Cowardly Complaining

Say-SomethingTom S. Rainer writes:

The moment they hear it, they feel the “cringe factor” throughout their body. Even as the first few words are spoken, the recipient feels his or her emotions plummeting. It is the one sentence that is uniformly dreaded by pastors and church staff. It typically begins with these words:

“People are saying that . . . “

The full sentence could say; “People are saying that you don’t visit enough.” Another example is: “People are saying that our student ministry is not doing well.” Or one more example is: “People are saying that you don’t have good office hours.”

The sentence might specify a group while maintaining anonymity for the individuals: “Some elders are not happy with you” or “A lot of the staff are unhappy.”

You get the point. It could be phrased a number of ways, but the meaning is still similar. “People” is never defined. The true complainer is never identified. It is one of the most frustrating and demoralizing sentences pastors and staff will hear. Here are some reasons for the frustration:

The complainer lacks the courage to speak for himself or herself. So he or she hides behind the deceitful veil of “people are saying.” Leaders in churches know that when complainers lack courage to speak for themselves, or when they have to hide behind anonymous complainers, they are trouble in the making.

The leader has no recourse or action to take. These complainers never identify the source or sources. So the pastor or staff person cannot follow up and speak directly to the dissidents. He or she is left with a complaint that cannot be resolved due to anonymity.

The leader immediately questions the motive of the complainer. The moment the ministry leader hears those words, “People are saying . . . “, he or she doubts the credibility and the heart of the complainer. The approach is cowardly; it thus is always seen through the lens of doubt and frustration.

This approach is a double frustration for the ministry leader. First, he or she has heard yet another criticism. Most ministry leaders have to deal with criticisms too often. Second, the ambiguity of the complaint and the source of the complaint can leave a leader wondering if the problem is really bigger than reality. He or she can waste a lot of emotional energy on something that really may not be such a big deal.

Indirect criticisms can be the most painful criticisms. Most ministry leaders deal better with someone who is direct and precise in his or her concerns. But indirect criticisms such as “People are saying . . . “ or “I love you pastor, but . . . “ hurt more because cowardly actions and duplicitous behavior are added to the criticism itself.

As a leader in a local church and in other places, I got to the point where I did not entertain such veiled criticisms. I tried to be polite and say, “I am sorry, but I cannot listen to you further because you will not give me the specific sources of the concerns. If you are willing to name those people specifically or, even better, get them to speak to me directly, I will be happy to hear the concerns.”

Has my approached worked? Frankly, I don’t recall any of these critics being happy with my response. But I have had to learn that there are certain people in churches and other organizations who have the spiritual gift of complaining. And they will exercise that gift frequently and with vigor.

I have to move on to those who have positive and encouraging solutions. Life is too short to deal with cowardly complainers.

A Virgin Shall Be With Child

manger-cross“The Lord will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us).” Isaiah 7:14

Larry King of CNN fame was once asked, “Who would you have most liked to have interviewed in human history and what would you ask them?” Without hesitating at all, he answered, “Jesus of Nazareth, and I would ask Him, ‘Were You born of a virgin?’” He went on to say that the answer to this question is the most important in history.

I agree.

Humanity’s greatest need is atonement and for that we need a sacrifice that is acceptable to God, one that is flawless and perfect. Only a perfect sacrifice is acceptable in God’s eyes. That is why Mr. King’s question reveals a profound insight. If Jesus was born of a virgin, He is the Son of God; if not, he is just a man like us, and not able to provide us with redemption. If Joseph was Jesus’ real father after all, then all of Christ’s claims lie in shambles and ruins. Jesus would have been born with a sin nature just like ours, and even if He had lived a perfect sin-free life, would be in no state to be the spotless Lamb without blemish, and if that is true, He would be in no position to atone for his own sins, let alone someone else’s.

