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About this series
Share the Love
How to Talk to Anyone about God
You should, you ought to, you know the Bible tells you to do it - but the thought of actually sharing your faith with another person gives you sweaty palms and heart palpitations. "I'm just not gifted in evangelism," you decide. "It's not for me." But it is! In Share the Love, learn how even you can move from being a "secret agent" Christian to a "public" witness as you develop the heart, skills, and perspective to naturally share Christ as a part of your lifestyle and relationships.More from this series
From the moment that you’re born and take your first breath to the moment you take your last breath every person on this planet is in a passionate pursuit to be loved. You took a little breath and you began to cry when you were born and you were placed on your mother’s chest and all of a sudden things got better. As a two year old, all of us had that moment when we got afraid in the night and we ran and climbed in bed searching for comfort, to belong, to be cared for, to be affirmed, to know it’s safe.
Then we got a little bit older, and we went to school and we were a pre-teen and we just longed for that one friend, or that one group, that would just accept us. And then the magic of teen years happened and the search intensified, the hormones kicked in and we wanted a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, and felt crazy until we found one.
And then in the young adult years what happens? The search even more intensifies. And you’re looking for that life partner, who are they?
By mid-life we have been there and done that for a while and we’re desperately searching for love, and finding people that won’t look just on the outside, who won’t love us for what we’ve done or what we have, but are willing to just care about us. No strings attached.
The flip side of mid-life is you’re looking for people who will love you in spite of what you’ve done and just will care. And then the day comes, the search continues all the way to the very, very last years. And we get old. And we’re longing for people that won’t put us out to pasture. We’re longing for people that will remember we have something to offer, even though our bodies don’t work so well and our minds aren’t as sharp.
I want you to know every person in this room is desperately pursuing to be loved. Every day. You’ve developed your own story and you’ve taken a light like I have and you take you’re little light, with your background and you say, “This is how I’m going to get loved.”
Now here’s the question: Do you have enough light in your little torch, in your little view, to solve that issue? And if you look around at most marriages, in most families, in our journeys the fact is we don’t.
Imagine, if you will, instead of me and you with one little light, I came from a certain family, from a certain part of the country, with a certain world view, like everyone here. And everyone here is passionately, “Who will love me? Who will accept me? Do I have value? How much education do I need to have? Will I do this? Will I do that?”
All of us have this one little light. But here’s what I want you to get: Until you understand the big picture story of God’s love for you, you will search in vain. And you will have one disappointment, after the next disappointment, when the one person doesn’t come through, and the job doesn’t come through, and what you thought you would do, or even if you do it and find it’s empty.
Here’s the last part of our series on Sharing the Love and I want to take you on a journey to explain to you the story of God’s love. The big picture. It’s contained, many of you, I’ve watched you on planes. You read a paperback like this, a fiction usually or a romance novel. I’ve watched some of you knock it out in two or three days.
Well, this is the greatest romance novel, paperback I have in my hands ever written. It’s God’s love letter to us. But the difference is is that, I don’t know about you, there’s a lot of hard names in here, and it covers a lot of space, and a lot of years, and at least the first time I opened the Bible, I didn’t have a clue of what it really said or what it really meant.
In fact, my experience is most authentic, Christ-followers don’t know too much about the Bible these days either.
And so what I want to do is I want to give you the entire Bible, are you ready? The entire Bible. And I want to give you the overview. And I want you to see that God has a story and there are four acts in His story. Like in a great play: Act one, act two, act three, act four.
Act one opens up and act one is how it all began. In the Bible it opens in Genesis chapter 1, and it talks about creation. God wants you to know in His love story He made you for Himself.
Now think of that. If you go out at night, or early in the morning as I do sometimes, and you look up and you see the stars are really bright and then you realize that this one little planet and this one little solar system is in a galaxy. And our galaxy, supposedly, has about a hundred billion stars and some project that there’s a hundred to two hundred billion galaxies and the God that spoke and all that came into existence, the pinnacle of His creation was you. Man.
And He didn’t just make you and then go off and let you run your life, He made you for Himself. He cares about you, He loves you. God created, originally, a perfect relationship, and a perfect world giving and receiving perfect love.
