9.17.06 Sermon Summaries

Saturday night I had one of those ‘life flashing before one’s eyes moments’. I have taken to trying to write my messages first thing in the week. This has resulted in difficulty keeping in my normal time constraints when preaching since I have time to really develop the messages…

Well, this week, I wrote the first two messages, then worked on the Study Guides to accompany the Bible Reading for next week. I just had one more sermon to write, and devoted the day on Saturday for that. I had a few little thingst to catch up on at the church that evening, but thought all was well. I decided to print out my messages after supper, a fortunate decision. As I opened up the files, I discovered message number two was a blank file – it had been started, saved, but nothing written down. Man! Am I getting old, or what?

So… it was back to the study and work, work, work! Fortunately I discovered my mistake early enough to write the message in time to get to bed at a decent time before our services on Sunday. Thank you Lord!

Our messages today brought us to Matthew 13 (and some surrounding events in the Synoptics, including pericopes from other parts of Matthew). Matthew 13 is the great chapter of Kingdom parables. I decided to use the first message to preach a fairly doctrinal message on The Concept of the Kingdom.

The central idea of the message was this: Jesus offers the opportunity to belong to a perfect kingdom for an exclusive few who will hear and believe what he says. I used the passage in Mt 13.10-17 as the framework upon which to hang a good deal of kingdom teaching. First, we spoke of the privilege of New Testament saints (as exemplified in the passage by the disciples) to know the mysteries of the kingdom. In this section, I discussed a point of difference I have with some dispensationalists who teach that Christ’s offer of the kingdom to Israel meant an offer of the historical aspect of the kingdom, Israeli nationalism, in the first century. The plan of the cross is God’s plan from the foundation of the world, his offer of the kingdom at the time of Christ was not the nationalist ideal, but a new, mystery and spiritual form of the kingdom that had not hitherto been revealed. It is the privilege of saints to know the truth concerning this kingdom. The teaching of the kingdom was open to the disciples, but deliberate impediments were placed before unbelieving Israel, including the method of teaching in parables, the primary content of Mt 13. This is in keeping with the Lord’s instructions to Isaiah when Isaiah accepted the Lord’s call in Isa 6. Then king and kingdom were the longing of the OT saints, and so a privilege for NT believers. God offers that kingdom to all men today, but only those who truly receive Christ gain the spiritual insight to understand in the heart what Jesus is talking about in passages like Mt 13. It is more than intellectual understanding, it is knowing the King through the Spirit.

The second message was devoted to a survey of the content of Mt 13, The Parables of the Kingdom. The proposition was: The Lord is revealing by parables an outline of the mystery aspect of the kingdom for the disciple’s use in his own ministry. I should mention that I listed six aspects of the kingdom in the first message. These came from my classroom notes from a lecture by Jesse Boyd in 1977 in a New Testament Prophecy class:

  • Ultimate Aspect — God’s sovereign rule over all creation.
  • Spiritual Aspect — God’s rule in the hearts and lives of His people.
  • Historical Aspect — God’s rule over the nation Israel.
  • Mystery Aspect — God’s rule over professing Christendom.
  • Messianic Aspect — God’s rule over the nations of the earth during the Millennium.
  • Eternal Aspect — God’s rule over the redeemed universe.

Mt 13 involves teaching concerning the Mystery aspect of the kingdom – God’s working and rule in Christendom, the world of professing Christians. The parable of the sower describes entrance into professing Christendom. Some do not enter, some seem to enter, and some really do enter the spiritual aspect, but many who seem to enter aren’t really in the kingdom. They are only in the mystery aspect of the kingdom. The parables of the weeds, the mustard seed, and the leaven describe the growth of the mystery aspect of the kingdom as it progresses in the world. The key phrase for the weeds is that “the field is the world”, it is not the church. As the kingdom grows in the world, it starts small, but becomes great, and, like leaven, it wields a wide ranging influence wherever it exists. The parables of the hid treasure and the pearl of great price describe the great value of the kingdom, worth everything an individual has. The parable of the dragnet describes the consummation of the kingdom, the final judgement and the end of the mystery aspect. No more wheat and weeds growing in the same field. Finally, the scribes of the kingdom, who understand what Jesus taught, have tools both new and old (the new-old commandment, 1 Jn 2.8-9) with which to build the kingdom. Our task as believers is to enter into that labour with them, using the same tools and continuing the task till the dragnet draws the age to a close.

Our last message today, Miracle Worker Rejected, was centered around the last part of Mt 13, the rejection at Nazareth. From the order of events in the synoptics, some time passed between the preaching of the parables and the incident at Nazareth. There is the silencing of the storm on the sea of Galilee by an awakened saviour, the healing of the demoniacs of Gadara (one of whom went preaching about Christ in that region), the healing of the woman with the issue of blood and the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the healing of two blind men on the way to Nazareth and the healing of a demon possessed man along the way. The Pharisees continue the line that Jesus is doing this by demonic power, and the people of Nazareth pick up the theme by asking, “Where does he get this mighty power?” I used this question to point out this is exactly what liberal Christianity wants to do, to deny the supernatural. In the Lord’s day, they couldn’t deny that these things were happening, so they had to attribute it to evil spirits. Today, the situation is the opposite. The liberals want to deny the spiritual world altogether, so they deny both demons and the miracles. The desire is to humanize Jesus, which is exactly what the Nazarenes did with the questions about Jesus as the carpenter’s son, as the son of Mary, as the brother of men they knew, etc. The response of the Lord is to cryptically rebuke their unbelief and to not do many miracles there, other than healing a few people who came in faith. In this message I was working on this proposition: Those who reject the miracles lose the capacity for faith in the teaching. I think this is true. The teaching of Jesus has no more impact than that of Joseph Smith, or Mohammed, or Bhudda, or Charles Russell, or whoever it might be if he is not the mighty miracle worker, sent from the hand of God.

Well that is it. This next week will see us reaching a point of climax in Christ’s ministry with Peter’s great confession.

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Comments

  1. Kent Brandenburg says:

    I see this much the same as you, except that the mystery form of the kingdom in the day in which we live is the church, which, of course, I see as only visible and local. Christ is in the midst of His churches (Rev. 1:19-2:1). His promised to be with His assembly (plural “you” in Matthew 28:19,20). He rules through His church in the midst of His enemies (Psalm 110). That is also where the kingdom parables apply. How can you preach unless you be sent? Sent by whom?