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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Opening Day

Andy Stanley - Opening Day

Andy Stanley - Opening Day
TOPICS: Ekklesia, Church

I wanna welcome all of our Atlanta area churches, those of you're watching online from all over the country and all over the world. It is so great to have you with us and for those of you with us all the time, that's fantastic. And I hope that we can supplement your local church. And if you're still looking for a local church, don't give up. It's so great to be plugged into a local church in your community. So here's something that more and more Americans are turning to for pastime and turning to for entertainment. Predicting outcomes for money. Yeah, gambling is just a different way of saying gambling, right? But I just felt like that's such a harsh term to open a sermon with. So we're just gonna go with predict outcomes for money.

In fact, just real quick, confession. How many of you predicted outcomes for money on the Super Bowl? Just kidding? No, no, don't raise your hand. Just kidding. Yeah, we shouldn't confess sin this early in the sermon anyway. And I'm not saying the sin, but for most people it's just kind of a, you know, it's just a harmless pastime. But for others it is a dangerous pathway. And of course the problem is you don't know if it's a dangerous pathway for you until you start. So for many people, maybe it's why it's to never begin to begin with. But my reason for bringing it up is this. Jesus predicted some outcomes but not for money. And maybe one of the reasons he didn't predict outcomes for money is nobody, and I mean, nobody would've put any money down on his prediction. They were very bad odds.

Now they were God odds. And I don't know if God odds is even a thing, but humanly speaking in terms of what was going on, the things that Jesus predicted, nobody would've put any money on 'em. Nobody would've bet on 'em because they were just unrealistic, were incredible. They were undoable. It wasn't ever going to happen. But interestingly enough, in his lifetime, almost everything he predicted actually came to pass. In fact, pretty much everything came to pass he predicted would come to pass except for a couple of things. What should lead us to believe that the other things will come to pass as well. Now, my favorite Jesus prediction, in fact, my favorite prophecy in the entire Bible, Old and New Testament is actually us, Jesus predicted us. Jesus predicted the church standing in the middle of nowhere, literally. We're way, way, way north of the city of Jerusalem, surrounded by a bunch of nobodies.

And when I say nobodies, I mean culturally speaking, the guys that followed Jesus in those early days, they were kind of nobodies. And standing out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by these nobodies, Jesus says, hey, what's the word on the street about me? And they start telling Jesus what people are thinking about him. That's not a very safe question for most of us to ask unless you really wanna get your feelings hurt. But Jesus said, hey, what are people saying about me? And then he turns to his disciples, you probably have heard this, we talked about it last week. And he said, what do you guys think about me? Who do you think that I am? And Peter raises his hand. He says, I'll tell you who I think you are. I think you're God's final king. I think you're the king. I think you are Messiah. I think in some unique way you are the son of God. And Jesus replied to Peter and to his guys. He says, that's exactly who I am.

And Peter, let me tell you who you are. I tell you that you are Peter. And he uses this little Greek word petros, which means a stone or a pebble. Basically he kind of renames him rocky, but not quite as brutal as rocky 'cause it's more like pebble or stone that you can hold in your hand. And then he smiles and he says, and on this rock, and now he uses a different Greek term, he says on this rock. And he's referring now to the statement that Peter made, that you're the Christ, the Son of the living God. He says, and on this statement you've made on this rock, Petra, which means bedrock, a massive outcropping, the side of a mountain, something that is immovable. He says, and based on this statement that you've made about me, who I am, let me tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna build my ekklesia, my movement, my assembly. I'm gonna create a people who will gather in my name to do my will, to execute my mission.

And guys, he's looking around, it's this hot Syrian sun, they're so far north, he says, and gentlemen, the gates of Hades death itself will not overcome it. That even when I'm gone, he says, even when I'm gone, my movement will maintain even when I'm gone, my movement will keep moving on, that my death, he's saying won't be the end. And actually his death, Jesus' death and resurrection is what launched his movement, launched his ekklesia. Now standing out there in that hot Syrian sun, this is crazy talk. I mean, this is ridiculous. You don't start new movements, in fact pitting himself against the religious establishment and pitting himself against the Roman Empire. No way. Way. It happened. Because here we are, 2000 years later, all over the world in multiple languages, in just about probably every country in the world, in homes and apartment buildings and buildings like this. Large and small people are gathering in the name of Jesus.

That's why it's my favorite prediction. Jesus predicted a movement, a multicultural movement that would sweep the entire world. And it came true. And nobody saw it coming, and no one could have imagined it. Today we're in part two of our series, ekklesia, the Greek term that Jesus used to describe his movement. If you missed part one of this series, you really need to go back and listen to it. As we unpack the significance of this word and the reason we're doing this series, this is our opportunity to take a look back to ensure that we as a group of local churches stay on track. Because while expressions of faith change from generation to generation, and while expressions of the Christian faith have changed from culture to culture, we don't all sing the same way. We don't all worship the same way. We don't even all use the Bible, and we don't even read the Bible the same way.

In spite of all of these cultural changes and generational changes, there are some core things that have not changed. Jesus' original intent for his assembly, for his movement has not changed. And we as a church, and we as a network of churches, and we as believers dare not lose sight of his original intent for his movement, for his ekklesia. And the reason is, there are multiple reasons why, but one is this, when historically, and maybe you've experienced this personally, when the church veers, things just get weird. You ever been to a weird church? There's some weird churches, and you're like, what in the world are you up to? And then you find out there's stuff going on behind the scenes when the church veers away from Jesus original intent.

Things get weird when the church loses its way, or when a local church loses its way, people get hurt, abuse with a divine excuse, Jesus and God's name gets stamped on behaviors that both of them find to despicable. And so this is important, and one of the reasons it's so important for us, and this is hard for us to imagine, if you're a Christian, this is for you. If you're not a Christian, here's what you're gonna think. You're gonna think, yes, exactly. It's about time you Christians figure this out. But if you're a Christian, here's why this is important. We are the church in our generation. We are responsible for the church in our generation. We are responsible or we're stewards of the church in our generation.

We determine what Christianity looks like, what Christianity acts like. And most importantly, we determine what Christianity reacts like. And here's what I mean by that. As people from the outside look in, we are Christianity. We are the version of Christianity for our generation. And if we don't get it right, we misrepresent our savior. We misrepresent the ekklesia of Jesus. So every once in a while, it's important to step back and to look back at Jesus' original intent and to study the behaviors and the responses of those first century Christians who sat at the feet of Jesus and got it right because they were right there in his presence. So we're looking back in order to stay on track.

So today we're jumping right into the narrative. Last week we kind of set this whole thing up, but we're jumping right into the storyline today. Now, as I remind you, every Easter, nobody anticipated Jesus rising from the dead. Nobody, nobody standing outside the tomb. Three days later counting down backwards from 10. You know, nobody expected Jesus to rise. In fact, as we talk about all the time, when they gazed into the empty tomb, everybody assumed, even his mother assumed someone had stolen the body. Nobody expected a resurrection. In fact, the way that we say it on Easter, I'll see how many of you have been paying attention. See if you can finish this statement for me. Nobody expected. Oh, look at that. Six of you got it right. Yeah, nobody expected no body. That's Easter in a nutshell. Nobody expected no body. But that wasn't the only thing they weren't expecting.

So here's the story. Here's what happened. Five weeks after the resurrection, not, you know, a few days, five weeks after the resurrection, after literally hundreds of people had seen the resurrected Jesus, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians, one of the earliest Christian documents, he says, oh yeah, there are over 500 people who saw him at one time. So about five weeks after the resurrection, Jesus gathers his followers for a farewell address. And there's a very short Q&A that's part of the farewell address. In fact, it's just one single question. Here was their question. They said, so, so, or Luke tells us. And just a little clarification, Luke actually wrote the book of Acts.

Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and he wrote the book of Acts. And Acts is the book of the Bible that tells us what happened in the church after the resurrection of Jesus. So Luke documents this for us, and Luke knew the people in the story because he spent time with all these people. So here's what he says happened. So when they met together, all of Jesus' followers after the resurrection again, about five weeks later, they ask him, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? So this whole time they're looking for a nationalistic movement. They're looking for an independent state. They're looking for Israel to be free of Roman domination and for Jesus to step in as a reigning ruling military king to expel the invaders.

