Calvary Road Baptist Church


Isaiah 53.3

 I was given the great privilege of attending the 36th annual School of Theology at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England this last week for the first time, a three day Christian leaders conference that is held Tuesday through Thursday of the first full week of July every year by the church’s pastor, Dr. Peter Masters.

My desire to attend has grown over the last few years as I considered the topics announced in The Sword and Trowel, a quarterly publication of the church initially introduced by Charles H. Spurgeon, who pastored the church over most of the last half of the 19th century. Of great interest to me this year was a session conducted by one of the church deacons dealing with the forwardness of church officers, and the harm that is done when elders and deacons do not step up and step forward to take the initiative in the exercise of their offices. I miss not ever receiving training in such things as a young man before entering the ministry. As well, Dr. Masters spoke twice on the subject of melancholy, what is commonly and erroneously referred to these days as depression. His text was Second Corinthians 2.7, where Paul mentioned “overmuch sorrow.” Of course, I completely agree with Peter Masters’ position that contemporary psychiatry and psychotherapy is mostly antichristian nonsense, so I found it refreshing to hear the topic treated with reverence for God’s Word and without the foolish obeisance paid to the psychiatric and so-called Christian counseling establishment.

By way of brief testimony, though it is best for anyone entering the gospel ministry to be mentored by his pastor, such was not my privilege as a young man. Converted in 1974, I was under the oversight of my first pastor for two years before he sent me to school to prepare for the ministry. My second pastor was at the second church I attended while in school for one year before he resigned. I attended and served under my third pastor for two years before he recommended me for my first pastorate. In none of those church situations could it be said that my pastors, three of them in five years, mentored me. In none of those situations was I aware of any interest on the part of my pastor to equip me for the work of the ministry, as Ephesians 4.11 directs. I would have been beside myself with delight had one of my pastors offered to mentor me. Imagine my eagerness, then, to attend the School of Theology and benefit from a ministry that is fully committed to that aspect of ministry, as well as all of this conducted by a church that is more than 400 years old.

I learned much while there. It was unlike any meeting of pastors I had ever attended. I learned not only what was intentionally taught by the mature and gifted men who spoke during each session, but I also learned by observing some of the subtleties within what appears to be the hardest working and most spiritually mature congregation I have ever had the benefit of witnessing first hand. In ways that are difficult to describe, there is a depth to that congregation that has a 400 year uninterrupted history. Not only that, but a church that has been presided over by a collection of men wonderfully blessed of God. I am reminded of their second pastor, Benjamin Keach, of the great doctor, John Gill (of towering intellect and scholarship), and of course of the prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Not that things have always proceeded smoothly for the church. Fire twice destroyed the church’s auditorium located on Elephant and Castle. More seriously, there have been times when the church was at very low ebb. When Peter Masters assumed the pastorate, almost forty-two years ago, there were all of thirty-five people faithfully attending the church. However, they have been for most of the church’s history a strong Baptist church firmly anchored to God’s Word. Today the congregation is a beehive of activity, with a ministry that is worldwide in its impact through the helpful books Peter Masters has written, the broadcasts of the church’s services, and most importantly the pastors from around the world whose ministries have been molded by the training they received at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

We here at Calvary Road Baptist Church are already familiar with a man we support financially and prayerfully who has planted churches in muslim Africa. His formative ministerial training was at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. However, this last week I met three more men whose lives were similarly affected. One man came to London to attend graduate school, came to the church, was converted, and went back to Ethiopia and started a number of churches. A second man trained at the church has now started a number of churches in Nepal. A third man came to London thirty years ago from Beijing to go to graduate school, attended the church and was converted, and went back to Beijing, where he now pastors a thriving independent Baptist church. What great opportunities a church has if it is open to reaching and training foreign university students to return to their home countries to serve God. How like the church at Jerusalem, training those multitudes saved on the Day of Pentecost, who would later return to their home towns to spread the gospel and plant churches in Jesus’ name. You have no idea how excited I am about the future of Calvary Road Baptist Church, as our own students attend college and stay here in their home church while welcoming with open arms the foreign students they meet during their college careers, and as our church people open their homes to lonely students from far away.

