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From Election to Moral Duality


           

Jesus’ statements in the eighth chapter of Matthew do not seem to contain teachings that are relevant or applicable generally until verses 11-12.

TOJ #49:  God elects to save all who elect Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile. [MT 8:11-12]  Electing Jesus means accepting or believing in Him as Messiah/Christ/Son of Man/Son of God/God the Son/Lord.  See TOJ #131. {JN 3:16b&18, 8:24, 11:25-26, 16:27, 17:6}  Paul indicated this election or choice by the phrase "in Christ" (EPH 1:3-13). Of course, this statement of GRS assumes a soul has the opportunity to hear the NT gospel (Lesson 3).  Election does not mean determination (Calvinism).  See TOJ #136.  Although Jesus' primary mission as Messiah was to the Jews (TOJ #88), His ministry to the Canaanite woman {MT 15:21-28} and the Parables of the Tenants {MT 21:43//MK 12:9//LK 20:16} and of the Wedding Banquet {MT 22:8-10} showed that His church would also include the Gentiles.  He cited passages in the OT that indicate God's plan of salvation has always encompassed all people {LK 4:25-27}.  See TOJ #53.  The last person who elected to accept Jesus during His earthly ministry was the thief on the cross {LK 23:43}.

This teaching was a major theme in the writings of Paul, who called it a mystery (RM 16:25-26, EPH 3:6, CL 1:26-27, 2:2 & 4:3) or secret wisdom (1CR 1:22-24).  There had been hints of God’s universal plan of salvation in several of the OT prophets, especially Isaiah (IS 42:6, 45:2, 49:6, 66:23).  However, after Israel returned to Judah from the Babylonian captivity, Ezra established a strict legalistic tradition that ignored such prophecies (NEH 8&9).  Thus, most Jews were not "primed and ready" to receive Jesus as even a prophet.  See TOJ #86. {MT 10:18b, 11:28, LK 13:29-30}

 

TOJ #50:  Love God more than anything or anyone. [MT 8:20-22//LK 8:60-62]  This is the greatest TOJ or commandment. {MT 22:37-38}  Loving God more than money or material things (TOJ #38) seems to be the point of Jesus' comment to the first man.  Regarding the second man, Jesus would have been unkind (LK 6:35) to deny him permission to attend his father’s funeral.  Thus, I agree with those who think his father was still alive, and he wanted to delay making a commitment to follow Jesus.

The account in Luke shows that perhaps Jesus detected a wavering desire to follow Him at all.  Such ambivalence is portrayed in the Parable of the Great Banquet {LK 14:16-24; also see v.26-33.}  As Paul wrote (in 2CR 6:2):  “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (See HB 3:15, 4:7 & TOJ #62.)  Another illustration of this truth is the brief allusion {in LK 10:41-42} to the different priorities of Mary (LGW) and Martha (housekeeping).  The woman who anointed Jesus with perfume also showed her great devotion {MT 26:10-13//MK 14:6-9//JN 12:7}.

 

TOJ #51:  Also have working faith. [MT 8:10&26//MK 4:40//LK 8:25]  In addition to having saving Faith, Believers should trust God to provide for their earthly needs (TOJ #35).  Jesus commended the centurion for his great faith, but He reproved the disciples and later {MT 14:31-33} Peter in particular for having too little faith that He could save them from drowning.  Also, Jesus commended the sick woman {MT 9:22//MK 5:34; also see MT 15:28} and blind men {MT 9:27-29} for their faith that He would help them.  We see that ideally and eventually qualitative Faith in God or the kerygma (TOJ #8) includes a "great" quantity of faith in didachaic parts of God’s Word as it is learned. {MT 17:17-20, LK 17:6}  This truth is beautifully conveyed by a man’s prayer, “I do believe [have Faith]; help me overcome my unbelief [lack of faith]!” (MK 9:24)  Unbelief cannot limit God’s power, although it may blind one to perceiving it (MK 6:5), and illness is not necessarily due to a person’s sins or lack of faith (TOJ #190).

Jesus' statement {in MT 17:20//MK 9:23} that nothing will be impossible is related to TOJ #119.  Regarding receiving "whatever you ask for" {MT 21:21-22//MK 11:23-24}, we should remember TOJ #34.  The type of miracle God desires to perform is not moving mountains into seas, but rather transforming souls (RM 12:2, EPH 3:14-20), so they may move into  heaven  (Lesson 5).    Thus, Jesus encourages His disciples to ask for spiritual miracles {JN 14:14} such as the power to love {JN 15:7&16}, for resurrection to eternal joy {JN 16:24} and for true knowledge about God {JN 16:26}.

 

TOJ #52:  Jesus has divine authority. [MT 9:5-6//MK 2:8-11//LK 5:20-24] The Great Commission begins with this TOJ {MT 28:18}.  This authority includes forgiving sins and doing good work on the Sabbath {MT 12:8, LK 6:3-10}.  In John's gospel this authority is described in terms of judgment {JN 5:22-30} or giving eternal life {JN 17:2}, which means that God the Father and Son are "one" {JN 10:18&30}. 

The phrase "Son of Man" (MT 26:63-64) is another term signifying Messiah/Christ (TOJ #7).  It was first used by the prophets Daniel (DN 7:13) and Ezekiel (EZK 2:2, 3:1, etc.).  It is equivalent to Son of God or God the Son (TOJ #1). {LK 10:22}

 

TOJ #53:  Jesus calls all sinners to be saved. [MT 9:12-13//MK 2:17//LK 5:31-32]  Here sinners are viewed as sick; elsewhere as blind. {JN 9:41}  Although some may claim to be good, all have sinned (TOJ #185), even those who were raised by godly parents and never Sinned or rebelled against their Faith.  God saves all who respond to Jesus’ call {MT 11:28-29} by accepting His Lordship (TOJ #49).  Jesus likens lost souls to stray sheep {MT 18:12-14//LK 15:4-7} and to missing silver coins {LK 15:8-10}.  All were once little ones {MT 18:10} like Zacchaeus, who was considered to be one of the greatest sinners. {LK 19:9-10}

 

TOJ #54:  Jesus died to atone for sinners. [MT 9:15//MK 2:20//LK 5:34-35]  Jesus showed an awareness that He would die {MT 26:1, LK 9:22, 17:25}, which is probably one reason He promised to send a Comforter for those who mourn (TOJ #11).  He spoke {in LK 12:50} of His impending suffering and death as a baptism.  His most complete statement was on the journey to Jerusalem {MT 20:18-19//MK 10:32-34//LK 18:31-33}.  However, it remained for Paul to explain the rationale for Jesus' death (in RM 5:6-11).  Paradoxically, although the death of Messiah seemed to be the devil's victory, actually it was the moment when evil was judged (TOJ #195).  Christ died for all—for Hitler as well as for his victims—but only those who satisfy GRS benefit from the atonement.

Jesus cited the story of Jonah as foreshadowing these events {MT 12:40}, and He connected them with the prophecy of Elijah's reincarnation in Malachi 4:4-5 {MT 17:22-23}.  Jesus portrayed this teaching by means of the Lord's Supper {MT 26:26-29//MK 14:22-25//LK 22:15-20}.  In John's gospel references to being "lifted up" also speak  of  His  crucifixion {JN 3:14-15, 8:28, 12:31-32}, as does the reference to a dying seed {JN 12:24}, this hour {JN 12:27} or time {JN 17:1}, going away {JN 13:33&36, 16:5-7,10,16a,17a,19a,20a,21a,22a} and night {JN 9:4} or darkness {JN 12:35}.  See TOJ #94 for the rest of the story!

 

TOJ #55:  The NT supersedes the OT. [MT 9:16-17]  The unshrunken cloth and new wine signify the NT, and the old garment and wineskins represent the OT.  The book of Hebrews explains how it does so in a way that completes rather than contradicts the OT (comparable to the logical method of Hegelian synthesis, Lesson 1).  We need to be teachable or open to a new word from God (TOJ #10).  We need to handle God's Word correctly (2TM 2:15, TOJ #4).  Messianic Jews are doubly blessed!  {MT 13:52, MK 2:21-22, LK 5:36-39, 13:28}  Messianic Muslims should interpret the Koran in a way that complements rather than contradicts the OT/NT synthesis.  (See TOJ #87.)

 

TOJ #56:  Realize the need for truth-teachers. [MT 9:38//LK 10:2]  The work is teaching GW, especially GRS, so truth-seekers may learn how to be saved or "harvested".  (See EPH 4:11-16.)  See TOJ #58.

Most of the instructions Jesus gave to the twelve disciples before sending them to preach (in MT 10) seem applicable only to their specific mission, such as going only to the Jews (v.5-6) and relying solely on hospitality (v.9-13).  However, there are a few principles that surely are appropriate also for those seeking to obey Christ’s Great Commission in modern times (TOJ #164).

 

TOJ #57:  The end/kingdom of heaven is near. [MT 10:7]  Trying to ascertain the time of the end by deciphering Daniel and Revelation is futile, because even Jesus did not know (TOJ #144).  The prudent attitude is to assume it may occur at any moment (1THS 5:2).  For each person the judgment comes at the moment of death (HB 9:27, LK 12:19-20).  Thus, the need is to repent/Believe (TOJ #8) immediately. {LK 10:9&11}  This teaching occurs again with reference to Jesus’ Second Coming (TOJ #93).

 

TOJ #58:  Evangelists/truth-teachers should be supported. [MT 10:9-11//LK 9:3-5]  Those who benefit from their ministry should contribute to it.  This teaching was echoed by Paul (in 1CR 9:14 & 1TM 5:18).  {LK 10:4-7}  The support envisioned by Jesus included meals and rooms in private homes, perhaps because public inns (LK 2:7) were not available.  See TOJ #56.

 

TOJ #59:  Be shrewd but innocent. [MT 10:16-17//LK 10:3]  Beware of wolves, especially those in sheepskins!  See TOJ #47.  Faith without faith that loves or works is dead (JM 2:17) or not salvific, and a Christian who has saving Faith without wisdom may wind up dead!  Jesus knew that His disciples would find trouble even while seeking to avoid it (TOJ #18).  The need to be shrewd is the point of a parable in Luke. {LK 16:1-8}

 

TOJ #60:  Stand firm to the end. [MT 10:17-22]  This passage teaches the need for perseverance rather than choosing to commit apostasy (Lesson 4).  We must accept the risk of being rejected by anti-Christians without letting it quench our enthusiasm {MT 24:13, MK 13:13}.  Luke's wording seems to imply a temporal benefit {LK 21:18-19}. In John’s gospel the need for perseverance (and implicitly the possibility of apostasy) is indicated by the phrase “remain in me” {JN 15:4-10}.

