“Being Thankful Changes How You Think” Romans 1:18-32
Being Thankful Changes How You Think
The Revelation of God’s Wrath (vv. 18-20)
“For the wrath of God is (constantly) revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Wrath is the personal manifestation of God’s holy, moral character in judgment against sin. It is neither an impersonal process nor irrational and fitful like anger. It is in no way a vindictive or malicious. It is holy indignation – God’s anger directed against sin.
All people stand condemned because of their sin. (Romans 3:10-11 “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” )
God reveals His wrath in two ways: 1) indirectly through the natural consequences of violating His universal moral law. 2) directly through His personal intervention
God has been revealing His wrath for a long time. The first time was in response to Adam and Eve after they disobediently ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and caused themselves and mankind to fall under the curse of sin.
In the centuries that followed, humanity became so sinful that God released His wrath again through the Flood (Gen. 6:7). God also demonstrated His wrath in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, sending plagues upon the Egyptians, and instituting the sacrificial system.
God hates sin and will not put with it forever. The suffering death of Jesus upon the cross was the ultimate demonstration of the God’s wrath. The Father’s hatred for sin is so intense that for the sake of sinners He poured out His righteous fury on His beloved, sinless Son, who took our place. So now mankind stands with a choice to either take the wrath of God upon himself or accept Jesus’ gift to take the wrath for us.
Some Old Testament words describe God’s holy response to human sin. Some of these meanings include (charah) “to become heated up, to burn with fury,” (charon) “burning, fierce wrath” (Za’am) “furious.”
Why is God angry at sinful people? Because they have substituted the truth about him with a fantasy of their own imagination (1:25). They have stifled the truth God naturally reveals to all people in order to believe anything that supports their own self-centered life-styles.
(v. 18) “Supress the truth” Although the evidence from conscience (1:19; 2:14), creation (1:20), and God’s Word is irrefutable, men choose to resist and oppose God’s truth by holding fast to their sin.
Truth in the NT is not simply something to which one must give mental agreement (assent), it is something to be done. When people act sinfully, rebelling against God’s just rule, they fail to embrace the truth and so suppress it.
When people suppress and distort the truth of God, they run the risk of a darkened heart. As part of the judgment of their sin, God confirms their rebellion by removing his light from their minds. Then their confused thinking becomes a permanent mind-set and they are unable to turn to God. When people suppress God’s will they will believe any lie that comes along to support their personal beliefs.
What can we learn about God from this revelation from nature (v.20)? God is mighty and powerful, intelligence, intricate detail. He is a God of order and beauty.
“without excuse” If a person will respond to the revelation he has, even if it is solely natural revelation, God will provide some means for that person to hear the gospel (Acts 8:26-39; 10:1-48; 17:27).
Rejection of the knowledge of God is repeated in every generation, by every individual. Every person is “without excuse” because every person has been given a knowledge of God and has favored idolatry over this knowledge.
All stand under the awful reality of the wrath of God, and all are in desperate need of the justifying power of the gospel of Christ.
Why then should we be involved in missions or even tell others about Christ?
- Although people know that God exists, they suppress that truth by their wickedness and thus deny him. We are to point out their error.
- Although people may believe there is a God, they refuse to commit themselves to him. We can help to persuade them.
- We can try to convince people who reject God of the dangerous consequences of their actions.
- Even if nature reveals there is a God, people need to be told how to have a relationship with Him.
- The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19,20).
Mankind has continually and consistently sought to escape accountability to God’s standard (Gen. 3:8). Men and women would prefer that the biblical God not exist, even though there is an essential knowledge of Him placed within each person.
The Rejection of God’s Ways (vv. 21-24)
“21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. . . ,”
“knew God” Man is conscience of God’s existence, power, and divine nature through general revelation (vv. 19,20). The refusal of people to acknowledge and worship God (v. 21) explains why the revelation of God in nature leads to their being “without excuse.”
(1) “they did not honor him as God” We glorify God through recognizing Him for who He is. And following Him in obedience. Given the opportunity to commune, and fellowship in the glory of God they reject him and turn to a god of their own making.
Adam and Eve when they were in the garden (Gen. 3:8) God would come in the cool of the day and spend time with them. But they rejected his ways and believed the lie of Satan and were cast out of the garden.
(2) “or give thanks to him” Giving thanks to God has always been central to worshipping Him. “This sounds as though God’s wrath comes in response to bad manners: forgetting to say, “than you.” But Paul is saying that we are plagiarists. We take what God has made, and pass it off as our own.”
We celebrate Communion as a way of thanking Him for giving His body (bread) as a sacrifice and the shedding of his blood (wine). Tithing is also a way of thanking and recognizing God for what He has provided.
“they became futile in their thinking” Man’s search for meaning and purpose will produce only vain, meaningless conclusions apart from a biblical understanding of God.
“their foolish hearts were darkened” When man rejects the truth, the darkness of spiritual falsehood replaces it.
John 3:19-20 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
When man rationalizes his sin, he proves his utter foolishness by devising and believing his own philosophies about God and himself (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).
“for images” How could intelligent people turn to idolatry? Idolatry begins when people reject what they know about God. Instead of looking to him as the Creator and sustainer of life, they see themselves as the center of the universe.
They soon invent “gods” that are convenient projections of their own selfish plans. Idolaters worship the things God made rather than God himself. Greeks invented gods that had humans sinful flaws. They each had their own weaknesses (jealously, anger, adultery, lust, etc..)
(v. 24) “God gave them up” It has been described as the sinner being in a boat and God lets the boat go to float down stream. But not only does he just let it go, he gives it a good kick and sends it on its way.
Like a judge who hands over a prisoner to the punishment his crime earned, God hands over the sinner to the terrible cycle of ever-increasing sin. This is not because God stops loving man.
It is His desire that the sinner would become aware of his or her situation. His hope is that they will see the waterfall of destruction and cry out for help and forgiveness before they go over the edge.
These people chose to reject God, and God allowed them to do it. God does not usually stop us from making choices against his will. He lets us declare our independence from him, even though he knows in time we will become slaves to our rebellious choices – we will lose our freedom not to sin.
People who have refused to acknowledge God end up with minds that are “disqualified” from being able to understand and acknowledge the will of God.
There is simply no human remedy for the problem of sin. So, man continues to fall deeper and deeper into son. There is a progression that is given here: It all begins with the suppression of the Truth – No glorification of God, No thanks to God – Thinking became futile, hearts darkened – idolatry – sexual impurity – depraved mind – continuation of sin (knowing its wrong) – approving of others who sin.
The only hope for man to avoid the wrath of God is a Savior.
Cletus and Bosco
 Ronald Youngblood, General Editor, New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, Tennessee; Nelson Publishing, 1995) 1322.
 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (La Habra, California; Word Publishing, 2006) 1660.
 John MacArthur, Nothing But the Truth (Wheaton, llinois; Crossway Books, 1999) 58.
 Romans. Life Application Bible Studies. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing. P. 7.
 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible,1693.
 Douglas Moo, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Epistle of Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996) 102.
 Romans. Life Application Bible Studies. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing. P. 7.
 Romans. Life Application Bible Studies. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing. P. 7.
 Ps. 19:1-8; 94:9; Acts 14:15-17; 17:23-28
 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, 1693.
Timothy Keller, Romans 1-7 For You (The Good Book Company, 2018) 27.
 Douglas Moo. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Epistle of Romans.
Michigan: Eedmans Publishing. P. 119.
1 Thessalonians Sermon Series Standing Firm: Foundational Doctrine For New Believers “Standing Firm in Sanctification” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
1 Thessalonians Sermon Series
Standing Firm: Foundational Doctrine For New Believers
Standing Firm in Sanctification
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
Before we jump into today’s text, I want you to turn to Exodus 3:3-5. It says, “And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
What was it that made this ground holy? If we take a microscope and compare it with surrounding soil samples, will they be different? If we had come two days before, the burning bush miracle, would it still be holy? What about later, when Moses had left, would it still be holy ground? The root word for holiness is separation. The ground became holy simply because God separated it as the unique place that he could reveal Himself to Moses.
Wilkerson says, “holiness requires separation from one thing and separation to a different thing. Holiness requires division; until the Lord set that part from the rest of the desert, He couldn’t call it holy.” We are called to be holy, set apart from the rest of the world, to be used for a holy purpose.
Determined to Keep Doing the Right Thing (vv. 1-2)
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
(v. 1) “how you ought to walk and to please God” – and “that you do so more and more.” In this opening introduction Paul says three things, 1) He reminded them of the instructions about Christ that he and the other missionaries had given them while they were there, 2) how they were doing well in following those instructions, 3) and how they must continue to “walk” in those ways more and more (and verse 11).
The Thessalonian church was living under the weight of persecution, critics telling them they are not correct in their teaching, the Jewish community spreading false rumors about them, and they were very new in their faith – it would have been easy just to stop, but Paul tells them to “do so more and more.”
(v. 2) “For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus” – instructions signifies an order passed along a line of soldiers, and it is often used for military order. This order has been passed down through the Lord Jesus.
Determined to Keep My Body Under Control (vv. 3-8)
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
In life there are times when we are not sure what the will of God is (take this job, move to this city, marry this person, take the promotion, etc.), so we pray, and try to apply Biblical precepts. But here, the instructions that Paul gives are not precepts, or suggestions – but for their continued growth as a Christian, the church in Thessalonica must follow “the will of God.” It is summarized in one word, “sanctification,” or “holiness.”
(v. 3) “abstain from sexual immorality” – this command is given against the backdrop of a society where it was very common to have just about any kind of sexual sin, “including prostitution, adultery, or fornication.” “He had been brought up in a world where polygamy, concubinage, homosexuality, pederasty (pedophilia), and promiscuity were accepted as a matter of course . . . Many of the religious cults were frankly sexual in character, . . . and sacramental fornication as part of the worship.”
The gods themselves were given over to their sexual desires and using their power or position to take advantage of humans (becoming swans, etc.) “Pagan religions regarded sexual freedom and promiscuous practice as natural and normal.”
“The general attitude is frequently illustrated by a quotation from Demosthenes’s oration Against Neaera: ‘We keep mistresses for pleasure, concubines for our day-to-day needs, but we have wives to produce legitimate children and serve as trustworthy guardians of our homes.’”
There are a couple of words we need to define. Porneia, “sexual immorality” is a broad term that includes both adultery (sexual intercourse involving a married person and someone other than his or her spouse) and fornication (sexual intercourse involving individuals who are not married).
The biblical context for sexual intercourse is heterosexual marriage. Holy living, with respect to sexuality, involves disciplined fidelity to one’s spouse for those who are married and disciplined abstinence for those who are not.
In our culture sexuality that goes counter to God’s will is seen as normal and should be accepted (just as in the Thessalonian culture). But let the church be clear, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Can a homosexual be a Christian? “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” . . . . “who practice homosexuality” – to become a follower of Christ everyone must repent of their sin (as defined by the Bible), and follow Christ. There is an admission that it is wrong, and seeking Christ and His kingdom, first. Homosexuality is clearly given as a sin in this list.
It does not say that the desire to sin will just go away. As with any sinful desire, everyone must, through the Holy Spirit’s power, fight against it in our lives.
Just because you have the desire doesn’t make it ok to act upon the desire. Also, am I putting myself in a position where I am allowing myself to be tempted by something that I know I am tempted toward? Boy and girl in the backseat of a car., ex.
Why focus on homosexuality when the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage doesn’t include it? Because in our culture today, we don’t have too much confusion over adulterers, greedy, drunkards, etc. these are understood as bad, but to enter into the homosexuality area, then we start talking about hate speech, gender pronouns, gender fluidity, etc.
(v. 4) “each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor” – Holiness is a set-apart life style. Honor has the idea of how you treat other people. The Christian is respectful of the other person, and how they will be impacted by the relationship. The Christian is to act in such a way that others recognize they are different and have their lusts and body under control. He shows how the lost world live in “passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” and contrasts against the Christians who live with holiness and control.
We all know of people who have been impacted by their decision to go outside of God’s plan for us, (one’s spouse, children, marriages, potential future spouses, the congregation, etc.)
When Kimberly and I were in seminary I worked at a Christian High School. The vice principal (my boss), who was a seminary student as well, took a second job at a local convenience store. His daughter was in two of my classes. One Monday after school an emergency faculty meeting was called and we were informed that the vice principal was fired due to infidelity (with a woman at the store). His daughter, who was normally energetic, outspoken, very intelligent – her grades dropped, she kept her head down on her desk most of the time – it was devastating. When we go outside of God’s plan for our sexuality the results are devastating. (v. 6) “that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter”
“For Paul, sexual activity is not just an inconsequential private activity involving consenting adults; on the contrary, it has an impact on both one’s relationship with God (cf. 1 Cor. 6:12-20) and with other people; therefore, it ought to be exercised in a way that is respectful of both.” The Christian takes into account what is best for the long-term well-being of one’s friend/date/partner, rather than what feels good or seems right at the moment.
(v.7) “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” – The word holy means “set apart,” and is this rooted in the very character of God, Leviticus 11:44 “For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” Because we follow the one true God, and his command to us is to be set apart, we then set ourselves apart from the world and how is exists.
“. . . for the Christian to fall short of a life of holiness is him to deny the divine purpose in saving him in the first place.” You were set apart (unto salvation) to be holy.
(v. 8) “Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God” – When we don’t regard these commands from God, we disregard God. The person who takes sexual sin lightly, who sees is as something that does not matter much, is in effect, treating God as of no account. They are disregarding His plan for the family, marriage, relationships, gender – the order He has established.
(v. 8) “who gives his Holy Spirit to you” – God does not just define the standard that his followers are to live; he also provides the power by which one can live. He gives us the Holy Spirit to live in such a way that pleases God. Phillips says, “It is not for nothing that the Spirit God gives us is called the Holy Spirit.”
In our culture today we are right back in the Garden of Eden, standing at the tree and staring at the forbidden fruit with Adam and Eve. (v. 3) says, “3 For this is the will of God” – Man’s choice is and will always be, “who decides what is right and wrong?” Does God set the standard or does mankind decide for himself what is right and wrong? There is much confusion today regarding sexual orientation, gender, marriage – “Paul’s instructions to the Thessalonians offer a biblical antidote to our current confusion.”
Determined to Have a Good Reputation (vv. 9-12)
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
In these verses, Paul is telling the church to “keep a low profile, to give attention to their own affairs, and to stay busy,” and then gives reasons why.
“brotherly love” – “to do this more and more” – the Greek pre-Christian word “brotherly love” (Philadelphia) was always used in reference to siblings in your own family. But Christians called each other brothers and sisters, so a brotherly love is referenced here. They were showing a Christian brotherly love toward others believers throughout Macedonia.
But also concerning “brotherly love” is how we live our lives and how our lives effect the lives of other believers. The church was undergoing persecution in Philippi and here is Thessalonica.
“Some of them were disposed to become idlers – turbulent and meddlesome. In consequence, they created a very unfavorable impression upon outsiders. This affected adversely the standing of the entire church in the community.”
(v. 11) “aspire to live quietly” and “mind your own affairs” both have very similar meanings. Paul is pointing out that what you choose to do in the public arena, could very well affect the church, so whatever you choose to do, it should be influenced by a “brotherly love” because that decision may affect others in the church. In the Thessalonica church doing things in the public, may draw attention not only on that person, but also on Christians as a whole – which during that day may cost them their lives.
We see this same idea in Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
“It is our appointed duty to say something of his behalf if he is being exploited, tyrannized, tempted, or corrupted. Yet it is easy to be a busybody. Moffatt speaks of a man’s busy life becoming “an empty ado” (Psalm 39:6).
“work with your hands, as we instructed you” – Paul has already given them instruction before about working. Here in chapter 4, is an idiomatic expression found several times in the Old Testament,in which the emphasis falls not on “hands” but on “work.” So Paul says that we must be careful in how we live so because it will affect other believers, but also, our actions also affect how the world sees Christians as well.
John R. W. Stott observes, “It is an expression of love to support others who are in need; but it is also an expression of love to support ourselves, so as not to need to be supported by others.”
“So that . . .” (v. 12) “you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” They needed to behave the way Paul has described so that the gospel will not be discredited. Barclay says, “When we Christians prove that our Christianity make us better workmen, truer friends, kinder men and women, then and only then are we really preaching. The important thing is not words but deeds, not oratory but life.”
 Bruce Wilkerson, Personal Holiness in Times of Temptation (Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers, 1998) 24.
 Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1984) 80.
 Michael Holmes, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan, Publishing, 1998) 125.
 Arnold E. Aithart, Beacon Bible Commentary, Volume 9 (Kansas City, Kansas; Beacon Hill Press, 1965) 475.
 Clifton Allen, General Editor, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 11 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1971) 278.
 F. F. Bruce, Word Biblical Commentary, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Waco, Texas; Word Books Publishers, 1982) 87.
 Holmes, 131.
 Holmes, 126.
 Paul views holiness “as a future goal, (a state or condition of holiness, as in 3:13), a past gift (5:23), and a journey (a process leading to a state of holiness, as in 4:3) to which God calls us (4:7). This view of holiness also helps us to understand how Paul can use the term as an overarching one-word summary of God’s will for his people (4:3). Holmes, 130.
