The Apple Of God's Eye

November 1, 2009

A Background To The Parabolic Teachings Of Jesus Christ

bloggingthebible.comAmong the greatest and most profound of all biblical teachings are the parables of Jesus Christ. During His 3½-year ministry, Jesus expounded from 30 to 50 parables (depending on whose estimate you wish to accept). There are some important reasons why Jesus used the parabolic method of teaching. For today’s Christian there is much vital meaning contained within these rustic examples taken from everyday life in ancient Judea and its environs.

Should it be surprising that Jesus used parables? Not if you understand something of the Jewish world in Christ’s day. Says Alfred Edersheim: “Perhaps no other mode of teaching was so common among the Jews as that by parables” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972).

The Jewish people were quite familiar with the parabolic method of teaching. In a footnote on the same page, Dr. Edersheim informs us: ” ‘… Every ancient Rabbinic work is literally full of parables.”

The Old Testament itself contains many parables. The prophet Ezekiel used at least four. A good example is found in Ezekiel 17:2: “Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel.” The prophet then unfolds a strange story of a great eagle and a giant cedar tree. In the same chapter, he explains the meaning of this unusual story.

In II Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan tactfully used a parable to convey a message from God to David.

Isaiah 5:1-6 also contains a parable that was used as a song— again conveying an important message to the people by the parabolic method. Verse 7 explains the meaning.

In most cases a parable is a story drawn from everyday life. It is usually symbolic or metaphoric in nature and often conveys a profound spiritual lesson. Most parables use imagery to which the average person can readily relate. As the hearer comes into contact with the image or symbol — a field, a fig tree — he is easily reminded of the parable in which the associated imagery is used.

In order to gain the maximum value from Jesus’ parables, we must, therefore, acquire at least a rudimentary. understanding of the elements used in those stories. And we must gain an elementary understanding of the geography involved.

Why Jesus used parables

There are several good reasons why Christ chose to use the parabolic method of teaching.

The main, obvious reason is that it was commonly accepted among the Jewish people of that day. When a teacher launched into a parable, most listeners knew how to receive such teaching. But there is yet another reason, which has escaped many commentators. Jesus clearly explained it in Matthew 13:10-13:

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”

Jesus knew that the general populace was not yet ready to receive the deeper truths of His way of life. Had He explained certain parables plainly, they would have been accountable for what they had learned. As James later said:

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

The truth of God is too precious to be thrown about indiscriminately! In Matthew 7:6 Jesus taught us an important principle: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

He was not calling people “dogs” or “swine”; He was merely illustrating by analogy the reaction of some people to the truth of God.

A Christian should, therefore, use discretion in determining to whom he will explain the undiluted stronger truths of God.

Jesus sent His disciples on a preliminary evangelistic tour with this instruction: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

And this is exactly what Jesus was doing in speaking to the people in unexplained parables.

Jesus always privately explained the intended spiritual meaning of each parable to His disciples. But there are other instances in which the people to whom the parable was addressed also knew the intended spiritual meaning! It depended upon who was addressed and under what circumstances.

Not all parables were given to the masses of people who followed Jesus. Some were given exclusively to the disciples.

Others were addressed to the religious leaders of the day, the scribes and Pharisees. And they knew exactly what Jesus meant.

The grouping of the parables

What many have not realized is that the parables were given in three distinct sets or groupings. Each set or group of parables had a theme or overall message. And each set became progressively stronger in its meaning and impact.

Each group of parables was presented against a different geographical background and at three distinct points in Christ’s ministry. Each set was provoked or stimulated by a different set of circumstances.

To gain the most out of a study of the parables, one must examine them in their proper chronological sequence and historical context.

The Galilean parables

Having grown up in Nazareth, Jesus later moved to the town of Capernaum near the Sea (or lake) of Galilee, where He may have owned a home. It was in the province of Galilee that He worked as a carpenter.

This provides the setting for the first group of parables, which may be called the Galilean parables. This set of parables was given early in Jesus’ ministry.

“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side [Sea of Galilee]. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables .” (Matthew 13:1-3).

Jesus was sitting in a small boat (probably a fishing vessel) near the shore of the lake of Galilee. A large crowd was standing on the gently sloping hillside, which blended into the calm and beautiful lake.

This setting provided a natural amphitheater. The boat functioned as a speaker’s platform or stage; and His voice was carried across and reflected by the water to the shore, where the people were standing. The sloped sides of the lakeshore provided a natural acoustical backdrop for the audience. In short, the speaking conditions as found in nature were as nearly ideal as possible in the days before electronic amplification.

Six parables to the people

This first set consisted of 10 parables. The first six of these are addressed to the people. The remaining four were exclusively for the disciples. Remember, the account of Jesus’ ministry is given in four different biographical books, called gospels.

To gain a truly comprehensive picture of all of Jesus’ parables, each of these accounts must be carefully compared. The first three gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are called synoptics. That is, they are all thought to have basically originated from a common source, perhaps the gospel of Mark.

Each writer wrote from a somewhat different point of view. The apostle John apparently wrote much later and did not see the need to include much of the material written in the first three books.

For an accurate picture of this first grouping of parables, it is best to compare Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. In so doing, you will notice that Mark includes two parables in this first set that are not found in Matthew 13.

The list of parables in the first set is as follows:

1. The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9),

2. The Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30),

3. The Lamp Under the Bushel (Mark 4:21-25),

4. The Grain of Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32),

5. The Kingdom Like Leaven (Matthew 13:33) and

6. The Seed Cast Into the Ground (Mark 4:26-29).

This represents the set of six parables given to the people.

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:34-35).

The prophet spoken of is Asaph, a Levite and the leader of the singers in ancient Israel. He had written many centuries earlier: “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old” (Psalm 78:2). So Jesus was actually fulfilling prophecy when He spoke these parables.

The first group of six parables was not explained to the people at that time. But Jesus, in private, did personally explain each one to the disciples at a later time.

“Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field” (Matthew 13:36). (He had explained the parable of the sower to them in verse 18.)

The remaining four parables

Jesus gave the disciples four additional parables. In each case the explanation was self-evident. These last four parables in this first set were not given to the people in general. They may be listed as follows:

7. The Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44),

8. The Merchant Seeking Pearls (Matthew 13:45-46),

9. The Net Cast Into the Sea (Matthew 13:47-50) and

10. The Householder and His Treasure (Matthew 13:52).

These parables were given as lessons to the disciples in particular. Jesus did not obscure the meaning in any way. Rather, He illustrated some important moral and spiritual lessons aimed directly at the disciples.

A common theme runs throughout these 10 parables, whether they be addressed to the general public or to the disciples. They all refer to the Kingdom of God. Each parable is designed to motivate those who understand to really want and desire the Kingdom.

They show how the Kingdom will grow and ultimately dominate the entire world. They demonstrate the need to seek God’s coming Kingdom with every fiber of our beings.

Source: The Good News, March 1979

September 19, 2009

Did Jesus Hide The Truth About Salvation?

1When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, it was not to set up His Kingdom (John 18:36). Christ did not, at that time, come to restrain Satan from deceiving the world.

Contrary to what many have been taught, neither did Christ come to earth to call everyone to salvation. Rather, He came to deliver His Father’s message – the gospel of the Kingdom of God. That message included salvation through Christ. But Jesus did not try to get everyone to believe this wonderful message.

Notice the New Testament proof: Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables to make hide the meaning of what He was saying, so the public would not understand.

” And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand”  (Matt. 13:10-15, Mark 4:11-12).

Christ was plainly speaking ONLY to His disciples, not to everyone else. This point is made clear. In case there is any confusion about the point, the scripture says Christ spoke to the general public ONLY in parables (Matt. 13:34). It was NOT to clarify, but to confuse the issue to the masses. Why? Because it was not the time for most to be forgiven their sins and converted.

” And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?’  (Mark 4:10-13).

Even His disciples had problems with some of the parables and needed explaining. Those “without” means those not called at the present time – the masses. Christ preached the Father’s gospel to the masses as a witness. But He worked with only a few purposely called and chosen disciples, or students. They were the ones Whom He really wanted to understand the truth about salvation and His coming government on earth. And as it was then, it is so now – the message was only to His chosen people – His one true Church. It was not to a mass of confusing religions, of contradictory doctrines and squabbling denominations.

In fact, Jesus often tried to avoid the crowds that followed Him daily (Matt. 5:1, 8:18, 13:36, Mark 3:13, John 5:13, 7:10). He often told those whom He had healed not to tell anyone who healed them (Matt. 8:4, 9:30, 12:16, Mark 5:35, 36, 41-43, 7:35-36.  He did not want everyone to know who He really was (Matt. 16:20, Mark 3:1-12).

This is a point most of mainstream Christianity does not understand. For most of His ministry, Jesus actually avoided publicity. It was not God’s will for everyone to understand who Jesus was. Spiritual understanding will not be granted to the world until Christ removes Satan from earth’s throne.

