Dr. S. Lewis Johnson continues to explain the compelling reasons for Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Dr. Johnson expounds the gospel references to the Messiah's need to make the sacrifice for sin.
[Message] The Scripture reading is Matthew chapter 16, verse 21 through verse 23. I’ve been, over the last two or three messages, attempting to center attention around the death of Christ and the satisfaction that he rendered there by virtue of his sacrifice, and this is one of the great passages that suggests the necessity of our Lord’s death. Chapter 16 of Matthew verse 21 through verse 23, you remember the context, Peter has just made his great confession near Caesarea Philippi, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And that has provoked some interesting words from our Lord, and now in verse 21 we read,
“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.'”
May the Lord bless this reading of his word. Let’s bow together in a moment of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we come to Thee through the Lord Jesus Christ who has accomplished the death that he came to die and has made available the redemption that was purchased by the blood that was shed at this cross on Calvary on which he was speaking to his disciples.
We thank Thee that we live in the light of, and understanding given to us by, the Holy Spirit, of the effectiveness of his work, of the fact that down through the centuries the Holy Spirit has been active in bringing to the knowledge of the saints of God the savings significance of the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. And we thank Thee today that, by Thy grace, we have come to know him, whom to know is life eternal.
We ask Thy blessing upon the whole church of Christ today as in many places local bodies meet and seek to proclaim the word, to worship, to minister, and also to have Christian fellowship, one with another. Lord, may the whole church experience growth toward that perfection that Thou art, ultimately, to bring us by virtue of the Lord’s work and his coming again.
We pray for local bodies such as Believers Chapel. We ask Thy blessing upon this assembly of believers, upon its elders and deacons, upon the members and friends and the visitors who are with us today. Lord, undertake for each one of these and minister to them in a way that will build them up in the faith. Give wisdom to our elders as they seek to have the oversight over us here in the work that Thou hast given us to do.
We pray Thy blessing upon the outreach of the chapel. We thank Thee for the staff who have made possible the proclamation of the word of God through the radio and through the tapes and through the written ministry, we pray Thy blessing upon them and upon that ministry. May it be fruitful in our day.
And Father, as Dr. Howard has exhorted us, we pray that Thy blessing may be upon those, particularly, who have requested our prayers, whose names are in our calendar of concern, and others as well, who need the ministry that comes from our great triune God in heaven. We are grateful, Lord, for the promises of the word of God, and we pray that Thou will give healing and Thou will meet the needs as they exist in the lives of these individuals. We thank Thee for the concern that they have shown and for the faith that they have shown in requesting prayers of the saints.
Father, we pray Thy blessing upon all of the activities of the chapel this day. May this be a day in which each one of us experience spiritual growth and development. Bless us as we sing, as we hear the ministry of the word of God. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] This is the second of a brief series of messages on the necessity of our Lord’s death. Some of you may even remember as far back as Christmas, and recognize that the Christmas message actually was one of this series as well. Returning to Matthew chapter 16, verse 21 through verse 23; reading the context of Matthew chapter 16, I’m sure you recognize, quite simply, that a new milestone in the earthly career of the Messiah begins after Peter’s great confession that he makes in verse 18 and 17, 16. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Amid developing opposition, now comes developing instruction about the cross and the reason for this is very simple. The apostles to this point have not really understood what has been transpiring in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have read and studied the Gospel of Matthew at all, you’ll recognize that there are two epochs in the story and each of them begins with the use of this expression from that time. Back in chapter 4 in verse 17 as the Lord Jesus began his ministry after the temptation, Matthew writes, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And of course, you’ll recognize verse 21 of chapter 16 begins similarly, and the apostle writes, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem.” And so these two epochs are easily discerned in the reading of the gospel.
The early ministry in which the Lord Jesus presents himself as the Messianic King to the nation Israel, and now it has become quite evident that there will be no reception of his ministry, he begins to instruct the apostles concerning his death and the things that will transpire thereafter. If you read through the gospels, not only the Gospel of Matthew but the other gospels as well, you’ll know that there have been veiled hints of our Lord’s death. Plain speech becomes the rule now. In John chapter 2 in verse 19, for example, the apostle writes there in that verse, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” That was just a hint of the fact that the Lord would die. In chapter 3 in verse 16, John says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And the sense of that “gave” is surely gave to death.
In chapter 9 in verse 15 of the Gospel of Matthew we read these words which also are an inkling of what is to come, “Jesus said to them, ‘The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.'” So again, just a hint of the fact that there would come a time when the Lord Jesus would be taken away from them, a word that suggests some force. And in chapter 12 of the Gospel of Matthew, you’ll remember this that Matthew writes,
“But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.'”
And so veiled hints have been the expressions of our Lord up to this point, but from now on he’s going to talk very directly about what is going to happen when he comes to the city of Jerusalem because it’s necessary for him to prepare the apostles for the sewing of the word of the kingdom in the times that lie beyond the experience of the cross and resurrection. So at the inception of the announcement of the kingdom, our Lord gives us this ministry. And one of the striking things about it, just as at the beginning of the first period of his ministry, in which he preached repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, so here at the beginning of the second stage of his ministry, Satan is present. He was present then and tempted our Lord, and here through Peter, an apostle of the Lord, Satan again is present and again tempts him. In fact, Klaas Schilder, one of the finest of the Dutch theologians, in one of his really magnificent books on the Passion of Our Lord, entitled his study of this particular section, Satan at the Pulpit of the Passion, a very fitting title, I think.
Now, let’s take a look at it. It’s verse 21 first, and our Lord here gives his revelation of the passion that is to come, full and open expression, and with an exposition of what Peter’s confession really meant, is now given. “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” Now what he is talking about, essentially, is what we talk about when we say that the Lord Jesus Christ is a suffering Messiah. And it’s from this time the partial replaced by the full unfolding of the events of the future. The hints that have been given previously, about which we have just read, now are demonstrated, no doubt, bit by bit, our Lord instructed them. We read, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem.” So the beginning suggests that it was, bit by bit, here and there along the way, that the Lord Jesus instructed them in what was to lie before him.
You know when people study the death of the Lord Jesus Christ occasionally in their comments references are made to the Stations of the Cross. I’m sure that in your life as you have read various things concerning the suffering of our Lord in particularly around Christmas time when people lay stress upon things like this, you remember that the Stations of the cross are supposedly fourteen significant places in our Lord’s movement from the judgment hall to Calvary. And those who’ve studied the gospels with that in view believe that they can find fourteen different events from the time our Lord left the judgment hall to the time of his crucifixion. They see him, for example, when he comes forth wearing the crown of the thorns at the beginning of the Stations of the Cross. They see him when the cross is laid upon his shoulders when he begins to walk up the hard and stony street, when he stands to speak to the weeping women of the city. They mark the spot, for example, where Veronica, in a very lovely legend, came out of her doorway to lend to the Lord Jesus her handkerchief, and so on. The significant thing about this, to me, is that great stress is laid upon these significant steps in our Lord’s ministry as he moved from the judgment hall to the cross at Calvary. But if you will study through the gospels, you’ll find that from the beginning of the ministry of our Lord there were Stations of the Cross. They were just hints in the beginning and they come, ultimately, to full demonstration.
One might ask the question, “How did our Lord himself know that he was going to the cross in Jerusalem? How did he know that he was going to be there and that there in Jerusalem he would die at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and scribes, and that he would be killed, and that he would be raised up the third day?” Because remember the apostles did not understand these things, in Luke chapter 18 and verse 31 through verse 34, we read these words,
“And He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered up to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.’ (Now notice these words.) And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that he said.”
So how did the Lord Jesus Christ know? How was it possible for him to know, because he was simply the Son of God and a divine person, which, of course, he was and is? Well the Scriptures let us know that the Suffering Servant of Jehovah gave himself whole heartedly and completely to the study of the word of God. There is a marvelous hint in the Old Testament in Isaiah chapter 50, where speaking of the Suffering Servant the prophet says,
“The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of disciples,” (or the tongue of the learned, this is the Suffering Servant ultimately, the Lord Jesus speaking,) “That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened my ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back. I gave my back to those who strike me, and my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting.” (Passages, incidentally, words that the apostles applied to our Lord in his passion) “For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set my face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. He who vindicates me is near; who will contend with me? Let us stand up to each other; who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who is he who condemns me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them.”
