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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - What Is Jesus Doing Now?

Rick Warren - What Is Jesus Doing Now?

Rick Warren - What Is Jesus Doing Now?

This weekend on every continent in tens of millions of places, in thousands of different languages, and thousands of different styles of music, in every corner of the globe, people are celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ did not stay dead, all right? And that 2,000 years ago, when the Romans murdered Him, He came back to life. Now, throughout history, a lot of people have claimed to be God, okay? But only one person proved it. Lots of people have said, oh, I'm God or I'm a special prophet from God or whatever. Only one person proved it, Jesus. He said, here's what I'm gonna let you do. I am God and I've come to earth in human form in the form of Jesus. And I'm gonna let 'em kill me and I'm gonna die on the cross for your sins. And then three days later, I'm gonna raise myself back to life. And of course, that's why we have AD and BC, the calendar split.

Now, nobody else has done that. Now, let's just clarify the difference between a resurrection and a resuscitation. Resuscitations happen all the time. Somebody dies on the hospital bed and they're gone for an hour, or 20 minutes, or an hour and a half, and then they get resuscitated. That's not a resurrection. That happens all the time. A resurrection is when you die, they bury you, put you ground for three days, and three days later, you bring yourself back to life. That's a resurrection. And Jesus Christ proved that He was who He claimed to be.

Now, everybody else throughout history who has claimed to be God were either unintentionally diluted. In other words, they're a few fries short of a happy meal up here, or they are intentionally deceptive. And when somebody is intentionally deceptive, usually they want your money, but everybody who's claimed to be God throughout history has been a fake, a fraud, a liar, and a phony.

Now, to be fair, you might be able to fake your own death, okay? Possibility. You might be able to fake your own death, but it would be impossible to fake staying alive for the next 2,000 years. That would be a con easily disproved. And with every passing year, there would be fewer and fewer eyewitnesses and fewer people to support your claim. That's why for instance today, nobody claims that Moses is still alive. Nobody claims that Muhammad is still alive. Nobody claims that Buddha or Krishna are still alive. Nobody claims that any other great philosopher or spiritual or religious teacher is alive today. This is a unique claim made only by Jesus Christ.

Now, this weekend, all around the world, billions, literally billions of people will give personal witness and personal testimony that they have had a personal encounter with the living Jesus Christ. And if somebody said to any of those people, well, Jesus is dead. They said, couldn't be, I just talked to Him. You know, we just talked together. We talk together all the time. Now, the fact that Jesus Christ is still alive today is the most attested fact in history. It's why, as we say, they split history into AD and BC. AD means anno Domini in the year of our Lord. And that we wouldn't be in 2022 if Jesus hadn't resurrected, okay? Your own birthdate is judged in relationship to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And so, all around the world this weekend, people are remembering and they are celebrating what Jesus did about 2,000 years ago, where He died on the cross for our sins so you don't have to die for 'em, and then came back to life to prove that He was who He claimed to be. Now, this is my 43rd Easter message. And I've never done a repeat of any of them because there's so much to teach on the resurrection. You can dig and dig, and you're never gonna hit bottom. But rather than looking back and say, what did Jesus do at the death and resurrection of Christ?

I wanna look a different question. I wanna ask, since Jesus is alive today, what's He doing now? What has Jesus been doing for the past 2,000 years since the resurrection? Do you know? What's He been doing, playing video games, practicing His golf game, learning a new hobby? Could you give the list of what Jesus has been doing for the last 2,000 years? Well, the Bible actually does give that list and it tells us about a dozen things that He's been doing for you behind the scenes the last 2,000 years.

So let's get started on this. If you'll pull out your message notes, it's inside your program, we're gonna go to the video and we're gonna start there, and then I'm gonna come live and finish it up. First, the most important thing Jesus is doing right now, write this down, He's building a family to love forever. He's building a family to love forever. Now, God's been planning this one since before He created the universe. In fact, if God had not wanted a family, the entire universe would not exist. Everything else that happens in history and happens on a daily basis is peripheral to the overarching purpose of the universe, and it is this, God wanted a family.

Ephesians 1:5 there on your message notes it says this, "God's unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. And that gave Him great pleasure". Now you know, in a physical family, there's only two ways to get into it. You're either born into it or you're adopted into it. And you know what? God uses both of those ways, both of those ways and both those metaphors as symbols of salvation in the Bible. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we're born again into God's family and we are adopted into God's family. Now I want you to notice the phrase on that verse, "this gave Him great pleasure".

Why does having the idea of having a family make God happy? Why did it give Him pleasure? Because God is love. Now, let's review the basic. We've talked about this many, many times. The Bible says God is love. Not that He has love, He is love. It is His nature. It is His character. All love comes from God. There would be no love in the universe if our Creator was not a loving God. All love comes from God. Your ability to give and receive love is because you're made in the image of God. And the theme of the entire Bible is how much God loves us. As I said, the only reason there's love in the world is 'cause the Creator is love. And that's why you're able to give and receive love because God made you in His image.

