Let’s look at 1 Corinthians chapter 2. It’s after Genesis, before Revelation. It says, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
A Special Date
I recently wanted to take my little girl, Ella, out on a special date. I wanted to take her to someplace a little bit nicer than where I normally take her; so I took her to Wendy’s. As we were looking up at the dollar value menu section, there were about 20, 25 students that came inside of Wendy’s. They were dressed in business attire. I had asked them why they were so dressed up. “I don’t normally dress like this when I go to Wendy’s, why are you?”
They said, “Well, we are part of an epideictic debate team. We just came from a mock trial.” I said, “Oh? Well, who won the debate?” “We did, of course,” was the reply. “We always win. We’ve never lost.” “What do you debate?” “Yes,” was the reply. “We will debate anybody, anywhere, on any subject, at any time.” It was like he was gazing into my soul. I looked at him and I said, “Good luck with that.” As I went and I sat down, and as I was enjoying my frosty and fries, we heard someone blaspheming from that group really loud.
My little girl, Ella, looked at me and said, “Daddy, you need to go share the gospel with them.” “Mind your own business, baby. This is daddy-daughter time. It’s you and I. This is a rare time. Let’s not bring other people into the circle. Nobody else is allowed into the fold.” Then, somebody blasphemed again really loud. My daughter looked at me and said, “Daddy, I know that it is difficult for you to be in front of people. So if you’re not going to share, at least you have to give them gospel tracts.” I said, “Honey, I don’t have enough gospel tracts for everybody.” She says, “Oh, that’s okay. I have a secret stash in the car.” “Of course you do, my little homeschooled princess.”
I want to give you some insight and I want to be vulnerable. It is very difficult for me, believe it or not, to be in front of people. I sweat profusely. I get very nervous. And because I believe exaggerating half-truths, fibs, and contradictions equate to lying, what I have to say next is very sober and it’s very true. God is my witness that it is difficult for me to even have a meal with my own family. One of my kids, or my wife, will come up to the room, bring me my food, and will say, “Here you go.” At that point, I decide, am I going to go down and actually eat with my family, who I love? I have five kids. I have a beautiful bride. I have three boys, two girls. Three thorns, two rose petals. It’s difficult for me to even be around my own kids.
To go in front of people and preach is very difficult. I do it regularly, whether it’s at a music festival, whether it’s at a university, whether it’s on television daily. I get nervous and I’m continually reminded that God has chosen the foolish things of the world that confound the wise, so I grab ahold of that which is not in the eyes of the world in order to grab ahold of that which is in the eyes of the world, and bring them down. God grabs the most unlikely figures so that He doesn’t share His glory with anyone, because He ain’t going to do it. He’s not going to share His glory.
We go inside the vehicle. My little daughter, she gives me the gospel tracts. As I have the tracts in hand, I look over at her and I say, “Listen honey, daddy is really scared right now. Why don’t we just go?” She said to me what I say to her all the time, “You can do it with God’s help.” I said, “Honey, daddy’s really nervous. How about we spend a moment and we pray.” Six-year-old Ella looked at me and said, “Daddy, there is a time to move and there’s a time to pray.” Grabbed the tracts, went on inside Wendy’s, went up to the group.
I said, “Hey listen gang, my little girl Ella, right…where did…honey, what are you doing under the table?” She goes, “I’m scared.” “So is daddy. Is there room for me?” I said that, I kid you not. I said, “Listen, my little girl, Ella, wants to make sure that you each get one of these. This is a million-dollar bill, and…on the other side, there’s a Christian message. It tells you how you can avoid Hell, come into a relationship with your Maker, and make it to Heaven. Here you go.” I don’t even know why I said it. I tried to grab a hold of it when it left my lips, but I said, “How about we have a little mock trial. Who’s the head of your debate team?”
“‘It is not our job to open people’s hearts. It’s our job to close their mouths.’”
They pointed to a girl, her name was Dakota. Dakota stood up. It was almost if she levitated up. I go, “You’re the head of the debate team. How about we have a little mock trial?” “What’s the subject?” “Is the Christian worldview a tenable position within the secular society in which we live? Is Christianity intelligent? I will argue that it is. You can argue that it’s not. You don’t have a problem with that, do you?” “No, I have no problem with that.”
“Great. Okay, so the rest of you can be the jury. You’ll decide at the end who won the debate. You want to do this?” “Absolutely we want to do this. It’s on like Donkey Kong. Let’s do this. Come on.” It just got really weird in here. I kid you not, for the next 25, 30 minutes, we debated back and forth. Finally, I looked over at Dakota and I said, “Dakota, I’m going to give you the final word. What do you say?” Her mouth was shut. She didn’t say anything. I’m reminded of the late, great apologist, Greg Bahnsen, who said, “It is not our job to open people’s hearts. It’s our job to close their mouths.” I looked over at the jury and I said, “What’d you guys think?” Their eyes looked down at the ground except for one.
He looked at me and he said, “Are you kidding me right now? I watch you every single day and to see you do this in person, are you, are you kid…that was awesome!” I said, “Man, where were you 30 minutes ago?” He said, “I had your back.” I said, “Yeah, way back.” Now, if we examine that on a surface level, we would almost safely come to the conclusion that it was not a very fruitful encounter. I mean I shared. I spoke the truth and love to the best of my ability, but nobody asked to get right with God. They didn’t ask for my website. They didn’t want to follow me on Twitter, Instagram. They just left.
Often times, I believe that we confuse fruitfulness as equating to that of somebody repeating a prayer after me. But I believe that if you want fruit in your life when it comes to the gospel, you have to simply be faithful with the message that God has entrusted to us. You be faithful, you will be fruitful. God will bring the increase as He sees fit, some water, some plant; but God brings the increase. The salvation, the result, belongs to God.
The question is asked, “How many people have you brought to the Lord, Mark?” All of them, and what God does with them at that point is up to Him. We need to be faithful with the message that God has given us. He’s given us truth not to be horded, but to be shared, spoken with gentleness and in truth. I love these words from Hudson Taylor. He said, “All of God’s giants that have been radically used down through the ages have actually been weak men; but they did a great thing for God because they simply believed that God was going to be with them.” That was it. Period. Done. God grabs ahold of somebody who’s weak, not going to pat themselves on the back. “You’re a perfect candidate. You’re not going to touch My glory.” Weak men. Great things for God, because they simply believed that God was going to be with them.
In Mark, chapter one, verse 17, Jesus said, “Hey, come after Me…and I will make you become fishers of men. Not that you are, but you will be.” You see, God will turn you into what He wants you to be because He’s already created you for a good work, which He created before time, according to Ephesians chapter two, verse 10. You are His workmanship, His ‘poiema’ is the Greek word. English word? Poem. You’re God’s poem. The expression of His heart, the symphony of His praise, the trophy of His grace. You were created for a purpose: to bring God glory, and you will walk in that work as you trust Him.
Well today, we’re talking about speaking the truth in love. The title of my message is, “Can You Handle the Truth?” Everything I’m about ready to share with you, they’re just words; unless they are true. If they are true, that requires a response in the affirmative. You can respond in the negative by just simply not being a doer, but a hearer. If you have great difficulty as I do in being in front of people, listen very carefully to these very sobering, non-original words.
An act of courage isn’t necessarily done by those who feel brave when they do it. True courage is he who feels the fear and yet he does it anyways. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the conquering of it. Of all the people in the New Testament that you had presumed was bold enough who would not even need to ask for boldness, it’d be the Apostle Paul, wouldn’t it? I mean, he wrote one-third of the New Testament. That’s a pretty cool thing on your résumé. What does he say?
In Ephesians, chapter six, verse 19, “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me. Oh, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel for which I’m an ambassador in bonds, that therein I ought to speak.” He’s asking that you’ll pray for me that I’ll have boldness to speak. I, like the Apostle Paul, and you, can relate to the fact that it’s very difficult to get out of your comfort zone and then tell people about Jesus Christ.
“An act of courage isn’t necessarily done by those who feel brave when they do it. True courage is he who feels the fear and yet he does it anyways. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the conquering of it.”
I don’t know if you caught it, but as we read it with our text here this morning back in 1 Corinthians chapter two, the Apostle Paul, he says, “Listen, church, Corinth, when I was with you, listen, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come with excellency of speech. I was not this great orator. I could not convey myself the way other people could convey themselves. I did not have excellency of speech, or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God, for I determine not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And when I was with you, I was with you, not with just a lack of excellency of speech, but I was with you in weakness, and fear, and knee-knocking, I-think-I-threw-up-in-the-back-of-my-throat trembling. And to be honest with you, I would much rather lick the inner lining of a Tibetan yak’s ulcerated small intestine than get in front of a group of people.”
Life Is Quick
But guess what? Life is quick. Every time our heart beats, it’s the drum beat of our own our funeral march. We all have an appointment with death. We’re all going 100 miles per hour toward this thing called death. When death comes knocking, we will answer that door. And then we stand with our Maker, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?” “Oh, I horded Him all to myself.” Boy, I love singing those songs. Beautiful. We sing songs to the Captain of our salvation, and we don’t hear the words to throw a buoy to somebody who’s drowning out in the middle of the sea. I get very convicted to hear things like that.
Words like Robert Murray M’Cheyne, one of my favorite authors, who said, “Oh brethren, be wise. Why do you stand idle all day long? Listen, in a little moment, it’s all going to be over. In a little while, the day of grace will be over. All the preaching, all the praying. It’s going to be done. In a little while, we shall stand before the great white throne. In a little while, the wicked, they shall not be. We shall see them going away into everlasting punishment. In a little while, the work of eternity shall be begun, and we shall be like Him, and we shall see Him day and night in His temple. And we shall sing the new song without sin and without weariness forever and ever.”
Church, don’t worry. Those are just words. Unless they’re true. I was asked to speak at this rather large music festival. When I was done preaching the gospel, I handed the microphone back over to Jimmy Needham, he was the MC of the event. He handed it over to the owner of the event. He said, “You know, for the first time in 29 years, I’m going to ask these 13,000 people to take a break.” He went out there and he said, “Listen, Mark shared some very sobering words.” It was the gospel, that was all I shared. It was just simply the gospel. The death, burial, resurrection, the cross, grace, mercy, the resurrection, repentance, a call to action. That’s what I shared.
“We forget that God uses handicapped people to proclaim truth out in the world. We forget that 13 of the 14 judges found in the book of judges all had a handicap. They did not allow that to hold them back.”
He said, “Listen, we’re going to take a ten-minute break. I’ve never done this in the last 29 years of hosting this event. Some of you need to go to the prayer tent, others of you just simply need to cry out to God to have mercy on you. This is the reason why we’re here. Ten minutes, people. Let’s take a ten-minute break.” That ten minutes took and turned into two and a half hours. Tenth Avenue North ended up coming on out, played a couple acoustic songs until Lecrae, this rap artist, came out and he started at midnight.
Some members of TobyMac came up to me and said, “Listen, I don’t want to do this. I want to do what you do.” This one guy of TobyMac’s band just started confessing things to me, said, “I’m committed to pray for you, man. Every day for the next year, I’m going to pray for you.” What was it? What happened? The simplicity of the gospel. The gospel, that’s what we’ve been entrusted with. Leave the results to God. Now unfortunately, so many times we hide behind our weaknesses, our handicaps. We forget that God uses handicapped people to proclaim truth out in the world. We forget that 13 of the 14 judges found in the book of judges all had a handicap. They did not allow that to hold them back.
I Will Not Stop
“You need to be quiet.” I’m going to proclaim all the louder and the more you tell me shut up, the more I’m going to proclaim the gospel of truth. God’s Word does not return void. Let’s hear the truth. Let’s not lose sight of why we’re here, why Jesus came: which was to seek and save that which is lost. Kami Garcia said, “We don’t get to choose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it.” You were created to bring God glory. Sadly, we are a generation of people who count our lives dear to ourselves and we find ourselves meandering in this maze of mediocrity. We surround ourselves with friends and people who do what we do.
Somebody says, “Where are you at in the Word?” “Man, don’t judge me.” “Okay. Sorry.” Sadly, we don’t know what the marching orders are anymore, because, well, we rely solely upon the preacher from the pulpit to tell us what we are to do. It’s just good advice, maybe even good news. Remember the gospel, it means good news, but it’s only good news if it gets there in time. God wants to use you to share it. We don’t want to be inconvenienced in our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
In the words of David Brainerd, one of the greatest missionaries to ever live, died at the age of 29, his words are echoed from our own lips, when he said, “Lord, help me not to loiter on my way to Heaven.” Or Jim Elliot, some of his last words before he died at the hands of the people whom he was trying to reach, they killed him. He said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
We’re Never Content
Now, we in sunny Southern California, where I’m from, and perhaps even out here, we have these first-world problems, don’t we? Microwaves, they take too long. They’re not quick enough. We have closets filled with clothes, yet we look at our spouse and we say, “I’ve got nothing to wear.” We have refrigerators filled with food, yet we say there’s nothing good to eat. My iPhone, it’s not the latest model. The barista at Starbucks today did not make a cute little design in the foam. Get another job, foo.
We get upset at telemarketers because they call us at the wrong time. When is a good time for a telemarketer to call? It’s never a good time. Imagine if we turned these encounters, these first-world problems around; and we actually grabbed ahold of God’s Word and we didn’t just highlight it. We didn’t just underline it, but we actually claimed it. We dared to claim God’s Word. Such words as, “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
“As you look at your life, know this: all things work together for good.” What would that mean? What would that mean if all things work together for good? Well, it would mean that there’s no such thing as bad news. It would mean that God wants to use your cancer, your spouse’s infidelity, your wayward child’s rebellion, your lack of finances. It would mean that God is in Heaven. He does what He pleases. He’s not pacing back and forth. There’s no sweat on His brow and He knows what He’s doing in your life, regardless of what others have done to you. He’s not worried. He needs no counsel. He doesn’t need your wisdom. He laughs and He mocks at your advice.
It would also mean that God is guiding with His eye, just as He said, and it would ultimately mean that God is thrusting you out into a world of inconveniences, flat tires, and obnoxious people for His glory. How do we turn it around? How many people do you know pray for bad service at a restaurant? I do. Why would you do that? It gives me an opportunity to give them a bigger tip than what they deserved, and to give them a gospel tract with a Christian message. It will talk about this word called “grace.” Grace, unmerited favor to the infinitely ill-deserving. Grace. You’re at the nearest point of receiving God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, when you begin to realize that you can’t do anything right. Grace.
He doesn’t give it by calculated measure. It just flows, and it flows, and it flows, so come underneath the spout where God’s grace comes pouring out. Man, you gave me bad service, but I understand. Man, we live in a rough world. I was a waiter. I was a waiter myself, nine and a half years I was a server. I mean that’s a long shift; but I know what it’s like to have a hard day.
Witnessing Opportunities Are Abundant
Telemarketer? An opportunity to share the gospel. If you mess up, you just hang up. Junk mail? You get inside the mail. Hey, you’re a pre-approved for a gold Visa card. You look at that and you go, “Junk mail? No postage necessary? Really, no postage necessary? Here’s my tract.” Walking by a newspaper stand, put in a quarter, putting a gospel tract in between each newspaper. Who’s to say God doesn’t want to use it?
