Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6
Thesis: The "general" Kingdom mentality is one of helpfulness.
Introduction: We have concluded our study of the "snakiness" of man. This morning we are going to turn our attention to a consideration of the fundamental characteristic of God's Kingdom. As Luke pondered what to include in his record, we find that he often selected the "root" issues...those issues which have the greatest potential to flower into highly fruitful expressions of the true nature of God. It is, after all, God's Kingdom and His plan to bring it to its best and highest expression is the core of the plan of the ages. Human history, as it has developed, shows a certain kind of "three steps forward, two steps back" character to the development of God's plan. Throughout His dealings with men, God has characteristically acted in a brief, climactic way in order to set a certain aspect of His plan into motion, and then has allowed the oppositional forces to gradually erode the impact of His explosive beginning until it is pretty much chewed up. Once the opposition has accomplished a certain amount of disintegration, He intervenes with another explosive set of events that give a new direction to the development of the plan -- while retaining the major "force" of the earlier aspects of that plan. It is the retention of the major "force" of the earlier aspects of the plan that makes the gradual progress of the plan possible. That is what the focus upon the "snakiness of man" is all about: retaining the major lesson of the period of the Law. Paul said that the major lesson became most fundamentally obvious over the period -- no man will be justified by the works of the Law because the Law reveals him to be a "snake", completely incapable of self-reform or development into true godliness. So, as long as we do not lose the impact of the legal period -- that there is nothing within our flesh that can yield godliness -- we can move on to the next major "lesson".
It is to this "lesson" that Luke now turns as he records John's teaching. And, it is to that "lesson" that we now turn as we follow the direction of his words.
March 12, 2006
- I. The Fundamental Character of God's Kingdom.
- A. The text pushes us to the "fundamentals".
- 1. There are several facts that reveal that Luke is focused.
- a. First, he deliberately identifies three distinct "kinds" of interrogators.
- 1) There is the "general" kind -- the "kind" that made up the "crowds" who had been baptized by him.
- 2) There are two "specific" kinds -- the "publicans" and the "soldiers".
- a) The "publicans" were a sub-set of the crowds who were the notorious apostates who had sold their souls to the Kingdom of the Fang as administrators of the "poison" of that kingdom.
- b) The "soldiers" were another sub-set of the crowds who were the most visible instruments of the Kingdom of the Fang: the fangs.
- b. Second, he specifically puts the "question/answer" issues into an "on-going" process -- the crowds always asked the same question; John always gave the same answer [the crowds "were asking...saying" and John "answered...saying"].
- 1) The "tense" issue is involved.
- 2) The "vocabulary" issue is also involved.
- c. Upon consideration of this deliberation by Luke, it is impossible for us to not conclude that he is, once again, focused upon the most crucial of all the "truths" that John taught those who received his message.
- B. The "most fundamental" issue is John's answer to the crowds.
- 1. The question of the crowds was a question of what kind of fruit God was seeking from His people.
- a. Once a person has been moved out of the "generation of vipers" into the "generation of the Friend of God", the most crucial issue is the development of the new life.
- 1) All newborns need on-going help to see where their lives are supposed to go (1 Peter 2:2).
- 2) All the details of the "instructional help" that newborns get resides under an over-all canopy.
- 3) For growth to be most productive, the "canopy" must be visible.
- b. The "crowds" were seeking instruction as to the essential nature of the canopy of God's Kingdom.
- 2. The answer John gave was core-specific.
- a. The answer focused upon the chief characteristic of the Kingdom of God: it is to consist of people who are focused upon sharing what they have with the other members of the Kingdom so that no one has any "need".
- 1) It is the nature of "creatures" to be "needy" [this is never going to "go away"].
- 2) It is the nature of God's Kingdom to put His "supplies" in various places so that the "needs" are all met as the "supplies" are discovered in their places.
- a) God could have made His Kingdom such that each "need" was met by His direct, agent-less, provision, but this would have eliminated the "spiritual" dimension of His Kingdom -- no creature would have any need, but neither would they have any part in God's work.
- b) God did make His Kingdom such that the "needy" are simultaneously "needy" and "wealthy" -- they "need" what God will only give to them as those who have what they need share; and they are abundantly wealthy in certain provisions of God that He has given them to share.
- 3) It is also, however, the nature of God's Kingdom to let "needs" go begging when two realities are present.
- a) When those who have need are unwilling to plug into the "search" for the place of God's provision, God lets them "go without" and, if they are members of His Kingdom, He actually commands His church to not step in and rescue them.
- i. God makes a distinction between His Kingdom and the world.
- ii. Rarely can His instructions regarding His people be applied to the world.
- b) When those who have been given a divine deposit of wealth are unwilling to be used of God to meet the needs around them because they wish to squander the deposit upon themselves, God lets those in need go without.
- c) There are limits to God's willingness to permit the selfishness of others to undercut His supply to the needy, but those limits are fairly severe.
- i. The text acknowledges the reality of those "without" a tunic, or daily food.
- ii. The text does not allow the selfish to escape the fact that it is their selfishness that causes others to become ill and die or to starve and die.
- iii. God's promises are not that the faithful will not suffer because of the selfishness of others; they are, rather, that when the suffering has resulted in death, He will make it up to them.