Sermon #83†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† † Series: Matthew
††††††††††† Title:††† ††††††††††† PETERíS FALL AND RESTORATION
††††††††††† Text:††††††††††††††† Matthew 26:69-75
††††††††††† Reading:††††††† Office: Bobbie Estes†††† Aud: Buddy Daugherty
††††††††††† Subject:††††††††† The Believerís Need of Watchfulness, Prayer, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† and Grace
††††††††††† Date:†††††††††††††† Tuesday Evening - May 21, 1996
††††††††††† Tape #††††††††††† S-57
††††††††††† Matthew 26:69-75† "Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. (70) But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. (71) And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. (72) And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. (73) And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. (74) Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. (75) And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly."
††††††††††† The title of my message tonight is Peterís Fall and Restoration. The verses we have just read present us with a picture of Godís servant Peter which is both humbling and instructive. The fall of Peter is set before us as a beacon. It has many warnings and many lessons for us. Any careful reader of Godís Word cannot fail to notice that Peterís fall is recorded at considerable length by all four of the gospel writers. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were inspired to write out the details of this sad event. Yet, not one of them offers a word of excuse or explanation in defense of their friend and brother. This is one of those things which indirectly demonstrates the truthfulness of Holy Scripture. If this Book were nothing but the compositions of men, it would never have been written that the great apostle to the Jews was so weak and sinful that he shamefully denied his Lord and Master.
††††††††††† Try to picture that cold, bitter night, if you can. It was a most solemn occasion.
∑ The disciples had just eaten the Lordís Supper.
∑ The Lord Jesus had told his disciples plainly of his betrayal by Judas, his death as their Substitute, and the fact that all of them would forsake him.
∑ On this evening our Lord preached the message that is recorded in John 14 through 16.
∑ On this evening his disciples heard him offer up that great prayer of intercession as our Great High Priest that is recorded in John 17.
∑ Peter, James, and John had spent the evening with the Son of God in the Garden of Gethsemane.
∑ The soldiers came to arrest the Master.
∑ Judas betrayed the Son of God with a kiss.
∑ Peter risked his life to defend his Lord.
∑ Then, Peter denied him three times.
††††††††††† Why do you suppose that this record is given four times? Why were each of the evangelists inspired to tell the same sad story in such detail? Surely the Holy Spirit means for us to give it special attention. Here are four things which appear to me to be obvious reasons why so much attention is given to Peterís fall.
1. Peterís denial of the Lord Jesus must have greatly increased the pain and grief of our Saviorís sufferings.
2. The Holy Spirit here sits before us, in a most emphatic way, both the power and the immutability of Godís saving grace.
3. The divine Comforter knew that we would all be subject to the same temptations by which Peter was overcome.
4. Without a doubt, this fourfold record of Peterís fall is intended by God to be an instructive lesson for us concerning the frailty of the very best of men.
††††††††††† The Word of God does not tell us much even about the best of those men who lived in Bible times. The history of Godís saints is scanty. However, the Bible very particularly and meticulously records the faults of Godís elect. It seems that the Holy Spirit goes out of his way to remind us that the very best of men are only men at best. Peter was not the infallible bishop of Rome, as the papist pretend. He was a frail, fickle, fallible man. I cannot find that Peter and the pope have anything in common except the denial of Christ.
††††††††††† Peterís fall seems to say to each of us: - ďYou too are weak. You too will fall, if left to yourself. Do not rely upon your experiences or the firmness of your faith. If you do, you will surely fall. Christ alone can hold you up.Ē
My friends, as we care for our souls and the honor of our God, let us never cease to be prayerfully watchful over our souls, ever seeking grace from God to keep us from the evil that is in us.
††††††††††† I want to magnify and honor my Lord in my life. I want to live for the honor and glory of Christ. I know that all of you who know the Lord want the same thing. My heart shudders and trembles at the thought of bringing reproach upon the name of our blessed Redeemer. Yet, I know this: - Unless the Lord himself preserves me, I will surely profane his name; and the same thing is true of you.
As we meditate upon this sad, sad event in the life of Godís servant Peter, I want to direct your attention to four things.
1. The Circumstances of Peterís Fall.
2. The Means of Peterís Recovery.
3. The Signs of Peterís Restoration
4. The Lessons for Us Today.
I. To begin, I want us to consider THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF PETERíS FALL.
††††††††††† We are not considering the fall of a lost hypocrite or an apostate. Peter was not a lost man, but a saved man, even when he fell. Not only was he a saved man, he was an apostle of Christ, a gospel preacher, a man who truly loved the Lord Jesus. Peter was a true believer, a child of grace, pardoned and accepted in Christ. He was a man of strong faith, firm conviction, and unrelenting zeal. But he was a man, just like you and me, a man whose heart was by nature full of sin. On this particular night the evil of his heart broke out in an unrestrained, blasphemous denial of Christ, a denial that was accompanied with foul oaths.
