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No One Is Beyond the Reach of God | Choosing Between Life and Death

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 19, 2022 3:00 am

No One Is Beyond the Reach of God | Choosing Between Life and Death

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 19, 2022 3:00 am

In spite of the fact that eternal life is a free gift from God, paid for by Jesus’ death at Calvary, some accept that gift and some don’t. That’s startling to believers: “heaven or hell, take your pick.” “Yeah, I just don’t think heaven’s the right fit for me.” Today on A NEW BEGINNING, we’ll take a look at that choice and how people each make the choices that lead to life or death. Pastor Greg Laurie is presenting an enlightening series in the book of 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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Everybody you're listening to a new beginning, which is a podcast made possible by harvest partners. This program is impacted you, I love to hear from you.

So just send an email to me at again it's you can learn more about becoming harvest partner by going to is Christianity just another religion master Greg Maurice's no explains a key difference between Christianity and other religions of the world. If you were to sum up religion. One word it would be the word to do this and you'll reach Nirvana to this other thing you might get to heaven if you were to sum up Christianity in one word would be the word John John Finley system because of the death of Christ and live is a free gift from God by Jesus death at Calvary except active and some don't. That's startling to believe in heaven or hell just don't think heaven is the right for me today on a new beginning to look at that choice in how people need to make the choices that lead to life presenting an enlightening series and the upside down line look at zoom in in the Bible that are placed side-by-side, Saul of Tarsus and Simon the magician. One had a real conversion. The other did not.

This is a reminder that time will tell if a person is really a believer. Chapter 9 definitely one of my favorite stories in the Bible verse one Saul was uttering threats with every breath, and he was eager to kill the Lord's followers so we went to the high priest who requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the way underline that phrase the way he found there. He wanted to bring them both men and women to Jerusalem and change. The sky was heartless as he was approaching Damascus on this mission. A light fell from heaven and it suddenly shone down around him and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me who are you, Lord saw last the voice replied I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go to the city and to be told what to do with the men who were with Saul stood speechless for they heard the sound of someone's voice puts on no stop what you love that story. So here Saul is like a wild animal verse one says he was uttering threats and this is an interesting phrase it means he was ravaging people to destroy them.

He was just filled with fury fact, Paul said in acts 2611 when giving this testimony arranging fury assessed him and if you were to have told Saul a buddy before you get to the end of this trip you're going to Christian he would've laughed in your face I love this description of the first century Christians in verse two he requested letters addressed to the synagogues asking for the cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the way of the way. I mentioned to you before that the Christians did not get together and decide to call themselves Christians. They were called followers of the way they call themselves followers of the way. No doubt, based on the statement of Jesus in John 14 six were he said what I am the way the truth and the life. So they were followers of the way they believe that Jesus was the way to God as we believe today. Well, most of us are some of us how many of you believe Jesus is the only way to a relationship with God raising that's good because this is a nonnegotiable and I bring this up because it's not controversy over say that to say that there's only one way to a relationship with God that is through Jesus Christ so much. I will bet that that's not right. I read recently that 70% of born-again Christians were pulled and they said they did not believe that Jesus is the only way to God. My responses are you sure you're a born again Christian, how can you say that because it's so clear in Scripture how this is a nonnegotiable true, why, why believe Jesus is the only way to the father because Jesus said so now really comes out of that.

We believe the Bible or not. I know it seems very open minded if you maybe even compassionate if you to say will all roads really lead to God and really when you get down to it, all religions really teach the same thing, which is your way of saying I don't know what the heck I'm talking about is if you take an honest look at the great religions of the world you will see they clearly do not TEACH the same thing back if you were to sum up religion. One word it would be the word. Do you do this and you'll find inner peace do that, you'll reach Nirvana do this other thing and you might get to heaven if you were to sum up Christianity in one word it would be the word Don Don it's finished. It's completed because of the death of Christ on the cross so you have a choice to go with donor you can go would do do do acts 412 says her salvation in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be say there were people of the way. Not all way. Or a better way. They were people of the only way so it's afternoon, the sun probably shining Saul's on his way to kill Christians. It's a good day in the mind of Saul of Tarsus versus is a light fell from heaven and shown around him and he fell to the ground and the way says Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me. I love Saul's response. Who are you, Lord, who are you and I know that Saul is probably thinking don't see Jesus say cheese. Who are you, Lord, I am Jesus assets 5555 who you are persecuting that Saul said so obscure Homer Simpson reference in case you missed it, he realized that the very God. He thought he was serving. He was in fact opposing and it's also interesting how Jesus says why do you persecute me, Jesus identifies with his people. When someone raises her hand against us. They are in fact raising a hand against Christ self so if you're hurting I want you to know. Jesus knows he's more than aware, fascinating verse, verse five Jesus says it's hard for you to kick against the go. Now that's a statement that is hard for us to understand what is that even me ago was basically a sharpened stick.

So back in the first century instead of putting the pedal to the metal you put the go to fox okay a gold was a sharp. Instead you want ox to go faster. You want to shift into second gear became a Pope right so this is a picture Jesus uses your kicking against the go so I'm prompting you to believe I'm convicting you your writing with me your kicking against that. So what would these goals so called be. I think the arguments life and death of Stephen was one of them the way he died. As I pointed out I think the spread of the gospel and the response of the believers were goals as well. So probably wondered how can these people suffer and die if it's all a lot.

So Saul believes I'm going to have to put that on freeze-frame will come to that later because my regular shift. Here's a look at the other character in our story of one who was converted Saul of Tarsus. Now we have another what appears to be converted, but in fact he is closer because things are not always as they appear. I was with Chuck Smith years ago and we did a TV show together and afterwords we went into the little back room and they had a whole bunch of sushi half their so there was some was sobbing, you know, it was obvious it so you take a little bit. It was sobbing, you mix it up in the soy sauce and you dip your sushi and that was sobbing right will so I'm there with Chuck Smith he's looking at all this food and he was get. He's filling his plate was Associates at one of Chuck I didn't know you love sushi.

He says I love sushi grade then he takes a big ball of was sobbing ball and he pops it in his mouth. Unlike any right red tears are starting to come out of his eyes. He just stands there and then he finally swallows it. I said Chuck you're not supposed to eat that in Texas I thought it was a welcome old man brutal but a great story. Thank you.

Pastor Chuck, things are not always as they appear. That's certainly the case assignment Simon the sorcerer Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message just a moment, you know, there's nothing lying here in the word of God worshiping the Lord together. I will encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home every Saturday and Sunday join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together. So join us for Harvest at Home and harvest. Pastor Greg is been focusing on the life of Saul of Tarsus and now he contrasted with the story of Simon the magician Simon the sorcerer little backdrop on the story before we read about it. Philip was in town and he was praying for people Americans were happening and it's a great time.

Enter Simon the sorcerer acts chapter 8 verse nine. Going back back to acts eight verse nine amending Simon a business sorcerer for many years. Amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. Everyone from the least of the greatest often spoke of him as the great one on the power of God.

They listen closely to him because for a long time. He astounded them with this magic, but now the people believe folks message of the good news concerning the kingdom of God in the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized.

Then Simon himself believed and was about size began following Philip wherever he went. He was amazed at the signs and bring miracles Philip reform.

So at first glance it looks like this guy.

Simon became a believer. So Simon the magician he was probably steeped in occultism, but he probably had some pretty cool magic tricks up his sleeve that were nothing more than slight of hand and trickery. We have a professional magician that attends our church over on Maui is name is Warren I went to one of his shows. It's incredible, unwarranted Christian and he uses his magic when not. It's not little magic, but he uses allusion to make spiritual points.

It's very convincing and I asked about price.

So tell me how you did this, he wouldn't reveal how we did it and that I just tell you this, when someone comes want to do a card trick I he contracts okay. Pick a garden he could to stop I don't pick a card go away with your cards okay, but whatever Simon did.

It was very impressive. It was very convincing so might've been a combination of trickery, allusion, and devilish power on display, but whatever it was he had the people eating out of his hand.

He was very popular. It was even called the great one. You're the great one. We enjoyed that well. Along comes Philip and Philip Rex. Everything Annie preaches the gospel in real power is now on display.

Because there's no power that can compete with the power of the gospel because it's the power of God unto salvation. So Simon had no magic trick to match this so we read in verse 13 he believed and was baptized out was he converted all I don't know I can attend to doubt it. For this reason because if you drop down to verse 20 we see that Peter showed up in town, along with John and they were performing miracles by the hand of God, and Simon said listen, I want to buy this trick this thing.

You guys are doing.

I want this in my repertoire. So how much to buy this ability that didn't play well.

Peter says in verse 20. May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God's gift can be bought. You have no part in this. Your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you of your evil thoughts. I can see your full of bitter jealousy and held captive by sin while so to super serious charge that Peter is leveling at Simon when he says me your money be destroyed with you the way it says he believed and was baptized does not mean he was a Christian, not necessarily.

It is my belief that he was not a believer at all you know in a technical sense you could say the demons believe by that I don't mean that I think are followers of Jesus, the very opposite of that. But yet James 219 says you believe there is one God, you're right. Even the demons believe that interests tremble over foolish men, don't you know faith without works is dead.

Let's say I interviewed a demon that be freaky when let's say interviewed Lucifer himself.

The devil, if I were the West, Satan say, let me ask you a question. Do you believe that Jesus is the son of God, what he think his answer with yes hello I know that because in the temptation than the wilderness. He said to the Lord. Since you are the son of God. Why don't you turn this rock and do a piece of bread he was not questioning that Satan believes Jesus is the son of God. If I were to ask the devil do you believe that the Bible is the word of God.

What you think.

His answer would be yes he knows it. As we already read in that verse. The demons believe in tremble, that he knows it's true, but obviously he's in rebellion against ditzy Simon, I think, was speaking the conversion because it was something he really wanted but the Bible leaves a story open-ended. He was told to repent. Did he repent later. I don't know. Hopefully he did. But this much is true you can say you're a Christian and not be a Christian and John to we read that when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover. Many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did. Within this statement. But Jesus did not commit himself to them. He knew all men. Many believed in him. When they saw the signs were Jesus did not commit himself to them. He could translated this way. Many believed in him, but he didn't believe in that.

That's John to write on the heels of that is John three amazing insight and what we read in John three now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night and what happened with him what he believed. We know that later. Nicodemus became a believer, but he had this conversation with Christ, so that's in contrast, a many appeared to be believing, but they were not believers but here's this guy the most unexpected guy Nicodemus, the leader of the Pharisees who actually did become a believer.

We have that same picture in the story before us. Here's a man who did not want to become a believer. The last thing he wanted was Jesus's name was Saul he became a true Christian. Here's a man that appeared to want to be a believer. He really did not.

His name was Simon. If you're a real believer, you need to repent of your sin. That's what Peter said he he said you need to repent of this in repentance doesn't just mean being sorry it means being sorry enough to stop in closing, I wonder from talking to someone that's been kicking against the goats and by that I mean you're kicking against the Holy Spirit.

Your you're resisting the convicting work of the Spirit who is trying to draw you to himself why. Well we get this idea that being Christian. Such a contract, rules, regulations, absolutes, I want to just do what I want to do go where I want to go and live the way I want to live and hang out with the people I want to hang around with and then you go down that path and you see how empty that is in meanwhile Jesus is still calling you did it ever occur to you that God's plan for you this far better than your plan for yourself. I love that verse" often Jeremiah 2911 it says I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope much of a story I heard about a guy who is being pursued by an attorney in this man was certain that that attorney wanted to serve them with a subpoena, so this guy made it his mission in life to invade the attorney.

This went on for 13 years and that attorney was never able to make contact with this man while the men got very sick and he was actually dying when he was in the hospital and lo and behold they wheel that attorney and right next to him. He was sharing the room with the attorney.

The mentor knew the attorney as a going ad serving the subpoena. I don't even care. Now I'm in a die attorney said subpoena. I have a written document telling you that you would inherited $45 million to that's us running from God.

I don't want God's will. God wants to bless you. God wants to forgive you.

God wants to guide you.

God wants to use you. God wants to put supernatural gifts in your life and use you to change the world you running from what you are afraid of you should be running to him and away from him and you could do that right now there might be somebody that is caught in a cycle of addiction.

We've tried so many times to break free.

This can be your moment. Everything changes because of Jesus.

Maybe there somebody here that is been fighting with God and fighting with Christians in and that by the way, is a losing proposition. Don't get in a fight with God.

You gonna so loose right as it's been said your arms are too short to box with God to submit to God's plan for you is good is not trying to serve you with the subpoena is trying to give you an inheritance is trying to bless you, is trying to get you on the right course may be somebody here needs to get on that course Jesus died on the cross. Pearson paid the price for every sin you've ever committed and he will forgive you right here right now in a moment if you will turn the ship on a fake conversion like Simon a real conversion like Saul, let's all pray. Father, we thank you for your word to us. We know it's true.

And I know there are people here that need to get right with you. I'm praying that at this very moment your Holy Spirit will convince them of their need for Jesus and bring them to yourself Jesus name Greg Laurie important prayer if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord today. Pastor Greg will help you with that in just a moment before this addition of a new beginning. Concludes Pastor Greg. We know many of our listeners tune us in on a regular basis and would like to invite them to consider helping us on a regular basis is not right. Yeah I heard so many say if you're going to eat at the table. You should help stock the refrigerator, yet very true. And you know there there's a lot of effort that goes into producing this time of teaching you here every day via radio or podcast in and it's something that's very important to us and we know it changes lives. We know that people come to Christ. As a result of listening to a new beginning, and we know more are going to come to Christ. But we can't get to them without your help, see, this is a good effort that we all do together as a team, or going back to your analogy. Dave is a family doing it together as a family so we can add more people to God's eternal family.

So would you prayerfully consider investing in the harvest ministries financially. In doing so you will become a harvest partner if you offered was a reoccurring gift of what that means is you give us a gift each and every month and that enables us to respond to opportunities that come our way to reach new people with the gospel lesson here is our objective. We want to reach unexpected people in unexpected places with an unexpected message to help us to do that and become a harvest partner hears Dave to tell you a little bit more in that's right, you can choose the amount of the gift you sent each month. It's totally up to you and we have some special ways to say thanks to our harvest partners each month.

Right now were sending Pastor Greg book Steve McQueen the salvation of an American icon toward new partners with so much going on in our world right now you know with an alarming amount of tension and divisiveness and hopelessness. We want to reach out as far as we can with the hope of the gospel and so we are inviting new harvest partners to team up with us to meet the need.

Can we count you in. Get the or call us anytime 24 seven at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300 West Greg you spoke today about having a relationship with the Lord. Yes, someone can enter into that kind of relationship with God right now yeah they really can. That's the amazing thing. I think people are surprised that it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. It doesn't take weeks.

It doesn't take days doesn't even take ours you can believe on the spot and I would like to lead you in a prayer where you can ask for his forgiveness. A prayer where you can receive Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord. So if you want Christ to come in your life if you want him to forgive you of your sin if you want a second chance in life.

If you want to go to heaven when you die, stop what you're doing and pray after me these words Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as Savior and Lord is God and friend. Thank you for loving me and calling me ever giving me in Jesus name I pray, amen and amen. Listen if you have just prayed those words with pastor Greg. The Lord is heard you and forgiven you of your sin. The Bible says Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness and would like to send you some materials to help you begin to live this new life we call that our new believers growth packet just ask for and will send it your way, free of charge if you prayed for the first time today with pastor Greg, just give us a call anytime at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300 or write us at a new beginning. Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514 or go online to and click the words know God when next I pastor Greg points out that were living in a time when we can literally take the gospel to everyone on the planet talk about doing that jointed here on a new beginning.

Pastor five of Greg Laurie and I harvest partners, helping people everywhere know God learn how to do, harvest partner, sign up for daily devotions and find resources to help you grow in your faith

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