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Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
April 1, 2021 8:00 am

Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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April 1, 2021 8:00 am

RC Ryle once said, The surest mark of any conversion is humility. On this broadcast of The Bible Study Hour, Dr. Boice will teach from an incident out of Matthew chapter 18, where we’ll get a glimpse into the selfish, prideful thoughts of the disciples and learn how, with a simple change of tone, Jesus completely turns the conversation around to expose the sin in their hearts.

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JC Ryle once said, the surest mark of any conversion is humility on this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will teach from an incident that of Matthew chapter 18, we will get a glimpse into the selfish, prideful thoughts of the disciples, and learn how with a simple change of tone. Jesus completely turns the conversation around to expose the sin in their hearts, and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. How would you feel if your supposed closest friends in life often completely misunderstood you.

Let's listen in to learn how Jesus responded to his own disciples. Ignorance is not very often that I think of William Shakespeare when I come to teach the Bible but I can't come to chapter 18 without thinking of some well-known lines from 12th life. You probably heard them I go like this, be not afraid of greatness. All men are born great to achieve greatness.

Some have greatness thrust upon them. When I think of the poor disciples they were with greatness and the person of Jesus Christ. He was great is only God is great, but they were great. We hadn't been born great, hadn't achieve greatness and even had greatness thrust upon them.

But all they wanted to they so refined as we begin this chapter that that's what they're talking about. I want to be great in Christ's kingdom is a point where were helped a little bit with what the other Gospels tell us that all of the incident the night Chad little bits of the tale that the others leave out. Luke tells us that they were arguing about how Jesus knew their thinking.

Mark tells us that they had been on their way to Capernaum and that when I got there, Jesus asked them what they'd been arguing about him.

They were silent, probably because they were embarrassed at their worldly way of thinking.

Nevertheless, that's what they were doing what Matthew says is the most direct. Apparently at some point all of this was going on. I asked him directly, who is the greatest in the kingdom list became the catalyst question for a new set of teachings by Jesus. We saw we were way back at the beginning of the gospel that you have six blocks of teaching. Probably it means that Matthew was collected. The material from various times in which Jesus taught to develop certain themes. Maybe Jesus did it exactly this way we don't know but it occurs in these different blocks. The first of them, of course, is a sermon on the Mount is found there in chapters 5 through seven chapter 10 is one of teaching revolves around the commissioning of the disciples to go out and teach other people throughout all the cities of Galilee amended the 13th chapter you have the parables of the kingdom very important collection of teachings what you have here is a collection of teachings about the nature of those who actually are citizens of the kingdom this point on, we have a couple other collections. We have a set of woes. Matthew 23 and then we have the final teaching about the kingdom in Matthew 24 and 25 question Lance was amazing in some ways. First of all, of course, because Jesus had been teaching about the nature of those who were the be citizens of the kingdom.

He done it way back in the sermon on the mount were the kind of people that were going to be prominent in the kingdom.

They were people all over the poor in spirit, and the meek and merciful and so long the question is somewhat amazing for another reason as well. Immediately before this Jesus atop them again that he had to go to the cross and Diane was going to be raised on the third day, what were told there is that the disciples were filled with grief deal because her grief didn't last very long and we are just a short time later we find them arguing about who's going to be greatest in the kingdom problem courses that they had finally gotten the point that Jesus really is the Messiah say that was Peter's great confession.

I understood the Messiah was going to bring in the kingdom. So in their worldly way of thinking that next obvious question was, this is going to be greatest in the kingdom. They were his disciples. They were the inner circle was it going to be themselves and it was going to be 11 or 12 of them which was going to be greatest among 12 thinking I was an earthly kingdom like they give it away. Later, in a very slow catching on to give it away even after the resurrection, because they come to Jesus.

At one point then and ask him now this all over you know you said you were to die and you didn't. You said you were going to be raised from that data in your debit book now that that's out of the way let's get down to the important things are you now at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel very clear what they had in mind when they talk about restoring the kingdom a man like before, like the Davidic kingdom. They were talking about a temporal kingdom and when they said is really meant it was a nationalistic kingdom.

It was for Jews on some Gentiles could come but was it essentially Jewish and when they said at this time they expected its immediate film and they were wrong on all counts as a nationalistic temporal kingdom involving YM rule and so forth was a spiritual kingdom and it wasn't for Jews alone is for Jews and Gentiles was for the whole world, and it wasn't something that was to come immediately in the be. There was something that was going to unfold over time as God by his grace added daily to the church.

Those who should be saved.

That's what Jesus had been talking about. I didn't understand that they get it later Jesus would explain it later but for now, Wendy wanted to do is teach them something about the nature of the people that were part of what will the citizens of the kingdom be like Jesus he says well be a little bit like children. Jesus was graded illustrations were some children there. Apparently at least one other me at this little boy over at the little boy stand in the midst and he said citizens of the kingdom are going to be like that children have characteristics that Christians are not to copy children don't know very much, for one thing, and were not called to be a Grinch children lack the ability to focus on any one thing for long periods were not to do that for learn how to focus on God and spiritual things, how to study the Bible and so forth. Children are easily deceived. Where not to be gullible and carried about by every wind of darkness like that of all also have good characteristics. We are to be like them and that what is what Jesus was talking about. Here children are open-minded there easily prop their trusting and so forth. When Jesus talks about here is humility, and the reason he talks about humility here is obvious is the exact opposite of that kind of pride that disciples were manifesting when they were saying.

Who's going to be great in the kingdom. He says listen. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom. Yet, Carson said the child is a model in this context not of innocence later purity but of humility and unconcern for social status Jesus assume people are not naturally like that but they must change to become like little children, so that child as an illustration is striking.

Of course Jesus was inclined to do that at a wonderful gift for presenting truth in unexpected ways.

But what is really striking about this is a matter of fact, what is really shocking are two things personally changes the nature of the question. You notice that the disciples said been asking about greatness in the kingdom. I understood the Jesus was going to establish it, and they were assuming that greatness in the kingdom was the only thing they had to worry about. It was only a question of all. They were going to be part of the kingdom is a instead of answering the question in that way. What Jesus says is that unless they possess in nature was entirely different from what they were betraying by the question they were mastering. They wouldn't even kingdom about who's great in the kingdom to be a part of it. Unless you have a change of nature is very similar to the way Jesus answered the question in Luke 13 when people came to him and ask about why bad things happen to good people are those people were worshiping Herod's soldiers fell upon them suddenly and killed them were those people are walking along minding their own business and suddenly the tolerance I loan fell over on them and I said why does God allow that to happen if he is really in charge of the world were nice people and suddenly role killed Jesus said look, forget that question you're asking the wrong one. The real question is why hasn't happened to you sooner that you are where you spared quite a different kind of thing is what he saying here.

You know you're fighting about what is to be great in the kingdom very fact that your fighting is probably a good clue that the fact that you are not in it, or at least very close. So when he says that he really challenges us to look in our own hearts and see if any significant changes taken place because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that leads us to the second shocking thing because was implied in everything that he said so far is that we have to be converted were actually going to have a share in the kingdom. We have to be turned around. That's the point that Carson was making in those words I quoted. We have to be radically changed to be humble. We have to be changed because were not humbled by nature were self-seeking were someplace where driven to be by pride conversion means to turn around on the other direction we're going to turn around. We have to be turned around because the limits would do it ourselves. So verse and Jeremiah ought to be translated that way. It's Jeremiah 3118 Jeremiah sprang and he praised turned me and I shall be turned your Lord my daughter to put in another language. We need to be born again.

Well, how do we know if were born again we know of, or converted. One reason is by change of heart. You want to put it in terms of the attributes the characteristics of those who have the spirit of Christ within. How about humility.

Tracy Ryle said the surest mark of any true conversion is humility. We don't have it were far from the kingdom now in this first three versus is a lot here in these first three verses, Jesus was thinking of children as an example of humility, but he develops that in the next couple verses because he begins to think of children Max not in terms of their humility, but as examples of these little what sin is kingdom. Those who are weak or who are helpless is not thinking of children literally here at this point he thinking of believers who, because they become like children in their humility of come to believe on me is what he says in verse six so now talks about harming a new era we can Christians spiritually say that again is speaking of children, literally, at this point is talking about is normal believers and he's warning against placing obstacles in the genuine believers way. Let's warning the people need to take seriously on the bulb. All unbelievers need to take it seriously frightening matter. Jesus says to get a Christian to sin say there are people who feel somewhat pleased with themselves that they can get a Christian to Santa Fe. They can go to Christian in the getting angry or they can tempt a Christian to do something that both the Christian and they know is inconsistent with their profession of faith in Jesus Christ that they do happen they can take some pride in themselves. I can say well he's no better than I am or Christians do it to know I should be able to get away with it but I cannot take some joy on that. But listen, Jesus says, is if you're guilty of that of your harming another Christian, it were better for you let a millstone tied around your neck and let you be thrown into the depths of the sea, it would be better for you.I am a violent way. Actually cause another Christian sin because of highly is Jesus value. Those who are children of the kingdom you've ever mocked a Christian if you ever tempted Christian never discouraged Christian serving Christ he speaking to you should be worn by say, speaking to Christians to because believers lease religious people can also harm others. I think air what he says so clearly in the second chapter of Romans. See Ben arguing that everyone not just obviously depraved people need the gospel. He returned at that point to talk to the religious people of his day were the Jews, and who had all these advantages and he acknowledges all the advantages that they have a list eight important claims, and he says they're all true Jews that God has given us his law opportunities entered into a special relationship with Austin number three because we been given his law we know his will. We know what he wants number four because of that we approve of only the most excellent standards and because of all of that we are guides of the blind light for those who were in the dark instructors of the foolish teachers and spiritual infants, and positive all of those things are absolutely true.

He also would argue whom much is been given much is required pauses at that point to remind the religious person of the law. The religious person embraces the law, the religious person says this is a great treasure God is given, and all that is right. But he says you read what's in the law.

How about the eighth of the 10 Commandments login stealing. Do you ever steel about the seventh of the 10 Commandments law against adultery you commit adultery about the first and the second together. The concern with the right relationship with God, do you do that what he says courses that we do then he puts the pressure on by saying listen God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you say we say unbelievers frightening thing to sin and cause a believer to sin is equally frightening for somebody who professes to love God because another sin. Jesus is not slow to make the point less what happens when people try to become great. Of course this bungling to get to the top of the pyramid you have to trample on a few heads on the way up Jesus and say the way to the BMI kingdom set of trampling on others to get to the top you should be helping them because your responsibility for them is great if you really belong my kingdom we come to verse seven. Try to know where to place verse seven whether it belongs.

With that comes immediately before weather belongs with what it comes immediately afterwards and the reason for that. Of course, is that it applies to both. It's a stand outbursts that has to do with sin, determinism, human responsibility and free will is not hard to understand why Matthew added that this plaintiff indeed what we have here is a collection of Jesus teachings is because simple people always want to excuse their behavior by saying that they just can't help what they're doing and are day. This often takes the materialistic or mechanical form. People say well I can help.

What I'm doing because this genetic structure.

We've seen that an identical kinds of studies that are trying to justify or explain bad behavior by our genes or some people do it in terms of the environment is just a kind of neighborhood in which I grew up. I kinda got into me at a early age is that what you had to function in my neighborhood later order to survive.

People blame their parents on like this because of my parents. I have a bad temper and father had a bad temper and so on. Ball Matthew was very much aware of this Paul as well because he said it one point that he had to deal with it. People were saying. And all because it's not our fault, we really should go on and do these things because God going to be glorified in his grace. No matter what we do now. Interestingly enough in this verse. Jesus doesn't deny the determinism, although that's not the best word to use for acknowledges that this is an evil world and that the things that cause people to sin must come is not interesting. Things are going to happen. We do have bad genes. We do live in bad environments are parents aren't perfect but listen at the same time.

What we acknowledges all those factors. Jesus also insists the man of the woman who does sin is responsible for his or her sin, and if he or she causes another person. The sin is responsible for the other persons sin as well say what he says is that it's impossible in this fallen world to be without enticements to sin, but woe the one through whom the enticements come at some point the judgment of a person, such as that will be just he actually uses the word world. Woe to such a person's word, the Bible uses the end of a person is judged by God and suffers eternally in hell only adds another warning is not just a question of doing something that causes another person to send this link to yourselves as well on the way you behave as if there is the aspect of your makeup or some part of your experience is causing you to sin, get rid of the Trina radically you don't want to suffer the results of the sin. He says if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled. Then I have two hands or 2 feet and be thrown into eternal fire. That's serious business, joking around here. He's talking about eternal life and eternal death, and he says if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

It's almost exactly what he said in the sermon on the Mount chapter 5 verses 29 and 30. Sin is so serious that any inclination toward it must be dealt with radically courses not speaking literally of hands and feet are Isaac makes it clear explains in verse seven. What is talking about is things that cause people to sin really means is get rid of whatever is causing you to sense hard to do in our world is where pressured and bombarded by all the time but he said you better work at it because it serious if it's a matter of suggestive movies actual movies that are pushing you in a direction of sexual sin. You better get rid of them don't go to them, don't rent them from the video stores as a matter of books that are talking about how to get ahead by trampling on other people know how to succeed in business by crushing your opponents don't read the books that will be corrupting some do that reading books that glorify your race that are filled with racial slurs are somehow saying that you're better because you're white or because you're black or because of something else. Stay away from that because he said those are enticements to sin the corrupt UN sin will destroy course in the final analysis, triumph over to how it is not going to be simply by negatives not looking at that not buying that. But listening to that, but it's gotta be by positive and what that really means is we need the life of Christ within the Texas back to where we were earlier because of her going to be converted. We have to be converted have to be changed and that's the work of God. The real answer is a love for God comes because of the transformed mind and heart of one in whom he and Wells well who is the greatest in the kingdom Jesus answer the question but I want to follow up as we can buy one more question. The question is this, that the disciples get it where they actually change they become like little children we know they didn't get it right away because two chapters later we find are still fighting the top position on that occasion, James and John got their mother go to Jesus asking the kingdom.

When it came with James and John themselves have the major position one sitting on his right hand, one sitting on his left as close to the top as you could get know that the disciples of the thinking the same things because the word got out to James and John and put their mother up to it and they were mad with James and John. Obviously because they wanted those propositions are themselves. We know they didn't get it right away what is Jesus doing medication well just gotten together.

He went through it all again and get the lesson the first time to get to them. The second time he said you know how the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. It must not be that way with you instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom permitting they get it flung this Jesus was with them. I didn't get it. But when he died. They did, they understood last that he given himself for them. That was the pattern they were to give themselves for him and for others when they got that they really work changed is really a beautiful thing to say we don't have stories about all of the disciples what they were thinking or doing a medication, they were certainly all guilty, but among the guilty ones to stand out and that's James and John one occasion Jesus called them sons of thunder, probably because they were always ready to rail out against other people.

On one occasion they actually wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the village of the Samaritans, which had find the story in the ninth chapter of Luke. They were changed when we finally got their minds off themselves and onto Jesus reptile much about James, but he must've been changed. We never hear him struggling for prominence after the crucifixion and the resurrection, and eventually he died. Jesus being executed by Herod and then there's John. John lived to the venerable old man known last. As the apostle of love. He was living humility when he said this is how we know what love is Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren CF Jesus can change a son of thunder into the apostle of love can change you better do it because unless he does have a part in looking for the rebound searching our hearts. The point like this because when we study words like this. We understand that we are not dealing with the common thinking of the world about some of the way we normally think of ourselves, but with the mind of God and the standards of heaven, whether we say we want to be a member of that kingdom. We want to go to heaven. We don't want to be like those who art in heaven, whether we need to be changed be asked by grace change us for Jesus.

You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888.

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