Chapter 8

CHAPTER EIGHT

THE METHODS: NEW TESTAMENT PARABLES

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

  • Write the Key Verse from memory.
    • Define the word “parable.”
    • Explain why Jesus used parables.
    • Identify principles of evangelism in parables taught by Jesus.

KEY VERSE:

And with many such parables spake He the Word unto them, as they were able to hear it. (Mark 4:33)

INTRODUCTION

In the previous lesson you studied New Testament methods of evangelism. There are many New Testament parables which teach more about the evangelism process. A parable is a story which uses an example from the natural world to illustrate a spiritual truth. The actual meaning of the word “parable” is to “lay beside, to compare.” In parables, Jesus compared natural examples  with spiritual truths. A parable is an earthly story with a Heavenly meaning.

In this lesson you will study New Testament parables which teach principles of evangelism.

WHY PARABLES?

The disciples once asked Jesus why He used parables to teach spiritual truths:

And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speaketh thou unto them in parables? (Matthew 13:10)

Jesus answered:

. . .Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given. (Matthew 13:11)

Understanding of spiritual truths taught in parables was given to the disciples because they had spiritual minds. Those without spiritual minds heard the parables and failed to understand them. Spiritual truths can only be understood by a spiritual mind:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

A spiritually minded man is one who has been born again spiritually. Those with spiritual minds understand parables. Those with carnal, sinful minds cannot understand.

PARABLES ABOUT EVANGELISM

Jesus told many parables which concern evangelism and explain how the Kingdom of God will spread throughout the world. Study the following parables:

The Lost Sheep: Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:4-7 The Lost Coin: Luke 15:8-10

The Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32

These parables reveal God’s concern for the lost and the urgency with which you should seek them. It does not matter why they are lost. The sheep wandered away. The coin was lost through carelessness. The son was lost through his own rebellion. God is not concerned with how men are lost, only that they be found. You are to make every effort to find those lost in sin. You are to go where they are, not wait for them to come to you.

The Empty Banquet Table: Luke 14:15-23

Evangelism should not stop just because some refuse to respond to the invitation of the Gospel. You are to seek the spiritually hungry and bring them into the spiritual banquet prepared by the Lord.

The Barren Fig Tree: Luke 13:6-9

The fig tree is a natural symbol of the nation of Israel. God raised up Israel as the nation through which He could reveal the Kingdom to the world. God tried to get the “tree” of Israel to bring forth fruit among heathen nations by sharing their knowledge of the true God. But Israel remained barren and unfruitful. Now God has raised up the Church for this purpose. God nurtures believers in an attempt to make them productive, just as He did the nation of Israel. His purpose is the same: We are to bring forth “fruit” among the heathen by sharing our knowledge of the true God. God is not pleased with trees that produce no fruit.

The Talents: Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27 The Man On A Long Journey: Mark 13:34-37 The Servants: Matthew 24:43-51; Luke 12:39-46 The Watching Servants: Luke 12:36-38

The Faithful Manager: Matthew 25:14-30

These “servant” parables emphasize wise stewardship of the Gospel which has been entrusted to believers. Each believer is given talents or special abilities to use to spread the Gospel. Whether your abilities are great or small, you must use what God has given you. When Jesus returns to earth, those who have properly used their abilities will be rewarded (Luke 16:10-12).

The Sower: Matthew 13:3-8; Mark 4:3-8; Luke 8:5-8

The Gospel is spread by sowing the seed of the Word of God. There can be no multiplication without the Word. The fruit depends on the life that is in the seed itself (the Word of God) and the response of the soil (man’s response to the Word of God). There will be varied responses to the sowing of the Word.

Your responsibility is to sow. As you sow the seed of the Word of God, some soil is ready and yields a harvest. Other soil is not responsive and yields very little. Even Jesus encountered unresponsive soils in His earthly ministry:

And He could do there (his own country) no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and healed them.

And He marveled because of their unbelief. . . (Mark 6:5-6) The Tares And The Wheat: Matthew 13:24-30

As you evangelize and new believers are added to the Church, Satan will try to defeat the process. He will sow people described as “weeds” among the good seed of God’s Kingdom. Some of the people who profess to be believers and come into the church through evangelism are not sincere. They are “weeds” planted by Satan. Jesus does not want you to spend time and effort trying to separate the weeds from the wheat. Keep sowing the seed and evangelizing.

When Jesus returns, the weeds will be separated during the harvest.

The Fishing Net: Matthew 13:47-50

Jesus compared evangelism to a great net thrown into the sea. All kinds of fish enter, but when the net is drawn to shore the good fish are separated from the bad. The Kingdom of God will draw men and women from all nations. Many will enter. Some will be sincere, others will not. In the final judgment when God draws in the net, the good and bad will be separated. You are not called to separate, you are called to fish.

The Mustard Seed: Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:31-32; Luke 13:19

The Kingdom of God will multiply like mustard seed. The mustard seed is very small in the beginning, but in maturity it grows to great size. The Kingdom of God on earth had a small beginning. When Jesus returned to Heaven after His earthly ministry, He left behind a small group of followers to spread the Gospel. That small group of believers has multiplied to thousands of followers in many nations.

The Leaven: Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:21

Like leaven in a lump of dough, the Gospel will spread throughout the whole “lump” of the world. Like leaven, the power of the Kingdom is not external but it is internal.

The Vine And The Branches: John 15:1-16

This parable describes the relationship between Jesus, us, and the evangelism process. He is the spiritual vine and we are the branches. We cannot bear fruit alone. We are reproductive only as we are attached to the life flow of the branch, Jesus. Jesus wants to prune your life of everything that is not reproductive so you will bring forth spiritual fruit that remains.

The Harvest: Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2

In this parable, the field is the world. The harvest is the multitudes of men and women ready to respond to the Gospel message. A great harvest waits to be reaped by the spiritual laborers of God.

OTHER EVANGELISM PRINCIPLES

Jesus taught other principles of evangelism in brief statements:

Light Of The World: Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 8:16

The Gospel will spread as believers appear like lights from a city located on high ground which can be seen from miles around. We are to bring the light of the world (Jesus) to a world filled with spiritual darkness.

Salt Of The Earth: Luke 14:34

In Bible times, salt was rubbed into meat to preserve it from decay. Believers are the spiritual salt rubbed into the world with the message of preservation (salvation) which will save them from the decay (spiritual death) of sin.

Treasures In Heaven: Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:15

Believers are not to be concerned with treasures of the world. As we share the Gospel, we lay up spiritual treasures in Heaven.

The Broad Gate: Matthew 7:14

You cannot judge the right way in terms of numbers only. The way to Hell draws many while the way to eternal life is found by few.

Many Works: Matthew 7:22

Many wonderful works will be done by some people. But doing great works is not necessarily the same as doing God’s will and accomplishing His purposes. God’s work must be done by His people in His way.

Little Is Much: Matthew 10:42; Matthew 14:15-21

Everything done in the name of Jesus, even that which seems small, is productive. The miracle of the loaves and fishes illustrate how God multiplies and uses what little we have to offer. This is true of the smallest efforts at evangelizing.

Growth Requires Change: Mark 2:21-22; 7:13

New growth requires change. You cannot contain the new in old vessels of tradition and sinful lifestyles. The powerful potential of the Gospel is hindered by men who cling to traditions and refuse to change.

Gain By Losing: Mark 8:34-37; 10:29-30 Receive By Giving: Luke 6:38

Worldly principles teach that you gain by obtaining more and more. Jesus taught that you gain everything when you lose everything. What appears to be loss in the natural world is gain in the spiritual world. As you give yourself to the task of world evangelism, you will gain eternal rewards.

Death Brings Life: John 12:24

To be a reproductive disciple you must die to the desires of your flesh. You must be dead to sin and abandon your own way to follow Jesus in reaping the spiritual harvest fields of the world.

SUMMARY

In relation to evangelism, the teachings of Jesus reveal that He is not pleased with:

-Fishing without catching.

-An empty banquet table.

-Sowing without reaping.

-A tree that bears no fruit.

-Lost sheep not brought to the fold.

-A lost coin that is sought but not found.

-Lost sons that do not return.

-Unproductive servants.

-Unresponsive spiritual soil.

-Ripe harvests that are not reaped.

Our Father, who is not willing that one person should perish, is interested in results through evangelism:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)