Leaven and Bread

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.  And He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, ‘Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened?  Having eyes, see ye not?, and having ears, hear ye not?, and do ye not remember?
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’
They say unto Him, ‘Twelve.’  ‘And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’  And He said unto them, ‘How is it that ye do not understand?’” Mark 8:14-21  (KJB)

Leaven is an ingredient which causes bread to rise giving the appearance of being more than what it is.  It is puffed up.  It is often used in Scripture as representative of evil and its influence in people, and doctrines of religion and men.

The leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Herodians which the Sadducees were part of and was more political than religious.  The Pharisees were always twisting Scripture to fit their own understanding to keep the people in bondage to them, and their understanding of Scripture.  They put burdens on others that they would not do themselves.

I realize there is more to understand in the above verses than of leaven, but it was the words of Jesus ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.’ which aroused my attention this morning.

Using Scripture to control others as did the Pharisees, and they tried to control Jesus too but could not; is an evil beyond description.  The preacher, the messenger of the word of God is to proclaim the truth of the word of God [Scripture] with clarity, understanding, and love letting the word and the Holy Spirit convict, comfort, encourage, and draw the lost, condemned soul to God.

Having a “Must do” list in order to be saved is leaven to the Scripture.  Salvation, sanctification, and glorification is solely the work of God.  Let us leave it there.

Your Church Discipline

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  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 of sincerity and truth.  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”  1 Corinthians 5:6-13  (KJB)

References:  1 Corinthians 3:21;  2 Timothy 2:17;  Exodus 12:15;  John 17:15;  1 John 5:19;  Deuteronomy 13:5

Growing by the Numbers

Matthew 13:31-33

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: 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.’
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.’” Matthew 13:31-33 (KJB)

These two parables if you will notice are placed between the parable of the wheat and the tares, and the explanation of the wheat and the tares. This was intentional so that we might see His intent of the two parables. He is warning us of the deception of the enemy. We all like to see growth in our churches. Hopefully we mean by growth – people being called to Christ through faith in the shed blood of Jesus’s death, His burial, and resurrection. Too many times churches have crowds, members, and numbers, but no salvations. “But Oh, we had a great crowd. There was excitement in the air.” something along this line said, and everybody is feeling great; but is Jesus truly praised, worshiped, and glorified?

I. The growth of the mustard seed in this parable would normally be to become the bush of an herb.

* + It, however, becomes like an “Oak tree”.
* + How is it that the power, popularity, and prestige of Christianity has increased in past years?

II. The devil likes nothing better than for the church and the kingdom to have an unholy, ungodly, supernatural growth.

* + We are accepting people into congregations that call themselves Christian, but they have had no personal experience with Jesus.
* + They are still in their sins, unforgiven, unredeemed.
* + They have not been regenerated by the power of the Spirit of God, they have not been justified, there is no sanctification, and until they have these things they certainly will not be glorified in the presence of Jesus.

III. The Psalmist wrote in the song, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1).

* + Rather than relying on “fire under the altar” (1 Kings 18:23, 25) why can the church not depend on the fire of God?
* +We depend too much on the methods of the flesh.
* + May God forgive us, and may we get on our knees, rebuild our altars and seek the power and the face of God.

IV. Leaven, in every case in Scripture, Old and New Testaments, is seen as a symbol of evil.

* + There is not one instance where it is seen as a symbol of a good growth of puffiness.
* + Some have taken Leviticus 23:17, and taught that this is a picture of the leaven being good.
* + The woman represents false religion; she could even be represented by Jezebel who was the wife and queen of Ahab.

V. Jesus told His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

* + Jesus was referring to their legalism and false doctrine that had bound them in their sins and iniquities.
* + Paul the apostle warns of the dangers of letting iniquity/sin stay and permeate a congregation in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”.

VI. The kingdom of heaven grows in every individual who knows, who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

* + Yet, numerically, it can grow in pretense and hypocrisy.
* + False doctrine destroys unity, while those who teach false doctrine talk of uniformity – you give up the truth and we will have unity – and accuse those who stand for truth as the ones who cause disunity.

-by Tim A. Blankenship
For further study you can go here and here

Doctrines of Death

There are teachings of men and religions which are doctrines of death; not life. Teachings which bind in sin, and offers no freedom from sin, are doctrines of death.

Of course when we live in a society and culture of sin; who knows what is sin? Who knows what is right and/or wrong? According to our culture today the only thing wrong, is to say sin is wrong, if that sin is how they are living. In other words to call adultery a sin is a sin, because you have offended the sinner.

Jesus came to give life to those who were living death sentences. We are all living a death sentence until we come to Christ Jesus Himself. Jesus saw the teachings of the Pharisees, and of Herod as leaven. In Scripture “leaven” or yeast is a type of sin which permeates, and goes throughout the “bread” causing it to rise, or puff up. Hear the words of Jesus:

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” Mark 8:14-15 (KJV)

Jesus addresses much of the leaven of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. They were making people more disciples of hell than they themselves were with their teaching. Herod was a political leader; and of that we need to be aware as well. Jesus called him “That fox” (Luke 13:32).

Religion and politics mix well when they are corrupt. The religion of the day; in the day of Jesus and ours, and politics are deceptive, and corrupt. The religion that mixes well with politics is the religion that believes politics is the answer for mankind’s ills, and works to attain God’s favor.

There is life when one comes to Jesus believing Him, and turning from sin to life in Him.

Mustard Seed, and Leaven within the Kingdom of Heaven

“The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 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.” 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.”  ~Jesus  (Matthew 13:31-33)

Day 79 – Sin in the Church

There is probably nothing more sure and clear than the title of this post.  “Sin in the Church”.  To ask, “Is there sin in our churches?” is a very unnecessary question.  Where there is a church without sin; it is of their own confession; and not the truth.  Besides where there is people there will be sin.  By that statement I do not mean to lessen the gravity and seriousness of sin in the church.

In my reading this morning of 1 Corinthians 3 – 12 it was quite apparent that the apostle is writing this church to confront a major problem they have.  First of all they seem just a bit proud of their “Spirituality” and “love” since they have tolerated an adulterous affair to continue to go on in their midst (chapter 5).

The apostle addresses their immaturity at first,

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”  1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (KJV)

We see there are other problems of sin within the congregation as well, “strife and divisions”, arguing and debating over who is the best preacher, and probably other things.  Too many times in today’s society Christians “wear their feelings on their sleeves”, are easily puffed up, easily knocked down,  and easily offended.  That is the height of immaturity.

Paul’s intent for writing this letter is not to shame or offend this people,

“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.  Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”  4:14-16

We live in a time where “Tolerance” is king.  At least much of laws are written with tolerance in mind.  What is the idea of tolerance?  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Tolerance” –

1. the act or practice of tolerating; esp. : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own  2: capacity for enduring or adapting (as to a poor environment) 3: the allowable deviation from a standard (as of size).

Today’s tolerance police would be proud of the Corinthian church.  They loved this couple so very much, and were so very tolerant they were about to bring the wrath and judgment of God upon themselves, and the whole church.  The apostle was not pleased when he heard of this, and this very well could be the main reason for writing this letter; the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.  Hear what Paul told the church to do with the man:

 “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  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.”  5:4-8

If you will notice Paul’s concern was at least  in part for the man to be delivered from this grievous sin.  He was also very concerned with what it was doing and would continue doing if the rebelliousness and evil were not dealt with.

There is much to learn and hear for the guidance of the post modern church.  There is sin in the church today that needs to be dealt with.  I hear of adulterous affairs going on between couples within some local congregations; and if these sins and others are not dealt with then those churches will fall.

The first step in dealing with sin in the church is for each individual to keep their accounts short with God.  Read the Bible daily, hiding the word in your heart that you sin not against the LORD.  By taking heed to the Word of God their is cleansing and forgiveness.

To tolerate sin in one’s own life is not love; that is arrogance.  To tolerate sin within the church is not love, nor is it spiritual; it is pride and rebellion.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Mark – 031511

Reading today from Mark 8 – 10.

There is much mention of leaven throughout scripture.  It was forbidden in the house of a Hebrew on Passover; it is a symbol of delay, and God commanded them to make haste concerning their departure from Egypt.  Leaven also symbolizes the spread of pride and evil; it is puffed up with self and selfish ambition; with no time or room for God.

In my observations of scripture there is no time when leaven is used as a symbol or type of anything good.  For today’s observation we will look at the lesson Jesus gives concerning the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod;

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.  And He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.’  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’  And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, ‘Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?  Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?  When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ They say unto him, Twelve.  ‘And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ And they said, Seven.  And He said unto them, ‘How is it that ye do not understand?'”  Mark 8:14-21 (KJV)

These verses begin by telling the reader that the disciples had gotten into the boat with only one loaf of bread, and no more.  This gives us a clue as to the disciples thoughts on bread, and their misunderstanding.  Jesus says, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.”  Now His disciples begin thinking that Jesus is concerned about the lack of bread.

Jesus reminds them of the miracles of the fish and the loaves in the feeding of 5,000 men, not counting women and children; and of the miracle of the loaves to 4,000 men, not counting women and children; and their worried about bread? They are not understanding.

Jesus is speaking of an arrogant, pride filled heart; a puffed up attitude of one’s self and leadership.  With an attitude similar to the Pharisees and of Herod there is nothing but destruction awaiting that type of person.  Have you ever noticed with the use of leaven that it never adds anything to taste, or even to its content.  Leaven/Yeast merely puffs up a loaf of bread, makes it appear to be more than what it is; when all it really is is simply air.

The thing the disciples needed to understand, and that many professing believers of our day need to understand is who Jesus really is.  It had not quite clicked in their hearts just yet.  They had witnessed the miracles of the loaves and fishes, the opening of the eyes of the blind; and the healing of the deaf ears; but yet they were not fully seeing who Jesus is, nor hearing all that He said.

In just a bit Peter makes his confession of who Jesus is, “Thou art the Christ.” and in Matthew (16:16) the words, “Son of the living God” are spoken.

Sin and pride; its leaven; blinds eyes, and closes hearts to the understanding of who Jesus is.

-Tim A. Blankenship

False Doctrine

“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.” Matthew 13:33 (KJV).

We come now to the matter of the “Leaven”. I see what others say when they see it as a symbol of good within the church, but it doesn’t fit with the rest of Scripture. Leaven, in every case in Scripture, Old and New Testaments, is seen as a symbol of evil. There is not one instance where it is seen as a symbol of a good growth of puffiness. In Exodus 12:15-19 the children of Israel in preparing to leave Egypt baked bread without leaven, they needed to be more concerned with the urgency of leaving rather than waiting on the dough to rise. Leaven puffs up. Some have taken Leviticus 23:17, and taught that this is a picture of the leaven being good. If we would understand the significance of this offering we would see this bread represents the one offering it, a redeemed individual, who being redeemed is still touched by sin and still dealing with sin, yet received by God. The leaven in verse 33 represents false doctrine.

Let’s back up for a moment and look at the beginning of this verse. Jesus is still dealing with the kingdom of heaven, and notice the “woman”. The woman represents false religion; she could even be represented by Jezebel who was the wife and queen of Ahab. A woman is seen as false religion in the Revelation, as the woman riding the beast (Revelation 17:3-6). The doctrine and teaching of Jezebel is seen in Jesus’s letter to the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-23). I do not know the specific reason a woman is used to represent false doctrine, and deception. It just seems to go back to Jezebel who was a very wicked, godless, self-aggrandizing woman. The woman in this parable is guilty of secretly placing leaven in “three measures of meal”, and leaven once it gets into bread dough it permeates the whole batch of dough.

Jesus told His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Jesus was referring to their legalism and false doctrine that had bound them in their sins and iniquities. Paul the apostle warns of the dangers of letting iniquity/sin stay and permeate a congregation in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”. Since Paul says “Ye are unleavened”, then it must be that the “New lump” he is referring to is a lump of bread dough without leaven.

The modern day religion called Christianity is overwhelmed with a numerical growth. This growth is often done by entertainment, showmanship, salesmanship, and a “fire under the altar” (Read 1 Kings 18).  False doctrine is often associated with much of the aforementioned.  I know that there will be some who read this or hear this that are going to think or say, “Tim doesn’t believe in growing a church.” That is not what I am saying. I want to let God build His Church. Let us who are His children, the children of His kingdom planted in this world, proclaim the gospel as we have been commissioned, as we have been called, but let’s leave the saving to His hands, and the power of His spirit.

Christianity is also getting deeper and deeper into heretical teachings. When we have a document signed by good and godly men calling for the gathering of Evangelicals and Catholics for unity, and the Catholic church has announced anathema upon the gospel of Jesus Christ – saved by grace alone, through faith alone – then how could we ever join hands with someone who hates the pure gospel of Christ? There are those in Evangelical circles, also, who teach a wimpy Jesus dying on the cross, defeated by the devil on the cross, and that is not belief in the cross of Jesus; when the truth of the matter is that Jesus won the battle for sin, death, and hell, and put the devil in his place by His death on the cross. The devil never touched Jesus in His death. He was smitten by God, His own Father (Isaiah 53:4). He paid the sin debt which was owed to His Father by you and me.

It is leaven that puffs up. Read 1 Corinthians 4:18-19; 5:2, 6-8; 8:1. Puffing up is usually evidence of pride. There can be no pride in the true Church of our God. We humbly bow before Him in worship. We have nothing to boast of except that our salvation is the work of God. We boast of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan, hates the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and fears her when she is on her knees, in humility before her Lord. He is, however, still at work sending in the tares amongst the wheat, planted in this world, trying to gain a foothold, and strangle the witness, testimony, and power of the Christian. Sure there is growth in many churches across our land, ie., the USA; but do we care so much about numbers in our churches that we would forsake the truth, holy living, and our fellowship with the Lord Himself, just to receive recognition from others? Are we willing to forsake the essential doctrines of the faith to draw a crowd? We better deal with those who are teaching wrong, and deal with them quickly. If we don’t we lead ourselves to destruction.

Jesus desires that all the lost be saved, and His Church to grow, but only as it rest in Him. She [the Church] cannot have genuine, solid spiritual growth except through the Lord Jesus. Satan is at work to infiltrate, ensnare, and bring the works of Christ to nothing.

The kingdom of heaven grows in every individual who knows, who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet, numerically, it can grow in pretense and hypocrisy. False growth is hypocritical and deceiving – to self, and others. It may have the appearance of God’s blessing, but actually be far from God’s blessing, causing the lost, condemned world to have no recourse from hell.

False doctrine destroys unity, while those who teach false doctrine talk of uniformity – you give up the truth and we will have unity – and accuse those who stand for truth as the ones who cause disunity. There can be no unity, except it be by the Biblical doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the doctrines of Christ Himself. False doctrine “puffs up”. It gives the appearance of something which is not there. It is deceptive and always detracts from Jesus and the truth.

-Tim A. Blankenship