August 14, 2010 INTRODUCTION – Two weeks ago Rob talked to you about Jesus’s commissioning of His twelve disciples in Matthew 10:1-15. It’s a pretty cool passage of scripture as we see the authority and power He gave them to preach the good news of the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons etc. Just as He sent them out then, He is sending us out today.
But it is crucial that we understand the world He is sending us into. That’s what the rest of the chapter deals with – and I would like to read that now. Matthew 10:16-42
Woah! I’m not sure this is what I signed up for – – Basically Jesus just told His disciples that they will endure and experience persecution and even death from either the state, the corrupt religious leaders, their own families or possibly all of the above.
So one question you may be asking after reading this passage is: what is our alternative? Can we discuss plan b’s and c’s?? If following Jesus seems so hard and even dangerous, where else can I turn? Well there are only two kingdoms on the earth. Every nation and government; every man, woman, young person and child is either under the power, authority and influence of one or the other.
First you have the kingdom of God that Jesus Christ firmly established when He walked this earth and especially after His resurrection, and the release of the Holy Spirit. Every man, woman, young person and child who has bowed the knee to King Jesus and asked Him to save and cleanse them from their sin, and to rule their lives – is in this kingdom; a kingdom that is characterized by peace, joy, righteousness, faithfulness, justice and supernatural power – among many other wonderful things.
Then you have the kingdom of darkness that Satan has ruled and established with his hordes of demons ever since they were kicked out of heaven. Everyone who is not seeking as a lifestyle to submit to King Jesus and be a part of His kingdom is under the control of the kingdom of darkness. This kingdom is characterized by deceit, lies, violence, perversion, hatred, corruption, and many other horrible things. The king of this kingdom lives to destroy you in this life if he can; but especially in the life to come. There are your two alternatives. So assuming you have chosen the kingdom of God, I want to show you now from this passage how to thrive in that kingdom in the midst of the madness of the world.
Jesus Christ, unlike some of those preachers who claim to represent him these days, was very straight forward about the hostility and opposition we would face in carrying out His mission.
I. WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD – – vs. 16-23 6 things A. They are wolves – attack dogs – – they devour, they are vicious – especially when they run in packs- 16
B. They will arrest you if they can – 17
C. They will beat you if they can – 17
D. They will betray you if they can (even your own family) – 21
E. They will hate you for sure- 22
F. They will persecute you if they can– 23
At least two things will affect the severity of this hostility: 1. How aggressive and obedient we are at living and proclaiming the truth
2. How significant our society has been impacted by the Judeo/Christian worldview, which makes arresting, beating and killing a little more difficult to get by with
So if we do find ourselves undergoing this kind of persecution, how are we to respond?
II. How you must respond – – vs. 16-23 4 action steps or crucial characteristics A. Be shrewd or cunning as a snake – 16 – – only appears one other time in N.T. – – Luke 16:8 re: money; prudent or wise Ex. – men need to be very careful when seeking to minister to women and vice versa. In general – it is best for men to minister to men and women to women. Sometimes when you are in a very public place – you can get by with it. Remember – the reason we need to be as shrewd or cunning or wise as snakes is because people we are seeking to reach can sometimes be like wolves – who love to devour and attack. Ex. of anne with neighbor and me with ksby reporter
B. Be innocent as a dove – 16 – – – shows up two others x’s; Rom. 16:9 – “…I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” Context is men in the church who claim to be Christians, but are totally ruled by their fleshly desires. Phil 2:15 “…prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”
As you and I learn to go into the world- seeking to win the lost – – we are going to be around people that are mired in sin. Jesus expects us to go into their world, but not allow any of it to rub off on us.
Men – if you are seeking to win another man – and he is a typical lust controlled man – if you can – try to talk to him outside his house or at a neutral place. Their houses very likely will have big t.v’s blaring with ungodly stuff; garage swith big posters of nude or semi nude women, and who knows what else laying around.
