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Jesus’ Source For Truth Was Revelation From The Scriptures

Jesus lived by revelation, the revelation in God’s word.  He also walked by the spirit and knew things that he only could have gotten by supernatural means.  For example, he knew that the comforter would come shortly after his ascension.

In The Not Enough Information Rule – Sticking to What is Revealed we looked at revelation as the source of all our knowledge about God.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.  (Deu 29:29 ESV)

God has given us enough revelation knowledge in the scriptures to be able to live our lives in his will.  But we also know that it is available to be deluded by “plausible arguments”:

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
(Col 2:2-4 ESV)

God forbid that we should fall into the category of being deluded by plausible arguments, but how else can you explain so many different theologies with so many differences on issues in the thousands of Christian denominations.  I have sat in a pew and been taught that manifestations ceased with the apostles (and that only devil possessed people believe otherwise) and I have sat in a few and been taught that manifestations are happening in many congregations worldwide.  I have been taught that the bread is literally the body of Christ in a grace-giving sacrament called the eucharist and been taught that the bread represents the body of Christ in a Christ-given memorial. I have sat and been taught that the Roman Catholic church is the only true church, I have been taught that the Lutheran church is the reformation of that church, and I have been taught in many other churches that they are true autonomous churches, the first century church brought forth into modern times. I can go on and on about having been taught competing arguments on so many other issues: infant vs. adult baptism, no drinking vs “a little wine”, tithing vs liberal sharing, man-woman marriage vs LGBTQ inclusiveness even in marriage and so on and so on.

All of these differences work to create division, and sow doubt about the Gospel.  And they are all the result of new traditions that started being generated right after the time of the apostles and continue to be generated up to the present time.  Paul was not kind in describing the people that would teach things other than the original faith.  He called some of them wolves, and the things they taught, twisted things:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  (Act 20:28-30 ESV)

Now, the Catholic Churches, and most Christian churches, following suit, said these wolves with their twisted things were the heretics. And groups like the Gnostics and Marcionites among others did spring up.  But the verses also talk about people in the original church twisting things. We saw in T 0.1 Introduction to Tradition in the Church that anyone that didn’t follow the apostles’ doctrine was someone to be avoided!  And we have just seen in Col 2:4 the danger of listening to plausible arguments.  So we have a scenario of people in the church twisting things and presenting them with plausible words.  Hence, division.

On that note lets just look at where Jesus got his doctrine:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.  (Mat 4:1-11 ESV)

First, in this record, the devil tries to goad Jesus into doing contrary to what the spirit was leading him to do. Remember, it says that the Spirit led Jesus to fast this incredibly long fast and be tempted by the devil.  Jesus was starving, and the devil knew it.  The devil says “if you are the son of God…”  But Jesus knew that the purpose of the fast was to be tempted by the devil and he was ready. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 when he said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Jesus spoke revelation truth.  He spoke what was in the word of God

This record is also an example of twisted words.  The devil tells Jesus what it says in Psalms 91:

For He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You in all Your ways. They shall bear You up in their hands, lest You dash your foot against a stone.  (Psa 91:11-12 MKJV)

Here the devil takes revelation truth, the word of God, and twists it to suit his purpose.  Yes, the angels are charged to protect Jesus, but Jesus was following the leading of the spirit here.  The devil attempted to get Jesus to not follow the Spirit who told him to fast and be tempted because the word of God says the angels will minister to him if he commands.  Jesus would then be disobeying! And he would be doing an incredibly foolish thing in jumping off a cliff!  Jesus responded with the rightly divided word of God, speaking verbatim, without twisting, adding, or subtracting to God’s word! He said:

“You shall not put the LORD your God to the test…  (Deu 6:16a ESV)

We are not to test God by arbitrarily doing something dangerous and expecting God to save us.  Miracles happen when people are walking in the spirit, not against it.  The devil knows what usually happens when someone jumps off a cliff.  Boy, how easy that would have made things for the devil if he could have gotten Jesus killed just when his ministry was starting.

