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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Faith - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Faith - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Faith - Part 1
Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Faith - Part 1
TOPICS: 18 Minutes with Jesus, Faith

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In my years as a pastor, I've discovered that many Christians have a difficult time defining their job. Sure, they can tell you where they work or what their daily responsibilities are, but they can't seem to identify their big picture purpose. Well today, we're going to receive our Marching orders from Jesus himself and discover why you and I were put on this earth. My message is titled, "Straight Talk About Your Faith," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

When Abraham Lincoln was forming his cabinet, one of his advisors suggested a particular man to serve on the cabinet. Lincoln immediately said, "No way. I don't like his face". And this advisor said, "Well, Mr. President, he can't be held responsible for his face". Lincoln replied, "Every man is responsible for his own face". I think of that comment whenever I'm talking to some Christians, you probably have encountered them before. They look like they've been baptized in lemon juice, you know what I mean? They're always walking around with a sour, dour expression.

Now I'm not suggesting that every Christian ought go around singing "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" all the time. That's not realistic. You're not happy all the time, you're not giddy. But there needs to be an inner joy in our life. That in spite of what is happening around us, we have that calm assurance that God is in control. That may not cause us to laugh all the time but there's a smile on our face when we realize somebody more powerful than we are in control. The truth is, what is inside of us eventually shows up on the outside of us. How can you maintain that joy in your life in spite of your circumstances? Jesus talked about joy in what we call the beatitudes. Blessed, happy, really joyful are those who mimic Jesus Christ in their attitudes, actions, and affections.

How do we keep that joy? Well one secret to joy in your circumstances is to remember the purpose for which God has left you here on earth. Why is it that God didn't rapture you to heaven the moment he saved you so that you could have unending joy in a relationship with him untainted by sin? Why did he leave you here? We're going to discover the answer to that question in the next section of the sermon on the mount. Turn to Matthew chapter 5, as Jesus gives us some straight talk about our faith. I'm going to read the passage before we delve into it: you are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket but on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.

Let me point out three similarities that you find in these two metaphors. First of all, both of them are affirmative statements of what we are. He doesn't say, "You aren't an adulterer, a murderer or a drunkard". A lot of times Christians today are defined by what they don't do. You know, I could say the same thing about this podium. This podium has never had a drop of alcohol pass its lips. It has never had a lustful thought about anybody. It has never even gotten angry with somebody much less murdered them. There are a lot of things this podium is not, but does anybody want to be this podium? I don't think so. Jesus said, "In the affirmative you are salt, you are light".

Secondly, notice both emphasize individual responsibility. Jesus begins the sentence with an affirmative personal direction. You. Do you remember in basketball arenas a few years ago, it was popular for when an opposing team drew a foul, for the fans to stand up and point and say, "You! You! You"!? Well, that's what Jesus is saying. You, not somebody else. You are salt. You are light in this world. And then finally, both are statements of fact. They're really not commands. Jesus didn't say you should be the salt of the earth or you ought to be the light of the world. He said you are. The only question is, what kind of salt are you? Are you effective or have you become tasteless? What kind of light are you? Are you a bright light for the gospel or a dim light for the gospel?

Let's look at both of these statements more in-depth, beginning with verse 13. First of all, Jesus talks about the value of salt, "You are the salt of the earth". In Jesus' day, salt was a very valuable commodity. In fact, the Greeks thought it was of divine origin. The Romans had a saying also. They said, "Nothing is more useful than sun and salt". Salt was used for a variety of things. To take care of animals, to serve as a disinfectant, to serve as flavoring like it is today, to serve as a preservative. It was so valuable, especially pure salt, that it was often used as currency.

Did you know Roman soldiers many times received their wages, not in currency but in salt? In fact, the latin word for salt, s-a-l, sal, is the root word for salary that we use today. It's a means of payment. It was so valuable. So what did Jesus mean when he said you are like this valuable commodity called salt? I think he had two things in mind, two applications. One purpose of salt was to enhance thirst. To enhance thirst. You know today, an athlete who's training in the hot sun, the coach will give him salt tablets. Why? Why would you have salt? Well, it would cause a thirst that would motivate you to hydrate yourself properly and stay healthy. It was used in the same way in Jesus' day. Salt was given to animals so that they would take in the proper amount of water.

You probably have heard the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but, what? You can't make him drink. And that's true. But you can salt the oaks. And that's exactly what he's talking about here. Salt was a way of causing the animal to want to drink. In the same way Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and," what? Thirst for righteousness. Unfortunately, we live in a world that there are a lot of people who aren't thirsting after righteousness. They have no desire for a right relationship with God. Well Jesus said, "One reason I'm leaving you here on this earth is to help create that thirst".

You say, "Well, how do you create spiritual thirst in other people"? It's the Holy Spirit working through you but in some specific ways. For example, you know, Friday night, you may be out with your mate or be out with your family for dinner at Applebee's. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to stand on the tabletop and preach a sermon from John 3:16. It may be okay but you're probably not going to do that and have a receptive audience. But one thing you can do is, before the meal arrives, bow your heads and pray. Why do we pray in public? It's not to make people think we're so holy but it's a way of reminding people around you that there is a God to whom we're accountable. Now, is anybody going to get saved hearing that? No, but it reminds people that there is a God. You can do that wherever you are.

This week, Amy was at an appointment and the person who was serving her said, "You know, I don't know how you got this appointment. We're all booked up. I don't know how you got it". And Amy said, "Well, I prayed about it. I prayed that God would open up a time". And that opened up a spiritual discussion. When I was in the ninth grade, Amy and I were in an English class together at Richardson west junior high. And she wasn't a Christian yet. And we had a teacher, mrs. Madison. And she was a Christian and she was a part of this church. And she wanted to use her position as a public teacher to be a witness for Christ. But she also didn't want to be fired for doing so. So she was very careful about what she did. She'd choose books that had a great spiritual theme for us to read and to report on. She would ask leading questions of the class. Questions like, do you think it's possible for somebody to know what happens after death? And that would be my cue to raise my hand and say, "Oh yes, miss Madison. You can know for sure". And I could share the four spiritual laws at that time.

Well Amy will tell you to this date that she couldn't believe that I would always answer those questions and that anybody could know for sure they're going to heaven when they die. And she would think, who is this know-it-all jerk who thinks he has the answer to everything? Of course, 50 years later, she's still asking that question. That's a different sermon topic. But the point was, that's the year she ended up becoming a Christian. And she'll say part of the catalyst was a public school teacher who salted the oats, who created spiritual thirst using the position she was in. That's what Jesus is talking about here. When he talks about being salt, one idea is to enhance thirst. But there's another application of being salt. And it really was the main use of salt in Jesus' day. And that was to preserve food. Remember, in the days before refrigeration, the only way you could preserve meat was by packing it with salt.

Now, salt did not prevent the decay of meat. That was a natural process that could not be reversed. You could never reverse the decay of meat but you could delay the decay of the meat. By packing it with salt, you gave the meat a longer shelf life until it had to be thrown out. And Jesus said in the same way, you and I are salt. We are restrainers of evil that is destroying our world. In 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2:6 and 7, Paul alludes to that. He's talking about the future antichrist that the world will witness during the last seven years of earth's history. And look at verse 6 of 2 Thessalonians 2: and you know what restrains him that is the antichrist now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

Who is it that is restraining the antichrist right now? Who is it that is restraining evil until he, the restrainer, is taken out of the way? Well he is the Holy Spirit of God. He, the Holy Spirit of God, is in the world right now restraining evil. How is he doing it? He is doing it through the individual Christians he has left in the world. How do you get that, pastor? Because notice, "He, the Holy Spirit, will restrain until he, the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the way". When is the Holy Spirit going to be taken out of the world? At the rapture of the church. When all Christians indwelled by the Holy Spirit will be removed and the earth will see what it's like to have no godly influence, save those 144.000 witnesses. But the church will be gone and it will take only seven years for the world to completely unravel.

So what is restraining evil right now? It is the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians. We can't prevent the destruction of the world ultimately, but we can delay it. We can push back against it. Imagine a giant dam that is over a small village. And that dam is holding back massive millions of gallons of water. But leaks starts springing up in that dam. It starts springing leaks everywhere, the bricks are beginning to crumble. And a hundred of the men of the town go up to that dam and they push back against it. They know that eventually the dam is going to crumble, their efforts will be futile. But all they're trying to do is buy a little more time so that the people in the village below have time to flee for safety.

That's the picture of what we are doing right now. We are the ones, the restrainers of evil, pushing up against that flood of iniquity that is about to descend upon our country and upon our world. That is our job, as salt, to push back against evil. Now I know some of you are thinking, now, wait a minute. How does that fit with the truth of God's sovereignty? Pastor, don't you believe in the sovereignty of God? Don't you believe the day of the world's destruction is written in indelible link on God's calendar and there's not one thing you can do to change it? Don't you believe that? Yes, I believe it until I read my Bible. Now, let me be clear. I do believe in the sovereignty of God. It's a mystery that we just can't comprehend. But that doesn't negate the individual responsibility that we have. We can delay God's judgment.

You know how I know that? By reading the story of Jonah. God said, "I'm going to destroy the wicked city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyrian". But God sent that reluctant prophet, Jonah, who preached to the Ninevites. Many were converted. And notice the result, Jonah 3:10 says, "When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which he declared that he would bring upon them. And he did not do it". God relented. God repented. God changed his mind. How is it that a omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, unchangeable God changes his mind about anything? I don't have a clue. I don't have a clue and neither do you. We can't explain it. The Bible is explaining in human terms what we can't really understand in divine terms. But the practical outworking of it is, God relented of his decision.

Now here's what's interesting. When you look at secular history, God eventually did destroy Nineveh in 612 BC. Nineveh was destroyed. But God delayed the destruction of Nineveh because of one man's action. The takeaway for me is, we can push back against evil. We can delay God's judgment on our nation and our world. But the only reason we do that is so that we have opportunity a little more longer to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have you ever wondered why God allows people like Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler and others to wreak havoc on the world and continue in their evil ways? Why doesn't God put an into it? The Bible's very clear.

In 2 Peter 3:9 and 10, Peter says, "For the Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come repentance". The only reason God has not drawn the curtain on human history and sent Christ back is to give people longer to share the gospel. If we're fulfilling our Christ-given purpose to be salt, it means we are being a preservative. We are pushing back against evil. Not to save America. There is no command in America for us to save America. That's not the command of scripture. We have been called to save Americans from the coming judgment of God by introducing them to faith in Jesus Christ. That's why we push up against evil.

And you know there are a lot of Christians today who have come up with all kind of excuses of why they shouldn't get involved in pushing back against evil. They talk about their own piety. Well, I'm just too holy and I can't get involved in the worldly things. I just can't do that at all. I might taint my holiness. Some use theology as an excuse. Well, we can't change the sovereign plan of God. God is going to do whatever he is going to do. Some even use a false patriotism of saying, "Well, this is America and I shouldn't have imposed my Christian views on a free country".

Let me remind you something. Every country is built on somebody's values. Every nation is built on some value system. For the first 160 years of this nation, we were built on the values found in God's word. Now we are following the values of atheism, Marxism, humanism, but every nation is going to be built on some set of values. Should we get involved in pushing back against evil or should we just stay in our holy huddle and talk to one another?

Erwin Lutzer, my good friend, recounts what happens when Christians are indifferent about what is happening in their nation and in their world. If you want to know the end result of Christian passivity, just remember what happened 83 years ago when Adolph Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. And then he started his march across the world. The fact is, the reason he was allowed to do what he did was the indifference of the German people, mainly German Christians. There were a few outliers like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But the majority of German Christians remained silent under this ungodly dictator. And they used all the excuses, piety and their theology and their false sense of patriotism to remain silent. Dr. Lutzer recounts the testimony of a Christian living in Germany about the end result of indifference:

I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews but we tried to distance ourselves from it. Because what could anyone do to stop it? A railroad track ran behind our small church and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars.

Week after week, the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us. We knew the time the train was coming. And when we heard the whistle blow, we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our lungs. We heard the screams. We sang more loudly and we soon heard them no more. Years have passed and nobody talks about it anymore but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me. Forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians yet did nothing to intervene.

There are churches across this country that are singing at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the evil that is pervading our country right now. We dare not do that.
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