I Love It When This Happens

1 Corinthians 1:26–31 (ESV)

26 For consider your calling, brothers:

not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”


1 Corinthians 1:26–31 (NA28)

26 Βλέπετε γὰρ τὴν κλῆσιν ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί,


οὐ πολλοὶ σοφοὶ κατὰ σάρκα,

οὐ πολλοὶ δυνατοί,

οὐ πολλοὶ εὐγενεῖς·

27 ἀλλὰ

τὰ μωρὰ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός,

ἵνα καταισχύνῃ τοὺς σοφούς,


τὰ ἀσθενῆ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός,

ἵνα καταισχύνῃ τὰ ἰσχυρά,

28 καὶ

τὰ ἀγενῆ τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὰ ἐξουθενημένα ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός,

τὰ μὴ ὄντα,

ἵνα τὰ ὄντα καταργήσῃ,


29 ὅπως μὴ καυχήσηται πᾶσα σὰρξ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ.


30 ἐξ αὐτοῦ δὲ ὑμεῖς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,

ὃς ἐγενήθη σοφία ἡμῖν ἀπὸ θεοῦ,


τε καὶ




31 ἵνα καθὼς γέγραπται· ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν κυρίῳ καυχάσθω.



The Parable of the Sower: "Has the word bounced off me . . . ?"

Matthew 13:1–23 (ESV)

The Parable of the Sower

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“ ‘ “You will indeed hear but never understand,

and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

15  For this people’s heart has grown dull,

and with their ears they can barely hear,

and their eyes they have closed,

lest they should see with their eyes

and hear with their ears

and understand with their heart

and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

“So those who hear with faith ask themselves a series of questions as the story progresses. ‘Has the word bounced off me, like seed off the hard track that traverses the field? Has it begun to grow in me, so that I could face pressure, laughter from business associates, expulsion from kosher circles? And our children are growing up now. We must not be so ascetic; it’s not fair on the kids. We must be a bit more like everyone else, with the cares, the riches and the pleasures of life! Or am I just a very ordinary church member, but in my small corner producing some fruit, albeit only thirtyfold? Maybe God has given me a rather wider ministry and I can see growth sixtyfold? Maybe he has put me in responsible leadership; does he see hundredfold growth in me?’”

“Those were the sorts of questions the original hearers and readers of the parables would have been asking themselves. The Sower is the same. The seed is the same. The different results depend on the soils, how we respond to the Sower and his seed. What fruit we produce will depend entirely on that. In this first parable we have a reflection of what was happening in the mission of Jesus, and the varied responses to which it drove the hearers. The parable is a mirror: it shows people where they stand. It is held up to the faces of Jesus’ hearers. It was held up to Matthew’s readers. And it is no less challenging today.”

Michael Green, The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 156.


Cults, or “alternative religious movements,” whatever. It is important to know what a specific cult believes if you are speaking to a member of a group; knowing, for example, what Mormonism is all about is helpful if answering a Mormon’s questions about your beliefs, or framing good questions for them.

Lots of people, even Christians (who should know better), are uneasy with the “cult” label, because it brings up the “cult=bad, truth=good, and I believe the truth and so I’m good” scenario. If we’re uneasy because we don’t want to be rude, that’s understandable; if we’re uneasy because we don’t believe there is such a thing as religious truth, then we’ve got a problem.

Let’s assume that we do believe in truth in religion, that some things are true in matters of faith and some are false. If you are Christian, the limits of truth are set out in the Bible. It is God’s opinion on the matter, and our faithfulness to it can be measured relatively well. I understand fully that if you are a member of a group outside of the limits of Christianity, I will be a cult member to you. That’s ok, write your own blog.

Cults differ from Christianity in several important ways, but the name of the group is irrelevant. A Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Oneness Pentecostal, etc, will all claim to be Christians, but a simple inspection of Scripture will show that they mean different things by the words used.

Keeping it simple, cults will do one of the following:

1) de-God, God: make God less of a God, more of a man

2) deify man: make man into god

3) deny the deity of Christ

4) deny the humanity of Christ

Mormonism manages to do pretty much all four; Jehovah’s Witnesses #3 for certain; Gnosticism #4.

Check out Colossians 1; Philippians 2; John 1; 1 John 2, 4, & 2 John are the ONLY places in the Bible where the name AntiChrist occurs. For all the hype about that name, it might be a good idea to know what it’s about.

Scripture, the Bible, presents a problem for cults: God’s Word is clear and understandable. Cults must do one of the following with respect to the Bible:

1) ignore it (Islam)

2) “de-mytholigize” it (liberalism that has an anti-supernatural bias; ie., the miracles are myth, not truth)

3) supplant it (Mormonism. Gives lip service to Scripture but depends more upon other books).

4) mistranslate it (Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot get their doctrines out of any normal Bible, so they have created a translation that deliberately mistranslates key passages.

5) twist it (selectively quoting out of context, ignoring the intent of the author).

Is my church/Bible study/discussion group a cult? Ask yourself a few questions:

1. What do they believe about Jesus? Is He God with us, or something less?

2. Are you told that you will become a god, or become God, or something like that? This is Mormonism, and apparently from Witness Lee’s quotes, the teachings of the Local Church.

3. Can you freely fellowship with other Christians, or are you banned from others’ company?

4. Are you told you must become worthy of salvation? This is a denial of Grace, and very dangerous. It is also a universal mark of a cult.

5. Does your group use a strange Bible? Can the doctrines taught be found in any Bible, or only a unique one?

6. Can the teachings of your group be found without special Bible footnotes, or study guides? Would anyone, just using a good translation, be able to find the same doctrines?

7. Does your group use only selective verses for study, or are they read in full context?