Etikettarkiv | parable

The parable of the TWO SONS – who said one thing and did the opposite – Matt. 21:28-32

repent2”He repented and WENT” (Matt. 21:29)

We are supposed to ”walk the talk” instead of just paying lip-service to God’s request of being obedient. The first idiom means ”performing actions consistent with one’s claims” and the second one means ”giving approval or support insincerely”. There are numerous parables in the Bible and while they might each convey different principles, most of them also show that we are justified by works and not only by faith (Ja. 2:24). This is normally the opposite story of what you might hear in church due to the teachings of men like John Calvin and Martin Luther.

1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. (NKJV)

Matt. 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Here is the parable (KJV) about the two sons who said one thing and did the opposite:

Matt. 21:28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.29 He answered and said, I WILL NOT: but afterward he REPENTED, and WENT.30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I GO, SIR: and WENT NOT.31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, REPENTED NOT afterward, that ye might believe him.

These sons can represent anyone of us, but they might also represent two distinct  groups. The first son might represent those pharisees/Jews who claim to obey God but do not, and the other son might represent the publicans/harlots (or gentiles) who choose to obey God after having repented of their deep sins. During the time of Jesus, there were Jewish leaders who claimed to be obedient to God but did not show it with their life style. They might automatically have thought that they were the never-ceasing obedient ones since they viewed themselves as the chosen ones, the first-born, the sons of Abraham, the group of privilege, etc.

The Jewish leaders likely identified themselves with the first son who obeyed God, but Jesus disagreed (Matt. 21:32). They forgot that the this son repented of his thoughts and turned around (unlike themselves). Also, when Jesus says publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you”, he does not promise that sinners can enter heaven without the need to change their lives. The reason why they were stronger candidates for God’s kingdom than the pharisees, is because they were more likely to confess their sins and repent – which the pharisees felt they had no need for.

This parable might make us think about the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee in Luke 18. Many misunderstand this parable and believe that the main teaching is that you should at all costs avoid thinking that righteousness has anything to do with salvation (it does), but rather that you should trust the idea that the sinners can be labelled righteous despite their sins, and righteous people can be labelled awful sinners just because of their conviction that they are righteous. This is not what the parable is saying. Just like in the parable of the two sons, repentance is still required for forgiveness and salvation. The point in the parable of Luke 18 is rather that the pharisees/Jews should not trust in their salvation just because they are born as Jews as though this would automatically make them righteous and accepted. They should rather confess their sins, repent and walk in the steps of that faith of Abraham (Rom. 4:12). The Pharisee in the parable did not even feel that he even needed to be saved from sin due to being convinced of that he lacked it. The publican on the other hand confessed his sins from a humble heart (he wanted to be freed from sin), and since repentance is a requirement for salvation, this confession must be viewed as part of this repentance. Righteousness (your own and not someone else’s) is not the same as self-righteousness.

This is what the publican did:

1 John 3:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 3:If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

John 8:11 (Jesus)— go, and sin no more 

In the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, it is the oldest son who is usually regarded as the one representing the Pharisees/Jews (but the parable applies to anyone where the shoe fits). The great principle in that parable is that the Father always stands ready with open arms to welcome back his disobedient son, but he does not go out and force him back. It is the son who finally admits his sins, repents and chooses to return back to his Father. The son went from life, to death, to life again. Too many people are eager to get the forgiveness part of the story, without the ceasing from sin part.

Peter understood the mission of Jesus:

Acts 10:35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt. 25) tells the same story. Some virgins took action by bringing extra oil to their lamps, and this enabled them to join the bride groom in the wedding – not the others. The parable of the talents shows that obedient servants will enter into the joy of the Lord: ”Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” The parable of the sheep and the goats also shows the same principle. The sheep were called the righteous ones, and the reason for this is because they provided food, drink, shelter, clothes and visits (good deeds) to their fellow-man, and they therefore also inherited the kingdom of God – not the others.  

The other parable in Matt. 21:33 (apart from the one about the two sons), concerns at least two main teachings. One concerns the importance of accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the son of God and the corner-stone. The other concerns the importance of being a good servant and render him (God) the fruits in their seasons”.

