What Does It Mean to Crucify the Flesh?

From Carol – Pastor David, can you explain what the phrase “Crucifying the flesh” means? It’s from a prayer by Spurgeon: “Gracious Father, daily remind me that crucifying the flesh is a slow and painful process only brought about by Your Spirit’s power.” Thank you.

Galatians 5:24-26 – Keeping in step with the Spirit.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

  1. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires: God has a place for our flesh, with all its passions and desires. He wants us to nail it to His cross, so that it may be under control and under the sentence of death.
  2. Crucified is an important word. Paul could have simply chosen the word “killed,” but he used the word crucified because it speaks of many things:
  • It reminds us of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
  • It reminds us that we are called to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).
  • It reminds us that the death of the flesh is often painful.
  • It reminds us that our flesh must be dealt with decisively.
  1. Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh: This speaks of something that the believer does, being directed and empowered by the Spirit of God. It was not and is not the sovereign, “unilateral” work of God.
  2. The old man, the self inherited from Adam, is crucified with Jesus as the sovereign work of God when we are born again. Romans 6:6 says, Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him. We are simply told to reckon, or account, the old man as dead (Romans 6:11), we are not told to put him to death. But the flesh is another matter. We are called to choose to work with God to do to the flesh exactly what God did all by Himself to the old man: crucify the flesh.
  3. “Please notice that the ‘crucifixion’ of the flesh described here is something that is done not to us but by us… Galatians 5:24 does not teach the same truth as Galatians 2:20 or Romans 6:6. In those verses we are told that by faith-union with Christ ‘we have been crucified with him’. But here it is we who have taken action.” (Stott)

iii. Boice on have crucified: “The verb is in the active voice and points rather to what the believer has himself done and must continue to regard as being done.”

  1. The problem of our flesh will not be finally dealt with until we are resurrected. Until then, we are to constantly “nail it to the cross,” so that it hangs there, alive yet powerless over us. “To resist the flesh… is to nail it to the Cross. Although the flesh is still alive it cannot very well act upon its desires because it is bound and nailed to the Cross.” (Luther)
  2. With its passions and desires: In Jesus Christ, you can live above the passions and desires of your flesh. The resources are there in Jesus. Look to Him. See your life in Him. If you are one of those who are Christ’s, then you belong to Him – not to this world, not to yourself, and not to your passions and desires.
  3. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit: We can better understand what Paul wrote here if we understand that the ancient Greek words for walk are different in Galatians 5:16 and 5:25. The first (peripateo) is the normal word for walking, used there as a picture of the “walk of life.” The second (stoicheo) means “to walk in line with” or “to be in line with.” Paul here is saying, “Keep in step with the Spirit.”
  4. The idea is, “The Spirit has given you life. Now let Him direct your steps.” Or, as the Revised English Bible has it, “If the Spirit is the source of our life, let the Spirit also direct its course.”
  5. “The verb stoicheo means ‘to be in line with, stand beside a person or a thing, hold to, agree with, follow’. The present imperative indicates that this is to be the habitual practice.” (Morris)
  6. Let us not become conceited: Paul concluded this section of walking in the Spirit with this warning, knowing that some will become conceited in their own walk in the Spirit. This can be a masterful stroke of Satan. We can think of a child of God finally walking in the Spirit – then Satan tempts him to be conceited about it. Soon, he is sure that he is almost always right and everyone else is wrong. It often happens gradually, so Paul warned, “Do not become conceited.”
  7. Morris on conceited: “To be conceited, to be sure that we are always right (even if that means that other people are always wrong!) is a perennial temptation to believers… It is easy to assume that because we are Christ’s we will always say and do the right thing. Paul is warning his readers that believers can be too confident that they are right in what they are contemplating.”
  8. Provoking one another: When we are conceited – always sure we are right, always confident in our opinions and perceptions – it definitely provokes other people. It will rub them the wrong way and be the source of many conflicts.
  9. Envying one another: When we are conceited, we also are open to the sin of envy. If we know someone is more right, or more successful than we are, we resent it and envy them.
  10. This whole chapter lends itself to a searching examination of ourselves. We often think that our problems and difficulties are all outside of ourselves. We think that we would be fine if everyone just treated us right and if circumstances just got better. But that ignores the tenor of this chapter: the problems are in us, and need to be dealt with by the Spirit of God. Augustine used to often pray, “Lord, deliver me from that evil man, myself.” With that kind of reality check, we can see a new world, and a new life – and not one other person or one other circumstance has to change. All we must do is yield to the Spirit of God, and begin to truly walk in the Spirit.

St. Patrick’s Day Message

Today, as I’m recording, is March 17th, which is recognized as St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day is a day of Irish culture and heritage. But most pointedly it remembers Patrick of Ireland, a man who was a wonderful Christian evangelist, pastor, and believer.

I want to recommend a St. Patrick’s Day message from a good brother named John McCarthy. John is a big wave surfer from Ireland. He has a wonderful ministry called Cliffs of Hope. I encourage you to watch his great St. Patrick’s Day message. Please do pray for this message as it connects briefly with the war in Ukraine & Russia which feels so close to all in Europe. I think it’s a great way to remember St. Patrick’s Day.

Did Old Testament sacrifices for sin apply to those who had committed murder?

In the Old Testament, did the sacrifices for sin apply to those who had committed murder or other sins that required capital punishment?

This is an interesting question to answer. I can’t give you actual details on how these things were carried out in Old Testament times. There may be a difference between the theory and the practice. But I’ll give you my understanding of the sacrificial system and the law of ancient Israel.

In theory, someone who committed murder could have their sin atoned for by the sacrifice of a bull or a goat or a lamb, as prescribed by the sacrificial system, yet they would still have to pay the civil penalty for their sin.

In other words, atonement through animal sacrifice did not wipe away the earthly and immediate consequences that a person might face because of their sin. I think that’s a very important distinction to make. There is the penalty that we pay for our sin as a consequence of our sin in this world, and then there is the penalty or the guilt of our sin before God. God may forgive our sin in His eyes, yet there is still a consequence that we must pay for that sin in this life. It’s not enough for us to say, “I’m forgiven before God;” there may be consequences to pay.

Let me give a silly illustration. You’re driving down the road, and if you’re like me, sometimes you go over the speed limit. I hope there’s no law enforcement personnel watching this right now. But it’s true. Sometimes when I drive, I go over the posted speed limit. And let’s say I’m going over the speed limit, just by one or two miles an hour, of course, but I am a pulled over by a policeman because I’m going too fast. As I see those red lights in my mirror, and I know I’ve been going too fast, I pull over to the side of the road and pray a prayer of forgiveness: “Father, You say in Your word that if we confess our sin, You’re faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Lord God, I pray that you would forgive me of this sin now.” Let’s say I do all that, and I am truly forgiven before God of that sin before the policeman ever reaches my car window. I’m forgiven before God. But it doesn’t mean that the policeman is not going to rightfully and righteously write me a ticket for however fast I was going.

Do you see the distinction? In theory, a person could make sacrifice for their sin, even an egregious sin such as murder. They would receive forgiveness before God but would have to pay a penalty on the human level, in the community, that would be righteous and good before God.

Again, I want to stress that I’m speaking in theory here. In practice, I don’t know if it would ever work out that way in the Old Testament, but at least in theory, it could happen.

Is it ok to belong to a church which holds core Christian beliefs, but differs doctrinally on things like Cessationism?

Is it okay to belong to a church that has the core Christian beliefs, but there are doctrinal differences? Specifically speaking, the church I attend is Cessationist, but I am not.

There are specific areas of biblical doctrine which are important, but maybe not essential to salvation. The issue of cessationism is one of those things. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, let me explain. Broadly speaking, in the Christian world, there are two different camps of biblical and theological thought. One is called Cessationism, and the other is called Continuationism.

Cessationism has the idea that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased. Maybe it was when the Apostles died or when the New Testament was finally completed. But at some time in the ancient world the miraculous gifts ceased with the passing of the Apostles, and God has not distributed miraculous gifts of the Spirit since that point. That’s one idea.

The other idea is sometimes called Continuation, or Continuationism. It’s the idea that these miraculous gifts, at least in some way, have continued throughout the centuries. Even though they may have been neglected or passed over, it’s not because God has withdrawn them or caused them to cease.

Now, this would make a difference in the way that a church operates. You can’t have a church that is Continuationist and Cessationist all at the same time. It’s something that the leadership of the church must make up their minds about.

So, if you are persuaded, as I am, that the Continuationist position is biblical and right, would it be acceptable for you to be a part of a Cessationist church? Maybe, if it’s the best church that you can practically attend. And by practically, I mean the distance or service times or other things which make it practical for you to attend that church. I think this is pretty much what we should do in selecting a church. Look, you’re not going to find a church that perfectly suits you. Maybe you will, sometimes. But even if you think you found a church that perfectly suits you, give it a little bit of time; there’s probably something in that church that will begin to annoy you, or you might consider to be less than perfect.

You’re not going to find a church that perfectly suits you. So, what do you need to do? You’ve got to find a church that best matches your understanding of biblical doctrine and practice. And when I say it “suits” you, I’m not just talking about things of individual preference or choice, like the style of music, the architecture, and so on. I mean things that are important in doctrinal practice. I’m not saying that those things have no importance in doctrinal practice, but they’re somewhere lower on the list. If you can’t find a church that perfectly matches what you think is important in doctrinal practice, then find a church that best matches what you believe in doctrinal practice.

But if you were to attend a church that is Cessationist in its approach to ministry, and you were convinced this was the best church for you and your family to attend, even though you didn’t agree with them on that particular point of doctrine, I think it would be very important for you to go to that church, and not subvert that teaching of the leadership of the church. In other words, do not make it your mission to change that position in that church. Leave that up to the leadership of the church.

Now, if they were to approach you and ask you your opinions, let them know; but don’t be spreading it around. Don’t be trying to gain a following. Don’t try to subvert the leadership of that church on that particular issue because you disagree with it. Respect the leadership of that church. And I say this as someone who has a continuationist.

If for some reason I found myself in belief that the best church for me and my family to go to was a church that believed in and practiced Cessationism, I would not try to subvert the leadership of the church by persuading the people or the leadership to another position, I would be respectful of the leadership of that church. So, I hope that’s clear enough and helps you understand it. God bless you for that question.

Did women go through circumcision like the men we read about like Abraham and Moses?

I can answer that question very directly and pointedly: No, they did not. They absolutely did not. There was no female equivalent to circumcision in the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant. Of course, that doesn’t mean women were excluded from the covenant. It’s just that circumcision, that particular sign and seal of the covenant, was not given to women.

The practice of female circumcision is really a form of mutilation. It’s practiced by some religions, I believe, including some segments of Islam. I have no idea if that’s instructed by Islamic leaders or the Quran or anything. According to my limited understanding, it’s practiced by some Islamic people today in the world.

Nowhere does the Bible command that. I would say that it would be act of violence against women to do such a thing. So no, there is no circumcision equivalent for women in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant.

Is the account of the sun standing still in Gibeon literal or poetic (Joshua 10:12)?

In Joshua 10:12, the account of the sun stopped in Gibeon, was this interpretation, literal or poetry of the earth not rotating was the purpose of this so that the Israelites could see during their battle?

Joshua 10:12 – Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

I believe that the sun appeared to stand still. What was actually happening in the cosmos? I don’t know. A slowing of the rotation of the Earth, a miraculous refraction of light, some other strange astronomical phenomenon? I don’t know. But I would just say this: by appearance, it looked like the sun stopped in the sky, and did exactly what you speak about. It gave extra hours of light for the Israelites to carry out their war against the Ammonites.

This is clearly an example of what we would just call anthropomorphism or a human-centered description. It’s describing things as they appear, without trying to get into astrophysics, and all the rest of it. By appearance, the sun stood still in the sky. Exactly what was happening in the cosmos with that? I can’t tell you. People can suggest things, but I don’t exactly know.

Where does Zechariah 14:12 fall on the prophetic timeline? Is it about a nuclear event?

Zechariah 14:12 – And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.

Zechariah 14:12 describes an aspect of the Messiah’s triumphant return. This is the coming of Jesus described in Revelation 19, when He comes with the armies of heaven, to conquer, and to establish His victory at Armageddon. Several passages of Scripture, mainly in the Old Testament, tell us more about this Triumph of the Messiah when He returns. There’s an aspect of it that happens at Jerusalem, another aspect that happens at Armageddon, the Valley of Jezreel, and a third aspect of it that happens at Bozrah, which is the modern-day Kingdom of Jordan, in some way connected with Petra in the ancient lands of the Edomites. So we have activity happening in these three places: Jerusalem, the Valley of Jezreel, and Bozrah.

Now, Jesus triumphs in military conquest over the enemies of God and the enemies of His people. And when I say His people, I mean it in two senses: first, His church, His gathered people, His ones that are redeemed because of their faith in the Messiah; and secondly, the people chosen for a particular role in God’s unfolding plan of the ages, that is, the Jewish people. And in defending them, He strikes out against the enemies of God, the enemies of those who are called and have some purpose in God’s unfolding plan.

Zechariah 14:12 describes the victory of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, over these enemies. I don’t want to sound flippant about this, but I’ll just explain it simply. I don’t think that it has reference to a nuclear weapon, because I don’t think Jesus needs nukes when He comes back to triumph over a sinful and rebellious world, when he comes in His glorious return. Now, by the word and the power of His mouth, He may command a similar effect to a nuclear weapon. That’s conceivable; that’s possible. What is described here, of flesh and eyes and tongues dissolving, describes somebody being shattered in their person. We think about this in CGI movies and comic book movies and things like that, but something analogous of that will happen to the enemies of the Lord.

Again, I don’t think it’s a nuclear weapon because Jesus doesn’t need a nuke. But He could command, by the word of His mouth, an effect very similar to that against the enemies of the Lord. This doesn’t describe a battle between human armies, nor does it describe what rebellious humanity tries to do against Jesus Christ, returning in glory. I believe it describes this great return of Jesus and does not describe a nuclear weapon.

I have no doubt that when Jesus does return in glory with tens of thousands of His saints, when He returns with His church in glory – not previously when He returns for His church – I don’t have any doubt that humanity will try to shoot Him out of the sky with nuclear weapons. But of course, it’ll all be in vain. Such attempts can do nothing but come to futility, because the Lord laughs against all those who oppose Him, and His victory will be clear upon that day.

Does John 8:7 mean we can’t call a person out of their sin because we are sinners ourselves?

John 8:7 – So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

No, I don’t believe that the words of Jesus in John 8:7 indicate for us that, as sinners ourselves, we can’t call a person out for their sin. What it means is this: we can’t condemn a person to death for their sin if we are sinners. Now, I’m leaving the whole issue of capital punishment outside of this. That takes place with due process of law, was allowed for under the Old Covenant, and it’s also spoken of in a permitted sense in the New Testament. I’m leaving that out.

What this is dealing with is for us to take justice into our own hands – not in the hands of the legitimate civil government – and to execute it upon somebody else. That’s what casting a stone was in the context of John 8. The context is the woman taken in adultery who was brought to Jesus. The religious leaders asked Jesus, “Hey, what should we do with this woman? Should we execute her as according to the law? Should we let her go?” Jesus saw through their hypocrisy. He saw that it was a setup.

Jesus said so brilliantly, “He who is without sin, let him throw the first stone.” Now to throw a stone at this woman wasn’t to insult her, or to say something bad against her, or to rebuke her for her sin. It was to initiate the actual execution of this woman. And Jesus says no. He especially spoke to that particular crowd, because they were not without sin in that very matter. They were the ones who, in some regard, had sinfully set up this woman, just to make a terrible example of her before Jesus and to use her as an excuse to try to trap Jesus. But of course, Jesus would not be trapped in this situation. He would not allow such a thing to happen. So really, that’s what we’re dealing with here. The casting of a stone wasn’t to offer a criticism or a rebuke or a correction; it was to actually execute somebody. And that’s what Jesus spoke against.

I have a sinful past. How can I have a good testimony before those who don’t believe?

If in the past I sinned deliberately, and my testimony was ruined, but I repented from my heart, how can I clean my testimony before unbelievers and be used as an instrument to bring people to Christ?

What a wonderful question. God is building a beautiful, powerful testimony in you right now. And that beautiful, powerful testimony is not the testimony of a sinless life. None of us have such a testimony. Only Jesus had such a testimony. But what He’s building in you right now is a life and a demonstration of genuine repentance. So your job, day by day, is to build that testimony of repentance.

I want to imagine myself as someone who’s looking at your life directly from the outside. I don’t know how long ago these particular sins happened in your past. I don’t know if they’re a month ago, a year ago, five years ago. But if it was only a month ago, we wouldn’t blame a person who looked at your life and said, “Well, this person used to be all bound up in those sins a month ago. Now they’re living differently. This person appears to be different. Now, let’s see if it lasts.”

Every day that you walk in the repentance that God has so beautifully gifted you with, you are building a powerful testimony. We do not need to have a testimony of perfection. We need to have a testimony of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and you’re building that up day by day. So just keep doing it. Keep walking in a right relationship with the Lord, abiding in Him, and be encouraged that God is building a beautiful, wonderful testimony in and through you.

What are some examples of “weights” that should be set aside (Hebrews 12:1)?

In your commentary on Hebrews 12:1, you describe “every weight” as something that may not be sin, but something that may hinder us, something we may lay aside. Would you please give some examples of what those things might be?

I’ll give some examples. I’m always a little bit self-conscious throwing out examples like this, because somebody may hear a word of condemnation from me when I just throw out possibilities. I’m not trying to condemn anybody for the following practices. I’m simply saying that these things may become a weight which prevents somebody from going forward with Jesus Christ.

One example is a hobby; a hobby could be obsessive. Somebody whose hobby is fishing, or hunting, or doing some kind of craft, or painting, or whatever. If that person becomes so obsessed with their hobby, it is not in itself a sin. But if it so dominates their life that it keeps them from truly following after Jesus Christ and giving honor unto Him, then it’s a weight that so easily ensnares us.

Again, I hope nobody is saying to hearing me say that fishing, or a hobby, or hunting, or crafting, or something else, necessarily does that to us, but they could. If it is keeping us from following after Jesus, then it’s a weight that so easily ensnares us.

Another example is the responsible consumption of alcohol. Again, we all know that the Bible says getting drunk or intoxicated is a sin. Is alcohol permitted for some Christians to drink? Well, yes, but could it become something that becomes a weight in their life that they should lay aside? Yes.

I could name any number of things: hobbies, relationships, certain forms of food, and so on. These are all things that have the potential to become weights which so easily ensnare us. They are things that aren’t necessarily, in and of themselves, bad or evil or forbidden. But it matters what place they have in our life.

And there are times when God will very jealously speak to our heart about something that He wants us to deny ourselves just for His sake, just for His cause. Again, I, I understand this is hard for us to comprehend sometimes. Sometimes we’re so focused on our liberty as Christians, we don’t realize that God has the liberty to put His finger on something in our life, and to say, “Dear child, this practice for this season, I call you to lay it aside, for My sake.” If God were to say such a thing for you, if He in His providence were to guide you in such a way, would you listen? Could you hear Him? I hope so.

These are the kinds of things I would categorize under this idea of every weight. They are things that in and of themselves are not necessarily sinful, but which can be hindrances to our walk with God. Whether or not they are hindrances is really between the believer and their Lord. Maybe a trusted friend could give you insight from the outside. But that’s the general message.

In 1 Corinthians 7:5, why do the KJV and NKJV Bibles say “fasting and prayer,” but other Bible versions only say “prayer”?

Why does the King James Bible say, “fasting and prayer,” in 1 Corinthians 7:5, and just “prayer” in other versions, like the New American Standard, ESV, etc.?

1 Corinthians 7:5 NKJV – Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The King James and New King James versions of the Bible are based on a different textual tradition of the Greek New Testament. I’ll use imprecise terminology for this, but the King James and the New King James are based on the Byzantine textual tradition, while these other translations, such as the New American Standard, ESV, NIV, and so on, are based on the Alexandrian Textual family. This passage is just different in those texts or families of manuscripts.

The valid question is, which is a better reflection of what the Apostle Paul first wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? That’s the whole question of textual comparison and criticism. And how do we determine that? Well, I don’t think we determine it by an automatic answer, by assuming that either the Alexandrian Textual family is always correct, or the Byzantine Textual family is always correct. I think that these things must be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Good commentaries and Greek resources will tell you which manuscripts those texts are found in, the weight of those manuscripts, other kinds of consistencies or inconsistencies in the textual tradition, and a determination can be made by that. Off the top of my head, I can’t tell you which one I would consider to be a more accurate translation. I’d have to do some research and dig into that.

I do believe that we must consider these different readings on a case-by-case basis. I don’t automatically assume that one is always superior over the other.

Are we obligated to say “in the name of Jesus” at the beginning or end of each prayer?

Are we really obligated to say “in the name of Jesus” at the beginning or end of each prayer? Sometimes my prayers are really short, and it doesn’t feel natural.

God bless you. What a great question. I love that. Listen, some of the best prayers are short prayers. Make no mistake about it. I like the prayer of Peter when he was sinking under the water, after having walked on the water, at least for a few steps. He just cried out, “Lord, help me!” That’s a short prayer, but it was a great prayer. Prayers don’t have to be long to be effective before God. Peter probably didn’t have time to say, “Lord, help me – in Jesus’ name.”

Let me just make this plain. Saying the words, “in Jesus’ name” does not make a prayer in Jesus’ name. To pray in the name of Jesus has a few connotations. Number one, it means to pray in Him as our mediator and our access before God. I know that most of the world doesn’t use checks anymore, you know, written out checks where you write in amount. They’re used more commonly in America, but other places in the world don’t use them at all. But a check is basically a piece of paper with your bank account information on it, and you write somebody’s name on it, indicating, “Pay to the order of this person.” If you were to take a check to the bank from me, you’re not asking for that money in your name; you’re asking for that money in my name, because my name is on the check. You’re asking on the basis of my resources and bank account, not on the basis of your resources and bank account.

So, for that simple reason, to pray in the name of Jesus is simply to pray on the basis of Jesus’ merits, Jesus’ access to God, Jesus as our mediator. It’s not to come to God and say, if I were the one praying, “Hey, Lord, it’s David. I’m so awesome. Listen to my prayer!” It’s to come in the name of Jesus say, “Lord, I come in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He’s the one that’s awesome. And He’s given me the permission to come in His name.”
Now, that attitude of heart in prayer is far more important than actually saying the words, “in Jesus’ name.” There are prayers that are legitimately made in the name of Jesus, that never have the words,  “in Jesus name,” attached to them. And then there are other prayers that could say “in Jesus’ name” all day long, but that person’s heart isn’t coming in Jesus’ name one bit.

I hope that that is clear to you, that there’s a difference between praying in my name, or in the name of a saint, or in the name of a pastor, or in the name of somebody else and what we’re doing. We come in Jesus’ name, not in the name of a saint, not in the name of Mary, not in the name of anybody else. We come in the name of Jesus. If that is established in the heart, to pray on His ground, and to the best of our ability according to His heart, that’s truly a prayer in the name of Jesus. That’s what it means to pray in the name of Jesus, and you can pray a very short prayer that in your heart is prayed on the basis of Jesus and what He has done and what He has asked.

Why did Jesus teach using parables?

I’m currently studying Mark 12. Jesus hasn’t used any parables since Mark 4. To your way of thinking, why is He using the parabolic teaching method here?

If you’re really interested in the use of parables, it’s probably more helpful to focus on the Gospel of Luke. Now, of course, Jesus uses parables in the other Gospels. Not so much in the Gospel of John, but in Matthew and Mark, of course. But Luke is the Gospel that most focuses on parables.

I think that Jesus’ purpose in parables was not merely to put information into illustrative terms. But it was also to hide the truth in pictures which the spiritually sensitive would understand and grasp. This is explained in the Gospels, when the disciples ask Jesus the purpose of His use of parables. Again, it’s to use pictures that could be understood by those who have some spiritual sensitivity. Those who did not have the spiritual sensitivity might not understand what Jesus was saying at all. And there were times when that was perfectly okay with Jesus because it would mean that those who did not understand would not be building up the guilt for themselves of having specifically rejected something that they understood.

So, I don’t think there’s any one reason for the use of parables. In some regard, they’re illustrative stories. But in another regard, they were ways of Jesus presenting the truth so that it could be heard and understood by those with spiritual sensitivity.

For a deeper explanation, check out my commentary on Luke 8.

Is the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 the same as the Gog and Magog of Revelation 20?

The succinct answer to your question is: I don’t know. Maybe. I suspect not. There’s a lot involved in that question. I don’t think I can give a definitive answer. But when you piece it all together, especially considering what Ezekiel 38-39 says about what will happen in the aftermath of that battle, it’s hard for me to reconcile the battle with Gog and Magog that’s described in Revelation 20. Again, because of the aftermath: there are years and years of burying the dead after the battle described in Ezekiel 38-39. From my understanding of the battle described in Revelation 20, there’s no time for that. None of that happens after that. So, I would make a distinction between the two. I don’t know if I can be absolutely certain on it. But I would say I suspect they are not the same. I see too many distinctions between them.

Why does 1 John say, “no one has ever seen God,” yet in John’s Gospel Jesus said, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father”?

1 John says none has ever seen God. Yet in John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” Please comment.

When it says that no one has seen God in 1 John, it’s the same author who wrote the Gospel of John. We understand that John is speaking about is that nobody has seen God in the immediate sense. There is no person dwelling on Earth who has seen God the Father, face-to-face, enthroned in glory in Heaven. It’s just not going to happen. So that’s something that awaits us in the world to come, not this world.

But what is God like? What’s His nature? What’s His character? We can see that reflected in the person and work of Jesus Christ. There’s a sense in which we can see God in Jesus, and people could, but not to see Him in the immediate sense, face-to-face before the throne of God. So that’s what John is speaking about there.