Greg Laurie - Happy Feet
Far too often we see nonbelievers as the enemy. Why? Well because they do wicked things. Wicked people do wicked things. Newsflash: you used to be one of them. I used to be one of them. We said things that were mean. We hassled people that had faith, perhaps. And so now we are on the receiving end of it and we say "Those wicked people. May God judge them". No. Jesus saw them as confused and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Nonbelievers are not the enemy. Nonbelievers are under the control of the real enemy who is Satan.
You know, the Bible uses the word "Saved" a lot. This is a word that has maybe fallen out of fashion a bit. We don't see it as much as we used to, but actually is it not the perfect word to describe what it means to be a Christian? To be saved. It's a dramatic word. It's a word you'll read in a newspaper article about a firefighter who went into a burning building and saved a person. And the Bible tells us that God has saved us. And you used to see on churches big signs that would say: Jesus saves. I love that because that's so true. Jesus saves and that's exactly what he does. There may have been a time when more folks would walk up to nonbelievers and actually ask them the question: are you saved? But I don't know if we would use that expression as much today as we used to, but I think we ought to because it's very accurate.
According to the Bible, you are either saved or you are lost. You are either born again or you are spiritually dead. According to scripture, you are either headed to heaven or you're headed to hell. Now, I know that's not politically correct to say in this day and age, but it is biblically correct and nothing has changed in the Bible the last time I checked. So we want to all make sure that we are saved and we want to do everything we can to help our neighbors, and our family, and our friends, and people we know to be saved as well. So here in Romans 10, Paul tells us how people are saved and he also tells us we should care enough so other people can be saved as well.
So if you're taking notes here is point number one[b]: so when we're thinking of sharing our faith, we usually think about how should I start the conversation? How should I kind of engage them? And you know, really the first thing you should do before you talk to someone about Jesus is pray for them. Pray for them. And what kind of prayer do you pray? You pray that the Lord would open their spiritual eyes and you pray that God would soften their heart and you pray that they would be receptive to the message that you are about to bring. Let me say that again. We don't simply pray before we work. Prayer is the work: then God works. It's been said the battle is won on the knees, so pray for people.
Now, how many of you know people that are not Christians that you would like to see come to faith? Okay. Raise your hand. Now, how many of you have prayed for those people by name? That's good. Do that. Do that a lot. Pray before you start any conversations and that's exactly what Paul is saying here in Romans 10:1. He says, "Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved". That was his prayer and he was saying, "Lord, this is what I want more than anything else," and this is what Jesus told us to do, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were confused and they were helpless and they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he said to his disciples, 'the harvest is great but the workers are few, so pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest and ask him to send more workers into the harvest'".
[b]I love this. Especially when it says that he looked at the multitudes and he saw them as confused and helpless. Far too often we see nonbelievers as the enemy. Why? Well, because they do wicked things. Wicked people do wicked things. Newsflash: you used to be one of them. I used to be one of them. We said things that were mean. We hassled people that had faith perhaps. So now we are on the receiving end of it and we say, "Those wicked people, may God judge them". No, Jesus saw them as confused and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Nonbelievers are not the enemy. Nonbelievers are under the control of the real enemy who is Satan.
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4, "The God of this world, that's the devil, has blinded the eyes of those who do not believe". But sometimes we think of them as the enemy and actually we don't even want them to be saved. That reminds me of old Jonah. You know, Jonah was called by God to go preach to the Ninevites. They lived in Nineveh which was the capital of Assyria. These were the avowed enemies of the Jewish people. It would be like Iran, perhaps, today who wants to destroy the Jewish people and has threatened on multiple occasions to want to wipe them off the face of the planet.
So here is Jonah called by God to go to Nineveh. Normally, Hebrew prophets only preached to Hebrew people. You don't have any instances to speak of apart from Jonah, a couple maybe, where a Hebrew prophet was called to go to a distant land and tell the people to repent but that's exactly what God told Jonah to do and Jonah didn't want to go. You say, "Why"? Because he was afraid that he would fail? No, he was afraid he would succeed and he didn't want these people to believe. It was his hope that God would eradicate the Ninevites and the nation of Assyria from the face of the earth and that's one less enemy Israel has to deal with. He did not want to go because he knew the nature of God, and in fact, when he went to preach to them and they did repent of their sin, Jonah was kind of mad at the Lord.
He said to them in Jonah 4:2 he complained to God and said, "Before I left home, didn't I say this is what you would do? This is why I ran away to Tarsus because I knew you're a gracious and compassionate God. Slow to get angry and you're filled with unfailing love. Lord, I knew you would do this! I knew you would forgive those people! That's why I didn't want to go".
Oh, man. Let's not have that heart toward other people. Let's be thankful God forgives. By the way, this speaks to the false dichotomy of the Old Testament versus the New Testament God. Some people like to say the God of the Old Testament is filled with anger and wrath and the God of the New Testament is loving and caring . Au contraire , which is French for snails with garlic. No. That's escargot . No . Au contraire, to the contrary, the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament and the God of both the old and the New Testament is full of love and compassion and mercy and wants to forgive people. He takes no delight in judging people.
Jesus did not say hate your enemies and hope judgement comes upon them. Rather, he said in Matthew 5:44 so we should love these people and we should pray for these people.
Number two: just know that. If you want to see someone saved, and you start praying for them and you start engaging them, man, you're going to face opposition from the enemy and they will probably oppose you as well. Go to Romans 10:2. Paul says, "I know what enthusiasm they have for God," now he's talking about his fellow Jews, "But it's a misdirected zeal. You don't understand God's way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God's way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. And as a result, all who believe in him are made right with God".
Let me make a controversial statement: religion will ultimately probably send more people to hell than all the other sins combined. You're going "Wait. What? Aren't you religious"? I hope not. I sure don't want to be. "Isn't Christianity a religion"? Yes, in one sense it is: but in another sense, it's far more than that. It is a relationship with God. So when I say religion keeping a person from God I mean when you go to someone and say "Are you saved? Do you believe in Jesus"? And they say, "I was raised in the church," or "I was baptized," or "I receive communion," or "I gave my confession to the priest," or (fill in blank here). So they immediately pivot to good works or they pivot to religious activity, but if that is keeping you from God you're missing the point.
This was the thing with the Jewish people. They had the law given to them, but the law was never meant to save them. The law was only given to show them they needed a Savior. There's only one man who has ever walked this earth who has kept all of the law without any failure at all and it was Jesus Christ. Only one. And the reason for that is nobody else can do it because we don't have the ability to live by those standards. So the law says you need help. The law pointed to the answer. Everything in the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices and the feasts, and the high priest were all symbols and shadows of the fulfillment that would come through Jesus Christ himself.
The law is described as the shadow of things to come. It'd be like if you traveled and were gone from your family for a month, and finally you came home and you're getting off the plane and there stands your family with open arms and the sun is behind them. It's a beautiful scene. And you run toward them and instead of hugging them, you drop down on the ground and start hugging the shadow. They'd say, "Did you lose your mind while you were gone? Why are you hugging the shadow? We're right here". When you hang onto the law that's what it is. You're hugging the shadow. That is pointing to something. It's Jesus. So Paul is saying the problem is they don't understand God's way of getting right with him. So God wants to save them. How does that happen?
Point number three: verse 8 Romans 10, "And that message is the very message about faith that we preach if you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved". Have you ever done that? Have you ever openly declared that Jesus is Lord? Let's do it right now on the count of three. 1... 2... 3... Jesus is Lord. Was that hard to say? I hope not. It should be the easiest thing to say and it's something we all need to say. You can't just feel it. You need to act on it. Notice that it says, "If you will believe in your heart" sometimes we give intellectual assent to something but it doesn't take hold in our heart.
So the reason Paul says this is this needs to be an inner conviction. Yes, you mentally agree to it, but you embrace it as a conviction. It's something that is real to you unless you verbally proclaim it. It's very important to verbally say what we're thinking in our heart. Let's be honest, guys have trouble with this. Girls not as much. Girls are far more open to express their affection and love toward one another, and they'll even say "Love you. I love you. Love you. Love you". Guys, they'll do that. Sort of. "Love you, man" you even lower your voice a little. You don't want to give him the wrong idea. "Love you, man". Then you punch him in the arm or something right. "Bro". Yeah.
So you know, it's not as easy for a man, but know this about men: we have the same emotion and the depth of love that everyone else has, we just express it differently, so we have to work a little harder at that sometimes and to say to our wife "I love you". Wives, you're not off the hook. You need to say that to your husband too. "I love you. I respect you. I appreciate you so much". And we need to say it to the Lord. "Lord, I love you. I appreciate what you do for me. I honor you. I glorify you". Well the Lord can see my heart. Yes, but he tells us to offer him the sacrifice of praise with the words of our lips so we need to say Jesus is Lord.
We need to say it in the church and we need to honor the Lord in our worship and we need to say it to others as well bringing me to point number four: go to Romans 10:14. Beautiful feet. You know, we don't generally think of feet as beautiful, do we? I mean, you might notice someone. Oh, they have beautiful hair. Not me of course, but unless it's singular. He has a beautiful singular hair in the middle of his head sort of sticking up like a little kewpie doll. That's a beautiful hair. Or you might say, "Oh, beautiful eyes. Don't they have the greatest eyes you've ever seen"? But we don't generally say, "Man, you have amazing feet," but yet the Bible says you can have beautiful feet. But maybe another translation will help us understand it. The word beautiful can be translated "Lively".
How lively are the feet of those that preach the Gospel of peace? So if you want lively feet if you want, yes, happy feet, if you want a spring in your step, then share the Gospel. Let me tell you why. The Gospel by design is not to be hoarded: its to be shared and as you share this life-giving message with others it's also a life-giving message to you. Because sometimes what happens is as you are declaring what God has done for you and what God can do for the person you're speaking with, you're reminded of all the things that have happened in your own life. It's like you're rediscovering these great truths and it comes to life for you.
Proverbs 11 says, "Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed," and then Jesus, of course, said it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. And, as you know, the word "Blessed" can be translated "Happy", so it would not be inaccurate to say it's more happy-making to give than it is to receive. The way we do that is throwing out spiritual seed. 1 Corinthians 3:7 says, "The one who plants and the one that waters - they're not anything. It's only God who makes all things grow. The man who plants and the one that waters has one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his own labor".
You know, it's interesting. This phrase "Sow a seed," we get our root word "Broadcast" from it. Sow a seed - broadcast. The idea was throw it out to as many people as you can - broadly cast it. But then we get our English word "Broadcast" as in radio broadcast or television broadcast or a podcast or anyway you throw it out that's casting your seed. You can cast the seed out on Instagram. You can cast it out on Facebook. You can cast it out on Twitter which works very well with birds because they love tweets right? So you get the word out there to as many people as you can. How do you do it? Verse 14: "How will they hear unless someone tells them"? King James translation: "How will they hear without a preacher"? This is where we are apprehensive. Preacher. I don't want to be a preacher.
Can I tell you honestly, and believe me when I say this, I never wanted to be a preacher. I never aspired to preach. Maybe it's because I had nothing to say. I had other plans for my life, but I've come to see over the years that I've had the privilege of preaching and teaching, I've seen the power of the Word of God to change lives and that's what keeps me going because there's power in God's word. The primary way that God chooses to reach nonbelievers is through the verbal articulation of the Gospel. Don't ask me why. It seems to me there's more efficient ways God could've chosen, but no. God chooses to work primarily through this preaching of the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 1:21 "God was well pleased with the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe". But when you start to talk to someone, what do they say? "Hey man. Don't preach to me. I don't need your sermon". That's a negative. "I don't want a sermon and I don't want you to preach". Okay, well let's use a different word for preach. In an earlier message, remember, I use the word recommend. Let's make a recommendation. An encouragement. But listen, to preach doesn't mean you have to yell. I think when we think of preaching its screaming. Well you can scream and preach. Sometimes you have to speak louder to be heard, but you can say it quietly. You can say it in a conversational way. But in one way, shape, or form the way God wants us to reach people is through verbal articulation.
You'll say, "Well, I'm just not into that. I don't like to talk to people about things like that. I don't think it's really right for me to impose my views on them. So I'll just be a good example. I think if I'm a good example, they'll just come up to me and say 'i like the way that you live and I want to know how to become like you'". Well that may happen. Occasionally, it does happen. By all means, please be a good example because what we need less of today are bad examples. One of the things that keeps more people probably away from Christ than any other thing is hypocrisy. And even Jesus said, "If salt has lost its saltiness, what good is it"?
So we want to be a salty Christian. It's like having a coke without carbonation or having a decaf soy latte. So I'm not critiquing a bad example. We want to be a good example. We'll want to start there. Not stop there. But start there. Mahatma Gandhi - ever heard of him? Very significant historical person. A Hindu. Made a great impact on his nation of India. And some people don't know, but Gandhi was a great admirer of Jesus and often quoted from the sermon on the mount. So one day a missionary met with Gandhi and asked him why he was not a Christian. And Gandhi replied, "I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ".
Oh. That's bad. So be a good example and that builds the bridge that you can walk over to now bring the message of the Gospel. So you earn the right to be heard. A great example of this is the man that we call the Philippian jailer. We don't know his name, but he was tasked with taking Paul and Silas into custody. They were incarcerated in a dungeon. He whipped them first, and then he put their feet in stocks, took them to the furthest part of this hell hole, and then the Bible says, "At midnight Paul and Silas began to sing praises to God". Wow. He had never heard anything like that before. And the Bible says, "The other prisoners heard them," and it could be translated, "The other prisoners listened with pleasure".
You have a favorite song, comes on the radio, you turn it up. I love this song. I love this. That's how they were listening these two men singing the praises of God in a prison. It was better than Johnny cash at san quentin right? They're listening, taking it in. But then a mighty earthquake came. It was so powerful, it shook the walls and the foundation of the prison and the doors flung open and that Philippian jailer knew he was dead. He knew he would be executed by the Romans for losing his prisoners. He took out a short sword, was ready to plunge it into his chest and suddenly Paul says, "Stop. Don't kill yourself. We're all here still". And that Philippian jailer said, "Sir, what must I do to be saved"? Why did he say that? Because Paul and Silas earned the right to be heard.
Listen, when a Christian suffers (and we do suffer), and our faith remains intact and we give glory to God. That's a powerful witness to a lost world. Nonbelievers watch with great interest. Why would you still have your faith? Why would you still believe after what you've gone through? And they might come and ask you that beautiful question: man, I want to know more about having a relationship with God like you have. They earned the right to be heard and they were heard and that hardened Roman jailor believed. "What must I do to be saved"? Paul's answer: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, and that goes for your household too.