Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Taking Care of How You Hear, Part I

In Church Life on January 26, 2009 at 12:42 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.)

Would it not be wonderful if large crowds gathered at a  house of worship automatically meant that God’s work was being done? In Luke 8:4, the Word says, “And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him.” Yet, great crowds at Christian churches, even the crowds that followed Jesus, did not mean that they would become followers. John 2:23-25 says,

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many
believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. [24] But Jesus on his part did not entrust
himself to them, because he knew all people
[25] and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew
what was in man.

People saw what Jesus did, heard what Jesus said, and even followed Jesus’ lead. Did this show saving faith?

In Luke 8, Jesus demonstrates the Spirit power of the Word. From the calming of the storm to the healing of a demoniac, to even raising someone from the day, Jesus showed the authoritative power of the Word because it bears the seal of God. God sends His ambassadors from His heavenly country with His message of deliverance and mercy from his wrath against our sin and into His mercy through Jesus’ work on the cross.

As we look at this passage this morning, Jesus gives us a phrase that we must take to heart. “Take care then how you hear. . . .” Mark 4 in the parallel passage says, “Pay attention to what you hear.” Jesus seems to be making a distinction on how one hears. Apparently, one can hear without hearing. You can have the sound waves hit your eardrum, pass through the small bones in the ear which resonate, sending a signal to your brain so you can hear the words which are spoken. How you hear the word and what you do with the Word you have heard reveals much about the condition of your heart before God.

1.   Hear the Word as a light for your path.

In verses 16-17, Jesus says, ““No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. [17] For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

Understand where this passage falls. The Sunday before I went to Trinidad, we examined Luke 8:4-15 in looking at the Parable of the Soils. The sower went to plant seed, which Jesus tells us served as the Word of God. The parables served to proclaim the Word, but the message of that Word was hidden to those who not only refused to hear, but from those whose hearts did not have the proper soil for the Word to take hold.

Jesus though goes further. He says basically, “If you have good soil and have received the message, don’t cover the message up! You are
lamps because of the Word that is in you. Now shine!” You see, we as the people of God cannot be lights in the world unless the Word of Christ is dwelling in us richly (Colossians 3:15). In fact, do you recall that Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

What are lamps good for? Lamps light up rooms so people can see where they are and what is located in those rooms. Lamps also
light the way we are going. And His Word moving in us shows the way. While in Trinidad, they had this Christian radio station on the
majority of the time. During one of the breaks in music, the deejay came on and said, “Dear Christian, you just need to dream those big dreams that you have, and when you have faith to believe it will come to pass, God will give you what you want.” I had just read about where Joel Osteen said that you need a life of generosity, and because of your generosity, God will bless you abundantly.

In America and in Trinidad, so many preach the message, “Do this, dream this, smile more, pray more, read more, give more, and God will
bless.” Messages like this are not lamps, but are caution lights blinking for us to move away and detour to the actual gospel. The lamp of God’s Word always shines upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified, who says, “I am extending my grace and mercy to you based upon what I’ve done. You are like sheep who have gone astray, each turning to your own way. What you need is not to chase after dreams by drumming up more faith and doing more so my Father will bless. He has already blessed you with the cross and empty tomb. You can dream and do and act, but you do not have the spiritual furniture arranged in your mind to handle, because even our best dreams drift
away from God.”

James 1:16-18 says:,

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. [17] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. [18] Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.”

Notice: every blessing we have does not begin with a “dream within,” but from the Father above. Notice that our “dreams” may change with our inner emotions or our outward circumstances, but the Father has “no variation or shadow due to change.” He is steadfast, our rock and refuge. Notice that we become believers not by our own will and decision but “of his own will … by the word of truth.” Notice it is all of him. And once we get away from the Word of God, we stray from the path of God until the Spirit of God convicts us of the truth of God so we will repent and ask forgiveness of God so we will be restored by God.

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Creationists Expected To Put The Bible Down When Discussing Origins

In Creationism on December 6, 2008 at 12:16 am

Dr. Jason Lisle writes a very thought-provoking response to a critic of his website who disagrees with Lisle’s contention of the truth of the Bible when dealing with origins.

Atheists Tell Kentucky To Get God Out of Homeland Security

In Atheism, Religious Liberties on December 3, 2008 at 12:20 pm

CBSNews.com has a story on how an atheist group is suing the Commonwealth of Kentucky for acknowledging “God’s help” in homeland security. Edwin Kagin, national legal director of American Atheists, Inc., says, “It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen.”

A plaque posted at the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort includes the Bible verse from Psalm 127, “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain.”

I cannot say I’m surprised. But I also believe that this is consistent. Our nation has long left being a nation which holds to “In God We Trust.” The truth of God’s Word is clear, and history bears it out that once the leaders and influencers work to scrub God out of the conscience of its citizens, that nation becomes a greasy spot on the timeline of history.

May God shed His grace on us — but I fear His justice is at hand.

A Hunger for God: Wisdom from A.W. Tozer

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, Sermons on November 10, 2008 at 5:54 pm

In A.W. Tozer’s classic and life-changing work, The The Pursuit of God, he noted the role that religious leaders must place in recognizing the need for a hunger and thirst for God.

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy. …

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts (pp. 8-10).

What is interesting is that Tozer wrote this in 1948. What do you think? Is Tozer on to something here?

Online Version of the ESV Study Bible

In ESV on September 20, 2008 at 11:08 am

Countdown to the ESV Study Bible Release

In Church Life on September 12, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Evidently, numerous requests were made to the ESV publishers to put out a widget giving us a countdown. I’m thankful so many people are so excited about the Word of God.

Sermon Posted: The Square of Christianity — How the Church Can Engage the Culture

In Culture, Sermons on September 2, 2008 at 1:01 pm

My sermon on “The Square of Christianity” is now posted.  This sermon, preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church on Sunday, August 31, 2008, received such a good response that we are hoping to include a CD into our archives.  This serves as Part 3 of our four-part series on “Getting Our Church in Shape.”

Can We Trust Our Eyes — Even in Watching the Olympics?

In 2008 Olympics, China on August 22, 2008 at 2:42 pm
2008 Olympics Logo

2008 Olympics Logo

Mark Alexander of the Patriot Post and fresh off his return from the Olympics in Beijing gives some firsthand perspective on what is and what is not being reported from China. Here’s an excerpt:

Having just returned from Beijing, where I was the guest with a corporate association, it is a bit disconcerting to watch NBC’s glossy coverage of the Olympic games, and China in general, and to endure the echo NBC’s coverage is receiving through other media outlets. The network dared not venture off the reservation, and its coverage offered no observation on the obfuscation outside the Olympic village.

Of course, it’s the Year of the Rat.

While in China, I enjoyed major Olympic venues, but I was far more impressed by meetings with several Chinese leaders of underground Christian movements, Chinese entrepreneurs, and other Chinese reformers.

Suffice it to say, I found China to mirror what I anticipated: A great people enslaved under the rule of the tyrannical Red Chinese government—1.329 billion people, in fact, who share none of the rights outlined in our Constitution, which most Americans take for granted.

(Click here to read the rest of this compelling article.)

Personally, I have enjoyed the Olympics, but have noticed that if I went solely by the coverage NBC and other media outlets give, I would never know of the oppression, Christian persecution, and other human rights’ atrocities that plague the Communist China’s government. The scandal surrounding the age of the Chinese gymnasts and their age (or lack thereof) should result in the removal of their considerable number of gold medals (but time will tell if this will prove to be an actuality).

Do We Believe What Is, Or Only What We Wish To Be So?

The lesson here is somewhat clear: we are not strong nor able enough to believe everything that meets the eye. We may approach our TVs and news outlets and believe everything they feed us, although our culture which is growing more skeptical of all things by the seconds seldom does not struggle with this nearly as much. Yet, even the most observant of us can fall under the illusion of something being true because we want it to be so.

Consider the following: I have difficulty with the notion that there are any people on earth who truly commit such crimes and atrocities against humanity as we have heard of the Chinese government. As a result, I don’t want to believe it and find myself looking for any and every newsbit to prove those other reports wrong. We often only process what we want to believe rather than what reality presents.

As a pastor, I see this happen frequently. Some clear teaching from God’s Word is brought out and it is the truth that bears His authority. Yet, too many do not wish it to be so, and thus say that it cannot be so based on a variety of desires, feelings, or notions that have anchored themselves in their psyche. Therefore, many who claim faith say they are “rational” or “balanced” or something similar. They long to be “balanced” because they find some things that make sense while they disregard other things based on their own notions of what is truth. That’s their balance.

Some do not want to present reality because they will be seen for what they are. As for China, they sweat at what Alexander calls the “porcelain facade” being broken or even cracked. Truth cuts through like a hot knife.

What about us? Do we put forth facades to deceive others of even God of where we stand and of who we are at our core? Christ came to give us His Word which serves as follows. Hebrews 4:12-16 says:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [13] And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
[14] Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Christ calls through all pretense. We will either see this now or see it later at the Judgment Seat. So let’s come to Him now with our masks and facades and learn a lesson from China. Perception is not reality. Truth is reality.

Galatians 6:7-8 says:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. [8] For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (ESV)

(c) 2008, Matthew Perry.

Introducing the new ESV Study Bible

In ESV on August 12, 2008 at 12:25 pm

You Can’t Love Jesus and Reject the Bible

In Sermons on May 25, 2008 at 3:02 pm

(This is Part I of a sermon preached at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, on Sunday, May 25, 2008.)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20, ESV).

When we come together, our goal is for you to love Jesus more when you leave than when you walked in. For those of you who may have never submitted to Christ, our prayer is that you would see all that he accomplished for you on your behalf by taking our sin and its penalty and removing us from this world’s curse and emptiness. For those of you who may be followers of Christ, but the flame of fire and dimmed to a small ember, our desire is that you would not be like the Ephesian church in Revelation where you have “abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).

So, is loving Jesus enough? I just want to answer with an undeniable, “Yes!” I suppose the next question you all may ask me is, “Why would this question even come up?” Sadly, because we have a number of folks who really question the very nature of the Scriptures. But it’s the same principle with our marriages and our children. You can say, “I love my wife and kids.” But if you neglect them, ignore your vows to them, and exclude them from the day-to-day aspect of your life, you do not truly love them. You may get a warm feeling, but you are failing to see the nature of marriage and parenthood.

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus teaches us about what it means to love and be devoted to him. Some were intrigued by him and curious at his teaching and demeanor, and thought that was enough. Others were comparing him to the Pharisees, of whom many considered as the spiritual leaders and examples. Jesus in these four verses takes time to tell us what it really means to love him.

1. You cannot say you love Jesus, but reject the Bible.

In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Do you find yourself separating Jesus from the Bible? When I was in college and seminary in the early 1990s, I would find myself sitting under a professor who, in an effort to be more spiritual and less dry and academic, would warn us not to commit what was called “bible-olatry,” or a worship of the Bible. They would give us a warning not to put our heads so deep in the Bible. Just love Jesus. After all, they would say, there are so many interpretations that it’s hard to know what the Bible is saying (especially the Old Testament). I was taught by these professors that for the majority of the Old Testament, the stories were transmitted orally for many years before they were written down, so we really cannot know for sure how many adaptations and changes took place — so just cling to Jesus.

The result was many of my fellow student brothers in the ministry (and for a time, myself included) would walk out of those classrooms thinking that you could actually take one without the other. As a result, those students would often go into the pulpits of our local churches teaching that very thing. They would seem to show that you that you could make a distinction. With all due respect to these professors and many others dotting our landscape, we must realize that Jesus never, ever makes this distinction. To try and separate Jesus from the Scriptures may sound noble and pious but it is confusing and dangerous.

All through his ministry, he notes how he does what he does “so the Scriptures may be fulfilled.” Why did he go here? The people and even the Pharisees could tell that he was a rabbi because (1) he taught about the Law, and (2) he had disciples. But he was different in that he went against their traditions. Jesus was accused of “eating with tax collectors and sinners,” plus he would on occasion converse with women. According to Jewish tradition, holy men did not do either one of these things. Because of this, the Pharisees and the people were confused and would even say that he was not from God and was wanting to do away with all of the Old Testament.

Is this what Jesus is saying? No, he came to finish and fulfill the Old Testament. But how did he do that? Some say he simply came to accomplished all of the law and to live a perfect life. Did he do this? Yes. Romans 8 tells us that “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3b-4). But let’s not miss the full reason.

D.A. Carson noted that “Jesus does not conceive of his life and ministry in terms of opposition to the Old Testament, but in terms of bringing to fruition that toward which it points. Jesus continued and completed the work the law and the prophets began. Every moral, civil, and ceremonial law points in some way to Christ.” Romans 3:21 even says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.”

So why did he come? What is the “fulfillment” part? Let’s put it this way: have you ever had someone come up to you pointing out a problem they see? Let’s just say that on occasion (sarcasm intended) that happens to me. They come up to me and issue a problem. Some even come up and offer a solution: “Bro. Matt, what you should do is … ?” Yet there are some that go even further and say, “And Bro. Matt, I’ll take care of it.”

Romans 3:20 says, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” In other words, the Old Testament tells us that God made everything and made everything for a purpose. But the Old Testament also reveals God’s will and way — and how we have rebelled and fallen short. God in his goodness lets us know that we are under judgment. That’s our problem. But the Old Testament also prophecies that a solution will take place: not by works but by One who comes. But then he goes a step further by saying, “I’ll even take care of the problem and be the solution.”

Jesus came fulfill the demands of the law which we have violated and have separated us from him, but also to fulfill all that the prophets said about him. Let me ask you: are you rejecting the Bible, all the while saying you love Jesus? See, in theory we hold to a high view of Scriptures, but yet we reject reading the Scriptures as part of our daily walk with Christ. We may say that the Bible is hard to understand, or we may say that since we are already in the Kingdom then there’s no sense in continuing on. So there are many ways to reject the Scriptures. May this not be the case with us!