 

TOJ #61:  God intends for all truth to become evident. [MT 10:26-27//LK 12:2-3]  This TOJ is related to #19.  The revelation of spiritual truth is progressive in correlation to the evolution of history. {MK4:21-22, LK 8:16-17}  See TOJ #201.

 

TOJ #62:  Fear rejection by God. [MT 10:28-33//LK 12:4-9]  Seek to please God rather than to be popular with unbelievers. {JN 5:41&44} Jesus will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of Him {MK 8:38//LK 9:26}.  This TOJ (the “flip side” of #49) involves the paradox that those who fear (love) God need not fear (the wrath of) God (RM 8:1). {LK 9:26}  Jesus exemplified this courage and wisdom when He was persecuted and crucified {MK 10:35-36}.

 

TOJ #63:  Love for God may "provoke" hatred by ungodly souls. [MT 10:22, 34-36//MK 13:12-13a//LK 12:49-53]  The sword of God's Spirit (EPH 5:17) may "prompt" physical attacks by demonic people, which will result in fire or judgment upon themselves.  This is like TOJ #18, but stated in terms of love rather than faith. {LK 21:16-17, JN 15:18-25}

 

TOJ #64:  Follow Christ's example. [MT 10:24-25&38//LK 6:40]  Be willing to suffer persecution {JN 15:20} or to sacrifice oneself {JN 12:24-26} in order to help others (TOJ #199).  The "cross" may even include death as a martyr. {MT 16:24-25//MK 8:34-35//LK 9:23-24, 14:27, 18:22, JN 13:36}

 

TOJ #65:  Spirit-filled Christians speak GW. [MT 10:19-20//MK 13:11//LK 21:14-15, JN 15:20-21]  They are spiritually one {JN 17:20-26, LK 10:16} or walking with God (Lesson 5), so they reflect the divine viewpoint {MT 16:19, JN 20:22-23}.  Paul (in 1 CR 4:1) seems to restate this point.  John said (in JN 3:34), "The one whom God has sent [Messiah] speaks the words of God; to him God gives the Spirit without limit."  And Jesus said, "As you [God] sent me into the world, I have sent them [His disciples] into the world. . . . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." (JN 17:18&20)  The authority to trample on snakes {LK 10:19} surely is meant metaphorically! {MT 10:40-42}  The reverse corollary of this teaching is that those who reject God's prophets or priests (RV 1:9, 1PT 2:9) reap the condemnation of rebelling against God. {MT 18:18-20, LK 10:9-16, JN 13:20}

 

TOJ #66:  John is the last OT prophet. [MT 11:4-15]  This literal truth is amplified by a metaphorical truth:  John is Elijah, the harbinger of the Messiah (ML 3:1 & 4:5).  {MT 17:11-13//MK 9:12-13, LK 7:18-28, 16:16}

 

TOJ #67:  Many souls are not truth-seekers. [MT 11:15-19//LK 7:31-35]  They are deaf toward the truth, so they do not dance with joy at hearing the gospel; and they are hypercritical of GW, although they may be educated (1CR 1:18-25), so they will not learn no matter what teaching method is used. {JN 8:43, 10:25a&26}  This is similar to TOJ #46. 

Some statements {MT 11:25-26, MK 4:12//LK 10:21} sound as though Jesus or God wanted to prevent people from understanding the gospel, but since God is not tricky (TOJ #29, #30, #44, #53, etc.), we must infer that Jesus was employing irony.

 

TOJ #68:  Woe to unbelievers! [MT 11:21-24//LK 10:13-15]  This is the other side of TOJ #9.  It is not a wish, but a tragic fact.  Woe refers to hell, the just/logical consequence of rejecting God's heaven.  Unbelievers will lose all blessings and true knowledge.  {MT 13:12, 18:6-9, 25:29, LK 6:24-26, 7:31-35, 17:1, JN 3:18}

 

TOJ #69:  GRS is simple enough for a child to satisfy. [MT 11:25-26//LK 10:21]  Thus, Jesus commanded parents/adults to let little children hear the gospel and accept Him {MT 19:14//MK 10:14//LK 18:16}.  Perhaps He had in mind Psalm 8:2. {MT 20:16}  He does not give an exact age, but moral/spiritual understanding and consequent accountability seems to develop around the age of ten or just prior to puberty. 

The Bible does not reveal the destiny of pre-moral or unaccountable children, but certainly they would not be damned.  So, if a child accepts God/Christ as soon as he/she understands GRS (Lesson 3) and remains Faithful until death, then there is no time when he/she is not saved.  See TOJ #99.  This is God's "plan A", although it might not make a very entertaining testimony!

