If faith comes from witnessing a miracle, how can it be a gift?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 11:20-24 NASB:  
20 Then He began to reprimand the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment, than for you.”

Matthew 11:20-24 tells us there were cities who refused to repent even though they saw Jesus’ miracles. Does this imply that faith comes from our ability to deduce from things we’ve seen? I believe to answer this question we need to understand that there are different kinds of faith and we need to determine what kind of faith is Matthew talking about.

The scripture tells us we are saved by grace through faith that does not come from our abilities. Saving faith is a gift from of God so that no one can brag that he or she did anything. Doesn’t this tell us that if we have faith in someone because we witnessed him or her perform a miracle, that it is not faith unto salvation? Let me put this another way: If I see something and deduce something from what I saw, I am exercising my own ability to reason.  But saving faith is a gift that does not come from my own ability. This is why I say there is more than one kind of faith.

You can have faith in a doctor’s ability to diagnose a disease, or faith in your wife’s fidelity, or faith in many other things that result from our experiences and our ability to infer from them. These are all types of faith, but not saving faith. So, what kind of faith Matthew is talking about in Chapter 11?

These cities may have gained faith in Jesus’ abilities from watching him work miracles. But faith in Jesus’ abilities to heal is not faith unto salvation. Jesus made it clear that these folks witnessed miracles and still rejected Christ’s message. He said they are worthy of a greater punishment than Tyre and Sidon. Consider, a gift is something we can accept or reject. These people made a conscious effort to reject Jesus’ message, even if it meant rejecting things they saw with their own eyes. Matthew Henry put it this way, “Christ knew that the hearts of the Jews were more bitter and hardened against his miracles and doctrines, than those of Tyre and Sidon would have been therefore their condemnation would be the greater” 1 They refused to have faith in Jesus’ ability to heal or that his healings were works of God. Did they also reject salvation through Jesus blood after he was crucified?  

What are your thoughts?

  1. Henry, Matthew. 1706. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mhc/matthew/11.htm

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Jeff & Sheri Easter Receive Key to the City of Mt. Airy, NC During Inaugural Easter Brothers Hometown Festival


Mount Airy, NC – On April 22, 2023, Jeff & Sheri Easter received the Key to the City of Mount Airy, NC from Mayor Jon Cawley during the Inaugural Easter Brothers Hometown Festival held at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

The award was presented to the legendary duo in recognition of their contribution to the music industry and their unwavering support for their hometown of Mount Airy.

The Easter Brothers, a renowned family gospel group, have their roots deeply embedded in Mount Airy.

During the presentation, Mayor Jon Cawley stated, “Mount Airy, NC has been the home place to our share of famous entertainers such as Andy Griffith, Donna Fargo, and of course, the Easter Brothers. Jeff Easter has never forgotten his hometown and Jeff & Sheri Easter have continually sung the praises of Mount Airy, NC as they traveled the world. It was my honor to present Jeff and Sheri Easter a Key to the City as two of Mount Airy’s finest ambassadors.”

The Easter Brothers Hometown Festival celebrated the legacy of The Easter Brothers and featured live performances from various artists, food trucks, and activities for families.

Jeff Easter was thrilled to be a part of the festival and shared his excitement about the recognition. “Sheri and I were so honored to host the first annual Easter Brothers Hometown Festival! I’m so proud of my dad and his two brothers and the legacy they left. I’m so grateful for Mayor Jon Cawley. To be given the key to the city of my hometown, Mount Airy, North Carolina is a great honor, I am truly overwhelmed!”

The Key to the City is an honor given to distinguished individuals in recognition of their contribution to society or their hometown. Jeff & Sheri Easter were thrilled to receive this prestigious award, and they plan to continue to be ambassadors for Mount Airy, NC, and spread their love for gospel music to audiences worldwide.

Does Matthew tell us to be violent as we proclaim the Gospel?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 11:12 NASB:   12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force.  

The 11th Chapter of Matthew uses a phrase that may be misleading to our modern ear. I think it’s something that can lead to a gross misunderstanding caused by the limitation of human language and translation. The 12th verse tells us the kingdom of Heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force. Is this verse advocating physical violence? All scripture must be understood within context, and a reader of any English Bible needs to consider translation of language and the differences in which people spoke in Jesus’ time from modern ways of saying things. So, let’s start with what is being said around this verse.

