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Working With Inspired Details

Balaam's donkey?

What are we to make of Jesus’ warning that his Father will turn us over to prison and to torturers until we pay everything we owe if we do not forgive our brother and sister from our heart?  (Matt 18:34-35)

And is there any connection between this statement and the way (one chapter later) Jesus answers the rich man who asked what good thing he could do to inherit eternal life? In that instance, Jesus broke the heart of the young man by telling him to sell all that he had to help the poor  and then to come and follow him (Matt 19:16-22) (Mark 10:17-22).

More importantly is there a connection between these statements and the way Jesus’ public life came to a climax and end?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

1.  Such difficult passages, like so many others in Scripture, come into perspective only as we understand the very nature of the Bible:

2.  The Bible is, above all, the story of Jesus. In that sense, its Divine author, like the author of a well written mystery, wastes no detail while using every word to support the storyline.

3.  The storyline of Jesus’ life comes to a climax in his death and resurrection.

4.  The resulting Gospel connects the dots not only between every detail of the Bible, but also between every detail of our lives.

5.  That Gospel was anticipated in Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), and reveals God not as an angry patriarch, but as a God of love (1John 4:8) (1John 4:16).

6.  This foundational thought leads me to believe that everything Jesus taught, whether to his disciples about forgiveness, or to the rich young man about selling all that he had to give to the poor, is rooted in his love (Mark 10:21).

7.  That means that even God’s anger, as explained by the Father’s attitude toward our refusal to forgive others as we have been forgiven, (Matt 18:34-35) is rooted in his perfect (holy) love.

8.  This is because (1) the Cross of Christ (including Jesus’ life, resurrection, and promise to return) gives perspective to every supporting detail of the Bible (whether in the Old Testament before, or the New Testament that follows)… just as (2) every supporting detail of Jesus’ story gives depth of meaning to the Cross.

9.  Apart from the cross of Christ none of us has any hope  (whether because of lingering unforgiveness toward those who have hurt us (Matt 18:34-35), or because of our obsessive attachment to our material world.

10.  The realization that what Jesus suffered for us is what welcomes us into the kingdom of Christ (now and forever); just as God’s love will, in this life and the life to come, show the losses that follow our lack of love (Matt 18:34-35) (Matt 19:21) (Mark 10:21).

So, in summary, even though we can barely begin to understand how the depth and breadth of such love works, we honor the Bible by realizing that (in behalf of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) (1) it is the story of the Living Word whose life, death, and resurrection put every other detail of the Bible in perspective, just as (2) every other detail of the Bible helps to give depth of meaning to the life, death, and resurrection of the Living Word.

Have tried to boil down a lot of issues into a few words. Will be interested to see how much of this makes sense– or doesn’t– to you.

Note: with this approach, am wondering whether “the torturers”of Matt 18:34-35 might be either (a) the pains of life that our Father uses to expose our lack of love, or (b) the “loving fires” of accountability  (1Cor 3:11-15).

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68 Responses to “Working With Inspired Details”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    I am drawn to the pictures you have Mart of the donkey, am wondering if they are to represent Balaam’s talking donkey or meant to represent man’s stubborn will. Either way both are connected.

    In attending to the concept that every word of scripture is there because the Holy Spirit put them there for a multitude as well as a simple, purpose; I am in total agreement.

    We often speak of the two distinctly different views of the nature of God from the OT to the NT, one being a killer God the other a self sacrificing God, yet both being the same God.

    We need first of all to remember that we are made like Him, even if only a shadow or image, we still possess the base character of our creator. Interestingly all concerning *emotions*, happy, sad, satisfied, unsatisfied, love and yes hate. All these emotions God has shown us are in His character, and we are privileged to also experience them.

    Not perfectly as He can but in part as we have come to experience them in our broken state.

    The story Jesus outlines in Matthew 18: 23-35 gives us a story of fair play. Of what is the right thing to do in such a circumstance in life, this following on the heels of Jesus telling of how to correct a problem between people and furthering the matter to show that what we do in here in this life on earth is also done in heaven and so has far reaching implications (Matthew 18: 7-20).

    The story of forgiveness and our place in it is not as simple as some may think. If someone offends us and we have done no wrong to have received such offence, we are to first try and settle the matter between ourselves and the other. If nothing is resolved by that matter then we must seek people unconnected in order to seek satisfaction and rest in the matter. If that doesn’t resolve the issue then we are to look upon the offender as a heathen and someone not worthy of our being upset over (Matthew 18: 17). Turn the matter over to God and have peace (Matthew 18: 18).

    However if the offender asks for forgiveness we are to forgive without reservation as often as ask (Matthew 18: 22).

    Finally if we ourselves don’t treat others with the same order of forgiveness God has given us, then we face the consequences of having such an unforgiving heart in us, both here on earth as well as in heaven. Heaven here being, in my opinion, the unseen spirit world around us. Allowing for the torment from spiritual beings placed upon us now as a result of unforgiveness.

    Saul was sent just such a tormentor 1 Samuel 16: 14. Forgiveness for Saul was certainly in God’s hands. The great difference now is that through Jesus Christ we can be forgiven of God for our trespasses against Him, but still must deal with other men with the same heart as God giving forgiveness when ask and seeking restitution when not ask, placing the matter upon God when restitution does not come.

    Complicated issues have complicated answers.


  2. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends!

    Every mention you make, Mart, of foundations and accountability in your post today makes me think of who Jesus is. You wrote:

    “This foundational thought (John 3:16) leads me to believe that everything Jesus taught, whether to his disciples about forgiveness, or to the rich young man about selling all that he had to give to the poor, is rooted in his love (Mark 10:21).”