 

TOJ #70:  Genuine theists will become Christians. [MT 11:27//LK 10:22]  Whoever truly loves/worships God will accept Jesus as God's Son/Messiah. {JN 5:42-43, 6:45, 17:3}  He/she will perceive that Jesus spoke the truth. {JN 7:16-17, 8:39,42&47}  They are His sheep {JN 10:27, 14:1b}.  (Lesson 5)

This TOJ should be understood in conjunction with the fact that God desires to save or be known by all souls (v.28, JN 3:16, RM 5:8, PHP 2:10-11, 1TM 2:3-4).  The reverse side of this truth is that whoever does not acknowledge Moses and other prophets will not accept Jesus as more than a prophet.  See TOJ #177, #179 & #202.  {LK 18:17, JN 8:42}

 

TOJ #71:  Satisfying GRS is as easy as an act of will. [MT 11:30]  The act of will/Faith is like opening one's hand to receive a gift.  It is a condition for salvation, but it is not meritorious.  How God is able to equip souls with volition is a mystery, and why anyone would reject truth, love and eternal joy by choosing to doubt in the absence of disproof is also unfathomable.  See TOJ #69 & #136.  (Also see Lesson 2)

 

TOJ #72:  It is lawful to do good work on the Sabbath. [MT 12:9-13]  Jesus demonstrated this truth by healing a man with a shriveled hand {MK 3:4-5//LK 6:9-10} and a crippled woman {LK 13:10-17}.  It is lawful to do good work every day, but employers should let workers have at least one day of rest per week (MK 2:27). 

Many people then and now have trouble distinguishing between man-made mores and divine virtues.  Even many of the God-inspired rules taught by Moses were meant to be temporary.  Eternal moral laws are affirmed in the NT (GL 5:22-23).    Paul (in CL 2:16-23) and the author of Hebrews (HB 10:1-16) tried to explain that certain Mosaic doctrines had the purpose of preserving Jewish culture until Messiah was born (RM 9:5), at which time they were superseded by a new covenant based on the eternal law of love (TOJ #55). {JN 7:21-24}

 

TOJ #73:  The worst sinner may become the best witness. [LK 7:37-47]  The most hateful persecutor can become the most loving disciple.  The apostle Paul felt himself to fit in this category (1CR 15:9-10).  (This and the following teaching from Luke would seem to fit about here in Matthew’s record, because they precede the Parable of the Sower.)  This principle may be the basis for language about degrees of reward in heaven.  The difference is not so much how God treats saints as it is their varying capacity to appreciate His blessings.  See TOJ #18.

 

TOJ #74:  Souls are saved by Faith. [LK 7:48-50]  Implicit in this teaching is that saving Faith is in God and His Messiah.  Although Jesus spoke of Faith (vs. Sin) and working faith (vs. sins, see TOJ #51), He did not specify which type He meant {in MK 10:52//LK 18:42, LK 8:48, 17:19, JN 5:14}.  Paul clarified the relation between them in passages such as Romans 3:21-4:16 and Ephesians 2:8-10. {JN 3:16, 6:29}

 

TOJ #75:  Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. [MT 12:25-32//MK 3:29//LK 12:10, LK 11:17-22]  Jesus attempted (in v.25-29) to show the Pharisees how their logic was perverted.  The meaning of “blasphemy” is speaking against, and speaking comes from the heart (see the next TOJ).  Speaking against the Spirit of love is a symptom of hatred for God/Good.  Repentance and forgiveness is possible before death (TOJ #57) except for Believers who intentionally commit apostasy (HB 6:4-6) or repudiate their Faith, after which there is no reason for reconversion (HB 10:26-29), so God's Spirit no longer convicts them of Sin (PS 53:11).  Thus, "the final condition of that man is worse than the first." {MT 12:45}  See TOJ #79.

 

TOJ #76:  What you say and do manifests who you are. [MT 12:33-37//LK 6:43-45]  Jesus described vulgar language and immoral behavior as making a person unclean {MT 15:10&17-20//MK 7:14-23}.  Paul also spoke against obscene language (EPH 5:4).  We should say what we mean and mean what we say.  Shooting off one's mouth is as irresponsible and potentially harmful as firing a loose cannon.  James compared evil words to fire and poison (JM 3:5-12). Words are deeds.  Sin may precede sins, and Faith motivates faith (PR 16:2).

 

TOJ #77:  Do not expect God to prove Himself by means of miracles. [MT 12:39//MK 8:12//LK 11:29-32]  Jesus characterized sign-seekers as wicked and adulterous {MT 16:2-4}.  The reason is because evil people want proof.  However, proof would be tantamount to being forced to follow God’s will from fear of damnation, which would not be free and genuine cooperation.  Of course, only those who saw the miracle would be persuaded, and then only until the memory faded, so Jesus would have to work miracles for everyone now and then from then on if that way (rather than teaching the gospel/GW) were to be His "SOP" or normative method of conversion.  See TOJ #4.  Thus, God's typical mode of operation is not performing miracles {MT 24:24}. (TOJ #78)  This is the point of Abraham's comment to the rich man {LK 16:29-31}.  God wants souls to live by faith (2CR 5:7) and to freely reflect His love (1JN 4:10-11), although He did perform deniable miracles in order to enable Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt (EX 7:3-5) and in order to establish the New Covenant (JN 2:11, 10:38, 11:4, 14:11, 20:30-31).  These miracles include prophesying {JN 13:19, 14:29, 16:4}.

We need to ponder this doctrine for several reasons:  first, because we may tend to assume the improbability of a spiritual dimension; second, we products of modern science demand demonstrable evidence that something is true (cf. JN 4:48); third, we may wonder why God does not zap evildoers and disprove false preachers (Lesson 2).

 

TOJ #78:  God normatively communicates via human teachers. [MT 12:41-42]  See TOJ #3 & #77.  The apostle Paul taught this truth (in 1CR 1:22-23) and indicated that some form of preaching/teaching of GW is available worldwide (RM 10:14-18).  As Peter wrote (2PT 1:5-15), I find myself in need of continual reminding of this truth and others that will add goodness to my faith.  {LK 11:31-32, JN 20:29}

 

TOJ #79:  Remain filled with the Holy Spirit. [MT 12:43-45//LK 11:24-26]  Paul clarifies (in EPH 5:18) what Jesus implies.  A new Believer grows spiritually by LGW and remaining Spirit-filled more and more of the time until his/her life is characterized by love as a mature Believer.  (See EPH 4:11-15 and Lesson 5)  Jesus taught this truth again by saying (in JN 8:11), "Leave your life of sin."  A Believer who becomes complacent about evil is in danger of committing apostasy.  See TOJ #60 & #75.

 

TOJ #80:  Christians are spiritual siblings. [MT 12:48-50//MK 34-35//LK 8:21]  Christian spouses are siblings, and Christian parents are siblings of their believing children.  Thus, teachings regarding relationships with fellow Believers are applicable to family.  The brotherhood of mankind is an ideal that can only be made real by souls becoming children of God. {LK 11:28}

 

TOJ #81:  Be teachable/humble. [MT 13:3-23//MK 4:3-9&13-20//LK 8:5-8&11-15]  In Matthew 11:29 the word "yoke" represents humility, while teachability is literally denoted by Jesus' command to learn (cf. PR 11:2).  The Parable of the Sower is a fictional story that conveys a literal truth related to several other TOJ:  on LGW (TOJ #3), on perseverance (#60), on worry (#40), and on humility (#10).  Three attitudes opposed to teachability include:  a hard heart or closed mind (v.11-15), a shallow or insincere desire to learn, and worries or materialism. {MT 18:4//MK 9:37}

 

TOJ #82:  Disciples of Jesus are wise. [MT 13:11-17//MK 4:11-12&24-25//LK 8:10, 10:23-24]  They are truly wise in the virtuous sense found in the Proverbs (PR 1:1-7, etc.), which is described by Paul as the mind of Christ (1CR 2:6-16).  Unbelievers are foolish or deluded by lies disguised as wisdom (MT 11:25, RM 1:22, 1CR 1:17-25, 2CR 4:4, 11:14).  See TOJ #59 & #89. {MT 25:29-30}

 

TOJ #83:  There will be a final judgment. [MT 13:24-30, 37-43 & 47-50]  At the moment “believing is seeing”, uncoerced conversion is not possible and fearful “faith” (MK 5:36, LK 2:10, 1JN 4:18) would negate the purpose of this mortal life.  (See Lesson 2)  Without the Day of the Lord (1THS 5:2, RV 16:14) faith in Christ would be futile and life would be a farce. {MT 16:27-28, 22:13}  See TOJ #195.

 

TOJ #84:  The kingdom of heaven will be universal. [MT 13:31-33//MK 4:30-32//LK 13:18-21]  The promise made to Abraham (GN 22:17-18, RM 4:16-18) is relevant in this regard.  This teaching is similar to #49, but it emphasizes the extent rather than the content of faith.  Jesus will become the head of one flock or body of Believers {JN 10:16}.  See TOJ #191.  Paul referred to this universal mission (EPH 1:9-10) and catholic church (CL 1:18-20).  (See Lesson 5)

 

TOJ #85:  Heaven is worth everything. [MT 13:44-45//MK 10:29-30//LK 18:29-30]  It is well worth the wait and the cost of every earthly pain or sacrifice or persecution for admitting Faith in Christ (PHP3:7-8).  {MT 10:32-33, 16:25-27, 19:28-29, MK 8:36, LK 9:25-26}  See TOJ #38.

 

TOJ #86:  A prophet's message tends to be demeaned by his/her family and friends. [MT 13:57//MK 6:4//LK 4:24]  Stating this in terms of a well-known saying:  Do not let familiarity with a truth-teacher breed contempt for his/her true teaching.

 

TOJ #87:  Legalists cite tradition as an excuse for subverting morality. [MT 15:3-9//MK 7:6-13]  Jesus cited the fact that traditionalists would water or rescue an animal on the Sabbath while prohibiting healing a human {LK 14:5, JN 7:23-24}.  See TOJ #72.  He connected this sin with hypocrisy (TOJ #134).  Ungodly legalism is usually the case when people fight in the name of God.  If Jews and Muslims truly worshipped the one true God, they would unite in Christian fellowship as Messianic Jews/Muslims (GL 3:28-29, EPH 2:19-22, TOJ #160).  Whoever does not teach the truth is a blind guide {MT 15:13-14}, Pharisee {LK 11:39-44} and hypocrite {LK 13:15-16}.

 

TOJ #88:  Jesus' primary mission was to Israel. [MT 15:24//MK 7:27]  However, Jesus commissioned Paul to focus on the Gentiles (ACTS 9:15, GL 2:9), who may be the “other sheep” Jesus cites in John 10:16.  See TOJ #49.  The persistent Gentile woman of Matthew 15:25-28 may be an example of the “forceful men” Jesus mentioned in 11:12.  {Also, see MT 10:5-6.}  The Koran is mistaken in teaching that God intends for Jews and Muslims to follow Moses and Mohammed rather than to fellowship in Christ Jesus.  See TOJ #84.

