Jack Graham - Everyone Needs Jesus
Take your Bibles and turn to THE ESSENTIAL GOSPEL, the book of Romans chapter 9. We've seen in the first 8 chapters of Romans God's design and God's plan for all of us to know Him; how Christ is our Redeemer and Savior. Having been saved, trusting in Him, we now are being made more and more like Him. And so we spent quite a bit of time in Romans chapter 8, the great 8, one of the most wonderful, powerful chapters in all of the Bible and in some ways I hate to say goodbye for now to Romans 8, but we are going forward to the ninth chapter. Now the ninth chapter, along with chapters 10 and 11 of Romans are often considered to be controversial chapters in the Bible. They are even at time dismissed and overlooked. If you are studying Romans, I've even come across commentaries and preaching series where Romans 9.10.11 just skip. Just skip from 8 all the way to 12. Because some people think that, I presume, that Romans chapters 9.10 and 11 are not all that interesting or applicable or relevant, or maybe too controversial.
So these subjects in these 3 chapters are at time debated, and discussed, and cussed as well. And some even call it a pause or a parenthesis: (Romans 1-8) pause (9 through 11), and then picking back up again 12 to 16, the end of the book. But this is not a parenthesis; this is not a pause in the action. This is the action in Romans 9, 10 and 11, because it's all about the providences of God, the plans of God, His destiny for you and for nations. And some of the greatest themes in the Bible, some of most heartfelt, along with heaviest themes in all of the Scripture are dealt with in these verses. Subjects like the sovereignty of God, carrying words such as predestination and foreordination and election and those topics of the sovereignty of God, the faithfulness of God. And also, the responsibility of humankind, men and women. What is our responsibility in response to the sovereignty of God. And then these chapters all about God's plan for Israel.
Paul was a Jew who gave us under the authority, inspirational Scripture, these words. And as a Jewish follower and believer in Jesus, Yahshua, the Messiah. He spent quite a bit of time point out that Jewish people are not saved because of their religion, but because of Christ, the Messiah. And therefore, in some ways Jewish people consider Paul now an enemy of the faith, an enemy of the state of Israel. And that he was attempting to cancel their very religion; to eliminate the Jewish faith with this new Quote, religion called Christianity. And so 9, 10 and 11 of Romans deals with the Jewish nation. And you're going to be very interested as we uncover what God's plan for Israel is yesterday, today, and forever. There's also in these chapters the necessity and urgency and even the simplicity of salvation.
Chapter 10 of Romans has some of the most beautiful and powerful verses regarding what it means to know Jesus Christ "If we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the death, we will be saved". That's the heart of Romans 10. So the necessity, the urgency, the simplicity of salvation. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved". And then the theme of evangelism and missions. What is God's design, not only for the world but for people who live in the world. Jewish people and non-Jewish people. And central to all of us, all of this before us is this truth: That everyone, everyone, everyone needs Jesus! That Jesus is the Savior of the world! He is the one hope for all of us! And we see here a heart-felt, not a heartless response to the great need of the world, but a love-filled, heart-filled desire that people would be saved and come to Jesus.
Look at verse 1 of chapter 9 of Romans, "I'm speaking the truth in Christ", this is Paul, "I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all blessed forever", and there's that word again. Amen. What kind of people does God choose to use? Paul's heart is breaking. He said, "I tell you the truth; I'm not making this up; I'm not exaggerating. This is not a hypothetical; this is real from me. I tell you the truth, that I have unceasing anguish in my heart, desire in me, that my family and friends among the Jewish people, that my nation would know Christ".
This burden, this brokenness in His life is the heart of who this man is, the greatest missionary in history; the GOAT. The greatest Christian of all time in my view. What was the secret of his life? What motivated him? What moved him to risk life and limb for the sake of the Gospel? What was it, this burden, this brokenness, this heart-felt response? Paul formerly known as Saul, was a terrorist. He was a religious bully, though trained in the best rabbinical schools of his day, a pharisee of the pharisees, one of the best families in all of Israel. He knew the Bible, the Old Testament backwards and forwards, and memorized much of it. And yet before he met Jesus, having rejected Jesus, he was a cold-blooded killer. He himself would later reflect in one of his letters that he was a murderer.
It was Saul of Tarsus who held the garments of those who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr; he watched. He was in pursuit of every Christian, persecuting them wherever they were. And yet, he met Jesus! Jesus came all the way from heaven and Paul encountered him of the road to Damascus and his life was forever changed and he became a missionary. The murderer became a missionary! This cold-blooded killer now became this caring Christian, who is saying, "My heart is breaking for the people of Israel. My heart is breaking for my loved ones, my brothers my sisters"! And this is the heart of Paul. Because it's heart-breaking to consider that people we love, people even that we have never met are destined for the judgment of God without Jesus. That they are on their way to the place called hell and separated from God forever. And when you believe that as the Scripture teaches, it breaks your heart.
We do not say that joyfully or gleefully. We say that with a broken heart. We often preach and teach with tears regarding the subject of hell because people are going to spend an eternity without God and without hope! And if that is true, and I believe it is true according to what Jesus has told us and the Scriptures has given us, because it is true, they ought to be heart-broken and speak with tears. We ought to say like the Apostle Paul, "I'm not lying about this. My integrity is at stake here. This is not fake, this is not phony, this is real. My heart's desire is that they be saved". And then he makes the most stunning and superlative statement I think in all the Bible. For he says, "In fact, I care so much, if it were possible, I myself would be accursed and cut off from Christ so that my kinsmen, my countrymen, my family and friends would come to Jesus". In other words, he said, "I would die and go to hell if my loved ones and friends, my people go to heaven".
Imagine that! He's weeping. You would be weeping too, with this kind of burden and he is broken in all of this! And this is the heart of the evangelist. This is the heart of the church for missions. This is the heart of God because God, He said, "I lie not in Christ in the Spirit. This is in my heart to tell the world about Jesus with tears when weeping". Someone described evangelism and missions as the sob of God. Because God weeps over this wounded world, this broken world, and people that are lost without Him. He loves the world. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he poured out sweat drops and tears of blood and sweat, broken for the world. This is the heart of God. And it is the anguish that we need in telling the world about Jesus today.
It seems like many people today have a lot of anger, including people in churches, and we're shaking our fists at a lot of things, but I wonder where's the anguish? Where's the burden, where's the brokenness because lost people do what lost people do. And they need Jesus too. Everyone, everyone, everyone needs Jesus! People of all religions, all races, every generation needs Jesus. Baby boomers need Jesus; Millennials need Jesus, Gen-xers need Jesus. I got a note from my son Jason who is a Gen-Xer, and in the note it is one of these memes, and it says, "Just remember, for every Boomer that is annoyed by a Millennial, there's a generation in between that's annoyed by both of them". "Is the same yesterday, today and forever"!
From generation to generation! And it's our responsibility on our watch to witness of the Gospel and to pass the faith from generation to generation. But before evangelism, mission is a strategy or a program or a plan or an emphasis, it is a passion! You don't have to have all the words together in our witness. We don't have to know all the things to say or not say, but if we have a burden for someone who's lost, some lost soul nearest hell, if we have the weeping and the sorrow and the tears. One evangelist was asked by a lady, "My husband is lost. I've done everything; I've tried everything. How can I reach my husband for Christ"? And the evangelist said, "Try tears". The psalmist said in psalm 126, "He who goes forth weeping, with precious seed, shall doubtless, yea, come again rejoicing, bearing the sheeves". Where are the tears? Where's our heart? Do we really care?
That's the point that Paul is making here regarding himself and his motivation, his mission inspires us all. It should. Jesus made it clear what we are to do. He said in Matthew chapter 28, this is the Great Commission which has often become the great omission. But the Great Commission; Jesus said, "Go into all the world and make disciples, (marking them, believer's baptism), baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And then maturing them, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age". I'm with you now and forever, He said.
You know, it's coming out of Romans 8 that we found out all about our security in Christ, that He will never leave us or abandon us or forsake us, that we are forever His, that we belong to Jesus forever. And we began Romans 8 with no condemnation; closed it with no separation. And so flowing right out of that, fueled out of that confidence, that certainty, that authority; that our identity is in Christ. Then that propels us to go with this Gospel! He said "I am with you always to the end of the age". And that being, when you share Jesus, when you're talking to somebody about Jesus, Jesus shows up in a very special way. Did you know that? That anointing? That presence, that power of the Spirit when you're talking about Jesus, when you're talking about the Lord and how a person can know.
When you're sharing Christ with a neighbor, with a friend, with a family member, Jesus shows up in a big and powerful ever-present way. You want to get close to Jesus, closer to Jesus in your life? Then start talking about Jesus and watch how Jesus shows up to fill you with His presence and His power. Paul said, "I'm willing to die and go to hell so that my friends and family, my kinsmen, my countrymen come to Christ". Now that's illogical. I'm sure Paul knew that. He'd just given us powerful testimony to the fact that Christ and Christ alone saves! Paul knew he wasn't the savior. He was a witness of the savior, but it is hard. He's not speaking logically here. He's speaking in love. He's speaking emotionally. He's speaking personally. He's just sharing his heart when he says, "I'm willing if necessary to die for people to go to heaven, and to go to hell so that they can be saved".
Paul couldn't do it. No one of us can. But there is one who did. Who died on the cross and baptized His soul in hell, went to hell, buried your sins and mine on the cross so that you can go to heaven! He went with tears and brokenness and sacrifice and did what Paul, as great a man as Paul is, did what Paul or none of us could do. He died on the cross for our sins. And that's why we say the Gospel is for everyone. It's clear. Romans 1:16 "For I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek". Paul could have been a cold, calculating theologian. He knew so much. But what he knew the most and the best was that people needed Jesus.
There are a lot of people in Romans 9.10.11, they get all embroiled in controversies regarding Calvinism and Arminianism and reformed theology, and non-reformed theology. And they battle through these words, and we're going to look at these words of predestination and election and those subjects. But before we get started, we're going to start in the heart, where Paul started. Not with the head, but with the heart! That God would give us a real and lasting burden. I'm convicted when I read this passage. Are you? When I first became pastor of the church in 1989, I met a young man who was vibrant person, mid-20s, successful, good looking, married, kids, singing in the choir, singing on the platform. Great voice. Kinda one of those guys that could just do pretty much anything. And I saw in him something extra, his heart for spiritual things. But he would say later that at that time of his life he was so self-indulgent and arrogant, all about himself.
I invited this young man by the name of Mike Fechner to join me on an evangelism team. He and his wife Laura. We were training people in evangelism. Helping people be equipped. And that is important to learn how to share your faith, but more than that, what happened to Mike and Laura, what happened to Mike is, this strong-willed, persuasive person. What happened to him in that evangelism training, when we would actually get in our car and drive somewhere and knock on a door and tell people about Jesus. I began to see him cry. Tears would well up and he had a case and a heart for seeing people saved. And then another thing happened in his life about that same time.
We did a thing back in the day over on Hillcrest and Arapahoe called "To Dallas with Love". When we were feeding the poor. We said let's have a Thanksgiving feast for people who may not get a great meal at Thanksgiving. Let's bring them to our church, and we did that. We literally had thousands of people on the parking lot. We called it "To Dallas with Love", and we shared the Gospel. We actually had baptisms, we were having an incredible time, reaching people not in our neighborhood but across town. And then from that experience we built a bridge and God did something in Mike Fechner's heart, seeing the poor, seeing the hurting and the broken.
And from that time on, he could never talk about it without tears. I kid you not. I used to mock him about this. Not about that he had a burden, but I said, "Mike, are you going to cry now or later"? Because he cried always. Not because he was weak. Paul wasn't weak. Jesus wasn't weak, but he had great love. And we asked Mike to come over here to the church. He left his business. We started Bridge-Builders, building a bridge from North Dallas to South Dallas and other communities, underprivileged, often impoverished. Tonight, I'm going to an event called Bridge Builders and his son Johnathan, now leads it because Mike is in heaven. God finally wiped away all those tears. But he had such great passion and compassion. God took a guy that was all about himself and made him all about Jesus and people who need Him. May God give us this kind of heart as a church, as a people. Let's slow back on the anger, and let's anguish for souls. Let's pray with passion for people who desperately need the Lord.