Matthew 11 contains three important questions related to the kingdom of heaven. The first pertained to its King. John the Baptist’s disciples asked Jesus, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (v. 3). Our Lord responded by citing miraculous evidences of His own kingship (vv. 4-5).
The second question pertained to John. Jesus asked the multitudes, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see?” (v. 7). He then affirmed John’s greatness, which was distinct from worldly conceptions of greatness (v. 8). This is a greatness that exhibits the King’s glory rather than its own (vv. 9-11) and one that engages spiritual warfare willingly and faithfully (vv. 12-14).
Finally, Jesus asks the third question to vindicate the kingdom of heaven against the accusations of its enemies: “But whereunto shall I liken this generation?” (v. 16). The perversity of Christ’s generation made this vindication necessary. He mentions two evidences of this perverseness: (1) they alleged that John, a great prophet, was demon-possessed; and (2) they called Christ a glutton, a drunkard, and “a friend of publicans and sinners” (vv. 18-19).
Christ further explains that wisdom is justified ultimately by her children (v. 19). Inquiries into the nature of the Lord’s miraculous life vaguely understood this justification. Some asked rhetorically on one occasion, “Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” (John 10:21). Christ’s power to heal the blind demonstrated that the slander of His enemies was baseless. Nevertheless, that perverse generation believed the slander, disregarded the miracles, and finally crucified the Lord of glory between two convicted criminals (Acts 4:22-23; 1 Cor. 2:8). John’s life and ministry deserved better than the cruel end Herod’s executioners brought upon him (Matt. 14:10).
Our own generation is comparable to the generation that crucified our Lord. The often vicious slander and careless misinterpretation of the heritage of biblical fundamentalism finds its precedent in Matthew 11. The perfect King graciously uses imperfect men and movements to vindicate His wisdom against the attacks of the world as He builds His church. By His grace the heritage of fundamentalism encompasses the salvation of countless souls; the establishment of biblical churches, denominations, fellowships, colleges, and seminaries; a world-wide missions outreach; spiritual and temporal relief beyond calculation; and, through these and other ministries, blessings innumerable to nations and peoples around the world.
Christ warned that our challenge in the world would be similar to His: “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (Matt. 10:25). Today, the prince of the power of the air has at his disposal technological weapons of slanderous attack unimaginable to the disciples who heard Christ on that day. Yet nothing changes the simple truth expressed then—that it should be enough for a disciple to be like his master.
Therefore, the delegates to the 70th annual convention of the American Council of Christian Churches, meeting October 18-20, 2011 at the Bible Evangelical Methodist Church of Lancaster, PA, renew our commitment to be like our Master, unashamed of our heritage as biblical fundamentalists, and confident in the assurance that wisdom ultimately is vindicated by her deeds. We further resolve to support faithful brethren, by prayer and by other means at our disposal, who have suffered the assaults of a world that is hostile to the gospel.
Picture: St. Mary’s Church in Lutterworth, England, where the morning star of the reformation, John Wycliffe, opposed Catholic error and translated the Scriptures into vernacular English. By 6jan2009 (Own work by the original uploader) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.