Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Testament Lessons 91-100

New Testament- Lesson 91

Matthew Chapter 12 - Part 4

Deliverance for a demon possessed man, false accusations and Jesus' teachings on spiritual warfare-Read (Matthew 12:22-29)(Mark 3:23-27)(Luke 11:17-22)

A blind and mute demon possessed man was brought to Jesus who healed the man so that he both saw and spoke and the crowds were amazed and asked, "Could this be the Son of David?" (They knew the Messiah was to come from the lineage of David) (Legally [Through Joseph] and physically [through Mary], Jesus was of the lineage of David). When the Pharisees heard it, they were jealous and said, "This fellow casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Jesus plainly told them that they were the ones who used satanic power and not him; his power over demons came from Almighty God. (Finger of God was an expression used by the magicians of Egypt to describe the plague of lice brought upon the Egyptians by God (Moses and Aaron) which they failed to reproduce by their magic and here Jesus uses the same term.)

Jesus expains the working of Satan's kingdom here saying that he couldn't be using satanic power to drive out one of satan's evil ones (as he did in the case of the blind and mute man), because then satan's kingdom wouldn't stand. Satan's kingdom could stand only if there is unity between it's members.

Finally, Jesus asserted that unless one is more powerful than the enemy, one cannot gain victory over him. "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils." - The demon which had taken possession of the man, making him blind and mute was driven out by a power greater than it, which was in Jesus.


New Testament- Lesson 92

Matthew Chapter 12- Part 5

For Jesus Or against Him; Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (insulting or disrespecting)- Read (Matthew 12:30-32)(Luke 11:23) (Mark 3:28-30)

There is no third group according to Jesus- either one is with him or one is against him i.e. on satan's side. Those who are with him are involved in gathering souls for the kingdom and those who are not with him or against him are involved in scattering souls. A prime example of this was the Pharisees and scribes who were dealing contemptuously with him and working to thwart his setting up the kingdom of God. In the present day scenario, the statement of Jesus (He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad) stays true. If one is with Jesus, he/she will be in the work of gathering souls. One can't stay neutral in this regard.

Mark writes of the scribes accusing Jesus of having an unclean/evil spirit. Addressing this issue, Jesus spoke of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. He said, "....every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him." Calling the Holy Spirit in him an evil spirit amounted to "blasphemy against the Spirit" according to Jesus which has no forgiveness from God.

The Holy Spirit no longer deals with a person who has truly blasphemed him. If a person is still convicted in his/her spirit and soul of sins or unrighteousness, that is a sign that the Holy Spirit is still dealing with him/her and the person has not committed blasphemy against him.


New Testament- Lesson 93

Matthew Chapter 12- Part 6

Make a tree good or bad- (Read Matthew 12:33-37)

Jesus said, "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.", which meant that everyone who heard his teachings had a choice and in our generation as we read or hear the Word of God, we have a choice- to change our inner self; for without that change coming forth, the fruit generated from our lives would be bad. No doubt, it's difficult for one to change oneself without the help of the Holy spirit, but he is always willing to be the Counselor if one permits. When the inner self has been transformed, then the resulting fruit will be good.

Jesus was caustic in his comments regarding the Pharisees and scribes, calling them a brood of vipers who could not say anything good, because their hearts were filled with evil. He said,
"A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." He warned them who opposed him by telling them that they would have to give an account on the day of judgment for every empty word they had spoken. Their words would acquit them or condemn them depending on the fruit their mouths had produced.


New Testament- Lesson 94

Matthew Chapter 12- Part 7

The sign of Jonah- Read (Matthew 12:38-40)(Luke 11:29, 30)

Some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus and asked him to show them a sign. Jesus had done many miracles among the Jews and many of the Pharisees and teachers of the law were eye witnesses to the miracles, yet they wanted him to show them a sign for their pleasure or asking. Jesus did only what the Father told him and he would not do a miracle to satisfy their desire. So he answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Jesus, here, was speaking about his impending death, burial and resurrection, as a sign for the seekers, which they did not probably understand.

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth"- This is a statement that causes confusion because Jesus was not in the grave or tomb for three days and three nights; he was crucified and laid in the tomb on Friday before sunset and he was resurrected on Sunday morning. That would not be "three days and three nights"or 72 hours. For such an event, the crucifixion and death would have to be placed at Thursday but then all the verses in the Gospels concerning the Preparation day (day before sabbath) and Sabbath would go haywire. A likely explanation is that since the Jews consider part of a day as one day, it would be three days-part of Friday, Saturday (the sabbath) and part of Sunday.
It's only Matthew who writes about "the three days and three nights in the heart of the earth".


New Testament- Lesson 95

Matthew Chapter 12- part 8

Jonah & Nineveh, Queen of Sheba & Solomon, Jesus and God's own people- (Read Matthew 12:41-45)

Nineveh was a wicked gentile nation that had no knowledge of or affinity for God Almighty, yet when Jonah (prophet of God) preached to them, they repented of their wickedness. Here was Jesus, the son of God, greater than Jonah, in the midst of his own people but they would not listen or accept what he had to say for their salvation. The Queen of the south (Queen of Sheba), undertook the challenge of travelling far and through difficult terrain to come and listen to Solomon's wisdom, but here was God's own people rejecting the wisdom of God,  Jesus Christ, one greater than Solomon, though he was in their midst.

Jesus compared the Jews of his generation (Israel as a nation) to a person who had been delivered of an impure spirit and it was so for they had almost forsaken idolatry and now free. The driven out spirit, not finding rest because it had lost the one it possessed, decides to return to the person/house (Israel as a nation), but finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order, so it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person/house (Israel as a nation) was worse than at the first. God's own people had become a wicked, adulterous and rebellious generation, which would be condemned by the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South at judgment time.


New Testament- Lesson 96

Matthew Chapter 12- part 9

While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:46-50)

Also read (Mark 3:31-35)& (Luke 8:19-21)

Matthew, Mark & Luke mention the same account of Jesus acknowledging those who do the will of the Father in Heaven to be his mother and his brothers. Jesus was not insulting his own who came to speak with him, but he imparted the fact that he considered those who were doing the will of the Father in Heaven to be his own.


New Testament- Lesson 97

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 1

The Parable of the Sower- Read (Matthew 13:1-23)(Mark 4:1-20) (Luke 8:4-15)

Parable comes from the Greek word "parabole"which means "a placing beside" and is a comparison or illustration.

Matthew Chapter 13 is a chapter of 7 parables through which Jesus taught his followers, matters pertaining to the kingdom of heaven. The parable of the Sower is placed first here by Matthew.
Jesus said, "The sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell by the road, and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the sky devoured it. Other seed fell on the rock, and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other fell amid the thorns, and the thorns grew with it, and choked it. Other fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth a crop, thirty, sixty and one hundred times of what was sown."

His disciples asked him, "What does this parable mean?" Jesus explained....The seed is the word of God. Those by the road are those who hear, then the devil comes, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, who believe for a while, and fall away in time of temptation. That which fell among the thorns, these are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. That in the good ground, these are such as with a honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold to it firmly, and bring forth abundant fruit with patience."

The Sower is Jesus working himself (then) and later (now) through his disciples. 4 groups of people are seen here- The unsaved listener who does not understand and believe, the emotional convert (not truly born again), the carnal believer and the fruit bearing true believer.


New Testament- Lesson 98

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 2

Jesus told another parable... "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 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?' 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?' But he said, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 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." 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." He answered: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 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, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

Except the parable of the sower, the other six parables in this chapter start with the phrase- The kingdom of heaven is like...
Tares, weeds or darnel closely resembles wheat while it is young but can be distinguished later. Sons of the wicked one are the ones who are not truly born again but are found among the sons of the kingdom, having a form of godliness but denying it's power. Jesus ends his explanation of the parable by endowing a blessing on the righteous. Verse 25 says, "while men slept".....most probably them who are to be watchmen for the one who sowed the seed (Son of Man)...not being vigilant enough in prayer to thwart the sowing of tares by the enemy.


New Testament- Lesson 99

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 3

Parable of the mustard seed- Read (Matthew 13:31–32), (Mark 4:30–32), and (Luke 13:18–19)

Jesus told his followers another parable- The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 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. (Matthew 13:31, 32)

There are several varieties of mustard plants. Brassica nigra is a mustard tree that grows to about 10 feet; possibly Jesus was speaking of this tree as the end result of the sowing of a mustard seed. Mustard seed must have been the smallest of seeds in the geographical location that Jesus was in at that time for there are other seeds that are smaller.

The fact here being the growth of the kingdom of heaven. Though the beginnings were small, the kingdom of heaven has expanded mightily. Starting with the work of Jesus and later the first disciples, the power of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has propelled the gospel from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth. Though not all places have been covered as yet, it will be, in God's time.

The birds of the air nesting in the trees branches can signify both believers and unbelievers finding rest, peace and satisfaction from utilizing the resources of the kingdom. Some Bible interpreters however say that the birds can signify the presence of evil pervading the growing healthy tree (the kingdom/church).


New Testament- Lesson 100

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 4

Parable of the Leaven- Read Matthew 13:33, Luke 13:20, 21

Jesus told another parable- "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."

Yeast is very small; after put in the meal/dough it is not usually seen; it works from within quietly and finally it has a great impact influencing the whole dough.

The kingdom of God which started with Jesus and his 12 disciples (small beginnings in Galilee) reaching out in to the world with the good news of salvation, has impacted hundreds of nations in small or great measures (yeast though small working through the dough). By grace a person is saved by the working of the Holy Spirit (again like the working of the dough from within and the work is quiet) and those saved then work within their communities and many more are brought in to the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven, then, is inside the born again believer as well as is  being built outwardly by the gathering of born again believers all over the world as the Church or bride of Christ.

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