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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - Believing Thomas

Chris Hodges - Believing Thomas

Chris Hodges - Believing Thomas
TOPICS: Easter

Now give Jesus some praise for getting out of that grave. Come on, somebody. It's so awesome. Well, what a joy it is to be with you, today. Happy Resurrection Sunday, and a big hello to all of you who are here at Grants Mill. Let me look into the camera and say hello to all of our campuses. We are one church that meets in 23 locations all across our region, and I love every single one of you. I'm getting reports all day long of what God is doing literally in every location. For a lot of you who don't know this, but we're also bringing this service and all that we are as a church into more than 20 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities. Right now we're streaming live on the Internet to places literally around the world, getting reports from people that are serving our country, in the military that are defending us and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus today.

And wherever you are, we love you, we love you, we love you. Come on, Grants Mill, say a big hello. We love you so much. Come on, give them a good hand. That's awesome. I'll just have to warn you. I took a few weeks off before this Sunday, and I am fired up. I could go bear hunting with a switch. Come on, somebody, right? So, I'm just ready. I'm just excited. I did a lot of study, did some resting that I needed, and I did a lot of study and prepared a bunch of messages that I'm going to be bringing you in the next few weeks, and also in the coming months, and very, very excited to be here with you today to celebrate what God has done. And can I just say, as I think back of last Easter, sitting at home, first Easter in the history of my life that I was not in church on an Easter Sunday. I'm just so glad we're back. And aren't you, everybody? Just so glad we're just back. It just, to God be the glory, all right.

So, we always know there's a lot of people who are checking out Church of the Highlands for the first time. Maybe you're a guest or a friend of someone, or maybe you just wandered in on your own. I just want to give my special welcome to you. And this is not my message. It's just something I want to say to you just for a couple of minutes before I get into my message, that we would love to take you on a spiritual journey. In fact, we think you're already on a spiritual journey, whether you take the journey with us or not, because you're made in the image of God. Even if you're an atheist, you're not gonna be able to get away from the fact that there's a part of God in you, and it's gonna make you wonder. You're gonna think about it a lot.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes that he set eternity already in the hearts of men. So, you're not gonna be able to get away from the fact of wondering whether it's real or not. And you would need to know that God has a plan for your life. Most people are willing to take it. They just don't know what it is. And one of the gifts that we give people is clarity. Let me just tell you what it is and what can happen. Cover to cover, from the Old Testament to the New, all throughout the Bible, God has wanted four things for your life. This is the way we say it, that you can be in a real relationship with God. Christianity is not a religion. It's a relationship with a very real and very personal God, and you can actually know him, not here, you can know him here. Once you know him, you can actually find freedom.

Now you have the power to find freedom. Freedom from what? The area of your life, that if it wasn't in your life, your life would be so much better. All of us have that. All of us have an area that we know is not the best version of us, but you need to understand that God gives you the power to overcome it. So, if you've tried and failed, that's the reason. God wanted to come alongside you and help you find freedom. Once you settle your yesterdays, you're gonna see tomorrow. It's so interesting that when there's smudge on the glasses, you can see nothing. But when you bring the smudge off the glasses, clarity comes, and now you can discover your purpose. And if you try to do that through career or ambition, you probably thought, "Kind of fun, but not really scratching the itch like I thought". It's because God is the only one who knows the real plan for your life. He wrote the book on your life; and for you to find it, you're gonna have to come to him, which is what I love.

Once you do, you can join many of us that have already taken these steps, and you can do what your life is really all about. Your life is not about paying bills and breathing air. Can I get a better amen, everybody? No, your life is about making a difference. You were born for transcendence. You were born to touch the lives of others in a way that impacts eternity, and this is where real joy is. You just ask anybody around here who's on what we call the Dream Team, who are cutting trees off of people's house from tornados and sharing the love of God, that are doing, that are parking cars, and own cameras, and playing guitars, and ministering to your kids right now, that these are the happiest people, because they're doing something with their life that makes a difference, and I'm just your tour guide. I'm not a preacher. I'm not just somebody that comes in and preaches every Sunday.

