Summary: Last month, a town hall meeting was held at my place of employment, and a minister opened the meeting with a story, which went something like this: A long time ago, a king traveling through his kingdom ...
Are You Living the Abundant Life?
Summary: Non-Christians tend to see Christianity as an utterly boring, rigid way of life. However, Jesus Christ Himself says He came to give His disciples abundant life (John 10:10). Richard Ritenbaugh reveals the big 'secret' in living the abundant life.
Ask God for the Little Things
Summary: In a conversation with a friend sometime back, we could not help but notice the difference in people in both the world and church over the last forty or fifty years. ...
Belief and the Firstfruits (Part Two)
Summary: In John 6:26-29, Jesus upbraids the 5,000 people who had followed Him because they had sought Him out for the wrong reason. Instead of desiring the truth He taught them, ...
Born Again or Begotten? (Part One)
Summary: Throughout its recent history, the "born again" or "begotten again" doctrine has time and again been a point of controversy in the church of God. Clearly an important principle, it is the subject of Jesus' first discourse in the book of John, a gospel made up of our Savior's expansions on vital, spiritual subjects. John Ritenbaugh explains that "born again" is entirely a spiritual matter, a fact that Nicodemus misunderstood and one that continues to elude many even today.
Born Again or Begotten? (Part Three)
Summary: The images that Jesus used to explain the spiritual birth of a Christian have confused many down through the centuries. John Ritenbaugh explains His use of "wind" and "Spirit," as well as the concepts of "Jerusalem above" and "firstborn" in relation to the born-again doctrine. The Bible consistently compares Christians to already-born and maturing children or adults.
Born Again or Begotten? (Part Two)
Summary: Jesus' born-again teaching has been prone to misunderstanding since Nicodemus first heard it from Christ's own lips almost two thousand years ago. John Ritenbaugh shows that we must understand His instruction entirely from a spiritual perspective. Interpreting Jesus' symbols physically obscures necessary truths about how God sees His children and how we see ourselves.
Breakfast by the Sea (Part One)
Summary: An incident in John 21 contains a powerful lesson that must be kept in mind when considering our part of our Father's business. The first half of John 21 contains a significant miracle, the eighth and last of the Messianic signs found in the book of John. The miracle--a great catch of fish--is a strong echo of the time when Jesus called these fishermen three and a half years before. ...
Called to Follow
Summary: If there is one great principle of Christian living, it is walking in Christ's footsteps. Sounds easy, but putting it into practice is one of the most difficult tasks of a Christian's life. ...
Summary: It is commonly thought—if not commonly taught—that obedience plays little part in New Testament Christianity. People are urged, “Believe in Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” ...
Freedom the Right Way
Summary: April 19, Tuesday of this week, marked the anniversary of three major events in American history. Not only is April 19 the day the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, but it was also ...
How Jesus Reacts to Sin
Summary: The episode in John 8 of the women caught in adultery offers a stark contrast between the scribes and Pharisees and Jesus Christ in terms of their reactions to sin.
Is God a False Minister?
Summary: John Ritenbaugh exposes the deplorable contraditions in the arguments of those who advocate doctrinal change. By their reasoning, they portray God as 'a confused and false minister who lacks the power to instruct his chosen leaders to 'get it right." But that is not the way the Bible portrays Him!
Is the Kingdom of God Within You?
Summary: Luke 17:21 has tripped up Protestants for centuries. Using the context and the meaning of the Greek, Richard Ritenbaugh explains that this verse's meaning is very plain!
Islands and Offenses
Summary: As much as we wish our church congregations could get along peacefully, Jesus tells us that, sadly, offenses must come (Luke 17:1). Comparing our congregations to islands, this article explains our Savior's instructions about dealing with offenses, enabling church members to feel united and secure on their "islands" amidst a sometimes tumultuous world.
Jesus and 'the Spirits in Prison'
Summary: Peter's statement that Jesus 'preached to the spirits in prison' (I Peter 3:19) has for years baffled many a Bible student. Richard Ritenbaugh examines this verse in context, showing that the traditional interpretation is woefully off-base to the point of suggesting a totally unbiblical conclusion.
