Conclusion and Overview
What Must We Now Do?
Matthew Lesson #206
July 8, 2018
“Father, we’re thankful we have Your Word. We’re reminded that our Lord said that we would be sanctified through Your Word. That Your Word is truth.
“Father, we know that there is no other means by which we are to grow spiritually than to understand Your Word through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit teaching us, illuminating us, helping us to see how to apply it, and that we must walk by the Spirit, but we must walk in truth. The only way to know that is to know Your Word, and it is God the Holy Spirit who uses it to transform us, to take that which we have learned from the world around us and replace it with that which has eternal value and is eternal truth.
“Father we pray now that we might be willing to focus, understand Your Word, be challenged by what is revealed to us in the Gospel of Matthew that You might be glorified in our lives as we walk with You.
“We pray in Christ’s name, amen.”
Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 1 and as is my custom when we began a series and we end a series, I like to do a flyover. I like to do it several times in the middle of long study, especially Matthew, which took about 4-1/2 years or a little more, and to understand what this is.
Part of the reason for this is that when we come to certain events in our lives or certain types of ministries that we have, we don’t have time to go listen to 206 hours of teaching to look for certain things, so it’s important to have those overviews. If you’re a Sunday school teacher, if you are a counselor at camp, if you’re just reading through a Book of the Bible and you say, “I just need to understand how this fits together and what the main ideas are,” then you go to these A-level lessons that I have in each book.
That’s what this is, and this is a conclusion and overview for Matthew, and bringing us to that point that now that we have finished, what are the main things that we take away from this, what must we do in terms of application?
As we started the study of Matthew, I pointed out that whenever we take the time to study a Gospel and the focus on the life of Christ, that it can be a bit daunting because there’s so much that is revealed in Scripture, but then we’re warned by John that Jesus did so many other things that not all of the books in the world could record them.
So it’s a little bit overwhelming, especially since from the perspective you and I bring to any reading of something that seems like a biography, that we think that it should follow a certain chronological progression. But the Gospels don’t do that. Luke is the only one that is more rigorous about following a chronological order, but when we look at Matthew, we look at John especially, they are taking their basic material and even though in a broad sense it is chronological, in another sense it’s woven together in order to provide a basis for understanding the point that they are making.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew is presenting Jesus as the Messianic King of the Jews, and so his focal point is on emphasizing that particular aspect, but he has some other things that he is doing in the process, and this is related to the themes and the main ideas that are there are.
One of the things that we note when we go through Matthew is that there are five different sermons or discourses of Jesus. There’s more said about what Jesus taught, more words of Jesus in Matthew than in any of the other three Gospels.
So we learn a lot from Jesus. He does a lot of teaching, and that is related to one of the themes in the Gospel of Matthew, which we see here and there along the way, but is brought to a conclusion, which we saw in the last three or four lessons, and that is the closing mandate from Jesus to the disciples that while they are going through their life, they are to make disciples. That’s the command—to make disciples, to make learners, to make students of everything that Jesus taught them.
When we go back into Matthew. what do we find? That there are five major lessons, five major sermons or discourses, where Jesus is teaching the disciples. It’s important for us to understand those particular lessons because that’s foundational to our understanding of who Jesus is and what He did. It is foundational to understanding God’s plan for history, especially in this particular Church Age. And it’s important to understand many of the things that he sets forth as required to truly be a disciple of Jesus.
As I pointed out the last several lessons, being a disciple is not the same as being a believer. There are many who are believers in Jesus Christ and very few who are going to press on to any level of discipleship. The challenge that is before us from the Scripture is not simply to be a believer and to be satisfied and comfortable with where we are, but to recognize that we are living our lives today, and this is just a microscopic speck in all of eternity. What we do and the choices we make in this life right now impact eternity, and that’s what is meant by becoming a disciple. For the degree to which each of us decides to walk with the Lord, to be obedient to the Lord, and to study His Word and know His will will impact all of eternity, not just our life today, not just tomorrow, not just the next few decades, but will have a significant impact on all of eternity.
Let’s just review two basic things that we know about Matthew:
First of all, the author. The author is traditionally believed to be Matthew. He was also known as Levi, the son of Alpheus. He was a tax collector.
In our culture, being a tax collector, working for the IRS, isn’t necessarily a great and wonderful thing. People look at tax collectors, especially if they’re not a friend, with some suspicion. But in the ancient world, it was much, much worse. For they were basically given a warrant by the Roman Empire to go collect X amount of money for taxes and anything that they collected over that was what they were paid.
So, there was a lot of corruption in the tax system and the way in which taxes were collected. There was a lot of oppression, and so tax collectors in a Jewish culture, in Israel and Judea at the time, were viewed as those who had sold out to Rome. They were viewed somewhat as a traitor and they were viewed as a thief because they’re taking away their hard-earned money and what little it is that they have.
So, Jesus Christ calls Matthew to be a disciple. This is a tremendous picture of God’s grace—that for many people nothing could be further away from the righteous standard God required of those to go to Heaven than a tax collector, and Jesus calls Matthew as a tax collector. So, he understands grace.
He is writing to Jewish Christians. He is writing early, and he is writing to Jewish Christians who lived in Galilee and Judea before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish revolt which goes from AD 66 to 70—the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70—and he writes very early. I believe that he is the first of the Gospels and one of the earliest books of the New Testament. He wrote it sometime between AD 45 and 50.
Its purpose was to answer questions from Jewish believers that Jesus came to offer the kingdom. He offered the kingdom. The kingdom is not here, what’s going on? What are we to do? What is happening? And so he’s explaining why the kingdom was postponed.
I want to expand on that a little bit with three points:
- First of all, he wrote to convince the Jewish audience that Jesus was indeed the Messiah in whom they believed, and to give them the evidence they needed to show that Jesus was truly who He claimed to be—the promised Son of David, the Messiah, the One who paid the penalty for their sins.
This is why Matthew, more than any other Gospel writer, goes back numerous times to Old Testament prophecies and promises and pictures of the Messiah in order to demonstrate Jesus was the Messiah. He was the promised prophesied King of Israel who would come.
- Second, he is answering the question, why is the kingdom here? Jesus said He came to establish the kingdom. Why was it postponed? And what are we to do in the interim? That’s a major part of Matthew.
- And third, he is going to provide instructions about this interim plan, this interim age, and what Christians are to do today. The focus of that is to make disciples.
So this is why Matthew was written.
There are two key words that we’ve seen and that I use a lot in Matthew, and that’s the words king and kingdom. These words are often abused today and misused and misapplied in choruses and in a lot of Christian lingo. You will often hear people say, “We’re doing this for the kingdom,” and they use the word “kingdom” to refer to all kinds of things without ever explaining what that means. Most of the time when they use the word and they reference Jesus as the King. He’s not the King yet, and we’re not in the kingdom yet, at all, as we saw in our study.
First of all, the term “King” refers to the physical descendent of King David who was promised to be the eternal Ruler of Israel when God established a kingdom based on the New Covenant based on the Land Covenant based on the Davidic Covenant based on the Abrahamic Covenant that they would have this glorious kingdom in the future. God Himself would rule over them, which is why the Messiah is called Emmanuel, God with us. This is promised specifically in the Davidic Covenant, and this King will reign.
There’s an important picture that we get from the life of King David, and that picture is that he is anointed to be the king over Israel in 1 Samuel 16. But there’s already a king, and that king was Saul. Saul was a disobedient king, Saul is a spiritually rebellious king, and God is taking the kingdom from him. But he didn’t do it at that time.
We go from 1 Samuel 16 to 1 Samuel 28, and Saul is still the king. During this period of nine or ten years, David has been anointed king, but he’s basically a fugitive from Saul who is trying to take his life. Just because he’s been anointed king, identified as the next king doesn’t mean he is the king yet. Nobody called him the king, nobody said they were in David’s kingdom. It was still Saul’s kingdom until God took Saul’s life.
David had opportunities twice to take Saul’s life, and he refused to do it because he wouldn’t lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed.
That’s an important picture, because what we have is Jesus coming at the first advent offering the kingdom, but He isn’t called the king yet. He is has no kingdom. He has no realm. He is not in that position. He does not take the throne of David in Jerusalem, which is what would be the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
So Jesus isn’t King yet. I do not believe it is right to call Him the King. There are some hymns that do, but if you properly exegete the hymn, they are proleptic. What that means is they are talking about a future time when Jesus will be crowned the King.
Crown Him with Many Crowns. When will that take place? That takes place when He returns at the Second Coming. It didn’t take place at the first advent. It didn’t take place at the ascension. It takes place when Jesus comes, when He comes back to establish His kingdom after the Tribulation at the Second Coming.
We sing All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. That also is proleptic. You look at the words, they are talking about what will happen at that future time when Jesus returns.
Now that is legitimate to do that, but there are other choruses and other songs that are sung that refer to Jesus as if He is currently a king, and He is not currently a king.
What we know from Revelation 3:21 is Jesus makes a promise that we will sit on His throne in the future just as when He ascended to Heaven, He sat on His Father’s throne. He didn’t sit on David’s throne. He didn’t sit on His throne. He sat on His Father’s throne. He is currently in session, a theological term which means to be seated, and He is seated not on His throne, not on David’s throne, He is seated on the Father’s throne.
This is so important because this kind of distortion and wrong teaching permeates so much of the idiom and the language and the songs that are sung today that it just confuses people and distorts so many different things.
The second term is the kingdom. The kingdom is not a spiritual kingdom. It’s not an invisible kingdom. The kingdom is a literal geophysical kingdom with Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the land as the capital of the King’s kingdom, and that this is the City of David, and that it is the center of this kingdom that is established when Jesus Christ returns.
It’s not already here, but not yet. That’s a phrase you will hear a lot sometimes, and if you’re not theologically tuned in, you will just miss it. They misapply promises from the New Covenant to the Church Age. They misapply the role of the Holy Spirit in the future kingdom to the Church Age. And they misapply many other things, which leads to an anemic, to a toxic theological church environment. That permeates numerous churches today that people flock to because there’s no teaching from the pulpit. It is important to understand these two aspects. Without a proper understanding of this, you just will not clearly understand what is going on in Matthew.
Third, that the kingdom was rejected. It was offered by John the Baptist, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was offered by Jesus, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was offered by His disciples to the Jews, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But it was rejected by the Jewish leaders.
Jesus was accused of doing His miracles in the power of Satan and the power of Beelzebub. Jesus called that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for which that generation was going to be punished. That occurred and was fulfilled in AD 70, when the temple was destroyed, and that toxic environment of the legalism of the Pharisees and the religious leaders of that time was basically wiped out. And the people of Israel were scattered among the nations.
So fourth, we recognize Jesus is not now on the Davidic throne. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father in Heaven based on Revelation 3:21, Psalm 110:1, 1 Peter 3:22, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 10:12, and Hebrews 12:2.
There are a lot of passages that make this very, very clear, and yet this is obscured by the shallow and superficial, although sometimes it’s very complex, theological systems that have been developed that miss the point of the text.
So when we look at the outline of Matthew, Matthew basically, to summarize it; the first 10 chapters, it’s the offer of the kingdom; then you have chapters 11 and 12, it’s a rejection of the kingdom; and then from Matthew 13 to 20 you have the postponement of the kingdom and instructions to the disciples in light of that postponement of the kingdom.
Then you have a re-presentation and re-offer of the kingdom by Jesus that’s rejected, and then He is crucified, buried, and resurrected. Then He gives his final instructions to the disciples.
So what we saw is under the first point Jesus was born and ministered in fulfillment of the Messianic promises and prophecies. That’s the first 10 chapters. It’s the presentation of the King. Jesus is born in fulfillment of prophecies, that’s Matthew 1 and 2. Then He’s presented to the nation in Matthew 3 and 4, and then He begins His ministry offering Himself as the King to Israel.
At this time, the first of the five discourses are given. It’s called the Sermon on the Mount. He is talking about the kind of righteousness that is required to have to fully enjoy and fully enter into all of the blessings of the coming kingdom. I refer to it as the discourse on kingdom righteousness.
Then in Matthew 10 He sends the disciples out, but not to everybody, only to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. They are not sent to the Gentiles because the message is related to the kingdom. The kingdom isn’t promised to the Gentiles; therefore, they’re not the object of the ministry, the proclamation of these of the disciples. And He gives them instructions on how to go about that business. It is limited specifically to that time. That’s in Matthew 10. That’s the second discourse.
Then we get to the centerpiece, the turning point in the Gospel. Jesus is rejected as the Messiah by the religious leaders in Matthew 11 and 12.
Then third, we see that Jesus announces the postponement of the kingdom through a series of parables in Matthew 13, and from Matthew 13 to 20, there is an emphasis on the preparation of the disciples for
a) the coming crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and
b) their preparation for a ministry in a future Church Age, which they’re basically oblivious to until after the resurrection.
So there we have the discourse on the postponement of the kingdom. Those are the Matthew 13 parables. So that’s the third major teaching section in the Gospel of Matthew.
Then in Matthew 18 He is going to teach about kingdom humility, and the disciples are saying, “Who’s going to be the greatest of us in the kingdom? Who is going to get the highest rewards and the highest position?” Jesus says you have to be humble like a child or you won’t enter into the kingdom.
Now He’s not talking about salvation. He is talking about entering into the fullness, the blessings that will come with full participation in the kingdom.
Then we come to the fourth section, and this is Matthew 20:29–23:39 when Jesus enters into Jerusalem, His final presentation, and then His rejection by the religious leaders as the Messiah.
Next we come to the fifth division, which is Matthew 24–25 where Jesus talks about His future coming and the future establishment of the kingdom. That’s Matthew 24 and 25; otherwise, it is referred to as the Olivet Discourse. It is the discourse on how they will know the signs of His coming. He’s talking about the signs of His coming, how they know of when He will come.
The sixth division is Jesus the Messiah is crucified, buried, and rose from the dead. So this is Matthew 26–28. We covered the 32 stages of the crucifixion. We studied all of the facets of the resurrection and His final instruction after the resurrection.
So those are the six basic divisions of Matthew.
Now what I want to do is go back now and talk a little bit more about each one. And just like I said, it’s just a basic fly over.
The first part, we looked at the first 10 chapters. Matthew 1 and 2 focus on His arrival. The arrival of the King, talking about His birth. We open up with the genealogy. Many people, as I pointed out, stumble on this. They come to this first chapter, and they start reading that Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah, and who in the world are these people, and why do I need to know this? And they get bored and get rid of it.
At least that was my experience when I was in the fifth grade and was handed a New Testament by the Gideons and thought, “oh good! I’m going to read it!” And I got bored and didn’t understand the first chapter, you’re just confused.
But this is tracing who Jesus is. That He is a descendant of David. That’s the whole point of this, but it’s also designed in such a way as to prove that Joseph isn’t His actual biological father, because Joseph is a descendant of a king called Jeconiah who was an evil king, and God pronounced a judgment on him that none of his descendants would sit on the throne of Israel. So, Jesus could not have been a physical son of Joseph and been the Messiah. The whole point of this first chapter of Matthew is on the virgin birth. He cites Isaiah 7:14 to the effect that a virgin would conceive, and so the whole focus here is on the virgin conception and birth of Jesus, which means Joseph isn’t His actual father.
So this is the purpose of the first two chapters, and then we come to Matthew 3 when we have the proclamation of John, and then Jesus, and then the disciples—all related to the kingdom.
Matthew 3:1, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea.”
This doesn’t happen at the time of Jesus’ birth. There’s this a gap between the time that He’s approximately two or three years of age and His appearance to John that occurs in Matthew 3.
The message is “to turn”. This is a term I pointed out has its roots in the Old Testament, and the issue in the Old Testament was, according to Deuteronomy 29, Israel would be apostate, and then they would turn back to God, and then when they turned back to God, God would regather them from all the corners of the earth and establish the kingdom. That’s in Deuteronomy 30.
This message “to turn” is grounded in that Deuteronomy prophecy. Some people respond, but not everyone responds, but that’s the message. It is a message related to the fulfillment of this literal, actual, geophysical kingdom in Israel.
Jesus reiterates that same message in Matthew 4:17, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then in Matthew 10:7 He will send the disciples out, and theirs is the same message. It’s all a message that targets Israel. It has a background that must be understood within the Old Testament message, and yet there is a partial response to that.
What Jesus does during this time is He is an itinerant preacher, and He traveled all around Galilee and some places just outside of Galilee that we know of, but mostly it’s in Galilee.
It is summarized in Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”
Preaching isn’t a term for motivational hortatory messages, which is how it’s wrongly used today. It is a proclamation. He is making this proclamation, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and He’s doing these three things: He’s teaching what the Old Testament prophesied about the Messiah, He’s proclaiming that He’s the One who is the Messiah bringing in the kingdom, and then to authenticate that message, He is healing the sickness, the disease, casting out demons, and other things. This verse is repeated almost verbatim in Matthew 9.
Then we have the Sermon on the Mount, and that is what kind of righteousness is necessary to enter the kingdom.
Now when we hear that phrase “entering the kingdom,” we often think that means getting saved, but that’s not how it was used. I’m going to demonstrate that in just a minute.
His point is “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom.”
Most of the time, I have been taught and have taught, and you have been taught, that what this means is positional righteousness, the imputation of righteousness at salvation. But that’s not how the writer of this Gospel uses that terminology.
In Matthew 18:3, this is a chapter that introduces the fourth discourse when the disciples say, “Who’s going to be the greatest in the kingdom?” Jesus answers that by saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted …” See, that communicates becoming saved, doesn’t it? Most of you read that and you think of converting from being an unbeliever to a believer.
That’s not what the word in the original means. It means “to turn.” It is related to that same word repent—the word that’s used in the Old Testament to turn to God. It’s not talking about turning to Him to get saved; it’s talking about turning to Him in obedience.
Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted—unless you turn—and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
See, if this is talking about getting into Heaven when you die, then we’ve got a problem, because then this is the gospel message; it’s not “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”, it’s the message of become a little child. See, either we have a contradiction there or we don’t understand the idiom at that time.
So the solution to this is to recognize that entering the kingdom doesn’t mean getting saved, getting justified, moving from spiritual death to spiritual life. What entering the kingdom means is experiencing the fullness and all of the blessings that would come with the kingdom. It doesn’t mean just getting into the kingdom or just having eternal life.
The question in Matthew 18 is who’s going to be the greatest in the kingdom, and all these twelve disciples, with the exception of Judas, are saved and they’re going to be in Heaven. But the question is if you’re going to have a position and responsibilities serving the Lord in the kingdom, then you have to learn humility, which is the illustration of the little child. So that helps us understand that.
As we move out of the Sermon on the Mount, we recognize that Jesus has authority over disease. He heals. If we look at this, what’s interesting, as we go through this chapter, is He’s healing a variety of people.
If we take time to examine them, what I recognized a while back going through this is that each of these circumstances where there’s a healing or a miracle, they’re all related to something that would have prevented a person from entering into the temple. They would have been spiritually unclean. He cleanses a leper in the first four verses [of Matthew 8].
Then you have a Gentile, you have a centurion, who has a servant who the implication is, it doesn’t say could be Jewish, but the implication is that the servant is also a Gentile. Jesus praises him because He says, “I haven’t even seen this kind of faith among the Jews.” But then He says that many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. So this is first hint that the kingdom is going to be not only made up of Jews but also Gentiles. Being a Gentile, you can only go so far into the temple and then you couldn’t go beyond the courtyard of the Gentiles.
And then there’s a healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. She’s sick, so that sickness, illness, certain kinds of illness, paralysis, leprosy, being demon possessed, all these different things that are healed and dealt with by Jesus in Matthew 8 and 9 would have kept them from coming into the presence of God ritually in the temple.
What Jesus is showing here is that He not only has authority over disease, but that He is able to provide the solution to access to God. He’s the one who provides the real cleansing that will give people immediate access to God. So He’s demonstrating
- His authority over disease
- His authority over the disciples
- over creation
- over demons
- His authority to forgive sins
- His authority to forgive the worst of sinners
- and His authority to usher in a new dispensation
- as well as to restore life and health.
All of these established His credentials in Matthew 8 and Matthew 9.
Then we come to the last chapter in this section, Matthew 10, which is the discourse on kingdom proclamation.
He sends them out to the house of Judah and the house of Israel. He tells them not to take a sword, not to take clothes, not to take money.
The lesson from this is when we study the Word, we also always have to look at who is talking, who are they talking to, and what are the circumstances, because you could open up this chapter, as some have, and you could say, “See, Jesus as a pacifist. He tells them not to take a sword.” But then just a few years later when He’s getting ready to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, He makes sure His disciples are armed and wants to know if they have any swords with them.
So is He just confused or are we confused? Most the time when you think Jesus is confused, you’re the one who’s confused. Jesus is sending them on a specific mission that is time bound. It was only for a specific time period. He’s not talking to us, He’s talking to those disciples and giving them a mission, and their mission is to proclaim that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand and what are they to do.
They’re to do what Jesus has been doing. They’re to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” And He says, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
They are to talk about the grace of God as they go about their mission in Matthew 10. But as we come to the end of chapter 10, we come to Jesus talking again about the significance of being a disciple.
He did this in the Sermon on the Mount where He emphasizes the importance of being rewarded by God in the future. In these discourses He’s beginning to teach about the importance of being fully committed to Jesus the Messiah and not just being comfortable with your salvation, but being committed, being ready to give everything for Jesus.
In Matthew 10:32–33 He says, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
So, this is one of those great passages for loading everybody up on a guilt trip. That if you ever deny Jesus or you’re not fully committed, then you won’t make it into Heaven. Jesus will deny you in Heaven. That’s not what it’s saying.
As we compare this, and we don’t have time to do it, but we compared this with other passages in Revelation, as well as in Timothy, what Jesus is talking about is very clear in Timothy, that those who acknowledge and confess Jesus before men, He confesses before the Father for rewards. He says this one, this disciple was obedient, they stood their ground. They will be rewarded. And for another who denies Jesus, they are a failure in their spiritual growth and spiritual life, and so they are denied rewards. It’s not that they are denied salvation. It’s that they are denied rewards.
Why is it important to be a disciple of Jesus? It is to honor Him, to glorify Him, because the consequences of our discipleship, the level of our commitment, is going to impact rewards and responsibilities given at the Judgment Seat of Christ, which determines our roles in the future kingdom that is established. So this is what is beginning to be built in terms of that ministry of the disciples.
Then we come to the second division, and this is the turning point that comes in Matthew 12 when Jesus heals on the Sabbat. This puts Him in direct opposition, direct conflict, to pharisaic tradition where nothing should take place on the Sabbath, no work, no effort or anything of that nature.
Again, Matthew is clear. He’s quoting from Hosea 6:6. He quotes from Isaiah 42:1–2 in order to again demonstrate Jesus is fulfilling the promises and prophecies about the Messiah.
So this comes to a head. What happens is the religious leaders accuse Him of casting out demons, performing His miracles in the power of Satan.
Then Jesus responds to them. He knows what their thoughts are, and He says in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?”
The point that He is making is that this is an absurd charge against Him. Then He draws a conclusion by verse 31. He says, “I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.”
That again confuses people. They say, “Okay, so there’s an unforgivable sin.”
Well, there are two ways in which we’re forgiven. Actually, if you follow my teaching, and recognize Scripture talks about four different types of forgiveness. There is a forgiveness that is the forgiveness of our sin because Christ canceled the debt on the Cross. That is not what He’s talking about here. There is the forgiveness that we receive positionally in Christ when we trust Him as our Savior and all of our sins are positionally forgiven, and we are given the righteousness of Christ, and that is the basis for our eternal salvation.
Then there is a forgiveness in terms of the sins that we commit on a day-to-day basis, and if we remain in those sins, there may be consequences and divine discipline, even to the point of a believer who continues to be disobedient and ends up going through the sin unto death.
This is comparable to that. The forgiveness here is not an eternal lack of forgiveness, it is this generation gets one shot at it. You got the shot to accept Me as the Messiah. You have rejected Me as Messiah. This generation has now committed an unforgivable sin. It is irreversible, and the kingdom is going to be taken from you. The result is this nation will go through judgment, you will be defeated, you will be scattered, the temple will be destroyed, and Jerusalem will be destroyed, and until you turned back to Me, there will be no future for Israel. This is what ends up being the subject of the fifth discourse.
This sets the stage for what happens in the rest of Matthew. And because we had the Lord’s Table today, I don’t have the time to do all of this in one lesson, so we will come back next time to look at the second half of Matthew and tie all of these things together in terms of what is expected of us in light of what we’ve learned in the Gospel of Matthew, putting all of this together now in two hours instead of just one.
“Father, we thank You for the opportunity we’ve had to study Matthew, to learn about the gospel of grace, that salvation is not dependent on who we are or what we do. Salvation is based on Your grace, it is based on the provision of the Savior who is fully qualified to die on the Cross for our sins and pay the penalty for our sins, and that not only are we offered this fantastic gift of salvation, but with that comes an obligation.
“We can’t lose that salvation if we fail to live up to the obligation, but the obligation is to become a follower of Jesus, to become a student, to become someone who is focused on following the Lord and obeying Him completely. A challenge that each of us has to face each and every day.
“Father, we want to make it clear that if there is anyone listening to this lesson, anyone who’s here today maybe for the first time, that if you’ve never trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior, this is an opportunity to do so. He is the promised, prophesied Messiah from the Old Testament. He was depicted in the rituals and in the various images that are used in the Old Testament, and He came to fulfill all of that and to give salvation to each of us. He paid for your sins. He paid for my sins. He paid for the sins of the world. And that all that is expected of us is to believe, to accept, to receive Him as our Savior, and at that instant we become a new creature in Christ. We are saved eternally, and it can never be taken away from us.
“Father, we pray that we would respond to that challenge, but also be reminded that as a believer, we are challenged to step forward and to follow Jesus, to be a disciple, to not just be comfortable with being saved, but to be challenged with being a true follower and representative of Jesus, carrying out the mission in this Church Age to make disciples.
“And Father, we pray that You challenge each of us with our need to apply this message to our lives.
“In Christ’s name we pray, amen.”