SO OUR WORLD CAN EXPERIENCE GOOD NEWS

ONE CHURCH

ONE CHURCH – So Our World Can Experience Good News
Romans 1:16-17 (p. 782) August 21 2016

Introduction:

[These two guys went fishing, one younger guy and an old crusty fisherman. The young guy started to bait his hook when all of a sudden the old guy lit a stick of dynamite, threw it in the pond and covered his ears as the explosion ripped the air. The young guy watched as fish came floating to the surface…and he said, “What are you doing…that’s against the law!!!” The old guy lit another stick of dynamite…tossed it to the young guy and said “Son, you gonna talk…or are you gonna fish?]

Dynamite’s explosive stuff…it will change your attitude and your altitude, if you’re not careful…whether you’re fishing for fish…or fishing for man.

I say that because when Paul writes to the Romans and says “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation.” he uses the word “dunamis” for power…It’s the Greek word from which we get “dynamite.”

This word isn’t used to describe strong things. It’s used to describe “something which houses mighty, explosive power.” There is within the stick of dynamite the potential power to really shake things up…to move mountains.

And one of the most freeing things for those of us who are Christ followers is this…The power to save doesn’t depend on us…This mighty, explosive, saving power comes form God Himself.

It’s the very reason Jesus told His disciples after His resurrection, and just before His ascension back into Heaven.

“You will receive power (“dunamis”) when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

This was the gift they were to “wait for.” “It was the gift the Father had promised.” The gift Jesus had spoken about often.

With the Holy Spirit housed in their souls they would become “dynamite” fishermen, so can we!

For that to happen we must choose to let…

I. FAITH CONQUERS SHAME

Paul tells the Romans later on in his letter that “Faith comes by hearing the message of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

He asks this series of questions:

“How can people call on the one they have not believed in? How can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? How can they hear without someone proclaiming Him to them? How can anyone proclaim Him unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:14-15)

God has chosen people to be the instruments that communicate His good news of salvation to other people.

Not only has He provided the power to His children to know when to speak and what to say…He has provided the same Holy Spirit to be convincing the world that they need a Savior…It’s a two pronged attack…The Holy Spirit filling and guiding us as Jesus’ disciples, but at the same time He is “drawing lost people to see their need for a Savior.”

The two most difficult parts about this plan is we don’t know when He’s going to give us these opportunities…and we don’t know what He’s been doing in the lives of those we encounter. So we have two choices…be bold…be unashamed about the message of Christ…or be ashamed or complacent about opportunities “as we are going” daily.

Those who expect nothing powerful to happen usually aren’t disappointed…and those who are living outside the will of God are too ashamed to tell people they know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

[I learned the lesson of God’s preparation in other people’s hearts early in my Christian walk…my mom had been actively involved in a group called “The Lexington Christian Women’s Club” and they had monthly meetings…during the summer months they had a “youth meeting” for teenagers and their families. And she asked me to speak at this meeting just months after my conversion. During this meeting they always had special music…and a speaker. It’s hard for me to tell you how scared I was…I was genuinely terrified…so when I got there I met the guy who was doing the music…His name was David…and when I sat down next to him he asked, “What are you doing here?” And I then proceeding to tell him my whole story…my childhood, my rebellion, my struggle and my surrender…I look at David and he was crying so hard he could hardly breathe…the lady introduced him to play his trumpet…and he stood up still crying and said, “I can’t play…but you’d better listen to this guy, he just told me my life and the answer for it.” He sat back down and I shared my story, again.]

I have no idea what God was doing in David’s life before this day…but I know what He was doing in David’s heart on this day…and because I choose faith over fear I got to experience His power.

Let me show you a video I saw recently…it features a magician Penn Jillette. He’s part of a duo called Penn & Teller…He’s an avowed atheist…and some of what He does in his videos is an attack on God and the Bible…but not this one:

SHOW VIDEO, https://youtu.be/6md638smQd8

You can tell Penn Jillette was genuinely moved by the sincerity and courage of a believer who believed fervently in heaven and hell…who believed enough to share God’s Word in faith…a businessman who wasn’t crazy…just one who believed God’s power can save anyone…and that he could be the instrument to bring the good news. Penn Jillette is still an atheist…but this encounter changed his view of believers…maybe the door opened just a crack.

There’s a song by Greg Long called Fifteen and it says:

I was sitting at the table
As the waitress took our order
In her eyes I knew that something wasn’t right
And before I saw it coming
I was caught up in her story
Of the storms that she had weathered in her life
My friend said can we pray for you
She said I think I’d like you to
She walked away, we bowed our heads
But then he turned to me and said

If it takes fifteen times
To hear about Jesus
For someone to believe
Wherever I stand in line
I’ve got to make a difference
In case it comes down to me
‘Cause, I may be the third, may be the seventh
There may be years in between
But what if I’m fifteen
What if I’m fifteen

Just a chapter in a story
With the ending still unwritten
Do they find the truth of Jesus after all As I listen for the whispers
And I follow where they lead me
I pray that I’ll be faithful to the call
If I’m who I’m supposed to be
I know that God can work through me
I may not understand it now
But I believe somehow

If it takes fifteen times
To hear about Jesus
For someone to believe
Wherever I stand in line
I’ve got to make a difference
In case it comes down to me
‘Cause I may be the third, may be the seventh
There may be years in between
But what if I’m fifteen
What if I’m fifteen

God I don’t want to miss the chances
When you open the door
What may seem so insignificant
You see so much more

What if you or I are 15 but what if we’re too busy, caught up in our own world…what if we are too apathetic…too scared…too unbelieving in God’s providence and power? If so, we miss the chance, we fail to go through the door…we think it’s too insignificant…remember “The one who is faithful in the little things will be faithful in the big things” according to Jesus.

The essential question I’ll end with today is:

II. DO WE BELIEVE GOD CAN SAVE ANYONE? (AND DO WE CARE?)

Can God save a murderer? Can God save a stripper? Can God save a drug addict? Can God save a proud violent blasphemer? Did God save you?

Paul’s entire point with this scripture in Romans 1:16-17 is “Salvation is possible for everyone who believes.” Jew or Gentile…it doesn’t matter. God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel…and if it’s been powerfully revealed to you, then there’s no way you’ll be ashamed to share it.

So when we encounter people, do we allow our judgments about their value, worth, and ability to be saved be greater than God’s judgment about their value, worth and ability to be saved?

Do we see God’s power to be at work in us and others as a firecracker or a stick of dynamite?

Hebrews 7:25 says “Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through Him because He always intercedes for them.”

You know what that means right? He saves, and can save anyone totally…and He continues to work in our lives pleading our cases continually…now and until we get to heaven. BOOM!!!

It’s this powerful truth that fills God’s people with a message of hope…a message we should be willing to share courageously when the Holy Spirit opens the door…It’s why the Church will always be a hospital of grace instead of a clubhouse…We believe God can save anyone…and we care.

[Brennan Manning tells the story of a recent convert to Jesus who was approached by an unbelieving friend…

“So you have been converted to Christ.”

“Yes.”

“Then you must know a lot about Him? Tell me, what country was He born in?”

“I don’t know.”

“How old was He when He died?”

“I don’t know.”

“How many sermons did He preach?”

“I don’t know.”

“You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ!”

“You’re right…I”m ashamed at how little I know. But I know this: 3 years ago I was a drunk. I was in debt. My wife and children dreaded the sight of me…and my family was falling apart. But now I’ve quit drinking. We’re out of debt. I have a happy marriage and home. My children eagerly wait my return each evening. Jesus did all this for me. I know this much about Christ!”]

Our unashamed relationship with Jesus is often the most powerful message this world can hear.

Let’s pray.

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