the basf - its importance and teaching
“That the message he delivered from God to his kinsmen, the Jews, was a call to repentance from every evil work, the assertion of his divine sonship and Jewish kingship; and the proclamation of the glad tidings that God would restore their kingdom through him, and accomplish all things written in the prophets.—Mark 1:15; Mat 4:17; 5:20-48; Jno 10:36; 9:35; 11:27; 19:21; 1:49; Mat 27:11-42; Jno 10:24,25; Mat 19:28; 21:42,43; 23:38,39; 25:14-46; Luke 4:43; 13:27-30; 19:11-27; 22:28-30; Mat 5:17; Luke 24:44”
Having considered the sacrificial work of the Lord Jesus in our previous studies, we turn now to consider the message preached by the Master himself to those he came to save. And the first point to recognise here is that the message he delivered was not of his own composition, but was “from God”. As John proclaimed: “he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him” (Jno 3:33,34). Christ himself gave the same testimony: “my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (Jno 7:16) and again, “I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak” (Jno 12:49,50).
So it was, that as the Father’s Word made flesh (Jno 1:14), the Lord Jesus was the voice of the spirit (Jno 3:8) sounding forth living words, that whosoever gave heed to what he taught, might repent and prepare for the coming Kingdom. Here is the underlying principle of all that the Master spake; his words were Divine, and carried an authority quite unlike that of the scribes (Mark 1:22) – and that authority remains to our day.
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
The inspired record relates to us the commencement of our Master’s preaching, immediately following the imprisonment of John: “after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14).
Notice that here, the Gospel taught by the Spirit through Christ, was “the gospel of the kingdom of God”, whereas that which the Apostles later preached also included “the things concerning the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12). The Mystery “which was kept secret since the world began” (Rom 16:25) concerning the sufferings of Christ, had not yet been revealed. Certain events had to be transacted first; namely the lifting up of the son of man (Jno 8:28) upon the accursed tree, and his resurrection from the pit of death. Only then would the things concerning his Name, and the way of salvation through faith in him be generally made known, but prior to this, even the disciples did not comprehend how that the Master must first suffer before his entrance into glory (Luke 14:25), though they ought to have done from his own teaching concerning these things.
But the fact of the disciples’ lack of knowledge concerning their Master’s future sufferings is most instructive concerning their preaching activities. Their whole emphasis was on the coming Kingdom, and the consequent need for repentance in order to be citizens thereof, and not the coming crucifixion which they did not understand (cp Mark 8:33). How greatly this contrasts with the preaching of so-called ‘christians’ today! How often have we seen those shallow tracts making the claim that all that is required is for us to accept that “Jesus died for you”, and “open your hearts for him to enter in”?
They call this “The Gospel,” yet nothing is taught concerning the reality of the Coming Kingdom – and still less concerning the need to repent, and turn from wicked works. Yet it is these very things that the disciples taught with their Master! But Christ does not dwell in the hearts of the unenlightened, only in those who “by faith” (Eph 3:17); accept the testimonies concerning him, and his future work in restoring the Kingdom to Israel. The world at large is desperately ignorant of the things pertaining to the future age, and so in contrast to the example of the One they profess to follow, it’s missionaries and preachers do not preach anything concerning it; they prefer rather to preach a mere shallow sentiment which can bring salvation to no-one. Yea, we might even go as far as to say that the Jesus they say died for them is not the Jesus of Paul, or of any of the Apostles for that matter, for the Jesus they preach is part of a Truine Godhead; a pre-existent trinity of beings, which finds existence only in the imaginations of the deceived.
THE CALL TO REPENTANCE
The Master himself taught the Pharisees: “they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mat 9:13). So the calling of Christ was not directed to those who considered themselves to be already righteous, but for sinners to, to repent of their wrongdoing, seek first the coming kingdom. Only through repentance and faith can forgiveness and live be granted; that is Yahweh’s Way, as the Lord taught the Jews: “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5).
This also is an aspect of the Master’s teaching, which contrasts greatly to the spirit of our age of mutual respect and toleration. “Accept people as they are” is the maxim of the day; to be seen to “criticise” “judge” or “condemn” the behaviour, or personal habits of another is most frowned upon; and to proclaim to those around us that their behaviour is unacceptable to their Creator, to the extent that He requires them to Repent is considered to be arrogant in the extreme! Who are we, in an age of “equal rights” to criticise another man’s lifestyle?! Nay, the real question, is who are we to ignore the Creator’s call to repentance: “at the times of ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness …” (Acts 17:31,31).
This was the message of Paul to the great Philosophers at Athens. Rather than to engage in endless debates and theological reasonings which they would no doubt delight in, as do the philosophers of our day, he confronted them with the stark facts: The Creator commands all men everywhere to repent. Those who do not will die without hope. If, having heard that command, they reject it and go their own way, they will be rejected at the judgement seat of Christ. That is the ‘bottom line’, so to speak. The call to repentance is no mild plea – it is a Command of the Living Creator and Sustainer of All.
And again, this is a fundamental aspect of things, which is so often removed from modern preaching – even by those who ought to know better. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph 5:11) is the Apostolic command, ignored by men of our day who delight in embracing the dark speculations of church folly, and who teach toleration for the immoral behaviour of the ungodly. The call to repent from wicked works gets hardly a mention in the preaching efforts of our day; the emphasis is on presenting a non-doctrinal, non-confrontational, all-embracing pseudo-Christianity, which appears to accept almost all men as they are. Such is the hollow shell, which passes for Truth in the degenerate society in which we sojourn, deprived of any virtue, sustenance, or life.
THE SONSHIP AND KINGSHIPOF CHRIST
The fact of Christ’s heavenly paternity, was something which the Jews found particularly difficult to grasp, as is repeatedly emphasised in the Gospel recorded through John. Chapter 8 of his spirit-breathed account describes how the Master appealed to the Law, to confirm the legitimacy of his witness:
“It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that beareth witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, “Where is thy Father?” Jesus answered, “Ye neither know Me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known My Father also” (Jno 8:17-19).
They had no conception of the Master’s Divine Origin; knowing neither him, neither his Father. Neither do the divines of our day; professing to know him, they deny him in both word and deed. Falsely claiming him to be a pre-existent deity, part of a Triune godhead, they know neither him, nor his Father as revealed in him.
But, as in our day, the Jew’s lack of knowledge of these matters was solely due to their refusal to accept the facts. They preferred rather to charge the Messiah with blasphemy, rather than to accept his authority as of the only begotten Son.
Again, he rebuked their folly by appealing to the Law which they professed to live by: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods? If he called them Gods to whom the word of God came, (and the scripture cannot be broken;) say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, ‘Thou blasphemest;’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’” (Jno 10:34-36).
Yet, they persisted in seeking to set the Mosaic Law against Christ, by pressing this spurious charge of blasphemy: “We have a law, and by our Law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (Jno 19:7 cp Mat 26:63-65; Lev 24:16), they responded to Pilate, who protested to them the Master’s faultlessness. Again, even when he was impaled for them, as the National sin offering to give them redemption – if they would only hear – they continued in this vain, mocking his claimed Paternity:
“if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said ‘I am the Son of God.” (Mat 27:39-43).
At the time of his sufferings, the Master was thus depised for claims to be both the Son of the Most High, and also the King of Israel.
“We have no king but Caesar”, they cried to Pilate (Jno 19:15, cp Hos 10:3). Indeed, this was their initial charge against him: “we found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a king” (Luke 23:2). Notice this; 2 falsehoods, leading up to a 3rd charge which contained Truth, this truth being their real objection before Pilate, the others brought in to give added weight. So it was, that in this charge the Jews rejected their Messiah, saying “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Mat 19:14).
THE COMING KINGDOM
The appearance of the Master in the land of Judah, was in direct fulfilment of so many things testified in the prophets. The Scriptures that the Jews professed to know every jot and tittle of, plainly spake of the Lord Jesus, who came to fulfil those parts pertaining to his mortal travail, and sufferings upon the accursed tree (cp Luke 18:31, Mark 9:12, 14:21). But those same Scriptures also depict the Christ as exercising dominion over an Israelitish Kingdom restored, a fundamental truth which is lost on so many today.
So it was that even before his birth, Gabriel, in alluding to a number of OT prophecies spoke of this: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32,33, cp Is 9:6,7).
And the Christ himself, being the One who shall establish that kingdom, gave testimony to his disciples that they also would reign over the tribes of Jacob under him: “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve tribes, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mat 19:28, cp Ps 122:4). He presented himself as the King of the restored Kingdom, even to the extent of determining the system of administration, and those who would yet reign with him (cp also Luke 19:12-27). And as if to make the identification of Old Testament passages with him inescapable, he even enacted those passages before the eyes of all:
“When they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me … All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy king cometh unto thee, meek and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” (Mat 21:1-5).
Indeed, the multitude who saw these happenings recognised what the Master was doing, and acted their part, citing OT Scriptures in recognition of their fulfilment:
“The multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Mat 21:9; Ps 118:25,26).
But the Christ also presented himself as being the Judge with the authority to cast out those who stumbled at his sayings, and refused to subject themselves to him. Thus, he spake – again citing prophetic utterances of old: “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner … whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Luke 19:17,18). The Pharisees knew what class of men the Master was describing—and recognised their part in his words. “And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on Him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them” (v 19).
In these things then, we see the Master’s own testimony concerning himself—and the people’s response to it. By contrast to the spirit of those falsely professing to be his disciples of our day, he testified against the world, that it’s deeds were evil. And rather than to accept his authority as both King, and Son of the Highest, those same people who professed recognition of his Divine character, crying “Hosanna in the highest” – those same people rejected him, seeking to extinguish the Light he spake, in rejecting him, and desiring a murderer to be released to them instead (Acts 3:14). Such is the fickleness of the fleshly mind. Yet the promises of the Father stand sure, and so the Master will return, to exercise dominion over his people, and over all the earth—for the Father has decreed it to be (Psalm 2).