables or various biblical metaphors. We simply lack the background. For instance, the Bible’s use of goats and sheep as metaphors for Christians is beyond many of us city folk. Most of us in the church seem to be more familiar with sheep. We hear a great deal about them in sermons and their attributes are fairly common knowledge: Christ is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep

John 10:14-15(HCSB)“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.

We know many of the traits of sheep through studies into Psalm 23 and John 10.

Psalm 23:1-4(HCSB)The Lord is my shepherd;there is nothing I lack.He lets me lie down in green pastures;He leads me beside quiet waters.He renews my life;He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.Even when I go through the darkest valley,I fear no danger,for You are with me;Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me

But our mental picture of goats is usually vague. We may think they regularly eat soup cans and ram into people. We will see that the attributes of goats, however, should not to be taken lightly.

What is it about goats that causes God to use them in such a negative light? Goats have many admirable qualities. They are intelligent, sensitive, playful, quick to respond to individual attention and affection. Sounds good, right?

Goats are inconsistent. They are impulsive and unpredictable, devious and contrary. When they are grazing, it is not unusual to see several with their heads through a fence, straining to reach the grass that is always greener on the other side!

Jesus spoke of the final judgment as being like a shepherd separating sheep and goats (shepherds grazed them in mixed flocks). Separating sheep from goats in western countries is not difficult, as the sheep have been bred to accentuate their wool production so they look quite different. However, sheep and goats in Asia and Africa are often similar in appearance.

Non-shepherds find it difficult to distinguish such sheep and goats, but the shepherd knows the difference and easily separates them. For example, there are differences in behaviour: sheep tend to follow; goats go their own way. At the judgment, the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20(HCSB)20 Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, will know the difference and will separate those who followed Him from those who went their own way.

John 10:25-28(HCSB) 25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep.27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Differences between sheep and goats

  1. Sheep eat grass and a few select herbs. – Spiritual sheep graze on the pure word of God and a few select books, websites and sermons. They are very careful to take in those things that will enhance their understanding of God, not interfere with it. Goats will nibble on grass and herbs and weeds and trees and paper. – “Goats” will “eat” any thing.
  2. Sheep will not try fences,They are content with what they have. Goats are difficult animals to keep in. they will go under or over or through most any fence, unless of course they decide to just open the gate. Spiritual goats are always trying the boundaries; always trying to see how close to the edge they can get. They are not content with the boundaries placed by God in their lives.

3.Sheep have 1-3 babies at a time. They keep their babies by their side at all times, nursing them frequently. A mama sheep isn’t much of a threat to any predator, but she will stand and fight to the death to protect her baby.

Goats have many babies (2-5) at a time. They leave them for long periods of time coming back only to nurse a couple of times a day. If a predator comes it may fight the predator  But if it comes to a choice between her baby and her own life, she will run away; abandon her kids.

We should be spiritual sheep when caring for our spiritual lambs.

We should “mother” our new converts like sheep.

We should become a part of their lives, helping them to learn to “eat” the pure Word of God.

We need to teach them the dangers of “eating” the wrong things and trying the boundaries.

We should defend them from Satan to the death.

By now, a goat’s characteristics should be clear. They are not evil, but some of their traits could be deadly—spiritually—if found in a Christian. What would we call a Christian who is unpredictable? A goat! Or one who thinks he is above it all? A goat! Or one who independently does his own thing? A goat! What would we call a Christian who wants to take over, has trouble functioning in a group, and does not want to be led? A goat!

Goats in a congregation tend to divide it, leading the sheep astray.

Many of us probably have goat-like characteristics. Some good, some bad. Most of us know these things about ourselves, and we try hard not to admit them. But now that we understand the biblical metaphor about goats, and what Christ says their ultimate end will be, we can look on this side of ourselves in a more urgent light.

A Christian cannot stand still, yet not all movement is proper growth. A Christian’s life must move in the right direction, along the path that leads to the Kingdom of God. We do not want to be sidetracked, to follow a road of our own choosing, on a whim or out of stubbornness or independence.

A sheep follows its Shepherd, peacefully moving forward with the flock. He is content to be led because he has faith in Him. A sheep responds to his Shepherd’s voice and goes where He directs.

A goat follows only its own lead, creating disunity when he comes in contact with others in the flock. Because of his independent nature, he often finds himself in contention with the Shepherd for leadership of the flock, leading some astray. A goat often eats things sheep would avoid because they have no value and cause sickness.

Therefore you will know the sheep from the goats by their behavior. Sheep will do the will of the Shapherd while goats are rebellious and in it for themselves. This is the point of this whole parable,  Jesus is saying the sheep will show compassion and feed, clothe, and take of others. While goats will only do it if they have something to gain out of it.

These are serious spiritual characteristics. Which are you, a sheep or a goat?

The core message of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats is that God’s people will love others. Good works will result from our relationship to the Shepherd. Followers of Christ will treat others with kindness, serving them as if they were serving Christ Himself. The unregenerate live in the opposite manner. While “goats” can indeed perform acts of kindness and charity, their hearts are not right with God, and their actions are not for the right purpose – to honor and worship God.

 

[1] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 376.

Parable 12 Pharisee and Tax Collector

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/tsgkn-8d7076?from=yiiadmin

Luke 18:10-14 (HCSB) He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else:10 “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people —greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’

13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me —a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How can we be righteous? When it comes to righteous and righteousness, that is, in fact, an attribute of God. God, the Bible says repeatedly, is righteous. This means that he is holy, that he is good, that he is right, that he is without sin. To think of it in terms of a legal metaphor, God is one who rules rightly and justly and honorably and nobly and faithfully and truthfully.

And the Bible says that we were originally created, male and female, in the image and likeness of God. That’s why Genesis 1:31 said that God made us, quote, “very good.” It’s why Ecclesiastes 7:29 declares that God made us upright, that he made us righteous. But through sin we are all unrighteous. That’s where the Bible says no one is righteous, not one person is righteous.

And this leads to a real problem. God is righteous and we are unrighteous. How could God declare us to be righteous? How do we remedy this sin problem? And the issue of God declaring us righteous, to use theological language, is “justified.” That is when God declares a sinner who is unrighteous to be righteous. That is justified. Jesus is going to use these words in this parable. He’s going to talk about sin, he’s going to talk about righteousness, and he’s going to talk about one man being justified, though sinful, declared righteous in the sight of God.

There are two ways in which the human heart and life pursues righteousness. To long for righteousness is not a bad thing. We simply need to pursue it in the right way. And in this story, Jesus is going to introduce us to two men, one man who pursues what we will call works righteousness, another man who will receive gift righteousness. And everyone in the history of the world falls into one of these two categories: pursuing works righteousness or receiving gift righteousness. So as we unpack the story, it is incumbent upon you and us to ask, “Which person do I most identify with? Who am I most like? Am I pursuing works righteousness of my own or receiving gift righteousness from God?”

The Pharisee is operating under works righteousness. He wants to be declared righteous in the sight of God, so he is going to live his life in such a way that he anticipates and expects, though wrongly, that God will be impressed with him and that God will bless him. And there are varying ways that we pursue works righteousness. Not all of them are religious. You don’t have to be necessarily religious to be one who pursues works righteousness. Some just assume, “I don’t need to exert any additional effort. I’m a good enough person. I’m sure in the end, when I stand before God and he judges me, he’ll think, ‘Pretty good person. I’m okay with you. You’re not as good as some. You’re not as bad as most.

