Volume VII, Number 13
In this issue:
“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). With these words the Lord tells the Peter that he would be the God’s agent in granting and denying entrance into the kingdom of heaven (the church, see verse 18). What is here granted to Peter is also granted to all the apostles in Matthew 18:18, where the Lord uses the plural pronoun “you” as He speaks the same words to them all. Jesus was not elevating Peter above his peers in Matthew 16:19. He was telling Peter then, and all the apostles later (Matt. 18:18), that their work would involve opening and closing the kingdom of heaven to the inhabitants of earth.
The work of the apostles was to preach the gospel that heaven revealed to them (Mk. 16:15; Acts 1:8). This work began on the day of Pentecost and that beginning is recorded in Acts 2. By preaching the gospel the “keys of the kingdom” opened the kingdom of heaven to sinners. On that day about 3,000 souls received the word that was preached; they were baptized and the Lord added them to His church (Acts 2:41, 47). Heaven had determined the terms of entrance into the kingdom (church) that Jesus built (Matt. 16:18-19). The apostles preached those terms of entrance as well as the blessing received when people believed and obeyed them (Acts 2:36-38, 40-41). The apostles were doing the very thing Jesus said they would do – making the kingdom of heaven accessible to men.
The term “keys” used in Matthew 16:19 indicates authority to grant access, just as the owner of a house holds the key to the front door and has the right (authority) to use the key and enter his house. A similar usage is found in Isaiah 22:22 where it is said of Eliakim, “The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.” Jesus Christ is described as the ultimate fulfillment of this concept, for He is the one “who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” (Rev. 3:7). Christ, who has all authority, reigns over the kingdom of heaven and holds the power to grant or forbid entrance to it (Isa. 9:6-7; Lk. 1:31-33; Matt. 28:18). He has chosen to convey His terms of salvation by the gospel preached by His apostles (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 16:25). Those who believe and obey the apostles’ gospel are saved and added to church (they enter the kingdom, Acts 2:47; Matt. 16:19). But, entrance into the kingdom of heaven is denied those who do not believe their gospel (Mk. 16:16).
Will the door of the kingdom be opened for you? Yes, if you believe in Christ, repent of your sins and are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:36-38).
In Matthew 5:21-26 Jesus warns against anger and its potential power to lead to murder. He quotes the Ten Commandments: “Ye have heard that it hath been said to them of old time, ‘Thou shall not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment’” (Matt. 4:21). He then adds, “But I say unto you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire” (Matt. 5:22).
Jesus mentions three places men should fear: the “judgment,” the “council,” and the “lake of fire.” Two of these were tribunals of men: the “judgment” (a group of men which sat in every city having authority over such cases as murder) and the “council,” this was the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court composed of 72 men. The third place men are to fear is the “lake of fire,” God’s final punishment for evildoers. In Jesus’ day, power to execute criminals had been taken from Jewish hands. When Pilate told Jesus’ accusers “take him yourselves and judge him according to your law,” they responded, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” (John 19:31f), since fear of the “judgment” and the “council” would be fear of the death penalty and since such power had been removed from Jewish hands, it is understood that Jesus has reference to all courts of law which can punish the murderer with death. Still, while we must control our anger which, left unchecked might lead to murder and thus our own execution; anger which stops short of murder but causes us to speak derogatorily of our brother by saying “Raca” or “Thou fool” will lead us to an eminently higher court whose sentence is more severe than death. Jesus said, “…be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Jesus says: “Whosoever is angry with his brother.” The KJV adds “without cause.” Not all anger is being considered in this passage. Jesus was angry because of the hardness of the hearts of those who sought occasion to condemn him because he healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5). Paul instructed, “Be ye angry and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26). Anger which may cause men to say “Raca” or “thou fool” may also incite one to kill. To prevent murder, remove the cause that leads to that murder, anger. And more importantly; remove anger for although it may not lead us to kill, it will lead us to stand in the court of God.
Rather than being angry with our brother, we should seek reconciliation with him. Thus Jesus said: “If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt. 5:23-24).
Our attitudes and dealings with others may interfere with our worship of God. Jesus taught that in our prayers we must ask, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12, 14, 15). We must do our part in restoring peace with those from whom we have been estranged. Sometimes reconciliation is impossible, but if it is, let it be because our adversary refuses to be at peace with us, not vice versa.
-Truth Magazine, August 7, 2003, p. 18
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
How to Study the Bible (Part 1)
Scripture Reading: Psalms 119:121-128
How can we effectively study the Bible so we can know & abide in the truth (Jno. 8:31-32) & teach it to others (2 Tim. 2:2)?
I. DEDICATE YOURSELF TO BIBLE STUDY – 1 Tim. 4:12-16.
II. DECIDE WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO STUDY.
III. DEFINE THE SUBJECT YOU WITH TO STUDY–
1 Pet. 4:11.
IV. DISCOVER WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ON YOUR SUBJECT.
We must devote ourselves to studying the Scriptures & to understand them – 2
Tim. 2:7; Acts 17:11-12.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
How to Study the Bible (Part 2)
Scripture Reading: Psalms 119:1-8
Knowledge of the truth necessary to be saved! – 1 Tim. 2:3-4
V. DISCERN THE MEANING & APPLICATION OF THE TEXT
– 2 Tim. 2: 14-16.
VI. DEFER TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
VII. DO THE WILL OF GOD,
Computer Viruses, Worms and Sneak-attacks
As of this writing I have not contracted the Sobig.F computer (although I had a difficult time updating my virus scan program). Nor did I get by the malicious “Blaster” worm earlier this month. Thankfully, in both cases, my virus protection was up-to-date. If you access the Internet, it pays to have a firewall and a good anti-virus program on your computer.
This recent flurry of “hack-attacks” reminds us that “sneak attacks” upon the children of God are not uncommon, either: “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4); “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet. 2:1-2). False teachers with their false doctrines stealthily enter among God’s people, “deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim.3:13).
Compromise with immorality is another invader that intrudes upon purity and corrupts the soul. Like unseen leaven it does it work until even some Christians “call evil good, and good evil,” influencing God’s people to “put darkness for light, and light for darkness” and “bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20). We must remember to love God, not the world (1 Jno. 2:15-16).
Computers can be made relatively secure against viruses, worms and hackers. There is ample spiritual security available to protect us from the corruption caused by false teaching and immorality (see Eph. 6:10-18). But, like computers, we must “download” and “install” God’s protective armor into our lives. It, too, can be difficult at times, requiring us to patiently endure (Heb. 10:36-39). Protect yourself with the whole armor of God. Your spiritual health depends on it.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 08/23/2003
Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ,