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The Inclusive Exclusivity, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2024 9:00 am

The Inclusive Exclusivity, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 22, 2024 9:00 am

Most of us have no problem telling others about our favorite movie or the latest TV show we’ve seen. So why is sharing the gospel so difficult?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. You know, most of us have no problem telling friends or even strangers about our favorite movie or the best TV show that we've seen. In a way, we are evangelizing about the wonders of The Office or Star Wars, right? Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. takes us to the book of Acts to show us how we can speak boldly about Jesus, even in the most difficult situations. Now, if you've missed the previous messages in this study, be sure to visit us online at J.D.

Greer dot com. But right now, grab your pen and Bible and let's hear from Pastor J.D. and his message titled The Inclusive Exclusivity. Turn it on verse one, and as they were speaking to the people, they being the apostles, this is right after the miracle. And Peter's explaining to them a large group of people that this miracle gives them a picture of the salvation that Jesus can bring to the soul. He raised a lame man, gave him the ability to walk. And Peter said, this is like Jesus's ability to save you from your sin. When they were doing this, the priest and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And so they arrested them and they put them in custody until the next day because it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of men came to be about 5,000.

In those days, they'd often discount the men as the heads of the household. We're talking nearly half the city becomes followers of Jesus. Verse five, on the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, tough name, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander. And when they had set them in their midst, they inquired, by what name did you do this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed? In other words, if we are actually on trial for healing a guy, well then let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, who has now become the cornerstone. Then the conclusion of the whole message. You see there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Peter's explanation deals with two of the biggest objections that people make today.

Here they are. Objection number one. Objection number one, claiming that Jesus is the only way that God is arrogant.

People say, well if you think that Jesus is the only way, you must think that God prefers you and people who believe like you. So let's just ask that question. Is Peter claiming to be smarter?

No. In fact the text goes out of its way to point out that they weren't that smart. So Peter's claim and our claim that salvation is only found in Jesus has nothing to do with believing that we are intellectually or morally superior. You say, well, I just don't like anything that is exclusive and puts people on the outside. Listen, all religious claims, all moral claims are exclusive. For example, I have had people say this to me, I believe that all good people of every religion goes to heaven. That sounds like a pretty inclusive statement, doesn't it?

Alright. Who have you just excluded? All good people of every religion, you excluded bad people and I guess you get to define what's bad. And I'm assuming that racists, rapists, child molesters, terrorists, they're on that list, right? Well, depending on your viewpoint, maybe you would put sexually immoral people on that list. The point is you got a list and some people are on it and some aren't. You see, I would say that even your attempt at inclusivity actually turns out to be quite exclusive.

You say, well, that's why I'm not religious at all. I just don't exclude anybody for any reason. You still have a standard for what constitutes a good person. And there's a line for you.

Everybody has a line for who's in and who's out. And I'm just telling you, you got to be intellectually consistent with that. But see, the gospel of Jesus is a different kind of exclusivity. It's a different kind of exclusivity because the gospel teaches that our acceptance with God is not based on anything about us. It's not based on the superiority of our moral record. It's not based on the viewpoint given to us by our education.

It's certainly not based on our race or our sociopolitical status. God gives salvation as a gift to all who will repent and receive it that way. You see, that lame man in that story is a picture of you and me. Did you know that according to the Jewish law, lame people could not go into the temple?

That's why he's outside of it. You might think, my friend, that you're a terribly bad sinner, that you're more lame than any of the rest of us. But you know what? God has salvation and the ability to forgive and make new for anybody who will repent and believe, anybody. On the other hand, you might think that you're not that bad of a sinner.

You might think that on the whole, you're pretty good. God's verdict on you is still lame, blind, wicked, poor, dead. And in fact, you're the one that's probably going to have a harder time with salvation because in order for you to be able to receive that healing, you got to acknowledge there's no way you're getting in the presence of God on your own. You see, Christianity is a different kind of exclusivity.

I love how Tim Keller says it. All religions are exclusive, but Christianity is the most inclusive exclusivity there has ever been. And see, when you believe this, listen, far from making you arrogant and judgmental, it makes you loving and gracious and accepting. You want to know what a Christian looks like?

You got to look at the cornerstone. Really believing the Gospel changes the shape of who we are. We're not arrogant, or at least we shouldn't be if we understand the Gospel because we realize that we're not accepted because of our good works.

We're not Christians because we figured out truth and we were smarter than everybody else. God healed us when we were lame. God saved us when we were outside of His presence. He saved me. I was blind and He made me see. I was guilty and I was under condemnation and He took it. I was dead and He made me alive. My sins were like scarlet and He made them as white as snow. I was headed for destruction, a child of wrath, and God changed my heart, healed it, and He forgave my sin.

And there's just no other word that can capture it. And when you believe that, it transforms you into a gracious, forgiving person because that's what God was to you. So when you see people who are arrogant with the claims of Christianity, and I admit there are a lot of them, but when you see people who are arrogant with the claims of Christianity, that is not because they believe the message too fervently. It's because they don't understand the message at all. Because anyone who understands the Gospel does not speak that way. They begin to speak with a humility and a graciousness, a boldness, yes, but a humility that understands that I'm the lame person and I don't speak to you as a righteous, superior person.

I speak as one who's been healed, one who's been plucked from the burning, and I'm just trying to tell you what I've seen and heard. I'm doing all this to show you that claiming Jesus is the only way is not necessarily arrogant. To our skeptical friends this weekend, I would just tell you be intellectually consistent. Everybody's view of truth and morality is exclusive, including your own. This message is the most humble, inclusive exclusivity because it declares that our understanding of truth and that our acceptance before God is not based on our goodness, our righteousness, or our intelligence.

It's based on a gift of grace. Objection number two, religion is just a matter of personal preference. Religion is just a matter of personal preference. People say, well, look, you ought to be free to choose whatever religion works for you. If your religion works for you, who am I to say that it's wrong? If you like IHOP better than Waffle House, you're wrong, but what am I? Who am I to criticize?

If you have a good time at going to a rock concert with a bunch of your friends and yelling your head off, great. If you choose to go out and walk in the woods by yourself, whatever works for you, who am I to say what's superior? People think of religion that way. But see, here's a question. Listen, most people in our society think of religion that way.

But here's the question you've got to ask. Should religion go into that category? People put religion following cut. He said religion goes in the subjective category, and our societies follow along since then. But are our beliefs about God, are they really subjective? Is the experience of salvation subjective? Is faith in Jesus true because it works for us, because it makes us more moral, gives us a moral compass? Is it true because it brings us comfort in dark times? Certainly, by the way, you hear a lot of Christians talk about it, you'd think that's why it was true.

But look at what's being taught by this miracle. This man is lame, and he can't walk. He needed a real power to heal him. He didn't need stories about Jesus and other people walking that made him feel warm and fuzzy on dark nights. He didn't need parables that persuaded him to be nice to people or encourage him to share his lunch.

He needed a real power to give strength to his dead legs. Peter says our soul of salvation is like that. Our salvation was accomplished by the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus did not get out of the grave because of a subjective preference he had for life. He got out of the grave because God's objective deliverance over death. We simply didn't need and weren't bad people that needed to be persuaded to become better people.

We didn't need something to give us warmth and groovy vibes when we're lonely. We needed objective forgiveness for our sins, which was going to be accomplished by someone dying in our place, and Jesus did that. And we needed our dead souls to be made alive again. And that took Jesus coming out of the grave so that he could give life to all who believe. According to Jesus and the apostles, our salvation, hear this, is not about a new philosophy.

It's not about feelings of comfort. It's about a sin debt we couldn't pay, like this lame man that kept us from the presence of God. It's about our being dead in sin, chained to our depravity, unable to break our addictions to the lust of the flesh, unable to walk in righteousness. And so God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He paid our sin debt by living the life that we were supposed to live and then dying to death. We've been condemned to die in our place so that when we received him, we would be declared righteous, not on the basis of the fact that we were becoming better people, but on the fact of what he accomplished in our place and gave to us as a gift.

He raised himself from the dead so that he could live in us in the person of the Holy Spirit and infuse us, not with good feelings, but with the actual power of new life, which is why Jesus said, I'll be wounded for their transgressions. I'll be punished for their iniquities. The price of their peace is going to be upon me. And then by my stripes, they can be healed. Though their sins are like scarlet, I'll make them as white as snow because I'll take my blood and I will wash them clean. Though they are dead in their sin, if they believe in me, they will be buried with me by baptism into death. That just like Christ, I was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.

They also will walk in newness of life that those who believe in me, though they die, yet shall they live. That's not a subjective feeling. That's an objective deliverance.

And my friend, listen to me. One of life's most important questions is for you to figure out whether or not the salvation thing is subjective or objective. Because if it's subjective, then yeah, it really is whatever you want to believe. But if it's objective, then you've got to get it right.

Because if you ever give a subjective answer to an objective question, you end up with disaster. Thanks for listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. We'll get right back to today's teaching in a moment. But first, I wanted to make sure to tell you about this month's featured resource available to all of our gospel partners and financial supporters.

It's Pastor J.D. 's newest book, Twelve Truths and a Lie, complete with a family friendly discussion guide. Just like the title suggests, Twelve Truths and a Lie tackles some of the biggest questions we all face, like how could a good God send people to hell and how should Christians handle political differences?

And then, of course, there's the lie. You'll have to get your copy to find out. Anyone who gives thirty five dollars or more to this ministry or joins us as a monthly gospel partner will receive not only Pastor J.D. 's new book, but also the discussion guide we've created to help you talk through the book with someone on a deeper level, making it a fantastic discipleship tool with your kids, a neighbor, anyone.

So why wait? Join us as a gospel partner or give a one time gift today by calling 866-335-5220 or by heading over to J.D. Greer dot com. Thank you for your ongoing support that makes this program possible. We couldn't do it without you. Now, let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Can I boil down for you all the various questions about religion that divide people? Can I just condense them into one question? It's really simple. You take every religious disagreement in the world, you combine and condense it down. It's got one question that divides them. Here it is.

You ready? Who can save us? Who can save us? Can we save ourselves? If we can save ourselves, there can be multiple ways to God. Choose a path.

Do your best. Try to be a good person in the religious way that you've chosen. But see, my friend, if God is the only one who can save us, if God is the only one who could overcome our sin debt and deliver us from death, then salvation is only found in the place where He has provided it. There is salvation, Peter said, and no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Two key things in that verse. Given. Salvation is given. It's a gift that God gives. Secondly, no other name.

If salvation is something that God has given, then it's only found in the place where God has provided it, and that's in the name of Jesus. For years here, I've used this story that I'm about to tell you to illustrate that. It was back when I was in college. I was on an airline, and I was sitting next to a girl who was... I was a student at Campbell University.

Hello, Campbell. A student at Campbell University at the time, and she happened to be on her way back up to Harvard University. Immediately I felt like we had a connection. You know, just had some things in common. She was gorgeous.

This was before I was married. Very important detail. I've never met Veronica, who is much more beautiful. She was gorgeous. She was from Guatemala. Her name was Bertha. Bertha. Not Bertha. Bertha. So I'm talking to Bertha, and I start telling her about Jesus, and she's listening to me, and she's like, she said, I've got to tell you about half of the conversation. Half of the conversation. She said, I've got to tell you. I'm around the smartest people in the world at Harvard University.

I don't think I've ever heard a young guy our age talk with such clarity, such conviction, such passion, such eloquence. She said, I find that really attractive. I'm like, yeah, you do. Now, again, I'm not married at this point. I remember I'm like, she's going to get saved. We're going to get married. This is going to be a great story someday. She's going to Harvard. She's going to be rich. This is like a dream. This is one conversation.

My whole life is about to be set. So we keep talking to her, and we get to the part that I'm like, well, Jesus died for you, and he died to save you, and you've got to trust him as your savior. She's sitting there in her seat. She's like, yeah. She's actually trying it for a while. It just didn't work for me.

It never took. She goes, I'm really glad that you found something that works for you, but I'm just trying some other stuff because it's just not for me. I'm like, it is for you. Jesus said in John 14, 6 that he was the way, the truth, the life. No one comes by him, not a way, a truth, a life.

He's the only one. She says, yeah, but I'm telling you, it just doesn't work for me. I'm glad it works for you, but it's not. I said, you're not reading what Jesus said. I'm like, read it. She reads it, and she looks at me, and she says, are you actually trying to tell me that you think that unless I come through Jesus that I can't connect to God? I said, but I'm not telling you that. Jesus is telling you that. Remember, she looks at me, and she says, I think you've got to be the most arrogant person I've ever talked to. I'm like, no, no, no, passionate, eloquent, attractive.

That's what you said. She sat back, and she said, I don't want to have this conversation anymore. Just sat back. I'm like, what's next? What do I do now? I remember this thing I'd heard, and I probably shouldn't have said this to her. It was kind of catty. I leaned up to her, and I said, I've got one more thing to say to you. She said, what? I said, I just want you to know I'm really glad that the pilot of this airplane doesn't look at the runway the same way that you do heaven.

She said, what do you mean? I said, let's just say that he comes on the intercom and says, I'm sick and tired of that arrogant little airport telling me when and where and how exactly I've got to land that plane. I'm coming in on my own schedule. I'm coming in on my own speed. I'm going to land wherever the heck that I want to land. I'm going to try it upside down today in the middle of the greenway. I was like, personally, I'm glad that Jesus is not going on what he feels like works for him.

I'm glad he's going out on a little narrow strip they call the runway laid out by the airport. She looks at me, and she said, that's not fair. I said, yes, it is. That's Campbell 1, Harvard 0, if you want to write that down in your little book right there. Now, I shouldn't have said that. It was catty.

I'm much more mature now, and I never act that way. But do you understand the point that I'm trying to make? If God is the one that saves, if it's true, like Revelation says, that our song throughout eternity is salvation belongs to God, then salvation is only found in the place where he provided it. If you can save yourself, and if our song in heaven is going to be, I was a good person, I treated people nicely, that's why I'm here, then there's multiple ways to God. But if God is the only one who can save, then it's only found in the place where he provided it.

So the question you've got to answer is very simple. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Did he actually rise from the dead? Because if he did, he was doing something for you, you couldn't do for yourself, because you can't raise yourself from the dead. And if Jesus actually rose from the dead, then he gets to make the rules about salvation. Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? Do you believe that? If so, are you willing to let him make the rules about salvation? If we're not like that, it means that he's not really our cornerstone.

Are you bold, tenacious, urgent, and humble? You see what I'm getting at? I'm not saying that if you do those things better, God will accept you more. I'm saying that if you understand that God accepts you as a gift of grace, you will become all those things naturally, because when he's the cornerstone, the shape of the whole building changes. You say, well, I just don't think it's fair. I just don't think it's fair that this is the way of salvation. Listen, God owes no man salvation.

The fact that any of us are saved is an act of unspeakable grace. But I can tell you what is unfair. What is unfair is that those of us who do know it not do everything we can within our power to help others who do not yet know it. So, my church, what if this is true? What if the world really is completely lame? What if they really are shut out from the presence of God?

What if the power of salvation really is only found in the name of Jesus? Have you grasped the biblical, global implications of the gospel? It was in college, I've told you, that I really became aware of the weightiness of this. That's what I did when I was a junior in college. That's where it led me to where I am today, doing what I do. That was God's answer for me. That's how he was going to use me. Can I tell you something?

The answer's not going to be the same for you. If you offer yourself to God that way, he's not going to make you a pastor or a missionary necessarily. Some of you got equipped to be doctors, lawyers, businessmen, bakers, candlestick makers, whatever you want to put there. He's given you the ability to do that. But I do know that every one of you can come to a point where you say, God, in the light of what's going on in the world, God, I want to offer myself to you.

God used me to bring other people to Jesus. Have you ever grappled with the global implications of the gospel? You want to know how a worldwide movement got birthed?

That's how it got birthed. Bold, tenacious, humble, urgent. You want to know how a movement will get started in your workplace when you become bold, tenacious, urgent, humble?

You want to know how it sweeps your campus when you become bold, tenacious, urgent, humble? You want to know how to become those things? You just believe the gospel.

That's how you become those things. Have you grappled with the global implications of the gospel? Have you really grappled with what it means for people around you? You've got people in your lives that have never heard this message, have they?

And they work with you. They live across the hall from you. I'm not trying to create a guilt trip in you. I'm not.

I'm not. But what's it look like when somebody looks at you and says, You knew. You knew. You knew that there was salvation only in Jesus.

And you just cared too much about your reputation and what I would say, that you didn't say anything. Have you grappled with the global implications of the gospel? Have you believed the gospel?

How will you respond? Will you be like Isaiah and embrace what it means for Jesus to be the only way? You're listening to Pastor J.D. Greer on Summit Life.

To hear this message again or to catch up on previous messages in this teaching series, visit us online at jdgreer.com. Okay, Pastor J.D., it may seem like a big no-no to even ask this question, but I'm sure I'm not the only one. Can you tell us, is it okay to have doubts about our faith? Molly, I have three words for you. Okay.

How dare you? How dare you even raise the possibility that you could ever have a question or something unanswered or something difficult? The majority of our Bibles was written by people who had unanswered questions.

Right. And I've found that from my own life and in my family and in our church and from our Summit Life listeners, there are difficult questions. I feel like you're in God's will, but I haven't seen the answer yet. That and several others are what we tried to just say, these are honest questions, they're real questions, they're questions Bible writers had, and here's how you navigate through that. My hope is that it will not only strengthen your faith, but it will enable you to better interact with a questioning and doubting culture all around us. So we wanted to make it available to you, and we've got a discussion guide that helps you navigate through it that goes along with it. If you'll just reach out to us at jdgreer.com, I would love to get this in your hands as a help to you, both in your own faith and for reaching out to others. Thanks, JD. We'll send you your copy of 12 Truths and a Lie, as well as the accompanying discussion guide as our way to say thank you when you give $35 or more to this ministry or join us as a monthly gospel partner. To join with us now, you can call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or head to jdgreer.com right away.

I'm Molly Vitovich. You know, when bad things happen in our lives, we can focus so much on the problem that we lose sight of the solution. Tomorrow, Pastor JD will show us how we can shift our focus back where it belongs. Join us Tuesday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-22 12:11:30 / 2024-04-22 12:22:36 / 11

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