WELCOME!!

Welcome to our blog! We are living in a day and age where most churches are dimming their lights, to accommodate the darkness of this world.

Skewed, half and false Gospels are being preached from the pulpits and carnal Christianity has created their own god – A god who does not have any commandments, holiness, justice or wrath, but only love. Biblical teachings on truth and the reality of judgement and hell have also become “hate speech.”

As the elect of God, let’s separate ourselves from all the half-baked teachings and learn from each other, about the things the remnant in these latter days needs to know.

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SIGNS, WONDERS AND MIRACLES IN THE END-TIMES

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The Bible makes it clear that God is not the only one who works miracles. Satan can also perform supernatural signs. Jesus warned three times in Matthew 24 against deceptive miracles in the latter times. He said, “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”  Signs and wonders are therefore not always a sure sign of God’s activity, since they can also be performed by false christs and false prophets.

These warnings are very important, for the time is at hand. Christ have said; “Take heed that no man deceive you.”- Matthew 24:4. Deception will play a very big role in the last days, for the “…devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.“- Revelation 12:12.

In the Book of Revelation 16:13,14 under the sixth plague which is still future, shortly before the return of Christ, we are presented with the following words; “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Notice that the miracles which will be done during the time will be done by devils, meaning demons, yes, fallen angels.

The Apostle Paul gives the same warning in his discourse about the Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2.  “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10).

The false prophet (Revelation 13) will promote the authority of the Antichrist, with the ability to perform great signs, even making fire come down out of Heaven.

But before that time comes, Satan will have to do a preliminary work of this miracles. We know that “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8).

Satan is using men to deceive fellow men and this he does via ” great signs and wonders” and also unsound doctrines. In this he arises counterfeit prophets. So where do these counterfeit prophets and teachers arise? The Bible is explicit: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.” (2 Peter 2:2-3). These individuals arise among the professed Christians. They are usually not some blasphemous atheists from somewhere unknown. And other than miracles, what do they do? Peter continues to say, “and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” They will make money or a living out of you and God’s name.

Christ said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heavenbut he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23). What a tragedy!

These individuals call Jesus “Lord, Lord” which shows that they are professed Christians, and notice that Christ says “Many of them” not few. Christ tell them; “I never knew you“. That means that the power behind the miracles done by them was not from God but from Satan. For there are only two powers in this universe, God almighty and Satan.

Remember how the Samaritans who were deceived by Simon? “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one.to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. (Acts 8:9,10). It is no wonder Paul says, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15).

It is also a fact that God can work very powerful miracles. Christ worked miracles. But he also preached the word of the Kingdom. He rebuked error and sin among the people and he told them to repent, but only few accepted him. The problem with many who followed Christ followed him for wrong reasons, that is for miracles that he was doing. “They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?” (John 6:30). And when Christ then began to preach, many stopped following him. Are you following Christ because of miracles and are those miracles from God or Satan? If we just follow because of feelings and emotions and not the Word of God, we will be deceived in an instant.

Christ also told his disciples to do miracles, but they were not just there to heal. Their primary mission was to preach Christ and Him crucified. Unfortunately, even those who work miracles under the power of Satan speak some truth of God in his name, to deceive. God says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Test all things says the Lord. Do not just believe, test what they say with the scripture and “to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light (truth) in them.” (Isaiah 8:20). The early Christians “…received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  (Acts 17:11).

So, we need to be very careful in who we dealing with. It is written; “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:15, 20).

(Partly based on an article posted by News24 on 13 September 2013)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (30)

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CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 6)

28.    Withdrawal to Ephraim

Reference: John 11:47-54

The reason for the withdrawal to Ephraim was the intense hatred and conniving of the chief priests and the Pharisees. After the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, many more of the Jews believe on Jesus and the rulers feared that the whole nation would become His followers unless they took action to stop Him. The chief priests were Sadducees and His bitterest enemies. The reasoning of Caiaphas, the high priest was that if the whole nation acclaimed Jesus as Messiah and King, the Romans would come in with their armies and destroy their nation. Therefore, it is expedient that this one man, Jesus should die for the people, so that the whole nation should not perish. Caiaphas was not preaching substitutionary atonement: he was merely saying it is either Jesus or them. Either they kill Him or they will all get killed. But at the same time it was true: he being the high priest prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for that nation only (the Jews in the land), but that He should gather in one the children of God which were scattered abroad (the dispersion of Israel). This could not refer to the Gentiles, for they were not the children of God at that stage and they were not scattered abroad. The dispersed Israelites were the covenant children of God and they were scattered among the Gentiles.

It would seem that the Lazarus episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Caiaphas said to the others in the Sanhedrin, “Ye know nothing at all.” That is, you don’t understand how serious this matter is. We must take action. And so we read: “From that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” It was for that reason that Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but retired to a wilderness area to a town called Ephraim, where He continued with His disciples. This takes us back to the record of the Synoptists who record some of the further events before Jesus went back to Jerusalem for His last Passover, where He Himself became the Passover Lamb.

29. Ten Lepers Healed

Reference: Lk. 17:11-19

This story illustrates again the great variety Jesus used in His healing ministry. These ten lepers in a certain village Jesus passed through stood afar off (cf. Lev. 13:45,46), and cried: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus did not anoint them, lay hands on them, or go through any kind of ceremony, but simply said: “Go show yourselves to the priest,” for the priest was the one who had to examine the leper and pronounce him either clean or unclean. It was only after they had started off to find a priest that they were healed. But the unusual thing about this miracle is that only one of the ten turned back to thank Jesus and he was a Samaritan. Un-thankfulness is a sign of apostasy. Paul describes the apostasy of the human race in Rom. 1:21 in this way: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful …” Only one out of ten glorified God and was thankful. Thankfulness is one of the chief attributes of the true believer.

30.     The Coming of the Kingdom

Reference: Lk. 17:20-37

The first two verses of this section are peculiar to Luke. Much of the remainder of the section is repeated in the Olivet Discourse in Matt. 24. We will reserve most of our comments until we get to that part of the narrative.

The Pharisees demanded to know when the Kingdom of God should come. Jesus’ answer has been twisted to mean that the Kingdom of God will never come in a literal sense upon this earth, but that it is entirely a spiritual condition within the hearts of men. Even a superficial reading of the text should be evidence enough that Jesus was not telling these Pharisees who were plotting to kill Him that the Kingdom of God was in their hearts. That would have been the last place to look for the Kingdom of God.

What Jesus said was, “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.” The central theme of Christ’s preaching was that the Kingdom was near. The King of that Kingdom was in their midst. The statement that the Kingdom of God does not come with observation does not contradict all of the other statements of Christ about His visible return in power and great glory to establish His kingdom upon the earth. In fact, just a few verses after vs. 20, Christ states: “For as the lightning, when it lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall the Son of man be in his day.” When Christ came the first time the Kingdom was present in His person. It was in their midst, but it did not come with any spectacular, sudden events. It was like the seed that fell into the soil and gradually developed. It is interesting that the cognate verb of the word “observation” is used in Lk. 6:7; 14:1; and 20:20 of the Pharisees, “And they watched (or observed) Him.” They were watching Him, of course, to try to trap Him in either His words or His works whereby they might accuse Him.

While very similar to parts of the Olivet discourse this section does contain several other statements unique to Luke. One is that the days would come when the disciples would long to see one of the days of the Son of man and would not see it; that is, Jesus would be absent from them and they would be going through persecutions and would have to stand alone.

The other is that besides speaking of “as it was in the days of Noah,” here He says: “Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot, they ate, they drank, they sold, they planted, they builded; but in the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all: after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed.”

And finally, there is an additional word concerning those who are taken and those who are left which is not in the Olivet account. Many expositors teach that those who are taken are the saints who are raptured at the coming of Christ. It is evident that the ones taken in Noah’s day were taken in the flood and Noah was left. The same was true in Lot’s case. He was left and the others were taken away. But here the disciple asked, “Where, Lord?” and He answered: “Where the body is, thither will the eagles also be gathered together.” Where are they taken? Surely not to heaven, but to judgment, the same one mentioned in Rev. 19:17,18, which is called the “supper of the great God,” when the eagles will consume the bodies of the ungodly.

31. The Parable of the Unjust Judge

Reference: Lk. 18:1-8

This parable is similar to that of the Importunate Friend in Lk. 11:5-10. There the comparison was between two friends, one which came late at night seeking a favor, and the other refusing to get out of bed to help until he was moved by the importunity of his friend. Here the comparison is between a poor widow who has been wronged and an unjust judge who refused to discharge his obligations to the woman, but who finally did so because he became weary of her continual coming to him.

In neither case does Jesus teach that we have to keep praying until God gets weary of hearing our prayers before He will be moved to answer. Rather, the lesson is that if an unjust judge would avenge this widow because of her continual coming to him, how much more will God avenge His elect which cry day and night unto Him?

The application of this prayer parable is also to the time of the great tribulation through which God’s elect remnant of Israel will go, which will immediately precede the coming of the Son of man, referred to in vs. 8. The answer to this prayer will be the outpouring of God’s wrath upon those who have been venting their wrath on God’s elect.

32. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

Reference: Lk. 18:9-14

The preceding parable of the Unjust Judge was also eschatological in nature, having to do with God’s elect in the future tribulation. This one is soteriological, having to do with salvation. However, it must be interpreted dispensationally. The Publican’s prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” has been adopted by many evangelists as the model prayer for new converts, only they add, “and save me for Jesus’ sake.”

While it is true that it is only by the mercy and grace of God that any sinner gets saved, this Publican was not simply asking God to be merciful to him. The verb, “be merciful” is “hilaskomai,” to be propitious. It is the same word translated “reconciliation” in Heb. 2:17. The noun form, “hilasterion” is translated “mercy seat,” in Heb. 9:5. By referring back to Ex. 25:17-21 it will be seen that the mercy seat was the lid of the ark of the covenant which contained two tables of the Law. The Israelite killed his animal sacrifice and the priest took the blood and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat. The blood thus intervened between God and the Law which had been broken and effected an atonement for sin.

No doubt this publican had offered his sacrifice and now he prays that God would accept his offering and be propitiated toward him. This was the divine order before the death of Christ. But now since the death of Christ we learn that God has set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood (Rom. 3:25). Therefore, God has already once and for all been propitiated: there is no need to pray for God to do it again. All we need to do is to receive the propitiation and thus be reconciled through the death of His Son. We do not pray for God to send His Son to die for our sins: He has already done that. Why, then, should we tell new converts to pray that God would be propitiated when He already has been? Rather tell the sinner, or the new convert, that God has been propitiated, that is, that His holiness and righteousness have been completely satisfied by the death of His Son, so that He is now free to justify ungodly sinners simply upon believing in Jesus.

The Pharisee trusted in himself that he was righteous and therefore had no need of reconciliation. Jesus said the Pharisee prayed with himself. Even though he told God he was thankful he was not a sinner, his prayer got no higher than his head. He informed God about all of his fine qualities and goodness, while the Publican, convicted of his sinfulness, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote his breast in contrition. This Pharisee fits perfectly into Paul’s description of Israel in Rom. 10:3: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” See Paul’s self- righteousness in which he once boasted and what he did with it after his confrontation with Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:4-9).

33. Teaching on Divorce

References: Matt. 19:3-12; Mk. 10:2-12

If we had only Mark’s account of Christ’s discourse on divorce and the two verses in Luke (16:17,18), we might suppose that there was no situation where Christ would permit divorce. But in this account in Matthew, as well as in Matt. 5:32, He does make the exception in the case of fornication. The Pharisees asked Him about the legality of a man putting away his wife for any and every reason. They hoped to find something in His answer by which they could condemn Him.

As usual, Jesus answered by asking them a question: “What did Moses command you?” And they replied that Moses permitted divorce. But Jesus told them that God’s plan from creation was that man and wife become one flesh and remain in that relationship. However, because of the hardness of man’s heart Moses wrote this law permitting divorce. Marriage is a relationship in the flesh, “one flesh,” and therefore death which brings an end to the flesh, brings an end to the marriage, so that the remaining partner is free to marry again.

Jesus plainly taught that a husband who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the same rule holds for the wife. Paul teaches essentially the same principles for this present dispensation. He teaches that death dissolves the marriage bond (Rom. 7:2,3). In the same verses he taught that a divorced person who remarries commits adultery. He went back to the Eden edict that man and wife become one flesh (Eph. 5:31). He taught that married partners should not separate, but if they do they should remain unmarried (1 Cor. 7:10,11,39). He further taught that when one partner dies the other is free to remarry, but only to another believer.

If a man or woman is married to an unbeliever (apparently married before one of them became a believer), the believer should remain with the unbeliever in hopes of converting him or her to the faith, but if the unbeliever deserts the believer, Paul says the believer is not under bondage in such cases (1 Cor. 7:15). Some understand this to mean that the believer is then free to remarry. Paul also teaches, among other things, that officers in the church should have only one wife (1 Tim. 3:2). Living under the dispensation of grace does not mean that the believer is free to sin. Next to our union with Christ, Paul upholds the marriage union as the highest of all human relationships. In fact, he illustrates our union with Christ by the marriage relationship, teaching that having been raised from the dead through  identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, we are married to Him (Rom. 7:4).

Matthew gives us a little added detail in that the disciples, when they heard what Jesus taught about divorce, said, “If that’s the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Christ’s answer, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given,” does not mean that His teaching about divorce applied only to the few who heard it. Rather it applies to the statement of the disciples: “it is better not to marry.” For Jesus goes on to say there are three classes of men who remain unmarried: those who are sexually incapable from birth, those who have been made incapable through surgery, and those who for the sake of the Kingdom of God have chosen to remain single. Paul was an example of the latter (1 Cor. 7:7-9,32). Paul does not command celibacy. He says that every man has his proper gift of God. Some are able to live pure, clean lives apart from marriage. Others do not have this gift, and for them, Paul says, it is better for them to marry.

34. Christ Blesses the Little Children

References: Matt. 19:13-15; Mk. 10:13-16; Lk. 18:15-17

Matthew introduces this section with the word then, which indicates that Jesus’ words on the sanctity of marriage apparently prompted mothers in the audience to bring their children to Jesus for His blessing. It is interesting that Matthew and Mark call them “paidion” (young children) and Luke calls them “brephe” (a new born baby). There was probably quite a range of ages represented. The disciples thought it was beneath the dignity of Jesus to be distracted from His more important work by children, so they scolded the mothers who were pressing forward with their little ones.

Mark says that Jesus was indignant with this action of His disciples. Great emphasis is given throughout the Scriptures on the importance of the proper care and training of children, and yet many pastors, like the disciples of old, think it is below their dignity to minister to such. They always want to be delving into the “deep” things of God. Why waste their years of study and training on such simple folk? Relegate the children to those of lesser or no special training!

Both Mark and Luke record the further application which Christ made that unless one receives the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter in. Because children are of such a trusting nature it is doubly important that they be given God’s truth to believe, and to be protected from false teaching which they would receive with equal readiness. Parents who take the attitude: “I am not going to force my beliefs on my children. I am going to let them grow up and choose what to believe for themselves,” are not only unwise but are definitely disobedient to the Scripture (Prov. 22:6).

There are certain Christian denominations which teach that the Church is spiritual Israel and therefore heir to Israel’s covenants. They believe that the children who are members of their church family are children of the covenant and therefore have a special relationship to God which other children do not enjoy. They believe baptism has taken the place of circumcision, so that at baptism the infant is regenerated as a child of the covenant. Some call this “presumptive regeneration,” that is, they presume the child is regenerate until later in life the contrary becomes evident. Thus, churches become filled with young people who presume they were regenerated at baptism but are in fact un-regenerated. Regeneration takes place only in association with personal faith in Jesus Christ.

The logical conclusion of infant baptismal regeneration is that unbaptized children are lost and if they die in an unbaptized state, they will be forever separated from God. Rome tries to mitigate this harsh doctrine by teaching that such infants do not actually go into the fires of hell but are confined to a place called “limbus infantium,” forever shut out from heaven.

Much confusion and harm has been done by a failure to distinguish between Israel and the Church of this dispensation, and the relation of people to the covenants of Israel. Baptism never took the place of circumcision in New Testament times. Both were practiced concurrently by the believing Jews. No child is regenerated by baptism. Children are born with a sinful nature and need to be saved as they become able to personally receive Christ as their Savior. They need the redemptive work of Christ the same as an adult. And on the basis of that redemptive work, God is now free in His elective purposes to apply that work to any and every infant that He chooses to remove from this life in infancy. But God has not set an age of accountability, so that we can say, the child is covered by the work of Christ until he is six or twelve years of age. That age may differ widely with different individuals. We cannot begin too early to tell our children the story of God’s great love and grace in giving the Lord Jesus to die for our sins.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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JESUS AND THE CHILDREN – ACCOUNTABILITY

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“13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” – Matt. 19:13-15

It is interesting that Matthew and Mark (Mk. 10:13-16) call the children in these Scriptures “paidion” (young children) while Luke (Lk. 18:15-17) calls them “brephe” (a new born baby). There was probably quite a range of ages represented. The disciples thought it was beneath the dignity of Jesus to be distracted from His more important work by children, so they scolded the mothers who were pressing forward with their little ones.

Mark says that Jesus was indignant with this action of His disciples. Great emphasis is given throughout the Scriptures on the importance of the proper care and training of children, and yet many pastors, like the disciples of old, think it is below their dignity to minister to such. They always want to be delving into the “deep” things of God. Why waste their years of study and training on such simple folk? Relegate the children to those of lesser or no special training!

Both Mark and Luke record the further application which Christ made that unless one receives the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter in. Because children are of such a trusting nature it is doubly important that they be given God’s truth to believe, and to be protected from false teaching which they would receive with equal readiness. Parents who take the attitude: “I am not going to force my beliefs on my children. I am going to let them grow up and choose what to believe for themselves,” are not only unwise but are definitely disobedient to the Scripture (Prov. 22:6).

There are certain Christian denominations which teach that the Church is spiritual Israel and therefore heir to Israel’s covenants. They believe that the children who are members of their church family are children of the covenant and therefore have a special relationship to God which other children do not enjoy. They believe baptism has taken the place of circumcision, so that at baptism the infant is regenerated as a child of the covenant. Some call this “presumptive regeneration,” that is, they presume the child is regenerate until later in life the contrary becomes evident. Thus, churches become filled with young people who presume they were regenerated at baptism but are in fact un-regenerated. Regeneration takes place only in association with personal faith in Jesus Christ.

The logical conclusion of infant baptismal regeneration is that unbaptized children are lost and if they die in an unbaptized state, they will be forever separated from God. Rome tries to mitigate this harsh doctrine by teaching that such infants do not actually go into the fires of hell but are confined to a place called “limbus infantium,” forever shut out from heaven.

Much confusion and harm has been done by a failure to distinguish between Israel and the Church of this dispensation, and the relation of people to the covenants of Israel. Baptism never took the place of circumcision in New Testament times. Both were practiced concurrently by the believing Jews. No child is regenerated by baptism. Children are born with a sinful nature and need to be saved as they become able to personally receive Christ as their Savior. They need the redemptive work of Christ the same as an adult. And on the basis of that redemptive work, God is now free in His elective purposes to apply that work to any and every infant that He chooses to remove from this life in infancy. But God has not set an age of accountability, so that we can say, the child is covered by the work of Christ until he is six or twelve years of age. That age may differ widely with different individuals. We cannot begin too early to tell our children the story of God’s great love and grace in giving the Lord Jesus to die for our sins.

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (29)

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CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 5)

23.  Parable of the Unjust Steward

Reference: Lk. 16:1-13

Alford in the Greek Testament states: “No parable in the Gospels has been the subject of so much controversy as this.” The main problem concerns the commendation of this unjust steward by his master. Some contend that according to the laws that governed stewards, this man had the right to discount bills and thus he actually did nothing amiss in thus ingratiating himself with his master’s creditors.

Others think his action in discounting the bills was illegal and that the master’s commendation was not an approval of the act of bilking him out of his rightful due, but simply a recognition of the shrewdness and sagacity of the steward in planning for his future welfare. But if the steward was guilty of malfeasance, why did not the master have him arrested? One answer is that the steward, knowing he would be fired, made up out of his own pocket the amounts he had allowed the creditors to discount their bills, knowing that he would be more than repaid by the favors he might expect from the creditors.

The Companion Bible makes vs. 9 a question: “Do I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness?” And the answer is, “No.” The Living Bible paraphrase also gives this sense, holding that the end does not justify the means. Although the exact meaning of the parable may be hard to come by, it is clear from what follows that it was spoken against the Pharisees, for we read that they being covetous “derided him.” The word “derided” is derived from the word for “nose,” and means “they turned up their noses at Him.” The ancients had an expression, “to hang on the hooked nose,” that is, to turn up the nose and make a hook of it, on which to figuratively hang the subject of ridicule.

The general lessons from the parable are that worldly people show more wisdom in making provision for their future material needs than the children of light do in making provision for their future in the Kingdom; that faithfulness or unfaithfulness do not depend upon the size of the responsibility; that unfaithfulness in caring for another’s goods unfits one for being entrusted with true riches; and that it is impossible to serve two masters.

24.  The Rich Man and Lazarus

Reference: Lk. 16:14-31

There is, of course, a vital connection between this story and what has gone before. Jesus has been dealing in particular with the Pharisees who were sticklers for law observance, and yet many of their traditions had negated the law. That is why Jesus told the parable of the unjust steward, for the Pharisees were lovers of money (covetous – vs. 14); and why He brought up the matter of divorce, for the Pharisees had liberalized divorce far beyond the permission of the law. And that is why He told the story of Dives (Latin for rich) and Lazarus, for no doubt the rich man represents the Pharisees.

This story is often called a parable, although the Scripture does not do so. Since this story, if factual, proves the falsity of all views about death being soul-sleep or non-existence, those who hold such views claim that this is a parable and suppose that they have eliminated the objections posed by this story. But whether it is a parable or not has not the slightest effect upon its reference to death. A parable is a figure of speech in which a story from real life is used to illustrate some higher truth. If consciousness does not continue after death, then it would be impossible to base a higher spiritual truth upon a statement which is false.

Consider, for example, the parables in Matt. 13. If a sower never sowed seeds but only rocks, the parable of the sower would be ridiculous, for rocks never sprout and produce fruit. The same would hold true for the parables of the tares and the mustard seed. If a field was not a plot of ground but only a mental concept, then hiding a treasure in a field would be meaningless. If pearls were dead leaves, it would not make sense for a man to sell all that he had and invest his entire fortune in one dead leaf. If nets were never cast into the sea but only into a vacuum, how could it trap all kinds of fish? And likewise, if death is always complete unconsciousness or non-existence, as some claim, how could the dead be represented as talking to one another?

There are numerous doctrinal questions raised by this story. Perhaps the most evident one is: Was Lazarus saved because he had no enjoyments in this life, and was Dives lost because he did have enjoyment? The context gives ample evidence of why Dives was lost. As representative of the Pharisees he was a hypocrite (12:1); he denied the claims of Jesus Christ (12:9); he was a rich fool (12:20,21); he was an unfaithful steward (12:47,48); he was unrepentant (13:5); he refused John’s baptism (7:30), thereby rejecting the counsel of God. No statement is given why Lazarus was saved, but perhaps his name throws some light upon his character. Lazarus is the Greek name for the Hebrew Eleazar, which means “God is helper.” The fact that the beggar is named but the rich man is not is significant. God calls His own by name.

There is also an eschatological question: Is Abraham’s bosom heaven and is hell or hades where the rich man went, the lake of fire? Apparently, the story dealt with the then present time, for the rich man’s brothers were still alive. The lake of fire had not yet been opened up, but after it is, hades will be cast into it (Rev. 20:14). Although the final judgment had not yet taken place, the unsaved were already in a place of suffering.

Old Testament saints at death went to sheol (Hebrew equivalent to the Greek hades), Genesis 37:35, grave is sheol. Therefore, it would seem that Hades must be divided into two parts, for the saints did not go to the same place as the wicked, yet both went to sheol. The story of Lazarus does present two places with a great gulf fixed between them. Many also believe that Christ went to Hades, for God’s promise was that His soul would not be left in that place (Acts 2:27). Some believe that when Christ ascended He led all of the souls of the saved in the upper compartment of Hades into heaven itself. However that may be, it must be remembered that the saved have not yet been perfected in their resurrection bodies.

Luke 16:24 might seem to contradict this fact, since Dives prays that Lazarus might dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his parched tongue. How could disembodied spirits have fingers and tongues? In answer we can say only that man was made in the image of God, and that God is pure Spirit, and yet God can speak; the Bible speaks  many  times  about  God’s  hand  and  His  arm  (Ps.  44:3;  Isa.  52:  10), and other members which we associate with the body. If pure spirit without bodily parts can have faculties comparable to our bodily parts, it may well be that the human spirit without the physical body has similar counterparts.

This parable or incident from history, whichever way it may be understood, teaches several important lessons. God’s people should have social concern for those less fortunate. The greater wealth God permits one to gain, the greater the responsibility to use it for the good of others. Riches in the life to come are far better than riches in this life.

Decisions made in this life endure for eternity. After death there is a great gulf fixed between the saved and the unsaved. There will be no second chance after death. There is conscious existence after death, either of joy or of sorrow. On the part of the unsaved they would do anything to keep their relatives and friends from sharing their fate. God has given us His Word and if we won’t be persuaded by that Word, nothing will persuade us, even though one rose from the dead. People often say they would believe the Bible if they could see someone come back from the dead and tell them about it. The fact is that some One has come back from the dead and has told us all about it, and still they refuse to believe, all of which shows their insincerity and pretense.

25.  Repentance and Forgiveness

Reference: Lk. 17:1-6

Compare this passage with Matt. 17:20; 18:6,7,15,21,22. Children often play pranks on their fellow-playmates, such as tripping them and causing them to stumble or perhaps fall. Sometimes such pranks can cause very serious injury. It seems that as we grow up, we are prone to transfer this trait from the physical to the moral and spiritual, where the results are even more serious.

Christ said that in the world, constituted as it is, it is inevitable that occasions of stumbling will come, but woe to the one who causes them. The word “skandalon” (from which we get our word scandal) meant originally the part of a trap where the bait was fastened, and then it came to mean a snare or the trap itself. In Scripture it is always used metaphorically of anything that causes prejudice, that hinders others or causes them to fall or stumble. It is translated “occasion to fall (stumble), offense, thing that offends, stumbling block. Almost always the cause of stumbling is evil, as in the present case. On the other hand, the wicked may be caused to stumble by that which is good in itself. Christ Himself is called a “rock of offence,” (Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8; 1 Cor. 1:23), and a cause of stumbling to those who are disobedient to the Word. The preaching of the Cross was a stumbling block to Israel. Paul speaks of “the offence of the cross” (Gal. 5:11). Romans 11 is all about Israel’s stumbling and fall. In vs. 9 we read: “And David said, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them.”

Paul shows that the misuse of Christian liberty can be a cause of stumbling: “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion of falling in his brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13). He also shows that teachings contrary to sound doctrine can be occasions of stumbling (Rom 16:17). Especially serious is that which causes a little child or a young Christian to stumble and go astray. A mature person should be able to protect himself from tripping over such stones and is therefore the more responsible.

A failure to forgive may also be a cause of stumbling. Christ goes on to say: “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against thee seven times in a day, and seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” There is a great deal of teaching in the Bible about forgiveness and the impression is often gained that forgiveness should be granted to all, regardless of their sins or their attitude. In this teaching of Christ, it is plain that forgiveness is to be granted only after repentance or change of mind on the part of the one who has sinned. God is surely the most gracious and forgiving One in the universe, but does He forgive the unrepentant? Those who refuse to admit they have sinned and therefore refuse to receive the gracious gift of salvation? We may do great harm both against the offender and the one offended by granting blanket forgiveness without any indication of change of attitude on the part of the offender.

We can feel with the disciples when the Lord told them to forgive a brother who offends seven times in one day. That almost seems too much. We can almost hear them sigh: “Lord, increase our faith.” The Lord spoke much in parabolic language and we take His words to have this meaning, when He said: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye would say unto this sycamine (actually the black mulberry) tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea, and it would have obeyed you.” This is in itself a parable in answer to the disciples’ request for more faith to be able to live up to Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. Faith is compared to a mustard seed. The seed is planted in the ground where it has to overcome many obstacles in pushing its seed-leaves up through the hard, lumpy soil. A living faith is something like that; it has power to overcome all obstacles.

26.  Parable on Discharging One’s Duty

Reference: Lk. 17:7-10

The social order has changed much since Biblical times. Slavery was universally practiced. Whereas the word slave occurs but twice in the A.V., the word meaning slave but translated servant appears hundreds of times. Even though our social order has changed, so that we no longer find slavery permitted in most civilized societies, there are still two masters to whom men are slaves: either to God or to Satan. Paul states:

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves slaves to obey, his slaves ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the slaves of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you . . . But now being made free from sin, and become slaves to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:16,17,22).

God owns the Christian by right of creation and by right of redemption. We are not our own, we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19,20).

The parable before us is based upon the duty of the slave to his master. The slave has certain duties which he is supposed to perform. He deserves no praise for doing only what is his duty. Service to the master comes first, before consideration of self. Therefore, Jesus says: “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say ‘We are unprofitable slaves; we have done that which was our duty to do.'”

Although he has done all his duty, yet he has done nothing except what he ought to have done, so he can claim no merit for himself. He could claim to be profitable only if he had done more than his duty. This parable may give the impression that Jesus is a hard taskmaster, but from the Christian’s viewpoint, if he is truly humble, his very best service for Christ falls short of his ideal. But from the divine standpoint, even though we feel ourselves unworthy and unprofitable, yet He will reward even a cup of cold water given in His name. God sets us free from the slavery of sin and Satan, and we then yield ourselves to Him as His bond-slave. We must never forget that relationship.

27.  Raising of Lazarus

Reference: John 11:1-46

We have already considered its significance in connection with the raising up of the nobleman’s son who was at the point of death. It took place at the beginning of our Lord’s ministry when the nation of Israel was at the point of death, but now at the end of His ministry He has been rejected and Israel is dead spiritually. Having already considered the typical and dispensational aspects of this sign, we will point out a few matters of special interest.

When Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death,” it might appear that He was mistaken, since Lazarus did die. What He meant was that the final outcome of this sickness would not be death, but that which would glorify God in restoring life to Lazarus.

It seems strange that after saying Jesus loved, in a very special way, these two sisters and their brother that He would delay two whole days before setting out to help them. But God always does things at the right time, and Jesus knew by waiting two days Lazarus would have died and been buried four days before His arrival, and this would give Him the opportunity to demonstrate that He was indeed the Resurrection and the Life, by bringing back to life one whose body had already gone into corruption. No doubt God often delays in answering prayers for similar reasons. The sisters were probably saying, “O, if He would only hurry and get here in time.” And then after He did arrive, all they could say was, “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” But Jesus had told His disciples: “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there.” If we were going to see a loved one who was critically ill we would be sad and disappointed to learn that he had died before we could get to him. If he had been there Lazarus would not have died, for no one ever died in His presence, and He would not have been able to perform this sign.

We have already seen a difference in the spiritual character of Martha and Mary (Lk. 10:38-42). Martha makes a good confession of her faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and in her belief in the resurrection, and she says exactly the same thing to Jesus that Mary said a little later: “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” But when Mary spoke these words and Jesus saw her weeping, we read: “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him?” and “Jesus wept.” There was something in Mary’s spirituality that touched Jesus far more deeply than in Martha’s.

