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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - In a World of Bad News, BE THE GOOD NEWS

David Jeremiah - In a World of Bad News, BE THE GOOD NEWS


David Jeremiah - In a World of Bad News, BE THE GOOD NEWS
David Jeremiah - In a World of Bad News, BE THE GOOD NEWS
TOPICS: The World of the End, End times, Gospel

It was July of 1986, and thousands of men and women from developing nations around the world boarded airplanes, many of them for the very first time in their lives. They checked into hotels to find something they'd never seen before: indoor plumbing. They were called barefoot evangelists. Men and women with little education or training who hacked through jungles, forded rivers, endured rejection, took the good news to huts and hamlets all over the world. Evangelist Billy Graham had raised millions of dollars to bring 8000 of these local preachers to the Dutch capital for days of training and encouragement. I remember when he did that. Never in church history had such a gathering occurred on this scale. There were representatives at that conference from 180 different nations.

In one of his sermons that week, Billy Graham preached a very unique and yet very common Billy Graham sermon. I can't preach like Billy Graham but I'm gonna read to you what he said. He said, "Biblical evangelism preaches Christ alone as the Savior of men. Paul told the Corinthians, 'For Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.' Jesus alone is the way to God. Apart from Him we are spiritually dead and lost. Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection became the Gospel. Jesus Christ is the Gospel"! And sitting in rapt attention was one particular barefoot evangelist named Joseph, a converted warrior from the Maasai tribe of Central Africa. During the conference, he asked to see Billy Graham. For logistical reasons, as you can all imagine with 8000 guys there, a lot of people wanted to see Billy Graham, and it was very difficult. He couldn't meet very many people, but Joseph was given a few minutes to tell his story.

As a young man, Joseph had heard the gospel on a dusty African road and he responded instantly by trusting Jesus Christ as his Savior. He soon longed to return to his native village and share the good news of the kingdom of heaven, so he went from door to door when he got home, telling others what had happened to him, and he expected everybody's face to light up and, instead, they were filled with rage. According to his report, the men of the village seized Joseph and held him down while the women brutally flogged him with barbed wire. After the beating, he was dragged into the bush and left there to die. He crawled to a watering hole, spent several days recovering and decided he had either left something out of the story or shared the message incorrectly, so he worked on his testimony, rehearsed it, prayed, limped back to the village to try again, saying, "Jesus died for you so that you might have forgiveness and come to know the living God". He got another flogging. Recovering a bit, he went back and was whipped a third time.

The barbed wire the third time was cutting into the old wounds of the first time. By now, one of the women who was beating him started to weep uncontrollably. As Joseph lapsed into unconsciousness, he saw others who were beginning to cry. He awoke in his own bed, his former tormentors trying to save his life. And as a result of his patient witness, the whole village came to Jesus Christ. So Joseph's telling Dr. Graham this story. In order to make his point, he pulls up his shirt so that he could see the scars on his chest and on his back. After he left, the famous evangelist could say only, "I'm not fit to untie his shoes, and he wanted to see me".

Have you ever thought of yourself as a barefoot evangelist, someone who can share the gospel anytime, anywhere, whatever your level of training or education, regardless of the reaction? Well, that's what you are. The world is filled with those of us wanting to tell others what Jesus has done for us, and that reality reflects another prophecy from Matthew 24. Remarkably, on one of the last days of his natural life, Jesus predicted a time when the gospel of the kingdom would be preached to the ends of the earth, heralding the approach of his return. No one in those days could ever dream of it. Jesus was a country preacher from a rural mountain in Galilee. He encountered a lot of skepticism on the rare occasions he came to Jerusalem for the festivals. He spoke in simple parables, pastoral teachings. Few people outside of his circles even knew who he was. People know way more about Jesus now than they did back then. Yet speaking privately with his disciples, shortly before his brutal death, he said to them, one day his unique message would touch the furthest corners of the globe. The gospel of the kingdom would be preached to the ends of the earth and when it did, the world would never be the same.

Now, of all the prophecies that we've studied this far in Matthew 24, I must tell you, this is the most implausible. I mean, one could imagine the continuation of war, deceivers come and go, there is always gonna be disease and famine, but who in the world could ever imagine that the words of a rural rabbi from Galilee would transform human history? Who would ever believe that his words would reverberate in every subsequent generation and be as life-changing 2000 years later as the disciples had known it to be in their own life? This is our Lord's positive prediction. So far, we've looked at a lot of grim prognostications in the Olivet Discourse, but during all those difficult days at the end of history, one thing will be unstoppable, and that is the relentless spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ in every generation, on every continent, and through every difficulty. Like a beam of light through the blackened night, the good news will bring the world its only hope.

