Verse of the Day

Friday, March 30, 2007

Pastor's Sermon Notes - March 25, 2007

The City of God, The Church of God,
and the Child of God
Revelation 21:9-14 (21:9-22:5)

[9] And there came unto me one of the seven angels
which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues,
and talked with me, saying,
Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
[10] And he carried me away in the spirit
to a great and high mountain,
and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem,
descending out of heaven from God,
[11] Having the glory of God:
and her light was like unto a stone most precious,
even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
[12] And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates,
and at the gates twelve angels,
and names written thereon,
which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
[13] On the east three gates; on the north three gates;
on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
[14] And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.


The Characteristics of Cities in the Ancient World

The Different Characteristics of Modern Cities - e.g., the need for "star wars" defenses today

1. The Holy City is a walled City.
2. The Holy City is a gated City.
3. The Holy City is a City with foundations.

I. The Holy City is a walled City.

[12] And had a wall great and high...[15] And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. [16] And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. [17] And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. [18] And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

1. The Walls of the City of God

What purpose do walls serve?

Security - walls provide a barrier between you and the enemy

There is exclusion. (John F. Walvoord - “an obvious symbol of exclusion”?!?!)

“The mention of a wall is not to suggest the necessity of security precautions in the eternal state....The wall is simply part of the description of an ideal city as conceived by ancient peoples accustomed to the security of strong outer walls.”
(Note 31: “For the wall as a metaphor of security see Isa 26:1; Zech. 2:5.”)
Robert H. Mounce, pp. 378-379

“On the gates of the city are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and on the foundations the names of the twelve apostles. Just as Paul’s use of the olive tree symbolizes the joining of Jew and Gentile in the plan of God, so John’s use of the one wall around the holy city (21:12) illustrates the oneness of the people of God in its highest and most spiritual sense.”

Isaiah 26:1 - In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

Zech. 2:5 - For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.

Isaiah 62:6 - I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence
Leviticus 25:31 - But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubile.
Deut. 28:52 - And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
Joshua 6:5 - And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
Joshua 6:20 - So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
2 Kings 14:13 - And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
Psalm 51:18 - Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Psalm 89:40 - Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.
Proverbs 18:11 - The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.
Proverbs 25:28 - He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Isaiah 49:16 - Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Isaiah 60:10 - And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
Isaiah 60:18 - Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
Ezekiel 42:20 - He measured it by the four sides: it had a wall round about, five hundred reeds long, and five hundred broad, to make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place.

2. The Walls of the Church of God

The Church has walls!

There must be exclusion!

The Discipline of the Church of God - binding
The Keys of the Kingdom - Mt. 16:19 (13-20) - And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
This is one of the essential Marks of the Church!

3. The Walls of the Child of God

The Christian must have walls

there must be exclusion in the Christian life

the discipline of the Child of God
Defensive weapons - Eph. 6:10-18
The Lord
The Power of His might
The Whole armor of God -
1) truth
2) righteousness
3) preparation of the Gospel of Peace
4) faith
5) salvation
6) Word of God
7) prayer

II. The Holy City is a gated City.

[12] And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: [13] On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates....[21] And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

1. The Gates of the City of God

What purpose do gates serve?

Controlled access points

There is inclusion.

Ezekiel 48:30-35 - [30] And these are the goings out of the city on the north side, four thousand and five hundred measures. [31] And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. [32] And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. [33] And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. [34] At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. [35] It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there.

Who is included?

Who is allowed to enter the gates?

[25] And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. [26] And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. [27] And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Genesis 22:17 - That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
Psalm 24:7 - Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Psalm 24:9 - Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Psalm 87:2 - The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Psalm 100:4 - Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalm 118:19-20 - Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: [20] This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.
Psalm 122:2 - Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Psalm 147:13 - For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
Proverbs 8:3 - She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
Proverbs 8:34 - Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

2. The Gates of the Church of God

The Church has gates!

There must be inclusion!

The membership of the Church of God - loosing
The Keys of the Kingdom - Mt. 16:19 (13-20) - And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The preaching of the Gospel

3. The Gates of the Child of God

The Christian has gates! (e.g., eyes and ears)

There must be inclusion in the Christian life

The influences on the Child of God

III. The Holy City is a City with foundations.

[14] And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb....[19] And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; [20] The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

1. The Foundations of the City of God

What purpose do foundations serve?

It shall not be moved!

There is a basis.

Eph. 2:20 - And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Heb. 11:10 - For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

2. The Foundations of the Church of God

The Church has foundations

The bases for the Church of God

3. The Foundations of the Child of God

The Child of God has foundations

The Root and Ground of the settled child of God

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pastor's Sermon Notes - March 11, 2007

The Three Mountains of Moses:
Sinai, Pisgah and Transfiguration -
The Mountains of Law, Vision and Glory


I have a thing about mountains. It is as if they call to me. I have to get to the top to see what can be viewed from there, and then I wear my legs out getting to the next one. From Dutch Mountain to Mount Minsi, from Smoky Mountain to Hawk Mountain, the steeper and more rugged the terrain the better I like it. I can't stay away from them for long. I have a thing about mountains.

Geography plays a role in how we think about Scripture, and in how we think about life.

Consider the many Mountains and Valleys in Scripture, and the role that they play in Biblical history.

The Valleys of Eschol, Achor, Jericho, Hinnom, Jezreel, Elah, Rephaim, Megiddo, salt, Succoth, Jehoshaphat, etc.

The Mountain of Horeb, Ebal, Gerizim, Hermon, Ephraim, Tabor, Bethel, Moriah, Hor, Nebo, Carmel, Olives (Olivet)

Consider also the Mountains and Valleys in Life, the high points and low points of our experience. Can you think for a moment of those times in your walk with the Lord that you would characterize as mountain top experiences? Have you spent time in the valleys of life? They help us to appreciate at the mountains, don't they?

God has a thing about the geography of His creation:

1 Kings 20:28 - And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

Psalm 23:4 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Isaiah 40:4 - Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: [cited in Luke 3:5, and included in Handel's "Messiah"]

Jeremiah 48:8 - And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the Lord hath spoken.

Jeremiah 49:4 - Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?

Ezekiel 6:3 (also 36:4, 6) - And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.

Joel 3:14 - Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

Zech. 14:4 - And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

Psalm 36:6 - Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

Psalm 72:3 - The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

Psalm 87:1 - His foundation is in the holy mountains.

Micah 4:2 - And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Zech. 8:3 - Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.

John 4:20-21 - Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Rev. 21:10 - And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Christ spent time on the mountains. It was a place of retreat, ministry and worship for Him:

Matthew 5:1 - And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: (Thus begins what we now call, The Sermon on the Mount)

Matthew 14:23 - And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

Matthew 15:29 - And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

Moses was with God on three mountains in Scripture. I am not aware of any others that he may have been on, but these three are significant for Biblical history, and for lessons that we can learn from Moses' experiences with God on these mountains.

I. The First Mountain - Sinai - The Mountain of Law (Ex. 19:20)
II. The Second Mountain - Pisgah - The Mountain of Vision (Dt. 34:1)
III. The Third Mountain - Transfiguration - The Mountain of Glory (Mt. 17:1-3)

I. The First Mountain - Sinai - The Mountain of Law - Ex. 19-34 (19:20)

And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai,on the top of the mount:
and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount;
and Moses went up

This Mountain is where we learn of the Fear of God!

Consider the distinctive unapproachableness of Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19.

Moses was alone on Mt. Sinai with God.

II. The Second Mountain - Pisgah - The Mountain of Vision - Deut. 3:23-28; 34:1-8 (34:1)

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab
unto the mountain of Nebo,
to the top of Pisgah,
that is over against Jericho.

This Mountain is where we may view the Promise of God!

Just as on Mt. Sinai, Moses was alone with God on Mt. Pisgah.

The reason for the vision from Mt. Pisgah - The answer to the question concerning why Moses could not enter the land may be found in Num. 20:1-13; and Deut. 3:23-28.

Pisgah was the end of the road for Moses.

Why would someone die in the Land of the Law short of the Promised Land?

The Mediator of the Law will never get you across that River!

Moses was buried in a valley, not on the mountain - Deut. 34:6 -
And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

In this life we get a foretaste of Glory, we groan and travail for the deliverance to the Eternal Promised Land, we fill our eyes, our minds, our spirits with the vision extended to us on the high places of the Word of God!

Pisgah has been an inspiration for hymnwriters for centuries.

“Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:”

From: "Sweet Hour of Prayer,"
by William Walford (1845)

This hymn first appeared in The New York Observer, September 13, 1845, accompanied by the following, by Thomas Salmon:

“During my residence at Coleshill, Warwickshire, England, I became acquainted with W. W. Walford, the blind preacher, a man of obscure birth and connections and no education, but of strong mind and most retentive memory. In the pulpit he never failed to select a lesson well adapted to his subject, giving chapter and verse with unerring precision and scarcely ever misplacing a word in his repetition of the Psalms, every part of the New Testament, the prophecies, and some of the histories, so as to have the reputation of “knowing the whole Bible by heart.” He actually sat in the chimney corner, employing his mind in composing a sermon or two for Sabbath delivery, and his hands in cutting, shaping and polishing bones for shoe horns and other little useful implements. At intervals he attempted poetry. On one occasion, paying him a visit, he repeated two or three pieces which he had composed, and having no friend at home to commit them to paper, he had laid them up in the storehouse within. “How will this do?” asked he, as he repeated the following lines, with a complacent smile touched with some light lines of fear lest he subject himself to criticism. I rapidly copied the lines with my pencil, as he uttered them, and sent them for insertion in the Observer, if you should think them worthy of preservation.”

“Thou art a cooling fountain in life’s dry, dreary sand;
From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain, we view our promised land.”

From: "O Day of Rest and Gladness,"
by Christopher Wordsworth (1862)

“Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o’er,
Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood,
Should fright us from the shore.”

From: "There is a Land of Pure Delight,"
by Isaac Watts

“I’ve been on Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
And I’ve satisfied my longing heart’s desire;
For I caught a glimpse of glory bright,
And my soul is burning with the fire.

O the fire is burning, yes, ’tis brightly burning,
O ’tis burning, burning in my soul;
O the fire is burning, yes, ’tis brightly burning,
O ’tis burning, burning in my soul.”

From: "The Fire Is Burning,"
by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922)

III. The Third Mountain - Transfiguration - The Mountain of Glory - Mt. 16:28-17:1-9 (17:1-3); Mk. 9:1-10; Lk. 9:27-36

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother,
and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
And was transfigured before them:
and his face did shine as the sun,
and his raiment was white as the light.
And, behold,
there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

This Mountain is where we learn of the Glory of God!

2 Peter 1:16-18 - [16] For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [17] For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [18] And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Now Moses is not alone!

He has company on this mountain, and they are carrying on a conversation. What are they talking about? If you would like to know read Luke 9:31! Don't you wish you could have listened in on that conversation?

Can you see Moses there on that mountain? First he is there, and then he is not!

Now there is only One there! And the Father commanded the Apostles to hear His beloved Son.

Can you hear Him? Can you hear only Him?


We cannot meet God at Mt. Sinai as Moses did.
Even the children of Israel could not approach that mountain at that time.

We were not party to the vision that God showed Moses from the top of Mt. Pisgah. The vision of our inheritance comes from elsewhere!

We were not there on the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, James and John saw Moses and Elijah talking with Christ.

There is a mountain for you! God has a mountain for you! And it is called Zion! We have come to Mt. Zion!

Psalm 48:2 - Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

Psalm 125:1 - They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

Isaiah 24:23 - Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

Joel 2:32 - And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

Obadiah 1:17 - But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Rev. 14:1 - And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

And Mt. Zion is where we have come to Jesus!

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
[Hebrews 12:18-24]

God has a thing about mountains.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Pastor's Sermon Notes - March 4, 2007

Surprised by the Unexpected!
(The Gospel of the Doubters)


What frame of mind do we find ourselves in, how is our faith:
When God breaks out of the box we have put Him in!
When God shakes our world to its core!
When God turns our world upside down!

There are three examples of this happening in the Gospels.

In each of these three examples there is a common thread.

The common thread is that they were "Surprised by the Unexpected!"

What happened to each of these three men may be experienced by you and I.

Let us not for one moment think that we are above them and their experiences!

These accounts are recorded in Scripture for good reason - by God - for us!

There may be "good news" for us when we question the Lord, when we deny Him, or when we refuse to believe in Him. Perhaps we may refer to this is "the Gospel of the Doubters!"

I. The Questions of John the Baptist - Mt. 11:2
II. The Denials of Peter - Mk. 14:68-71
III. The Refusals of Thomas - Jn. 20:25

In each case we will consider the nature of the doubt expressed, and what it implies for us.
Then we will examine Christ’s response to the doubter, and what we can learn from that response.

The Right Must Win [footnote 1]
by Frederick William Faber (1814-63)

OH, it is hard to work for God,
To rise and take his part
Upon this battle-field of earth,
And not sometimes lose heart!

He hides himself so wondrously,
As though there were no God;
He is least seen when all the powers
Of ill are most abroad.

Or he deserts us at the hour
The fight is all but lost;
And seems to leave us to ourselves
Just when we need him most.

Ill masters good; good seems to change
To ill with greatest ease;
And, worst of all, the good with good
Is at cross-purposes.

Ah! God is other than we think;
His ways are far above,
Far beyond reason's height, and reach'd
Only by childlike love.

Workman of God! Oh, lose not heart,
But learn what God is like;
And in the darkest battle-field
Thou shalt know where to strike.

Thrice bless'd is he to whom is given
The instinct that can tell
That God is on the field when he
Is most invisible.

Bless'd, too, is he who can divine
Where real right doth lie,
And dares to take the side that seems
Wrong to man's blindfold eye.

For right is right, since God is God;
And right the day must win;
To doubt would be disloyalty,
To falter would be sin.

I. The Questions of John the Baptist - Mt. 11:3

Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

Context: Mt. 11:2-19; Lk. 7:18-35

Consider also what we know about John the Baptist from the early chapters of the Gospels as to his character, and the type of man that he was!

1. A Consideration of John the Baptist’s Questions

What was Jesus doing during His life and ministry here on this earth?
If He is who He says He is, and who I thought He is, then why isn’t He...?

The Mighty Baptist becomes the Deathrow Questioner! [footnote 2]

1) We Question Who He Is!

2) We Doubt God’s Hand In Events Based On Our Preconceptions Of What He Should Be Doing!

What effect does it have on us:
When God breaks out of the box we have put Him in?
When God shakes our world to its core?
When God turns our world upside down?

2. An Examination of Christ’s Response to John the Baptist’s Questions

Mt. 11:4-6 - Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: [5] The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. [6] And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. [footnote 3]

1) A Reminder From the Lord - Scripture!

Is. 35:5-6 - Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. [6] Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Isaiah 61:1-3 - The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; [2] To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; [3] To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

This was no simple answer. But it was the Scripture answer!

2) The Testimony of the Lord - His works!

and the significance of John the Baptist!

Mt. 11:7-19; Lk. 7:24-35

"As the strongest faith may be shaken, so the weakest, where truth is, is so far rooted that it will prevail. Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails. Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect His strength in; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to Him in whom our strength lies."
—Richard Sibbes

Take your doubts and your questions to Jesus! Look to Him for answers!

II. The Denials of Peter - Mk. 14:68-71

But he denied, saying, I know not,
neither understand I what thou sayest....
And he denied it again....
But he began to curse and to swear, saying,
I know not this man of whom ye speak.

Context: Mt. 26:57-75; Mk. 14:53-72; Lk. 22:54-62; Jn. 18:13-27

Compare also the prophecy concerning Peter's denials in Mt. 26:30-35; Mk. 14:26-31; Lk. 22:31-34; Jn. 13:36-38

1. A Consideration of Peter’s Denials

What was Jesus doing allowing Himself to be arrested and abused at the hands of these politicians and religious hypocrites?
Why would He...?

The Great Apostle becomes the Sorrowful Denier!

1) We Deny Our Relationship to the Lord!

2) We Fail to Respond to the World (or, Accusers) Based on our Union with Christ!

2. An Examination of Christ’s Response to Peter’s Denials

The Prayer and the Command - Lk. 22:31-32 - And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: [32] But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

The Look - Lk. 22:61 - And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

The Visit - 1 Cor. 15:5 - And that he was seen of Cephas

The 3-fold reversal of the denials on the shoreline - Jn. 21:1-19 - [17] He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. [18] Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. [19] This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

1) A Restoration By The Lord

2) The Tenderness of the Lord

What effect does it have on us:
When God breaks out of the box we have put Him in?
When God shakes our world to its core?
When God turns our world upside down?

"How many, alas, of the precious saints of God must we shut out from being believers, if there is no faith but what amounts to assurance.... shall we say their faith went away in the departure of their assurance? How oft then in a year may a believer be no believer? even as often as God withdraws and leaves the creature in the dark. Assurance is like the sun-flower, which opens with the day and shuts with the night. It follows the motion of God's face; if that looks smilingly on the soul, it lives; if that frowns or hides itself, it dies. But faith is a plant that can grow in the shade, a grace that can find the way to heaven in a dark night. It can "walk in darkness, and yet trust in the name of the Lord."
—William Gurnall

III. The Refusals of Thomas - Jn. 20:25

Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails,
and put my finger into the print of the nails,
and thrust my hand into his side,
I will not believe

Context: Jn. 20:24-29

1. A Consideration of Thomas’ Refusals

What was Jesus doing lying there in that tomb?
Out of the Tomb? He can’t do that!
Where is He?

The Awol Apostle becomes the Insistent Skeptic!

1) We Question The Completeness Of His Victory!

2) We Refuse To Accept The Eyewitness Testimony He Provides!

What effect does it have on us:
When God breaks out of the box we have put Him in?
When God shakes our world to its core?
When God turns our world upside down?

"Despite our best effort to keep him out, God intrudes.
The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities:
a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb.
Jesus entered through a door marked "No entrance"
and left through a door marked "No exit."
–Peter Larson, Prism (Jan./Feb. 2001)

2. An Examination of Christ’s Response to Thomas’ Refusals

John 20:26-29 - And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. [27] Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

1) A Response From The Lord

2) The Touch Of The Lord

"Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn't have guessed.
That's one of the reasons I believe Christianity.
It's a religion you couldn't have guessed."
–C. S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity

"Where reason cannot wade there faith may swim. "
—Thomas Watson

"It is the nature of faith to believe God upon His bare word....
It will not be, saith sense;
it cannot be, saith reason;
it both can and will be, saith faith, for I have a promise."
—John Trapp

"We walk by faith, and not by sight;
And, blessed saint, like thee,
We sometimes doubt if faith tells right,
Because we cannot see.
Upon the promise we would lean
Thy doubting heart received;
Blessed are they that have not seen,
And that have yet believed."
– John M. Neale, "We Have Not Seen, We Cannot See",
in Hymns for Children, third series (1846)


The Gospel of the Doubters is that you are wrong - and, YES, God CAN do that!

Lord, my weak thought in vain would climb
To search the starry vault profound;
In vain would wing her flight sublime
To find creation’s utmost bound.

But weaker yet that thought must prove
To search Thy great eternal plan,
Thy sovereign counsels, born of love
Long ages ere the world began.

When my dim reason would demand
Why that, or this, Thou dost ordain,
By some vast deep I seem to stand,
Whose secrets I must ask in vain.

When doubts disturb my troubled breast,
And all is dark as night to me,
Here, as on solid rock,
I rest—That so it seemeth good to Thee.

Be this my joy, that evermore
Thou rulest all things at Thy will;
Thy sovereign wisdom I adore,
And calmly, sweetly, trust Thee still.

–Ray Palmer, 1888

Footnote 1:
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. A Victorian Anthology, 1837-1895
(Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1895; New York:, 2001,

Footnote 2:
In this I am agreeing with Tertullian, Edersheim, and Hendricksen, et al. and disagreeing with Hilary, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Augustine, and Ryle, et al., that the questions were indeed those of John the Baptist, and not just asked on behalf of some doubting disciples of his. For the opposing viewpoint see John Charles Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n.d.), Vol. 2: Luke 1-10, pp. 214-219. However, I would especially direct attention to the following from Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, One-volume ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d.), III:666-668 -

"We are in the spirit by the mount of God, and about to witness the breaking of a terrible storm. It is one that uproots the great trees and rends the rocks; and we shall watch it solemnly, earnestly, as with bared head - or, like Elijah, with face wrapt in mantle....Strange as it may seem, it was, perhaps, better for the Baptist when he was alone. Much as his disciples honoured and loved him, and truly zealous and jealous for him as they were, it was best when they were absent. There are times when affection only pains, by forcing on our notice inability to understand, and adding to our sorrow that of feeling our inmost being a stranger to those nearest, and who love us must [sic]. Then, indeed, is a man alone. It was so with the Baptist....And yet further and more terrible questions rose in that dark dungeon. Like serpents that crept out of its walls, they would uncoil and raise their heads with horrible hissing. What if, after all, there had been some terrible mistake on his part? At any rate the logic of events was against him....It must have been a terrible hour, and the power of darkness. At the end of one's life, and that of such self-denial and suffering, and with a conscience so alive to God, which had - when a youth - driven him burning with holy zeal into the wilderness, to have such a question meeting him as: Art Thou He; or do we wait for another? Am I right, or in error and leading others into error? must have been truly awful....Let no one dare to say that the faith of John failed, at least till the dark waters have rolled up to his own soul. For mostly all and each of us must pass through some like experience; and only our own hearts and God know, how death-bitter are the doubts, whether of head or of heart, when question after question raises, as with devilish hissing, its head, and earth and heaven alike seem silent to us....Nor yet could the record, which gives us this insight into the weakness of the strong man and the doubts of the great Testimony-bearer, be a cunningly-devised fable. We cannot imagine the record of such a failure, if the narrative were an invention....In that terrible hour John overcame, as we all must overcome. His very despair opened the door of hope. The helpless doubt, which none could solve but One, he brought to Him around Whom it had gathered. Even in this there is evidence for Christ, as the unalterably True One. When John asked the question: Do we wait for another? light was already struggling through darkness. It was incipient victory even in defeat. When he sent his disciples with this question straight to Christ, he had already conquered; for such a question addressed to a possibly false Messiah has no meaning. And so must it ever be with us. Doubt is the offspring of our disease, diseased as is its paternity. And yet it cannot be cast aside. It may be the outcome of the worst, or the problems of the best souls. The twilight may fade into outer night, or it may usher in the day. The answer lies in this: whether doubt will lead us to Christ, or from Christ."

Footnote 3:
"Raising the dead is not the climax. There is something even greater, namely, "the poor are having good news preached to them." That is the greatest work of all." William Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), pg. 394.