Parable of the Wedding Feast

Matt 22:1-14 NLT.
Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! 4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. 7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The characters in this parable are easily identifiable. Israel was the invited guests and they turned down God’s invitation flatly. God in turn opened the invitation to the Gentiles. God was already displeased with the insolence of Israel and had ordered judgment. So God took issue with the further insolence of one who did not come to the wedding feast in proper attire showing how disrespectful he or she could be towards the invitation.

The parable is a serious reminder that though we accept the invitation to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we cannot come in an insolent or indifferent attitude without repentance. We need to come with a repentant heart and a total commitment to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. God had gone through the ultimate sacrifice of giving His Son for our sins to appease His justice and wrath, it will be so insolent of us to come to Him without true contrition and repentance. That is a fool’s presumptuous false peace to think he is justified by coming to Jesus with selfish motives of seeking food, wealth, health and escape from hell fire.

In John 2:23-25, we learned that many began to believe in Jesus when they saw the miraculous signs He did. But Jesus did not trust them because He knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature for He knew what was in each person’s heart. We can profess faith in Jesus but can He trust us if we come to Him only for selfish motives ?

The Unpardonable Sin

Matt 12:31-32

31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

The unpardonable sin is identified here as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.   Jesus our Lord had performed a miracle and yet the Pharisees attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to be the work of the devil.

Our Lord rebuked 5 out 7 churches in Rev 2 and 3 for their sin and ended with this exhortation, “Whoever has ears,  let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”    And culminated in Rev 3:19 which is very clear that Jesus or His Spirit will reprove and convict the Christians of sin and call for us to be zealous and repent.

(Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.  Rev 3:19.)

It is bad enough to deny this work of the Spirit of Jesus to convict a Christian of sin but to attribute it to the work of the devil will be utter blasphemy similar to the above incident told in the Scripture to specifically warn us.

The false cheap grace teachers have preached that the definite and marvelous work of the Spirit in convicting us of sin is actually the work of the devil in robbing us of joy by making us sin conscious.

They are even audacious enough to say that all the theologians and pastors in the past had got it so wrong about the conviction of sin by the Spirit of Jesus and the need to confess our sins.

They have confused guilt with contrition.  Or the confusion of their followers may be deliberate.  Guilt is bondage but contrition is true worship.  Ps 51:17; Is 66:2.

Possible Triggers of the Coming Economic Flood

This is one look at some possible triggers of the Coming Economic Flood by Mr Jim Rickards, the Financial Threat and Asymmetric Warfare Advisor for both the Pentagon and CIA, author of “Currency Wars” and “The Death of Money” :

1.  Foreign Ownership of Government Debt.

2.  The Fall of the Petrodollar.

3.  Global Gold Rebalancing.

4.  Collapse of China.

5.  The IMF’s Plan to replace the dollar.

Discerning False Prophets

1 John 4: 1-6.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Two tests are mentioned here :
1. Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus has come in the flesh is not from God which is the spirit of the antichrist.
2. The false prophets are from the world and speak from the viewpoint of the world and the world listens to them.

The first test is the test of the Christology or doctrine of Jesus Christ held by these prophets or teachers.
The second test is to test whatever these prophets or teachers say belongs to the prince of the world or the Son of God.

The second test is so crucial because the enemy’s agents will come masquerading as angels of light. They may have the rhetoric of praising Jesus or speaking correctly about the grace of our Lord, but their hearts may be far away from our Lord.

The prince of the world has and will continue to tempt mankind with the same three temptation – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He had done so with Eve (Gen 3:6) tempting her that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom. He had done so with Jesus our Lord too (Luke 4:1-13).
Any true prophet or teacher will not twist the teachings of our Lord Jesus and His Word (through the Prophets and the Apostles) to mean the opposite if they truly love Him. If any prophet or teacher promote the same three temptation, you can be sure that they are of the world and not of God.

Let’s look at some of these famous rhetorical key phrases by the false prophets or teachers and compare them with our Lord’s.

False prophet : Abundant life is an abundance of every good thing in life.
Jesus our Lord : Life does not consist in the abundance of things. (Luke 12:15).

False prophet : God wants to prosper Christians and we are called to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health and to enjoy a life of victory.
Jesus our Lord : The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. (Matt 13:22-23)… Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that Day will not come on you suddenly like a trap. (Luke 21:34-35).

False prophet : Only good things happen to those who believe God loves them.
Peter the Apostle : Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. (1 Pet 4:12-13).

Whoever is of the world does not listen to the Word of God; and this is how we recognize the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.  1 John 4:6.

The Foolishness of the Cross

What kind of God, instead of rescuing us out of trouble, rescues us by entering into the trouble with us ?
What kind of God, instead of helping us to avoid pain and heal us from our pain, enters into extreme pain with us ?
What kind of God, instead of fixing things for us, addresses them by becoming weak with us in our weakness ?
– Will Willimon, Sojourners Magazine, August 2007

After He had done so, He invited us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him in the same footsteps.

Such a message of Christ dying on the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.

So the modern day carnal believer modify the message to satisfy themselves – that Christ will carry their cross on their behalf, rescue them from trouble, helping them to avoid pain and to fix every wrong thing for them.

But through history, the true believer walk in the same way in which He had walked – entering into the trouble with his neighbor, entering into pain with his neighbor, and becoming weak with his neighbor…1 John 2:6.

Fully God; Fully Man

Presently there is teaching that Jesus set aside His divinity while He was on earth. Such teaching is followed by the “peccability” belief that Jesus could have the possibility of sinning when tempted by the devil but did not.

The onus or burden of proof was placed entirely on the verses Phil 2:6-8 in which the proponents argued that Jesus “emptied” Himself – which according to the Greek word for “emptied” should be correctly translated as setting aside His divinity.

One Bible translation translated the Greek word as “of no reputation”. Even if the meaning concerns His divinity, setting aside His divinity for a moment is a world of difference from not exercising His divine privileges.

We read of the omniscience and omnipotence of Jesus in knowing the destruction of Jerusalem, the life of the Samaritan woman, calming the storm, rebuking the fever and feeding the 5000.  Still, we cannot be certain that He gave up His omnipresence as well even though He was fully man while being on earth.

Like the Holy Trinity, it was hard to comprehend 3 distinct Persons in the essential one God-head. It will be foolhardy to really believe we as His creatures can fully comprehend and describe God who create us using human reason which is also given by Him.  To accept this fact by faith is not really blind faith. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in many ways suitable for our understanding as in nature. We can see the tri-une nature of God in nature – 3 states; 3 dimensions, 3 elements of the universe as in matter, space and time.

As I began to ponder over this subject, I realized that I could not understand back in the secondary school days how light could behave as particle and wave at the same time which is like a mutually exclusive impossibility.   Scientists have argued over the centuries and could not come to an amicable conclusion.

I believe it is no coincidence that Jesus is the LIGHT of the world with this duality as fully God and fully man. John 1:1-5,9.

It is important to have this right doctrine of Jesus Christ our Lord as fully God and fully man otherwise we may fall into the spirit of the Antichrist. 1 John 4: 1-6.

To Judge Or Not To Judge

Matt 7:1-6
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you wil…l see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces…”

Many use Matt 7:1 as a blanket prohibition of all judgment completely ignoring the whole counsel of the Word of God concerning this very important issue. Judging and discernment is so important for without, the church suffers much in many ways and the most dreadful is having agents of the enemy as her leaders and false teaching prevails.

What the Word of God warned here is about unrighteous judgment such as fault finding. In Matt 7:6, Jesus even told us to judge those who are violent towards the gospel so surely Matt 7:1 cannot be a blanket prohibition. Our Lord clearly stated in John 7:24 that we do not judge by appearances but judge with righteous judgment.
Take a look at the whole counsel of the Word of God and decide whether we want to be fully obedient to the Word of God or choose what we are comfortable with.

We do not judge :
1. Appearances or motives. Jn 7:24; Jas 2:1-4
2. Matters of conscience. Rom 14:1-5.
3. Service of another brother. 1 Cor 4:1-5.
4. In speaking evil of another brother. Jas 4:11-12.

But we should judge :
1. False teaching and error in teaching. Matt 7:15-20; 1 Cor 14:29; 1 Jn 4:1.
2. Serious sins in the church. Matt 18:17; 1 Cor 5:9-13.
3. Disputes in the church. 1 Cor 6:1-8.
4. Qualification of elders and deacons. 1 Tim 3:1-13.
5. In admonishing the idle and slothful; and discern and help the faint-hearted and the weak. 1 Thess 5:14.
6. In not being unequally yoked with unbelievers. 2 Cor 6:14.

Any one walking in the will of God need not be bothered by judging because he or she knows his conscience is clear. Only those who are in error or sin usually are the ones who cry foul of judging, and it is so comical that they also commit the very same act of judging which they denounce by judging the motive of those who judged.

Be Complete Imitators of Christ

We are called to be witnesses for Christ. When we follow His Manifesto to share the gospel, give sight to the blind, visit the imprisoned and relieve the oppressed (Luke 4:18), it is possible that we may perform all these works without really representing Christ. God wants obedience and mercy out of our hearts and not outward sacrifice. It involves more than what we do and say – it requires inner transformation by His Spirit to be more like Him. In that way, we will truly represent Him if we become more like Him.

From the gospels, we know that Christ our Lord had humility, compassion and self control showing He is Love; and confidence, objectivity and assertiveness showing He is Just.

Many of us fail to represent Him completely in love and justice. Love and Justice are both God’s attributes which God desires we know Him well. (Jer 9:23-24).

He came lowly to demonstrate that God gives grace to the humble. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Any teaching that exalts the human spirit is definitely wrong which is at the core of the cheap grace theology. And it is no wonder that the false teachers are often touted as excellent motivational speakers. The proud, the greedy and the idolaters simply love this cheap grace message that they can receive grace without repentance. That they can be born again without being born again. The story of Zaachaeus showed us how we can truly receive grace and being born again. Zaachaeus was a hated tax collector. Money was his idol and he was willing to be hated just to worship this idol. He could very well be a pious Jew having good relations with the religious authorities. But when he came to Jesus, he came not with pride but with humility though he was the chief tax collector. The chief of them all. And when Jesus accepted him, he knew he had to get rid of his idolatry. Though he was financially rich, he was spiritually bankrupt. He went from an oppressor of the poor to be a champion of justice when he decided to make restitution of what he had done before and more. He went from hoarding wealth unscrupulously at the expense of everyone including the poor to the opposite of helping them with his wealth unselfishly. That is repentance before the throne of Grace.

He had full Self-control whenever He was confronted on hard questions by those who intended to trap Him into saying something wrong.

He was also very Confident and Objective as to His purpose in life. He resolved to glorify and obey God to the last detail of going to the Cross, even if it meant something He did not wish to go through.

When He saw the Temple of God being a house of prayer being turned into a den of robbers, He was upset and drove away the merchants because He was Assertive that the sanctity of God’s Temple, God’s Word, God’s Gospel or anything of God must not be brought down to such a shallow level of fulfilling human desire.

Again, any teaching that bring the sanctity of the Cross and Gospel to such shallowness as things pandering to human desires is so absurd and nonsensical. Our intellect can surely discern it but sadly our inner desires completely blind us. That is why so often we read of highly intelligent people doing foolish acts in the news.

Trevor Wax in Christianity Today explained, “…He (God) is angry because he is love. He looks at the world and sees the trafficking of innocent children, the destructive use of drugs, the genocidal atrocities in Africa, the terrorist attacks that keep people in perpetual fear, and he—out of love for the creation that reflects him as Creator—is rightfully and gloriously angry. The god who is truly scary is not the wrathful God of the Bible, but the god who closes his eyes to the evil of this world, shrugs his shoulders, and ignores it in the name of “love.” What kind of love is this? A god who is never angered at sin and who lets evil go by unpunished is not worthy of worship. The problem isn’t that the judgment-less god is too loving; it’s that he is not loving enough…”

Let’s be imitators of Christ all the way and not half the way. May His Spirit regenerates us and gives us wisdom to truly represent Him. Amen.

God’s Sovereignty and Our Human Responsibility

So, therefore, without violating the nature of created realities, or reducing man’s activity to robot level, God still “works all things according to the counsel of His will”…But surely in that case what we think of as our free will is illusory and unreal ? That depends on what you mean. It is certainly illusory to think that our wills are only free if they operate apart from God. But free will in the sense of “free agency” as theologians have defined it – that is, the power of spontaneous, self determining choice referred to above – is real…How God sustains it and overrules it without overriding it is His secret, but that He does so is certain. – JI Packer, Affirming the Apostles’ Creed.

Gal 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The first part of this verse tells of the divine sovereignty over our lives as a Christian, while the second part tells of our human responsibility in living our lives by faith in the Son of God.

Here-in is the paradox and profound mystery of our relationship with God. This paradox of divine sovereignty with an element of human responsibility runs through-out the whole Bible and men have argued over the centuries but are none the wiser.

We have argued over this same paradox in the following topics : predestination and free will; faith and works; Jesus being fully God and f ully man; and the dual authorship of the Bible.

So how do we live ?

We will live our lives acknowledging our full dependency on God; yet we are obedient and diligent in discharging our given commission making full use of the faculty of our minds.

We can easily see the danger of holding either extreme of the paradox. In the example of salvation, we will end up believing the hyper grace false gospel on one extreme or legalism on the other. The correct stand is that one is saved by faith alone and his or her faith is evidenced by works. Eph 2: 8-9 is not complete without Eph 2:10 just as in Gal 2:20 with 2 parts completing the same message.