Sermon #67 Series: Matthew
Title: The Master’s Last Public Words
Text: Matthew 23:34-39
Reading: B. Daugherty, Mark Henson
Subject: Unbelief – The Cause of Wrath and Judgment
Date: Tuesday Evening - December 12, 1995
Tape # S-5
We have before us the last words ever spoken in public by our Lord Jesus Christ, not the last words he spoke, but the last words he spoke in public to the multitudes and particularly to the Jewish nation. These words, which are some of the most solemn and stern words ever spoken by him. They are words of judgment from the God-man, whose heart was full of pity. Read these remarkable words with me – Matthew 23: 34-39.
This passage of Scripture, so often twisted and perverted by Arminians, in their vain attempts to disprove the gospel of God’s free grace in Christ, is in fact not a passage showing that salvation is by man’s will but rather a passage declaring that man’s ruin and everlasting destruction is by his will.
In these verses, our Lord is declaring to the scribes, and Pharisees, and Jewish people that the basis of God, judgment and the cause of their spiritual ruin was their obstinate, willful unbelief.
That which our Lord asserts concerning the nation of Israel is equally true where we are concerned. There is nothing that keeps a man out of heaven but his own unwillingness to bow to Christ, receive him and believe on him as Lord and Savior (John 5:46; 6:37-40; 7:37-38). Israel did not enter into the lad of promise for only one reason – Unbelief! (Heb. 4). That nation perished, not because God would not be gracious to them, but because they would not trust him (Isa. 48:18-19). And if I miss heaven, if you miss heaven, it will be because of our own, willful unbelief. There is nothing that keeps a man out of heave but his own will. But, there is nothing that will keep a man out of hell but God’s will. The decree of God open the doors of heaven for a great, innumerable multitude of sinners. But the decree of God does not shut the doors of heaven against anyone. Be sure you understand this. Eternal life is by God’s will, God’s gift, and God’s work.
But eternal death is the result of man’s will, man’s work, and man’s merit.
With those things in mind, I want us to look again at The Master’s Last Public Words (Matt. 23:34-39), and see what the Holy Spirit is teaching us by these recorded words of our Savior.
I. First, learn this – God Almighty Graciously Gives The Wicked Space For Repentance (v. 34).
In this verse, our Lord speaks of his apostles as prophets, wise men, and scribes. And there is a sense in which all true gospel preachers may be described as such.
As God sent his servants to the Jews and gave them repeated warnings, message, after message, after message, so he does today. God does not allow men to sin without rebuke. He does not allow iniquity to go unchecked in anyone. With every transgression, with every breach of God’s law, man must trample under his feet the hedge of warnings. God has planted about him.
A. Your conscience is God’s law written on your heart, by which God speaks to those who have not had their consciences seared (Rom. 2:14-15).
B. The Lord God knocks at your door, gets your attention by sickness, afflictions, bereavements, and fearful “brushes with death” – But you soon shake it off again.
He opens the grave under your eye, destroys your idols, and then stirs your soul. But you soon forget.
Illus: Cattle in the Field.
C. How often the Lord God gives a summons to sinner by the preaching of the Word.
Frequently, men and women experience soul trouble, but do not know what is happening. Blind, deaf, and dead, they do not understand the Lord’s ways. So, they harden their hearts.
But soon everyone will see and understand, “God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.” (Job 33:14). In the day of judgment, when it is too late, everyone will realize that There is a voice in every providence, saying, “Turn ye, turn ye! Why will ye die?” (Ezek. 33:11).
D. I put that question to you now – “Why will ye die?”
1. Justice has been satisfied by Christ.
2. Righteousness has been brought in by Christ.
3. All who trust the Son of God are saved by him.
o John 6:40
o Hebrews 7:25
II. Second, learn this – The Lord God takes notice of the way people treat his servants. (vv. 34-36).
God’s servants in this world are often bilified and scandalized by those who oppose them, held in contempt by those whom they serve, despised and abused by some who pretend to love them. Frequently, people who would not openly abuse God’s messenger will abuse his wife and children. Such people think, “No one really knows what I am doing. What fools!
There is a day of reckoning coming. If not in this world, in the next, those men and women will understand that their actions were observed by God, punished by God (in their own experiences – their own family – their own woes), and shall be a matter of eternal ruin, not only for themselves but for their children, and their children’s children. Now let’s see if I can make good on that…
A. Who would ever have imagined that the dying words of Zacharias would find their fulfillment in his murderers descendants, not only when he was murdered, but 800 years later?
Illus: Joan’s Question.
B. Our Lord declares that anything done to one of his servants is done to him.
C. On one occasion, some children were mocking God’s prophet, and God sent two bears to destroy them – Forty-two at One Time!
1. Be warned, God will destroy those who would destroy his kingdom (I Cor. 3:16-17).
2. God’s servants should find great satisfaction in this – The God we serve will not allow any to get by with the abuse of his servants – There is an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and a Hand that records everything done against God’s servants.
He who lives forever says, “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye” (Zech. 2:8). Yes, “God requireth things that are past” (Eccles. 3:15).
III. Third, This passage of Holy Scripture declares that false prophets, lost religious leaders are murderers of men’s souls. (v. 37).
Our Lord did not say, “How often would I have gathered you, and you would not.” Nor “How often would I have gathered thy children, and they would not.” Rather he says “How often would I have gathered thy children and ye would not!
This verse of Scripture must be understood in its context.
· Our Lord was condemning the scribes and Pharisees.
· He is saying the same thing here as he said in verse 13.
IV. Fourth, Our Lord Jesus Christ exemplified what a true preacher of the gospel is and must be one who is full of compassion and care for men’s souls. (v. 37).
These words express the will of Christ as a man, a preacher, not his immutable will as God. It refers to our Lord’s human affection for his fellow men.
· Mark 10:21
· Luke 14:41
· Luke 22:42
NOTE: Our Lord’s understanding of God’s absolute sovereign, election, particular redemption, and irresistible grace did not keep him from caring about the souls of men.
Illus: Paul – Rom. 9:2-4; 10:1
V. Fifth, These words from the Master teach us that all who are forever lost are lost through their own fault – (vv. 37-39).
Three things are clearly established in these last three verses.
A. The cause of man’s ruin is his own will.
“Impotent as man is by nature – unable to think a good thought of himself, - without power to turn himself to faith and calling upon God, - he still appears to have a mighty ability to ruin his own soul.” – (J.C. Ryle)
B. Often eternal ruin begins in this world with judicial reprobation (v. 38).
· Hosea 4:17
C. There is a day coming when all men shall see and acknowledge who Christ is and what he has done (v. 39).
· Philippians 2:9-11
1. The Wicked – To Their Eternal Cursedness.
2. The Righteous – To Their Eternal Blessedness.
1. If we are saved, we will be saved by grace alone.
2. If we are destroyed, we must destroy ourselves.
· Hosea 13:9