Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Author John R. Tucker Asks the Question, Are You Jesus' Disciple? Based upon Book of Matthew

John R. Tucker, Jr., a devout believer in Jesus Christ, resides in Baden, PA with his wife Bettie. They have two adult children, Eric and Lori, who live nearby, giving them access to their delightful grandchildren, Talia and Pasquale.

The author has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and retired after 34 years of employment with U. S. Steel Corporation. He then wrote over forty investigative Bible studies that are being used for in-depth teachings at various churches. He also taught a local prayer group as a member of a national organization known as Christian Business Men’s Connection which is active in 80 countries and has over 50,000 members.

John felt inspired to write this book because of his personal hunger to know greater details about the teachings of Jesus Christ. His findings gave him the desire to be a better modern-day disciple. The author hopes that readers will have this desire, too.

Book Description

The title of this book asks “Are you Jesus’ Disciple?” It emphasizes the five discourses taken from the Book of Matthew as taught by Jesus Christ. As readers progress through the pages, the words of Jesus seem to come alive in His teachings. The book illustrates that believers and non-believers should ask themselves if they are truly living the life, or want to live the life, that Jesus demands of them. The five discourses include: ethics, missions, the Kingdom, community life and judgment. Within these discourses and teaching, the disciples of that time were instructed how to properly live their lives as Christians and how to reach others with the same message. There were also some believers and non-believers who gathered near the disciples to listen to this intriguing Teacher. Those who did not believe were simply following the crowd. However, some took His words to heart and wanted to hear more. Today, Christians and non-Christians can read the discourses and make a decision as to what they believe or not believe.

9 This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 
10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
11 Give us today our daily bread. 
12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

...The Lord’s Prayer is like a letter that we send from earth to Heaven. In the beginning words in Verse 9, Jesus is giving the Jews guidance as to the proper way to pray to the Lord. In the remaining words in Verse 9, He is telling the Jews to whom this letter is being 1. To “Our Father” but not to saints or angels. 2. To “Heaven,” the place where it is going. The word “Our” in the words “Our Father” specifies that in addition to praying for and alone, Jews should pray with and for others. The word “hallowed” refers to the nature of our Father who is holy and distinct beyond all mankind...

It is quite easy to read a book and pick up those thoughts, those principles that mean something to our own lives. Certainly, with John Tucker choosing the Book of Matthew as the central book of the Bible to discuss, he has chosen a selection that many will recognize and know what the book contains... Yes, but... do we really know what the Book of Matthew says about certain topics covered therein?

Some readers may be totally knowledgeable, while others will recognize the conceptual overview but not know the context in which the subject is covered. Tucker has presented an easy-to-use method by which he presents the results of his long years of study and research. It can easily be used for group Bible study or as an independent study guide. Or, simply, to compare your own beliefs with the author and consider how his relates to the book's question--Are You Jesus' Disciple?

I've taken something that most of us will have at least heard in their lifetime--The Lord's Prayer... The format used is as appears throughout the book... Tucker breaks the prayer down into phrases, then moves to explain what the phrase is saying...thus, he goes through the entire prayer, providing guidance, insight, and the setting in which Jesus was sharing His Words...

Consider his discourse... You may remember that the issue came up when Jesus was asked how to pray...The first thing that held true for me was that he instructed us to go into the closet where we can be alone with God...

Are you Jesus' Disciple?

By John R. Tucker, Jr.

Tucker presents an Introduction of his overall plan of presentation as follows:

Five Discourses of Jesus Christ in the Book of Matthew 
Within the Gospel of the Book of Matthew, there are five major sermons or discourses given by Jesus Christ that need to be read and fully understood: 
1. Discourse on Ethics in Chapters 5 through 7 (19 Topics) 
2. Discourse on Missions in Chapter 10 (1 Topic) 
3. Discourse on the Kingdom in Chapter 13 (8 Topics) 
4. Discourse on Community Life in Chapter 18 (4 Topics) 
5. Discourse on Judgment in Chapters 24 through 25 (5 Topics)

He then begins to discuss, explain what was to happen within the Book of Matthew... And then moves directly on to the Discourse on Ethics...

