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God’s purposes center in His people and they can be summed up in the one word restoration which means putting things back in their right place and their right condition. I suggested to you that a double restoration has been taking place throughout the present century, a restoration of Israel to their land as a prelude to their restoration to their God through the Messiah, and the restoration of the church to its spiritual inheritance in Jesus Christ.
And then we focused on the restoration of the church and I pointed out that I believe there are three main phases of restoration which we have been witnessing. First of all, the spiritual gifts that brings us into the supernatural realm, without which we can’t be New Testament Christians. Second, the ministry gifts which are needed, Paul tells us, for the building of the church and to bring us all to unity. It’s not my purpose to dwell on these gifts but bear in mind that the church coming into unity is dependent upon the functioning of those ministry gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
What I am going to deal with now in this session and in the continuing sessions is another area of restoration which God has made real to me over the last year or so which is the restoration of the message, the message being the gospel. But in my opinion, there has been a watering down of the message and the great part of its impact has been lost. The scripture says in the end of Mark’s gospel that the apostles went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following. So, God confirms His word with the supernatural signs. It’s logical therefore that in order to get the supernatural attestation of God we need to be sure we have the word that He is prepared to confirm. In other words, the confirmation of the word is connected with our presenting the word that God wants presented.
Now, the standard phrase that’s been used historically is the word gospel. I probably don’t need to tell anybody here that the word gospel means good news. However, generally speaking, especially in the introduction of the ministry of Jesus and of the truth of the gospel, the phrase that’s normally used is not just the gospel but the gospel of the kingdom. Or, the gospel of the kingdom of God or the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. But we do not get the full message if we leave out the word kingdom.
So I want to take a little while now to share with you what I believe to be the implications of that phrase “the gospel” or “the good news of the kingdom.” And I think this is going to be unfamiliar to many of you. One of the reasons why it’s unfamiliar and rather difficult to apprehend for contemporary Christians is the fact that we are no longer used to kingdom as a means of government. We basically, most of us, have come from democracies. And even in my own country of origin, Britain, although there is still a royal family it’s essentially ornamental. It’s an institution, it’s not part of the governing process in most cases. What we have to realize is that in the time of the Bible the normal method of government was the government of a king. And so we’re not talking about something ornamental or an interesting archaic institution, we’re talking about the very practical reality of government.
And so when we talk about the good news of the kingdom of God we’re talking about the good news of the government of God. In a very practical sense. Not that we’re going to have some fancy presentation of God as some remote sovereign somewhere but that we are going to come under the government of God. That’s the crucial issue of this message and I think you would agree with me that basically it has been obscured by the church for many centuries. People who are, quote, evangelical or whatever you want to call them, when they talk about the gospel their minds turn to getting, quote, saved, having your sins forgiven, receiving eternal life and knowing that you’ll go to heaven when you die. Now that is indeed included in the gospel and it is tremendously important. But it is not the center of the message of the gospel as it’s presented in the New Testament, it’s an aberration. It’s off center. The message of the gospel is that God is willing to take over the government of the human race. I want to say that again because it’s so important. The good news is that God is willing to take over the government of the human race. If we ever talk about the gospel and do not include somewhere in it being under the government of God, we have missed the essence of the theme.
I’d like to turn now to a prophetic introduction given through the prophet Isaiah. I’ve got used to saying Isaiah, I’ve got to learn to say Isaiah again. I have a lot of trouble with that and the word schedule and schedule, too. So if I’m not totally consistent just be indulgent. Isaiah 9:6–7, this famous prediction of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to see the emphasis of it.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. . .”
This has always been understood throughout the centuries as referring to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. And notice how accurate it is, He was born as a child, a small infant, but He was given as the eternal Son of God. He did not become God’s son when He was born of the virgin Mary but He came as a child.
Now, what’s the first statement that’s made about this Messiah, this Savior? The government will be upon His shoulder. What’s the first thing that’s the essence of the good news? The government will be upon His shoulder, He will take over the government of humanity.
“. . . and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
I believe those are all aspects of His qualifications to govern humanity.
The next verse then returns to the theme of government.
“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.”
And the scripture makes it very clear that peace always depends upon good government. Without good government there can be no peace. And those who refuse God’s government cannot know peace. Isaiah says more than once there is no peace to the wicked, to the rebellious. Again, this is unfamiliar to contemporary thinking. Regrettably, I think many Christians rather tend to view the government as a hostile agency that’s responsible for a lot of problems. The truth of the matter is without government there can be no peace. It is absolutely vain for the nations to seek peace apart from government. The measure of the success of government is the measure of peace that it procures.
Going back to verse 7:
“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. . .”
Once His government is set up it’s going to go on forever and ever increasing.
Now notice what kind of government.
“. . . upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom. . .”
He’s going to govern as a king. Not as a president, not as a prime minister, not as a dictator but as a king. And then it says:
“. . . to order it and establish it with judgment and justice. . .”
And in connection with this message of the kingdom the first word that is always brought forth after the mention of the kingdom is the word justice or righteousness. And directly associated with that is peace. So we have these facts that without government there can be no peace. And that government must provide justice. And where there is justice or righteousness there will be peace.
And then it goes on to say:
“. . . from that time forward even forever.”
And then the concluding phrase is God’s guarantee it’s going to happen. Whatever may be the reaction or response of men, God says:
“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
The Lord is so totally committed to this that He guarantees it’s going to happen.
Now that’s a picture of what Jesus came to do. He came to take over the government of the human race. This is very logical if you analyze the source of all human problems. It goes back to one single fact which is that man rejected the government of God. He rebelled against God and refused His government. And to that one source can be traced all the evils and all the sufferings and all the problems of humanity from that day to this. They all have one single cause. And the gospel or the good news is so logical that it provides the remedy that will undo the problems that came from that cause. The remedy is coming back under the government of God.
So really, to talk about receiving the gospel or being saved or becoming a Christian or whatever you want to say, without coming under the government of God is to deceive yourself. You’re missing the whole central thought and purpose. You cannot disassociate salvation from God’s government. See, if we begin to think that way we will respond very differently in many matters. Our attitude to many things will be different. We’ll become a governable people. I think it’s hard to conceive of any people less governable at the moment than the church of Jesus Christ. Somebody once in a meeting of ministers prayed, “God, send us prophets.” And another minister said, “God, don’t. Because if you do we’ll kill them!” Really, I doubt whether there’s any group of people less governable on earth today than the church of Jesus Christ. One great basic reason is that we’ve had a wrong conception of what God is requiring. The good news is that God is going to govern us. If we’re not prepared to be governed we have no right to the good news. We cannot disassociate the government of God from the good news.
Now, let’s turn on to the New Testament and see how this prophecy of Isaiah came to be fulfilled in Matthew 2:1–6.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?”
That’s His first introduction to humanity. Not as a savior, although that He is, but as the king.
“For we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Now note the reaction of established authority to this message because it’s almost invariably the same. They get very disturbed when they hear of a new government.
“When Herod the king heard these things he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”
Why was he troubled? What was his motivation? He began to realize there was a threat to his government, you understand? And if you know the character of Herod, that would frighten him more than anything. History confirms again and again that the type of action he took was typical. He went out to murder every possible claimant to that title.
“When he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together he inquired of them where the Christ [the Messiah] was to be born.”
There was no ignorance about that, everybody knew.
“So they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet, ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE NOT THE LEAST AMONG THE RULERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME A RULER, WHO SHALL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’“
Notice again what has He come to be? A ruler, that’s right.
Well, that reaction of secular rulership to the news that there’s another king has really not changed over the centuries. It still makes them very nervous. If we don’t make secular authority nervous we’re probably not delivering the right message, you understand?
I want to come to the initial proclamation of the kingdom. And the passages that I’m going to read now present the introduction of Jesus and His ministry. This is the official account of His coming and the opening of His ministry. And I want you to notice that the theme all the way through is the kingdom of God is at hand. We’ll turn to Matthew 3 and read verses 1 and 2.
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent, [why?] for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
What was the message? The kingdom of heaven is at hand. There was nothing specific about forgiveness of sins. The primary central thrust is the kingdom or the government of God is at hand. Now, all the Jewish people were expecting a ruler who would restore to them their independence and their rule over their own land. So they didn’t have any difficulty about John’s meaning. They might not welcome the message but they certainly understood what he was saying. The long promised ruler is at hand.
And then we read on in Matthew 4:17. This is the first public declaration of Jesus. These are the first words He actually preached. Matthew 4:17:
“From that time [that was the time after John the Baptist was put in prison] Jesus began to preach...”
I prefer the word proclaim. When you see the word preach you need to bear in mind that it’s a verb derived from the noun for a herald. It’s to make a herald’s proclamation.
“He began to proclaim and say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
He took up exactly where John the Baptist had begun. There’s no variation. This is the message. You can turn for confirmation to Mark 1:14–15, which again is a parallel description of the opening of the ministry of Jesus. Mark 1:14–15:
“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, The time is fulfilled...”
And that referred primarily, I think, to the prophecies of Daniel which had set a specific time for the coming of the kingdom.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel [or believe the good news].”
What’s the good news? The kingdom of God is at hand. That’s very clear.
Now, the initial requirement for those who wanted to benefit from the message summed up in one word that I dwelt on at some length in our previous session. Repent, that’s right. Unvarying. Wherever the message comes the first requirement is repent. Why? Let’s turn back for a moment to the prophet Isaiah, chapter 53, just one verse, verse 6. Isaiah 53:6, familiar words to many.
“All we like sheep have gone astray...”
That’s true of every one of us here today.
“. . . we have turned every one to his own way.”
Notice that’s the universal guilt of the human race. That’s the basic problem of humanity. We have not all committed murder or adultery or robbery or got drunk or been immoral but there’s one thing we have all done. We have all turned each to his own way. And then the prophet continues:
“The Lord laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.”
What is turning to your own way? It’s iniquity. It’s a very, very strong word for evildoing. I think a better translation in modern English would be rebellion. That’s the root problem of the human race, we are all rebels. But thank God the message is that God laid on Jesus on the cross the rebellion of all humanity and all the evil consequences of rebellion. This is a message that I’ll be dealing with maybe in Calvary Chapel. I can’t turn to it today but this is the essence of what was accomplished on the cross. God visited on Jesus the rebellion of all humanity and every evil consequence of rebellion, that in return the good due to the sinless obedience of Jesus might be made available to everyone who repents and believes. That’s the essence of what was accomplished at the cross, it was a divinely ordained exchanged. The evil due to us came upon Jesus that the good due to Jesus might be available to Jesus. And in that one act God made provision for all the needs of all humanity for all time: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, material, financial, eternal. All was provided for in that one supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. But the essence of the problem was rebellion. That’s where God dealt with it.
So, why do we all have to repent? Because we’ve all been rebels, that’s right. There is no way into the kingdom of God without repentance. Repentance, I’ve already said, is not an emotion. It may be accompanied by emotion but it is a decision. It means in modern terminology that we say, “God, I’ve been doing my own thing, living to please myself, setting my own standards, setting my own objectives, consulting you maybe once or twice when it suited me. But essentially I’ve been pleasing myself. I’ve come to the end of that, I won’t do it anymore. Here I am, God, I submit without reservation to you. Tell me what to do and I will do it.” That’s repentance. Anything short of that really you don’t qualify for the kingdom. There are a lot of, quote, saved people who really don’t have anything of the kingdom in their lives because they’ve never really repented.
Not merely did Jesus proclaim the kingdom but He demonstrated the kingdom. We’ll turn back to Matthew 4:23–24, this is the beginning of His actual ministry beyond teaching and preaching. Matthew 4:23–24.
“Now Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom.”
I prefer to translate that proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. What was the good news? The kingdom.
“And healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then his fame went throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon possessed [I prefer to say demonized], epileptics and paralytics, and he healed them.”
Here’s the crux of what I want to convey to you. The message determines the results. When He preached the kingdom He demonstrated the rule and authority of God. And there are three things that cannot survive in confrontation with the kingdom. Sin, sickness and demons. Every time humanity was confronted by the kingdom through Jesus, sin, sickness and demons experienced a manifest and total defeat.
See, I was asked to speak on the ministry of healing and I’m very happy to do it. But over the last year or two I’ve come to see that much of what we call the healing ministry is doing something that Jesus said no sensible person would ever do. It’s taking a piece of material from a new garment and putting a patch on an old garment. He said what will happen is the new material will simply tear away from the old and make the hole worse. What do I mean by that? I mean the people come out of a self pleasing, carnal life where they give God no more than suits them on Sunday morning or whatever time it may be. They come to a, quote, healing service and in that maybe two or three hours they expect God to put a little patch of His supernatural blessing on their own self pleasing lifestyle. It doesn’t work. It’s not ever ordained to work that way. The message of healing is for the people that receive the kingdom. And outside of the kingdom there is no promise of healing.
It’s so dramatic, this. Look back at those verses. He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom. How did they know the kingdom had come? Any man could have stood up and said the kingdom of God is at hand. What was the evidence? That He healed all kinds of disease and all kinds of sickness.
And then it says in the next verse, I think it’s very specific in the terminology of those days it specifies every kind of physical, mental and emotional problem that humanity could suffer. Just look at the list.
“They brought to him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments...”
Torments would be maybe mental, emotional, physical. I always think about arthritis as a torment.
“. . . those who were demonized, epileptics, paralytics. . .”
I think in ancient terminology that was the whole range of human suffering. And the kingdom dealt with them all. No form of demonic power or sin or sickness could coexist with the kingdom of God. See, that’s a sensible message. That makes sense.
Let me turn back to the last prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi, just for a moment. Chapter 4. You don’t have to go far from Matthew to Malachi in the Bible. Malachi 4:2:
“But to you who fear my name [God is speaking], the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in its wings. . .”
Sun, S-U-N. Please note those people who write up transcripts for songs that we sing, it’s S-U-N. I don’t know how many places I’ve seen son of righteousness, S-O-N. It’s S-U-N. Okay. You do know the difference, don’t you, between S-U-N and S-O-N. Okay.
Who is the sun of righteousness? Jesus, that’s right. It’s one of His great titles. Notice what He is. He’s the sun of righteousness that brings what? Healing, that’s right.
Now, in the natural universe for us on earth there’s only one source of light, life and heat, and that’s the sun, isn’t it? It’s very clear. Light in the person of Jesus brings righteousness and healing. Darkness, the force of the enemy, brings sin and sickness.
Turn back to Matthew 4:23–24, you have the New Testament commentary. When the sun of righteousness shone forth, neither sin nor sickness nor demons could stand before Him. That’s a glorious message. That’s something to get excited about. The mere fact that you go to heaven when you die is wonderful, but to me it’s not so exciting. I’m more interested right now what’s going to happen before I die. If the purpose of the gospel was just to get you to heaven when you die, well, there’s a lot of things that happen that don’t really make sense.
You heard about the two Methodist—this is in the old days when Methodists were really Methodists. One was a preacher, the other was a crack marksman. So the preacher would go round preaching and calling people to repentance and salvation and you know good old fashioned Methodist calls, they really had to forsake everything and give their lives without reservation to the Lord Jesus Christ. When the preacher was absolutely certain that they were really saved, his brother stepped forward and shot them. They never had any backsliders you understand! Well, if the only purpose of the gospel is to get you to heaven, why not go there quickly?
Like the man who asked the preacher once, “Will I go to heaven is I eat pork?” And he said, “Yes, you’ll probably get there sooner.” I’m not opposed to eating—I don’t do it—but I’m not opposed to it. Anyhow, let’s not get into that issue, we’ll never get out again.
But you see what I’m suggesting to you is unintentionally we’ve been presenting people with a caricature of the gospel. It’s got very little to do with the real New Testament message. It’s wonderful as far as it goes but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Now let’s look on to the next thought which I have is the prayer for the kingdom. Our praying and our preaching should be related, shouldn’t they? It’s inconsistent to preach one thing and pray another. Jesus left no room for inconsistency. Having proclaimed the kingdom He taught His disciples how to pray. We turn to Matthew 6:9–10:
“In this manner, therefore pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.”
That’s the address. We could dwell on that just for a moment because it’s so succinct but perfect in its wording. In the Greek language and various other languages when you say “our Father” the first word that comes is not our but father. So you begin with the most crucial aspect of your relationship. You’re coming as a child to a father. That makes all the difference to your praying, you understand, that you’re praying to a father. Then you put in our just to remind you that God has got a lot of other children besides yourself, you understand. You cannot afford to be self centered. Having done that we adopt the right attitude which is reverence or worship. Hallowed, holy be your name. Okay, that’s the essential approach.
Having made the right approach we are now ready to actually start praying or making petitions. The first petition is for what? Your kingdom come. All right? Understand that takes precedence over all your personal needs. Your daily bread, the forgiveness of your sins, all the rest, they come later on. But what’s priority number one? The coming of God’s kingdom. I suggest to you that you’ll only be praying fully in line with the will of God when your prayers have the same motivation and the same priority. The first thing that matters is the coming of God’s kingdom. I think you’d agree with me that will adjust the praying of many Christians. I think I could say most. We’re so self centered we focus on our own little needs. Basically I would say contemporary western Christendom has the attitude that God exists for our benefit. We do not expect to accommodate ourselves to God, we expect God to accommodate Himself to us. That is a total misconception of the relationship. Bring it down to its minimum, God becomes a kind of heavenly automatic vending machine. If you find the right slot and put the right coin in you can get out either Coke or Fanta or chips. That is not an accurate picture of God, you understand? God is not going to change. He’s immutable. If anybody is going to change, guess who it’s going to be? Us, that’s right. See, as a result of the fall man was imprisoned in self-centeredness. Everything revolved around his little word and he was shut up within the prison of his own physical senses. And salvation delivers us from that. It breaks those bands and sets us free. And it restores us to a God centered view where God is in the center and we are in the peripheral. Many Christians are like the people in the Middle Ages who thought that the universe revolved around them. Why did they think that? Because that was where they lived. We’ve learned that the earth revolves around the sun, isn’t that right? And that’s how it is with us. We revolve around the sun of righteousness, He doesn’t revolve around us. He’s the center.
Let’s look a little further in this prayer, the rest of verse 10:
“. . . your kingdom come, your will be done [where?] on earth as it is in heaven.”
Where does God want His kingdom to come? To earth, that’s right. See, again I think we’ve often had the attitude that the gospel is a way to get us from earth to heaven. And we think in terms of I’ll fly away, et cetera. Which is all right. I mean, I like that song but provided you put it in its right perspective. The truth of the matter is if you study the New Testament it’s an amazing revelation because God’s purpose is not so much to get us to heaven as to get heaven to us. The final theme in the end of the book of Revelation is what? The New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven to earth. We wouldn’t have thought that way, you understand. So, if you will let God be the center, you’ll get a revelation that will affect you that you’ll never get while you’re thinking in terms of being self centered. Can you see that?
Let’s just say those two verses again. In fact, why don’t we all say them, just verses 9 and 10, just a prayer. Let’s say it the old way, everybody is familiar with thee and thy.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Now, you’re going to be a hypocrite from now on if you go out and live to yourself, you see. Because you have said my first priority in living is the coming of God’s kingdom. I put that before all my own personal problems and needs.
Let’s turn on to the promises to the people that do that. The same chapter, chapter 6, verse 33. Matthew 6:33:
“But seek first [what?] the kingdom of God and His righteousness. . .”
Notice there’s no righteousness apart from the kingdom of God, you understand. You cannot be righteous outside of the kingdom because you’re a rebel. There’s no righteousness for rebels. The only place you can be righteous is under God’s government. You’re either a rebel or under the government of God. So we have to seek first not righteousness but His kingdom. As a result, righteousness comes.
And then what? All these other needs in your life will be met. If what? You’ve got your priorities right. Do you believe that? You don’t have to say amen, I’m just asking you do you really believe that. If you really believe that are you living that way?
When I was a younger preacher—I’m still young but when I was younger—I spent a lot of time praying for money, which I needed, believe me. At that time my wife and I had eight adopted daughters and our grocery bills and other things like that were expensive. In fact, I can remember buying my razor blades one at a time because I didn’t have enough money for a packet. Well, I believe in praying for money, I think it’s very legitimate. But as time has gone on I’ve learned that if I will focus on the kingdom of God I’ll get a lot more with a lot less prayer for money, do you understand? It works, it really works. If you’ll line up with God’s priorities, God will take care of you. I’m not unpractical. I mean, I’ve got both feet on the earth. But it is totally practical. I’m sure there are many of you here who’ve experienced that. I want to encourage you, step out in faith and try it. Faith, not presumption. You’ve got to have clear leading from God before you move. But I can say with all my weaknesses and many times that I have not exercised the faith I should have exercised, I have proved that scripture for many years. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and things will be added to you.
I also have to say that God is pretty generous in the long run. You’ll be tested but in the long run I’ve told ministers who get thrown out of their churches you’ll probably find that God is more generous than the church Board. So I want to testify to His faithfulness, I want to say it works. But that’s the principle of kingdom living, is make your primary aim in life the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Obey what God tells you to do and God will take care of your earthly needs. That’s His promise.
Now, not merely did Jesus proclaim this message but when He trained His disciples and sent them out as apostles, He gave them precisely the same message and listen, precisely the same anticipation. Okay? It didn’t change, there was no lower level. Jesus wasn’t on one level with one message and the disciples on a lower level with a lower message. There was one message and one attestation for all who proclaimed. Turn to Matthew 10 and we’ll read verses 1–8.
“And when he [Jesus] had called his twelve disciples to him, he gave them power over unclean spirits. . .”
That’s the first qualification for going out to present the good news, is power over unclean spirits. No one in the New Testament was ever sent out to proclaim the gospel without being given authority over evil spirits. You cannot find an example.
“. . . and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”
Doesn’t that sound familiar to you? Where have we been reading that? Matthew 4.
“Now the names of the twelve apostles are these [we won’t bother to read the names, verse 5:] These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying, Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter the city of the Samaritans...”
Why not? Many people don’t understand that. Because in God’s program the kingdom was first of all to be offered to one nation that had been specially prepared to receive the kingdom. That nation was Israel, that’s right. So the kingdom was not offered to any other nation until after the death and resurrection of Jesus, you understand. He explicitly directed them don’t go. And when a Syrophonecian woman came to Him for her demon possessed daughter He kind of brushed her off. He said it isn’t fit to take the children’s bread and give it to the little dogs because she was not in the nation for whom the kingdom was being offered. You understand? She was so persistent she got everything she wanted and a little bit more. But you understand why He treated her differently, because His commission from the Father was proclaim it to the Jewish people. We’re going to follow this up later and see what happened. But I just want to point that out to you.
Now, what were they to do? Verse 6:
“. . . go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, [proclaim] saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
See, the message hadn’t changed. And because the kingdom of heaven is at hand, what have you got to do to prove it?
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. . .”
Does that sound familiar? It never changes. It’s not the person, it’s the message.
“. . . freely you have received, freely give.”
Jesus said you didn’t pay anything to get it, don’t charge anything for it. I love that passage. You say, Brother Prince, have you seen the dead raised? Yes, I have. Definitely. In Kenya in East Africa where I worked for five years I personally saw two of my students raised from death. But many, many African preachers, simple African preachers could testify of seeing people raised from death. I tell you the thing I have problems with is cleansing lepers. I do know one leper that was gloriously cleansed but I have to say that’s the area where I have problems. I believe in raising the dead. You don’t raise all the dead, Jesus didn’t raise all the dead, but I do believe that it’s part of the testimony of the kingdom that we raise the dead. We demonstrate the defeat of death as well as every other evil.
I passionately believe in casting out demons. I believe in healing the sick. I wish I could do it a lot better but at least I’m doing it.
The next point, and this is vital, is that once the kingdom is proclaimed and demonstrated it will automatically bring out into the open the existence of an opposing rival kingdom, which is the kingdom of Satan. If you haven’t brought the kingdom of Satan into manifestation you can be virtually certain you have not really proclaimed the message. Because the proclamation and demonstration of the message will always bring the kingdom of Satan out into the open.
When I was in educational work in East Africa years back the education department of the government of Kenya sent around a film entitled “The Rival Kingdom”. It was a very impressive film. It’s message was that man just succeeds in keeping ahead of insects but that his life and well-being are continuously threatened by a rival kingdom of insects. One of the big problems in those days in Kenya was malaria. One person died every ten seconds in the word of malaria somewhere. That’s an insect. And many others.
Well, that kind of opened my thinking to the fact that there is another rival kingdom. It’s not a kingdom of insects, it’s a kingdom of satanic beings, evil spirits, rebellious angels. And that wherever the kingdom of God really comes into manifestation there will be a corresponding manifestation of the kingdom of Satan.
Now let’s look in Matthew 12:22:
“Then one was brought to him who was demonized blind and mute, and he healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.”
You understand what that’s saying: this man was blind, he couldn’t see; mute, he couldn’t speak, because of an evil spirit. And when the evil spirit was driven out the man could speak and see.
Well, just two nights ago, Saturday night, in Honolulu a dear precious Swiss lady 86 years old, speaking nothing but French came in our healing service brought by her son. The son said, “This is my mother. She’s 86. She’s lost her eyesight, she’s virtually blind. She wants prayer.” And the lady said to me, “I’ve had four miracles.” I said, “I think you’re going to have the fifth.” And then I thought I’m going to put this thing to the test. I mean, I wasn’t experimenting, I felt prompted to do it so I said we’ll cast out the spirit of blindness. And Ruth and I did and something came over that lady and we sat her down in a chair and she began to shake and sob. And her son was there trying to comfort her and stop her shaking and sobbing. We said don’t stop her, that’s the thing we want to get out. You understand, get it out. Let it out, don’t quiet her down. So, we went on with the meeting praying for other people and about ten minutes later, not more, the man brought his mother and she said in French, “I see your eyes.” And the man said, “My mother’s sight has been restored.” I thought, “It works.” Praise God it works. Amen.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, that should be happening continually. In the same meeting a man came, deaf in both ears. I put my fingers in his ears, prayed and said, “How about it?” He could hear with both ears. I mean, it was just instant.
I’m kind of doodling around because we’ve got near the end of our time. That’s my problem. We’ll go on in Matthew 12, we won’t finish this but we’ll take it up next time. Verse 23:
“And all the multitude were amazed and said, Could this be the Son of David? When the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
That’s a title of Satan. In other words, they accused Jesus of being in league with Satan, you understand? A terrible thing to say.
“But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?”
Notice Satan has a kingdom. You must understand that. Going on:
“If I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?”
Exorcism was practiced among the Jewish people in that day.
“Therefore, they shall be your judges. [Now listen, this is the verse:] But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
See that? What is that? That’s the clash of two invisible kingdoms. The kingdom of God represented by Jesus, the kingdom of Satan represented by the demons. And when the demons had to yield to the authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, that was the demonstration that the kingdom of God had triumphed over the kingdom of Satan. I believe that’s why of all things Satan dislikes the ministry of deliverance the most, because it’s the open demonstration of two things. The reality of the two invisible kingdoms and the fact that the kingdom of God has preeminence and victory over the kingdom of Satan. So we’ll close at that point and continue, God willing, in our next session. We’ll go back to Matthew 12.