Now, God's love for you is unconditional, it is continual, it is extravagant, it is unearned, and it never stops. God loves you because of who He is not because of what you've done or what you don't do. You were created by God. You were created for God. And God made you to love you. When you understand that, life's gonna start to make sense. If you've never experienced God's love for you, and you've never learned how to love Him back, then you have missed the number one purpose of your life. You were made to be loved and to learn how to love back in God's family.

Now God's family is unlike any other family. There's a big major difference because human families, every human family, is temporary. They don't last. People grow up, people move away, people get married and then start their own new families. There are separations, there are divorces, and there are deaths, but God's family, your spiritual family, is permanent. It's eternal. It's never gonna end. It will last forever. But God doesn't want you just in His family that which is gonna last for eternity by the way, but He wants you to develop His family characteristics. In other words, like father, like son, like father, like daughter. He wants you to learn to love others as much as He does.

Look at this next verse. Romans 8:29. "From the very beginning, God has known who'd joined His family. And His plan has been for them to develop the character of Jesus. Hmm, and become like Him. That way His Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters". Now I want you circle the word many, okay? He said, Jesus was the first of many brothers and sisters. God wants a big family. That's why He is waiting for more and more people to accept His love, His salvation, His forgiveness, His purpose. That's why Jesus has delayed coming back to earth. Have you ever wondered, why hasn't Jesus come back yet? He's waiting for more people to come to Him. He wants a big family. He wants many sons and daughters.

Now, the Bible tells us that the family of God has a name, it's called the church. The church. The church is made up of all the people who've ever put their faith and trust in Christ to save them and to transform them. Jesus said, "I will build my church". And the church is the family of God. It includes every believer throughout all time. And that's why the very first thing that Jesus is doing that He's working on right now, He's building His family. You may have never realized it, but when you put your faith in Jesus and you become a part of God's family, His growing eternal family, Jesus, get this, Jesus becomes your older brother. Yeah, look at the next verse.

Look at this verse, Hebrews 2:11. "Jesus and the people He saves and makes holy," that's us, He saves us and makes us holy, "all belong to the same family. That's why," underline this, "He's not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters". Oh, you guys, this is an amazing statement that the God who created the entire universe wants to call you my sister or my brother. Now, becoming a part of God's family is a choice that you have to make by faith. Becoming a part of God's family is not automatic. It doesn't just happen to everybody. Everybody on earth is loved by God. Everybody on earth is created by God. Everybody on earth has a purpose that God has for their life, but not everybody fulfills that God-given purpose and not everybody chooses to accept God's grace and His invitation to be part of His family.

Now think about the logic here, God gets to decide the entry requirements for heaven just like you get to decide who you invite into your home. And the condition for becoming a part of God's family is really quite simple. You put your trust in Jesus Christ's ability to save you and you realize, I can't save myself. Now there's a lot more to it, but let me sum it up like this. Jesus gave His life for you by dying on the cross so you could have your past forgiven, you could have a purpose for living, and you could have a home in heaven. Nobody else on planet earth can possibly match that offer because nobody else has ever died for you. But when you accept God's free gift of salvation, you commit to not only love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, but you also commit to love everybody else in God's family. Did you know that?

You say, well, why does God want that? Because God is love and He wants you to become like Him. Now, notice this verse there on the outline, Galatians 3:26-28. "You become children of God," how? Circle this. "Through faith in Christ". Faith in Christ Jesus. And he says, "And when you're baptized into Christ, you are clothed with a new identity". So many people are confused about their identity today. Gender identity, career identity, ethnic identity. He says, "when you're baptized into Christ, you're clothed with a brand new identity from Him". And he says, "Now you're in Christ's family". And he said, in Christ's family, notice this, he says, "There is no division". In other words, no distinctions. He says, "there's no division such as Jew or non-Jew, slave or free, male or female".

You know, these are irrelevant in the family of God. He said, "We're all equal because we all share a common relationship with Jesus Christ". Now, before we move on from this point, I wanna give you a little bit of update on the screen here about a report on the growth of God's family because if you believe the media, you would think that the church is dying all around the world. And it may be having a hard time in America right now, or in Western cultures, but when people say the church is dying, that means it's either ignorance or it's willful thinking. It just isn't there. And so, I decided to look it up. This week, I looked up the statistics, the current ones, for April 2022 on global Christianity from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

Here's the first statistic. Look at this on the screen. Right now, April 2022, there are 2.6 billion Christians around the globe. Think about that. As of this month, 2.6 billion Christians, that makes the church by far the largest organization on planet earth. It's bigger than any country. Let me put this in perspective. At 2.6 billion members of the church of Jesus Christ around the world, the church is bigger than China. The church is bigger than China and the United States and Europe put together. Nothing is bigger than the church of God. We are the largest thing on the planet. One out of every three people on this planet, says, I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. And I could take you to 10 million villages in the world, the only thing in it is church.

Here's another statistic. Look at this on the screen. Since 2000 AD, that's 22 years ago, in the past 22 years, the Christian church around the world has grown faster than the world's population every single year for the last 22 years. Where have you read about that in the media? Now people say, oh, everybody's leaving. Everybody's stopping. Nobody's going to church, all of that. Maybe in the west, but exploding around the world.

Here's another statistic I discovered this week. Pentecostals, Christians, and evangelical Christians are growing, both growing twice as fast as the world's population. Have you ever heard that? Anybody ever say that to you? Now, I'm sad that the biblical term evangelical has been hijacked by politics here in America. It's a good term. It simply means people who spread good news, but we've grown twice as fast as the population every year for the past 22 years. Here's this one will surprise you.

Look at this statistic. Atheism has peaked. It's actually declining every year in the world. Look at these stats here on the screen. In 1970, there were 165 million atheists out of three and a half billion people. 1970, that's about 50 years ago. Today 2022, there are only 138 million, about 30 million less out of a population of 7.9 billion. The population doubled, and atheists lost 30 million. They're not growing. They've peaked. They're not reaching people like people think. According to the World Atlas, I just got this. After the United States, the nations with the most practicing Christians, anybody wanna guess what the nations with the largest members of church?

After US, it's Brazil where 235 million people are church members of Christian churches. That's 88% of the country. Or Ethiopia where 180 million are Christians. That's 60% of their country. Or the Democratic Republic of Congo where 170 million are Christians. That's 95% of that nation. Or Nigeria where 127 million are Christians. You don't hear this kind of stuff, do you? Right now, there are already over a hundred million Christians in China in spite of persecution. And the church in China is growing eight times faster than the population. Bottom line, the center of Christianity has already shifted from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern hemisphere. And we may be going through some problems in America right now, but the church is exploding literally everywhere else.

Now, let's get back to this. The first thing Jesus is doing right now is growing and building His family. And guess what? It's growing by leaps and bounds. He wants everybody to have the choice to be in it. And so, we're to spread the news. Now, here's the second thing Jesus is doing right now. He's been doing it since the resurrection. Number two, He's not only growing a family. Number two, He's keeping God's family safe and secure. He's keeping His family safe and secure. Like any loving Father, God doesn't want to lose any of His children. And of course there are a lot of evil forces out there in the world that would like to try to hurt God's children because if I can hurt God's children, then I can hurt God.

You know, sometimes when I'm talking to somebody about putting their trust in Jesus Christ, letting Jesus save them, I will hear a very common fear, it's a common worry. And people say something like this, you know, Rick? I'd like to give my life to Christ. I'd like to trust Him for my salvation, but I'm afraid. I'm afraid that if I commit my life to Jesus, because I'm worried that I won't be able to keep that commitment. There's so many temptations in my life and I'm doubting that I can keep myself saved.

So then I just patiently explain that just as you can't save yourself from your own sins, you can't keep yourself saved. God doesn't expect you to keep yourself saved. That's the second job of Jesus, and He's been doing it for 2000 years, to make sure that no matter what happens in your life, no matter what happens to us, or around us, or through us, Jesus will make sure that our salvation is secure and we will make it safely to heaven to live with God forever. Let me show you a couple verses John 10:27-28 Jesus says this, "My people know my voice and I know them, and they follow me. So I've given them eternal life". Now circle the phrase eternal life. We'll come back to that. "They can never be lost". Star that. "They can never be lost and no one can steal them out of my hand. My Father who gave them to me is far more powerful than anyone, so nothing can snatch them away".

That's called eternal security, and that's Jesus' job, not yours. Now I want you to notice a couple things about this verse. First, circle that phrase as I said, eternal life. A lot of people have a misconception about eternal life. When does eternal life begin? Well, most people think it begins the moment you die. Wrong. Eternal life begins the moment you invite the Spirit of Jesus Christ into your life. It begins from that second. And from that point on, you have eternal life and it is Christ's duty and His responsibility to keep you saved and safe for heaven. This is why once you put your hand in Christ's hand, He's never gonna let go.

Now, there may be some times where it's inconvenient for you to be a Christian. And they're saying, Lord, I wanna go to this party, or I wanna say this word, or I wanna do this bad habit, and you squirm and you wanna let go of His hand, but like any loving Father, He's never gonna let go of you. There are times you wanna let go of His hand, but His love for you is He will never let go of yours. Paul said it like this, 2 Timothy 1. This'll be a good verse for you to memorize. "I know Jesus, the one in whom I have believed. So I am certain," no doubt, "that He is able to safeguard and protect everything I've entrusted to Him until that day".

This is the second thing Jesus is doing right now. He's safeguarding and He's protecting your salvation. He's protecting the salvation of everybody in His family who've chosen to become part of God's family by faith. You cannot lose it. I may lose a lot of things in life. I may lose my mobility. I may lose my family or my wife. I may lose my health. I may lose my mind with Alzheimer's, but the one thing I can never lose is my salvation because the second thing that Jesus has been doing for 2000 years is making sure that my salvation is secure and I'm gonna be safely taken to heaven even if I lose my mind. That oughta put you at rest. Now here's the third thing. We're just looking at five of the things that Jesus is doing right now. This is gonna be a mind blower.

Number three, write this down. He is praying for every need we have. Did you know that? Did you know that Jesus is praying for you constantly? The Bible says it multiple times that Jesus is praying for you all the time. So wait a minute, I don't get this. I thought Jesus was God. He is God. He's part of the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is God. You say, well, wait a minute. How does God pray to God? Oh, you never talk to yourself? Right. No, He talks to Him. God talks to Himself about you. You do this all the time. You talk to yourself about you. And why do you talk to yourself about you? 'Cause you're made in God's image. Squirrels don't talk to themselves. Snails and fish don't talk to themselves.

What makes human beings different is God gave you ability to talk to yourself. And God talks to Himself all the time. It's one of the human abilities that makes you different from animals. Now, even before Jesus died on the cross, He was already praying for you. Did you know that? In John 17, in a whole number of verses, we're gonna come back and study that chapter later this year. Just one example of what Jesus prays for you. Notice these verses. John 17:9 and following. He says this, "I'm not praying for the whole world". This is Jesus praying. "I'm not praying for the whole world. I'm only praying for those who you've given to me, Father, because they belong to you. Father, keep them and care for them". Circle that. "Keep them and care for them". He's praying for all of our needs. "Keep them and care for them so they'll be united just as we are. I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but I'm asking you need to keep them safe from the evil one".

And he says, "I also pray for those who will believe through their testimony". Now, most of you listening right now have already stepped across the line, and you've asked Jesus Christ to save you and you're already in the family of God, but there are others of you who are sitting here right now and you know what? You're gonna make that decision to follow Christ and to become a part of His family in this service. Why? Because Jesus has been praying for you for a long, long time. And today is your day to say yes. I pray not just for those who are already in my family, He says, "I pray for those who will believe through their testimony". What a beautiful verse.

Now, Hebrews 7:24-25 says this. "Because Jesus will never die, He'll never stop serving as our priest. He will always be able to save anyone who comes to God through Him". What does a priest do? He represents God to people and people to God. And in the Old Testament, there are all kinds of priests. But in the New Testament, you don't need to preach anymore because Jesus is your priest. And he says we come to God through Him. Why is Jesus doing this? "Because He's always interceding for us". Notice that verse. "He's always interceding for us asking God to help us".

Did you know that God is constantly hearing Jesus say help him, Lord. Help her, Lord. Help them, Lord. I want you to circle the word on that verse, interceding, okay? Circle that verse, interceding, okay? Because what does it mean to intercede? Intercede means to advocate for somebody. It means to advocate on the behalf of somebody. When you speak up for somebody on their behalf, you're interceding. And when you pray for somebody else besides yourself, that is called intercession. Anytime you pray for anybody else, that's called intercession. You are interceding for them. Now, during every moment of your life, listen closely. Jesus Christ has been interceding for you every moment of your life.

Say, how can He do that? He's God. He doesn't get confused. He doesn't get circuit overload. He has been continually talking with God, the Father, about you your entire life and about things that you need in your life. That's how much Jesus loves you. Not only is Jesus called our intercessor and interceder, but He's also called our advocate in heaven. That means every time you blow it, you stumble, you fall, you fumble, you sin, you fail, Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, leans over and says, Father, remember I already paid for that one. I already paid for that sin. It's covered. That's what Jesus does when He's your advocate. I don't know if you know this. This is a new material for some of you. You may have never known that in heaven, the entire Holy Trinity talks about you.

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, they have all been praying for you your entire life. They've been talking to each other about you your entire. Why? Because they love you. You were made to be loved by God. God will never stop loving you. You can't make Him stop loving you 'cause God is love. Now, here's an interesting thing. The times that the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have prayed for you the most have been those moments in your life when you were in so much pain and so much confusion, you couldn't even find the words to pray yourself. You know what I'm talking about. There's sometimes you are so in agony, and so confused, and so afraid, and so guilty, and so full of grief, and other negative emotions, you don't even know what to say. God says that's when the Trinity's praying for you in heaven.

Romans 8:26 says this. "In the same way," in other words, just like Jesus intercedes for you. We just looked at that verse. "In the same way, the Spirit," that's the Holy Spirit, "also helps us in our weakness. We often don't know what or how to pray, but the Spirit intercedes for us with deep feelings that words cannot express". In those moments, you're just going. God! The Holy Spirit's taken that and interpreting it, and He is expressing in deep emotion how you're feeling to the Trinity. So, now listen closely. I wanna teach you a new way to pray this Easter.

Many of us Christians grew up with the tradition of asking Mary or other saints who are already in heaven to pray for us. Pray for us, Mary. Pray for us, Saint Thomas, Saint Matthew, whatever. We ask the saints to pray for us. But follow this logic, okay? Listen to me real quickly. If you have already got God the Father praying for you and Jesus the Son praying for you, and the Holy Spirit, all praying for you together, do you really need anybody else on your team? I don't think so. No.

So here, you would just need to say this. Loving Father, dear Jesus, Holy Spirit, I need your prayer right now. I need your prayer right now. Say, I could really say that? Yes. Why can you say that? Because interceding for you is one of the tasks of Jesus that He says He's doing for you right now, and the Holy Spirit says so too. You can pray to Jesus, you can pray through Jesus, you can pray in Jesus' name, and you can even ask Jesus to pray for you. How about that? How about that? Do you really need anybody else on your team? If you got God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit praying for you, you really don't need anybody else help saying a word for you in heaven. Now, there are two other things that Jesus is doing right now because He resurrected Himself at Easter and He's still alive.

Here's number four, write this down. He is preparing a home for us in heaven. He's preparing home for us in heaven. Now, Jesus promised He would do this even before He went to the cross. In fact, the night before He went to the cross, He wasn't even thinking about all the agony and pain He was gonna go through for your behalf. He was thinking about you. And this is what Jesus said right before He went to the cross. John 14 on the screen. Jesus said, "There are many rooms in my Father's home". He's talking about heaven. "There are many rooms in my Father's home. I'm going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so," he said, "I would tell you plainly". I'm not gonna shine you on. I'm gonna shoot straight with you. If it weren't true, I'd tell you. "But when everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am".

Now, that's a promise of Jesus Christ to you. He said, I'm gonna go and prepare your room in heaven. You know, after this service and we finish the Easter marathon that started, services I've been doing continuously since Friday night, Kay and I are planning to get away for a night. So we're gonna go away this afternoon to some hotel. Do you think that I'm worried that when we get to whatever hotel we choose that the room's gonna be messy, or dirty, or unkempt, or unprepared? Of course not. No, of course not. Why? Because right now while I'm speaking, somebody's preparing a room for us. Jesus has been doing that for you.

Now, here's the amazing fact. He's been taking 2,000 years to prepare an eternal home for us. Oh my goodness. What kind of decorating job is that? Now, a God who can create the universe with a big bang, boom, and then speak it and the whole universe comes into existence, and yet He's taken 2,000 years already to prepare heaven? It's gonna blow your mind. In fact, it's gonna be nothing like you could possibly imagine. In fact, I cannot even explain to you how cool heaven is gonna be. I've used this illustration before. You and me have a limited brain capacity as human beings. We live in a three dimensional world. There are dimensions out there we don't even know about 'cause our brain capacity won't hold us. You trying to understand heaven would be like an ant trying to understand the internet. It doesn't have the capacity to fully understand it.

And in fact, you're not gonna understand. In fact, every single example that you've seen of heaven like in movies or on TV, is dead wrong. So just throw out any idea you've had of heaven. Why? Because you can't even understand how cool it's gonna be. I mean, the typical image of heaven is everything's white. You're walking in fog machines up to your knees, okay? On clouds, wearing a robe, playing a harp with a halo. That would be hell. If that's heaven, I'll just stay at Laguna Beach, if you don't mind, okay? It's a whole lot cooler there. Now, think about this. The world's a pretty cool place. I've been in 165 countries in the last 40 years.

I've seen some incredible sights. Sunsets, and sunrises, and waterfalls, and mountains, and jungles, and all kinds of beauty, and the world is broken. This is an imperfect planet. It's broken by sin, and it's still pretty cool even in all its brokenness. If it's this beautiful in a broken place, what is a place of perfection gonna be? You can't even imagine. I can't even explain it to you. In fact, that's what the Bible says. Look at this verse on the screen. "No eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard and no mind has ever imagined the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love Him". It will blow your mind. I can't even explain it to you. It's gonna be so cool. But that's what heaven's gonna be. You've never seen it. You've never heard it. You can't even imagine how great a place of perfection is gonna be. But I do know this.

Friend, I want you to be there with us. I want you to be there to enjoy that place of perfection, but it's not automatic. God wanted to create a race of individuals who are given a choice to love Him. He doesn't force you to love Him. You can choose to love Him or choose to not love Him. And some people today on planet earth go, I don't wanna love Him. God says, have it your way, Burger King. But if you're saying have it your way, then He's saying have it your way for eternity. Why would you not want God in your life now, but would want Him in eternity? That doesn't make sense. But He says, you've got to join God's family to get into God's family home. And that's by putting, that's a choice.

He doesn't force you. It's a choice, to put your faith and your love in His Son who came to save us. But that's what He's been doing. He's been preparing that home and I just can't imagine how cool it's gonna be. And the more of my family, mom, dad, brother, I've got a son there, I've got lots of friends. I lost five best friends in the last year who were elders of Saddleback Church, four of 'em were. And the more of my friends in heaven, the sooner I wanna get there. There's one other factor, though, that Jesus has been doing. And He's not just building, He's not just protecting, He's not just preparing, He's waiting.

And this is the last thing. Write this down. Before Jesus comes back, He's waiting for us to finish our assignment. That's the fifth thing. He's waiting for us, you and me, to finish the assignment He gave us. Now, as a pastor, I could not count the number of times in the last 40 something years that I've watched people take their last breath. I have been at the bedside and in the hospital or in homes when a lot of people stepped from this side of eternity into the other. And you know what I've learned as a pastor? That last words are important. That you better listen when somebody's saying their very last words before they depart earth and go into eternity because they're pretty important. Right before Jesus went back to heaven, He gave His last words.

So they're the most, if He wanted to say anything more important, He would've said it. But the last thing Jesus said, you know, He had died on the cross, three days later, rose back to life, then spent 40 days, the next 40 days, walking around the streets of Jerusalem, which is why so many people came to Christ so quickly and the church exploded from just a dozen or so people to hundreds of thousands and then millions. Why? There were so many eyewitnesses. He didn't just come back to life and then go back to heaven. He stood around in Jerusalem for 40 days, talked to people. One time, met with a group of 500 people. Lots of people saw Him.

And so, it was a very well attested to event. And that's why it spread rapidly over the entire Roman empire. But right before He goes back to heaven, He says to one group that are meeting with Him after the resurrection, He's getting ready to go back to heaven. And Jesus gives what's called the Great Commission. That's the instructions He gives to everybody in God's family. It's not for priests, it's not for nuns, it's not for pastors, it's not for bishops, it's not for monks. It's for you and me. Normal people. Normal people. And here's what He says. This is called the Great Commission. The last words of Jesus before He goes back to heaven.

Matthew 28, Jesus says, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me". Well, duh, you're God. So, you created the universe, you have the authority over it. He's saying, I'm just telling you, I got the authority to authorize you. And what I'm about to do is authorize you for a huge assignment, and I want you to complete it. He says, therefore, because I have all authority, you're going in my name, "Go now and make disciples of every nation". What's He saying? Spread the good news. Tell everybody about how much I love them. How I have a plan for their life. How I want them to be a part of my family. "Make 'em disciples of every nation. baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, the Holy Spirit, and then teach 'em to do everything I've commanded you and be sure of this, I'm always with you". I'm always with you.

Now Jesus says, since I've got all the authority and I'm in charge of history, I am authorizing you for the very big assignment that I want you to complete before I come back. Do you know Jesus is coming back a second time? It's called the second coming of Jesus. In the Bible, there are more verses about Jesus' second coming, which hasn't happened yet, than His first coming at Christmas 2,000 years ago. Far more verses in the Bible about the second coming. He says, this is the assignment for everybody in God's family. We are to pass on the good news to everybody else. Why? Well, there are three reasons.

Number one, I mentioned it earlier. God wants a big family. So if you're in it, He wants you to bring somebody else in it. He wants you to tell somebody else. He wants you to pass on the good news. He wants a big family. Second, it's criminal if we don't share it. Follow the logic on this. If I knew the cure for Alzheimer's and I knew the cure for AIDS, and I knew the cure for cancer, and I used it to heal myself and I didn't tell anybody else in the world, that would be the ultimate act of self-centeredness. It would be criminal and they should put me in prison for it 'cause I'm intentionally causing the death that many millions of people could have been saved from it.

And yet, we have something better than that. If you are in God's family, we know how to have your past forgiven, everything you've ever done wrong, forgiven. Get a purpose for living, you're not here by accident. And have a home in heaven. Who else is gonna offer that to you? Nobody. The government can't offer to you. Cable TV can't offer it to you. Only God can offer you past, present, future salvation. This is the greatest news in the world. If we kept it a secret, that's criminal.

Now those of you, most of you, you're already in the family. You've already stepped across the line. You know why? Because somebody fulfilled the Great Commission and told you. Have you told anybody? Is anybody gonna be in heaven because of you? Can you imagine getting to heaven one day and God said, what part of the Great Commission did you not understand? And you say, well, I didn't even know about it. He said, yes you did. Rick told you about it Easter 2022. He told it real clearly. It's your job to pass on the good news. That's part of why you're still here is to pass it. So you can't say I didn't know, Rick told you, okay?

And so, it would be wrong, but there's a third reason why this is important. And it's because the Great Commission, this passage here, is the hinge point of history and the timing of Jesus Christ's return is dependent upon this. He is waiting for us to finish the task. The Bible says the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God wants everybody to have the chance to say yes or no to His love. You're not gonna force 'em, but He wants everybody to have the chance. And the moment the last person that God knows is gonna say yes, says yes, then it's over and bam, we're outta here. And everybody goes into eternity. This is the hinge point.

A lot of people getting out their maps and charts trying to figure out when Christ's coming back. Nobody knows when He's gonna come back. In fact, Jesus said, I don't even know. If Jesus doesn't know, believe me, you're never gonna figure it out. He said, neither the angels, nor the Son, only the Father, which is in heaven. But there is one sign you need to know. It's this one right here. Look at the next verse. Jesus is waiting for us to finish the task that He gave us before He left.

Matthew 24. "This good news about God's kingdom". What's the good news? Past forgiven, purpose for living, home in heaven. By the way, the word good news in the old English is the word gospel. You ever heard anybody talk about gospel music? It's just the old English word for good news. English word, old English, good news. Modern word, good news. Old word, gospel. Greek word, euangelion, evangelism. Evangelism, evangelist, evangelical means people who share good news. It's the same word. He says this, "This good news about God's kingdom will," circle, not might, "will be shared as a testimony to all". Not some, "all the world in every," not some, "every nation and only then will the end come".

Finishing the task is inevitable. It's gonna happen one of these days. The only question is, which generation will have the privilege of doing it? Of being the final generation to finish the task? Will it be our generation? And we say, hey, let's tell everybody about the Lord. Are we gonna kick the can down the road, abdicate our responsibility, and pass it off to some future generation? Or have the privilege and the reward of being the ones that finishes the task?

Now, in a future message, I'm gonna share with you all the details of what I personally am going to be doing after I step down as your senior pastor, because I'm going to be leading the largest coalition in the history of the church, in the history of Christianity, of literally millions of churches, denominations, agencies, mission boards, and individuals in Christian history, committed to completing the Great Commission by AD 2033. You say, why? That's gonna involve Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, charismatics, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, independent Christians, evangelicals, Pentecostals on all the different flavors of the church working together. It's the largest coalition in history. We've been working on it for a number of years. It started at a meeting we had 20 years ago in Amsterdam.

Now, let me give you a future snapshot of heaven 'cause I just wanna see this. Of the 12 original guys that Jesus chose to follow Him, they were called disciples, one of 'em was a guy named John. John was the last of the original 12 disciples to die. He died an old man. Everybody else was martyred. Peter, Thomas, Matthew, all the others. They were all martyred. John lived to an old age. He was exiled by the Roman empire on an island in the Mediterranean called Patmos. And on that island, John wrote five books of the Bible. One of them called the gospel of John, three letters to churches called 1, 2, and 3 John. And he wrote the last book of the Bible, which is called Revelation.

You've probably heard of that one. It's got all these weird symbols in it, but it explains what's gonna happen in the future and what it's gonna be like in heaven. I don't have time to get into all of that. I just wanna give you one glimpse where John got to get a little glimpse of the future of what it's gonna be like in just one event in heaven, a giant party. And here's what it says. Revelation 7. This is in the future. John says, "And I saw," this is in his vision. "I saw a vast crowd of people too enormous to count".

Of course, it's billions and billions and billions and billions of people in this family. God's family, from all ages. "Too enormous to count from every nation, and every tribe, and every people, and every language standing in the front of God's throne and singing loudly". They're gonna sing the song together at this party. "Salvation has come from God and His Son, the Lamb". Now, if you don't know anything about Jewish history, you have, what's the lamb bit there? In the Old Testament, once a year, a lamb was chosen to be sacrificed as symbol for forgiveness for the entire nation of Israel, and that was called the sacrificial lamb. And it was a symbol for telling what Jesus would do on the cross.

And when Jesus arrived on the scene one day, John, the baptizer, looks at him and says, there's the Lamb of God. Follow that dude. Yeah, I don't think he said dude, but he did say follow him. That was the Southern California John the Baptist. And Jesus said, gnarly. Anyway, follow the Lamb of God. Jesus. So what he's saying here is that we're gonna sing a song in heaven at a big party said. Say, hey, we're all here. None of us deserved to be here. We didn't earn it. We didn't pay for it. We didn't win it. It's not ours to work for or earn. It's just a gift of God the Father and God the Son. Woohoo! And that's what we're gonna sing.

Friends, I so badly, so badly want you to not miss out on that event. I want you to be there in that event one day when we're going, hey, we all made it and we don't deserve it. It was just God's free gift. God, you're cool. God, you're great. You're wonderful. It's all because of you. We didn't save ourselves. We couldn't keep ourselves saved. You just did it 'cause you love us. I want you to be there at that event.

Now, let me close with just a personal thing. I wanna just say this personally to you because for 43 Easters, I have pleaded with you and thousands of other people to accept the grace of God, the God who thought of you, you wouldn't exist if God hadn't thought of you. Who planned you before you were born, who created you, who birthed you, chose your race, chose your gender, gave you your gifts, gave you your talents, made you unique so nobody's like you in the world. There's no clone of you anywhere. God broke the mold when He made you. He made you, He gifted you, He died on the cross for your sins so you don't have to die for 'em. And He wants you in His family forever.

So this is my last opportunity as the senior pastor on Easter Sunday at Saddleback to urge you, friend, please, please, please do not make the fatal mistake of rejecting the grace of God who loves you more than any person will ever love you on this planet. No woman will ever love you the way Jesus Christ does. No man will ever love you the way Jesus Christ does. You can't make God stop loving you. Accept His love today. Why? Because eternity is a long, long, long, long time to be wrong because of pride or stubbornness. You have everything to gain. You were made for this moment. You are designed for a great purpose, but that purpose is worthless if you're not plugged into the power of God.

I could have the best blender in the world, but if it doesn't plug in, it doesn't work. It can't fulfill its purpose. I could have a toaster. It can't fulfill purpose unless it's plugged in. I can have a vacuum cleaner. It can't fulfill its purpose. It could be incredible designed, dead unless it's plugged in, you cannot fulfill your purpose, the one that God created you for, without God in your life. So you have everything to gain. What is it? Past forgiven, purpose for living, home in heaven. Everything to gain. What do you give up? You give up one thing. You give up one thing. You give up being the god of your own life 'cause you can't have two gods in your life. Either you're gonna be god of your life or God's gonna be God of your life.

So up to this point, you've been the god of your life. How's that working for you? No problems. Everything works out great. You can't even solve your own problems much less save yourself. You need a Savior. If you didn't need a Savior, believe God wouldn't have wasted the time to come to earth Himself and die on the cross for you. If there was any other way to get you into heaven, believe me, He would've done it. But God loved you so much, He came to earth for your benefit. And so, in this last Easter message, I beg you with deep love, please, please, please, please say yes to God's love for you today. It'll not only change you, it'll change everything in your life for good. It'll change you. It will change your family for good. It will change your marriage for good. It will change your friends and relationships for good. It will change your eternity. It will change your career. It will change everything in your life.

If you want 2.6 billion people to give testimonies, they can. You say, okay Rick, I'm in. What do I do? Last two verses from the Bible. So simple. Acts 10:35 says this. "It makes no difference who you are or where you're from". Okay? And by the way we could add, or what you've done, doesn't matter what you've done in your life. "If you want God and you're ready to do as He says, the door is open". And this Easter, the door is wide open for your salvation. How do I get that? Last verse. John 1:12. It says this, "To all who receive Him," that's Jesus. "And believe in His name, Jesus gives the right to become children of God".

That means that's how you get into God's family. How do you get in God's family? It's right there. You believe and you receive. You believe and you receive. You might circle that. Believe and receive. I believe that Jesus is who He said He was, and I receive His spirit into my life knowing I can't save myself. God made it so simple. Nobody could say it was too hard to understand. Even a little kid can understand that, believe and receive. A five year old can believe and receive.

You say, well, I believe in Jesus. I don't doubt that at all. Probably everybody in this room believes in Jesus. You're halfway there. You're halfway there. Have you ever received Him into your life? That's the other part. What does that mean? It's you start saying God, you're God and I'm not. And you put on a sign that says, I'm under new management. I used to call the shots in my life. Now, God is calling the shots in my life because God is God and I'm not. By the way, that's a great stress reliever. I beg you to open your life to Christ right now. There's not a better time. You won't be able to go stand in front of God one day and say, I didn't know, because I just told you. I just explained it to you.

Now, I'm gonna lead into prayer. And honestly, it doesn't really matter what words you use when you pray for salvation 'cause it's all about an attitude of humility just says, "God, I need you. I can't do this on my own. I need you. You're God and I'm not. And I know I've blown it, I know I've made mistakes. I need you". So let's bow our heads right now. Everybody, let's just close with prayer And I'm gonna pray a prayer like I've prayed hundreds of times before. And I wanna invite you to follow me in this. You don't know what to say. You can just follow me and say, you know, what Rick is saying, Lord, me too. I'm affirming what he's saying. God knows your thoughts. You don't have to say it aloud. He knows every thought you've ever had. He knows what you're thinking right now. And He loves you. So just say this in your mind:

Dear God. Thank you for thinking me up. Thank you for wanting me to be alive. Thank you for creating me. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for loving me even before I knew you. And thank you for wanting me in your family forever. Oh and by the way, God, I didn't even know this till today, but thank you for praying for me all the times I couldn't pray, didn't know how to pray, didn't wanna pray, or couldn't express it in words. Thank you. Lord, I know I can't save myself and I know I can't keep myself saved. I need you, Jesus, to be my Savior.

And so today, I wanna ask you to accept me into your family. I wanna join those 2.6 billion members of your family that are alive right now on earth. And I do it like you say, by believing and receiving. Today, I am believing in you, Jesus. And I am receiving your spirit into my life. I know I've got a lot to learn, Lord, but today, I give as much of my own life as I understand to as much of you as I understand right now. (And the Lord will say: that's good enough.) I give as much of my life as I understand, and there are parts of my life I don't even understand. Don't even know about. To as much of you as I understand. There are parts of you, Lord, I don't even know about, but I'm given as much of me to as much of you as I understand right now in faith. And I ask you to accept me into your family and save me. In your name I pray. Amen.

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