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THE DESIGN OF OUR PLANET AND SOLAR SYSTEM

Our Planet Earth and solar system are perfectly designed for life to exist. If any one of a number of factors wasn’t finely-tuned for our survival, we would not be here.

  • DISTANCE FROM SUN – Our Earth is the perfect distance from the sun. Too much closer and everything would burn up. Too much further away and everything would freeze.
  • WATER – Life-giving water is constantly recycled through evaporation and rain, and filtered through to reachable, underground reservoirs all over the earth.
  • ATMOSPHERE – Without the 60-mile-high atmosphere, life couldn’t exist. Without the perfect balance of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, life couldn’t exist.
  • GRAVITY – Just the right amount of gravitational pull keeps us stationed on the rotating earth, but doesn’t make us too heavy to move.  The moon’s gravitational pull keeps the tides circulating in the oceans.

 WATER – A VITAL ELEMENT FOR LIFE AS WE KNOW IT

  • UNIVERSAL SOLVENT – The simple bond of the water molecule makes it possible for most substances to dissolve in water. Therefore water can distribute important minerals and nutrients throughout the world and inside the cells and organisms of our body. Water also flushes out toxins and carries them away.
  • EARTH’S OCEANS – Water has the ability to absorb heat in the summer and release it during the winter. Therefore the presence of large quantities of water regulates the temperatures on earth so that life doesn’t burn up or freeze. Water has the unique ability to be a liquid, solid and gas within the narrow temperature range on earth.
  • ICE – The way in which water freezes to a solid is unique. Because it is less dense than its liquid form (unlike other solids) ice is able to float on top of water. If this wasn’t the case, and ice sunk to the bottom of lakes, the whole body of water would freeze over and aquatic life would die.

THE MULTI-FUNCTIONING, PRE-PROGRAMMED HUMAN BRAIN

  • PRE-PROGRAMMED – A vast amount of necessary body functions occur without us even having to think about them. Activities such as: heart rhythm, breathing, digestion, immune responses, reactions to pain, and so many more, keep us alive. 
  • VASTLY MORE CAPACITY THAN IS NECESSARY – The human brain has more potential than anyone can ever use in their lifetime. It is more powerful for its size than the best super computer that has been designed. Its capabilities extend to understanding mathematics and the laws of nature, music, art, abstract thought, processing emotion, language, creativity, invention, and the list goes on!

UNIFORM LAWS OF NATURE BASED ON MATHEMATICAL EQUATIONS

  • FRACTALS – Fractals are reoccurring patterns that become smaller and smaller based on mathematical equations. Fractals occur throughout nature in plant life, animal life, water crystallization, and even lightning. These patterns don’t attest to random development, but intelligent design.
  • MATHEMATICS – Humans didn’t invent mathematics, humans discovered math was already in existence. Incredibly complex, constant, and predictable patterns are behind many forms of life, and the movement of planets.

IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY

An irreducibly complex machine has complicated parts that must all be present for the machine to function. Creation abounds with these examples. For example, our eye is an incredibly complex camera which has millions of working parts. The pupil must be there to control the light, the crystalline lens behind the iris allows us to focus on close and distant objects, the retina has many thin layers of photoreceptors which bundle the images and send them to the brain for interpretation. If the brain couldn’t process the images, or if one of those important parts were non-existent, the whole machine would fail to work. It is not reasonable to assume that so many helpful mutations could occur perfectly all at once, and in so many varied, perfectly-functioning, living machines!

DNA – THE CODE FOR ALL LIVING CREATURES 

  • INSTRUCTION CODES – All life is governed by DNA instruction codes far more complex than any programming that human engineers have coded in the last 100 years of research. The DNA code can even replicate itself, self-correct for errors, and reprogram itself to account for changing circumstances as needed.

“PRE-PROGRAMMED” INSTINCTS IN LIVING CREATURES

  • MIGRATION AND SURVIVAL – All birds, reptiles and animals have incredible pre-programming that causes them to act in predictable patterns beneficial to their existence. Many birds, fish, butterflies, and insects have migratory instincts that cause them to follow set patterns and return to the same breeding/migratory territories again and again. Many will do this without ever being shown where to go by their parents. Magnetic ‘GPS’ systems are built into their brains, not ‘learned,’ but pre-programmed. 

