Saturday, June 14, 2008

WHY PARABLES?

For this article, we turn to Matthew Chapter 13. I want to focus on verses 10,11 and 12. But let me start at verse 1. Jesus preached in parables; almost this entire Chapter 13 in Matthew,

Matthew 13:1
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

Matthew 13:2
And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

Look at the scene now. “Jesus sat”. He went into a ship and sat and preached from the ship to a multitude which stood on the shore. This was not a little rowboat. This was the same ship where they all went in and, after Jesus preached this sermon of many parables, they all went in and sailed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So, this is a good sized sailboat. And, so let me continue here with verse 3.

When you read this passage now, what’s happening?

Jesus is sitting on the ship and He is preaching these parables to the multitude standing on the shore.

Matthew 13:3
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Matthew 13:4
And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Matthew 13:5
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

Matthew 13:6
And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Matthew 13:7
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Matthew 13:8
But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Matthew 13:9
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

“He who hath ears to hear let him hear”.

This is how Jesus ended this parable speaking to the crowd.

Now that is a curious way to end this parable!

He did not explain this parable to the multitude!

Jesus told the first four of these parables in Matthew 13 to the multitude, without explanation. Mark tells us that Jesus explained these parables after He was alone with the Disciples in the house. Matthew does not do that: Matthew inserts this discussion right here, because in the Gospel according to Matthew events are arranged in a topical fashion, rather than in chronological fashion. It is understandable then that they asked Him the question:

Why do you speak to them in parables?

Matthew 13:10
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Why do You speak to them in parables? (Matthew 13:10)

If I may paraphrase the amazement of the Disciples, I would describe it this way:

· "Lord, this multitude has come from far to hear your teachings. There are some very important people among them. This is where your future support is coming from. But they are unable to understand these parables, and so do WE. Now, WE have been tagging along with you for so long. If WE cannot understand these parables, how do you expect them to understand it?"

· "Lord, You are driving away future Disciples who are willing to listen. Why do you make it so difficult for them? You made a special effort to teach the multitude from the ship. You must have had your reasons for doing that."

· "Lord, did we not hear you say: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Then why do you make it impossible for them to hear you and believe you?"

Of course, the disciples were looking at the outside, but the Lord looks upon the heart.

If the Lord Jesus had been enrolled in one of today’s Seminaries the Professors would probably have failed Him in Evangelism 101.

What do they teach you there?

· Put on a happy smile.

· Do not discourage your audience with difficult doctrines.

· They are your future bread and butter.

· Make it easy to relate to them.

· Do not send them away with confusion.

· Avoid the controversial issues.

· Make them feel good when you send them home.

Did you notice that the Lord Jesus Christ does not pay any attention to those good psychology techniques that have been developed in today’s Seminaries?

· In fact, every time Jesus is getting popular, He thins out the multitudes (Luke 9:57-62, John 6:15,53) Let me give you a few examples:

Luke 9:57
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

Luke 9:58
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Paraphrased: If you do follow Me, your life will be tough. I don’t even have a place to sleep. You will be poor. So think it over if that is really what you are willing to do!

Luke 9:59
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Luke 9:60
Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Preach the gospel.

What?

Am I not allowed a little time to take care of my own family?

Do I have to spend all the time I have for the preaching of the Kingdom?

Luke 9:61
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

Luke 9:62
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Instead of encouraging him, Jesus is giving him such a riddle, that even today people are still puzzling about it.

To top it off, when Jesus really has become very popular He makes sure that multitude is going to be thinned out:

John 6:15
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

John 6:53
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

What is the bottom line in all these examples?

Why does Jesus put the brakes on every time someone jumps in to join the club?

Count the cost!

Make sure you understand what the True Gospel is. We are commanded to follow Jesus, but make sure you understand what it means to follow Jesus!

So, why does Jesus speak to the multitudes in parables?

It takes a lot of hardship, it takes perseverance.

Because: (Matthew 13:11)

Matthew 13:11
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Right away Jesus is teaching the untrained multitude about the Sovereignty of God. That is what this Parable of the Sower is all about. It’s difficult to accept. It’s not difficult to understand.

Or let me put it to you more plainly: Jesus is diving into the matter of Predestination, and all that is connected with that. He does not say: “Well, these are doctrines which are still too difficult for you; these are doctrines which are hard to understand, so we will postpone them until later.”

Nothing of the sort!

That is why in this Church we will speak freely about the difficult doctrines as well as the easy ones without distinction. We do not want to hold back anything; we give you the Whole Counsel of God.

Now, are parables to enhance the truth, or to conceal the truth?

Is God using parables to clarify the True Gospel, or to hide the True Gospel?

What does the Bible say?

It is to give someone the Gospel and it is to withhold from others the Gospel.

