FAITH YOU CAN BET ON

FAITH YOU CAN BET ON by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Faith You can Bet onThis morning we begin a brand new series titled, “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” I’ve never been more excited about a series than this one! This series will cover the entire life of Christ from all four gospels. The first message is on Luke 1:1-4 called, “FAITH YOU CAN BET ON.” Unlike all other religions in the world, Christianity alone is based on rock solid historical evidence. The proof is so overwhelming that, just like poker (Not that I am advocating playing poker), you can move all your chips into the pot. You don’t have to worry about any bluffs and look for any tells. Compared to all other faiths in the world, this is the real deal. Anything other than Christianity is a losing hand.

Luke 1:1-4   1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

Overall Background: In the New Testament there are 4 individual accounts of the life of Jesus – Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each of them is from a unique perspective. Matthew was a tax collector (a government official), Mark was a young man (imagine someone in their mid-late 20s), Luke was a medical doctor, and John had a fishing business. The Holy Spirit used their different personalities, experiences, and capabilities to give us a different angle on the same Jesus. He guided them and guarded them through the whole process. Listen to what Peter says in 2 Pet. 1, (By the way, tradition tells us that he was Mark’s source for his gospel.) 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. But then he clarifies in verse 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture (even the gospels are prophecies because prophecy is not just foretelling but also forth telling) is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. So different human beings but one Holy Spirit.

Now Luke does something in his opening lines that the other gospel writers don’t. He tells us the process by which he wrote his gospel. Even though Matthew, Mark, and John don’t tells us their process of research and writing, more than likely, they used a similar process.

Why did I choose to preach on this process of how the gospels were written? There is a myth, false belief, out there that the holy books of all religions came together the same way the Bible did. In other words, the way the Bible was written for the Christians is the way the Quran was written for the Muslims, the Gita for the Hindus, the Lotus Sutra for the Buddhists, and the Norse sagas for the early Scandinavians. It’s just that we happened to be born in a world where the Bible is prominent that we think the Bible alone is the Word of God. To say that is to be a bigot and ignorant.

I know some of you are saying – “Oh, I believe that the Bible alone is the Word of God.” That’s wonderful but your children and your grandchildren are living in a different world. They don’t necessarily think the way you do. Our young people are being told that all sacred books are on the same level.

This morning I am going to give you a glimpse of how the other sacred books where put together and then we will return to how the gospels were put together.

I. HOW OTHER “HOLY BOOKS” CAME TOGETHER?

1. AVESTA – The holy book of the Parsis or the Zoroastrians. It’s a religion that came from ancient Persia (Iran) somewhere around the 6th Avestacentury BC. It’s founder, Zoroaster, lived about the same time as Jeremiah and Daniel in the Old Testament. The Parsis had to flee their homeland because of Muslim persecution and many of them came to India and became very successful. You may have heard the name Zubin Mehta – a famous orchestra conductor. Here’s one I’m sure you have heard – Freddie Mercury from Queen (We are the Champions) was born into a Parsi family.

The Avesta is a collection of writings that came at different times in the history of Zoroastrianism. Some of them are from the early period written by Zoroaster himself. They are hymns or Gathas. Others are prayers and magic rituals. Some of the old writings are in an ancient language called Avestan, which is very hard to understand. In fact, many sentences make no sense. Others were written as late as the ninth century AD known as Pahlavi scriptures and there seems to be a conflict between the later stuff and the stuff that Zoroaster taught. By the way, scholars even estimate that approximately 75% of the Avesta has been lost.

This is the holy book of the Parsis or the Zoroastrians.

2. VEDAS, UPANISHADS, AND GITA – The holy books of the Hindus. Hinduism is a religion that has gone back and forth through various phases. You see monotheism (worship of one god), henotheism (worship of one god even though there are other gods), polytheism (worship of many gods), and animism (everything has a spirit so worship of animals, plants, rocks, rivers, stars, etc.) Bottom line – there is no core set of beliefs but part of being a Hindu means to consider the Vedas as holy books.

