Now the part of the chapter that I want to focus on is there in Matthew chapter sixteen beginning in verse thirteen where it says, "When Jesus came into the coast of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples saying, 'Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' And they said, 'Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias or one of the prophets.' He saith onto them, 'But whom say ye that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"
The title of my sermon tonight is, Whom Do Men Say That I Am? Jesus Christ asked his disciples not who they say he is but just who people in general said he was. What was he known for in that day just among the public at large? I think that if we look at the three men to whom Jesus Christ was compared, we can learn something about Jesus Christ himself. He's compared unto three men here specifically Elijah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist. These are the three men that Jesus is compare to. If we can look at those men and understand who those men were, we can learn something about Jesus Christ and who he was.
Now, go back to Jeremiah chapter five. Let's talk ... Jeremiah, first of all, but one thing I want to point out is that, obviously, we know that Jesus Christ did a lot of great miracles. Obviously, he walked on the water. He turned water into wine. He fed five-thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. He healed the blind. He healed the deaf. He raised a dead body to life. He did all these magnificent miracles. It's interesting because if you look at the men that he's compared to, they were all men who were known for their preaching more than anything else.
Now, Elijah did do a lot of miracles. The bible says that John the Baptist did no miracle. John the Baptist did not perform a single miracle. Jeremiah wasn't one that was going around performing miracles either. These two men were known for their hard preaching. People went out to the wilderness to hear John the Baptist, not to see him perform a miracle, but to hear him preach the word of God. Jeremiah was known for preaching the word of God, Elijah as well.
Now, look what it says in Jeremiah 5:14, just to show you what kind of a preacher Jeremiah was, it says, "Wherefore, thus saith the Lord of God of Hosts, because ye speak this word, behold I will make my words in thy mouth fire and this people wood and it shall devour them." I mean you want to talk about a fire-breathing preacher he said, "Your words when you preach are going to be like fire. These people are going to be like wood. You're going to light them up." God is telling that to Jeremiah because Jeremiah I don't think was a naturally just bold, in your face kind of a hard preaching guy, naturally in the flesh.
Go back to chapter one, if you would. In fact, he was a young man. He was a little bit timid, but God told him, "You need to preach hard. You need to tear these people down that are trusting in lies and trusting in wickedness." Go to Jeremiah chapter one this is when Jeremiah is first sent out to preach it says in verse four of Jeremiah chapter one, "Then the word of the Lord came unto me saying, 'Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee. Before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee and I ordained thee a profit onto the nations.' Then said I, 'Lord God, behold I cannot speak for I'm a child.' But the Lord said onto me, 'Say not I am a child for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee. Whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces for I am with thee to deliver thee', saith the Lord.'"
"Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. The Lord said onto me, 'Behold I have put my words in thy mouth. See I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms to root out and to pull down and to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.'" There's a negative aspect to his message, a tearing down, a throwing down, a destroying aspect and then at the end it says to build and to plant. That's the positive side of his preaching that's also going to be there.
The reason that I point this out is that Jesus Christ was compared to Jeremiah for a reason. Jeremiah was one of the men that preached harder than anybody else in the Old Testament. His words were like fire. He preached hard. He was a powerful man of God. Go to chapter twenty, if you would. Let me show you another example from the life of Jeremiah and that's to tell us that Jesus was no soft preacher. The reason that this message needs to be preached tonight is because so many today have portrayed Jesus Christ in a way other than what the Bible portrays him. Toward the end of the sermon I'm going to show you some examples from Jesus' own life.
First I just want to start by showing you the three men that Jesus was compared to. You see, if we were to ask people today to compare Jesus unto someone from the past, if we were to say, "Who do you think Jesus was from the past?", or, "What figure that's well known from the past would you liken Jesus onto?", they'd say, "Some say that thou art John Lennon", right? "Some say that thou art Buddha." "Some say that thou art Gandhi." Some say that thou art, I don't know who, Jerry Garcia. I don't know because they make him look like a hippie or something many times. They have a view of Jesus Christ where he's soft, where he's effeminate, where he looks like a hippie. They don't have a biblical view. It didn't come from the Bible.
People are constantly confronting me and saying, "Well, if the Bible says it's wrong for a man to have long hair, that's your interpretation", they say even though that's just what it says. "If men aren't supposed to have long hair, then how do you explain Jesus having long hair?" The bottom line is that there's no scripture in this entire book that even remotely hints at Jesus having long hair. There's no evidence of that whatsoever. People take a popular image of Jesus and to them it just becomes fact. We need to get a biblical image of Jesus.
