Assurance of God’s Daily Provision


When we trust in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we become a child of God, one who is both born and adopted into the family of God. As such, we become the recipients of God’s personal care as a loving heavenly Father.

John 1:12-13 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children 13 —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.

Romans 8:15-16 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children.null

Galatians 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.

Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.

As God is perfect, so His care must also be perfect and complete. The following overview covers some of the key areas of God’s personal care for believers in Christ as His beloved children. These are truths that are of special importance to new believers.

The Promise That God Cares

As children of God, all believers become the personal responsibility of an all wise, sovereign, and all powerful God, who, as a heavenly Father, cares in an infinite way for each one of His children. The promise of 1 Peter 5:7 flows out of the exhortation of verse 6 and should be understood and applied in this context. Let’s focus on three aspects of this promise: the responsibility, the root, and the reason.

1 Peter 5:6-7 And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand 7 by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.


The promise of God’s care comes out of the preceding verse and the command, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” This is a call for a willing subjection or submission under God’s sovereign authority and omnipotence. In the Greek, the verb is a command and is in the passive voice. Rather than “humble yourselves,” it means “be humbled,” or “allow yourself to be humbled.” The context in 1 Peter is that of persecution and suffering for the name of Christ during our sojourn on this earth. Suffering is a training tool that God uses, like the blast furnace used by a refiner of fine metals, to purify and develop our faith. This is a humbling process in that it causes us to live more and more in dependence on God. For the refining concept, note 1 Peter 1:6-9.

6 This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. 7 Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

The pride of man is best seen in his determination to live by his own solutions in independence of God. As an illustration, when under persecution, man’s tendency is to strike back or in some way to take matters into his own hands rather than rest his life under the mighty hand of God. Peter points us to the Lord Jesus as the perfect example of submission and humility in 1 Peter 2:21-25. By the command of verse 6, he is exhorting us to allow God to humble us through the sufferings of this life.

1 Peter 2:21-25 For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. Byhis wounds you were healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.


The root for true submission under God’s might hand is seen in the words, “casting all your anxiety upon Him.” We might paraphrase the text, “Be humbled … by casting all your anxiety upon the Lord.” This is more evident from the construction of the Greek text than the English, but this is the meaning. Casting our care on the Lord becomes the foundation and the means for the humbling process that needs to take place.

Furthermore, in the Greek text, “all your anxiety” is really, “the whole of your anxiety or care.” The idea is not that we are to cast each of our worries on the Lord, but that we need to come to the place where we have placed our lives, with all its burdens, concerns, and fears, into His loving and capable hands. Rather than take matters into our own hands, rather than try to manipulate and control others and our circumstances, we are to resolve to rest our lives in God’s care, purposes, and timing. When we truly do this, we are able to submit ourselves under God’s mighty hand to work out His sovereign purpose. When this is not the case, we will invariably exalt ourselves by trying to manipulate the circumstances of life, especially when under suffering and persecution.

In 1 Samuel, God appointed David to be king in place of Saul because of Saul’s disobedience (cf. 1 Sam. 15-16). Saul was a man who, rather than trust his life under the mighty hand of God, consistently sought to take matters into his own hands. He was a manipulator and a controller, and there is a lot of this Saul-like character in each of us. God did not want David to be like a Saul, so He used Saul and his persecution of David to take the Saul-like character out of David. On two different occasions, Saul threw a spear at David to kill him. What was Saul attempting to do? He was seeking to manipulate and control his own destiny. He was refusing to submit to God’s will. And what did David do? Did he pick up the spear and throw it back at Saul? No. Casting the whole of his care on God, he submitted his life under the mighty hand of God. He ducked and slipped away (see 1 Samuel 18:10-20).


The reason we are to submit and cast our cares on the Lord is seen in the words, “for He cares for you.” Literally, the Greek text reads, “because to Him it is a care concerning you.” This means you and I are His personal concern. We matter greatly to God. Why worry then if we are God’s personal concern? To fail to trust in God’s care is in essence an act of self exaltation. It is to act as though we care more than God and can do what God cannot do. Or it is to say, we are afraid of what God will do; we don’t want to trust Him with our life. He may take something away that we think we need. If God did the maximum for us in that He spared not His own Son, how much more will He not care for us as His redeemed children?

Romans 8:32 Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?

Romans 5:8-11 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? 11 Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.

The Promise of Provision for All Our Needs

Since God is concerned for each of us as His redeemed children, the Apostle Paul assures us this concern certainly extends to our basic daily needs (but not our greed). The Apostle wrote, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). This promise was made in connection with the financial support the Philippians had sent to Paul for his missionary ministry. He was assuring them that their giving would never be their lack. God would supply their needs, and the reason for His supply, was nothing less than “His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Governing God’s provision is nothing short of the wealth of what God has done for us in Christ. Again, Romans 8:32 comes to mind.

The Lord Jesus gave an exhortation against anxiety regarding our daily needs. He focused on the fact of God’s personal care for our basic needs in Matthew 6:25-34. Three times He tells us “do not be anxious” (6:25, 31 and 34). Five times questions are asked that are designed to show the foolishness of anxiety.

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? 27 And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? 28 Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 30 And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? 31 So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.

Why is anxiety foolish? It is foolish because it is futile in view of the Father’s loving care and knowledge of our needs (cf. 6:25, 26, 27, 28, 30). He teaches us such worry is the product of being people of “little faith.” Worry is the product of failing to reflect on the fatherly care God must have for us as His people since He shows such wonderful care for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Finally, He shows that due to God’s loving care and the temporary and evil nature of this world, our greatest priority and concern must be the spiritual (6:33-34).

The Promise of Provision Through Prayer

As members of God’s family, all believers have direct access to God as their heavenly Father through their Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. While God knows our needs before we ask (Matt. 6:32), and is intimately concerned, we are, nevertheless, to take our needs and those of others to God’s throne of grace in prayer.

Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

1 Peter 5:7 by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.

Philippians 4:6-8 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

Since God knows and cares, why pray? Because God has chosen to work in our lives through prayer. James 5:16 tells us the fervent prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much.

  • · Prayer is a vehicle of fellowship.
  • · Prayer is an evidence of faith or a spirit of dependence.
  • · Prayer is also a means of focusing our hearts on the Lord, His purposes, and His care.

Many of the Psalms are lament or petition Psalms. In them, we often find they begin highlighting a condition of trouble, sometimes even in a spirit of despair or frustration over the problems the author was facing. In the process of the Psalmist’s prayer to God, however, as he takes his burdens to the Lord, he also gets his eyes on God’s person, God’s principles, and God’s promises. As he does this, he gains a new outlook. The Psalms then finish in a spirit of confident expectation and joy in the Lord. God had not changed, but the Psalmist had been changed through the process of prayer (cf. Psa. 3:1-8; 5:1-12; 6:1-10; 7:10, 13). When our hearts are truly seeking God, prayer becomes a place where God is able to change us and mold us to His will.

Prayer is where we confess sin, give thanks and praise to God, and make our needs known in specific requests. But our greatest need is to be conformed into the image of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus. The Lord promises that God, as a father kind of God, will not give us a stone if we ask for bread, nor a snake if we ask for a fish. In His perfect love and wisdom, He only knows how to give what is best to us. But we must understand that what we think of as bread or a fish, may in reality be a stone or a snake. This is why God often does not answer our requests with a yes, and why our prayer needs to be conformed to His will. Matthew 7:9-11.

James 4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.

This requires time and is perhaps why the Lord gives the three pictures of asking, seeking, and knocking in Matthew 7:7-8.

Prayer is not just a matter of asking, but of seeking God’s direction and will, and waiting on Him just as one knocks and waits at the door for someone to hear and open the door. Keep asking, be patient, and be sure to ask what God’s will is in the matter. Is what I am asking really what is best according to God’s purposes and wisdom?

Hindrances to Prayer

The following is a list of some things that hinder our prayer life:

(1) Maladjustment to the Holy Spirit.

John 4:22-23 You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But a time is coming—and now is here—when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers.

Jude 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 6:18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

Psalm 66:18 If I had harbored sin in my heart, the sovereign Master would not have listened.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

(2) Maladjustment to the Word of God (cf. also Ps. 119)

Proverbs 28:9 The one who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.

(3) Failure to pray in faith.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive.”

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.

James 1:5-7 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,

Hebrews 11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

(4) Failure to ask because of a spirit of self-dependence.

James 4:2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask;

(5) Failure to ask from the right motives, without concern for God’s will.

James 4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.

James 4:15 You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.”

1 Corinthians 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not only the talk of these arrogant people, but also their power.

Matthew 6:10 may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 26:42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done.”

(6) Failure to endure, fainting under pressure.

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.

1 Samuel 27:1-3 David thought to himself, “One of these days I’m going to be swept away by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of searching for me through all the territory of Israel and I will escape from his hand.” 2 So David left and crossed over to King Achish son of Maoch of Gath accompanied by six hundred men. 3 David settled with Achish in Gath, along with his men and their families. David had with him his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail the Carmelite, Nabal’s widow.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without getting weary, they walk without getting tired.

(7) Wrong relations with people, an unforgiving spirit.

Mark 11:25-26 Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your sins.”

(8) Pretentious praying, praying to impress people.

Matthew 6:5-8 “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. 7 When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

(9) Religious zeal in the form of vain repetitions and cultic ritual.

Matthew 6:7 When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard.

1 Kings 18:26-29 So they took a bull, as he had suggested, and prepared it. They invoked the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us.” But there was no sound and no answer. They jumped around on the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them, “Yell louder. After all, he is a god; he may be deep in thought, or perhaps he stepped out for a moment or has taken a trip. Perhaps he is sleeping and needs to be awakened.” 28 So they yelled louder and, in accordance with their prescribed ritual, mutilated themselves with swords and spears until their bodies were covered with blood. 29 Throughout the afternoon they were in an ecstatic frenzy, but there was no sound, no answer, and no response.

Romans 10:2-3 For I can testify that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth. 3 For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

(10) Domestic breakdown in the home.

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers.


In the final decades of the life of George McCluskey he became extremely burdened for his children and each day spent the hour from 11 to 12 praying for them. He prayed not only for them, but also for his grandchildren and great grandchildren, as yet unborn. He asked that they would come to know the true God through His Son, and dedicate their lives to His service. Of the following four generations, every child has either become a minister or married a minister, with one exception. That exception is a name familiar to most of us today, Dr. James Dobson. Few will ever hear of George McCluskey, but because of him lives of future generations were undeniably blessed.


Question: “What is sanctification? What is the definition of Christian sanctification?”

Sanctification is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness. To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy.

Jesus had a lot to say about sanctification in John 17. In verse 16 the Lord says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it,” and this is before His request: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (verse 17). In Christian theology, sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God: “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV). The sanctification mentioned in this verse is a once-for-ever separation of believers unto God. It is a work God performs, an intricate part of our salvation and our connection with Christ (Hebrews 10:10). Theologians sometimes refer to this state of holiness before God as “positional” sanctification; it is the same as justification.

While we are positionally holy (“set free from every sin” by the blood of Christ, Acts 13:39), we know that we still sin (1 John 1:10). That’s why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a practical experience of our separation unto God. “Progressive” or “experiential” sanctification, as it is sometimes called, is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. It is the same as growing in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18) or spiritual maturity. God started the work of making us like Christ, and He is continuing it (Philippians 1:6). This type of sanctification is to be pursued by the believer earnestly (1 Peter 1:15Hebrews 12:14) and is effected by the application of the Word (John 17:17). Progressive sanctification has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:18–19). That Jesus set Himself apart for God’s purpose is both the basis and the condition of our being set apart (see John 10:36). We are sanctified and sent because Jesus was. Our Lord’s sanctification is the pattern of and power for our own. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. On this account we are called “saints” (hagioi in the Greek), or “sanctified ones.” Prior to salvation, our behavior bore witness to our standing in the world in separation from God, but now our behavior should bear witness to our standing before God in separation from the world. Little by little, every day, “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV) are becoming more like Christ.

There is a third sense in which the word sanctification is used in Scripture—a “complete” or “ultimate” sanctification. This is the same as glorification. Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV). Paul speaks of Christ as “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and links the glorious appearing of Christ to our personal glorification: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). This glorified state will be our ultimate separation from sin, a total sanctification in every regard. “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

To summarize, “sanctification” is a translation of the Greek word hagiasmos, meaning “holiness” or “a separation.” In the past, God granted us justification, a once-for-all, positional holiness in Christ. Now, God guides us to maturity, a practical, progressive holiness. In the future, God will give us glorification, a permanent, ultimate holiness. These three phases of sanctification separate the believer from the penalty of sin (justification), the power of sin (maturity), and the presence of sin (glorification).


Answer: The short answer is that “glorification” is God’s final removal of sin from the life of the saints (i.e., everyone who is saved) in the eternal state (Romans 8:182 Corinthians 4:17). At Christ’s coming, the glory of God (Romans 5:2)—His honor, praise, majesty, and holiness—will be realized in us; instead of being mortals burdened with sin nature, we will be changed into holy immortals with direct and unhindered access to God’s presence, and we will enjoy holy communion with Him throughout eternity. In considering glorification, we should focus on Christ, for He is every Christian’s “blessed hope”; also, we may consider final glorification as the culmination of sanctification.

Final glorification must await the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:131 Timothy 6:14). Until He returns, we are burdened with sin, and our spiritual vision is distorted because of the curse. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Every day, we should be diligent by the Spirit to put to death what is “fleshly” (sinful) in us (Romans 8:13).

How and when will we be finally glorified? At the last trumpet, when Jesus comes, the saints will undergo a fundamental, instant transformation (“we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” – 1 Corinthians 15:51); then the “perishable” will put on the “imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Yet 2 Corinthians 3:18 clearly indicates that, in a mysterious sense, “we all,” in the present, “with unveiled face” are “beholding the glory of the Lord” and are being transformed into His image “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Lest anyone imagine that this beholding and transformation (as part of sanctification) is the work of especially saintly people, the Scripture adds the following bit of information: “For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” In other words, it is a blessing bestowed on every believer. This does not refer to our final glorification but to an aspect of sanctification by which the Spirit is transfiguring us right now. To Him be the praise for His work in sanctifying us in the Spirit and in truth (Jude 24-25John 17:174:23).

We should understand what Scripture teaches about the nature of glory—both God’s unsurpassed glory and our share in it at His coming. God’s glory refers not merely to the unapproachable light that the Lord inhabits (1 Timothy 6:15-16), but also to His honor (Luke 2:13) and holiness. The “You” referred to in Psalm 104:2 is the same God referenced in 1 Timothy 6:15-16; He is “clothed with splendor and majesty,” covering Himself “with light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2; cf. 93:1Job 37:2240:10). When the Lord Jesus returns in His great glory to execute judgment (Matthew 24:29-3125:31-35), He will do so as the only Sovereign, who alone has eternal dominion (1 Timothy 6:14-16).

Created beings dare not gaze upon God’s awesome glory; like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4-29) and Simon Peter (Luke 5:8), Isaiah was devastated by self-loathing in the presence of the all-holy God. After the seraphim proclaimed, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” Isaiah said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:4). Even the seraphim showed that they were unworthy to gaze upon the divine glory, covering their faces with their wings.

God’s glory may be said to be “heavy” or “weighty”; the Hebrew word kabod literally means “heavy or burdensome”; Most often, the Scriptural usage of kabod is figurative (e.g., “heavy with sin”), from which we get the idea of the “weightiness” of a person who is honorable, impressive, or worthy of respect.

When the Lord Jesus became incarnate, He revealed both the “weighty” holiness of God and the fullness of His grace and truth (“and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” [John 1:14; cf. 17:1–5]). The glory revealed by the incarnate Christ accompanies the ministry of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:7); it is unchanging and permanent (Isaiah 4:6-7; cf. Job 14:2Psalm 102:11103:15James 1:10). The previous manifestations of God’s glory were temporary, like the fading effluence of God’s glory from Moses’ face. Moses veiled his face so that the hard-hearted Israelites might not see that the glory was fading (1 Corinthians 3:12), but in our case the veil has been removed through Christ, and we reflect the glory of the Lord and seek by the Spirit to be like Him.

In His high priestly prayer, the Lord Jesus requested that God would sanctify us by His truth (i.e., make us holy; John 17:17); sanctification is necessary if we are to see Jesus’ glory and be with Him in eternal fellowship (John 17:21-24). “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). If the glorification of the saints follows the pattern revealed in Scripture, it must entail our sharing in the glory (i.e., the holiness) of God.

According to Philippians 3:20–21, our citizenship is in heaven, and when our Savior returns He will transform our lowly bodies “to be like His glorious body.” Although it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, we know that, when He returns in great glory, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). We will be perfectly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus and be like Him in that our humanity will be free from sin and its consequences. Our blessed hope should spur us on to holiness, the Spirit enabling us. “Everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).


Question: “What is justification? What does it mean to be justified?”

Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ’s righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though justification as a principle is found throughout Scripture, the main passage describing justification in relation to believers is Romans 3:21-26: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ’s own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God’s demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us.

Romans 5:18-19 sums it up well: “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” It is because of justification that the peace of God can rule in our lives. It is because of justification that believers can have assurance of salvation. It is the fact of justification that enables God to begin the process of sanctification—the process by which God makes us in reality what we already are positionally. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

How can I be sure I won’t be left behind in the rapture?.

is the rapture for real? (Answer: yes.) Will the rapture be followed by a time of divine judgment on earth? (Answer: yes.) Will I be left behind in the rapture? (Answer: that depends.)
The rapture is what we call the event in which Jesus comes again to take believers out of this world. The Bible calls it a “catching away” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and describes it as an instantaneous “change” of the body that bypasses death (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). Those raptured “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Believers in Jesus Christ are taken in the rapture; unbelievers will be left behind when the rapture occurs.
Those left behind in the rapture will face a quickly changing world—and the change will not be for the better. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says that the “power of lawlessness” is currently being held in check by the Holy Spirit. At the rapture, the true church is removed from the earth, and the Holy Spirit’s restraint will be “taken out of the way.” At that moment, the world will have no born-again believers anywhere. All the Christian workers in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, rescue missions, relief agencies—gone. Every Christian in law enforcement, social work, and health care—gone. And of course many churches will sit empty. In addition to the great void in the service community will be the commencement of God’s judgment on a rebellious world, detailed in Revelation 6—16.
Don’t be left behind. Make sure you are ready for the rapture. Since the rapture is for believers, it is vital that you place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Acts 16:31). Repent of your sin and fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sin. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). The Lord knows who are His, and He will leave none of them behind (John 10:14).
Those who are saved by faith in Christ will not be left behind in the rapture. The saved are like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who are ready for the coming of the bridegroom; they have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). To make sure that you are not left behind, trust Christ. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. The matter is urgent. Trust Christ now.


