Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On becoming seeker sensitive

I'm for it. Really for it.
But not like what our modern church culture thinks. They think that if you make the church like the world you can't help but get people in the doors. People are comfortable in the world, the thinking goes, so make the church like what they are comfortable with. 


But as any half way decent theologian knows, there is this thing in the Bible called total inability (or depravity). The consequence of which is that unless men are drawn by God they won't come to faith.


And how does God draw them? Through pain. He makes them miserable and unhappy. He pokes and prods them until they cannot find rest, and thus causes them to go out looking for something, anything, which will provide them a salve to their misery. When I was in college the song put it well, "there's gotta be more to life..."
But what happens when that seeking soul finds out that the church is exactly like the world? What if he goes into a mega-church which is predominately concerned with stopping bullying, and social justice, and finds out that it isn't here that the answer is found? 


If we are to be seeker sensitive we must be worldly offensive. Anything else and we are little better than the world, certainly not good enough to provide satisfaction to their thirst.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The problem with America is... advertising?

I found this article on Challies today. It's a little too long in my estimation, and although I don't know if I would recommend reading it all or not, he has a very insightful observation about Rob Bell: the man is an advertiser.
 

Introduction  

 

All Alastair's point was is that Bell is an advertiser not a theologian, it wasn't his mission to go bigger. But still, he should have. He should have gone on and said something like: Bell is the perfect example of what has happened to America--we're all advertisers now. Our politicians make squishy and chocolate filled promises not arguments. (In fact there are precious few of them that actually are making policies based on reason, most of them write laws for their friends and sell it on the basis of feelings. Look no further than President Obama, the supreme champion of our modern system, who has perfected the art of advertisement campaigning.) Our children can't think though an argument because they have been conditioned their whole lives to work within the bounds of advertisement, not reason. Those who confront others and point out sloppy thinking are counted as very negative people, and on the other hand merely stating an obvious movie plot hole makes you a genius because our skills of critical thinking have atrophied in the face of advertisement culture that any show of it is like magic. The Lego Movie or Mr. Nobody are perfect in this regard: they speak out of both sides of their mouth, advertisements without a center that therefore capture every view-point.


Thesis


And now we come to the point of this post. Predictably, this being the permeating principle of our culture has meant that the church has soaked up advertising to the exclusion of Scriptures. We are something much more like the Mr. Jesus fellowship of advertisement than the body of Christ.
Witness the fact that Bayside of Granite Bay pitches itself as the "church for people who don't like church." Or how we evangelize no longer by approaching people on the basis of Scripture but instead on the basis of giving a personal testimony about the effectiveness of our product, Mr. Jesus. The shorter, pep-talk sermons principally revolve around making us feel good about the choice we made to use Mr. Jesus, and from the pulpit we are far more likely to hear an appeal to "try Mr. Jesus for free or your money back" than we are to hear about the real gospel. You know, the one that says non-believers are dead in their sins and stand condemned before a Holy God, but He has paid the penalty and resurrected to save us. Never-mind that crusty old Puritan stuff, just hurry up here to the front, people are standing by to take your order today! We have less and less Bible class and more and more appealing to felt needs such as Financial Peace, or Marriage Counseling, with the predictable result that we have more divorces and more money concerns.
I'll give one more example, and it's the saddest: in Bible class we were talking about 1 Cor 15:19 (If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable) and someone actually said, "Even if Christianity isn't true, I'd still do it because it's the best way to live, it gives you the happiest life." The poor man had been so conditioned by advertising that when the Bible actually said the direct opposite he couldn't hear it.
The culture of Advertising has done this to us. Accepting it's premise of success! has sent a tornado through our churches.



Antithesis

 

(In any academic work today you have the essay written out as thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis, so I suppose it's time for the anti-thesis.)
That we must advertise or face irrelevancy is a virtually undisputed premise. The mainline liberal protestants have shown us that if we want to grow we need to do it by attracting people. Witness the success of the emergent village... er no nevermind, that won't work.
Ahem. That we should embrace advertising is a given considering there is a Biblical precedent for it. Witness what Mr. Jesus said in the parable of the sower when He mentioned the four kinds of seeds and the one kind of soil... Oh. Right. Well, as it is written in Isaiah 30:9-11 
"For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD;who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
Uh... uh... the...oh okay, I realized my problem here, I'm not advertising it right. Let me try again.

Antithesis Revisited 

 

Are you aware that 90% of young people are leaving the church after high-school, and leaving forever? Are you aware that when surveyed many report that they find the moldy ancient councils and creeds 'unreadable?' Have you considered that the divorce rate in the church is greater than it is in the world? Do you realize your church is one generation away from total extinction? At Mr. Jesus fellowship we do. We are concerned. Which is why we are different. At Mr. Jesus community fellowship we serve a big God. We're thriving by staying relevant in our culture through a program of re-capturing the wonder of love. Because the fact is, you matter. You matter to God. A magnificent God. You are important to Him. Come be a part of a community where we're having a conversation of mystery. Of spirituality. In this safe place you are free to explore with us a new vision of a heavenly Father, a father who is with us, and for us. So come to Mr Jesus Fellowship and join us.


Synthesis 

 

Let the dead bury the dead. For me and my house we will hold to the sufficiency of Scripture. As it says:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Election is wrong, because I'm God

I haven't written for awhile because I haven't felt compelled to. But upon seeing this article that urge to kill rose up within me and the spirit within me said, write.
This is the blog of a young man who wrestled with the question "why does God keep creating people and then not keep predestinating them to heaven?" and lost. (I'll just tell you now he decides the answer is that God can't be sovereign.) So have a read of his blog, then when you come back we can get started. Done? Good.


First: Notice Unconditional Election can't be true because... feelings.

This has been my experience when talking with my family or my Church of Christ brothers or sisters: upon hearing the a difficult bit of Scriptures that challenges their beliefs the hearer immediately fires back with "I don't believe that, because... I don't like that." Of course they use a different phrase, most often it's something to the effect of "free will" or some such flim-flamery, but what they are really saying is that they don't want to accept it. Now to be fair I did the same thing once upon a time, but when you think about it, the notion that you don't have to listen to the Scripture because you don't agree with it is absolutely unacceptable. And right out of the gate this guy goes off the rails in making that mistake. 
"I certainly am no theologian, and have no ability or desire to interact with Mr. Piper’s ideas point by point. What I can tell you is that the picture of God painted by his brush strokes is, in my experience, damaging to Christians and dishonoring to God. I’ll leave the Biblical critique to those more qualified than myself, but these are some of the implications of this unconditional election that I find not only personally troubling, but incompatible with God as revealed in Jesus through Scripture."
In other words, I don't believe what the Scriptures teach because I don't like it.
If you ever get in a discussion with someone and you bring a clear teaching of Scripture to the table and they try to rebut it not with another piece of Scripture but with their feelings, know that they are surely on the losing side.



Second: The Redefinition of the terms

The Unconditional aspect of Unconditional Election doesn't mean there is no valid reason for doing it, it refers to our worthless state. That is, there was no good in us, or value in us, nothing that God would be drawn to that would cause Him to sacrifice His Son. We deserve hell, and we didn't get it. Why? Because we're special? No. Election wasn't something we earned, it was because God freely decided that electing some men was what He wanted. But what does Micah say?  
"I can see no way to understand this other than as purely arbitrary." 
In other words, unconditional election is a process by which God randomly, and arbitrarily, selected to save some men. The problem here is that he sets up a straw man and knocks it down. If someone ever needs to redefine the terms to win the argument, you know they don't have a leg to stand on.


Thirdly: The refusal to be rebuked by Scripture

I'll skip the part where he complains that the God of Calvinism is a cruel tyrant for letting some men go to hell. Because were I to answer that it would feel like punching a baby in the face to point out the Arminian God is no less evil. I'll just skip ahead to the key point. It's not that he's ignorant, it's that he's willfully ignorant. His basic argument is that God is unjust to predestine some and not others. Look what Romans says in response: 

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
This section of Scriptures is exactly the answer to the whole blog post. God has every right to choose some to bring all the way home and some to entreat while they make up their own mind. But Micah rejects this notion, and instead pulls a Roger Olson, declaring that if election unto salvation is true then God is unrighteous. If God doesn't tell us the reason He elected a man then God is a criminal of the worst kind who has no right to do anything. Unless God tell me what He's doing, and when, and why, and let me make the final call, He is evil. 
That's not Christianity. That's not even Paganism. Micah is sitting in the judgement seat over God giving him permission or forbidding Him as it strikes his sense of justice. But where did he get this sense of justice? Or what gave him the right to God's judgment seat? It's ludicrous. God is in heaven, He does as He pleases in the heavens above, and the earth beneath, and no one can restrain His hand or asks 'what are you doing?'

The one thing I find most helpful when approaching the topic of election is humility. And nothing helps humility more than a solid knowledge of my depravity, but in this case, I'd just settle for an admission from this guy that "I'm not God." The rest would take care of itself.
. What I c
eBut how can I enjoy my salvation, knowing that it’s just the luck of the draw? That I won a divine lottery to keep me out of hell, but that most won’t? How is salvation good if it’s unmerited, arbitrary, random, and most are predestined to destruction? - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf
“Why does God keep creating people and then not predestining them to salvation?” - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf
“Why does God keep creating people and then not predestining them to salvation?” - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf
“Why does God keep creating people and then not predestining them to salvation?” - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf
“Why does God keep creating people and then not predestining them to salvation?” - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf
“Why does God keep creating people and then not predestining them to salvation?” - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf
“Why does God keep creating people and then not predestining them to salvation?” - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf
“Why does God keep creating people and then not predestining them to salvation?” - See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/05/23/believing/#sthash.5cBM89JM.dpuf

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Matthew 10



·         Just as the first discourse was about the law, and the purpose of it, this one is about the kingdom, it’s rule, and it’s people. If the first paired closely with parts of Hebrews and Galatians, this discourse is expounded more naturally in Timothy and Titus.
·         This breaks down into roughly three sections: the immediate calling of the Apostles and servants of the Kingdom, the longer term mission and work of the kingdom, and the comfort and security it brings. It’s strongly focused on what the kingdom is about (faith), what its servants are to do (preach boldly), and how the external world goes (God’s sovereignty, man’s resistance).

1And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.
·         Matthew has this here to explain in no uncertain terms, that the Apostles were to be those workers
·         Luke tells us that Jesus went up to pray all night. He was doing what He instructed, praying for the laborers to be sent.
·         Jesus had over 70 disciples to chose from (He would send them out later Luke 10:1), but He chose only 12 of them to be His Apostles. Obviously Matthias and Barsabas (Acts 1:23) were with Him here.
·         There are twelve gates in heaven, and twelve thrones from which judgment will be pronounced (luke 22:30, Matt 19:28).
·         I suspect this is what Ezekiel 45:8 is talking about.

2Now the names of the twelve apostles are these:
·         The lists are similar in Mark 3:16-19 and Luke 6:13-16. The lists are in groups of four men, the first name in each group is the same, and Judas the traitor is last on all lists, which means Peter, Philip, James and Judas are at the same spot on all the lists.
·         Apostle means ‘messenger.’  The qualification for this position was: commissioned by Jesus, taught by Jesus, present to see the Resurrected Jesus.
 first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
·         These four fishermen were the closet to Jesus.
·         James and John were outspoken, brash, bold. They likely got that from their mother. They were called ‘sons of thunder’ in the other accounts.
·         Herod perceived that James was the leader, and so killed him, Acts 12:2.

3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus,
·         Philip and Batholomew were likely from Bethsaida, the same place as Andrew and Peter
·         Matthew who wrote the book we are working from points out that he was the tax collector. He didn’t feel the need to tell us what the others did, just himself. Mark 2:14 seems to indicate that Matthew was the son of Alphaeus, but he doesn’t connect himself in this way, he only says ‘I was a tax collector.’
·         James gets the special designation ‘the son of Alphaeus’ to distinguish him from James the brother of John.
and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
·         Also called Judas the son of James (Luke), or called Judas (not Iscariot) John 14:22

4Simon the Cananite,
·         This word means ‘zealous’ rather than indicating he was born in Cana. It comes from the word Cananaean, a particular brand of Zealot. See also Acts 1:13. Jesus chose someone who came from a knife wielding fanatic sect determined to overthrow Rome.
and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
·         Iscariot means ‘man of Kerioth’ a town far to the south. He was the upstanding and outwardly righteous one in the group, although he was a betrayer.
·         He was the one given the money purse.
·         All in all a very diverse, and humble lot. But God loves the humble things.

5These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.
·         Twelve was the number of tribes. Although Jesus sent out many more, Matthew is pointing out here that True Israel had arrived.
·         Jesus Himself was after all, a Jew
·         Jesus now begins the second of five discourses.