VedasLet’s start with the Vedas – There are 4 Vedas – Rigveda (1,028 hymns to gods of early Hinduism), Samaveda, Yajurveda (hymns of rituals and offering formulas), and Atharvaveda (magic formulas). Altogether, they are several times the size of the Bible. No one knows who wrote them. They were composed somewhere between 1500 and 800 BC and passed down orally until the sixteenth century. If you want to go back and check who wrote what for sure, you can’t. There’s nothing there!

There’s more – Brahmanas (instructions for the priests), Sutras (instructions for the people), and Upanishads (supplements to the Vedas). The last one (Upanishads) were written by wise men after 500BC. Again, nothing was written down until the 17th century.

How about the Gita? It is part of large epic called the Mahabharata that tells the story of the struggle between two branches of a family. It contains the conversation between Arjun and Krishna on the need to be totally devoted to Krishna and do his duty as a member of his caste. It was written somewhere between 400-100BC. Again, we don’t have any ancient copies.

These are the holy books of the Hindus (loosely speaking).

3. THE PALI CANON AND THE LOTUS SUTRA – The holy books of the Buddhists. The first one comes from the early stages of Buddhism known as Thervada Buddhism. The Pali Canon is also called Tripitaka or 3 divisions: rules for Buddhist monks, teachings of Lotus SutraBuddha, and some analysis of Buddha’s teachings. Even though it was formulated by Buddha’s disciples after he was gone, it grew through the centuries. The complete form came about 400 years later in the first century BC. So much has been added and taken away that no one knows what was originally there.

The Lotus Sutra comes from the later stage of Buddhism known as the Mahayana Buddhism. It supposedly contains Buddha’s teachings given towards the end of his life. Here’s the problem. It wasn’t put together until the 2nd century AD, that is 700 years after he lived. By the way, there are many contradictions between what the Lotus Sutra says that Buddha said and what the Pali Canon says.

These are the holy books of the Buddhists (loosely speaking).

4. QURAN – It is the holy book of the Muslims. I don’t have to give you a lot of introduction on Muslims and Islam. Since September 11, 2001, we have come to know this religion more than any other.

QuranSo what’s the deal with the Quran? It is claimed to contain material that Mohammed had received as revelation from the angel Gabriel. Some he gave at Mecca and others at Medina. These sayings were collected by his followers on whatever they could find – pieces of parchments, palm leaf, piece of wood, bones, etc. There were differences between what his followers wrote down. Not only that but some of them were killed in a battle a year after Mohammed’s death. Then Mohammed’ s most trusted secretary, Zayd ibn Thabit, was appointed to gather the material. Even then there were several different versions of the Quran floating around. Once again Zayd was called to edit an official version of the Quran and all other manuscripts were destroyed.

Many different branches of Muslims disagree over the integrity of the Quran. Many scholars have tried to point out the errors and they have been threatened by the Islamic clerics. By the way, there are also the Hadiths – they contain information on Mohammed’s life and informal sayings. They are used to shed light on the Quran. But there are many disagreements over them.

This is the holy book of the Muslims.

4. DAODEJING – The holy book of Daoism – Chinese popular religion. More than likely it was put together about 300 years after its founder had died. It has not much to do with Daoism but deals with how metaphysical balance brings about spiritual power.

5. KOJIKI, NIHONGI, AND AMATSU NORITO – The writings of Shintoism. It was put together in the 7th century by a man named Yasumaro under the command of the emperor.

6. NORSE SAGAS – The myths and mythologies of the Anglo-Saxons. There are no writings, except what were written down by the Christians.

7. GURU GRANTH SAHIB – The holy book of the Sikhs. It contains some 6000 hymns. It was collected by the 5th guru Arjan Dev about 1604 AD. About a hundred years later it was elevated to the status of a guru. The original copy is at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. It is treated as a person.

II. HOW WERE THE GOSPELS WRITTEN?

Listen once again to how Luke begins his gospel. This is one long Greek sentence with no stop. – 1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative

Meaning: I’m not the only one who has thought about writing a gospel. Maybe he is referring to Matthew and Mark but more than likely there were more. By the way, the “more” are not the Gnostic gospels – Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mary, and Gospel of Judas. These came much later. The gospels he’s referring to are probably lost forever. Did you also notice that Luke does not say “My gospel sets the rest of them straight”? They were telling the same historical account.

of those things which have been fulfilled among us,

Meaning: These were not random events. These were fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies. The gospel is not something new. It is an account of prophecies given since the beginning of time that have finally come to pass.

2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us,

Meaning: Luke is not 50 years or 100 years after Jesus. He is still able to talk to the eyewitnesses. If Luke were to write something untrue, those eyewitnesses will stand up and defend the truth.

3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,

Meaning: Literally, it is “having followed along closely.” This is no haphazard writing.

to write to you an orderly account,

Meaning: The product is no gibberish or some mystical stuff that no one understands. It is orderly.

most excellent Theophilus,

Meaning: There is much debate over who was Theophilus. Some say he was a real person and others say that he was just someone who was looking for the living God since Theophilus means “Lover of God.” Either way, it is clear that Theophilus was not looking for fluff. He wanted rock, solid truth.

4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

Meaning: Theophilus already has some good idea of who Jesus was and what He did. Luke wrote not just to inform but to confirm.

This is the Gospel that we have in our hands. It is the Word of God. No other book comes even close to being its equal.

This is the Book that says – John 3:16-17 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Are you willing to trust what this gospel says?

THERE IS ONLY ONE PLAN OF SALVATION

THERE’S ONLY ONE PLAN OF SALVATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

There is Only One Plan of SalvationNehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….this is what they said 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You. 7 “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You,
And made a covenant with him
To give the land of the Canaanites,
The Hittites, the Amorites,
The Perizzites, the Jebusites,
And the Girgashites—
To give it to his descendants.
You have performed Your words,
For You are righteous.

Overall Background: Nehemiah 9 is the record of the confession that the Jewish people made after they were saved. God had called them to influence the world but they had allowed the world to influence them. Now that they had come back to God, they were repenting of all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors and affirming all the right beliefs from God’s Word—

–       The first right belief: You alone are the Lord = “There is Only One True God.”

–       The second right belief: You made everything = “There is Only One Creator.”

–       Now we come to the third right belief in verse 7, “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him
To give the land.” Meaning: Of all the ancient Peoples, God chose a man named Abram, called him to leave his home and go to a new land, changed his name to Abraham, and made a covenant with him and his descendants. Why? Because his heart was faithful before God. In others words, Abram faithfully held on to God’s one and only plan of salvation. So God not only blessed him but also made him a channel to bring His plan of salvation into this world.

Application: This message is critical for all of us. In our world today people think that there are many ways to heaven/God—as long as you are a good person and help others, according to your religion be the best you can be, then God will let you into heaven. Even some well-meaning Christians think that there is no “one” plan of salvation but several based on where you grew up. Nothing could be further from the truth. The question for us this morning: Do you believe that Jesus is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life? Do you believe that the only plan of salvation is the cross of Jesus, where His blood dripped for our sins? If you believe that, are you telling everyone about Him?

There is Only One Plan of Salvation – 3 questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION?

 once again to the confession in verse 7 “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham;

Abraham StarsBackground: In that statement, they were looking back to the birth of their nation. God chose a Chaldean named Abram to leave his homeland of Ur and go toa new land of Promise. Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God even changed his name Abram, which meant “Father-Exalted” or “Father-Departed” to Abraham, which meant “Father of Many.”

All throughout their history, the Jewish people knew that they were God’s special chosen people. They knew that they were different. They knew that they were the “apple of His eye.” Every time things got difficult, God came through for them and protected them.

–       When there was a famine in the land, God sent Joseph before them.

–       When they were in slavery, God sent Moses to rescue them.

–       When they were facing the Midianites and the Philistines, God sent men like Gideon and Sampson, and women like Deborah to deliver them.

–       When they were facing a giant like Goliath, God sent David with a slingshot and a few pebbles.

–       And the list goes on and on.

Bottom line: God was always there for them. They were His people. But recently, things had not been so great for them. The Northern tribes had been taken into exile by Assyria and lost forever. The Southern tribe of Judah had been taken into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—who destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and everything. Unlike earlier times, God did not seem to have come through for them. Needless to say, this was a very low point in the history of the Jewish people. They felt abandoned by God; they even questioned if God had ever called Abraham.

For e.g. It was kind of like after the Holocaust (the Shoah) when six million Jewish people were systematically executed. Many Jewish people who survived questioned the existence of God and His call upon the Jewish people. Elie Wiesel in his book titled Night talks about the hanging of three Jewish people, one of them was a young boy. He writes, “One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains—and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel….All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips….The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses….“Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked….The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged but the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.”

Atheistic Jewish theologian Richard Rubenstein said: “More than the bodies of my people went up in smoke at Auschwitz. The God of the covenant died there.” – Auschwitz and Covenant Theology,” The Christian Century 86 (May 21, 1969)

Application: When people go through difficult times in life (like child abuse and loss of loved ones), they lose all faith in God. They tend to think that God has forsaken them; that there is no master plan; and that all is chance and circumstance. Even Christians go through such times. If I can tell you anything this morning it’s this – don’t forget in the dark what God has taught you in the light.

These Jewish people in Nehemiah’s time were now saved and they were coming back to the truth that God was still there and that they were still His chosen ones. The plan of salvation was still on schedule.

II. HOW ABOUT THE OTHER PLANS?

Background: When we talk about God calling Abraham and choosing the Jewish people, the question comes up – “How about the other peoples?” “Why did God reject them?” What about the other people in Ur of the Chaldeans and those peoples mentioned in verse 8—“the Canaanites,
The Hittites, the Amorites,
The Perizzites, the Jebusites,
And the Girgashites”? The answer to that question is found in verse 8You found his heart faithful before You.” Abram was faithful to God’s one and only plan of salvation—the promise that He was going to send a Seed. God was going to send a Savior who would give His life for the sins of the whole world. The rest of the world had either forgotten that promise or decided to create their own version of the promise.

Tower of Babel

In other words, human beings decided to build their own way to heaven. To understand this, you’re going to have to discard the evolutionary “monkey to caveman” idea of ancient people. We have been programmed to think that human beings evolved slowly out of slime. Instead, we need to look at the first human beings as created in the image of God—not brutes but highly intelligent people, with a great capacity to learn and retain knowledge.

After the Flood (More than 270 flood legends; Every ancient culture knows about it.), God told Noah and his sons, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:8) Instead, they decided to build a city, a tower, and a name. The city was Babylon and the tower was the Tower of Babel. This was a human attempt to get to God. It was a sun temple. Again, every ancient culture talks about this tower. Even some remote Pyramids WorldAfrican tribes talk about a tower built to reach the sun god. The Bible tells us that God dispersed them through confusion of speech. But wherever the people went, they took with them the idea of building ziggurats, pyramids, and mounds. You can find these structures all over the world from Egypt, China, Africa, and even America. When I was in Mexico, I saw one in the Yucatan, that hasn’t even been explored.

Abraham stood in the line of the faithful who chose to wait upon God’s promise of salvation.

Application: There is only one plan of salvation. You can’t get to God. God has to come down to you and save you. Those who are humble enough, like Abraham, receive the plan and are saved. Those who are proud reject the plan or do it themselves and are lost. It doesn’t matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. Which category do you fall in this morning?

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?

Because we believe that there is Only One Plan of Salvation:

The last line of verse 8 says—To give it to his descendants.
You have performed Your words,
For You are righteous.

–       The only true plan is the one that has come down through Abraham and his line through Isaac, Jacob, the Jewish people all the way to Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 4:22 “Salvation is of the Jews.” God is not biased against the Arab nations, or the Palestinians, or anyone else. God loves every nation, and every tribe, and every family. The gospel is to be preached unto all nations, and all peoples, races, and cultures. He has offered even the enemies of Israel his love.

–       There is only way our loved ones, friends, neighbours, and co-workers will get to heaven. It does not matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. No one can earn their way into heaven. You have to humble yourself and reach out and take hold of the hand of Jesus Christ reaching down to you.

