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What Makes Christians So Great? - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2023 6:00 am

What Makes Christians So Great? - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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March 14, 2023 6:00 am

How did Christianity grow from a few followers of a crucified Jew in a tiny corner of the Middle East to a global force for good? In the message "What Makes Christians So Great?" Skip explores what enabled a tiny movement two millennia ago to spread like wildfire, and how it can still spread through you today.

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The Christian life is not static. It is not stagnant. It is not just a system of ethics. It's not just a religious ideology. It is living.

It is moving. It is growing. Now, here's an offer that'll help you uncover and boldly follow God's will for you. We want to tell you about a powerful resource that will help you understand and follow God's will. It's Pastor Skip's eight-message package, Discovering God's Will. You have the Spirit of God living in you, and He will guide you, He says, with His eye. And do you realize God is more interested in guiding you than you are in being guided?

So as soon as you say, Lord, I want to take and be ruled by your peace and rooted in Scripture, and I want to honor your name, He's right there to direct your steps. Skip Heitzig's Discovering God's Will package includes message titles such as, Guardrails to Knowing God's Will, and Navigating Another Year, as part of eight full-length teachings by Skip. We'll send you this powerful resource as thanks for your gift to expand Connect with Skip Heitzig to reach more people in major U.S. cities. So request your resource when you give and start to make your life count for God's kingdom. Just call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash offer.

That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, let's turn to Colossians 1 as Skip begins his study. In the 1800s, a missionary from Edinburgh, Scotland, went over to a group of South Pacific islands called the New Hebrides Islands. Now it's called Vanuatu, but at the time he went, his name was John Patton. John Patton went to those group of islands as a missionary, share the gospel to see people's lives change.

The people who lived on those islands were cannibals, so it made life interesting, to say the least. And he was so committed to this group of people, and he wanted to translate the truths of the New Testament into their language. And he, as he was translating, had problems with one word that he couldn't find the right equivalent in their language, and it was the word believe, the word for faith, the word for trust. He couldn't quite get the right meaning. So one day, he's sitting in his tent or his hut, and he has, so he's sitting down. I don't know what he was sitting on, certainly not a stage, but he was sitting down and he invited an elder to come in, one of the tribe's people, and John Patton leaned back in his chair, put his feet up, and he said, okay, to the guy, what am I doing right now? The guy said, what?

He goes, what am I doing? Do you have a word in your language that describes what this is? And so he gave him a word in his language that literally means to place all of your weight upon. So when he translated John 3 16, John Patton's version equivalent in that language is this, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever places his whole weight on him will not perish but have everlasting life. That's what it means to believe in the New Testament, to place all of your life upon, to really believe from the heart. That's why the old King James, I love its translation, says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. So the moment you do that, salvation happens. And for some people, it's a very emotional experience.

I see people who have come forward, tears in their eyes filled with remorse for the past. Others come all ecstatic, all happy, sometimes tears of joy. When I came to Christ, I didn't have tears. I didn't get all excited.

I didn't hear a voice or see anything. But I did feel as if the weight of the world was lifted. This huge oppression of weight that was settled on my soul was lifted. And I went, I can remember it like yesterday. And that was 1973, yo.

It was a long time ago. But that impression of, I'm saved. I believe. So hearing and then believing. They're exposed to a great gospel. They experience a great Christ.

Third, they exhibit great love. Notice again in verse 4, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints. And then go down to verse 7, as you learn from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, verse 8, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

So these converts in Colossae had a love for all of God's people. And it was so great that even their pastor bragged about it to Paul the Apostle. And I just want to say, you're brag-worthy.

I brag about you. As your pastor, I realize that I serve one of the most loving congregations. What I mean by that is, whenever there's an opportunity to show God's love, you step up to the plate. And sometimes I feel we give you way too many opportunities. It's like there's so many things going on, we don't want to tap them for anything else. But whether it's raising money for Ukraine or Afghanistan or backpacks for kids going back to school who have nothing or Operation Christmas Child, shoeboxes, for decades, you look for those opportunities and you have always stepped up to the plate because you have a love for God's people and love to see Jesus glorified.

So I'm bragging on you, not just here, but elsewhere. But notice, in verse 4, notice that love follows faith. Faith is first, followed by love.

Why? Because to Paul, faith is proven by love. If you have real faith, it will be demonstrated by love.

Now, would you agree with this statement? Love seems pretty absent these days from our world. I don't feel the love, do you? Not a whole lot of it out there. Jesus said, the love of many in the last days would grow cold, and I think we're seeing that in spades.

Spades. It was 1965 when Jackie DeShannon sang a song. Some of you remember that song?

Do you remember what song I'm thinking of? What the world needs now is love, sweet love. That's the only thing that there's just too little love.

Don't be frightened, that won't happen again. But I agree with that. There's not enough love. It is absent from our world. Malcolm Muggeridge said, the biggest disease and the greatest evil today is the lack of love. Now, one of the most notable characteristics of an unsaved person is that they are wrapped up in themselves.

And so one of the most notable characteristics of a saved person ought to be that we are wrapped up in the lives of others. I remember a magazine when I was a kid, Life Magazine. Anybody remember Life Magazine? Okay, do you remember when it started? It was 1880, so none of us really would remember.

It was a trick question. So I remember growing up with Life Magazine. I loved the pictures. It was a big magazine.

And as a kid, I'd flip through it. It was all about life, life here, life in different places, letting you know what's going on in life. But then in 1974, another magazine came that eclipsed the subscription even of life, and it was called People Magazine. People Magazine, 1974, mostly about people, not life as much, just people. And then 1979, another magazine eclipsed that called Self. Do you see a trend here from life to people to self? I was waiting for the magazine me to come out.

Oh, wait, that's Instagram, isn't it? We have all met people who claim to be good Christians but are unloving. I'm a good Christian.

Really? We'd do anything to get that look off your face and see some joy and love coming out of that. They're the kind of people Mark Twain had in mind when he said, he's a good man in the worst sort of way.

We've all known people like that. But we also know that Jesus said, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples because you have love for one another. Why is that?

Pretty basic. How can we ever share the gospel of God's love unless we love? If we don't love and we're talking to people about God's love, it's just not going to translate.

They're going to be out the door, never to return. And here's how it works. God is invisible. No one has seen God, the Bible says, at any time. The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him. So God is invisible, but love somewhat, some way makes an invisible God visible.

1 John 4 verse 12, no one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us and His love is brought to full expression in us. So they were exposed to a great gospel, they experienced a great Christ, and they exhibited great love. Let me give you a fourth trait that makes Christians great. They expected a great future.

They expected a great future. Go to verse 5. Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, it's your eventual home, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. Now, are you noticing this triad that Paul is so famous for? Faith, hope, and love put together.

He didn't do this just here, he did it in 1 Thessalonians. The most famous usage of that is 1 Corinthians 13. Now abide faith, hope, love, these three, and the greatest of these is love. Faith, hope, and love is like, to Paul, it's like apostolic shorthand to describe the genuine Christian life. These are three cardinal virtues of our faith. Paul sometimes puts them in different order, sometimes it's faith, love, hope, sometimes it's faith, hope, love, but faith is always first because faith is what produces those other two.

I think when Paul uses these three and he tries to work them in, he's looking for a way with words to encompass the entire Christian experience. So, faith rests on the past, love works in the present, hope looks to the future. So, our faith has produced love, but not just love, we realize we have a hope that goes beyond this life waiting for us in heaven.

Have you ever thought about it? Let me state it differently. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest organization in the world. Once again, the Church of Jesus Christ is the greatest organization in the world.

Let me explain. Number one, our product works universally. We preach the gospel in any country of the world, any language, any era, and lives will get changed.

Our product works universally. Second, we have a pretty awesome benefits package. I get forgiven of all my past sins, I get peace and joy and all that that comes with it, purpose.

But third, the retirement package is literally out of this world, in heaven, the best ever. So, we have a hope that goes beyond today or tomorrow or next week or when I get my pension check or gold wash from the company, it goes beyond this life. Remember what Paul said, if we have hope in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most miserable, but we have a greater hope than just this world. Now, unsaved people do not have this hope. The hope they have is right here on this earth, in this world, it's all they got. So, if you wonder why are these people so mean and selfish and focused on themselves, this is all they have.

That's why they don't want to let go of anything because there's nothing after this. Let me just say to you, if you're an unbeliever this morning, first of all, I hope you come to your senses and you receive Christ and get forgiven and get hope and get peace and all that we're talking about, but you might be the kind that said, no, not me, I'm never going to be converted, you're never going to get me preaching. I'll come with my wife or I'll come with my kids or I'll get drug, but I'm digging, I'm not going to respond ever. If that is your heart, let me just say to you, if that's where you're at, then you better milk this world for all you can.

You better suck it dry like an orange and get every last drop of fun and satisfaction because this is it. After this life is over, last good time you'll ever have. That's why I say I'm praying and hoping that you'll have a change of heart and you'll have a hope that is beyond this earth. Now, I mentioned the world doesn't have much hope. A New York research group made this statement, most Americans are unhappy with their lives. Wow, most Americans are unhappy with their lives. The thing about that statement, it was spoken a few years ago before COVID. Before the pandemic, most Americans are unhappy with their lives. You think it's gotten better since the pandemic? Has the hope gone up or down since then?

It's gone down, I think. I was asking on my pastoral team this week, I said, what have you noticed in counseling since the last couple years and now that the pandemic is largely over? What do you notice in terms of your counseling?

What kind of issues? They said people are filled with anxiety more than we've seen it. People are filled with fear and despondency and hopelessness, lack of confidence more than ever before. It's like, we didn't expect a pandemic and that happened so anything else can happen now.

You know, sky is falling kind of a thing. According to a Gallup poll, 2021 was the most unhappy year on record. 2021, the most unhappy year on record. According to Gallup's negative experience index, I didn't even know there was such a thing as a negative experience index. Did you, Chip?

This is the first time I heard about it, but there is one now. According to Gallup's negative experience index, the world experienced more negative emotions in 2021 than any other year the study was conducted. This world is pretty desperate for hope. When you hear the message of the gospel and you believe it, love is generated and hope you should have so much hope for your future. And then finally, and we close with this, what makes them great?

They exported great fruit. Verse six, which has come to you as it also has in all the world and is bringing forth fruit as it is among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. It's fruitful. The Christian life is not static. It is not stagnant. It is not just a system of ethics. It's not just a religious ideology. It is living.

It is moving. It is growing. It is fruitful. The gospel produces inward transformation. That is the love and the hope that is mentioned.

It produces outward benefit. That is the fruit. I don't know exactly what kind of fruit Paul has in mind because he's already mentioned love and hope.

It sounds like fruit to me. But what I think he has in mind, by the way this is worded, is simply he is referring to the replicating nature of the gospel message, that wherever it goes, it grows, it spreads. New converts are being won. It's Paul's way of saying Christianity is spreading everywhere. So it's come to you, Colossians, and it's also now come through you to other people in your town and in your family.

I mean, think about this. What began as a despised movement led by a crucified Jew in an obscure section of a despised land by the Roman government became the most dominant religious system of the Roman Empire by the fourth century A.D. That's growth. That's fruit. The message was dropped in different places, and it spread like wildfire. So they heard it. They were changed by it, and now they're spreading it around, being fruitful. That makes Christians great.

Now I want to close with this thought. Remember the parable Jesus spoke about, the parable of the merchant that found a pearl, and it was so valuable that he sold everything he had to buy the pearl? A little parable in Matthew 13. I'm not going to talk about the different interpretive views of that, but there was an author who helps us understand this whole idea of the faith we're talking about, right?

This all-in faith, this lean into it and put your whole weight on kind of a faith. Here it is. I want this pearl. How much is it? Well, the seller says, it's very expensive. But how much, we ask?

Well, a very large amount. Well, do you think I could buy it? Oh, of course. Everyone can buy it. But didn't you just say it was very expensive?

Oh, yes. Well, how much is it? Everything you have, says the seller. Well, we make up our minds. All right, I really want it.

I'll buy it. We say, well, what do you have? He wants to know. Let's write it down. Well, I have $10,000 in the bank.

Good, $10,000. What else? Well, that's all. That's all I have. Nothing more? Well, I have a few dollars here in my pocket. How much?

We start digging. Well, let's see, $30, $40, $60, $80, $100, $120. That's fine. What else do you have? Well, nothing.

That's all. Well, where do you live? He's still probing. Well, in my house. Yeah, I have a house. The house, too, then.

He writes that down. You mean I have to live in my camper? Oh, you have a camper.

That, too. What else? Man, I'll have to sleep in my car. Oh, you have a car. Yeah, I have two of them. Both of them become mine.

Both cars. What else? Well, you already have my money, my house, my camper, my cars. What more do you want? Well, are you alone in this world? No, I have a wife and two children.

Oh, yes, your wife and children, too. What else? I have nothing left. I'm left alone now.

Suddenly, the seller exclaims, oh, I almost forgot. You, yourself, too. Everything becomes mine. Wife, children, house, money, cars, and you, too. Then he goes on. Now, listen. I will allow you to use all of these things for the time being, but don't forget that they're all mine, just as you are. And whenever I need any of them, you must give them up, because now I am the owner. That describes this, right?

Right? Put your whole weight, your whole life, your whole future on Him. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. And you go, well, I'm giving up so much. No, you're getting love. You're getting hope and a whole list of other benefits we haven't even touched on. You're getting heaven in exchange for what you deserve.

You're getting God's grace and God's goodness. Free. Free. It cost me so much.

No. He gave everything. He was all in to go to the cross. He gave His life for you. He's asking you to live for Him. Live an abundant life for His glory. God's Word has the power to change lives.

I believe that with all my heart. That's why we work to take these teachings to more friends like you. We want to see lives changed all around the world. I'd like to ask you to consider giving a gift today to help make these teachings available in more places and through more outlets. Your generous gift can help others experience the power of the Word. Here's how you can give a gift today. Visit connectwithskip.com slash donate to give a gift. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate or call 800-922-1888.

800-922-1888. Thank you for your generosity. Join us again tomorrow for a message all about how, like the Apostle Paul, you can pray for other believers and encourage them in the Lord. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 07:55:56 / 2023-03-14 08:04:42 / 9

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