The Parable of the Two “Waters”

Suppose that you were dying in the desert and you came upon a tent. Inside the tent were two people. One of those people appeared friendly, warm, and inviting. The other person appeared ugly, cold and repulsive. In front of both people were large baskets and inside one of those baskets was life giving water, but inside the other basket was deadly poison. The one who appeared friendly said, “Come and drink the water that is in my basket.” Then the ugly person said, “No, he is a liar. Do not drink of that bowl for it contains poison.” The friendly person replies, “I can’t believe that you are so unloving and impatient. Can’t you see this man is thirsty. Can’t you see that he needs a drink? Where is your love and compassion for this man.” So you ask this person, “Do you know if there is water in your basket” and this one replies, “I don’t claim to know everything, I’m just on a journey like everyone else.” So you ask the other one, “Do you know if there is water in your basket?” And he replies, “Yes, I know there is water in my basket.” Then the friendly person says, “I can’t believe that you would be so arrogant as to claim that you have the only water in your basket.” So this person turns to you and says, “Surely you are an educated man who understands that we are all in this journey together and that there is not really anything that we can truly know.” So the unattractive person says, “If you drink of the bowl that he offers, you will die.” Then the attractive person says, “I can’t believe that you would be so self righteous as to think that someone would die from drinking out of my bowl. Do you think that I am some kind of idiot or fool? Where is your love, your compassion, your concern for this poor soul.” So he replies, “I love this man enough to tell him the truth. I want him to live. If he will but drink of the bowl that is in my basket he will.” Then this man says, “Why don’t you test both substances with this litmus paper and see which is which.” The attractive person says, “I can’t believe you would ask him to do that. I’m offended that you would even suggest such.” Then he turns to you and says, “If you do that, then I will be offended.” So being persuaded by the words of the attractive person who obviously loves you (you know because of the words that he spoke, don’t you?), you drink of his bowl, but before the liquid reaches the back of your throat, you realize that it is poison and it is too late. As you lay dying, the unattractive person comes over and says, “you could have tested both of the substances that we had and known which was water and which was poison.” The attractive person lies dying next to you and says, “I’m so sorry. I was deceived. I just did not know,” but it is too late. Who was truly the most loving out of the two?

We each have something in our possession. Some have truth and some are deceived by lies. But there is a way to test who has truth and who has lies, by comparing the words that we speak with God’s words. The outcome of our decision is no less critical than the situation above; in fact, it is even more grave, because we are not merely speaking about our physical life, but our spiritual one and eternity hangs in the balance. When it comes to questions that affect our salvation, why would we seek to gamble with that by trusting someone who says, “Well, I don’t know all the answers, but this is what I believe, but I don’t really think that we have all the answers” yet appears warm, caring, and sensitive. On the other hand, there are others who say, “This is truth and you ought to believe it. And here is the way that you can test that what I am telling you is truth or not.” They give it to you straight, because they understand that if you do not accept it, then your soul will be in jeopardy. They warn you of the terrible consequences that await those who fail to believe the truth, and they point out the fact that others are out there, deceived and speaking lies about God’s plan for man’s salvation. Yet some criticize them and say that they are unloving, unkind, and lack communication skills. So it is in your power to test which one is speaking the truth and which one is not. Will you, fearful of offending someone, follow your emotions and make your decision based upon the appearance of love, sensitivity, and concern? Or will you, regardless of who you may offend, test the things that are said against the standard of truth that God has given to ensure that your beliefs are in harmony with reality? I hope that you would choose to test the things that have been told you by others, by comparing them to God’s word and concluding based upon truth that you can believe one and not believe the other.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on The Parable of the Two “Waters”

Matthew 3:7-12

Please open your Bibles to Matthew 3:7-12

Vs. 7 – The Pharisees were the dominant religious party among the Jewish people. Their views of scripture were often distorted by the fact that they allowed religious tradition to dominate their thinking as opposed to the actual scriptures themselves (see Mark 7:3-13). They were hypocrites because they would teach one thing and then behave in the opposite way (Matthew 23:13-33). For these reasons, Jesus condemned them severely on multiple occasions.

The Sadducees were the second most dominant religious party among the Jewish people. Together, the Pharisees and the Sadducees composed the council of the Sanhedrim. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, didn’t believe that man had a spiritual nature and also didn’t believe that there would be a resurrection. Jesus comes in conflict with them in Mark 12:18-27 and shows that they had grave misunderstandings regarding the resurrection and man’s future state.

In coming to John’s baptism, the Pharisees were concerned about this “preacher” that many had been discussing. They were jealous of any who they saw as a threat to their authority and sway over the Jewish people. This jealousy is reflected in John 11:48 when they said regarding Jesus, “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” Pilate well observed in Mark 15:10 that it was “for envy” that Jesus was delivered to him.

No doubt the same motives and attitudes were fostering under the surface in regard to John’s baptism. We know that they did not believe in John as a prophet for the words that they spoke to Jesus in Mark 11:31-33. We also know that they refused to be baptized of John according to Luke 7:30. In that regard, they rejected the counsel of God. So we can reasonably assume that they were up to no good in coming to see and hear John.

John also rightly deduces that they were up to no good. The initial words out of his mouth to them are not words of blessing, but rather, condemnation. He calls them a “brood of vipers.” They were a nursery for deadly serpents; they weren’t content to merely be deadly, they had to breed more.

John then asks them, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” The question was both a positive and condemnatory in the same sentence. If they continued in their present course, they would certainly experience God’s wrath and vengeance for so mutilating and damaging His word for His people. Such is the condemnation for all who would so act. At the same time, they were given “warning” regarding their ultimate end and they were to be commended for heeding that warning and coming to the appropriate place. They would be correct in trying to “flee” from that great wrath that God has in store for all of those who refuse to know him or obey him (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). This leads us into John’s instruction for them in verse 8.

Vs. 8 – John now focuses upon what these errant leaders needed to do in order to demonstrate their sincerity in coming to John’s baptism. They needed to “bear fruits worthy of repentance.” The word “repentance” literally means to change one’s mind toward something or another. However, when looking at repentance as a Christian concept the thought goes much deeper than a mere “change of mind.” The word involves not only a change in thought and attitude, but a reformation of life as well. This is what John demanded of these religious leaders. Not that they merely say they have repented, but that they demonstrate their repentance by a reformed life. Luke gives us additional detail into what John said on this point in Luke 3:10-14. There, not only were the religious leaders addressed, but also soldiers, publicans, and everyday people. John tells each group how they were expected to behave as a result of their repentance. Paul also expected this out of converts to Christianity. He said in Acts 26:20 that when he began preaching the gospel that he “?shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” This is a good lesson for us today to note. Gospel preachers not only have the obligation to preach the word, but also to make appropriate application even to the point of instructing individuals on how and how not to behave according to God’s word.

Vs. 9 – John did not want these religious leaders to fall back upon their heritage for self justification. Just because one was of Abraham’s seed didn’t guarantee one’s salvation. Here was a dangerous presumption on the part of these religious leaders. Jesus refutes this presumptiousness in John 8:33-37 with the fact that it is the one who sins who becomes the slave to sin. Religious heritage doesn’t guarantee personal salvation.

Sadly, there are many today who hold to a form of this same doctrine. They believe that once they have “accepted Jesus into their heart” that they are saved and that nothing they do will in any way affect a change in their salvation. Those who hold this doctrine of “once saved always saved” in essence make the same argument as the Pharisees and Saducees. They claim that because they have a religious heritage they are personally secure. Jesus’ words rebuke them as much as he does these religious leaders. It is personal sin which will cause us to be condemned on the day of judgment. There is forgiveness in Christ, but that forgiveness is contingent upon repentance and obedience to Christ’s will. Those who willfully sin have no sacrifice on their behalf (Hebrews 10:26).

John calls these religious leaders to sobriety when he states that God is able to change stones into Abraham’s seed. It was no reason to boast that they were of the lineage of Abraham. That carries no weight in the eyes of God; He can make descendents of Abraham from rocks, stones, or even dust. God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). God sees all such boasting as foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19, 2 Corinthians 11:22,23). What matters today is not whether we are of the physical lineage of Abraham, but whether we are of his spiritual lineage. Those who belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed today and heirs of the promise (Galatians 3:29).

Vs. 10 – John prophesies regarding the termination of the old economy. Judaism was not to last much longer as an authorized religious entity. Hence, the axe was at the root of the tree, indicating that it was about to be used to cut down that tree. Judaism was limited in its scope (it was originally intended only for the nation of Israel, see Deuteronomy 5:1-3) and hence, religiously, it could not serve God’s purposes in extending salvation to the entire world. Thus, it had to be brought to an end in order for God’s purposes for all men to go forward. Jesus brought this economy to an end when he died and nailed the law to the cross along with our sins (Colossians 2:14). Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:15 that Jesus abolished the law. Jesus himself said that the law wouldn’t be destroyed until all things were fulfilled (Matthew 5:17,18), and they were fulfilled. Jesus also told numerous parables regarding the cessation of the Jewish economy and the inauguration of the kingdom (see Matthew 21:28-46 and 22:1-14). No longer did the Jewish nation bear “good fruit” and hence it was only fitting for it to be “cast into the fire.” Jesus said in Matthew 15:13 “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” This is exactly what happened to the Jewish nation as it had been corrupted by Rabbinical Judaism.

Vs. 11 – John makes reference to the element which he used to baptize, namely, water. The purpose of John’s baptism was “for repentance.” Hence, John sought to bring the wayward Jew back to a state of favor with God. John’s baptism was thus limited in that it could only cleanse the Jew who repented and obeyed God’s counsel in being baptized. This is one reason why Paul did not accept those who were baptized with John’s baptism after the cross (see Acts 19:1-7). John’s baptism was thus limited to the time prior to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Hence, belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was subsequently required. John’s baptism didn’t require such and could no longer be valid for the Christian era.

John prophesies that One is coming who will administer a different baptism. John says this One would be mightier than he. In what sense? Mightier in scope of message; mightier in authority; mightier in power over the elements; mightier in personal purity, mightier in lasting results of His work; the list could go on and on. Because of these facts, John was not worthy to be such a One’s sandal valet. In this culture, it was customary for the servant of the house to handle the footwear of the house guests. John’s statement shows reverence and humility. He did not even consider himself worthy to be His servant. And such ought to be the attitude of all who have been redeemed by the love, grace, and mercy of God through Christ (Luke 17:10).

The nature of this Mighty One’s baptism was to be with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Many have been confused regarding this pronouncement. Some have considered that the fire and the Holy Spirit are the same baptism. But the immediate context (vs.12) forbids such a thought because being baptized with fire is obviously not desirable.

Some have also misapplied the scope of the baptism of the Holy Spirit saying that all Christian baptism is Holy Spirit baptism. Such ignores John’s statement that it would be Jesus himself who would administer such baptism. It is clear from the New Testament that many of Jesus disciples were involved in administering baptism, but these baptisms were not Holy Spirit baptisms! Hence, we must come to the conclusion that Holy Spirit baptism was an affair limited only to those whom Jesus personally chose to be baptized in such a way. John no where says that everyone would be baptized in the Holy Spirit; he simply states that Jesus would administer such and Jesus did as recorded for us in Acts 2:1-4 and Acts 10:44-46 as explained in Acts 11:16. No other time in the New Testament do we read of Jesus’ administering Holy Spirit baptism than these two times. Men have tried to suggest such, but there is no reason to conclude that simply because a passage mentions baptism that it is of necessity Holy Spirit baptism. And those who believe such do so without any contextual evidence. The most common administration of baptism in the New Testament was water baptism and such ought to be the assumed regarding any passage that mentions baptism unless there are contextual reasons to believe otherwise.

Vs. 12 – A winnowing fork is an instrument designed to toss grain mixed with hulls into the air so that the wind may catch the hull and drop the grain. In this manner the hull was separated from the grain. The hulls (chaff) then drifted off in the direction of the wind and were eventually burned. The grain was then collected and gathered into the barn where it could serve its good purpose.

John explains Jesus’ work to be similar in nature. Jesus teaching separated those who would believe and obey the Lord from those who would not. The wheat (believers) would be gathered into the barn (presumably heaven). The chaff (unbelievers), on the other hand, would be burned with unquenchable fire (hell). There are only two eternal destinies for man. Man may either choose to live a holy life in harmony with God’s will and be forever in fellowship with God in heaven, or he may so choose to live in rebellion to God and spend eternity in hell. Moses spoke of the way of life and the way of death (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). Jesus spoke of these two ways as well in Matthew 7:13,14. Jesus also spoke of the sheep being separated from the goats for all eternity in Matthew 25:31-46. Where will we spent our eternal destiny? The choice is up to each of us.

Kevin Cauley

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Matthew 3:7-12

Job 3:1-10

Please open your Bibles to Job 3:1-10.

Job chapter one (three?) continues to be introductory in nature. Job is now in the midst of his sufferings. He and his friends have been silent for a period of seven days. But now Job gives voice to his sufferings. After Job’s friends question why Job would do such, Job pleads that it is as natural for a man in his situation to give voice to his grief as it is for a donkey to bray when he doesn’t have grass or an ox to low when he doesn’t have fodder (Job 6:1-6). These remarks of Job in chapter three deal primarily with Job’s desire for his life to end so that his suffering will cease. The key verse to understanding this chapter, however, is verse twenty. “Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul”. Why do the righteous suffer? That is the question that will burden Job as well as Job’s three friends throughout the dialogues. Through the asking of this question, Job will teach us how to minister to those who are suffering. He will also teach us that sometimes it is simply God’s will that the righteous be allowed to suffer. In all of these things, the most important lesson that we will learn from Job is that regardless of what happens, God is always to be considered blameless for temptation to do evil.

Vs. 1-2 – Job begins speaking after enduring such awful sufferings. Job “curses” his day. The word “curse” is used here to indicate Job’s disdain for his existence in its current situation. Had Job not been under such adverse circumstances there would have been no reason to so disdain his “day.” The “day” that Job disdains is the day of his birth. This is made clear in verse three. So Job speaks.

Vs. 3-5 – Job doesn’t merely state that he wishes he had never been born, but rather, that the day and night of his birth itself would never have existed. He speaks of the day in verse four and five and then he speaks of the night in verses six through nine.

Of the day, he states that his desire was that 1) it had perished, 2) it had been darkness, 3) God had not regarded it, 4) the light had not shined on it and 5) it had been stained by death. Verse four’s comments in essence state that Job wished that the day had never existed. Verse five’s comments in essence state that Job wish death had controlled that day, particularly in regard to his own life.

In verse four, Job expresses his desire that the day had never existed by stating that he wished it had been a day of darkness. This is in essence equivalent to saying that he didn’t want that day to have existed. There is no such thing as a “dark” day. To state that he desired it to be darkness meant he didn’t want it to be. He then states the same thing when he says that he wished God had not regarded it. The implication here is that if God doesn’t acknowledge something, then it doesn’t exist. The third description is that the light would not shine on it. Again, the definition of a day is that the light shines. If the light doesn’t shine, then it’s not a day.

In verse five, Job expresses his wish that death (for him) had been present on that day. It’s almost as if he acknowledges the impossibility of the day existing and so now he turns to something more remotely possible, namely, that he had died instead of been born alive. In verse five, “darkness” refers more to the idea of the sorrow that surrounds death as opposed to verse four’s use of it to refer to non-existence. The expression “shadow of death” is a familiar one in the scriptures, used some sixteen times (compare Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 9:2, Matthew 4:16, and Luke 1:79 for its use in other contexts). The phrase simply refers to all things that are attendant surrounding death; it is death and all of its influence.

Job expresses his desire that death hold that day by talking about a “cloud” overshadowing it. We use the word “cloud” in the same sense today. We often say he has a “black cloud” over his head indicating that someone is in a melancholy mood. Such would have been the atmosphere on the day in which a dead child was born. Job also expresses the same thing when he speaks about the “blackness of the day.” Here, the blackness of the day is death. In Job’s time death was a mystery and as such it was time for sorrow and mourning. Under the Christian era, the veil of death has been taken away and the mystery of death revealed to us; the Christian has no reason to sorrow as if he had no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Job, however, didn’t have this information; death was still “black” to him.

We ought to pause to note that the book of Job was written before the time of Christ who gave hope to all men for eternal life (Titus 3:6,7). Generally speaking, Job doesn’t seem to have such hope. Job’s sole hope in the book appears to be that God will justify him before his friends. Other than that, Job’s desire is merely to be allowed to die. That Job didn’t know about the hope of eternal life may be because God had not revealed that information to Job. Such is not out of harmony with the scriptures which teach that the gospel was a “mystery” in the old times which was kept silent (Romans 16:25) and also that many of the prophets themselves did not understand that about which they were writing (1 Peter 1:10-12).

For the “blackness of the day” to “terrify” the day meant that Job desired that his own death had come on the day of his birth.

Vs. 6-9 – In these verses, Job curses the night of his birth. It wasn’t enough for Job simply to curse the day; he had to curse the night as well. This is poetry. It expresses a thing in the fullest way possible. If the day is cursed, then so must the night be cursed also. Verse six expresses Job’s desire for the night never to have existed. This parallel’s his desire for the day to never have existed. How could darkness seize the night? Isn’t it already dark? Darkness could seize upon the night in the sense that none of the nightly luminaries would shine upon it. It is the same as saying he didn’t want it to exist. That he didn’t want it joined to the days or the months of the year also is an expression of wishing that that particular day had never existed. In effect he says, “Don’t even let that night exist on the calendar!”

In verse seven the KJV has the word “solitary.” The ESV says “barren.” In other words, let it be barren of childbirth. To wish that no joyful cry had entered it, of course, refers to the joy of receiving a child. This is another way of wishing he had not been born.

In verse eight Job calls for all others have a death wish, to curse the night of his birth. Those who “curse the day” are those who desire death, as Job has already illustrated. A further description of these is that they are ready to raise up leviathan. The KJV says “mourning” but the ASV and ESV both have “leviathan.” This was a frightful sea creature that was great in size and power (see Job 41:1-10, Psalm 104:26). Those who were ready to “raise him up” were looking for their own deaths. They had a “death wish.”

In verse nine Job states what he implied in verse seven, namely, that the night’s luminaries wouldn’t shine. It is a reiteration of his desire that that night had not existed. To not let it see the dawning of the day is yet another expression indicating this as all nights eventually see the dawn.

Vs. 10 – Why did Job not want this day and night to exist? Because that was when his mother gave birth to him. That day didn’t close his mother’s womb so that he would be prevented from being born. But the second half of verse 10 is the key to this whole section. It was the sorrow that Job was presently experiencing that made him desire these things.

We need not think from these verses that Job literally didn’t want that day on the calendar, whatever it was, not to exist, but rather, that it didn’t exist from the standpoint that it was the day of his birth. In this regard, Job’s desires here are subjective due to his suffering. The day that he came into the world is what now offends him because that ultimately lead to these days of intense suffering and agony.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Job 3:1-10