In this message, we learn five steps on how to follow Jesus and make Him Lord.
Alright, good morning and welcome to Valley Creek Church. We want to give a big welcome to our Denton Campus and everybody online. We are so glad that you guys are here with us and if this is your first time at Valley Creek Church, welcome, we’re glad that you’re here. And today what we’re doing is we’re finishing up our series called “How”. For the past few weeks together, we’ve been getting really practical and talking about how do we do some specific thing on our journey with Jesus and we’ve said that we often use a lack of understanding as an excuse for a lack of obedience. So we’ve been getting some great understanding. We’ve been releasing some spiritual momentum in our lives as individuals to get things in motion so they stay in motion, and hopefully you’ve been applying this to your life. And let me just remind you of where we’ve been. We started the first week and we talked about how to forgive from the heart. And in the second week, we talked about how to overcome temptation. The third week, we talked about how to feed our selves from scripture, how to engage the word for ourselves. And then last week we talk about how to deal with discouragement.
And in four weeks, I give you 22 points and six sub points. Okay?
So all you practical people, you love it. You better have enjoyed every bit of that because we’re going to go back to normal reality around here next week. So that’s where we’ve been and that’s what we’ve talked about. And I want to finish this series today with the most important “How” that there is, How to follow Jesus. How to become a Christian? How do you become saved? Who or what is a Christian? Like what makes us Christians? Are we Christians because we’re Americans? Are we Christian because we’re Texans, maybe that’s better, we’re Christians because we’re Texans. Is it because we’re in church, because we’re moral people, because we’re do-gooders, and then who is this Jesus? Is he a lottery ticket? Is he a vending machine? An insurance policy? A ticket to heaven? I’m not so sure we always know the answer to those things, and so it can be really confusing especially into our students who are growing up to follow Jesus and then they hear other people say they’re Christians but their life doesn’t look anything like with Jesus
You know invites us to, and so I kind of want to bring some clarity to that today. And so if you’ve got a bible, turn with me to Matthew 7 and Acts Chapter 2. Matthew 7 and Acts Chapter 2, and we’re going to walk through the gospel together and so here’s what I’m just going to ask, I’m going to ask from this point forward if we could eliminate all of our distractions, make sure your phones are turned off, and if for any reason you need to get up and leave today we would just ask that you would stay out for the rest of the service because we don’t want you to distract somebody who may hear the gospel for the first time and have the opportunity to step from death to life. Okay? So can we do that? Can we honor the environment and honor each other in the midst to that?
Yes, we can do that. We can honor each other. Okay.
And so, I’m just going to tell you right upfront, this is going to be a little bit more sobering, it’s going to be a little bit more reflective, but that’s a good thing sometimes, this is in extremely life-giving message.
And if you hang with me, I’m going to walk you through two passages, give you some points and then tell you my story and by the end I believed it’s going to breathe life into your heart. Matthew Chapter 7, sermon on mountain, Jesus said at the end, he says some really hard things, here’s what He says, Verse 13, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and only a few find it. Jesus tells us there are two roads and two gates. There’s a wide road with a broad gate and there’s a narrow road with a small gate. And he says many people are on the wide road and only a few people are on the narrow roads. In other words, Jesus tells us that hell and heaven are realities. And that every single person on this earth is in one of two roads, you’re either on the road to destruction or you’re on the road to life. There is no in-between, you don’t get just travel both roads, your feet aren’t in both camps, you’re on one road or the other, the wide one or the narrow one.
And we believe that Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to a wide life. John 14:6, He says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” He is the narrow road and the small gate but when we enter into it, we find an incredibly wide life. We get to enter into the Father’s heart and all he has in stored for us. And what Jesus is telling us in this passage is that many are on the road to destruction. In other words, there are more people on the road to hell than on the road to heaven. That’s why we do everything we do the way we do it around here. That’s why we invite people to church, that’s why we give, that’s why we serve, that’s why we honor each other. That’s why we give by about preferences, that’s why we become leaders even when we don’t feel like being a leader because more people are on the road to hell than are on the road to heaven and Jesus invites us to help them get a detour. Come on, Jesus invites us to help them get detour, right? I mean Jesus says the harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. That’s means there’s a whole lot of people on the road to destruction but there’s only a few people who are trying to help them detour off of that road onto the road of life.