The main thing we need to understand is that Jesus was known for his preaching. Jesus was known for hard preaching, for speaking the word of God, for boldness this is what these three men had in common, Jeremiah, Elijah, and John the Baptist. He wasn't being compare to some kind of a hippie or some kind of an effeminate guy. If you look at these picture of Jesus, they're coming from the Renaissance. It was just a period where there was a lot of weird artwork being painted. Look at the paintings. They're all nude. I mean what kind of a normal man sits around painting pictures of nude men? I mean just think about that.
Do you think that a manly, hair-legged man who goes out and works by the sweat of his brow and lives like a man, talks like a man, walks like a man do you think that ... "What do you do for fun?" "Well, I sit around and paint pictures of nude men." It doesn't make any sense. These queer looking images of Jesus were painted by literal queers. The men who painted them are painting Jesus in their own image because everyone sees Jesus in their own image. That's why white people sometimes will have a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus. Black people will have a Black Jesus. Chinese people will have a Chinese ... I mean who's ever seen this. You see a Chinese Jesus, Native American Jesus, why? Because that's what they are that's how they view him.
That painting of Jesus that was painted only four, five, six-hundred years ago these images those don't tell you anything about what Jesus really looked like. They only tell you what the guy who painted it looked like. That's all it tells you is that the guy who painted it looked that way. Today that image is just carried forward where we basically have movies and we have all ... Isn't there a big Jesus movie that just came out even in the theaters. Somebody help me out? Am I right about that, someone worldly. Who's the worldly person?
No, but I think that there is even a full scale Hollywood movie of Jesus. There have always been Jesus movies that come out. They almost all portray Jesus pretty much the same way. He's a really soft guy. He's a really mellow guy. He's got long hair. He's a pretty boy. That's just how they portray it. Does that really jive with the Bible? I mean is that really how the Bible shows him as being, or was he one who preached hard, was he one who was manly and so forth. Now, look at Jeremiah chapter twenty let me just show you one more example from the life of Jeremiah then we'll get into Elijah and John the Baptist.
Look at Jeremiah chapter twenty verse one it says, "Now, Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord. It came to pass on the morrow that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks."
Just so that you understand what's going on here Jeremiah's preaching and the guy who is the chief governor of the house of the Lord, this is the guy who's in charge of the temple, this is a religious leader in the land of Judah at that time, he hears about Jeremiah's preaching. He has him arrested. He has him put in the stock. Stocks, if you don't know, are this thing where they put their head in the hole. It's two pieces of wood. It clamps down on them. They have their head and their hands like this. They're basically just available for public ridicule and so forth.
Obviously, it's extremely uncomfortable to be locked like this for a whole day and a whole night. He's put in this uncomfortable punishment of being locked up in stocks in the high gate of Benjamin, again, just publicly humiliated, publicly locked up like a criminal. Pashur comes to remove Jeremiah from the stocks. Watch how Jeremiah responds to this guy. He doesn't say, "Okay. I'm sorry. I'll tone it down." "Then said Jeremiah onto him, 'The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur but Magormissabib.'"
Nobody wants it be called that. Anyway, it says, "For thus saith the Lord, 'Behold I will make thee a terror to thyself and to all thy friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them into Babylon. He will slay them with the sword. Moreover, I will deliver all the strength of this city and all the labors thereof and all the precious things thereof and all the treasures of the kings Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies which shall spoil them and take them and carry them to Babylon, and thou Pashur and all that dwell in thine house shalt go into captivity and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die and shall be buried there, thou and all thy friends to whom thou hast prophesied lies.'"
Now look this guy hasn't backed down at all. I mean he's coming straight out of being locked up. He says you're a liar, and your friends that listen to you, they listen to your preaching of lies, you're all going to be judged by God. You're all going to be killed. You're going to be a terror onto everyone who knows you. Then, again, he goes on in verse seven let's just keep reading. This is where Jeremiah he's done with Pashur. This is Jeremiah praying to God.
In verse seven it says, "Oh, Lord, thou hast deceived me. I was deceived. Thou art stronger than I and hast prevailed. I'm in derision daily. Everyone mocketh me. For since I spake I cried out, I cried violence and spoil because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me and a derision daily. Then I said, 'I will not make mention of him, nor speak anymore in his name', but his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones. I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay."
