I was moved to teach on the doxology and the benedictions, first of all, because of what they mean to me in my own devotional life. I turned to them in my own private meditations for refocus, for worship, for self-examination, for building up a faith. And then, as a result of that, I've been looking for opportunities to teach them to our church, because I believe they aid the people of God in looking up and seeing the greatness of God in these succinct statements of blessing and or doxology that are memorable and meaningful. We take them for granted, but they are there for our blessing and benefit.
Wishing and Praise, by H. B. Charles, Jr. Visit Ligonier.org slash teaching series to learn more. Why do people run from Christ? Why are we, by nature, fugitives from God?
Renewing Your Mind is next. We're naturally fascinated and terrified by God's holiness. Since He is perfect and can see everything we do, we naturally cower.
We don't like for our sin to be exposed. Today on Renewing Your Mind, we have the privilege of bringing you a message from Dr. R. C. Sproul's most popular series, The Holiness of God. As we explore God's character, we discover just how amazing His grace is when we consider His holiness.
Here's Dr. Sproul. As we continue our study of the holiness of God, we press on looking at the question of the trauma of God's holiness. We have seen that we are uncomfortable when God comes close, when He begins to manifest or display His transcendent majesty. We've already examined the New Testament account of what happened to the disciples when they were caught in a storm at sea and were frightened by the forces of nature that threatened their very lives and how that Jesus then addressed that situation by commanding the winds and the sea to be calm. And when they suddenly and instantly became calm, the fear of the disciples intensified. Now they were more afraid of Christ than they were of the forces of nature.
But I want us to continue looking at that dimension of our natural human fear for the divine and for the holy and for the transcendent. Several years ago, a book was written that became very popular in the secular world that was called The Peter Principle. And it was a study of a syndrome that happens in businesses and in corporations when people seek to go up the corporate ladder and rise to the next level of authority. And the Peter Principle is the principle that says that there is a tendency in the business world for people to rise to their level of incompetency. And it's an interesting insight, isn't it, that people may be very competent at level one and go to level two and still be competent, and because they display competence they are given a promotion to level three, but now all of a sudden they're thrust into a position that's over their heads. But sooner or later, the theory goes, we get elevated beyond where we should be to the level of incompetency. Well, there was much discussion about that, but there's a chapter in that book that fascinates me from a theological perspective, and that is the chapter that describes the person who is the super competent. The author speaks of the super incompetent, that person who never goes above the first level.
He's so incompetent he can't even make it at the entrance level of the organization, and he's weeded out and loses his job. But what about that rare individual who's not simply competent but has an abundance of competency, who is super competent? Well, the book says that according to the surveys that they had done is that for a person who is exceptionally competent to advance to an appropriate level in an organization, frequently, almost always, must move to another company because the super competent person faces enormous resistance from two sides, from the people who are under him or her because they are intimidated, threatened by this superlative degree of competence, and even more so the people who are over them because they feel threatened by that super competent person coming to take their job.
So what happens to a person who's exceptionally able is for them to advance in the corporate world, they have to move from company to company where they're brought in at a level that is looking for somebody super competent and doesn't represent a contemporary threat. Well, how does that apply to theology? Well, when we're trying to explain the reaction of people to Jesus, we can apply this. Jesus was the most super competent human being that ever walked on the earth, and who was it that hated Him and resisted Him the most? It wasn't the common people. The Scriptures say that the common people heard Him gladly. They rejoiced in His ability and in His competency, but it was the Pharisees and the scribes who hated Him.
Why? Well, the Pharisees were a group of people who began historically as a group of people who called themselves the separated ones, who devoted themselves to the rigorous pursuit of righteousness. And they were so zealous in their pursuit of righteousness that they achieved an uncommon level of popular appreciation and acclaim for their status as being the pillars of the community. They gave all of the outward appearances of greatness with respect to righteousness. They were so disciplined, so much more disciplined than the common people, so devout in their praying and in their tithing and in their leadership, that the people began to look at them as the paragons of all virtue. But they were frauds. Their righteousness was only superficial. They were hypocrites, and a hypocrite is somebody who play hacks, who gives a show outwardly of righteousness, but who inwardly is corrupt. But they were able to fool the people. The counterfeit holy was not revealed to be counterfeit and fraudulent until the Holy One appeared. This is what happens when truth appears clearly. God is exposed for what it is. And the presence of Jesus of Nazareth was a threatening expose to those people who prided themselves in their righteousness.
And they were threatened, they were bitter, they were hostile, and they plotted to destroy Him. I remember a situation I had in the very first year of my teaching career. I was teaching at a Presbyterian College in Pennsylvania, and I had a young lady who was a senior.
In my philosophy classes she had taken several courses that I was teaching in philosophy, and in every course she not only made As, but she scored clearly the highest grade on every exam I gave. And I used to grade on a curve. And sometimes the students didn't do very well.
The exam was perhaps too difficult that I had made up, and the grades had to be promoted, and I would read what the number was that the people gave, and I would scale them on the blackboard and so on. And maybe the average grade was a 60 or 70 in the class, and I said, but then this woman scored a 99. What do you suppose was the response of the students when I would make that announcement? They didn't rise up instantaneously and give her a standing ovation.
There would be this groan emanate from the classroom, a groan of disdain. They didn't like that she had been showing them up by her superior performance. And one day I gave an exam in a philosophy class, and when I graded this exam, this girl flunked the exam.
Her paper was terrible. She missed every question. And so I called her in, and I said to her, what happened to you on this exam? I said, there's something fishy here. I said, you missed every question in a way that you'd have to know the right answer to make sure that you missed it every time.
I said, there's something funny going on here. And she dissolved into tears. And she explained to me that she was in her final semester of her senior year. She was not married. She was not engaged.
She didn't have a boyfriend, and she never had any dates. She was panicked. And she said, the boys tell me that they don't want to date me because I'm too intelligent for them. And she said, Professor Sproul, I just want to get married.
I want to have a family. I don't look down on people who don't do as well as I do in school. And she intentionally flunked the exam because she realized that her superior performance was driving other people away because she broke the standard. She broke the curve.
She broke the mold. No one ever, ever did that like Jesus. Now there's another episode in the New Testament that involves the Sea of Galilee, that involves Jesus, the same sea, and the same disciples that we looked at in the episode where Jesus calmed the storm.
This one is recorded for us in the fifth chapter of Luke's gospel. Beginning at verse 1, we read this, And so it was, as the multitude pressed about him to hear the word of God, that he stood by the lake of Jannasserah, that's another name for the Sea of Galilee or the Lake of Galilee, and saw two boats standing by the lake. But the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then he got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. And when he had stopped speaking, he said to Simon, launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. But Simon answered and said to him, Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing.
Nevertheless, at your word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. And so they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats so that they began to sink. And when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken.
And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Now do you see what's going on here? Jesus is about to lecture to the multitudes and they're pressing up against Him.
He doesn't even have room to turn around. And so in order to get in a position that is suitable to address this large multitude, He asks the disciples to get one of the boats free so that He can sit in the boat just offshore and address this multitude. And after He finishes this message, He now says to Simon and the disciples who had been there on the shore with the boats repairing their net, which was a daily occurrence. If you've ever been to Gloucester, Massachusetts, for example, on the wharf there, you will see the fishermen gathered at the end of the day, even to this day, carefully going over their nets to repair any holes that have developed in the nets. Because if a fisherman has holes in his net, he doesn't catch the fish because the fish get out the hole. And so He has to keep those nets in careful repair. Well, that's what the disciples had done.
And they had done this after they had completed their fishing expedition for the day and were preparing for the next venture into the water. And so Jesus now after He's finished and sees that the nets are fixed, He says to them, let's cast out into the deep and cast your nets into the sea. Now remember that Jesus is their master. He's the rabbi.
They're the students. And whatever the rabbi says, they're supposed to follow. And throughout most of Jesus' ministry, when Jesus tells His disciples to do something, they normally do it without a whole lot of fuss or argument.
But on this occasion, Peter argues with Jesus. It's as if Simon is saying, Jesus, we understand how super competent you are in areas of theology. And when you teach us theology, we are utterly deferential, and we are at your feet. But give us a little credit. We know something about the fishing business.
We are professionals. We've been doing this, and we were out there all night long, and we didn't catch anything. That means Peter doesn't say this exactly. He just simply reminds Jesus of what Jesus already knew, that they had been out there all night and had a lousy night as far as catching fish.
And it is as if Simon is saying, all right, fellas, humor him. If he tells us to drop the nets, we'll drop the nets. We'll show him that there aren't any fish around today.
And so you know what happens. They go out, they drop the nets, and every fish in the sea of Galilee jumps in the net. I mean, such a catch as they've never had in history. Not only are their nets filled, they're filled to the breaking point. And when they haul in this catch and put it in the boat, it is so huge that the boat is now beginning to sink, and they have to get other boats to come alongside to help handle this huge catch of fish. And then those boats are now in danger of sinking.
So we have what's called this miraculous draft of fish. Now what I want us to look at as we consider continually now the trauma of holiness is the reaction of Simon to this episode. What would you think his reaction would be? Remember, Simon's Jewish, and he's a businessman, and Jewish businessmen are not known for being disinterested in profits.
I would have said, Jesus, look, here's the deal. Fifty percent of the business, all you have to do is once a month come by here and do this little trick. Just once a month, fifty percent of the profits are yours.
We'll take care of the nets, we'll take care of the boats, and we'll do our normal fishing if just one day a month you come down here and do this again. That's what I would have done. That's not what Peter said. Simon Peter looked at Jesus and said, please leave. Go away. Get out of here.
The words that we read in the text depart from me, Lord. Why would he ask Jesus to leave? He hadn't hurt the nets. He hadn't hurt the boats.
He hadn't hurt the people. Simon gives us the reason. He said, depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. What in the world did the filling of the nets with fishes have to do with the sinfulness of Simon Peter? Again, do you see what happens here? In this miraculous work of Christ, there is a sudden breakthrough of glory. His transcendent majesty, which has been veiled and cloaked and hidden by His humanity, suddenly breaks out. And again, Simon has an acute realization that he's standing in the presence of the holy, and he can't stand it. Jesus, please leave.
Go away. Because I'm a sinner, and I can't stand in the presence of the holy. I'm naked. I'm exposed. When you display your glory like that, it's devastating to me. It's traumatic. I have no defense for it. I need some space.
You're intruding and making me profoundly uncomfortable. Why do people run from Christ? Why do people flee from God? Why are we, by nature, fugitives? The Bible says that the wicked flee when no man pursues them. Luther used to say the pagan trembles at the rustling of a leaf, because we know we are not worthy. From the very first sin, human beings have gone into hiding, hiding from the gaze of God, desperately seeking something to cover us, to protect us from the trauma of the presence of the holy. If you encountered God, how would you respond?
Dr. R.C. Sproul has made it clear that all of us, every human on earth, is overwhelmed by God's holiness. We cannot stand in His presence without the covering provided for us by Christ. You're listening to Redoing Your Mind on this Monday. I'm Lee Webb, and this message is from Dr. Sproul's most popular series, The Holiness of God. I hope you'll stay with us. We'll hear a final comment from R.C.
in just a moment. Dr. Sproul once said that the holiness of God affects every aspect of our lives—economics, politics, athletics, romance, everything with which we are involved. As believers, we need to be reminded of who God really is. So I hope you'll contact us today and request a copy of Dr. Sproul's book, The Holiness of God. In it, he explains why God's presence is so terrifying to us. But we also see how this holy God is also a God of grace, amazing peace.
He's provided a way for us to find peace with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Once you've completed your request, we'll also add the full teaching series we're hearing this week to your online learning library. You'll be able to view the videos at any time on the website or on our free app. So contact us today and make your request with a donation of any amount.
You'll find us online at renewingyourmind.org, or you can call us at 800-435-4343. Every couple of years, Ligetier Ministries conducts a poll to see what Americans think about Jesus, the Bible, truth, and ethics. The results of our most recent State of Theology survey are in, and they're not very encouraging.
There's every evidence that evangelicals are being influenced by the culture in a negative way. They're uncertain about what truth is, who Jesus is, and how sinners are saved. That's why we believe theology is important.
That's why we teach it here. We need to know what the Bible says so that we're not easily fooled by the culture. And that's why we're thankful for your financial support as we work to provide teaching tools for growing Christians around the world.
In our quorum Deo, thought for the day, let me ask you how comfortable you are in the presence of the Holy. I notice something remarkable in my dealings with my friends, Christian friends and non-Christian friends. I spend a lot of time playing golf with men who make no profession of faith in Christ, and sometimes their language gets a little bit rough. And if they'll unleash some undeleted expletives on the golf course, they'll quickly turn to me and say, oh, sorry, Reverend, I apologize. And they make this apology to me as if there were some way that they were accountable to me for their language. I'm not their judge. It's not that my ears are virgin or even that my mouth is virgin.
I've heard those words a million times. I don't know why they feel the need to apologize to me. But sometimes we've talked about it, and they will say, well, you know, R.C., you're a minister. So they're not all that comfortable. Sometimes they are comfortable, and they say, you know, you're not like other ministers.
We feel like we can be ourselves around you. But why would they need to say that to me? I'm not God. I'm not Christ, and I'm not holy. But as a minister, I represent to them the holy. And sometimes people will react against Christians and call them holier than thou. The Christians may be perfectly humble, but all you have to do is bear the name of Christ, and you're going to make people uncomfortable. Are you uncomfortable? An important question to consider. I hope you'll join us again tomorrow as we continue Dr. Sproul's series, The Holiness of God. His message is titled Covering the Shame. That's Tuesday here on Renewing Your Mind.
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