Calvin’s Concerns – Choice Meats

In our previous post, I tried to give some of my interactions and history with the Calvinistic thought process and teachings.

With this post, I would like to introduce you to the teacher I referred to earlier. He is a former Calvinist also, and has recanted, and has become a bit of a lightning rod for provisionism soteriology teaching.

Many of his videos are quite lengthy, and have kept my interest now for weeks. What I would like to do is offer his “60 Second Soteriology” clips to introduce you to Mr Leighton Flowers.

I do hope you will consider the teaching with an open mind.


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Calvin’s Concerns – A Contradiction?

As you may remember, I lived as a Calvinist for a number of years, teaching the “doctrines of grace” in a Sunday School Class for Adults, and in Small Group studies for years.

During this time, certain verses and passages seemed to niggle at the back of my mind, but I sought to ignore them and refused to consider alternate ways of looking at the Word, and the God of the Bible.

Certain verses seemed to be in contradiction with the general teaching of Calvin.

One of those teachings were the apparent hatred God has for some sinners, to the point where He would not allow regeneration of their souls prior to their activating the faith required to please God. Yes – that is a common teaching in the reformed thought, that God regenerates a lost sinner prior to the sinner responding to the call of salvation.

Any sinner that is not regenerated, given life eternal, is relegated to eternal suffering. This brings up a number of issues in my mind, which include the justice of God in condemning a sinner for not able to respond to the Gospel of Christ.

Nevertheless, the topic I want to consider is the Love of God in relation to the sinner.

Many times in the New Testament, (golly – bunches of times in the Old Testament) believers are enjoined to love thier enemies.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

or

Romans 12:20

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

What has that got to do with Calvinism? The doctrines of grace teach that God does not love His enemies, but of the destruction and eternal torment of sinners, the enemies of God. They will suffer throughout eternity and this will supposedly bring glory and honor to the Father.

Wait a minute

We are told to imitate Him, as dear children.

Ephesians 5:1

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

or, consider

 Matthew 5:48

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So what is your point Carl?

Are we to hate our enemies or love them? If we follow the teaching of Calvin, it seems in order to follow our Father in relation to His enemies, we would have the right to do damage to them. After all, according to the God depicted by Calvin, destruction of the enemies of God pleases Him.

Never mind all the passages that speak of our not taking revenge, or that God is love. I found that once I admitted to myself that the logic of Calvinism had some weakness, the whole scheme tumbled down.

If you are considering the teaching of Calvin, remember to keep a gentle spirit, an open mind to the passages of Scripture that give you pause, and flee from the pride of a “higher spirituality”

To be loved by the suffering Savior and His gracious Father is enough.


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Calvin’s Concerns – Discussions

A few weeks back, I published the first of a series of posts offering 60 second video discussions on alternatives to the popular Calvinistic teaching in our churches these days.

The videos were provided by Dr. Leighton Flowers, and addressed a number of topics that related to Calvinism and it’s resultant effects on the believer.

Since then, I have received a number of comments in response to the videos, primarily from those that are associated with the reformed thought process (Thinking like Calvin).

Initially, the comments were cordial, but eventually, due to my guests frustration or anger, their responses became heated, to the point that I was instructed to repent and believe the gospel.

Passion to share your faith is commendable, but we must remember that we are called to fight the good fight, not the harsh fight. By that I mean, we are to fight with goodness, love, kindness, and patience. Condemning a brother, (or even a non-believer) usually results in loss of communication and personal offence. With no positive fruit coming from the effort. Trust me – I have spent far too long trying to argue and berate people into the kingdom!!!

These things ought not to be.

James 3:10

Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

I would encourage all to be gracious in our discussions with those we meet, either in our workplace, over the phone, through teleconferencing, or even on a blog post, in a comment section.

John 13:35

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Please look for my next post on Calvin’s Concerns, where I will make an effort to consider a contradiction in Calvinism. Hope to see you there.


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Psalms for Psome – Psalm 2

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we received from this wonderful book.

Knowing we were going to be reading Psalm 2 this evening, I figgered I was ready to discuss, given that I had read this psalm as much as any.

Little did I know that one more time would give me more to be thankful for, and also add a question or two to consider.

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

It seems so obvious to me that the passage here speaks of the rejection and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

Verse 2 speaks of the rulers and the kings counselling together. I take that as the joining of the Jewish leadership and the Gentile lords coming together to reject God. This is a common theme through the Word, where sworn enemies join forces when it comes to fighting against the Creator and Redeemer of all. (Consider Herod and Pilate)

Luke 23:12

And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

It is sobering to realize that those who are against the Lord will team up with absolutely anyone to fight against God.

 
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

The enemy has a united front. The motivation for confrontation is high. The forces against God seem insurmountable. (At least from our perspective.)

But God has set His King on His holy hill.

But when did this happen? When did God set His King on His holy hill? I used to think that He will be enthroned during the millennial Kingdom in the future. Not so sure anymore. There is much debate over this, but as my wife and I chatted, we considered Hebrews 12:22, where the author refers to believers coming (or having come) to Mount Zion.

Heb 12:22

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,

Jesus is the King now. Let us not forget that He is on the throne.

Mat 28:18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Sinful actions, evil men and corrupt systems do not frustrate the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus.


7 I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

This next set of verses are the ones that I intended to discuss with this post, but the earlier ones were too tempting to let go without a bit of comment.

Nevertheless, it is good to remember that the apostles gave us much to consider when they supplied the Spirit’s interpretation of verse 7 in Acts 13:32 – 34

Acts 13:32-34

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers,
this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’
And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

So often I consider the term “begotten” to refer to being born, as in my son was begotten of my wife and I. The apostle corrects this thinking by informing us that the Psalm refers to the resurrection of the Lord.

This psalm speaks of the resurrections of the Lord Jesus and His triumph over the forces arrayed against His Father

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Consider the mercy of God, in that after the resurrection, and by that I mean after the crucifixion and torture inflicted by the kings and rulers, they are entreated to serve the Lord with fear, and to rejoice with trembling

He is not a God I can imagine! He is much more!


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Parable Surprises – The Lamp on a Stand

The last two parables were “twins” of sort, but this one is a stand alone type of parable. This parable is couched in the Sermon on the Mount and describes the believer as a lamp. A lamp that is open to view by all.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Lamp on a Stand

Matthew 5:14-15

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Matthew 5 starts out with Jesus on a mountain, seeing the crowds and the disciples being with Him. It appears that the sermon was intended for the disciples, since Luke 6:20 informs us that

…he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God

The intended audience is the disciples during this time in the Lord’s ministry. So let us understand this parable as being addressed to His followers.

When did the Lord give this parable?

The Sermon on the mount was one of Jesus earliest messages, and many believe it was given in the first year of His ministry.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

No one knows exactly where the mount is, but we can know that this sermon was on “the mount”

Tradition speaks of it being delivered on Mount Eremos, on Galilee’s northwest shore between Gennesaret and Capernaum.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This message, or parable was not given out of answering a question, such as the last two teachings. This parable came directly from the Master, speaking to His followers.

I have understood the beatitudes in different ways at different times in my Christian journey, at one time thinking it didn’t apply to the Christian life, but only to those during a literal thousand year reign of the Lord on the earth.

At this time in my life, I find that teaching to be weak, and that the sermon was given to His followers, or disciples, in order to be understood and followed.

The lamp on a stand applies to disciples. The Lord gave this message to believers.

What was the message for the original audience?

Let’s consider the lamp as a fixture in a room. In the days of the first century, there were likely one lamp in the house, as a single source of light. The purpose of the lamp was to give light. Why would anyone put a lit lamp under a basket?

The lamp produces a certain amount of light, or in our world, the term is a certain number of “lumens”. (Remember a 40 watt bulb? This is the amount of power a light bulb uses to produce light. The light produced from a watt of power is measured in lumens. But I digress!)

No matter where the light is situated, the amount of lumens is the same. Under a basket or on a stand.

Advantageous Use of the Lamp

Placing the lamp on a stand is speaking of the advantageous use of the lamp.

One other item that occurs to me is the number of beneficiaries a lamp can supply light to.

It takes no more power to produce 100 lumens of light to one person as it does to 10 people. The lumens are not used up by the “consumption” of one person or a hundred.

The light expressed from the lamp is effortlessly blessing those who come within sight of its source. The power is not dealt with in this parable, and will not be commented on, but I bet you know Who the power is.

What is the message for us today?

There are two messages that every believer needs to consider from this parable, that I need to hear.

To be a light that is on a stand is the believers place in the kingdom. It is the purpose of the light, and the purpose of the believer, to bless those in their vicinity with their light they have been freely given by the Master.

Find the Power

When I say find the power, I’m not asking anyone to dig deep and find that inner strength. I am becoming more and more convinced that my power is the weakness of my soul, the abject infirmity that keeps me down. My power is a replacement of the true power of God, that I realize I have so little of.

Stand up for Jesus

Stand up for Jesus. Take a stand, in humility and with grace.

I have often made a stand for the Lord Jesus out of pride and hostility, out of fear or religious arrogance. How may I gently, and firmly stand for Jesus, depending on His power and grace? Lord, I ask for your hand and guidance.

You, my Savior, are the only One I can find strength in.

It is my continual proneness to depend on my strength, and I thank you Father for the aging process, where my strength is waning, showing me the emptiness of that source of strength. You are all strength. You are of eternal power. Your strength, Your power, You are the source of all light and life.

Psalm 38:9-10, 21-22

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me. …

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!

22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

David’s heart sought the Lord. This passage speaks to me and hopefully to the reader, that our strength will fail us, and the light of our eyes will fade. But our salvation is the Lord, and in Him is our strength.



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Song Squawk – The Finish Line

In the mid nineties, I had a little red Buick and a big ol’ bass box in the trunk, and would listen to “Christian Rock”, cranked to 11.

(What did you say?  Huh?  Can  you say that again, I didn’t hear you….)

I have gotten away from that genre for many reasons, the least of which may be a loss of hearing, but some songs have stuck with me over the decades.

The artist’s I listened to sought to reflect Scriptural teaching for the most part. They ranged from “preaching” pop culture religion to significant theological teaching. As I listened to the lyrics, I found some to be quite challenging.

To be honest, I listened because I could justify the rock beat with “sanctified lyrics”.

Occassionaly I will post a song, supply the lyrics and make a comment or two. If you decide to listen to the tune, turn the speaker down unless you are already deaf. Some of the songs tend to have a certain “volume” about them!


This post will consider the song

The Finish Line – by Steve Taylor

You are gonna get the impression that Steve Taylor was a favorite of mine, and you would be right. His truth-telling can be biting and he is a story teller. This song speaks of my failures and the goodness of our Father. I don’t like the following portion of the song, since it hits me a bit too much, but truth don’t care bout my feeling now, do they?

The vision came
He saw the odds
A hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
“These have tried to take your place, but Father,
by your grace I will never kneel
I will never kneel…”

Take a listen! But once you start, you gotta promise me that you will listen to the end!

