Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Parable of the Two Sons

Matthew 21:28-32 (KJV)
28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

This parable doesn't need much explanation for us to comprehend Yeshua's meaning. The son that actually worked in his father's vineyard was the son that did his father's will. In the same way, it was the publicans and harlots who turned from their sins in repentance who did God the Father's will, rather than the religious leaders of the day who claimed to be faithful, yet failed to carry out John the Baptist's message of repentance.

Although the message is simple, we sometimes lose the gist because of the words. Repentance and belief are two of those words that can cause us to have a false understanding. Too often, due to our heritage of Greek-like thinking, repentance has come to mean a change in thought. Likewise, believing is viewed as something that occurs in our minds, but doesn't necessarily have any action associated with it. However, repentance and belief, in a Biblical (Jewish) sense are always action dependent. Basically, there is no repentance unless there is a change away from sinful behavior. There is also no belief unless it is accompanied by actions that are consistent with belief.

When we read Matthew 21:28-32 it is obvious that God's will is done when we respond obediently. This is our duty as believers. Otherwise, we are not believers. This same idea is expressed in the book of James.

James 2:20 (KJV)
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

If the church rightly viewed repentance and belief as action words, would there be a difference in our influence and success in bringing the message of Yeshua to a hurting and dying world?  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV)
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

In reading Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, the topics discussed seem to be somewhat random. Right after the Beatitudes there is a paragraph on how believers are to be salt and light to the world. Then after that the topic switches to Yeshua's discussion of His fulfillment of the Torah. These seemingly unrelated ideas are then difficult to study in any kind of cohesive manner.

However, in further review, I found that Matthew's choice of topics did in fact demonstrate a systematized arrangement. I also found that there was more to salt and light than what is normally taught.

The Beatitudes convey attitudes like meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity, and peacefulness, that should be cultivated in our walk with the Lord. But more importantly, they speak about how this fallen world's less than desirable conditions will be righted in the Millennial Kingdom. The poor in spirit will receive the Kingdom of Heaven, the mourners will be comforted, and those that hunger after righteousness will be filled.

While believers wait for the coming Kingdom of God and Yeshua's righteous rule, we are to be salt and light. Salt is a preservative. It heals and cleans. In like manner believers are to read the Word of God, grow in the Word, pray, spread the good news of the Gospel of Yeshua, and stand for Biblical principles. We are to be light by shining forth our good works, to reach the lost, and to show the path to salvation.

But why did Yeshua use two examples? Is there a difference between being salt and being light? I found a clue in Isaiah 49.

Isaiah 49:6 (KJV)
6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Isaiah spoke about raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the preserved of Israel. Paul, likewise, in Romans 11 mentioned the remnant of Israel and her future salvation.

Romans 11:5 (KJV)
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Romans 11:26 (KJV)
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

Paul even spoke about the kernel of truth and understanding that the Jews have, which the Gentiles do not.

Romans 9:4 (KJV)
4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

The Jews need preservation. Believers are to be salt to the Jews.

On the other hand, Gentiles don't have the foundation that the Jews have. They are the ones that need the light of which Isaiah was referring. Believers are to be light to the Gentiles.

In truth, Matthew 5:13-16 is an introduction to the believers' dual purpose of being salt and light.. This then serves as an introduction to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, how believers are to fulfill that dual purpose. There was method to Matthew's apparent random topics after all!