And greetings friends, this is Herbert W. Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.
My friends, haven't you always supposed that Jesus Christ spoke in parables in order to make the meaning more clear — sort of illustrate it so that people would understand it better? Well, you've been wrong.
Once again, we're going through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament to see why it is that you have not been hearing the message of Jesus Christ, His Gospel, the Gospel that God sent by Him, the message that He preached. Now, we've been hearing a message about the Person of Christ, we've heard a great deal about that. Very few people have realized what Jesus Himself said.
In His very famous Olivet Prophecy, His disciples had come to Him privately as they did again in this very parable that we're going to see in just a few moments. He had been speaking about things that were going to happen in the future. They were sitting on the Mount of Olives which is just to the east of Jerusalem a little ways, "his disciples came to Him privately," no one else now around, and they asked Him, "When shall these things be? What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world [or the end of the age]?"
Now, He had answered and said that the very first thing that would happen was this, "Take heed that no man deceive you." Others are going to be deceived but "take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, that I am Christ..."
Now, He didn't say that men will come in their own name saying that they are Christ. I know that nearly everybody has read that and thought that that referred to people that would come and say, "I am Christ," say that they themselves, that is, are Christ.
"Many will come in my name," He said, that is in His own name, in Christ's name. Now, someone who is claiming that they are Christ would not come in Jesus' name claiming that they are Christ. They would then be coming in their own name claiming that they are the Christ. No, He was speaking of people that come in His name saying that they are the ministers of Jesus Christ, saying that Jesus is the Christ and yet deceiving the people. Now, how in the world could they that?
Well, we find in the eleventh chapter of II Corinthians where the Apostle Paul said that men would come preaching a different gospel. In II Corinthians the eleventh chapter, Paul is speaking of the Church here as the bride of Christ and he is hoping that they will not be deceived. And he said, "Would to God that you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband..." There the Church is considered as the affianced bride of Christ. Now, "if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom you have not preached [whom we have not preached that is], or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, that you might bear with him."
Now, He said that those that would come, they would preach Jesus Christ but it would not be the Jesus of the Bible. For instance, the Jesus that you read of in the New Testament when a young man came to Him and said, "Good Master, [What is the way of salvation?] what good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?" And you'll find that in the nineteenth chapter of Matthew. Now, I think if a young man would come to the average minister in the average church in this day and age and say, "Now, what must I do to gain Eternal Life?" That that minister would turn and say, "Why young man, don't you understand that there is nothing that you do, except to just accept Christ and profess Him and worship Him. Don't you know young man that there are no works that Jesus did it all. And that all you do is accept Him. You don't do anything. There are no works to salvation today. Just accept Christ, just profess Christ, just worship Him, just accept Him, just receive Him, that's all." That's what they'll tell you today. Well, that isn't what Jesus said. Now, who is right and who is wrong? Apparently, Jesus must of have been all wrong.
You see, they're preaching a different Jesus today, because Jesus when the young man came to him said, "What...shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?" He didn't say, "Why, there's nothing for you to do. I'm going to do it all for you." He didn't say that. What He did say is, "If thou will enter into life, keep the commandments...." And the young man said, "Which?" and He named some of the Ten to show him that He meant the Law of God.
Now, if you keep one or two of the Ten Commandments and you don't keep them all, if you'll turn back into the second chapter of James you will see that if you break one of the points you are guilty of all. If you break one and keep the other nine, you are guilty of transgressing the Law. That's in the second chapter of James.
Now, why is it then that men today are preaching a message about Christ but they are nullifying the Gospel that He preached which was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God which was the Gospel of the Government of God. The fact that God is the Supreme Ruler and that we should surrender to His rule. Of course God, Who is the Supreme Ruler, has of His own accord voluntarily in order to carry out His purpose here below has made us free moral agents. God has made us perfectly able to reject His rule and to rule ourselves and to do just what we please, and that's what men have done. Men have followed their own ideas, their own devices and ways. They have rejected the way of God which is the way to peace and the way to happiness the way to everything worthwhile in life men have rejected it. That's why we have no world peace; men don't know the way of peace.
God didn't make this world so it would have to be upset and in chaos and in strife and war and in bloodshed and in pain and sickness and suffering and empty lives and empty hearts and fears and worries in our minds. God didn't make us that way. We have made ourselves that way by defying God and rejecting His Law, His Government.
Now, Jesus said, "Think not that I come to destroy the law..." He said that, "Until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle of that Law shall ever pass away." And of course, heaven and earth isn't going to pass away except that there will be a new heaven and a new earth in that sense. But, He said that whosoever will do and teach these commandments shall be great in the kingdom of God, but he that will teach against them and try to do away with them will be called the least in the kingdom. But he won't even be in the kingdom, he'll merely be called the least there but won't be there actually because no sinner is going to get there and sin is the transgression of the Law.
Now, he said of these that are preaching a different gospel — "that such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [Now, they do come in His name.] But no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." Satan doesn't come and say, "Now, look, I want you to do the wrong thing. I'm a devil. I believe in evil. I believe in sin. I believe in everything that's wrong. Now, come on and do wrong with me. I want you to do the wrong thing. I want you to choose evil." The Devil doesn't say that. The Devil comes around and makes wrong look right. He tries to make you think that that which is evil is perfectly alright and that which God says is righteous is all wrong and you mustn't do that and the Devil is a deceiver. And so, it says, "Therefore it is no great thing if his [the Devil's ministers. Now, notice these are really the ministers of the Devil. If the Devil's] ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness..."
Now, what is righteousness? Psalms 119 verse 172 says "all thy commandments are righteousness." All the Commandments of God and that's all Ten of them, not nine of them, not six of them, not one of them, but all Ten are righteousness. And as James says in the second chapter, let me repeat, if you break one you're guilty of all.
Now, in his ministers posing as the ministers of righteousness and they claim to be the apostles of Christ. Now, how then has the Devil deceived the world? He has sent men who are his ministers but who profess to be and claim to be the ministers of Jesus Christ out into the world and they come in His name. Jesus says, they will "come in my name, saying, I am the Christ..." And that's what they've done, they have said that He is the Christ. They have exalted Him. They have deified Him. They have given their message about His person. They have claimed that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Divine Son of God. They are fundamentalist. They believe that God is Creator. They believe that He created all things through and by Jesus Christ. They believe even that there was a flood. They believe in the virgin birth. They tell you that He is and was the Christ. They believe that He died and shed His blood for the remission of our sins. They believe that Jesus rose again that God raised Him from the dead. But my friends, I wonder if you know or ever stopped to realize that the Devil himself believes every one of those things. The Devil knows that those statements are true. He was there. He saw it all happen all but the Creation.
You know when stop to think about it, so far as a fundamentalist is merely one who believes in those facts that exist; the Devil is the greatest fundamentalist there is.
Now, it is necessary that we believe those things if we want to believe truth because they are true. But just believing something in an empty faith and believing in a fact, my friends, will not save anyone.
Now, Jesus Christ said to that young man, "If thou will enter into life, keep the commandments." That's what He said.
And He also said that we can profess Him, we can accept Him, we can even worship Him and be lost, we can do it all in vain. I've read this to you so many times. It's in other places beside Mark the seventh chapter, but I'd like to turn to that again because it seems so much plainer right here.
Mark the seventh chapter and to the Pharisees of that day and He said that they would be cast out of the Kingdom of God. He called them names. He called them liars. He called them whitened sepulchers. He called them serpents and vipers. He said they were the children of their father the Devil. Yes, they were his ministers.
Now, He said to them, verse seven, chapter seven of Mark's Gospel, "Howbeit in vain do they worship me..."
You know today the average man would say, "Why, it isn't possible to accept Christ as Savior, to worship Him and be lost. It isn't possible to worship Him in vain." Well, do you know more than Jesus? He said it is possible.
Jesus said, "...in vain do they worship me [how?], teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Now, what divides one's sect, one denomination from another? We have our church groups, our church organizations and we have hundreds and hundreds of them and what's the difference? Just different doctrines. One has one code of doctrine and another another and the members must believe what the churches proclaimed. And in most cases, the churches put a little frame around what they have. They won't add to it, they won't take away.
I don't know of any church denomination that has ever found where it was wrong and confessed it and admitted it. (And they must be wrong since no two of them agree.) And where two disagree, one of them is wrong on that point on which they disagree. They can't both be right when they contradict each other, but neither one of them will ever confess it. Neither one of them will ever get their eyes open to see the truth. I have never known of any church denomination or organization that is one of the larger listed denominations that would ever acknowledge its faults, its errors in doctrine and repent of them and correct them. Neither have I known of one who would accept new truth and light that was not revealed and available at the time the denomination started, have you?
I can assure you, my friends, that I have had to acknowledge on this program more than once where I was wrong. Most of that acknowledgement had to come in the early years because, you know, if we begin to acknowledge we're wrong pretty soon we get the wrong out and we get corrected and as we go along there are fewer errors as we purge out the errors that are there. There remain fewer and fewer of them all the time until finally we don't have to acknowledge it quite so often as we did, but we must still be just as willing. But where are the organized denominations that do that? Just where are they?
Now, He said that, "For doctrines [What do they have? Not the truth of God. Not the message that God sent by Jesus Christ which is His Gospel. But what do they have for doctrines?] commandments of men." In other words, men have decided what to command.
Now, in many churches they will have a doctrine something like this that sin is a lot things that they just put up a lot of don'ts to define sin. For instance, don't dance, don't smoke, don't drink, don't play cards, don't go to the theater and so on and so forth — a lot of don'ts. Now, some of those things might be wrong and some of them might not be so wrong, depending on the circumstances and how you do it. You know it isn't the deck of cards that's sin, it's the gambling and the wrong use that you might put them to and a bottle of whiskey isn't a sin but of course if you're going to get drunk on it, the Bible does define drunkenness as sin and the Bible very plainly says that no drunkard can enter into the Kingdom of God. But still, it is the use that we make of things and not the thing itself that determines what is right or what is wrong and what is sin or what is righteousness.
Now, men have decided for themselves their own standards of sin and men today tell you, "Well, your conscience tells you what is right and what is wrong." But, oh, they are so wrong when they say that. That is not the truth. Because sin according to my Bible and yours if you'll read it in I John the third chapter, the fourth verse is, "Sin is the transgression of the law." And it's the law of God. And God is the Law-maker, the Law-giver. There is one Law-giver and it's God the Father.
Now, He said, "Laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men..." And that's exactly what they're doing in the churches today. They have laid aside the commandment of God. They profess Jesus. They deify Him. They acknowledge Him. But by laying aside the commandment of God, the Devil is deceiving them into sin and no sinner can get into the Kingdom. I don't care how much you profess Jesus Christ, if you continue in sin you continue to be lost and you will never get into the Kingdom.
You know, some people came to John the Baptist. They wanted to be baptized and they said, "How about it?" and he said, well, you have to repent. We are first to repent and then to be baptized and the conditions are...Well, on the day of Pentecost when those visiting Jerusalem were pricked in their heart; they were really touched. Peter had preached that spirit inspired sermon — the first one after Christ had ascended to Heaven. And they said, "What shall we do?" They really wanted to know the way of salvation. And Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the Holy Spirit" as they that day had received the Holy Spirit.
Now, the first thing he said is repent, and what does repent mean? Well, in plain language it means turn around and go the other way. It means forsake your way.
Back in Isaiah fifty-five, how do you get converted? It's back there, Isaiah fifty-five in the Old Testament, "Let the wicked forsake his way...and let him return to the ETERNAL." For God's way are not ours. God's ways are the ways of God's Law — His will which is expressed in His Law. And sin is the transgression of the Law and to repent is to repent of transgression, to repent of disobedience to God, to acknowledge God as Supreme Ruler. God's way is the way to happiness, the way to peace, the way to everything we want and the way to Eternal Life.
He said to them, "Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition." And then in verse thirteen, "making the word of God [now, that's the Bible] of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such like things you do." Now, do you know that they make the whole Bible of none effect? They can worship Christ and do it in vain. Now, how then did these people come out deceiving?
Well, here it is. Jesus said, "Many shall come in my name..." He says, "Take heed that they don't deceive you. They will come in my name, saying, that I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Do you know that is the very thing that they have used, the very trick that the Devil has put forward to get men able to deceive others? They have gone preaching Christ. They have gone forth extolling Christ. They carry the message about Christ to the world but they don't tell you that you must obey Him. They don't tell you that you must repent of that which you have thought was right.
"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, the ends thereof are the ways of death." They tell you, "Well, if it seems right to you, it must be right, your conscience will tell you what is right. Do what you think is right. Let your conscience be your guide." And your conscience will only tell you that whatever you think is wrong is wrong. If you believe a thing to be right, your conscience isn't going to trouble you over it.
Now, I don't know that there are millions but there may be a few million who believe that cigarette smoking is a sin. And if they would smoke their conscience would hurt them terribly. And yet those others who believe it's alright and who are addicted to it and regular smokers, their conscience doesn't hurt them. So, you see what will trouble one man's conscience won't trouble another. Now, look what a standard we get into. God has set the standard. God alone knows. God's mind is supreme.
God's mind thought out this whole universe and planned it. He planned and thought out everything. Your mind couldn't do that. God's mind is very much superior to yours. God has much more wisdom than you or I and He knows.
And as for my part, my friends, I have found what a wonderful privilege and advantage it is to recognize the superiority, the great supremacy of the mind of God and to realize I can go to God in prayer and I can come to God in His Word, where He speaks to me through His Word and find there open up to me the mind of God to tell me things I don't know and could never find out, to tell me what is right and wrong and to guide me into the ways of happiness and peace of mind and joy and life eternal and everything that is worthwhile. Oh, what is it worth?
Well, you see the false preachers started from the day of Christ misleading the world and deceiving the whole world with a message about Christ talking about Him, getting people to accept Him, getting people to worship Him while at the same time they denied the Law of God that Jesus said we must keep in order to be saved. That's how the world has been deceived. Oh, it's about time that there was a voice in the wilderness to wake this world up.
Well, now, we're coming here to Mark the first chapter. I say people have been deceived into thinking that Jesus spoke in parables to make the meaning more plain to make it clearer. He didn't. Here it is.
"Once again, He began to teach by the seaside..." I'm in Mark, now, the fourth chapter and the first verse. Open your own Bible if you have it handy, go get it won't you and open it up and read this with me and see it in your own Bible with your own eyes. Don't take my word. Don't take any man's word. But if I speak faithfully the Word of God and if I lead you to it and you see it with your own eyes in your own Bible then you know it's true.
"And there is gathered unto him a very great multitude, so that he entered into a boat, and he sat in the sea; and all the multitudes were by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things in parables, [Now, later it says He never spoke to the multitudes or the crowds except in parables. So, I want you to notice this.] he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in his teaching, Hearken; Behold, the sower went forth to sow: and it came to pass, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the way side, the birds came and devoured it. And other fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and straightway it sprang up, because it had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and yielded...it yielded no fruit. And others fell on the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and brought forth, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. [Some more than others, but all produced.] And he said, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone [now notice when he was alone], they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parables. [Now, there were a few other disciples with the twelve, they were disciples too, however.] And he said unto them, Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without [notice without], all things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; that hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven them."
Now, I want you to read that in Matthew's account.
"The disciples came, and they said unto him [they came to Him privately], Why speakest thou unto them in parables? And he answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." They are without. It is not given to them. God has not permitted them to know or to understand.
That isn't the way you hear it preached today. Why, you'd think that everyone should understand; that salvation is opened to everybody today. But Jesus deliberately spoke in a language here that they could not understand lest they should be converted, lest their sins should be forgiven them because the time had not come then for those people yet to be called and to be converted. That is not what you're hearing in the churches today. That is what your Bible says. That is what Jesus said. Was Jesus a liar or are people just deceived today, which? It's one or the other because they don't coincide.
"He answered and said, unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Therefore speak I unto them in parables; because [Now, here's why He spoke in parables.] because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah [and so on]."
Now, I want to go back to Luke's account. "His disciples..." This is Luke the eighth chapter and the ninth verse, Luke eight, verse nine. "And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. [They didn't understand it. They couldn't understand the parable. They said. "Explain it. Why don't we understand? Why do you speak in parables?"] He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to the rest in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: [And then He explained it in plain language.] The seed is the word of God. And these by the wayside are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. And those on the rock are they which, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in the time of temptation fall away. But that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go their way they are choked with the cares and the riches and the pleasures of this life, and they bring forth no fruit to perfection. And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and a good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience."
Now, he said something else that Matthew records that Mark and Luke leave out and that's in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. I was reading from it a moment ago and I read from Matthew thirteen up here to verse fourteen. "Now then a little later..." Verse sixteen here in Matthew thirteen He said this. I want you to get it before we close this program. "But blessed [He said to His own disciples now. Now, notice.] blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, [Listen. Listen carefully.] verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which you hear, and heard them not." But I want you notice they did not understand until he explained these very parables in plain language, neither can you understand the symbols of Bible prophecy until you find that Jesus is the Revelator and explains them in plain language.
Now, notice. Many prophets of old wanted to know these things and couldn't. There were many things that were sealed. Daniel wanted to understand the very thing that he wrote in the prophecy in the twelfth chapter of Daniel but the archangel said, "Go thy way Daniel. The things are closed and sealed up till the time of the end." My friends, even the disciples of nineteen hundred years ago wanted to know many things that are opened for us now but God opens these things progressively and as we degenerate (and we really do) as we go along still we can have more knowledge than those who lived a thousand, two thousand or three thousand years ago. And knowledge has increased and knowledge is open to churches now that was not open a hundred or two hundred years ago. Do you know any church denomination that will accept anything it didn't have when it started? Oh, I tell you my friends it's time to get our eyes opened.
Listen. About the Resurrection, the Resurrection was not on Sunday and the Crucifixion was not on Good Friday. Write in for that booklet on the "Resurrection." And if you want to know the answer to what I've just told you, write in for our booklet on "Predestination" and have that explained and opened up to you. The booklet on "Predestination." It's free. There's no charge.
So, until tomorrow, same time and station, goodbye friends.