The Finish Line – by Steve Taylor

The Finish Line – by Steve Taylor

Once upon an average morn
An average boy was born for the second time
Prone upon the altar there
He whispered up the prayer he’d kept hid inside

The vision came
He saw the odds
A hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
“These will vie to take your place, but Father,
by your grace I wil never kneel”

And I saw you, upright and proud
And I saw you wave to the crowd
And I saw you laughing out loud at the Philistines
And I saw you brush away rocks
And I saw you pull up your socks
And I saw you out of the blocks
For the finish line

Darkness falls
The devil stirs
And as your vision blurs you start stumbling
The heart is weak
The will is gone
And every strong conviction comes tumbling down

Malice rains
The acid guile is sucking at your shoes while the mud is fresh
It floods the trail
It bleeds you dry
As every little god buys its pound of flesh

And I saw you licking your wounds
And I saw you weave your cocoons
And I saw you changing your tunes for the party line
And I saw you welsh on old debts
I saw you and your comrades bum cigarettes
And you hemmed and you hawed
And you hedged all your bets
Waiting for a sign

Let’s wash our hands as we throw little fits
Let’s all wash our hands as we curse hypocrites
We’re locked in the washroom turning old tricks
Deaf
And joyless
And full of it

The vision came
He saw the odds
A hundred little gods on a gilded wheel
“These have tried to take your place, but Father,
by your grace I will never kneel
I will never kneel…”

Off in the distance
Bloodied but wise
As you squint with the light of the truth in your eyes

And I saw you
Both hands were raised
And I saw your lips move in praise
And I saw you steady your gaze
For the finish line

Every idol like dust
A word scattered them all
And I rose to my feet when you scaled the last wall
And I gasped
When I saw you fall
In his arms
At the finish line

Let me know what you think of the lyrics, and of the tunes!


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Love Like Jesus – Without Boasting


lovelikejesus_157x157

Lately, I have been exclusively in the Apostle John’s writings, in my personal readings, my blog writing, and my time with my wife.

John reiterates one theme, over and over again in my opinion, and that is that we are to love one another, to love like Jesus, to love.

It is refreshing to be reminded of the core mission of believers.

Love like Jesus.

Without Boasting

Love is the goal of all of Christian life.  Love that is displayed in the life of Jesus.  The life and death of Jesus.  This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.  Let’s consider

Love does not envy or boast

It has been years since a brother once instructed me to replace the term “love” with “Jesus” to get a better understanding of who He is.  

Jesus does not envy or boast

Boast

The second term that describes what love does not do is boast

This word is used only once in the New Testament and we find it in the verse we are looking at.

The term is built on a root word to describe a braggart. Our modern descriptions would include a show-off, a blowhard, and egotist.

How does this relate to the popular self esteem movement that has travelled through the modern church in the last few decades? Is there a conflict with the teaching of high self esteem and the characteristic we are looking at today. Is being a braggart comporable to being one with high self esteem?

First off, let me confess my history with this movement. I have been involved with a church that jumped into this self esteem movement when it became uber popular in the 90’s.

I struggled with it due to the teaching that self esteem is equated with self love, and this is definitely a teaching that we need no help on. The Word describes us humans as having no trouble with self love. As a matter of fact, it is self love that has drove us from the love of God and love to God.

One of the passages those who propose the self esteem teaching like to refer to is Matthew 22:39. I published a blog post a few months ago on this verse, trying to get some clarity on the teaching. You may want to check it out. What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 22:39

There is a confidence we believers are to exhibit due to the love of God expressed through Jesus work on the cross, the sacrifice he has given to redeem us from ourselves. Focusing on our own self is a dangerous past time.

A number of Bible passages speak of our requirement to humble ourselves. Verses such as

James 4:6-10

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

If we seek our own exaltation, we will fail. Humility before the Lord is the only way to be pleasing to the Lord and to find our self worth.

1 Peter 5:5-6

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

One more passage that speaks of the need of humility. It is imperative that we see this as an action we are to initiate. We are to humble ourselves.

Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

It is interesting that Paul does not tell believers to not think of himself too lowly than he ought to think. Think with sober judgement. Serious contemplation of self before the throne of the Father will bring about a crumbling of our self love. He is the one worthy of our love. Bragging of our own self worth or of our accomplishments is not in the description of love we are considering in this post.

So is boasting to be evident in the believer? The Word speaks of boasting in a favorable light.

Psalm 34:2-3

My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Our boasting is to be in the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice how David connects humility with boasting in the Lord. In our boasting of ourselves, we cut off opportunity to exult in the Lord

1 Corinthians 1:31

so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians, prior to getting to our chapter on love, speaks of the proper place of boasting the the believers life.


2 Corinthians 10:17

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

It seems the Corinthians didn’t quite get the message last time since Paul needs to remind them one more time of the principle of boasting for the believer to be in the Lord, (and not in themselves).

Galatians 6:14

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Paul, in his teaching to the Galatians, speaks of the exclusivity of his boasting, in relation to his religious duties before the Father. He has none, as we need to recognize in our lives also, that before the holy Father, our deeds are not of boasting value. Only in the cross of Christ is the truth of boasting for the believer.

Jesus replacing Love

So is my brother’s suggestion of replacing the term love with Jesus accurate and helpful?

Jesus does not boast.

Is that a good description of the Lord Jesus? A few posts earlier, I referred to the Lord’s self description

Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

He describes Himself as lowly in heart. Humble.

Since He is God in the flesh, any statement he makes could not be boasting. Say He declared “I made the moon” Well, that is a true statement, and the element of boasting may be evident if I said it, (along with the bold face lie), but for Him to make this statement would only be stating part of a greater truth.

I can’t see, given the status of our Lord, where boasting would be a possibility. He cannot lie and any statement He supplies is truth. Boasting may also be considered an attitude of superiority, and Jesus has informed us that this is not His attitude.

His attitude is of humility, of gentleness and of a low degree. This mind of Christ is to be in us my brothers. We are to take on humility and gentleness.

Philippians 2:5

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Please join me in our next study where we will consider a sister characteristic of being “puffed up”. Hope you can join me as we continue our study.

I look forward to comments and discussion.  May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.


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Calvin’s Concerns – Is Faith a Gift?

In our previous post, I tried to give some of my interactions and history with the Calvinistic thought process and teachings.

With this post, I would like to introduce you to the teacher I referred to earlier. He is a former Calvinist also, and has recanted, and has become a bit of a lightning rod for provisionism soteriology teaching.

Many of his videos are quite lengthy, and have kept my interest now for weeks. What I would like to do is offer his “60 Second Soteriology” clips to introduce you to Mr Leighton Flowers.

I do hope you will consider the teaching with an open mind.


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Psalms for Psome – Psalm 1

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psams 1:3


He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Often in our Christian lives, we stumble through life with little fruit. At least in the day to day fruit bearing of patience, faithfulness and love, the base level of the Christian life is exercised. It is the “normal” Christian life.

Yet this passage speaks of the believers life as having seasons of fruit bearing. The leaf never withers, but the fruit comes in it’s season.

The Psalm speaks of the leaf/life as always vibrant, not withering. The joy peace and self control are evidence of life, and yet the tree yields it’s fruit in its season.

This is encouraging, very encouraging in that our day to day fellowship with Him will be punctuated with seasons of fruit bearing.

The opposite is true though, and we need to continue to be near the streams of living water when the fruit isn’t in it’s season. Sometimes, as the dust that we are, this can be discouraging.

Are you in a “dry” spell with the Lord? Is there a quietness from Him, or maybe you are not experiencing a fruitfulness that you long for?

Get back to the water, the living water and be patient. Let Him who controls the seasons, produce the fruit and the timing of the fruit.


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Calvin’s Concerns – Man-Centered Doctrine?

In a previous post, I have sought to give some of my interactions and history with the Calvinistic thought process and teachings.

Comments in a few of the previous posts made claim that Dr. Flowers was a heretic and was espousing a man centered teaching.

Of course, some (if not most) of the comments were reactionary, condescending and derogatory, with a bit of judgement and condemnation thrown in for good measure. And some were gracious, seasoned with a bit of salt, which is a preferred method according to Paul.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Find the following clip, which has Dr. Flowers agree that he is espousing a man-centered doctrine

I do hope you will consider the teaching with an open mind.


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Proverbial Thoughts on Speech 1

Proverbs 4 23

Thoughts on the topic of speech from the book of wisdom

It is appropriate that, on a post dealing with the wisdom pertaining to speech, that I have two posts, seemingly misunderstanding the admonitions provided in this first post.  Nevertheless, this is one of the topics that the book of Proverbs speaks much on (pun intended!) and that although this post will deal with the wisdom of quietness, there is so much more guidance from Solomon and his co-authors that I couldn’t resist a multiple post.  So to reduce the introduction to this topic on longwindedness, let us start

Speech

Proverbs 10:19

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

This is my favorite all time Proverb when dealing with speech.  Whether it is my first memory verse in proverbs, the pithy KJV flow of the verse, or the simple message that appeals to me is hard to decide. No matter – I like / hate this verse!

There doesn’t seem to be any qualifier to the quality of the words; it is simply a statement that covers every situation I find myself in .  Too many words are an invitation to sin.  

It is interesting that the term “multitude” in the Hebrew can be translated as greatness, and this may reflect a proud mouth, a mouth that spews boasting.  This is not definite of course, and no other translation uses this connotation, so I am stretching the meaning a bit much.  

But let me ask you a question.  

When was the last time you met a man (or woman) that spoke many words, and that didn’t, in those words, speak words of greatness, great and swelling words of pride? 

Might there be a link?  

Proverbs 13:3

He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

Proverbs 13:3 speaks on the same problem, but defines the end game.  So often in the Word, the long game is defined, the end result, that without careful consideration on life would be missed.  By this I mean, how often have you had verbal diarrhea and not once considered the result of your spouting?  

This verse speaks of two results. 

A man with restraint maintains his life.  A man with out restraint shall have destruction.  Notice that the proverb does not say he shall receive destruction.  Some of the translations I reviewed speak of destruction occurring, as in above, and some speak of the destruction coming to the one speaking.  No matter.  This is a splitting of hairs in my opinion, for what believer wants to be a vehicle for destruction?  Destruction of family, friends, possessions, possibilities…

Even the destruction of enemies.  What?  Remember that destruction, for the believer is off limits.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you

Out last proverb for this post is.

Proverbs 17:28

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

Solomon is speaking the same thing twice here. He is speaking of a fella that for some reason is quiest, and the perception is that he is a man of wisdom and understanding. Of course, this is an “accidental” result, since Solomon doesn’t state that he IS wise, simply that he is thought of as wise.

I will take it! My wisdom quota is sub par, and if I can gain the appearance of wisdom, simply be “shutting my mouth”, so be it.

But Carl, should not we be concerned about reality as opposed to simply the appearance. Totally agreed. It is so far better to own wisdom, than to appear to have it and fail in the pinch. (Nothing worse than clouds with no rain!)

Proverbs 17:27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.  

Having knowledge and appearing wise are two different things. In this culture of appearance, it might be good to remind each other that substance is preferred!

I will close with 4 verses from the New Testament Proverbs, otherwise known as the Book of James for your consideration

Jas 1:26

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

James 3:5

Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

James 3:6

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

James 3:8

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.


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Parable Surprises – The New Wine

In our last post, we looked at the parable of The New Cloth, and noted that it was spoken within an inhale of this parable. Many parallels run through the two parables, like when and where it was spoke, to whom it was spoken and such.

This post will attempt to show some possible distinctions that may be of interest.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The New Wine

Matthew 9:17

17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Matthews dinner guests, and those asking the question – John’s disciples, along with possibly some Pharisees. (See previous post for a few details)

When did the Lord give this parable?

During or after the meal with Matthew. (See previous post for a few details)

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

This parable was likely spoken in Capernaum, Matthews home town. (See previous post for a few details)

Why did the Lord give this message?

Changes are a comin’, as Bob Dylan used to sing, and never was this concept actualized more than during the time of Jesus among His people!

What was the message for the original audience?

This is the question that may supply some distinction between the two parables. The new cloth was a parable teaching of an external patch on an unyielding garment. This parable speaks of a growing medium in an unyielding container.

There is a difference.

Consider the stresses on a unyielding bag when the pressure exceeds its limitations! It is an instantaneous explosion. (Sorry ’bout that but I am an engineer, so I tend to go anal at times!). The Greek word used for “burst” in this passage actually may be translated as “break forth”. The wine is gonna break forth! The wineskins ain’t gonna hold it back.

At the very least, the useful wineskin becomes unusable. Both parables speak of the original garment/wineskin being destroyed, and the new patch/wine being wasted.

But the difference is also to be seen in the growth of the new medium. The wine grows (or ferments) and nothing stops it. The patch of new cloth actually shrinks in relation to the old garment, which creates the stresses leading to future tears. (Again with bringing up the pressure / stresses thing, Carl!)

In the first parable, the New Covenant is compared to a shrinking material (the new cloth), and in this parable (the new wine), the New Covenant is compared to a growing medium.

The ramifications are kinda interesting in my mind! Let’s consider in the next question.

What is the message for us today?

In some ways the New Covenant causes a shrinking of obligations (at least seemingly to the religious man).

“Shrinking?”

Let me try to explain before you dismiss this thinking.

During the ministry of the Lord, the Sabbath became a huge issue between the Pharisees and the Master. Continually, the Master challenged the conventional wisdom of the currently accepted observance practices of the Sabbath. Check out my recent series Jesus on the Sabbath. It seems the Sabbath observance is an issue that is simplified in the New Covenant, that the Sabbath is a Person we can rest in. This is an incredible truth that I personally need to appropriate in my life.

The sabbath simpler, “smaller”? Kinda, but the reality is so much deeper!

One more example to consider.

For the first century church, much discussion was had over circumcision. To be in right relationship with the God of creation, the Old Testament directed the Jewish people to adopt circumcision as a sign of being the people of God. Many in the first century church fought to retain this obligation for the new covenant people of God, and yet the stories of the conversion of the Gentiles logically showed that physical circumcision did not make a difference. The New Covenant speaks of circumcision of the heart, and of the new life given to us a believers.

Physical circumcision simpler, “smaller”? Kinda, but the reality of heart circumcision is so much deeper.

Do you remember the time your heart was circumcised?

“Growing?”

The New Covenant is a covenant that is alive, living via the life of the Living God. The Spirit of God is the “wine” in the believer (or globally, the church) that will not stop growing.

The believer (or church) will continually be challenged by the “new wine” of the Spirit of God to break out of old structures and religious restrictions that are constantly being laid upon and into their lives.

When was the last time you pushed a religious teaching out of your belief system (and subsequently out of you life) because the Word expanded your understanding?



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Song Squawk – By His Grace

In the mid nineties, I had a little red Buick and a big ol’ bass box in the trunk, and would listen to “Christian Rock”, cranked to 11.

(What did you say?  Huh?  Can  you say that again, I didn’t hear you….)

I have gotten away from that genre for many reasons, the least of which may be a loss of hearing, but some songs have stuck with me over the decades.

The artist’s I listened to sought to reflect Scriptural teaching for the most part. They ranged from “preaching” pop culture religion to significant theological teaching. As I listened to the lyrics, I found some to be quite challenging.

To be honest, I listened because I could justify the rock beat with “sanctified lyrics”.

Occassionaly I will post a song, supply the lyrics and make a comment or two. If you decide to listen to the tune, turn the speaker down unless you are already deaf. Some of the songs tend to have a certain “volume” about them!


This post will consider the song

By His Grace – by Van Morrison

My wife and I would take our kids to the library for five books each when they were young, and one afternoon I tripped over a double album of Van Morrison, called Hymns to the Silence. I signed it out of the library, took it home and listened to it constantly.

Years pass and I get my little red Buick, and this album shows up in my recordings – Don’t worry, I bought a copy after I returned the disks to the library.

Occassionaly, I would give that ol’ bass box a break, and cruise in that ol’ Buick, listening to Van. This particular song speaks of Philippians 2:12-13.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Or as Van Morrison might sing…

You’ve got to try for the Kingdom … By His Grace

Take a listen!

By His Grace – by Van Morrison

By His Grace – by Van Morrison

You’ve got to try, for the kingdom
You’ve got to try, for the kingdom
On high, you’ve got to try,
By His grace, by His grace

You’ve got to live your religion
Deep inside, when you try
For the kingdom on high
By His grace, by His grace

Open your mind to the wisdom
When you try for the kingdom, on high
By His grace, by His grace

Open your heart to the wisdom
In your mind when you try
For the kingdom on high
By His grace, by His grace

One day at a time, you got to try
Open your eye, it will come
By and by, when you try
By His grace, by His grace
By His grace, by His grace.

Let me know what you think of the lyrics, and of the tunes!


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Love Like Jesus – Without Envy Reconsidered


lovelikejesus_157x157

Lately, I have been exclusively in the Apostle John’s writings, in my personal readings, my blog writing, and my time with my wife.

John reiterates one theme, over and over again in my opinion, and that is that we are to love one another, to love like Jesus, to love.

It is refreshing to be reminded of the core mission of believers.

Love like Jesus.

Without Envy Reconsidered

In our last post, we considered that Christian love is not expressed through envy. We learned that envy and jealousy are two different emotions, and that envy is prohibited in the believers life.

And then I mentioned that envy is to be a positive characteristic in a believer’s life.

So now I am surely considered a lost cause. As my momma used to say, Carl you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

It may seem so, but bear with me.

The verse we primarily dealt with previously, contained the description of love as not envying.

1 Corinthians 13:4 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast

I then found that John 2:17 uses the very same Greek word for envy in describing the Lord’s motivation for cleaning the Temple. Kind of shook me a bit.

Then, as I was looking at the context of the passage above, an additional question rose in my thinking. Check out 5 verses earlier in 1 Corinthians 12:31

1 Corinthians 12:31

But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

What’s the problem Carl? Check out that the term “desire” is the very Greek word we were looking at above. Paul is commanding the Corinthian believers to earnestly desire the higher/best gifts, to be “envious” of the higher/best gifts, to want the higher/best gifts.

But Paul, you mention five verse later, that love does not envy! What is going on?

I see two issues to be addressed with this problem. The first is a misunderstanding of my common concept of envy.

Positive Envy

Envy may have a positive characteristic in a believers life, in that it may be describing envy in the pursuit of good, righteous and holy things. The ESV translates the word zeloo, (translated as envy in verses discussed in our earlier post), as zealous in the following passage.

Galations 4:18 (KJV)

But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

Paul is encouraging good “envy” in the believer, that emotion which fuels us to do good, to be zealous in a good sense. We are so often considering envy in a bad sense, and rightly so, but the New Testament is not restricted in this way.

The Lord himself, as considered above, was consumed with “envy” for the Father’s house.

John 2:17

His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

We are commanded to be zealous in Revelation 3:19

Revelation 3:19

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Yet, I can’t seem to get away from the fact that Paul is telling the Corinthian believers to be envying the “better gifts”. This seems to be against the spirit of love, expressed in humility and preferring others that is taught elsewhere in the Word. (Remember it is only five verses later that Paul teaches that love does not envy!)

Selfish Envy

The context of 1 Corinthians 12:31 may give us some help in understanding the intent of Paul’s message.

Are we to be desiring the higher/best gifts? Let’s consider a few questions that may clear help the reader understand the point.

  • I do not know of another passage that defines any gifts as higher/better than any other. The lists of gifts are lists, not rankings of quality. (Paul does describe a gift later that is “spiritual” that is to be sought, but that discussion will come soon enough!)
  • Paul just finished with an extended passage speaking of the importance of accepting the gift you have, of exercising this gift or gifts that has been given to each of us. The ear is not to be seeking to be an eye!
  • The Corinthian church is known for division, infighting and a competitive spirit.

Is this phrase in the last verse of chapter 12 describing the immaturity of the Corinthians. As baby believers, the Corinthians were seeking the showy, flashy gifts. Is he simply stating a fact, that is, you Corinthians are seeking the better gifts? I have read in the past that this passage may be translated this way.

It is an interesting idea, and seems to fit the context. Paul is going to show them a better way, a way that is better than seeking the “higher/best” gifts. This way includes not seeking what others have, which we have addressed in the previous post.

Another Monkey Wrench in my Mind!

Ok Carl, that may be, but how do you handle Paul’s clear exhortation for the Corinthians in the 14th Chapter

1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

Good question! (Tough question, but good question!)

Paul may be simply stating a fact in the last verse of chapter 12, but it is clear that Paul is commanding the Corinthians to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts. It is interesting that Paul uses “best” gifts in 12:31 and changes the modifier to “spiritual” gifts in chapter 14:1.

Could Paul be a bit sarcastic in 12:31? “You Corinthians are chasing the best gifts (in your opinion, that is!)”

1 Corinthians 14:39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

Paul summarizes the intent of his message regarding the the difference between prophecy and tongues in this verse, stating that prophecy is the gift to seek after. (The Corinthians can allow tongues.)

Consider the 3rd verse of this chapter, where Paul identifies the intent of the gift of prophecy

1 Corinthians 14:3

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

Paul has spoken of love as being about others. Prophecy is about building up others. Pursue love Corinthians, and in doing that, find that prophecy is a clear expression of love.

Prophecy syncs with the better way of love. The gift of prophecy the Corinthians are told to seek is a natural outgrowth of true biblical love. Tongues seems to be a distraction for Paul, and I feel it was overemphasized by the Corinthians to the point of division.

If you are seeking another’s gifts or talents, stop. Put that envy off like an old shirt. Hoping to have someone else’s gift will only cause you pain and heartache. Wanting some one else’s abilities or talents is sin.

1 Corinthians 14:12

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

As believers, Paul instructs us to exercise love. Love is not exercised by envying another’s abilities, but in supporting their ministry. Find your own talent and ability and quit wasting time and effort on envying someone else’s gift.

Love does not envy.

Thanks for visiting. I do hope you found something of interest and of challenge in this post. Drop me a line to discuss and hope to see you in our next topic, where we look at the topic of boasting in the life of loving like Jesus.

Its going to be the absolute greatest post ever written in the history of the world!!!!

I look forward to comments and discussion.  May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.


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Calvin’s Concerns – Bondage to Sin and Free Will

In our previous post, I tried to give some of my interactions and history with the Calvinistic thought process and teachings.

With this post, I would like to introduce you to the teacher I referred to earlier. He is a former Calvinist also, and has recanted, and has become a bit of a lightning rod for provisionism soteriology teaching.

Many of his videos are quite lengthy, and have kept my interest now for weeks. What I would like to do is offer his “60 Second Soteriology” clips to introduce you to Mr Leighton Flowers.

I do hope you will consider the teaching with an open mind.


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Simple Thoughts – Colossians 1:14

Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.

Such is the following verse.

Col 1:14

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I recently published a few blogs on the concept of redemption and remembered that it has manifold meanings, but primarily the concept is that of buying, or more specifically that of buying back, to redeem something or someone.

It is in Christ we have our redemption. He bought us through His bloody tortuous death on the cross. This is a wonderful truth, a truth that needs to warm our hearts daily and encourage us to stand for the Master, to love others sacrificially, and to give of ourselves as He did for us.

Such love.

To redeem, as I said earlier, is to buy back.

I got myself a friend who’s child got in a wee bit o’ trouble with the law. He had to go down to the cop shop late one night and provide bail for little Joey. He was furious, and having “redeemed” his son from a night of deserved punishment, he drove home with Joey, but the trip was ominously silent. Of course, at home the mother gushed over Joey’s return, but my friend simply sent to bed.

Weeks pass, and no communication, no contact, no concern over the son’s condition. My buddy redeemed his son. That is true.

But that is all.

Not so with our Father in heaven.

He redeemed us, even though we were enemies. When He redeemed us, He “blew it all”! The ransom was the ultimate price.

And when He began to take us home, there was no silence, no begrudging the payment, no avoidance of relationship.

This added act of love was reinforced with the above verse. He ransomed us, redeemed us with His blood, AND forgave our sins. There is nothing between us, other than our own misunderstanding of the depth of love He has for us.

Praise Him for His boundless love.


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Jesus & Paul – Different Messages? Part 22

PaulIn the past few months I have noticed that there are rumblings – at least in my world – of some internet folks trying to make out the message of Paul to be different that that of Jesus.

