Were we founded to be a Christian Nation? No.
We are a nation founded on Biblical and Christian principles.
There is only 1 chosen Nation: Israel.
The OT is written to a Nation and it has individual implications.
The NT is written to individuals w/ group implications.
The more members of the group who are Christians, followers of Jesus, have believed and received Jesus’ gift of taking the punishment for our sins,
God treats Christians differently than He does those who don’t believe.
Christians are children of God and He disciplines us out of love.
Non-Christians face the wrath of God, His violent anger.
So, greater number of individual Christians in a group the more of God’s love saturates the group.
So, what about the group of men who founded the United States of America?
What makes them a Founding Father?
Signed the Declaration of Independence
Signed the Articles of Confederation
Signed the U.S. Constitution
Attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787
Served as Senators of the 1st Federal Congress
Served as U.S. Rep’s of the 1st Federal Congress
What about these men? What did they believe? How did they worship and practice their beliefs?
6 Dutch/German Reformed
Keep all of this in mind during the various debates regarding the separation of Church and State.
The Founding Fathers did not separate the two. The phrase isn’t found anywhere in the founding docs.
They did establish that there would not be one state church.
They declared their independence from England where there was one church recognized by the state, the Church of England.
29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were ordained pastors from the various denominations and faiths represented.
It’s safe to say that just because all of these men attended church, not all of them had a personal relationship with Jesus.
That said, a large majority DO.
These men, when confronted with the question, “Who is Jesus?” Came to the conclusion that He is the Messiah and no one gets into Heaven except thru believing in Him.
It matters much less what church you attend, how you worship, and how you practice what you believe.
When given these options, is Jesus a Lunatic, Liar, or Lord; they accepted Him as the Lord of their life.
When confronted w/ these questions, there are only 2 possible options.
Either He is Who He says He is, or He isn’t. There is no middle ground.
If He isn’t, He’s either a Lunatic, not knowing the difference between truth and error; or He’s lying, knowing He’s not the Messiah but saying so anyway.
Or, He is.
Either way, everyone either intentionally or passively has decided which side of these questions they land on.
You couldn’t hear Him speak and watch Him work, or read about it now, w/out having to make this decision about Him.
People were first confronted with these questions long before 1776.
It was a.d. 31 when a significant threshold was crossed.
After a very basic exorcism that very little was written about. The reactions of the people were much more significant and served as the ultimate rejection of Jesus by the Jews as The Messiah opening the door for the inclusion of Non-Jews and the eventual establishment of the church.
The issue at hand? Who is the source of the power and authority of Jesus?
Is He a Lunatic, Liar, or The Lord?
Miracle #12. . .
Martha complained that Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet while she worked and served Him.
Why did Jesus say it was preferable to sit at His feet over working so hard?
The disciples asked and He gave them this model to use in their prayer lives.
[Pray the Prayer]
Why pray? Why pray this way? Why pray to Jesus?
Into His 2nd year of ministry. Many sermons and miracles and the number of His followers was growing. He was an effective recruiter.
What gives Jesus the right to form a group of followers?
The answer to the questions in all 3 situations is:
God is working through Jesus, Who in turn is bring the kingdom, victory and judgment.
So, as everyone here watches Him work and hears Him speak, it forces the question: Who do you think He is?
A Lunatic, Liar, or The Lord?
Some people got it, some completely missed it.
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.
“Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke,”
Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.
Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
Matthew said he caused the man to be both mute and blind.
Matthew has a little different purpose in his writing in that he is going to use this miracle and Jesus’ subsequent teaching to illustrate that Israel is blind and couldn’t see what God wanted them to see.
Come to Jesus and you’ll be able to see things you haven’t been able to see before.
Beyond this, a pretty simple, basic exorcism. Jesus has done this many times. He spoke and the demon had to leave.
As soon as the demon left, the man could speak.
Not much to it. So, if this was the point, then we’d be done.
But, as always, it isn’t. There is much more going on here. The real story is the people’s reaction to what Jesus just did.
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
The people are amazed. They marvel at what they see.
Not necessarily a good thing.
When the AZ Cardinals jump out to a huge only to have the other team come back and win. You might be both amazed and mad at the same time.
People can be amazed and still not like what they see.
Do they realize what they are looking at?
Isaiah wrote what would be seen when the Messiah showed up.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
Clear, irrefutable evidence. And they missed it.
Hence, Matthew addressing the issue of their blindness.
In Mt. they ask, “Is He the Son of David?”
They still question: Who is this Jesus? Is He Who He says He is?
They all started talking, at once. Kind of like when you all arrive here. I can’t understand anyone’s conversation b/c everyone is talking.
“Explain what you think just happened!”
Some of them outright thought His power and authority to cast out demons came from Beelzebub.
A ref to Satan. The name came from Baal, the Canaanite god and Baal-zebub the PHilistine god.
A rough translation of Beelzebub is “Lord of the Flies.”
The Prince of Death. Satan Himself.
Anyone who brings a sign should be tested. And this kind of power and authority could only come from one of two places.
The question is, which one?
So, to help them clarify their understanding, they give Jesus a mandate.
They want more proof. The jury is still out. Not clear yet.
Show us a sign from Heaven. One more sign and we’ll make our decision.
Remember, this is miracle #12 that we know a lot about. There have been mass healings like after Peter’s mother-in-law.
There have been numerous sermons and signs. Yet, they want another one.
What would be a good enough sign?
Jesus has made it clear already that no one can demand a sign. He only does the work that the Father tells Him to do.
That should be enough. So, just pay attention. They already had enough evidence. They don’t need any more signs.
Here’s a little more irony: The crowd seeks a sign. Jesus is reading their minds, knows what they are thinking.
That’s a pretty good sign.
So, in light of what they are asking and thinking, Jesus responds.
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
So, by whose power and authority does Jesus do these things?
Either God or Satan. No one else has this kind of power.
Satan is this powerful. So, could it be Him?
Jesus asks a question: How can Satan have a standing kingdom if he is working against himself?
No divided house stands, even an evil one.
Satan has to be unified in his efforts to destroy people. Once he has control of one, he won’t let him go willfully.
Civil war is destructive on every level.
They cannot claim Satan has an active strong presence in the world and claim he is fighting himself.
It makes no sense. Both cannot be true.
Jesus asks a second question: If (Jesus) performs exorcisms by Satan’s power, what does it say about Jewish exorcists?
This was a much more common issue in the c.1 middle-east.
So, there were those that they agreed w/ who were doing the same thing that Jesus did here.
Why don’t you accept Jesus like you do your Jewish leaders?
“They will be your judges.” IOW, if you reject me on these grounds, then you reject them, too. And, they will judge and reject you.
They aren’t working for Satan, and neither is Jesus.
And, BTW, Jesus will reject you, too.
If Satan is casting out Satan you have little to worry about. His kingdom will collapse. However, if not, then you are in big trouble.
So, what if His power and authority come from God?
Jesus asks them this 3rd question: What if (Jesus) is casting out demons by God’s power and authority?
Then, it’s a sign that the Kingdom is ready to be established and Jesus is the King.
Anyone who accepts this as truth will be a part of the kingdom. Everyone who does not is in serious trouble.
As it turns out the kingdom is established in 2 phases. The first is w/ Jesus ruling from the right hand of God in Heaven. The second is when He will come to earth and rule here during His millennial reign.
The power of God is more powerful than the power of Satan.
Jesus tells them a parable to help them understand what is happening.
There is a war going on. It is a cosmic struggle.
Satan is the strong man whose home is secure.
He is the Prince of this world. This is his home and he guards it with all of his armor and weaponry.
Jesus is the stronger man who overpowers him.
Satan is powerful and his protections are strong. But Jesus is more powerful.
Satan loses a battle when he loses someone he has had control over.
He lost the war when he couldn’t keep Jesus in His grave.
His armor is stripped away. His property will be divided up.
He is vulnerable. No more protection, no more weapons.
Satan is no longer in control. Victory belongs to Jesus.
Jesus is so much more powerful he casts out demons w/ just a word and w/out a struggle.
He still has mastery over a majority of people but his days are numbered and his end is in sight.
The point of the parable?
To not join Jesus is to be against him. There are no neutral positions. There is a war going on for the souls of people.
Everyone must choose a side. In reality, everyone has chosen a side. By not choosing you have chosen.
There are no Switzerlands in this war.
B/C choosing Jesus requires a volition, intention, complete surrender.
It is a uniquely American, Western idea that all roads lead to God. Every one of the world’s major religions teaches that they are the only way to get to God.
But only one, Christianity, has a Messiah Who has proved that He can really get us there.
Jesus gathers and unites. Satan is united in scattering, dividing, and conquering.
Either we follow Jesus and join with Him in bringing others into the kingdom, or we stand against Him and influence people not to come.
To decide not to believe in Jesus, not to follow Him, is to decide that His work is Satanic - which is impossible.
But that’s the only other choice.
To decide to join Him is to share in the special benefits that emerge from the victory of Jesus, the One who is stronger than Satan.
This is the decision that everyone on earth throughout history is faced w/ making.
Is Jesus Who He says He is? Is He a Lunatic, Liar, or is He the Lord?
Don’t passively let this opportunity go by.
And, don’t let the people you care about allow their opportunity to pass by. Be a gatherer to Jesus, with Jesus.
Each one of us is either w/ Him or against Him.
It’s not a question of if there will be one more sign. We have the Word that describes enough of the teaching and performance of Jesus to be able to decide right now.
Jesus is the Messiah, not just a Miracle Worker.
His highest priority is not to help us beat death here on earth and enjoy a comfortable existence.
His highest priority is to help us beat death into Heaven and enjoy an eternity with God.
No matter how hard life might be now, or from time to time, bank on the fact that in the end, we win.
Jesus has brought us victory.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Jesus has demonstrated that He has power and authority over evil.
Be aware of it, respect it, but do not fear it.
Though he has lost the war, Satan will not give up the battles for each individual life, marriage, family, or career.
But it only takes Jesus one word to free a captive. Cry out to Jesus and He will set you free.
It might be the battle of our lives, but it’s only
Be a gatherer. Jesus unifies. He is the Prince of Peace.
Make unity a priority. Bring people together in your family, on your block, in your clubs, and in this county.
The NT was written to individuals. And the more individuals in your various groups who believe in and follow Jesus, means the more your groups will enjoy the blessings that God offers His children.
Pray for an awakening of the believers in this country.
Pray for a revival among those who have chosen not to follow, yet.
As the individual citizens of this country go w/ or w/out God, so will our nation go.
Each of us must decide, is Jesus a Lunatic, a Liar, or The Lord?
Then, help gather those closest to us and help them w/ the same decision.