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Pressing into the Kingdom

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 26, 2023 12:01 am

Pressing into the Kingdom

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 26, 2023 12:01 am

The kingdom of God demands more than a casual, half-hearted pursuit. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of the gospel of Luke, calling on us to devote ourselves earnestly to the Word and the work of the Lord.

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Coming up next on the Lord's Day edition of Renewing Your Mind. Do you have fire in your belly for the kingdom of God? How much pressure do you have in your life of seeking the deepest things of God that you can find? In Luke chapter 16 the Pharisees were pressing Jesus and ridiculing Him, but Jesus pushed back, and that challenge echoes through the eons to us. How much are we pressing into the kingdom of God? Thank you for joining us for the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb.

R.C. Sproul returns to his series in the gospel of Luke. He's in chapter 16, beginning with verse 14. This morning we're going to continue with our study of the gospel according to Saint Luke, and we're in the 16th chapter, and today we'll be looking at verse 14 through 18.

I would ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts, for what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John, and since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it, and it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.

Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery. This is the Word of God that you've just heard coming from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please receive it as such and be seated. Let's pray. Again, our Father, as we prepare our hearts for coming to the Lord's table this morning, we ask that You would attend the gift of that sacrament with Your Word. Sanctify us by Thy Word, for Your Word is truth. And we pray in Jesus' name.

Amen. Following the somewhat lengthy parable of the unjust steward, which was given specifically for the benefit of the hearing of the disciples, we see that those who were standing outside of the group of disciples listening in to that parable were the Pharisees. And so we read in verse 14 that the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard these things. That is, the parable of the unjust steward, who was not a sound keeper of money, and about whom Jesus said, You cannot serve God and mammon, that is, God and your money. And the Pharisees, we are told here, were lovers of money. And I think we are aware of one of the most misquoted verses in all of sacred Scripture is the verse that people quote as saying, Money is the root of all evil. But that's not what the Bible says. The Bible doesn't say that money is the root of all evil. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil.

And if the love of money is a root, that root had sprung up in full measure to a forest of trees in the hearts and souls of the Pharisees. And so being lovers of money, they were seriously offended by Jesus' teaching on stewardship. And their response to the message that our Lord gave to them in the parable of the unjust steward was not to flee to him in repentance, but rather to stand back and deride him, or rather to sneer at him. Can you imagine sneering at Jesus? It would seem that behavior could sink no lower than that, than to hold the Son of God Himself in contempt. And yet this is the almost universal reaction of the world to Jesus. To all of those who are outside the kingdom of God, though they may make empty compliments of Jesus, calling him a great teacher or a prophet, nevertheless, by their response to His Word indicate that in the deepest chambers of their heart they hold Him in contempt. So Jesus responded to this sneering of the Pharisees, and He said, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

We live in a topsy-turvy world where princes walk in rags and beggars ride on horses. We live in a culture that exalts people of unspeakable immorality. People are praised in our culture, while at the same time they are an abomination to God.

Let me just stop for a second here. Do you ever think about that, of anything's being an abomination to God? I mean, we're told every day that God loves everybody unconditionally, and we don't have any room in our thinking or in our theology for the idea that something may be an abomination in God's eyes.

Well, we might say, well, certain behavior patterns are an abomination to Him. God absolutely hates sin. He loves the sinner, but He hates the sin. Where do you find that in the Bible? You read in the Psalms, you read in the Prophets that God abhors the evildoer, that the evildoer is an abomination in His sight. He doesn't send sin to hell at the judgment day.

He sends people there because they are an abomination to Him. It was probably never a more abominable group of people that walked the earth than the Pharisees who prided themselves in their righteousness and their goodness. These are the people who thought that if they lived a good life, that was enough for them to be justified and to enter into the kingdom of God.

How many people do you know who are relying on living a good life to get themselves into heaven, who are practicing self-justification, who are resting on their good deeds and their performance to pass the bar of God's justice? There's no more foolish endeavor, no greater fool's errand than to seek to enter the kingdom of God by your own good works. But that's not only what the Pharisees did, but that's what they taught everybody else. Well, Jesus speaks briefly about the Law. He said the Law and the Prophets were until John, not that they were until Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. But when He talks about the Law and the Prophets, He's talking about the whole progress of the Old Testament, which He said goes right up to and includes John the Baptist. So that John the Baptist, though he's written about in the New Testament, belongs to the period of redemptive history that we call the Old Testament or the Old Covenant.

The Law and the Prophets ruled until, that is up to and including, John. But with the advent of John the Baptist's ministry, a crisis point in all of history took place, because John was the forerunner of the Messiah, and he proclaimed the crisis of human history when he said, Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. And then he pointed to Jesus and said, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

And Jesus enters into His public ministry and His message is the same. The kingdom of God is at hand. And the Pharisees heard that, and first they yawned.

Then they sneered. Then they murdered, because the last thing they wanted was the kingdom of God. And Jesus said this, Since that time, since John, the kingdom of God has been preached and everyone is pressing into it.

I love this text. Jonathan Edwards preached an entire sermon just on those words entitled, Pressing into the Kingdom of God. And he talked to those multitudes of people who when they heard Jesus speak about this kingdom, they flocked to Him. They rushed to Him.

They pursued Him with all of their might. And wherever He went, they were following Him in huge throngs, not simply to get healed, but to hear about the kingdom that Jesus was speaking of. And so Jesus, elsewhere, said they were taking the kingdom of God by force as violent men, yet couldn't keep them away. They were battering down the doors, anything to get into the kingdom of God. And as they were saved, that striving, that pressing, that forcing didn't stop.

It now accelerated. Paul understood that when he said to his readers, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. The kingdom of God has never been a casual affair. Jesus rebuked the church at Laodicea because it was lukewarm. He said, I'd rather that you be cold or high, and I'd rather that you be cold.

He said, I'd rather that you be cold or hot, but if you're lukewarm, I'm going to spit you out of my mouth. We talk about nominal Christianity, people who are Christians in name only, but have no passion for the things of God. They may understand theology. They may have their intellects tickled by discussions of doctrine, but their hearts are far from the kingdom.

They're not pressing into the kingdom of God. If you notice, this morning at the very beginning of our worship service, Kevin read the psalm, Psalm 84. Listen to these words for a second where the psalmist writes, How lovely is your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, my soul longs, yea, even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Does that sound like you? Do you think about coming to church on Sunday morning and think about entering into the sanctuary and you say, Oh wow, I can't wait to walk in there. How lovely is the court of the Lord. My soul longs, it aches, it swoons, it faints to be in the sanctuary of God because my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Now we look at times in church history where the Spirit of God visited the people of God in extraordinary ways. We think of the great awakening of the 16th century Protestant Reformation where zeal for the things of God swept across the land as the gospel was recovered anew. We think of the great awakening in America in the 18th century with the preaching of Whitfield and Edwards and John Wesley. You think of the Welsh Revival when God visited His people and woke them up out of their dogmatic slumber, moved these people to great passion of heart for the things of God.

But the greatest awakening that ever took place in human history was in the Apostolic Age in the 1st century when the King of the Kingdom was present in the flesh, and they heard His voice, and they listened to His words, and they rushed into His kingdom, pressing and striving with all of their might to be there. Steve Lawson in his little book on Whitfield tells the story of an actor who had a conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury in England. And the Archbishop said to the actor, he said, you know, he said, help me understand this. You people get up on the stage and speak of imaginary things, and people in the audience are weeping, and they're profoundly moved. And yet if you come to our churches where we preach about real things, nobody's moved.

Why is that? And the actor said to the Archbishop, he said, because on the stage we proclaim imaginary things as though they were true, whereas in the pulpit the preacher is speaking of true things as if they were imaginary. The kingdom of God is not a place of fiction. It's not imaginary.

It's real, and it's true. And if you get it, if you understand it, then like the psalmist, your soul will long and your heart will faint and you will cry out for the living God. Now, I believe that Christianity is rational, that you can't get to the heart except through the mind, but you can get to the mind and never reach the heart. And God wants us heart and mind, mind and soul. In fact, the more we understand the truth of the things of God, the more our souls are inflamed with fire.

And that's what I'm asking this morning in light of this text. Do you have fire in your belly for the kingdom of God? How much pressure do you have in your life of seeking the deepest things of God that you can find?

I can't answer that question for you because I can't read your hearts, but God can, and He does read our hearts. And then Jesus says, it's easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle or jot of the law to fail. Can I just take a moment about this statement that Jesus makes? We have all kinds of intellectual and theological debates about the nature of Scripture. Is Scripture just a book written in antiquity by some people who were religious, or was it indeed superintendent and inspired by God Himself? And then people argue over the extent of that inspiration. Some say, well, the Bible as a whole is inspired. There's an organic inspiration about it. The basic truths are contained in there with a mixture of errors that come from the pens of human beings.

Well, others say, no, no, no. It's not just plenary inspiration we're talking about, but we're talking about verbal inspiration, which means that each and every word of Scripture is inspired by God and carries His authority. Well, I'd like to suggest to you this morning that Jesus didn't believe in plenary inspiration or even in verbal inspiration. If you want to know Jesus' view of Scripture, it was jot and tittle inspiration. Not just every word, not just every letter, but every vowel point, every comma, every period was inspired by the Holy Spirit so that not one word of Scripture can possibly fail. As I've always said, I don't want to have a lower view of Scripture than Jesus or a higher view of Scripture than Jesus taught. I want to hold to the position that He taught. And He says it's easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.

God willing, every Monday, Burke and I have lunch, and we talk over lots of things, the life of the church and so on. But not only that, but what's going on in the broader Christian world, particularly in America, and right now we're in a period of epidemic with a movement that technically is called antinomianism. You know what the word anti means? Antinomianism, the Greek word for law is nomos, so antinomianism means against the law of God. There's a theology out there that's pervasive in the evangelical world called dispensationalism and dispensationalism at its core, at its heart, is antinomian. The law is Old Testament.

It has no function for the New Testament Christian. Every jot, every tittle of the law is done with. And the theme song of the antinomian is, Free from the law, O blessed condition, I can sin all I want and still have remission. The law of God is a thing of the past. Why do you suppose we put the Ten Commandments and exposition of them in the bulletin all the time in our liturgy? To remind people that the law of God is not gone.

Calvin spoke of three basic uses of the law. The first is that the law of God, the Old Testament law I'm talking about, reveals the character of God and is the perfect mirror for us when we look into that mirror of the law of God and judge ourselves not by the community standards of where we live and in our culture, but we judge ourselves by the law of God. And we hear the question, if the Lord would mark iniquity, who would stand?

We know when we look in that mirror, we're not going to stand. The law of God reveals to us our utter hopelessness and helplessness of saving ourselves. And so, as the Apostle Paul said, it acts like a schoolmaster that drives us to Christ, that drives us to the gospel. But not only that, the law acts as a restraint on wickedness in the world, Calvin goes on to say, but the most important contribution he made there was what's called the tertius usus, or the third use of the law, saying that for the Christian, for the Christian, the law still has the extreme value and benefit of revealing to us what is pleasing to God and what isn't.

And if I'm pressing into the kingdom of God, I want to know what God loves and what He hates. The Pharisees were supposed to be the experts in the law. And at the same time, they were legalists and antinomians. They were legalists in that they added to the law of God principles and traditions that were not the law of God.

They kept people in chains where God had left them free. That's what legalism does. They were also legalists in thinking that they could save themselves through their own righteousness, their own good works. It's another form of legalism. And they were also legalists by trying to find wiggle room to get around the radical demands of God's law. And so they actually became antinomian.

They actually became against the law. Nowhere was that more clear than their teachings on marriage and divorce. In the traditions of the rabbis, the rabbis had looked at the Old Testament law regarding divorce where God in the Pentateuch said there was only one ground for divorce, and that was sexual immorality. As Jesus explained when the Pharisees tried to trap Him in Matthew's gospel, and Jesus said that from the beginning there was no divorce, but to the hardness of our hearts, God condescended to allow divorce in the case of sexual immorality.

Paul added the case of desertion later. But the rabbis said if a wife breaks her husband's favorite dish, that's grounds for divorce. If the husband thinks the wife isn't pretty anymore, that's grounds for divorce. So the Pharisees undermined the sacred institution of marriage. Now where did marriage come from? It came from God. In our marriage ceremonies we always say that it was instituted by God and regulated by God's commandments.

We're not free to do whatever we want to do with marriage. In 1948, the historian-sociologist Petarim Sorokim of Harvard University expressed his great fear of the imminent destruction of American culture. And the reason he was so concerned in 1948, he said, was this, that the family unit is the stabilizing force of every nation and of every society. But the divorce rate had escalated from 10 percent in 1910 to 25 percent by 1948. And Sorokim said, no nation can survive when one-quarter of its families are breaking up through divorce.

Doesn't that sound naïve today when for decades we've been at and over 50 percent? And so the cultural solution to the disintegration of the home and of the family and of marriage is to do what? Grant no-fault divorce and then do away with marriage altogether.

It's more than a trend. It's an epidemic, particularly about young people today who cohabit without marriage. I wish I had the time to tell you, all of the professing Christians, I know this minute who are living together without being married, living in flagrant defiance of the law of God.

What difference does that piece of paper make? It's okay with the government, and it's also okay with the church. If you're living together in this church and the members of this church and we find out about it, you will be brought into discipline immediately because it's a gross and heinous sin that no church dare tolerates. But churches all over the world take the position we're not judgmental.

We're not going to exercise discipline. A church that will not exercise discipline for gross sin is not a church. Discipline is one of the necessary conditions for a true church. Now, the government defines marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman as legitimate and brings repercussions to bakers who won't bake cakes for such weddings, for churches that won't allow their halls to be used for such weddings, and it won't be long until there will be sanctions against preachers who refuse to perform such weddings. And that objection will come not only from the state, but it will come from the church, from churches who have already embraced the legitimacy of homosexual marriage, which I promise you is an abomination in the sight of God. And it presupposes that the law of God has failed and that we can live without it.

All of our marriages all of our marriages are flawed. Every one of us brings wrinkles to the bride of Christ, and yet because of His righteousness, He has married us. And His love for us, despite our sin, is grace and mercy beyond measure. Thank you for joining us for Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb. We're making our way through the Gospel of Luke here on the Lord's Day edition of our program. And if you join us every Sunday in the coming months, we will finish this book together. To augment your study, let me recommend that you take advantage of our resource offer today, a digital download of R.C.

's commentary on Luke in his signature style. Dr. Sproul explains and clarifies every passage. I think it will be a great help to your study in years to come. To receive it, just contact us today with your donation of any amount.

You can do that online at Here at Ligetor Ministries, we are translating discipleship resources into the world's most spoken languages. For example, Dr. Sproul's series, What Did Jesus Do?, which explains the person and work of Christ, is now available in Hindi, a language spoken by 600 million people. So when you support Ligetor Ministries, you are helping to translate, publish, and distribute biblical teaching around the globe, and all of it so that more people in more places may be awakened to the holiness of God. So on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Ligetor Ministries, thank you for your generous donation. I hope you have a great week, and please make plans to join us again next Thursday for Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 02:46:40 / 2023-02-26 02:56:18 / 10

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