The message of Jesus, crucified and resurrected, will echo through all the turbulence of the times and herald his swift return. Think of it. The gospel that you and I have in our lives, in our hearts, in our hands, is the only message of hope for the world in which we live. Matthew 24:14, Jesus said it this way: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to the nations, and then the end will come". I wanna talk with you today about the unstoppable message of the gospel. Let's start with the word "gospel" itself. The Greek term is evangelion. You can instantly see how we get our word "evangelism" from that Greek word. Evangelion, evangelism. But look closer. Notice that in the middle of that word is the word "angel," E-V-A-N-G-E-L-I-O-N. What is an angel doing in the middle of the gospel? Well, the word literally means messenger. The Greek prefix, "E-V," means good so the word "gospel" literally means good message, good news.

I always love this because the word "angel" is also used to describe a preacher, so I am an angel. My wife wouldn't agree, but I'm gonna say it. This word appears for the first time in the Bible at the beginning of Jesus's ministry. In Matthew 4:23 it says: "And Jesus went about all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom," the good news of the kingdom. The gospel, as you know, is a set of facts rooted in history, based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Son of God, Son of man, came to this earth and paid the penalty for the sin of the whole world. He could do that because he was the infinite God. One man could not do that for another man but God can do it for all men, and he did. He came to this world. That's the fact of the gospel. And those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, as we know, enter a living relationship with God by grace and through faith and Christ alone is the one who can bring forgiveness and eternal life.

Ephesians 1:13 says it this way: "In Christ you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation". When we receive this message called the gospel by simple faith, and we confess Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives, we become living recipients and embodiments of the good news. In other words, we say yes to Jesus. I can't help but pause here and ask this question at the beginning of this message: Have you said yes to Jesus? Everything in life and eternity depends on your answer to that question. In Romans 1:16, Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," watch this, "for the gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes". So when you go back to Matthew 24 there's something else that's very interesting. Matthew says: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached".

Why is it called the gospel of the kingdom? Let me try to deal with that because it can become a theological hornets' nest if you let it. The gospel of the kingdom isn't any different, really, than the gospel that we know, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was preached during Jesus's life, and the answer sounds complicated, but I'll keep it simple. The word "kingdom" is short for the king's domain. Jesus is the King and we are a part of his kingdom. When we accept Jesus Christ, he sets up his throne in our hearts, he becomes King of our lives so when he came to bring the gospel, he brought his kingdom. We are now part of his kingdom because he lives in our heart.

Now most of you know that's not the end of the story because one day, after the Rapture, after the Tribulation, he's going to return to this earth, we'll be with him and the angels, and he's going to set up his earthly kingdom on this earth. And for 1000 years, he will literally reign as King without any sin or jealousy or any of the other things that happen in earthly kingdoms. It will be a perfect kingdom and it will be the best time the earth has ever seen. That is what we call the Millennium, that's the kingdom. So, get this straight. The kingdom of God is in your heart now, but the kingdom of God will also be in the world on the earth during the period of millennium. There's a famous theological phrase for this. It goes like this: "God's kingdom is already but not yet". It's already but not yet.

When Jesus came to our world the first time, he planted the kingdom on this planet, infiltrating the nations and making the church a part of his kingdom as he came into our hearts. Colossians says it this way: "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of his Son of love". When we became Christians, we became members of the kingdom of God. And when he comes again, he will establish his theocratic kingdom in Israel and reign there for 1000 years, so there you have it. That's the kingdom. And so, in one sense, Jesus's kingdom is already here; in another sense, it is still to be established. In Mark's version of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus was recorded as simply saying: "And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations".

That's the key point. Both the current kingdom of the church and the coming kingdom of the millennial age come from the historic fact of Jesus's death and resurrection, the same gospel that makes you and me instant members of God's kingdom right now will be the powerhouse that allows Christ to rule the world after his return when he sets up his kingdom. There's not more than one gospel, men and women. There's only one gospel. It's the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the gospel of his domain. It's the gospel of our heart. It's the gospel of the millennium. It's the gospel of God. So as we study Matthew 24, we'll see how this works out of a kind of double fulfillment.

Let me tell you what I mean. The message of the gospel, first of all, will be preached before the Rapture. We're living in what we might call the gospel age. The gospel is being preached all over the world in ways that many of us are quite unaware of. There is a flourishing of the gospel in the midst of the decadence of our culture. Hard to understand, but the darker the night becomes and the more desperate people become, the more they grab for anything that offers hope, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is eternal hope. We live in a terrible time culturally, and in a wonderful time for the opportunities that we have to share Christ with our loved ones and friends. The first verses of the Olivet Discourse carry on an "already but not yet" flavor. They describe the days leading up to the Rapture of the church, and then we have to rewind those words because, after the Rapture, those things that we're beginning to see little pieces of now, they develop into a full-orbed experience when the Rapture happens.

What happens when the Rapture comes? The Holy Spirit is removed. Do you know what his second name is? He's called the Restrainer. Can you imagine this world without the Restrainer? When the Holy Spirit is removed, all the people in whom he exists are gone, all of the impetus for good is taken away, no wonder the Tribulation happens, no wonder the world becomes the most awful place it has ever been. So when Jesus said the kingdom is gonna be preached to the end of the world, he was predicting that it would be preached during our lifetime and afterwards. During our lifetime, he was predicting that during the deterioration of world events during the epics leading up to his return, there would be the preaching of the gospel. The gospel is being preached now. I am preaching the gospel. And the one positive trend amidst the signs that we have discussed so far is that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all of the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come. And it will be the end of the church age.

One of these days, the last person will be saved and the Rapture will happen. One of these days, the last invitation will be given and the Rapture will happen. I hope you aren't waiting for a sudden decision when you see everybody else going up. You don't wanna do that. You don't wanna take a chance on your eternity because of some silly reason or something somebody has told you. If you're not a Christian, if you're not saved, today is the day of salvation, this is the day of opportunity. You do not know when the Rapture is gonna happen, nor do I, but let me tell you something I do know, there is nothing that needs to happen before it takes place. The Rapture is an imminent event, that means nothing needs to happen before it happens. No one watching Jesus that day on the Mount of Olivet could have imagined this prediction coming true, that the gospel coming from Jesus who was sitting 4 feet away from them, would cover the whole earth.

Acts 1:8, Jesus: "You shall receive power as the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and to the end of the earth". Now, did that come true? Let me do a little arithmetic with you, a little math. I love the math of the book of Acts, because it tells you what happened. The Day of Pentecost happened, and Peter preached a great sermon. I don't know exactly everything that was in the sermon. I know a little bit, but it must have been a good one 'cause 3000 people got saved at the end of the sermon. And many of them went home from the Day of Pentecost and they were unable to understand the gospel in their own language. It was the miracle of Pentecost. And soon, the number of believers reached 5000. That's in Acts 4:4 and the disciples began multiplying exponentially and the number of the churches multiplied as well.

In fact, I love the fact that, finally, in the book of Acts, they don't have any way to describe it any longer, so they just say, "A lot of people got saved". From Antioch, the first official church sent missionaries. Paul and Barnabas, they were commissioned and they organized missions and, by the early 300s, they Roman Empire had been reshaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing was the same. The gospel had penetrated every institution, every government, everything. The gospel had literally become wild in its propagation. Every generation of Christians from that time until this, have spread the news to those around them. There have been some people of gigantic stature who have led the way, men like Wesley and Carey and Moody and Billy Graham. Most of the work, however, has been done not by the great people that we know. They led the charge, they stood in front of us and challenged us, but the world was changed because of men and women, we call them laymen: people like you and me who have shared the gospel wherever we have gone.

And today, in this world, we have made progress in sending the gospel everywhere. Let me give you a little progress report. There's a group called the Joshua Project that keep track of the gospel and how it's doing in penetrating the various people groups around the world. And there are 17,432 people groups in the world, and about 10,000 of them have been reached with the gospel. That means there are 7416 people groups that need the gospel that don't have it. What that means is they don't have the Bible, they don't know the gospel, they don't have anybody preaching to them, there's no missionaries. If you ever go to Washington, D.C., and get a chance to go to the Museum of the Bible, there's a room there that you can walk into that is overwhelmingly powerful. It has a wall with little boxes that look like a mail room and it shows you all of the people groups of the world and the ones that have been reached are different than the ones that haven't been reached.

They literally take donors into that room and show them all the people groups that are yet to be reached and sometimes people who have great resources say, "My wife and I are gonna take that one". And they pay whatever it cost to get the gospel. And you say, "Well, how do they do that"? Well, we're living in this time, men and women, where it's not as hard as it used to be. Because of technology, the gospel now can be taken out of our language and into another language much quicker. I wish I could explain to you how this happens, but they find the different sounds and all and they create the gospel in technology. Then they marry the technology with the Word of God and it comes out at the other end of the computer a Bible. We are seeing the Bible and the gospel go into languages every year, every month, where it has never been before.

The statistics I have given to you are from '22 but they will be old very soon. We're making progress. The good news is that today we're starting to penetrate even the most difficult barriers by means of technology. The Internet is essential but cheaper methods for setting up satellite TV and radio have also allowed preachers to reach difficult homes of interested people who wanna learn about the gospel. Men and women, we live in a time when the gospel has the opportunity to be heard as never before. And the darkness seems to be coming toward us. In the midst of that darkness, the gospel is standing up, showing the way, shining the light. The unstoppable message of the gospel before the Rapture. But then the Rapture will happen and all God's people will go to heaven and immediately after that, in the first 3½ years of the Tribulation, there's gonna be a massive revival.

Now I know some people that say, "Are you praying for the great revival that's gonna bring Jesus back in the Rapture"? Well, I'm praying for revival, but I haven't prayed that way because there's nothing in the Bible that says we're to have a great revival before the Rapture happens. It's not in the Bible. We hope it happens. I'm okay if it happens. I hope it does happen. But there's one thing I do know. There is a prophecy that after the Rapture, during the Tribulation period, there will be the greatest revival on this earth that has ever happened. You say, "Well, Pastor Jeremiah, how's that gonna happen? All the Christians are gone". Well, I remember J. Vernon McGee say, "But my programs will still be here. They can find them on the radio". Kind of a good idea, right?

Well, let me tell you what I know about that. First of all, there's gonna be two incredible witnesses that show up. They're called the two witnesses. I think it's Moses and Elijah. So how would you like to live in a community and somebody says, "Hey, would you come with me tonight? We're having a rally downtown and Moses and Elijah are gonna be there to speak". I might go to that. These two witnesses are gonna do amazing things. In fact, they will actually die and come back to life. During the ministry of the two witnesses, thousands of people will get right with God and become Christians. Well, if that's not enough, the two witnesses are followed up by 144,000 Spirit-filled Jewish witnesses. Now just think about that phrase for a moment: 144,000 Spirit-filled Jewish witnesses spread all over the world, preaching the gospel. So the gospel will be preached during the Tribulation. Many people don't realize that the first half of the Tribulation will be one of the greatest evangelistic awakenings in human history. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world and then comes the return of God.

Now, that's the message of the gospel, but I wanna conclude my remarks to you today with a second part of this message, which is the unstoppable messengers of the gospel. The message is important, but without messengers, the message can't get distributed. Without preachers, there's no message available. What do we do if there are no messengers? That's why Jesus said, "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, they are ready white for the harvest"! Jesus said we need helpers, we need messengers. There are people ready to be saved, they just need to hear the gospel. And then he said, "I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it". How does the Lord help us to do that? Well, I want to engage with you at a little deeper level right now than where we have been so far, and help you understand we are a group of barefoot evangelists. We are the people who carry the gospel to the world. First of all, we do it by showing it in our lives. We are representatives of the gospel. We are the embodiment of the gospel.

Ladies and gentlemen, that means we need to be different. We need to be people of God. And let me tell you something that you may not have thought of. In the world in which you and I live today, we are more conspicuous than we have ever been. We are more different than we've ever been. There's a greater contrast between a person who is really walking with God and the rest of the people in the world than there's ever been. You say, "How do you know that"? All I know is, I watch what's happening in the world. I watch what goes on in the world and realize if you're an out-and-out Christian and you stand for God, listen to me, you will be noticed. You will be noticed, because you're different. Jesus said it this way: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light". You are the light of the world. "Let your light shine," Jesus said, "so that men will see your good works". There we go, the incorporation of the gospel into your life. "That they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven".

Now Jesus could have said, "That they may hear your good words," but he didn't say that in that passage. He said, "That they may see your good works". In other words, ladies and gentlemen, we need to be people of God. We need to be people that somebody would say there's something different about you because of your relationship with Jesus Christ. If your whole goal in life is just to morph into the culture, you're a secret service Christian, you're never gonna make an impact. God, he doesn't use people like that. How are they ever gonna know? You have to be a person that exhibits Christ in your life. In 1 Peter 3 and verse 1, Peter told the wives of unsaved husbands to live such a humble and happy life, now watch this, that "if any of your husbands do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by your behavior". Here's what Peter said. Somebody must have asked Peter that day, "Hey, Peter, I got a husband who doesn't believe in Jesus. What do I do about that"?

I'm surprised at Peter's answer. Aren't you? He didn't tell 'em, "Go home and preach the gospel". I mean, all the years that I've been a pastor, you wouldn't believe some of the stories I've heard about women who so want their husbands to become Christians and what they do. Some of 'em tell me, "I go home every Sunday, Pastor, and I preach your message to them". And I just think, "Oh, my word. It's bad enough coming from me alone, going through another person". Here's what Peter said. Peter said, "Let me tell you, ladies, how you have the best chance of winning your husband if he's not a Christian. Live your lives in such a way before him that they will want Jesus even if you never say a word to him about it". Be a Christian. Be kind, be loving, be a faithful woman. That's how you win your husband. What I'm saying to you, ladies, is this. I know this to be true. The best way to win your husband is not by the words that you speak, but by the life that you live. Ask God to help you.

One of the secrets that I've discovered in our marriage and I've mentioned this to you before, is the secret of learning how to serve one another. Find out how to serve one another. I remember the day that Donna... man, I wondered, "How can I have been so stupid for so long? She shouldn't have to ask me to carry the trash out. She shouldn't have to ask me to do the things that you would normally do". So I look for the things I can do, and it really disappoints me when she does something I should have done before I could do it. That's the way it should work. Now, I'm no paragon of virtue. I'm still a work in progress. But I'm telling you, the servant principle in a marriage is an overwhelming concept. If you don't get it, you will miss out on much of the blessing God has for you in your marriage. So by showing, you preach the gospel. Then by sharing. At some point in our life, words are necessary and there is no gospel without words.

Hear me carefully. You can live a good life, but if people don't understand why you're living a good life, they got no hope of finding the answer. God has revealed in the Scriptures that he loves us, that we're broken, and that he died for our sins and at some point we may have to communicate these truths. And it doesn't mean you have to have a degree in theology. That's the thing that kills me about all of this. Someone once told me if you wanna have people never come to church, announce that you're gonna preach on witnessing and there will be very few people who show up. You know why? 'Cause we all feel guilty 'cause we don't do it. We know we're supposed to share our faith but we don't do it and there's all kinds of reasons: "I don't feel qualified, I've never had any training," et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But Jesus just said to us, we're to be witnesses.

So you're standing on the corner one day, getting ready to cross the street, and a car comes this way and another car comes that, and they T-bone. Nobody's hurt, but the cars are all messed up and you're a witness. You saw it. So they come and they take down all your information and you have to go to court and, in the court, you have to stand up and witness what you saw. "This is what I saw. I'm a witness". Here's what I want you to know, men and women. To be a witness is simply to tell people what Jesus has done for you. If Jesus hasn't done anything for you worthy of witness, you need to go back and examine your faith. You need to ask God for every opportunity he could ever give you to tell somebody else what Jesus has done for you. You don't have to know A, B, C. You don't have to know the Romans Road. You don't have to know the four spiritual laws. I'm not saying you shouldn't. You'll need them someday, maybe. But to be a witness isn't to be a theologian. To be a witness is to be a lay preacher. To be a witness is simply to tell people what you know has happened in your life.

Let me give you a good little outline. Here it is: What I was before, what I am now, and what made the difference. In our churches, we have literally discouraged witnessing by telling people that they gotta go to this course and that course and then you can witness. You know, the best witnesses are the people that just got saved. They can't help themselves. They have to tell somebody what Jesus has done for them, so let me disabuse you of all of the reasons why you shouldn't be a witness and just tell you. If God has done anything good in your life, figure out a way to tell somebody. I mean, if we could start a groundswell of that, it would change the world. It would change our churches. It would change our communities. Witness.

And there's not one of us here, no matter who you are, how long or short your salvation experience has been, who can't witness. That's how the gospel changed the world. There's no record in the book of Acts of long catechisms on how to witness. They just told everybody what happened. In showing, in sharing. One last way you can help win the world, and that's in supporting. When you give to the gospel, you help the gospel go forward, helping to fulfill our Lord's prediction that when the gospel is preached to the whole world, the Lord Jesus will return the second time to set up his kingdom. So happy to do that. You preach the gospel when you share your resources. Let me ask you this question. What better can you invest in, what better can you give to, than the gospel of Jesus Christ?
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