Robert Jeffress - Booting Up For Service
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In the present moment, things like saving for retirement or trying to get that promotion or helping your kids excel in school seem really high up on the importance list. And while they are important, will any of these things make a difference to you in eternity? You see, God has placed you and me on planet earth for a purpose, an eternal purpose. And today I'm going to share four essential components for making God's business your business. My message is titled, Booting Up For Service, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
The famed evangelist, D.L. Moody was walking down the streets of Chicago one morning when he confronted a stranger. He said, sir, are you a Christian? The man growled and he said, mind your own business, to which Moody replied, this is my business. You know, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with unbelievers is not just the business of vocational evangelists. It's your business and it's my business. The reason he has left us on this foreign outpost, called planet earth, is so that we can introduce people to the Gospel. And that's what we've been talking about these last several weeks as we've looked at the third piece of spiritual armor that Paul tells us to put on in Ephesians 6.
If you have your Bibles, turn to Ephesians 6:15. Ephesians 6, beginning with verse 16. Paul talks about the importance of having our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. And we said that's talking about putting on the right spiritual boots to go into spiritual warfare. Specifically, the boots of the Gospel of peace is both our ability and our willingness to share the Gospel message with other people. How does that help us? Well, it gives us stability in our life, just like the boot gave the Roman soldiers stability. It protects us from our enemy. It provides fulfillment in our lives.
The last time we talked about three specific ways that making God's business your business. Your purpose in life can protect you from Satan's attacks. Well maybe you say look pastor, I agree that the purpose of my life needs to be shifted, it needs to focus on what God has left me here to do. But exactly how do I do that? How do I make God's business my business? This morning we're going to talk about Booting Up For Service, how to make God's business your business. You know, if you are ever going to be faithful at doing what God has called you to do, first of all, there has to be a conviction of peoples' need for Christ. You will never risk sharing the Gospel of Christ with an unbeliever until you are absolutely convicted that apart from Christ that person will spend eternity in hell. The fact is, most people today don't really believe that. Most people today don't really believe that apart from faith in Christ people are destined to spend eternity separated from God.
A few years ago the Washington Times did a story about a book of mine that came out a few years ago called, "Hell, Yes". And in the book I talk about seven politically incorrect truths that Christians should embrace and one of those truths is every other religion is wrong. And in the Washington times article the reporter interviewed a very well known New York rabbi, a Jewish rabbi, to ask his opinion about what I had said in that book. This is what the rabbi said. He said, "Dr. Jeffress is doing his faith a profound disservice. The claim that there is only one way to heaven, that everyone else is going to hell betrays Christianity. His views are outdated Christianity, a view of Christianity that has been disregarded by most of its own believers".
Now, the good rabbi is true on one point. He is correct in saying that the belief that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved has been discarded by most Christians, that's actually true. Most Christians do not believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. In fact, a recent pew research poll indicated that 57% of evangelical Christians say there is more than one way to God, other than faith in Jesus Christ. Isn't that amazing? 57% of people believe that yes, and these are Christians, 57% say yes, God would like for people to trust in Christ, he wishes people would trust in Christ. He hopes people will one day trust in Christ, but in the end, God certainly is not going to send anybody to hell because they don't believe the right way.
If you accept that, if you are one of those 57% who believe there's another way to God other than faith in Jesus Christ, what you're really saying is Jesus Christ was lying, or at least he was exaggerating, when he said, "I am The Way, The Truth and The Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me". Folks, you will never make God's business your business. You will never have your sole aim in life to lead people to Christ unless you're absolutely convicted that apart from Christ, that friend, that neighbor, that child that sits across the breakfast table from you every morning, is going to spend eternity in hell without Christ. To make God's business our business we have to first of all, be convicted of people's need for Christ.
Secondly, there needs to be a consideration of a person's level of interest in the Gospel, a consideration of the person you're talking to, his interest in the Gospel. Have you ever had this experience? You're in the middle of dinner when the telephone rings and you pick up the phone and it's a telephone solicitor trying to sell you something you're not interested in. How do you respond to their message? Probably about the same way an unbeliever responds to a Gospel presentation when he's not ready to receive the Gospel.
You know, we've been taught you just memorize all of this stuff and you just start talking just like a telephone solicitor and don't stop until you get your presentation finished. That is rude, at the very least, and extremely ineffective. No, instead Michael Simpson encourages people to engage in what he calls permission evangelism. He says that if you're going to share the Gospel effectively you need to learn the tactic of a good salesman. You see, a successful salesman will craft his message to a potential customer by always gauging that customer's level of interest. The salesman will not share any more information than the potential customer is ready to hear.
Simpson writes, "Every communication must be crafted with the goal of insuring that it's not the last communication. The best way to do this is to make sure that the potential customer knows that he's in charge of choosing how much information he receives. He must know that you will honor his choice at his level of willingness to engage or he'll feel pressured and threatened and trust will be broken. The goal of permission evangelism is to get them to give you more and more permission over time until they say, I do". Did you get that point? The goal of talking to an unbeliever about Christ is to make sure this isn't your last conversation with them. You want to keep the dialog going until they come to the point that they are ready to trust in Christ as Savior.
The fact is, many people, many unbelievers have rejected the Christian message not because of the offensiveness of the Gospel, but because of the offensiveness of Christians. There needs to be a consideration of the level of interest in the person to whom you're speaking. There's a fourth important principle for sharing the Gospel effectively and that is a comprehension of the message, a comprehension, we have to understand the message that we're sharing. Turn over to 2 Corinthians 5, the passage we just read a few moments ago. This is such a key passage of scripture for all of us to understand our purpose, our reason for existence.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Paul says, "Now all these things", he's talkin' about the Gospel, "Are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of reconciliation". What does that mean? "Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed to us that word, that message, of reconciliation". Verse 20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us, we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God".
Now, Paul is changing images here. We've been talkin' about the soldier in Ephesians 6. He changes the metaphor. He says you and I as Christians are ambassadors for Christ. What is an ambassador? An ambassador in Paul's day was somebody who was appointed by the king to go to a foreign country and to represent the king in that foreign country. Specifically, he was in that foreign country to deliver the king's message, to make people aware of his judgments. You see, the job of an ambassador was not to make up the message himself. The ambassador did not formulate the message. He simply delivered the message on behalf of the king. Well, what is the message that you and I are to deliver to unbelievers? I want to give you a crash course on evangelism, okay? Because I'm going to share with you in the next 10 minutes four essential truths that make up this ministry of reconciliation, this word of reconciliation that God has give you the responsibility to share with other people.
Let me ask you, if you had a friend, if you had a son or daughter, a grandchild, who came to you and said, how can I become a Christian, do you feel confident that you could lead somebody to Christ? If somebody asked you, how do I become a Christian, would you know how to share that message with somebody and actually lead that person to Christ? God said, I'm depending on you. I've given you the message. I've entrusted it to you, it's your responsibility, do you know what the message is? If not, let me share with you four parts of this message that have to be communicated on God's behalf. First, all of us have sinned. When I'm sharing the Gospel I say, you know, I'm glad you want to know how to become a Christian. To become a Christian there're four things you have to know and believe with all of your heart. The first of all, is the first thing is that all of us have sinned.
The Bible says, in Romans 3:23, "All of us have sinned and we've come short of the glory of God". Now, sin is anything we do that breaks God's laws. And the Bible says we have all broken some of God's laws. We're all sinners. The Bible says there's not one righteous among us, no not even one. We have all sinned and we've all fallen short of the glory of God. Now the fact is, I may have sinned more than you have, and you may have sinned more than Adolf Hitler has, but it really doesn't matter because we've all fallen short. As I talk to the person, I'll use this illustration. Let's say I'm speaking to Walter. I say, Walter let's just suppose that you and I decided in a fit of insanity that we were going to try to swim to Hawaii. So, we go out to Los Angeles, we jump off the Santa Monica pier and off we go swimming toward Hawaii.
Now, Walter is able to make it about 50 feet, and then he gives into exhaustion and he drops to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean like a rock. He's made it 50 feet. But, you know, I'm in a lot better shape than Walter is... And so I keep swimming and I keep swimming and I keep swimming, 1500, 1600, 1700 miles. In fact, I can see the shoreline of Waikiki and diamondhead there. It's in view, I'm there almost, but 50 feet out I give out and I sink like a rock. Now the question is, which one of us made it to Hawaii? Neither one of us did. Yeah, I made it further than Walter did, but does that really matter? No, we both fell short of the goal. And that's what Paul means when he says all of us have sinned. We've all fallen short of God's perfect standard. We've all fallen short of the glory of God.