 

TOJ #89:  Be wise as well as educated. [MT 16:2-3, LK 12:54-57]  We need to heed spiritual storm warnings, too, and to learn about spiritual reality {JN 3:10-12}.  We must not let genius blind us to common sense {JN 9:39}, so that we become foolish.  See TOJ #59 & #82.

 

TOJ #90:  Ultimate truth may be expressed by figurative (non-literal) language. [MT 16:11-12//MK 8:15-17//LK 12:1]  Yeast symbolizes teaching.  See TOJ #95 for another example.  In John's gospel Jesus spoke of His flesh as the bread of life {JN 6:48-58}, and He also stated this truth literally {in JN 16:25}.

 

TOJ #91:  The church of Christ and the kingdom of God are equivalent. [MT 16:18-19a]  This truth is evident in Revelation (1:6, 21:2).

 

TOJ #92:  God’s plan of salvation may not always seem logical. [MT 16:23-25//MK 8:35//LK 9:24]  Paul discussed this point (in 1CR1:18-25).  God’s thoughts may not be perfectly comprehensible now (IS 55:8-9, 1CR 2:14), but they are perfectly rational and will become clear in heaven (1CR 13:9-12). {MT 10:39, LK 14:8-11, JN 12:25}

 

TOJ #93:  The "Second Coming" of Christ will be soon. [MT 16:28//MK 9:1]  This is a significant reiteration of TOJ #57.  Apparently, Jesus thought it would occur before some of His disciples died {MT 10:23, 24:34//MK 13:30//LK 21:32, MK 9:13}, although He asserted that only God the Father knows the time (TOJ #143).  Peter (in 2PT 3:9) stated that God delayed Judgment Day in order to enable more souls to be saved, although presumably more souls might choose not to Repent, too.  We should be ready at any time (MT 24:42), so we can say, "Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus." (RV 22:20) {LK 9:27}

 

TOJ #94:  Jesus would be resurrected. [MT 17:9&22-23//MK 10:34]  This teaching builds on TOJ #4 and rekindles the hope that was dashed in TOJ #54. {MT 28:9-10, MK 9:9}  Paul indicated (in 1CR 15:17-19) that this is the only biblical miracle which is necessary to believe in order to be saved {JN 2:19}.  Going to heaven afterward must have been what Jesus meant when He said "I go to the one who sent me" {JN 7:33-34, 8:21, 13:33&36, 16:16b, 20b, 22b}.  See TOJ #128. {LK 26:32}

At this point I will rather arbitrarily include teachings in Mark and Luke that apparently occurred before the Transfiguration event.

 

TOJ #95:  LGW prepares souls for Judgment Day. [MK 4:26-29]  The seed symbolizes GW (MK 4:14, LK 8:11), the grain is Christ-like moral maturity (GL 5:22, 6:7-9), and the harvest is the end of the world (MT 13:30, MK 4:26-29), when truth-seekers will be separated from ungodly souls.

 

TOJ #96:  Be kind to all without prejudice. [LK 10:29-37]  This is the point of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (which is located before the Sample Prayer).  Kindness is akin to love (GL 5:22, CL 3:12). {LK 6:35b}  See TOJ #113.

 

TOJ #97:  Be persistent in prayer/Faith. [LK 11:5-8, MT 15:23&28]  (This teaching immediately follows the Sample Prayer.) Righteous prayer is a manifestation of both saving Faith and working faith (TOJ #51).  God is not bothered by Believers' reasonable concerns, and His answer may be “not yet” rather than “no”. {LK 18:1-8}

 

After the Transfiguration, Jesus concluded His ministry in Galilee and moved toward Judea (MT 19:1) in preparation for the final events of His earthly mission.

 

TOJ #98:  Pay appropriate taxes. [MT 17:27]  How much is appropriate is not specified, but the principal “no taxation without representation” seems to be a logical check on government excess. {MT 22:21// MK 12:17//LK 20:25}  I wonder if it is right for a (non-voluntary) tax to government to exceed the (cheerfully given, 2CR 9:7) biblical tithe (tenth of a person’s income) to ministry (MAL 3:10).  Although it seems fair for wealthy persons to contribute a greater percentage than poor folks, determining an equitable scale requires having the wisdom of Solomon.

 

TOJ #99:  Be good stewards of children. [MT 18:5-6&10//LK 17:1-2]  All adults are responsible to be good witnesses, who encourage children (one of life's most wonderful blessings) to accept GRS (EPH 6:4).  See TOJ #69. {MK 9:37&42}  The logical or implicit corollary of this TOJ is that parents who will not be good stewards/witnesses should not procreate.  Of course, discerning unqualified people and enforcing this principle is very problematic, but at least we should realize that parenthood is not an unconditional divine right.  At least hindsight should be able to indicate some people (e.g., child abusers), who definitely should be discouraged and perhaps prohibited from producing more children.

 

TOJ #100:  Communicate! [MT 18:15-17a]  Or in the words of Paul, speak the truth in love (EPH 4:15).  This TOJ is closely related to the next one.  Communication is the method for converting Sinners (RM 10:14) and for maturing saved sinners (HB 5:11-6:1).  Note the four steps for resolving disagreements:  talk privately, include a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion, enlist mature church representatives to act in lieu of a court, and then excommunicate the person who is acting like a pagan (TOJ #102).

 

TOJ #101:  Watch yourself before rebuking fellow sinners. [LK 17:3a]  The location of this TOJ, found in the gospels only in Luke, seems to fit between the TOJ regarding communication and excommunication. Those who obey this command should first be sure they are obeying Jesus' commands not to be judgmental (MT 7:3-5, TOJ #42) and to forgive (v.17:3b, TOJ #14), lest they become hypercritical and hypocritical.

Paul also taught self-examination (2CR 13:5-8, cf. Lesson 3) and rebuking (in his "pastoral" epistles, 1TM 5:20, 2TM 4:2, TIT 2:15).  The motive for a rebuke must be divine love (RV 3:19), so the words conveying reproof should be gentle or redemptive (GL 6:1).

 

TOJ #102:  Excommunicate fruitless "Christians". [MT 18:17-18]  Although saints are not perfect, someone who typically exhibits sinful fruit (GL 5:19-21) apparently is not a genuine Believer (TOJ #48 & #148).  The reference to binding and loosing {also in MT 16:19 & 18:18-20} is problematic, because it can be applied incorrectly, as it was most notably by the Roman popes against Martin Luther and the Protestants.  Jesus does seem to say {also in JN 20:23} that, if Believers represent God's will on earth rightly, then their disfellowship reflects the ultimate status of the excommunicant.  See TOJ #65, #123 & #152.

However, this is a big "if", so the danger of committing the sin of judgmentalism should lead us to adopt the view (also stated in Lesson 6) that disfellowship does not mean Christians cease all interaction with a sinning or carnal person (1CR 3:1-3), but rather that they change the nature of the relationship from fellowshipping to witnessing and reproving.  Paul once advocated this doctrine (in 1CR 5:1-13). 

 

TOJ #103:  Worship and pray with fellow Christians. [MT 18:20]  The first two or three worshippers form the nucleus of a local congregation or church.  The writer of Hebrews affirmed this command (in HB 10:25).

 

TOJ #104:  Marriage is a spiritual union until death. [MT 19:4-6]  The phrase about leaving one's father and mother means that a man—and a woman—should be ready for marriage by attaining a sufficient degree of independence from their parents, both financial and psychological.  They should be prepared to become parents themselves, even if they hope not to have a child for awhile, which means they should be rather spiritually mature, having the same love for each other as Christ has for His bride, the church. 

The marital commitment is (or should be, cf. TOJ #109) signified by sexual union or becoming "one flesh" (GN 2:24), although it may be proper to fulfill legal and traditional expectations such as licenses and ceremonies for the purpose of avoiding being "a stumbling block to the weak" (1CR 8:9), who do not understand the essence of marriage.  Obviously, that which must not be separated is the spiritual unity, so the sin of divorce also is a spiritual event and reality before it becomes a legal one.  This realization should motivate spouses to work on the quality of their communication before serious problems develop in their relationship.  See TOJ #26.

 

TOJ #105:  It may be best not to marry if you have the gift of celibacy. [MT 19:11-12]  This teaching is related to TOJ #27 & #109.  God grants some (but not many) people celibacy so they may focus their time and energy on other ways of serving God (1CR 7:1,7-9,25-28&32-38), although requiring celibacy for clergy who do not have that gift can contribute to sexual immorality.

 

TOJ #106:  Only God is good (loving/perfect). [MT 19:17//MK 10:18//LK 18:19]  Created souls are innocent until their first sin and volitional (GN 3:6-13) after the age of accountability (TOJ #69).  They may share God’s goodness if they accept His Lordship and reflect His love (1JN 4:10-17).  See TOJ #19, 21 & #148.

 

TOJ #107:  Obey the moral commandments. [MT 19:18-19]  Jesus implicitly affirmed two of the Ten Commandments against murder and adultery in the Sermon on the Mount, but His answer to the man’s question here specifically affirms these and three more of the Decalogue.  Each of these is significant enough to warrant separate enumeration and discussion.

 

TOJ #108:  Do not murder. [MT 19:18]  Society has clearly understood this to mean that it is wrong to terminate a human life after birth.  The question being debated currently is whether a fetus has the divine right to life.  The Bible does not provide the answer to this issue, (which I discuss in Lesson 13).  {MK 10:19, LK 18:20}

 

TOJ #109:  Do not commit adultery. [MT 19:18]  Certainly, this teaching could be viewed as part of TOJ #24, but our society stresses (idolizes?) sexuality so much that it is needful to reiterate that sexual intercourse is the act of marriage in the eyes of God (TOJ #104), so that anyone who has sex with a second partner commits both fornication (extra-marital sex) and adultery.  Much of secular society (music, movies, etc.) normalizes (and almost requires via peer pressure) sexual sins (“playboys”, “responsible sex”, “alternative lifestyles”, etc.).  Such morally weak people should hope someone invents a pill (called "Cold Shower"?) that diminishes their libido and temptation to be promiscuous!  {MK 10:19, LK 18:20}

 

TOJ #110:  Do not steal. [MT 19:18, 15:19]  Paul wrote (in EPH 4:28) that believers (and everyone should believe) ought to earn their living (necessities) plus something extra that may be shared with those in need, thus eliminating any compelling reason to steal.  {MK 10:19, LK 18:20}

 

TOJ #111:  Do not lie. [MT 19:18, 15:19]  It is better to say nothing than to allow the devil to speak through us (JN 8:44).  Paul also echoed this commandment (in EPH 4:25).  Lying kills the truth and is akin to physical murder (TOJ #135). {MK 10:19, LK 18:20}

 

TOJ #112:  Honor your parents. [MT 19:19]  Godly parents represent God our heavenly parent, and their godly discipline promotes obedience of God’s laws.  (See EPH 6:1-4.)  Hopefully, children are not more spiritually mature than their parents, although this sometimes happens (in which case MT 7:3 applies)!  Believing parents are spiritual siblings of their Christian children (TOJ #80). {MK 10:19, LK 18:20}

 

TOJ #113:  Love your fellow human beings. [MT 19:19]  See TOJ #129.  The power to love is the miracle Believers should perform (EPH 3:16-19).  They are wise to pray for this along with the power to resist sin (TOJ #37).  The purpose of LGW includes knowing how to apply this principle.  Applications are given in TOJ #96 & #117. {MT 22:39}

The following unique teachings from Luke 15-17 are included at this point because the next teachings in Matthew 19 are parallel with verses in Luke 18.

 

TOJ #114:  God forgives those who repent. [LK 15:11-32]  In the Parable of the Lost Son, notice that every sin was forgiven (1JN 1:9).  Surely we will leave jealousy and other sinful attitudes behind when we graduate to heaven.  The heavenly or holy saint is described by Paul in several places (such as CL 3:1-14).  See TOJ #8, #29 & #74.

 

TOJ #115:  Utilize material assets in order to witness for God. [LK 16:9-12]  This is Jesus’ second teaching about shrewdness (TOJ #59).  Paul refers to “true riches” or spiritual wealth several times (EPH 1:18, 2:7, 3:8& 16, CL 2:2-3).

 

TOJ #116:  Be grateful for God’s grace. [LK 17:17-18]  Thankfulness is near to godliness (1THS 5:18).  The Greek word for grace also means "gift", so see TOJ #121.

TOJ #117:  Give to the poor. [MT 19:21//MK 10:21//LK 18:22]  How much a person should share is not specified.  The OT taught that a tithe should be given to the Lord’s “storehouse” (ML 3:8-10), but the NT teaches that people are stewards of the Lord’s property (MT 25:14) and that the Lord wants saints to give cheerfully (2CR 9:7).  They should be happy to contribute a fair share, and the OT tithe seems to be a reasonable percentage (cf. TOJ #98).  The goal should be for everyone to be able to earn a living (2CR 8:13-15, 2THS 3:10).  {LK 12:33, 14:12-14}

 

TOJ #118:  Materialism is anathema. [MT 19:23-24//MK 10:23-25//LK 18:24-25]  It is the sin of greed that Paul equated with idolatry (CL 3:5, EPH 5:5), which is antithetical to satisfying GRS (1CR 6:10).  Jesus {in LK 12:16-21} told the Parable of the Rich Young Fool to illustrate this truth.  Also, see TOJ #41, 50, & 85. 

 

TOJ #119:  God is almighty. [MT 19:26//MK 10:27//LK 18:27]  He can do anything that does not contradict who He is (Lesson 1).  He chooses not to prevent evil behavior in order to preserve humanity (Lesson 2).  Statements that appear to ascribe power to prayer or faith {MT 21:22, MK 10:52, LK 17:19, 18:42} mean that God may answer prayer or work through Believers.  {MT 17:20//MK 9:23}

 

TOJ #120:  Heavenly society is the opposite of earthly vanity. [MT 19:30//MK 10:31//LK 13:30]  Galatians 3:28 and James 2:1-5 give us a glimpse.  Instead of a divine dictator, we will find heaven ruled by a suffering servant {MT 21:31-32, MK 12:38-40, LK 16:15, 22:25-27}. Jesus made this point when He went to eat at a Pharisee's house {LK 14:11} and in the Parable of the Two Prayers {LK 18:14}.  A memorable portrayal of this teaching is when Jesus washed His disciple's feet {JN 13:5-17}.  {MT 11:8-19//LK 7:33-35}  Also see TOJ #125.  (See Lesson 6)

 

TOJ #121:  Salvation is God’s gift.   [MT 20:1-16&23//MK 10:35-45]  Eternal life is given to all who believe, and it is wrong to seek a superior status.  See TOJ #116.

 

TOJ #122:  Whoever is not against Christ is on God's side. [MK 9:40//LK 9:50]  Morality is a duality.  Reality is designed so there are only two spiritual/moral poles or sides (not an ethical Yin-Yang).  The phrase "in my/your name" indicates that the person was a Believer but was not one of the Twelve.  Perhaps one could consider him as foreshadowing denominations in the Church.  Different flavors of Christianity are fine (as are truth-seeking souls at different places along the pilgrim path between God-consciousness and hearing the gospel of Jesus, Lesson 3).  Various Christian organizations working in harmony is a great witness.  The sin of denominationalism begins when factional strife develops (1CR 3:3-9, Lesson 6). 

Comparing this TOJ with #40, perhaps the synthesis is that if we do not decide, God will know why, so we should have a good reason for not being with Jesus (and there is none). {JN 3:18}