Dealing with ungodly jokes & maligning leaders
C. Beware of men – 17 – Don’t be naïve. Don’t put your trust in men. Never underestimate the potential for evil – lost people have. Smiles and winsome personalities can hide secret destructive sin patterns and evil motives. One reason why we decided to not give interviews anymore
D. Do not worry about what you will say or how you will respond when brought before them – 19 – “Fret not it leads to evil doing.” Sometimes I wonder if our calmness and security is as powerful as our words. Phil. 1:28 “in no way alarmed by your opponents – which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.”
III. Truths to bank on – – six of them A. Jesus intentionally sends us into such a world – 16 “Behold I send you out…” He obviously knows how to keep us to Himself and protect us from evil. He cares about our holiness and godliness far more than we do. Paul said to the church in Thessalonica as they were seeking to proclaim the gospel in the midst of a hostile and perverse culture and society , “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
B. If you continue to follow Jesus – you will gain an audience from time to time with powerful influential people – 18 – only one main purpose for this influence or opportunity – – testifying of Jesus Beware of wanting their respect or acceptance. Vance Havner – one of the great preachers of the South in the 20th century said, “Popularity has slain more prophets of God than persecution ever did.”
C. God will give you the words you need in those situations – 19 Our ability to experience this will depend on how much we seek to grow in righteousness and godliness as a lifestyle. If we have sloppy soulish speech in our normal course of life, and then all of a sudden find ourselves in front of an unexpected audience, we will not be totally transformed all of a sudden from something we normally are. But if we are seeking to follow and please the Lord as a lifestyle, we can count on the Holy Spirit giving us words – when an opportunity suddenly arises.
D. The Spirit of your Father will actually speak through us – 20 Very unusual phrase; only time I think it occurs in the Bible. Speaks of intimacy. Also speaks of fatherly wooing and authority through us.
E. He expects us to endure – 22 The promises and blessing of God are for those who endure and overcome
F. There is a time to endure and a time to flee, but not from our mission – just to the next city – 23
Transition: Now at this point Jesus knew some would be thinking, “I’m not sure I like this persecution talk.” So He reminds them that basically a disciple is meant to become like His teacher in every way. We are to share in His glory as well as His humiliation. You cannot separate the two. Paul knew this well; and I think that is why he said in his letter to the church in Phillipi, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Let’s read it. (vs. 24,25)
IV. How a Disciple Should See Himself – – vs. 24, 25 A. A Disciple should never expect different treatment than His Master received We know Peter did not readily receive this message in the early days of his journey with Jesus Christ. But later on he was quick to say, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” No pain, no gain. No cross, no resurrection. No humiliation; no exaltation. No suffering, no holiness
Charles Spurgeon said of this principle, “God had a Son that had no fault, but He never had a son that was not found fault with. God Himself was slandered in paradise by Satan. Let us not expect therefore to escape from the venomous tongue.”
V. A Word About Fearing man vs. 26-42 (8 things) A. We are not to fear our enemies because God will eventually shed light on all darkness – – the light will pierce and expose the darkness – – 26
B. What Jesus tells us in private, we are to speak in public . Thus our effectiveness in public with people will depend on our private secret life with Christ – 27
C. We are not to fear physical harm; rather we are to fear God who is able to destroy both our body and our soul in hell – 28
D. Our worth and value before God is inestimable! – 29-31
E. We must be bold in our confession, which requires a death to unrighteous fear – 32
F. We must not have fairy tale perceptions of what Jesus has really sent us into the world to do. – 34
G. We must accept what Jesus says about what kind of worship and devotion He expects – 37-39
H. We must remember that He will respond to people in like kind as they have responded to us. – 40-42
CONCLUSION – – Persecution is not to be sought or feared. But we must know it is never wasted and historically has borne amazing fruit.
C.H. Spurgeon again, “Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood. The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die, if we are ever to conquer this world for Christ.”
John Foxe, who wrote Foxe’s book of Martyrs said, “But, though persecuting malice raged, yet the gospel shone with resplendent brightness; and firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success.”
Albert Barnes – the great Presbyterian minister and theologian of almost two centuries ago said re: the fruit of persecution, “It has become a settled principle that nothing which is good and true can be destroyed by persecution, but that the effect ultimately is to establish more firmly, and to spread more widely, that which it was designed to overthrow. It has long since passed