Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth

Matthew 15:8; Isaiah 29:13.  These people draw near unto me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, but it was in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the ordinances of man.                                                    

Jesus told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is their doctrines. The Lord regularly spoke against the traditions of men displacing God’s word as their memorials. If talk of firstborn sons, unleavened bread and the Torah given to Moses as the Memorials we maintain before God strikes you as odd, your “bread” may have been leavened by the doctrines of men.

Much of Paul’s teaching in regards to the Law has been greatly misconstrued.  He wrote:

Ephesians 2:15.  having abolished in His flesh the enmity, “the law of commandments contained in ordinances”…

this expression in the Greek “nomos entole en dogma” refers to the place given to commentaries of man. Dogma in English comes directly from the Greek dogma and refers to the opinion of “experts”. Someone is dogmatic when they are devoted to the teachings of a preferred teacher, preacher or guru.

1 Corinthians 5:8.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

 Paul gave this testimony of himself at Jerusalem:

Acts 22:3. I am verily a man who is a Jew born in Tarsus in Cilicia yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers.

This manner of the law of the fathers went way beyond the study of the law and the prophets, but was thorough in considering the commentaries of experts, known as sages, who often interpreted passages in contrary ways.

Paul is even more direct in writing;

Colossians 2:15.  blotting out the “handwriting” of ordinances (dogma), which was against us (as a testimony to the doctrines of men), which was contrary to us and took it out of the way, nailing it to His stake.                                                                                             

This is only evident when we are circumcised by the circumcision of Christ (without hands, in the Spirit not the flesh).                                              

Colossians 2:8. That you be not spoiled by the philosophy and tradition of men, which is vain deceit (and conceit), and worldly principles (degrees) which are perishing. 

Romans 8:3. for what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

The issue is clearly the weakness of the flesh, not the inadequacy of the Law. Our carnal man must die for us to fulfill the good and perfect and acceptable Will of God, as expressed by His Torah.                                                   

Romans 3:31.  Do we then make void the Law through faith? God Forbid! Yea, we establish the Law!         

Only through a correct understanding of Romans 7 can we properly receive from the Spirit in Romans 8. Paul describes our struggle with the carnal nature, and the ineffectiveness of the Law to overcome the “law of sin and death.”

Romans 7:15-20.  For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what my will is to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate is that I do. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.       

And so we see Paul repeat this word dwell three times to emphasize the nature of sin as a “resident” in my house, who is a homewrecker. The will of sin is contrary to our own and leads us to self-destructive behavior that man was unable to overcome without a Savior. This he purposely presents to serve as a contrast to the point he intends to make in chapter 8. He closes the chapter and builds a bridge to the next with this proclamation:

Romans 7:22-25.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.                 

Only now, with a thorough understanding of chapter 7 can a disciple grasp the victory described in chapter 8. Many times I have heard preaching directly from Romans 8 that if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in you by faith. This is not the point that Paul was trying to make at all. This is not “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” theology.

Romans 8:9.  But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 

We now see Paul using the same word that he used three times in Romans 7, to say that if the Spirit of God directs your will the way the sin nature did before, then you will walk in victory.

Romans 8:11.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.                                                                   

When he says “by his Spirit that dwells in you”, he implies that the Spirit is dwelling with you in harmony and cooperation. This is what the Lord and the apostle John referred to as “abiding in” the Spirit.

Romans 8:13,14.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.                                                   

Galatians 5:16-18.   I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  

Joshua 24:14.  Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

A Circumcised Heart

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all males must be circumcised. Circumcision was a hot topic in the early church with regard to expectations placed upon Gentile believers.

Exodus 12:48.  And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

Paul resolved the issue:    

Romans 2:28 & 29.  For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.     

Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to “in the spirit and not in the letter”.  But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul: 

Galatians 1:10.  For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

 1 Thessalonians 2:4.  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts.” Granted, He certainly does try us, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question: am I pleasing men or God.  This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.”  The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, he is paraphrasing a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is attempting to remind them of instructions he gave while he was with them. 

Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts 18.  He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…then he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.   v.11.   

So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.  Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord which exercises loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.                     

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29.  for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text?   Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Jeremiah 9:25&26.  Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all of them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.   

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word.  Even as Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

Corinthians 3:15-17.  For unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.         

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel. This is an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God revealed in Christ that Paul speaks of:

1 Corinthians 4:1&2.  Let a man so account of us as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

In order to be a faithful steward, a saint must know what these mysteries are of which Paul speaks.

Romans 11:25.  For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.   

Compare to this verse, and consider the time: 

Luke 21:24.  And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Spirit of the World

Psalm 24:1.  The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

The earth (Hebrew  ‘erets) is the ‘dry land’ of creation when God gathered together the waters after establishing a firmament, or atmosphere above the waters. This earth is most important for mankind as God’s Providence for all creation that ‘has breath’. 

The world (Hebrew tebel) is derived from the word yabal, to bring forth, or flow out. The world consists of all that man has brought forth from his ‘imagination’, and the influence of angelic beings and other spiritual powers.

The world is at odds with the Will of God in countless ways, especially in regard to the impact it has on the earth and its ability to provide for all creation. For the children of God to understand the need to ‘overcome the world’, they must also understand the world as the habitation for multitudes of spirits that are contrary to the Spirit of Truth.

Ephesians 6:12.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

John 14:15-17.  If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he abides with you, and will be in you.

Only by abiding in the promise of the Father can a child of God hope to overcome the world. In the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, Jesus delivers seven messages to seven elect churches in Asia Minor. Each of these messages concludes with promises from the Holy Spirit for those who hear in the churches, and overcome the world. This must be emphasized!

The promises are not given to those who simply believe, but are for those who overcome. 

God’s Spiritual Provision 

The Holy Spirit is God’s Provision for our spirit, to overcome the spirit of the world. 

1 Corinthians 2:12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (meaning examined).

We cannot rightly discern good and evil by the knowledge of good and evil. We must discern the spirit, and the commendation of the Holy Spirit. It is not just the deed that establishes the good, but the spirit in which it was done. The intentions of man’s desires corrupts virtue.

2 Peter 1:3, 4. According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by selfish desire.

We are born from above and receive from the Spirit that we may live not only by good deeds, but under the direction of God’s Will, with pure intent.

1 Peter 4:1, 2. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the desires of men, but to the will of God.

John 7:17. Anyone whose will is to do His will, shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God.

Hebrews 5:11-15.  We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

The spirit of the world dwells in every source of knowledge and information. Contemporary religious doctrine is contaminated by academic beliefs and traditions of men, even as in the time of Christ in “the fullness of time”.

Colossians 2:8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

1 John 4:1-4.  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby we know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

The Spirit brings Deliverance

Romans 8:27.  Now He who searches the heart knows the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Ephesians 2:1-5. (The Message translation.) It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing whatever we feel like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. 

The Spirit provides correction in righteousness, to avoid the ways of the world that are an offence to God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Matthew 18:6, 7. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes!

Isaiah 26:9.   With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

1 Corinthians 11:32. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

You must be born from above by the Spirit of Truth

John 8:23.   Jesus said unto them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.

1 John 5:4, 5.  For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The power to overcome begins with this true confession of faith, and continues as we walk in the Spirit, the light of Life.

Revelation 12:11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 21:7.   Those who overcome shall inherit all things; and I will be their God, and they shall be my offspring.  

John 16:33. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Friend or Foe?

James 4:4b.   Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Man must accept responsibility for the fact that his nature has corrupted the world.

Genesis 6:11, 12. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all mankind had corrupted his way upon the earth.

The spirit of the world is common and familiar to the human spirit. We must be sanctified to serve the Lord in newness of life by the Spirit of Truth.

1 John 2:15-17.  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing  away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.

All creation groans under the burden of man’s fall from grace.

Romans 8:19-21.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

Jesus Christ restores our relationship with God, that was severed by sin.

Isaiah 59:1, 2.  Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Man’s nature is hostile to the divine nature, which must be received as a gift of God.

2 Peter 1:4. Thereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

To be delivered from that nature, man must be separated from the world into the Kingdom of God; to experience deliverance from corruption.

Romans 5:10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The divine nature is not obtained by genetics, personal improvement or education.

John 1:12, 13. As many as received Him, He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Life in Christ by the Will of God separates us to be useful to His purpose. Many have placed their hope in the Grace of God, but grace without purpose leads into error.

2 Timothy 1:8, 9.  Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

We must be born from above by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit to truly love God, and one another.

The Message: God Is Love.

1 John 4. 

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.  My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

Set Free from sin, set free to Love

 

The Voice of the Spirit

John 17:1-3.   He said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so the Son may glorify You. Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, so may He give eternal life to all those You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah, the One You sent.

How do we come to know God and obtain this eternal life? The ones we know; we recognize their voice.

John 10:4  The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them; and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Whether we are listening to the spoken Word or studying devotionals, praising God or meditating in His presence, the one goal remains constant: to know His voice.  One of the  earliest ways that the priesthood referred to the Lord was “The Voice.”

Numbers 7:89, JPS Tanakh.     And when Moses went into the tent of meeting that He might speak with him, then he heard the Voice speaking unto him from above the ark-cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and He spoke unto him.

The point of this is that we can listen to the Word of God being read aloud or preached, and hear the voice of the Spirit as a life giving word from what is being spoken if we abide in the Spirit. Haven’t you had the Lord drop something into your spirit while listening to preaching?

Titus 1:3.   He has made manifest His Word through preaching.

1 Corinthians 1:21.   For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

Romans 10:14&15.  How then shall they call on the One in whom they have not trusted? And how shall they trust in the One they have not heard of? And how shall they hear without someone proclaiming? And how shall they proclaim unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim good news of good things!”

This is why the message must not deviate from what was presented by the first apostles.

John 6:63.   It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no benefit. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life. 

John 16:7&8 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.        

It is always the work of the Holy Spirit to convict someone to repentance.
This is why Paul said:

1 Corinthians 2:1-5.    When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with excellence of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery of God. For I decided not to know about anything among you except Yeshua the Messiah and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The Message of the Messiah must register to the listener through the Voice of the Spirit, not our own. In this knowledge of God is the continual blessing.

Revelation 1:3.   Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

John 3:29     He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.

A Righteous Branch

Jeremiah 23:1, 2.  Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.

Even as Jesus pronounced woes to the teachers of the Law, His voice was echoing Jeremiah with the warnings for any who would assume spiritual authority over others to their harm. 

If pastors fail to make faithful assessments of the spiritual condition of the flock, the Lord Himself will make known His assessment of that pastor.

The Lord’s Visitation

To visit is to look upon to help, benefit or care for; but can also ultimately bring forth judgment without repentance, and a failure to show mercy. Jesus describes the day of His judgment on all peoples. 

For those approved:

Matthew 25:36.  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.

For those rejected:

Matthew 25:43.   I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.

Those who rejoiced at the coming of Jesus Christ proclaimed these words:

Luke 7:16. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.

In doing so, they echoed the prophetic words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.

Luke 1:68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.

Luke 1:77, 78. To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us.

All who are the servants of the Lord, not just pastors, have the opportunity to participate in the Lord’s visitation, for this is our true religion.

James 1:27.  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.

The remnant will be gathered.

Jeremiah 23:3, 4.  But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.  I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking, says the Lord.

Every Christian should hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in the word of Jeremiah. This remnant of the flock includes the Gentiles who have put their trust in Him.

John 10:16.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

The remnant [H7611-shĕ’eriyth], is derived from the root [sha’ar, H7604], that which remains, or was left behind. This pertains to The Day of Judgment. In Isaiah and Jeremiah, as well as the New Testament writings, the remnant will remain after the harvest. 

These gleanings of the Lord, which were reckoned separately. While most are very familiar with the tithe, rarely are the gleanings discussed, for they point to what will remain, after the judgment.

