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Weekly Bible Study
“Matthew 4:23-25”
by Art Sadlier   
December 5th, 2010

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”

[1] – The Kingdom

The terms “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are used interchangeably and no difference in their meaning can be distinguished. So both terms refer to the rule of God or the rule of heaven. The term kingdom of heaven is used exclusively in Matthew.

The word “kingdom” is predominantly used in the Old Testament to refer to “reign.”

1– The Various Aspects of God’s Rule

A – The universal kingdom.  Psalm 103:19, “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” God is sovereign over heaven, earth and hell. God is the ultimate controller over the entire universe. God can allow Satan to be the “Prince of this world,” and it does not take away from God’s sovereignty. Satan will ultimately glorify God by the judgment that will come upon him throughout eternity. God can allow sinners to usurp His authority at a given time and a given place: but that permissive leeway does not take away from God’s sovereignty. God’s judgment on sinners will ultimately glorify His sovereignty.

God’s will, ultimately, will prevail over everyone and everything. This universal kingdom is not the kingdom referred to in our text.

B – The kingdom of God in the hearts of God’s people. This is a kingdom within, a spiritual kingdom and it involves personal salvation. In a special way God rules in the hearts of His people, there Christ is crowned Lord and King. Some call it “The sphere of God’s rule by the grace of salvation.”

It is a kingdom that is received by faith. Mark 10:15, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Not only is the believer in the kingdom but the kingdom is in the believer.

Luke 17:21, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

This is the kingdom which Jesus called men and women to enter into.

C – The Literal Earthly Millennial Kingdom

Ezekiel 37:22-25, “And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.
Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince forever.”

This is a literal earthly kingdom which has long been promised to Israel. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David,” Luke 1:32.

The literal kingdom was offered to Israel, not to individuals. Acts 1:6-7, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

The conditions were repentance and faith by the nation not individuals. Faith had to be national in scope. We know that individuals did repent and place their faith in Christ and the kingdom was not forthcoming. The conditions were also not met by the nation, the kingdom was postponed to a later day when the nation will repent, see Zechariah 12:10-14.

D – The Eternal kingdom

At the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ’s literal kingdom on earth, a transition will take place in the kingdom. At that point the millennial kingdom will give way to the eternal kingdom. Luke 1:33, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” See also Revelation 20:7-15 and Revelation 21.

[2] The Gospel    (verse 23)

Individual personal salvation is the only entrance to into God’s kingdom. The gospel is the good news about entrance into God’s kingdom. It is the good news about salvation.

A – Salvation is the same in all ages.  Salvation in Old Testament times and in New Testament times is always by faith in God’s Word, to believe what God has said.

Understand that the scriptures are a progressive revelation. Adam and Eves knowledge of the gospel was less than Abraham’s. Abrahams was less than was Moses and Moses was less than Paul’s. Regardless of the degree of a man’s revelation from God concerning the gospel, men were and still are saved by faith in God’s Word, in God’s promises to save him. God has based our salvation on the shed blood of Christ, even though that truth may have been dim in the eyes of the Old Testament saints.

Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Abraham didn’t have the full orbed revelation of the gospel, as we have today, but he believed God and was saved. He believed what God said to him about salvation.

B – God’s program for the redeemed may differ in different ages. The relationship of the redeemed with God changed at Pentecost.

John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

John 14:20, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”

C – God’s program for the O.T. saints was different than His program for the N.T. (Church) saints.

For example – Abraham and Paul are each typical of the saints of their era.

Abraham was rewarded for faithfulness with material blessings in the here and now. He was promised an earthly possession that one day would be his, (land). His blessing was bound up in earthly things.

Paul was not rewarded with material blessings. He possessed absolutely no material things. His blessings for faithfulness were entirely bound up in heaven. Ephesians 2:6, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 3:9-11, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is then a distinction between the Church and Israel. This, in spite of the fact, they are both saved in the same way. They are both numbered among the company of the redeemed.

D – Understand two things Jesus taught about the gospel of the kingdom He preached.

First – The good news Jesus proclaimed was the good news about individual, personal salvation. It resulted in entrance into the spiritual kingdom of God.

Secondly – Jesus also offered good news to the nation. If the people of the nation would all respond to the good news of personal salvation, then the nation would enter into the promised earthly kingdom.

The nation did not respond to the gospel and so the bringing in of the long promised earthly kingdom awaits a future fulfilment.

[3] The Healing   (verse 23-25)

Alexander McLaren said, “It may be doubted whether we have an adequate notion of the immense number of miracles that Jesus performed.” In verse 24, we read, “And he healed them all.” B.B Warfield said, “In effect Christ banished disease and death from Palestine for the three years of His ministry.” This was a foretaste of the millennial kingdom.

The healing ministry of Jesus was a divine verification of His message. (Heb. 2:3, 4)

The healing ministry of Jesus was a verification of His Divinity. (John 14:11)

The healing ministry of Jesus showed that He was the prophesied Messiah. (Isa. 35:4-6)

The healing ministry of Jesus confirms that the millennial kingdom will yet come. (Isa. 35:4-6)

We need to remember that Jesus did not come to heal, He came to save. (John 3:16 -   Mat. 18:11)

Two Questions that Teach.

How many of those who were healed are still enjoying the benefits? - None.

How many of those who received salvation of the soul are still enjoying the benefits? – ALL.

My friend Christ came to deliver men from the power of darkness, from hell and eternal condemnation. Christ came so that God might translate men into the kingdom of His dear Son. Jesus said, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He said later, “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.”

The great need is to recognize our sin and repent and trust Christ for salvation.

Illustration – In a Quaker town in New England many years ago, a man was fastened to the stocks in the town square.  Traveller came up to him and said, “Why are you in these stocks?”  “Well sir its’ like this, I was walking home last night and I just picked up a piece of rope in the field.”  “Are you being punished just for that?”  “Well not exactly sir.”  “You see that it was not until I got home that I discovered that there was a small Ox on the end of the rope.”

We need to do the hard thing, and recognize our sin and confess it and turn from it to Christ.

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