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The First Jesus Movement | Being in the World

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2024 3:00 am

The First Jesus Movement | Being in the World

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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May 28, 2024 3:00 am

Before Covid, few of us had ever been subjected to a quarantine. But that experience effectively isolated us in a bubble. In a spiritual sense, sometimes believers are constantly isolated from the world in a self-imposed quarantine. We don’t want to be OF the world so we try not to be IN the world. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how that neglects one of our most important responsibilities. It’s the kick off of a new series in Acts called The Upside-Down Life.

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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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Hey, everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.

If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at Again, it's

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to We influence our community if we're isolated from our community. We need to go out and permeate our culture. We need Christians in the arts. We need Christians in politics. We need Christian doctors, lawyers, and business people. Instead of isolating, we need to be infiltrating.

That's what's needed in the world today. Before COVID, few of us had ever been subjected to a quarantine, but that experience effectively isolated us in a bubble. In a spiritual sense, sometimes believers are constantly isolated from the world in a self-imposed quarantine. We don't want to be of the world, so we try not to be in the world. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how that neglects one of our most important responsibilities.

It's the kickoff of a new series in Acts called The Upside Down Life. I think we would all agree that our world is a mess right now. There's global instability. We see Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes, and then you have the breakdown of the family, and the redefinition of the family, and even the redefinition of the sexes. It reminds me of what Scripture says in Isaiah 5-20 when it says, I mean, that is the way it is right now. Things that are virtuous and wonderful are mocked and derided.

Things that are evil and wicked are celebrated and promoted in our classrooms, in our culture. What are we to do in a time like this? Well, it's clear what the Bible says. It says, when you see these things beginning to happen, watch and pray. And we're also told to look up because our redemption is drawing near.

Here's the answer. We need divine intervention in our nation. We need divine intervention in our world. We need another spiritual awakening desperately. And that's what we should be praying for.

That's what we should be praying for right now. We need another Jesus movement. And when we hear the phrase Jesus, when our minds race back to the late 60s, early 70s, and we think of the hippies with their long hair and their bell bottoms and their beads. And I never wore beads really. But all those things that we think of in the 60s.

But I want to go further back. There was long hair and there were beards, but no bell bottoms. But most importantly, guess who started the first Jesus movement?

Guess. Jesus himself started it. And it was a very dark backdrop when it happened. The first time mighty Rome ruled the world with an iron fist, immorality was rampant. In Roman cities like Corinth, thousands of prostitutes would walk the street. Actolatry, spiritism, and demon worship. All was openly practiced. Add to this the fact that the religious establishment was completely corrupt. Sounds like a good time for a Jesus movement.

And who starts it? But Jesus himself. He bursts on the scene, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament, giving the greatest teachings ever heard, performing miracles, and openly declaring himself as the Messiah. His followers numbered in the thousands. His name was on everyone's lips.

And then seemingly it appears that the whole thing came off the rails. Jesus is betrayed by one of his own followers. He's brought before religious authorities with false trumped up charges, ultimately placed into the hands of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, who has Jesus flogged and then sent to be crucified. But actually, God was at work in everything that was happening. Because if people read the prophecies carefully, they would discover the Messiah would first suffer, Messiah would die, Messiah would rise again from the dead. And these demoralized, discouraged disciples that were beginning to scatter were now empowered by the Spirit and the church was born. And that's really what the book of Acts is all about. It's about the birth of the first century church. And this church changed their world. So Rome tried to suppress them. Rome tried to stop them. And a wave of persecutions came against the church, starting with the wicked and twisted Caesar Nero and eventually ending with Diocletian.

Caesar Nero was so depraved, he took Christians and covered them in pitch and set them on fire to light his garden as he rode around in his chariot screaming with the light. The Roman emperor Diocletian was so certain that he had effectively eradicated Christianity, he had a special coin struck with these words. Quote, the Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the Roman gods is restored. End quote.

Famous last words. Where's Rome today? Mighty Rome was reduced to ruins, but the church marches on and always will. Because the gates of hell will not prevail against us. The gates of hell will not prevail against us. The church continues to march and when persecution comes, it actually strengthens the church.

So God can work no matter the circumstances that are happening in the world. So Rome. What do we know of Rome? What do we remember of Rome? We name our children after apostles and our dogs after Roman emperors.

Right? Here Caesar. Come on Caesar. Caesar, sit.

What do we know of Rome today? Caesar's salad? Little Caesar's pizza? Pizza, pizza. You know what?

Not much left. But the church continues to grow and within 30 years, the original 120 followers of Jesus and their comrades changed the world. How did they do it?

Answer. Through upside down living, they turned the world upside down. That is why we are calling this the upside down life. In fact there is an interesting statement given to us in Acts chapter 17 verse 6. It was a criticism when the religious leaders said, Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down and now they are entering our city. That criticism was in effect the greatest compliment of all.

These guys, they are turning the world upside down and now they are entering our city. This is what you call a complisult. Do you know what a complisult is?

It is when someone compliments you but really it is kind of an insult. A few days ago I was at the Orange County Fair with my family and Levi Lusko and his family. So there was the thing where you bring the hammer down and ring the bell.

Right? So we went to that and Levi says, Greg you want to do it? I said sure. So he went first. He didn't ring the bell. Then it was my turn. I rang the bell. Then Levi went again. He still didn't ring the bell. I went again.

I rang the bell. Levi says, you know what that is? It is old man's strength. Ok? That is a complisult. He acknowledges my strength but it is old man's strength.

Right? It is like someone says to you, you look great for your age. Yeah that is kind of a complisult for sure. Or you say to someone, you are actually on time. I am amazed.

Which means they are usually late. You are a really good driver for a woman. Don't say that.

That is a complisult. Or saying to somebody, you look so great. Why are you still single? I mean what is that all about? Don't say that. Oh wow you look really nice for a change.

Another complisult. Your hair looks great when you actually do something with it. Implication they don't normally do something with it. And by the way I never hear that compliment about the hair.

But here is the point. This was meant as an insult but it was the ultimate compliment. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.

Whenever you send us an email, letter or post a comment on social media we read every word. Pastor Greg thank you for being persistent in your teaching which helped bring me back to the Lord. I have been a prodigal son but now I have been saved today and now I am saved forever. I really enjoy reading the New Believers Bible. It is helping me understand my new faith as a Christian.

It is also preparing me to know how to read the Bible. Thank you Pastor Greg very much. If you have had your life changed because of Harvest Ministries would you let Pastor Greg know? Call him at 1-866-871-1144.

That is 866-871-1144. Well as Pastor Greg presents his opening message in the book of Acts, he is pointing out how those first century believers were impacting their culture. It says there in Acts 17, 6 they are disturbing our city. We need to disturb more cities with the gospel. That is what is needed in the world today. We need a holy disturbance. Bible commentary G. Campbell Morgan said and I quote, organized Christianity which fails to make a disturbance is dead. End quote. That is true. You know the fact of the matter is wherever Paul the apostle went something happened. It was either conversion or a riot.

It was action constantly. And think about this. These guys didn't have all the tools we have at our disposal. Thomas did not tweet. Paul did not have a Facebook page.

Peter did not have an Instagram page or a YouTube channel. But yet they were able to change their world. And here is an amazing thing to think about. For the first time in human history our generation literally has the ability to fulfill the great commission in our lifetime.

You ever thought about that? We literally have the ability. The great commission to get the gospel out with all the tools of tech. With all the mass media. We can do more than we could ever do before. But the point of the matter is these guys didn't have any of that tech.

And look what they did. They permeated their culture. Everyone was aware of their faith. Tertullian a church leader wrote these words around 200 of the early church. Quote, we have filled every place among you. Cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market places, the very camp, tribes, companies, palaces, the senate, the forum. And then he says we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods.

End quote. See here is the way the early church thought. Everybody had a part to play. Everybody had a role to fulfill. Everybody had gifts to discover and use.

And that's the same for us today. We need to go out and permeate our culture. We need Christians in the arts making music, film, and doing graphic design. We need Christians in politics bringing godly wisdom and the leadership of our nation because the Bible says when the righteous rule the people rejoice. We need Christian doctors, lawyers, and business people. Instead of isolating we need to be infiltrating.

Every Christian in the church of the first century, at least most of them, understood they had to do their part. And as we read the book of Acts, and we'll do that in the weeks ahead, what happens may seem radical to us at times. But in a way it wasn't radical at all.

Because anything short of that is a watered down version. So we need this radical upside down Christianity today and that has to start in our life. Yes we need a revival, but before revival can start in the church it needs to start in you and it needs to start in me. So let's look now at a few verses from the book of Acts chapter 1. I'm going to read verses 1 to 4 and share some points with you. And I'm reading from the New Living Translation. In my first book I told you, Theophilus, Luke writes, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit.

During the forty days after he suffered and died he appeared to the apostles from time to time and he proved to them in many ways he was actually alive and he talked to them about the kingdom of God. Ok we'll stop there. Here's point number one if you're taking notes. Before you can change the world you yourself must first be changed.

Before you can change the world you must first be changed. Look at verse 3. During the forty days after he suffered and died he appeared to the apostles. The apostles. Now when we think of these guys we see them in stained glass, standing on pedestals, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Matthew, later Paul.

The list goes on. These great men of God. But one thing we see clearly in the gospels and in the book of Acts is these guys were humans just like we are. They had their shortcomings. They made their mistakes. But God used them. We say, oh but they were saints.

I can't connect to them. I can't relate to them. Well they were saints but technically you're a saint too. Heard about a Sunday school teacher that was talking to her class and she said, hey kids can anyone tell me what a saint is?

Little girl raised her hand up. Teacher called on her and the little girl said, thinking of the stained glass windows with the saints in them, she said, saints those are people that the light shines through. And that's true. That's all a saint is. A saint is a true believer. You're a saint.

I'm a saint. We're all saints and we can be used by God as well. Listen the greatness of the disciples was not because of who they were it's because God put his hand on them. It's almost as though the Lord went out of his way to find the most ordinary people to do the most extraordinary things through. 1 Corinthians 1 26 Paul says, isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks. God chose these nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies.

Interesting insight there. I heard the other day that a while ago now but someone paid 1 million dollars for a Fender Stratocaster guitar. Now this is a very popular guitar and they normally would cost you somewhere around 600 dollars to 1500 dollars. But this guy paid 1 million dollars for a Fender Strat.

Why? Because it was the guitar that Bob Dylan played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. This was a defining moment because Dylan was known to play acoustic guitar in his harmonica. But he busted out a Fender Stratocaster plugged it in and all the folk purists freaked out.

And they thought it was some form of heresy in their folky world. But that became a seminal moment in rock history. Thus the guitar sold for 1 million dollars. Maybe that makes a little more sense than some guy that bought a piece of a burned up Fender Stratocaster. That one was played by Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival. And at the end of playing the song Wild Thing Hendrix poured lighter fluid on it set it on fire and threw pieces of it into the audience. Some guy grabbed a piece and that piece of the guitar was sold later for 380 thousand dollars.

Ok so here is the point. The value clearly was not in a burned up piece of a guitar. The value was in who played the guitar. See if I pick up a guitar and play it and try to sell it it goes down in value. But if Eric Clapton picked up the same guitar and played it it goes up in value. Jesus did not call these men who became apostles because they were great. They became great because Jesus called them.

That is a difference. And God wants to use you. Maybe you are like a burned out guitar. Maybe you don't have a lot to bring to the table. You don't have a lot to offer to the Lord. God can work through you. So these apostles they had their lives changed when they saw Jesus risen from the dead. See they never thought they would see Jesus again when they looked at his beaten traumatized body hanging on the cross of Calvary. Which according to Isaiah 53 as the prophet spoke prophetically he was so beaten and marred and traumatized.

You could not even tell he was a man. But Jesus rose again. And appeared many times over a 40 day period. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene who came to anoint his dead body at the tomb. He appeared after that to Simon Peter. Then he appeared in the upper room to the disciples.

And specifically to Thomas who said I won't believe until I can put my hand in the wounds in his side. He appeared to two disciples walking on the Emmaus road. He appeared to Simon Peter again at the Sea of Galilee telling him to feed God's sheep. And he appeared to over 500 people at one time.

This transformed them. Jesus was basically popping up everywhere. And they knew he was alive and they knew he had risen. You see before they could change the world Jesus needed to change them. In 1 John 1 says John writing, We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and we touched him with our own hands. He is the word of life. Listen to this.

If you want people to follow Jesus you must be a good example as a follower of Jesus. Example, would you go to a dentist with half of his teeth missing? You couldn't even understand what he was saying.

What? Well sir what happened to your teeth? He tells you well I never really brushed or took care of my teeth. Well I don't want you to do dental work on me.

How about this one? Would you go to a music teacher who is tone deaf? Would you go to a gym and have as your trainer someone who was morbidly obese?

I don't think so. You would want that person to be an example of what it is they are teaching you to do right? So in the same way we say that people follow Jesus well they are looking at you.

They are looking to see if you yourself are following Jesus. Paul said follow my example as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11. So first it must happen to us. Pastor Greg Laurie with the first lesson of many to come from our new study series in the book of Acts. A series called the upside down life.

And we will bring the whole series your way here on a new beginning. Pastor Greg we have been talking about sharing the good news the gospel. What about the person listening who has never responded to the gospel? They have never come to that point of entering into a relationship with the Lord. They are open to it but just haven't made that change.

Someone can enter into that kind of relationship today can't they? They can and it is so simple and I think because it is so simple people think oh it can't be that easy. Well look Jesus did all the heavy lifting. He carried the cross for you. He died on that cross that he carried.

This isn't about what you do it is about what he has done. But here is what the Bible says. Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

You say well okay how do I do that? You do it through prayer. And if you pray this prayer after me I believe God will hear it and answer it and Christ will come to live inside of you. So if you want Jesus to come into your life and forgive you of your sin. If you want to know that you will go to heaven when you die.

If you want to fill that big hole in your heart. Pray these words if you would. Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner. But I know that you are the savior who died on the cross for my sin. I am sorry for my sin and I turn from it now.

And I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Be my savior and my Lord. Be my God and my friend. Thanks for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Listen if you just prayed that prayer. I want you to know that God has heard you and has answered it. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe on the name of the son of God. That you may know that you have eternal life.

That you may know. It's yours now God has given it to you. Because it's the gift of eternal life. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Congratulations and welcome to the family of God.

Yeah that's right. And listen we want to help you get started in this new relationship with the Lord. Would you let us send you something? It's free of charge. It's Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible. Scores of people have read this edition of God's Word. New Believers love the study helps written just for them.

And they appreciate that it's in an easy to understand translation. We'll send it to you today. Just ask for the New Believers Bible when you call 1-800-821-3300. You can call anytime 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, CA 92514.

Or go online to Well it's a great privilege to have Jim Wallace with us today. He's a homicide detective, a cold case detective. And author of the brand new book The Truth in True Crime which we're making available.

Jim thanks so much for joining us. I've got a just a plain old detective question for you. Which unsolved case from your years as a detective is the one that sticks with you the most? Well there's one that really is still unsolved that I worked a lot.

I spent about 18 months in the cold case team trying to bring it. I thought I could bring it to conclusions. And it struck me because it was a high school girl who was murdered in her junior year. And I was I think a year or two older than her. So I knew personally many of the suspects that I was looking at. Because I wasn't sure if it was another student who did this. And we had some partial DNA at the crime scene. Not enough to run up in the database.

But I could at least compare this partial marker with anybody I could swab. And so I identified what ended up being like 32 I think. 33 potential suspects all over the country.

We flew out, knocked on their doors. Is this a girl with red hair? Yes the suspect had red hair. And so I thought well how many people – like I asked you, name all of your redheaded friends. I'm so shocked that she had this many.

And I thought okay, this is from I think 1981. So I went out and I swabbed everyone. And every single one I swabbed, I usually start this way. I'll usually say hey I've got DNA at the crime scene.

I can eliminate you. And usually people want to be eliminated as suspects. And so it should provoke from you, oh great, let's do it. And so I knew if I ever hit somebody who was like, well, I'm not sure I want to talk to a lawyer, I might have something interesting in front of me, right? Every single one was like, oh yeah, great, let's do it.

And sure enough, none of them were our killer. And I realized that this is a true whodunit. That's one of the things that's harder. It's one thing to work a guy who you know who did it 30 years ago but you could never make the case and now you're just trying to make the case stronger. That's one kind of case. It's another kind of case when you have no idea who did it. It's a true whodunit and you're just kind of stabbing in the dark. That's what this case was for us.

And I think it stuck with me because, well, pride is part of it. You don't want to have an unsolved case. It wasn't my original case so I wouldn't have no obligation to solve it. But I did know and I've done it so many Dateline cases that at some point, some clever detective is going to solve it. And then they're going to call me in as the guy who couldn't solve it.

And I'm going to be on the interview on Dateline as the guy who couldn't solve it. So it was a pride issue for me, right? Yeah, but you tried though. Yeah, so that's part of it.

I'll just be honest. But also I think because she was my age and you're working for victims' families because those folks have given up hope. And that's one of the things we talk about in this book is the value of hope. And that's one of the things that the gospel provides. And a sense that these families are suffering because they feel like they're never going to get justice. Well, according to our worldview as Christians, that could never be said. There will be justice.

You're just concerned about when you're going to get justice. But to think that you'll never get it is only true if there is, if Christianity is false. But it turns out Christianity, the gospel offers the one thing that solves every kind of stupid you can think of, including murder stupid. The gospel actually has a solution because it's aiming at the root cause, which is sin.

Yes. So I think in the end that's one of the things that you learn as a detective. Even in the worst cases that change you forever, the solution is still the gospel. These are insights from former detective J. Warner Wallace, now prolific author. And his newest book is called The Truth and True Crime. And we want to make this book available to you for your gift of any size so you can help us continue to bring the gospel to people and teach God's word. So, O Russia, your copy of The Truth and True Crime.

Dave, tell them more. Yeah, we'll be glad to send this new book your way to thank you for your investment in keeping these daily studies coming your way. Perfect for true crime enthusiasts and anyone interested in exploring the intersection of faith and real life experiences. And time is running out for us to make this resource available, so get in touch with us right away. Just ask for The Truth and True Crime when you call 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

Or go online to Well, next time, more insights to help us reach out and impact our culture from this new series in the book of Acts. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at
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