Matthew R. Perry

Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

When Jesus Turns Us Upside Down (Luke 9:18-27)

In Gospel, History, Salvation on April 20, 2009 at 10:08 am

(You may access this sermon here.  This was preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY on Sunday, April 19, 2009.)

If you were to go to the library of Congress and look up the topic or person most written about to the tune of 17,000 books, that person would be the person of Jesus—more than twice the number of the next highest (William Shakespeare).[1] He is a person of great fascination to almost everyone in America. People from orthodox, Bible-believing Christians to even atheists, Buddhists, and Hindus make a claim about Jesus—and we can understand why. Since our country’s foundation, Jesus began to be removed from doctrines and creeds of orthodox Christianity with folks riding through our land saying, “No creed but the Bible.” Soon, liberal theologians came along and began to dislodge Jesus from the Bible itself, making it very easy to make Jesus very personal and flexible enough to craft him in whatever image we wish him to be.

Over the last few chapters, Luke has been setting up for the reader who exactly Jesus is! After Jesus forgave the woman in sin who interrupted his dinner with the Pharisees, they asked among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:49).

After Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25). In Luke 9:9, Herod asked, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?” So everyone he came across (the Pharisees, the disciples, and Herod) were perplexed at who Jesus was.

The time had come for Jesus to pull them aside and make clear not only who He was, but what was in store for him—and what is in store for us if we choose to follow him.

1. Are we turned upside down by the world’s view of Christ? (Luke 9:18-20)?

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" 19And they answered, "John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen." 20Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God."

In these verses, Christ asks two very important questions—the most important questions for the church today. Yet, before we even get into this, what was Jesus doing? Verse 18 says, “Now it happened that as he was praying alone… .” If you read through the gospels, before every major event, Jesus steals away alone and spends time with His Father. If you remember, he prayed alone prior to his baptism, to his selection of his disciples, and we’ll see next week that he prayed alone right before what’s known as his Transfiguration, and countless other times. So why here?

Jesus prays to the Father so they would fully understand not only what they themselves should know about Christ, but also what the world says about him as well. Since everyone, especially in America, seems not only to have an opinion about Jesus, but claim to have Jesus on their side regardless of who they are, we have to be aware.

Right now, I’m reading through a book by Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University in the introduction of his book, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, tells his readers what is not his intention with his book. In the process as he gives us an understanding of who we see Jesus as:

Here I ignore Native American and Hispanic Jesuses, and devote scant attention to liturgical traditions such as Roman Catholicism, Episcopalianism, and Lutheranism. I say nothing about the gay Jesuses … nor do I explore the claim of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, the Jesus was “the most scientific man that ever trod the globe,” nor the provocation the The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) that Jesus had sex with Mary Magdalene.[2]

You may say, “Why do I need to know what he was not intending to write about?” Simply because we see so many ways so many people see Jesus, not informed by what God reveals in the Scriptures, but simply by their own wishes, desires, and speculations. There is nothing new under the sun—everyone who has come across Jesus has inquired about him.

What is so significant about this question is obvious: Jesus wanted his disciples to process what the world thought about Him—and we need to reflect and process what the world thinks about him today.

  • With the onslaught of the Muslim faith coming on, we need to know that they consider Jesus a great prophet in a line of many great prophets, but not the great prophet which is Mohammed.
  • We need to know what the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about Jesus in that he is not fully God.
  • We need to know what even the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement believes regarding how Jesus gives us whatever we want if we believe him by faith, like a great dispenser of goodies, and how we are able to lose their salvation.
  • We need to know that so many liberal scholars, skeptics, and critics see Jesus as fantasy, a myth developed by the disciples to advance an agenda or cause. Those of the Jesus Seminar, featured much on the History Channel, hold this view that the Jesus of the Bible never existed.
  • We need to know why actors in Hollywood are wearing “Jesus is my homeboy” T-shirts, yet spending their time making movies clearly contrary to Christ and His Word.
  • We need to know why some see Jesus as a great moral teacher, even though the Scriptures that reveal Him clearly show Him to be more than this: he’s holy God!
  • We need to know why presidents from both parties continually quote Jesus from his Sermon on the Mount to support their policies, yet take issues with other things he has said.

But Jesus goes further and says, “But who do you say that I am?” Here, Jesus gets very personal. We need to know who He is. He is the Christ the Son of God—something that God himself has to reveal to us. In Matthew 16, Jesus says, “Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Do you say, “Jesus is the Son of God—the Christ of God?” Do you say this? We must realize that if Peter could not come to this conclusion without God revealing it to us, then neither can we. Could this be why Jesus prayed—so God would move in their hearts to see him as he is?

2. Are we turned upside down by God’s plan for Christ (Luke 9:21-22)?

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

Jesus turns their expectations upside down. The Father revealed to them that He was the “Christ of God,” even as everyone else (wise and unwise) speculated otherwise. So since it was ‘out’ among the disciples that he was the Christ, they had certain expectations about his earthly rule—which they thought would commence immediately. They would hear of this Anointed One repeatedly in the Scripture readings in the synagogues. In Psalm 2:4-12, look at this.

4He who sits in the heavens laughs;
   the Lord holds them in derision.
5Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
   and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6"As for me, I have set my King
   on Zion, my holy hill."

7I will tell of the decree:The LORD said to me, "You are my Son;
   today I have begotten you.
8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
   and the ends of the earth your possession.
9You shall break them with a rod of iron
   and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel."

10Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
   be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
   and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
   lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
   for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

They were ready for his rule to begin, and judgment to take place immediately. Yet, clearly this would not be the case, for he told them to “tell this to no one.” With such a high alert and desire for a deliverer, a Messiah, an Anointed One to come along and boot out the Romans, if the disciples went about spreading this, Jesus’ ministry would have been all the more difficult.

What is not recorded in this account, but is in Matthew, is how Peter comes along, pulls Jesus aside and says, “Lord, this will never happen to you.” It is then that Jesus calls Simon Peter, “Satan” which means adversary, because he had mind the things of God rather than the things of men. The disciples had their plans as soon as Jesus’ true function was out—but those plans were the plans of men.

3. Are we turned upside down by the God’s expectations for us (Luke 9:23-27)?

23And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."

So many have an issue with authority. Many young college students leave the church because of their issue with authority. Yet, Jesus comes along and speaks with such authority that it’s almost startling even to those who are followers of Christ. Verse 23 says, “If anyone would come after me… .” In other gospels, Jesus puts it, “If anyone would be my disciple… .” Which is it? Is it one who comes after him, or is it one who is his disciple?

These two understandings are synonymous. And it’s conditional: if you would come after him, he turns our thinking upside down with these commands: deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow him. In a world where the average citizen hates being told what to do and having some authority command them to do anything, and in a country where liberty, freedom, and personal choice rule the day—Jesus comes along from the Word and turns everything on its ear.

Some of you are very skilled at what you do and are looking to try to advance to the highest level you can. Are you doing this at the expense of your soul?

Verse 25 informs us of this: what will it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? Consider: is there any possible way to have the whole world? No. But we want comfort and safety in this world, and if all the restraints were off to where we could have everything our heart desired? I’m reminded of that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where they opened up the door to the inner workings of the factory, which was filled with the most delicious chocolate, candies, even a chocolate river! The kids went crazy, even to the point of where one of the children, Augustus, endangered himself by falling in. All of them ate all they wanted with no restraint.

Another way to put this term is ‘denying yourself’ is by using the term ‘repentance.’

Can I just say this to you? This blows what is called “easy believism” out of the water. It blows what Bonhoeffer calls ‘cheap grace’ out of the water. It blows what John MacArthur calls having “casual beliefs about Jesus” out of the water. John MacArthur puts it well:

The Kingdom is not for people who want Jesus to fix their life a little.  The Kingdom is not for people who want Jesus to bump them up the social scale.  The Kingdom is not for people who want to escape hell.  The Kingdom is for people who want their life changed. . . but who have come to the point where they are willing to go through a violent time of conviction and self-hatred . . . and penitence and brokenness to the degree that they literally abandon everything for Christ.  That’s seeking with all your heart.[3]

How many times have we heard this expression, “To come to Christ, all you have to do is just accept him as your Lord and Savior.” All you have to do?! According to Jesus Himself, that is NOT all you have to do! If you wish to follow him, it’s not about accepting him (whatever that means), but denying yourself to the point of where you bear your cross daily (dying to self in a violent manner) in order to submit your very all. You may say, “Bro. Matt, that makes becoming a Christian sound hard!”

It is hard! At least the biblical way is! Denying yourself in a world that says, “Glorify yourself!” is hard. Submitting to someone else’s authority is hard! This is why so many take the edge off of Jesus’ commands—but Luke 9:23 is the essence of becoming a Christian.


[1]Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How The Son of God Became a National Icon (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003), 11.

[2]Prothero, 14-15.

[3]John MacArthur, http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/42-122.

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Driscoll: "Noah Wasn’t a Righteous Man"

In Gospel on April 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Beautiful picture of the gospel!

Paul Washer on Jesus’ Death

In Christ, Gospel, Salvation on April 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Be Wary of Contextualizing the Gospel

In Gospel, Missions on February 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Gripped By The Gospel Or By The Glands?

In Gospel on February 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Dr. York preaches a sermon with the same title as that disturbing Kati Perry song that was the summer’s big hit. He makes a point that we have certainly crossed a line when a song with blatant lesbian overtones not only makes Billboard’s #1 for weeks, but is now being sung on the lips of 12-year-olds all across our country. The sermon deals with the overt sexualization of our culture and the dire consequences it brings. How do Christians respond to these temptations? You will find this sermon food for your soul

On a similar vein, Albert Mohler writes an article on “The Pornification of a Culture — What’s Going on in the Office Next Door?” Here’s an excerpt:

The scourge of pornography is now so pervasive that it begins to define the culture at large. America is fast transforming itself from a society that allows and markets pornography into a culture that is pornographic. Boundary after boundary is being transgressed.

Adding insult to injury, courts have ruled that public libraries have no right to use filters that prevent viewing of pornography on public computers. Now, the marketers of pornography are looking to mobile devices and cell phones as the next frontier. There is no safe place in a society that embraces pornography as a major industry.

Just when you think you are past being shocked, The Washington Times now reports that pornography “is a major workplace problem in contemporary American society.” Just look at what the paper reports:

The porn-at-work phenomenon is pervasive enough, a 2007 survey by the American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute found, that 65 percent of American companies use porn-detecting software – a dramatic increase from 40 percent in 2001 (click here to read the rest of the article).

What I find most disturbing is that American churches who have been very influenced by the proper Victorian era of England that finds sexual discussions taboo, fail to equip our young teenagers and adults in this very tempting area. Everyone speaks about it, and so do the Scriptures–yet why does the church avoid it? I’m thankful for men like Hershael York and Albert Mohler who address this subject with a vital saturation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Outlines the Gospel

In Gospel, Salvation on February 3, 2009 at 11:18 am

“God accepts this righteousness of Christ, this perfect righteousness face to face with the Law which He honoured in every respect. He has kept it and given obedience to it, He has borne its penalty. The Law is fully satisfied. God’s way of salvation, says Paul, is that. He gives to us the righteousness of Christ. If we have seen our need and go to God and confess it, God will give us His own Son’s righteousness. He imputes Christ’s righteousness to us who believe in Him, and regards us as righteous, and declares and pronounces us to be righteous in Him. That is the way of salvation, the Christian way of salvation, the way of salvation through justification by faith. So it comes to this. That I see and I believe and I look to nothing and to no one exscept to the Lord Jesus Christ. … You must no rest upon the fact that you have this tradition and that you are children of your forefathers. There is no boasting, you have to rest exclusively upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect work. … We look to Christ and to Christ alone, and not to ourselves in any respect whatsoever.”

— D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1965), 33.

Is Denying a Six-Day Creation Equivalent to Compromising the Gospel?

In biblical creationism, Darwin, Darwinism, Evolution, Gospel on January 29, 2009 at 10:15 pm


I am currently preparing for a four-part sermon series on “Creationism v. Darwinism: Can The Bible Be Trusted?” in light of Charles Darwin’s (1809-1883) 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s magnum opus, On the Origin of Species.

What has amazed me most in the research on this is not the inconsistencies of Darwinism (nothing on a macro-evolution level has yet to be proven or substantiated), but on how many Christians want to wed Darwin’s theory with the biblical account and impose Darwinian science on the clear text of Scripture.

The most popular way to do this is to take the six days of creation and turn them into “millions of years.” What many want to say is that the word ‘day’ doesn’t mean ‘day’ in the 24-hour sense, but that ‘day’ really means an era or an extended amount of time. Ken Ham on his Answers in Genesis podcast has a whole list of ministers who fail to hold to a literal six days (James Dobson, James Montgomery Boice, to name some), and I would regretfully add Tim Keller to the list as you examine his otherwise fine work The Reason for God (pp. 89-92).

