Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Jesus Did Next

Some verses from Scripture have deep and more far reaching meanings than we always give the credit for. These verses for example.


Illuminated Bible
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:14-26)

Often these verses are interpreted to talk about what happens when either someone repents of their sins or is delivered of an evil spirit.  It is important after that has happened to fully accept Jesus Christ, that is to acknowledge him as Lord.  And it is important to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to yield every part of you to him so that evil spirits can't move in.  This is a good interpretation but there is a prophetic and eschatological meaning also. And I would contend that it was this meaning - prophecy of times to come - that was in the forefront of the minds of those who first heard Jesus preaching this parable.

Seeing these verses as a prophecy of judgement on Israel and Jerusalem in particular, we can interpret it like this: Jesus Christ swept clean Jerusalem by casting out demons and proclaiming the truth about himself and God the father.  He told the parable about this.
The house was swept clean and put in order but because many of the house of Israel him, the blessings they had received would turn into curses. Jerusalem had been “swept clean” by Christ’s ministry and so now it was a great place for spirit to take up residence. This prophecy by Jesus did indeed come to pass as alluded to in Revelation.


"She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit." (Revelation 18:2)

Historically we see the effect of this as the Jewish people at that time lost all restraint.  They revolted against the Romans and turned on each other, they were taken over by violence and hatred. To note this is not to be anti-Jewish and I can show this with the following to points.  1.  This was just for the Jews of that generation that rejected Jesus.  2.  All the earliest people who accepted Jesus were also Jews and they were filled with the Holy Spirit not evil spirits.

What Jesus did next was to order from his position in heaven the destruction of Jerusalem.

The application for today of this prophetic interpretation of these verses:  

When a society tries to clean up its act morally and ethically it is doomed to failure without the Holy Spirit.  Especially when, as with that generation of Jews at the time of Jesus, many in a country today have had the opportunity to accept Jesus.  And when that nation has had Christianity as part of its culture and rejected Christianity, just as Israel had the Scriptures and the Prophets and the Temple and rejected Jesus' authority: Judgement will fall.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Would you rather be open minded?


Would you rather be open-minded or narrow-minded? A quick check of the synonyms reveals the essential difference between those two terms. If you are open-minded, you are accepting, tolerant, observant, unbiased and understanding. But if you are narrow-minded, you are bigoted, conservative, hidebound, opinionated, reactionary and intolerant. Let’s all be open-minded!

But is that always a good idea. Herschel Hobbs, the preacher and theologian, said this:
“No sane person wants a banker who says that two plus two equals three. We do not want a pharmacist who just throws together any drugs that may suit his fancy. We want him to follow exactly the doctor’s prescription. This is true narrow-mindedness. We commend this quality in lesser matters-finances and health. But many condemn it in matters of religion.”

If it’s narrow-minded and intolerant to claim that Jesus is the only way to God, then Jesus himself must have been narrow-minded and intolerant, because that’s exactly what he claimed about himself (see, for example, Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him and John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.). Jesus also claimed to be the Son of God from heaven and that only those who believe in him will have eternal life. Yet when we read the four Gospels, we don’t encounter a narrow-minded, intolerant, arrogant man. Rather, we see a wide-hearted, selfless, and humble man, full of grace and compassion toward others.


Where God has spoken, his truth is not up for debate. We don’t debate “Do not murder” or “Salvation is found in no one else” or “Abstain from sexual immorality.” We believe that Jesus meant it when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

In Revelation 2:12-17, Christ confronted a congregation that had become too open-minded for its own good:

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

“I know where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practice fornication. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.We need to hear what our Lord says because many churches today find themselves in the same position."

Christians are to be narrow-minded about God’s truth: God has spoken in his Word and that his Word is to be obeyed, not debated.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happiness, forgiveness of sins and roof vandalism

In an article that appeared in U.S.A. Today, December 10, 2002 titled “Psychologists Now Know What Makes You Happy,” writer Marilyn Elias discovered a not-so surprising fact: “Forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness.” If forgiveness is tied that strongly to happiness, perhaps some of the ideas we have grown up with need to be thrown away. We tend to associate happiness with education, success, good health, and so forth. Not that those things are unimportant, but forgiveness is the single most important trait that leads to happiness.

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”


The house, the one that had a large hole dug in it, was probably Jesus' own house.  He had moved to Capernaum from Nazareth; the point of the first two verses is that when Jesus returned from his short preaching trip around the neighbouring villages, he found crowds pressing around the door as though he were a movie star of well-know footballer.   Jesus himself was the unlucky householder  who had his roof ruined that day.  This opens up quite a new possibility for understanding what Jesus said to the paralysed man  How would you feel if someone made a hole in your roof? But Jesus looks down  and says, with a rueful smile, "“Son, your sins are forgiven.” At that point, everybody went quiet.   Something in the way he sad it made them realise that this forgiveness went deep than mere domestic disputes.    Jesus was speaking with an authority that went down to the paralysed mans inner being.  The religious types were there and began to debate the matter.  They grumbled, cleared their throats and said, “This is blasphemy. Who can forgive sins but God?” The answer is only God can forgive sins and only priests could declare that forgiveness.  "If that's what the man needed, his friends should take him to the Temple in Jerusalem, not to some wandering preacher," they might say.

What is the relationship among sin, sickness, and forgiveness?  Forgiveness from God, removes sin and allows healing from sickness.

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