The Lord Jesus is here answering the question:

Why do You speak to them in Parables? (Matthew 13:11.)

Is it because the Spiritual truths of the Gospel are too difficult for them to understand?

Everything in the Bible is too hard for mankind to understand. But it takes God’s Holy Spirit to let you understand them. You need the Holy Spirit to understand the gospel of salvation. The Lord Jesus said:

John 6:44
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

· As it is, God’s Salvation Plan is too unbelievable for anyone!

God says in 1 Corinthians 2:14,

1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The most intelligent person in the world cannot understand the Gospel of Salvation just by reading the Bible, or even by studying it, because these truths are spiritually discerned. The Word of God is written in such a way that the natural man cannot understand what God’s Plan of Salvation is. Only to those by grace it is given. What the Lord Jesus says here in Matthew 13:11 is the same as He says in Mark 4:10-11

Mark 4:10
And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

Mark 4:11
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

· The mysteries of the Kingdom are given to you, but not to them!

What are the “Mysteries of the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven” (Synonyms)

In the Bible the word “Mystery” does not mean something that is obscure or incomprehensible.

In the Bible the word “Mystery” means “A Divine Truth that was hidden in the Word of God, but is now revealed in the Gospel”. These “Mysteries” are hidden in parables, but to those who do not understand the parables the “Mysteries” remain hidden. To the disciples He defines the Divine Truth.

What does that tell you about the nature of the Bible?

· The Bible is so written as to harden those already in unbelief, and to harden their unbelief. It is written for others to whom the grace is given. It is written so that they will get more spiritual truth out of these parables. Read it in the following Verse:

Mark 4:12
That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

· Therefore, the Bible is “a savour of life unto life, or a savour of death unto death”

2 Corinthians 2:16
To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.

Now we could ask the question:

Why does God do it this way?

Why does God conceal the truth in parables, or in historical parables?

Ultimately, God does what He does for His Own Glory, and God has not revealed all His reasons to us. All to the enhancement of His Glory.

· But God does give us examples in Biblical history to demonstrate His Sovereignty.

For example, God says in Romans 9,

Romans 9:11
(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Romans 9:12
It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

Romans 9:13
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

And God says that before the children were born. And God puts that in such a way, that it’s impossible to conclude from that, God hated Esau because he turned out to be a wicked man. God says that is not so. We read before the children were born, before they could have done any good or evil.

What is the purpose?

God says “I am doing this all for MY GLORY.” Likewise, here in Matthew 13:11, the Lord Jesus is saying (Paraphrased): “I am doing this in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand, I am revealing the Mysteries to you, but not to them. That is why I speak in parables”. We have seen in Joshua, historical parables.

Did Jesus speak in parables only some of the time?

The Bible says, not only did Jesus speak in parables, but the Bible is loaded with parables:

Matthew 13:34
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

Matthew 13:35
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

The Lord Jesus quotes here from Psalm 78, and, if we look up this Psalm we come to a surprising conclusion:

Psalm 78:1
Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

Psalm 78:2
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:

Psalm 78:3
Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.

Psalm 78:4
We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

Then from verses 5 through 72 God gives a review of the history of national Israel, and He states that these are the wonderful works that He hath done. Certainly, if God calls these historical events also parables, then we should be on our guard for “historical parables”, like the one that God has given us in Romans 9:

“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

This is a historical event that God has orchestrated in order to teach US the Mysteries of the Gospel.

· For us who are saved, parables enhance understanding the Truth.

How do we come to this understanding?

By the Holy Spirit.

But let us not go overboard in thinking that our knowledge and understanding is a sure sign of our Salvation. That is not so!

· We are not saved by our knowledge!

I have known several people who had an excellent knowledge and understanding of the Bible, but today I doubt if they have ever been saved. We are not saved by our knowledge!

· We are saved by Christ and Knowing Him is the result of our Salvation. We are saved because He died, for the guilt of our sins, on the cross.

How do we know if we know Him?

What does the Bible say?

Here is a verse to print in your memory. The evidence:

1 John 2:3
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

That is how we know that we know Him.

Of course, if Christ died for you, then how does that change you?

Or have you been changed?

How do you express your Gratitude for so great a Salvation?

We give everything that we have to Him. Let us get back to Matthew 13.

The Disciples asked:

Why do You speak to them in parables?

Jesus answered:

Because Spiritual Truth is given to you, but it is not given to them!

Now, if election is entirely of God then:

Of what concern is that to me? (Matthew 13:12, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Mark 4:24-25, Luke 8:18)

Can I just sit back and let everything go over me, because it is not important?

The Lord Jesus says (Paraphrased): It is as important as Heaven and Hell!

Matthew 13:12
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

What does Jesus mean when He says: For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance?

· It means either the wealth of God, or the poverty of the hardened heart, and Hell as a result.

What is the wealth of God?

Can we experience that wealth already here on earth?

Yes we can!

What do we possess in Christ?

1. Divine Regeneration. He gave me a New Soul. By nature I was dead in trespasses and sins. A soul is worth more than the whole world.

2. Divine Redemption. All my sins have been forgiven, because Christ paid for them in full. Done away! Forgiven!

3. Divine Righteousness. I have had the perfect Righteousness of Christ imputed to me. I was unrighteous and unholy. In Christ, I am righteous and Holy because of the wonderful grace of God.

4. Divine Truth. By nature I was in utter darkness. Now He gave me the Light of the World! When we read the Bible, we begin to understand. He gives us Light!

5. Divine Peace. By nature I was an enemy of God, an ally of Satan. Now I have Peace with God. He adopted me to be His son. I can not get richer than that!

6. Divine Sanctification. By nature I was unholy. But Christ is made unto US … Sanctification.

The one verse that comes to mind when we think of all these riches in Christ is:

1 Corinthians 1:30
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

What the second half of this verse says is: Christ in the past, is our Righteousness, in the present, He is our Sanctification, in the future, He is our Redemption when our Redemption will be completed. Now let's get back to Matthew 13:12, because this ties in with Sanctification. Not exactly in Matthew 13:12, but in Mark 4:24-25:

Mark 4:24
And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

Then He gives a familiar verse:

Mark 4:25
For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

“Take heed what you hear” contains the identical clause that we already saw in Matthew 7:1-2, and it has to do with judging one another. Let me say it more bluntly, it has to do with gossip.

This is affecting your Sanctification. This is a Sin as bad as murder. A True Believer wants nothing to do with gossip.

A Christian wants to have nothing to do with gossip. In Luke, it is slightly different.

Luke 8:18
Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

When the Lord says in Luke 8:18 “Take heed therefore how ye hear”, He is referring to us listening carefully to these parables.

Pay attention!

This is God speaking!

For example, the more you read your Bible, more and more your treasured companion, the more you love it as your Daily Bread, your daily Companion; it is your lifeline to God; it is something you cannot live without!

On the other hand, for someone who puts the Bible on the shelf, and it’s there for a long time, what happens?

They will lose what they have. Why, because, they have neglected so great Salvation. Now, let me give an example of that. There are many churches which teach a historical gospel. By that I mean they stress the historical points in The Old Testament and the New Testament. Now that’s what I call the historical gospel; “The gospel of a people a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away. And so, it really does not touch me.”

But, do you see, the gospel touches you!

That is how these messages should reach you.

And so, when someone believes in just the historical gospel, what’s going to happen?

Well, he has read the whole Bible, has read it twice, maybe five times. Then, it goes on the shelf.

Because he has read it!

If you use the historical gospel, it's Done!

On the shelf!

You do not want to believe that it is done! God used these historical antecedents to hang His doctrines, His gospel of salvation. The truth of the gospel is given in the Bible. It is like a rose that opens up. It is like a rose that flowers and you begin to discover more and more as you continue to dig into it.

When people have a hardened heart, how did it happen?

When God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, how did it happen? (Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:15-32; Exodus 9:7-12; Exodus 14:4)

The Lord looks on the heart: Jesus looks on the heart.

Matthew 13:13
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Matthew 13:14
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

Matthew 13:15
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

So God says, “when I called Isaiah to his office of prophet, when I already told Isaiah that this people are seeing but they see not, and hearing, but they hear not because they have a hardened heart.”

Now how does a hardened heart happen to occur?

Does not God say that He hardens the heart?

That is true, but, if you go back to Exodus, you find how God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. First of all, He brings these ten plagues upon Egypt, one after the other. And every time Pharaoh hardens his heart. You read that every time. Ten times. Only the last time, Pharaoh let the people go. And then the Lord hardens Pharaoh’s heart. Because Pharaoh’s heart was already hardened. The LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart to such an extent, that Pharaoh went with his troops after the nation of Israel and got drowned in the Red Sea. So, there you see how God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. And that is why Jesus says, “Therefore, speak I to them in parables.” But now, look at what He says in verse 16,

“But blessed are your eyes” (Matthew 13:16-17, Psalm 119:18)

Matthew 13:16
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:17
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

So Jesus is saying “Blessed are you, because you are one of the chosen ones to hear the truth of the gospel.

Psalm 119:18
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Can we see those wondrous things that the Bible speaks about?

Yes, we can-with our spiritual eyes. All we can do is plead with God that He may open our eyes.

The first evidence:

You are here today.
You are patiently reading God’s Word.
You have come to read, to hear and understand the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God.
To You it is given, praise the Lord for that.
But there are others reading this very message, but they do not hear the message.

By Alfred J. Chompff

No comments: