Resource For Studying the Parables

I have decided to take a week off from posting on the Ten Commandments. I have been thinking about a change of pace and posting on a different subject this week. That, combined with a really weird week for me, has led me to choosing to post on the Lord’s parables this week. Oh, I don’t plan on posting on all of the parables in this one post but I do have a good resource for those of you who are interested.

There is no one subject that seems to confuse Christians more than the Lord’s parables. The Lord began speaking in parables after Israel’s rejection of Him in order to hide the meaning of what he was teaching from the unbelieving crowds. He would speak of the parables in public and explain their meaning to the disciples in private thereby hiding the meaning from those who didn’t want to know the truth anyway. It is a shame that we who are saved still can’t seem to figure their interpretation out.

Hiding the true meaning of the parables actually set a precedent that our Lord would follow later during His trial. Once Pontius Pilate flippantly asked “what is truth?” the Lord never answered another one of his questions. If you aren’t interested in the truth then the Lord won’t speak truth to you. That is kind of a sobering thought!

Also, a few weeks ago I had an e-mail discussion with Dr. Bob Luginbill about the parable of the sower (see my post here). His position was that the seeds that germinated and then withered represented people who had been born again and then died spiritually. Of course I don’t understand the parable that way. It still bothers me that so many people say that the plants that withered had actually died. Withered plants can die and they can come back if given some water.

At any rate, I have found an excellent internet resource for anyone who wants to study the bible in more depth called Bible.org. I have just begun to really read through the site but they have a lot of resources on the parables and they seem solid. I found that they have a list of all the parables, and one set of exegesis, at this link which I found to be really handy. They also had an article outlining how the parables should be interpreted which I plan on studying (link here).You can search the site and usually find more than one document on any particular topic.

Because of my discussion with Dr. Luginbill I decided to check out the site’s resources on the parable of the sower.Since I am going to have to keep this short today I am going to finish with the conclusions reached by Allen Ross in his article “The Parable Of The Sower And The Seed (Matthew 13:1-23)”:

To put the lessons simply:

1. We like the Sower (Christ at first) have the responsibility to proclaim the message of the kingdom, the gospel, to the world. It is the Word of God that will produce results.

2. We will be aware that not everyone will receive it by faith. That is not our business; our business is to continue to proclaim the good news.

3. The evidence of those who receive it by faith and act on it is that their lives will change and they will produce righteousness. The evidence of saving faith is a growing spiritual life.

4. The advance of the kingdom, the spiritual life, does not occur instantly, but over time. But it makes continual progress. Those who believe, like the disciples, do not instantly understand it all. But the Spirit of God, using the Word of God, illumines their understanding daily. Eventually, stumbling disciples will become bold apostles.

5. It is our task to know and understand the message well, so that we can present it as clearly and meaningful as possible. The rest is not up to us. And if we do that, we know that only some will receive it. We dare not consider some who share God’s word and see only a small response to be less spiritual or talented than those who share God’s word and see great responses. God gives the increase.

I agree with most of these points but I do have a quibble with point three where the author says: “The evidence of saving faith is a growing spiritual life.” This smacks of Lordship salvation and I cannot agree with it. But, as long doesn’t advocate going around trying to evaluate whether professing Christians are showing the “fruits” of their salvation, I won’t fuss too much.

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2 Comments on “Resource For Studying the Parables”

  1. heavenbound Says:

    Glen: I find it funny that the Church is always finding ways to confuse. By this I mean that Pastors are always trying to tweek the parables to fit what they are trying to teach no matter how confusing it sounds. If one would step back and read it in 3rd person, as an observer instead of standing in the crowd, its easy to figure out. The kingdom is what is the basis for the parable with believers and non believers in the audience, being Jewish. If you read it from this position it becomes quite clear.

  2. Glenn Says:

    heavenbound,

    I agree with you. Part of the problem is that Christians use the same words but have different definitions for each word so when we discuss passages it only seems like we’re talking about the same thing.

    The key word in your comment is the “kingdom” and depending on your definition of kingdom the parables take on completely different meanings. I completely agree with your statement that if we pull back and try to understand what was being said as if we were a first century Jew it would clarify the meaning (the Jews had a very clear concept of the kingdom). How many Christians have said (and I’ve read statements like this) that it doesn’t matter what the Jews in Jesus’ audience understood the kingdom to be since they were mostly unbelievers. Of course the same people turn around and interpret such parables just like an unbelieving Greek would have and never see the irony.

    Thank you for the comment.

    Glenn


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