Matthew 9:27-38; 10:1-31
“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country. As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil [demon]. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:27-38)
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alpheaus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. [Matthew 10:16] But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. [“hell” Strongs # 1067, Gehenna, fr. Ge-Hinnom, Valley of Hinnom, cf. Revelation 20:14-15, the Lake of Fire, 2nd death.] Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:1-31).
“…We look at the world we’re living in, and we see how many frayed edges there are to humanity, to peace, to hope, to fulfillment, to expectation. Father we see the world coming unraveled in so many places, and man unable to govern himself. And yet, Lord, we feel Lord that we’re in terrain that you described to us in-depth. You told us what these days would be like. So Father we ask that as we are here, in the middle of this, Lord, that you would fill us with your Holy Spirit, Lord, that there wouldn’t be a reflection of that in our hearts, that the terrain, Lord, inside of us, would belong to you. And Lord, that any struggle within would simply end in surrender as we give more and more of ourselves, Lord Jesus, to you. And Lord, that we would keep in perspective how high the stakes are, in regards to time and eternity. And Lord, how important it is to share your love, to look for broken hearts and broken lives, Father, in all of this insanity, that we might be, Lord, those who would convey your love to a lost world. We believe your heart is broken, Lord, and there are so many that don’t know the truth, Lord. And Lord, stir up our hearts, that we would not be resting on our lees when you come, Lord, that we would occupy, that we would be busy about your business, that whatever we do in life, whatever fills our daily routines, that above and beyond that we would maintain a consciousness of being your disciples, Lord Jesus. That you have a purpose for our lives that is higher, Lord, than whatever we do here to eek a living out of this world. And Lord, we want to do those things with integrity and character, but above and beyond that, we want to stand up and be counted, Lord, for your Kingdom. So we put our hearts and our lives before you, we pray this evening you’d give us your Word, and that you’d fill us with your Holy Spirit, and that when we leave this place, this parking lot, we’d realize that we’re entering the mission field, Lord we pray in Jesus name, amen.’
The blind who see, those that can see are blind
“When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed him, crying out and saying, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!’ And when he had come into the house, the blind men came to him. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’ And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, ‘See that no one knows it.’ But when they had departed, they spread the news about him in all that country” (verses 27-31). We have come as far as verse 27 in chapter 9, Jesus having gone with Jairus to his house where his daughter had died, being interrupted on the way with the woman with the blood-flow, her healing, his gracious words to her, and then Jesus coming to the house of Jairus. And for the first time in the Gospel, this one who the disciples are in the process of coming to know, not only rebuking the wind and the sea, but now raising the dead, and what it must have been like for these men to be experiencing these things, and this community, Capernaum, word spreading now. So much so that now we encounter these two blind men. Now this is not Bartemeus and his friend. This seems to be up in Capernaum. It says “When Jesus departed from there”, from the house of Jairus, “two blind men followed.” And we assume, with help, “crying, and saying ‘Thou Son of David have mercy on us.’” Now we’re not sure how far they followed Jesus. It seems now he enters into another house, possibly Simon Peter’s. It seems that Jesus lets them continue to cry ‘Thou Son of David, thou Son of David’, and it seems somebody’s got them by the hand, somebody must have said to them, ‘He just raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead and kicked out all the mourners.’ And amongst the afflicted, Jesus is becoming HUGE news, because they resonated, the afflicted, every time they heard of the One who would come, and open the eyes of the blind, that the lame would jump for joy, that he would bring healing and salvation. [read Isaiah 35:1-10] They knew these were the marks of the Messiah, those that were blind, those that were crippled, those that had leprosy. And these blind men must have said ‘This is HIM, he just raised the dead, drag us along, take us with the crowd, somebody please, take me, lead me.’ And they were crying out ‘Thou Son of David, thou Son of David,’ Now I wonder if Jesus is just letting them broadcast that for awhile, because they have insight, but not eyesight. There is a crowd around Christ that is antagonistic that has sight, and can’t see who he is, and there’s two blind men who can’t see physically, who see perfectly clear, in fact, who he is. And they’re crying out ‘Thou Son of David, thou Son of David’, they know that he’s the Messiah. “And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him”, so they must have said to whoever was leading them, ‘I don’t care, push your way through, get us in there! He’s in there, don’t let him out till you get us in!’ You know, they can’t see what’s going on. And look, they’re willing to be led, that’s the beauty of this. How many of us were not willing to be led? Oh, we were willing to be led by drugs, or we were willing to be led by the world, we were willing to be led by our culture or our peers, or the music in our culture or a thousand other pied pipers, but for some reason we weren’t willing to be led to Jesus and to salvation, to his love, to eternal life. And then when you get saved you realize ‘Dah, what in the world…and it tells us, Paul says ‘The eyes of the heart are blinded, the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe, lest they see the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ.’ The beauty of these two guys is they have seen Jesus with insight, without eyesight, and in that they’ve condemned the religious leaders, and they are willing to be led, where the religious leaders are not willing to be led to Jesus, to the truth. They came into the house, and Jesus said to them, “Believe thee that I am able to do this?” You know, imagine now, they’re led in, and everybody gets quiet, and they hear this voice, ‘Now do you guys really believe that I can open your eyes?’ ‘Yeah Lord.’ That’s the King James here, they said “Yah Lord”. I’m sure it’s more respectful than that, it’s probably ‘Yeah, Lord.’ “Then touched he their eyes.” You know, sometimes he just says ‘Be opened.’ Blindness is the most often, the healing of blindness is the miracle that most often takes place in the ministry of Christ, more than any other particular miracle named. Again, amongst those who have been asked in this country with handicaps, or people who were asked about handicaps, blindness above all else is what people said they feared, ‘I’d rather lose my hearing than my sight, I’d rather lose my foot than my sight’, and yet in the United States, every 20 minutes someone loses their sight. Now there’s one place where Jesus spits and makes mud, puts it on the guy’s eyes, and says ‘Go wash in Siloam.’ There’s another place where he touches eyes, another place where he speaks. We would start a denomination for each group, ‘Spit’n be healed denomination’ [laughter]. That’s not the way you do it, you touch’n heal denomination, just speak and heal denomination. You know, it’s beautiful as we look at this, because we hear all kinds of opinions, ‘We have to have faith!’. Well, we’ve just got a series of snap-shots, and I believe we should have faith. But the Centurion had faith for his servant to be healed. We don’t know what the servant had, and he said ‘All you have to do is speak the word, and my servant will be healed.’ The demoniac didn’t have any faith, he was possessed. Jairus’ daughter had no faith, she was dead. The man who was lowered down through the roof didn’t have faith, his friends had faith. He was probably saying ‘Get me outa here, stop tearing up the roof!’ They lowered him down, Jesus saw the faith of his friends. The woman with the blood-flow had faith, she said ‘If I could only touch the hem of his garment.’ The leper said ‘If it’s your will’, and in each of the circumstances there’s a different angle, there’s a different way that it happened, there’s a different set of circumstances. And I think the Bible’s trying to show us that we can’t nail it down and quantify it, and franchise it, because so much of the Church wants to do that. Jesus comes to the Pool of Bethesda and it says ‘There were many lame and impotent folk there’, and he says to one guy ‘Take up your bed and go home.’ One, out of a multitude. And that’s the way he healed sometimes. In other places it says he healed everybody that was sick. And in all of those circumstances, it was Jesus himself that did it. Even in the Book of Acts, “The Lord granted signs and wonders to their witness to the word that was spoken.” Jesus still doing, working. “Do you guys believe I can do this?” “Yes, Lord.” “Then touched he their eyes, saying ‘According to your faith be it unto you’, and their eyes were opened. And Jesus immediately charged them saying, ‘See that no man know it.’” ‘Walk outa here with your canes [laughter], don’t let anybody know.’ You know, it sounds funny to us, but he was here for something much larger than providing physical sight. He was here for what they had seen before their eyes were opened. That’s what he was here for. “See that no man know it.” Isn’t it interesting, of course, human nature, “But they when they were departed spread abroad his fame in all the country.” ‘Don’t tell anybody.’ ‘OK, we’ll just tell the whole country then.’
A demoniac mute man speaks
“As they went out, behold, they brought to him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitude marveled, saying, ‘It was never seen like this in Israel!’ But the Pharisees said, ‘He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.’” (verses 32-34) “And as they went out, behold, they” Now the grammarist’s argument is the “they” here is the two blind men. Because, “As they went out” seems to be the ‘behold they brought to him someone who couldn’t speak, was dumb, and he was possessed with a devil.’ So maybe this was a buddy of theirs. It seems like maybe it was the two blind men went out and they dragged this guy in. “And when the devil [demon] was cast out, the dumb spake”. Now I wonder what he said? Wouldn’t you like to hear that tape? I wonder what in the world he said? “And the multitudes marvelled, saying, ‘It was never so seen in Israel.’ But the Pharisees said, ‘He’s casting out devils through the prince of devils.’ ‘He’s casting out devils by Beelzebub’, by the power of Satan. You see, it was to the point where they couldn’t deny there were miracles, so what they have to do is they have to mess with the origin of those miracles. ‘OK, yes there’s miracles taking place, but, ah, yeah it’s by Beelzebub that he’s casting out devils.’ Jesus is going to say ‘If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out?’ Because they had all kinds of incantations, they would use the name of Solomon, again you remember the seven sons of Skeva in the Book of Acts, and the demoniac jumping on them and beating them up. The Pharisees said ‘Yes, he’s casting out devils, but it’s through the prince of devils.’
“The fields are white for harvest”
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” (verses 35-38) “But Jesus went about”, notice, “all the cities and villages, teaching” first thing, “in their synagogues,” He loved to go to where they were gathered “preaching the gospel of the kingdom,” Notice this “healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Man, that sentence could make a full-length movie, I’m sure. I would love to have seen some of that. And we will. A time will come. But “When he saw the multitudes he was moved with compassion”, it’s a word that speaks of his bowels being twisted, he was pained, he was moved with compassion when he saw the people. Why? “Because they fainted” first, they were tired, they were weary “and they were scattered abroad as sheep not having a shepherd.” So he sees them scattered abroad, aimless the idea is. When a sheep is lost, he’s not thinking ‘Boy, did I make a right, or did I make a left? How do I get back?’ You know, the remarkable thing about sheep is if they walk around a hill, or if they walk to the other side of a phone-both they can’t see the shepherd in the flock, they’re lost. And he saw the people like that, aimless, as it were. In regards to heaven and hell and eternity, they were wandering, no goals of any import. And they were guideless, with no shepherds. He saw them as sheep, scattered, with no shepherd. And it pained him. He was broken, he looked at the masses in front of him who lacked truth and perception, and clarity. And they were wandering as sheep that were scattered, no shepherd. “And he said unto his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.’” And boy that is true today, isn’t it? ‘The harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into” notice “his harvest.” So, no methods here, just he says to the guys, ‘Look, pray, look at the harvest, it’s plenteous, the labourers are few.’ ‘So, I want you guys to begin to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send labourers into his harvest.’
The twelve apostles chosen to go out on their first evangelistic mission
“And when he had called his twelve disciples to him, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him” (Matthew 10:1-4). The next verse, without a chapter break, of course, when Matthew wrote, it said “And when he had called unto him the twelve sent them.” You know, he said to them, ‘I want that you guys would pray that the Lord would send people’, and then he came and found them praying, ‘Lord, please send people’, and he said, ‘Boy, being you guys are so burdened, I’m gonna send you.’ Isn’t it a funny thing, you know when we needed help in Sunday school we did that, ‘Now go and pray, just pray the Lord of the harvest would send labourers into the harvest’, and then you hope when people are home saying ‘Oh Lord, please send somebody else to work on Sunday school, Lord, they need help in Sunday school, please---OK, Lord, I’ll go.’ ‘Pray that the Lord will send labourers into the harvest.’ Now he sent them. Luke tells us, interestingly, ‘that after he had prayed all night, after he had spent the entire night in prayer, he called his twelve disciples and he gave them authority against unclean spirits’, he send them, after he prays all night. Imagine that. God could have said ‘Just pick these 12’ in the first ten minutes. He prayed all night. ‘Peter, Father are you sure? James and John, Thomas? Judas?’ Our name was on there too. That’s why he prayed all night. He took the twelve disciples, and he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast the demons out. To heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now, it says here that he gives them exousia, power [Strongs #1849, exousia from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, ie, force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (obj.) mastery, (concr. Magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence,:---authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.]. Nowhere is it given to the Church. The Church is given dunamis [Strongs #1411, …miraculous power (usually by impl. a miracle itself)…miracle(s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work.] in the first chapter of the book of Acts [verse 8], the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us, dunamis, this is a different word. He gives them exousia, because this is given to Judas also, whose a devil, he says, one that’s betraying him, and will betray. This word means authority, Christ gave them complete authority, because he was the King, he was in the midst, and he said to them “Go cast out devils, raise the dead, heal the sick…”, there’s no limit on the scope of their ministry. It isn’t as though, even in the book of Acts, they prayed, sometimes someone was healed, sometimes wasn’t, we see the different circumstances. Sometimes God gave Paul a word of knowledge that a man in Lystra had faith to be healed, and he spoke to him and he was healed. Well these men were to go and whoever they encountered that was sick, they were to be preaching the kingdom, and then lay on their hands and heal that person. Wherever they encountered someone that was demon possessed, cast out that demon. Paul waited a number of days while a young girl who was demon possessed followed him, crying out, ‘You’re the servant of the Most High God’, he didn’t do it until he got a word from the Lord to do it. Here, he gives them the authority, in the front, blank check, and he says ‘You go do it.’ How many dead were raised, we’re not even told. That word exousia, it isn’t given to the Church. We have dumamis, power, and it’s power to be witnesses, and it’s power to be witnesses under his leading, by his unction. Interesting, 2nd Thessalonians, the antichrist is going to come, and his will be given exousia, God will give him exousia, “the authority to work with all lying signs and wonders, to deceive those who love not the truth.” Very interesting picture there, allowed by God. But here he gives these 12 this authority. And it tells us who they were now. The names of the 12 apostles are these, and that’s the first time we have the disciples called apostles in the New Testament. And of course it’s those that are “sent”, we’ll talk about that. But here are their names: “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying,…” (verses 2-5). And he sends them forth, so these are apostles, these men that are sent. All of them go on to have very remarkable ministries, of course, but Judas. James, martyred early, but these apostles are different than anyone who can call themselves ‘apostles’ today, for a number of reasons. They had to be eye-witnesses of the ministry of Christ, from the Baptism of John to the Resurrection, they had the authority to pen Scripture, to write as the Spirit gave them unction. Their names are in the 12 foundation stones of the Holy City in the Book of Revelation. No one else’s names are there. These are 12 apostles that are foundational to the Church in a governmental sense. And whoever you believe was the one who took the place of Judas, that can be up to you, you can look in the book of Acts and make up your own mind about that. [Comment: It has been said, that even though in Acts 1 Peter and the other 10 drew lots to see who would take Judas’ place, they were never told by God to do that, and that by the fruits of his actual ministry, and that he penned most of the Epistle Scripture in the New Testament, the actual 12th apostle is actually Paul. I think I heard this from a Calvary Chapel sermon, but it will be interesting to see whose name is carved into the 12th foundation stone of the New Jerusalem when it comes down from heaven, Paul’s or Matthias’s name.] But this is an interesting crew of guys. Train, tug boat, I hope it’s the trump of God getting closer and closer [laughter. They’re in Philadelphia, a port city, and must be near railroad tracks too. Must have been a whistle blowing, either train or tug boat.] Then I can stop describing these guys, you can see them for yourself. There are four lists of their names in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke each gives us a list, and in Acts chapter 1 we have the list. In each list there are three groups, four names listed in each group. They vary a bit, but the pairs don’t vary, and in each place, all four places, Simon Peter is listed first in his group, Philip is always listed first in his group, and James the son of Alpheaus is always listed first in his group. Now it’s an interesting group of men. First, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, the first pair. Jesus sent them out in pairs, Simon and Andrew, we’re going to have James and John. So look, you guys that are here that have brothers that are believers, don’t be beating each other up and rolling on the floor strangling each other, for who knows what God might have for you. Peter and Andrew are brothers, raised in the same family. Never dreamt of what God had for them to do together. Jesus prayed all night and picked Simon Peter, Simon Peter, changing his name to ‘a rock’, Peter’s just going to be a solid guy. It will take fifty years, but it’s gonna happen, because he’s the God who calls things that are not as though they were. This is Peter whose going to be attentive, always seems to say the right thing at the right time, and the wrong thing at the right time. ‘Who do men say that I am?’ ‘You’re the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ ‘Blessed art thou, Simon bar Jonah, flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you, but my Father whose in heaven.’ ‘On this rock I’m going to build my Church.’ A minute later, ‘Far be it from you Lord’, and starts to rebuke him, and Jesus has to say ‘Get thee behind me Satan.’ Same guy, same meeting. Takes a sword and hacks somebody’s ear off, Malchus, servant of the high priest. The last thing Jesus has to fix before his crucifixion and resurrection, he’s gotta stick an ear back on, because Peter just decided he was gonna just start the Kingdom right there. [muffled laughter] And he was sleeping the whole time Jesus was praying that night, if he’d been awake he’d probably taken Malchus’ head off, but because he was asleep he only got his ear, and it says he got his right ear, so we assume Malchus was running away when he hacked it off. James and John, what characters they had to have been, ‘Lord, we stopped in Samaria, tried to get a room in Motel Six, they wouldn’t rent it to us, they knew we were Jews, they knew we were going to Jerusalem, they knew you really didn’t want to stay there, we’re just passing through, so they wouldn’t rent us a room. So, call down fire from heaven and burn them cotton-picking Samaritans up!’ [laughter] ‘That’s what Elijah would have done, that will teach them a lesson.’ You know, Jesus said ‘Oey Vay, you don’t know what manner of spirit you’re of’, he says, and he names them Boanjeries, the ‘sons of thunder’, James and John. James will be martyred early, must have just been full of spit and vinegar, he was out there and Herod had enough, and he was gone. Peter becomes a rock, but it takes years. John becomes the ‘Apostle of love’, from wanting to burn up the Samaritans, but it takes decades, sixty years. But Jesus prays all night, and he picks them, two brothers, then two more brothers. Interesting. Then it says “Philip and Bartholomew”, whose Nathaniel. Remember Philip, in John chapter 1, brought Nathaniel to Jesus, Jesus said “I saw you when you were under the fig tree, truly an Israelite in whom there is no guile”, Philip and Nathaniel evidently had been buddies, and beautifully Jesus calls them and sends them out together, friends. Who knows, you know, in your friendships, don’t just pick people who say they’re born-again, because there are too many people that say they’re born-again, who name the name of Christ, who are living in sexual sin, who are getting stoned, who are out getting drunk. Pick somebody whose godly, pick somebody who has fruit in their life, pick somebody you can see, that they love Jesus with all of their heart. Because who knows what God might have for you together, if you make wise choices. Here’s Philip and his friend Nathaniel in this list, and they’re paired up here. Then Thomas, called Didymus in another Gospel, which means twin, and Matthew the publican. Some have surmised that maybe Matthew was his twin, there’s no evidence for that. Interesting, this is Matthew’s list, and only in Matthew does he say Matthew the publican. In all the lists, nobody has a job description, except Matthew in his own list, still amazed at the grace of Jesus, and says ‘And by the way, he also picked Matthew the publican, the despised one, the one the Jews hated, he picked me.’ James the son of Alphaeus, called James the less, because there would be James the half brother of Jesus, and James the brother of John, so this James ended up getting the name James the less. It wasn’t that he was less, it just meant that there were other James’s involved in the group, so this is James the son of Alphaeus, who we don’t know a lot about. And Lebbaeus, whose surname is Thaddeus. Now if you want to follow out the lives of some of these men, you get the book by, it’s just a little paperback by Dr. McBurnie, who traced out, it’s called “The Search for the Twelve Apostles” [http://www.christianbook.com has it, listed as “The Search for the Twelve Apostles”, by William Steuart McBernie]. And he gives you what Biblical evidence we have of their history, from the Book of Acts onward, what we have from Church fathers, what we have in tradition. But it’s certainly informative, remarkable and captivating. And he says, he’s honest, ‘Now this part is speculation, it’s tradition, we’re not sure, but here’s why, there seems to be some evidence that corroborates this theory about this person’, but to follow out their lives, very remarkable. So, “James the son of Alphaeus and Lebbaeus whose surname is Thaddeus”, they were together. And this is really an interesting one, “Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” Now Simon the Canaanite is called in other Gospels Simon Zelotes, he was a Zealot. There were four groups really, you know, there were the Essenes, there were the Sadducees, there were the Pharisees, and there was a group called The Zealots. Some called them The Daggermen, because they had no problem slipping up behind a Roman with a dagger and penetrating him to his organs, just stabbing him in the heart or in the stomach, and quickly passing away in a crowd, and leave him bleeding to death. [Sort of like the French Underground toward the occupying Germans in France during WWII. It would be this party, in all likelihood that was in on the rebellion of the Jews from 66 to 70AD, and then again in 133-135AD, the two Jewish-Roman Wars.] They were zealous, that’s why they called them The Zealots. [Also in modern Israeli history, it would have been the Irgun Party, considered by most to be Israeli terrorists during the Israeli War of Independence. One of them blew up a wing of the King David Hotel, and is thought to have been Manachem Begin as a young man, portrayed as Dove Landau in the movie Exodus, starring Paul Newman.] If Simon Zelotes had met Matthew the publican before they were called by Christ, they’d have killed each other, one of them would have killed the other, I’m sure Matthew would have been defending himself. Now to take Simon Zelotes, who had been so zealous, and now Jesus somehow has called him, and he dropped that attitude of killing [he would have looked upon it as being a freedom fighter for the Jewish homeland before his conversion]. He was a religious [and nationalistic] fanatic, and he was transformed by Jesus Christ. We would never have chosen him. Jesus, Yeshua chose him. Not only did he chose him, he knew that his zeal would be fresh and alive, that part of him would burn for the right reason, and he puts him with Judas Iscariot [Hebrew Ish Kiriot, which means “man from Kiriot”], the one who would betray him. And I wonder, in the final analysis, if Jesus hadn’t given Judas as it were every opportunity, even putting him with the most zealous of the disciples, for the things of God, for the things of the Kingdom. Interesting group. Who would you have picked? I mean, come on. These are all common guys, all of them are Galileans except for Judas, he’s the only one, Ish Kirioth, man from Kiriot, he’s the only Judean. Galileans were considered hicks. Who would you have chosen? You’d have never chosen John the Baptist to be your P.R. man [chuckles], wild hippie with grasshopper legs stuck in his beard, honey, and just crazy man, just politically incorrect. ‘You adulterer, you’re living with that woman, she’s not your wife’, talking to the religious leaders, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come!?’ This guy was not inclusive, he was not politically correct, and he looked like, you know, the wind just blew him in. And these guys, who would you pick? You really want to impact the world for Jesus, we’re gonna change the world, so let’s choose, you know, Letterman, come on, work with me here, let’s get Letterman, and when he comes on tonight, ‘You know folks, I had this dramatic experience, they might throw me off the air for this, but I’m gonna do it before the hook comes out, pulls me off the stage, you need to turn to Jesus Christ, he’s changed my life.’ I mean, who are we gonna get here, Madonna, right? Come on, work with me, let’s get somebody here. Who? Hillary. Right. [loud laughter]. Simon Zelotes in the front row. Yah, Ozzie, what about Marilyn Manson, come on, let’s line ‘em all up, ‘On fire for Jesus’ who else are we gonna get? Osama, let’s get him, ‘I’ve been saved, I was wrong, I did this, I was like Zelotes, I would kill for what I believed, but Jesus has put love in my heart. He’s changed me. He saw in me what no one else saw in me.’ Oh, we would pick notable people, wouldn’t we. These are all individuals that we would never have heard of, ever, except for one thing. They had been with Jesus. They were fishermen, they were common men, and they changed the entire globe for the cause of Christ. And look here. When we have to say “Lord, walk among us, it has to be real, Lord, can’t be church, can’t be religion, can’t be a game. Because in the right circumstance I’m ready to hack somebody’s ear off, in traffic, Lord, I’m ready to call fire down from heaven and consume other people in motor vehicles.” Come on, I mean we can see ourselves, here in so many ways. Again, even at the last supper, one of you will betray me, and to hear them all look at each other and say “Is it me?”. They knew something about the traitor within. And Christ changed the world with them. And week after week I think, ‘Lord, here we are, and the world’s falling apart, Americans getting blown up in Gaza, Israel flying missions into Syria. The pressure cooker is being turned up in a way that is unimaginable, I guarantee you. Christ is coming. How much time is left? [Curious? Log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm] The stakes are eternal, they’re higher than we could ever imagine. And what might he do, with five or six, or twelve, or a hundred and twenty in an upper room, or in an old meter factory [the location which has been transformed into Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, average attendance 30,000], or with one, one. Eyes going to and fro throughout the earth to find one whose heart is perfect that he might show himself strong on his behalf. Ezekiel, ‘I sought for a man, not an organization, not a drama group, or a rock group, I sought for a man, a woman, to stand in the gap, that I might not destroy the nation. I sought for an individual, one human being.’ He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever, and he’s willing to pick the unnamed, unnoticed, least likely’…I know, I know that, I’m the least likely as far as I’m concerned. If I was gonna pick a pastor for this church, [he chuckles]. I still think it was the wrong Joe Focht, if there was another Joe Focht out there, he meant to pick him, and it just, a meteor is gonna fall on me and somebody else is going to get it, I know that.
Sending Out The Twelve
“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them saying: ‘Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, 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!’” (Matthew 10:5-15). “These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying, ‘Go not into the way of the Gentiles…” Now for these first sixteen verses or so, this is very specifically Israel. Then it broadens, Jesus begins to look further down in human history, past the Book of Acts. We know that, because in the 20th verse he says “For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which is in you.” And the Spirit was never in an Old Testament Prophet [I don’t believe that, this is one of those secondary doctrines where there is disagreement], it was upon Isaiah, and upon Ezekiel and Jeremiah. But here he’s speaking to those whom the Spirit will be in them, that’s from Pentecost onward. So he begins with these 12 and the ministry they’ll have. Their ministry will be finished by the two prophets outside of Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation, and the 144,000. And part of it will be done by us before the Rapture of the Church. But much of this is specific to these 12 as they’re sent in this context. So, this certainly is not the Church, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles,” because we’re told to go into all the world. “and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” That would of course change in the Book of Acts. “But go rather” notice this “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus doesn’t say ‘Go to the lost tribes’ [but it could be the lost tribes, we don’t know that. Why? Because the northern kingdom was called in II Kings the “house of Israel”, whereas the southern kingdom was called “the house of Judah”, so this verse is sort of an enigma in how we should interpret it. Be honest now, we can’t be sure.] There were no lost tribes [not true, the Jews to this day debate about where the “lost tribes” may be], there may be lost sheep, but not lost tribes. He’s God, he did not lose his tribes. [Yes, that’s true, God, Jesus knows where those “missing tribes” are today, whereas we don’t necessarily know for sure.] It’s not like he’s a bad steward over his tribes, like he’s got twelve of them and he lost four. [No, true, but 10 of them never returned from their Assyrian Captivity in 721BC. Read 11 Kings 17 for yourself. For an interesting booklet on this subject written by a Torah-observant Sabbatarian Church of God, log onto http://www.ucg.org/booklets/US/.] He knows exactly where the tribes of Israel are. And he’s going to pick 12,000 from each of the tribes in the Book of Revelation, we’ll see that, but “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” he says. “And as you go, preach” now this is not evangelizing, this is kerusso [Strongs #2784, preach, proclaim, publish], “proclaim”, saying this “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Go throughout Israel saying ‘the kingdom is being extended to you, it’s at hand.’ And you see, if the Jews and the religious leaders would have received Jesus as Messiah at this time, he would have set up his Kingdom. But his rejection will be full so he is justified so that God’s Plan of the Ages will go unto the Gentiles and cover the world. But he extends it first to the Jew. “Preach, make proclamation the kingdom of heaven is at hand, heal the sick,” and the tense here is “continually be healing the sick, continually be cleansing lepers, continually be raising the dead, continually be casting out devils, freely you have received, freely give” (verses 5-8). ‘Go, proclaim the kingdom, and demonstrate the kingdom’, because that’s what the kingdom will be like when it comes, everybody delivered, everybody healed, everybody raised [cf. Isaiah 35:1-10]. “Provide neither gold nor silver nor brass for your purse, nor script for your journey” Now ‘Provide neither gold nor silver nor brass, no coinage, don’t go back for money, go the way that you are,’ ah, ‘script’ is an interesting word, it was a little leather bag that a shepherd would use to keep several flutes in. Evidently Judas was the one who held the bag amongst he disciples, which at that point, evidently, was filled with coinage, with money. So in this sense, ‘neither script for your journey, “nor two coats, neither shoes,” now obviously besides the ones you have on, he’s not saying ‘take your shoes off and go’ “nor yet staves” you don’t need a staff, a walking stick “for the workman is worthy of food.” He’s saying ‘Go now, the way you are, don’t make provision, I’m giving you all authority, and because I am giving you all authority over the spiritual you have authority over the physical, you go. Don’t ask anybody for money, don’t make merchandise.’ Imagine what some of the guys would do today that we see on TV, if they really had the authority to cleanse every leper, heal everybody that needed to be healed, raise everybody, you know, imagine the fund drives they, man they’d be milking God’s people for money. “Into whatsoever city or town you enter, enquire in it who is worthy and there abide until you leave.” Don’t go house to house, in another Gospel he says ‘Whatever they give you to eat, eat there.’ Don’t say, ‘Ah, you guys are having meatloaf [chuckles], no I like meatloaf, but they’re having wrack of lamb next door, I thought we had the leading of the Spirit, but I think we stopped one house short here.’ ‘Stay there, enquire whose worthy’, what does that mean, enquire whose worthy? You know, Jesus said ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.’ There were those amongst Israel who were brokenhearted, who were yearning, who were recognized by their countrymen, who were upright, who were good men. Not saved [my father was one of those people, sort of a law unto themselves], but looking. “And wherever you enter in, abide in that house” stay there “and when you come into a house, salute it, bless it, pronounce your blessing upon it. If the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.” (verses 8-13) This is amazing, because not only is he giving them authority over unclean spirits and so forth, he’s actually conveyed authority upon them that if they come into someone’s house, and they’re received and cared for, that a blessing would actually be upon the house. Remarkable. “Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words,” now that’s the center of it, your words, “when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” Now that’s not our commission, certainly we’re not told to do that. And you see the Jews believe when they would come from Lebanon, when they would cross the border and come into Israel, they would stop at the border and shake the dust off of their feet, because they believed Gentile dust was unworthy to be on Israeli ground. They would do it coming in from the other side of the Jordan river they would do it. If they were tradesmen, they came in anywhere, they got to the border of their country, they would shake Gentile dust off of their feet. And Jesus is saying ‘You treat them the same way. You treat them like they’re unworthy, if they won’t hear your words, if they won’t receive the Gospel, if they don’t want to have anything to do with what you say, as a testimony (in the other Gospels) you shake off the dust of your feet.’ “Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” And interesting statement, isn’t it. Interesting statement. To whom much is given, much is required. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah. God gives us great light, and we’re accountable for that.
Persecutions are coming
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (verses 18-20). “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Yippee! [laughter] And he starts with a “behold”. ‘Consider this, think about this, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.’ “Be ye therefore wise as serpents but harmless as doves.” I send you forth as sheep, and the tense is “already in the midst of wolves”, I mean, he knows there were adversaries. Be wise as a serpent. How smart is a serpent? Can’t be very smart, right? Let’s cut off your arms and legs and drop you off in the desert and see how long you last. Then we’ll know how smart a serpent is. ‘As wise as a serpent, and yet, as harmless as doves.’ Doesn’t sound very militant, does it. You know someone today who shoots a doctor who performs abortions, and says that he’s doing it in the name of Jesus, is not doing it in the name of the Jesus that I believe in. There will be a time, if the Lord tarries, when they say to me and say to you, ‘Do not preach the Gospel of Christ’, and at that time we will have to make a difficult decision, to serve God or man. [Comment: The same decision the Separatists in England during the 1600s had to make. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm and just read the introduction. You can read the whole article if you like, but just read the introduction.] There may come a time when they say ‘You cannot tell your children or your grandchildren about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will then go to jail. Because I will tell my children and my grandchildren of the God who has been so gracious to me and to you. He will also keep us and give us grace in that hour. [Again, read that Saga of the Pilgrims article, see how God gave them grace in that very same hour in their day. Their persecution was no different from what ours will be, in that sense.] Peter and Paul instructed us to submit to the authorities that be, and both of them were put to death by the authorities they asked us to submit to, for not submitting to them. I am not an advocate of civil disobedience. We’re like sheep in the midst of wolves. That puts us on our toes, and because of that we should be wise. Peaceable as doves, harmless as doves, wise as serpents. We should pick our battles. We should understand where God has placed us. “Beware of men,” we know that, don’t we, “for they will deliver you up to councils, they will scourge you in their synagogues.” Now of course this is not us, but it is certainly very in keeping with them, and particularly after Jesus’ ascension, “You shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, and for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” Now certainly he’s looking forward at this point [into the rest of the Church Age, and ultimately to our time right now and in the future] “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak.” So, wonderful promise. Ah, certainly we see that Peter before the Sanhedrin, we see Paul before governors and kings, giving tremendous testimony to what had happened in his life. And it was real. In all of those places, he said “I was on my way to Damascus, and light appeared brighter than the noonday sun, and I fell down and a voice spake to me from heaven saying, Saul, Saul, it’s hard for you to kick against the goads.” We all have our testimonies. And Jesus says, when there’s a day, if we’re brought, now look, if you’re brought before a judge for robbing a convenience store, don’t expect help. OK? If you’re brought in front of a judge for your Christianity, for your faith, he says ‘In that hour, look to me, I will give you the words to say.’ “For it is not you that speaks, but the Spirit of your Father which is in you.” Now this certainly applies to us, certainly looking down the road. “And a brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father the child, and children shall rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death” (verses 16-21).
Jesus spoke this for them as a type, but this prophecy is more for us in the last days
Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” (verses 21-26) And certainly, so painful, inside of the family structure, that brothers would become adversaries and hate one another, because one brother has chosen to embrace Christ as his Savior and his Lord in his life, and another brother be filled with just so much hatred. [Comment: You see this already happening in India amongst the Hindus or in Muslim countries, when a child or adult accepts Christ, and they’re killed for it. It’s commonplace in Muslim countries, and is called honor-killing.] Or a husband and a wife, we’ve seen it here where a husband will get saved, and when he gets saved, he stops going to Atlantic City, stops watching pornography, stops gambling, stops spending the family money on alcohol, and the wife will just go off the deep end and divorce him. ‘Give me that old drinken’ rioting good for nothing pornographer back. I mean, it’s insanity how that hostility can grow and be real, even in a family. And it’s so painful then for the believer, who encounters the most important thing in their life, who desires with all of his or her heart to share it with the people they love the most, that are closest to them, and then are ostracized, and sometimes even treated as an adversary. [You think that’s bad, look at a Jew when he or she accepts Jesus, Yeshua as their Savior. They’re shunned not only by immediate family but by the whole Jewish community, and their family regards them as being dead. Or like I mentioned, when Muslim does the same. A friend of mine used to live in Pakistan, became a believer, and had to move to the United States, just so he wouldn’t be killed. We Americans are spoiled compared to those two groups. But Jesus is saying our turn will come too.] We’re told in these last days there would be perilous times, men would love pleasure more than God. [see II Peter 3:1-7] The Spirit speaks expressly about the days we live in. And we see some of these things. “You shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Or “he that endureth to the end shall be delivered”, certainly he’s not speaking about anybody being saved by enduring. [Comment: There’s a difference of belief in the various parts of the body of Christ on this one. When we see Jesus, we’ll know more about this doctrine, obviously. But personally I tend to agree with Pastor Joe Focht here.] We’re saved by faith and Christ, by believing. But he says certainly there will be those then who endure, who will be delivered, we’ll see that in the tribulation. “But when they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” Sometimes that’s wisdom, when you’re under heat, to move on. Jesus, there were times when they rose up against him, and it said “passing through their midst”, he left. He picked his fights. He wasn’t, he didn’t lock horns in every circumstance. And we can learn from that, certainly. [Good example of this is “the wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove Elder William Brewster.” Be sure to read about him in Saga of the Pilgrims. He exemplifies this tactic. http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm.] “For verily I say to you, you shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man comes.” And certainly Jesus is seeing the near and the far here. That would be true of these disciples who he’s talking to, they wouldn’t cover the whole nation before he would be catching up behind them, moving, coming, and certainly it will be true during the tribulation period. [Comment: I feel that last statement more ties what Jesus is saying to us now in the last times. The early Judeo-Christian Church, headquartered in Jerusalem, and all the smaller congregations, had a pretty far-reaching effect on Judea up through the second Roman-Israeli War in 133-135AD, when Judea was practically devastated, and most of the surviving Jews living in Judea were scattered to the four winds geographically, many as slaves to the conquering Romans. This prophecy probably fits the Messianic Jews within Israel today in their evangelistic efforts. There are about 100 Messianic Jewish congregations within Israel proper, with a newly estimated 9,000 Israeli Messianic believers living in Israel today.] That’s us. “The disciple is not above his master,” that’s Jesus, the disciple is a learner. That is what we are, we’re learners, and he’s our Master. The pursuit of life is not to find fulfillment or freedom, the pursuit of life is to find the right Master, because everybody’s mastered by something. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the slave [King James says “servant”] above his lord.” If we called Jesus our Savior and Lord, if he’s our Lord, we’re his servants, we’re his slaves. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple to be as his master.” For me that’s more than enough. To be like Jesus? “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub”, and that’s what they had said, that he was casting out devils by the prince of devils, “how much more shall they call them of his household!” He’s encouraging us, isn’t he? ‘If they call me the prince of devils, if they call me the cause of all trouble, what are they gonna call you?’ Front page of U.S.A. Today, did you see that? They’re still going to decide whether “One Nation Under God”, it’s going to the Supreme Court. And Justice Scalia said he may sit out, and if he sits out, it will go to a tie vote, and it might be upheld that “Under God” is unconstitutional. They say it’s going to take till next June, but that could become a reality, “One Nation Under God” [taken off our currency], and when you and I speak up, everyone will say ‘Well it’s this fanatic Jesus thing that’s the trouble, it’s this Bible. There are Christians out there that are good Christians, they’re nice Christians, they get along with everybody, they worship with Behi and Buddha and Chrisna’s, you know, all one big happy family, and all roads lead to God, and you want to be one of those nice kind of Christians. You don’t rub anybody the wrong way, and can all worship in the same building (and all end up in the same place in the long run too [laughter]). Why don’t you be like them.’ No, no, no, that’s not what he’s called us to be. I could have been one of those on my own. I was doing what everybody else in the world in my generation was doing, I was getting stoned, and I was on my way to hell, and I was wasting my life. And like one of these fishermen, that nobody ever thought could be anybody, he looked at my life and decided to pick me, and allow me the privilege to serve him (Jesus). And you and I serve the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus the politically correct people want to invent. We worship a Jesus (Yeshua) who is the Jewish Messiah, who is of the tribe of Judah, who was prophecied by the prophets, who was born of a virgin, who came into the world to die for the sins men, because he knew how high the stakes are and wanted to save people from an eternal hell, he was crucified, he rose on the 3rd day, he ascended into heaven, and he is coming back for you and me, and I’m not gonna compromise that at all. That’s the Jesus we worship. [applause] But that’s also the Jesus that’s under attack. “If they called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household.” But he says this, “Fear them not therefore,” don’t be afraid, “for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known.” It’s all gonna come out in the wash.
Jesus teaches us who we should really fear
“What I tell you in darkness, speak it in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach upon the housetops.” And I don’t expect to see any of you, this is a saying, I don’t expect to see any of you on the top of the house when I drive down the street tomorrow. But the idea is, you know, proclaim it, don’t be ashamed, speak it out, be honest, let it out into the open. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” So don’t be afraid of those who can only kill your body. [chuckles] That’s consoling, isn’t it? [laughter] You know if I had been killed 15 or 20 times, I’d really have it down. ‘Hey, don’t worry, wait till you see what happens.’ This happens, boom! you’re gone, next thing you know you’re in the presence of the Lord, and you hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’, now this is a blast, the first time I was worried, after awhile you get used to it, it’s great.’ [chuckles] But you don’t get to practice. It’s like stepping out of the boat onto the water, he’s calling us by faith to embrace these things. “Don’t be afraid of those who merely can kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear him” God, “which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (verse 24-31). Don’t be afraid, God cares for the sparrows, not one of them falls without his knowing it, how much more a son or a daughter. Oh yah, your life may be threatened, but he’s so familiar with you, the very hairs of your head are numbered. It does not say that the hairs of your head are counted. They are, but that’s not what it says. It says they’re numbered. They each have a number [my number’s going down!] When one hair falls out, it’s not like he just lost hair #1, now he lost hair #2, lost hair #3, no there all numbered individual, so when a single hair falls out, God says ‘There goes #10, 343, it was on the back and side of his head, that number.’ He knows every hair on our head by it’s number, is what it says. Some of us have made life easier for him than others. [laughter] [Yeah, tell me about it] But he remembers all those that are gone. And in the resurrection, when all things are restored…[laughter] Don’t fear those who are only able to kill the body, they can’t kill the soul. But reverence, hold in awe the one who is both able to destroy soul and body in hell. 74 percent of Americans say they believe in hell. Only 3 percent believe they’re going there. That’s scary. We don’t like to talk about the “H” word, even in church. Jesus talked more about hell than anyone else in the New Testament. And there are many voices being raised today, and I think next week we’ll take the whole study and look at hell. Newsweek Magazine a little while ago said “Hell is a subject too trite for serious scholarship.” Gordon Caughman of the Harvard Divinity School says “I don’t think there can be any future for heaven or hell today, in our society.” Anthony Flew, remarkable, brilliant non-believing philosopher in Europe, but like many philosophers today, says “Hell is overkill. God’s going to send somebody to hell for one sin? That’s like somebody getting the death sentence for a traffic violation” he says. “How can somebody be sent to a place and suffer eternally, forever, for doing something wrong in this little time of life we live in?” And the truth is, and we’ll look at it next week, we don’t sin against time. If our sin was against time, it would be unjust to suffer for ever for sinning for whatever time we sin. Our sin is against a Holy God who has provided forgiveness, not against time. We haven’t sinned against time, we’ve sinned against God. And for him to be everything we want him to be, and for the kingdom of heaven to be as perfect as we want it to be, and for the kingdom of heaven to be filled with the light and the beauty and the perfection that we want it to be and long for it to be, for one small sin to enter there would defile it, forever, and it would never be heaven again. And God’s standard would never be God’s standard again. And holiness would never be holiness again. “So, I can’t believe in a God that’s willing to send people to hell. Don’t want to believe in a God who is going to send people to hell. How could a God of love send people to hell?” We know all of the voices that are lifted up, and of course we need to take note, because John Stott, some noted scholars are saying, because of this verse here, Matthew 10:28, that there is not eternal punishment. That when the sinner goes to hell, he’s annihilated. He ceases to exist. And these are great men who have served the Church for a long time, and that kind of infection is moving through much of the Church. And the stakes have never changed. They’re eternal. Ionios, the same word that’s used for an eternal God and an eternal heaven is used for eternal suffering, the same word. And that suffering is as eternal as heaven, and as eternal as God, and the smoke of their torment ascendeth forever and forever. [Comment: There are many differing interpretations about what exactly hell is within the entire body of Christ, whole legitimate denominations disagreeing with each other. This would make it a secondary doctrine. To view some of those differing interpretations see http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm .] And if we can have God by his Spirit, let us take hold of that anew. We should jump out of our comfort zones, to take hold of those who are perishing and to share the love of Jesus and the amazing thing that he has done. He’s entered into the eternity of our hell and of the wrath of God so that we can be free. And so can those around us, like Simon Zelotes, like Peter, like the ‘sons of thunder’, like the thousands of us that gather here. So I encourage you. Can this be encouraging? I’m going to encourage you [chuckles]. This week if you get a chance, look at all your verses that talk about hell. You want to read something great, get “The Doctrine of Endless Punishment” by Shedd, it’s a great read, it sounds like a bummer, I know. It’s just a little book, it’s got big print in it, it’s my favorite kind of book, small with big print. But it’s a great read, “The Doctrine of Endless Punishment” by Shedd. And next week, let’s take a week, let’s look at it, and we’ll move on too. ‘I ain’t going this week, Joe’s gonna talk about hell all night, I’ll stay home…’ [laughter] ‘I got enough agida all day, and I gotta go there and get a whole load of it?’ No, look, Jesus always put it in a context to challenge and to uplift. It is not love to blur the lines of that truth in a lost world. [The lines are blurry enough, when you actually look into the subject of hell and into how all the differing Christian groups interpret the same Scriptures differently. See what I mean by logging onto that link.] It isn’t love to deny the reality of eternity with or without God. Let’s have the musicians come, and we will sing a last song this evening…[connective expository sermon on Matthew 9:27-38 & 10:1-31 given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116.]
“The Search for the Twelve Apostles” by Steuart McBernie:
Coming religious and governmental persecution, a repeat of the past: see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm