Calvary Road Baptist Church


Matthew 13.58

My sermon is adapted from a sermon originally preached by Asahel Nettleton, with Matthew 13.54-58 as the text:


54     And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

55     Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

56     And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

57     And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

58     And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.


Those living in the village the Lord Jesus Christ grew up in, a place called Nazareth, are here said by Matthew’s gospel to have been astonished by Him. However, though they were astonished by Him, they did not allow themselves to be convinced by Him. Instead, just as you who are lost do, they threw up mental roadblocks and distracted themselves by saying, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?”

You see, they could not object to what the Savior said. Neither could they question the few miracles He had worked there. But being strongly prejudiced against Him, as you are strongly prejudiced against Him (and they chose to be so prejudiced just as you have chosen to be so prejudiced), they clung fiercely to the only means they had of holding on to their prejudices, just as you cling fiercely to the only means you have of holding on to your prejudices.

This holding on to prejudices against the Lord Jesus Christ was such a sin that the Savior thought it very proper to punish it. He therefore ceased to preach to them, and withdrew His miracle working demonstrations from them. He also withdrew the gracious influences of His Holy Spirit from them. I fear that He has done the same with some of you in our church.


Let Me Make A Bold ASSERTION


We have here an example of God’s dealings with a certain kind of sinner. God often passes by certain classes of wicked sinners and chooses not to awaken them and convert them. Why does He do this? He does this as the punishment for some kind of special provocation. This is undeniably shown in our text.

If those people had not indulged in and fastened onto such malignant prejudices, Christ would have gone on with His ministry and His miracles there, just as He had in other locations. However, when He saw their determination not to be convinced, He determined not to convince them, and stopped His mighty works. I fear that this will be the case with some of our young people.

We have evidence of the Savior doing this same thing elsewhere. Matthew 11.20-21: “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” And notice what Jesus says in Luke 19.42: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

Their state is now hopeless. They are never to be converted. Instead, they are doomed to destruction. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Jerusalem. But why were they given up? It was for their incorrigible prejudice against Jesus Christ. It was for resisting the light of truth and neglecting salvation. Two of these cities stood for many more years. Of course, Jerusalem remains. But only a few in those cities were converted. The great body of its inhabitants were never converted to Christ.

“Oh, but many in Jerusalem were converted on the day of Pentecost,” you might observe. “Yes,” I respond, “but the vast majority of those converted were visiting for the feast day, and were not among those who had so stubbornly rejected the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This type of thing is only a repetition of a similar sentence executed once before upon that nation, and recorded in Psalm 81.8-16:


8      Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;

9      There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.

10     I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11     But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.

12     So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

13     Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!

14     I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.

15     The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.

16     He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.


There is one sin a person can commit which shall never be forgiven, the unpardonable sin. It is the deliberate and malicious speaking evil of the workings of the Holy Spirit by someone who knows full well they are the Spirit’s doings. That sin is unpardonable, not because the atonement is insufficient, but because the crime is of such a nature that God is determined never to grant to such a criminal the soul-cleansing influence, which he so maliciously reviles.

Therefore, though there is but this one sin that prevents the application of redemption in every single instance, there are some sins in which not every application of redemption is prevented, but in which most are.

To put it another way. Not one single person guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit will ever be saved. Not even one. However, there are other sins that, while not everyone who commits them will be irretrievably lost, the vast majority who commit them will be irretrievably lost. This is confirmed by the providence of God. There are people who fall into various categories, depending on the kinds of sins they commit, from which categories only a very, very few are granted salvation and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. This is true concerning those who put off the care of their soul until they become old. Very few old people ever are saved. There are also a variety of vicious types of sins, in which very few of those who commit them are ever reclaimed. As well, the Word of God warns every young person to flee youthful lusts. Associated with youthful lusts, the prostitute is engaged in the kind of wickedness that puts her in such a state that is almost hopeless of salvation. Of her house, it is said the dead are there. None that go there return. Her guests are in the depths of Hell. There is an occasional instance of a whoremonger being converted, but only one in a thousand. Further, there are those who accept erroneous doctrines of a particular type. Where the deity of Christ is denied, the total depravity of man is denied, the necessity of the new birth is denied, and justification by faith is denied, there the Holy Spirit seldom works to save the soul. They cry peace until sudden destruction cometh upon them. They sleep on until death opens their eyes to the truth, and to their ruin beyond the grave. How much danger, then, are you in who hear these doctrines preached without responding? Though you may not openly deny the truths that I have mentioned, do you not in fact show that you do not believe them to be true by the way you respond when they are preached? Do you not, by your attitude and by your actions, deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that conversion is necessary, that God demands repentance, and that a Substitute is needed by a sinner to escape the wrath to come?

People who are awakened feel and confess. Those who have been reconciled to God through faith in Christ rejoice and give credit to the Savior for their deliverance. So, you, by turning away in disgust from the gospel after you having neglected and perverted the testimony of the Bible, are guilty of repeating the crimes of those who lived in Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin. In addition, if you do not repent you will suffer the same destruction. It appears from the Bible that kings and philosophers, the wise, the rich and the great who are saved are comparatively few in number. The reason? The reason assigned by Christ is “even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight,” Luke 10.21. God does what He chooses. Moreover, among those He chooses not to save, relatively speaking, are people like you who are smug in your sins and who think yourself to be so wise.

This does not imply that in leaving you God will act in an arbitrary fashion, or that your destiny is not the result of your own crimes. Quite the contrary. Examine every category of sin from which few sinners are saved. Each kind of sin is distinguished by some peculiar provocation, which God, though sovereign, chooses to mark and respond to by generally passing by and giving over you who aggravate Him so. For it is not only by His Law and His gospel, by principles and penalties, that He encourages obedience and admonishes the wicked. He also governs this world of His in such a manner as to corroborate His Word, to show it to be true and reliable. The Holy Spirit works in such a way that the chances of someone who is brought up in a Christian home and environment is far greater than those who do not have such opportunities. However, what do you think His response is to that person who has such wonderful opportunities, but then foolishly squanders them?

God exercises sovereign grace in such a way that those who neglect the means of grace, that man who will not regularly attend church, and give his tithes, and lead his family in devotions, simply does not have the same likelihood of experiencing the grace of God as the man who does regarding these things. In like manner, the man given over to fornication and booze and drugs is less likely to be saved than is the man who is morally clean and temperate. As well, the errorist does not have the same likelihood of being saved as does he who believes the truth. Neither does the infidel or the scoffer. What, then, of that one who has access to all the means of grace, who enjoys every advantage, but who spurns God’s offer, who rejects God’s Son, who scorns God’s grace? Oh, for him it will be especially bad, don’t you think?


Now Let Me Respond To Your OBJECTION


My, how people object to what Scripture asserts. Perhaps one of these objections is yours.


Objection #1: “You are teaching salvation by good works.” No. There is no conflict between the passage that says we are “saved by grace through faith,” which is in the Bible, and the passage that says the lost are judged “according to their works,” which is also in the Bible. Additionally, Jesus does tell lost people that they are to do certain things in preparation to receive the gospel without those things in any way meriting salvation. We see it in Luke 13.24: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Moreover, we see the Ethiopian eunuch actually engaged in this striving to enter in at the strait gate in Acts 8.27-38. First, that fellow learned the language the Word of God was written in, which almost certainly was not his native language. Second, he traveled at great expense of time and money to Jerusalem to worship God. Third, he was actually studying God’s Word so he might know how to worship God. Obviously, the eunuch eventually did come to know Christ. However, did his strivings create merit before God that caused him to deserve the salvation, which he found in Jesus Christ? Not at all. So, rather than suggesting that doing certain things creates merit in the sight of God, our text for today clearly shows that other things create greater demerit in the sight of God, such demerit that God chooses, on the basis of such particularly heinous sins, to pass those sinners by who commit them and not convert them to Christ. Therefore, you actually diminish the likelihood that you will ever be saved by the things that some of you do. Keep doing those things and the likelihood that you will ever be saved approaches a statistical probability of zero.

Objection #2: “The sovereignty of God takes the entire matter out of my hands.” Occasionally someone will tell me something like, “I can’t do anything to save myself, so it’s useless to try to do right. I might just as well just stay home and not even try to please God.” However, you who think this way overlook an important fact. Though you cannot merit salvation, you most certainly can merit destruction. Though none of your doings commends you to God’s favor, it is an easy thing to kindle His wrath. Therefore, the reason why God passes you by, if He passes you by, may very well be this type of perversion of His Word. If you can never save yourself, and you cannot (we all agree on that), it does not follow that you may not so neglect and conduct yourself so as to destroy yourself. So, quit trying to outthink God and relieve yourself of the responsibility to look after your own soul’s welfare.


Oh, what a wonderful opportunity the people living in Nazareth had to hear the Lord Jesus Christ preach to them, to see the Lord Jesus Christ work mighty miracles, to be persuaded, convinced, and finally converted to saving faith in Him. As well, what great opportunities those who lived in Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum had, as well as the inhabitants of Jerusalem. However, their opportunities were for nothing, because of their stubborn prejudice and refusal to consider the claims of Jesus Christ.

To put it another way, they committed a particularly galling sin in the sight of God that caused Him to pass them by, to deny them further opportunity to see, hear, and behold the wonders of God’s only begotten Son.

What particularly galling sin do you commit that greatly wounds the heart of God, that greatly offends the sensibility of God, that particularly infuriates the holiness of God? Do you stubbornly refuse to avail yourself of the means of grace by keeping your Bible closed, by missing church, by stealing God’s tithe, by distracting yourself and others during the preaching of God’s Word?

I am convinced that a number of you young people are so galling to God that it is unlikely, based upon your present course, based upon your present attitude, based upon your present choice of friends, based upon your present commitment to remaining lost, that you will ever get saved.

You see, the conversion of a sinner is a great miracle of God, made possible by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross long ago. However, the work of conversion can be stopped as a punishment to some special provocation.

Don’t be so foolish as to provoke God. Avail yourself of the means God uses to impart to sinners His grace. Strive to enter in at the strait gate. Seek the Lord while He may be found. Abandon the young fools you consider your friends, who are only luring and enticing you to join them in Hellfire. Humble yourself, because resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Come to Christ.

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