It’s evident the Lord Jesus knew, in his human nature, what was going to happen as a result of the study of the holy Scriptures. The word of God was his staff and stay, and he bowed to it completely to the iotas of it. And that is the reason why on the human level, the Lord Jesus, is able to say to them in verse 21, “I must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”
Now I want you to take a look at that little word must. “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem,” and die. All theories of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ are attempts to explain this little word, must. He “must” go to Jerusalem and suffer. Redemption requires more than a gentle beautiful life. If our Lord Jesus had came and lived the gentle beautiful life that he did live and if that were all that he had done, then we would have a half Christ, a half Christ is no Christ at all. A Christ who does not suffer, a Messiah who does not suffer and bleed and die is not a Messiah. He may give us indications of the ways of God by virtue of his life, but he cannot save us if he does not die. So when we think of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ how important it is for us to underline that word must. He must suffer.
Now he goes on to say, “To be raised up,” this is not the voice, incidentally, of a martyr, but this is the voice of one who has the mastery of endless life. One, of the things that, is characteristic of the church of Jesus Christ today is great stress upon the Lord Jesus as a moral and social reformer. R. J. Campbell, who was a famous London preacher, preached at the city temple there, wrote a book, and in this book, one of the great preachers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s, made these comments about him. “At first reading, it seemed to be incredible that a man of Mr. Campbell’s fine mind and sympathetic spirit should so misconstrue the message of Jesus. It was amazing to find that he ignores the larger events of the history and the master sentences of the record and dwells so persistently on the fringes of Christ’s teaching. But as I read on, it was plain that Mr. Campbell conceived Jesus to be chiefly and absorbingly a social reformer.”
That, I submit to you, is the way the liberal Christian church today conceives of the Lord Jesus Christ. They conceive of him as a social reformer. And in fact, those are the things that they stress in the references to the gospel records that they give. And the words that they stress are always words that represent the fringes — that’s a beautiful expression because that’s so true — they are the fringes of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ll listen to individuals today who refer to the ministry of the Lord Jesus they refer to his ministry to the poor, his ministry to the down trodden, his ministry to the miserable.
Now those are the fringes of the Lord’s teaching. We don’t deny that that is a part of his teaching, but it is evident if you read the gospels and pay attention to them without some preconceived motives, such as moral and social reformers often have, those are the fringes of his teaching. The fundamental center of his teaching is the redemption that he must accomplish by the bloodshed upon Calvary’s cross. That’s the whole center of the teaching of the word of God from its beginning on through the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t deny that the Lord admired art. We don’t deny that he would have appreciated the literature of his day. We don’t deny that he had the most perceptive understanding of nature about us. But in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ the clearly conscious purpose of his life was his death on the cross. That’s the thing that motivated him from the beginning when he said, even as a child, “I must be about my Father’s business.” And if we don’t understand this, we don’t understand Jesus Christ at all.
I have here with me some statements made by some of the individuals who have been prominent in what we would call the main line Protestant churches. Their declarations are almost always gathered around the fringes of our Lord’s teaching. They are gathered around the fringes so that one cannot say that’s not in the Bible at all, but they are so taken out of the context of his fundamental message that what is given is a slanted and incorrect picture of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we’ve been talking in our last couple of messages together about the significance of that “must,” the fact that he “must” suffer, and the necessity of his death. And we said that there has been among the denials of our Lord’s satisfaction, that is that he rendered in his blood shed on Calvary’s cross, a satisfaction to the justice of God. There have been objections such as, and we discussed in our last message the Denial of God’s Distributive Justice, many have asserted a remission of guilt without satisfaction after all isn’t it God’s work to forgive? Why is it necessary for Christ to die? And we, I think, gave an answer that comes from the word of God to that. And then in our modern theology today there are men who say that if we say Christ offered a satisfaction to the righteousness and holiness of God in his atoning work on Calvary’s cross then that makes God inferior to man. Man freely forgives. God cannot freely forgive. Hence God is less charitable, less merciful, and less good than man. And we sought to answer that foolish statement, if we are talking about scriptural things.
Now I’d like to say just a word about two further errors that are very common in statements made by contemporary theologians. Some of them make the statement that God may forgive by a voluntary word from heaven, and others claim that God may forgive on the basis of repentance apart from any bloodshed on Calvary’s cross. But when an individual says that Christ must die, one of the frequent criticisms that is made is that this assumes a seism, yes that’s the way you pronounce it, a seism in the Trinity. Well now that would be a monstrous idea, that is that the Divine Trinity, one God who subsists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that the Father works contrary to the Son and to the Spirit, or that the Son works contrary to the Father. And so if we affirm that the Lord Jesus came in order to offer a satisfaction to make propitiation to render satisfaction to the justice and holiness of God, do we not have God the Father as a stern judge, insisting on the execution of justice, and Christ as a merciful Savior, who interposes and satisfies the legal demand of the Father, and appeases his wrath against sinners? In other words, God must be propitiated, Christ is the one who propitiates him, and so they are operating in a different way. How can there be one impulse in God to punish and another impulse in the second person of the trinity not to punish? That’s a seism, yes that’s the way you pronounce it, that’s a seism in the Trinity.
Now let’s ask ourselves a question. That’s very commonly said in contemporary theologians today. You read their theologies when they do write theologies, they don’t write many of them, unfortunately, because then they would declare themselves. But in the few that they do attempt to write that frequently is the criticism of what the Christian church has believed since the beginning, through the days of the reformers that Christ offered a satisfaction. That is he made propitiation toward the righteousness and holiness of God that God may be free to forgive on the basis of the blood that was shed on Calvary’s cross. Think about it for a moment. Is there a seism in the Trinity when the Father must be propitiated and the Son propitiates? Think about it for a moment. Who sent the Son to make the propitiation? The thing that the Scriptures so plainly say is the Father sent the Son to make the propitiation. What we have is not the Father working contrary to the Son, but we have the Father and the Son working in concert to satisfy that which is in, and of, the essential nature of God himself. His holiness and justice which punishes evil must be satisfied, for he will punish. And so, in concert, the second person of the Trinity comes in the power of the Holy Spirit and bares the punishment, the penalty and satisfies the demands of a holy God for those for whom Christ died. The Trinity works in marvelous fellowship and agreement in the giving of the Son. One can only make an objection like that out of a failure to understand some of the fundamentals of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now then, let’s take one more objection for today. We’ll deal with a couple more next week, the Lord willing. It’s recently been claimed that the Bible doesn’t make use of the concept of punishment. Isn’t that strange? Hendrikus Berkhof, who has written a very significant theological work, the Dutch theologian, he claims the idea of punishment in such a context founded in western orthodoxy since the days of Anselm in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, is, “foreign to the New Testament.” Now I ask you, can anyone maintain that punishment is, “foreign to the New Testament,” if he reads carefully the New Testament? Listen to some words from the word of God. Isaiah chapter 53 verses 5 and 6,
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
If there is a plain statement of the Suffering Servant of Jehovah bearing the inequity of others and bearing their punishment, you couldn’t make a plainer statement than that. Now when we turn to the New Testament we have the same thing. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” Romans chapter 8 and verse 3, 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in him,” Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse, being made a curse for us: just as it is written in Scripture, Cursed is every one that hangs upon a tree.” So how is it possible for anyone to say, in the light of holy Scripture, that the concept of punishment is not found in the New Testament in connection with the saving ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ? That’s impossible.
Now we read in this verse, “And be killed and be raised up on the third day.” How marvelous it is to read those last words because in this way the Lord Jesus mingles the delightful with the doleful. He talks about his death, but he talks about his resurrection as well. Well you know it’s possible to be a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ and be in grievous theological error. Did you know that? There are lots of Christians who don’t even understand that fundamental point, if a person loves the Lord that covers everything. That’s foolish. That’s foolish. So we read in verse 22 of the rebuke that comes from Peter. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” We’ve just seen Peter at his best, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven,” from the words and the lips of our Lord himself, “Simon, blessed are you.” And now, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Him, God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” This is Peter at his worst, except perhaps when he denies the Lord a few days later. Peter the apostle, the one that a large religious organization likes to think is the first Pope. This is the first Pope speaking. And what does he say? He says Lord what you’re doing, your fundamental mission is all wrong and should not be done at all. This expression, “Peter took him aside,” is a gesture that implies protection if not superiority some think. It’s the same word that was used when Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside to instruct him more accurately in the word of God. Calvin calls it immoderate warmth. You know when you have someone you want to tell them something so you bring them aside, put your arm around them and say, “Now look you shouldn’t have said that or you shouldn’t have done that.” That’s what Peter is doing here. So, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Him, God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
Now remember he understood none of these things that our Lord was talking about. The words are plain on the words of Scripture, but the first Pope doesn’t understand them at all. He has primacy all right, but a primacy in ignorance in this case. Evidently he saw our Lord as a political Messiah, but not a pardoning one. That is one who must suffer. A few days after, when the cross and resurrection have taken place and Peter has been instructed for fifty days, or forty days between the time of the resurrection and the time of the ascension, fifty days later, on the day of Pentecost, Peter stands and gives one of the great sermons and at the heart of it is the reference to our Lord’s crucifixion and the necessity of it, and the Scriptures that pointed to it, but at this point that’s far beyond him.
He comes, he ascends the frustum of the pulpit where the Lord Jesus is going to proclaim his passion and there, in a diabolical statement, “God forbid it Lord, this shall never happen to you,” it is a diabolical statement because Jesus says it comes from Satan, “God forbid it Lord, this shall never happen to you,” he seeks to thwart the spirit of God as he leads our Lord to the cross at Calvary. He’s the first to come to the direct clear understanding of the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, but he’s the first to stumble over the rock the Lord Jesus afterwards. Look Peter if the Son doesn’t die, there’s no hope for anyone. If the Son doesn’t die Peter, there’s no hope for you. The words you are saying Peter are words that condemn you to a salvationless existence. And here is a man who has eager love for the Lord. He’s an individual whose heart is warm. Here’s an individual who can pull out a sword and cut off a servant’s ear in defense of the Lord. He’s the one who would be your most aggressive football player in the game of life and at the same time the mouth of Satan. As William Gurnall one of the great old Puritans said, “The devil is a great student in Divinity,” and this is an evidence of it. If he can in some way or other prevent the Suffering Servant of Jehovah from his suffering, then he will win the victory and not our Lord.
Well, now we have a word for Peter. In verse 23 we read, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” Now I think it’s rather interesting that we read in verse 22, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke,” I gather Peter had a number of things that he would like to have said. He just started out, that was his first statement. He was going to tell us a lot of other reasons why Jesus should not go to the cross. I think in my curiosity I would like to have known what those reasons were, but our Lord mercifully interrupts him and says, “Get the behind me Satan.” He doesn’t dally with temptation. The panorama of the desert and the temptation of Satan, himself arises before him. There’s a greater test for our Lord here, in one sense, because the testing comes not simply from Satan, but from Peter who is part of the bride, the church, for whom Christ is engaged in the ministry ultimately of dying.
Now he goes on to say some other things about Peter, not simply, “Get the behind me Satan.” He says, “You are a stumbling block to me.” In other words, he’s an adversary. That term is a term that was used of the death stick of a trap. You are an adversary. You are an offense. You are a stumbling block, or a rock over which one stumbles. Peter had been called, remember Petros, a rock. You shall be called Cephas, a rock, Jesus had said in the beginning, but he’s a rock of stumbling.
Now, I want to get back to a point I mentioned a minute ago. An individual who loves the Lord, who is vital and fresh in his personal affection for the Lord Jesus, may, nevertheless, set himself against the foreordained vocation of the Messiah. That’s what Peter does. There’s no question that Peter had great affection for the Lord, but here is a man of great affection for the Lord at the same time setting himself against the foreordained purpose and vocation of the Lord Jesus Christ and coming. A path that eventually would have led to man kind’s loss of salvation. That’s why I say that Peter has primacy, but primacy in evil, primacy in ignorance. And one certainly finds it here.
Jesus goes on to say, “Peter, you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Well, now we know he didn’t understand. What are the things of God? Well the things of God, it is evident, are the self expendability of the Son of God to the cross of Calvary. That’s the thing that is the center of attention in heaven. If there is anything of less significance to heaven, though a right thing at this point, it is moral and social reform on the earth. The thing that heaven is concerned about is the saving work of Calvary’s cross. That’s why we preach these things. When people come to me and say, “Dr. Johnson, you stress this so much, maybe you should talk about all of these other peripheral things.”
Now they don’t say peripheral. I put that in, “All these other things.” The reason I don’t, the reason I think that a preacher’s fundamental thrust should be this, is because that’s the thrust of the word of God. What are they thinking about in heaven? Read Revelation chapter 5, what are they thinking about in heaven? They are, the elders, the living creatures, and the saints of God are praising him who is in the midst of the throne, who has purchased us by his blood and made it possible for us to, ultimately to, rule and reign on the earth as the redeemed of the Lord God. The things of God are the things that have to do with the self expendability of the Son of God to the cross at Calvary. That’s the thing of God.
There’s a marvelous statement that F. W. Krummacher has made and I couldn’t possibly put it, but I can paraphrase his words, but even if I were to paraphrase his words, they wouldn’t be as good as Mr. Krummacher wrote. Krummacher was a nineteenth century German believing man, theologian, and thoughtful man, and this is what he has to say at this point, the things of God, “We sinned, and were exposed to the curse. The word that was with God, and was God, then was made flesh. The eternal son became our brother; took upon himself our sin, in the way of a mysterious imputation; paid our debt to the majesty of the inviolable law; covered our nakedness with his righteousness; presented us, as those in whose stead he appeared, unblamable and acceptable to the Father; excited the hallelujahs of angels at our exaltation; elevated us to a participation of his own riches, blessedness, and privileges; pitched tents of peace for us around the throne of God ; and connected us with himself by the bonds of eternal gratitude and affection. Such is the edifice which the Almighty reared upon the ruins of sin; and of which the disciples, at that tune, had not the remotest idea. In the sequel, they recognized the divine method of salvation and of peace; and how happy were they, subsequently, in the knowledge of this “great mystery of godliness!” Those are the things, which Peter didn’t have upon his mind. “Peter, you are not setting your mind on God’s interests,” you’re setting your mind on man’s interests. What are man’s interests? Expediency, self seeking, avoidance of God’s will, avoidance and neglect of his word, his word that was the canon law of the Lord Jesus Christ, the guiding star of all of the ministry of our Lord, that word of God. Peter was asking for his own damnation, a man who loved the Lord. How ignorant can we be of truth if we don’t pay attention to the word of God? But the violent gust of hell that comes from Satan through Peter, and his misdirected enthusiasm, misdirected affection of Peter, cannot seduce the Lord Jesus for the purpose for which he came. He will be the prophet of God. He will be the priest who offers the atoning sacrifice. He will be the king who will come. He cannot help. It must burst forth, hallelujah, hallelujah.
Well our time is up. Let me just say this in conclusion. The heights of heaven and the gates of hell lie close together. Bunyan was right. He said, “There is a way to hell from the gates of heaven.” He was right. You can see it in the lives of a Jacob, blessed of God, man of faith, who can cheat and lie in the next breath. Hazael, I would never do the things, Mr. Prophet that you are saying that I do. A few days later he’s burning villages and murdering people. Moses, great man of faith, given the Ten Commandments, comes down, let’s the fury of his anger grip him, and breaks the gift of the commandments of God. We’re taught much here about what are thought to be good intentions and how good intentions avail before God.
Listen my Christian friend, the wisdom of men, Calvin was right the wisdom of men, is a ravening beast before God, for we are sinners. One of the nice comforting things about this is the fact that a single act, the knowledge that a single act, does not determine our eternal destiny. A single act, except perhaps the single act of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but a single act, heroism, does not save, and a single act of unfaithfulness does not cause us to lose our salvation. Peter is on the way to the ultimate sanctification which God would bring to him, and a magnificent sanctification it was because this man who has our Lord say to him, you’re and offense to me, you’re a stumbling block. You’re thoughts are in the thoughts of men not in the things of God as the one who, by the grace of God, eventually makes his great statement on the day of Pentecost in the temple area before the whole of Israel and then goes on to minister to the church of God, and finally is the instrumentality by which the word of God, in his epistles, has come to us. That’s an encouragement.
If you’re here today and you’ve never believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, and you don’t know him as the individual who has rendered a satisfaction, as the reformers on both sides of the affirmation, the Lutheran and the Calvinistic affirmed was absolutely essential and as the Scriptures affirm is essential, if you don’t know him as the one who offered that satisfaction, you’re lost, without God without hope in the world. But if you recognize the Lord Jesus came with that single purpose of mind to suffer, to die, and to be raised that we might have life, and if by God’s grace you recognize your need of him and you come to him, and thank him for what he’s done, for that’s faith, thank him for what he’s done, the Scriptures, the guiding star of the life of our Lord, the canon law of our Lord, and the ideal canon law for all of us individuals, affirm you have eternal life. May God help you in his grace to come to him. Let’s stand for the benediction.
[Prayer] We give Thee thanks, Lord, for the goodness that Thou hast shown to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. We marvel at the single mindedness of …
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]