6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
·         Although Jesus had gone through Samaria, and to the gentile regions, this was not the purpose of the disciples
·         It may at first sound upsetting to exclude everyone else, but if salvation had not come to the Jews first, then there would have been no point to the Jews, nor would God have been honest in saying that they were a special people to Him. It doesn’t mean salvation never comes to the Gentiles, it means this ministry was not for them.

7And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
·         This is the same message John the Baptist was giving.
·         The reign of Jesus had begun.

8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
·         In the same way Jesus did it, they were to do the same, including raise the dead. We don’t have record of that here because it was important for the Gospels to have it. But the disciples were excited that the demons obeyed them.
·         These weren’t cases, these were people they were curing, who were hearing the gospel and receiving eternal life.

9Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
·         They were not to take an extra bag, or sandals, nor extra money on this mission trip, which was unique. Whatever was on their person as they set out was good enough, because after a short time they would come back.
·         Had they taken money from the people they would have perverted the gospel. It is freely given, it must be freely received.
·         Although support like food is perfectly acceptable, because it’s here and gone, and those who work deserve their food.
·         Although the list of items prohibited in Mark and Luke is different, it all amounts to the idea of go as you are and do not worry about the rest.

11“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12And when you go into a household, greet it.
·         First they were to find the worthy people, the holy men and women, and stay in that house. They were to put in some effort to sort out who was a decent person, the person willing to show them kindness and hospitality.
·         Show hospitality to one another, for by doing some have entertained angles unaware.

13If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
·         The point was to have lodging simply to have it, they were not to play with it or bother with it, or make a point of it. If their stay went bad, just leave and let the family to do their own thing.
·         Peace will return automatically, just like a curse that cannot find a worthy target will float and never settle, peace will never settle.

14And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
·         Shaking off the dust was something the Jews did when exiting pagan areas. The notion was that they were to treat rejection as if the person was a non-believer and leave them be.
·         Dust carried the notion of local deity in the older days, which is why Naaman wanted two mule loads of earth to come back with him to Syria.

15Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
·         Sodom and Gomorrah were wretched evil cities, but their judgment was sudden and unexpected. Judah was warned and called ahead of time, making their rejection worse.
·         The day of judgment is the day where all the accounts will be set right, where God will provide justice against our enemies.

16“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
·         They were sheep in the midst of a terrible place, which calls for wisdom and discernment. Two unpopular things today.
·         Innocence is not protection. Protection requires wisdom to see if there is a trap.
·         This is like Modalists and other sophisticated heretics today. On the surface it looks good, but when you look more closely, you find out the real truth.
·         Do not try to run into danger, but realize that they will get you anyway, see the words starting next verse

17But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.
·         This speaks to the longer term of what would happen to them. Acts has the records of them being dragged into court and councils.
·         Paul understood this very well, that governments do not show mercy to Christians. He was scourged and stoned, shipwrecked, and tried a number of times (see 2 Cor 11:24).
·         Jesus was scourged by the Romans until He couldn’t stand up, and in the end crucified. What makes Christians think are likely to escape persecution if Jesus didn’t?

18You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.
·         This looks even longer term, and is interesting that it goes here in Matthew’s Jewish account, that they would serve and answer the Gentile councils. See the accounts of Luke in Acts 5:26, 12:1-4, 23:33, 26:1, 26:28, 30. And that was just Paul.
·         They are to be the watchmen on the wall, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel were in an earlier day.
·         Having the uncultured and unsophisticated brought to testify gives greater punch to Christ living and speaking through them.

19But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;
·         Proverbs 16:1 says the answer on the mouth comes from the Lord, even when the preparation is done. That means God owns the space between what you intend to say, and what you actually say.
·         As fishermen they were not trained in oration and logic, so God promises that He will speak in their weakness, to make His power evident, therefore don’t even worry about your reply.

20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
·         God will provide for them an adequate answer. If we trust Him for salvation we can trust Him for all the smaller things to, like being faithful to His promise about saving others.

21“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.
·         Jesus did not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword, because of the Holiness which He brought.
·         If Jesus hadn’t warned about this ahead of time it would be almost unbearable to deliver family over to death.