Matt. 21:33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you,and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

dove 2Matt. 21 also contains this marvellos promise:

Matt. 21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Something else to think about if someone claims that it is a sin to be too righteous (because of the weird idea that it would make you a self-righteous Pharisee who clings to works-based salvation):

2 Tim. 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. —3 — false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Is. 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Forgive someone seventy times seven times according to the Bible?

hug 2Thinking the best about people, not the worst

It might not always be easy to forgive someone, but it will become much easier if we keep in mind that Jesus is always ready to forgive us our sins – if we are remorseful about our trespasses. We gain much by taking the role of a defense attorney when it comes to other people’s actions. This does not mean that we should always excuse and justify all sorts of wicked behavior that we see in others, but rather that we should try to find extenuating circumstances rather than aggravated circumstances.  

Real defense attorneys are not expected to deny their clients’ crimes and actions despite obvious evidence of their guilt, but apart from what is already proven it is sometimes possible to find circumstances in the case which could reduce the sentence or acquit the client altogether. There is a difference between acting knowingly compared to acting recklessly (or out of ignorance), and there are some perpetrators who act without a culpable mental state.

We should always be ready to forgive others since our Lord is willing to forgive us – under certain conditions. God does not accept an apology unless we truly mean it and show our repentance with our actions. We should do what we can to repair the damage that we have done, and if we are at fault for having mistreated someone it is not enough to just ask God for forgiveness in silence without also contacting the person we have hurt and make some efforts to rectify our trespasses.

Col. 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

If someone is currently mistreating you and beats you with his/her fists, it is naturally not possible to be persuaded that this person is remorseful about his/her ongoing actions and deserves to be forgiven. Nevertheless, we can live with the hope that this person on a later occasion might regret his poor attitude and would have asked you for forgiveness if he/she had the chance to do so. For this reason we must always be ready to forgive. Christ forgives us our sins if we repent, and we should forgive others in a similar manner, using Christ as our role model. The Bible says ”IF he repent, forgive him” (Luke. 17:3). Notice the word ”if”.

Maybe we have had encounters with individuals in our past – either as children or as adults – who have mistreated us and sinned against us. Our attitude should not be that we are not required to forgive them because we have not met them for many years and  have no knowledge if they are remorseful. No, we must live with the assumption that they have indeed repented and would have asked us for forgiveness should they meet us. Is this not how we would like to be treated ourselves? We might have done things in the past that we deeply regret, and we live with the hope that those we have sinned against will not use it against us.

We gain a lot by not trying to think the worst about people, but rather always seek to find extenuating circumstances so that we can think the best about people – without living in denial. We might end up having a conflict with people who have offended us, but there are lots of things we do not know about their background and circumstances. Maybe they have misunderstood something? Maybe I have misunderstood something? Maybe I am not aware of the whole story leading up to the conflict? Maybe they have had previous bad experiences in life? Maybe they did not mean to offend you but said things as a joke? Maybe their upbringing was not normal? Maybe they did not intend to cause such drama? Sometimes we might get more light on the matter if we talk about it, and at other times we do not get such chances but have to make assumptions about what really transpired. God is the one who will make the final judgment. Maybe there are no valid excuses for being a jerk, and God can judge our hearts.

If we have not always behaved as the ideal friend/colleague/family member, then we are probably thankful for those who are willing to forgive us our wrong doings and who are willing to draw the best conclusions available about us.

Erasing memories not required

To forgive someone does not mean we must forget all his/her sins against us. The case might be that people have sinned against us for many years, and it is not possible to just erase those years from your memory – particularly not if those sins made a huge negative impact in your life.

The Bible says that your salvation is dependent on your willingness to forgive others who ask you for forgiveness. If you do not forgive people for their trespasses, neither will God forgive your trespasses.

Matt 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven

John 20:23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

I do not believe we are required to forgive people who are in the midst of their sins, and who are fully aware of that they are sinning against us, without showing a shed of remorse. If someone is breaking into your house and is busy stealing your money, he/she clearly does not mean an apology if he/she keeps on doing it.

Jesus and Stephen forgave people who sinned against them and who did not ask for forgiveness, but in those cases (see below) they motivated their forgiveness with the other people’s ignorance – that they really did not think they were doing something wrong. We must be ready to forgive also during such circumstances. To forgive someone does not mean that we must at once cease to be cautious about this person and assume that he/she will never risk to fall back in to old habits.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; FOR they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Also Paul expressed thankfulness that Jesus showed mercy on him despite his actions since he (Paul) did not know better. Paul was convinced he was doing the right thing when he persecuted Christians because he desired to live as a righteous Jew according to the Jewish laws (as he interpreted them). Paul did not show any remorse as long as he lived in ignorance, but once he realized his sins against Jesus and his fellow-man, he repented and changed his mind.

1 Tim. 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, BECAUSE I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

When  Jesus says that he remembers our sins no more (Hebr. 8-10), it means that he will no longer use them against us. It does not literally mean that God will select certain parts of his all-powerful knowledge about us and cease to remember them. (We also know this based on the parable in Matt. 18 below.) The promise to no longer remember our sins when we repent, concerns our past sins and cannot be used as a free card for any future sins.

”Forgive me”, means people must forgive?

There might be people who believe that it is the combining of the two words ”Forgive” and ”me” which requires the other person to forgive, just like a magical ”abracadabra” that open doors. The words mean nothing if they just constitute a lip service and when the heart says something different. IF we repent, God will forgive. It is the repentance which is the key, and it can be expressed with the mouth.

Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and IF he repent, forgive him. 

Eph. 4:32 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

+ Col. 3:13

Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Acts 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.— 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Mark 4:12 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.

Jeremiah 36:3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.

Jesus taught us the importance of forgiving. ALL sins can be forgiven if a person is truly remorseful and decides to leave all the sins behind:

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

Paul criticized the Corinthians for being too lenient when it comes to sins, as per i 1 Cor. 5, but when the sinner has been confronted and shown true remorse (an important condition), the congregation must be ready to forgive him and comfort him so that he will not give up in his grief.

2 Cor. 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Forgiving seventy times seven times

Below is the parable about forgiving seventy times seven times in Matt. 18. This means that there is no specific maximum number when it comes to forgiveness, but we should always be willing to forgive a person who shows true repentance. If someone combines righteous living with sins against you, he/she has clearly no repentant heart.

Something to note about this parable is that the servant who managed to get his debt erased (a symbol for getting his sins forgiven) unfortunately got back the same debt  when he in his turn refused to forgive another. This shows that ”once saved always saved” (or unconditional security) is not a Biblical concept, since a forgiven and cleansed person can become filthy once again and be spiritually separated from God. Note also that the servant started out asking the king for mercy (forgiveness) resulting in the cancelled debt, and it was not the king who initiated the idea.

The servant in the parable did not show true remorse, or perhaps we should say that he was truly sad about his debt and thankful for its removal, but he proved to not be ready to stay away from future debts/sins, despite that further debt would throw him right back into trouble. God can see in our hearts if we truly regret our sins and would like to leave all our sins behind. We must treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves. We must be ready to forgive others the way Jesus forgives us our sins. We should always have a forgiving attitude.

Matt 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

We need to have forgiving hearts, but God is the one with authority to forgive people their sins.

He that COMETH to God must BELIEVE that he is – Hebr. 11:16

regeneration 3But without FAITH it is impossible to please him: for he that COMETH to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

It is rather clear that God requires us to have faith in him and believe in him before we come to him (we would not come to him unless we believed in him). We must carry faith/belief with us when we come. Calvinists, however, believe in Total inability (as in T in TULIP), so they believe that all people are born with a natural inability to believe in God, and that God consequently must ”open their eyes” in order to make them believe. This results in God actually choosing whom to save and whom to damn (before we are even born), because God does not enable all to believe in him. Hebr. 11:6 does not suggest that God starts out making some of us believe. It is rather we who must make sure to believe and come to him. If we do, we have wonderful things in store for us! The Bible does not teach anything close to Calvinism. We are ALL given light when we come into this world and we are requested to believe and to follow him in order to not walk in darkness:

John. 1:4 In him was life; and the life was THE LIGHT OF MEN.—9 That was the true Light, WHICH LIGHTETH EVERY MAN THAT COMETH INTO THE WORLD.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM GAVE HE THE POWER TO BECOME THE SONS OF GODeven to them that BELIEVE on his name

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON ME should not abide in darkness.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light OF THE WORLD: he that FOLLOWETH ME shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 3:21 But he that DOETH truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

2 Cor. 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them WHICH BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Notice above that God chooses to blind the minds of them WHICH BELIEVE NOT. That is a similar story as in Rom. 1:18-32, where God in v. 28 is told to give people up to a reprobate mind because of their refusal to retain God in their knowledge.

Pay special attention to John 1:12 which says:

”But AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM GAVE HE THE POWER TO BECOME THE SONS OF GODeven to them that BELIEVE on his name”

The order of events is 1) believe/receive him, leading to 2) becoming the sons of God. Not the other way around.

People who COME must believe, and they might not always DO the things of God or remain with him

Jesus asks:

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and DO NOT the things which I say?

According to Calvinism I thought it was not even possible to NOT do the things which the Lord says? So why does Jesus imply that it is possible to act contrary to his requests? He continues:

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and DOETH them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.49 But he that heareth, and DOETH NOT, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

I thought all people everywhere always did the sayings of the Lord? Yet here we can see that some people COME to the Lord, HEAR his sayings and yet choose to NOT do the sayings of the Lord. It certainly does not seem like we always act as God would want us to act. The blame for ”not doing” is further on man and not on God. Notice that the parable is about men who builds something – their own houses – which means that their own choice of building construction will depend on

Ja. 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.–40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and BELIEVETH ON HIM, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.—51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if ANY MAN EAT of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Parable of the great banquet – where people are requested to COME and yet they do notvälja liv2

 Below we can see that the Master of the house asked his servant to go out and bid many to a great supper. The servant was asked to say to those who were bidden to ”COME, for all things are now ready”. The Master in this parable could be likened to God the Father, and as we can see in the parable people who were initially invited to come found excuses for not coming!

The servant was then asked to ”bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind”, which is something the servant had already done. It seems like these groups of people (rather unfortunate people here on earth due to their poverty and physical shortcomings) had an advantage here because they were singled out as specifically welcomed, but we are not told that every single one of them chose to come. Just that there was still room left also after these groups had been invited. (The case could also be that people who are poor and maimed have a higher tendency to seek God compared to people who have always lived in comfort and luxury.)

The Master became ANGRY when those who were initially bidden declined to come. The blame for not coming must be placed on them and not on the Master (God) because the Master truly wanted all invited to come – yet they did not. The Master said of those who declined to come: ”none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper”.

Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

After having told the parable, Jesus continues to explain that if we do come to him we must ”hate” our father and mother, which means that we should not act like the unwise people in the parable who offered up various excuses for not coming to the Supper, such as marriage, when they were compelled to come. Nothing should prevent us from coming to God if he calls us! Not even if it is about our father and mother. Naturally marriages,   parents, newly bought land, etc are important matters, but compared to God and his calling we must still prioritize correctly and place all other things in second place. A condition for being a disciple is to bear our cross and follow Jesus. He does not say that he will do this for us and instead of us so that we will not have to.

He goes on to explain that it is our job to count the cost before we choose to come! Do we have sufficient motivation to be his disciples? Will we be able to love God before anything/anyone else and carry our cross? If not, coming to Jesus will not save us if we are not prepared to forsake other things which might be in the way when we become his disciples. We must be eager to follow him and obey his commandments, which will truly show that we love him. It might seem like a difficult task, but we are not asked to cease living in this world or to avoid having families and possessions. We are just asked to be prepared to place God before anything else – and if we love him we obey him. The holy Spirit is our helper! Salt is good but even salt can lose its’ savor, which indicates that we are not unconditionally saved:

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Parable of the wedding banquet – where people on the wedding invitation refuse to come

 There is one verse in the below parable which Calvinists often quote, and that is ”For many are called, but few are chosen”. This verse read in a vacuum might sound like God is the one choosing whom to save, but not only does the verse not say this, but the context shows that those who are called ”chosen” are those who accept to come to the King’s wedding feast for his son! This means that we can all end up in the great wedding feast if we choose to accept the invitation and also make sure to show up – dressed in proper clothes. It is our responsibility to go to the party that we have been invited to, and if we decline and/or do not show up it is our fault and certainly not God’s fault for not ”choosing” us. We can all be among the chosen, and God should not be blamed if we find ourselves on the outside.

Let us also remember that Israel was ”chosen”, but not all Israel will be saved. When we read about groups of people or individuals being ”chosen”, it does not necessarily mean ”chosen to believe”. In fact, there is not one such case in the Bible. This parable clearly shows that many people who had their names on the guest list for the wedding feast chose not to come, even though the King expected them to come and was angry when they gave excuses for not coming! God would want all people to be saved, but man has a free will and is responsible for his own decisions and actions. Good and bad people are invited to come, which means that also unrighteous people have a chance to enter the kingdom of God. The condition, however, is repentance in order to be forgiven and cleansed, and if we repent we will also get the proper wedding garments. 

Matt. 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and THEY WOULD NOT COME.4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, 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:6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.10 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.11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.13 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.14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Why did God create us, despite knowing we would mess up?

