of Christ's Kingdom
Table of Contents
Introducing the theme of biblical parables
Were parables to simplify or hide truth?
The Parable of Jotham
An Old Testament parable otherwise known as the parable
of the trees
Wisdom and the Foolish Woman
A verse by verse study in Proverbs 9
The First of the Kingdom
A closer look at the parable of the sower
The Abiding Life
From Jesus' sermn in John 15
Many Called, Few Chosen
Examining the parable of the wedding feast
The Parable of the Penny
Also known as the parable of the eleventh hour workers
The Word of God--in Our
Last of a four-part series on the Word of God
Anecdotes Along the Way
Short stories of true Christian experiences
News and Views
News items from around the world of interest to
will incline mine ear to a parable;
I will open my dark saying upon the harp." -- Psalms 49:4
Jesus' teaching was probably best known
for his use of parables: short fictional stories pointing precisely toward the lesson he
was going to teach. At the same time they revealed certain truths while concealing still
Jesus was not the first to use
parables. The first biblical usage of the word is in Numbers 23 and 24 where the messages
of the heathen prophet Balaam are spoken of as parables. The word itself is simply
descriptive of a story in which the objects specified are not the objects meant but
illustrate the same principles as the lesson at hand.
Simple details of everyday life
familiar to all his listeners became the subject matter of these tales-a shepherd losing
one sheep, a traveler beset by thieves, virgins waiting to lead the procession of the
bridegroom to the house of his intended.
The lessons of many of these parables
are obvious. Some are even explained by Jesus himself, furnishing not only the key to that
particular story but also the method to be employed in comprehending all such stories.
Other parables have become matters of debate in the Christian church throughout its
history, and remain so today with varying schools of interpretation being offered.
In This Issue
The use of parables in the Bible is the
theme of this issue of THE HERALD. Not only the
parables of Jesus but also some of those of the Old Testament will be considered.
Breaking with tradition this edition
features frst the Question Box. It deals with the query, "Why teachest thou unto them
in parables?" Reprinted from an article which appeared over fifty years ago in this
journal, it treats the overall subject matter and whether parables were intended to reveal
or to conceal truths.
Two parables from the Old Testament are
studied: one in The Parable of Jotham, sometimes
known as The Parable of the Trees, and the other
in Wisdom and the Foolish Woman, with a verse by
verse study of Proverbs 9..
The First of the Kingdom Parables is the Echoes from the Past selection for this issue. It
is taken from a 1954 HERALD.
Other articles cover some of the
parables of Jesus. The Abiding Life is taken
from the parable of the vine and the branches, while Many
Called, Few Chosen, discusses the parable of the marriage feast, and The Parable of the Penny is on the parable of the
The understanding of parables not
explained by Jesus is, of course, a matter of interpretation. The articles herein reflect
the thoughts of their respective authors.
The last article concludes a fourpart
series with The Word of GodIn Our Lives.
The Wrap-Around Mailing Cover
From the recent readers' survey,
several comments preferring the former method of enclosing THE HERALD in an envelope to the present
wrap-around were received. These comments have been taken into consideration. The current
mailer was adopted for two reasons: economy of space and funds. It is cheaper and by
including the general information on the inside of the cover another page is available for
spiritual articles. One other
benefit is a considerable increase in
the number of requests for free literature, because of the handy tear-off post card on the
back. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the envelope will continue to be
A number of readers preferred not using
illustrations, particularly those depicting Jesus. Following this wish, illustrations will
be used only to illuminate an article or to announce the theme on the cover page.
Response to the concept of thematic
issues was mixed. The large majority favored them, so for the time being they will be
retained. Perhaps an occasional general issue will be published. A few readers preferred
retaining one color for the cover; again, the majority liked the idea of the color
separation for each year so that they could more easily identify particular editions.
We thank our many readers who have
taken the time to respond. This journal is for your benefit and should reflect your
desires. Another survey is planned for the future, in a couple of years.
Why speakest thou unto them in
open my mouth in a parable, 1 will utter dark sayings of old?
--Matthew 13:10; Psalm 78:2
The Herald July 1943
One of our readers writes us as
Here is a question that comes up at our
meeting now and then on which we are not all agreed, and we would appreciate your answer
to this question, which may also be helpful to others who would like the matter clarified:
Did our Lord speak in parables to teach the
multitudes, or did he speak in parables so that
they might not understand?-Matt. 13:1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 34-36; Mark 4:1, 2, 11, 12, 30, 33,
34; Luke 8:4.
This question is most interesting and
has been the subject of study by many able Bible scholars. Their conclusions, however,
have not been identical; some believe that the purpose of our Lord in employing the
parabolic method in his teaching was to reveal the
truth, while others have been convinced that his purpose was to conceal it. In view of these differences of opinion
we trust the following discussion may contribute in part to its solution and prove to be
of some profit to our readers.
In the first place, whatever truth
there may be in the view that some parables were meant to conceal the truth rather than to reveal it, it
seems clear that this position is untenable if maintained as being applicable to all the
parables. How, for example, can anyone suppose that in the parable of the Good Samaritan
by which our Lord so strikingly illustrated the true meaning of the command to love
one's neighbor (Lev. 19:18, 34) his purpose was to conceal that meaning? Certainly his
meaning was not concealed from that "certain lawyer" who had sought to put
Jesus to the test. When our Lord put the question, "Which, now, of these three,
thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell amongst the thieves?'9 he correctly
replied, "He that showed mere on him" (Luke 10:25, 36, 37).
All the parables may be broadly
classified either as (1) typical (those in which the truth pictured is by means
of exhibiting a concrete example), or symbolic (in which the pictorial representation of
the truth taught is by means of symbols).
The parable of the Good Samaritan is
the first of the typical parables. Its purpose, we have seen, is to reveal, not to
conceal, the truth. The same intention will be found in all the other types of parables of
1 - Many expositors have noted another, a
second, meaning to this parable. Taking it not merely as typical or by the way of an
example, they regard it also as prophetical or historical of Christ himself, as the Good
Samaritan, rescuing humanity from the misery of sin and death. Against this view it is
sufficient to remark that neither the wording of the narrative nor the context in which it
stands gives the slightest justification for the notion of such a double meaning. On the
other hand it must, of course, be acknowledged to be quite within the limits of a
legitimate application of the narrative to point out how, in the person of the Samaritan,
Jesus not merely pictured a striking example of true fulfillment of the command to love
one's neighbors, but also, in his own person, gave us a corresponding example in act, when
he, the Son of God, became neighbor to us men, by the pitying, self-sacrificing love with
which he came to relieve our wretchedness. But it is obvious that such a thought has its
powerful influence only when it is received as an independent application of the parable
instead of being made part and parcel of the parable itself as a supposed deeper, hidden
Symbolic Parables Spoken to the Disciples
turn now to the symbolic parables which actually clothe the truth taught in a
figurative dress, so that along with the purpose of illustration (present in all parables) an intention of
concealment is also possible. There are a number
in which, as a matter of fact, no intention of concealment is present but only the
purpose of illustration. Such is the case with all the symbolic parables which Jesus
uttered, not before a mixed group of hearers, but before the narrower circle of his
disciples, for example, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price, and
the fishing net (Matt. 13:44, 45, 46, 47-50).
these parables symbols are employed which might (on
occasion) serve to conceal, but this intention cannot be present, as none of the
"multitude" are in the audience. The hearers are all his disciples to whom
the purpose of concealment could not apply. Moreover then, in concluding these
parables Jesus asked them, "Have ye understood all these things? they said unto
him, Yea, Lord!" Evidently his purpose had been to reveal, not to conceal; a
purpose, moreover, which had been achieved.
Symbolic Parables Spoken to his Opponents
We have shown that our Lord's purpose
in typical parables can be only that of revealing. We have also noted that when spoken
only to his disciples, apart from the multitude, even the symbolic parables were not
spoken with the intent to conceal. Let us now examine a sample of his symbolic parables
addressed not to his disciples but to his opponents. To them he spoke the parable of the
wicked husbandman who ill-treated every servant the householder sent, and they finally
killed his son. Was this parable intended to obscure his message to them? Was it not
rather to strike at their conscience and awaken them, if possible, to their sinful
condition? According to the record, "When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard
his parables they perceived that he spake of
them." Evidently his meaning was not obscure to them.
Symbolic Parables Often Explained
Again, in many symbolic parables the
figurative veil is so transparent, or it is so directly drawn aside by an added
explanatory statement, that there can be no intent to conceal anything by them. An
example of the latter may be found in the parable of the importunate friend, where the
meaning of the parable is expressly given. For that reason, an intent to conceal cannot be
supposed (Luke 11:5-10). As a sample of the former we may take the case of the prodigal
son. Surely this parable does not hide from us the love of our Father who is in heaven!
Rather it discloses that love with a pathos and a power so divine that, beyond all other
forms of speech, it is calculated to touch and melt our hearts (Luke 15:11-32).
A Difficult Text
Thus far in our discussion we have
found nothing to support the view that a purpose to conceal was present in the parables
considered but in every case have noted only an intention to reveal. However, we have yet
to examine what has long been recognized as one of the most difficult passages in the New
Testament. It is our Lord's reply to the question, "Why speakest thou unto them in
parables?" According to Mark he replied, "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" (Mark 4:11, 12).
Luke reports our Lord's answer in
briefer, yet almost identical terms: "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of
the Kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing
they might not understand" (Luke 8:10).
Now, if we take these words as they
stand and read them in a plain, honest way, they teach us that in speaking to the
multitude (as distinguished from his disciples,) the Lord selected the parabolic form of
instruction, not only to conceal the truth from them but for the further purpose of
preventing them from turning from their sins and receiving forgiveness.
We have already noted that in the case
of some, though not all, of the symbolic parables, there might be an intention to conceal as well as to
reveal. However, we could not accept the additional thought which seems to be in both
Mark's and Luke's report of our Lord's answer. On the contrary, we know that he came to
call sinners to repentance, not to frustrate their repentance.
Had we only these condensed reports we
would be puzzled to understand the meaning of our Lord. Fortunately, however, Matthew's
account is more complete. He tells us at length what
Jesus said when his disciples asked him why he spoke to the multitude in parables. He says
it was "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 from him that
hath not shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables,
because (not `in order that' but `because') they seeing, see not; and hearing they
hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias,
which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see,
and shall not perceive; for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of
hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their
eyes, and hear with their ears, and shall understand with their heart, and should be
converted, and I should heal them" (Matt. 13:10-15).
Here in Matthew's fuller account, the
difficulty suggested by the more condensed report of Mark and Luke is removed. For here it
appears that it is the people who have closed
their eyes, not Christ who has closed them; it is they
who will not perceive and understand,
because they do not want to be converted and healed.
Nor need any suppose that Matthew's
account can be accepted only by rejecting those of Mark and Luke. If we carefully compare
the three reports, we find that the reports of Mark and Luke do not misrepresent but
merely condense the answer of our Lord which Matthew reports in full. Matthew's six
verses are compressed into two verses by Mark and into only one by Luke. In Matthew's
fuller account it may be seen that there is authority for every word in the briefer
reports and that there is no real conflict between them.
To fully understand our Lord's words,
we must go to the prophecy of Isaiah to which he refers. That prophecy is found in the
sixth chapter, which we considered in some detail in a previous issue of this journal.
There we said in part:
"Many have supposed that Isaiah
was himself so to preach that the people's hearts would become hardened as a result; that
he should deliberately seek to close their eyes and stop their ears so that they would be
unable to see God's gracious character and purposes and could listen no longer to his
voice of compassion and tenderness. Some have gone even further than this. By an extension
of this selfsame doctrine beyond the confines of the one nation of Israel to the whole
world of mankind, they have even charged God himself with inflicting what they term a
judicial blindness upon the great mass of our race which left them no chance of
repentance-no hope of salvation. Such a gospel (?) we could not but reject, no matter
whence it came, so utterly is it opposed to all that we have learned of the character and
Word of God.
"But what do these remarkable
words signify? What is the meaning of the message Isaiah is commissioned to proclaim? We
answer: God saw that their own stubborn and rebellious attitude had at last brought them
into a condition in which they would no longer be able to return to God. Once they had the
capacity to listen and repent, and as God, in mercy and kindness, had dealt with them,
rewarding them for right-doing and chastising them for wrong, they had been able to profit
by his instructions. But now
they had lost that capacity. They had
been so persistent in their backslidings; they had been so rebellious in heart; they had
so resisted the pleadings, the warnings, the invitations of his grace; they had so
hardened themselves against him, that they had brought themselves into a state in which
they would be insensible to any further influence by which God might seek to cleanse and
reclaim them . . . . Through long and continued neglect of their God-given powers of
right-thinking and right-doing, these powers have become atrophied, they cannot now
function." [Herald, September 1940, pages 134, 135.]
Exactly the same conditions obtained at
the time of our Lord's first advent, and accordingly, he (at times) addressed the people
in special symbolic parables. To whom did he really speak when he addressed a mixed
audience? To whom has the gospel ever been spoken by his faithful messengers since? And
with what intent? Surely it was and even now is preached; not to hinder any, God forbid,
but certainly with no thought of converting every hearer-merely to reach those who have
hearing ears. "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear," saith the Lord (Matt.
13:9). "Whosoever hath [already improved what light, grace, opportunities, have come
his way] shall have them increased." Yet, while speaking (in the presence of others)
to those with hearing ears, our Lord is careful to so speak that those whose ears are dull
of hearing shall not be aroused to still greater prejudice, as they would be if the truth
were spoken plainly. Hence he veils the kingdom message that they shall not have their
bitter enmity made more bitter. He puts this teaching in a form in which it can be
apprehended by such as are willing to do the will of his Father (and by these only as they
themselves prove more and more worthy of it and continue therein). But those whose
persistent disobedience to known truth has deprived them of spiritual sight and who are
therefore in a condition in which they could derive no profit from a plainly stated
message it is hidden. Those might (strange perversity of the human nature) be still more
hardened by it if it were permitted to reach them.
We conclude, then, that in all of the
typical and in most of the symbolic parables there is clearly no intent to conceal but
only to reveal. However, we have seen also that in special circumstances, speaking before
a mixed audience, Jesus did choose the parabolic form of teaching. This was not to hinder
from repentance any so disposed but for the double purpose of concealing from unreceptive
and impenitent hearers disclosures concerning the Kingdom of heaven which were suited only
to receptive and earnest hearers. In this he did but act in accordance with his own wise
saying: "Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before
swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matt.
7:6). These special cases, however, are the exception rather than the rulethe rule being
prophetically stated by Asaph, of the Messiah who was to come, in the text quoted at the
head of this article, a free translation of which reads: "I will open my mouth in
parables, that I may utter [not that I may conceal] things that have been secret from the
foundation of the world" (Psa. 78:2).
And Gideon said unto
them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule
over you.Judges 8:23
By Carl Hagensick
The period of Israels kings
and the period of its judges was the difference between a strong centralized government
and one which gave more authority to individual tribes. Advocates of the two systems may
be likened to the debate beween the Federalists and the anti-Federalists in early American
history concerning states rights.
Gideons response in Judges
8:23 to being offered kingship was similar to that of George Washington in the early years
of the United States. However with Gideon a higher principle was involved. Instead of
recognizing tribal rights as supreme, he viewed the twelve tribes of Israel as being under
the kingship of God himself.
Gideons life is a study of
contrasts. The son of an idol worshipper, he destroyed his fathers altar, tore down
the grove to Baal, and delivered Israel from the bondage brought on by national idolatry.
But after turning down kingship, he levied a tax on the tribes to make for himself a
golden ephod, which became an idol to Israel (Judg. 8:28).
Also the personal life of Gideon was
also not above reproach. He had 72 children from a number of wives and one concubine
(Judg. 8:30; 9:5). After his death a power struggle ensued. One of his sons, Abimelech,
killed seventy of his brothers and, with the assistance of his fellow-townspeople in
Shechem. He attempted to install himself as king of Israel. The sole survivor of the
massacre of Gideons sons was the youngest, Jotham, and he voices one of the first
parables in the Biblethe Parable of the Trees, found in Judges 8:7-20.
"And when they told it to
Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried,
and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. The
trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree,
Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness,
wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the
trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them,
Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto
them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the
trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the
bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put
your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the
cedars of Lebanon."Judges 9:7-15
The basic lesson of the parable is
simple. The trees pictured Gideon and other worthy men of noble stature who felt that
their calling was to serve in various capacities and not to assert rulership over their
fellows. Only the lowly bramble, an unworthy scrub shrubAbimelechwould be
presumptuous enough to assume such a lofty office.
But, Jotham warns in his parable, if
the bramble does become king and notes a lack of trust, he will persecute with such power
as to devour the most noble of the land, pictured by the majestic cedar of Lebanon. Future
events bore out the accuracy of Jothams predictions, for within a short while civil
war broke out and continued until Abimelech was slain; a millstone was cast upon him from
the top of a tower.
The Deeper Lesson
The choice of kinds of trees used in
Jothams parable may have been random, but if so, that choice was overruled by
Jehovahs guiding spirit to couch a deeper lesson encompassing the entire plan of God
for the human race.
As a central feature of the plan of
God we see Satan promoting himself as earths ruler"I will ascend into
heaven . . . I will be like the Most High" (Isa. 14:13, 14). So successful has Satan
been, as was Abimelech of old, that he has earned the titles "god of this world"
(2 Cor. 4:4) and "prince of this world" (John 12:31).
Reviewing the history of the past
six thousand years, we note three more worthy claimants were offered this position. They,
like Gideon, declined the offer, esteeming their God-given roles as being more important
The three noble treesthe
olive, the fig, and the vineare all standard Biblical symbols. The olive, in Romans
11, is used to picture the Abrahamic promise and the favored status to those in
relationship with father Abraham. The fig tree is used in the Bible to designate the
nation of Israel, as the vine is referred to by Jesus in John 15 to show the relationship
between him and his church.
The Ancient Worthies
It was to Abraham, whose worthiness
was shown by his faith, that the great covenant promise was made: "In thee and thy
seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 28:14). A parade of heroes
of faith march through Old Testament history showing both the faith and the cost of full
devotion to Godheroes certainly worthy of rulership positions. Yet rulership was not
the role given to Abraham and other men of faith, often the very reverse. Their work was
in furnishing the examples and the precepts for future generations. Many of them were the
writers of the Bible, the others were the subjects of these writers.
Like the olive tree, whose root
pictured the great promise to father Abraham (Rom. 11), their work was to produce
"oil"that "olive oil" which pictured the words of the holy
Spirit uttered through the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New
(Zech. 4; Rev. 11:4).
Somewhat less noble, yet uniquely
favored by God (Amos 3:2), was the nation of Israel. Unto them was committed "the
oracles of God" (Rom. 3:2). Theirs was the "sacrifice" and the
"ephod" (Hos. 3:4). Their kings sat on the the "throne of the Lord" (1
Chron. 29:23). Certainly they were fit to exercise rulership.
Symbolically they declined the offer
because of the work which God had given them during their period of favorto provide
examples and illustrations for ages to come (1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Heb. 10:1). Figuratively
they were to learn the pitfalls of human experience and to "gather out the
stones" so that future generations would not stumble over the same things (Isa.
62:10). This was to provide the "sweetness" and the "good fruit" of
the "fig tree" of Jothams parable. (See also Jer. 24; Matt. 24:32; Luke
At his first advent Jesus wept over
the city of Jerusalem with those sad words of rejection: "Behold your house is left
unto you desolate" (Matt. 23:38). At the same time he turned to others, first to the
publicans and sinners of that nation and shortly to the gentiles to "take out of them
a people for his name" (Acts 15:14). These were to be groomed for rulership (2 Tim.
2:12; Rev. 20:6). But the present lifetime was not the time for these to presume such
leadership roles. As Paul states "I would to God that ye did reign, that we also
might reign with you" (1 Cor. 4:8).
Jesus chose the vine as a symbol of
the church in John 15. The work of the vine was to produce grapes, used primarily for
wine. It is this spiritual wine, as Jotham phrased it, "which cheereth God and
man." Literal wine may make men merry, but it hardly cheers the heart of God. The
spiritual wine which does cheer both God and man is that represented in the memorial cup
of the Last Supper: "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them,
saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for
many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:27, 28). It is of this cup that Paul wrote:
"Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not
the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16 NAS).
This is the cup which will cheer
both God and man, for when the new covenant realizes its work complete it will bring full
atonement between the two. The training for that work is certainly more precious than
attempting to assume rulership now.
The bramble was only a lowly plant
in comparison to the noble trees to which Jotham had referred; it was prickly, a nuisance,
and considered as a weed. In all these attributes it was a fitting representation for the
great adversary of mankind, Satan.
The threat to attack the cedars of
Lebanon with fire is also significant. While the cedars of Lebanon are used in a wide
variety of metaphorical phrases in the Old Testament, one of them is that of the proud and
haughty, who stick their necks high above their brothers even as the cedars of Lebanon do
above the neighboring trees. We find this usage in Isaiah 2:12, 13: "For the day of
the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that
is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are
high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan."
It is these, who dare to assert
their own independence, who feel the wrath of Satan when disagreement separates them. In
keeping with this, in Isaiahs portrait of Satan as "the prince of Tyre" he
prefaces his remarks with a note about the "cedars of Lebanon" celebrating his
fall: "Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since
thou art laid down, no feller [howeverRSV] is come up against us" (Isa. 14:8).
While each of the trees in
Jothams parable declined the offer to become a king, deeming present activities more
appropriate, this does not mean that the classes pictured thereby never shall have a role
in kingship and rulership. When circumstances change and the present "prince of this
world" is replaced by the "Prince of peace" the new arrangement will elicit
a far different response.
The "ancient worthies,"
pictured by the olive tree, shall then become "princes in all the earth" (Psa.
45:16). The "fig tree" of restored Israel shall be centered in Jerusalem, the
capitol city of the world, and "the word of the LORD shall go forth from
Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3). And the church, the "vine" of the parable, shall be
"priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Rev.
20:6). As for the "bramble," Satan shall be bound for that same thousand years
The remainder of mankind will be
raised from the dead and pass before the great white throne, where they will be judged and
separated as sheep and goats, according to the works which they then shall do. (See Rev.
20:11-15; Matt. 25:31-46.)
The Foolish Woman
"For wisdom is better
than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to
A verse by verse study in
The book of Proverbs can be divided
into three sections. The first six chapters are introductory and stress the necessity of
gaining true wisdom. Chapter ten begins with the words "The proverbs of Solomon"
and contains a lengthy list of wise adages, closing with two chapters which are either
copies from other writers or are by Solomon, but written under pseudonyms, or pen names,
as the Jewish authorities argue. These apparently are not arranged in a random order, but
specifically placed. This is suggested in Solomons autobiographical book,
Ecclesiastes: "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the
people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many
The intervening section of Proverbs
is in the form of a parable or allegory in which the characteristics of wisdom and
foolishness are contrasted. In chapter seven we have a complete description of foolishness
portrayed as a seductive prostitute, her seductive tactics likened unto the temptation of
the great adversary of all mankind, the Devil. In chapter eight we find a poetic
description of wisdom and its origins which many expositors interpret as a personification
of Jesus. Then in chapter nine, the chapter we will here investigate, we find both brought
into play in marked contrast to each other.
The MessengerVerses 1 to 3
"Wisdom hath builded her
house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled
her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth
upon the highest places of the city.".
The house of wisdom in contrasted
with the house of the foolish woman (v. 14). The action of the chapter is the contrasting
invitation by both wisdom and the foolish woman to entice the wayfarer therein.
Wisdoms house is said to be of seven pillars. Whether the number seven is to be
taken in anything more than a symbolic sense of completeness is unclear. It is worthy of
note, however, that James, in describing wisdom, mentions seven specific attributes in
connection therewith. "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then
peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without
partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17).
If, on the other hand, wisdom be
taken here as it is in chapter eight, as a personification of Jesus, we note that his
house, the church, is also associated with the number sevenseven stages, the
"seven churches" of Revelation 2 and 3.
The festive table laden with slain
beasts and mingled wine is another figure suggestive of Jesus. Of all Biblical meals one
has more attention than the last supper of Jesus life where he replaced the symbols
of the old Aaronic priesthood, lamb and bitter herbs, with those of the incoming
Melchizedek priesthood, bread and wine. The Passover gives way to the commemoration of its
antitype, the death of Jesus. Here, in Proverbs 9, we find the combining of these two
symbolsthe slain beasts of the Law dispensation and the mingled wine of the Gospel
The obvious connections between the
maidens who proclaim the message of wisdom with the parable in which likens his church to
a group of "ten virgins" seems to be more than coincidence. After his death on
Calvarys cross, the church becomes his spokesmen, spreading the gospel message
throughout the world (Matt. 28:19, 20).
The "highest places of the
city" also finds its counterpart in the location of the harlots house in verse
14, "on a seat in the high places of the city." Both invitationsthat of
the Lord, or wisdom, and that of the adversary, pictured by the "foolish
woman"go forth from the same locale. In ancient cities, even as often today,
the higher elevations of the towns usually appealed to the more noble classes. Certainly
the gospel message, as well as Satans attempt to divert people from it, has
concentrated its efforts on the more civilized portions of the globe, "the higher
places" of the global city of mankind.
Wisdoms MessageVerses 4
"Whoso is simple, let him
turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my
bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go
in the way of understanding."
The gospel message is for the
simple. The starting point of Jesus beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount so begins:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.
5:3). The enticements of the Lord are graphically and romantically portrayed in an excerpt
from the Song of Solomon, chapter eight, verses one and two: "O that thou wert as my
brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would
kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my
mothers house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of
the juice of my pomegranate."
It is not to her bed, as the harlot
desires, but to her table that the Lord invites. Partake with him of those Memorial
emblems, the bread and the wine, his flesh and his blood. The "mingling" of the
blood can suggest either the transfer of his spiritual life to assume human form for the
purpose of suffering death for every man, or the continuing offer to his followers to
become co-participants in the "wine" of his sufferings, to drink of the cup of
which he drank (Matt. 20:22, 23).
For them the invitation is a new
life style. "Forsake the foolish," "repent and be converted," "be
transformed by a renewing of your mind" (Acts 3:19; Rom. 12:2). Because this new way
involves a "renewing of the mind" in entails new thought patterns and new sets
of values, therefore it is called in our parable "the way of understanding."
The AudienceVerses 7 to 12
"He that reproveth a
scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a
blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will
increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge
of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy
life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou
comest, thou alone shalt bear it."
In any audience there are two kinds
of hearersthose who believe the message and those who do not. In this section in our
text we meet these two classes as the "scorner" and the "wise man."
Not only does the reproof of the gospel to the scorner bring unawareness, but it also
incurs his anger against the reprover. The wise man, in contrast, will appreciate and love
the one who gives him correction, realizing that such correction is for his own profit.
The just man who increases his learning is reminiscent of the adage, "When you talk
you repeat what you already know, when you listed you might learn something."
The modern philosophy of
existentialism holds that all truth is relative and that there is no such thing as
"absolute truth." The principle of wisdom given in verse ten is a direct
rebuttal of such existential arguments: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
wisdom." Recognizing Jehovah as the great "first cause" and the creator of
man as well as his universe, it also recognizes that the creator has the right to dictate
the rules to the created. His laws are absolute.
Building upon this he adds,
"and the knowledge of the holy is understanding." Too frequently secular science
stands in its own right. Great theoretical hypotheses are drawn from demonstrable evidence
and proclaimed as fact. When Holy Writ comes in conflict with such "science" the
Bible is deemed dated and unreliable. The author of Proverbs here argues to the contrary.
His position is that "holy" or religious knowledge is based on the inspired
writings of an unchangeable God, and therefore superior to the deductions of scientists,
which often change with new evidence and the theories of later scholars.
In verse eleven we find out why the
religious knowledge is rated first. It alone can multiply days. While medical research may
lengthen life expectancy it does so primarily by curing the mortality rate of infants and
children, rather than actually lengthening life. Man still begins to rapidly deteriorate
at the Biblical limits of "three score and ten" or "four score" (Psa.
90:10). Gods Word alone holds out the formula for everlasting life through the
sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.
The Foolish Woman Verses 13
"A foolish woman is
clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house,
on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their
Our attention is now called to the
contrasting invitation. She is the same foolish woman described as a harlot or prostitute
in chapter seven. The Hebrew word translated "simple" has, according to
Strongs Concordance, the implication of seduction. The word translated
"clamorous" includes not only the stridency of her voice, but the spectacle of
her appearance, as that of a harlots apparel. The "high places of the
city." while including the residency of the more affluent, were also the location of
the pagan temples (see 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:15 for examples). Cult prostitution was
often a part of these worship services and therefore a natural gathering ground for women
of this profession. Her audience is the heedless, the passers-by who "go right on
their ways," unmindful of anything beyond temporary gratification.
Her MessageVerses 16 to 18
"Whoso is simple, let him
turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters
are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are
there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell [sheol].
The audience attracted by the
foolish woman is further described as "simple," or, as the New American Standard
phrases it, "naive." Their naivete is based on their lack of understanding,
which is in turn based upon their rejection of the "knowledge of the holy" (v.
10). What they lack is a moral or ethical base, therefore their consciences permit what
God does not allow. The perversity of fallen human nature is outlined only too well in the
phrase: "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." Fallen
tendencies take delight in the thought of "getting away with something." How
often have we noted the strength of temptation lying in the thought that we will not be
discovered in our transgressions. Sin becomes almost a game, with the object to preserve
an outward purity while giving vent to human passions within.
The conclusion of the parable
emphasizes the naivete and is similar to another proverb of Solomon: "There is a way
which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov.
Once man tries to ignore the
teachings of true wisdom, the wisdom of Christ, he is left to his own devices. These
usually prove disastrous. A case in point is the history of Israel during the period of
Judges when, after repetitive deliverance from their enemies, Israel kept reverting to the
pagan idolatry of their neighbors. In summing up that historical era, the last verse of
the book of Judges reads: "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did
that which was right in his own eyes" (Judg. 21:25).
How glad we are that the
"hell" to which those who accept the invitation of the foolish woman end up is
not the traditional fiery "hell" of Christendom, or even the "gehenna
hell" of the New Testament from which there is no return, but the "death and
hell" of Revelation 20:13 which eventually shall deliver "up the dead which are
in them" for the future judgment of Gods kingdom when he shall "judge
every many by that man whom he has ordained", Jesus Christ the righteous (Acts
Solomon himself saw the twin
invitations of wisdom and foolishness, following first the latter before going back and
taking the other path, "the road less taken." He sums up the struggle between
the two and his final conclusion in the closing words of Ecclesiastes, "Let us hear
the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the
whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Eccl. 12:13, 14).
The First of the
"The seed is the Word
of God ..Take heed therefore how ye hear. "
P. L. Read
Of all the parables of our Lord, the
parable of the Sower is doubtless best known and remembered; yet like all other portions
of our Father's Word, it grows richer and more precious through study and reflection. That
it is foremost amongst the parables in importance and that a proper understanding of it is
of assistance in understanding the others is plainly indicated by our Lord when, on
finding the disciples unable to grasp its significance, he remarked: "Know ye not
this parable? And how then will ye know all parables?" or to quote from the Weymouth
translation: "Do you all miss the meaning of this
parable? How then will you understand the rest of my parables?" (Mark 4:13).
The Parables of the Kingdom
In the Matthew account, which appears
in chapter 13, the parable of the Sower is the first of seven parables. These seem to bear
a relation to one another like the messages of our Lord to the seven churches, (given by
St. John in the Revelation). Together these seven parables are known as the "Parables
of the Kingdom." Their teaching seems to portray the successive eras of the gospel
age, from the beginning of this dispensation to its close. In them we have a vivid
delineation of the trials and resistance which the kingdom of Heaven is to encounter from
the Adversary, from its first introduction into the world until the end of the Age. At
this time, however, we propose to consider the parable of the Sower by itself, to seek to
develop its own particular lessons.
First, let us refresh our minds by
reading it. "Behold, "The sower goes out to sow. As he sows, some of the seed
falls by the wayside, and the birds come and peck it up. Some falls on rocky ground, where
it has but scanty soil. It quickly shows itself above ground, because it has no depth of
earth; but when the sun is risen, it is scorched by the heat and through having no root it
withers. Some falls among the thorns; but the thorns spring up and stifle it. But a
portion falls upon good ground, and gives a return, some a hundred for one, some sixty,
some thirty. Listen, every one who has ears!" [Matt. 13:1-9; Weymouth translation.]
In explaining the parable later on when
alone with his disciples, our Lord showed that the seed is the Word of God respecting the
Kingdom (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10); the Word which, when "understood"
(Matt. 13:23), "received" (Mark 4:20), and "kept" (Luke 8:15) will
produce "sons of the Kingdom" (Matt. 13:38); and the four different conditions
of soil on which the seed fell represent four kinds of hearers. We shall later consider
these in detail, but first notice the moral Jesus draws from the parable. It is stated in
Luke's account in these words; "Take heed how ye hear"-( 8:18).
Results Reached If Details are Pressed Too Far
"Take heed how ye hear." In
this sentence we have the moral, the lesson, which Christ himself drew from the parable.
And it is instructive to note that his moral is the natural lesson, drawn by a divine
wisdom; indicating not only the force and beauty of the parable but the weakness and
insufficiency of even the most perfect parabolic forms of instruction (and the absurd
results we will reach) if we attempt to press every little detail too far. Our Lord,
summing up the lessons of the parable, declares that we are to be careful what we hear and
how we hear; but how can the ground exercise any care as to what seed it will receive or
the conditions under which it will be received? The ground must take whatever seed the
sower casts upon it; and if the good seed should be choked by thorns or fail for lack of
soil, the ground is not to blame for that; its conditions depend not on its own care but
on the farmer's care. In actual farming, it is not the ground but the farmer who is
responsible for the condition of the soil. It is he who
should have burned off the thorns or added the necessary soil; it is he, not the ground, who is to blame if the wrong
seed be sown or the ground yield no fruit.
Thus, from the very first parable
uttered by our Lord we learn that we must not push his analogies and comparisons too far;
that natural phenomena and processes are inadequate expressions of spiritual truth; we
must bring an understanding and discriminating heart to even the most perfect words ever
uttered. To give full force to the moral of this parable it must be supplemented. We must
remember that hearers of the Word are not only like different conditions of soil but also
like different farmers. We must remember that just as the farmer, by skill and
application, may compel the ground to bring forth, despite the curse which has fallen upon
it, so we, by a wise application, may constrain these otherwise barren hearts of ours to
bring forth fruit unto God. We can determine
what seed we will receive into our heart; therefore we are to see to it that we receive
only the good seed that will produce sons of the Kingdom, not the tare-seed that, as our
Lord shows in the next parable, the enemy will be only too happy to scatter on our heart
if we permit him. We can determine the
conditions of the soil into which the good seed is to fall; and therefore we are to see to
it that there be a good soil for the good seed, a soil rich enough and deep enough to
bring it to perfection.
One Sower And One Seed
It is interesting to note
that the possibility of two kinds of seed, one good and one evil, is not even mentioned,
much less dwelt on. We know, of course, that there are two kinds of seed continually being
sown in the hearts of men. One is a good seed, the other evil. One is a seed of truth, the
other of error. There are seeds of love and seeds of hate, seeds of kindness and seeds of
unkindness; and elsewhere in the scriptures these different seeds and how they may be
distinguished are discussed. But they are not under discussion in this parable, which
refers throughout to only the good seed.
Then, too, we are sometimes represented
as sowers, sowing seed in the heart of each other; and then the lesson is that we should
be careful to sow only the good seed-unmixed with our best guesses and fancies-and be
careful to prove all things which others may seek to sow in our hearts, holding fast only
to that which is good. But, once again, we note that that is not the lesson before us in
this parable. There is only the one sower here, and it is the Lord himself.
Is The Good Seed?
The reason for limiting the seed in the
parable to the good seed only, and referring to the one Sower only, is that the Master is
giving us here the first, the most elementary, lesson concerning the Kingdom class; other
lessons will follow. Here in this parable the Master's one lesson is about the frame of
heart and mind which should be ours when the good seed comes our way.
The good seed in this parable is not a
discussion of the intricacies of difficult doctrinal points; even inspired Apostles
differed on such things, as did, for example, Peter and Paul. It is the Word of God which,
in its simplicity, discloses the wondrous character of God; any one in the right attitude
of heart cannot fail to understand that word which will produce in one who embraces it a
whole-hearted consecration of mind and life.
In the parable we have a description of
four kinds of hearers: three of them unprofitable and one a good or profitable hearer. Let
us consider these in the order in which they appear in the parable.
This is He That was Sown By The Wayside
Of the three sorts of unprofitable
hearers, the first set before us is he to whom the Word is as seed sown by the wayside. As
the sower goes over the -field, some of the seed falls on the path (or close by the side
of the path) where the earth has not been broken up by the plow. It lies there on the hard
surface until it is either trodden down and crushed beneath the feet of passersby or is
caught up by the birds which flock around the sower's heels. The spiritual significance of
this familiar rural scene is explained by our Lord: "When any one heareth the Word,
and understandeth it not, then cometh the Evil One, and snatcheth away that which was sown
in his heart lest he should believe and be saved."
Now observe-the soil óf the path and
under the path may be as deep and as rich as the best of the field; its natural capacity
for yielding fruit may be very large; but it has been trodden hard by many passing feet,
so that the seed cannot penetrate the surface but lies there; it is an easy prey to the
birds, it is rotting, not growing, even though it may escape the keen eye and the bruise
of the passing heel.