Mercy: The Better Option
Summary: In our interactions with others, it is easy to fall into the traps of judgmentalism, gossip, and unforgiveness. John Reid explores a better, more Christian option: mercy. It is time for us to overcome our natural, carnal reactions and implement patience and forbearance in our relationships.
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)
Summary: The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man illustrates the resurrections from the dead and the Second Death. Martin Collins explains how knowing the time element hidden within the parable opens up the meaning of Christ's teaching.
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part Two)
Summary: Jesus' well-known parable preaches the gospel of the Kingdom of God by revealing salvation, the resurrection to eternal life, and inheritance of His Kingdom on the earth. Martin Collins explains how.
Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
Summary: In His discussion of the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, Jesus does not attribute tragedy or accident directly to any person's sins as the Jews did—instead, He affirms the sinfulness of everyone. The more important factor is will we repent to avoid spiritual death?
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins
Summary: It is common sense not to put new wine in old wineskins or a new cloth patch on an old shirt. However, most people miss the point Jesus is making: His new way of life is incompatible with our old habits and beliefs!
Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servants
Summary: Jesus teaches His disciples to be ready at all times for His return. We show how well prepared we are by the quality of our service to the brethren.
Parable of the Good Samaritan
Summary: Most people understand the basic point of this well-known parable. The whole story describes working compassion as contrasted to selfishness. It also clarifies just who is our neighbor.
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part One)
Summary: The Parable of the Good Shepherd is one of only a few parables in the gospel of John. Martin Collins explains that the apostle John emphasizes the sovereignty of Christ: He is the great and benevolent Ruler and Owner of His sheep.
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part Two)
Summary: In John 10, Jesus characterizes Himself as a "Good Shepherd" who loves and cares for His sheep. Martin Collins looks deeper into the personal relationship that exists between the Shepherd and His flock, which is shown in His kind and providential leadership of His church.
Parable of the Great Supper
Summary: The Parable of the Great Supper is Jesus' response to a fellow dinner guest exclaiming, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" In the parable, Jesus exposes and corrects the ignorance of those who, in their pride, misjudge their true moral condition.
Parable of the Light
Summary: One of Jesus' most remembered sayings concerns the Parable of the Light. The Bible Study explains how we can let our light shine both in the world and at home.
Parable of the Marriage Feast
Summary: Jesus exposes the Jews' rejection of the gospel using the illustration of a king sending invitations to a wedding celebration. Though God is shown to be merciful and just, the invitees' character is revealed to be wanting.
Parable of the Minas
Summary: Jesus gives the Parable of the Minas in reaction to the people thinking He would set up His Kingdom immediately—an event that still has not occurred. Martin Collins shows that the parable demonstrates what Jesus expects of and how He deals with His servants in the meantime.
Parable of the Persistent Friend
Summary: In this parable, Jesus illustrates persistence and perseverance in prayer. Unlike the sleeping friend, God is not reluctant to answer our prayers, but He does want us to be diligent and patient in our requests.
Parable of the Persistent Widow
Summary: Though the widow speaks only five words in this parable, she provides Christians in these last days with an example of persistence in prayer. Martin Collins delves into the context and meaning of this helpful and encouraging parable.
Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
Summary: The two men who go to the Temple to pray contrast in character, belief, and self-examination. Martin Collins shows that, although this parable involves prayer, it is not as much about how to pray as it is about how to be justified before God.
Parable of the Rich Fool
Summary: Jesus teaches in this parable that we need to guard against every kind of covetousness. Even if we have everything we could ever want or need, when we die, our goods will do nothing for us. It is the height of folly to believe that one has no need of God.
Parable of the Sower
Summary: God spreads His Word liberally among the world's people. Besides God's direct involvement in converting people, the difference between one growing in it and another "dying on the vine" is the soil in which the Word is planted, explained in Jesus' Parable of the Sower.
Parable of the Talents (Part One)
Summary: The Parable of the Talents continues Jesus' thought from the Parable of the Ten Virgins. While the first parable highlights preparation and watching for Christ's return, the second portrays Christians engaged in profitable activity in the meantime.
Parable of the Talents (Part Two)
Summary: The Parable of the Talents is often confused with the Parable of the Pounds. Martin Collins brings out their differences, showing that these parables illustrate Christian responsibilities from different angles.
Parable of the Ten Virgins (Part One)
Summary: Jesus gave the Parable of the Ten Virgins to encourage His disciples to be watchful and to make preparations for His return. In Part One, Martin Collins compares the two groups of virgins, applying the lessons to our situation at the end of the age.
Parable of the Ten Virgins (Part Two)
Summary: The Parable of the Ten Virgins is without doubt prophetic concerning the attitude of Christians at the end time. Martin Collins discusses the differences between the wise and foolish virgins, drawing out principles we can apply to our Christian walk.
Parable of the Treasure
Summary: Jesus' Parable of the Treasure in Matthew 6:19-21 is designed to get us to evaluate the relative values of material wealth and "treasures in heaven." Martin Collins expands on the metaphors of moths, rust, and thieves.
Parable of the Two Builders
Summary: What have we founded our lives upon? Jesus asks this question in a parable in His Sermon on the Mount. Having a strong, sturdy foundation will allow us to weather the storms of life and prevail.
Parable of the Two Debtors
Summary: Within this parable Christ shows the principle of reciprocity. Just as we have been forgiven a huge, unpayable debt, so must we extend forgiveness to those who owe us, showing that we appreciate what has been done for us.
Parable of the Two Sons
Summary: Because of their different attitudes, people react to God's calling differently. The Parable of the Two Sons explains that one's ultimate obedience to God is the one that really matters!
Parable of the Unjust Steward
Summary: The Parable of the Unjust Steward has bothered Bible students for many years. Is Christ saying that Christians are foolish? Are we make friends with greedy people? Are we doomed to fail? This Bible Study answers these frequent questions.
Parable of the Unprofitable Servants
Summary: In this Parable, Jesus emphasizes the kind of faith His disciples need to endure trials and obey His commands. Martin Collins explains that the only way for a Christian to obtain increased faith is to manifest steadfast, persevering obedience grounded in humility with the help of God's Spirit.
Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers
Summary: In this parable, Jesus manipulates His enemies into admitting their guilt in rejecting, persecuting, and even killing the prophets—and ultimately Himself. Martin Collins shows that Jesus uses this parable to proclaim God's plan to take His message to others, the church, who would accept it.
Parables and a Pearl
Summary: What is a parable? How are we to understand them? John Ritenbaugh uses the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price to explain how they apply to the church.
Parables of Counting the Cost
Summary: In Luke 14:25-33, two parables and an exhortation urge us to forsake all that we have as a mandatory condition to becoming Christ's disciples. One main lesson is emphasized in these scriptures: the nature and influence of true discipleship.
Parables of Luke 15 (Part One)
Summary: Jesus' discourse in Luke 15 is essentially one distinct parable with three illustrations. His intention is to reveal that, as the Son of Man, He came into the world to seek and save the lost. This study analyzes what is commonly known as the Parable of the Lost Sheep.
Parables of Luke 15 (Part Three)
Summary: Martin Collins concludes his series on the three illustrations that comprise one long parable in Luke 15. In this part, he explains what is known as the Parable of the Prodigal (or Lost) Son.
Parables of Luke 15 (Part Two)
Summary: In the Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10), concern over something lost and the joy at recovering it is the fundamental issue. Martin Collins explains that the illustration depicts God's diligence in "finding" those who are lost.
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Four): The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Summary: Most people, and even theologians, interpret the Parable of the Mustard Seed as an illustration of phenomenal growth of the church. Martin Collins shows, however, that the traditional interpretation is flawed, and that a comparison of biblical symbols points to a much darker explanation.
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part One): Introduction
Summary: Matthew 13 contains more parables than any other chapter in the Gospels. What many fail to realize is that they are related in theme and organized to teach Christians specific lessons. Martin Collins explains that they provide a prophetic summary of the development of the church.
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Three): The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
Summary: Bible students do not often consider Christ's parables to contain intrigue, but His Parable of the Wheat and the Tares has its share! Martin Collins explains this story of a sinister enemy sowing his agents among the saints.
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Two): The Parable of the Sower
Summary: The first parable of Matthew 13 lays the groundwork (pun intended) for the remainder of the chapter. Martin Collins explains the various soils upon which the seed of the gospel falls, and the reasons why growth—or its lack—results.
Parables of the Millstone and the Lost Sheep
Summary: These two parables are linked because they are the answers to the disciples' question, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus' answer explains the value He places on those who follow Him.
Summary: Most people do not do much oath-taking these days, except perhaps when called to serve or testify in a court of law. John Reid shows that the New Testament strictly forbids oaths of any kind, as our word should always be honest and trustworthy.
Take My Yoke Upon You
Summary: The Bible makes frequent use of the yoke as a symbol of work, servitude, and union, but we moderns are unfamiliar with yokes due to our non-agrarian lifestyles. Ronny Graham describes the various kinds of yokes—including human yokes—and shows how they are relevant to our Christian lives.
Taking Care With the Tares
Summary: Jesus' Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13 warns us that there will be false brethren within the church. Using the example of Christ Himself, Ted Bowling shows that the Bible also tells us how to interact with them in a godly manner.
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful
Summary: Mercy is a virtue that has gone out of vogue lately, though it is much admired. Jesus, however, places it among the most vital His followers should possess. John Ritenbaugh explains this often misunderstood beatitude.
The Beatitudes, Part 6: The Pure in Heart
Summary: Purity before God is far more than just being clean. John Ritenbaugh explains that to Jesus being pure in heart touches on the very holiness of God!
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Summary: This world lauds warmakers, but God says that peacemakers are blessed. John Ritenbaugh explains the beatitude in Matthew 5:9.
The Beatitudes, Part 8: Blessed Are the Persecuted
Summary: Persecution is not a subject we normally like to think about, but it is a fact of life for a Christian. John Ritenbaugh explains why Jesus says we are blessed if we are persecuted for righteousness' sake.
The Beatitudes, Part Four: Hungering and Thirsting After Righteousness
Summary: It is quite rare to see a person who truly hungers and thirsts after God's way, but this is the kind of desire God wants us to have. John Ritenbaugh explains what Jesus means in this fourth beatitude.
The Beatitudes, Part One: The Sermon on the Mount
Summary: The Sermon on the Mount is as vitally important to us today as it was when Christ preached it. It contains within it the very way we are to conduct our lives as God's representatives on this earth. How well are we following what Christ taught?
The Beatitudes, Part Three: Mourning
Summary: Blessedness and mourning seem contradictory to our way of thinking, but obviously Jesus saw spiritual benefits to sorrow. John Ritenbaugh shows why true, godly mourning gets such high marks from God.
The Beatitudes, Part Two: Poor in Spirit
Summary: What is it to be poor in spirit? John Ritenbaugh describes this attribute in its biblical usage. Those who are truly poor in spirit are on the road to true spiritual riches!
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Feeding the Five Thousand (Part Two)
Summary: The feeding of the five thousand—a miracle attested in all four gospels—tells us far more than the fact that Jesus was a marvelous miracle-worker. Martin Collins shows that it also reveals Christ's compassion on those who hunger, as well as His ability to teach vital lessons to His disciples—lessons we, too, can learn.
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: The Withering of a Fig Tree
Summary: Some Bible students scratch their heads over the incident, recorded in Matthew and Mark, in which Jesus curses a fig tree for not having any fruit, even though it was not yet the season for figs! Martin Collins explains this difficult passage, showing that Jesus used the situation to teach His disciples a lesson on hypocrisy.
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Eight): The Parable of the Dragnet
Summary: The penultimate parable of Matthew 13 uses the illustration with which Christ's disciples were very familiar: fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Martin Collins explains that this parable focuses on the equity of God's judgment.
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Five): The Parable of the Leaven
Summary: Most commentators see in the Parable of the Leaven a positive message of the growth of the church. Martin Collins, however, shows that they have it exactly backward—Jesus' parable is a warning of internal corruption!
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Nine): The Parable of the Householder
Summary: The last of the parables of Matthew 13, the Parable of the Householder is addressed directly to Christ's disciples, and beyond them, to God's ministers. Martin Collins reveals that Jesus wants His ministers to use their learning and experience to feed His flock a balanced spiritual diet.
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Seven): The Parable of the Pearl
Summary: Though it is hard to fathom, most commentators have incorrectly interpreted the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. As Martin Collins explains, the parable illustrates how far Jesus Christ has gone to redeem His church.
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Six): The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
Summary: While the Parable of the Hidden Treasure is similar to the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price, their meanings are different. Martin Collins dissects the symbols to reveal the high value God places on His people.
The Rich Young Ruler and the Needle's Eye
Summary: In the rich young ruler, we see a very polite, respectful, and eager young man who leaves Christ and goes away sorrowful. Why? Mike Ford explores this encounter, pondering the lessons God wants us to learn from it.
The Shepherd's Voice
Summary: God's people are often compared to sheep. Lately, however, some have begun to question whether they need a human shepherd. How does one know whether a minister is a true shepherd of God?
The Truth About Deception (Part One)
Summary: As part of Jesus Christ’s prophecy regarding “the sign of [His] coming, and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3), He gives a prediction and a warning that requires careful consideration. ...
The Voice of God
Summary: Would it not be wonderful to hear God's voice? Has anyone ever heard God's voice? Indeed, we should be hearing God's voice even now—and responding!
This Little Light of Mine
Summary: Many children in various churches sing a song called “This Little Light of Mine,” and those who sing it sing, “I’m going to let it shine.” Based on Matthew 5:16, it speaks about a light shining out into a dark world. ...
Summary: The primary principle of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is relatively easy to see. However, an interesting bit of information appears in it that some may have overlooked. ...
Summary: As He was finishing His Olivet Prophecy, Jesus charged His disciples, "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:37). It is an intriguing command because He does not specify in so many words what we are to watch. Pat Higgins argues that the evidence points to the fact that watching has everything to do with spiritual preparation.
What Does It Mean to Take Up the Cross?
Summary: Beyond the fact that our Savior Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross of some sort, He used its imagery to instruct His followers: He bids us to take us our cross and follow Him. David Grabbe analyzes what Jesus' command would have meant to those who heard Him, showing that our Savior is asking us to follow His example of sacrifice in our own Christian lives.
What Is Repentance? (Part One)
Summary: The gospel accounts show that God gave John the Baptist the responsibility to “prepare the way of the LORD, make His paths straight” (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4). When he preached the good news of God’s Kingdom ...
What Is the Passover Anyway?
Summary: To someone not familiar with the Bible's instructions regarding the keeping of Passover, this festival can seem strange and confusing. This article explains the basic points of the Passover, showing from Scripture what God commands and why.
What Is Your Talent?
Summary: Matthew 25:14-30 relates the Parable of the Talents. What are talents? Usually, we think about this word in terms of skills, abilities, or aptitudes. ...
Will Christ Find Faith?
Summary: It is easy to look around this world and become discouraged by how far from God so many people seem to be. Even chuch members can appear to be distracted by this world. To counter this pessimistic view, John Reid explains the Parable of the Persistent Widow, at the end of which Jesus asks, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" The answer is more positive than one may think!
Winners Never Quit
Summary: In my high school yearbook, quotes were placed under the pictures of each senior. I do not remember the quote that was under my name, but I do remember one of them. It was ...
Without Me, You Can Do Nothing (Part One)
Summary: The New Testament in Modern English, commonly known as the “Phillips Translation,” contains a salient rendering of John 15:1-8: "I am the real vine, my Father is the vine-dresser. ...
Without Me, You Can Do Nothing (Part Two)
Summary: John 15:4-5 in the Phillips translation gives us a great deal to consider: “You can produce nothing unless you go on growing in me. ...
Would Jesus Christ Vote? (Part One)
Summary: America's presidential primary season has brought voting in political elections to the fore once again. Because it is not directly mentioned in Scripture, people often ask if voting is biblically condoned. Martin Collins, beginning a short series of Bible Studies, re-asks the question in its most basic form for a true Christian: Would Jesus Vote?
You Shall Love Your Neighbor (Part Three)
Summary: Both God the Father and Jesus Christ have modeled how we are to love one another. After giving the pattern in the life of Jesus shown in the Gospels, we are instructed "to walk just as He walked. . . . He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him." ...
You Shall Love Your Neighbor (Part Two)
Summary: A well-known principle of Bible study is that repetition is among the best forms of emphasis. If God states something once, it is important, and if twice, ...