#6 ~ Doubts about the Kingdom

#6 ~ Doubts about the Kingdom

If I remember correctly, I started this session by asking how many people know that they are saved? Everybody in the class raised their hands. Then I asked how many had ever had doubts about their salvation. Almost everybody raised their hands. Then of course you can identify with John the Baptist as he later had doubts about Jesus as the Messiah.

John 3:22-30 ~ John the Baptist affirms the ministry of Jesus. For a significant period of time, the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus were contemporary. John’s mission was to point to Jesus that He might increase. Here is that familiar wedding banquet language that we have seen before. How confident does John the Baptist seem about Jesus being the One?

Matthew 11:1-6 ~ John the Baptist doubts the ministry of Jesus. This passage teaches us several things. First, not every disciple of John the Baptist left John to follow Jesus. Some still considered themselves disciples of John and not disciples of Jesus. Second, John had doubts about the identity of Jesus. Why might this be? What does Jesus offer as the proof for His ministry? Note that Luke 7:11-23 includes more information including that someone had just been raised from the dead which prompted the disciples of John the Baptist to go to him in prison with a report; and the fact that many people had just been healed that very day.

Matthew 11:7-11 ~ Jesus affirms the ministry of John the Baptist. The crowd witnessed these disciples of John the Baptist as they questioned Jesus. As they were departing, Jesus addresses the crowd concerning the ministry of John the Baptist. Many of them had gone out to hear John preach. He asks them why they went out there. It seems that Jesus liked to joke around since He suggests two ridiculous reasons why they might have gone out there. {Jesus asks if they had gone out to see someone in fine clothes. Take a look at magazines today and look at what type of clothes they wear. If you want to see someone in fine clothes, you are not heading out to the desert because John wore camel hair.} He finally gets around to asking if they went out to see a prophet. The answer is yes. Jesus quotes Malachi 3:1 in reference to John the Baptist. Jesus also had no problem praising John the Baptist.

Matthew 11:12-15 ~ The significance of John the Baptist. Jesus gives us the dividing line between the prophets and the law and the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven. Now with the Kingdom of Heaven being preached, some type of reaction was demanded. The language here is not passive, but aggressive. You must seize it forcefully. It is not enough to sit there and do nothing. See also Luke 16:16-17.

Note: All of the dispensational models need to include this. Whatever your position, whatever kind of chart you make, you must apply Matthew 11:12-15 to your position on how the different covenants or dispensations fit together. The law and the prophets were only until John, but most of these models end them at the cross. When you come across something in scripture, instead of a long, complicated explanation as to why your chart is right and this passage is wrong, adjust your chart.

The Kingdom of Heaven was something that was actively occurring with the ministry of John the Baptist and in the ministry of Jesus Christ. There is no way around the language of Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16. He was healing to show the power of the Kingdom of Heaven was present with Him. In fact, all of His miracles served to demonstrate this. He was forgiving sins to show the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 12:28 is quite specific.

Matthew 11:16-19 ~ The parable of the children in the marketplace. Jesus has a little parable for those who sat through the ministry of John the Baptist and His own ministry without repenting. Children in the marketplace with flutes or other musical instruments would look to entertain, possibly for a bit of extra money. If people were not in the mood for something happy, like a dancing song, then they would switch to a sad song, or a funeral dirge in hopes of people being moved to tears, possibly being reminded of a sad time in their life. Some days, the people just sat there through the happy and the sad so they had this saying they would call to each other on days like that. Jesus compares His generation that sat through the ministry of John the Baptist and His own ministry with no reaction to those people in the marketplace. John the Baptist was quite the serious preacher. Jesus seems to be the exact opposite. He would eat and drink with sinful people like tax collectors. This got Him a reputation as “Friend of sinners.” This may have been why John the Baptist seemed to doubt His ministry. John predicted fiery judgment when the Coming One arrived, see Matthew 3:10-12. When Jesus came, there was no fiery judgment, but a lot of eating and drinking. Do you know people that it seems impossible to get some kind of reaction out of them? They have heard the serious preacher. They have been to the outreach event designed to get them to eat and drink while they hear the gospel. They sit there like a bump on a log with no repentance.

Matthew 14:1-12 ~ The death of John the Baptist. I include this mainly for continuity.

Matthew 16:24-28 ~ A death sentence for following Jesus. If Jesus is the Messiah, why is He promising a death sentence for anyone who follows Him? If you saw someone carrying a cross in the days of Jesus, there would only be one reason why: they were on their way to their own death. Instead of trying to avoid this death sentence, Jesus says that if you try to save your life, you will lose it. The word translated lose is really a much harsher word in the Greek usually meaning to destroy or to perish. Apollumi is a compound word from apo (separation) and olethros (destruction). Here are two examples as to how Matthew uses the word. Matthew 2:13, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy (apollumi) Him.” Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill (apokteino) the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy (apollumi) both soul and body in hell.” What Jesus is truly saying here is that if you take up your cross for your own death, you will save your life, but if you try to save your life, you will end up destroying yourself. Only by marching to your own death sentence to you avoid the destruction of death.

Matthew 17:1-13 ~ The dual nature of Elijah. The transfiguration which the three disciples witnessed prompted a conversation about the person of Elijah. The disciples know what the scribes are saying, but they want to know what Jesus would say. Jesus affirms that the scribes are correct, “Elijah truly shall first come and restore all things.” But, Jesus says that Elijah has come already. So which is it? Will Elijah come in the future? Or has Elijah already come in the past? This points us to the dual nature of prophecy. Sometimes, prophecy cannot be nailed down to one generation. Did John the Baptist restore all things? Is there an Elijah in the future that will come and restore all things? What are these things that he will restore? See Malachi 4:5-6.

Two opposing points of view. In one corner, we have Dispensationalism. This was popularized by C. I. Scofield and the publication of the Scofield Study Bible. What follows is a summary of this position in regards to the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus presented His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount concerning the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom had only been announced as at hand. “At hand is never a positive affirmation that the person or things said to be at hand will immediately appear, but only that no known or predicted event must intervene. When Christ appeared to the Jewish people, the net thing, in the order of revelation as it then stood, should have been the setting up of the Davidic kingdom.” Therefore the Sermon on the Mount applies to the Kingdom of Heaven, whenever it will be established here on the earth, meaning strictly future. The Sermon on the Mount has no application to the church, but only a moral application to Christians (page 999-1000 notes). It is only after the rejection of the message of the Kingdom of Heaven that the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13 apply to the church. Up until this point, “The O.T. prophets saw in one blended vision the rejection and crucifixion of the King, … and also His glory as David’s Son.” Only here in Matthew 13 did Christ reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. These parables show the Kingdom of Heaven existing in mystery form until the end of the age, which we know to be the church. Only then at the second coming of Christ will the Kingdom of Heaven come and be present here on the earth. The church does not currently have the power of the Kingdom of Heaven present.

In the other corner we have Catholicism and even Reformed Theology. The Catholic Church teaches the Kingdom of Heaven as referring solely to the church. They insist that Israelites had perverted the meaning of the kingdom so severely that when Christ came He was correcting their view concerning the kingdom when He announced it as at hand. The Kingdom of God means the ruling of God in our hearts. The seed and initial gathering of this kingdom is the Church, founded by Christ to preach the gospel of Christ and bring Christ’s own means of salvation to the world through the sacraments. The Kingdom was enshrined in the Church and they began to speak of the church as the Kingdom of God. The Church is the divine institution whereby we may make sure of attaining the spirit of Christ and so win the ultimate Kingdom of God where He reigns without end in the New Jerusalem.

For those who may have guessed, I do not ascribe to either one of these positions. The Kingdom of Heaven was present in the person of Jesus Christ. His disciples participated in the ministry of the Kingdom of Heaven. The church (see lesson #16 when I finally post it) also participates in the ministry of the Kingdom of Heaven). Yet the reign of Christ is not yet fully manifested as we know it will be. That does not mean that the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to the church. Those disciples that sat there listening to the Sermon on the Mount are both Israel and the church. They repented and entered the Kingdom of Heaven by faith.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

This entry was posted in Bible, Eschatology, Parables, Parables of Jesus, Prophecy, The Gospel of Matthew, The Kingdom of God, The Kingdom of Heaven and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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