Matthew R. Perry

Archive for the ‘For Seminary Students’ Category

Jesus’ Poor Evangelism Techniques

In Church Life, Evangelism, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching on December 5, 2008 at 11:29 am

When churches and church leaders begin studying methods and techniques of our culture rather than what God has laid out in His Word, even the best intentioned leaders will find themselves straying from God’s will–even when the numbers and results say otherwise.

I grew up on the tail end of a revivalism era where many evangelists would come into a church to conduct “revival services” asking those to “admit they were sinners” and to “come to Jesus” so you will “go to heaven.” Laced with tear-jerking stories and sparse exposition of Scriptures (which the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword), many would be emotionally moved. Revival services were considered great successes when great numbers would come.

I wonder how many who subscribe to this would look at Jesus’ evangelism techniques and say, “Wow, Jesus really missed it this time.” I am thinking of the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19:16-30. Notice a number of things:

1. Jesus had a willing seeker. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Matthew 20:16). If that’s not a willing seeker, I don’t know what is! He clearly had a concern about his spiritual status before God. Jesus had someone ready.

2. Jesus had an influential seeker. This was a rich ruler, meaning he was part of the Sanhedrin, a.k.a. the Jewish Supreme Court. For many in our day, to have such an influential inquirer would be considered a great blessing. To those with questionable motives, this man needs to get into a church and learn the importance of giving to the Lord’s work!

3. Having such a convert would help make some in-roads into the Scribes and Pharisees world. No doubt that this would cause a stir.

But notice what Jesus does:

1. While many would be ready to bring them into the Kingdom right away, Jesus puts up roadblocks! “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 20:17 ).

Two things to notice here. First, he puts the inquirer on his heels by questioning his notion of ‘goodness.’ Only God is good, and only God can save. In essence, Jesus is saying, “Are you approaching me because I am good or say good things? Are you attributing to me the trait of being able to give life? Are you saying I am the Son of God — because only God and His Son can do this?”

Secondly, he puts up the barrier of the commandments. “Keep the commandments,” Jesus tells him. If you want life, obey God to the fullest extent! Yet, the ruler questioned which commandments he should obey! Jesus lists off the Second Tablet commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

What are the significance of these? These are relational commandments — how one deals with another human being. The Scribes and Pharisees struggled with this. They loved obeying the minutiae of the law, but felt themselves morally superior to the common folk of the day. These were serious issues, given how they were God’s covenant priests who represented Him.

The rich young ruler felt himself capable of entering the Kingdom due to his adequate keeping of the commandments. In other words, he did not see himself as “falling short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He did not see himself as a sinner in need of a Savior. He saw himself as a good man in need of vindication of his good works.

3. Jesus dug deep to the true obstacle of his heart. “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 20:21). Whereas many preachers and evangelists call for an easy-believism, Jesus rejected this notion and told the young man to come face-to-face with the core problem/sin that is the obstacle for eternal life. His possessions were his god — if he is not willing to give up his god, he cannot receive eternal life. If he wants the treasure of eternal life in heaven, yet will not give up the treasure here on earth, he cannot be a part of the Kingdom.

Many in our churches would never say that Jesus’ evangelism techniques were poor, but given how so few model him in showing how inquirers should count the cost of denying themselves and taking up their cross, we wonder why so few who say they are Christians really look very much like everyone else.

Right before dcTalk’s great song from 1995 called “What If I Stumble?”, a preacher (I believe it was Brennan Manning) spoke this: “The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who mouth Jesus with their lips but deny him by their lifestyle. That’s what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Maybe its because many Christians have not learned the lesson of denying self and taking up the cross of Christ daily.

May that not be said of us!

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Has God Called You? Discerning the Call to Preach (Mohler)

In For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching on February 11, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, gives a great post on how to discern God’s call to preach. Below is an excerpt:

Has God called you to ministry? Though all Christians are called to serve the cause of Christ, God calls certain persons to serve the Church as pastors and other ministers. Writing to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul confirmed that if a man aspires to be a pastor, “it is a fine work he aspires to do.” [I Timothy 3:1, NASB] Likewise, it is a high honor to be called of God into the ministry of the Church. How do you know if God is calling you?

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The Church Needs Creeds and Deeds

In Apologetics, Culture, Evangelism, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Missions, News, Preaching, Religious Organizations, SBC, Theology on January 8, 2008 at 8:59 am

Recently, in response to a letter submitted to our Kentucky state Baptist paper‘s Baptist Forum section that seemed to say “No creed but the Bible,” I felt the need to respond to this mindset. Given how many Southern Baptists are straying to other cults such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses because of the lack of biblical depth they possess, I wrote the following.

I am saddened and stunned at the outcry of those who lament how Southern Baptists seek to clarify doctrinal issues concerning the Scriptures, God, Christ, the church, and family. And yet all of us show the same type of shock when we see that of all the denominations from which the cults steal their sheep, Southern Baptist are their primary source of growth. Why is this?

It is because we Southern Baptists define ourselves more by what we do than by what we believe. Look back over older Western Recorder editions: they spent more time teaching what the Scriptures say rather than talking about missions and church growth almost to the exclusion of doctrinal beliefs. In fact, when Southern Baptists take a stand, they are derided as uncaring, academic, and divisive.

I am all for loving Jesus, but I believe creeds are just as valuable as the deeds. Both must be present — both the content of Scripture as well as the fruit of obedience to the Scriptures. I am for loving the Jesus of the Bible who has clear attributes and had a clear mission for His people. Until Southern Baptist rigorously study who Jesus is, what He has done, what the implications are for us who claim to be Christ-followers, what he expects from His Church and its individual members, we will continue to be fodder for those who deny the faith as we will cease to grow in any significant and spiritual way. Numbers are not the only way to grow a church — we need to be sure there are enough faithful in the church already as well!

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We Need to Study God’s Word — And God’s People — In Our Preaching

In Apologetics, Church Life, Culture, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching on November 15, 2007 at 10:46 am

eku.jpgTonight, I’ll be speaking to the Campus Crusade students on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. I would appreciate your prayers. It is a rush, really, to see over 250 students come on a Thursday night to fellowship with God’s people and hear God’s Word. Adam Dixon is the new leader of the EKUCRU, so please keep Adam in your prayers.

A number of these college students come to Boone’s Creek — and I must say they have really helped my preaching. College students are inundated with so many philosophical, spiritual, and social worldviews that we preachers need to be aware of these issues and speak directly to them from a biblical perspective. I’m becoming more and more convinced that we must know and study our people as well as know and study the Word. Graham Johnston, in his book Preaching to a Postmodern World, notes that we cannot expect that our regular church listeners “subscribe to a Christian worldview” (p. 14). Listen to this quote:

When the speaker demonstrates an understanding of contemporary concerns and issues as well as the pressures to reject a biblical worldview, listeners will sense a personal interest. Listeners today will have their antenna up, looking for the speaker’s personal agenda or angle. Is the speaker’s desire to wield influence or chalk up another notch on the response list? When compassion and mercy flow from the messenger, people may walk away having listened and be unwilling to embrace the message and yet still maintain an openness because they perceived genuine concern (p. 69).

Having been preaching for five years and in ministry for fifteen, I’m just now starting to understand that we must love the truth and love our doctrine as well as love our people (hmm, Ephesians 4:15 still applies, yes?).   Some have said that we evangelicals care more about the Bible than we do people.  While the Bible is certainly our authority, we must remember why God left us here — as a salt-and-light witness to those around us (Matthew 5:13-16).

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. [14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I do not think that this sermon for tonight will be recorded, but I’ll try and fill you in as best as I can.

We Need to Study God’s Word — And God’s People — In Our Preaching

In Apologetics, Church Life, Culture, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching on November 15, 2007 at 10:46 am

eku.jpgTonight, I’ll be speaking to the Campus Crusade students on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. I would appreciate your prayers. It is a rush, really, to see over 250 students come on a Thursday night to fellowship with God’s people and hear God’s Word. Adam Dixon is the new leader of the EKUCRU, so please keep Adam in your prayers.

A number of these college students come to Boone’s Creek — and I must say they have really helped my preaching. College students are inundated with so many philosophical, spiritual, and social worldviews that we preachers need to be aware of these issues and speak directly to them from a biblical perspective. I’m becoming more and more convinced that we must know and study our people as well as know and study the Word. Graham Johnston, in his book Preaching to a Postmodern World, notes that we cannot expect that our regular church listeners “subscribe to a Christian worldview” (p. 14). Listen to this quote:

When the speaker demonstrates an understanding of contemporary concerns and issues as well as the pressures to reject a biblical worldview, listeners will sense a personal interest. Listeners today will have their antenna up, looking for the speaker’s personal agenda or angle. Is the speaker’s desire to wield influence or chalk up another notch on the response list? When compassion and mercy flow from the messenger, people may walk away having listened and be unwilling to embrace the message and yet still maintain an openness because they perceived genuine concern (p. 69).

Having been preaching for five years and in ministry for fifteen, I’m just now starting to understand that we must love the truth and love our doctrine as well as love our people (hmm, Ephesians 4:15 still applies, yes?).   Some have said that we evangelicals care more about the Bible than we do people.  While the Bible is certainly our authority, we must remember why God left us here — as a salt-and-light witness to those around us (Matthew 5:13-16).

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. [14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I do not think that this sermon for tonight will be recorded, but I’ll try and fill you in as best as I can.

Speaking with Conviction and Authority

In For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching, Sermons on November 7, 2007 at 5:29 pm

As a preacher and a speaker, I see how crucial it is in our day to speak with conviction and authority — to state clearly and unapologetically what I believe and why I believe it. Taylor Mali speaks here on conviction and authority — watch it to the end!

(HT: Rick Mansfield/Theron Mathis)

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Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Part III: Be Readied For His Return

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching, Sermons on November 2, 2007 at 12:01 am

(If you would like to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You may also read the Introduction , Part I  and Part II to this blog series.)

Jude 14-16 says:

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage (Jude 14-16, ESV).

Jude now weighs in by telling his people the future of these apostates: they will see clearly what they should have seen previously — the reality of God’s authority. Second Peter 3:1-4 gives a warning to all potential and present apostates of the judgment to come:

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:1-4, ESV).

These apostates deny God’s authority in the past, present, and even in future events such as the promise of his coming! Yet, the first one to prophesy about their attitude was not Peter — the prophesying of this went back to Enoch. While the Scripture contain little information about Enoch, Jude retrieves this quote from The Book of Enoch, a well-known work in Palestine during Jude’s day. Though this book is not inspired and does not belong in the Bible, the Spirit used this quote to communicate something rather significant to us: when we deny the authority of God in the world and in our hearts, consequences ensue. What are those consequences?

First, Jude tells us that the holy ones (that is, the angels) will come to “execute judgment on all” (Jude 14, ESV). The “all” here deals with those apostate false teachers — and their judgment will be hell itself. Why? Read on, “… and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14b). If you have your Bibles with you, read back over that portion I just read to you. Notice how many times the word or word form of “ungodly” was used: four times! The significance of this is obvious.

These apostates deny the authority of God and his Word. They failed to see the examples of the disobedient ones of the past, they fail to hear the authoritative Word of God in the here and now — and they fail to care about the consequences of the future. In fact, the true church of Jesus Christ can identify who these wolves are by reading Jude 16: “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”

By now, many of you are saying, “Bro. Matt, this just seems to be too much. The church should be all about love and peace. People need to hear about some positive issues and about how loving Jesus is.” Fair enough! People do indeed need to know about the grand love of God, how rich and pure it is — how measureless and strong! Yet, we need to know that God loves us enough to warn us when wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing come into our midst.

I shall never forget the time I was in sixth grade — around 1982. We were having fun that day — learning fun areas in science, playing football and basketball during gym class, and other activities that day which made me excited to be at school. During the day, however, we had a surprise drill. This drill was not an ordinary fire drill — this drill took place so we would be ready in case of a nuclear attack. Instead of school being a time where we enjoyed ourselves, the teacher took us to the place where we would go and began to tell us about the effects of nuclear weapons and how we were to take care of ourselves. This information was not fun to hear, but we certainly needed this information to heighten our awareness.

I love Boone’s Creek Baptist Church. I love all of you. I love the community and the city in which we are located. I love hearing the choir sing. I love the fellowship of our Sunday School class. I love the brotherhood the deacons and I share together. I love the missions trips we take. I love seeing people come to know the Lord and be set free from their captivity to sin. I love seeing fellow brothers and sisters who move to Lexington come and join our church to help us advance the cause of Christ. All of these items make being a pastor at this church fun for me.

Yet, I am not so naïve as to think that wolves will never attempt to enter into the flock. Satan is described as a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour. We tend to forget about him, don’t we? Yet, God has given us his armor to put on. Why? “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11, ESV). How can we be ready?

First, know that God sent Jesus Christ into the world not only to save us from our sin and to be Lord, but to ready us for his return. First Thessalonians 5:2-3 tells us,

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thes. 5:2-3, ESV).

Secondly, know that Christ has assured us of victory in the here and hereafter. In Matthew 16, after Simon Peter replied to Jesus’ inquiry, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:17-18, ESV). In 1 Corinthians 1 Cor. 15:55-58, Paul encourages the Corinthian church:

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:55-58, ESV).

