Matthew R. Perry

Taking Care of How You Hear, Part III: The Proper Pedigree

In Church Life on January 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

(This sermon was preached on January 25, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.  You may listen to the mp3 , then go to listen to other sermons in the archive.  Take time to read Luke 8:16-21.  Part I and Part II are here as well.)

In Luke 8:19-21, we read:

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. [20] And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” [21] But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

We see that Jesus is teaching the crowd that has gathered. Some trust him (such as his disciples, to whom he revealed the secrets of the Kingdom – Luke 8:10), but some did not, which is why he spoke in parables. As he is teaching, he is interrupted by his family.

We know that God instituted the family—it was the first institution He created. We understand that the fifth commandment is to honor our father and mother (repeated numerous times in the New Testament) so that our days may be long on the earth is of utmost importance.

Yet, how does one reconcile these words with what Jesus says here? Is he showing disrespect to his biological family? No, not at all. He always gave them the respect due them. But He always kept the proper relationships in the proper priorities! His biological family confronted him, but then shows that his spiritual family was what possessed ultimate priority.

But notice how he identifies His spiritual family? “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it.” Mark 3:35 in the parallel passage notes, “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Put these two passages together, and you begin to see the picture: the will of God and the Word of God seem to be equivalent. You cannot know and do the will of God without knowing and doing the Word of God. The Word of God does not simply show us His will, it is His will.

So, two questions loom. First, are you hearing the Word? By that, I mean are you fully engaged in the Word both personally in your devotions and publicly as it is read and expounded upon? Kent Hughes speaks of how an example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer helped him. During the years of Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer ran an underground seminary. He was intelligent and had a very discerning mind able to critique correctly on many levels. In his preaching class, he would listen to his young seminary students preach, setting aside his pencil and opening up his Bible –regardless of how poor the sermon was. He believed that preaching God’s Word ought to be attended to as whether we listen to the very voice of God.

He’s not overstating it. Preaching Christ crucified, the entire point of the Scriptures, is as listening to God Himself because it is His Word empowered by His Spirit.

Once that is established, what then? The Spirit may be convicting you this morning about your view of the Word. He may be convicting you that you may be coming to church for what church means to you rather than what Christ means to His church and how you may serve Christ. The point of our gathering together is that you may feast on the glories and riches of Christ so you may have the spiritual wherewithal to serve Him. Remember, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice “in view of God’s mercies.”

Conclusion

Michael Horton is his new book Christless Christianity serves us well with two scenarios that are often found in our churches. The first service is geared on God’s work for us—the Father’s gracious plan, the Son’s saving life, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit’s work of bring life to the valley of dry bones through the proclamation of Christ. The preaching focuses on God’s work in history found in Genesis to Revelation to redeem sinners from their plight. Trained and ordained to mine the Scriptures’ riches for the benefits of God’s people while the ministers push their agendas in the background so that God’s Word is clearly proclaimed. The congregations are receivers, recipients of grace enjoying the bread of heaven. Having been served the Word, they go into the world filled with praise and thanksgiving for all the God has accomplished through Christ. Because they have been served the Word in its depths, they are able to engage those they encounter with a clear picture of God’s work in history and are able to communicate this with unbelievers they come across.

Contrast this with church #2. The church is it’s own personal community in which people assume they come to do something. The emphasis is on their work for God. The preaching concentrates on principles and steps to living a better life, with a constant stream of exhortations: Be more committed, read your Bible more. Pray more. Witness more. Give more. Get involved in this cause or that movement to save the world. Their calling by God to secular vocations is secondary to finding their ministry in the church. The result is a group who work due to a charismatic leader rather than being motivated by knowledge and godliness. They always serve, but are rarely served. They have to shepherd themselves, and are thus ill-informed about God’s grand work in his history. All they can talk about is their own “personal testimony,” slogans, formulas. They are so busy with church-related activities, they have no time to develop relationships outside the church. Yet, if someone were to bring this friend to church, they would wonder if they would ever hear the gospel!

I give these scenarios because we must realize the primary reason and point of why we do what we do—to hear the Word of God so that it may take root in our hearts and bear fruit in every area
of our lives. The best way Boone’s Creek Baptist Church can serve you is by giving you the Word.

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