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1 Corinthians 12-14 by Robert Dean
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:1 hr 6 mins 1 sec

Why the Ascension had to precede Spiritual Gifts. 1 Cor 12-14


David recognized that God must supply a king that is more than a human king and will also be a divine king. And it is the Messiah who comes and offers the kingdom during the first advent, and it is at this time that the Jews reject that kingdom. So starting in Matthew chapter thirteen Jesus will start teaching His disciples in parables and they ask: "Lord, why are you teaching us in parables?" Basically Jesus says: "I am going to talk to you in secret code now because I have been rejected." There is a major shift in the way he teaches and he introduces in the parables of Matthew 13 the mystery form of the kingdom. The kingdom itself is not going to be established on earth, then, until Jesus comes at the second coming. So what we learn from Matthew is that the kingdom is postponed. It is not inaugurated, it is postponed. There is a preparation, and what we learn in the parables of Matthew 13 is that Jesus is preparing a people. A king must have a people, and so Jesus is preparing during this age a people for Himself who will rule and reign with Him in the Millennial kingdom, and a critical piece of this whole picture is to understand that in this age Jesus is calling our a special people for Himself. This is why there are the tares and the wheat growing up together and the sheep and the goats, and at the end of that time there will be a judgment and a separation of the unbelievers from the believers, and it is the believers who go into the Millennial kingdom. And that has a temporal ending with the destruction of the present heavens and the earth, after which we go into the eternal theocratic kingdom.

In the Old Testament there was the theocracy with no king, then the united monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon until 931 BC, then that kingdom split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. They went out into exile in 722 BC in the north, 586 BC in the south, and then return to begin rebuilding the temple in 516 BC, and that is the partial return and partial nation that is there for the arrival of the Messiah at the first advent. This is all background to what John says when he says: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." The Jews listening to him would interpret that in terms of their background with the kingship. Then he quotes a verse from Isaiah 40: NASB "THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!" So here Matthew takes a passage is specifically referring to the second coming and is applying it here in relationship to John's ministry. John is the one who is preparing the nation for the arrival of the Messiah. They will not respond to that preparation and that is why the kingdom was not inaugurated. So when John says, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," he is teaching and idea that is known by everybody and he is basically saying: "Repent for it is this kingdom that is promised in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the kingdom that would have an eternal descendant of David, that is at hand, the long-anticipated kingdom for Israel. This is the culmination in history of Israel's existence, and so John is saying the hour is here.

If we go on and look at the following verses we learn a few things about John. Matthew 3:4 NASB "Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey." This gives us a picture. He is a complete rebel, he has no idea of how to dress for success, and he is viewed as just some sort of wild man who is out in the wilderness, but this attracts attention. He is coming and dressing in the tradition of Elijah and this is going to plug John the Baptist into a flow of Old Testament prophecy, that the forerunner to the Messiah is Elijah. [5] He had quite an impact. "Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan." He attracted huge crowds, and this went on for three or four years before Jesus showed up. He is preaching his message and calling the nation to change their thinking, and he is baptizing them. The significance of baptism, once again is identification. When they repent he is baptizing them to show that they have identified themselves with the coming kingdom and the kingdom message. [6] "and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins." This has to do with the kingdom message, this is not a salvation message. John is not preaching how to get to heaven. There is no mention of atonement, no mention of faith in Christ, no mention of believing God; it is not the gospel message. It is the message related to the coming of the kingdom for Israel. The issue was, are they going to repent of their works system and trust God or are they going to continue to follow the Pharisees.

Matthew 3:7 NASB "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, 'You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'" The phrase "vipers" picks up the concept of poisonous serpents and that imagery takes us all the way back to the serpent in the garden of Eden and teaching an alternate concept of God's rule and reign and, in fact, challenging what God has revealed. So he identifies them with Satan through the imagery of the serpent. What wrath is John talking about? Where did he learn this concept? This is the wrath that we associate with the second coming, the time of Jacob's coming, the Tribulation, but here John has all these things mixed together. He is not seeing that there is this time gap between the first and second comings, he sees the wrath to come as being an immediate thing in his time. He is expecting it at any time knowing that the wrath must precede the glorious arrival of the kingdom. So when  he sees the Pharisees he becomes angry at them and challenges them because they are caught up in teaching religious activity and gimmicks and not relying upon the grace of God.

Then he announces judgment. Matthew 3:10 NASB "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Jesus uses the same imagery when He rejects the nation in Matthew chapter twelve and rejects the Pharisees. So once again there is the emphasis on a judgment theme. Before the kingdom can come there must be judgment. There is always judgment associated with salvation. The kingdom is a political kingdom that is established once sin is judged and dealt with. What is referred to here as being cut down thrown into the fire is the baptism of fire that takes place at the end of the Tribulation at the second advent of Christ with the destruction of all of the evil established by the Antichrist. John in Matthew 3 is saying that this is imminent, it could have at any moment.

Let's see what Jesus says. Matthew 4:17 NASB "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" The message that Jesus proclaimed was not "Believe on me and my atoning sacrifice and you will be saved," but "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." So this is related to the kingdom message. It is the same message of urgency related to the end of Israel's history and the coming of the Messianic kingdom. God could have ended history at the first advent. If Israel had accepted Christ as their saviour the kingdom would have come in in the first century, there would have been no church age. It is a legitimate offer of the kingdom. One thing that we must see in God's plan is that there is contingency. There are contingencies in God's plan for negative volition. This is what happens in people's lives. One of the things that we often hear people do in times of crisis on their life. Afterwards they will say: "This must be God's will." But remember, we have to distinguish two different kinds of will. There is God's prescriptive will and there is God's permissive will, what God allows to happen. Certainly whatever happens in human history is what God allows to happen but that doesn't mean that if we have gone through some crisis that that was God's best will, that is was in conformity to God's revealed will. We may be in a situation where we are treated wrongly by government authorities—as in some Islamic countries—and persecuted for our faith. In that case we would say that God allowed that. We would be the victims of injustice, of a religious system, and these things are not God's revealed will. Because of free will God has allowed contingencies in human history, but just because something bad happens, don't blame God for it by saying it was God's will. God allowed it to happen but it may have happened as the result of people being negative to doctrine and making sinful decisions, but God allowed it to happen.

It was certainly God's decreed will that the church age should come into existence, but it was not God's revealed will or His moral will because there was a legitimate plan for Israel to repent at the first coming. They failed to do that so God went to plan B. But God has been going to plan B ever since the garden. It was not God's desired or revealed will for Adam and Eve to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God allowed it to happen, so when it did happen He went to plan B. It wasn't God's will in terms of His revealed will or His moral will for Cain to murder Abel, but it was within God's permissive will and so there is contingency there. Nevertheless, God is still in control of everything; nothing is out of control, God's works even the negative decisions of man to His glory. So there was a real and legitimate offer of the kingdom to Israel, and it could have come in at the first coming. This was the message of Jesus.

This was the same message of the disciples. Matthew 10:5-7 NASB "These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in {the} way of {the} Gentiles, and do not enter {any} city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" They are not to give the message of the kingdom to the Gentiles. Why? Because the kingdom wasn't for the Gentiles, it was for Jews only. That is why this is not a soteriological message, it is a message related to Israel's future in the God's plan and purposes. They go exclusively to Israel and this shows us that this is a Jewish issue, that the history of Israel is the foundation and cornerstone of God's plan for human history. At the end of Matthew chapter 23 Jesus says he will not return to Israel until they say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus Christ is not going to return at the second coming until Israel turns nationally and corporately under their leadership (this will occur in the wilderness of Bazra) accept Jesus as the Messiah. When they reject Jesus there is a shift in God's plan.

Matthew 11 relates to John the Baptist. Matthew 11:10 NASB "This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.' [11] Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen {anyone} greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. [12] From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence [hostility and rejection of the message of the kingdom], and violent men take it by force. [13] For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. [14] And if you are willing to accept {it,} John himself is Elijah who was to come." Verse 14 is the key verse. There is contingency here. This is one of the interesting dilemmas in understanding the Gospel, that John the Baptist could have been Elijah. He would have fulfilled all of the prophecies related to Elijah as the forerunner. But they don't accept that, so we go to Matthew 17.

Matthew 17:10 NASB "And His disciples asked Him, 'Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?' [11] And He answered and said, 'Elijah is coming and will restore all things.'" So in Mathew 11 John the Baptist could have been Elijah, but Matthew 12 comes with the rejection of Christ, and in Matthew 17 Elijah is now future. [12] "'but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' [13] Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist." So here we have an example of real contingency in the plan of God.

After Christ died on the cross there was the split between the first advent and the Second Advent that is caused by the rebellion of Israel and their rejection of the kingdom, so the kingdom is set aside. It has not been started; it has not been inaugurated and will not be inaugurated until Jesus Christ comes back at the second coming.

Notice that at the end of Matthew 17:12 Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man. In Daniel chapter seven Jesus is presented as the Son of Man in contrast to all of the kingdoms of man (represented in Daniel by various beasts). All the of kingdoms of man are represented as beastly, but in contrast to that the one who comes to establish His kingdom is the Son of Man, indicating that he represents God's true intention for humanity and His kingdom is what humanity will be. There is a lesson there that no human kingdom will ever solve man's problems. Every human kingdom will always include these beastly characteristics because of the depravity of man.

After Jesus Christ is rejected by the Jews we come to the last set of references in John 16. John 16:28 NASB "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father." He announces the fact that He must go to the Father, He is not going to stay and establish the kingdom. John 16:7 NASB "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." This sets the stage for the coming of the church age and the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is why the coming of the Holy Spirit distinguishes and inaugurates the church age.