Never mind the fact that Jesus was dealing with a nation in the last gasps of it’s life and His pleading for their repentance, and Paul’s focus on “making that tent bigger for them dirty Gentiles” (See Isaiah 54:2-3)

Why?  I don’t know, and at this point I am not concerned with their motivation, since I will assume the worst, which may not be fair.

Nevertheless, as I was browsing my computer bible study files, I providentially tripped over the following information.  I must have found this info years back, and will not take credit for the compiling of the verses, but for the life of me, I am not sure where I found this.

This is the twenty second post addressing different topics from the New Testament that both Jesus and Paul taught on showing similarity in their teachings.  My comments will be sparse, (unless they are not)

22. Both taught the same things concerning slavery – The ideal master is generous and kind

Jesus

Matthew 24:46-47 — “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.”

Luke 12:37 — “ [the master of the good servants] will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.”

Paul

Colossians 4:1 — Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Philemon 16 — [Receive back the runaway slave] no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

A short post to encourage you with the consistency of the Word.  May the Lord strengthen you and bless you as you seek His Kingdom.

Leave a comment as you may desire.


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Evangelism – A New Method!

In my forty years of Christian life I have sought to evangelize by many methods.

One that I especially enjoy is door knocking.

I began to go door to door while I was working in a church in Quebec, with a six question survey. You see, I needed the survey because my French was so weak, I needed the survey to be able to communicate with the populace. I was in a very small church, and we needed to find new folks to join us.

The survey asked six questions,

  • Do you believe in God?
  • Have you obeyed all the ten commandments?
  • Can you tell me the 8th commandment?
  • Have you ever stole anything?
  • Why would God allow you into heaven if you have broken His commandment?
  • Who is Jesus Christ?

It was a feeble attempt to get people to consider their standing before God. I would like to tell you hundreds rushed to the church and we had a revival, but such was not the case. I spent many days in front of puzzled Quebecois, trying to communicate good news to a religious people.

Our family eventually ended up in an English part of Canada and I brought the door knocking method with me. It was so much easier to communicate, I found a partner who has been a great friend for decades, and we had some minor success in communicating good news to our neighbors.

All of that as an introduction to a letter I received 3 days ago.

A hand written envelope carried a hand written letter addressed to me.

Dear Carl – My mother and I live in the same area with you . We cannot speak with you personally, but we have some important information we want to share with you.

Right away I’m thinking this realtor has got a strange way of getting my attention. That misconception didn’t last long, for the letter continued with a few statements on how scary the world is, and yet there is hope in Jehovah. At this point I assumed the letter came from a Jehovah’s Witness adherent, and I always love to chat with these folk, so my interest was piqued.

The last paragraph continued with..

We engage in this activity because we are genuinely interested in our neighbors.

The author eventually gave me their email address. No signature, phone number, physical address or any other way of contacting this person – Golly, I don’t even know if the author is a male or female.

Immediately, I mocked this effort, and then realized I was falling into a judgmental/condemning thought pattern. Definitely not the life I want to exist in! Who knows if the author is physically disabled and cannot leave his/her home.

I decided to send off an email, seeking to be of assistance to this family.

Hello
I received a handwritten letter from you this evening, where you stated you cannot speak with us personally.
Since you know our name and where I live, it occurs to me that you may have some restrictions that are keeping you from coming to my home.
I would be happy to visit with you at your residence if you are physically disabled or unable to venture out for some other reason.
Please supply your name, address and available times to visit.  Hopefully we can schedule a mutually conducive time to visit and get to know one another.
Thank you 
Carl

I am waiting for a response and hopefully will get an opportunity to discuss.

Let me know your thoughts on this effort of evangelism, or any other thoughts this blog has brought to your thinking


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Parable Surprises – The New Cloth

As our first parable, the story of the new cloth is closely linked to our second parable, that is the parable of the wine skins (Next weeks study!).

During our Lord’s teaching, the two parables were separated possibly by only an inhale of the Lord, but there are a few differences I would like to highlight in the next post, so we will only consider the new cloth parable with this post.

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of the New Cloth

Matthew 9:16

16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and dig into this parable.

Questions to Consider

Who were the Audience?

As we read through the immediate context, we see that previous to the parable being given, Jesus was calling (and eating) with Levi the publican, the tax collector that eventually became the apostle Matthew. Therefore, the audience most likely were those who were eating with Levi., and the ones providing the questions.

When did the Lord give this parable?

As this is the first parable it goes without saying it was relatively early in the career of Jesus. Specifically, it seems to be given right after Jesus sat down with sinners and publicans, and the Pharisees started questioning His eating habits. During the supper at Levi’s house, the Pharisees started finding fault. (Did they ever stop finding fault?)

Matthew 9:11

11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

A short time later, (it appears) John’s disciples come to the Master with further questions. It is interesting that these disciples group themselves in with the Pharisees in their eating habits, but I am getting ahead of myself!

Where did the Lord teach this parable?

This parable was likely spoken in Capernaum, Matthews home town.

Why did the Lord give this message?

We must remember who spoke these words. Jesus is not simply a good teacher or “nice guy”. He is, in this instance, One preaching the Kingdom of God to a nation that is committed to the pharisaical understanding of the Old Testament.

The Pharisees considered fasting as a sign of piety, and would express their “godliness” openly. Fasting, per the Old Testament, as I read it, seems to be linked with repentance and contrition.

John’s disciples may be following this spirit of fasting, but during the time the Messiah is on earth, even that right spirit of contrition over sin is to be left behind. Jesus Himself says

…Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

What was the message for the original audience?

As mentioned earlier, we must remember Who is giving this teaching out. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is constantly informing the nation of Israel (and it’s leaders) that the Messiah has arrived, the Kingdom is now.

In this instance Jesus speaks of Himself as the Bridegroom. What would the hearers understand when they heard this?

Throughout the Old Testament, God is spoken of as the husband of Israel. Consider one of many verses that speak to this truth.

Isaiah 54:5

5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

A husband to one wife. So how could Jesus say He is the bridegroom? This created a conflict in my mind for many years, until I read a couple of verses that shook my thinking.

Isaiah 50:1

1 Thus says the LORD: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.

Isaiah is speaking to the people of Israel, and telling them the reason their mother (The nation of Israel) was sent away into captivity. The transgressions of the nation caused the divorce decree to be given. Israel was no longer the wife of Jehovah.

Jeremiah speaks of the Judah playing the whore, even though the northern nation of Israel was sent away with a decree of divorce.


Jeremiah 3:8

8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.

This is incredible. Not only for my understanding of divorce within the Christian community, but more so, for the impact of Jesus statement.

A new wedding, a new covenant with God was being offered to those who would hear it, who would accept it, who would follow.

The days of repentance and sorrow were to be over with while the Bridegroom was on earth. These are days of celebration, of a new opportunity to relate to and love God. No sorrow. This brief time of Jesus sojourn on earth was to be of the greatest celebration!

And Jesus speaks the parable of the new cloth.

It is detrimental to both the old garment and the new cloth to mend the old garment with new cloth. Wash that garment a few times and the new patch with shrink, and the old garment will not be flexible enough to adjust. The new cloth will be wasted and the old garment will be further destroyed. (Nowadays, with pre-shrunk materials, patching has some limited success, but the point of the parable is mismatched covenants, and not new technology!)

Flexibility for the New Covenant, the New Cloth.

Can the old garment of the religious order in Israel accept the new? This is a huge challenge to the people of Israel, and an insurmountable problem to some of the leadership.

The patch could not fix the garment! The garment was not flexible enough. Will the people (and the leadership) of Israel abandon the old garment or cling to the new? Or will they try to combine both, and make the situation worse?

We know the end of the story.

What is the message for us today?

This is the difficult part of the post, where I make my estimation of this parables application.

Old Covenant in the New Covenant

Christians have to grapple with the relationship of the Old Testament (OT) religious order with the New Covenant (NC) we are living under. Over the centuries, the church has wavered between completely accepting the OT norms into our NC life, and rebelling from the OT order of things.

I would suggest an example of accepting the OT in the NC is the confusion of every believer being a priest (check out 1 Peter 2:5,9) and the designation of a church clergy.

Where did the concept of church clergy come from? I would suggest that this concept of an order of people elevated to an office above the common believer smacks of the OT order.

Does God use this system or order in the church? Of course. He is God and can use all things to His glory.

But the question remains for the reader to consider. Is this an example of the Old Testament order of things creeping into the New Covenant life?

Can you think of another instance where the Old Testament (garment) is being repaired with the New Cloth?

Personal Application

Personally, I need to be flexible. I need to cling to the truth of the gospel, and yet be flexible in the application of the truth of the Word. This is a daily challenge since I am a “dyed in the wool” religious fella. (Aren’t we all?)

Is there something in my life that is not being ruled by the love of God, but simply by a tradition or religious history.

An example might be such.

My early life in Christianity taught me many things, and I am thankful for the men and women who took the time to show me the Scriptures. One Scripture that was given to me by a dear brother was on the topic of divorce in the Christian community.

Malachi 2:16

16 “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD….

This topic comes up since we breached it above, but early on, I made a clear stand on the topic of divorce. It seemed so obvious! God does not allow divorce in the Christian community!

Take a look at the verse above. It seemed so obvious, and I felt I was taking the moral high ground which would make God proud of me – how foolish now that I said it out loud!

God hates divorce – this hasn’t changed. Does God allow for divorce? Yes, under certain conditions, the believer is allowed to consider divorce. We can consider these conditions (I think there are two conditions) in a later post since this one may be getting a bit “long in the tooth”.

Suffice it to say, I had to repent (be flexible) of my understanding, my high moral position, in order to comply with the New Covenant teaching on this subject.

Where are you needing to be flexible (like new cloth) in relation to the Master’s will? I can promise you that if you are in the same struggle I am, that is as a believer, you are struggling with something even today.

Be flexible.

Don’t be such an old garment!



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Song Squawk – Drowning Machine

In the mid nineties, I had a little red Buick and a big ol’ bass box in the trunk, and would listen to “Christian Rock”, cranked to 11.

(What did you say?  Huh?  Can  you say that again, I didn’t hear you….)

I have gotten away from that genre for many reasons, the least of which may be a loss of hearing, but some songs have stuck with me over the decades.

The artist’s I listened to sought to reflect Scriptural teaching for the most part. They ranged from “preaching” pop culture religion to significant theological teaching. As I listened to the lyrics, I found some to be quite challenging.

To be honest, I listened because I could justify the rock beat with “sanctified lyrics”.

Occassionaly I will post a song, supply the lyrics and make a comment or two. If you decide to listen to the tune, turn the speaker down unless you are already deaf. Some of the songs tend to have a certain “volume” about them!


This post will consider the song

Drowning Machine – by Tourniquet

These guys are about the heaviest I listened to during my Buick days! The hook for me was the incredible drumming by Ted Kirkpatrick.

This song speaks of addiction, and the dangers of self confidence.

The water is fast, but it ain’t deep
I waded out before
I could do it in my sleep
Another line, another fix
Another “I don’t care”

Take a listen! But be warned – this one has some volume…

Drowning Machine – by Tourniquet

Drowning Machine – by Tourniquet

The water is fast, but it ain’t deep
I waded out before
I could do it in my sleep
Another line, another fix
Another “I don’t care”
The place you thought you’d never be
Guess what, you’re there

Drowning machine
Drowning machine

Sow a thought, reap an action
Sow an action, reap an habit
Sow an habit, reap a destiny
Do anything, be anyone
But you’re not free

Drowning machine
Drowning machine

A three foot river drop
A circular hell
Drowning machine is
Ringing the death bell
Your lifeless soul floats to the shore
You couldn’t stop
Had to have more, more, more

Drowning machine
Drowning machine

Drowning machine
Tragic death scene

Let me know what you think of the lyrics, and of the tunes!


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.