Good News: New & Old Treasures


Do we have any special treasures? Do we own heirlooms or treasures brought from distant lands? Are our families are among our greatest treasures? Are the things of the kingdom of heaven also among our most prized treasures?


I hope we will treat the things of God as our greatest treasures of all.


We will look at six special aspects of the kingdom of heaven.

The Kingdom of Heaven is …

In Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Jesus described some traits of the kingdom of heaven. He spoke in parables because the kingdom of heaven was still a well-kept secret. As it grows, it is becoming less and less of a secret. The kingdom of heaven has eventually become the largest venture of all time. It currently covers about a third of humanity, more than any country, religion or other corporate human enterprise. That makes it the largest kingdom on earth, albeit a spiritual kingdom, still hidden from plain sight. It has fulfilled the parable of the mustard seed and will some day leaven the whole lump of humanity. It is just like a buried treasure, not seen by human eyes and the most precious treasure in life. The kingdom of heaven is a mixture of good and evil, and old and new.

1. Like a Mustard Seed

Quibbling Bible Criticism

Have you ever been criticized for being imprecise? In conversation we could say something like, “Isn’t he just the smallest baby!” It is not a statistical conclusion but an everyday superlative. So it is with parables such as the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. Those trained in scientific precision may quibble that there are seeds smaller than the mustard seed, but those trained in literary style would be quick to point out that is not the point of the parable. And that highlights where a lot of biblical criticism comes from. It often comes from those who are highly educated in a particular field and can only see things from that point of view. They may be totally ignorant of other fields of study with great flexibility and nuances of meaning. Jesus’ often taught with imagery and hyperbole.

No Little Flock Forever

What kind of plant was the mustard tree of Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52? Some experts believe it was the black mustard. It is a herb which can grow to three modern meters (ten old-fashioned feet) tall. Was this a contradiction to other descriptions of the kingdom being a small flock? While this may seem to indicate that the church of God would be small, the parable of the mustard seed gives the exact opposite impression. Perhaps they are two sides of the same story of the kingdom. The mustard seed certainly did correlate to the smallness of the kingdom in the beginning. However, it told a far greater future than an exclusive, perpetually “small flock.” Indeed, where Jesus did use the term “little flock?” He was addressing his disciples, not the eventual size of the Church (Luke 12:22, 32).

Church Growth Jesus Style

In Christian bookstores church growth is for sale at a price. Many church growth books contain information which is unavailable unless we pay for it. Thank God that the effective ingredient of church growth is not for sale at any price, Jesus. He promised that the kingdom of heaven would grow (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52). Is it wrong to get advice from those who have experience? Is it wrong that they are compensated for their research? Of course not, but one of the most important lessons available from Church growth books is that each situation is going to be different and tailor made by the One who will build His Church, Jesus. He predicted that the kingdom of heaven would grow to be the largest garden plant, a tree. In the garden of world religions Christianity is now the largest.

2. Like Leaven

Parable of a Domesticated Micro-Organism

How is the kingdom of heaven like a domesticated microorganism? In Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to leavening. The most likely leavening agent at the time was a variety of yeast. What is it about yeast that helps us understand the kingdom of heaven? Notice the large amount of dough the woman used, three measures, about 27 modern kilograms (60 old fashioned pounds) — the weight of a 6-10 year old child. That is far too much bread for one family. It is obviously to be shared with a great many families. The kingdom is for sharing. Apart from making breads lighter, yeast does provide nutrition and taste. Even a small lump is capable of leavening a large amount of dough. God’s kingdom has grown from that “little flock” to the largest faith on earth.

Exclusivity is Idolatry

When churches claim to have an exclusive franchise they are not talking about Christianity, but human politics. The kingdom of heaven was likened to a small seed that produced a large plant and a small lump of yeast which leavened a large amount of dough (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52). Christianity is defined by Jesus and his Apostles who were taught directly by him as a faith issue, not a political one. When churches exclude others from communion or fellowship based upon human traditions or narrow doctrines, they are not defining Christianity, but their own tyrannical power plays. It is not Christianity but idolatry which places human traditions and twigs of doctrine above the teachings of Jesus. Only Jesus has the authority to define the kingdom of heaven, and he defines it as much larger than our narrow-mindedness seems to allow.

