So, what I’d like to do tonight is challenge you in two areas. One, the message that you’re preaching, and two, whether or not you’re soundly saved. The book of Philemon says in verse four, “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith, which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints, that the communication of your faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”
That word effectual means active, operative, and powerful. And I trust that it’s your prayer that the communication of your faith be active, operative, and powerful.
We’re extremely excited about our movie, The Atheist Delusion, because it’s got the power to equip Christians on how to deal with atheism, and it deals with atheism itself. There’s nothing as foolish as the philosophy of atheism. Saying that nothing created everything is a scientific impossibility. I mean, what proof is there that there was a builder? The building is proof there’s a builder. What proof is there that there was a painter? Well, the painting is proof of a painter. And creation is proof of a Creator. But we have multitudes, literally millions in this nation, particularly in our universities and our learning institutions, who are giving themselves to the foolishness of atheism because it opens the door to all sorts of sexual and sinful pleasures. We’re losing a generation to the foolishness of atheism.
America’s Greatest Sin
Atheism is basically idolatry. Most people don’t realize that. If I were to ask you, “What do you think the number one sin in America is,” I wonder how you would answer that. Would you say abortion? Adultery? Fornication? Pornography? Homosexuality? Is it violence? What is the number one sin? I believe it’s idolatry. Because God saw fit to address idolatry in the first two of the ten commandments. And sadly, much of the church couldn’t even define what idolatry is. You know what idolatry is? It’s making a god in your image, having another god before Him. Creating a god you feel comfortable with. This is normally how idolatry works. It works like buffets. You like buffets? I do. Served instantly what you want, when you want it, and you get more if you want it, just like that. That’s what idolatry’s like.
In a buffet, you go out and take the sweet things you like and you make a meal that delights your heart. Well, that’s what idolatry does. It takes all the nice things about God, His holiness is left aside, His justice is left aside, His righteousness left aside, but you take mercy, love, kindness, and sweetness, and you create a nice sweet god that you can cuddle up to and not feel uncomfortable with. That sin leads to all other sins.
Adolf Hitler was an idolater. He had an image of a god in his mind, and his god allowed him to carry out his evil agenda. And we live in a country that draws nearer to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. They don’t embrace the God of the Bible. It’s the god of their own image, and that leads to all other sins, including homosexuality, adultery, pornography, etc. We have lost the fear of God in our nation. And one major contributor to this is the gospel that’s being proclaimed, the gospel of “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” If that’s what you preach, let me challenge you tonight as to the scriptural nature of that.
Does God Really Have a Wonderful Plan for Your Life?
Firstly, let’s deal with the abundant life. Well, God has a wonderful plan for your life. Jesus spoke of an abundant life. You know what the word abundant means? Full. That’s all it means. The apostle Paul had an abundant life, full of beating, stoning, shipwrecks, imprisonment, and martyrdom. A very full life. Everywhere he went, he was hated for His namesake. Tell Stephen about the wonderful plans. Rocks crushed his bones and killed him. Or the first 11 disciples, murdered for their faith. Or read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and see how the church foundation is soaked in blood.
But if you really want to hang on to the “God has a wonderful plan for your life” message, let me give you this scenario. You’ve been asked to preach to 1000 people on the 100th story of the World Trade Center, September the 10th, 2001. As you look at the 1000 faces in front of you, you know that every one of these people are going to die a horrific death. Some will leap 100 stories to the unforgiving sidewalks of New York. Others will stay in the building, fall with it and be crushed to a point where their bodies would never be recovered. Others will be burned alive with jet fuel. So, what are you going to say to these people? People that you know are going to die within 24 hours a horrible death? “God has a wonderful plan for your life?”