The question is are you involved in the harvest at all? Trying to help people get a detour. He goes on Verse 15, “Watch out for false prophets, they come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them”. Jesus says, you can tell who Christians are by fruit that’s been produced in their life. A good tree will always produce good fruit and a bad tree will always produce bad fruit. A pear tree can’t produce bananas and an apple tree can’t produce oranges. A bad root will never produce good fruit.
And so what he’s telling us is that we can determine whether or not we are on the road of life, whether or not we’re really saved and following Jesus based on the fruit in our lives. He tells us to be fruit inspectors. We can’t judge each other’s hearts but we can certainly inspect the fruit in our own lives and in the lives of the people around us. He says Christians will be known by their friend. You see every single one of those when we come to this earth when we’re born we all start with a bad root and we’re bearing bad fruit. No one is right, the bible tells us, “All have sinned and fallen short the glory of God.” But when you met Jesus and you become saved, he changes your root and you now start to produce good fruit. And you say, “Well good fruit, what is that look like?” Well just think of the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Or you could look at the times when Jesus says, “This is how you will know if you’re my disciples.” He says, “By our love, by our obedience and by our engagement in the mission of God.”
He doesn’t say, look for perfect doctrine, he doesn’t say look for a sinless life, he doesn’t say look for religious behavior he says look for good fruit. So the question is, is if you had to inspect the fruit in your own life today would you find good fruit or bad fruit? Because that will tell you whether or not you’re really following Jesus, according to him. And then he goes on in verse 21 and this is hard, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, away from me you evildoers.’” Remember, Jesus is talking to a religious crowd here. He’s talking to people who are trying to do the right thing, you have good behavior, who are moral people and they show up to hear Jesus teach and they have pride in their works. They bring their works and they’re proud of them but remember, Ephesians 2:8-9, “For you have been saved by grace, through faith, this is not of yourselves, not by works so that no man can boast.
What Jesus is saying here is it really doesn’t matter what you do, what matters is what he has done. And a whole lot of people show up and they say, “Yeah, look at all of these things, I have done for Jesus,” and He says “Yeah, but that doesn’t matter.” It doesn’t matter that you say, Lord, Lord, what matters is if your heart is submitted and surrendered to Him as Lord. That’s the difference. And so what he’s saying is that there’s a whole lot of people that sit in church every single weekend that think they’re on the road of life because of their behavior but they’re actually on the road to distraction because they’ve never made him Lord in their heart. I mean just think about it, think about Judas. I mean Judas is one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Judas casted out demons, he heals the sick, he opens the eyes of the blind, he preaches the kingdom of God but Judas wasn’t saved because the bible tells that Judas was failed with the devil. Think in the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the do-gooders of the day, the religious people, they had good behavior, they were trying to do the right thing, they get a bad rap. They were trying to do the right thing but the bible tells us, they were far from God. Jesus was Lord with their mouth but not in their heart or how about this verse, Isaiah 4:1, “In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, ‘we will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name.’” You say, what does that verse mean?
That verse describes American Christianity in my opinion. Seven women will take a hold of one man, and say “We’ll eat our own food, provide our own clothes, only let us be called by your name.” In other words, we’ll do our own thing, take care of ourselves, provide our own way to heaven, only let us be called by your name. Let us be called a Christian but we don’t really want anything to do with Christ. I think unfortunately that defines American Christianity, and so the question then we have to ask ourselves is, how do we get on the narrow road produce good fruit and make Jesus Lord in our lives?
