Beware of the Leaven

In terms of modern Bible versions, is it okay to subtract certain passages from scripture, as long they are not erased completely? My pastor’s analogy to this philosophy goes something like this:

So, by this viewpoint, it would be okay if you were in the ocean and a shark decides to bite off only a few toes and fingers and a chunk here and there, as long as he leaves most of the rest of you relatively intact?  Sorry, I’m not okay with that philosophy.

Do the scholars think multiple fingers are redundant?  That we really don’t need them all?  If God says something multiple times, I think I need to know it and read it repeatedly.  Anything less is a deficiency!  Just as I would feel without all my fingers!

This is a big issue to the KJV debate, so it begs discussing. What do you think? Can we remove God’s words here and there, as long as no major doctrine is affected?  The implication to this argument, is that God inspired the fundamental doctrines, but NOT the “words.”  I don’t know about you, but I believe God is very specific in scripture as to the fact that it’s His *words* that are inspired and preserved:  “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35)  Doctrines are expressed in words, and with altered or deleted words every doctrine is “affected,” and more up for debate that it was otherwise.  Acts 8:37 is an example of this, as is 1 John 5:7. God says Himself, that “every word is pure“…and warns us against adding to or subtracting from His words. (Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:5-6, and Rev. 22:18-19)

What does God say about leaven?

My new approach to all of life’s questions, thanks to the final authority found in God’s word, is to check everything out via the Book. And as it turns out, a scriptural study of leaven stands us in excellent stead for this discussion. Did you know that every single Biblical reference to leaven is negative?  Check them out. References to leaven in the NT refer to doctrinal heresy, evil, sin, hypocrisy, unbelief, and wickedness. If you follow the trail of leaven throughout the NT, you will see that each one speaks of “contamination”and the pervasiveness of sin and evil – how a small amount of leaven spreads quickly and affects the “whole lump of dough”. 

According to Matthew 16:12, leaven as a corrupting agent is a type of heretical doctrine:

“Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

The Apostle Paul made it clear that “one rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel” writing in Gal. 5:9, that, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” To imply that any text is acceptable so long as one can find the desired doctrine somewhere within is not scriptural.

In the Old Testament as well, leaven represents evil. Leaven was forbidden in all offerings made by fire (Leviticus 2:11; 6:17), because it symbolized the pervasiveness of evil, and thus was inappropriate to use in offerings which typified the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. The Israelites were also forbidden to eat leavened bread for seven days at the time of Passover. Not only that, God forbid them from having any leaven in their homes (Exodus 12:15, 19) or in their land (Exodus 13:7; Deuteronomy 16:4). Can you imagine? The Israelites took this very seriously, searching their homes, purging out every tiny remnant of leaven.

But let’s look specifically at the Parable of the Leaven today in Matthew 13:33.

The Parable of the Leaven

“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

At first glance, this almost seems as if leaven is a good thing, but we know from every single other reference to leaven in the entire Bible, that it is a corrupting agent, one we are to beware in no uncertain terms. So we apply 2 Tim. 2:15 , “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” and we study this puzzle out.

Jesus is using a woman for an example. Perhaps He even gestured to one in a nearby courtyard, mixing up a batch of bread dough. Anyone that has baked bread from scratch knows that yeast (leaven) is a very important ingredient. Bread made without yeast would be very flat and hard. So we add yeast to our dough, and let it rise in a warm place…and through the process of fermentation, our bread dough rises and is soon ready to bake.

At this point, we need to realize that this passage is interpreted two ways. 

  1. Some believe that the leaven here represents the gospel, and the bread, the world. This would mean that the church is the leaven working inside the world, the bread, and its influence spreads throughout the world.
  2. Another way to understand this parable, is that the world is spreading into the church. This picture of ‘leaven taken by a woman and hidden in the meal’ indicates a mixture of evil within the good. The leaven symbolizes evil that penetrates the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 11:12 tells us that “from the days of John the Baptis until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”

I believe a thorough study of scripture will support the second view quite authoritatively. I believe this parable is a warning to Christians about the pervasiveness of evil spreading like leaven in the church. Keep with me here, it will become very obvious as we peel back the layers.

The parable says this, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

At first read through, it appears that we are to believe that the Kingdom of heaven is like leaven…but if you study the parable of the sower, or the parable of the mustard seed, among others, you would see that they begin the same way…yet Jesus wasn’t saying that the kingdom was the sower but rather the result of his sowing, or that the kingdom was the mustard seed, but the result of the seed sown. So what is He saying here about the leaven? Again we must continue digging, with the whole picture of the parable in mind…we see a woman, taking leaven, and hiding it in three measures of meal.

So we’ve talked about the leaven, let’s talk about the meal…

Romans 11:16, “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.”

The “lump” here is referring to dough, to God’s people, being holy. In this parable, the measures of meal are referring to “flour”. Wheat flour, if you go by the Greek commentaries on this passage. Jesus explained elsewhere that tares in the wheat represent the children of the wicked, whereas the good seed, the wheat, is a picture of the children of kingdom. (Matthew 13:38). In Matthew 3:12, John the Baptist uses wheat to picture believers when he teaches that Jesus would one day “gather His wheat (the righteous) into the garner (barn); but he will burn up the chaff (the wicked) with unquenchable fire.” (additions mine in parentheses)

In John 6:35, Jesus says,  “I am the bread of life.”

1 Corinthians 10:17 says, “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread...”

So when we see the terms wheat, flour, bread, and hence, meal, they refer to believers in Jesus.

If leaven symbolizes evil and wheat refers to Christians, then the lesson of the parable is that evil is able to penetrate the kingdom of heaven and corrupt it.

The world is penetrating the church with its bad influence and Jesus is telling us to watch out for this.

*Hidden* in the meal…

Notice next, that the woman “hid” the leaven in the meal. Here we see secrecy…can we say that God would hide his gospel from the world? Rather the opposite…

The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:9, “for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” The apostles were there for the whole world to see. There was nothing secretive or hidden about the gospel.

Again, in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul says, 

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 

Wow, pretty self-explanatory. Satan, the deceiver, is the one blinding and hiding the gospel from the world. How does he do this? Study the scriptures on leaven and you soon see.

The influence of the church works as the city in Matthew 5:14, “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” Jesus is our light, illuminating the darkness.

By this, I’d say it’s fairly obvious that it is not the church that is hiding in the world. Or the gospel that is being hidden in the meal. Rather it is the world entering secretly into the church.

We are warned of this in the Bible.  In Jude 1:4, we see,

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In 2 Peter 2:1, we read again,

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

Our conclusion must be that this is the leaven that is hidden in the meal, the pervasive and secret influence of the false teachers and of the world in the church. And that is what Jesus is warning us about in this parable.  

(Other NT references on leaven for you to check out: Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 13:21; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 7, 8; Galatians 5:9)

In conclusion…

Leaven works only in one kind of environment.  A lukewarm environment. If you put bread dough in a cold place, the leaven will not do anything. If you put it in a hot place, again, nothing happens. You have to provide the leaven the lukewarm condition required for the dough to rise.

In this sense again, the church cannot be the leaven. The church must be either hot or cold, as Jesus says in Revelation 3:16, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

2 Thessalonians 2:3 warns us that in the end times, there will come a “great falling away” of God’s people, not a great revival. We have to realize that nothing else but “a falling away” is an option as the leavening agent of evil gets progressively worse in the church. The question is, are we alert to it, and what are we as individuals to do about it?

Biblically, the corrupting agent of leaven is to bread what fermentation is to wine. Neither were permitted in the communion elements which pictured Christ’s perfect body and blood.

And we, as Christ’s followers, need to follow 1 Cor. 5:7-8, 

“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 

Luke 18:18 breaks my heart. “…Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

14 thoughts on “Beware of the Leaven”

  1. First, that a modern translation uses a documentary source that does not contain a passage is not the same as it “removing a passage of the Bible.” In this case, it’s not there in the first place, so there’s nothing to remove. And the companion argument to this is that, this assumes that one translation is perfect– it’s a circular argument.

    Second, leaven is not always bad.
    Lev 23:17 – “Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; [they are] the firstfruits unto the LORD.”
    Amos 4:5 – “And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim [and] publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

    Third, what is the argument that is not the one you agree with? Do “good men” disagree? I would argue that if, instead of bringing in all other scripture you looked at the actual context, you’d get a more consistent interpretation.

    Mat 13:24 – “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:” Though tears were also sown, the good seed is what is referred to as being the Kingdom of Heaven– which was hidden in the ground and came forth in abundance.

    Mat 13:31 – “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:” The mustard seed, the least of the seeds, when planted, brings for a beautiful harvest.

    In this context…

    Mat 13:33 – “Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

    Would it not be consistent to render this the same as the two above– something small that was hidden away (in the first two cases, in the ground, but in this latter one in the dough) and it produced much as a result?

    It certainly seems consistent in the passage. Could it be that this is more of a word picture– the idea that, as you said, everyone knows what leaven does in dough– than a literal “leaven is of the Devil”? Could it instead be “leaven is something that spreads?

    I worry that you read too much into this one verse, and neglect its context in favor of your desired result.

    While I don’t disagree that there are bad– even evil– translations and I also am with you about the presences of false teachers and false Gospel, I believe you minimize the position of doctrinal integrity and elevate a specific translation. I’m not sure that Christ would have us cause this division and separate brothers over something like word choice.

  2. MIn, I love it when comments force us to take a deeper look! Check your OT passages out again with me here…taken in context, and we indeed see that the leaven represents evil!

    It’s more obvious in the Amos 4 passage, than the Leviticus one, when reading in context, that the Israelites were in major rebellion to God–the whole chapter outlines their spiritual indifference, their going to “church” yet sinning, offering pagan sacrifices, not pleasing unto God–hence our key word “leaven”.

    In the Leviticus passage, you have to be familiar with what “wave loaves” are. The wave-loaves were offered fifty days after the wave-sheaf. This is precisely the period between the resurrection of Christ and the formation of the church at Pentecost by the baptism of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-4 ; 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:13 . See “Church” ; Matthew 16:18 ; Hebrews 12:22 Hebrews 12:23 . With the wave-sheaf no leaven was offered, for there was no evil in Christ; but the wave-loaves, typifying the church, are “baken with leaven,” for in the church there is still evil.

    Yes, “good men” do disagree, but the answer is always to be found in scripture, our final authority. We are to “compare spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13) which means digging into the surrounding context, cross referencing specific words and similar passages for clues. God’s word is alive and always contains the answers.

    As to the verses you suggest for the opposing argument, let’s check them out in their full context.

    Starting with Matthew 13:24. In the next verse, verse 25, “while the man (the sower) slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” There is a definite “sneaking in” here, coming at night while the sower slept, and sowing tares–corruption (just as the woman did by hiding leaven in the measures of meal). The sower was unaware of this corruption until the plants started bearing fruit…then he suddenly saw all the tares corrupting his crop. Just as in the end times, we will see a great increase of false doctrines, and a great falling away of God’s people from the truth of His word.

    The kingdom of heaven, as I mentioned in my post, is going to be rife with opposition (Matthew 11:12). These parables are confirming that.

    Next, Matthew 13:31, again, we must look at the next verse, 32, to see the rest of the story of the mustard seed…”Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” Matthew identifies the birds of the air as “the wicked one” (Matthew 13:4, 19). Mark connects them with “Satan” (Mark 4:4, 15), and Luke links them to “the devil” (Luke 8:5, 12). In Genesis 15:11, fowls swoop down on Abraham’s sacrifices, and he has to drive them away (see Deuteronomy 28:26). The end-time Babylon becomes “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Revelation 18:2).

    In the parable, Jesus predicts the birds of the air would lodge in the branches. These “birds,” devils led by “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), have continually tried to infiltrate the church. Upon the unsuspecting early church, Satan moved quickly to implant his agents in it to teach false doctrine while appearing to be true Christians. Just as God permitted Satan to tempt Job intensely (Job 1:12; 2:6) and to sift Peter as wheat (Luke 22:31), He has allowed antichrists to lodge within His church (I Corinthians 11:18-19). (the above paragraph is commentary by Martin G. Collins who said it much more concisely than I could have)

    I still stand on my claim in this blog post that every single reference in the Bible to “leaven” is in a negative context. I hope this has assuaged your fear that I’m not taking into account the entire context of these parables.

    If the matter of Bible translations simply boiled down to “word choice”, then that would be another matter. It’s not simply a matter of updating archaic language by selecting more contemporary English words for the modern translations. It’s much more serious than that.

    As to circular reasoning…True, the modern English Bibles are based on a different stream or family of manuscripts/text types than the KJV. True that the modern English Bibles are based upon manuscripts dating back to Alexandria, Egypt–among which scholars favor Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus–which are completely contradictory within themselves, disagreeing with each other in over 3,000 places in the 4 gospels alone…but also true that the KJV is based upon the majority of the manuscript evidence out there, over 5,000 manuscripts agree with the KJV, as opposed to only around 44 (which don’t even agree amongst themselves!) which underly the modern Bible versions. So…in the time since the Apostles, someone, somewhere, decided to “cut” out, add and delete from God’s original words. The point of my post above, is to explore the ramifications of doing such a thing. Or, in the case of modern Bible scholars and their translations, in relying upon faulty (corrupt) manuscripts in the first place.

    The kingdom of heaven, the church, is today taking a big hit by the leavening agents of false doctrines, evil, hypocrisy, etc. We are seeing wide-spread apostasy in the churches, and it is turning many away from God altogether. I’m calling for Christians to wake up out of their sleep, to redeem what time is left, and get serious about studying their Bibles. God’s word is our ONLY offensive weapon against the evil one, it’s the sword of the spirit in the armor of God passage. Part of getting serious about our lives as Christians, and our source of truth–God’s word–is to be able to discern the truth from the counterfeits…to purge the leaven from our midst.

    The point of this post is not to cause division, but to unite the remnant, to call for alertness and vigilence in “keeping His words”. (John 14:23)

    What concerns you, as a fellow believer and as my friend, concerns me. I’m not taking your comments lightly here, and welcome your feedback.

  3. Mary, your post about leaven is right on target. And it couldn’t be more relevant to the times. You have demonstrated both the harmony and consistency of several biblical passages on the subject and done so clearly and concisely. Once a person realizes the way the word “leaven” is used throughout the scriptures, it provides understanding of a great many passages. Such a topical study provides “light” on many things. “Comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (I Corinthians 2:13) is how we learn more of God’s truth.

    It is the small, hidden, corrupting influences that spread over time, permeating the whole, and bringing about the contaminating effects we see in many churches today. Leaven pictures the essence of Satanic subtlety and strategy. Before Eve ate the first bite of the forbidden fruit, she was subtracting from the word of God (omitting the word, “freely”), then adding to it (“neither shall ye touch it”), under the suggestions of the serpent who denied its severity and deceived her to disobey God – an ultimately costly error indeed.

    Whenever false doctrine, heresy, or error is promoted, justified, or defended, the scriptures will be attacked. Either the words of God are removed, or added, or twisted, or the context is ignored, or the words are “re-defined” using a corrupted source. You will never have to change the wording of the scriptures to present or prove God’s truth. Let this be a sign unto you . . .

    MInTheGap, as of late you seem to be trying to play the devil’s advocate – and doing a bang-up job for him, I’d say. I’d guess you’ve worked for him before. I’ve followed your recent lame attempts to muddy the waters here, and Mary has politely taken the scriptures and the facts of history and shredded your arguments time and again. But being a glutton for punishment I suppose, you don’t give up easily – kind of like a dog that chases cars to it’s own bad end.

    Let’s take a look at a few of the many obvious flaws in your thinking. In your opening remarks, you assume that an unnamed modern version, which you later admit might be “bad” or “even evil,” is correctly translating (another assumption) its “documentary source” (which you don’t name), and that the source doesn’t have that passage in it. But you fail to address why it isn’t there in the documentary source. It couldn’t possibly be that the reason it is omitted is because the documentary source is corrupted, could it? Satan couldn’t possibly do that could he? Would he? Yes, he could, he would, he has, and he does exactly that. Was Satan at all interested in corrupting the manuscripts of scripture, knowing that future generations would read their content? KJV critics tend to think Satan has little or no interest in such things. History stands in witness with the Bible as to the repeated instances of this being the actual case. Casting doubt on the words of God by these methods is standard operating procedure with Satan since the very beginning. So, accurately translating a corrupted source can only result in another level of corruption. If you start with corruption, and carry it on through to the end, you end up with corruption. Easy to see, unless you are blind.

    The religious leaders of Jesus’ day assumed that Christ couldn’t possibly be who he said he was. They couldn’t buy into Christ’s claims of being “equal with God” (Phil. 2:6), so they considered him a blasphemer. [Oh, that’s right, I can’t use Phil. 2:6, because that phrase is omitted in the new versions, right?] Their logic followed circular reasoning thusly: no man can be equal with God, so when Jesus says he is, it can’t be true because he’s just a man. Jesus therefore must be a liar, deceiver, false teacher, possessed of devils, etc. Unless, of course, he was exactly who he said, making their assumption faulty. Rather than admit their error of assumption, their tactic then was to try to “catch him in his words,” i.e. find a contradiction. Healing on the sabbath seemed to be the pet theory they grab hold of first.

    In similar fashion, you have assumed that the God who perfectly inspired his words in writing could not have also perfectly preserved them as he repeatedly promised to do (Psalm 12:6,7; Matt. 24:35). God then must be a liar by this same circular reasoning. Since you have assumed there is no perfect Bible existing on the planet today, therefore, on the basis of this faulty assumption, the KJV bible couldn’t be perfect. Your next strategy is predictable: follow the example of Jesus’ enemies by trying to catch the KJV bible in a contradiction by finding words that must be wrongly translated (in your opinion). Christ’s critics and bible critics are predictable characters. Your actions are foretold in the very scriptures you attempt to fault. The burden of proof is upon the skeptic and critic (your position) to prove God is wrong when he spoke and when he wrote those words. Do you have an authority higher than the scriptures that you would care to quote to support your assumptions? Oh, that’s right, I forgot, KJV critics don’t believe in inspired scriptures that can be handled and positively identified. Isn’t that right?

    The principles of American jurisprudence say the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt. I will go with that, and say the KJV Bible is innocent of all charges until proven guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt. Critics have attacked the KJV for over 400 years, but it still stands as the greatest book ever written, while the newer translations have fallen by the wayside one after another into the dust heap of history.

    Next, let’s look at your attempt to find “exceptions” to the rule of leaven being negative. You provide two references (with a wrong link), but fail to provide the context of either, or make the point. In the Leviticus passage, the leaven is to be offered because it refers NOT to the sacrifice of Christ, but is associated with the events of Pentecost, foreshadowing the church which would be born on that very day (Acts 2). The church is made up of sinners, as is evident to all. Leaven represents that sin within the body. Since Christ had no sin in him, only unleavened bread could properly represent his physical body, which is why it is properly used at the Lord’s table. If you don’t think the early church had corrupting influences and sin within, or that God could have foreseen that, you haven’t read the story of Ananias and Sapphira, whom God killed and removed from the body because of their sin (Acts 5). God purged out the leaven in that story. Leaven is something we are commanded to “purge out,” as Mary quoted above – whether it be personal sin in our lives, or the removal of a person from the local church who is bringing in a corrupting influence, as was the case in I Corinthians 5 with the man involved in fornication, whom the church was commanded to remove and turn over to Satan. If churches had been careful to maintain this practice they wouldn’t be so horribly corrupt today.

    In the Amos 4 passage, a simple reading of the context would show you why the verse reads as it does. You emphasize the importance of the immediate context later in your comments, but ignore it entirely here. Maybe you thought no one would check the verses? You didn’t do your homework. It looks like that in your hurry you didn’t check the verses either. God is condemning Israel for their external “shows” of offerings. He is rebuking them for their false pretense. He ridicules them with the sarcastic invitation to “come to Bethel and transgress” in the verse just before the verse you referenced. God then tells them all the NEGATIVE things he is going to do to them because of their SINS and CORRUPTION. Leaven. Exactly.

    So, both the Leviticus and the Amos passages are consistent in showing leaven as a “negative.” If you had received the truth about leaven in the content of Mary’s post by studying those scriptures she referenced, you wouldn’t have made the mistake of assuming she was wrong without checking more closely. You ran into the bumper there again. Bet that hurts!

    But not content with those injuries, you bumble right into Matt. 13:31 at full speed with this gaff: “The mustard seed, the least of the seeds, when planted, brings for a beautiful harvest.” As a farmer I can tell you that mustard is a horrible weed to have spreading in your fields or crops. While I don’t use herbicides, you should know that there are herbicides that have been developed specifically to eradicate mustard because of its “invasive” habits that tend of take over a field (kind of like leaven). No farmer in his right mind would want a “beautiful harvest” of mustard. No sir. Whatever variety of mustard is being referred to here in Matthew, it seems to be a far worse variety, because it apparently gets big enough to reach tree status.

    A further check of context shows the consistency of meaning throughout the several kingdom of heaven parables that make up this chapter in Matthew 13. The first parable of the sower and the seeds is fully interpreted by the Lord himself, so that we have a kind of legend for the map – a key for later interpretations. The birds that come down and devour the seeds planted by the sower in v. 4 – what is the meaning of these birds? The answer is in verse 19 – they are a reference to Satan who steals the seeds (words of God) from the heart. Mark 4:15 and Luke 8:12 are the cross references to this passage:

    “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” (Mark 4:15)

    “Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12)

    In all of these passages, the devil stealing God’s words is the spiritual meaning of the actions of these birds. And how is this done? One seed at a time, one word at a time, here a word and there a word – just like you see the new versions do it. But that’s okay, since at least there’s some seeds left, right?

    Here’s another cross-reference that is particularly interesting:

    “And he [angel] cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Revelation 18:2)

    “Birds of a feather, flock together” is the saying. So that mustard tree in Matthew 13 isn’t looking very good with all those kinds of foul fowls, now is it? Unclean. Hateful. Nasty. If you’ve ever cleaned a bird cage or a chicken coop, then maybe you can concur.

    BTW is Babylon the great, referenced in the previous chapter of Revelation 17, a “church” whose identity is spelled out in the description? Is she described as a woman? Jezebel? Check out those references for more info.

    After ignoring all the scripture references Mary cited, all you could come up with was that “leaven is something that spreads.” Wow. Profound. Mary said that at the outset, then went on to show you what it is that spreads – sin, evil, wickedness, false doctrine, and more that stands as a warning to beware of the leaven – because of its evil influence on the church. You are “worried” about reading into one verse too much. Yet she gave you a host of verses that consistently verified the conclusion. “No one is so blind as he he will not see.”

    I think the following context and content is very appropriate: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:13-15)

    Those who stick with the sacred truth of the KJV Bible are not causing division. It is those who are bringing in the new per-versions with their corrupting influences that are bringing in apostasy, and dividing the brethren. Purge out the leaven, indeed.

  4. Thanks, Farmer John. I know the lesson of the leaven has stayed with me…I find myself thinking of all aspects of it…whether it’s the leaven in Christendom, various “Christian” religious organizations, or in my own life. Sobering, both ways. I especially marveled at your insight into the mustard tree–wow. That part of the parable escaped me, not ever having dealt with mustard plants. Kinda like horseradish? Hard to eradicate, and not all that desireable (to me anyway!). Kind of like chicken manure–yes, I’ve cleaned out a chicken house, several times! And it keeps adding up!

    As to this issue of “missing doctrines” causing division, that accusation causes me no end of sadness–I know you relate. I think this verse from Romans says it so well, “Now I beseech you, mark those which cause divisions and offences, *contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned* and avoid them.” Leaven=contrary doctrines.

    Hey, thanks the encouragement here, and for chiming in on a hot topic!

