Evangelism: Barriers to Reaching Cultural Christians, Matthew 23 Part 2

September 13, 2020 Livestream Worship

Evangelism: Barriers to Reaching Cultural Christians, Matthew 23 Part 2

Our teaching about evangelism is not behavior modification.

It is vital that we understand in our study of the church and the New Testament’s 9 indicators of what a NT church is, that we not think or believe we are preaching behavior modification.

Our evangelism happens out of a joyful delight, not a dreadful duty. 

As we have hit the pause button on the indicator of Evangelism to study it and our culture that we must speak the gospel into, we must remember that all of our efforts have to flow from the gospel as a joyful and delightful act of “want to” obediences NOT a dreadful duty that has the hopes of pleasing God. 

The indicative comes before the imperative in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. 

Exodus 20. Romans. Peter. John. 

The gospel is the message that makes new creatures that delight to obey. 

Evangelism happens joyfully and effectively from a person who delights in Jesus. 

So, if you are feeling like obeying these indicators is a dreadful duty, let me help you out. 

The Good News of the Kingdom!

Matthew 23

Extra Expositional Note: Jesus teaching on the blessing of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 and the woes of Matthew 23 should remind us of the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 27 and 28. 

The spiritual leaders when Jesus entered time and space have become the pawns of Rome, and they are manipulated into keeping the Pax Romana, with religious concessions, fake freedom, and fake power through access to Pilate and Herod to voice their desires and complaints. 

AD 70 would teach them how fake it all was when Rome decided they’d had enough of Jewish trouble by leveling the city, killing everyone they could, and chasing the remaining survivors down to the last stand at the fortress of Masada in the Judean wilderness. 

Jesus knows this is coming, and he is on the very verge of his sacrifice of on the cross at the hands of the Father to pay for sin for all who would believe. This is the passionate setting Jesus preaches Matthew 23 from.

Perhaps the Pharisees’ plot to catch Jesus in his words in Matthew 22:15-22 regarding whether they should pay taxes to Caesar or not is the catalyst setting the stage for Jesus to speak prophetically to the people like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Amos did when he sent them to bring his people back. 

Lets read Matthew 23 and look at the barriers that cultural Judaism has constructed.

Lets see if the Word of God will reveal some cultural barriers for us to tear down. 


  1. They preach extra-biblical “teachings” and don’t actually practice them. 23:3-4
    1. These guys had catalogs of books on every possible scenario of how to practice certain laws and had completely missed the point of the passage.
    2. They were knowledge heavy and obedience light.  
  2. They practice spiritual things for the sake of being thought of as spiritual. 23:5-12
    1. They do their deeds to be seen by others. 23:5-12
      1. This happens in corporate prayer far too often…mimicking people we admire rather than just praying.
      2. Preachers preaching sermons or preaching like their favorite preacher. 
        1. Zero authenticity and just being us redeemed in Christ. 
  3. Make the kingdom Inaccessible. 23:13
    1. They shut the kingdom in people’s faces.
      1. Shut – “firm closing”. While claiming to be about the kingdom they were effectively shutting people out of the kingdom
        1. Does our hospitality keep people on the outside?
        2. Does our sin form an atmospheric barrier that repels people who may come to Jesus?
  4. Mission minded but missing the kingdom. 23:15
    1. They take mission excursions to win converts rather than make disciples.
      1. Jesus seems to draw a distinction between proselytes or converts and disciples. 
        1. Proselyte/Convert – Adopted an external system of religious devotion since coming from one nation into another.
        2. Disciple – One who literally follows another and learns from the one they are following.
          1. One is connected to a person and one is connected to a standard.
  5. They teach false doctrine. 23:16-22
    1. They are using language and concepts taken from the text of Scripture, but they’ve radically missed the point. 
      1. Example: Matthew 18:20 used to teach God is present in small gatherings as much as large gatherings. (SEE DEUTERONOMY 19:15-21)
  6. Ignore the practical love of neighbor in favor of lesser forms of giving to the Lord. 23:23-24
    1. They give abundant finances yet neglect issues of righteousness worked out in their world.
  7. Skin deep righteousness. 23:25-28
    1. They observe all of the outward rituals to look the part yet inside they are full of sin and death and darkness. 
  8. They condemn themselves by blindly testifying that their fathers were guilty while doing the same thing to Jesus who sent the prophets to their fathers while believing they are actually being different. 23:29-36, 32
    1. They are completely publicly self-deceived and doing the same thing only in a different form.
      1. Is there anything we are self-deceived over in our world? Can’t see? 
      2. Public self-deception is a “turn off” for people who are on the outside and evaluating us. 
        1. There are prophets crying out in the wilderness today. Do you hear them? Are you aware there are issues playing out in the public square in which we are either silent or potentially on the wrong side?


  1. Self-evaluate.
  2. Evaluate and repent if necessary. 
    1. No evangelism or ministry succeeds in God’s eyes when we have things that keep people from coming into the light of the kingdom of God.
  3. Seek out ways to see if the Lord would actually do Ezekiel 36:37-38 with us. 
    1. Ezekiel 36:37-38 (ESV) Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
  4. Worship the Lord in obedience and in singing praise to the one who has made a way for us. 

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