It started in a garden. Our first parents. Intimacy. No shame. No guilt. Absolute connection, love, affirmation, authenticity that both went vertical and horizontal. Love gives life that leads to relationship.
At the heart of everything the God of the Bible talks about He loves us, He created us, so He gives life. He breathed into us and there was life and it created relationship. And so God would walk in the garden. What that means and how it looked, I don’t know. But He wanted connection. He made us for Himself.
And the result of that is purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship,” or “His work of art.” We’re His masterpiece. And he says, “We’re created unto good works before the foundations of the earth we should walk in them.”
God has a plan. There is a purpose. History is linear. It started one place, it’s going somewhere, you are a part of it, you were made for Him, and what most people don’t know is you really matter. And there’s a plan for you.
After He said, “Let us make man in our likeness,” when the Triunity of God created all that there is, the next thing He said, “And let them rule over the earth and the fish of the sea.” You’re made like God, you can think, and feel, and choose, and create, and there’s a plan.
And a lot of people never, never, never know that.
Probably the most dramatic moment I had, in experiencing how God must feel about me, was in the birth of our first child. And it was a very complicated birth and it was a twenty-seven hour labor and there was complications so they put a fetal monitor on my little boy.
And it would go, “Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep,” you know, kid’s heart beat when they’re real small like that is real fast. And then Theresa would have a contraction and then it would go, “Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep…beep.” And then the nurse would be there and the doctor there and they get ready to and then it would be, “Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep,” where for twenty-seven hours we did that.
Believe me, it was a lot harder on her than it was on me. But, I mean, together when we thought we’d, you know, his heart would almost stop for more than just a few seconds I just, I gave that boy back to God eight times probably took him back nine.
And finally, “Oh God, please,” gave him back the tenth time. And after twenty-seven hours he was born and they cleaned him up and they placed him on Theresa’s chest and she was exhausted and that little boy just hugged next to her, and then they took him and put him in my arms and gave me about a half hour with him.
And here’s all I can tell you, I can’t even explain it because I didn’t have a dad that ever said he loved me. My dad was an alcoholic. He did but he never verbalized it and he didn’t know how to get that across and so I had that big heart, father-wound, too, and now I’ve got a part of me, and a part of Theresa, and I’m holding it.
And all I can tell you, emotions came out of me that I didn’t know existed and just tears of joy and I remember literally getting down on the linoleum floor and holding my boy and just thanking God for life and then just wondering. It was just instinctive. What’s the purpose? I wonder what this boy and I are going to do. I wonder what Your plan is for him?
Can I tell you something? I mean, I’m just one, puny man and I can’t tell you how much I loved that little boy and I have for the last thirty-one years. That’s how God feels about you. Do you believe that? That’s how God feels about you except infinitely more. He’s a good God with a good plan. That’s act one. It goes from Genesis chapter 1, Genesis chapter 2.
But act two is a bad part of the story. It’s ugly, it’s terrible. Act two is how it all went wrong. The theologians call it “The Fall.” See, God’s love isn’t some sort of plastic, superficial love. It’s a love that’s real. And the love that’s real has to give people the opportunity to accept it or reject it.
And so God allowed us to choose or reject His love. In this perfect environment where we had all that we needed as mankind, God gave the option to turn away, to reject Him, if we so chose. And the choice of Adam and Eve, our first parents, was to reject God’s love, which ushered in sin, and death, and selfishness in every relationship, separating us from God, ourselves, and others.
See, love gives life. But love also gives freedom. Freedom that leads to consequences. I mean, you can put a bird in a cage and say the bird loves you but you know when you open the cage it’s when they have the freedom to go wherever and fly back, there’s a relationship.
And God didn’t create little robots, or little machines, or little people that, “I love you, God. I love you, God. I do whatever you want.”
He gave you, He gave our first parents, He gave all of us the freedom to accept or reject… because He wanted legitimate, from our heart, moral beings who had the opportunity to love Him.
And our first parents rejected His love, and as a result, we get to inherit some good things and some bad things.
Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” And the result is separation.
Now, the way the story goes is there was deception, and there’s evil, and there’s an enemy called Satan. And he fooled and tricked our parents and yet they made a willful choice and as the separation occurred God said, “In the day that you sin or eat from that tree you’ll surely die,” but if you read the story and you read the paperback version what you’re going to find is the moment they sinned they didn’t fall over dead physically but they were separated, then, spiritually. They were taken out of the perfect environment. The perfect relationship was broken. And they were separated.
I remember, as a young pastor getting a call from a guy that had become a good buddy and just was a great guy, and from all outward circumstances you’d think the beautiful wife that he had, and the couple little kids that he had, and things were going great, and he gave me a call on the phone and, by the way, some of you who think us pastors know a lot, we’re learning.
But I’ll tell you, the first time things happen there’s times where, when you get off the phone and someone says, “So and so committed suicide,” or, “They lost a baby,” or you get a call like this, you just pray like crazy, “Oh, God, I don’t know what to do.”
And this was one of those calls and I was a very young pastor. He said, “Man, I gotta talk to you.” And we found ourselves sitting across from one another and then he pulled out a sheet of paper. And I said, “What’s that?” He says, “That’s what was stuck on the refrigerator when I got home today.” “I don’t love you anymore. I’m gone, I’m never coming back.”
He said, “I got home and that was on the refrigerator. I didn’t even know we had a problem. We didn’t even have any big arguments. She’s gone, and all of her stuff is gone, and most of mine. And I don’t know where.”
They’re separated. Can I tell you something else? Just as the God who created you made you for Himself and loves you and feels infinitely more about you, like I felt with my son, when you sin, when you walk away from God, when you do your own thing, when you do things that hurt other people, you know how God feels? God feels, He’s a being, He’s a person. He feels like that man when his wife walked out on him. There’s separation. God’s heart gets broken.
The Bible says that He grieves. And so act one is creation, and love brings life, and life leads to relationship. Act two is a sad one. Act two is that love gives freedom, but it leads to consequences, and death, and separation.
And then act three is really, it’s the big act. If you get the novel and, by the way, if you’ve never read it you really should. I was eighteen before I ever opened a Bible.
But act three starts from Genesis, end of Genesis chapter 3 and goes all the way to almost the end to Revelation chapter 20. And act three is the exciting part. This is how God’s love rescued us.
You’ve heard it before, you’ve seen it but, “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friend.” That’s the test of love. You’re willing to give your all. God, the Son, took on human flesh. He came to earth. Fully man, fully God. He lived a perfect life to reveal God’s heart. That’s Jesus.
And then He offered His life as a sacrifice and a payment for the sins of all people, of all time, that whoever would choose to receive new life may have it.
See, love gives forgiveness that leads to peace. The whole point, God knew He would give us freedom, God knew that with that freedom all-knowing, all-powerful, even outside of time, gives us that freedom, that from the foundations of the earth said, the high price tag of our freedom would mean evil, and suffering, and a fallen world, of course, but it would mean for Him, that God the Son would come and lay down His life to rescue us, to redeem us.
That word “redeem” is something is bad, and broken, and torn. It gets bought back, it gets repaired. You want to know what God’s really like? He’s not some invisible force, it’s not some invisible list of rules, or morality. That’s not at all what Jesus taught. It’s not about religion. It’s not about trying to be good.
It’s about reestablishing the connection, and the heart, and the relationship between your Creator and you. That was always God’s purpose.
But when sin entered the world every one of us in this room, right? We lie, we pretend we love people more than we do. When people don’t come through for us we try and act better than we are. We sin.
I mean, how many people are here from parents who divorced and you thought things would never be that way? How many of you have had someone walk out on you? How many of you had a business partner who lied to you? How many of you have had a boyfriend or a girlfriend that cheated on you? I mean, it’s a fallen world.
Jesus came and lived a perfect life to say, “This is the Father’s heart. He wants to repair.” If you want to know what God is really like it’s Jesus talking with a prostitute. How does He respond to her? It’s Jesus helping a poor person. It’s Jesus here with religious people who try and put burdens on people and He cuts them off at the knees and says, “I’m looking for what’s happening in people’s heart and their life.”
And so He gives forgiveness. It’s a gift and it leads to peace.