Matthew had just told his apostles that their words would not be received well by some.  They would be called up for judgement and even relatives would rise up against those who proclaimed Jesus’ words.  He said he did not bring peace, but a sword. I believe this is a metaphor to describe the resistance some would give. Now we see Jesus speaking of John who was in prison for preaching the Gospel without compromise. John did not use a passive or timid approach to preach. He went so far as to speak against Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, because Herod had taken his brother’s wife as his own. Though John and the other apostles did not use physical aggression, they forcefully moved forward in proclaiming word of Jesus. I believe this is Jesus’ point. If he advocated physical violence then why later does Matthew tell us Jesus rebuked Peter for using a sword telling him, “…those who take up the sword will perish by the sword”?

Context tells us Jesus did not advocate violence. It also shows us Matthew uses metaphors of physical violence to drive home his point.  With this in mind it seems Matthew 11:12 doesn’t tell us to be violent, but stresses the urgency to preach the Gospel, and the need for a vigorous pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven.

What are your thoughts?

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Heaven’s Mountain Band Announces Retirement


Nashville, TN (April 26, 2023) The multi-award-winning bluegrass gospel band, Heaven’s Mountain Band, has announced their retirement after 37 years of ministry. This comes after the unexpected passing of beloved group matriarch, Deborah Johnson.

Roger Johnson states, “Rodney and I have prayed and we feel it is time to retire the group. I will continue writing music as long as the Lord gives me songs to write! We’d like to thank everyone for the years on the road, for buying our music, and praying for us. Please continue to lift us up in prayer. This retirement is effective immediately.”

Heaven’s Moutain Band has established themselves as one of the top groups in bluegrass gospel today! Career highlights include 10 consecutive Singing News #1 songs, multi-Diamond Award winner and Singing News Fan Award nominee. They were blessed to perform at some of the most prestigious venues, such as Dollywood, Hominy Valley and Shadow Valley, but their heart was ministering in local churches across America.

Les Butler, FMG label owner and HMB fan states, “I personally believe the impact that HMB had on fans of REAL traditional Bluegrass Gospel Music will resonate for generations to come. The comments we’ve gotten at the office, as well as in person over the years, from music buyers and church members have been overwhelming. HMB was not your normal bluegrass gospel band. They were much more and much deeper than that. The retirement of the Primitive QT and HMB is leaving a cavernous hole; one that I’m not sure will ever be filled.”

Butler continues, “On a personal level, I simply don’t have the words for what the Johnson family has meant to me, my family, and FMG. My, how we will miss being with Debbie, Roger, Rodney Johnson, and all of HMB! This is truly a sad day for me.”

Who besides Jesus is greater than the greatest?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 11:7-19 NASB:  7 As these disciples of John were going away, Jesus began speaking to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Behold, I am sending My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ 11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 The one who has ears to hear, let him hear. 16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a song of mourning, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a heavy drinker, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ And yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”  

The 11th Chapter of Matthew tells us that while John was in prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if Jesus is the one, or if there would be another. I think Matthew wrote about this encounter to explain the nature of God’s kingdom.  Let’s look at Jesus’ answer and what can be inferred from it.

“What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Jesus asked as he began to tell them that John is, “…more than a prophet.” 

Jesus began by making it clear that John is the real deal. He is the greatest born among women.  But he went on to say the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John!  There is a kingdom of Heaven where all are greater than those who have not yet entered.  But what is The Kingdom of Heaven?

Matthew mentions the Kingdom of Heaven 32 times. Other Gospel writers use the phrase, “Kingdom of God,” exclusively. Matthew, who is writing to a Jewish audience, is the only Gospel writer who uses, “Kingdom of Heaven.” He is writing to a Jewish audience to convince them that the Kingdom of Heaven (God’s kingdom) is near but has not yet arrived.  When one considers John’s question, it seems it was not clear to the Jewish community if Messiah would bring a kingdom on earth or if God’s kingdom was in Heaven.   But Jesus told the crowd who heard John’s question that the least in the kingdom of heaven, which is near, is greater than even John!

Our home is not here. I think Matthew 11:16-19 lets us know that while on earth (this generation,) we can expect some to ignore the importance of the gospel or even mock it. We can expect some to falsely accuse those who deliver the Gospel. But these things are nothing compared to eternity.  Who besides Jesus is greater than the greatest? Isn’t the answer, the least of the Kingdom of Heaven?

What are your thoughts?

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