Title: The Family of Faith
Text: Matthew 10:40-42; I John 3:11-18
FCF: We often struggle with relationships between Christians staying good.
Prop: Genuine Believers love other genuine believers, so we must love one another.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 10. Wow! What an amazing display of talents for our King! Thank you everyone for using the gifts He gave to give Him praise. I want to thank all you who have come to see the little ones perform. It is a pleasure to have you with us. Please stay afterward for the light brunch and fellowship. If you are new, we are preaching through the book of Matthew. We have been here for several weeks with a few breaks between. If you are worried that you won’t understand what we are talking about today- don’t. I have tried to include some review in the message today to keep you caught up. Jesus is sending his disciples on a short term mission’s trip. In this He gives them a little speech, mostly about expecting persecution and hatred from those they come into contact with. But today, He concludes His talk on a VERY positive note. I’m in Matthew 10, I’ll start reading in verse 40. I am reading from the CSB but follow along in whatever version you prefer.
[Slide 2] Keen observers will notice that Matthew chapter 10 is not a very Christmasy passage of scripture. But over the last several years I have discovered something about literally every passage of scripture I study. Somehow, someway, without stretching or leaping, the text speaks in some way or another to the need of men, the provision of God or both. Every text, and there are many I haven’t studied yet, so I’ll keep ya posted, but every text so far, has in some way connected to the gospel. And at Christmas – we celebrate the coming of Jesus – who is unable to be separated from the gospel.
So I figure, if it is about the gospel… it is kinda woven to Christmas too – right?
Well, today, I want to show you yet another aspect of the gospel in Jesus’ words. You get the impression that everything He says is focused on the gospel and His coming Kingdom. But I digress…
So how does Jesus conclude his speech to His disciples?
I.) In Christ, we are accepted by God, so we must love one another. (40)
a. [Slide 3] 40 – Whoever receives you receives me,
i. Way back in verses 12-15 we saw Jesus preparing His disciples for their short term mission.
ii. In this He instructed them to bid peace to those who received them and their message, and to shake the dust from their feet of those who did not.
iii. From there, Jesus spends from verse 13 to 39 talking about those who will not receive them.
iv. So our conversation the last few weeks has been somewhat more somber in tone, as we discussed the inevitability of persecution for those who claim Christ.
v. But now Jesus leaves the disciples on a positive note, to discuss those who do receive them.
vi. To receive the disciple was no doubt a great risk. To collude with a blasphemer is to be a blasphemer.
vii. Not only that, but inherent in the idea of “receive” is to accept the message that they preached also.
viii. Therefore what Jesus means by receive is more like love. Selfless, genuine, unconditional and loyal love. The opposite of this kind of love is not hate. The opposite of this kind of love is selfishness. You can act selfishly toward someone and not hate them. But you cannot act selfishly toward someone and love them like this. This means to embrace them as someone who is closer than family. To risk it all to harbor and protect them.
ix. Jesus’ statement could easily be misinterpreted, and no doubt was by His disciples. It would be easy to simply think of this from a master and apprentice kind of perspective, in that the disciples represent Jesus, so accepting them is accepting Him.
x. But when you really understand what Jesus means by receive. It is much more than simply parity between the messages and men.
xi. Jesus is saying, if you love my disciples, you have also shown that you love me.
xii. And then, when you understand that – the next statement is… mind blowing.
b. And whoever receives me receives Him who sent me
i. If you love Jesus… you have shown that you love Him who sent me.
ii. The Father. You love the father.
iii. Jesus, in His own sneaky kind of way, is teaching that He is the mediator between God and men. He connects them together. Loving Him, is Loving the Father.
iv. And Loving His disciples is loving Him.
v. This resonates with Matthew 25, which we will get to in due time – but maybe swing by that chapter around verse 31 and just read and compare what we learned today to that chapter.
c. Now Jesus has a little more to teach us, but before we move on, lets simply connect the logic dots.
d. If we genuinely, truly, and selflessly love those who are the disciples of Jesus, than we also love Jesus and God the Father. To love Christ and the Father in this way – is simply impossible by human standards. I John 4 tells us that God loved us first. We don’t love Him first. And the only reason we do love Him now, is because He showed love to us first by saving our wicked hearts and changing us to be people capable of this kind of love. So if that is true…
e. This passage is clearly teaching that if we are genuine believers. Real Christians, who love God because He made it possible for us to do so by saving us… then we will love Christ. And if we love Christ we will love His followers.
f. Loving God’s people, selflessly, is a mark of a true believer.
But let’s expand on that thought shall we?
II.) In Christ, we share in His reward, so we must love one another. (41-42)
a. [Slide 4] 41 - Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he is righteous will receive a righteous person’s reward.
i. It is absolutely essential that we understand what these two statements mean and don’t mean before we look at verse 42.
ii. And to understand this verse, we have to keep in mind the context of the entire speech Jesus’ made but more specifically, what we just learned in verse 40.
iii. First, we see that as the disciples go, there will be some who accept them and their message with glad hearts.
iv. Of these people Jesus speaks a truism to the disciples using Old Testament idioms and proverbs.
1. He is not quoting from the Old Testament, but simply referencing truths that a Jew would understand. From Elijah and Elisha – when true prophets of God are welcomed, the house receives the power of God upon them. When they are not welcomed – the power of God is upon them as well – but not to bless but to curse.
2. Perhaps in your translation you have “whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet” and you are wondering why yours is different. To put your mind at ease, your translation is actually more literal to the text, because that is exactly what it says. However, to our 21st Century ears it makes it seem like we are welcoming someone who calls themselves a prophet because another prophet told us to. “In the name of Billy, I welcome you Jim”
3. But this is an idiom. It is a statement that means more than the sum of its parts. To a Jew, it is obvious what Jesus was saying. Whoever welcomes a prophet based on the reputation that He has as being a prophet of God. Or Because He is a prophet of God.
4. In other words – you don’t have to prove something or be a friend first. No if they accept you and your message because you are a prophet of God… then what?
5. They will receive a prophet’s reward. So is this saying
a. A reward from the prophet
b. A reward proportionate to the importance of the prophet
c. The same reward the prophet receives.
d. Well given what we learned from verse 40 – the answer is actually quite simple. It is the same reward a prophet receives.
v. So then he talks about a righteous person – and we come to pretty much the exact same conclusions as we did the prophet… which begs the question… Is Jesus, Is Matthew including these two examples to communicate the differences between a prophet and righteous person or to emphasize the same point twice?
vi. We could spend a lot of time here trying to get to the bottom of the differences between prophets and righteous people, but I think that is a pretty futile endeavor. There simply aren’t any real differences between them – especially when you consider the context of the New Testament.
vii. So are these the same? YES! They are. Replace prophet with Follower of Christ. Replace righteous person with follower of Christ and you have it.
viii. In other words Jesus is saying, those who welcome you simply because you bear my name, they are also bearer of my name. So pretty much the same thing we saw in the last verse.
ix. Now look at verse 42.
b. [Slide 5] 42 – And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.
i. Now many – many people interpret this verse to speak of general charity to all men. Hospitality to strangers.
ii. Is that a theme that the bible teaches? Does the bible instruct us to help the helpless, Christian or otherwise? Of course it does.
iii. But that is not what this verse means.
iv. The cup of cold water is the least a person could do to be hospital. It is so little – that to expect any reward for doing it, would be unthinkable.
v. The cup is not offered by the 12 disciples but to the 12 disciples. The phrase – to these little ones, is actually used a few times in the gospels and every time it is to talk about followers of Christ.
vi. Again we have the same phrase – in the name of the disciples. So whoever you encounter that offers you the least bit of hospitability because they know you were sent by me – truly – they will not lose their reward.
vii. This verse communicates the exact same thing that 40 and 41 did. People who genuinely love God’s people prove that they ARE God’s people. Why? Because people who aren’t God’s people, hate God’s people. Why? Because our King declared war on everything they cling to.
[Slide 6 (blank)] So how do we apply this message today? What is Jesus saying?
I feel like we keep finding these passages in scripture. And they are difficult passages for us to reconcile. We understand that salvation is by grace, through faith and not of works. But here, Jesus seems to be saying that those who love Christ followers can earn a reward. But is this really what Jesus is saying? In Verse 42 does he say that if you give a cup of cold water to one of his disciples that you will earn a reward? No, he says you will not lose your reward.
Which, of course, poses a whole new dilemma for us. Is Jesus saying we can lose our salvation? Again this connects with two concepts that we often get very wrong in our thinking today.
1.) That salvation is a one time decision that concretely etches in stone our future and security regardless of what happens afterward
2.) That our eternal security is something that we can know beyond a shadow of doubt based on that one-time decision.
Perhaps you are saying – both of those sound like they are true. But as you analyze the pages of scripture, as we have in the last year and a half – you come to realize that…
1.) [Slide 8] Conversion may start with a decision, a choice, but that choice is often repeated. That repentance and belief are a continual part of the second stage of salvation, Sanctification, or becoming more holy. The final stage of salvation is when we are freed of our flesh, which is all that remains that anchors us to our depravity. We are given a new body and made to never know sin again. This is called Glorification. [Slide 9] So salvation is anything but one-time but is, rather, a process. Meaning that our future is very much connected to our present.
2.) [Slide 10] Since salvation is not a one-time decision but a life that is ongoing, we can only know whether our future is secure based on whether or not we see the salvation process continuing in our lives. God is the only one who knows if we are eternally secure and sealed. And it is God who raises up in His children, the fruit of the Spirit and their growth toward holiness.
[Slide 11 (blank)] So taking all of this and putting it next to Jesus’ words here… what is he saying?
If you do not receive Christ’s followers, then you cannot have received Christ, and if you have not received Christ, then you have no reward from the Father. Because the Father only rewards His Son, and the Son shares His reward only with those who are in Him. There is one God and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus.
What does this mean practically?
It means that personality conflicts among Christians should never happen. We should never see two believers get divorced. We should never see two believers have irreconcilable differences. We should never see two believers unable to bury the hatchet.
Yeah Chris, but what if it happens? There are Christians I know that got divorced. There are Christians I know that won’t talk to each other. There are Christians I know that have no desire to see or talk to another Christian.
Chris you don’t understand what one Christian did to the other. You don’t understand the pain they caused them.
Chris you are wrong. Christians fight all the time and never forgive. They are petty and backbiting.
My response is simply this… from scripture, the only options we have are [Slide 12]
1.) One or both parties involved are not genuine followers of Christ. They are pretenders. Because those who have been forgiven of so much cannot deny forgiveness of so little to another.
2.) Or, One or both parties are living in sin and should be under the chastening of God AND they should be pursued for church discipline. And at the end of church discipline when none come to repentance – what does the church treat the offender as? An unbeliever… do you think that is an arbitrary ruling? NO
3.) The bottom line is this… God’s people love God’s people. Forgiveness, mercy, unconditional and selfless love is offered to any who follow Christ.
Not only is there no room for personality conflict, but there is no room for Preference Cliques. Any and all who bear the name Christ – even if they do not agree with you on preferences, style, or other arbitrary dividers ought to be overlooked in love. This even extends to people in other local assemblies in our area. We ought to love, selflessly any who genuinely bear the name of Christ. Not apostates… genuine Christ followers.
[Slide 13 (blank)] So what if I don’t love other Christians? What if I find more comfort and ease associating with non-Christians? What if I never really want to hang around Christians? What if I do inspirational channel or podcast church?
I am going to read two passages of scripture, ask a single question and we will close. I John 3:11-18 // Acts 2:42-47
[Slide 14] Can you be a genuine follower of Christ and not loyally and selflessly love other genuine followers of Christ?