But notice, the result is reconciliation. That just simply means that you become friends again with God, when you’re reconciled. Some of you have been through a very difficult time in your marriage, you were separated for a season, and what’s it called when you probably go to some counseling, you probably realize, like most of us, you have a lot of baggage.
And then you begin to learn to communicate, and then you forgive one another, and then you’re reconciled. And if you’ve ever been separated, the wounds were really, pretty deep and there was some anger, and there was some hurt, and there were times where you were just enemies.
And when the love gets restored, you’re friends again. And that’s what act three is.
Notice what the Scripture says, II Corinthians 5:17 and 18 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,” if anyone would understand that act two doesn’t have to be your life story, but you can turn from your sin, and ask Him to forgive you, based on what He did on the cross. If you’re in Christ, here’s what He promises. “He’s a new creation: The old is gone, the new has come!
And all this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” And then I love this, “And then He gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
There is this amazing thing I never heard of. I grew up in a church that was out to lunch, that didn’t believe or teach God’s Word, and people said one thing and lived another way. So, I rejected Christianity, I rejected God.
But then I met a group of people that understood about the love of God, and they lived it out with their life, and with their lips, and they introduced me to His Word, and they were the conduit of that love into my heart, that changed my life.
That’s the ministry of reconciliation - that your neighbors, and your coworkers, and your kids, and your friends, and your schoolmates would understand they would have the living Jesus inside of you, living it out, imperfectly but with progress, to let them know that they’re loved.
I mean, everyone is looking for love, right? There’s not a lot of competition when you start loving people. And there’s something amazing that happens when you become a conduit of the love of God, and you see people’s lives transformed.
Because when you are forgiven, and you have peace, then you actually can give away something that you never could before. And it’s powerful.
I was in a Middle Eastern country, about six years ago, and we had leaders from all kind of backgrounds and denominations. People that, I remember sitting in front of them and teaching, and thinking, as I looked at this crowd, “This group may never, ever come together without people killing one another again, until they get to heaven.”
And I got to teach them, and as I was teaching them a series on the Invisible War, about spiritual warfare, we talked about how bitterness and unforgiveness opens the door to evil in our lives.
And it was just a moment where I’ve rarely seen something like this happen: There was an Iran and Iraqi soldiers who were now in ministry. And the man stood up and said, “Before we go on I need to do something. God convicted me.”
And tears streaming down his face and everyone was sitting down and he got up, this soldier, and this man got up, this soldier, now both involved in ministry. And he walked over and said, “When our war and our countries warred, I was on the front lines. I’ve killed hundreds, or thousands, of your people and I want you to please forgive me.”
And I watched these two grown men who were taught as little boys, “Kill, kill, kill, kill,” and who did that, get reconciled, first to God and be forgiven, and then have a new capacity to forgive and love each other, and I watched two men embrace with tears going down their cheeks, and seeing peace and reconciliation.
God wants to do that in your heart. God wants to do that, through you, to people in your family that are alienated. He wants to do that, through you, to people at work that are broken and hurting, and feel like they’re bitter, and people get busy and medicate their lives because down deep in their heart, their search, they don’t recognize, “I just want to be loved. I want to be loved.”
And for the great majority of people in this room you’re the conduit of that love.
And for others, this is an exciting day for you. You don’t know it yet. But He brought you in this room, on this day to reconcile you to Himself. For you to know that He’s real, He loves you, you have a problem like we all do. But Jesus came to rescue you.
Act four is how it all will end. It’s exciting, you get to the very end and there’s a book called The Revelation. Kind of a neat title, isn’t it? The Revelation. In other words, it means what’s going to be unveiled.
Often, in the Old Testament, God would tell us things that would happen seven hundred, a thousand, fifteen hundred years in advance down to the specifics, even naming names, empires that will happen, specific prophecy because He wants us to know this isn’t just a book. This isn’t a paperback, it’s not fiction, it’s life.
And so at the end of the book He tells us what’s going to happen forever in history. And it’s called restoration or consummation. Jesus is going to return and He promised He would make all things right in heaven and on earth. I mean, that’s hope!
Notice, every moral being: Angels, us, will be judged justly and repaid for their thoughts, choices, and actions. When Jesus comes back, as the righteous judge sin, death, and Satan will be vanquished forever and then God will reestablish what? Perfect-love relationship, in a perfect environment, forever and ever.
When Jesus first came, He came as the Savior, to pay the price for sin, to offer to whoever would. And, by the way, the whoever would… the hard part is our pride. It’s really about not believing God is good. It’s not believing that He really loves you and so, “No, no, no, no. I’ll do life my way.” But God says, “I got a great plan for your life, and I love you, and I want you to receive My love.”
And so, He came as the Savior. When Jesus comes back, He’ll come back as the judge. And upon His thigh it says, “Faithful and true.” And everyone will get exactly what they deserve.
And what He wants you to know is that He doesn’t want to judge you. He wants you to come under the blood and the forgiveness of what He’s provided, so that on that final day, when sin is judged, and death is swallowed up, and Satan is cast into the lake of fire…
And there is a reality, and heaven is real, and there’s a promise, He wants, “whosoever,” it’s not His desire that a single person would ever perish but that all would come into a knowledge of the truth. And for some, He brought you today so you can cross that line.
Notice, how the end will be. The love gives hope but leads to perseverance. I mean, the fact of the matter is, life’s hard, right? You’ve been ripped off, people have walked out on you, people have lied to you. You have health issues that don’t get better.
Here’s what you need to understand: This story is the story of all eternity. You live inside this little thing called time. Inside time everything is not going to be fair. When Jesus comes back, part of Him judging is, real love demands justice.
Those people that have abused kids, those people that have lied, those people that have hurt others, those people who have annihilated – what kind of God would it be when we go into, oh, well, He’d just say, “Oh, well, they just had a bad day. I’m just not going to…”
I mean, there is a part inside of you that cries out, “That’s not fair!” Especially when it happens to you. And what you need to know, what gives you hope and allows you to persevere: There is a day coming when God is not only loving and kind and compassionate, but He is holy and just, and all the scales will be balanced and everyone will get exactly what they deserve. That’s what justice is. But what He wants us to understand is that we don’t want to get what we deserve and Christ came to pay for what we did. The result is eternal life.
Listen to what it’s like, Revelation chapter 21, this is act four, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And I heard a loud voice,” John is speaking, getting his revelation from God. He’s watching it.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men and He will live with them and they will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ And He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
What gives you hope? What gives you perseverance in the midst of a hard life and in a fallen world it’ll be hard. Is to know that you have eternal life, that heaven is real, that there’s hope.
Now that’s the story, okay? I encourage you to pick up the paperback and if you’ve never read it, maybe for the next year just say, “I’m going to read this.” Or for some of you just treat it like one of those novels and say, “Ah, it’ll take me four or five days,” and just sit down and zoom through. Get something easy to understand.
If you’re like me, I had never opened it and I remember saying, “God, I don’t know if you exist or not, but all of history is divided between this one called Jesus, between B.C. and A.D., and life has been defined by this one man. I owe it to myself to at least examine what Your Word says.”
And so I started a journey and I read it and I asked God, “If You’re real, reveal Yourself to me.” And so I would give you that challenge, if this is new to you.
But the story of God’s love is simple: Act one, creation. He made you for Himself. Act two, how it all went wrong. Sin, it’s a fallen world. Act three, He came to rescue you and He loves you. And act four, He’s coming back again and He’s going to make everything right.
Here are the two questions: Question number one, is that story true? And question number two, if it’s true, how do you get in on that rescue, right? Is it true? Everyone has a story.
I’ll guarantee you, you may not think about it but you have your own little story. You have a worldview. You are thinking, living, spending money, prioritizing your life around some little story that you’ve either heard, or come to believe, or patched together, and what you’re doing and where you’re going has one little light.
Now here’s my question: Where did you get your story and is your story true? Because here is why I’m staking my life on God’s story. He’s not telling me I need to somehow become one with the ocean. He’s not telling me I need to be religious and pray five times a day and try and appease a god who is not loving.
He’s not telling me I need to be a religious, good person. He’s not telling me, “Just pull it up by the bootstraps.” He’s not telling me be sort of a nice, moral person and be as upwardly mobile as possible, and be successful.
All those stories crash. He’s telling me this story is true, I’m made for Him. Even in my fallenness and my sin, because I rose from the dead to prove it’s true in space-time history.
This isn’t some religious or anecdotal thought or something made up in a corner. This is God, the Son, living on the planet, who died, and for forty days after He died, appeared to people in a resurrection body, with over five hundred witnesses, verifiable.
The resurrection, that’s why I believe this story.
Notice the text I gave you. Paul makes the point in the whole chapter, I Corinthians 15. But he summarizes in these two verses, verses 19 to 20 and 21.
He says, “If for only this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.” In other words, if you think He’s a nice, moral teacher and let’s follow His teachings and be good to one another he says, “You’re to be pitied.”
He didn’t claim to be a nice, moral teacher. He was the definition of radical. He was the definition of revolutionary. He said, “I am God.” They killed Him because He claimed to be God. They killed Him because He said, “The Father and I are one.” They killed Him because He said, “No man comes to the Father except by Me.”
Jesus was either the truth, or He was a liar, or a lunatic. But notice what the apostle Paul says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, Adam, the resurrection of the dead comes through also a man, Christ. For as in Adam, all die. So in Christ all will be made alive.”
You might circle in your notes, “All,” and “all.” This is sort of unpleasant that we don’t look at but the mortality rate of everyone in this room is one hundred percent. We’re all going to die. And the only reason we’re going to die is because there’s sin in the world.
And the only reason there’s sin in the world is because in act two our first parents sinned and we inherited that. But all will be made alive. Every single person will be resurrected, and to those people who say, “God, you know, I don’t want your stuff, and Jesus, I don’t believe in you. And, tell you what, you can have all this big light, I’m going with my light.”
You know what God will say to those people, even though it will break His heart? He’ll say, “Thy will be done. Thy will be done.”
God will not coerce, or force, anyone to be with Him forever. So, people who have said, “I don’t want anything to do with You in this life…” all hell is, is an extension of people getting their will. No one will be in any situation saying, “Oh, God, I wish I could get into heaven. Oh, I wish I could love you, but I can’t.” His arms are open. But He’s just.
Well, how do you receive the rescue? For me, I was eighteen and I didn’t know if God existed. But let me tell you the good news. That’s what the word “gospel” means. It means, “good news.”
There are four facts of the gospel. I want to summarize them and as I do can I ask you, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ would you listen to this with fresh ears and say to yourself, “Do I really believe it? Do I really believe God loves me this much? And if He loves me this much why in the world wouldn’t I trust Him for other stuff?” Okay?
You know, like my future, and like my decisions, and like my family, and like my singleness, and like my priorities, and like my money… And why wouldn’t I do life the way His love letter says, if He really loves me this much?
And if you’re a person that may be here and checking it out, and came with a friend, let me encourage you to listen with these kind of ears: “Could it be that this is true? Could it be that I’m made by a personal God who loves me?
Could it be that my problems, many of my own making and the making of other people because I have sinned, and could it be that Jesus came and died and rose from the dead and today is the day I could receive forgiveness?”
So, let me give you the facts. Fact number one of the good news is that you are a sinner. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And that’s not an offensive word. I mean, it’s been used in some sort of bad ways.
The word just means you miss the mark. It’s similar to the word “transgression,” it’s like here’s a line, it means you cross over it. We know what’s right to do and we do the wrong thing, right?
I mean, and you don’t have to learn this. That beautiful little boy that I cried and loved so much, he got to be about two years old. And I would ask him to do something. Two years old he’d walk up like this, “No!” Well, you know what I like now? He’s got a two year old. And I was over at his house just a couple of days ago and he told him to do something. That kid just looked at him and went… It’s in us, people! We’re selfish! We fall short. Now, if there’s anyone here that’s never had a bad thought, never sinned, never hurt anybody in any way, you’re absolutely perfect, you do not need this. However, check with the person you came with.
Second, the penalty of sin is death. “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” See, God is fair. There’s wages, right? When you go to work, what’s a wage? A wage is simply what you get for what you do.
And the Bible says that the wages, or what we’re going to get paid for our sin, is separation forever. The first two facts of the gospel are bad news. But then the good news kicks in. Christ died to pay for my sin. But God demonstrated His love for you in that while you and me were yet, literally, enemies, sinners – apart from Him – Christ died.
Circle the word “for.” It’s an important word. Died for you. It means He died in your place and for your sake. In the old days, because it’s a vivid picture, if you can imagine on a terrible day of rage, that somehow you killed someone, and you did it, and you were convicted by a court, and they said, “The death sentence.” And they stuck you in an electric chair and strapped you down, and the guy is ready to pull the switch because you justly deserve to die for someone that you killed.
What the Bible is talking about in this verse is that Jesus would walk in the room and say, “Time out. I don’t want this one to be killed.” And so it’s gotta be just. And he would unstrap you, you would get up, and he would sit in the electric chair to take everything that you deserve and they would pull the switch.
See, that’s the gospel. At the heart of the gospel is substitution. At the heart of the good news is what you could never do, I could never do for myself, Christ died in your place. Why? Because He loves you. He wants to reconcile you.
But finally the good news doesn’t become great news in your life, that’s all true. A lot of people intellectually believe that, but you must personally receive Christ, by faith. A biblical faith. “Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believe in His name He gave the right or the authority to become children of God.” See, when a person crosses that line, and the Spirit of God comes into your heart and into your life, you become a child of God, and then you start taking on family resemblance. You have an appetite for His Word because it’s a love letter.
Your life begins to change. You don’t have it all together, your problems don’t go away but you literally become, are you ready, more whole and more holy and you become a conduit of His grace.
But you need to receive Him. Knowing the truth of the gospel doesn’t save or forgive you. By faith you need to receive it. And, see, faith isn’t intellectual ascent. It’s not just saying, “I intellectually believe there was a Jesus, I intellectually believe maybe He was the Son of God, I intellectually believe He rose from the dead.” Great for you all, that’s truth.
Biblical faith is the mind, will, and emotions trusting that to the point of action.
When I was a skeptic, and had not read the Bible, and was in this journey of, “Could this be true?” I couldn’t get over this issue of faith. And so, a guy told me a story, it was a true story, it was an illustration to show me what biblical faith was.
And he talked about a few decades ago there was a guy, apparently wanted to make some money, and they put a wire from Canada to New York, at Niagara Falls. And this is a true story. He actually would go across it. And so he’d get on this thing like this and at first he went and walked. And then, you know, as he’s revving up the crowd he went across with a wheelbarrow. And then the next time across he put, like, these bags of sand – a hundred and fifty pound bags of sand – he obviously was very good, and nuts, I think.
But so he goes across, fifty pounds, fifty pounds this way. And apparently as the story goes there was one guy that was just absolutely bonkers, “You are amazing! You are great! I can’t believe it! Man, you can go like this, you go with a wheelbarrow.” He goes, “Well, do you really believe I could go across there again?” “Yes.” “Do you believe instead of sand I could put a person in there? A man?” “Yes! You’re amazing!” He said, “Well, you look like you weigh about a hundred and fifty pounds. You get in the wheelbarrow.”
That’s biblical faith. You know what I find in Christendom today? There are millions and millions of people standing, agreeing, and cheering that it is possible that God has indeed done that and their lives have no family resemblance because they think faith is intellectually believing what we talked about is true.
Faith is getting in the wheelbarrow. And it’s saying, “I’m turning from my sin, I’m receiving the gift, and it’s a transfer of trust and I am now following you by your grace.”
And you know what happens? Your life changes. It changes not by trying hard. It changes from the inside out. Have you ever done that? That’s receiving Christ. “As many as receive Him.”
The other big lie in Christendom, and this is what I grew up with, is that being a Christian was like being religious, or trying to be moral. Believe me, there’s a lot of people that are a lot more moral than most Christians.
You know what a Christian is? A Christ-one? It’s, “Do you have the Son?” The Bible says if you have the Son you have life, if you don’t have the Son, you don’t have life.
It’s all, remember? The story starts with you’re made for Him, He wants to be with you. Christ wants to live inside of you and He wants to reconcile you and have a new relationship where the old passes and everything is new.
Have you ever experienced that? It’s an offer, it’s a free gift.