Connecting the Old Testament to the Gospels – Lesson Thirteen

Connecting the Old Testament to the Gospels

Part Two

Introduction

The aim of Part II of this lesson is to make connections with what has been presented in the summary of the previous lessons with what Jesus taught to Israel in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The following are key points from the prologue of John’s Gospel.  Please review Part I of this two-part lesson.

1.  “In Him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men.”   John 1:4.  Jesus’ life is the “law of the Spirit of life” for the spirits of mankind (Rom. 8:1, 2).  This truth was revealed by Jesus Christ because our spirits came from God and they have been designed in His likeness.  This truth is clearly revealed in children (John 18:37).  Jesus’ life and teachings are the laws of the new covenant (Heb. 8:10-12).  As Christians let these laws be pressed on our hearts and minds, we simultaneously conform to the likeness of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). “Sin is lawlessness.”  I John 3:4.  In other words, the part of our lives that do not measure up to Jesus’ life and teachings is sin.  This is why Christians have been born again and can continue to live in peace with God because of justification by faith (Rom. 4:25 – 5:1).

 2.  “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  John 1:12, 13. See John 3:3-8.  “Believing in Jesus” means believing He is the source of both the truth about life and grace by our faith in the cross.  Christians’ identify as sons of God; consequently, Jesus died so the Holy Spirit could live in us to bear witness with our spirits of our majestic identity.  See John 7:37-39; Rom. 8:16; I John 3:1.  The “streams of living water” Jesus spoke of can only flow from Christians who identify ourselves as “sons of God” and who enjoy fellowship with the Holy Spirit.  Our identity is our paradigm for examining and viewing ourselves – as well as others.  This is our Father’s world.  What a blessing to awake each morning with this identity!

3.  “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17.  For centuries the grace in John 3:16 has been powerfully proclaimed to the world as the main reason Jesus Christ came for mankind.  Many religious groups have adopted the cross as the symbol of their religion.  God’s purpose in creation was not to send His Son to die to give mankind grace.  What is the truth about why God created mankind?  Why do Christians call God our Father?  What is the truth about life?  Was God’s sonship program not taught and illustrated by Jesus Christ?  Most Christians would say, “Yes,” to all the forgoing.  There must be a reason God’s specific purpose for creating mankind is avoided by what is called the “Christian community.”  Perhaps it is because the truth about the life of our spirits demands our subjection to Jesus’ truth about life.  Are the masses unwilling to take up Jesus’ cross in order to put off the old man and put on a new character and personality like Jesus?  See Luke 9:57-62; Eph. 4:20-24; Heb. 12:4-14.

Religious leaders have formed social clubs with a religious coating called churches to drive up the numbers in their groups.  Paul warned Timothy about this type of religion (II Tim. 3:1-9).  Jesus said He came to preach the kingdom and also to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin (Luke 4:43; John 12:27).  Why remain silent about the truth about life and God’s purpose (II Tim. 1:9)?  God sent the Christ to reveal His purpose in creation and the description of life as God has life.  Grace supports this truth; however, grace is not the truth about life.  God’s purpose is to have sons in His eternal kingdom and Jesus Christ came first to show us the life of a child of God.  Grace only serves to give Christians peace with God so we can walk in the light of life with God (I John 1:5-8).  We will not find the word grace connected to personal judgment in the scriptures.

This is the truth we learned in John’s prologue.  It is closely connected to Lessons One through Four in this book.  The law of life is a sequential truth Christians hear, understand, believe and place our faith.  We cannot “skip over” the topic of the law of life and expect to have a smooth learning transition from the Old to the New Testament in our Bible study.  We need to each ask ourselves, “Do I believe Jesus is the light for my understanding of the life of my spirit?”  Christians cannot move forward in our spiritual growth without deciding to place our faith in the law of life of the new covenant.  Our personal Bible study is the source of our faith.  Our personal faith is the motivator for the spiritual growth of our “selves.”  We want to grow into what we have faith.  Christians’ faith in our role in the kingdom of God motivates us to grow into a person who will enjoy the quality of life in the kingdom.

We must store up this truth about the phenomenon of the life of our spirits in the long term memory banks of our minds before we will be able to understand the teachings about the kingdom of God in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  We cannot be ignorant about the “law of life” and expect to understand the parables of Jesus (Matt. 13:11-17).  The law of life is the truth about the life of our “selves” just as the law of nature is the truth about our bodies.  The law of life belongs in the same category of the law of nature.  Christians must have the same level of faith in the “law of the Spirit of life” as we do in the law of nature for our bodies.  These are the thoughts we want to keep in mind as we investigate the Synoptic Gospels and, in fact, all of the New Testament documents.  One reason is that Jesus depended on His disciples’ understanding of the law of nature in order to teach them the law of the spirit of life.  This was the key value of His parables.  He began His parables with their known understanding about physical things.  He would say “the kingdom is like” something that involved the law of nature.  This is how He taught the spiritual kingdom of God – from the known to the unknown.  Please carefully read the scriptures offered to support the following suppositions.

Lesson

God’s story in the four Gospels belongs to the Levitical Priesthood age.  Since it is a story, the principles for reading a narrative set forth in paragraphs three and four of Part One will be applied.  In this narrative God, the protagonist, sent His Son to reap the harvest from His patient work with Abraham’s seed for centuries.  Jesus developed this sad story into a parable with a powerful theological message in Matthew 21:33-46.   God’s kingdom would be taken from physical Israel and given to spiritual Israel – the church Jesus built for His Father.  Satan, the antagonist in God’s story, openly challenged Jesus immediately after He began His mission to “seek and save the lost.”  See Luke 19:10; Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13.  Jesus’ mission to teach the spiritual kingdom of God to Israel is the plot in this story.  At a later date the four Gospel writers made this story and the teachings of Jesus available for the church’s benefit.

The church had a need for all this information so they could produce fruit for the kingdom of God “in Christ.”  This was the reason Jesus was given a kingdom within the sphere of God’s kingdom.  Jesus gave a parable in Matthew 22:1-14 that reveals the present situation.  We see God working with His Son to bring in eternal fruit from all nations.  The “bottom line” for the meaning of the word fruit, as it is used in the Gospel, is “children of God.”  See Luke 3:7-9.  Christians are storing up treasures in heaven by developing the quality of life that will fit into the culture of the kingdom of God, the home of the righteousness (Matt. 6:20; II Pet. 3:13).

Satan has been able to assert his evil influence into the lives of all mature mortals since mankind attained the capability of “knowing good and evil.”  Satan, no doubt, felt he could influence the Son of God to sin who had become the “Son of Man” in Adam.  See John 3:13; Mark 1:1; 2:8-12.  At one point in Jesus’ ministry; “He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  Luke 10:17; I Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:7-17.  It is not difficult to recognize Satan’s presence in the world.  Just read the morning newspaper or listen to the news.  After Satan failed to induce Jesus of Nazareth to choose evil, he used the Pharisees and the weaknesses of the Israelite people to challenge the teachings of the “Son of God” who came to live in Israel as the “Son of Man.”

The Gospels are a continuation of God’s story about His use of prophets to maintain His kingdom in the nation of Israel.  John, the Baptist, came as a prophet.  Jesus chided His disciples, “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.”  Matt. 11:14.  God’s Son was the other prophet (Acts 3:22).  Jesus spoke to Israel for God, not Himself (Matt. 11:25-27; John 7:16-18).  God used Jesus as His prophet to speak to Israel as a nation, for the last time.  This was “God’s Nation” revealed in Lesson Nine.  At the time Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, His nation was in captivity once again. See Matt. 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-38.

The identity of the ten tribes, as Israel, had become lost in history long before Jesus came.  See Lesson Ten.  Judah had returned from captivity as prophesied.  God built them a temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:3-5).  He had great plans for the Jews He brought back to Jerusalem.  Please review the message God gave to Zechariah to give to His people while they were still in captivity.  Zechariah’s prophecy may have included divine information for God’s people beyond physical Judea.

So He said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.  ‘What are you, O mighty mountain?  Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground.  Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of God bless it!  God bless it!’  Then the word of the Lord came to me:  ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it.  Then you will know the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.’          Zech. 4:6-9

Although the temple was not as magnificent as the first one the Lord had Solomon build, it served the same purpose (Ezra 3:12; 6:15-18).  Four centuries later, Herod became king over Israel with Caesar’s blessing.  Herod, the great builder, modified the temple before he died (Matt. 2:19; 24:1, 2; John 2:20).  Please find a secular historical story interwoven with Biblical information from the time of Daniel to Jesus Christ in my book entitled “The Kingdom of God,” Part IV, Lesson One, “The Kingdom and World History Prophesied.”  This can also be read on my website in English and Telugu – www.whydidgodcreateyou.com.

Israel, as a nation, became even more fragmented after Herod died (Luke 3:1, 2).  The previous lessons about God’s relationship with Israel show He would not have allowed another nation to disturb or control His people if they had remained faithful to His covenants.   Consequently, during the four hundred plus years from Malachi to the Gospel period, the people God brought back to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity had somehow rebelled against Him once again.  Both Malachi, the prophet, and Jesus Christ clearly delineated their weaknesses.  See Jesus’ summary of the sins of the religious leadership of Judah in Matthew 23:1-39 and Luke 11:37-54.  In God’s story in the Gospels we see His patience and faithfulness revealed for the people with which He made covenants.  These were the offspring of Abraham through Jacob.  God had made promises to Abraham about the very people Jesus went about preaching the kingdom (Luke 4:43).  See Lesson Six.  Even though most of Abraham’s offspring would be “thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth,” they were given the opportunity to hear the Messiah preach the kingdom of God (Matt. 8:10-12).  The “children of promise,” including both Jews and Gentiles, were finally allowed to take their place at the spiritual feast of hearing the kingdom of God by the Son of God.  This happened for them as the church read the written Gospels.

The Levitical Priesthood was still functioning during Jesus’ time on earth even though the party to which the high priest’s family belonged did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Luke 20:27).  Caiaphas was the high priest who prophesied Jesus should die so he and certain members of the Sanhedrin could keep their seats of honor (John 11:45-53).  Then, as now, most religious leaders in all the world religions have been able to make their ministry financially and socially rewarding (Luke 16:14; 20:45-47).  Jesus had the opportunity to meet with Caiaphas and some of the same leaders after they had already decided He should die.  He used a parable about tenants and a landlord’s vineyard to review the history of the spiritual weakness of Israel’s leaders.  The audience got caught up in the story portion of Jesus’ parable and condemned the “teachers of the law and the chief priest” who were also listening.  See Luke 20:9-19.  Although the priesthood had been usurped by evil men, God continued to honor the Levitical Priesthood.  Again we witness the love, patience and faithfulness of God for the people who seek to do His will.

There were people in Israel like Peter, Andrew, his brother, and many others who were looking for the Messiah (John 1:40-42).  They did not fully understand what He would do, but they knew He would give them the leadership they needed.  Jesus’ leadership is the wisdom of God.  It functions on a much higher level of thinking, planning and performing than the wisdom of man.  Although God continuously revealed His wisdom, He allowed mankind choice.  The Jews often chose evil over good.  The Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well, stated what many Jews believed; “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming.  When He comes, He will explain everything to us.”  John 4:25.  The Jews continued to worship and serve at the temple even in the face of a corrupt priesthood.  Zechariah served as a priest (Luke 1:5).  Joseph and Mary had Jesus circumcised on the eighth day of His life on earth (Luke 2:21).  Twelve years later they were still taking Him to Jerusalem “for the Feast of the Passover.”  Luke 2:41.   Jesus respected the function of the Levitical Priesthood (Luke 5:12-14).  He did not respect the concept of the law developed by Jewish philosophers (Matt. 15:1-9).   The kingdom of God and the church Jesus is building for His Father has no connection to what is called “Judeo-Christianity.”  The Levitical Priesthood and the Law God gave to Moses for the people had no connection with the religion promoted by the Pharisees and other philosophers Jesus continually encountered.

There is a lesson in this for Christians today.  God maintained the Levitical Priesthood and what remained of the Israelite nation in the face of evil men.  These served to maintain a relationship between God and His “children of promise” until the time was right for the Messiah to come.  Although, most of the religious world today is controlled by people who have rejected the “towel and wash basin” mentality of leadership, God has not changed His mind.  The “towel and wash basin” is the only type of leadership Jesus authorized (Matt. 20:20-28).  He serves Christians as God’s king and priest (Luke 22:24-30; John 13:12-17; Heb. 1:8; 4:14-16).  The concept is “lead while actively serving.”  God has never ordained the “chief seat” mentality we witness in most religious groups.  It is difficult to find a church overseen by a presbytery among all of those groups of people who present themselves as a church (Acts 14:23).  These are the very same problems that caused Abraham’s offspring to be a “remnant” of saved people rather than “as the sands which is upon the sea shore.”  Gen. 22:17.

