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Not Far from the Kingdom (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 29, 2020 4:00 am

Not Far from the Kingdom (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 29, 2020 4:00 am

When a religious scribe sincerely asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus saw right into the man’s heart. Join us on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg examines Christ’s clear response, which became the moral benchmark for generations to come.


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The stories we read in the gospel often include real characters whose spiritual struggles are parallel to some of our own today on Truth for Life. We read about a scribe who met Jesus and posed a few questions but in doing so, this man revealed his spiritual condition and maybe our spiritual condition as well. Alistair Begg is titled today's message, not far from the kingdom invite you to turn with me to the gospel of Mark and to chapter 12 and reading the section that begins at verse 28 and goes through to various 34 Mark chapter 12 verse 28, and one of the scribes came up and had them disputing with one another and seeing that he answer them well, asked him which commandment is the most important of all, Jesus answer the most important is here oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this you shall love your neighbor as yourself. That is no other commandment greater than these, the scribe said to him you are right, teacher. You have truly said that he is one and there is no other besides him and to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength and to love one's neighbor as oneself is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him you are not far from the kingdom of God. And after that no one dared to ask him anymore questions and then assess cards to help us as we look at this section.

Make the boot live to me oh Lord, show me yourself within your word.

Show me myself and show me my Savior and make the book live to me for Jesus sake. Amen.

The Cavaliers had 199 lead against the rules with three seconds left. It was game five of the Eastern conference first round in the Coliseum, Richfield. Jordan was double teamed by eel all and by Larry Nance.

He evaded both of them and hit what is now been known ever since as the shot and I was one.

You are perhaps one of the 20,000+ sitting in stunned silence as once again the story of Cleveland sports became close, but not close enough that this shard is one of the many dramatic sports moments that have come at the expense of a Cleveland team. I don't want to dishearten you on such a happy weekend, but to the shot we can add red right 88.

The catch the drive. The fumble moved. And of course the 1997 World Series. Why would I even mention these things to begin well because there is one phrase that stands out in our reading isn't her.

That is so striking. You are not far from the kingdom of God.

As I was studying that this week I was think about all the ways in which you can get very close to something and you not experience the something is possible to get the ball in the 1 yard line but not in the Enzo is possible to come very close to an individual, and yet for that friendship never to be consummated and married.

We understand the phraseology close but not close enough and it is most significant level. This individual is described by Jesus in this way, we need to discover what it is he means by that and also I suggest to you that we need to discover why it would possibly matter to any of us this morning is so long removed and so far away from this particular incident as it to place in the precincts of Jerusalem, but I think some of you have already guessed, you know, because the phrase struck you and that is that this phrase is an apt description of some of our lives. This morning that we actually fit this designation. Inasmuch as like this man. We are not far from the kingdom of God close but not close enough for those of us who been working our way through Mark. We know that the good news has begun with the establishing of Jesus telling everybody that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near what he meant by that was not geographical or spatial, but rather that the kingdom of God was now present in himself. Jesus the King and on account of that he asked his listeners to do two things. One, to repent and turn away from their own agenda in life and their desire to please themselves and go their own way and to turn away from that, and secondly faith to place their faith unreservedly in the living God in Jesus himself and the reason that the Gospels, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John then contain all these events and encounters all these miracles is because Jesus is establishing in the hearts and minds of the people he meets the reality of the fact that he is actually the King that he is the Lord of creation. That's why he is able to preside over the winds and the waves. That is why he is able to heal the sick, that he is the Lord over all of the powers of the ages and that is why he is able to sign silence the demons. These things are not just random incidents thrown in there is filler but each of the gospel writers is providing us with the evidence of the fact that Jesus is the King and that he has come to gather people into his kingdom as what he's doing is calling individuals and he still calling individuals and he saying hey I'm the king here is my King. I invite you to come and be part of my King. You don't slide in on your own basis. You don't get in on the really on the strength of religious endeavor, but the entryway, he made clear from the very beginning repentance and faith.

He's like no other King. He's already written into Jerusalem on a donkey very uncaring light.

He is about to receive a crown but this crown will be a crown of thorns book King wears a crown of thorns except the king that is now come to suffer and die for people's sins.

All of this by way of background to the dialogue that we have here as we work our way through this brief section. I want us to consider. First of all, the question that this man poses to Jesus, then the affirmation that he makes to the answer provided by Jesus.

And then this man's condition as described by Jesus of you have a text before you will see that in verse 28. One of the scribes, presumably part of the group, or at least the fringe group who has observed the previous dispute with the Sadducees concerning the question of the resurrection has been impressed with the way in which Jesus had answered these individuals and so now he comes with a question of his own. His question posed to Jesus the previous question was convoluted. If you don't remember, you can reread it. This present question is clear it's there in a sentence which commandment is the most important of all of the lawyers here. You understand that legal boffins are routinely interested in matters of legal precedent so that on the basis of legal precedent and cases may be tried and retry in the instance of this man, who is a scribe or a lawyer.

He has a question concerning the priority of the laws of God and he wants to know is there a big one is her first one is there an outstanding one, which is the commandment of all commandments which is the one he sent it may well be that he wants to know this so that he can assess himself against that standard. So unlike the previous question. This one is clear and also unlike the previous question.

This one is sincere. The previous people would come to Jesus you will remember trying to trap him by his talk. They were trying to trip them up.

They came by way of confrontation. This man comes seeking clarification and you remember that there is such a difference between those two isn't her all the difference in the world between coming to listen to the Bible being taught because you want to be confrontational because you want to be argumentative and coming listening to the Bible being taught because you want things clarified in your mind. I had a letter this week from somebody actually said in the letter wasn't letter was a card was a letter written on a card. I suppose I made a lady wrote to say that she came initially to Parkside so that she could get fuel for for the fire of her animosity and her antagonism even as I tell you this. You think you must you must make one of these up a week because last week you told us that you had a letter from a radio listen, you don't and I would make these things up. I hope you don't. I did and this week at a letter from somebody local somebody here said the very same thing. Perhaps because she was listening last week and she wanted me to know that this was not an unusual occurrence that that individuals will come under the sound of the Bible just so they can find out what it is that is totally bogus so that they can explain to their friends was a complete waste of time to come. If you are you like that I'm gradually I'm absolutely thrilled because were beginning to build a track record of people come just like that and go away radically different.

Strange how it happens is know this man's question was clear.

His question was sincere and the answer that Jesus gave was was absolutely wonderful. We will notice that there we won't spend long on it, is familiar to us. Jesus answers with great clarity. Well let me tell you of the most important is that he begins with Deuteronomy 6 familiar words to every Jewish man every Jewish boy and girl. He quotes immediately from the basic and essential Jewish creamed. The Shema hero, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Then he goes on to explain, from their this is the material that is taught to every Jewish child.

Even today, and this is the phraseology that begins every Orthodox Jewish service right up until today. Jesus says let me answer the question about the commandment by referring you to material that you know I want you to notice the awls.

Four of them and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength is pretty demanding isn't this nod if you have a superficial interest in the things of God. Why don't you just come and join me in my kingdom know.

He says if you want to know about the commandments of God. The first one is this William Barclay says that the love that is conveyed in this command is alive, which does three things you might want to know these these down if you take notes. It is a love says Barclay which dominates our emotions which directs our thoughts and which is the dynamic of all our actions. In other words, it is volitional, it is not simply a feeling in the tell me it is not the Rangers string of some kind of spiritual desire or design, but it actually involves total devotion to God is impossible to say what I say I just be the first and greatest commandment.

But I don't deal with any of the other eight or nine know if a person is saying I am totally committed to God, body, soul and mind means that they are totally committed what he says about no telling lies that they are totally committed what it says about marital fidelity that they are totally committed to not coveting one another's one another's product and so long. In other words, that the outworking of this one great commandment and its corollary, as we will see is not said apart from the commands of God but is worked out in the fulfilling of the commands of God and Jesus. You will notice ads. The second string to his bore the second wings of the plane as he quotes from Leviticus 19 and he says, and the second is this you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. That's a pretty straight question in a pretty obvious answer is what is the greatest commandment. Here it is all in your neighbor as well not always easy to love your neighbor is there's no substantiation in this phraseology either for self-love as being taught over the last 2 1/2 day cages.

He is forced to love yourself and if you love yourself, and so on as if somehow or another. That's the real problem.

The absence of self-love. The biggest problem I have is the presence of self-love, but why would we love our neighbors while we love our neighbors because they're made in God's image now because are necessarily the loveliest neighbor.

We are not necessarily the loveliest neighbors either. The image of God is distorted in people's lives. We look at the life's of people we see that there so far removed, it would seem from the plans and purposes and designs of God or whatever, then, to do just disregard to pass them by know the story of the good Samaritan answers that once and for all, doesn't but a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was challenging his like to wings of a play in the two commands are both necessary and inseparable. What is the question. Secondly, the affirmation the affirmation and describe verse 32 and the scribe said to him you are right, teacher. I don't know whether there's a hint of condescension in this or not, we can tell because I was the weekend here. The tone of voice, but it may well be that he saying well I'm glad to let you know that this is set yearly events are very, very well and you have a scribe I know all these things and you are a noncredentialed rabbi from somewhere in the in the backwaters and you've given a very good answer. I must say here, here, well done. Jesus excellent work teacher.

You have truly said this, you will notice that he reinstates what Jesus says in large measure, verse 33 to 11 with all the heart, the definite article is in here now and with all the understanding is interesting that there are.

This is a different word that he uses. They are in in Greek.

Jesus uses the word for mind. He is a word for understanding. It doesn't matter doesn't change the meaning of tall but it is it is translated in that way because of the distinction with all the strength and to love one's neighbor as oneself, but you will notice that he both precedes that and he follows that by an emphasis that he draws out from the opening phrase of the Shema which is quoted there the end of verse 29 so he's not only affirming the universal obligation of devotion to God, one that is undiluted, one that involves placing our entire personality in God's service as well as affirming that obligation.

You will notice that he does two things. One, he affirms the uniqueness of God. Notice that you have truly said that he is one and there is no other b-sides in and what the man is affirming is the fact that God is not like the gods of the idols he is not like the gods of the heathen, and all the way through the Old Testament. Indeed, all the way through the story of life that reality of the uniqueness of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed God the father, God the son God the Holy Spirit.

Three and 11 in three mysterious at best. We have is an extrapolation or formulation of the truth, not an explanation of the truth, but all the way through history right up until the present day that God who has revealed himself in the world that he is made in the conscience of men and women with a sense of alertness in the Bible that he is given and preserved for us and finally in saving the in the person of his son. This God is the God who then obligates us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and so on commences.

You know you're right in saying that there is only one God and notice.

Secondly he says and also it is important he points out that we recognize that this undiluted love for God is actually more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices areas not seeing here the sacrifices are irrelevant or clearly not. They were established by God, but he is acknowledging this that the routine of the sacrificial system, minus an obedient heart is irrelevant to God. The process of doing what God is asked us to do that is divorced from the reality of heart and mind and soul and strength, and obedience is like going through the external routines of a bona fide Orthodox manageable marriage out of which the live has long since trade all the laws of their goodbyes and they're all yes thank you sir. There, but it is obvious that a lot of the school and so he says Jesus obedience actually matters more than that of Christie's mother said doing the same thing here, here, scribe.

You have done well because what he's doing is he has recently quoting from the Old Testament is acknowledging what it said for Samuel 15 question has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord, does he have as much delight in the sacrifices, as in obedience, behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. This is Truth for Life pick up right here next time. As Alister Bragg presents his third point you want to hear them describe the spiritual condition of the person asking the questions because it will probably sound familiar.

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Perhaps no group of Christians took this command any more seriously than the Puritans. Their story of faithfulness is beautifully portrayed in this impressive film along with helpful commentary from contemporary theologians and historians ask for the documentary called Puritan all of life, to the glory of God, to give a donation and request the documentary The DVD image you see on the mobile app or visit Truth for can also call us at 888-588-7884 Bob Lapine tomorrow. Alister Bragg helps us understand what the scribes question we heard about today from Mark chapter 12 revealed about his spiritual condition and why his story exposes us today sure to join us Friday. This daily program features the Bible teaching of Alistair Begg and it's furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living

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