This Biblical Christianity website encourages people to know and to live, God’s Word; thus enabling us to live now as God intended for us to live, and preparing us for eternal life in God’s kingdom.
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MATTHEW 24:4-14.... Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place; all this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].
9Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, but he who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end.
All the confusion and deception evident in Christendom today should make us aware of the importance of making sure that what we are being told and believe about salvation is according to what God has told us in His Word. Jesus gave us (below) four examples of how people hear and respond to the presentation of the Gospel, hopefully they will help us to discover what we believe and the present condition that we are in. For further study of this important subject we are planning to examination the first eight chapters of the book of Romans.
MATTHEW 13:1-23.... THAT SAME day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting beside the sea. But such great crowds gathered about Him that He got into a boat and remained sitting there, while all the throng stood on the shore.
3And He told them many things in parables (stories by way of illustration and comparison), saying, A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil; and at once they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they dried up and withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them out. Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain--some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing.
10Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables? And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is the reason that I speak to them in parables: because having the power of seeing, they do not see; and having the power of hearing, they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand. In them indeed is the process of fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: You shall indeed hear and hear but never grasp and understand; and you shall indeed look and look but never see and perceive. For this nation's heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them. [Isa. 6:9,10.] But blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men [men who were upright and in right standing with God] yearned to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
18Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside. As for what was sown on thin (rocky) soil, this is he who hears the Word and at once welcomes and accepts it with joy; yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and grasps and comprehends it; he indeed bears fruit and yields in one case a hundred times as much as was sown, in another sixty times as much, and in another thirty.
When Jesus was asked why He spoke to the people in parables, He responded by saying, "To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given." He also told them, "For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away." What was different about those who followed after Jesus and became His disciples and the people who didn’t? Jesus said on another occasion, "If any man desires to do His will (God's pleasure), he will know (have the needed illumination to recognize, and can tell for himself) whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority" (John 7:17). Here then was the difference between those who would be given the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of God and those who wouldn’t – the ones who had a desire to actually do the will of God would receive. So, Jesus used parables to separate these two groups of people, those who had a desire to do the will of God would follow after Jesus and ask and receive additional information, just as the disciples were doing at this time, the others would just fall away or follow loosely.
It is very evident from this Scripture and Romans that it is with our hearts that we grasp, understand and accept the Gospel message, "Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10). A container that is full cannot receive anything else, therefore, we may find it necessary to turn loose or repent of some things that may be filling our hearts and using our time and thus taking the place that God’s message of salvation should occupy.
Before the Gospel can take root in our hearts, we have to understand it, and the more thoroughly we understand it the deeper and more firmly rooted or intrenched it becomes. The first person didn’t understand it at all and so he was never affected by it. The second person understood it a little better but when he experienced difficulty living as he should he chooses to desert Christ and he fell away. The third person may represent most people that call themselves Christians; he is more concerned about the things of this world than he is about living for Christ. Jesus didn’t say that he fell away, but that he didn’t produce anything of value to the Kingdom of God. It is the fourth person that lives the good life and produces as he should.
Upon examining the four heart conditions as mentioned above and the following passages, we may find that the condition that we are in at the present time is preventing us from understanding the Gospel message as clearly as we would like to, and should also suggest or point us to how we may correct this.
MATTHEW 3:1-11.... IN THOSE days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness (Desert) of Judea and saying, Repent ( think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is he who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness (shouting in the desert), Prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight (level, direct). [Isa. 40:3.] This same John's garments were made of camel's hair, and he wore a leather girdle about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. [Lev. 11:22; 2 Kings 1:8; Zech. 13:4.]
5Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country round about the Jordan went out to him; and they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of God against disobedience] that is coming? Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]; and do not presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham for our forefather; for I tell you, God is able to raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones! And already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
MATTHEW 4:12-17.... Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested and put in prison, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the country of Zebulun and Naphtali – that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be brought to pass: The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, in the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles [of the peoples who are not of Israel] – [Isa. 9:1-2.] the people who sat (dwelt enveloped) in darkness have seen a great Light, and for those who sat in the land and shadow of death Light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach, crying out, Repent ( change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-11.... Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God. And such some of you were [once]. But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified [pronounced righteous, by trusting] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God.
ACTS 19:8-20.... And he went into the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, persuading and arguing and pleading about the kingdom of God. But when some became more and more stubborn (hardened and unbelieving), discrediting and reviling and speaking evil of the Way [of the Lord] before the congregation, he separated himself from them, taking the disciples with him, and went on holding daily discussions in the lecture room of Tyrannus from about ten o'clock till three. This continued for two years, so that all the inhabitants of [the province of] Asia, Jews as well as Greeks, heard the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God].
11And God did unusual and extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or towels or aprons which had touched his skin were carried away and put upon the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists (men who adjure evil spirits) also undertook to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, I solemnly implore and charge you by the Jesus Whom Paul preaches! seven sons of a certain Jewish chief priest named Sceva were doing this. But [one] evil spirit retorted, Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you? Then the man in whom the evil spirit dwelt leaped upon them, mastering two of them, and was so violent against them that they dashed out of that house [in fear], stripped naked and wounded.
17This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, and alarm and terror fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled and magnified. Many also of those who were now believers came making full confession and thoroughly exposing their [former deceptive and evil] practices. And many of those who had practiced curious, magical arts collected their books and [throwing them, book after book, on the pile] burned them in the sight of everybody. When they counted the value of them, they found it amounted to 50,000 pieces of silver ( about $9,300). Thus the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] grew and spread and intensified, prevailing mightily.
Some of the things to note from the preceding Scriptures are: The importance of the preacher faithfully proclaiming the Word of God; the importance of the hearer being ready to reject sinful living in order to receive the message; and when there is true repentance and the people get rid of their idols and superstitions, the Word of God produces the effects that God desires.
Therefore, we need to pray and search the Bible daily to see if we have been told the truth according to God’s Word, and at the same time search our hearts to see if there is anything we are holding onto that Jesus would have us to discard. If we neglect these duties or privileges, how will we be able to know for sure that we have not been deceived? This is also the way that we are enabled to more fully benefit from His marvelous grace and to know Him more intimately.
2 PETER 3:14-18.... So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]. And consider that the long-suffering of our Lord [His slowness in avenging wrongs and judging the world] is salvation ( that which is conducive to the soul's safety), even as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the spiritual insight given him, speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures. Let me warn you therefore, beloved, that knowing these things beforehand, you should be on your guard, lest you be carried away by the error of lawless and wicked [persons and] fall from your own [present] firm condition [your own steadfastness of mind]. But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him [be] glory (honor, majesty, and splendor) both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (so be it)!
The following quote is from the ‘Daily Bible Readings’ of the Institute for Creation Research and written by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).
To be "converted" can mean many things. The Greek word simply means to "turn" or "change directions." Christian conversion, however, refers to turning away from the whole world system and turning to God through Christ. Similarly, to "repent," in the Greek, means essentially to "think differently" and, in a Christian context, to change one’s whole thought process from worldly reasoning to spiritual, as centered in Christ and the Scriptures. Genuine Christian repentance and conversion result in having one’s "sins . . . blotted out" and thus true "times of refreshing" from the Lord.
But without real repentance and conversion, there is no salvation. Jesus said: ". . . except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5), and He also said: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).
There are, sad to say, multitudes of men and women who think they are Christians, but are not. This is evidenced by the lack of real change in their thinking and living from the beliefs and practices of the world. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Christ Himself has warned that: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, . . . ? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you" (Matthew 7:22-23). Therefore, it behooves all who profess Christ to seriously review their personal belief and behavior in terms of their conformity to the world of men or to the Word of God. As Paul exhorted: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (2 Corinthians 13:5).