Christians who are seeking the “pearl of great price” remain faithful to God’s word by learning to read the Bible for themselves.  Those who do not learn to study for themselves remain in the “box of life” of another mere human being.  One look at the religious world should awaken us to the “folly of dependency” on other people to study the Bible for us.   People must be in the kingdom and the kingdom must be in us in order to inherit the kingdom and the life thereof (Matt. 19:29; 25:34; Luke 17:20, 21; Col. 1:12, 13).  Our present and eternal salvation demands a “real time” understanding of the kingdom of God.

“Someone asked Him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’” Luke 13:23.  Jesus encouraged His audience to “make every effort to enter through the narrow door.”  The discourse following His declaration about entering life in God’s kingdom centered on the principle of knowing and being known by God.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is about God Almighty in the role of Christians’ Father.  Christians must have a paradigm of the church Jesus is building for His Father as the family of His Father (Matt. 7:21-23; 12:48-50; Heb. 2:10-16).  Children know their parents and parents know their children.  This is how Jesus answered the person about the number of people who will be saved.  We need to pay attention to the truth Jesus brought from God for mankind.  The “son of God” life in the kingdom is quite different from the “wisdom of men” concepts of religion and salvation.  Please note, Jesus did not mention grace in His discourse (Luke 13:24-30).  Grace is for now.  Judgment Day will be about God gathering His children to His spiritual kingdom.  See Matt. 11:25-27; Luke 8:19-21.  God will shut the door on time and physical things when Jesus returns (Luke 20:34-36).

The first four chapters of Matthew and Luke contain individual narratives about God’s major move in history to miraculously bring John, the Baptist, and Jesus Christ into a geographical place and time in the world.  Matthew and Luke began their Gospels with their births and led us to the beginning of Jesus preaching the kingdom of God (Matt. 4:17; Luke 4:43).  For the benefit of the Jews and critics, these four chapters fulfilled several prophecies.  They made historical and genetic connections to the Old Testament.  This historical story connects to Lessons Five through Ten in this book.  There will not be enough space in this lesson to connect these narratives to the fulfillment of prophecies.  Please see my book “The Kingdom of God,” Part IV.

Both Matthew and Luke introduced Satan, the leader of the opposition.  They also introduced the Holy Spirit, who played a key role in Jesus’ ministry on earth (Matt. 3:11, 16; 4:1; Luke 3:22; 4:1; John 3:34).  After the Holy Spirit began to accompany the Son of Man, Jesus often changed the laws of nature.  This is a miracle (Matt. 8:23-27; Luke 7:14).  The Holy Spirit took a leadership role in the spiritual growth of sons and daughters of God after Jesus returned to heaven as king and priest (II Cor. 6:18; Rom. 8:5-27; II Thess. 2:13-15).  The Holy Spirit did not begin His sanctification work until after Jesus was glorified on the cross and His resurrection was completed by God (John 7:37-39).  Mark started his Gospel at the historical point where John, the Baptist, baptized Jesus of Nazareth.  “As Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’”  Mark 1:10, 11.  This is the statement each Christian will be listening to hear from God on the Day of our Judgment.  Almost all of the material in Mark’s Gospel can be found in Matthew and Luke.

Christian Bible students need to attune ourselves to learning, believing and placing our faith in the Biblical topics in a sequential manner.  In other words, we will not read the Gospels intelligently unless we learn to follow God’s story about Abraham’s offspring in the Old Testament.  Historical connections between the Synoptic Gospels and God’s story in the previous lessons have been made in the foregoing portion of this lesson.  The remainder will be dedicated to hearing and understanding Jesus present the kingdom of God.

First we will consider the strategies Jesus used to draw the offspring of Abraham to Him so they could hear the spiritual principles of a kingdom they could not see, but is very real.  Although Jesus had the power to change the law of nature, He did not change the laws of life of human beings.  God has always dealt with mankind the way He created us; therefore, Jesus’ strategies are common to the nature of mankind.  This means people can read this story in a practical manner.  There is nothing hidden about what we need to know from a spiritual minded Christian.   The spiritual aspect will be hidden from “mere men.”  See Matt. 13:11-17; I Cor. 3:1-3.  A spiritual minded Christian is one who gathers data from God’s word.  This gives us something to think about, to meditate on, to finally say, “This is what I think it means.”  We seek to understand His word in the context it is presented.  Then we must decide if we believe what we understand.  Those who believe are prepared to move their thinking from the mundane to the heavenly.  The process that moves our thinking into the spiritual realm is deciding to have faith in what we believe to be true – to trust it as an answer for our lives, now and forever.

The following are some of Jesus’ strategies for getting His mission on earth in action:

1.   He chose a team of twelve men to train by “moving around.”  Jesus taught the apostles to preach the kingdom of God while preaching the kingdom to the Israelites.  It could be called “Mobile Apostle School;” however, there was no building on which to hang a sign board (Luke 9:57-60).  He was the leader.  He also served the team with the “towel and wash basin” mentality of divine leadership (Luke 6:12-16).  This is a wonderful strategy for world evangelism today.  All that is needed is a spiritual leader who can preach the kingdom and twelve converted people.

2.  Jesus had the power to change the law of nature after the Holy Spirit joined His mission:

a.  Jesus touched a leper and he was healed.  He sent this cleansed leper “to the priest” out of respect for the law of the Levitical Priesthood.  Matt. 8:3, 4.

b.  A Gentile centurion ask Jesus for help, “Lord” he said, “My servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”  Jesus healed this servant without coming near him or her.  He was astonished at the centurion’s faith.  Matt. 8:5-10.

c.  Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever, “and she got up and began to wait on Him.”  Matt. 8:15.

d.  He rebuked the winds and waves to save the frightened trainee apostles.  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Matt. 8:23-27.

e.  Finally, Jesus changed a law of nature that intrigues most people.  He brought a dead girl back to physical life.  “This news spread through all that region.” See Matt. 9:18-26.

We can draw several conclusions about Matthew’s decision for incorporating these narratives into His Gospel.  One, Jesus’ motive was to draw a crowd of people to hear His message from God.  Two, since “knowing God” is key to a Christian’s life and judgment, this was Jesus’ way of revealing God and Himself as Persons (John 14:11; 17:3; I Cor. 1:21).  Three, Jesus’ compassion inspired Him to help people who were hurting.  In any case these are true individual narratives.   Bible students ask, “Why did the Holy Spirit guide the writer to place this story right here in God’s Bible?”  Then we attempt to answer this same question by more study.  All these narratives can be read by every Christian who can read.  We can think about them and hypothesize about what God is doing with Jesus in this little story.  Hearing the story, thinking about the story and drawing a conclusion is the way God designed our minds to learn.  At the same time God has equipped mankind with imagination.  Can we image this same Jesus as our king standing at God’s right hand?  Is He not the same person?  Does He still feel compassion when we suffer?  His holy blood is our sin offering.  He is personally our advocate all day and night every day and night.  We need to apply our endowment of imagination to have faith in what we understand from God’s word; otherwise, we will not enjoy the substance of the focal point of our faith.

Matthew recorded two more narratives in this same section of his Gospel.  They open other topics to think about:

1.    Jesus was recognized as the “Son of God” by demons.  The demons conversed with Him and He abided by their wishes (Matt. 8:28-34).  It seems incredible how the demons correctly indentified Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God; whereas, His hometown folks tried to throw Him over a cliff when He identified Himself with Isaiah’s prophesies about the Messiah.  Luke 4:14-30.  Two conclusions can be made: One, there is an active spiritual world where God is allowing Satan and demons to exercise their power with evil people.  Evil people develop powerful tools Satan can use in his schemes against Christians (Eph. 6:10-18).  Two, Christians praise God, our Father, for giving Jesus power over all world powers including Satan and demons (Eph. 1:20-23; 3:10).

2.    In the case where Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; yours sins are forgiven.”  Jesus, knowing the thoughts of the philosophical teachers of the law said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?  Which is easier:  to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins ….”  Then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”  Matt. 9:2-6.  This narrative introduced Satan’s most aggressive team in God’s story recorded in the Gospels.  They were the “teachers of the law” and the Pharisees.  Jesus described them as very religious; extremely self-righteous; mean hearted; in fact, they were killers (Luke 11:47-51).  Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, was at one time a leader in this cult (Acts 7:57, 58).  Although, they publicly attacked Jesus with the intent to discredit His miracles and teachings, they often aided Him in His teaching methods.   Jesus would hook them in the stories of His parables by identifying them as the bad guys, especially when they behaved like bad guys.  See Matt. 21:45; Luke 11:14-20.  However, and more importantly, the topic of the forgiveness of sins is also introduced.

Jesus had the power to forgive sins before He died on the cross for the sins He forgave.  See Mark 8:31; 16:15, 16.  We understand God had been forgiving the sins of people who lived by faith in His covenants from the time Adam and Eve broke His first covenant until He offered the new covenant in Jesus’ blood.  This included people who repented and were baptized according to John’s baptism.  Jesus died for all of their sins as well as Christians (Rom. 3:21-26; Heb. 9:15; 11:39, 40).

The foregoing portion of this lesson has been dedicated to introducing Jesus Christ into the history of mankind.  It is not merely Biblical History; it is World History because it fits into time and space.  It is a continuation of the story of God’s people during the period of the Levitical Priesthood.  As the Apostle Paul told King Agrippa, “It was not done in a corner.”  Acts 26:26.  We have witnessed how Jesus made preparation to successfully preach the kingdom of God to Abraham’s offspring.  The remainder of this lesson will be about Jesus using what the people understood about the law of nature to introduce the spiritual life of the kingdom of God.  Although Jesus clearly preached the kingdom of God and taught the apostles to preach the kingdom of God, we don’t hear practical teachings about the kingdom of God today.  Be that as it may, let us assume the problem could be about how we learn the kingdom.

Christians learn by reading God’s word about things we cannot see.  These are spiritual things, but they are more real than physical things.  Our human eyes have been designed by God to see material things only.  When a source of light strikes a physical object, the light waves from this source are reshaped in a conforming manner.  Our eyes can receive these light waves from which they are then transferred to our brains.  If it is the first time we have viewed this object we ask, “What is it?”  An informed person may say, “It is an apple tree.”  We have the capability of recording the words we heard in our ears with the form designed by the light waves in our memories located in our brains.  This is the law of nature about how we learn about mundane objects.  God designed us to learn in this manner.

We may add to the apple tree many other objects in a given scene, but we must address them individually – one by one.  We can know an apple tree, a field, the sun and water that make up an apple orchard.  By knowing, we mean we have an understanding of each of these items in our memory with a tag – this is an apple tree, a field, etc.  With this information we can begin to understand the activity that produces the apple we may purchase at the market.  We cannot learn about a scenario if we only know one of the multiple objects that make up the total scene.  We must know all of the objects individually.  Then we can think about how they interact to produce their intended purpose.

Although this is really very basic thinking about learning to discern the function of the law of nature, this basic law for learning appears to be almost totally missing in many Christians’ personal Bible study and church Bible classes.  The first rule of learning about a simple scenario in the Bible is to understand the individual items in the story, letter or psalm.  This provides something to think about.  If our “knowledge page” is blank there is nothing to think about.  If we only have knowledge of one item, we will not be able to understand how it interacts with other items.  All the items functioning together, in most cases, demand a context for understanding the writer’s intent for the passage.  A few of Jesus’ teachings stand alone.  If we collect the required knowledge of each item but neglect to think about how the objects interact to produce the intent of their existence, we do not learn.  Getting knowledge is not learning.  Thinking and learning; learning and thinking is the key to learning spiritual things we cannot see.  The principles of learning spiritual things follow the same pattern as mundane learning.  This is the way God “hand-wired” our brains to learn.  However, the source and collection method of spiritual data is different than nature learning.

We can only learn spiritual things by listening to God speak to us through His word in the Bible.  Mankind does not know more than what is recorded in God’s word (Matt. 16:23; II Cor. 3:5).  His word has been made available to us by the Holy Spirit; therefore, the information comes from the mind of God.  The Spirit of God knows the mind of God and His Spirit gave us the Bible message in “spiritual truths and spiritual words.”  Since God’s word was written to produce faith in all people, it can be understood by the masses – not just a few.  Christians in fellowship with the Holy Spirit can understand these spiritual truths and words.  This is not because the Holy Spirit empowers us to think and learn.  It is because we are holy; therefore, we have a spiritual mind to receive these truths.  We have the mind of Christ.  See I Cor. 2:10-16.  A person who is not sanctified will not be in fellowship with the Holy Spirit; neither will she or he be able to understand spiritual teachings.  The spiritual things we learn about the kingdom of God empowers our lives (I Cor. 4:20).  Our citizenship in the kingdom of God is a power in us (Phil. 3:20).

 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life.’”  John 14:6.  Unless we have faith in our relationship to John’s prologue, we will have a difficult time understanding our place in God’s spiritual kingdom.  A person who does not have faith in their identity as a son of God will have a difficult time understanding what Jesus taught about the kingdom.  Jesus worked hard to convince people there is a kingdom of God.  Jesus did not attempt to explain every detail of God’s awesome kingdom.  Even if He explained all the details, we would not have understood.  Like Moses told the Israelites, He taught what we need to know for our place in our Father’s kingdom (Deut. 29:29).  The material things we use belong to God.  Mankind’s spirit came from God; therefore, each person has a place with God.  See Luke 16:10-12.   We will not receive what is rightfully ours unless we have been judged as good stewards over what belongs to God.  See Luke 16:I-15.

We cannot separate God from His kingdom; therefore, to believe in God is to believe in His kingdom (I Tim. 6:15, 16).  Jesus came to reveal the “point of view” of the kingdom that relates to our rightful place with God.  Our spirits came from God and they are destined to return to God.  God is waiting for Jesus Christ to bring His family home to glory (Heb. 2:10).  Consequently, Jesus took great care to present the life of the kingdom and the principles by which Christians can grow up into the life of God (Matt. 5:48; I John 4:16).  After we accept Jesus as the light of our lives, His parables have a personal meaning to Christians’ lives in the kingdom of God.  We will conclude this lesson by examining a few of His parables in which He used the law of nature to teach the law of life.  For a full study of the parables see my book entitled, “The Parables of Jesus.”  It is on my website.

When Jesus went about teaching the kingdom, He used many parables.  Please read Matt. 13:3-9, (The people understood the law of nature in the physical world), 18-23, (Jesus taught the law of life in the spiritual kingdom).  Also see Luke 8:4-8, 11-15.  Most people in Jesus’ audiences understood the law of nature about seed and soil.  This was before the farm tractor was developed.  Some big city people may need a refresher course today, but it would not be difficult for them to learn about seed and soil.  Matthew used the term, “the message of the kingdom” in verse 19 to depict what is sown in peoples’ minds on the spiritual side of one’s life.  In verse 11, Luke said, “The seed is the word of God.”  Therefore, most, if not all of what Jesus taught in the Gospels was about the kingdom of God because He always taught the word of God (John 7:16).  This is to say, the kingdom of God is not a mere topic in the Bible, just as the “word of God” is not a topic.  The kingdom of God is the “preface” for the word of God for mankind.  See the Preface of this book.

Knowledge of the kingdom can be obtained by simply accepting the fact that all mature people in the world are represented by the four different qualities of soil set forth in Jesus’ parable.  The seed is the word of God Jesus taught while going about teaching the kingdom.  This is how simple it is to learn the aspect of the kingdom of God Christians need to know about our spiritual growth.  We are the soil and the seed is the message of the kingdom.  The seed is good.  If there is a problem with our spiritual growth and production, we need to examine ourselves.  We are the soil.  The problem will be with the soil and the environment produced by the box of life in which numbers one, two and three soils are trapped.  We can improve ourselves but we must shift into the kingdom of God “box of life.”  Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable?  How then will you understand any parable?”  Mark 4:13.

What is referred to as the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5-7 reveals information about a human being in the kingdom of God.  There will not be space for a thorough study of this long discourse in this lesson.   Please see my book entitled, “Sermon on the Mount,” or read it on my website.  This same sermon material can be found in Luke’s Gospel; however, he used parts in various applications.

After we understand God created us to be sons in His kingdom, Christians want to know how the life of the kingdom relates to the way God created us.  In Jesus is life and His life is the light of our lives.  It is not a difficult concept of the kingdom to learn and believe.  Believing is not the problem.  The problem may be in our trusting what we believe to give us a fulfilled life on earth and life after death.  This may be the challenge religious people do not want to face; therefore, they may not want to learn the kingdom of God.  Many want to know about baptism and worship only.  Others want a religion like, “I believe in Jesus.”  However, trusting what we believe is faith.  It will be a life-long experiment if we accept God’s new covenant (Heb. 10:16).   Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teachings come from God or whether I speak on My own.”  John 7:17.  Since all people are “Born in a Box” they did not choose, mature people will need to choose to place our faith in God’s will for us.

If we choose not to trust God we will put our faith in the evil one’s “mere men” offerings.   Please read Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.  In this parable God’s kingdom includes all of His creation as well as heaven.  Jesus’ teachings of the kingdom clearly establishes God as Christians’ Father and we are His children (Matt. 5:9; Mark 3:33, 34; Luke 6:35).  All young children are citizens of God’s kingdom in the physical world (Luke 18:16, 17).  By working through the lives of people who reject Jesus’ preaching, Satan offers many programs to satisfy the needs God created in mankind.  The “evil one” cannot touch children until they become responsible for “knowing good and evil.”  Jesus’ parable sets forth the “sphere of God’s rule” He gave to Jesus to bring sons to glory.  It includes people in the world where God is the Almighty One, in spite of the fact, He allowed Satan a kingdom.  Jesus is the protagonist and the devil is the antagonist.  The plot is to gain citizens for the respective kingdoms from the mature class of people on earth (Acts 26:18).  This parable also reveals the plot resolution of God’s story.  “The harvest is the end of the age.” Verse 39.   God will separate His children and the remainder will be put away to suffer with Satan, eternally.  This is the resolution of God’s story about His creation of mankind.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”  Matt. 13:31, 32.  Jesus presented a simple law of nature.  All that the people in Jesus’ audience needed to do was to change a couple of words in order to see how the spiritual life of the kingdom of God could be in them.  If we are faithful Christians we can change the word “field” to our names.  The changes in the mustard seed that produced a tree is our spiritual growth processes after we began to let the “word of God” direct our lives.  The message of the kingdom is like yeast.  Please read Matt. 13:33.

Matthew wrote his Gospel after the events of Acts chapter two.  Thousands of born again believers had become “the tree” in Jesus’ parable.   Their hearts and minds had become the field where the seed of the kingdom had been planted by Christians like Philip, who preached the kingdom of God (Acts 8:4, 12; I Cor. 3:5-17).  Although these parables make understanding the kingdom of God simple, the process of becoming a strong tree is a process of spiritual growth that involves a life time of learning and Christian livingPlease consider Heb. 12:1-14.

Jesus revealed “What the kingdom is like” from the “point of view” of an evangelist serving in the body of Christ.  Please read Mark 4:26-29. He or she scatters the seed.  “Pulpit preaching” does not properly relate to the work of an evangelists.  The word “went” is missing (Acts 8:4).  There are many more of Jesus’ lessons in the Gospel that will help us open our “Door of Faith” into the kingdom of God and His Son.  The aim of Part One and Two of this lesson has been to encourage us to read the Gospels for ourselves.  We will want to keep the following in mind in order to continually widen our “Door of Faith” into the kingdom of God.  They are sequential thoughts that will affect the way we read the New Testament.  How we read the teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of God will depend upon our own personal level of faith in the following principles of life and the foregoing sequential topics in this book.

All people were created to be sons of God.

Jesus is the life of a son of God.

He is the light of each Christian’s life.

For those who believe He came to reveal this life by living and preaching the kingdom:

“He gave the right to be children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  John 1:12, 13.

Because of the foregoing purpose of God, Jesus brought truth and grace to mankind (John 1:17).

 When the hour came for Jesus to die on the cross, he said: “Father save Me from this hour?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name!”  John 12:27.

At the beginning of His public ministry He said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”  Luke 4:43.

We need to keep a balance between God’s purpose in creation of mankind and God’s grace.  His Son was crucified on the cross because it was necessary to fulfill God’s purpose in creation.  See II Tim. 1:8-12.

The purpose of God in the creation was not to send His Son to die on the cross for the sins of mankind.  His purpose in creation was for Jesus to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10).  Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit, along with God, the Father, are all fully involved with each faithful Christian to move us from “glory to glory” now and to “glory, honor and peace” when Jesus returns for us (II Cor. 3:18; 13:14; Rom. 2:10; I Thess. 4:15-18).

      

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