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The Transforming Effect of Loving Christ B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 6, 2023 4:00 am

The Transforming Effect of Loving Christ B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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June 6, 2023 4:00 am

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Peter has gone from being a disciple who needed to be discipled, to becoming our teacher, our inspired teacher, telling us to shepherd the flock of God, because though you have not seen Him, you what?

Love Him. How do you help someone you love serve the Lord more effectively? The best place to look is the example of Christ Himself. How did He lead and teach His disciples? Consider that today on Grace To You as John MacArthur looks at the transforming effect of loving Christ.

It's part of his series, Lessons For A Modern-Day Disciple. But before we get to this look at the transforming effect of loving the Lord Jesus Christ, we received a couple of letters from listeners who have experienced the transforming effects of studying the Word of God verse by verse. So, John, these are brief letters, but the stories are very encouraging. So take a few minutes here and share these with our listeners. Yeah, thanks, Phil.

The first letter comes from Michael, and he says, Thanks to you. I am recovering from a life in works religion. I've been listening to your grace stream for about five years now, and it has completely changed my life. Your teaching has opened my eyes to so many things.

I never knew how blind I actually was. I'm forever grateful for your clear interpretation of God's Word. Pastor John, thank you, and may God continue to bless you tremendously.

Wow, that's great. You know, grace stream is a continuous loop of all of your sermons. We start at Matthew chapter 1 and go through the end of the book of Revelation nonstop. It takes weeks to do it, and then it just starts all over again. So people jump in at any point. It's interesting.

He's been doing that for five years. Yeah, and that would be quite an education over five years, and it's a good opportunity for those of you who haven't gone into the grace stream to do it next time you come on the website. And the second letter from Caitlin, I am very grateful for your dedication to serving our Lord. Your radio messages have impacted my mother's salvation greatly. She was raised in works religion, and God used your teaching to open her heart to his truth. She is completely a new person in Christ. My thanks to God for changing her, and my thanks to you for helping her understand God's truth.

We both are greatly enriched by your teaching, signed Caitlin. So these notes give us a glimpse of the power of the Word of God. I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation. And we see that in a daily way through the ministry of grace to you. Grace to you is reaching people right where they are, right where they need us, through the radio program, through grace stream, as well as the Grace to You app, the Study Bible app, television broadcasts, free books and booklets that we mail out by the thousands every month, and more. And we know we cannot do any of this without your prayerful support, so we thank you for standing with us. Thanks for remembering our ministry and the people we are reaching with biblical truth every day. Thank you for bringing us before the Lord in your prayers. Yes, thank you, friend, because you play a crucial role in this ministry. We're bringing biblical truth to people trapped in false religions, and we're making resources like Grace Stream available free of charge every day because of your generosity.

So thank you for your faithfulness. And now follow along with John MacArthur as he continues his study called Lessons for a Modern-Day Disciple. 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. 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. So how does Jesus, here's the question, how does Jesus disciple a disciple? How does Jesus restore a disobedient disciple?

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? 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? I think Peter must have been very sorrowful. He said to him, verse 15, yes, Lord, you know that I love you. But he changed the word.

He didn't use agapao, the highest, noblest love of the will. He dropped it down a notch. He said, I love you, and he used phileo, which simply means warm affection.

I like you a lot. Why did he do that? Because he was exposed, he was guilty, he was broken, he was humbled. He would have been a fool to say, I love you at the highest, noblest level. He couldn't say that.

He says, Lord, you know, you know that I like you a lot. You say, that's a sad admission. Well, isn't it kind of sad to have to depend on omniscience? I mean, it isn't even obvious you've got a call on omniscience? He didn't say, Lord, you've seen my life. Isn't it obvious?

No. He said, I have to call on your omniscience, and you know that I have deep affection for you. Let me tell you something. I think that moment was a moment of blessing. I think it's a blessing when the Lord knows everything, and He knows that we love Him, even when it's not obvious.

I'll say it another way. I'm glad that the Lord knows the things I desperately want Him to know, and that is such a blessing to me. I'm okay if He knows the things I really don't want Him to know. I need Him to know I love Him, because sometimes it's not obvious. He knows I love Him truly. I don't love Him as I should.

My love isn't everything it should be, but it's real. That's what Peter's saying, amazingly. I mean, this is amazing. The Lord says to him, Basque my lambs, shepherd my lambs. This is His ordination. You're accepted.

Really. After all the ridiculous things that Peter has done, and here's just previous to this, another evidence of his impulsive disobedience, he puts him right back in the ministry, feed my lambs. And I would just tell you to look at the pronoun here, personal pronoun. They're mine, and I'm turning them over to you. With far less than perfect love the Lord deserves and desires, with love lower in quality than the Lord receives from all those who are around Him in heaven, Peter is restored to the ministry with a love that isn't even visible to anyone except the Lord in His omniscience. Feed my lambs, my little ones, young, tender, weak, vulnerable, prone to wander, prone to stray. I'm putting them in Your hands.

You know, when I think about that, I think about John 17 where our Lord, in praying to His Father, says, I'm going to the cross. Father, I guarded them. Now when I go to the cross, I'm giving them to You to keep. When He couldn't care for them, He turned them over to His Father, and nothing could ever take them out of His Father's hand.

But here's the wonder of wonders. He turned them over to Peter, my little lambs. I said to him a second time in verse 16, Simon, son of John, or Jonas, do you love me?

Agapao. He said to him, yes, Lord, you know that I love you. And he said, okay.

Poimino, shepherd my sheep. Third time. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? And this time he dropped down to Peter's word, and he questioned even the lower level love that Peter thought he could get away with.

Do you really have strong affection for me? This really hurt. This probes into Peter's heart. This is a spiritual biopsy, cuts some of Peter's soul open. And Peter was grieved, lupao, to have a pain, a deep pain or grief in the heart, not because it was the third time. He needed three times. After all, he had denied the Lord three times.

It wasn't because it was the third time. It was because the third time the Lord questioned even the love that he thought he could get by with. And again he calls on omniscience. He said to him, Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you. Jesus said to him, tend my sheep.

It's always clay pots, isn't it? With all our flaws and all our failures, all he asks out of us is that in his omniscience he knows our love is not perfect, but it's real. It's real. Now this love has a cost. Verse 18, okay, Peter, you love me? Truly, truly, I say to you.

Twenty-five times in the gospel of John we have that little formula, meaning something very important. This is a verbal call to attention. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger you used to gird yourself, put on your own clothes, walk wherever you wished, did what you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands. What in the world does that mean? It's a euphemism for crucifixion.

When you're old, you're going to stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you and bring you where you do not wish to go. How do you know it's his crucifixion? Because the next statement is, he said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. History tells us he was crucified. Deny yourself, and then what? Take up your cross. This is a living illustration of Luke 9 23. Peter, you will be arrested and you will be executed by crucifixion. You will be a martyr.

Welcome back into the ministry. Remember when I told you if they hated me, they will hate you? Say, oh Lord, give the guy a break. What are you telling him that for? Do you want to live your whole life thinking around every corner is your crucifixion? Why did you tell him that? I think it was the best news Peter ever heard in his life.

What? Yeah, because what it told Peter is this, the next time you face death for me, you will not deny me. I think he lived in the triumph of that promise. That's the best news he ever heard. That steeled him for the future. And then on the day of Pentecost, he was given the fullness of the Spirit, and he was dynamite, right down to being crucified.

And when he was to be crucified, he didn't think he was worthy to be crucified like his Lord, so he asked to be crucified upside down. Can you imagine him saying, I'm not going to fail again. When it happens, I'm not going to fail again.

I'm not going to fail. He had no confidence in himself. He had no history of faithfulness.

In the face of danger, he was a disaster. The promise that he would face death triumphantly and die was the best news he could have ever heard. This is like Luke 14, 26, if any man comes after me and doesn't hate his own life, he can't be my disciple. Do you love me? Do you love me enough to deny yourself? Do you love me enough to take up a cross if that's what I ask? Do you love me that much?

There's one other component. This is love that not only demands a sacrifice, but it demands obedience. Look at verse 19 again. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, follow me.

Again, those are the three components of Luke 9, 23. Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow me. That's what it means to be a disciple. He says, follow me. Love that sacrifices in the face of death is love that obeys in life. But like everything else with Peter, everything is hard, everything.

Verse 20, the Lord says, follow me. Next statement, Peter turning around, give me a break. This is impossible. Give, move down one notch to Andrew or somebody else.

Are you kidding me? He turns around. He can't take one step following, and he saw the disciple whom Jesus loved. John never calls himself by his name. Why would he when he can call himself the disciple whom Jesus loved? He turns around and he sees John, the one who not only is the disciple whom Jesus loved, but who also leaned back on his bosom at the supper and said, Lord, who is the one who betrays you? John just, he can't get over the fact of the privileges that have been given to him to be next to Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. So Peter turns around, sees John, and he says, Lord, verse 21, what about him?

I mean, this is remediation beyond comprehension. And then you have really one of the funniest statements, and Jesus didn't say a lot of funny things, but this is funny. He says, if I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?

If he lives to the second coming, it's none of your business. That's called hyperbole. That's not only hyperbole, that's sarcasm. That is dripping sarcasm. I mean, and that's what you say when you finally become so exasperated with your kids that you resort to dripping, hyperbolic sarcasm. My dad used to say to me, you will never amount to a hill of beans. My dad was not into elevating self-image. Amounting to a hill of beans had nothing to do with what I was doing.

I wasn't working with beans or anything like that. It was just a hyperbolic, sarcastic way to get a frustrated point across about my lack of quality, behavior. What about him? I'm going to die, right?

I'm going to die. What about him? I'm telling you, Peter is a constant project. It's irrelevant, Jesus says. It is irrelevant if I want him to live till the second coming. And so, of course, the rumor went out.

You know what I heard? John is going to live till the second coming. The saying went out among the brethren, verse 23, that the disciple would not die. Yet Jesus didn't say to him that he wouldn't die, only that if I want him to remain until I come. What is that to you?

Irrelevant. Well, they became buddies, didn't they, Peter and John? From Acts 2 to 11, John didn't say anything. Peter did all his preaching. You say, well, maybe John didn't have anything to say. Oh, yeah, he did. When they finally opened his mouth, Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, the book of Revelation.

So he was holding it in. So this is emphatic, the statement that our Lord gives in the original. You follow Me. You, verse 22, you follow Me.

Forget about anybody else. Again, this is Luke 9, 23, deny yourself, face death, follow Me. John did die thirty years after Peter by the end of the first century, most likely on the island of Patmos, thirty years really after both Peter and Paul were martyred. So the Gospel of John, the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, rich, exalted, theological, profound, presenting the Son of God as the I Am, demonstrating His glorious deity by words and works, leading to the massive, glorious conclusion of chapter 20, verses 30 and 31, many other signs Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. But these have been written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name. That glorious conclusion is where the gospel reaches its zenith. We tumble from the end of chapter 20, from the pristine heights of glory, down to the difficulty of putting this glory in earthen vessels.

That's us. And all the Lord asks is this, do you what? Love Me. I'll accept less than a perfect love, but not less than a real love.

The benediction at the end of Ephesians, grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. That's not the nature of the...that's not the elevation of the love, that's the nature of the love. It's a real love.

It's an incorruptible love. If you love Me, do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Go feed My lambs. Go feed My sheep. Deny yourself.

Love Me. Be willing to die, if that's in the plan, out of love for Me. Live obediently, and that is in the plan, loving Me. Peter learned his lessons. Turn to 1 Peter 5, and that's where we'll wrap up. 1 Peter 5. Now Peter's going to talk to us as a faithful shepherd. I'm glad he finally got here, aren't you? Peter writes, "'Therefore I exhort the elders among you.'"

That's us. "'As your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you.'" You know what he's doing? He's repeating exactly what Jesus said to him three times. "'Exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, not for sarted gain, but with eagerness, not yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.'" Peter has gone from being a disciple who needed to be discipled, to becoming our teacher, our inspired teacher, telling us to shepherd the flock of God. "'Because though you have not seen Him, you,' what? "'love Him.'"

I love how Peter closes his letter. "'Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ. Our Father, we come to you with such gratitude, thankfulness. We don't deserve to be in this ministry. You started with saying it's a mercy, it's a mercy, and we fall so short. And yet if we love you not with a perfect love, but with an incorruptible love, that's enough. We come down from the heights of the glories of Christ, and it's all been deposited in us clay pots, the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ in a clay pot.'"

Such a paradox. But then of course the explanation for our ministry can never be us, it can only be you. We love you, we want to love you more, increase our love. May we never, ever, ever stop searching to find your glory everywhere it is revealed, so that we by the work of the Holy Spirit can be changed into your image from one level of glory and moved toward that highest of all commands to love you, our Lord, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That's our prayer. We ask these things for your glory alone.

Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John's current study is showing you some of the most practical and important lessons for a modern-day disciple. Now earlier today, John read two letters from people whose lives have been transformed by Grace to You's verse-by-verse teaching.

Keep in mind, we're able to minister to those people and others just like them around the world because of the support of listeners like you. To play a strategic part in this gospel ministry, express your support today. Write to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. Or you can call us toll-free at 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, Please remember that giving to your local church comes first.

We affirm that. But if Grace to You has made a significant difference in your life, if you can think of specific ways we've helped you grow spiritually, prayerfully consider making a donation to our ministry. You can just call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to And turning the corner a bit, keep in mind that nearly every resource Grace to You sells is currently available at 25% off the regular price. That includes our Spanish books and Grace to You's flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible, also John's 34 New Testament commentaries, and much more. To take advantage of the sale prices, go to our website,, or call us at 800-55-GRACE.

And keep in mind the sale ends Thursday, so you'd better order soon. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for listening today and be here again tomorrow to find out what makes Peter's betrayal of Jesus different from Judas' betrayal. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-06 05:54:07 / 2023-06-06 06:03:27 / 9

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