"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Friday, June 17, 2022

PONDERING THE PARABLES – Part Eight

~ by James Fire

INTRODUCTION: We’ll soon complete this non-exhaustive series on the New Testament parables and it’s my prayer and hope is that readers will examine these articles and be encouraged to commit to a study of their own!

Whereas the preceding parables were largely prophetic in nature, what we have before us are more practical and involves conduct – both of the LORD and of ourselves, His saints.

Conduct matters, and don’t let anyone try to tell you differently. There are abusers of the grace of GOD who believe themselves to be saved, and rest on that – and such rest is warranted in the sense that our salvation is based on Christ and Christ alone, apart from any works of our own.

That being said, these sort who, having this assurance that they’re saved “no matter what”, are then free to live a life of sin, indulge the flesh, never have a care regarding the Word, prayer, obedience to the LORD, and yet somehow believe that because “I said the prayer of salvation” – that they can live like hell and still expect to make it into heaven.

John the Baptist as well as the LORD Jesus plainly stated that every tree that doesn’t produce fruit will be cut off and cast into the fire (MT 3:10; 7:19). Scripture states what the fruit of the Spirit is; and if only the fruit of repentance, it’s still fruit and evidence that one has turned from the old life of sin and turned to, received, and expressed faith in Christ (GAL 5:22-24).

Let’s take a look at these passages prayerfully and hear what the LORD would tell us:

LUKE 10:25-28
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" 27 So he answered and said," 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.'" 28 And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live
. (See also MATT 22:36-40)

This is the summation of the law and the prophets; that if one will love GOD wholeheartedly and others as oneself, then one will do all that they can to honor and obey GOD. It’s a foregone conclusion that if one loves GOD in this way, that they won’t take His name in vain, that they will honor the sabbath rest, that they would worship the LORD alone and none other.
Likewise one will not steal from others, bear false witness against them, not covet what’s theirs, etc. It’s expressed a bit differently in MATTHEW’s Gospel:
MATTHEW 7:12
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets
.
The issue is, who is there that loves GOD with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength, daily, hourly, non-stop with never any incident of putting oneself first instead? The LORD said, “Do this and you will live” – it’s the doing that’s beyond the human being to accomplish – apart from the power of the Holy Spirit through the new birth!
Obviously none of us are perfectly sinless (and if you think you are, then you’re guilty of bearing false witness as well as the sin of boastful pride), but there should be evidence of spiritual development and growth.

While those who are genuinely saved are accounted holy positionally (1 PET 2:9; HEB 3:1), we should be growing in holiness in our practical, daily lives (2 COR 7:1; EPH 4:24; 1 PET 1:15).

LUKE 10:29-37
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 "Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 "So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' 36 "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" 37 And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise
.

In the beatitudes the LORD said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (MT 5:7). We will be neighborly in a godly sense, when we show mercy to strangers, who we don’t know from Adam, or even to our enemies (MT 5:44). Remember that the Jews and the Samaritans vilified and despised each other. Jews traveling from northern to southern Israel would actively avoid taking the straight course through Samaria. The Samaritan woman in JOHN 4 was shocked when the LORD Jesus sat down and began a discourse with her!

What would be our conduct if we encountered an abortionist, or a radical left socialist or a militant homosexual? Would we extend merciful kindness towards them, or remain stonily silent while in their presence (and seek our immediate removal from the premises)?

If the world was full of people who only expressed such things as compassion, empathy, mercy, who loved others and took as good care of them as they did themselves, what a state of affairs we would find ourselves in!
This planet would be nearly heavenly!
It’s because of the sin nature that pride, selfishness, greed, malice, and cruelty exists and so long as this world is managed by such people, any façade of “bringing heaven down to earth” will be fruitless and at best produce the very ‘false peace’ that we can expect during the deceptive days of antichrist.

Not so during the Millennium! How we saints long for the Day when the LORD Jesus Christ will assume management over this weary planet of perdition and restore it to that which GOD intended from the beginning before the rebellion of mankind!

The next parable is about covetousness:

LUKE 12:15-21
15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 "And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' 18 "So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God
.

Suppose I would admonish you to take heed and beware of stampeding buffalo – how valid would such a warning be? Not very, as there are very few buffalo around these days. It’s unnecessary to give warning on unlikely dangers, but here we are given warning from the LORD about covetousness – a danger that’s rather likely in the average person’s life. And once the ‘covet monster’ finds a way into our thinking, it can set up camp and stay, not easily evicted!

In today’s Western world, “the great American dream” to “make it” seems like a birth right to most of us here in the USA. The LORD said, “one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” but we Americans tend to think it does: what our “net worth” is, what sort of house we live in, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, etc. as well as whether or not we have a summer home, recreational vehicles like RV’s and speedboats, and so on.

I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “The one who dies with the most toys wins”.
The very fact that one inevitably dies is the ultimate defeat that nothing at all can remedy; any and all victories are short-lived in light of eternity.

In this parable a wealthy man experienced prosperity beyond what he could contain. His solution is to build out his affluence so as to contain the significant surplus. He then felt he could indulge in a well-deserved retirement. And that was the limit of his perspective, all the way up to the end of his life in this world, and nothing beyond. For that, the LORD refers to him as a fool.

An investor who employs all of his resources and wealth into upgrading the Titanic; building a house of cards at the commencing wind of an oncoming hurricane. Obsessed with this small dash of time, with never a thought, much less any action towards the preparation for eternity.

While the economic strangulation of American commerce will certainly mean humbled lives of near-poverty existence for many of us (except for the mega-wealthy who actually benefitted by the global shutdown due to ‘the plandemic’), I think GOD in His wisdom will teach us what we should’ve already known: “one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”.

I read a devotional where a man was visiting the grave of his father; as he stood before the tombstone, his eyes were focused on the dash between his father’s birthdate and day of death. That small dash represents the entirety of this earthly existence. He turned his gaze towards all the other tombstones and recognized that this is all we have in this world – this infinitesimally brief dash in the midst of borderless eternity.

How foolish to commit oneself to the pleasures and purposes confined to some several decades in this temporary world, and disregard where the soul will migrate to once its fleshly housing grows cold and planted in the earth. It’s imperative that the soul invests in eternity, and with the Sole Governor, the One Who owns that domain.

Heaven is offered to those who seek salvation from perdition, which itself is the destiny of the unredeemed. And as I’ve said many times before: there are no exits in hell. And those who are "rich towards GOD" will have everlasting peace and joy and life!

Next is a parable about self-discipline, vigilance and faithful watching, and the rewards or consequences for any lack thereof:

LUKE 12:35-40
35 "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 "and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat and will come and serve them. 38 "And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect
.

Our passions are a kind of fire; and fire makes a good servant when controlled but becomes a destructive tyrant when left to run amok.

The fire in a forge will help to create masterful works of iron and steel, even gold and silver.
But a fire that knows no such confinement can reduce valued materials to ash.

GOD created us with passions that when under the benevolent and gentle control of His Spirit that fuels industry and marvelous makings of mankind.
Without that discipline by Deity, our passionate lusts (inordinate desires) will cause chaotic, self-centered, self-glorifying works of wickedness that devolves into the sort of madness that we’re seeing today. These passions must be girded up by godly influence, and let one’s heart, indwelt by the Spirit be the flame that burns brightly through the lamp of our lives.

We understand that our lives are not our own (1 COR 6:19). The One Who granted us life is also the Judge Who will inspect what we’ve done with our lives (1 COR 3:11-15) – this should have a sobering effect on our conduct, because we recognize that we are waiting for that Day when our Master will sit as our Judge.

Those who’ve been faithful, watching for His return, and praying for such will witness a Wonder of wonders – the GOD of all creation, the Word made flesh, the majestic LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ has said that He will gird Himself and serve us!! I see this happening at the LAMB’s Wedding feast, when the Bridegroom will attend to His beloved bride and express His love, by serving her.

The thought of it brings me to humble tears of profound gratitude. Let us not therefore slumber but rouse ourselves from the dreary dream state of the depressing darkness that would overwhelm us in these last days; let us rather determine to remain vigilant by the power of the Spirit and don the armor of light!
ROMANS 13:11
11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts
.
The comparative verse to these verses above is EPHESIANS 6:10-18. The belt of truth (vs. 14) is a belt of integrity, which may be seen as internal truth; moral character that will maintain righteous conduct whether someone is watching or not. This is what our LORD is speaking about in LUKE 12:35.

We’ve been warned that iniquity – lawlessness, will abound (MT 24:12; overflowing wickedness like a tsunami of sewage) over this world, and yet we are called to keep our garments (our lives) spotless (JAMES 1:27). No means can avail this objective except for the Holy Spirit; we are utterly dependent on His efficacy!

In watching for our LORD, He told us that it will be a time “we do not expect”, which asserts that it will take place without warning. For this reason, I believe that the doctrine of immanency is entirely biblical. The LORD Jesus could come today or three days from now – but perhaps no for three years, or three decades. We just don’t know, thus we must always be ready. Always! Amen!

LUKE 12:41-44
41 Then Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?" 42 And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 "Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 "Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has
.

Peter inquires who the LORD is addressing in these parables – to His disciples only, or to the world at large. The faithful steward is the one that He speaks to, ergo the disciples of Jesus Christ; yet any can become a disciple if they choose to follow Him. Following Christ involves self-denial, discipline, dying to sin nature – all through carrying the cross. It involves continuing in the Word of GOD, not just in the reading, nor even in the studying of it, but in obeying the Word of GOD. Likewise, to be a disciple of Christ, we are commanded to love one another as disciples as Christ Jesus loves us!
MATTHEW 16:24-26
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
(MK 10:21)

ROMANS 6:1-6
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin
. (GAL 2:20)

JOHN 8:31-32
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
. (PS 119:9-11; PR 23:12)

JOHN 13:34-35
34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another
. (1 PET 1:22)
The LORD declares that those who faithfully follow Him in the manner outlined above, that such a one will be granted to rule over all that the LORD has, that is, all that has been given to Him by the Father; we are heirs of GOD and joint heirs with Christ:
ROMANS 8:17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together
.
Note that one qualifier is that we suffer with Him, and thereby be glorified together; if we truly follow Christ, then we shall be persecuted as the LORD Himself was: persecuted for righteousness’ sake (MT 5:10).

LUKE 12:45-48
45 "But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 "And that servant who knew his master's will and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 "But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more
.

There are those who aren’t expecting Christ’s return anytime soon; they think that it could be hundreds of years before He comes back, and so they don’t bother to “watch and pray” as He commanded His disciples to do.
We see this idea in miniature form in the Garden of Gethsemane: the LORD told His disciples to watch and pray lest they come into temptation (MT 26:41). He then went away to pray Himself and when He returned, He found them all sleeping.

Likewise when the LORD returns to this world, many professed believers will be found sleeping, and He warned us about this in:
MARK 13:33-37
33Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning-- 36 "lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!
(1 THESS 5:4-8)
There are of course degrees of punishment for false professors of the faith who share the same portion as the unbelievers (vs. 46), thus they must be genuine unbelievers themselves. The determining factors are: how much is given to them, and how much did they know.

Here in America, we’ve been so incredibly blessed by GOD, more than any other nation with the exception of Israel in my opinion. Blessed in every way: in our agriculture, our industry, the relative wealth of the average American in comparison to citizens of other nations; the beautiful landscapes of this continent with abundance of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, fertile soil.

We’ve been blessed with the most worthy form of self-government found anywhere in history, the Constitution of the United States of America. As originally constructed, it protected those in power from corruption by limiting their power and placed such politicians properly as servants of the people.
The Constitution ensured that not only our nation would be sovereign, but also every single individual: that by definition is who an American is supposed to be. All of this is under the submission of the righteousness as found in the Bible, and in particular where civil and legal matters are concerned, in the Ten Commandments.

And most especially, our nation has been blessed through the abundance of Bible teaching, preaching, and institutions and churches that exalt the Word of GOD even above GOD’s own name – just as He does (PS 138:2).

We have in fact been “given much” and therefore “much is required”. Most Americans would understand what JOHN 3:16 means – that it’s a passage from the Bible; many could quote the verse! Many have been exposed to biblical teaching or at the least, have convenient access to such via television, radio, Internet, etc.

While most Americans know about the Gospel and know where they could go to find biblical truth, they reject it in this now post-Christian era of America.

I recall the words of Thomas Jefferson:
I tremble for my country when I realize that GOD is just, and that His justice will not sleep forever.”
I likewise tremble – and yet can we not agree that at least in some measure, America is already under judgment?

Seven years to the very date, on June 16, 2015, homosexual marriage was legalized on the national level, and that opened the pandora’s box of perdition when the entire abominable assortment of LBGTQ rose up demanding their rights along with reprehensible pedophiles. Drag queens haunt our public libraries, to read to our children essentially grooming them in acceptance of such. And now they’re invited to preach in our churches!

Public schools curriculum in “health class” have pornographic level illustrations and or descriptions demonstrating same sex ‘positions’. Our children are being surgically mutilated because they believe that they’re transgender, and the suicide rates are high among such recipients of this damnable, irreversible procedure.

Child sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar enterprise and it’s highly probable that some of our government officials have their hands dirty in these contemptible crimes.
Our Constitutional way of life is being trampled on, spit upon by the younger generations who were taught the virtues of Socialism in our universities, while at the same time swallowing the revisionist history by those same college professors.

While abortion might be overthrown on a national level with Roe v. Wade being struck down, this will undoubtedly lead to levels of such strife, hatred and violence across the States as has never been witnessed before!

The ensuing chaos of this, and likely the reemergence of BLM and Antifa, as well as food shortages, sky-rocketing gas prices, and our current administration bowing before the reign of the W.H.O. – which will basically rob us of the national sovereignty that was fought for so valiantly in America’s early years – this is all judgment on a nation that has rejected the GOD of the Bible wholesale.

This is the fruit of what Scripture addresses in ROMANS (check out the TTUF study on this chapter):
ROMANS 1:16-32
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them
.
While our current situation appears bleak and downright discouraging, we realize that we are citizens of “a heavenly country”, and merely pilgrims in this foreign, strange land that I refer to as “Planet Rebel” (HEB 11:13-16). Our hope is in Christ and His unshakable, everlasting kingdom (HEB 12:24-28).

For more on this, check out this TTUF article: AT TWILIGHT’s LAST GLEAMING: The Former Then the Greater Beacon of Hope.

We’ll continue in Pondering the Parables in Part Nine!

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