    Love spun the heavenly bodies into place out of the primordial chaos. Love crafted a planet where God’s imagination in diversity of possibilities of life could thrive and grow. I am reading the gospel of John these days – and so my mind and spirit turn to the prime themes of dark/light – chaos/order – unforgiveness/pardon – evil/good. (John 1:3, 4, 5)

    It seems everything is rooted in his love – or else it does not partake of his eternal life. Those who are alive are accountable to share this life. Nothing else matters materially or spiritually – ethically or morally.



  3. oneg2dblu says:

    Good morning all… Here’s my simple take, or my give if you will. Love equals accountability, and His Love equals His Accountability.
    If one is not held accountable to Him who is love, then one can not love as He loves! Gary

  4. yooperjack says:

    Mart: It goes back to the question I asked two or three times and no one responded. Why did God in the OT have them stone evil people to death and have them kill Achan and his family in the valley of Achor including men, women and even the children? That had to be a bloody mess I get sick just writing about it. Was that anger without sinning? Where is the loving forgiveness there?

    Is not our God the same today, yesterday and forever? Is what Achan did any worse than some of the satanic influenced things people are doing to children today? Why is God silent today? Where are those Guardian Angels that watch over these precious little children?

    I no how to forgive been there done that and I know why God did what He had to do in the OT. If you know the answer it will set you free. I can give you the answer if you’re willing to give it some thought and discussion first. This is getting to the root of forgiveness not just talk, talk is cheap. If we can understand this question we can understand love and forgiveness.

  5. yooperjack says:

    If we can understand and answer this question we can understand love and forgiveness.

  6. fadingman says:

    Lately I’ve been thinking of God’s attributes as dividable into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’. The primary attributes are His root characteristics, and the secondary are how they manifest themselves. Righteousness and love are primary attributes. Wrath, grace, and mercy are secondary, i.e. how His primary attributes are expressed to us under various conditions.

    Because He is righteous, God gets angry when He encounters sin. Because He is loving, He shows mercy and grace to those in need.

    I understand God’s holiness as the degree to which He is true to all His attributes. He will not compromise His character in any way.

    I have understood this as meaning He will not compromise with things that oppose His character (i.e. sin). But as I write this, it occurs to me that His character attributes will not compromise with each another. For example, there is harmony between His righteousness and His love; they don’t ever conflict.

    To us it appears righteousness and love cannot always be reconciled. However they both come fully together in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. The cross really is the key to understanding those difficult scriptures.

  7. poohpity says:

    Mart again a very convicting topic. God has every right to help us to see our lack of love and to hold us accountable for not showing it and I need to look a little closer behind the motives for the actions I take. Love is seeking the best for the other person and sin is causing harm to self and others.

    When Jesus confronted the rich young ruler to do a little more self evaluation or even the one in debtors prison, I wonder if they truly understood better their need for saving grace and forgiveness of Jesus?

  8. yooperjack says:

    Mart: Step out in faith and hear a new revilation. Give the go a head on my first post today.

  9. poohpity says:

    Well Jack you asked the questions then said you already knew the answers. So it would be like the spider asking the fly why it does not come into it’s web. Proverbs 18:2 NIV

  10. yooperjack says:

    Poohpity: Be nice. Practice what you preach.

  11. yooperjack says:

    If I give the answer there would be no disscution. You don’t even know the answer and your the queen Bee.

  12. yooperjack says:

    That is discussion and “Queen Bee”. I was writing too fast.

  13. foreverblessed says:

    Thank you fadingman, the cross is the section where everything crosses.
    (Yooperjack, there is an answer in the last topic)

  14. yooperjack says:

    foreverblessed: The one about the sprinkling of blood is for forgivness but doesn’t answer why God had to have so many people killed.

  15. foreverblessed says:

    On second thought, there are still many many people killed after Christ. What to think of the millions that died in the big plague in the 14th century. What about the millions who died in the Sovjet during after the revolution? they say, 20 million. But this is Mart’s blog, so why not go to where Mart has gone. The cross answers many things. The cross is so unbelievable, we deserved the punishment, but Jesus took it upon Himself. So if we have been freed from our own punishment, how can we demand that another deserves his punishment while we ourselves go free from it? I am off to bed, so no more from me today, have a blessed evening, and a good night.

  16. yooperjack says:

    Poohpity: being you like to quote Proverbs here are two that you can read while looking in the mirror. Proverbs 20:3 and 29:11 NIV

    Just a thought.

  17. poohpity says:

    Proverbs 26:4 NIV

  18. poohpity says:

    The proverb I quoted earlier was for myself, not directed at you. It was better for me to not give my opinion when that was not the topic we were given to discuss, it was changed by YOU to what YOU wanted to discuss so I was not going there.

  19. yooperjack says:

    Poohpity: But it is on topic it’s about God’s anger and forgiveness #7.If you don’t get to the root of a topic you’ll never understand it fully.

    I’ve seen discussions on T.V. where very smart people say our God is a killer in the OT and they would not want a God with such anger. I knew he was wrong but didn’t know why till I got this revelation. One even said: “what God would kill His own Son?” What do you say to them? They do not understand how God changed our livies. This is what we’re up against today, it’s no game.

  20. poohpity says:

    Jack, I wouldn’t say anything to anybody who already has their mind made up and formed their opinion from a lack of knowledge and understanding. I fully believe that God does not need me to defend Him in anyway that is not what He has given me to do and only causes problems and strife in a already troubled world. I trust God! Just look what happens when I try and get you to stop putting me down, changing the topic and name calling, does it work? No it only causes you to come back at me and hurt me more. So please do not reply to anything I write any longer and I will do the same towards you, please.

  21. narrowpathseeker says:

    I have two questions pertaining to two of the scriptures referred to in this topic. Both will expose my ignorance but I have never understood, “Why did Jesus say He wasn’t good?”. I have also wondered about the rich ruler selling ALL that he had to give to the poor. How does this apply to us?…ALL…is the part that confuses me. Thanks

  22. yooperjack says:

    WOW poohpity where that come from? You can hand out the insults but can’t take em. And I’ve been nice to you. I will not address you again. It’s a shame though I was having so much fun.

  23. yooperjack says:

    Narrow: I’ll take a crack at it. I think Jesus was refering to man kind as not being good not Himself. He said why do you call me good, only My Father is good. The first part was a question. The last part was the answer. He didn’t really say He was not good.

    As far as the rich man. When we go in the Army the boot drill sargant will tell us you no longer belong to you, you belong to me or the Army. It doesn’t matter how rich you where when you go in the Army you own nothing while you serve. They tell you when to eat,sleep ect.

    This is my idea of what they mean in a nut shell.

  24. yooperjack says:

    Narrow: that’s what Jesus was saying you will belong to me or don’t sign up.

  25. yooperjack says:

    Mart: After the fall Genesis chapter 3 mans heart and spirit where so hard that he became evil there was no good in him. We can’t even comprehend how much God hates evil and sin and this angered God. He made provisions for forgiveness by killing animals if they could afford the animals to kill. When people did evil things like all the things they were stoned for in the OT God had to order that person killed because like cancer will kill a person or the black plague would have killed everybody on earth. The only way to stop their sinful nature was to kill it. They’re sin would have destroyed the Nation of Isreal if God didn’t kill them. Does this sound familiar, look around you today?

    What is the difference today, read Ezekiel 36: 26-27. Because of the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus we “all” can be *born again* with a new spirit and a new heart. That old sinful nature is gone we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. In the OT they had no way of being born again.

    God is not mad at us anymore, read Luke 2: 14 this is peace and goodwill between God and man. The penalty for sin has been paid in full by the blood of the lamb. No more stoning people to death necessary. We still have to deal with the flesh but not the sin nature.

    In the end God will have to kill all that do not repent and become born again; there will be no sinful nature in Heaven. Revelation 11:18 and 21:8 He will have no pleasure in doing it because He said He didn’t want anyone to parish.

    God hasn’t changed He is always loving and forgiving. But because of freewill we have to invite Him into our lives.

  26. yooperjack says:

    Mart: I may have been speaking to the wrong choir the last 3 month. It’s been fun.

  27. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Mart asked what is the connection between God turning over the unmerciful servant to the jailer until he could forgive his brother from his heart, Matt 18:34-35, and the rich young ruler who was unable to do what Jesus asked of him and give up everything he had. Matt 19:21-22.

    In order for the unmerciful servant to escape the jailer, he must forgive the brother the debt that he believes he is owed. In other words, he must give up what he feels is rightfully his. He has to let it go. The rich young ruler is asked to give up what is rightfully his. He is asked to let it go, and he can’t.

    Like narrowpathseeker, I wonder what Jesus meant by giving ALL to the poor. I mainly wonder about that because no one seems to take that verse literally. They always say Jesus meant give up control of your life (while keeping most of your money.)

    One thing I have noticed is that Jesus didn’t actually tell him he must do it, He said, “if you want to be perfect.” But I think we know there is only One who was ever perfect. If anyone could attain perfection, they wouldn’t be in need of a Savior.

    I still don’t know what Jesus meant exactly, but the impression I get is the ruler was thinking that Jesus was a “good teacher” but not God, and that he (the ruler) was somehow good enough to earn heaven on his own merit.

    And I don’t think I was able to make a very good connection; still thinking about that.

  28. s2inkzoo says:

    As far as the Rich Young ruler, I have thought Jesus was peering into his heart and seeing what he was really lacking, which was giving up his reliance on the money and trusting in God. May have also been having greater compassion for the poor and going beyond just giving his surplus. I don’t think it was meant as a directive that everyone should sell what they have and give it all to the poor. However, it does challenge me on how do I think of those in need. Do I rationalize when I see that they may have had a big part in their situation, or do I have mercy and compassion, even if it is a sacrifice to me?

    On the question of the torturers, I have thought about it as the pains of life as God withdraws his protection, but in love, not out of “punishment”. In the parable, the the rich man kept the first servant from incurring the outcome of his actions — until the first servant showed no mercy on a fellow servant.

    Reminds me of the time when I was driving along at dawn and thought I should slow down because there may be deer in the area. Then I thought — “God protects me” (and didn’t slow down) and felt good that God is a God of protection. Later I was convicted that I shouldn’t take God for granted like that. That evening, I hit a deer (I wasn’t speeding or distracted). I hit two more deer that year, even though I was being careful. I have not hit a deer since. I don’t think God was punishing me, just showing me how much he protects me in ways I never even realize.

  29. Regina says:

    Good Evening All,

    Hope all is well with you. Just dropped in to say hello, and I’m looking forward to chatting with you soon. Had a long day today, and getting ready to prepare for bed.

    Sunny and cool in Texas today (50 degrees).

    Love to all…

  30. remarutho says:

    Mart and Friends –

    God’s long story with the people he created is given to us in Scripture so we may understand who made us. The problem of our fallen human nature has been on the Father’s heart all these millennia. Jesus is God squeezed into a single human life – sent in the most profound love to bring as many as possible back home to that love by faith – now the firstborn into new resurrection life forever. (1 Thess 2:13)

    E. Stanley Jones writes:
    The Old Testament gives us the Law.
    Jesus Christ gives us Life.
    The Holy Spirit gives us Liberty.