And this is what some of us do. “I’m better than most people because I blank.” And then we get very moral and self-righteous and judgmental. “Do you do what I do? You don’t? You should. I’m going to make you feel very ashamed and I’m better than you and I’ll show you why.” And this is why people get so addicted to their little causes. And this sometimes, as well, plays itself out with what we’ll call self-esteem. Sometimes works righteousness manifests itself in self-esteem. And you’re taught since you’re a little kid, “Have a very high self-esteem.” And so you think very highly of yourself. You think, “Well, of course God loves me. Look at me. Of course God is impressed with me. I’m pretty impressive.” We have a very high self-esteem, even though sometimes we have a very low morality.

This can be truth righteousness, where I’m better than everyone because I read all the right books, I’ve memorized the verses, I can answer the questions. This can be morality righteousness. “I’m better than everyone because I don’t do bad things and I do do good things.” This could be ministry righteousness. “Of course I’m better than everyone. Look at all the things I do for the Lord. I’ve done so much.” Maybe it’s even giving or serving. And these are not necessarily bad things, but they do not cause us to be seen by the God of the Bible as acceptably righteous in his sight.

And that is this story. This man is very devoutly religious, pursuing works righteousness. We’re told that he’s a Pharisee. That was a very strictly devoted sect in that day. Today, it would be like a preacher, a pastor, an elder, a deacon, a theologian, a noteworthy Christian speaker, leader, or author. He is very devout, very serious, very committed. Everyone looked up to him and respected him. And Jesus says, “God is not pleased with him.”

The Pharisees boast about the righteousness of the Law.  They stand when they take up their position in the Temple because they want to be seen as ornaments of righteousness.  Jesus often portrays them as hypocrites.

First-century Judaism was diverse in many ways, but there were some things on which virtually every Jew was agreed. For example, tax collectors were generally regarded as traitors to Israel for their willingness to take part in the funding of the occupying Roman forces in Palestine by collecting taxes. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were almost universally respected by the Jews because of their devotion to the law of God. Jewish men and women saw them as particularly holy, because they focused so intently on the minutiae of the Mosaic law that their outward manner of life was noticeably different from that of the common person. God did not look at the Pharisee—nor does He ever look at us—and say, “Wow, that’s impressive.” God sees us for who we really are: sinners in need of forgiveness. Jesus took the punishment for our sin by dying on the cross.

The Pharisee actually believed he had done more than God required. He had kept the
law perfectly and had also fasted twice a week, and he even tithed on all he purchased,
not just what he earned. His attitude was easy to see. It was one that was common
in Pharisaism. The Pharisee’s attitude was clear, and it represented the attitude
of the people. He knew nothing of God’s perfection and holiness, or of his sinfulness.

The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable was in error because He did not understand God’s standard for righteousness. The Lord does not grade on a curve. Contrary to the Pharisee’s belief, it is not that God accepts one person and not another because the one has not committed as many heinous sins as the other. Neither does the Lord justify one person and not another because the former is more scrupulous in his obedience than the latter (vv. 11–12). No, if people want to be justified—declared righteous—by keeping the law, the standard is absolute perfection. It is not enough to keep just one commandment for justification—you must keep them all (Gal. 5:3). It is a deadly proposition for sinners, for no sinner can keep God’s law perfectly.

Number one, it’s man centered, not God centered. In the story, the guy prays, “Dear God,” so he says God once, “I, I, I, I, I.” He says “I” five times in one prayer. “God, I, I, I, I, I am really fantastic. You’re welcome.” That’s basically the prayer. That’s not a prayer. That’s a boast. That’s all that it is. And we have in our day even theologies, those who would claim to teach the Bible, who say, “You don’t exist to obey and glorify God. God exists to obey and glorify you so you can be all you can be, do all you can do, have all you can have. God’s in it for you to make you a winner.” Not true. We exist for God, God does not exist for us. The center of human history is not humanity, it is the creator God of the Bible. And this man sees himself as the center of his life and God exists to be impressed with him.

Number two, works righteousness compares us to someone other than Jesus. This man in the story, he says, “God, thank you, I’m not like the unjust and the adulterers and thank you that I’m not like other men and thank you, I’m not like the tax collector.” He’s comparing himself to others. And those of us who are prone toward works righteousness, and let me say this, friends, we all are. This is not a lesson you’re going to learn today, this is a lesson to learn every day, because this is something we continually gravitate toward is works righteousness. We compare ourselves to other people. “Oh, they’re horrible, they’re terrible, they’re not as good as me, they’re not as smart as me.” Friends, we are to compare ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. And as we do, we realize we’re not righteous. We realize that we’re not righteous.

Number three, in works righteousness, our performance establishes our worth. That’s exactly what this man says. “I fast twice a week,” which is a big deal because according to the Old Covenant, you were only required to fast once a year. So twice a week is a big deal. Many of you don’t even know what fasting is. You’re like, “I eat fast food, what’s the big deal?” No, fast food is different than fasting, it’s different. Fasting is where you don’t eat. Somebody’ll be like, “I didn’t eat.” That’s ‘cause you were working and you skipped lunch so you had two dinners, that’s not fasting, right? Fasting is where for a whole day, you don’t eat out of devotion to God to discipline yourself because to be a disciple is to be disciplined. That’s the root intent of fasting, among other things.

And number four, it focuses on the external and it also then subsequently ignores the internal. So Jesus literally says, “They trusted in themselves.” Friends, we all have faith. The difference is the object of our faith. I’m asking you to trust in Jesus, and if you don’t, you are trusting in yourself. And so they don’t trust God who is external from them, they trust themselves internally. They trust their gut, their opinion, their perspective, their view, their proclivity, their inclination. As a result, the only authority that they see is themselves. And so they put themselves in the position of God. “I know my heart, I know my life, I know my deeds, I render a verdict, I declare myself righteous.” Nothing external. “Is there a God? Will I give an account to him? What will his verdict of my life be?”

Additionally, number five, why works righteousness is unrighteousness. In that false system, God is not our judge, people are. That’s why he prays publicly. He wants everyone else to hear it. He wants everyone else to know it. “God, thank you that I don’t lie. Thank you that I don’t steal. Thank you that I don’t commit adultery. Thank you that I’m better than everyone else.” And he wants them all to hear it. And he wants the crowd to agree, “Yes, you are morally superior. Yes, you are fantastic. Yes, we are all impressed with you.”

Number six, it leads to pride. Inevitably, it leads to pride. Some of you don’t know this: Pride is a sin. You can call it self-esteem, it’s still pride. It’s the sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven. Augustine, the church father, says that pride is like a mother who is pregnant with all sin. All sin ultimately comes from pride. The first sin was to be like God.That’s pride.

And ultimately, it offends God. That’s the point of the story, that God is offended by this kind of behavior, right? The temple in that day (it was destroyed in 70 A.D.) contained the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God the Holy Spirit on the Earth. And this man in the story, he gets close to the presence of God and rather than crying out to God for forgiveness, he boasts of his own righteousness, his works righteousness and his performance.

You need to know this, that works righteousness, either in its secular form or in its religious form, is nonetheless an abomination, it is deplorable to the God of the Bible. When we come to God, we are to come empty-handed to receive a gift, not bearing all of our works righteousness as if God were to be impressed.

The Bible uses two images, metaphors that are particularly cringe-worthy. One is in the Old Testament, one is in the New. I’ve shared them with you before, and I’ll share them with you again today, not for shock value, but to give us the disposition of God when we bring to him works righteousness as a gift. The first is in Isaiah 64:6, I’ve used it before. He says that our righteousness is like filthy menstrual rags. The other one is in Philippians 3:8 where Paul says that our works righteousness is like a steaming pile of dung.