So, if you’ve got your bible, flip over to Acts 2. Acts 2, and let me walk you through this and just show you really simply how you can be saved. How you become a Christian. Acts chapter 2, this is the first time, the gospel is preached, Jesus has been crucified, he’s buried in the ground, he raised again from the dead, he poured out his spirit. The disciples now stand up, they’re preaching the gospel for the first time. And there’s something in the bible called the “Law of First Mention.” The first time something is mentioned in the bible, there’s always something extra significant around it. So this is the first time the gospel has been preached since Jesus has been resurrected from the grave, so there’s something significant here. So pick it up with me in Verse 36, here is what it says. And Peter taking to the crowd, it says, “Therefore, let all of Israel be assured of this, God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” And other words, how shall we be saved?
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom our Lord God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3,000 were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”. Okay, he tells us really simply how do you follow Jesus? How do you become a Christian, five points for you, this is incredibly important because this is the gospel. This is eternity. The tension you feel in the room is because eternity creates tension in our hearts but Jesus has resolved that tension for us. Okay? So here is what you need to know. Number one believe, believe.
Believe, it’s all you have to do. Verse 37 and 38, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do? How will we be saved?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’” Peter’s preaching and it says the people were cut to the heart. What does that mean? It means the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, convicted them of their sin. In that moment they’re convicted that they’re sinners in need of a savior, which is what the Holy Spirit does. John 16:8 when he, the Holy Spirit comes, “He will convict the world of guilt in regard sin, righteousness and judgment.” It goes on but here’s what you need to know, the Holy Spirit convicts sinners of sin. He convicts Christians of their rightness, their right standing with God and he convicts all of us that Satan has already been judge and condemned and defeated. That’s what the Holy Spirit does, he convicts sinners of their sin, their need for a savior, he convicts Christians of their righteousness of they are now are in Christ.
And He convicts all of us that Satan is already ben judged and defeated, condemned that he’s no longer a treat to our lives because he’s been taken care off. And so what the Holy Spirit does is he draws you, he woes you, he opens your eyes. He shows you your need for a savior which is why we talk about the presence of God around here all the time, so the presence of God is the greatest evangelistic tool in the face of the earth. I mean the presence of God is poured out and because the presence of God is, people are exposed by with their sin and they realize they need a savior. So I always say, worship is so important because when God comes we don’t have to tell people they’re sinners, the Holy Spirit is really good at his Job and he’ll do it for us and all the sudden they’re like brothers, “What shall I do?” And you say, believed, believed in what? Believed in Jesus and his finished worked. Believe that he is who he says he is and that he did what he said he did. That he is the son of God that came to this earth and lived a perfect sinless life.
Lived a life you couldn’t live. Went to cross, took the penalty the payment for your sins, was beaten , mocked for, put a crown of thorns on his head, nailed to a cross and in that moment he took all of your shame, your sin, your brokenness, your failure, took the wrath of God so the love of God could be poured out on you. Died, was buried in a tomb, rose again three days later, poured out his spirit and that all who believed in him shall now live.
Romans 10:9, that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, you shall be saved.” Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation for all who believe, if you believe the gospel has the power to save you.” John 1:12, “Yet to all who received him, to all who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” We all start on this live and the road of destruction and Jesus says that were orphans and Satan is our father. John 8, you can read it on your own. But when we believe in him we change roads and we come on the road of life, we become adopted as beloved sons and daughters and we now had a good heavenly father.
Romans 3:22, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe”. Believe not by works but by belief in what Jesus did. You see way too many of us, we walk around and we think this, we think, “I just want what I deserve.” No you don’t.
