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Indecision | Right Choices

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
April 29, 2022 3:00 am

Indecision | Right Choices

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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April 29, 2022 3:00 am

When you take a road trip, you’re often faced with decisions on which road to take. Sometimes there’s a short cut. Sometimes the short cut turns out to be the long way. Sometimes an alternate route can be fiasco, or a disaster. The Donner party comes to mind. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us choose the right road in life. We’ll see how to evaluate our options and make the right choice. It’s a message with a short title and long implications.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free e-books designed to help you grow in your faith. We make decisions every day, some very important. Pastor Greg Laurie says we need to take the time to choose wisely. There are decisions that are super important in life. I think your career choice is a big one. Who you're going to marry, that's super big. Think about it, take your time, but the biggest decision of all, it's your decision about what you do with Jesus Christ.

There is no more important decision at all. When you take a road trip, you're often faced with decisions on which road to take. Sometimes there's a shortcut. Sometimes the shortcut turns out to be the long way. Sometimes an alternate route can be a fiasco or a disaster.

The Donner Party comes to mind. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us choose the right road in life. We'll see how to evaluate our options and make the right choice. It's a message with a short title and long implications. Well, we're going through the Gospel of John together and the title of my message is Indecision. And our text is John 18 and Matthew 27.

So turn there with me if you would. John, the Gospel of John chapter 18 and the Gospel of Matthew. If you have one of those fancy Bibles with ribbons, you might put a ribbon there in Matthew 27 because we'll pop over there a little bit later in the message. But we'll start in John 18.

All right, why don't we pray together. Father, bless our time now as we open your Word. Give us ears to hear. In other words, let us pay attention.

And give our attention with intention. Wanting to hear what it is you would say to our hearts. And for anyone here that is maybe indecisive about some big things in life, help them to decide biblically and properly as we learn more about that in this message tonight.

We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Indecision. We've all experienced it at one time or another. Now some people are indecisive by nature. I'm actually not one of those people generally. In fact, I tend to be overly opinionated about too many things. I mean I have very strong opinions on the best food you eat, the best restaurants to go to, the best this, the best that. Just ask me about anything.

I'll probably have an opinion. My wife will come to me with outfit options. Should I wear this or this? And she knows I'll tell her the truth. Love that. Wear that.

Or do not wear that. And you know it sounds cruel but she actually comes to me for honest feedback. So I'm generally very decisive. But then there are times when I'm indecisive. A lot of times I'll go to a restaurant, especially if it's a new restaurant. And what does it deal with these menus that are like the size of books? I don't like that.

Where the pages and pages and pages of options. And then the server comes. Why is it that the server comes when you don't want them to come?

When you're in the middle of a conversation. Can I take your order? And then they, I don't know if they get mad or something, but then they don't come back for like 25 minutes and you're ready to order, right? So I feel under pressure.

Server's here. I'll say to Kathy, look at the menu. Look at the menu. Figure out what you're going to order. And then I'll look at something and I go, oh let me ask you about this and let me ask you about that. And so you have to make a decision. That's why I like In-N-Out Burger.

It's just so simple. It's just like burgers, burgers, and burgers. Awesome fries.

Maybe a malt. You can get two patties. You can get triple patties if you're insane.

Do whatever you want to do. But these are the options. But now you go to some takeout restaurants and they have so many options. Like Taco Bell. What's going on over there? There's like all these Gordito Forditos.

What is? I just want a burrito and a taco. And there's all these choices. And then the lines behind you. And you know you can't see the little sign until you get right there. So you're looking and now you know the line's building and you can't understand them. It's like. What? And so you're trying to order.

And then that's the pressure that's on there. Well these things don't matter. If you order a burrito or a burger for lunch it's not a life-altering decision. But there are decisions that are super important in life. I think your career choice is a big one.

But of course the good news is you can be in one career and you can change course and have another career later in life. So that's not engraved in stone. But that's a big one. Who you're going to marry. That's super big.

Super big. How many of you are single. You're not married. Ok. That's quite a few of you. And you know I always say to you look around right.

You know because. So I'll say it again. Ok. Look around if you're single. Because I often say best place to meet your future spouse is in church right.

So that is true. But having said that I would just say take your time. Don't rush into marriage.

As old Benjamin Franklin once said. And by the way he said this to me personally. He said keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards right. A lot of times we have our eyes half shut before marriage. Then we're married for two weeks and they're open. And we're like oh my right. So think about it.

Take your time. But the biggest decision of all. It's your decision about what you do with Jesus Christ.

There is no more important decision at all. I bring that up because here before us in John 18 is a story of an indecisive man. A man who let others do his thinking for him. A man who tried to appease a bloodthirsty fickle crowd in his own troubled conscience. He tried to find the middle ground and make everyone happy and his name was Pontius Pilate. He was the consummate politician. He was trying to appease everyone and thus made the worst imaginable decision.

A decision no doubt he regretted for the rest of his life. And here was the question that was brought to him and that is eventually brought to every man and every woman. What are you going to do with Jesus?

That's it. What are you going to do with Jesus? You know ultimately when we stand before God it won't be a sin question. It will be a son question.

S-O-N. In other words it won't be well did you live a good life and did your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds and you get to heaven. Oh you have more bad deeds and good deeds and you go to hell.

Not at all. It's all about Jesus Christ. God's provision for us to get into heaven. Because conventional thinking is if we live good lives we'll get to heaven. If we live bad lives we'll go to hell. But here's the biblical truth.

You can live and some people don't like this. You can live a wicked life and at the very end repent of your sins and you can make it into heaven. That bugs some people unless you're the person who repented at the end and then you're very thankful.

And then another thing that people don't like to hear is you can live a good life relatively speaking a moral life and end up in hell if you reject God's provision for you to get into heaven who is Jesus Christ. So it's all about Jesus. Okay so here we are chronologically in the Gospel of John. He's taken to the house of Caiaphas.

He has already been cruelly beaten and rushed through a hastily prepared appearance before the religious elite of the day. The Jewish Sanhedrin. They were sort of like the Supreme Court of today. With the difference being they were religious rulers. So government and religion was intertwined at this time. So they had great power.

They could decide if you would live or die. So Jesus appears before the former high priest Annas. Annas was like a godfather-like presence over the functioning high priest who was Caiaphas.

And by the way Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. So it was a family affair and Jesus is appearing before these powerful individuals. And having confirmed that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah they sent him to Pontius Pilate. Now Pilate was a pagan man. He was not a religious guy. He was sent to rule over these Jewish people. He didn't like his job. He probably wanted to go back to Rome where all the power was or all the influence was. But he got chosen to take this task on and ended up presiding over the most important trial in the history of all humanity. The trial of Jesus Christ. And Pilate wanted nothing to do with Jesus.

Nothing to do with these religious debates. But it was dropped right in his lap. Normally around this time Pilate would have been kicking back at his winter palace over at Caesarea. Sort of the palm springs of Israel if you will.

But right there on the water. Very warm when the rest of the area is cold. Actually the weather of Israel is very similar to California. So it reminds you of California when you're visiting Israel as a matter of fact. So Pilate would have normally been getting a little R&R but he had to be in Jerusalem because it was a Jewish Passover.

And so there were thousands and thousands of visitors in the city. A lot of potential for trouble. And already he was walking on eggshells with the religious leaders. He had had run-ins with them in the past. And add to this the fact that Pilate was a mean guy.

He was one bad dude actually. Here's a description of him written years ago from Agrippa to Caligula who was the emperor after Tiberius. And he made this statement about Pontius Pilate.

This is an extra biblical source but a historical one. He said, Pilate is unbending and recklessly hard. He is a man of notorious reputation, severe brutality, prejudice, savage violence, and murder. Apart from that he's a really nice guy.

No he didn't say that. So that's Pilate for you. We would call him a hater today. This is a man who was mean, calculating, merciless, cold-hearted. He was a killer. And so normally he would be quick to execute. Quick to condemn someone to death.

No problem with that at all. But now he has this situation with this guy Jesus that he had heard something about. But he really didn't want to deal with this. Now he's also being investigated by Rome. He was under surveillance by an order of the emperor. And he was being suspected of being a bad governor. So here he is in this position, a lot of pressure from Rome to not mess this up. A lot of pressure with the religious leaders because of run-ins from the past.

So there were all kinds of moving parts here that made this a very unusual situation when Jesus was brought before him. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody, what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. What is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and Bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place. So you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home.

Join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well today Pastor Greg has pointed out that Pontius Pilate was under great pressure from Rome to handle the trial of Jesus properly. Let's continue now with Pastor Greg's message. Pilate was trying to find a compromise like politicians often do. A way to appease these religious leaders. A way to not have conflict with Rome. A way to keep peace somehow. And now Jesus has brought before him and it is probably his gut reaction that Jesus is an innocent man.

So he is trying to find some way to resolve this situation. But there were other forces at work here that were more powerful than Rome. More powerful than the religious elite. And those forces were the forces of heaven and the forces of hell. In a rare moment historically God and Satan were moving in the same direction but with different objectives. Satan wanted Jesus dead and so he marshaled his forces and played his wicked hand infiltrating the ranks of our Lord. Entering the heart of Judas Iscariot. Satan felt if he could have Christ put to death that would be the end of him. Of course the father also was at work in this because scripture said that Messiah would be crucified and he would rise again from the dead three days later.

So the father was at work. That is why it's a big mistake to try to place the blame of the death of Jesus on a particular group of people. Some will say well the Jews killed Jesus.

Well that's really in one sense there's truth to it. There's also truth that the Romans killed Jesus. But if you really want to know the biblical theological truth here it is the father killed Jesus.

Well what? The father didn't do it. But the father allowed it to accomplish his purposes because the Bible says it pleased the father to bruise him. It didn't please the father in heaven to see his son suffer and die but it pleased the father to see his righteous requirements met and the sacrifice of his son who was a fulfillment of all of those Old Testament pictures and types. So the Lord was at work in this as well. And by the way Christ laid his own life down. No one took his life from him. He voluntarily went to the cross.

And one other thing. You want to put the blame on someone? Blame me. My sins put Jesus on the cross. Your sins put Jesus on the cross. So this is a very unusual situation that is all a part of God's big plan. But Pilate did have a choice in the matter.

And he made the wrong choice. So let's read some verses together. John 18 starting at verse 28. Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium.

And it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium lest they should be defiled but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, what accusation do you bring against this man? Speaking of Jesus.

So we will stop there. So showing the complete sham of their so-called faith. They don't want to go into Pilate's headquarters the Praetorium because that would defile them. Yet they are in this rush to crucify an innocent man which was against everything the Torah, the Scripture spoke of. So they are very religious and very wicked simultaneously. Oh we don't want to break our ceremonial law and enter into this horrible place the Praetorium. But by the way will you murder Jesus in cold blood for us?

Thank you very much. Talk about missing the point. This is the weird thing about religion. How people can be very religious and very wicked at the same time. Because well I went to church and I gave my confession to the priest or I was baptized or I received holy communion or I did thus and so therefore now I can go out and live like hell right?

Until I go to church the next time. Man are you missing the whole objective there? And so it is sort of a legalistic thing that these guys are observing. They wanted Pilate to do their dirty work for them. Pilate asks a legitimate question.

What are your charges against this man? And as though their dignity is being impugned they respond well we wouldn't have handed him over to you if he weren't a criminal. Well Pilate says then judge him according to your law. He just gave them permission to put Jesus to death if they wanted to. And by the way they did put people to death. They did it by stoning. They stoned Stephen you remember the first martyr of the church. So they did have the authority especially in this situation to execute Jesus. But the Bible doesn't say that Messiah would die by stoning. The prophecies say that he will die by crucifixion. Psalm 22 says they pierced my hands and my feet. In the Old Testament we read the people asking him where did you receive these wounds in your hands.

And he says I received them in the house of my friends. So Scripture is very specific how Messiah would die. I don't think even they understood what they were doing but in their mad rush to have Jesus killed they were fulfilling prophecy to a T by specifically wanting Pilate to do it. And that is because the Romans were experts in crucifixion.

They didn't invent it. They got it from the Carthaginians. And the reason the Carthaginians would crucify people is their belief was they they should not touch the earth.

They should be elevated above the earth so they would hang them on crosses. But the Romans took it to new levels of twisted sadistic painful torture. Crucifixion was not death by nails to your hands and feet.

Amazingly you can actually survive such a thing. It was death by suffocation. And really the purpose of crucifixion was to torture a person. It was to use them as an example to anyone who would dare to defy the power of Rome. So it was not uncommon to go into Roman cities and see the streets lined with crucified men on your left and right.

People were very familiar with crucifixion back in this time. But this is what scripture said that Messiah would die this way. They say verse 31 we're not permitted to put anyone to death. Actually they were and in this case we're told to go ahead and do it.