    God in Christ calls us to hold every material possession lightly, but every person as precious and loved by him. Generosity and forgiveness are hallmarks of God’s presence – Emmanuel, the indwelling Spirit. Every detail of life comes under Christ’s lordship. (Romans 8:2) Everything is infused, inspired and transformed by his life.


  31. foreverblessed says:

    thank you Maru, especially that every detail of life is of great importance to Jesus, just to think of that, how important I am to Him, and all of us!
    THat Jesus told us Matt 18:34-35, is maybe not something that God does actively as in punishing us, but is more something that just happens, as the Holy Spirit is not a force that is stagnant, but is always flowing through us. It comes in us because of God great mercy, it is mercy that makes it go, but if I am not merciful to my fellow man, it cannot flow from me to the other, so it is blocked, and there comes the problems.
    And narrow, thanks for bringing this, but you bring this as if it is totally new, which it isn’t, sorry for not being a cooperating class for you. But keep posting, and don’t get irritated by some other participants. Face your irritation, and do someting with it, (just an advice from someone who has to learn that too.)

  32. s2inkzoo says:

    I am wondering, do the “loving fires” of accountability (1Cor 3:11-15) refer to something that happens in this world, or beyond this world, or both? Matthew 7:24-27 seems to point to this life, but Matthew 6:1-4 seem to show how some “righteous” acts done not from the Spirit would not be counted.

    I am asking, because I had not really thought about this before.

  33. SFDBWV says:

    This subject has many directions; two separate quotes one concerning forgiveness the other concerning possessiveness.

    Then Mart gives us 10 detailed thoughts of his own with a summation.

    For the sake of discussion let me first say that the purpose of the Bible is to inform the lost and ignorant world of mankind about God as well as explaining the questions of origin and giving a glimpse of where we are all headed.

    Let us look at what a world may look like without Christ.

    The intelligent among us learn quickly how to rule over the ignorant. It isn’t even so much as the strong overpowering the weak, but the wise knowing how to use the strong in order to achieve their will.

    There is no fair play and no wrong in winning out over another by any means possible, this would only be seen as knowing how to survive successfully.

    There is no eternal accountability.

    However, because we have a Bible we have learned from the very beginning that there is a higher authority than the rulers of this world. We already *feel* it in our spirits and is why mankind has invented gods and mythology in order to attempt to satisfy that longing in us.

    In fact believing in such mysticism is looked at by the *intelligent* among us as a weakness.

    I think it very ironic that in the beginning God did not want man to know the difference between good and evil, yet the Bible is all about telling and teaching us what is considered good and evil from the perspective of God. With eternal consequences for not following the course of good doing in favor of being an *evil doer*.

    God using His written word to the smallest of detail, has used the two stories Mart has given us to explain the difference between doing good and doing evil in these circumstances, and what the eternal consequences may be from deciding which decision to make.

    Every detail about following Christ is the same, every detail about our relationship with each other is also the same, but every circumstance in doing so may be different. So the Bible gives us various stories from which we may learn from.

    That is if we believe, and want to know the difference between *good and evil*.

    Winter has returned to the mountains of West Virginia, 22 degrees and snow this morning.


  34. SFDBWV says:

    Narrowpathseeker, I have read many opinions of other students of scripture that the rich young man mentioned in Marts opening quotes may have actually been the Apostle Mark.

    There is no way of knowing this for sure at this time, but it does add a little quirk to the story.

    Studying scripture also provides us with the wisdom of how to become wealthy both in this world and the world to come, so it seems obvious to me that what Jesus is saying that we need to have a heart that gives up our own desires and will in order to see His desires and will achieved.

    Again using the story of Abraham and Isaac as an example of how God does not necessarily want us to lose things just be willing to, in obedience to Him.


  35. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Mart, you have asked:

    “More importantly is there a connection between these statements and the way Jesus’ public life came to a climax and end?

    In Mark 10:17-22 and Matt 19:16-22, giving away all he owned would separate the man from the love of those things and make him completely dependent upon the Lord Jesus. Such extravagant giving would also make him more like Jesus, Isn’t that what the Lord did for everyone — extravagantly pour out his divine life blood for our sins?

    What greater love is there than the love God lavishes upon us in our fallen state? (1 John 4:16) Christ came for this passionate outpouring of love. (Romans 5:8, 9, 10) There was no other plan.


  36. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… the tree of good and evil could not be eaten from without disobedience taking place first. Without disobedience there is no evil. Christ was without disobedience. All other humanity however, is born into a spirit or nature possessing disobedience as their default position. The entire bible shows us our default, and how to escape/delete it! The button we get to apply to this is command is labeled control. That is when we give God His proper position to ours, we then can hit Alt/Ctrl/Esc and find we are free at last of the design of man over God, or evil over good! A more modern take perhaps, but the application is as valid as the garden, disobedience is always evil, but there is an alternative position. Praise God we do not have to operate in our default. Gary

  37. oneg2dblu says:

    If we consider our most valued possession as the one thing that makes us wealthy or rich beyond belief, it is our new life, our softened hard, our ability to see Jesus as Lord! The rich young man did not have anything but his worldly possessions showing, he failed to see the poor around him. He may have kept all the Commandments as he saw them, but did he ever share his God, or what should have been his most valued possession with others? In that light, perhaps his worldly possessions took first place, or held his focus, making him blind to the real poor that Jesus was speaking of, the one’s who are without seeing, the one’s who do not know who God is! The rich young man went away poor, and blinded by all he possessed in this world that he focused on. Just a thought…

