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Posts Tagged: Gospel

Who are the Weary and Heavy Laden in Matthew 11:28?

Jan. 17, 2014By: Philemon YongAuthor Bio

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

In the previous post I argued that the people invited to come to Jesus in Matthew 11:28 are believers. In this post I want to look at what makes them weary and burdened. The teachings of Jesus call his followers to live lives that are different than the standards of the world. In doing so, they will face persecution and suffer. Here are some examples of the kind of people who will suffer in following Jesus.

These are people described in the sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-10): the poor in spirit (who know that the kingdom belongs to them); those who mourn now (knowing that comfort awaits them); those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (they will be satisfied in the future); those who are pure in heart (something that comes through the labor of pursuing holiness); the peacemakers; those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness; those who are insulted and persecuted and have all kinds of false things said against them because they belong to Jesus. These people are laboring and Jesus is inviting them to COME.

The people invited are those who labor to let their light shine in the world so that people will see their good works and glorify God (Matt 5:16); the one who, while presenting their offering realize that someone has something against them, leaves his offering and goes and is reconciled with the brother (5:23-24); it is the person who does not resist an evil person; and when sued for a shirt, gives his coat also (5:39-42); those invited are those who labor to love their enemies and pray for those who mean them harm (5:43-47); it it is the people who are striving to be perfect just as their heavenly Father is perfect (5:48).

The people invited are those who fast but do not let their fasting be noticed by men,  (which is hard to do (6:16-18). It includes those who work hard not to store up treasures on earth, but invest in the Kingdom (6:21). And those who are not anxious about tomorrow but trust God to provide for their needs (6:25-34), and last but not the least, those who take up their cross and follow Jesus (10:38).

These are examples of people who live lives different from the world. The reason is that they are followers of Jesus. Leaving the world behind and turning to Jesus, embracing the life of the Kingdom, does not make life easy. On the contrary, it makes life more difficult because you have to do things like turning the other cheek, going two miles when asked to go one, giving a person your coat when he is trying to take away your shirt, not resisting the evil person etc.

To live this life as a Christian is to labor. It weighs on you and you feel tired. Jesus says to you, “Come to me . . . and I will give you rest.”   

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Who is Invited to Come to Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30?

Jan. 16, 2014By: Philemon YongAuthor Bio

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

A common interpretation of this text is that verse 28 is an invitation to come to Jesus. They will find rest in the sense of having their sins forgiven. I want to make the case here that this text is better understood as addressed to Jesus’ followers (believers). Jesus commands his followers who are weary and burdened to turn to him and find refreshment to continue.

In other words, I disagree that this is an invitation for unbelievers to come to Jesus and be saved. The people invited are already following Jesus, living by his standards, and finding that it is not easy.

First, look with me at 11:25-27 

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Those invited to come are the little children (not babies but those who are lowly and humble) to whom God has revealed himself to them through Jesus Christ (vv. 25, 27). Jesus is inviting people who have already experienced the saving power of Jesus and are following him. As such, we see that “those who labor and are heavy laden” are believers who are weary with the burdens of life. So then, there is a standing invitation from the Lord Jesus Christ to those who belong to him to continually come to him.

Second, for an invitation to be honored, the person offering the invitation matters also. Humanly speaking, we tend to respond to invitations from people we know or respect or value etc. Those invited are expected to respond because they know Jesus.

Looking back at verse 27 above, we see that Jesus has authority to give this invitation.

Jesus is the one to whom the Father has given all things. He is the one who knows the Father. He is the one who reveals the Father to those he chooses. The language here is similar to Matthew 28:18, where Jesus’ command to his followers to make disciples of all nations is grounded on his authority; an authority that has been given to him by the Father.

The invitation to come to Jesus is grounded on who Jesus is. This is the kind of knowledge possessed by those to whom he has already revealed the Father. Since only Jesus knows the Father, only those to whom he reveals the Father will know that it is important to listen to his invitation and obey. In our fight of faith, our knowledge of Jesus is an encouragement for perseverance.

Third, if we take “labor and are heavy laden” to mean those who are weary with life’s burdens, then it is an invitation for all people who are weary in life to come to Jesus. He promises to give them rest in the sense of refreshing them so that they can continue.

If we take Matthew 11:28 as an invitation to those who are already followers of Jesus then we can see that it is a command for all believers to always turn to Jesus and find refreshment in the midst of life’s difficulties. Thus, instead of this being a call for the unregenerate to come to Jesus and receive forgiveness of sins, it is an encouragement for the regenerate to find comfort in that Jesus is with them, and will walk with them and care for them until the end (cf. Matthew 28:20).

But, why might the followers of Jesus be weary because of the burdens of life?

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What Do Cross-Cultural Missionaries Cross Cultures For?

Jan. 2, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

A sermon by Michael Oh at the recent CROSS Conference.

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Luther, the Law, and Evangelism

Feb. 26, 2013By: Evan Burns

I have been doing evangelism for years and in all my training, I cannot remember ever learning how to use the Law in evangelism.  In the past, my evangelism efforts have started with telling someone that God loves them, just mentioning that we are all sinners, and that if they believe in Jesus they will go to heaven when they die.  Of course that is very simplistic, and I have usually explained it better than that.  However, I think many people probably just hear that simplistic presentation, and never feel convicted of their own sin.  I don’t think I have ever really understood that it’s not enough to say that we are all sinners, and it’s not enough to say we need to believe in Jesus.  There is more that needs to be said, and Luther has helped me tremendously to see how the Law is necessary for converting the soul.  When Luther says, “the Law”, he does not mean the whole Pentateuch; he means the Ten Commandments.  In his understanding, that’s generally how Scripture understands the Law.  Luther is very clear that we cannot offer the comfort of the gospel without first leading people to despair of their sin through the Law.  The Law wounds, and the gospel heals.  Luther did not want gospel presentations to be so focused on the wrath of God that people would be fleeing His wrath out of fear, but he wanted them to flee God’s wrath because they knew they were sinners and they despaired of their sin.  This despair of sin only comes through the conviction of the Law.  I’ve heard it said, “we don’t want fear-filled converts, but tear-filled converts”.  I think this statement reflects Luther’s view of using the Law to convict and drive the sinner to despair and flee to Christ. 

A problem in churches today is that there are many false converts who have been wrongly assured that they are heaven-bound based solely on a past decision or even a simplistic, rote prayer.  When Charles Finney introduced the altar call and a quick decision card as the method of leading someone in conversion, this easy-believism morphed through the generations and today we are reaping what he has sown in American evangelicalism.  The doctrines of persevering faith and ongoing repentance have been eclipsed by easy-believism and cheap grace.  One reason why there is so little repentance in new “converts” could be because their consciences have not been wounded by the law.  In order to produce genuine contrition, sinners need to feel broken under the demands of the law.  Then, and only then, will sinners flee the wrath to come and fly to Jesus as their Lord, Savior, and Treasure.  The use of the law to break the sinner in order to receive the balm of the gospel was the method of Jesus, Paul, the Apostolic Fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans, and great preachers such as Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, and Lloyd-Jones.  Psalm 119 says: “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

 

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Turning a Conversation to the Gospel

Feb. 18, 2013By: Evan Burns

Dr. Don Whitney is professor of Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He has a great website with helpful resources for growing in biblical spirituality.  I have greatly appreciated his heart for missions and evangelism, which he sees as part of mature Christian spirituality.  He has a great resource with suggestions for how to turn a conversation into an opportunity to share the gospel.  I have found many of his suggestions very helpful for naturally steering a conversation to the gospel.  I hope you will find his suggestions fruitful in your evangelistic efforts.

 

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