0 Dispensationalism


The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 7)

35.     The Rich Young Ruler

References: Matt. 19:16-30; Mk. 10:17-31; Lk. 18:18-30

In our interpretation of this story it must be remembered that it took place under the dispensation of Law. When the rich young ruler asked, “What good thing must I do to have eternal life?” the Lord replied with the requirements of the Law. In the dispensation of grace when the jailer asked Paul the same question, Paul replied: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” The question arises, Does the Bible teach two different ways of being saved: by law keeping and by grace apart from law keeping?

Paul makes clear two facts in his epistles. The first is stated in Rom. 2:6,7,13 that “God will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified).” On the surface this sounds as though Paul is teaching that man can be justified by keeping the law.  It is rather a statement of God’s just dealing with man. And Paul goes on to show the second fact that there has never been a man since Adam’s fall that could measure up to that standard; for he proves that all have sinned and the conclusion is inescapable: “Therefore by the doing of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20).

Although the young ruler claimed to have kept the Law from his youth, Jesus showed him he had broken the two great commandments of the Law. He didn’t love his neighbor as himself, for he refused to share his wealth with the needy, and he did not love the Lord with all his heart, for he turned away sorrowful and refused to follow the Lord. The ruler had called Jesus Good Master, and Jesus had said, “There is none good, but one, that is, God.” If Jesus was good then He was God. The ruler was not God, therefore he was not good, as he supposed himself to be in his self-righteousness.

The law was given to show man that he is not good, but the Jews as a nation never learned the true intent of the law, as Paul explains in Rom. 10:1-3. Faith is the one thing necessary for pleasing God in every dispensation, but faith was demonstrated in different ways in different dispensations. If God said a flood was coming, faith believed and built an ark. If God said, “without the shedding of blood is no remission,” faith believed and brought an animal sacrifice. But after God had proved the whole human race guilty and had given His Son as the once for all sacrifice for sin, faith no longer engages in things required by the ceremonial law but believes and receives Christ as the all-sufficient sacrifice.

The disciples were astonished by Jesus’ remarks concerning the difficulty of a rich man entering the Kingdom and asked: “Who then can be saved?” Jesus said, “With men it is impossible,” that is, it is impossible for man to save himself. But, “with God all things are possible.” God has done what for man was impossible. He has found a way to justify the ungodly, entirely apart from human merit or goodness.

Matthew, being especially the Kingdom Gospel, records the further remarks of the Apostles which were called forth from Christ’s dealings with the young ruler. They said, “We have left everything and followed you. What will we have?” Jesus told them, “Verily, I say unto you, In the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This is a special reward which Jesus will give to these men, and these only, when He returns to establish the Kingdom of God in this earth. There is personal, spiritual regeneration which the sinner receives when he believes the Gospel and is saved. There is also a regeneration in nature which will occur when Christ returns and removes the curse from nature and restores the earth to its original glory. Peter called it “the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (cf. Isa. 65:17-25; Rom. 8:21).

36.     The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

Reference: Matt. 20:1-16

In order to get the setting for this parable we must go back to the conclusion of Ch. 19. The last verse of that chapter reads: “But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” And the parable ends: “So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.” The parable was told to illustrate the truth at the end of the previous chapter.

The parable also illustrates the sovereignty of God and His purpose in election. The householder went to the marketplace to hire laborers, going very early in the morning, then at nine o’clock, then at noon, and again at three in the afternoon, and finally at five o’clock, each time hiring idle men. He agreed on a wage with the first ones and told the others he would pay them what was right. At the end of the day he called the laborers together and told his steward to pay them, beginning with the last and ending with the first. The ones who worked only one hour got a penny and when the steward came to those who were hired early in the morning, they supposed they get much more, but they too got one penny. When they complained of injustice, the householder replied: “Didn’t you agree to work all day for a penny? It is not lawful for me to do with my own what I desire? Is your eye evil because I am good? It is my will to give unto these last even as unto you.” We are quite sure that modern labor unions would have taken this householder to court for unfair labor practices, even though the men who worked all day got what was generous pay for that period in history. Man, of course, is not sovereign, but God is, and the householder in the parable represents God.

There are several significant things to notice about the parable. The men in the marketplace were idle. They were unemployed. They did not go out looking for work; instead, the householder came to them and gave them a job. This is a picture of man in his lost condition. He is not seeking God, but instead God seeks the sinner (cf. Rom. 3:11; Lk. 19:10). No one would have been saved unless God had taken the initiative and sought out the sinner.

The interpretation of the parable has to do with rewards in the Kingdom. Martin Luther and others have taught that the penny or denarius represents salvation which each receives whether he has labored much or little: all get the same eternal life. However, such an interpretation makes salvation a reward for work, and salvation is always a free gift. Others have supposed the parable teaches that although salvation is a free gift, all of the saved will receive exactly the same reward for their service, but of course such teaching is contrary to almost every passage dealing with rewards (cf. Matt. 16:27; Rev. 20:13). Some have tried to see in the first who were called the Apostles and the later ones the Gentiles, down to the very last ones to be saved before the Lord comes. The context does not bear out such an interpretation. If the Apostles are represented by the workers hired first, then the parable must teach that they will be the very last and least in the Kingdom, which is contradicted by our Lord’s promise that they are going to be reigning as judges over the twelve tribes of Israel.

It appears that the parable was called forth by Peter’s question: “What are we going to get as rewards for our work?” When a child of God takes the attitude expressed by some who were first called that they deserve more than others,  that they have done more for the Lord, it is evident that his motive for service for God is wrong. God will not forget any labor of love (Heb. 6:10), but work that is done, simply for self-aggrandizement is really not a labor of love. Some great world-renowned evangelist may be surprised at the judgment seat of Christ to discover that some humble believer whose name the world has never heard will receive as great, if not greater reward than himself. God is the One who gives abilities and opportunities and apart from His gifts we could do nothing for Him. We may take credit for leading a soul to Christ, when in fact ten other people had more to do with the result than we did. We must ever remember, as Paul tells us, that the worker is really nothing: he may plant or water the seed, but only God can give the increase (1 Cor. 3:5-8). Some who thought they would be first may end up at the end of the line, and others who took no credit to themselves and placed themselves last may end up at the head of the class.

37.     Christ Again Predicts His Crucifixion

References: Matt. 20:17-19; Mk. 10:32-34; Lk. 18:31-34

Jesus is here on His final visit to Jerusalem. He was walking ahead, leading the procession of His disciples. Mark alone tells us of the emotional condition of the disciples. He says they were amazed and afraid. Other translators say they were filled with alarm, were astonished, filled with terror and dread, dismayed and afraid, in a daze and apprehensive, filled with awe and afraid. There must have been something in the demeanor of Jesus, something strange and foreboding in His manner which struck fear into their hearts.

Jesus, knowing their fears and knowing all that would happen to Him in the next few days, took the disciples aside and told them again of all that would befall Him in Jerusalem. He would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes and then to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged, to be killed, and after three days to rise from the dead. And Luke adds: “And they understood none of these things; and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” The fact that they didn’t understand is evident from subsequent events as seen in the statement of the two on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:21), and in the fact none of them believed He had arisen even after the report of the women who first saw Him after His resurrection (Mk. 16:10-14).

As pointed out earlier, although these apostles had been preaching the gospel of the Kingdom for over three years, it is evident that their preaching contained nothing about the redemptive death of Christ and His resurrection, which truths in our dispensation comprise the very heart of the gospel, (1 Cor. 15:1-4). That is why we must turn to the epistles to learn the secret of the Gospel. We find the revelation of the meaning of the death of Christ only after He had accomplished the work of salvation and had ascended back to heaven, from whence He made known the glorious truth of the gospel of the grace of God.

38.     Ambition of James and John

References: Matt. 20:20-28; Mk. 10:35-45; cf. Lk. 12:50

This incident of the two brothers, along with their mother, requesting a place of preeminence in Christ’s Kingdom is first of all a proof that Christ actually taught that He was going to establish a kingdom here on the earth, which was different from the universal Kingdom of God which has always existed. There are so many proofs of this truth in the Gospels that it might seem trite to even mention it, but there are many evangelical Christians who teach that the Jews were completely mistaken in supposing that the Messiah would establish a literal Kingdom upon the earth and therefore there will never be a Millennial, Messianic Kingdom. This teaching is known as A-millennialism. But if the disciples were so carnal and mistaken in believing that Christ was going to establish such a kingdom in the future, why did Christ not correct their false notions about such a kingdom, instead of telling them it was not in His power to make such decisions? There was surely a Kingdom of God in Old Testament times, as well as when Jesus was on earth, but everywhere in the teachings of Christ His Kingdom was always future. It was near at hand but it was not yet a reality. Therefore, there must be a difference between that which was then present and that which had not yet come into existence.

The request of this mother for her two sons, which stirred up such indignation among the other disciples, simply points out one of the weaknesses of fallen human nature: self-aggrandizement. Man likes to exercise authority, to be able to lord it over others. But the prerogative of lording it over belongs to God alone, so that in Christ’s Kingdom or for that matter, in the life of the Christian today, the Lord should be the only lord. If one wants to be greatest, he should be greatest in caring for and serving others. Paul teaches the same spiritual principles (cf. 1 Cor. 12:25; Phil. 2:3,20,21).

The cup and the baptism to which Christ referred (cf. Lk. 12:50), both point to His sufferings and death and the intimation is that the disciples also would suffer a like fate at the hands of the unbelieving world.

