Jesus Came to Give Us the Gospel

Read 296.) Matthew chapters 14 through 16. Jesus has been rejected by national Israel, and especially by her religious leaders. He has already taught, by means of parables, the new direction and nature of the Kingdom of Heaven as it will be manifested upon earth for a time. Now, with these 3 chapters, Jesus comes to His real and deeper purpose for His coming.

Chapter 14 first tells us of the beheading of John the Baptist. He had served God faithfully and sealed his testimony with his blood. Jesus next performs 2 of His most memorable miracles; the feeding of the 5,000, and His walking on the water. Counting the women and the children present, Jesus may have fed as many as 20,000 with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish. Peter also walked upon the water, for a bit, but due to fear, he began to sink, and Jesus saved him; and by then, we read that the 12 Disciples are finally believing and saying that Jesus truly was the Son of God.

Chapter 15 advances the idea that the religious leaders are rejecting of Him, with verses 1 through 14, but presents an example of one, who is not even of Israel, exercising great faith in Jesus, with the story of the Canaanite woman. The chapter concludes with another miracle of the feeding of a huge crowd, numbering some 4,000 men.

Chapter 16 becomes pivotal. The leaders are now in open defiance of Jesus, and Jesus openly warns those who are following Him against those leaders. It is also at this time, Jesus confronts His 12 chosen ones concerning His true identity, and affirming that with them, begins to reveal His true purpose and work unto them. Israel’s religious leaders tested Jesus by asking Him for a sign from heaven, as if all that we have read that He did were not enough already. How foolish of them. They had no intention of ever believing! Jesus then asks His disciples Who it is that they think He is… and Peter answers most definitively, that Jesus is the Messiah. It would be upon THIS fact; Jesus is God’s Anointed One, the Messiah, upon which He would build His assembly of called-out ones, His Church. As the Messiah, Jesus now begins to plainly explain the simple facts of the Gospel; what it would be, and, ultimately, what it would accomplish.

The Gospel consists of these 2 facts first; Jesus would die, but that He would rise again from the dead! What all this would mean, is not yet made clear here, but will soon enough. The Gospel is no more plainly stated, than in I Corinthians 15:1-4. It can be summarized in 10 words from that passage. Christ died for our sins, and rose from the dead. It’s what the Book is all about!

ForeverKingdom,
Harold F Crowell

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Parables, Parables!

Read 295.) Matthew chapter 13. From 4:23, 7:28+29 and 9:35, we read of the summary passages of Jesus’ ministry among Israel. It was to present Himself to them as their long-promised and awaited Messiah. But, beginning in chapter 9, we learn of the rise of opposition against Jesus by the religious rulers. And, then, with chapters 11 and 12, the leader’s rejection of Jesus is complete, especially with 12:14. Chapter 12 closes with the infamous passage of His own family not believing on Him, and coming to take charge of Him, because they believed that He had lost His mind! Matthew doesn’t come right out and say so, but Mark did. Now, with chapter 13, we turn a corner. Jesus is teaching once again, but in a different manner, and with a different purpose in view. He’ll teach on the nature of the future manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven in some 10 parables, to serve a double purpose of revealing to some, while hiding truths from all the others.

Chapter 13 opens with the Parable of the Sower and its interpretation. As the Word of God goes forth in the world, people will respond in all kinds of manners, but only some will believe, receive and be saved; and go on to bring still more into the Kingdom. Are you producing a crop, and multiplying those in the faith? With the next parable, Jesus explains that even among those who seemingly respond in the most positive sense, there will still be those who are not genuine. Are you real? Jesus further explained that the real ones will be as a sown mustard seed or a bit of yeast, that will greatly expand the Kingdom on earth. With parables of hidden treasure and a precious pearl, Jesus explains how that the real converts completely sell out to receive the Kingdom! And, then, finally, in the end, there will be a gathering and a final judgment. Only those who were the genuine article, will enter into the Kingdom of their Father, while all of the others will be cast into the lake of fire.

Do NOT miss the teaching here, of the certainty of final judgment and the nature of that judgment… that it will be by fire, and will result in excruciating discomfort. Think of the agony one must be enduring to actually be weeping and gnashing their teeth! And, please note, too, if you have missed it… but, this is at least the 9th time, and perhaps more, in which Matthew writes of the severity of final judgment, and that it involves real fire, and goes by the name of hell! People ignore this to their great peril! All these parables are to speak to us. They all apply to you, if their meaning is not hidden to you. Otherwise, if the meaning is hidden… then, they are about you! Next, the ‘new’ meaning and reality of Jesus’ life and ministry, since Israel had rejected Him It’s what the Book is all about!

ForeverKingdom,
Harold F Crowell

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Israel Rejected Her Messiah!

Read 294.) Matthew chapters 10 through 12. Matthew wrote chapters 5 thru 7 to express what Jesus taught, and the account closed with how that He taught with a personal authority. Chapters 8 and 9 were then written for the express purpose of demonstrating that authority with a record of some 11 different miraculous healings and deliverances, including the raising of one back from the dead! All the while, the question was being asked, and we began to note the answer… Will Israel believe and receive her Messiah? We note that the leaders are beginning to reject Jesus, while the people are giving evidence that they do believe. Chapters 10 thru 12, however, are going to bring a fuller answer to the question, and this is going to result in a huge change in the course of His ministry among the people of Israel.

Chapter 10 opens by telling of how that Jesus called The 12 unto Himself, and was going to send them out to call all Israel unto Himself; and that they would perform miracles as well, so as to verify their message and authority. Verses 5 thru 16 could easily be said to have made application to The 12 on this particular occasion, but what about verses 17 and following? I may be alone on this one, but I believe that this is actual instruction, from Jesus, unto those who will be of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of the final 7-Year Tribulation Period on the earth, found in Revelation chapter 7. If you were to reread this passage with those future evangelists in mind, it would appear to make perfect sense, as these words find next to no application whatsoever to the 12 here, to whom Jesus is speaking at that time.

Chapter 11 commences this turning point for Israel, as I will explain. The first passage is about John’s unbelief, and of the larger part of Israel not believing or responding. This applied largely to entire cities of Jews, such as Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. With the last passage, Jesus is now largely turning away from collective and national Israel, unto individual persons, “Come to me, all you who are weary….” Who will? Let’s see!

Chapter 12 then goes to even greater length to prove Jesus’ authority and office as Messiah, but there’s even more vociferous rejection by Israel’s leaders. The remainder of the chapter records the escalation of Israel’s rejection by her leaders, even unto blaspheming the Holy Spirit! Others, perhaps feigning neutrality, ask for a miraculous sign, right after he had just performed a great one! So, He gives them one alright! He’s going to raise Himself up from the dead after 3 days have passed! Finally, as if matters couldn’t have gotten any worse, His own mother and brothers are coming to Him… to seek to take Him away, because they thought He had lost His mind, and even his own family would not believe!

Israel’s rejection is complete, as 12:14 most amply attests. O, there are some who believe and are following, but only a few in relation to the rest of the nation. Israel has rejected her Messiah, Now their Messiah is going to greatly alter the nature of His ministry toward them; and the world. We now know why, but He is now going to explain how it will be changing… next. It’s what the Book is all about!

ForeverKingdom,
Harold F Crowell

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Will Israel Receive Her Messiah?

Read 293.) Matthew chapters 8 and 9. Matthew recorded the Sermon in chapters 5 thru 7 to show his people what Jesus taught. He next recorded some 11 miraculous healings, in chapters 8 and 9, to show his people what Jesus could do. The divine power within the miracles were to authenticate his ministry and message as their Messiah and Savior. Would Israel believe that, and accept Jesus?

Chapter 8 opens with the miraculous healing of the man with leprosy. The two most amazing aspects of this particular miracle was that this man was willing to go out into public, amidst the great crowds around Jesus, in order to get to Jesus, so as to kneel before Him. He was not to do that! This was an act of great faith on his part. The other amazing aspect was the mere fact that Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man, which technically, according to the Law of Moses, rendered him ceremonially unclean. Yet, in this instance, rather than making Jesus unclean, we have Him saying to the leper that he be clean! This was an act of God, as only He could actually reverse that entire situation. Next, was the healing of the centurion’s servant, and the commendation of his great faith. We have two more mentions of healings with verses 14 thru 17. The desired result seems to be rising, as some express their desire to follow Jesus, but rather than encourage this, as we might expect, He speaks of how difficult this is, and we do not even learn whether these followed thru, or shrunk back! Jesus then calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and uses it as a lesson on faith to His disciples. The last account is of the 2 demoniacs living among the tombs, whom Jesus delivers. The demons knew who Jesus was, while his disciples were still asking and wondering!

Chapter 9 advances this narrative with more healings and some teaching. Jesus heals a paralytic, after forgiving his sins. Since only God alone can forgive sins, who is this Jesus fellow? Matthew had been hearing all about Jesus, and so when Jesus passed by, and called Matthew, he was more than ready to repent and follow. This account clearly makes plain, too, that the real issues between God and man have everything to do with righteousness and sin… the first 2 Essential Elements of The Real New Testament Message. We find another word on fasting, 9:14-17. This goes with 6:16-18, and is to be a practice of Christians, after Jesus ascended; as it is for us today, as a further impetus behind our most urgent prayers unto God. There follows four more accounts of miracles, including the raising of one who had died! But, in answer to the question: Will Israel believe on Jesus and accept Him as their long-promised and awaited Messiah, we begin to see our answer with 9:34. And, sadly, it appears that Israel, true to all her historical form, will reject and deny that which their God was doing for them and giving to them. O, faithless Israel! Chapter 9 then closes with Jesus’ call for more laborers to go out into the harvest, because the people, by and large, were willing to receive Him. Will it happen? We learn the answer to that very important question next! It’s what the Book is all about!

ForeverKingdom,
Harold F Crowell

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The True Teaching of Jesus

Read 292.) Matthew 5 thru 7. These 3 chapters are known as The Sermon on the Mount. His disciples had become a great number. Chapter 5 touches upon some 9 matters; the first being the beatitudes, each one starting with blessed, or how happy. They’re exciting because the last words of verse 6 speak to salvation, and the New Birth. This is clear because the result is a filling with righteousness; the sole requirement to be accepted of God. And the means of that filling, seen in those things required, leading up to it in verses 3 thru 6, all describe repentance. Then, beginning with 7, we see the results of this repentance, which had resulted in salvation. These start living out that righteousness which they had received, which is the New Life! It closes with what then happens to those who repented, and were saved, with verses 10 thru 12. They become healthy and wealthy… Wrong! They suffer at the hands of others. See it? These are they who are to become salt and light, holding back from the wrong they used to do, and sharing with others how they, too, can be saved. Be salt, restraining evil, and be light, sharing the Good News! The third point goes to the need for a perfect and complete righteousness, that exceeds that ‘righteousness’ of the religious. It was to cause His hearers to wonder how that might be possible and ever attained unto. Jesus then used the demands of the 6th and 7th Commandments, to show something of how sinful each hearer truly was. All to bring conviction, so as to lead to repentance! We have the issue of divorce, and the acceptable cause for it. There’s the matter of oath-taking and the need for true character and integrity. Chapter 5 ends on the twin notes of mercy and grace, the giving to others that which they do not deserve, as well as the withholding of doing to another that which they do deserve. All of which is to be like God, Himself! But, note how the chapter ends on perfection. This is another word for righteousness, and we do not possess that. It must be granted, given, or bestowed by God. He credits to a repentant person His own righteousness! This is God’s own true salvation. Do you have it yet?

With chapter 6, we go from the means of salvation, in chapter 5, to 4 matters that pertain to living the New Life in Christ, all of which are said here to be performed outwardly, but their reality is secret, and truly matters of our inner self. See them? Giving. Praying. Forgiveness. Fasting. These 4 things have to do with laying up treasure in Heaven, for as the chapter closes, we are to seek, as the matter of first priority, the Kingdom, and not our own advancement. If we give ourselves completely to that cause, He will completely care for those who do! I have seen this in the life of some, who have abandoned themselves unto God, so as to bring the Good News to unreached peoples in other parts of the world.

Chapter 7, then takes us to the deeper things of the Christian life. Those who have abandoned themselves to God and His service, as 6:19-34 describe, have no time to be judging others, and already know that ‘they are truly no better.’ Instead, they implore Heaven, continually asking, seeking and knocking, so as to receive that which they believe God would have them to receive. They treat others as they themselves would want to be treated, though they are often persecuted and suffer. Beginning at verse 13, Jesus concludes His message. The gate here, is not, as many have thought, Himself. Though He does later say that He is the Gate. The context of this message, beginning right from 5:3, is repentance! Repentance results in a removal from the road to destruction, unto life. Only a few truly repent. All of which distinguishes the true believers and followers from the false. The fruit of the true is all that we have just seen up ’til now, but with one exclusive distinction. These are known by Jesus! Meaning, they are in relation to Him. He saved them, when they repented. These are the wise builders. They repented in the manner described as chapter 5 opened, were transformed into the manner detailed throughout, and, having received righteousness from God, entered into, and were genuinely related to Jesus Christ; and not merely religious. His hearers were amazed, because Jesus taught with divine authority. Did Matthew 5 thru 7 amaze you? Have you ever repented, and had God’s righteousness bestowed upon you? Are you rightly related to Jesus, that He knows you? It’s what the Book is all about!

