Hey, friend, do you realize the Book of Romans was used by God to change the lives of men like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and history itself?
It can absolutely change your life. Join with us as we go through the Book of Romans. I've committed my life to teaching the Bible to people like yourself. I want to help you understand the Bible, to equip you to deal with life, and help you to find that abundant life that Jesus offers us. So join us now as together we cross the bridge.
Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David Magee. David is the senior pastor of the bridge near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Let's join Pastor David in the service as he continues in the Book of Romans chapter 6. Look at verse 22. But now having been set free from sin and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit of holiness and the end everlasting life. Slaves of God.
I totally reject spectator Christianity. And if you're here today and you're not engaged in ministry, you need to understand something. I love you enough to encourage you towards doing that because that's where you're going to find a lot of the joy and the fulfillment and peace and purpose and all these things that are promised into God from the Word. And the Bible talks about stirring up one another to good works.
Do you know the Greek word, there's another way to translate it in English? Agitate. You need to understand something. I love you enough that if I need to agitate you into serving God, I'm willing to do that. Now some of you are going, obviously you're willing to do that. I'm already agitated with you. First time I've been here, I'm already agitated at you.
You know what? I love you enough to do that because I know that if you take those baby steps, if I can push you or pull you or agitate you into taking those baby steps, you're going to find out what I'm saying, what the Bible's saying is absolutely true. But if you're there on the start line, you're not going to find it. While all these things are swirling around us, there's no time to be hanging out on the start line. It's time to get involved.
Most churches, and we've talked about this before, but most churches have about five to eight percent of the people are actively engaged in ministry in the church. I think that's horrible. That's the standard average. I don't know why that is.
To me, that's unacceptable. Understand, you say, well, where do you get this? It's all in the Bible. Actually, it talks about the fivefold ministry in Ephesians chapter four, and it talks about my responsibility as pastor teacher. You know what my responsibility is? To equip you to do the works of the ministry. Now how we've gotten that backwards, because most churches say, well, pastor, pastor is supposed to do the work of the ministry, not according to the Bible. We're supposed to do the work of the ministry. Could you imagine if I was trying to do the work of the ministry in this place now?
It would be such a flop and a failure. Y'all hang on. Somebody's pulling out a parking lot. I got to go. I got to go help them park, and I'll run in and greet them, and I'll go serve them coffee in the cafe, and then I'll go take their children.
No, no, no. As we join together, it happens. We do the work of the ministry. You're equipped. You're fed the word of God. You're equipped. You're challenged to do the work of the ministry, and when it works, the body works together. It works beautifully.
So in this church, we have over 50 percent of the people that attend this church are actively engaged in ministry. That's awesome. You guys rock.
Let me clap for y'all. Thank you. I am convinced that each person wants to make a difference. Each person wants to see themselves as people of influence. I've never talked to anybody that said, well, what are you doing with life? Well, I'm just trying to run to the grave as fast as I can and try to not make any difference while I'm on the way. I've never heard anybody say that, but the question is, are you willing to do the things that will make a difference?
Are you willing to yield to the Spirit to do these things? Christianity is not just getting your ticket to heaven. It's not just, okay, I'm going to do my own thing and live my own life, and then I got my ticket to heaven. Jesus is talking about how to live life now.
As a matter of fact, it's interesting. Life is mentioned in the Bible over 520 times. Live is mentioned in the Bible over 280 times.
And you know what? The sinful life is not the abundant life. That's not the blessed life. It's interesting. So many people, they toll and they do all this stuff so they can be blessed.
And you know what? They don't end up blessed. You come to God and God will bless you. Why? Because he's a blessing God. Jesus wants to teach us how to live. Not tomorrow, not next week.
I'm talking about right now. And we make a decision. You'll make a decision in the next few minutes, friend, of whether you're going to follow Jesus and listen to what he's saying or to say, you know what?
I'm going, I'm doing my own thing. Jesus talks about life. John 3 15 says that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 5 24 most assuredly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who has sent me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 11 25 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life he who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. John 10 10 the thief does not come except to steal, to kill and to destroy. And I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.
There it is. There's the enemy of your soul who wants to kill, steal, destroy, rip you off. And he's having his way with some of you.
And then here's God, here's Jesus saying, I want to give you the abundant life. And even now there's a battle going on because you know, in a few moments, whenever the Lord leads me to close, I'm going to close. And some of you are engaged in the struggle. Some of you already know I'm going to invite people to come forward and you're already trying to work through your head. I don't want to do that. I want to do it.
I don't want to do it. There's a battle going on right now for each and every one of you. And you have a decision.
A lot of times in church service, we, we, you know, we act like, well, if you don't know Jesus, hadn't been born again, you're a non-believer and unbeliever. You have a decision to make. The reality is every person listening right now has a decision to make.
That's the reality. Three words here, favor, freedom, fruit. I've talked about serving God, but, but understand if you don't know him as your savior, he's not interested in you serving him right now. He wants your heart.
He wants you to come to him. And when you come to Jesus and ask him to forgive you of your sins, based upon what he did on the cross, saying, Jesus, I'm sorry for my sins. I turned from all this stuff and I turned to you and I want to follow you. You have God's favor.
Everything is dealt with in the past. You have been forgiven and you will find freedom as you yield to the spirit. And as you yield to the spirit in that freedom, you will find yourself bearing fruit. It just, it's what happens. You don't have to sit there and try to bear fruit on your own. No, when you're grafted into the vine, you bear fruit. That's what happens naturally. Fruit trees bear fruit. Why? Because they're fruit trees. Not because they struggle so hard.
It's what they are. As you follow the Lord, guess what? You'll bear fruit.
Why? Because that's what happens when you follow the Lord. Ah, but the world comes and says, Oh no, no, no, no. You don't get freedom by going to church or Bible study. You don't get freedom by following the Lord.
No, no, no. You don't get freedom that way. You get freedom by, by doing your own thing.
A lot of people in time have thought that as a matter of fact, we have one example of that in the Bible. The man thought he was getting freedom. It goes by the name of the prodigal son. Freedom was not what he got. Oh, he thought he was getting away from dad and going to go do his own thing and he was going to find freedom in that boy. As long as the money lasted, he had a great time, a lot of freedom.
But to tell you what, when the money ran out, so did the friends. Some of you are prodigals and you're running just as hard as you can away from God and it's time to run to God, not away from Him, because you already know freedom is not what you're finding. Start 2012 off right with the new daily devotional book from David McGee, Cross the Bridge Every Day. Pick up for yourself what has already helped thousands. Cross the Bridge Every Day features 365 daily devotionals that are sure to make everyday life a God-sized adventure. This book is perfect for your quiet time, lunch break, evening wind down, or can even be used as a small group resource. With a handy subject index, you can look up various topics on your life's unique circumstances to help encourage you to live every day for Jesus. Cross the Bridge Every Day is available for a donation of $25 or more to Cross the Bridge Ministries. To order, simply go online to crossthebridge.com or call our friendly representatives at 877-458-5508.
That's 877-458-5508. Cross the Bridge Every Day with David McGee and find hope along life's journey. Now let's return to our study. Final verse, 23. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The wages of sin is death. Some people try to work their way into heaven. The Bible says you can't do it. The Bible says that you can only be saved and gain entrance into heaven through grace. The only place you can work yourself into is you can work yourself into hell, no doubt about that, but not into heaven. Now I've heard people say, well, the wages of sin is death and the Bible does talk about hell and how could a loving God send anybody to hell? God will not send anybody to hell.
People will choose it. Jesus has done so much. He's gone to the gates of hell itself and put do not enter signs all over it and warns us and warns you and warns people don't do it. And some people have said, no, no, no, I'm choosing. I'm going in there. And Jesus says, you know what?
You can only go in there over my dead body. And yet some people will choose it. I don't understand it bothers me.
It bothers me a lot from there's basically two lines to payday. According to this verse, one leads to heaven. The one other leads to death, eternal separation from God. Does it bother you that some of your family and your friends and your coworkers are in that line? God is stirring my heart right now. And I don't even, I don't know what he's going to require or request me to do or anything. I just know my heart is so stirred right now for those who don't know Jesus. I mean, in a new way, I sat at my desk to be honest, I sat at my desk this past week and I just wept for people that don't know Jesus, not any person in particular, but just knowing there's people out there that don't know it. Does, does that, if you know Jesus, if you're sitting in here, you've been boring. Does that bother you at all? Are you sitting here going, well, I've got my ticket.
I'm okay. If we're following Jesus, it should profoundly bother us. We spend a lot of energy and effort and time and resources to make this a place where you can bring family, friends, coworkers, and they can hear the gospel.
They can hear what the Bible has to say. And we do certain things so that we create that environment from the time they hit the parking lot. Somebody's helping them park to somebody, you know, greeting them. I mean, there's people that come in here that maybe nobody's been happy to see them all week, but a greeter will look at them and smile and say, Hey, I'm glad you're here.
The media team, the cafe, all these things coming together. Are you inviting people to come with you? When's the last time you invited somebody, they did a survey and over 80% of unbelievers would go to church with somebody. If they ask them over 80%, that's four out of five.
Sometimes it takes patient and persistence from tummy. I have to ask more than once, but there's people in your life that are waiting for you to invite them. Maybe they've even wondered why you have it. Maybe they think, well, there's something wrong with me. They're ashamed of me. They don't want me to come to their church. The people that, you know, I can't go up to them and go, Hey, I'd love for you to come to church. They go, who are you? I don't know you, but they'll listen to you.
They'll respond to you. Does it matter to you? You understand Jesus is waiting to come back because there's people that have not come in to the kingdom. That's what second Peter chapter three, nine says that it says the Lord isn't really being slow about his promise to return.
As some people think, no, he's being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish. So he's given more time for everyone to repent. Interesting times we live in Rome founded 750 BC about for timeline. That's about a hundred years after the life of Elijah that we're looking at on Thursday nights, 750 BC found in the city, but somewhere between five and 600 BC, they built the clock as Maximus. It was a, like a sewage thing.
Why is that important? Well, because you can't have a big city without sewage and also allowed them to drain. This is going somewhere, just trust me and, and drain the water around the city so they could build a city. Then about three 12 BC, they started building these roads, roads that like had never existed before in time. And about 200 BC, they built the aqueducts, bringing water into the city. It's an incredible thing. And a hundred AD, if you were in the city of Rome and you were well off, you had running water in your house.
If you're well to do, you probably had hot and cold running water in your house. Why is that important? Because with these roads, with all these things, with the, with the postal service that they put in place, this book, the book of Romans, the letter that Paul wrote to the book of Rome, traveled through the Roman postal service to the city of Rome, arrived at that church from the time of Christ about 200 AD, there was what was called the Pax Romana, the time of Roman peace. Pastor, why are you talking about Roman history all of a sudden? Because this was the place that Paul found himself in this unique convergence of all these things. And it led to the wildfire spread of Christianity because of the roads, because of the Roman government, because of free passage, because of the postal service, all these things combined. And I think where we are, friend, where we are is an incredible place.
Why? Because all these things, the internet, the television, all these things, you can place a YouTube video about Jesus and within hours, hundreds of thousands of people can see it. Does that matter to you? That the vehicles are now in place for millions of people to hear the gospels? We live at a unique time in history. Does that stir your heart in any way?
Are you sitting here going, yeah, that's great. I worked in the music industry and I was shocked to find that some of the people I worked with had gotten so incredibly hard-hearted towards people that they would come out in these large crowds and stuff and they would spit on people, just looking down on them. They've become so hard-hearted. And occasionally I'd say, you know, I don't understand. These people are buying your records.
They're basically paying your salary and you're spitting on them. Now we sit here and we hear that and go, oh, that's so hard-hearted. Yeah. And you know what?
They got there by steps the same way you would get there. Friend, over time, our hearts get hard towards people. And it's especially challenging sometimes in ministry because I have somebody say, you know, I love you and I'm praying for you. And then the, you know, the next week they're saying, you know, you're the son of Satan or something and that can harden your heart.
It can hurt you. And I have to guard my heart and you have to guard your heart and we all need God to soften our hearts towards one another because we get hurt and we want to callous over and we want to act like we don't care. Jesus died for these people.
He endured the cross humiliation and shame. You need to soften your heart. I need to soften my heart. I'm not talking about tomorrow. I'm not talking about next week.
I'm talking about right now. Matter of fact, this is not the closing prayer, but I want to pray right now. Lord, we need you. We get so callous so quickly.
Our hearts get hard from the pain and things that we've suffered. And Lord, we just, it's an option for us to callous over and act like we don't care anymore. And Lord that leads us down a road of being cynical and bitter. God, we don't want to go there.
We don't want to end up there. And Lord, I ask in the name of Jesus, according to the power of your Holy Spirit, that you interrupt that journey right now that you would soften our hearts in this place today that we would begin to love you more, love each other more and love those who don't yet know you in Jesus name. Share a couple more verses and we're going to close Ephesians four 17 says with the Lord's authority.
Let me say this. Live no longer as the ungodly do for they are hopelessly confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness. They are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. Proverbs 28 14 says, happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
Another version reads like this. Blessed are those who have a tender conscience, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. Mark eight 17, but Jesus being aware of it said to them, why do you reason?
Because you have no bread. Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? We're hearing this about hardened hearts and we're going, Oh, I'm so glad you're saying that because you know, the person beside me, my spouse, my children, they really need to hear this because they really have a hardened heart.
No, this is for you. This is for each one of us because the world is a hard place and over time what happens? We get hard hearts. We live in a hard world, but we don't have to live with hard hearts.
Hebrews four seven today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your heart. So there's two paths in front of you in front of each person. You get to choose. God makes this path plane and he lightens it and he says, this is what's going to happen and this is what it is at the end of this, but you get to choose. If you've been on the start line, it's time to get in the race because this final life lesson, you can have regrets or rewards. You get to choose. You can have regrets or rewards. You get to choose.
There are certain things that I know in this life. I know that at one day I will walk off this platform and I'm done. I won't walk back on it. I don't know when that day is. I like to think that it's going to be years from now.
It could be today. And at that moment I'm standing before the Lord. I don't want to be filled with the regrets going, oh, you know what? I should have said this. I should have encouraged them to serve you, Lord.
I should have encouraged them to soften their hearts. No, I don't want regrets at that point because regrets aren't going to do any good at that moment in time, friend. And the battle is going on right now because some of you know that I'm about to give an invitation. Some of you even probably grab in your chair right now going, I don't want to do this. There's a battle going on, friend. There's a decision that needs to be made in your life.
Nobody else can make it. I wish I could make the decision for you, but you know what? The reality is I thought that with my children, I thought, you know, if I can just make decisions for them, you know what? I've made bad decisions. Even if they allowed me to make every decision for them, I would still make bad decisions. Some bad decisions carry a lot of consequences, some not so much. This decision today, choose well, friend.
A lot's riding on this one. If you'll really follow the Lord and be soft-hearted and what matters to God begin to matter to you or just kind of have your ticket to heaven and wander through life and at the end of it be filled with regrets, I don't want that for you. Friend, do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven?
You can know right now. I want to lead you in a short, simple prayer, simply telling God you're sorry and asking Him to help you to live for Him. Please pray this prayer with me out loud right now. Dear Jesus, I believe you died for me, that I could be forgiven. And I believe you were raised from the dead, that I could have a new life. And I've done wrong things. I have sinned.
And I'm sorry. Please forgive me of all those things. Please give me the power to live for you all of my days. In Jesus' name.
Amen. Friend, if you prayed that prayer according to the Bible, you've been forgiven. You've been born again. So congratulations, friend.
You just made the greatest decision that you will ever make. God bless you. If you've prayed this prayer with Pastor David, receiving Jesus Christ for the first time, or rededicating your life to the Lord, please call and let us know. We want to send you our exclusive First Steps package for free. This package will help you grow in your new life. Receive your First Steps package by calling 877-458-5508.
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We'd love to have you join us. For more information and directions, visit aboutthebridge.com. Hi, my name is Pastor David McGee, and I am a bridge builder. You know, across the bridge, we're continually amazed by what God is doing through the teaching of His Word. Every day, we hear from people who are getting saved and who are becoming real disciples of Jesus. These men and women, boys and girls, are crossing the bridge from sin and defeat to abundant eternal life in Jesus Christ.
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