WHILE THE CHURCH SLEEPS

WHILE THE CHURCH SLEEPS by Pastor Shah

(54th Annual 2012 Fall Session, Cullom Baptist Association, Henderson, NC)

To watch this message, please click here.

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Aldous Huxley (writer and thinker)

I want us to go back in time and look at what happens when the Church looses sight of the mission and the vision and gets caught up in the trivial. The results can be devastating.

THE RISE OF ISLAM & THE STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE 7TH CENTURY

The year is 582 AD – a 12-year old boy is with his uncle on a business trip to Syria. While there he sees churches and even meets a monk but he never hears the true gospel.

The year is 589 AD – a council is held in Toledo, Spain, known as the “The Third Church Council of Toledo. Three reasons for this council – First, the conversion of the Gothic King to true Christianity;  Second, 23 condemnations against anybody who followed Arianism (an old heresy); and Third, restrictions on Jewish people.`
The year is 632 AD – that same 12-year-old boy is now 63 years old. He met many Christians and he saw many churches; but he   never heard the true gospel. What he did see was contention and division. Instead he began a religion called Islam. In the process he killed many and even executed 600-700 Jewish people and had an army of 10,000. His last words on his deathbed were “Allah destroy the Jews and the Christians.”
A year later in 633 AD – Fourth Church Council of Toledo. The reason to meet – “How can we punish the baptized Jewish people   who have gone back to Judaism.”
The year is 636 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured the areas which are modern Iraq (Mesopotamia) and   modern Iran (Persia).
In the same year (636 AD) – Fifth Church Council of Toledo. One of the decrees at the council is that if anyone were to curse the king or plot against him, they would be excommunicated from the church.
The year is 638 AD – Arab armies under the banner of Islam have captured Syria, Jerusalem, and they are getting ready to capture Armenia
In the same year (638 AD) – the Sixth Church Council of Toledo meets. The reason to meet is to affirm the decrees of the Fifth Council and once again cursed anyone who would plot against the King. Also, some more restrictions against the Jewish people.
The year is 646 AD – A lot has happened. Arab armies have captured Egypt and Armenia and Asia Minor (Modern-day Turkey).   These were all Christian nations. Cosmas Indicopleustes (Alexandrian merchant and traveler) writes in his book that in the 6th century churches were scattered all over these areas.In the same year (646 AD) – the Seventh Church   Council of Toledo met. Once again treason was punishable by excommunication and if any pastor were to speak out – he would be disgraced and the only way he would get communion is if he were dying.
The year is 653 AD – Arab armies have entered North Africa (modern-day Libya, Tunisia, Algeria).
In the same year (653 AD) – the Eighth Church Council of Toledo met. Once again, the king wrote a book of all things he wanted the pastors to tell the people.
The year is 655 AD – Arab armies are busy capturing the Island of Cyprus.
In the same year (655 AD) – the Ninth Church Council of Toledo met. This was an interesting one – if any priest were to have a child by a woman (slave or free), that child would automatically be a slave of the church where his father served. Also, anybody who got converted had to pass the test of Christian festivals in the presence of the bishops to prove their faith. If they failed, they could be flogged or made to fast – depending on their age.
The year is 681 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured most of North Africa, Island of Rhodes (near Turkey),   parts of modern-day Afghanistan, and even parts of modern-day Pakistan.
By now there have been 3 more Church Councils of Toledo – 10, 11, and 12. Tenth (656 AD) – cannot sell Christian slaves to the Jewish people and one pastor had freed his slaves and distributed his money to the poor in his will – that was unlawful. Eleventh (675 AD) – bishops cannot buy their positions. If they did, then 2 years exile but they can keep their position. Twelfth (681 AD) – Jewish people could be persecuted by confiscating their things and you could use violence against your slaves.
The year is 702 AD – the Muslim armies (mixture of Arabs and North Africans) have destroyed the North African church –   Christians have been killed or enslaved. The Arabs claimed that they had to fight 10 wars to eradicate Christianity among the Berbers. There were as many as 3 million Coptic Christians and 5 million Berber Christians. Now the Muslim population is now 1 percent of the total population of the world. Since the last Church Council, there have been 6 Church Councils of Toledo (13-18). Topics of discussion have included treason against the King, doctrinal matters need to be believed and not discussed, and whether Christ had one will or two. Oh yes – Jewish people – we still don’t like them.
The year is 711 AD– Would you like to guess where the Muslim armies are standing? At the gates of Toledo.If it were not for a man by the name of Charles Martel who stopped the Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, all of Western Europe would have fallen into Muslim hands.

Why did I give you this history lesson?

  • To tell you that Islam is a threat? Not really
  • To tell you that we shouldn’t have Church Meetings? Not really.

What is the lesson from history?

  • When the Church loses sight of its mission and its vision, the repercussion can be devastating.
  • When the Church gets involved in the trivial and the frivolous, the consequences can change the course of history.
  • When the Church gets stuck in a rut and becomes complacent, lives are sentenced to Hell forever.

Did you know that it took over 700 years to retrieve the portion of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) back into Christian hands. Thousands upon thousands went to an eternity without Christ—to a place called Hell—because the Church failed to make a difference. Even after the Christians gained control back, it still does not mean that everyone was now saved.

We are standing at the place where the Church of Toledo stood 1400 years ago. We are at the same spot in history. Is Radical Islam the threat to our nation? I don’t think so. As long as we vote for a President who will build up our military and not cut it back, we will be fine.

What is the Biggest Threat to our Nation? LOSTNESS. Everyday men and women, boys and girls are driving past our churches and saying “Church is not for me.”

For e.g. At one time we used to hear – once young people go to college, they walk away from the church; then, we heard – once they become teenagers, they walk away from the church. Do you know the latest report? I was at an Apologetics conference and the latest statistic is that kids 9-12 years old are walking away from the church. Why? Because the church is no longer answering the questions they are asking. At school they deal with the real issues and, at church, they hear stories.

What is the Answer? Listen to what Paul said to the Church in Rome and to the Churches of all ages.

1. We need a sense of urgency.

Romans 13:11-14 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

We do not have the time to waste on the trivial. Some of the things that church people fuss about—no wonder we haven’t seen any lost souls saved in months. Our children and our grandchildren deserve better. We should be doing whatever it takes to win the new generation to Jesus Christ. We cannot afford to sit back and criticize the culture; we cannot afford to sit back and reminisce about the past; we need to get busy reaching our neighbors in Christ-honoring and relevant ways to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. We need to walk in Holiness.

12The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

There is no substitute to a life of holiness before God. We have become so much like the world that there is no difference between the church and the world. By the way, it has nothing to do with your hairstyle or music style. It is about your lifestyle. We get caught in the superficial and fail to deal with the seriousness of sin. God demands “truth in the inward parts.” We need to deal harshly with sin in our own lives.

3. We need to put on Christ.

14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Meaning: When we receive Christ as our Saviour, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ; but daily we put on Christ. Daily we remember that we are dead to ourself; it’s no longer we who live but Christ lives in us.  Let the world see Christ in and through us. Only Christ has the power to change lives. Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Application: People often say to me or ask me – “Do you think we are living in the last days?” Friends – I am not as concerned about whether we are living in the last days as I am about what if the world goes on! What if Christ does not return for another hundred or five hundred or a thousand years, what will our nation look like? Are we doing all we can to lead our children and grandchildren to face the challenges that our facing them? Are we leaving this world in a better state than we found it? Will our children and grandchildren thank us in heaven that we did all we could to help them come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, to have the Bible and Church vibrant, to have Biblical values and ethics intact for years to come. Will they look back at us and praise God that we were not asleep in the face of rising godlessness in our nation.

God has a secret weapon to handle this rise of godlessness in our nation.  They are all around us – on every street corner. They are the medium – small churches of our nation. What if every one of these medium-small churches come alive with gospel of Jesus Christ. What if our pastors make a commitment to burn their ships and stop running to the “greener grass churches” and plant themselves into their communities! We will have revival!

We are afraid of “sleeper cells” in our country. The real “sleeper cells” are the medium to small churches all across our land. Can you imagine what will happen if they wake up!

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