But they were saying no you do it. And by the way Jesus himself said this is how he would die. Over in Matthew 20 he said when we get to Jerusalem the Son of Man is going to be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They'll sentence him to die. They'll hand him over to the Romans to be mocked with and crucified.

And on the third day he'll be raised from the dead. We're considering the circumstances and decisions that led to the crucifixion of Christ. Pastor Greg Laurie is pointing out how Pilate played a key role in the situation.

But there was more to the story. And it's a real joy to have best-selling author Lee Strobel with us, former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. He's just released a new book on the afterlife called The Case for Heaven. Such great meticulously researched information. It's absolutely fascinating.

Lee so many are familiar with your story. You were an atheist many years ago. What did you believe about the afterlife back then? You know like a lot of atheists I believe that it was like the light going out in a refrigerator.

You close the door in the refrigerator light goes out. I thought you just ceased to exist. And you know just as you didn't exist for millions of years before you came into being, now that your life is over you just cease to exist forever. And that is actually a very frightening thought. You know I mean there were nights as an atheist when I would stare up into the blackness and say really is this it? I mean when I die life just goes on and unchanged in this world.

And I just am snuffed out forever. It's a frightening thought. Fortunately it's not true. Fortunately the greatest news about heaven is that it's real. And the worst news about hell is that it's real. So the afterlife is real.

It is a reality. And so I think the evidence as I present in this book points powerfully and persuasively toward the fact that there is an afterlife. And so I hope people read it and get encouraged and realize that you know as Greg often will say you know where we end up spending eternally is dependent on how we respond to this offer from Jesus Christ of forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift of his grace. You know I think God's pre-wired us to long for something more.

The Bible says that God has said eternity in our heart. And we don't know what that something more is or to be specific that's someone more. But we think oh it's a little kid, it's you know a new friend, it's a new bike, you get a little bit older and it's a wife, it's a husband, it's a career, you get a little bit older, it's retirement, it's security, financially, etc. And you know and then you keep moving forward and you find out that's not it. And I was thinking when I was a little boy is like 16 years old I would lay I would be awake at night and I believed what you believe that I would cease to exist and it freaked me out. I thought how can I cease to exist? Because there was that kind of that pre-wiring that there's more. And that was a search and of course ultimately I came to the same conclusion you came to.

I wasn't the legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, I was just a confused teenager. But I found the same answer that you found Lee in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and so that that's a great he gives us he takes us from hopelessness to hope. Yeah exactly and what you said is so true Ecclesiastes talks about God is planning eternity in our hearts. Where I see this illustrated in the life of non-believers is they try to somehow achieve immortality apart from God. And so they want to write the great novel that is going to carry their name on after they die.

They're going to design a cathedral, they're going to paint a painting, they're going to they're going to put their name on the side of a building, they're going to give to a hospital and have a wing of the hospital named after them. That way I'll live on. The thing is with you know if there is no God then these these vain quests for immortality amount to nothing.

They amount to nothing. And what what excites me is a guy who tends to be rational and logical respond to evidences. You know this is not wishful thinking, it's not make-believe, it's not fairy tales, it's not mythology. This is based on solid data and and I cite data from the Bible.

I cite data from outside the Bible to say that there is good evidence that we do indeed live on forever in one place or another. So if you want to know more about what Lee is addressing here you want to get a copy of his brand new book called The Case for Heaven and we'll send it to you for your gift of any size this month. Yeah that's right and you know your gift helps us reach out with hope to so many each and every month. In fact we received a comment from a listener who said thank you Pastor Greg for today's message. I recently lost my husband of 20 years.

It's been hard. Thank God I know Jesus. My husband loved Jesus too. Your sermons on heaven have helped me through the toughest times. Even up to his last moments we were trusting God. The Holy Spirit definitely used your sermons to comfort me. Well that's such good confirmation of the value of these daily studies and it's confirmation that your investments are making a difference.

Why not make an investment today? And when you do we'd like to send you Lee Strobel's book The Case for Heaven. And today is our last day to make this resource available so contact us right away. Call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here around the clock. That's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time as Pastor Greg continues his studies from the series called Life we'll gain more insight on the role Pontius Pilate played in the trial and crucifixion of Christ and how that was the event that paid the price for our sins. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and to find out how to know God personally go to harvest.org and click on know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-25 09:12:30 / 2023-04-25 09:22:24 / 10

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