Review and then Focus on Recognizing and Reasoning
The Reapers Roadmap materials previously presented summarized how The Bible’s Gospel of John 1:10-13 and the “Parable of the Sower” found in Matthew 13:1-9 shows the way redemption typically happens, or regretfully fails to happen. That is, it shows how people come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, or choose another course both for their life on earth and more importantly for eternity.
John 1:9-13 (NIV): 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
God reveals his word and ways so people have the chance to learn more and get to know God better by applying their reason and strength. God presents his message both to Jews and Gentiles. Today, God through his word and the Holy Spirit calls to those who attend Christian Services and who hear God’s word elsewhere along life’s paths. In the “Parable of the Sower” this is like dropping seeds of God’s word along the path, as illustrated in the Bible in Matthew 13:1-9.
Parable of the Sower: Matthew 13: 1-9 (NIV): 1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
Focus on Recognizing & Reasoning
Recall that many people have difficulty recognizing God when God’s word is revealed. It’s possible people find it inconvenient to learn more when they have others things they’d prefer to be doing. It’s possible prior choices have moved people increasingly further away from the path of life. Their past decisions then make it more difficult to understand God’s word when it is revealed.
Parable of the Sower Explained: Matthew 13:18 & 19 (NIV): 18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
The Stumbling Block
The scriptures identify the pride of human wisdom as a stumbling block to recognizing God, where people too quickly dismiss the truth, thinking what they have learned already makes them wiser, seeking the world’s wisdom rather than God’s. Scripture also explains people reject and ignore it on their own because they find the righteousness of God a discomfort, a stumbling block, compared to their own ideas of how God must be.
1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NIV): 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
There are tremendous consequences for individuals and groups of people when they fail to recognize God, being too quick to favor their own reasoning and ideas above God’s. Here Jesus laments over Jerusalem, because their failure to recognize God in the present had far-reaching consequences into the future.
Luke 19:41-44 (NIV): 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Because God works through individual people to share his word, the ability to recognize God for most people, involves the skill to discern their beliefs, doctrines and understanding of Jesus as the Christ, the Savior of the World.
1 John 4:1-3 (NIV): 1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
Lazarus and Rich Man
To recognize Jesus Christ, it’s critical that one also believes what has been recorded in the Bible prior to his coming, by the prophets and teachers like Moses, Abraham, King David, Solomon, Isaiah, Micah, and likewise other witnesses of God, the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God explains that evidence provided over thousands of years as to what to look for in the Savior Jesus Christ is absolutely abundantly adequate for people who are open to believing. For those who wish to use their reasoning to disbelieve, to follow their own ways, and ignore God, even more fantastic evidence would just be discarded. That is, if after so much evidence and miracles and prophesies, they are too little for a person’s impossible standards, well, their standards, methods, approaches, and motives to reasoning need serious review.
Luke 16:19-31 (NIV): 19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 ” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “
Star and Birth in Bethlehem
How is it that Jesus is understood and recognized as the way to God, as the Savior of the World? The promises of God to send a savior involved several specifics, such as the birthplace as Bethlehem in the land of Judah.
Matthew 2:1-7 (NIV): 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 ” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
The quote the Jewish people offered to King Herod was from the Jewish book of Micah 5:2. Further examining the prophesy in Micah 5:2 reveals clues to recognize the identity and origins of the savior as from ancient times.
Micah 5:2 (NIV): 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
The wise from the east, likely from the territory we’d name as the middle east today, travelled a long distance to give gifts to the savior Jesus, while still just a baby under the protective hand of God the Father, because they reverently recognized his importance.
Matthew 2:9-12 (NIV): 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Crucifixion & Burial & Resurrection Prophesies
The ancient prophesies about Jesus started to be fulfilled before his birth, then as a baby, and later into adulthood, followed also by his death, burial, and resurrection. If you are open to evidence to help you use your reason to recognize God, there are 300 different prophecies about Jesus, The Christ, covered at the website http://bibleprobe.com/300great.htm , and several prophecies about Jesus as the Son of God come as on of us available at http://www.100prophecies.org/evidence.htm , and a yet another list of prophesies at the website http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/messianic.htm .
Beyond prophesies, the disciples of Jesus performed miracles in his name after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascent to heaven. To understand how miracles are consistent with the science of world’s, visit the CreationOpia website at http://CreationOpia.WordPress.com to learn about that paradigm, to overcome limitations narrow science often portrays, by ignoring a broader spectrum of fields like computer science.
In Acts 4:9-14 is just one account of the miracles performed by the disciple Peter and John after Jesus’s death and resurrection to help you recognize Jesus Christ’s divinity, his ancient heavenly origins.
Acts 4:9-14 (NIV): 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
Sow & Seek & Learn
As you seek to recognize the righteousness of God as revealed through Jesus Christ, follow through. Do your part to learn God’s word, to plant the seeds of eternal life by being disciples who learn God’s word in the Bible. Be open to letting go of grudges, forgiving others, and caring for others. Show God you wish to turn from doing evil and repent from hating others. This is summarized eloquently by the prophet Hosea in Hosea 10:12.
Hosea 10:12 (NIV): 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.
You of your own reasoning can never fully know God. Yet, God calls you to seek him while he can be recognized and found by you. God wishes to see you searching for him, as yet another avenue for God to elect you to know him intimately, which is impossible to do unless God’s votes to elect you into his private circle.
Matthew 6:33 (NIV): 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Isaiah 55:5-9 (NIV): 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” 6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So, once you are ordained into God’s favor, make your calling and election sure, through these guidelines the apostle Peter instructs us to follow to properly build upon our faith in Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:3-11 (NIV): 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Before this happens, recognize that God looks to see who will search for him, and who will turn to the Lord.
Psalm 53:2 (NIV): 2 God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
Unfortunately, without guidance from God or from those who know God, no one is wise to seek God on their own.
Psalm 53:3 (NIV): 3 Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
So, God choses to inform people we know about God and the wisdom of God. This is so they can reflect that wisdom and knowledge to us. The reflecting provides us a reasonable option, the choice, the chance to recognize and come to know God. God sent prophets and other messengers to inform us of God’s will, wisdom, and ways. The apostle Paul, whom God blinded, restored vision, and revealed his word, was chosen by God for this purpose from birth.
Galations 1:13-17 (NIV): 13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Righteousness by Faith
The apostle Paul sought to teach others to recognize the correct view of God, that can only be known through the redemptive faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is so important to have the correct view of God. Those teaching a different gospel will be eternally condemned by God! Wow! So, search deeply the scriptures contained in The Bible, join a church that teaches that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, and watch out, be on guard for any false teachings that are contrary to the written revealed word of The Bible.
Galations 1:6-10 (NIV): 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
What is the message to which the apostle Paul speaks to have us recognize? It is the message that, although we are undeserving, God has promised grace to those who believe, whom Jesus Christ will justify by paying the penalty of death required of sinners. Jesus Christ is able to pay the penalty, because he bore the cost for us when he was unjustly crucified on the cross for our sins.
Galations 2:15-21 (NIV): 15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. 17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
True Faith Accompanied by Actions
Because we are justified by faith rather than works, does this mean that faith is without works? Quite the contrary, faith is perfected by works. Works are evidence of faith. Yet, works can never justify those who sinned already. True faith is accompanied by works. Faith without works is dead. Recognize that doing good never justifies any wrong we’ve done.
James 2:14-18 (NIV): 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
There are many people who honestly believe there is one God, even acknowledge and recognize Jesus Christ as God. Does that mean they are saved? During Jesus’ life work, several demons recognized Jesus as the holy one, yet they were not saved. So, what type of faith are we talking about? Academic faith that acknowledges and recognizes who the one true God is only? No, much more than an academic faith. True faith is strong enough to manifest itself in action and in heartfelt obedience to God. True faith loves and forgives and repents and obeys. True faith envelops ones mind, heart, and figuratively, one’s hands.
James 2:19-26 (NIV): 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
True faith relies upon God’s promises to those who are sincere and faithful.
Romans 10:6-13 (NIV): 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Ask God to Increase Belief & Decrease Unbelief
In what category is your faith? Ask God to help you to recognize him and have faith accompanied by works and to help you both to bolster your belief and to overcome your unbelief.
Matthew 9:24 (NIV): 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Recognizing & Reasoning: Further Study
To recognize God correctly, requires your reasoning, and recurring reading and reflection upon God’s Word found in The Bible at websites like The Bible Gateway http://www.biblegateway.com and an audio bible at http://www.audio-bible.com/nasb . You can help your reasoning and recognizing skills by listening to preachers like Miles McPherson at the http://www.therocksandiego.org and Pastor Chris Rowney at http://www.tcfnet.org.au , who entertain, educate, and edify, and use multimedia formats like Apple iTunes. Finding a local church that follows Jesus and recognizes his divinity can also help you to better learn more about Jesus.
Key Points: Recognizing & Reasoning
- Without God reaching out to people, people would never __________ God and would instead pursue their own fallen ways. Even when God reaches out and _______ his word, many people experience difficulty recognizing it. The pride of human _______ can be a stumbling block to recognizing God’s wisdom. Failure to recognize God in the present has far-reaching ___________ into the future.
- The account of Lazarus and the rich man teaches us that the scriptural _________ over thousands of years are sufficient for the open-minded to recognize Jesus Christ, and even more evidence would be ________ by the close-minded.
- The _______ men recognized Jesus even as an infant, reasoning from scriptural prophesies. Hundreds of specific scriptural ________ testify that Jesus is the promised messiah by announcing beforehand Jesus’ life, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The ________ by the Apostles in Jesus’ name further showcase God’s continued witness.
- God wishes to see people _______ for him, for him to show them _______. The only way to reach God’s righteousness is through _______ in Jesus Christ rather than the _____ of the law.
- True _____ confesses Jesus is Lord. It loves, forgives, repents, and obeys. It is perfected and accompanied by ______ emanating from heartfelt obedience to God and a _______ that God raised Jesus from the dead.
- You are responsible to make your ______ and ______ sure” by making every effort to add in increasing measure to your faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love as scriptures prescribe. “If you do these things, you will never _____” and “you will receive a ______ welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
- When you have doubts, recognize your current _______ level and pray to God to help you overcome your ________, to be most effective in recognizing and following God.
Discussion Questions: Recognizing & Reasoning
(1) When you learned about the religious leader (the Pharisee) and the tax collector, what does that tell you about the dangers of religiosity, and the importance to be humble before God and ask forgiveness for your sins?
(2) What in life do you believe in despite your doubts? How come you still believe? How does that relate to your beliefs & doubts about God?
(3) Were you surprised to learn that God expected you to responsibly tend to the quality of your soil? What can you do to make yourself to have “ground” receptive to God’s words which are designed to benefit you?
(4) Often time early impressions are difficult to overcome despite being inaccurate. Does your early impression about Jesus’ life offend you or those you know? How so? Are you or they able to suspend their offense long enough to learn more about God to overcome this early impression?
(5) What evidence standards do you apply for believing in past events? What are your evidence standards for identifying whether to believe in God and his Son Jesus based upon God’s historical interventions? What is reasonable?
(6) Does it make sense for an eternal God to prophesy thousands of years ahead of time about the sending a Savior? What is the benefit to using symbols in the sky to accompany prophesies? Would it surprise you to know scientific astronomy software showed the Star of Bethlehem occurred historically? (Learn more at the website http://www.bethlehemstar.net/ about the Star of Bethlehem DVD)
(7) How many Prophesies about Jesus our Savior are you aware of? What are the key Prophesies for you? Why?
(8) Is it more important who you are becoming, who you follow, or what you do? How would you expect who you are becoming and who you follow to result in what you do? What things can you learn about what a person is following by observing what they do? What are the limits of observation and how does hypocrisy manifest those limits?
Continue your studies on the Parable of the Sower:
Hand Drawn Recognizing & Reasoning Roadmap
Key Points: Recognizing & Reasoning: Answers
- Without God reaching out to people, people would never recognize God and would instead pursue their own fallen ways. Even when God reaches out and reveals his word, many people experience difficulty recognizing it. The pride of human wisdom can be a stumbling block to recognizing God’s wisdom. Failure to recognize God in the present has far-reaching consequences into the future.
- The account of Lazarus and the rich man teaches us that the scriptural evidence over thousands of years are sufficient for the open-minded to recognize Jesus Christ, and even more evidence would be discarded / rejected by the close-minded.
- The wise men recognized Jesus even as an infant, reasoning from scriptural prophesies. Hundreds of specific scriptural prophesies testify that Jesus is the promised messiah by announcing beforehand Jesus’ life, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The miracles by the Apostles in Jesus’ name further showcase God’s continued witness.
- God wishes to see people searching for him, for him to show them mercy . The only way to reach God’s righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ rather than the works of the law.
- True faith confesses Jesus is Lord. It loves, forgives, repents, and obeys. It is perfected and accompanied by actions / works / deeds emanating from heartfelt obedience to God and a belief that God raised Jesus from the dead.
- You are responsible to make your calling and election sure” by making every effort to add in increasing measure to your faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love as scriptures prescribe. “If you do these things, you will never fail ” and “you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
- When you have doubts, recognize your current belief level and pray to God to help you overcome your unbelief , to be most effective in recognizing and following God.