I learned other lessons while attending the School of Theology sessions, lessons that were not formally taught. However, they were lessons easily learned by anyone with an interest in seeing God’s blessings in people’s lives, since I make no claim to having any special discernment. How amazing it was to see members young and old, of every imaginable ethnic and cultural background, so seamlessly knit together with one heart and one mind. Eastern Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, the Far East, and India. Ushers, deacons, teachers, drivers, cooks, custodians, parking attendants, bookstore clerks, and secretaries. What a blessing they all were to me. Ours is a church now in its second generation, we being just over thirty-five years in existence. Being so very young, we tend to think in terms of our collective experiences with a relatively short institutional memory. However, imagine what it is like to be in a church that is three to four generations deep in its membership, with both physical and spiritual great grand children in attendance. This, of course, can only occur when people stay in their churches and refuse this nonsense of church hopping like so many church tramps. When church members stay and serve God, just think of the issues and problems that are presently being dealt with by our church members, but that do not have to be dealt with by a church that is so much deeper into the Christian experience.

Of course, by far the largest issue in any Christian’s life is God (the Father, the Savior Jesus Christ, and the indwelling Spirit). The second largest issue must always be sin. Sin is mankind’s great tragedy, causing the catastrophic alienation from God that can be remedied only through faith in Jesus Christ for those elect, and resulting in such heartache and suffering for both saved and lost in this life, and persistent punishment for the Christ rejecters in the next life. It was while I was in London, attending the School of Theology at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, that my mind and heart turned once more to this great issue of sin that must be addressed for life to be lived successfully, for eternity to be enjoyed eternally, but which so many of our loved ones and relatives close their minds to dealing with. Keep in mind that Jesus Christ is the only solution for sins, and that ignoring sins or otherwise pretending that sins do not need to be dealt with now, is not a viable option for anyone.

Consider sins under two headings:


Tragedies are always associated with sins. Remarkable as it may seem to the objective observer whose analysis reveals the tragedies that are always associated with sins, most sinners are such optimists, most sinners are so blithely hopeful about the future, that despite their own history with sins they think there is the possibility of happiness, yes even the likelihood of happiness, from sins. However, when considering the terminal tragedies of sins, what do we find?

First, we find eternal separation from God. Revelation 21.8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” Do you not think sins are a big deal? Do you not think sins are worth your concern? For these sins, people will spend eternity in the lake of fire. How much pleasure is had in fear, or in unbelief, or in sex sins, or in drugs, or in telling little white lies? Yet these sins committed and not tended to properly to obtain forgiveness will land you in the lake of fire forever. Is having sex with your girl friend worth it? You will not think so then. Is dating instead of evangelizing on Saturday nights worth it? You will not think so then. Racing will lose its importance when you are in the lake of fire. Earning extra money will not seem terribly wise when you are in the lake of fire. The lake of fire is one of the terminal tragedies of sins.

Next, we find eternal affliction from conscience. Twenty-nine verses in the New Testament speak of this faculty known as conscience, given by God to help you avoid sins and stop committing sins by accusing you or excusing you.[1] However, for the most part sinners are prone to sear their consciences, defile their consciences, and distract themselves by pretending sins are not sinful or by telling themselves that sins can always be dealt with later.[2] Once a sinner dies in his sins, however, his conscience will come alive, as it never did while he was in this life. Throughout eternity, the sinner’s conscience will greatly afflict him, accusing him of wrongdoing and reminding him of his own guiltiness and of the terrible effect his sins have had on the lives of others.[3] Try to imagine how your conscience will accuse you throughout eternity, when you have only your torment to consider, and your conscience will accuse you of the sins you committed against God and your fellow man as being responsible for your horror of guilt.

Finally, we find eternal punishment from damnation. Sins, of course, are crimes. They are crimes committed in violation of God’s holy law.[4] When laws are broken, justice cries for punishment. Since sins against God are crimes most serious, justice demands great punishment, namely eternal punishment. This is why the sins of Revelation 21.8 are punished by an eternity in the lake of fire. In Matthew 8.29, the demons Jesus cast out greatly feared the torment that awaited them in the lake of fire, so how much should sinners fear the torment that awaits them in the same place? It is significant that Jesus said it would be characterized by “weeping and gnashing of teeth” six times in the gospel of Matthew alone.[5] In addition to the unimaginable pain of the lake of fire, there will be utter and complete darkness. Jesus describes it as “outer darkness” in Matthew 8.12. Jude 13 speaks of “the blackness of darkness for ever.” Is this a place you want to someday be? Yet you will surely end up in this place forever if your sins are not properly dealt with.


May I mention but a few of the tragedies of sins that afflict people’s lives before they die? This was what especially captured my thoughts concerning a relatively young church like ours while meditating and reflecting while I was in London last week. The contrast between young churches and a much more mature congregation that is faithful to the gospel can be dramatic. Several considerations:

First, consider the unsaved adult. Though gospel preaching churches reach people of all ages with the gospel, over time the relative age of those brought to Christ becomes increasingly younger than the congregation as a whole as church members grow older. Thus, while a church our age or younger has a proportionally larger number who reach adulthood prior to their conversion, as time advances those who reach adulthood before becoming Christians will proportionally diminish. I was just shy of twenty-four when I came to Christ. Some of you were in your thirties. Others of you were in your forties. Think there is not a terrible consequence of coming to Christ later in life than earlier? If not, you are mistaken. The older a convert to Jesus Christ is the greater is the likelihood of that person having more and more experiences with sins. Think again if you imagine the sins you have committed prior to becoming a believer in Jesus Christ not seriously affecting the kind of life you can lead after your sins are forgiven. Restricting our consideration to memories alone, what temptations the believer in Jesus Christ exposes himself to simply by trusting Christ as an adult rather than as a child. Oh, the terrible things he has done with his freedom to commit sins, and the memories Satan will use in tempting that person for the rest of his natural life. However, when a child comes to Christ, or a young person, then the potential for joy is so much greater, and service, too. Why so? How does Satan tempt someone with the memories of sins they have not committed?

Second, consider the unsaved spouse. It is always a wonderful thing when God draws any sinner to Jesus Christ, for forgiveness full and free. However, who can tell who will and who will not come to Christ? I certainly cannot tell. Therefore, it is a terrible and costly gamble for anyone to enter into marriage with the expectation or with the hope that he and his spouse will both someday come to Christ. How does that person who is lost know whether he will be saved himself, much less the person he marries? We have experience in our church with lost people who have married, only to then experience gut-wrenching agony brought on by an unsaved spouse’s rejection of the gospel. So, with one spouse bound for heaven and the other determined to reject Christ, there can never be real harmony of hearts in the marriage. Some in our church know what it is like to be married to a lost person. The pain. The disappointment. The shock and stunning surprise of someone turning out after marriage to be so different from what was expected before marriage. Some here in the auditorium know the tragedy of divorce, being finally abandoned by a Christ-rejecting husband or wife. Others know the tragedy of not divorcing, but enduring marriage to a profane man or woman who gives no thought to communion with God or of any need of a Savior. Besides, life is so complicated, and marriage making life more complicated still, where is the sense in not doing all one can to ensure a happy and blessed life? Consider what factors are imagined by some to be important in a happy marriage: intelligence, physical attractiveness, personality, athletic ability. However, once married, intelligence is offset by foolishness, physical appearance loses its importance, the personality of anyone who sins is unappealing, and no one stays young forever. Dear Lord, how does one deal with a spouse who hates the Savior you love so much? Few issues are more thorny. Few problems are more complex or disheartening. The realities of marriage are far more affected by the spirituality of the spouse. A pretty wife who cheats isn’t so pretty. A husband with a great personality who cheats isn’t so nice to be married to. He makes so much money! However, is he faithful to his wife? Is it wrong for a lost man to marry a lost woman? Beside the reality that everything a lost person does is offensive to God, it is better for someone to marry than fornicate. However, once married, what if the person to whom you are married never comes to Christ? Most people do not come to Christ, you know. That means you will have a less than fulfilling married life. And if you do not come to Christ, of course, you will go to Hell when you die. Just some of the temporal tragedies of sins.

Finally, consider the unsaved parent. What if you marry someone and the two of you have kids? That sounds wonderful on the surface, and everyone reacts like it is always wonderful to have kids. “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”[6] You are not so naive as to presume that this applies to the child of an unsaved woman, are you? Or that an unsaved father has any real hope of representing the heavenly Father to his child? Come on, people. Consider the exceeding sinfulness of sins, and the tragic consequences in the lives of children whose mothers or fathers cannot pray for God’s grace to raise them, do not raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and do not set before the child on a daily basis the example of a God-fearing mother or father. What a hollow sound is made by a well-intentioned lost woman who tries to teach her baby, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Does she think her child will be impressed by mother’s pretending? Who do you think a child brought into this world will likely identify with and show loyalty for, the mother who nurses him, bathes him, nurtures him, teaches him, whose heart he hears beating and whose warmth comforts him? Or the invisible God he cannot see, is poorly represented in the home (if at all), and who his own mother does not seek reconciliation with (so why should the child?). As the child grows older, he will begin to identify more with his father than with his mother, since he begins to envision himself someday being like his heroic father. However, his father’s distorted view of reality is reflected in his dim understanding of the horrible consequences of his sins, causing his son to think real manliness can be divorced from a relationship with God, or even worse, that real men don’t go to church, read their Bibles, or pray to God. If both mom and dad are unconverted, it is very unlikely the child will ever become a Christian, no matter how much the grandparents pray and seek to influence. However, if one of the parents is a believer, what is to be done about the spiritual welfare of the child? Do you keep your mouth shut and allow your unsaved spouse to lead your child astray before your eyes? If you do seek to influence your child for Christ, how do you accomplish that with an unsaved spouse who may aggressively seek to counter every move you make?

Sins always produce tragedies, heartache, pain, and suffering. The promise of getting what you want by doing what you want is always so appealing. However, God did not design the universe for you to get what you want, but for Him to get what He wants. Thus, despite appearances to the contrary, things do not turn out at all well when you are seeking your own satisfaction instead of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

When a church is young, many in the church are members who did not come to Christ until adulthood, did not come to Christ until after marriage, and did not come to Christ until after becoming parents. The associated tragedies of sins resulting from those situations are terrible. Broken homes, children raised by unsaved parents, children reared in broken homes, children reared by stepparents (which can be, but is not always so great); divorce causing great pain and heartache, and other effects.

Imagine people in church for a long time and none of their kids being Christians or bothering to attend church. What a terrible thing. Then there are hurt feelings associated with birthdays and anniversaries that the unsaved always want to interfere with serving God, radical differences in lifestyle choices, appearance, conduct, personal standards, and all the rest.

In the family I grew up in, I am the only believer. Many of you would give the same testimony. Your kids’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all lost. Some of you are in great pain because none of your kids is a believer and seems to have a concern about ever serving God. Take heart. Such has always been the case with relatively young churches in which God plucks one from this family and one from that. Over time, as the church grows and becomes more mature, children of church members will begin to come to Christ earlier in life, children of church members will become more likely to marry after coming to Christ, and the results in their children’s lives will be even more dramatic.

What I seek to leave you with this morning is the sorrow associated with sins. Lost people pretend there is no sorrow with sins, though their own experiences prove otherwise to everyone but them. Things change for the believer because of our Savior. Jesus was “a man of sorrows” and He took my place on the cross to suffer in my place the penalty for my sins. Am I now sinless? No, I am not, and my own sins cause me sorrow. However, the great sorrows of my life are no longer the result of my own sins, but the sins of those I love who reject the gospel, who refuse the Savior, who entertain the foolish notion that they can in any way gain by sinning now and not dealing with sins until later.

Away with such thinking, my unsaved friend. Throughout all eternity, you will wish you had committed one less sin. Whereas the Christian will spend all eternity rejoicing and glorying in Christ’s great salvation, and wishing in this life that he had only come to Christ sooner.

[1] John 8.9; Romans 2.15

[2] 1 Timothy 4.2; Titus 1.15

[3] Luke 16.19-31

[4] 1 John 3.4

[5] Matthew 8.12; 13.42, 50; 22.13; 24.51; 25.30

[6] Psalm 127.3

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