  5. Mary, Haley mentioned that you Facebooked her and asked us to review some of your recent posts. I am not a regular reader of your blog, but from time to time when Haley mentions something I get on and have a look. As I read last night I felt I needed to respond, so Haley and I posted a response and then lost it because our internet disconnected when we tried to send it. So the original autograph has been lost but I am confident I can reconstruct it using some textual criticism (ha ha).

    I read your post on Erasmus, and leaven. Then I read some of the comments you have received. I really appreciated Min’s comment on your leaven post. He expressed some of the initial reactions that I had while reading it. I thought he did a good job presenting another point of view and respectfully disagreed with you. Now what troubled me, and has prompted this response, is the comment Farmer John left in regards to MIns comments. Here are a few examples which gave me pause:

    “MInTheGap, as of late you seem to be trying to play the devil’s advocate – and doing a bang-up job for him, I’d say. I’d guess you’ve worked for him before.”

    “But being a glutton for punishment I suppose, you don’t give up easily – kind of like a dog that chases cars to it’s own bad end.”

    “Do you have an authority higher than the scriptures that you would care to quote to support your assumptions? Oh, that’s right, I forgot, KJV critics don’t believe in inspired scriptures that can be handled and positively identified. Isn’t that right?”

    “If you had received the truth about leaven in the content of Mary’s post by studying those scriptures she referenced, you wouldn’t have made the mistake of assuming she was wrong without checking more closely. You ran into the bumper there again. Bet that hurts!”

    “After ignoring all the scripture references Mary cited, all you could come up with was that ‘leaven is something that spreads.’ Wow. Profound.”

    Mary I am glad that you have introduced me to this debate because it has forced me to do a lot of reading on the subject of church history and how we have received the Bible. I am now more confident than ever that I have the Word of God in my hand today (KJV, NASB, NIV). I know we disagree on this and I enjoy being able to debate it. However, I will refrain from doing so on this blog if anyone who disagrees with your point of view is subjected to character assassination. If Farmer John had posted a snarky, sarcastic, and downright rude response like this on a blog of mine, I would be a little ashamed and would ask for an apology.

    We miss you and your family, and pray you still consider us your friends.
    David

  6. Hi there, David,
    Of course I consider you guys my friends. Always will! We pray for you and your sweet family often. It’s not my wish or intention that any “debate” on this topic would be of the type that severs friendships. Iron sharpens iron, and it’s not always a “comfortable” process. Right?

    I’m glad you have been searching for the truth, David, that’s all I ever wanted. We all need to know why we believe what we believe. This is not an issue in which to form a quick conclusion. It took our family almost a year of deep digging and praying. If you’ve been able to satisfy the issue already, then that’s obviously between you and God. I actually was writing Haley about something else when I facebooked her, and in passing, wanted you to know about the post on Erasmus, since your comment on Erasmus “being in a hurry” was the one that spurred my investigation into his life. And what a rewarding investigation it was. For me. I am glad you decided to come over and take a gander.

    However, I am saddened that instead of giving actual evidence *for* or *against* my post on leaven, you chose to retaliate against someone you have no personal battles with, by casting stones his way. Is that any better? MInTheGap has come to my defense in a similarly caustic manner against some pretty hard-headed evolutionists who used to frequent my blog. I have no doubts that he is quite able to defend himself against Farmer John’s comment. It appears that he’s decided to leave it alone. Which is big of him. However, both of these men are my IRL friends, and being in the middle of this is not what I would have wished, hopefully you can tell that from my own response to MInTheGap’s doubts that I knew what I was talking about in this post.

    I would prefer that all comments be directed at me, in future, regarding the contents of the post at question, unless an appropriate give and take is necessary to understanding individual comments. Above all, we need to seek God’s truth of these matters. Satan loves these little tangeants, I’m sure, where we pick on each other but don’t address the issue in the post. I don’t mind you, or Min, or Farmer John, or anyone else challenging me, and you better believe if I’ve put out wrong information, you should feel free to correct it! And if I feel you are wrong in thusly challenging something I’ve claimed on the blog, I will set the record straight. The parable of the leaven is CRUCIAL to understanding the world around us today, and how perilous the times are that we live in.

    You have no need to fear a “character assassination” at my blog, David. Just keep it clean and friendly, and everyone else will follow suit. Sometimes there is more to things than appears to be on the surface.

    God bless,

    Mary

  7. You know, I need to be more careful to actually read the verses I quote and the context that they are in before I go off and talk about how others need to do the same thing.

    Obviously the Amos passage is exactly the opposite of how I represented it, and I can even go with you, to some extent, on Leviticus.

    Given that, I’m not sure on which way this passage should go– as I can see your point of view as you seem to be able to see mine. I think appropriate arguments can be made either way.

    As for your latest post on Doctrine, I have commented on my site, since to do so in comments would be exhaustive, and there was a lot to say.

    I’m not sure your posts are doing their intended purpose in regards to your last comment. They seem to divide more than they seem to unite. If the goal is to have the body of believers unite behind doing more study in His Word, wouldn’t your time be better spent calling attention to the Fundamentals of the Faith and less time to which version of Bible is superior?

    Although Paul didn’t like some of the ways the Gospel was getting out, he was positive about that it was getting out, and spent most of His time talking about God and what He was learning, instead of railing on those that would cause division.

    Which do your posts more look like?

  8. No apologies are necessary. I am not ashamed of anything I said. There is no need to take offense to the tone of my remarks if they are not directed toward you. There are no “character assassination” remarks anywhere in my previous post.

    This brings up a subject about which God has much to say, and I am thankful for the opportunity to address it. It is a topic that I suspect many of Mary’s blog readers may have great interest. Let us again “search the scriptures” (John 5:39), and be like those noble Bereans: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

    Here is the issue in a nutshell: Is it ever right in the eyes of God for a follower of Christ to use sarcasm or rudeness when dealing with someone who continually questions or criticizes God’s words? Before making any automatic assumptions, we would do well to first check the scriptures for God’s answers. Now remember, we are not arguing here about whether you prefer red and I prefer blue, or whether pickles and mustard should or shouldn’t be on my sandwich. Personal preferences are not in view here. We are talking about attacks on the actual words of God – a very different matter, and one with serious ramifications.

    As a Bible-believing Christian I believe that we should be Christ-like in our approach and responses to those who oppose us. I hope readers will nod in the affirmative. So, let’s see what that means. I will provide several scriptures that every reader should read and study, and then ask some pertinent questions that are designed to make us think deeper and pause to consider. These questions are “open” to anyone to answer.

    “Have ye never read” in the scriptures . . .?

    Concerning Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23). Mark’s account (Mark 8:33) notes that Jesus rebuked Peter with these words.

    Here are some valid questions to ask. Was Satan using Peter’s mouth? Yes or no? Was Peter a disciple of Christ? Yes or no? Based on this scriptural precedent, can Satan use the mouth of one who is a follower of Christ? Yes or no? What brought on this harsh rebuke from the Lord Jesus? Was Peter being rude, sarcastic, unduly harsh, cruel, and “snarky” (is that a word?) to someone without warrant? Yes or no? Checking the immediate context, we discover that Peter had just argued against the words of Christ, then openly denied their validity, just as Satan always does.

    “Get thee behind me, Satan” is a phrase used by Christ on only one other occasion in scripture (Luke 4:8), when the Lord Jesus Christ directly confronts Satan face-to-face at his temptation in the wilderness. In the first temptation “. . . Jesus answered him [Satan], saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). In this verse Christ demonstrates the method man is to use in dealing with Satan’s temptations. The three-fold example of Christ in this passage in each of the three temptations is the same, showing us that we are to quote aloud the scriptures whenever we are tempted if we are to successfully thwart the devil’s intentions. Mature Bible believers know to do this, and have seen the powerful results thereof, because they followed the words of Christ to the letter.

    Think about this: What would have happened in the garden of Eden had Eve correctly quoted the words of God aloud to the Serpent, instead of subtracting, adding to, and then doubting them while listening to the devil’s denials (Genesis 3:1-3)?

    The NASV and NIV have completely omitted the phrase, “but by every word of God” (vs. 4) so that the key defensive weapon (the sword of the Spirit) is not understood as needing to be drawn and used when in temptation. Christ’s words to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan” are also omitted in the NASV and NIV (and others). These omissions have a peculiar effect on the reader. Thousands of Christians seem totally ignorant of how to recognize and overcome temptations to the flesh. Have the new versions been a stumbling block to them in this regard? Do those new versions follow in the footsteps of Eve? Subtracting from, adding to, casting doubt upon the words of God is evident throughout the new versions as can be seen by a simple examination.

    Without Christ’s words in these verses, a Christian can’t get much light from the Holy Ghost on our subject at hand by cross-referencing; “comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” as we are commanded to do (I Corinthians 2:13). There are no words to cross-reference – they aren’t there. So then, with their “understanding darkened” by the lack of God’s light (Psalm 119:30), NASV and NIV readers are prevented from discovering God’s truth or understanding the connections between these passages. Were those words spoken by Christ as the KJV says, or not (as the NASV and NIV say)? It can’t be both ways.

    These exact same words of rebuke said to Satan at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, are now addressed to Peter (but again you can’t know that if you have one of these modern versions). Was Peter “playing the devil’s advocate? Yes or No? Was he being a mouthpiece for the devil? Is anyone here “embarrassed” that the Saviour said such “downright rude” words in rebuke to one of his own disciples – and in front of the others who would hear? Does anyone think Christ should have apologized to Peter for the tone of his remarks? I rather think that Peter was embarrassed for his own hasty remarks, and that Christ’s rebuke served to remind him and his fellow disciples of the error of assuming Christ didn’t know what he was saying, or that his words wouldn’t come to pass as he said they would (doubting the validity, again). I was much less rude than Christ was to Peter, when I commented on “playing the devil’s advocate.” That MInTheGap has had plenty of practice questioning and criticizing God’s words is apparent in his previous posts, on other on-line sites, and repeatedly on his own blog.

    So, when a man who professes to be a follower of Christ continually questions and criticizes God’s words, or states that certain words in the Bible are in error (as a Bible skeptic) – based on his own preferences, “feelings,” or one of his favorite scholar’s opinions – or that the scripture cannot define its own words using other scriptures, is he not playing the “devil’s advocate” as Peter did?

    “Yea, hath God said . . .?” These are the first recorded words of Satan in the Bible (Genesis 3:1). Satan questioned whether God actually said certain specific words, and whether he meant what he said (validity, again). Satan then proceeded to deny God’s words altogether (vs. 4) and influence Eve to disobey God’s words. Satan succeeds in his deception using this strategy, which has been equally as effective through the last 6,000 years of human history. By this precedent in Genesis, can we safely conclude that others who may read/hear words of doubt expressed about the scriptures (God’s words) will be influenced to disobey them because they don’t see the validity or authority of God in the words? Yes or no? Would it be Christ-like to rebuke such a person (saved or lost) who makes such a colossal error in questioning God’s words? If a person is honest, they will have to say, “yes,” because it is exactly what Christ did. A well-timed rebuke in such a case may prevent the person rebuked from sinning further against God, sparing him chastening or judgment. Stopping him from further self-inflicted damage is both compassionate and loving, although they don’t see it that way. Doing so would also prevent others who may hear that person from falling into the same error of doubting God’s words.

    When Jesus Christ dealt with the woman at the well (John 4), he was gentle, gracious, and compassionate to her, although he specifically named her sins (4:18) and doctrinal error (4:22) before he revealed his true identity to her (vs. 25-26). However, in direct contrast, when Christ dealt with his harshest critics (religious teachers) and those who constantly questioned his identity and his words – in the face of repeated miracles, fulfilled scriptures, and doctrinal teaching – he didn’t spare the horses. Are we to understand that Jesus was “Christ-like” with the woman at the well, but not when he dealt with the Pharisees? It’s a trick question, obviously. Jesus was always “Christ-like” in every situation wherever he was – because Jesus is Christ – that’s who he is. Christ’s tone of instruction is appropriate to the audience he is addressing. To the ignorant but teachable listener, Christ gently leads them into truth. To the self-righteous, arrogant religious scholars, he is often blunt, harsh, demeaning, rude, abrasive, and openly confrontational. Is one attitude more Christ-like than the other, or have we made assumptions on this issue?

    Take a good look at Matthew 23, for example. Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees (without the benefits of anonymity on a blog), rudely calling them “hypocrites” (to their faces) no less than seven times in this one encounter, using a term he has previously used of them six times already in Matthew’s gospel (13 times total). Gentle? Compassionate? Respectful disagreement? In citing their various hypocrisies, Jesus delineates their two-facedness by naming their specific sins. He further refers to them in the same chapter with these descriptive terms: “child of hell” (v. 15), “blind guides” (twice) (vs. 16, 24), “fools and blind” (twice) (vs. 17, 19), “blind Pharisee (v. 26), “serpents” and “generation of vipers” (v. 33), and likens them to “whited sepulchres” (v. 27). Rude comments to those he disagrees with or not? Is Jesus kind, gentle, patient, and respectful to the Pharisees here? Yes or no? Why not? The pattern we observe again and again proves the principle we have stated. Depending on whether his hearers have stony hearts or receptive hearts, Christ delivers his words with the appropriate “tone.”

    Has everyone read about Christ’s “turning the tables” incident in John 2:12-22? He calmly and with pre-meditation about his actions spends the necessary time and meticulous effort to braid a whip preliminary to the task at hand. Can we describe the results of what happened next? Violent. Down right rude. Harsh. Upsetting. Uncalled for. Unprecedented. Unorthodox. Unnerving. Trashed the whole place! Animal hair, feathers, and dung were everywhere about the temple. Exactly! A sharp, stinging rebuke in full bore action! Actions speak louder than words – especially to those who are dull of hearing God’s truth. Did he get their attention? Did he have to go to such an extreme to do it if there had been some other way? Did he tell them why he was doing it? Was he “angry without a cause” (Matthew 5:22)? Do you think he raised his voice while he “drove them all out” like a bunch of animals? Do you think he used the whip he purposely made? Why would he have made it if he didn’t intend to use it? Do you think it was only for visual effect? Did anyone feel the sting of the scourge that day? Did anyone feel rebuked after it was over? If you had been there as one of his disciples, would you have been embarrassed over Christ’s actions? Were his actions “Christ-like” according to your definition of that term? Or is our tendency to redefine the term according to our own subjective feelings, without checking it with scripture?

    Everyone in the temple was simply going about their normal business, doing what they’d always done there for the last several years. No one else had objected to this point. Why all of sudden this volatile reaction by Christ? Couldn’t Jesus have softly and tactfully tried to teach them a better way? Couldn’t he have been nice about it? Couldn’t he have quietly escorted each vendor out with a brief explanation? Or instructed his disciples to help him provide for more orderly exits? Couldn’t he have started a petition drive and delivered signatures to the council to try to enact a political change by going through the correct channels of government instead of taking matters into his own hands? What a way to try to win friends and influence people! Maybe he never read that book or took that course.

    What was happening in the temple with the moneychangers and the buying and selling of animals had become a well-established tradition in Jerusalem – somewhat similar to what goes on at “Super bowl parties” in church sanctuaries and fellowship halls across America every year. Good food, good fun, selling Jesus T-shirts, Christian posters, and pizza – playing board games and raising money for the youth group, everyone in perfect unity watching the boob tube together – so why get so bent out of shape, all upset, and go ballistic? How divisive! Would you have told Jesus to “chill out”? Did Jesus not think his actions would provoke the Jewish leaders and make them hate him? Did he not think this thing through and consider that someone might fall down and get hurt? What was he possibly thinking by being so intolerant? They weren’t hurting anybody were they? Such a radical extremist – this angry Jesus. (Does the use of sarcasm help us think this through?)

    When the Jewish leaders elevated the words of their respected rabbis and the traditions of their religious teachings to the same level as Holy Scripture, and then taught the people these things, Jesus said, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7-9). “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye” (Mark 7:13). He then goes on in the immediate context to talk about their defiled hearts. Vain worship from defiled hearts. Why? Because they were rejecting the words of God as being authoritative in their lives, and substituting those inspired words of God with the words of sinful man while honoring and reverencing human traditions. I suspect that much of what goes on in many churches today can only be said to be “vain worship” for the same reasons.

    What did Christ say about king Herod, when the Pharisees inquired? “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected (Luke 13:31-32).” Do you think the words “that fox” were told to Herod? Yes or no? Do you think Christ intended that Herod know what he thought of him? Yes or no? Why is Jesus purposely provoking Herod with such demeaning name-calling? Does he not care for Herod’s soul?

    As a shepherd of many years, I can tell you that foxes have been in my rifle sights many times. They are sneaky, sly, subtle, vicious predators that attack, kill, and run away into the cover of darkness, only to come back the next night to do it all again. What do you think Christ meant by calling Herod “that fox”? Why the choice of an unclean canine as an illustration of Herod’s character and behavior? Was he speaking evil of rulers? Earlier the same day Jesus had rebuked the ruler of the synagogue, who had openly spoken against Christ by portraying him as a lawbreaker (Luke 13:15). Christ called him a “hypocrite,” and then “shamed his adversaries” (vs. 17), which caused the people there to rejoice!

    My “canine comments” in a previous post were not equating Mary’s antagonist with a dog, but were a comparison of parallel actions for illustration purposes. Peter uses the canine likeness principle when speaking of false teachers: “But it is happened unto them [false teachers and their followers (v. 1)] according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:22). Dogs and sows (pigs) are “unclean” animals according to Old Testament law, and are here used for an illustration of false teachers. Now people don’t generally eat their own vomit, but the expression makes graphically clear that the unclean habits of both false teachers and dogs have a parallel connotation. The visual makes the point. Everyone is familiar with the “dog chasing cars” illustration – it’s a good way to get run over. But some dogs never learn the lesson. The scripture repeatedly and specifically compares peoples’ actions to that of dogs because of parallel behaviors.

    Check out Matthew 7:5,6 where dogs and swine are used together again. Take a look at Philippians 3:2: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” Reading the context, is Paul talking about four-footed furry critters to beware of, or is there a spiritual parallel we are to understand, having to do with deceivers that have behaviors comparable to canines? In Revelation 22:15 the term “dogs” is a reference to the unsaved. The Old Testament also uses dogs to illustrate various truths – with many references. Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul all used familiar canine examples to make easy-to-understand illustrations about people’s character or actions, just as I have done.

    The Apostle Paul also said, “But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge . . .” (II Corinthians 11:6). What did he mean here by the word “rude” when describing his own words? Note: the word is “rude” not “crude.” Paul was a trained debater, an educated orator, a gifted speaker, and a well-organized writer. What does he mean using the word “rude”?

    Hear these words of Paul quoting a pagan prophet (in the context of warning about deceivers): “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” What a thing to say about people you are trying to reach with the gospel! How rude can you get? Yet Paul agrees 100% with the statement saying, “This witness is true” and then writes it down as part of inspired scripture for all to see. (Notice the animal comparison again.) He goes on to command Timothy on how to deal with people like this: “Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:12-13). He must be talking to Timothy about Cretian Christians if they are to be “sound in the faith.” Apparently a sharp rebuke to a Christian that “cuts to the heart” is sometimes necessary to get their attention and make the point – like the tip end of a twoedged sword.

    Was the Apostle Paul ever sarcastic to carnal Christians in the Corinthian church? “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? (1Co 4:21) A rod, really? Literally? Figuratively? Is he going to beat them for their sins? Or what about Paul’s comment, “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (II Corinthians 11:8)? Was Paul a thief, robbing churches? Or was this carefully aimed sarcasm directed toward them to make a sharp point about their lack of giving?

    Paul writes, “I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also” (II Corinthians 11:16-21). Was Paul being sarcastic about “seeing ye yourselves are wise”? What about his “I will glory also” about the flesh? Is this a series of back-to-back sarcastic comments or not? Is it meant as a sharp rebuke? Does it make the point?

    Remember that the Apostle Paul, a man filled with the Holy Spirit, who wrote half the books of the New Testament, rebuked Peter (a fellow Apostle) publicly (Galatians 2:14) for his two-faced hypocrisy (just like Jesus did the Pharisees) saying, “I withstood him [Peter] to the face, because he was to be blamed” (vs. 11). He didn’t take Peter aside privately so as to avoid embarrassment. He did it in front of everybody present. And he commanded Timothy to follow that same example he set in the practice of publicly rebuking elders, saying: “Them [elders] that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (I Timothy 5:20). The public rebuke of leaders in the church, when scripturally warranted, was necessary in order to have a preventative effect on others.

    Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). The word “ye” is plural, and so is “followers.” To whom is Paul referring? Who is supposed to follow Paul, with the qualification that Paul is following Christ? Was Paul being Christ-like by rebuking a fellow brother in the Lord over a somewhat minor issue? Yes or no? He did it exactly like Christ rebuked Peter and the Pharisees – publicly, and to the point. Are we commanded to follow Paul’s examples of rebuking? Yes or no? Did Paul use sarcasm or rudeness in any rebukes? Yes or no? Did Paul tell Timothy in II Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Christ did it. Paul did it, while following Christ’s example. Paul tells Timothy to do it. Paul tells the Corinthians to do it. Are we to do it, too? Yes or no?

    In I Corinthians 5, Paul takes to task a church-going fornicator, saying that he should be “turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh . . .” (vs. 5), and rebuking the local church for sweeping the matter under the rug and not dealing with it. He further tells the church to remove the offender – likening the action to purging out LEAVEN (vs. 7) – a word he mentions three times in the passage. They were to “put away” – the same words used for divorce – this fornicator and not even eat with him – an admonition repeated in Ephesians 5:11: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” This man’s sin would eventually spread like leaven and infect the whole church if he was not removed from the assembly.

    Does Paul give suggestions or are they commands on what to do? Is he being intolerant? Rude? Harsh? Judgmental? Unloving? Those who take this passage seriously and practice biblical church discipline are often accused of intolerance and the rest of the adjectives by those who are ignorant of the scriptures. They don’t understand the devastating effects of tolerating wickedness or false doctrines. They haven’t done what God says through the mouth of Paul, and so haven’t seen the “turnarounds” that often take place with these people when scriptural discipline is applied with prayer and love.

    Let’s go a bit further here. In another passage about LEAVEN, the Apostle Paul says some rather harsh and unkind things about those who were sowing the leaven of false doctrine into the churches. Paul says, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:7-12).

    Notice that those who sowed the leaven are said to have been the main reason that believers were not obeying the truth. Exactly. Sowing leaven has that undermining effect, causing believers to stumble, fall, and disobey God’s words – the same results of Satan’s deception when he tempted Eve. Satan sowed doubt about God’s words in the mind of Eve. Somebody had been sowing doubts about God’s words in the Galatian churches, trying to “persuade” them to add law to grace for salvation. The words “cut off” used by the Apostle Paul are an allusion to circumcision – that was the point of contention the Judaizers were teaching as a mandatory element for salvation. Whatever Paul meant by using this phrase, he is not wishing the Judaizers would get circumcised (they already were), but something far worse, as some of the early Christians writers noted. Harsh – cruel even.

    Where is Paul’s compassion and grace for these poor deluded Judaizers? Why be so harsh on well intentioned, but misguided teachers? Because of the damage and destructive effects they will do to those who follow them, Paul wishes them “cut off.” As a shepherd, I love my sheep. I still shoot foxes and coyotes on a regular basis, and I don’t feel sorry about doing so. I am protecting the sheep and my other animals. I am caring for those that God has put under my care. My compassion for the sheep compels me to protect them from becoming prey. Both Jesus Christ and Paul refer to these false prophets and false teachers with another canine illustration: “wolves” (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:28-31). I have drug off enough ripped open dead carcasses of sheep and cried over torn and shredded lambs not to care what happens. A shepherd who runs and hides in fear or who doesn’t take his job seriously to protect the flock from wolves is a “hireling” (John 10:12). Being “nice” to foxes, wolves, coyotes, or mountain lions is not my calling. Their aims and goals in life are opposite of my own. It is, after all, a life and death matter.