ForeverKingdom,
Harold F Crowell

Posted in Bible, Christian, Christian Teaching, eternal life, fasting, God, God's promises, Heaven, Hell, Jesus Christ, judgment, Messiah, New Birth, prayer, Relationships, Religion, repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Spirituality, wisdom, word of god | Leave a comment

Matthew: The Gospel to the Jew First

Read 291.) Matthew chapters 1 through 4. Matthew was the loathed tax collector for Rome. He wrote primarily to his own people, Israel, to present to them Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. Chapter 1 starts the book with a genealogical list. But to the Jews; this was essential, and a matter of first importance. “Don’t tell me that anyone is the Messiah, until you first demonstrate to me that he descended from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David and Solomon!” And, so the very first 17 verses are to settle that one matter. The rest of the chapter tells us of His birth, but we immediately begin to pick up on important themes that play out throughout the entire New Testament, such as righteousness, and sin; and about who Jesus really was/is, as well as the matter of salvation. There are 10 Essential Elements of the Real New Testament Message; not 9 or 11. We’ll point these out as they come up, and you will see and understand the vital truth of these things, which completely opens up the New Testament to the reader. Verse 20 explains that what entered Mary’s womb was from the Holy Spirit, and as such, was untouched by sinful and corrupted human nature. He would be the Savior, and He would be divine — God with us! His very name would mean, Jehovah Saves! It makes perfect sense; we needed an infinite savior to pay an infinite price for all of our infinite sin. He had to be God! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Chapter 2 tells of His infancy and the visit of the magi. They came looking for the King of the Jews, and to worship Him. They were looking for God come in human flesh; as Israel’s King, from the Hebrew scriptures, was God. And, they came to worship! Matthew’s account will relate a number of prophecy fulfillments for his people. Where he was to be born was from Micah 5:2, as just one such example. The chapter contains 3 more such fulfillments. Chapter 3 brings us an incredible story of the coming of John the Baptist, the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. Along with the themes mentioned above, we can add still others, such as repentance and judgment. But perhaps among the most notable, is the nature of the New Birth, as it will be by means of Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit! The chapter closes with the account of Jesus’ own baptism in the Jordan by John. It was upon this occasion that Jesus was uniquely baptized with the Holy Spirit, Himself, that He might enter into His ministry as the Messiah, and Savior of the world! But, first, He must be tested by Satan.

Chapter 4 brings us the accounts of His testing, the opening of His ministry, the calling of His first disciples, and ends on that note of the one particular confirming sign; that of supernatural healing. In His testing, Jesus demonstrated the supremacy of scripture, the Word of God, in His life. His first message began as John’s had, on that note of repentance, as the means of preparation for the Kingdom. He first called the fishermen, Peter and Andrew, and James and John unto Himself. These would become the best noted and most famous of the 12. From the very beginning, His ministry would be characterized by preaching, teaching and healing; demonstrating His divine authority.

Immediately, we can note at least 7 of The Essential Elements. Of the 10, we already find those numbered 1.) Righteousness, 2.) Sin, 3.) Judgment, 4.) Savior, 6.) Repent, 8.) New Birth, and finally, 10.) Kingdom. When you look for these, and see how prevalent these are, and place them in their proper context, or order, you will know the Real New Testament Message, and will never be swayed by the false health, wealth, success and prosperity teachings of so many others that exist today. It’s what the Book is all about!

ForeverKingdom,
Harold F Crowell

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Introducing the Gospels of Jesus Christ

We have completed the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible in 287 readings in the chronological order in which the story unfolded. Now, we begin to read through the New Testament. For the next 32 readings, we will go through the 4 Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Understanding what has transpired, as a believing Jew might, you would know that God had given your people, through the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as through Moses, 7 distinct Promises and Prophecies concerning all the ancient recorded history of your people. You would know that God said He would 1.) make of your father Abraham, many descendants, that 2.) your people would be enslaved, but supernaturally delivered, 3.) that your God would give your people a Promised Land, but that afterward, 4.) your people would become unfaithful and break their covenant with God, 5.) God would expel you from out of your land for 70 years, but, that 6.) He would also restore a remnant back into the land… and, that 7.) He was going to send His Anointed One, the Messiah, to establish a kingdom of righteousness, in which all would ultimately be joy and bliss forever and ever.

Finally, a prophesied period of silence from God was intervening between Israel’s restoration back in their land, and it had commenced right around 425 years ago. The anticipation of when God would return to His people, and fulfill His final prophecy had been building. Where was Messiah? When would He come? What would He really be like? And, just what would He do in order to restore God’s rightful rule and order over all His creation??? This is that perspective that one should bring to the reading of the New Testament, and particularly the Gospel accounts of the Apostles. And, to no Gospel account was this more applicable, than to Matthew, who specifically wrote his account for his own people, Israel.

My point, in all the above, is that there is an incredibly strong and inextricable link between the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that cannot be denied. The one is built upon, and launches from off of, the other. They truly are all One Book; and that Book has only One Author. It is the very Word of the One and Only, True and Living God, who gave it to us that we might be saved and enjoy Him in the Holy City forever and ever. It’s what the Book is all about!

ForeverKingdom,
Harold F Crowell

Posted in Bible, Christian, Christian Teaching, eternal life, God, God's promises, Heaven, Israel, Jesus Christ, judgment, Messiah, Old Testament, Prophecy, Religion, Salvation, savior, Scripture, Spirituality, wisdom, word of god | Leave a comment