No doubt the raising from the dead of Lazarus can be used as an illustration of salvation when a spiritually dead person is raised to life. First, it is important to understand that this work of regeneration is wholly the work of God. Jesus did not say, “Now, Lazarus, you do your part and between the two of us we will get you back to life.” Jesus simply shouted: “Lazarus, come forth.” And he came forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes. This was a double miracle. He came out of the cave-tomb even though his binding was tightly wrapped so that he couldn’t move his hands or feet. Although the giving of life is entirely the work of God, there are things that man can do and is responsible for doing. Man could roll away the stone from the door of the tomb, and man could loose him from the grave clothes. Both of these things are the responsibility of the Christian ministry. But sad to say, many converts never get fully loosed from the grave clothes so they can enjoy the freedom and liberty there is in Christ Jesus. Christ spoke of the Son setting us free and Paul exhorts us to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free (Gal. 5:1), and not to be bound with the grave clothes of ritualism.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (28)

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CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 4)

17.        How Many Will Be Saved?

Reference: Lk. 13:22-30

This is a question which many, no doubt, have asked. In our modern world comparatively, few are professing Christians and fewer yet are truly saved people. How was it back in Israel in Jesus’ day? Jesus did not answer this man’s question directly, but instead appeals to his questioner to strive to enter in at the narrow door. (Gate in the A.V. should be door, for it is an entrance to a house.) Christ does not state what the narrow door is, but it is the door that leads to eternal life and salvation.

In a similar illustration in Matt. 7:13, Jesus said: “Enter in at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Jesus in other places declared that He Himself was the Door and the Way, and it seems most reasonable to give that meaning to the “door” before us in this passage.

The door and the way do not lead to heaven as such, but to the Messianic Kingdom which will be established on the earth. When Christ returns the door will be closed and it will be too late to try to enter. There will be great weeping among the unsaved when they see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets, along with those from the east and west, north and south, sit down at the banquet, and themselves cast out. When we remember that there will be great tribulation just before Jesus returns to earth, it will be better understood how different the way will be for those who received Jesus as Messiah. While the principle of Christ as the Way is the same today, our Gospel message is not to strive to enter it, but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His vicarious death in order to be saved.

18.        Jesus Warned About Herod’s Plot

Reference: Lk. 13:31-33

Jesus, at this time, was journeying from Perea toward Jerusalem through Galilee. Galilee was Herod’s jurisdiction (Lk. 23:7). The Pharisees, surely not to protect Jesus, but apparently to frighten Him, told Him: “Get out of the country; for Herod has determined to kill you.” But Jesus knew their intentions and replied: “Go tell that fox.” It is illuminating the figures under which the Bible characterizes certain people. The Gentiles were referred to as dogs, an unclean and vicious animal at that time. His disciple Simon He called a Rock. He refers to Himself in the verses that follow as a lowly hen who projectingly gathers her chicks under her wings. But Herod was a fox. He had murdered John the Baptist and numerous others in his quest for power. What was the message they were to carry back to Herod?

“Behold, I cast out demons and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” There is disagreement about the meaning of being perfected. The word, perfect, means to come to an end, and the question is whether Jesus meant His ministry in Galilee would be completed within three days or He would come to the end of His life. We know that His death did not occur within three days, and we do know that He soon after left Herod’s jurisdiction, so that He was out of Herod’s reach. It does seem however, that clearly implied in that “third day” and His being perfected was His death upon the Cross, for He goes on to speak of His death in the next verse: “Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” Jerusalem has been called the slaughterhouse of the prophets. What Jesus is saying is: “It would not be fitting for such a Prophet as I to be killed anywhere but in Jerusalem.” His mention of Jerusalem and its hostility to God’s prophets caused Him to begin weeping over this great city, the account of which follows in the next section.

19.        The Lament Over Jerusalem

Reference: Lk. 13:34,35

This lament over Jerusalem took place outside the land of Judea. After He reached Jerusalem He lamented over the city again as recorded in Matt. 23:37-39. Perhaps the most striking thing about this lament is not the tender compassion of Jesus for a people who hated Him, but the mystery of the interaction of the Divine will and the human will. The words, “how often would I” and “ye would not” are actually the words for “to will.” “How often I willed to do it, but you willed otherwise.” There are some who believe that there can be no such a thing as human will if God’s will is sovereign. Others practically make man’s will sovereign by discounting the will of God. But both can be interpreted as being taught in Scripture and human wisdom may not be able to reconcile the existence of both. Some of the difficulties associated with this subject may be alleviated by recognizing the distinction between the two words used for will in the Greek N.T., “thelo,” and “boulomai,” the former implying more the idea of wish, desire, and the latter more the idea of the deliberate exercise of the will, determination. But with all of the lexical helps there is still an unbridged gulf in our understanding of this subject and between Calvinism and Arminianism.

Christ further declared: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” and “Ye shall not see me, until the time when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The temple was originally God’s house, but Christ now calls it “your house.” It is evident that this prophecy was not fulfilled until the year

Before 70 A.D., when the Romans under Titus destroyed the temple, God gave Israel another opportunity to repent and receive the Kingdom, but again they rejected Christ, persecuted His Apostles and blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

20.     Two Parables In the House of a Chief Pharisee

Reference: Lk. 14:1-24

Although the Pharisees opposed Jesus, it seems that He was often invited into their houses to eat. Their motives most often seemed to be that they might find something in His teaching to condemn Him. This occasion took place on the Sabbath day. They were constantly looking for Him to break the Sabbath, the penalty for which was stoning to death (Num. 15:31-36). There was a man present who was afflicted with dropsy and Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. By now they apparently had learned not to answer Jesus’ questions, for every time they did, they got themselves into deeper trouble, so they remained silent. Jesus then healed the man and let him go. He asked them again, as He so often did, if their ass or ox fell into a pit on the Sabbath would they pull it out on the Sabbath day? And again, they remained silent.

A. The Parable of the Ambitious Guest. This parable was evoked by the actions of the guests who tried to beat the others to the seats of honor at the table. The parable is a simple lesson in courtesy and humility in social behavior, but it surely has spiritual applications also. The one who exalts himself will be abased and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. There may be exceptions to this rule, at least temporarily, in the social realm, but not in God’s realm.

Then Jesus turned to His host who had invited Him and told him when he made a feast not to invite his friends and relatives and rich neighbors, for they would repay him by inviting him to feasts in their homes. Instead, he should invite the poor and crippled and blind who could not recompense him in this life, then he would be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. The principle is that men will not be rewarded or recompensed by God in resurrection if they have already been rewarded in this life (cf. Matt. 6:1-7). It is certain Jesus did not intend by this parable that people should not be hospitable to family and friends. He was speaking here of parties given to ingratiate one’s self with others for ulterior motives.

B. The Parable of the Great Supper. One of the guests upon hearing Jesus’ words said, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God.” Jesus answered him with a parable, the nature of which indicates that this seemingly pious remark actually indicated that the man looked upon himself as an elect Israelite who had been predestinated to eat bread at the Messiah’s table in the Kingdom, but who had actually been making excuses in summons to God’s invitation.

This certain man made a great supper and invited His guests: “Come, for all things are ready.” But they all had what they thought were legitimate excuses. So, the Host told His servants to go out into the streets and alleys and bring in the poor and crippled and blind. Having done this the servants reported there were still empty seats, so He sent them out again into the highways and hedgerows to compel them to come in until the house was filled. “None of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

There can be no doubt that the ones that were bidden were the people of Israel, particularly the leaders, the rulers of Israel. The poor and crippled and blind are not necessarily representative of the Gentiles, although we know that in the Kingdom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Paul states an important principle in Rom. 9:6: “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” Mere physical descendants of Abraham are not children of the promise. There is a spiritual Israel but they are also physically the seed of Abraham (Gal. 6:16). Gentile Christians have made the mistake of making themselves to be spiritual Israelites.

21.     Parables on Counting the Cost

Reference: Lk. 14:25-35

The healing miracles of Jesus made Him very popular with the common people. Great multitudes followed Him, but they were following Him largely for what they might be benefited and not because of love or dedication to Him. So He turned and said: “If any man come unto me and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” No doubt Jesus was using hyperbole, for to actually hate father and mother is to break God’s commandment. And Paul states: “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh” (Eph. 5:29). What He was saying is that no man could be His disciple who places love for anyone else, even his own self, above his love for Him. He was God and the Law demanded love with the whole of man’s being and powers toward God, while at the same time requiring love for others. If present day church rolls were called of all who did not meet Jesus’ requirement, there would be a drastic drop in membership statistics. We are prone to go for numbers, to make grace to mean relaxation of responsibility, to make Christianity popular. Jesus had only a “little flock” (Lk. 12:32) of real disciples, in spite of the fact that great multitudes thronged Him.

Both the parable of the tower and the parable of the king going to war teach the same lesson. The lesson is stated in vs. 33: “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” This does not mean a literal forsaking of parents or wife or children, which would be desertion, which again would be the breaking of God’s Law, but one who does not so dedicate all that he has to Christ cannot be His disciple.

Both of these parables are most often misinterpreted. In the first a man planning to build a tower sits down first and counts the cost to be sure he has sufficient money to complete it. Not to do so and having to leave it half finished would expose him to ridicule. This is usually interpreted to mean that before one becomes a Christian he should sit down and see if he thinks he has enough strength to hold out to the end, and if he decides he doesn’t he should forget the whole idea of becoming a Christian. The same interpretation is given to the parable of the king going to war. The king sits down first and consults with his generals whether his army of ten thousand can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. And if he sees he has no chance of a victory he sends a message ahead before the battle begins desiring conditions of peace. This stronger King has been made to represent Satan and before declaring war on the Devil one should be sure he is strong enough to defeat him.

But the true interpretation of these parables is just the opposite. When or where in Scripture did God ever tell people to sue for peace with the Devil? Or where did He ever tell people to be sure they were strong enough to live a good life before becoming a Christian? If Scripture teaches anything, it is that the natural man is weak and sinful and incapable of doing anything to please God. And who is the King who confronts the sinner, if it is not Satan? It is God. When we see our weakness and sinfulness and our inability to fight against Him, all we can do is to sue for peace. Don’t wait until the judgment day and then go into battle for your goodness and righteousness. One who thinks himself sufficient to confront God in that way will turn but like the salt in the following parable (vs. 34,35), which lost its savor and was good for nothing but to be cast out. Refer to Matt. 5:13 and Mk. 9:50 for other references to salt.

22.     Three Parables of Lost Things:

The Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son

Reference: Lk. 15

These parables were spoken to the Scribes and Pharisees who were complaining because Jesus was receiving sinners and eating with them. They not only did not consider themselves to be sinners; they isolated themselves from those they called sinners and had only hatred for them. Jesus was just the opposite.

In these parables He portrays God’s joy and rejoicing over the repentance of sinners. It is most common for us to talk about the joy of sinners upon finding salvation, but Jesus emphasized the joy of the Father in finding sinners. Grace is emphasized more in Luke than in either Matthew or Mark. The word “grace” does not even appear once in those two gospels, but it is found eight times in the Greek in Luke. The word does not occur in these parables but the working of grace is clearly manifested. The Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin manifest the grace that seeks out the sinner, and the Lost Son manifests the grace that receives the sinner. There is a parable about the Lost Sheep also in Matt. 18:12 which was given as a conclusion to Christ’s teaching about little children, which reinforces the truth that children need to be saved. They are not automatically saved because they are children. A terrible condemnation rests upon one who offends or leads astray one of these little ones.

It is most important to distinguish between repentance and salvation. Repentance is a change of mind and this change of mind is always involved when one is saved. However, one may change his mind and still not be saved. Repentance is not sorrow for sin, although it often does and should result in such sorrow, but sorrow for sin is not to be equated with salvation. Many other factors are involved in the act of salvation. However, one may be truly saved and still have the need for repentance (cf. 2 Cor. 7:8-12).

The question therefore arises whether the parable of the Prodigal Son best represents the original salvation of a sinner, or the restoration of a saint. This problem is complicated by the fact that the Jewish people were, for all practical reasons, in covenant relation with God, which in a sense made them all children of the covenant and children of God. The emphasis of John’s and Jesus’ preaching was repentance for this straying, sinful chosen people of God.

Today, the covenants as such are suspended. No one by nature has a privileged place before God. God has placed all on the same plane and all must believe the gospel about Christ’s death and resurrection to be saved. Only truly saved people are children of God today: under the covenants a whole nation was the people of God which included many whom we would not consider having been saved. This fact is borne out further by the older son in the parable. All acknowledged that he represented the Pharisees, but the Pharisees were the chief enemies of Christ who plotted to have Him put to death, and yet the Pharisee is pictured as a son, and not only as a son, but as a son who had stayed with the father faithfully serving him. To apply the parable to salvation today one must make some changes in the story to fit the facts. For today it might better represent two saved persons, one who had gone away into deep sin and the other who had become self-righteous and unloving.

It will be well to notice a few principles from this parable. The younger son said, “Give me.” This was the moment of his fall. He fell as soon as he desired his father’s wealth apart from his father’s presence and fellowship. Sinners never fall up, they always go down and it was not long before the son found himself down in a pigpen, eating what the swine left. The boy came to himself and then came to his father. The Holy Spirit speaks first to the conscience and then to the heart. The father saw him when he was a great way off and ran and kissed him. No one turns to God without God meeting him more than halfway. The father did not reprimand his son and tell him to go take a bath and find himself some decent clothes. He kissed his son and told the servant to prepare a feast and to bring the best clothes and robe him royally. The son hoped only that his father might take him back as a hired servant, but the father honored him as his son.

The other son was angry and refused to take part in the celebration, thus revealing the true heart condition of the Pharisee who professed to be righteous and law abiding. Actually, he was hateful and opposed to God’s love and mercy and grace.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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WHAT HAPPENS TO A BELIEVER AT DEATH? (PART 2 Of 2)

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DOES THE DEAD KNOW WHAT IS PRESENTLY HAPPENING ON THE EARTH?

Can the dead watch our every move, and do they think about us?

A) THOSE WHO BELIEVE THEY DO

Some people believe that the dead do indeed see what is happening here upon the earth. In other words, our dead loved ones know the intimate details as to what is taking place in our daily lives. The biblical arguments for this idea are as follows:

1) The Rich Man Could See Lazarus

The Scripture says that the rich man in Jesus’ story could see the dead beggar Lazarus in the unseen world. We read of this in Luke’s gospel:

“In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:23 NRSV).

Lazarus was visible to the rich man. The fact that the dead can see others apart from themselves may indicate the dead can view what the living are doing.

2) Abraham Knew Details Of The Life Of The Rich Man And Lazarus

Also in this account, we find that Abraham was aware of details of the life of the rich man as well as the beggar Lazarus. We read the following:

“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish’” (Luke 16:25 ESV).

Abraham knew that Lazarus had suffered while the rich man lived in comfort without any regard for the needs of others. The fact that he knew these details may give further indication that the dead know what the living are doing.

3) There Is A Cloud Of Witnesses Watching Us

The writer to the Hebrews says that the people who are presently living are surrounded by a number of witnesses. He put it this way:

“Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:1,2 CSB).

The witnesses are able to see the believers who are on the earth. Consequently, they know what is happening to us.

4) The Martyrs Knew What Happened On The Earth

The Bible says that the martyrs in heaven knew what was happening on the earth. We read of this in the Book of Revelation:

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Revelation 6:9-11 ESV).

They wanted to know how long it would take for victory to be granted, for their lives to be avenged. They were told to rest a while longer because the number of the future martyrs was still incomplete. It seems that they could only ask the question because they were observing events here upon the earth, or at the very least, knew what was going one.

In addition, the fact that they were told to rest a while longer further indicates they knew exactly what was happening on the earth. We also find that those in heaven were conscious that Satan was being defeated. Again, we read of this in the Book of Revelation. It says:

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10 ESV).

They knew Satan had been thrown out of heaven to the earth. We also find these believers in heaven rejoicing at the fall of Babylon. This is also revealed in the Book of Revelation. It says:

“But you, O heaven, rejoice over her fate. And you also rejoice, O holy people of God and apostles and prophets! For at last God has judged her on your behalf” (Revelation 18:20 NLT).

These passages are thought to teach that dead can see the living or at least know what they are doing.

B) THOSE WHO BELIEVE THEY DON’T

While there are passages that seem to teach that the dead do indeed know what is happening to the living upon the earth, others feel the Scripture does not either teach, or imply, that the dead know what the living are doing. Indeed, they believe that there are better ways to understand these passages.

The main arguments which are given, that the dead do not know what is occurring on the earth, are as follows.

1) The Dead Do Not Know About This Life

To begin with, there seems to be a number of statements in Scripture about the dead not knowing what the living are presently doing.

In the Book of Job, we find that Job said that the father, who had died, did not know whether his sons were rich or poor. He states it in this manner:

“They never know if their sons grow up in honor or sink to insignificance” (Job 14:21 NLT).

Though this could refer to his present earthly knowledge, it may also apply to him in the afterlife.

However, this statement is found in the section of the Book of Job where Job and his friends are trying to determine why Job was suffering so greatly. Later, the Lord would call their discussion “words without knowledge.”

Consequently, we must be careful in using any statement from them to determine the truth of what goes on in the next life.

2) There Is No Knowledge In The Grave

The Book of Ecclesiastes also says the dead have neither knowledge nor wisdom of what is happening in this life. It says:

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV).

This passage teaches lack of knowledge on the part of the dead. This, however, may be speaking of things from a human or observational perspective.

From our vantage point here upon the earth, it appears that the dead do not know anything which is going on. Consequently, this passage should not be used to give a definitive answer to the question.

3) Abraham And Jacob Do Not Know What Is Presently Going On

From a passage in the Book of Isaiah we find that two of the patriarchs, Abraham and Jacob (Israel), do not know what is presently happening upon the earth. In other words, they have no knowledge as to what their descendants are doing. The passage read as follows:

“You are our Father. Even though Abraham doesn’t know us and Israel doesn’t pay attention to us, O LORD, you are our Father. Your name is our Defender From Everlasting” (Isaiah 63:16 God’s Word).

This is thought to be another indication that the dead have no knowledge of what is presently happening on the earth.

Again, this statement may only be speaking of something that could possibly happen; not necessarily something that does happen.

In addition, the passage says that Abraham and Israel may not acknowledge or pay attention to the people. This does not necessarily mean that they are unaware of them or what they are doing. Consequently this passage is not conclusive.

4) We Are Not Told That Lazarus Could See The Rich Man

In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, we are told that the rich man could see Lazarus. However, we are not told that Lazarus could see the rich man. All this says is that unbelievers could see the believers, not the other way around.

In addition, it says nothing about seeing those on earth or knowing what they are doing. The rich man saw Lazarus in the realm of the dead, not the realm of the living.

5) Abraham Knew Details Of The Rich Man And Lazarus

Furthermore, in the account of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham, in heaven, knew of the earthly details of the lives of Lazarus and the rich man. This does not necessarily mean he could see them while they were living or that he was observing their lives.

6) The Cloud Of Witnesses Are Examples Of Faith

The witnesses that are referred to in the Book of Hebrews are the heroes of faith mentioned in Chapter 11. There is no thought whatsoever in this passage of them knowing what is presently occurring on earth.

7) There Is No More Pain In The Next World

The Bible says the presence of the Lord is a place where there is no suffering or pain for the believer. If, however, the dead in heaven could see what their loved ones are doing on earth, they certainly would be in pain. They would see many of their loved ones on a course to eternal separation from God.

This is certainly inconsistent with what the Bible says about the situation of believers in the afterlife; they are in constant joy and happiness.

8) The Exact Situation With The Martyrs In The Book Of Revelation Is Unclear

The only possible example that we have in Scripture of the dead in heaven knowing what is going on here upon the earth is found in Revelation 6:9-11. In this passage, the souls under the altar cry out for vengeance. Yet there are other explanations of this passage which do not indicate that the dead are watching those on the earth or knowing what people are doing.

Indeed, all we are told is that these martyrs realize that they have not yet have had their deaths avenged. Nothing more. We do not find anything said about their understanding of precise details of what is happening on the earth. They are merely lamenting the fact that the number of martyrs keeps increasing.

This of course would lead them to conclude that their deaths have not been avenged. To draw the conclusion that they can see what is happening on the earth is not warranted.

Consequently, while we have a number of arguments which may teach the dead do know what is presently occurring upon the earth there does not really seem to be enough evidence to make a conclusive case. In fact, when we examine the totality of Scripture the idea that the dead know what the living are doing seems unlikely.

On Final Point: There Should Be No Attempted Contact With The Dead

Even if one believes that the Bible does teach that the dead know what the living are doing, this should NEVER cause anyone to attempt to reach out and contact them. As we stressed in a previous question, any attempt to do so will result in deception. We again call to mind what the Lord said.

“So why are you trying to find out the future by consulting mediums and psychics? Do not listen to their whisperings and mutterings. Can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God? “Check their predictions against my testimony,” says the LORD. “If their predictions are different from mine, it is because there is no ight or truth in them” (Isaiah 8:19,20 NLT).

Therefore, even if one supposes that their dead loved one is watching them here upon the earth this should never be a justification of trying to talk to them. They can be of no help whatsoever to us. We are to talk to the Lord and to Him alone.

CONCLUSION

While there are seemingly some passages in Scripture that may indicate that the dead know what the living are doing there are other passages in Scripture that seem to contradict this idea. As far as we know on the earth, the dead know nothing. We know from other parts of Scripture that they are conscious in the next world.

It would seem to be inconsistent with the idea of total happiness in the afterlife if the dead know what the living were presently doing. How could they really enjoy the blessings of heaven if they were observing the living in their current state?

So, do the dead believers know what the living are doing? From the totality of Scripture we would have to conclude that this is highly unlikely.

Indeed, the Scriptures are clear that the dead cannot truthfully communicate with the living. God forbids this practice of attempting to contact the dead in the strongest of terms.

(Source: Don Stewart – What Happens One Second After We Die?)

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WHAT HAPPENS TO A BELIEVER AT DEATH? (PART 1 Of 2)

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Upon death, the soul, or spirit, of the believer goes immediately to be with the living God. Believers are alive and conscious in this state. In the Bible, there is no idea of a period of soul sleeping. The blessings of Christ are received immediately.

WHAT HAPPENS TO A BELIEVER IMMEDIATELY UPON DEATH?

The intermediate state for the believer is the time in which the spirit, or soul, exists between physical death and the resurrection of the body.

Though the Bible does not devote a lot of space to this topic, there are some basic conclusions we can make. They include the following.

1) The Spirits Of The Believing Dead Are With God

The spirits of departed believers are with the Lord. This Bible clearly teaches this. For example, we read in Ecclesiastes:

“The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7 NIV).

The writer to the Hebrews also makes it plain. He wrote the following.

“You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge of all people. And you have come to the spirits of the redeemed in heaven who have now been made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23 NLT).

There are, at this moment, redeemed people in heaven. Their perfected spirits reside in the presence of the Lord while awaiting their resurrection from the dead.

Jesus also talked about believers being with Him in the next world. In His prayer to God the Father shortly before His betrayal, trial and death, He said the following:

“Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation” (John 17:24 CSB).

Jesus desired that those who had trusted in Him would be with Him in the afterlife. This is a further indication that the spirits of the believing dead are with the Lord.

2) Believers Are Immediately In Christ’s Presence At Death

We also discover that, at death, the spirit of the believer immediately enters into Christ’s presence. There are a number of illustrations of this in the New Testament.

The Criminal Next To Jesus

Jesus promised the dying criminal on the cross that he would be with Him immediately after death. Luke records the following:

“And he [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 ESV).

This promise also applies to each of us who believe. We will immediately be with Christ in paradise upon our deaths.

The Testimony Of Stephen: Jesus Is Waiting For Believers

Upon his death, the martyr Stephen called upon Jesus to receive his spirit. We read of this in the Book of Acts:

“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:55-59 ESV).

This is another indication that the believing dead go immediately to be with Christ.

The Teaching Of The Apostle Paul

To The Corinthians, the Apostle Paul also taught that believers would be in Christ’s presence upon their death. He wrote:

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling . . . We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:1,2,8 NIV).

Paul said that being “away from the body” is to be “at home with the Lord.” The New Living Translation puts it this way:

“Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8 NLT).

To The Philippians Paul wrote::

“For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23 NKJV).

Paul says that his death would be far better for him than remaining alive because he would be in the presence of Christ.

The Example Of Lazarus In Jesus’ Story

In Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus, when the beggar Lazarus died, the Scripture says that he was immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord.

“The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side” (Luke 16:22,23 ESV).

The rich man in Hades saw both Lazarus and Abraham. Each was in a better place than the existence which he found himself. They were with the Lord!

Therefore, from these five examples, it seems clear that believers go to be immediately with the Lord upon their death.

3) The Intermediate State Is Not The Place Of Final Reward

Though there is an in-between state for believers, it is not the place of their final reward. In other words, it is an incomplete state. Final rewards will occur after the resurrection of the dead, which is still future. Though Christians who die go to be with the Lord, this is not the time when they receive their final reward, or their resurrection body. This is something which still awaits them in the future.

4) Believers Are Conscious After Death

Believers, however, are in a state of awareness after their death. Jesus told the religious leaders in His day that God was the God of the living, not of the dead. He reminded them what the Lord had said to Moses at the burning bush.

“I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is God not of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32 NRSV).

At the time the Lord made that statement to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for hundreds of years. Yet God said that He “is” their God, not that He “was” their God. This means they were still alive in His presence though they had been physically dead for many years.

This is another indication that there is a conscious existence for the believer after death.

5) Believers Will Live Together With The Lord

Paul told the church at Thessalonica that believers, once united with the Lord, will always be with Him. He put it this way:

“He died for us so that we can live with him forever, whether we are dead or alive at the time of his return” (1 Thessalonians 5:10 NLT).

The wonderful promise is that believers will live together with the Lord for all of eternity.

6) The Intermediate State Is A Place Of Rest And Blessedness

We also find something else from Scripture. Those who die in Jesus Christ are in a restful state. The Bible says:

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “O Lord, holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until [the number of] their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been, would be completed” (Revelation 6:9-11 CSB).

These martyrs, while in a restful state, needed to rest a little longer before the Lord avenged their death.

We also read that those with the Lord are said to be “blessed.” The Book of Revelation puts it this way:

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them” (Revelation 14:13 ESV).

The presence of the Lord is indeed a place of blessing.

7) There Is Activity In The Intermediate State

Though the intermediate state is a place of waiting, it is also a place of activity. We read about this in the Book of Revelation where it describes those believers who have died.

“That is why they are standing in front of the throne of God, serving him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will live among them and shelter them” (Revelation 7:15 NLT).

The intermediate state does not consist of inactivity. In fact, it is a place of service.

8) It Is A Place Of Holiness

The believers who have died are presently in a state of holiness. In the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John asked an angel the identity of certain individuals. This angel gave the following answer to the prophet:

“And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14 NKJV).

The clothes that they are wearing, white robes, speak of holiness. They had been washed white with the blood of the lamb.

9) Spiritual Growth During The Intermediate State

While it may be possible for some type of growth or development in the in-between or intermediate state, the Bible is completely silent on the matter. We do not know, one way or the other, if there is any spiritual growth for the believing dead. If the Bible is silent then we should not speculate. We simply do not know the answer.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE INTERMEDIATE STATE

There are other observations that need to be made about the intermediate state. They can be summed up as follows.

1 There Is An Emphasis On The Final State

Though we have some information from the Bible concerning the intermediate state, it is not something that is emphasized. The hope of the believer is the coming of Jesus Christ. It is at that time the dead are raised in a glorified body, judged, and receive their rewards. The intermediate state is only a short interval between this life and the fullness of God’s promises. Hence, this is the reason for the lack of emphasis on the intermediate state.

2) There Is A Limited Amount Revealed

In addition, the Bible only reveals a limited amount of information about what goes on in the presence of the Lord. Paul wrote of his experience.

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know– God knows. And I know that this man– whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows– was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 NIV).

We find from these verses that Paul was not allowed to tell what he had experienced. If we knew exactly how wonderful it was, we probably would not be content to remain on the earth for one more hour. Being with the Lord will truly be an incredible experience!

Although believers have a natural curiosity about the intermediate state, Scripture focuses on the time when Jesus Christ returns. At that time, He will raise and judge the dead, and then set up His everlasting kingdom.

The Lord will then bless His people with such wonderful things; things that our minds presently cannot even imagine.

DOES THE DEAD KNOW WHAT IS PRESENTLY HAPPENING ON THE EARTH?

Can the dead watch our every move, and do they think about us? These questions will be answered in part 2 of our series.

(Source: Don Stewart – What Happens One Second After We Die?)

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A FEW FACTS ON THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM

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1 PREMILLENNIALISM IN THE EARLY CHURCH

Most of the earliest Church Fathers believed in a literal kingdom on earth which would follow the return of Christ. Philip Schaff, an amillennialist historian admitted:

“The most striking point in the eschatology of the Ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origin, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine) opposed it…. It distinguishes, moreover, two resurrections, one before and another after the Millennium, and makes the millennial reign of Christ only a prelude to his eternal reign in heaven, from which it is separated by a short interregnum of Satan.” – Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church 2.XII.158.

2 WHY A MILLENNIAL KINGDOM?

Old Testament and New Testament promises require it.

Scripture contains many prophetic passages which include promises which require an earthly kingdom for their fulfillment (e.g., Mat. 19:28). Without a future earthly kingdom, huge portions of the Old estament must be spiritualized into meaningless generalities.

Biblical covenants require it.

Four unconditional covenants were made with Israel: the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New covenants. Elements of each of these covenants remain unfulfilled and require a future earthly kingdom to bring them to pass. For example, Israel must occupy the Promised Land in peace, never to be removed again (Amos 9:1415).

Passages which don’t fit now or the eternal state.

The Old Testament contains numerous passages which cannot find fulfillment in the present state nor the eternal state. They describe a time of great blessing which is far beyond our current experience, but which includes birth, sin, death (Isa. 65:20), and the sea none of which are found in the eternal state (Rev. 21:1, 4).

To demonstrate righteous rule in the original creation.

With Jesus ruling from the throne of David on earth, the world will see what life should have been in the original created order which was “very good.”

3 MILLENNIAL PASSAGES

Identifying Millennial Passages

In many cases, Millennial passages can be readily identified because they describe an incredible time of blessing and promise, but they contain elements which are abolished in the eternal state. Watch carefully for passages which sound like “heaven on earth,” but which include mention of sin, death, rebellion, judgment, a Temple, or the sea. None of these occurs in the eternal state and provide indicators that a millennial passage may be in view. Also look for the transition between the Tribulation (or Day of the Lord) with great judgment and bloodshed, followed by promises of restoration.

Key Millennial Passages

Although there are many millennial passages, some of the most prominent include: Ps. 72:1-20; Isa. 2:2-5; Isa. 11:1-10; Isa. 66:19-24; Eze. 37:21-28; Eze. 47:1-12; Zep. 3:8-12; Mic. 4:1-13; Zec. 14:8-11, 16-21; Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:6-7; Rev. 20:46.

4 BIRTH AND DEATH IN THE MILLENNIUM

Raptured and Resurrected Saints

Raptured and resurrected saints participate in the Millennial Kingdom, but they do not contribute to the growth in population because they have glorified bodies (Mark 12:25).

Living Saints Survive the Tribulation

Isaiah indicates children will be born and people will die at a great age (Isa. 65:20). Who bears these children? They are from the faithful who remain alive on earth at the Second Coming. This includes the believing Jewish remnant, many who were kept safe (Rev. 12:6) and other Jews and Gentiles which managed to survive. They enter the kingdom from the “sheep and goat judgment” (Mat. 25:3134).

No Post-tribulation Rapture

This precludes a posttribulational rapture. If all the believers are taken in the Rapture at Christ’s return and then immediately return to earth, there are no believers left in their natural bodies to form the initial birthing population of the Millennial Kingdom.

5 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM

Duration

One thousand years. (Rev. 20:25)

Theocratic Rule

God will rule in the person of Jesus Christ on the throne of David. King David reigns as a prince under Christ. (2Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:20-37; Isa. 24:23; Jer. 30:9; 33:15-17; Eze. 34:23-24; 37:24-25; 45:22; Dan. 7:13-14; Hos. 3:5; Luke 1:30-33)

Representative Rule

The twelve apostles will represent Christ ruling over the twelve tribes. Church age and Tribulation saints will represent Christ ruling over the Gentiles. (Isa. 32:1; Dan. 7:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:30; Rev. 3:21; 5:10)

Universal Rule

Christ’s rule will extend both spiritually and literally over the entire earth. (Ps. 2:69; 72:8; Dan. 2:44; 4:34; 7:14, 27; Mic. 4:12; Zec. 9:10)

Seat of Government

The earthly Jerusalem will be restored, blessed, and greatly expanded to serve as the seat of government and worship. (Isa. 62; Isa. 65:18-19; Eze 48:15-19; Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:2)

Global Environment

The heavens and earth will be renewed to restore the environment to Eden-like conditions and repair the damage from man’s long reign of abuse and the judgments of the Tribulation period. (Isa. 65:17; Mat. 19:28)

Populace

Resurrected and glorified saints will rule in the midst of Christ’s “brothers” (the faithful Jewish remnant), and the “sheep” (faithful Gentiles) who survive the Tribulation and enter the kingdom to form its initial population. Children will be born to those who enter the kingdom in their natural bodies. (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 26:19; 65:20, 23; Mat. 25:31; Rev. 20:4)

The Curse

Many aspects of the curse (Gen. 3:1519) will be reversed. People will live to a great age, but death will still occur. As before the flood, animals will revert to vegetarianism and will no longer fear man. Living waters will flow from beneath the Sanctuary of the Temple bringing life to the regions they water. (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:20, 25; Eze. 47:8-12; Zec. 8:4; 14:8 (cf. Rev. 21:12)

Productivity

The earth will be fruitful and men will enjoy the fruit of their labors. (Ps. 67:6-7; 72:16; Isa. 35:1; 55:13; 65:22; Joel 2:24-26; 3:18; Amos 9:13-14)

Mt. Zion

The region of Mt. Zion will be lifted up to form the Mountain of the Lord’s House (where the Millennial Temple will be). (Isa. 2:2; 56:7; Eze. 20:40; 40:2; Zec. 14:4, 10-11; Mic. 4:1)

Israel

Israel will finally inhabit the Promised Land permanently and in peace. She will serve as the focal point of the nations because Jesus will reign from Jerusalem. (Gen. 13:15; 17:8; 1Chr.17:9; Ps. 105:8-11; Isa. 60:21; Jer. 3:18; 7:7; 30:3; 31:8-9; Eze. 37:25; 39:25-29; Amos 9:11-15)

Peace

All implements of war will be destroyed in favor of implements of productivity. Nations will no longer go to war. Disagreements between nations will be judged by Christ from Jerusalem. (Ps. 72:37; Isa. 2:5; 9:7; Eze. 37:26; Mic. 4:3)

Worship

A temple will stand in Jerusalem and all the nations will go up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Tabernacles. Sacrificial offerings will be resumed. (Isa. 2:3; 56:6-7; 60:20-23; Eze. 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17, 20; Jer. 33:18; Dan. 9:24;

Joel 3:18; Hab 2:7-9; Zec. 6:12-15; 8:20-23; 14:16-21; Mal. 3:35)

Demonic Realm

Satan will be bound in the abyss and demons will be imprisoned in the regions of Babylon, Edom, and possibly the abyss. (Isa. 34:8-17; Rev. 18:2; 20:3)

Language

The curse of Babel (Gen. 11:7), which introduced varied languages will be reversed. All the earth will have one language. (Zep. 3:8-12)

(Source: Tony Garland – Spirit & Truth)

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MODERN PROPHETS AND BIBLICAL PROPHETS

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In these modern days, many people love to add the title of Prophet to their names. Towards the end of the Jesus’ earthly ministry, His disciples came to Him with several questions concerning the future: “Tell us … what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus responded: “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

It is it is our duty as watchmen and watchwomen on the tower, to warn Church members to beware of false prophets and false teachers who lie in wait to deceive and to ensnare and destroy faith and testimony.

How could the people in biblical times tell the difference between a genuine prophet of God and a fraud? The mere claim that someone had the prophetic gift certainly did not make it so. How would the people know which person spoke for God and who did not? What were they to do?

The Lord made provisions for this problem. The Bible lists certain tests for a genuine prophet of God. Moses recorded God as saying:

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?”

If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18.18-22 NIV).

There are a number of things we can learn from what the Lord has said about who had the prophetic gift and who did not.

  1. They Were To Speak In The Name Of The Lord

From this passage, we observe that a prophet of God must speak in the name of the Lord. The prophet shall not encourage the people to follow after false gods.

No matter how correct a prophet may seem to be, if he, or she, does not encourage people to follow the Lord, the God of Israel, then that person cannot be considered a prophet of God. Merely getting some future events correct is not enough to be considered a genuine prophet of God.

This is primary.

  1. They Were 100% Right 100% Of The Time

Another characteristic of Bible prophecy is that the biblical prophet must be 100% right 100% of the time. If a prophet is representing the Lord, then their predictions will always be without error.

As soon as a so-called prophet makes one mistake, then that person is no longer able to be called a prophet of the true and living God. God’s prophets did not make mistakes! The prophet Habakkuk wrote:

“The LORD answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late” (Habakkuk 2:2-3 CSB).

The words of the Lord, through the prophets, will indeed truly come to pass, and they will not be late! Indeed, when the Lord predicts the future what He says always comes to pass.

  1. They Had To Give Evidence Of Authenticity Of Their Gift In Their Lifetime

A practical question arises. How would the people know if a particular prophet was sent by God? Anyone could claim to have the prophetic gift.

What if someone claimed to be God’s prophet, yet predicted events that would not be fulfilled for hundreds of years? How could the identity of the prophet be established?

God provided a simple method so that the people would know if this person was actually speaking for the Lord. Their authenticity, as a genuine prophet, would be demonstrated by making a specific prediction of something locally that would happen in their own lifetime.

In other words, before that person could be received as God’s prophet to the people, they had to give supernatural evidence of their calling. This would be evidence which everyone could weigh and evaluate.

An Example: The Local Prediction Of Isaiah

For example, Isaiah the prophet spoke to King Hezekiah about the possible attack of the Assyrian army. He made the following prediction:

“Therefore, this is what the LORD says about the king of Assyria: He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or build up an assault ramp against it” (Isaiah 37:33 CSB).

The prophecy was clear. Although the city of Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army, there would be no destruction whatsoever.

Furthermore, there would not even be one arrow shot into the city by the enemy. This specific prophecy was literally fulfilled. The Bible says:

“Then the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the [next] morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and left. He returned [home] and lived in Nineveh” (Isaiah 37:36-37 CSB).

Therefore, we have an immediate fulfilment in the lifetime of the prophet Isaiah that demonstrated he was speaking for God. His words came to pass exactly as he said that they would.

The same test held true for other biblical prophets. They had to make a specific, local prediction which would be literally fulfilled in their lifetime before they could be considered as one of God’s true prophets.

Consequently, the people of God would never have to wonder who was truly speaking for Him. A genuine prophet would always be right, would encourage the people to follow the Lord, would command them not to follow other gods, and would accurately predict some event in their own lifetime. Those who passed all of these tests would qualify as a true prophet of God.

The Prophet Could Not Play Any Part In The Fulfilment Of His Or Her Prediction

We should also emphasize that those men and women who gave the divinely-inspired prophecies, the biblical prophets, could not play any part in their fulfilment.

In other words, the predictions they made had to be completely fulfilled apart from anything that they said or did. Consequently, the genuine prophet of God could have absolutely nothing to do with the precise fulfilment of their predictions. This had to be the work of the Lord and of Him alone.

This sums up the tests that the biblical prophets had to pass.

Summary To The Question: What Are The Biblical Tests For A Prophet?

While many people in the ancient world rose up and claimed to be prophets of God, the Lord provided a way in which their claims could be tested.

Indeed, there were a number of tests the Scripture gave to identify a genuine prophet of God. These tests made it clear who was speaking for the Lord and who was not speaking for Him. We can summarize them in the following manner:

According to the Lord, a true prophet of the living God would always be correct in everything that he or she predicts. They could not make any mistakes when making predictions of the future in the name of the Lord.

If they made a mistake, then they could not be speaking for Him, for God does not make mistakes. This test must be passed.

In addition, the biblical prophet must encourage the people to follow after the Lord. This is crucial. It is not enough for the prophet to correctly speak of “things to come.” The prophet must also urge the population to serve the God of Scripture. Otherwise, he or she could not be considered as a genuine prophet.

(Main Source: Don Stewart – God Wants Us To Know The Future)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (27)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 3)

9.        The Leaven of the Pharisees

Reference: Lk. 12:1-12

There are a number of warnings against the leaven of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 16:6, 11; Mk. 8:15, which the Lord described as hypocrisy. A hypocrite is one who plays a false part, one who feigns to be something other than he really is, an actor on the stage who wears a false face. But Jesus declares the day is coming when everything that has been covered up is going to be revealed, when things spoken in secret will be shouted from the housetops.

10.        Parable of the Rich Fool

Reference: Lk. 12:13-34

This parable is introduced as a result of an appeal of a bystander for Jesus to make his brother divide the inheritance with him. Jesus refused, for He apparently saw that this request was motivated by covetousness. A man’s true life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Many a rich man has committed suicide because his riches couldn’t buy anything that satisfied him.

There are a number of principles which may be derived from this parable. A man who lays up treasure just for himself is a pauper towards God. The parable points out the uncertainty of life and of worldly riches. Man works hard to amass a fortune and when he is ready to enjoy it the stock market may crash, he may lose his health, or life itself. And what he has laid up for himself is left behind to be enjoyed and perhaps squandered by others. The whole book of Ecclesiastes is a commentary on this parable. “Yes, I hated all my labors which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that ú shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored” (Eccl. 2:18,19 cf. 5:10-17; 6:1,2).

There are many general lessons to be drawn from this parable; however, there are some important dispensational principles also which must be distinguished. These are primarily “Kingdom teachings” and they are addressed to the little flock to whom the Father was going to give the Kingdom (vs. 32). If the mark of a true Christian is selling all that he possesses and giving away every cent of it, there are not many Christians in the world. Many attempts have been made to establish Christian communism, where all things are had in common, as in Acts 4:32, but they have all ended in failure and delusion. The failure was not that of God’s Word, but of refusing to rightly divide that Word. Having all things common worked as long as God’s Kingdom program was in effect in the early Acts period, but after that program was set aside and God began a new dispensation under Paul, the old program fell apart.

By the end of the Acts period these people, who had had all things common so that no one lacked, found themselves destitute, so that Paul had to take up collections from the Gentile churches to help these poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25-27). Paul never tells members of the Body of Christ to sell all and give it away. He does tell the believer to work with his own hands, so that he might supply not only his own needs but the needs of others (Eph. 4:28; 1 Thes. 4:11), and if any would not work neither should he eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Paul does not tell the rich to sell everything, but he does charge them to be rich in good works (1 Tim. 6:17,18). Paul’s instructions on Christian giving are to be found especially in 2 Cor. 8 and 9, which he wrote in connection with this collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. If Paul’s Gentile converts had given away all of their possessions they would not have had anything left to give. Political and economic conditions will be vastly different in the coming Kingdom from what they are in the present world.

11.        Parables on Readiness for the Coming of The Son of Man

Reference: Lk. 12:35-48

There is great emphasis in the Kingdom teachings of Christ upon readiness for the coming of the Son of Man to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom here on the earth (cf Matt. 24:42-51; 25:1-13; Mk. 13:34-37; Lk. 21:36).

There are actually three parables in this section. The first is based upon the bridegroom returning from the wedding and finding his servants ready and waiting for him. The second concerns the unexpected visit of the thief who breaks into the house, and the third that of a wise and an unwise steward, one who always acts in view of his master’s expected return, and the other who acts as though his master will long delay his return. This latter parable ends with a statement of principle upon which judgment will be based: greater punishment for those who knew God’s will but did not prepare themselves to do His will, and lesser punishment for those who did not know. Stated in another way: “Unto whom much is given much will be required. Unto whom little is given, less will be required.”

There is always the danger when speaking of judgments and rewards, to apply these things to the salvation of the soul. It will help to remember that no one, in any dispensation, receives salvation as a reward for his works or faithfulness. The unsaved who are finally cast into the lake of fire are judged and punished according to their works, and therefore there will be degrees of punishment. The saved will also be judged, but not for the penalty of their sin which has been forgiven, but for their service for Christ. This will result in reward or loss of reward. Believers in this present dispensation also are instructed to wait for the coming of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:7; Tit. 2:13), but this coming is not to earth to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom, but His coming in the air to catch up the Church in resurrection and glorification.

12.        The Baptism of Death

Reference: Lk. 12:49-59

Christ’s statement that He had come to bring division on earth rather than peace seems to contradict the angel’s announcement of peace on earth, good will toward men. His object in coming was to bring peace, but the effect of His coming was to bring fire and persecution and division, for the people were divided over Him.

Christ was baptized by John the Baptist at the beginning of His ministry, and now He says I have a baptism which will bring my ministry to a close. The first was a baptism in water, the second a baptism into death. This death baptism would be the culmination of the division among the Jews regarding Him. Through the Apostle Paul it has been revealed that the believer shares in His death baptism through the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ (by the Holy Spirit) were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3). For that reason, Paul could say, “I was crucified together with Christ.” None of this truth of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is to be found in the Gospels. It is part of the distinctive revelation given to Paul. (On this death baptism see also Matt. 20:22- 24 and Mk. 10:39).

Christ follows this with a denunciation of the people in that they were able to discern the signs which affected the weather, but were not able to discern or interpret the signs from the Word of God regarding the coming of the Messiah. “This time” in vs. 56 is the time predicted by the prophets, such as Dan. 9:25; see also Matt. 16:2,3.

Then Jesus asked why they could not judge what is right. They were in the wrong and He advised them to do as a man would who was being brought before a judge by an accuser. Settle the matter before you get into court or you will go to jail and stay until you have paid the last penny. This verse is wrongfully used by Roman Catholics to support the idea of purgatory. It is rather advice to get right with God before being hailed into the final judgment from which there is no release, for man can never atone for his own sins.

13.        Repent or Perish

Reference: Lk. 13:1-5

Public calamities often happen and we wonder why certain people should meet such fate. Had they committed some terrible evil? Was God punishing them for their sins? Two such calamities are here mentioned, one in which Pilate had shed the blood of certain Galileans, mixing their blood with the blood of the animal sacrifices they were offering, and the other the death of eighteen men when the tower of Siloam collapsed and crushed them. Jesus said that none of these unfortunate people were greater sinners than the rest, but He predicted, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” It is altogether possible that Jesus had in mind the coming destruction of Jerusalem in which great multitudes perished. The parable which follows bears this out.

14.        Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree

Reference: Lk. 13:6-9

There are three basic parables about the fig tree in the Gospels. In two cases the tree was unfruitful. In one it was cursed and withered away (Matt. 21:19), in the other it was cut down. (Cf. Matt. 24:32-35; Mk. 13:28,29; Lk. 21:29-31; for the sign of the Fig.)

Israel is depicted in Scripture under the figure of the Olive Tree, the Fig Tree, and the Vine (cf. Rom. 11:24-26; Isa. 5:7; Jer. 24:1-10). All three are mentioned in Jotham’s fable of the trees in Judg. 9:8-15. The Olive is an evergreen which has great length of life, and is thus a fitting type of Israel’s covenant blessing which will never fail. The Vine seems to refer more to Israel’s spiritual blessings, as set forth in John 15. The Fig probably represents Israel’s national blessings. The Fig was chopped down, but branches of the Vine and the Olive were cut off, so that the covenant and spiritual blessings still existed for those who believed.

The certain man of this parable represents Christ who came to Israel looking for fruit and found none. This is exactly what Christ did in Matt. 21:19 when He cursed the fig tree and it withered away. In this parable, however, the owner of the vineyard told the gardener that He had come for three years looking for fruit and had found none; therefore, cut it down. Why cumbereth it the ground? That is, why is it taking up valuable space and making the ground unproductive. But why did Jesus say, “three years” instead of perhaps two or five? Three years was the length of His public ministry to Israel. But notice that the Dresser of the vineyard interceded in behalf of the fig tree. He said, “Let’s give it one more year. I will cultivate and fertilize it, and if it then bears fruit, well and good, but if it doesn’t, then we will cut it down.”

Traditional interpretation cuts Israel’s fig tree down at the Cross, at the end of Christ’s three-year ministry, and begins an entirely new spiritual order on the day of Pentecost; thus completely negating the plain teaching of this parable. What about the extra year when Israel was to be given another opportunity? What are the historical facts?

First, we know that Christ did intercede for Israel as He hung upon the Cross: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” Next, we know that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stated in Acts 3:17 that through ignorance Israel and its rulers crucified Christ. And finally, Peter still addressing the people of Israel states: “Unto you first, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26).

Whether one bases his teaching on this parable or not, the fact is that Israel was not set aside at the Cross, but because of Christ’s intercession Israel was given another opportunity in the early chapters of Acts to repent and receive her Kingdom blessings. If Israel and her Kingdom were not set aside in early Acts, then it is evident that a new and unprophesied spiritual order did not begin on that notable Pentecost. Instead it was the fulfillment and continuation of Israel’s prophetic Kingdom program.

15.        A Daughter of Abraham Healed

Reference: Lk. 13:10-17

It seems that Jesus intentionally performed many of His healing miracles on the Sabbath day, apparently to show that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), and also that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27,28).

As Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath He saw this woman with a strange illness which Satan had brought upon her, so that for eighteen years she had not been able to stand up straight, but was constantly bowed over. He called the woman and laid His hands on her and pronounced her healed and immediately she stood up straight and glorified God. The president of the synagogue was indignant, got up and announced to the congregation there were six days in the week for working; therefore, come on one of those days to be healed. No wonder that Jesus stood up and no doubt pointed His finger at the ruler and said: “Thou hypocrite; does not each one of you untie your ox or ass and lead it out to drink on the sabbath? Ought not this daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound be loosed from her infirmity on the sabbath?” This rebuff shamed the leaders and the remainder of the people rejoiced for the glorious things Jesus had done. The contrast is between the bowed over woman who was made straight, and the upright indignant ruler who was forced to bow in shame.

16.        The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven

Reference: Lk. 13:18-21

They were told again here to meet the immediate need. The word “Then” in vs. 18 shows the connection between what went before and these two parables. The word is actually “therefore.”

Both parables begin with something small which grows into something large: a seed becomes a great tree, and a few cells of yeast multiply until all of the meal is permeated. This is what the Kingdom of God is likened unto. The usual interpretation is that the Gospel begins in a very small way in the hearts of a few and it grows until it converts the whole world. The only thing wrong with this interpretation is that it is contrary to the facts. The world did not get converted under the preaching of the Kingdom Gospel, and it is far from being converted after 2000 years of the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God. It is also contrary to Scripture because Scripture plainly asserts a great apostasy will take place before the return of Christ.

Other parables liken the Kingdom to a field in which good and bad seed is sown and both grow up together until the return of Christ, and to a net cast into the sea that enmeshes both good and rough fish, or to different kinds of soil, some of which produces little if any fruit. Therefore, when we think about the Kingdom of which Jesus was speaking, we must not think of heavenly bliss with everything pure and holy. It is something like the temple at Jerusalem. It is called the temple of God. Jesus called it My Father’s house, but it had become a den of thieves (Matt. 21:12,13). Israel’s Kingdom was the Kingdom of God but it was filled with evil.

Some feel that the fowls of the air which lodged in the mustard tree are representative of Satan’s emissaries, as they apparently are in the parable in Mk. 4:4, which devoured the good seed before it could sprout. Likewise, leaven is always representative of the principle of evil at work. Leaven was excluded from the food and even the homes at Passover (Ex. 13:6,7). Jesus called the false teachings of the Pharisees leaven (Matt. 16: 6). Paul likened leaven to malice and wickedness and warned that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Thus these two parables explain how a daughter of Abraham in the Kingdom of God could be bound by Satan for eighteen years, and how the rulers of the synagogue could be so blinded as to rebuke the Lord for healing this woman on the Sabbath day.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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