I was speaking at a conference. I rented a car. It said “OnStar” up at the top. I pushed the button. “Can I help you? Do you need directions?” “Yeah, do you know how to get to Heaven?” And away we went. We engaged in a conversation. I didn’t have to go out and try to find the fish. The fish jumped inside my car. By the end of the conversation, he wanted to get right with God. It doesn’t always work out like that. I’ve had them hang up on me. This particular person said, “You know, I have the power to lock your doors and throw you off a cliff.” “Well, thank you for not doing that.”
“If you make yourself available to God, He’s going to open up doors to you.”
Listen, you can count your life dear to yourself or you can say words like John Piper, who said, “You are not your own. You’ve been bought with a price, and what lies before you is a stewardship from the owner.” If you go to Walmart like I recently did to purchase my $60 suit, I’ve got my thing of tracts and I’m dropping them in cases of beer. Who’s to say that God doesn’t want to use that? If you make yourself available to God, He’s going to open up doors to you.
Living in Los Angeles, I’ve had the opportunity to share the gospel with different people, different celebrities from George Clooney to John Travolta, to Jimmy Johnson from NASCAR, Holly Hunter from The Incredibles, Abraham Lincoln. All right, not Abraham Lincoln, but I’ve had the opportunity to share the gospel with those others. I believe that the best ability is just simply availability. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, and they will not know how much you care until you speak the truth in love. That’s what the summer series is all about, to get you off of your hands and to put tracts in those hands, to boldly proclaim the mysteries of the gospel.
Proclaim the Gospel
Carl Sagan, the pagan, he said, “When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.” Don’t you? You want to proclaim it from the housetop, the mountaintop. Now, I want to encourage you to keep underlining and keep highlighting, but just make sure you step up out of your comfort zone and dare to say, “God, with Your help, I can do this. I can boldly proclaim Your truth.” Let me give you a scenario of what I do when I go to universities. When I’m not on the forum classroom, I’ll go out into the public, go to the student centers. I’ll say something like this. I’ll have a microphone. I’ll put a microphone out in the crowd. I’m nervous as nervous can be. I’ll say this.
I’ll say, “Ladies and gentleman, listen up. I am a Christian here at UC Berkeley,” or UCLA, USC, wherever it may be. San Diego State. “Listen, I am a Christian and I’m unashamed to be called a Christian. I believe the hardest hitting questions that have plagued humanity since its inception are answered in Christianity alone, questions such as why am I here? What is the meaning of life? What is going to happen to me when I die?
“So whether you are part of the Bahá’í faith, and you think Jesus is just a messenger. You might be part of the LDS faith, and you think that well, Joseph Smith is the greatest prophet known to man. Listen, I am actually a descendant of Joseph Smith. I’m not a Mormon, but I am a descendant of that Mormon prophet. You might be an atheist, a free-thinking skeptic, and you adhere to the tenants of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Listen, I’m not your enemy here today because I have a differing world view. Does anybody have any questions?”
My heart, it’s just like beating out of my chest, right? Then I say, “Listen, gang, questions, be careful when you ask them, because they’re dangerous. Why are they dangerous? Because there’s answers. So when you ask a question, do you expect to get the truth?” A lot of times, people say, “You know, I guess I’m willing to do that if God were to call me to do that, but that’s not my calling to go and “kerusso,” as Tommy shared, to boldly, outwardly proclaim the gospel. Jim Elliot said, “Why do you need a voice when you have a verse?” Justin Peters said, “If you want to hear God’s voice, read the Bible. If you want to hear God’s voice out loud, then read God’s Word out loud.” He’s told us what to do.
But Are We All Called to Evangelize?
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, he said, “Hey, you’re not called…is that what you said? You’re not called? Not heard the call, I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity. Listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of Hell and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and their sisters and their servants and their masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey and tell Him whether you will join heart, and soul, and body, and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.”
Sobering words, but they’re just words; unless they’re true. A church that’s waiting for sinners to visit their building is like the police waiting for criminals to visit their station. It’s not going to happen. W. E. Sangster said, “How shall I feel at the judgment when I stand before God if multitudes of missed opportunities passed before me in full review and all my excuses on why I did not share, they proved to be disguises of my cowardice and my pride.”