Church, we can be steadfast and immovable because of the victory accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ. The war is won — but many battles take place. We must be ready not only for his return, but readied because of his return. He will come back and avenge his church. When? Revelation 6:9-11 tells us:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been (Rev. 6:9-11, ESV).

The result?

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Rev. 19:1-2, ESV).

If Christ will keep and avenge those who are martyred, he shall keep us who persevere in the faith! Be ready for his return — and be readied when you consider his return. He will redeem his people, and execute judgment on the ungodly.

Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Part II: Pursue the Right Passion

In Church Life, Culture, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching, Sermons on October 31, 2007 at 10:30 pm

(If you would like to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You may also read the Introduction and Part I to this blog series.)

Read with me Jude 8-13:

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unrea-s oning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever (Jude 8-13, ESV).

If you grew up watching an old Looney Toons™ cartoon of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, you may recall how these cartoons always began. They would show the Roadrunner at top speed, then do a freeze frame with the subtitle of the name of his character along with some humorous pseudo-Latin phrase like “Runnicus Fastus.” Then the cartoon would show Wile E. Coyote chasing after him — employing the same freeze frame with the subtitle of his name, etc.

Unlike those cartoons, false teachers are not accompanied by that manner of subtitle and description. On the contrary, false teachers operate by stealth. Jesus described them in Matthew 7:15 in this manner: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15, ESV). This type of covert operation by these false teachers is a type of spiritual terrorism. John MacArthur notes, “Political terrorists can inflict material damage and physical death, but apostates disguised as genuine teachers can subvert God’s truth and entice people to believe damning lies.”

Rather than relying on what God revealed through his authoritative Word, these false teachers begin to, as Jude says, “rely on their dreams” (Jude 8). Throughout biblical history, we see how God used men such as Joseph in Egypt, Daniel, and Joseph (Mary’s husband) to convey his Word and plan. Yet, when in our day we hear of people dreaming dreams outside of the authority and pursuing visions and dreams that are the product of their fleshly imaginations rather than by the heavenly revelation of God. The result is a defilement of the flesh, a rejection on the external authority of God for the internal authority of their imaginations, and an utter blaspheming of the angelic servants of God. Second Peter 2:10 describes these apostates further as “those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” (2 Peter 2:10b, ESV). Here, Jude shows us the character of these apostates.

Church history (and world history) is littered with various types of cults who have deviated from the Christian faith and pursue other realms due to their perverted passions. Joseph Smith believed he received a vision of the angel Moroni who led him to a set of golden plates which served as the basis of the Book of Mormon. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Scientism, believed God revealed her writings. Charles Taze Russell and Judge Rutherford of the Jehovah’s Witnesses followed their own musings. Same with Mohammed and the followers of Islam, those in the New Age movement, even those in Roman Catholicism who insist on adding to the Scriptures with their Sacred Traditions. Each of these cults and religions all come down to one issue: a hatred for the authority of God as revealed in the Scriptures alone.

We stand on a very slippery slope when we begin to question the authority of God and the message of his servants. Even the archangel Michael would not pronounce anything toward Satan, even though his downfall is sealed. He simply appealed to the authority of the Lord by saying, “The Lord rebuke you.” What is Jude talking about?

A Jewish story found in a book called The Assumption of Moses claims that God sent Michael the archangel to bury Moses, but the devil came along and said that Moses’ body belonged to him, since that body existed in the physical realm. Michael responded quite opposite to how these apostate false teachers respond. He came in the authority of God and appealed to the authority of God when he said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Plus, in reading Deut. 33:1-4, we see the role the angels played when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai:

This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said,

“The Lord came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand.
Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you,
when Moses commanded us a law,
as a possession for the assembly of Jacob (Deuteronomy 33:1-4, ESV).

The false teachers claim to have an understanding of the spiritual realm, but in reality they live exclusively in the physical realm. The dreams they dream are from their own imagination. The words they speak originate from their own fleshly reasoning equating them with the animals who simply respond to their own instincts and appetites.

Again, Jude gives a history lesson. In verse 11, he says that they “walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s rebellion and perished in Korah’s rebellion.” Genesis 4 shows how Cain was jealous of the relationship his brother Abel had with God and, in turn, how God accepted his sacrifice. Others, in reference to Balaam’s rebellion, seek to surround themselves with speakers who will tell them exactly what they desire to hear. In 2 Peter 2:15, we see they are “Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing” (2 Peter 2:15, ESV).

