Notes from Power to Change
I recently had the privledge to talk to the Christian students at Western University and had alot of requests for my "sermon notes", so I thought I'd post them here so I can link to one place:
GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM – Western P2C – Friday, January 27, 2017
Recap from WW – The North American Evangelical Articulation of the Gospel has become VERY self-centered, individualistic and has lost a key component.
The message of sin, repentance and saving faith found in Jesus is the GLORIOUS middle to a MUCH bigger story. The book of Matthew indicates this by not merely calling “the good news” the “gospel”, but the “gospel of the kingdom.”:
• Matthew 4:23– And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
• Matthew 9:35– And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
• Matthew 24:14a– And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations…
• Mark 1:15– “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Does it ever feel like our evangelistic efforts are void of any power? How can that be when the bible has described the harvest as “plentiful” or “bountiful”???
Acts 17:1-9 – tells the tory of Paul’s POWERFUL evangelistic efforts in Thessalonica.
è “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also… and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
è The relationship between their ability to “turn the world upside down” had to do with their gospel presentation INCLUDING the message of the kingdom (and it’s King, Jesus)
STORY: I got to take an awesome trip two years ago to Israel. I saw a lot of really awesome things, got to walk where Jesus walked and it really bolstered my faith…
è Our groups tour guide seemed to know a ton about Jesus but he remained Jewish, so after I had built a relationship with him I asked, “Why don’t the Jewish people believe that Jesus is the Messiah?”
è His answer astounded me. He simply told me that the Messiah was supposed to bring THE KINGDOM. That the kingdom of God was supposed to be physical, tangible and it was supposed to both cover and rule the world.
è How can Jesus be the Messiah if he didn’t bring that kingdom? Christians explain this away by saying the kingdom is “spiritual” but that seems to fly in the face of a Jewish understanding of their own OT texts.
è Or Christians say he will bring the kingdom during his second coming but the Jews rightly look at the scriptures and say there is no indication there would need to be multiple arrivals before the Kingdom came.
So, what does the bible say?
• Malachi 1:11 – For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
• Daniel 7:14– And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
• Zechariah 9:10– he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
• Psalm 22:27-28– All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
• Psalm 72– 8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!
• Habakkuk 2:14 – For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea
• Isaiah 52 – The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
• Philippians 2:10-11 – at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
• Isaiah 2:2-4– It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
So… clearly my tour guide had a point! I needed to figure this out because as much as my own subjective experience led me to believe Jesus is the messiah, I know that my experience and testimony is subjective. If it’s true… the bible MUST confirm it!
So… I needed to answer three questions:
- Was the kingdom supposed to be world wide?
- Did Jesus bring the kingdom?
- If he did, why isn’t it what the Old Testament promises?
First of all, was the kingdom supposed to be world wide?
Let’s consider a few things:
è THE GARDEN – God put Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them “dominion” over the earth (Gen 1:28) so in a very real sense the world that belonged to God was handed to Adam to steward and care for. When Adam sinned however, he surrendered his God-given place of prominence because he didn’t obey God. It’s like he handed his inheritance over to Satan for a meal (sort of like Esau did to Jacob!)
è ABRAHAM – When God called Abraham and told him that from him would come a great nation that God would call “his people” this takes place in Genesis 12. Then when God is reiterating and expanding that promise in Gen. 22 He says “through you all the nations of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 22:18) (In fact in Galatian Paul actually explains why that promise was fulfilled in Jesus)
è JESUS’ INHERITANCE – In Psalm 2 God says to his son (Jesus) that if he asks for them, God would give him the nations as his inheritance…
è THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS – In Matthew 4 when Jesus is driven out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, the third temptation included Satan showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth and offering them to Jesus if he would just bow down. Interestingly Jesus DOES NOT say “they aren’t yours to give” which indicates this was a legitimate offer by Satan! I think what was going on here is that Satan knew God wanted the nations, he wanted the world to, as it says in Numbers 14:20– 20 Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. 21 But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord
o So the cross was God’s plan to win the world back to himself, Satan was tempting Jesus with a way to fulfill his mission and bypass the cross!
So yes, the kingdom was supposed to be world wide because it was ALWAYS god’s intention to have mankind steward his world. So through these promises we see that Jesus’ mission was to come and destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) which was tricking Adam and Eve to surrender their God given stewardship over all the nations in the first place!
Secondly, did Jesus bring the kingdom?
Let’s go to Matthew 12 and see the very words of Jesus to answer that question:
Matthew 12 22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Jesus words are pretty clear. We KNOW he cast out demons by the spirit of God and NOT by the power of Satan, so obviously the kingdom HAS COME!
Pretty easy to see that scripturally, but there’s MORE we discover in this passage.
KINGDOM – remember this is all about reinserting the message of the kingdom into the gospel… and kingdoms seem to be the theme. The Pharisee’s are having the same issues my Jewish friend has, they were rejecting Jesus as the Messiah because he didn’t bring the kingdom.
SO Jesus is arguing he’s NOT part of Satan’s kingdom because he’s casting OUT demons… he’s working against them. FURTHERMORE he shows us part of his earthly mission is to be OPPOSED to Satan’s kingdom.
What else do we learn from this exchange? Well, who is the strong man? They were just talking about Satan so it’s logical to interpret the “strong man” in Jesus story as Satan (after all, Jesus surely isn’t giving advice on how to break in and steal your neighbours stuff!)
So Jesus is saying his mission is to come into the world (Satan’s kingdom) and bind up the strong man (Satan) so that his stuff (non-Christians and the evil world systems) can be plundered, defeated destroyed!
Think of it like this: Jesus came into the world, and what he accomplished on the cross was to bind up Satan (there’s a picture of this in Rev. 20 by the way) and leave all the windows and doors to his house open so that his people can plunder the kingdom of darkness.
That brings us to our last question and answer: Why doesn’t the kingdom look the way the Old Testament verses promise? (massive, world wide etc?)
In Matthew 13 Jesus knows his disciples are struggling. (remember Matthew 12 is where the above confrontation with the Pharisee’s happens) He knows they have the same questions about the kingdom that everyone else does so he takes some time to teach them exactly how the kingdom of God would break into the world.
Matthew 13 says, 31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
Jesus is teaching his disciples a mystery hidden since the foundation of the world: that when the Kingdom of God came to earth it came in seed form and is growing into all the fullness God promised.
The point of the mustard seed is that it came small and became massive… the point of the leaven is that it starts outside the loaf but eventually saturates the entire thing!
The Old Testament actually teaches this, the Jewish scholars just missed it:
Isaiah 9 after saying “unto us a child is born” reminds us in verse 7 that “of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” which implies that Jesus kingdom (government) doesn’t plop down into world history fully formed, but that it increases, and in fact never stops increasing (presumably until it fills the earth)
Daniel 2 tells us that when Daniel interpets the Kings dream he sees these 4 great world empires (scholars tell us they represent Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires) and he says the kingdom of God breaks into the world during the time of the 4th kingdom (Rome – which is when Jesus was born!) and it starts as a small stone but grows into a mountain that fills the whole earth!
So, how does this change us? How does this affect our day to day lives?
a) First of all, don’t be a defeatist!
For too long Christians have resigned to the fact that the world is getting worse and worse and our only hope is to be “raptured” away.
That completely flies in the face of Jesus OWN prayer for his people when he said “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Some translations say “but that they overcome the evil one.”
The reality that the kingdom is growing and that Jesus ordained that WE be the tools through which he builds his kingdom on the earth!
Youre part of the winning team and Jesus already guaranteed victory at the cross. Think of it like the cross developed the beach head and now we are God’s army going to deliver territory that has been surrendered to the enemy!
b) Secondly, be offensive rather than defensive in your faith!
In Matthew 16 Jesus says to his disciples that he will build his church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against them… gates are a defensive weapon… so the point is the church ought to be storming hell!
To borrow language from Jesus himself in Matthew 12, we are to plunder hell (plunder the strong man’s kingdom)
The great commission tells us to “go make disciples of the nations” – it’s the fulfillment of Psalm 2 when God tells Jesus he will give him the nations as his inheritance. In other words the great commission is Jesus saying to his disciples (and by extension you and me) ‘Go get me my inheritance”.
View your evangelism in light of this reality. It’s you plundering Satan’s kingdom! Colossians says it this way in Col 1:13, He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son
o So see your evangelism as plundering the kingdom of darkness!
c) Lastly, remember that extraordinary things are accomplished through very ordinary means.
This simply means that the kingdom grows one citizen at a time. Our job is to evangelize, share the gospel and work on building this kingdom one person at a time!
It requires sacrifice: John 24:24-26– Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
o In other words you can’t live a selfish, you centered life, you have to live a sacrificial kingdom building life. Give your life to build the kingdom and you will bear fruit!
It also means there are AMAZING days ahead for the kingdom of God, but don’t despise the days of small things!
· Don’t despise the small things of prayer, because through it God changes people’s hearts.
· Don’t despise the small things like devotions and daily bible reading, it is through these means your heart is transformed.
· Don’t despise the small things of service in the church, through which God is glorified in your obedience and people encouraged.
· Don’t despise the small things of working in the seemingly insignificant places like the sound ministry or church nursery, this is showing Christ’s love and allowing others to be ministered to.
· Don’t despise the small things of daily obedience like guarding your tongue or avoiding gossip when you do this you are becoming like Christ.
· Don’t despise the small things like daily loving and leading your wife, through this you begin to more clearly reflect Christ’s love for the church.
· Don’t despise the small things like respecting and submitting to your husband, by this you show the world the beauty of Christ’s submission to his Father.
· Don’t despise the small things like honoring your parents, by them you demonstrate that there is a God who is bigger than you, whose authority you value.
· Don’t despise the small things like working hard at your job or school or at home everyday, in these things you show that there is something more profound, more powerful, more worthy than money and the ‘almighty’ dollar.
· Don’t despise the small things like sharing the story of Jesus and what he’s done for you, in doing so some unbelievers may come to trust and to treasure Jesus.
· Don’t despise the small things of corporate prayer, or singing worship and preaching of the word, through which there is an announcement of the kingdom’s expansion and conquest of our Lord Jesus as his subjects grow.
· Don’t despise the small things like little church plants, it is by such things that God overcomes the gates of hell through the proclamation of the gospel.