Isaiah 64:6(NET) We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf;our sins carry us away like the wind.

Right away Luke wants us to understand the problem Jesus is addressing. There were people around Him who thought they they could be righteous in and of themselves, and these people tended to despise anyone who didn’t measure up to their self-defined standards of righteousness. They were self-righteous people who didn’t really love others, but the real problem behind this is that they didn’t really love God. That this is the problem will become even clearer as we examine the parable itself.

Paul writes to Philippians church to watch out for those who trust in their own righteousness .

Philippians 3:2-9(NET) 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials 4 —though mine too are significant. If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more: 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee. 6 In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. 7 But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. 8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ, 9 and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness. 

 

Romans 3:10-11(HCSB) 10 as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. 11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.

 

 

  1. Two Indicators of Genuine Spirituality

 

These indicators are the opposite of those pertaining to the false spirituality of the Pharisee, and they may be seen in Jesus’ description of the tax collector in Luke 18:13 13 The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’

The first indicator of genuine spirituality is an awareness of one’s own inability to live righteously.

 

Given that the tax collector is contrasted with the Pharisee, and that the Pharisee illustrates “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (vs. 9), we may assume that the tax collector represents those who do not trust in themselves that they are righteous. We see his awareness of his own inability to live righteously both in his actions and in his confession. For example, Jesus says that the man confessed his sinfulness to God, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” But He also says that he “beat his breast,” which is a sign of intense sorrow. Jesus wants us to see clearly, then, what a recognition of one’s own inability to live righteously entails. It entails a clear understanding of our own sinfulness in the sight of God and a corresponding sense of sorrow for our sins. As the Apostle Paul would later write to the Corinthian believers:

 2 Corinthians 7:9-10(HCSB) Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.

Unlike the Pharisee, who should have understood such things himself, the tax collector in the parable serves for all time as an example of such a godly sorrow for sin.

 

Now the tax collector, friend, in this story, he’s a monster. He’s an absolute monster. The way it worked is the Roman government took over God’s people, basically nearly enslaved them. They would hire fellow members of God’s people to collect taxes. These are extortionists and crooks and thieves. They bankrupt people, threaten them. This is horrible what they do. Today, for us categorically, we would put those who deal drugs to kids. We would put those who enslave people in sex trafficking, we’d put the abortion doctors who work overtime ‘cause they love their job into the same category that they would have placed a tax collector.

That the tax collector would even walk into the temple, that was scandalous. This man is a monster. But what does he do? He stands far back; unlike the works righteousness man, he does not draw near. Rather than, with a haughty gaze, raising his head, he hangs his head low, looking at the ground in conviction and shame, right shame, good shame. And rather than talking about everybody else’s sin, he talks about his own sin. He talks about his own sin. “God, I’m a sinner. I’m not gonna try and justify the life that I’ve lived or the way I’ve behaved.”

And he asked for a gift, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Have mercy on me.” He’s asking for gift righteousness. And Jesus said, “That guy nailed it. That guy left justified, declared righteous in the sight of God.” But he didn’t fast twice a week. But he didn’t give 10 percent. But he couldn’t answer all the theological questions. But he hadn’t read the Bible cover to cover. But he hadn’t been baptized and he didn’t speak in tongues and—but he received gift righteousness. So he was justified, declared righteous in the sight of God.

How to become righteous. Pull a few things from the story. First, friends, start by comparing yourself to Jesus and the Word of God so you could see your sin. Too often we spend too much time and energy comparing ourselves to one another. And if we look at the Word of God and we look at the Son of God, we see that we’re unrighteous. What this man didn’t do, he didn’t come to God and ask, “God, what should I do to impress you? Where is the punch list for righteousness so that I can get a high score through my performance?” Instead, he came to God and said, “I need a gift. Have mercy on me.” And I would invite you to that as well, to receive the gift of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And I’ll unpack that a bit more thoroughly in just a moment.

you can then be sanctified by the Spirit of God to do your good works. Friends, we’re not saved by our good works, we’re saved to our good works. That’s totally different. We are saved by works. The question is, whose works? Our works or Jesus’ works? Whose works save? Jesus’ works. It’s his life, not ours. His perfection, not ours. His obedience, not ours. His death in our place for all that we have failed to be and do. So yes, something was done but it’s not done by us, friends, it’s done for us by Jesus.

This is such good news. We would never understand this apart from the revelation of the Bible. We would all end up even treating the Bible as just another works righteousness document. A list of things to do and not do, we will set up a set of leaders who just sort of keep score and render verdicts and then we’ll get all smug and self-righteous and proud because we did good things, we didn’t do bad things. We’ll look down on others, have contempt, not compassion, be filled with pride, get harsh, and then start adding rules to God’s rules and enforcing them and then it goes on and on and on until you murder God because he’s not as righteous as you are.

Or you realize that you’re unrighteous. You realize that Jesus is your righteousness. And you repent not only of your sin, but also your righteousness. And you come like the tax collector. “God, I’m a sinner. Give me mercy. Don’t tell me what to do. Remind me of what Jesus has done.” And when Jesus says it is what? Finished, all the work is done. And I receive the gift.

o a couple things in closing. It’s not about you. It’s all about Jesus. Additionally, it’s not about what you do for Jesus. It’s about what Jesus does for you. That’s what justification is about. Furthermore, God is not impressed with you. God is not impressed with you, but God loves you. That’s even better. Because if God is impressed with you, you need to keep performing. But if he loves you, he loves you no matter what.

Additionally, you do not have any righteousness. Whatever you put in the box, it’s not awesome. It’s awful. You do not have any righteousness, but Jesus will gladly give you his. Right? So that when you stand before God the Father for judgment at the end, you don’t say, “Here’s my resume and all the nice, good things I did.” You look at Jesus and you say, “I’m with him. I’m with him. He has a large reservation. I’m with him.”

Additionally, regarding our motivation for change, we do not change so that God will bless us. We do not change so that God will love us. We do not change so that God would accept us. Rather, we change because in Jesus Christ, God has blessed us. In Jesus Christ, God has loved us. In Jesus Christ, God has accepted us. Christianity then is not what we have to do. It’s what we get to do. And because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, it’s ultimately what we want to do. We want to follow Jesus, we want to be like Jesus, not so that God would love us, but because he’s already loved us in Christ. The motivation is very different. It leads to joy and not duty or burden. It’s a bunch of get-tos, not a bunch of have-tos. That’s the Christian life.

Justification We are saved from the PENALTY of Sin.

Sanctification We are being saved from the Power of Sin

Glorification We will be saved from the presence of Sin

Justification begins our sanctification. We are both Justified (a one time event) and in the process of being sanctified(on going). Sanctification begins with our justification, it is a process that conforms us to Christ’s likeness. Justification is a legal declaration of a sinner being righteous before the Father, it does not make us self-righteous.

Romans 8:29(HCSB) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Someone who is a Christian for 10 years is no more justified than when the first became a believer. It is through the process of our dying to self and being obedient to the word and the Spirit. John 17:15-19 (HCSB)15 I am not praying
that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by the truth;
Your word is truth.
18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

We are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are completed and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.

Justification is a pronouncement to clear the guilty. When one is justified, he is declared right before the Lord; he is pardoned and cleared of any violation. Romans 8:1(HCSB) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,To have “no condemnation” declared means to be found innocent of the accusation, to have no sentence inflicted and no guilty verdict found. By the grace of God, believers in Jesus Christ will not face the condemnation of God.

