Bible study group

We will be starting another online Bible study class soon. Please email healingleaf2011@live.com if you would like to join us. Include days and times (morning/evening) that would work best for you and we will send you more information – we would like to accommodate as many as we can.

Spread the word and bring your friends.
Here are a some of the topics we will be covering:

  • How to use the Bible as a ladder
  • Our duty as believers
  • Does God have secrets?
  • What kind of field am I?
  • Who has the right to call God “Father”?
  • Knowledge vs Understanding
  • Figurative Language: Why did Jesus speak in parables?

Looking forward to studying God’s word with you!

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Knowledge vs Understanding

Knowledge and understanding are two totally different things. You can have a lot of knowledge about God’s word, but ultimately still not understand it. How does this work? Well, you can have many verses or passages memorized, or lots of knowledge about the historical facts and stories, but that does not mean that you have true understanding of the Scriptures, it just means you are very knowledgeable.

If I send you an invitation to a party, and the invitation is in a language that you cannot understand, you might be able to recognize that it is Russian, or Chinese, but you won’t be able to understand when, where, and what the details are. Because of this you would not be able to attend the party.

Matthew 22 tells the parable of the Wedding Banquet. There are invitations that are sent out, but those who receive them keep refusing to go to the wedding, saying that they have better things to be looking after and taking care of. Eventually the master says “those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite anyone you can find”, and so the wedding hall was filled. However, when the king arrives he sees a guest who is not wearing wedding clothes. Because of this guests incorrect attire he is thrown outside into the darkness (you can read the whole parable here).

This parable is speaking about the kingdom of heaven (Mt 22:2), clearly those who refused to attend did not truly understand what the invitation was for, and that it was inviting them to the wedding banquet. In Revelation 19 we read about the wedding banquet of the Lamb, and once again there is a dress code. “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear” (Rv 19:8). Are these literal clothes, or do they represent something spiritual? How about the great multitude in Rv 7:1 who are dressed in white robes? And most importantly, what are the robes that need to be washed  in order for us to have the right to the tree of life and entry to the Holy City (Rv 22:14)? We have to understand what these robes or clothes are, otherwise we cannot partake of these blessings, or be part of God’s kingdom.

What is the darkness that the badly dressed guest gets thrown out into? Well, to figure that out we should understand what ‘light’ is? In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Spiritual light is accepting, believing, and understanding Jesus’ words, and so just like darkness is the absence of light, so is spiritual darkness the absence, of accepting, receiving, and believing in the one sent by the Father – not being in the presence of the Light, Jesus. Is this referring to physical nighttime, or is it a spiritual darkness?
How about 1 Thessalonians 5:2?

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet always makes me think of these verses:

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” ~Luke 18:8

Who would Jesus be inviting to the wedding banquet? Only believers, those who ‘deserve’ to come. However we see in the parable in Mt 22 that those who were invited were actually not deserving. Why? Because they clearly didn’t have true understanding, and therefore could not have the correct faith. This verse, like the parable in Mt 22, is referring to the time of the second coming. The question is actually for us…Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth?

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” ~1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Those who thought they were working hard and going about the things that they should have been taking care of, actually ended up losing their ‘spot’ at the wedding banquet. Ultimately those who were foolish, and weak, were used to shame those who thought they were wise and strong.

If we do not understand the spiritual language used in the parables then we cannot truly understand them. We have to understand all the parables clearly, because they contain secrets that have been hidden (Ps 78:2; Mt 13:34-35). What does the lamp, oil, and light represent that the wise virgins had (Mt 25)? How about the sheep and the goats that are separated (Mt 25)? What are the weeds and the wheat, or the good and the bad fish? And how is a mustard seed that grows into a tree with birds perching in its branches like the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13)? We might know all these parables by heart, but do we truly understand them? If we don’t it will be like trying to read an invitation in a foreign language. We won’t understand it, and therefore we won’t be able to attend the party
…or the wedding banquet.

~~~
Have you ever felt inappropriately dressed for a wedding, or any other function?
Have you ever had a fear of the dark?

Being those who are invited and chosen

It is Easter, so what better time to talk about salvation… There are so many misconceptions, and misunderstandings about the Bible, and so many misused verses. They have become so ingrained in us, that even when we see the answer or explanation in God’s word we don’t take note, because that is not what we were told or taught to believe originally.

Salvation is a touchy subject. Everyone has their own thoughts, ideas and opinions, but what does the Bible say about the matter? Shouldn’t God’s word be the only thing we trust and test our beliefs and thoughts against? God and his word should be our only measuring stick. As it says in Isaiah 2:22, “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” We have to have noble hearts like the Bereans, who received the message with great eagerness and then examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true – they checked everything according to God’s word (Acts 17:11).

So what should we understand about salvation? Hebrews 9:28 says,

“so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

At the first coming Jesus was sacrificed to take away the sins of many people, but only when he appears a second time, at the time of the second coming, does he bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The blood of Jesus comes into full effect at the time of his return, when his blood is used to purchase people for God’s kingdom and priests (Rv 5:9-10), and his blood is what we have to wash our robes in to make them white (Rv 7:14; Rv 22:14). Having the correct ‘clothing’ is a requirement to be part of the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Mt 22:1-13), and be the true and ready bride of Christ (Rv 19:7-8).

In Revelation 12:10 it says, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” Here we can see that only after the accuser has been hurled down does salvation come, along with the power and kingdom of God. There is a time and a specific order of events that has to be fulfilled first.

Philippians 2:12 says,

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

Why fear and trembling? Well, there’s the man who made it to the wedding banquet only to be kicked out because he was not wearing the correct wedding clothes (Mt 22:11-13). And how about the weeds and the wheat? They both grow in the same field, but the wheat gets harvested while the weeds are tied in bundles and burned (Mt 13:29-30). And then there is the parable of the net, with the good and bad fish. The good ones are kept, but the bad are thrown away (Mt 13:47-49). In each of these parables we can see that there are those who are kept or harvested, and those who are thrown away, burned, or removed. They all started off in the same place (the field, the sea etc), but only some actually ‘make the cut’ – only some have the correct clothes, are the wheat, or are the good fish. In fact Matthew 22:14 even says, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

We have to make sure that we are doing what is required of us so that we can not only be one of the many who are invited, but also one of the few who are chosen.

~~~
How do you and your family spend Easter Sunday?

Yeast, a matter of life and death…

For me, one of the strangest comparisons in the Bible is in Matthew 13:33, where the kingdom of heaven is compared to a woman mixing yeast into dough. It seems like such a strange way to describe the kingdom of heaven…so why did Jesus use this comparison? What was he trying to teach us through this parable?

Matthew 13:33
“He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

What is the yeast? What is the woman? In order to understand the lesson of this parable we have to understand these things spiritually.

Matthew 16:6-12 [abbrev.]

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? […] How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Physical yeast brings about change in whatever it is mixed into – the fermentation of yeast creates the alcohol in beer, yeast mixed into dough reacts to create bread. But Jesus was speaking spiritually, not physically. The logic of spiritual yeast is the same as that of physical yeast. Spiritually it refers to teachings that bring about change in those who hear and accept it – good or bad, depending on the teachings.

Since  the parable is meant to be understood spiritually, with the yeast being spiritual yeast, surely the woman has to be referring to a spiritual ‘woman’…

Galatians 4:19 says, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” Here Paul is speaking as though he is a woman in the pains of childbirth. Paul had received the spiritual seed (the word) from Jesus, therefore he was in the position of a woman – the one who receives the seed. He then “gave birth” to the believers in Galatia. From this we can understand a spiritual woman to be a teacher or pastor, the one who received the seed and then ‘gives birth’ to believers or congregation members.

The Pharisees would have been spiritual women, however, the disciples were warned to guard against the yeast of the Pharisees (Mt 16:12). This implies there are not only different types of ‘women’ (teachers), but also different types of yeast (teachings), and depending on which teachings you receive, it brings about different types of change.

At the time of the first coming, receiving the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees – the leaders and teachers of the law – led to spiritual death. They belonged to the devil, and spread his lies and false teachings: John 8:44

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

On the flip side, Jesus’ words and teachings gave life: John 6:63

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”


I always knew too much beer and bread was not good for me, but who would have thought that consuming ‘yeast’ could be a matter of life and death…

~~~
From bread baskets to six-packs and everything in between, what is your indulgence (or staple…there’s no judgment here)? I’ll go first…

How many languages do you understand?

As an English speaker, if someone spoke to me in Russian, Spanish, or Chinese and asked me to open the door, or wash the dishes, I would not be able to carry out those actions. Why? Simply becuse I do not understand what is being asked of me.

At the first coming Jesus spoke in parables, using a spiritual language. When he spoke about the kingdom of heaven and described it as a mustard seed growing into the largest of the garden plants with birds perching in its branches, Jesus was clearly not talking about a literal tree, or a literal bird. The same goes for the other parables in Matthew 13. If we do not understand this language how can we do what is being asked of us, so why exactly did Jesus speak so cryptically, using this spiritual language while speaking in parables?
Here are 3 reasons:

#1  Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill prophecy

Psalm 78:1-2 says,

“O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
      I will open my mouth in parables,
     I will utter hidden things, things from of old—”

Asaph wrote this Psalm, it is a prophecy about what would take place later. The fulfillment of this prophecy is shown in Matthew 13:34-35

“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
   “I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

#2  Jesus spoke in parables to hide the secrets of heaven

Matthew 13:10-11 says,

“The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”

Here we see two different groups, the “you” group and the “them” group. The “you” group is referring to the 12 disciples, and those who asked for the explanation of the parables (Mt 13:36), they are the ones who have ears to hear and eyes to see (Mt 13:16). The “them” group are those who “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Mt 13:13-15). The “them” group did not understand about the things that had been hidden since the creation of the world, they did not understand God’s secret wisdom (1 Cor 2:7). You do not share your secrets with people you cannot trust, in the same way Jesus had to hide the secrets of the kingdom of heaven from his enemies – Satan and those who belong to him (Jn 8:44-47).

#3  Jesus spoke in parables because God had designated another time to explain these secrets

John 16:25 says,

“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.”

In the last chapter of the book of Daniel – which is a book of visions and prophecies – Daniel asks for an explanation of all the things he has seen and heard because he has not understood any of it (Dn 12:8). However, in response the angel tells Daniel to go his way because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end (Dn 12:9). This means that only at the “time of the end” will we have the true, correct and complete understanding of the parables and prophecies, only once the words have been unsealed and opened. However, we have been given these prophecies now, before it happens, so that when it does happen we will believe (Jn 14:29).

~~~
How many different languages do you understand?