A.E. Wilder-Smith in his wonderful work Man’s Origin, Man’s Destiny says, “An effort has been made to overcome some of the difficulties of harmonization by reckoning the seven creative days of Genesis as seven geological ages. It is in our own view, however, that the attempt to overcome some difficulties by this method often introduces even greater problems” (43). Wilder-Smith notes the absurdity of having plant life (Day 3) exist for millions of years prior to the sunlight being created (Day Four)–especially with the necessity of coal mixtures needing a good dose of sunlight. Plus, did God really rest millions of years? It just doesn’t fit.

But the question is: does this really compromise the Gospel? I believe it can because we risk being inconsistent in taking the gospel found in the Scriptures literally, yet taking the Genesis 1 account which is laid out like history (not poetry) non-literally. It compromises our witness. Just look at the transcripts of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial where Clarence Darrow called prosecuter William Jennings Bryan to the stand. Bryan compromised on the literal nature of the Bible, and Darrow took advantage.

Scientists who embrace Darwinism out of hatred for the possibility of biblical creationism go for this aspect. If they can get us denying the literal nature of the very first chapter of the Bible, then they will not worry about going after other items such as the resurrection. We have already shown the inconsistency–and they have won the day.

What say you?

Why "Gripped By The Gospel"?

In Christ, Creator, Gospel on January 29, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Why another blog? I am more and more convinced that an understanding and embracing of the Gospel ministers to every area of body, mind, and soul–and ministers to every area of life: marriage, family, struggling with addiction, life in the workplace, politics, etc.

I have another blog which deals with wider areas that may be of interest to my church. GBTG is an off-shoot of my new web ministry “Him We Proclaim,” in which we preach Christ crucified, proclaiming Him to encourage and warn others about the issues which take us away from the intention of our Creator.

I look forward to posting and dialoguing with all of you.

Would Calvin Approve of Some “Calvinists”? I Think Not!

In Calvinism, Evangelism, Gospel, Sermons on September 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

As part of my DMin project, I am immersing myself in all things Spurgeon. I cannot tell you how much his sermons and writings have fed my soul and strengthened me toward holiness and my calling to preach.

The latest book I’m working through is Iain H. Murray’s Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism. Murray contends that this was Spurgeon’s first major controversy in his ministry at New Park Street Church (soon to be Metropolitan Tabernacle). Though he was only 20 years old at the time, his preaching began to truly gain momentum in London. Yet, some of the Strict and Particular Baptists who held a hard line concerning Calvinism began to exclude Spurgeon.  Spurgeon noted that they felt his “doctrine was too low for them.”

Spurgeon responded not in the newspaper but through his sermons which were published for a penny a copy, having a readership of approximately 20,000 people. 

A Calvinist Preaching Evangelistically?  Absolutely!

The reason they felt that his doctrine was “too low” was that he claimed to be a Calvinist but preached evangelistically.  In a sermon in 1859, during a service in which the foundation stone was laid for the new Metropolitan Tabernacle, he said: “The stone has to be rolled away from the sepulchre of Calvinism yet.  The Calvinism of some men is not the Calvinism of John Calvin, nor the Calvinism of the Puritans, much less the Christianity of God.”  You see, what some called “Calvinism” was a type of teaching which said that there should be no appeal to humanity in regards to responding to the Gospel.  These “hyper-Calvinists” believe that the Gospel call should only be given to the elect sinners, for this is who the preacher should have in view.  

Spurgeon rightly rejected this.  While the Scriptures do speak of God predestining and electing (see his sermon on “High and Broad Doctrine” among scores of others), he saw from the New Testament a mandate not just to talk about the facts of salvation, but to make an appeal toward all sinners to trust Christ.  It is not up to men to determine who they think are elect and not–let God sort that out.  Everyone understands that their salvation is a gift from God.  

But to rely on such a subject emotion as to be one who must wait on emotions and feelings before you believe those commands and invitations to repent and receive Christ is dangerous and ultimately self-centered.  

What Did Calvin Have to Say About Evangelism?

John Calvin and his theology have come under considerable fire.   Some reject Calvinism because they deem that he and his theology discourage evangelism and even prayer.  The objection is, “If God has already chosen who will be saved, then why bother sharing the Gospel?”  Calvin addresses this himself:

Since we do not know who belongs to the number of the predestined and who does not, it befits us so to feel as to wish that all be saved. So it will come about that, whoever we come across, we shall study to make him a sharer of peace . . . even severe rebuke will be administered like medicine, lest they should perish or cause others to perish. But it will be for God to make it effective in those whom He foreknew and predestined (John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, trans. J. K. S. Reid, London: James Clarke and Co., Limited, 1961, p. 138)

So those Calvinist who not only reject sharing the Gospel with all peoples or at least de-emphasize it.  This is not biblical and, ultimately, its cruel.  How could someone who calls themselves a Christian believe that Christ and his apostles taught that sharing the Gospel takes away from God’s sovereign grace.  Yes, Christ says that he has called out a people from this wicked world (John 6:37, 44; Matthew 11:25-27), as does Paul (Ephesians 1:3-4, Romans 8:29-30), as well as Peter (1 Peter 1:3-6).  It comes along the same theme of God calling the people of Israel out from the world (Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 7:7-8).  

But did not Jesus also say, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28).  Did not Paul say, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29, ESV)?

Ray Van Neste notes concerning Calvin and Calvinism, “Calvin’s doctrine of predestination did not make the preaching of the gospel unnecessary; instead, it made preaching necessary because it was by the preaching of the gospel that God had chosen to save the predestined.”  (I would highly recommend reading the entirety of Van Neste’s article.)  With this, Calvin even set up a school of missions where he would send out missionaries to teach the Gospel that was recovered during the Reformation.  

Conclusion

So if you hear a nasty rumor that Calvinists are not concerned with evangelism, those “Calvinists” are not from the ilk of John Calvin in the least.  We know that God is already at work in those whom He has called— we can evangelize with confidence.

Do You Have Kingdom Lenses?

In Church Life, Evangelism, Gospel, Missions, Preaching, Sermons on April 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm

(If you want to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here or here to read the Introduction. This sermon was preaching on Sunday, April 13, 2008, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. Click here for the archive.)

The first portion of this introduction is three simple words: “Seeing the crowds… .” There is a difference between seeing a crowd and seeing a crowd. When I first moved to Lexington, I was warned right away, “If you plan on driving on Nicholasville Road, do not drive when there’s a ball game letting out, or when it’s rush hour. Why? Because of a crowd of cars filled with a crowd of people. You can see that crowd and get annoyed.

Or you can go out to eat and find yourself avoiding certain places because of a line rolling out the door. Or you can be the head of a company or a department and see the crowd of people working under you, but you can use those people simply to advance your own agenda.

I’m glad Jesus doesn’t fit into this category. While this little portion seems to convey a simple looking at the crowds, we get a glimpse into the heart of Jesus as he looks at the crowd in Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The key word to all of that is “compassion.” Sympathy. Having pity. He put himself in their place and began taking time to see life through their eyes.

It reminds me of a story I read about a man who put up a sign in his yard that read: “Puppies for Sale.” Among those who came to inquire was a young boy. “Please, Mister,” he said, “I’d like to buy one of your puppies if they don’t cost too much.” “Well, son, they’re $25.” The boy looked crushed. “I’ve only got two dollars and five cents. Could I see them anyway?” “Of course. Maybe we can work something out,” said the man. The lad’s eyes danced at the sight of those five little balls of fur. “I heard that one has a bad leg,” he said. “Yes, I’m afraid she’ll be crippled for life.” “Well, that’s the puppy I want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?” The man responded, “But she’ll always have a limp.” Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg, revealing a brace. “I don’t walk good either.” Then, looking at the puppy sympathetically, he continued, “I guess she’ll need a lot of love and help. I sure did. It’s not so easy being crippled.” “Here, take her,” said the man. “I know you’ll give her a good home. And just forget the money.”

The situation for the people in Jesus’ time was one perpetual limp after another. John MacArthur noted that the religious factions of the day were leading the people astray. The Pharisees believed in keeping all the law and traditions in great detail. The Sadducees were religious liberals who rejected all things supernatural and changed the Scripture and tradition to fit their worldview. The Essenes separated themselves from everyone, like the monks. The zealots were activists who sought to overturn the political system. MacArthur wryly notes, “The Pharisees said, ‘Go back”; the Sadducees said, “Go ahead”; the Essenes said, “Go away”; and the Zealots said, “Go against.” They truly had no shepherd they could count on.

Let me ask you: when you see the people around you, what do you see? Do you see people as a way to be avoided, exploited, changed, or as many churches and cults do and aim to indoctrinate? It’s time to see people where they are. It’s time to take time to see the crowd around us. And many, whether they realize it or not have a longing for something more. No matter how hard they try, this world cannot meet their true longing for more, for better, for something to grant them purpose.