Query for the Month
of January 2003
Next up-date: February 1st 2003 (God willing).
Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.
Some perpetual questions ....
Do you know the difference
between the "love" that is of Christianity
To obtain a free programme to translate some of
Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends. It's called "Light on the Dark Side of God" and is one of the best on this subject that I have ever read!
What does this mean?
To understand this quote it is necessary to read the context.Matthew 15:
[explain] to us this parable." 16 And Jesus said, "Are you also yet without understanding? 17 Do not you yet understand, that whatsoever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? [They are physical only.]"
18 "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 these are the things which defile a man[for they are sinful]: but to eat with unwashed hands defiles not a man." [It may make him sick, but it is not a sin.
It is obvious from the reading that the Pharisees were offended at what Jesus was teaching for He was saying that many of their customs and religious laws had no basis in Scripture. Heavenly "plants" are Biblical truths - "weeds" are the interpretations or additions of men.
So when He said that "the weeds" would be pulled out He was referring to those traditions.
The scribes and Pharisees, expecting to see Jesus at the Passover, had laid a trap for Him, but Jesus, knowing their purpose, had absented Himself from this gathering. As He did not go to them, they came to Him. "Then came together to Him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes." Matthew 15:1.
They came because for a time it had seemed that the people of Galilee would receive Jesus as the Messiah, and that the power of the hierarchy in that region would be broken. The mission of the twelve, indicating an extension of Christ's work, and bringing the disciples more directly into conflict with the rabbis, had also excited anew the jealousy of the leaders at Jerusalem. Matthew 10:5.
Now another deputation was sent to watch His movements, and find some accusation against Him.
As before, the ground of complaint was His disregard of the traditional precepts with which they had surrounded the law of God. These were professedly designed to guard the observance of the law, but had come to be regarded as more sacred than the law itself. When they came in collision with the commandments given from Sinai, preference was actually given to the rabbinical rules!
Among the observances most strenuously enforced was that of ceremonial purification but there were others not so obvious.
A neglect of the forms to be observed before eating was accounted a very grave sin, to be punished both in this world and in the next.
The rules in regard to purification were numberless. The period of a lifetime was scarcely sufficient for one to learn them all. The life of those who tried to observe the rabbinical requirements was one long struggle against ceremonial defilement, an endless round of washings and purifications. While the people were occupied with trifling distinctions, and observances which God had not required, their attention was turned away from the great principles of His law.
The disciples did not observe these ceremonial washings any more for Jesus had shown them that He didnt, and the spies made this neglect the ground of their accusation. They did not, however, make a direct attack on Christ, but came to Him with criticism of His disciples. In the presence of the multitude they said, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread." Matthew 15:2.
This was not done for cleanliness but involved so many times to wash this way and then so many times that way etc. Then a certain number of rinses were required to finish. Jesus was not attempting to bypass hygiene but simply the senseless requirements of the elders.
Whenever the message of truth comes home to souls with special power, Satan stirs up his agents to start a dispute over some minor question. Thus he seeks to attract attention from the real issue. Whenever a good work is begun, there are critics ready to enter into dispute over forms or technicalities, to draw minds away from the living realities. When it appears that God is about to work in a special manner for His people, we should not be enticed into controversies that will work only ruin of souls. We should stay close to the Bible and the Bible only.
The questions that most concern us are, "Do I believe with SAVING faith on the Son of God? Is my life in harmony with the divine law?" for it is written:
1 John 2:3
Jesus made no attempt to defend Himself or His disciples. "Let them alone", He had said. And in the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:28-30) He had expressly commanded not to try and pull up the weeds because of the effect it would have on the true believers. If left alone, under the influence of the "Sun of righteousness" weedswill wither and die.
Jesus made no reference to the charges against Him, but proceeded to show the spirit that actuated these sticklers for human rites. He gave them an example of what they were repeatedly doing, and had done just before coming in search of Him. "Full well you reject the commandment of God," He said, "that you may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour your father and your mother; and, Whoso curses father or mother, let him die the[second] death: but you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift [to the church], by whatsoever you might be profited by me; he shall be free. And you suffer him no more to do anything for his father or his mother." Mark 7:9-12.
In an old book in my library this principle is so thoroughly covered that I will share with you the authors view of it, with some suitable changes for todays readers.
Thus they set aside the fifth commandment as of no consequence, while they were very exact in carrying out the traditions of the elders. They taught the people that the devotion of their property to the temple was a duty more sacred than even the support of their parents; and that, however great the necessity, it was sacrilege to impart to father or mother any part of what had been thus consecrated. An undutiful child had only to pronounce the word "Corban" over his property, thus devoting it to God, and he could retain it for his own use during his lifetime, and after his death it was to be appropriated to the temple service. Thus he was at liberty, both in life and in death, to dishonour and defraud his parents, under cover of a pretended devotion to God.
Never, by word or deed, did Jesus lessen man's obligation to present gifts and offerings to God. It was Christ who gave all the directions of the law in regard to tithes and offerings. When on earth He commended the poor woman who gave her all to the temple treasury. Matthew 12:42-43. But the apparent zeal for God on the part of the priests and rabbis was a pretence to cover their desire for gain. The people were deceived by them. They were bearing heavy burdens which God had not imposed. Even the disciples of Christ were not wholly free from the yoke that had been bound upon them by inherited prejudice and rabbinical authority.
Now, by revealing the true spirit of the rabbis, Jesus sought to free from the bondage of tradition all who were really desirous of serving God.
"You hypocrites," He said, addressing the wily spies, "well did Esaias[Isaiah] prophesy of you, saying, This people draws nigh to Me with their mouth, and honours Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:7-9.
The words of Christ were an arraignment of the whole system of Pharisaism. He declared that by placing their requirements above the divine precepts the rabbis were setting themselves above God.
The deputies from Jerusalem were filled with rage. They could not accuse Christ as a violator of the law given from Sinai, for He spoke as its defender against their traditions. The great precepts of the law, which He had presented, appeared in striking contrast to the petty rules that men had devised.
To the multitude, and afterward more fully to His disciples, Jesus explained that defilement comes not from without, but from within. Purity and impurity pertain to the heart and mind. It is the evil deed, the evil word, the evil thought, the transgression of the law of God, not the neglect of external, man-made ceremonies, that defiles a man.
The disciples noted the rage of the spies as their false teaching was exposed. They saw the angry looks, and heard the half-muttered words of dissatisfaction and revenge. Forgetting how often Christ had given evidence that He read their hearts as an open book, they told Him of the effect of His words. Hoping that He might conciliate the enraged[church] officials [this is always a vain hope], they said to Jesus, "Know You that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?" Matthew 15:12.
He answered, "Every plant, which My heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up." The customs and traditions so highly valued by the rabbis were of this world, not from heaven. However great their authority with the people, they could not endure the testing of God. Every human invention that has been substituted for the commandments of God will be found worthless in that day when "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14.
Israel had not perceived the spiritual nature of the law, and too often their professed obedience was merely an observance of forms and ceremonies, rather than a surrender of the heart to the sovereignty of love. As Jesus in His character and work represented to men the holy, benevolent, and paternal attributes of God, and presented the worthlessness of mere ceremonial obedience, the Jewish leaders did not receive or understand His words. They thought that He dwelt too lightly upon the requirements of the law; and when He set before them the very truths that were the heart of their divinely appointed service, they, looking only at the external, accused Him of seeking to overthrow it.
What does this mean to us?
The substitution of the precepts of men for the commandments of God has not ceased. Even among professed Christians today are found institutions and usages that have no better foundation than the traditions of the fathers. Such institutions, resting upon mere human authority, have supplanted those of divine appointment.
Men and women cling to their traditions, and revere their customs, and cherish hatred against those who seek to show them their error.
But "every plant, which My heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up." In place of the authority of the so-called fathers of the church, God bids us accept the word of the eternal Father, the LORD of heaven and earth. Here alone is truth unmixed with error. David said, "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancient/s, because I keep Your precepts." Psalm 119:99-100.
Conclusion:Godly plants: All who accept human authority, the customs of the church, or the traditions of the fathers (and this includes using dictionaries for the meaning of Biblical words), should take heed to the warning conveyed in the words of Christ, "In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
They should turn and browse in the garden of God and appreciate for themselves the beauties of the heavenly plots free of weeds. This should be done without reference to dictionaries, for they also are only the comprehension of men it is safer to allow the Bible to explain itself.
Thus "the blind" who lead other "blind" ones are those who trust in the "weeds" instead of the word of God alone.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next query. To be discussed from February 1st 2003.
Send in your thought on this current query.