Each Christmas we hear the story about angels and shepherds, of wise men and strange sightings of a star, of a donkey, and of the Child that was laid in a stable manger. Yet the actual birth of Jesus, though highly unusual, was not entirely unique. Of course, not everyone is born to the sight of a star moving and coming to rest overhead, or to the sound of angelic announcements and trumpet blasts! Yet it is true to say that many children have been born in humble surroundings. Therefore, it was the manner in which Jesus was conceived that marks Him out from others. The doctrine of the Virgin Birth holds that Jesus’ birth was the result of a miraculous conception whereby the Virgin Mary conceived a baby in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, without a human father. Christ’s miraculous birth tells us much about His nature. Because He was born of a woman, He was indeed human, and therefore, one of us. That is, one of us in every way, except one. We are born with original sin and Christ was not.

The miracle of the Virgin Birth reveals Christ’s perfect humanity and also points us to His majestic Deity. Notice that the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary includes the statement that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

Of course, in the ordinary course of nature, a virgin birth is impossible. But the angel Gabriel finishes his announcement to Mary by saying, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

Christianity is supernatural or it is nothing. It is based, not simply on Christ’s teaching, miracles or morals, but on the Person of Christ Himself. Jesus Himself states that the revelation that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” is the bedrock upon which His Church is to be built, a Church which all the powers of hell cannot thwart (Matt. 16:18). Those who do not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin usually do not believe that Jesus is the true Son of God. Yet the message of Christmas is that God has sent His Son, born of a virgin, into our world, to save His people from their sins.

The virgin birth of Christ testifies to His Deity, setting Him apart from all others. It is therefore appropriate that He should be born in this way, since He was not implicated in sin, like all others since the Fall. Mary was not an exception in this respect, any more than David or Peter, though her sins are not recorded as theirs were. Through His death, Jesus became her Savior and the Savior of all those who would believe in Him.

Election – Shai Linne

Peep it son, no need to run from the truth
We need to come to understand Ephesians 1
We see in love the Father predestined
We seem to have a problem with the doctrine of election
We keep stressin’ and leave guessin’ leadin’ to depression
Because it’s God’s love we question
Well sit back and take a deep breath in
And exhale, let’s set sail, the word of God is refreshin’
Let’s be real with it, the Bible obviously talks
about predestination so we gotta deal with it
I’ll be a fake attorney by His grace and mercy
And present my case so let’s take a journey for the sake of learning
First turn to Romans 8:28-30
Zoomin’ in on verse 29, read the first line
“Those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to
the image of His Son”- Exhibit #1
People try to use an argument lacking common sense
Concerning the foreknowledge of God thinking the logic fits
Dudes are saying He looked out into the future ages
With illumination seeing all that would choose salvation
And those men were chosen by God because they chose Him
But that’s not what the passage has spoken
It says those He foreknew He predestined
If he foreknew everybody, is everybody predestined?
Is everyone His object of affection?
If so, then what’s the point of the doctrine of election?
It’s spiritual but let me make it plain so u see the miracle
And praise His Name instead of taking His grace in vain
It isn’t complicated, we all evaded the God that made us
And traded in His truth for a lie
Worshiping what God created more than God who is glorified
Corroborated our death, our lives are an abomination
But if the Father’s aim is to bestow mercy
Then it’s not to say that He was obligated but that God is gracious
As God’s enemies we deserve to be crushed
We’re dirty enough to be eternally cursed and turned into dust
And if he did it He would be perfectly just to murder me but
He decided to show mercy to us
I didn’t choose God, God chose me
Gave me a new heart and it wasn’t because I was holy
But if I chose G-O-D then God owes me, the only reason
I first walked thru them church doors is
Psalm 65 verse 4, why do I know God?
Matthew 11:27 says it best and
Those that have been predestined keep pressin’
It’s a deep message, I only see blessin’ in election
‘ma see the blessin’, yo it’s not even a question
How God in His perfection wrote the doctrine of election

(shai linne)

God in His perfection wrote the doctrine of election
Cause He’s sovereign, there’s no question and that got some people stressin’
But no option but election can account for our protection
Godly direction or perfected bodily resurrection, yo!
Don’t let the thinking of modern men fool ya
God does what He wants- that’s what it means to be Sovereign Ruler
It’s deep but not complicated- with complete confidence I’ll state it:
Peep it- it’s how God has always operated
He’s the greatest, fam- His amazing plan made His hand
Save the man Abraham from a pagan land
Who can argue with the people that God chooses?
Israel and not Egypt, Peter and not Judas
Humanly speaking, it should have been Saul and not David
The inheritance should have been Esau’s and not Jacob’s
The truth it speaks brightly so you can see rightly
A huge, mighty God who chooses the least likely
Still some contest it as a phony doctrine
But if we’re really dead in sin, predestination is the only option
With reservations they fume inside
There’s hesitation because it’s devastating to human pride
This truth is the sober kind that you’re prone to find
In passages like Romans 9- it’s so divine it’ll blow your mind
We are the clay and we’ve been formed by the Potter
None can come to the Son unless they’re drawn by the Father
“But God draws everybody” That’s what some cats say
It can’t be that way because all who are drawn are raised on the last day
Because of original sin and all of our despicable deadness within
Election must be unconditional then
Some people say that we were drowning in the ocean
Barely floating until God threw us the rope then
Our free will helped us as we groped
Our faith is the hand that grabbed the rope and God put us back in the boat
Nope! Without apology I deny that analogy
Reality- we were dead at the bottom of the sea
I was a swollen corpse with hope no more
Until Jehovah the LORD dove from the shore to the ocean floor
Yeah, I was a corpse and I smelled like it
I’ll keep it simple, why did God choose me? Because He felt like it!
He brought me out, not an act of my volition
Breathed life into my lungs and didn’t ask for my permission
Throughout the Bible there’s major examples of this
Pages of passages like the raising of Lazarus
Rather than debating the Master’s gift
We should be happily praising His magnanimous saving of savages
It’s time we see God’s sovereignty and His primacy
His holy dynasty running things by divine decree
Why does He choose some and not others to see Jesus?
Our God is in the heavens- He does whatever He pleases!

Personal Revenge – Spurgeon

spurg7“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

To recompense evil for evil is natural, but may God deliver us from the nature which makes it natural! It is just, no doubt, after a fashion, but from that sort of justice may our Redeemer rescue us! Again, it is admitted that the art of returning evil for evil is very, very easy. If, my dear Friend, you make it a rule that nobody shall ever insult you without having to pay for it, nor treat you with disrespect without meeting his match, you need not pray to God, in the morning, to help you to carry out your resolve. There will be no need to wrestle in prayer that you may be graciously enabled to take vengeance on your adversaries and stand up for your rights! You can do that decidedly better by trusting to yourself than by looking to God! Indeed, you dare not look to God about it at all. The devil will help you—and between your own passion and the Evil One, the thing may be very easily managed. There will be no reason for watchfulness. You need not be on your guard or keep your self in check. On the contrary, you may give to the very worst part of your nature the greatest possible license and go ahead according to the rage of your passionate spirit.

Prayer and humility of mind will, of course, be quite out of the question. Nor will there be any need for faith—you will not commit your case unto God and leave it there—you will fight your own battles, wipe off old scores as you go, and place your dependence on fierce speeches, on mighty fists, or on the law and the policeman. Christian Graces will be too much in your way for you to think of them! Gentleness, meekness, forbearance, forgiveness—you will bid good-bye to these and cultivate the virtues of a savage or of a bulldog. All this is wonderfully easy, though it may be that before long it will turn out to be difficult…

By many, to return evil for evil has been judged to be the more manly course. Years ago if a gentleman imagined himself to be insulted, it was necessary, according to the code of honor then in vogue, for him either to shed the blood of the offending person, or at least to expose himself to the like peril of his life. Thank God that murderous custom is now almost entirely gone from the face of the earth! The spirit of Christianity, has, by degrees, overcome this evil. But there still abides in the world the idea that to stand up for yourself, to just let people know what you are, never to knuckle down to anybody, but to defend your own cause and vindicate your honor has something extremely manly about it. And to yield, to submit, to be patient, to be meek, to be gentle is considered to be unworthy of a man of spirit. They call it showing the white feather and being cowardly, though to my mind, he is the bravest man who can bear the most.

