We'll be right back. that nowadays, tolerance has less to do with recognizing the right of another to disagree with us, and more to do with not saying others are wrong. What should you think of this postmodern kind of tolerance? As a Christian, how tolerant should you be of someone who says he worships Jesus Christ, yet denies foundational gospel truth? What can you learn from Jesus' own interactions with false teachers? Find out today on Grace To You as John MacArthur continues the series he began last week titled, How To Talk To A Heretic. John's text for this series is Luke chapter 20. And if you have your Bible handy, turn there as John begins the lesson. JOHN MACARTHUR...Luke chapter 20 is our text, Luke chapter 20. We're going to look at this text and find fascinating revelation of the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ here. And the setting, you wouldn't think, would produce that result since it is an assault by enemies who want Him dead.
But in the end, as always, He comes out gloriously triumphant. As we come to the text, then let's begin with the approach of Sadducees, the approach of Sadducees in verse 27. Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees. They approached Jesus. The Pharisees have come after Him, the Herodians have come after Him and now it is the Sadducees' turn. They were furious at Him for what He had just done a matter of hours before this event in cleansing the temple.
Now let me just give you a little more background about them. Religiously they interpreted Mosaic Law more literally than any others and were fastidious beyond all others in the matters of Levitical purity. They denied any future life of blessing or reward at all. They apparently affirmed the absolute priority of Moses and they said, all other books in the Old Testament are merely commentaries on those five books and since nowhere in those five books is resurrection mentioned, therefore resurrection is not a part of the pure faith and any other attempt to talk of resurrection is an aberration, even by another Bible writer. They became mockers of the resurrection. They made a joke out of resurrection. And one of the things that was bizarre and irrational about resurrection to them was, what if somebody had married multiple times in this life, in the next life, if you're going to come back in the same clothes, in the same form, with the same defects and in the same relationships, who's going to be your husband and wife? And apparently this question had never been sufficiently answered because when it comes their turn to throw a question at the master rabbi, this is their best shot. So we see the approach of the Sadducees. Secondly, the absurdity of resurrection.
They make it look like an absurdity. They questioned him saying, verse 28, teacher...that was a very honorable thing to call him, reserved for the most notable of rabbis...teacher. They are now raising the bar, as it were, by acknowledging him in this honorable way. They expect him to give a wise answer. Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies having a wife and he is childless, his brother should take the wife and raise up offspring to his brother. They bring up Moses, of course. They bring up the Pentateuch, of course.
They bring up Deuteronomy 25. This is what it says, verse 5, when brothers live together, one of them dies and has no son. The wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man.
There's several brothers. One of them gets married. He dies before he can raise up a child to propagate the family. She's not to marry a stranger. Her husband's brother shall go in to her, take her to himself as wife, marry her, perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.
That was a way of protecting and preserving the nation and the identity of the peoples and the places that God had designed. So the Sadducees know the Pentateuch and they know that Law as do all the Jews. So they bring it up.
And then they come up with their absurdity. Here it is. Now verse 29, there were seven brothers and the first took a wife and died childless and the second and the third took her. And in the same way, all seven died leaving no children. Wow! This is a dangerous lady. I think if I'm brother number four, I'm getting out of town. Certainly if I'm brother five, six and seven, I'm nowhere to be found. This woman is fatal.
Wow! Seven brothers marry this woman and they all die. And then verse 32, mercifully finally the woman died also.
What a gift that is. No telling how many lives were saved by that. And so they make this kind of bizarre situation and then they say, in the resurrection therefore, which one's wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife. You can see the smirk on their face. How many times had they posed that question before? How many jokes had they made out of the absurdity of resurrection using this kind of illustration or analogy? The Pharisees were the ones who said, the next life will be just like this life, same features, same clothes, same weakness of strength, same relationships. So they present the absurdity of resurrection.
It is a joke to them in the way that it was understood that time. So from the approach to the absurdity, to finally the answer of Scripture...the answer of Scripture. Matthew 22, which is the parallel passage giving the same account, adds this, Matthew 22, 29, Jesus answered and said to them...listen to this...you are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures or the power of God.
Wow! If you think it was painful for Him to go in with a whip and clean out their business, how painful was it for them to take that shot at their theology? They prided themselves at being interpreters of Scripture. You are mistaken from the verb planao, meaning to cause to wander, to lead astray, means you have caused yourselves to wander. You have led yourselves astray. You are cut loose from the truth and from reality.
You don't get it. Why? Because you do not understand the Scriptures.
What an indictment that is. I'll tell you, folks, I could camp on that. We're not even in Matthew so I can't do it, but I could camp on that, not understanding the Scriptures and talk for a long time on the implications of not understanding the Scriptures. But the bottom line is, you don't get anything right. Interpreting the Scripture accurately is the source of all true understanding. Not understanding the Scriptures, you couldn't have said anything more painful for them to hear than that. You are ignorant, interpret as a Scripture. You've gotten it wrong. You have misled yourselves. You have wandered from the truth. You do not understand the Scriptures.
And that could describe every false teacher ever. They prided themselves on the knowledge of the Scripture, they didn't have it. And then you do not understand the Scriptures, he says, nor the power of God. Had they known the Scriptures, had they really known the Scriptures, they would have known that God promises resurrection. Had they known the power of God, they would have understood that God can raise people in a state where all their supposed absurdities are absent.
They were spiritually blind. And so he's going to tell them the truth. Verse 34, Jesus said to them, the sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. Sons of this age, that's a Hebraism for people living in this world, us, temporal humans.
What is Jesus saying? The matter of marriage, sex, reproduction, childbirth and everything accompanying it is for this life, not the next. It's for this life, not the next. There is for this age marrying and giving in marriage.
That is a part of this age. Verse 35, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age, not this age, that age, that is eternal life in the presence of God and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage. There's not going to be any marriage there, not going to be any families there.
Why? Verse 36 ought to make it obvious, for neither can they die anymore. Nobody's going to die, nobody has to be replaced. You don't need to propagate because nobody's going to die. Here they're like angels. The angels were all created at one time, they don't procreate and they don't die.
Their number is fixed. There's no need for marriage because there's no need for propagation. There's no need for replacement.
There's no need for continuity in the race. And so He says, you don't understand the Scripture. You don't understand the power of God. Marriage is for this age, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage. Notice that little phrase in verse 35, who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection of the dead. That poses the question, why does He say that? I think it's a warning. I think it's a direct warning to the Sadducees. In effect, it's saying to them, implying to them, you obviously aren't worthy to attain to this since you don't even believe in this.
It's a warning. You don't even believe in angels, sons of God, sons of the resurrection, that age to come, the resurrection from the dead. You reject all of that.
Obviously you're not worthy. On the other hand, how would one be considered worthy to enter heaven? How is one considered worthy to become a son of God, a son of resurrection? Answer by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear about that.
We don't have any worthiness of ourselves. All our righteousness is filthy rags. The Old Testament was clear on that. Isaiah said that. Worthiness is because we are granted the merit of Christ.
We're granted the righteousness of God through faith in Christ by sovereign grace. But I think Jesus is saying to them, those who are worthy to attain to that age, implying obviously you're not, not at this point. And the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage. Forget that idea. Your question is absurd because there's no marriage at all in heaven.
Why? Verse 36, because people don't die anymore. They are equal to angels. They are sons of God.
What does that mean? They take on God's life, God's life, which is not sexual. They take on God's life, which is an eternal life. They become sons of the resurrection. Whenever you see in the Bible, son of, sons of this age, sons of God, sons of the resurrection, you'll see that repeated throughout the gospels.
It's simply a way to identify the essential nature or essential defining quality of something. If you're a son of Belial, the essential quality is satanic. If you're a son of God, the essential essence of life is divine. If you're a son of the resurrection, you possess resurrection life. That's the defining reality. If you're a son of this age, humanity is your defining reality. If you're a son of the age to come, eternality is the defining reality. And so He says, those who come to the age of resurrection will take on the character of angels who do not procreate, do not have those kinds of relationships, take on the character of sons of God, that is they will be the possessors of the pure, fulfilling life of God and they will take on the character of resurrection, newness of life. Marriage is not necessary.
Marriage does not define any aspect of life in the age to come. So Jesus straightens them out. Marriage is not for resurrection.
Let's get that right. That eliminates the need for your question. But that's not the main answer. The main answer comes in verse 37 and it is a powerful answer. Listen to this, but that the dead are raised...in other words, let's get back to the point. Forget the marriage thing, we settled that. But that the dead are raised, which is the big issue here, you say they're not, even Moses showed.
Wow! Now He's coming at them in their own zone, right? In their own zone because that's the issue. It's not in Moses, it can't be so. So He says, even Moses showed in literally in the bush, in the text about the bush, the passage about the bush, the burning bush, Exodus 3. What? In Exodus 3 Moses showed the truth of resurrection.
How did he do that? Because it was there where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Well, what does that mean? Well I think the important thing for you to know is that when in Exodus 3.6 God said, listen to this, here's a quote, I am the God of Abraham, I am the God of Isaac, I am the God of Jacob, He did not say I was the God of Abraham, I was the God of Isaac, I was the God of Jacob. I am...I am and therefore they are.
Follow that? A little bit of a careful exegesis of verb tenses. He doesn't say I was their God, He says I am their God. I am and they are, not I was and they were. In Genesis 26, 24 and Genesis 28, 13, God calls Himself the God of Abraham and Abraham is dead. In Exodus 3, 6, 15, 16, again in chapter 4, God calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all three are dead. So is God the God of dead people? Verse 38, now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living for all live to Him. From our perspective they're dead.
From His perspective they're...what?...they're alive. They all live to Him. The God who says I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob isn't establishing His glory on the basis that He's worshiped by corpses.
That wouldn't bring Him any honor. Notice that each is singled out individually, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, emphasizing the personal reality of each. Each is alive to God in God's presence, in relationship to God, though dead from a worldly view. No, He is not the God of the dead, but of the living for all live to Him. To God all who are His are alive and in union with Him in His presence, just as the Old Testament says. Death does not end one's existence. There is another life, an afterlife, a resurrection life for those who belong to God in His presence. I am, said Jesus in John 11, the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.
We will live forever and if we belong to Christ, we will live forever in the presence of Christ and in the presence of God. This is devastating stuff. They're just done in. Vanquish would be a good word. Crushed. They gave Him their best argument.
Their most tried and tested absurdity. And He dismantled them by telling them they didn't understand the Scripture or the power of God. He dismantled false views of resurrection held by their opponents that you're going to be married in the resurrection and the life there is going to be very much like life here. And then He really struck the final blow when He proved to them that Moses affirmed in his writing, and not just Moses, but God Himself in the record which Moses wrote that He is the God of the living. And that leads us to the last point, the astonishment of the crowd, the astonishment of the scribes and I guess you could say the astonishment of the Sadducees. Some of the scribes answered and said, teacher, you've spoken well. Scribes were the legal experts. They were the theologians.
They were the ones who thought most carefully and deeply about Scripture. They were wowed. They were floored.
This is an understatement, you have spoken well. Matthew 22 33 says, the multitudes heard and were astonished. The word astonished, and it could be a number of words in the Greek, but the one that's used in Matthew 22 33 is ekkleso, and one lexicon I think gives it a good spin. This is what it essentially means, to strike out of one's wits. It's kind of an old English approach. We would say this, to blow their minds.
That's exactly what it means. He blew their minds. They were just astonished at the teaching of Jesus, astonished, amazed, astounded, marveling. And the Sadducees, they were done. As far as Luke's gospel is concerned, that's the last question anybody asks. That's the last bit of an encounter with the leaders. He had been confronted by the hate-filled religious leaders who wanted to discredit Him.
Each has his own style and approach. He is unaffected by their paltry assaults. He only manifests greater glory, produces greater wonder, greater astonishment. And Luke says, that was it.
They didn't have courage to come and question Him any longer about anything. What do we draw out of this text? The wonder of Christ, right?
Staggering. Here's what I see, the majestic wisdom of Jesus. His wisdom allowed Him to control every conversation, every discussion, supernatural wisdom, evident. Second thing I see is devotion to Scripture, rightly interpreted. And third thing, the affirmation of the promise of resurrection. So the enemies of Jesus, the Sadducees, give Him an opportunity to demonstrate His supernatural wisdom, His relentless devotion to the Scripture and His affirmation of the promise of resurrection.
And so this passage which is a defeat for His enemies is a triumph for His friends, right? While they're stunned into cold, stone-hard silence, we come away rejoicing because our Lord is infinitely wise. Our Lord is committed to a true and accurate interpretation of Scripture and its application and our Lord affirms with His own lips the promises of the Bible concerning resurrection. We live then in that hope affirmed by the words of our Savior Himself in this great encounter. This is Grace To You with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. Today John showed you how Jesus dealt with false teachers. It's a model to keep in mind when you encounter someone who's deliberately teaching or simply caught up in doctrinal error. The title of John's current study, How to Talk to a Heretic, and along with teaching each day on this radio station, John also serves as Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. John, at the beginning of your lesson, you looked at whether there are marriage relationships in heaven. We received a similar question on our Q&A line, and I think it's one that a lot of people have, so let me play it now and then you respond.
My name is Lorna. I'm calling from Washington, D.C., and I would like to know whether or not we would recognize our husbands in heaven. I was having a discussion with my husband and he feels that he will know me, so I told him that we'll recognize each other, but maybe not as husband and wife with the feeling because our full attention will be on God.
So I would like to have an answer to that, please, if possible, or anything close. Thank you. God bless. Well, Lorna, you're exactly right. You know, I remind my wife that she better be nice to me in this world because she won't have an opportunity to do it in the next. We won't have this relationship again. Yeah, you'll know as you're known, so we'll all know each other, but it will not be in the context of marriage. That doesn't exist in heaven.
Jesus said that. There's neither marrying or giving in marriage in heaven, but like the angels. The angels don't marry, and so that's what heaven's going to be like.
We'll have relationships, fulfilling relationships, relationships that are everything that all relationships should be at the highest level of divine perfection, but not marriage. But will you know people? Of course you'll know people. There's plenty of biblical evidence that people who are gone are recognizable. I think about the Transfiguration.
Peter, James, and John knew exactly who they were talking to on the Mount of Transfiguration, so you're going to know people. You're going to know your husband, and you're going to love your husband more than you've ever loved him, but you're going to love everybody the same as well. So the glory of heaven is different than this earth, and aren't we grateful for that? If you'd like some more information about heaven, and you ought to have all you can get because you're going to spend forever there.
You might as well understand what's coming. We have a book called The Glory of Heaven, and it asks questions and answers them. What is heaven like? What are we going to do in heaven? What is the role the angels play in heaven? And what about serving in heaven?
What kind of service would we do there? And also, will we recognize people we knew in this life, in the next life? And all of those questions and a lot more are answered in the book The Glory of Heaven. We have them available if you'd like to order one. You can let us know.
Right. And, friend, there's no need to be confused about heaven. John's book, The Glory of Heaven, will give you a rich, detailed, biblical picture of what the future holds if you're a believer. To pick up this book for yourself, or for a loved one, contact us today. To order by phone, dial toll-free 800-55-GRACE, or you can also get a copy at our website, gty.org.
The Glory of Heaven comes in both English and Spanish. Again, to order a copy of this book for yourself or one to put in a friend's hands, go to gty.org, or call 800-55-GRACE. And when you get in touch, make sure you let us know how John's teaching has strengthened your trust in God's Word.
If you've been encouraged to tell others about Christ, or if someone you know has come to faith in Christ after hearing one of John's messages, we'd love to hear that story. Email us here at letters at gty.org. Once more, that's letters at gty.org. Or you can write to us by regular mail. Send your letter to GRACE2U, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, with a question for you. What do you say to someone who denies the deity of Christ? John tackles that vital issue tomorrow when he continues his look at how to talk to a heretic with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's proof, one verse at a time, on GRACE2U.
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