It may freely be accentuated that Jesus Christ was successful in avoiding publicity, as after 3 1/2 years of preaching, and after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, only 120 disciples remained with Him (Acts 1:2-4, 15). The New Testament Church of God was started with these few disciples who would be trained so that they could teach and train others. Christ at first needed only a few teachers, so God called only a few at that time.

Remember, one can only come to Christ if God the Father purposely selects and calls him (John 6:44, 65). Now I know that some will ask, “What about one who really wants salvation – wants to believe in Christ – is willing to truly repent and come out of this world and be led by god’s spirit in a true commandment keeping Christian life. Do you mean this individual cannot come to Christ unless God calls him?”

Answer: That’s exactly what the scriptures say. Such a person is being called by God, otherwise he or she would have no such desire. However, most who think they are in that category have followed a false gospel, a false teaching and are deceived. They have a false idea of what salvation is, a false concept of repentance and a false idea of what God’s way is.

God foretold that He would indeed only call a few into His Church, and that His Church would continue to be small, and even persecuted (Luke 12:32, Matt. 10:16-17, 7:13-14, John 16:33, 2 Timothy 3:12).

So it is that from Christ’s human ministry until His return to earth, God has called only a small minority of people. God’s Church through the centuries has continued to be small – an “embryo” of God’s  new civilization yet to come. That Church is in training to teach the world with and under Christ in the World Tomorrow.

August 31, 2009

Was Jesus Striving To “Save Souls” While On Earth The First Time?

Was Jesus striving to “save souls” while on Earth the first time?  Let’s notice just a few verses that show Christ was not trying to save every soul He could find. Matthew 5:1: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.” Christ had a tremendous opportunity to preach His message before the multitudes. But notice, instead of speaking before them, He went up into the mountains so He could teach just His disciples.

Despite this, Christ did attract great crowds, mainly due to the miracles He performed. But even when He did attract great crowds, He spoke in parables. Not so the multitudes could understand—but that they would not understand! “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matt. 13:10-11).

Can you imagine Christ intentionally allowing Himself to be misunderstood if He was only concerned about saving as many people as possible? Not once in the teachings of Jesus do we ever find Him pleading with or begging individuals to be saved! Why not? Because Jesus knew, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him …” (John 6:44). If Christ had been coming to save the world, that is precisely what He would have done.

So why exactly did He come? Jesus came with a message to proclaim—that of the gospel of the soon-coming Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14).

August 22, 2009

Christian Conduct: Good – But Good Enough?

Nobody’s perfect — but compared to the world around you, you must rate pretty high.

You don’t curse, you don’t smoke and you don’t drink too much. You are faithful to your mate and you are honest. You go to church regularly, you pray, you study the Bible and you try to put it into action. That has got to make you better than the average person. After all, many people today aren’t even trying to be good.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. The apostle Paul warned that the end-time society would be a place of falling standards and collapsing values. “Know this,” he wrote, “that in the last days perilous times will come” (II Timothy 3:1-5). Paul warned that people would become more greedy and selfish. He predicted the brutality and mindless violence of our age, when people would love pleasure more than God, and when even those who were “religious” would not understand God’s truth. “From such people turn away!” he thundered.

If you are serious about serving God today, you must indeed turn away from this world before it collapses. But that is hard, and it is all too easy to relax and slip back into your old ways. And so the Bible tells those who are real Christians to examine themselves from time to time (and particularly during the Passover season) to see if they are indeed “in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).

When you measure something, you compare it with an accepted standard — a weight, a ruler or perhaps a thermometer. Then you can know how heavy, how long or how hot it is. But how do you measure how good you are?

How good are you?

If you compare yourself with the standards of the world around you, you would probably pass with flying colors. But is that good enough? There is a serious flaw in such reasoning. Obviously this world’s standard of what is “good enough” is not reliable, but do you know why? It is not just because it is wrong. It is also variable — or, to be more specific, it is declining.

“Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” Paul warned in II Timothy 3:13. He realized that the end-time world was not just going to be bad — it was going to get steadily worse.

Today crime is increasing, and violence and perversion are becoming commonplace. Young people are becoming ever more disillusioned and older people more frustrated. The world has its ways of hiding the truth from itself. Everyone wants to believe that things are getting better, and so more and more evil is tolerated. The unacceptable is made acceptable and the illegal becomes legal. What was once wrong is now accepted as “OK.”

But legislating away sin and squelching the penalty never solves problems. All it does is ensure that more people are going to be harmed.

Declining movie standards

The entertainment industry gives us a good example of how this society gradually tolerates more and more evil. Back in 1939, when Clark Gable used a rather mild (by today’s standards) expletive in the movie Gone With the Wind, audiences gasped. But that was only the beginning.

In 1968 the Motion Picture Association of America decided to regulate itself, adopting a set of standards by which new films could be rated. “G” meant the film was suitable for general audiences. “M” indicated that some of the material might not be suitable for children and that mature guidance was required. Then there was the “R” rating, signifying that children were restricted from seeing the movie unless accompanied by parents, while an “X” determined that no minors would be allowed to see the movie under any circumstances.

But did that action lead to more good films and less obscene rubbish? No — today half the films produced in the United States get an “R” rating, and many that now get a “PG” (which replaced “M”) would have been rated “R” back in 1968. A “PG-13” rating has now been added to indicate that a film is more violent or sexual in content than a “PG” movie, but not enough to earn an “R.”

Standards have dropped. What was unacceptable is now considered acceptable. Today you are probably allowing yourself to be entertained by movies with themes and language that would have appalled “good Christian folk” as little as 15 years ago. Explicit four-letter words and blasphemies glibly roll off the tongues of actors, even in “PG” movies. We barely notice them, and it takes a lot to make us gasp now.

So if you measure yourself by the rating standards of the world around you, you are kidding yourself. Even if your standard of righteousness is always better than the average, it doesn’t take a genius to see that soon “good people” are actually worse than the average had been only a little time before. Those who consider themselves “righteous” by society’s standards are kidding themselves.

A lesson from the Pharisees

That was exactly the situation into which Jesus Christ came nearly 2,000 years ago. The standards of “good behavior” in that society were set by the Pharisees, a sect of self-righteous religious leaders. By their standards, the Pharisees looked good. They prayed. They studied the Scriptures. They gave tithes and alms, and they fasted often. The average man in the street, seeing a Pharisee in action (and the Pharisees made sure they were seen) would have thought that they were indeed righteous people.

But Jesus saw right through them. He gave a parable that showed what He thought about these hypocrites:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

Jesus showed that the goodness of the Pharisees, although seemingly better than average, was just not good enough. “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” He explained (Matthew 5:20).

Measuring accurately

Is there, then, a standard by which Christians can measure themselves? There is indeed. God’s law is a standard you can trust, a standard that never varies. With God there is right and there is wrong, and He commands us to do what is right.

Sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4), and God doesn’t grade sin. There are no “X,” “R” or “PG” transgressions. The penalty of sin always has been and always will be the same — death (Romans 6:23).

Now that is too strong for some, and there have been many attempts to liberalize or even do away with God’s law across the centuries. But God does not move His standards up and down to conform with changing times, or to agree with what some liberal theologian chooses to define as sin. He doesn’t alter His values to accommodate “progress” in a “more enlightened” world. He never condones sin. (He does, of course, forgive it, if we repent.)

Jesus summed up God’s standard in Matthew 5:48: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

In that case, perhaps we should just give up. Who can become perfect like the great God? But God is reasonable and understanding and does not hold out an impossible standard to thwart and frustrate us. He sets this standard to prevent His people, who are trying to stop sinning, from falling into the insidious trap of self-righteousness.

We must always remember that just reaching a better than average standard isn’t good enough.

By all means be encouraged if in your Christian life you are showing some progress. That progress should spur you on to keep going. But remember, you have not passed the test yet. God has a high standard.” He has promised to help you grow toward it — but not if you bog down into smug self-satisfaction. Don’t be fooled by the collapsing standards of a world that has lost sight of reality. You aren’t “good enough” yet.

The Good News, April 1986

July 31, 2009

Did Jesus Hide The Truth About Salvation To The World?

When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, it was not to set up His Kingdom (John 18:36). Christ did not, at that time, come to restrain Satan from deceiving the world.

Contrary to what many have been taught, neither did Christ come to earth to call everyone to salvation. Rather, he came to deliver His Father’s message – the gospel of the Kingdom of God. That message included salvation through Christ. But Jesus did not try to get everyone to believe this wonderful message.

Notice the New Testament proof: Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables to hide the meaning of what He was saying, so the public would not understand.

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matt. 13:10-15, Mark 4:11-12).

Christ was plainly speaking ONLY to His disciples, not to everyone else. This point is made clear. In case there is any confusion though, the scripture says Christ spoke to the general public ONLY in parables (Matt. 13:34). It was NOT to clarify, but to confuse the issue to the masses. Why? Because it was not the time for most to be forgiven their sins and converted.

And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? (Mark 4:10-13).

Even His disciples had problems with some of the parables and needed explaining. Those “without” means those not called at the present time – the masses. Christ preached the Father’s gospel to the masses as a witness. But He worked with only a few purposely called and chosen disciples, or students. They were the ones Whom He really wanted to understand the truth about salvation and His coming government on earth.

In fact, Jesus often tried to avoid the crowds that followed Him daily (Matt. 5:1, 8:18, 13:36, Mark 3:13, John 5:13, 7:10). he often told those whom He had healed not to tell anyone who healed them (Matt. 8:4, 9:30, 12:16, Mark 5:35, 36, 41-43, 7:35-36.  He did not want everyone to know who He really was (Matt. 16:20, Mark 3:1-12).

This is a point most of mainstream Christianity does not understand. For most of His ministry, Jesus actually avoided publicity. It was not God’s will for everyone to understand who Jesus was. Spiritual understanding will not be granted to the world until Christ removes Satan from earth’s throne.

It may freely be accentuated that Jesus Christ was successful in avoiding publicity, as after 3 1/2 years of preaching, and after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, only 120 disciples remained with Him (Acts 1:2-4, 15). The New Testament Church of God was started with these few disciples who would be trained so that they could teach and train others. Christ at first needed only a few teachers, so God called only a few at that time.

Remember, one can only come to Christ if God the Father purposely selects and calls him (John 6:44, 65). Now I know that some will ask, “What about one who really wants salvation – wants to believe in Christ – is willing to truly repent and come out of this world and be led by God’s spirit in a true commandment keeping Christian life? Do you mean this individual cannot come to Christ unless God calls him?”

Answer: That’s exactly what the scriptures say. Such a person is being called by God, otherwise he or she would have no such desire. However, most who think they are in that category have followed a false gospel, a false teaching and are deceived. They have a false idea of what salvation is, a false concept of repentance and a false idea of what God’s way is.

God foretold that He would indeed only call a few into His Church, and that His Church would continue to be small, and even persecuted (Luke 12:32, Matt. 10:16-17, 7:13-14, John 16:33, 2 Timothy 3:12).

So it is that from Christ’s human ministry until His return to earth, God has called only a small minority of people. God’s Church through the centuries has continued to be small – an “embryo” of God’s  new civilization yet to come. That Church, as we learned, is in training to rule and teach the world with and under Christ in the World Tomorrow.

April 30, 2009

Fact: Christ Did Not Come To Convert The Nations

 realchristianity.wordpress.com

 

realchristianity.wordpress.com

The popularly held concept is that in His day Jesus tried to save everyone and that He instructed His Church to do the same. It is widely assumed that whenever Jesus spoke in parables He did so to make His teachings more understandable to the multitudes who heard Him. 

However, Jesus gave no such reason. When His disciples asked Him about one of His parables, He said, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without (the unconverted masses), all these things are done in parables” (Mark 4:11). 

Why? To make what He said easier to comprehend? No, just the opposite! He often used parables so that “seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them” (verse 12). 

Now guaranteed, people will argue with these plain verses because of the common assumption that ALL the world is to be evangelized now. Mass altar calls for accepting christ are common in the evangelical sphere, but that conception is unbiblical. Although many where added tot he early Church in the days of the early Church, they were called by God so that His Church would have the necessary growth to carry His message to all nations, but only as a witness (Matt. 24:14). Nowhere did He say that His true ministers are to try to convert the nations. In fact, Christ Himself never employed mass altar calls. Only 120 disciples were present on the day of Pentecost. That is because often, when He employed parables, Jesus intentionally left the masses in their deception. He spoke in parables to cloud His message, not to make it easily understood. He Himself said so.

“For ye see your calling, brethren,” Paul wrote to the Greeks in Corinth, “how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (I Cor. 1:26). Simply put, everyone on earth is not now able to come to God to be converted. Jesus declared, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). 

The Father of whom Jesus spoke has not been drawing the majority of people. This is obvious from the condition the world is in. Jesus pointed out that the majority of humanity is walking in the way of destruction and that now only a few are finding the way to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14).  

Although God is not calling every person now, by the time His plan is finished, everyone who has ever lived will have had the opportunity to understand and to accept or reject eternal life.

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