Friday, March 19, 2021

True Parables

From a conversation with “Preacher Clark” in the late 1970s.

The one thing that makes any parable true is that the example used in the parable to illustrate the point is true and real.  A parable based on science fiction is worthless.  In his parables, Jesus always used real-life events, such as rainfall, the birth of a child, a man robbed on the road to Jericho, birds not sowing or reaping, rushing water eroding the foundation of a house, and so forth.

This principle, that parables are true only if they are based upon real things, should be remembered when reading this parable from the Lord, found in Luke 16:

19. “There was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, feasting sumptuously every day.

20. And there was a certain beggar by the name of Lazarus, covered with sores, who had been laid at his gate,

21. and he longed to be filled with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.  And dogs even came and licked his sores.

22. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  And then the rich man also died, and was buried,

23. and he, being in torment in hell, lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off, with Lazarus in his bosom.

24. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me!  Send Lazarus so he can dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue!  I am in agony in this flame!’”

If hell is a religious fantasy, as many in our time believe, then this parable is meaningless and Jesus was wasting his breath in telling it.  We all, individually, must decide whether that was the case, or if Jesus was giving us a warning that is worth listening to. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Merciful Warrior

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Matthew 5:7

“I will pursue my enemies and overtake them,

and I will not turn back until they are destroyed.”

Psalm 18:37

The man in Psalm 18:37 doesn’t sound very merciful, does he?  He said he would wage war against his enemies until he destroys every last one of them.  That sounds vicious.

But that man is the Son of God, who is indeed very merciful – toward those who confess their sins and turn to him for mercy.  People who repent and turn to Jesus are not his enemies, and he will never wage war against them.  It is those who rebel against God’s mercy and reject His Son Jesus as their Savior who will be utterly destroyed forever, every last one of them.

It is wiser to repent and receive God’s very great mercy than to refuse His Son and suffer God’s very great wrath.

Monday, March 1, 2021

“A Man”, Not Nicodemus

Now, there was a man of the Pharisees whose name was Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to him by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that you are doing except God be with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a man be born of water and of spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Don’t marvel that I told you, ‘You must be born again’ ” – John 3:1–7.                                                                    

From a sermon by “Preacher Clark” in about 1974

I used to think that Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless you are born of water and of Spirit, you cannot see the kingdom of God,” but in 1974, Preacher Clark pointed out that that was not the case.  He had noticed that Jesus’ message to Nicodemus was only that Nicodemus had to be born again, and the reason for that was that Nicodemus had already been born the first time (“born of water”).  What Jesus told Nicodemus is that “a man” had to be born twice, once naturally and once spiritually.  Nicodemus and his fellow Jews had already been born the first time, obviously.  Therefore, Jesus told him, “You [plural, in Greek] must be born again.”  We might say it like this: “You people [who have been born already] must be born again.”

A man who pays careful attention to the Scriptures, as Preacher Clark did, and is helped by the Spirit to see what is really there, will notice things that the rest of us miss.  How grateful I am to have sat at the feet of such a teacher.  Doing so has saved me more times than I can count from being led off the right path by what I thought the Bible said.