Roman Catholic and Jewish faith: I don’t want to be alone

“I vant to be alone” – Greta Garbo

Regarding the relationship between faith and works, I received the following comment from a Roman Catholic in response to my Piggy-back into heaven: The Roman Catholic “Treasury of Merit.”

The only time in Scripture that the words “faith” and “alone” appear together is when James 2:24 says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone.”
There is no other place in Scripture where these two words appear together. In fact Paul nor any other NT writer ever said, “We are justified by “faith alone.” Paul never uses the words “faith” or “only” in the same sentence either. Paul uses the word “faith” over 200 times in the Bible, but never with the word “alone.” So if James says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone,” what do we do with this verse of Scripture? Do we just ignore it and continue on with what we want to believe, or what?

First let me get this shoo this canard away: “There is no other place in Scripture where these two words appear together.” And, where does the word “trinity” appear at all, never mind once, in the Bible. As for the assumption of Mary, and indeed the word “purgatory: – nada. That, of course, is not an issue with Roman Catholic theology for the reason that it posits two strands of divine revelation: scripture and tradition.

canard

Now to whether the concept of “faith alone” is in the Bible.

Romans 3:28

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

The biblical view of “faith” is summed up in Ephesians 2:8-10 [my square brackets and italics]:

For by grace you have been saved through faith [in Christ]. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them [be faithful in them). (See Christian and Jewish faith)

But, if Pope Francis is your guide, why bother with the distinction between faith (in Christ) and works at all. Indeed, why bother about faith. Francis is famous for his loving kindness. It lies at the heart of Judaism, going back to Adam himself. The Jewish view is that as long as Adam was alive, God wanted to have an interaction with him. He knew that Adam had the capacity to sin, God knew it was going to happen. That was part of Adam’s struggle. That’s what God wanted. So after Adam made a mistake, God demanded him to love kindness. To love kindness, that’s a state of being that we have constantly to grow into. Adam could certainly have loved kindness more than He did. (Sin in Adam and his descendants).

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the road to salvation is festooned with acts of loving kindness. It may be, said the Rebbe, your one tiny act of kindness that may bring Messiah (Moshiach). Pope Francis has much in common with Judaism, if not with the real Saint Francis: it’s all about loving kindness, says Pope Francis; salvation is all about loving kindness – good works. Justification (reconciliation with God) says Pope Francis, is no longer about faith AND good works, but solely about works – opera solum (if my Latin is any good). You can be an atheist, says Pope Francis, on condition that you’re good and kind. Well that is what I read on the internet, so it must be true.”

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The Holy Father is full of surprises, born of true and faithful humility. On Wednesday he declared that all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through Jesus, even atheists. However, he did emphasize there was a catch. Those people must still do good. In fact, it is in doing good that they are led to the One who is the Source of all that is good. In essence he simply restated the hope of the Church that all come to know God, through His Son Jesus Christ.”

The Vatican, it seems is alarmed, at best; no wonder, because Pope Francis is trashing Trent. Here is Trent:

Session 6, Chapter 8

[I)t is most truly said that faith without works is dead and of no profit, and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity [love].”

Here is how Pope Francis would, I suggest, rework Trent for the loving atheist:

It is most truly said that an atheist without works is dead and will remain dead….unless he worketh by love.” (See Atheism without works is dead, says Pope Francis: Who cares?).

As for the Apostle James’s “faith without works is dead”:

“[W]hen Paul says that a person is justified by faith without works (Rom 3:28), his context makes it clear that he defines faith as something more than passive assent to a viewpoint; he defines it as a conviction that Christ is our salvation, a conviction on which one actively stakes one’s life (Rom 1:5). James declares that one cannot be justified by faith without works (James 2:14)—because he uses the word “faith” to mean mere assent that something is true (2:19), he demands that such assent be actively demonstrated by obedience to show that it is genuine (2:18). In other words, James and Paul use the word “faith” differently, but do not contradict one another on the level of meaning. If we ignore context and merely connect different verses on the basis of similar wording, we will come up with contradictions in the Bible that the original writers would never have imagined. (“Biblical Interpretation” by Craig Keener).

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes:

4 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (See Faith and Jerks…).

So, are we justified by faith alone where works are its fruit, or we justified by faith and works? I think my Roman Catholic blogger needs to rework, if not reword, his comment. And if you want to eschew those canards, let context be your guide.

Understanding understanding: using you loaf

Whether you are an atheist, agnostic, Christian or whatever, you presuppose you are able to understand – at least this sentence.

In Christian apologetics, there are two main schools: the evidentialists and the presuppositionalists. Both agree that God gave us a loaf and expects us to use it, for you can’t assent to something that has not initially passed through your loaf. . They disagree, however, on how we go about using it. The evidentialist says there are three stages in coming to faith in Christ: 1. Information (notitia) 2. Intellectual assent (assensus) and 3. Trust (fiducia). The presuppositionalist agrees that you need all three. The two schools differ in the following regard. I use a verse from scripture to illustrate:

1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

The pesupposionalist says:

(Note: “This,” which begins the second sentence, refers grammatically to the immediate antecedent, namely, “his Son Jesus Christ.”

The reason we (Christians) understand his Son Jesus Christ to be the true God is because the Father decreed from eternity that we would understand it – providing us with the means of the three stages of notitia, assensus and fiducia.

How do I know that God decreed that some would use their loaf in the right way, how do I justify the presupposition that God decrees everything? You’re asking me to prove this presupposition. This presupposes that presuppositions can be proved. Atheists presuppose the “laws” of nature because, they say, THAT is the way nature has evolved; I presuppose the God of the Bible because the Bible says THAT is the way I was created.

Romans 1:14-21
I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

To put it gently, reject Romans 1,  you’re toast.

“I am determined to get well”: Yep, you are – to get well or not to.

“Happy enough is the man who is chosen of God; he may not ask a question as to when or where. Yet we could wish it were otherwise in our case, and that zeal and fervour were not restrained and hampered by being yoked to painful infirmities of the flesh. We could do more, and we think we may add, without self-confidence, we would do more, if we were not laid prostrate at the very moment when our work requires our presence. However, unto the Lord be the arrangement of our health or disease, our life or our death ; but while we live, we will leave no stone unturned for the increase of His glorious Kingdom “in the earth. Every interval of relief shall be laid out in His service. The time is short, it must therefore be spent all the more economically; the work is great, the Lord must be trusted the more simply.”

Excerpt from the Introduction by Thomas Spurgeon, son of Charles Spurgeon, of C. H. (Charles Haddon). “Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon compiled from his diary, letters and records by his wife and his private secretary.” Passmore and Alabaster, 1900. Free ebook https://archive.org/details/autobiographyofc04inspur.

One of my Christian relatives was in an accident and will be restricted in movement for a while. She feels, naturally, frustrated, and is determined to get well quickly. She is determined, but, as she is an Arminian (and thus has a thin understanding of the decrees of God), what she means by “determined” is not what the Bible means.

Christians of all stripes who know their Bible have a tendency to forget or no longer trust:

Romans 8:28
And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

Or don’t understand or appreciate the reason for their existence:

Romans 8:38-39
38 I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The dying: Let them go gently into the night?

Christians, when last have you heard a sermon in your church about hell? If never, you have – although you might think not – been cheated, and your pastor will have much to answer for, even if at death he and you feel yourselves going gently into “that night.”

When I was living in England in a little hamlet, I attended briefly an Anglican church. After church, I was chatting with the priest who said he couldn’t talk long because he had to visit one of his dying parishioners. Being one daring you-know-what, I asked him what he was going to say to her. He replied “I meet her where she is at.” I asked whether he was going to find out if she was ready to die, that is, whether she was“in the faith.” He said, no, he tries to make them feel at peace. I ticked him off, and said, that a priest should do more than that. He scampered off. I am reminded of Mother Teresa who said that she helped her dying patients to reconcile with their gods, which any atheist would laud if not Lord.

In the biography Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, she is quoted by Desmond Doig as follows: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. … What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one’s conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept” (Doig, Mother Teresa, Harper & Row, 1976, p. 156). And in the April 7-13, 1990, issue of Radio Times tells the story of Mother Teresa sheltering an old Hindu priest.“She nursed him with her own hands and helped him to die and be reconciled with his own gods.”

And of Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life; the saviour of the world? Not a word.

When Mother Teresa died, her long-time friend and biographer Naveen Chawla said that he once asked her bluntly, “Do you convert?” She replied, “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him” (“Mother Teresa Touched Other Faiths,” Associated Press, Sept. 7, 1997).

I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic” (Mother Teresa’s A Simple path, p. 31).

(See Mother Teresa: The missing peace of the puzzle).

My friend, who does not believe in Christ, is dying. With so much killing going on in this wicked world, I need to remind myself that most of the more than 150 000 deaths during the last 24 hours occurred in a bed of some sort.

Most people, whether they believe they are going to heaven or not, fear death. Many put it this way: “I don’t fear death; I fear dying (in pain).” Then there are those who have had near-death experiences, often on an operating table, where they saw “this beauiful light,” and, as a result no more fear of death or judgment. Thank you my Angel of Light (Lucifer).

How terrifying for someone to fall into the hands of God; and what unutterable sweetness to fall into His arms.

We must, says Charles Spurgeon, be very earnest with our own hearts this morning, to discover, if possible, whether we come under the number of those whose warfare is accomplished, and whose sin is pardoned; or whether, on the other hand, we abide with the multitude on whom resteth the curse of God, and whose sins shall be discovered and punished by the right-hand of the Most High.” (A message from God to thee – Charles Spurgeon).

(See also “Death-bed memoirs: The hands and the arms of God”).

The Bible says (frequently in the letters of Paul) that to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” Christians are born of God (born again), which entails that Christ lives – through the Holy Spirit – in them. Once regenerated (quickened, raised to spiritual life), believers are enabled and therefore can choose the good things of God. If, though, believers don’t only want to be in Christ but also WITH Christ, this means they want seeking a better place and can’t wait to get there. Here is the Apostle Paul: Philippians 1:21-23 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” 

(See Jeremy Walker, in his “Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ,” where he discusses the difference between being in Christ and with Christ, where “the anticipation of the dying saint” is to be with the Lord. See also “In Christ and with Christ: I wanna be with you-hoo-hoo.”).

We Christians should not fear suffering and death. Yet we do. But when we do,

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, For your sake we are being killed all the day long;  we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Another friend – contra Dylan Thomas, beseeched me to let my dying friend go gently into the night.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Death-bed conversions: Lord, have mercy on my dying friend

Do the sick who are dying think more about their eternal destiny than do the healthy? Not at all. Death-bed conversions are as rare as hen’s teeth. “Rare” as hen’s teeth? Are there any hens with teeth. “If there are, you say, it must be a mutant.” True.

“If you thought hen’s teeth were the rarest thing in nature, think again: researchers from Britain and the US have succeeded in growing teeth in a chicken…And by studying a mutant chicken – which is too weak to hatch, explaining its rarity – the team has been able to stimulate “natural” tooth growth in chickens.”

A genetic mutation is “the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form which may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.”

The Bible says that “if you live according to the flesh (your human nature), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Everyone dies physically, but the death referred to here is an eternal death, an eternal living death.

Here is the context of this verse:

Romans 8
Life Through the Spirit

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,
4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.
13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

If you’ve never believed the above in the days of your health, it is unlikely that you will believe this on your death-bed. The only way anyone comes to believe in Christ is analogous to a genetic mutation – a rare bird indeed. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

If this is true, why does the Bible also say that there are at least 100 million people in heaven. Well, that’s not relatively many out of a population of many tens of billions that will have populated the earth by the time Jesus returns.

But to return to our (relatively) rare mutant hens:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Jesus speaking in Matthew 23:37).

Jesus is rebuking the Jewish leaders for preventing the people from coming to Him, but their efforts will be in vain. Those who come to (believe in) Jesus were given to Him by the Father before time began. And those who are given to Jesus will receive eternal life.

Matthew 23

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Do those whom Jesus saves cause this mutation within themselves? In other words did they decide to grow teeth, which enabled them to bite through their opposition to God-Christ? Of course not. It is Jesus who designs and engineers this spiritual mutation in human nature. It is He who enables those He saves to understand that “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 above).

“If your friend dies in her sins, you ask, why didn’t God show Himself to her?” Because, I answer, “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

If my friend understood the Bible, and trusted Jesus, she would be saved. You may ask “if those that the Father gives to Jesus before they were even born are the only ones that Jesus will give the desire to come to him, how can Christ blame your dying friend if she was not given to Jesus before she was born?”

Does my friend want to trust Jesus as her saviour? If yes, then she was given to Jesus by the Father. Therefore, no person that wants to trust Jesus will ever be excluded.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on my dying friend.

Will my prayer induce God to save my friend? Perhaps. It’s God’s business what he does with the means he has chosen (for example, prayer and the Bible) to fulfil his ends (salvation). He has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy.

You want nothing to do with a God like that, you say? Let every mouth be mute.

To live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Related: The Only Way to Live and Die
Speaker: Dr. Joel Beeke
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=712151949551

Getting the wrong end of the stick: Who’s responsible

The evil powers is the only explanation of the world as it is today and has been through history. The greastest conflict in human history is the conflict between good and evil. The Bible is a record of that confict.

Ephesians 6

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Human history begins with the Fall of man. The world became the kingdom of satan, and satan became the god of this world. We are all born as children of wrath, slaves of the devil. Popular thinking ridicules this. The god of this world has increased the blindness. In this regard, I examine a few relevant biblical texts:

Matthew 13

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

Though seeing, they do not see;
 though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
 you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I isolate the verses in italics – Matthew 13:12-13, 16-19, and focus on the underlined words related to “understanding (seeing, hearing).”

12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.

Commentary

Verse 12 – The one who has little understanding will have even less, and the one with much understanding will have more. Verse 16 – The disciples understood what the most exalted prophet or righteous person of the past had never understood. The disciples were “blessed” with this understanding, that is, it didn’t come from themselves but from God.

In Verse 18, “what was sown in the heart” the “evil one” snatches away? I understand this to mean that the devil steals what is little understood – “does not understand it” in verse 18. Recall verse 12 “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” The reason for this is that everyone born into this world is a child of God’s wrath; love it or hate it.

No one – who believes in the devil – will dispute the fact that his intention is to to steal and destroy “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). What might raise not a few hackles is that God (also) comes to kill and destroy. Our focus is on the destruction/obstruction of understanding. Here is Isaiah immediately after his devastating vision of the Lord:

Isaiah 6

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
 be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ (Matthew 13 above quoted Isaiah 6:9).

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
 hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Above, I bracketed “also”: “God (also) comes to kill and destroy,” because God decrees/ordains all that comes to pass. Understanding (God decrees and all things) is of the Lord. And misunderstanding? This is of Satan, under God’s decree. The understanding of God’s sovereignty over both good and evil comes from God.

Two good resources:

Genesis 3 and the entrance of evil
http://www.oddinthetruth.com/genesis-3-entrance-evil/

Genesis 3 and the author of evil

http://www.oddinthetruth.com/genesis-3-author-evil-god-blame/

The significance of being a prosperous vile worm: A preacher at Whitney Houston’s funeral service

One Methodist pastor told me that sermons on sin were the old days and people need to be encouraged rather than be condemned. Besides, he said, many of his congregation are either elderly, sick or hurting in one way or another. What they needed was a boost of their image (not his exact words). They need to be told that when God looks at them, he jumps with delight (his words). (See And he opened to them the scriptures: a harsh sermon).

At the beginning of the sermon at the funeral service of Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, Feb. 18, 2012, the “Prosperity Gospel” preacher started off by saying that he is going to preach the Gospel. Whoopee, that’s the stuff. Alas, he then said “Look at somebody and say ‘I’m significant.’” Yeah, you are so wonderful; that is why God saved you. Later on he said, “I don’t want anyone to leave here broke…You know there are lots of folks who say ‘I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel.’ I don’t know what other Gospel there is.” So God has a great plan for your life – to make it significantly prosperous – in the moola department – in front of Whitney’s coffin, who had it all. She got lost in the health and prosperity of it all. (See Wretched TV – With Todd Friel – Whitney Houston’s Funeral – Prosperity Gospel?

So, this asinine individual has told you that God has a great plan for your life. You poor sod. There was one “who was aroused to concern during his (Robert Murray M’Cheyne) sermon on “Unto whom coming as unto a living stone.” As he spoke of the Father taking the gem out of his bosom, and laying it down for a foundation-stone, she felt in her soul, “I know nothing of this precious stone; I am surely not converted.” This led her to come and speak with him. She was not under deep conviction; but before going away, he said, “You are a poor, vile worm; it is a wonder the earth does not open and swallow you up.”

If this wretched woman, who knew her spiritual poverty and thus nothing of this “precious stone,” is called “vile worm,” what shall we call this preacher for whom the Gospel was precious lolly. At best another “vile worm?”PREACHER WHITNEY HOUSTON FUNERAL

What happened after Robert Murray M’Cheyne called this woman a “vile worm?”

These words were blessed to produce a very awful sense of sin. She came a second time with the arrows of the Almighty drinking up her spirit. For three months she remained in this state, till having once more come to him for counsel, the living voice of Jesus gave life to her soul while he was speaking of Christ’s words, “If thou knewest the gift of God,” etc., and she went away rejoicing.” (The biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar).

What was it that Whitney Houston, that prosperity pastor and those he preached to needed to know? The true Gospel of Jesus Christ, where we must, says Paul Washer, not begin with man but with “the character of God. Who is He? He is righteous God. Man is the complete opposite of righteousness.” “The most horrifying news according to the scriptures,” says washer, is that “God is good” and “we are not.” “The problem is this: if God is righteous he cannot pardon. His righteousness must be satisfied. I hear these evangelists say, ‘instead of God being just with you, he is loving.'”

Washer continues:

“God cannot lay down one attribute in favor of another. And so for God to pardon a wicked people, he must firsts satisfy the demands of his own justice. He must be appeased…In pagan religions, the deity demands that re people appease his wrath; in Christianity, this righteous God becomes a man, walks on this earth, lives a perfect life, the sins of his people are imputed to Him, and He crushed under the justice the people deserves. Our God appeased Himself. Our God satisfied His own righteousness on that tree. And that is why the Gospel is so splendid… (Jesus) was crushed under the wrath of God.”

And William Symington:

The Lord our God is holy. He is free from every vestige of moral pollution ; he delights in whatever is pure ; he hates whatever is of an opposite character. Now, sin is opposed to the holiness of God ; it is essentially impure, filthy, abominable. It follows that it is the object of his supreme detestation ; he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. But how can this be made to appear, without the punishment of sin ? It is not enough that a penalty be annexed to transgressions, that a threat be appended to the violation of his law; if the penalty is not inflicted, if the threat is not executed, there is still room left to suppose that sin is not the abominable thing that was supposed; the blasphemous thought may nevertheless spring up in the bosom of moral creatures, that God, after all, approves of sin, and secretly connives at the commission of it. To vindicate the holiness of the divine character, the penalty annexed to disobedience must be executed. But its being executed on the transgressor is incompatible with the transgressor’s being forgiven. To the pardon of sin, then, consistently with the purity of God, the punishment must fall on the sinner’s substitute. In other words, the divine holiness proclaims the necessity of Christ’s atonement. Thus, and thus alone, can the sinner be saved without sin being palliated, or the perfect moral purity of the Holy One being sullied.”

Excerpt From: Symington, William, 1795-1862. “On the atonement and intercession of Jesus Christ.” New York : Robert Carter, 1847.

Only a remnant of modern professing Christians accept Washer’s and Symington’s words.

Related: Twisting God’s word: forgiveness and the sin nature Adrian Stanley, Helmut Thielicke, Joel Osteen and Rabbi Hirsch to the rescue.