The devil also tempted with power and glory,  He took him to a high spot where he could look over the land, and offered him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.   Remember, he could do this because he, the devil, is the god of this world (2Cor 4:4) and has dominion over all the earth.  Again, Jesus’ source for truth was the revealed word of God when he spoke “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

Jesus spoke the word of God regularly and applied it to the situation at hand.  Here are a few examples:

Jesus spoke the truth of God’s word to the Pharisees who tried to get Jesus to teach his followers to follow the tradition of the elders rather than what he knew was the rightly divided word.

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

Jesus spoke the truth of God’s word about why he taught in parables:

(Mat 15:7-8 ESV)

Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; nor do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, “By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive; for this people’s heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Mat 13:13-15 MKJV)

When asked about marriage and divorce, Jesus spoke the revealed truth in Genesis 2:

And the Pharisees came to Him, tempting Him and saying to Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And He answered and said to them, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”, and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh?
(Mat 19:3-5 MKJV)

There are many more, these are just a few examples.  Jesus’ source for truth wasn’t the literature of the day, what the culture was doing, the philosophy of the times, or his own mind, it was in the revelation given in the scriptures, and the leading of the spirit. And for those of us who call him our Lord, it is up to us to follow that example.

May 20th, 2020 Posted by | Jesus' Teaching and Miracles | no comments

Jesus and the Manifestations of the Spirit

Some people say that the reasons that Jesus performed all the miracles he did certainly included compassion but also to establish that he was awaited Messiah.i  But Jesus himself stated another reason for his many wonderful works; he was teaching by example that we might follow his powerful walk in the spirit:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (Joh 14:12-14 ESV)

In the church epistles is where we are taught about the manifestations of the spirit, but that is not where they were introduced, just where they were enumerated and expounded on. Manifestations of the spirit are all over the bible.  Lets talk about a few:

And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” (2Ki 6:12 ESV)

Elisha manifested word of knowledge here. He knew by the spirit of God what the opposing king was planning in his bedroom!

And Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey have I struck down a thousand men.” As soon as he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone out of his hand. And that place was called Ramath-lehi. And he was very thirsty, and he called upon the LORD and said, “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came out from it. And when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore the name of it was called En-hakkore; it is at Lehi to this day.
(Jdg 15:16-19 ESV)

Samson manifested faith to best a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey and again to have a rock split to be refreshed from his thirst.

Anyone with a knowledge of bible history knows the story of Naaman. The manifestation of a gift of healing cleansed him from leprosy.
Of course there are many more, but it isn’t until after Pentecost when Christ’s awesome sacrifice allowed us to be redeemed and have the spirit of God in us again for the first time since Adam’s sin (Old testament believers with spirit had the spirit on them, not in them!) And Paul’s dealing with the Corinthians led him to expound on the manifestations of the spirit.

So, in 1 Corinthians 12, we read about manifestations of spirit:

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. (1Co 12:8-10 KJV)

From above we see listed nine manifestations: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith or believing, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning (distinguishing) of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues. Jesus manifested seven of these. Speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues was not introduced until Pentecost.

First of all, while there may be occasions where only one of these manifestations occur in the event, it may be that more than one manifestation is demonstrated in an event. For example, a person loves God, strives to live righteously, and looks to God in every event. And in the normal course of life he sees many needing healing, but while he can pray for each one, he is powerless to heal them. Then he encounters a certain someone, and he senses the spirit energizing in him to heal this time. This time he trusts that there will be healing; that is the manifestation of faith. When he lays hands on the person and speaks the words of healing that is the manifestation of the gift of healing. There may also be the word of knowledge and/or word of wisdom given him to give to the person in the event, perhaps telling them to avoid certain activities that led up to this illness.

So lets look at Jesus Christ manifesting the spirit. Here are verses where Jesus manifested word of wisdom:

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (Mat 17:24-27 ESV)

An internet search of this event can be found listing this as a miracle. ii It certainly is a demonstration of supernatural power. But the supernatural event may not have been that a coin was created in a certain fish as much as Jesus knew how to tell his apostle to find a certain fish in the sea that had somehow swallowed a coin! Knowing what to do is wisdom, and that would make this event an example of a word of wisdom.

Here are verses where Jesus manifested word of knowledge:

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts [emphasis added], and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luk 6:6-11 ESV)

Now, this was miraculous healing and that is powerful, but the fact that he knew their thoughts was divine revelation, in this case, word of knowledge. Word of knowledge is gaining information that can only be gained by the spirit of God. That is what happened here. There was also the manifestation of a word of wisdom in knowing by the spirit the best way to handle the situation. And there was the manifestation of faith and the gift of healing.

Jesus manifested faith:

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Mat 21:18-22 ESV)

We clearly see that Jesus used this exhibition to demonstrate the manifestation of faith. While this was not a healing or some miraculous feeding of thousands, Jesus both demonstrated and taught the manifestation of faith here.  It was Jesus teaching moment, one of many in the gospels.

Jesus manifested gifts of healing; there are so many:

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Luk 5:12-14 ESV)

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. (Luk 17:12-14 ESV)

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. (Mat 12:13 ESV)

And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. (Mat 8:13 ESV)

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Mat 15:28 ESV)

Jesus demonstrated such a powerful healing ministry.  Next, Jesus manifested working of miracles:

And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. (Mar 6:35-44 ESV)

Here we see the faith to perform this miracle of multiplying a few loaves and fishes into feeding thousands.

Jesus manifested prophecy. Jesus prophesied doom for cities that rejected him:

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Mat 11:20-24 ESV)

Jesus prophesied his betrayal:

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” (Mat 26:20-25 ESV)

Jesus prophesied the coming the baptism of the holy spirit:

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Act 1:3-5 ESV)

Jesus manifested discerning of spirits:

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” (Mat 9:32-33 ESV)

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. (Mat 8:28-34 ESV)

So we see that the manifestations talked about in 1 Corinthians chapter twelve were on full display by our Lord and Savior, certainly to serve us but also to teach us!

ii The Miracles of Jesus Christ: The Coin in the Fish’s Mouth, https://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/BS/k/1586/Miracles-Jesus-Christ-Coin-in-Fishs-Mouth.htm

April 29th, 2020 Posted by | Jesus' Teaching and Miracles | no comments

Jesus Taught the Kingdom of God.

Most people understand the idea of a Kingdom or monarchy. It is a land or a realm where a king or queen rules. Examples in the bible include Kings Saul, David, Solomon, and the succession of Kings in Israel and Judah. Examples of monarchs today are Queen Elizabeth of the British Empire and Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain where he has been the ruling since 1999i. What may be confusing are kingdoms where the king or queen is mostly ceremonial and the land is instead governed by a democratically elected government like Britain is today. In Israel, the king was the absolute ruler and that is the kind of kingdom of the Kingdom of God or Heaven at which we will be looking. Just remember the kingdom of God is the realm where God is the king or absolute ruler.

Before Jesus began his ministry John the Baptist began preaching about the Kingdom:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mat 3:1-2 ESV)

Likewise, Jesus, from the first of his ministry, preached the same message:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mat 4:17 ESV)

Jesus continued that theme throughout his ministry on earth:
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  (Mat 9:35 ESV)

Then when Jesus sent out the twelve he made a point about the importance of the Kingdom of God:

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luk 9:1-2 ESV)

Preaching the Kingdom of God is central to the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

Here are some verses about the Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God that help us understand what it is (while there is some debate among scholars, the terms Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God are used interchangeably):

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God [emphasis added] has come upon you. (Mat 12:22-28 ESV)

We learn something about this kingdom here; in it, the Spirit of God is energized to rule over demons! And there is a critical defining bit here about what this Kingdom is, “if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” The “place” of this Kingdom is where the Spirit of God is!  The place of the Kingdom is the spiritual realm.

This brings up another point. The Devil is real. Jesus taught about him, how he works, and what he can do. With Jesus, you have nothing to fear, but without him, as we shall see, you are living in the devil’s realm.

Another benefit of the residents of the Kingdom of Heaven is understanding:

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven [emphasis added], but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. “Hear then the parable of the sower: (Mat 13:10-18 ESV)

People in the kingdom of heaven have their understanding opened to be able to see the things of God while the people of the world are blind to them. Only people in the Kingdom can understand what is going on with God.  The world blinds people to the realities of both what God and the devil are doing. The world says God is dead, or not doing anything for anyone really, or its all science, and there is no devil, devils are just characters in horror movies and so on and so on.  The word of God shows us the life of the Redeemer so that we can share in the true life that is available to us.  Jesus is a worthy Lord, follow him!

The Gospels are chock full of teaching about the Kingdom:

“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.
(Mat 7:21 ESV)

This verse says that it isn’t enough to go to church and act like a Christian.  God looks at the heart and what people are really doing in their lives.

Perhaps some think that this is much ado about nothing because God created the earth, right? So he should already be king, right? Well, he did but he’s not. Look at these verses:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
(Joh 18:36 ESV)

I (Jesus speaking) will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,
(Joh 14:30 ESV)

Jesus is talking about Satan here who literally is the ruler of the world! For a moment I want to look at the Epistles for further enlightenment. Paul expanded on what this means:

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.  (2Co 4:4 ESV)

1 John adds this:

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  (1Jn 5:19 ESV)

Basically, mankind was given dominion over the earth in Genesis:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion [emphasis added] over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:27-28 ESV)

But Satan gained that control (dominion) when he got Adam to sin:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned [emphasis added] from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (Rom 5:12-14 ESV)

I repeat: Satan gained dominion from Adam when he got him to sin.  Part of Redemption is freeing believers from the god of this world, Satan.

So, now, back to what Jesus taught. Here again, are previously mentioned Gospel Kingdom verses relating to the topic of two kingdoms:

And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?… But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Mat 12:26,28 ESV)

Jesus declares here the battle of the kingdoms, the kingdom of God, and that of him who is enemy to God: Satan. The realm is the spiritual realm. And Jesus got very specific about the fact that every person is either in one or the other. First, read this whole passage:

Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye. Therefore if your eye is sound, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are? Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin, but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed? For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
(Mat 6:19-33 MKJV)

Now, let’s look at how the above discussed the living in different Kingdoms. “No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon”, this verse is saying you are either in one kingdom or the other. What is mammon, you say. It is part of the realm of Satan where “treasures on earth” are heaped up. The passage describes those under mammon who pursue treasures on earth including foods, drinks, fine clothes, but also any earthly treasure: houses, jewelry, vehicles, entertainment experiences. The passage describes that pursuit as full of darkness and evil. Pursuing the other kingdom means seeking the righteousness of God. And the passage says that amazingly, people in the Kingdom of God get earthly riches, they just don’t pursue them first, they pursue God first.

Look at the battle between the two kingdoms in this parable:

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom (emphasis added). The weeds are the sons of the evil one (emphasis added), and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Mat 13:36-43 ESV)

This could be called the plight of the sons of the kingdom versus the plight of the sons of the evil one. This parable is preaching the benefits of the Kingdom of God. The sons of the kingdom are clearly the winners here.  There is also prophecy in this parable, that the Son of Man will send his angels and throw in the fiery furnace.
There are so many references in the Gospels to the Kingdom. Look at these parables:

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven [emphasis added] may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Mat 18:23-35 ESV)

In the Kingdom of God God expects us to have mercy on others the way He has mercy on us, Here’s another parable:

“For the kingdom of heaven [emphasis added] is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
(Mat 20:1-16 ESV)

In the Kingdom of heaven, God expects us to realize that greatness isn’t determined by who was born first or called first.

There are many more. For an exercise look at the references to the Kingdom of God in the Beatitudes.
Jesus proclaimed many things about the Kingdom and it was and is a main emphasis in his teaching ministry.

