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God’s Kingdom Is Not of This World

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2024 4:00 am

God’s Kingdom Is Not of This World

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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April 22, 2024 4:00 am

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Grace To You
John MacArthur
Grace To You
John MacArthur

Peter's sin has been repeated incessantly through church history, where people who declare that they believe the truth about Christ make alliances with Satan. Christians have been trying to use the world to somehow help Jesus build His kingdom, and essentially they have struck deals with the devil. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. A survey of 15,000 churches found that between the years 2000 and 2020, the size of the average congregation dropped from 137 people to 65. Many pastors have tried to reverse that trend by making church more entertaining, for example by using clips from popular movies as sermon illustrations.

Researchers have even put in skate parks and arcades to attract families and young people. But will strategies like those strengthen the church for the work God has established it to do? The challenges for God's people seem more insurmountable today than ever. Make sure you're thinking biblically about these challenges.

John MacArthur's current series can help you do just that. To continue his series called The World vs. the Kingdom of God, here is John MacArthur. Jesus said this in John 18, "'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be delivered over to the Jews. But as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.'" There's no connection between the kingdom of God and the world. We heard the echo still hearing in our ears of the fact that there is a distinction between the flesh and the spirit.

Those in the flesh cannot please God. The flesh, the world, the kingdom of darkness, one and the same. Then Jesus said in Luke 17, "'The kingdom of God is in your midst.'" The kingdom is here, because the King is here. He's here alive in His church. So His kingdom has nothing to do with this world. His kingdom is here separate from the world.

I want to help you to understand that in a very practical way, I hope. To begin with, turn to a familiar and even beloved portion of Scripture, the 16th chapter of Matthew. And I want to begin with an illustration at the expense of our favorite punching bag apostle Peter. In Matthew 16, 13, when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, Some say John the Baptist, and others Elijah, but still others Jeremiah, one of the prophets.

But He said to them, But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Jesus said to him, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.'"

Wow, the highlight of Peter's life. He was a spokesman for God. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. You just spoke for God. Go down to verse 21.

From that time, Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, God forbid it, Lord, this shall never happen to you. He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan. You're a stumbling block to Me, for you're not setting your mind on God's interest but man's. How in the world in one moment can you be a spokesman for God and then a voice for Satan?

When you cross the line from God's interest to man's, I mean, it couldn't be more clear. Get behind Me, Satan. Hupage, go away, Satan. The exact verb He used in Matthew 4, 10, when at the temptation He dismissed the devil himself.

Strong, intense emotion, fierce rebuke. Jesus speaks to Peter as the voice of Satan exactly the same way He spoke to Satan himself. The most devastating rebuke to a disciple, you're in partnership with the devil because you've picked up man's cause.

This is crushing. Peter means stone. You are a rock, and now you are a stumbling stone. You're in the way of God's purposes. You're not setting your mind on God's interests.

Same term that you hear in Colossians 3, set your mind on things above and not on things on the earth. This is the worst rebuke, and for a loving disciple who just hit the high point of his life, the low point must have been completely crushing. The devil's way is to get people who confess the truth caught up in the devil's work, crossing a line from the kingdom of light back into the kingdom of darkness. To get Christians to think that the kingdom of light can advance, listen, without suffering. You don't need to go to the cross. We can get you what you need without the cross.

And he was essentially saying to Jesus exactly what the devil had said, I'll give you all the kingdoms of the world, just bow down to me. Peter's recycling that same temptation. You don't need to die. There's another way.

You don't need to suffer. You can make concessions. You can make compromises with the dark kingdom. Peter's sin has been repeated incessantly through church history, all of church history, where people who declare that they believe the truth about Christ make alliances with Satan. Christians have been trying to use the world, the darkness, the flesh, the spiritually dead to somehow help Jesus build His kingdom.

And essentially, they have struck deals with the devil. Every effort to advance the kingdom by means of a worldly scheme is an attempt to do God's work the devil's way and to avoid, listen carefully, suffering, to avoid rejection, to avoid hostility. That's exactly the temptation that the devil gave and that Peter recycled. Did we forget that we lose our lives for the gospel?

Did we forget that there's no crown without a cross? That's always the devil's temptation. Hey, we'll advance the church by having a very powerful lobby group in Washington, D.C., manipulating politicians. We'll advance the kingdom by cleverly developing some strategies for the church to win over the kingdom of darkness citizens, to pull them in. We'll be very accepting and very tolerant, and we won't talk about sin. We'll devise some very worldly means to make them feel like this is normal life.

This is going to be just like a concert they went to or just like a TED talk they heard. All of it has one thing in mind, to avoid the suffering that comes with the confrontation of the gospel. Turn to 2 Corinthians, chapter 6. This is a death blow to compromise, 2 Corinthians, chapter 6. I'm going to read it, starting in verse 14.

See if this is at all confusing. Do not be bound together with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial or Satan?

Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we're the temple of the living God. Just as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean. And I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty. Then, verse 1, therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

This is the most direct and powerful attack on compromise. Two kingdoms. One is marked by righteousness, light, Christ, believers, and God. The other is marked by lawlessness, darkness, Belial, who is Satan, unbelievers, and idols. There is no possibility of those two coming together in any common cause that has any spiritual or eternal significance.

No possibility, none whatsoever. Now one kingdom is old, another is new. One is earthly, another is heavenly. One is deadly, the other is life-giving. One is material, the other is spiritual.

One is lying, the other is truthful. So the command, go back to verse 14, do not be bound together with unbelievers. You say, does that mean if you're married to an unbeliever, divorce them? No, Paul dealt with that in chapter 7. If you're married to an unbeliever, you stay with them. Well, does that mean that we become monastics and we go live in a cave?

No, no. Paul actually says in this very same letter that he became all things to all men, that he might win some. And Jesus in John 17 prayed to the Father, Father, I don't ask that You take them out of the world, I ask that You keep them from the evil one. They have to be here to fulfill the Great Commission. Don't let them get seduced by Satan. Don't let them get pulled over into the kingdom of darkness.

Don't be bound together. This comes from Deuteronomy 22. This is the most interesting prescription that God gave to Israel.

A very practical one, listen to this. Deuteronomy 22, he's talking about all kinds of laws, agriculture. He's talking about donkeys, and oxen, and clothes. And down in verse 10 he says, "'You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.'"

That's just pretty practical. Try to hook up a donkey and an ox to the same cart? They have two different natures, they have two different gates, two different temperaments.

That's a prohibition. "'You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.'" They can't function together in a common effort, and that is what's behind this statement. You can't bring the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light together in any common cause. You can't pick up the world's causes and link them to the divine cause and mandate of the gospel. All Satan ever wants to do is disrupt the work of God, is that right? Are we unclear about that?

Do you think he wants to help? And Satan wants to disrupt the work of God according to what Scripture says two ways. One, by joining the church by sowing tares among the wheat, Matthew 13.

Two, by seducing the church to join the world. And the people of God are constantly warned against that. Listen to Romans 16, 17, "'I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissension and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. Stay away from divisive people who are doing things that do not fit biblical doctrine.'" Currently turning the church into a battleground by picking up the philosophies of the darkness is a violation of this simple command. The kingdom of light joining the bitter, vengeful, graceless philosophy, godless philosophy spawned out of 300 years ago of God hating, Christ rejecting, anti-family, anti-Christian atheists who were driven by sexual perversion.

Bringing the kingdom of light into any connection to that is unthinkable, unthinkable. But they say people are basically good, and Christianity denies that, and that has to be overturned. People need to know they're good, and they should be able to do anything they want to do.

And it's only the bad people who got into power and made laws against all sexual behavior. Man should be free because basically he's good. Let him do whatever he wants.

Don't restrain him. That's what religion has done. We need to get rid of religion. That's the bottom line difference at the start in the gospel. We say man is basically what? In the kingdom of darkness, man is basically good. Listen to Mark.

This is really indisputable. Verse 18 of chapter 7, are you so lacking in understanding? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him? His problem is not outside because it doesn't go into his heart, but into his stomach and is eliminated.

Thus he declared all foods clean. And he was saying, that which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. The problem is not what somebody did to your ancestors, the problem is you.

It's you. And when Christians give up that point, they cut the gospel off at its very heart. God looked at the earth in Genesis 6 and said, nothing but evil continually. They have a completely different view of humanity in the kingdom of darkness, that man is basically good. And so he ought to be able to do whatever he wants, and the kingdom of light has had too much influence, and it's taken away freedom. We're going to get rid of the kingdom of light. We're going to get rid of all of it, every bit of it, get it out of our culture. Then we're going to become obsessed with sex, not just at a personal level in pornography, but at a political level, so that all you want to talk about is the rights of people who are perverted sexually because they've overthrown God.

At least they think they have. Now Paul supports the command in verse 14 by looking into three areas, which would be obvious – the past, the present, and the future. But let me just start with the past. The very verb bound together is drawn out of that Deuteronomy 22, 10 passage about the ox and the donkey, and that reminds us of prohibitions in the Old Testament with regard to Israel. Let me just remind you of things that God said to Israel about being bound together with unbelievers.

So let's look at the past. Let's go back, for example, to the twenty-third chapter of Exodus. We'll just look at verse 31 and 32, the end of the chapter. "'I'll fix your boundary in the promised land, from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates. I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.'"

That's pretty serious. God knew the impact of pagans living side by side with the Jewish people, and so He told them, "'You need to drive them out. This is your land.

I gave it to Abraham in a covenant promise. You need to drive them out.'" Verse 32, "'You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.'" He wanted them driven out because they pose such a threat to the integrity of His people. In the thirty-fourth chapter of Exodus, again, just after replacing the law, "'Watch yourselves,' verse 12, Exodus 34, 12, "'that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you're going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather you're to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their asherim,'" false worship location. "'But rather you are to tear them down, for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous is a jealous god. Otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land.'" And they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of His sacrifice, and you might take some of His daughters for your sons, and His daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.

You have no business making any alliance with the enemy. In the seventh chapter of Deuteronomy, skipping some other scriptures, chapter 7 begins, "'When the Lord your God brings you into the land,' now they were on the edge of the land, ready to go in, the land where you are entering to possess it, clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, Gergeshites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you. The Lord is going to take care of them to bring you in. And when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you will utterly destroy them.'"

Wow, that's how dangerous they were. "'Utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them, show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them. You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods, and then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them.

You shall tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, hew down their asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people, a separate people, holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you or choose you, because you were more in number than other peoples. For you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you.'"

He brought you here with His mighty hand out of Egypt. There's no alliance. Go to war with them. Eliminate them.

Isaiah picks up the same cry, a number of places in his prophecy. God gave them laws that kept them socially disconnected. They had clothing laws. They had dietary laws. They had calendar laws. They had all kinds of laws and prescriptions of all phases of life which made it. Those were designed not for some spiritual benefit.

Those were designed to make it very, very difficult for them to interact with other people. One of the cries that led to the Holocaust in Europe was the fact that the Jews never amalgamated. They never mingled with the other populations of people, and Hitler used them as a threat, as if they were plotting people's destruction. People didn't interact with them, and this was part of the legacy of that original prescription that was intended to help them stay separate from the nations who worshiped idols. So don't be bound together with unbelievers isn't something new.

It was very clear in the past. It's his grace to you with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today John continued his compelling series called The World vs. The Kingdom of God. John, as we're seeing in this study, God does not bless partnerships between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, between his people and the world. But on the other hand, God does bless the right kind of relationships that his people build. Certainly we see God blessing the relationships that we have with our faithful listeners and the relationships they have with us.

Yeah, there's nothing more impossible than a genuine relationship in any spiritual enterprise between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, and there's nothing more wonderful than building relationships within the kingdom of light, within the kingdom of God, and those relationships are everything, everything. Grace to you is what it is, really, because of those relationships. I mean, you could start with the fact that we have here, I don't know, I suppose in any given week a hundred people who are here serving the Lord at grace to you. I mean, that's a partnership of like-minded people who share the common convictions of sound doctrine and the love for the Lord, and it broadens from there to radio station owners and managers and personnel, and it goes then beyond that across the world to grace partners who stand with us week in and week out, and then many, many other partners who pray for us. So yeah, this is how the kingdom functions, and this is the glorious reality that the kingdom only advances when believers come together, and that is the way God designed the body of Christ. When you think about how the Lord designed his church, he said, the best illustration that I know is the one that's not in the Old Testament in terms of a relationship between Israel and God, but it is in the New, in the church and God, and the church becomes a body, and Christ is the head, and all the members have a part.

I mean, that is the picture of the relationships that are critical and essential to the manifestation of Christ in the kingdom in the world. So we want you to know, folks, that we are here because of you. We want to serve you, but you just need to know how you serve us. We're thankful to be teaching, to be feeding you the Word of God, to be providing all kinds of resources, but we also know that you give back to us, and it comes full circle. And because of that giving, we're able to continue to do what we do. Our ministry is healthy.

We believe that the great days that we're experiencing now are continuing ahead of us and maybe even greater things than we could ever imagine. So keep listening, keep learning, keep pointing others to our resources, keep praying for us. That's your greatest ministry to me and to Grace To You.

That's right, friend. Your support helps us reach individuals and families and churches with solid Bible teaching. And if that kind of ministry resonates with you, consider making a donation when you contact us today. You can mail your tax-deductible donation to Grace To You, P.O.

Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Or you can make a secure donation at our website, gty.org. Or you can call us at 800-55-GRACE. Through your generosity, millions of people have access to verse-by-verse teaching from Grace To You, and lives are changing for eternity.

So thank you for your faithfulness, our number one more time, 800-55-GRACE, and our web address, gty.org. Also, at the website, you'll find several ways to take in John MacArthur's verse-by-verse teaching. You can listen to radio broadcasts that you may have missed, or you can search John's entire sermon archive by specific verse, by book of the Bible, or by topic. There are more than 3,600 sermons available to you, all free to download in MP3 and transcript format. And if you're not sure what to listen to first, a great option is what we call Grace Stream. That's a continuous broadcast of John's teaching through the entire New Testament. You'll find Grace Stream and so much more at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Be back tomorrow for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-22 05:40:52 / 2024-04-22 05:50:24 / 10

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