Acts 15

Acts 15: Circumcision; Yes or No?

                Certain men came down from Judea to teach that; “…Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1) Paul and Barnabas disagreed with the men and suggested they go to Jerusalem to speak with the other Apostles regarding the matter. Even though many in the church believed it was not necessary to be circumcised, a great number of Pharisees that had joined the church believed in the Law of Moses. The Apostles council in Jerusalem and after some time they decide and letters are sent to the churches of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, saying that circumcision is not necessary. However, the letter goes on to explain that only abstinence from idolatry, blood, things strangled and sexual immorality is necessary. Judas [surnamed Barnabas] and Silas [Chief men among the brethren] serve as missionaries in Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas make plans to visit all the churches they have established, but they quarrel about whether to take John Mark with them, so in the end, Barnabas and John Mark go to Cyprus, while Paul takes Silas with him to Syria and Cilicia. They went throughout the land “…confirming the churches.” (Acts 15:41)

Matthew 22

Matthew 22:

Worldly Marriages 

                Jesus spake unto those gathered and told them of the Parable of the King’s Son; Jesus explains that a king invited people to a wedding feast, but those invited did not come. So the man sends more servants to invite them to the wedding, instead of accepting the invitation they kill the messengers. When the king heard what had happened, he was upset and sent armies to kill them and burn their cities. The king then sends out a broad invitation to ALL GOOD AND BAD, essentially inviting everyone that wanted to come to his son’s wedding. Once the guests had arrived, the king noticed one of the guests was not wearing proper wedding garments, and has the man bound and thrown into outer darkness, where there is “…weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:13-14)

                What does this Parable mean? God was the King, and He was celebrating His son’s (Jesus Christ) wedding. God called many to come and celebrate, however the servants He sent (the prophets) were always rejected. Finally he invites all to come unto Christ, yet some still don’t come. Those who came and had their heart set towards Jesus were properly dressed. One man, however, just wanted to come and enjoy the feast without really having his heart set upon the things of God or His son, Jesus Christ. This man, just like anyone else who doesn’t have their heart set on the right things is in jeopardy of being sent to “outer darkness”. Thus we see why Jesus said; many are called but few are chosen. Everyone is called to repentance and do good, but only a handful will do the will of God, and therefore be chosen.

The Pharisees, like usual are trying to ensnare Jesus by asking Him difficult questions. They ask; “…What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17) Jesus knew that they were tempting Him and asks them why they are such hypocrites! Jesus responds; “Shew me the tribute money…Whose is this image and superscription?” (Matthew 22:19-20) The Pharisees responded with the obvious, that it is an image of Caesar. So Jesus responds to them with the simple, yet blunt; “…Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

                Shortly after responding to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, who did not believe in the Resurrection, came to also tempt Jesus with questions. They ask Jesus; “…Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.” (Matthew 22:24) They propose a hypothetical situation where all seven brothers end up marrying the same wife until they all die. Thus all seven brothers were with the same woman, making the woman a widow seven times over. They ask Jesus, if this were the case; “…whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her.” (Matthew 22:28) At this point Jesus was probably a little irritated after being berated by the Pharisees, so He responds; “…Ye do err, not knowing the scripture, nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) The Sadducees had done nothing, and yet had been in error simply because their beliefs were based on falsehoods. Jesus explains that there will be no marriage in the resurrection.

So will there or will there not be marriage in Heaven?

The Bible does not go into much detail about marriage in heaven. We do know that “…whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever…” (Ecclesiastes 3:14), therefore if Marriage is an institution before God of the binding of man and woman in Holy Matrimony; one would believe that marriage, Eternal Marriage, exists in Heaven.

James E. Talmage writes;

“In the resurrection there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; for all questions of marital status must be settled before that time, under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which holds the power to seal in marriage for both time and eternity.” (Jesus the Christ, p. 548.)

                LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

 “What then is the Master Teacher affirming by saying, ‘in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven’? He is not denying but limiting the prevailing concept that there will be marrying and giving in marriage in heaven. He is saying that as far as ‘they’ (the Sadducees) are concerned, that as far as ‘they’ (‘the children of this world’) are concerned, the family unit does not and will not continue in the resurrection. Because he does not choose to cast his pearls before swine, and because the point at issue is not marriage but resurrection anyway, Jesus does not here amplify his teaching to explain that there is marrying and giving of marriage in heaven only for those who live the fullness of gospel law -a requirement which excludes worldly people” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 1:605,606).

While this may seem like a difficult subject for man to understand, LDS Doctrine believes that Marriage will continue on, after this life. Will marriage be performed in the next life? It seems that this is not the case. Many LDS members and leaders believe that marriage must be taken care of in this life and will probably exist now through the Resurrection, but not after the Resurrection.

After the Sadducees were put to silence, the Pharisees gathered together to see how they might tempt Jesus. One of the lawyers asked Jesus; “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto is, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:36-39)

Matthew 19

Matthew 19:

Marriage/Judgment of the 12 

                  After Jesus had ended his speaking, He departed from Galilee and came to the coasts of Judea, where multitudes followed him and came to be healed of Jesus. The Pharisees quickly joined him to criticize and tempt Jesus by asking Him seemingly difficult questions; “…Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matthew 19:3) Jesus responded to their criticism; “…Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-6) Jesus makes it clear that marriage is not only a sacred communion, but also something done between man and woman. The Pharisees then asked Jesus why Moses was able to grant writings of divorcement. Jesus explains that because of the hardness of people’s hearts it had to be done. But He made it clear that this was not mean to be, and for anyone divorcing for anything other than adultery, will cause both to commit adultery

After Jesus had spoken these words, some little children were not permitted to come unto Jesus, of course after just speaking to the Apostles about little children in Matthew 18, Jesus said; “…Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) After Jesus had blessed the little children, a man came unto Jesus asking him what he should do to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The man explained to Jesus that he had followed all the commandments. Jesus tells the man to sell all his possessions, give them to the needy and then follow Him. The man went away in sadness, because he had great riches. Jesus then explains to His disciples that it is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

So here is the important question: Does having money, or being rich, make you bad? Can you still enter into the kingdom of heaven with riches? Money, in of itself is not a bad thing. There are plenty of wealthy individuals throughout the world that do MUCH good. However, if one were to focus on nothing but money, being obsessed with it, then it is bad. So can a rich man enter into heaven? YES. Can he enter with his riches? NO. Therefore it is important to gain not only earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures that you can take with you into the next life.

Jesus ends his address in this chapter by telling the Twelve Apostles with Him, that they will become judges in the last days and that for anything a disciple of Christ loses in this life, it will be given; “…an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” (Matthew 19:29-30) If we work to do good in this life, and we have to give up or lose things in this life, Jesus has given us a promise that we will receive it back in heaven 100 times.

Matthew 16

Matthew 16:

Peter Recieves the Keys

                The Pharisees and the Sadducees came again tempting Jesus, by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. Jesus responds to them; “…When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is lowring [gloomy], O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2-3) Jesus pointed out that smart men can discern the weather, and even know the scriptures. But if they don’t recognize that Jesus is the Son of God, then they are foolish. Jesus reminds them that; “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it…” (Matthew 16:4)

The disciples meet up with Jesus, and He warns them; “…Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6) Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees become confused of what Jesus had said, and go as far as to ask Jesus if it was because they had not partaken of any bread.

Jesus tells them; “Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand (see Matthew 14:17-21)… Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand (see Matthew 15:34-38), and how many baskets ye took up?” (Matthew 16:9-10) Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees failed to see that Jesus was referring to their doctrines and not about bread.

Jesus came to the coasts of Caesarea Philippi and asks His disciples; “…Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? …Some say that thou art John the Baptist: Some Elias; and others Jeremias… He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? …Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)

This answered please Jesus and he tells Simon; “…Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) Seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing!

Jesus then blesses Peter; “…thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shalt be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

                Matthew 16:18-19 is one of the scriptures that the Catholic Church will use to claim their power and authority. Jesus did build His church upon a Rock, which the gates of Hell would never prevail against. But what is the Rock? The Catholics claim that the Rock is Peter, but is it Peter? No, Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone (head of the Church) and upon the Rock of REVELATION will the church prevail. Christ is also mentioned as the “Stone of Israel”.

Jesus then tells His Apostles that He would be: betrayed, killed and be resurrected again on the third day. Peter was shocked by what Jesus said and tells Him; “…Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matthew 16:22) Jesus finds Peters lack of faith in His words to be troubling; “…Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me…” (Matthew 16:23) Jesus reminds them to continue the work after He is gone. Those who lose their life in the work will only find their life. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27)

                We need to not only believe in Jesus Christ, but also do good works in His name.

Matthew 12

Matthew 12:

The Lord of the Sabbath 

Jesus goes through a cornfield on the Sabbath, He and His Apostles pluck ears of corn to eat. However when the Pharisees see this, they try to find Jesus in contempt of the Sabbath. Jesus tells them otherwise; “…Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat of the showbread…” (Matthew 12:3-4) Jesus tells them “…the Son of man is Lord even on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8) Essentially Jesus is telling them that when work has to be done or when someone is hungry, the rules of the Sabbath and keeping it Holy does not apply.

Jesus leaves the field and enters into the synagogue, there a man asks him; “…Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? … And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold of it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days?” (Matthew 12:10-12) The man in the synagogue wanted to catch Jesus in a trap and try to accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath. However, Jesus makes it very clear that we are not to follow the old law (Law of Moses), where one would have to count steps on the Sabbath day. Jesus makes it very clear that we need to do good on the Sabbath. What good should we do? This is where we need to look at each situation on a case-by-case account. For example, someone is sick and you are out of medicine; In general is it acceptable to go to the store on a Sunday? No. However if someone is sick and no medicine is to be found, going to the store and “breaking” the Sabbath would be appropriate in order to follow the general law of “doing good” on the Sabbath.

The Pharisees continue to persecute Jesus and even hold a counsel on how they plan to destroy Him. Jesus hears this and departs; from here, someone who is possessed by an evil spirit comes across His path. Jesus heals him and makes the blind to see and the dumb to speak. People stand in awe and ask how this is possible. The Pharisees jump into to criticize Jesus; “…This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” (Matthew 12:24), essentially the Pharisees are saying that Jesus is not the Son of God, but a devil himself and by the power of the devil He is casting out devils. Doesn’t sound logical, right? Well Jesus knew their thoughts and their intentions of catching him in another trap to accuse him of doing wrong. Jesus tells them; “…Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? …But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” (Matthew 12:25-28)

                Jesus continues to tell the Pharisees that He could not be casting out devils by the Spirit of the Devil, but only by the Spirit of God. He tells those gathered; “He that is not with me is against me… Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” (Matthew 12:30-31)

                Jesus tells them that by speaking ill of the Son of Man and denying the Holy Ghost by not recognizing His power and authority they are in jeopardy of their salvation. He reminds them that good men seek good treasures and evil men, seek evil treasures. He tells them “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36) Jesus is essentially telling them that they will be judged according to their works and their words. Our actions and words are recorded in heaven and will be put into account in the Day of Judgment.

The Pharisees continue to persecute Jesus and ask Him for a sign, Jesus reminds us that we should not ask for signs, but instead ask for the Spirit of God to be with us. Jesus tells us that “…An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it…” (Matthew 12:39), therefore we should not seek after signs to prove what we already know to be true through the Holy Ghost. Those who seek signs have denied the Holy Ghost and are in serious jeopardy of not being forgiven. Remember that all we do, good and evil are recorded in heaven for the Day of Judgment. So we need to focus on doing good and following God always.

Matthew 9

Matthew 9:

Jesus Forgives Sins

In this chapter, in a way that only Jesus could, shoots down those who criticize him.

Jesus is lead to a man who is sick on a bed, afflicted with Palsy. He tells them afflicted man; “…Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Matthew 9:2) Some of the scribes that overhead this, said to themselves that Jesus blasphemeth, by telling a man his sins were forgiven. Jesus, knowing their thoughts asks them men; “…Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins…” (Matthew 9:4-6) Jesus then turns to the afflicted man and tells him to; “…Arise, take up thy bed ad go unto thine house.” (Matthew 9:7) Jesus put the scribes in their place.

Jesus passed by the tax office and saw Matthew sitting outside, he tells Matthew to follow him, and Matthew agrees. Later Jesus joins publicans and sinners for a meal. The Pharisees, trying to capture Jesus in some sort of scandal, asks Him; “…Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11) Jesus responds again in a way that shoots them down and puts them in their place; “…They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick…. For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:12-13)

While speaking to these men, a ruler came to Jesus and begged him to come and bless his daughter, who had just passed away. Jesus agrees and goes into see the young lady. While he is traveling to see the young lady, an old woman, who was stricken with a blood disease, touches the hem of Jesus’s garment. The lady, having so much faith said to herself; “…If I but may touch his garment, I shall be whole.” (Matthew 9:21) Jesus having felt her touch, turns (in a crowded area) and told the lady; “…Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made me whole…” (Matthew 9:22)

When Jesus arrived at the young lady’s house he tells them men there, that she is not dead, but sleeping. The men laugh at Jesus, but Jesus took her by her hand and caused that she would arise from her sleep.

After leaving the house of the young lady, two blind men approach Jesus and ask to be healed. Jesus asks them, testing their faith; “…Believe ye that I am able to do this? And they said unto him, Yea, Lord.” (Matthew 9:28) Jesus then touched their eyes and they were healed, having the ability to now see. They were very grateful, and the Lord swore them to secrecy. However, they spread the word of this miracle throughout the land. The fame of Jesus was spreading throughout the land, and his criticism spread as well.