Now, Christian, who is your model of a man? You do not hesitate for a second, I am sure. There is but one model of a Christian and that is the Man, Christ Jesus. Will you then remember that whatever is Christly is manly and whatever you think to be manly which is not Christ-like, is really unmanly, as judged by the highest style of man? The Lord Jesus draws near to a Samaritan village and they will not receive Him, though He was always kind to Samaritans. Good John, gentle John, becomes highly indignant, and cries, “Lord, will You that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them?” Jesus meekly answers, “You know not what manner of spirit you are of: for the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”…

Beloved Brothers and Sisters, I beseech you by the mercies of God that you refrain from, forever, the method of seeking to overcome evil with evil, and that you follow the example of your Lord, taking His yoke upon you and learning of Him, for He is meek and lowly in mind.

Let us consider THE DIVINE METHOD OF OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD. And here I freely admit, to commence with, that this is a very elevated mode of procedure. “Overcome evil with good! Ridiculous!” says one. “Utopian,” cries another. “It might do for Plato’s republic,” says a third, “but it will never do for ordinary, everyday life.” Well, I shall not blush to admit that this is a very high course of conduct and one which the mere worldling cannot be expected to follow—but of Christians we expect higher things! You have a high calling of God in Christ Jesus and you are, therefore, called to a high style of character by your glorious Leader, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Brothers and Sisters, if it is difficult, I commend it to you because it is so! What is there which is good which is not, also, difficult? Soldiers of Christ love those virtues most which cost them most. If it is hard to obtain, the jewel is all the more precious. Since there is sufficient Grace to enable us to become like our Lord, we will labor after this virtue, also, and obtain the great Grace which its cultivation requires. Notice that this text inculcates not merely passive nonresistance, though that is going a good way, but it teaches us active benevolence to enemies. “Overcome evil with good,” with direct and overt acts of kindness. That is, if any man has done you a wrong, do not only forgive it, but avenge it by doing him a favor!

Dr. Cotton Mather was never content till he had bestowed a benefit on every man who had, in any way, done him an injury. If anybody has slandered you, or treated you unkindly in any way, go out of your way to serve him. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him.” You might say, “Well, I am sorry for him, but really, he is such a vagabond! I could not think of relieving him.” Yet according to this Scripture, he is the very man you are bound to feed! If he is thirsty, do not say, “I hope somebody will relieve him. I feel no animosity to the man, but I am not going out of my way to give him a drink.” According to your Lord’s command, he is the man to whom you must give drink! Go straightway to the well and fill your pitcher—and hasten to give him a drink at once, and without stint. You have not merely to forgive and forget, but you are bid to inflict upon the malicious mind the blessed sin-killing wound of your hearty and practical goodwill!

Give a blessing for a curse, a kiss for a blow, a favor for a wrong. “Oh,” you say, “this is high. I cannot attain unto it.” God is able to give you strength equal to this, also. “It is hard,” you say. Ah, but if you take Christ to be your Master, you must do what He tells you and, instead of shrinking because His command seems difficult to flesh and blood, you must cry, “Lord, increase my faith and give me more of Your Spirit.” To forgive to 70 times seven would not be hard to Christ, for He did it all His life. And it will not be hard for you if the same mind is in you which was also in Christ Jesus. It is to this that you are called! It is a sublime temper and it is exceedingly difficult and needs Divine Grace, needs watchfulness, needs living near to God—but for these reasons it is all the more worthy of a follower of Jesus and, therefore, we should aim at it with our whole heart.

– C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

taken from: Overcome Evil with Good, Sermon No. 1317, Delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington Lord’s Day Morning, October 8, 1876

HT: Eric T. Young

Who is Jesus Christ? (Debate)

Dr. James White and Yusuf Ismail debate the Christology of the Gospel of John, and then the Christology of the Qur’an, in an historic debate in the famous Grey Street Mosque in Durban, South Africa (the home mosque of the late Ahmed Deedat).

Tithing – A Good Starting Point

Pastor Keith Throop has written a helpful article on the subject of tithing entitled “Tithing – a Good Place to Start” here.

Bible Interpretation – Applying the Rules

Rich Pierce started off today’s Dividing Line show with a brief (approx. 10 minutes) follow up regarding his comments from Tuesday regarding PC&D and the song “Jesus, Only Jesus.” Then I concluded the series on biblical interpretation by taking the rules we have discussed and applying them to John chapter 3.

18 Rules of Interpretation

During the last three Dividing Line broadcasts, I made my way through teaching 18 rules of biblical interpretation. For those who wish to see them in a written form, here now is the full listing:

Bible0011. Consider the Author – who wrote the book? (what was his background, language, culture, vocation, concerns, education, circumstance, what stage of life?)

2. Consider the Audience (why was the book written? who was the audience? what would these words have meant to its original recipients?)

3. The Meaning of Words (this has become a lot easier in our day with all the information and technology at our disposal. The computer program Bibleworks is especially recommended).

4. Historical Setting (avoid anachronism – trying to understand the past while viewing it wearing 21st century glasses – will not help toward understanding the original meaning of the author).

5. Grammar – (how things are being expressed – imperative is a command, a subjunctive would be “would you like to do this?” – two quite different meanings result)

6. Textual Issues – (are there any questions about the earliest or most authoritative manuscripts in comparison with others of a later date – and how does this influence our understanding of what was originally written)

7. Syntax – this refers to words and their relationship with one another. For example, Romans 5:1 says “Having been justified (a past tense action) by faith, we have peace with God.” It would be incorrect to think that we have to gain peace with God before justification takes place. The syntax is clear that it is a result of first being justified that peace ensues. Correct syntax is a vital component of sound interpretation.

8. Form of Literature (we should interpret the Bible literally, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize that parables are parables, and that to interpret them correctly, we interpret them as literal parables! Historical narrative is historical narrative, nouns are nouns, verbs are verbs, analogies are analogies)

9. Immediate Context (a text out of context becomes a pretext. It can be made to say something not intended by the author). Always check the immediate context of a verse or passage to determine the correct interpretation.

10. Document Context (in Romans, there is a certain argument Paul is pursuing, and this helps us to determine what is meant in isolated verses when we know the purpose for what is being written. Always keep the author’s broad purpose in mind when looking in detail at the meaning of texts). This, like the others, is a very helpful rule.

11. Author’s Context (this refers to looking at all of a person’s writings – John’s writings, Paul’s writings, Luke’s writings, etc.).

12. Biblical Context (the broadest context possible, the entire Bible; allowing us to ask if our interpretation is consistent with the whole of Scripture. Scripture is never contradictory to itself.

13. Understand the difference between prescriptive and descriptive statements in the Bible. Is the verse telling us to do something, or does it describe an action someone does?

Matthew 24:13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

Question: Is this verse prescriptive or descriptive?

If prescriptive, (if it telling us something to do) then no one can be sure of their salvation, for the simple reason that no one presently reading or hearing the statement has, as yet, endured until the very end. If prescriptive, it would negate the wonderful assurance of salvation that the Holy Spirit wishes us to know (1 John 5:13).

Certainly, this is a descriptive statement – as it describes the actions of a truly saved person – such a one will endure, for the nature of the kind of faith God gives to His people is one that endures to the end. A saved person is one who endures to the end – a principle made clear in other passages such as 1 John 2:19 – “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

14. Build all doctrine on necessary rather than possible inferences. A necessary inference is something that is definitely taught by the text. The conclusion is unavoidable. It is necessary. A possible inference is something that could or might be true, but not something actually stated by the text.

This is often a lot harder than it might first appear because it means we have to take a step back and analyse exactly why we think a verse teaches something. In other words, it means testing our traditions and doing a lot of thinking. Yet this is something we should do constantly. Paul exhorted Timothy to “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” (2 Tim. 2:7)

All of us should be prepared to hold up our preconceived notions to the light of Scripture to see if these assumptions are valid or not. The result of this process often involves the killing of some sacred cows, but that’s a good thing, if what we have held to be true cannot actually be supported by the biblical text. We all have our blind spots and traditions but we are not always aware of them. Therefore, the serious Bible student asks questions of himself and of the text constantly in order to determine what the sacred text actually says and then he builds his thinking on that.

Here’s one text as an example: John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Many people read this text and conclude that Jesus walked through the locked door in order to present Himself to His disciples. But does the text actually say that? No, it does not. The text might be teaching that. It is certainly a possible inference drawn from the text, but by no means a necessary one. There are other possible explanations.

Concerning this verse the ESV Study Bible says, “Some interpreters understand the doors being locked to imply that Jesus miraculously passed through the door or the walls of the room, though the text does not explicitly say this. Since Jesus clearly had a real physical body with flesh and bones after he rose from the dead… one possibility is that the door was miraculously opened so that the physical body of Jesus could enter, which is consistent with the passage about Peter going through a locked door some time later (see Acts 12:10).”

To state the principle again: we should build all doctrine on necessary rather than possible inferences. All else is speculation.

15. Interpret the unclear passages in Scripture in light of the clear. Though all Scripture is God breathed, every passage is not equally clear (easy to understand). Even the Apostle Peter struggled with Paul’s writings at times, as he found some of it “hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16)

When determining what the Bible teaches on a particular topic, find the passages which CLEARLY address the issue at hand and make this the starting point of your doctrine, rather than an obscure (or less than clear) passage. Once that which is clear is firmly grasped and understood, then proceed to study the passages which at first seem to be unclear, using the above rules.

16. Build doctrine on didactic (teaching) statements in Scripture rather than possible inferences from narrative passages.

17. Think for yourself but not by yourself. We are not at all wise when we isolate ourselves. God has gifted others with tremendous insights, not only in our own day, but throughout the history of the Church. These teachers are Christ’s gifts to His people (Ephesians 4:8-12). Use their help.

Here are four helpful quotes in this regard:

“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.” – Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?”

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.” – C. H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries

“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.” – J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today.”

“Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.” – R. C. Sproul

18. Avoid hyper allegorical interpretations.

Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 AD to 430 AD), known more commonly as simply Augustine, taught a hyper allegorical method of interpretation, which was very highly speculative.

Augustine’s Commentary on the Good Samaritan – Luke 10:29–37

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; Adam himself is meant; Jerusalem is the heavenly city of peace, from whose blessedness Adam fell; Jericho means the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it is born, waxes, wanes, an dies. Thieves are the devil and his angels. Who stripped him, namely; of his immortality; and beat him, by persuading him to sin; and left him half-dead, because in so far as man can understand and know God, he lives, but in so far as he is wasted and oppressed by sin, he is dead; he is therefore called half-dead. The priest and the Levite who saw him and passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament which could profit nothing for salvation. Samaritan means Guardian, and therefore the Lord Himself is signified by this name. The binding of the wounds is the restraint of sin. Oil is the comfort of good hope; wine the exhortation to work with fervent spirit. The beast is the flesh in which He deigned to come to us. The being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ. The inn is the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are refreshed after pilgrimage. The morrow is after the resurrection of the Lord. The two pence are either the two precepts of love, or the promise of this life and of that which is to come. The innkeeper is the Apostle (Paul). The supererogatory payment is either his counsel of celibacy, or the fact that he worked with his own hands lest he should be a burden to any of the weaker brethren when the Gospel was new, though it was lawful for him ‘to live by the gospel.’” – Quaestiones Evangeliorum, II, 19 –slightly abridged as cited in C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom (New York: Scribners, 1961), pg. 1-2.

Who is to say which interpretation is true?