A parable about a party invitation for ALL

Some christians feel it’s strange that God would let his son die for people He knows ahead of time will never believe in him, and that’s why they prefer to believe that Jesus only died for SOME people who will DEFINITELY be saved because they are specifically PRE-CHOSEN to be the lucky ELECT. But I don’t find dying for ALL people despite knowing the risks/results involved is a paradox at all. What about those who DO choose to believe in him? They will be heirs to the kingdom, and the thing is that ALL are given this opportunity so no one is left out or is unfairly treated. God is totally fair and merciful to all!

Most young couples are aware of the risk that some of their future children might not turn out as obedient and morally upright human beings,  but they are willing to take this risk since children (and not robots) are a great blessing and a good company. Even if a married couple would be told that two of their ten not yet born children will end up as unbelievers, they will likely decide to have their children anyway. At least THEY (the parents) don’t force their children to become unbelievers. They might bring them up in a wonderful christian home and teach them all things about Christ and the Bible and how to be good moral people. If they still one day reject this teaching and become wicked individuals, then THEY (the children) are to be blamed and not the parents.

(We also have ”Open theism” as a possible factor, where God indeed knows ”all things” but only what is ”knowable”. Read more here. )

I’d like to compare God’s salvation offer to everyone with a party invitation even if it’s not a perfect analogy.

Let’s say I decide to have a party in my house. Of course I’m entitled to set up the rules and conditions myself, and I don’t need to ask anyone for advice or permission how to run things since I’m ”sovereign” over my own house  (sovereign is a word which is not in the KJV Bible but still…). I decide to invite EVERYONE in my entire neighborhood, and to use a RSVP (respondez s’il vous plait) on my invitation cards. I also PROMOTE my party and tell everyone that they would miss out big time if they will not come. My party is totally free of any costs, but I still have conditions. The following conditions/restrictions apply:

  • Had I not decided to have this party, there would not be a party. I personally initiated a ”drawing” or ”calling”.
  • All are invited but ONLY those who REPLY as per the RSVP may actually come
  • And out of those who reply affirmatively as per the RVSP, only those who SHOW UP at my party will be let in!
  • And those who have replied affirmatively and showed up must also be acceptably DRESSED to be let in.

(Maybe I could add that they must also BEHAVE during the entire duration of the party so they won’t disturb and ruin the party for the others, but when we will end up at the big wedding party in heaven all troublemakers will already be sorted out. It’s a good thing that ”sinners” are not welcomed to the big wedding party or else it would not be a pleasant time for the others.)

Even though I have all those conditions, the party is still totally FREE OF CHARGE. The guests could not do anything themselves to be invited to my party. Nothing we believe or do can ever merit salvation. We don’t deserve to be saved, but our Lord has enabled salvation to all of us in our totally lost state.

I could of course have arranged things differently…

I could make personal  invitations to CERTAIN people in my neighborhood and FORCE them to come to my party which I make MANDATORY for those I invite. I could also REFUSE to allow anyone else to come to my party EVEN THOUGH I have PLENTY OF ROOM, food, beverages, entertainment, etc for EVERYONE in the entire neighborhood.

The thing is though that I PREFER to invite ALL and to let THEM make up their mind if they want to come or not.  That means that whosoever wills can come and it would bring me much happiness to know that people have used their own minds when accepting my invitation. I would not feel good about having people around me who have no other choice but to be there whether they like to or not. God has created us in his image, and we are able to reason and make options depending on various circumstances.  God has also created LIMITATIONS to our free will. We simply can’t fly to March and back just because we have this desire and will. 

Is my party a total failure because all who were invited did not come? Can we say I was totally helpless and in the hands of the people I invited? Did someone make the rules instead of me? Did someone thwart my plans? Did I lose control? Did something happen unexpectedly which I didn’t think of? Did I not calculate the risks properly? Did I treat someone unfairly? Am I a wicked person because I did not force people to come? Should we feel sorry for those who did not come despite that they knew the truth about it? Am I illogical in my behavior? Did I at any time resort to Plan B?

Of course not! We would all have a great time at my party, and I would feel good about knowing that I made sure that ALL had a fair chance to come. I wouldn’t even want people at my party unless THEY had a sincere desire to come and to get to know me.Why is it out of the question that our sovereign Lord created us with the ability to accept/reject him and obey/disobey?

Compare also with the analogy of the wedding party in Matthew 22. Note that those who were bidden to come chose to NOT come, and those who did choose to come were called ”chosen”. Notice that no one is forced to do anything. Both good and bad were called but they were all required to wear WEDDING CLOTHES in order to be acceptable to the wedding party. We must repent from our sins and be holy and righteous and dressed in white undefiled garments. 

1. 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: and they would not come.Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, 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 up their city.Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.10 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.11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.13 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.14 For many are called, but few are chosen. 

The prodigal son went from being alive, to lost, to alive again – Luke 15

Some suggest that since the prodigal son never stopped being the son of his Father, this  means that his life was never in real danger. But is this true? There are parents who have indeed disinherited a child for various reasons. Maybe there are parents out there, hoping their son will return back to them and ask for forgiveness for having rejected them, but if not they might decide to disinherit him. Some also suggest that this parable is about jews/gentiles, but parables can have double meanings. We can learn a lot by this parable:

  • The prodigal son was spiritually DEAD during his absence, but he still made a good moral decision to return to his Father. No one forced the son to return, but he made this own decision.

  • The prodigal son REPENTED and this is what the parable is all about. He realized he had sinned and planned what he would say to his Father when he returned back home, which he also effectuated. His Father accepted his excuse and forgave him which he was always prepared to do. Even if our sins are red as crimson they can be white as snow. Just before the long parable about the prodigal son, we can see the two previous parables ending with:

     7I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

  • 10Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

  • The prodigal son went from being 1) alive, to 2) dead, to 3) alive again since we can read: ”for this thy brother was dead, and is alive AGAIN; and was lost, and is found”. His own Father declared his son lost and DEAD while he was away living in sin, so it didn’t help this son at all to still be the physical son of his Father when he was still lost and dead while away.

  • Naturally a person who lives in unrepentant sin, such as fornication and idolatry, can’t be on his way to heaven. The prodigal son obeyed sin, which means he was a slave to sin and thus a SINNER. We are slaves to whom we obey and nothing impure shall enter heaven. Sinning will always separate us from God and the only solution is repentance.

  • The Father didn’t travel around to look for his son or forced him to come back. He stayed at home, hoping he would return. The son was the one who took the initiative to return and not the Father, but when the son did return the Father rushed out to meet him. There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth!

  • The other brother didn’t lose anything financially by the return of his brother, because everything that his Father owned was already his. He could have taken the chance to be joyful about the return of his brother and that he came back to life.

  • Surely we must agree on that the prodigal son is a good example of a person who was sowing to his flesh while he was away living in sin with prostitutes? What does the Bible say about the spiritual state of such a sinner? :

 

 

Galatians 6:8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap CORRUPTION; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap LIFE EVERLASTING. 

Corruption is contrary to life everlasting so we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that we are still saved even though we live according to the flesh. The prodigal son sinned together with harlots, so if he had died while still being unrepentant he would never have made it to heaven. Unless you believe unrepentant sinners can enter the Kingdom of God.

The entire parable

24For this my son WAS DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN; he WAS LOST, and is FOUND. And they began to be merry. 

 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother WAS DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN; and WAS LOST, and IS FOUND.

Luke 15:10Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.11And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The difference between the Sheep and the Goats in the parable, is what they DID and DIDN’T DO

Jesus says in John 5:29 that at the resurrection those who have done good will get LIFE and those who have done evil will get damnation. James, Paul, John and Peter say the same thing.

John. 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

James. 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

1 Pet 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the SOUL;

What we DO makes the difference whether we will be able to enter God’s kingdom or not (even if we of course must believe that Jesus is God who has come in the flesh and that he has died as a sin offering and cleansed us from our sins with his blood). The Bible is filled with commands that we must DO things to be saved (not lose salt, go through the narrow gate, endure to the end, carry our cross daily, etc) and this might be surprising for us in Scandinavia, because we have been influenced by Martin Luther to a great deal. He was a person who didn’t take much delight in the book of James (according to his own words) where he could read things such as:

James. 2:20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our fathered by faith alone” even though the Bible says we’re not saved by faith alone. 

We tend to believe that if we must DO anything at all to be saved, then it is ”works salvation” and the biggest theological error under the sun (and a sin). Naturally we can’t save ourselves, because we are all in need of cleansing in the blood of Jesus, and we can’t earn our salvation by anything we do or believe, but there are still conditions for our salvation and that is to believe, repent and obey God. This is something that we must DO. Matthew 25 contains three parables that all have the point that what we DO affect our final destination – heaven or hell. This might be referred to as heresy in the Church today, but the Bible disagrees. Read the parable between the sheep and the goats. Both the sheep and the goats believed in the one they communicated with – Jesus – and also demons accept that Jesus is the son of God and even confess this out loud! This won’t save them, which is James’ point. (Not that demons are angels and can’t be saved, because the subject in James 2 is ”Deeds”.) Faith without deeds is dead. 

The final judgment 

Matthew 25:31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, andye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, andye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. 

The difference between the sheep and the goats is therefore what they DO. The sheep end up on the right side, and they are the ones that have done something good (righteousness), and the goats end up on the left side, and they are the ones that have neglected to do something good. They have NOT shown compassion and mercy. Lack of fruit can hinder us from entering the kingdom of God. We can read this in John 15 where the branches are cut off and thrown in the fire due to lack of fruit. We are not  saved by merely believing in a ”package”. We could compare with the angels in the beginning of the creation. I don’t believe they had a problem to ”believe in God”, or to accept him as their Creator. Still, we can read that 1/3 of them fell when they followed Lucifer on his wicked ways. It was once again what they DID which affected the continuation of the story – in the future they will be thrown in the lake of fire which was prepared for them from the beginning of the world, due to their deeds.

The other parables in Matthew 25 are the well known parables of the ten virgins and the one about the talents. All the ten virgins ”believed” in the bride groom and waited for his arrival. What they DID and DIDN’T DO made all the difference for what happened next. They all had lamps, but half of the girls had chosen to not bring any extra oil even though this might be needed. We can see that it probably concerned spare oil since the foolish girls said the lamps are ”gone out”. This means the lamps had previously given light, but they did not endure to the end due to lack of oil. We are told by Jesus that we must endure to the end to be saved! The wise girls had chosen to bring some spare oil with them which was a good choice. Our choices make the difference! Also the parable with the Talents shows that our choices and our actions affect the outcome of things, and also here we can see that it concerns eternal life (with various rewards) or eternal damnation.

I know that I write a lot about repentance and righteousness in my blog, and that is because these topics are neither that common, nor popular, despite that they are very important subjects because they concern our SOULS. The devil’s only goal is to make us SIN so that we won’t be able to enter God’s kingdom. He tempts us and tries to provide us with excuses to sin. I believe the devil wants to reassure us that we can be saved by faith alone with no deeds, and that sin will not separate us from God. Wouldn’t it be horrible if he managed to deceive us into thinking ”What a relief that God loves me just the way I am, and that he views me as righteous despite that I live unrighteously at times, and that it’s enough to BELIEVE in him to be saved” IF this is not true? Just imagine if we on Judgment Day would have to say…”Oops!”

1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

Who are Jesus sheep, and who are the goats? – Matt. 25 parable

We have a choice whether we would like to be a Jesus SHEEP or not, and we also have a choice whether we would like to remain his sheep to the very end. At no point do we lose our free will. Let’s see what the Bible says about sheep.

Joshua was supposed to be like a shepherd to israel, but we know that despite of this important task directly from God, all israel did not obey Joshua or God’s commandments:

Numbers 27:14For ye rebelled against My commandment in the Desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify Me at the water before their eyes.” (That is, the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.) 15And Moses spoke unto the LORD, saying, 16″Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17who may go out before them and who may go in before them and who may lead them out and who may bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” 18And the LORD said unto Moses, ”Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; 19and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and give him a charge in their sight. 20And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

Despite of being God’s sheep, israel could cause God to anger due to their rebellion, and they were told to not harden their hearts. We can read that God was GRIEVED when they provoced him, tempted him and erred in their own hearts. We all make God grieve when we walk our own ways instead of his way.

Psalm 74:1 O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?

Psalm 95:6O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 7For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 10Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

We can read also in Isaiah that God has reasons to be angry and to show his wrath against a wicked people, who show much evil, arrogancy, pride and haughtiness – totally against his will. Sheep are compared with people who walk their own ways. Sheep often go astray but that is never the purpose of the shepherd. The shepherd would prefer that his sheep were always close by to pay attention to him and obey him.

Isaiah 13:11And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. 14And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Matthew 26:31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Jeremiah tells us about God’s people – his sheep israel – who unfortunately have been scattered due to false shepherds who have caused them to go astray. They have turned away and forgotten their restingplace. There is always a risk that ”wolves in sheep’s clothing” can cause sheep to go astray, and sometimes these wolves don’t even need sheep’s clothing to cause people to err. The risk of being lost applies even if the sheep belong to God himself. God is powerful enough to ”keep” his sheep, and God could easily cause all sheep (people) in the whole world to be his for good, but that would interfere with our free will which God prefers that we have. WE are responsible for making sure to abide to the true shepherd, and we are warned about false pastors which could cause us to go astray if we are not on our guard.

Jeremiah 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.

Jeremiah 50:17 Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.

