THE VIOLENT TAKE IT BY FORCE
Matthew 11:12:And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
Notice the scripture doesn’t say that the kingdom of Earth suffers violence. However that would make much more sense to us.
Why would it say that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence? Is there some sort of cosmic battle taking place in the heavens that we don’t know about? What on Earth does it mean?
Since we have no scriptural basis for a battle taking place in heaven, let’s figure out how this scripture applies to us here on ground level.
THE VIOLENT TAKE IT BY FAITH
He’s talking about faith, because faith is what allows us to storm heaven. It allows us to take heaven by force, to get what we want from God.
Over and over Jesus told his disciples they can have whatever they want from God. He said you can say to this mountain “Be thou removed and be cast into the sea and it will be done.” He said, “Say to this mulberry tree, be plucked from the roots and be cast into the sea and it will be done.”
He was telling the disciples that you can have whatever you want from heaven if you have the faith or it. If you have the faith of a mustard seed, whatever you say, whether it be to the tree or the mountain; it will be done.
He was giving them the key to getting whatever you want on earth, by storming heaven with your faith. Jesus’ disciples proved this.
THE ACTS EXAMPLES
When you read through the book of Acts you find some interesting stories.
When Peter and John were going to the temple, they went up to a man laying there that was begging for alms. That man had never walked. They went up to him and said “stand upright on your feet”, and that’s exactly he did.
Both Peter and Paul raised the dead back to life. Peter told a dead lady name Dorcas to “arise” and she did! A young man had fallen out of a 3rd story window and died when he fell asleep during one of Paul’s meetings. Paul didn’t make a fuss about, rather he laid down on the boy and said his life was still in him, and sure enough - it was! (Acts 9:36-43, Acts 20:7-12)
Paul was on the island of Paphos and was trying to share the gospel with Sergius Paulus the leader of the island. There was another man named Elymas who was a sorcerer and he was trying to convince Sergius that everything Paul was telling them is wrong.
What does Paul do? Does he say: “Listen, Elymas, I’m just trying to have a friendly conversation with your boss here, can you please just step aside and let me talk to him?” Or “I’m a minister of the gospel and I’m trying to do my good deed of the day.”
Is that what he says? NO. He calls him a wicked person and commands him to be blind for a time. It says that immediately a mist came on to his eyes and he couldn’t see. The sorcerer then went around groping and asking for someone to lead him.
Paul caused a man to be blind. Is that a Christian thing to do? Apparently! Apparently our perspective of Christian things to do is a bit different from what the bible actually says.
There is a difference between someone who doesn’t believe in the Gospel and a person who opposes the Gospel.
What was the result of Paul’s action? Sergius Paulus believed the Gospel. (Acts 13:6-12)
Look at Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit about an offering that they gave. What happened to them? They were told “If you repent for doing this thing God will forgive you.” Right?
Wrong. When Ananias was confronted with his deception against God he dropped dead right in front of everyone that was gathered there. About 3 hours later Sapphira came to the disciples (not knowing what had taken place) and was also confronted by Peter. The same thing happened to her: she dropped dead.
That’s not a Christian thing to do, right? It’s not good church growth to kill people in your congregation, especially ones that are giving their finances to the church, right?
I don’t know, maybe the early church knew something we don’t! They definitely had a different way of operating than what we see in today’s church.
The point is that is that Jesus told the disciples you can have whatever you say in faith and the violent are taking the kingdom of heaven by force.
These early disciples weren’t softies. They knew that this life was about eternity and they meant business. They knew how to command the forces of nature into compliance with what they said.
Storming heaven with your faith is the only way you’re going to get anything out of heaven. (See Hebrews 11:1, 6)
DOUBT WILL STOP YOU
The context of what Jesus said about John the baptist was when John was having a moment of doubt.
John had already declared to the world who Jesus was, that He was their savior. (John 1:29-34)
Yet in Matthew 11 as John was taken prisoner he sent some of his disciples to ask of Jesus “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”.
It’s understandable from a human perspective to see why John would have his doubts about whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. The Messiah was coming to rescue His people; I’m sure John wasn’t feeling rescued as he sat in his prison cell.
Faith doesn’t look to our circumstances, it doesn’t walk by sight (senses). Faith only operates in accordance to how we take action on God’s word. Doubt thrives on feelings, so don’t be lead by them.
Doubt will stop you. Faith will propel you forward.
Jesus didn’t send a message back to John saying how sorry he was for him. He didn’t send him a care package. He told John’s disciples “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
It’s not time to have a boo-hoo pitty party for ourselves because life is tough.
It’s not time to sit around and hope that God does something. It’s time for us to get up and do something. That’s the thing that too many Christians are missing. They’re waiting for God to do something in their life.
Jesus has already done everything in our lives that he is able to do. He died on the cross for us, was raised from the dead, and sent us the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. He’s waiting on us to rise up in faith, take hold of His word, and do something!
Deuteronomy 30:14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach)
The word of faith isn’t a message of stepping back, rather it is a command for us to charge forward!
God is waiting for us to say “God, fill me with your Holy Spirit, empower me by your spirit, and use me to share the gospel. Use me to impact this generation. Use me to be a witness to my family. Use me to bring healing, not just to my body but to those who are sick around me.”
Not “God I’m waiting on your timing to get healed. I’m waiting on you Lord to prosper me. I’m just waiting on you.” That’s what too many Christians are doing, they’re just waiting on the Lord for the Lord to just somehow do everything in their life.
TAKING SOMETHING BY FORCE REQUIRES ACTION
In many church bulletins there is a list of sick people that are requesting prayer. That list never gets shorter. It starts out as a few people, 5 years later it’s a full page. There’s something wrong with that picture! People should be getting healed!
When you go on social media people say “I’m dealing with (insert traumatic situation here), please pray,” and everyone comments on it saying “praying”. Or someone has been diagnosed with an illness so you say “Okay, let’s get a prayer chain going”.
I believe in the power of prayer. I know of instances were church members that set themselves to fast and prayer for individuals until they saw the breakthrough happen. Yet that’s not typically the case today. People use the phrase “pray for __” as a way to talk about bad news while sounding spiritual.
You might think I sound skeptical of prayer, I’m not. Real prayer makes a difference. Real prayer doesn’t require being in a church bulletin or prayer chain for years at a time to make a difference. When the early church prayed, they saw immediate results.
Jesus told us to go out and lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. Not sit at home sending out prayer emojis on facebook.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men TAKE it by FORCE. Taking the kingdom of heaven by force isn’t waiting for the kingdom of heaven to come to them. They go out and get it by faith.
What is in the kingdom of heaven? Health, provision, peace, joy, purpose, blessing, and everything that is good.
Like Peter and John did at the temple for the lame man, let’s lay hold of God’s kingdom and bring it here to earth.
Don’t let your faith be idle, put it to work today! You don’t have to wait for somebody else to pray for you - you can make the difference in your life today! You can make the difference in your neighbor’s life today!