The One Time It’s Good to Act Like a Child

Luke 18:15-17 (NASB)

And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

The language of salvation is a foreign language to most. “Sir, are you saved?” Saved from what? Biblical language is a learned language as well. For example, Biblical writers often refer to the kingdom of God. “The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). Daniel writes, “God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom” (Daniel 4:3). But what is the kingdom of God? A kingdom is a reign or dominion. God’s kingdom is His reign. Those who defy Christ and His authority are not part of the kingdom of God. Those who acknowledge the Lordship of Christ are members of the kingdom of God.

  1. The kingdom of God is received, not achieved.
    The church makes disciples—kingdom citizens—by preaching the gospel, baptizing believers and teaching them all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:18–20). Nevertheless, the kingdom of God is not something that we make happen. It is fundamentally a gift, something that our Creator gives to His people because of His great love for the world (John 3:16). We do not walk into the kingdom; rather, the kingdom embraces us. Receiving the kingdom of God happens like a child receives.
  2. Receiving the kingdom as a child means as a helpless infant.
    Jesus uses the example of a child to illustrate this point. We must receive the kingdom “like a child” (Luke 18:17). Here, the Greek word translated “child” refers to the youngest and most helpless of all. The word is παιδίον, or pedion, from which we get our English word pediatric (e.g. “of a little child”).
    Characteristics of receiving Christ’s dominion as a little child:
    1. With interest in Jesus – If the newborn hears a voice, he turns his head and eyes immediately.
    2. With nearness to Jesus – Dependency need is "the vital, originally infantile needs for mothering, love, affection, shelter, protection, security, food, and warmth”.
    3. With fixation on Jesus – This One Person I know, this One Person I believe, this One alone I desire.
    4. With appreciation for Jesus – Not in words, but in spirit and in attitude. A relaxed state.
    5. With nothing for Jesus – Nothing but who the infant is as a person. Nothing else.
    6. With trust in Jesus – There’s no ultimate trouble – just trust that’s what’s coming is good.
  3. Receiving the kingdom as a child means no mess in your life is too great for Him to clean up.
    Augustus Toplady’s hymn “Rock of Ages” includes this line: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” These lyrics wonderfully encapsulate Jesus’ teaching in Luke 18:15-17. We come into the kingdom only by admitting that we have nothing to give, that all we can do is rely on Christ for grace and forgiveness. Once in the kingdom, we continue to admit the same things. We never lose our need to depend wholly on Jesus. This is why this text comes after Jesus teaches us to pray.
    Closing Application:
    1. Kingdom citizens are always in a position of trusting the goodness of the King.
    2. Kingdom citizens are always the strongest and most protected when dependence is on the King.
    3. Kingdom citizens want nothing more and nothing less than the King’s presence in their lives.

Be Careful What You Think of Yourself

Luke 18:9-14 (NASB)

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke gives us an inspired introduction to this parable in v. 9. — “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.”

  1. Every person by nature is self-righteous
    It is the family disease of all the sons and daughters of Adam. We will at times secretly imagine that we are not so bad as some, but “most people will proclaim their goodness.” Scriptures plain teaching is “In many things we offend all” (James 3:2) and “There is not a person on earth that does good and sins not” (Ecc. 7:20). “As it is written, there is no one who is righteous, not one” (Rom. 3:9-10). From the beginning man has wrapped himself in his apron of fig leaves and defended himself by blaming his troubles on God and then on other people that God has placed in our lives. We all do it.

  2. There is a serious danger inherent with self-righteousness
    Before we look at the dangers, notice that the Pharisee and the Publican were outwardly the same.   They both “went up into the temple to pray.” They both set their faces in the same way. Outwardly they both walked in the same path. They entered the same house. So far as we can see, there was no difference whatever in their outward religious behavior. The differences come from other areas.
    1. A difference in societal reputation. One was a Pharisee, the other a Publican (tax collector for the Romans). Everything Pharisees did was in order to be seen by men. They stood on the streets and made long prayers. A true believer freely admits others are much better than they (Phil 3:3). To the Jews, nothing was more offensive than a Publican. If you wished to insult someone you might say, “He’s a friend of Publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34).
    2. A difference in self-recognition.“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed” (v. 11). Notice the phrase “stood by himself” – I am not like…I fast…I tithe…I serve – I am deserving. Notice the tax collector “stood at a distance.” He had no confidence in himself before God.
    3. A difference in their requests. “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” – the request of the Publican. Notice that there is no request made by the Pharisee. Expectations kill relationships, and the worst expectations are the silent ones. Self-righteous people expect others to recognize them.
    4. A difference in their reward. “One man went home justified and the other did not” (v. 14). This is the danger. One is treated by God “just as if he never sinned” (the sinner) and the other was judged by God for his sin (the self-righteous). Do you see the problem with denying sin? Until there is a recognition and acknowledgment of your sin to God and others there is no mercy.
  3. Mercy from God is only found through faith in Jesus Christ
    The word translated “have mercy on me” is found only one other time in the Bible (Hebrews 2:17). “Therefore, Jesus had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
    1. Self-righteousness is common among the profane of the world.
    2. Self-righteousness grows best in the soil of religion, as man declares himself good by his actions.
    3. Self-righteousness makes men and women harsh, hard and judgmental regarding others. He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves…and viewed others with contempt (v.9).
    4. Self-righteousness will not bow to the authority of the Word of God alone.
    5. Self-righteousness will never acknowledge and confess sin.
    6. Self-righteousness bars a sinner from God’s grace because it fights against faith in Christ alone.

Without the Powerful Juice for Life Called Prayer We Will All Crash

Luke 18:1-8 (NASB)

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

There is no record of Jesus ever teaching His disciples how to preach. Yet, the Scripture tells us many times that Christ taught His disciples how to pray. Not everyone is called to preach, but we are all called to pray.

  1. The stated purpose of this parable is an encouragement to always pray and never give up.
    “Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1). The best teachers are practitioners. The Air Force understands this. That is why those of you who are instructor pilots must first know how to fly. It is one thing to tell someone how to do something, but something altogether different to do it yourself. Jesus began “to do and to teach”.
    1. The fact that we pray is important to the Lord.
      If the Lord loves prayer and tells you parables to induce you to pray, then the devil hates prayer. “The one concern of the devil is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion, prayerless preaching, prayerless witnessing. He laughs at our toil. He mocks at our wisdom. But he trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick.
    2. Our prayers vocalize our dependence upon the Lord.
      The simplest definition of prayer I can give: Prayer is my vocalization of dependence upon God. God is honored by those who trust Him. In the Old Testament, priests could not approach Him with sweat on their brow. Sweat is a stain of human effort, sufficiency and ultimately of pride. The first time “sweat” is mentioned is in association with the curse. “From the sweat of the brow.” Prayer is to be unceasing because our dependence on God is unceasing. Our perfunctory prayers in church prove prayer is misunderstood. We pray, but we think everything depends on others.
    3. Our persistency in prayer is a sign of our absolute dependence on the Lord.
      When we knock on the door of heaven it is with the belief we have no hope but from heaven.

  2. The strange persons of this parable illustrate the need for persistent, unceasing prayer.
    There are two persons Jesus mentions in this parable: 1. An unjust judge, and 2. A persistent widow.
    1. The unjust judge
      Alfred Edersheim says that this judge was a municipal judge, a judge that was appointed by the Romans. This judge had a character that was devoid of all good. The Bible says here in verse 4 that he said to himself, "I do not care what God thinks, and I do not regard the opinions of man."
    2. The persistent widow
      We do not know what happened to this widow. We do not know the wrong that was done to her. All we know is, she knew she was wronged and she needed something done, so she kept coming. Imagine the scene in the courtroom: “Who is that woman?” “What’s she wanting?” “Get her out of here!” “I’ve got more important matters.” “What?” “She’s back again?” “And Again?”

  3. The sure promise this parable contains for those who come before the Lord in persistent prayer.
    Jesus says in v. 7 "Shall not God avenge His own elect?" Edersheim himself tells us that this wording is the wording of contrast and comparison, so that you could literally translate it like this: "How much more shall God avenge His elect? How much more shall God answer the prayers of His people?”
    1. The unjust judge has no pity; the just Judge is full of compassion.
    2. The widow is a stranger to the judge; you are God’s elect, His family.
    3. The unjust judge was under no obligation; God has placed Himself under a covenant of aid.
      “How much more will the just Judge answer your continual prayers from which you never give up?”

He’s Coming! Get Ready!

Luke 17:22-37 (NASB)

And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. [Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.”] And answering they *said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”

This particular passage of scripture is very debatable and controversial. Some see these words as already being fulfilled when Christ came in judgment in A.D. 70 of the Jewish people. I will take the approach today that this particular passage is primarily referring to Christ’s second coming. Could this also have been fulfilled in A.D. 70? Yes. If so, I believe there can easily be a double fulfillment. So, that horrific day of destruction that occurred in A.D. 70 can be a shadow of the future judgment that is to come upon our world.

  1. The return of Christ should create a longing in our heart.

    The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns… (Luke 17:22).

  2. Everyone will see, and everyone will know when Christ returns.

    People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here He is,’ but don’t go out and follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes (Luke 17:23-24).

  3. Jesus had to die in His first coming so we could truly live in His second coming.

    But first, the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation (Luke 17:25).

  4. The enjoyment and demands of life will blind people to the return of Christ.

    When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat, and the flood came and destroyed them all. And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30).

  5. We should loosen our grip on everything but Jesus.

    On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it (Luke 17:31-33).

  6. The return of Christ will be a devastating day of separation and destruction.

    That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.” “Where will this happen, Lord?” the disciples asked. Jesus replied, “Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near” (Luke 17:34-37).


The Transformation of Our Humiliation

Luke 17:11-21 (NASB)

While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

As we divided Luke 17, some felt we should begin with v. 11 and end with v. 19. The story of the 10 Lepers seemingly has nothing to do with vs. 20-21. But, after closer examination, you will see that the Kingdom of God has everything to do with Jesus healing of the 10 Lepers (only recorded in Luke). “Having been questioned” (v. 20 past tense) about the Kingdom, He says, “Behold, the Kingdom is in your midst” (v. 21).

  1. God’s Kingdom is all about Jesus meeting sinners (lepers) where they are.
    “Ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him…” (v.12).
    1. Leprosy is a very vivid picture of a life damaged by one’s poor choices.
      The term “leprosy” (including leper, lepers, leprosy, leprous) occurs 68 times in the Bible—55 times in the Old Testament (Hebrew = tsara’ath) and 13 times in the New Testament (Greek = lepros, lepra). In the Old Testament, the instances of leprosy most likely meant a variety of infectious skin diseases and even mold and mildew on clothing and walls. Leprosy was considered a curse of God and associated with sin. It did not kill, but neither did it seem to end. Instead, it lingered for years, causing the tissues to degenerate and deforming the body.
      1. The leprosy of sin brings isolation.
        The leper was barred (by law) from the assembly in the Temple and from the congregation.
      2. The leprosy of sin brings humiliation.
        The leper (by law) had to stand at a distance from people and shout “unclean, unclean.”
      3. The leprosy of sin brings degradation.
        The leprosy bacillus destroys nerve endings that carry pain signals; therefore, patients with advanced leprosy experience a total loss of physical pain. When these people cannot sense touch or pain, they injure themselves or can be unaware of injury caused by outside agents
    2. Jesus is interested in people whose lives have been damaged by their sin.
      “Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee (on His way to Jerusalem)” (v. 11). This is an uncommon route. Most people avoided at all costs the border with Samaria. Not Jesus. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of full acceptance, Christ came to save sinners” (I Tim. 4:9).
  2. God’s Kingdom is all about Jesus transforming sinners (lepers) into something new.
    The idea that God saves sinners but leaves sinners in their sin is contrary to the Scripture (Matt. 1:21).
    1. Transformation commences with recognition.
      “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v. 13). You don’t need deliverance until you see danger.
    2. Transformation continues through faith.
      “And as they were going, they were cleansed” (v. 14). Going where? To the priests to “show themselves.” In the Law of the Hebrews, the leper went to the priest not to be healed, but for the priest to declare “You have been healed.” You will never experience the power of Jesus Christ till you live “believing Jesus will change you.”
    3. Transformation culminates with thanksgiving.
      Only one returned to give thanks to Jesus. Were the other nine delivered? Yes. However, one of the evidences of a total transformation of your life is an attitude of gratitude to the Savior.
  3. God’s Kingdom is all about Jesus challenging sinners (lepers) to see others transformed.
    “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the Kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is in your midst” (vs. 20-21).

Forgiving Others Easily and Often Is No Big Deal

Luke 17:1-10 (NASB)

He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

The ten verses we will read this morning contain some of the strongest teachings of Jesus Christ. Were it not for the fact He is Creator of all and has all authority (Mt. 28:18), we might be tempted to dismiss it.

  1. Christ warns us that following Him is dangerous.
    It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come” (v. 1). We get our English scandal from the Greek word translated “stumbling block.” Greeks would often trap animals by setting up a “scandal” (trap). So too, we have enemies that “set traps.” The “rich man” treated his dogs better than Lazarus (Luke 16).
    1. Even hurtful scandals ultimately redound to God’s glory.
      “Even the wrath of man will praise You; the remnant of wrath You will restrain” (Psalm 76:10). “What will not turn to God’s praise, shall not be suffered to break out” Matthew Henry.
    2. God will properly punish those who seek to harm His people.
      But woe to him through whom they (the stumbling blocks) come” (v. 1). Jesus here refers to an ancient form of capital punishment reserved for only the most reprehensible criminals. He is saying that earthly capital punishment is better than facing God who will hold him accountable.
  2. Christ calls us to forgive those who miss the mark.
    Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (v. 2).
    1. Christians are to talk to, not about, sinners who miss the mark.
      The word rebuke does not mean, “ream out.” On the contrary, the root word speaks of esteem. If you don’t esteem a person enough to talk to him and with him, then the problem is in you.
    2. We speak with someone in humility and show them their error.
      The problem we have is that “We aren’t on our guard!” We think we’re better, so we scream.
    3. Brothers can’t seek forgiveness unless they are shown where they’ve missed the mark.
      Where shunning and separation among the saints occurs, it’s because of selfishness and shame.
  3. Christ calls us to forgive those who scandalize us.
    If he sins against you seven times…and returns… seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (vs. 4). If no verse existed in the NT but this one, then Christianity in all its grace and beauty would be seen.
    1. Sin doesn’t stop when you become a saint, shame does.
      “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?” No. Christ says, “Sin against me once, twice, three, four, five, six, seven times … no shame on either of us.” Relational Rule #1.
    2. Grace calls us to say we are sinners and that Christ is our Savior.
      Notice the language of Jesus, “If he comes back to you ‘saying’ I repent, forgive him” (v. 4). Love believes all things. That’s love. When you don’t believe all things, then that’s not love.
    3. We forgive others precisely as Christ has forgiven us.
      The number seven in this text is most likely a Hebrew way of speaking of “infinity.” It’s a little like the number 1,000 in Hebrew as in “My father owns the cattle on 1,000 hills” (Psalm 50:10).
  4. Forgiving others easily and often is no big deal.
    With mouths wide open, and eyes big as saucers, the disciples respond to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” Beginning with v. 5 and going through v. 10 Jesus clears up some of the disciples’ misconceptions.
    1. It’s never the amount of faith that is important, it’s the object of your faith (v. 6).
    2. Christ is the Captain of our souls and we are His servants so we do what He says (vs. 7-8).
    3. Forgiving other people is no big deal, but it is the evidence you are really Christ’s (vs. 9-10).

I'd Rather Be Lazarus than the Rich Man

“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a warning to rich religious workers, not a description of hell. Parables are stories that parallel real life. In Luke 15-16 Jesus is confronting the Jewish religious leaders.

  1. Real life in the days of Jesus.
    Jerusalem is ruled by two religious leaders, two powerful Jewish priests named Annas and Caiaphas. These men are named in Luke 3:1-3. Annas served as high priest when Jesus was young (A.D. 6-15). The other man, Caiaphas, followed Annas and served as high priest over Israel from A.D. 18 to 36.
    1. Annas had five sons and one daughter. His daughter married Caiaphas. Interestingly, every one of Annas five sons– as well as his son-in-law Caiaphas– served as the high priest of Israel during Annas' lifetime. Though Caiaphas was the high priest during the time of Jesus, Luke names both Annas and Caiaphas because Annas was the power behind the high priest of Israel. It was said that "Annas ruled the religious world," even though his own children were the chief priests.
    2. Annas and Caiaphas hated everything to do with Christ. Caiaphas particularly was the chief antagonist of our Lord. Caiaphas lived in a palatial mansion inside the walls of Jerusalem. He served as President of the Sanhedrin. If you saw Caiaphas walking around the streets of Jerusalem, he would always have his servants and attendants around him, and he would be dressed in the finest purple and fine linen. He ate the most sumptuous meals, drank the finest wines, always traveled first class, and lived better than the 'common Jew.'
  2. Jesus condemned the religious leaders and ignored the political leaders.
    It is striking to discover that Jesus says very little about the corrupt Roman and Judean political leaders of His day. These leaders–men like Tiberius Caesar, Herod Antipas, and Pontius Pilate–were all evil men. Yet, Jesus says very little publicly about any of them. In fact, when questioned about the supreme political leader (Caesar), Jesus simply says "Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar." Instead of speaking against King Herod's abuses while on trial, Jesus is completely silent before him. It seems Jesus had little to say about politics but He roundly condemned religious leaders in His day.
  3. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Caiaphas and Annas sought to kill Lazarus.
    "The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus (John 12:9-11). Our text is directed at Caiaphas, the high priest.
  4. Religious leaders, above all people, should avoid seeking to become rich through ministry.
    Caiaphas, the High Priest of Israel, is the rich man in Jesus parable. Caiaphas is the man "who lifted his eyes in Hades.” The rich man wears the robes the color of the High Priest (purple and fine linen).
    • The rich man mistreats the poor man named Lazarus (just as Caiaphas sought to kill Lazarus).
    • The rich man asks a messenger to go to his 'father's house' (Annas' house).
    • The rich man had five brothers (Annas had five sons, Caiaphas was his son-in-law and considered his brothers-in-law to be his brothers).
    • The rich man desires a warning to be given to his five brothers about their behavior. All five of Caiaphas' brothers-in-law – the sons of Annas– followed Caiaphas as the 'chief priest' of Israel.
    • The rich man is told that they will not believe "even if someone rises from the dead" (just as Caiaphas and his five brothers refused to believe in Jesus after Lazarus had been resurrected).

We Are Family: An Overview and a Summary

We have spent 16 weeks studying God’s purpose on the earth from the Flood (2345 B.C.) to today. The reason this is such an important study is because if you believe God is intentional and purposeful in the establishment of nations on this earth, then you can know He is intentional in establishing His Kingdom over all the nations of the earth (see Psalm 21:1, Isaiah 60:15, Romans 8:17, Matthew 5:5, Daniel 2:44).

  1. The Kingdom of Christ among the nations means Christ’s people learn to live life to its fullest now.
    Josephus (A.D. 37-100), the Jewish historian, describes in his autobiography how he went to a rebel involved in revolutionary activity. Josephus told the brigand he needed to “quit pursuing his own way of bringing about revolution” and he needed to follow Josephus' way. However, in the Greek, the words were literally, "repent and believe in me," exactly as Jesus’ words in the gospels (Mark 1:15).
    1. Repentance and faith in Christ mean far more than going to heaven.
      To be sure, repentance and following Jesus includes going to heaven, but the words that Jesus used in the first century were heard in a different way than we hear it today. Most Americans think in individualistic terms when it comes to “believe in Jesus,” and we think mainly in reference to what happens after death. Jesus came “so that we live life to the fullest” now (John 10:10).
    2. The Jews in Jesus day thought the Kingdom would come by force.
      They assumed that a Messiah would bring the Kingdom through military means. Jesus had a different agenda, but the difference was not in postponing the individual's possession of the kingdom of heaven until after they died. Rather, He described a different kind of Kingdom now!
  2. The Kingdom of Christ among the nations can be illustrated through participation and anticipation.
    Imagine that I want to visit the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. I have found a really good travel agent who already has access to some very good deals on airline and hotel tickets. I make the reservations and buy the tickets now (2017). If I do this, those tickets can never be taken away from me. My ID will be required to redeem the tickets in 2020, but I can never lose them. I anticipate going to Tokyo.
    1. Most people think of the Kingdom of Heaven as a place of anticipation.
      We talk about heaven, we can’t wait for heaven, we think about heaven – ready to go soon!
    2. But Jesus taught that the Kingdom He brings to the world is participation.
      For sake of illustration, suppose instead of buying tickets you meet someone who is a sports agent and he negotiates for you to have a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team in 2020! With this invitation you get to live, train, work, play and generally spend your life as an Olympic basketball player. In short, your whole life and identity are shaped by being a member of the team. Sure, Tokyo 2020 is the ultimate destination, but everything you do now is Olympic work!
  3. The Kingdom of Christ among the nations is the resurrection of life through death (like the Flood).
    Shem, Ham, and Japheth came off the ark and represent the human race in harmony as family. So God crucifies the old man you used to be and restores within you life as it was meant to be lived. R. C. Sproul puts it like this: faith = salvation + works, as opposed to salvation = faith - works. Christ enables us to become the people He has called us to be, to live life the way it’s to be lived. So “This Present Kingdom” is the belief that God is moving among the world with the Good News.
    1. How does an understanding that the Kingdom of God is now change your view of life?
    2. What difference will “The Kingdom Now” make when it comes to sharing Christ with the lost?
    3. If God was at work among the nations of old (the Flood), in what way is He at work today?
    4. How has this study on Noah and His Three Sons changed your view of the Bible? The Gospel?

The Universe and Our World: God Unfolding His Grace for Ages to Come

The Gospel we offer here today seems so different from the good news that Jesus and His apostles give. To the early church, the Gospel was made clear in the life, words, and work of Jesus.

The early church had only the Old Testament and the oral traditions that would eventually become the four gospels. The four gospels preserve the life and words of Jesus, and so we hear Jesus’ declaration of the Gospel. Jesus declares that “the kingdom of God” has arrived (Mark 1:15).

But this little phrase is absolutely meaningless apart from the story of Israel – apart from the Old Testament, and in particular Daniel, Isaiah, and the Psalms, “Jesus died for my sins” — a phrase that sits at the heart of the telling of the Gospel in the west, indeed in some circles has become all that the Gospel is — is a reductionist statement that does at least two things.

  1. It abstracts the meaning of Jesus life and sacrifice from history.
  2. It de-politicizes the Lordship of Christ by isolating Jesus from the kingdom.

In evangelicalism, we have made atonement all about a personal relationship and a future other-world destiny. Wright argues — and the only conclusion possible in relation to a theology of the kingdom — that in restoring us to right relationship with God the king, the atonement enables us to embody an alternative kingdom – an alternative way of bringing God’s power into the world.

At the cross God Himself becomes our deliverer. The all-powerful God became the Son of Man, the Servant, the Shepherd, the Savior. In God’s kingdom power is used to serve others.

But Jesus called them aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave” (Matt. 20:25-27).

Atonement – from the earliest stories, like Abraham’s almost sacrifice of his only son – demonstrates an alternative to power. Redemption is not meant to take us out of this world but is an entry point of God’s power (His kingdom) into this world. He saved you by serving you so He could save you to serve others.

For the eons to come, God has given us the purpose for the universe:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6-7).

God has chosen to redeem the descendants of the three sons of Noah in order that this world might reflect the grace He shows to the universe for the eons to come.

Salvation takes a selfish man physically, mentally, and soulishly, and turns him into a selfless man.

Heaven Is the Earth with the Curse Reversed

“In those days…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44). “The meek will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

The Resurrection ushers in God’s Kingdom in totality (our last enemy is death)(I Cor. 15:26).
You and I will be given heavenly, glorious, physical bodies – (I Cor. 15:12-32).
The Bible never indicates the soul exists apart from a body. Christ before His Incarnation appeared in a similar body. Enoch, Elijah, and Moses (and Moses died) are in heaven, but two were seen with Christ at the Transfiguration having bodies (Luke. 9:28-36). When we are raised from the dead our physical beings will be transformed (the corruptible puts on incorruption). Jesus called people in Heaven by name (Luke 16:25) including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11). We will know one another.

  1. Human beings do not become angels in heaven, we remain human beings.
  2. To be human means that we feel emotions (the soul).
    Our present emotions are skewed by sin, but in heaven, we will be delivered from that sin.
    There will be joy without envy, anger without selfishness, sorrow without regret.
    He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; no mourning, no pain” (Rev. 21:4).
  3. When we get to heaven we will continue to have desires.
    God created our desires. He loves it when we find satisfaction in what He’s prepared for us.
    We’ll have desires to discover, to learn, to explore, to relate, to invent, to create, to live!
    Heaven is not the absence of itches; it is the satisfying scratch for every itch.”
    Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).
    In short, in heaven, we will continue with our identities forever (see Is. 66:22; Rev. 20:15).

What the resurrection will produce is a personhood fully redeemed.
Our bodies will be real physical bodies with a natural beauty that won’t need “cosmetics.”

  1. The form of our bodies will be perfectly suited for a redeemed world.
    The body shall be of that size which it either had attained or should have attained in the flower of its youth and shall enjoy the beauty that arises from preserving symmetry and proportion in all its members . . . overgrown and emaciated persons need not fear (Augustine: The City of God). No disease. No deformities. No decay.
  2. The body will have all five senses (and maybe more).
    Taste, touch, sight, smell, sound are all ours to enjoy in God’s creation (see appendix 24).
  3. It is possible that there is a radiance of the body that portrays beauty.
    (Matt. 13:43; Dan. 12:3). This may be figurative, but it also may portray true radiance.
  4. People in heaven are depicted as wearing clothes.
    (Rev. 7:9; Matt. 17:1-4). Clothing is more than a covering for sin’s shame. It is often worn as a matter of comfort and appearance. Clothes are instructive (Ex. 28:4-43).

The entire scope of this study is to show how the First Adam failed to accomplish what the Last Adam succeeded in doing. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, has chosen to redeem out of the world men “from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). The world comes from one family, and the Father seeks to ransom us from our sin and selfishness, but demonstrating the power of love and service to others in atonement. We know that the purpose of God for the ages to come is to demonstrate His favor to the world, and a taste of His Kingdom today is to model His love for us to the world around us.

See Appendix 24The Kingdom of God for the Ages to Come


Why It's Essential that Christ Reigns in Your Heart

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.

These five verses contain some really disjointed statements one right after the other that seemingly make no sense. For example, Jesus talks about “heaven and earth passing away” (v. 17), but in the very next verse talks about one divorcing a spouse (v. 18). What has this verse to do with the other verse?

  1. Context is always the key to proper understanding of any biblical text.
    Any text (verse of Scripture) taken out of its context (before and after) is a pretext (false conclusion). Jesus has been speaking about love of money (greed), and the Pharisees became upset (v. 14). Our Lord then speaks to the Pharisees (v.15) and calls them self-righteous people who justify themselves.
    1. To whom is Jesus speaking? To the self-righteous Pharisees who love money.
    2. Why is He speaking? To show the difference in the Gospel of Kingdom and the Kingdom of Greed. David Livingstone said, “I’d rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God than on the throne of England out of His will.” If being in the will of God means that you’re working in some lonely, distant, mosquito-infested mission field, you are still in the best place you could possibly be. What is His will?
  2. The Gospel of Kingdom is Christ controlling my heart.
    In Scripture, the heart is the seat of affections. It includes the mind, the emotions and the will. It is the person within. The heart is invisible to all but God. That’s one of the reasons we are not to judge. However, Jesus knew the hearts of those who followed Him, and He was unafraid to call them out.
    1. The Pharisees loved money (v. 14).
      Jesus had already said, “You can’t serve both God and money” (v. 13). Thus, the Pharisees weren’t serving God. You can be a leader, a teacher, a mentor and not serve God.
    2. The Pharisees scoffed at Jesus (v. 14).
      Which means they wanted nothing to do with His authority. He was about to show them who was really boss. He was predicting the end of their system and preaching His Kingdom.
    3. The Pharisees justified themselves in the sight of others (v. 15).
      Notice the language very carefully. They worked hard to show the invisible; to declare what was unseen. Those who shout the loudest about a virtue are the ones possessing that virtue the least.
    4. The Pharisees were doing things detestable in the site of God (v. 15).
      Those things were matters of the heart (that God saw, man did not). The seven deadly sins that “God detests” are a “proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked actions, feet that are swift to run toward mischief, a false witness that gossips, and one who sows discord among his brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  3. Without Christ in the heart, there is no possibility of entering the Kingdom.
    1. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John” (v. 16). Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom.
    2. Since that time (John) the Gospel of the Kingdom has been proclaimed” (v. 16).
    3. Everyone is forcing his way into it” (v. 16). – this language is used throughout the Gospels to show how the Pharisees wanted the Kingdom, so they violently grabbed for it (Matt. 11:12).
    4. It’s easier for heaven and earth to pass away than one stroke of the Law to fail” (v. 17). “Heaven and earth” represents Temple worship in Jerusalem. The Temple was one of the ancient wonders of the world. Could this Temple really “pass away?” Yes! When the Law was fulfilled.
    5. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery” (v. 18). In their attempt to justify themselves, the Pharisees made all kinds of allowances for their behavior of divorce.
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