Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

Is God just…? © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:11 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 5

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. 

DAVID: Psalm 9:11 (NLT) says, “Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about His unforgettable deeds.”  

SKEPTIC: Unforgettable alright. You pray and He annihilates your enemies.

DAVID: I pray to God who will not forget the cry of those who my enemies have annihilated. God alone knows the details of the crimes of my enemies and He is just. 

In the meantime I will encourage the oppressed to sing songs of praises to God who has not forgotten them.

SKEPTIC: So you declare the destruction of people you call your enemies as a good thing? You even sing songs about it.

DAVID: I declare the salvation of the Lord for those who believe in Him. I declare that God does not forget those who are oppressed. 

My enemies are not merely objects of God’s annihilation, but I call all people to share in the blessing of knowing God personally, and I celebrate both God’s love and His justice. My Psalm says in verses 12-13 “For He who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer. Lord, have mercy on me. See how my enemies torment me. Snatch me back from the jaws of death.”   

SKEPTIC: That’s exactly what I am talking about. You say God is your Avenger.

DAVID: Are you really criticising me for asking God to deliver me from persecution and death? 

SKEPTIC: No, but I am saying God is like an assassin that you have personally hired to do your work.

DAVID: How God avenges the murder of my people by ruthless and evil people, is best left to Him. I am asking for God’s mercy on me. He alone is just and fair. 

I do not deserve God’s mercy, but by grace, He has given it to me as a gift. Should I remain alive, it will only give me more incentive to declare God’s grace and mercy and salvation to those who trust in Him. That’s why I prayed in verse 14 “Save me so I can praise You publicly at Jerusalem’s gates, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.” 

PASTOR ROSS: This is still the basis of the gospel cry, “Save me, Lord, not because I deserve it but because of Your grace.” 

The Bible says all have sinned and deserve to pay the price of spiritual separation from God, but Jesus died a cruel death on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sin. He is the only One who came to save us. He offers us the free gift of Eternal Life to those who will accept it. 

God says in Isaiah 43:11-12 (NLT), “I, yes I, am the Lord, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord.”

To be continued… Read Part 6

Pastor Ross

SPECIAL GUEST AT THE EASTER SERVICE, SHALOM CENTRE, SYDNEY

Man in the Shadows © Ross Cochrane using Paint.netWe have a special guest with us today and I will tell you a little bit about Him before I introduce you to Him personally. We are honoured to have Him with us.

He is a remarkable young man who had quite a year last year since our last Easter Service. It’s been an astonishingly turbulent year, but if anyone knows about the message of Easter, he does.

This young man has done a lot of world travel in the last year and has witnessed some amazing events all around the globe.

Do you remember Flight MH-370 that got lost and was never found? This young man happened to be in Malaysia Airport in March, seeing off some of His family members on flight MH-370 that day in Kuala Lumpur. He was one of the last to see that plane ease into the skies before it went missing. The world’s biggest aviation mystery.

We try to make sense of what happened. As the search efforts proved futile and the hopes of the families of the crew and passengers began to fade, he spoke to Danica Weeks, whose husband was on flight MH-370: She asked Him “How can life go on without him? How do you tell a small boy, who last waved his daddy off on a plane to go to work, that daddy will never come home again? …”

Our guest today was there, giving hope, when relatives were trying to make sense of the lost flight of MH-370. He cried with them and comforted them in their grief and He brought God’s grace.

In fact if anyone knows about the true meaning of Easter he does.

His secret to success is His love for people which I have personally had the opportunity to experience over the last year and He has always generously given me His time.

A MESSAGE OF GRACE

I had the privilege of interviewing our honourable guest before the service and He told me that Australians have been searching this year for answers. We have searched for love and life and hope and we have searched for God’s grace even in the midst of tough circumstances.

Australians have definitely had to explore some eternal issues and spiritual issues, issues of life and death in the last year.

As we spoke I realised that He is extremely well connected. We got to talking about famous people who died last year, … the people who have inspired us.

It turns out that he knew Malcolm Fraser personally. He spoke at the funeral of Gough Whitlam, who died at the age of 98 in October. He has sung with Joe Cocker with his raspy voice “You are so Beautiful”. He knew Rod Taylor the actor and encouraged Colleen McCullough with her creative skills to write “The Thorn Birds.” He played alongside Leonard Nimoy in the original “Star Trek” TV series. He knew Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall and laughed, sometimes, with Joan Rivers and Robin Williams who all died last year. Absolutely incredible. But His powerful spiritual connection and service is even more incredible.

After Robin Williams died He was saying that He noticed that people were searching for answers to dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. He was instrumental in giving many people the help they needed.

It seems more than co-incidental that this our guest this morning happened to be at the match and witnessed the tragic death of cricketer Phillip Hughes, who was killed when he was struck by a bouncer at the SCG. He helped Michael Clarke write his eulogy when he said “We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on. So rest in peace my little brother. I’ll see you out in the middle.” He spoke at the funeral and sought once again to bring God’s grace.

He told me that at funerals He often confronts people to think about death and dying because it’s too important to play games with eternal issues.

When he speaks at a funeral he often asks 2 questions “Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on?” And the other question is…

“Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” what would you say?”

These are good questions when we are faced with eternal issues. What would you say? “I’ve lived a pretty good life? Or She’ll be right mate?”

He told me about a gift that Philip Hughes had given to a friend of his – a signed cricket bat. It’s worth a lot of money now, I’m sure, but it was a gift. His friend didn’t pay for it or work for it or earn it in any way. It was given freely to him.

He says heaven is like that. You can’t earn your way to heaven by living a good life. Nobody can earn, work for or deserve heaven. It’s a free gift. And He’s right. That’s exactly what the Bible says about heaven. That’s exactly what the Easter Message proclaims. Heaven is a free gift. You can’t work for it, deserve it or earn it in any way.

The Bible says in Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Ephesians 2:8-9 says – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Like any genuine gift, Eternal life is free. If anyone knows about the Easter message, it’s him. 

AN UNDERSTANDING OF SIN 

Days before an Isis terrorist beheaded the US journalist Steven Sotloff, my young friend was talking to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Mr Abbot said to him “I refuse to call this hideous movement Islamic State because it’s not a state; it is a death cult.” My friend said “Sin always instigates death.”

The man I am soon to introduce to you happened to be in Ukraine when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukrainian air space by Russian separatists and a battle ensued to recover the bodies. He had tried to stop them but they would not listen. All 298 people on board were killed, including 38 Australians, on July 17.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would “Shirt-front” President Putin over the murder of Australian citizens and “Shirt-fronting” became Australia’s word of the year. My friend believes in Care-fronting. You don’t avoid the issues but you do it without causing further harm. My friend had been in negotiations with Boko Haram when they kidnapped 273 Nigerian girls. Sin steals the precious things of life.

When Daniel Christie died from a coward punch he was there. Daniel Christie’s family said they wanted king-hit attacks to be referred to as “coward punches. We don’t agree with the popular term ‘king-hit’.” They said. SIN would be a better word still. Sin is often a very cowardly response to our circumstances.

My guest was in Sierra Leonne last year caring for those dying from Ebola. He says that “Sin, like the Ebola Virus is dangerous. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. We have all been infected to some degree by our sin and we cannot save ourselves. This is also an important part of the message of Easter.”

Sin is what drove Man Haron Monis to take 17 hostages at the Lindt Café in Martin Place, Sydney, with tragic results. Sin takes hostages of our lives and produces death. My friend was there with the Chaplains who were deployed, once again offering hope.

My friend says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

THE INEVITABILITY OF JUSTICE

We were talking about justice in the world just the other day. The young man I will introduce to you was a witness in the trial of Oscar Pistorius. The court case kept the world in suspense until October, with a “live trial”. He was eventually found guilty of culpable homicide.

Our honoured guest says that sin always catches up with us and that although God is merciful He does not leave the guilty go unpunished.

He should know. He was on the MV SEWOL in April, the ‘South Korean ferry’ where 304 passengers lost their lives, and the captain of the ship was sentenced to 36 years in prison. Sin does not go unpunished.

Entertainer Rolf Harris knows that sin catches up with you when he faced trial on child sex abuse charges. My friend was one of the witnesses.

My guest told Barry O’Farrel not to accept the bottle of wine. Sin can look innocent but it is always corrupt.

THE RESPONSE OF FAITH

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan’s know what justice is all about. They are on death row in Indonesia for Drug trafficking. My friend knows Andrew Chan personally and led him to faith. Andrew started reading his Bible and after his sentence wrote these words in his diary.

“The Lord was showing me that all things are possible and that all I had to do was to believe in Him without wavering and that’s what I decided to do. Before the trial I began praying and telling the Lord, “If you get me out of this and set me free I will serve you forever.” Well, when the judge announced the death penalty I was in shock”. For quite some time he could not understand but then my friend told him “He did set you free! In your heart, He has set you free.” He then wrote “I then understood that I was free. I might be in prison, but in my heart I was free. I found a real salvation through Jesus Christ in prison, and the message of salvation in my life that I share with everyone can never be contained by the walls of the prison” (Andrew Chan, Death Row, Kerobokan Prison, Bali). What an amazing declaration!

My guest helped him to realise that we all deserve to be punished for our sin but Christ took our sin and paid the punishment price for us.

You have read His book. You have followed His life story. He is the most admired and influential man in the world. What I know for sure is that He will inspire all of us today.

Of course some of you already know who I am talking about. So let me introduce Him to you. The Lord Jesus Christ. Of Course. He is only a prayer away. He is there in all the events that we encounter through the year encouraging us towards faith. He will never leave us or forsake us no matter what the world throws at us. If anyone knows the true meaning of Easter, He does.

THE MESSAGE OF LOVE

He offers heaven as a free gift. It is not earned or deserved.

He offers forgiveness because we are all sinful people and we cannot save ourselves

He pays the price that the justice of God demands for our sin by dying on the Cross for us, so that we can have a personal relationship with God.

He offers those who have faith in Him and in what He has done for us a place in heaven.

2014 was a year of risk. Our guest would say that faith is spelled RISK. Faith in Christ is a risk worth taking. Faith gives us new perspective for the circumstances we face in life. Faith inspires us to take action.

To receive the gift of heaven we transfer our trust from ourselves to Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.

AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRIST

Because of Jesus, Easter has relevance not only for the past but for the present and future. The Cross is about Love. Easter is about Life. Let me introduce you to Jesus. He is only a prayer away from transforming your life.

“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour. Thankyou for Loving me. Thankyou for giving me Life. In Your Name. ”

Amen.

Matthew 17:8-9 – A DIFFICULT THING TO TALK ABOUT

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge.org and MorgueFile.com

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge.org and MorgueFile.com

I just realised I believe in the most extraordinary things. I have just read about Jesus shining like the sun, Elijah and Moses returning to a mountain and God speaking from a bright cloud. Bizarre! Even more bizarre; I believe it. All of it. I really do. I believe that it actually happened on a mountain witnessed by Peter, James and John and when it was all over, they saw that it was only Jesus that remained.

I found myself praying this morning when I read about these amazing events. “It seems a little unusual to say that “when they looked, they saw only Jesus” (Matthew 17:8 NLT). So often I only see my circumstances and not always You, Lord. But here, this morning, in my study when I look I see only You and Your glory rather than be distracted by the commonplace, the routine, the unremarkable things of my life. 

As I begin this day, I need Your touch and Your Word to empower me. Let the past fade (Moses and the law) and the future find it’s way (Elijah and the prophets) but today I would see only You. Like the blind man You put Your spit mixed with dirt in my eyes and I open them to see the Light of the world (John 9:5). Only You. 

Sometimes I find it is difficult to put my faith into words and share what has happened to me. Peter, James and John must have wanted to say something but what do you say to people after seeing Moses and Elijah returned after a 1000 years and hearing the voice of God from a cloud, in the presence of Jesus shining like the sun? 

What do you say? Do you speak about the reality of an afterlife? Of spirits of the saints returned? Of how we are eternal beings? Do you talk about resurrection one day when we will have resurrection bodies? Do you talk about the end of the law of Moses and the fulfilment of prophecies in Christ? Do you talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus? Do you talk about what it means to encounter Christ in all His majesty? Do you talk about the presence of Christ being the most important thing in your life? Will people think I am crazy? Probably. It’s difficult to talk about. 

It doesn’t surprise me that as You go down the mountain that You command them “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9 NLT). 

After the resurrection that’s what Peter did. He had to preface what he said by saying he wasn’t making it up. How do you start to tell of such an event? Peter did his best in 2 Peter 1:16-21 (NLT); “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw His majestic splendour with our own eyes when He received honour and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to Him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 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.”   

Timing is always important to You, Lord. There is a right time to share the gospel message. I can only share it when the person to whom You lead me is ready to receive the truth about who You are. It’s knowing the redemptive moment. Even then the miraculous transformation that takes place in a person’s life when they come to know You is difficult to explain. And how do I explain some of the most extraordinary things that I believe from Your Word? I can only trust that the Spirit of God will reveal His truth (John 16:13)”.

As I read my Bible He speaks to me. As I pray He speaks to me. It is almost audible. And today I can’t help but think of you, reading my blog. Forget the intrusions from the past for a moment. Forget your anxieties or plans about the future. Alone with only Jesus. It seems to me that He is also speaking to you, inviting you to that place of secure trust in Him. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:2 – TECHNICOLOUR YAWN OR POEM OF LIGHT?

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

The mesmerising laser lights transform the city of Sydney into a dazzling spectacle of creativity each year. “Vivid” is a unique demonstration of imaginative possibilities. The world’s largest Art Gallery comes alive, a breathtaking canvas of creative expression, especially when the iconic Sydney Opera House sails become a palette for light artists.

Of course, even the incredible spectacle of Vivid has been accused of “superficiality, of ‘technicolor yawns’ and smartphone-toting happy snappers.” Others, however, describe it as “a poem written in light”. 800,000 visitors from all over the world are attracted like insects to this light, and the festival of Vivid continues to grow each year.

Vivid pales into insignificance when compared to that night when Jesus takes three disciples up on a mountain to pray. Jesus often goes up to a mountain at night to pray (Matthew 14:23-24, Luke 6:12) but this night is bathed in the vivid aura of a miracle.

A week earlier He had tried to tell them that “some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Matthew 16:28 NLT). The kingdom authority of God is about to grasp the vibrant promises of the past, embrace the raw immediacy of the present and infuse it all with shocking future intention.

Matthew 17:2 tries to describe what happens “As the men watch, Jesus’ appearance is transformed so that His face shines like the sun, and His clothes become as white as light.”  

There is no superficial lacklustre, no laser lights or money-making festival atmosphere, just a breathtaking spectacle as Jesus is inexplicably altered in His appearance. A bewildering, disconcerting disturbance of penetrating light explodes from within His being. Filled with transcendent significance, a light so vivid and unexpected that it consumes your senses like a purifying fire from heaven; a light that illumines the very recesses of the soul.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) tries to describe it; “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” When Jesus says “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” He is saying that everything about Him is associated with light. More than analogy, this picture of light is based upon the reality of His being. Psalms 104:2 (NLT) says of the Lord, “You are dressed in a robe of light….” The gospel is the message of Jesus; a light shining in the darkness and here on a mountain the analogy is personified.

To witness this miracle changes a person forever. Many years later, John recalls this event: “…we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14 NLT). Belief in Christ transfigures us. We are changed outwardly as the reality of what has happened deep within reveals itself. We are intended to be a palette of light painted on a mountain in the intimacy of relationship with Christ.

Paul contrasts this experience in 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT); “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 

Is the transfiguration about transformation? Much more than that of course, but for now, Jesus is inviting us into His presence to be “the children of light” (Luke 16:8 NLT). Shining the light of Christ has to do with our character and changed values; integrity in Christ personified. When we know Christ, we shine that same light. Jesus says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). 

We are not designed to live life in the colours of “superficiality, and ‘technicolor yawns”. Jesus invites us to be a “a poem written in light”. 

Pastor Ross

 

Matthew 15:21-28 – WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST?

WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST? (Artwork by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net)

WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST?
(Artwork by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net)

Why then did the missionaries who came to speak at our Church when I was young at Wagga Wagga in NSW, Australia, encourage people to commit their lives to go to the uttermost parts of the world? They would even quote Jesus words in the great commission from Matthew 28:19 and preach on the word “GO!” They would quote Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me EVERYWHERE—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ENDS OF THE EARTH.”

So what is it with Jesus when He says to this Canaanite woman who lives on the edge of Israel’s territory that He is sent only to help Israel? (Matthew 15:24). Why was He sent only to help Israel? What makes them better than us? Is Jesus a racist; rejecting other nations? Did He limit the gospel to Galilee, His home territory? No Gentiles! No Samaritans! No Romans! Only to Jews. Only the familiar; the safe-ground; the Comfort Zone; the Sofa gospel; the selected invitation gospel; only the Jews can come to My party gospel!

Didn’t Jesus know about Acts 1:8 and what about John 3:16 “For God loved THE WORLD so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” This doesn’t paint Jesus a Racist and a Chauvinist so why then is He being so selective concerning the Jews when it comes to this Gentile woman crying out for mercy?

Doesn’t He know about Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) – “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer JEW OR GENTILE, slave or free, MALE AND FEMALE. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” According to this, Jesus could never be accused of being a racist or a chauvinist.

What am I to make of this contradiction, Lord? What are you saying to me? If you drive by the Equal Rights verse from Galatians 3 above too quickly you’ll miss it. It speaks about a promise that was once made by God to Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Jewish race; all through the Old Testament the Jews are the people God chose to take His message to the nations. 1 Chronicles 16:24 (NLT) says they were to “Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” Psalms 67:2-3 (NLT) says “May Your ways be known throughout the earth, Your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise You, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise You.”

The Jews failed to take the message to the nations and became an exclusive club. Because of God’s promises to them Jesus is sent to give them a second chance; to help them concerning the New Covenant message; to enable them to fulfil their redemptive purpose. God honours His promise to Israel and in Matthew 15 Jesus obviates the prejudices of the disciples to bring them to see God’s purpose.

Jesus says His priority is to help first His lost sheep in Israel. He is less interested in equality and much more interested in this Gentile woman receiving and believing the message of the gospel? By His initial silence and a few words to this woman, He is helping His disciples understand that they have a responsibility to share the message of the gospel with the Gentiles. They still don’t get it until Jesus affirms this woman’s great faith and He heals her daughter as requested. This Gentile. This woman. This rejected one finds hope and healing, acceptance and inclusion in the presence of her Saviour.

He honours His promises to me today. His Word is faithful. Thankyou Father for being the God of the second chance when I don’t get it right the first time. Thankyou for making me an heir to the promises you made to Abraham so long ago. Thankyou for reaching out to the very ends of the earth. Thankyou for breaking down the walls of hostility and touching us with Your love.

Ephesians 2:13-14 (NLT) says “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” Far from being a racist He is a demolition specialist, breaking down the walls between us and God and the walls we build between each other.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:33 – THE INCREDIBLE HULK AND YEAST – Part 14

Yeast and the Hulk

I’m thinking THE INCREDIBLE HULK! When Bruce Banner gets mad, he is transformed into a huge, out of control creature (I can’t help it. I have a grandson who loves cartoon characters and he always wants me to play the bad guy or the monstrous guy. I don’t know exactly why. I guess it’s the muscle power or maybe just the mass. To my grandson I’m incredible in all kinds of ways). I have always wondered how the hulk gets all his muscles. They just balloon from nothing. Just add a bad attitude, and you have instant bulk. TRANSFORMED!  

She leaves a lump of dough on the table as she goes about her household chores. The yeast begins to convert the sugars into carbon dioxide. The dough begins to expand and form tiny bubbles or gas pockets. Hulk type muscular formations begin to balloon from the dough. Just add yeast and it is TRANSFORMED!

When the dough has risen she breaks it into pieces and forms each loaf, leaving them to rise again. The yeast will die when she bakes the bread but the air pockets will remain. All she needs now is Vegemite and the transformation could be complete.  

Jesus also used this illustration (minus the incredible Hulk and the vegemite). He said “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough”” (Matthew 13:33 NLT). 

Many seem to have a problem with this parable? The trouble is that whenever yeast is used figuratively in the Bible it is usually speaking about “the bad guys” and the influence of sin, hyprocrisy, or their false teaching, (1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 5:9, Matthew 16:6-12, Mark 8:15-21). Yeast has been regarded this way ever since Israel was asked to sweep every bit of it out of their houses before the Exodus (Exodus 12:39).

Does the woman represent false teachers, the yeast represent their false teaching and the dough represent the Church? The IMPLAUSIBLE HULK. Just add false teaching and the Church is TRANSFORMED!

Jesus warns in Matthew 16:6 (NLT) “Watch out! … Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” Galatians 5:9 (NLT) says “… This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!” Clearly yeast is used in a very NEGATIVE way to describe the teaching and hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

Sin has certainly infiltrated our world, transforming the original dough. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23 NLT),” but Jesus says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast…” The only way that sin and the Kingdom of Heaven are alike is in their ability to INFILTRATE AND INFLUENCE the world.

To say that yeast is ONLY spoken of as defiling would be a FALSE ASSUMPTION. Look closer. In each passage it is the PERVADING nature of the yeast and it’s INFLUENCE that is being emphasised. Perhaps this is the only place in the Bible where yeast is likened to something good.

A similar analogy is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NASB95) it says “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a THIEF in the night.” but this is not saying that Jesus is a thief. In every other place in the Bible stealing is spoken of as a sin, but here it is simply speaking about the ability of the thief to come UNEXPECTEDLY. A thief comes unexpectedly. Yeast has INFLUENCE.

Inherent in a small amount of yeast is the ability to completely transform a batch of dough. Not some flat pita bread existence.

Maybe you think you don’t have much to offer God. A small boy with some fish and bread probably thought the same way, but he offered God what he had and God made a miracle out of it. The disciples said in effect “We don’t have enough.” He said “Here, take what I’ve got!” and under the authority and rulership of Jesus it fed 5000, with some left over (Matthew 14:13-21).

When the Kingdom of God infuses my thoughts, my words, my actions, and resources then God can do something INCREDIBLE through me. He wants me to live a life enlarged by the muscles of His Kingdom purposes. Dream big! Live big for Him! “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NASB). I am “filled with all the fullness of God…according to the power that works within me” (Ephesians 3:19-20). Incredible impact and influence!

The Kingdom of Heaven transforms my life when I respond to the authority of Christ. I am changed incredibly when I accept what He has done for me on the Cross, where He paid the penalty for my sin.

The world will never be the same (Acts 1:8) as the gospel continues to TRANSFORM lives. Inherent in this parable, like yeast permeating dough, is the ever insistent invitation of Jesus to you today to be transformed, not by the kingdom of darkness, but by the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Ross