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Jesus Skeptic - Jesus and Freedom for the People You Love, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
July 19, 2022 6:00 am

Jesus Skeptic - Jesus and Freedom for the People You Love, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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July 19, 2022 6:00 am

Many parents today, are deeply concerned about the hostile world their kids are growing up in. In this program, our guest teacher John Dickerson shares some hope for moms and dads, as he continues his series – “Jesus Skeptic”. Don’t miss the ways parents can set their children up to make wise choices, good friends, and avoid the prevalent problems all around us.

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If you're a parent, you're very concerned about the world your child is growing up in. It's hostile. It's dangerous.

How can you set them up to make wise choices, make good friends, and avoid the addictions and the problems that are so prevalent all around us? That's today. You don't want to miss it, parents. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Druey, and Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. In just a minute, we'll continue our new series, Jesus Skeptic, from our guest teacher, John Dickerson.

He's an award-winning investigative journalist and lead pastor at Connection Point Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Before we get started, let me encourage you to use our message notes while you listen. They'll help you get the most out of what you're about to hear from John. You can download them under the broadcasts tab at

App listeners, tap fill in notes. Well, let's join John now for his message, Jesus and freedom for the people you love. When I was an investigative reporter, one of the first big investigations I had to do was on heroin addiction in Phoenix. And I profiled this young 19-year-old girl named Mickey who was down to about 90 pounds. She was so addicted to heroin, it was destroying her body. And as I looked into Mickey's story, one of the unique things about it is that she wasn't born in the slums or in poverty. Her parents were attorneys. She went to Disneyland as a kid.

She had the perfect little girl bedroom with stuffed animals all around. And when we think about this question, what can you do to set the people you love up for a life that they live free from addiction, free hopefully from divorce, free from as much pain and suffering as possible? It's important that they have a good education, yes.

Playing youth sports, that can be good, yes. Mickey did all those things. And at one high school party when she decided to smoke a little marijuana, it led to her then trying cocaine and then trying meth and then trying heroin and ending up living in a drug house at age 19.

How do you prevent that kind of thing? In a world where there's so many things that our kids are exposed to, division and hatred and so many things that are designed to addict them, how do we set them up for freedom? We can't control their choices, but how can we set them up to make good choices? Well, Jesus speaks about this in John chapter eight. He speaks about freedom. And as we've learned in this series, when Jesus speaks, he's not speaking as a guru or a self-help coach or even a great spiritual teacher. He claims to be almighty God. And so in this series we've documented, yes, he lived.

Yes, we know what he said. It's recorded in the gospel accounts. Yes, his birthday is the zero of our calendar and he's impacted humanity. He has more followers than anyone else ever in the history of the world. But the real power of Jesus is in his words. And within these claims to be God, we each have to look at these and say, was this guy actually God on earth as he claimed or is he some weird lunatic? Because just good people who are helpful moral examples don't claim that they're God.

They don't claim that they're gonna return and judge every single person for how they live their life. But Jesus made these audacious claims. And it's within that context that Jesus said things like this in John chapter eight. He said, if you hold to my teaching, then you're really my disciples. So your salvation begins when you believe that he died on the cross for you. But being a disciple means you're continually reading the teachings of Jesus and you're continually looking at your life and saying, am I doing what Jesus said?

Now, none of us do this perfectly, but it's about trajectory. Is there an effort to simply obey the words of Jesus in your life? If so, then he gives this promise. He says, then you will know the truth, not a truth, not one of many ways, but the truth, God's truth. And then this well-known phrase that even if this is your first time in church, you've heard this phrase before and the truth will set you free. The truth setting you free is dependent on the first part, do you hold to Jesus teachings? Are you striving to do what he says in your life?

In other words, Jesus is making this radical claim. He claims to give unrivaled freedom to those who follow his teaching. And most of the other freedoms in our lives were kind of recipients of, we've been born into a country where we have a lot of freedom.

Most of us didn't personally achieve that. But the kind of freedom Jesus talks about is freedom from death that you have eternal life. Freedom from sin, from any kind of addiction or habit or pattern that makes your life smaller. Freedom in family systems. When there are things like alcoholism or abuse or co-dependence or insecurity that get passed down from generation to generation, Jesus claims he can break that in your family.

He can change that. This is a radical claim. And in our series, we've been seeing that followers of Jesus in history have been at the leading edge of setting other people free. Those who gave their lives to turn the conscience of countries against slavery, we saw from their writings, they were followers of Jesus.

And all that is documented, it's not opinion. But I want to show you today, while we'll look at a little bit of history, I want to show you what this looks like right now, right here. We're a bunch of people who've taken Jesus up on this promise that if we do what he says, he'll set us free. And we've found it to be true.

Zach and Lindsay are two of those. I want you to go ahead and see their story. When we first met each other, it was just like a friendship. It was about getting high. It was about having sex.

It was about using one another. I had gone through a DCS case. My house caught on fire. I ended up signing over custody to my parents for my two oldest children. And at that point, I started using meth. I went to prison a few times.

And then every time I got out, I would try to be good, do what I could. But I became homeless after my mom got diagnosed with cancer. And she ended up having to leave the house that I was raised in. So after that, I didn't have nowhere to go. And then I ended up in a homeless shelter.

I would keep going out trying to just say I was going to use one or two, three times. And then eventually, it led down the bad roads. Then we got married. We got married high at the courthouse in our hometown. And my parents encouraged us to go get help at a detox center in our hometown.

It didn't help us any at all. When I picked her up from the rehab, I had heroin on me and basically threw it in her face again. We ended up getting out and going to live with the man that we met in the detox center, where he would let us spend his money, drink, and get high there.

But when we got kicked out of that house, we didn't have nowhere to go. So we went and sat at the Walmart. So with the heroin and the meth, you know, I finally got to the point to where I realized that it was going to lead me to prison again for the rest of my life or dead. At the time, I wish I was trying to find drugs, you know, just to be able to end my life and not wanting to live. And I just felt like giving up. I tried to get on Facebook and just try to call and try to reach out to anybody that I could. We were sitting there on our phone and Zach just looked at me and we didn't know what to do.

He's like, what are we going to do, Lindsay? Nobody that we were messaging was able to help us. It was like God was letting us know.

These aren't the people that I want you to go and get help from. I sent a message to a guy I know that was in my childhood and he reached out to me and he said he could come pick us up. And then I mentioned Trinity Life Ministries and he knew about that. So I went to the Trinity office there and I had an interview with him. And then he asked me when I wanted to enter the program and I told him the same day.

I actually had to wait a month before I could get into Through the Gate. So our Christian friends allowed me to live there a month. Also, while I was able to visit with my children and they were able to come spend the night with me, just all these open doors that God opened for us.

My mentor, Tim Moser was his name and he was there through everything. Just knowing that my husband has this really good relationship with a Godly man is wonderful. It's great.

I support it all the way. When Tim was mentoring me, he invited me to a service. So I came to the first service and then after that I made that commitment that this was going to be my home church. I really like this church and I've come to love this church now. I have come to love the fact that my husband stood and stood firm into wanting this to be our home church and I love it now. I love committing every Sunday coming here. Because of everything that we've been through, I just felt like I was being led to commit and to make the decision to basically share some PDA for Jesus. It was just so great to be able to have this good, good memory of my husband baptizing me because of everything that Jesus has done.

It's just really, it's a home here. Being a part of this church and all the people that we've met along the way since we decided to start living for Christ, it's so amazing. My life has changed tremendously from being homeless to being a drug addict to now being able to be there for my kids and my family and be a Godly man and lead my family and my wife.

I would say that our lives have completely took a 180 turn. We're being reconciled with family members. We're able to be examples to others who could be out there right now using and seeing our story. We're doing it all for the glory of God and the only reason that we're able to keep moving forward is because of Jesus.

Our oldest children come visit us every other weekend. We're able to show them what Jesus has done in our lives because our oldest children saw us in our darkness and now they see us in the light because of Jesus. He just baptized his son and now his son's mother and her husband want to get baptized and it's great. There are so many open doors here and now we're finding just like Tim and Lisa have been able to lead us in different ways to Jesus, like now we're seeing fruit by some people from our past that are now being led to Jesus because we brought them, we were able to bring them here to Connection Point. It's never too late to surrender your life to the Lord.

There is no hopeless cause. It's all in a matter of desiring to do good, desiring a better life and the answer is Jesus. Give God the glory for that transformation. Those the sun sets free are free indeed. There were things I saw as a journalist that I thought people could never get free from that kind of addiction and now as a pastor I see Jesus doing it. I see him setting people free not only from addiction but also from insecurity, from never feeling like they could do enough to be accepted, from never feeling like they're good enough, set free from shame, set free from greed, set free from guilt, set free from brokenness. Those the sun sets free are free indeed and you're just sitting in a room full of people who are broken and imperfect but who have found in Jesus that when we hold to his teaching, not perfectly but consistently, then we come to know the truth and it does set us free.

It changes our emotions, it changes what we see when we look in the mirror, it changes how we treat the people around us. Those the sun sets free are free indeed. I tried to make it through that video without crying because I know exactly where Zach and Lindsay sit and I'm sitting there watching them through the video.

How are they now? They're here every weekend. The point of this is Jesus. All we are is a place that connects people to the source of life, to the one who not only creates but also redeems and restores and recreates. You see, God's truth obeyed sets people free. God's truth is always available to set you free in your life but whether it will or not depends on will you obey it.

And I hope you've heard from me, you don't have to obey it perfectly, you just have to obey it willfully, intentionally, with some consistency. We all still stumble and fall down. We're a group of imperfect people but what we have in common is when we fall down we've got people around us who pick us up and dust us off and say keep following Jesus, he's the path to freedom. Now this is true for individuals.

This is true for families. So many families in this church and in Jesus' movement over the last 2,000 years where for generations greed or alcoholism or physical abuse or emotional abuse or some other thing was just passed down from generation to generation and that pattern could never be broken until there was a generation that believed in Jesus and held to his teaching and then they knew the truth and it set them free. And what we see when we look back over the last 2,000 years is if you get enough people together who are experiencing that then they start to help other people experience that. And the movement grows and it starts to actually change the society in which they live.

And this might sound like an impossible claim depending on your education background but we looked at primary evidence. What did Harriet Tubman say about Jesus? What did Frederick Douglass say about Jesus? And we found out that the leaders of the movement to end open and legalized slavery not only here in the U.S. but around the world were dedicated followers of Jesus and were motivated by Jesus' teachings. That's according to their writings.

That's not me putting that in their mouths. We saw the same with the top 10 hospitals. We saw that the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts General, those three of the top five are symbolic of the top 200 which have spread healthcare around the world and that each of them had followers of Jesus at their founding. That they were started to care for the poor and to obey Jesus' words where he says, whatever you do for the least of these you've done unto me.

And again all of that was documented. Now very briefly I want to give you a thesis. And the thesis is this, that we live at a time where yes society is imperfect but we've inherited some fruits of freedom, prosperity, even longevity of our lifespan that are unusual in history. So the average lifespan in human history has been 45 years. Now in the U.S. it's about 80 years. That's changed in the last 200 years because of specific advances in healthcare.

Where did those come from? Most people throughout history either were slaves or they lived in a society that had slaves. In the last 200 years that has changed. Who were the people who changed that? Where were they educated?

How did they do it? These are all fruits that we inherit. Even what we assume are our property rights and our human rights and that we can go to a court and hopefully have at least an effort at a just and fair trial, that's unique in history.

Where did all of this come from? And if you think of these as fruit on a tree, the reality is that there were seeds that were planted. And we can trace these through history. We looked at the Reverend Samuel Wright, an African-American gentleman who was born into freedom because of the Quaker Christians long before the Civil War. He gave his life to help end slavery. It was very rare that he knew how to read and write as an African-American before the Civil War.

Why did he know how to read and write? Well it was because of the Quaker Christians. It was them and the Puritan Christians who pretty much instituted what we now call public education that every boy and girl gets taught how to read.

Now over the generations that's been handed on and it's obviously not overtly Christian anymore but that's where it started. And if you were to look at each of these advances, one of the things they all have in common is the university as we know it today. Could you imagine if there were no universities today? One, how terrible would it be to not be able to watch college football? So thank you Christians for founding the university system so we can watch our favorite team get pounded or win.

But so much more than that. Just imagine if right now there were no universities in the United States, the roads that you drove on today to get here wouldn't be like that because there wouldn't be engineers trained to grade and design the road like that. The vehicle you have wouldn't exist. The electricity you have that you can turn on the lights, it wouldn't be there. Without the university you remove that one thing from the last 1,000 years and we're back in the dark ages.

So where did the university system come from? You've been listening to the first part of our guest teacher John Dickerson's message, Jesus and Freedom for the People You Love, from his series Jesus Skeptic. Chip and John will join us here in studio with some additional thoughts and application in just a minute. If someone were to ask you, how do you know Jesus actually lived? Or can we really trust the Bible?

What would you say? In this new series, pastor and journalist John Dickerson answers those questions using evidence from multiple reliable sources and the well-documented impact of Jesus' followers throughout history. John builds a credible case for the Christian faith. Our hope is that this series will help you confidently say Jesus is real, the Bible is true, and I can prove it.

For more information about Jesus Skeptic, go to or the Chip Ingram app, or call 888-333-6003. Well, Chip's joined me in studio now, and before you and John share some final thoughts about today's message, I thought it might be helpful for you to talk about what happens when people support us financially. I mean, when you ask people to partner with us, how are their gifts being used? You know, Dave, what I want you to know is that when you support Living on the Edge, you bring biblical teaching on core issues that at times is not politically correct, but is at the core of what brings about real life change and families that are stable and honor God. What I'd ask you to do is, would you be willing to partner with us as we create these small group resources, as we put them on the app, as we pay for radio time, as we try to help families be all God wants them to be?

It requires an enormous amount of time and energy and financial support. And so, if you have never given to Living on the Edge, now would be a great time to say, you know, I want to help them reach families. Or if you're a regular giver to Living on the Edge, first let me say thank you, and then let me ask you this, would you be willing to become a monthly partner?

You know, there's nothing quite like having people that you know that you can count on each and every month. The amount is immaterial, whether it's $10, $50, $100. God uses every single gift. If you would pray and just give whatever He shows you, we will be grateful and we'll invest 100% of it right back into the ministry. Thanks so much for whatever He leads you to do.

Thanks, Chip. Well, if joining the Living on the Edge team has an idea that makes sense to you, let me encourage you to become a monthly partner. Just go to and tap the donate button. With just a few clicks, you can set up a recurring donation and help others benefit from this ministry. Or if it's easier, just give us a call at 888-333-6003. And that's 888-333-6003 to learn how you can become a monthly partner with Living on the Edge.

App listeners, tap donate. Well, Chip, let's get to that application we promised from you and John. Thanks, Dave. Well, John, I want you to know that today's message really resonated with me.

These messages are really impactful and I appreciate you sharing them with us. I wanted you, if you could, to elaborate on a point that you made in today's talk. You said, Jesus' offer of true freedom is unrivaled in human history.

Could you tease that out for us a little bit? Why is the freedom that Jesus offers so much better than what we can find anywhere else? Yeah, that's a great question, Chip. Why is the freedom that Jesus offers better than any other freedom?

I think of a few reasons. The first is it actually is free. Most of the other things that say they're free require a great cost, a great price. In the case of what Jesus offers, that cost has been paid by Him on the cross.

That price has been paid. So every other religion, every other self-help system is exactly that. We're looking for freedom, but then the weight is on us to deliver. What Jesus offers, the weight is on Him.

All we have to do is be humble enough to receive it. Another reason that I'd say that Jesus' freedom is better than the so-called freedom you could find anywhere else is it's transformative. That is, Jesus offers you a heart transplant. He offers you transformation from the inside out that changes you from the inside out. Every other form of freedom is something that we try to get from the outside in, but Jesus offers us a freedom when we'll humble ourselves before Him and receive Him as our Lord and our Savior, a freedom that then comes from the inside out. You know, Chip, I'm actually thinking now of a third reason that Jesus' freedom is so kind of undeniably better, and it's this.

Jesus started the largest movement in all of human history, and here's what I mean by that. If you're looking for a product that works, you look at the online reviews. How many five-star reviews are there? Is there a hundred?

Man, there's 14,000 reviews. Jesus has more than two billion followers today in the world. That's one out of three people in the world says, I've found something in Jesus that I couldn't find anywhere else. It's more than any other movement or anything else. And so that was part of my journey as a skeptic is realizing, oh my goodness, there must be something here because more people follow this guy than anyone else. And the last reason I'm thinking of here, Chip, you know, it's free. It's transformative.

It clearly works because two billion people say it does. But the most important one is eternal life and forgiveness of sins. The freedom that Jesus offers you is freedom from the fear of death and freedom from the slavery of sin.

We all have bad habits or things we do that hurt us and the people around us. Jesus can truly set you free from that. You don't have to pay money for it or do good deeds. You simply receive by believing. And the same is true of eternal life, that you don't have to live in fear of death. If you receive Jesus as your savior and you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven, then you know that when you breathe your last breath on earth, you'll awake in the very presence of God.

That's pretty great freedom. Thanks, Jon. As we close, a great way to get plugged in with our resources here at Living on the Edge is through the Chip Ingram app. There you can listen to past series, sign up for daily discipleship and much more. Let us help you experience God in a new personal way, starting today with the Chip Ingram app. Well, join us next time as our guest teacher, Jon Dickerson, wraps up his new series, Jesus Skeptic. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 15:20:14 / 2023-03-22 15:30:14 / 10

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