  38. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… my heart goes out to you this morning, seeing that you have taken a position born out of some circumstances beyond your control. May I nudge you a bit? May I bring you back a step? Give it up to the one who heals all concerns, pales all contentions, and brings us rest. He gives us peace and joy beyond description. He knows your heart. In His Love, Gary

  39. SFDBWV says:

    Gary, thank you, you have opened up another direction for thinking about the matter of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    On the third day of creation God ordered the earth to bring forth grass and herbs and trees and fruit and said it was *good* (Genesis 1: 11-13). Interesting is that in Genesis 2: 8 He plants a garden and puts the man He had formed in it. All the earth was teeming with animal and plant life, yet God *planted* separate and special garden in the midst of the whole of the earth, included the tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and then places Adam in it.

    Why was the forbidden tree there in the first place, why was the serpent there? Why the tree of life?

    I get why the rest of the world didn’t have these two very special trees growing everywhere in the earth. However having them there in this very special place with Adam makes me wonder was it God’s intention to test Adam? To give him a choice between eternal life without sin, or sin with the consequences of eternal life separated from God and knowing what he had done to deserve it?

    Thank you Gary for the little mental exercise this morning, I do enjoy our walks through the Word and always hope to glean some new revelation each time.


  40. remarutho says:

    Even the fallen heart has a couple of choices, though no freedom ’til Jesus enters in. He at the door. After the trumpet blows, he will reopen Paradise.


    PS I miss you as well, Pooh! You are loved! See how even Gary and I are agreeing? Isn’t that good?

  41. mtman says:

    It seems that Jesus was pointing out that it is not easy to be a follower in his comment to the rich young man. You may do much right but you have not sacrificed anything yet like your worldly possessions. He gave him a choice between completing his perfection by giving up his earthly possessions for a more complete life. He gave him a choice.
    Trying to put two separate and unrelated comments together when focusing on the cross, death and Resurrection, is like standing in a bucket and trying to lift yourself with the handles. (from Winston Churchill). Did not the widow put in all she had into the collection box -her last penny. Was not Jesus pointing out that he was not good (because he had not endured the cross and risen yet) but pointing the way to His Father who is good?
    It is like trying to do a paint by the numbers painting with only one color. Each and every segment of the bible is a small portion that if taken in context leads you to the next and then the next until you start to see the entire picture in all its color.
    Once you start to see the entire picture you – much like the rich young man – have a choice. You either accept who Jesus is or you don’t. You can’t have a foot in both camps. Many seem to try to do that not wanting to give up their trust in earthly things. If you turn your life over to the Lord and follow those many examples contained about his separate and individual teaching and His earthly life you can only end up loving him more and want to do what he has commanded his followers to do. The door to heaven is narrow he tells us. You either stand inside or outside, but straddling the threshold is not an option.
    I think it is alarming to take two separate comments and put them together to draw a conclusion when there are so many small parts that contribute to ones belief. Did he know that Lazarus was dead before he went to him? He alone knew what he was doing, and therein lies a key ingredient. We don’t always have to know – we need to obey and follow and trust HIM.
    While a single sentence may speak to some it is the continued reading of the bible and seeing where all those single sentences take you that points the correct way. Just my thoughts.

  42. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… perhaps Adam did not have to live by any faith, or tested faith, as he only took things for granted. That tree may represent the first faith test. Our tree of testing is ever present and right in the middle of all things for us as well with cunnig serpents all around, shining apples everywhere. We who walk by faith tested, have a different walk, then those who have none. Been there, done that, comes to mind. So, the planting of that tree, and the planting of that seed of faith in us, may be the same, but, without the testing, who knows? “Faith that is not tested can not be trusted.” Just a thought, Gary

  43. oneg2dblu says:

    mtman… great picture in that paint by numbers. The rich man had done so very well staying perfectly within the lines. But like all well colored paintins, to have the true spectrum of light displayed it must use all three of primary colors, a trinity if you will, that is what it takes to complete the entire picture as nothing else can. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit combined, completes the picture of the bible. Just staying within the lines may have its merit, but also has its limits as well. Gary

  44. remarutho says:

    Hello MT –
    You wrote:

    “Once you start to see the entire picture you – much like the rich young man – have a choice. You either accept who Jesus is or you don’t. You can’t have a foot in both camps. Many seem to try to do that not wanting to give up their trust in earthly things.”

    It seems to me “who Jesus is” remains the point. The apostle Paul asked the leaders in Corinth, “Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? (2 Cor 1:17) He goes on to say that in Christ “every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’” Christ is the affirmation of all God is. That is a lot – in him are all things. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

    When the worldly one begins to follow Jesus, (s)he needs the Word – both the Scriptures and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. There is no hedging the risk of choice – just full devotion.


  45. foreverblessed says:

    Forsaking all, the story of Franciscus of Assisi (1182-1226) is interesting to read. He denounced all possessions, didn’t even want that his followers had s roof to sleep under. Terrible. They prayed in little closets, and then went out begging for food. In the 13th century bands of “poor holy” people raided the land, these bands demanded food from the cities, no humble begging, but as they got more despaired in their hunger they became an dagerous threat.
    Paul’s admonition would be apprpopriate:
    2 Thess 3:6,7,8,9
    I urge such people to settle down and earn the bread they eat, v12
    Also Ephesians 4:28
    So after Jesus left earth and the Holy Spirit gave more instructions, this is what these verses are the instructions for christians in general.