I share with these students when I’m at the universities, I say, “Hey, listen. God wants you to know that you can be forgiven. You can be forgiven of the sins that you have committed, the things that you’re thinking about even right now. You consider all the major religions of the world, everybody claims to point to truth. Who’s right? The Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, that says that truth is mysterious. It’s hard to find. Buddha, at the end of his life, he said, “I’m still searching for the truth.” Mohammed said, “I point to the truth.”
“But Jesus Christ never claimed that truth was elusive, mysterious, hard to find. He never said that He points to the truth. He said, “I am the truth.” In fact, He said, “I am the way. I am the truth, and I am the life, and no man will come to the Father unless he comes through Me. Nobody will come to the Father unless they go through Me. You must be born again. In fact, if you’re not born again, you’re going to wish one day you were never born at all.”
It Doesn’t Make Sense
Well, that doesn’t make sense. When we say God is a God of love, as 1 John 4:6 says. God is loving. He’s compassionate. Why would he ever send anybody to Hell? Why does Hell exist? It makes no sense. Unless, God really does care about right and wrong. Unless it’s true that no liar will inherit the kingdom of God. No thief will inherit the kingdom of God. You don’t need to say ten lies to be a liar. You don’t need to steal ten things to be a thief. If you’ve ever used God’s name in vain, you are a blasphemer.
When I was at that music festival, this kid from the pit, he cries out and he says, “Listen, man. We all text “omg.” What are you talking about? It’s no big deal.” I said, “Sir, listen, friend. If you all text ‘omg’ like it’s no big deal, listen, then you all need to repent.” This is why it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of living God, because God does care about right and wrong. He does care about every site that you visit. In fact, He says, if you look with lust you are an adulterer.
1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do not be deceived: fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Why does it start off with “Do not be deceived”? Because we’re deceived. We’re deceived in thinking, “Well, God kind of knows my makeup. He made me like this.” No, listen. You need to repent. You need to place your trust in Christ is what I share with these college students. I’m not your enemy, friend. We can agree to disagree and go get Subway. Hey, everything’s okay; unless everything’s not okay. Unless it’s Hell to pay.
Is Anyone Good?
The Bible sets the standard for good very high, because we think that we’re pretty good people; because we compare ourselves to other people. We treat sin like a cream puff, but we need to treat it like a rattlesnake. I share with these students, I say, “Listen, every time you take a breath, you are sucking in the mercy of God with no guarantee that you’re going to exhale again. Repent. Come run to the one who knows all about you, and He’s willing to forgive you anyways.” That’s what happened to me 26 years ago. 26 years ago, God did the one thing for me that I couldn’t do for myself. He reached into the dark cavern of my heart and He turned my heart toward Him. He says, “Mark, you can’t, I can. Let’s go.”
“Every time you take a breath, you are sucking in the mercy of God with no guarantee that you’re going to exhale again.”
We broke God’s Law, but Jesus paid the fine. What is this good news about Jesus being the way and the truth and life? It’s called the gospel. It’s the good news that God’s son, Jesus Christ, came and He lived among the people He created 2,000 years ago. He lived a perfect life. He never sinned one time, and He allowed Himself to be the sacrifice for others. Jesus, through His death on the cross, became the payment for our sins against God. Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross, taking upon Himself the sins of people like you and I. What we need to do is repent and place our trust in Him.
You see, Jesus became something He never was, and that is a man so that you and I can become something we never were, and that is righteous before God. God is not asking you to clean your life up and then come to Him. He’s saying lay your life down. There’s a difference. Count the cost. When you become a Christian, I’ll tell you the promises that await you: tribulation, persecution, temptation beyond measure, and suffering. Your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and you have the hope of Heaven.
We’re not promised a bed of roses. There’s a lot of thorns along the way. A lot of bad news, but there is no such thing as bad news knowing that God is the One in control. The great thing about God’s grace, God giving you what you don’t deserve, is that because of it, you have God’s word that He’s not going to grab ahold of your past failings and shove them back in your face to remind you of what a joke you are. No, He takes ahold of your sin. He casts it as far as the east is from the west. He throws it into the depths of the ocean. He posts His sign saying, “No fishing allowed.” He’s not going to remind you. That’s the enemy’s job.
Somebody said when the enemy reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future. If you’re putting your trust in anything other than Christ, you need to repent. That simply means to change your mind. You need to agree with God that He’s right, you’re wrong; and that’s okay. You need to say it’s Your way, not my way. What is my urging for you today? Cry out to the living God to have mercy on you. I don’t care if you’ve been a deacon here for 15 years. I don’t care if you have the Bible memorized. If you’ve never repented, if you’ve never been born again, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. The Bible says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will perish.”
God will not dismiss His wrath against sinners by the wave of a magic wand is what I share with these students. Salvation for you today, it’s free; but it’s free only because the Father bore the cost in His son, Jesus Christ. Either Jesus is your substitute who suffered in Himself the wrath of the Father, and in so doing, He satisfied the demands of the Law or you got to do it yourself.
He Will Hear Your Cry
The reason I know, friend, college student, that God will be willing to forgive you and to cleanse you is because you have His word on it; and three days after Jesus died, He literally rose from the dead, defeating death because it was not possible for the grave to hold back the Giver and the Creator of life. You can become righteous, not innocent, but forgiven. Forgiven of all charges. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live; and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” You see, no other world religion has a resurrected savior. Our King is alive. He is well. He’s not pacing. He knows what He’s doing in your life. Christianity is the only true story where the hero dies for the villain.
It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, rich or poor, if you’re healthy or sick. Listen, I know that God is not finished with you. How do I know that? You’re still alive. When God is done with you, you will know it. You’ll know it. Until then, don’t listen to the clamor of the sheep. Open up God’s Word and digest it. Say, “God, I need You more than my lungs need oxygen, more than my veins need blood; and I don’t even know it.” Like A.W. Tozer cried out, “I want to want you, but I don’t, but I want to want you.”
He will draw near to those who draw near to Him. He’s attentive to the cry of His people. He doesn’t speak English. He speaks Heartish. His ear is right up next to your heart. The real you, what do you really have to say? He sees your actions and those actions are words to Him. Cry out to God. He’s a very present help in time of need.
The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Salvation is a free gift for you today, but it’s free only because God bore the cost in Christ. Sadly, we have churches that are filled with Judases. You consider the life of Judas, he died thirsty next to the Well of salvation. There’s no greater tragedy than to be almost saved; because to be almost saved is to be entirely lost. Are you saved? Do you know it? Do you hear His voice? Do you know Him? Does He call you out by name? Are you playing church? I don’t know. I’ll probably never see you again.
Today is the Day
Remember, they’re only words. Unless they’re true. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to prepare for your last day. Today is the day to hand your sin over to God and say, “God, I’m in love with this stuff. I’m in love with the man in the mirror. God, have mercy on me.” You have His word. He will forgive you. He will cleanse you. He’ll give you hope of Heaven. He’ll give you promises for here and now that He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. Get off your hands. Cry out to God. Don’t let time pass you by. You’re not handcuffed to it. You don’t have to be God’s knot. Dare to pray.
God, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how much I kick and scream, don’t let me be out of your will. When I’m standing in glory looking over life’s finished story, I want it to be say that I left it all out on the field, man. I left it there. I don’t care what people thought of me. You have no excuses. Jesus didn’t die for excuses, He died for sin. Stop the excuses and stand up, and march into this world; and God will go before you. He’ll guide you with His eye. He’ll direct your step. He’ll delight in your way. Those are all His promises. Underline them, yes. Highlight them, you bet. But finally claim them, and finally go.