April 25th, 2020 Posted by | Jesus' Teaching and Miracles | no comments

He Who Has Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear

Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  (Matthew 11:11-15 ESV)

One of the things that Jesus taught was having ears to hear, a euphemism meaning to hear to the point of truly understanding and following through on what was said.  In the above verses Jesus talks about John the Baptist, and compares him to Elijah, one of the most powerful prophets in the Old Testament.  Jesus was especially critical in this section because of the People’s response to John’s message:

 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.  (Matthew 11:16-20 ESV)

Here we see that Jesus is talking about how so many people do not really listen. Remember a lot of these people Jesus talks about as not listening were religious people, people who thought they were righteous and following God because they were continuing in the tradition of their church (synagogue).  When John the Baptist spoke many of these people, religious or not, said that he had a devil because he did things like fasting and living in the desert. And when Jesus spoke, because he “wined and dined” with people, many people said that he was a glutton and a drunkard. This is an interesting way of saying that people, even people who look like good, churchgoing folks, will find a reason not to listen to you, and pick fault with whatever your manner of life is.

But the point of this lesson is to not be one of those people that doesn’t hear the wisdom of God when it is spoken.  The end result of that mistake are some pretty bad things:

 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”  (Matthew 11:21-24 ESV)

This is as serious a condemnation as Jesus makes. He says that the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum are going to be more severely judged than those of Sodom. And we know what happened to the people of Sodom, it is as famous a tragedy worldwide as anything in the literature or history.

Another place that Jesus preaches the “he who has ears to hear” principle is in regard to the parable of the sower. Here we have good teaching taught to many people, and again there are many people who do not bring forth the fruit of the teaching. Some people don’t hear it all because there isn’t much in them to begin with. Other people hear initially, but because of all the rocks and thorns and thistles in their life they lose what they hear. Then there are those that are fertile ground, and are able to hold onto what grows, and those are the long-term winners.

Part of the problem that goes on here is the idea of mindsets. The principle of “mindsets” is actually a good thing. A mindset is a group of principles, axioms, and ideas that become firmly established in a person or group of people.

Mindsets can be good or bad. Some cultures have (had) the mindset that human sacrifice is necessary in order to have good fortune of this life.  In olden times many a baby was sacrificed in order that there might be a fertile crop, or a good growing season. In modern times, some say that abortion is just a continuation of this ideal where women sacrifice the inconvenience of having to raise a baby in order to have a better life.  Whether abortion is acceptable or not illustrates the point of different mindsets.

Modern mindsets can include the ideas that it is important to have a strong central government that regulates crime, and safeguards a marketplace that enables prosperity.

In other words, mindsets, in of themselves, are neutral. So, if they are neutral, what needs to take place if the mindset of the group of people is to be truly healthy?

There needs to be a willingness to ferret out the best ideals, while at the same time, a strong commitment is made to maintaining those ideals. You need both. If all you’re doing is constantly seeking out the best new idea then you can literally just go from one camp to the next without ever being in one place long enough for things to take root. On the other hand if all you do is stubbornly adhere to what you or the group you belong to says is the way to go, then you may just be stuck in a stubborn mindset that is really not the best, or even a long-term disaster.

Paul wrote about sticking to a mindset when he wrote about being steadfast and unmovable:

 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.  (1 Corinthians 15:58 ASV)

if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister.  (Colossians 1:23 ASV)

It’s important that we get the right mindset and stick to it. But it’s got a be the right mindset which is referred to here as “the hope of the gospel”.

I ran across the negative side of mindsets in a crossword puzzle where the clue related to the concept of idée fixe.  Idée fixe is really a psychological term with negative implications.  Someone who has an idée fixe is really obsessed with us some ideas that are harmful to them.  Idée fixe is the extreme negative mindset.  It goes to show you that as useful as mindsets are in adhering to good ideas they can be a runaway trains when it comes to negative ones.

What I would like to propose to you is that what a lot of people think are the basic tenets of the Christian faith are really negative mindsets. If that were not true there wouldn’t be so many arguments as shown on this website over so many issues where people have abandoned fellowship with each other, and even killed each other over doctrines of faith.

Sure, it’s easy to see that somebody in a cult like the Jim Jones fiasco has an idée fixe.  Or even those that advocate that it was (is) okay for Christians to kill Christians over issues like infant baptism or the Trinity.  But don’t the incredible disagreements over so many doctrines like biblical inerrancy, the right form of church government, end times theology, whether the gifts have ceased, the role of women as leaders, and even less powerful, but still controversial issues such as whether or not it’s acceptable to drink alcohol, whether tithing is still required or not, whether Genesis 1 was a literal 168 hour period or not, or that the KJV is the perfect, literal word of God are just some of the illustrations that show that there have got to be a lot of faulty mindsets in churches everywhere.