22And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
·         This is a promise, will be hated. The apostles all died by execution, save John, and all of them were despised by the rulers of this world.
·         This is balanced by an equally strong promise: will be saved. If we look to heaven it makes the earthly business bearable.

23When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.
·         They were to leave when the persecution got tough, that the gospel message could spread through the regions. They were not permitted to die.
For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
·         The Son of Man comes likely means when Jerusalem would be destroyed later, considering that the previous verses were fulfilled in Acts. Obviously it can’t mean the end of the world, since the Apostles have since died.
·         This same phrase is in Matthew 28 and seems to refer to Jerusalem being destroyed there.

24“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!
·         Jesus begins with the statement of obvious fact, the young child is not on the same level as the instructor
·         Beelzebub was the name of the Philistine deity, particularly of the city Ekron (2 Kings 1:2-3). It’s likely derived from the meaning “Lord of heaven”, but as an insult the Jews changed it to Zebub, meaning dung. Later this name came to be shorthand for Satan, Lord of Dung, whose followers are like flies.
·         This was as bad as you can get, to call Christ Satan, the Lord of Lies.
·         And finishes with the obvious assertion that if the master of the house is hated, then the soldiers in the house will be hated too. We have fallen into the trap of thinking that because we love Jesus everyone else will and should.

26Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
·         Their evil schemes and machinations will be uncovered, and they will be judged, in other words.
·         Do not fear man is a common refrain in the OT

27“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.
·         The personal instruction Jesus gave to the disciples were now to be put into practice. He told them those things not for their own gain, but so that they might teach others too.
·         Spiritual gifts given to the church works in the same way.

28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
·         Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoso puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe”
·         The body will be resurrected, but if the soul is cast into gloomy dungeons forever, what hope is there?
·         This should bring a measure of hope to all Christians, to not panic or have too much anxiety because God is in control. Sovereignty is a birthright given to us to comfort us. It’s much like predestination, it exists for our own good and gain, it is not something to be feared or resisted. God is a big God, and His providence is beyond understanding.

29Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
·         Now Jesus will give two expressions why they were not to fear, birds and hair.
·         This means that there is nothing that happens outside the plans and providence of God. Even to controlling when the sparrows eat and die. It is an unthinkable thing as the sparrows were in great quantity, could be easily captured, and were destroyed as pests. 

30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
·         The number of hairs on their head were accounted for already, which means God knows everything about us, and what we will do, and what will happen.
·         If God regards our very hair enough to know their number and tell that to us, He surely will protect us.

31Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
·         Not just sparrows, but many sparrows. No amount of them stacked up compares to how much God loves us.

32“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
·         Much like Romans 10:10, confess here means to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and God, the Son of God.
·         If the Apostles, or anyone they meet profess faith in Jesus He will save them. And if they deny Him and do not want Him then He will do the same to them, and they will have justice.

34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
·         This is quoted from Micah 7:6 “For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.” But look at the promise in the very next verse “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.”
·         In context this looks like it has nothing to do with a prophecy about the Messiah. It’s a confession about the depravity of man. But once that is understood, it makes perfect sense that men, being evil, would oppose God.
·         Jesus brings a sword against our pre-conceived notions of goodness and religion as well.

35For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’
37He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
·         Jesus must be utterly sovereign and supreme or it’s an idol we have set up.
·         Is not worthy has the idea of not being saved because the standard is not met. If we turn down Christ’s offer of righteousness then we have turned down our only hope.

38And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
·         We must put to death the old man or there will be no place for us. Repentance is essential.
·         Criminals carried the cross on their way to be killed. Christ carried His.
·         The idea is that we must endure all shame, scorn, hardship, difficulty, in order to follow Christ and do away with our old life.

39He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
·         And this is the promise that we are not walking toward destruction.

40“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
·         In the larger sense we have the writing of the Apostles means we have the words of Christ.

41He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
·         If we accept by faith the truth, then we get the full reward as if we had lived like that person.
·         If the Apostles were received warmly then they would get a reward as if they were the Apostles themselves. By these three images, it’s clear Gods intent is to bless.
·         When we accept Jesus we are credited with His righteousness. This is expounded further on in the Epistles, how the just live by faith.

42And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
·         The strongest passage so far to declare the goodness of God.
·         The little ones are devoid of wealth, privilege, rank, perhaps even knowledge. They are only giving the most humble things, but because we are all a member of the body of Christ He appreciates the gesture and will remember us.