Friday Sermon | Grace and Peace by Alistair Begg

frisermonToday we’ll be hearing Grace and Peace (Part 1) of a series entitled Growing in Grace by Alistair Begg.

Alistair Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975. Following graduation from The London School of Theology, he served eight years in Scotland at both Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and Hamilton Baptist Church.

In 1983, he became the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio.  He has written several books and is heard daily and weekly on the radio program, Truth For Life.  The teaching on Truth For Life stems from the week by week Bible teaching at Parkside Church.

He and his wife, Susan, were married in 1975 and they have three grown children. [Source]

Grace and Peace (Part 1 of 2)

When Peter wrote his second letter, moral carelessness and false teaching was on the rise among the people of God. Peter urged his readers to return to the basics of the Gospel. We begin a new study in Second Peter called Growing in Grace on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg!

 

Sermon Text

2 Peter 1:12-15 (ESV)
12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder,14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

2 Peter 1:12-15 (NIV) | Prophecy of Scripture
12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

 

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | This Must Take Place…

CTTOver the weekend, there was another horrendous Islamic Terrorist Attack… this time in Paris. The world is reeling from the calculated, callous, and unexpected attack on soft targets. The world seems surprised by this attack, though they really shouldn’t be. On the one hand, the world refuses to identify the root of the terrorism problem these past several decades… Islam. On the other hand, the world’s humanism doesn’t have an answer for dealing with evil, for it is unwilling to censure itself. As Christians, we know better. We have God’s Written Word, the Faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. The world is destined for destruction by God… and in the meantime, the world (under its prince, the devil) will seek to destroy Christians, hating us, and even blaming us for the evil in this world.

Mark 13:3-13 (ESV) | Signs of the Close of the Age

And as [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Islam is a false religion worshiping a false god who hates the Name of Jesus, God the Son. It is a religion whose premier prophet was an evil and wicked man. Islam is not the only false religion, there are many, but in this day and time it is the primary driving force behind global terrorism and heinous acts of wickedness among men. It isn’t new. While its operatives hide, it’s philosophy is announced globally and no one can rightly claim to be caught unaware of its evil.

There are those who would urge Christians to link arms with “moderate Muslims” to stand against Islamic extremists. Such a foolish notion. Christians don’t stand according to men, or create allegiances with false gods to establish a peace with wicked men. Christians stand firmly on the Word of God (which does not include the Qu’ran or LDS “scriptures”) and the Promise of Salvation by Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone. So-called moderate Muslims don’t follow Islam. Moderate Islam is no more Islamic than progressive Christianity (ala Rob Bell) is Christian.

There might be another world war. Nation rising up against nation, kingdom against kingdom. The world is in tumult, and has been, and will be until the end. The world is under a curse. The curse of sin. It has been subjected to futility and death. Mankind has not evolved since the fall. Mankind has only devolved into depravity. Mankind is the same it was in the days of Noah.

Genesis 6:5-8 (ESV)

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And theLord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Every intention of the thoughts of the heart of man is only evil continually. We’ve not changed. God has not changed, either. He kept His promise from the Garden, and spared Noah and his family in an Ark through the waters of destruction. In similar fashion, God is sparing those who are of faith and have themselves come through the waters of baptism and joined with Christ in His death and have been sealed by God the Holy Spirit for His resurrection.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV)

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Noah’s salvation didn’t spare the earth from destruction. The Church’s salvation will not spare Creation for the judgement that is coming. The world is destined for destruction, just as our flesh is destined for death, but by the Grace of God through Faith in His Son, we will be resurrected in Christ Jesus into the Kingdom of Heaven… the world will taste the second death.  Let’s get back to our text in Mark.

Mark 13:14-23 (ESV) | The Abomination of Desolation

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter.19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But forthe sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

No politician, or pope, or imam, or statist will bring peace, though each will claim to be an anointed one, a messenger from God… false christs and false prophets. Some will come from within our churches, literally claiming to be prophets, predicting the return of Christ. Do Not Believe It. Dear Christian, please be in the Written Word of God. The language cannot be any more plainly written here. Jesus told us NOT to believe these rumors. Notice that they will indeed perform signs and wonders… and they will be false.

Mark 13:24-27 (ESV) | The Coming of the Son of Man

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

There won’t be anything secret about the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He hasn’t left us secrets or codes to figure out in His Word… and when He returns, all will see Him, all will know, for the Just Judge Will Have Come.

Conclusion

Pray for the saints in Paris. Pray for opportunities to love your French neighbors in any way that you can. Be vigilant. Be sober. Do not be afraid. Know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, He who endured unto the end and resurrected as the first fruits of the Creation that is to come in the Resurrection, will carry you through. Trust in the Lord.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 11

bibleLast time, we took a look at Matthew 10, where we saw Jesus appointing his 12 Apostles and sending them out among the lost sheep of Israel to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven

John the Baptist, More than a Prophet

Matthew 11 (ESV)

Messengers from John the Baptist

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.

Does it strike you as odd that this account falls here in Matthew’s Account? I have wrestled with its placement here. It seemed like a cut-scene event not necessarily a chronological succession to the events/teaching of Chapter 10. The problem of this passage for me was that I kept treating it as an update on what was going on in John the Baptist’s life… like some voice-over guy would narrate, “meanwhile, back in the prison of John the Baptist”… but that’s not Matthew’s intention. Remember Matthew’s audience is the Jewish reader, the one familiar with the Law and the Prophets (more-so than the Gentile, anyway). Matthew isn’t setting out to record a detailed account of the likes of Luke, he is writing to Jews so that they might know exactly who Jesus is. John the Baptist is a critical figure in prophecy, and being a man in prison about to die, he inquired of Jesus one last time, Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? Jesus’ answer is two-fold, He tells the disciple to report what he sees and He also points out that everything Jesus is doing is in fulfillment of the prophecies that testify of Him as the Messiah. Let’s continue reading…

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,     who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

This is a tough passage to get a full grasp of especially for those who treat Jesus as a man or an example for how we are to live. How can John be the greatest of those born of women, wasn’t Jesus also born of a virgin? Yes, but Jesus has no equal for He is the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Messenger of God, God the Son. John is the last great Prophet of men to the children of Israel, and his purpose was to announce the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, the Messiah had come. All of the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus. John the Baptist is His herald and has been imprisoned by violent, pagan men. He would soon be put to death, and Jesus will also suffer and die at the hand of men… the Kingdom of Heaven indeed has suffered violence. For those of you in the Pentecostal camp, this is NOT a teaching on spiritual warfare. This is about Jesus coming, the Kingdom of Heaven preached, and the violent prevailing against Him… to death on a cross.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;     we sang a dirge, 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, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

The chief priests and elders who wage war against the kingdom of Heaven, pursue John by one standard and then Jesus by another… excuses for their core sin of rejecting the very Son of God they claim to serve.

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Miracles, signs, and wonders do not produce faith. Hearing the word of the Lord and believing it does. Miracles can, however, intensify guilt. Jesus makes it plain here that had He performed the mighty works in Sodom that He had performed in Capernaum, Sodom would have remained to this day, meaning some would have repented (at least 10, for the sake of Abram’s intercession). He knew this, he wasn’t merely speculating or using hyperbole to highlight a point… Jesus knew. That Capernaum refused to repent earned them a worse fate on the day of judgment than that of Sodom. That boggles the mind. When Jesus returns, it won’t be as a silent lamb to preach repentance… He will come to judge the living and the dead. It will be the end for this life, this Earth, under these heavens. The Grace of God can be seen even in the fact that He tarries to return.

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We talked about Rest in this past Monday’s CTT post. Jesus isn’t talking about coming to make everyone rich so that they’ll never have any struggle. He’s not offering the “easy life”… Jesus is offering rest from the brutal taskmaster of the Law. The Law kills all who are under it, for they cannot keep it. Jesus came to lift that burden Himself, and then to lay down His perfect life as payment for all sin, so that by faith we might join in His resurrection, and enter into His Rest.

Until Next Week…

Be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Miracles, signs, and wonders belong to God and are His to work, not ours. We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sin. That He was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven at the Right Hand of God the Father, and returning soon to judge the living and the dead. Nothing we come up with, devise, or scheme has any chance of building or granting faith to the unbelievers… only the Word of Christ has that power. Until next week, spend some time in His word. Read in larger chunks, making note of the immediate and general context of what you are reading. Pray for understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Our household will be very busy over the summer, lots of travel. I will do my best to keep to a steady blogging schedule, but I pray your forgiveness if (like today) things get pushed back some. Thank you for your prayers.

Amen. In Christ Jesus, Jorge

CTT | Rest in Peace

Musical Symbol for Rest (quarter rest)

Rest

Today, I want to take a little time to look at one of the most common phrases on tombstones, “Rest in Peace”. While it is indeed appropriate for mourning the loss of a loved one, have you ever heard that phrase and thought, “I’d like to rest in peace before I die, too”. I have. While such a rest isn’t permanent while we walk this cursed earth in fallen flesh, there is rest for the People of God. Sometimes we think that if we work extra hard in one area of life, then we can rest in others, but that rarely grants even a moment of reprieve. Instead, the rest that is available to Christians comes only by faith.

Personal Anecdote

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to share a bit of myself for a moment. One of my personal areas of struggle is in procrastination. The most common reason for my procrastination isn’t laziness, but fear. Fear of not knowing how to “do it”. Fear of not being able to “do it right”. I struggle with perfectionism. This sort of procrastination is self-feeding, the longer I take to start, the less likely I’ll be able to “get it done correctly”. Once the deadline has arrived and I’ve submitted my work, there is no peace and there is no rest, just fear that I didn’t do it right. Depending on the task, there might even be some condemnation thrown in for having procrastinated and not made better use of my time. Vicious cycle.

My wife has helped me a great deal in this matter. How? She loves me. She forgives me. She extends grace to me, when I screw up the honey-do list. Whether its something she asked me to do or something I concocted in my brain to serve her, I can rest in knowing that she loves me… and even if I mess something up, and create more work for the both of us later on, she’ll forgive me and her love for me will not change.  I can work diligently on a project for days on end anticipating the rest that will come once she tells me she loves me. That rest at the end of the work gives me peace in the middle of the toil. In this way, my wife has helped me better understand how we should rest in Christ and in His peace.

Rest and Peace by Faith

What I experience with my wife is temporal and the Holy Spirit uses it to point me toward the rest and peace that are available by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Our American culture has traditionally been obsessed with work and how it defines the worker. Lately there has been a burgeoning sub-culture of entitlement that frankly disgusts me, but is a natural rebellion against the traditional ideology. There is no rest in work to feed your own flesh. Our flesh is insatiable. Our secular culture has rebelled against the notion of work while demanding hand-outs. Odd, really, and a worse position to take, Biblically. So let’s address the traditional mindset of the American dream of being a “self-made man”.

Mark 8:36-37 (ESV)

36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?

The answer, of course, is “nothing”.

Mark 10:23-27 (ESV)

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

You see, our salvation… our adoption as sons and daughters of God by the blood of Jesus Christ is not a result of any work we do. Nothing we do earns our adoption, our salvation. In the same way that nothing you did earned your physical conception/birth into this earthly realm. We are not saved by our works, but we are saved for good works. And since our salvation wasn’t of our doing, the good works we engage in from here on out are not by our might or our strength or our skill, but by God who prepared the good works that we are to walk in. This is reflective of our holding fast to our confession of Hope, because He who has promised [God] is faithful. Rest in that, even while you are walking in the good works that God prepared for you. No, you don’t need a special revelation of what good works you need to do, we have the Law. The Law defines good works. We fall short of the Law, even as Christians, but that is why we are exhorted to hold fast to our confession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and why it is imperative that the Gospel continue being preached to believers). The Law isn’t what grants rest… the Gospel is.

1 Peter 1:3-13 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Rather than wait until the end, set your hope daily. As you pray the Lord’s Prayer, “…give us this day our daily bread…” rest in His promise of Salvation. He is the bread of Life. Give us this day… Rest and Peace. Not the sort of rest and peace that the world would understand, for we will indeed face grievous trials in this life… but a rest in the Promise of an inheritance kept in heaven for us. As we confess our sins daily, and repent… know that He is faithful and just to forgive us by His Grace and Mercy. May we strive to enter that Rest… by faith… and when our time on earth draws to a close, may we consider the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Paul could rest in peace by faith knowing by faith that he was going home soon. The thing about rest, is that it can be stolen from you by fear, doubt, and unbelief. Do not rely on inactivity, or lavish vacations, or the praise of men for your rest, for such are fleeting and unreliable. Place your trust in God’s Word, and by faith rest in Him who Granted you eternal life.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 10

bibleLast week, we saw Jesus start to focus on His disciples. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-8 ESV). This week, we will see Matthew’s account of Jesus calling His 12 Apostles from among His disciples and sending them out in training. Jesus is specifically teaching His apostles what they need to know in ministry. Given that these men (minus Judas and later including Paul) would form the foundation of Christ’s Church, with Jesus as its cornerstone, we need to pay close attention to what He is teaching here. For our ministry of evangelism, of the Church, is built upon this foundation and none other. There will not be any more Apostles, for there is no further need of foundation, but we need to understand the foundation upon which we stand. 

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

Matthew 10 (ESV)

And [Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

In the Matthew’s account, this is where Jesus selected 12 from His disciples to appoint them as His Apostles, sent-ones from God the Son. He gave them authority over unclean spirits to cast them out, and authority to heal every disease and every affliction. Why? Was their charge to eradicate sickness and disease from the land of Israel? Was it to expel all demons from the Land of Israel? Well, let us look at the rest of His charge. In verse 5 we see they are not to go to the Samaritans or the Gentiles… but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. What was their charge, to eradicate sickness and disease from Israel? No. They were given such authority, but their primary charge was to proclaim, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. They were to proclaim the time for the Promise was at hand, to preach repentance just as John the Baptist did and how they saw Jesus proclaim the Kingdom. Notice the conditional statement He provided regarding the towns/houses in which they stay. If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words… the miracles of casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, or cleansing lepers wouldn’t be enough. Some would still not receive them as Apostles nor listen to their preaching. The authority to perform miracles was granted as a testimony of the Truth of what they preached. There would still be those who witness the miracles and reject the message. Why? Because they lacked faith, and held fast to the teaching of the Elders and Pharisees who taught as commandments the doctrines of men. Those who reject the Gospel and remain in their unbelief remain condemned (John 3:16-18)… and these who reject the proclamation of the Gospel in this manner, full of power and authority will face a tougher judgement than those destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abram.

What Jesus tells His 12 for this immediate mission, carries on into the first leg of the Great Commission we will see in Chapter 28. Thankfully, the Gospel isn’t limited to the lost sheep of Israel, because the Promise was for all of mankind, for you and for me. I appreciate how the ESV splits this up into sections, because the portions that follow apply to the Church, the Body of Christ. We will face persecution, this isn’t limited to His 12 apostles. He sent them out to lay the foundation, with Himself as its cornerstone, and we are being built up on that foundation as the Holy Temple of God, a temple of living stones indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. We will see persecution… and it will continue getting worse until the Great Day of Christ’s return.

Matthew 10 | Persecution Will Come

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

Anyone selling a gospel of victorious living, health and wealth, or “living your best life now” is either flat-out lying or simply has never actually read the Bible. In Christ we have our victory in the resurrection. Until then, we will face trials, tribulation, and the open seething hate of a world that first hated Him. Take heart, Jesus goes on to say…

Matthew 10 | Have No Fear

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Have no fear of men who can only kill the body. Our treasure is in Heaven.

Matthew 10 | Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of the media’s wimpy portrayal of Jesus. Even the self-identified Christian production companies seem to fail in this regard. Jesus didn’t come to coddle sinners in their sinfulness, He came to call them out of the Kingdom of Darkness. He preached repentance. Families will be split because of Him, but not because of what He does; rather, for who He is. Don’t treat verses 34-39 in isolation from verses 26-33. It is all connected. Those who follow Jesus, die to themselves and to sin daily, will be saved while those who deny Him will continue to hate Him and those who follow Him. The message of the Gospel isn’t to eradicate sin, death, sickness, or poverty on the earth. The earth is cursed because of the sin of Adam. Dominionists, Open Theists, Universalists, all of them are completely confused in their thinking. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls sinners to repentance and separation from this world of sin and unbelief. When we proclaim the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” to this dying world, we are proclaiming “leave the building of destruction” not “all clear, the bomb was defused”. Christ made a way of escape, the ONLY way of escape from the judgment that is due our sin. It is a narrow gate that few will find, though we proclaim loudly and firmly the Way of Salvation in the Name of Jesus.

Matthew 10 | Rewards

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

The Apostles are being sent out as prophets, proclaiming the Word of the Lord (the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand). Whoever receives them as speaking the Word of God, receives the prophet’s reward. Jesus is the only righteous person who has ever lived… and whoever receives Him, receives His reward. Whoever received the Apostles, received Christ. Whoever receives Christ, receives His Righteousness.

Romans 3:19-28 (ESV) | The Righteousness of God Through Faith

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

By faith we have been saved. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Hearing the Word of Christ comes by having it faithfully preached, both Law (conviction of sin leading to repentance) and Gospel (for the forgiveness of sin).

Romans 10:14-17 (ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Until Next Week…

Be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Miracles, signs, and wonders belong to God and are His to work, not ours. We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sin. That He was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven at the Right Hand of God the Father, and returning soon to judge the living and the dead. Nothing we come up with, devise, or scheme has any chance of building or granting faith to the unbelievers… only the Word of Christ has that power. Until next week, spend some time in His word. Read in larger chunks, making note of the immediate and general context of what you are reading. Pray for understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge