A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Beware Church Counterfeits

 

As soon as Jesus had explained the primary parable of the Sower, He then went into practical prophetic parables about the Church. In the remainder of Matthew 13 Jesus teaches about the implications of the parable of the Sower. He has taught them that some with hard hearts would never even entertain God’s word (i.e. the is represented by the  “seed” – Matthew 13:4,19). Others would respond emotionally to God’s word, but their shallow superficiality would be exposed when they fled in the face of tribulation and persecution (Matthew 13:5,20-21). Still others received the word of God into a heart cluttered and chaotically confused with the thorny things of this world. Because these did not give God priority in their lives, there was no spiritual growth as the word of God was choked off in their hearts by their concern for the things of this world (Matthew 13:7,22). Lastly, there are those who receive God’s word into their heart and bear spiritual fruit like repentance, fruit of the Spirit – love, assurance based on Christ’s righteousness not a righteousness of works, a holy life, soul winning, giving, good works, worship, and fruit that lasts. Therefore, only about one fourth responded properly to God’s word and the word of God implanted in their hearts rooted itself deep in them and made them fruitful (Matthew 13:8, 23).

 

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

 

The parable of the Sower alludes to a problem that would arise amongst God’s people. The problem is not with those who reject the seed of God’s gospel word out of hand. The problem arises due to those who receive the gospel seed superficially and in a worldly manner (the second and third cases in the Sower). The second and third types of response to God’s gospel seed creates a situation where there will be those in the harvest of souls who have not been authentically or genuinely saved. This means there will be counterfeits in the church.

 

The parables that follow Jesus’ Sower parable are a warning to disciples. In the parables that follow the Sower parable, Jesus is saying, Disciples, beware counterfeits in the church.

 

Why, “kingdom of heaven”?

 

Matthew 13:24a – “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is . . .” [1]

 

Why did Matthew use the phrase, “the kingdom of heaven”?  “The kingdom of heaven,” is a phrase used only in the gospel of Matthew where we find it used 33 times. Matthew’s gospel was written to minister primarily to a Jewish audience. Another phrase found in Matthew is “the kingdom of God,” but this phrase occurs a relatively fewer five times. (The phrase “kingdom of God” occurs 70 times in the New Testament as a whole.) The reason that Matthew prefers the phrase  “kingdom of heaven” over “kingdom of God” is to make a pious or reverent avoidance of writing the word “God,” a name revered for its holiness by the Jews. Matthew most likely used the phrase “kingdom of heaven” predominantly in order to avoid a turn off or resistance that some Jews might respond with should the word, “God” be used in the phrase.

 

David H. Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary makes the following comment concerning the phrase “kingdom of heaven”:

 

“The word ‘heaven’ was used in pious avoidance of the word ‘God’; and to this day Hebrew . . . ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ substitutes in Jewish religious literature for ‘Kingdom of God,’ . . . .” [Out of reverence for God’s holy name.] [2]

 

Our logical next question is, “What is the kingdom of heaven”?

 

“The kingdom of heaven is”?

 

The kingdom of heaven is both present and future. The kingdom of heaven is present wherever a person receives the Gospel of Jesus Christ into their heart in a way that establishes Him as their king and Lord. The church represents the called out ones who have responded to the gospel of the kingdom of Christ. Jesus associated entrance to the kingdom of God with repentance and being born again when He stated:

 

  • Matthew 4:17 – “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  [3]
  • Luke 17:20-21 – “ Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;21 “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”  [4]
  • John 3:3,5 – “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” . . . 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.”  [5]

The apostle Paul spoke of the immediacy of this kingdom when he said:

  • Romans 14:17 – “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  [6]
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  [7] (See also Galatians 5:20-21)

The kingdom of God is yet future in that Jesus will in the future establish His kingdom literally upon the earth at His Second Coming (which comes after the seven year Tribulation – Revelation 6-19). References to this are as follows:

  • Daniel 2:44 -  “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”  [8]
  • Acts 1:6-7 – “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”  [9]
  • Revelation 19:6 – “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”  [10]

An in depth consideration of the future Millennial Kingdom of Jesus can be found in Ezekiel 40-48.

Therefore, it can be said that the church ideally, represents the kingdom of heaven now in that it is the gathering of those called out by Christ.

The Church Dilemma

 

The word “church” is first mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew 16 where Jesus says:

 

  • Matthew 16:18 - “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  [11]

The word “church” is translated from the Greek term EKKLESIA (Strong’s #1577). EKKLESIA is a compound word made up of the preposition EK (Strong’s #1537) which means “out of, of, by, from, ” and KALEO (Strong’s #2564) which means, “to call.” Therefore, this word means called out ones. This word was used in a secular sense of, “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.” [12]  Jesus took it and used it to refer to “My church,” or My called out ones. Other than identifying a church by location (see Revelation 2-3), this is the only distinction ever made by Jesus of those gathered in His name. The church is simply all those who are called out in the name of Jesus by Jesus. There are no denominations in the Bible, just children of God, those called out by the Savior Jesus.

 

Now the logical and practical consequence of the various responses to God’s word depicted by Jesus in the parable of the Sower is that those who respond with stony and thorny hearts give an impression that they are saved but in reality they are not.  Therefore, the church’s dilemma is that not all those who are called out ones, or in the church of Jesus, are truly converted to Jesus, not everyone in the church gathering is a genuine called out one of Christ.

Why These Parables?

These parables that follow the primary parable of the Sower, are parables about the church. Why did Jesus teach these parables about the church, what was His purpose. Jesus’ purpose was twofold in teaching these parables.

First, Jesus was warning critics that not everything done in the name of Christ was of Christ. David Stern in the Jewish New Testament Commentary states:

“Yeshua puts critics of Christianity on notice that not everything done within Christendom is a product of Christians.” [13]

Certainly we can see the truth of this when we look throughout history and see the atrocities perpetrated in the name of Jesus during such “holy” ventures as the Crusades or the Inquisitions. But we can go further and see that the church is filled with false doctrines and heresy, as well as down right apostasy. Not everything done in the name of Jesus Christ is of Him. Indeed, if we were honest and true we would have to admit that a great deal done in His name has nothing to do with Him. Doing something in the name of Jesus means to do it in accord with the nature of Jesus. That means being loving and truthful and redemptive and holy. Surely, we have many examples that much of what was and is done in the name of Jesus has nothing to do with Him.

Secondly, Jesus was warning the church of apostasy and corruption, of counterfeits in the church. This is clearly seen in the church today where human traditions, liberal anti-biblical teachings, and outright blasphemy occurs regularly in the “church.” Jesus wants His disciples to be aware of and know church conditions that would come to be. What are these conditions and how should we deal with them? Let’s turn to Matthew 13 now.

The Prophetic Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

Matthew 13:24-30,36-43 – “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;25 “but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.26 “But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.27 “So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’28 “He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’29 “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.30 ‘Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ” . . . . 36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.38 “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.39 “The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.40 “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.41 “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,42 “and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.43 “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”     [14]

In the first 23 verses of Matthew 13, Jesus has laid out the heart condition and various responses of people to the “seed” or word of God. The parable of the wheat and tares spells out the implications of the parable of the Sower for the church. Because some people will accept on the surface the seed of God’s word, they will join the gathering (church) even though they are not genuinely saved. There will be counterfeit Christians in the church.

As we look at these verses, understand that the initial parable was given to the masses, while the explanation was given to the disciples (13:36). Jesus always made time for His disciples to inquire more deeply about the details and substance of His teaching. He didn’t want there to be any mistaking His meaning. This was comforting to the disciples as well as enlightening. Jesus as the Master and Supreme Disciple-Maker exemplifies the care and attention that a good teacher has with his/or her students. Those who seek to make disciples need to make time to explain things to them. And those who are disciples seek explanations of teachings. Jesus didn’t have to ask the disciples, “Do you want Me to explain what I just taught.” No, these disciples had a hunger to learn. That’s why they were disciples, literally a learner. True disciples will demonstrate themselves with a hunger to learn about the Lord.  

The parable as it was given to the masses speaks of an agricultural setting of a Sower, or farmer, planting seed, which would be familiar to the people. Jesus is putting His truth in a way that is understandable to the people (13:24). The Master Disciple-Maker always taught in an understandable way based on the audience He was addressing.

Slumbering?

Matthew 13:25a -  “but while men slept,. . . ” [15]

Jesus then speaks of an “enemy” who is in conflict with the farmer (13:25). In verse twenty-five it states, “while men slept.” Since later Jesus tells us that the Sower is a symbol of Him, we need to ask, “Does Jesus sleep, is He to be counted amongst those who were asleep when the enemy did his work? Is Jesus at any point not aware or inattentive, or slumbering in a way that would leave open a door to the enemy to attack?” Jesus may have slept on occasion during His earthly ministry because as wholly man He needed to rest. But He is also wholly God and God is ever attentive and does not slumber as it states in Psalms:

  • Psalm 121:3-4 – “He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.”  [16]

The parable is an illustration and as such it would be wrong to take it to illogical literal ends. We must interpret the parable in the spirit with which Jesus gave it. Jesus is ever vigilant over His disciples, we can count on that.

Dangerous Darnel

Matthew 13:25b -  "his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.”  [17]

 The enemy sows tares or darnel in amongst the good seed (13:25). What is a tare? A tare is like darnel, which is actually a weed. The darnel looks like wheat but in effect bears no fruit and is empty. A tare just takes up space while it soaks up nutrients that could otherwise go to the good seed. This in effect would serve to give the farmer a false estimate of his crop and perhaps lead him into a false sense of security regarding his harvest. Plans he made based on the estimate of his crop would be thwarted due to the smaller production and yield of the crop. Since a farmer depended on his harvest to supply him and his family through the winter and to supply food and income, this could lead to a serious predicament for the farmer.

How Do We Deal With The Darnel?

Matthew 13:26-30 -  “But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.27 “So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’28 “He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’29 “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.30 ‘Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”  [18]

The question arises as to what should be done when it is discovered that there are tares amongst the wheat? According to the parable, Jesus instructs the workers to leave the tares in place for fear of uprooting the wheat in the process of removing the tares (13:26-29). The tares will be separated from the wheat until the harvest, or until both are fully-grown and readily distinguishable form each other (13:30). The KJV Bible Commentary gives the following insight on this verse when it states:

“The servants questioned what could be done with these tares. To uproot them would be to damage the entire crop: root up … the wheat with them. The implication seems to be that too much scathing of people’s genuineness of faith may damage the saved before it exposes the lost. Let both grow together indicates that there will always be some false professors among true Christian believers until the time of harvest or judgment.”  [19]

Counterfeit Christians creates a problem for the church. The problem is that while outward fruit produced by genuine believers can be observed, we do not have the capacity to discern the thoughts and intents of people’s hearts. Only God has this capacity as He states to Samuel when Samuel was sent by God to look for a replacement for king Saul, (who would eventually become David):

 

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 – “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  [20]

Because of our limitations, Jesus has instructed us to be balanced in our response to the darnel in our midst. How are we to be balanced? We need to be balanced in the sense that we should not go around like headhunters looking to choke off the heads of false brethren. If we go head hunting, due to our limited discernment, we just may lop off a few good heads by mistake in the process. The best policy is to speak the truth in love as Paul wrote:

  • 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.”  [21]

If we go around lovelessly lopping off the heads of those we suspect of being counterfeits, we will end up hurting a lot of innocent brothers and sisters in Christ. Whatever we do, should be done in love and  truth. More on handling the darnelian counterfeits later.

Planted Providentially

Matthew 13:37 – “He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” [22]

When we look at Jesus’ explanation of the parable, we see that it is He who sows the good seed (13:37). Jesus is the one planting the good seed. Jesus plants disciples providentially where He wants them to be. Did you ever ask, “Why was I born here instead of there?” Well, you are where you are because Jesus put you there.

A troubling thing I see in the church is the flight mentality. When something doesn’t go their way or something doesn’t develop how they expected it to, the believer often times flees the scene under the mistaken notion that flight will make right. Jonah had such an attitude. The disciples had such an attitude the night of Jesus’ betrayal. We need to pray before we parlay our own providence. For when we step out in our own understanding, we inevitably make things worse. Remember these words:

  • Proverbs 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”  [23]

God has birthed you where you are and wants to guide you in His path and plan. Read what His word says in this regard:

  • Psalm 139:7-10 – “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.”  [24]

We need to be guided by the Spirit. The Spirit may lead us to stay or go away, but we need to stay put until we are clear on His guidance. We see this in the book of Acts where such phrase listed below indicate the direct involvement of the Spirit in guiding the early believers:

  • Acts 8:29 – “Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” [25]
  • Acts 10:19-20 – “While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.20 “Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”   [26]
  • Acts 13:2-4 – “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”  [27]
  • Acts 16:6-7 – “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.”  [28]
  • Acts 18:5 – “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.”  [29]
  • Acts 19:21 – “When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”  [30]
  • Acts 21:4 – “And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.”  [31]

These are only a few examples of the many times the Spirit moved and guided the people of the early church  in the providential way they were to go. You might be thinking, “Yeah, but that was Acts and I never hear the Sprit the way they did.” But God does lead us. He puts an impression on our hearts and it is prayerfully confirmed by His peace that surpasses understanding. It is also confirmed by the chaos and confusion in a situation because when there is chaos and uncertainty and no peaceful direction by the Lord, and we seek to escape it, we are not acting in the Spirit but rather in our flesh. It was in the environment of worship that the Spirit in Acts 13 instructed the disciples. We need to worship and give ourselves to God and He will direct our paths.

  • Psalm 37:3-6 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.”  [32]
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”  [33]

Trust the Lord, wait on Him in service, and He will bless your life.

The Field is the World

Matthew 13:38a – ““The field is the world,”  [34]

The field in which Jesus sows is “the world” as opposed to just the Jewish nation (13:38a). Jesus here is prophesying of the eventual spread of the gospel to the Gentile population. This entire world is Christ’s field. The good seeds sown by Jesus are “the sons of the kingdom” (13:38b), genuine believers.

The Devil Sows Darnels

Matthew 13:38-39 - “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.39 “The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.”  [35]

The tares are the “sons of the wicked one,” that is, the devil (13:38c,39). In verse 39 we see that there is another one sowing in the field of the world, that is, the devil (13:39). It is the devil who is behind the false conversions and counterfeit Christianity we find in the church. So effective is the deceptive work of the devil in planting false converts that only the angels of God are able to discern the false from the true. Does this mean that disciples are not to point out false teaching in the church? Hardly, when false teaching or false teachers are discernable in the church, the disciple must rebuke and correct and if necessary, evict, falsehoods in the church. This is one of the purposes of God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But what Jesus is saying here is that so deceptive will be the false seed sown in the church, that it will on occasion be indiscernible by the disciple. In such cases the tares are to remain until the final judgment.

The Final Collection

Matthew 13:41 -  “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,”  [36]

The harvest or collecting of the crop, comes at “the end of the age” as Jesus sends the angels to reap (13:39,41). At this harvest at the end of the age, the good seed (sons of the kingdom) and the tares (sons of the wicked one) will be separated by the angelic reapers (13:41).

At this harvest the tares are taken and thrown in hell, described as “the fire” (13:40) and “the furnace of fire . . . [where there] will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (13:41-42). The good seed sons of the kingdom will shine like the sun in contrast (13:43). Jesus concludes by saying, listen, pay attention to this, “he who has ears to hear let him hear!” (13:43).

Counterfeiting in the Church

The Bible speaks very clearly about the presence of counterfeits in the church. What is a counterfeit? A counterfeit is an imitation of something real and true. A counterfeit is something that is not what it appears to be. A counterfeit is a cheap imitation of something made for the sake of ripping someone off, and attempt at manipulation and deception for greedy gain sake. The presence of counterfeits in and close to the church is a reality that the disciple should understand. Below are a few examples of the types of counterfeiting that we see in and around the church.

 

Counterfeit Christs. Jesus warned that many would come claiming to be able to take His place. Jesus said:

 

  • Matthew 24:4,5,24 – “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. . . 24 “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”  [37]

Sun Myung Moon is one who has falsely claimed to be “Christ.” The New Age movement teaches that Jesus was one of many avatars or Christ figures that come on the scene of history in a cyclical way. These are just some of the many examples of counterfeits Christs who come into the church. Unfortunately oftentimes the church welcomes in such heretics.

Counterfeit ministers. Paul speaks of counterfeit apostles and ministers that did and will continue to arise in the church. Paul states:

  • 2 Corinthians 11:7-15 – “Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”  [38]

Paul ministered free of charge in order to show his sincerity and right motive. False ministers are in ministry for the money and they will manipulate and lie to get what they want. This is what Paul says.

Peter also speaks of counterfeit ministers when he is inspired to write:

  • 2 Peter 2:1-3 – “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”  [39]

Notice how the counterfeiter uses secrecy and stealth to spread their falsehoods. Beware when someone comes to you with a “secret” understanding of God’s word that contradicts God’s truth.

John also wrote in his first epistle about those who went out from the church but who were false and counterfeit teachers. John wrote:

  • 1 John 2:18-19 – “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”  [40]

John indicates the test that proves whether or not one is “of us,” it is whether or not they, “have continued with us.” Again, as were learned in the parable of the Sower, lasting enduring fruit is necessary in the genuinely saved.

A recent article in the New York Daily News gives an example of a minister who is likely a counterfeit:

Tax Rap vs. Bronx Cleric
Minister received $5.5M refund, but bank smelled rat

A Bronx minister with champagne tastes who alternately listed Trump Tower and a Bronx housing project as his home address persuaded state tax officials to give him an astounding $5.5 million tax refund in June.

Within hours of obtaining the refund, the Rev. Clayton Harris authorized Independence Community Bank of Brooklyn to electronically pay for a Corvette convertible, a second luxury car and North Carolina property worth $750,000, according to those close to the case.

Authorities said the free-spending minister also wrote out a check for $1 million for Clayton Harris Ministries and deposited it into a separate account at Chase Manhattan Bank.

Harris' free run was abruptly ended when officials at Independence Community Bank became suspicious and notified authorities.

The electronic transfers were quickly blocked, and the $1 million check was frozen; the actual loss is said to be about $13,000.

Harris, 43, is being held pending arraignment in Manhattan tomorrow on a 33-count indictment charging him with grand larceny and filing false income tax returns and other documents.

The court appearance for Harris — once affiliated with a Brooklyn church but who presently has no known affiliation — was delayed because he was unable to find a lawyer quickly.

Red-faced officials at the New York Department of Taxation and Finance declined to explain how such a large check could have been issued — especially to a minister.[41]

The person who is red-faced should not be those in the New York State Tax office, but the so-called minister who is fleecing his flock. This is quite the opposite of Paul who was willing to minister without pay in order to show his integrity and the integrity of the ministry to the people he was serving. This minister has quite a different slant on “service.”

 

Counterfeit Christians. Paul wrote to the Galatians of “false brethren” who spread false doctrine in the church. Paul states:

  • Galatians 2:3-5 – “Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”  [42]

From this passage we see that counterfeit Christians are sneaky, deceptive and not up front about their motives. Their aim is to bring people into bondage to them, rather than to see people freed form their sin and lovingly enslaved to Jesus.

Such counterfeits pay lip service to God but undermine God’s truth with manmade traditions and their own teachings. This is what is stated later in Matthew when Jesus quotes Psalm 78:36 saying:

  • Matthew 15:8-9 - ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, 1 And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”  [43]

Jesus wants more than talk; He wants a talk backed up by a walk.

The apostle Paul was inspired to speak of counterfeit believers when he wrote:

  • 1 Timothy 4:1-2 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”  [44]
  • 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  [45]
  • 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”  [46]

All of these verses speak about people who are apparently in the church! If we were to honestly look at the church in America, would we not have to say that much of what Paul was inspired to write is descriptive of much of the church today?! Not everyone in the church has Jesus in his or her heart; not everyone in the church is saved or has eternal life. Many people in the church are playing church, like a child plays with toy soldiers or dolls, it isn’t real, it’s only a game. Unfortunately, the church is in dire straights in many cases, what other reason could there be for the lack of impact on society? We need more disciples, people who have repented from their sins, found forgiveness for their sins through faith in Christ, people who have experienced the grace of God and who have been enlivened and empowered in the Holy Spirit.

Other portions of Scripture speak of an apparent falling away from the faith which will occur leading up to the rise to power of Antichrist during the Tribulation:

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”  [47]

Apparently those who have come to Christ with stony and thorny hearts will reject their faith to follow the Antichrist. It is these who the Lord tells us will be overcome by the strong delusion of the Antichrist because of their refusal to be rooted in Christ:

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 – “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”  [48]

Those who accept Christ superficially and in a way that makes Him just another “thing” in their lives, these people will be susceptible to the delusions and deceptions of the Antichrist. Those who have genuinely accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior are said to have an anointing from the Spirit to be able to discern truth from falsehood. This is what John meant when he wrote:

  • 1 John 2:20-23 – “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”  [49]

But not only are there counterfeit people, there is a counterfeit gospel.

Counterfeit gospel. Paul speaks of “another gospel” which is really not another. Read what he was inspired to write:

  • Galatians 1:6-12 – “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  [50]

The counterfeit gospel is man-centered, the true gospel is Christ-centered. Beware those who tell you that your salvation depends on church affiliation or membership or any other work you must do. Salvation is by God’s grace by faith alone in Christ alone, nothing more or less.

Counterfeit teaching. That there is false teaching in the church is one of the saddest situations in the church. We are warned to guard against false teaching in the church. Read what the Bible says about this:

  • Colossians 2:6-10 – “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.8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” [51]
  • 1 Timothy 6:20 – “ O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge”  [52]
  • Hebrews 13:9 – “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.”  [53]

Those who teach counterfeit or false teaching usually do so with a subtle pride in their own academic prowess. Remember, knowledge puffs up. Love edifies or builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1). When you see pride, beware, for false or inaccurate teaching is around the corner.

Counterfeit miracles.  The Bible speaks of false and counterfeit signs that will be used by the devil to deceive many in the End Times. This is the major means used by Antichrist to deceive people during the Tribulation. We can expect that such counterfeit signs are being used even today to set the groundwork for the future Antichrist’s deceptions.  Paul wrote:

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 – “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”  [54]

The last phrase in this portion of Scripture tells us that counterfeits deliberately disregard truth because of the “pleasure” they take in unrighteousness. Counterfeits love what they do. Beware of them disciple, beware of them.

What should we do with these deceptive darnelian counterfeits?

Dealing With the Darnel

How should we deal with the darnel or counterfeits in the church? Well, to some extent we will not be able to root out counterfeits based on what Jesus tells us in the parable (13:27-30). And as we have already pointed out, whatever we do should be balanced and done in love and truth. But are we to just passively allow falsehood in the church? Are we to simply allow false teaching to continue? Common sense as well as the Holy Spirit would tell us passive toleration in this regard could prove fatal. But what should we do?

“Beware”

While Jesus instructed us to “Let both grow together” (13:30), we should not just throw up our hands and passively accept falsehood and counterfeits in the church.  Jesus Himself taught that we should “beware” counterfeits as we see in the following portions of Scripture:

  • 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.”  [55]
  • Matthew 10:17 -  “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.”  [56]
  • Luke 12:1 – “In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  [57]

This is significant because to “beware” (Greek – PROSECHO – Strong’s #4337) means, “to turn one’s mind or attention to a thing by being on one’s guard against it.” [58]

The apostle Paul also instructed us to “beware” when he wrote:

  • Philippians 3:2-3,18-19 – “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,. . . 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”  [59]
  • Colossians 2:8-9 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;”  [60]

In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 3:12-14 – “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,”  [61]

In each of these sections of Scripture form Paul’s writings; he is referring to a problem that crept inside the church. Paul’s instruction was to “beware” or to take note of and guard against falsehood.

Peter was inspired to write, warning the church of “being led away with the error of the wicked” which was a problem again, in the church.  Peter wrote:

  • 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.”  [62]

How are we to “beware” and ““to turn one’s mind or attention to a thing by being on one’s guard against it”?

“Test the spirits”

John spoke of counterfeit or false ministers in the church and how they should be dealt with when he wrote:

  • 1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  [63]

Here we see the necessity to “test the spirits” of those who claim to be ministers of God. We are to scrutinize everything and everyone one through the lens of Scripture. We need to be Bereans in this sense who were described in the following way:

  • Acts 17:10-11 – “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.  [64]

We need to search the Scriptures daily to see whether or not something is true.

The Sword of the Spirit That Cuts Away Falsehood

God’s word is described as a sword:

  • Ephesians 6:17b – “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”  [65]

A sword is an offensive weapon. We need to take the initiative with applying God’s word to life. One of the greatest uses of God’s word is clearly marking falsehood. Read what the Bible says about its value in discerning falsehood:

  • Psalm 119:97-100 – “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me.99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.”  [66]
  • 2 Corinthians 4:2 – “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”  [67]
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-17 – “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 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.”  [68]

Paul was inspired to put this attitude succinctly when he wrote:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”  [69]

Disciple, we need to take the sword of the Spirit, God’s word, and expose falsehood.

Use The Sword of God’s word in LOVE

We need to remember to use God’s word in love. If we don’t use God’s word in love, we may become like Peter who lopped off an ear of one those who came to take Jesus the night He was betrayed. The account states:

  • John 18:10-11 – “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”  [70]

Peter struck out on impulse and probably in anger, in doing so he found himself in opposition to the will of God, to the cross of Christ. If you can’t use God’s word in love, Jesus tells you to put it in its sheath. Whatever you do in the name of Jesus, must be done in love, otherwise it will be counterproductive and worthless (see 1 Corinthians 13).

Expose Counterfeits

Disciple, in light of this, beware counterfeits and falsehoods in and around the church and don’t be swayed or confused or surprised by them. We are to expose such things when we see them and depend on God to protect us from them Remember what the Lord told us through the apostle Paul when he was inspired to write to the Ephesians:

  • Ephesians 5:6-21 – “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.14 Therefore He says: 1 “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  [71]

As we prayerfully rely on the Spirit, He will protect us form the counterfeits. He will keep us in “goodness, righteousness and truth.” He will help us know what is good and acceptable to the Lord. He will help us in exposing the false and counterfeits we see around us. He will bring falsehood to light. We must depend upon Him.

The Prophetic Parable of the Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:31-32 – “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,32 “which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”  [72]

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 into  a tree. 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.”  [73]

 

Growth for the sake of growth is 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

 

The birds are agents of evil as seen in the parallel use of them in the parable of the Sower. 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 (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." [74]

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.”

The Prophetic Parable of the Leaven

Matthew 13:33 – “Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”  [75]

Interestingly, leaven is a symbol in the Bible which is always associated with evil. Leaven is used to symbolize evils such as pride and hypocrisy, and external superficial religion as seen in the following verses:

  • Luke 12:1 – “In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  [76]
  • 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 – “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  [77]

 Jesus is therefore saying that the church at some point will actually become a source of evil in the world. This is true because of the leaven that is allowed to enter into it.

The Churches of Revelation

When we look at the state of the church at the end of the first century as depicted in the book of Revelation, we see a church that has already allowed much leaven to be worked into it’s dough. The church at Ephesus had “left your first love, ” they ministered without a love for God or the lost  (Revelation 2:4). The church at Pergamos, had allowed “the doctrine of Balaam” which was the willingness to compromise with the world in a way that would corrupt God’s people for money by way of using immorality (Revelation 2:14; Numbers 31:15-16). Pergamos also allowed the false “doctrine of the Nicolaitans,” which is creating of a dominant class of clergy to rule over the laity or people. Jesus said He hated this doctrine (Revelation 2:15). The church of Thyatira was a tolerant church which allowed the false teacher Jezebel to teach seductive sexual immorality and idolatry. Thyatira’s sin was permissiveness or tolerance to the point of allowing false teaching to exist in her ranks. The church at Sardis was dead spiritually (Revelation 3:1). And lastly, the church at Laodicea was lukewarm and Jesus was about to spew her out of His mouth (Revelation 3:15-16). These are the things that characterize the church that allows evil leaven to seep into it. How is your church in this regard?

The condition of these churches is of great significance to us because if, (as Jesus words to the seven churches of Revelation show), the church by the end of the first century was deviating from God’s will and way, then we cannot look to the church as the supreme authority for Christianity, the church itself had gone astray. No, the only reliable authority for the disciple is the Bible.

The book of Acts gives us the truest model of what God intended the church to be, and when we look at the church (EKKLESIA – “called out ones”) in the book of Acts, we see a people dependent upon the word of God:

·         Acts 2:42,47   “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  [78]

·         Acts 6:7 - “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”  [79]

·         Acts 8:14 - “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,”  [80]

·         Acts 12:24 - “But the word of God grew and multiplied.”  [81]

·         Acts 17:11 - “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”[82]

·         Acts 19:20 - “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”  [83]

If the church is going to effectively guard against counterfeits in its midst, it needs to abide in Christ as revealed in His word. The word of God is described as being powerful and effective (Hebrews 4:12). The church, teaching, preaching, evangelism, counseling and all that the church does will be “powerful” to the extent that it relies upon God’s word. The power of God in a ministry is in direct proportion to the reliance on Scripture in that ministry.

Jesus, The Fulfillment of Prophecy

Matthew 13:34-35 – “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them,35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”  [84]

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If you want to know the truth about life, go to Jesus. The things Jesus is revealing at this point are new, they have never been revealed before. Matthew by saying this is emphasizing to the reader the import of Jesus’ words. It is very important that the disciple recognize and know the condition of the church.

Jesus is the one we need to look to and the next two parables describe the passion and mission of Jesus.

The Prophetic Parable of the Hidden Treasure – The Passion of Christ

Matthew 13:44 - “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  [85]

Now understand that what Jesus is now teaching He is teaching to His disciples (13:36). These parables follow His explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares, the wetting of which is “the house.” Jesus is alone with the disciples and He is now going to tell them some intimate details about His ministry.

If we interpret this parable in a way that makes the “man” representative of those seeking salvation, then we wind up with a works righteousness that is contrary to the glorious gospel of God’s grace. No, the man here is Jesus. It is Jesus who sees us as a treasure. It is Jesus who sells all for the joy of the treasure. This joy of Jesus in giving Himself for the lost is conveyed in Hebrews where it states:

  • Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  [86]

Jesus has a passion for lost souls and sees them as a treasure. So great does Jesus see this treasure of souls to be, that He “sells all that He has and buys that field.” That is what Jesus did for you and me! Read how the apostle Paul was inspired to put it:

  • Philippians 2:5-11 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  [87]

What a beautiful and glorious truth Jesus conveys here. He wants us to know that He sees us as His treasure. The Father said this of the Jews in the Old Testament (Exodus 19:5), now Jesus is saying this of those in the “field” which, if we are consistent with His symbolism, we know is the world (13:38). Jesus treasures us, that’s beautiful and a thought to treasure in our hearts.

The Prophetic Parable of the Pearl of Great Price – The Mission of Christ

Matthew 13:45-46 -  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,46 “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  [88]

Again the merchant is Jesus for he is the One who “sold all that He had and bought it,” that is the pearl, which is us. The mission of Jesus was to purchase the pearl. If we interpret the merchant to be us, then we end up with a salvation that is accomplished by our work of selling. That would be contrary to the gospel of grace. No, Jesus purchased us with His blood. We see this in the following verses:

  • 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.”  [89]
  • 1 Timothy 1:14-15 – “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”  [90]
  • 1 Peter 1:17-19 – “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  [91]

Jesus came to earth on a mission, that mission was to make a way that we could be saved from our sins and united with God in Him. Hallelujah!

The Prophetic Parable of the Dragnet

Matthew 13:47-52 -  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,48 “which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.49 “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,50 “and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”51 Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”52 Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”  [92]

They were in close proximity to the Sea of Galilee where the major industry was fishing. When He used the imagery of a dragnet, they all would understand clearly. The dragnet was a large net held between two boats and dragged in the water so that it would swoop up the fish in the water. Jesus is saying that “at the end of the age,” or at the end of the Tribulation (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Revelation 6-19) everyone would be collected and separated in terms of whether they are genuinely saved or wicked (13:48-49). Those who are wicked will be cast into “the furnace of fire” or hell (13:50).

At the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 6-19), Jesus will return at His 2nd Coming and upon His return He will judge the world. This truth is conveyed later in Matthew’s gospel when it states:

  • Matthew 25:31-46 - “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.33 “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.34 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;36 ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?38 ‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;43 ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [93]

A time is coming when a separation will be carried out by the angels of Jesus and at that time He will carry out the sentence of His just judgment. This is a sobering thought that we should all use to motivate us to make sure of our own salvation and put a burning passion for souls in us.

“Have you understood these things?”

Jesus likely looked right into the eyes of His disciples and asked, “Have you understood these things?” they responded “Yes, Lord” (13:51). They truly didn’t understand as much as they would eventually. But Jesus then refers to the “new and old” parts of treasure (13:52). This likely refers to the Old and New Testament teachings that they would soon be relying upon.

The Prophet Not Welcome in His Own Home Town

Matthew 13:53-58 – “Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.54 And when He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?55 “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?56 “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”57 So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”  [94]

As a portend of things to come, the chapter closes with Jesus being rejected in His own hometown. Jesus is rejected by His hometown neighbors because of His humble beginnings and family heritage.

Brothers and Sisters of Jesus

Notice here Jesus is said to have had “brothers” and “sisters” (13:55-56). This statement is evidence against such traditions and erroneous doctrines of the perpetual virginity of Mary. This is the clear understanding of the people in Jesus hometown. Joseph had no other wife by which Jesus could have had siblings. The logical conclusion therefore, is that Mary had other children besides Jesus and that Joseph was the father of these other children. On this issue pastor Chuck Smith states:

“Now contrary to the teaching of the Catholic church, Mary did not remain a virgin. The perpetual virginity of Mary is just a concept adopted by the Catholic Church and as a part of their continued tradition, became ultimately dogma. And so the Catholic dogma is determined by how long it has been traditional within the church. And their dogma is then held on an equal par with the scripture, becomes as scripture. This, of course, is a real problem for them that they never really explained, but Jesus had brothers, James, Joses, Simon, Judas; sisters, which are not named.” [95]

Jesus And The Offended

“So they were offended at Him” (13:57a). The reason for counterfeits in the church is that people are offended by Jesus.  The word “offended” here is translated from the Greek term SKANDALIDZO (Strong’s #4624). We also get the English word “scandal” from this Greek term. When we look at the history of this word, we see that in the Classical Greek SKANDALIDZO referred to the stick with bait on it that was part of a trap. Matthew’s gospel uses the term SKANDALIDZO more than any other writer (9 times). [96]The SKANDALIDZO meant that a person tripped themselves up in their unbelief. When encountering Jesus one either accepts or rejects Him. To reject Him is to fall into the trap of offense.

“Does this offend you?”

There is one particular example that illustrates well the offensiveness of Jesus to those who refuse to follow Him. We find that example in the gospel of John where it states:

  • John 6:53-69 – “Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.54 “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.55 “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.58 “This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, Does this offend you?62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.69 “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  [97]

Notice that Jesus explains that, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63), meaning that He was making a spiritual analogy, and not speaking of a literal cannibalistic ritual that He was instituting. Those who responded to Jesus’ words from a religious mindset, in their Spirit-less flesh, missed the point Jesus was making and found what He taught offensive. But those who responded to Jesus in the Spirit, were able to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.69 “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69).

“Does this offend me?”

In light of this, we need to ask, “Am I offended by a teaching of Jesus and if so, is it because I have been looking at it in my flesh rather than in the Spirit?” We need to bring these words to bear on us personally. Are you offended that Mathew’s gospel account testifies to the fact that Jesus had “brothers and sisters”? Are you offended that Jesus explained that His teaching on His body being bread to be eaten needed to be spiritually and not literally understood and therefore undermines the idea of transubstantiation (i.e. the doctrine that the bread and wine of the communion turn into the actual body of Christ)? Is the offensiveness of these teachings of Jesus to you due to what the Spirit is telling you, or because it goes against a human tradition about the perpetual virginity of Mary, transubstantiation, (or some other such human tradition) you have been taught? If so, I encourage you to seek the Spirit’s teaching in this regard. Human tradition is not dependable because it is rooted in the fallibility of human beings who all fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).

As we saw earlier and now must mention again, God’s word alone, that inspired by the Spirit, that interpreted by the Holy Spirit, that alone is the sole and supreme authority for the disciple. Read again what Paul has been inspired to write:

  • Colossians 2:8-10 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  [98]

Don’t be cheated by anything that is unsupported by God’s word. Don’t be swayed and misguided by the teachings or traditions of men that are not only unsupported by God’s word, but in effect are contrary to God’s word. The truth is that, those who follow a counterfeit life are tripped up in their offense to Jesus because they are not responding in the Spirit. Those offended by Jesus they respond with their own version of truth that they find comfortable. They are trapped in their own unbelief and the enemy comes and snatches away the seed sown by the Sower Jesus (Matthew 13:19-22).

Rejecting Jesus leads to all kinds of falsehoods. But receiving Jesus leads to the blessing of eternal life. Jesus said as much earlier in the gospel of Matthew when He said:

  • Matthew 11:6 - “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”   [99]

The Illuminating Holy Spirit

If we approach Jesus in the Holy Spirit, He will lead us into all truth regarding Jesus. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 14:25-26 -  “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.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.”  [100]
  • 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.”  [101]
  • 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 – “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.”  [102]

If we rely upon and surrender to the Holy Spirit to teach us the things of Jesus, we will not be offended or stumble over the teachings of Jesus. And blessed will we be who are not offended at the words of Jesus.

Conclusion

Counterfeits can be very deceiving and hard to expose. But in the end the genuine convert of Jesus will be proven true and the counterfeit Christian will be exposed. Charles Swindoll tells a story that illustrates this:

Several years ago, in Long Beach, California, a fellow went into a fried chicken place and bought a couple of chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The young woman at the counter inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day-a whole bag of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken. After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to open the meal and enjoy some chicken together. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken--over $800! But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. By then the manager was frantic. The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, "I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money. Here." Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, "Oh, great, let me call the newspaper. I'm gonna have your picture put in the local newspaper. You're the most honest man I've heard of." To which they guy quickly responded, "Oh no, no, don't do that!" Then he leaned closer and whispered, "You see, the woman I'm with is not my wife...she's uh, somebody else's wife." [103]

Disciple, know that there are counterfeits in the church. Test all things and hold fast only that which is true to God’s word.

 



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

[2] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary,Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. 1992) p. 16

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

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

[13] David Stern, the Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996) p. 49.

[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]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

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

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

[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] By BARBARA ROSS, GREG WILSON and OWEN MORITZ  Daily News Staff Writers Summer 2001

 

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

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

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

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

[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.

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

[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.

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

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

[58]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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

[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] Chuck Smith, Ibid

[96] The Complete Biblical Library – Sigma-Omega Dictionary, (Springfield, MI: The Complete Biblical Library, 1991)p. 58

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

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

[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] Charles Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life, p. 159-60.