Thursday, July 27, 2017

Kingdom Choices

August 28, 2011  
Filed under Sermon Notes

Sermon notes for Matthew 16.21-27 (Proper 17A)  August 28, 2011

By Fr Van McCalister

Last Sunday I was visiting an Anglican Church in Wichita Falls, Texas with my eldest son.

  • I found myself doing this thing that I always do and despise but keep doing: Comparing.
  • That’s not worship! I chose the wrong kingdom.

Romans 7:15 – I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

I’ve thought about writing a blog article: “How to destroy a church” but  C.S. Lewis has already done it better than I could in the Screwtape Letters.

CS Lewis provides some valuable insight into how Satan uses Christians against other Christians. Consider . . . [Screwtape Letters: Chapter 2, pp 11-12]. “You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbors . . .”

Over the past year, I have observed Christians say things about other Christians that are simply shocking. You would think that we were at war with one another, rather than at war with Satan. I hate to even mention these things but I think it is important that you recognize how insidious this Satanic attack is. I’ve witnessed the following:

  • Unfounded accusations against a dear brother at last year’s budget hearings during the convention
  • Divisions among the clergy
  • Church members avoiding one another

There also examples where Satan has failed:

  • I promised John D. two years ago that I would inform him about any upcoming events where sound was needed. I promised to do that! And yet, I have forgotten to do it a number of times. But John keeps forgiving me – I respect him for that as much as for the work that he does. John made the right kingdom choice.
  • Chapter meeting: Gary and I seemed to be at odds with each other, which was very troubling. We broke through with prayer. I love Gary. My relationship with him is more important than any business that I would ever bring before the Chapter. We made the right kingdom choice.

Many of us are fatigued and under heavy-duty stress! Air-conditioner, appropriate care for the homeless, tensions about how to maintain the campus, finances, preparing for a new bishop, family issues, work issues, health issues . . .

  • These situations strain relationships; Break relationships. We make assumptions.
  • Marriage counseling: Don’t battle each other; fight along side each other.
  • These situations force us to choose a kingdom.

We are under attack!

  • If you knew someone was plotting to break into your home and attack your family, you’d do something – you’d prepare for the attack!

Ephes. 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Is this not what Jesus is trying to teach the disciples in Matthew 16?

It begins with Peter’s confession in front of the “Gates of Hades” in Caesarea Philippi where Jesus gave the disciples authority to access the Kingdom of Heaven – as you heard last Sunday {Matthew 16:13-20].

Matthew 16:19 – I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

[See also Mt 18.18 and John 20.23].

The binding (retain) and loosing (forgive – declarative) is given in three contexts:

  1. As a result of confessing the name of Christ [Mt 16.19]
  2. As a response to the need for reconciliation [Mt 18.18]
  3. As a result of being sent, and receiving the Holy Spirit [Jn 20.23]

John 20:21-23 – Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”

The contexts of Kingdom Authority are (1) Confessing Christ, (2) Reconciliation, (3) Being sent out with the Holy Spirit.

In the Greek, this binding and loosing/retaining and forgiving is declarative, in the sense that the determination has already been made in heaven – therefore the role of the faithful disciple is to discover the Lord’s will on the matter before we declare it.

Therefore, the authority that Jesus has given to us is not autonomous; it is not whimsical; it is dependent upon God.

We see that misunderstood and misused when Peter next steps out authoritatively, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” [Mt 16.22b].

Peter did not discern God’s will before he declared his opposition to Jesus’ plan. Peter made the wrong kingdom choice. In fact, he mirrored Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness, where the devil tried to get Jesus to leave the Kingdom of Heaven and submit to the Kingdom of Darkness. [Matthew 4.1-11]

Jesus responded firmly,

Matthew 16:23 – But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

[Satan = Accuser, or Adversary. See Zechariah 3.1]

Why did Jesus respond so harshly?

  • Peter was thinking in terms of human warfare: Overthrow the Romans and take back Jerusalem by force.
  • Jesus was working to overthrow Satan himself: By means of self-sacrifice.

Therefore, Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

The way to confront this attack that we are under is to follow Jesus through self-denial and personal sacrifice.

What is personal sacrifice?

Matthew 16:25 – For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Personal sacrifice is caring for God’s interest in others; more than your own agenda.

  • We find the kind of life that Jesus is talking about when we relinquish our pride and selfish desires.
  • We find that kind of life when we pray for our enemies.
  • Love is an action; not a feeling. In Jesus’ life, Love is how we behave, no matter how we feel.

Matthew 16:26 – For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

  • “There is nothing so precious as a man’s soul.” – J.C. Ryle

Jesus values souls and he demands that we treat our enemies differently than the world does.

Lately, I have been working on my grumbling, which usually happens while driving: You Idiot! Fool! Grumbling, insults, accusations, name-calling is a GRAVE sin – look!

CALL NO BROTHER A FOOL.

Matthew 5:22 – But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

Instead, Jesus calls us to Love, Bless and Pray for our enemies.

BLESS; DO NOT CURSE.

Luke 6:28, 27 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Friends we are under attack. Satan is at work to destroy our relationships with one another. If he can get us to withdraw from each other; If he can divide us, he can greatly impair God’s ministry here.

How many of you have heard (or said) something like, “I’m tired of all of the ____*____ and so I’m not doing that anymore.” *[whining, hypocrisy, gossip, hurt feelings, bad-mouthing, not helping]

Or, “ ___(person)_____ is getting on my nerves, so I stopped going there.”

When those things are said in the Church, it almost certainly means that Satan has won that battle.

How are we supposed to deal with these conflicts the way Jesus wants us to?

He gave clear direction:

  • Set your mind on the things of God rather than the things of man.
  • Deny yourself. Lose your life. (Jesus has a better one)
  • Take up your cross and follow Jesus (for some that was literal, such as Peter and Andrew, and for others it is the daily crucifixion of our flesh for the sake of following Jesus)
  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who hate you
  • Bless those who curse you
  • Pray for those who mistreat you

Finally, Jesus tells the disciples that some will “see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

The next event that Matthew records is Peter, James and John seeing Jesus revealed in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is as if Jesus want ed to do more than just promise them that they would see Him, he wanted to actually show them. He gave them a view of Himself to cling onto for the future when they would be afraid, confused and suffering.

Because we have been created to honor and glorify God, it helps us to see His glory. The disciples needed that and so do we. We witness that in our worship. Listen to the Liturgy at the Table: Christ is honored and glorified – and we get to witness it! Not only do we get to witness it but we participate in it and we receive Him glorified in the palms of our hands!

I wish we had the time to explore Paul’s view of what it means to be a Living Sacrifice in Romans 12, but we don’t. So, I encourage you to also study Romans 12 in the light of what we’ve just been discussing.

Collect of the Day

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

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