REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
Last Sunday I preached on removing excuses to getting saved. This morning I’m preaching on “REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED” from Acts 24. There is a big difference between excuses and obstacles. Excuses are fake and God hates them. Obstacles are genuine questions about the gospel and the Holy Spirit wants to help us with them.
Acts 24:24-27 24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” 26 Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. 27 But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.
Overall Background: In Acts 23 Paul had been accused of causing trouble in Jerusalem and profaning the temple. To make matters worse, word was out that 40 Jewish men had taken a vow not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. Because Paul was a Roman citizen, he was brought to Caesarea to be tried before Felix the Governor. Paul was a man who believed that every situation was an opportunity to present the gospel. Instead of getting scared or becoming frustrated, he began to witness to Felix and, initially, it moved Felix. In fact, Felix even brought his wife Drusilla, a Jewish woman, to hear Paul.
Listen to verse 25 “Now as he (Paul) reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come…” Paul reasoned. Meaning: the faith we have is a reasonable faith. It’s not just an emotional faith, where people are swept away by their feelings. It’s not just a fashionable faith, where people jump on the latest trend and fad. It’s not even a spiritual faith, where people believe something that cannot be explained. Christianity is a reasonable faith. The gospel has logical, compelling, convincing, cogent reasons behind it. I Peter 3:15says, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”
Sadly, many Christians are not prepared to give reasons for the gospel. Tragically, many people are lost because someone failed to remove the obstacles for them to be saved.
Application: This morning, if you are lost, the Holy Spirit wants to remove some obstacles so you can be saved. Listen to His voice with an open heart and an open mind. If you are saved, let this be a learning opportunity for you. Learn to give reasons for the hope that is in you.
This morning we will look at 3 obstacles to getting saved:
OBSTACLE #1 – WHY SHOULD I TRUST THE BIBLE IF THE BIBLE HAS MISTAKES?
One time I was witnessing to a young man and I said – “The Bible tells us in John 3:16…” He interrupted me and said – “Why should I believe the Bible? Doesn’t the Bible have a lot of errors?”
Here’s the Answer – There are many passages in the Bible that at first glance seem to be a mistake. But when you study them more carefully with the right resources, you find that the Bible has no errors and no contradictions. Let me give you just 2 examples:
- In Mark 2:26 Jesus mentioned the incident where David was running from Saul. He said that David “went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest…” Only problem, when you look back in the Old Testament to I Samuel 21:1, the name of the High Priest in not Abiathar but Ahimelech. Hence, some people have claimed that not only the Bible has mistakes but also Jesus made a mistake.
What do you do with that? Abiathar was Ahimelech’s son, who became the high priest after Saul killed Ahimelech and the rest of his family. Abiathar was the only one who escaped. Listen again to how Jesus said it – in the days of Abiathar the high priest…” It means when Abiathar was living not when he was the High Priest. By the way, the larger section of the scroll was identified by the name Abiathar.
- In Mark 6:45 it says, “Immediately He (Jesus) made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida…” Only problem – in John 6:17 the disciples “got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum.” Was it Bethsaida or Capernaum? If the disciples were sailing from the east side of the Sea of Galilee, both Bethsaida and Capernaum were towards the North and Northwest.
For e.g. Driving towards Charlotte on I-85, there are signs that say “To Atlanta.” I don’t want to go to Atlanta but what the sign is saying is that we are headed south in the direction of Atlanta.
I can go on and on. At one time Bible critics used to claim that there were no such people called the Hittites (Genesis 15:20; Exodus 3:8, 17; Numbers 13:29; Joshua 1:4; Judges 1:26, etc.). They claimed that the Bible writer made up these mythical peoples. Toward the end of the 19th century, archaeologists uncovered Hittite monuments at Carchemish on the Euphrates River in Syria. In 1906, some more excavations at Boghazkoy in Turkey revealed thousands of Hittite documents. The Hittites were a real people who were powerful and dominated Asia Minor and the Near East.
Anytime I hear someone say – “the Bible has errors,” I know that the enemy is working behind the situation. He is using his oldest trick in the book. The very first temptation that Satan used in Genesis 3:1 was “Has God indeed said…” He caused Eve to doubt God’s Word. His tactic has not changed. He is still trying to do that. “How can you be sure that the Bible is God’s Word?” Before you dismiss this book as one riddled with mistakes, examine it carefully and you will find that it has no errors.
OBSTACLE #2 – HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD?
One time I was witnessing and someone said – “The Bible is a very interesting book. It has a lot of great historical information. It is also a great work of literature.” What really caught my attention is what this person left unsaid – “The Bible is God’s Word.”
Here’s the answer – The Bible is much more than a historical record and a literary masterpiece. It is a prophetic book. It is full of prophecies that have been fulfilled and prophecies that are waiting to be fulfilled. Human beings can do fortune telling but there is a big difference between prophecy and fortune telling. An example of fortune telling is “A handsome man/woman will come into your life.” Prophecy is exact, precise information that comes to pass in the future. Did you know that there are 1817 prophecies in the Bible – 1239 in the OT and 578 in the NT?
1. There are predictions in the Bible about kings, nations and cities.
For e.g. In Ezekiel 26 there is a remarkable prediction that the city of Tyre would be destroyed. The description was given in details. Through a Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar and a Greek emperor named Alexander the Great Tyre was destroyed.
2. There are predictions in the Bible about the Jewish people.
For e.g. Moses and Hosea predicted that the people of Israel would be driven out of their land because they had disobeyed God. It happened. Then Jeremiah predicted that they would return and they did.
3. There are predictions in the Bible about Jesus Christ.
For e.g. Prophet Isaiah lived 700 years before the coming of Christ and he gave prophecies about the coming of Christ. In Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Also, in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”
The meaning for “wounded” is “pierced through,” and “bruises” or “stripes” is “blows that cut in.” The Bible prophesied about the Roman crucifixion even before the crucifixion was invented by the Persians. Romans borrowed from the Persians and Rome did not even exist at this time.
What is my point? Although, human beings wrote this book, there was a divine hand behind them. 2 Peter 1:21 “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Before you dismiss this book as a history book or literature book, you need to recognize that it is a heavenly book.
III. WHAT IF I TRY TO DO GOOD LIKE THE BIBLE SAYS?
This is one that I come across more than any other – “We can learn a lot from the Bible about how to treat each other.” “I try to live by the Ten Commandments.” “I try to live by the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…”
Here’s the answer – The Bible does teach us a lot about how to treat our fellow human beings but the Bible is much more than a “do good book.” It is a rescue note. It gives us instructions on how to be saved.
#1 – We are trapped in sin. Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Our problem is our sinful nature. Mark 7:15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.
#2 – Jesus came to save us. Romans 5:8-9 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
It is a free gift. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
#3 – We have to make a decision to trust His sacrifice as our only hope. Romans 1:12-13 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
How do you receive Him? Romans 10:9-10 9 “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Have you received Jesus as your Savior?