What Does the Bible Say About.../Part 16 | John Ankerberg Show

What Does the Bible Say About…/Part 16

By: Dr. Thomas Figart
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By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2004
What is dropsy? Can you catch it? Is it a sin to be rich? The Parable of the Fig tree. These are a few of the questions plaguing students at a Christian School. Dr. Figart tackles the answers in this installment.

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Students from Manheim Christian Day School (PA) ask Questions About the Bible

Answered by Dr. Thomas Figart

In Luke 14:2-6, what is dropsy, and what did it inflict, or how did you catch it?

Question from BK: “In Luke 14:2-6, what is dropsy, and what did it inflict, or how did you catch it?”

Answer: The term “dropsy” is from the Greek word hydropsis, and is a heart disease in which the body retains water, called an edema (“to swell”) usually affecting the ankles, but in some cases can cause swelling of the abdomen and even the lungs. Dropsy inflicts people with poor veins; so you cannot catch it from someone; it is not contagious. It is simply an abnormal bodily condition. The Holman Christian Standard Bible, translates Luke 14:2 as follows: “There in front of Him was a man whose body was swollen with liquid.”

What did Jesus mean when He said in John 7:6 that for His brothers anytime is right?

Question from BN: “What did Jesus mean when He said in John 7:6 that for His brothers anytime is right?”

Answer: When you read the entire paragraph, it becomes clear. The earthly brothers of Jesus (not the Twelve Apostles) asked Him why He was performing miracles secretly in small towns, when He could go to Jerusalem and do them publicly, and “show yourself to the world” (John 7:3,4). “For not even His brothers were believing in Him” (John 7:5). In other words, His brothers were still, at that time, part of “the world.” Therefore, in John 7:6 He said to them, “My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always at hand.” It would not be until 6 months later that Jesus would go up to Jerusalem, at the Feast of the Passover, to be publicly revealed, and rejected as Messiah, crucified, and three days later rise from the dead.

But as far as His brothers were concerned, they could go up to Jerusalem at any time, be­cause they were still part of the world and would not be denounced. So Jesus waited until later to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles: “But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself went up, not publicly, but as it were, in secret” (John 7:10). In verse 8 Jesus had said, “Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because my time is not fully come.” Jesus deliberately waited until the crowds were gathered, and then went up, because He could then move about more freely, and not be taken and condemned, because, as He said, “My time is not yet fully come (verse 8).

In Luke 12:33, does it really mean that we should go sell our posses­sions? I understand giving to the poor, but is it a sin if someone is rich (like Bill Gates); is he sinning by having more money and possessions than the rest of us?

Question from LM: In Luke 12:33, does it really mean that we should go sell our posses­sions? I understand giving to the poor, but is it a sin if someone is rich (like Bill Gates); is he sinning by having more money and possessions than the rest of us?

Answer: As in the previous question, so here, the context must be considered to clear up any misunderstanding. All through Luke chapter 12 Jesus had been admonishing His disciples to fear God, because they are of more value than sparrows (verse 6); that God’s care of us is so specific that He has not only counted the 140,000 hairs on our head, but has given a number to each hair Verses 6, 7)!

Then in verse 15 Jesus warned against greed, because our real life is not measured by the abundance of things which we possess. In verses 18-20 He tells about a wealthy man, concerned only with his treasures, and says, “So is the man who lays up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God.” He follows this with several illustrations of God’s care once again, and then the verse in question, “Sell your possessions and give to charity.”

He does not say it is sinful to be rich, and He does not say that we should sell all our posses­sions! What He does say is, “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” Money is not the root of all evil; the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10)!

When God blesses us with riches, our attitude should be, “Now I can give more to the needy, the poor, and to God’s work.” In 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul says, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered you.” This is the principle: The more you have, the more you are responsible to give—regularly! This is being “rich toward God.”

What does the Lord mean when He says, ‘I am come to send fire on the earth and what will I, if it be already kindled?’

Question from ZD: “What does the Lord mean when He says, ‘I am come to send fire on the earth and what will I, if it be already kindled?’”

Answer: Jesus came into the world to settle the sin question. For those who believe in Him, their sins are forgiven forever, and they are given eternal life (John 3:16). For those who do not believe, they are “condemned already, because they do not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Jesus’ all-sufficient work on the Cross, and His resurrection, have fulfilled the first purpose. When He returns to earth to judge the unbelievers, delivering them to the fiery judgment of eternal hell, he will fulfill the purpose for the unbeliever.

Meanwhile, the fire has already been kindled; there has never been peace on earth, only division, as He says in Luke 12:51-59. But when Jesus establishes His kingdom of 1,000 years on earth, it will be a kingdom of peace! (Isaiah 2:1-4).

What’s the meaning of the parable of the fig tree? Sincerely, I don’t get it.

Question from TZ: “What’s the meaning of the parable of the fig tree? Sincerely, I don’t get it.”

Answer: The simplest explanation of the parable of the fig tree here in Luke 13:1-9 is given in verses 1-5, where Jesus repeats “Except ye, repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” The parable then explains that the owner of the vineyard came and sought fruit on the fig tree and found none. Those people who did not repent are the fruitless fig tree. Christ continues, “Behold these three years I come seeking fruit and find none.” The vinedresser asks for another year so he can try to make the tree fruitful, and if no, then it can be cut down. There is no ending to this parable in Luke. Were those people who refused to repent at the message of Jesus “cut down”? We just do not know; but they had many opportunities to believe in Christ. Yet, He came into His own world, and His own people did not receive Him.

The parable of the fig tree in the two other Gospels (Matthew 21:17-21; Mark 11: 12-14, 20- 24) is applied with an entirely different subject in mind, namely, the importance of the disciples having faith to perform great things for God.

Read Part 17

Dr. Thomas Figart

Dr. Thomas Figart

Dr. Thomas Figart

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