google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2019 January

Archive for January 2019

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Why I am a Christian!

 

The Apostle John, writing in 1 John 5:9-12 - "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."


Why Is It So?


A testimony is an assertion offering firsthand authentication of a fact. For the Christian Disciple, classically it is generally expressed as how they became a Christian Disciple.

But I think it is more than just how, and should expressly include why you are a Christian Disciple. I wonder what is your testimony about how you became a Christian Disciple? When was the last time you thanked our God for your testimony? Have you even thought about your testimony of how you became a Christian Disciple?

I am sure you have all heard kids in the supermarket yelling out "Why?" to their parents. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? The question I am often asked is "You are a Christian. Why is it so?"

My father, was and remained throughout his life a convinced agnostic and in the few conversations we had about religion and Christianity, he could never understand why it was, that I could not just admit that I would never know if God existed or not, far less a God who was personally interested in me. My reply as ever, was that the very question "Why is it so?" needed to be answered, in order for me to be satisfied.

Why I am a Christian?

Now I could say that at the age of 12, we moved to a town on the coast of Australia, and was invited along to a local youth group and several weeks later, gave my life to Christ and became a Christian. Of course that is partly true. I can't even claim to be a Christian because I was raised in a Christian country. Australia was and is probably the second most secular country on this planet. Sure Australia has its moral base grounded in historic Christianity, but for the latter part of its history, Australia has been thoroughly secular and non-religious. Even if I had been raised in a country such as England, with Christian parents, that would also, only be partly true and I could have rejected Christianity as many people do. The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me. Unknown to me at the time, God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved, just as described in the Song of Songs 2:2-14.


God had been pursuing me

This piece of poetic Scripture speaks about the love that God has for his people, and the energy He puts in to calling his people to Himself. He is always reaching out, for all to return to His arms. As for me, it wasn't until I was a 12 year old that I heard that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Before that I didn't know I had to do anything with this Jesus. Jesus was only a curse word for me at the time. That or was just someone or something that the RE teachers bored me with at school.

We are primarily Christians, not because we come to church services or just happened to have been born in a supposedly Christian country. We are primarily Christians, because God first chased and harried us into His arms. We are Christians, if you are one, because God first loved you. And as a tremendous lover, He beckons and calls people all the time to respond to His call, and back to Him. How does He chase us with His love?

God chases each person differently, just as each Christian testimony is different. Take for instance the Apostle Paul in Acts 8 & 9. God chased him through Paul's mind and his religious upbringing and education. Paul had known about God from his childhood. Paul was a righteous Pharisee who saw persecuting these ‘Christians' as his religious duty, so that he may somehow find favour with God. As Paul was gloating over the death of the martyr Stephen, God was pursuing Him, probably raising doubts in Paul's mind as to why Stephen would say at the point of death "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and forgive them for what they do" (Acts 7:54-60). Surely doubts must have been raised in Paul's mind as he approved of this death (Acts 8v1).

Paul was also wrestling with his conscience. Externally he was a righteous man, a Pharisee of Pharisees. Yet when he internally examined himself and his heart, he found himself failing regarding covetousness, which is the last of the Ten Commandments. Then finally, Jesus himself makes a sudden and dramatic appearance before Paul and confronts him directly, "Why are you kicking against me? Why are you rejecting my advances?" (Acts 9) Paul's conversion to Christianity is often described as being sudden. But the only thing sudden about his conversion was this climatic appearance of Jesus.

Just as that was true of Paul, it is true of me, just as it is true of all those who profess to call themselves a Christian Disciple. I am a Christian Disciple not because of anything I have done, but rather because He first chased me, and because He first loved me. Jesus himself said "I came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

If you are a Christian today, it is not because of anything you have done. It is because of the events at Christmas and Easter that you are a Christian, when God entered this world as a human baby and took all the necessary steps so that all people could have the choice to be His people or not. In my more smug moments I used to congratulate myself for being a Christian. How proud I was that I, was a Christian and that God was a jolly lucky God that I had decided to follow Him. It was during one of my less self-deluded moments, that I examined myself and I found God pricking my conscience and correcting me, and I read the New Testament "For the Son of Man came, not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark10:45).

 

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Alfie brings you a WOW Word

WOW Word - God of Judement

~Today Alphy the WOWChurch Cat shares about

the WOW Word - God of Judgment!

 

We have all at some point liked to think of God as being only about love and never judging. People say “It will be alright in the end, because the love of God conquers all.” Well, remember also, that love involves judging. God is the judge of all the earth, the writer of Hebrews reminds us (Hebrews 12:23). This judgment has several aspects to it:

Unbiased

God shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11). God is eternally just and righteous. It is a reflection of His mercy, that nobody can claim God is unfair.

Unavoidable

Jesus Christ will judge the whole world with justice (Acts 17:31). Everybody is destined to die once and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). What is common to everybody, is a universal sinfulness (Romans 2:1). What is in the murderer or the thief is in everybody, everywhere and all the time. That is rebelliousness against God and that is sin and it must be judged. Judgement will be before the Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

Universal

Judgment of unbelievers: Those who do not profess Jesus, as God, will be judged according to their sinfulness. They are already guilty, because they didn’t take up the offer of salvation through Grace during their earthly life. These people will be cast into the lake of fire with satan and his angels (Revelation 20:15; Matthew 25:41). This punishment is eternal (Matthew 25:46). Judgment of Christian Disciples: And that is not all.

 

Judgment of believers: Those who are believers, Christian disciples, and are actively engaged in a relationship with Jesus Christ, will also be judged. Does that surprise you? While these people have accepted God’s free offer and are declared righteous by faith, they will be judged according to the things they have done with, and in, their faith. Belief and faith are to be supported by good works (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

As a Christian Disciple, you will not be judged for sin - this has been judged (Isaiah 53:4-6; again I find that odd since it is quoting from before the event, which raises all sorts of questions about scripture. Why not Romans 6:21? Peter 2:24), and you have salvation on that basis. This judgment is not for your salvation but for your crown, your rewards (2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). As a Christian Disciple, you will be asked to give an account of yourself (Romans 14:10), and you will be judged according to what you have done (2 Corinthians 5:10). The quality of your work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Your motives will be exposed – either you did things for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 4:4-5) which is acceptable, or you did them for some other reasons which are not.

As a Christian Disciple, you will give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to you (Matthew 25:14-30). Rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). These rewards are described as:

  • an incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25)
  • a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4)
  • a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
  • a crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
  • a crown of life (James 1:12)

So, go this day. Go this week. Go tell somebody of the crown waiting for them, if only they are willing to enter into a living and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember - do all you do, for God’s glory and not your own.

~

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POD - Psalm 46

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Psalm 46

For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah.

According to Alamoth.

 

46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
46:2 Therefore we won't be afraid, though the earth changes,
though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas;
46:3 though its waters roar and are troubled,
though the mountains tremble with their swelling.

Selah

46:4 There is a river, the streams of which make the city of God glad,
the holy place of the tents of the Most High.
46:5 God is in her midst.
She shall not be moved.
God will help her at dawn.
46:6 The nations raged. The kingdoms were moved.
He lifted his voice, and the earth melted.
46:7 Yahweh of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah

46:8 Come, see Yahweh's works,
what desolations he has made in the earth.
46:9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth.
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear.
He burns the chariots in the fire.
46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth."
46:11 Yahweh of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah

 

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Think Spot - 28th January 2019

Charlotte Bronte - “Life appears to me to be too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrong.

 
Many people nurse a guilty conscience owing to holding onto animosity or wrongs done to them or having done wrong things to others. As a consequence, their life is filled with turmoil and bitterness. You may well be like that – I don’t know!
What I do know is that your conscience is the faculty which is sensitive to right and wrong, and judges your actions and attitudes. Everybody has a conscience and all are sensitive to spiritual truths, whether they are immediately aware of it or not.

According to the Bible, a clear conscience is essential for inner peace and joy, confidence in prayer, good health, effective service, .right relation-ships, effective witnessing, making right decisions, and victory in spiritual battle. A clear conscience is the inner joy and peace of spirit which results from having all personal wrongs made right with those whom a person had offended - either God or someone else.

However- many Christians carry around guilty consciences due mainly to unconfessed sins, affecting relationships with God, other people and themselves. If left unchecked, a conscience which is guilty, slowly grows 'dead', cold and silent. That is until such time that the guilt has been assuaged and put right.

If at the moment you are burdened by a guilty conscience, ask the Holy Spirit to show you clearly what is affecting your conscience. Then decide, at any cost, to clear it up in the power of the same Spirit. He will help you! Pray to the Father and ask forgiveness, (1 John 1:9), and fully accept His love and forgiveness. If there is anyone else involved, then you will also need to ask for their forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24).

Ask the Father to help you go, and the Spirit will help you, because one of the hardest things in the world to say is: “I was wrong! Please forgive me." Your conscience can be cleansed because of what Jesus did on the cross!

Hebrews 9:14 “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Go into this week, ready to serve the living God, being confident that the Holy Spirit living within you, empowers you, is transforming you and desires that your conscience be clear. He will help you overcome if you ask!

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 16
Jesus’ Teaching (Part 1)


What did Jesus teach?


Throughout the Gospels, Jesus appeals to the Old Testament scriptures in every facet of his teaching. We see that Jesus frequently used Old Testament Scripture in his teachings concerning morality and the Laws (Matthew 5:14-8), the historical stories (Matthew 24:27-29) and in his debates with the religious leaders.

Quite possibly, the supreme example of his teaching can be found in what we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29). Whilst mainly speaking to his disciples, he allowed the crowds to listen. In this discourse, all of Jesus’ teachings are exhibited. Key themes from the Sermon on the Mount include: a Christian Disciple’s character, influence, righteousness, religion, devotional life, ambition and relationships. We look now at just 2 topics that Jesus taught.

Firstly Regarding Himself: Whilst Jesus never directly claimed to be God, he did things only God could do. He claimed authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:1-7). He also claimed exclusivity in being alone as the only way that a human could be engaged in an active & dynamic relationship with God. We see that when Jesus said:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Jesus’ claim to be the prophesied and long awaited for Messiah, or Son of Man, is an appeal to Old Testament texts and their subsequent fulfilment and completion in Him (Mark 8:29-33). Primary amongst this, was his teaching that the Messiah must suffer and be glorified, which was also an appeal to Old Testament scripture (Luke 9:31; Luke 12:50; John 10:11-15).

Now secondly, regarding the Kingdom of God: Jesus preached that entrance to the kingdom of God was through repentance (Matthew 3:2) and this repentance led to a spiritual rebirth (John 3:1-8). He calls all Christian Disciples to seek it first (Matthew 6:33) and to pray for it (Matthew 6:10). But what is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus, was not a political uprising against the Romans, as thought by some people, including his disciples James and John (Mark 10:35-45). The Kingdom of God is a personal inner spiritual relationship with God as the ruler over the life of the Christian Disciple, but it is also the Christian Disciple exhibiting this relationship with God in a visible new society (Matthew 25:34; Luke 13:29). Parables such as the corn and weeds (Matthew 13:24-30) and the mustard seed (Mark 4:3-32) typify Jesus’ teaching on this.

Next episode we will look more specifically at who Jesus taught

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)
Part 24 - Hebrews 10:10–14
We are holy!
 

“… we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
 

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

The dominant word here is ‘holy’, appearing twice. That is difficult because ‘holy’ is one of those words which tends to mean something rather different in our everyday usage from what it means in scripture. Holiness in common usage tends to mean something like being ‘so heavenly minded as to be no earthly use’! That is far away from scripture usage.

‘Holy’ is the prime attribute of God. He is pure; he is perfect love; he is true justice; he is different from everything else; he is wholly other and above and beyond all else. When the word ‘holy’ is applied to somebody or something on the earth it means they, or it. are so close to God that some of that holiness has ‘rubbed off’ onto them.

We need to put together what our writer says here with what Paul says in Romans 12:1-2. To take what Paul says first he is interested in the practical effects of being holy. He says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

There is no beginning suggestion there, or anywhere else in scripture, that holiness requires withdrawal from every day life. It might be easier if it did! But it doesn’t. We have to live in the world but not in the way of the world. We have to have a different mindset, a different worldview, a different focus of all our endeavours. A different Lord.. We have to please God; we have to let as much of the holiness of God rub off on us as we can. That can only happen if we live in close proximity to him as much as possible. Or, to put it another way, we are to walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit.

That is Paul’s emphasis. But what about our writer here? He is more concerned with how this can possibly have happened. It is all because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This is the positive aspect of what Jesus achieved. We probably, rightly, think more of the negative, of what he did as securing forgiveness of sin for us, sin past, present and future. Positively he set us on a way, a pathway, which we are to walk with the Spirit. He has perfected us! Perfected us in the sense that we cannot, could not, be any more acceptable to the Lord of All than we are through Jesus. We have reached an end a completion of our lives and characters. Wow!

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Partakers Friday Prayers

25th January 2019

 

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A Prayer of Thomas a'Kempis (1380-1471)


Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,
To love what I ought to love,
To praise what delights thee most,
To value what is precious in thy sight,
To hate what is offensive to thee.

Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,
Nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant people;
But to discern with a true judgement between things visible and spiritual,
And above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Your will.
Amen

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Thursday Story - Sheena

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Thursday Story

Sheena

We continue apace into the twenty first century. Today, Sheena shares with you about her life and her ongoing relationship with God! Come, listen and be inspired!

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WOW Word - Adoption

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Adoption

The word for today is adoption. Imagine you are an orphan left on the streets. You are hungry and thirsty. Begging for scraps of food. Your last job you were treated like a slave, so you escaped. Even your only friend, a stray dog, has abandoned you! You are friendless, lonely and miserable.


Then one day a big stretch limousine pulls up beside you. You recognize the limousine. It is the one you scratched with a key because you were bored and belongs to the enemy of your former boss. The driver asks you to get in, and reluctantly you do. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The limousine drives and eventually goes through some large gates and there is a huge house on top of the hill. The owner is there to greet you. He tells you that you are now part of his family now, if you want to be. You have no need to go back to begging for scraps. You are part of his family now, with all the legal standing as one of his children.

That is adoption in the Christian sense. If you are a Christian, God has accepted you as a member of His family with all the legal standing of an heir and a true son or true daughter.

The bible says in Galatians 4:7 "Now you are no longer a slave b ut God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir."

Because of adoption, we know that:

  • God purchased us from slavery into a family (Ephesians 1:7)!
  • God will supply all our needs, just as all good fathers always do!
  • God comes to live inside us!
  • We are reconciled with God, even though once we were His enemies (Romans 5:9)!
  • We have transformed relationships with others and ourselves!
  • We now seek His honour rather than our own!

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POD - Psalm 55

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Psalm 55

For the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A contemplation by David.

55:1 Listen to my prayer, God.
Don’t hide yourself from my supplication.
55:2 Attend to me, and answer me.
I am restless in my complaint, and moan,
55:3 Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they bring suffering on me.
In anger they hold a grudge against me.
55:4 My heart is severely pained within me.
The terrors of death have fallen on me.
55:5 Fearfulness and trembling have come on me.
Horror has overwhelmed me.
55:6 I said, “Oh that I had wings like a dove!
Then I would fly away, and be at rest.
55:7 Behold, then I would wander far off.
I would lodge in the wilderness.”

Selah.

55:8 “I would hurry to a shelter from the stormy wind and storm.”
55:9 Confuse them, Lord, and confound their language,
for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
55:10 Day and night they prowl around on its walls.
Malice and abuse are also within her.
55:11 Destructive forces are within her.
Threats and lies don’t depart from her streets.
55:12 For it was not an enemy who insulted me, then I could have endured it.
Neither was it he who hated me who raised himself up against me,
then I would have hidden myself from him.
55:13 But it was you, a man like me, my companion, and my familiar friend.
55:14 We took sweet fellowship together.
We walked in God’s house with company.
55:15 Let death come suddenly on them. Let them go down alive into Sheol.
For wickedness is in their dwelling, in their midst.
55:16 As for me, I will call on God. Yahweh will save me.
55:17 Evening, morning, and at noon, I will cry out in distress.
He will hear my voice.
55:18 He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
although there are many who oppose me.
55:19 God, who is enthroned forever, will hear, and answer them.

Selah.

