Jentezen Franklin - The Three Chairs
If you have your Bibles, I would like for you to open them with me to Joshua 24:15. "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. Whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell". Here's Joshua now. "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".
Obviously today there is some props with what I'm going to preach. There are three chairs on the platform. There are three chairs because the three chairs represent the three kinds of people that are listening to me right now at every campus and by television. There are three kinds of people, and you're in one of these three chairs.
The first chair, this chair represents people of commitment. They're fully committed to Jesus Christ. They have completely sold out, and they live to serve and honor the Lord Jesus Christ. They're committed to the church. They're committed to the Kingdom. They're committed to the call that is upon their personal life and upon their family. They understand that our family has a call; that God has a plan and purpose for the entire family. Their businesses are committed to the glory of God. They're people who are sold out, and because they're sold out and so committed, at times they find themselves being at odds with the values of this world. They're spiritual in nature.
The Apostle Paul said that there are three kinds of people in 1 Corinthians 2 and 1 Corinthians 3. He said they're are people who are spiritual; they have a spiritual nature. They see everything through spiritual eyes. They understand that there is an unseen spiritual world that is going on out there. And when they have been awakened and born again, and filled with the Holy Spirit, they have a spiritual nature, that leads them and guides them. And they have come under the authority of that spirit.
And then there's the second chair. It's people of compromise. People who have been born again. They have given their heart to Jesus Christ. They go to church some. It's not really consistent, but they would be glad to tell you that they're a Christian. And they are. And they attend church some. But they live a distant life from the Lord Jesus Christ.
If they were to be totally honest, they would say, "Jesus is more of an acquaintance than He is a relationship. That I have an acquaintance with Him once every week, or maybe once every two weeks. I'll go to church. I'll think about Him, hear about Him, but that's pretty much it". That's about all that we have. The second chair is the chair of compromise. The first chair is the chair of commitment. The first chair is the chair of commitment, and the person in it has a spiritual nature. But the second person in the second chair, the chair of compromise, has a carnal nature, the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2.
And then lastly, there's the person in the third chair, and it's the seat of conflict. The people of conflict. They are unsaved. They're unchurched. Listen. And they're uninterested in God. The Bible said they're in a natural state. Paul uses all three of these to describe people. Spiritual, carnal, fleshly, worldly. And then natural, meaning they've only been born once. They have never been born again. They are unchurched. They are unsaved. They're uninterested in God. They believe there's a God somewhere out there. Their world view is one of, that is humanistic, and maybe even atheist. Or, you know, they don't have any feelings, or they believe that all religions lead to Heaven, and all religions are the same, and all the gods that people worship, it's all one, and it doesn't matter what path you take to get there.
So I want you to get it now. Every person setting in this room is sitting in one of these chairs. The first chair is people who are dedicated. They're spiritual. They are committed to God. They are committed to the church. The second chair is people who have been born again and encountered God. They know the Word, but they don't necessarily wanna live the Word. So they live a life of compromise.
And then there's people that I'm preaching to today. That are hearing me. That are absolutely in conflict with the Word of God. Their lifestyle. Everything about them is void of God. That second person knows the Bible, but there's a difference between the first chair and the second chair because they're not committed to living the Bible. The third chair does not confess to be a Christian. The person in that chair doesn't walk in a relationship with God. They're in a natural state. There's a spiritual state, a carnal state, and a natural state. And you're in one of three of these chairs.
When I think about these chairs and every one of you that are hearing me, including myself, I couldn't help but think of Joshua and how committed he was to the Lord. The Bible said that Joshua this day stood before the people. And he said, I have wholly committed myself to the Lord. He said, I have wholly followed after the Lord with all of my heart. I have completely...
I used to preach a sermon when I was an evangelist. There's somewhere in Joshua where the Bible says of Joshua, he left nothing undone that God told him to do. There was something about him that was so committed. He was sitting in a seat of commitment, and he left nothing undone that God told him to do. Completely obedient. Completely intimate and walking in a committed relationship to Jesus Christ. But then you move over. And he said to the people that day, you choose who you will follow. But as for me and my house, we're gonna serve the Lord. And the next generation looked at him and gave verbiage. Yes, we will follow the Lord like you. But when he died, the Bible said they didn't do what God told 'em to do. They didn't drive the enemy out of the land. They co-existed with the enemy. They intermarried with the enemy, thereby taking on their gods and their idols.
And suddenly, you move from the first seat of a generation that's committed to God, consecrated to God, to a second seat of a generation that is compromising. Mixing a little of this and that. And suddenly you have idols. The Bible actually says that they were serving idols and feared the Lord. And then you move into Judges 2. And this is all the same family. And it says and there arose another generation that knew not God nor the works of God. They were sitting in the seat of conflict. This can happen to our families if we're not careful.
That's why it's so important that we set the pace of our family and be committed to God. And it happened to Joshua. They struck a compromise. They moved from commitment to compromise. They were called God's people, but they were not in a relationship with Him. He was an acquaintance. I wonder how many people I'm preaching to today. I'm not naïve. I understand that there's a battle for our souls and our minds. And the enemy would love for you to just sit in this seat the rest of your Christian experience and compromise. More, and more, and more. But understand that it affects generations.
You see, when you understand what I'm preaching, it will become clear to you that if you were truthful about your relationship with Jesus Christ, many, I'm afraid, would describe it as an acquaintance, not as a living, vital, intimate relationship. And then I think about this third seat. There's no God in the house. This describes this generation. They get up on Sunday morning, and it never crosses their mind we should even go to church. Do you know how many people will get up today, and Sunday is not even considered the Lord's day? It's considered cut the grass day, or be good to yourself day, or go to the grocery store day; God's nothing to them.
Now listen to this. These three chairs speak of how each person in each chair relates to the world. The person sitting in the first chair of commitment has a value system that is at odds, many times, with the world. They find themselves feeling almost different and, well, no doubt different. And almost outdated because you feel at odds with the way the world talks. The filth of the songs. The uncleanness. There's no modesty. There's nothing. And you find yourself, when you're committed to God, many times at odds with the values of the world.
And, by the way, if you don't ever feel this, if you fit in with that whole nasty world out there, and you never feel at odds, something's wrong. Truth and morality matter to you if you're in that first seat. They're saved. They love the Lord. They're committed. But the person in the second chair, the chair of compromise, they know the Bible, but their career is more important than their calling. And if you talk to them, they never talk about the Lord. They never talk about God. They talk about their money. They talk about material things. They talk about going here and doing that. But it's never really a heart that's captured and committed. It's just compromise. They love the Lord, but they're living a compromised, carnal life.
The person in the third chair is at odds with God. They fit right in with a culture that says gay marriage is right. They fit right in with a culture that says abortion, even in the ninth month, late term abortion, they cheer, and they laugh. How do we get this way in a generation? And if you're scared to clap, I'll clap for you. You pitiful little, if we can't speak up for a baby, what have we come to? What have we come to? A living, breathing baby in the ninth month? I will not be silent, nor will this church be silent. We must speak up. It's not a political issue. It is a Bible issue. And God's word is right, and I will not be in the seat of conflict on this issue. But we have a generation that is, and we have churches that have moved from commitment to compromise. To little mousy preachers who sit real quiet and won't say one thing when the Bible is so clear.
Proverbs 6. Six things God hates. He that sheds innocent blood is one of them. Clap now, and I'll keep preaching. He loves people who've had an abortion. He forgives. He cleanses. But we must not ever feel something in us that can sit without any conflict with murder of babies. Now watch this. When you're living a life of commitment, God is your closest friend. You're in a relationship. You serve Him first. The person sitting in this seat serves Him first, and self second. But when you're sitting in the second chair, you're living a life of compromise.
You know God as an acquaintance, not in an intimate relationship. It's a responsibility to go to church. Almost a drudgery to go to church. That's why you don't do it consistently. I love y'all. I dressed up in a suit so I'd look sweet while I do this. I love you enough to get right in your face and tell you the only thing at stake is your family. The only thing at stake is your marriage. The only thing at, and when you move into this seat, it's a dangerous place for a believer. Because all of a sudden, when the enemy comes after your home, if you're not prayed up, if you're not seeing through spiritual eyes, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wake up. Wake up. I need a revival in my soul. I can't believe that I did that. I thought that. I entertained that.
That's what's gonna happen. And something begins to bother the person who's had an encounter with Jesus. Sooner or later, this person wakes up, and they realize, something's going on with my kids. I mean, the little flicker of fire is still there. It's not like it used to be when they were here, but there's a little godliness in 'em. A little discernment in 'em. Something's going on with my kids, and I've noticed that my kids have more non-Christian friends than Christian friends. I've noticed that I have to drag 'em, screaming and kicking, to church now that they're 16 and 17. And oh. You know, I really, secretly, I suspect that they're becoming sexually active. I just sense it. I feel funny about that boy she's with. Something's not right. But I wanna wink.
I wanna look the other way 'cause I'm carnal, and I'm compromising. I don't wanna have to confront it. I'll just let 'em. And I know they came in from that party and went straight to the bedroom. And I probably oughta go back and see why their eyes are bloodshot and get all in their business. But, you know, I'm a compromising parent. And sometimes you just want peace at any cost. 'Cause I'm carnal now. Oh, well. You know the times we're living in. Kids will be kids. Just have safe sex. Is this too plain? But when you're committed, it matters.
Somebody almost fell outta the seat right then on that point. I'm just preaching the truth. Then there's that person who's listening to me right now. You're sitting in that seat of conflict. You gotta build your career above all. Your God is your career. And if she likes her boyfriend, she doesn't have to marry him. Just move in with him. What difference does it make? Marriage is just a piece of paper. What difference does it make? You're living in conflict with the Word of God. She thinks about having children someday. But I want intellectual kids. I want popular kids. I want cheerleading. Beta Club.
Nothing wrong with those things, but is that the highest thing, it never crosses this person's mind, I want my kids in church. I want my family raised in the fear of the Lord. It never crosses this person's mind to get up and go to church. It's there. Now the question that I wanna propose to you in closing this morning is simply this. Parents of the first chair, percentage wise, will have a mass majority of children voluntarily serve the Lord. Parents of the second chair will almost always have a majority of children who will not follow the Lord. And, of course, there's not much hope, barring a miracle of God, for the third chair parents.
If you're sitting in this seat, and I sense many are, wouldn't you like to move from this seat to that seat? Joshua said, I'm gonna tell you what to do about it. Choose you this day who you will serve. And if you're not gonna sit in that seat for yourself, sit it in for your children. Sit in it for your grandchildren. You say you love them. But if you're not giving them Jesus, all the money in the world won't be enough for 'em. You must give them Jesus. My word to you today is simple. Strive for that number one chair. Not just for you, but for your children and your children's children. Where are you leading your family?
As I described that second chair this morning, many of you felt pricked in your heart. Because if you were to be totally honest this morning, you would say Jesus is an acquaintance, but He's not really an intimate relationship partner of my life. I talk to Him all the time. He talks to me a lot. I worship in my car. He's in my house. He's in my life. He's a part of my thought process. He's number one. I gotta get in that first chair. God's calling us all out of the second chair and the third chair.
And those of you who are lost, and indifferent, and far from God - you haven't gone so far that Jesus cannot reach you. But you must choose this day who you will serve. Some of you young people must choose this day which seat you're gonna sit in. Because God's plan for your life will not allow you to capture it if you're sitting in this seat. It's going to require total commitment. And this is the day. I love what he said. Choose you this day. I put it plain 'cause I'm preaching to dying people who are headed for eternity. And you better know what seat you're in, here and now.
Choose you this day. And I love what Joshua said. He said, "I can't decide for you, but I can for me. As for me", it starts with me. I'm getting my rear end outta this chair, and I'm moving it over to this, "as for me"? And then he makes a powerful statement. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". Now this guy, here's his attitude. As for me and my house, we tried. And it's not up to God. It's up to you. Choose. Choose life.