Jack Graham - A Mission-Driven Life
Let me encourage you to get your Bibles open now to Romans chapter 1. I want to welcome not only those who are watching on the worldwide web, but those who are watching on PowerPoint Television, and we're grateful for the opportunity to be in your home or wherever you are, with the message of Christ. But Romans chapter 1. I've had an iPhone for a little while now. In fact, I go back all the way to the iMac. How many of you had an iMac back in the days? Well, I did. In fact, I learned how to use a computer with an iMac because it was so simple. Have you ever wondered how the iPhone? And there's all this hoopla now, of course, with the iPhone: different sizes, different systems now with the new iPhone. There's even going to be an iWatch! Can you believe that? The days of Dick Tracy have arrived! And you'll have your phone on your watch, and all the rest; amazing technology!
Have you ever wondered how this whole i-thing got started? Back in the late nineties Apple, the Macintosh makers, the Apple company were tanking; they were going under. The business was failing. Steve Jobs, the founder, had moved on, was doing something else. But they invited him back to be the interim CEO. First thing he did was to analyze what they were selling, what they were producing and he simplified everything, and basically got it down to just a few products. But the primary product was going to be this small computer, this Macintosh computer. And in coming up with a name, they decided to use small "i" iMac. And the rest is history, of course. Now there's iPhones and iPads, and iPods and iChat and iWatches and all the rest! It's a part of our vocabulary; it's the whole "i" thing.
Have you ever wondered why Jobs and the others came up with the letter i? It was because of the Internet. Simple answer. He wanted a computer that would give fast, easy access to people like me who needed it to the Internet, and I needed it simple and I needed it fast. And then all these products that have come out that now these computers in our hands, and so on. But "i" stood for the Internet. Eventually it came to be, Jobs did a talk on it, it became known as not only the Internet, but individual because now you had an individualized phone or an individualized computer; it stood for instruct; it stood for imagine; it stood for inform; it stood for inspire. And then ultimately it came really to be a part of the lingo, it's the "I"-phone because it's my phone! I-phone, my phone. Maybe if you call someone today you'll say "I'll call you on my iPhone". It's like Coca Cola. If you're going to drink a cola, I'm going to drink a coke. I mean, it's just part of the vernacular, it's the brand.
When Steve Jobs stood before the company in 1997, again, the whole company was at risk, he said, "I am betting the future of this company on this product". Good bet! Jesus Christ called us to take the Gospel to the world, the message of salvation, to the cross and the resurrection. And He gave this message to His apostles, His disciples, and to others who would come and take this message around the world, including you and me. And He said, "I'm betting on you! I'm banking on you and this product; that this product will change the world. And the future of My church is on this product". And that product is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and coming again!
The Apostle Paul, he took this iGospel and he said three things about it in Romans chapter 1 that I want you to see, as he lived this mission-driven life that motivates us. He said in verse 14: "I am under obligation to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome". That was the death star, Rome! He said, "I want to come to Rome, and not only preach the Gospel to the church, but to those who need Christ". And then in verse 16 he said: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek". Why? Because both Jews and Gentiles, all need to be saved! Both Greeks and barbarians need the Gospel of Christ! Paul would later speak of my Gospel. It's the Gospel of Christ, but every one of us must receive and personalize this Gospel and make it our own. The iGospel! And the apostle said, "I am indebted, I am obligated, and then I am eager", I am ready. And he said, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ".
Who was this man who Jesus used to change the world? This mission-driven, great-hearted man. The greatest force for the Gospel in the history of the world, the greatest Christian, in my view, who ever lived! What a man! What a model for every one of us! He was a missionary, an evangelist, a pastor. He was a prolific writer. The Holy Spirit gave him the words to write two-thirds of the New Testament. Two-thirds of your New Testament written by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit! Thirteen epistles or books in your New Testament, in your Bible that were given to us by the Apostle Paul. He was a man on a mission. His life and his legacy lives to this day. Why? Because he said I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. The boldness, the faith, the commitment, the courage, the fearlessness of this man is so needed today. And you have to ask yourself what motivated this man? What moved this man so deeply to change the world? Because sometimes we feel, "Well, I'm just one person; what can I do"?
One of the things that always amazes me when I trek the journeys of Paul into Greece and the surrounding areas is to think that one man, full of the Holy Spirit, one little Jew, armed only with the Gospel of Jesus Christ took on the Roman-Greco world! The Roman world, as I said, the belly of the beast, the death star of its time, powerful Rome, the sophistication, the sophistry, the brilliance of the Grecian world with all of its philosophies! So he would go the Athens, he would go to Ephesus. He was praying to go to Rome. He was looking for the next ship to get on, he couldn't wait to get down the road to share the Gospel of Christ! What motivated this man? What motivates you? What motivates you to get up everyday? I hope it's more than the alarm on your iPhone. I hope it's more than just dragging through the day. But what is that gets your heart pumping? What is that gets you moving? What is it that excites you and thrills you? What is the purpose and mission of your life? Motivation is a powerful force.
I heard about a young man, he was being chased by a grizzly bear through the woods. He was running as hard as he could but he wasn't getting it done, and the bear was catching him. He's feeling the bear right on his heels. And he knows he doesn't have time to climb a tree. He's obviously not going to outrun this bear so what's he going to do? And as he's running he sees a lower limb on a tree, but it was 15 feet up there to that branch. He's thinking there's no way I can jump and get that branch. But that bear, his hot bad breath is on him about that time, and so with all of his might he jumps as high as he can and he missed the branch! But he got it on the way down!
Motivation is a powerful force! What motivates you? Well, what motivates us should be the same motivation: to live a purpose, passionate, purpose-driven, passionate living life for Christ. The first thing he said, this iGospel, he said, "I am a debtor". That's verse 14, you see it? "I am a debtor". Indebted to what? He said, "I'm indebted to preach the Gospel to Greeks, barbarians; take the message to the world". But beyond that, he was motivated by the grace of God. Paul had met Jesus Christ and his life would never be the same. He was gloriously, ridiculously saved, if you will, by the power of Jesus.
Previous, Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus. He was born about the time that Jesus was born, a little after the birth of the first century. He was raised in a Jewish home with all the religious teaching and training of his time, the best rabbinical teachers. He committed himself to be a religious teacher and leader in Israel, and so he was trained at the feet of Gamaliel who was the most well known teacher of the Ancient World at that time in the religious world of the Jews. He was on his way up the ladder in the Sanhedrin which was the ruling council of Israel. He was climbing the pastoral, ministerial ladder. He was at the top, he was proud, he was religious, he was righteous-though it be self-righteous. But his heart was far from God. He was full of rage. He was full of anger! He didn't know God. He knew about God but he didn't really know God. He began to hear things about a Jewish rabbi, a carpenter from Nazareth who came and died on a cross and rose again. He would have been a part of that entire religious system that was taking Jesus out.
And when Jesus was out of the grave and the story was being told that Jesus rose from the dead, Paul couldn't believe it; he wouldn't believe it! Saul of Tarsus, this man who became Paul, wouldn't believe it; he couldn't believe it! And so he made it his mission in life to exterminate the Christian faith. He hated Jesus. He was a Jesus hater! And he hated the people that followed Jesus! And so he made it his business, he made it his mission to destroy the church by tearing down Christians. He called himself in First Timothy 1:13 "a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent, angry opponent of the message of Jesus Christ". He would later describe himself as a murderer! He was a part of the execution, the murder of many, only because they named the name of Jesus. He held the garments, the coats of those who stoned Stephen, and watched Stephen die. It was a blood-curdling experience. He presided over a number of executions of Christians.
So what would you call Saul of Tarsus? I would call him a terrorist. We're familiar with terrorist today; people who in the name of their religion, primarily Islamic religion, are killing Christians and even their own people. Terrorism is a part of our culture, our language. We need to be prepared; we need to protect our country and protect our people. Terrorism is a blight on the face of this earth. Beheadings and executions and all the rest. Terrorist. Saul of Tarsus was a terrorist! He was a terrible, murderous man! He's described in Acts chapter 9 when he meets Jesus as breathing out murders and persecution! The very air that he breathed was full of hate and anger! But one day on his way down a road to Damascus he met the living Savior Jesus Christ! The one that he thought was dead was alive! And Jesus confronts him and Saul cried out, Acts 9:5, "Who are You, Lord"?
That's the most important question you can ask today, and have answered: Who is Jesus? "Who are You, Lord"? And then later he would say, "Lord, what do you want me to do"? Those two questions: "Lord, who are You", "Lord, what would you have me to do", are the questions that every person needs to answer. So he met Jesus. Christians embraced him, though they were afraid him initially. Can you imagine? If we heard a terrorist had been saved? We perhaps would be suspicious. Some were suspicious but Ananias and others embraced him and welcomed him and encouraged him; put their hands on him, and brother, and the terrorist, Saul became Paul the Apostle! The murderer became a missionary! And I'm telling you if Jesus can save Saul, He can save all! There's not anyone, Greek, barbarian, rich, poor, Jew, Greek, no one is not capable of being saved by the grace and the power of Jesus Christ! Paul got saved! His sins forgiven! Christ lived in his life!
And then he had a passion and a purpose because he just never got over it! He never got passed it! He kept telling this story! Every where he would go he would tell this story of Jesus meeting him on that road and changing his life. And though our conversions are not as dramatic as the Damascus conversion of Saul of Tarsus, all of us who have been saved by the grace of God have something to shout about! We have something to share with others! We are indebted! I was just a little boy when I was save, but it took just as much of the blood of Jesus to save me as it did to save Paul or to save you or to save anyone, because Romans 3:23, "We've all sin and come short of the glory of God"!
Our human goodness and self-righteousness cannot get us to heaven and so we should spend the rest of our days in debt! Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe! "All that I am and all that I ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee"! That's what Paul said! He said I am obligated! I am a man under authority! He represented himself in verse one as a servant, a bond slave of Jesus Christ. This man who was thumping his chest, was swagging through the religious world, so proud, so selfish, so full of anger, is now a slave of Jesus Christ! He said, "Now I'm an indentured servant! I'm an indebted slave to Jesus Christ"! Once you've experienced the unmerited favor and love of Jesus Christ, you will never be the same! And may God help us to tell that good news because we are indebted. I'm in debt to tell my neighbors and friends and family members and loved ones, and to go to the nations and tell them about Jesus because of what Jesus has done for me, because what Jesus has done for me is too good to keep to ourselves.
And that brings us to the second thing he said, "I am eager" verse 15: "I am eager". Maybe your Bible says I am ready. That's what it means. And just as we've been talking about an obligation, the, "I am indebted", this is "I am eager". There's an opportunity that we have here. Because it's beyond a duty; it is a delight to share Jesus. Paul said, "I'm fired up about this. It's not something I have to do; it's something I get to do! I can't wait"! It's like if you have a job that you love, you won't work a day in your life. Paul's like that. He said, "I love what God called me to do. I'm so grateful for this calling". If your Christian life is boring, if church is blah, blah, blah to you, if you're not excited about your faith, you want to know how to get your faith going? You want to know how to live passionately? You want to get up every morning and make a difference in the world?
I'll tell you how, start sharing your faith in Jesus Christ. Be ready every day to talk about Jesus. Unfortunately so many of us are so self-focused! I mean, after all, this is the selfie world. Take a selfie. And we're in our computers. You know, we're on our little handhelds. We're so all into ourselves. But Jesus said, "Die to yourself. Get over yourself! And get focused on Me and My calling for your life"! As long as it's about you, a man wrapped up in himself is a very small package! But if you want to expand your world, if you want to expand your life, if you want to live every day with a sense of "I belong" and "this is life" and "this is full life", with a capital L!
So many people are just putting in the hours in their jobs and they don't have any real meaning to their life because they have no mission in their life! But if your life is dry, if it is boring, if it is blah, you start sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, you start witnessing to the power of Jesus in your life, and watch God work miracles in peoples' lives and you'll come apart you'll be so excited! You will live ready. Are you ready? Are you ready? Thank you. Are you ready? Because let me tell you something, people are ready. Did you know this is the greatest day in the history of the Christian faith to preach the Gospel? We've never had more opportunity than today to proclaim Jesus Christ, unprecedented opportunity. God is at work in this world and I want to be a part of it! Don't you?
I want to say iGospel! I got it! I want to take the Gospel to the world and I want to do it with you! David Livingston said, "Lord, I will go anywhere as long as it's forward"! One last thing: Paul said, "I am not ashamed! I am not ashamed"! Don't be ashamed of Jesus! Don't be ashamed of the Gospel, the simple Gospel. What is our message? It's not morality, it's not environment, it's not social change, it's not conservative political movement or message. Our message is the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ! Now once the Gospel changes someone, it changes the way we live, it changes our viewpoint about life, about our country, about a lot of things, about morality and how we're going to live. But that's not the message. The message is Jesus and Him crucified! The message is the foolishness of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And I'm a preacher and yes, you're a preacher. He said, "I'm not ashamed to preach this Gospel".
The word is herald which means to shout it out in the streets! But we're not going to be intimidated by those who oppose our message! We're going to be loving and faithful and determined and unstoppable in sharing the message of Jesus Christ! That's what Paul said! "I am not ashamed! I am under obligation"! I am right and ready to go! I will not be afraid! I will not be ashamed to tell my friends, to tell my family members, to tell my co-workers, to walk across the hall, to walk across the room, to invite someone to a church service, to invite someone to know Jesus. I will not be ashamed!
A man was dying, called for his pastor. He was very upset. His pastor was there to comfort him and calm him in the face of death. The pastor said something like, "Friend, don't be afraid to die. Jesus is with you". The man with tears in his eyes said, "I'm not afraid to die. But," he said, "I am ashamed to die. I'm ashamed to die because I haven't lived for Christ. I've wasted my life. I'm going to stand before God as His child and I'm going to have nothing to show for it. I'm ashamed to die". The Bible says that when Jesus comes some people are going to be ashamed at His appearing, but this is the confidence that we have in Him, that when He appears, we will not be ashamed. Let us not be ashamed when Jesus comes again, when we stand before Him. Let's give our lives, saying, "Lord, I'm in debt to You. I owe it all to You! You gave Your life to me; I'm going to live my life for You! I'm eager! I'm ready. Can't wait to get up every day to see how You're going to use me! And I'm not ashamed of this Gospel of Jesus Christ"!