Here's a guy who even in the face of being mocked, ridiculed, arrested he just doesn't stop. He just keeps on preaching and preaching hard. When they look at Jesus Christ, they say, "Who is this guy?" They say, "This is Jeremiah come back from the dead." I mean what does that tell you about his preaching? It should tell you a lot. If you read the whole book of Jeremiah, you'll get an even bigger picture of who Jeremiah was and what he was like. Let's look at Elijah. Go to First Kings twenty-one. Of course, another aspect of Jeremiah is that he's known as the weeping prophet. Of course, we know Jesus wept. The Bible records three different occasions where Jesus wept for three different reasons.
If you would, look at First Kings twenty-one let's just take a look at Elijah. Let's see what kind of a guy he was. It says in First Kings 21:17, "And the word of the Lord came to Elijah, the Tishbite, saying, 'Arise. Go down to meet Ahab, King of Israel, which is in Samaria. Behold he's in the vineyard of Naboth whither he is gone down to possess it.' Thou shalt speak unto him saying, 'Thus saith the Lord hast thou killed and also taken possession?' Thou shalt speak unto him saying, 'Thus saith the Lord in the place where dogs lick, the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood even thine ...'"
Again, I mean he's confronting the king. I mean this is an important person that he's confronting boldly. It says in verse twenty, "And Ahab said to Elijah, 'Hast thou found me, mine enemy?' And he answered, 'I have found thee because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold I will bring evil upon thee and will take a way thy posterity and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall and him that is shut up and left in Israel and make thine house like the house of Jeroboam, the Son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha, the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger and made Israel to sin', and of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat, and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.'"
"But there was none like unto Ahab which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord whom Jezebel, his wife, stirred up. He did very abominably in following idols according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel. It came to pass when Ahab heard those words," watch this, "that he rent his clothes and put sackcloth upon his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went softly. The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 'Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.'"
Not only was Elijah a powerful preacher, not only was he as the Bible calls him "a hairy man" but he went and confronted King Ahab, preached to him, preached a very strong message condemning Ahab, and basically the result was that Ahab is cowering in fear. Ahab is renting his clothes, putting sack cloth on his loins, and begging God for mercy. I mean that's a powerful preacher that could be used by God to see that kind of a change happen in this man's life. Of course, then Ahab because he humbled himself, because he wept and was sorry before the Lord, then God shows mercy onto Ahab as a result.
By the way, hard preaching works. I mean this is a great example. Everybody thinks that in order to help people turn from their sin, we need to just really be soft with them and just really be gentle with them. There are times when kindness and gentleness are not appropriate. Now of course we should be kind. Yes, we should be gentle. Yes, we should be loving. There are times when those aren't appropriate. You see, there are different types of preaching and different types of handling people for different situations.
When someone is worshiping Satan, when someone is turning a whole nation to wickedness and ungodliness, when someone is for even infanticide, because one of the abominations that they committed was child sacrifice of passing their children through the fire, gentleness isn't going to work at that point. We need preachers like an Elijah that will confront people and preach hard on sin. Because when it comes to sin, the preaching needs to be hard. It does work. It does cause people to change.
I mean here's an example where someone is rebuked with some face-ripping, fire-breathing preaching and they change. Let me tell you something there have been many things in my life that I changed as a result of hearing a hard sermon. I never made any changes based on a gentle soft sermon. When it comes to sin, we need to preach hard. Is there a time to be kind? Of course. Gentleness? Yes, great. There's also a time to rip some face and that's what we see in this passage. We see the effectiveness where Ahab becomes a better man. He makes changes in his life. Actually the nation is spared some judgment there. Ahab, himself, is spared judgment.
Go to James five let me just show you one last thing about Elijah, one more thing about Elijah. We saw what Jeremiah was like. We saw what Elijah is like. Really, obviously, we could spend hours and hours on each man just showing you other aspects of their life, different stories illustrating these characteristics that they had, but I'm just trying to show you just a couple of highlights just giving you an idea here of what type of man Jesus was compared to not the type of people we'd compare him to today. They would compare him to someone who was very soft, who was very watered down, who was very accepting and tolerant of everything and everyone. That's not really the image that we get from this scripture.
You say, "Well, I don't agree with this. I like the Hollywood Jesus better." Well, then go worship the Hollywood Jesus. He can't do anything for you because he's a figment of somebody's imagination. If you want to actually talk to the real Jesus and actually know the real Jesus ... By the way, Paul said that his greatest aspiration in life was to know Christ. Now, what does it mean to know someone? It's not just to be saved. I mean being saved he knows you when you're saved. How well do you know him?
The more you talk to him, the more he talks to you the more you're going to know him. The more time you spend with him in his word, the more time you spend in prayer then you're going to know him better. One way to get to know him is to understand the three men that he was compared to that will help us to know him. Yes, we can read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and read about the man himself but to see who he was compared to speaks volumes. Look if you would at James chapter five verse sixteen it says, "Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias", meaning Elijah, that's just a New Testament spelling.
"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. He prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth brought forth her fruit." Another thing that Elijah was known from was his prayer. We saw Jeremiah he was a hard-nosed preacher. He was also known as being the weeping prophet. Jesus fits the bill in both cases. Here we see that Elijah was known as being a hard-nosed preacher. He was also known from performing miracles. Jesus did those things.
Also one of the things that we think of with Elijah the most is prayer because he was the one who prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the Earth by the space of three years and six months. That's a pretty amazing prayer to have answered. Then he prayed again and it rained. That's amazing. Joshua was an amazing man of prayer when he prayed and the sun stood still for the space of an entire day. Jesus Christ was also a man of prayer. I mean if you study Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you'll see him constantly praying, getting up real early, going out and praying.
You see that when you start to look into these men's lives, you see a lot of parallels with Jesus. You can understand why people looked at him and said, "This is Elijah. This is Jeremiah. He's back." Now, let's look at the last example, John the Baptist. Look of Matthew chapter three, Matthew chapter number three. Now this ones interesting because John the Baptist was someone that these people hadn't just heard about. Because if you think about it, Jesus Christ's contemporaries they'd heard about Jeremiah, they'd heard about Elijah, they'd never really seen these guys. All they knew about them was what they read in the Bible. They'd never had personal experience with them. They'd had personal experience with John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was at the exact time ... I mean his ministry began just months before Jesus Christ's ministry began. These men were contemporaries. They were both preaching at the same time. This is one where it was a contemporary example. They said, "Some say that thou art John the Baptist." Because remember John the Baptist was put to death by King Herod against his will because he made a vow that he would give the daughter of Herodias whatsoever she would ask. She asked for John the Baptist's head on a charger, so he gave it to her. That's why we should always be careful not to make foolish vows and make those opened-ended promises and commitments like Jephthah or Herod did.
When John the Baptist is killed later when Herod hears about him, he says, "This is John the Baptist risen from the dead." When he hears about Jesus he says, "Jesus is the resurrection of John the Baptist who I killed." Now, look if you would at Matthew 3:2. Here is John the Baptist in verse one it says, "In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judaea", verse two, "And saying, 'Repent ye for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'" That's what John the Baptist said when he preached, "Repent ye for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Now go to Matthew four verse seventeen. Watch what it says in Matthew 4:17, "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, 'Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'" Now, does that sound familiar? It's the same exact preaching. I mean he's saying the exact same thing.
What does it mean to repent? To repent means to change. He's telling people change. He's not telling people, "Hey, remain the same. Believe the same thing that you already believed. Live the same way that you already lived." He's saying, "Repent. Change." By the way, real hard preaching it illicits a change. It expects people to change. Now, it's great to say, "Hey, come as you are", but you don't want to say, "Come as you are, leave as you came." Yes, come as you are, and leave different. See a soft, sugar-coated preaching is one that says, "Hey, we just accept who you are. We just accept you for who you are. You don't need to change anything."
Yes, it's true we'll accept you for who you are. We love you for who you are. We love you even though you have sin in your life. We love you even though you're a babe in Christ, and you're maybe spiritually ignorant or just spiritually immature. Of course, we love you and want to be patient with you and help you grow, but you know what we want to help you to change and to grow. When you come to church, the goal is so that you can be better not to just say, "Hey, just stay that way for the rest of your life." Living in fornication, just stay that way. We love you anyway. You're a man you got long hair, just stay that way.
Look we love you anyway, but you need to be taught from the scripture, "Hey, get a haircut." You need to be taught from the scripture, "Hey, get married or separate, but you can't just live together in fornication." You can't just cohabit. It's not biblical. It's not right. Look when it comes to salvation, repentance is changing from a false believe to a correct belief. When it comes to salvation, repentance comes from instead of bowing down to an idol and saying, "This is my god, this statue of gold or silver or stone", you turn from idols to the living and true God and believe on him for salvation.
When it comes to salvation, repentance is where you say, "You know what I was Catholic where I believed in salvation through the church and salvation through baptism, salvation through the sacraments, but I'm going to repent and believe the gospel and say, "Hey, the good news is that Jesus paid it all. The good news is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." That is repentance in regard to salvation. It is a change in belief.
It could be a change from one God to another. I mean if you're a Hindu and you're worshiping some false god from the Hindu Pantheon, you need to change to worshiping Jehovah God of the Bible. You need to switch to the Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Savior. That is the change that is needed. Why? Because the only things that's necessary for salvation is to put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It's impossible to put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ while you're trusting another God. You stop trusting in him. You start trusting in Jesus.
Other people are trusting in their works. The Bible talks about repentance from dead works. You could be trusting in works or deeds of the law to get you saved. You need to turn from that to trusting Jesus Christ, his death, his burial, his resurrection, the blood of Christ being your only ticket into Heaven that's repentance in regard to salvation. Now, is repentance in regard to salvation the only repentance in the Bible? There's a lot of other repentance in the Bible.
For example, God himself repented more than anyone else in the Bible. Did God have to change what he believed? Did God have to go from one god to another or one mode of salvation to another? He is God, so that is a different repentance. Repentance always means what; to change, to turn. When it comes to God repenting, that was him following one course of action saying, "I'm going to destroy the Ninevites", but then repenting and saying, "Well, since they're sorry now, I'm not going to destroy them. Since they've turned from their evil ways, I'm not going to destroy them." When it comes to Ahab, God was all set to destroy Ahab. Then what happened? Ahab humbled himself, and God repented. God changed his course of action.
When God repents he's turning from one course of action to another. When salvation involves repentance, it's a turning from one belief system or god to another, to the truth, to the gospel, to what's right. Then there's other repentance that we as believers do on a daily basis. Do you see how repentance is just a really broad word? It's used in a lot of different context. For example, the churches in revelation are constantly told to repent. There're already saved. There're already believing in Christ. He said, "You've lost your first love. Repent. Do the first works. Be zealous. Repent. You're lukewarm. Repent." He says to those who are allowing sin in the church to repent. We constantly on a daily basis even when we find ourselves going in the wrong direction or doing the wrong things, we need to repent.
Repentance whether it has to do with salvation, whether it has to do with just our lifestyle after we're saved, whatever type of repentance, whether it's repenting of wickedness in our life, whether it's repenting of whatever the case, it's a change, something changes. I mean when you get saved, here's what changes? What you believe changes. If what you believe did not change, you didn't get saved. I mean if you still believe the same thing you believed yesterday, you were either already saved or you're still not saved, but getting saved involves starting to believe something that you did not believe, changing what you believe.
You used to think it was works. Now, you believe it's the faith of Christ. You used to be Hindu. You're switching to being a Christian. You're going to trust Christ now. You used to be Muslim. Now, you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Something changed there because when you were a Muslim you said, "God has no Son." When you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you're believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God see the change there? Somebody might be a Christian for many years and get involved in a certain sin and then turn from that, but the bottom line is any type of preaching that is preaching repentance is telling people to change, and here's the thing a lot of people don't want to be told to change. They want to stay the same.
They want to go to a church that's going to tell them what they're already doing is right and pat them on the back and tell them ... Well, I want to go to a church that believes X, Y, and Z. Then you tell them, "Well, we believe X and Y but we don't believe Z. Let me show you in the Bible why." "No, no. I'm not interested in that." Because they don't want to change what they believe. Here's the thing if we believe something that's wrong, that contradicts scripture, we need to change what we believe. We should always be ready to be corrected by the Bible on our beliefs.
We know we're not wrong about salvation. We know we're not wrong about the deity of Jesus Christ. We know we're not wrong about those main doctrines. When it comes to little things, sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes we do need to change some things about what we believe. Especially people don't like to be told to change something about their lifestyle especially if it involves a big change, and they're doing something majorly wrong. Maybe, in fact, the job that they have is an ungodly occupation.
For example, we had somebody get saved and they were a dealer at the casino. I mean it just was not a godly occupation to be a dealer at a casino. This person was making so much money there. They don't want to be told, "Hey, that's an ungodly place." "Hey, you shouldn't be working there." What if you're a bartender and you get saved, and you're a bartender, don't you think it's time to find a new job? Here's the thing let's say you've been a bartender for a long time, you make real good money, that's not what you necessarily want to hear. The thing about Jeremiah, the thing about Elijah, the thing about John the Baptist is that they weren't interested in telling people what they wanted to hear. They told people what they needed to hear.
Let me tell you something everybody needs to hear repent because none of us is perfect. Everyone has something that needs to change in their life, every one. We need to go to a church that tells us change something. Now, it might always be what we want to hear. We might not always find it easy to change. We all need to change for the better. We all need to repent of some things in our life. Some people will say, "Well, to be saved you have to repent of your sins." Well, then nobody's saved. I mean, "Well, that's not what we meant." Well, what do you mean? Because if you say things like repent of your sins, that's what people are going to think.
I mean if somebody tells me you have to repent of your sins to be saved, I'd be like, "Okay. Well, I guess I have to stop doing all these sins." Well, that sounds like a works-based salvation especially in light of Jonah 3:10 which says, "And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them and he did it not." To sit there and say you have to give up sin to be saved or you have to be willing to give up your sins to be saved, you got to turn from this sin and turn from that sin and stop living in fornication and stop drinking, if you had to do all that to be saved, none of us would be saved because you know what there are more sins than just drinking and fornicating.
It's easy for a preacher to get up and say, "You need to repent of your sins. You can't keep drinking and fornicating and smoking and cussing." They list a few things, right, two of which aren't mentioned in the Bible, two of which are mentioned. While they themselves have other sins in their life that are mentioned in the Bible, they might struggle with things in their own life. Every single person has sin in their life. Now, we might not have the exact same sin in our life.
I'll just be real candid with you. I don't struggle with drinking or drug addiction. Here's the thing there are people who do. There are probably even people in the auditorium tonight that those sins have been a struggle for them in the past, those sins could be a struggle for them in the future. That's something that they need to take heed unto. Here's the thing just because I have not been into those two sins, just because those two particular sins aren't something that are a part of my life and never really have been ... I've never even tasted beer. I've never abused drugs. Here's the thing though I have other sins though.
What preachers will sometimes do they'll single out a few certain sins, "If you do these, you must not be saved." It's like, "Well, okay. Well, what about the stuff you do. You must not be saved", because there are a lot of different sins that are less visible. If you're a drunkard, that's pretty visible to the people around you. If you're addicted to drugs, that's pretty visible to the people around you. If you're smoking cigarettes, people can see that about you. What about all the other things that they don't see? What about all the people that are secretly watching filth on TV, watching filthy movies, looking at filthy stuff on the internet. That's not something that people necessarily see, but it still could be happening.
We know that the statistics show us that it's happening quite a bit. It's wickedness. It's very major of a sin. If you look on a woman to lust after her, you've committed to adultery with her already in your heart that's a big deal. That's a big sin. Not only that but there are other sins of the heart that God still considers a big sin even though we wouldn't classify them as a big sin, but yet covetousness in the heart, greed, covetousness, lust. How about just looking on a woman to lust? You don't know what's going on in every person's mind. There are other sins. There could be stealing. There could be hating your brother or your sister in your heart. There could be other sins in your mind and in your heart and in your life that you commit that are wicked.
Look if the entrance into Heaven were based upon turn from your sins, it's going to be a lonely place. The Bible says, "There is not a just man upon the Earth that doeth good and sineth not." You say, "Well, I don't watch Hollywood movies. I'm not looking at garbage on TV. I don't even have a TV. I'm definitely not looking at internet pornography. I'm not drinking. I'm not smoking. I'm not doing drugs. These people who are doing that stuff aren't even saved." You know what that's a bunch of garbage. There are probably a lot of people in this room, I'm sure there are many people, that aren't doing any of those things but there are other things that you're doing, telling a lie here and there, thinking a bad thought here and there, wasting time here and there, skipping your Bible reading here and there, skipping prayer here and there. I mean there are plenty of things that we do.
You say, "Where do we draw the line?" Here's the line, and we're all below it. You want to draw the line of how righteous you have to be to get into Heaven, how much you have to repent of all your sins to make it into Heaven? Here's the line. We're all below it. That's why we need to be saved by faith because it's the grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men. That's the only way that we could even be saved. Be that as it may, repentance is a preaching that tells you to make a change that's the kind of preacher John the Baptist was, that's the kind of preacher Jesus was. He's saying, "Look change what you believe. Change your lifestyle. Change the things that are wrong about your life."
Look at Matthew three. You're right there in Matthew. Look at chapter three. Let's look at more of John the Baptist preaching verse seven says this, "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, 'Generation of vipers who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'" You say, "What a minute. I don't think you should ever calls them names when you're preaching", but yet we see here that John the Baptist is preaching, and he says, "You generation of vipers." Flip over to Matthew twenty-three. He goes and preaches hard and tells them they're going to be burned up, and they're going to be cut done. He preaches all these things.
It's amazing because when you look at the preaching of Jesus Christ, you will see a lot of the same statements, the same teachings in the preaching of Jesus Christ as you see in the teaching of John the Baptist. We can read this whole chapter because this whole chapter is actually a pretty hard sermon where he keeps calling them hypocrites and preaching against them. Let me just point out to you one portion. It says in verse twenty-nine, "Woe unto you ..." This is chapter twenty-three verse twenty-nine, "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites because ye build...", again, calling names in the preaching, hypocrites. You're hypocrites.
What did John the Baptist call them? The pharisees what did he call them?
Pastor: Vipers. What's a viper?
Pastor: A snake, right? Okay. Well, let's read this. It says, "Because ye build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous and say, 'If we'd been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers", of what?
Pastor: "Vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" Why did they confuse Jesus with John the Baptist; same preaching, same message, same confrontational preaching, same style, same word of God, same zero compromise stand, and same exposing of the pharisees for the fraud that they were. By the way, this always cracks me up how the people always loved to enshrine the hard preaching of the past, but they don't want the hard preaching of the present. They enshrine the hard preaching to the past, but they don't want to hear the heard preaching of the present.
"Man, the prophets we would've loved them. We would've been following ... If we'd been in the days of our fathers, we wouldn't have killed the prophets." Then today somebody comes a long that's like a Jeremiah, that's like an Elijah and they hang them on the cross. We were just talking about this before church. It reminds me of this one time I got this ad in the mail. It showed a guy in front of a pulpit. He was like ... He was in some pose like he's just really preaching hard. It said, "Remember the way preaching used to be, red-hot, fire-breathing, sin-hating preaching. Remember the way it used to be." It said, "Well, if you love that preaching, then come on down."
It was a local Bible college. It's like they're starting a Bible college because they only had a few students. It's an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in town. They said, "We're having this preaching night." They said, "Have you got a preacher boy with a red-hot sermon then come on down and let her rip." It's this big advertisement just all the way, the old fashion, the way preaching ... hard preaching. I actually took the ad seriously, imagine that? I was like okay cool. This is when you first started coming here. I think Garret had been coming for a week or two at that point.
It must have been fall of 2008 then. This is going back a long time ago. We took a big group from our church. Maybe about fifteen, sixteen people we went down there. We had about four of our guys preaching. Yours truly also preached. We went down there. We got up and guess what we did? We let her rip. We got up and we preached hard. We're screaming and preaching hard and preaching against sin and everything. They had two preachers. We brought four. It was six preachers. I mean we had the face-ripping preaching. They didn't. They had some really soft, watered-down preaching.
We got up and we ripped. Everybody that was there seemed like they were enjoying it. I mean the people we brought they were enjoying it. Even the people from this other church they were all enjoying it. Everybody seemed happy right. Everybody was saying amen. Everything was fine. Well, I get a call a couple of days later from the assistant pastor he says, "Hey, I want to take you out to lunch. Where do you want to go to lunch? I'll take you wherever you want to go in Tempe." I said, "Well, let's go to Dave's Dog House." I was in a Dave's Dog House phase at that time.
We went to this place called Dave's Dog House on the ASU campus. They have just really good chili dogs. We went down there. He's talking to me. He's friendly and everything's fine. Then he's like, "I want to talk to you about some of the sermons that were preached at that thing." I guess apparently the next day they had gone to church the next day and they were talking about, "Man, we heard these sermons yesterday. It was great." They were talking about the contents of the sermons. It made some women in the church angry because that's who should make the decision in a church about how the preaching should be.
Basically these manly women in the church or whatever they were didn't like the secondhand preaching that they got. It's like secondhand smoke kills. They couldn't even handle the secondhand preaching. What if they would've been there? They really couldn't handle it. They would have withered right then and there. Then they complained to the pastor. The pastor was upset. Keep in mind everybody who was actually there was fine with it. These women complained to the pastor. Then the pastor took the assistant pastor aside and said, "You need to talk to these guys. They can't come down here and preach like that." He told me he said, "This type of a preaching night that preaching that's not the place for it."
I literally said to him I said, "Was there anything unbiblical about what we preached?" "No, no." "I mean was there anything unbiblical that was said or is there anything that you could correct us on?" "No." He said, "It wasn't what you said. It was nothing that you guys said that was wrong." He said, "You don't just get up in a meeting like that and just preach your hobby horse." He said, "You need to preach a more generic type sermon at a preaching night like this." He said, "Going forward we're going to have a list of approved subjects when you come to this thing what you can preach on."
I flat told this guy I said, "You know what ..." I said, "I'm not going to tell my church members to tone down their preaching. I'm not trying to tone them down. I'm trying to fire them up." I said, "You know what you guys are watered down." I said, "I don't want to teach them to be like you." That's what I told him. I said, "We won't be coming back unless we can come and preach the Bible and to preach all the Bible and to preach whatever subject the Bible teaches. You can't show us where we're scripturely wrong."
I'm wondering to myself if a red-hot, old-fashioned, fire-breathing preaching night is not the place to get up and rip some face, then when? You think they're doing it on Sunday morning? There's no way. Sunday morning is going to be exponentially more watered down than an evening type of preaching meeting like that where the die hards show up for some hard preaching. Just the mentally ... I just flat out told the guy I said, "I don't want to be watered down like you. I don't want to teach people to be watered down like you." Then later he forgave me years later, I think.
Anyway, I don't know. I don't really care. It just goes to show you how people want the hard preaching of the past. They want to glorify the past. Solomon quote your verse talking about ... I need to memorize this verse about don't inquire that the former days ... What is it? Nice and loud.
All right. "Say not what is the cause why the former days were better than these?" He said it's a stupid question. I'm just paraphrasing. That's a stupid question to ask King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes. "Why was it so much better back then? Man the preaching was so much better. Man back then they had the fire-breathing preaching." Hey, we still have the fire-breathing preaching in some places. You just don't want to go there because you don't want to hear it because you want to hear something soft and watered down.
If you would've been back then, you would've been at Pashur, Pastor Pashur. You would've been at Pashur Baptist. You would not have been at Jeremiah's church. You wouldn't have been at Elijah ... Look if you're not there now, you wouldn't have been there back then. You would've been at the watered-down church down the street because that's where you're at today. People who want the preaching of the past that it was hard then it's hard now ... Look Elijah was back then. Jeremiah was back then. Today we've got John the Baptist. Today we've got Jesus Christ.
You don't want them is what he's saying to the pharisees. You don't want John the Baptist because you would've been just like your fathers who didn't want Elijah because of the fact that people they pretend that they want the hard preaching of today by saying, "The preaching of the past, the hard ...", bologna. There's nothing new under the sun. There's hard preaching today. There was hard preaching then. There's a watered-down alternative today and there was a watered-down alternative then. It's that simple folks. They said, "Man if we would've been back then ..." Jesus says, "You know what you're a hypocrite. You're a serpent. You're a viper." They were even going to Hell. They didn't even believe on Jesus Christ this particular group.
The Independent Fundamental Baptist in town here they're saved. They're going to Heaven. Why are they watered down? Why are they so soft? Why don't they want hard preaching? They don't want to be told to change anything that's why. They don't want the message of repent. Anyway when we look at Jesus Christ we get a message here from the Bible whether we're looking at Jeremiah's life, whether we're looking at Elijah's life, whether we're looking at John the Baptist's life that Jesus Christ was known for his bold preaching.
If we're really going to know and love Jesus Christ for who he is, we need to get to know his preaching, get the book of Matthew, look at the sermons in the red letters. Right, you got the red-letter Bible words of Christ in red. When you see a whole chapter in red, that's Jesus preaching a sermon. Read the Sermon On The Mount. Matthew five through seven some very hard preaching nailing specific sins, boom, boom, boom. Read the sermon in Matthew twenty-three very hard preaching not generic. I mean generic sermon are you serious? It sounds boring. Give them something specific. Give me something I can sink my teeth into.
When we look at the image of Jesus in the Bible, we understand he was not the soft, watered-down hippie that the modern day American culture portrays him as. There's nothing in the Bible that teaches he was soft or effeminate. Reality we see him flipping tables, dumping out money. If he's making a whip and going into the temple and swinging a whip, he was not a milk-toast preacher. How do you walk into a temple and just start swinging a whip and flipping tables and nobody stops you? Think about it.
You walk into a temple. You're flipping tables. You're taking jars of money, and it says he dumped them out. Imagine the pandemonium when you start dumping money on the ground? He's driving them out of the temple. What does it mean to drive? He's cracking the whip. Jesus had strength. Jesus had boldness. Jesus was a man. Jesus was known for his preaching. Yes, he did wonderful miracles, but he also was a preacher. Let's not let the world show us a Jesus in their own image.
You say, "Well, I don't think you've properly portrayed Jesus tonight." Well, you know what you're right because I've only portrayed one aspect of Jesus tonight. Here's the thing you need to go to the Bible for yourself and get all aspects of who Jesus was. I'm showing you one tonight that most people aren't going to talk about or show you. You need to get into Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I encourage you if you've not read those four books, you need to read those four books right away. They're not that long. You need to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and understand who Jesus was. Then go back and read Jeremiah and understand who he was compared to, who's footsteps he walked in.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your word, Lord. We thank you for, of course, just the example of Jesus Christ and, of course, salvation through Christ. Lord, please help us to study our Bibles and get to know you and not to fall into the trap of making Jesus into our own image, Lord. Help us to get what we believe from the Bible. In Jesus name we pray amen.