The Unprofitable Servant

The words of scripture are chosen very carefully for those who have ears to hear. All who are called receive their portion, but not all will be faithful.

Matthew 13:10-12. And the disciples came and said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables?  He answered and said to them, Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

Matthew 25:28-30.  So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Many seek the Lord desiring what He alone is able to give them. (The Called). Very few come to Him desiring to serve, to receive from Him what is provided for others.

John 6:26, 27. Jesus answered them and said, Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.  Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.

Judgment and Righteousness

Jeremiah 23:5, 6. Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.  In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

To be an executor in covenant, one must keep the Way of the Lord. Christ fulfilled all Righteousness through the Branch of David,  perfecting every covenant between God and man, beginning with Abraham.

Genesis 18:19.  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to execute judgment and righteousness; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

The Stewardship of Abraham in covenant with God was not just in keeping Judgment and Righteousness, but to take command over all in his sphere of influence by keeping the Way of the Lord. The Memorials of the Lord must be passed onto the next generation. The Way of the Lord always includes this Stewardship.

Jesus Alone Is Exalted

Isaiah 5:16.  But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is Holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.

For the Lord to be exalted in judgment, the Holy Spirit must be involved to counsel your decision. This is an absolute requirement when passing on the Way of the Lord. Righteousness requires our sanctification from carnal ideas.

2 Corinthians 3:4, 5. And such trust have we through Christ toward God: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.

Clothed in Righteousness

Job 29:14.  I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.

1 Peter 5:5. Likewise, you younger ones, submit yourselves to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Romans 13:14. Therefore, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop making provision for the desires of the flesh.

Psalm 106:3. Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that executes righteousness at all times.

Establishing the Law

Isaiah 16:5. In mercy the throne will be established, and One will sit on it in Truth, in the tabernacle of David, Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.

James 2:13.  For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Isaiah 56:1. Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.

Romans 3:31.  Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Jeremiah 33:15.  In those days and at that time, I will grow up unto David a Branch of righteousness; he shall execute judgment and righteousness for the earth.

One True Gospel

Galatians 1:8. I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Over time many have felt the need to adapt the Gospel to a particular time and place as a strategy for outreach and church growth. Let us be clear as to why the Gospel you preach must be pure and true.

John 16:7 & 8. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. 

An evangelical presentation of the Gospel may prove effective for “winning souls”, but will only fail to gather those chosen by the Lord absent the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:9. Conviction of sin, because they believe not on me.

True conviction of sin does not occur by preaching against sin. Someone may feel ashamed if they feel called out for their behavior. They may want to be a better person, spouse, and citizen. 

There is only one Holy conviction: Jesus Christ, crucified for sin.

1 Corinthians 2:2. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Therefore, the first element of the Gospel is WHO Jesus is, not what He has become to the world. He may be our Savior, Redeemer, Lord and King, but first and foremost, He is the only begotten Son of God.

 John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (most beloved verse).

John 20:31.  But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life through his name.

Message Adaptation

The most prevalent adaptation to the Gospel is the “die and go to heaven” message. This evolved out of the myth that “good people” go to heaven when they die. This is easily debunked with the familiar verses from Paul: 

Romans 3:23. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. 

Romans 6:23.  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

However, the message of: accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and invite Him into your heart, and when you die you will go straight to heaven, is based on the fear of death, and is not the Gospel preached in the New Testament. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is never presented as a ‘die and go to heaven’ message, but a ‘live in holiness and righteousness in the sight of God’.

Luke 1:74, 75. To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear. In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

The Righteous Judge

The consistent apostolic message, and that of Jesus Christ himself, is that of a coming resurrection of the dead and the righteous judgment of God, to which He is appointed the only Potentate.

1 Timothy 6:15.  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

John 5:26-30.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,  and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

The Apostolic Message

Acts 4:1, 2. And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 10:42. And He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that He is the One ordained by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

Acts 17:30, 31. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

Overcome the World

1 John 5:4&5. For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world by our faith. Who overcomes the world? The one who confesses and believes that Jesus is the Son of God!  

When the Lord visited John on Patmos, He delivered messages for seven churches in Asia, which included a promise to each one that we may contemplate.

These promises are not offered to those who believe, but to those who overcome.

 Revelation 2:7. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Revelation 2:11. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.

Revelation 2:17. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives.

Revelation 2:26-28.  And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels, as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.

Revelation 3:5. The one who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels. 

Revelation 3:12. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

Revelation 3:21, 22. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Finally, at the close of the Message, we have this precious promise.

Revelation 21:7. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

John 16:33. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Victory Found In His Presence

By the covenant promise made to David and abiding in the Holy Spirit provides the discipline and correction that gives life. To live in righteousness and stand worthy at the Judgment.  We overcome by the One who overcame the world,  abiding in His Presence by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:29-34. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb,  but God raised Him from the dead.  And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: I will give you My steadfast love for David.

Hebrews 12:7-11. It is for discipline that you endure. God is treating you as sons, for what son does a father not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, something all have come to share, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Besides, we are used to having human fathers as instructors and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  Indeed, for a short time they disciplined us as seemed best to them; but He does so for our benefit, so that we may share in His holiness.  Now all discipline seems painful at the moment, not joyful. But later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

1 Corinthians 11:31, 32. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

1 Timothy 5:24,25. Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

Valedictory Victory Address

2 Timothy 4:1-8. 

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous  Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His Presence.

Amen! Halleluyah!

The Will of God

Mark 10:17, 18.  Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

The Messiah did not come into the world to declare the kingdom of heaven open to all who would do good, but to establish a family inheritance based on One Truth.

Matthew 12:47-50.   Then one said to Him, Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You. But He answered and said to the one who told Him, Who is My mother and who are My brothers? And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.

Mark 10:19. You know the commandments….

Mark 10:20. And he answered and said to Him, Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.

Mark 10:21-22.  Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me. But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

People with great possessions honor one another with humanitarian awards for their generous charity. Jesus said that a poor widow’s single mite offered was of greater value in the kingdom of heaven.

John 5:44. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from God only?

Jesus came to reconcile the world to His Father, God in heaven.

John 5:30.  I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

Messiah came, that we can have the same life that He shared with the Father. As the Logos, the Son of God manifests the Father’s Intent. The Will of God for every child of God is displayed in the life of Jesus Christ, the son of man.

John 5:19.  Then Jesus answered and said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

Matthew 7:21. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 

Luke 6:46. But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

Not every good or positive action comes from above. That which is born of the Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit. 

John 3:5-7. Jesus answered, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born from above.

Only what God puts into our spirit, by the Holy Spirit, will survive the judgment.

John 3:12.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Essential teaching of John the Baptist: John 3:27-36.

John 3:31.  He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 

John 3:36.  He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

The Son Declares the Father’s Heart

John 3:14-18.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but the ones who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The Kingdom of Our Lord is a Kingdom of the Eternal Spirit.

John 4:23, 24.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

To be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven requires a spiritual transformation.

Matthew 17:1, 2. Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured[G3339] before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

Romans 12:1, 2. I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service.  Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed[G3339] by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 3:17, 18.  Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed[G3339] into the same image from glory to glory—just as from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

To ‘believe in’ the Son means to fully commit one’s trust.

John 6:27, 29. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.  This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.

John 6:39, 40.  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:63. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

John 7:16-18. Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone is willing to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.  He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

John 8:28.29. Then Jesus said to them, When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.

We must lay down our life, that we may take it up again.

John 10:17. Therefore My Father loves Me because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

Matthew 16:24, 25. Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

We must learn to recognize the Voice of the Spirit to follow the Lord.

John 10:27-29. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

The Doctrine of Christ is that with our spirit, we reflect the relationship of the Son to the Father, by the Holy Spirit and the Will of the Father.

Matthew 11:27. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

Religious denominations have moved away from the leading of the Holy Spirit, changing doctrine to suit the times.

2 John 9. Whoever moves ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

John 12:44-50. He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.  I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness…. 

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.

Matthew 10:24, 25.  A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.

Mark 10:44, 45.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Homily

What has become a familiar refrain in modern Christianity is that if you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you can know that you will go to heaven when you die. This was never the apostolic message or the teaching of Jesus Christ. The True Gospel is not a ‘die and go to heaven’ message, but a ‘live in righteousness and holiness before Him all the days of our life’ message. 

The hope of a ‘better place’ where people go when they die has been around long before even Moses. People all over the world have some form of tradition. Curiously, the Hebrew understanding that Jesus confirms is that the dead go to Hades, in the earth, to await the resurrection and judgment. Jesus went there after his death to preach before His resurrection.

The Crux is concerned with the resurrection of the dead, and an eternal judgment. Many Christians seem to think that they will be bypassing this entirely! The Kingdom of God and Heaven is a Kingdom of Righteousness. When your life reflects the Eternal Spirit of this kingdom, you have boldness to live your life before God, and the confident hope to stand before The Messiah at the Judgment. 

Those who do not teach and preach this message are liars and thieves. They are stealing from those who would receive the Just recompense of reward for the Righteous. How you live your life means everything to God. And yet I have heard preachers say “you didn’t do anything to get yourself saved, what makes you think you can do anything to get unsaved?” This is not the true meaning of the least of these, but has become the new Standard. There is only one True Standard, crucified with Christ.

Revelation 12:11. They overcome  by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they do not love their lives even in the face of death.

Mercy Is Strength

Psalm 18:1.  I will love You, O Lord, my strength.

Such a beautiful sentiment expressed here in the translation of this verse.

Examining the Hebrew, we find these words:   Racham YHVH Khayzek

Racham is used 47 times in the OT, and means mercy and compassion. Yet in one single verse, it is translated Love. Welcome to that verse. Translators are very effective in presenting the Psalms of David in beautiful, poetic language. However, what this actually says is “(In) The mercy of the Lord is (my) strength.”

So why the outlier translation of racham? The problem for the translation is the word khayzek, and relating mercy to strength. The dictionary definition of mercy is clemency, forbearance, forgiveness. This is only the correct understanding from the perspective of a man of the earth, who understands earthly things. From the perspective of the one granting the mercy, in this case the heavenly Father, it is an impartation of strength.

Consider this verse:

Zechariah 10:6. I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. 

We can now condense this verse to ‘strength and salvation are found in the mercy of the Lord’. A statement that is not the least bit controversial.

Now we can apply this knowledge to a parable of Jesus in Matthew.

Matthew 18:23-27.  Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

First consider how this falls on the ears of His listeners. How unlikely a scenario! Can a ruler dare sully his reputation by allowing someone to walk away with this great debt forgiven outright? Rulers tend toward ruthless in their reputation out of necessity. If he becomes known as someone who just wipes away someone’s debt, he will surely be taken advantage of by others.  For the sake of His parable, this serves Jesus well, because in this scenario, the One granting the mercy is His heavenly Father.

When Moses asked the Lord to reveal His name unto him, he received this description of God’s desired reputation:

Exodus 34:6, 7.  And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,  keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.

Our Heavenly Father, unlike a king of the earth, can afford to be merciful and gracious, and desires to be known as such. However, He makes it clear that He by no means clears the guilty. This is why people were instructed in the Gospels:

Matthew 3:8.  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.

Returning to the parable, we now find the servant who received forgiveness engaging in unacceptable behavior.

Matthew 18:28-34. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you  all.’  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

Notice that we cannot question the king’s authority here. He can forgive a debt today, and cast into torment the following day for the same debt, made worse by unrepentant behavior. Now comes the stern warning to all who call themselves believers:

Matthew 18:35.  So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

And yet we hear taught “the unconditional love” of God. This defies the very nature of a covenant relationship. Even the most lackadaisical Christian knows the Lord’s prayer, but the words of Jesus given in commentary after this prayer, makes the same demand.

Matthew 6:14, 15.  For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And so this:

Matthew 5:7.   Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.