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PETER UNDER CONVICTION

A sermon written Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
with material by Dr. C. L. Cagan
Preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 14, 2019

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).


The night before Jesus was crucified He took His Disciples to “a large upper room” (Luke 22:12) where they ate the Passover meal together. At the end of the meal Jesus took bread and a cup and instituted the Lord’s Supper. Jesus then told them that “one of you shall betray me” (Matthew 26:21). Then Judas “went immediately out: and it was night” (John 13:30). A few minutes later the Disciples once again quarreled over “which of them should be greatest” (cf. Luke 9:46). Dr. McGee said, “Can you imagine that? Right in the shadow of the cross these men were grasping for position” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 345; note on Luke 22:24).

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They still did not understand that Jesus was going to the Cross, even though He had told them about it five times in the Gospel of Matthew (16:21; 17:12; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 20:28). In other words, they did not believe the Gospel! I agree with Dr. McGee that the Disciples were not born again (regenerated) until they encountered the resurrected Christ on Easter evening (note on John 20:21). (Click here to read Dr. Hymers’ sermons – “The Fear of the Disciples,” “This Saying Was Hid From Them” and “The Conversion of Peter.”)

The Disciples were arguing about who would be “accounted the greatest.” Then Jesus spoke to Simon Peter,

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me” (Luke 22:31-34).

Jesus said, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” But Peter did not think he needed to be converted! I believe it’s a mistake to think that Christ wasn’t speaking about Peter's conversion. He was not converted until Christ appeared to him and the other Disciples, and breathed the Holy Spirit into them on the evening that He rose from the dead (cf. John 20:22). Concerning this event Dr. McGee said that was when “these men were regenerated” (Thru the Bible, volume IV, note on John 20:22). I think we need to read this with “new eyes” in this time of “decisionism.”

Peter was very confident when he said, “I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” He was sure of himself, but he denied Christ three times that night. Jesus knew Peter couldn’t stand firm for Christ in his unconverted state. Jesus said to him, “I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” The lesson is this: you are not going to be able to stand against Satan until you are regenerated and converted!

Then Jesus took the Disciples out of the upper room into the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane where, “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). When Jesus came back from this lonely prayer, He found the Disciples asleep. While He was speaking to them, the temple police, led by Judas the traitor, sprang into the Garden and arrested Jesus. They hauled Jesus away to the high priest’s house, “And Peter followed afar off” (Luke 22:54). A fire was kindled outside the high priest’s residence. Peter sat down by the fire with a group of people. Then a young girl said, “This man was also with [Jesus]” (Luke 22:56). Peter denied Jesus by saying, “Woman, I know him not” (Luke 22:57). A little later another person saw Peter and said, “Thou art also of them” – you are one of Jesus’ Disciples – “And Peter said, Man, I am not” (Luke 22:58). About an hour later another man said, “Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean” (Luke 22:59). And Peter said, “Man, I know not what thou sayest” (Luke 22:60). “Then began [Peter] to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man” (Matthew 26:74).

“And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62).

Here is our text, “And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” Peter was under conviction. Three lessons can be drawn from this – first, the depth of Peter’s conviction; second, the cause of his conviction; and third, the cure for his conviction.

I. First, the depth of Peter’s conviction.

Peter’s guilt was undeniable. There was no excuse for Peter. There was no way for him to explain himself. There was no way to soften his guilt. He had denied Christ three times. Jesus was arrested and brought before the high priest. In the crowd, Peter said, “I don’t know him.” “I don’t know what you’re saying.” “I am not His disciple.” (See Luke 22:57, 58, 60; Matthew 26:74). There could be no “explanation.” It was as clear as clear can be. The rooster’s crow brought it all back to Peter. Then Jesus looked at him. The guilt of his sin struck him to the bone. Peter made no excuses. He was a broken man. He was lost. He was ruined. He was undone. He was at the end of himself. He was “finished.” Do you feel that way? You are a sinner just as Peter was. Look at your selfish, sinful heart. Your sin is wicked and deadly enough to condemn your soul forever. Do you feel lost, ruined, undone, finished? Or do you just sit in your chair?

Peter wasn’t sorry for himself like so many today. He wasn’t like Cain, who complained, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13). He wasn’t like many children, who cry to get someone to come and say, “There, there, it isn’t so bad.” It was so bad. Peter expected no comfort. He received none. He deserved none. Peter’s conviction was like that of the thief on the cross, who said, “We receive the due reward of our deeds” (Luke 23:41). Like that thief, Peter deserved everything he got.

Peter’s conviction was not just thoughts and words. It was deep and thorough. Today most people have a light mental conviction if they have any at all. They say, “Sure, I’m a sinner. I’ve done things that are wrong.” They say it because they’re supposed to, but they don’t feel anything. It doesn’t strike them to the heart. It doesn’t make them break down and cry. And it doesn’t lead to salvation. But Peter “went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). He deeply sobbed and cried with bitter tears. He was a broken man. He was a guilty sinner through and through. There was no way to make it easier for him. He was just plain wicked. Even crying would not take his sin away – but he cried anyway, because his guilt was so deep. He “wept bitterly,” not expecting to feel better or get some relief, but just because he was a guilty sinner.

Look at your own sin. Haven’t you broken God’s law? Isn’t there evil in your heart? Haven’t you been selfish? Haven’t you neglected your salvation? Haven’t you sent Jesus away for “another day” again and again?

Then do you feel, at least to some extent, the conviction that Peter felt? Or is it just a matter of thoughts and words? Do you offer an excuse or explanation to make it softer, even partly? Do you feel sorry for yourself? Do you hope for comfort? I fear that your “conviction” is what I just said. If your “conviction” is any of those things, it is not what Peter had. And it will not point you to salvation!

II. Second, the cause of Peter’s conviction.

Here we see Peter under conviction of sin. Dr. A. T. Robertson said, “He burst into tears. ‘Bitter’ is a common expression for tears in all languages and in all hearts” (A. T. Robertson, Litt.D., Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman Press, 1930, volume II, p. 276; note on Luke 22:62).

Dr. R. C. H. Lenski said, “Matthew and Luke [describe Peter’s] repentance with two words [eklause pikrōs], the verb denotes loud, audible weeping: ‘he sobbed bitterly.’ The adverb refers, not to the physical sobbing, but to the bitterness of the contrition that is back of it. Contrition includes the realization that we have sinned and the consequent genuine sorrow for our sin” (R. C. H. Lenski, Ph.D., The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, Augsburg Publishing House, 1961 edition, p. 1091; note on Luke 22:62).

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

That was godly sorrow,

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (II Corinthians 7:10).

Where did he get this conviction? It was given to Peter by the Spirit of God. As Christ said,

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

Speaking on conviction of sin in general, Iain H. Murray said,

The Holy Ghost is come to convince of sin. It is absolutely necessary that man should be convinced of sin...[The Holy Spirit] comes on purpose to convince of sin, to make men feel that they are guilty, greatly guilty – so guilty that they are lost, ruined and undone. He comes to make sin appear sin, and to let us see [sin’s] fearful consequences. He comes to wound so that no human balm can heal; to kill so that no earthly power can make us live...There is a withering work of the Holy Spirit which we must experience, or we shall never know his quickening and restoring power. This withering is a most needful experience, and just now needs to be much insisted on. Today we have so many built up who were never pulled down; so many filled who were never emptied; so many exalted who were never humbled; that I the more earnestly remind you that the Holy Ghost must convince [you] of sin, or [you] cannot be saved. This work [of conviction] is most necessary, because without it there is no leading men to receive the Gospel of the grace of God...There is urgent need today for the recovery of the truth about conversion. A widespread controversy on this subject would be a healthy wind to blow away a thousand lesser things. A renewed fear of God would end much worldly thinking... (Iain H. Murray, The Old Evangelicalism, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005 edition, pp. 66-67).

Click here to read Dr. Hymers’ sermon, “The Withering Work of the Spirit.”

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

I believe that this was when Peter came under old-evangelical conviction of sin. Yes, I know that much earlier Peter had said to Jesus, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). But it is one thing to think that you are sinful, and it is an entirely different thing to feel the terrible weight of your sin before the face of a holy God! I am convinced that Peter was not thoroughly convicted until this time.

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

Not everyone weeps physical tears when he is converted. Yet Luther, and Bunyan, and Whitefield, and Wesley, and many thousands of people in times of revival have physically wept bitter tears. And I think one of the great things missing in today’s evangelism is the lack of any tears, and the lack of “godly sorrow [which] worketh repentance to salvation” (II Corinthians 7:10).

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

Someone says, “I know I am a sinner.” Ah, “knowing” that is one thing! But do you feel your sinfulness? Are you convicted of the sin of your heart? Does it weigh you down and “wither” you, as Iain Murray said? Are you laboring and heavy laden under the burden of conviction of sin? Can you at least feel sadness in your heart, as Peter did, when you think of your sin? Have you wept bitter tears as Peter did?

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

The cause of Peter’s conviction was the Spirit of God.

III. Third, the cure for Peter’s conviction.

Peter remained in a state of conviction for three days. He was in great turmoil of soul on Friday, Saturday and nearly all of Sunday (by Roman calculation). On Easter Sunday morning,

“Peter...ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:12).

Peter was still “wondering”; still he did not fully understand or believe the Gospel.

I believe it was when the risen Christ appeared to the eleven Disciples and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22), that Peter was finally born again and converted. Dr. McGee gave this comment on John 20:22,

I personally believe that at the moment our Lord breathed on them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” these men were regenerated [born again]. Before this, they had not been indwelt by the Spirit of God (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., ibid., p. 498; note on John 20:22).

Like Dr. McGee, I believe that Peter was born again on Easter Sunday evening when Christ appeared to him and the others. It was then that Jesus Himself cured Peter’s conviction of sin.

Do you feel the weight of your sin? Has conviction of sin weighed you down and burdened you? Do you want to have your sin cleansed by the precious Blood of Christ?

The second stanza of Dr. John R. Rice’s gospel song, “Jesus, Only Jesus” could have been written by Peter!

My boasted goodness failed me, No cure for sin that ailed me,
   God’s Spirit then prevailed me To leave my sins on Jesus.
My sins are all forgiven, The chains of sin are riven,
   And all my heart is given, To Jesus, only Jesus.
(“Jesus, Only Jesus” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

If you feel sad and convicted of your sinful heart, and your sinful nature, the only cure is Jesus. As Dr. Rice said, “leave [your] sins on Jesus.” If you would like to speak with me about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“Jesus, Only Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

PETER UNDER CONVICTION

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
with material by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

(Luke 22:12; Matthew 26:21; John 13:30; Luke 9:46;
Matthew 16:21; 17:12; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 20:28;
Luke 22:31-34, 44, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60;
Matthew 26:74; Luke 22:60-62)

I.    First, the depth of Peter’s conviction, Luke 22:57, 58, 60;
Matthew 26:74; Genesis 4:13; Luke 23:41.

II.   Second, the cause of Peter’s conviction, II Corinthians 7:10;
John 16:8; Luke 5:8.

III.  Third, the cure for Peter’s conviction, Luke 24:12;
John 20:22.