REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED PART 2

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Removing Obstacles to Getting SavedWe 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.

2. Disabled

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?

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Removing Obstacles to Getting SavedLast 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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

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