Matthew R. Perry

Butter Knives or Ginsus?

In Sermons on July 2, 2007 at 9:09 am

In your opinion, which demographic is the most difficult to reach for the Gospel? Some would say those who grew up in unbelieving homes. Some would say those who have chosen the path of academics. Some would say that the most difficult group to reach are those trapped in various types of addiction such as sex, gambling, drugs, alcohol, and the like. The list could go on.

After living in Kentucky for almost ten years, and after almost four years of being your pastor and living in southeast Fayette County, I believe there is a rather significant group that dots the landscape of our country. When we begin to engage them in conversation, we will find them by far the most difficult group to reach for the Gospel. Who are they? They are those who have been intellectually convinced of the value of the Gospel, but they see little need to commit their all to Christ. They know the contents of the Gospel, yet they do not commit to the One who is the Gospel, Jesus Christ.

John MacArthur, Senior Pastor of the Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, spoke at a youth conference a number of years ago. After the conference, one teenage girl asked to talk to Dr. MacArthur about her relationship with her boyfriend. He was pressuring her to do something rather immoral, claiming that as long as no one gets hurt, there is no problem.

When I reminded her of what God says about sex outside of marriage, she hung her head and said, “I know that. I need to be saved.” She also revealed that she had not only been raised in the church, but also that her dad was a pastor. I replied, “Then you know how to be saved.” “No,” she responded, “I’ve heard my father preach on it, but I don’t understand it.” She was a picture of spiritual sluggishness, for she had heard the gospel all her life, but she had rejected Jesus Christ for so long that her senses were dulled by sin. The gospel became so unclear to her that she could no longer understand it. She thought her father’s sermons were boring and made no sense. It was not that there was something wrong with the message; it was that she was indifferent to the Word of God.

This morning we look at one of the most difficult passages in all Scripture to understand: Hebrews 5:11-6:8. Many of us as Christians who have their various ways of thinking firmly ingrained will certainly find some difficulties, regardless of your position on certain doctrines. Some say the writer wrote passage to Christians and use this to promote their idea that one may lose their salvation. Some say he wrote to Christians but to non-Christians who associated closely with Christians — even to the point of accepting their message.

This portion of the epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jews who find themselves intrigued and even attracted to the Gospel. They go so far as to identify themselves with a local congregation. Yet the commitment to the Lord Jesus stood as the primary obstacle. They settled for too little spiritually. They were, as C.S. Lewis noted, “far too easily pleased.”

What about you? Are you indifferent to the Word of God? Has the passion you had for him cooled and dulled? Are you simply setting in your spiritual walk — or are you pressing on the upward way? In our spiritual walk, we must not settle for something less. Our challenge this morning is this: we must be willing to press on toward maturity.

Why Settle For Dullness When You Could Be Razor Sharp?

Do you remember those commercials from the 1980s which had this fellow trying to cut a simple vegetable with a “regular” knife, but was having trouble? Then the narrator said, “Why settle for a regular knife when you could have a Ginsu?” The Ginsu would then proceed to cut through a Buick, then turn around and cut up a tomato.

Ladies and gentlemen, too many of us are settling for a butter knife faith that could not cut through the issues of this world — but God desires for us to have a Ginsu faith where our trust in His Word can cut through the most devastating of issues this world has to offer. Look at Hebrews 5:11-14:

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:11-14, ESV).

The writer of Hebrews wants to go in-depth about the glories of the Gospel, but given their dullness of hearing he hesitated. This dullness literally means “slow, sluggish, indolent, dull, languid. ” The writer lamented the lazy response his listeners had to the Word. A lazy heart ultimately results in a hardened heart. Notice the writer’s warning in Hebrews 4:7-11:

Again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience (Hebrews 4:7-11, ESV).

That last verse which says, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:7-11a, ESV), speaks volumes about the dangers of settling for milk rather than desiring the nourishment of the meat of the Word.

Do you find yourself content with your diet of milk? Do you desire to strive for meat? Do you offer excuses as to why you do no study the Scriptures?

Howard Hendricks in his wonderful book, “Living By the Book,” introduces us to numerous people who come to our churches and their respective views on Bible study. He tells us about Ken who is a CEO with many responsibilities and believes that the issues with which he deals on a day-to-day basis are not addressed in the Bible. He questions the Scripture’s relevance. Then we have Wendy who has tried to study the Bible, but does not know how to go about it. Americans possess more of a visual mentality than a reading mentality. Next is Linda, who is a busy mother of three who feels she does not have time to read the Scriptures. This problem is a matter of priorities. Toni doubts the Bible’s authority, questioning whether the story of Jonah really happened and questioning whether you can really know what the Bible has to say authoritatively. George finds the Bible boring to read and hard to understand. The list is lengthy — and sad!

Hear what Jonathan Edwards says:

It becomes one who is called to be a soldier, to excel in the art of war. It becomes a mariner, to excel in the art of navigation. . . . So it becomes all such as profess to be Christians, and to devote themselves to the practice of Christianity, to endeavour to excel in the knowledge of divinity.

This knowledge is key for one of many reasons. “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14, ESV). If we as Christians are not diligent in growing and learning the “basic principles of the oracles of God” (Hebrews 5:12b, ESV), then the filter in our minds and hearts will not function correctly.

(This portion was preached on Sunday, July 1, 2007 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You can listen to the sermon in its entirety by clicking here.)

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