What do these apostates look like? Jude gives five descriptions: fearless, waterless, fruitless, tempestuous, and aimless.

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Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Part I: Move Toward the Right Master

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching, Sermons on October 31, 2007 at 12:01 am

Look again with me at Jude 5-7:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Notice how Jude teaches his people: he does not simply tell his people about these and say, “Watch out for them!” He takes time to give examples from the Old Testament to reinforce the consequences for the denying the authority of Almighty God. He speaks of three specific examples: the unfaithful Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, the disobedient angels, and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. Out of all the examples contained in the Old Testament that warn the readers about pursuing the wrong master, why would Jude bring forth these particular examples? Here, we can refer to 2 Peter 1:12 in which the Apostle Peter says, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.”

In verse 5, Jude reminds the his people about the unbelieving Israelites who, though they were the direct recipients of God’s gracious deliverance from Pharaoh and saw firsthand God’s leadership as he led them through the desert, continually grumbled about their situation. As a result of their unbelief he “destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5, ESV). God shows the nature of this verdict in Numbers 14:32-38:

But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ I, the Lord, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the Lord. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive (Numbers 14:32-38, ESV).

In verse 6, Jude moves on to discuss the disobedient angels. We do not know which angels sinned nor how they sinned, although verse seven certainly sheds light on this when in describing Sodom and Gomorrah “which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” When Lucifer and his followers rebelled against God who in turn cast them out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12), some of these deviant angels engaged in sexual immorality outside of their domain. In Genesis 6:1-4, we see what the possible infraction was.

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown (Genesis 6:1-4, ESV).

Second Peter 2:4 articulates exactly what happened to these angels: “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment” (2 Peter 2:4, ESV).

The last example is the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, as we may read through in Genesis 18-19. Rather than pursuing what Creator God and his order, they “pursued natural desire” (Jude 7, ESV) or as other versions better put it, they “went after strange flesh” (Jude 7, NASB).

Do you see the similarities? They all left the boundaries which God, who made them and had sole authority over them, drew for them. These examples serve as real-life illustrations to teach us a lesson of never straying from God’s authority. Unbelief leads to condemnation. Sadly, some never learn that lesson. Do not find yourself counted among that number.

Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Introduction

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Politics, Preaching, Sermons on October 30, 2007 at 12:01 pm

(If you would like to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.)

Since I moved to Lexington, I have become a fan on the Cincinnati Bengals, a professional football team. The Bengals have some very talented players and have a very excited style of play. What impresses me the most is their fan base: regardless of how well or how poorly the Bengals are playing (currently, they are 2-5 on what is turning out to be a very disappointing season), the fans always sell out the home games and continue to support the Bengals every step of the way.

Yet, the Bengals currently have issues. Over the past year, nine of the players had trouble with the police. More recently at the end of one game against a very strong New England Patriots team, one could see a lot of bickering on the sidelines. Receivers were bickering with coaches, teammates were bickering with one another, and the result was a divided effort that resulted in defeat. After the game, those in the corridor outside the Bengals’ locker room could hear Marvin Lewis screaming at his players one thought repeatedly: selfishness. In other words, the Bengals’ alleged problem in their locker room stems from a resistance to, and even a denial of, authority. Instead of allowing the coaches to lead, the players think they should lead and be the authority on the team.

Sadly, we should continually drive home this lesson: the greatest enemy to any organization (the church of Jesus Christ included) is not persecution from the outside of that organization, but division from the inside. History has continually borne this lesson out. Holy Scripture contains this lesson. Turn with me if you will to the tiny letter of Jude as we read Jude 5-16:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage (Jude 5-16, ESV).

May God add his blessing to the reading of his holy Word — may we not only read it but also heed it as the Spirit applies this Word to our hearts.

The theme of the entire book of Jude is found in Jude 3: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3, ESV). Warren Wiersbe rightly says, “Jude had started to write a quiet devotional letter about salvation, but the Spirit led him to put down his harp and sound the trumpet! The Epistle of Jude is a call to arms.”

Why would Jude issue this “call to arms”? Apostate false teachers had crept into the assembly. Jude, who identifies himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1a, ESV), warns of those who creep in among God’s people with a designation for condemnation, ungodliness and (by their actions) “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4b, ESV). These false teachers reject authority, take what God has given, and use this to gratify their own fleshly desires. These men are the ones Paul railed against in his letter to the Romans when he said, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Romans 6:1-2, ESV)? This libertarian mindset is poison to the church.

(Tomorrow: Part I — Remember: Move Toward the Right Master)

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