The Parable of the Hidden Treasure: Week 25 in “The Kingdom of God: What is it” by Dr Dan Fountain

Reading is very brief for today: Matthew 13:44. The parable of the hidden treasure. “The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.”

This is an interesting parable for its brevity and for what it does not explain. Dr Fountain states it relates to a man who was looking for something he did not have, (implied) otherwise why was he searching, and when he found this treasure hid it again and liquidated his assets in order to purchase the field. It would seem this must have been something that could not be easily removed or he could have simply taken it with him when he found it. But he had to do something in order to complete the purchase of what he believed was an inestimable treasure.

Dr Fountain posits that this man was not satisfied with his present life and worldview. (or at least with the outworking of his worldview) That he was looking for something better to fulfill his life. The hidden treasure is eternal life, a deep, personal relationship with God that lasts forever. The field thus represents the Kingdom of God, a way of life radically different from the man’s old way of life. And this man knows that he cannot get the treasure without leaving his old kingdom, ‘buying’ the new kingdom, and living under the rule of God. We cannot fully possess this marvelous treasure without giving up our old, self-centered way of life. Most people in the world believe the most important person in the world is one’s own self. But the Kingdom of God is completely different. In this kingdom our life is God-centered, not self-centered. He is to rule over all aspects of our lives, affecting all our decisions. We must renounce our old self-centered way of life, accept the rule of God over everything, and enter into a daily walk with Jesus. Too often our evangelistic message has been “Accept this treasure and you will be saved. It is transportable, and you can take it into your old way of life.” But we too often do not each people that salvation means an entirely new way of life. What is the result? Confused Christians, a weak church and idolatry in the Kingdom just as in the days of the Kingdom of Israel.

Questions:

  1. Why is this treasure of eternal life so valuable?
  2. Is it possible to receive eternal life without submitting to the rule of God? What did Jesus say about this?
  3. In practical terms, how are you allowing God to rule over your life?
  4. What will it require to have a strong church that can bring transformation to the world? Why hasn’t this happened yet?

 

Why and How Did Jesus Heal Sick Persons?: Week 24 in “The Kingdom of God: What Is It?” by Dan Fountain

Related reading: Mark 1:29-45, Matthew 15:29-31

Dr Fountain states that “The healing of sick people played a prominent role in the ministry of Jesus. For Jesus, healing, teaching, and preaching went together. I would go so far as to state that for Jesus, preaching, discipling, teaching, delivering people from demons and curing disease were a seamless part of His ministry. (He did all these in the first 24 hours of His ministry as related in the First Chapter of Mark)

Dr Fountain used to refer to this passage in Mark (it was a passage he referred to frequently) as the first open to all “general” clinic in written history. He even states this is when health care as we know it began! The Matthew passage is a bit different in that it says nothing about Jesus doing any preaching or teaching (though we cannot be absolutely certain of this) but that He spent 3 days healing people of all kinds of dis-eases. This He taught to His followers so that they too could save people from the things that destroy life and that mar God’s image in us.

The early Church did indeed carry on this important ministry and became know as a healing community. Rodney Stark in his 1996 work “The Rise of Christianity” explains how this aided in the relatively rapid expansion of the early Church.

What was so unique to this ministry ushered in by a crucified and risen Savior? It was certainly uniquely powerful in the way in which it combined physical and psychological principles of healing with the miraculous power Jesus gave to the Church to carry on His ministry. As Dr Fountain states “He brought healing to the whole person – body, mind and spirit – and He restored people to functional wholeness and the to their community. And modern medicine is coming to recognize the importance of the impact that feelings, emotions, desires, etc can have on human beings. Painful, conflicting and destructive thoughts can, over time, cause damage to many of our organ systems. As God’s word states in Proverbs 14:30:”A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.” Amp version. Jesus healed people as whole persons, showing concern for their feelings, emotions and social conditions and by doing the same we can help many sick persons resolve inner problems and broken relationships. This is the unique calling of the Church and should set our health care efforts apart from the rest. Healing is a ministry of the whole church as well as of trained medical people. The healing of sick persons is part of the work of the Kingdom and should point people to Jesus as the Messiah.

Relevant questions:

  1. Would you agree with Dr Fountain that the Mark 1 passage discussed represents the first “general clinic” in recorded history? Is it a relevant model for today?
  2. What role did healing sick people play in the ministry of Jesus? Should it be that way for the 21st century Church? How can it be?
  3. What is lacking in modern “medical” care? What can we do about it?
  4. What should our churches be doing to care for the whole person?

 

Discipline in the Kingdom of God: Week 23 in “The Kingdom of God, what is it? by Dr Dan Fountain

as always I recommend you buy the book this series is based on.

Reading this week is Matthew 5, 6, and 7.

I think Matthew 5 (specifically what is referred to as the Beatitudes) is one of the most beloved sections of the NT. If anything represents what non-Christians love about Jesus and His ministry it is what he teaches in Matt 5: 3-12. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and those who are gentle. As are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and those who are merciful. The pure in heart and the peacemakers, etc. These are characteristics we all can agree are worthy of our pursuit. But that is just the beginning of Jesus’ teaching in these 3 chapters. It is one continual sermon. Dr Fountain simply and effectively outlines things for us:

Matthew 5:3-12 – attitudes. We are to be :

  1. without pretension spiritually, recognizing our dependence on God
  2. aware of our sinful condition
  3. humble, accepting the role the Lord has given us no matter what it is
  4. driven to conform to God’s daily requirements for us, and to live in a right relationship with Him and with those around us
  5. merciful, showing kindness and compassion without prejudice
  6. pure in heart, being obedient to Him in all things
  7. peacemakers, bringers of shalom/peace
  8. willing to endure abuse for His names sake

Matthew 5:13-48

  • being disciplined in living a Kingdom life we bring light into dark places through good works that have a saving effect within the society in which we live
  • life in the Kingdom is primarily an inward life of being conformed to the minds and will of God. Outward actions are the expressions of our inner life. We are to live in full obedience to His law in our thoughts and attitudes as well as in our outward actions.
  • we must control our anger
  • adultery begins in the desires of the heart and is not just an outward immoral act. Marriage is sacred.
  • our speech and communications must show complete integrity, consistency and sincerity.
  • revenge has no place in the kingdom of God. We resist those who seek to do evil by shaming them with our good works and our refusal to become violent. Love our enemies and reach out to them to help and bless them.

Matthew 6:1-18 Acts of charity, private and public prayer and fasting are between us and God. We should do them with diligence, humbly and without seeking the attention or praise of man.

Matthew 6:19-34 Confidence in the provisions of God

  • spiritual treasure is eternal; material is temporal.
  • we accumulate real treasure serving God and others
  • we should return to God what remains beyond our needs.
  • we should plan but not worry!
  • we are to consult with Him constantly and trust Him to handle our resources better than we can

Matthew 7 Further instructions.

  • being judgmental of others has a reverse effect. The way we judge others will be applied to us.
  • God is the only one who can judge the inner character and motives of people.
  • we can ask God for what we need for our life and our service for Him but not in a selfish and self-centered way.
  • the kingdom of God is real. So is that of the enemy.
  • the path to the kingdom of God is narrow and will be difficult but it is the path of life.
  • we see the true values that people cling to in their actions
  • obedience to God characterizes people in the Kingdom of God. We enter by faith, He knows us personally, provides for us and works with us.

Some questions:

  1. What must we do to learn the discipline of the Kingdom of God?
  2. How does this inner discipline manifest itself outwardly in our behavior?
  3. How will it affect our relationship with other people?
  4. How will it affect our relationship with God?
  5. How should we go about providing for our needs and for those of our family and using the rest for God and His purposes?