Heaven Will Win

Why do people fight various agendas seemingly out of fear? There are Christians fighting for or against gay, women’s, Muslim, conservative and liberal agendas. No matter what human plans are, there is only one agenda that will win in the long run, Jesus’. Human movements may seem to win for a season and the kingdom of heaven may seem to lose, as in countries where the Church is severely persecuted, but the end of the story is that the kingdom of heaven wins. That’s actually what both the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven are about (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52). So, rather than take up arms to fight for or against human politics, what would we do if we believed that Jesus was in charge? Would we faithfully and patiently trust that heaven will win?

3. Like Hid Treasure

Parable of Buried Treasure

Buried treasure is not just Hollywood fantasy but also a historic reality and even a business. Treasure hunters include archaeologists and marine salvage operators. Two separate half billion dollar fortunes were recovered in 1985 and 2007. Yet, the most valuable treasure of all is within reach of most people. That treasure is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52). The kingdom that Jesus referred to is in our own communities, yet few are finding it today. Its importance is far more than everything else combined. The kingdom of God is presently in this world but hidden. Those who have heard rumors or stories about a treasure, but have not yet found it, are not yet ready to sacrifice everything for it. Only those who have truly found it and experienced it are willing to give everything up for it.

Our Treasure Chest

Investigators often find clues to distinguish insurance fraud from a genuine fire. If a family photo album is found in a corner, it may be an accidental blaze. Family treasures are not usually left behind in fraud cases. On the other hand, if we awoke in a house fire and only had time to grab one thing while fleeing what would it be? What are our greatest treasures? Family members and photo albums are genuine treasure. Gold watches and sports trophies are just junk jewelry. Our lives also contain moments of genuine treasure and cheap substitutes. Staying faithful to a spouse for life and having children and grandchildren are genuine treasures. Worldly titles and honors are often just phony costume jewelry. Hopefully we have also found the most precious treasure of all, the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52).

4. Like a Costly Pearl

Parable of a Nacreous Jewel

Since ancient times pearls have been highly sought after and prized. They do not have to be cut or fashioned by humans, but are already perfectly formed by the hand of God. Both parables of buried treasure and the pearl of great price emphasize the value of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52). The buried treasure was found by accident. The pearl was found by an individual who was looking. Some found Christianity by accident and others have been looking. When we learn about the kingdom of heaven do we recognize its value? Both individuals recognized the life-changing magnitude of their discovery. Jesus was describing an unreserved response of absolute commitment to the kingdom of heaven. What is the most prized jewel in our lives? Is anything else worth more than our place in the kingdom of heaven?

5. Like a Fishing Net

Parable of a Drag Net

Jesus first disciples had been net fishers called to be fishers of men. A fishing net gathers fish without regard to kind. In Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Jesus described the kingdom of heaven like a dragnet. The kingdom also picks up people indiscriminately. In trawling, when the net is full, the catch is then separated out into useful and undesirable fish. At the final judgment angels will assist in sorting the righteous from the evil. The kingdom of heaven catches all these fish, but does not separate them until the end. The job of the angels will confirm what we have already chosen, either our destructive ways or his way of the cross. Are we willing to partake of a miracle or are we self-satisfied and unwilling to be changed by God? Our choices now have bearing on our end.

6. Like New and Old Treasures

Jesus’ Agenda

From the least of us to the greatest, we all have an agenda. For a small child, it may be very simple like food, toys and childish distractions. For a teenager it often seems to be excitement. For older people it may be paying the bills, making a name or material ambitions. Some Christians have an agenda, but when we use that phrase, we often think of negative things. As Christians we should all have an agenda, but that agenda ought to be a closer walk with Christ’s agenda. In Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Jesus described a few aspects of that agenda in the form of coded parables. He is building something large and all pervasive. His agenda is a treasure greater than any other and his plan is to bring out of his treasure both new and old things.

The Church is a Construction Zone

Things can look messy until the final assembly. From building a piece of furniture to piecing together a whole car, the construction phase of an operation can look rather like disorganized confusion to an untrained eye. The construction phase of the kingdom of heaven is no different. The Church is a construction zone not a completed project. In Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Jesus gave some clues to his strategy behind building the kingdom. The plans were older than time but the new development phase had already begun with his ministry. Like any enterprise it started off small, but in it would become the biggest venture of all time. It is a scheme that will eventually reach all humanity. It is the greatest treasure the world has known. It will involve a sorting process. It will involve treasures old and new.

Old & New Worship Together

One of the great controversies of our time is church music. Some stubbornly persist with centuries-old hymns and organ music. Younger Christians leave churches in droves and music is one of the biggest reasons. Modern music offends some older Christians. There is an answer, but it requires some maturity and education. In Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Jesus described those who were skilled in Old Testament studies and became students of the New Covenant as being like those who had treasures from both. So it is with churches mature enough to move towards a blended worship music style. Grandchildren are glad to honor grandparents’ music choices and grandparents love their grandchildren enough to shower them with musical blessings that reach their hearts. Churches that have moved towards blended worship formats bring out Christian music treasures which are both new and old.


Earthly treasures will all fade, but the new and old treasures of the kingdom of heaven are forever. Are they among our greatest treasures?

Good News: The Righteous will Shine


Why is there evil in the church? What about those who are sincere and want to obey God? 

Evils in the Church

Why is evil not just in the world but also in the church? Why is pedophilia in the Church? Why did Pope Innocent III order the extermination of the Waldensians in 1487? Why was the church complicit in the murder of tens of thousands during the Inquisition? Why did both Lutherans and Catholics at the Diet of Speyer in 1529 legalize the murder of Anabaptists in Germany? Why did Calvinists in France murder 4,000 priests, monks and nuns, and destroy thousands of churches and monasteries? Why do Orthodox leaders encourage persecution of Protestants in Russia? Why did Protestants persecute Catholics in England, Germany and Switzerland? Why did New England Puritans once persecuted in England later persecute other Protestants? How can such atrocities have occurred among those who bear the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ? Does Matthew 13:24-43 help us?


We must understand that the church has and will always be a mixture of good and evil, but those who endure to the end in faith are the righteous who will shine.


We will look at the difference between the visible and invisible church. We will look at the parable of the Wheat and the Tares from Matthew 13:24-43 and its implications for Christian church. We will glimpse the eternal blessing of those who remain pure in their faith.

The Church Visible & Invisible

The visible church is different from the invisible church because outward appearances can be deceiving. The invisible church at any one moment consists of those who are in Christ. The visible church is in the world, consisting of all those who call themselves Christians whether they are in Christ or not. The visible church is a mixture of genuine believers and false Christians who are never regenerated, saved, forgiven, united to Christ and sanctified (1 John 2:19-20; Matthew 7:21-23; Romans 9:6; 2 Peter 2:20-22). All genuine believers are members of the invisible church. Not all professing Christians are members of the invisible church. The invisible church cannot be fully discerned by human eyes and hearts. The invisible church is the good seed in the Parable of the Weeds, the people of the kingdom (Matthew 13:24, 38) who will shine like the sun.

Wrongdoing in the Church

Do we get upset and angry with wrongdoing in the Church? Do we excommunicate sinners until few are left creating a climate of judgmentalism and fear of persecution? In Matthew 13:25, 39 Jesus did not ask us to tolerate evil but be patient because the responsibility is not ours but the angels’. The Church is a mixture of the people of the kingdom of heaven and the people of the kingdom of the evil one. This is a parable of the kingdom and it describes the Church as part of the kingdom. It is a safe bet that this mixture of good and evil also exists among church leaders. What do we do about it? Do we quit and start new denominations? That has never solved the problem because the Church will always be a mixture of sinners and saints, but it is the saints who will shine.

Why Problems in the Church

Why does the Church have problems? In Matthew 13:25, 39 Jesus explained that the kingdom of heaven like a farmer who planted good seed, but that an enemy had also planted weeds in the same field. That weed was probably darnel, also called cockle, which is sometimes referred to as "false wheat." It looks similar to wheat until maturity. The ears of wheat are heavy making it hang down, while darnel ears are light and it stands up straight. Just as the false wheat stands tall and the real wheat bows down with its yield, so too do the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous suffer. Cockle has a deeper root than wheat. Removing it would also cause many wheat stalks to be lost. A solution is to let both grow together until harvest and separate them then, when the faith-filled with shine.

7 Keys to a Parable

Jesus gave 7 keys to understanding the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. They help us understand other parables.
  1. The farmer who planted the good seed is the Son of man. There is a dimension of spreading the Gospel that is beyond human deeds.
  2. The field is the world. Is Jesus busy planting seed in the world?
  3. The good seeds are the people of the kingdom. Who are they?
  4. The weeds are the people of the evil one. Are good and bad people tightly mixed together?
  5. The enemy is the devil, not different church denominations.
  6. The harvest is the end of the age. Is the time for judgment later?
  7. The harvesters are the angels. We must patiently wait until then. Is the job of separation not ours, but the angels?
Church Embarrassment

It’s embarrassing when priests abuse children and pastors stray. It’s shameful when televangelists are paid millions and what was considered to be sins for 2,000 years are welcomed as acceptable lifestyles. It’s uncomfortable when ordinary Christians are publicly exposed for crimes and Church history is put under the microscope only to find 2,000 years of misdeeds and crimes against humanity. It’s flabbergasting when the Church allows the world to enter to hear the Gospel but instead is weak and seems just like the world. It’s perturbing to know that divorce in the Church is just as bad as in society around us. We should be embarrassed and ashamed, but what can we do? In Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Jesus explained that the problem of evil will not be solved in this life, but in the age to come, when the righteous will shine.

Judgmentalism & Judgment

We’ve all met people who complain that the Church is too judgmental. It’s true — in part — but isn’t the statement itself also judgmental? The Church does not own irrational and snobbish criticism exclusively. It’s common to humanity. We try to make good judgments by discerning between right and wrong. We judge all day long between restaurant menu items, clothing, safe driving and hundreds of other things. So when is judgment right and when is it wrong? In Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Jesus described final judgment that is not ours to make: whether someone is a weed or a good plant in God’s field. Whether an action is a really a sin or merely breaking human rules is also a disputable matter. Why do we judge before the time? What is Jesus’ to judge is none of our business.

Jesus, Liberal or Conservative

The battle between liberals and conservatives in the Church is ongoing. What is a conservative? Is it someone protecting a doctrine that is less than a few hundred years old? Is it someone who preserves traditions? If so, which traditions, historically recent or ancient ones? Is a conservative someone who is not interested in tradition when it contradicts or crowds out the teachings of Jesus? What is a liberal? Is it someone who departs from biblical teachings? Is a liberal someone who refuses to interpret biblical teachings in legalistic directions beyond the original meaning, even if that opposes the traditions of men? The labels "liberal" and "conservative" are really not helpful, because Jesus may be described as liberal or conservative on a variety of issues. He used far more shocking labels in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 — weeds that will burn and wheat that will shine.

Holier than Jesus

Christians are often accused of being holier than thou, a self-righteous attitude of condemnation and criticism. We are not often accused of being holier than Jesus, yet perhaps that is sometimes what we have attempted to be. In Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Jesus described the allowing of healthy wheat to grow together with annoying weeds. Weeds choke other plants and steal nutrients. That has been the ongoing history of the Christian Church. In every congregation and every denomination there are people who stifle and choke and steal life-giving nutrition from sincere Christians. When churches attempt to control sin with rigorous rules and regulations far above anything required by Jesus or his Apostles, stifling administrative hurdles and exclusive attitudes they are attempting to be holier than Jesus. His attitude was to let the wheat and weeds grow together until the harvest.

Family Feuds

Every family has them. There’s the greedy one who wants to take the larger share, the wayward one who embarrasses the family or perhaps the rich one who brags and makes others feel small. Family feuds are caused by many things. In Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Jesus described the possible results of a family feud that his audience would have found familiar. An enemy had exacted vengeance on a farmer by sowing bad seed at night over the good seed in his field. Vandalism! In a time when planting was broadcasting by hand, that may have been easier than with modern farming equipment. In the Church we have "family" feuds. That’s one reason why we have different orders and denominations. Separation was not Jesus’ recommendation, but staying together until the end of the age, when the righteous will shine.

Dividing Churches

Protestant Reformers were great men, but they failed in one major area. They were not satisfied with leaving the tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). Church reform is as much needed now as then. The modern Church has injustice in its traditions and accommodated sins as often as she has condemned them. Should we incessantly divide over every peccadillo in the Church? In Jesus’ commentary on the weeds he explained that heaven will make the final judgment. Christians have strong opinions and ought to feel free to express them without persecution. But, in the end we must agree to disagree without causing division. Heaven hates division. Do we trust that Jesus is the Head of the Church? Do we believe that any corporate sins that remain do so because he allows the weeds to remain in the field until that time when the righteous will shine?

The Evil of Shunning

Some Christians shun those who wander off the straight and narrow. The question of what to do with the tares in the Church until the harvest is not fully addressed in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. Some see this as tolerance for sin. Yet, that is not what Jesus expounded in other places such as Matthew 18:12-18. Those whose wrongdoings are of great offence to the Christian community are to be dealt with, but shunning is not what Jesus taught. An unrepentant sinner is to be treated like a gentile. Christians do not shun their non-Christian neighbors. Those who refuse to provide for their families are worse than those they shun (1 Timothy 5:7-8). Shunning is the opposite of what Jesus taught. He taught us to leave the ninety nine and try to help the one that wanders off.


It is not our job to judge whether or not a particular person is wheat or weed in God’s field. That is for the angels and Christ on that great day of judgment. Thank God that he can convert any one of us into wheat. Let us all pray for God’s forgiveness and focus on the future when the righteous will shine like the sun.

Good News: A Fruitful Life


We are all familiar with stories of Thomas Edison’s famous failures, that he failed to create the electric light about a thousand times before he succeeded. Everyone who succeeds has learned to fail well. God wants us to succeed.


Let us understand that failure is part of the kingdom journey.


We will look at Matthew 13:1-23 and discuss the Parable of the Sower and the Seed.

Indiscriminate Sower

I threw out most of my church growth and evangelism books because I found them to contradict the Bible as much as they quoted it. One example is Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 where Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven being like an indiscriminate sower. This contradicts many of the theories surrounding church growth like targeting statistically measurable demographics. Yet, there is no such target audience in this parable. The seed of the kingdom is sown with wild abandon. I like that. It’s like spreading of the Gospel with faith instead of using man-made formulas. A leader in the church growth movement once told me that he could build a church a mile wide but only an inch deep, only a pastor can build depth. I might differ slightly in that Jesus promised us that he would build his Church.

Results Driven Church

For the results driven church Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 puts things in perspective: some efforts will fail and some will succeed. What do we do when church programs fizzle? When they succeed does that mean that they will always succeed? Do we change or persist planting seeds where they once produced? Can soil conditions change? Is good soil always good or can it become depleted? Can former paths, thorns or rocks become good soil? What about those in the Church who once rejected the Gospel but eventually came around? Do we quit scattering seed where it previously failed or keep sowing in hope that it may eventually succeed? Are we so anxious about failure that we cautiously spread very little seed, or are we careless and extravagant in spreading the Gospel, knowing that some of our efforts will be fruitful?

Success through Failure

An old axiom says that failure is the stepping stone to success. Perhaps the reason that most people do not succeed more than they could is that they are afraid of failure. Yet, even Jesus taught that the road to success was paved with failures (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Before the farmer had a successful crop he failed in three areas. We too fail God in all these same areas. We allow the devil to snatch the word of God away from us. We allow the deceitfulness of wealth to choke out the word of God. We are shallow in faith and quit too easily. The One sowing the message has not quit. Paths can be plowed up, thorns can be uprooted and rocks can be pulverized into good productive soil. All our failures can be stepping stones to success.

Where Church Growth Fails

The farmer in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 had crop failure in three areas — on the pathway, on the rocks and among the thorns. These are likewise three areas of failure in church growth. The church sows the Gospel among those who are not ready for it. The most important message on the planet is given to those who are distracted by Satan, wealth and persecution. Results are similar to those in the parable. Does that mean that we should avoid preaching to people who are influenced by evil, the rich and those in persecuted countries? The first century church flourished midst horrible evils, surrounded by wealth and experienced about 300 years of severe persecution. Yet, in the midst of failure the church grew faster than at any other time in history. Where church growth fails it also succeeds.

Superficial Christianity

What happens on the path that causes the word of God to be taken away so quickly (Matthew 13:4, 19)? When we leave the message of the kingdom on the surface of our lives it can be easily taken away again. So it is when the Gospel lands on a life but does not find any depth of understanding. Such a life may even call itself Christian, but it is a label only, without substance. It is a counterfeit that lacks insight and discernment. Let us not naively follow those who to tell us to stop using our minds and blindly accept superficial fads and traditions. Such things are only an outward show and not the depths that Jesus taught. There is no substitute for the word of God. Let the word of the kingdom sink into our understanding.

Shallow Christianity

What happens on rocky soil that causes the seed of the word of God to die so quickly (Matthew 13:5-6, 20)? The seed that fell on the path took no root at all. It was surface Christianity. The seed that fell on the rocks did take root, but it was shallow Christianity. What is the difference? Shallow Christianity lasts a little longer than surface Christianity, but it too dies. The reasons that it dies are different: suffering or persecution. Shallow Christianity focuses on God’s material blessings, but not his spiritual blessings. And so health and wealth are a focus of shallow Christianity. Suffering and persecution are rarely or never preached in shallow Christian circles. The Bible teaches: blessed are those who suffer and are persecuted for righteousness. Shallow Christianity cannot survive trouble and oppression. But deep-rooted Christianity lives on.

Anxious & Deceived Christianity

What happens in the thorns that causes the word of God to be choked (Matthew 13:7, 22)? How do the angst of this world and delusion of wealth suffocate the Gospel? Such people receive the same word of God, and it even grows for a time, but circumstances soon strangle it. What is it about anxiety and wealth that choke God’s word? Like thorns, worldly cares and affluence suck the life out of spiritual growth. We are constantly enticed to waste time and effort on materialistic pursuits. Our pursuit of worldly success becomes all-consuming. Something must suffer, like family life and the things of God. The result is that our lives become spiritually dead. On such a treadmill, we have less time to even think about the word of the kingdom. Let’s escape the stress and seduction of wealth.

Hope for the Weak in Faith

The parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13:1-7, 18-22 seems to offer little hope for those who may be weak. What will happen to those who briefly heard of the kingdom of heaven but before they could dig any deeper it was snatched out of their possession? What happens to those who fall away because they are not grounded in the faith and have no endurance? What about those who are deceived by their wealth and choked by cares of this world and in spiritual poverty? The parable does not answer the question, but we can find some hope outside of it. For instance, the disciples all fell away for a time after Jesus’ death. Most of them eventually found strength and endured. There is hope for the weak in faith who stumble but eventually return.

Fruit-Filled Christianity

What happens in good soil that causes the seed of the word of God to grow so well (Matthew 13:8, 23)? After describing superficial, shallow and worry-filled counterfeits of Christianity, Jesus briefly described a genuine, fruit-filled Christianity. How many of us in the Church are more like the first three examples than the good soil which produces much fruit? What makes the difference? Jesus’ conclusion indicated the important difference to be understanding. The Greek word originates in “put together” as in the God-given ability to synthesize the word of the kingdom into a whole picture. This perceptive ability to put spiritual ideas together produces a fruit-filled Christianity. John the Baptist also understood this when he chided the Pharisees about repentance. A genuine change of heart is seen by its fruits. So too does authentic Christianity produce a fruit-filled life.

Being Fruitful

Paul taught what the fruit of the Spirit is (Galatians 5:22-23), but Jesus taught how it develops, in the right soil (Matthew 13:8, 23). What is our spiritual environment? How important are church attendance and preaching which immerses us in the nurturing soil of God's word? The word of God is a quote of something God said. It is also the Bible. It is also the Gospel. It is also inspired preaching about Christ. Do we find God’s word in the Bible, in the Gospel and in Christ-centered preaching? Jesus said that we need two things to grow, to hear the word of God and to understand it. We hear the word in a church that preaches the word. When we hear and understand the word of God, then we will see real spiritual fruit in our lives.


Failure is an option. The path to success is littered with failures. We must learn to take chances and be willing to fail many, many times on the road to the kingdom of heaven. Ultimate success is not quitting. God wants us all to succeed.

Good News: Be Free!


There is a Bible verse inscribed on the Liberty Bell: Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to all the inhabitants of it (Leviticus 25:10). What is liberty? What is American freedom? What is Christian freedom? How do they relate to one another?


To know that absolute freedom is only available in Christ.


We will begin with John 8:31-39, explore various freedoms of this world and discover Christian freedom.

When will we know Truth?

Jesus makes a remarkable statement (John 8:31-39) claiming that if we hold to his teaching we will know the truth. Why is this omitted when people say that the truth will set you free? In Greek the word for truth also means reality. Could it be like Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, that people occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened? Do we feel a little uncomfortable with absolutes like truth? Do we prefer to live a lie, whether it be political, religious, scientific or societal? For example, sometimes an enemy speaks uncomfortable truths about us. If our enemy speaks, do we listen objectively, or do we not all tend to shut our ears? Is the truth still the truth when it is uncomfortable?

Faith & Tyrants

Freedom is a Christian value (John 8:31-39). But, did the American War of Independence violate Christian faith? Do we submit to government even when we would disobey God (Romans 13)? King George III had violated both Divine and British law. Jonathan Mayhew preached, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Hebrews 11 praises heroes of faith. Some engaged in civil disobedience or overthrew oppressive governments. 1 Peter 2:13 says to “Submit … for the Lord's sake,” but not to obey evil laws. The Apostles (Acts 4-5) disobeyed tyrants to preach the Gospel. Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford wrote Lex Rex, that the law is above the king. The Americans saw the war as defensive. They did not fire the first shot. The British fired first in the Boston Massacre, bombed Boston, burned Charlestown, and attacked Williamsburg, Concord, and Lexington.

Slavery & Freedom

In John 8:34-35 Jesus addresses slavery, not the slavery of African American history, not the slavery of the Roman history and not even the slavery of Israel in ancient Egypt. He addresses the slavery to sin. At its roots, slavery is a bondage to a stronger power. In many ways we are still slaves today to things like addictions, debt, corrupt business and government overreach. But Jesus was not even talking about that alone. He said that we are slaves to sin, and that reaches everywhere, even into our own hearts. What is the solution to sin in government, business and our own lives? Could holding to Jesus’ teaching be a beginning? Could it just be that the answer begins as disciples of Jesus? Could it be that then we would begin learning truths that would set us free?

What are we Slaves to?

If we are honest we are all slaves to something. What about television? My Dad used to call it the “idiot box.” Instead of using our minds, do we engage in mindless slavery to meaningless entertainment? What about our degenerate western diet? We have the best availability of food in the world, but have we been hood-winked, deceived and enslaved by the food industry to eat addictive disease-causing garbage? What about our jobs? Most people hate their jobs but are we enslaved to them by sheer economic necessity? Worst of all, Jesus says that we are enslaved to sin (John 8:31-39), doing and thinking things which only harm us and others. How can we be set free? Jesus claims that the Son can set us free by holding to what he teaches. Living that truth will set us free.

Freedom & Caesar

We have no king but Ceasar” was what the chief priests cried when Pilate asked if he should crucify their king. “We have no king but Jesus” may have been a battle cry during the American Revolution, according to some sources, echoing a similar saying from the English Civil Wars a hundred years earlier. The tendency to see the solution to our problems in human governments was not the chief priests’ alone. Christians concerned for morality see salvation in the Republican Party and Christians concerned for the poor see salvation in the Democratic Party. Ronald Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Jesus said something different, that sin is the real problem and that only holding to the truth that he taught would set us free (John 8:34).

The Freedom of a Christian

Political freedom is good, but there is a greater freedom described by Martin Luther as The Freedom of a Christian. Paul said, “I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all” (1 Corinthians 9:19). Unlike the freedom that this world can offer, Jesus claims that if he makes us free, we are free indeed (John 8:34). What is this freedom? It is liberation from the yoke that sin creates in our world. The ultimate result of sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like is death. Yet, in Jesus we are freed from that penalty to live in the Spirit (Galatians 5), free to live in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


When American Patriots turned their backs on a self-serving English king, they set up a government under the rule of law. It was a great improvement over rule by the whims of selfish monarchs. But even the best of human governments fail. They cannot eradicate sin and bring us what we are really looking for. Only in Jesus can we find ultimate freedom.