Matthew 10:5-15 Part 2

I mentioned to you last Lord’s Day that I was going to begin this sermon with some comments about our Lord’s atonement.  I think it’s appropriate that I do that right here because 1) we’re right at that point in the text where Jesus has told His twelve apostles to go out and find the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Knowing that those lost sheep could only be the remnant – the scattered remnant – described so often in the Old Testament; and knowing also that God’s intent was to destroy the nation (with the exception of these few who had not bowed to false religion and philosophies), the question of “Who is the atonement for?” always comes up.

And 2) in my opinion it’s always appropriate for me to call your attention to the false religion of the day.  Now I know that there are some that would rather I not do that (for tolerance sake), but I think we all need warning – especially our young people – about the pseudo-teachers and pseudo-religions that are out there.  Besides, the Lord Himself was very specific in His condemnation of false religion.  And so were the writers of the New Testament letters.  They constantly warned the people.  And I know that separates people, but it doesn’t separate us from God.  And I stand in pretty good company by warning you and exposing them.  And opposing them!

But the electing love of God and the very particular atonement which is covered by the blood of Christ ought to come up – and naturally does come up – whenever people hear that Jesus seeks out particular people and judgmentally condemns others, like this passage this morning so clearly indicates.

And the Church has been so woefully short in its understanding of the whole issue that it can safely be labeled as false religion!  And the only system of understanding of Scripture that has held fast, in recent centuries, to the Biblical interpretation of the atonement is the historic Reformed Faith!  But, as I think you’ll see in a minute, there are even some within the Reformed camp who hold a faulty view of the Atonement wrought by our Lord!

But the main body of thought, which in my view has so crippled the Church in its overall Kingdom work, is Arminianism.  And this thought process clearly states that Christ died – shed His blood, was sacrificed, was the propitiation of the wrath of God – for all men, for all times, and every where!  In other words every sin of man, every sin of all men, was atoned for when Christ died.  And as every man lives his life he is responsible for choosing that atonement.  The sin is covered, now, and God’s wrath is turned away, but the man has to choose in order for it to be put into effect!  Now, this is called universal atonement.  Universalism.  It is limited atonement, isn’t it?  But the atonement isn’t limited by God, it’s limited by the will of every person born into the world.  Let me say it this way:  The atonement of Christ is limited by the will of man!!

Now.  Some of the passages of Scripture which they cite as proof of their position are: 


I John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

 John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son….” 

John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” 

John 12:32, “that Jesus in His death would draw all men to Himself.” 

And II Corinthians , “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”


Now, the issue is that only historic Reformed Theology correctly reading Scripture, has the answer to the pseudo-teachers when they start quoting these verses!  But there are today many in the Reformed camp who have slipped into a non-Biblical, pessimistic understanding of the atonement and cannot win a battle with the Arminian universalist when those passages I just read are brought up!

And they can’t win because their pessimism with regard to the world can’t be squared with those passages!  Can you imagine a pessimistic Calvinist who says that all of God’s elect are the remnant spoken of in the Old Testament?  Or that God’s elect are few in number in comparison to the population, and it’ll be that way until the end of the world!  And the Arminian universalist comes along and says, “First John two, two, ‘He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world….’  Does the whole world mean the remnant?” he asks.  “Does the whole world mean a few?  What kind of voodoo exegesis is that?”  And he leaves the pessimistic Calvinist drowning in his false theology!  The Arminian wins – hands down!  Easy!

But praise God there’s a Biblical position.  He didn’t leave us with a dilemma at all!  To the Arminian universalist the propitiation of the wrath of God toward men is only a potential propitiation, and therefore the sweeping power of the atonement of Jesus Christ is denied!

To the pessimistic Calvinist the propitiation of the wrath of God for the whole world means a few – or some!  They have to reinterpret “the whole world” to mean all of the elect – which are really few – denying the literal and obvious meaning of the term “the whole world,” or “all the cosmos.”

But the historic Reformed position doesn’t even see a question here!  There is no dilemma or problem!  Why the pessimistic Calvinist wants to trade the salvation of the world, which is the goal of Jesus, for the salvation of a few, using un-Biblical and unsound exegesis to do so, is beyond the understanding of historic Calvinism!  And why anyone would want to trade the actual salvation of the world for a potential salvation (a highly unlikely potential salvation) can only be described as false theology!  (false religion, pseudo-teacher).

Historic Reformed Theology holds that the world was created by God and He loves it – the whole cosmos!  The whole world is elect of God!  The Atonement wrought by Christ is unlimited and worldwide in scope, and the world will eventually be evangelized and come under submission to Christ the King!

As B.B. Warfield, the former President of Princeton Theological Seminary put it, “Christ will have a saved world to present to the Father, when the Gospel shall have subdued it.”

As an article I just read puts it, B.B. Warfield – one in a long line of Historic Reformed Theologians – was an eschatological universalist!  In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, did not come and die in order to separate a few out of this sinful world and then destroy everything!  He came to defeat all His enemies, push back the gates of hell, submit the entire creation to Himself by the preaching of the Gospel, and then return it all to His Father clean!

We preach, and pray, and worship, and repent, and obey – all with confidence – because we know beyond any doubt that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it and destroy it but to save it!

And it is with joy and victory that we read:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son….”  And that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”  And that “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

And that’s the larger scope and context of our passage today, for Jesus’ opening gambit in submitting the whole world to Himself was to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And, once found, to destroy the Old Covenant nation – sending God’s elect covenant people out into the nations to begin the process of preaching the Good News to the Gentiles – to the world!

And this was an act of redemption – an act of saving the world!  And isn’t it a delight to the heart – and exhilarating to the mind – to know that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” before Jesus returns? (Isaiah eleven, verse nine)

That’s totally different from the Armageddon forecasters who continue to falsely prophesy the imminent rapture of the Church!  Middle East Bible sales are up sharply – twenty-three percent – and Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth came into its one hundred, fifth printing recently, all indicating a tremendous interest in what’s happening in the Middle East with regard to Bible prophesy.  (That’s called newspaper exegesis.)  You see, what’s happening determines the Theology.  But at the same time the country is languishing without the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  People see Armageddon rather than a Savior Who came to save the world from its sin!  People see the son of Nimrod and the son of Nebuchadnezzar rising to prominence in order to instigate apocalyptic conflagration rather than rejoicing at the rivers of living water flowing into all the nations of the world!  People are resurrecting an old covenant nation which was effectively eliminated over two thousand years ago, and they’re enthroning it as the centerpiece of world events!  And they’re doing it at the expense of the Kingdom of Christ – the New Israel!

Arminians are now preaching the gospel of the rapture, and offering a free book on the subject; iron curtain countries and Eastern Europe don’t need that!  Eastern Europe needs the man changing, family changing, institution changing, government changing Gospel of Christ!  They need the optimism of victory rather than the pessimism of coming rapture and tribulation!

In our text Christ was about to spew out thousands into the Gentile nations where the Gospel was to transform society from death unto life!  But today the Church has gone in on itself and become socially irrelevant!  And why should it be otherwise when the Church expects to be taken out, and society to crash and burn?

Well, I think Armageddon’s coming all right.  Not for the world – for the irrelevant Church!  I don’t think our King is going to put up with this aberration much longer.  The West is having a confrontation with Islam, and I see it – not as some pseudo-war of the nations / Armageddon, but maybe the beginning of an opening for our Lord’s Kingdom into the cursed Arab states!  The Evangelization of the nations certainly won’t be complete until the billion and a half Muslims repent – and worship the King.  And, although there are a few Christians among the Arabs, we’ve yet to even make a dent!  Right now we can’t even stop our own society, where the conditions for evangelization couldn’t be better, from going down in the flames of its own demonic behavior!  The Church is so irrelevant that our own country is becoming an aberration - even in the society of nations!  And while that’s happening, the Church is sitting off to the side talking amongst itself about end-time prophesy and the rapture of the Church!  None of which is even taught in Scripture!

But the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ was not limited – it was sweeping, and complete and powerful to the salvation of the whole world – to the cleansing of all creation – to the throwing down of all strongholds, to the defeat of Satan and death itself, to the turning of the hearts and minds of kings and rulers and nations.

And the beginning of that process is here recounted for us in the text – the empowering of the twelve apostles with EXOUSIA, and the SENDING of them by Christ to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Later Jesus would die for them so that they would be washed clean and their sins atoned for and God’s wrath toward them satisfied; but for now – to find them as lost sheep, and to give them all the indication they needed to recognize who He was and that He had indeed come for them as promised by the prophets!  To give to them the Biblical indications – Old Testament prophetic indications that the Kingdom had arrived – to show what the prophets had said would be shown to them; and to preach (an act which is invested with the power of the Spirit of God, and an act in which, Paul says, Jesus speaks) and to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom; the Kingdom is at hand; the Kingdom is near; Good News, the Son of David is here and the Kingdom has come!

Where are those who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal, and who love the Lord God of Israel with all their hearts, and who are still anticipating David’s Great Son?   There are many scattered and cast down and blind and deaf and bleeding and unclean.  They are dead.  Find them and preach to them and heal their wounds; and set a table before them in the presence of my enemies; and tell them that I’ve come to find them.  Tell them the Kingdom promised to them has come.  And when you preach they will hear My voice.  And they will follow me.

In verse eight Jesus says, “Freely you received, freely give.”  And in that statement there are no objects.  So the emphasis is automatically transferred to the adverbs – FREELY you received, FREELY give.  Whatever the apostles had received from Christ they received by grace – they had to pay nothing for it, they could pay nothing for it; and the same grace was to be dispensed – the lost sheep of Israel were to receive whatever was given to them by Christ through the apostles, because they could pay nothing for it.  It was free.  And it was only free.

The Lord Jesus had said, through the prophet Isaiah seven hundred fifty years before:


“Lo, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price….”


And the Lord had just said, just a few days before our text here:  “Blessed – those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”  So the Kingdom of Christ is priceless - and free.

But how will they recognize you?  You’ll go as the Scriptures prophesied:  You’ll go with no money, no change of clothes, no purse, one tunic, one staff, one pair of sandals – the ones on your feet.  And you’ll go exhibiting the outward EXOUSIA of the prophets:  healing diseases and weaknesses of men, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead and expelling demons – all Old Testament signs of the coming King to sit on the throne of David.  All signs that God has sent prophetic messengers once again into Israel to announce the presence of the King!

Then Jesus, verse eleven, tells them that when they go into a town or village, that they are to investigate – search out – those who are worthy, and they are to stay there until they’ve completed the preaching of the Kingdom in that place.  And then they’re to leave.  And while they’re there they are laborers in the vineyard, and they’re worthy of receiving all they need from those among whom they’re working!

Now, laborers sent into the vineyards and shepherds sent to search out lost sheep were to be paid for their labors.  And the prophets of the Old Testament were given sustenance from those among whom they worked.  So, even though the Lord brings together a lot of different figures for us, we get the picture!  The joy which the lost sheep received upon being found by the voice of Christ was, at least partially, exhibited by generous hospitality for the messengers who brought the Good News.  Just as Old Testament recipients of the grace of God shared dividends with God’s prophets, so the lost sheep of the house of Israel are to do the same.

Now.  One last thing.  The word “worthy” is critical for us to understand.  And right at the beginning of our examination of it, we have to completely dispense with the idea of merit.  I want you to take the word – “worthy” – and just mentally erase “good enough” out of your minds with relation to it.  Okay?  Erase it.  Because that’s not what it means.

The Greek word is Axios which means “balance by the same amount of weight on the other side.”  And how that’s meant by Jesus here in the text, verse eleven, is that when the apostles went into a town they were to search out the town for the equal response to the Gospel preached!  In other words, the preaching of the coming of the King should be responded to by eagerness and joy and anticipation and repentance!  And ones who balanced the preaching on the one hand with the response on the other side were the ones with whom the apostles were to stay and receive hospitality.  They are the ones who would hear the voice of Jesus in the preaching of the apostles because they were lost sheep!  And they belonged to the King!  And when they heard His voice they would follow Him.  That is AXIOS – worthy – having the right response to the preaching of the Gospel.

Next Lord’s Day we’ll finish this portion and move on to Jesus’ warnings to the apostles about the things that were going to happen to them.

I pray this morning that there has been a proper response to the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom – joy, repentance, anticipation – for the hungry and thirsty are being fed; and sight brought to the blind; and hearing to the deaf.  The Lord is among us.  And His Kingdom is real and growing.  And it will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.  No matter what the “reincarnation” of Nebuchadnezzar claims to be doing.