Greg Laurie — We Can Work It Out
The title of my message is "We Can Work it Out". Sounds like a song. Yes. Okay quick poll. How many of you love to exercise, you love to work out, raise your hand up, 'kay. I notice it's people kinda doing like this, yeah, me, it's me. How many of you hate exercise and you hate to work out, raise your hand up. Oh interesting, it's about even. Which category do you think I'm in? I'm in the second category. I hate it. I do it, but I hate it. And you know, there's reasons, you know, you do it, you want to stay fit, as fit as you can be, or maybe you go to a doctor and he says, you know what, you need to work out more because maybe you're having heart problems, so you go and buy a treadmill and you buy some other equipment and put it in your house and then you almost have a heart attack when you find out how much it costs, right? I mean, it's crazy the expense.
So then maybe you go and decide to join a gym instead. And let's just be honest. Really strange people hang out in gyms, okay? It's, I go to a gym twice a week and it's a good gym, you know, and I've been to gyms over the years and there's certain kinds of people in gyms. First of all, there's the guy who always puts too much weight on the barbell or whatever it is, too much weight. He does three or four reps. He makes too much noise. But the guy that drives me crazy and there's always one of these guys in every gym, he's the guy who sweats too much, right? And then they leave the sweat on the bench, you know, it's like, and you go over and you're looking at a pool of sweat.
Or I knew a guy that used to get on a treadmill and he perspired so much literally, I'm not exaggerating, there would be puddles around it afterwards. People wouldn't get in the treadmill on his right or his left, you know, so there's always these strange people that they hang out but you know, maybe you decide yeah, I want to try to get in shape and exercise a little bit more. I'm up to a hundred crunches a day by the way. Pretty good, yeah. Nestle's Crunches, very good. How many of you have heard that joke, raise your hand. 'Kay, not, most of you didn't, awesome, okay. Yes, but then you know sometimes if you haven't worked out for a long time, you go to a gym and you maybe overdo it and then you're so sore the next day you never want to go back to the gym again.
Well look, we need to stay in the best shape we can stay in because the Bible says our body is the temple of God, right? 1 Thessalonians 5 says, May God Himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole make you holy and whole, spirit, soul and body. I'm not a disembodied spirit. God has placed my soul in a body, so I want to take the best care that I can of this body. The Bible says of course, bodily exercise profits little but godliness is profitable for all things. Some will quote that as a rationalization to never work out. But the Bible actually says it profits a little, you know, so it profits some. Now if you work out and you're more focused on your body than you are on your spirit, you have your priorities out of whack. But if you only think about your spiritual life and you never do to maintain your physical health, that also is an imbalance. So you want to find that right balance, that sweet spot in there, and I bring that up because that is true spiritually as well. We need to work out what God has worked in.
So let's look at our text. It's Philippians 2, starting in verse 12. Paul writes and says, therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. We'll stop there.
So Paul says, work out your own salvation. Notice "your own". Underline those two words. Your own salvation. You can't hire someone to work out for you. Wouldn't that be nice? You know, I don't feel like going to the gym. Go work out for me, I'll pay you for it. Well that may benefit the person who's working out but it won't have any effect on you. You can't have someone get saved for you either. It's your own salvation. It's a personal choice, look at verse 12 again. Paul says, my beloved, as you've always obeyed, not only in my presence, but also more in my absence. Remember Paul wrote this from prison and he had a special bond with the Christians in Philippi, that's the epistle that we're looking at, it's to the believers there. We call it the book of Philippians but it's a letter to people living in Philippi. And he loved these folks and they loved him. And so they were in great agony when they found out Paul was in prison. And so he's saying, guys, it's okay, I'm okay, and you're okay.
In fact, in verse 12 from the New Living Translation, it would go as follows. Dear friends, you're always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. But now that I'm away, you must be even more careful to put into action God's saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. Basically Paul's saying, look, I know you guys loved me and I love you, and I wish I could be there with you. But I need to tell you something. You need to grow up spiritually. In other words, don't start slacking because I'm not there, because it's God that works in you. It's not Paul that works in you, both to will and do of God's good pleasure. It's God that is working in you because there might be some there, there might have been some there, I should say, that thought they needed Paul around to live the Christian life. And how awesome it would have been to have Paul as your pastor. I mean, a living breathing apostle. Or John or James or some of the others, but Paul's saying look guys, I can't be with you, so you need to grow up spiritually.
Now this can happen with us as well. We can find ourselves too dependent on people for our spiritual growth and listen to this, sometimes people can become idols in our life. This happened to the children of Israel. Moses led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness. He wasn't able to bring them actually into the Promised Land but you remember, on one occasion, he had to leave the Israelites because God had summoned him to Mount Sinai to receive the commandments. And in his absence, Moses left Aaron, his brother, as their babysitter, which was a very bad choice because everything fell apart, because basically after Moses had been gone for a while, the people came to Aaron and they said, hey, where is this man Moses in Exodus 32, who brought us out of Egypt? Make us some gods who can lead us because we don't know where Moses has gone.
Now why didn't they say, hey, the Lord is the One who's led us out of Egypt? No, they said, Moses did it. Moses led us out of Egypt. Then if Moses is gone, we need another god to take his place. So it was Aaron that had the bright idea to bring all of their gold and all their bling and he was gonna melt it in the shape of a golden calf, which should have been one of the images that they would have been accustomed to in Egypt. And then they're worshiping this golden calf. Meanwhile, up in Mount Sinai, Moses is done receiving the commandments. He's walking down with these tablets, written with the very finger of God, and he hears noise back in the camp that sounds like some kind of a war and it turns out they're actually having a party. And he comes down and finds the Israelites dancing naked in front of a golden calf. Not good at all.
And Aaron says, I know this looks bad. I can explain everything. You see what happened was we took our gold, we threw it in the fire, and the golden calf came out, so what else could we do but strip off our clothes and worship it. Uh, that's not what happened. You were the one that made the golden calf. You were the one that told them to bring the gold. But here was the problem. Moses was their first god. Excuse me, yeah, Moses was their first god and the golden calf was their second. They let Moses take the place of God in their life. Is that happening to you? Is your whole Christian life dependent on someone else? Maybe your parents? Maybe your husband or your wife or someone else? And you know, if they're not around, you just fall apart.
As long as a strong believer is in your life, you're good, but the moment they're not there with you, you just collapse. Listen, can I just say two words to you? Grow up. Grow up and become a man of God. Grow up and be a woman of God. And build your relationship on God because there's one thing you can be sure of in life. Maybe two things, many more things but I'll just say two for now. You can always be sure that God will be there for you. And number two, you can always be sure that eventually people will let you down. People will let you down. You know why? Because they're sinful just like you are. And we're all gonna fall short, we're all gonna make mistakes, we're all gonna disappoint.
You know maybe that husband walks with the Lord or at least goes to church because the wife does and so one day if she stops going to church, he stops too. Or the children, you know, they went to church when Mom and Dad took them, but when they get older, maybe they go to college and they're out on their own. They stop going to church. We must not let people take the place of God in our lives. When the Lord says have no other gods before Me, that would include putting people there as well. So basically Paul is saying, guys, come on, it's time to grow up. And how are they to do that? Verse 12, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. By the way, Paul did not say work for your own salvation. He said work out your own salvation. You can't work for your salvation. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, is a gift to you from God. The Bible says it is by faith through grace that you've been saved, not of yourself, it's the gift of God.
So what does this mean though when Paul says work out your own salvation? Well remember, he's addressing these words to Christians. Remember when we started this series, we pointed out that he had addressed them as saints. Saint is an interchangeable word for Christian, so these words are written to believers. He's saying to followers of Jesus, and really in effect, to us as well. Work out your own salvation. What does this mean? It means to live out one's faith. Another way to translate it would be carry it out correctly. Excuse me, or work it to full completion. Work it to full completion. The idea is take what God has given you and work it out in your life. It would be like a conductor having an incredible musical composition handed to him and there's a whole orchestra but notes don't jump off of paper and play themselves. You've gotta read the music and then you've gotta play the music. Everybody has to work out their part and play the music.
The same is true for us. We need to work out what God has worked in. Actually the phrase that Paul uses here also could speak of working a mine. Working a mine. You may have heard that there was a gold rush here in California years ago, and the story was, there's so much gold in California you'll find it laying on the streets, you'll find it in the streams. The expression was "There's gold in them thar hills". So people came literally from around the world and what was called the California Gold Rush and everyone was looking for the gold. Well, what little gold was around was quickly removed, but there still was gold in the mines. And if people would take the time to go into the mine and dig deeply and be patient, they might find some of that gold and if they were really persistent, they might find the mother lode, right, that big strain of gold, deep inside of a mine.
So God is saying to you, I've given you all this gold, it's all there, but you gotta work it out. You've gotta mine it. You need to discover it. But then he adds this distinction. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. By the way, Paul is not suggesting you can lose your salvation. I don't really think you can. I think it's a gift given to us by God but what he is saying is as you work it out, recognize your own inability and innate weakness. Let me say something that might surprise you. The Christian life is not hard to live. It's impossible. It is impossible to live as a Christian in this crazy culture we're in today, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. So in my ability, I can't do it. In my strength, I can't keep the commandments. In my own skills, I can't do these things God calls me to do. But it is God that works in me, both to will and do of His good pleasure. So work it out, carry it to the goal, complete it, but with self-distrust.
And by the way, let me just say this to you. If you've put your faith in Christ, let me take a quick poll, how many of you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, raise your hand up. That's pretty much every one. One guy over here didn't raise his hand, so I'm gonna be directing a number of my remarks to you tonight, sir, because I'd like to see you do that. Or maybe you're just sleeping, I'm not sure, but anyway. But I want you to leave this service knowing that your salvation is secure. Let me just fire a few verses at you. I'd encourage you to write these references down because sometimes the devil will attack us and he'll say to us, you're not a Christian. You're a hypocrite. God didn't save you, Christ hasn't come into your life. You psyched yourself into it. This isn't true, the Bible isn't true, none of it's true. Have any of you ever had doubts like that come to your mind, raise your hand if you have. That's not a sin. That means you're a human. And just because a fiery dart or a doubtful thought comes to your mind doesn't mean that you're not a believer, it just means you're being attacked.
So the best way to deflect those flaming arrows that come your way, be it a doubtful thought or a hopeless thought, or a lustful thought, or a hateful thought, or whatever it might be is filling your mind up with God's word. So the devil attacked Jesus in the wilderness, right? And every time the devil tempted Jesus, Christ came back with these words, "It is written". Hey why don't You turn a rock into a piece of bread? Hey it is written, Christ says, man shall live by God's word, not by bread alone. Hey why don't You throw Yourself off the top of the temple? It is written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God. He came back to God's word over and over. Here's a few verses that assure us that we're saved. 1 John 5:10, Anyone who believes in the Son of God has His testimony in his heart.
Romans 8:16, His spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. John 5:24, I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned and he's crossed over from death to life. He has it, it's yours. God's given it to you and God's not taking it back. It's yours to keep. And then of course my favorite assurance verse, 1 John 5:13, These things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. So the next time the devil comes to you and says how do you know you're a Christian, you know, you're not perfect, you've sinned. Why do you think Christ would forgive you? Well you know what, the Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. I know it, quote it out loud. You know it's not a bad thing to quote verses out loud.
When the devil's attacking you, say no, here's what the Bible says and you quote the verse. It's a good thing to do. But you know, sometimes people ask the question, can a Christian lose their salvation? Let me give you a short answer. Ready? No, I don't think so. But let me ask another question and that I think addresses a deeper issue. I don't think the question should be can a Christian lose their salvation. I think the question should be did that Christian who's allegedly lost their salvation ever really have salvation to begin with? You see. Because if they did not bring forth what the Bible calls fruits in keeping with repentance, I would suggest to you that they never were a Christian at all. Hey, just because someone carries a Bible doesn't make them a Christian. Just because someone says "Praise the Lord," it doesn't make them a Christian. The Bible says, even the demons believe and tremble. There has to be fruit or results in their life as they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
Remember Jesus told the parable of the sower and He talked about that seed that fell on ground that was embedded with rocks. And so the seed sprung up quickly but because the rocks were in the soil, it could not sink its roots down deeply, and it died in the blazing sun. And then Jesus went on to say, these are those that hear the word of God. Listen, and they respond with great enthusiasm, but there is such shallow soil of character, that when the emotions wear off or some difficulty arrives, there's nothing to show for it. So you don't work for your salvation. You work it out. Hey here's something you might want to write down. Here are five litmus tests to show that you are really saved. Five litmus tests.
And by the way, they all come from 1 John. Here's number one. If you're really a Christian, and I ask you this question, 'cause someone will say something like this. You know, I tried the whole Christianity thing and it didn't work for me. That drives me crazy when I hear it. 'Cause my answer is no you didn't. Well how do you know? Because Christianity is not an it, it's a Him, and it's God Almighty. And when Christ comes into a person's life, He will work in that life. So if "it" did not work, that's not about Him, that's about you. And here's some questions I would ask the person who allegedly "tried the whole Christianity thing" and it didn't work. Number one, I would ask them, did you confess Jesus Christ as Lord? Because 1 John 4:15 says, if anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
Did you confess Christ as Lord? Did you ever tell anyone you were a Christian? I'm not saying that all you have to do is confess Christ as Lord, because you could do that and not be a Christian, but having said that, I think if you are a Christian, you should confess Him. Sometimes we have people walk forward and invitations and you've heard me quote the verse where Jesus says if you'll confess Me before men, I'll confess you before the Father, and the angels in heaven. And the reason I do that is it helps people to see this is a serious commitment that you must make. And I'm not saying that's the only way to confess Him but it certainly is a way to confess Him. Being a Christian is not something is hidden, but is open.
Number two, do you obey the commands of Jesus Christ, or did you obey them? Because 1 John 5:3 says this is love for God, to obey His commands and His commands are not burdensome, for everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. Did you keep His commandments? Don't tell me you're a Christian, and you're blatantly breaking the commandments left and right. If you love Him, do what He says. And if you don't do what He says, really how much do you love Him? You know, Jesus did not say, you are My friends if you do whatsoever you agree with. He said you are My friends if you do whatsoever I command you. Some will say, well what if it's hard? So what, if He commands you to do it, you do it, it's whatsoever.
You say, well what if you disagree with the Bible? Change your opinion, you're wrong and the Bible's right. It's as simple as that. Also that verse says His commandments are not burdensome. You know, do you find that Christian life miserable and confining? Does it seem to you as though God is out to spoil all your fun? I think you're missing the point a little bit. Because if you've really met Jesus, and He's come to take residence in your heart, and you really have this love relationship with Him, I think you will want to do the things that please Him, and I think you by nature, and I would also add, by a new nature, given you by God, you would not want to do the things that would displease Him, okay?
Number three, if you're a Christian, or if you claimed to have been a Christian, were you unhappy or miserable when you were sinning? Were you unhappy or miserable when you're sinning? 1 John 3:9 says everyone that has been born of God does not habitually sin, because God's seed remains in him and he's not able habitually to sin because he's been born of God. Listen, a Christian will not be sinless but a Christian will sin less and less and less. I think what happens is the more you become like Christ, the more you realize you're not like Christ. And the more godly become, you become, the more you realize how ungodly you really always were.
So there's always the awareness of sin but at the same time, there is change in our behavior. There is change in our actions. There is change in the things that we say and do. That's bringing forth fruits in keeping with repentance. But notice that it says that if you are born of God, you will not habitually sin. It doesn't say you won't sin at all, 'cause some will say well I've reached sinless perfection. No you haven't. No I have. Well you're lying and that's a sin and you haven't. Because the Bible says if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourself and the truth is not in us.
So we'll never be sinless this side of heaven. But having said that, if you can sin habitually, okay, that's the key. In the Greek it says, if you habitually sin. It's not like, oh I sinned, God I'm sorry. I repent, that's one thing. It's a person that sinned and then sins the next day and the next day. In fact, they're living in a pattern of sin. They're living in a lifestyle of sin. This is the choice they make over and over and over. If you live that way, according to scripture, you're not really born of God. So there should be kind of a misery there. And if you're unhappy in sin, that's good. And if you're happy in sin, and you don't feel any conviction or guilt, wow, that's a bad thing actually, you see. I think it comes down to this. It's not that these people are losing their salvation. It's that they never really had salvation to begin with.
Look, I know Christians can go astray. I know there can be prodigal sons and daughters. My mother was a prodigal for most of her adult life and came back to faith under the wire, shortly before she died. Both of my boys, for a time, were prodigal sons. They knew what was right. They weren't happy living the way that they were living, but they were living in a way that was not right before the Lord, but thankfully both of them recommitted their life to the Lord. And I think here's what it comes down to. A true believer will always come back to God. Now, if someone says they're a Christian, and they never come back, then I would suggest to you they were never a Christian. But if they're a Christian and they come back, then that shows they're a child of God or we could call them a prodigal.
Now you've all heard the story of the prodigal son, right? How many of you have heard the story of the prodigal pig? Yeah that's in the Bible too, the prodigal pig. It's in 2 Peter 2. It says it would be better if they had never known the right way to live than to know it and reject the holy commandments that were given to them, then make this proverb come true. A dog returns to its vomit and a washed pig returns to the mud. I knew the Bible is true for many reasons, but here's one. Not just because it predicts the future accurately, not just because everything that is said I've found true in my life, but because I've seen a dog eat its own barf. That's what it's saying. A dog returns to its own vomit. Dogs are so weird that way, right? And I've watch a dog throw up and eat it. What's going on? What's going on in the dog mind there? Need a hot meal. There it is. Really? Then later they'll wash it down with some toilet water. Then they'll lick us in the face and people will say, oh you know, a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's. Oh, do you eat barf and drink toilet water? 'Cause that's what that dog just did.
So a dog returns to its own vomit. Why does a dog do that? Because it's a dog and dogs do doggy things, and he's an animal. But people want to treat dogs like little humans. The other day, I slowed down for a person 'cause they're getting their baby stroller out and I was so patient. They opened up the back of their SUV and they got it out, it was all pink and frilly, and I'm just waiting, smiling, oh wow, you know. And then they pulled a dog out and I almost was mad, okay? I mean, really? And they're pushing the dog, right, isn't it interesting no one pushes cats around in strollers? Why is that? Maybe cats are smart in that regard. I'm not getting in that. Dogs are like, barf's great, I'm gonna eat barf later. I don't know what's happening. But then there's the pig.
You know that some people are buying pigs as pets? The newest craze is a teacup pig, which really is a potbellied pig, that's what they call it, and it's just a smaller version and you know, there are articles out there telling you it's not like having a dog. They cost more and there's a lot of trouble with them and you, you know, all these issues with pigs. But you don't think I want a little potbellied pig, I'll carry the little pig around with me. And you know, and I'll get the pig a little outfit and it'll be my little, yeah, you know the pig would rather be in the slop. And you know why pigs hang out in slop? 'Cause that's how they cool off. So a pig is happy cooling off in the slop, right? That's where they want to go. They want to go back to the pigpen, they want to eat all that garbage on the ground. That's a pig, because a dog is a dog and a pig is a pig and a horse is a horse, of course, of course. And if you're laughing, you're old or you've seen the Mr. Ed TV show. Maybe you saw it in rerun, but anyway.
Here's my simple point. They're just doing what comes by nature. Some coming back to that issue I raised earlier. A prodigal will always return to God, but a pig won't. So are you a pig or a prodigal? See if you're a prodigal, you'll come home to your Father. If you're a pig, you'll go back to your own slop. Or a dog to its own vomit. That is exactly the illustration before us. Don't get mad at me for talking about barf. It's in the Bible. So we have to ask ourself, which one are we? 1 John 2:19 says they went out from us, but they did not really remain with us, and if they had been really part of us, they would have stayed with us, but by going out, they showed they never belonged to us. Isn't that interesting? So a true test is where a person winds up. Let me say that again, a true test is where a person winds up. A true believer will always come home eventually. A person who is not a true believer will not.
Here's another one, two others, Number four, did you keep yourself from the devil? See if you're really a Christian, if you're really been born of God, you'll keep yourself from the devil. 1 John 5:18 says we know whoever is born of God does not sin habitually, and he who has been born of God keeps himself from the devil and the wicked one does not touch him. What does it mean to keep themself from the devil? Well the idea is that you stay as close to God as you possibly can. See I don't keep myself saved, but I can keep myself safe. Let me say that again, I don't keep myself saved, that's God's work. He saves me. But I keep myself safe because I know there are certain places if I go there, that's a bad scene for me. Like, you know, let me illustrate with food, I know there's certain places, there's certain food I like to eat in that place, and if I go there, I'm gonna eat that food. But if I don't go there, I won't eat that fattening food.
So I may avoid that place. So the same is true in life in general. If I go to this party, if I hang out with this person, if I watch this thing on TV, if I go to that website, trouble always follows. Okay, news flash. Don't go to that website, don't go to that party, don't hang out with that person, see. But then in the, instead of it, find a better place to go, like church for a midweek Bible study. What a great choice you made. Well done, pat yourself on the back. Go ahead, try it, it's not that hard. Yeah, that looked really weird. Okay, no but I'm glad you're here. You made a really good choice here for tonight. Replace your ungodly friends with godly friends. Go to websites that will edify you and build you up in your faith. Harvest.org isn't a bad place to go. We have a lot of goodies there and also we have an app for your phone and daily devotionals and all our messages and all kinds of things but you know, replace it with something that's better.
The Bible says that we should keep ourselves in the love of God. So the idea of that is stay as close as I can to the Lord. And another one, do you love other Christians? If you're really a Christian, you will love other Christians. Why, 1 John 5:1 says everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. You know, when you really someone, you'll love their kids too. You know, and I have friends, they have kids. Aye, I love their kids too. That love extends to the children, right? And in the same way, if we really love God, we'll love His children and we'll want to be with His children. Some people might say well, you know, I can't find a church I really like. And plus I work on Sunday, it's my only day off.
Okay, but the Bible says don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together as a manner of some is, but exhort one another and so much more as you see the Day of the Lord approaching. It doesn't say, don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless Sunday is your only day off. Or don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless you want to run in a triathlon, or don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless it's a good beach day. No, it says don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together, to put it in vernacular, don't miss opportunities to be with other Christians for worship, in the church, hearing the Word of God. I know the church has its flaws. That's because we're in it, right? But just remember that Jesus started and loves the church and Jesus died for the church.
And 1 John 5:1 says if you love the Father, you'll love His child as well. So if you really love God, you'll love His kids. Now let me turn it around. If you don't love His kids, by that I mean fellow Christians, how much do you love God? How can you say you love God, who you can't see, if you won't love His people who you can see? Start there. And so, these are simple litmus tests that show that our faith is real. Here's the key, look at verse 13, don't miss this. It is God that works in you, both to will and do of His good pleasure. So let's look at it again. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, which means carry it to the goal, fully complete, like you're in a mine, fear and trembling, with self-distrust. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure. It's God working in me. It's not me trying to imitate Jesus. It's Jesus living in me and Jesus living through me, you see. That's where the strength comes. I mean, where did you ever get a desire to even want to open the word of God? I'll tell you, that came from God Himself. Where did you ever find a desire to want to actually worship God? That too came from the Lord.
So that's where we're gonna get the desire to will and do of His good pleasure. This is what the Lord wants for each and every one of us, so we can know we're saved, and then we'll know we're safe. We'll get into the rest of it next time because there's some amazing truths in those verses that follow and I don't want to rush over them, so I'm gonna just put a period on this part of the message and we'll return to it later, because Paul goes on to talk about things that can get in the way of this, and they're very important things for us to understand. But let me just say, you know, some of you maybe you've joined us tonight and most of you have, physically at least. We're talking about being saved and you don't even know what we're saying. I think the phrase "saved" is a perfect expression that's very understandable. We understand it in other settings. Someone's in a burning building. Firefighter rushes in, and what do we say? They were saved, right? Or someone's drowning and a lifeguard goes and rescues them, what do we say? They were saved. Because they were on the brink of death and someone saved their life.
So when we talk about Christ being in a life, what do we say? You're saved, saved. Saved from what? Uh, hell, that's a big one. That's the biggest one of all. You're saved from hell, because you've believed in Jesus, you're no longer going to hell. And now you're going to heaven. But saved from what else? Saved from the power of sin. I no longer have to be under its control. I've been set free by Christ. Saved from any addiction, saved from any vice, saved from anything or anyone, and saved from the power of the devil. Oh man, before I was a Christian, I was like a spiritual dartboard. I had no way to fend off the devil. But because Christ lives in me, we already read there in 1 John, the wicked one touches me not. That doesn't mean the devil can't tempt me because he can and he will. That doesn't mean the devil will not hassle me because he'll do that as well. But what it means is the devil cannot control me and the devil cannot attach himself to me and certainly the devil cannot live inside of me.
You know sometimes people say, I think I have a demon in me. I need to go get delivered. Uh, are you a Christian? Yes, well, God's not into a timeshare program, okay? When Christ moves in, the devil moves out. That's as simple as that. As 1 John said, the wicked one is not attached to you any longer. He's still there in the exterior, trying to make havoc but he needs your cooperation 'cause you're under divine protection. It's almost like you have an ID tag hanging off you now that says "Property of Jesus Christ" and the devil can read. And he respects it, but he still wants to make your life hard. And if you're listening to him, then you'll have trouble, but if you keep your distance from him and keep your eyes focused on Jesus, just remember God will never give you any more than you can handle.
There's always a way of escape to every temptation. But saved, I love that. You know there's a story in the book of Acts, of Paul and Silas who were arrested for preaching the gospel. And they were thrown into a Roman dungeon. And this jailer was especially cruel. He beat them and so their backs were ripped open. And he put them in stocks, big, huge metal stocks, spreading their legs apart, causing excruciating pain. And in the hellhole of this prison, the Bible says Paul and Silas began to sing praises to God. And by the way, this all happened in Philippi, the city that this epistle is written to. So Paul and Silas started singing praise songs to God and everyone was listening. And then a great earthquake came and it shook the walls of the prison, and the guard, who had beaten Paul and Silas, knew that he would die, 'cause if a Roman guard lost his prisoners, he would be put to death. And so he's getting ready to kill himself with his own sword, and Paul says, stop, don't kill yourself. We're all still here. And this guard says, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? That's King James, I love it, Sirs. What must I do to be saved? Paul says, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved.
See, he had been won over by their lifestyle, he had been won over by their faith in the worst circumstances imaginable. And he believed right on the spot. So you say, well what do I need to do to be saved? Same thing Paul said, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And you can do that tonight. In a moment we're gonna pray and I'm gonna give you an opportunity to believe in Jesus. You might ask well what does it mean to believe in Jesus? What it means is you believe He's here. You believe He's real and you ask Him to come into your life, because when it's all said and done, being a Christian is Christ living in you. And He will come and set up house in your life. He will come and take residence in your heart. And be your Savior and be your Lord, and be your Friend, and much much more. But He will not force His way into any life. He waits for our invitation to ask Him in. So we're gonna bow our heads now and pray. And if any of you have never asked Jesus to come into your life, you can do it right now. Let's bow our heads.
Father, thank You for sending Jesus. And Lord Jesus, thank You for coming and going to that cross and dying for our sin, to save us. And thank You for rising again from the dead and now You stand here at the door of our life and you knock. And if we'll just hear Your voice and open that door, You will come in. I pray for any that are here that don't know You. Any that are listening, any that are watching that don't know You, help them to come to You now, we would pray, in Jesus' name.
And while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, and we're praying together, how many of you would say, Greg, I want Jesus to come into my life right now? I want to know that I will go to heaven when I die. I want all of my sins forgiven. I want a fresh start in life. I'm ready to say yes to Jesus. Pray for me. If you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want Him to forgive you of your sin, if you want to be sure you'll go to heaven when you die, would you just lift your hand up right now, wherever you are and I'll pray for you. God bless you. Anybody else? God bless you. Raise your hand up, let me pray for you tonight. God bless you, God bless you too. Just raise your hand up wherever you are. I can see you. God bless you there in the back. God bless you too. Raise your hand up, let me pray for you. God bless you. And you in the front here, yes. Anybody else?
You want His forgiveness, you want this relationship with Him we've been talking about. Listen, it can happen for you tonight. He'll be your Savior, your Lord. This is personal. But He won't force His way in your life. You must ask Him in. Anybody else? You would like Christ to come into your life, raise your hand up, let me pray for you. God bless you. While our heads are still bowed, you know, I talked a little bit about prodigals tonight and I asked you are you a prodigal or are you a pig. You know, a prodigal will always come home. Do you need to come home tonight? Have you been wandering? Have you been compromising? Have you been doing things you know you should not do as a follower of Jesus, and would you like to come back to Him again? He'll receive you, He'll accept you, He'll forgive you because He's missed you and He loves you.
While our heads are still bowed, if you would like to come back to the Lord as a prodigal son or daughter, would you raise your hand up right now. Let me pray for you, God bless you. Anybody else, raise your hand up. Let me pray for you, God bless you too. God bless you. You know who you are. God's Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Just raise your hand up, I'll pray for you. God bless you. Anybody else? God bless each one of you. Now I'm gonna ask did everyone of you if you would please, who's raised their hand, I want you to stand to your feet and I'm gonna lead you in a prayer of commitment or recommitment to Christ. So if you raised your hand, even if you did not, but you want Christ to come into your life, or you want to come back to the Lord again, stand to your feet, I'm gonna lead you in prayer. Stand up, that's right, you heard me right. I want you to stand to your feet, stand up. God bless you that are standing.
If you raised your hand, saying I want Jesus or you raised your hand, saying I want to come back to Jesus, stand up and I'll lead you in a prayer. By the way, others are standing. Right now, people are standing all around you. Just stand up, you won't be alone. You're with friends and family tonight, okay. Anybody else, stand up now and I'm gonna lead you in a prayer. Stand up now. Even if you didn't raise your hand but you want to make this commitment or recommitment to Christ, stand up and stay standing if you would. I'll wait one more moment, anybody else stand now, just stand up. God bless you, yeah. Anybody else, stand now. All right, all of you standing, I want you to pray this prayer out loud after me. Again as I pray, you pray this out loud right where you're standing, okay. Pray this after me now.
Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner, but I know that You're the Savior who died on the cross and shed Your blood for every sin I have committed. I'm sorry for my sin. I turn from my sin and I choose to follow You, Jesus from this night forward. Thank You for loving me. Thank You for calling me. Thank You for saving me. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.