Why Jesus’ Parables are Not Just Nice Stories

by Veronica Neffinger | By using parables, Jesus is establishing Himself as a prophet and proclaiming that He is fulfilling the mission of God preached by all previous prophets.

As Christians, we are likely familiar with Jesus’ parables. We hear about them in Sunday school, in sermon illustrations, and we read them in the Bible. These stories reveal important truths about the Kingdom of God, but their purpose is often misunderstood.

Often, Christians seem inclined to view Jesus’ parables as simply nice stories–the same way we might view stories a pastor may use to illustrate a point of his sermon. The parables recorded in the Bible, however, have a much deeper meaning and significance.

In his article for The Gospel Coalition titled “Jesus’s Parables Are Not Heartwarming Sermon Illustrations,” Greg Lanier digs into the purpose of the parables and why it is inaccurate to view them as nice stories.

Lanier points out that after one of the most noteworthy of Jesus’ parables–that of the Sower and the Seed, Jesus makes this baffling statement: “When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,

they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mark 4:10-12).

We may ask, Why would Jesus intentionally be vague or less than straightforward in teaching about something so foundationally important?

Lanier directs us to Isaiah 6:9-10 in which God tells the prophet Isaiah, “Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Like all Old Testament prophets of God, Isaiah pointed to the great Prophet that was to come: Jesus. Like Isaiah, Jesus preached God’s Word to a people many of whose hearts were hardened to His Words.

“Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord and is charged to preach to the nation. His life is spent proclaiming impending judgment for many and restoration for a remnant. God tells him at the outset, however, his preaching will sometimes produce the opposite of what Isaiah may desire: it will make some more dull and unresponsive, not less,” writes Lanier.

Jesus’ statement in the Parable of the Sower, then, is a pronouncement of the state of peoples’ hearts. Those who weren’t receptive to His Words were those who had already been hardening their hearts to the things of God and His Kingdom.

“Almost shockingly, the Lord tells Isaiah his prophetic ministry is designed, in God’s mysterious plan, to produce division in the nation between the repentant and unrepentant. When Jesus, then, takes Isaiah’s commission on his own lips, he’s revealing that his ministry will produce the same result,” writes Lanier.

God’s Words are hard to hear. Writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul gets at this same thing: “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Throughout the Bible, says Lanier, “Prophets use parables of all sorts to veil and unveil truth, to bring hearers to the point of recognizing their own self-judgment, and to produce a response to God.”

By using parables, Jesus is establishing Himself as a prophet and proclaiming that He is fulfilling the mission of God preached by all previous prophets. Parables are not heartwarming stories, but instead lessons that communicate deep truths about God and His Kingdom.

Lanier concludes, “The seed of the gospel is freely and lovingly scattered to any and everyone. But the soil is what matters, and God alone can prepare it to receive the seed and yield the manifold crop of repentance and forgiveness. This frees the preacher to sow the seed faithfully, and then watch God work to change sinful hearts according to his sovereign will.”



When Religious Spirits Masquerade as Prophets

by Jennifer LeClaire | I have had prophetic words from well-known, credible prophets about laboring for a great revival in my region. This religious doomsayer was sent by the devil in a feeble attempt to get me off the wall, just as false prophets were sent to Nehemiah to get him off the wall (Neh. 6:12-14).

If you could look at my e-mail inbox, some of what you read would make you cry out in travail for the trauma good people in the body of Christ are suffering. Other messages would make you shout for joy as testimonies of breakthrough roll in. Still others would make you scratch your head and ask, "How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian behave this way?"

I got an email last week that ranks in the top 10 ridiculous category. I've left off this person's last name so he doesn't get flooded with rebukes. Take a read and judge the spirit thereof and let's learn some lessons about prophecy along the way.

A Long False Prophecy That Carries a Curse

My name is Robert and I am a Prophet here in McKinney, Texas. I moved here about 7 months ago with my wife and children from Miramar, there in South Florida. Holy Spirit led me to one of your YouTube videos and told me to contact you and give you this word.

For the past 9 months the Lord Jesus has been using me to give words to many of the saints about moving. Many of these saints are Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors with large ministries. As you may or may not know, judgement is here for America. Catastrophic events are going to start happening soon so God is moving his saints into specific safe areas and assignments.

The word that I have been told to give you is that Jesus is calling you to move your family and ministry to the Dallas, Texas area as soon as possible. 1 Peter 4:17 says judgement must begin at the house of God. Every believers [sic] obedience is being tested right now. Jesus says to whom much is given, much is required.

Let me pause on the prophecy right there. This is your textbook doom-and-gloom judgment prophet. Most doom-and-gloom judgement prophets have a religious spirit. There are true words of warning and God is a God of judgment, but this is not one of them. The Lord is not speaking to me to move.

I have had prophetic words from well-known, credible prophets about laboring for a great revival in my region. This religious doomsayer was sent by the devil in a feeble attempt to get me off the wall, just as false prophets were sent to Nehemiah to get him off the wall (Neh. 6:12-14).

Prophetic Presumption Exemplified

The false prophecy continues: "God is up to something big here in the Dallas area and I believe part of it has to do with TV because a lot of the saints that he told me to contact are or have been on television. I have also received a few prophetic words myself last year about being on TV which is not something I ever even thought about or wanted."

Here's a great example of prophetic presumption. We don't need to have opinions about prophetic words. We need to have God's mind on what God is saying. Presumption can be deadly, as I've said many times before. Notice also the emphasis on self here. If he's supposed to be delivering a life-saving word to me, why does he talk about how God wants to put him on TV?

When the Religious Spirit Manifests

The false prophecy continues:

Also The Lord is bringing true biblical holiness back to the church. Jesus says he wants you to stop cutting your hair short. 1 Corinthians 11:15, "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Jesus is also saying to all his women no more fake hair, painted or fake nails, and no more makeup which as we read in the Bible was used by wicked women. Also no more earrings or jewelry, which were associated with idolatry in the Bible. A watch and wedding ring are all Jesus wants his women and men to wear. We have to be the example of what holiness looks and acts like. 1 Timothy 2:9, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array."

Also read 1 Peter 3:1-5. Jesus says he is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle and he made women perfect without these foolish things … Will be praying for you sister and God bless!

I don't have room in this column to teach about the religious spirit. I believe in holiness, but holiness is a matter of the heart, not the hairstyle. Esther was a godly woman, and she wore jewelry, makeup and expensive clothing. I agree with the modesty message and have championed it. But I don't agree with this prophetic word came from the Lord because neither the message nor the messenger is lining up with the character of God.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, co-founder of awakeningtv.com, on the leadership team of the New Breed Revival Network and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual Awakening; Mornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of God; The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Jennifer's Periscope handle is @propheticbooks.