You actually don’t. I know you think you do but you really don’t. Romans 6:23, it say, “The wages of sin is death”, death, physical death, spiritual death, emotional death, relational death, eternal death, that’s what we deserved. Which is what makes grace so great because for the wages of sin is death but the gift of God through Christ Jesus, and the gift of – what is it, put it up there for me, I’ve got to many verses in my head today. For the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s what makes grace so great. I mean John 3:16, you know this. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever” – say it with me – “believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.” Listen to me. People are not going to hell because of their sin. They’re going to hell because of unbelief. No one is going to hell because of sin because all sin has been atoned for. 1 John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” When Jesus died he paid for all sin for all mankind, for all time past, present and future, things you haven’t even done yet were paid for on the cross and Jesus Christ that the all sin has been atoned for. We don’t go to hell anymore because of sin, we go to hell because of our unbelief that we don’t believe he is who he says he is and did what he said he did. So believe. Second thing, is this, you’ve got to confess and repent. Confess and repent, verse 38, Peter replied, repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
You actually have to confess. You have to confess that you’re a sinner in need of a savior. This is called acknowledgment, ownership, responsibility, humility, brokenness, taking responsibility for the things you’ve done in your life. And saying, I confess that I was wrong and resistance God and did these things and I need help. And it’s not that God needs us to confess, we need to confess because we bring it out of the darkness into the light, we disarmed Satan and here what’s 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. So we’ve got to confess but we also have to repent. Repent, laterally means change your thinking. If you’ll change the way you think it will change the way you live. We need to repent. I mean Jesus’ main message when he showed up on this earth is Matthew 4:17, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent, change your thinking.
The superior reality has come, the Kingdom of Heaven is showed up, heaven has coming to earth, live within that reality now, no longer this dysfunctional reality of which you have been living in. Jesus says repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He didn’t come to preach, God has a really good plan for your life. Be really religious, make sure you’re in church every week, you awe me. That’s nowhere in there. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at end. In other words, get out of alignment with the kingdom of darkness and get into alignment with the Kingdom of God. And it’s His kindness the bible tells us that leads us to repentance. Some of you are here today for no other reason that his kindness has been drawing you unto himself. You’re not driven by expectation, you’re drawn by kindness, and when we repent, things actually change. Luke, 3:8 says produce fruit in accordance with repentance. And so if you want to say, what does it really look like to repent? Well, when you really repent there’s fruit, if you change the way you think it changes the way you live.
A new creation always leads to a new lifestyle. So confession and repent. Third thing is this, you’ve got to receive the Holy Spirit. Verse 38, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The moment you believe in Jesus, you confess and repent, the Holy Spirit comes into your life. And Ephesians 1 tells us that you were included in Christ, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having believed, that’s all you have to do, believe, you are marked in Him with seal, the promised Holy Spirit who was deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of His glory. The moment you believe the Holy Spirit comes inside of you and it is a deposit guaranteeing your salvation. We want to get into this question, once saved always saved, can I lost my salvation? That’s a stupid question, it’s the wrong question ask. The right question is, “Did I believe, did I confess and repent and did I received the Holy Spirit? If he’s in me then he is the deposit guaranteeing my salvation and I never have to question it again.”
The Holy Spirit.
I’m really sorry if that’s your question and I just called its stupid. That was not the intent of that. I’ll get to that later as I keep going. I’m trying to help us get some of the religious baggage out of our brains because religious baggage keeps you from understanding the gospel. Okay? Listen, the Holy Spirit – you make so many jokes but I’m not going to.
The Holy Spirit is not a one-time event or a secondary experience, it’s a lifestyle. When the disciples got saved, John 20:22, the resurrected Jesus, he said he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit,” that’s their moment of salvation. Holy Spirit comes inside them, they believe, they’ve confessed and repentance, they now have the Holy Spirit they’re saved but in Acts 2, they get filled with the Holy Spirit. And Acts 4, they get filled with the Holy Spirit. You read throughout the book of Acts they keep getting filled with the Holy Spirit, you read the apostles they keep getting filled with the Holy Spirit.
So it’s not a one-time event or a secondary experience, it’s a lifestyle of constantly being refilled with the spirit of the living God. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk on wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” You only know something’s filled when it’s overflowing. If I have a glass of water sitting here, we can only agree that it’s filled when it’s falling over the top. And at any point in time, you can put something in there and it displaces the water so it’s no longer filled. We can put all kinds of things inside of us that displace the Holy Spirit so we’re no longer filled. So the question is everyday we wake up and say, Holy Spirit, fill me fresh today. I need a fresh feeling of you. The Holy Spirit is not weird. He is the power and character of Jesus in your life. He is the gift of God Himself now dwelling in you. And so, for those of you that want to know what’s the bear minimum like, all I want to know is what do I need to do to get to heaven, okay?
Here’s the line right here. You have to believe, you have to confess and repent and receive the Holy Spirit. You do those, you’re on the narrow road, you’re going to make it into heaven. Good news for you. Think of the thief on the cross. He believed, he confessed and repented. Jesus says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise”. This is all you need, this is the bare minimum. You don’t have to do anything for God because he did everything for you. However, if you really believe, confess and repent, received the Holy Spirit, you can’t help but do this next two things. In fact, these next two things are the evidence that you really do believe and are full of the spirit, because the spirit will always lead you to these next two things which are be baptized. Be baptized. Peter replied, verse 38. “Repent and be baptized every one of you.” And then verse 41, “Those who accepted His message were baptized and about 3,000 were added to their number that day.”
Baptism is not a salvation issue but it certainly is an evidence of that I really do believe and I’ve repented and I’m now walking with Him. That’s where the spirit will lead me. Baptism is an outward symbol of an inner change. And there’s always three things in the bible. Every time somebody gets baptized in the bible, it’s these three things, it’s always full immersion, so it’s going all the way under the water and back up because it’s saying I’m a part of the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. He died not only for me but as me. Now I rise to a new life in Him. So it’s always full immersion, it’s always after conversion. It’s always after you have by faith believed and received Jesus for yourself which is why it can’t happen to you as an infant, because as an infant if your parents do that for you, it was their choice not yours. You haven’t yet believed and received and confess and repented. So it’s always at this point of understanding. So it can be a child that has a full understanding of the gospel or a student or an adult, but it can’t be as a baby because you have to make the choice.
It’s always after salvation after conversion and it’s always an immediate response. It’s not when grandma gets in town because He’s got nothing to do with grandma, it’s about obedience in walking with Him. And a great example is the Israelites.”400 years of slavery, God shows up the pass-over, picture of the cross of Jesus, the land that was slain. He sets them free and then at moment, they’re saved.” Egyptian Pharaoh, the bondage of the world, Satan, the picture of Satan is destroyed. The people are free. And so they’re saved and they’re following God and they get to the red sea and all of the sudden, Pharaoh and Egypt wants the people back so they started chasing them down. And the people have one or three choices, they can follow God by faith through the waters of the red sea symbolizing baptism or they can go back to bondage, or they can stay and fight the battle that God has already won. They can stand there for the rest of their life and fight Pharaoh and the Egyptian army that God has already defeated and said has already been destroyed because they don’t have the faith to walkthrough the waters of baptism.
But God says, “If you’re walking through the water as baptism, your past will chase you into that water, it will be swept away and it won’t bother you anymore. A lot of us spend our lives fighting battles God has already won for us. If you’ve been saved, you believe in Jesus those three things but you haven’t been baptized, that’s your next step. And if that’s you, we’re doing baptisms next week and as soon as service is done go right to the information center and say, “My next step is to be baptized. I’m done fighting battles God has already won. I want to by faith walk through the waters of baptism.”
And for whatever it’s worth, I had a guy last night that said to me, he said, well, I haven’t feel like I’m spiritually – I haven’t like proven my spiritual worth yet to do that. You’re missing the whole point. That’s – you’re fighting – you’re right now fighting the battle that God has already won. It’s not about you, it’s just about by faith following Him and the thing will chase you and then it will be gone. Okay. Be baptized and then the last thing, make Jesus Lord. Make Jesus Lord. Verse 42, they, the people that just got saved devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching to the fellowship to the breaking of bread and through prayer.
All of a sudden, Jesus is Lord. These are people who just a few minutes earlier didn’t know anything about Jesus, they genuinely get saved and now they become devoted which literally means to continue to do something with intense effort despite difficulty. They got together. And if you read the rest of those verses which we loved to talk about in church, they had miracles, they were generous, they met together, they were in small groups, got added to their number daily. But it’s because these people made Jesus Lord. They submitted and surrendered to the things they didn’t want to do but they knew Jesus was asking them too. Like they inconvenience themselves and got out of their comfort zone to get in a group, to become generous, to work on their marriage, to forgive one they didn’t want to. When you really get saved, Jesus becomes Lord. You’ll loose the right to determine the direction of your life because He has bought and paid for you with a price.
1 Peter 3:15, “In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.” Psalm 25:4, “Show me your ways. Teach me your paths.” Jesus becomes Lord, you start taking next steps and you walk with Him. He who has been forgiven much loves much.” And His grace will give you the desire and the power to obey, Jesus becomes Lord. Okay. Is that makes sense to you? Now, let me illustrate this for you with my story. I grew up in a Christian home. Every Sunday, we were in church and we sat on those really hard wooden pews, anybody know I’m talking about? Which every week when I sit in these nice comfy chairs it makes me so grateful for the day, you put little tushy in there and it’s just great, it’s wonderful. And I mean I did the whole thing, right? Flannelgraph boards and vocation bible school, none of our students know what flannelgraph boards are. That’s okay. I’m getting old. But flannelgraph boards, vocation bible school and church choir and church place, I did it all and I’m telling you, I must have gotten saved at least a thousand times in my church.
Really, a thousand times? Every time the Evangelist came in town or the Sunday school teacher or the preacher at the end of message and he’s angry and he starts talking about – I mean I’ve got saved every time because fear was my motivator. I was terrified of going to hell. And they would ask those questions like, “If you are standing before God and His kingdom. And He said why should I let you into my heaven, what would you say?”
For some reason, God always sounded like Darth Vader, I don’t know why.
Luke, my name is John. I don’t know the answer to the question. You know. Or if you were driving home today and you got in a car wreck and you died, do you know where you would go? No. What do I need to do? And so I’ve got saved a thousand times. I would always get saved. Every time, raised my hand, whatever I got to do, I just would get saved and then I would live.
And I would live a life of sin that week and then I’d feel really bad and I’d come back and I get rededicated the next week. If I got saved a thousand times, I got rededicated 10,000 times. You know what I’m talking about? Some of you, if you don’t you are in – you’re so good that you don’t, if you don’t know what I’m saying. You’re spared of that problem. So that was the real. I got saved but I didn’t change. I did what I wanted to, when I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it. And everybody in my life told me I was saved. They said, “Men you prayed the prayer, you’re saved.” “You don’t give your parents problems, you’re saved.” “You are moral kid, you’re saved.” The problem is according to Jesus, there was bad fruit in my life and I wasn’t really saved. And so I went off to college, did what I wanted to do for four years, lived how I wanted to live because somebody told me, I prayed a prayer so I’m good. I didn’t think twice about God, graduated college. And when I graduated college my whole work fell apart. Sometimes it takes getting to the end of yourself to find the beginning of life.
Sometimes, you have to hit rock-bottom to understand that Jesus is the rock that’s at the bottom. And so for me, my whole world fell apart in about six months. I had an incredibly painful break-up I wasn’t expecting. I totaled two brand new jet skis, t-boned my best friend, put him into the hospital. I ended up in the emergency room three different times. I got shot with a nail gun, I shot myself unintentionally, probably need to tell you that part.
I watched the lady crashed her car and I run there and I was the first one to get to there and I held her. And the top of her head was missing and I held her as she died. I mean graphic stuff but my life fell apart and I was angry. I was bitter, I was offended, oh and I was so tired of religion. Religion is a cruel master. It’s a cruel master. It tells you try harder, behave better, do more, jump higher, run faster, go further. It tells you to do things you can never do. So you always feel exhausted and you always think it’s about you. I was tired of religion.
So, I made an ultimatum with God. I said God here’s the deal. I’m going to give you six months. I’m going to seek you for six months. If you’re real you can have the rest of my life, if you’re not I’m done. I’m done with all of it. Wisdom would say don’t make an ultimatum with God.
That’s not what I would tell you to do, but that’s what I did. And so for six months I just though God, I read everything I could, I engaged the scriptures, I went to every church service, every small group, every person that was walking with Jesus I could, and I was just a flat out jerk during that season. I mean I always asking people those questions like if God’s a good God why do babies die? If God’s a good God why is there is cancer in the world? If God really wants to be in relationship with me, why can’t I hear his voice? I mean, I was just asking those questions that no one is going to be able to logically give you a satisfactory answer. And one night I was sitting in my room, I was reading the bible, I got to Deuteronomy 29:29 it says, “The secret things belong to the Lord but the things revealed belonged to us.” And it was the first time I heard God speak. He met me where I was at, just what he’ll do for you.
And he said, “Johnny, you’re asking questions about my secrets that I’m not going to give you the answers too, but I’ve already revealed whole lot of things to you, that’s what I want you to be focused on.” And I don’t know how to explain it to you anyway than this. That’s when I actually got saved. I believed, I confessed and repented, I received the Holy Spirit and everything change, my desires, my thoughts, my attitudes, my actions, my behaviors. No, I didn’t become perfect over night but everything changed. You see my great concern for American Christianity is this, we have the story where we say, I got saved, but I didn’t changed. And maybe that’s your story. I got saved but I didn’t change. I was at a kid’s camp or at a youth group or a Billy Graham crusade or men’s event and man I was motivated in that moment to not go to hell and was emotionally moved. So I raised my hand, prayed a prayer, I got saved but I didn’t change.
It wasn’t until years later when I rededicated my life that thing’s actually began to change. Okay, well, if you say I got saved but I didn’t changed then that’s not one you got saved, because if you got saved but you didn’t changed, think of how powerless you just made the gospel. You said drastically inferior gospel that says, it can take you to heaven but it can’t change you? You can’t say I got saved but I didn’t change. It’s biblically inaccurate. I mean so many of us have bought into this whole thing that you just need to pray a prayer and you’re going to heaven. Okay, guys, time out. Acts 2, first gospel preached, Peter didn’t say anything about praying a prayer. He didn’t say sign a card, raise your hand, come to the front. I’m not saying there’s any wrong with that but I’m saying if you think that’s it, you’ve missed it. So maybe for a whole lot of us we raised our hand to sign a card, pray a prayer, we think praying a prayer, it’s really about us, it’s an insurance policy when I walk out the door, it’s not repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
So I’m convinced that there are thousands of people that are on the road to destruction that think they’re on the road to life because somebody told them you prayed a prayer, you’re going to heaven. Jesus says no. That’s why it’s tense in here today because I got to help you reconcile that truth. Same would like nothing better for our people to think. Man, I’m good, and Jesus said, look at the fruit. When you get saved you changed. I mean think about it like this, Jesus says, “To enter the kingdom of heaven, you must be born again,” right? Born again, what does that mean? Think about like this. When a baby is born, physically there’s a process. There’s three phases, conception, pregnancy and birth. When a baby is born, a seed is conceived, there’s pregnancy for nine month, there’s growth before the birth then the baby is born. And ask any mom in the world, when that baby is born, everything changes.
Everything changes. So when Jesus says, you must be born again, there’s a conception phase, a pregnancy phase and a birth phase. So with that youth camp, with that kid’s thing, at that Billy Graham crusade, at that thing where you say, I got saved but I didn’t change, that was conception. A seed was planted inside of you. And then there was a period of time, it could be a month, it could be 40 years where it was your growth before birth phase. God was working on you. He was opening your eyes. He was helping you understand your need for him. He was doing something and then you’ve got born again and every thing changed. You can’t say I got saved and then changed, it’s biblically inaccurate. That’s what I’m trying to help you with, understand the gospel. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “For anyone is in Christ is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” It’s a reference to metamorphosis. When a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, there is a complete transformation. You see no remnants of the caterpillar in the butterfly.
Think about this, the bible says, when you’re saved, you go from death to life. A heart of stone is removed, a heart of flesh is implanted and the spirit of disobedience is taken out of you and the spirit of the living God is put inside of you. Can we agree that would lead to change?
If you were dead and now you are alive, let’s just stick with that. I would think there’s some change. There’s good fruit. The gospel is not just good news it’s a message of change. That’s what the good news is, is that He changed you. He took you from here and put you here and gave you back life. We received His grace, we experienced His presence and we released His kingdom. The gospel is Him restoring our identity, drawing us into relationship and then empowering us with purpose. The goal of life is not to get to heaven it’s to bring heaven to earth now.
If the whole thing is to get a ticket to heaven and so you can go live the rest of your life. You’ve bought into a drastically inferior gospel. That’s what the American church believes. We just got to get people to raise their hands, sign a card, pray a prayer. No. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand and you are now empowered to bring it to this earth.”
And you will never understand your purpose until you first get your identity. Who you are determines what you do, that’s why you have to understand who I’m now I am in Jesus and that releases an entirely new life. It’s not just getting to heaven it’s now bringing heaven to earth. And so, I just told you my gospel story. My question for you is what’s yours? What’s your gospel story? Do you have one? Here’s who I was, here’s when I met Jesus and here’s what I’m now becoming. That’s a gospel story, a clear delineation of this is who I was, this is who Jesus is and this is who I now and becoming.
It doesn’t mean I’m perfect. It doesn’t mean I don’t struggle, it doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days, it doesn’t mean I don’t have strongholds in my life. We do all that stuff on a regular basis together in this church. We walked through those things, but it does mean that good fruit is being produced and things are different than they were. Brothers, what shall we do? You shall believe, confess and repent. Receive the Holy Spirit, be baptized and make Jesus Lord. So, you close your eyes with me. Holy Spirit is in this place, what does he want to say to you? Whenever you talk about the realities of eternity, it can make us a little uncomfortable.
And that’s okay, because Jesus came to resolve that tension. He came to say, “Hey, I’ve died so you can live.” We all have preconceived notions of what the gospel is, of what religion has told us, of how we get to heaven, of who Jesus is. So sometimes you just have to go back and re-declare the truth. So this is what Jesus says, and this is how we start to follow Him. And what I like about today is every person in this room has a next step. Which one is yours? Some of you, your next step is to just believe, to believe that Jesus is who He says he is and that He did what He said He did. And if you’re struggle in believing, then just ask Him and say, Lord help me into my unbelief.
He’ll help you. For some of us, it’s time to confess and repent, to bring things out of the darkness into light, to confess on our own brokenness and failures and then repent. Change our thinking, our alignment, a new way of thinking will lead to a new way of living. For some of us, it’s just to receive the Holy Spirit. To say, Holy Spirit, come and fill me fresh today. For the first time or for just a fresh feeling today, Holy Spirit, fill me from the innermost to the outermost that I may have all of you and none of me. For some of us it’s to be baptized. You know that’s what your next step is because you’ve been saved and you just have been resisting it. That’s your next step, have the courage and faith to follow and live in that freedom. And for the rest of us, it’s to make Jesus Lord. Maybe He needs to be Lord over your marriage, your finances, your time, that situation, that unforgiveness in your heart.
I don’t know, but the Holy Spirit will show you. Make Him Lord. So Jesus, thank you, that you invite us to everlasting life with you. That in you, there is true life and hope and abundance. We pray today that the Holy Spirit of the living God would overwhelm and overtake us that we would be transformed and changed that we would say, I got saved and everything changed. Lord, I pray for every person that feels condemnation or judgment or guilt right now that that is the voice of Satan not the voice of the Holy Spirit. We bind it and we release the voice of life that brings hope and encouragement that says, the sins you can’t seem to forget God is saying you are the ones He can’t seem to remember. Stop trying to pay for them because they’re already been paid in full.
That’s why He says, all you need to do is believe, believe. Help us believe Jesus. Thank you today that we can be confident, that we can be on the road of life bearing good fruit with you as our Lord. Make the gospel true in our lives for the power of salvation, for all who believe. We love you Jesus. In your name we pray, Amen.