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The Transforming Effect of Loving Christ

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 5, 2023 4:00 am

The Transforming Effect of Loving Christ

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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June 5, 2023 4:00 am

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Grace To You
John MacArthur

What does God want from me on behalf of Christ?

He wants me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. That's the Christian life. It's all tied to loving the Lord Jesus with all your faculties. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. I think you're really going to benefit from the study that John launches today. It's going to spell out, in practical terms, what it means to love, honor, and serve Jesus Christ. John calls this study, Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple.

John, this is a special series. The messages are from various shepherds' conferences over the years. The shepherds' conferences we hold every spring at Grace Community Church with three or four thousand pastors attending. And for this series, we pulled together some of your messages specifically on the topic of being a disciple of Christ and what that should look like in the 21st century. It's really an important subject.

I'm excited about this. Some of the most useful messages I have given through the years have been those that have been given at the shepherds' conferences, because I understand the importance of it. I understand with three or four thousand pastors there, you want to load your gun with the best ammunition possible. So, yeah, so this is good, pulling those messages together under the title, Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple. And frankly, the shepherds' conferences are amazing events every year.

This year was no exception. I think we had four thousand, five hundred, plus over a thousand of our church people volunteering to serve the pastors. There are lots of highlights, great preaching, but for many, the biggest highlight of all is the singing. You get these thousands of men singing at the top of their voice with all their heart the great hymns and gospel songs and worshiping the Lord as well as hearing his word. So these are dynamic events and experiences, and I think this may be the first time we've pulled them all together and put them in a series.

So this is going to be a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for our listeners. Five messages that I preached at shepherds' conferences that took aim at this question, what does it look like to follow Jesus Christ today, to love and obey him in the 21st century? And of course, you'll see the truth of the Bible is timeless, contains everything we need to know about how to be a disciple, a learner in this current day.

What does Jesus demand of his followers? Whether pastors or church leaders or brand new Christians, you're going to find out in the series. And again, these messages were preached to pastors, but you don't have to be a pastor to benefit from what we're going to look at in this study. If you follow Christ, these messages are for you. So stay tuned and consider these lessons for a modern day disciple. Yes, friend, thousands of pastors look forward to the shepherds' conference every year to get teaching like you're about to hear. So let's get into these lessons for a modern day disciple with John's message titled, The Transforming Effect of Loving Christ.

Here again is John MacArthur. Not too long ago, I completed preaching through the gospel of John. For 116 weeks, I prepared hour upon hour, day upon day, and preached maybe a tenth of what was in my heart at the end of each week of study. I lived for 116 weeks in the gospel of John in the glory of Christ. Somebody said to me when I finished the gospel of John, "'But don't you feel good that it's over?'

I said, no. I really feel sad that it's over." Day after day I saw His glory, and I can't count how many messages this week came from the gospel of John. John records His marvelous words, His miraculous works, culminating in His death and His bodily resurrection, followed by His appearances. And John brings his gospel to its great climax.

Open your Bible to the 20th chapter, verses 30 and 31. And John sums it all up by saying, therefore, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples. In fact, there were so many that in the last verse of John, He actually says the world couldn't contain the books that could be written on everything He did. Many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, but these have been written, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. The gospel of John is to provide evidence for the deity and messiahship of Jesus Christ, evidence that leads you to believe and have eternal life. That's the high point of the gospel of John. And when I hit that verse, I thought, that should be the end, that should be the end. But it isn't. From the heights of that elevated summation of the evidential and evangelistic purposes of the gospel of John, from that elevated glorious revelation of the risen Christ, we come to chapter 21, and it's like being dropped off a cliff and landing with a thud.

It's a crashing descent. In fact, the contrast is so jolting that some have suggested John didn't even write it. And to make it worse, we run right smack into Peter again.

What a pain. Can't we just end with Christ? Why do we have to go back to Peter?

This is a very disappointing narrative at first. Do we really need this? Can't we just go flying into the book of Acts and to the ascension and to the day of Pentecost and see that Peter? Why do we need this one? There's an answer to that. It's because with all the glory that has come through to the end of chapter 20, eventually that glory ends up in clay pots.

This is for us. This has to be part of the story. Peter did enough things to lose his ordination papers, occasionally speaks for the devil, occasionally pulls Jesus aside and tells him what to do. And when it gets tough, he denies and denies and denies that he ever knows the Lord, and then swears, oh, that's great stuff for a minister. The thud takes place in the first three words of verse 1, after these things. Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter and Thomas called Didymus the twin, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee would be James and John, two other disciples, Philip and Andrew. What you've got here is all the people who were in the fishing business. These are all the Galilean fishermen, and you can throw in Thomas.

Pretty startling here. Simon Peter said to them, I'm going fishing. You say, well, everybody in the ministry needs recreation. No.

This is not about grabbing a rod and a hook on a sunny day and enjoying recreation. The Lord had told them, Matthew 28 and 16, go to Galilee, to a mountain that I tell you, and wait for Me there for further orders. I'll be there. You wait.

I'll give the commission, and you'll know what's next. In a predictable, impulsive, disappointing move, Peter decides to go back to his former career. And he is a leader, and like a bunch of rubber ducks, all the rest of the fishermen go after him. I'm going fishing. In the original, there's a finality in that statement. This is not recreation. This is going back to his old life.

How do we know that? They went out, verse 3 says, they got into the boat, not a boat, and certainly not standing on the shore throwing a hook in the water. They went back to the boat, definite article.

They were back in their own area, and they went back to their own boat, Peter's boat perhaps. This is a boat big enough for all of them. This is not a recreational boat.

This is a fishing boat. And they took nets, and you don't use nets for recreational fishing. And in verse 7 it says Peter stripped down to a loincloth. He went back to work.

Verse 8 says they were a hundred yards out. They weren't just wanting to enjoy a nibble or two. Why does Peter do this? Why does he say, I'm going back to fishing? Hasn't he seen the risen Christ? Yes, yes. Why is he going back to fishing?

I think the answer is pretty simple. He had absolutely no confidence in himself. He was a proven failure. One minute he could be serving the Lord, and the next minute the devil. He could say, I'll follow you even to death. And then when all he had to do was confess Christ, he would deny him and deny him and deny him and deny him to irrelevant people in the dark. He had overestimated his wisdom, pompous way, bragged about his strength. He had underestimated the power of temptation. He openly declared that he could handle any severe threat and never waver in his loyalty to Jesus. That foolish boasting led him to blatant betrayal. At that part of the story we don't know if he's any different than Judas, full of self-doubt, sense of serious, overwhelming weakness, a history of failure, lack of trust in himself, inadequate.

I can't do this. I can't do this ministry, but I can fish. Let's go back to fishing, verse 4. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn't know it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, Children, you do not have any fish, do you? That is irritating, even if it's Jesus.

That is, you really don't need to punctuate that. And they said, No. This wasn't the first time this happened. This had happened earlier in Luke 5. And you remember on that occasion when Peter realized it was the Lord, what was his response? Lord, go away, for I am a sinful man.

Here he was again, the same sinful man in the presence of the same Son of God. And when the Lord said, You don't have any fish, do you? He was saying this, You can't fish anymore. I control the fish.

You can't catch fish. I called you to catch men. So, no, no, no. No, no, that was just a coincidence. Yeah, they were in a bad spot.

It was just a coincidence, really. Look at verse 6. He said to them, Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll find a catch. So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. There were no fish in the area. And when the Lord said to them, Try the right side of the boat. You know your instinct would be to say, What is he, crazy? Do you think we fished off one side or the boat stays in one spot?

What are you talking about? But the authority in his voice caused them to do what they did, even though at this point they didn't know who it was. So they cast the net on the right side of the boat.

He said, You'll find a catch. They cast. They weren't even able to haul the catch in because of the great number of fish. Therefore, the disciple whom Jesus loved, namely John, said to Peter, It is the Lord. This is the final miracle in the gospel of John. When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for the work, and threw himself into the sea.

This is so Peter, just so totally out of control and impulsive. He doesn't help the guys who are trying to haul in this massive amount of fish. He just dives in the water. While he's thrown himself into the sea, the other disciples came in the little boat, big enough to hold all of them, not far from land, about a hundred yards, dragging the net full of fish. They couldn't get it in the boat. So they're working like crazy to get the fish to the shore. Finally got to the land in verse 9, saw a charcoal fire already laid, and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus had made breakfast, and Jesus said, Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.

We'll add that. Simon Peter went up and threw the net to land full of large fish, 153. I love the number. It's an eyewitness account of the number, they counted them, and it's an indication this is a real miracle. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.

It's kind of a modest miracle, massive catch without tearing the net. Now that Peter and the others know, they can't fish anymore. That's the lesson. You can't fish. I control the fish. You can't fish for fish when, Matthew 4.19, you've been called to fish for men. And then the Lord does an amazing thing. He moves for the restoration of Peter and the others. Jesus said to them in verse 12, Come and have breakfast. None of the disciples ventured to question Him, Who are You?, knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise.

This was now the third time Jesus was manifested to the disciples after He was raised from the dead. I don't know what the conversation was like, but it must have been intense. There must have been some apologies. Sorry, Lord, we just didn't trust ourselves, and You weren't here, and we didn't know what we were waiting for. And, you know, we all ran. We all ran. We all scattered. We all fled when you were rested, and the only one who showed up at the cross was the one who leaned on your breast, and that was John, and the rest of us never showed up. And we're all guilty of defecting, and we're all weak, and we're all useless. And we just thought, well, we know how to do that, and we'll just go do that.

That's familiar to us. So how does Jesus, here's the question, how does Jesus disciple a disciple? How does Jesus restore a disobedient disciple? How does Jesus do biblical counseling? How does Jesus shepherd a wayward sheep? How does He pastor them? How does He lead them to sanctification and obedience? How does He recover them for usefulness? It must be a long and very complex process.

It's going to take months, if not years. How does He do it? How does Jesus disciple a disobedient disciple?

You ready? He asks him one question three times, do you love Me? I hear a lot about counseling, biblical counseling, discipleship. I've seen complexity.

How did Jesus disciple a disobedient, weak, vacillating disciple? Do you love Me? Shocking for its simplicity. There's no ambiguity in that, right? There's no ambiguity. There's no mystery.

Do you love Me? I was a little guy, grew up in a pastor's family, and I was writing kind of an afterword for a book that somebody wrote. It was wonderful, and I agreed to write an afterword, plus it would be a little bit of personal reminiscing, my own kind of spiritual history. And I was thinking back about when I was a little kid and a teenager, a young man, and all I can remember was that everybody said, you need to believe in Jesus Christ, you need to believe in Jesus Christ. That was how it was, you need to believe in Jesus Christ. I was taught that from a child in the home in Sunday school, you need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. As I got a little older, people began to say, you need to serve the Lord. You need to serve the Lord, you need to do something. It wasn't really biblically qualified or defined, you just needed to serve the Lord, that was what you did. And then a little later, the emphasis was, you need to witness for the Lord. So you need to believe the Lord, and you need to serve the Lord, and you need to witness for the Lord. So I'm in high school, and I'm believing, and I'm serving, and sometimes I'm going down to central L.A. in the middle of the park in the middle of the city, and I'm trying to witness for the Lord, but I'm not really, not really experiencing any sanctifying power in my life. And finally I was told when I got into college that if I wanted power in my life, I needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And then it was always described as, you know, being continually kept filled with the Holy Spirit. And that was a passive kind of instruction.

So okay, I'm here, I think I'm open, go ahead, fill me. I was exposed to a lot of higher life, deeper life, Keswick, let go, let God shifted me into a passive mode waiting for something to happen to me, which left me struggling for sanctification. I began to understand when I came across 2 Corinthians 3, 18, as you gaze at His glory, you're changed into His image by the Holy Spirit.

That's not passive, that's aggressively active. And I began to realize that my sanctification was dependent not on creating a vacuum which the Holy Spirit would fill, but on the relentless pursuit of the knowledge of the glory of Christ. I said, there's only one way to do that, I've got to go to the gospels. And so for eight or nine years I taught Matthew, eight or nine or ten years I taught Luke, several years I taught Mark, John. All I wanted to do was gaze at the glory of Christ. I went to Hebrews, I taught Hebrews, I went to Revelation, taught Revelation, a few years later taught it all over again. Went to Romans, taught Romans, a few years later taught Romans over again. When I finished the New Testament, I did a whole series on finding Christ in the Old Testament. I just couldn't let go of Christ. I don't know what you've been taught, I don't know what you've been told about sanctification, but I will tell you this, the clear word of Scripture is that your sanctification is directly related to your pursuit of the knowledge of Christ in all His glory.

It's not passive. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. The word, the revelation concerning Christ, let it dwell in you richly.

And then I got to the end of John's gospel the first time through, and I saw this, and I was just amazed at the simplicity of what our Lord said to recover and restore the most critical disciple of the bunch for the early church. He only asked me one question, do you love Me? Have you seen enough and heard enough to love Me? I'd always known I needed to believe in Him, and serve Him, and witness for Him.

I don't think I ever thought about loving Him. But then I should have, because what is the first and great commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. Deuteronomy 6, Matthew 22, 37, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. That's the first and great commandment, and God has come to us in Christ. That applies to Christ. What does God want from me on behalf of Christ?

He wants me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. That's the Christian life. It's all tied to loving the Lord Jesus with all your faculties. First Corinthians 16, 22 says that anybody who doesn't love the Lord is anathema, damned. If you're damned for not loving the Lord, then the opposite of that is being given eternal life, which is defined as loving the Lord. The motive for all your sanctification and the motive for all your service is this simple – do you love Me?

So let's look at the conversation. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter – Simon, He always called him by his old name when he was acting like his old self – Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Do you love Me? Always the question for a disobedient believer.

Go right to the heart. Do you love Me more than these? You mean more than these other disciples?

That wouldn't work. They were as guilty as he was. They all defected. They all went back to fishing.

They were equally disobedient. No. Do you love Me more than these boats and nets and corks and weights and anchors and trappings of your former life? Do you love Me more than the stuff that made up your life? Which is like saying, if any man will come after Me, let him – what? – deny himself.

You've got to let go of everything that made up your life. He uses the word agapao, the highest, noblest love of the will. Do you love Me more than these things? Do you love Me more than anything in this world? Matthew 10, 37, He said, He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. If you love your own life, the life that you have created more than Me, you're not worthy of Me.

He's saying, Do you love Me enough to deny yourself? John Calvin said, No man will steadily persevere in the discharge of ministry unless love for Christ reigns in his heart. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. He calls his current study, Lessons for a Modern Day Disciple. It's a series of messages on how to serve Christ effectively in 2023. And friend, if you're looking for more resources that will help you strengthen your service to Christ and the church, I encourage you to pick up the MacArthur Study Bible or one of John's New Testament commentaries. These are great tools for digging deep into God's Word, and for a limited time, the prices have been marked down 25 percent.

So contact us today. Our phone number here is 855-GRACE, and you can also go to the website The Study Bible is available in three English versions with multiple binding options to choose from, and John's commentaries cover every New Testament book. Again, to order the MacArthur Study Bible or individual commentary volumes at 25 percent off the regular price, call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to And friend, thank you so much for supporting Grace to You by praying for us. That really is your most important ministry to us. Pray for John as he continues to study and preach from God's Word week after week, and pray that God would use our verse-by-verse teaching to encourage and equip the people of God.

And if you've benefited from Grace to You, would you please let us know? You can write us here at Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Or to get in touch with us even faster, you can email us at letters at That's letters at Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today, and be back tomorrow for another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-05 06:09:26 / 2023-06-05 06:19:28 / 10

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