Ezekiel makes an interesting prophesy about shepherds (and God’s own shepherds!) who have not been doing their job to take care of the sheep as God expects them to do, but instead they have kept feeding themselves. Ezekiel lists several things which these shepherds have failed to do, with the result that the sheep have become prey and scattered all over the earth. But God promises to step in sometime in the future, and take over. God will JUDGE the shepherds, because they have acted against God’s will and they are responsible for their neglect to take care of the flock. God will also judge between the flock itself, because not only are shepherds responsible for taking care of their sheep, but the sheep are responsible for listening to the shepherds.

Ezekiel 34:2—Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. —16I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. 17And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 18Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. 20Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle.21Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad

Jesus tells his disciples that he will be sending them as sheep among wolves, and warns them therefore that they must be wise. They are warned they must beware of men, because they could certainly interfere and harm them. Jesus tells his own believing disciples that they will be hated for his name’s sake but he that endures to the end shall be saved. Jesus didn’t give his sheep fake and meaningless warnings but in Matt 10:16–22 he explains to his disciples that they must be on their guard because of a real danger that lies ahead of them. If they don’t stay strong, they risk going astray and become lost. This is the opposite from saying ”you will be safe no matter what because you’re my sheep”. There is no reason to tell people to beware of false prophets if they can never go astray.

Matthew 10:16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;— 22And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

In Luke we can read:

Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

But this doesn’t mean the man absolutely WILL find the sheep. It just means that he will never give up as long as their is a hope, just like a mother who will never give up on her lost child. The Father of the prodigal son never gave up on his lost son, but he didnt go out and force him to return. In Matthew we can read the same parable, but here we can read ”IF so be that he finds it”, meaning that it’s not certain. IF a person repents from his sins, there will be lots of joy in heaven! We can read that the Father does not want ONE of those little one to perish. Jesus also gives very serious warnings concerning sins. He says that it’s better to pluck our eye out if it causes us to sin, so that we can escape HELL. He doesn’t say born again christians are excempted from this danger but he actually addresses his disciples, and all of us. Jesus came to save that which is LOST which would be all who have been guilty of sin, which are all who are aware of the law. Also read the parable which Matthew 18 ends with. A servant is cleansed from his debt (sins) and should have been a forever ”forgiven sheep” of this King, but later the same already forgiven debt is put back on his shoulders once again when he (the servant) refuses to forgive another servant. The parable ends with declaring ”35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses”. This again, is a warning to all of us. God’s born again sheep are not excempted from this danger, but there is a risk that we refuse to forgive another person and thus jeopardize our salvation.

Matthew 18:9And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 10Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 12How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish..

Matthew 25 tells us about 5 foolish maids/virgins who forgot to bring enough oil with them to their lamps while waiting for the bride groom. This was their own responsibility, and had they acted like the other 5 virgins who brought enough oil with them, they would have been ”sheep”, and they would not have been lost. We can also read about another parable about various amounts of talents, and about our own responsibility to make a high profit to present to the Owner. The rest of Matthew 25 tells us who the sheep are, as compared with the goats. The Bible doesn’t say ”once sheep, always sheep”, but if we endure to the end we will be among the saved. Matthew 25 makes it clear that God’s sheep are those who DO GOOD. Many of us have been indoctrinated to believe that doing something (works) has nothing to do with our salvation, but it certainly does according to the Bible. We can forfeit our salvation if we refuse to show compassion with people around us, and neglect to DO GOOD towards them. This is again a serious warning to all of us. Some might suggest that sheep will naturally always do good, and goats will not, but this is certainly not always the case. It’s true that doing good should come very natural for a sheep, but unfortunately this is not always true. The sheep and the goats are not divided between those who believe in Jesus and those who do not, but among those who do good and those who do not. This is about fruit. YOU decide whether you are a sheep or a goat, and you show this with what you do. Sins will always place you among the goats, unless you repent. Stay strong and don’t let Satan win in your life. The Holy Spirit is your Helper and He can guide you. James says in James 2 that faith without works is dead so make sure you’re not only ”praying” (which is a good thing) but also DOING something for the kingdom of God. Spreading his word and doing good to others.

Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Jesus is our teacher, and the light of our lives

Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.   

Do read this article about John 10:28, and particularly verse 27 which identifies the sheep. Jesus sheep are those who LISTEN to him and FOLLOW him, so as long as we do this (Greek continuous tense), we are totally safe. Jesus is not going to put us away, but of course he doesn’t force us to remain with him – due to our free will.