The first unprofitable hearer,
therefore, is not a man of a cold, hard nature nor of a nature all overrun with growths of
evil; he is simply negligent, uninterested, indifferent. Unlike the good hearer, he does
not understand the Word; that is, he does not
perceive its bearing on himself, its true worth of importance to him. He has no objection to listening to it, but it
does not penetrate to the depths of his being; it excites no personal interest, does not
throw out slight root-filaments on every side to twine around the thoughts and affections
which lie closest to his heart. The Gospel message does not grip him, as when you tell him something that will
be helpful in his business or advise him along other lines of earthly interest.
How has he reached this condition? What
has made him thus impervious to spiritual truth? Alas! he has made his heart a highway-has
suffered all thoughts, evil as well as good, to
pass to and fro. For many a day his heart has lain open like a public thoroughfare; all
base and low and sensual imaginations have claimed their right of way over it, until the
soil, good enough in itself, has been trodden hard and can no more take seed or bear fruit
until the keen, grinding plowshare of affliction has been driven through it.
He has felt the Word fall upon his
heart, perhaps, hard though it be; he has dimly and from afar apprehended that there is a
life, a reality, in the truth of God that he has not hitherto recognized; he has thought,
from time to time, as the seed had fallen upon him that it would be well for him to look
into the matter for himself some day; but about the time he should be reaching a decision
for God something else interferes, and the impression of the good seed which fell upon but not in
his heart disappears.
He That Was Sown Upon The Rocky Places
The second unprofitable hearer is he to
whom the Word is as seed sown in rocky places. In the great field in which the sower goes
forth bearing precious seed there are places in which the hard rock crops up close to the
surface; and the seed which falls into the shallow soil that covers the face of the rock
springs up very quickly in the heat the rock holds and radiates; but because there is
little moisture and no depth of earth, the sun scorches them and they wither as quickly as
they grow. And, says our Lord, translating these familiar, natural symbols into spiritual
truths: "He that was sown upon the rocky places, this is he that heareth the Word,
and straightway with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a
while; and when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, straightway he
This second hearer, then, is a man of
shallow, superficial, character who does nothing thoroughly, brings nothing to
And that surely is a very fine touch,
which describes a man of this superficial stamp as being of a hard and impenetrable heart.
Under the thin surface of easily-stirred dust, there lies a bed of rock. For it is among
those who lead a life of light enjoyment and who tread a round of trivial canes and
ambitions and pleasures that we learn how heartless men can be. It is not among the poor
or the busy but among the elegant votaries of pleasure and fashion that men, and women
too, are trained to stifle emotion, to harden themselves into indifference, to
cultivate that selfishness which is death to all love and to all nobility of character.
And when a man of this sensitive, yet
shallow, character has the Word of God earnestly pressed upon him, it often happens that
struck by its novelty and moved by the emotion of the moment, he forthwith receives it
with joy; he not only understands and assents to it but, like the good hearer, receives it
unto himself, suffers it to dwell and work in him and shape his course. For a while his
life is changed; he is eager to give his susceptible and easily-moved heart altogether to
this new, stimulating, excitement. Nothing in his experience was ever comparable to it.
He will break through all rules of good taste and good sense to show his esteem for it
and to make others esteem it as he does. He lives in a rapture and would have all men
share it with him.
But like all other raptures, it is
quickly past; its force is soon spent. The times change, and he changes with the times. He
has no root in himself and cannot withstand any influence brought to bear upon him. A
strong temptation comes, and he has no strong faith with which to meet it. The excitement
is over and now the consecrated life looks as dreary to him as had all previous forms of
life. `Tribulation or persecution ariseth and immediately he is offended." He does
not keep the Word; his nerveless hands cannot
hold it fast. As quickly as he received it, so quickly he lets it go.
He Who Received Seed Among The Thorns
The third unprofitable hearer is he to
whom the Word is as seed sown among thorns. For besides the trodden and rocky places,
there are broad patches in the field thick with the seeds of thorns; and these spring up
with the good seed, but faster than the good seed, so
that it is choked before it can yield fruit.
Now, if we ask: "Who among all the
hearers of the Word corresponds to this thorn-infested soil?" our Lord Jesus
replies: "He who received seed among the thorns is he who, when he has heard the
Word, goeth his way; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the
pleasures of life, and the lust of other things entering in, choke the Word, and he
bringeth no fruit to perfection."
We observe that the ground is good
enough to grow either wheat or thorns but not good
enough to grow both; that is to say, not good enough to bring both to perfection.
Here, on this soil, the seed has a better chance than before. It gets into the soil, takes root, springs up, forms the ear even. It is not trodden down, nor
snatched away; nor is it scorched for want of moisture or depth. Long after the farmer
going his rounds has discovered that the sides of the path will be bare and seen the
withered stalks of the seed sown on rocky places, he has hopes that this on the thorny
ground is doing fairly well, though there are too many weeds among it. But when it has well-nigh accomplished its task and its
promise is at its best, it is choked by quicker growths and not suffered to mature the
full corn in the ear.
Now it is thus with some hearers of the
Word. Like the good hearer, they understand, receive; they even hold fast the seed. The
impression it has produced does not fade away instantly, like seed picked up by the birds
the very moment it has fallen. Nor do they renounce it as soon as it demands a firm
resistance to temptation or a patient endurance of trial, like the seed that after it
has sprung up withers in the stalk. They keep the
Word through all such trials and tests as these. Nevertheless they suffer it to be choked when it is on the point of bearing. Much as they
love it, they love much besides it; and these other loves grow very quickly and overtop
the growth of the good seed, sucking away the juices which should nourish it. So much so that the life and power of the
Gospel message are gradually neutralized and drawn out of them; and though fruit is
formed in them, they do not bring it to perfection.
What are the thorns which thwart and
choke the Word? Some of them are "the cares of this world," those daily
recurring anxieties about what we shall eat and what we shall drink and wherewith we
shall be clothed, distracting our attention; while the Word of God draws us one way, these
petty cares and worries draw us another way.
Other of these thorns spring from the
deceitfulness of riches, from the peculiar and subtle cunning with which they beguile us
away from the simplicity that is in Christ. And though, like the cares of the world,
riches are not in themselves evil, yet all careful observers of human life have admitted
that wealth has a special trick of gradually withdrawing men from the love and service of
the truth. As a rule rich men are content with the world as it is--naturally-for they
think the world has dealt very kindly with them, and therefore they see no need for
bettering it. Wealth has many wiles; it is full of deceit; and no man is worthy of greater
honor than the rich man who keeps himself unspotted from the world and its ways. As we
recall from time to time the many examples of Christian grace which characterized
Brother Russell's ministry, we may well pause once and again to remember that among the
many tests he successfully endured was this one, which few to whom it is applied prove
able to withstand.
The pleasures of life and the lust of
other things are more common weeds or thorns, but hardly less fatal. They ruin thousands
where the deceitfulness of riches ruins one. Who that has gone through life with open eyes
has not again and again seen the young man who has given himself ardently to God
beguiled away from the simplicity of Christ by the lure of pleasure and the excessive
pursuit of other objects? He does not suddenly and completely fall away; first this and
then that object attracts him, and between them they choke his early devotion. There is
perhaps not one of these objects which if the issue were distinctly raised he would not
sacrifice for Christ's sake. But among so many quick-springing thorns, the good seed has
but a poor chance and seldom brings its fruit to perfection. How many a fair, bright,
promise has been thus nipped in the bud! Let us see to it that we come not into their
number. Let us see to it that these deadly thorns do not make us unfruitful hearers of the
word of truth and grace.
He That Receiveth Seed Into Good Ground
We come now to a happier task, the
consideration of the good hearer. And as we note the various points in our Lord's
description of him may we be encouraged and strengthened in our determination to develop
in ourselves, by God's grace, the characteristics he portrays; these characteristics
if found in us will enable us to yield a rich fruitage from the good seed of the Word of
God sown in us.
Each of the three Evangelists will be
found to help us; for Matthew tells us that "he that receiveth seed into good
ground is he that heareth the Word and understandeth
it"; Mark, that it is he that heareth the word and "receiveth" it; and Luke, that it is
he, who, "having heard the Word, keepeth it in
an honest and good heart, and bringeth forth fruit with patience."
The first characteristic of the good
hearer is that he understands the Word. Scholars
tell us that the Greek word here rendered "understand" is significant. It
denotes a state of mind in which having compared one statement with another, having
weighed each apart and then placed them side by side, having viewed truth as truth and
then in its relation to himself a man gives it the assent of his whole intelligent being
and affirms not only that it is true but that it
shall be true for him: that he believes it, will act upon it, and so far as lieth in him will see that his life is governed
by it. It includes the assent of the reason or the intellect, the determination of
the will, and the sympathy of the heart. So that the very first characteristic of the good
hearer of the Word is a very large and comprehensive one. Before any one of us can claim
to be such a hearer, we must have personally
studied and considered the truth as it is in Jesus and have weighed any objections to it
of which we have been cognizant and have found such objections wanting. We must have
felt how well adapted it is to our own individual needs and have been gripped with a
strong conviction that it is from God and that it is for us. Not only must our reason,
our intellect, consent to its being true, we must also determine to act upon it and find
our sympathies and affections engaged by it. This done, we will have the first
qualification of the good hearer; for we hear nothing to advantage while we doubt it or
dislike it or do not mean to let it influence our life. It is only when we listen in
faith, in love, and with a resolve to benefit by what we hear that we are in a condition
to make the most of the divine Word of truth and to get the most from it.
Mark's word is equally significant with
Matthew's and carries the thought still further. According to Mark, the good hearer is one
who receiveth it; and to receive it, in Mark's
sense of the word, is "to take it into oneself." It implies that the good hearer
is so charmed and won by the peculiar fitness of the gracious gospel message to his own
dire need, that he embraces it, receives it into his very being; he prepares, so to speak,
a habitation, a sanctuary, for it in the innermost recesses of his spirit, from which,
like the Shekinah in the tabernacle and the temple, it sheds a hallowing and enlightening
influence through all the courts and avenues of his life.
The model hearer, then, is one who not
only understands the Word, not only gives it the sanction of his intelligence and will and
affection but in virtue of this sanction, admits it into himself to become a part of him,
to become the guiding and shaping spirit of his life.
a Good and Honest Heart
Luke tells us that in the good hearer
the heart into which the Word is received will be "a good and honest" heart..
Obviously a man with an untrue heart will not make a good hearer of truth. We cannot be
good hearers unless our hearts are good-candid, open, sincere; hearts like little,
children's; hearts like Nathaniel's, of whom our Lord could say, `Behold an Israelite
indeed, in whom is no guile." If we would know the secrets of truth, we must be
unselfish, unprejudiced; we must care rather to be on the side of truth than to find the
truth on our side.
hen, too, having received the Word into
an honest heart, the good hearer will "keep" it or "hold fast." He
will not let it go, whatever allurements he may meet. He will not suffer the good seed to
be withered by wayside influences, nor choked by incoming cares or pleasures of life, nor
obstructed by rocky impenitences. He has found it hard to get the truth and having got it,
he will not part with it. At times it may be very difficult to hold it fast. A great gain
may be his or an intense delight purchasable at a very small cost of being untrue to his
convictions; a terrible danger may be averted by a lie on his part or even by being
evasive or by leaving a wrong impression; a friend he greatly desires to please may be
made happy by only a slight deviation from the path of integrity; but he will hold fast
his integrity and truth. He will be assured that the laws he has deduced from the Word,
the laws by which he commonly governs his life, must not be reconsidered, much less
repealed, while the storm of passionate desire is beating upon him; most of all, he needs
to abide by them. This is the good hearer--the man who is a doer of the Word, a doer when
doing is most difficult, and not a hearer only. He never forgets what manner of man he is
or should be; but looking with a constant gaze into the perfect law of our liberty, he
walks by it and is blessed in his deed.
Again, the good hearer, who understands
the Word, who receives it into a good and honest heart and holds it fast, also brings
forth fruit "with patience. " And of
all his characteristics, this, as it is the most valuable, is also the hardest to attain.
To wait is even harder than to labor and to obey. Unless we are to have our harvest very
soon, we have hardly the heart to sow. The farmer has long patience-must have it-4ill he
receives the early and the latter rain. The winter frost must mellow the seed lying in the
genial bosom of the earth; the rains of spring must swell it and the suns of summer mature
it. So with us. To become a good hearer, a good doer, of the Word, is a task which
requires long patience. We must suffer many a killing frost, many a darkening shower, many
a burning sun before the good seed, cast into our heart by the great Sower, will gladden
us (and him) with its thirty or its sixty or, it may be, its hundred-fold. But if we do
but wait with patience or with "cheerful constancy" as the word here translated
patience more exactly means, if with cheerful, constant endurance we bring forth fruit,
the more precious will be the harvest. It is only ill weeds that spring up apace; and God
is not unjust that he should forget our labor of love. In due time we shall reap if we
faint not. We shall reap all that we have sown and more. For he that giveth seed to the
farmer and bread to the eater will multiply the seed we have sown and give us to eat of
the fruit of our toils. One day, nearer somewhat than when we first believed, all the
seeds he has planted in us, which we have received in a good and honest heart, which we
have kept and cultivated, will have grown to maturity and we shall awake "in his
likeness." Let us be patient, therefore; let us be steadfast; let us establish our
hearts before him. Thus may it be with us all, for Jesus' sake.