All of these matters point to the fact that modern-day Christianity is not original Christianity.

The law, the prophets, the Psalms, the teachings of Jesus, these are the elements of Christianity that we really have in common.   They are the foundation of original Christianity.

And in that regard, as our Savior Jesus taught, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”.

© copyright 2012-20 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

April 2nd, 2012 Posted by | Jesus' Teaching and Miracles | no comments

Jesus’ Word of God; Original Christianity’s Canon Of Scripture

And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me.  (Luke 24:44 ASV)

Jesus referred to the word of God as The Law and the Prophets, including the Psalms.  There was an old Testament Bible in existence at the time of Jesus called the Septuagint. Modern construction of the Old Testament includes the Law and the Prophets, but also what are known as the poetic books, like Job, Proverbs, and Esther, as well as historical records, such as Kings and Chronicles. All of these books were in the Septuagint.  Just as Jesus never mentioned the Septuagint as the Word of God, he never mentioned the poetic and historical books as the Word of God.

In churches and ministries that I have attended, in order to harmonize this verse with modern teaching Churches teach that Jesus was referring to the whole Bible when he spoke this verse.  The prevailing teaching given was that  Psalms was a generic term that means the rest of the writings.  Further explanation included the term Bible hadn’t been put into use yet, and putting it all together you can conclude that when Jesus referred to the law, the prophets, and the psalms he was referring to the same Bible that you and I use today.

That explanation doesn’t make any sense on several fronts.  Yes, there was an old Testament called the Septuagint, a version of a collection of Jewish scrolls that had been translated into Greek.  But Jesus never referred to those books as the Word of God. That may have been Jewish practice at the time, but that was not his practice.  Second, while he did quote from what we would call the Old Testament, he only referred to books that would be called the law, the prophets, and psalms.  If you do a search for Jesus’ references to the Old Testament you will find that Jesus made numerous references to the Law and the Prophets, including the Psalms, written by David, who was a prophet.[i]

I don’t know about you, but my example is Jesus Christ.  And if traditional Christianity varies from what Jesus did, I am not going to just automatically follow tradition.  Jesus was very specific when he referenced the Word of God.  He only referenced the law, the prophets, and the psalms.  Therefore Jesus’ canon of scripture only included the law, the prophets, and the psalms.  When we look a little later in time we see that the first believers after Christ followed this practice also.  The development of the canon of scripture that we have now took hundreds of years after this to develop.

That is not say that the other books are not valuable, they are.  Joshua wrote down the account of his leadership (Josh 24:26) and the account is inspirational. The same for some of the other books. But who knows who wrote Esther, Ruth, Job, and a number of other books?

What that means is that the word of God is not the KJV or any modern Bible, or even the officially canonized list of the Books of the Bible. (Do you disagree?  Then why is the listing of the Old Testament books in the Canon different from what we have today. From the creation of the canon in 397[ii] alone we see that the Christians of 397 a.d. declared Tobias and Maccabbees canonized. How can it be if the Old Testament we have today is the word of God that it is different from the Old Testament canonized ages ago?)

Jesus never referred to the whole Old Testament as Scripture.  Jesus set the standard for What the Word of God is, the Law and the Prophets, and the Psalms.  That was his canon of scripture.


[i] There is a listing of Jesus’ references to the Old Testament at JewsForJesus.org, this page located at http://jewsforjesus.org/publications/newsletter/2008_09/05.

[ii] Here is the text of canon of Scripture:

Canon 24. Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read in church under the name of divine Scriptures. Moreover, the canonical Scriptures are these: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the four books of the Kings, the two books of Chronicles, Job, the Psalms of David, five books of Solomon, the book of the Twelve [minor] Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, the two books of Ezra, and the two books of the Maccabees. The books of the New Testament: the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the epistles of the apostle Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews, one epistle; of Peter, two; of John the apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the Church across the sea shall be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read.

© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

February 21st, 2012 Posted by | Jesus' Teaching and Miracles | no comments