The Kingdom Manifest (02) - The Reality of the Kingdom

Date: 2/13/2011
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Kingdom
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

The Kingdom Manifest (02) - The Reality of the Kingdom

Last week’s sermon is posted here The Kingdom Manifest (pt 1) and in it I conveyed that - The kingdom of God transforms the people of God (disciples). The kingdom is the rule of the Messianic King over His disciples. The kingdom is not some forcefield or object outside of believers which, if we just follow this program or do these steps or act this way, then we can “enter the kingdom” or “bring in the kingdom.” Rather your “blessedness” is the kingdom.

This week we move beyond the Beatitudes into the Character of the Kingdom or The Reality of the Kingdom. To understand this portion, we must clear away some mental debris, namely the “OT vs NT” erroneous thinking and the False teaching vs True Teaching paradigms in the original setting. Once these are out of the way, the meaning of Jesus is crystal clear.

1) Old Testament vs New Testament - “But that’s the Old Testament . . .” We may be confused by this passage to think there’s an OT vs NT contrast. The authority of the Old Covenant Word is not diminished by the Messianic age, but the incompleteness is filled by Christ’s own actions. Imagine a building under construction. You see the security fence around it, men with hardhats and steel-toed boots, you see a lot of external scaffolding for the brick masons and big trash dumpster for the excess building materials. The OT to NT transition is just like this great building under construction. Christ did not come to “tear down the house” of the previous “covenant,” but He did remove the security fence, the scaffolding and the trash dumpster at the construction site. Now the construction workers are gone and all kinds of people go into it. Now this building is built. Some parts of the OT were useful for the construction (like a tabernacle or a temple) or a Levitical priesthood. But these give way when their purpose is complete or fulfilled.

2) False Teachers vs The True Teacher - Remember the original setting of this (stand in their sandals). Jesus contrasts His faithfulness against the religious world of first century Judaism, a world of symbols, convictions and practices of the first audience of Matthew. At the time the force of the Law of God was negated by the religious leaders of Judaism. Remember how the kingdom message of Matthew (ch. 5) begins (in the blessedness of His kingdom) and ends in the condemnation of the false teachers (see chapter 23). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith . . . Blind guides ... full of extortion and self-indulgence...whitewashed tombs ... outwardly appear righteous ... full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [for extra credit, read the Beatitudes and then the red letters of Matt. 23].

3) Hypocrisy vs Reality - Christ shows the heart nature of His kingdom life with three contrasts of the application of God’s Law. 1) On Murder/Hatred - 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' 2) On Adultery/Marriage - 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 3) On Oaths/Truthfulness -  5:33 "Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.'” So the Law (as is plain in the OT itself) cannot be limited to the mere external or council setting. God’s judgment extends to the heart. The Pharisees had limited the application of God’s Law by providing exceptional circumstances or methods whereby the purpose of the Law could be averted. This is hypocrisy.

This Word to Our Culture - It really easy for us to condemn the Sadducees and Pharisees while not seeing how we are just as “Sad U See” and “Not Fair U See.” We are tempted to hypocrisy just as the Pharisees and Saducees of old, we want a system to make us righteous and ultimately get what we want. Why do you want righteousness, again? For blessings which are what kinds of things? Usually we are out for the benefits that we think God promises to the righteous, but less after the God of these blessings. But the kingdom is for those who will “see God.” So we come up with ways to create a “paint by numbers” approach to Faith to get what we seek. If I get this color [this doctrine or conviction] and paint in the lines [this church, this school, this home], etc., then this “system” will work to produce perfect families, children, spouses . . . like Lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all th

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more