[Edited version reprinted from THE HERALD (1954)].
The Abiding Life
1 am the
vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and 1 in him, the same bringeth forth
much fruit: for without me
ye can do nothing.-John 15:5
By John Trzeciak
Have you ever thought about your union
with Christ? The night before Jesus was crucified he gave his disciples a very important
message on "the abiding life." Union with Christ was already established in the
previous chapter (14:20). Now he proclaimed a continuing
relationship, even when he would not be with them personally.
John writes of this sermon by Jesus to
express the closeness and love our Lord has for those who have covenanted to walk in his
footsteps. Jesus knew just how important that message was at that time. He knew that
severe tests awaited those who make this step of consecration (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus knew
he would be leaving them. It was essential to assure them of his abiding care. He said that the Father would send
us "another comforter" (John 14:16).
In the second verse of John 15 each
believer is illustrated as a "branch" in the "vine." Each believer
is considered only from the standpoint of bearing fruit. This parable illustrates the oneness that each consecrated member may have with
Since the body is one and has many
members, how is one able to join? Entrance comes the same way for all-by baptism in the
Spirit, by drinking of the one Spirit!
If a believer fails in some way to
produce even a small portion of fruit, he may expect the Father to remove him. If a farmer
cannot get results, he is justified in cutting away an unproductive growth which may cause
even further damage to his crop.
So it is and should be with the
unfruitful children of God. They can even become contrary to the will of God, especially
if they reject the heavenly Father's
instructions through our Lord Jesus. He alone provides us with the enthusiastic life
necessary for fruit bearing. The child of God who is continually ready to receive the
nutrients from the source but is busy looking elsewhere or focusing in on self
gratification will not bear much fruit, if any at all. Being always focused on the
source is a primary example of stability of Christian character. That is why we must look
unto Jesus as "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). If we look to
our fellow runners, we will surely be slowed down. How others run is not our concern
except as we seek to encourage them to greater faithfulness. Christ is the root, the
foundation principle for all who may eventually bear fruit.
In John 14:6 Jesus states that he is
the indispensable way to the Father. He alone is able to reveal in himself the full
truth about God. For a farmer to get the maximum yield from the crop it is essential that
he remove any hindering thing, so that the objective of a higher yield of fruit may be
obtained (vs. 2). This process may not be an easy task. Pests and crop damaging
conditions (old habits) may play an important role in the eventual lack of fruit. The
process the Christian uses to cleanse himself from these pests is the communication of the
message of Christ (Eph. 4:29). The word "corrupt" is used of that which is
worthless or useless as well as of that which is rotten or decayed. It is the Spirit that
quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing (John 6:63). The words of Jesus are not empty
promises, they are eternal life (John 6:68).
Abiding in Christ
Our "abiding in Christ" is
more than being in Christ as a matter of "spiritual position." It requires a
deliberate cultivation of the bond established with Christ by obedience and love so that
"Christ in you" may be experienced as a conscious reality. The condition for
spiritual usefulness is identical with the natural (John 15:4).
The branch "cannot bear fruit of
itself." It must abide in the vine. Having our fellowship with the Lord and truly
dwelling in this relationship should yield much fruit. Being submissive to his will and
not our own is sometimes difficult. When Christ asks us to follow him, he first instructs
us to "deny ourselves" (Matt. 16:24).
In this verse to "take up"
one's cross literally means to "pick up at once." Cross-bearing is symbolic
language for voluntary submission to the discipline necessary for becoming more like our
King. That has not been an easy task. It was the same with Jesus, who is the first and
foremost to do so.
In verse five the expression
"without me ye can do nothing" shows the danger of trying to produce fruit
without this relationship. The yield is nothing but failure, unhappiness, and
frustration. That which is not useful in edifying becomes a form of individual idealism that can only puff one up.
This can result in a lack of identity amongst the Lord's people.
Abiding cannot be maintained apart from
giving the words of Christ the reigning position in the heart. Paul states in Colossians
3:16 that the word of Christ should "dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and
admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in
your hearts to the Lord." To sing in the heart does not mean that the singing is
unexpressed but only that it is heartfelt.
Christ is honored when his word is
honored. Verse seven assures us that when the Lord's people prayerfully petition him for
the promise, he will honor his word. The "whosoever will" of salvation finds its
counterpart in the "what ye will" of prayer. Prayer is a privilege but it is
also properly termed "the life line" by which we communicate our requests.
Proving ourselves as disciples of Christ bears a direct relationship to the fruit bearing
The unexpressed assumption is that
Christ himself bears fruit whereby the Father may be all in all. The glorification of the
Father must be the pinnacle of all our hands find to do. "Herein is my Father
glorified, that ye bear much fruit" (vs. 8).
As fruit bearing means a movement from
man Godward through Christ, so love is a movement manward from the Father through Christ
(John 3:16). Verse nine mentions the continuing in Christ's love as another abiding
quality of Christ. Eternal life is the fruition of hope based on the sacrificial life of
the Lord whose life portrays the "fullfillment" of that promise.
"Keep yourselves in the love of
God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 21
We are not only to "keep ourselves
in the love of God," we are also to keep his commandments. We are reminded of his
"new commandment" to "also love one another" (John 13:34). What a
blessing it is to dwell in the love of Christ, but how difficult to keep God's laws. John
15:10 tells us that they must go hand in hand. Both
Gethsemane and Calvary are embraced as part of the will of God. Perfect obedience and
the relationship of this love expressed to all is the fullness of joy promised to all
those that love him.
Paul writes that "the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith., meekness,
temperance: against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22, 23). By bearing these fruits we
will be doing good to all as we have opportunity (Gal. 6:10).
Since these qualities exist in our Lord
Jesus, it becomes apparent that we must also try to emulate these characteristics as much
as possible. In proportion as we allow the holy Spirit to infiltrate our very being, in
like proportion we will vividly express these gracious fruits of the Spirit. In a similar
vein, the Apostle Peter admonishes us to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance,
patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. "If these things be in you and
abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren [Greek, idle] nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord
Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:48).
Abiding in Christ becomes an essential
aspect of our service. If we are to fully appreciate his loving sacrifice, continuing in
his love and the heavenly Father's love is critical.
How long must we continue in his love?
Paul answers that full consecration must be maintained. We cannot bear fruits of
righteousness for just one day, or whenever we are in the mood. There must be an abiding
surrender. At the moment we reach each day, it should be greeted with the words, "My
earliest thought I desire shall be, `what shall I render unto the Lord for all his
benefits toward me"' (Psa. 116:12-14)? Jesus' prayer on the night of his crucifixion
shows this abiding love, so that all who desire his presence may partake of its loving
warmth and security (John 17:20-26).
John was so appreciative of what the
Master said that night in the upper room that he wrote these blessed words of John 15.
They stand as an impression of the untiring sacrifice of our Lord on behalf of those who
have covenanted to follow in his footsteps.
`Behold, what manner of love the Father
bath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world
knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth
not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like
him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that bath this hope in him purifieth
himself, even as he is pure."-1 John 3:1-3
The measure of Christ's love is his
readiness to die for those who are his friends. As he expresses his love for them and for
all mankind in death, they can surely express the same toward one another in life (John
And they that are with him are
called, and chosen, and faithful.Revelation 17:14
By Richard Evans
"And Jesus answered and spake
unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king,
which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were
bidden to the wedding" (Matt 22:1-3).
Translators use both bid and call in
this parable to render kaleo (#2564). Because call has such special significance
in Scripture, the use of bid introduces a vagueness not present in the original. It is
better to use call throughout.
"And they would not come.
Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are called, Behold, I have
prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come
unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm,
another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them
spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent
forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then saith he to
his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were called were not
These verses describe the reaction
of the Jews, the called people of God, to the ministry of Jesus and his disciples. They
did not come to the marriage feast; and, consequently, as a people, they suffered greatly.
"Go ye therefore into the
highways, and as many as ye shall find, call to the marriage. So those servants went out
into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and
the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw
there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest
thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless." Matthew
The sending of the Kings
servants into the highways depicts the call going out to the Gentiles. Paul wrote of this
call, "I say then, Have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid:
but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:11).
Many Gentiles responded the
banquet hall filled; but, as indicated in the parable, entrance into the hall is not
sufficient. It is necessary for each guest to put on a wedding garment.
"Then said the king to the
servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness;
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are
chosen."Matthew 22:13, 14
Many versions punctuate these verses
so the clause "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" is related with
"cast him into outer darkness." This obscures the lesson. The casting of the
unrobed guest into darkness is the conclusion of the parables narrative. A period, a
full stop, should follow the word "darkness". The subsequent words are the
lesson of the parable. In todays idiom, they are the bottom-line. They state the
point of the parable, a danger the Lord was making manifest.
The text would be better as
"... Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for many are called, but few are
This construction gives meaning to
the conjunction. For (because) few are chosen, there shall be weeping and gnashing of
teeth. This is the lesson of the parable!
In the parable Jesus dramatized two
crises his followers must experience. The first is Gods calling (1Pet 5:10). This
crisis is resolved in the parable by entering the banquet hall. In the Christian walk it
is resolved by consecration to holy living and obedience to the will of God. Typified by
the general consecration of the Levites, the believer sets his mind to follow
righteousness in all of lifes affairs. As with the Levites, this consecration does
not entail sacrifice. God has the right to demand that all his creatures love
righteousness and hate iniquity, but he does not demand that all sacrifice.
A life of righteousness sooner or
later brings about a tension. A sincere response to Gods call results in conflict
with earthly interests, earthly ambitions, earthly friendships (1 Pet 3:20,21). In the
"present evil world" (Gal 1:4) the path of righteousness ultimately requires
sacrifice. The resolution of this second crisis, the putting on of the garment, is a
second consecrationa consecration as a priest for sacrifice. Typified by the special
consecration of Aaron and his sons as sacrificers or priests, this consecration is made by
only a few (Luke 22:14).
All who desire to follow Jesus
should be aware of these crises and understand the inherent hazard. Having turned to God
and his ways of righteousness, having made the first consecration, there is a strong
temptation to stop, to believe all that is necessary has been accomplished. There is a
grave danger of not going on to the second consecration.
This perilous snare was made evident
in Pauls ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5). The Apostle found there disciples who
knew only of Johns baptism, the baptism of repentance, the first consecration. Paul
quickly set about teaching the need for a second baptism.
This pitfall is also evident in the
Epistle to the Hebrews. The Hebrews were in the same provisional condition as the
"For when for the time ye ought
to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the
oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong
Repeatedly the writer implored the
Hebrews to go forward. "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest . . . "
(Heb4:11); "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest . . . Let
us draw near with a true heart. " (Heb 10:19-22); "Let us go forth therefore
unto him without the camp ..." (Heb 13:13).
In each of these requests the
Hebrews were being urged to go on to the second consecration.
To illustrate this hazard the writer
used the Exodus of Israel. Every Christian who has left his Egypt, consecrated to
righteousness, and followed God to the spiritual Jordan, comes to this critical juncture.
There is a second baptism, a baptism unto Joshuaa second consecration, a
consecration unto sacrifice!
The Ephesians heard and accepted
Pauls message. They were baptized into Christ. They crossed their Jordan. Of the
reaction of the Hebrews little is known. They were standing on the banks of the Jordan.
The epistle was written to encourage them to crossover (Heb 3:12,19).
From this picture given by God, we
know "few there be" (Matt 7:14) that make that crossing. Of the hundreds of
thousands of Jews over twenty years of age who left Egypt, of all that were baptized into
Moses at the Red Sea, only two were baptized in the Jordan (Num 14:30). That is the
danger! All who desire to be "more than conquerors" (Rom 8:37), all who desire
to destroy the enemies in the land, must not only leave Egypt, but must also leave the
wilderness. They must cross the Jordan. The great battle in which each Christian must
engage takes place in Canaan, not in the wilderness!
The Wedding Garment
A crucial point in the parable is
the absence of a wedding garment. There has been much speculation as to the source of the
wedding garment. Some declare it was the custom in Jesus day to present wedding
guests with garments. There is little evidence to support such a claim. The parable leaves
the source in the background, and simply indicates that a suitable robe was necessary,
however obtained. Adding to Scripture what is not given is unwise.
The verb "had on" in verse
11 is translated from enduo (Strongs #1746). This verb is used often in the
New Testament and has the meaning "to put on." "But put ye on the Lord
Jesus Christ" (Rom 13:14); "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is
created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph 4:24).
The unrobed guest had accepted the
call and entered the banquet hall, but he had not "put on" a proper garment. The
meaning of this expression was given by Paul. "For as many of you as have been
baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal.3:27)
Many are called by God and respond
by consecrating to righteous living. They receive Johns baptism; but, like the
Ephesians and the Hebrews at the time of their enlightenment, they are not "baptized
into Christ." They have not "put on" Christ. Though many are called, few go
on to the second consecration.
All who respond to Gods
drawing (John 6:44) are fed spiritual meat and drink (1Cor 10:3,4). Just as was Israel at
Mt. Sinai, they are enlightened of Gods requirements.
The Hebrews were
"illuminated" before they were urged to enter Gods "rest."
"But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye
endured a great fight of afflictions;" (Heb10:32). The Ephesians were first edified
by Paulteaching preceded baptism (Acts 19:4,5).
After entering the lighted hall,
after enlightenment, there must be a second response. Those who fail to "put on"
the garment, who fail to "put on" Christ, who fail to make the second
consecration, are rejected. Just as the unrobed guest, they are taken from the bright
lights of the banquet hall and cast into the darkness outside. They join those called ones
who refused to leave their farms, their merchandise. Those who enter the hall and fail to
"put on" a garment suffer the same fate as those who made light of the call.
There is an important nuance
apparent in the Greek which is completely lost in the English translation. " . . . he
[the King] saw there a man which had not [Strongs #3756] on a wedding garment
..." (Matt 22:11); " . . . how camest thou in hither not [Strongs #3361]
having a wedding garment?" (Matt 22:12)
The little word "not" in
these verses is translated from different Greek words. In verse 11 the word used denotes a
factthe guest had not put on a garment. The word in verse 12, on the other hand,
signifies intentionthe guest had willfully not put it on. The King asked in effect,
"is it your willful intention not to have a garment?" The guest knew the garment
was required, but was not willing to put it on.
The Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth
The ultimate consequence of not
responding to the call, and not putting on a wedding garment, is "weeping and
gnashing of teeth." This difficult phrase appears seven times in the New Testament
six times in Matthew, once in Luke. The account in Luke provides important insight.
"And he went through the cities
and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are
there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait
gate: for many, Isay unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able . . .
Again, there is the comparison
between many and few.
" . . . When once the master of
the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to
knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you,
I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy
presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you
not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth . . . "Luke 13:25-28
Those standing without, knocking at
the door, are the same ones who, in the parable, refused to go to the feastthe
called of the Jewish nation.
This text makes manifest the
"weeping and gnashing of teeth" is to occur in the Kingdom, after the
Lords return and the Church is complete. Only in the Kingdom will those who were
called realize the great privilege they rejected. It is then they cry "Lord, Lord,
open unto us." When they hear the answer "I know you not," then "there
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The prophet Ezekiel wrote of this
lament. "Then shall ye [Israel] remember your own evil ways, and your doings that
were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for
your abominations" (Ezek. 36:31).
Zechariah also foretold of it.
"... they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in
bitterness for him, as one is in bitterness for his firstborn" (Zech 12:10).
In the Kingdom those Jews who
rejected Gods call shall weep and gnash their teeth.
The parable reveals a similar
destiny awaits the Gentiles who reject Gods call. This was confirmed by the writer
"Looking diligently lest any
man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and
thereby [the] many be defiled"Hebrews 12:15
"Many" has the definite
article, "the many"the many who are called as contrasted with the few who
"Lest there be any fornicator,
or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know
how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he
found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."Hebrews
The Gentiles who do not respond to
the call will suffer rejection and, in the Kingdom, will weep as did Esau.
Many Called, Few Chosen
The Parable of the Marriage Feast
dramatically demonstrates the need for understanding the two crises in the Christian
experience. All who consecrate to righteous living enter the banquet hall without a
wedding garment. If they remain in that provisional state they receive the grace of God in
vain (2Cor 6:1), as did Esau.
"He that rejecteth me, and
receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same
shall judge him in the last day."John 12:48
The failure to be chosen is directly
related to not "putting on" a garment, not making the second consecration. Many
Jews and Gentiles, as individuals, follow the path taken by the Israelite nation. They
leave their Egypt and pass through the antitypical Red Sea. They come to Mt. Zion (Heb
12:22). They are nourished with spiritual meat and drink (1Cor 10:13,14). They are brought
to the border of their Canaan; but, as did Israel, they choose not to enter. They refuse
to pass through the Jordan. They willfully refuse to put on the wedding garment!
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a
promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of
it" (Heb 4:1); " . . . for many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt
Of The Penny
Is it not lawful for me to do
what I will with mine own?
Is thine eye evil, because I am good?Matthew 20:15
The Parable of the Penny is an
illustration Jesus gave to his disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven class, the church in
In this narrative an owner of a
vineyard went out one morning to hire workers for his harvest field. As he was walking he
met a group of laborers and sent them into his vineyard, agreeing to pay them a penny for
a days work. During the third hour of the same day he passed a hiring hall and
observed a group of men standing around waiting for employment. He invited them to go out
to his vineyard as well, stating that he would pay them whatever was right at the end of
the day. Again, at the sixth and ninth hours, he continue finding and hiring laborers to
work in his field.
At the eleventh hour, when he saw
still another group of men standing idly around, he approached them and asked why they
were not working. When they responded that no one had hired them the owner encouraged this
final set of workers to join the others in the vineyard.
In the evening the owner directed
his steward to call all the men together and pay them, beginning with the last group
first. When the men who were hired at the eleventh hour received a penny those who were
hired first assumed they would receive much more. However they also received a penny. In
their anger, the first hour laborers murmured against the owner, claiming they received
the same amount in payment as those who worked but one hour. He informed the laborers he
did them no wrong; that he had kept his promise. They were hired to work for one penny,
and at the end of the day that was what they received. The owner then told the murmurers
to take their payment and leave, and that the last would be first and the first last.
First Advent Application
This parable shows that it was the
owners desire to pay all of the workers the same amount. Our Lord presented this
lesson to his followers to illustrate the murmuring by some members of the church at his
second advent, during the harvest period of the Gospel age. Although this narrative seems
to refer to an end time picture of the Gospel church, we suggest it might also have a
further application to the nation of Israel at the time of Jesus earthly ministry.
At that time there was indignation
against Christ by his Jewish brethren, primarily motivated by the scribes and Pharisees.
Even though the Jewish nation rejected, murmured against, and ultimately crucified our
Lord, in contrast the publicans and sinners heard him gladly (Matt. 9:10-13).
The prophet Daniel reveals that the
children of Israel were waiting in full expectation for the Messiah at his first advent
(Dan. 9:24-27). When Jesus began his ministry, he preached to his Jewish brethren that the
Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and he offered them the initial privilege of entering into
the high calling arrangement. However, the Jewish nation as a whole, rejected this
opportunity to become part of the royal priesthood class, and thus the glorious prospect
of becoming joint-heirs with Christ was ultimately given to the gentiles (John 1:11; Acts
The scribes and Pharisees believed
that they were the only ones faithful to God. Thus they murmured amongst themselves that
if the publicans and sinners could obtain the privilege of discipleship, then they, as
religious leaders, should be granted something even better than that.
Although both the leaders of fleshly
Israel at the first advent and some of his spiritual family at the second advent murmured
against the Lord, the crux of the lesson applies largely to the feet members of the gospel
Second Advent Application
We do not apply this parable to the
entire gospel age. The Apostles, who were among the first workers of the vineyard as the
foundations of the new Jerusalem, could not be among those who murmured. Also, they did
not live nearly 2,000 years until the eleventh hour, or evening time, of this parable.
A series of prominent events take
place during our Lords second advent, including the beginning of the gospel age
harvest (Rev. 14:13-20), the raising of the sleeping saints (1 Cor. 15:50-54), and the
instantaneous resurrection of the faithful ones alive at this time (1 Thess. 4:13-18). All
of these must precede the ending of this present evil world and the inauguration of the
glorious kingdom reign.
From Matthew 20:3-7 we learn the
owner hired workers during the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours. These were never
promised a penny for their labor. The third hour laborers were told they would receive
whatsoever was right at the end of the day. Although the scriptures do not indicate what
compensation the sixth, ninth, and eleventh hour workers would receive at the days
end, it is implied that what was promised to the third hour workers would also be granted
to the laborers who were hired afterward.
We consider the penny to be
"the privilege of discipleship." Consecration to the service of the Lord is
always in order regardless of the time in which it takes place or the reward which is
given. When the heavenly Father accepts our consecration he promises us nothing more than
the "penny" of spirit begettal.
When the owner told the third,
sixth, ninth, and eleventh hour workers to labor in his harvest field without the definite
promise of what their wages would be suggests a time when all the crowns for the high
calling would be apportioned, and that any acceptance to this high calling would only
occur to fill a vacancy. The third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hour workers were never
promised the penny, even though it was given to them in the evening. Likewise, those who
made a sincere consecration to the Lord after all the crowns to the high calling were
apportioned were never promised the privilege of discipleship. However, with the falling
away of some under the severe testings of this harvest time, vacancies began to occur,
beginning with the third hour of the gospel age harvest, and the replacement process
continues even to this day. It appears reasonable that "whatsoever is right"
would apply during the harvest of our Lords second advent, following the
apportionment of the crowns, because up until this time, there had always been a crown
available for every acceptable consecration.
We conclude that the third, sixth,
ninth, and eleventh hours represent different intervals of time, or periods of sifting,
during the harvest of the gospel age, when some make acceptable consecrations and receive
the penny of spirit begettal even though they had to wait until former members of the
anointed class vacated their positions in the body due to being overcharged with the cares
of this world, or for unfaithfulness.
The payment of the penny, the
murmuring, and the steward are other particulars of this parable we would like to further
examine. The steward seems to correspond with someone who was made a ruler over the
household to give meat in due season (Matt. 24:45). The steward who paid the penalty must
also live during this harvest time. We believe this steward is the same as the "wise
and faithful servant" who gave full encouragement to the brethren prior to his death
that the harvest work had not yet ended but was still going "grandly on." Pastor
Charles Taze Russell, through his writings and oral messages, taught the privilege of
discipleship, the penny of spirit begettal, and the opportunity to become a part of the
royal priesthood was yet available to any whose hearts were in proper accord with the
heavenly Father and his beloved Son despite the seeming lateness of the hour, and thus
provided the "payment" that still brings joy to the hearts of eleventh hour
We are reminded in scripture that it
is still harvest time and that the call for reapers in the vineyard has not yet ceased
(Matt. 24:14). Until the announcement is given by the Great Company members that "the
harvest is past and summer is ended" (Jer. 8:20), the eleventh hour workers still
maintain the opportunity of receiving their payment before evening closes.
In Matthew 20:10-12 we read about
the murmuring of the first hour workers who labored long and received the same payment as
those who were hired hours afterward. We believe that the first hired workers represent a
class of people who served the Lord for many years and felt that others consecrating
subsequently would not be eligible for the same reward or spirit begettal because the hour
was so late. They, like the scribes and Pharisees, maintained the false reasoning that
they alone maintained were entitled to the privilege of discipleship.
The fact that the eleventh hour
workers received the penny indicates that the heavenly Father granted them spirit
begettal. However, no murmurer who objects to Gods provisions for others can ever
receive the full heavenly reward. We are reminded that the good man instructed the first
hour workers to "take that thine is and go thy way," adding "is thine eye
evil because I am good." It is this spirit of jealousy and the arrogant disposition
of heart which leads us to conclude In summary, the admonition of "Be thou faithful
unto death" (Rev. 2:10) is a source of encouragement for all the Lords people
who are living at the close of the gospel age harvest. We believe that the door to the
high calling remains ajar, and that all whose hearts are right may enter in.
The Word Of
GodIn Our Lives
"For the word of God
is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the
dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of
the thoughts and intents of the heart."Hebrews 4:12
The last of a four-part series
on "The Word of God" by Richard Kindig,
originally prepared as an audio-visual presentation for the
1992 International Convention of Bible Students in Poitiers, France.
We would now like to turn our
attention to the Word of God in our own lives as brethren in Christ. As Bible Students, we
have much to rejoice about. The Harvest Message has enriched our lives, and as the trouble
in the earth increases, we can all have more and more appreciation for "the
Truth" which we hold.
Emphasizing What God
But we would like to suggest that it
is not enough for us as footstep followers of Jesus to teach what the Bible says is true.
To be fully in harmony with the Word of God, we must emphasize what the Bible emphasizes.
How can we tell what the Word of God
emphasizes? By what it repeats often, by what it states clearly, by what it stresses with
Two quick examples: Paul seems to be
using the strongest possible language when he states that even if he died a martyrs
death, if he had not love, he would be nothing. (1 Cor. 13:8)
And in speaking of the Resurrection,
Paul stated that he delivered to us as of the first importance, that Christ died for our
sins, and rose again. (1 Cor. 15:3) These are examples of the ways in which the Word of
God emphasizes some truths more than others.
The Word of God also draws contrasts
and comparisons. Just as in the human body, every limb is controlled by opposing muscles
which push and pull against each other, so it is in the Body of Christ, and so it is in
the realm of ideas presented in the Word of God. The correct position can often only be
found in the clash, or tension, of opposing views.
For example, we are taught in
Hebrews 13:1 to have strong brotherly love. But in the next verse we are told to balance
this love among ourselves with active love toward strangers. The sense of the Greek text
in these verses is that we should nurture brotherly love and affection"Phila-delphia"but
balancing it with love of strangers: "Phila-xeneas."
The Word of God is timeless, and
fits all cultural situations. But we must be careful not to forget the historic context in
which its principles are set.
For example, it was not really
possible in New Testament times to ignore the brethren in our own vicinity, and forge
instead relationships by telephone and travel with other, more like-minded friends. We
suggest that we be very careful not to ignore the difficult relationship challenges that
we find in our local ecclesias for the perhaps more agreeable, but more superficial
relationships we can form at conventions. Travel may one day be restricted again. And we
will need to master the art of loving one another in our local assemblies.
Let us consider some of the
teachings of the Word of God that directly impact our relationships with each other.
Unity Of The Body
In Ephesians 4:3 we are taught to
keep, or preserve the unity of the body. We do this not by merely avoiding
conflictthe Word of God does not hold up tranquility as the goal, but rather by
pursuing the Biblical peace in the sense of completenesscommon causehammering
out of differences, continual mutual work, dedication, and submission.
And so the Word of God is full of
advice about how to act in a community of brethren. We are taught to love one another,
pray for one another, forgive one another, submit to one another, admonish one another,
serve one another.
Daily Bible Study
Lets consider one of the most
under-appreciated virtues on this short list: prayer. Daily Bible study, accompanied by
prayer, is essential for walking with God. No one should be attempting to serve God
without daily attention to prayer and thoughtful study of Gods word. Even Jesus, who
had perfect powers of recall and a full, unlimited measure of the Holy Spirit, did not go
without prayer for a single day as far as we know. He would lose sleep rather than miss
out on his times of fellowship with the Heavenly Father.
An Active Prayer Life
Active prayer, based on our standing
with God as justified believers, is the best way to resolve differences with employees, or
bosses, or wives, or family members, or brethren.
There has never been a great man of
God who was not a man of prayer: Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul, Johnand
The Word of God records the things
that great men of God have prayed for:
That a specific believers faith not fail. (John 13)
That we might be successful in correcting the shortcomings in the
faith of others. (1 Thess. 5:12)
That God would forgive the sins of others against us. (Matthew 5)
For personal wisdom. (James 1)
That God would forgive our own newly-recognized sins. (Matthew 6)
That God would indicate his choice for us in the outworking of
duties he has given us to do.
We also find, when examining the
prayers of great men of God, that they often included four elements: Adoration of God,
Confession of sins, Thanksgiving for His blessings, and last of all, Supplication or
requests for blessings to ourselves and especially others.
Another area of importance is
submission to one another. In 1 Peter 5:5, we are taught that the younger should submit to
the elder. Then Peter makes it a "two-way street" by saying, "yes, and all
of us should submit to each other."
Paul adds further insight by telling
us that our submission to the leadership of others in the Church should be proportional to
the actual work they do in Christ, and the fruitfulness it seems to have borne.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul discusses
the "works" that we are able to perform because we are justified in Christ. He
notes the impact these habitual actions have on our charactersand describes the
impact of this fruitage on our future reward. Therefore, actual deeds are a barometer of
spiritual strength, and are to be respected by the brethren. In 1 Corinthians 16:16 he
urges submission to those who are committed to service of the saints. In 1 Timothy 5:17 he
puts study and teaching high on the list of valuable services. In Hebrews 13:17 he urges
us to obey our spiritual leaders and try to avoid making their task unpleasant. Yet in 2
Corinthians 3:1 he makes it clear that positions of leadership do not flow from a name,
elected office, or a letter of commendation, but from the reality of a life of service.
Lack of an official office is no excuse for lack of service to the brotherhood. And in 2
Corinthians 10:13-17 Paul sets down the principle that our work that we do for the Lord
and His people is the measure of our influence. He speaks of a "measure" or
"sphere" of spiritual authority, and directly links it to the actual success he
has enjoyed in the Lords service.
Mutual submission is, of course, not
the only virtue laid down for us in our relationships with each other. We cannot read the
New Testament accounts without being impressed with how vigorously the apostles argued
their points with each other, and with worldly influences on the Church.
In Colossians 3:14-16, Paul prefaces
his command that we teach and admonish each other with several requirements: that the Word
of Christ dwell inside of us richly; that we have "bowels of
mercies"deep-seated, emotional feelings for each other; that we practice
forbearing one another, or overlooking as much as we can of each others
imperfections; that we show forgiveness to one another in the same way that Christ forgave
us; that we love one another; that we cultivate peace not only in our individual hearts,
but also in our collective "one body"; and that thankfulness pervade our
Having said all of that, Paul then
tells us to teach and admonish each otherwhich we take to mean that we should
communicate with each other truthfully and honestly about how we should live and act. And
Paul recommends a positive, joyous tone in the admonishingan atmosphere seasoned
with spiritual music and the spirit of grace.
Knowing Those Who Admonish Us
Finally, Paul states in 1
Thessalonians 5:12 that we should know those who labor among us and admonish us. Perhaps
that suggests that there could be those among us who are performing a service of labor and
"admonishing" who have not been recognized by the Church. Perhaps it means that
we should pay attention to what our leaders tell us, even when it is unpleasant. At any
rate, we are "admonished" to overcome our negative reactions to being corrected,
and recognize that those who perform this service to us are paying a price. Those who
labor among us and admonish us should be highly esteemed.
Because the body will have lots of
communication if it is healthy, the Word of God speaks much about "forgiving one
another." The necessity for much forgiveness implies that there will be many
offences. Dont be surprised by your brethrens sins. Dont piously put
down our brethren by talking about how "at this stage of the Church" we can
expect "lots of the `Great Company and fewer of the `Little Flock."
It is for God to judge. It is for us to forgive one another, just as Christ forgave us the
much more important sinsthe ones in ourselves.
The Bond Of Perfection
Of all the virtues the Word of God
asks to cultivate in our relationships with one another, Love is the most important, the
most emphasized, the most essential. There are hundreds of verses that speak of love. But
let us go back to the text we considered a few moments ago in Colossians 3:14. There Paul
listed a number of virtues, and put love "above all." He called it "the
love"agapewhich, he said, is the bond of perfectness. We all
know that agape is a love based on principle. But we would suggest that Paul is
here stating that if our devotion to principle is not binding us closer together, then it
is not agape. The love is the bond of perfectionliterally, of the end or
finish of our course together.
Love is the bond of perfection
because it combines in one word all of the elements of balanced character: it is
sacrificialwilling to go to any length to serve others, even to the point of death.
With Biblical love, there is no "practical limit," no "drawing the
line." Christ, having loved his own, loved us unto the endnot just until death,
but unto the endto the full limit. And we are called to do the same.
While Biblical love is not based on
emotion, neither is it devoid of emotion. It cares; it has gut-level feelings of
compassion, interest, the ability to be righteously angry on behalf of others. We see it
in Jesus, who was righteously indignant at the affront to God, and the injustice to poor
pilgrims, represented by the unjust money-changers; yet he demonstrated no righteous
indignation whatever in respect to his own perfect rights. Still quivering from the impact
of the nails in his wrists and feet, he nevertheless felt moved with compassion by the
pitiable condition of his enemies. They were so proud and yet so weak. So full of
themselves, and yet so vulnerable. And so Jesus prayed for them as he taught us to do:
"Father, forgive them."
But though Biblical love is
emotional or compassionate, it does not ignore the faults of others. Biblical love towers
above human-minded love in that it disciplines. It will pay the price it takes to admonish
another. The discipline of Biblical love may lead us to withhold privileges or even debar
a serious sinner from fellowship to teach an appropriate lesson. It will argue for truth;
it will communicate whats happening in our lives honestly; it will set limits in our
families or our work or our relationships with each other. It does not sweep offences
under the rug, but confronts them honestly, and uses them as learning experiences for
ourselves and other.
And finally, love, as the Word of
God defines it, is forgiving. When all is said and done, there will still be offences that
the rightful party has not borne, that we will have to bear ourselves. There will be
punishment that is deserved by someone else, that we will need to take if we want to push
forward in positive relationships with our brethren. There can be no legalistic limits to
Biblical love. How many times shall we forgive? 70 times 7!
Yes, the love is the bond of the
end. And we believe that expression has special force now. In a world degenerating into
anarchy, the Body of Christ should be, and we believe will, grow in its ability to love
and be bound together.
Our vision of our relationships as
brethren in the final years of this age should not be clouded with pessimism, and a
preoccupation with "standing alone." We see the Word of God as teaching us here
and in many other passages that we will become victorious as a body. It is unthinkable
that the Body of Christ will pass into death in isolation from one another. Mutual love
and forgiveness and joy are promised to us, and we believe the next several years will be
a time for all of us to grow in our ability to enjoy these scriptural privileges.
With that thought in mind, we close
with the prayer of the Apostle Peter: "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for
such things (as the new heavens and new earth), be diligent that ye may be found of Him in
peace." 2 Peter 3:14
Anecdotes Along the Way
Throughout the history of the Bible
Student movement incidents have occurred indicating the supervising power of the Lord. The
following four are only examples of many others.
During World War
I a young British Bible student was conscripted into the armed service. Stationed on the
front lines, he was ordered to charge up a hill toward the enemy. As he reached the crest,
he saw a German soldier coming at him. Rather than kill a fellow human, the British
soldier stuck his bayonet in the ground and braced himself for certain death. When nothing
happened, he looked up and saw the German soldier in the same position. Looking closer he
saw a "cross and crown" emblem on the enemy soldier's lapel. They ran to each
other and embraced. With arms around the other and tears in their eyes, the British
soldier brought back his German brother as a prisoner of war.
Harry Nugent, a Bible student from New
York is a motorman conductor on the subway system. One night late, as he was checking both
ways before closing the subway doors, he was hit on the side of the face with a rotten
Thoroughly humiliated, he was
commiserating his lot in life when, at the next stop, a small older lady approached him
with a religious tract. All that was on the tract was a poem, "The Sweet Brier
Rose," which reads in part: "A still more wondrous fragrance flows, the more my
fingers firmly close, and crush the rose." Encouraged with the thought that his
crushing experiences were only to help him yield a sweeter perfume, he took heart and
Thousand Brethren Discovered
For some 50 years Communism ruled
Eastern Europe. In few countries was this regime more restrictive than in Romania under
the leadership of Nikolai Ceaucescu. Bible students from other Eastern European countries
occasionally vacationed in Romania unaware whether brethren were there or not. Shortly
after Ceaucescu's death a letter came to the West informing us that there were indeed
Bible students surviving in that land. In fact they flourished in isolation to such a
degree that their number of over two thousand places them as the third largest Bible
student community, only exceeded by the United States and Poland.
Shortly after hearing a Bible student discourse in 1919, young
Eric Will was taken with his brother and mother by his atheistic father to Brazil. After
the death of his consecrated mother and brother he sought to find fellowship, but could
not locate other Bible students. He was informed by local Jehovah's Witnesses that they
had all died. A Baptist minister, tolerant of Bro. Will's beliefs, encouraged him to
attend their church for fellowship. Shortly he was asked to lead the Sunday school and,
upon the pastor's retirement years later, to take over the pastorate. Restricted to
teaching biblical truths of an non controversial nature, he used some of his paintings
[for he was a noted artist] to illustrate the plan of God and the teaching of the
resurrection of the dead in distinction to a God of hate and eternal torment. After some
50 years in this church, a new minister was assigned who stopped the teachings of Bro.
Will. That same year he re gained contact with his Bible student brethren and
discovered that they had just completed a Portuguese translation of The Divine Plan of the Ages. Ordering a large
supply he distributed one to each member of his former church. Within a month after
distributing the last of these books, he died. His work was finished.
News & Views
The world around has been shaken by
many turmoils -- in the Middle East, in Bosnia, in Rwanda -- and men's hearts are failing
them for fear "with perplexity." In contrast, the directors report a year of
peace and harmony amongst themselves and amongst the brotherhood of our fellowship.
The work of the Institute has gone
along peacefully and smoothly, thanks to the help and cooperation of numerous brethren in
each phase of our endeavors.
We have felt the loss of one of our
long-time directors who felt compelled to decline nomination because of failing health.
James B. Webster will long be remembered by those of us associated with the PBI as a
stalwart in the faith and an able voice of counsel and guidance as a director.
Those who have served as directors
during this past year are: James M. Caudle, Chester A. Czohara, Francis L. Earl, Alex
Gonczewski, Carl Hagensick, Loyal Petran and Timothy Thomassen.
The Editorial staff of THE HERALD magazine have also lope. The God's Kingdom booklet will have a full-color worked
together smoothly. Serving as editors were Eugene cover and an attached postcard for
Francis L. Earl, Leonard Griehs, Carl Hagensick and Dan Wesol. In addition we are now
offering free copies of two booklets produced by our brethren in the British Isles.
In addition to our annual meeting, the
directors and editors These titles are: The Divine
Plan In Brief and Future held an additional
session in Chicago on Dec. 30, 1993.
HERALD: The bi-monthly issues of the journal have continued. Although the number of
subscribers is somewhat lower than in the past, we remain encouraged by the positive
responses of those who do receive it, many indicating that several read the issues which
they receive. A reader response card was included in one of the issues, and we received
over 60 responses. While mostly positive, certain suggestions were made and we will
consider these. There were also suggestions for future topics for articles and themes.
A great majority of the responses like
the thematic approach to the magazine, though some indicated they would like to see some
issues that did not carry a theme. We will seek to use some variety in this regard.
Upcoming theme issues are planned on Parables and on Prayer.
We would like to share a few of the
encouraging comments: "I can remember when I began reading THE HERALD. It was always in our home, so I am
sentimentally attached to it." I enjoy THE
HERALD, very much. I save them all in hope to give further study." "Probably
my favorite of several publications because THE
HERALD does not seem to waste time on controversial matters, but endeavors to edify
the spiritually minded in Christ." "Save all of my HERALDS from way back. Rely on them for most of my
special studies, plus the ones up to date."
WITNESSING: A small amount of advertising in almanacs have
produced some interest in our booklets. We have also experienced a sharp increase in
requests for our literature from the handy post card coupon on the back of each issue of THE HERALD magazine. Over 2300 booklets have been
mailed in response to these requests. The most requested titles were The Divine Plan In Brief and Immortality and the Resurrection of the Dead.
Our supply on some of the booklets is
becoming depleted, so. we are reprinting four of our titles: Why Does God Permit Evil?; What Say the Scriptures
About Hell?; Israel and the Middle East; and Great
World Changes Long Foretold. In addition we are producing a new booklet, God's Kingdom, that shows the relationship between
the ransom and restitution. This booklet will offer a video tape version for those with
VCR players. All of the booklets are being produced in a new format with two-color covers,
and are convenient for mailing in a regular envelope. The God's Kingdom booklet
will have a full color cover and an attached postcard for return responses.
In addition we are now offering free
copies of two booklets produced by our brethren in the British Isles. These titles are:
The Divine Plan -- In Brief and Future Probation
in Christian Belief.
We remain appreciative of the support
and encouragement received from the membership of the Pastoral Bible Institute and from
the readership of THE HERALD, as well as of the
many brothers and sisters who have assisted in the work of the Institute during the past
We will need your prayers for our
joint-participation in the work of the Lord, and want to assure each of you of an interest
in our prayers as well.
ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
The annual membership meeting of the
Pastoral Bible Institute was held on June 4, 1994 at 10:00 a.m. (EST) at the Holiday Inn
in Gulfport, Mississippi. Presiding at the meeting was Tim Thomassen, Chairman.
The meeting was opened with prayer,
requesting the Lord's guidance and blessing in conducting the affairs of the Institute.
The chairman gave a brief report on the history and purpose of the PBI and THE HERALD journal. The purpose of the annual
meeting was to elect seven directors for the year beginning June 1, and to conduct other
business of the Institute. All members were encouraged to vote in the election, and others
with an interest in the affairs of the PBI were encouraged to attend.
The minutes of the 1993 membership
meeting had been previously approved by mail so an abbreviated version had been published
in THE HERALD. It was moved that the minutes of
the 1994 meeting be published in the News and
Views section of THE HERALD.
Herald subscriptions were discussed at
length. Currently there are 848 subscribers, which is down substantially. This decline is
mainly due to the expiration of free subscriptions. About one-third of current
subscriptions come from outside the U.S.A.. THE
HERALD goes to many isolated brethren, and many feel it is their chief source of
spiritual help according to the recent survey.
The Treasury report was discussed and
approved. (This is contained in a separate section above.) It was noted that the printing
and mailing of THE HERALD accounted for almost
one-third of the operating costs of the Institute. While operating expenses have
decreased, there was a concern expressed that the sources of revenue have declined, and
eventually the Institute will face financial hardship unless a means of increasing revenue
can be found.
A report on membership changes was
given. At the beginning of the year there were 170 members of the Pastoral Bible
Institute. Three new members were added, while six died. There were no resignations. The
membership at the beginning of the new fiscal year totaled 167. At the meeting, it was
learned that one other member had died during the year, so the corrected number of members
The Chairman appointed tellers for the
election of directors. All members present had mailed in their Proxies, so the tellers
were requested to verify the ballots and report back to the membership meeting. The
tellers reported that six candidates had received a plurality and were elected. Two
candidates were tied for the seventh director position. The Chairman noted that the
by-laws had no provision for a run-off and so the board discussed the proper procedure.
After much discussion a motion was made
and approved that the Nominating Committee should be directed to send out additional
ballots to the 68 members who voted, listing the two candidates tied and to request they
vote their preference for one.
The six directors receiving a plurality
of votes were (in alphabetical order):
The two nominees receiving the same
number of votes were Chester Czohara and Leonard Griehs. (In the subsequent directors'
meeting, Chester Czohara withdrew his name and thus a run-off election was deemed not
necessary. The seventh director position then went to Leonard Griehs.)
A motion was entertained and passed to
hold the ballots for six months and then to destroy them.
The meeting was adjourned with prayer
at approximately 12:20. At the board meeting which followed the following actions were
Officers for 1995 were elected by the
board and are as follows.
Chairman - Tim Thomassen
Vice Chairman - Francis Earl
Secretary - James Caudle
Treasurer - Loyal Petran
The Editorial Committee was appointed
by the board of directors and members are as follows
Carl Hagensick (managing editor)
With the new format of the Herald, some
readers have had difficulty knowing when to renew their subscription. You should look at
the label on the front cover of your Herald, which lists the expiration date of your
.subscription. When it is time to renew, you should cut the label off the front cover and
send it in along with your renewal. If you do this when it is due, it will save us money
in following up on expired. subscriptions, and assure you that you do not miss a copy of
NEEDED: ACTIVITY NEWS
The most difficult part of writing this
section is getting news on activities of brethren around the world. Please make sure you
include us in your notices of witness activity, special conventions or trips. News about
your church activities is always welcome, and we will use it if appropriate. Please send
your news to the News and Views editor listed at the beginning of this section.
I had in mind to write you sooner, but
I was unable to do so for a number of reasons. Since Bro. William Siekman's departure from
the earthly scene, things in connection with the Institute's internal situation are not
going so well. That's the view held by several brethren.
In spite of the bad odds, I continue
reading the Herald regularly, because its contents are both spiritually uplifting and in
harmony with present truth. The format of the magazine has changed in recent years-4o the
better or worse, I don't really know. It seems you are in the process of making more
improvements, as should be.
I would like to make a suggestion. In
the future all scriptural passages either in the contexts or in separate paragraphs have
to be in quotation marks always. Please avoid making grammar innovations of your own.
If you have your own articles and
reports to publish, that's fine. If not, use articles from the magazine's arsenal or from
Bro. Russell's writings, but in either case, publish the articles or whatever else in
their entirety, without abbreviating them. Otherwise we loose (sic) the flavor of
spiritual blessings. Don't ask your readers for advice in everything. You are the
publishers, and it's your responsibility to find ways and means to solve these problems.
After finishing reading the latest
issue of the Herald, I concluded that it was a bad idea to have published in the magazine
a letter from (Greece) seeking . . . to organize a worldwide conference of Bible students
there. The truth is that none of (this) group are Bible students. They call themselves
evangelists . . .
The ideas and beliefs of the above
group are similar to those held by Adventists. They fight furiously against Bro. Russell's
teachings . . .they believe that justification and ransoming come upon every one at the
moment of biological death . . . they don't believe in the restoration of Israel. They
also believe that the end of the world will come with the destruction of this planet by
literal fire. . .
Last year I went to Greece for two
months. There are twenty or so brethren scattered all over that country, followers of
Present Truth, who managed to keep their garments white and clean, if you know what (that)
is all about. They have the Volumes and other truth literature in their own language. From
time to time, I also prepare similar literature and articles based on current events, for
their encouragement. Most of them are advanced m years as I am myself, so there is no
surprise to anybody if we are a bit slow when we come to action. Holding the truth is very
difficult in these days. I should apologize to you in advance for any offensive words that
May be found in this letter.
-George Loumbardas, East
York, Ontario, Canada
Editor's note: It is the policy of the Institute to
publish all correspondence if possible. It has never been the policy of the Institute to
feel that we have to agree with our correspondents.
AROUND THE WORLD
Another U.S, Episcopal church has
turned Catholic under the "Anglican Use" provision approved by the Vatican in
1980. It allows them to continue to use parts of the Episcopal prayer book. It is the
sixth Episcopal church in the U.S. to do so.
-Washington Post, 6/14/94
With the Islamic fundamentalist
movement in Algeria growing stronger every day, there is reason to be concemed that this
North African country may become the first Arab state to fall to Islam since the Sudan in
1989. If Islamic radicals seize power in Algeria, the impact will extend to neighboring
countries such as Morocco and Tunisia.
-Washington Post, 4/21/94
The agreement on diplomatic relations
between Israel and the Vatican may open the door to a more active Vatican role in the
Middle East peace process. Over the next two years, the Vatican and Israel will discuss
the status of the Roman Catholic church in Israel. The Vatican had never disputed Israel's
right to exist, but had withheld formal recognition, citing the Jewish state's disputed
borders, the unsettled status of Jerusalem and concerns about protection of Catholic
institutions under Israeli law. It had also called on Israel to recognize the legitimate
rights of the Palestinians.
Foreign Service, 6/15/94
Hamas is now the main rival of
the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose members make up the new government in the
West Bank and Gaza. It approves of terror: Hamas has kidnaped Israeli soldiers, attacked
Jewish settlers, and detonated bombs on crowded Israeli buses. But it is Hamas's network
of social education and welfare groups that makes up the power base that has captured over
40 percent of the votes in elections in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Hamas's
sprawling empire of schools, clubs and religious institutions serves as an effective
vehicle for disseminating the group's ideology to large numbers of people, generating
political opposition to the peace accord, and spotting and recruiting members of the
military wing which will continue to attack Israeli targets in areas not yet under
-Wall Street Journal
Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum, the leader of
the Satmar Hasidic movement caused a stir in his recent visit to Israel. He is the world's
leading Jewish anti-Zionist, the head of a sect that has bitterly criticized the drive to
create and build a Jewish homeland in Israel. He believes that the holocaust was the
result of an angry God's punishment for the Zionists' efforts to establish a Jewish state
before the coming of Messiah.
-Washington Post 6/8/94
Editor's note: In Ezekiel 37, the regathering of
Israel is identified as a key event leading up to the end time. Since the late 1800's,
Bible Students have tracked the migration of Jews to Israel. Because it has occurred over
a long period of time, the following chronicle of immigration to Israel is offered as a
help to those who follow this prophetic fulfillment.
Immigration Prior to Israel's Statehood
The first modern day return came in the
1880s as a result of the pogroms in Russia and Hungary. In the early 20th century more
Jewish people returned to Israel and urban life began in Jaffa. By 1931, European Jews
migrated as the threats appeared. In 1933, a Jewish community of more than 200,000 was in
Palestine. Only a few thousand escaped from Nazi Germany, and after the war, only 750 Jews
a month were permitted to enter Palestine.
Immigration Following Statehood
There have been six major waves of
immigration to Israel. Five are complete and the sixth is still occurring, at a very rapid
1. May 1948 to 1951: 755,000 from
around the world
2. 1955 to 1957: 162,000 from Morocco,
Tunisia, Poland and Romania
3. 1961 to ,1964: 215,000 from North
Africa and East ern Europe
4. 1967 (following six-day war):
262,000 from North and South America, Europe and the Soviet Union
5. 1977 to 1992: 41,800 from Ethiopia
Russian Jewish immigration is the sixth
major wave. Nobody really knows how many Jews live in the Soviet Union; estimates range
from 1.5 to 4 million. The numbers in immigration for the last five years are as follows:
(Source for immigration numbers: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry)