REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
We are in our 5th week of our series on salvation and guess what? Someone else got baptized! So here’s another message titled – “REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED.” As I’ve said before – There’s a world of difference between excuses and obstacles. God hates excuses but He welcomes obstacles. Excuses – crazy busy, one of these days, hypocrites in church. Obstacles – real questions, issues, struggles. He is more than willing to help us with them.
Acts 25:22-25 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” 24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” 25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.
Overall Background: Last week we saw how Paul gave a defense of his faith before Governor Felix. Sadly, all Felix could say was Acts 24:25 “…Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” He would listen to Paul but kept putting him off. Two years later, Felix was replaced by another governor and there’s no record that he ever got saved.
Now Paul is standing before another ruler, whose name was Festus. As Paul witnesses to him, listen to his response in verse 24…Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”
Application: When people are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they have one of two responses – either they humble themselves and submit or they get defensive and lash out. Festus became defensive and lashed out. How do you respond when the Holy Spirit confronts you with the truth? Do you submit or do you lash out?How did Paul respond? Verse 25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. The KEY WORD is REASON. Meaning: He kept giving reasons for the gospel. He kept removing obstacles to getting saved.
This morning I want to use this word as a launching pad to answer some more questions about Christianity. Just like Paul we will try to remove some more obstacles to getting saved.
OBSTACLE #1 – HOW ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL?
When someone makes that statement, they are talking about either babies/children or people with medical conditions or even people who have died.
1. Babies and children
There is an incident from the life of David that sheds light on this matter. After Nathan had pronounced God’s judgment upon David that because of his sin of adultery and murder, the child would die, David began to fast and pray. Sure enough the child died. Instead of continuing in grief, listen to 2 Sam. 12:20-23 20So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
The point – David had the assurance that he would see his child one day in heaven.
Those who are not physically and mentally capable to receive the gospel are covered by the grace of God.
Psalm 86:15But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
3. Already Dead
I’ve had people ask me about loved ones who are dead that they’re not sure about. This is a tough one because they feel like they are betraying them by talking about going to heaven while their loved one has gone to hell. I tell them trust God’s providence. Could it be that they received Christ as Savior as a child in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. Could it be that someone shared with them the truth. Could it be that they lost their way and never shared with anyone, even you, that they knew Jesus Christ as their Savior. Even in a comatose state they can hear. You make sure that you’re saved. Don’t jeopardize God’s plan for your life. Your loved one might be in heaven hoping you would join them.
Matthew 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
So what about people who cannot receive? Trust God’s grace and providence.
OBSTACLE #2 – HOW ABOUT THOSE WHO’VE NEVER HEARD THE GOSPEL?
This is one that I often hear – “If Jesus is the only way, why is it that some people have never heard the gospel?” In other words, “why would God punish someone for never hearing the truth?” That’s unfair!
For e.g. If I was going through a foreign country and I do something illegal, not knowing that it was illegal, is it right for me to be punished for it?
That question implies that people everywhere are dying to know Jesus Christ. Not true.
Did you know that even when Jesus was on this earth, many people rejected Him?
John 6:61-66 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this (his teachings about the coming cross), He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
Can you believe that? God in flesh came to people and they rejected Him. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
We have a very naïve understanding of people. We think they are all innocently trying to live a decent life. Not true. People are just as sinful there as they are here. It’s just that things make the news here. People reject God here for the same reason they reject Him there. They don’t want to let Him lead their lives. They want to be the Boss of their lives.
What happens when a person is willing to open his/her heart to the gospel? Then God sends someone with the gospel. Somehow they hear the name of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the coordinator who connects an open heart with an obedient heart. He is the dispatcher who, when He sees someone open to the gospel, sends someone else with the good news. That’s called Missions.
Paul was a missionary. Listen to Acts 26:19-20 19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Application: Is God calling you to go on a mission trip? It is because there is someone somewhere who is searching for the truth.
So what about people who’ve never heard? 1. Most don’t want to hear. 2. For those who do want to hear God sends His people to bring them the good news – that’s missions.
OBSTACLE #3 – HOW ABOUT THOSE GOOD PEOPLE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPEL?
This is another one that I often hear – Do you mean to tell me that just because Gandhi did not believe that Jesus is God’s Son and received Him as his Savior that God will send Gandhi to hell? That’s just not possible.
That statement implies that we know the true condition of the heart of a person. We don’t. What we see is the outside – the veneer.
I’m not here to judge whether Gandhi will be hell. That’s not for me to decide. What I can tell you is that except for Jesus Christ there has never been a righteous person on this earth. There might be a lot of good people but not righteous people.
Listen to Romans 3:10-12 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
There are people who are trying to get to heaven based on the good they have done. If you could get to heaven by your good, then Jesus did not have to come and die on the cross for your sins. Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
So how about good people who do not believe in Jesus? They may be good but they are not righteous.
INVITATION: Did the Holy Spirit just remove your obstacle to getting saved? What will you do now? Felix procrastinated, Festus called him mad, and there was another king by the name of Agrippa – Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE?