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Kingdom of Heaven

Yesterday we looked at repentance, and how Jesus expected repentance as He brought the Kingdom to His people.

One thing we looked at yesterday tweaked my spirit a bit.

We read,

Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. - Matthew 11:20

It seems that Jesus expected repentance as a response to miracles.

Let’s read on,

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you. - Matthew 11:21-24

Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. As we observed yesterday, it came with a call to repentance.

It also came with miracles.

Don’t miss this.

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. - Matthew 4:23

When Jesus brought the gospel, He brought a message of deliverance for the whole man, body, soul and spirit. He came bringing life—shalom—whole life—abundant life—to all who would hear and receive Him.

When He came to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and even His adopted home town of Capernaum, He brought healing, just as He did throughout Galilee, Jerusalem and all Judea.

Do you think it took Him by surprise that these great cities of Galilee did not repent?

Why does Isaiah 53 call Him the Man of Sorrows? This is it right here. Because light walked into darkness, and darkness put out the light, rather than risk exposure. It broke His heart.

The kingdom of heaven had come near to them, and them rejected heavenly citizenship to hold on to the fleeting pleasures of this life.

How is it with you? (Yes Ben, I’m looking at you.)

First—have you turned from your own path to The Way and followed after the One who brings life?

Next—do you bring the good news with the expectation that God will confirm the word preached with signs—wonders?

Finally—do you expect to see repentance. Do you call for it? Do you nurture it either in those to whom you are preaching, or in your own life?

Lord, teach me to preach the good news, as I go, in such a way as to foster repentance, and please bring signs and wonders as the word goes forth. Thank you for the promise of Your presence as we go and preach.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for stopping  by. Sorry this was a bit of a ramble today.

Be a blessing today,

Ben

The Preacher

I have been pondering 1 Corinthians 15 for a while, and would love to work through some of it here in this wonderful forum. So I am taking a break from Matthew and going to poke around here in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15 for a bit. Here goes:

Paul is going to define the gospel for us in this passage. This is actually to my knowledge the only place in the Bible where it comes right out and says, “This is the gospel.” For me, that is cause to sit up and take notice.

Before we get to the gospel itself, let’s look at the delivery method:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

1)    The gospel was preached
2)    The gospel was received
3)    Those who receive stand
4)    Those who receive are saved
5)    Those who receive hold fast

Let’s take each of these one by one.

The gospel preached

There are those who quote Francis of Assisi as having said:

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. ~ Francis of Assisi

We love this. Friendship evangelism. And you know what? As groundwork, to earn the right to speak into people’s lives, it is often the right choice. We like to quote Jesus’ own words for this one:

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:35

Please notice here, however, Jesus did not say, “by this all will become my disciples,” but that they will know where you stand.

Our love for one another, and for the lost are integral parts of our Christian walk and testimony, but they do not replace the preaching of the gospel.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 10.

“WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher? ~ Romans 10:13-15

Check this out:

it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:21

And of course from our passage today:

The gospel which I preached to you, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1

This is what Jesus did, and what the taught the disciples to do.

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give. ~ Matthew 10:7-8

God has chosen preaching as the vehicle to deliver this wonderful commodity. It can not actually be caught rather than taught. As we will see in the next day or so, there are words involved in the gospel, so it cannot be passed on wordlessly.

What is Preaching?

There are actually two words for preach in the New Testament. The more common is the word “kēryssō,” which means to proclaim with authority. This is the word used when we are commissioned by Jesus at the end of Him ministry to:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. ~ Mark 16:15

But that is not the word used here in 1 Corinthians 15. The funny thing is that the word for preach here, is virtually the same word as gospel.

The word for gospel or good news in the Greek is “euaggelion,” while the word for preached is “euaggelizō.” It is as though Paul good-newsed them with the gospel, if you get what I mean.

It is not unlike the way we use “evangelize” today.

The evangelicals evangelized those who had never heard the “eveangel” (gospel/good news)

Here this: None of the love and good deeds, kind words, smiles and random kindnesses are wasted, or go unrewarded. They are just not the gospel.

So here is the question for the day:

Have you good-newsed anyone lately?

[Please don't take this word as a condemnation of where you have been. I only ask that you open your spiritual antennae to the Holy Spirit today and look for divine appointments. Listen for the words which He will give you. That is the only basis on which we can preach - the words He puts in our mouth - deal?]

Ben NelsonMore tomorrow

See you then,

Ben