So they're saying, hey are we going back to the days of David? Are we going back to the days of Solomon? I mean, surely that's what's next. But it wasn't, what was next was us. What was next was Ekklesia. What was next was much bigger than they ever imagined. Jesus responded. He kind of dodges the question or so it seems. He says, it's not for you to know the times or dates. He's not chastising them, but he's like, that's not where we're going. It's not for you to know the times or the dates the Father has set by his own authority. In other words, that's not gonna happen now, it may happen later. And then he changes the subject and he basically says, let me tell you what it is time for, again, something so much bigger than you could ever imagine, you guys, he was saying, you can't think outside the borders of Judea and Galilee. But what God has done in the world through me is not for Judea and Galilee. It is for the entire world. He says, okay, so here's what's gonna happen next. You talking about that group, you're gonna receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.

Now this is kind of Old Testament language in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come down and anoint people for certain tasks, but then the Holy Spirit would withdraw. And Jesus says, the Holy Spirit that you've read about in, you know, in the old covenant language and the days of Solomon, the days of the kings, that same Holy Spirit is gonna come down on all of you average people. And you're gonna have power to which they immediately thought of the Old Testament miracles and they thought power. And what are we gonna use our power for? Are we gonna use our power to expel the Romans? And Jesus said, no, you're gonna use your power to be my witnesses in Jerusalem. And in all Judea, quick geography lesson, Jerusalem's a city, right? And Judea is the whole region. He says, you're gonna be my witnesses in Judea and Jerusalem.

And of course when they hear the word witness, they're thinking somebody who testifies in a legal matter, somebody who goes to court. So they're like, wait, we're all going to court. And Jesus is like, no, I'm not finished. Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria. To which they thought, wait, those aren't our people. I mean, we don't even like Samaritans. We go around Samaria. Those aren't wait, those aren't our people. And then Jesus says, and worse and to the ends of the earth, to which they thought, oh, you mean that kind of witness? You mean we're gonna go all over the world and tell people what we've witnessed, what we've seen? And do you really mean the whole world like Egypt, like Rome? I mean they're thinking clearly this is hyperbole. There's no way we're going everywhere in the world with this message. But it wasn't hyperbole. He was serious. Here we are, here we are.

Now, quick little cultural thing. In ancient times, nobody switched religions because there were no religions. There was no such thing as a religion. In ancient times you know this, every region had their own gods. Every household had household gods. So you didn't really switch religions. If you moved, you might adopt the customs and the gods of that region. Because the way they viewed the world, the gods reigned over certain regions of the world. They were actually geographically in most cases confined. So the whole idea of taking the message of Jesus to all the regions of the world, this was unthinkable. I mean, 'cause every people group had their own gods. You worship your gods, I worship my gods.

Romans, they didn't care whose god you worship as long as you obeyed Caesar. And the problem with the Jesus way, the problem with this new thing that Jesus had inaugurated this new covenant that he had initiated, the problem was it wasn't a, you might also like kind of a thing. You didn't add it to what you already had. You didn't just put another idol on the mantle. You didn't just add Yahweh to your list of gods that you worshiped in your region. This was an either or proposition. And so Jesus was literally sending them out. We can't even imagine the complexity of this. He was sending them out or he was gonna send them out to the world. Here's what they thought anyway. You're gonna send us out into the world, not simply to talk about you Jesus, you're asking us to ask people to abandon their entire worldview.

You're asking us to go into regions of the world where they believe in multiple gods and say, oh no, no, you've had it wrong forever. Your parents had it wrong, your grandparents had it wrong. You got it completely wrong. There's only one God and all the other gods that you worship. They're not real. They don't even exist. You're expecting us to tell people that. And then you want us to tell people that the only God became a human to demonstrate what the only God is like. And then that one and only God actually died on a cross for the sins of the world. Again, the idea of sin was a new concept for pagans. Pagans didn't have sins because the pagan gods did not require obedience. They just required sacrifice.

So everything about this message was new. Everything about this message was unprecedented. This wasn't gonna go anywhere, especially outside of Judea. I mean, in Judea it works 'cause you got so many Jews, they already understand there's one God, they understand Torah, they understand law. So it kind of fits there. But Jesus, seriously, you think your message, you think this strange new worldview message is gonna have any traction in the rest of the world? But they're standing in the presence of someone they saw die. They're standing in the presence of someone they know where he was buried and sealed in the tomb, and now he's talking to them.

So if someone predicts their own death and resurrection and pulls it off and they say he's gonna do something for the whole world, you're like, well, okay, we'll at least go along with it because you've done something everyone else thought was impossible, unprecedented. And nobody saw it coming. So he said, you go back to Jerusalem and you wait and you'll see. So Luke picks up the story from right there. Here's what he said happened. He said they all went back to Jerusalem and he gives us all this incredible detail. He says, they all joined together, this group of people who Jesus had given these words to. They joined together constantly. This wasn't a 30 minute prayer meeting, a constant day after day in prayer along with, and Luke gives us these details because once again, this whole movement is so unusual. It's so anti-cultural, it's just no one would guess this is how it worked.

So he includes this detail, ladies along with the women. And why does he say that? Because men and women didn't pray together. Men and women didn't do much of anything together in this culture. But Jesus had already begun to change that because throughout his ministry, he elevated the dignity and the status of women. This is why I say, and I know it's offensive to some people, every woman in the world should love Jesus. Even if you don't think he's divine. What Jesus did for women in the first century, he began something that took way too long to catch on, but it began with the teaching and the elevation and the dignity to that Jesus ascribed women. So it makes sense that in the early days of his movement, the women are right there in the same room praying alongside the men.

And Mary, he says, the mother of Jesus is in that room praying with them and Jesus' brothers to, which is like, wait, his brothers, where have those guys been? They're not part of the 12 disciples. I mean, they don't really do anything. But when you read the gospels, Jesus' brothers questioned his sanity, which it's easy to be critical of them. But come on, if your brother claim to be the Messiah, your brother, yeah, you would question his sanity. So don't be too hard on these guys. But why do they suddenly appear in the narrative? Because when your brother is crucified and you comfort your mother in tears, and then your brother is standing in front of you, you're like, okay, you are in fact the Messiah. Yes, we used to play together and I noticed you always won. But anyway, you obviously you had something going on the rest of us didn't.

So now even his brothers are part of the Jesus movement. So they pray and pray and pray. And two weeks go by. Two weeks later, it's a Jewish festival in Jerusalem called Pentecost, the Festival of Pentecost. And in this particular festival, men from all over the empire who were sons of Abraham, we would say who were Jewish, are to come to Jerusalem to celebrate this particular festival. So again, there are sons of Abraham or Jewish people all over the empire. They pay their own way and they travel in some cases, many, many, many, many miles back to Jerusalem for this festival. So the city of Jerusalem is packed, but it's not just packed with people. It is packed with people from every nation or just about every nation in the empire. And while they're praying on the day of Pentecost, exactly what Jesus predicted happens.

The Holy Spirit comes down on them and gives them power, but not military power. A strange power. The power to understand and to speak the languages of all of the regions that these Jewish people traveled from to Jerusalem for the day in the festival of Pentecost. And why did God empower them with that kind of power? And why did God provide this kind of sign? Because this was in fact, good news of great joy for all people. Jesus was not exaggerating. It wasn't just Judea. It wasn't just Galilee. It really was for the whole world that when he said all he meant all, and when he said everybody, he meant everybody. And so they leave the room where they're praying and they go into the streets and they all begin to speak in the languages of these Jewish people who've come from all these different regions in the empire.

And well, they're shocked. And Luke tells us how they responded. He writes, aren't all these who are speaking Galileans? Now again, we miss this because we don't live in that culture. Does it say Jewish? Does it say Judean? Galilean, these people who had followed Jesus, most of them were from way, way, way up north. They were more of the working class. They were less educated. They didn't live in the big city of Jerusalem. And these people from all these different regions, because they're sons of Abraham, because they're Jewish, they recognize, wait a minute, these aren't even Judeans, these certainly aren't Jerusalemites. These are people from kind of the outer, the kind of the other areas of Galilee. And how is it they suddenly are able to speak our language? How is it that each of us hears them in our native language?

And then Luke, because he loves details, actually lists the different regions from the empire where all these people came from. Look at this, you can read the whole story for yourself. He said there were people from Parthia, there were Medes and Elamites goes through all these different areas. There were people from Egypt, there were sons of Abraham, Jews had traveled from Rome to be in Jerusalem. So this is amazing. So God, to prove that this was for everybody, brought everybody to Jerusalem. When he unleashed his ekklasia, they go on and they say this, we hear these Galileans, we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues, amazed and perplexed. They ask one another, what does this mean? And Peter steps up and says, I'm glad you ask. And then Peter preaches this amazing sermon. You gotta read it for yourself.

I'm just gonna give you some of the highlights. Here's what he preached to this group of people as hundreds and then hundreds more begin to gather because something amazing had happened in Jerusalem. Here's what he said. He said, people of Israel, listen to this, Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you. In other words, God put his stamp of approval on Jesus of Nazareth. And he did it in such a way that no one could dispute that He had come from God by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you. And you learn this as you read more from the book of Acts that what happened in Jerusalem didn't stay in Jerusalem. And what happened with Jesus in Galilee, didn't stay in Galilee. Word of this miracle worker, this new rabbi, this maybe he's the Messiah person, had spread throughout any of all of the Roman world in terms of where Jews traveled and carried messages from Jerusalem and from that part of the world. He says, you know what's been going on here through him, as you yourselves know. And then he says this. He says this man talking about Jesus, this man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan.

Now he's gonna blame the entire nation for what happened. And of course, Peter is one of them. This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge and you with the help of wicked men, maybe referring to the Romans, maybe referring to the high priest, with the help of wicked men. You put him to death by nailing him to the cross and you can hear a pin drop. And he pauses for effect. And then he says, but God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because, because just as he predicted, the gates of Hades would not be the end of his movement. His death and resurrection would be the beginning because he says, because it was impossible for death to keep a hold on him. Then he gives 'em some of their own history, some of their own Old Testament background. Then he says this, he says later on in the sermon, he says, God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of the fact.

Look around, there's dozens and dozens and dozens of us. We were there when he was crucified. We know where he was buried. And we have met with him and he in fact is alive and we are witnesses. We didn't read about it, we didn't hear about it. We saw it. Then he rares back and he says, therefore, therefore speaking essentially to the whole nation. Let all of Israel be assured of this. God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, Lord and Messiah. He has made him Lord. And he has made him your king. He is God's final king. Not just for those of you who live in Judea, and not just for those of you from Galilee, and not even those of you who are from the regions of the world represented here in the city today. But for every man and every woman, every tribe, every tongue, every nation, every nationality. Phew. And when the people, this is amazing. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.

You know what that means? It means their defenses melted, their resistance melted, all their intellectual, you know, misgivings all the questions, all the what abouts? All the, yeah, but I'm not so sure. It's like something on the inside of them just folded and they realized they'd been wrong. They realized they hadn't heard the whole story. They realized some of them who lived close, they missed their king and their Messiah. And they said to Peter and the other apostles, brothers, what shall we do? And Peter replied, attend church regularly. That wouldn't have made any sense. This wasn't a building, this wasn't a service. This wasn't an hour on Sunday. It wasn't even Sunday. This was way bigger than that.

Peter replied, come on, Peter replied, believe a list of propositional truths. We're gonna have a class, okay? And we're gonna do a whole systematic theology thing, and we're gonna sort out all the, you know, mysteries around God and where God came from. No, this wasn't about, this wasn't about a what? This was about a who. A knew who. Peter replied, lemme tell you what you're to do. And now he's speaking to you. He's speaking to you now, he's speaking to me, now, he's speaking to all of us. Peter replied, repent and be baptized. Every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Now, something really interesting is going on here that you don't see. This is amazing. The men and the few women in the crowd, we don't know men and women, but mostly men. The people in this crowd were good Torah abiding, law abiding, you know, Jewish people, Judeans and Galileans, sons and daughters of Abraham. In fact, they were the best of the best. They'd spent their own money to travel to the city, the holy city of Jerusalem, to the temple to celebrate this festival. I mean, these were good people. These weren't wild and crazy people who rebelled against God and stiff armed God and didn't believe in God. These were good people. So why does he say that you need to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

What sins was he talking about? And the answer is, all their sins. All their sins. All their sins. Up until this day, he would say to them, you have come to the temple or you have given God sacrifice in the regions of the world from where you live. Because up until this time, the blood of rams and the blood of goats and the lives of pigeons and grain, these peace offerings and offerings to make you right with God. And God for a time overlooked your sin. But now someone has come who has paid for your sin and it's time that you repent, you change your mind about how it works because the temple days and the temple ways are over. They were perfect for what they were designed for. But that age has ended. It's a brand new age. And God has sent his son into this world to pay for all of your sins, past, present, and future. His death was the final payment for the sins of the world, which means his death was a final payment for my sins and your sins.

The Apostle Paul, once he finally got this all figured out, would eventually write these words. He would say, hey, there's no condemnation. There is therefore now no condemnation for anyone who is in right relationship with King Jesus. And you know what? When I read those words personally, if I could just be personal for a minute, and I might have shared this before, you know, I'm preacher's kid. I mean, I knew the Bible backwards and forward. I could do the books of the Bible. I mean, I was so ingrained in scripture. And you know what I have, you know, the Apostle Paul talks about being the chief of sinners. At times I feel like I'm not too far behind him. Not because of what I've done, but because I knew so much better than to do it by the way I was raised. I promised God so many times and broken my promises. I promised to do better so many times and not followed through on my promises.

And I knew better of all people in the world, people like me. We are without excuse. And when Jesus died on the cross, he died for all my informed, inexcusable sin. And he died for yours as well. And he goes on to say this, you're to repent. You're to think differently about who is Lord. You are to be baptized to publicly associate with this new movement, the ekklesia of Jesus. You'll receive forgiveness of sin. And not only that, and this meant so much to this Jewish audience. And you'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that came upon Samson for his mighty deeds. The same Holy Spirit that would come upon a king for mighty deeds. For a moment, you're gonna receive the same Holy Spirit and he is going to stick around. And then Peter talks about you and he talks about me. Listen to this. He says, and these promises, the promise of forgiveness, the promise of inclusion, the promise of the Holy Spirit.

These promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off and for all whom the Lord our God will call. That's me. That's you. Because we are far off geographically and we are far off chronologically. And the promise still stands. And how did they respond? It's amazing. Luke says, those who accepted his message were baptized that day, or in the few days that followed, about 3000 were added to their number that day. So day one, this was launch day of the church. This is how it all started. This is day one, launch day, day one was huge. And it launched as, and it must remain, it launched as, and it must remain. That's why we're looking back to make sure we stay on track. It launched as a outward facing for the world. Multicultural. Everybody's invited, multiplying. It's not my foreign no more.

And we're not gonna hunker down and wait for Jesus to come back and hope poor, poor, pitiful us. Look how awful the world is. And why doesn't Jesus come back and deliver us? Uh-uh. You don't find that on the lips of Jesus. You certainly don't find that on the lips of any of his first century followers. It launched as an outward facing, we're for the world. Multicultural, multiplying movement. Not a worship service, not an hour on Sunday. Not make sure I've got everything lined up so God will answer my prayer and thank you for this day and help me to find my car keys. They would be like, you're what? No outward facing, multicultural, multiplying movement. And I realize, not everybody likes a big church. Day one was huge. And it was just as he predicted because the epicenter of this movement was exactly what Peter said.

The thing that brought them together, the thing that would hold them together in the years that followed, the difficult and challenging generations actually that followed, the one thing they had in common was not language, it wasn't culture. The one thing they had in common was the belief that Jesus, Jesus was the messiah. He was God's final king. And this new movement was anchored to one indisputable event. The resurrection of Jesus. Day one. But so what? Now what? Here's what. Repent. Repent. Repent. Turn to Jesus, your King, your Lord, your Messiah. Maybe your religion says you can work your way into God's graces, uh-uh, repent. Maybe you just have decided it's all a fairytale. None of it's real. No. Repent. The invitation for you is the invitation that it was for the people in the audience that day is to repent, acknowledge Jesus as your king. And today submit to his lordship. Just say yes and then be baptized. You need to be baptized because that's how you publicly identify with an ekklesia of Jesus.

When I grew up, they said, you get baptized to join the local church. We just made that up. Okay? You get baptized to be a part of the assembly, the growing, outward facing, multifaceted, multicultural movement of Jesus. This is how you publicly identify. And if you think it's awkward for you, let me assure you, the Judeans and the Romans and the Egyptians and the Parthians and the people from all these different groups to be baptized as adults in Jerusalem after this message, it was so humiliating. And they were proud to do it because they were part of something new and something God had done for them and for the world and for the forgiveness of your sins.

Lemme tell you what I know about you and we've never met. You've hurt people. You've hurt people God loves, which means you've hurt God. See, if you hurt one of my children, you don't just fix it with my children. You gotta fix it with me. You've hurt people. And you know what? You've hurt people that God loves and you've hurt yourself who God loves. And you can't do anything about it. You can't make up for it, you can apologize, but you can't make up for it because you can't go back in time and undo what you've done. It's done. You have a debt, you have a debt with people you've hurt. You have a debt with yourself. More importantly, you have a debt with your Heavenly Father because you've hurt yourself. He loves and you've hurt children he loves. And there's nothing you can do about it. And so Jesus came and paid your debt so you could have a clear conscience with God, your Father. That's the gift of salvation. That's the gift of forgiveness. And on launch day, day one, Peter said, and it's for the whole world, the good people, the not so good people, because all that Paul would write later all have sinned and fallen short of the glory, the standard, the greatness of God.

Have you accepted that gift of forgiveness that comes by way of the death of Christ for your sins? And when you do, he says this. And then you'll receive the gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit who will come and live inside of you and permanently stay inside of you as a seal to the fact that you belong to God, to empower you to live the life that God has invited you to live, to give you the power to follow Jesus, which will make your life better and make you better at life. Have you done that? 'Cause if you're ready, the invitation's a standing invitation. If you're ready, he's waiting.

So when I try to figure out how to end a message like this, I just think I gotta do it. Peter did, just like Peter invited his original audience to respond immediately. I'm inviting you today, whether you're watching and sitting in one of our churches or sitting by yourself somewhere to respond immediately to repent and then decide to publicly join and publicly associate with your king and his movement for the forgiveness of all your sins, past, present, and future, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, to live the life that God has invited you to live. So if you're ready, he's been ready. And maybe this is your day. And if while I was talking something kinda lit up inside of you and you're like, I understand that for the first time that wasn't me. I'm not that good. That is the Holy Spirit of God saying, come on, come on, come on.

So here's what I wanna do. I wanna lead you in a prayer just a minute. And I'm gonna ask you to pray a prayer out loud. 'Cause I want you to hear yourself say these words. And I'm gonna ask every Christian in the room or every Christian in the room with you, I want us to all pray this out loud, to give the people around us the ability to pray this out loud with without being afraid or too self-conscious. So we're all gonna pray this out loud. If you're not a believer and you're like, I still don't believe that's okay, we're so glad you're here today. But if this is your day, don't miss it. So if you would everyone just bow your head and close your eyes for just a minute. Would you pray out loud with me? Would you say:

Heavenly Father, no more running. No more resisting. I'm yours. I'm placing my faith, in Christ's death on the cross, as payment for my sin. Thank you for forgiving me. I receive that gift. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. In my life. Starting now. In Jesus' name. Amen.

I'd love to pray for all of us.

Heavenly Father, thank you for preserving this powerful event. Forgive me. Forgive us for taking to church for granted. Goodness. Just give us eyes to see how magnificent it is. Recreate in us wonder at what you've done and the fact that you've invited us to be a small part of it in our generation. We so want to get this right. When people hear Christian, we want them to think of Jesus in the New Testament, when people hear church, we want them to think of the movement, the ekklesia of Jesus that has rocked the world and made the world better whenever Christians surrendered themselves to the Lordship of Christ, to give us eyes to see ears to hear the courage to follow through. Father, for the men and women who know they need to be baptized, just give them the courage to move forward with that. So Father, whatever at this moment means for us, first of all, thank you. Second, help us to surrender and to take seriously the prayer that we just prayed. Thy will be done in our lives. In Jesus' name, amen.

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