Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Kingdom Is Like A Treasure

Matthew 13:44-46 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.

What are these verses teaching us about the kingdom of heaven? The traditional teaching is that Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is so precious and valuable that when one finds it nothing else matters, and that person will sell all they possess in order to gain the one thing that is most valuable. But can we buy our salvation? Or do we seek Christ? The Bible is clear that we cannot purchase our salvation, and that it is Christ who is seeking after us, so what are these verses teaching us then?

Warren Wiersbe tells us that the treasure could represent the nation of Israel and the field could represent the world. He says, "[Israel] was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation."

Dr Wiersbe goes on to say that the pearl then could represent the church. Just as a pearl grows in secret, so it is with the church. The Holy Spirit convicts each of us individually, and we all come to Christ alone. In a very real sense the church grows and matures in secret as the Holy Spirit moves and works in the lives of the individuals who make it up. Another way that the church is like a pearl is that a pearl is an organism of unity. He adds, "Unlike most other gems, the pearl is a unity—it cannot be carved like a diamond or emerald...A pearl grows gradually, and the church grows gradually as the Spirit convicts and converts sinners. No one can see the making of the pearl, for it is hidden in the shell of the oyster under the waters. No one can see the growth of His church in the world." So here again he is giving us an alternate interpretation for this parable.

I am not saying that the traditional teaching of these parables is wrong. I am not saying that we should not give up everything for the kingdom of heaven. I am not even saying that the interpretation of Dr. Wiersbe is correct. All I am saying is that maybe we need to spend a little more time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to teach us the meaning of His word and not always rely on the traditional interpretations of men just because that is what has always been taught.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Puritans (Part 2) - The End of the Wicked

Have you ever been discouraged by the seemingly easy lives of those who are not at all concerned about walking with God? Have you ever struggled as you tried to remain godly while watching those who are not prosper? Have you ever wondered if holiness is really worth the effort? I think these are the exact questions that Asaph, one of the Psalm writers, was struggling with when he penned the 73rd Psalm.

Asaph wrote, in Psalm 73:2-3, " feet came close to stumbling, my steps almost slipped... as I saw the prosperity of the wicked." By the time he gets to verse 12 we can really see his frustration, in verses 12 & 13 he writes that the wicked are "always at ease" and "increased in wealth," then he adds, "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure..."

But is it in vain that we pursue holiness? a few days ago I mentioned that I had been reading some of the Puritans' writings and I came across this one the other day by Thomas Watson addressing these very issues; here is what he had to say:

The children of God have little cause to envy the prosperity of the wicked. They may have all they can desire; nay, they may have "more than heart can wish." Psalm 73:7. They steep themselves in pleasure! "They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute." Job 21:12. The wicked are high--when God's people are low in the world.

The goats scramble up the mountains of prosperity; when Christ's sheep are below in the valley of tears! The wicked are clothed in purple; while the godly are in sackcloth. The prosperity of the wicked is a great stumbling block. But there is no cause of envy them, if we consider two things:

  • First--that this is all they have! "Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things"--you had all your heaven here.
  • Secondly--that God has laid up better things for His children. He has prepared a kingdom of glory for them! They shall have the beatific vision; they shall be crowned with the pleasures of paradise forever!

Oh, then do not envy the fleeting prosperity of the wicked! The wicked go through a pleasant way--to execution! The godly go through a foul way--to coronation!

See how happy all the saints are at death! They go to a kingdom! They shall see God's face, which shines ten thousand times brighter than the sun in its meridian glory. The godly at death shall be installed into their honor, and have the royal crown set upon their head. They have in the kingdom of heaven--the quintessence of all delights. They shall lie in Christ's bosom, that bed of spices.

There is such a pleasant variety in the happiness of heaven, that after millions of years it will be as fresh and desirable as the first hour's enjoyment! In the kingdom of heaven, the saints are crowned with all those perfections which they are capable of. The desires of the glorified saints are infinitely
satisfied; there is nothing absent which they could wish might be enjoyed; there is nothing present which they could wish might be removed.

In the kingdom of heaven there is . . .
  • Knowledge without ignorance,
  • Holiness without sin,
  • Beauty without blemish,
  • Strength without weakness,
  • Light without darkness,
  • Riches without poverty,
  • Ease without pain,
  • Liberty without restraint,
  • Rest without labor,
  • Joy without sorrow,
  • Love without hatred,
  • Plenty without surfeit,
  • Honor without disgrace,
  • Health without sickness,
  • Peace without discord,
  • Contentment without cessation,
  • Glory in its highest elevation!

Oh, the happiness of those who die in the Lord! They go into this blessed kingdom!
Thomas Watson

This is the same conclusion that Asaph came to; in verses 16 and 17 he wrote, "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end." So the next time you get discouraged by the "prosperity of the wicked" spend some alone with God, come into His sanctuary, and let Him remind you, through His word, what you have to look forward to, and what is the end of the wicked.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Eternal Security Of The Believer

The Security of the Believer is a highly debated issue in the Church today; there are those who teach that it is possible for a person who has experienced that forgiveness of God to then have it taken away, and there are others who say that once a person has come to Christ it doesn’t matter how they live, their salvation is secure. What I would like to do here is to show you, from Scripture, why I believe that a Person who has genuinely repented from their sin and trusted Jesus as their only hope of salvation is eternally secure in that salvation.

In order to do this I am going to show you a series of promises of God that would be nullified if salvation could be lost. But before I do that I want to make it clear that just because a person has prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, signed a card, raised their hand, or asked Jesus into their heart, there is no guarantee that they are a redeemed child of God. The Bible teaches that for genuine salvation to occur a person must repent of their sin (see Luke 13:3, 5) and turn to Jesus (see Acts 4:12); if either of these two things has not happened salvation has not occurred.

Now, let’s take a look at several promises of God that would be nullified if salvation, could be lost.

If my salvation can be lost:

1. God is not able to perform what He promised.
and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
Romans 4:21
2. God is not able to present me blameless.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
3. God did not predestine me unto the adoption as a child.
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Ephesians 1:5
4. There is condemnation for me even though I am in Christ Jesus.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1
5. The Holy Spirit will take back His deposit.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14
6. The Holy Spirit did not seal me.
who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
2 Corinthians 1:22
7. Jesus will leave and forsake me.
for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
Hebrews 13:5b
8. Jesus is not able to keep me from falling.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
Jude 24
9. He will not preserve me forever.
For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
Psalm 37:28
10. God did not cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
11. God’s foundation is not sure.
12. God does not know those who are His
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,”
2 Timothy 2:19a
13. Jesus will cast me out.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
John 6:37
14. Jesus did not perfect me.
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14
15. God will not complete the work He began in me.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6
16. My life is not hide with Christ in God.
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3
17. I have not passed from death unto life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
John 5:24
18. God is not able to keep that which I have committed to Him.
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
2 Timothy 1:12
19. I am not at peace with God.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:1
20. I can be plucked out of God’s hand.
and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
John 10:28-29
21. I can be separated from the love of God.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39
22. God’s righteousness is not everlasting.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
Psalm 119:142a
23. God’s love is not everlasting.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
Jeremiah 31:3b
24. God did not keep His promise.
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
Hebrews 6:17-18
25. God is a liar.
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
Titus 1:1-2

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Parable Of The Wheat And The Tares

Matthew 13:24-30 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 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?’ “ ‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “ ‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. “ ‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 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. ’ ”

This passage is known as the Parable of the wheat and the weeds (or tares). Remember that in a parable Jesus is using common everyday things as an illustration of a spiritual truth. Here He said that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed wheat seeds in his field, but his enemy came and sowed weeds there also. The weed that is referred to here is a tare which is also known as darnel wheat . Darnel wheat is a weed that looks like wheat; it has the same kind of stalk, it is the same color, but it doesn't produce any fruit. Jesus is telling us that in the kingdom of heaven there will be those who appear to be genuine wheat that came from good seed, but at the end of the day they don't produce any fruit. They are just weeds and they will be thrown into the fire and burned.

Jesus explains this parable to His disciples (and to us) in verses 36-43. Here He tells us that He is the one who sows the seed, and the world is the field. He tells us that the good seed are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the devil. He tells us that the harvest is the end of the age and that when the reapers gather the wheat they will separate the good from the bad and all those who practice sin will be thrown into the fire and burned, but those who are righteous will shine like the sun in the Fathers kingdom.

So what is this teaching us? One thing it teaches us is that Satan cannot uproot the true Christians, so he plants false Christians in the church in order to try and choke them out. Unlike the parable of the soils where the seed represented the word of God, here the seed represents people. Good seed represents those who have chosen to follow Christ, and the bad seed those who follow sin. Jesus sows His children in the world so that they can bear fruit, but satan also sows his children in the world to stop them. Jesus is telling us that we need to be aware that not all Christians are what they appear to be, some are tares. Jesus is warning us that they are among us, but remember back to Matthew chapter seven - Jesus told us that we can recognize them by their fruit (Matthew 7:20).