Romans 5:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:9 (ESV) Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

We are SAVED from the WRATH of GOD!!!

Our justification is by faith in the work of the Son of God on the cross, his shed blood and death for forgiveness of our sins. Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is imparted to the sinner, so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous. This righteousness is not earned or retained by any effort of the saved.  Justification is an instantaneous occurrence with the result being eternal life.  It is based completely and solely upon Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and is received by faith alone.  No works are necessary whatsoever to obtain justification.  Otherwise, it is not a gift.

Therefore, we are justified by faith. NOT by WORKS.  It is by the Grace of God that we are saved.

Parable 11 Wheat and Weeds

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/wdrkc-8c49f7?from=yiiadmin

Matthew 13:24-30(HCSB)24 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 28 “ ‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “ ‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. 29 “ ‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’ ”

The New American Commentary: Matthew 13:24–30 Jesus is apparently speaking to the crowds again (cf. v. 36). Many are no doubt wondering: If the kingdom of heaven has arrived, why has it not triumphed more obviously and widespread? If Jesus is its proclaimer, why is response to him not more positive from all? In the narrative of I Maccabees, after Antiochus IV issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modiin, Mattathias the Hasmonean, sparked the revolt against the Seleucid Empire by refusing to worship the Greek gods. Mattathias killed a Hellenistic Jew who had stepped forward to take Mattathias’s place in sacrificing to an idol. Afterwards, he and his five sons fled to the wilderness of Judah. After Mattathias’s death about one year later in 166 BC, his son Judas Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty in guerrilla warfare, which at first was directed against Hellenized Jews, of whom there were many. The Maccabees destroyed pagan altars in the villages, circumcised boys and forced Hellenized Jews into outlawry. The term “Maccabees” used to describe the Jewish army is taken from the Hebrew word for “hammer”.

The revolt itself involved many battles, After the victory, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, (because the Abomination of Desolation that happened when Antiochius IV sacrificed a pig in the temple and made the Jews eat it)of the reestablishing traditional Jewish worship there and installing Jonathan Maccabee as high priest. A large Seleucid army was sent to quash the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antiochus IV. Beforehand, Judas Maccabbeus made an agreement with Rome and became allied, tying the hands of the weaker Seleucid Empire. Hannukah Celebrates this revolt.

Then another revolt happened ion 66-73 AD which led to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, then another happened in 135AD which was sparked by Simon Bar Kokhba who said he was the real messiah. He led the revolt against the Roman empire which led to the Jews being exiled out of Israel in 135 until 1948.

At the agricultural level, the story is not very realistic, although sabotage did occasionally occur. But the meaning, of course, remains at the spiritual level. The weeds (zizania) are more literally darnel, often at first indistinguishable from wheat. Just as the wheat and weeds were often superficially similar in appearance and if sown too close to each other were too intermingled in their root systems to be pulled up separately, so too God’s people are sometimes outwardly hard to distinguish from his enemies. They can be too interconnected with them in society for anyone to try to purify the world from evil without hurting those who are good. Nevertheless, in Jesus’ society many Zealots, and at times even his disciples (cf. Luke 9:54), were often eager for precisely this to happen. Jesus warns them they must wait for the final judgment.

Jesus’ principle here applies in every age to the question of why God allows evil and suffering in the world. His creation can be purged of all evil only through the judgment and re-creation of the universe at the end of the age because evil resides in every person. God’s delay in bringing the end of the world is thus entirely gracious, giving people more opportunity to repent (2 Pet 3:9).

Jesus is showing the disciples the extent of the grace and mercy the Father shows humanity. He could in His justice and righteousness send everyone to hell and not give anyone a chance. However He is a patient God.

God is Patient, Shows Grace and Mercy and is above all Righteous.

  1. God is Patient with us in our sins.

2 Peter 3:8-13(HCSB)8 Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. 10 But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; u on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12 as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. 13 But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.

The patience of God toward us is absolutely mesmerizing. We can see God’s patience in dealing with Adam and Eve as they fall into sin and as He grants the initial revelation of His covenant of grace. We see the patience of God with the patriarchs and Israel, even with their grumbling in the wilderness. We see His patience throughout the Gospels as Jesus, the Son of God, is being rejected and forsaken. And we see His patience in the establishment of the church in the New Testament. We see His patience in the ups and doens of the church throughout history. He could have wiped us out in our sin but yet while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8(HCSB)God would have been just to kill us straight out the womb. But in His patience He gives us time to hear the gospel and repent.

God displays patience and forbearance with the world. But patience and forbearance ought to lead men and women to repentance. Instead, it encourages unbelievers in their sinful rebellion and mocking of God, and the patience of God is then turned into a rationing in their minds to rebel further against God. This does nothing more than store up greater judgment because of their ungodly response to His kind patience.

Romans 2:4-5(HCSB) Or do you despise the riches of His kindness,restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. 

  1. God is full of Grace and Mercy

Mercy and grace are often confused. The difference: mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.

According to the Bible, we have all sinned Romans 3:23(HCSB) 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result of that sin, we all deserve death and hell. (Romans 6:23(HCSB) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. With that in mind, every day we live is an act of God’s mercy. If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be, right now, condemned for eternity. David cries out in Psalm 51:1-2(ESV)”Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” A plea to God for mercy is asking Him to withhold the judgment we deserve and instead grant to us the forgiveness we in no way have earned.

We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5). Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Rescued from judgment by God’s mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive beyond that mercy (Romans 3:24(HCSB) 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Common grace refers to the sovereign grace which God bestows on all of mankind regardless of their spiritual standing before Him, while saving grace is that special type of grace whereby God sovereignly bestows unmerited divine assistance through the Holy Spirit upon His elect for their regeneration and sanctification.

  1. God is Righteous

Some say God is just and fair, if God were completely “fair,”, we would all spend eternity in hell paying for our sin, which is exactly what we deserve. If we “fairly” received what we deserve, we would end up in the lake of fire. The righteousness of God, one of the most prominent attributes of God in the Scriptures, is also one of the most elusive. Initially, distinguishing the righteousness of God from His holiness or His goodness seems difficult. In addition, the righteousness of God is virtually synonymous with His justice:

While the most common Old Testament word for just means ‘straight,’ and the New Testament word means ‘equal,’ in a moral sense they both mean ‘right.’ When we say that God is just, we are saying that He always does what is right, what should be done, and that He does it consistently, without partiality or prejudice. The word just and the word righteous are identical in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sometimes the translators render the original word ‘just’ and other times ‘righteous’ with no apparent reason (cf. Nehemiah 9:8 and 9:33 where the same word is used). But whichever word they use, it means essentially the same thing. It has to do with God’s actions. They are always right and just. Psalm 119:137-138(HCSB) 137 You are righteous, Lord, and Your judgments are just. 138 The decrees You issue are righteous and altogether trustworthy. God’s righteousness (or justice) is the natural expression of His holiness. If He is infinitely pure, then He must be opposed to all sin, and that opposition to sin must be demonstrated in His treatment of His creatures. When we read that God is righteous or just, we are being assured that His actions toward us are in perfect agreement with His holy nature.

Deuteronomy 32:4(HCSB) The Rock—His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, He is righteous and true. God always acts righteously; His every action is consistent with His character. God is always consistently “Godly.” God is not defined by the term “righteous,” as much as the term “righteous” is defined by God. God is not measured by the standard of righteousness; God sets the standard of righteousness.

Psalm 96:11-13(HCSB) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound.12 Let the fields and everything in them exult. Then all the trees of the forest will shout for joy 13 before the Lord, for He is coming—for He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with His faithfulness.

​ Jesus reserves an interpretation of the specific details of the passage for a more private audience with his disciples. Jesus Interprets the Wheat and the Weeds.

Matthew 13:36-43(HCSB) 36 Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”

37 He replied: “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness.  42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

From the actions of the farmer and the fate of the wheat and weeds, we learn that God will permit the righteous and wicked to coexist in this age but that he will eventually separate the wicked, judge them, and destroy them, while gathering the righteous together to be rewarded by enjoying his presence forever. This event will happen at one time everyone will be harvested together and separated at judgement.

Revelation 20:11-15 (ESV) Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

Parable 10 Barren Fig Tree

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/7rkdm-86bec6?from=yiiadmin

Jesus told the Parable of the Fig Tree immediately after reminding His listeners of a tower over the pool of Siloam which unexpectedly fell and killed eighteen people. The moral of that story is found in Luke 13:3(ESV)No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. To reiterate this moral, Jesus tells the story of the fig tree, the vineyard owner, and the gardener who took care of the vineyard.

Luke 13:6-9(ESV)And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Fig trees were planted in vineyards and taken care of by gardeners who worked for the owners of the vineyard.

The fig trees represents us/the church, the owner represents God and the gardener is Jesus interceding for us. God is basically saying all these trees (Church goers) are bearing fruit but this one is not, so cut it down and remove it, then Jesus intercedes and says 1 more year let me dig around it and put manure, then if it still does not bear fruit then remove it.

Healthy Fig trees that are fruit producing are pruned very little. The thinning stimulates new growth and it increases fruit size. Fig trees that do not produce fruit are pruned/thinned out meaning the diseased, weak and dead limbs are cut off during the dormant season, then in the following season if it doesn’t produce fruit they are chopped down and burned.

In the parable Jesus is pleading the case with the creator God to have mercy on the people who look like the other Christians but bear no fruit. He is saying let me prune them and put manure on them and if that doesn’t work then cut them down and burn them. Pruning is a good thing and most of time we think we are going through stuff, we think the whole world is against us, God is far from us but it is a pruning to produce fruit and it could possibly the last pruning. The manure we sometimes endure is healthy for us to produce fruit later on. Manure is used a fertilizer. We need discernment to recognize what is going on. People, jobs, things, places etc are pruned from our lives and we think it is so horrible but in all actuality it’s a pruning. Those things were the diseased, dead and weak limbs keeping us from bearing fruit.

Jesus is very serious when it comes to not letting anything get in the way of Him and you! He is very serious about the pruning process. God cares more about your Holiness than your worldly relationships.

 Matthew 10:34 (NLT)“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. 35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.36  Your enemies will be right in your own household!’37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

Here’s the question that is seeking to be answered by the parable: Does God care about results, yes or no? Yes, God cares about results. God cares about effectiveness. Here the word that encompasses all of that is “fruit,” “fruit.” God cares about fruitfulness. Fruitfulness here is good works. Good works, obedience, a changed life, living a kind of life that makes a difference, that when your life on the earth is done, people miss you because you were a gift to them. You were a channel of God’s grace to them. You provided wisdom or generosity or help or service or rebuke or encouragement. That you were giving. That you were fruitful. That your life counted. That you weren’t just a consumer, you were a producer. You didn’t just take from everyone and everything, but you gave and they were blessed by you.

And this is different than religion. Religion teaches that we’re saved by our fruit, that we’re saved by our good works, that if you live a moral life and you’re a good decent person that you will stand before God and he’ll find you pleasing in his sight in the end. Essentially the essence of all religion is the same: that you work hard, bear much fruit, God then judges on a curve and if you were better than most he finds you pleasing in his sight. We don’t believe that at all.

We don’t believe that we’re saved by our fruit, but rather we’re the fruit of the work of Jesus. Jesus lived the perfect life, not us. Jesus paid the penalty for sin on the cross so that we don’t have to. Jesus rose to give the gift we don’t deserve: salvation, eternal life, citizenship, and adoption into the family of God. But some of you have misunderstood Christianity. Some of you, particularly who were raised in the church or maybe gave your life to Jesus when you were young, you misunderstood the gospel. And you thought, “Belong to Jesus, give your life to Jesus, give your heart to Jesus, and when you die you get to go to heaven.” That’s almost true but it’s missing something called life.

It’s not about just belonging to Jesus and going to heaven. It’s about belonging to Jesus, living a fruitful life, and then going to heaven for an eternal reward. Your life counts, your life matters. God has fruit for you to bear. He has good works for you to do. He has things for you to accomplish. Not so that you can become a Christian, but because you are. Not so that you’ll become pleasing in his sight, but because through Christ you already pleasing in His sight.

Ephesians 2:8–(ESV)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. So we’re not saved by good works, or to use the parable, our fruit, but we’re saved to our good works, to our fruitfulness. Once you meet Jesus, you’re supposed to become increasingly fruitful, a little more fruitful every year throughout the course of your life, demonstrating the character, love, affection, generosity of God because you’re in Christ. And Jesus says in John 15:1-8(HCSB)  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

“If you abide in me, I’ll abide in you and you’ll bear much,” what? “Fruit.” Fruit that will last.

This is God’s vineyard. We’re all fig trees. And it’s a good time for us to look back on the previous year and then to look at our own life and ask, “How many figs were on my tree last year? Was I fruitful? Did I bear good fruit last year?” Some of us were very fruitful, praise God, by the grace of God we’ll be more fruitful this year we hope and pray. Some of you would say, “Well, there were areas of my life that were very fruitful.” And we’d say, “Rejoice in those, praise God for every fig.” But my assumption is, because we’re all sinners in a fallen world, there are at least a few branches on our tree that were not very fruitful last year.

HOW TO BE FRUITFUL
Let’s look at a few principles for being fruitful, and I hope and I trust and I pray that your desire would be fruitfulness. Don’t be ashamed of the areas that you are not bearing fruit. Be honest about them. Don’t punt the ball and defend yourselves. Don’t blame other people. Don’t make excuses and don’t settle for fruitlessness. By the grace of God, we all can be fruitful.

  1. CULTIVATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
    How to be fruitful, number one, cultivate your relationship with the Holy Spirit.
    Galatians 5:19-23HCSB) 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy,outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

In Galatians 5:22 it speaks of the what of the Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit. How do you get fruit? Fruit—good works, changed character, new life, helpfulness to other people—comes out of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Friends, fruitfulness is not what we do for God. It’s what God does for us. It’s what he does in us and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s what he does through us.

We cannot look at the Father as a manager with a clipboard saying, “What have you done for me this year?,What have you done for me lately?” Look at Him as a friend who sent the Holy Spirit, who’s there to help, Jesus as a gardener who’s willing to prune us. And the seed of new life, and the seed of fruitfulness, is the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. That’s the seed from which new life and fruitfulness come. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in every Christian upon salvation.

See, the non-Christian lives a natural life by their own willpower and strength. That’s why their New Year resolutions don’t work. Willpower only lasts so long. Instead, Christians live a supernatural life not by their own power but by the power of the Holy Spirit, that God is at work in us, that God is at work through us, so that we can be fruitful. So you want to cultivate your relationship with the Holy Spirit. Get to know, love and enjoy the Holy Spirit.

A couple simple ways to do this. Number one is regular Bible reading, regular Bible reading. Something that basically all Christians believe but not all Christians obey. God the Holy Spirit, through human authors, he wrote the sixty-six books of the Bible. And through the Scriptures, this is the primary means by which God speaks to us. And so when you pick up your Bible and you pray and ask God the Holy Spirit to meet you, you’ll learn Scripture.

Pray, pray for people, pray for yourself, pray for your needs. That’s how we communicate with God and that’s how you cultivate your relationship with the Holy Spirit, listening to God, talking to God.

All right, what do you need to do, how do you need to reorganize your life to be filled with the Holy Spirit? When he convicts you of sin, stop and listen. Don’t quench, grieve, resist, fight. When he lays something on your heart, go with it. All right, be led, filled, directed by the Holy Spirit. That will cultivate fruitfulness in your life.

  1. REPENT OF SINS OF COMMISSION AND OMISSION.
    Number two, repent of sins of commission and omission. Sins of commission are the occasions when we do what we’re not supposed to do. Omission is when we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. Much of our fruitlessness or our lack of fruitfulness is the result of sins of omission. So repent of your sins of commission, meaning if you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing, stop doing it by the grace of God. Stop doing it.

But what about those things that you should be doing that you’re not? I’ll give you an example. You may say, “I didn’t steal any money last year.” That would be a sin of commission, you’re not supposed to steal. What about your sin of omission? Were you generous? “No.” Okay. “Well, I didn’t hurt anybody!” Yeah, but did you help anybody? “Oh yeah.” See, our goal is not just to abstain from evil, but to be fruitful. So it’s looking at those areas of your life, saying, “Yeah, last year I didn’t do this, I didn’t do this, I didn’t do this. There were some things that, yeah, I was supposed to do and I didn’t do them.” All right, those things that you neglected, they reduced your fruitfulness. So repent of what you weren’t supposed to do and did do and what you were supposed to do and didn’t do.

  1. COUNT YOUR FIGS.
    Count your figs. Take a measurement of your fruit. Now, I’ll extend the analogy. This guy owns a vineyard, apparently he’s got all the trees numbered and he keeps an annual accounting of all of the trees. And he goes to tree number twenty-seven and says, “Tree number twenty-seven has had zero figs three years running.” Some of you say, “I don’t like numbers. I’m not good with numbers.” You got to learn to count your figs. You won’t make changes in your life unless you’re tracking it, keeping an accounting and a reconciling of it. That’s the point of the parable. He’s got an idea of where his figs are coming from and where there is fruitlessness.
  2. MEASURE FRUITFULNESS, NOT BUSYNESS.
    Number four, measure fruitfulness, not busyness. This one’s huge. Some of you say, “I’m busy! I’m active! I’m so busy, I’m committed to every—” but are you fruitful? There’s a big difference between busyness and fruitfulness. Some people, they are filled with coffee. They’re returning e-mails, talking on the phone, texting while they’re driving, doing their make-up and their hair while driving on their way to work. I mean, they’re multi-taskers, they’re busy, they’re active, they’re rushed. They’re always late, they’re not emotionally present when they’re there with you. They’re taking calls over dinner, I mean they—stuff’s falling through the cracks. They’re not sleeping enough, they’re stressed out and shaking. “I’m so busy!” And what they want is compassion. What they need is fruitfulness. Some of you need to learn to say, “I can’t do that, I can’t do that. I need to see three things through to completion rather than seven things through to incompletion. I need to be fruitful, not just busy.”
  3. LEARN FROM FRUITFUL PEOPLE.
    Number five, learn from fruitful people. So here’s what you need to do. Find people who are fruitful where you’re not very fruitful. And don’t call them up and say, “I would like a mentor. Can we meet every Tuesday for the rest of my life?” Because they’ll say, “I’m busy.” What you need to do is figure out where you lack fruit, find someone who is fruitful, and then start paying attention to why they are fruitful.

Wisdom is found in the Bible first. It’s also in books. And it’s also in God’s people. So you go to those people and you extract that wisdom as a gift. But to do so, number one, prayerfully consider what questions you’ll ask in advance. Write those questions down. Don’t waste their time, it’s a treasure. Number two, humbly ask them. “Could I get thirty minutes of your time?” I won’t waste it. I’ve got a couple questions I would really like your help on so that I could become more fruitful in my life. And I promise you if you tell me things I’ll do them. I will not be a waste of time.” And then, if you ask them, what do you think they will say? “Sure.” Fruitful people love to help make other people fruitful.

  1. USE YOUR MANURE.
    In the analogy and in the parable, Jesus says to get figs, first you need manure. Now if I came to you today and I said, “Would you like some Fig perserve?” You would say, “Why yes.” “Oh, and by the way, it comes with manure.” You’d say, “Can I just—can I just get the Fig preserve on a cracker? I would like the Fig perserve without the manure.” But here’s the point of the simple analogy and the parable. It takes manure to get a fig. Amen?

Okay, now let me tell you how this applies to your life. You look at your life right now, where’s the manure? Where’s the manure? Is it in your marriage? You say, “Yeah, my marriage is a big pile of manure. I got a lot of manure there. Yeah.” Is it your finances? “Oh, yeah, my finances. I go to the ATM, and I hit the button and manure comes out, not money. How about your walk with God? You say, “Yeah, this last year, woo-hoo. Yeah, a lot more manure than figs.”

All right, and some of you, when you get a lot of manure in your life, and sometimes it’s suffering, it’s hardship, it’s pain, it’s loss, it’s failure, it’s trauma, it’s trials. You know what? It just stinks. And some of you will look at it and you’ll say, “You know what, God? How come you don’t love me? How come you’re not good to me? How come you don’t care about me? How come you’re not helping me? You know, this part of my life, or maybe my whole life, it’s just manure!” God would say, “I love you so much that I gave you that manure. And I’m digging around the roots and I’m putting the manure on your roots because I have a whole lot of figs in your future.”

So it takes a while to go from manure to fruit. Who do you think the best counselors are for drug addicts? Those who have been drug addicts. Those people who have the best insight to help someone dying of cancer is someone who has battled cancer. Those people who have the greatest insights on marriage are those whose marriage has endured some manure. Those people who have tremendous insights, wisdom, gifts to give, generally speaking, it started for them with a lot of manure in their life. Something painful, stinky, hard, difficult, disappointing, maybe even embarrassing. But by the grace of God, you don’t waste your manure. You use your manure and eventually there’s a harvest. There’s fruitfulness. The scripture that sticks out here is that the gardener pleas with the owner to let him put the manure to produce the fruit. Sometimes it is the gardener putting the manure so we can produce his fruit.

I want you to be encouraged. I want you to be hopeful. I want you not to give up. I do want you to use your manure. Whatever right now stinks the most in your life could be something that God uses for an enormous harvest. And some of you say, “You have no idea how much manure I have.” Well then you have no idea how many figs are going to come. God apparently has a big harvest for you in fruitfulness and righteousness and ministry and testimony and service. He does. He’s not angry and looking at you today saying, “I’m here to cut you down.” He’s here to say, “I have great hope for that little tree and what stinks today will be joy tomorrow and fruitfulness if you will use it.” Amen?

 

Parable 9 Soils

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/sweuh-86bc4e?from=yiiadmin

This parable is in all three of the synoptic gospels. Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. The Parable of the Sower (also known as the Parable of the Four Soils) is found in Matthew 13:3-9; Mark 4:2-9; and Luke 8:4-8. After presenting this parable to the multitude, Jesus interprets it for His disciples.