They never change, who don’t fear God.
55:20 He raises his hands against his friends. He has violated his covenant.
55:21 His mouth was smooth as butter, but his heart was war.
His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.
55:22 Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you.
He will never allow the righteous to be moved.
55:23 But you, God, will bring them down into the pit of destruction.
Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days, but I will trust in you.


 

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Think Spot - 21st January 2019

We have the start of a new week! Its Monday! How and in what circumstances are you trusting God? How did Jesus Christ trust in the Father? Jesus knew that the Father was going to bring Him back to life after his death on the cross. Jesus trusted the Father in this area of His life, just as he did in all aspects of his life. How are you doing? Do you have concerns and areas of your life where you need an assurance that God the Father will help you?

Here are some simple steps which may help you maintain a trust in God.

  1. Pray, casting all anxiety on God. He cares for you because you are His personal concern (The great apostle Peter, one of Jesus' closest friends wrote this in 1 Peter 5v7 "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.")
  2. Accept and thank God that His peace has filled that area (Another great apostle, Paul, wrote this in Philippians 4v7 says "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.")
  3. Learn to be content whatever your circumstances are, resting in God (Paul goes on in Philippians 4v11-12 "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.")
  4. Allow the Spirit to control your mind for life and peace (and again from the pen of the apostle Paul, this time in Romans 8v6 "So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.")
  5. Trust God to fulfil your every need (Matthew records these words of Jesus in Matthew 6v32-33 "but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." )
  6. Obey and follow God's commands to love God and love others (Jesus is recorded in Matthew 22v37-40 "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.")
  7. Finally, be prepared to be obedient to the Father, in supplying the needs of others you meet and therefore showing you love God and other people! One way to show you are trusting and loving God is to be the answer to the prayers of somebody else and showing that love to them! Ask God to show you, how you can help somebody else in need this week and showing your love.

Go in peace this Monday, into this week, knowing God is worthy of your trust! God will take care of you, but not always in the way you expect! Expect Him to allow circumstances and situations to arise where you are to trust Him fully! He will help you if you ask! After all, He knows you better than anybody! And don't be afraid to help somebody else because by doing that, you show you are loving and trusting in God!

Father, I pray that You would help us to trust in You and that You would supply our needs, calm our concerns and help us to love You and others more fully. I ask this through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all those who have peace with you. Amen

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 15
Jesus’ Teaching (Part 1)

 
So he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he began to teach the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. Luke 4:31-32

How did Jesus teach?

This event in Capernaum was not a one-off occurrence. Frequently the writers of the gospels remark how people viewed Jesus’ teaching as authoritative. But what was it that made his teaching authoritative? Jesus’ manner of teaching shared much in common with other teachers of 1st century Palestine. His teachings frequently included Old Testament references; exaggerated hyperbole, the telling of parables, rhythmic poetry which aided memorisation and the predicting of future events. All these were common teaching practice at the time of Jesus in both religious and secular circles.


Most of the teaching we have recorded for us in the Gospel accounts of His life, did not arise out of formal educational or religious settings but rather through personal and informal encounters, engaging with the religious leaders and the inherent need to teach his disciples. However, it is not so much his manner of teaching that created the air of authority about Him, but rather what he taught that did (Matthew 7:28-29). Saying as he often did, “But I say to you…” was in direct opposition to the method the rabbinical teachers of the day employed. This also caused astonishment and amazing from those who heard Him. Additionally, Jesus often sat down to teach, and this signifies formal instruction, as was the custom at the time.

In what ways did Jesus teach?

Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus spoke a lot in parable form. A parable is an allegory or picture story. Why did he do it this way? He did it this way, in order to get his message across completely. These parables fall into four categories:

  • Society and its God: an example of this would be the parable of the sheep (Luke 15:1-7) whereby God is seen as a God of grace.
  • Society and the future: an example here would be the parable of the great feast whereby the future climax of the kingdom is seen (Matthew 25:31-33).
  • Society and the individual: an example of this would be the parable involving the rich fool who thought his wealth would make God love him more (Luke 12:13-21).
  • Society and the community: an example here would be the parable of the Good Samaritan whereby everyone is to show love, even for their enemies (Luke 10:25-37).

Next week we continue looking at Jesus' Teaching...

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