You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.
Sign up at harvest.org. When we share God's truth, we must do so boldly, lovingly, and clearly. The Gospel message speaks of the joy of heaven, but also the horror of hell.
Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie says we have to share the whole story. To promise the hope of heaven without warning of the reality of hell is not the true Gospel. So yes, we tell them the truth, but we always point them to the God of second chances.
Most PC users know what Control-Alt-Delete means. When the computer has gone down a path of rebellion, Control-Alt-Delete will force it to reboot. It's a reset, a do-over. Well, when a life has gone down a path of rebellion, when a spiritual reboot is needed, what then? We'll find out today on A New Beginning. Pastor Greg Laurie brings us good news about the pathway to spiritual health, the pathway of forgiveness, the pathway into fellowship with God.
Let me ask you a question. Can you think of someone right now that you know that you cannot in your wildest dreams even imagine ever being a Christian? Or maybe it is a public figure, a well-known antagonist, atheist, person that is opposed to the Christian faith. You can't even imagine that person ever carrying a Bible and saying, praise the Lord.
By the way, I really struggled with that phrase when I became a Christian because I was surrounded by all these believers that would say it constantly. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Hey this is great food. Praise the Lord.
Passion mashed potatoes. Praise the Lord. All this praise the Lord business. And I thought, I want to say praise the Lord, but it feels so alien to say it. And one day I was feeling like saying it.
And so I just started. I said, you know, praise the Lord. It felt good.
It does feel good. Let's all say it together. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Say it again. Praise the Lord.
See that? You were made to do that. You are wired to worship. You are created to bring glory to God. Well back to those people that we think of that you can't imagine being a believer.
Listen. No one is beyond the reach of God. It comes down to this. Sometimes the least likely are the most likely to come to Christ. Let me say that again. Sometimes the least likely, they are the most likely.
And let me explain. We think they are the least likely because they are argumentative or because they are always getting in our face or always creating trouble when we talk about Jesus Christ. But that may be because they are closer not further from the kingdom of God. See that makes no sense to me.
Listen. It might be because we are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The classic example is Saul of Tarsus. He was a Christian killer.
Literally. He hunted followers of Jesus for sport. He arrested men and women and took their children and threw them into jail and even had a little fun doing it. And he thought ironically he was doing the work of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Well one day Saul of Tarsus, the Christian killer, by the way he presided over the death of the first martyr of the church, Stephen.
He was on his way on the Damascus road to hunt some more Christians down. And guess who shows up? Jesus.
And he has this sense. He hears the voice of God speak to him. And the voice who is the Lord Himself says, Saul Saul why are you persecuting me? Then the Lord says, it is hard for you to kick against the goads.
A goad is just a sharpened stick. And so the idea is God is trying to get Saul's attention. Saul is kicking against it.
It is hard for you to kick against the goad. And then Saul says, who are you Lord? And I am sure Saul was thinking, don't say Jesus. Don't say Jesus. Don't say Jesus. And Jesus says, I am Jesus us us us us us us.
Whom you are persecuting. So Saul the Christian killer was transformed into the great apostle Paul the defender of our faith. So no one is beyond the reach of God.
So I bring this up because here is sort of an Old Testament version of that. Not Saul of Tarsus becoming the apostle Paul but the most powerful man on the face of the earth. King Nebuchadnezzar telling us how he came to faith. In fact part of this very chapter we are going to look at was written by the king himself.
You have to understand him. Nebuchadnezzar had unlimited powers. There was no congress or senate or press to try to keep him in check. There were no checks and balances. He just did whatever he did. Whatever he wanted. No one was his rival.
No one could oppose him. He had effectively conquered the planet. It was Nebuchadnezzar's world and everybody else just happened to live in it. And he was at the top of his game ruling over the magnificent city of Babylon. The hanging gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The walls of Babylon were 387 feet high.
That is by the way a third of the height of the Empire State Building. You could ride four chariots of breast across the walls of Babylon. The mighty river Euphrates flowed right through the middle of the city and they had this massive temple erected to their false god of Bel. And ruling over it all was the great Nebuchadnezzar. But in all of this he forgot something. Or maybe I should say he forgot someone. He forgot God. And even worse he took credit for what God had done. Now he should have known better because he had seen the Lord work. Remember he had that vision.
That dream of that statue with a head of gold and breast and arms of silver. And none of his soothsayers, fortune tellers, or astrologers could interpret it. But they called in the prophet Daniel who told him exactly what it meant.
And then later on he erected a giant golden image of himself and commanded everyone to worship it. And three courageous Jewish teenagers named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow. They were thrown into a furnace of fire. The flames are so hot that the very men that threw them in died from it. But yet as they are in the furnace Nebuchadnezzar says, I thought I threw three men in but yet I see four.
And the fourth looks like the Son of God. Jesus was walking with his boys to the furnace and afterwards Nebuchadnezzar had to admit in his own words quote there has never been a God who can pull off a rescue like this. Yet he did not believe.
Nebuchadnezzar knew about God. He had a respect for God. But now the problem is he wants to take the place of God and he commits a sin that has probably committed more than any other. A sin that is probably at the root of most sins. I am talking about the sin of pride. By the way that was the first sin ever committed.
Not on earth but in heaven. By Lucifer a high ranking angel who in Isaiah 14 Luke's paraphrase said, I want to be God. I want the top job.
I want to rule. The Lord says, you are done here. And he was cast down to the earth and then he goes to our first parents Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and tempts them with that forbidden fruit which by the way was not an apple. Where did the whole apple thing come from?
It is said over and over again. Sometimes even preachers will say the apple. There is no apple in the Bible. I am not against apples. I am just trying to be technical.
Just get this accurate. It was a special fruit but it wasn't the fruit that was appealing. It is what was promised if you ate of the fruit. Satan said, go ahead and take a bite because in the day you eat thereof you will be as a God knowing good and evil. Appealing to their pride. And of course you know the rest of that story.
We are still reaping the consequences of it. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody what are you doing this weekend? I would 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 we are learning about the pathway that leads to God's forgiveness. As Pastor Greg helps us track the conversion of mighty King Nebuchadnezzar. Let's continue.
Here is Nebuchadnezzar. He is filled with pride. So one night he goes to bed. He has a dream.
It is a troubling dream. In his dream he sees a massive tree. A magnificent tree.
A tree that is so big you can see it anywhere in the world. And there is a lot of fruit coming from this tree. And everyone is eating of the fruit of the tree. And then suddenly an angel comes down from heaven and cuts the tree down. The angel says cut down the tree. Strip its branches. But then the angel says let the stump remain.
Leave the stump in the ground. Well Nebuchadnezzar woke up and you know when you have a dream and you wake up with that feeling. That was not a good dream.
And you try to figure out your own dreams. Well he calls in the soothsayers and the astrologers and the fortune tellers and who knows why. He should have called for Daniel.
None of them have the answer. Again Daniel is brought in and he gives him the interpretation of the dream. And what Daniel says now to the king to me is a case study in evangelism.
And it is also a case study in how to confront a person about their sin in hopes that they will repent of their sin. Let's read together. Daniel chapter 4 starting in verse 19. He hears the dream. And upon hearing this Daniel also known as Belteshazzar was overcome for a time frightened by the meaning of the dream. Then the king said to him Belteshazzar don't be alarmed by the dream.
Tell me what it means. Belteshazzar, that is Daniel, replied, I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies and not to you. This brings me to point number one. When we share God's truth we should do so boldly, lovingly, and clearly.
Let me say that again. When we share God's truth we must do so boldly, lovingly, and clearly. And that is exactly what Daniel did. This was not an easy message to deliver. He is going to have to tell him that King you are the tree and the tree is cut down because you are going to be cut down as well. You know it is hard to tell someone that you love the truth sometimes.
So we won't say what we really think. And then we hurt them. We end up maybe sometimes enabling them in their sin or not warning them of something that could be spiritually destructive in their life. Proverbs 27 says, Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. You know there are some people that say, Oh I love you. I love you.
I love you. Then they will tear you down behind your back. But a true friend, someone who really loves you, will tell you the truth to your face. A true friend stabs you in the front.
Not in the back. But you do it with love. Because you know sometimes we use the message of truth like it is Thor's hammer. Here it comes. Boom.
And we are even happy. That is not the way to deliver truth. You deliver the truth in love.
We are told in Scripture that if a brother or a sister is overtaken in a fault you who are spiritual should restore such a person in the spirit of meekness lest you also be overcome. Listen buckaroo. One day it may be you. So don't be all arrogant. You might be the person down one day and you are going to need some help. So you deal with humility.
Man I am really sorry to tell you this. I really care about you. My objective is to get you back on your feet again.
Not to kick you when you are down. And so this is the idea. Daniel has to deliver a hard message to the king. And this is very important. He had to tell him the truth.
He couldn't you know candy coat it. And when we are sharing the gospel we need to do the same. You know sometimes we don't want to tell a non-believer what will happen if they don't believe.
We will leave those things out. But to promise the hope of heaven without warning of the reality of hell is not the true gospel. To offer the forgiveness of God without telling a person they need to repent of their sin is not the gospel. And this would not have been an easy thing to deliver this message to someone as powerful as Nebuchadnezzar. With one word your head could be separated from your body. Or he could have you tortured.
Or your family. So you are walking on eggshells around a guy like this. But I love the boldness of Daniel. But also the humility of Daniel. You know other people of God spoke boldly as well. Moses spoke boldly to the Pharaoh. Nathan the prophet spoke boldly to the king when he was in sin. Elijah courageously confronted King Ahab. And John the Baptist faced off with Herod.
They all told the truth. And this is what Daniel does. But look at the love he has for the king in verse 19. I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream what happened to your enemies and not to you. Listen Daniel took no pleasure in delivering this bad news to the king.
I wish this wasn't true. I wish I wasn't the one I had to tell you these things. But king I care about you even though you are a pagan. Even though you changed my name and the names of my friends. Even though you held me here and have held me as a captive for many years I have kind of grown to like you I have to admit. I have an affection for you.
And I wish this was for your enemies not you. And now he is going to have to give me the interpretation. Daniel 4.24. This is what the dream means your majesty and what the most high has declared will happen to my Lord the king. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven.
Oh that must have been a lot of fun to tell him. Excuse me your highness you are not going to become your lowness. I have got bad news for you king.
You are going to go out in a field and eat grass like a cow. What I am saying to you is you are going to be moving out of the palace soon. And I am giving you the utter truth here king. I am trying to you know. Look I don't want to milk this thing but I have got to say it. He is like doing stand up comedy. Hey tough audience.
I get no respect right. But he delivered the message. So yes we need to speak the truth lovingly, boldly, and clearly.
But point number two. Always point people to the God of second chances. Always point people to the God of second chances.
Despite this ominous warning from Daniel there is still hope. Look at verse 27. King Nebuchadnezzar please accept my advice. Stop sinning. This is another way to say repent. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor.
Perhaps then you will continue to prosper. Now considering Daniel's perfect track record up to this point you would have thought the king would have listened. Daniel is saying buddy this doesn't have to happen if you repent. But the king was not having it. But here is the thing.
We tell people the truth but we always give them hope. Yes you are a sinner. Yes you are separated from God. No there is nothing you can do to right this wrong.
Nothing you can do to earn God's approval. That is the bad news. I have got to tell them.
Because you know what? You are not going to appreciate the good news if you don't first know the bad news. And so then I give them the good news. But the good news is. The good news is there is a God in heaven who sent his son to die on the cross for your sin. And if you will turn from your sin you can be forgiven. On the day of Pentecost Simon Peter was preaching to some of the very people who crucified Christ. I mean literally the people that nailed him to the tree. And as he is speaking to the crowd he says, and some of you played a hand in this and I wonder if he pointed his finger to a centurion over here or a religious leader over there. It was you.
I saw you man. And the Bible says they were cut to the heart. That is an interesting phrase that means something that happened suddenly and unexpectedly. Like a knife going in your heart.
They were cut. Conviction of the Spirit. And they said, what shall we do? And Peter said, you are all going to burn in hell. That is what you will do.
No that is not what he said is it. He says repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and times of refreshment will come from God. See there is hope. And that is what Daniel was saying to the king.
There is hope for you. So yes we tell them the truth but we always point them to the God of second chances. Pastor Greg Laurie with important counsel today on how to share the message of the gospel appropriately. We must share the whole truth but also share the hope of forgiven sin.
Now Pastor Greg will have a closing thought before today's edition of A New Beginning wraps up. And then Pastor Greg we are excited to announce your new book with the fascinating title, Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. It is a deep dive into the lives of some famous names in music and where they stand or where they stood with the Lord. The subtitle is The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll. And it is interesting that a pastor is writing a book about rock and roll and rock musicians.
It seems like an unlikely pairing. Well let me just say that I have always loved music. I have always loved rock and roll to quote the great theologian Joan Jett. I love rock and roll. And so I have always been aware of rock. I have always listened to rock. I kind of became aware of it more as a young man watching the Beatles.
But in this book, this is not glorifying rock music or rock musicians. This is a book that is exploring the lives of people that have basically experienced everything this world has to offer and have found it empty. It's sort of a modern version of the story of Solomon who had everything this world offers. And then he concluded it was all emptiness. It was like chasing the wind. It was like a bubble that bursts. And so you know when you've climbed to the top of the mountain and you've been all that and a bag of chips.
When you've been on a lunch box or on a t-shirt or people you know have your poster hung in their room, you realize how empty all of that is. So I explore these stories. One fascinating section of the book is about the so-called 27 Club.
Ever heard about that? These are artists who are very well known who all tragically died at the age of 27. Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27.
So did Janis Joplin. You have to put Jim Morrison in there as well. Fast forward a number of years and you put Amy Winehouse in there along with Kurt Cobain.
People that had it all and yet died at the very young age of 27. So I sort of show the birth of rock, the growth of rock, the pinnacle of rock in the 60s and 70s, and then the just complete collapse of so many of these iconic people. But then I explore the lives of those rock stars who have come to Jesus Christ and are following him.
People I've gotten to know personally like Dion Demucci of Dion and the Belmonts, Richie Fure of the Buffalo Springfield and Poco and Alice Cooper who I've interviewed multiple times. This is a guy that has experienced all that this world has to offer and has found it empty and now is following Jesus Christ. So it's a book that shows what happens when you make the right and the wrong choices but ultimately it's a book that I think will offer hope and say to you there is no one that you know that is beyond the reach of God. Yeah it's full of great reassurance and powerful insights on where fulfillment is really found. So can we send a copy your way?
Again it's called Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus. The subtitle is The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll and it's our gift to thank you for partnering with us right now. Your investments help these studies continue to come your way and they help us reach out with the gospel as we did several weeks ago at Boise Harvest and you know in the last couple of years more than 220,000 people have made professions of faith in Christ. Your donation is a worthy investment so get in touch with your investment today. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300.
That's a 24-hour phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time more insight from our studies in Daniel and his encounter with King Nebuchadnezzar. But before we go Pastor Greg has a final comment. We have a divine responsibility to share the gospel message. If you agree say amen. If you have done it this week say amen. Not as many amens.
We should do it every opportunity. I am looking at it this way. It is like if you were a medical scientist and you have cancer and let's say you spend hours and hours and weeks and days and months trying to find a cure and one day you discover the cure. One pill taken one time and your cancer is gone. So you take it. You are cancer free.
And then you say, well I am not telling anyone about this because I am uncomfortable talking to strangers. Excuse me. But this is not about you.
This became much bigger than you now. Now you need to share this with others because they need the cure too. What we have Christians is even more important than the cure for cancer. We have the cure to eternal death and separation from God. We have got to share it. 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 harvest.org.
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