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CHRIST REVEALED SUPERNATURALLY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, January 19, 2014

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-18).


The word “church” is used here for the first time in the New Testament. In these verses Christ said, “I will build my church.” He said that right after asking, “Whom do men say that I...am?” (Matthew 16:13). That is highly important. You cannot be a real member of the church unless you know who Christ is for yourself. If you don’t know Christ you cannot be a productive member of the local church.

A certain young man sent me an e-mail last Wednesday. It was quite a long e-mail. He told me that he had been in our church in the early 1980s. He said he left after a few years. But as I read what he wrote, I could tell that he did not know Christ. He had nothing personal to say about Christ. When I read what he wrote I thought, “No wonder he left our church!” No one can be a good church member without first knowing Jesus Christ! I don’t mean knowing about Him! Not at all! I mean knowing Him! He is a real person, and you can really know Him! But if you only know about Him you will never, ever be a good church member! When Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ,” Jesus said the church would be built on that faith. The first question is not, “Do you belong to the church?” The first question is, “Whom say ye that I am?”

Don’t get me wrong. I did not say that church membership isn’t important. Campus Crusade and other para-church groups seem to say that. But I never, ever say that! Church membership is extremely important. But first you must know who Christ is by personal experience. Otherwise you will cause trouble in every church you attend – or you will become a “church tramp.” You will go from one to the other, without ever becoming a productive member of any church! So put it down as an axiom, a truism – If you don’t know Christ in reality, you can never be a fruitful, long-standing member of any church. Never! Never! Never! We have thousands of people in Southern California, running from one church to the other – never finding the “right” place. Spurgeon called them, “Birds of passage, which nest nowhere.” The real problem is that many of them have never been saved in the first place!

So Christ asked Peter who He was. When Peter gave the right answer, Jesus said God the Father had revealed it to him – and upon that faith and that revelation, the church of Christ would be built! The church is built on the God-given revelation of Christ to men and women like Peter! And make no mistake about it, Calvin was right when he said that no one can be saved who is not a member of the church. He affirmed the dictum of Cyprian, “There is no salvation outside the church.” And I agree with those two men. “There is no salvation outside the church.” We have swung so far the other way that it makes God sick at the stomach (Revelation 3:16)!!! When the Christians met in the catacombs, hiding from the pagan Romans, they knew more about church membership than most evangelicals do in America today!!!

If you don’t know Jesus Christ by a personal revelation, all you can do is “hang out” in the church for a while – and then drift away – with all the other lost people who did the same thing. I seriously question if any of them are saved! I mean it! What were they saved from? The Bible says,

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (I John 2:19).

Commenting on that verse, Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “John says that the way you can tell whether or not one is really a child of God is that eventually a man will show his true colors and will leave the assembly of God if he is not a child of God... ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us.’ That’s a harsh, cruel statement, but it happens to be a true statement. There are many who make professions of being Christians, but they are not really Christians” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, p. 777; note on I John 2:19).

Dr. John Gill added this comment, “They were not truly regenerated by the grace of God, and so apparently were not of the number of God’s elect: notwithstanding their profession and communion with the church, they were of the world, and not of God; they were not true believers” (John Gill, D.D,. An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, pp. 630, 631; note on I John 2:19).

In our passage Jesus said, “Whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Peter gave the right answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus said, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Then Jesus said that this supernaturally given revelation of who He is, this God-given revelation, this faith, would be the foundation of His church.

The main word in the passage is not “church” but “Christ.” Spurgeon said, “First Christ, the root, then the church, the outgrowth; first Christ, the builder, then the church, which is His building...If you know Christ...your connection with the true church, the church of God’s election and redemption, is clear and certain” (C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974 reprint, volume XXXIV, p. 481).

Jesus said to His Disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” They said that some thought He was John the Baptist or one of the prophets. Then Jesus said, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter gave the right answer, and Jesus said God the Father had revealed it to him.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

The things people in the world believe about Jesus bring no blessing to them. Everyone in the world has an opinion of who Jesus is. But they are not blest by those opinions. The blessing comes only to those who know Jesus because God has revealed Him to them. They, and they alone, are blest by God! “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). And it is this God-given revelation of Christ that qualifies you to be a member of His church! Without experiencing that revelation yourself, you will never become a real member of the church, but you will, “in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13).

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

There are two points that come out of that text.

I. First, the knowledge of Jesus that true Christians have is different from that of the world.

The true Christian is far more serious and personal when he thinks of Jesus. Lost people gave a quick, thoughtless answer – “He’s John the Baptist.” “He’s one of the prophets.” They didn’t think deeply or seriously about who He is. So, today, your college professor will give some flippant statement about Jesus – a quick answer that he hasn’t thought about seriously for even 10 minutes! Your lost friends will do the same. Ask them about Jesus. They’ll say, “Oh, yeah, Him” – not having spent 10 minutes in their whole lives thinking seriously about who He is.

The people of this world hardly think of Him at all. Christ is far from their minds. They don’t even think of Jesus on Christmas or Easter. Some think of Him as a spirit. Others think that He was a religious leader who lived long ago. Others think that He was confused and half-mad, or a troublemaker who should be disregarded.

The Hindus think of Him as an avatar, one of many who teach us. The Muslims think of Him as a mere prophet, who did not die to pay for our sins. The Mormons think that He is one of three separate gods. The Jehovah’s Witnesses think that He is a created being, inferior to God. The humanists think He was just a man, who has nothing to say to us today. The opinions of men change over time. Why? Because they do not know Him!

He can only be known by a special revelation of God. You cannot know Him by reading books, or even by listening to sermons. I would say, further, that you cannot know Him by reading the Bible. The Bible, by itself, can only give you facts concerning Jesus. Even if you believe those facts in the Bible, all you have are those facts. You still won’t know Him personally. The Bible points you to Christ, but the Bible is not Christ. We are told that “the holy scriptures...are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). To know Him, your faith must center in Jesus Christ Himself. That can only happen when God reveals Christ to you. Then it can be said of you, as well as Peter, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Only when you have an encounter with the living Christ will you be able to say with Paul,

“I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (II Timothy 1:12).

You’ll be able to sing about it!

“I know whom I have believed,
   And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
   Unto Him against that day.”
(“I Know Whom I Have Believed” by Daniel W. Whittle, 1840-1901).

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

II. Second, God does not reveal Christ to everyone.

You cannot know Jesus unless God reveals Him to you. But God does not reveal Jesus to everyone. That should be clear enough to us. Obviously, not everyone is a Christian. We bring literally hundreds of lost people here to church. Dr. Cagan estimates that we bring about 500 people from the world to our church every year. We don’t go after saved people. We evangelize the lost and we bring about 500 of them here each year to church to hear the Gospel preached. Out of the 500 only about 150 of them come back again. Only 3 or 4 of them ever get saved! These are not church people. They are lost people from the world. So, out of 500 of them, only 3 or 4 are ever saved. Dr. Cagan says that is about 1/2 to 1 percent who get saved. Of course I’m not talking about having them say a prayer. I’m talking about real, life-changing conversions. Actually that isn’t bad at all. Only four people in our church were saved before they came here – Dr. Cagan, Mr. Kunz, Mr. Prudhomme, and myself. Everyone else was saved here in our church! Yes, everyone else!

All the preachers who come to speak here tell us what a wonderful church this is. One missionary went so far as to say our church is “fabulous.” That’s because we emphasize a real “conversion,” rather than a cheap “decision.” Our people are rock-solid Christians. Why? Because they are built on Jesus, who is the rock! Jesus said,

“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

The “rock” is Christ Himself! “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Amen!

Some “decisionist” will say, Why are so few saved? Jesus gave the answer twice in the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 20:16 Jesus said, “Many be called, but few chosen.” Again, in Matthew 22:14, Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” We bring literally hundreds of people to church to hear the Gospel. We feed every one of them a lovely first-class meal. We treat them with great respect and great love. They almost always tell us what a wonderful experience they had with us – very positive and upbeat. Yet only 3 or 4 out of 500 come back long enough to be saved. Why? “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Someone may say, “Why, that’s high Calvinism!” Not really! That’s just what Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Simple! What Jesus said is literally true. Everyone who tries to build up a church without resorting to “transfer growth” knows that’s true. You can call it “Calvinism.” You can call it whatever you like. No matter what you call it – it is still a fact! “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

Why don’t more people get saved? I can’t answer that. In times of God-sent revival it happens. But we are not living in a time of God-sent revival! America is under God’s judgment. This is “Right to Life Sunday.” This nation has slaughtered 56 million of its own innocent babies in the Hitler-like American Holocaust. God is judging this nation for that sin. We have a man in the White House who is more like the Emperor Caligula or Nero than Abraham Lincoln or George Washington! That is a judgment from God. Half of this nation is choked and strangled in snow storms. The other half has experienced a drought so intense that the politicians are wringing their hands! And God has taken His hand off of our churches! Every major denomination has gone way down in membership. The churches are drying up because of God’s judgment. I think we are doing very well, by God’s grace, to get 4 or 5 unchurched people saved out of this God-forsaken city every year! We have added over 50 solid Christians from the world in the last few years. Most churches don’t even get one from the outside world! And all of our people come to the Sunday evening service! And all of our people tithe! And all of our people come to prayer meeting! All of them! And we have the largest ratio of young people of any church I know, as well!

“Many are called, but few are chosen.” How many people got saved in Israel while Jesus Christ was there in person? Did you ever think of that? It couldn’t have been more than 500 – in the whole country! Paul says there were 500 of them (I Corinthians 15:6). And that was with Jesus Himself preaching to them! “Many are called, but few are chosen” – very few! Will you be one of the very few who stays in our church and gets saved? Probably not. You will probably go back to the jungle – which is another name for Los Angeles. You will most probably not stay here long enough to absorb the Gospel, turn from sin, and become a real Christian. You say, “I will! I will be saved!” Well, we will see about that, won’t we?

I tell you once again – and I never tire of telling it – Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay the penalty for your sin. Jesus Christ rose physically, flesh and bone, from the grave to give you life. Trust Jesus and He will save you. Turn to Jesus. Leave the sins of the world behind you, and turn to Jesus Christ. He will save you for all time, and all eternity!

If you would like to speak with us about being saved, about becoming a real Christian, please leave your seat now and walk to the back of this auditorium. John Samuel Cagan will take you to another room where we can pray and talk. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will trust Jesus this morning. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 16:13-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Know Whom I Have Believed” (by Daniel W. Whittle, 1840-1901).


THE OUTLINE OF

CHRIST REVEALED SUPERNATURALLY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-18).

(Matthew 16:13; Revelation 3:16; I John 2:19;
Matthew 16:15, 16; Luke 8:13)

I.   First, the knowledge of Jesus that true Christians have is different
from that of the world, II Timothy 3:15; 1:12.

II.  Second, God does not reveal Christ to everyone, Matthew 20:16;
Matthew 22:14; I Corinthians 15:6.