Category Archives: Revelation Commentary

Who Is A Jew? – The Purity (?) Of The Jewish Race

Revelation 2:9; 3:9:  “… them which say they are Jews and are not.”

Is there a promise of “eternal security” to all of the physical seed of Abraham? No.

Romans 11: 1 is so often quoted out of context, ignoring the following verses. The point here is that at that time the nation of Israel had been greatly reduced to a bare remnant. (See the many references to the “remnant” in the Old Testament prophets.) Many had been “cut off” and/or “blinded” because of sin and unbelief. The writer of Romans, Paul, compares it to the time of Elias when the remnant had become so small that Elias thought he was the only one left. But Paul says that, like it was in the time of Elias, there is “even so then at this present time,” a relatively small remnant. This remaining remnant is “the elect” according to the grace of God in Christ.

Only a Remnant returned from the Babylonian Captivity

In fact, after the Babylonian captivity, (500+ B.C.) only a remnant had returned to Palestine, Romans 9:27-29, quoting Isaiah 10:21-22; 1:9. Those returning to Palestine after the captivity considered themselves the purified remnant of Israel, whom God had redeemed from bondage and made heirs to the promises.*Those who remained in Babylon went into the false interpretations of Rabbinic Judaism which became known as the “Pharisees” of the New Testament era.

Jesus became the Heir of all things: Hebrews 1:2.

So are those who were “cut off” and “blinded” still Israel? No. Paul quotes from the Old Testament to show that their “cutting off” and “blindness” had been foretold, Deuteronomy chapters 29-32; Psalm 69:22; Isaiah 11:11, 12, 16; Jeremiah 11:16. But they may be grafted back in if they turn from their unbelief. If and when they are grafted back in to Christ, and also with the inflow of the Gentiles, then “all Israel will be saved as it is written,” and he quotes Isaiah 45:17, 25 and Jeremiah 31:31 where the New Covenant was promised. They can only be saved through Christ.

So what happens to those unbelievers who refuse to be grafted back in? Jesus answered that question in John 15:1-6; they will die and be burned. Christ is the only living Branch of the Old Vine. The Old Covenant passed away when there were none left to qualify under its terms. Only in the New Covenant is there opportunity to be born again to a new life.

Old Israel died.

When Old Israel refused Jesus as their Messiah Savior, it died. The doom on the Temple was pronounced in Daniel 9:26; Micah 3:12; Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19:41-44. The curse upon the fig tree, Mark 11:13 was symbolic of the curse upon the nation that was not bringing forth fruit for God. The parable of the fig tree, Mark 12:1-12 was to show that the “vineyard,” Israel, was to be taken from the wicked rulers and given to those in Christ, the Christians.

The New Israel was constituted of those who were in His Body, Matthew 26:26-28; ICorinthians 10:16-17.

But the true “Temple” would be raised up again as promised, Amos 9:11; Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58; John 2:19-21; that is the Temple of Christ’s Body, the Church, Ephesians 1:22-23.

The Promised Regathering of Israel

The regathering of Israel, as promised by the Prophets, came in the ingathering in Christ, Ephesians 1-10-11. Those who were “in Christ” were no longer strangers and foreigners, but had become Israelites in the true sense of the word, Ephesians 2:11-22. So far as the genetic blood from Abraham was concerned, the Jews were making proselytes in the New Testament era, Matthew 23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43. These proselytes need have no drop of genetic blood from Abraham, yet claimed to be “Jews”.

From the time of Christ on, forever, only those “in Christ” are truly Jews by the Biblical definition.

*(See also John Bright, A History of Israel, Westminster Press, 1959. Pp.379 and 431)

This lesson is an edited excerpt from my book, Revelation in Context, available locally at the Living Word Bookstore in Shawnee, Oklahoma or, or
Free downloads are also available at

The Church at Smyrna – Who Is A Jew?

Revelation 2:8: “The church in Smyrna.”

The writer may have employed the Hebrew meaning of the word sama`, ‘Hear!’ to speak to the church bearing the Greek name Smyrna. In Hebrew, the word ‘hear’ includes the meaning of hearing and obeying, much like the English word ‘heeding.’ The Hebrew word samar, ‘to keep watch, preserve’ may also have been in mind. The Spirit gives neither rebuke nor chastening to this church that is heeding, watching and persevering.


Revelation 2:9:I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of satan.

Revelation 3:9: “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

The sin of blasphemy was a mortal sin punishable by death under the Law, (Leviticus 24:16). But in Revelation 2:9 we find that it is blasphemy to call oneself a Jew when one is actually not a Jew. Then in 3:9 we find that it is a lie for one to say he is a Jew when he is not. So it is both a lie and blasphemy. In both cases it seems that they were “of the synagogue of satan.

Who Is A ‘Jew’?

Since it is both a lie and blasphemy to make the claim to Jewishness when one is not indeed a Jew, we should consider the Biblical requirements for claiming the title “Jew.” We are given such clear, explicit information on this subject that no one needs be ignorant of exactly how to Biblically identify who is truly a Jew as well as who is not truly a Jew.

If one is to be called a ‘Jews’ should it not be with reference to the Biblical identity? Who else but the Lord is qualified to say “Who is a Jew?” Are we to accept without question the claim of a person, or group, to Jewishness merely because they say they are Jews? According to these Scriptures, “No.”

First of all the Scriptures tell us who is not a Jew. The mark of the religion called “Judaism,” both then and now, was the outward circumcision in the flesh. In other words, the term ‘circumcision’ came to be a synonym for Judaism, (as for example in Acts 10:45; 11:2; Galatians 2:9;). So we need to see what actual Biblical circumcision is.

What Is Circumcision?

The passage in Romans 2:28-29 gives a most direct and concise answer to the question: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 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.”

The actual Biblical requirement was always, not merely the outward circumcision, – that was only the symbol, – the reality was the inward circumcision of the heart. The Covenant says:
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live,” (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings,” (Jeremiah 4:4).

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all [them which are] circumcised with the uncircumcised,” (Jeremiah 9:25).

“And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [he had yet] being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which [he had] being [yet] uncircumcised,” (Romans 4:11-12).

From these Scripture we see that fleshly circumcision was always only the outward “sign,” the mark that was intended to indicate the righteousness of faith and was never intended to be an end in itself. The “traditions” of the Pharisees perverted this teaching until Christ came and restored the original meaning of the symbol.

Christ, the Minister of True Circumcision

True circumcision of the heart became possible in Christ: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,” (Romans 15:8).

This Scripture indicates that Christ administered true circumcision. Here the word ‘minister’ is from the Greek word diakoneo which means “to serve, render service, care for one’s needs.” It is always in reference to the work done, as a service rendered.
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ,” (Colossians 2:11).

For we are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” Philippians 3:3.

This circumcision of the heart, administered by Christ, is the actual requirement for being a true Jew, according to Romans 2:28-29. All others who claim to be Jews are blaspheming according to Revelation 2:9 and 3:9. (These Scriptures are as inspired as John 3:16 or Mark 11:23-24.)

Definition of ‘Jew’

The word ‘Jew’ derives from the name ‘Judah.’ The name ‘Judah’ in the Hebrew means “praised, object of praise”. (See Genesis 29:35; 49:8) An “object of praise” must be praiseworthy, and that means we must be in Christ, Who is the One worthy of all praise. That is why, in the definition of “Jew” in Romans 2:28-29 these words are included: “whose Praise is not of men but of God.” We must be praiseworthy before God in order to be truly ‘Jews.’

‘Jews’ = ‘Israel’?

Another way to claim to be a Jew was to claim the title of ‘Israel,’ for at the time of the New Testament writings, the terms ‘Israel’ and ‘Jewish’ were synonyms. The term ‘Jew’ had lost its exclusive reference to descent from the tribe of Judah and had come to mean “those who follow the religion of Judaism.” In other words, all ‘Israel’ at that time could be called ‘Jewry’ and ‘Jewry’ was called ‘Israel.’ The tribal identities had become blurred, or lost totally.

Two “Israels”?

However, in this period between the Cross and the destruction of Jerusalem there were two opposing factions claiming the title of ‘Israel.’  There was the “Israel according to the Flesh,” (1 Corinthians 10:18), and the “Israel of God,” (Galatians 6:6). The “Israel according to the Flesh” was those who reckoned themselves as heirs of Abraham merely through fleshly descent. The “Israel of God” was those who followed the faith of Abraham by accepting Christ, whatever their fleshly lineage.

These two “Israels” are clearly distinguished in Romans 9:6-8:
“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”

Clearly, being of fleshly descent did not qualify for the title, ‘Israel,’ because:
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved,” (Romans 9:27).

All of the fleshly seed did not obtain the promise, but only the remnant chosen by grace: Romans 11:5-7: Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”

The Unbelievers Were Blinded and ‘Cut Off’

The ‘Israel’ that had not obtained was those of mere fleshly descent; they had been blinded. The ‘Israel’ that had obtained was the ‘Elect’ (or ‘Election’), those who had accepted the faith of Abraham through faith in Christ, whatever their fleshly lineage.

“But to Israel (of the Flesh) he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people,” (Romans 10:21).

Those who refused to accept Christ, the true Heir, were “cut off.” (Luke 3:9; John 15:1-6; Romans 11:17). They were no more a people of God. Those who have not accepted Christ’s circumcision of the heart and His position as the Heir of the promises are not ‘Israel’ regardless of their racial identity.  It is therefore blasphemy to call them ‘Israel.’

Claiming the title “Jew” or “Israel” is to claim descent from Abraham. Jesus clearly taught that mere fleshly descent from Abraham did not qualify one as an heir. (See John 8:31-34 and Galatians 3:16-29.) “And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” Galatians 3:29. Note the word “If”. “If ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed.” The clear implication is that if you are not Christ’s, then you are not Abraham’s seed. Those who claim to be Abraham’s seed and who are not in Christ are lying and blaspheming.

John the Baptist also taught this same doctrine:

Matthew 3:9-10: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

The Name of God

It is important to realize that the name ‘Israel’ includes the name of God: EL    ‘Israel’ means “Prince of God” or “Righteousness of God.” Many Scriptures show that the people called ‘Israel’ were to be those “called by His Name”: Deuteronomy 28:10; II Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 43:1, 7; 45:3-4; Jeremiah 14:9; Daniel 9:19; Hosea 1:10. Those “called by His Name” are His children, as a man gives his name to his children today. It is therefore Christians who are to be called by the name of God: 1 John 3:1; James 2:7. Indeed, it is Christ Who is “The Prince of God” and Who is the “Righteousness of God”.

God is very jealous for His Name: Ezekiel 39:25. The essence of the sin of blasphemy is to speak lightly or carelessly of God, and was punishable by death, (Leviticus 24:16). It is also a transgression of the third commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7). ‘In vain’ means “without purpose, foolishly, fruitlessly, idly, without just cause, groundlessly.” Those who are not in Christ have no Biblical grounds for calling themselves by the name of the Lord.

A synonym of the word ‘blaspheme’ is ‘profane,’ the original sin of satan himself: Ezekiel 28:7, 16, 18.

Tree of Life – Wisdom In The Tongue

Revelation 2:7: “To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life.”

I. Wisdom

She [Wisdom] is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy [is every one] that retaineth her,” (Proverbs 3:18).

But it is a great mystery to the world as to what that Wisdom really is. Wisdom is Christ; He is the Wisdom of God: “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 1:24).

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

That Wisdom, which is Christ, is also called “Light”:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light,” (Gen. 1:3).

He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion,” (Jeremiah 10:12).

The LORD possessed me [Wisdom] in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24 When [there were] no depths, I was brought forth; when [there were] no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I (Wisdom) was by him, [as] one brought up [with him]: and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him; 31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the sons of men,” (Proverbs 8).

“15 [Christ] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence,” (Colossians 1).

“[God] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds,” (Hebrews 1:2).

Light was the first creation; Wisdom was the first creation; Christ is the First-born of all creation: therefore Wisdom is Light and Christ is both Light and Wisdom.

There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light [Christ], that all [men] through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light. 9 [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” (John 1:6-8).

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life, (John 8:12).

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” (John 9:5).

Christ is the Word which God spoke forth in the beginning:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him, [Christ the Word]; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not,”(John 1:1-5).

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life,” (1 John 1:1).

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one,” (1 John 5:7).

And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God,” (Revelation 19:13).

The Word is Light:

Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” (Psalms 119:105).

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple,” (Psalms 119:130).

II. The Wholesome Tongue

Christ is the Word, is Light, and is Wisdom; therefore Christ is the Tree Of Life: “A wholesome tongue [is] a tree of life: but perverseness therein [is] a breach in the spirit,” (Prov. 15:4).

The word ‘wholesome’ is from the Hebrew word marpê’, meaning “a curative, a medicine or cure.” Figuratively it means deliverance, or placidity. It is also translated “healing,” “remedy,” “sound.” So we could translate it “A healing tongue.…” The fruit of that tree, the wholesome, healing tongue, is Life; yet

The fruit of the unwholesome tongue is Death:

Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof,” (Proverbs 18:21).

“Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts,” (James 4:2-3).

So we choose Life or Death by the kind of tongue we love. The Word of God is the fruit of the Tree of Life.

The Tongue Has the Power of Creation

It is a great mystery to the world that the spoken word of our tongue has the power of creation in it. Yet the Bible teaches from Genesis 1 that all creation was created by God’s spoken Word. By this same principle Jesus spoke to created things: to the fig tree: Mark 11:14; to the wind and waves: Mark 4:39-40; to bread (blessed it): Mark 6:41-44. He walked on the water: Mark 6:48. In other words, created things heard His voice and obeyed his spoken word. He thus had complete dominion over all created things. As Mankind was created in the image of God, so he has creative power in his tongue.

Jesus was only affirming the truth of Genesis 1 when He taught His disciples to “speak” to created things and command them as He had given them an example: “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them],” (Mark 11:23-4).

The disciple of Christ can have whatever he asks of the Father in faith believing and can command the created world: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).

“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19).

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22).

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it],” (John 14:13-14).

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you,” (John 15:7).

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you,” (John 15:16).

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give [it] you,” (John 16:23).

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,“(Eph. 3:20).

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight,” (1 John 3:22).

And this is the confidence that we have in him that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him,” (1 John 5).

We can even ask for the life of our brother who has sinned:

If any man see his brother sin a sin [which is] not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it,” (1 John 5:16).

Now, with these things in mind, it is possible to see why God dealt so severely with Moses when God had commanded him to “speak to” or “tell” the rock to bring forth water but instead he smote the rock, Numbers 20:1-13. Even though God was abundantly merciful to allow the waters to gush forth for the benefit of the entire congregation and their cattle, yet he rebuked Moses and Aaron and they were not allowed to bring the people into the promised land. (Numbers 20:12; 27:14; Deuteronomy 1:37; 3:26-27; Leviticus 10:3.)

Should We ‘Speak To’ or ‘Smite’?

In the eyes of the world, when we “smite the rock” it appears to them that our efforts have caused the results, or at least have contributed to them. However, if we only “speak” to the creation, even demons, then it is abundantly apparent that it is God Who has done the miracle.

The essential lesson is that God requires our full obedience. In another instance God did command Moses to “strike the rock”. Exodus 17:1-7. Although there are similarities between the two incidents, it is apparent that there were two separate incidents. In the one instance the people were at Rephidim, (Exodus 17:1-7) and the other the people were at Kadesh, (Numbers 20:1). (See also Moses written record of the journey: Numbers 33:2, 14, at Rephidim, verse 36 at Kadesh). In both cases there was strife with the people and the waters were called “strife,” Meribah. However, in the first instance God’s command to Moses was to strike the waters, whereas in the second instance God’s command was to “speak to” or “tell” the rock to bring forth water!

Wisdom teaches us obedience:

A wise son [heareth] his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke,” (Proverbs 13:1).

A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent,” (Proverbs 15:5).

In Christ, His Word and His Will we have access back to the Tree of Life.

Closed Minds

Revelation 2:7a: “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”[1]

This phrase ends every one of the messages to the Seven Churches. The main theme of the messages to the Churches is the refrain: “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.” It is a message of warning in light of the fact that Jerusalem is being destroyed because she closed her mind to Christ. On that Great Day of the Lord, at His appearing to reward His saints and to judge His enemies in the overthrow of Jerusalem, the appeal was to open their minds to Christ, the Word. The Spirit is still speaking this message to the Churches today.

A closed mind is the final stage of apostasy, beyond which there is no hope of repentance. As long as a person has an open mind, he may be taught the truth and corrected in his errors, but when he closes his mind, he seals himself into a chamber with no exit.

The closed mind accepts popular belief as authoritative and does not test doctrines or philosophies by Scripture. One attitude that reflects a closed mind is the expression: “Everyone knows –(thus and so).” Scriptures may be taken out of context as ‘proof-texts’ without weighing the evidence from the whole Bible.

“Rightly Interpreting the Word”

Interpretation is a stronghold; like a building, it is a system. It is indeed frustrating when a neat system of doctrine is upset by finding error in the foundational premises. Much effort, dedication, and persistence are required to rethink a whole system and make necessary adjustments. An attitude typical of the closed mind is: “I know what I want to believe, so don’t confuse me with the facts.”

It is painful to have to admit error or ignorance, especially when one has taught these errors to others. It is scary to take responsibility for an opinion. The easy way out is to simply say: “Our church teaches (thus and so).” It is unpleasant to the Flesh, but sweet to the Spirit to experience Truth firsthand.

Church Dogma – An Idol Not To Be Questioned

Closed minds are prevalent in the religious world, and are especially reflected in the area of dogma. Religious organizations typically lay down a body of doctrines that are considered as the authoritative principles of that religious body. Upon this basic dogma, other doctrines are built. But, while doctrinal principles may be discussed, refined, proven or disproven, the dogmatic foundations of those doctrines are expected to be accepted as true without question.

The word ‘doctrine’ implies a principle accepted by a body of believers, while ‘dogma,’ though a synonym of ‘doctrine,’ implies a doctrine that must be accepted without question merely upon the authority of the founders of the body. Obviously, if these founders were ignorant, unaware, deceived or malicious, their dogma will be faulty, and doctrines built upon that dogma will not be sound. Dogma thus assumes a blind belief in the infallibility of the founders of a religion and becomes an idol.

The Dogma of the Pharisees

Christ faced just such a situation when He ministered to the scribes and Pharisees. Their minds were closed to the truth He taught because of the dogmatic teaching of the rabbis. Many of these teachings were supposedly the authoritative interpretation of Scripture, but were actually perversions and distortions. Jesus refuted these errors consistently, for example, in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said …. but I say unto you….” He pronounced “Woes” and judgments upon those who refused to hear Him, (Matthew 23).

Christ referred these Pharisees to the Scriptural foundations. He quoted from the prophet Isaiah, (Isaiah 6:9-13). Isaiah was called to preach to the nation of Israel to warn them that judgment for their sins was coming and to call them to repentance. Yet, he was told he would not succeed in turning the nation, for “hearing they would not hear and seeing they would not perceive.” Isaiah would fail, for their minds were closed.

When he asked: “How long, O Lord?” the answer was:  “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without men, and the land is utterly desolate, and the Lord removes men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.” (RSV)

Their destruction was assured because of their closed minds. Yet, though the nation would not be saved, his preaching was not in vain for a remnant would hear and be saved.

Christ knew that He faced the same situation – people with closed minds, accepting only the interpretations of their malicious leaders; people whose ears were closed to hearing and whose eyes were closed to seeing the truth, (Matthew 13:14-17; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:9-10; John 12: 39-40.) This willful blindness and deafness greatly grieved and frustrated our Lord. It was this that prompted Him to so often repeat the refrain: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus Calls Us To “Hear”

The series of parables in Mark 4:1-33 begins with the command: “Hearken!” (KJV) or “Listen!” (RSV). The series ends with the statement that Jesus taught the larger crowds by parables only as they were able to hear, (v. 33). The reason for using parables as a method of teaching is given in verse 12:

“So that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.” (RSV)

The principal point of the parables is given in verses 24 and 25: “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”

In context, when He speaks of the ‘measure,’ He is speaking of the measure of the Word which a man has allowed to take root and to bear fruit in his life. To him that has thus incorporated the Word into his life, more of the Word will be given, but to him that has only accepted the surface meaning of the parables, and who refuses to allow the Word to impart a deeper spiritual meaning, even the Word that he has heard superficially will be taken from him.

The Parable Of The Candle

The parable of the candle, (Mark 4:21-22), is about the entrance of the Word into a man. Psalm 119:130: “The entrance of thy words giveth light: it giveth understanding unto the simple.” The Word enters a man through the channel of hearing. Unless the hearer places the ‘light’ of the Word upon a ‘candlestick,’ that is, gives it a place of prominence and honor, it will not give him light. But if it is given its proper place, it will illuminate his inner man, cleansing him from the secret sins of the heart and mind.

Those with closed minds do not allow the Word to penetrate their hard exterior of religious dogma. As both the fulfillment and the embodiment of the Word, Christ emphasized its acceptance as a means of salvation. So Christ punctuated the parables, as well as the messages to the churches with the refrain: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Search The Scriptures – Learn Their Context

Genuine faith in the Scriptures does not fear to subject them to careful scrutiny and analysis. The doctrine of the infallibility of the Scriptures has been well examined and has proven reliable. The Holy Bible has been preserved and transmitted down to us as a faithful witness to the Truth by many generations of saints. But examining our dogmatic beliefs can be unsettling, for our entire philosophy of life rests upon them. In rooting out false dogma, we must carefully examine them in the light of the Scripture and hold fast that which is good.

The Scriptures establish that Jesus is the Messiah Savior, the Son of the Living God, whose coming was foretold by the Prophets. His words have been tried and proven for 2000 years. We can accept His authority. Upon His authority, we can accept Christ’s Spirit, which says: “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

The Spirit of Truth

This Spirit of Truth will reveal our weaknesses and errors and give us full assurance of pardon if we repent and allow the Truth to rule our conduct and thinking, although here we only know in part – our knowledge is not perfect. The Spirit of Truth is also the Spirit of Love. Because He loves us, we have the security to examine the Scriptures without bias and without fear of condemnation. We can postpone an opinion until we have gathered more information and we can change our opinion when we find we are wrong. In other words, we can be teachable.

The greatest hindrance to enlightenment is a closed mind. The greatest challenge to teaching is not how to fill a mind, but how to open it. “The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back,” (Isaiah 50:5).

[1] In Hebrew perhaps “Hearing, let him hear… (with acceptance)“.

False Apostles

Revelation 2:2: “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.”

Them which say they are apostles and are not.” This is in anticipation of the warning in 2:9 (to Smyrna) and 3:9 (to Philadelphia) against “those who say they are Jews but are not.” These false apostles are judged like the false Jews, – they are liars.

Danger of False Doctrine

Eusebius quotes the writings of Hegesippus concerning “the seven sects” which divided the Church in his day:

“Every man introducing his own opinion in his own particular way. From these in turn came false Christs, false prophets, false apostles, who split the unity of the Church by poisonous suggestions against God and against His Christ,” (4.22.4).

This is similar to the modern “new age” teaching that everyone should be “true to himself” and pay no attention to anyone else. This is the prelude to anarchy. When this teaching is practiced, the culture descends into the law of the jungle, “survival of the fittest,” and “law of tooth and claw.”

There must be a standard for living in community with others and the reality is that only the Bible standards can survive the ages. Jesus is our Perfect Example. He sacrificed Himself for the good of Humankind. As Christians we are called to just such sacrifice.