You can understand dirt and weeds

Some of Jesus’ sayings and parables are baffling at first glance. When we first hear Jesus characterize citizens of his kingdom as impoverished, sorrowful, happy-to-be-persecuted beggars, we might be confused. When he told people to eat his flesh and drink his blood – a metaphor for absorbing Jesus’ life and teachings into themselves – many followers were disgusted and left him (John 6:66).

How do we comprehend these things? How do we better understand Jesus’ words? Continue reading “You can understand dirt and weeds”

Saints do not have horns

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

Followers of Christ are forbidden from blasting our horns – doing our good works to be seen of men (Matthew 6:1).

Yet, Jesus also encouraged his disciples to illuminate the world, “that they may see your good works” (Matthew 5:16). Is this a contradiction? Continue reading “Saints do not have horns”

History’s Mysteries, Revealed (2)

“The time is fulfilled…the kingdom is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

(the previous article in this series can be found here)

Just recently, this writer attended a funeral of an 82-year old woman. Among other qualities and talents, she was a quilt-maker. She made over 50 beautiful and personalized quilts for her loved ones during her life. Many were made entirely by hand. Many of them were on display near the casket.

Like some people, she had previously related to her family a few preferences for her funeral, like her favorite passage of Scripture. But she had a rather unique wish as well: she hoped it would snow on the day of her burial. As uncomfortable as this would be for her attendees, she hoped that they might all gather ’round the grave site, wrapped in the quilts she gave them. Continue reading “History’s Mysteries, Revealed (2)”

History’s mysteries, revealed (1)

“The time is fulfilled…the kingdom is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

In each of the gospels, there is a first recorded utterance in the public ministry of Jesus. John and Luke provide interesting complements: “What are you seeking?” (John 1:38), and, “Why were you looking for me?” (Luke 2:49).

Matthew and Mark also complement one another. They record the crux of the Messiah’s message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Continue reading “History’s mysteries, revealed (1)”

Logically right but spiritually wrong

“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7).

Following Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my beloved son” (Matthew 3:17). Immediately afterward, Jesus was taken to the wilderness to fast and be tested 40 days.

Satan tempted him there. His temptations all began with, “If you are the son of God…” He began with something that seemed perfectly reasonable: make stones into bread and feed yourself.

Men easily err when they think of what is perfectly reasonable to them, but fail to consult God. Why not turn stones to bread? He had the power. He had the opportunity. Continue reading “Logically right but spiritually wrong”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 7)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 7)

Three passages are critical to our understanding of the miracles about which our New Testament speaks. One of them is the passage above, with which this series of articles began, and around which it is based. The other two will be discussed below.

This being the final of a 7-part series, we will give a brief summary of the previous articles. We have thus far argued that: Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 7)”

Snakes, demons and gasoline (part 6)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 6)

(This article is part of a continuing series. The previous article can be found here).

What, if any, limitations did God put upon miracles, according to the Scripture? We noted in the previous article that miracles were certainly limited in that only apostles could confer miraculous gifts to others.

But someone might respond, “If there are still apostles living today, then miraculous gifts could still be exercised and passed on by them.”

The Mormon religion, for example, believes that there are modern-day apostles. If this was the case, then it would seem at least possible for miracles to be both performed and passed on by the laying on of their hands. Could this be true? Continue reading “Snakes, demons and gasoline (part 6)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 5)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 5)

(This article is part of a continuing series. The previous article can be found here).

As we now turn our attention to the duration of miracles, we must first note some other significant limitations about the miracles recorded in the early days of the church:

Miracles were limited to apostolic ministry.

In the book of Acts – which records the early weeks (chapters 1-7), months (8-9), and years (10-28) of the church’s existence – there are numerous miracles recorded. Without fail, aside from those worked directly by God, these miracles were wrought either by (1) an apostle, or (2) someone on whom an apostle had laid hands. But did those on whom the apostles laid hands confer this gift to others? Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 5)”