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Focus on the Gospel – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
December 27, 2022 11:00 am

Focus on the Gospel – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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December 27, 2022 11:00 am

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Here's Anne Graham Lotz. What I want to ask you, I wonder if, like me, do you need an enlarged heart for the Gospel? Thank you for joining us for Living in the Light with Anne Graham Lotz. Today, Anne will be taking us to Romans chapter 1 for her insightful message titled Focus on the Gospel. She will be revealing the three unique and important characteristics of needing a large heart for the Gospel. This is a heart she has long yearned for and wants you to as well.

So take a listen. Here now is Anne with today's message. 9-11, we all can tell you where we were. I was at home, and my daughter called, turned on the TV, and time to see the first plane in the trade tower, and then the second plane, I watched it hit, and then the first tower imploded, and the second, and I remember putting my hand over my face and wanting to cry out, like, no, God, no, you know, you want to stop it. Because I knew I was watching on my television screen people stepping into eternity, and I wondered, are they stepping into eternity but they're not ready to meet God? And are they not ready to meet God because people like me haven't shared the Gospel with them? So the impact of 9-11 on me was that I fell on my knees and made a recommitment to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then we fast-forward to Afghanistan, and you've seen the pictures coming out of Afghanistan, and one picture that's almost as indelibly impressed on my mind as the trade tower is coming down was that picture of the hundreds of people running across the tarmac, clinging to the evacuation plan, climbing into the wheel wells when the plane took off, the people were dropping down to their deaths, and I thought, that's a picture of people desperate to be saved. And then it's like the Spirit just whispered, and there are people all over the world who are desperate to be saved, not just physical salvation but spiritual salvation. So I got on my knees again and I recommitted my recommitment to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Years ago, I was teaching my Bible class, I wasn't traveling, I wasn't on the road, so I wasn't out there, you know.

I got a call from a missions organization, a great one actually, International, and they asked me if I would give the keynote address at their annual convention, and it was such a random invitation. I asked them, why did you ask me? And they said, well, we know you have a heart for the Gospel. And when I hung up the phone, I thought about that, they don't know me, why don't they say I have a heart for the Gospel?

And then I thought, you know, it's because I'm Billy Graham's daughter. And that put me on my knees, and so I asked the Lord to show me if I had a heart for the Gospel. And what he showed me is that, yes, I had a heart for the Gospel, but it was too small. And so I prayed that he would enlarge my heart for the Gospel. And I believe he's answered that prayer to the point that now when the secular press tries to describe me, they describe me as an evangelist, and I'm not.

I've asked the Lord to give me that gift, but he's withheld it from me. But I think what they're saying is the answer to that prayer, that God has given me an enlarged heart for the Gospel. So what I want to ask you, I wonder if, like me, do you need an enlarged heart for the Gospel? So if you have your Bible on your phone, your tablet, you have a hard copy like I do, Romans chapter 1, the first 17 verses is the text for this message. And there are three characteristics of a heart for the Gospel that I see in this text.

And I'll take them one by one, but I'll give them to you. A heart for the Gospel is conscious of God's call, convinced of God's compassion, confident in God's cross. So first of all, a heart for the Gospel is conscious of God's call. Four times in the first seven verses, Paul refers to calling. And he says in verse 1, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle.

And he describes himself as a servant, which is a beautiful picture, because a servant is someone who is obedient to his master's voice and attentive to his master's every desire and submissive to his master's will, doing his master's work. It's a beautiful picture of being called to Jesus. And verse 6 says, you also are called. And our first calling, can I just lay it down?

Our first calling is to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, to put our faith in Him, to serve Him, to obey Him, to love Him, to get to know Him, to bring Him glory. Years ago, I went through an Isaiah 6 experience where for seven days, God just raked me through the coals, you know, convicted me of sin after sin after sin in my life. I didn't know I had, and I was in ministry. And when He finished and He let me know He was finished, I felt just wiped out, spiritually depleted, but I also had this huge sense of unworthiness.

How can I go back into ministry when I've just gone through this experience? So I asked the Lord for a recall. And He took me to 1 Corinthians 1, 9, and I put my name in it. So, Ann, you're called to fellowship with Jesus Christ.

And I thought, you know, I can do that. I love to spend time with Him. I love to hear His voice. I want to be obedient to His word. I want to be surrendered to His will. And I knew my first calling was to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So let's just make that clear. But we're called to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of making Him known, for sharing the gospel. And Paul says in verse 1, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, set apart for the gospel of God. He knew what his mission was. It was to present the gospel.

And if you gave Paul a chance, he'd tell you his testimony. I know you know it, but Pharisee of the Pharisees, zealous for the law, and was right there when Stephen was stoned at holding the cloaks of those who were stoning him. And then he was so enraged and so filled with zeal and what he felt like was protection of God's holiness in his name that he went out and he began to persecute Christians. He dragged them out of their homes.

He put them in prison. And then you heard there were some Christians up in Damascus. He got the letters from the authorities to go up to Damascus and arrest the Christians there.

And on the Damascus road, there's a brilliant white light. And you heard a voice out of heaven saying, and this is Acts 26, Saul, and you know Saul as Paul before conversion, same guy. Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Then I asked, who are you, Lord? I am Jesus whom you're persecuting, the Lord replied.

Now get up, stand on your feet. I have appeared you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness. So look at that last phrase, to appoint you as a servant, called to Jesus first, right? And then as a witness for the purpose of sharing the gospel and making him known.

So this is my point. The moment Paul was converted, he was called. Are you converted? Then you've been called. Story of the old missionary who came home on furlough and he was standing in front of the congregation that had sent him out and supported him. And he was giving a report on what he'd been doing. And then he said, you know, I've never been called to share the gospel. There's this collective gasp that goes up, and what have we been supporting you for, you know? And then he said, I haven't been called, just commanded like the rest of you.

And I think a call of God becomes a command when we hear the call with our name on it. It happened for me in 1974. My husband and I went to Lausanne, Switzerland for the International Congress on World Evangelism. And we heard speaker after speaker after speaker.

It was a great Congress. And we came home and my reaction was, you know, that was a lot of money, a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of organization put into something that would not be necessary, at least in the United States, if people like me were sharing the gospel with our neighbors. And I had never shared the gospel with my neighbors. So before I lost my nerve, I picked up the phone.

I called my neighbors. I invited them for coffee. They came into the house and we talked about nothing for an hour because I was just trying to work up nerve to share the gospel.

And finally, I didn't even make a transition. I just blurted out why I asked them to my house for coffee and shared the gospel. And one of them got up and hit the door. She just ran out of the house. And the others started talking about baptism in the churches they went to and, you know, all that.

And I just made such a mess of it. But can I tell you within two years, every single one of my neighbors came to faith in Jesus Christ. Two of them went on to become Christian leaders in the community. So when have you heard God's call with your name on it? It becomes a command to go into all the world, a world between your own two feet, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. So are you conscious of God's call? Paul was conscious of God's call. He knew what his mission was. It was to share the gospel. He knew what his message was.

Oh, let's be clear. Verse one, verse two, verse nine, verse 15, verse 16, verse 17 is God's gospel. That's the message. And he promised it. He said in verse two, the gospel he promised beforehand. You remember back in Genesis 3 15, I'm going to send the seed of a woman who will crush the serpent's head, bring you back under a right relationship with your Creator.

That's my paraphrase. And then all the way through the Old Testament, I'm going to send a prophet like you, he said to Moses, who will deliver you not from slavery, but from sin, and go on. You have Isaiah 53, that incredible passage that by his stripes we would be healed. And oh, it was promised in the Old Testament through the prophets. Jeremiah 31 31. This is an interesting one to share with Jews when God said, I'm going to give you a new covenant.

And Jesus, the night he was betrayed, he took the cup representing his blood. He said, this is the blood of the new covenant God promised through Jeremiah. So our message is the gospel.

And he promised it in verse two, provided it through his son in verse three, and then he proved it when he raised Jesus from the dead in verse four. So our message is not politics, it's not programs, it's not philosophy, it's not prosperity, it's not equity, it's not equality, because listen to me, you can solve a racial problem, you can eliminate nuclear weapons, you can reverse global warming, you can feed the hungry and house the homeless and clothe the naked and eliminate abortion on demand and redistribute wealth so the rich aren't so rich and the poor aren't so poor, and listen to me, they will all go to hell. Can I just tell you? Our message is the gospel of Jesus Christ. So what is the gospel? Wish I had time to go into it in depth, but you know it.

I hope we never get over the wonder of it. John 3 16, that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him would not perish, you would not go to hell, but you would have everlasting life. And Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one, oh listen to me, no one, no Jew, no Gentile, no Baptist, no Buddhist, no Methodist, no Muslim, no one, no agnostic, no atheist, no theologian, no one will come to the Father except they come through me. Acts 4 12, there's no other name given under heaven among men where you can be saved, just the name Jesus. So in our cancel culture, in this woke society in which we're living, you and I have to be guarded against compromising, watering down the gospel of Jesus Christ, not wanting to offend people, we want to be tolerant, we want to be inclusive to the point that we have to be careful that we're not speaking the truth boldly.

So don't let the enemy intimidate you in the silence or even to holding back. We share the gospel with love certainly, with cultural sensitivity, with appreciation for where the other person is coming from, but our message is the gospel. So our heart for the gospel is conscious of God's call to the person of Jesus Christ for the purpose of sharing the gospel, we know the mission is to share the gospel, we know the message is the gospel, okay? Second characteristic, heart for the gospel is convinced of God's compassion.

For God so loved the world, just wrap your mind around that. So if I can give you a big picture, and I'll use a baseball game, and simplistic I guess, but it's the truth, right? So when a batter gets up to bat at the baseball game, the pitcher throws in the ball and he swings the bat if he misses, that's strike one, okay? And then he gets a second chance, so the batter gets up to the plate and the pitcher throws in the ball, he swings the bat, he misses the second time, that's strike two. So he gets a third chance, and the pitcher throws in the ball, he swings the bat, he misses, that's strike three.

And I know there are other factors in there, but three strikes and you're out, right? So let me apply that to Genesis 1 to 11. The world of humanity represented by Adam and Eve were created to know God, to fellowship with God, to enjoy God, to serve with God, and the world of humanity represented by Adam and Eve said, we don't want what God wants, we want what we want more than what he wants, and they disobeyed God.

That was strike one, and he removed him from the garden. So God gave him a second chance in Genesis chapter six. And in Genesis chapter six, God announced to the whole world, I'm going to send judgment on the whole world because your thoughts and words are only evil all the time, but nobody paid any attention, it was like nobody was listening. Except one man, Noah, who was, and God saved the human race through Noah, but the world of humanity was destroyed in that flood, that was strike two. So then we come to the third strike, and in Genesis 10 and 11 we have the tower of Babel, the world of humanity, gathered at the plain of Shinar, building a tower that would reach to heaven, in essence saying, we're not going to come to God the way he said, we can work our own way into heaven, we can build our own religious system, we can come through our own good works, our own philosophies, and that was strike three. And God confused their languages, scattered them out all over the world, and where they still are today, by the way.

The descendants of those who are in such rebellion, defiance, disobedience of the tower of Babel are everywhere in their rebellion, defiance, and disobedience against God. But God so loved the world that he reached down, and he picked up Abraham, and he worked through Abraham and his family to give us what we know as our Old Testament, to give us the laws and the ceremonies and the sacrifices to teach us that we're sinners, that the law we could never keep, that we needed a Savior. And then John the Baptist is standing beside the Jordan River, and he sees Jesus of Nazareth walking by, and he says, look, there goes the Lamb of God who's going to take away the sin of the world, and the world was back in the game. So are you convinced that God loves the whole world? Jews and Gentiles, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, Iranians, Iraqis, the Taliban, the Afghans, Africans, the Russians, Americans, Europeans, Asians, God loves the whole world. You know, God loves Israel's neighbors as much as God loves Israel, but his purpose for them is different, okay? God sent his son to die for them, every bit as much as he sent his son to die for you and for me and for any Jew that's ever existed.

So are you convinced that God loves the whole world? Verse seven, Paul says to all who are in Rome who are loved by God, and Rome was the world. So Rome was outside of the descendants of Abraham. I'm assuming that after Pentecost, somebody that was there who was saved went to Rome, found that a church because there were people in that Roman church who came to Christ before Paul came to Christ, and that Roman church represented the world. And so Paul is writing to the Roman church and he was informed about what was going on in there. He said verses seven and eight, first I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is reported all over the world. Paul heard the reports. He knew what was going on. He was informed of what was happening in the Christian community.

Are you? And thank the Lord for services that keep us informed as to what's taking place in the community outside our Bible study, outside of our church, outside of our community. We want to know what's going on in the world.

So how informed are you? I suggest you download the Christian Broadcasting Network's app, the news app, so you can just check the news. I think the best Christian magazine that informs you about what's going on in the world is Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's magazine decision.

And just make sure that you're informed, not just about your little niche, you know, but the world at large. The reason for that is because when we're informed it leads us to intercede. And Paul says in verses nine to ten, God whom I serve with my whole heart and preaching the gospel of his son is my witness. How constantly I remember you in my prayer at all times. He prayed for the Roman church and he prayed for them because of the information he had received. So who do you pray for? If you're convinced of God's compassion that he loves the whole world, then you'll be informed about what's going on and that leads you to intercede.

And then you get involved. Paul is writing this letter, he's planning a visit, and I think that's one of the wonderful things about networking because you can learn opportunities to get involved, but just something strikes your heart and quickens you and get involved. Because Paul as Paul said, he was indebted. Verse 14, I'm obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and to the foolish. So Paul had been part of that rebellious humanity, defying God. He thought he was, you know, protecting God's name and all that, but actually he was defying him and coming against him and Jesus said, you're persecuting me. And so then Paul, when he was saved by God's grace, not by his works, not by being a Pharisee of the Pharisees and a tribe of Benjamin and keeping the law and, you know, all that kind of stuff, but he was simply saved by God's grace.

He was so grateful for the grace of God in his life. He felt indebted to go back to that world of humanity and tell them how they could be saved. So do you feel that indebtedness to other people? And not only indebtedness to the world of humanity, but indebtedness to the Jew. I'm a Gentile woman. Without the Jews, I would not have my Bible. Without the Jews, I would not have my Savior.

Oh my goodness, that's a huge debt of love to repay, whether they know I owe them or not. You know, we're obligated. We're the branch that's been grafted in, aren't we? We should never forget who we are, whose we are, and the debt that we owe the Jewish people. So Paul was informed so that he could intercede and get involved because he was indebted. Indebted to the Jew, indebted to humanity, indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ who had saved him by his grace.

Oh my goodness, we can't pay off that debt, can we? But we can lay down our lives. One life would not be enough to just pay Jesus back for all that he's done for us. So we live our lives abandoned to him. So if you're going to have a heart for the gospel, conscious of God's call, convinced of God's compassion, so much so that you're informed, you intercede, you get involved because you're indebted. And lastly, you're confident in God's cross. The same power that brought forth everything into existence that had no existence in creation, the same power that brought his children out of Egypt, out of slavery with a strong powerful hand, and then the same power that opened up the Red Sea so that they could cross over on dry ground, the same power that rolled back the Jordan River so they could cross into the Promised Land, the same power that brought down the walls of Jericho, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the same power that transformed Saul of Tarsus into Paul the Apostle, that same power is available today. It has not been depleted, diluted. There is power in the cross of Jesus Christ.

Oh yes, there is. Verse 16, I'm not ashamed of the gospel because it's the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. The Apostle Paul was so faithful, wasn't he, to take the gospel first to the Jew every town he went. He went to the synagogue first.

When they ran him out, then he went to the Gentile. So are you confident that there's power in the cross of Jesus Christ to transform lives today, Gentile or Jew? You've been listening to Living in the Light, and when you go to, there are free resources to help you in your study of God's Word. Anne's desire is that you embrace a God-filled life, step by step, choice by choice, living in the light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-27 12:10:18 / 2022-12-27 12:19:35 / 9

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