Why People Reject Jesus
Matthew Lesson #081
June 14, 2015
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to come together to study Your Word, to reflect upon who You are and what You provided for us. We’re thankful for the testimony, the evidence that James just gave and the way You worked in his life and made the gospel clear to him, and his conviction of the truth of Your Word. We see that in each one of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ that You have made this so clear, so evident because it is the truth. It fits reality because it is reality, because you define reality.
Now Father, as we study Your Word this morning we pray that You will challenge us with what we study and that we may see the truths of Your Word reflect in our own lives.
We pray in Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles to Matthew 13, and we’re going to begin in Matthew 13:53.
Now what we’ve seen so far as we get into this, is that people and the religious leadership in Israel had come to a pinnacle in their opposition to Jesus and their rejection of His claims to be the Messiah, and His offer of the Kingdom.
We’re going to shift gears as we go into the next section starting in verse 53. We’re going to see this calcify; this hardens. This opposition rejection of Jesus hardens through the subsequent events down though about Chapter 19, the very beginning of Chapter 19.
So we’re going to be looking at this morning as Jesus goes to His hometown crowd, and they reject Him. There’s a little bit about why people reject Jesus as the Messiah.
Now what we’ve seen, just as overview in the presentation of the life of Jesus, is there’s an initial phase for about the first half hour or so, about the first half of the story, where He offers the kingdom. He’s the King; He’s offering the kingdom. The message of John the Baptist is repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, that’s the message that Jesus is proclaiming.
That’s the message He sends His disciples out with, and initially there’s a great reception of the message. I mean, Jesus is also, for some people, giving away a free lunch. He’s got a great welfare program. He takes 5,000 people out and feeds 5,000 men and their wives and their children, so there’s a free lunch. He’s healing people. This is a great ticket, but then people begin to realize that that was somewhat limited. He’s not doing that for everybody.
But with the works of Jesus comes a message. And that message is that these works are simply done in order to confirm who He is, and there is an offer of the kingdom, and the people were to accept it. They were then to have lives that reflected their acceptance of Him. Now having those kinds of lives wasn’t the condition for salvation, but it should follow salvation that we live in obedience to Him.
So once things became clear, they understood what He was saying in the Sermon on the Mount and other things; then there became an increasing reaction and rejection culminating in what we saw in Matthew 12, when the Pharisees say, “You really aren’t doing this in Your own power, this is in the power of Satan,” basically saying Jesus is an embracery of Satan.
This was identified as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “You blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, and this is an unforgivable sin.”
Everything shifts in Matthew 13. Jesus begins to go private. He’s training The Twelve. He’s teaching. He’s preparing them for what will come next because with the offer of the kingdom and its rejection, the kingdom is being postponed.
Something new is going to come in this intervening period. We studied in the last couple of lessons in Matthew 13 with the parables about the mysteries of the kingdom, that is previously unrevealed truth about the kingdom. Now it’s going to be postponed. There’s going to be an intervening period, and it’s going to be characterized by these things.
So that brings us up to where we are right now. In those parables, Jesus describes how in this intervening period there are going to be some who respond to the gospel. They’ll respond in different ways; some will respond initially and fall away; some might grow a little bit, then they fall away; others will grow and produce fruit, but there’s going to be those who completely reject it, and they do not accept the message at all. That theme of rejection covers these next several chapters.
Now the first instance of this rejection comes from Jesus’ hometown. In Matthew 13:53 we read:
“Now it came to pass, when Jesus have finished these parables that He departed from there.”
Now where was “there?” “There” was in Capernaum.
What we see here in this map is the Sea of Galilee, and on the northwest shore there was a large commercial fishing village called Capernaum. This is where Jesus lived, where Peter lived.
They’re pretty sure they’ve identified Peter’s house due to graffiti that goes back to the early part of the second century indicating that Christians, even in the late first century, were making pilgrimages to this location— that this is where there was still a house-church meeting that met at the location that originally was Peter’s home.
Then in the early part of Jesus’ ministry when He is on His first trip around Galilee, He went to His hometown of Nazareth. He goes to His hometown of Nazareth, and He preaches in the synagogue there.
We’ll see that that’s at the beginning, and now we see at this point, sort of like bookends, He goes back to that same synagogue where He grew up, and He’s going to speak to them.
Now what has happened is that when He was in Capernaum, as we looked back over the last couple of chapters, at the end of Matthew 12, He’s in a house. He’s had this confrontation with the Pharisees, and they’ve accused Him of performing His miracles in the power of Beelzebub. He shuts that down, leaves, goes out of the city there down by the water and sat in a boat. A big crowd gathers, and He taught them from the boat seated in a position of a rabbi instructing His followers.
Then in Matthew 13:36 as He’s been teaching in parables, He sends the multitude away, and He goes back into the house where His disciples come around Him, and they say, “Okay, You’ve got to explain this to us because we don’t get the parable.”
So He then began to explain the first two parables to them, and then He went on and gave subsequent parables.
Then He leaves that house, and that’s where we are in verse 53, “…it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there,” and He goes to His own country. This is his hometown. He goes to Nazareth, which wasn’t very large. It was a small town. It might have had a population as large as 150 or 200 people. It’s very small. It has a synagogue.
In a town that size, it’s a lot like a small church. Everybody knows everybody; and everybody knows everybody’s business; and everybody’s in everybody’s business. So everybody there would know Jesus from the time He was an infant. This is exactly what we see.
He stands up and He teaches in the synagogue, and they’re astonished! The word there means they’re just amazed at the authority, at the clarity of His communication. He’s not like the rabbis who are just quoting other rabbis. He’s not quoting from the traditions of the fathers, the other rabbis. The earlier forms of the Mishnah hadn’t been fully put together yet. He’s not quoting from these things.
He’s just going to the Word of God itself. He’s going to the passages in the Old Testament, and He’s just explaining in everyday language what these things mean. And it makes tremendous sense. They’re just astonished at how He teaches. He teaches with clarity. He teaches with authority as if He actually knows the Author of the Scripture. It’s evident within the way He communicates that He knows God, that He has an intimate relationship with God, and so they are just astonished.
Matthew summarizes their response by his quote: they said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?” Actually the word “Man” I’ve italicized here because in most translations, they don’t say that; “Where did this One, where did He, where does this Guy get this?” And notice what they say, how they phrased the question. They say, “Where did this guy, where did this guy get this wisdom and these mighty works?”
They recognized that what He is saying IS wisdom! They’re not saying, “This guy’s a fool! That doesn’t make any sense!” They recognize that what He is saying is wise. They don’t question the validity of His miracles. They say He’s also doing these mighty works.
Now He hasn’t, as we know from parallel passages, He hasn’t done very many, hardly any miracles in Nazareth. But He’s been, now by the time of Matthew 13:53, He’s made a couple of cycles through Galilee, probably three preaching tours through Galilee, and there have been hundreds, thousands that have come out to hear Him. He’s performed many public miracles, probably a number.
The people in Nazareth have seen Him. They are eye witnesses of the miracles, so they’re not questioning the validity of those miracles. But they don’t want to believe it. They don’t want to accept Him.
Now I want you to hold your place there, and I want you to turn to the fourth chapter of Luke. Luke’s not hard to find. Matthew’s the first gospel. Luke comes later; Matthew, Mark, and then Luke. In Luke 4, we have Jesus’ first visit to His hometown and to this synagogue. There’s a lot that I could say about this in Luke 4, but we’ll just hit a couple of high points.
Verse 16, we read, “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah.”
That was the parashah for the day; that was the reading. All the synagogues have a schedule. Any synagogue you go into, on any given Shabbat is reading and teaching on the same portion of Scripture, which is called “parashah.”
He is reading from Isaiah 61:1–2, and He stops at the middle of the second verse because the first verse and half the second verse really talk about the first coming of the Messiah, what it’s going to be characterized by, and when you get to the second half of Isaiah 61:2, you’re talking about what happens when the Messiah comes a second time. So He just stops. Then He says, “This is fulfilled before your eyes today before your hearing today,” verse 21.
So look at the response, verse 22 “And bore witness to Him and marveled.” These people are full of astonishment at Jesus, but they’re not believing in Him. They marveled at what He said, how He said it, and they say basically the same thing, “This is Joseph’s kid, isn’t it? We saw Him grow up. My kid played in Little League with Him. When Joseph came to fix our olive press, Jesus came along as an apprentice and helped out. We’ve seen Him and there wasn’t anything special about Him.”
Nothing stood out. He was just like any other kid, except that maybe somebody was thinking, “You know, He never got a spanking. He never smart mouthed me. He never back talked.” Maybe a few people thought about that, but they just thought He was a kid like every other kid, and that really says a lot because what the Scriptures teach us is that Jesus came like an ordinary human being.
There wasn’t anything about the way He looked. This is one of the problems you get in some of the apocryphal gospels about Jesus, where He’s healing the broken wing of a bird, or He’s performing some little secret miracle somewhere. That kind of thing never happened.
He is just growing up as a human being dealing with life as a human being. He’s fully God, but He enters into human history and he becomes a human being, so they didn’t see any difference.
Anyway Jesus goes on and says in verse 25—this is what I wanted to point out here, He says, “I truly tell you many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout the land.”
Now why is He saying that? Because He’s pointing out that the gospel in the past, in terms of the Old Testament gospel, came to Israel through a prophet Elijah, but He’s making a comparison between the negative volition of the folks in Nazareth at His time, and He’s comparing that with the negative volition that the folks in the Northern Kingdom of Israel had at the time of Elijah.
They didn’t want to respond to God. So God had sent prophets, and He had revealed truth to the Northern Kingdom, and they rejected it, rejected, rejected. God said, “Okay. It’s time to institute some of the discipline that I have promised I would in Leviticus 26, and we’re going to have a drought.”
Elijah announced the drought, and then Elijah had to go into hiding because King Ahab wanted to kill him. He was the #1 public enemy, and he wanted him dead because he was blaming all the drought and misery, economic collapse, everything on Elijah.
So Elijah finds a place to hide. God takes him first to the Kerith Brook where he’s taken care of by a raven; and then takes him to the widow of Zarephath. Zarephath was in the territory of Phoenicia and Sidon. It was gentile territory.
See what’s happening when we come to the Matthew passage is Jesus has already announced it because Israel has rejected Him; He’s going to be going to the gentiles. That’s why I wanted to go to this.
This is a pattern even in the Old Testament: that when Israel rejected God and went into idolatry, went into apostasy, what happened? God blessed the gentiles. God promised and prophesied in the Old Testament that that would happen again. The gospel and God’s blessing would go to the gentiles. So this is what’s described in this episode in Luke 4:25–26.
Then He takes a second episode in verse 27 and said there were many lepers in Israel at the time of Elisha the prophet—Elisha was Elijah’s successor—but no leper in Israel was cleansed, only Naaman the Syrian, a gentile, was cleansed.
Because of negative volition, when people decide, “I really don’t want to know about God. I really don’t want to respond to the gospel. I really don’t want to believe Jesus died on the Cross for my sins,” what happens is God’s going to take the gospel somewhere else. He’s not going to force anybody. And that’s why again and again when Jesus is teaching, he says let those who have ears hear, as if you really want to know the truth, then listen!
But most people who say they’re interested in the truth, really aren’t interested in the truth. Have you ever noticed that? That you sit down with someone and say, “Let’s really try to find the truth about something.” What they really mean is that we’re going to find the truth that “I’m comfortable with.” They don’t really want to find objective truth that “No matter what happens, we’re going to find out what is actually true.”
So they’ve already set up their minds, and they have rejected Him, and this is seen in the last verse of this section in Matthew13:58, that Jesus did not do many mighty works there—that is in Nazareth because of their unbelief.
It wasn’t that He couldn’t, wasn’t that there was some sort of metaphysical connection. It’s that they don’t want to listen. They don’t want to believe Me, so I’m not going to bless them. I’m not going to give them any miracles because they’re not going to respond anyway. They want the right thing, but they want it for the wrong reasons, and I set the agenda. They don’t set the agenda, and so He didn’t do very many miracles there.
