(NOTE: This is a ‘rough draft’ of a chapter of my finished book- available on Amazon via Title Link: Thy Kingdom Come- Here and Now!)
Part III… Advancing Christ’s Kingdom
Chapter 14: Christ’s Kingdom According to the Scriptures
One of the most profound truths revealed in the Scriptures is the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Eternal Kingdom of God that transcends space and time is truly from everlasting to everlasting. With respect to the race of man, the children of Adam- those who are blood-bought heirs of salvation look forward to an idyllic earth realm with the Lord Jesus Christ as the reigning monarch over all the nations of this restored planet. His Kingdom is inevitable since He has already won the title deed to this ‘small’ piece of property when He declared it is finished on Calvary’s cross. Those who have been blessed to discern the future ponder the likelihood of this earth being the launching pad for redeemed humanity in space exploration and the colonization of far flung planetary systems that will accommodate an ever-expanding race of glorified beings.
Being an American raised in a democracy where the emphasis is the rule of the people through representative government, it is difficult to grasp and fully comprehend the implications of living in a future kingdom. Secular history as well as the record of God’s Word reveal the power exercised by rulers of different kingdoms in diverse cultures. Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Our world history testifies to that sad reality with many rulers being ruthless and corrupt, while a smaller number have been benevolent to their people. The contrast between King Arthur and Genghis Khan is radical. Likewise the reign of King David compared to King Saul clearly shows the importance of the attitude of the heart. Yet no earthly king or kingdom will compared to the imminent Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Advancing Kingdom, the unrelenting, ever-expanding, inexorable Kingdom… Hallelujah! Truly the knowledge of the glory of the Lord and His realm will cover the earth (Habakkuk 2:14) and in ultimate reality will be the beginning of His universal empire in this physical universe.
The gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the prophesied Messiah, and also as King of the universe. The phrase kingdom of heaven appears 32 times in Matthew, but nowhere else in the New Testament. To show that Jesus fulfills all the qualifications for the Messiah, Matthew quotes more Old Testament Scripture- about 130 references and allusions- than any other book of the Bible. The phrase that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled appears 9 times in Matthew and not once in the other three gospels. In order to begin to internalize the mysteries of the Kingdom and walk as royal emissaries in the earth, we will look closely at the portrait of our King Jesus painted in the Gospel of Matthew.
As has been stated the Kingdom of which Christ is King is composed of Abraham’s descendants- according to the flesh and by faith. Of all those listed in the Lord Jesus Christ’s two genealogies (Matthew 1 and Luke 3), Abraham, David, and Mary were the three individuals ultimately critical to bringing forth Christ. Abraham represents a life lived out by faith; David- a life dealt by the cross; and Mary – a life of absolute submission to the Lord. Jesus is called “the son of David, the son of Abraham” in the very first verse of chapter 1. He had to fulfill two functions : as the son of David, the prophetic kingly line, and as the son of Abraham, the priestly line. As the son of David He is to be like Solomon who uttered profound words of wisdom and built the holy temple of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus spoke more profound truth than Solomon, and He is building a spiritual temple via the Holy Spirit. In typifying the son of Abraham He is to be like Isaac who was offered on the altar of sacrifice at the command of Jehovah yet lived, and he married Rebecca who was not Hebrew. Likewise Jesus was offered on the cross by the will of God, and through His death and resurrection has entered into marriage with His church formed of both Jews and Gentiles.
Of note in the genealogy of Matthew is the mention of four women. In the Old Testament there is no genealogy that registers a woman, it’s always “the son of so and so”… while here we find not only women but four who were all Gentiles. Tamar was the daughter in law of Judah with whom she committed the sin of incest. Rahab of Jericho was a harlot. Ruth was a Moabite, a nation that was forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:3). And although Bathsheba is not mentioned by name, she is referred to as the wife of Uriah the Hittite with whom David the king committed adultery. These references are designed I believe to give every non-Jewish believer hope and confidence in God’s love and acceptance in His family.
The reliability and accuracy of the Bible as the word of God has been mentioned earlier with the strong challenge and encouragement for both the skeptic and the student of Scripture to delve deeply into the provable inerrancy of the Holy Bible. The writings of Josh McDowell, Lee Stroebel, and Dr. Gleason Archer are just a few of the multitude of books in Christian Apologetics that very clearly and systematically prove the case for faith in God’s revealed truth. This understanding is so important for without it the enemy will continually seed doubt in our hearts as we attempt to ponder the exposition of the Word. It is of paramount importance that we understand the need for a Messiah, and from that premise come to realize in our study that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only candidate in human history who could have and did fulfill every one of the several hundred prophecies concerning the person of the Messiah.
Before we can recognize the rightful throne of the Lord Jesus Christ we must come to the understanding of the irrefutable nature of this truth. The so-called liberal Christian church is shipwrecked due to their lack of faithful understanding of the Word, and the serious lack of personal study that perpetuates not only ignorance but misguided erroneous interpretation. There is no credibility in the statement of any truth without confidence, and one cannot have confidence if all he rests his faith on is pithy platitudes and wishful thinking. Taking just 21 of the several hundred prophecies concerning the Messiah fulfilled in the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth we’ll briefly consider the statistical probability in an understandable manner:
- Birthplace- Bethlehem (compare Micah 5:2 w/ Matthew 2:1)
- Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 w/ Matthew 1:18-23)
- Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10 w/ Hebrews 7:14)
- Would be in and come out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1 w/ Matthew 2:13-15)
- Rejected by His own (Psalm 69:8; Isaiah 53:3 w/ John 1:10,11; 19:15)
- Betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9; 55:12-14 w/ John 13:18,26)
- Betrayal price- 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12 w/ Matthew 26:14-16)
- Silver purchased potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13 w/ Matthew 27:3-7)
- Beaten and spat upon (Isaiah 50:6 w/ Matthew 26:67)
- Struck with a rod (Micah 5:1 w/ Matthew 27:30)
- Forsaken by His followers (Zechariah 13:7 w/ Matthew 26:31,56
- Manner of His death (Zechariah 12:10 w/ John 19:18,34)
- Wounded hands and feet (Psalm 22:16 w/ John 20:25,27)
- Died among criminals (Isaiah 53:9,12 w/ Mark 15:27,28)
- Buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9 w/ Matthew 27:57-60)
- Persecutors mocked him (Psalm 22:7,8 w/ Matthew 27:39-44)
- His cry of agony- the exact words (Psalm 22:1 w/ Matthew 27:46)
- Given vinegar and gall to drink (Psalm 69:21 w/ John 19:18-30)
- His clothing divided by lot (Psalm 22:18 w/ John 19:23,24)
- None of His bones would be broken(Psalm 34:20 w/ John 19:36)
- His body would not decompose in the tomb (Hosea 6:2; Psalm 16:10 w/ Acts 2:30,31)
If one were to take just eight of these recognized occurrences in the life of Christ and statistically analyze the likelihood of one person in history fulfilling these prophecies concerning the Messiah, it would be like laying silver dollars across the state of Texas with only one marked in red and then expecting a blind-folded person to find that one coin on the very first attempt. Taking 48 of the known prophecies of the Messiah fulfilled in Christ Jesus would be a number that far exceeds human comprehension: it’s 10 to the 157th power to 1-which if represented by atoms would be more than enough to fill the entire known universe! (see the tract Holy Bible- Wholly True by Winkie Pratney). It would be clear to any sincere truth seeker investigating the claims of Christ that Jesus is the Messiah.
The Old Testament scriptures give many glimpses of the deity and majesty of the Messiah. The Trinity is also revealed showing that God is a plural being though only one God, who is eternally existent. Elohim, the plural form of El– one of God’s names, is found throughout the holy scripture preceding the New Testament. In the very first chapter of Genesis (1:26) God declares “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…“ In the New Testament the writers clearly spoke of the deity of Jesus Christ and His preeminence. He is identified as the Creator of the universe (John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:16), God manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), and as our Holy Lord and Savior (Titus 1:1-4). In the supernatural acts of healing the sick, resurrecting the dead, feeding five thousand men plus women and children with a small boy’s lunch, and defying the laws of gravity by walking on water, the Lord Jesus demonstrated His authority over the laws of His own creation and thereby revealed His divine nature.
In Matthew 1 the miraculous birth of Jesus is described, and then it states in: vv22,23… Now all this has happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel (which is translated, God with us). In just one verse the false teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is wiped out. Jesus was, is, and always will be God with us.
In Matthew 2 we see the magi or wise men from the east coming to Jerusalem… v2… Saying, Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star at its rising and have come to worship Him.
Here we find that the very first people who sought the Lord were Gentiles, who declare Jesus as King of the Jews. This clearly shows that Christ’s redemptive work is for both Jews and Gentiles, an all inclusive gift and offer of salvation… to those who receive it. In Matthew 3 we see the coming of John the Baptist which we discussed in a previous chapter concerning the baptism of Christ, but what bears repeating is the revelation of the Trinity which again refutes and discredits the teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
vv16,17… And having been baptized Jesus went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were open to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him. And behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found my delight.
As a type of death, burial, and resurrection, the Lord’s water baptism by John, is immediately followed by the baptism in the Holy Spirit (the dove descending) which initiated the Kingdom of Heaven touching earth, opening access to the Kingdom to all believers. The baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost revealed in Acts 2 established the Kingdom with the people entering in through salvation and empowerment by His Holy Spirit. This could never have happened if Christ had not fulfilled the requirement of the law in taking our punishment upon Himself on the cross.
The declaration of the Father in Matthew 3:17 NKJV… This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased is allowed by the Father to be challenged by the adversary. There is a sudden turn of events from the pleasant scene at the Jordan River to a heated battle with satan himself who attacks Christ on this very assertion:
Matthew 4:1,2… Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He became hungry.
The enemy comes to Him saying over and again in each temptation‘If You are the Son of God…” which reveals that the devil will always challenge the very word of God to us. He continually wants to strip from us the confidence of having heard the word of the Lord and the affirmation of God’s love for our individual lives. The lesson here is that victory is only secured when we respond with the word of Scripture as our sword of truth: We rely on what God has declared and not on human wisdom and carnal reasonings. The devil’s temptation of Adam and Eve concerned eating of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-6). His temptation of the second Adam, Jesus Christ also concerned eating by turning stones into bread. Jesus wisely responded by taking the word of God as His bread to sustain Him: v4… But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God. In the subsequent temptations the adversary resorts to the same methodology that gave him success in the Garden of Eden. But the word says:
1 John 2:16,17 NKJV… For all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life– is not of the Father but is of the world.
The world is against the Father, the devil is against the Son (1 John 3:8), and the flesh is against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). Therefore we see in Matthew 4 the newly anointed King confronted satan’s temptations not relying on His own word but by the word of the Holy Scriptures. Because of His victory over the enemy’s temptation, He went into the wilderness filled with the Holy Spirit, and came back empowered by the Holy Spirit for Kingdom ministry (see Luke 4:1&14).
Matthew 4:16,17… The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light; and to those sitting in the region and shadow of death, to them light has risen. From that time Jesus began to proclaim and to say, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near.
The King’s ministry for the Kingdom of Heaven did not begin with earthly pomp and power but with heavenly light, which was the King Himself as the light of life shining to those living in the shadow of death… fallen humanity.In this chapter we also see that His ministry did not start in Jerusalem the capital and center of religious worship, but by the sea of Galilee where He began to recruit followers- initially fishermen who would cease to catch fish, but would become fishers of men (v19). All true followers of the Lord will become fishers of men. If anyone who is saved fails to lead others to Christ, he has not obeyed the Lord, for He has said explicitly, “I will make you fishers of men.”
Matthew 4:23-25… And Jesus went about in all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every sickness among the people. And the report concerning Him went out into all of Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those afflicted with various diseases and torments and those possessed by demons and epileptics and paralytics; and He healed them. And great crowds followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
In the book of Matthew the gospel is referred to as the gospel of the Kingdom. This “good news” includes not only the forgiveness of sins, but also the power to cast out demons and heal diseases, the impartation of eternal life, and access to the Kingdom of Heaven in all its fullness. What follows is the King’s unveiling and declaration of the constitution of the Kingdom, enunciating the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. We will study this carefully verse by verse since this is the most important part of my effort in writing about fully entering into Kingdom Life.
Matthew 5:1,2… And when He saw the crowds, He went up to the mountain. And after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And opening His mouth, He taught them, saying…
It is critical to note that although there were multitudes of people, only His disciples followed our Lord up the mountain. Although it is likely that many overheard what was said, He is speaking directly to His disciples primarily. Although it is a hard truth, it is confirmed further on in Matthew 13:11where it clearly states… And He answered and said to them, Because to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. Although initially Christ’s disciples are Jews, it is important to know that from Matthew to Acts whenever a Gentile or Jew believes in the Lord Jesus, he is called a disciple. Also of utmost importance is the continuing awareness that everything that a King declares constitute a command… His word is law. Our divine King Jesus said in Matthew 28:20… Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. His decrees laid out systematically inMatthew 5,6,7 are unsurpassed since they constitute His foremost commandments given to all Christians for our success in Kingdom life and power. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is given to also “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”(John 14:26). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another…” (Colossians 3:16).
v3… Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Being poor in spirit does not only allude to walking in humility, but also to be empty and acknowledge that we are void in our human spirit- in the very depth of our being- so that we can be vessels unencumbered to receive the new realities of the Kingdom of Heaven. Like a young baby eaglet we must be eager to receive what our Father desires to pour into us to fill us up with Himself. If we are truly poor in spirit, the Kingdom of Heaven is ours. We are living in its reality now in the church age, and we will share in its full manifestation in the coming Kingdom age.
v4… Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
We have a world in chaos; every headline is bad news: earthquakes, famine and pestilence, economic upheaval, terrorist intrigue, murder and mayhem, sexual debauchery given political license, the murder of the innocent unborn, rape, child sexual abuse, amoral leadership, religious idolatry, greed and unbridled affluence juxtaposed against abject poverty… Who in his right mind would not mourn over the satanic control that predominates among all the people of our lonely planet earth? Christ is rejected and insulted as an object of ridicule, the Holy Spirit is grieved and frustrated in desolate churches bent on selfish sectarianism, and the whole world system sits in the lap of satan. A Holy God whose very heart aches for His creation wants us to mourn along with Him over the condition of our wayward planet. Our comfort rests in the reward of the Kingdom of Heaven touching earth as the Bride continues to make herself ready for her Holy Bridegroom.
v5… Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
I like what one teacher said long ago about Moses when he was referred to as the meekest man on earth. He explained that the whole meaning of the word translated meek is poise under pressure. In this world we will suffer the world’s opposition. To be meek is to remain faithful to what we know is right, to maintain our center in Christ no matter what circumstances come against us.
vv6,7… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
The Kingdom of heaven manifests in us when our behavior is right. Just as food and drink sustain our beings physically, righteousness satisfies our human spirit and brings our soul into proper submission to and ongoing transformation by the Holy Spirit working in us. Righteous judgment gives one what he deserves, while to be merciful is to give one what he does not deserve. To be active children of the Kingdom we need to not only be righteous but also merciful. We know that if we are merciful to others, we will obtain mercy as well from the Lord, especially at His judgment seat… for we know that mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
v8… Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
To be pure in heart is to be free from division, with the singleness of purpose of accomplishing God’s will in all we do for God’s glory. We receive Christ in our spirit, while our heart is the ground where the seed of His divine life grows. When we are pure in heart, then Christ may freely grow in us bearing the fruit of the Spirit in abundance (Galatians 5:22-25).
vv9-12… Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they reproach and persecute you, and while speaking lies, say every evil thing against you because of Me. Rejoice and exult, for your reward is great in Heaven; for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The fallen one, satan, is the father of rebellion. Since we must strive to live under the rule of the Kingdom of Heaven, we must be those who continually seek to make peace among men. Our Father is called the God of peace who will soon crush satan under our feet (Romans 16:20). When we are peacemakers we walk in His divine life and character, expressing His nature as true sons of God. Since as we have seen the whole world lies in the evil one (1 John:5:19), and is rampant with unrighteous depravity, when we continually seek to live righteously, we will be persecuted by way of ridicule even unto death. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to us now! As we continue to walk in its principle we manifest its reality in greater and greater measure daily. We can therefore rejoice in unbridled exaltation because our very lives are declaring in one accord throughout the earth, Thy Kingdom Come: Here and Now!
This first section of Kingdom truth called the Beatitudes demonstrates the nature of the people of the Kingdom who are under these nine blessings. The following section called the Similitudes– which speak of the King’s declaration of our dependence upon Him, concerns the influence that we the people of the Kingdom of Heaven are to have in and on the world.
Matthew 5:13-16… You are the salt of the earth, But if the salt has become tasteless, with what shall it be salted? It is no longer good for anything except to be cast out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and place it under the bushel, but on the lampstand; and it shines to all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.
We are called to be the salt to a planet suffering profound corruption and decay, and the light shining in the depths of darkness and depravity. Salt is a substance that kills and eliminates the germs of corruption, and we are therefore in the world to keep the earth from becoming fully corrupted and irretrievable. The only way that we as salt become tasteless is when we become no different than the rest of mankind and indistinguishable in character from those who have not come to Christ. Without this divinely imparted saltiness we are worthless in influence, and will be trampled like useless dust underfoot. We retain our quality of salt only as we continue in the Word and prayer with humility loving others as Jesus Himself does. In our nature we are the healing salt, and in our godly behavior we are the shining light. This light as a city on a mountain shines over all the surrounding regions touching all outsiders. On the other hand the lighted lamp on the lampstand as a figure shines over all those who are in the house. As James, the brother of the Lord declared Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). So therefore the Lord Jesus commands each of us as Kingdom people to be zealous for good works that demonstrate faith in action, responding to the tangible, real, felt needs of others. This glorifies and pleases the Father.
Matthew 5:17-20… Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, Until heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one serif shall by no means pass away from the law until all come to pass. Therefore whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Lord Jesus’ mission of recovery of all that was lost in the fall could only be accomplished by His perfect keeping of the law on the one hand, and on the other hand by His substitutionary death on the cross which fulfilled the requirements of the law in providing a sinless sacrifice of atonement once and for all. He could only qualify for the second by keeping the first. We as children of the Father and Kingdom people need to fulfill only what is the higher law by way of resurrection life as stated by our Lord in Matthew 22:37-40… And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” We therefore see that both of these commandments are an issue of love, for true love is the intrinsic ingredient of the spirit of God’s commandments.
What follows throughout the rest of Chapter 5 is clear demonstration of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Kingly authority which complements the written law with the new law of His Kingdom with respect to each particular subject under consideration. It must be reiterated that this is not a legalistic adherence to doctrinal laws, ordinances, and statutes but is a way of life via the surpassing righteousness that can only be produced by the resurrection life of Christ continually working freely in us. We therefore live in the reality of the Kingdom today and will participate in its full manifestation in the future.
vv21,22… You have heard that it was said to the ancients, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders shall be liable to the judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judgment…
The phrase you have heard which is continually repeated by the Lord Jesus Christ (vv21,27,33,38,43) refers to the law given prior to His appearance. But in each case He says But I say to you demonstrating that He has the rightful authority to augment the requirements of God, with the focus being on the motive of the heart. Now that the King himself is on the scene he declares the new law of the Kingdom which expands and deepens the meaning of the old law with the new dispensation of the rule of His realm. In this portion of Scripture He speaks of reconciliation between ‘brothers’ (in the broader sense) and agreeing with your adversary so as not to suffer just punishment. Since the Lord is speaking to believers, it is clear that we who are forgiven by God through Christ’s finished work of atonement, are still held responsible for our thoughts, words, and actions and liable to the Lord’s judgment for the purpose of discipline. We still have free will to obey or disobey the law of the Kingdom, but our faithful Father will be sure to reward obedience and punish disobedience.
vv27,28… You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
We can see how much more strict the new law of the Kingdom is, because it requires that we judge and correct the inward motives of the heart. In our current society worldwide there is a constant incessant appeal to the flesh through all aspects of media. We are bombarded with images and programming that would engender lust since the amoral world system finds nothing wrong with illicit sex of all types. It is especially dangerous to our youth, who we now find are engaging in all forms of sex even at the tender age of 10 and 12 years of age. The consequence of sexually transmitted diseases which are nearly epidemic is but one result of such unwholesome behavior. The light of the church must shine in purity across generations to rescue all those who are ordained for salvation, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world. This is a truly sobering dilemma.
vv31,32… And it was said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of fornication, cause her to commit adultery, and whoever marries her who has been divorced commits adultery.
What preceded this portion of Scripture in verses 21-30 complemented the old law, but from verse 31through 48 the law of the old dispensation is forever changed by the new law of the Kingdom. The old law allowed for divorce due to the hardness of men’s hearts (see Matthew 19:7-8). But our King’s decree returned marriage to what it was in the beginning, back to God’s original design:
Matthew 19:3-6… And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him and saying, Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause? And He answered and said, Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, And said, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall be one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. therefore what God has yoked together, let man not separate.
This truth not only sanctifies marriage since it is clearly ordained by God, but also makes void the current trend toward same sex marital unions. God’s original intent has not changed: one man and one woman bound together in holy matrimony as one flesh. The sad fact that divorce in Christendom is at nearly the same rate as those outside of the faith shows the level of worldliness that has permeated the church. I need to add the disclaimer that sincere repentant hearts can be forgiven of even this. Sadly though this and any other breach of God’s law will have continuing negative consequences, diminishing the intensity of the divine light in the church.
vv43-45,48… You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, So that you may become sons of your Father who is in Heaven, because He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust… You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
To be perfect here again refers to loving God above all and your neighbor as yourself. It deals directly with being perfected in love as our heavenly Father is by His eternal glorious nature. We will never be perfect as God is perfect in power, wisdom, glory, or holiness, but we are commanded to be perfect in our hearts of love with our works clearly showing it.
Matthew 6:1,4;5-8… But take care not to do your righteousness before men in order to be gazed at by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in Heaven… So that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites… so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, enter into your private room, and shut your door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. And in praying do not babble empty words… for your Father knows the things that you have need of before you ask Him.
Kingdom people with a humble spirit will seek to do all things to please our heavenly Father. We do not seek the praise of men for the righteous deeds we accomplish, for we always know that our Father sees all that we do and discerns with accuracy the motives and intentions of our heart in our giving, in our prayer and fasting, and in our daily living.
Matthew 6:9-13… You then pray in this way: Our Father who is in Heaven, Your name be sanctified; Your Kingdom come; Your will be done, as in Heaven, so also on earth. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.
This prayer is given by our Lord as a pattern for prayer. It subtly reveals the Trinity in vv9,10 with Your name be sanctified related to the Father, Your Kingdom come to the Son, and Your will be done to the Spirit. Because of the fall in the Garden of Eden the will of God could not be done on earth, until the recovery of planet earth was initiated through the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth on the scene. We as children of God must pray for this until the entire earth is fully recovered for God’s restoration in the coming Kingdom age. Again as a pattern this prayer puts God’s name first and foremost followed by His Kingdom and His will, and then addresses petition for our needs. We seek daily provision living a life of faith. We also acknowledge both our sins in repentance as well as our daily need to forgive others without hesitation that our prayers may be unhindered. And we acknowledge our need for protection from the evil one and the evil things of this world that are an extension of his corrupt nature. In all of this we affirm Christ’s Kingdom, the free exercise of His power, and the manifestation of His glory for He is Jehovah God.
vv16-18… And when you fast, do not be like the sullen-faced hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, So that you may not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
To fast according to the leading of the Holy Spirit is an expression of a deep burden to pray for specific issues. It acknowledges that travailing intercession with fasting is often needed to disengage and break the powers of darkness off of people, and to aggressively combat the spiritual resistance that is our daily warfare. It is another weapon in our arsenal to rout the enemy and fulfill the call in Matthew 11:12(NKJV) …the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. For a more thorough study of the discipline of fasting and its intrinsic power, please refer to my blog zionsgate.wordpress.com and the post entitled The Joy of Fasting: Discipline, Deliverance, and Delight. It will also be included in the sequel to this book, called Cleansing the Temple.
vv19-21;31-33… Do not store up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves dig through and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not dig through and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also… Therefore do not be anxious, saying What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or With what shall we be clothed?… For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Romans 14:17… The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
We store up treasures in Heaven with our acts of loving kindness in giving to the poor and in caring for those in need; whether in giving of our finances, our time, or our physical labor. It is true freedom for our souls to give into Kingdom purposes, which at the same time eliminates the natural fear of losing what has been accumulated. Our lives are more than food and our bodies more than clothing. Since God has created us with purpose, when we acknowledge, love, and obey Him we can be assured of His careful direction and provision.
Having dealt with the issue of judgment in a prior chapter we move forward in Chapter 7 to other requirements for proper Kingdom living.
Matthew 7:6(NKJV)… Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
That which is holy refers to the objective truth of God’s Word, while our pearls may refer to our personal experiences or testimony. This passage is difficult because it is clearly talking about people not animals. It therefore compels us to have profound discernment in discriminating between true believers and those who are just religious but not saved… a major problem in the church. This is why this admonition follows the matter of judging, reiterating our need to be vigilant in self-examination so as not to play the hypocrite.
vv7-8;11-12… Ask and is shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened… If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore all that you wish men would do to you, so also you do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Asking, seeking, and knocking are increasing levels of intensity in our communion and communication in prayer with our Father. Each level requires more of us since hidden factors must be understood and dealt with, in order to arrive at the place of receiving the answer to our petition. The Father is not withholding anything from us that we would need to fulfill our mission, destiny, and purpose in this life. This is why there is strong emphasis in His faithful Fatherhood and apparent desire to bless us with necessary good things.
vv13-14… Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
This set of verses have always been both troubling and challenging to me. On the one hand, in my humanness and wishful thinking I hoped that the many would not be so many, nor the few all that few. But the scripture is painfully clear: the gate is narrow and the way constricted because Jesus is declaring that the new law of His Kingdom is stricter and its demands higher than the old covenant law. Please pay attention! Many people attending church have been deceived into thinking that responding to an altar call and praying a rote prayer is their ticket to ride into Heaven. The rather offensive expression of cheap grace describes this serious error that has an antinomian multitude attending church services who may well not be children of the Kingdom at all. This is why vv17-23 are so tough… ouch! It is far better to be slightly wounded now rather than live in eternal torment later. By ‘slightly wounded’ I am referring to each of us allowing God to literally kill the old man in us, that the new man in Christ may arise. Genuine salvation is lived out in a totally radical transformation of every aspect of our soul: our mind, will, emotions, imagination, motives, aspirations, and desires- all become conformed to the image of Christ… according to His character.
vv17-23… Even so every good tree produces good fruit, but the corrupt tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, but the corrupt tree produces bad fruit. Every true that does not produce good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. So then, by their fruits you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, was it not in Your name that we prophesied, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name did many works of power? And then i will declare to them: I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.
2 Corinthians 13:5… Test yourselves whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves. Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are disapproved?
Let each of us allow the Holy Spirit to convict us daily of the true condition of our heart, so that we can repent, confess, and be cleansed- and not fall into the condemnation and snares of the enemy.
vv24-29… Everyone therefore who hears these words of Mine and does them shall be likened to a prudent man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the rivers came, and the winds blew, and they beat against the house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them shall be likened to a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the rivers came, and the winds blew, and they dashed against that house; and it fell, and its fall was great.
And when Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astounded at His teaching. for He taught them as One having authority and not like their scribes.
Each of us need to keep the words of Christ fresh in his heart. The Word is truly our spiritual food… it sustained our Lord Jesus during 40 days of testing in the wilderness; it will keep us in our daily trials and coming tribulation.
James 1:22-25… But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he does.