39.     The Blind Men Near Jericho

References: Matt. 20:29-34; Mk. 10:46-52; Lk. 18:35-43

There is a supposed contradiction between the Gospels here, in that Matthew says there were two blind men who were healed, whereas Mark and Luke mention only one, and to further complicate the problem Matthew and Mark both say the healing took place as Jesus was leaving Jericho, and Luke says the healing took place as He approached Jericho. If Mark and Luke had stated that Jesus healed only one blind man at Jericho there would be a contradiction with Matthew. It is not a contradiction to mention only one of the two who were healed. As to the other seeming contradiction it should be pointed out that Jericho in the time of Christ was a “double city.” Cobern states regarding excavations made by Dr. Ernest Sellin: “They did however find a large Jewish town (600-400 B.C.), and proved that the Jericho of Jesus’ day was a double city spreading itself out on both sides of the wadi.” Thus Matthew and Mark spoke of leaving one part of the city and Luke spoke of approaching the other part of this double city.

Mark alone gives us the beggar’s name, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. He was probably a well-known character in the community, whereas the other beggar was not, and that is probably the reason only Bartimaeus is mentioned. Mark also relates that when told by the crowd that Jesus had stopped and called for him, he not simply “arose,” as in the A.V., but literally “leaped up.”

Jericho was a cursed city (Josh. 6:26 cf. 1 Kgs. 16:34), but wherever Jesus went the curse was lifted. This is no doubt a picture in miniature of what will   happen when Jesus returns and takes away the blindness of Israel and lifts the curse from creation which sin has brought. Christ was made a curse for us to deliver us from the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13).

40.     The Conversion of Zacchaeus

Reference: Lk. 19:1-10

The Greek grammar shows that Zacchaeus was not bragging about all of the good works he had done in the past, but of what he was going to henceforth do as a result of his conversion. It was common practice for tax-collectors to overcharge, to place fictitious values on property or income in order to enrich themselves. Zacchaeus vows now to restore four-fold to those he had cheated. According to Ex. 22:1 this was the restoration required of a thief. He was thus confessing his sin and calling it by the proper name. The expression in vs. 8, “I give,” has the force of “I now give,” or “from now on I will give.” He was not only going to restore four-fold where he had cheated others, but was going to give half of his wealth to the poor. He thus stands out in bold contrast to the rich young ruler, who was not convicted of his sinfulness and refused to give his wealth to the needy.

There is an interesting play on words in the Greek text. The tree into which Zacchaeus climbed (translated “sycamore”) was the fig-mulberry (sukomorean, a compound of suke, fig, and moron, mulberry). Then in vs. 8, the expression, “taken by false accusation” is the word sukophanteo, a compound of suke, fig, and phanein, to show: a fig-shower or fig-informer (an informant of the law forbidding the exportation of figs from Greece). It is our English word “sycophant.” The word is used only one other time (Lk. 3:14) where it is translated, “accuse falsely.”

Zacchaeus did not let his physical limitations keep him from his determination to see Jesus. We are reminded of the four men who made a hole in the roof in order to let down the palsied man into the presence of Jesus.

Zacchaeus must have been amazed to hear Jesus call him by name when he had never even seen Jesus before. This must have impressed him of the supernatural character of Jesus. Jesus’ words: “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house,” have the ring of kingly authority. Zacchaeus did not extend an invitation, nor did Jesus ask, “May I stay at your house?” It was a command: “I must stay at thy house.”

41.     Parable of the Postponed Kingdom

Reference: Lk. 19:11-28

We are informed that Jesus told this parable because He was near to Jerusalem and because the people supposed the Kingdom of God was going to be set up immediately. The purpose of the parable was to show that the Kingdom would not be established immediately; that the rightful King had to first go into a far country to receive the authority for the Kingdom; and then return to take over the actual Kingship.

It is helpful to understand that a few years prior to this both Herod and his son, Archelaus had gone to Rome to receive authority from Caesar to reign over Judea and had returned to take over the kingship. It is interesting also to note that Jesus spoke this parable in Jericho, the very city from which Herod had gone to Rome and to which he returned and built his palace. Thus the parable is built on an actual historical incident with which the people were familiar.

There is no doubt but that the nobleman represents Jesus Christ, and that the far country represents heaven, and the One from whom the authority is received is the Father. The return must represent the second coming of Christ to earth. There are many Bible interpreters who are fond of spiritualizing the Scriptures, as they call it, although there is nothing spiritual about it. They teach that the Kingdom is purely spiritual; that after His death Jesus went back to heaven in order to establish His Kingdom; that He is now reigning as King, and that all of the promises in the Bible of a literal, physical, earthly kingdom must be spiritualized to mean those blessings which Christians now enjoy; that Jesus will never return to establish a Kingdom on earth, but rather that when He returns He will bring an end to the world with the final judgment and resurrection.

All of these ideas are completely opposite to the teaching of this parable. Herod did not go into the far country and set up his throne there in Rome, and neither is it stated that Christ went to heaven to set up His throne there. Today Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father’s throne (Heb. 8:1; 12:2). And just as Herod’s citizens had sent a message to Caesar saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us,” so the Jews declared they would not have Jesus to reign over them. And as Herod destroyed his enemies when he returned as king, so there will be a judgment when Christ returns as King and the wicked will be destroyed from off the earth. But those servants who were loyal to the King and had taken care of His business while He was away will be rewarded by being made rulers over various cities in the Kingdom. This is one of the clearest and most important dispensational parables concerning the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom at the return of Christ to earth. There is a somewhat similar parable in Matt. 25: 14-30, told a few days later in the Olivet discourse.

42.     Anointing of Jesus By Mary of Bethany

References: Matt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; John 11:55-12:11

There are certain problems related to the correlating of these three passages. While the three accounts have much detail in common, there are some differences. The account of the supper at Bethany and the anointing as given by both Matthew and Mark is prefaced by the statement: “ye know that after two days is the feast of passover.” John tells us: “Jesus therefore six days before the passover came to Bethany.. . so they made him a supper there.”

In Matthew and Mark the supper was in the house of Simon the leper, and the woman who anointed Jesus is not mentioned by name. In John nothing is said about Simon the leper, and the woman is named as Mary. This has led some to believe that there were two suppers and two anointings. However, almost everything that transpired at the supper is common to all three records. Most expositors believe that both Matthew and Mark inserted the supper account out of chronological order for a special effect and that therefore there was just one supper. Matthew does not say the supper took place two days before passover, but simply, “When Jesus was in Bethany.” Some have speculated that Simon the leper, now healed, of course, was the husband of Martha.

Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are mentioned by name only by John. Matthew and Mark state that the woman anointed the head of Jesus; John the feet of Jesus. Mark says the ointment was worth above three hundred pence; John says three hundred pence. Matthew and Mark have the disciples indignant over wasting this amount of money; John says it was Judas Iscariot who objected.

None of the differences are really contradictions. Mary could have anointed both His head and His feet. Judas may have started the objection that the ointment could have been sold for three hundred pence, and other of the disciples could have taken sides with Judas and said it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence.

Besides the Lord Jesus there are three characters that stand out in the story. One is Mary. She had sat at the feet of Jesus and learned of Him. She was the only one of the disciples who understood and believed that Jesus would rise from the dead. She anointed His body for burial beforehand. She was not in the group that went to the tomb with spices to anoint His dead body. The Lord rewarded Mary’s love and understanding and devotion by having her name placed in Holy Scripture for millions of people to read about as a memorial to her.

Another character is Judas Iscariot. Here we learn that he was the treasurer for the Apostles and that he was a thief. He objected to what he called Mary’s waste in anointing Jesus with the costly spikenard, because he would like to have seen it sold for three hundred pence and the money put in his bag for his personal use. It may seem strange why Jesus chose a man to be one of His apostles when He knew that he was unsaved. In fact, Jesus stated in John 6:70: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” And knowing he was a thief, why would He permit him to be the treasurer for the group? It may be speculation, but it may be that Jesus chose such a one because He knew that in any group of God’s people in this world there will always be one or more who are not truly saved. If it could happen in a group which Jesus Himself chose, how much more likely it is to happen in assemblies where ordinary men do the choosing? Therefore, as a practical lesson for today, churches need to constantly be on their guard, especially about those who have to do with money matters. Even a saved person may be such a lover of money that he will steal or misapply church funds. Every safeguard possible should be used to protect both the congregation and the one who is in charge of finances.

Paul was very careful about the handling of money from the churches, but in spite of that he was falsely accused of being dishonest. Paul gives some good advice to churches. One of his qualifications for an officer in the church is that he is “not greedy of filthy lucre” (1 Tim. 3:3). He warns against those who will to be rich (1 Tim. 6:9). And he set an example when he took up offerings from the Gentile churches to help the poor saints at Jerusalem. The churches chose certain ones to travel with Paul to see to it that the money got to its proper destination (cf. 2 Cor. 8:16-24).

The third character is Lazarus. John tells us that many of the common people heard that Jesus was there, and they came, not only to see Jesus, but Lazarus who had been raised from the dead. A great number of Jews had become believers through the testimony of Lazarus, so much so that the religious authorities were seeking how they might put Lazarus to death also. We should like to know what experience Lazarus had during the four days he was dead, but God has not been pleased to satisfy our curiosity. We have no idea if Lazarus spoke anything about that experience. When Paul was caught up to the third heaven he saw things which He was forbidden to reveal (2 Cor. 12:4). Perhaps it was the same with Lazarus.

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








0 Dispensationalism


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)