Have you ever thought about the Father’s love for us? I hope all fathers had a wonderful Father’s Day. Father’s Day is the time to celebrate and appreciate fathers. I am grateful for a mother’s love but when fathers express their love for their children it is something very special to behold. The same is true about our Heavenly Father. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, an amazing thing happened:
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. (Matthew 3:16 NLT)
The Heavenly Father expressed His love for His Son by opening the heavens and anointing His Son with His Spirit. It was similar to a father opening his treasure chest and giving his son the most valuable treasure that He had. However, God did not stop there. God ensured that there was no misunderstanding concerning what John the Baptist witnessed. God followed up His actions with a declaration:
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17 NLT)
It was as though God was saying:
I have given My Son the best. I have given My Son of Myself. This is how much I love my Son. This is how much I am pleased with my Son.
When God fills us with His Holy Spirit, He is expressing His great love for us through His Son Jesus Christ. When God speaks about us in His Word He is declaring His great love for us:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)
Let us always remember the Father’s love for us!
Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19 NLT)
The key that we will use to unlock understanding of this parable is:
The Bible is One Book
This means we must ask this question:
Is there something which was recorded in another part of the Bible that can help us understand this parable?
When we examine the Book of Daniel we see a similar parable. This parable was revealed through a dream God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Here is the first part of the dream:
“‘While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree. (Daniel 4:10-12 NLT)
Here is Daniel’s interpretation:
That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth. (Daniel 4:22 NLT)
Nebuchadnezzar saw birds nesting in the branches of that tree. Daniel said that meant that Nebuchadnezzar’s rule reached “to the ends of the earth”. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar’s power and authority had spread so far throughout the entire world that everyone in the world had to live under his power and authority.
Jesus referred to birds making nests in the branches of the mustard tree. When we use Daniel’s interpretation to interpret Jesus’ parable we discover that:
The Kingdom of God will become so great and spread so far that it will rule the entire earth and every living person will have to live under its authority.
This interpretation is confirmed by several scriptures:
For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'” (Romans 14:11 NLT)
By Myself I have sworn; truth has gone out from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess allegiance. (Isaiah 45:23 NLT)
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NLT)
The Kingdom of Babylon had become so powerful that all nations and tongues had to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and serve him. Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God will become so great that all nations and tongues will have to bow down and serve God. When we view the Bible as One Book we start to see connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The first key to understanding the Bible is accepting that the Bible is one Book. The Bible is one Book divided into two main sections:
- The Old Testament
- The New Testament
Many people hear the word ‘new’ and automatically reject the ‘old’. However, Jesus never rejected the Old Testament. The Apostles never rejected the Old Testament. In fact, the writings of the Old Testament were the only writings they used. Jesus referred to the writings of the Old Testament when He preached and taught:
For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:40 NLT)
“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ (Matthew 19:4 NLT)
Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. (Luke 17:32-33 NLT)
The Apostles referred to the writings of the Old Testament when they preached and taught:
These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: (Acts 2:15-16 NLT)
And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. (2 Peter 2:5 NLT)
Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. (Romans 3:9-11 NLT)
The Old Testament contains information which can help us understand the New Testament. The New Testament contains information which can help us understand the Old Testament. When we sit down to study any Book of the Bible we must keep in mind that the Bible is one Book. It is one Book inspired by One God. I will discuss this in more detail in the next post God willing.
For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 NLT)
Any door can be unlocked if you have the right key. We need the right keys to unlock the door to Biblical Understanding. The right keys are those which are given by God. God inspired men to write the words contained in the Bible. The Apostle Peter said:
Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT)
Many people who study the Bible build their own door and create their own keys to biblical understanding. They then call people to follow them through that door they have created and they teach people to use those keys they have created. God wants us to go through His door to Biblical Understanding. God wants us to use His keys to unlock His door.
I believe we are living in a time when all believers must strive to be “One”. We must be one in faith, love and hope. We must be one in doctrine. Jesus wanted His disciples to follow Him. Jesus did not mean to only physically follow Him. If that is what Jesus meant then the Apostles would be justified in following their own interests after Jesus died. One day Peter and some of the other disciples went fishing. However, the resurrected Jesus found them, helped them and called them to follow Him. Jesus told Peter:
“Feed my Sheep”
Jesus fed Peter and the other disciples with fish and bread. Now Jesus commanded Peter to feed His disciples. In the same way Jesus provided the fish and bread, Jesus provided the food for Peter to feed His disciples:
…go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. (Matthew 28:19-20 NLT)
“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:12-13 NLT)
Peter fed the believers with “all the commands” of Jesus through the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit showed Peter what to preach and teach and Peter obeyed. The Apostles did the same. When 3000 souls were added to the Church on the day of Pentecost the Bible records that the believers:
…devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching… (Acts 2:42 NLT)
The believers devoted themselves to doing what the Apostles taught. They followed the Apostle’s understanding of the Scriptures. They went through the same door to Biblical Understanding that the Apostles went through. They used the same keys to Biblical Understanding that the Apostles used. We must do the same. God wants us to understand the Bible but we must go through His door and use His keys.
…This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.
I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 3:15-18 NLT)