Dr. S. Lewis Johnson continues his series on the necessity of Christ's sacrifice by seeking to substantiate it through the exposition of various references to the Messiah's act in the New Testament.
[Message] Now Meryll wished me good health, and I appreciate that very much, but remember the three ages of man: youth, middle age, and my, you’re sure looking well. [Laughter] That was the undertone of that. [Laughter] He was hoping that God would keep me well for a while longer. [Laughter] That’s what you get for those smart comments. [Laughter] Scripture reading today is Luke chapter 24, verse 13 through verse 35, but we’re going to spend our time primarily on verse 25 through verse 27. So turn in the New Testament to Luke chapter 24, and we’ll begin reading at verse 13. This, as you can tell, if you don’t already know it, is the two disciples, Cleopas, one of them, and then an unknown one. They were not apostles; we know that from verse 33, on their way to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection. And Luke writes,
“And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were conversing with each other about all these things which had taken place. And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, ‘What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?’ And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?’ And He said to them, ‘What things?’ (You can see the Socratic method of teaching by questions here.) And they said to Him, ‘The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. ‘But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. ‘But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. ‘Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.’ And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary (Notice particularly that because our subject is the Necessity of Christ’s Death) ‘Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. And they urged Him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.’ And he went in to stay with them.”
That’s very interesting because it’s evident that it was relatively early in the morning that they had left because the men had not yet seen our Lord as became evident in the later hours of the morning. So most of the morning and even all of the afternoon, they were trudging along with our Lord toward Emmaus because when they reach Emmaus it’s in the evening, and he is asked to come in because it’s getting dark.
“Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.’ And he went in to stay with them. And it came about that When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one to another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’ And they arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, ‘The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.’ And they began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.”
May the Lord bless this reading of his word. Let’s bow together in a time of prayer.
[Prayer] Father we thank Thee for the word of God, and we thank Thee for the experience of these men on the Emmaus road and for the account that Luke has give us of it, surely one of the most encouraging of the resurrection accounts and of great significance for us today in nineteen eighty-eight. We thank Thee for a risen Savior who was crucified for our sins. We thank Thee that he must die and bear the judgment of our sin, rendering propitiation to a loving Father in heaven who provided him as our substitute. Oh God, deliver us from the characteristic errors of the day making him nothing more than an example rather than a substitute who offered a propitiatory sacrifice for sins. We thank Thee for the encouragement that we derive from the word of God that our sins have been expiated, paid for, and we are no longer liable for the penalty.
We thank Thee and praise Thee for the day in which we live and for the opportunity of serving our Lord in it.
Bless, Lord, the ministry of the word of God in all of the churches of the body of Christ today. Wherever that word is taught, Sunday school, morning ministry services, gospel meetings, bless the word. May the Lord Jesus be honored and glorified and may sinners be saved.
We thank Thee for this country. We pray Thy blessing upon it. We pray Thy blessing upon the whole body of Christ.
And we ask especially, Lord, for those who have requested our prayers who have been sick or hospitalized or suffering for various reasons and with various trials and difficulties. Oh God, minister to them as Thou didst minister to the Emmaus disciples.
We commit this meeting to Thee. We pray Thy blessing upon it and upon our time at the Lord’s Table this evening. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] The subject for today is, again, the Necessity of Christ’s Death. This is the fourth in the series on that topic. You’ll notice it’s the necessity of our Lord’s death. That’s really a theological title. And one will find this particular topic discussed in the systematic theologies, but we are seeking to substantiate it through the exposition of various references to the necessity in the New Testament, and today its Luke chapter 24 and verse 25 through verse 27. It cannot be denied that the infant science of psychology, if indeed it is a science, has become a major force in 20th Century society. From the school house, a vibrant psychological center today, to the grave, we live, as someone has said, within easy reach of the couch. In fact, there is so much emphasis upon psychology, if not directly, indirectly, that our society has been called the psychological society, or the age of anxiety, or to put it in the common terms, the age of angst. Di angst is a German word that means anxiety, but it has become so common in psychological thought and talk that even those who have never had a word of German know what angst means. In fact, one can even find it, believe it or not, upon the license plates of some individuals.
Striking in the United States, a few years back, I think really about twenty years back, I don’t know the figures today, but there is one either clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, for every eighty-five hundred people. I’m sure it’s a lot more today, but that was twenty years ago. In one of our national magazines, those figures appeared and then to contrast the rest of the western world, and some of the eastern world too, it was pointed out that in Great Britain there was one psychological counselor, either clinical or psychiatrist, for every twenty-two thousand, in France, one for every thirty-two thousand, in West Germany, one for every forty-three thousand, in Japan, one for every fifty-two thousand, and in Italy, this is startling, in Italy, one counselor for every three hundred and thirty thousand, three hundred and thirty-three people, which is, it seems to me, a vote for spaghetti, [Laughter] although, I have never heard of that as a cure for psychological problems. [Laughter]
Read the Christian literature today and one will find it’s largely psychology and religion. It may not be worded that way, although there are many volumes worded psychology and religion. But often the Christian books of today are nothing more than a mixture of modern psychology wedded to texts of Scripture, without exegesis of the texts, without a solid exposition of them, but just citation of them as being harmonious with the thoughts of the individuals who are writing their particular expository type material.
So Christian literature is filled with that, outside of a few men like Jim Packer, the themes are largely psychological; even Dr. Packer’s latest book is called Hot Tub Religion. Now I wonder what that is. Hot Tub Religion, that has no relevancy for me because I take showers as a general rule, but nevertheless, [Laughter] there must be some theological significance for that. Well if it’s not in to be out, it certainly is common. Christians too are affected. They’re joyless. They are defeated. They are bound by selfism. They are fruitless in the abounding life, devouring Narramore, Tenney, Dobson, neglecting Paul and Jesus’ literature, that is, these men, literature which is to the Bible as Larry Hagman and Joan Collins are to Olivier and Bergman. It’s not surprising that we evangelicals are filled with people who are cracking up.
Paul Vitz, ten years ago, Professor Vitz has been Associate Professor of Psychology at New York University, wrote a book called Psychology As Religion, not psychology and religion, but Psychology As Religion. And he called it also as a subtitle, The Cult of Self-Worship. He’s analyzed, in his way, modern humanistic self theories, tracing the roots back to the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, who wrote a book in eighteen forty-one, issued again in eighteen forty-three, entitled The Essence of Christianity. This left wing follower of Hegel denied the deity of Christ and the existence of God. Man’s selfless love for humanity constitutes salvation. The immediate precursors of selfist thought in the United States, surprisingly, are not psychologists, primarily, but Christian preachers, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Norman Vincent Peale. The basic idea of Fosdick was found in liberal theology before widely published and secular literature of psychology. Fosdick wrote a book called On Being a Real Person. Now that was a book that was an early variety of psychological self help.
There’s a person in the audience, I hope she won’t feel offended when I comment that a few weeks back we were standing outside after the evening service, and as Martha had just come out of the building, her name came up for discussion, and my friend said, “Martha is a real person.” And I wondered immediately, now what kind of person am I? [Laughter] Well, I always thought I was a real person too, [Laughter] but there must be something that makes a person a real person, and I don’t have it. [Laughter] Evidently I’m an unreal person.
But anyway Fosdick emphasizes his indebtedness to others, to some neurologists and psychologists and physiological counselors, but it was he who popularized this approach. He begins, in this book On Being a Real Person, “The central business of every human being is to be a real person.” Now this, mind you, is sixty years ago. People were talking, that is Fosdick, in liberal American churches about being a real person. “The central business of every human being is to be a real person.” This ideal of a “real person” Fosdick based on a personality theory which is presented as follows: “To be a person is to be engaged in the perpetual process of becoming.” Ah that’s the secret. I’m engaged in the perpetual process of going. That’s what Merrill Weaver suggested. I’m going. But nevertheless, oh you don’t get that. You’re kind of slow this morning. [Laughter] I’m sorry. That’s not in my notes. I just added it. [Laughter] I shouldn’t have said it. [Laughter]
Anyway, he said the basic urge of the human organism is toward wholeness. The primary command of our being is, get this; “Get yourself together,” sixty years ago. Now we have it on our doors, when a man gets in his car. “Get it all together,” psychology from a Christian modernist preacher sixty years ago. He says, “The fundamental sin is to be chaotic and unfocused when at last maturity is reached. The whole organism can be drawn together into that acme of integration which appears in creative work.” Fosdick made the point that in modern psychological parlance, the word “integration” has taken the place of the religious word salvation. Then he says, “Integration,” that’s salvation psychologically, “derives from self discovery, self acceptance, and self love.” Those are the things we hear in evangelicalism today. Sixty years later, Fosdick has become evangelical in his message.
Why are we defeated and despairing? Well one could ask the question, “Why are we discouraged?” Why do we find it difficult to live the kind of Christian life evidently the Bible sets forth for us as Christian life? Well one of the reasons is divine discipline. Of course, there are times when we have to experience things that no one would want to experience. It’s because God is disciplining us. There are ways in which we have displeased him. We’ve walked contrary to his word, and as a result, discipline necessarily follows. He’s a Father who loves, and any father who loves will discipline. If he doesn’t discipline, he’s not a loving father. A father has to learn, and a mother too, to say, “No,” and mean it. And that’s what we need, often, to be taught. It might be education. The experiences we have are often for our spiritual education and maturity. It’s God seeking to bring us to a better and deeper knowledge of him and of ourselves.
And even false doctrine, when Paul wrote the Galatians after he had preached the gospel to them and some Judaisers had come in and preached a different gospel to them and they were in danger of going over to it. He asked them this significant question. He said, “Where then is that sense of blessing you had? (Past tense) For I bare you witness that if possible you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.” What’s happened in the mean time? Well, they have become interested in false doctrine. False doctrine always leads to difficulty, and if a Christian who has embraced the gospel, as the Galatians did, begins to embrace that which is fault inevitability he will become a defeated Christian, and a despairing Christian, and a discouraged Christian. All of this, of course, is ultimately traceable to unbelief.
Well, we’re talking about the Emmaus travelers. If you speak of discouragement and disappointment, they had the worst form of it. That is, for Christians, because their discouragement and their disappointment was a disappointment with Jesus Christ. Nothing could be worse than that. He’s the only hope we think we have. And to be disappointed in him, that’s worse than anything. That’s what they had. Now we’ll try to point out that their disappointment was not simply a disappointment in Jesus Christ, but it was a disappointment in Jesus Christ crucified and risen. That was their disappointment. It was even deeper than just simply disappointment in a person. But disappointment in him as a crucified Savior who has offered a sacrifice that is a satisfaction. That is a sacrifice that expiates sin, that propitiates the Father and enables him consistent with all of his virtues and attributes to save us, to extend mercy to us, to make us, if I may put it in the common parlance, a truly “real person,” according to God’s standards.
Now let’s recount the situation. This chapter is a beautiful chapter. Luke’s style is always lovely, but here it’s at its loveliest. This is a unique and convincingly authentic narrative. One reading this must realize, as he reads it, that this is not something that was made up by Luke. The disciples had awakened on Sunday morning to astonishing reports. Women had gone out to the tomb. They had discovered it empty. Some of them had even said they had met angels who said that he was not dead that he was really alive. And furthermore, some of the men had raced out to the tomb, John and Peter, we know from John chapter 20, and also a convincingly authentic little part of that message, John out ran Peter because he was younger and stronger, as I would out run Merrill if we ran out there to that tomb. [Laughter] And there they saw, too, that the tomb was empty. Of course, they didn’t see him. So, evidently, these individuals were so discouraged, so defeated that even those reports did not deliver them from their discouragement. And they began their trip to Emmaus. They never would have begun it, as is evident by their actions later on, if they had had the conviction that our Lord had been seen and really was alive. But they heard the reports and even though they heard the reports, they trudged off seven miles to Emmaus in the dreary dazes of doubt. Unbelief, you see, had led to misery and misery led to the departure of hope.
What did they discuss on the road? Well, they were discussing a number of things. I have a hunch that probably they discussed some of the questions that our Lord was asked when they came into his presence. One of them is the question found in Acts chapter 1 and verse 6 that is about the salvation and deliverance of the nation Israel. Lord is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel? And I can imagine them saying, “Well you know I really thought,” verse 21 confirms this, “I really thought that he was the one who was going to redeem us and set us again at the head of the nations as the Scriptures seem to suggest.” And then one of the others, speaking to Cleopas, who perhaps had made a comment like that, said, “Yes, and remember when we were in the garden and the Roman soldiers came to take him, when he said, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth,’ supernaturally, it seemed to me, they went back and fell to the ground. There was something supernatural about Jesus of Nazareth.”
And then of course, if they had known about Peter and John going to the tomb, as seems evident confirming the words from the women, they must have discussed that as well, and reminded themselves of that, but nevertheless, they still, in spite of all of this, trudged on. No doubt saying to the other, “Well when Mary came back,” Mary Magdalene, “and she said that she had encountered these things,” remember at one time Mary had seven demons. She was a demon possessed person. She’s psychotic, a bit flakey, minus some buttons. So you cannot really believe Mary Magdalene. But you can sense from this statement in verse 21, “We were hoping,” that haunting past tense. “We were hoping,” not are that haunting past tense enshrines an agony of disillusion.
I’m reminded of Bunyan’s story of the pilgrims on the way to the celestial city. You remember one occasion when they drifted off of the king’s highway and became involved in By Path Meadow. A lot of us who are Christians have dwelt, at one time or another, or have been walking, at one time or another, in By Path Meadow. And you know that finally they came to Doubting Castle and Giant Despair was the one who controlled Doubting Castle. And they were captured, and they were brought inside the castle. They discovered a strange thing, however, that the giant, when the weather outside was nice and sun shiny, he seemed to lose a great deal of his power, but when it was a cloudy day, then he was strong, Giant Despair. Until Christian happened to put his hand in his bosom and felt a key, and he pulled out a key, the key of promise. And just out of curiosity, I guess, he went to a door and put the key in the door, and found it unlocked the door. In fact, the key of promise unlocked every door in Doubting Castle. And by virtue of the key of promise they were able to escape from Doubting Castle, and Giant Despair, and found their way back to the king’s highway. Only Bunyan can so beautifully picture the cure for discouragement and disappointment and indifference to the things of the Lord God.
Well as they discuss, they ask questions. Jesus asks them questions, and finally he blurts out in the 25th verse a rebuke of them. He says, “O foolish men and slow of heart.” In other words, he attacks their intellect, their foolish, and their will, deficient. “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” Their attitude to Scripture and their attitude to him is their difficulty. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me.” But they have forgotten this fundamental point found in the word of God, the sufficiency of Scripture. Let me say it again, the sufficiency of Scripture. And as becomes evident here, it’s the sufficiency of Scripture as it speaks of him. “O foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have written.”
So it’s really confidence in the word of God that is the solution to the problems of these individuals, and it’s related to the sufficiency of Scripture, and let me say, my Christian friend, that this doesn’t mean the seven dispensations. I’m not attacking the seven dispensations. I doubt that there are such things that are so easily set forth, but there are dispensational things about the word of God. But if we think that by something as significant as that may be in theology, that we are really, because we have learned that, have become mature in the Christian faith, we are sadly mistaken. It’s more than that. It’s an acquaintance with Scripture as it speaks of him, not him without Scripture. It’s an acquaintance of him as he is found in Scripture. Therefore, it’s not simply the seven dispensations, but it’s all of the other great teaching of the word of God including the Doctrine of Satisfaction, as we shall see.
In other words, what I’m saying to you is, the solution of your problem is not found in your friends. It’s not found in Christian books. It’s not found in Bible classes, all of these things are good, of course. It’s not found in the literature. The solution is found in our Lord as he is set forth in Scripture. That’s the answer to our problems. And I believe wholeheartedly, although I acknowledge, that there are many things that are worthwhile about psychology, so far as I know. I know very little about psychology. But if we were really, as these Emmaus disciples, ultimately, confronted with our Lord as he is found in Scripture, many of those men would be looking for a different kind of work, among Christians. Contrary to that, it’s growing today. There’s hardly a week, well a week that goes by, that I do not have more than one request for some psychological counselor to recommend to someone who has called.
Well our Lord must justify this, so we read, “And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” This is the key. This is the key of promise. This unlocks all the doors of Doubting Castle and delivers us from Giant Despair, as Bunyan put it, the key. The tendency of our day, unfortunately, is to forget that the Christian life is not a life that is lived experientially alone. God’s given us an intellect. He’s given us a mind. We’re to think about Christian truths and then to live in the light of what our minds, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, have come to understand. And so, the tendency of today is to resolve all of the attributes of God into benevolence, into love. God is love. That’s a biblical statement. It doesn’t say God is only love. It says God is love.
Scripture also says our God is a consuming fire. The seraphim in the Old Testament said, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts,” which is just another way of saying God is Holiness. God is love. God is Holiness. God is a consuming fire. In order to understand God, we need to understand all of the facets, all of the attributes of his being. To say that everything is resolved into love is to dissolve the other virtues. If you say God is love and that’s the great doctrine that you talk about all the time what you have done is dissolved the justice of God, dissolved the holiness of God, and the other aspects of God into nothingness. That’s what’s happened in our liberal theology today, and that has permeated Christian thinking as well.
Now, Jesus said, “Was it not necessary,” the Old Testament offerings should have taught them that. The prophecies should have taught them that. Well that raises a couple of further theories of the atonement that have been unhappily common in Christian professing groups, and one is the Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement. The Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement is probably one of the commonest theories of the atonement that professing Christian ministers, in their preaching, rely upon. They might not know it as the Moral Influence Theory that is to be traced back to Abelard, an 11th and 12th century theologian. But that’s their view of the death of Christ. It’s not necessary for him to die under the judgment of God as a penal sacrifice bearing penalty required by the Father to satisfy his justice. Oh, no, no. God is not like that, God is love. Forgetting of course, it was the loving God who sent the Son to offer the sacrifice that would satisfy his holiness and justice. They don’t think that deeply.
The Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement is that Christ’s death was designed to produce a moral impression upon sinners leading to their spiritual reformation, not regeneration, but reformation. Socinus and others contended that a subjective impression to stimulate heroic virtue was the intended effect of the death, illustrating God’s love and his willingness to forgive the sinners. I wish I could talk about the numbers of objections that might be raised at that theologically. Every positive benefit from that theory is found in Orthodox view. Of course, as one looks at the death of Christ, one is impressed and one senses a moral impression from the obedience of the Lord Jesus and the love of the Father, found in his death.
But that’s not all. Self sacrificial love for us excites a powerful response in us, but if it is done calculatedly, as this theory demands, to excite our love, not as a necessary work for us, but as a work simply upon us, then it defeats itself and arouses disgust, if that’s all Jesus tried to do is calculatedly to change our views. What a low view of the work of Christ. Gethsemane, which sounds just the opposite, and Calvary, these things were scenes deliberately contrived for effect. That’s all. Wasn’t really necessary, wasn’t necessary for him to pay our penalty. It’s all designed to impress us morally. Of course, this view rests upon a denial of the justice of God and the necessity for the shedding of blood in order for atonement to be made.
And let me say this, it is possible for a evangelical Christian to so stress the physical side of our Lord’s death, the thorn crowned brow, the blood down the face, incidentally, if you see that up there, that’s a rose bush, thorn crowned brow, don’t you feel sorry for Jesus? And then the spear thrust into his side, isn’t that sentimentally impressive? All of that’s necessary. I don’t deny the physical death. He must die physically, for Adam sinned, and physical death is one of the penalties of sin. But let me tell you, my Christian friend, what happened on Calvary is infinitely more than a physical death. There are men who’ve died a physical death with more apparent composure than Christ, who went voluntarily to their death, went voluntarily to their death singing the praises of the Lord God. Jesus hangs on the cross and cries “My God. My God. Why hast Thou forsaken me?”
Ah you see, no one ever died like Jesus. No one ever died under the penalty of a broken law. No one knows what it is to suffer the death that Christ died. That’s why the Greek church, centuries ago, spoke of his unknown sufferings. We don’t know them. They were spiritual sufferings. Those were the real sufferings by which our debt was paid. And those were within his spirit and so don’t think for one moment that when you look at a cross and the blood is shed, that we’re thinking about a physical death only. That’s designed to cause you to go back behind that to the spiritual death that he died. But in our preaching and in our devotional life, there are people who stand in our midst, in our midst too, who stress simply the physical. That’s to do injustice to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s to do injustice to the being of God because he’s more than benevolence interpreted by human beings.
I don’t have time to talk about the Governmental Theory. I’ll just save that for our next study, but you can see from this that when the Lord Jesus said, “Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into his glory,” he is speaking far more than words about physical death, though included. He talks also about the necessity of the resurrection. And then in this marvelous 27th verse, the Bible conference began. “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets,” the glory of expository teaching and preaching, the Messianic passages in Moses were brought up. You can think of all of them. The beginnings of sacrifice in the 4th chapter, Abraham in chapter 22, the great promises of the redeemer to come in the later chapters of Genesis, the Exodus and the Passover lamb, Leviticus with its whole sacramental system all designed to point to our Lord and emphasize different aspects of his work, burnt offering, meal offering, peace offering, sin offering, trespass offering, all of these things, aspects of what Christ did on the cross. Move on through the Old Testament to the prophets and, evidently, he’s cited from all of the prophets.
That’s not an incredible thing. Some expositors say, “That’s incredible he should cite from all the prophets.” No it’s not incredible. All those prophets spoke of him. So you can see him reaching his climax and talking about Isaiah chapter 53 and Zechariah and then finally Malachi, the climax, not of the Hebrew Bible, but as we understand, in our English Bible, that’s the climax, but at least it’s one of the climaxes of the Messianic unfolding of the word of God. So I think you can see that this must have been the greatest Bible conference ever held under the magic touch of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole past stirred, awoke to life, the one with the nail prints in his hand, as you must understand, can alone untangle the riddle of history. In the Book of Revelation, the 5th chapter, who is it that is called upon to take the book and to open the seals by which the whole of the future is unfolded? It’s the lamb who has been slain and who has purchased some from every tribe, kindred, tongue, and nation, and who has made them a kingdom in priests and has cause that they shall rein upon the earth. So we charm the gloom away by Christ in the Old Testament.
Arthur T. Pearson once speculated that perhaps the Epistle of the Hebrews is the message he gave. That’s pure speculation, but it must have included a great bit of that. Mr. Spurgeon used to say that whenever he turned to the Old Testament, he headed straight across the country to Jesus Christ. That’s one of the reasons, by the way, why Satan hates the Old Testament. That’s why modernist preachers don’t like the Old Testament. It speaks of him, and speaking of him prophetically. There’s a further apologetic force to it, but I want to tell you that when the Lord Jesus finished, it took them all day to go seven miles. I used to say that in the days of the freedom marches that any good freedom marcher can make fifteen miles a day.
These people only made seven, but they were stopping all the time and turning to one another and saying, “We’ve never heard anything like this in all our lives. I’ve looked at that prophecy before, but I’ve never heard it expounded like that. Peter never understood that. John never understood that. We discussed those things.” But the light was truly breaking. And so for hour after hour, they stopped, looked at each other, listened to him as he expounded, think of that, mind you, you people who are wondering whether it’s 12:00 yet, they were seven hours or so on the road, listening to the exposition. Of course, I assure you those seven hours sounded shorter than our forty minutes. So at sundown, the sunlight had come into their hearts as he explained and expounded the Scriptures to them.
Well I’d like to conclude. It’s noteworthy that when alone, after this was over, they didn’t express wonder at the resurrection. That’s what they would have done down at the seminary. They would have discussed the resurrection body. We finally found out what the resurrection body is like, so they discussed that. That’s a legitimate discussion incidentally, but they didn’t discuss it. And they didn’t even discuss their sorrow at our Lord’s withdrawal from them. But rather, they discussed the glow of belief and relief and the hope that filled their hearts when he opened to them the Scriptures. They said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was expounding to us on the road while he was explaining the Scriptures to us.”
So for depression, for discouragement for unbelief, the remedy, Christians, is the key of the promises of the word of God. It unlocks all the locks of Doubting Castle, which is within our hearts, leads to clarity of vision of God’s purpose in the presence of Christ. You’ll notice too, incidentally, that it’s not while he, well let me read it, “Were not our hearts burning within us while we talked with him on the road.” I don’t want to make too much over this, but the text says, “While he talked with us.” In other words, it’s not prayer by which we obtain the burning heart. It’s not our talking to God. Some of us spend so much time talking to God that we never allow him to talk to us. You see he talks to us through Scripture as we ponder and as we listen. “While he talked to us on the road” and “While he was explaining the Scriptures to us.”
You know when I was going through theological seminary, I had a church history professor who was the most dignified professor I ever had, came to class always, dressed very well. He was the minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Marshall Texas, and he looked it. He had a dark blue suit. He had a relatively unobtrusive tie always, dark blue. I don’t think he ever wore a tie that even had maroon like that. He always wore black shoes. He was just a dignified Presbyterian minister.
Well, one time when we were there at chapel, we used to meet at 10:00 for chapel, and we had an evangelist from the east. He was a young evangelist, relatively young man, about forty, middle age. [Laughter] And he was pretty well known as having caught the ear of young people. Well when he walked on the platform, he wore; it was back in the days of something like zoot suits, I don’t know whether you remember them, but he walked on the platform with a loud sport coat that went almost to his knees, like this, and he had everything else to go with it. He was a nice man and a sound preacher. But he was into that, and his theme that morning was belaboring the Saints for not being zealous to reach people for the Lord, lovely theme.
Well he belabored it, but he also made a few fundamental PR mistakes. He said, “The trouble with so many preachers today is that they wear black suits, black ties, and black shoes, and play solitaire with the prospect cards.” And he went on through his message, and my friend the Presbyterian minister, who is now with the Lord, he was a Presbyterian minister outwardly, but inwardly if you touched the right spot, he had a rather short fuse. But he was at the age of my you’re looking well. [Laughter] So he didn’t burst out immediately. He bode his time.
About three months later, it came his time to preach in chapel. And so he stood up in all of his dignity, and he said, “My subject today,” oh I almost forgot the punch line; the preacher went on to say, “What we need today is for someone to put a fire under our shirt tails. If we catch our shirt tails on fire, we’ll move to reach these lost people.” So Dr. Nash stood up, and he said, “My subject today is the Emmaus disciples, or the burning heart verses the flaming shirt tail.” [Laughter] And he gave us a marvelous message in which he pointed out that the true burning heart comes from the word of God, and how true it is. You know one of the nice things about Scripture is that the promises are promises that are given to us by the Lord God, and he guarantees them.
There’s an old story about a Father Junkin, who was a minister, and he was on his last days in his eighties. He’d been a faithful servant of the Lord, and word came to the present minister of the church that Father Junkin was in his last hours. So he went to the hospital room and the minister said to the young minister, he said, “You know I’m having some great difficulties,” said, “I memorized many promises from the word of God through the years. I’ve preached those promises. I’ve believed those promises, and I’ve gotten to the stage where I cannot remember a one of them.” And the young man said, “The Lord gave me something that I’d never even thought about before. What I said to the old man, ‘but Father Junkin, the Lord knows those promises, and he has remembered them.” And he said immediately a peace came over him and he said, “Well, praise the Lord,” as he drifted off to sleep. God remembers his promises made to me. And a few hours later, it was said that he was dead.
So at the heart of, and the fundamental ground of, the promises is not simply a physical death, but a physical death and a spiritual death. By which our Lord Jesus rendered a satisfaction, expiating sin, propitiating the Father, by which, consistent with all of his attributes, not simply his love, his justice, his holiness. God, in mercy, may justify us, may forgive us, may adopt us into his family, and constantly accompany us with his personal presence, and the care that goes with it. The remedy, my Christian friends, for discouragement and defeat is still the Christ of the Emmaus road, who is with us as we walk on our streets in nineteen eighty-eight.
If you’re here today and you’ve never believed in him, then you don’t have this comfort. You don’t have these promises. You don’t have the reality of a Lord who accompanies you, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second, for all of your life. And who has offered a sacrifice, an atoning sacrifice, not simply of his physical being, but spiritually, has borne the penalty of the broken law, has borne, to the fullest, the wrath of God and through him we may have eternal salvation and life. Come to Christ, believe in him, and trust in him. He’ll do for you what he’s done for Christians through the centuries, and for the disciples on the Emmaus road. Let’s stand for the benediction.
[Prayer] We thank Thee Lord for these marvelous accounts that men of God have given us so authentic in the impression they make upon our minds and hearts, giving us a true sense of the presence of our Lord and all that he can do for sinners. Oh God, by Thy grace, touch the hearts of individuals in this audience, may they lift them to Thee, acknowledge their sin, rest upon Christ’s finished work, his propitiating work, his expiating work, his satisfaction…
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]