The Coming Kingdom
9-27-17 Matthew 13:47-52 Lesson 21
Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew’s Gospel, chapter13 and if you’re joining us for the first time we’re right in the middle of a study on The Coming Kingdom. And we’re trying to take a look at what does the Bible teach about the doctrine of the Kingdom. And as we’ve carefully developed this study all the way through the Old Testament, I think we’re in lesson 21, we saw that the kingdom has a concrete meaning as defined in the Old Testament. And the kingdom of God was offered to the nation of Israel on a silver platter by Jesus Christ. And what did first century Israel and her leadership do with that offer? Rejected it! Remember what chapter that happened in? Chapter 12. So chapter 12, really verse 24, is the hinge because there the religious leaders had attributed Christ’s miracles to Satan, or Beelzebub.
So Matthew 12 is followed by Matthew 13, see how logically the Gospel of Matthew is arranged. And since the kingdom has been rejected and the kingdom is not going to materialize until national Israel in the future receives the offer, Jesus begins to describe the course of the present age while the kingdom is absent. The kingdom isn’t cancelled, it’s postponed. So since the kingdom is postponed what is going to be the course of the present age with the kingdom in postponement or abeyance. And this is where Jesus begins to develop this concept in what’s called the interim age, the interadvent age. It’s an age of time that’s been going on for about 2,000 years. It’s an age of time that we’re living in still today as we speak.
And he begins to explain it in eight parables. So while the kingdom is not here, the first parable is the parable of the sower which teaches that the gospel is going to be preached faithfully in this age and the whole world is going to be won to Christ… right? NO! In fact, the gospel seed is only going to be fruitful on one soil. And this obviously is not the kingdom because you see that the earth is not going to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord in this age. And Satan, of course, is very, very active during this time period.
And then the second parable that explains the course of this present age is the wheat and the tares and as we’ve studied this parable teaches that it’s going to be difficult to distinguish between the saved and the unsaved within religious Christendom. And of course that parable can’t be revealing the kingdom because the tares, unbelievers, grow to such a quantity that they have to be bundled up at the end of the age. And again you see the activity of Satan. Who sowed the tares amongst the wheat? The devil.
The third parable was the mustard seed and as we carefully studied the mustard seed what we discovered is that Christendom will experience great numerical and geographical expansion from a humble beginning and yet will ultimately morph into something that God never intended. It will represent an apostate form at great variance from its pure origins. And we noticed that an herb in this parable becomes a tree. Now an herb and a tree are different species. So what is being explained, I believe, and we’ve carefully gone through this is that Christian starts pure but it develops into something that the Lord never intended, into an apostate form of religion by the time you get to the end of the age. And you might factor in there Revelation 17, the great harlot that will cover the face of the earth with false religion. My understanding of the parable of the mustard seed fits that.
And then we saw the fourth parable which is the parable of the leaven. Now is the leaven a good thing or a bad thing? We’ve defined it as a bad thing because a lot of people will tell you the leaven good and it fills the whole earth, the gospel is going to spread over the whole earth but I don’t think that’s what Jesus is saying. What He’s saying is Christendom will experience ever increasing internal corruption throughout this age. And we went through many, many reasons why this cannot be the kingdom of God. The primary reason is the leaven typically in the Scripture is always something evil, not good.
And then Jesus began to speak to them in private parables and you’ll notice that the disciples would be very depressed by this point because they thought the kingdom was coming and Jesus is saying not only is the kingdom not coming but the age you’re entering into now is an age of apostasy and deception. So He kind of takes them into private… the prior parables He had spoken to them in public; He was in a boat off the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and the crowds were kind of gathered on the beach shore to listen to Him teach, but now He goes, verse 36, into the house that He came out of and He begins to sort of cheer them up by saying yes, this age is not going to be the kingdom and yes, there’s going to be a lot of difficulties in this age but cheer up because God is still working.
So He reveals to them the parable of the earthen treasure, verse 44, and that’s this idea that national Israel will remain in unbelief throughout the present age and will not be converted until this age ends. So this parable is not talking about personal salvation; the man in the parable is not a guy getting saved. The man is who? Jesus, who pays the sacrifice for the treasure, Israel, during this age. So the sin debt for Israel is being paid for but don’t expect Israel’s conversion until this age is completed.
And now when you go down that road, as we explained last time, the kingdom can’t be present in this age, can it, because the kingdom is contingent upon who’s response to the gospel? Israel’s. That’s why Jesus says to the Jews in Matthew 23:39, “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say,” speaking to Israel, “‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” So because Israel is not going to say that prayer until the end of the age the present age can’t be the kingdom. But at the same time God is still at work because through His death on the cross He’s paying the penalty for Israel’s sins.
And then we saw very briefly the parable of the pearl of great price, verses 45 and 46, and this parable, as we studied it last week, says the Lord is going to gain a treasure from amongst the Gentiles during this age. So this unique age of time that we’re living in, this interadvent age, this time period between the two comings of Christ, First Coming and Second Coming, the primary people that are getting saved today are not Jews, although Steven is here and many Jews do get saved in this age. But the fact of the matter is the majority population within Christendom is Gentile, non-Jewish. And this is the pearl that the Lord pays for through His death on the cross. So once again this parable is not about a lost sinner who gets saved; that’s a misunderstanding of the parable. The man is not a lost sinner but the man is who? Jesus and He is laying down His life so many, many Gentiles during this age can come to faith.
That sort of catches us up and we just have two more parables to cover before we’re finished with Matthew 13. So let’s look at those two parables tonight, the parable of the dragnet, verses 47-50, and then the parable of the householder, verses 51-52, then we’ll make some concluding comments about the teachings of Matthew 13.
So notice first of all this parable of the dragnet. Notice, if you will, Matthew 13:47-50. Jesus says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind;” so “every kind” would be good fish and bad fish, right;  “and when it” that would be the net, “when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.  So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” So that’s a pretty severe parable there.
But what is this teaching? What it’s teaching is there will be in the present age, while the kingdom is in postponement, the existence of the righteous and the wicked together. They will grow up side by side, sort of like the parable of the wheat and the tares and the good fish and the bad fish will exist together in the same net and they won’t be separated until the age has run its course. So is this particular parable, like any of the other parables, teaching the present existence of the kingdom of God. I’m going to say no, none of these parables that Jesus is articulating teach the present existence of the kingdom of God because these parables are describing a spiritual pattern which is completely different than everything that’s been revealed in the Old Testament concerning the kingdom.
So this parable teaches the coexistence of good and evil. So we’re living in an age of time where we are not going to Christianize the world; I wish it were true that we could. The whole world is not going to be won to Christ but you’re going to have believers and unbelievers living together side by side, just like you have good fish and bad fish existing in the same net. And it’s a time period where there’ll be many, many salvations but at the same time, even though God is at work who else is at work? Satan! In fact, when you go back to verse 39, which is the parable of the wheat and the tares, it says, “and the enemy who sowed them is the” what? “the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.” So it’s a time period where God is at work saving many, many people but the devil is at work with his projects as well. This will be the normal pattern in the present age and that won’t change until the second coming of Jesus Christ.
And beyond that there’s this giant net of bad fish and good fish together, because when you drop back to verse 47 it says, “fish of every kind.” And then in verse 48 it says the net “was filled” and in fact there were so many fish in the net that they had to draw it out of the water into the boat and the idea of drawing something there is the idea you’re pulling it but with resistance. So it’s a giant net with all kinds of fish in it, some good and some bad. So again it’s revealing the coexistence of good and evil until the fish are separated by Christ at the end of the age.
Arthur Pink puts it this way: “The result is that there is a mixed profession. The net gathers in ‘of every kind.’ Just as at the beginning of the age there were the wheat and tares, so at the end of the age (to which this parable conducts us) there are bad fish as well as good. Now . . . the fact that this net gathered in bad fishes as well as good ones was no reflection upon the skill of the fishermen. But on the other hand, they were responsible to distinguish between the good and the bad fish after they had entered the net, and they were responsible to separate the one from the other.” [A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]
So the separation occurs after these fish have existed in this net for a lengthy period of time. And beyond that when you look at verses 48 and 49 very carefully you see that there’s no separation between the good fish and the bad fish until this age has run its course.
Going back to verse 48 again, it says, “and when it” that would be the net, “when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.” Now when does this separation happen.  “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,” so don’t expect the coexistence of good and evil to be stopped or halted. Don’t expect it to be separated until Jesus Christ personally returns to the earth, takes His seat on David’s throne, launches His 1,000 millennial kingdom, and then and only then will the righteous reign.
So many times as Christians we’re disappointed with the course of this age; we wish things would be different, we wish things could go a different direction. Many times we get disappointed with our own churches but the fact of the matter is Jesus says this is a normal expectation that we should have in this present age; we should not expect perfect righteousness. We can call for it, we can work for it, we can pray for it but this parable is teaching don’t expect it until Jesus Christ returns. So the actual separation that we so frequently desire is not going to happen until Jesus comes back.
So this is basically the same message, this parable of the dragnet is the same message as the wheat and the tares. The wheat and the tares began his sequence of parables, first was the sower, then came the wheat and the tares, the second parable. And now we’re to the second to the last parable in eight parables total in Matthew 18 and so He is basically ending the chapter, or the sermon if you will, to these disciples privately. He’s ending it with the same information that He started it with, the coexistence of good and evil. The wheat and the tares teaches the exact same thing. The wheat and tares parable number two is it’s going to be difficult to distinguish between the saved and the unsaved within professing Christendom.
So there are an awful lot of people out there that will talk the Christianese, they’ll even carry great big Bibles with tabs in them and they’ll take notes and they’ll listen to the right Christian radio station and they’ll show up to church because that’s what you do in the United States, particularly in the south, you go to church because it’s cultural. But they have never been born again, they have never been regenerated. And in fact, some of those unsaved people can look a lot like the saved people. The example I’ve used on this is Judas. Jesus said, to the disciples, one of you is going to betray me and everybody didn’t point the finger at Judas and say it’s him, what did they all say? Is it me? Is it I? Is it me? Because Judas, even though he was unsaved, even though he is called a child of the devil in the Gospels, Jesus said of Judas it would have been better for him if he’d never been born. He’s called the son of perdition, which means son of destruction. In fact, that title “son of destruction” is only used of two people in the Bible, the first is Judas, John 17:12 and the second one is the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, also called the son of destruction, the son of perdition, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
[John 17:12, “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” KJV]
So Judas was just as unsaved as the antichrist; in fact, the devil, John 13:27, entered Judas remember. [John 13:27, “After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”] And yet Judas looked very pious, he looked very spiritual, he looked very religious and this is the kind of an outworking of the parable that Jesus is giving here, both with the wheat and the tares and the parable of the dragnet is going to be difficult to distinguish between the saved and the unsaved within professing Christendom. So He starts the selection of parables with that message and He ends it with that message, so obviously this is a pretty important subject for Christ. The wheat and the tares can’t be the Kingdom of God any more than the fish and the dragnet can be, because of the activity of Satan and the increase of unbelievers throughout the present age.
Now before I leave this particular parable of the dragnet let me just try to straighten out something that confuses a lot of people. A lot of people, verses 49 and 50 believe that this is talking about the rapture of the church. It says, “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Now there are many people who believe that the rapture will not come before the tribulation period, which is what our belief it, pre-tribulational, but they believe it comes at the end of the tribulation period and they think that this is a reference to the rapture here. If you go back to verses 41-43 this is the wheat and the tares, it says: “The Son of man will send forth His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” People think that also is dealing with the rapture.
If you go over to Matthew 25:46, which is the sheep and goat judgment, a similar judgment at the end of the age, and you look at the very end it says, “These will go away” that would be the goats, “into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” And people think that these parables that Jesus is discussing here are references to the rapture. But let me just explain something; these cannot be references to the rapture because at the rapture of the church to be taken, is that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s a good thing, and if you’re left behind that’s a bad thing. In all of these parables the opposite is happening; those that are taken are taken off into judgment. So being taken is a bad thing and being left behind to enter the kingdom is a good thing. So these parables here are teaching the exact opposite of the rapture.
Another common misunderstanding, if you just jump over to Matthew 24:36-41, it says this: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  For the coming of the Son of Man,” Matthew 24:37, “the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,  and they did not understand until the flood came and” what? “took them all away;” see that, those that are taken are taken away into judgment in the flood. “…and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” And then immediately following these verses that everybody thinks is the rapture, but it’s not, it says:  “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.”
Now if you put this in context what you’ll clearly see is that those that are taken are taken into judgment because verses 40-41 follow the story He just told about Noah’s day, when those that were taken were taken away in judgment by the flood waters. Those left behind is a good thing (after the judgment is over) those that are left it’s a good thing because they enter the kingdom. See that? So what you find over and over again in Matthew is the people that are taken are taken in judgment. The people that are left behind after the judgment happens are then taken into the kingdom. So what Matthew is talking about is not the rapture, because the rapture is the opposite; with the rapture being taken is a good thing, not a bad thing. But in Matthew’s Gospel being taken is a bad thing and not a good thing. Are you with me on that?
So what is Jesus talking about here? He’s not developing rapture truth, particularly in Matthew’s Gospel. If you want to understand rapture truth you don’t get it from Matthew’s Gospel; you get it from Paul’s writings, primarily. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. [1 Thessalonians 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”]
Jesus is dealing with, in these parables, the interadvent age which ends with the end of the tribulation period, the second coming and the manifestation of the kingdom. So Jesus is dealing with a period of time that started all the way back in Matthew 13 and goes right on through the tribulation period, to the end of the tribulation period where God finally brings forth His kingdom and when He brings forth His kingdom those on the earth at the time that are taken away it’s a bad thing because they’re taken away into judgment. And being left behind is a good thing because you now enter the kingdom. Do you follow? That’s not what the rapture is about; when the rapture happens, seven years before the tribulation period takes place, those that are taken, is it a bad thing or a good thing? It’s a good thing! And those being left behind, is that a bad thing or a good thing? That’s a bad things, it’s the inverse in Matthew’s gospel.
So Matthew, Christ as he’s teaching in Matthew, is dealing with a broader scope than just the age of the church. We’re going to be talking about the age of the church, hopefully next week we’ll start getting into it. But Christ in these parables is talking about something bigger than the church age. He’s talking about something a bit broader; it starts in Matthew 13 and it goes all the way through the seven year tribulation period and stops when Jesus brings His kingdom to the earth. And I just wanted to throw that in because many, many people are very confused about the subject of the rapture today and one of the reasons for their confusion is they’re going to the wrong books of the Bible to define the rapture. Jesus is not talking about the rapture here; He’s talking about His judgment at the end of the tribulation period, where being taken away is the bad thing and being left behind is a good thing because you’re a believer and you’re entering the kingdom. It’s the inverse or the exact opposite of the rapture.
Anyway, that’s pretty much the parable of the dragnet; it teaches the same message as the parable of the wheat and the tares, the coexistence between good and evil until Christ returns and establishes His kingdom.
And then we come to the very last parable in this sequence and this is the parable of the householder and the parable of the householder is found in verses 51 and 52. This is parable number eight. Here’s what it says, look at Matthew 13 and notice verse 51, “Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.”  And Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.’”
So what is He trying to teach here in this last of eight parables? And what it’s teaching, I think, is this: these New Testament truths that we’ve just studied in Matthew 13 as revealed by all of these parables must be considered alongside Old Testament revelation, everything that the Old Testament has revealed up to this point concerning the kingdom, in order to comprehend the totality of God’s kingdom agenda. So if you want to understand the kingdom and you want to understand the conditions that will exist upon the earth before the kingdom is established, you can’t just read the Old Testament. I mean, you can read everything there is to know in the Old Testament about the kingdom but your information will be partial. Your information will be incomplete because that Old Testament information doesn’t tell you anything about what the heirs of the kingdom or the sons of the kingdom will experience up until the kingdoms establishment.
So if you want to understand the kingdom and you also want to understand what the believers, or the sons of the kingdom, or the heirs of the kingdom, will experience before the kingdom actually comes to the earth, you have to read both the Old Testament and you have to read the New Testament, particularly Matthew 13. And that’s what he means by a householder coming out with old treasure and new treasure. The old treasure would be all the Old Testament information about the kingdom. The new treasure would be everything He just revealed in Matthew 13 about what the sons of the kingdom or the heirs of the kingdom will experience before the kingdom is manifested.
See, a lot of people are out there today with a fragmented understanding of God’s program, because they’ve given themselves to one part of the Bible or another part of the Bible and they’re not looking at the Bible holistically, they’re not looking at the Bible in its completion. And this the problem with experts. I was asked one time if I wanted to be an expert or a generalist. What is an expert? An expert is someone who knows more and more and more and more about less and less and less and less. That’s an expert. Well, what’s a generalist? A generalist is the exact opposite, someone that knows less and less and less about more and more and more.
When I was a young seminary student people said do you want to be an Old Testament expert or do you want to be a New Testament expert and my answer was I don’t want to be an expert of either; I want to know both of them. So that’s why I declared my major in Bible exposition, because I didn’t want to be one of these kinds of guys that could narrow down on the different verb tenses in Hebrew or Greek and regurgitate a bunch of data about it. I mean, I’m not denying that’s not important but I’d rather know less and less and less about more and more and more, because you can’t really understand the Old Testament unless you have a knowledge of what? The New Testament. And you can’t really understand the New Testament unless you have a knowledge of what? The Old Testament. So I wanted to be a generalist; I want to be the guy that’s able to pull both together. And that’s what Jesus is talking about here.
Dr. Toussaint and Dr. Quine, in their article in BibSac which is Dallas Seminary’s scholarly journal say, of the parable of the householder: “The parable of the householder in verse 52 is the concluding parable, in which Jesus was saying that the disciples were responsible to teach these new truths” in other words those truths found in Matthew 13, “as well as the old truths of the Old Testament.” [Stanley D. Toussaint and Jay A. Quine, “No, Not Yet: The Contingency of God’s Promised Kingdom,” Bibliotheca Sacra 164 (April–June 2007): 139.]
So the guy in this final parable comes out of his house, he’s got old treasure and he’s got new and [can’t understand word] both. So we are to understand the kingdom program in its totality. We’re not just to understand what the kingdom is going to be like one day. And we’ve studied an awful lot of that, haven’t we? We primarily get that information from the Old Testament, and as wonderful as having that information is we’re actually to go a step further and understand Matthew 13 which is a description not of the kingdom’s establishment; we already have that data in the Old Testament, the description of what the sons of the kingdom (that would be us) or the heirs of the kingdom will experience before the kingdom comes. So understand Old Testament and understand Matthew 13 and then you’ll understand everything that God has to say about this important subject of the kingdom. So eight parables, and you put them all together and they reveal the course of the present age in Matthew 13 before the kingdom comes. Now here is kind of a summation of all eight parables. And here we go!
Number 1, the current age is not the kingdom. Do you agree with that? I mean, do you see world peace breaking out and things like that? No! Do you see Satan bound? No! We’re to put on the full armor of God; that command makes no sense if Satan is bound today. This age is not the age of the kingdom, it’s an age of counterfeit sowing, that’s the devil’s sowing, planting seeds, and satanic activity. It’s an age where outer hindrances that many times are satanically inspired hinder the spiritual life of the child of God and we discovered that back in Matthew 13:20-22 in the parable of the soils, didn’t we. It says, “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;” but what happens?  “yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises” do you notice that? It doesn’t say “if affliction and persecution arise, it says “when affliction and persecution arise…”
See, when we go through a trial as a Christian we’re so shocked, oh my gosh, how could God allow this to happen? Well, if I’m understanding the parable of the soils correctly, tribulation and affliction is normal… are you with me on this? …normal for the child of God in the present age. That’s why the Apostle Peter, I think it’s over in 1 Peter 5 if memory serves me, he says don’t look at your trials as if some strange thing were happening to you, it’s not strange at all; it’s normal for the kingdom heir in the present age to experience persecution and affliction from the outside.
“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;”  “yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” See, it’s outer pressure on the kingdom era, Verse 22, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world…” anybody in here worried about the world? Is your mind filled with worldly concerns, what’s going to happen if North Korea or Iran launches a nuclear bomb; what’s going to happen to the stock market, what’s going to happen to the price of gold, what’s going to happen to my 401Kk plan, which probably now is about a 201Kk plan. How am I going to afford to put my kids through college. What about inflation? I mean, these are all things that preoccupy us.
It says, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” See what he’s describing is in the present age there are these outer hindrances that come into the life of the kingdom era.
Number four, he is explaining that there will be, throughout this age, a general hardness to the gospel. I would love it if every person I share the gospel with got saved. But I’ve shared the gospel with countless people, even people in my own extended family and it’s almost like you’re talking to someone that’s deaf and can’t understand what you’re saying. And we’re sort of startled by that but Jesus made it very clear that the gospel is only going to be fruitful on one of four soils. It says in verse 23, “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Now a hundred, sixty, thirty, are those numbers going up or are they going down? They’re going down.
So what he’s talking about here is we’re in an age of time where the gospel is not going to be received by most people, and even those people that receive it, their lives, many times, are so unconsecrated to God, they’re not reading the Bible, they’re not in prayer, they’re not in fellowship with fellow believers, that the spiritual fruit that God wants to bring forth in their lives is short-circuited. There’s an awful lot of people out there that I believe are saved and on their way to heaven but they’re just not bearing the fruit that God would have them to bear. Why is that? Because of the outer hindrances in this age and the general hardness to the gospel. And this age, as Jesus has carefully explained in the fishnet and the wheat and the tares is going to be an age where there’s going to be a coexistence of good and evil. This age is also a time where God’s program starts off with purity, we see that purity in the Upper Room, we see that purity in the 3,000 that got saved on the day of Pentecost. And yet as Christianity has spread out all over the earth in the last 2,000 years, what basically has happened to Christianity? It’s become very, very worldly.
And that’s what Jesus is revealing in the mustard seed parable, where the herb grows into a tree; herbs and trees, as we have explained, are different species. So Christianity starts off pure but it morphs into something that God never intended. And you all watch Christian TV don’t you? Doesn’t that bother you that people are on those Christian TV stations representing Christ and yet you know, just based on your knowledge of the Bible that the things coming out of their mouths have absolutely nothing to do with what the Bible says. They talk about a gospel of getting rich or whatnot and we’re so shocked to see this happen, we’re so shocked to see churches become liberal and seminaries become liberal, and we’re shocked that certain preachers, in order to get people in the door never mention sin, they never mention hell, they never mention the exclusivity of Christ and yet their churches are packed out every week. And we’re stunned at that, BUT why should we be shocked when we understand what Jesus is saying here, that Christianity is going to start pure and morph into something that God never intended?
And it will also be an age in which Christendom will be gradually internally corrupted. Now you might be saying well, do you have any good news for us, this sounds very negative. The good news is through it all God is still working, because what do you have? At least on one soil there’s fruit. Not that fruit wouldn’t be there unless God was at work. And you now only have tares but you also have wheat. Who sowed the tares? The devil. Who sowed the wheat? The Son of Man, Jesus Christ. So clearly in that parable God is at work. And God is also at work because through His death on the cross He paid for the sin debt of the nation of Israel, although they haven’t received it yet, by faith, the majority nationally, at least their sin debt is paid for.
And we know that God is at work because He is also gaining in the pearl of great price a treasure from amongst the who? The Gentiles, which would be me, which would be you, and it would be every Gentile that has trusted in the Messiah that national Israel rejected. So don’t get too depressed about it. God is still doing things but certainly not the kingdom. He’s not describing kingdom conditions at all.
And where is Israel during this time period? Matthew 13:44, she’s hidden. [Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”] So she will remain in unbelief and really will not experience regeneration, salvation, until really the end of the tribulation period. And it’s going to take really the monumental events of the tribulation period to shake Israel of her false security so that she will trust in her Messiah. And if Israel is in unbelief during this age and the manifestation of the kingdom, as we have studied very carefully, is connected to the obedience of Israel, can the kingdom be present in this age. It’s impossible. See that.
So anyway, these nine things, the current age is not the kingdom, it’s an age of counterfeit sowing and satanic activity, it’s an age of outer hindrances, it’s an age of hardness to the gospel, it’s an ate of the co-existence of good and evil, it’s an age where Christendom becomes worldly and internally corrupted. It’s an age where God is a work and Israel is hidden. Those nine points sort of summarize everything that Jesus has been trying to teach here in Matthew 13. And if you give yourself to a hard study of Matthew 13 you won’t walk about in this world with unrealistic expectations of what God said he would do. I mean, praise the Lord that anybody gets saved. Sometimes we think gosh, we’re going to just win the whole world to Christ and I think we ought to try, but we ought to be realistic about it as well, based on the parables Jesus has revealed here.
Now I’ve got about 13 minutes left before we open it up for questions. I want to deal with one quick thing here at the end and some of you have asked me about this and it has to do with why Matthew 13 does not teach a mystery form of the kingdom? Many, many people will tell you that the kingdom is here in some kind of mystery form. And a lot of very good people will teach this; my professor, J. Dwight Pentecost, who I agree with on 99.99% of issues, taught this doctrine. And let me give you four quick reasons why the mystery form of the kingdom is not being revealed here in Matthew 13.
The first reason is that the phrase, “mystery form of the kingdom” is never used in Matthew 13. As we’ve gone through Matthew 13 has anybody been able to locate the phrase “mystery form of the kingdom”? It’s not there! What is used is Matthew 13:11 which says, ““o you it has been granted to know the” what? “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, [but to them it has not been granted.]” What is a mystery? It’s a new truth. Vine puts it this way: “In the N.T, it [mystērion] denotes, not the mysterious (as with the Eng. word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those who are illumined by His Spirit.” [W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Nelson, 1996), 424.]
Mystery is a new truth, that’s all it is. And what Jesus is revealing here is new truths about the kingdom. What are the new truths? It’s what the kingdom heirs will experience on the earth before the kingdom comes. That’s the new truth. It in no way teaches a present spiritual mystery form of the kingdom, as many people argue. We know that mystery here means a brand new truth because Jesus says “many prophets and righteous men desire to see what you see, and did not see it and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”[Matthew 13:17b]
He says later on, verse 35, “I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.’” What’s hidden? Not the concept of the kingdom but what the kingdom heirs will experience before the kingdom comes, because if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ your birthright is you are a citizen of that coming kingdom, you’re going to enter it. But there’s going to be some difficulty before that happens. That’s the new truth. It’s sort of like what Paul said in the Book of Acts when he went on his first missionary journey. He said through many, what? trials we enter the kingdom of God. But we will enter the kingdom of God as Christians, that’s part of our birthright, but before we enter it what can we experience and expect? Not a few trials but many trials. And you’ll find that in Acts 14:22. [Acts 14:22, “…”Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”] That’s the mystery. Do you follow that? It’s not saying here’s a mystical form of the kingdom that’s present on the earth today. Arthur Pink, I won’t read that whole quote, defines mystery the same way.
[The eleventh verse of Matthew 13 supplies yet another key, in the word “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” In Scripture the term “mystery” signifies a Divine secret made known by the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by what is told us in verse 35, namely, that Christ was here uttering “things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Thus, in these parables, Christ was making known that which was outside the scope of O. T. prediction, something which God had not made known to Israel through the prophets. This needs to be carefully noted, for it refutes the popular interpretation of these parables.” A. W. Pink (2005). The Prophetic Parables of Matthew Thirteen. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software]
So what Jesus is revealing is the experiences of the kingdom’s sons. Jesus refers to us as the sons of the kingdom. Now what did he Apostle Paul say? Galatians 4:7, “if a son then an heir.” So we are heirs of the kingdom, we’re going to enter the kingdom, but before we enter the kingdom there’s going to be a lot of tribulation. That’s what he’s revealing here. That’s the new truth.
So Dr. Toussaint, who I think has it right, says this: “the former” that would be the wheat, “the former the former are sons of the kingdom” watch this very carefully because here’s where the confusion is, “not in the sense that the kingdom is present but in the sense that as believers they will inherit the millennial kingdom.” The mystery or the new truth is what we experience before we actually enter that millennial kingdom.
Beyond that, to argue for a mystery form of the kingdom is to take the word “kingdom” as used in Matthew’s Gospel and be inconsistent with it. As you study that word “kingdom” throughout Matthew’s Gospel, the Greek word is basilea, You ask someone well, what does it mean in Matthew 3:2, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” People say oh, that’s the millennial kingdom.
Well, what does it mean in Matthew 4:17, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Oh, that’s the millennium. Well what did Jesus mean in the so-called Lord’s prayer when He said we ought to pray “Thy kingdom come,” what are we praying for? For the millennial kingdom of course.
How is it used in Matthew 8:11, that’s the millennial kingdom. [Matthew 8:11, “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;”] Well, how is it used when Jesus sent out the twelve to preach the kingdom. Well, that’s the millennial kingdom.
Okay, well then what does it mean in Matthew 13:11, oh, that’s different, that’s a spiritual form of the kingdom. That’s a mystical form of the kingdom. [Matthew 13:11, “Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”]
Okay, then what does it mean in Matthew 24:14, where the gospel of the kingdom goes out to the ends of the earth in the tribulation period. [Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”] Oh, that’s the millennial kingdom.
Well, what does it mean in Matthew 25:1, Matthew 25:34, where Jesus talks about people entering His kingdom. Oh, that’s the millennial kingdom. [Matthew 25:1, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Matthew 25:34, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”]
Well, what does it mean in Matthew 26:29, where Jesus says you will be eating and drinking with me in My kingdom. Well, that’s the millennial kingdom. [Matthew 26:29, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”]
Okay, so let me get this straight: every use if basilea in Matthew’s Gospel is referring to the earthly, physical millennial kingdom but the one exception is Matthew 13:11? I mean, come on folks, I was born in the morning but it wasn’t yesterday morning. You can’t interpret every single reference as the millennial kingdom throughout all of Matthew’s Gospel and then get to Matthew 13:11 and make another rule out of it. But that’s the way you have to go to argue that we are presently in a spiritual form of the kingdom based on Matthew 13.
It’s also a misunderstanding of the times of the Gentiles. You recall that we studied the times of the Gentiles, when was it, last spring; that’s what the giant statue of Daniel 2 is about. What is the times of the Gentiles? The times of the Gentiles is the period of time in between the nation of Israel being deposed from its homeland by Nebuchadnezzar by Babylon, that started in 586 B.C. and what ends the times of the Gentiles? Jesus Christ coming back, that’s the stone cut without human hands that shatters the feet of the statue and destroys the antichrist’s kingdom; then that statue grows and grows and grows and grows until it fills the whole earth. That’s the end of the times of the Gentiles.
So what’s happening in between? These different body parts of the statue: head of gold, Babylon ruling; chest and arms of silver, Medo-Persia ruling; belly and thighs of bronze, Greece ruling; legs of iron, Rome ruling; feet of iron and clay, the antichrist’s empire (yet future) ruling. And so in this vision called the times of the Gentiles it’s very, very clear that there would not exist on planet earth any form of the kingdom. The kingdom itself will not manifest itself until that stone cut without human hands destroys the feet of the statue. You see that?
So what this is revealing is until that happens don’t expect the Davidic kingdom, don’t expect the millennial kingdom, don’t expect a spiritual form of the Davidic kingdom, don’t expect a mystery form of the kingdom, you’re not going to have it. And to interpret Matthew 13 as if we’re in some kind of spiritual form of the kingdom is to directly contradict that statue. So the whole idea would contradict the times of the Gentiles. That’s why Merrill Unger writes: “How futile for conservative scholars to ignore that fact and to seek to find literal fulfillment of those prophecies in history or in the church, when those predictions refer to events yet future and have no application whatever to the church.” [Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1981; reprint, Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 2002), 1643.]
How did Jesus teach us to pray? “Thy kingdom” what? “come.” Does that prayer make any sense if we’re already in the kingdom. Why would you pray for something to come if you’re already in it? What we’re praying for is the earthly kingdom to come that’s going to shatter the antichrist’s empire at the end of the times of the Gentiles. And until that time period arrives don’t expect the kingdom to manifest itself. So when folks try to argue for a spiritual form of the kingdom now, based on Matthew 13, is to contradict what Daniel revealed back in the sixth century concerning the times of the Gentiles.
And then finally, number four and with this I’m finished. How did this mystery form of the kingdom start? The guy who brought it into our circles is a man that I love like a father, he probably taught me more about theology than anybody living; he has since died so he’s with the Lord, but when I was in the classroom at Dallas Seminary he taught us the origin of this mystery form of the kingdom idea. Here’s how it started. Dr. Pentecost in Philadelphia was pastoring a church and in his evening study one of the great “kingdom now” theologians, a guy named Oswald T. Allis, would come in and listen to Dr. Pentecost teach. And then before Dr. Pentecost could end the study and give a proper greeting to him this guy would run out the door. And this happened over and over again. Finally Dr. Pentecost caught up to him and said why do you keep coming to my class when you don’t agree with anything I have to say. And Allis said I wanted to see how you guys (dispensationalists) tie the whole Bible together and what I’ve been able to understand is you have no unifying theme to the Bible.
Now I do think we have a unifying theme to the Bible, it’s the glory of God. But Pentecost, and this is what he told us in class, made him so angry to hear that from a theological opponent that he (watch this very carefully) he set out to prove… he set out to PROVE that the kingdom is the unifying theme of the Bible. Therefore he got to Matthew 13 and he tried to argue that the kingdom is present. Now where did he come up with this idea? He didn’t come up with it through careful exegesis of the biblical text (which is what we’ve been doing in this class); he came up with it because he was trying to throw a bone to the other side of the ledger, the other side of the equation. And I think even a man as skilled in the Bible as Dr. Pentecost, with that agenda… do you realize how dangerous it is to come to the Bible with your own agenda? You talk to anybody in forensics or criminal investigations that’s really good at what they do and what they’ll tell you is they do not try, when a crime has occurred they don’t try to come up with a theory for the case, in other words figure out who the bad guy is before all the evidence comes in. The danger is once you come up with your theory of who you think the bad guy is what are you going to try to do? Make the data fit your theory. So you try to remain as objective as you possibly can until the evidence clearly points to somebody and they become the accused, or later the convicted at that point.
So it is a very dangerous game to say I have an agenda and I’m going to come to the Bible and make it fit. And we’re all prone to this given our sinfulness and as much as I admire and respect J. Dwight Pentecost I believe that’s what he tried to do. He was so upset over what Oswald T. Allis was saying that he came to the Bible and tried to find the kingdom all the way through the Bible, even to the point of interpreting the word kingdom in Matthew 13:11 differently than how the word is used everywhere else.
So at that point Dr. Pentecost is not doing exegesis. What’s exegesis? Drawing out from the text what is there. He’s doing eisegesis, reading into the text what is not there. And that’s the origin of this mystery form of the kingdom. And Dr. Pentecost, because of his prominence convinced countless people that this mystery form of the kingdom was there. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, who I like also, teaches the mystery form of the kingdom. I myself, sitting in Dr. Pentecost’s class, believed in a mystery form of the kingdom and it really wasn’t until Thomas Ice, in a private conversation with him, and then Dr. Toussaint in classes I had with him straightened me out on the whole subject. Had I not been straightened out by those two individuals I’d be sitting here today teaching a mystery form of the kingdom based on Matthew 13.
Now progressive dispensationalists, Darrell Bock and his group, currently at Dallas seminary, who teaches that Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne, all they did is take the advances of J. Dwight Pentecost and build on them. See that? The next generation always outdoes what the former generation handed them. So because of this conversation that Pentecost had with Oswald T. Alyce he started to see a mystery form of the kingdom in Matthew 13 that frankly is not there, and now the next group has come along and built on that foundation and now they’re arguing that the kingdom is here, not just in mystery form but in Davidic form, and Jesus is reigning on David’s throne. If you send you sons and daughters to Dallas Seminary they’re going to teach you that carte blanche. And the whole concept is a myth; we’re not in the kingdom, there is no spiritual form of the kingdom currently, the kingdom is yet future so the mystery form of the kingdom is eisegesis, reading into the text what’s not there rather than exegesis, drawing out of the text what is there.
And I use names like Arnold Fruchtenbaum and J. Dwight Pentecost to illustrate that even good people can do it and if good people can do it and they’re at a much higher caliber than I am at then I could do it too, couldn’t I? So I have to really watch myself carefully to make sure I’m not saying things that I want the Bible to say. I need to be saying what the Bible actually says and adjust my view accordingly.
So the mystery form of the kingdom is not used. You have to hold inconsistently to the use of the word kingdom. You have to ignore the times of the Gentiles concept. And you have to move into eisegesis rather than exegesis. I went a little long but can you bear with me for just a moment. I just want to show you that I’m not totally crazy. Toussaint writes: ““It is often alleged that the Lord predicted a form of the kingdom for the Church age in His parables, particularly those in Matthew 13. For many years dispensationalists have referred to these parables as teaching a mystery form or a new form of the kingdom… However, nowhere in Matthew 13 or anywhere does the Lord Jesus use the term mystery form. Rather, He refers to the ‘mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’ (v. 11); that is, the Lord in these parables is giving to His disciples new truths about the kingdom that were hitherto unknown. It is strange .that so many dispensationalists claim a new form of the kingdom is introduced in Matthew 13. Dispensationalists argue strenuously for a literal, earthly kingdom that is the fulfillment of the Old Testament when John, Jesus, and His disciples announced its nearness. Then suddenly these dispensationalists change the meaning in Matthew 13.” [Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist,” in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism, ed. Herbert W. Bateman(Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 237.]
Alva J. McLain, my last quote. Alva J. McLain, in his classic book, The Greatness of the Kingdom, says, “The fiction of a present ‘kingdom of heaven’ established on earth in the Church, has been lent some support by an incautious terminology sometimes used in defining the ‘mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 13:11). The parables of this chapter, it is said carelessly by some, describe the kingdom of heaven as now existing in ‘mystery form’ during the Church age. Now it is true that these parables present certain conditions related to the Kingdom which are contemporaneous with the present age. But nowhere in Matthew 13 is the establishment of the Kingdom placed within this age. On the contrary, in two of these parables” which we’ve studied tonight, the parable of the wheat and the tares and the dragnet, “on the contrary in two of these parables the setting up of the Kingdom is definitely placed at the end of the ‘age’ (vss. 39 and 49 ASV, with 41-43).” [The Greatness of the Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 440-41.]
So all of that takes us to the end of Matthew 13. Matthew 13 is not talking about a present form of the kingdom; it’s talking about conditions that will prevail upon the earth where the kingdom’s [can’t understand word] while the kingdom remains in postponement. And next time we’re together we’re going to continue with the interadvent age but now focusing on the church age, the body of Christ, because a lot of people out there are trying to argue that the body of Christ is the kingdom and I’m going to try to show you that the body of Christ is a wonderful thing, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s not the long awaited kingdom. I apologize for going long tonight, we will stop at this point.