The Kingdom, the Seed and the Church (5)

September 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Continuing from (4)

 

This brings us to Matthew 10

 

The sending out of the twelve apostles is of importance to every labourer in the field of harvest. Let’s look at it step by step.

 

  • They had to preach the gospel of the kingdom quoting Jesus’ introductory message: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • Then the sick had to be healed, the lepers cleansed, the dead raised and the devils cast out.
  • Declaring everything in the kingdom to be free.
  • No money was needed for this work.
  • God would make sure they’ll get their rightful wages.
  • When entering a new place, they had to first look for others of the same heart.
  • They were to bless that person/house with their grace/peace.
  • Whoever did not receive them, would get their due punishment.
  • In a world of wolves in sheep’s clothing, wisdom and innocence was needed.
  • Whenever under scrutiny, the Spirit would speak through them.
  • They would be hated and persecuted but had to keep on preaching.
  • Although they were bringers of peace, it would cause war within families.
  • Whoever received them, would automatically receive the grace that they brought with them.

 

When I read through the job description of a worthy labourer as Jesus was explaining to his twelve disciples, I was wondering if all who claim to be his workers had ever studied these requirements.  Looking at and listening to some preachers and the way money is asked for anything from a prayer to a relic, I’m convinced they haven’t read their assignment papers.  The grace received should be freely given and God will reward.  Inner peace and outer war walks hand-in-hand and should not stop any worker of the kingdom doing his-her job, as it is the Spirit who is doing the work through us.  It is His grace that opens doors[1], brings favour and melts the hearts of people.  Human power can not do the inner spiritual processes, needed to bring us to Christ, and nurture us to grow unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.[2]

 

Before I proceed any further with Matthew 12 until 16, let me refer back to the introduction of this chapter.  In Matthew 16:18[3] the word Church has its first occurrence in the NT.  And before Jesus mentioned anything about Church, He preached, taught and demonstrated the kingdom of heaven; the gospel of the kingdom, the ways of the kingdom and the power of the kingdom.  Therefore, to understand the purpose and mission of the Church, knowledge of God’s kingdom is of paramount importance.  And we know by now that the kingdom of God is the full rule and reign of Christ Jesus – which is the reason the Apostle Paul and Peter put so much emphasis on knowledge and understanding of Christ Jesus.[4]  If we lack the knowledge of the kingdom, church becomes either a weekly spiritual event or a lifeless ritual – instead of a daily experience.  If this statement doesn’t make sense, read on, because church both in the OT and the NT were daily experiences with God and others. Knowledge and understanding will lead to faith[5], which in turn will usher us into an experience of Christ’s guidance, power, grace and love.  This will cause spiritual growth and the salvation of our souls.[6]

 

Matthew chapters 11 and 12 deal with our perception and reception of into God’s kingdom. Or in other words, our preprogrammed mindset in terms of the way Jesus Christ functions, what His purpose is and how we should discern the two spiritual kingdoms.

 

Matthew 11:2-6 (NIV)

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

 

The words fall away is actually one word in the Greek with the meaning of, “to throw someone unawares into ruin, to give occasion for ungodly conduct resulting in the mischief incurred thereby or to be offended.”[7]

 

John the Baptist came from a priesthood family.[8]  He knew the law, the Psalms and Prophets as well as the order and rituals of the Mosaic Law and Temple.  He was the first to recognise Jesus at the banks of the river Jordan.  He was the one crying out “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”[9]  John knew his own calling – the one who prepares the way for the Messiah.[10]  Still he began to doubt if Jesus was really the Messiah or not.  It is not very clear whether John was offended at what Jesus did (the KJV uses the word offend) or simply cautious of deception.

The truth according the words of Jesus is that we may either become offended at the way God’s Spirit is operating or even fall away because Christ is not performing according to our preconceived mindsets.  That is a very clear statement of warning.

I have seen how Christians get offended when God’s Spirit begins to work in a new way, a different manner than what they were used to or expected.

This is one of the reasons many, many Christians become stagnant in their growth.  You can hear it in the way they pray, the songs they sing and the spiritual truths they are talking about. Year in and year out, the same prayers, the same songs, the same messages and getting excited about the same Christian events.  The age old recipe for religion – same rituals without any life.

 

Jesus used an Aramaic idiom to describe the people he encountered everyday:

“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”[11]

 

Sometimes I wonder if we don’t do likewise – always having a reason why we do not believe, not doing the works of faith, not fulfilling the commission of Christ.  This minister we don’t like, that church is too big or too small.  Over here they preach too long and over there the singing is too loud. We always have a reason for not doing, participating and growing in the Lord.  Many Christians want God’s way to fit into their perception of worship.  Anything outside their knowledge is rejected.  Exactly the way the Scribes and Pharisees treated Jesus – the end thereof was a curse on the nation, because they ascribed the works He did by the Spirit of God, to the work of the devil. [12]

 

Jesus makes a profound statement regarding the “life span” of kingdoms.

Matthew 12:25-26 (NIV)

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?

Satan’s kingdom is highly organised and single-minded.  He knows how a kingdom operates – most Christians don’t.  If he can cause discord, strife, contention and envy in any house, church, city or nation, division will follow and the end result will be destruction.

 

James 3:13-16 (AMP)

Who is there among you who are wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.

 

We do not live in the era of kingdoms anymore.  All modern man knows is democracy, human rights and how to go on a strike or protest when he doesn’t like what he gets.  Under kingdom rule, everything belongs to the king.  You as a citizen are granted a piece of land to cultivate or a shop to trade from.  Out of gratefulness you bring your taxes to the king, knowing that at any time the king may take away your possessions and give it to another.

 

The early Christians were well acquainted with kingdom procedures and policies.  They understood basic principles behind kingdom teachings.  We can see in the book of Acts how they were of one heart and of one soul.[13]  Jesus and the early church always sent people out to further the kingdom – the churches did not split, neither were there any break-away groups.  They were united and understood kingdom hierarchy.

If you listened carefully to what Christians are saying and the topics they regularly discuss, you will know the meditation of their hearts. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”[14] When the pressures of life becomes unbearable, the tests and trials too many or the pleasures of life too appealing to people, you will sooner or later hear it streaming from their mouths.

Lastly, every person born on this earth is automatically born into an earthly family.  Likewise, when we are born again, we are born into a new family – a heavenly family in the kingdom of heaven.

 

Matthew 12:46-50 (NIV)

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

 

We find new brothers and sisters in God’s family.[15] There are times when our own earthly family will reject us, even ridicule us because of our faith.  We should not become discouraged, as Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in him.[16]  On the other hand, some Christians are obsessed with their genealogy and family name.  This Paul advised Timothy and Titus to avoid because such discussions are totally unprofitable.[17]  When we are born into a new spiritual family, we might experience some difficulties in adapting. We may not always agree with our new spiritual family or have the same interests, but we do have the same Lord and Saviour and we are supposed to have the same faith, hope and love.

 

Faith:but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.[18]

Hope: Christ in you, the hope of glory.[19]

Love: God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.[20]

 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.[21]

 

To summarize Matthew 11 and 12

 

  • Many Christians have a preprogrammed mindset about how the Lord should do His work.
  • Even John the Baptist doubted in Jesus as the Messiah.
  • We should be careful not to be offended if the Lord doesn’t work according to our preconceived ideas.
  • The demonstration of the kingdom of heaven is seen in people receiving sight, hearing and healing[22].
  • Our thinking needs renewing.  We do not understand kingdom principles.
  • In a kingdom, everything belongs to the king.
  • A divided kingdom, house or church will fall.
  • Satan’s kingdom is well organised, otherwise it will come to a fall.
  • He tries to bring division, contention and strife.
  • What is in the heart will eventually come out of the mouth.
  • When born again, we belong to a new family – the heavenly family.
  • Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour, and also our eldest brother[23].
  • We may have different interests but all should have the same faith, hope and love.

 

To be continued…

 


 

 

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[1] Luke 2:52; Acts 2:47, 7:10

[2] Ephesians 4:13

[3] NIV “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

[4] 2Corinthians 2:14, 4:6; Ephesians 1:17, 4:13; Philippians 3:8; 2Peter 1:8, 2:20, 3:18

[5] 2Timothy 3:15

[6] Philippians 2:12; James 1:21; 1Timothy 4:13-16

[7] Zodhiates, Spiros (Th.D) 1993:  The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary New Testament., AMG Publishers, USA

[8] Luke 1:5-6, 8, 23

[9] John 1:29 (KJV)

[10] Matthew 3:3;Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23

[11] Matthew 11:16-19 (NLT)

[12] Matthew 12:31-32

[13] Acts 2:46, 4:32

[14] Matthew 12:34-35

[15] Ephesians 3:15

[16] John 7:5

[17] 1Timothy 1:4; Titus 3:9

[18] Galatians 2:20

[19] Colossians 1:27

[20] Romans 5:5

[21] 1 Corinthians 13:13

[22] Matthew 11:5

[23] Matthew 28:10; John 20:17

About Edgar Phillips
Husband, Dad, Ordained Minister and Missionary who loves God, Pastoral & Functional Therapist, Imago Professional Facilitator, EFT practitioner.

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