  46. foreverblessed says:

    Sorry for the poor spelling
    A roof to sleep under,
    a daNgerous threat
    The Holy Spirit gave more instructions after Jesus had left and these verse of Paul give a better insight. Nothing about forsaking all literally to the body of christians, but rather to sttle down and earn a living so that we are able to share with others what we have.
    Are we willing to share?
    Maybe God would tell someone here and there to forsake all literally, like Corrie ten Boom, she had no home, and traveled from one place to the other, sleeping in christian homes as she was invited, she was an apostle.

  47. poohpity says:

    Working with the Inspired details of scripture I learned while reading the OT that every thing that God pointed out as sin was punishable my death but I also read of each of the sacrifices that could be given when a person admitted openly that they had sinned and if they brought their sacrifice along with confession that sin could be forgiven and an atonement was made for it with an animal of some shorts, grain, birds or others. Only when a person tried to hide their sin were their dire consequences.

    Push through to the NT and the same is seen there except for Jesus was that final sacrifice and atonement for the sins of those who CONFESSED them. So Mart, I see how important exposure of our human state can be because if we do not see how our hearts truly are then as the parable of the man who was put into debtors prison and forgiven much went out and rather than being thankful for what he was forgiven decided to hold others accountable for their debt.

    It seems the rich man did not want to know what it would take to follow Jesus he wanted to be perfect and rather than accepting that he may have flaws and look to Jesus he went away saddened.

    It seems by the details that we have in scripture if we are wise enough we will admit to our flaws then we are forgiven. Through reading the scripture we have an opportunity to see much of the things we struggle with in the lives of those written about and that helps us to admit to the areas we fall short and the debt payed for us. Humility is achieved by admitting to what the Lord exposes in each of our hearts because He already knows what is in there.

    Some have said how sad it would be for nonbelievers to come on this site and see all the flaws we display and I would say good because then they will see we still struggle with sin but we can admit them and know that God will forgive us. We can not keep secrets from God and that is the only One we need to impress and we impressed Him so much He decided to die for our sins.

    ODB today was so fitting.

  48. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Well said, Pooh. And you’re right about today’s ODB. It was great.

    Lots of interesting comments have been made by all. I have seen the story of the rich young ruler in different facets that I hadn’t thought of before.

    Not to mention the question: why was there a tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden? That really makes one think.

  49. poohpity says:

    tracey, we can try and assume the answer as to why the tree was there or see mans feeble attempt at wanting to be like God and eating from it. Genesis 3:5 If we do not want to bother with knowing what God knows we would have never hidden from Him. Now that we know the difference between good and evil does it prevent us from doing it, no. It does however help us to more fully understand that we can never be like God and need Jesus to help us so we do not hide from Him. I think in trying to assume the reason for things rather than excepting the details we have been given our minds wander from the things that expose the lack of love and forgiveness in what we do know and understanding the facts in other areas we do know. We will never understand God and the reasons behind things if we can not even admit things in our own lives that show how much what Jesus’, life, death and resurrection really mean.

  50. poohpity says:

    While trying to figure out why the tree was there we miss the fact that no one took responsibility for their own behavior they blamed each other and the snake and God for even putting it there. Satan loves to take our minds off the things we do know to try and figure out the things we do not know or may never know while we are on this earth. It prevents us from accepting responsibility and the need we all have for trusting God, not trying to figure Him out but to just believe in what He says.

  51. abraham99 says:

    Hi Yooperjack, regarding Achan in your posting.
    For what it’s worth, I believe that the lesson here is that the Israelites were instucted to be a Holy people and one with God especially when it came to war; but Achan sinned; they lost the presence of God by trusting in themselves. They ate from the tree of knowledge (independant of God) instead of the Tree of Life (dependant on God)and so they were punished by ‘cutting off’. This is a typography of how we are to behave today otherwise we too will suffer by being cut off. If we are truly saved then we will live the MOMENTS of our life in obedience to God and we can only do this when we are soley dependant on Him. It truly is a narrow path and few find it.

  52. bill34sl says:

    If a person cannot forgive at all, how can he/she be a Christian? Jesus warned that such a person would be in the torturers’ hands for as long as he/she will not repent of that attitude. Only by becoming forgiving that he/she will be able to pay out his/her debt and get free. If not, then the Bible says at the end of the Millenium, he/she will be resurrected to damnation and will be cast into a fiery lake. That’s the final torturer.

    About the rich young man, Jesus already knew what was in the heart of this young fellow. Wonder why Jesus started asking him if he follows the 5th up to the 10th commandment? Because this man would fail miserably if Jesus asked him if he follows the 1st up to the 3rd commandments, and it would be embarrassing for the guy. Matthew 6:24 says one can only either serve God or money, not both. Obviously, the rich man has his heart set on his money. If that man did not repent, then he would end up in the place of the “final torturers”. I agree that Matthew 18:34-35 can also mean the lack of blessings “Christians” suffers for being unforgiving. Until they repent of that kind of attitude they will be in “the torturers” hands.

    1Cor. 3:11-15 speaks of the fiery test for our works as Christians. We are saved by grace thru our faith/belief, but wait there’s more. Our works will earn us rewards. If our works were directed by the Spirit, then no doubt they will pass the fiery test, if not, then they will be like stubbles, but we will still be saved anyways, only without rewards.

  53. oneg2dblu says:

    Salvation, or the work of the cross, is the greatest reward we will ever know. As for as our works after our initial salvation, they to me are the blessing of service that God allows in our life. They are also a reward given now to any who will build upon that which he has already received. Lest we strive for the heavenly hierarchy which I believe is already established, not earned. Can I live below God’s best for me? Yes! Can I live above God’s best for me? No!
    So, I don’t regard rewards as a place of becoming, as much as to be all we can be in the here and now, serving where God has placed us. That is the reward! IMHO Gary

  54. poohpity says:

    Wow, Gary!! Amen!!

  55. poohpity says:

    Where did that come from?

  56. saled says:

    In (2) near the end of Mart’s post, he says that every detail of the Bible helps to give depth of meaning to the life, death, and resurrection of the Living Word.

    As I was reading in Numbers tonight, I came across the part where God orders the Israelites to put anyone with leprosy outside the camp so they would not defile the place where God dwelt among them. Luke 5:12+13 shows Jesus reaching out,touching,and healing a leper. Was being put outside the camp rooted in God’s love? Will those who lived and died so long before the cross know the joy of the leper in Luke 5? The story in Numbers does give depth of meaning to the story of Jesus touching the leper.

  57. Mart De Haan says:

    Tried to respond to a number of comments this morning but was having the problem of getting a comment to go through. Steve from WV was having that problem a couple of weeks ago. Looks like I can finally get back in. Will try to respond in a bit more detail soon. Thanks to all for adding so much to the discussion

  58. phpatato says:

    Matt 18:35

    I’ve been thinking about the last part of that verse…” if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

    Why didn’t Jesus just say “…if you do not forgive your brother.” Why did he add those words “from your heart”.

    How often are the words “I’m sorry forgive me” said that are simply just that…words only, empty and void of any feeling. Spoken only because it seems expected of you.

    On the other hand, how often are the words “you’re forgiven” said that are simply just that…words only, empty and void of any feeling. Spoken only because it seems expected of you.

    Would this mean then that because God knows the state of our hearts, and knows whether we mean what we say, that if we don’t forgive (or ask for forgiveness) from the bottom of our hearts – or to put real meaning behind the “I’m sorry” or “You’re forgiven” – that He “will turn us over to prison and to torturers until we pay everything we owe”??

    Seems to me that empty words don’t hold much weight in God’s eyes. It’s like not saying anything at all.

    Just beenthinking.

  59. SFDBWV says:

    Pat how very true are the thoughts of your last comment. Empty words don’t mean much to God nor to any of the rest of us who know them to be empty.

    If we are really repentant we cease the offence however if we are just uttering babble the offence continues.

    Clearly once again Jesus charges us to remain steadfast in forgiving even such a person as often as they ask, showing us to have the proper attitude/heart regardless of the heart of the offender.

    Jackie, please don’t discontinue sharing with us here. If you let someone run you off, only your voice is silenced, and I for one appreciated your presence here.


  60. oneg2dblu says:

    Words are of the mouth, but heart felt change is of God.
    Anyone can read John 3;16 and say they believe it, but God has to change them from the inside or are they only words spoken, as in the Sinner’s Prayer and not change felt in the sinner’s heart!
    There is a passage in John that says you can not go on sinning and know Christ. There is another passage that says if you really love and follow Christ, you will obey His commands.
    In our continued exchange here, through our words only
    do we show our heart as only words can. Over time, we get a sense of who we are hearing even without seeing them.
    But, Our Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Does God speak through another’s words if that person shuts themselves off? Or, has some other person, place or thing taken or given them up?
    God does the changing work in us even as we hear ourselves and others expressed here.
    He gives us voice; we can do what we want with it, or what He wants with it.
    We can socialize, harmonize, or teach and preach to others with every intention, or without even knowing, but if we do not continue here, then both our thoughts and His contribution through them, are__________. We have not returned here to only find a blank page! Praise God! Gary

  61. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & All –

    Mart, we have been speaking of the door, the narrow gate, the Way, Christ. You wrote:

    10. The realization that what Jesus suffered for us is what welcomes us into the kingdom of Christ (now and forever); just as God’s love will, in this life and the life to come, show the losses that follow our lack of love (Matt 18:34-35) (Matt 19:21) (Mark 10:21).

    It seems to me when we teach the wrath, raw primordial power and the “breaking out” (Exodus 19:21, 22) of God — resulting in loss — without speaking of his favor, reconciliation, mercy and kingdom community –- resulting in salvation — we offer a distorted picture of the Creator of the universe. God is holy and God is love. God said: “…sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy…” (Leviticus 11:44)

    God does not want me for a fair-weather friend. He wants me on my face in awe of him – daily searching the Scriptures to know him better – offering him my true inward motives and thoughts (Psalm 51:6). He wants me living my life so that there is time to tell others about his holy love.

    When a fellow BTA commenter rants and accuses, I cannot agree & arguing is fruitless. We enter a public forum here — and I pray we bring at least civility, if not the grace of God to one another and all who stop by to see what’s being said. It seems to me all voices are welcome here, even mine.


  62. mtman says:

    Mart said: “9. Apart from the cross of Christ none of us has any hope (whether because of lingering unforgiveness toward those who have hurt us (Matt 18:34-35), or because of our obsessive attachment to our material world”.

    I think most of the numerous points can be summed up in this particular point. I may have changed obsessive to compulsive but the end result is the same. Many of us are so caught up in worldly things that we are consumed by them and forget the cross that bought us in the first place. Every time we sin we put Jesus back up on that cross. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do. In fact it may be one of the hardest things we ever do. Especially when those that hurt us keep right on doing so.
    Making that transition from our Lord hanging on the cross forgiving those who put him there to doing the same with another person who seems unforgivable is very hard to do. We are told to do it however and I conclude it is not for that person but for us. Some people hurt so deeply that we often can’t forgive them. It is then wise to admit to same and ask Jesus to forgive them for us because we are unable to ourselves.
    As I once was told by a wise old Christian that a group of Christians is like a washing machine. There is always an agitator in the middle. Once recognized that can be used to think and grow also.

  63. narrowpathseeker says:

    What an incredible hearty feast I found set before me this morning as I read through the newest comments. Each had individual merit which complemented each of the others. I think the chefs all served from a heart for God…like Gary said, after awhile we get a sense of who we’re hearing.

    Thank you Steve, Jack, ALL…. for addressing my concerns about the rich ruler. Although I share with the less fortunate I often wonder if I share enough…when while having little, I still have so much more than so many. I am still troubled by the “None are good but the Father” even though some have made good points, it hasn’t as yet settled the stirring in that pot which has been on the back burner for years.

  64. SFDBWV says:

    Acts 26: 24, here Festus accuses Paul of spending too much time studying, that it has made him insane.

    Whereas I know the heart of the afore mentioned scripture, I sometimes relate to the matter that too much studying of a matter sometimes only reveals more questions than answers and can cause me to be a little*mad* myself.

    In looking at God in the OT we see a being that has created all things that we know to exist. This includes each one of us and our ability to think and reason. God shows us that in the beginning after every *natural* thing in all creation was established; man was formed and given life from the very breath of God Himself. (Genesis 2: 7)

    As much as the followers of Darwin would like to relate us to animals, we are not. Of all of the creation the Author of scripture wanted you and I to know that our very life force comes from the very breath of our Creator.

    Though many among us behave as if they have no thought process outside of their creature comfort or next meal, we have the God given ability to ask why and wonder beyond what we know.

    It is this ability that causes us to digest each and every word of God and seek to see if there is more substance hidden beyond the outward appearance of what is said.

    All of our sins has its beginnings there at the tree in the garden, whether it be unforgiveness or possessiveness, all are still making a conscious decision to obey God or to give in to ours.

    With the same consequence, one offering life the other death.

    This has not changed from the OT to the NT nor has God changed from the OT to the NT.

    Our observations of Him may cause us to see a Father who must be stern with His children for their own good, but we also see a Father who is willing to do all He can in order to make a way for forgiveness…..With eternal consequences we may not yet fully understand. Still only thinking of our own good God will go the distance and wants us to also.

    13 degrees and bright blue skies, the birds are singing and life goes on here in the mountains this morning. I hope where ever you are you are blessed today.


  65. bill34sl says:

    Yooperjack, I used to have a problem too understanding a “killer” God in the OT. But if you have noticed, most of the “killing” punishments were among the Israelites only. Why? Because He was dealing with them primarily, He laid a covenant with them, not with the Philistines, not with the Moabites, not with the Syrians. The Gentiles will have their time. Even so, everyone who decided to embrace the OT among the Gentiles at that time were very much welcomed. Rahab of the Philistine, Ruth of Moab, and Naaman of Syria all found blessings by having faith in the God of the OT.

    When God laid the Old Covenant with the Israelites, He wanted to show them that it was a very serious matter and God’s reputation as a perfect God was at stake. Perfect in one sense that no single wickedness is to be tolerated in His kingdom. God’s standards are very high. That’s the reason why he commanded the “execution” of those who will oppose His standards, making Him looked like He was a mean God. But like I said, that was to show the Israelites and the neighboring nations that He was very serious in eliminating all kinds of wickedness in His domain. On the other hand, He also wanted to show the Israelites and the nations round about the abundant blessings people will enjoy by living according to His statutes.

    All the “killing punishments” that happened among the ancient Israelites, senseless as they might appear were nothing when we come to realize that God will RESSURECT ONCE AGAIN ALL Israelites in the not so distant future. Read the whole chapter of Ezekiel 37 NKJV. Their bones will have flesh again, then skin will cover UP the flesh and God will breathe life on them. Also those scattered in all nations will be brought back to their land Israel. Then the amazing thing will God do: He will put His Spirit in ALL of them and they will not be the same as before. Something He did not do in the OT but He did in our time (NT). Finally, He will renew His covenant with them and all Israel will live in their land forever. This is clearly not speaking of the Gentiles or the Church.

    My apologies to the rest for being off topic.

  66. SFDBWV says:

    Many years ago a Sunday school teacher in our young adult class said “surely no one here believes that God kills people”.

    While everyone else sat silent afraid to say anything, as has been my curse my entire life I pointed out Genesis 6:7, Genesis 6: 17, and Genesis 7: 4. I also pointed out Exodus 11: 4 including Exodus 11: 10 whereas God made certain Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by He Himself.

    My Sunday school teacher was angry with me, made grumbling noises and the next week had moved on from the class to teach the senior class, I don’t remember his ever talking to me again, even to this day.

    Some people can only see what they want to and shut off all other light, refusing to look at things they can’t understand, while others are never settled on any matter and never have peace always questioning every matter into confusion not conclusion.

    Things I don’t yet understand concerning God I leave to God, to my never ending amazement He often answers my questions from my own mouth, as if I were listening while He was talking.

    Patience will win out; all of our questions have answers.


  67. poohpity says:

    saled, if I may give a thought on the lepers. It seems they were asked to go outside camp as to not spread the disease any further. They seemed to be still cared for, housed, fed and protected but just to prevent the spreading of the disease to more people. Today people do not have to let other people know that they have certain diseases and AIDS, Hep C, TB, and many other diseases are being spread at an alarming rate. Many people do not even know they have Hep C and it keeps on spreading like a wild fire. People are still put into isolation or quarantine.

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