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Why Did Jesus Explain His Parables to Only a Few?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2024 5:00 pm

Why Did Jesus Explain His Parables to Only a Few?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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May 24, 2024 5:00 pm

Episode 1496 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

  1. What is the purpose of the two witnesses in Revelation? 2. Are we justified by works and faith or faith alone? 3. What should a congregation do when their pastor resigns due to scandal? 4. Why did Jesus explain his parables only to a few?     Today’s Offer: 5 Names of God You Should Know   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View our latest special offers here or call 1-833-THE-CORE (833-843-2673) to request them by phone.


Why did Jesus explain his parables to only a few? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on this edition of Core Christianity. Hi, it's Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. We'd love to hear from you, and our phone lines are open right now. We'll be taking calls for the next 25 minutes or so. Here's the number, 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites. In fact, you can watch Adriel right now on Instagram or on YouTube and send him your question that way. And you can always feel free to email us at First up today, here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Ray. Hello, Brother Bill and Pastor Adriel. I have a question for you. What is the purpose of the two witnesses? Thank you very much, take care, and God bless you all.

Hey, Ray, thank you. You're referring to Revelation chapter 11. And, I mean, just with regard to how they're, you know, identified, they're two witnesses. What do witnesses do? They testify of something. And that's precisely what's happening in Revelation chapter 11. Now, there's a question about, you know, are these witnesses two literal people, you know, living in the last days who have, it seems like, miraculous power here?

Are they symbolic of something else? Some have suggested, you know, the law and the prophets. We do have to remember that we are reading apocalyptic prophecy here, so oftentimes you have these signs and symbols, like the seven lampstands that John sees earlier in the book of Revelation.

I'll just read some of the text. This is verse three of Revelation chapter 11. I will grant authority to my two witnesses and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. So there's mourning here, there's prophesying, or speaking forth the word of God for a period of time. And again, there's debate about, you know, well that 1260 days, is that literal days? This sort of three and a half year period, is that symbolic of the church age?

There are a number of things to look at when you get into that, but I'm going to just continue reading. Verse four says, these are the two olive trees, the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. Now that's significant because earlier what were lampstands a sign of?

The church. Jesus is the one who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. And so they're identified as these lampstands, as these churches or the church. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours out from their mouth and consumes their foes.

If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying. By the way, it's really interesting, you know, their similarity here with Elijah's prophetic ministry.

He too prayed for there to be rain or no rain. So you see some some parallel there. And the text continues, and when they had finished their testimony, in other words, speaking forth the word of God, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. One thing that's really interesting is that that Greek word for bodies there is singular.

So, you know, you have these two lampstands, but their body, one singular. So this could be, I think, referring to the church and the church's ministry on earth, this prophetic ministry that the church has, bearing witness to the word of God and the persecution she experiences at the hands of the wicked, in particular the beast here. And so the purpose of the lampstands or the two witnesses is to bear witness to the word of God, and that's precisely what the church is called to do today, to speak forth the word of the true and the living God. And so I appreciate your question, and God help all of our churches to be faithful witnesses in the world today. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

Love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. We're also open to questions about doctrinal differences, theology, maybe something happening in your church life that you're concerned about or confused about. Feel free to give us a call right now at 833-THE-CORE. By the way, we also receive emails here at Core Christianity. You can send us an email anytime at

Here's one from Andy. He says, I'm wondering if you can provide an answer to this question about justification. James 2 24 says we are justified before God by works and not by faith alone. Romans 3 28 says we are justified also before God by faith apart from works of the law. So how are we justified exactly?

All right, wonderful. So two really important passages with regard to the doctrine of justification. And let me just define what justification is. Justification is an act of God's free grace.

It's something he does. It's a definitive act whereby he pardons all of our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight. He forgives all of our sins and accepts us as righteous only because of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is credited to us or imputed to us and received by faith alone. And so in justification, God takes a sinner and forgives all of his sins, her sins, and imputes to that sinner the righteousness of Jesus Christ on the basis of faith alone. Now that's where this debate comes in because how do we make sense of James and is there a contradiction between James and Paul? Let me just read the the passages that you brought up. Romans chapter 3 verse 27. Paul says, and this is in the context of a larger argument that he's been making with regard to the doctrine of justification, he says, what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded by what kind of law?

By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since God is one who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?

By no means. On the contrary, we uphold the law. In other words, since we're justified by the free grace of God and the hand of faith, you know, trusting in Jesus, does that mean we just set aside God's good commandments? No, we follow the Lord.

We seek to obey the command to love God and to love our neighbors, but we're justified by faith alone. Well then, how do we make sense of what James says? And this is your question, James chapter 2 verse 24.

And again, let me give us a little bit of the context, beginning in verse 18. Someone will say, you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one?

You do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by his works. And the scripture was fulfilled.

It says Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Now, I don't think that there's a contradiction here. I think that there's a way of reconciling.

I don't even know that we need to use that word reconciling, but, you know, let's use it. I think there's a way of reconciling Paul and James here. I don't think that they're contradicting each other. I think that James is talking about the fact that our works show that we truly believe. In other words, it's not we're saved by faith and works or justified by faith and works, but the faith that justified is a faith that works.

And so James earlier in James chapter 2 verse 14 asked this question. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? In other words, he's talking about a particular kind of faith, I think a false faith. Sometimes, you know, people have called this a historical faith. You know, it's one thing for people to say, oh, I believe in God, you know, sort of like I believe Abraham Lincoln existed or George Washington existed, you know, this historical faith. But that's different from truly trusting in Jesus and receiving his grace into my life.

And so we're talking about the difference between, I would say, true faith and not a real faith, a false faith. And so Paul would agree, I think, that, you know, we're justified by faith alone, but that faith that justifies is never alone, as the Protestant reformer said. And so we believe that, you know, by faith we're justified, and the same faith that justifies us, God works in and through that to sanctify us day by day.

We're never going to be perfect. And certainly, if we, you know, if we were justified by our works, if it was up to what I do to stand before God righteous, you know, before his judgment seat, well then each of us would be in a heap of trouble, because there isn't one good work that we offer to God, even as believers, even as those who have been regenerated, that isn't still tainted by sin, by our own shortcomings, by, you know, doubts and so forth. And so everything we bring to God, you know, it needs to be sprinkled with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, as the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon said. And so we're comforted by the fact that we're justified, accepted in God's sight, solely on the basis of the merits of Christ and his work for us. And we're also comforted by the fact that the same God who justified us is working in us day by day, by his spirit, to sanctify us and to mold us more into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so appreciate, again, your question, and may the Lord bless you. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

Thanks for that explanation. That trips up a lot of different people. And at the same time, I think we've talked about this whole issue of easy believism, where, you know, I went to a Billy Graham crusade, Billy Graham crusade 20 years ago, and I stood up and made a profession of faith, but nothing in my life demonstrates that I've really trusted Christ or am living for him.

That's another big problem. Well, Jesus gives us this warning, right, in Matthew chapter 7, not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven. And there, Lord functions as this kind of profession. Like James says here, even the demons believe and tremble. You know, they confess that God is one. And so it's one thing to give God lip service. It's another thing to truly trust in Christ and to follow him. And so each of us, you know, I think it's good for us to, you know, ask ourselves the question, okay, I did accept Jesus into my heart years and years ago, but, well, I don't have any interest in following him, and I don't go to church, and I don't, you know, well, well, look, trust in Jesus, truly, and follow him and seek to follow him. And you're right, Bill, there is a problem of this kind of easy believism.

You know, there are those two dangers. You have the lawlessness, antinomianism on the one hand that says, you know, oh, yeah, I believe in God, I live however I want, and, you know, I got my ticket to heaven. Well, that person is probably deceived, self-deceived. But then on the other hand, you have what we call legalism, and it's this idea that we can be justified on the basis of our good works, and that too is a terrible error, and so we need to understand that the gospel isn't either of those. It's the free grace of God that justifies us and also is renewing us day by day.

Good, good word. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Our number is 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Josh in New York. Josh, what's your question for Adriel? Hey, Pastor Adriel, how are you? I'm doing well. How are you doing?

Pretty good. I just want to ask a quick question specific to sort of where we're going through our congregation. Our pastor resigned recently, got tied up in some sort of scandal and kind of fleed from it, and my question is, what advice would you have for a congregation whose pastor resigned and sort of are left to pick up the pieces afterwards?

Well, Josh, I'm so sorry to hear about this situation. Do you, just to go back to you really quickly, do you guys have, like, is there an elder team there or a leadership team that's at least, you know, there to guide the congregation through this, or what's the structure like apart from the pastor? Yeah, we have been aiming to build elders out for a little bit now, which is sort of never came into fruition, so there is a older group of men who are sort of steering the ship now, four or five of them. Okay.

And it's helpful, just wondering, and what else might you have? Yeah, okay, so a couple of things. First, what I would want to say is, I've seen this happen in churches, and I mean, obviously, it's devastating because a lot of people, you know, they look up to the pastor, their relationships there, there's a sense of betrayal, and so I think the leaders, the older men in the church, you know, who are elders or in the process of becoming elders, part of that is going to be shepherding the congregation through that, and that's going to be fielding questions, that's going to be thinking, you know, okay, what do we need to communicate to the congregation so that they understand what took place? There is sometimes, you know, an opportunity for learning here for churches, you know.

I've seen it where, you know, something like this happens, and then people begin to say, oh man, we saw the signs, we saw these red flags here and there, we didn't recognize it, and so I think that there's an opportunity to learn. But really, first and foremost, I think there's probably, you're among them, a lot of people who are hurting, who are going to need to be cared for and shepherded and pastored by the leadership that's there, and as difficult as this is, right, if this individual was caught up in scandal, if they weren't serving the church the way that they should be, I would also want to say, look, there's hope. There's hope to grow from this into a church that is stronger, where the ministry is honoring to the Lord and the leadership is doing the things that they should be, and so not growing disheartened, but coming together and as a body, processing this together, obviously being devoted to prayer.

Maybe one thing, the first thing that you guys should do and that the leadership team should do is have times of prayer, times of prayer. Say, you know what, we're going to get together Wednesday night or Sunday after church, and we are just going to call upon the name of the Lord. Where there needs to be repentance, we're going to say, God forgive us for missing this or that red flag. Where there needs to be guidance, we're going to say, Lord, we need your help now directing our steps. And where there needs to be, again, that pastoral ministry where people are wrestling through this thing that has just transpired.

That's where these five elders, I think, need to step in and say, okay, let's talk about this, recognizing that ministers, pastors, are not immune. You see this in scripture. There's temptation, there's sin. Paul in Galatians 6 says, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself lest you two be tempted.

Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. And so I think that's what needs to happen is, one, okay, there's this awareness of, wow, this happened, this is sobering, keep watch on yourself lest you two be tempted, and now we need to bear each other's burdens. And by the way, where it talks about restoring someone in a spirit of gentleness, that doesn't mean that a pastor who has gotten caught up in some sin needs to be restored to the ministry.

No, certainly not right away. And so, you know, there needs to be a season of repentance. I don't know what's going on. It sounds like this individual has fled, but for the rest of the church, bearing one another's burdens, being committed to prayer, keeping watch on yourself, and seeking to communicate in ways that build trust and bring the congregation together over this next period of time as you begin to search for a pastor who is going to be faithful to the ministry of the word. So let's take a moment right now, brothers and sisters, to pray for Josh and for his congregation that has just gone through this tragedy, this loss, and pray that God would guide them.

Our Father in heaven, we come before you. Our hearts break just because of the things that happen, Lord, the brokenness that exists even within your church. But I pray, Lord, that you, Jesus, would shepherd Josh's congregation through this difficult time, and that through these circumstances, Lord, you would strengthen the church, that it would be stronger, healthier, that they would find and be able to call a faithful minister, Lord, who's going to care for the flock well, that this period would not lead to divisions and distrust, but would lead to unity and peace and bearing each other's burdens, Lord, as they call upon your name, as they seek you. Would you be with our brother, with the leadership team at the church, and would you bring good out of this difficult situation? In Jesus' name, amen. Amen. Josh, thanks so much for your call, for listening to Core Christianity. We'll continue to pray for you and your church in light of the situation.

This is Core Christianity. I want to mention a great resource that we have called The Five Names of God You Should Know. Yeah, get a hold of this resource.

You know, we've been talking about it. We'll focus on a few of the different names of the Lord, the divine name Yahweh, Abba, Emmanuel, that name in the prophet Isaiah with reference to Christ in particular, and so get a hold again of this resource. It's free, and it's called Five Names of God You Should Know. You can find it at forward slash offers. Well, we do receive voicemails here at Core Christianity. You can call us 24 hours a day, leave your voicemail.

Here's one from Monica in Mexico. I have a question about a verse that has always confused me. This is specifically from Mark 4 verses 11 and 12, and it's after Jesus explains the parable of the sower, and he's talking about why he speaks in parables. It sounds like he doesn't want people to understand and find forgiveness, but this does not coincide with the heart of Jesus and how he brings salvation to the people around him. I know it's referencing Isaiah, but when I read it, it gives me the same idea of not wanting people to understand and be forgiven. So how can we understand this verse?

Such an excellent question, and thank you for giving us a call as well. So a couple of things that I want to say. First, the language that you get in the parables here, it's not, and I can say this right at the outset, it's not that, you know, Jesus is like, I don't want people to be forgiven, and that he's stingy with his grace, with his love, with his mercy. We sometimes talk about a parabolic formula that you find in scripture. This statement, right, I'm going to read verse 10. When he was done, those around him with the 12 asked him about parables, and he said, to you it has been given, to you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parable, so that they may indeed see, but not perceive, and may indeed hear, but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.

And the formula that you oftentimes see is, you know, he who has ears to hear, let him hear. That's repeated over and over in places, in particular in the prophets. You see it, I mean, you mentioned Isaiah chapter 6, verses 9 and 10. You also see this in Ezekiel chapter 3, and you know where else you see it in the New Testament. It's really interesting, but it's repeated in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, where Jesus is referring to the churches. He's speaking to the churches, Revelation chapter 2, verse 7.

Here's what that formula indicates. It indicates judgment, the judgment of God being on the doorstep, and not judgment towards just anybody, but judgment towards those who had received God's gracious word of forgiveness, of mercy, and yet were turning away from it, were stopping their ears, were closing their hearts. And so Jesus is focusing here in particular on the fact that the religious leaders, those hypocrites who did have so many opportunities, opportunity after opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to receive the grace of God, what they did was they turned from the Lord.

And that's what was happening also in Isaiah chapter 6, where you again have this language. It's these people who have these promises right in front of them, but they close their hearts, they turn away from God, they rebel in sin. And so this formula, he who has ears to hear, let him hear. That parabolic formula, what it should be is like this siren call, this alarm bell going off saying, hey, the judgment is on the doorstep. You've had these opportunities, but you continue to turn away from them, to spurn them. Judgment is again at the door, and so it is another call to repentance, to realize what an individual you have been doing.

And so it's not that God again isn't gracious, that he's just, yeah, some people I want to receive my grace, others, you know, I don't care about that sort of a thing. No, it's a warning to these people who had heard the truth again and again and again and again, and yet shut their ears to it. And there's a sobering warning, brothers and sisters, for each of us. We who have heard the word of God, many times, you can go to church on Sunday, or you, you know, are in Bible studies, or you read the scriptures, you study it, but instead of following the voice of the Lord, we turn away from it.

We close our ears. No, God, I don't want to have anything to do with that. God help us. Oh, Lord, open our ears to receive your word and to follow you truly, to trust in you, not to cast aside your grace, but to receive it into our hearts by faith. That's what God calls you to, to receive his grace by faith and to walk in accordance with his word. May the Lord help all of us to that end. God bless. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, go to forward slash radio, or you can call us at 1-833-843-2673.

That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, let us know how we can be praying for you and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-24 18:27:21 / 2024-05-24 18:37:33 / 10

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