Where Are You?

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by SueJLove, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. Saturday, February 23, 2013, 7:43 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Father God” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Matthew 13:1-23 (NIV 1984):

  2. Why Parables?

    It appears that Jesus was speaking somewhere in Galilee, perhaps in Capernaum. Evidently Capernaum was part of Israel. Israel, as a nation at that time, still comprised the people of God living under the Old Covenant relationship between them and God. Yet, there were most likely Gentiles living in Capernaum, as well. So, when a crowd of people gathered to listen to Jesus speak, the crowd could have consisted of a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, though they may have been primarily Jewish, because Israel was a Jewish nation.

    Speaking to the crowd, Jesus told a parable about a farmer sowing seed. The seed fell on four different types of soil and thus had four different results. Jesus’s disciples asked him why he spoke in parables. Jesus stated that the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom had been given to them, his followers, who were listening to his words, and who were following Jesus’ teaching, but the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven had not been given to “them.” So, who is “them”? Jesus went on to explain the “them.”

    They were the ones Isaiah spoke about when he said these people would be ever hearing, but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving. It appears he was speaking primarily to the people of Israel to whom the law and the prophets had been given, to whom the covenant promise had been given, and to whom so many blessings and provisions had been given by God over multiple generations. Paul, when quoting Isaiah in the book of Acts (28:26-27), applied the words spoken through Isaiah to Israel’s forefathers and to those Israelites (Jews) of his day, as well.

    I believe what Jesus was saying about the parables is that only those who sought him out, who listened to him, and who followed him would truly understand what Jesus was teaching, but those who had already made up their minds and who had closed their hearts to the truth of the gospel weren’t really listening anyway, so Jesus spoke in parables so that only those who were truly following him would understand what he was saying. To me, the parables required further understanding, so they prompted questions, seeking Jesus for answers, and time spent with Jesus to learn what he was saying, so in actuality, those who really wanted to know more would be drawn into a closer relationship with Jesus.

    What about Today?

    Today, Israel, as a people of God, no longer consists of the Jews as a nation, because they, as a nation, rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior and Messiah (the promised one). The Bible says that Israel, i.e. the people of God today, is comprised of those who have accepted God’s invitation to make Jesus Christ their Lord (master) and Savior (from sin) of their lives, by God’s grace, through faith (repentance and obedience) – see Luke 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24. We are the Body of Christ, the church, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the Holy City, and within us dwells the Holy of Holies. Physical Jerusalem is of Hagar, the slave woman, but we are of the free woman, and only those who have been circumcised of the heart, by the Spirit (through faith in Jesus Christ) are true Israel.

    So, how does this speak to us today? We, the church, have been given the Word of God, Jesus Christ, salvation by grace, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the promise of eternity with God in heaven, all the riches of God in Christ Jesus, the gospel of salvation, God’s promises, and his blessings and provisions. Especially in America we have been so blessed with freedom to worship the Lord together in public, and with Biblical teaching in book stores, on TV, on the radio and on the internet; with scripture-based words put to music; with so many places where we can gather together without persecution (yet); with so many Bibles in so many translations, and with so many Bible study helps in books and on the internet, et al.

    So, the question begs to be asked, “Are we, the church here in America, a people, overall, who are ever hearing the word of God, but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving?” Is it possible to have been given so much that we take it for granted? Is it possible to be raised in a Christian church (institutional) and never really know Christ? Or, is it possible to know him and yet to have fallen into a state of apathy or lukewarmness to where we don’t pay him much attention anymore, so we are not really listening to his words? And, is it possible to have been brought up in a nation where the gospel is literally everywhere and so readily available and yet never to have really even heard the truth? I believe the answer is “Yes” to all these questions.

    Part of the reason I believe this is the situation in the institutional church here in America is that we have been given so much freedom and Biblical knowledge and resources, that we do take them for granted. Also, we are an affluent society. Even the poor among us have TVs, Stereos (MP3 players or IPods), IPads (or other tablets), personal computers or laptops, and/or smart phones, NetFlicks, video games and the like. We have access to so much information, news, fiction, communications, et al, and so many of us are continually plugged in to some type of electronic device or form of media or communication. We are saturated as a society with information, news, and media in various forms. Most everywhere you go in public there is a TV (+ some). And, so much of what we take into our minds through these various forms of media have no benefit at all to the advancement of the kingdom of heaven, and, in fact, many of these influences are actually working against the advancement of God’s kingdom and contrary to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I also believe that the other main reason we have this situation in the church in America is that the church itself has largely adopted the ways of the world, the ways of big business, and has watered down (diluted) the gospel to make it more appealing to the world and to the human flesh. If we are taught that we do not have to repent (turn away from our sins and toward obedience to Christ and his commands), and we don’t have to obey Christ in order to be saved, then we have opened the door wide for people to believe they are saved when they are not, or to believe they can have a mediocre “relationship” with Jesus Christ and still have his blessings and the promise and hope of eternal life.

    The Seed

    The seed Jesus spoke about in his parable is the message of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, not just so we could go to heaven one day, but so we could be free from slavery to sin while we still live on the face of this earth, and so we could be slaves of righteousness. He said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (renounce) his selfish ways, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus (Luke 9:23-25). So this message (seed) included repentance and obedience, as well as God’s grace. And, today, just like in Jesus’ day, the message is met with four potential responses from individuals:

    1) Hears the message, but doesn’t receive it at all – Satan snatches it away.

    2) Hears the message, receives it joyfully, but it never takes root, i.e. the reception of the message was shallow, so it was short-lived – same result as #1.

    3) Hears the message, it appears it may have taken root, but then the things of this world soon choke the truth of the message out of the life of the person so that it is unfruitful in his or her life – could have same result as #1 or…

    4) Hears the message, combines it with believing faith, and bears fruit for the kingdom of heaven.

    I believe no. 3 could be either someone who did not combine hearing with genuine faith and that is why the things of this world were able to choke out the truth, or it could be a person who genuinely believed in Jesus Christ, was growing in his or her faith, but at some point in time got distracted by the things of this life and God began to take a back seat or to be ignored and temporarily forgotten. Self came back to the throne, and life’s decisions are now based on selfish desires instead of on pleasing the Lord Jesus. He or she is someone who knows the truth, is still hearing it audibly, but is not really getting it and applying the truths to his or her life. Yet, Jesus wants to move this person to #4, where he or she is listening, obeying, daily dying to sin and self, and where he or she is being a fruit bearer for the kingdom! I pray you will ask the Lord Jesus to show you what kind of soil you are.

    Father God / Jennifer Love Moss / Mark Bradley (shared with permission)

    Oh, God above,
    I’m falling down before you.
    There’s something I just
    Can’t get off my mind.
    It seems so long
    Since I’ve come to you.
    Do you remember
    This child that once adored you?
    Can you forgive me
    Now that I’ve ignored you?
    How can I now come before you?
    Will you hear me when I cry?

    Father God, hear my prayer.
    Father God, I want to know your will.
    Help me, Lord, I need you now.
    I don’t know what to do.
    Show me the way.

    Oh, precious Lord,
    Do not remain in silence.
    I need your help.
    There is no other way.
    I can’t go on living life for me.
    All my decisions
    are falling to the ground.
    I’m empty handed
    And feeling so alone.
    I want to be still and know you,
    But I feel so far away.

    Father God, hear my prayer.
    Father God, I want to know your will.
    Help me, Lord, I need you now.
    I don’t know what to do.
    Show me the way.

    Oh, God above,
    I’m falling down before you.
    Rusty likes this.
  3. Thanks, SueJLove! I especially agree with this below and have repeatedly said the same here:

  4. Praise Jesus!
  5. We did Matthew 22:1-14 today....what an interesting historical summary of God's Children.
  6. Yes, very interesting and very sad, too, yet Romans 11 gives hope that a remnant of Jews will turn to faith in Jesus Christ and will be included in God's eternal kingdom.
    Rusty likes this.
  7. Ahhhh...there's always Hope..at least till the last trumpet call! Praise the Lord!
    SueJLove and Rusty say Amen and like this.

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