Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. You may not like the message, but this is the only place the power of God is. There is no name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. There's power and power alone in the name of Jesus. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father any other way except through me. And even though that rubs you the wrong way, I've got to say it because that's all the resurrection life.
That's the only place that it is. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author and theologian, J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. So what would it take for you to give up your life as you know it so that others could hear the gospel? Today, Pastor J.D. Greer picks up where he left off yesterday, examining the life of Paul, who was both eager and unashamed to faithfully proclaim what Christ had done. His example shows us just how unworthy we were to receive the gospel and how much we owe to Jesus for giving it to us.
Now let's rejoin Pastor J.D. in Romans chapter one. Paul's most compelling evidence that religion was not just a private matter, something that worked for him, that other people might work for them, too. Something that was something everybody should know was because of the way that it had been foretold and fulfilled through all the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. It's interesting to me that even before Paul goes to the resurrection as his evidence that Christianity is true, the first place he turns is the way that God fulfilled prophecy.
39 books, in fact, written over the space of 1500 years by 30 different authors all had one point they were trying to make. And that point was Jesus is coming to rescue you. Isaiah, where he would be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, and his name would be mighty God, everlasting father and prince of peace. Or how in the book of Esther, he would be our righteous advocate in the throne room who was risking his life to save ours. Or in Hosea, how he is that ever faithful husband who is always pursuing his ever unfaithful bride. How in Jonah, he was the prophet that was cast out into the storm of God's wrath so that we could be brought in. How in Micah, he was the everlasting ruler that was promised to be born in Bethlehem who would reign forever.
How in Zechariah, he is promised as the one who's gonna come into Jerusalem is the king riding on a donkey who'll be betrayed by 30 pieces of silver who would then be pierced. And one day every eye on earth would behold and 300 other prophecies that detailed the character and the ministry and the person of who the Messiah was. It was this concept that finally solidified my faith. You see, I had convinced myself that maybe the stories of the resurrection were like exaggerations or a big thing, a group think, and maybe Jesus really didn't resurrect from the dead.
And I was just kinda waffling and like, well, what does this mean? It was when I really saw how every one of these stories with such incredible specificity painted for me Jesus so that when you finally get to the gospel of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, you're like, there he is. They've been talking about him for 1500 years and this is the one they've been talking about.
It was then that my faith became rock solid. Paul said, the reason it's not a private matter is cause it's been talked about for 1500 years. Here's the second reason he said, because it was solidified by the resurrection of the dead, the resurrection of the dead. This was the other piece of evidence the apostles always went to, to validate their claims. We saw him raised from the dead.
If you were unsure about this, this is usually the place to start your investigation. If you're unsure about the claims of Christ, look first at the claims of his resurrection. The evidence for the resurrection is incredibly solid. Get you a book like Lee Strobel's Case for Christ.
Lee was a very liberal, cynical journalist that worked for the Chicago Tribune, who was sick and tired of all the Christians in his life trying to share their faith with him. So he said, I use my journalistic skill and I was just going to prove that Christianity was a hoax. At the end of the day, he concluded what so many have concluded that there was simply no way these stories could have been made up.
There was no way it could have been the stuff of legends. He said only a predisposed bias against the evidence would lead you to think that this is a hoax. The evidence for the resurrection is more solid, he says, than is the evidence that we accept for many of the most indisputable historical facts. Paul says the resurrection of the dead is what gives me confidence in this. He continues, through him, we have received grace.
Paul saw the message of grace as a distinguishing characteristic of the gospel. Listen, it's common in our culture to say, you know, all religions basically teach the same thing. When somebody says that, you can know one thing about that person, and that is they've never actually studied the religions, because they don't.
In fact, there is some similarity. Every religion in the world operates off this premise. The premise is this, I obey, therefore I will be accepted. Now, religions fill in the blank differently. I obey what?
The five pillars of Islam, the eightfold path of the Buddha. I obey, and if I obey well enough and long enough, then God will accept me. All religions in the world work off that premise except for one, and that is the gospel. The gospel is I am accepted, therefore I will obey. I am accepted not because I obey well enough. I am accepted by a gift of God's grace, and because of my gratefulness for grace, I then obey as an act of love and not as an attempt to save myself.
That is a distinguishing thing about Christianity, and anybody who says they all teach the same things has never looked at it that deeply. There's a famous story about C.S. Lewis.
C.S. Lewis was a professor of literature at Oxford. He was walking down the halls of Oxford one day, and there was a group of his other professors, his compatriots there in a room, and they were all in there. Basically, they were trying to come up with all the things that religions had in common. So they put all these characteristics up there, and C.S.
Lewis was walking by the door. He was a Christian, and they were like, hey, Jack, that was what they called him. Like, hey, Jack, come on in here for a minute, and you show us what is not on this board that would make Christianity different from all the other religions in the world.
C.S. Lewis looks at it for a minute, walks up to the chalkboard, takes a piece of chalk, and just writes one word, grace. Puts the chalk down, walks out, doesn't say a word. It is grace that distinguishes the Christian message, and Paul understands that. I've been set apart with a new message, and this message is unlike anything else. It is grace. It is grace.
He continues. He says, and apostleship. I've been given an apostleship. Now, there are two uses of the word apostle in the Bible that you need to understand.
The first one is what I think of as capital A, apostle. This is the 12 disciples plus Paul that were authorized to write the Bible. There is an authoritative position.
It's only those guys. You had to have seen the risen Jesus and received this commission directly from him. They were authorized in places like John 14 and Matthew 16 to establish authoritatively what the Bible teaches. There's a small A, apostle, that literally just means someone who is sent, and that is something that applies to all believers. We're all sent with the gospel to take the gospel to others. Paul isn't an apostle in both senses. He says, first of all, I've been established by God with the authority to teach these things accurately. Secondly, I'm just a believer who's been saved and sent like all of you. Paul was an apostle in both senses. So the question is, why does this gospel compel all of us to become little A, apostles, carrying it around the world, sharing it with our neighbors? Well, Paul alludes to three different reasons here. First, he says, how can you receive this kind of grace and just hold it to yourself?
He says, he didn't use this analogy, but it's like this. Imagine that a disease broke out here in the triangle, and it was so bad of a disease that people would get it, and within 24 hours, they'd die. But somehow, you stumble onto a cure.
You get an anonymous package, and in it is a cure that immediately cures you and your family. What kind of person doesn't make everybody aware of that? Paul says, how could I receive the grace of the gospel and just keep it to myself? But there's other reasons he shares. Look at this, verse five. He says, God has commanded this happen. I've received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith. God has commanded that everybody everywhere repent and believe in Jesus. And if I really believe that Jesus is Lord, then I'm gonna be part of seeing that happen.
And if I'm not part of seeing that happen, I've got good reason to wonder whether or not I've ever really accepted Jesus as Lord. I'm reading this biography right now about Lyndon Johnson. He was getting the Civil Rights Act through Congress. And there was a lot of senators that said that they believed in the Civil Rights Act, but they were hiding behind procedural objections to not go on record with voting for it. And so Lyndon Johnson, this biographer said, in his finest hour, stood up and said, the time for hiding behind procedural things is over. You are going to vote right now.
And if you do not vote for this, then history will know that you were not really behind the principles of the civil rights movement. And it was with that that he was able to get it through. Christians are in a similar kind of situation. A lot of us love to talk about how we believe that Jesus is Lord. But if you are not out bringing people to the obedience of faith, telling them Jesus is Lord and he's your only hope for salvation, and you need to submit to him because he is Lord, then you need to wrestle with the question of is he actually Lord in your life? Paul gives you one other reason here.
It's verse five still. He says, I go also for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles. The name of Jesus, he says, is worthy to be worshiped among the nations. It's not just worthy to be worshiped by me and the people I know. I want everybody to acknowledge the glory and the beauty of Jesus. Listen, you talk to a missionary, what sustains them is not just compassion for people.
That wears off. Yes, you're compassionate. You want to see them saved and escape judgment and escape hell. But ultimately what burns in the heart of every true Christian is a desire to see Jesus recognized in the nations for who he is. I see this sometimes when I go overseas and I see people bowing down in temples to false gods, and I see their devotion to false gods. And there's something inside me that just wants to go in and say, no, that statute does not deserve that kind of devotion.
The God who created you deserves that kind of devotion. Or when I lived in Southeast Asia, not far from where I was, there was this Hindu festival that they would do every year to try to atone for their sins. And part of it was very gruesome.
They would take these hooks and they would drag sleds and they would hook it into the flesh on their back and they would pull this sled. And as they're bleeding on their back, they're trying to atone for their sin. And there's something in the heart of the Christian that says, no, this is not how you atone for sin. There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins, not yours.
Sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stain. And that devotion you're giving to these false gods that really belongs to Jesus. Y'all, I feel the same thing when I watch something like the Grammys and I see all these people who are so devoted to themselves and using these crazy talents to exalt themselves. And there's something when I watch that just boils up inside me and says, no, that talent was not created for you.
That talent was created to put the beauty of God on display. And Paul said, I want his name known among the Gentiles. And that's what compels me to go. You are listening to Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Before we continue, I wanted to remind you about a daily resource that can also help you stay connected to God's Word throughout the week. Our daily email devotionals written by Pastor J.D. offer insightful reflections on the Bible and practical applications for your life. Each day's devotional corresponds to our current teaching series so you can stay plugged into the themes and ideas that we explore here on the program each day. And best of all, it's completely free.
To sign up, go visit jdgreer.com slash resources and enter your email address. Thank you for your support that makes this resource and the rest of Summit Life possible. It's because of friends like you that we are able to proclaim the gospel each day to a dying world. Now let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor J.D.
Greer here on Summit Life. That's the man. That's the message. So finally, let's look here at what Paul says about the mission. How committed is Paul to this task?
Paul discusses this in verses 14 to 17. And he says three things about the mission. I'm not ashamed, I'm eager, and I feel under obligation.
Let's hit those real briefly, one at a time. For I'm not ashamed. In saying I'm not ashamed, Paul is recognizing that there are a lot of people who will be ashamed about the gospel.
He says, hey, I'm not ashamed. So why would people be ashamed of the gospel? Tim Keller says there are four reasons that modern people are ashamed of the gospel. First, the gospel tells us that we are such spiritual failures that the only way we can be saved is through a free gift of God's grace. And that's an insult.
There's literally nothing you can do to help yourself. God had to do it all for you. And that offends moral and religious people who believe that their decency and their accomplishments give them an advantage over the less moral and the less successful. Second, it tells us, the gospel tells us, that we are so wicked that only the bloody death of Jesus could save us. And that offends the popular belief in the innate goodness of humanity.
And that all we really need is to get in touch with our inner snowflake and then everything is going to be fine. Third, the gospel offends us because it teaches, listen, that all so-called good, sincere people are not automatically going to make it to heaven. And that offends the modern notion that every nice person anywhere can find God in his or her own way. Because the gospel tells us that God is the only one who can provide salvation and if you're going to receive salvation, you got to do it his way. Lastly, the gospel tells us that our salvation was accomplished by Jesus' serving and suffering and that we should expect the same when we are following him. And that offends people in churches who want salvation to usher them into an easy, nice, comfortable life where it's all blessing and prosperity and happiness and rainbows and snuggles and that's what it means to walk with Jesus.
And he's like, nope. Paul said, when Jesus called me, he said, take up my cross and follow. And that means I should expect to experience in life what Jesus experienced and that is not what people want to hear. Four ways that this message will never be popular, ever, in modern culture. To not be ashamed of it means you recognize that and you proclaim it anyway. Paul says, I know this message rubs you the wrong way. I know it offends you.
I know it's never going to make me popular, but I'm not ashamed of it because I know that it and it alone contains the power of God for salvation and new life. One of our high school boys said to me last week, he said, you know, the problem with phone numbers is that you've got to get them exactly right or they don't help at all, right? You don't get points for being almost right.
You don't get points for being in the vicinity of the phone number, right? And I said, that's right, punk. And you try to call my daughter, I'm going to be the one to answer the phone, just so we're clear on that. Paul says, you may not like the message. You may not like the message, but this is the only place the power of God is. There is no name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. There's power and power alone in the name of Jesus. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father any other way except through me. And even though that rubs you the wrong way, I've got to say it because that's all the resurrection life.
That's the only place that it is. Paul said, so I'm not ashamed, but even more than that, he said, I'm eager. Paul said, I have felt its power in my life. I know it is the only hope of salvation.
And so I desperately want to get it to you. Some in church, this is how I want us to feel about our community. This is how I feel about our church. This is why we're always pushing ourselves so hard to grow and to expand and let's open up a new campus and let's plan a new church and let's do another giving initiative and all these things.
And you're like, when is it ever going to be enough? It's not about getting our church to a point that we all like it. It's about people that need to hear and understand Jesus. And so we're never going to stop because we're eager to get the gospel to them. It's how I feel when I preach. I love preaching up here. I love wrestling with the questions. You want to know at the end of the day what I really care about when I'm standing up here? I want to see people come to Jesus.
That's it. That's like what's burning in my heart every time I stand up here. I think of the words of Charles Spurgeon, who I know I quote a lot.
He's like the pastor emeritus of the Summit Church. If my hearers are not converted when I'm speaking, I feel like I wasted my time. I lost the exercise of brain and heart. I feel as if I lost my hope and I lost my life unless I find for my Lord some of his blood bought ones.
That's what I want to do. I mean, I love theology. I love talking about deep things. I'm just going to tell you, especially seminary students, not picking on you, I used to be one of you, but you're like, why would she just preach deeper?
I'm like, okay, I get it. I love theology. Spurgeon was a deep preacher too, but let me just tell you what he said because this is how I feel. I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ and unpack all the divine mysteries in the word.
So no, I'm not going to engage with you in a long conversation about predestination when you haven't won anybody to Jesus in three years. Okay, because we're going to be about reaching people for Jesus and theology helps us in that, but our focus is to seek and save the lost. The opposite of being ashamed of the gospel is not, I'm proud to be a Christian.
The opposite is I'm eager to share. Even more Paul says, I'm obligated. I feel obligated and we've talked about this before, but the word that Paul uses there for obligation literally means debtor. I feel like I'm in debt to these people that have never heard.
Now, here's a question. Why would Paul feel like he was in debt to a group of people he'd never even met? Remember, I explained to you there's two ways to be in debt to somebody. Number one, they loan you money, you got to pay them back. There's another way and that is somebody gives you a large sum of money to give to them. Then you're under obligation to get it to them. Say that you were the CEO of Feed the Children and somebody comes and gives you a million dollar check for Feed the Children and you take it and put it in your bank account. At some point, we look at you and say, you are stealing because that money was not given to you for you to hold for you.
That money was given to you for you to get to the children. Paul says, I understand that this gospel that was given to me, wasn't given to me just for me and I understand that I was no more worthy of salvation than anybody anywhere in the world and that if God blessed me with this incredible grace of knowing eternal life through Jesus Christ, then I am under obligation to get it to those people who are no less worthy to hear it than I was. I'm gonna tell you that when you begin to understand that, when you begin to really wrestle with that, that's going to change your life because it's going to rearrange your priorities. You're gonna start to say things like only one life to live will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last. Life is not about chasing my dreams.
It's not about accomplishing and building these things. I've got one life and I've got to figure out how my talents and my money and my resources, I've got to figure out how to get the gospel to people around the world that this is the only place they have to experience salvation. When you really wrestle with this, I'm telling you, everything's gonna start to look different in your life.
I was thinking this week about something I read many years ago. Most of you know that I have four children. My fourth child, my only son, is named Adam. It's short for Adoniram. Adoniram Judson was the first Baptist missionary that left the United States in the 1700s to go and carry the gospel to Burma, what we call today Myanmar. He was the first missionary, first English speaker, first person who knew the gospel to ever enter the region of Burma to share the gospel. Well, right before he left, he had fallen in love with a girl named Anne Haseltine, who also shared his passion for the nations. So he wanted to marry her. And he thought it was appropriate that he write her father and ask her father for her hand in marriage.
Thankfully, that letter that he wrote to his prospective father-in-law was preserved for us. Let me read to you a section of it. Mr. Haseltine, I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, never to see her again in this world. Whether you can consent to her departure to foreign, dangerous lands and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life. Whether you can consent to her exposure to every kind of want and distress, to degradation, to insult, to persecution and maybe even a violent death. Can you consent to all of this for the sake of him who left his heavenly home and died for her and for you, for the sake of perishing immortal souls, for the sake of the glory of God. Can you consent to all of this in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her savior from lost nations, save the Lord witness.
Here's the question. Is the gospel worth that to you? Is the gospel worth that to you? Do you understand that there is an obligation that those of us who have received the gospel have to the gospel?
Because this is what I want you to wrestle with. What is your response to the gospel? What is it supposed to look like? If you're young, what's it supposed to look like with your career? If you're nearing retirement, what's that supposed to look like? If you're in the middle of it and God is blessing you, what are you supposed to do with that?
Let me try to make this really practical for you. Some of you need to go on your first mission trip this year. You've never gone overseas. Some of you, it's more than just a short-term mission trip. You're thinking, I might need to go on one of these church plans or I might need to go overseas.
What does that look like? One year, two years, maybe 40 years. But let me try to bring it in one step farther and just make it super, super practical for you. Let's forget about the nations for a minute and let's just talk about you reaching people around you. That's the first obligation. That's why we're starting this thing this year called Who's Your One? Because we know that the most basic commitment of the gospel is that you have one person at least that you're praying for and asking God to help you share the gospel with and hopefully that you can bring them to faith in Christ over the course of the year. What habits in your life need to change so that you can build a relationship with that person and introduce them to Christ?
What intentional steps do you plan to make during the season of your life? That's the challenge today from Pastor J.D. Greer on Summit Life. Well, we hope you'll take up that challenge to share the truth with others just like Paul did because it really is a matter of life and death. And one of the resources we believe can help you share the gospel with the world around you is Pastor J.D. 's new book, Essential Christianity. J.D., tell us, who is this book written for? Molly, I had two basic audiences in mind when I wrote this book. It goes back to something I read when I was in college, a book called Basic Christianity by John R.W.
Stott. And John Stott's book, I read it as a Christian, and it felt like a chiropractor for my faith, like getting the essence, the spine of Christianity right. But then I also found that it was the book that I most often handed out to a seeker who was really wanting to know more about Christianity and that I was in discussion with. And so I wanted to write Essential Christianity that way, that it is an in-depth look at some of the basic essentials of Christianity with a view toward the questions that our culture is asking about some of these truths.
So again, whether you're a believer just looking to press into the essentials of the faith or whether you know somebody that would like to see some of these fundamental foundational questions answered, I think it'll be helpful for you. There's a discussion guide to go along with it that will help you in your personal study and also guide you in the discussion you have with somebody else as you're going through it. So reach out to us at jdgrier.com and let's get this conversation started. This is a great resource and we'd love to get you a copy. It's yours with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. We'll also be glad to send you a copy and include a free discussion guide when you join the growing team of monthly gospel partners. It's easy to sign up by calling 866-335-5220 or give and request the book online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us again next time. Pastor JD is explaining that while our hearts are corrupt, God doesn't stop pursuing us. Be sure to listen Thursday to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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