The Book of Matthew

Thursday: Preaching the Gospel

Matthew 7:6 In this week’s lessons, we learn that we are to show discrimination in our Gospel witness, making a distinction between those who are mere unbelievers and in need of our message, versus those unbelievers who scorn the Gospel and make a mockery of Christ.
Theme
Preaching the Gospel

Besides wrongly admitting people into church membership without a clear statement of faith, I am afraid, too, that there are many persons in our day for whom the Lord’s table has become a curse rather than a God-given blessing. For it has led many a person to think that he is right with God merely because he has followed some rite of the Christian religion.

Dr. Barnhouse writes, “How terrible is it for an individual to go to the Lord’s Supper and think that he is in a place of special privilege when he has no true fellowship with the Lord God who is the only giver of blessings. Must it not be said of many today, “Let their table be made a snare”? The Communion table is not to be the table of just any professing Christian; it is the Lord’s table….the table can be a snare that hardens the heart and makes a man think that he has satisfied God’s demands for inward justice and righteousness because he has allied himself with the outward rites of some form of the Christian religion.”1

The final application of this text is the clearest and yet the most difficult to speak of. For it relates to those persons who are more than mere unbelievers. They are those whom Jesus Christ called “children of the devil.” According to the full teaching of the Word of God, we are only to preach the Gospel to mere unbelievers. But to those who have heard the Gospel but who in the hardness of their heart actually despise and mock it, we are to say nothing. Instead, like Jesus Himself, Paul, and all of the other disciples, we are simply to shake the dust from our feet and go elsewhere.

I know that as I say this there will be some who find this thought unacceptable and who refuse to admit that any man can be like this. But the truth is of God, and all history provides examples. In the Middle Ages, one of the most decadent of the Roman pontiffs said of Christianity, “What profit this farce has brought us.” A Protestant king wishing to rule France by gaining the esteem of the populace once followed his own instincts and took a Roman mass saying, “Paris is well worth a mass.” In our time the same spirit makes light of the most holy of spiritual teachings. Thus, in the name of wit they write, “Custer died for your sins,” “Jesus is the answer (but what is the question?),” or “Jesus saves green stamps.” Don’t laugh. The words are the barking of dogs or the grunting of swine, and the Christian is disobeying God when he casts such pearls before them.

Is there hope for such men? We cannot say. But if there is, it lies in the demonstrable reality of true Christian lives and not words. William Barclay, the great British devotional commentator and writer, wrote, “It is often impossible to talk to some people about the Lord Jesus Christ. Their insensitiveness, their moral blindness, their intellectual pride, their cynical mockery, the tarnishing film, may make them impervious to words about Christ. But it is always possible to show men Christ; and the weakness of the Church lies not in lack of Christian arguments, but in lack of Christian lives.”2

1Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Covenants (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1963), 120.

2William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1958), vol. 1, 273.

Study Questions
  1. How can the Lord’s table become a curse for the individual, rather than a blessing?
  2. What should be the Christian’s attitude and approach before and during the Lord’s Supper?
Application

Application: Make a conscious effort to live in such a way before unbelievers that they will see something pleasingly different about you, and thereby bear witness to Christ apart from your words when that is necessary.

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “Spiritual Discernment.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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