Reformation is needed in almost every day. If Paul, within years of founding the Corinthian congregation, needs to see them reformed, we can't be surprised that churches need reforming regularly in the history of the church. Sometimes that reform is more in the nature of a revitalization, but I think people have, especially in America, been too content to be satisfied with entertainment and with shallowness, and we need a seriousness about God, about Christ, and about His Word, and I think to be drawn again to a passionate interest in the Word is going to take a major reformation of the church today. My hope is that this series will serve the church by causing people to reflect on what the church ought to be according to the Word of God.
Today on the Lord's Day edition of Renewing Your Mind. The authority by which the New Testament was written was by the authority of Christ, so that if you reject the New Testament apostolic witness, you reject the one who commissioned the apostles to write the Word of Jesus. When Jesus called His disciples, He chose them and commissioned them to proclaim the gospel to the world. As we continue our study from the Gospel of Luke today, Dr. R.C. Sproul will show us that when Jesus sent the Twelve, He gave them both power and authority, and that's important as we read and study their divinely inspired writings. All right, this morning we're going to continue our study of the Gospel of Luke.
I'll be reading from chapter 9, verse 1 through verse 9, and I'll ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money, and do not have two tunics apiece.
Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them. And so they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. And I'm going to leave the rest of this text for the next time we come back to chapter 9 and just concentrate now on the first six verses. But those verses that you've just heard come to us, as I say, weekly, from the divine authority and inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit. This is the Word of God given for your edification and for your instruction.
Please receive it as such and be seated. Let us pray. And now, O Lord, we ask that You would prepare us for the hearing of Your Word and prepare me for the proclaiming of it. For without You, our understanding is dim and our proclamation is feeble. And so we ask now for Your kind and gracious presence in our midst, and we ask it in Jesus' name.
Amen. This passage that you've just heard is very brief, but in the history of redemption is one that is extremely important because it marks a transition point in the earthly ministry of Jesus that will have radical ramifications for the whole future of Christianity. Notice in verse 1 of chapter 9, Jesus called His 12 disciples.
He summoned them, and He summoned them for a particular reason. And in this summation, we see a critically important transition in the lives of the 12 disciples. Now the disciples are becoming apostles. I've mentioned this before that sometimes we have the tendency to think that since the Scriptures speak of the 12 disciples and that the 12 apostles, that the term disciple and apostle are mere synonyms, but that's not the case at all. A disciple in the Greek, the mothates, is a learner, a student, one who followed after Jesus, learning at His feet. But to be an apostle is something quite different. An apostle, the word means one who is sent, is one who is commissioned and called by a superior, such as a king or a general in the army, or in this case by the Lord of glory, and is sent out from those in supreme authority, carrying the authority of the one who sent them.
Such as an ambassador may have been authorized in the ancient world to speak with the authority of the king who sent him. Well, if we bring that over into the church, Jesus selected from His 12 men whom He would send with His authority. As He would say elsewhere, He who receives you receives Me.
And if they reject you, they are rejecting Me. Now, of course, the first apostle in the New Testament, the supreme apostle in the New Testament, was Jesus Himself, who was very conscious that He had been sent by the Father. And remember when He was engaged in controversy with His contemporaries, such as the Pharisees, who repudiated Him and claimed to be followers of God, Jesus' response was, you can't have it both ways. If you believe the Father, you have to believe the one whom the Father sent.
You can't have the Father and not have the Son. And in like manner, you can't have the Son and reject His apostles. And it's been commonplace in our culture, particularly in the movement of radical feminism that has a certain distaste for the teaching of the apostle Paul. The feminists will say, Jesus, we like, but we don't want anything to do with Paul.
He was a misogynist and all of that business. Well, if you reject Paul, you reject the one who sent him. You can't reject Paul and keep Jesus, just as you can't reject Jesus and believe the Father. So here, Jesus calls the Twelve to Himself for this purpose, to give them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. They had no power in and of themselves. They had no authority in and of themselves, but the authority and power by which they were to exercise this ministry of healing and of preaching was by the power and authority of Christ, who now distributes that power and authority to His apostles. We remember when in the book of Acts, Peter and John healed the man by the gate beautiful. They were dragged before the Sanhedrin, and the leaders of Israel said, by which power have you done this thing? And they responded, by the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified.
And so on. But again, they were saying the power by which this man was healed was not ours. It was Christ's. And the authority by which the New Testament was written was by the authority of Christ. So that if you reject the New Testament apostolic witness, you reject the one who commissioned the apostles to write the Word of Jesus. So now, after He gives them this power and authority, He sends them to do what?
To preach the kingdom of God, which was the central theme of Jesus' own preaching. Just as John the Baptist had come on the scene earlier and said, repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand, then Jesus came with the same message. This is a new time in history. This is the time of the breakthrough of God's kingdom.
Why? Because God's anointed King was here. And so now, Jesus, who had been preaching the kingdom of God throughout His earthly ministry, and the idea here is that in all probability, the time of Jesus' ministry in Galilee is coming to an end. But before that ministry in Galilee is completed, He sends His disciples as apostles to preach His message through every village and town in Galilee.
And so He said, preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs, plural, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, and do not have two tunics of peace. Now, one of the other gospel writers has Jesus saying, don't take a staff.
And so the critics say, here's a contradiction. Or they say, do take a staff. And Jesus is saying, yes, you can have one staff, but not two.
One tunic, but not two tunics. In other words, the mandate that Jesus is giving is you're to go out there and travel light. You're to be on the move every moment.
And you don't take anything even to meet your own basic needs. And then He goes on to say that you're basically to depend upon the Jewish principle of hospitality that was part of the law of Moses. That if a stranger is in your gates, you are to give shelter and food and hospitality to them. And so Jesus is now sending His representatives to the Jewish people, and He says, whatever house you enter, stay there. And from there, depart. That is, when you're finished with your ministry in that particular village, you leave that house. But I don't want you going into one house, and if you don't like the menu, going to another house and seek better quarters or better food. You go to one place, you stay there until your mission is done. And it's the people's responsibility to support you while you're involved in this mission.
Now, here's the part of the text that I want to focus on because it is scary. Jesus says, and whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them. Now, if you've never read the Bible, and that can't be true of anybody in here this morning, but if you're not familiar with Scripture, you probably have heard of this idiomatic expression of shaking the dust off your feet.
Well, where does that come from? Jesus uses an idiom that He doesn't invent on this occasion. This was an idea with which His disciples were already familiar. Remember when God called Moses out of the Midianites wilderness when He spoke out of the burning bush, He said, Moses, Moses, take off your shoes from off your feet.
Why? Because the ground on which you are standing is holy ground. To this day, we refer to the land of Israel as the Holy Land. It was the land promised by God to Abraham and to his descendants. And the Holy Land, which began to be inhabited and owned by the Jewish people in the Old Testament, was considered sacred. And everything outside of the borders of Israel was pagan. And the pagans were considered to be unclean. So when a Jew went on a journey that would take him over the borders of Israel into a pagan land, where he would be standing on ground that was not holy ground, but contaminated ground, contaminated by the sin of the residents in these pagan regions, when the Jew came back to the border of Israel, his custom was this, that before he crossed into the Holy Land again, he would stop, literally shake the dust off his feet, lest he bring pagan contamination to the Holy Land.
It's easy to understand. But what's radical about Jesus' directive here is he's sending his people, not into Gentile countries or to the pagan communities, but to the Jewish villages in town, preaching the gospel, the gospel of the kingdom of God. And he says to his apostles here, if you come to a village and they do not receive you, if they reject you before you leave, shake the dust off your feet, which would be a testimony to their paganism.
Now, if we follow up on this, we see a scary concept that is found throughout Scripture from Genesis to the book of Revelation. And that's this, that God and His patience and longsuffering will not last forever. And we have a tendency to postpone our repentance and say, I will be committed to God tomorrow. I will change my ways tomorrow. I will give my life to Christ tomorrow. But not yet, like the young Augustine's prayer in the ancient world where Augustine prayed to God, oh God, change me and make me righteous.
But not yet. He was taking advantage of God's patience and longsuffering. But the Bible warns us that God's patience does not endure forever.
There is a limit to it. And there may come a time in a person's life where it's too late. Now, before I say anything more about that, let me say I know at least five or six people personally who came to Christ on their deathbeds. They repented of their sins and came to Jesus in their dying moments. And I believe that such deathbed repentances can be genuine, authentic, and that many people have been converted in their waning deaths. You know, the Holy Spirit came like a dove, but never like a moth.
Some of my friends think that this thing has escaped from my wallet. And so we say, well, it's never really too late. Well, two things I want to say about that. Well, after you die, it's too late. You can have 150 masses said for you after you're dead, but the Bible tells us it's appointed for man once to die and then the judgment. After you die, it's too late. So if you're going to postpone your repentance, make sure that you don't postpone it until after you die because then it's too late. But here's the scary thing.
In some instances, friends, it may be too late before you die. Let's go for a second back to the Old Testament, to the book of Genesis. The familiar story there, the story of the flood, the flood that wiped out the whole world except for the family of Noah. That this comment that God makes right before the flood in Genesis chapter 6, when he saw that the earth was completely corrupt. In verse 3 of chapter 6, God said, and the Lord said, My spirit will not strive with man forever.
For the earth at that time, the end of God's patience had come and he destroyed the whole creation except for the family of Noah. We go all the way to the end of the New Testament, to the book of the Revelation, where Jesus announces that in the judgment, all who are wicked, let them be wicked still. Let all who are immoral, let them be immoral still.
Now what does that mean? There's a point, we see this here in Genesis and in Revelation and all through the Old Testament prophets, that there comes a time when God gives impenitent sinners over to their sin. Let us please not tempt the Lord in His grace and in His patience. I mean, there are people in this room who've heard the gospel time after time after time after time, and every time they hear it, their necks become more stiff, greater calluses come on their soul, their hearts are hardened and become like stone.
You cannot hear the gospel and be neutral to it. If you receive it, you enter into heaven forever. If you reject it, you've hardened your heart, and you are heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. And even in this life, God may give you up, may give you over, which is poetic justice. He's saying, you don't want me? Okay, you don't have to have me. You love your sin more than you love me? Go ahead, take your sin. Let him who is wicked be wicked still. You love your immorality, you love your adultery, and you don't love me? Fine, take your adultery, but you can't have me and the adultery. So, I plead with you today, do not ever expose yourself to the point where the Lord God Almighty will shake your dust from His feet.
That is a sober warning, one that should cause us to stop and consider. We're grateful that you've joined us today for Renewing Your Mind. If this is the first time you've tuned in, our teacher, Dr. R.C. Sproul, has been leading us through a study of Luke. Each Sunday, he examines the historical and theological context of each verse. Let me recommend that you request our resource offer today. It's a digital download of Dr. Sproul's expositional commentary of Luke, nearly 600 pages of easy-to-read insight that will help you in your own study. You can request it today with a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. Our offices are closed today, but you can give your gift and make your request online at renewingyourmind.org. Let me also encourage you to take advantage of Ligonier Ministries' interactive question-and-answer service, where questions about the basics of Christianity can be answered in real time when you go to ask.ligonier.org.
For example, perhaps you've heard that Jesus is one person who possesses two natures, and you're wondering how that can be and why it's important. That's the kind of question that my colleagues here are well equipped to address. I'll also provide you with additional resources for study. They're available 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. That web address again is ask.ligonier.org. We're glad you've joined us today. I hope you'll return next week as we continue Dr. Sproul's verse-by-verse series from The Gospel of Luke, here on Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
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