But their response was based on basically related to the fact that there wasn’t anything special about Jesus. They said, “Who is this guy? We know His dad. It was Joseph. Wasn’t He the carpenter’s son? And His mother was Mary. We know her. Look at His brothers, James, Joses, Simon and Judas.” Now they were not believers at this time. They’re just looking at the family. “And we knew His sisters.”
Now these are real brothers and sisters, not like the Roman Catholic Church that says, “Well, they were cousins or relatives, lived down the street, whatever,” because they believe in this thing called “the perpetual virginity of Mary,” which means she was still a virgin even after she gave birth to Jesus, and yet the Bible is very clear that He had brothers related to His humanity. He was just the son of Mary, but they are the sons and daughters of Mary and Joseph. So He had actual brothers and sisters.
I’ve always said that it must have been really tough to be a kid in that home. It’s bad enough… I’m an only child. I don’t have any siblings, so I just know this because other people will tell me this—but when you’re a kid growing up, and you have older brothers and sisters, you often hear your parents say, “Why can’t you be like your older brother or sister?”
Usually you know what an idiot your older brother or sister is, and they are pulling the wool over your parents’ eyes, but Jesus wasn’t that way. Jesus really was perfect. So that makes it infinitely worse because you know you can’t even be like Him. So your mother is going, “Why can’t you be like Jesus,” and you’re thinking, “Ugh, He’s just perfect.”
Anyway, so they say, “Where did this One get all these things? Who is this guy?”
Now what the Scripture tells us is He’s the God-Man. He’s Eternal God. And He has to be Eternal God. We’ll look at a couple of reasons for that, but He had to become a true man because only a human being could die for human beings. Only a human being could pay the penalty for sin. This is what Scripture says.
A human being, someone who is fully human, had to pay the penalty for our sins. This is what is called “the doctrine of the hypostatic union,” so we’ve gone through that a lot, and we’re a little short on time, so I’m just going to hit on a couple of high points.
Hebrews 2:17 tells us that “therefore in all things He”, that is Jesus, “had to be made like His brethren.” He had to be like us in every single area. He had to be true humanity because God couldn’t die for us. A human being had to die in our place as our substitute in order for the sin penalty to be paid for.
This is clearly indicated from prophesies in the Old Testament. Two specific ones:
Isaiah 7:14, it says a sign is given. “Behold the virgin shall conceive.” Now there is debate over the Hebrew word, almah, there, but in most places where it’s used in the Scripture, it refers to a young woman of marriageable age. It doesn’t necessarily mean a virgin, but it does mean a young woman of marriageable age. But in most contexts, it indicates a young girl of marriageable age who had not had sexual intercourse. It was a virgin. The core isn’t that, but that’s usually how it is used in Scripture.
There’s another word, betulah, but she was an older woman in some contexts. So almah is the best word. The rabbis, who 200 years before Jesus, translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, understood that’s what this is talking about because when they translated this verse from Hebrew into Greek, they chose the Greek word, PARTHENOS, and that means a virgin. Very clearly, it is a technical word for PARTHENOS, and so they translated it that way. They clearly understood.
Besides, there’s nothing significant. This is a sign. This is supposed to be big neon flashing lights that something unique has happened here. But let me tell you, it’s not unique for a young girl of marriageable age to get pregnant. We probably all know a least one without benefit of marriage. That’s not a sign. There’s nothing miraculous about that; happens every day. But this is clearly a sign. A virgin is going to conceive and give birth to a son.
But that son is going to be named Emanuel, God with us. So He’s born. He has true humanity, but He is also the incarnation of God.
Isaiah 9:6–7 says the same thing. “…a child is born.” A human birth; He’s a human being. “Unto to us a Son is given.”
Now this was written by the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, around 700 BC. Tthis is a long time before Jesus comes on the scene—700 years before Jesus comes on the scene. In our time frame, this would be before Columbus discovered America. That long ago. Precise prediction.
And that He’s called Mighty God, and He’s called Father of Eternity. So this is a human born that’s also God, and clearly seen from the Old Testament.
Philippians 2 states it this way: that He was “in the form of God,” verse 6, but He “didn’t consider it robbery” or something to grab hold of to be equal to God.
“The form of God” means that He had the essence of God. He was fully God, but He “made himself of no reputation taking on the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” He took on humanity—added humanity to His person. Entered into human history, and “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”
Now in early church history, they had to wrestle with this. Who was Jesus? That’s a big question for people. Who was Jesus? One of the early church’s formulation was that the Bible is very clear: Jesus is fully God, and He’s also fully man. But how do you put that together? That’s an analytical question that really wasn’t asked or started to be asked until the late third century.
Who was Jesus? How do you put this together?
In the early church there was a heresy called “Arianism.” In Arianism, they believed that Jesus was a creature that God created eons ago in eternity past, but He was still a Creator. So you have eternity past; God always exists; He’s eternal; but at some time in eternity past, He created Christ. Then Christ later came to the earth, and later there were other creatures that were created, but Christ was the first. But He’s a creature.
In the early church, this caused such a division because there was this older deacon by the name of Arias who went singing little contemporary choruses saying that there was a time when Christ was not—which means He’s a creature. Everybody liked these little ditties, so everybody sang these little contemporary Christian choruses, and everybody got led down the primrose path to heresy.
It was splitting the empire. Constantine had just become the emperor, and he didn’t want his empire all split apart, so he called for all the bishops to come to a little town outside of modern Istanbul called, “Lycia.” and said, “Okay, we’re going to hash this out.”
You had 118 bishops show up, and three of them understood the issues; and they were the heretics. Three of them understood the issues, and they were orthodox. Nobody else had a clue. But when it was all over with, and they formulated the statement, 116 of the 118 all said “this is right.” What they said is—Jesus is not a creature. He is true God of true God. He’s eternal. He has all the attributes of God. He is fully God.
But that didn’t solve all the questions because when you say, “What was Jesus before He came, you have to answer the question “What was Jesus when He came?” And that’s the issue of the hypostatic union. There were three different views that popped up as people tried to put this together.
The first was a guy named Apollinaris. Apollinaris came along and said, “Well, in terms of human beings, we have three parts: we have a human body, we have a human soul, and we have a human spirit. So Jesus is going to be something like that, but let’s come up with this idea: He’s got a human body, but He’s the logos. He’s got a divine soul, but then He has a human spirit, which means He’s not really truly man because He doesn’t have a human soul. But He’s not really fully God. He’s kind of in between.”
So the whole issue with apollinarianism didn’t work, and they pushed the button that went “RRRR,” if that’s your final answer, you lost. You’re out of here.
Then the next guy to come along and to try to win the contest was Nestorius. Nestorius said, “Okay, here’s the deal: Jesus has a divine nature, and He has a human nature. He’s a divine person and a human person. He’s got two natures and two persons, and they don’t mix at all. There’s no unity. He’s just like He has multiple personality syndrome.” And the buzzer came “RRRR,” that’s your final answer, you’re out of here.
Third guy to take a shot at it was a guy named Eutychus, and he said, “OK, if He’s not two natures and two persons, then we’ll just put Him in the Mixmaster and blend up His deity and His humanity, and it’s going to be completely mixed together.” So they’re blended. So He’s not fully God and He’s not fully man. He’s just this third something. Once again he got the buzzer “RRRR” you’re out of here. That’s not the answer.
When they came to understand who Jesus was, they understood that He was fully God and fully man united together as one Person. He had a human nature. He had a divine nature, but He was one Person united together in the Person of Jesus Christ.
That was solved at a council called, Chalcedon in AD 451.
This is who Jesus is. But people want to reject Jesus for a lot of different reasons. I just want to briefly give you six reasons why people reject Jesus:
1. First of all they reject Jesus because He doesn’t fit their preconceptions. This is a problem we saw back in Matthew 11 when Jesus is challenging and confronting the Jews. He said, “You played a tune, and you want to have a marriage, a wedding ceremony, but we didn’t want to dance to that tune.” He’s talking about Himself and John the Baptist. “So then you said, ‘Well, let’s play a funeral dirge,’ and so they played a funeral dirge, and we didn’t want to play a funeral dirge, so we were out.” We didn’t figure pre-conceived notions.
“You expected a political Messiah. That’s not what you’re getting, so you rejected us.” It was pre-conceived notions.
That’s the same thing happening in Nazareth. They had a pre-conceived idea of what the Messiah would be, and that’s what a lot of people think. They say, “OK, I have an idea of what God should be like, and I have an idea of what—if we’re going to need a Savior—what He should be like, but the Bible doesn’t fit that, so I’m going to reject it.” Because they know it all, right? They’re omniscient, so they know what it should be.
So that’s one reason why a lot of people reject Jesus.
Scripture says that Jesus had a greater witness than John the Baptist, and that His works demonstrated that. Yet despite all of His miracles, the Jews still wanted to have a sign. That’s what they kept saying. They wanted to have a sign, and this has always been a problem. Even Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 says the Jews seek for a sign, but the Greeks look for wisdom.
Jesus is saying, “I’m God. I’m not dancing to your tune. I will give you enough evidence to prove I’m Who I am, but I’m not going to do every little crazy thing that you want Me to do just because you ultimately just want to be like Gideon—you want to find something that you think I can’t do, so that you can reject it.”
2. Second reason people reject Christ is they don’t like the exclusivity of Christianity. They don’t like Christians who say there’s only one way to God. But Christians didn’t say that. God said that. See, they’re just as exclusive. They’re going to say every way goes to God. So let’s say there are 100 ways. All roads lead to God; Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Zoroastrianism—everything leads to God.
Now if they hold that position, then essentially what they’re saying is that that’s really what Christianity says, which means they’ve distorted Christianity. But we have to be honest. Christianity does say there’s only one way, and that’s Jesus. He died on the Cross. Jesus said, “I’m the way,” THE way, not A way, “I am THE way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except by Me.” That’s pretty exclusive.
Noah said the same thing. He said there’s only one way to survive the flood, and that’s to go through the one door on the ark. The Bible’s always exclusive.
The people also come along, and they say, “Well, Okay, if you’re going to be that way, Christian, then you can’t hold to your Christianity. If every way leads to God, and you’re saying there’s only one way that leads to God which is Jesus, then we’re going to reject you.” Isn’t that being exclusive?
You are excluding Christians. So ultimately the people who say, “I don’t like Christianity because it’s exclusive or in fact being exclusive,” they’re excluding Christianity. That’s what’s called the blindness of arrogance, and the irrationality of arrogance. So people who reject Christ because they’re rejecting the exclusivity of Christians really have another problem.
3. And that’s really the third reason why people reject Jesus. They don’t believe in Jesus because they just don’t want to. They just don’t want to.
This is what Jesus said to his audience in John 5:40, He says, “You’re not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” You’re not willing! You just don’t want it!
You’ve made your decision for whatever reason, and there are a lot of reasons other than the six I’m talking about. People just don’t want to trust in Christ.
4. The fourth common reason is that some people don’t want to because they don’t want to admit they’re a sinner and in need of salvation. That’s just called arrogance. It’s called the failure to understand sin.
We’re not sinners because we sin. The Bible says we’re sinners because we’re born that way. We sin because we’re sinners.
Adam’s the one who sinned. We’re condemned because of Adam’s sin, and that corrupted him. So everything that he produced biologically is corrupted. That DNA from Adam goes through everybody, and we’re just all corrupted. So it’s no big deal to say you’re a sinner because everybody is.
Sin is anything that violates the standard of God, whether it’s thought, word, or something we say.
They don’t want to admit they’re a sinner, and some people are just downright convicted if they’re in the presence of a sinner.
I read a story, short version—Billy Graham was playing golf with Nixon. So they had to have a couple of other players, so they got a couple of pros in there, and one of the pros just came back griping, complaining, angry, throwing his clubs in the club house.
And somebody said, “What’s the problem?” “I had to play golf with Billy Graham today.” He said, “I can’t stand all that religion!” The guy says, “What did he say?” “Nothing.” “What do you mean, nothing?”
“He said nothing! He didn’t have to. I know what he stands for! And that made me mad all the day long, and I played a lousy game.”
That’s a reality. Just because you and I exist as Christians, and people know that we believe that the Bible is true, means they hate us—because they’re convicted. They don’t know what to do with the guilt and their own knowledge of their own sin.
But Scripture says we’re ALL sinners, ALL have fallen short of the glory of God, but that’s okay because Jesus paid the penalty. Through faith alone in Him, you don’t have to do anything. He cleanses us from sin, and we have eternal life.
5. Fifth reason is because people have been deceived by false teaching. Whether it’s philosophy, whether it’s religion, whether it’s their own screwed up ideas, people are deceived, and ultimately that’s a reflection of the deception of Satan.
2 Corinthians 4:4, “Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, and they don’t believe.”
That’s it. Satan blinds us by giving us all these religions and philosophies and ideas, and they don’t work. A lot of times people have to work through that. That’s what James talked about.
I remember those days when he and Laura would go out on a date. That date consisted of sitting down on the front of a computer, pulling up the website for Institute for Creation Research, and reading through their answers to these questions:
Like what about dinosaurs, and what about the kangaroos, and how did the Grand Canyon get formed? That’s what they would talk about.
Eventually I would get questions like, “Well, James said this. I didn’t know what the answer was. I couldn’t find it. What do you say?” We went through those things, but people need to know answers! That’s not wrong with giving them answers. I think somewhere in the Bible doesn’t it say we need to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us? 1 Peter 3:15; something like that.
6. Okay, last reason. People, some people don’t trust Christ because they’re afraid of what other people will think about them. You know, that’s really a poor reason to do or not do anything—is that you’re worried about what other people say, but this happens in the Bible.
Look at this in John 12. Now this is talking about those who are believers, but it’s true for unbelievers. “Nevertheless,” we’re told in John 12:42, “many among the rulers…” many of the Pharisees believed in Jesus. So that means they were saved.
But because of the Pharisees, because of family, because social pressure, because of what some friends might think about them, because of what some people who they thought were intelligent would think about them, they didn’t confess Him.
In other words, they didn’t make it publicly known. They were just what somebody used to call a “secret service Christian”. Only God knew for sure. They were believers, but they didn’t want anybody else to know it. They’re still believers. They’re still going to Heaven.
When we share the gospel with people, I find that at times especially if you talk to them for a while… It took James, I think, about a year. We had Jim Speedy who was here in this congregation for many years. He did the same thing.
One day all of a sudden, he’s talking like he’s a Christian, and James was the same way. “Wait a minute, what’s going on?” “Well, I trusted Christ, but I really didn’t want you to know because I wanted to make sure it was true.”
I’ve heard that story many, many times. But over the course of time, a good question to ask some people is, “What’s keeping you from trusting in Jesus? Why do you reject Him? And let’s talk about those answers.”
Because a lot of times people have heard things, wrong things, screwy things. They’ve listened to the Discovery Channel, the History Channel way too much, and they’ve heard all this, and they just want answers. They don’t want to think that if I become a Christian, I’m going to put my brain in neutral, and I’m going to become just a robot. That’s not true.
The most intelligent, articulate, scholarly, people I had as professors in seminary—they put the PhDs I had in undergraduate work to shame—they were more organized, they had two and some cases three PhDs, not only from Dallas Seminary, but Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, all kinds of places. They were intelligent men; well-educated men. And they had answers.
We have to study the facts. Sometimes that takes a while because when people are smart, they want to know the answers. We are to give an answer for the hope that’s within us.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things this morning, to be reminded of Your goodness to us in providing us salvation, something we can’t do. But you sent us a Savior. You had a plan. It took almost 4,000 years to prepare the human race for that plan and to provide the Savior that You prophesized about and promised about for those 4,000 years.
He appeared, and He fulfilled all the prophesies related to salvation and to the Messianic work of salvation. And He fulfilled all those types, all those pictures, all those images, and paid the penalty for our sin. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Father, we pray that if there’s anyone listening today who’s never trusted Christ as Savior, who is not sure about their eternal destiny, not confident about where they’re going, that they would recognize from what the Bible says that there’s only one sure and certain answer, and that is Jesus Christ. He provides life, He provides hope, He provides blessing. Only through Him do we have a relationship with You, and only in a relationship with You, do we have real life.
Father, we pray that You would challenge us with what we studied this morning, and we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”