    The Apostle Paul also pronounces that anyone – even “an angel from heaven” – that preaches any gospel contrary to Paul’s gospel is “accursed” (Galatians 1:8,9). Is Paul being harsh, intolerant, rude, and narrow-minded, or is he doctrinally correct?

    Paul confronts the idolatrous Athenian philosophers as being “too superstitious” (Acts 17:22) and ignorantly worshiping a god they don’t even know (vs. 23). If you’ve ever had any experience witnessing to educated philosophers, you’ll see the issue immediately. “Superstitious” – a term no modern bible version I’ve checked ever uses – is a term a philosopher would use to describe some uncivilized pagan witchdoctor in a loincloth with a bone through his nose and beating a drum in the jungles of Africa. He would never see himself or his own beliefs as being superstitious. Nor would he ever consider himself as “ignorant” – though Paul uses both terms to their faces. Why it doesn’t occur to people that education is not equivalent to wisdom is interesting. I’ve known many well-educated scholars who are pathetically ignorant fools. Paul’s choice of wording has the necessary effect – forcing the Athenians to pay close attention as he unfolds the truth of the Creator God and holding them accountable for their rejection of him and the judgment to come. He commands them to repent and turn to the true God (v. 30,31). He gets mixed results. But a few do get saved. Boy, Paul, you sure “blew your opportunity” to get into the school system there and reach the Epicureans. Why beat them over the head with the Bible, Paul? You could have gotten a lot more in Sunday school if you had used more complimentary language to these scholars instead of such demeaning terms. Were Paul’s methods of evangelism scriptural? Or are some modern methods unscriptural?

    What about the first New Testament martyr, Stephen? Was he killed because he was rude and insulting to his fellow Jews with his statement: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51) or was it when he called them “betrayers and murderers” (vs. 52)? For a Jew to refer to his fellow Jews as “uncircumcised” was to equate them with Gentiles – who the Jews considered to be unclean dogs. Or was Stephen murdered for the content of the scriptural sermon he preached? Was he filled with the Spirit when he said those words to them? We are not left to wonder. Before Stephen begins his message he is said to be chosen because he was a “man full of the Holy Ghost and faith” (6:5) and again at the end of his message (7:55): “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost . . .” So, the Holy Ghost speaks rather pointedly (and rudely) through the mouth of Stephen when dealing with those who resist the words of the Holy Ghost – words which Stephen had just quoted and referenced. The Bible says, “they were cut to the heart” (7:54). Indeed. Such is the power of God’s words. And their reaction to God’s words gave Stephen “cause” to be so confrontational, after all he had seen how they reacted before in other settings, and could see how they were reacting when we was preaching to them at that moment.

    And time would fail me to tell of Elijah who was accused by the king of being a troublemaker (I Kings 18:17). Elijah turns the tables on the king by turning around the accusation and using it against him (vs. 18) because of the wicked King’s defiant rebellion and disobedience to the words of God. Elijah repeatedly “mocked” (vs. 27) the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 false prophets of the grove, making fun of their religious faith and fervent devotional exercises (I Kings 18:17-40). Outnumbered 850 to one, Elijah puts it to them. Was he being sarcastic when he tells them to holler louder because their god may be unavailable – because he is gone, or busy, or talking, or running an errand, or maybe he’s asleep and needs to be woke up? Was Elijah being snarky? Rude? Was he right to say such things and act in such a manner? Was God leading him? Yes or no? If he wasn’t in the will of God then why did God answer Elijah’s prayer that day in such dramatic fashion? Was the contest on Mt. Carmel important? Did Elijah’s mocking have a point? Did Elijah’s actions force the issue, compelling the people to make a decision about whether to follow God or not (v. 21, 39)? Did Elijah take the sword in hand that day and execute the prophets of Baal (vs. 40) as if he were killing predators preying on God’s flock?

    One might argue that only Christ sees the hearts of men and we do not, therefore we cannot act as Christ did in rebuking others. While we cannot directly see into the hearts of men, we can have spiritual discernment, because the scripture says “ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20). The scriptures also declare, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:4,5). So, by careful observation of words and deeds, we are told that we can discern heart matters to a great degree. Paul commanded Timothy: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2).

    We can also watch men’s reactions to God’s words, as Stephen did in the previous example, because the scriptures discern man’s heart. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus said, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47). See the Jews’ reaction to Christ’s words in the following verse (v. 48). They accuse Christ of being devil possessed. That reaction speaks volumes to the observant reader about their defiled hearts.

    These are only a few of the examples of many persons in the Bible who were used of God to rebuke God’s people and/or the heathen (scholars and such) with sometimes rude and sarcastic words. That God can and does use sarcasm, and even initiates it through the mouths of his servants at times (II Peter 1:21), is evident to anyone who will check the scriptures. There are many more examples that could be given.

    Modern Christians too often like to have their ears tickled (II Timothy 4:3.4) because “they will not endure sound doctrine.” Most are soft and don’t like to hear “hard truth.” They are like Israel of old, when Isaiah received this message from the Lord, saying, “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word . . .” (Isaiah 30:8-12).

    Peter Milktoast sermonettes with feel-good positive thinking and entertaining humor may tickle the ears but can never show the sinner his heart’s greatest need. “Something good is going to happen to you today” is not the gospel. Marshmallow preaching that tastes sweet going down, but is mostly full of hot air, is neither filling nor effective, although it is popular in Laodicea. Calling sin what it is, without watering it down, is what’s needed. Confrontational is what it is – straight and to the point. No fluff. No dilution. No dressing it up. No softening it down. No beating around the bush like a politician. Unvarnished truth is sometimes hard to hear, but it is what’s needed to cut to the heart of the matter.

    Modern professing Christians are seldom “soldiers for Christ” (II Timothy 2:3) who swing the sword of the Spirit in spiritual battles for souls. They recoil at the thought that the prophets, apostles, and Christ were not always as “nice” as they perceive themselves to be. Yet they often know so little scripture and are unable to defend even the basic truths of scripture (poorly trained soldiers). “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14).

    “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (II Timothy 2:7).

  9. MIn, I know you have concerns, and it’s not that I’m being bull headed about this. I’m sorry you are under the impression that my posts are “railing” on people for not agreeing with my premises here of late. I feel that you are mistaking my passion for something else? It *is* a subject I’m fixated on currently, because as I explained in my comment at your site, I’m seeing the great falling away of friends and family from the truth because of a “Christianity” with no “final authority” to back it up. It’s one thing for pastors, scholars, or BJU among others, to claim that they believe in “inspiration” and the “inerrancy of scripture” but upon deeper questioning, will they admit that they believe only the original autographs are “inspired” and “inerrant”? That’s been my experience. What are your thoughts on that? Is “innerrancy” important as far as God keeping His promises is concerned?

    I did come over to your site and both read and commented upon your post regarding my “skeptical” approach to the matter of certain Bible translations taking liberties with God’s holy words. If it is skeptical to report historical facts (with as many documented quotes as possible), to show where manuscripts disagree, and to use many scriptures in the process, then why aren’t all the Bible colleges in America being branded as divisive for doing this same thing to their own ends? My emphasis has always been on what God Himself says about His word in the Bible. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual, as we’re told to do. In my experience, more than a few professors in Bible colleges leave God quite neatly out of the equation when it comes to the matter of “textual criticism” and “scribal errors” and “men leaning on their own understanding”…were Moses, David, and Peter perfect? Yet God used them, to write His God-breathed, inspired words. Is it heresy to believe that God would divinely protect His inspired words as he promises to do in Psalm 119:89, Psalm 12:6-7, Matt. 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33, Psalm 33:11, and on and on?

    I have not seen any evidence for fruit in terms of the modern Bible versions, not on a widespread basis. I’m not saying that there aren’t true Christians out there reading and preaching truth out of their NIVs, etc, I’m just comparing the 300 years of impact the English world had on the continent with the KJV Bible as their tool. The Great Awakening, the great missionary movement of the 1700s-1900s, all the powerful preachers and revivals that came as a result. Contrast that to the following write up of Dr. Samuel Gipp:

    “Today’s modern translations haven’t been able to spark a revival in a Christian school, let alone be expected to close a bar. In fact, since the arrival of our modern English translations, beginning with the ASV of 1901, America has seen:
    1. God and prayer kicked out of our public school.
    2. Abortion on demand legalised.
    3. Homosexuality accepted nationally as an “alternate life style”.
    4. In home pornography via TV and VCR. (and internet)
    5. Child kidnapping and pornography running rampant.
    6. Dope has become an epidemic.
    7. Satanism is on the rise.
    “If this is considered a “revival” then let’s turn back to the King James to STOP it.”

    I’m alarmed at how America has backslidden in the past 100 years, I want more than that for my children and anyone who cares enough to read here, and perhaps be stimulated into doing their own research. Even if they aren’t convinced that it’s the KJV Bible only that we must rely on…perhaps they’ll have a better grasp on the holy sovereignty of our loving Father who wrote the Bible as they see how He preserved it through the fires of the torched saints and Bible piles of the Middle Ages…

    By God’s grace, I will not be like Peter, preferring the warmth of a campfire to the lonely firing line (John 18:18).

  10. Farmer John, I don’t know about everyone else, but I definitely got an education after reading the many Biblical examples you gave defending that not-oft-taught-on side of Christ-likeness! I pray to be more like tbe “noble” Bereans that you mentioned in the beginning, who searched the scriptures daily for the truth…

    Your encouragement to quote scripture when struggling with temptations, as Christ did to ward off the attacks of Satan, is exactly a point my dad stresses in his teaching…if everyone had a few scriptures that they relied on for this purpose, it would soon become a habit to draw one of those “swords” out of their “arsenal” and with them, ward off the fiery darts of the evil one. Yes–how amazing it would have been if Eve had learned this lesson from the start…I guess it’s the nature of humanity to not get things right the first time. :O/

    The inability to cross-reference is a devastating reality…especially when you cross reference the title “Morning star” in the new versions and find out that it refers to both Lucifer and Jesus (Is. 14:12, 2 Peter 1:19, Rev. 2:28, 22:16)…when I found out the NASB cross referenced its readers from a passage on Satan in Isaiah 14:12 to these other passages in the NT, I began to shake and weep b/c Luciferians and the New Age religion have long claimed that Jesus and Lucifer are either the same, or brothers…they are able to promote this agenda in new Bibles…Many other cross references are lost, for example, in Genesis 3:5. Alter the word “gods” and the cross references to Psalm 82, I Corinthians 8:5, and 2 Corinthians 4:4 will be destroyed.

    You have a way of making one feel as if they were in the crowd that day, when Jesus trashed the temple…kinda amplifies my incredible wimpiness for wanting to be the “nice guy” towards friends who hold to “damnable heresies” such as Harold Camping’s prophesying that the world is about to end…I definitely think though that this area of Christ-likeness is beyond my capabilities. We women can leave that to you men, right? I just shrink from hurting people, and would rather kindly disagree and pray for an opening later. I guess I’d have to “search the scriptures” on that one…which would probably be to follow my husband’s leading and steer clear! On a platform such as my blog, and in face to face chats about scripture, I have boldness when I know what I believe is the truth, but even so, I’ve always felt it important to temper it with grace. On the other hand…that word picture of wolves tearing into little lambs doesn’t settle well. I do get riled when I see families torn apart because they’ve bought into whatever brand of deception happened to sink its hooks into their lives. I’ve seen that a little too much lately.

    Lots of thoughts going through my head after my second read-through of this post, John! I’m thinking by the scripture passages you highlighted, the “Christian churches” in America are about as lukewarm as they can get. Did they get that way b/c the leaven wasn’t swept away and dealt with as it arose? I’m thinking so.

  11. Mary, I do remember reading one of your posts on how your view changed about opossums, after catching one that had just killed your laying hens and was eating another that wasn’t dead yet. Suddenly, these little furry critters weren’t the cute, nosy little creatures wandering around the yard, they were now seen as vicious predators. If I recall correctly, your reaction culminated in a scream and great anger. The result of which caused your hubby to extinguish that threat with methodical accuracy. I recall also your feelings about seeing a pet opossum after that encounter. Your eyes have been opened to reality!

    I have shot and killed about 8 or 9 opossums so far this winter – all near the chicken house after dark, and I shot 17 opossums one winter past, 15 of which were INSIDE the chicken house.

    Wolves and foxes are beautiful creatures, unless of course you happen to own another creature that is their standard prey. Then you don’t view them quite the same way. Recognizing the potential threat, you take measures to either prevent losses and/or eliminate them.

    In Paul’s address to the elders at Ephesus, he said “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).

    It sounds as if an overseer’s responsibilities include not only feeding, but protection as well. This is spiritual protection from false teachers who speak “perverse things” and draw away disciples after them. Paul’s two-a-day warnings with tears, reminding them to “watch,” was not to go unheeded. He knew what would happen, and predicted it. I can tell you what will happen if you don’t protect your livestock from predators – and I’m no prophet. I can tell you what happens to churches when the leaven of sin, evil, wickedness, malice, and false doctrines are allowed to come in unimpeded – there is a predictable and deadly outcome including great loss.

    What about Jeremiah 23:36, where God says the people have “perverted the words of the living God”? When new bible versions pervert the words of the living God, are those version something Paul’s warnings above apply to? If not, why not? If new versions are bringing in leaven into the churches, what should be done? The scriptures are clear. Purge it out.

    I remember John the Baptist’s words to the Pharisees and Sadducees in harsh rebuke: “But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7) He then reminds them of God’s wrath in terms of “unquenchable fire” (vs. 12), to which they should heed.

    John the Baptist “came in the spirit and power of Elijah” as says the Scripture: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:16-17). Same kind of guy, same confrontational preaching style, same kind of condemnation towards the false religion of his day, same provoking of a king. And as Elijah, God used John the Baptist as an instrument to turn the hearts of Israel back to himself.

    John wasn’t kind to the Pharisees and Sadducees at all, not even respectful, even though they came out to the desert to see him to satisfy their curiosity. He knew their wicked influence on the people to turn them away from God and his words, and to replace God’s truth with their own traditions and scholarship. He publicly rebuked them. Popularity and acceptance were obviously NOT John’s motivation. There is no such thing as a popular prophet of God. False prophets are often popular, and are worth about a dime a dozen.

    Things haven’t changed. Religious traditions and modern scholarship still stumble God’s people every day, keeping them from God’s truth. It is Satanic. It is despicable. And unfortunately, it is common. It ought to be rebuked, but where are the Elijah’s, the John the Baptist’s, the Apostle Paul’s who will recognize the situation and stand up and do their job? No wonder America has fallen so far away. Ichabod has been written over the majority of the churches. Laodiceans hardly think their churches need anything – and certainly not rebuke, although that’s exactly what Jesus did – rebuke them sharply.

    There is a place for public rebuke and a place for private rebuke. Here’s a way for someone to give a silent scriptural rebuke . . . are you ready? “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue (Proverbs 25:23)” So next time you hear “backbiting” give ’em “the look.” Now go practice in front of a mirror, ’til you get the hang of it. It works too! It will stop further sin almost instantaneously!

    Here’s a few more KJV verses on “rebuking” for the diligent disciple to ponder: Proverbs 9:8; 24:24,25; 27:5; Luke 17:3; Titus 2:15

  12. HA…yes, I was mopping the kitchen earlier today and mulling over your comment about weeping while holding a shredded lamb in your hands, and I just happened to RECALL that profound rage that swept over me, when I ran down to the field pen that awful morning, to find that nasty possum eating my chicken ALIVE from the behind up. Wow. I couldn’t remember ever being that angry before in my life. So yes…I can better identify with that scene vividly before my eyes.

    How many times have I read that scripture about the wolves entering in…and naively thought that the wolves would be easy to spot. Never thought about looking for them amongst the sheep. THAT is profound to a trusting gal like me. Definitely gave new meaning to the idea of looking to the sheep for the wolves.

    I’m afraid if I practiced an “angry countenance” in front of my mirror I would end up laughing hysterically at myself. But that is a golden verse! ;O) I will look up the rest of them as well, thanks, John!

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