* Today's Opening News Briefs: Bob Enyart first reports briefly on UFOs, the Baltimore murders, and the suddenly improved treatment of women. The massive decrease just reported in UFO sightings provides a partial confirmation of rsr.org/predictions#ufos. Bob also presents the reasons for the record high murder rate in the relatively small city (not even in the top 25 U.S.) of Baltimore, of 343 killings in 2017. Also, Bob celebrates the greatest moral movement of the last 30 years, the improved treatment of women thanks to Harvey Weinstein and the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal. But Bob then laments that Christian and conservative leaders are trying to undermine this vitally important social upheaval because of their partisan political commitments (fearing who this desperately-needed upheaval may tarnish).
* A Funny Slick-&-Duffy Cross-Examination Moment: Bob airs the funniest moment from the entire two-day Calvinist vs. Open Theism event, between Matt Slick and Will Duffy, when Slick asked about Jesus speaking in parables so that people would not understand.
* The "Code Talk" in Parables Fulfilled a Short Term Purpose: Bob gives four observations that he and Will Duffy have made about these passages, as he also presented on December 31, 2017 in one of the Sunday Sermons at Denver Bible Church (which are available by subscription).
1. Jesus put the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower right into the Bible itself (Mat. 13:18-23), which shows that long-term, He had absolutely no hesitancy regarding anyone, believer or not, having access to his explicit and plain meaning.
2: Calvinism would be disproved if Jesus had to speak in code (in parables) to make sure that those who were not chosen could not believe. (This would falsify their doctrines of total depravity and election.)
3. Jesus did not always speak in parables and was often explicitly clear when talking about salvation. See for example John 3:16; 8:23-24; 14:1, 6; and Jesus widely preached the gospel as in Mat. 4:23; 9:35; 11:5; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:18; 7:22; 20:1; as did His disciples Luke 9:6; Mark 16:16; Mat. 24:14; and many explicit Bible passages have been read by millions of those who never turned to the Lord such as Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9; etc.
4. Beyond the "code talk" parables, Jesus held back on many truths to prevent a premature conflict with Rome and Jerusalem (that is, with Pilate and Caiaphas). He did not want them to band together in a public attempt to thwart His purpose in going to the cross. Thus at one point, Jesus went up to Jerusalem secretly (John 7:10). Later, He declined to tell the priests where He got His authority from (Luke 20:8). And He forbade demons (Luke 4:41) and even His own disciples (Mat. 16:20) from telling others His identity. He instructed many whom He healed to keep it to themselves (Mat. 8:4; 12:16, Mark 1:44, 5:43; 7:36; 9:9, Luke 5:14; 8:56). And the Lord even commanded the Twelve to tell no one that He would be crucified and raised (Mark 8:30-31; Luke 9:21-22; and see more on this below).
* The Open Theism Story Arc of the Gospels: Jesus took many precautions to thwart His opposition from publicly ganging up against Him. This story arc in the Gospels is intelligible only to open theists. For if Jesus had widely taught that He was the King of the Jews who had come to be crucified, easily then the Jewish and Gentile leaders could have conspired to thwart that plan. God arranged Egyptian protection for Abraham's descendants so that over centuries they could grow into a mighty nation without Him having to constantly supernaturally intervene to prevent annihilation by their enemies. Likewise, He sent Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus to Egypt (Mat. 2:15; Hos. 11:1). Similarly, the Lord preferred to outwit His opposition rather than to enable them to force His hand into performing public miracles against the powers that be. Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate could have conspired to arrest Jesus and exile Him to Patmos, or to send Him bound to Rome, or to just keep Him in prison, or even to just ignore Him, rather than to play into any crucifixion prophecy. So, brilliantly, Jesus walked a narrow road reaching the masses with His message but being coy enough so that His opposition would be confused and thwarted. He maintained this double-edged tactic until the last few days of His last week before the cross. Then He began to provoke the high priest severely. In Bethany, just two miles from Jerusalem, He publicly raised Lazarus from the dead. Then He took authority over the Temple itself by whipping the very merchants who were making a lot of money for Caiaphas, the high priest, and Annas, his father-in-law. Now with this direct provocation (righteous, though it was) Jesus knew that they could no longer restrain themselves.
* Jesus: "Believe in the Crucifixion and Resurrection and You will be Saved": Not. Rather than preach as His main message of salvation His coming death and resurrection, instead, Jesus commanded His apostles to NOT share that information and publicly He only made veiled references to His coming death. While the first ten chapters of Bob's book, The Plot, provide a vital foundation for better understanding chapter 11, here's an extended excerpt from that final chapter titled Things that Differ...
While preaching the Gospel for three years, Jesus censored any public mention of His resurrection. Wow, that's different. Still, at that time, God saved some.
Contrariwise, according to Paul:
"if you... believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Rom. 10:9)
No longer can an evangelist omit the resurrection, for it forms the heart of today's Gospel. To accurately proclaim the Gospel requires mention of the risen Lord. Now, the resurrection is indispensable to the Gospel message.
Yet during Christ's three years of public ministry "Jesus went about... preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Mat. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14-15) never openly mentioning that God would raise Him from the dead. Some may suppose that Jesus spoke often to the people of His coming death and resurrection, but in reality, He never once publicly discussed these things. Privately, He told His disciples of His resurrection (Mat. 16:21; 17:23; Mark 8:31; 9:30-32; Luke 9:22; 18:31-33) but He "commanded them to tell this to no one..." (Luke 9:21). But how could Jesus preach the Gospel without mentioning the resurrection?
Some might think He could not mention the resurrection because it was yet future. However, He occasionally did prophesy of His resurrection privately to His apostles; He could have done likewise to the masses. Also, God saved Abraham when he "believed God" (Rom. 4:3) that something would occur in the future. The LORD promised Abraham descendants as the stars of heaven (Gen. 15:5). Then Abraham believed what would happen in the future and "it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:3; Gen. 15:6; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23). Jesus publicly could have preached of His coming resurrection and He could have said, "Believe that God will raise me from the dead and you will be saved; it will be accounted to you for righteousness." However, He said no such thing. Yet He preached "the gospel" widely, withholding reference to the resurrection.
Jesus once publicly made a symbolic reference to His resurrection saying "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The Jews thought He was referring to Herod's temple which took "forty-six years to build" (John 2:20). Despite their confusion Jesus gave no clarification (John 2:20-22). Also, Christ vaguely mentioned His resurrection when He said, "I lay down My life that I may take it again" (John 10:17). But there, too, He spoke to men who "did not understand the things which He spoke to them" (John 10:6), and "there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings" (John 10:19). Recall that the high priest told Pilate that Jesus "said He would rise again" (Mat. 27:63). Since Jesus only predicted His resurrection privately to His disciples, it follows that the traitor Judas divulged this information. Conveniently, this leak assured that a guard would be posted at Christ's tomb. Thus, Judas' insubordination backfired when the testimony of the guards placed at the tomb provided additional evidence for the resurrection.
As for the Twelve, they did not even believe in the resurrection until after the event. Yet, they too, had previously preached "the gospel." They resisted Christ when He told them what would happen. During Christ's three-year ministry, the Twelve themselves did not trust in Christ's coming resurrection:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that He must... be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you!" Mat. 16:21-22
"...after He is killed, He will rise the third day." But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him. Mark 9:31-32
"...the Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men." But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying. Luke 9:44-45
"And the third day He will rise again." But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken. Luke 18:33-34 See also Mark 16:11-14 and John 20:25.
Regardless of their own understanding concerning His future resurrection, the Lord forbade them from telling anyone else.
And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, "The Son of Man must... be killed and be raised the third day." Luke 9:21-22
Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him. And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must... be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:30-31
Thus, rather than the Twelve preaching Christ's future resurrection, they preached "the Gospel of the Kingdom" [Mat. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14] including repentance, keeping the law, and baptism. So, while Christ sent the Twelve out "preaching the gospel" (Luke 9:1-2, 6; 8:1; Mat. 10:1, 5-7) he censored them, commanding them to tell "no one" about His resurrection. If they were not telling people about the coming resurrection when the Lord sent them out "preaching the gospel" (Luke 9:1-6; [10:1-17]; Mat. 10:1-7; Mark 6:7-12), then what Gospel were they preaching?
By example Jesus taught Peter, James, and John to preach the Gospel of the Circumcision (Gal. 2:7-9; [Acts 7:8]), the same Gospel preached by Abraham and his progeny, including Moses, Ezekiel, and John the Baptist. Jews heard from the Twelve the message to repent, be baptized, and keep the law, for the kingdom is near (Acts 2:38; 3:19-23; 10:35; 21:20; James 2:14, 17, 20-21, 24-26; [Mark 1:4-5]). The nation heard this not only from the Twelve and from the Seventy [Luke 10:1], but also from the One who sent out those emissaries, Jesus Christ Himself (Mat. 5:19; 23:2-3, 23; 28:19-20; 5:7; 6:14-15; 7:21; 19:16-19; 24:13; 25:30, 45-46; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 9:62; John 3:22; 4:1-2).
As if censoring the resurrection were not enough, Christ even hid the identity of the Messiah from His hearers.
Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. Mat. 16:20 (See also Mat. 16:17.)
And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of God!" And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. Luke 4:41
While He forbade demons from blurting out His true identity, Jesus commended Peter in front of the apostles for saying, "You are the Christ" (Mat. 16:13-17; [Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20; John 6:69]). And He accepted Martha's acknowledgment (John 11:27). But when the public interrogated Him on His identity (John 10:24), Jesus did not answer forthrightly (John 10:25). He even allowed them to remain in ignorance concerning the place of His birth (John 7:40-43), which information would have helped them verify His qualifications as the Messiah (Micah 5:2). He only hesitantly responded to the direct question of the chief priests (Luke 22:66-70; Mark 14:60-62; Mat. 26:63-64). Yet, after inquiring as to whether Pilate acted as a pawn of those priests (John18:33-35), Jesus readily admitted the truth to Pilate (John18:36-37; Mat. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3).
Early on, Andrew (John 1:41) and some of the Samaritans (John 4:42) identified Him as "the Christ." However, according to the Bible record, at that time God made neither the resurrection nor Jesus' identity essential components of the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
His Spirit-led comments at Christ's baptism notwithstanding, even the message of John the Baptist revolved around neither the resurrection nor Christ's identity. His question at the conclusion of his public ministry, though tendered during a time of grave difficulty, made this clear:
And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?" Mat. 11:2-3
No benefit derives from embellishing John's theological message. He stuck to his message of repentance. For Paul encountered "some disciples" (Acts 19:1) in Ephesus and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit.
And they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." Acts 19:2-3
Paul then explained to them:
"John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him..." Acts 19:4
And Paul explained:
"that is, on Christ Jesus." Acts 19:4
So John the Baptist did not even baptize in Jesus' name. For:
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:5
These disciples in Ephesus had been evangelized only "into John's baptism" so Paul water "baptized [them] in the name of the Lord Jesus" (consistent with their own circumcision house rules, as described below in the Baptism section). Thus, John the Baptist did not baptize "in the name of the Lord Jesus." Rather, he strictly "baptized with a baptism of repentance" (Acts 19:4) in keeping with the law, preparing the way for the coming King "for the kingdom of heaven [was] at hand" (Mat. 3:2). When Christ went to John, God inspired the Baptist to call Jesus "the Son of God" (John 1:34). However, John did not know the identity of Jesus prior to that point (John 1:31) nor did he afterward focus on that knowledge [Mat. 11:2-3; Acts 19:5] but allowed it to lapse.
John's evangelism mirrored that of Jesus, ignoring Christ's identity and coming resurrection. Yet, like the Twelve when they preached the Gospel during those first three years, he urged men to believe in Israel's God, to repent, be baptized, and keep the law, for the kingdom was near (Mat. 3:2; Acts 13:24).
Many Christians take Paul's Gospel, which requires men to confess Christ and believe in His resurrection (Rom. 10:9-10), and anachronistically shove it backward in time.
These observations challenge those who misunderstand the Bible's plot. However, students of the Word who first gain an overview quickly recognize that the Lord and the Twelve preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Circumcision while Paul preached the Gospel of the Uncircumcision to the Body. The honest student cannot find the fundamental elements of Paul's Gospel being preached in the four Gospels. Further, two days prior to His death, Jesus predicted that the Gospel of the Kingdom would continue to be preached (by the Twelve and their converts) well after His resurrection:
"...he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Mat. 24:13-14
From these details students may understand the difference in the content of the messages preached in the book of Acts. Along with faith, the Twelve emphasized the law and works, while Paul argued against these. Once word got out about Christ's resurrection and His Messiahship, of course then the Twelve incorporated those foundational truths into their Gospel of the Circumcision. Paul's Gospel of the Uncircumcision, though, could never have been preached without reference to Christ's resurrection, which is central and prerequisite to that Gospel.
God used progressive revelation in the Bible occasionally adding or taking away something from the existing dispensation while leaving other aspects intact. So with the developments from the Passion to Pentecost, God led the Twelve to incorporate the resurrection into their message, and because of the crucifixion, their converts stopped offering atoning animal sacrifices. Except for these changes, however, their Gospel of the Circumcision continued mostly unaltered.
But Christ literally hid the truth of His resurrection from the people while first preaching to them the Gospel of the Kingdom. So, on earth Christ emphasized the law, repentance, good works, baptism, and the kingdom while omitting references to grace and the resurrection.
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