Matthew 13:1-23(HCSB) On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea.Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.

Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown. Anyone who has ears should listen!”

Why Jesus Used Parables

10 Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

11 He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them.12 For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You will listen and listen,
yet never understand;
and you will look and look,
yet never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown callous;
their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn back—
and I would cure them.

16 “But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! 17 For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.

18 “You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. 20 And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”

What we have done in the American Church is move from evaneglism to salesmanship, we stopped making disciples and started selling a product. We dumb down the gospel, make programs, make our worship sound sensual and man centered. One thing to notice about this parable, 100% of the seeds went out but 66% of the soils did not produce fruit.

 

The Parable of the Sower concerns a sower who scatters seed, which falls on four different types of ground. The hard ground “by the way side” prevents the seed from sprouting at all, and the seed becomes nothing more than bird food. The stony ground provides enough soil for the seeds to germinate and begin to grow, but because there is “no deepness of earth,” the plants do not take root and are soon withered in the sun. The thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but the competing thorns choke the life out of the beneficial plants. The good ground receives the seed and produces much fruit.

“Now the preacher of the gospel is like the sower. He does not make his seed; the seed is given him by his Master. It would not be possible for a man to make the smallest seed that ever germinated upon the earth, much less that celestial seed of eternal life. What the minister has to do, is to go forth in his Master’s name and scatter precious truth. If he knew where the best soil was to be found, he might limit himself to that which had been prepared by the Holy Spirit with the plow of conviction. But not knowing men’s hearts, it is his business to preach the gospel to every creature—to throw a handful on that hard heart over there, and another handful on that overgrown heart, which is full of cares and riches and pleasures of this world. He has to leave the fate of the seed in the care of the Master who gave it to him, for he understands that he is not responsible for the harvest, he is only responsible for the care, the fidelity, and the integrity with which he scatters the seed, right and left with both his hands.”[1]

 

First of all, then, I am to address myself to those hearts which are like the path—“As he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up.” There are many of you who did not come here this morning to get a blessing. You did not intend to worship God, or to be affected by anything that you might hear. You are like the highway which was never intended to be a fruitful field. If a single grain of truth should fall into your heart and grow it would be a miracle, as great a wonder as for the seed to grow upon the hardly-trampled wayside. You are the path hearer. If the seed, however, shall be cleverly scattered, some of it will fall upon you and rest for a while upon your thoughts. It is true you will not understand it, but nevertheless if it would be placed before you in an interesting style, it will stick for a short little season. Until some more exciting entertainment would attract you, then you may talk the language of which you once heard. But even this small benefit is brief, for in a very short season you will forget what manner of person you are. I would want to be able to hope that the words spoken to you would penetrate the soil, but we cannot hope it, for the soil of your heart is so well beaten by continual traffic, that there is no hope of the seed finding a lasting and living roothold down its roots. There is too much traffic in your soul to let the good seed remain uncrushed. Matthew 13:19 When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. The foot of Satan is always passing over your heart, with his herd of blasphemies, lusts, lies, and vanities. Then the chariots of pride roll along it, and the feet of greedy ambition tread it till it is hard as steel. Crowds pass and repass; in fact, your heart is in an exchange, continually passing across your heart are the busy feet of the merchants, that make merchandise with the hearts of men. You are buying and selling, but you think very little that you are selling the truth, and that you are buying your soul’s destruction; you are busy here and there, but you are negligent of that internal, precious thing, your spirit, your heart. You have no time, you say, to think of the Word of God. The road of your heart is such a crowded interstate, that there is no room for this seed to spring up. If it did begin to germinate, some rough foot would crush the small tender sprout before it could grow into anything. There have been times with you when the seed has lain long enough to begin to germinate, but just then there was some place of amusement open, and you entered there, and as with an iron shovel, the spark of life that was in the seed was crushed out; it had fallen in the wrong place; there was too much traffic there for it possibly to grow. [2]

We have marked this hard road-side path, let us now describe what becomes of the good word, when it falls upon his heart. It does not grow, it would have grown if it had fallen on right soil, but it is in the wrong place, and it remains as dry as when it fell from the sower’s hand. Its life lies asleep, the life-germ in the gospel hides itself, and it lies upon the surface of the heart, but never enters into it. The word has not time to quicken in the souls of such casual hearers of it. It lies there an instant, but it never begins to strike its root, or to take the slightest effect. But we say, why do men come to hear if the word is never made useful to them, and never enters the heart? That has often puzzled me; there are some of our hearers who would not be absent on the Sunday for all the world, and who seem to be quite delighted to come up with us to worship, but yet the tear never trickles down their cheek, their soul never seems mounting up to heaven on the wings of praise, nor are they truly convicted of sin. Spurgeon says of these hearts “Do they ever think about the wrath to come, or the future state of their souls? Their heart is iron; the minister might as well preach to a heap of stones as preach to them. What brings these senseless sinners here? Shall we talk to brows of brass and hearts of steel? Surely we are as hopeful of converting lions and leopards as these untamed, unmoved hearts.” [3]

 

  1. The second set of hearers. Matthew 13:5-6(HCSB) Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep.But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. You can easily picture that piece of rock sticking out in the middle of the field. By some disruption of nature, it has been thrust upwards into the middle of the plain, and of course the seed falls there as it does everywhere else. We have hearers who cause us more pleasure and yet more subsequent pain than many of you would believe. None but those who love the souls of men can tell what hopes, what joy, and what bitter taste of our expectations to the ground these stony places have caused us. We have a class of hearers whose hearts inwardly are very hard, but outwardly they are apparently the softest and most impressable of men. While other men see nothing in the sermon, these men weep. It is but an ordinary sermon to the most of the hearers, but these men are affected to tears. Whether you preach the terrors of the law or the love of the Cross, they are stirred the same in their souls, and the liveliest of impressions are apparently produced. They are not the sturdy enemies of God who clothe themselves in steel, but they seem to bare their breasts, and lay them open, and say to the minister, “Cut here; here is a naked breast for you. Here aim your arrows. They shall find a home here.” Rejoiced in heart, we shoot our arrows there, and they appear to penetrate; but there is a secret armor worn underneath the flesh which blunts every arrow, and though it stays awhile, it falls away, and no work is done. We read of this character under this language— Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep.But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered.  And then Jesus explains it in verse 20-21 2And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecutioncomes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. “Have we not seen many people who receive the word with joy? They have no deep convictions,but they leap into Christ on a sudden, and profess an instantaneous faith in him, and that faith too has all the appearance of being genuine. When we look at it, the seed has really sprouted. There is a kind of life in it, there is the real small plant. We thank God, and bow our knees, and clap our hands—there is a sinner saved, there is an heir of heaven. But our joy is premature—they sprang up on a sudden, and received the word with joy, because they had no depth of earth, and from that very cause which quickened their reception of the seed they withered away when the sun rose with his heat. These men we see every day in the week. They often come to join the Church; they tell us a story of how they heard us preach on such-and-such an occasion, and oh the word was so blessed to them, they never felt so happy in their lives! They hate the things they once loved. Everything has become new to them and this is all of a sudden. We enquire when the good work began. We find it began when it ended, that is to say, there was no previous work, no ploughing of the soil, but on a sudden they sprang from death to life and out of condemnation into grace, as a man standing on the edge of a river might leap into the flood Still we are very thankful for these men. We cannot deny that there seems to be every appearance of grace. Perhaps we receive them into the Church; but in a week or two they are not so regular as they used to be at a place of worship. We gently ask simple questions to find out how they are doing spiritually. Another week and we lose them altogether. The reason is that they have been exposed to a little opposition, and they have gone back to their old ways.[4]

They use flattery and fluff to make everyone around them think they are genuine, but when the heat comes on them to truly change they cut and run. They find another place of Worship to start the process all over again or they go back to their old ways. They cannot stand under the furnance of affliction.

If it is bad to be like the path hearer, it is not much better to be like the rock hearer. And yet this second class of hearers certainly give us more joy than the first. There is a sort of people who always come round a new minister; These type of people who are easily moved, and if he preaches earnestly they feel it, and they “love” him, and they gather round him with flattery But time, that proves all things, proves them. They seemed to be made of good and true metal, but they are put in the fire, they are tested, they are proved, they are consumed in the furnace. 1 Peter 1:6-7(HCSB) You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  I have looked at these when I have been preached, and I have often thought, “There, that man one of these days will come out from the world, I am sure he will.” But these years we have preached to them, counseled them and they are the same as they always were. Are those years of wasted efforts? are those years of warnings rejected and offers to repent refused?

 

III. The third set of people have thorny hearts. Matthew 13: 7(HCSB)Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Now this was good soil. The two first characters were bad; the path was not the proper place, the rock was not an ideal situation for the growth of any plant, but this is good soil, for it grows thorns. A soil that will grow thorns, will surely grow seed. Wherever the thorn will spring up and flourish, the seed would flourish as well. This was the right rich and fertile soil; it was no marvel therefore that the sower planted there often, and threw handful after handful upon that field. He will be happy in a month or two when he visits the spot. The seed has sprung up. Also, there’s a suspicious little plant down there of about the same size as the sprout. “Oh!” he thinks, “that’s not much, the plant will outgrow that; when it comes up it will choke these few thistles that have unfortunately mixed with it.” Mr. Sower you do not understand the force of evil, or you would not dream! He comes again, and the seed has grown, there is even some small evidence that there may be fruit, but the thistles, the thorns, and the briars have become intertwisted with one another, and the poor plant can hardly get a ray of sunshine. It is so entangled with branches it has an absence of sunlight, it looks yellow and has a shallow hue. Still it lives; it perseveres in growing, and it does seem as if it would bring forth a little fruit, but it never comes to anything. With it the reaper never fills his arm. There is the sign of fruit, but there is no reality in it, it brings forth no fruit.

Now we have this class very largely among us. We have the gentlemen and ladies who come up to hear the word, and they understand what they hear too. They are not ignorant and unenlightened men and women, who cast away what they have heard. We are not throwing pearls before swine when we preach to them, but they collect and treasure up the words of truth; they take them home; they think them over; they come, they come, they come again. They even go the length of making a profession of faith. The seeds seems to bud, and bloom and blossom, it will soon come to perfection. Be in no hurry, these men and women have a great deal?? see after; they have the cares of a large concern; their establishment employs so many people; do not be deceived about their godliness—they have no time for it. They will tell you that they must live; that they cannot neglect this world; that they must anyhow look out for the present, and as for the future, they think they will be able to take care of that in the sweet by-and-bye. They continue to attend, and that poor little dwindled sprout keeps on growing: and now they have got rich, they have all that heart can wish now. They have no cares now; the money is in the bank, they live in the subdivison; they do not have to ask, “Where shall the money come from to pay the next bill;” or “how they shall be able to provide for the family.” No, now they have too much instead of too little, for they have their riches. “Well but,” says one, “they might spend their riches for God; they might be talents that they could put out at interest.” Oh! no, it is not that; their riches are deceitful. Now they have to entertain many friends, now they must ho respectable, now they must think about becoming members of the country club, now they must have all the deceitfulness which riches can possibly give them. Yes, but they begin to spend their riches, so they have surely got over that difficulty. They give largely to the cause of Christ, they are generous in the cause of charity; now that little sprout will grow, will it not? No, for now behold the thorns of pleasure. Their liberty to others involves liberty to themselves; they take pleasure in what they have, but at the same time these pleasures become so tall and so big that they choke the plant, and the good grains of gospel truth cannot grow because they have this pleasure, that entertaining party, so they cannot attend to the things of God, because the pleasures of this world choke the seed.

 

  1. Now for the last character, the good ground. The ground was good; not that it was good by nature, but it had been made good by grace. The Holy Spirit had plowed it; he had stirred it up with the plow of conviction, and there it lay in ridge and furrow as it should. And when the Gospel was preached, the heart received it, for the man said, “That’s the Christ I want. Mercy!” said he, “it’s just what a needy sinner requires. A refuge! God help me to fly to it, for a refuge I want.” So that the preaching of the gospel was the thing to give comfort to this disturbed and plowed soil. The seed fell down; it sprung up. In some cases it produced a fervency of love, a largeness of heart, a devotedness of purpose, like seed which produced a hundredfold. The man became a mighty servant for God, he spent himself and was spent. He took his place in the ranks of Christ’s army, stood in the hottest of the battle, and did daring deeds which few could accomplish,—the seed produced a hundredfold. It fell in another heart of like character;—the man could not do the most, still he did much. He gave himself, just as he was, up to God, and in his business he had a word to say for the business of the world to come. In his daily walk, he quietly adorned the doctrine of God his Savior,—he brought forth sixtyfold. Then it fell on another, whose abilities and talents were but small; he could not be a star, but he would be a glow-worm; he could not do as the greatest, but he was content to do something, even though it were the least. The seed had brought forth in him tenfold, perhaps twentyfold. Is there one who prays within himself, “O Lord save me; God be merciful to me a sinner?” The seed has fallen in the right spot! God never sets a man longing for mercy and salvation without intending to give it.

 

Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Sower highlights four different responses to the gospel. The seed is “the word of the kingdom.” The hard ground represents someone who is hardened by sin; he hears but does not understand the Word, and Satan plucks the message away, keeping the heart dull and preventing the Word from making an impression. The stony ground pictures a man who professes delight with the Word; however, his heart is not changed, and when trouble arises, his so-called faith quickly disappears. The thorny ground depicts one who seems to receive the Word, but whose heart is full of riches, pleasures, and lusts; the things of this world take his time and attention away from the Word, and he ends up having no time for it. The good ground portrays the one who hears, understands, and receives the Word—and then allows the Word to accomplish its result in his life. The man represented by the “good ground” is the only one of the four who is truly saved, because salvation’s proof is fruit. To summarize the point of the Parable of the Sower: “A man’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart.” A secondary lesson would be “Salvation is more than a superficial, albeit joyful, hearing of the gospel. Someone who is truly saved will go on to prove it.” May our faith and our lives exemplify the “good soil” in the Parable of the Sower.

 

What a solemn thought it is—to think of these great Sunday gatherings these many years, coming and going, coming and going, and so many yet unsaved! How many out of these millions of people every Sunday hear with deaf ears, are not moved in their souls, but continue as they were, dead in trespasses and in sins! Oh, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, lest now, even while you are here, God’s wrath should burn, and his swift justice overtake you:—

“Come, guilty souls, and flee away,

To Christ, and heal your wounds;

This is the welcome gospel-day,

Wherein free grace abounds.”[5]

 



[1] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Parable of the Sower,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 173.

[2] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Parable of the Sower,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 174.

[3] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Parable of the Sower,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 175.

[4] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Parable of the Sower,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 176–177.

[5] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Parable of the Sower,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 179–180.