I just happen to be the guy who would love to take you on a journey and show you places that you didn't even know was there, and there is my invitation to you. So, come along for the ride with us, everybody. We would really love you to consider taking the journey with us. Now, before I share the message that I have for you today, we didn't show you what we call Highlands News, which is our video news segment, because it's Easter. We just wanted to have those special moments that you've already enjoyed, so let me take just a minute and catch you up on a little bit of news, and that is that, first of all, next Sunday I'm going to be speaking. Most pastors take off the Sunday after Easter, because you guys take the Sunday off after Easter.

So, don't do that. I'm gonna be back, right? It's just the truth. And so I'm actually coming back 'cause I've got something to say. In fact, you're gonna hear the message that I thought was gonna be the Easter message, but you're gonna get it next Sunday, and it's powerful. I'm just telling you guys. And it's so countercultural. It is so radical, but hardly no one does it, but you can't get the best of God without it, and there's your teaser, okay? So, that's next Sunday. And then also next Sunday is second Sunday. Normally, on the first Sunday we do these two things. On the first Sunday of every month, which we're gonna let you enjoy your families today. So, we're moving it to next Sunday. That is Step One of our Growth Track, and that's basically our membership class.

So, if you're kicking the tires, trying to figure out if this should be your home church, this is where you would do it, and so come back next Sunday. We'll explain to you when that happens. And then also next Sunday is baptism Sunday. So, the Lord Jesus said to follow, once you make a decision, you basically declare to the world that you made the decision through water baptism, and it's an exciting time. And Lord willing, next Sunday we're gonna baptize hundreds of people. And because I've taken some time off, and because I've studied a lot, and I've gotten messages, I'm gonna go ahead and speak this first. Wednesday, as well, so you're gonna get me a lot in the next eight days.

So, yeah, thank you for the five of you that are excited about me speaking this Wednesday, all right. You're my best friends. Thank you very much, all right. But seriously, first Wednesday, if you're new here, it's a little bit more worship, a little deeper teaching, and I'm excited about that experience, as well, and we invite you to come be a part of it. Okay, here we go. My favorite Easter verse in the Bible is this one: Romans chapter 8. It says this, and you've already seen it on the screens, and you heard it in our music, today, that the Spirit of God, the Spirit of God... the word "spirit" means the power, the wind, the breath of God. You don't always see it, but you could usually feel it, and you know it's there, and it does powerful things. The Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead, so, when Jesus got up out of that grave, the holiday that we celebrate today, the Spirit of God was there to make that possible. The power of God was there to make that possible.

But check it out, it also lives in you. The Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of you. Why? So, just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, he can give life to the part of your life that is dead. And I'm not talking about, necessarily, a physical death. I'm talking about a death of your dreams, your hopes, your emotions, your mind, your heart. Been a lot of death going on in the last 12 months, and you would need to know that power is available. Now, I know that sounds real Christianese, or real spiritual, but it's absolutely true that God's power is available for every place in your life that is mortal to wake up and to be alive. That's why we shared Brook's story, and that was one of tens of thousands that we could've shared of people whose lives were completely dead, and by the power of God, it came alive again, in Jesus's name, and I live for that.

So, basically the verse is saying this: The resurrection of Jesus, Easter, wasn't just an event to celebrate. It's not a holiday. It's not just supposed to be, "Wow, great job, Jesus. We're here to talk about what you did, what your life 2,000 years ago". No, no, no. It's also a power that can be experienced in your life as well. In other words, you don't have to celebrate Easter. You can experience Easter. You can have it working in your life. Now, there is a catch. And again, I'm your tour guide. I'm just gonna make sure you can see what the catch is, because there's a catch that is, it's a word that's all throughout the Bible that becomes the condition in order for that to happen. And it's this word right here: you've gotta believe.

Well, it sounds beautiful. It sounds almost easy. But anyone who's ever tried to do it knows it's not. It's hard, actually, to actually put your faith in something that you can't see, you're not sure of. In fact, that's what doubt is: it's being uncertain of something. Now, my goal this Easter is to make this word a whole lot easier for you. In fact, I'll show you a verse in John chapter 11 where Jesus said these words. He says, "Look, I am the resurrection. So, I didn't just get resurrected; I am it. Like, I'm the one who can let that happen in your life, and I am the life, and the one who", and there's our word, "the one who believes in me will live, even though they die". That's talking about heaven. "And whoever lives by believing in me will never die". That means earth, that you'll still have a life on earth, even though death is all around us. And then it asks this question, "Do you believe this"? And the answer for most of us would be, "I'm not sure. I mean, it sounds good, but I have a hard time getting there".

So, the gift I'm going to give you today is to show you the process of how we end up being a doubter and how we can get out of our doubt and become a believer. I'm gonna do it in two stories. The first story will show us how we end up in doubt, and it's a story of a man who brought his demon-possessed child to Jesus. It goes like this. So, Jesus is teaching and preaching like he normally does, and a man in the crowd answered, "Hey, teacher, I brought you my son, who was possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of his speech. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and he becomes rigid. And I asked your disciples to drive it out of him, but they weren't able to".

By the way, the disciples were having a lot of success praying for people and seeing miracles, not just Jesus, but they were a little actually confused why this one didn't happen. And Jesus makes this statement: "You unbelieving", and notice he didn't say, "person". He says, "'You unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.' So they brought him. And when the spirit that was inside the little boy saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground, rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy's father, 'How long has he been like this?' 'From childhood,' the dad answered. 'And it's often thrown him into the fire or water to kill him.'"

Now watch this. And then the dad says something that I can so relate to. 'Cause if you put yourself in the spirit of the dad, you know there's frustration there. You know this is an everyday deal. You're like, every day, they're having to deal with this boy, who's really, really sick. He has some serious issues that was caused by evil spirits, and you can just feel the pain in the dad. And he says, "If you can do anything, would you please take pity on us and help us"? Now, before I show you the next line of the story, you need to know that when I read the Bible, I have a sense of humor, so I see humor in scripture, and a lot of people don't, and I'm just telling you the Bible is an amazing book, and it's loads of fun, and there's a lot of funny things in there, as well, if you can learn how to enjoy it, because you've gotta picture the people, as it's happening.

So, the dad says, "If you can," and Jesus got caught up in that phrase, and he said, "If"? I don't know. 'Cause I think people have the wrong picture of Jesus. I think they see Jesus as always serious, a little bit malnourished, like his cheeks sunken in, you know, and he was walking around with that long, white robe, holding his hands up like he's throwing a curveball. Everybody thinks that's what he looks like. That is not. The Bible says little kids jumped on him. He had kids piling on him. So, you've gotta be a different kind of a person. Like, he had to be going... with candy in his robes. I mean, like, he had, he had to be that way. Anyway, so I think he said this with a little attitude, "If? Do you know who you're talking to"? You know, I think that happened there. Anyway, but then he says this line that is just so challenging again. "Everything is possible for the one who", say it out loud. For the one who? There's that word again.

And then I love, love, love the expression of the dead. The next line, man, I can relate to it, and I bet you can, too, because immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe. I think, I think I'm close. It must not be enough though. So, help me overcome my unbelief. Help me overcome". And today, what I want to help all of us do is overcome our unbelief. Because I see in this story three reasons why this dad was a doubter. I think the first reason, I think it happens to a lot of us, as well, is we don't think that God actually is doing a good job being a god. Like, "Do you even see the struggle that I'm having with my boy. Like, if I was a god, I would've already healed him a long time ago," not knowing, the dad not knowing that Jesus had every intention on setting that boy free.

I think sometimes we've tried to believe, and it didn't work. I brought my child, I brought my son to the disciples. They weren't able to do it. Like, "I went to 21 days of prayer". Like, "I've been praying for this for a long time. It just doesn't seem to be happening. I guess God's not interested". It's just not true, though. And then I think the last reason is we've listened to the doubt of others. "Oh, unbelieving," not just person, I think we live in a generation of doubters. And by the way, it's growing. And by the way, if the church doesn't rise up and really know what the church believes, and start living it out, the whole generation will be an unbelieving generation, and that can't happen on our watch. Can I get a good amen, everybody?

I mean, I'm very serious about that. So, probably in the third year of the church, we were having a little office complex behind the Lloyds, next to the Skates 280 on Highway 280. It was just a little bitty, it's all we could afford at the time, and that's when we had just like three little offices back in the day. And I ended up with an appointment with someone that I did not know. In fact, he was a UAB medical student who made an appointment to come meet me that day. And so I'd never met him before. I didn't really know who he was. And I'm really, like, high-spirited, like, "High five, what's up, man? Good to see you, good to meet you. Tell me about yourself". And he wasn't there. He was real serious, just serious, serious face. And I thought, "Ah, this is not gonna be fun". And, he says, "I've come to debate you". I said, "Debate me? What do you want to debate"? He goes, "I want to debate creationism versus evolution".

And I started laughing. I just think this is hilarious. I'm like, "Really? That's what this appointment is? You wanna debate that"? I said, "All right, man, go ahead. State your case". And he starts saying things that, to me, are just outrageous, like, "Four billion years ago, there was an explosion and particles went in every direction, equally, and then one of the particles ended up in this scum pond, and it was you, and actually you wiggled out of the scum pond, and you grew a tail, and you grew some hair, but then an ice age came, and the tail fell off, and it became a human being". And I said, "Dude, you've got more faith than I have. I mean, that is an amazing story. I think it takes more faith to believe that than that God created you, God put his Spirit inside of you".

So, anyways, he says, "All right," he goes, "all right, your turn". And I said, "I'm not debating you". "Because why? Because you can't do it"? I go, "No, I can do it," I said, "but if you think an argument can change your mind, another argument can change your mind again". I said, "You don't need an argument. You need an experience". I said, "And by the way, why did you make an appointment with a pastor, anyway"? Like, "Why did you wake up and think, 'I'm gonna go talk to a pastor'"? And he just sat there. His eyes got big as... he didn't say anything. I said, "Have you been coming to the church"? He goes, "Yeah, I've been visiting the last few Sundays". I said, "Ah-ha"!

And I'm normally not this bold. Just trust me, I'm not normally this way. But man, I felt something rise up, and see, I said, "I'll tell you. In fact, I'll prophesy to you while you come". I said, "Because you know there's a God. You know he's real, and you're searching for something that's bigger than your intellect". He goes, "So what do I do"? He's like, this is great. I said, "You just keep coming back. You just keep coming back". I said, and I usually close the service, "Every head bowed, every eye closed". You know, give people a chance to receive Jesus as their Lord. On that Sunday, "I want you to lift your hand, that when you experience God in that kind of way". He goes, "Okay, I'll do it". When he said... we were at Mountain Brook High School, it's a sloped floor, 1,000 seats, fine arts theater.

And there was a sound booth on the far left side, right in the middle of the room, and he always used to sit right in front of that sound booth. I think it was so nobody could see him. It's a good place to kind of hide. And he really didn't engage at all, but he was there every Sunday. I saw him every Sunday sitting there. It was kind of exciting. And every Sunday I'd say, "Every head bowed, every eye closed," and I'd look over at him. And you know, I'd say, "If you're ready to give your life to Jesus, lift your hand," and I'd look over there, and he was like, "It ain't gonna happen". Well, I think it was Sunday eight or nine, I remember it was just a little over two months. I saw tears streaming down his face, and I saw not one hand go up, he lifted both hands up, and he prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord. He came up to talk to me afterwards.

He goes, "God changed my life. It happened, it happened". I said, "What did I end up saying? What part of the phenomenal, anointed, deeply theologically intellectual message, what did it? What did I finally say"? He goes, "No, it was the worship, it was the worship". Thanks a lot. But anyway, but he experienced God, just like I said. And I'm telling you, a lot of people, you're looking for an intellectual explanation, and you need an experience, as well, and that's why we had the worship that we had today. And in my prayer, I've been praying for you all, just for about a month, that there'd just be one second where you've experienced the peace and the presence of God, to know that he's real, so that you could take another step toward him. You've gotta be careful.

I remember back in the 1960s, when we were in the space age, you know, everybody was trying, the Soviet Union was trying to get to space and to the moon. And America of course is as well. And the Soviets actually sent a mission out just to see if there's a God or not. So, they publicized it. "We're gonna go to space. We're gonna send one of our cosmonauts out there tethered to the ship, but let him float around and look around, where God is supposed to be, in the heavens, and see if he's there or not". Because they were just, it was part of their propaganda to try to explain to people that God does not exist. And sure enough, went up into space. The cosmonaut tethers out. He looks around, and he declared, "Boga net," no God. It was the headline of the Soviet newspaper. But how many of y'all know if he'd have just unhooked that tether, he'd have found God that day. Isn't that right, everybody?

I'm just saying. But we end up in these doubts. But how about we find out how to get from our doubts to some serious belief, real belief. And to do that, I'm gonna give you a resurrection story, a story that happened after the resurrection of Jesus by a guy that is probably the most notorious doubter that ever exists, because for 2,000 years we have called him doubting? Yeah, you know. You don't even have to be a part of a church to know that, because even among non-church people, it's an idiom that's used to describe somebody who's a skeptic. "You're a doubting, you're just a doubting Thomas". I kind of feel sorry for the guy, by the way, you know. He did something one time, and he gets labeled for it forever. Can you imagine that? Like, there's angry Tommy, and there's lazy Susan.

And you know what I'm just saying? It's like, "Oh". Anyway, but it did happen. But I want to tell you, before I tell you how he got from doubt to belief, which you're gonna see in just a moment, because what he did is what you're gonna need to do. It's the same steps. Let me go ahead and tell you the end of the story. He becomes a believer, a very strong believer. In fact, I've entitled this message today "Believing Thomas". I'm here to change his reputation today. And hopefully your reputation gets changed today, as well, because he became a "Believing Thomas," and he was the first to evangelize the nation of India, the first person to bring the gospel to the nation of India, and the gospel spread tremendously all across India.

In fact, he was actually captured by people of another faith, was threatened to be killed if he didn't deny Jesus. And he goes, "I can never deny him," and they speared him to death right there, and his gravesite is in the nation of India. After the resurrection of Jesus, when he resurrected on that Sunday that we celebrate, for the next 40 days he goes and meets with people. So, he finally would be ascended into heaven, and then he will descend again in his second coming, which I think personally could happen just about any time, according to scripture. But for those 40 days, there was at least ten different encounters. They're all fascinating, I studied all ten of them, because there's great life lessons, and there's great stories in all of them. But of course, one of them was that Jesus appeared to his 12 disciples. But the only problem is, is that Thomas wasn't there. There were just 11. And here's how the story goes.

Now, Thomas, also known as Didymus, I just think that's so funny. John's writing this. I think that's a, you think "Doubting Thomas" is bad. Look what his other name was: Didymus. I told you I see humor in scripture. I'm so sorry, all right. So, Thomas, also known as Didymus, one of the 12, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. But when Thomas found out that Jesus came, the other disciples told him, "We saw him, and it was awesome. Had to have been there. Too bad you weren't". Don't you hate it sometimes in your journey from doubt to belief, it almost seems like everybody else is having an easier experience than you're having, and it's a little bit difficult, and they almost brag. That's kind of what's happening to him.

So, he gets mad. He actually draws a line in the sand, and he said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger in those nail marks in his hands, and put my hand in his side, where that spear went in, I will not believe". He had actually gone worse on the doubting scale. Now, what I want you to see in this story is the first step in the journey out of doubt and into belief. And it's a... I love this so much, I can't hardly stand it, because a week later, even though Jesus was rejected, he heard that conversation. He heard him draw a line in the sand. A week later, the disciples were in the house, again, but Thomas is there this time. And even though the doors were locked, see, they're doing everything they can to keep Jesus out.

Jesus came and stood among them, and he didn't say, "You bunch of doubters". No, no. He said, "Peace be with you". And it's something I want to tell every one of you that are on this journey of trying to figure out whether this is true or not. But you need to realize that Jesus will continually search for you, even if you don't want him to. Let me say it this way. Your doubts won't keep Jesus away. Like, he's not angry at you for being a doubter. In fact, if anything, he understands. Like, you need to understand, when you say, "I don't think I can go there," he says, "Look, I was a human for 33 years. I understand what you're feeling right now". He doesn't, he doesn't say it's okay. He just says he understands it. And what he does is he brings you experiences, 'cause even my friend, the UAB medical student, had kind of drawn a line in the sand. I'm not going there. I've got my set of beliefs.

But Jesus, on that ninth Sunday, touched him enough for his life to be changed. And he touched him not by a fancy argument or a great sermon. He did it through the peace of God. Peace be with you, the presence and the joy that only God can give. Look in my eyes. And if you've ever been in search for something that's real on the inside and not found it, it's because you were looking in the wrong place. Only God can give you that true contentment. Only God can give you that true, the Bible uses the word "blessed," and it means internally happy. It goes beyond external joy. It's something on the inside, regardless of what's going on the outside.

So, C.S. Lewis, you've probably heard his name. He wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. He actually grew up in the Church of Ireland. He was confirmed and baptized as a child. By 15, he can't stand the church so much, he hates, he thinks it's so religious, so ritualistic, that he actually declares himself, at 15 years old, an atheist. "I cannot go there. I'm an atheist". From 15 to 29, he defends his atheism, tries to deter people from being a part of the church. At 29 years old, he met another author. His name was J.R.R. Tolkien. He's the author of "The Lord of the Rings" series. J.R.R. Tolkien is a very strong Christian, witnessed to C.S. Lewis for more than two years.

C.S. Lewis, at 31, ends up becoming a very strong, on-fire Christian, out of being an atheist. And he writes, eventually, his autobiography about his experience to finding Christ. And he was literally one of the most brilliant minds ever. If you've ever read his quotes or his works, he's genius, and he doesn't talk about that. In fact, the title of his book is called "Surprised by Joy". He didn't defend his faith with his intellect. He defended it by his experience. And I tell you that, so you'll look for it. That's all I wanted to say there. I just want you to look for it, because your doubts aren't going to keep him away. You can declare you're an atheist all day long. That will not keep him away. And you never know. He might surprise you with some joy.

Let's look at the rest of the story. Then he said to Thomas, "Okay, I'll come to your level. I don't like that we're having to do this, for you to be a believer, but I'll go there". I just want you to notice that. Jesus will go there with you. He says, "Okay, put your finger here. See my hands". And I love these two words, "Reach out". Now, what was Jesus doing? He was encouraging Thomas to step towards something that he had not yet accepted, but just take a step toward it. And what this teaches us is you're gonna have to take a step. So, when you sense God, like you're gonna have to keep coming back to church. You're gonna have to do something that steps toward it, because belief won't come to you. You're gonna have to go to it, and I just wanna give you permission to go on the journey of faith. I like it.

Let me tell you why I like this. Because for decades, you couldn't do that in a church. The church, in my opinion, had it all wrong. They made you believe before you could belong, and they made you behave before you could belong, and that's not what the Bible says. Jesus steps in and says, "No, no, no. Long before you believed and long before you behaved, you can come along for the ride and check it all out. You're welcome". And I'm here to tell you at Church of the Highlands, if you're an agnostic, if you're an atheist, if you don't even know what you are, you just want to check it all out, you are more than welcome to come just be among us, come cut a tree off of somebody's house with us, like just be a part. Amen, everybody? Come on, church, amen?

So, I'm just welcoming you. Because some are waiting. You're waiting to believe before you pursue, and I'm telling you, you're going to have to pursue before you can believe. So, you heard Brook say, I tell people, "Give us a year of your life". So, I've done this for 20 years. Let me do it one more time, today. Give us, just try. What do you have to lose? Like, go all in. I'm talking, like, go all in. Like, if we're doing it, do it, try it. I promise you, it won't even take a year. Your life will be so radically different. It will be the ride of your life, and you'll never know unless you try. And probably what you're doing now is not working anyway. So, why not dive all in? I'm even talking to you, the guys that are already Christians. Like, isn't it about time that you worship in the way he said to?

"Well, I don't like it that way". But we didn't make this up. It's in the Bible. Gee. God wrote that, not us. We didn't write, "Clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto God". We're just doing what the Bible says. I mean, I didn't write, "After you give Jesus your life, you know, let somebody dunk you in a pool of water". That's just in the Bible. You say, "Why do you do that"? Just because he asked us to. And it's amazing to me the number of people, like, "No, I'm gonna pick this, but not that". And that's why you're not getting the best part of God. Give us a year, give us a year, like, get in a group. Go ahead, take the journey. I promise you, and if it hasn't changed your life, I'll go to another church with you. I promise you, I will, I really will.

So, let's finish this story. By the way, the next verse is the moment he gets saved. It's the moment he becomes a believer, and it's all you'll have to do. And what I love, it's the shortest verse we've seen so far. You know why? 'Cause it is that easy. Being a believer is actually easy, but it will cost you everything. 'Cause he just said, "My Lord, my God". "My Lord" means I'm coming into a devoted, committed, I belong to you relationship. That's what that word means. I belong to you, I commit to you. And notice he personalized it. He didn't say, "The Lord, the God". He goes, "No, like, you're my, my, my..." What does that teach us? Give your life, who, by the way, is to the one who gave his life to you first. Jesus loves you so much that he was willing to do it first and then devote your life completely to him.

Let me say it this way. Christianity is not a set of beliefs. It's not just something that's in your mind. It's not belief in, it's belief on. Belief isn't faith in something, it's faith on someone. And I'll tell you a story that'll illustrate it. So, in 1824, a guy named Charles Blondin was born in France. At age five, his parents put him in acrobat school. He was gonna be a tightrope walker. That's what he was gonna do. He was very good at it. At age 31, his family migrated to America. They lived in New York. He had his tightrope act across Niagara Falls. You can go google it and see pictures. It's amazing. He was very good at it, very dangerous, obviously. You make a mistake, you're dead. And he was very good at it. He sold tickets, and that's how he made his living.

Well, after you've done it, nobody wants to come again, because they've already seen it. So, he kept thinking of different ways to do it. He did it in a sack. He did it with a wheelbarrow. He did it blindfolded. He actually did it on stilts once. Again, he has to continually figure out a way for people to come. So, he's thinking of new ways. And one day he says, "How many of you believe I could do this with somebody on my back"? And everybody in the crowd went, "Yeah, you can do it". He goes, "Okay, I need a volunteer". And there wasn't no hands raised 'cause they had belief in, but they weren't ready to put their belief on. There are too many people, especially in the south, you have a belief in, but you've never put your belief on. And today is your day, and it will change everything.

So, at Easter, this is normally, by the way, where I say, "Every head bowed, every eye closed". I'm not gonna do that today, 'cause at Easter, for 20 years, we've done something that's a whole lot of fun. We call it a spiritual survey. So, I'm gonna ask every one of you, staff included, everybody in the room, and you worship God, you have a white card, would you please take it out? And if you're not gonna fill it out, just humor me, just like fake it, like do your hand like this, just, it doesn't bother me, really. Just, but I want you to just, just hold it. Could I just get you to hold it for a second?

And we're gonna close here in just a second. I just ask everybody just stay seated. This'll just take a second, all right? At the bottom of the card, bottom of the card, you see four letters there, and that's the survey. And by the way, next Sunday, I'll announce the results. And the A stands for people that are already in a relationship with God. They're already a believer, and it's very real to you. And by the way, we've already had tens of thousands of people in this survey say that's where they are. "I'm already a believer". It's just good to know. I love to know who I'm talking to. B is for those who want to make that decision today. "I'm going to be a believer today. I need a fresh start. I need a new beginning. I'm gonna let Easter 2021 be that day. I am believing not just in".

And for some of you, you've been a believer in, but today you're becoming a believer on. C is for that crowd that I'm so glad you're here. "I'm not ready yet. I just need to check it out a bit more. I want to consider it a bit more first". And D is kind of scary, just let you know straight up. It's for those who say, "I don't ever intend on making that decision".

By the way, the reason that we have this is that we're gonna pray for you, whether you like it or not, and you probably don't. We've already had two people today check B. My team brought me the cards. I've seen the cards, and two people wrote next to B, "Two years ago, I was a D". And I just love that, why? Because your doubts won't keep him away. So, I'm gonna ask you to fill this out, every location. Campus pastors, you can come to the stage, so you can close the service. And when you're finished, would you just bow your heads. That'll let us know you're finished, so we can close the service. If you're watching online, you could participate by texting A, B, C, or D to the number 74000. That's all. A, B, C, D, the number 74,000. So, I'm gonna ask you to stay very still, very quiet, 'cause we're gonna pray.

And Father, I thank you, how you're speaking to people right now. Lord, I ask you to move in their life, like only you can, and that you'd reveal yourself by your peace and your joy.

If you checked B, or chose B, I want to be the first to congratulate you on becoming a believer, and I now want to lead you in a prayer that the Bible says we are to pray when we become a believer. So, just repeat after me. You could just whisper it. Just say:

Father God, thank you for sending your Son to die for me. And I receive what Jesus did on the cross. Today I don't just believe in, I believe on. Jesus is my Lord. Jesus is my Lord. I belong to him. I devote my life to him. I believe Jesus died, and he rose again, and today I put my faith in you. Forgive me and change me. In your name I pray, amen.

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