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1-22-23 The Other Realm

The Other Realm (Matthew 4:12-25)

David Peterson / General

Matthew 4:12–25

Sermon type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: The rule of God comes as we are brought into God’s realm, i.e., heaven. This realm of the Spirit is connected to the changing/renewing of the mind which causes us to act and feel like Christ.


1. The future has drawn near—Chat GPT

ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer)[1] is a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family of large language models, and is fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning[2]) with both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.

ChatGPT was launched as a prototype on November 30, 2022, and quickly garnered attention for its detailed responses and articulate answers across many domains of knowledge. Its uneven factual accuracy was identified as a significant drawback.[3] Following the release of ChatGPT, OpenAI was valued at $29 billion. (Wikipedia)

2. The fullness is yet to come, only a speck of what it will be.

I. Heaven—The Realm of God (Matt. 4:17)

1. Heaven in Matthew’s gospel.

In the New Testament, the word “heaven” is found most frequently in Matthew (84 times). The author of Matthew frequently contrasts “heaven” and “earth.” Heaven is the place where treasures are to be accumulated—not on earth (Matt 6:19–20). The follower of Jesus should call no one on earth his father—he has but one Father in heaven (Matt 23:9). The Christian prayer is for the kingdom of the Father in heaven to come—and manifest itself on earth (Matt 6:9, 10). Jesus’ message in Matthew is described in terms of a contrast between heaven and earth—showing the superiority of heaven (Pennington, Heaven and Earth, 210). But heaven and earth will not always stand in contrast. The goal of God’s redemptive plan in Jesus is not the removal of the earth in the sense of being replaced with a kingdom in heaven, but is instead the renewal of all things so the earthly realms will resemble the heavenly pattern (Matt 6:9–10; 19:28; Pennington, Heaven and Earth, 210).

Seal, D. (2016). Heaven. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

2. The realm of spirit. God is a spirit, “the Eternal Spirit”

Heaven is the dwelling place for Christ from before time with God, and also for angels, Satan, and evil spirits. For Christ, heaven is his place of origin before coming to earth, and his destination at the Ascension. It is the locus for Christ’s activity on behalf of the Church, and from which he comes at the Parousia. Soteriologically, heaven is the arena of the true Jerusalem of God’s mercy, blessings, and truth. The blessed reside in heaven via ascension. In the Prophets and the Psalms, heaven is the seat of divine sovereignty.

Kirk-Duggan, C. A. (2000). Heaven. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 564). W.B. Eerdmans.

A list of things we believe in but cannot see:

Dark matter and dark energy, which are thought to make up the majority of the universe’s mass-energy content, but have not been directly observed.

The Higgs boson, a particle that is believed to give other particles mass, but has not been directly observed.

The existence of extra dimensions beyond the four we experience in our everyday lives (three spatial dimensions and one time dimension).

The existence of parallel universes in the multiverse theory.

Quantum mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement, which are inferred from their effects on the behavior of particles, but have not been directly observed.

The mathematical concept of infinities and infinitesimals in calculus, which are used to describe certain physical phenomena.

The existence of gravitons, which are thought to be the particles that mediate the force of gravity, but have not been directly observed.

The existence of cosmic inflation, a brief period of rapid expansion thought to have occurred in the very early universe, but has not been directly observed.

The existence of Black Holes, which are inferred by their gravitational pull, but never actually observed.

The existence of dark flow, a mysterious large-scale motion of galaxy clusters that is inferred from measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, but has not been directly observed.

(List generated on Chat CPT on Jan 22, 2023 in answer to the query, “Give me a list of things we infer but have never actually observed in physics.)

1. The place of perfection, being in complete alignment with God’s will. The immediate presence of God.

2. We are the creature that can enter into heavenly reality.

Heaven—a Place

Heaven is a place (John 14:2), but the Bible does not locate it. However, it is where God and Christ are, and that will be heaven enough. It is a place of glory. Gold and precious stones (Rev. 21:18ff.) suggest moral values; white robes (Rev. 6:11) imply purity; there will be leaves for healing (Rev. 22:2) and crowns for victory (Rev. 4:10). The unclean will not be there (Rev. 21:27).

—Herschel H. Hobbs

Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (pp. 149–150). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

II. The Whole of Life—The Scope of God’s Realm (Matt. 4:20, 22, 23-24)

1. Jesus is the realm of God come near and made accessible.

2. He must reign in our lives like know other King can reign. He must reign in the heart and mind (see Geikie quote).

3. We are shaped by ideas/beliefs, which lead to attitudes and affections, which issue forth in actions. see The Consequences of Ideas by R.C. Sproul

He neither expected nor desired noisy popularity , for He knew that His Kingdom could grow only by the secret conviction of soul after soul .

Yet , in one sense , it was already complete in every new disciple , for each heart that received Him was a spot in which it was fully set up – its laws accepted , and the will and affections entirely His . To every new adherent He was more than king , for He reigned over their whole nature , with a majesty such as no other king could command . The highest bliss of each was to have no thought or wish apart from His , for in the measure of likeness to Him , lay their spiritual purity , peace , and joy . They felt that to become His disciples , was to anticipate the brightest hopes of the eternal world , for it was to have their bosoms filled with the light and love of God . Earth never saw such a king , or such a kingdom .

The Life and Words of Christ, Cunningham Geikie 1891

Ideas Have Trajectories

Ideas have trajectories to them. It’s a bit like the moonshot. When the rocket is aimed at the moon some 200,000 miles away, it has to be precise. What may be just a millimeter off within the first mile or so of the earth’s atmosphere will be a huge miss when out toward the moon. Ideas have this same quality about them. They have their trajectories.

Source: Ben Patterson, “Why God is Father, not Mother,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 161.

The study, a working paper titled “Opiates of The Masses? Deaths of Despair and The Decline of American Religion” by Tyler Giles, Daniel M. Hungerman and Tamar Oostrom, uses data from the General Social Survey to show that religious practice has a significant impact on deaths of despair.

“We show that the initial rise in deaths of despair in the U.S. was preceded by a large decline in organized religious participation and that both trends were driven by white middle-aged Americans,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion of the study.

“We know of no other cultural phenomenon involving such large, widespread changes in participation prior to the initial rise in U.S. mortality, nor do we know of any other phenomenon that matches the seemingly idiosyncratic patterns observed for mortality: seen for both men and women, but not in other countries, and in both rural and urban settings, but driven primarily by middle-aged, less educated white individuals,” they explained. “We also show that religiosity and the rate of deaths of despair are negatively correlated across states; states with high levels of religiosity have suffered less from mortality due to alcohol, suicides, or drug poisonings.”

Decline in church attendance drove deaths of despair among middle-aged white population: study


III. Repentance (and faith)—The Way into That Realm (Matt. 4:17)

1. A change of direction/orientation, literally change of mind (metanoia)

2. What you trust is what you focus on and follow—Jesus is the concrete point of reference (“our chief prophet and teacher” and the one to rule us, “our eternal King”, Heidelberg Catechism) He is the light.

It is a change of mind about sin and self and the Savior.—Vance Havner

Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed., p. 662). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Be Glad It Hurts

I recall hearing a doctor say, “So long as a diseased appendix hurts there is hope for a safe removal. The danger period is when it stops hurting. It may mean the appendix has burst, spreading poison throughout the entire body.” So be glad that when you sin, your conscience still hurts and leads you toward repentance.

Hobbs, H. H. (1990). My favorite illustrations (p. 225). Broadman Press.

“There is a great difference between repentance and remorse. When Judas Iscariot had betrayed the Lord, he was overwhelmed by remorse and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5). When Simon Peter had denied the Lord, he wept bitter tears of repentance (Matthew 26:75). The remorseful sinner hastens from Christ; the penitent flees to him.”

SOURCE: R. B. Kuiper, God-Centred Evangelism (Banner of Truth, 1966), 153.

3. Biblical steps for renewing the mind after the likeness of Christ

Read and meditate on the Word of God (Psalm 1:2; Joshua 1:8).

Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowerment (John 14:26; Ephesians 3:16-17).

Confess and repent of sins (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13).

Practice forgiveness towards others (Mark 11:25; Ephesians 4:32).

Cultivate a heart of gratitude (Psalm 100:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Practice self-control and self-discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27; Proverbs 25:28).

Seek to grow in knowledge of God and His ways (Jeremiah 9:23-24; Colossians 1:9-10).

Practice humility and servant-hood (Matthew 20:26-27; Philippians 2:3-4).

Surround yourself with like-minded believers who will encourage and support you in your growth (Hebrews 10:24-25; Proverbs 27:17).

Continuously surrender your will and desires to God (Romans 12:1-2; James 4:7).

(List generated on Chat CPT on Jan 22, 2023 in answer to the query, “Give me a list of steps for renewing the mind in the likeness of Christ with Bible references.”)


To Be Like Him!

What can it mean to be like Him?

I, to be like my dear Lord?

I could not believe it, had I not

The promise of His precious Word.

I, with follies and failures,

I, with my weakness and sin,

To be like the Lord in His beauty,

Perfect without and within?

He, whom the angels, adoring,

Veil from His glory their eyes,

He, who one glad day will take me

To dwell in His home in the skies?

O, I am weary with waiting,

Sick of this old self of mine!

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly,

And give me a spirit like thine!

—Martha Snell Nicholson


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