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The Messengers of the King B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 19, 2022 4:00 am

The Messengers of the King B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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July 19, 2022 4:00 am

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They were chosen to be trained, and in their training they had to overcome a lack of spiritual understanding through instruction, a lack of humility through example, a lack of faith through wondrous miracles, a lack of commitment through prayer, and a lack of power through the agency of the Spirit of God in their lives.

And the lesson for us is the same. When you disciple somebody, you're going to have the same problems with the same remedy. Maybe you haven't thought of the 12 disciples as common people.

In fact, maybe you think of them as hand-picked spiritual giants. But the fact is, the disciples weren't that much different from you and me, and that should encourage you, especially if you believe you're lacking certain skills and can't be used by God. John MacArthur is showing you that God can use you, no matter your weaknesses. In his current study here on Grace to You, he calls it simply enough the Master's Men. As you examine these men closely, you'll see their rough spiritual edges and how Jesus smoothed them out and how he can do the same for you.

Here's John with a lesson. With great joy, we come to the 10th chapter of Matthew. This chapter is marked in the first verse by the calling and the commissioning of the disciples. And chapter 10 is the record of their initial sending to assist in warning men of the inevitable harvest of judgment. There were basically four phases in Christ's training of the Twelve, and I'm just going to give you these briefly. Number one was their salvation, or their conversion.

And that is the initial calling. They were called to believe. They were called to Christ in a conversion sense.

But then after that, they went back to their jobs, back to their secular employment, back to their homes, and there came a second phase. This is their calling, if you will, into ministry. Now there is a third phase of their training, of their calling.

First to conversion, then to ministry. Thirdly, they are to be sent out, and that's where we come in verse 1 of chapter 10. And then there was a fourth phase of the training of the Twelve, and that was after the resurrection and after the ascension. When Christ went back into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit came into them, and they then scattered and went into all the world, discipling the nations, and that was the final sending of the Twelve. In the process of training them, phase two and phase three, Jesus was basically overcoming five manifest problems that they had, and I want to talk about those. Number one, they lacked spiritual understanding.

Now that's pretty tough to start with, right? You're going to work the Twelve guys into evangelizing the whole world, only they have one basic problem, they do not understand spiritual truth. Oh man, lack of understanding, and that's part of the discipleship process, you have to overcome that. How did Jesus deal with that?

Simply by teaching, teaching, teaching, teaching, teaching. Now they had a second problem, lack of humility. They were a proud, jealous, envious bunch. I can just see the Lord walking down the road and they're walking behind Him, elbowing each other and pushing and shoving. They say, well what makes you think those are the Twelve Apostles?

You shouldn't talk about them like that. Well, we'll let the Lord talk about them, Mark 9, verse 33. They came to Capernaum, and being in the house, He asked them this, what was it that you argued among yourselves about along the way? What were you guys fighting about behind Me? See, all the while He's going along, He knows they're fighting back here.

What was going on? And they held their peace, they just got real sheepish and clammed up. Because they'd been arguing among themselves, get this, who would be the greatest?

Nice guys, huh? Real selfless, humble souls. All the time our dear Lord is walking along, they're back fighting about who is going to be the greatest. And He sat them down and He brought a little child and He gave them a lesson on humility.

Oof, what a rebuke. Look at Matthew 20. Now the argument got really hot about who'd be the greatest, and James and John had enough gall to get their mother into the deal. And so in Matthew 20, verse 20, then came to Him Mrs. Zebedee, and she's got her sons. And of course, they worshiped Him first because you always do that when you want something. And He said unto her, what do you want? She said unto Him, grant that these, my two sons, may sit, the one on Thy right hand and the other on the left in Thy kingdom. Well I'll tell you folks, that is really brash. I mean, they wanted it so bad that they didn't have the courage to ask and they got their mother to do it and they stood there standing beside their mother while she asked that ridiculously selfish thing. Jesus answered and said, do you know not what you asked? But that was typical, they didn't know what they heard, so why would they know what they asked? He says, are you able to drink the cup that I shall drink and be baptized with the baptism that I'm baptized with?

And they said unto Him, what? We are able? Of course. Of course, we can handle anything.

Of course we can. He said unto them, all right, then you'll drink the cup that I'll drink and you'll be baptized with the baptism that I'm baptized with but you'll never sit on My right hand or My left. And what He was talking about was martyrdom, persecution. In the case of James, martyrdom. In the case of John, persecution and exile. You're going to go through the pain and the suffering and the anguish, you're just not going to get the right and left seats because they're not mine to give. And then verse 24, when the other ten heard about this, they were furious.

Why? Because they wouldn't stand for such pride? No, because they went in front of the other ten. They were mad that James and John were going to get those places.

Not them. Their indignation wasn't righteous, it was selfish. And He says to them, boy, you guys are all fouled up about what it means to be a leader. Verse 27, whoever would be chief among you, let him be your what? Your servant.

You got it all wrong. And so He had to teach them. And then He used Himself as example.

Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and give His life a ransom for many. Now, He had to deal with their lack of humility. How did He deal with it?

I believe He dealt with it by giving them a demonstration of His own humility. He likened Himself to a little child in Mark 9. He likened Himself here to a servant. In John 13 He washed their feet and then He said, you should do in your love to one another as I have done to you, right?

A new commandment, love one another as I have loved you. In other words, He overcame their lack of understanding by instruction. He overcame their lack of humility by example.

He used an example of His own life as a teaching tool. They had a third problem. They had a lack of faith, which is fairly severe if you're going to be in the ministry if you don't believe God. They had a lack of faith. Over and over and over again, in fact, probably the most common phrase He ever said to them was this, O ye of...what?...little faith.

He would do so many things and still they didn't see. In fact, in Mark 4.40 He says to them, how is it that you have no faith? How can it be that after all of this you still don't believe? How can it be?

How can it be? At the end of Mark's gospel in chapter 16, the 14th verse, it says He rebuked them because of their unbelief and hardness of heart because they believed not those who had seen Him after He had risen. They didn't even believe reports of the resurrection.

Now what a bunch to work with. And how do you ever transform them into those who can change the world? Boy, how did He deal with their unbelief? By miracles, by mighty deeds, showing them His power over and over. In fact, the miracles, I'll be very honest with you, I believe in my heart that He did the miracles primarily for the disciples, not for the crowds.

They were secondary. The disciples needed to be sure and absolute and confident. They needed to know the resurrection really happened. He appeared to them and He appeared to them again and He let them touch Him and feel Him and see Him.

They had to know and He showed Himself, Acts 1, by many infallible proofs. So He overcame their lack of understanding with teaching. He overcame their lack of humility with example. He overcame their lack of faith by miracles and mighty deeds.

All of this was part of the teaching process. They had a fourth problem, lack of commitment, lack of commitment. They would say, we will never forsake you. Why, everyone may forsake you. Says Peter, I'll never forsake you.

I would never deny you. Oh, they really talked it up. But when it came down to the crisis of that terrible hour when Christ needed them the most, they were gone. And Peter was denying and Judas was betraying and the other ten just split, got out of there. They couldn't handle it. They were gone.

They talked a good game. In Luke 5, 11, you know what it says? When He called His disciples, they forsook all.

Isn't that interesting? When He called them, they forsook all. In Mark 14, 50 it says, they all forsook. They took off. They deserted Christ when they saw the swords and the staves and the lanterns and the Romans. When they started to smell death, they got out. Oh yeah, they thought they'd be okay, but they weren't. How did Jesus deal with that?

How did He deal with that? Luke 22, 31, I just love this. Peter is the issue, his denial. The Lord says, Simon, Simon, calls him by his old name because he was acting like his old self. Simon, Simon, listen to this. Behold, Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you like wheat. He wants to test you, Peter, and you're going to flee and you're going to deny Me. But here's the remedy. I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.

You can stop right there. How did Jesus deal with their lack of commitment? He dealt with it through prayer.

I've tried to disciple men in my life, men with a lack of understanding, and tried to work with that by teaching them. Men with a lack of humility and tried to work with that by trying to demonstrate the right spirit. Men with a lack of faith and tried to overcome that by showing them dramatically the power of God.

And men with a lack of commitment and tried to deal with that through praying for them. Fifth problem they had was a lack of power. They were impotent. They had a lack of power.

They were weak and helpless. For an illustration of that, and there are many, but for one would be Matthew 17. They were come to the multitude. There came to Him a certain man kneeling down and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son. He's epileptic and greatly vexed and he falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples and they could not cure him. Now they've been out trying to do their thing and they're doing all emotions but nothing happens. Jesus said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?

How long shall I bear with you? Who do you think He was talking to? Well, some people think He was talking to the whole crowd. Some people think He was talking to the Twelve. Oh, you guys, how long do I have to put up with this?

Bring Him here. Jesus rebuked the demon, departed out of him and the child was cured from that very hour. And then came the disciples to Jesus privately and said, Why couldn't we do that?

And Jesus said, Because of your what? Unbelief. If you had faith of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain and you ought to know that things like this only happened through prayer and fasting. Great faith, intense prayer. They were impotent. They didn't have power.

How do you deal with that? I believe He dealt with that in one marvelous way. In John 20 He says, He breathed on them and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit. And in Acts 1, 8 it says, And when the Holy Spirit is come, you shall receive power.

Listen, very simple. The disciples were chosen sovereignly by God to be the associates of Christ to found the church. They were chosen through prayer. They were chosen to be trained and in their training they had to overcome a lack of spiritual understanding through instruction, a lack of humility through example, a lack of faith through wondrous miracles, a lack of commitment through prayer, and a lack of power through the agency of the Spirit of God in their lives. And the lesson for us is the same. When you disciple somebody, you're going to have the same problems with the same remedies.

What a bunch. But as one writer says, In them He saw hidden weakness and incipient strength. There was an abundance of chaff with the scanty grains of wheat which would need much winnowing but He was equal to the task. The germs of promise were there and in time would yield the perfect fruit.

He believed in the men He had chosen and what was more, He had absolute confidence in His own power to make them what He wanted them to be. There's hope for us. Boy, I identify with those twelve, don't you? I'm so glad God could use me.

I'm so glad that I can find others and invest my life in them. And they accomplished the task. Yeah, He transformed them.

He really did. And you know, when they looked at them in Acts 4, 13, all of the hotshots in Jerusalem looked at them and said, These are ignorant and unlearned men. How is it that they have accomplished this? They have literally filled Jerusalem with their doctrine and they're uneducated. In fact, they're ignoramuses and they're unskilled. But it says this, they took note of them...I love this...that they had been with Jesus.

Isn't that good? How did they know that? How did they know they'd been with Jesus?

I'll tell you how they knew. They did the same things Jesus did. They said the same thing Jesus said. They loved the same way Jesus loved. Finally, the job was done and they went out as living mirrors to reflect Christ. And that's why they finally wound up calling them Christians, which means what? Little Christs. And it's all bound up in Luke 6, 40.

Listen to it. A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone after he has been fully trained will be like his teacher. Isn't that great? Jesus trained them in three years and when they went out, they were like their teacher. They graduated. I think graduation day is in John 15 when Jesus said, I will no longer call you servants, I will now call you...what?

Friends. That was graduation day. They had graduated. That night in the upper room, before his death, he gave them their certificates.

They had graduated. Think of it. Think of it. What they learned in being with Christ literally transformed their life and as a result transformed the world. Can you imagine walking every day with Jesus? Can you imagine hearing his matchless wisdom, everything he ever said was perfectly wise and absolutely true? Can you imagine being with someone who never lost his temper, never got angry, but was only righteously indignant over things that took glory from God? Can you imagine being with someone who cared absolutely nothing for himself but always gave himself to everybody else? Being with someone who was totally consumed with literally wearing himself out with fatigue to do the will and the work of another person? Can you imagine being with someone who could love anybody and everybody?

Someone who could raise the dead and heal the sick and give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf? Well, it had an effect on them. And you don't get that kind of training by sitting in a classroom. You get it by walking around with a godly man. That's the process of discipleship. They were with Him. They were with Him, it says. The Twelve were ordained, according to Mark 3.14, that they should be with Him. That's the process. They were with Him and they became like Him.

That's how discipleship works. And it worked in their case. They changed the world.

May I add a final point? They were chosen sovereignly. They were chosen after a night of prayer. They were chosen to be trained. And finally, they were chosen to be sent. And that's why you have in verse 1 of chapter 10, disciples being trained.

And in verse 2, apostles, the names of the Twelve apostles. They were chosen to be sent, apastelo. Stelo means to dispatch, apa, away from, to dispatch away from.

In classical Greek, the word is used almost entirely of a naval expedition sent to a foreign city or a foreign country. In other words, somebody sent a foreign service. All right, you have been trained, now you're going to be sent. They became sent ones.

That's what apastelos means, a sent one. Beloved, it's not enough to be saved. It's not enough to be called to serve Christ.

It's not enough to be trained. It's only enough, when all of that's done, to go. And that is exactly why in Matthew it tells us that we are to go into all the world and make disciples. We have been made disciples in order to make disciples. The Lord made twelve marvelous individuals with one exception, filled in the ranks later. And in Matthew 19, 28, He says there's twelve thrones for those. They're going to be elevated throughout all eternity.

The process was completed in their lives and we're to be in that same process. Are you being discipled? Are you learning with a view to going?

Are you discipling? Are you training someone with a view to sending them to reach others, whether here or around the world? You see, training and sending are two sides of the same coin. Discipleship and apostleship go together. Phase one, follow me.

Phase two, leave and carry the message. So as we come to chapter 10, they begin with their first short-term mission assignment, learning by doing. They're going to go out and they're going to run into all kinds of problems. They're going to come back and when they come back, they're going to spend many more months with Jesus and He's going to teach them off of that experience. And finally, phase four, the final phase, will come when the Spirit enters them and fills them and they go to baptize and to teach all nations.

What a marvelous pattern. That's their initiation. The second thing, and I'm just going to mention it, is their impact. When they went, they had an impact. It says in verse 1, they had authority, or exousia, which means the right to have power over unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

Why? Because that would demonstrate they were from Christ, because they were doing the very same things He did. And you can follow them all the way through the book of Acts.

And what are they doing? Casting out demons and healing the sick. They had an impact. They did the same thing Jesus did. Jesus cast out demons. Jesus healed the sick. They manifested the same kingdom kind of power that Jesus manifested. And so they were inseparably linked with Christ and they had a tremendous impact. They turned Jerusalem upside down and then they turned the world upside down and everywhere they went, there was a riot.

People were converted because of their impact. Let's pray. Father, thank You for showing us how Jesus discipled men, things He was able to overcome in His power and how He did it. May we learn from this. May we see ourselves in the process of being learners, mathetes, yet to become apostles, apostolos, being trained to go, to be sent.

Oh, not in some official way, not in some manner as those special 12 for whom are reserved the 12 thrones, but nonetheless to be sent. Train us, Lord, and help us to train others. Send us and help us to send others that the work may go on which You began. May we disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Lord Jesus and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He commanded them, bringing them to maturity and then sending them. We pray, Father, for those who perhaps have been converted. They've been called to Christ. They've come to the second point of being called to serve.

Perhaps they're resisting the training or perhaps having been trained, they're resisting the final sending. Lord, speak to each of us wherever we are, maybe some, Lord, who have not yet even come the first time to follow Jesus in faith. Wherever we are, Lord, draw us to yourself. Do your perfect work in each heart in Christ's name. Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John is a pastor, author, and chancellor of the Master's University and Seminary, and today's lesson is part of his study, The Master's Men. John, the thrust of today's lesson was kind of negative. It's all about the character flaws in the 12 disciples, you know, their lack of faith, their lack of commitment, and things like that. So does it surprise you that Scripture uncovers so many weaknesses, even in the heroes of the faith, that the Bible is so candid and so detailed about the flaws of people who are considered the best of the best? Well, of course, you have to understand the Bible is the Word of God. It is divinely inspired by God, so it's going to be honest about everything.

It's going to be true about everything. And the truest thing about all of us is our sinfulness and our frailty and our weakness and our failures. God uses weak people because those are the only kind there are. We talk about heroes of the faith, but there really are no heroic people in the sense that some people, by some innate human capability, catapult themselves at a higher level spiritually. You know, we're all subject to the same flaws, and I take the words of the Apostle Paul as the evidence of that. Who would argue that Paul is not the greatest Christian in the New Testament era?

We would all affirm that he is, based on the revelation of God that he received and wrote. And yet it was Paul who said, I'm a wretched man. I don't do what I want to do. I do what I don't want to do. And the wretchedness was like having a corpse attached to his own flesh.

So this is reality. And the good news is the Lord not only saves weak and sinful people, but he sanctifies weak and sinful people, and he lifts them up and elevates them. I want to mention a brand new book along this line titled 40 Lives in 40 Days. I know that's an interesting title, and it's exactly what it says, 40 Lives in 40 Days, subtitled Experiencing God's Grace Through the Bible's Most Compelling Characters. This book will give you insight into the lives of not only the disciples, but about 30 more key figures in Scripture whose lives are worth learning from and in most cases worth emulating. And Scripture is filled with their stories, the stories of men and women who accomplished great things under the power of God.

And the common thread running through their testimonies is their faith. As you study their lives, their testimonies encourage you to respond to trials with trusting resolve and fight against temptation with an uncompromising faithfulness. So it's a brand new hardcover book, 220 pages, 40 Lives in 40 Days, affordably priced, and you can order it from grace to you today.

Yes, and do order it, friend. If you are struggling with discouragement, read this book. It's a refreshing look at how God forgives his children, looks past their weaknesses, and empowers them for his glory. To order John's new devotional called 40 Lives in 40 Days, contact us today.

You can call 800-55-GRACE and one of our customer service representatives will be glad to help you, or you can shop online at 40 Lives in 40 Days will show you what you can learn from both the triumphs of these biblical characters and their failures. To pick up your copy, call 800-55-GRACE or go to When you visit, you will find numerous ways to take in John MacArthur's verse-by-verse teaching. You can listen to radio broadcasts that you might have missed, or you can search John's entire sermon archive by book of the Bible, by specific verse or topic. That's more than 3,500 sermons, and all of them are free to download to your smartphone or tablet. And if you're not sure what to listen to first, a great option is GraceStream. That's a continuous broadcast of John's teaching through the New Testament. We begin in Matthew and end at the end of Revelation and then start it all over again, about every two months.

Our web address again, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Be here at the same time tomorrow when John looks at what you can learn from the disciple who probably said and did more wrong things than all the rest of Jesus' followers. That would be Peter. Join us for another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 15:30:15 / 2023-03-22 15:40:57 / 11

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