Thursday, December 8, 2016

Matthew 11:2-11 Signs of the Kingdom Gospel

KEY TEXT: Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

KEY THOT: When John the Baptist sent his disciples to verify that Jesus was indeed the Christ, Jesus' reply to John's disciples was simply to point to his miraculous works: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them." Jesus implied that his works confirmed his self-identity as spelt out in Isaiah's prophecy: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy" (Isaiah 35:5-6). And such miraculous signs continue to mark the ministry of his disciples as attestation of the truth of the Gospel: "And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs" (Mark 16:20). This is further affirmed in Hebrews 2:3-4, "how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."

Unfortunately, Western bible teachers influenced by the legacy of rationalism and anti-supernaturalism of the Enlightenment era (18th & 19th century) have denied the supernatural in the Bible as they sought to align Scripture with the secularizing spirit of their contemporary culture. This disdain for the supernatural has also infected many Asian pastors educated in subsequent Western seminaries. But whenever the Gospel was proclaimed by indigenous preachers not educated in Western secularized seminaries, they display the same supernatural signs in their ministry as the first disciples did. In fact, this factor plays a major role in worldwide evangelization of Europe in the early centuries and contemporary Asian, African and Latin-American societies. Western theologians tend to either reject such signs in psychological categories or as unusual "revivals". But for indigenous preachers and pastors who take God's Word and the Gospel seriously, the presence of supernatural signs is just normal Christianity if the Gospel is indeed the truth of God.

Pastors who are trained in Western or Western-styled seminaries need to be aware of the secularization of theological education. If the Gospel is to be heard and accepted in Asian societies whose cultures are often defined by religious worldviews populated by gods, demi-gods and demons, it would have to be proclaimed like it was by the Lord Jesus and his early apostles: "proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons" (Matthew 10:7-8).

Only then would the people be assured (as John the Baptist was) that Jesus is indeed the Christ that has come.

Father, deliver us from the theological blindness caused by secularized seminary education. Open our eyes to believe in Your Word alone. Amen

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments.