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September 20, 2020 12:00 am
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I want you to take a Bible this morning. I want you to open it with me to ask chapter 17. Acts chapter 17 were to be continuing in our study all that great man of God. The apostle Paul. His life, but so many of us here. I'm sure know the name John Wesley, John Wesley lived between 1703 and 1790, and John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist Church for what you may not know about John Wesley is that he was one of the most passionate open air evangelist in all of church history. Between the years of 1738 and 1790 John Wesley wrote more than 1/4 of a million miles on horseback, going throughout Great Britain doing itinerant preaching. He averaged 5 miles an hour on this horse. He often would fall asleep on his horse and would often fall off and injure himself.
Actually when he fell on the ground.
Wesley would preach several times a day at coal mines town squares open field food markets anywhere you can get a crowd. He preached in the rain, the cold, the wind, the snow, the fog people offered and often interrupted him with shouts, they often interrupted him with screens they threw rocks adding vegetables, adding eggs that in fact is one recorded incident with a killer cat in the audience into pieces adept at adding up on the stage several times in his career during the middle of the sermon angry mobs grabbed him and dragged him off the platform where he was taking them away by his hair, threatening to kill them so we could spot a truck is preaching altogether and Wesley wrote in his journal June 1774. He said today is my 72nd birthday. I was thinking how it is that I still have the same strength I did 30 years ago the chief reasons are number one for 50 years I have arisen at 4 AM every morning.
Number two I generally begin preaching by 5 AM, which is one of the healthiest exercises in the world and number three in God's service.
I never travel less than 4500 miles a year." You know what I think of John Wesley you know I think of I think of the energizer bunny. I mean I think of a guy was just please go in and go in and go in and today we want to look at another man that very aptly could be called the energizer bunny, a fellow named the apostle Paul who had the same grips and the same, tenacity that we see in John Wesley and we want to ask and answer two questions this morning questionable one is exactly what was it that drove these two men to live the way they live to act the way they act, acted, and number two.
We want to ask the question in light of that, what difference does that make for you and me here as followers of Christ in the 21st century.
So let's begin will give you a little bit of background as we start remember the apostle Paul is on his second missionary journey.
He's with his teammates Timothy, Silas, and Dr. Luke in the Cholla maps will show you where they come from. They become on the northwestern corner of modern-day Turkey sailed across the Aegean Sea to Philippi in northern Greece here in Philippi for several weeks. Paul ministered he was able to start a small church there and hearing Philippi's Paul split his team. He left Timothy and Dr. Luke behind in Philippi to work with the church there while he and Silas walked 100 miles to the south down the indignation way the famous Roman road you see in yellow here to the town of Thessalonica here in Thessalonica. Paul spent six months with it in ministry being very successful in leading both Gentiles and Jewish people to Christ. However, as we saw last week, the unbelieving Jewish community in the town of Thessalonica began to develop a seething hatred for the apostle Paul and eventually they succeeded in getting a mob together, and running them out of town. That's what we've been here in acts 17 were asking to turn. Let's look at verse 10 it says as soon as it was night the brothers in Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas away to Berea and, on arriving there.
Paul went into the Jewish synagogue go back to the map and show you the town of Berea. Here it is, is along the nation way as you see, that's about 45 miles from the town of Thessalonica and the small town is where Paul went and he began right away, going to the synagogue which we know was his normal practice were to come back in our next message and talk about what happened in the synagogue.
But what I want you to see is what happened in verse 13 it says here with the unbelieving Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God and Berea, they went there to and they began agitating the crowds and stirring them up against Paul and so the brothers and Berea immediately sent Paul to the coast to go to Athens you understand what's happening here right the Paul's opponents in Thessalonica, the one that ran him out of town hating so much the just running out of Thessalonica.
What good enough they want to run them out everywhere and so these people actually went to 45 miles to the town of Berea got a mom going there and ranting out of town thereto, and you, Paul just kept right on going. In fact, he mentions this whole affair in his letter that he wrote to the church at Thessalonica.
Here's what he said. First Thessalonians to one. Paul says, you know, brothers, you guys in Thessalonica know that our visit to you was not a failure for after we had suffered and been mistreated in Philippi. Now that he suffered in Philippi will remember the beating was brought to tour the flesh right off his back and then they threw him in jail overnight after that happened is you know we have the boldness to speak the word of God to you amid strong opposition from your own countrymen, those very countrymen drove us out of Thessalonica and then they Trying to hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved.
But you remember that when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted and this is exactly what happened that friends. The point of all of this is Paul just kept right on going.
In spite of all the persecution remember so far.
Paul has been abused in the city of Antioch on his first missionary journey. He's at his life threatened and I Coni him on his first missionary journey. He's been stoned and left for deadů Draw on his first missionary journey now in his second journey. He's been unjustly beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, and finally he's been run out of town by mobs in both Thessalonica and Berea and oh by the way, there's a whole lot more. This kind of treatment to come before Paul's career is over. And yet, in spite of all the persecution all the hostility all of the physical abuse in spite of that, just like John Wesley, what are the apostle Paul, do friends he just kept going and going and going.
Now that brings us to the end of the passage we want to look out today, but there is a question we need to ask and I think everybody knows what it is but just in case you don't let me whisper to you what it is. So now that you all know what it is here we go nice and loud ready 123 how right you say lawn. So what's it is wonderful. I love the energizer bunny what differences make for me. Well let me just tell you all my wife and I Brenda we were with another couple. Not long ago and the lady that we were with was three months she was pregnant.
Rather, with her third child and so I was just trying to make conversation with her and I said to her, so you know how long before you do, and she said a couple months in ocelots. Nice. So then just try to make conversation with reservoir your labors hard you know I mean it and she said well they're not really all that hard to just long and then she went ahead and made this comment. She said you know I start out every time stallion.
I can do this without any help I can make it myself. Don't give me an epidural. I can do this and she said that by the time I get to 10, 12, 15 hours on like okay just give me the drugs.
Well I didn't think poorly of this lady for saying that because I just got a tell you if men had to do this.
Labor and delivery thing.
The human race would've been over centuries ago. What men would we do this know we would not ladies take it were telling you the truth, we would not do this. Now you say will loss it was up on all the support of all this is that this lady's comment reminded me of a basic truth of human nature, and that truth is that none of us likes pain and that given the chance to avoid it.
We will now if that's true when it is then how do we explain people like the apostle Paul, how do we explain people like John Wesley. In fact, this is our first question we want answered today why did these men at the way they did.
One of these men keep taking pain.
One of these men keep taking abuse rather than just shutting up and stopping all that pain all I gotta do is shut up. Stop talking about Jesus Christ. So why didn't will print the answer to this question is very simple. The apostle Paul and John Wesley believes something they believe something so completely, so hopefully and so utterly that it drove them to a level of commitment that is rarely seen in our world today and what is this something that they believe what they believe with all of their hard is that apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ. People cannot and will not ever have eternal life.
People cannot and will not ever see the shores of heaven, not friends. This is the sine qua non that without which nothing of biblical Christianity.
That is, this is the absolute conviction that apart from the redemption, God offers people in Jesus Christ. Every human being alive is alienated from God under the judgment of God condemned and headed for a horrible eternity resume on your was interesting you bring that up because I gotta tell you that even as a follower of Christ. I that's I got some real trouble with this Jesus is the only way do you will okay I hear that so you came to the right places. Warnick was working to try to fix that trouble once and for all.
While you're here this morning. What exactly does the Bible say about Jesus being the only way to get eternal life to get to heaven will listen. Jesus said, John 336 whoever believes in the song himself, has eternal life, but whoever rejects the song will not see eternal life but God's wrath remains literally six arrests on that person. Jesus said, John 318. Whoever does not believe in Jesus Christ, stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only son, Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father. Nobody gets eternal life. Nobody gets to heaven except through me nonstop permitted ask a question, could you say it any simpler than that. I mean how how could you say it any plainer than that nobody gets eternal life or gets in heaven unless they get it through me.
This cohort first John chapter 5 verse 11 and this is the record.
John writes that God is given us eternal life in this life is in his son Jesus Christ. He who has this on has eternal life, but he who does not have the son of God does not have eternal life. How much plainer could you say Prince Philippians chapter 4 verse three says that every follower of Jesus Christ and only followers of Jesus Christ have their names written in the book of life and in Revelation chapter 20 says if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire which is why acts 412 says salvation is found in no other, for there is no other name under heaven, not Bhutto.
Not Confucius, not Mohammed, not Joseph Smith not Mary Baker Eddy not Rabbi Schneerson. There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we can be delivered is a lot I gotta tell you I got some real heartburn with this and I got some real objections to this whole line of thinking here. Well, I love to hear what are they well on my first objection is this why would a loving God be so cool and be so unfair with friends, just asking such a question is this shows that spiritually. We've got Theophrastus on the wrong slab you understand what I'm saying. Let me tell you why Romans chapter 5 says this says it were in a predicament.
Therefore, sin entered into the world through one man, Adam, and death to sin and so death passed on to all men.
The Bible teaches that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. They brought a flaw on the entire human race is called our sin nature. It's like a defective gene that we all inherit and the result of this. Look at Romans five is that every one of us comes into the world. We come into the world. Ephesians 31 says you're actually dead, alienated from God separated from God disconnected from God and the Bible says if we don't fix that situation before we leave this world we go out into eternity to face eternity separated and alienated from God we have a predicament now.
God in his mercy made a way for us to escape this predicament. God in his mercy made a way out of this predicament to having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Trusting what is blood did for us. The blood he shed on the cross did for us in paying for our wrongdoing, but friends if a person rejects God's way out. If a person rejects God's escape plan and then ends up experiencing God's judgment pays God unfair was God cruel and mean. If a person chose not to take the escape plan.
No, you know, as you know I do trips overseas trips Israel and other places and the back in the year 2000. We had a lady that was signed up to go with this and you know a lot of trouble started over there in the fall of 2000 and she called me up two days before we were scheduled to leave and said I don't want to go. I'm scared my family scared.
I don't want to go. I said well you don't have to go.
She said what I want all my money back.
I single male.
There are published cancellation policies at the tour company has an and two days before we leave. It's 100%. You know they bought all the tickets they pay for all the hotels I mean, you know, that's why we tell you get travel insurance.
Now we write. We were that the tour company row people for different times that year and said protect yourself. Get travel insurance four times and I asked her, so you got for bladder saying get travel insurance. Why did you do it. She said well I was wait until the last minute to purchase it because I didn't want to stress out my Visa bill. While I said that's wonderful. But the problem is you don't have it and if you don't have that these cancellation penalties when you know they warned you there for.
She said well you know what she said is there no option. I said you were letting people who don't want to go this year look back and credit their money to 01 so they don't lose any money. She said I don't want to go and no one, and I don't want to go this year.
I want my money back and then she said how good this tour company be so cruel and so unfair that they won't give me back my money now. Her sick was this tour company cruel and unfair.
They wrote the lady four times and said protect yourself. Get an escape plan.
The lady chose not to do it.
And now that she's experiencing the penalties and she was warned about.
Let me ask it was the tour company unfair will I don't think so that we eventually got this worked out eventually flip back to 01. We all ended his friends. By the time this was all over, but you see a lot of people use this very same logic about God.
They say you know God is unfair if people end up experiencing the judgment of God. And I say no way God right this over and over again in the Bible and doesn't tell us four times. He tells us hundreds of times in the Bible there is an escape plan. Take it as an escape plan. Use it friends if somebody spurns that and somebody rejects that and decides to take their own chances and then they end up experiencing the judgment of God was God unfair know he wasn't unfair is there are a lot I got another objection.
And what about people who never heard of Jesus Christ. Okay well you know what the Bible addresses that it says Romans chapter 1 verse 20 for since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly on display so that all men are without excuse.
The Bible says that God's eternal power and divine nature are there for everybody to see in creation in our natural world. We can look around at the trees, the clouds, the stars, our own human bodies and you know we know we didn't make this we know that no one else where we are aware of is capable of making all this.
So, who made all this what the Bible says it should lead us to acknowledge that that point that there must be an almighty creator God and once we do that. God then makes it his personal responsibility to get us information about Jesus Christ that matter whether you live in the darkest jungles of Africa, South America. If you live in the communist world the Muslim world and make any difference you take that first step by acknowledging that there's gonna be a God and you wish you knew him and God takes it upon himself to make sure you get the information about Jesus Christ that you need is a lot of them really work.
That process will yet does the whole reason I'm standing in front of you today as a follower of Christ is because of this exact process you I was born and raised Jewish right here in the United States of America. But I did know one single thing about Jesus or what he did. I know we, died on the cross. I had some idea that what you said to me when I was a teenager long I will give you $1 million right now if you can tell me why Jesus died on the cross I could and told now if I knew you were serious. Going to try to find out, but I didn't have a clue why Jesus died on the cross and and use it when you grew up in American didn't know that's right, I might as well grown up in the jungles of South America friends is much as I knew about Jesus Christ, but I was in 1965 the summer between my junior and senior in high school I was invited to participate in a National Science Foundation program down at Virginia Tech and I'll never forget we were down there when the afternoon we did research project in the morning, we studied enzymes in the human body.
That was the subject for that year. Did you know that right as you sit here today, you got millions of enzymes running around in your body do it all, the chemical reactions you do and you know that every single enzyme is code specific meaning. It will only do the one reaction that it's supposed to do and if some enzyme breaks down or is missing and not working you know none of the other enzymes in your body will pick up for that one and make up for to the enzymes in your body or have a union contract if you understand what I'm saying and nobody does anybody else's job in your body with those enzymes you can be a very sick human being missing one of a million enzymes and what I learned all of this in it at Virginia Tech. I'll never forget walking back. It was a was a bright sunny day. About noon. In July 1965 I stood on the steps of the dorm that I was staying in and I remember saying out loud. There has got to be a God.
Will there is Romans 140.
There's got to be a God nodded I go looking for no dog will searching to see if Jesus Christ was this God know what I'm interested in hearing about Jesus Christ.
No, but I had taken the first step God heard what I said in July 1965 and he made it his personal responsibility to get me the information I needed.
Even though I wouldn't even looking for so that six years later, I was able to surrender my life to Jesus Christ. Friends don't tell me this process. The work of course it were so hard on our way to make them my next objection is so let's pass a person looks around the natural world and they acknowledge there is a God say they do that but they live in a culture, not America, but they live in a culture where the closest religion is Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or Judaism or Shintoism or animism or whatever. So let's say they recognize there is a God from the natural world. But then they turn to one of these religions because it's closest to him to seek God. Won't that be okay friends, the answer is no know a thousand times no. Did you hear what the Bible said.
Jesus said no one comes to the father unless they come through me. Romans chapter 3 says that the only way a person can be redeemed is through faith through reliance on the blood of Jesus Christ is that when I got one last objection and that is if these people are sincere in seeking God through Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, whatever. Why couldn't God just kind of credit the blood of Jesus to them even though they don't know about the blood of Jesus. Why couldn't God look at him and go well you know you're being sincere in your looking for me so you could only come to me through the blood of Christ. But here's what I'm go to do, to take about payment of Christ, and I was going to cut a credit to you even though you don't know about friends.
God can do anything he wants but he said in the Bible he doesn't do this, Romans chapter 10 verse nine if we confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, not if we confess with mouth of Buddha is nice.
Not if we confess what our mouth that Mohammed was a prophet, not if we confess what I mouth the Joseph Smith saw an angel. Rabbi Schneerson thought he was the Messiah. If we confess what I mouth that Jesus is Lord and the verse goes on to say, if we believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is then, and friends. It is only then that we will be delivered. Listen what this means is that in order for people to complete the deal. In order for people to access this escape plan that God has they got to hearing no cognitive information about Jesus Christ. They got here about his virgin birth is sinless life is deity. They got here and understand about his death on the cross. His blood payment for our wrongdoing. His resurrection from the dead.
That's the only way they can believe Jesus is Lord and believe he was raised from the dead, they got to hear the cognitive information about Christ and respond.
God doesn't credit the blood of Jesus to anybody listening people could get the product to go to heaven outside of Jesus Christ, friends, and every missionary that ever lived, wasted his life. People could get to heaven outside of Jesus Christ and Billy Graham and Mother Teresa were full. If people can get to heaven outside of Jesus Christ and that man who stood on the street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, letting people spit on him, ridicule him and yell obscenities at him. Also he could tell me about Jesus Christ. That guy was an idiot and friends of people could get to heaven in some other way than Jesus Christ than John Wesley and the apostle Paul were misguided buffoons but let me just say to you they were buffoons Billy Graham and Mother Teresa were not fools at Mandelson on the screen.
Chapel Hill was not an idiot because they all knew something they all knew and believed that the only hope I had and everybody else have in this world is to trust Jesus Christ.
That's the only way people can get to heaven and this is why they were so driven.
Remember, we asked the question, how do you explain the behavior of all Paul and Wesley. This is why they were so driven because they believe with all their heart that they needed to keep telling people about Jesus Christ as it was people's only way out of their predicament and they were willing to put up with the most brutal treatment if that's what it took.
In order to do that now. That's the answer to question number one. That brings us to our last question number two and that is what differences make to me will friends what this means for you and me is that apart from Jesus Christ. Every single person you and I passed every single day on the Metro at Starbucks in the hallway at school in the hallway at work every one of those people is separated from God under the judgment of God, headed for disaster when they go into eternity and it also means that the only hope these people have is for you and I don't open our mouth and lovingly tell them what we know about Jesus Christ brings the only way. However, you and I going to do that is if we really believe would probably if we really believe what Wesley believed. You see, everyone of us here knows there's a price to be vocal about our faith.
Everyone of us here knows if we open our mouth and we start talking to people about Jesus Christ.
It's will cost us something hidden cost is ridicule. It'll cost us ostracism. It may even cost us our job. It'll cost us persecution. It may cost us offended relationships with friends and with family and is only one reason in the world that you and I are going to be willing to pay that kind of price to share Christ, and that reason is that we believe there was no other way in the universe that people can get out of their predicament and get the help if there's any other way. They were stupid to pay this price friends.
I just need to say to you that that sharing Jesus Christ is the apex it's the climax of all that the Christian life is about removal, sharing Christ with people from the Christian experience and you don't have the Christian experience. We can read the Bible all day long we can memorize Scripture all day long. We can pray all day long we can fast once a week but it unless it all results in our being witnesses for Jesus Christ. We miss whole point. So I hope today you walk out of here with two things. Number one with an absolute confidence of Jesus is not just a way to heaven, but he is the only way to heaven. And number two with a willingness to follow what Paul told Timothy when he said second Timothy 18 do not be ashamed of, to testify about our Lord friends with the information you and I know is the only hope people have in the only way they're going to find out about it is if you and I open our mouth and lovingly tell them they are close by saying if you're here today and you've never asked Jesus Christ to be your personal savior you never surrendered your life to him.
The one thing I hope that you understand from being here today is that you're in a predicament and the other thing I hope you understand, is that there's a way out. It's free, it's easy. You don't have to go anywhere.
You don't have to purchase anything. You don't have to going through any religious motions you can access it right were used to this morning to what I want to do as we close this morning is if you're here in the predicament I want to give you a chance.
Right before we leave to get out of it by asking Jesus Christ into your life. So let's bow our heads together. Let's close our eyes and if you're here and you're willing to surrender your heart and life to Jesus today. You're willing to trust his blood on the cross is the only payment God requires for your wrongdoing and what I want you to do was ominously a little prayer I want you to say it one phrase at a time to yourself silently as I say it and let's access that way out to God in his mercy gave us. Let's do it right now for you. So here we go. You say silently one phrase after me, Lord Jesus, I come to you today because I understand that I have a predicament and I understand that, in your mercy. You made a way out for me. So today I want to take that whale I ask you right now to come into my life to be my personal savior. I put my complete trust in what you did for me on the cross is my total payment for wrongdoing. Forgive my wrongdoing today. Give me eternal life, and grant me a place in heaven. I surrender my life to you and I embrace you as my Lord and Savior in Jesus name I pray Lord I want to pray for these people who pray that prayer that you would confirm in their heart right where they soon that a great transaction is happened as the Bible says they have passed from death into eternal life. For thank you for making a way out for us that so easy and I pray for the rest of us here were followers of Christ that you might motivate us and inspire us to go out and share with people in spite of the price may we may have to pay to share with people what the escape plan is because Lord is their only hope. Inspire us with the example of John Wesley inspire us with the example of the apostle Paul Lord help us to believe as deeply as they did that without Jesus Christ people are hopelessly lost and help us to go out into the city tomorrow morning that determine that if you open the doors were to step through it and tell people the way out. The only way out.
Help us make an impact on this city because of our willingness to open our mouth and share Christ, and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen