Matt 10:42                The Providence of God in Action                        10/14/2012  

Š      The Gospel Must Be Preached (Acts 20:26-28, 4:24-28, Matt 18:7)

 

 

 

 

#1.      The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand (Matt 10:1-7, Heb 6:4-6, 10:38)

 

 

 

 

Š      Lost Sheep of the House of Israel (Matt 10:5-6, 15:21-28)

 

 

 

 

#2.      A Prophet’s Reward (Matt 10:40-42, John 1:12-13, Rom 3:11, 9:16, Gal 1:8, Eph 2:10, Phil 2:13, Rom 3:10, Acts 16:14-15, Matt 16:27)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.      A Cup of Cold Water (Matt 10:42, Isa 60:10-13, 61:5-6, Ecc 7:20, Rom 8:8, Mark 10:28-30)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 20:26 (2X). The title of this sermon is, The Providence of God in Action (2X). What is the providence of God? To understand this concept we first have to go to “the Counsel of God.” What is the counsel of God? The counsel of God is the will of God, or the purpose of God. It is the will of God that the Gospel must be preached.

Š      The Gospel Must Be Preached (Acts 20:26-28, 4:24-28, Matt 18:7)

We read about the counsel of God in Acts 20:27. The apostle Paul was preaching to the elders of the church at Ephesus, and he speaks to his defense in Acts 20:26-28,

Acts 20:26-28, “26  Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Verse 26 is quite surprising, for we did believe that Saul of Tarsus had blood on his hands. He consented to the death of Stephen, he persecuted the church with great cruelty, and of those who followed the Lord Jesus he dragged men and women into prison. He was determined to stamp out the church. But now he had become a faithful follower of Christ. How could he say that he was pure from the blood of all men? The answer lies in the forgiveness of sins which the Lord Jesus had purchased for him at the cross. And so, Saul of Tarsus became a Christian, and he was sent out to preach the true Gospel to the nations. As long as he preached the true Gospel he was pure from the blood of all men. But if he messed up and preached to them a false gospel he would be guilty of the blood of those to whom he preached that false gospel. But the apostle Paul did not mess up; he preached the true Gospel, as he said in verse 27, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” In other words, “I have declared unto you everything in the will of God pertaining to your salvation; everything in the purpose of God for the salvation of many; everything in the counsel of God pertaining to your salvation; everything in the plans of God for your salvation. Briefly in today’s language, the counsel of God is the plan of God for the entire history of this world, including His plans for you and me and for everyone else in this world, both for His elect children as well as for those who will never become saved. This concept is also known as the sovereignty of God. He is truly sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth. God has made all His plans, all His counsel, before the foundation of the world. Only an infinitely wise God can do all of this, for our God is omniscient; He knows and He sees everything in history.

Now, what is the providence of God? Providence means “to take providential care” or “to make provision for a thing” or “to make provision for a course of events.” Briefly in today’s language, the providence of God represents the hands of God; the hands that carry out the tasks that God intended to do in history according to the plans of God which He has determined before the foundation of the world. For example, please turn to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 4:24 (2X). We have here a passage which contains both the counsel of God and the hands of God. The apostles Peter and John were threatened in the council of the Sanhedrin. Then they returned to the church and said in Acts 4:24-28,

Acts 4:24-28, “24  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25  Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28  For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” Do you see that in verse 28? For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. It is in this context the Lord Jesus told us in Matt 18:7, “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Even though God incorporates the sins of the wicked in His plans because He is aware of the counsels of the wicked, God must never be charged with being the originator of the sins of the wicked. And so, this is what we must keep in mind when we are going to speak of “The Providence of God in Action” in Matt 10.

#1.      The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand (Matt 10:1-7, Heb 6:4-6, 10:38)

Please turn now to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 10:1 (2X). Here in Matt 10 the Lord Jesus sent out His twelve apostles to preach the Gospel to all those that were spiritually in bondage to Satan, and to heal all those sicknesses that show their bondage to demonic possession.

Matt 10:1-7 1  And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3  Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4  Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. 5  These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Did Judas Iscariot also preach the Gospel and perform these miracles. The Lord Jesus said: Yes! The Lord Jesus gave all twelve disciples power over unclean spirits. He gave all twelve power to heal all manner of diseases. Let us compare this with the Lord’s conditional statement in Hebrews chapter 6. Please turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 6:4 (2X). Remember that God said several times in the chapters dealing with the Cities of Refuge, “The (deliberate) murderer shall surely be put to death.” That is why God says in Heb 10:38, “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” We read in Heb 6:

Heb 6:4-6, “4  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5  And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6  If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” You can see how this applies to Judas Iscariot. He has tasted the heavenly gift, and he has tasted the good word of God, and yet he fell away. But there are many more people who were of the inner circle close to the center of instruction, and yet they fell away. And so we must distinguish presumptuous sin from the accidental sin. The message from the Lord Jesus was: The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and thus the judgment of God is near. Therefore be careful that we do not fall into presumptuous sin, for God has no pleasure in those who sin presumptuously. Now carefully consider verses 5 and 6,

Š      Lost Sheep of the House of Israel (Matt 10:5-6, 15:21-28)

The lord Jesus said to His disciples, “5 Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Has the Lord Jesus now become a racist? Consider this carefully, for it shapes our understanding of the doctrines of Jews and Gentiles. Most pastors will tell you that we must understand the Bible historically. Is that really so? Please turn in your Bibles to chapter 15 of the Gospel of Matthew. We read in Matt 15:21-28,

Matt 15:21-28, “21  Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22  And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23  But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25  Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28  Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Why did the Lord Jesus go into the territory of the Gentiles? Earlier He indicated that this was forbidden territory. What business did the Lord Jesus have in this Gentile country? Did He not say that they should preach only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? But now, at the end of this story we discover that this Syro-Phoenician woman and her daughter were delivered from the power of the demons they were subject to. What does this mean? It means that this woman and her daughter were two individuals who belonged to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. An important conclusion: The Bible must not be read historically like any other book in the world, but the Bible must be understood spiritually. The Lord Jesus was not a racist. His instructions should be understood in harmony with the rest of the Bible. Only then can we have the truth of the Word of God.

There is much in this chapter to talk about. But today I would like to talk about the last two verses.

#2.      A Prophet’s Reward (Matt 10:40-42, John 1:12-13, Rom 3:11, 9:16, Gal 1:8, Eph 2:10, Phil 2:13, Rom 3:10, Acts 16:14-15, Matt 16:27)

Please turn again to the tenth chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 10:40 (2X). The entire chapter of Matt 10 deals with evangelism. But now, in the end of the chapter, the Lord Jesus spoke about the people’s response to the Gospel that was preached unto them. We read in Matt 10,

Matt 10:40-42, “40  He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41  He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

Can you see the wonderful promise in verse 40? The Lord Jesus speaks here about receiving Him. Now, the Bible has much to say about receiving Christ. Please turn to the Gospel According to John, John 1:12 (2X). Let us go on this side track for a few minutes. We read in John 1:12-13, 

John 1:12-13, “12  But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: 13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” What is verse 12 saying? It says that all those who received Christ in their soul, which are all those who believed on His name, became sons of God. But who were those who believed on His name? Nobody believes on His name. “There is NONE that seeketh after God” (Rom 3:11). And thus anyone who has come to believe on His name, anyone who has come to receive Christ in his soul, was given this ability by the grace of God as a free gift. That is why the next verse goes on to say, “Which were born,” and this refers to the event of becoming “Born Again”. And so, what is verse 13 saying? All those who received Christ in their soul, all those who become saved, all those who were “Born Again,” were not Born Again because they were of the right bloodline, like born of good Jewish stock, and they were not Born Again because they decided to believe (the will of the flesh), and they were not Born Again because their father demanded that they should be baptized (the will of man), but they were Born Again because of the will of God. And you see, this completely harmonizes with other parts of the Bible, for God says in Rom 9:16, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” This alone is the reason why anyone receives Christ in their soul. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace. This is the true Gospel. And if anyone tries to bring you another gospel, God says in Gal 1:8, “let him be accursed.” Let us now return to Matt 10:40 (2X). And so, what have we learned so far? We have learned that the sovereignty of God is lifted up on top of everything else. People are not saved because they decided to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but they decided to believe because the counsel of God, the will of God, decided that God the Holy Spirit should prompt the sinner to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, all our good works are gifts from God which God foreordained that we should do them (Eph 2:10). And this is how we should interpret everything else in this chapter about evangelism. People are not saved because we evangelize them, people are not saved because they have taken the right action to do this, and to do that, but people are saved because God the Holy Spirit prompts them and us to do the right things and be saved; “For it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). This is what brings glory to God. All the other gospels are insults in the face of God. Yes, the free-will gospel is an insult to God; it is an abomination in the nose of God.

Paraphrased here in Matt 10:40 the Lord Jesus said that those people who gladly receive the evangelist whom the Lord has sent to them, are receiving Him personally, which really means that they also receive the Father who has sent the Lord Jesus. How does that work out? Are those people saved because they received the evangelist? NO! God the Holy Spirit has prompted them to receive the evangelist and to believe the message he brings, and this leads them to salvation. We must always be careful not to be sucked up in a gospel where our works determine what God shall do, for this is an insult to God. Essentially, Matt 10:41 is a repeat of the same message of Matt 10:40. Then who is the righteous man mentioned in verse 41? God says in Rom 3:10, “There is NONE righteous, NO, NOT ONE.” Christ is the only righteous man who ever existed on this earth after the fall of Adam. Here in verse 41 the Lord Jesus Christ is represented by the Prophet and by the Righteous Man. No one else will fit the role of the Righteous Man in this parable of Matt 10:41, and no one else will fit the role of the Prophet who is honored in the name of a Prophet. We can think of examples in the lives of Elijah and Elisha, and we can think of the rewards that the women received as a token of gratitude for their faithful service to the prophets. But these rewards pale in significance to the reward of salvation.

We can also think of Lydia in Acts 16:14. Let us see that event. Please turn to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 16:14 (2X). Lydia was a faithful follower of the apostle Paul. We read in Acts 16:14-15,

Acts 16:14-15, “14  And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15  And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” What was the result of her encounter with the apostle Paul? The result was that she became saved, and so we see that the Prophet’s reward is the gift of salvation.

And so, when we consider Matt 10:41 both the prophet’s reward and the righteous man’s reward refer to the gift of salvation from Christ. Those are enormously great rewards. These are not rewards given as a result of doing good works for the Lord; these are free gifts from the Lord. Throughout Matt 10 we see the providence of God in action. Give all the glory to God, for He has done all the work. We can see this again in Matt 16:27. Let us look there a moment. Here in Matt 16:27 the Lord Jesus speaks about the rewards He is giving to all mankind at the end of time. We read in Matt 16:27 (2X),

Matt 16:27, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to His works.” What rewards shall the Lord give to every man? Shall he give each one the gift of salvation? Absolutely Not! The Lord said in Matt 7:13-14 that the majority of mankind shall receive damnation, and only a minority of mankind shall receive eternal life with Christ in heaven. And according to Matt 16:27 these results are all His works. The Lord decides who will go to heaven, for salvation is a free gift from God, and thus it is a work that the Lord gives us. In addition, there are many who do not enter into heaven. Whose fault is that? It cannot be God’s fault because God is not the originator of man’s sin. But man came into the world as wicked as the devil. Their own sins and their own unwillingness to submit to Christ made them inherit hell as a reward for their sins. And because the Lord passed them by Christ never paid for their sins, and thus they are obligated to pay for their own sins in hell. Can this also be ascribed to Christ’s works? Absolutely yes! For example we read in 2Thes 2:11-12, “11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe The Lie “12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” And so you see that this also is Christ’s work.

#3.      A Cup of Cold Water (Matt 10:42, Isa 60:10-13, 61:5-6, Ecc 7:20, Rom 8:8, Mark 10:28-30)

“And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Now, this is again an interesting verse. Who is the Lord referring to when He says, “One of these little ones?” He is referring to the army of Christians who roam the earth to bring the Gospel to whosoever wants to hear, to bring the Gospel to Kenya and to other parts of the earth that were forgotten in times past. We are only little ones in His eyes. It means we are like children in His eyes. But we are cared for by His providence, and that is a whole lot better than God’s care for all those who are not protected under His wings. But how are we cared for? Where do we find Scriptures about this? Please turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 60:10 (2X). Here in Isa 60 and in Isa 61 we find Scriptures which indicate that God’s providence shall prompt the heathen to take care of us. For example, they shall give us jobs, they shall give us transportation, they shall give us food, and so on. We read in Isa 60:10-13,

Isa 60:10-13, “10  And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. 11  Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. 12  For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. 13  The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.” Although these verses also have a spiritual meaning, it cannot be denied that God’s providence is at work here. Please turn the page to Isa 61:5-6,

Isa 61:5-6, “5  And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. 6  But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.” There are many more passages where God tells us that the unsaved shall supply our needs, for God the Holy Spirit shall cause all our needs to be filled. Please return to Matt 10:42,

Matt 10:42, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones (of mine) a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Even a little act of kindness, like offering a cup of cold water, shall be rewarded by the Lord. But how shall it be rewarded? Many people believe that after Christ has come for the second time He will give out special rewards for those who have done good works in this life. But what if those good works are all tainted with sin? Will Christ reward those also? We read in Ecc 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” And God says in Rom 8:8, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” In other words, there is no way in the world that the unsaved could please God with anything that they do, not even a cup of cold water to one of the saints. Is it possible that God refers to one of the saints offering a cup of cold water to another saint? That is also not possible for after Christ has returned all the saints will be raptured and we will inherit the New Heaven and the New Earth, which is an inheritance so infinitely great that no good work on earth would make any difference. And thus, the reward for the cup of cold water must refer to a reward that is given to one of the saints here on earth in this life. Please turn to the Gospel of Mark, Mark 10:28 (2X). We read here about the apostle Peter having the same concerns for all the good works that he has done.

Mark 10:28-30, “28  Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29  And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”

Peter said, Lord, we have left everything and have followed Thee; what then will we receive in the life hereafter? Paraphrased the Lord Jesus said, “You shall receive a hundredfold more than you have given, but you shall receive it in this time, here on earth. In the family of God is where you will receive these blessings: Houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, and do not forget you will also receive severe persecutions, and you will receive in the life hereafter the common denominator, which is eternal life with Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth. And so, in the life hereafter you will receive what everyone of the saints will receive: An infinitely glorious eternal life with Christ in heaven. Do not believe what most pastors tell you. They will tell you that you will receive extra rewards for the good works you have done here on earth. That is not true. In fact, that is a gospel that generates selfishness, and selfishness is not in the vocabulary of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no extra rewards. God gives us everything He has. It means there is nothing left.

And so, what have we learned so far? We have learned that the world of the unsaved shall provide for the needs of the saints, because God the Holy Spirit shall prompt them to take care of the saints. The words, “He shall in no wise lose his reward,” are not to be understood in the absolute sense, but they apply only to the saints in this present time. Therefore, is our heart yearning to join the army of the Lord when we see God the Holy Spirit in action? Is our love for Christ dominating our emotions when we hear the call to serve? Are we thankful for the opportunities He gives us to serve, and do we serve with a glad heart?

With grateful heart my thanks I bring, before the great Thy praise I sing,

I worship in Thy holy place, and praise Thee for Thy truth and grace;

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.