Sunday, May 15, 2011

Luke Part 39: The weak will crush Satan's kingdom through God's power

Text: Luke 10:17-24

In this passage, Jesus is giving further encouragement and instruction for kingdom life.

First, we see the results from the 70 people whom He had sent out previously. Remember, these were "just ordinary folk". They returned from their mission exultant in their victory in spiritual battle. They went out in the name of Jesus, and found that the devils were subject to them in His name.

Jesus explains to them in verse 19 that He has given them power in the spiritual world. That is the meaning of the "serpents and scorpions" described here, not literal insects and snakes, but rather evil spirits and men under their control. When men are saved, they are set free from Satan's dominion, and he is beaten. This is what Jesus was seeing when He saw Satan "falling like lightning." (v. 18).

Then, Jesus gives a reminder of their real reason for rejoicing. The real reason for a Christian to rejoice is that he is Christ's, not because of power in the spirit realm. We can rejoice if we know our names are written in heaven. This phrase indicates security -- having your name written in heaven is as if you are already there.

Then we see something quite remarkable in verse 21: we are told that Jesus "rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit". Their victorious mission pleased the Lord! It was a cause for Him to rejoice.

We see that He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. This is the place where true, deep rejoicing is from. And the rejoicing led Him to thank the Father. What was Jesus rejoicing about? What was it that made him so happy? It was that God reveals Himself to the simple, the humble, and the trusting. That it doesn't have anything to do with brainpower. No one is excluded. It is all God's work.

We see here a picture of the Trinity: Jesus the Son, rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, thanking the Father for His wondrous work and revealing Him to the world. (v. 22) This is a look into the close fellowship and communion within the Trinity.

Then, Jesus turn to his disciples and tells them they are blessed and privileged to see and hear these things. This is who we are -- we are those who have seen and heard these things as well. Even a "man after God's own heart" such as King David didn't receive the blessing of seeing the gospel fully. The prophets revealing God's Word in the Old Covenant wanted to see these things, but were unable to.

But we have the fulfillment of the promise. We're not living on the promise, as the saints of old did. We are living on its fulfillment, and we are going to crush the kingdom of Satan!

Do you expect to be used? Do we expect results for our outreach and witness? Is God going to use us to crush Satan by saving men, as He did with these 70? It seems to be what this is saying; we can confidently go forth knowing that He will fulfill His work.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Luke Part 38: Jesus’ Words on Judgment

Text: Luke 10:1-16

This section contains some of Jesus’ teachings on the final judgment to come.  A brief listing of some of those teachings is given below:

First, what you do in this life follows you into the next, and the position in the next life is fixed: either eternal judgment or eternal life.

There is a Last Day.  A final Day of Judgment is coming.  A certain day is fixed when this world will end and God will put all things right.  All the dead shall rise and stand before God.  Every man will be there on that great day.

There are only two destinies when we leave this world: heaven or hell.  There is no second chance.  What did you do with your privilege of hearing the gospel?

There will be degrees of punishment.  Some will receive a greater punishment.  The punishment will be perfect, exactly fitting the situation.

The degree of punishment, we read here, will be based on the amount of truth is rejected – not on what bad things the person did in his lifetime.  What a fearful thing to consider here in America where the gospel is so well-known, even treated as commonplace!

Jesus cites three contemporary cities (Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum) and compares them two three ancient cities that had long-since been annihilated.  The contemporary cities that He mentioned had seen much of Christ and His teachings.  Then He compared them to Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon – dreadful places known for their wickedness – and said that these horribly wicked ancient cities would have repented long ago if they had seen the gospel.

Jesus discusses Capernaum specifically.  The parallels to the United States are clear.  It is a city that has been incredibly blessed, but now they are “lifted up” – at least they think of themselves as lifted up.  Their religion is a civil religion; it will get them nowhere.  How can our country, who is so much like this city, continue on?  We need a revival of true heart religion!

From this section in Luke, we must take away the certain knowledge that we are carrying the most important message – the gospel.  This is the message of judgment and life eternal.

Note that Jesus is entrusting this word to just normal people.  Each of us is responsible to pass the word of the gospel along.  Remember that men cannot be convinced through reasoning.  Salvation only comes through the working of God, and God works through His gospel.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Luke Part 37: Ten principles for sharing the gospel

Text: Luke 10:1-16

In this passage, Jesus appoints 70 additional disciples and continues His teaching by telling them how they are to go out and spread the word. His instructions are full of good advice for leaders and pastors, but also for us today, considering that the 70 sent were just ordinary people, as we are ordinary people as well.

Here are ten principles drawn from the text, for us to consider today as we share with the world around us:

1. The work is toilsome; it is a labor (v. 2) Spreading the gospel will be a battle. It will not usually be easy. Have the proper expectation.

2. It is dangerous -- the 70 were being sent out "as lambs in the midst of wolves". (v.3)

3. We must be single-minded (v.4). Our single focus must be on sharing the gospel. Don't get distracted from your purpose! You must depend upon God.

4. Be plain and straight-forward in your presentation of the gospel (v.9). Don't try to sugar-coat it or address it obliquely. Proclaim the gospel, the Word of God!

5. Be a positive and not a negative work... the 70 were instructed to say, "Peace be upon this house" (v.5). The gospel is good news! The gospel is the power of God.

6. The laborer is to initiate the contact. We don't have to sit and wait around for someone to contact us, we should take initiative and reach out to others.

7. Jesus sent them into places where He was going to come later (v.1). This should be a great encouragement to us! Jesus has put us into places where He will come. Be confident that He will follow and bring fruit when you sow.

8. Evaluate and understand where He has sent you. Do the same people keep coming across your path?

9. Recognize the importance of the responsibility Christ has placed into your hands. He has said, "When they hear you, they hear Me." (v.16) God will have a witness, even if the rocks and stones must cry out! He has sent us as His ambassadors; we speak for Him.

10. It is a tremendous privilege to be entrusted with the gospel. We are the ones who have been privileged to represent God on earth.

Pray, plan, and speak! You must make a plan in order to accomplish anything, especially gospel work. You have been sent to particular people at a particular place; make a plan to speak. If you don't make a plan, you won't share the gospel. Forget the small talk, go directly to a single-minded, simple and straightforward presentation!