The Person of Christ – Part Four – Mark 4:1-41

 

In Mark chapter four we come to Mark’s inclusion of Jesus’ most basic and foundational parable, the parable of the sower and soils. Also in this chapter are a number of other parables of Jesus. Here we see Jesus the Illustrator.

 

Jesus the Illustrator

 

In Mark chapter four Mark is inspired to show us the teaching technique of Jesus and in this technique we see a great truth about Jesus. Jesus communicated God’s revelation truth in a way that could be understood and that was life challenging and life changing.  He did not come speaking with great long complex terms that only an elite few could understand (though he certainly had the capacity to do so). Jesus taught in a way that even children could grasp and understand. For truth to have an effect it must be communicated in a way that is understandable to the one’s being taught; those taught need to be taught in a way they can understand the meaning and significance of the truth taught. Also, Jesus always taught in a way that called for decision. Teaching for the sake of teaching is fruitless and pointless. Teaching must always lead to an application. These are the functions performed by the illustration in teaching. An illustration is an example from life that communicates a truth. An illustration uses circumstances commonly known to the audience to show truth in a practical way.

 

The Three Parts of Good Teaching

 

Good teaching always has three parts which express or declare:

 

·         What you need to know (definition). This aspect of teaching can be expressed in the following way: “Here is the truth of your situation.”

·         Why you need to know it (explanation, rationale or logic). This aspect of teaching can be expressed in the following way: “This is important because . . . You need to know this because . . .”

·         How you can apply what you have come to know (application). This aspect of teaching can be expressed in the following way: “What are you going to do with what you have been taught? You need to do this . . . ?”

 

This is exactly what we see in the teaching of Jesus. He communicates by stating truth that is worth knowing. Then He explains why we need to know it. And He concludes with a call for decision or a call to apply what has been learned.

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus communicated truth in a way that was understandable and always called for decision on the part of those He taught. We too should learn to communicate God’s truth (i.e. His word – John 17:17) in a way that is understandable to those we are trying to reach.

 

Teaching is an important mode of communication that we see al around us and therefore we need to be interested in learning teaching skills.

 

What You Need to Know About Teaching

 

We are all called to teach in some capacity at some point in our lives. Parents are called to teach their children (Deuteronomy 11:19). In the body of Christ, mature believers are to teach immature believers (Titus 2:1-8). When it comes to teaching we need to remember four things.

 

First, Jesus commanded that teaching be central to His disciple making mission strategy. In the Great Commission we see this as Jesus states:

 

  • Matthew 28:19-20 - Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”  [1]

The word “teaching” in Mark 4:2 and here in Matthew 28:20 comes from the Greek term DIDASKO (Strong’s # 1321/2 - didavskw didaskoµ, did-as´-ko) which means simply “to teach; teach,” and is derived from the primary verb DAO (davw daoµ) which means, “to learn” and therefore). [2] Therefore, teaching is conveying information in a way that facilitates learning.

Second, the Holy Spirit enables and empowers believers to teach. Jesus teaches us this when He states:

  • John 14:26 - “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  [3]

Herein is the great secret and key to teaching. To teach others you must first be taught by the Holy Spirit. You can go to school and do a lot of studying and accumulate a great number of facts and figures, but unless the Holy Spirit is doing the teaching what you receive will be hollow and shallow and not have God’s desired impact.

Third, to teach you need a servant’s heart. Paul was inspired to teach that a servant’s heart was and is essential to effective teaching when he wrote:

  • 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” [4]

When you fight, you are in your flesh. When you are in your flesh, you are relying on your own strength, not the Spirit’s and you are doomed to ineffectiveness and failure. When you have a servant’s heart in teaching you are relying on the Spirit to guide you and empower the words He gives you to use in teaching.

Fourth, some are particularly gifted by God to teach. In the church one of the spiritual gifts given by Jesus to edify the body of Christ is teaching. Paul wrote of this spiritual gift saying:

  • Ephesians 4:11-16 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”  [5]

These verses teach us that when a person teaches in the Spirit with the spiritual gift given by God the effect will be:

    1. Saints are equipped for ministry – 4:12a
    2. The Body of Christ will be edified, i.e. built up spiritually – 4:12b
    3. The aim of the teaching will be to unite the Body of Christ in its common faith and knowledge of the Son of God Jesus – 4:13a
    4. Believers will be moved toward being “a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” that is they will grow in their relationship with Jesus – 4:13b
    5. The Body of Christ will be stabilized and on the firm footing of sound doctrine, not susceptible to “the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” – 4:14
    6. Those taught will learn to speak the truth in love and grow “in all things into Him who is the Head – Christ -” i.e., they will learn to seek Jesus direction in all areas of life – 4:15
    7. The Body of Christ will learn to rely on Jesus, growing and working effectively together in edifying love – 4:16

This is what Biblical teaching is all about.

 

One of the primary tools Jesus the Illustrator used to teach was the parable.

 

What Is A Parable?

Mark 4:1-2 – “And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: . . . .”   [6]

What is a parable? The word “parable” is translated from the Greek term PARABOLE (Strong’s #3850). The Greek prefix “para” means “near, beside; to place something alongside” and the root word “ballo” means “to throw.” Hence, the idea hear is, “a placing of one thing beside another” with a view to comparison.” [7] In order to teach and communicate clearly, Jesus used earthly stories to communicate heavenly meanings. Jesus used parables to illustrate spiritual truths by way of using everyday commonly known practices and situations. Jesus is the great Illustrator.

The Purpose of Parables

Mark 4:10-12 – “But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,12 “so that  ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’ ”  [8]

Before we begin to study the parables, let’s clarify the purpose of parables. The disciples come to Jesus and “asked Him about the parable.”  (4:10). Jesus answers the disciples making the following points.

First, understanding of the parables is provided or “given” by God (4:10). Jesus said, “To you it has been given to know . . .” This conveys a primary truth we need to grasp. Whatever we know about God is revealed by God and particularly, by the Holy Spirit. God explains this truth through the inspired words of the apostle Paul who wrote:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 – “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  [9]

The gist of these inspired words is that the Spirit of God reveals God’s will to whoever will receive it. The “natural man” is the man who rejects the Spirit’s overtures of salvation and as a result cannot understand the things of God. Parables are the means Jesus uses to remove any excuse before God. If you reject the clear teachings of God the Spirit communicated through such means as the parable, then your decision is clearly and definitely seen.

Second, parables distinguish between the spiritual haves and have-nots.  Jesus said, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, . . .” (4:11). Jesus here makes a clear demarcation between His disciples and “those who are outside . . . .” This tells us that parables are used to distinguish, to separate people into two groups. But what are these groups?

In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ explanation of the use of parables Jesus adds, “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Matthew 13:12). Parables were clear illustrations of spiritual truths. Jesus didn’t use parables to confuse people, but to clearly explain spiritual truth so that if a person didn’t “understand,” it was not because the teaching was unclear but it was because a person did not want to understand. In Mark 3 (3:28-29) Jesus spoke of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Parables point out the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit in that those who refuse to respond to clear teaching, are rejecting the overtures of the Spirit.

Third, parables clarify and confirm the willful decisions of people (4:12). Jesus said, “so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.” The clear presentation of truth in the parable presents an opportunity to the audience to “turn.” The King James Version translates this as, “lest at any time they should be converted.” The words “turn” and “converted” here are translated from the Greek term EPISTREPHO (Strong’s # 1994 - ejpistrevfw eápistreáphoµ, ep-ee-stref´-o) which means, “to revert . . . come (go) again, convert, (re-) turn (about, again).”[10] The idea here is that an opportunity is given to turn to God from sinful ways.

God’s truth is clearly portrayed through the illustrative nature of parables and therefore, if a person rejects the message of a parable, they can claim no excuse of ignorance later. The parables of Jesus clarified the need for repentance and turning to God for forgiveness or reconciliation. Someone has said:

“Light carried into a dark barn makes the rats in the barn run for cover and the birds tweet and flutter. The same light that causes the birds to sing causes the rats to hide . . .. That’s why Jesus spoke in parables, to reveal who were the birds and who were the rats.”  [11]

Fourth, parables expose the willful dullness of people’s hearts (4:12; Matthew 13:14-16). Jesus said this is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s inspired words (Isaiah 6:9-10). When a person rejects the overtures and message of the Spirit, it has a dulling effect on their hearts. Parables therefore, serve to either enlighten or harden a person based on their reaction to the Spirit. Those who respond receptively to God’s clear presentation of truth are given more truth. Those who reject such clear truth from God are hardened, dulled and made insensitive to further truth. An example of this would be the incident in the Old Testament where Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (Exodus 5-12). Read what Jeremiah said about this:

  • Jeremiah 6:10 – “To whom shall I speak and give warning, That they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, And they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the Lord is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.”  [12]

When people view God’s word as a “reproach,” they are ashamed of it and it indicates the deep hardness of their heart condition.

In the New Testament this idea is expressed in the following verses which state:

  • Galatians 6:7-8 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” [13]

This is why it is so important to respond to the revealed truth of God because each time you reject God’s truth, you become a little less sensitive, a little less able to respond the next time until, as we have seen a person can reach a point of no return (John 12:39).

One week after the September 11th, 2001 horrific terror attacks on the World Trade Center, I had the opportunity to go into the New York City to do some street evangelism with a team of 12 other brothers in the Lord. The Lord led us to Central Park to share the gospel. The American Bible Society, located nearby, gave us a bunch of pamphlets for us to distribute in our endeavor. As I stood by a makeshift memorial of candles at the Southwest entrance of Central Park, I offered the free material to passersby. Some welcomed the material. Some took the material only out of politeness it seemed. Some looked upon me with disdain. Others refused to even make eye contact or acknowledge my presence. As I stood there offering God’s word and a blessing to passersby, the Spirit seemed to say to my heart, “You see, this is how they rejected Jesus.” But I noticed something else too.

As people emptied off of buses and walked the area, I noticed that if the first person of a group took the material, for the most part, those who followed them took the material too. If the first person in a passing group refused the material, usually those who followed seemed to refuse in kind. As they passed by I could see this in their eyes. I sensed some of them wanted the material, but did not want others to know they did. There was a willful dullness in many of the people who passed by that day. All I could do was pray for their souls.

An Illustration: Witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witnesses

 

If you were in a church or any other gathering of people and asked for a show of hands of those who had a Jehovah’s Witness come to their door, you would probably have nearly everyone raise their hand. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a heart for evangelism, for reaching the lost. They are a cult and teach false heretical doctrine that does not save a person from sin, but they have a heart for evangelism that often puts true Christians to shame.

 

Most people run and hide when they see a Jehovah’s Witness coming; they will lower the shades and literally try to make it look like “Nobody’s home” when they see a Jehovah’s Witness approaching their door. Why is that? It’s probably because they know of the frustration of trying to witness to a Jehovah’s Witness. Those that are prayerful, brave and bold enough to enter into a conversation or witnessing opportunity with a Jehovah’s Witness know that such an encounter can be frustrating, confusing, and fruitless. That is because it is rare that a Jehovah’s Witness can be won to Christ by dueling scriptures. It is very frustrating to share the clear truth of God’s word with them and still not have them understand. They have been so thoroughly indoctrinated and brainwashed in what they believe that they have a response or alternate view for near every real truth of God’s word. And if per chance you are able to stump them, they will likely leave and return to the Kingdom Hall where they will speak with another elder (when they come to your door they come with an elder and a trainee in twos) who will tell them what the Watch Tower view is and they will say, “I guess I’m just not smart enough to understand. Then they will go on being a Jehovah’s Witness. Oftentimes such witnessing encounters and opportunities end in shouting matches, shaken faith, and showing them the door. There is a reason for that that I would like to explain now.

 

First, we should not run away from Jehovah’s Witnesses or from any other witnessing opportunities. The Bible clearly says we are to reach out to the lost and contend for the faith:

 

  • Matthew 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”  [14]
  • Jude 3-4 – “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  [15]

We have been given, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” and that is worth contending for.  Indeed we are commanded to contend for the faith. And notice, this faith was once for all given to us, we do not need further human traditions or future “new revelation” to add to it, we have it all in God’s word and we need to give it to those who don’t. We need to go and make disciples and teach them the truth, and that includes Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Second, when we witness to a Jehovah’s Witness (or any unsaved person) we should not argue but speak truth in love. The Bible clearly states that arguing is not the route to take with those we witness to. The Bible says:

  • 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”  [16]
  • 1 Peter 3:15-16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”  [17]

Yes, we are to contend for God’s truth, but we are to do so in love. Whatever we do without love is worthless and ineffective spiritually (1 Corinthians 13). We are to therefore speak God’s truth in love. The Bible says:

  • Ephesians 4:15 – “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” [18]

The Holy Spirit is the One who gives us the capacity to speak the truth in love (Romans 5:5).

Third, when we witness to a Jehovah’s Witness (or any other unsaved person) we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin. This is true not only of our strategy with Jehovah’s Witnesses, but with all our witnessing to unbelievers. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts and makes unbelievers aware of their unsaved position before God. The Bible says:

  • John 16:8-11 - “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;10 “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;11 “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”  [19]

The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts and leads a person to Christ, we are only His mouthpieces.

Fourth, we need to remember; Jehovah’s Witnesses (and all unsaved people) do not have the capacity to understand the scriptures. The reason Jehovah’s Witnesses will rarely be won to Christ by dueling scriptures is because; they do not have the capacity to understand the truth of scriptures. Let me explain. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not saved and as unsaved people they do not have the Holy Spirit in them (Romans 8:9-14). Without the Holy Spirit they cannot understand the scriptures because the scriptures are only understood with the help of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Bible says the Holy Spirit is the Teacher of truth and that you must have Him in you to understand the truth of God (which is contained in God’s word – John 8:31-32; 17:17):

 

  • John 14:26 - “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  [20]
  • John 15:26 - “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  [21]
  • 1 Corinthians 2:11-14 – “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  [22]

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses are dead spiritually; they are living in spiritual darkness and are under the power of Satan as are all unsaved people. The Bible describes the unsaved in the following way:

 

  • Acts 26:17-18 – “‘I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,18 ‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’”  [23]
  • Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”  [24]

When we try to duel scriptures with a Jehovah’s Witness or any other cult or unsaved person it is as though we are asking a blind person to read the Bible, they can’t.

Fifth, when we witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any unsaved person) we need to aim at the root problem. The root problem with any sinner is their sin and the Law of God is the tool God has given to be used in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit to convict a person of their sin (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

 In the case of the Jehovah’s Witness their root sin is that their organization claims to be a “prophet” of God and their sin is in not measuring up to God’s standards of being a true prophet.  In the Bible Jesus said:

  • Matthew 7:15-20 - Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”  [25]

Jehovah’s Witnesses are “false prophets” who literally “come to you,” they come to your door. Now notice that Jesus is speaking about false prophets and not merely people who utter mistakes in every day conversation. You have to claim to be a false prophet to be a false prophet. And those who claim to be a prophet are known by their fruit. The fruit of a prophet is their prophecies. A true prophet gives true prophecies. A false prophet gives false prophecies. The root issue is the prophetic fruit.

How do we determine if a prophet is truly from God or falsely not?  In the book of the Law Deuteronomy it states:

  • Deuteronomy 18:20-22 – “‘But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’21 “And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’—22 “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”  [26]

The standard of measure that exposes a false from a true prophet of God is the 100% accuracy of prophecies. A false prophet who is not from God is any prophet who is anything less than 100% accurate in the prophecy they speak from God.

Prophets of God?

Now has the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization ever claimed to be “a prophet” from God? Yes, there is ample proof from their own documents to show this. For example in the January 15th, 1959 edition of the Watchtower it is stated:

  • “Whom has God actually used as his prophet? . . . . Jehovah’s Witnesses are deeply grateful today that the plain facts show that God has been pleased to use them.” (See also the articles in Watchtower magazine entitled, The Nations Shall Know That I am Jehovah 1971 pages 56-71 and the editorial article in April 1dst 1972 issue of Watchtower magazine page 189, 197.)
  • “The editor of The Watchtower is Jehovah God according to court testimony by Fredrick Franz.” (Olin R. Moyle versus Fred Franz, et.al 1920).
  •  “A person would go into darkness after two years of reading the Bible alone; would be in the light reading the Studies in the Scriptures alone.” (The Watchtower Magazine 9/15/1910, p. 4685)
  • “Jehovah’s organization has a visible part on earth which represents the Lord and is under his direct supervision.” (Watchtower 5/1/1938, p. 169).
  • Respond to the directions of the organization as you would the voice of God. (Watchtower 6/15/1957, p. 370
  • “He does not impart his holy spirit and an understanding and appreciation of his Word apart from his visible organization.” (Watchtower 7/1/1965 p. 391)
  • “This ‘prophet’ was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was a small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses.” (Watchtower 4/1/1972)
  •  “. . . come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation . . .” (Watchtower  11/15/1981, p. 21)
  • “. . . the ‘prophet’ whom Jehovah has raised up has been, not an individual man as in the case of Jeremiah, but a class . . . . God has on earth a people, all of whom are prophets, or witnesses for God . . . Jehovah’s Witnesses.” (Watchtower 10/1/1982 p. 27 and Awake 6/8/86, p. 9)
  • “God has on earth today a prophetlike organization.” (Watchtower 10/1/1964 page 601).

A comment here on this last quote is necessary. Jehovah’s Witnesses will often try to deny the claims of their organization to being a “prophet” by saying their organization is a “prophet in a sense” or “prophetlike.” There is no such distinction in scripture. There is no “prophet in a sense,” or “prophetlike” there are only true prophets and false prophets in scripture and the issue is which category does the Jehovah’s Witness organization fall into.

Interestingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses own material urges readers to test their prophecies to see whether or not they are true prophets:

  • “If these prophecies have not been fulfilled, and if all possibility of fulfillment is past, then these prophets are proven false.” Prophecy  (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1929) p. 22
  •  “The best method of proof is to put a prophecy to the test of time and circumstances. The Bible invites such a test . . . the Bible . . .established the rules for testing a prophecy at Deuteronomy 18:20-22.” The Watchtower 3/1/1965, p. 151
  • “Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?” Watchtower 4/1/1972, p. 197
  • “Jehovah . . . will put all false prophets to shame eith4er by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having His own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets.” Paradise Restored to Mankind – By Theocracy, (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1972) p. 353-354.

If we hold the prophecies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Biblical standard of God, how do they fare? Not too well.

By the Record – False Prophets

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society claims it is the mouthpiece of God and as such it, along with any others who claim to be God’s prophets, must stand the test of God’s word for prophets, 100% accuracy. Therefore we ask, has the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses every made a prophecy that did not come to pass, a false prophecy that would show they are not from God? Yes, on a number of occasions false prophecies have been made by this organization. From their own literature it has been prophesied:

They have falsely claimed that the Second Advent of Jesus occurred:

  • “Scriptures prove that the Lord’s Second Advent was in 1874.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, page 68).
  • The second coming of the Lord therefore began in 1874 . . . . “ (Creation, page 289 early editions, p. 310 later editions.)

They have falsely claimed that the Millennium has begun:

  • The Millennium began in 1874, with the Return of Christ.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, page 386)

They have falsely claimed the return of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and even purchased a home “Beth Sarim” - House of Princes” in San Diego California for them which was later sold to a Christian):

  • Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the faithful prophets of old . . . . “ (Millions Now Living Will Never Die pages 89-90)

They have falsely claimed the end of things:

  • Rev. William Draper, once black, is now white in answer to prayer according to Watchtower 10/1/1900, p. 2706.
  • “By 1914 the Lord will have full control. Gentile governments will be overthrown; body of Christ will be glorified; Jerusalem will no longer be trodden; Israel’s blindness will be turned away; there will be world-wide anarchy; and God’s kingdom will take the place of man’s governments.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, early editions, pp. 76-78)
  • “the destruction . . . of Christendom in 1914 to 1918 A.D.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, p. 398)
  • Regarding the outcome of World War 2, “The Nazis will destroy the British.” (Fifth Column, page 15).
  • “The end of 6000 years is 1873.” (Watchtower 7/15/1894, p. 1675.) “In what year, then, would the first 6000 years of man’s existence and also the first 6,000 years of God’s rest day come to an end? The year 1975.” (Awake 10/8/66, p. 19).
  • Before the 1914 generation completely dies out, God’s judgment must be executed.” (Watchtower 5/1/1985).

These are only a very few of the hoard of false prophecies made by this false organization. Based on these false prophecies it is clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses fall under the Biblical definition of being “false prophets.” And as such are to be exposed for who they are.

Does Admission Excuse the False Prophet?

Jehovah’s Witnesses have admitted to making false predictions:

  • “Jehovah’s Witnesses are not infallible or inspired prophets.” (Watch Tower 5/15/1976, p. 297)

Does such an admission excuse the organization from any consequence? No, there is no instance in scripture where a prophet who claims to be from God is excused for making a wrong prophecy when they are speaking as “prophets of God.” There is no allowance for a prophet to say, “Oops! Sorry, my mistake. I was a little off on that one.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that even in Biblical times prophets, the apostles and Christians had wrong expectations and they were not classified as false prophets, why should they be so? They cite as examples Jonah (Jonah 3:4-10; 4:1-2), and the early disciples who thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6).

Some Jehovah’s Witnesses respond that the light of God’s revelation is made clearer over time and the Watchtower Organization comes to new and better understanding as time goes on. One might then ask, “Does this mean that in the future (the near future it is hoped) that the Watchtower organization could eventually be seen as false? And what happens to those who die in the present lesser light, are they lost for eternity?”

In regards to Jonah’s message of impending doom to the Ninevites, we need to keep in mind that in God’s words to sinful people there is always allowance for Gods’ mercy if that people repents (Jeremiah 18:7-8; Exodus 32:14; 2 Samuel 24:6; Amos 7:3,7). The Ninevites understood that Jonah’s message of doom was a call to them to repent. They did repent and God shoed them mercy. Jonah did not utter a false prophecy and therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no support from this example.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have no basis for comparing themselves to the early disciples who wrongly expected the Kingdom of God to come at Christ’s first incarnation. The first disciples never claimed to be speaking for God as prophets (i.e., “Thus saith the Lord”) when they expressed such expectations. On the other hand, as we have seen, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have made such claims to being prophetic mouthpieces of God. Whenever Biblical prophets or apostles spoke prophetically in the Bible, they never uttered a false prophecy.  The reason for this is simple. Because the words truly spoken from God were from God, and God makes no mistakes, then the words spoken prophetically from God were without error (Deuteronomy 18:18; 2 Samuel 23:2; Acts 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 2:13).

Again we need to reiterate, there is no Biblical precedent or example of a person speaking prophetically in a “thus saith the Lord” way, speaking as God’s mouthpiece, who is excused for speaking error. A true prophet from God, speaking the words of God, never speaks prophecies that contain error and if they do, they are condemned and dismissed as false prophets, not excused if they say they are sorry or for any other reason.

What’s a Jehovah’s Witness to Do?

Jehovah’s Witnesses need to know the Biblical standard for a true prophet of God. They need to know that because if the organization they belong too, claims to be a mouthpiece of God (as we have shown) and they do not live up to God’s standard of 100% accuracy in prophetic utterances (as we have also shown) then they belong to an organization that is condemned by God as being a false prophetic entity. And if this Watchtower Organization has been shown to be false, their other teachings are suspect as well. And if their other teachings are suspect, the individual Jehovah’s Witness is relying on a false organization for direction regarding the salvation of their eternal souls. The Jehovah’s Witness needs to come to the truth that is in Christ alone as revealed in His word. Your eternal destiny is not something to be trifled with. The Jehovah’s Witness needs to admit their sin (Romans 3:10,23) repent and come to Jesus Christ alone for their salvation (Acts 2:38-39; 26:18). They need to put faith alone in Jesus and not rely on their efforts or “good works” (Ephesians 2:1-9).  They need to be rely on the grace of God to save their soul (Romans 5; 6:23). They need to experience the peace of God and the freedom from condemnation that comes through faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1-2; 8:1). When they do this and are born again (John 3) and the Spirit enters them (Romans 8:9-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16), then and only then will they have the capacity to digest and learn the truth of God’s word with the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11-14).Then they need to get into God’s word, begin to discern and rightly divide truth from falsehood  and grow in His grace (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:18).

What Are We to Do with Jehovah’s Witnesses?

We are not to be afraid of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but rather point out their falsehood with the light of God’s word calling them to repent and turn to Jesus by way of the Spirit according to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Not all will turn or leave the Watchtower, but thanks be to God for those who will. God is pleading with the lost through us (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). We need to pray for their souls and show them the truth. [27]

All of this is an illustration of how we should view people in terms of Jesus’ parable of the Sower. People respond in various ways to the gospel and word of God and being aware of this is critically important to being an effective witness for God.  The parable of the Sower is the primary parable necessary to understand if we are to be used effectively by the Lord.

 The Primary Parable - The Sower – A Parable About Genuine Salvation

The Parable of the Sower is the primary or most foundational parable according to Jesus in Mark’s gospel, which states:

  • Mark 4:13 – “And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”  [28]

Jesus, with these words, tells us that disciples need to understand this parable if they are to understand any other parables. This parable is the most important parable because it addresses depicts true and false conversion.

The Principle Truths of The Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:3-9,14-20 - “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.4 “And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.5 “Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.6 “But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.7 “And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.8 “But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” . . . 14 “The sower sows the word.15 “And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.16 “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness;17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.18 “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,19 “and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.20 “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”   [29] (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23)

What are the elements of the Parable of the Sower? The elements of this parable are: the seed is God’s word (Mark 4:14; Matthew 13:4,19). The “sower” therefore, is one who is spreading God’s word (Mark 4:14; Matthew13:3). The various “soils” represent various conditions of the heart (Mark 4:15; Matthew 13:19). The parable of the sower is a parable about the importance of experiencing and knowing genuine salvation. It’s important to know what salvation looks like in a person so that false conversion can be exposed and false hope can be transformed into real living hope. What principles does Jesus teach us with this parable? 

First, not everyone who hears God’s word responds to it in a saving way. Based on this parable, only one fourth (1/4) of those who hear God’s word respond to it in a saving way. How many have responded in a saving way to your sowing of God’s word? 1 out of 4? 1 out of 10? 1 out of 100? 1 out of 1000? Jon Courson makes the following statement regarding this aspect of this parable:

            “Eternity magazine did a study . . . of a large crusade by a very famous evangelist. 178

churches came together for this particular crusade. In one week’s time, 4,106 decisions were made. But within three months, only 3% were going to church at all. That means 3,981 people came forward but didn’t go on. They responded to the message and sprang up quickly, but, like the seed in the parable, they were choked out by the cares of this world, leaving 3,981 inoculated backsliders, with just enough of the gospel to make them think they’re saved.”  [30]

 

This information may tempt us to be discouraged, but we should remember, that in the parable one out of four did respond in a saving way, and those are the ones who the disciple should rejoice in.

 

Second, the problem is not with the seed (God’s word). God’s word is living, active, and effective. God in His word tells us that His word can be trusted and relied upon, that it will effectively and satisfactorily accomplish that which God desires to be accomplished. God reveals the following about His word in His word:

 

  • Isaiah 55:10-11 – “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  [31]
  • Matthew 24:35 -  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”  [32]
  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  [33]
  • 1 Peter 1:22-25 – “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”  [34]

God’s word is the means by which God reveals Himself and His salvation to people. God tells us in His word that His word, “shall not return to Me void,” it “shall accomplish,” what God sends it to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11). God’s word is “living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word is, “incorruptible,” it, “abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). The problem is not with God’s word, it is with the condition of people’s hearts.

Third, the problem is with people’s hearts (the soil), with the hard heart of people. In Jeremiah it states:

  • Jeremiah 4:3-4 – “For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns.4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.”  [35]

How is the hard heart broken? God’s word breaks up the fallow or hard heart of the lost. Later in Jeremiah he is inspired to write:

  • Jeremiah 23:29 - “Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”  [36]

God’s word is able to crack the hardest heart. But for that to happen we need to use the right part of God’s word and in the right way.

The Hammer of God’s Law

God’s word is composed of various parts. There is wisdom, historical, poetical, apocalyptical and there is the Law. It is the Law portion of God’s word that is meant to deal with sinners. The proper use of the Law brings revelation that one is a sinner and as a sinner that one needs to repent and be saved from the penalty of sin. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he explains this and is inspired to write:

  • 1 Timothy 1:8-11 – “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”  [37]

Paul says here, “that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,” that is; if one uses the Law the way God intended it to be used (1 Timothy 1:8). How did God intend the Law to be used? First we see that “the law is not made for a righteous person” (1 Timothy 1:9). Once a person has been made righteous in Christ, (by accepting the gift of forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ who died on the cross in the sinners place – 2 Corinthians 5:21) that righteous person does not go on living in Christ by keeping the Law or a set of rules.

You see when a person accepts Jesus as their Savior and is saved from their sin; the Holy Spirit comes to reside within them (John 3:5,8; Titus 3:5). When the Spirit comes into a person’s heart at regeneration the Spirit pours out God’s love into that heart (Romans 5:5). The regenerate person lives in the Spirit by that love (Galatians 5:22-24). The Bible tells us “love is the fulfillment of the Law”:

  • Romans 13:8-10 – “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  [38]

You see the law is fulfilled in the born again person by God’s outpoured love through the Spirit. This is how God puts His Law in our hearts (Hebrews 10:15-18; Jeremiah 31:33-34). A regenerate person doesn’t walk around with a list of laws to abide by, that is legalism and that deadens the Spirit’s work in a person. No, as we will see below, the Law brings a person to the cross of Christ to be saved, and then it’s work is finished in the believer. 

The Four Soils (Hearts)

There are basically four soils or heart conditions of those who hear the word of God. There are four attitudes of the heart toward the gospel seed of God’s word. Each person exposed to the gospel of God’s word falls into one of these four types of heart soils. It’s important the disciple knows these soils so that they can minister effectively and efficiently. Let’s see what they are like.

As we have seen in this parable, not everyone is converted when they hear God’s word. However, some will seem to be converted or make some response to God’s word. It’s important to know a true from false convert so as to know how to properly minister to such people. It’s also important so that false hope can be exposed and genuine conversion unto salvation and eternal life can be realized. If a person is falsely converted, they may go through life thinking they are saved when in effect they are not and then come to a brutal and tragic knowledge of their false conversion only on the Day of Judgment when it is too late. This is so important for the disciple to know about. Disciple, you need to know genuine conversion. How do we know a true from a false convert? Let’s see.

First the Hard-Heart-Soil That Is Closed to God’s Word.

Mark 4:4,15 - “And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. . . . And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.[39] (Matthew 13:19)

Jesus pointed to the paths that went from one field to another where because of the transit of people the ground had become pressed down, packed down and hardened. That’s the way some people’s hearts are toward God. Some people have rejected for so long God’s attempts by the Spirit to reach them that they have become rock hard, as insensitive as granite toward God. Some people have hearts that are so hardened against God and His word that they shut their ears and hearts to God’s word. When a person willfully resists God’s word, Jesus says the enemy (“birds”) comes and snatches it away. These people are never converted due to the impenetrable nature of their hearts. They remain in the darkness of sin and under the power of Satan, the lord of darkness and deception (John 8:44; Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14-15; Ephesians 2:1-4).

One may think this is the saddest of the heart-soils, but that is not the case. At least those who have hardhearted heart soils are honest in their rejection of the word of God. Those bad heart soils which follow are deceptive and dishonest.

Second, the Shallow-Heart-Soil of Emotional Response to God’s Word.

Mark 4:5-6, 16-17 - “Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.6 “But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away . . . .  These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness;17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”[40] (Matthew 13:20-21)

The “stony places” referred to by Jesus are those areas where there is a thin layer of earth that covers bedrock. Seed thrown on these areas would receive the seed and the seed would germinate quickly, but because of the rock immediately below the surface, roots could not anchor the plant in the soil and so it would wither away shortly. Such a heart is like the one who may be caught up in the emotion of a crusade and come forward, but they never go on with God or take in His word and so salvation is not able to germinate in them. They have no personal relationship with God. Their true unsaved condition is revealed when persecution or trial arises in their lives and they turn away from God.

Stony ground converts are those who pharisaically show a faith on the surface, but when a trial or persecution comes, they flee for their lives and forsake their faith in Christ. They may talk Christianese and even go to church, but there is no staying power, no character to persevere with the Lord during times of trial and hardship. They are false converts.

Third, The Fruitless-Heart-Soil That Shows No Application of God’s Word.

Mark 4:7, 18-19 - “And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. . . . Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,19 “and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” [41] (Matthew 13:22)

Seed sown among weeds and thorns are choked off from the nutrients necessary for growth. In the same way, there are those who hear God’s word and the weeds of riches choke off any fruitfulness in their lives. These are those who hear God’s word and may even profess to being saved, but their lives go on just the same as before their profession. There is no measurable change in this person’s life. No evidence of the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), no evidence of newness of life (Romans 6:4). No life of the Spirit (Romans 8:9-17).

The heart that is thorny also puts on a good show of conversion, but in effect their god is not Jesus, but the things of this world. Read what the Bible says about such people:

  • 1 Timothy 6:6-12 – “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  [42]
  • 1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  [43]

That the second and third heart conditions are possible are revealed in the words of Jesus who said in the Sermon on the Mount:

  • Matthew 7:21-23 - “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  [44]

You see, there are those who have an outward, surface performance amongst God’s people, but in the end it will be revealed they, “never knew,” Jesus personally as Savior. There have been, are and will be those who pay Jesus lip-service, but their hearts are far from Him, which is exactly what Jesus is recorded to have say later in Mark’s gospel account where it is written:

  • Mark 7:6 – “He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 1 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.”  [45]

The phrase that best describes false conversion is, “their heart is far from Me.” Conversion involves the heart, giving God your heart (Romans 10:8-10). The shallow soil and thorny soil hearts never truly allow God’s word of grace to penetrate deep into their hearts so that it can take root, grow and change them. The parables in Mark 4 (and Matthew 13) which follow the parable of the Sower emphasize how the falsely converted are among the genuinely converted in the congregation of God’s people. But not all are lost; some are saved and changed to a life of fruitfulness.

A Word on Cults

Where do cults fit in to the consideration of heart responses to the seed or word of God? When people respond to the word of God like the first three heart-soil types we have seen in our above discussion, they become vulnerable to the deception of the false teachings of cults. Where a person rejects outright the truth of God’s word, they become susceptible to the false teachings of cults or heretical groups. For instance, those who reject Jesus as revealed in God’s word often fall for the false teaching of an unbiblical Jesus. They might get caught up in the angel-like “Jesus” of Jehovah’s Witnesses or the or the false polytheistic “god” Jesus of Mormonism. Those who respond to the word of God in a shallow hearted emotional way often fall prey to the manipulation of those who preach another gospel that focuses on feelings and emotions like the false teachings of the Word of Faith movement. And those who respond in the worldly way of the heart soil filled with thorns that choke the word often find themselves in a false and dead social gospel or materialistic focused group. The point here is that whenever you reject the word of God you set yourself up for false teaching and the deceptive manipulation by the enemy who prowls around like a lion looking to devour the weak stragglers (1 Peter 5:8-9). Cults and false teachers are like the birds that come and snatch the seed from the heart soil of those who do not respond in a genuinely converted way.

Fourth, The Fruitful-Heart-Soil That Shows Enduring Application of God’s Word.

Mark 4:8, 20 - “But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred. . . . But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”  [46]

Herein is the picture of the genuinely converted and saved heart. The heart that is saved receives God’s word in a way that leads to change and fruitful productivity.

The Saving Heart Response

The response of the heart that leads to genuine salvation is described here by Jesus who uses the words,  “hear . . . accept it . . . bear fruit” (or “receives . . . hears . . . understands” - Matthew 13:23a). This in effect is a description of the nature of saving faith; it is a description of the trust response to Jesus. Let’s examine these words more closely.

The word hear (AKOUO - Strong’s #191) means, “to give heed to, to listen to, pay attention to), it is to understand the importance of what is being said or at least show interest in what is being said. The grammatical form of this word also implies a continued hearing, perhaps a concentration on what is being said (Present Tense Greek). 

To acceptis translated form the Greek term PARADECHOMAI (Strong’s # 3858 - paradevcomai paradeáchoámai, par-ad-ekh´-om-ahee) meaning, “to accept near, . . .  delight in . . .  receive.”[47] Again the grammatical form conveys the idea of a continuous ongoing action (Greek Present Tense).

 In Matthew’s account of this verse the word used to describe the reception of the word of God in the good soil is to have, “received(SPAREIS – Strong’s #4687) the seed or word of God. The meaning of this word conveys the thought of something implanted effectively, it has not bounced off the top like on the wayside path, it hasn’t only hit shallow surface soil, and nor has it fell in amongst the cluttered thorny soil.

Additionally, in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ words he is inspired to use the word, understand(SUNION from SUNIEMI Strong’s #4920) which means, “to comprehend, perceive, understand,” it means to literally put things together, the pieces of the salvation puzzle come together for this person.

Now we need to ask, “What does the genuinely converted person hear, accept, receive and understand? The genuinely converted person hears, accepts, receives and understands the “seed” or word of God. They might not understand all the depths of the truth of God and His word from the start, but the point is they grow from the start in their hearing, accepting, receiving and understanding of God’s word. They bear fruit in their heart, mind and lives in this regard.

Genuine conversion is identifiable. The genuinely converted and saved persons, according to Jesus, “bear fruit  (bears fruit and produces” - Matthew 13:23b). The phrase “bear fruit,is one word in the original language (KARPOPHOREO – Strong’s #2592) and means, “to bring forth, bear, be fruitful.” The idea here is an ongoing condition that is a continuous action (Present tense). In Matthew’s account this condition is made emphatic by Jesus who adds, and produces(POIEO – Strong’s #4160; also Present/Active/Indicative), meaning, “do, make, bring forth, show, bear, fulfill,” in an ongoing and continuous basis. The genuinely converted are a growing, ongoing fruit-bearing salvation plant. In other words, the “seed” or word of God is having an affect and is producing spiritual life in them.

But what is it that the genuinely converted produce? What does such fruit look like? When someone is genuinely converted and hears, accepts, receives and understands growingly in the word of God, what signs of this growth are evident? What can we expect to see in such genuinely converted people? 

The Eight Fruit of Genuine Conversion

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus spoke of false teachers who would be ravenous wolves seeking to devour the sheep of God. And then He states:

  • Matthew 7:16-20 - You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”  [48]

Similarly, just as false teachers are known by their fruit, so does fruit reveal the truth or falsehood of conversion. If there’s no fruit, there’s no saving faith. The person who is genuinely saved will not need to be propped up in their faith. If a person is genuinely saved, they won’t have to be coaxed to go to church or read the Bible or pray, they will do it because they have been radically changed, they’ve received new life in Christ and seek to drink from the living water Jesus has given (John 4:13-14; 7:37-39).

The Fruit of Genuine Conversion is Born from Christ the Vine

This good soil heart and the fruit it produces needs to be viewed in light of a personal abiding in Christ. In John’s gospel Jesus says:

  • John 15:2-8 - “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”  [49]

Any fruit that the good-soil-believer bears is because of their dependence upon Jesus. We are not talking about a works-righteousness for no one is saved by his or her good works. The Bible says:

  • Galatians 2:16 - “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”  [50]
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” [51]

Salvation is not a matter of what I do, it is a matter of what God has done in Jesus Christ, the person seeking salvation from sin need only turn and receive salvation as a gift from God by faith. And the faith that saves is not a work we do.

The person who is genuinely saved will bear fruit, they grow in their faith and relationship with God in Christ by the Spirit.  The seed of the word will not return void. That is what God said through the prophet Isaiah when he wrote:

  • Isaiah 55:10-11 - “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” 

That is God’s promise to us, that His word will have an affect on us. God’s word will bring people to a decision. And those who respond like the good heart soil will “bring forth and bud, that is may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” In other words there will be a spiritual impact within the person and through the person to others. That person will themselves bring forth and bud so that more seed (i.e. word of God ministry) and bread will be passed on to others. Gods’ word produces in and through those who receive it. God’s word is fruitful in the hearts of the genuinely converted.

What does this fruit look like? The Bible describes nine fruit of one who is genuinely saved. These fruit are:

  1. The fruit of REPENTANCE – HEART CHANGE.
  2. The fruit of the Spirit – ASSUANCE AND LOVE.
  3. The fruit of RIGHTEOUSNESS - HOLINESS.
  4. The fruit that lasts – LASTING FRUIT.
  5. The fruit of SOUL-WINNING.
  6. The fruit of GIVING.
  7. The fruit of GOOD WORKS.
  8. The fruit of WORSHIP.

Therefore, what does the fruit of true conversion look like? Some of the fruit are primary and essential to salvation, some are secondary and not always present as they should be, but a person can be saved without them (1 Corinthians 3:15). Let’s see what the fruit of genuine conversion looks like.

The First Fruit: The Fruit of Repentance – Heart Change.

  • Matthew 3:8 - “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,”  [52]

Repentance is essential to salvation; repentance is a change of heart. Repentance is turning from your sin to God in Christ for forgiveness of your sin, to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit and eternal life. Repentance takes place in the heart of a person, it is a change of heart. But not everyone who hears the gospel repents, why is that? Why don’t people repent?

“Why should I Repent? “

The problem with much of what is called evangelism in our day is that there is no repentance. The reason there is no repentance is that the gospel is gilded. The gospel is gilded when a sinner is presented with the gospel, (i.e. that salvation comes by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone) before he or she is brought to a knowledge of their sinfulness. When a sinner is offered the gospel before they have been shown their need for a gospel, the logical response is for them to retort, “Why should I repent? Repent from what?”

Decisions made for Christ without the knowledge of sin are likely an emotional “decision” to accept Jesus as their Savior because they have been told He will clean up their life, heal their marriage or finances or some other thing. These things may indeed come to be, but the primary reason for salvation is to save a soul that has sinned and broken God’s Law and is destined to for hell unless they turn to God. Before a person repents they need to be shown their need of repentance.

The Preparatory Work of The Law of God – Showing the Sinner Their Sinfulness

How do we show someone his or her need to repent? God has given us given us a mirror in which to examine ourselves and see where we stand with Him. That mirror is the Law of God. The Law is the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ higher interpretation of it. The Law exposes a sinner as a sinner. A sinner is one who has broken God’s Law.

Let’s return to a passage of scripture mentioned before where Paul wrote this about the use of the Law:

  • 1 Timothy 1:8-11 – “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”  [53]

Paul mentions the “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” right after he speaks of the “lawless and insubordinate.” You see, the gospel does not appear glorious; it doesn’t appear to be good news, unless first the sinner is brought to understand the bad news of his or her state of sin.

In Romans Paul states the Law exposes the sin that is in us, it reveals the utter sinfulness of the sinner. Read what he is inspired to write:

  • Romans 7:7-14 – “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” [54]

The Law of God exposes our sinfulness, reveals our guilt before a Holy God. In this sense the Law of God acts like a hammer on heard hearts and breaks any self-reliance, self-righteousness, or self-deception that one is okay on their own before a Holy God.  

Sin has a consequence. Paul later writes in Romans:

  • Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [55]

The wages of sin,” or the consequences of breaking God’s Law, “is death.” Those who rebel against God, ignore and break His Law have a sentence of death hanging over their heads. Think of it, should they die in their sin without repenting and turning to God; they face an eternity in the scorching fires of hell, a place of dark smoke and aloneness. Hell is not a place where, “I’ll just party with my buddies,” Oh no, hell is a place of fiery torment (see Matthew 5:22; 13:37-42, 49-50; 18:9; Mark 9:43-47; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13; Revelation 19:19-21; 20:14; 21:8). The Law then shuts the mouth of every sinner before God so that they are without excuses before Him (Romans 3:9-20).

The Law of God makes the predicament of the sinner clear. They are stripped naked of all excuses and laid bear before Holy God. Once this preparatory work is done, the sinner is ready to hear the good news of the gospel that God has come down in Christ and paid the penalty for sins so that through faith alone in Christ alone a person can be saved from their sin. Once the predicament of the sinner is established, they have something to be saved from. Without being convicted of one’s sin, a person has no real concept of the gravity of it, the offense they have made before God by breaking His holy Law.

Using The Ten Commandments in Evangelism

We have seen that on e of the biggest problems in evangelism in our day is that people are offered the plan of salvation in a way that does not emphasize the indispensable need for repentance for salvation to occur. We have seen that the Law makes the sinner’s guilt and resultant predicament before God clear and convicting. Practically speaking, the Ten Commandments are a vital tool in the evangelistic process in that they can be used to expose the sinner’s utter sinfulness and guilt before God. How is this accomplished? By referring to the Ten Commandments and showing the sinner how they have transgressed God’s Law, they see clearly that they would be guilty before God on Judgment Day. How should this process of witnessing proceed?

First speak to them about the fragility of life and the inevitability of their appearing before God on Judgment Day. Ask if they have ever considered what will happen after they die. The Bible says that immediately after a person dies; God judges them:

  • Acts 17:30-31 - “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,31 “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  [56]
  • Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” [57]

There is no purgatory or second chances once you die, there is only judgment.

Second, ask the person if they think God would let them into heaven when they die; ask them what they think would happen if they were to come before a just God on Judgment Day. When you ask a person if they think they would be allowed into heaven should they come before God on Judgment Day, they are likely to give a host of affirmative answers based on rationalizations, ill-conceived notions, outright falsehoods and presumptive reasoning. They may say they’ve done their best or done a lot of good deeds, and God will understand. They might say they are a “good person,” or that they aren’t as bad as some other person. But to say that would lead to the acquittal of almost all people. For instance, a murderer could say, “Well, I might have killed those people, but at least I’m not as bad as Jeffrey Dalmer.” But by this reasoning Jeffrey Dalmer could say,  “Yes, I tortured and killed those people, but at least I‘m not as bad as Hitler.” And Hitler could say he’s not as bad as Stalin and so forth. We could use this reasoning with all sin to almost always find someone who is worse than us. But, God does not judge people in comparison or contrast to other people, He judges people according to His Law.

Third, point out to the sinner that God will not and cannot overlook sin because He is just and holy and will rightly assess punishment for sin. Some say God is loving and a loving God would never send them to hell.  But none of these are good enough to get a person eternal life and access into God’s heaven.  People don’t understand that while it is true that God is loving, it is just as true that God is holy and just.

 If Osama Ben Laden was captured and brought before a human court and it was proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he was guilty of being responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks, and if once that was proved the judge said, “You know, I’m a loving judge and though all those innocent people died so terribly, I kind of like Osama and I can’t see putting him in jail let alone sentencing him to death, so I’m just going to let him go.” Now if an earthly judge did that the world would be appalled at the injustice of such a decision, yet that is the view many sinners have of God. A person may have broken all of God’s commandments over and over again, and yet they think He will simply overlook that. If He were to do such a thing, He would cease to be a just or holy God. Because God is just, there must be a penalty paid for sin. The Bible says,

  • Exodus 34:6-7a – “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,7 “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, . . .”  [58]
  • Psalm 9:16 – “The Lord is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah”  [59]
  • Psalm 89:14 – “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.”  [60]
  • Psalm 96:10,13 – “Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” . . .13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.”  [61]
  • Romans 2:4-9 – “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;”  [62]

God who is just, cannot simply overlook sin, there must be a just and righteous accounting for sin.

Fourth, point out the sinner’s utter sinfulness based on breaking God’s Law (e.g. Ten Commandments). It is only when they are brought before the Law of God that they come to realize their guilt before a holy God. This guilt is easily exposed by referring to the Ten Commandments.

The first commandment states, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). How do we know who or what is our “God”? Your God is your master passion, the thing or person you give top priority to over everything else in your life. The first commandment tells us that we are to put God first. When the sinner is asked if they have put God first, if they have been cultivating a primary relationship with God most will be exposed for not even thinking of Him. Strike one. How about you, is God first in your life? Is He the first thing you think about when you rise, the guiding Person throughout your day, and the One you commit your dreams to? Is God the one you live for? Is God indeed first in your life?

The second commandment states, “You shall not make yourself any graven image” (Exodus 20:4-6) We may not have little idols in our homes, (although some people do), but people have a penchant for making a god in their own image; they have an image of a god that they are comfortable with, but that has no basis in truth. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and any view of Him must be based on the Bible. If they have a view of God that is loving but unjust they have a faulty view of God and have made a graven image of God. Strike two. What does your “God” look like? It your view of God based on the revelation of His word, or on your opinions or someone else’s opinions?

The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). So often people stoop to use the name of God like a profane four letter curse word and that is breaking the third commandment. Strike three.

The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath” (Exodus 20:8-10). While Christians are not required to keep the Sabbath, a holy day of rest is one of God’s stipulations for those outside of Christ. Few if any have kept this commandment. Do you live to work or work to live? Do you shut God out of your life and have no time for Him because all you do is work, work, and work? If that is the case, you’ve likely broken the fourth commandment. Strike four.

The fifth commandment is, “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). In our day and age few children have honored their parents and none have not at least once dishonored or disagreed with them. How do you treat your parents, even if you’re married and out of the home? Strike five.

The sixth commandment is, “You shall not murder,” (Exodus 20:13). Few have murdered a person physically, but Jesus said that if you even get angry with someone it is like you have killed them in your heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Gotten angry with anyone lately? Strike six.

The seventh commandment is, “You shall not commit adultery,” (Exodus 20:14). Many might say, “Oh, I would never do that.” But what they don’t understand is that Jesus said if we even have a lustful thought, we are guilty of adultery (Matthew 5:27-30). Had any lustful thoughts lately? Your eye might catch a beautiful woman or handsome man, but did you take that observation to the point of fantasy?  Strike seven.

The eighth commandment is, “You shall not steal,” (Exodus 20:15). Many think that because they haven’t stolen anything they feel is “big,” that they are clear on this one. But stealing involves anything, a paperclip, a piece of gum, a pencil, anything. If you’ve stolen anything, you’re a thief as far as God is concerned. Working off the books? Borrowed anything indefinitely? Strike eight.

The ninth commandment states, “You shall not lie,” (Exodus 20:16). Again, it isn’t the size of the lie; it’s whether or not a person has ever lied. If a person has ever lied, He sees them as a liar. Ever told a lie about your age? Your weight? How much money you make? Strike nine.

The tenth commandment is, “You shall not covet,” (Exodus 20:17). To covet is to want more of something you already have enough of; in our society you would be hard pressed to find someone not guilty of this law. We are an envious and jealous people. Why do you want those extra pair of shoes? That new set of golf clubs? That new article of clothing? Strike ten.

Fifth, bring the person to the realistic conclusion of their guilt before God based on breaking His Law and the consequence of this sin, hell. Sin is breaking God’s law. John writes in this regard:

  • 1 John 3:4 – “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”  [63]

Now the person you are witnessing to needs to be made aware that it only takes one broken commandment to doom them. God’s word says:

  • Galatians 3:10 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”   [64]
  • James 2:10 – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  [65]

The Law is like a chain of links that holds the sinner on one end with the other anchored in holy heaven. If each commandment is represented by a link it only takes breaking one link for the sinner to fall into hell. Those who break even one of the commandments of God in their lives are guilty before God and doomed to hell with a curse. Now when the sinner is asked if they came before God’s judgment seat would they be guilty or not guilty, they will have to admit, “I would be guilty.”

Guilty and on their own before God, sinners see they are destined for hell. This is what the Bible states:

  • Romans 2:8-9 – “but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;”  [66]

Once the sinner sees himself or herself as a sinner guilty before a Just God, they are now ready to hear the good news of the Gospel.

The Law Brings Sinners to Christ

Now that the bad news of guilt before God has been clarified to the sinner, now that their need of a Savior is apparent, tell them the good news offered in Christ. The Law reveals the reality of the bad news of the curse to the sinner. But this is right where the sinner needs to be. John Wesley used to say:

“Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, Law, and judgment.”[67]

Once the sinner has been led to the point where he or she realizes they are under the curse of the Law, they are ready to be led to Christ. Before a sinner can be introduced to Christ, they must see their need of a Savior. This is the role of the Law, to lead the sinner to Christ.

In Galatians it states:

  • Galatians 3:10-13 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),”  [68]
  • Galatians 3:24 – “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”  [69]

The Fruit of Repentance - Turning From Sin to Christ ; A Change of Heart

Repentance, turning from one’s sins to God in Christ, is necessary for salvation to occur and is part of saving faith. The faith that saves involves repentance. Repentance means a change of heart. The word “repent” is translated from the Greek term METANOEO (Strong’s # 3340-metanoevw meátanoáeáoµ, met-an--eh´-o) which means, “to think differently . . .  reconsider . . .  repent.” [70]This is all a product of God’s grace working in us (Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:8-9). Read how repentance is part of salvation:

  • Acts 2:37-38 – “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  [71]
  • Acts 3:19 - “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”  [72]
  • Acts 11:18 – “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”  [73]
  • 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 – “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”  [74]
  • 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”  [75]

The Good News of the Gospel

The good news is that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross as a curse for our sins. This is Who the repentant sinner turns to, we repent when we turn to Jesus, trust Him and receive the gift of saving forgiveness of our sins. The sinner, who has been shown their need, is ready to see the love and generosity of God Who sent His Son Jesus to die for the sins of the world. Now the sinner has something to be grateful for; now they see why they need to repent. Read the following verses depicting this:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 - “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,”  [76] (See  also Romans 3:20-26; 5:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [77]
  • Titus 2:11-15 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”  [78] (See also 1 Peter 2:23-25; 1 John  2:2)
  • 2 Corinthians 9:15 – “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  [79]

The fruit of repentance is the first fruit and indispensable of a genuinely saved person because all other fruit hinges on this fruit.

The Second Fruit: The Fruit of the Spirit – Assurance & Love

The second fruit is the product of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the genuinely saved person. What happens when the Spirit comes into a person’s life?

First, the fruit of the genuinely saved is the presence and regenerative work of the Spirit in them. When a person repents putting their faith in Christ for forgiveness of sin, they are born again and the Holy Spirit comes to reside within them to give them spiritual life. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 3:5 – “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  [80]
  • Titus 3:5 – “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,”  [81]

Indeed in His word the Lord tells us that the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person is the evidence of belonging to the Lord or being genuinely converted. If you don’t have the Spirit in you, you aren’t saved. In Romans it states this saying:

  • Romans 8:9-17 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  [82]

When a person puts their faith in Jesus and repents, they are filled by God with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in you is the presence of God in you because  the Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3,4). It is the Holy Spirit who gives the repentant believer spiritual life regenerating them. But how do I know if the Spirit is in me?

Second, the fruit of the genuinely saved who are filled with the Holy Spirit is an assurance of salvation based on faith in Christ. Many people, when asked if they were to die would they go to heaven, will hem and haw and be uncertain of their standing with God. It doesn’t have to be that way; the Holy Spirit present in a person gives an assurance of eternal life because they have the presence of God, they are in a saving real relationship with God in Christ by the Spirit.  This is seen in the following verses:

  • Romans 8:15-16 – “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”  [83]
  • 1 John 3:24 – “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”  [84]

·         1 John 4:13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”  [85]

The fruit of the Spirit is assurance of salvation and this is evidence of genuine conversion.

Third, the fruit of the genuinely saved who are filled with the Spirit  is the love of the Spirit. When this regenerative work occurs and the Spirit comes into the heart of a genuinely converted person, He brings with Him the fruitful evidence of God’s love. Love is the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person. The Bible states this in Romans where it is written:

  • Romans 5:5 – “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” [86]

This love is from God and is the truest evidence of a person’s genuine salvation. It is this love working in and through us that enables us to fulfill the Law that once condemned us, (and therefore the Law is not for the righteous – 1 Timothy 1:9). As Paul wrote again:

  • Romans 13:10 – “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  [87]

The love, which is the fruit of the Spirit, is described in the inspired letter of Paul to the Galatians where it states:

  • Galatians 5:22-24 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  [88]

Now, it is this teacher’s opinion that since the term “fruit” is in the singular form in the original language (Nominative/Singular/Masculine), that the fruit of the Spirit is therefore singularly love, and the words that follow it in Galatians 5:22-23 are adjectives that describe that love.

 Love never fails and is the most important fruit in the life of the believer. A believer is nothing without God’s love coursing through their spiritual veins.

Indeed, without God’s love working in and through us, no matter what we do, it will be worthless. Read one of the most beautiful portions of Scripture that shows the import of love:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  [89]

Love never fails, but without love we always fail. The greatest of all fruit of the genuinely saved is the fruit of love.

Fourth, this love of the Spirit and assurance of the Spirit are closely connected. We see this when the apostle John is inspired to write:

  • 1 John 4:17-18 – “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”  [90]

While the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is an indispensable evidence of genuine conversion, the presence of the Spirit does not always lead to complete assurance of salvation in all genuinely saved believers. Some believers doubt their salvation. They doubt on the basis of feelings. The cure for such cases is to remember that salvation is a matter of faith not feelings. We walk by faith not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). The verses from John’s first epistle speak about love that is “perfected” which means love that has come to maturity. Sometimes people take time to grow into this kind of love. But the key word here is grow. As you walk in the Spirit and grow in His love, you will also come to the point where you have that full assurance of your salvation. The purely religious person is held at bay from such assurance by those in control of the religion who want to hold rule over and influence their congregants. Those who rely on good works to save them can never be sure that what they do is ever enough to save them. No, love is perfected in a person who has the Holy Spirit inside them and who grows in their relationship with the Lord to the extent they learn to trust or believe God and His word which reveals the truth that it is possible to have assurance of your salvation.

The Third Fruit: The Fruit of Righteousness - Holiness.

We have seen already that any fruit that is born in the genuinely saved comes from an abiding saving relationship with Jesus (John 15). There is a fruit of righteousness that speaks of one’s standing before God in Christ. Paul was inspired to write:

  • Philippians 1:11 – “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  [91]

The one who is saved is made righteous on the basis of their standing in Christ. Paul states:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [92]

We are not righteous based on anything we do; we are righteous based upon what Jesus has done. When a person genuinely receives such righteousness in Christ, their lives are changed; there is an effect of such righteousness in a person’s life.

The fruit we talk about in this section of the study flows from our righteous standing in Jesus. In Romans it tells us to actually clothe ourselves with the righteousness of Jesus:

  • Romans 13:12-14 – “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.”  [93]

By the power of the Spirit working in us, we are to put on Christ, walk in His steps and follow Him (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6). The fruit of righteousness is a holy life.

The one who has been genuinely saved, who has been declared righteous through faith in Christ, bears holy fruit in their lives. In Romans Paul is inspired to point this out saying:

  • Romans 6:15-23 – “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [94]

Now notice what Paul teaches us here particularly in Romans 6:15-23. He reminds us that salvation is a gift of God’s grace, but says that is no excuse to indulge in sin or to live according to the lusts of our flesh (Romans 6:15, 23). By faith we present our selves to God to obey Him from the heart which is in line with the way a righteous life should be lived (Romans 6:16-18). The fruit of this righteous standing in Christ is holiness (Romans 6:19-23).

What is “holiness”? the word “holiness” is translated fro the Greek term HAGIASMOS (Strong’s # 38 - aJgiasmov" hagiasmoás, hag-ee-as-mos´) which means, “purification, i.e. (the state) purity;. . .  holiness, sanctification.” [95] Holiness is loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Holiness is putting God first in your life. Holiness is living for God. Holiness is growing in your relationship with God in Christ by the Spirit. Holiness is separating yourself from those things that hinder your walk with God. Holiness is separating yourself apart to God so He can use you as He sees fit. 

You see Romans 1-3 points out that all humanity falls short of God’s glorious standard of righteousness and has sinned and is therefore doomed to be eternally separate from God in hell. But in Romans 3 through 5 Paul teaches us that God has lovingly provided a solution to our sinful separation problem. By His grace or simply by His loving giving nature, God has sent Jesus to die for us to pay our debt of sin and that when a person puts their faith in Jesus trusting in Him and His work as the basis for their forgiveness from God, they are justified and saved from their sin. Romans 6 teaches us about the appropriate way to live once we are saved. Romans 7 teaches us that we can’t live a holy life in our own strength. Romans 8 teaches us fantastically that the Holy Spirit helps our weaknesses and enables and empowers us to live that holy live in the Spirit. Growing in holiness is a fruit of the genuinely saved.

The Fourth Fruit: The Fruit That Lasts

The fruit of the genuinely converted is lasting. Those who are genuinely saved and converted persevere in their saving relationship with God in Christ. If a person does not persevere, it is doubtful they were ever genuinely converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus says later in Mark:

  • Mark 13:13 - “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”  [96] (Matthew 10:22)

If you are genuinely saved, you will persevere to the end, no matter what. Perseverance is the proof of genuine conversion.

The Lasting Fruit In The Genuinely Saved

Jesus spoke of this when He said:

  • John 8:31 – “ Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” [97]

The term “abide” (MENO – Strong’s #3306) means, “abide, remain, dwell, continue, tarry, and endure.” [98] There is a lasting and enduring quality to the life of the genuinely saved. The genuinely saved has a faith that will not whither in times of trial (Matthew 13:21), nor will it be choked off by the cares of this world (Matthew 13:22), it will endure, steadfast to the end,   (Matthew 10:22). This truth is further supported by the inspired words of the following verses:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  [99]
  • Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  [100]
  • 2 Timothy 1:12 – “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  [101]

Notice that perseverance is not a work of the saint but a work of God in the saint. The truly and genuinely converted person will persevere for God is at work in them.

The Lasting Fruit By The Genuinely Saved

This enduring fruit is not only seen in the life of the genuinely saved, but the work done by the genuinely saved has an eternal quality to it. Jesus said:

  • John 15:16 - “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”  [102]

The reason for the eternal nature of the fruitful work of the genuinely saved is because the genuinely saved person has eternity in view as a priority. We see this in the inspired words of Paul who stated:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”  [103]

The genuinely converted have enduring fruit in them and the work done by them endures as well.

The Fifth  Fruit: The Fruit of Soul-Winning.

The fifth fruit is the fruit of soul winning or a burden for the lost. We see this in Romans where it states:

  • Romans 1:13-17 – “Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.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.”   [104]

The context of these above verses indicates that Paul saw fruitfulness associated with preaching and sharing the gospel.  The person who is genuinely saved is so grateful for their salvation that they want to share the good news with others who have yet to be saved. It has been said of the flock of God, healthy sheep reproduce. The person who is genuinely saved will desire for the lost to be saved just like he or she has been. They will avail themselves and surrender to God to be used to this end in any way. It may be through prayer, witness, service, or giving, but the genuinely saved person has a burden for the lost souls of humankind.

As far as God is concerned, if there is a “star” on His team, it apparently are those who make themselves available to save lost souls. In the book of Daniel it states:

  • Daniel 12:3 – “Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.”  [105]

Jesus emphasized soul winning as a primary purpose of the disciple when He said:

  • Mark 1:17 – “Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  [106]

Soul winning is of utmost importance because the eternal destiny of people hangs in the balance in regards to whether or not their souls are won or lost to eternal life in Christ. In James it states:

  • James 5:20 – “let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  [107]

That “death” James speaks of is eternal death and refers to hell, a place of fire, blackness, darkness, torment (Matthew 5:22; 18:8-9; 25:46; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13; Revelation 19:19-21; 20:14; 21:8).

The Sixth Fruit: The Fruit of Giving

One of the most telling fruit of the genuinely saved is the fruit of giving mentioned by Paul in the book of Romans where it states:

  • Romans 15:26-28 – “For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.”  [108]

Paul is speaking of a monetary contribution made by the church in Macedonia and Achaia to the church in Jerusalem. He mentions this to spur on the Corinthians to do likewise. How you spend your money is very often an indicator of where you stand with God. If you are genuinely saved and you realize you have been bought at a very high price, the blood of Jesus. The Bible says:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  [109]

When God bought you, He bought the entire package, that includes the right to direct where and how you would spend the money He blesses you with. A genuinely saved person who has a fertile heart for the seed of God’s word, is a person who always thanks God for his or her income and asks, “Lord, how would you have me spend this money You have blessed me with?”

Tithing

Some believe that the Christian is not bound by the “tithe” (literally “a tenth”). Some believe that because the Law is meant to lead a person to Christ that once a person becomes a Christian they are no longer bound to give a tenth because they are no longer under the Law. But such reasoning is faulty because the tithe as a measure of giving to God predates the Law by some 400 years! Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek (who was likely a Christophany or preincarnate appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament – see Hebrews 7 and 8).

In Genesis we see that after Abraham had successfully delivered his nephew Lot from a confederacy of kings, upon his return he encounters the king-priest of Salem (literally “king of Peace”). King Melchizedek, priest of “God Most High” pronounces a blessing on Abraham and Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth:

  • Genesis 14:18-20 – “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.19 And he blessed him and said: 1 “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.”  [110]

If Abraham tithed before the Law, why do we think that we who are not under the Law are free from tithing? What did Jesus teach about the tithe?

When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees about their greedy extortion tactics with people He pointed out that the tithe should not be neglected:

  • Matthew 23:23 - “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”  [111]

A Giving Attitude

Now if we take these verses to heart and do give a tenth of our income to God, understand that is only the beginning. If we give a tenth of our income and do not give it cheerfully, it profits us nothing. And giving a tithe does not imply that God only cares about the first tenth of our income and then gives us license to use the other 90% as we please, He wants us to be good stewards of all that He blesses us with. Read what Paul is inspired to say about this:

  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.9 As it is written: 1 “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” [112]

We need to give “cheerfully” understanding that God will supply for our needs. It is a blessed privilege to be used by God in our giving to spread the gospel of His glory. Giving is a great fruit of the genuinely saved.

The Seventh Fruit: The Fruit of Good Works.

There is a general fruit, which characterizes the genuinely saved, and it is mentioned in the letter to the Colossians where it is written:

  • Colossians 1:10 – “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”  [113] (See also Ephesians 2:10)

Good works are like fresh summer fruit on the kitchen table of the world. You walk into the room and you can’t ignore the tasty aroma. You just have to check it out. When we do good works, it raises the interest of the unsaved who seek to know why we do what we do and how we do what we do. The fruit of good works paves the way to sharing the gospel.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

  • Matthew 5:13-16 - “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  [114]

Our good works, done in the Spirit’s power, bring glory to God. Therefore, we see that elsewhere in the New Testament Peter stated:

  • 1 Peter 3:15-16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”  [115]

Good works legitimize disciples in the unsaved world and serve to open doors of ministry to the lost. But best of all, good works bring glory to God.

The Eighth Fruit: The Fruit of Worship

The person who is genuinely saved will be so thankful for the gift of salvation that they will overflow with worship. The eighth fruit is the fruit of worship. In Hebrews it states:

 

  • Hebrews 13:15 – “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”  [116]

When a person is genuinely saved, they just can’t help but praise and worship God in Spirit and truth. In the gospel of John it states:

  • John 4:23-24 - “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”   [117]

Based on what Jesus said in John’s gospel we see that this is a particularly delicious fruit for the Lord to find in the genuinely saved. To a great extent the life of the genuinely saved is a life of worship. Think about this, we will be spending the better part of eternity worshipping God in heaven. It would be good to start practicing now! The genuinely saved will do so.

Primary and Secondary Fruit

When we look at this fruit of the genuinely saved we may become a bit overwhelmed thinking, “Wow, that fruit is not in me, am I genuinely saved?” I would respond to that question by saying that some of the nine fruit are primary in that they are indispensable to salvation. Some of the fruit are secondary in that they are not essential to salvation, but the lack of them nevertheless indicates a serious spiritual illness.

Those fruit which are primary and essential for salvation would be as follows. The fruit of repentance is essential for salvation for one cannot be saved unless they turn to God in Christ for forgiveness of their sins. The fruit of the Spirit, (evidenced by assurance and love), is primary and essential in the sense that without the Spirit of God in you do not belong to Him (Romans 8:9-11). If the Spirit is in you, the Spirit’s love will be in you too (Romans 5:5). The fruit of righteousness is essential in that one must rely on Jesus for righteousness (not one’s own works – Ephesians 2:8-9). The fruit of righteousness is a holy effect on the believer’s life. Finally, fruit that is lasting is primary and essential to salvation in that it is the one who endures to the end that is saved (Matthew 10:22). If you don’t endure to the end, you aren’t saved. These four fruit are necessary for salvation.

Those fruit which are secondary and not essential for salvation begin with considering the holiness aspect of some believers. Some believers are carnal and will make it to heaven by the skin of their teeth or as Paul put it, as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:1-17). We are righteous in Christ before God and that righteous standing should move us to live a holy life and grow closer and closer to Him. There is a holiness we have in Christ based on His provision. But there is also a practical holiness that the believer lives out in the Spirit in life. The holiness based on Christ’s provision is indispensable to being genuinely saved; without it we will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14-15). But practical holiness is something that is growing and ongoing (2 Peter 3:18). The growth of holiness in life is therefore something that is a fruit that only God can gauge by looking at the heart. Our aim should always be to grow closer to Jesus in every aspect of our lives. A genuinely saved person will always have that attitude.

The fruit of soul winning, giving, good works, and worship while if absent in a believer indicate a serious spiritual ailment, are not essential to salvation. The healthy believer will be budding and flowering with the secondary fruit. The sick and spiritually weak will be lacking in these five secondary fruit.

The idea is not to neglect any of the fruit but to seek the Spirit’s work in you to see that you bear all the fruit in abundance. May we all be a fruitful garden for the Lord (see Song of Solomon 4:12-16).

Not everyone who hears God’s word responds to it in a saving way. Based on this parable, it is likely that one out of four will be genuinely saved who hear God’s word.  We can determine the genuinely saved from the artificially saved by the fruit they bear:

 

·         The First Fruit: The Fruit of Repentance – Heart Change
  • The Second Fruit: The Fruit of the Spirit – Assurance and Love
  • The Third Fruit: The Fruit of Righteousness - Holiness
  • The Fourth Fruit:  The Fruit That Lasts
  • The Fifth Fruit: The Fruit of Soul Winning
  • The Sixth Fruit: The Fruit of Giving
  • The Seventh Fruit: The Fruit of Good Works
  • The Eighth Fruit: The Fruit of Worship

 

Now its’ time for some fruit inspection.

 

MARK  THAT ACTION – Do Some Fruit Inspection

 

We need to do some fruit inspection in our lives. Have we simply recited some words and presumed we are saved? Are we relying on a magical approach to God? Or have we genuinely put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior resulting in a personal, intimate, abiding, fruitful saving relationship with Him? Jesus said not everyone who uses His name knows Him (Matthew 7:21-27). Maybe you have been struck by this teaching of Jesus. What kind of soil is your heart? Have you been proceeding under a false assumption of your conversion? If so, waste no time in getting right with God. Read the inspired words of Paul and take them to heart:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 – “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”  [118]

 If we are genuinely saved, let us be sowers of God’s word and pray that the seed of the word that is sown will find good hearted soil that will lead to people who grow up to be fruitful in Christ. My prayer for you is that Paul’s inspired words in Colossians 2 come true for you where he wrote:

 

  • Colossians 2:6-7 – “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”  [119]

May you abide in Christ and may your spiritual roots go down deep, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Parable of the Revealing Light

 

Mark 4:21-25 – “Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?22 “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”24 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.25 “For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”  [120]

With these words Jesus illustrates the importance of responding to the light which comes from His clear teaching in the parables. Jesus warns against disregarding the light He gives (4:21). You don’t take a light and cover it with a basket or put it under the bed. That is what some people try to do though. They think that ignorance is bliss; if they don’t hear, they are not responsible. But this is a sinful response that Jesus says will “come to light” (4:22). Instead we should listen up and use the ears God has given us (4:23). And Jesus wants us to understand that we should be careful about what we hear, (or chose to hear and not hear) because those who respond eagerly and openly to Jesus will be given more and more to digest and learn from. But to those who chose not to hear, even the little they have heard will be taken from them or will prove ineffective to their souls (4:24-25).

MARK THAT ACTION – Jesus urges us to receive the light of His gospel and warns if we don’t what little light we have will be removed. We need to receive and walk in the light of His word. The Lord uses “Light” to illustrate and characterize His nature, word, wisdom and favor as we see in the following verses:

  • 1 John 1:5 – “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
  • Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”
  • Daniel 2:21-22 – “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.”

Mark that action, receive and walk in His light.

The Parable of Growth

Mark 4:26-29 – “And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,27 “and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.28 “For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.29 “But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” [121]

This is Mark’s only unique parable. Jesus here teaches again on the Kingdom of God (first mentioned in Mark’s gospel in Mark 1:14-15). The one primary attribute of God’s kingdom emphasized in this parable by Jesus is growth. That which is associated with the Kingdom of God grows, i.e., there is life to it and change. This growth comes from the scattering of the “seed” which Jesus has already associated with being “the word” of God (4:14). The only responsibility here for the “man” is to “scatter the seed on the ground.” “The ground,” we have already seen represents the hearts of people. That is our task, to spread the word of God in the power of the Spirit.

Growth comes from God’s work in us.

These words of Jesus tell us spiritual growth in a believer is something the Lord does. Jesus says,  “. . . the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. “For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head . . .” (4:27b-28), in other words, we can’t even explain how fruit is produced by God’s ministry of the word in people, but it works.  Jesus says that the seed spreader sleeps and goes about his business and the seed grows. The man doesn’t know how it grows, but it does.

That is how it is with us too. In evangelism, we share God’s word and trust for God to implant it in people’s hearts. The only other thing left for those who have spread the seed to do, is to wait on the Lord and put in the sickle and harvest the produce of the seed when it is ripe (4:28). When we are converted and genuinely saved, we prayerfully take in God’s word and it is used by God to build us up spiritually. We are totally unaware of how God works in people’s hearts with His word, but He does (4:27-28). This points to the truth that salvation and sanctification in Jesus  is something God does, not people. Saving faith is not a work of human beings; we are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). And our walk in the Spirit is a work of God’s grace in us too. Two portions of Scripture that come to mind here are:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
  • Philippians 2:12-13 – “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

We have seen that the parables of Jesus in this chapter point to spiritual growth  as the key indicator of the one who is genuinely saved. That doesn’t mean we are saved by grace and then kept by our work. It means we are saved and sanctified by the grace of God; it is always God’s grace working in us that makes the difference in our lives. We grow spiritually as a result of God’s gracious provision and work in us.

The Growth of God’s Kingdom in You

The Kingdom of God is a living and life-giving gift of God’s grace (Luke 22:29). It is spiritual now and takes place in the hearts of people. In the future it will be literally established upon the earth (Revelation 20). Citizens of God’s kingdom have entered an eternal spiritual life with God who is Ruler in their hearts. We need to know the following about God’s Kingdom.

  1. You can’t be “born into” God’s Kingdom but must be “born again into” God’s Kingdom. You must be born of the Spirit and have the Spirit in you to be a part of this Kingdom (John 3:1-8; Mark 1:14-15).
  2. Citizens of God’s Kingdom have the Holy Spirit ruling in their heart (Romans 14:17).
  3. Citizens of God’s Kingdom walk worthy of their citizenship (1 Thessalonians 2:12):

a.) They pray for the Kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10).

b.) They make the Kingdom a priority in their lives (Matthew 6:33).

c.) They share the Kingdom with others (Acts 8:12).

d.) They persevere through trials to enter the Kingdom (Acts 14:22).

e.) They live holy fruitful lives (2 Peter 1:5-11).

f.) They work together with other citizens for the kingdom (Colossians 4:11).

In all of these things we see the growth and change that is experienced by those who have God ruling in their hearts.

MARK THAT ACTION – Jesus calls us and exhorts us to grow in the Lord and we need to grow in our relationship with Jesus in the Spirit. As we have already seen, genuine salvation is evidenced by spiritual growth and change. Peter exhorted his readers to grow in God’s grace saying:

  • 2 Peter 3:17-18 – “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” 

We need to grow in our relationship with God in Christ by His grace in the power and work of the Holy Spirit within us.

The Parable of Abnormal Growth

Mark 4:30-32 – “Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth;32 “but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”  [122]

Not all growth is good growth. Cancer is cell growth gone wild. Cancer kills. In the same way not all growth of God’s kingdom is good and of Him. The people of Jesus’ day had their own herb gardens in which the mustard plant was usually the biggest. The mustard seed is “the least of all the seeds,” yet it grows large. But Jesus speaks of it growing “large branches.” Matthew’s account states it grows into a tree (Matthew 13:32). Even a large mustard plant could not be called a tree. Jesus is speaking of abnormal growth as a characteristic of the church.

Abnormal Church Growth

Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comment on this parable:

      Jesus in this parable is going to speak of an abnormal growth of the church which would become a haven for all kinds of things to lodge within its branches. It is interesting to note the message of Jesus to the churches in Revelation chapters two and three, for at this early period of church history, before the end of the first century, the church had already, for the most part, become corrupt. He was threatening to remove His presence from it, He was threatening to spew it out of His mouth. He was calling on them to repent because of the various things that they had allowed within the church, the doctrines that they allowed within the church and He was rebuking them over and over, calling on them to repent. As we look at church history, we see that the real abnormal growth of the church began under Constantine when he joined the church and the state together and made a state religion and adopted all of the Pagan festivals, Christianized them, making them concurrent with certain Christian events, but picking up from Paganism and sort of making a combination of the whole thing. And the church grew in an abnormal way. But all kinds of birds were lodged in the branches, and such is true today.”  [123]

Growth for the sake of growth is like cancer. When the church was persecuted it grew. When through political workings the church was enlarged by Constantine with the Edict of Toleration, all sorts of compromises and false teachings poured into the church.

“The Birds of the Air”

The “birds of the air” are agents of evil who “came an devoured” the seed as seen in the parallel use of them in the parable of the Sower (Mark 4:4). Therefore, to maintain literary constancy, it is likely that “the birds” in the parable of the Mustard Seed represent evil as well.  Jesus used the birds to symbolize agents of the ”wicked one,” or the devil (Matthew 13:4.19). This speaks of the false teachers who undermine the faith of people by way of liberalism and false teaching. The proud presumption of such liberal “scholars” is evidenced in an excerpt from an article about the Jesus Seminar, which states:

FORT WORTH -- After declaring that Jesus was not born of a virgin and that many biblical reports of his life were conjured by early Christians, the Jesus Seminar is taking on God.

The small band of religion specialists often criticized by even established scholars for their iconoclastic statements on Jesus will vote on whether God is all-powerful, whether he intervenes in the affairs of humans and, more radically, whether God even exists.

"We are opening up a new phase of the seminar," said the group's founder, Robert Funk, director of the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, Calif. "We are discussing the future of God, so to speak." [124]

Such is the height of pomposity and pride. To think that one has the right let alone the wherewithal to determine the existence of God is blasphemy in the highest! These are the birds who seek to pluck the seed from people’s souls before they can implant and these are the birds perching themselves in the confines of “Christianity.” These are the birds which aim to pluck the seed of Gods’ word from the Church so that it ceases to be built on the firm foundation of the word of Jesus (Matthew 7:21-24).

Studying the Seed of the Word

In these parables we see Jesus uses “the seed” to illustrate how the word of God is used. It’s interesting and important to see that Jesus chose “the seed” to illustrate how God produces eternal life in a person. When we look at God’s word we see that it is vitally important that we study the seed of God’s word.

Why study the Bible? The Bible gives us many reasons for studying it, but here are a just three:

First, new believers need a steady diet of God’s word to grow in their faith. The apostle Peter was inspired to write:

  • 1 Peter 2:2 – “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” [1]

God’s word is filled with all of the spiritual nutrients necessary for spiritual nurture and growth. The new believer needs to study God’s word so that they know what and why they believe and have been born again. Feeding on God’s word equips the believer to move in to a life of discipleship where they share God’s word with others. Therefore, God’s word is essential to spiritual growth from the onset of life in Christ to the sunset of life on earth.

Second, studying God’s word gives the disciple skill and discernment in ministry. As the disciple studies God’s word he or she becomes equipped to minister and be used by God to further His kingdom plan. The Bible instructs us that the disciple should not only familiarize themselves with the entry-level truths of repentance, faith, salvation, etc., but that the disciple should broaden their understanding of God’s will by feeding on the full counsel of God’s word.

When Paul was saying farewell to the Ephesians church he reminded them of how he had taught them the “whole counsel of God”:

  • Acts 20:26-28 -  “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.27 “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  [2]

Paul, in his letter to pastor Timothy expressed the importance of being an ongoing student of God’s word when he was inspired to state:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  [3]
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [4]

The Bible is a manual for life. God made humankind and gave us an instruction manual so that we would know how to get the most out of life on earth as well as be prepared to live life eternally. God’s word equips us for life. God’s word tells us what is really important in life, what the purpose of life is. In Hebrews the full study of God’s word is likened to moving from milk to the meat of God’s word and is the means by which the disciple is prepared and equipped to guard against falsehoods:

  • Hebrews 5:12-14 – “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  [5]

The implication here is that if the recipients, to which the letter of Hebrews was written, had studied and taken to heart God’s word, they would be better prepared and skilled, “exercised,” for ministry. This leads us to the final statement about why we should study God’s word.

Third, studying the Word of God prepares the disciple against falsehoods, fallacies, and fakeries. In Paul’s inspired letter to the Colossians he warns them against heretical teachings that diminish the deity of Jesus Christ and that rely on human tradition and worldly philosophy as their foundation. In this letter Paul exhorts believers to grow in their relationship with Jesus and one of the primary means this is accomplished is by the application of God’s word by the Spirit to their lives. Paul states:

  • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  [6]

If we are to grow in our relationship with Jesus and be protected against the evil influence of aberrant teachings, we need to be students of God’s word.

An unknown author has given this description of God’s word and its importance to spiritual life and growth:

“This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldiers sword, and the Christian’s charter. Christ is its subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.” – Author Unknown

We need to study God’s word in order to grow in our relationship with the Lord as well as to see the abnormal or cancerous growth around us. Study the seed of God’s word!

MARK THAT ACTION – We need to grow spiritually so that we can discern normal from abnormal growth in the church. This we do as we study God’s word diligently and allow the Spirit to equip us with discernment.

The Importance of Parables

Mark 4:33-34 – “And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it.34 But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.”  [125]

Jesus didn’t read textbooks of material to people or speak in a dry dead way to people. He spoke and taught in a way that they would be able to relate to and understand. Jesus put revelation truth in a way that common people would be able to understand and therefore that they would be able to receive. Jesus “explained all things” to His disciples, to those willing and interested in understanding Him. Are you willing and interested in understanding the truth about Jesus and the truth of Jesus? Jesus wants you to understand His truth and be changed by it. Won’t you receive His clear word into your heart now?

Receiving Edifying Revelation from God

 

Do you want to receive revelation from God? Do you want to get something out of God’s word and have it blossom in you? Most people would say “yes” to such questions. When we refer to receiving revelation from God we are not talking about a new inspired writing to be added to the 66 book canon of Scripture!   What we are referring to is God’s edifying disclosure, unveiling, clarifying, illuminating the Scriptures He has already given to us. In Revelation 1 we observe evidence related to WHO receives revelation and HOW such revelation is received. Let’s take a short detour there and consider what God tells us in His word about receiving from His word.

 

Who Receives Edifying Revelation From God?

 

Can I prepare myself or position myself to receive revelation from God? As we examine Revelation 1 we see that there are some spiritual tips given to help us receive from the Lord. Here is a brief synopsis from Revelation 1 on who receives revelation from God and how to receive revelation from God

 

First, understand that revelation is from God and flows out of an intimate relationship with Him. In Revelation 1:1 it states, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him.”  Jesus exemplifies the intimacy we should have with the Father and how such intimacy results in revelation (Matthew 11:27; John 3:31-36; 5:19-26,30; 6:38,57; 7:16; 8:26-29; 10:30; 12:49; 14:10,24; 17:7-8, 23; 20:17; Philippians 2:5-11).

 

Second, understand you need a servant’s heart to receive God’s revelation. In Revelation 1 it goes on to say, ‘”to show His servants . . . His servant John” (1:1c). God looks for those whose hearts are loyal to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9) and Jesus said to understand life we need to give up our lives and follow His example (Mark 10:45; Luke 9:23-26; John 13).

 

Third, understand that like John, you should value truth and pay attention to detail. It continues in Revelation,  “And He sent and signified it by His angel, to His servant John” (1:1c). John paid close attention to what God revealed to Him. He did not see his faith and relationship with God as a take-it-or-leave-it hobby but diligently conveyed the truth God gave him (John 19:35; 21:24; 1 John 1:3).

 

Fourth, to receive revelation you need to be willing to share what you receive. It states of John, “who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.” (1:2). John was a candidate to receive revelation from God because he was willing and eager to share what he received. (Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:12-21). Some people only take in and never give out. Such people become spiritually constipated and bound up, stifled in their spiritual growth. To grow you must go and bear fruit in the Spirit.

 

Fifth, to receive revelation you need to be into God’s word, i.e. it needs to be in you!  A precious promise states,  “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy,” (1:3a).  We need to value God’s word to receive revelation  (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:19-21).

 

Sixth, to receive revelation we need to take God’s word to heart, i.e. we need to DO IT!  The second portion of Revelation 1:3 says, “and keep those things which are written in it” (1:3b). We need to walk the talk and by the Spirit of God be willing to apply what God reveals to our lives. (Mark 4:24-25; James 1:22-25).

 

Seventh, understand that revelation often comes via personal tribulation. It continues by later saying, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation”  (1:9). Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities. God speaks to us in times of trials when we exhaust our self-reliant tendencies and rely totally on Him (Genesis 22:8; 28:10-22; 32; Daniel 3).

 

Eighth, be in the Spirit. That’s where John was when God gave him this revelation. He says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet” (1:10). John was alert spiritually and open to hearing the  voice of God (1 Kings 19:12; Hebrews 8:10).

 

Ninth, commune with God. That’s what we see in John when he writes, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.” (1:12a).  John didn’t walk away from the voice but turned to see it. He took time to hear and converse with the LORD. (Matthew 26:39, 44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:28-29; Hebrews 5:7).

 

Tenth, die to self and worship God in Christ. John was worshiping when he received his revelation from God. He said, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.’” (1:17). In the presence of the glorified Christ John fell down “as dead,”  dead to self and all that he might have relied on to hold him up. What other response could he have made?! Die to yourself and worship Him and you will receive revelation.

 

How Can I Practically Receive Edifying Revelation From God?

 

How can someone receive edifying revelation from the Lord? Is there something we can do practically to facilitate receiving revelation from the Lord? Yes, I believe there is. Revelation 1:19 states, “WRITE the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”  (Emphasis added.) WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!  Get before the Lord with Bible and paper and pen and prayerfully write in three areas:

 

1.) WRITE OUT “THE THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN” - Write out how God has saved you, how you were before you were saved and how He has changed your life. Write  out the experiences you have had with God, how He has delivered you, provided for you, protected you, loved you.

 

2.) WRITE OUT “THE THINGS WHICH ARE” - Write out your present situation. How is God using you? Are you available to God to be used?  What opportunities, divine appointments has God brought your way? What opportunities to serve, witness, encourage, exhort, others are there around you. What trials are you going through now?

 

3.) WRITE OUT “THE THINGS WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE” -  What promise does God give in His word that apply to your life? Has God given you a particular word on your situation? Has He directed you to a particular verse that applies to your life? What is God’s plan for your life? What vision has He given you for your life?  Based on His word, what does He desire for your future? What hopes do you have?  What blessed hope does He have for your future?

 

If you do these things the likelihood of you growing spiritually will be greatly enhanced. This is how to fertilize and feed the word-growth process in you. May God help you to receive from His word  and bloom in a way that blesses Him and you.

 

MARK THAT ACTION – We need to receive edifying revelation from the Lord by coming prayerfully to Him with a servant’s heart willing to apply and live all that He reveals to us.  One way we can practically seek this out is by writing out what He reveals to us in a journal.

 

Jesus The Powerful Parable Teacher

 

Mark 4:35-41 – “On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”  [126]

Some parables are taught in the circumstances of life and that was the case in the events which follow.  Notice, what follows here happened, “on the same day” that Jesus had taught, at the end of the day. The disciples had heard all His parables of that day and now they would get a chance to put what they have learned into practice. Jesus had taught about genuine conversion, about heeding what you have heard, about growing in your faith, and about abnormal or false growth. Now the disciples would be cast literally into a storm. How would they respond? What have they learned? There are two options for them when confronted with the storm. They can fear the storm, or they can put their faith in Jesus. While they do respond fearfully, they do also know where they can get help, they run to Jesus. This account of the storm was an opportunity for the disciples to learn how to handle their fears and is also an opportunity for us to learn how to deal with our own fears.

This is a very interesting situation isn’t it? Jesus gets into a boat and is followed by His disciples. A tempest or great storm whips up on the Sea of Galilee, (storms whip up quickly on the Sea of Galilee and this is not an infrequent occurrence). Jesus calmly rests while the storm threatens to capsize the boat. His disciples rush to Jesus, wake Him up shouting, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (4:38). It’s amazing that they would think such a thing even in this stormy situation, but that is what fear does, it prevents you from thinking straight.

That must have been a pretty incredible sight. If you’ve ever been on stormy seas in a small boat you know that it can make you feel awfully small and awfully vulnerable. But to Jesus this was no big deal. When awakened by the panic stricken disciples (it must have been a very bad storm for hardened and experienced fishermen to be afraid) Jesus simply says, “Peace be still!” calming the storm powerfully with a “great calm.” No storm is a big deal to Jesus. But what Jesus then says to the fearful, terror stricken disciples is important. Jesus says, “Why are you fearful? How is it that you have so little faith?” (4:40). Jesus’ response tells us two things. First, even though we may fear at times, we do not have to be fearful or full of fear. Second, fear is the foe of faith; when we fear it shows we have little faith and we should face our fears with faith in Jesus.

 “Why Are You Fearful?”

Why do we fear? We usually fear something that we can’t control or that threatens to harm us. Fear can be paralyzing. Fear can keep us from fulfilling God’s will in our lives and fears are usually incited by the storms of life, or the potential for storms in life. Fear is the result of sin in the world. When Adam and Eve sinned, they feared God:

  • Genesis 3:9-10 – “Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”  [127]

Because sin broke the relationship Adam and Eve had with God (and the same is true of their future human generations), sinful humankind along with Adam and Eve lost the sense of God’s presence. Fear is the result of a lack of relationship with God where His comforting presence is experienced. Therefore, if a relationship with God is by faith (Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4; John 1:12; Romans 8; 10) then fear is the opposite of faith.

Fear, The Foe of Faith

Fear is the foe of faith. We are not talking of the fear-like reverence and awe that a person is to have toward Almighty God. There is a godly fear that is the fear of offending or causing the God you love any pain or shame due to unholy acts. Godly fear is a cautious concern that what I do will bring harm to the One I love. Godly fear leads to holiness in life.  Such fear is the beginning of wisdom and a very positive thing (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 14:27; Psalm 19:9).

The fear Jesus is talking about here is a fear that stifles faith. The word used by Jesus here that is translated “fearful” is DEILOS  (Strong’s # 1169 - deilov" deáiloás, di-los´) derived from another Greek term DEOS (devo" deáoás) which means, “dread; timid,” and by implication, “faithless . . .  fearful.” [7] Vines comments of this word, “The word denotes cowardice and timidity and is never used in a good sense. . .[8] The Bible Knowledge Commentary defines this term as “cowardly fear.”[9]  The Bible clearly tells us that such “fear” does not come from God. Paul is inspired to make this statement when he writes:

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  [10]

This verse tells us that such “fear” does not come from God, and if it does not come from God then we can deduce that it is the result of a combination of Satan’s influence and relying on our flesh rather than trusting in God.

Fear – Product of Satanic Influence

It is very possible that the storm that overtook Jesus and the disciples was generated by Satan. A precedent for this is found in the book of Job where Satan is given permission to afflict Job and the instrument used by him is a tornado-like storm (Job 1:9-12 and 18-19). At this point in the ministry of Jesus Satan resorted to natural disaster in an attempt to deter the Savior. Satan will use anything to deter God and His work. The storm had no impact on Jesus who easily squelched it. But it did expose the spiritual condition of the disciples.

Paralyzing Promise-Robbing Fear

The fear that we are talking about is the fear that paralyzes, the fear that is the result of not  trusting in God. Fear is an indication that one is not experiencing the closeness of God’s presence. We come close to God in a saving faithful relationship.

Fear can keep us from experiencing all the blessings and promises God has for us. That this is true is seen in the Old Testament when God’s people (who He had just delivered from the Egyptians) came to the precipice of the Promised Land. Moses sent out 12 spies into the Promised Land to see what lay ahead of them. (Read the passage and see the fear of ten of the spies as opposed to the faith of Joshua and Caleb – Numbers 13:26-33; 14:1-12). Fear led the people of God to forsake God’s will for their lives. God had a Land flowing with milk and honey, luscious, beautiful, full of abundant life and blessing, and yet the fear of the obstacles and adversaries in the Land led to the people’s forsaking of the Lord’s plan and gift and even desiring to return to the place of bondage. Look at the contrast between these fearful forsakers and Joshua, and Caleb. They are courageous because they trust in the Lord. Read what their heart was settled upon:

  • Numbers 14:8-9 - “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’9 “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”   [128]

Fear kept one group from the Promised Land (See Numbers 14:13-45). Faith in God led to acquiring the Promised Land for the others (See Numbers 14:24-38; 34:17-19; Joshua 14:6-13 and book of Joshua). Those who feared God were focused on the obstacles and enemies in the Land. Those who had faith were focused on God and His mighty power. Fear is the result of being out of focus with God. Faith on the other hand is focused on God and so is courageous in the strength God provides.

The Cure For Fear

What is the cure for this paralyzing fear? How can it be overcome? The answer to that is, have faith and trust in God. That may sound simple but it is profoundly true. If we revisit the conquest of the Promised Land after the fearful generation has died off as well as their leader Moses, we see that Joshua is now ordained by God to lead the next generation into the Land. If we take up this transition in Joshua 1 we see two aspects of trusting in God that dispels fear:

  • Joshua 1:1-9 – “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.4 “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.6 “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.7 “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  [129]

As we read God’s words to Joshua we see that God’s exhortation to Joshua was “Be strong and of good courage . . . ” (1:6), “Only be strong and very courageous” (1:7), and “Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid” (1:9). God would not have exhorted Joshua to be courageous and not fear unless Joshua feared. Joshua was human and even the most faithful of God’s servant’s fear at times.  But when we fear we need to take God’s exhortation and command to heart. As we look at these verses we see two things that God provided Joshua so that he could deal with his fears and these two things can help us with our fears too.

First, God fights  fear with His presence. God said to Joshua, “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). The presence of God dispels fear because if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31-32). Later we will discuss how God makes His presence known to us. But when we fear we need to remember, we are not alone. The psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). God is, “A present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). God fights our fear with His presence.

In Isaiah the prophet is inspired to write:

  • Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”  [130]

The cure for fear is the presence of God, because if God is present, any and all problems are solvable. You see God is able to solve any problem and overcome any obstacle to His will. God is able to protect us in any situation. God can do anything. For example, He can birth and heir in parents who are beyond child bearing years (Genesis 18:14). He can bring us into the Promised Land where He has purposed us to be in life (Joshua 1-5). He can bring victory in the face of humanly insurmountable odds (Judges 6-7). And when His people go astray, He is able to work to overcome their sin (Jeremiah 32:17,27). There is nothing too hard for God and so when you realize His presence, any fear related to obstacles and problems is dispelled.

Secondly, God reveals His presence to the fearful in His word. God said to Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night,” (Joshua 1:8a). Now this verse goes on to say that God wanted Joshua to observe and do all that His word said and that if he did that his way would be prosperous and successful. But there is another reason for God’s instruction to Joshua to meditate constantly on His word. God reveals Himself in His word. He reveals the history of His faithfulness and if God has been faithful in the past, we can rest assured that He will be faithful in the present and future. That’s just the way God is, He is faithful to watch over us, He is our Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10). So if you fear, go to God’s word and prayerfully read of His faithfulness to the saints and it will be an encouragement to you. Think of “encouragement” as in-courage-ment, in other words God’s intent to put His courage in you.

Ever had a sleepless night where you feared what the morning would bring? Ever feared an adversary? We don’t have to have sleepless nights paralyzed by fear, we don’t have to fear anyone or anything, and we can trust in the Lord and rest in Him. Below are just a few verses to encourage the one who is being tempted to fear:

  • Psalm 3:5-6 – “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around.”  [131]
  • Psalm 27:1-3 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.”  [132]
  • Psalm 91:1-16 – “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.2 I will say of the Lord,He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.8 Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place,10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”  [133]

Fear not disciple, God is with you and He has made His presence known in the most magnificent of ways, in His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the Fullness of God, is The Full Cure For Fear

God has made His presence known most fully in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-2,14). Indeed Paul is inspired to write to the Colossians:

  • Colossians 1:19 – “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,”  [134]

God’s presence is the cure for fear and God’s presence is most fully revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus is the cure for fear in our lives. When the disciples were faced with the fearsome storm they instinctively knew where they needed to go for help, to Jesus. And when Jesus is awoken, He says, “Why are you fearful,” as much as to say, “Why are you afraid, I’m here.”  The presence of Jesus dispels fear. Now you may respond, “Wait a minute, that was then, Jesus was right there physically with them, He isn’t here physically now.”  You are right, Jesus isn’t physically here with us now as He was with the first disciples, but someday soon He will be. But while He is not with us physically, He is here with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

At the end of Matthew’s gospel Jesus encourages the disciples after giving them the Great Commission by saying:

  • Matthew 28:20 -  “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”  [135]

Now in Acts chapter one Jesus ascends to heaven, and yet He said He would be with the disciples always. This implies that His presence is with us now by way of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes the presence of Jesus known in us. Read what Jesus said about the work of the Holy Spirit in this regard:

  • John 14:15-18 - “If you love Me, keep My commandments.16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”  [136]

When Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another Helper,” the term He uses means literally, another just like Me (Greek ALLOS – Strong’s #243). To have the Holy Spirit residing in you is to have Christ in you (Romans 8:9-11). Jesus goes on to say of the Spirit:

  • John 15:26 - “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  [137]
  • John 16:13 - “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”  [138]

The Holy Spirit brings the presence of Jesus into you and therefore dispels the fear that may be besetting you. It is the Spirit who brings the comforting words of Jesus that say:

  • Matthew 14:27 – “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”  [139]

The Spirit in you bringing the presence of Jesus to you, gives you a powerful cure for the fear that grips you.

You see, without Jesus you have much to fear. Without Jesus you can be brought to fear almost anything, tests, doctor’s appointments, meetings, the present, the future, anything. You fear because you are alone, without Christ to comfort you. We are human and even believers fear at times, but with Jesus, you have the answer to all your fears, you have Jesus. He says, “Fear not, I am with you.”  By receiving that by faith, we can overcome our fears. That’s a lesson we all need to learn.

Out fears are often the result of wrongly assessing our situation. (Whenever we do not factor God into our fearful situation, we will fear and not have faith in Him.) The following story illustrates the folly of fear.

Farmer Joe was suing a trucking company for injuries sustained in an accident. In court, the company's fancy lawyer was questioning
Farmer Joe. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?" asked the lawyer.

Farmer Joe responded, "Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule, Bessie, into the . . ."

"I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted. "Just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident,
'I'm fine'?"
Farmer Joe continued, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road . . ."

The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman that he was just fine. Now, several months after the accident, he is suing my client. I believe he is a fraud.
Please tell him to simply answer the question."

But the judge was interested in Farmer Joe's story and said to the lawyer, I'd like to hear what he has to say about his mule, Bessie. Joe thanked the judge and proceeded. "Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was
driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. "I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could
hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident, a highway patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, 'Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?’ There was no way I wasn’t going to tell him “I’m fine.”

This puts a bit of a humorous light on a fearful situation, but the greater more profound truth is that when you confront your fearful situation with faith in God through His only son Jesus in the power of the Spirit, it won’t much matter whether or not you die because you will be trusting in Him (see Philippians 1:21).

MARK THAT ACTION – Jesus tells us that we need not fear, He is always with us. We need to put our trust and faith in Him and not fear. If we do fear, we need to turn to Him and rely on His promise and presence. He won’t let anything into our lives that with Him we can’ handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). And we should also not ignore that fact that getting the saint to act in cowardice to ministry opportunities is the ambition of Satan. But God has promised in His word:

  • Romans 16:20 – “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”  [11]

Don’t let fleshly fears stifle your spiritual growth or rob you of God’s promise, step out in the faith He provides and walk on the water He calls you to walk on. Remember what God has given us as we again quote from Paul’s inspired writing:

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  [12]

Cowardly fear does not come from God. When we do fear, we need to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), our loving trust of God in His only Son Jesus (Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14-16), and rest our mind and thoughts on His faithfulness (Philippians 4:6-9). That will steady us in the storms of life and enable us to act in courage and victorious ways.

Conclusion

An actual transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995 illustrates well our need to be teachable and open to what God by way of the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us. The following radio conversation transcript was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on 10-10-95:

 

Americans:  Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

 

Canadians:  Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

 

Americans:  This is the Captain of a US Navy ship.  I say again, DIVERT YOUR

COURSE!

 

Canadians:  No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.

 

Americans:  THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES' ATLANTIC FLEET.  WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS, I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT'S ON FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO INSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.

 

Canadians:  This is a lighthouse!  Your call!

 

Jesus has given us clear teaching in His word, if you haven’t ret received Him as your Personal Savior, He’s telling you to divert your course and come to Him. If you’ve accepted Him as your Savior and Lord, but have strayed or are indulging in some sin, He is calling to you too. He’s calling you to divert your course of sin and come to abide in Him in holiness and the Holy Spirit. In both instances, it’s your call. What will you do?

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[8]Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell) 1981.

[9]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

 



[1][1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[11] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Bible Commentary, 1993) p. 342.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27] See David A. Reed, ed. Index of Watch Tower Errors, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990) ; Ron Rhodes, Reasoning From the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Pub. 1993) chapter 13;  and also audio tape of message by Eric Greishemer.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Bible Commentary, 1993) p. 333.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67] Ray Comfort, The Evidence Bible, (Gainesville. FL: Bridge Logos Pub., 2001) p. 635.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[73]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[74]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[80]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[88]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[89]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[90]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[95]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[96]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[97]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[98]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[99]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[100]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[101]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[102]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[103]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[104]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[105]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[106]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[107]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[108]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[109]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[110]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[111]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[112]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[113]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[114]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[115]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[116]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[117]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[118]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[119]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[120]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[121]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[122]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[123] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8012 ((Calvary Chapel, P.O. Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92628)

[124] Ultimate questions: Jesus Seminar at TCU turning to issues of the existence and nature of God By Jim Jones Star-Telegram Staff Writer

 

[125]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[126]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[127]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[128]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[129]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[130]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[131]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[132]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[133]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[134]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[135]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[136]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[137]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[138]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[139]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.