In this case, the Beatitudes fall under Ethics...and the specific scripture to be discussed is included...

Again, an overview is provided of the setting, the audience, etc. and then each of the Beatitudes is studied...

1. Verse 3. Those who are poor in Spirit… The following are examples of groups of people who qualify as being blessed in being poor in Spirit. 
They are contentedly poor, willing to be empty of worldly wealth if God orders that to be their lot. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes, being willing to make themselves humble and minute in order to be good in God’s eyes. They lose their confidence in their own strength so that they may depend only on the merit, spirit, and grace of Christ. Despite the circumstances that all three groups experience, they have a sense of happiness. Be aware that there is a poor-spiritedness that is so far from making men blessed that it is a sin and a trap.

This last part, of course, is what is provided by the author and teacher. He presents his response to the scripture for readers to consider, and as indicated in the book description, leaves it to the reader to accept or reject it; i.e., to believe or not believe that is what was intended by the scripture--by the Words of Jesus. Here's my thoughts on why this is so important...

I wanted to skip forward in the book for another personal reference that has always interested me...based upon this song learned so many years ago...

Note that the singing is joyous and thus sounds like a happy occasion. For some it was...Jesus was coming...But, consider the first part of the song... "Give me oil in my lamp, Keep me burning..." As I grew older, I realized that these were not the words that led to the celebration... Here's Tucker's coverage of that parable...

The Parable of the Ten Virgins— Matthew, Chapter 25, Verses 1 through 13: 1 At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 
2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them, 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 
5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 
6 At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out and meet him!”
 7 T hen all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 
8 The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” 
9 No, they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” 
10 But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 
11 Later the others also came. “Sir! Sir!” they said. “Open the door for us!” 
12 But he replied, “I tell you the truth. I don’t know you.” 
13 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

It is thought that the foolish virgins in this parable had just enough oil in their lamps to make them burn for a little while in order to make a show as if they intended to meet the bridegroom. Unlike the wise virgins that had the heart to take additional jars of oil for their lamps in case the bridegroom might not come right away, the foolish virgins lacked the heart to do the same. The lesson to be learned here is, when looking forward to an important event, it is wise to prepare for the worst in case a long period of time occurs before its arrival. 

In confirming my thoughts about the song, with just Tucker's reference on this part of the parable, I felt comfortable that the song really did not match scripture correctly, did it? At least that was my conclusion...What do you think? It was the foolish virgins who was asking for oil because they hadn't prepared... And, therefore, it would have been the wise virgins that would be singing hosannah... They don't match in the song's words.

To me this is just one small example how many times some will take a phrase or a thought out of context from the Bible and use it to support their own agenda... A study guide such as Tucker has provided thus becomes an excellent method for learning and absorbing what the Bible is telling us. I've always loved the parables Jesus used, but it sometimes helps to make sure we are understanding and interpreting the parable correctly... Alas the foolish virgins were turned away from the celebration because they had not planned ahead and were now begging for oil...when it was too late...

The book is lengthy, comprehensive and totally ready for study; i.e., all scripture has been included in the book, easily discernible. When references are related to other parts of the Bible, or to another version, such as The Living Bible, those references are also included. Although, of course, it can easily be read from front to back, the author has provided an excellent outline that permits readers to break down the reading and study to be considered at the reader's own pace.

So, does the title of this book bring a touch to your spirit? If so, this book is highly recommended. You may not actively be a disciple of Jesus right now, but if you don't want to be counted as a foolish virgin when the bridegroom comes, you may find you need the teaching and/or confirmation of your own understanding in this book written both as a study guide and as a scholarly discourse based upon study, research, and His guidance...


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