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Why Christianity Matters

From the series Jesus Loves Me

If someone were to ask you, what do I have to believe to follow Jesus?... What would you say? Are you confident in your answers? In this message, we’re kicking off our series Jesus Loves Me: Essentials of the Christian Faith, taught by our guest teacher John Dickerson. Stay with us as he helps us know and defend the foundational truths Christianity rests upon.

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Message Transcript

This series is all about the Christian essentials. In other words, if you were in a room with no Internet access, no Bible, no book, nothing, and someone said, “What is Christianity about? What do I have to believe to be a Christian? Or how do I access the power of God,” by the end of this series, you’re going to know with confidence exactly what you could say to them and actually, it’s all summarized in that song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

And what we are going to do each week of this series is look at the significance of each of those words. What do you have to believe about Jesus to be a Christian? What do you have to believe about His love and about yourself and about the Word of God?

We are starting off the series with kind of the “so what?” question. Does it matter? I mean, we live in a society that increasingly says, “Well, you believe what you believe. I believe what I believe. Really, ideas don’t matter that much. Beliefs don’t matter just as long as you’re nice to people and you’re a good citizen of society, then everything is okay.
So, in that kind of society, does it really matter if we get Christianity right or wrong? And that’s what we are going to answer today.

But I want to talk with you about that feeling when you’re kind of stuck, you’re kind of stranded, and you realize, I need some outside help. Maybe it’s a situation where your phone battery dies and you’re, like, How am I going to access my life? I need a charger, right? We all have these situations where we need some outside help, and what we are asking today is this: Where can you access power to solve your biggest problems?

We face things like a cancer diagnosis, or a divorce, or a lawsuit against us, or something that happens in our finances or a broken relationships with our kids or with our in-laws. Or we face these bigger problems and our big idea is very simply this: Christ’s message is the power to change our world and it’s the power to change ourselves for the better. Christ’s message, the good news that He brings, or the gospel you can call it, it is the power to change our world for the better. It’s also the power to change ourselves for the better.

Now, I was talking earlier about situations where you realize you need outside help. And I think there’s one most of us can relate to. And that’s when your phone dies and you don’t have a charger. Anyone else ever relate to that situation? Maybe it’s just those of us who use our phones way too much, okay. But your phone or your computer or your tablet dies and you’re in need of a charger.

And maybe you have, like, an Apple phone, someone has a Samsung charger so it doesn’t fit. Or maybe you have a PC computer and someone has an Apple charger, and you need this power, but you can’t quite access it. And so, if that verse we read is true, and I believe it is, that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, well, how do you access that power? How do you access the power?

And I want to tell you a true story where I realized the significance of this. I was on a trip in the year 2007 to a country called Belarus. And I got into my hotel room and I found myself in a dilemma. If you have traveled to Europe or Asia, maybe you have been in this dilemma, I went to plug my computer into the wall and here’s the situation I was in. You see, they have different power outlets over there. That power outlet is shaped funny. And – or, they would say ours are shaped funny. But anyhow, I had a plug like this and the outlet was like that. And I found myself in this situation where I’m in my hotel room, all the electricity of a whole city’s power grid is right there in the wall, but I don’t have the right plug for it. And what I learned in that moment, now, I know you guys are all smarter than me and if you have traveled internationally, you packed your little adapters before you left. But I wasn’t that smart, okay? I learned this the hard way, that you need a little adapter.

And here’s what I learned. Accessing power is not complicated. Right? Any kid can plug something in. Now, they probably shouldn’t if they are too young, but it’s not complicated, but it is precise. In other words, these three pieces have to be the right three pieces and I have learned that it’s the same with accessing God’s power to change our lives. Accessing God’s power is not complicated, but it is precise.

In other words, it’s not as simple as just saying, “Yeah, I’m a Christian, therefore I have all the power of God in my life.” No, there are three or four specific things that we do need to believe to actually be a Christian, to actually plug into the power source of the universe and experience His power, His energy, His life change here in this life and in the next.

And what this series, Jesus Loves Me is all about, is you knowing those three or four things for yourself. Now, you hear them here and most of you have had a moment where you have heard this preached and you have believed it, but my desire for you as a brother in the Lord and as a spiritual leader, is that you would know with confidence the essentials of Christianity so that you can go through your life and someday if a co-worker asks you, “What do I have to believe to be a Christian?” Or if you’re tucking your kids or your grandkids into bed and they say, “I want to believe in Jesus; what does that mean?” That you think, you know exactly how to answer them. You don’t have to look it up in a book, you don’t have to ask someone, you know, “Well, it’s all summed up in this little kid’s song, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

And that you’re in a place where you could just very simply walk through each of those words, here’s what Jesus means, that He is fully God. He’s not just another person, He’s not just a good teacher, but He was God who came to earth. What does it mean that He loves us? Well, it means that He willingly went to the cross to die in our place. He didn’t just say He loved us, He showed it with actions. And after He died on the cross, He rose from the grave.

He loves me. In other words, I have to believe some things about myself, that I’m in need of a Savior, that I have made mistakes, that I am made in the image of God and I’m loved, but I do need His help, I need His forgiveness. And this I know. Have you had a moment in your life where you have said, “I believe in Jesus for myself”? Do you know it? Have you had a moment where you said, “God, I need Your salvation for me; I believe in what You did on the cross. I receive that free gift of salvation.” Have you had that moment?

And then, “For the Bible tells me so.” That the Bible, we make it the standard for what we do and believe as followers of Jesus. And that keeps us plugged into the power source. So, if you look today on your way in or if you’re watching online you can click below us, you’ll see this little card. It says, “Jesus loves me,” and you got this with your program on the way in. This gives you an outline. This is kind of a spoiler alert, okay? Because, by the way, the essentials of Christianity, it shouldn’t be like, “Come back next week to find out,” like, they are pretty well known. Okay?

But this series is about you knowing them with confidence. You don’t have to go to seminary, you don’t have to memorize a bunch of books of the Bible to know the essentials. So, this card is a tool for you and by the end of this series, you’ll be in a place that you can recite those little lines, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And you can know the significance of each of those words, know it for yourself, and also know it so that you can share it with others.

Who is Jesus? What does it mean that He loves us? Who are we? How do we know it? Why does it matter that the Bible tells us so?

Now, here’s the question we are asking today, because you might be thinking, Okay, great. You’re a pastor now. Of course you care about getting Christianity right. That’s what you do. Why does it matter for me?

So, let’s ask that question. Does it matter if we get Christianity right? I mean, does it really matter? You know, in this day and age when it’s like, well, as long as – pretty much as long as you’re nice to everyone around you, it doesn’t matter what you believe. That’s kind of the message of our day and age.

So, here we have this two thousand-year-old belief system that is all about getting a few beliefs right, beliefs that Jesus, by the way, said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He didn’t claim to be one way to God; He claimed to be the only way. So, if you’re upset that it’s very black and white, take that part up with Jesus, okay? I didn’t make that part up.

But does it matter if we get the black and white things right? And I want to start by sharing today, there are probably dozens of reasons why it matters. I’m just going to give you four today. First one is very unexpected. And it’s one that I, a conclusion I reached actually as a journalist, not as a pastor. And it’s one you might not expect to hear in church, but it does matter if we get Christianity right, first and foremost, for society. It actually matters for society.

And I’ll try to compress here about ten years of research that I have done as a total nerd and investigator. But here’s a few things I have learned. Number one, the fact that you and I know how to read today actually traces back to Christians. Do you know that the majority of people in world history never knew how to read; they were illiterate. Until about three hundred years ago, most people never knew how to read.

Now, there were these groups of people who started making these little laws in their villages that every child in the village had to learn how to read. It was the beginning of what we call public education today. Who were these people and what motivated them?

Well, these people were followers of Jesus, they were called Protestant Christians, who were very, very excited about the Bible. And they wanted all the kids in their village to know how to read the Bible. So, they created a law. You can look it up. This original law was called the “Ye Old Deluder Satan Act.” Okay? The idea was that Satan deceives people and if people can read the Word of God, they’ll find the truth. And so, we are going to make it a law that every child in our village is trained to read so they can read the Bible for themselves. And you can trace it back through history; this is not my opinion. That’s where public education comes from.

It started in England and in Germany and here in the United States through the Puritans. So, whether or not we like Christians, whether or not you even believe in God or the supernatural realm, you know how to read today because of Christians. And Christians have impacted our world in a number of other ways that are almost so big that we could miss them.

And one of the other unexpected ones is in women’s rights, believe it or not. According to the World Economic Forum, they rank women’s rights by all the nations in the world, here’s the listing of the ten best nations for women’s rights. Now, let’s just, you know, address the elephant in the room here that no nation has arrived on women’s rights. We have all got a long way to go, okay? But there are nations that are much worse and much better at giving women equal and fair treatment.

And these are ranked, again, by the World Economic Forum, not a Christian group. You don’t have to read all these, but if you want later, you can watch this online, you can pause this so you can go back and study anything I show you today. You don’t have to take my word for it. I’d encourage you to dig deeper into these things.

So, what I did is I just took the top ten off of this list. There are about two hundred nations. And then I looked at another group called the Pew Research Group to find out: What is the percent of Christians in the populations of these nations?

So, if I’m, like, number one, Iceland, eighty-five percent of the people there are Christian. You average this out across the top ten nations, seventy-five percent of the people, so that’s three out of four people, in that nations that lead the world in women’s rights are Christians. These are very Christian-influenced societies.

If you trace back through fifty years, you go back fifty years, these nations have been predominately Christian for more than fifty years. In fact, most of these hundreds of years. Okay?

Now, let’s look at the other end of the list. Because there are ten worst nations in the world for women’s rights. These are nations where women are still very often bought and sold into marriage. You get young girls – nine, ten years of age – sold into a marriage to some old guy they don’t even know.

This is places where women have to cover themselves up by law, places where women are often beaten, where they are not allowed to vote, where they are not given equal access to education. None of this is my opinion as a pastor. This is how the world works, that is sadly how women are still treated in many places of the world like Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, etcetera.

Now, what is the percentage of Christians in those nations? I did the research again from the Pew Research Center and it averages out to about eight percent. So, less than one in ten people in those societies are Christian.

Of the ten worst societies to be a woman in today, have any of them been predominately Christians for more than fifty years? No. And so, here’s what I concluded, not as a pastor but as a journalist and researcher. If I love my daughters, if I love my wife, my mom, I want them to grow up in a city that has a bunch of churches in it. You don’t have to believe in God to acknowledge that reality of the world that we live in.

Here’s the summary of this research. On average, Christians make up seventy-five percent of the top ten nations, but Christians are a fragile minority in the nations where women get the worst treatment. And this traces back through history that you can see the influence of Christian beliefs on these societies. It’s probably not what you expected to hear, but again, I encourage you. You can research all this for yourself. You can go online, check out every one of those nations for yourself.

Would you believe it that the same thing I actually discovered in education – we know that where education goes, society improves because you get engineers who can make better things. You get doctors who can advance healthcare.

So, I looked at the founding of the universities that lead the world today and again, I wanted to use non-Christian, secular researchers. So, here are the top ten universities in the world as ranked by a non-Christian group. Now, these universities you might be thinking, Oh, education, blah, blah. This is boring, okay?

But this actually matters because it is graduates of these universities who launched the scientific revolution, who have given us eyeglasses and contacts and surgery and modern medicine and electricity. Pretty much our whole modern way of life. Did you know our lifespan today is double what the historic average was? Most people only lived forty years, on average. That was the average human life expectancy until about two hundred years ago, because of the graduates of these universities.

Now, every one of these universities, just like those nations, you can go and you can do the research yourself and see who started Harvard. Who started Harvard? Well, the guy’s name is the Reverend John Harvard; he was a pastor. And he was a group of Puritan Christians who started a Bible seminary called Harvard College. And you can look at their founding documents; one is called The First Fruits of Harvard, where they say, “Dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the next generation.” In other words, we want pastors to be trained to lead our churches for our kids and grandkids. We are going to start this college.

That’s why Harvard was started. What I did for all the top ten is I went through and I looked at: Were the founders Christian? Yes, ten out of ten of the top universities in the world, the founders were Christian. But not only were they Christian, eight out of the ten were overtly Christian in their mission statement. So, for example, I mentioned Harvard, if you look at Yale, the mission statement, the original mission statement says, “For the propagation of the Protestant Christian religion.”

So, again, whether or not you believe in Jesus or God or the Bible, if you care about the women in your life, you want them to grow up in a Christian-influenced society. If you care about your kids and you want them to grow up to be educated and have good jobs, you want them to grow up in a Christian-influenced society.
Whether or not you believe in Jesus or God or the Bible, if you care about the women in your life, you want them to grow up in a Christian-influenced society. If you care about your kids and you want them to grow up to be educated and have good jobs, you want them to grow up in a Christian-influenced society.

These universities became what I call seed universities. That is their graduates went out and started other universities like IU. Indiana University started as the seminary of Indiana, started by a Presbyterian pastor who had been trained at Princeton, which was started by six pastors. Not making any of this up, but I’ll move on, okay?

Christianity accounts for one out of three people in the world today. So, there are some weirdos who call themselves Christians.

But that doesn’t change the reality that these huge leaps forward for humanity, like women’s rights and universities and hospitals were founded by devoted followers of Jesus. And that’s what we are about here. We want to be the kind of Christians who actually follow Jesus. And that’s why it matters that we know the basic beliefs about who Jesus is and who we are and what the Bible is.

So, let’s transition to furry, fuzzy animals since we have been looking at a lot of numbers, okay? Here’s a picture of a super cute animal, alright? This is a California sea otter. And if you look closely, there are actually two sea otters, you see the two noses? This is a mommy holding her baby, okay? Now, California sea otters, if you have ever seen them, they are, like, the cutest creatures. They are super cuddly, they actually float around and they’ll hold hands. Sometimes there will be a group of five or six of these, they are just holding hands, floating in the water. They just look like these little cute, cuddly, teddy bears.

Here’s a picture of a California sea otter eating lunch. This is their favorite meal. These little purple sea urchins, okay? Now, there’s something significant about the California sea otters. And marine biologists, the people who study oceans, they learned this actually the hard way.

You see, in the 1900s, these California sea otters, they were all over this area in California called the Monterey Bay. Well, hunters came in and started hunting these sea otters for their skin, and the sea otters got completely wiped out. They became extinct in the area. And then something really unexpected happened. The entire ocean ecosystem for hundreds of square miles, it all died. There used to be great white sharks and orcas and tuna fish and a whole food chain from the tiny animals all the way up.

Once the sea otters were hunted to extinction, the whole food chain died. And so, some people started looking into this and here’s what they found. They found that under water, there are these giant trees called kelp. Sea kelp. And here’s a picture of these giant sea kelp.

At least seventy-five to a hundred and fifty feet tall. As tall as the roof is in here and taller. And what happens is the smallest sea creatures eat this and then the next sea creatures eat them, and then the next sea creatures eat them, you know, so these fish eat the small fish and then the tuna, which are pretty big eat these fish and then the sharks eat the tuna and on it goes and you get the whole food chain, right?

Well, here’s what happened. Remember that little sea urchin? The purple thing that was on the sea otter’s chest? The sea urchins eat these kelp and they devastate them. If the sea urchins are just left to their own devices, if the otters are not there to eat the sea urchins, the sea urchins destroy the sea kelp; they eat it all. And the food chain starves from the very beginning. The smallest creatures don’t have anything to eat.

So, here’s what happened. Huge success story. In the 1970s, marine biologists reintroduced the cute, cuddly, furry sea otter back into the Monterey Bay. And after a few years, with the sea otter being back, the sea otters started eating their favorite meal – the sea urchins. And the kelp came back to life. And when the kelp came back to life, the little creatures could eat again and then they could get eaten by the bigger creatures. And after a few years, now there are orca whales, there are great white sharks; the whole food chain is there. There are orca whales that swim from around the world and they now go to the Monterey Bay to mate and to breed and to feed, because it’s such a rich, rich food environment.

So, biologists call this a keystone species: the sea otter. In other words, you know, a keystone, if you pull it out, the whole building falls down. A keystone species is a species that might look like it’s not a big deal, like the sea otter. But if you remove it, the whole ecosystem dies. And here’s the conclusion I reached, not as a pastor, but as a journalist. The Christians, while imperfect, are actually a keystone species for humanity. And that where Christians go, where sincere followers of Jesus go, society flourishes.

I saw it first as a reporter, that when I go to a natural disaster, guess who would be there handing out water bottles and helping the people who are now homeless: Christians. You go to a developing country, a Third World country, and who is digging the wells? Who is building the orphanages? Who is building the hospitals? It’s the Christians.

And I realized, both from on-the-ground experience as well as statistics and documentation and irrefutable history, Christians are a keystone species. Now, we are not perfect, there are a lot of messed up Christians, yes. But it doesn’t change the fact that it matters for society if there are Christians.

Next, it matters for our kids and our grandkids. Does it matter if we get Christianity right? Well, it matters for our kids and grandkids. I mean, this can be as personal and real as moms and dads who would have been divorced who don’t get divorced because they are devoted to the teachings of Jesus and they keep working through their stuff. Or moms and dads who were divorced but one of them becomes a follower of Christ or the other one does and they are able to turn that situation for good.

It matters for our kids and our grandkids. It matters for the society they will live in. But it also matters for who they will become. Do we want our kids and grandkids to live lives of freedom? Do we want them to enjoy healthy marriages and relationships? Do we want them to live a life free from addiction? Do we want them to have eternal life with God in heaven after this world? If so, then it matters if we get Christianity right.

You know, history, sadly, is littered with the corpses, the empty buildings of churches that once followed Jesus but drifted away. If you travel to Europe you’ll find all over England and France and Germany, places where education started, you’ll find these giant, empty cathedrals that are now museums or very often they get sold as commercial real estate, they get turned into shopping malls or apartment complexes. Why? Why did those vibrant groups of Christians die off?

And the answer is always that they abandoned one of these core beliefs of Christianity. They either stopped believing that Jesus was God, maybe some really slick, nice looking person stood up and said, “Hey, it doesn’t, you don’t really have to believe Jesus is God.” Or maybe they stopped believing that the Bible is the standard for what they do and believe.

But in every one of those cases where you find those empty cathedrals, they drifted from one of these core, simple things that anyone can know, that a child can know, that’s summarized in the song Jesus loves me, this I know.

And here’s my heart for us as a movement, and for you as my brothers and sisters. I want you to know the essentials of Christianity so well that if someone stood on this stage who looked better than me, that’s not that hard, okay? Who told funnier stories and made you feel so good about yourself, but one day they said, “You know what? We really don’t have to believe Jesus is God,” that a red flag would go off in your mind and you would know, That’s wrong. That leads to death.

The way that leads to life is believing that Jesus is God, that He died on the cross for me, that He rose again, and knowing that I have received that by faith. Or if someone were to stand up here and say, “You know what? This book, it’s kind of old. There’s a lot of myths in there, there’s, like, a lot of weird stuff in there. Let’s not take that book so seriously. You know, we could be followers of Jesus and not really care about that book,” that a red flag would go off in your mind, and that you, as a church, and as individuals would know, No, no, no. That’s not right. If we lose the Word of God, we will lose our way.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. It matters for our kids and our grandkids. Next, it matters for you personally. It matters for you personally. I described earlier how I have seen the teachings of Jesus transform me from the inside out. I mean, that’s my desire for you, is that you increasingly and continually see that through all the seasons of your life, that Jesus makes you a better version of yourself. And it happens when you believe the truths about Him. It happens when you obey Him and you do what He says.

And it does matter for you personally. It does make you a better version of yourself, a more honest version of yourself, a more productive version of yourself, an easier person to live with. It matters for you personally.

You know, when you get on an airplane, a good pilot has a checklist. One of my best friends is a pilot and it’s a very long checklist that they go through before a plane takes off. They’re checking the flaps, the wheel, all sorts of dozens of things.

They are making sure that things are precisely where they need to be – why? Because that plane taking off is a matter of life or death. And my heart for you in this series is that you would know the checklist, the simple things that you need to know for sure.

You don’t want to build your life on a belief system that hasn’t been inspected. You know, Jesus taught. He said that He’s the way, the truth, and the life. He also said this, that every one of us builds our life on something. And He made the analogy, it’s like building your house and you want to make sure you build your house on a solid foundation. And He said that He is the solid rock and there are all these other belief systems that are like shifting sand.

And so, this series is about you knowing what your foundation is as a follower of Jesus. Again, I have tasted, I have seen this power in my life. Now as a pastor I have seen this power in hospital rooms, I have seen it at gravesides, I have seen it in triumph and in tragedy, in health and in sickness. The gospel of Jesus is the power of God unto salvation.

Let me show you a living proof story of this. This is a friend of mine named Tim. Tim, for a long time, was not someone you would have wanted to cross paths with. Tim was an addict and a lot of the things he did as an addict, under the influence of those drugs, hurt other people. Tim ended up in prison as a result of that.

His life was a real mess and it really hurt the people around him. And then Tim had a moment where he believed in Jesus. And like all of us, that salvation moment, it starts with just the simplicity of acknowledging, “I need help, I believe Jesus is God and wants to help me.” It’s as simple as that for the start. And that’s where Tim started.

And as he followed Jesus, he learned Jesus is the one true God, Jesus died on the cross for his sins. That’s why he’s got a cross tattoo on his arm now. That Jesus rose from the dead. Tim had a moment in his life where he said, “This I know,” where he believed it for himself. He said, “God, I need Your forgiveness for my sins.” And then as he said, “For the Bible tells me so,” and he started to say, “What does God’s Word say about every area of my life?” Tim transformed and became a totally different person. Tim now lives a life that helps other people. He runs an addiction center called the Set Free Center where he helps other people get free from their addictions.

And Tim goes every month to an orphanage in Haiti, because he is following the Jesus who cares about the least of these. And so, he goes to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest areas in that country to help boys and girls who don’t have moms or dads.

And Tim is part of my life story because I saw his transformation with my own eyes. But then when my wife and I started praying, we felt like God was calling us to adopt. And we had this sense that if we are going to adopt, it’s going to be from one of the poorest countries in the world.

And we had this moment of surrender where we said, “Okay, God, if You want us to adopt a child who needs a family from one of these really poor countries, we will do it; we are surrendered. But You have just got to bring the opportunity along.” And we were in that moment of surrender when Tim stopped by our house in Arizona.

And he had this photo album of this orphanage in Haiti that he goes to every month and he started showing us these pictures of these little kids who didn’t have a mom, who didn’t have a dad. And ultimately that’s how we met our youngest daughter Evie, was through Tim.

So, does it matter if we get Christianity right? Well, it mattered for my youngest daughter, it has mattered for me, it mattered for Tim, it matters for our families, it matters for our society.

And, finally, it matters when you face death. Every one of us, no matter how much money we make, no matter how much power we have, these bodies will wear out. The Rockefellers were the richest – you know, John D. Rockefeller was one of the richest people in the world, but he’s dead. Bill Gates will someday be dead. Vladimir Putin will someday be dead.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make, it doesn’t matter how many great doctors you can afford, your body will wear out and die. All of ours will.

And I saw this as a reporter. I saw, I interviewed a group of people; they were multi-millionaires and some of them were billionaires. And they were in their seventies and eighties and they were starting to realize that they were going to die. That they could afford the very best private doctors all over the world, but their bodies were still going to die. They were going to face death. And you know what they had devised because they were atheists? They refused to believe in God.

They devised this group called Alcor that will have their bodies flash frozen like sushi so the moment they die, they are going to have their body flash frozen and they are leaving a trust with hundreds of millions of dollars to keep their body frozen in the faith and belief that someday, science will figure out how to reanimate them back to life and then heal whatever was broken in them. That is the only hope they have as they are facing death.

And what I saw as a journalist as I interviewed those people in that group Alcor is this: Everyone is going to face death. And the smartest people acknowledge that it’s coming for all of us. And the smartest people are making some plans. But as I compared that plan to this plan, I felt a lot better about this one.

I felt a lot better about this thing that we all kind of inherently know there is a God who made us, and that there is this real documented person in history who claimed to be that God. And that today, all of our birthdays are based on His date. And every time an atheist signs a check, they are writing Jesus’ birthdate on there. You know? This Man has so impacted humanity that we can almost miss it it’s so big. It’s like the ocean that we swim in. And as I investigated that, first, through the facts but then with my heart to say, “God, if You really are real; Jesus if You really are God, I want to believe.” He has changed me from the inside out.

And now, I know that someday when I face death, it’s not going to be the end for me. It’s just going to be a transition into a much, much better eternity. I remember sitting at the bedside of a ninety-two year old woman named Ruth. And I had walked with Ruth through the final months of her life. Her husband had been a follower of Jesus. He had gone to heaven ten or fifteen years before her.

And Ruth was ready to meet Jesus. And none of us look forward to death, but she knew that for her, that moment that she breathed her last breath here would be her first breath in heaven.

And Ruth had asked me, she said, “John, when I start to pass, will you just sit next to me?” And she couldn’t breathe anymore and so, the people at the nursing home had given me these ice cubes to just set on her lips, because she couldn’t swallow a whole cup of water, she couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t talk, but she could still hear.

And she had told me weeks before, “John, when that times comes, I just want you to keep reading the words of Jesus to me.” And she had this verse in particular, Jeremiah 29:11 where God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” That was Ruth’s life verse.

And I watched her. I watched her breathe her final breaths. I watched her pass from this life to the next. And while I already believed it at that time, I got to see with my eyes that when you follow Jesus, when you allow Him to transform you, you can face death with a total peace, a total calm, a total fearlessness.

So, does it matter if we get Christianity right? Yes, I believe it does. And this series is all about you knowing for sure that you have got it right and that you have it in such a way that if your kid asks you, “Well, what does it really mean?” that you can tell them this little song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And you can know what each of those words mean.

Let me pray that for you here. Father, You have gathered us here to plug into Your power. You are the power source of the universe, You are the way, the truth, and the life.

Lord, many of us in here, we have believed and we have seen this power in our lives, but, Lord, maybe the connection has gotten a little bit corroded and we have forgotten that this isn’t just a belief system or a religion; this is about the power of God that leads to salvation. And this power is available for every area of our lives today. And so, Lord, we just pray in this series, will You recharge our connection to Your power?

And, Lord, will You use us to raise up a generation that our kids and our grandkids, they would know the power of God that leads to salvation? They don’t need to go to seminary or memorize books to know Your power so well that they can always recognize if a message is not quite right or if it’s actually connected to Your power. God, You have placed us in a world that is getting darker and darker. People are fighting about how to make the world a better place and they disagree so much. And You have shown us the real answer, that the power to change the world is found in Jesus. And now You have entrusted this to us.

So, Lord, as we go from here, will You just send us out as lights in the darkness, showing and telling this good news, this hope, this light, this warmth that our world needs so much? Lord, would You use this series to anchor us deep, that we would be men and women who know the truths of Jesus and who experience the power of Jesus in our lives? We pray it all in Jesus’ name. Amen.