††††††††††† As we consider the circumstances of Peterís great fall, you will notice that there were no extenuating circumstances to excuse his guilt. In fact, there appears to have been no reason for it at all. Everything recorded about it only aggravates Peterís guilt in the matter.
A. Peterís fall seems very strange because he was one of the Lordís most highly favored and highly honored disciples.
††††††††††† We would have expected this from any of the disciples before we would have expected it from Peter. The Lord had done so much for Peter.
1. Peter was one of the very first men to whom the Lord Jesus revealed himself in this world. - (John 1:40-42)† "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. (41) He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. (42) And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
2. He was in the inner circle of the asterís friends.
3. He appears to have been the chief spokesman for the early church.
Note: The higher our privileges are the greater our responsibilities are and the more horrible our offenses will be.
B. Peterís fall is especially sad because he had been plainly and faithfully warned.
††††††††††† The Savior told Peter exactly what was going to happen to him in the plainest† terms possible. He knew the danger to which he was exposing himself when he walked into the high priestís palace.
Matthew 26:31† "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."
Luke 22:31-34† "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: (32) But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (33) And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. (34) And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me."
1. Satan desired to have him.
2. His faith would be fiercely attacked.
3. He must watch and pray, that he enter not into temptation.
4. But Peter walked headlong into his sin, rejecting the light and counsel God had given him. He ignored the light of Godís revelation
C. Peterís guilt is aggravated by the fact that it came so soon after he had confidently declared his loyalty and faithfulness to Christ.
Matthew 26:33† "Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. (35) Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."
††††††††††† Just an hour or two after making this bold and arrogant profession of love and commitment to Christ, he cussed and denied that he even knew him!
D. The apostleís fall did not come at once, but by degrees.
††††††††††† Great, life-threatening sicknesses seldom come upon men without warning. Usually there are symptoms to warn us that something is wrong. Even so, believers seldom experience sudden falls into grave sin. Usually there are symptoms that something is wrong. The problem is that we ignore the symptoms.
††††††††††† ďThe Church and the world are sometimes shocked by the sudden misconduct of some great professor of religion; believers are discouraged and stunned; the enemies of God rejoice and blaspheme: but if the truth could be known, the explanation of such cases would generally be found to have been private departure from God. Men fall in private long before they fall in public.Ē† J. C. Ryle
††††††††††† Notice that the Holy Spirit records a specific series of steps by which this man of faith descended into such a low condition.
1. He was far too confident and proud (vv. 31-33).
2. The Lord told him to watch and pray. Instead, he slept!
3. He followed the Lord afar off (v. 58).
4. He chose to sit with scorners (v. 58; Luke 22:55; John 18:18).
5. He denied his Master by degrees (Mark 14:68-71).
a. At first, he pretended not to understand the maidenís words.
b. Then, he denied that he knew the man (A Denial of His Own Confession (Matt. 16:18; John 6:69).
c. At last, he took up the oaths of a profane man, cussing as he denied his Redeemer, as if to prove his point by foulness.
E. Here is another aggravation of Peterís terrible sin: All of this was done very close to the place where his Lord and Master was at that very time suffering for him!
††††††††††† The Lord Jesus was standing right before Peterís eyes, hearing every word!
II. Secondly, I want you to see THE MEANS OF PETERíS RECOVERY.
††††††††††† It is written in the Scriptures, ďThe righteous falleth seven times a day; but the LORD raiseth him up.Ē Peter fell, but he did not perish. His faith was weak, but not dead. He sinned miserably; but he was not forsaken. This man belonged to Christ. He was one of those sheep to whom the Son of God gave eternal life, and promised, ďThey shall never perish!Ē Therefore, Peter was graciously restored by the hand of God. How did the Lord God restore his fallen child? Here are four things by which God graciously restored Peter. Listen carefully. These are the very same things he uses to restore his fallen ones today.
A. A WORK OF PROVIDENCE - ďAnd immediately the cock crewĒ (v. 74).
††††††††††† The Lord God has many ways to reach the hearts of his chosen. There are many roosters he can cause to crow to awaken his erring children.
B. A WORK OF GRACE - ďThe Lord turned and looked upon PeterĒ (Luke 22:61).
††††††††††† What a look that must have been! The Lord turned to Peter. Peter did not turn to the Lord. And he looked upon Peter, not in anger, disgust, and wrath, but in mercy, love, and grace! That look reflected all the tenderness, compassion, and faithfulness of Christ toward his fallen, sinful children. With that look, the Lord Jesus spoke silently, but effectually, to Peterís heart. He seems to have said, ďPeterĒ...
