INTERESTING FACT : Noah Webster, American lexicographer known for his American Spelling Book (1783) and his American Dictionary of the English Language, 2 vol. (1828; 2nd ed., 1840). Webster was instrumental in giving American English a dignity and vitality of its own. Both his speller and dictionary reflected his principle that spelling, grammar, and usage should be based upon the living, spoken language rather than on artificial rules. He also made useful contributions as a teacher, grammarian, journalist, essayist, lecturer, and lobbyist.
When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, "just men who will rule in the fear of God." The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be sqandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. [1
Daily Reading : MATTHEW 13 - 14, 15 - 17
TEXT : Mat 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? Mat 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Mat 13:12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Mat 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Mat 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: Mat 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Mat 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. Mat 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
THEME : PARABLES
Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb_6:8. Worldly cares are great hindrances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are. [Matthew Henry][2
He answered, and said unto them,.... Christ was always ready to give an answer to his inquiring disciples, concerning his ministry, and his conduct in it; which shows great respect to them, and condescension in him: because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: by the "kingdom of heaven", is meant the Gospel, which treats of the kingdom of heaven, and of things pertaining to it; of the saints' meetness for it, which is the regenerating and sanctifying grace of the Spirit; and of their right to it, which lies in the justifying righteousness of Christ. The "mysteries" of it intend the sublime doctrines thereof; such as relate to the Trinity of persons in the Godhead, to the incarnation of Christ, and the union of the two natures, human and divine, in him, eternal predestination, redemption by Christ, satisfaction by his sacrifice, justification by his righteousness, and pardon through his blood, the resurrection from the dead, &c. things, though clearly revealed, yet may have difficulties attending them, and which are not very easily solved: now to know and understand the great truths of the Gospel, spiritually, savingly, and experimentally, is not from nature, or to be acquired by men's industry, but is the gift of God's grace, flowing from his sovereign will and pleasure; a favour which the disciples of Christ, as a chosen people, receive from the Lord, and which is denied others: but to them it is not given; to the wise and prudent, to the Scribes and Pharisees, to the multitude, to the bulk and generality of the people, to the rest that were blinded. Mark calls them "them that are without"; who are not in the number of God's elect; nor within the covenant of grace, nor among the disciples of Christ; referring to a common way of speaking among the Jews, who used to call the Gentiles, all without their land, "they that are without"; and indeed all within themselves that despised the rules and judgment of the wise men (i): but Christ here calls the wise men themselves such. Now our Lord, who was privy to the secret and sovereign dispensation of God, who, of his own will and pleasure, had determined to give a spiritual and saving knowledge of divine things to some, and deny it to others, made this the rule of his conduct in his ministry; that is to say, he preached in parables to some without an explication, whilst he spoke plainly to others; and, if in parables, yet gave them an interpretation, and an understanding of them. [John Gill][3
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "THOSE WHO HAVE EARS WILL HEAR THE GOSPEL."
The purpose of a parable is to tell a story. In fact, a parable is only designed to tell one story, not many. There are some who make the mistake of thinking of a parable - that can have many details, relates to more than point. However, this is not the case. The fact of the matter is, a parable is an extended metaphor and its purpose is only to make one point. Therefore, whenever you encounter a parable of Jesus keep in mind that there is only point to this story. If you keep this principle of interpretation in mind, you will not be confused about what Jesus is trying to convey. In other words, you will know the truth simply because you are not confused about the purpose of a parable.
Now, we have in the texts above a very interesting consideration. The disciples are wondering why Jesus taught in parables. Moreover, they are confused as to why he does not make his message clear - at least, distinct to all who are listening. When they ask Jesus as to why, He tells them the mystery of why he speaks in parables. The answer, admittedly, is somewhat disconcerting. Jesus tells the Apostles that God shares the truth about salvation with some and not with others.
This is not amenable to all people. What I mean is, not all who read the Bible like what they read. Yet, this is directly to the point. What Jesus shares, as to why he speaks in parables, is in line with the fact that not all people enjoy the designs of God. Not all people love God. This reveals the depth of sin and how it has affected the human mind. Nevertheless, God has specific purposes in mind in the earth, in the world, and in eternity. He has a plan for all people - specifically, He is not willing that any should perish. Still, many people do not like what God plans. This may seem strange to you, however, the Bible is clear about this - Man is a rebel and is against God and His ways.
This is why Jesus states - "No man can come to the Me unless the father draws him." In addition, Jesus also said that "All that, to Me shall be taught of God." There are many ideas about what this means. Some say, that God has preplanned who will go to Heaven and who will not. By way of the simple application of logic, if one is not going to Heaven then they must be going to Hell. The Bible speaks of only two destinations for Man. Therefore, if Man is not free to choose, the choice has been made for him or her.
Yet, it is plain to see that humanity is free to choose or free to refuse. Once again, many qualified theologians and Bible students disagree on the free will of man. Many will say people are not free to choose. Again, quite a number of intelligent and godly theologians looking at the Holy Scriptures state that the choice is God's and God's alone. However, this he is not the only option before us when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures. The Bible, also talks about Man's choices and how a person will be judged by the choices they have made. This debate has gone on for a long time. Yet, there is no need for uncharitable remarks to be made about those who disagree with one another on non-essential doctrines of the Bible. In any case, the question remains - is Man free to choose God or not? I remind you, there is a good deal of disagreement on this subject. Some say yes and some say no.
Yet, the Bible is plain enough. Man can choose and man can refuse. If this were not the case, how could God righteously judge the world? Therefore, based on man's antecedent choice, that is, Man makes a choice before God makes His choice. However, have no doubt about this - God also makes a choice. Therefore, all who are taught of God, whose hearts are fertile soil for the seed of the word of God, will know the truth. In other words, as God issues an offer of mercy and of grace, Man makes a choice. Always keep this in mind, life is guided by the will. If this were not so, then you could hold God responsible for everything and anything. The truth is, God has given to everyone the ability and responsibility to choose for themselves. Each individual is responsible for their behavior, their thoughts, their words, and their deeds. If this were not so, once again, God could not righteously judge man. However, God is good and He is righteous. He holds Man responsible for his life. Although salvation is free, and is the result of Jesus life, death, burial, and resurrection from the dead, Man must make his or her choice. The great concern of life should be - not to let the heart become so hardened that the seed to of the Word of God falls on soil that has no depth. If this is the case, there will be no growth of the Word of God in the heart of man. For this reason, judgment will be severe and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Perhaps now, the mystery of Isaiahs' prophecy that Jesus quoted here in our text becomes easier to understand. The Jews of Jesus day, like the people of all nations in our day, make choices that will ultimately determine their destination for eternity. You see, Jesus in explaining why he spoke in parables, tells you that if your heart is prepared to receive the LORD and His Word - that is, in a faith that is evident in your obedience, you will be saved. Again, I mention many godly theologians disagree with this point of view. Still, the evidence weighs heavier in the direction of personal responsibility then it does in the area of God making a choice for man without man's consent. This appeals not only to the preponderance of Scripture references, but it also sits well with common sense, reason, and the application of good logic. It is also the result of comparing all relevant Scripture verses - one with another.
Whatever the case, make sure the seed of the Word in your heart, falls on good ground. Prepare the ground properly. This too is a command of Scripture. You will know when you do, and others will know, by your actions. That is, your light will shine before men and they will glorify your Father that is in heaven. Again, this is what Jesus was referring to when He said - "you shall know them by their fruits." Although he was speaking of false teachers and prophets, this truth is also applied to professing Christians. All that should concern you, is that when He comes again you are a found living in the faith and in holiness with respect to His commands. Even so, come Lord Jesus!