You would have a sober attitude. You’re speaking to people who are going to die, and you’d probably say to them something like this: “Oh, please listen to me. Every year, 54 million people die. People like you and me, making plans for tomorrow that will never come. 54 million every year. Young people. Older people. Aneurysm. Car accident. Heart attack. Snatched into eternity. No second chance. And the Bible says, ‘It’s appointed a man once to die, and after this, the judgment.’” And then you’d say, “You have to face a holy God. Not the god of your own image. Not the god you’ve snuggled up to all your life and prayed to and treated like a divine butler; but you have to face a holy God who is a fire of justice. A God who has set aside a day in which He’ll judge the world in righteousness. And Jesus warned, ‘Whoever falls upon the stone shall be broken, but on who so the stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.’”
The Day of Judgement
Now, what did Jesus mean by that? Well, if you grind something to powder, you do a thorough job, and God’s justice on the Day of Judgment will be absolute and thorough. He’ll judge right down to your thoughts and the intents of your heart. Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said by them of old you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you whoever looks upon a woman to lust for her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” Every time you lust, you store up His wrath that will be revealed on the Day of Judgment.
Have you ever watched a high-speed freeway chase? They always have a guy in a helicopter commentating and saying, “Look at the guy. He’s not going to get away. Why doesn’t he just give up? Look, he’s just broken the law again. He’s making it worse for himself. Uh-oh. Straight through another stop sign. Now a red light. He’s just making it even worse. When they catch him, and they will catch him, because he can’t get away, he will be punished for every crime committed. There’s a helicopter following him everywhere with a light—he can’t escape.” And God is exactly the same. There’s an eye of the Lord that’s in every place beholding the evil and the good. You cannot get away with anything. There’s no such thing as a secret. God sees all. The eye of the Lord is in every place beholding the evil and the good, and every time we sin, lust, hate, get angry, we store up His wrath and it’s going to be revealed on the Day of Judgment. What a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
All liars will have their part in the lake of fire. You see, we tend to justify our sins and say, “Just white lies.” Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. Or using God’s name in vain, “OMG.” Replacing God’s name, the holy name of God, the name the Jews won’t even speak because it’s so holy, instead replacing it with a four-letter filth word beginning with S. That’s taking His name in vain, not giving him the honor due to Him. The Bible says idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God. If you hate someone, the Bible says you commit murder in your heart. That’s what you would say to people who are about to die. You’re telling them what’s facing them after death.
God’s Standard of Goodness
Now, what I’ve done is I’ve just gone through some of the Ten Commandments to bring the knowledge of sin. The reason I do that, and the reason you should do it, is because it’s what Jesus did. A rich young ruler came running to Jesus and he said, “Good master, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” He knelt before Jesus. And most of us, if we were asked that question, would say, “Oh, eternal life? Quick. Say this prayer before you change your mind.” But what did Jesus do? He said, “Why do you call me good? There’s none good but God.” He reproved the man’s understanding of the word “good.” You ask most people, “Do you think you’re a good person?” They’ll say, “Yeah, I’m a really good person.” Why do they say that? Because they judge themselves by man’s standard rather than by God’s standard.
If you look up the word good in the dictionary, there’s over 40 different definitions, and number one is moral excellence. That’s what God means by good: moral perfection in thought, word, and deed. And there’s none good but God. And then Jesus gave him five of the Ten Commandments. Why did He do that? To bring the knowledge of sin. To show him God’s standard of judgment on the Day of Judgment. Paul said, “I had not known sin but by the Law.” Same principle with a doctor. A doctor doesn’t give a cure to a patient who doesn’t realize he has the disease. If a doctor wants the patient to take the cure, he will diagnose the disease first, make the patient see the seriousness of his condition, that he’s going to die real soon if he doesn’t have the cure, and once the patient begins to tremble and say, “What should I do?” Then he says, “Oh, here’s the cure.” And the patient’s going to grab that cure and appreciate it and appropriate it.
“What we’ve done in our country is we’ve run around saying it’s easy to become a Christian when Jesus said the opposite.”
And what we’ve done in our country is we’ve run around saying it’s easy to become a Christian when Jesus said the opposite. We’ve said, “All you’ve gotta do is ask Jesus into your heart,” when there’s no such thing in the Bible. The Bible speaks of repentance toward God. Jesus said, “Strive to enter at the straight gate.” Strive. That word strive in the Greek is agónizomai, from which we derive the word agonize. To become a Christian, you have to let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness, not ask Jesus into your heart and tack Him onto the end of your life and continue to live in sin. The Bible says, “Without holiness, no man will see the Lord.”
So, if you had those thousand people before you and you knew what you were doing and you knew the biblical presentation of the gospel, you would make them tremble because they’ve sinned against God. You would do what Nathan did to David when David committed adultery and committed murder, and lived as a hypocrite and blasphemed the name of God, and broke all those commandments. What did Nathan do? Come up to him and say, “God has a wonderful plan for your life?” What’s that got to do with anything? David had sinned against God; he had broken the Commandments. So Nathan gave him a little story about a man who stole another man’s lamb, and when David said, “That man will restore four-fold and he will die,” Nathan said, “You are the man! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord?” And David said, “I have sinned against God.”
And then came the gospel. Then came, “Nevertheless, you shall not die, for God has put away your sin.” We live in a nation of adulterers and blasphemers. People filled with bitterness and hatred, with no fear of God before their eyes. So to run around saying, “God has a wonderful plan for your life” has got nothing to do with anything. We need to do what Nathan did and be faithful and confront them about their sins. And we can do it if we do it in love and in gentleness. Start on the natural, then swing to the spiritual. Just get to know a person.
I believe in friendship evangelism. You know, where you befriend someone. Sometimes I’ll befriend someone for two, maybe three minutes before I share the gospel with them. Why? Because they could be part of the 54 million tonight snatched into eternity, damned forever because I was hesitating because I was too fearful. The fear of man brings a snare. So, with those 1000 people, you would talk about Judgment Day, the reality of Hell, and then you’d say, “Nevertheless, you shall not die, for God has put away your sin.” We bring the gospel. Say, “Nevertheless, God, who is holy and just, whose wrath abides on you, is rich in mercy and He provided a Savior.” God became a human being, Jesus of Nazareth. Perfect, sinless man. He was the image of the invisible God, and gave His life on the cross to take the punishment for the sin of the world.
Our Case Freely Dismissed
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be made righteous in the sight of God. The wrath of God’s Law came upon Him so we could have mercy. Our God’s a judge, we broke God’s Law, we’re heading for God’s prison, a place called Hell, without parole, but Jesus stepped in and paid our fine. If you’re in court and somebody pays your fine, the judge can let you go and still do that which is just and right. He can say, “This person is guilty, but someone’s paid the fine, so he’s out of here.” God can legally dismiss your case, because Jesus suffered on the cross on your behalf and cried, “It is finished.” The debt has been paid.
“That’s the problem that’s happened to our nation. Evangelism has dropped the Law in its gospel proclamation. It doesn’t diagnose the disease.”
So, God can now freely dismiss your case. You can walk out of the courtroom. God can commute your death sentence because of that suffering death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What you have to do is repent and trust alone in Jesus. And that’s the problem that’s happened to our nation. Evangelism has dropped the Law in its gospel proclamation. It doesn’t diagnose the disease. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, said, “If you fail to use the Law, you will fill the church with false converts,” and we have multitudes of false converts sitting among God’s people, tares among the wheat, foolish virgins among the wise, goats among the sheep, bad fish among the good. And they’re going to be sorted out on the Day of Judgment.
Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, we’ve done many wonderful things in your name,’” and He’ll say, “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity.” That word iniquity means lawlessness. There’s no regard to the divine Law. And we have multitudes in this nation, throughout the world, who name the name of Christ but don’t depart from iniquity, and perhaps you’re one of them. Perhaps you think you’re saved and there’s no fruit, there’s no things that accompany salvation.
Don’t Change the Message
So, that’s probably what you would say to people who are about to die in the World Trade Center. So why would you change the message to people on the streets who can also die horrific deaths? The agony of cancer and other diseases. Horrific car accidents where they’re crushed in a car and bleed to death. 54 million every year. Why would you change the message? If you have to change the message, it’s not the gospel. So, number one, make sure you’ve got the right message. Because if you’ve got a watered-down message, it may be easy for them to swallow, but it’s going to lose its curative properties.
So let me just take a moment to show you practically how I share the gospel, if I may. Because I want you to leave here not saying, “I know I should do it, but I don’t know what to do.” I want to put tools in your hands. I want you to have the knowledge on how to share your faith. Study to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed. If you’re ashamed of the gospel, that you don’t know how to witness, it’s probably because you’ve never studied it.
Evaluate and Evangelize
When you’re a little baby, you don’t remember, but you wanted to crawl. You didn’t lie on your back for your whole life. No. You want to, so you turned over and you started crawling. Then you walked. You know why? You don’t remember it, but you wanted to walk. Then you wanted to ride a bike. So you applied yourself to it. You fell off the bike a few times, but you applied yourself to it. Then you wanted to drive a car. So you studied it, to do those things that you want. Same applies with evangelism. You study it. You become proficient in it. Some people say to me, “You’ve got the gift of evangelism.” There’s no such thing. Evangelism is just love in action. Could you let a child drown in a swimming pool because you’re busy polishing your car? Of course not. You’ve got love in your heart.
“Love cannot let a child drown in a swimming pool, and love cannot sit on a pew and let sinners sink into Hell.”
If you let a child drown in your swimming pool, the law will put you in jail for the crime of what’s called depraved indifference. Depraved means as low as you can get, and indifference means you couldn’t care less. Bill Brighton in his book “The Coming Revival” said, “Two percent of the church in America regularly share their faith with others.” That means 98% of our church in our country could be guilty of the crime of depraved indifference. “World could go to Hell, I couldn’t care less.” Love cannot let a child drown in a swimming pool, and love cannot sit on a pew and let sinners sink into Hell.
Charles Spurgeon said, “If you don’t wish for others to be saved, then you’re not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” Let me repeat that. He said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” You see, to say I’m gifted in evangelism is like saying to someone who just finishes a marathon, “Boy, you’re really gifted.” He’d probably turn to you and say, “What are you talking about? See these muscles? That took years to get. Hard work. Denying myself certain foods. Eating foods I don’t like. Running 30 miles a week. Training. Falling over. Sweating. Pain and suffering to get this. What do you mean a gift? It’s been hard work.” Exactly the same applies with evangelism.
I’ve endured bruises, sweat, pain, suffering and self-denial to get proficient at the gospel. I’ve learned what to say to an atheist. I’ve studied it. I’ve learned what to say to an idolater, to someone who’s given to sin. And you can, too. Because it’s not a gift; it’s hard work. But if you have had a Gethsemane experience, you will do it. If you have sweat drops of blood and said, “Lord, I’m terrified silly by evangelism, but not my will but yours be done,” you will do it. That’s what a Christian is.
So, let me tell you how I approach a stranger. Firstly, I always carry gospel tracts on me. You’ll never find me in public without gospel tracts. I’ve said everywhere I teach and preach, if anyone finds me in public without gospel tracts, I’ll give them $1000 cash. Some guy saw me in a swimming pool once and went, “A-ha!” I went, “A-ha!” and pulled a gospel tract out of my swimming trunks. You’ll never find me in public without tracts. I’ve always got them on me. Why? Because they help me share my faith. If I’ve got a stranger, I think I’ve got my fears. I look at him, I think, “He hates Christians. I can tell.” My imagination goes crazy on me. I have to battle fear all the time. I’ve crossed streets to avoid giving someone a tract. All of us have those fears.
So what I do is I say, “Hey, did you get one of these million-dollar bills?” We have a million-dollar bill tract. Now, it’s not really a million-dollar bill, but if there was a million-dollar bill, it would probably look like this. This is a good tract. On the back, it has the gospel. So, I just say to people, “Did you get your million?” “No.” “Well, there you are.” And if I’ve got time, I say, “It’s a gospel tract.” And I watch for their reaction, to see if they’re going to explode. Do you know 87% of Americans want “under God” kept in the Pledge of Allegiance? 87%. That means nearly nine out of ten people you meet believe in God, are congenial toward the things of God. So, I say, “What’s your name?” He says Bill. I say, “Oh, Bill, I’m Ray. Pleased to meet you. So, it’s got a gospel message on it.”
Ask the Question
And then I ask this question. Now listen really carefully, because this is the question that has helped me overcome my fears. This is what I ask strangers. I get their name and I say, “Bill, do you think there’s an afterlife? What do you think happens when someone dies?” I haven’t mentioned God, Jesus, the Bible, Heaven, Hell, the blood of Christ, Judgment Day, all the things that make us and him feel uncomfortable. I’ve just asked for his opinion, his favorite subject. “What do you think happens when someone dies?” And most people say something like this, “Boy, I don’t know.” I said, “Do you think about it?” And Bill says, “Yeah. All the time.”
Hebrews 2:14 says, “For as much as you and I are made of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise became flesh and blood so He could pass through death and in doing so destroy him who had the power of death and deliver those who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Every single person fears death. They’re tormented by it, that they’ve got an appointment to keep. And every time their heart beats, it’s like a drumbeat taking them closer and closer to their funeral. Everyone has that dread.
Use the Law
So when Bill says, “Yeah, all the time,” my fears are dissipated. I think, “He’s just like me.” So, I say, “Well, Bill, do you think you’re a good person? Are you going to make it to Heaven?” He says, “I hope so.” So, now my fears are more dissipated. He hopes he’s going to make it to Heaven. So, I say, “Well, let’s have a little test. Let’s run through the 10 Commandments and see if you’re a good person. How many lies have you told?” He says, “Oh, lots.” “Ever stolen something?” “Yeah.” “Ever use God’s name in vain.” “Yeah. Yeah. I do that all the time.”
“Jesus said if you look at a woman and lust for her, you commit adultery with her in your heart. Have you ever done that?” He says, “Yeah. All the time. Can’t help it.” “So, Bill, you’ve just told me you’re a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. You have to face God on Judgment Day.” What have I done? Used the Law to bring the knowledge of sin. What I’ve done is appealed to his will to live and his God-given, society shaped conscience. The word “conscience” means “with knowledge.” “Con” is with, “science” is knowledge. Every single person has an inner knowledge of right and wrong. “You shall not steal. You shall not lie. You shall not commit adultery.” They know God should be first. They know they’re like Adam, running from God because of their sin.
The Fruit of Biblical Evangelism
When you witness like Jesus witnessed, you can have confidence the Holy Spirit will bless it and convict of sin, which is transgression of the Law, righteousness, which is of the Law, and judgment, which is by the Law. And suddenly when he trembles and says, “Man, I’m heading for Hell,” then the gospel makes sense to him. Then the cure makes sense to him, because now he sees he has the disease. And so when you speak of repentance and of what Jesus did on the cross, he can understand it. “He paid my fine so I could leave the courtroom? I need to repent.” And now he knows what he’s to repent of. Because if you leave him without the knowledge of sin, he’ll still think he’s a good person. He won’t repent.
But now you’ve applied the Law to his conscience. He knows he’s a liar. He’s a thief. He’s burning with unlawful sexual desire that God has seen, and He’s stored up His wrath. So now he’s able to find a place of godly sorrow, of contrition, and say, “God, be merciful to me. I’m a sinner.” In so doing, he comes through the straight gate, the narrow way, that leads to life.
What Do I Do Now?
So, I trust, number one, if you’ve never truly repented and passed from death to life, and if you’re not living in holiness as evidence you’re saved, that today you’ll do so. Number two, that I’ve given you something to help you overcome your own fears and to share the gospel biblically so that sinners come through the door of genuine repentance and not sit amongst God’s people as false converts.
Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.” What a wonderful promise. You are blessed if you don’t listen to the advice of the world. It’s wrong. Don’t listen to the counsel of the ungodly. And if you don’t stand in the way of sinners nor sit in the seat of the scornful, but your delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law you meditate both day and night, you will be like a tree planted by rivers of water that brings forth fruit in seasons, with leaf that shall not wither, and whatever you do, it shall prosper.
So, here we have a promise from God, that if you meditate on His Law both day and night, you’ll be as a tree planted by rivers of water. That means you’re tall and strong. Your leaf won’t wither. That means you retain your vibrancy and freshness as a Christian. You’ll bring forth the fruits in season. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faith, meekness, and temperance. And whatever you do you will prosper. I’m not talking about the prosperity preacher’s gospel. I’m talking about prospering in your marriage, your vocation, your evangelistic endeavors, to the glory of God.
Be Rooted in the Word
Now, I did three and a half years as a pastor many years ago before I began itinerating. Three and a half years, the time of tribulation. I did not like being a pastor, but it was a very, very good grounding for me before I began an itinerant ministry. Because when I get into a pulpit like this, I realize the trust that’s been in placed in me. The people that sit above you in a place of authority even trusted me to speak to you precious people. And I understand that. When a pastor lets me into his pulpit, it’s like me giving my car keys to a complete stranger, sitting in the backseat with my family and saying, “Could you please stay on the right side of the road?” It’s a place of tremendous trust.
But I didn’t like being a pastor. Why? Because I didn’t like counseling people. You see, by gifting, I’m an evangelist—not a shepherd. If someone takes a lame sheep to a shepherd, he’ll go, “Oh, let me hold you.” I say, “Get on your feet and go and reproduce.” There’s a different kind of spirit, okay? And the reason I didn’t like counseling people is because I remember one incident. This particular couple, whom I thought were married, came for marriage counsel. I gave them 20 minutes of marriage counsel and found out they were not married, they were living in adultery, and they just forgot to tell me that at the beginning of the session. And I thought, “Man, I don’t like this.” They are hearers of the word and not doers. And I’d get in the car, drive to the heart of a local city, and I’d preach the gospel to unsaved people who would listen.
And so I developed one sentence, one question that got me out of counseling. I didn’t have to do any more counseling when I asked this one question. Those of you who are in a place of leadership are now listening to what I’m saying, because you would like to get out of having to counsel people too. So, this was the question. Someone would say, “Pastor Ray, could we come to you for counseling?” I’d say, “Yeah, come here. I’ve got a question for you first. Do you read your Bible every day without fail?” And the guy would say, “Yeah, but not every day. Almost every day.” I’d say, “You seemed to miss the question. I’ll ask it again. Do you read your Bible every day without fail?” He’d say, “No, I don’t.” I say, “There’s your problem. Because the Bible says if you meditate on the Law of God both day and night, you’ll be a tree planted by rivers of water, bringing forth fruit in season, your leaf won’t wither, and whatever you do will prosper. It’s because you’re a lazy person, you’re not a disciple of Christ. You’re not as a tree planted by rivers of water. Your roots are shallow, the winds have reversed, you blow over, you topple, you lose your peace and joy and need a pastor to prop you up again. Your leaf is beginning to wither and whatever you’re doing isn’t prospering because you’re not meditating on the Law of God both day and night.”
The Cost of Spiritual Laziness
I have three kids. One of each. Imagine if when my kids were little, I had said to them, “Kids, eat what you want when you want.” They would have chosen candy bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But I said, “Kids, don’t eat what you want when you want. Eat what is good for you even if you don’t like the taste. Think cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and stuff that turns your stomach because it’s going to profit you whether you enjoy it or not.”
I’ve got to admit, sometimes I pick up my Bible and it feels kind of heavy. And I’m really not enjoying some books. I mean, Genesis? Exodus? Leviticus? Numbers? And as I’m reading through the books that are just hard to chew, I’m saying in my heart, “Oh, for a Psalm. Something light and fluffy. Little gaps in numbers. Chewy and palatable.” But as I know I’m feeding on the Word that I’m not enjoying it, it’s still profiting me, whether I’m enjoying it or not.
Folks, being a Christian means you are a disciple of Christ. Disciplined. You pick up your cross daily and deny yourself. You’re a soldier of Christ. The essence of an army is discipline. When I wake up in the morning, sometimes I don’t feel like reading my Bible. I don’t feel like it because my breath will kill a house plant 15 paces away. My face is pale. My hair is outstanding. I don’t feel like reading my Bible. But I do it anyway, because I’m not my own and I’m bought with a price. That’s what a Christian is. Not my will, but Yours be done.
We Must Hunger for the Word
We should be crying, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We should be as the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily. Job said, “I esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” He said, “I esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” So, let’s do something really embarrassing. I’m going to ask you if you read your Bible every day without fail, but please don’t go like this, “Yes!” Because I want you to think before you answer. Because many times, people I’ve asked this to quickly say, “Yes! Oh, wait. Not every day. Oh, I’ve just lied.” And the only way you’re going to get peace back is to send me an email and say, “Excuse me, Ray. I lied. I don’t read my Bible every day.” And it’s embarrassing for you and for me.
So, put the brain into gear before the arm into action, okay? If you read your Bible every day without fail, go ahead and answer to yourself. Let’s see how many disciples we have reading this article. Now, some of you may be saying to yourselves, “I read my Bible every second day.” What? You go 180 days a year without reading God’s Word? Others of you are thinking, “Well, I just slip up now and then. I’m so busy.” Oh. Are you like that with your stomach? You say, “Why am I feeling weak? I haven’t eaten for three days.” Oh no, that’s not true. Your belly comes before your Bible. All you’ve got to do is swing it around and say, “No Bible, no breakfast. No read, no feed.” Be as Job, who said, “I esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
“We are the lukewarm Laodicean church that draws near to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.”
When I started asking people this about 30 years ago, I’d go to churches and I’d think, “Everybody’s like me. They read the Bible every day.” I’ve been a Christian for 44 years, and never once have I missed out on reading God’s Word daily. Not once. And I thought every Christian was like that until I asked. We are the lukewarm Laodicean church that draws near to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. And we’re in danger of being spewed out of His mouth. We haven’t passed through the jagged edge teeth of His Law to be broken and absorbed into the body of Christ, to become His hands, His feet, and His mouth. Our mouths don’t preach the gospel to every creature. Our feet are unshod for the preparation of the gospel of peace, and our hands don’t reach out to sinners and pull them from the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
We Must Fear God
We draw near to God with only our lips. If we’re going to raise our hands and worship God, let’s be sure we prepare to reach out our hands in evangelism for God. Charles Spurgeon said, “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write the word ‘damnation’ with your finger.” So, I trust tonight that you are partaking in the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The Bible says, “Men depart from evil through the fear of the Lord.” If you study all the evils that take place in a nation, it says there is no fear of God before their eyes. And that’s your problem. If you’re given to sexual sin, there’s no fear of God before your eyes. If you think you’ve got a problem with pornography, no you haven’t. You’ve got a problem of the lack of the fear of God. You’re an idolater. You’re snuggling up to a god that you’ve made in your own image. And the Bible says, “Idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
So, let’s pray, and we’ll ask God to touch our hearts. Father, we pray for anyone who has never truly repented, that they will cry, “God, I’m a sinner. I’m burning with unlawful desires that are an abomination to You. I’ve lied and stolen. I’m heading for Hell. Oh God, please save me.” Let the cross be real. Let repentance be real. Let trust in Jesus be saving faith tonight. We pray for the rest of us who have been so slack when it comes to evangelism, and the erroneous message that makes us feel comfortable rather than the truths of the Word of God. Please help us. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.