THE MIRACLE OF REPRODUCTION 

Humans have invented many moving systems, but never has there been a way for their inventions to reproduce! What a miracle it is that living creatures and living plants are able to reproduce so perfectly, passing on amazing combinations of genetics from both parent sources.

THE COMPLEXITY OF THE BIBLE

God states that the Bible is His inspired Word. Just as his intelligence, mathematical patterns, complexity are seen in His creation, so these attributes shine through in His Word. 

  • THE MESSIAH – Even though the Bible was penned by around 40 different authors over a period of 4000 years, the same consistent message about a promised saviour who would die to save the world from sin, occurs throughout. The majority of these promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, with some still remaining to be fulfilled in the future. 
  • HEALTH AND HYGIENE – The ‘ Law of Moses’ demonstrates an advanced understanding of germs, disease and the way in which illnesses are transmitted, thousands of years before humans invented the microscope. The insistence on washing with running water, keeping contagious disease and discharge isolated, covering human excrement, avoiding the consumption of ‘unclean’ animals, and so much more, demonstrates that God understood medical science long before we did. 
  • CROSS-REFERENCES – There are at least 340,000 acknowledged cross-references throughout the Bible, identifying common themes, quotations or people. Keeping in mind the numerous writers, vast expanse of time and geographical locations, these common themes, repeated quotations and accurate recollections of various characters are impressive. https://a.openbible.info/blog/2010-04-cross-references-2000.png 

FULFILLED BIBLE PROPHECY

Detailed prophecies were recorded in the Bible involving various nations that have come and gone on the earth. Those details have been fulfilled in the past – with the nations of Egypt, Tyre, Babylon, Greece, Rome, and more. In our day, we are seeing the incredibly miraculous fulfillment of prophecy concerning the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. So many details are given, and one by one, they are being checked off, mostly ‘against all odds’.

THE ENORMOUS IMPACT OF JESUS CHRIST

  • HISTORICALLY VALID – That Jesus Christ lived and died is attested to by various sources, namely the Bible (over 5000 copies of New Testament manuscripts, before the invention of the printing press, are available today, as opposed to most Classical works which rarely have more than 20 copies in existence). However, other writers in the first three Centuries attest to Jesus’ historical legitimacy, namely the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. Many Early Christian bishops and church fathers also penned references to Jesus Christ in the first three centuries.
  • THE CALENDAR – The year 2020 attests to the life of Jesus Christ, since our dating system was changed to be based on his birth – a true testament to the importance placed on his life, and quite a feat if he never existed. It has been approximately 2020 years since Jesus Christ was born.
  • MARTYRS – Not many people will give their life to proclaim a lie. The fact that so many early Christians willingly submitted to torturous deaths, demonstrates the power of their conviction that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to be our Saviour.
  • A LEADER LIKE NO OTHER – The heroes in cultures outside of Christianity are generally powerful super-men, “gods” who are valiantly powerful and make others subservient to them. Many of these ‘gods’ act in immoral ways, fill their lives with pleasures, and are a law to themselves. Jesus Christ never put on a show of human strength. His message was that those who wanted to be great should serve others. He led a completely moral and sinless life devoid of self-serving pleasures. Willingly, he submitted to a humiliating death in order to ‘destroy’ the greatest enemy of all mankind – ‘the devil’ – sin in our nature. (Hebrews 2:8-19) Through his life and death he gave us an amazing example to follow. Through his death and resurrection we have forgiveness and the hope of immortality. (Romans 5:11-21)

Anyone listening to the news lately, has realized that the potential for another world war is escalating everyday. It can be frightening to realize that nations who are bent on the destruction of other nations, have nuclear weapons already, or are close to developing them! Yet, in the midst of this world chaos, God’s prophecies are being fulfilled before our very eyes. Miracles are happening daily, but we won’t recognize them as such, unless we understand what our Heavenly Father has told us to look for. It’s all in the Bible!

How to Accurately Interpret Prophecy

There are a host of Prophecy-related YouTube videos and messages about Bible Prophecy, online. Some are helpful and some are very far-fetched. Here are a few helpful tips in determining how to interpret Bible Prophecy.

The Bible Unlocks Itself

‘Interpretations belong to God,’ said Joseph in Genesis 40:8, in other words, the Bible unlocks itself. To understand prophecies for today, we must decipher the symbols based on prophecies that have been fulfilled in the past. For instance, the book of Daniel is a good place to begin. Daniel 2 records a prophecy of 4 great empires that have come and gone – Babylon, Medes & Persians, Greece, and Rome. This prophecy is easy, as the interpretation follows in chapter 2, and then in chapter 7 & 8 the same prophecy is given about the same 4 empires using beasts to represent them. So we learn from chapters 7 & 8 that ‘beasts’ can represent nations; horns represent powers or kings; ‘Casting down stars’ represents casting down governments, and so on. Understanding the way in which these symbols are used in Daniel 7 & 8 is essential in order to accurately interpret prophetic books like Revelation.

Prophecy is Tightly Bound to the Gospel Message

Bible prophecies are very much related to the hope of the Gospel message. Understanding the true Gospel message – ‘the good news about the kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ’ (Acts 8:12), helps us to understand the purpose of prophecy, the focus of prophecy, and see the ‘bigger picture’ – what God plans to do with this earth. Without the understanding that all nations will be blessed through Abraham and his most important descendant Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8,16,27-29; Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:18-21; 17:7-8; 22:15-18; Acts 1:6; 28:20), many creative but false interpretations of prophecy can occur.

Bible Prophecy – Given to Strengthen Our Faith

Bible prophecy gives indisputable evidence that the Bible has been Divinely inspired. What other book has accurately predicted the future, thousands of years in advance? Numerous prophecies have been fulfilled in accurate detail, time and again. For example: the nation of Babylon, Egypt, Tyre, Assyria, and in our day Britain and Brexit, and the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. The Prophecy Handout covers some of these accurate fulfillments.

Bible Prophecy – Warning of God’s Intervention

God has also provided Bible prophecy to give ample warning of His interventions in world affairs. There are several examples in the Old Testament where God warned various nations of his coming judgements, giving them ample time to change their ways and seek His plan. 

The ‘last days’ – our time – is the focus of some key prophecies which involve the nations of the world – Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth, Russia and the Northern forces, and Israel.

The Nation of Israel

One very exciting prophecy for our day can be found in Ezekiel 36-39. The first two chapters speak of the incredible regathering of the Jewish people from all nations to which they had been scattered. God promises to return the Jews to their land, make them a nation again, and specifically speaks of giving them the ‘mountains of Israel’ – the disputed ‘West Bank’. In the last century we have been watching this occur!! It is miraculous that a prophecy given over 2500 years ago can accurately be fulfilled in our day against much opposition and impossible circumstances every step of the way. 

A Northern Invasion

However, in Ezekiel 38, God warns that when the newly formed nation of Israel is ‘at rest,’ and the people ‘dwell safely’, a Northern alliance of nations (Russia, Iran, Ethiopia, Libya, Turkey and Europe) will sweep down to invade Israel and Egypt, against the ineffective opposition of Britain, America, Commonwealth countries and their Arab allies. Only God’s intervention will stop this destructive onslaught.

Comparing Ezekiel’s prophecy with Daniel 11:40-45, Zechariah 14, and Joel 3, we see that God’s intervention to save Israel is tied in to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to reign on this earth! However, not everyone will recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, some will even view him as Antichrist, and this is detailed in the Prophecy Handout below.

Bible Presentation, Handout and Other Links

Recently, we have put together an audio presentation and Prophecy Handout on this subject, where we consider the various ‘code names’ that are used in Ezekiel 38 and what nations they relate to today. We discuss what is left to occur in the prophecy, how this impacts our world, and how it will bring about God’s plan and promise of His Son reigning as King on this earth.

The attached AUDIO presentation and an 11- page Prophecy Handout have been put together with help from Jonathan Bowen, THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS, and Peter Owen.  

We have also included a handout – “Israel – A Miracle Before our Eyes” which lists 12 events that were prophesied in the Bible concerning the Jewish people and have been fulfilled in the last 2000 years. This handout also includes 9 prophecies left to be fulfilled! Stay alert – these will be future headlines in the News!

To answer this question, Jesus said, “‘Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Therefore the Jews said: ‘This temple was built in forty-six years and will you raise it up in three days? But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples called to mind that he used to say this; and they believed the Scripture and the saying that Jesus said.’” (John 2:19-22 NWT 1984 Edition)

Despite this simple statement by Jesus himself, that the ‘temple of his body’ would be raised, the Watchtower Society insists that Jesus’ body was not raised from the dead. Instead, they say he was raised as an ‘invisible spirit creature’. 

This passage presents a serious problem for the Watchtower Society as is evidenced in the fact that it is very difficult to find an explanation for John 2:19-22 in all the volumes of their published literature. In addition to this, when asked, ‘What happened to the dead body of Jesus?’, they reply that ‘they do not know.’ It has been suggested by the Watchtower Organization that ‘possibly his body was dissolved into gases’ or ‘preserved as a grand memorial’ of Jesus’ loving sacrifice.

The Watchtower derides the idea that Jesus’ body could have been raised, as is demonstrated in the following quotes, published in the W.T. 73 6/1, pg. 350:

“Could you believe that Jesus Christ, the majestic King of the new world, made higher than all other creatures, would remain in a body of flesh? He would be inferior to a spirit, and far too limited to accomplish the marvelous things required of such a king, among them the destroying of the mighty spirit person, Satan the Devil.”

“A human body requires earthly elements for its continued existence. It is made for the earth and must subsist upon the things produced from the earth.”

However, is this a fair representation of resurrection to immortality? If a body is resurrected from the dead – do the Scriptures say that it remains mortal? We will examine this in more depth.

King David’s Prophecy

King David prophesied of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the Psalms. Psalm 16:9 says, “Therefore my heart does rejoice…Also, my flesh [‘basar’ – ‘flesh, by extension body’] will reside in security. For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.” (NWT 1984 Edition)

“So my heart rejoices, my whole being is joyful. And I reside in security. For you will not leave me in the Grave. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.” (NWT 2013 Edition)

We know that this Psalm is an actual prophecy about Jesus Christ, as the Apostle Peter quotes this passage in Acts 2:25-27, saying, “On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. Moreover even my flesh will reside in hope; because you will not leave my soul in Hades neither will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.” (NWT 1984 Edition)

“On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. And I will reside in hope; because you will not leave me in the Grave, nor will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.” (NWT 2013 Edition)

Both David and the Apostle Peter plainly state that the reason why Jesus’ flesh could ‘reside in hope’. Peter says, “because you will not leave me in the Grave.” David says, “For you will not leave me in the Grave.”

This prophecy is so clear, even the Watchtower admits that David believed and predicted a bodily resurrection of Jesus. 

A Spiritual Body?

Believing that Jesus was resurrected bodily, does not negate that he was ‘put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.’ 1 Peter 3:18. It does not contradict 1 Corinthians 15:44, “It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” Because as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:53, “For this which is corruptible must PUT ON incorruption, and this which is mortal must PUT ON immortality.”

1 Corinthians 15 is presented by the Watchtower as absolute proof that this is describing a resurrection whereby the actual body is not raised, but remains dead. They say that the individual is raised as an ‘invisible spirit creature’ based on certain statements made by the Apostle Paul in verses 40, 44 and 50: “And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort… It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one… But I tell you this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”

Yet, the Apostle Paul has based his arguments in 1 Corinthians 15 upon the inspired words of two Hebrew prophets, Isaiah and Hosea, both of which are cross-referenced in the NWT. After finishing his description, the Apostle Paul makes this statement in verse 54, “But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’”

Isaiah’s Prophecy

What is this ‘saying’, that was written, which Paul refers to here? It is this direct quote from Isaiah 25:8, which the Watchtower acknowledges in their own cross-reference. Isaiah 25:8 reads, “He will swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces….” 

Paul himself, in quoting Isaiah 25:8, says that the resurrection that will take place is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. When Isaiah penned these words, was he foretelling a non-bodily resurrection from the dead? There is no doubt that when Isaiah says, “He will swallow up death forever”, he himself believed that those who were privileged to experience resurrection to immortality would no longer face death. Isaiah’s prophecy continues on to the next chapter, where he says in Isaiah 26:19, “Your dead will live. My corpses will rise up. Awake and shout joyfully, you residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of the morning, and the earth will let those powerless in death come to life.” Isaiah is describing bodily resurrection where ‘death is swallowed up forever’, precisely what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15. 

Isaiah 26:19 demonstrates that a ‘corpse’ will rise up and be changed. The ‘corpse’ will ‘PUT on immortality’ as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:53. This is language describing an actual change to the body, not the disposal of the body. Paul says the same thing in Romans 8:11, “If, now, the spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will ALSO make YOUR MORTAL BODIES alive through his spirit that resides in you.”

What Happens to Mortal Bodies?

What is the outcome, according to Paul, of the ‘mortal bodies’ of the believers in Rome? Are they disposed of, or changed? Romans 8:11 clearly says that your mortal bodies will be made alive.

Notice how the Watchtower translates verse 23 of Romans 8. “Not only that… while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom.” (NWT 2013)

Such a translation conveys the idea that the adopted sons will be separated from the body as ‘invisible spirit creatures’. This would put Romans 8:11, quoted above, in opposition to verse 23, and thus these verses would contradict one another. 

In the Watchtower’s own Kingdom Interlinear, the word-for-word Greek reads, “the release by ransom OF the body”, which doesn’t contradict Romans 8:11. Indeed, when granted immortality, the body is ‘released’ from the bondage of sin that it now experiences. The fact the Watchtower finds it necessary in Romans 8:23 to choose the word ‘from’, as opposed to ‘of’, demonstrates they sense the weakness of their argument.

Other translations appropriately translate verse 23, in support of verse 11, as follows:

“as we wait for our bodies to be set free” Jerusalem Bible

“we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” NRSV

“we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” KJV

“the redemption of our bodies” NIV

“the redemption of our body” NKJV

As we’ve seen, Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8, “then the saying that is written will take place: Death is swallowed up forever,” as the basis of his treatise concerning resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Isaiah then goes on to predict a bodily resurrection in Isaiah 26:19. Paul assures us in Romans 8:11, that “the one who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will ALSO make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit…” So why would this same Apostle say something completely different in Romans 8:23? 

The majority of other Bible translations support the prophecy of Isaiah, by saying the the ‘body’ will be ‘redeemed’, not ‘disposed of’ – as the NWT attempts to convey in its unique translation of this passage.

Why was Jesus Not Recognized in Luke 24?

Yet, the Watchtower will say that Jesus was not recognized by his disciples after he was raised. This, they will say, is proof that he was not raised bodily. Instead, the Watchtower claims that Jesus appeared, or ‘materialized’ in different bodies, simply to show that he was alive. An oft-cited example, is Luke 24:15-16, “Now as they were conversing and discussing these things, Jesus himself approached and began walking with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (NWT 2013)

In verse 16 of this chapter we are told why they did not recognize him – “but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” We are not told that they didn’t recognize him because he was in a different body. Yet, if Jesus had ‘materialized’ in the same body would this not have been the best proof of his resurrection? The fact that the disciples’ eyes were ‘kept’ from recognizing him, shows that God had a reason for doing this. 

So, we see that 1 Corinthians 15 is in perfect harmony with John 2:19-22, Romans 8:11, 23, Psalm 16:9-10, and Isaiah 26:19. The language of 1 Corinthians 15:50 describes a change to the body, not the disposal of the body. Both David and Isaiah were inspired prophets. The Watchtower admits that they both believed in a bodily resurrection. They knew nothing of a so-called ‘heavenly resurrection’ as described by the Watchtower society. Were these inspired prophets of the Old Testament in error? 

Further demonstrating that the resurrected Jesus is not an ‘invisible spirit creature’ that ‘sacrificed his perfect human life’ are the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning his identity. 

He is the seed of Abraham –  Genesis 13:15 and Galatians 3:16

He is the offspring of David –  2 Samuel 7:12 and Acts 2:30

He is the lion of the tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:9-10; Revelation 5:5

After his resurrection, Jesus’ identity did not change. How for example is an ‘invisible spirit creature’ – namely, Michael the Archangel, a descendant of Abraham? Or of the tribe of Judah? Or the offspring of David?

Nowhere in the New Testament, do the Christian writers change the identity of Jesus their Messiah. What has changed – is his nature. Romans 6:9: “For we know that Christ , now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is no longer master over him.” Jesus’ body has been clothed with immortality. He now partakes of God’s nature.

We appeal to all Jehovah’s witnesses to examine the arguments presented here and especially the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5-6:  “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus. Who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all…” At the very end of Revelation the identity of Jesus is still the same as it has always has been.  In chapter 22:16, the immortal Jesus says of himself, “I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you about these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David and the bright morning star.” 

We welcome all comments and questions,

Norm Smith

reinodejesus@aol.com

Is the Unjust Steward truly commended by Jesus for his shrewd decision to reduce debts and ingratiate friends? Or is he a dishonest manager that no one would trust? Does Jesus use sarcasm in Luke 16? Is the lesson only about financial dealings in worldly matters, or is there another level to the story? We decided to investigate.

Context

As always, examining the context helps to see who Jesus was addressing, and for what reason. The parable in Luke 16 follows the parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. We know from Luke 14 that Jesus was at a chief Pharisees’ house. In chapter 15 the publicans and sinners wanted to hear Jesus speak and had come close, while the Pharisees and Scribes were still nearby. At the end of the Parable of the Unjust Steward, the Pharisees were still listening and resented the message. So, it seems that all these parables may have been told in succession, perhaps while Jesus was at the chief Pharisees’ house.

It is also possible that the parable of the Unjust Steward is a continuation of the Parable of the Lost, with a change of focus now towards the ‘Elder’ Son who proudly stayed with his Father. Although serving for many years and thinking he had never ‘transgressed’ any of the commandments, the Elder certainly never developed the character of his father. He was angry and resentful towards his wayward brother’s return, while his loving father was merciful and forgiving. 

Word Meanings

Sometimes it helps to look at the word-meanings. A ‘steward’ is a ‘house-distributor, or a manager, or an overseer.’ Joseph and Daniel both served faithfully in this capacity and are excellent examples of faithful stewards. However, this steward had wasted his [Lord’s] goods’. To ‘waste’ has the idea of ‘dissipate, squander, scatter’. It is the identical word used of the Prodigal Son who wasted his substance with riotous living’. However, this steward was still in the house; he hadn’t left! Like the Lost Coin parable, the Elder Son was lost inside the house.

‘I cannot dig’

When the steward’s ‘wastefulness’ was discovered, he was told he would be dismissed from his job. Like anyone getting a ‘pink slip’, this provoked anxious thoughts about how he would provide for himself. The first two options that came to his mind were to ‘dig’ or ‘beg’. Dig means ‘dig’ – but the word is only used in two other places in the New Testament!  One is in Luke 6:48, where Jesus talks about digging deep to lay your house (life) on the foundation of Christ. The other is in Luke 13:8, where the gardener decides to dig about an unproductive tree one more time to fertilize it and give it another chance to be fruitful. This is interesting… maybe the wasteful steward was not willing to dig deep and build his life on Christ’s commands? Or dig around others (perhaps the debtors!) to help encourage them to a life of productivity in Christ? As a steward he should have been doing these things – providing meat in due season for all in the house (Matthew 24:45-46). It seems he had never been willing to ‘dig’, and wasn’t willing to change his wasteful ways.

‘To beg I am ashamed’

Well, then what about the word ‘beg’? The word meaning isn’t all that revealing; it simply means to ask again and again, or to beg. Yet, there are plenty of places we are told to ‘ask’.

Ask and it shall be given you” (Matthew 7:7)

God knows how to ‘give good things to them that ask’” (Matthew 7:11).

Was there something the wasteful steward should have asked from his master? For instance, had he ever considered asking for forgiveness? Yes, he had been caught in sin, and he felt guilty and ashamed, but surely the best option at this point would have been to beg for mercy and forgiveness!

Generous with another man’s goods

In contrast, when the Prodigal Son came to his senses and realized he had made a foolish mistake, he decided to return to his Father, confess his failure, and beg for forgiveness. He was so humbled by his experience, he only asked to be a servant for the rest of his life.  The Unjust Steward didn’t consider asking for mercy, he decided instead to rely on his own ingenuity. “Take your bill,” he said to his master’s debtors, and then he ‘generously’ discounted the debts at his master’s expense! This isn’t true generousity – true generosity comes out of our own pocket. Discounting debts on a personal whim, is also not faithful management of his master’s property; he was continuing to be a waster. However, for those of his Lord’s debtors who weren’t loyal customers, this discounting of their debt would have endeared this ‘unjust’ steward to them.

Have we ever had the experience where a cashier, or waitress gives us a special deal hinting that it’s on their own initiative? Do we insist on an honest payment out of loyalty to the owner, or are we quick to take the advantage and go away with a glowing report of the good deal we were given? Would we return to seek out that same waitress or cashier the next time we visited? Would they become our favourite? Our friend?

If the debt in the parable refers to sin, as in, ‘forgive us our debts’ – faithful stewards don’t have the authority to ‘mark-down’ the debt a fellow-believer has to God. Just telling someone, “Don’t worry, God loves you as you are. You don’t have to change, He’ll overlook your sin”, does not take away their debt! In fact, it can give them a false sense of security. Far better to direct them towards God, the one who can truly forgive them!

The Bill

Looking up the word ‘bill’, we were surprised to discover it was the word ‘gramma’ – the word used for ‘scripture’ in many places! Was this steward discounting the Scriptures to bring himself into favour with others? Is it even possible to do this? Some scriptural ‘echoes’ helped to make this analogy clear.

For we are not as many, which corrupt [‘peddle, adulterate, to do a thing for base gain’] the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

Or we read in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Discounting the Scriptures?

Now, if this parable was directed to the Pharisees, was there a way in which they were handling God’s Word deceitfully? Were they discounting the Scriptures in order to bring themselves into favour with others, with ‘fake generosity’ that wasn’t coming from God? We were reminded of the Corban law in Mark 7:6-13, where the Pharisees had found a way to get around God’s command to look after one’s father and mother. Jesus told them they were, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.”

The prophet Ezekiel told the people of his day, “with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.”

The Luke 16 parable is powerful, because we can all think of examples where we or others have discounted people’s debts to God, without truly having the authority to do so. If God has clearly spoken in His Word about right and wrong, whether in regards to belief or practice, we need to be careful to proclaim the same accurate message that He has given. It is God who has set the terms for salvation, not us. Ironically, God’s promise of forgiveness is full and complete to all who confess and forsake their sins and ASK for forgiveness. To change the Gospel message to make it more appealing in order to make ourselves seem more compassionate, or merciful, or generous, will actually defeat the gift that God has given. Sin that is not confessed cannot be forgiven. The Unjust Steward offered 50% forgiveness at the most, while God offers 100%!

Commended?

However, one of the most confusing parts of this parable is that the Unjust Steward is commended for his actions. Is this a true commendation from Jesus, or is it a sarcastic remark? Would Jesus truly encourage us to ‘make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness [“injustice, moral wrongfulness of character, life or act’]’? This doesn’t add up with the lessons he draws from this parable in verses 10-13. He says, “ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

‘Everlasting Habitations’

We looked carefully at what the Unjust Steward hoped to gain. What are the ‘everlasting habitations’ of those who act like this unjust steward? Everlasting means ‘perpetual, eternal, for ever’, which is no surprise. However, ‘habitations’ means ‘tent, tabernacle, a cloth hut’. This is an oxymoron! Tents are certainly not permanent dealing places, any more than being taken into the home of a worldly friend will last longer than this life. The only permanent dwelling place for those who choose not to obey God or seek His forgiveness – is in the grave! This is the ‘eternal home’ offered to an unrepentant unjust steward.

‘Wiser than the Children of Light’

But what about the statement Jesus made in verse 8, that, “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light”? Paul also drew lessons from godless people, for example, the athlete (1 Cor. 9:24-27), and the soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-6), but he wasn’t trying to encourage us to choose their occupations. Rather, the lesson is to follow their complete dedication and commitment in service to our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Unjust Steward may have enjoyed winning the favour of his Lord’s debtors, and he may have been rewarded for his unjust actions by the grateful customers who loved him for his fake generosity. However, the best they could give him was praise and comfort for this life. “Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Matthew 6:1-6

‘Faithful over a few things’

The lessons Jesus draws from this parable in verses 10 to 13, and the Pharisees negative reaction, support the idea that this parable is against dishonest management whether in financial matters, or the spiritual guidelines that God has entrusted to us. How we act in the small matters of life now, will determine whether or not God will assign us a position in His eternal kingdom in the life to come. In his spiritual house, Jesus and God are looking for those who love God’s righteousness, encouraging others to confess and forsake sin and receive full forgiveness (be completely debt-free!), while balancing this with mercy towards those who are truly repentant for what they have done – like the prodigal son. 

The words we want to hear from Jesus

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21 

Click this link for a poem on this subject, “When Mr. Goodman Went Away”

One of the questions dividing many churches and communities today, is how to faithfully handle the growing number of alternative lifestyle choices. Are these choices acceptable to God? Are they something new to the 20th century? As a Christian should we be warmly welcoming those who are openly making such choices? What does Jesus advise?

God’s Purpose 

In the beginning, God made a beautiful world. He didn’t make the world because He thought humans deserved such a world. We are told that He made the world for His purpose. God’s stated purpose is that one day the world will be full of people who bring glory to Him (Numbers 14:21; Revelation 22:12-17) Glory is brought to God when we acknowledge that His ways are right and are the best way for us to live.

God made a woman for Adam out of one of Adam’s ribs. God had just finished creating the whole world out of nothing, and could have easily created Eve from nothing – but he chose to create her in this special way, demonstrating the importance of the relationship between a man and woman. One of the intended purposes was procreation, and the first command was to ‘be fruitful and multiply’.  (Genesis 1:28) Sexuality wasn’t created just for our own pleasure, but to sustain God’s beautiful creation. Sexuality has a purpose.

The Fallen State

Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and brought a curse upon the ‘very good’ creation, all of us in this fallen state, have some weakness/tendencies that are against God’s commands. There are many different weaknesses, whether it be anger, proneness to addictions, kleptomania, selfishness, murderous tendencies, sexual desires outside of marriage, lying, etc. (Romans 5:12-21; Mark 7:21-23) God has given us ‘free will’, but if we want to live FOREVER, he asks us to overcome our weaknesses and seek to follow His way, not our own. God promises His help. His Word – the Bible is there to guide us. Through prayer He will strengthen us, and He sent His Son Jesus to die for us, so that if we confess and ask for forgiveness – He will forgive ANY sin. “He who OVERCOMES shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7)

Our Choices

All throughout history, sexual desires have often provoked the strongest temptations of varied sorts, and for some, homosexuality is one of those temptations. Human tendencies towards homosexuality and alternative lifestyles has been noted from very first book of the Bible – Genesis 19, and is clearly referred to several times throughout the Bible, never in a positive light. Homosexuality is not new. There are very clear Bible passages that show God’s view of homosexuality, listed among other harmful tendencies that can become rampant once society loses sight of God’s Divine wisdom and purpose for His creation. (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:21-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 22:12-16) 

For instance in 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, it says: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” The passage continues on to say that all these sins can be ‘washed away’ or forgiven, but urges us to ‘flee sexual immorality’ and “glorify God in your body.”

Celebrating Sin

Desiring another person’s spouse, engaging in sex before marriage, and several other sexual acts are also clearly stated to be wrong in God’s eyes, just as thieving, greediness, drunkeness and swindling, etc. are also condemned. However, being prone to weakness and temptation doesn’t mean we are rejected from God’s love, or none of us would have hope. But if we were to say, “I’m proud to be a greedy person. I can’t do anything about it – it’s just the way I am. Everyone has to applaud me for being greedy,” then, we are unlikely to confess our selfish actions as sin, and ask for God’s forgiveness. Without confession and repentance, there is no forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9; See also Luke 24:46-47; Psalm 32:1-5; Proverbs 28:13). There is a HUGE DIFFERENCE between struggling with a temptation, or choosing to proudly give oneself over to it.

Celebrating or Confessing?

Should Christians today warmly embrace those living alternative lifestyles? The answer to this depends on the attitude that is displayed. Christians who hold God’s Word as the authority for their lives, understand that we ALL need help, kindness, and HONEST direction from God’s Word and Holy Spirit to EMPOWER change…to OVERCOME.

However, when someone chooses to celebrate a weakness as something to be PROUD OF, and demands that others applaud their choice to openly embrace that tendency as something GOOD, those who love God’s Word, cannot faithfully give their approval. We know that this is God’s creation – not ours. He has a purpose with His creation. When Jesus returns to judge this world and become King of the Earth, we want to be on His side. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-11)

Do We Love Jesus?

Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21; 1 John 2:1-6) Many want to talk about Jesus loving us. However, how often in these discussions do we hear anyone ask whether or not WE LOVE JESUS? To love and keep Jesus and His Father’s commands, is the way we demonstrate our love for them.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:2-4)