The second point that I tell people is, we deserve to be punished for our sins. Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death". You know, in our legal system I'll say to people, if you break the law there's a consequence to breaking the law. If you're found guilty of theft the result is incarceration. If you're found guilty of murder the result can be the electric chair. But, disobedience has its consequences. And it's the same way in God's system of justice. We deserve to be punished for our sins. But the good news of the Gospel and this is the third point, is that Christ died for our sins. This is the essence of the Gospel message. Christ died for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his love for us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". When Jesus, the perfect Son of God, died on the cross in some inexplicable way, he took the punishment from God that you and I deserve for our sins.
And I use this illustration to help people understand exactly what that means. A girl, 16 years old, was one time convicted of speeding and she was brought into the court. She pled guilty to the offense. The judge said, okay, the fine is either $200. She said I don't have $200. He said okay, well then the law requires me to sentence you to 30 days in jail. Either pay the $200 or 30 days in jail. She had violated the law. Those were the consequences of violating the law. But then the judge did something very unusual. He stood up from behind the bench, he took off his judicial robe, he stepped down to the bailiff, reached into his wallet and he pulled out $200 and paid the bailiff himself. Why would a judge do such a thing? Because he happened to be the girl's father as well.
That is a picture of what God has done for us. The Bible says God is both the judge and he is the justifier. Yes, God has declared us guilty before him. We're all guilty, we're all deserving not of 30 days in jail, but eternity in hell. We're all guilty. And yet, God in his mercy, because he loves us, he stood up, he took off his heavenly robe, he came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and when he died on the cross he paid the penalty for our sins. And that's what we mean when we say God demonstrated his love for us and that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Jesus Christ paid for our sins.
Now the fact is, you can believe all three of those things, that you've sinned, that you deserve to be punished for your sins, that Christ died for your sins and still be separated from God. There's a fourth thing that you have to believe with all of your heart and that is we must individually receive God's gift of forgiveness. We must individually receive God's gift of forgiveness. You see, a gift is not really a gift unless it's received. And I use this illustration. John 1:12 says, "But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on his name". You have to receive the gift of forgiveness for it to do you any good.
Remember a few years ago, I'm sure you all are Oprah Winfrey watchers, remember on the Oprah Winfrey show one time when she surprised her studio audience and gave everybody in the audience, 300 people, a brand new car. Everybody, man they were elated. I mean, they'd just come to a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show and the end up with a brand new car. They were ecstatic until they came to realize that they were going to have to pay the internal revenue service tax on that car that Oprah gave them. And the tax amounted to $7500 for most people.
Now, most people, many of them, could not come up with the $7500 and they were able to escape the tax. You know how they escaped the tax? By not receiving the gift. You see, the internal revenue service has a provision in its code that says a gift is not a gift unless you receive it. And that's what God says to each one of us. He says I sent Christ to die for your sins. I'm offering you forgiveness, I'm offering you an eternity with me in heaven, but it's a gift and it doesn't become a gift until you receive it.
And when I've finished saying that, I say to the person, do you understand what I've been sharing with you? If they say no I have a question, then I answer their question. No need proceeding if they have an unanswered question in their mind. But, if they say yes, I think I understand, then I ask them the question, would you like to receive God's gift of forgiveness in your life right now? And many times they'll say, yes I would. Sometimes they'll say no, I'd like to think about it. Then you can just say, well, thank you very much. I'm always available, here's my telephone number if you'd like to call me and let me pray for you right now. But, if they say yes, I would like to receive God's gift of forgiveness, then I say well, I want to invite you to pray with me right now and I want you to repeat this prayer after me to God, and I go through a prayer like I will in a few moments during our invitation time.
A century ago, J. Campbell white said, "Most people are not satisfied with a permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ's purpose toward the world that he came to redeem. Fame, pleasure and riches are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The people who are putting everything into Christ's undertakings are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless reward". Are you ready to start getting out of life what God intended you to experience? Today God is inviting you to start Booting Up For Service by making his purpose your purpose.