∑ ďI have loved you with an everlasting love.Ē
∑ ďYe have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.Ē
∑ ďI have given to you eternal life; and you shall never perish!Ē
∑ ďI will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.Ē
∑ ďI, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.Ē
∑ ďIn me is thy righteousness and strength.Ē
∑ ďReturn, return unto me and I will pardon.Ē
∑ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.Ē
∑ ďBlessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.Ē
C. THE WORK OF THE WORD - ďAnd Peter remembered the word of JesusĒ (v. 75).
1. If we do not remember the Word that has been preached unto us, all is lost (I Cor. 15:2).
2. We cannot escape the wrath of God if we let the gospel slip through our ears without effect (Heb. 2:1-3).
3. Yet, we are sure to do so, unless God the Holy Spirit be our Remembrancer.
††††††††††† It was the Word of God, graciously and effectually brought home to Peterís heart, that worked repentance in him.
Note:† We must never presume that the Word of God has no effect because it has no immediate effect upon the hearts of those who hear it.
Isaiah 55:11† "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Ecclesiastes 11:1† "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days."
D. THE WORK OF THE SAVIOR - ďI have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail notĒ (Luke 22:32).
††††††††††† As a great High Priest and Almighty, meritorious Intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for Peter. And that same great High Priest is praying for you and me at this very hour!
1 John 2:1-2† "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
††††††††††† These thoughts thrill my soul and flood my heart with joy, gratitude, and praise. The Lord Jesus Christ is full of tenderness and mercy. His compassions, they fail not. They are new every morning! Jesus Christ is a faithful Savior! If you are a true believer, you may be assured of this fact: Your sins will never separate you from your Savior! You never shall, for any reason or by any means be separated from...
∑ His Love!
∑ His Favor!
∑ His Mercy!
∑ His Care!
∑ His Saving Power!
III. Thirdly, I want you to see THE SIGNS OF PETERíS RESTORATION.
††††††††††† The Lordís work for Peter and upon Peter were effectual. They accomplished their design. Peterís heart was restored. Satan had run him through his sieve, but Peter lost nothing in the process but chaff! Thus satan himself was used as an instrument of good for Peter!
A. Peter went out of the place.
††††††††††† Once the fire was restored in his soul, he no longer wanted or needed the fire which the Lordís enemies had kindled. He immediately forsook those who had turned his heart from his Lord.
B. Peter wept bitterly.
††††††††††† Sin is no light thing to the regenerate soul. Convulsive weeping came upon Peter when he realized what he had done. He could not stand himself. His heart was crushed within him.
Psalms 51:17† "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
1 John 1:9† "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
IV. Let me finish my message by calling your attention to a few of THE LESSONS WE SHOULD LEARN FROM PETERíS FALL.
††††††††††† I will not detain you but another few minutes; but I do want us to learn from this passage those very important lessons that the Holy Spirit intends for us to learn from it.
A. We should learn something about ourselves.
††††††††††† We are all too much like Peter. We are fickle, sinful wretches by nature. There is no evil in the world of which you and I are not capable.
1. Do not be presumptuous, proud, and self-confident; but †††† watch and pray.
∑ I Corinthians 4:7
∑ I Corinthians 10:12
2. Do not be severe with your erring, fallen brethren.
B. We learn again that ďSalvation is of the LORD!Ē
††††††††††† From start to finish, salvation is by the grace of God alone! Our only standing, our only acceptance, our only righteousness is Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.
1. Godís grace is free!
2. Godís grace is immutable!
3. Godís grace is indestructible!
4. Godís grace is sufficient!
C. We learn that all who are saved by grace are kept infallibly secure in Christ.
††††††††††† Nothing can ever sever one of the Lordís own from him. All who are in Christ are as secure as the very throne of God.
∑ John 10:27-29
D. We learn from this story that the Lord our God abides forever faithful!
∑ Mark 16:7
∑ II Timothy 2:13-14
††††††††††† He will not leave his own; and he will not let his own leave him! ďHe abideth faithful!Ē
1. Keep yourselves in the love of God.
2. Live around the cross.
3. Cling to Christ always.
4. As often as you fall, return quickly to your Savior.
∑ He will receive you.
∑ He will forgive you.
∑ He will be gracious to you.
∑ He will forget your fall.
 See #498 for message by the same title which was preached at Danville on 4\17\83 & 2\2\86, at Kingston, Jamaica 1\29\86, Crossville, TN 6\2\86, and New Caney, TX 6\26\88.