Pentecost (03): The Glory of the Kingdom in All Nations

Date: 6/26/2011
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Type: Sunday Sermon
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Pentecost (3): The Glory of the Kingdom in All Nations
Against Pelagianism, Arminianism, and Hyper-Calvinism;
For Augustinianism, Calvinism, and Evangelism.

Matthew 10:40-42 "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."

The context of Matthew 10:40ff is the Two-by-Two sending of the disciples to the “Lost Sheep of Israel.” Jesus empowered them to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” (10:8). I especially love the spirit of their empowerment: “Freely you received, freely give” (v8). This “Proto-Great Commission” was aimed at harvesting the elect from that unique generation. As we know most of Israel was lost (perhaps a million died in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.). But there was a remnant on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

Jesus provides very specific instruction: “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (10:14f). This instruction is unique to that time in one sense but the principle is still applicable. Throughout the history of missions, certainly no missionary should have applied this is some literalistic fashion, to give unbelievers only one opportunity to receive the message. Not at all. The great servants of the church in missions in the previous centuries labored many decades without any converts, giving all for Christ to reach only one man (St. Patrick, St. Boniface, St. William Carey, St. Adoniram Judson, St. John Patton, etc.). But principally it is important to recognize God uses means and prepares people to be “ready” or not. The text above explains that “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” And the converse is true when unbelievers do not “welcome” God’s servants, then they are not welcoming God. That this is a principle which has abiding application can be seen from the same point in the Abrahamic Covenant:  Genesis 12:3 -  “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

The lesson we must learn is that we should not try to “force” people to believe or to accept our message or our church or our views, etc. God has prepared those who will believe and may still be working on those who don’t or they may suffer from their own hardness of heart. Either way we are just messengers who witness to the Gospel which is Jesus is Lord! After all when people don’t accept that message and its fullest implications, then is it our business to worry and freak out? No. We are just the messengers, we have no power to bring about faith in the hearts of others (or even ourselves for that matter). We must as Bill Bright (Campus Crusade) wisely said, “Leave the results with God.” We can preach and teach and argue and leave tracts and jump up and down on soap boxes all we want, but when it is all done. “The flesh profits nothing, but the Spirit gives life” (John 6). The Holy Spirit is sovereign; our abilities are not. So I speak against Pelagianism which is to merit something by your own effort; and against, Arminianism which is to believe that men’s free will thwart God’s purposes; and Hyper-Calvinism which denies that God uses means and that we are responsible. Rather I speak for Augustinianism which affirms grace and grace alone, and for Calvinism which affirms God’s power over the free will of men, and for evangelism which is telling the message that there is another King, “one Jesus” (Acts 17) and He is most definitely Lord - and then leaving the results to God!

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 receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more