 Airhart, 478.
 Morris, 85.
 Airhart, 479.
 George Arthur Buttrick, General Editor, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 11 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1955) 299.
 “The citizens of the ancient city of Shechem had a traditional belief that in the silence of the night there could be heard the fascinating music of the deeply buried streams flowing under the city.” Buttrick, 299.
 Buttrick, 299.
 Paul comes back to “work” in 2 Thess. 3:6-13.
 Duet. 2:7-8; Job 1:10; Ps. 89:17; Jer. 1:16; Isa. 5:12
 Airhart, 481.
Starting Over – John 21:15-19
Scripture Reading: John 21:1-14
Last year for vacation we went to Port St. Joe, Florida, and we went to the beach as much as we could. One of the days I decided to build a sand castle. So I started to big and built layer upon layer of intricate sand sculptures. As my three oldest saw what I was doing, they made their way from swimming in the ocean and began to join me. Kimberly and Isaac (my five year old) had gone walking down the beach looking for seashells and to chase sea gulls.
With the smell of salt in the air, and the sound of crashing waves, the sand castle building project stretched out over 12 feet and we began to have roads to various buildings, there was a mote, and a lake in the middle where we dug down to water. The children took sticks and began to carve the shape of rocks in into sand.
It was a thing of beauty.
About a hundred yards off, Isaac saw our building project. In his five-year-old mind, he suddenly became a giant sea monster who was going to attack the tiny sand people – so he began to run with all his five-year-old strength toward the sand castle. Before we realized it, the sea monster was upon us and within seconds had stomped and knocked over our thing of beauty. All of our work seemed wasted.
What happens when we think about our lives, and things of more importance than a sand castle? What do we do when we like a sea monster have kicked over our marriages, when we have breathed fire all over our testimonies at work, or when we have stomped our ministries? What do we do when sin comes in and has wrecked something we greatly value? Is there any way to recover, does God hate us forever, does He leave us to suffer under the weight of our guilt for the rest of our lives?
Prayer – Jesus, show us a glimpse of your mercy and grace that you freely pour out upon your children. There are people here and within the sound of my voice who have fallen and in shame they now live under a heavy weight. Show us the truth of your Word this morning, and how we should then live – We pray this in Jesus’ name; Amen.
Our story today begins at the trial of Jesus. Jesus had told Peter before that he would betray him three times before the rooster crowed. In John 18:26-27 “One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.” Peter emphatically said in Matthew 26:33, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”
As Peter stood and watched the trial, he heard the crowd yell, “crucify him!”, did he lower his head, did he cover his eyes? He followed him, in the crowd, out to Golgotha where he was crucified. Did he weep? How did Peter deal with this horrible event?
While he went through that horrific day of seeing his Teacher and dear friend tortured, he now also had to bear the crushing weight that he had betrayed Jesus. He had denied being his disciple of the man whom had loved him with an eternal love.
Peter was one of the twelve, one of the apostles, he sat at Jesus’ feet and heard all the sermons, and even went out from him to share the good news to others. He had heard Jesus say on multiple occasions, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
After the resurrection Jesus specifically appeared to the disciples two times in the Upper Room, and in today’s passage on a beach.
Do you have a time in your life where you have betrayed Jesus? Do you have a sin that when it comes to your memory, you drop your head and you feel the weight of regret and your betrayal to the one who has done nothing but pour out His love upon you? Do you put your head in your hands and cry out, “why did I do that?”
God does not want to leave us there – He desires to lift your head and for you walk in honor before Him. Psalm 3:3 “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
God was not going to leave Peter with this crushing weight of guilt. God does not want to leave you where you are; He wants to take the weight away. Jesus went to this beach to talk with Peter. God has come to you this morning and wants you to hear His Word.
Life for Peter was more than living in the guilt of the past, Jesus wanted to use him greatly now. This morning, in spite of all that we have done, God still desires to have a restored relationship with all of us, and to use us for His kingdom work. Would you like to just start over? How do we start over?
Remember Jesus Has Called You (v. 15)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
Peter was the leader of the disciples. He was the one who spoke on their behalf most of the time, and where he went the rest followed. Even, in this story he had said, “I’m going fishing,” and the rest followed.
Now, he has gone back to what he was doing before he ever met Jesus. Peter was called by God to preach and share the gospel – but now he has returned to what he knew before Christ. Fishing for Peter didn’t require spiritual courage, supernatural empowering, or steps of faith.
Matthew 4:18 “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” They were fishermen before Jesus called them to be disciples, so they go back to their previous life.
Jesus gave them a glimpse of how their lives could truly and genuinely make a difference in the world – They even had a season where Jesus had to guide them through this reality and their own sinful natures. Matthew 20:20-21 “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him [Jesus] with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Peter had walked on water, and seen the transfigured Christ.
When Christians feel that they have betrayed Jesus, and are feeling crushed with guilt, they withdraw to what they knew before Christ. They return to their default setting. You naturally have a talent, skill set, gifting, interests, etc. that is built into your personality.
Satan’s ploy is to get believers out of service, out of worship, out of church, get them away from what they were created to do. He lies to them and persuades them that God really does not love them, or can use them anymore. He desires to pull them away from courage, empowering, or faith – he lies and says, “that’s just not your thing.”
When we live in this place, there is no peace. God loves us enough to not leave us there. So Jesus comes to Peterto take off this weight of guilt and to get him back on track.
When Jesus says, “do you love me more than these?” Who or what are “these?” Why the miracle of catching so many fish? If Jesus could just speak and let them know that it was Him. I believe that Jesus allowed them to catch a great number of fish, so that he can turn to them as say, “these (fish).”
The large number of fish would have been worth a lot of money for the fishermen. So, Peter had returned to working as a fisherman, with a potentially lucrative amount of catch – and now a return to a calling by the resurrected Christ to go back to leading as an apostle.
He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” – Peter was not called by Jesus to be his disciple so that he could fish, he was to love Jesus more than anything else and do what Peter was created before the foundation of the world to do – “feed Jesus’ lambs” – to preach the gospel, “tend Jesus’ sheep” – take care of the people. Peter had a calling from the Lord, a very special task or ministry to accomplish – and so do you.
Remember that Jesus Knows Everything (vv. 16-17)
16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Why does Jesus ask Peter the question three times? It mirrors Peter’s three times of denial. Peter is grieved because Jesus keeps asking him “do you love me?” So Peter acknowledges that Jesus knows everything. Peter knows in his mind, and Jesus moves that knowledge to his heart by getting him to repeat it again and again.
Jesus knows everything. Jesus Christ is sovereign and omnipotent and in that he knows that we will deny him. He knows that we will fall into temptation, and sin.
John 13:36-38 “Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”
Jesus knows what we are capable of, the greatness of our sin and depravity. He can see into the future and knows all our mistakes, our stubborn times of rebellions, and denying him with our actions– and he says, “but you will follow afterward.”
Jesus knows everything. Jesus Christ is sovereign and omnipotent and in that he knows that we will serve him. That there will be moments when we shine and give the Father and the Son glory with our actions.
He sees into the future and knows all the time when we get it right, our obedient times of submission, and proclaiming him to the nations – and he says, “Feed my sheep” Do what I created you to do. Despite our stumbling or triumphs His love for us never wavers, it never changes. He also knows that we love Him.
Remember that Jesus Promises that You Will Finish Well (vv. 18-19)
18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)
Jesus had called him to be a disciple, had predicted that he would deny him, had told him that he would follow once more, and now he is telling him that he will die for Him. “When you are old . . .” Wherever he would fall along the way, in all the ways he would sin over the years, when it was all said and done – he would finish well.
This is not sentimentality, or some false way of trying to encourage Peter, Jesus says, “truly, truly . . .” At the end of his days on earth, Peter would glorify God. It is so encouraging to know that when we fail, Christ will come after us, and has promised that He is still at work in our lives.
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Then Jesus says to Peter, “And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
In all three of the times where Jesus asks Peter, “do you love me” the question is preceded by, “Simon, Son of John” in verse 15 – there are only two places where Peter is called “Simon, Son of John” here, and when Jesus originally called him to be a disciple.
Matthew 4:18 “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
John 1:40-42 “One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus9 was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).”
By calling him “Simon, Son of John” and by saying to him “Follow me” Jesus is taking Peter back three and half years to when they first met, to the beginning. Peter, Let’s start over.
I remember the first time I met Jesus. I was a nine years old child who was afraid of dying. I remember telling my mother, “the Mormons believe this, and the Buddhists believe this – what is the truth?” “If someone dies, where do they go? Is heaven real?” I was afraid.
At VBS that summer the preacher came and shared the gospel to our class and asked if anyone wanted to talk more about salvation and eternal life to step into a side room. I put my craft down, pushed my chair back, and walked into the room. After, that day I have never feared death. I can tell you what decorations hung on the wall, what the room smelled like, who sat next to me, what I wrote inside the little paper box I made.
Do you remember when you first met Jesus? Do you remember the excitement and passion? Do you remember when you said things like, “Jesus, I will die for you!” “I will do anything you ask, I will go anywhere you say!” Do you remember the joy of your salvation?
But time passes, years go by, life happens, and perhaps today Jesus desires to take you back to that day. Years of guilt and feelings of failure have caused you to drift away from your calling. This morning, hear the truth of God’s Word, and lay your weight at the foot of the cross. Jesus died, so that you can be set free.
Isaac, after the sun was beginning to hide behind the horizon, as we sat on the beach, asked “can we build a sand castle?” So there among the piles of sand that he had destroyed, we began to rebuild castles, as a family.
Jesus is waiting for you this morning to say, “Jesus I want to start again, I want to rebuild.” He has told us in His word the answer will always be, “yes my precious child, let’s rebuild.” Lay the weight of guilt at the foot of the cross, and say to Jesus, “I want to start over.” Do it today, do it right now. You don’t have to live with the weight any longer.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 Matthew 10:33
 Clifton Allen, General Ed., The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 9, Luke-John (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1970) 374.
Accountability and Missions
As I have experienced various cultures and have engaged them with a desire to share the gospel, I have come to realize that most things in life are not â€œblack and white.â€ What should be easy is complicated and convoluted by sin and the fall of man. The pastors that we seek to partner with are not perfect and have flaws, and the churches we want to support are filled with sinful and corrupt people.Â Even various personalities and the quirks of missionaries create communication and planning issues. It is a miracle that the gospel has spread to the vast places and tribal regions that it has so far.
Yet in spite of all of our flaws, sinful and corrupt natures, God still desires to use His people to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. Our own sin becomes hidden from our sight and even the culture that we live in becomes blind to it. So it is through immersion in another culture that you can easily see their sin, flaws, and areas that need improvement. But they also see yours, and if you are blessed you will be able to identify it yourself and be able to change it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We must enter into missions with this understanding that we are not perfect, the people we partner with are not perfect, and surly those that have not yet hard the gospel are not perfect. We encounter Christians around the globe that are on a journey just like we are, yet are flawed just as we are flawed. With the greater good balanced with the fall of man in mind, we seek to be wise in the use of our resources, and through prayer we seek the face of God and His direction as to what we should do and where.
Therefore, when we partner with a ministry in various parts of the world, and even in our own â€œvillage,â€ we must have accountability. This does not mean that we do not trust men and women of God, but that we mutually understand that both parties are redeemed yet sinful. We do them a loving service so that they are less likely to be tempted to misuse resources and even have to plan out how and when it will be spent. There must be an accounting of monies spent, and how it is to be used. With communication and accountability trust will be developed.
Also with accountability people are more likely to support the need. If a well is needed at an orphanage, monies can be given for that purpose, but along the way there should communication as to the need, expected cost, who will dig the well, and evidence of completed work. When this chain of events happens, there is a much higher likelihood that future projects can the planned (like a dormitory expansion, walls around the compound, etc.) However, if this does not happen then we are left with innocuous questions like, â€œwas the well even dug?â€ â€œWas the money used for something else?â€ â€œis the ministry ok?â€
But because there is no communication or â€œshadyâ€ decisions are discovered then our minds may even drift toward accusative questions like, â€œwas the money used for the administratorâ€™s personal gain?â€Â When missional relationships get to this point, they often do not last. If they do, it is with an attitude of desiring to help children, orphans, lepers, etc., at the expense of dealing with a potentially corrupt system and ministry is greatly restricted.Â If we could get both parties to understand that because we ask for accountability (and that this does not mean that we question their integrity) it is for the purpose of being able to do greater ministry together. When we hold each other accountable, gently and lovingly correct each other, then various cultures can help the other grow in grace and the kingdom can be expanded.
Proverbs 27:17 â€œIron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.â€
There may be a time when communication is so broken, schemes have simply gone too far, and trust and accountability has degraded to the point that relationships must be severed. When this happens, it is sad because the ones who suffer most are those who need Christâ€™s love most (and typically they are children).