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Sign up at harvest.org. Church needs to live the gospel and give an example to lost people. When someone famous dies, that news is in circulation on social media within minutes. By the time the breaking news appears on TV, millions already know about it.
But when we consider more important news, what's been called the good news, not the news of death but the news of life, the culture remains largely unaware or at least unconcerned. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how believers should never be ashamed of this gospel message. Well, we're in the book of Romans together, aren't we? And we're in Romans chapter 1. So turn there with me if you would.
And the title of my message is, Not Ashamed of the Gospel. You know pretty much everyone loves power. People are always into the biggest, the baddest, the fastest. I think guys especially like power for sure. You know you get a bunch of guys together and especially if they are in a gym and it won't be long until a competition starts.
Right? That's just the way of men. The other day I was in the gym with a guy and I challenged him to a pushup competition. I want to point out he is 20 years younger than me. And I don't want to say who won. I won. But if I had lost already on my strategy I would have said, oh great. You beat a 65 year old man. Aren't you proud of yourself?
But then when I won I said, oh you were just beaten by a 65 year old man. But I am up to 100 crunches a day right now. Pretty impressive. Nestle's crunches.
They are great. But you know then if you get guys together around a car and somebody comes with a fast car everybody wants to look under the hood. You know how much horsepower does that car have? Now we may never use it but we love to brag about horsepower. I read that Dodge has a new car out now. The Challenger Demon. And it has listen to this 840 horsepower.
Now if you don't know what that means that is insane. Nobody needs 840 horsepower. It is basically a street legal dragster. It goes zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds. And they say it even kind of pops a wheelie. A very practical thing when you are driving around at the mall.
Right? I mean that is a lot of horsepower for sure. And then there are other kinds of power besides that there is processor power. If you are into computers processor power. How many gigs you have in that?
How much storage do you have in that? You know and this is a good time to be a nerd by the way. In fact it is truly the revenge of the nerds. Because we need them so badly. So we are in the power of all kinds in our culture. Well the Romans they were really into power. They were known for power. Oh sure the Greeks had their philosophy but Rome had power and lots of it. There was no military force on the face of the earth more powerful than the legions of Rome. They were feared around the planet. And when Rome would conquer other nations and then take people as slaves Rome could exert their power but they could not change the human heart.
They were powerless to do that. The Roman world was full of violence and corruption and in fact it reminds us a little bit of today. Did you know that Rome had a very high suicide rate? That is interesting because we have a very high suicide rate in America as well. This could be indicated by the top three words that are typed into search engines on Google late at night. The three words are porn, lonely, and suicide.
That sums it up. Porn, lonely, suicide. Suicide rates in America have risen 25%.
45,000 Americans take their lives every year. This despite the fact that anti-depressant use is up but it doesn't seem to be helping. The National Suicide Hotline saw calls double from 2014 to 2017. In just a few years calls to the suicide hotline have doubled. And I think this is only made more clear when you hear of celebrities taking their own lives. In one week as you recall fashion designer Kate Spade and CNN personality Anthony Bourdain both took their own lives by suicide and tragically in the same way by hanging. I saw an expert being interviewed on television and he himself admitted to struggling with suicidal thoughts. So he traveled around the world and interviewed experts trying to understand why do people feel so despondent.
They want to take their own lives. And here is what he concluded and I quote. He says, We have natural physical needs. We need food, water, shelter, clean air.
If those are taken away we are in trouble really fast. Then he went on to say, There is equally strong evidence that people have very strong psychological needs. And I would expand that to spiritual needs. He says, You need to feel you belong. You need to feel as though your life has meaning and purpose.
You need to feel that people see and value you. And finally he said, You need to feel you have a future that makes sense. Now here is my response. Are not all of these needs met in a relationship with Jesus Christ? And the answer is yes.
And that is why we need to get this message out. And we come to Paul's very well-known statement here in Romans 1.16, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Quick poll. How many of you are not ashamed of the gospel? Raise up your hand.
You are not ashamed. Very good. All right. How many of you have ever personally shared the gospel? Raise up your hand. Great. How many of you have had the privilege of personally leading someone to Jesus Christ?
Raise up your hand. Well that is quite a few of you. And you know that is not the national statistic. I read recently that 90 percent of Christians have never led a person to Jesus.
Why do you think that is? The answer is the devil is in the details for sure. Because one thing we know about Satan is he does not want you to share your faith with anybody. And he will do everything he can to keep you from doing it.
And know this. When you get out there and say I am not ashamed of the gospel and you start looking for opportunities to engage people in evangelistic conversations you are going to face satanic opposition in one way shape or form. The devil's objective is to blind and bind people for life. Again the devil's objective is to blind and to bind people for life. In 2 Corinthians 4 it says Satan who is the god of this world has blinded the eyes and minds of those that don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the good news. They don't understand the message about the glory of Christ. So our mission should we decide to accept it, cue mission impossible theme, is to lovingly engage these people with the gospel.
Because 2 Timothy 2.23 says perhaps God will change these people's hearts and they will learn the truth and they will come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap for they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. Now we need to redouble our efforts to do that because you know America right now seems to be coming apart at the seams. And we see gender divide. We see racial divide. We see every kind of political divide of course.
And it seems to be worse than it has ever been. And we say how are we ever going to put this back together again. It is not a political solution. It is a spiritual solution. We need another Jesus revolution. We need a spiritual awakening. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Emails, phone calls, and messages from listeners are so encouraging to us.
And they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Pastor Greg, I first heard you on the radio in the 1990s. I'd go through the different stations just to hear you preach. Your messages about Jesus helped me in such a huge way to get through some really hard times. It was the highlight of my day just to listen to you. My kids remember and comment on your voice. My son calls it the Jesus voice.
I have found that there's nothing impossible through Jesus Christ. God bless you and your family. As Pastor Greg heard from you, why not call us and share your story? Here's the number 1-866-871-1144.
866-871-1144. Today Pastor Greg is presenting a message from our new Roman series called Not Ashamed of the Gospel. Let's continue now in Romans chapter 1.
Listen to this. The world needs to hear the gospel and let Christ change them. But the church needs to live the gospel and give an example to lost people. And you know when you stop and think about it, Jesus put some pretty unlikely characters together in His home team. The disciples. I mean we think of the disciples like they are standing on little pedestals and they never made mistakes.
Nothing could be further from the tooth. They were extraordinarily ordinary people. Just like you.
Just like me. Jesus called one guy called Simon the zealot and He put him together with another guy known as Matthew the tax collector. Now if you don't know the culture of the time that doesn't mean a lot. Simon the zealot.
What does that mean? The zealot. Does that mean he was very excitable and drank Red Bull all day long?
No. A zealot is a word that speaks of someone who is dedicated to the violent overthrow of Rome. You could call him Simon the anarchist. Simon perhaps even the terrorist.
Simon the zealot. And then there was Matthew the tax collector. Matthew was a Jew also known as Levi. And he was sort of a turncoat from his own people, his fellow Jews, collecting taxes for the occupying force of Rome. So here you have a guy that is in collusion with Rome and you have another guy that is dedicated to the violent overthrow of Rome. And Jesus says to the two of them, now you guys get along and love one another. But Jesus brought these people together and their lives changed. Think of James and John. They are called the sons of thunder.
You don't get a handle like that for nothing. If they were around today they would definitely be outlaw bikers I think. You would hear them rumbling in five miles away. They would have ape hanger handle bars. They would cruise in. They would have those leather vests. Tats up and down their arms. They would of course have the obligatory wallet on a chain as all bikers do. And then they might have a knife in their belt. They would come and sit down. You wouldn't want to mess with these guys. On one occasion they wanted to call fire down on a city because the city was not receptive to the message of Jesus.
Slightly overkill. And yet one of those brothers John of James and John went from being a son of thunder to the apostle of love. Only God can take a son of thunder and turn him into an apostle of love. Only God can take a Saul of Tarsus the Christian killer and turn him into the great apostle Paul the author of the gospel we are looking at together. And that is why Paul said I am not ashamed of the gospel. The former Saul of Tarsus knew if God could reach him anyone could be reached. And so to this powerful church in Rome Paul writes this epistle or really a letter. And we should be glad he wrote it because it was his desire to go to Rome but he wasn't able to go when he wanted to go.
So he wrote them a letter. And now we study this letter together. Romans is the most basic comprehensive statement of what the gospel is in all of the Bible. In a logical systematic way Paul knocks down every argument against the gospel and he shows that Christ and Christ alone is our only hope in both the first and the 21st century.
And any century to follow. We are reading now about the first Jesus revolution if you will. When Jesus Himself started it. And passed this message on to His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel. So let's read now from Romans chapter 1. We will read verses 8 to 16. And I am reading from the New King James Version. Paul writes, first I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all.
So we know Paul was southern for you all. That your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world for God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit and the gospel of His Son that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers making requests if by some means now at least I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift.
Underline that phrase. We will come back to it. Impart to you some spiritual gift that you may be established.
He continues on. That is that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware brothers that I often planned to come to you but was hindered until now. And I might have some fruit among you also.
Underline that too. We will come back to it. Just as among the Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians.
To wise and unwise. But as much as it is in me I am ready to preach the gospel to all who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God as salvation for everyone who believes. For the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith as it is written.
The just shall live by faith. Wow. Boom. There is some truth there.
It is like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant. Right. It is just a lot of truth coming our way. So since this was the first Jesus revolution let's find some takeaway points.
If you are taking notes. Number one. If you want to be a Jesus revolution Christian you should be known for your faith. If you want to be a Jesus revolution Christian or a believer like those of the first century you should be known for your faith. Look at verse 8.
I thank my God through Christ for you all that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. It wasn't easy to be a Christian in Rome. Rome was of course the capital of the Roman Empire. It was the center of power. Huge population.
Lived there around a million people. Caesar Nero was in power. Nero was insane.
He tore the end of his reign. Went out of his way to destroy Christians. In fact it was Caesar Nero that sent Christians to be covered in animal skins into the arenas to be killed by wild animals for sport and the entertainment of the people that were in attendance. It was Caesar Nero that literally covered Christians with pitch and lit them on fire and used them to light his own garden as he rode around in his chariot. Yet this church of Rome did not just survive. They flourished.
And not only did they flourish but the impact of the Roman Empire and in fact the impact of the whole world. That is why Paul says you are known for this around the whole world. Are you known for your faith? If we were to poll people that work with you, that live near you, that know you and we were to ask them is this person a Christian? Would they say oh yes. No question about it.
It is a good thing to be known for. As I have said before if you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you. And I mean good evidence. Not Harvest Crusade bumper stickers. Though that is a good thing. I am all for that.
On number two. If you want to be a Jesus revolution Christian you need to be using your spiritual gifts. If you want to be a Jesus revolution Christian you need to be using your spiritual gifts.
Look at verse 11. I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift that you may be established. I mentioned last time that God gives spiritual gifts to each one of us. And if someone gives you a gift should you not open it? I love to get gifts for people.
And I will get a gift from my wife occasionally. Maybe I will have it wrapped up in a box. I don't wrap it myself. Because I have no wrapping skills at all. And that goes for wrapping gifts and hip hop as well.
No wrapping skills. But so I will give this gift and go Kathy I got this for you. Maybe we are out at a meal or something. She will say ok and she will set it aside and eat her meal. I am like open it. I will open it later after dessert. No. No.
Not after dessert. Open it now. I am so excited.
I think you are really going to like it. So here is God in heaven. He says, I have given you a gift or I have given you gifts. Will you open them? No. Are you going. Sorry to throw my wife under the bus on this one. Are you just going to leave them sitting there until after dessert?
Hey man. Open those gifts that God has given to you. They are spiritual gifts. In fact we are even told in 1 Corinthians 1.7 we should not come behind in any spiritual gift as we wait for the coming of the Lord. Now later in Romans 12.6 to wait Paul talks about these gifts.
He says we have different gifts according to the grace that is given to us. If a man's gift is prophesying let him do it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving let him serve. If it is teaching let him teach. If it is encouraging well let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others then give generously. If it is leadership let him govern diligently.
And if it is showing mercy let him do it cheerfully. Note it says we have different gifts. We all have gifts that God has given to us. Now when you become a Christian and you ask Christ to come into your life and you ask Him to fill you with the Spirit and empower you with the Spirit He will install in you or instill in you I should say gifts from the Spirit. You need to find out what those gifts are and start to use them.
Why? Because these gifts of the Spirit that God wants to give are not toys to play with. They are tools to build with.
And they are weapons to fight with. Maybe God is giving you the gift of being an evangelist. I remember when I was a young Christian I went down to see Billy Graham preach in the stadium. And in fact I was already beginning my ministry at that point. And I watched him preach. I was so amazed. I loved it seeing all those people except Christ. And I went forward too. I was already a Christian but I just wanted a closer look at Billy Graham.
And there he was. And I thought that is what I want to be when I grow up. I never thought that I would be preaching in the stadium.
But I just felt sort of a connection to that gift that he had. And I thought I think God wants me to do that. I think God wants me to tell other people about Jesus. But the problem is we think an evangelist is just a guy in a pulpit preaching. And that can be an evangelist. But some of the best evangelists I know don't have pulpits. And they don't pastor churches.
They are just folk out there who love to engage people in evangelistic conversations. I introduced you recently to my friend Barry Maguire. Not the singer. Another Barry Maguire.
This is from Maguire's Car Wax. It is his family that started that company. Barry is a very successful businessman. He is not a preacher per se.
But I am telling you when I hang out with Barry Maguire he puts me to shame. He engages everyone in evangelistic conversations. He is always looking for ways to share the gospel. And he will go into all kinds of very interesting settings with a lot of nonbelievers present.
And he will tell them about his faith in Jesus and what Christ has done for him. I received a letter the other day from a lady who actually works as a sheriff. And it sounds to me like she too is an evangelist. Let me read you her letter. She says, I became a Christian in high school and was baptized at your church in Riverside at the age of 19. Shortly after I became a deputy for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department I worked my way through the ranks and I find myself now working as a sergeant in the very city where I once patrolled as a deputy. As a result I find myself reunited with the same lost and neglected drug addicted souls from 15 years ago.
This world, she writes, has not been kind to them. I felt very convicted to cover these people by prayer, by name, and attempt to bring them to Christ for the salvation and hope only He can bring. She says, by listening to your radio program on my way to work, I have been encouraged by your Word to do the work that God has called me to do for Him. Tonight I was not only able to share the gospel with a broken drug addicted woman but she was open to being led to Christ. I was a bit unprepared for the last part and I found myself not being able to remember the prayer to lead people to Christ.
Fortunately for me you had a short video on your website. I was able to play for her. We both watched and she prayed the prayer and I for her. I am encouraged to reach out to others that this world has given up on and I also am going to be better prepared next time. I know that not every contact will end this way as it did tonight but I want to continue to water and plant being assured God's Word does not return void. Then she concludes by saying, I am praying for a Jesus revolution.
Isn't that an amazing letter? So next time you get arrested. I know you get arrested a lot. Pray it is her.
No. Seriously. Here is a lady who has a career in law enforcement. She is putting it on the line for the gospel. Understandably this could jeopardize her career to engage people like she is. But who else would reach these people in this state? And I love the way she is taking the platform God has given her and using it for His glory.
You have a platform as well. Pastor Greg Laurie is bringing important insights today from the first chapter of Romans in a message called Not Ashamed of the Gospel. It is just the second study in our series called Relentless Grace, Paul's letter to the Romans.
Pastor Greg, I ran across the words of Ruth Graham. She said, our daughter's Swiss in-laws once gave my husband a Swiss watch. Eventually it stopped working but no local watchmaker could fix it.
So the next time we were in Switzerland, we sent it directly to the company that made it. They had no problem. The ones who made it knew how to make it work again. Is that way with a marriage, isn't it? If we're looking to fix it, we need to consult the one who made marriage.
Yes, that's very true. And God has given us so many truths in the Bible about how to have a strong and lasting marriage. You know, another statement that Ruth made about marriage is a good marriage is made up of two forgivers.
And I think that love keeps short accounts. You have a conflict. You need to resolve it to the best of your ability and not let the sun go down in your wrath, but you need to forgive and you need to forget. And you need to appreciate and love and value and honor your spouse and let them know. You have to verbalize it to them.
They can't read your mind. And I can't think of a better resource that I could offer you that are married out there and even some of you that are single. Why not learn about marriage before you get married? And this resource I want to talk to you about is called The Marriage Devotional written by my friend Levi Lusko along with his wife Jenny. It's a very practical book. It's a biblical book.
It's something that's going to help you strengthen your marriage. It's devotions you go through each and every day. Levi, how many devotions are in this book and how long would it take to go through one with your spouse?
Well, there's 52 and that will last you either a whole year or a month and a half depending on how you approach it, whether you need more intensive focused work or you have the leisure of a whole year. I think if you gave 15 minutes, you could do it. But honestly, you could spend an evening, bring it with you on your date night. As you go through it, you would read through the content in just 10, 15 minutes. We didn't want a high bar there if you look up the verses.
But if you take the time to answer the questions and to do the activities that we recommend, it could last you definitely an hour. And we also know couples that will read it by themselves and then come together and share their answers. So there's no wrong way to go through it. But you're going to get God's word. The Bible opens with the marriage in the book of Genesis. The Bible closes with the marriage in the book of Revelation. And in the dead center is the book of Song of Solomon where God really puts his stamp of approval on this institution of marriage that he created, that he knows how to get the best out of, and that he wants to be a powerhouse for evangelism.
Ephesians says that marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and his church. So if our marriages are operating how God wants them to, the result will be people coming to know Jesus. We know that we have listeners right now that have strong and vibrant marriages. We know that there's some folks listening right now whose marriage is in trouble. And I think I'm probably speaking to someone who has their marriage hanging by a thread.
And maybe the thread's on fire. Well, we have help for you, hope for your marriage, and it's called The Marriage Devotional. We'll send it to you for your gift of any size this month to help us continue on with our ministry. The Marriage Devotional, written by Levi and Jenny Lesko.
Order your copy right now. I think this is one of the most important resources we've ever offered here on A New Beginning. Yeah, and we're ready to send it your way. We're so thankful for your partnership. You know, we don't have any large organizations covering all the expenses of bringing you these studies.
No, it's listener support that makes it possible. So as you invest today, we'll be glad to send you The Marriage Devotional to say thank you. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300.
That's a 24-7 phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Or simply go online to harvest.org. Well next time, Pastor Greg helps us all dig in, stand up, and speak out with the Gospel. And for some extra help with evangelism, check out Pastor Greg's free study course called Tell Someone. You'll find all his free online courses at harvest.org. And then join us again next time here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. 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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