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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves People, BUT...

Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves People, BUT...

Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves People, BUT...
Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves People, BUT...
TOPICS: Jesus Loves People

Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Romans chapter 2? Romans chapter 2. And can we pause to ask God's blessing?

Father, as we turn to this wonderful book written by Paul, I'm asking for your grace to be faithful to the text and to say the things that are really the spirit of the text itself. Not to push anything into it, but to take out what has been deposited there by your Holy Spirit through Paul's writings. Our thank you for the weeks we have spent considering the incomparable, unparalleled love that Jesus has for people. And, Father, we really celebrate his love for us, your love for us through him. Thank you, Lord, and in this last study on this series, give us great grace and ears to hear what the Spirit would say. In Jesus' name, amen.

If your love has no boundaries, it's dangerous. You see, true love requires love for the truth. The apostle Paul in the great chapter of love, 1 Corinthians 13, said, love does not rejoice in evil, but it rejoices in truth. And truth always forms the boundaries for the expression of love. We have spent 14, this week, 15 weeks in Jesus Loves People. And we have, like a diamond, turned it around and noticed his love for different groups of people. Jesus loves doubters. Jesus loves the broken. Jesus loves children. Jesus loves homosexuals. Jesus loves haters. He loves traitors. He loves atheists. He loves terrorists. He loves addicts. And he loves you. Jesus loves people.

We began our study, our series, with the episode of Christ and the rich, young ruler. And the Bible says Jesus looked at him and loved him. We considered also the great anthem of love in 1 John chapter 4 verse 8. You know it, it says God is love. Today, however, I have a very interesting title to this message. I'm calling it Jesus Loves People, But. Jesus Loves People, But.

Now why on earth would I do that? Why would I spend 14 weeks talking about the amazing love of Jesus toward all different classes of people, only to say Jesus loves people, but? And here's why. I want to bring balance to all of the teachings we have had on his love. And here's why we need balance. Without balance, love becomes license. Without balance, the love of God becomes a license, a permission slip to do anything. After all, God loves me. I can do anything. I can be anyone, and God will love me.

Yes, Jesus loves prostitutes, but he does not love prostitution. And he expects the prostitute coming to him to, like everyone else, turn from that lifestyle and turn to him. Jesus loves doubters, but he doesn't love doubt. He doesn't expect someone to persist in unbelief while claiming to be a believer. Jesus loves homosexuals. He does not love homosexuality. And he expects that person to also turn from that lifestyle if they're going to claim to be a Christ follower.

Jesus loves the broken, but he doesn't want them to stay broken. He's come to heal the brokenhearted, to fix them. So in every case, in all cases, it's always about change. Jesus came to bring change. In fact, we will discover in our text in Romans 2 that it's his love that is to have an effect on people and lead them to repentance. It's his love that should lead a person to repentance. And if that person refuses change, refuses repentance, then there is inescapable judgment that will fall.

Some of you know the name Oswald Chambers. You have read the book or you are reading the book in your daily devotions, called My Utmost For His Highest. He writes, "In the teachings of Jesus Christ, the element of judgment is always brought out because judgment is the sign of the love of God." It's an unusual statement. "Judgment is the sign of the love of God." And I want to show you why today.

Many years ago, in the frontier days of our country, Warren Wiersbe tells this story in one of his commentaries. In a small frontier town, there was a young child sitting in a stagecoach teamed up with horses. Something spooked the horses, and off went the stagecoach with that child trapped inside. A young man saw what was going on, quickly apprised the situation, and went after and rescued that young boy, saved his life.

The little boy grew up to become a criminal. The young man who saved him became a judge. And years later, after the criminal was brought into court for a crime committed, a very grievous crime that at that time deserved the death penalty that was called for in this country. That criminal stood before that judge and recognized the judge as the one who saved his life when he was a young boy and appealed to the judge on the basis of that past experience to save him now. To which the judge replied, son, on that day I was your savior. Today I am your judge. And sentenced him to be hanged to death.

That was justice. It's what he was called to do as a judge in that particular case. Today I want to balance out the love of God with the holiness of God, with the justice of God. And I want to balance out that Jesus loves people with three qualifications found in Romans 2. And they are as follows. Jesus loves people, but be balanced theologically. Jesus loves people, but be bold spiritually. And Jesus loves people, but be bountiful or generous practically.

We begin in Romans chapter 2. Let's read together. Let's look at it together, Romans chapter 2. And get the first one, the theological balance. Paul writes this. "Therefore you are inexcusable, oh, man, whoever you are who judge. For in whatever you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.

And do you think this, oh, man, you who judge those practicing such things and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds.

Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality. But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil. Of the Jew first, and also of the Greek. But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God."

Romans has been called the Magna Carta of the Christian faith. It is Paul's finest of writings. And notice in what we just read how he balances out God's love, God's patience, his long suffering, his goodness. He balances that out with God's wrath and his righteous judgment. And Paul, you should know this, begins his book with that balance. Did you know that he begins this book by telling people the good news as well as the bad news? All in the same couple of sentences. And here's why he does it. It's so important. Until you understand the bad news, you'll never appreciate the good news. So please notice in chapter 1, verse 16, Paul says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek."

That's all good news. It's all about the gospel, which means good news. It's all about salvation and believing. Good news. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, the just shall live by faith." All good news. But look at the very next verse. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." Good news, bad news. That's the balance, the theological balance. You'll never appreciate the good news until you understand the bad news.

And you'll notice, he talks about those who suppress the truth in their unrighteousness. If ever there was a country that suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, it's the one you're living in. This country was founded on truth. This country was shaped by biblical truth. The Gospel flourished and grew in this country like no other country. But the truth has been, as time has gone on, and is being suppressed by unrighteousness.

I've heard people tell me, God's going to judge America. Excuse me, I disagree. God is judging America. We're already down that road. It's too late. We're already there. And I know this because of what Romans says, that one of the first marks that God is judging a society is when he gives over that society to all of the immorality they're clamoring for. When God finally says, OK, you want it? You can have it. It's a sign that he is judging them. And so he continues in Romans chapter 1. Look at verse 24. "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness in the lust of their hearts to dishonour their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever, amen."

See, the lie, the lie is, it's all about me. It's all about what I feel. It's all about what I want. I decide what is right for me. This is the way I am. And they disregard the creator for this reason, verse 26. "God gave them up to vile passions, for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error, which was due."

Here's the setting. Here's the setting that you need to know. In chapter 1, Paul begins by placing the entire world under God's judgment. The entire world is guilty before God. But then in Romans 2, he turns to the religious person, the moral person, maybe the legalistic person. The person who would say, yeah, those evil people in the world should be judged. And he goes, oh, hold on. Let me now address you moral, religious people and say, you think you're off the hook? You do the same things they do, only you do it secretly, inwardly, privately.

It's like the story of the man who was driving down the road in the woods, and he hit a skunk. And he was going [SNIFFING]. And he thought, boy, there's got to be a skunk somewhere around here in the woods. And he kept driving down the street, and it got worse and worse and worse and drove for miles. He could still smell it. And so he concluded, there must be thousands of skunks out here in the woods, not knowing that he is taking the stench with him wherever he goes.

And so the balance is that God is loving and forbearing and gracious. That's the good news. The bad news is, if that forbearance and love doesn't lead you somewhere, to change, then a certain judgment is going to come. Yes, God is love. But that's not all he is. He is also perfectly, infinitely holy and just and will judge unrepentant sin. And frankly, too many people place too much of the focus and emphasis on the love side of the fulcrum and become imbalanced. Oh, we all love 1 John 4:8, God is love. And I've heard that misquoted hundreds of times. But I wonder how many have in their Bibles Psalm 7 underlined, where David writes, "God is a just judge. And God is angry with the wicked every day."?

That's in there. God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. In our country we have a legal system, a jurisprudence system, and it's all based on truth and truthful testimony. If you have ever done jury duty and you're part of that jury, that's what you're there for. You are there to determine what is true and not truth. Truthful testimony versus that which is not. And why? Because the goal as a jury and a judge is to punish the guilty and to acquit the one who is not guilty. Now let's say a judge has all of the evidence, it's all true, and it points to this guy as a murderer. But then the judge turns to the murderer and says, you know what? I am in a good mood today. And you can just go home. That would make that judge unfair, unjust, and unloving. He didn't care about the victims. He's not loving society.

Well, so it is with God. God never ceases to be loving. But God never ceases to be perfectly holy. And because he is holy, a just judge, he demands payment for sin. The penalty as a just judge must be met. He demands payment for sin. That's as a judge. But in his love, he is compelled to pay the penalty himself. That's what the cross is all about. The cross is the demonstration of the perfect righteous, holiness, justice of God. But it's a demonstration of the perfect love of God in taking the penalty himself.

And you know why he was compelled to do that? Because there was no other way to get those people on earth saved and get them to heaven. There was no other way. You see, sin is such a grievous offense against God, it demands payment by somebody perfectly innocent. There's only one who fit that bill, and that was Jesus Christ. And he came to take your sin and mine, and there was no other way. That is why Jesus in the garden prayed this prayer. You know it. Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from me. Was it possible? No, it was impossible. It was impossible to be saved any other way. So Jesus said, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done. And he went to the cross. Because the penalty must be paid. But he was compelled to pay the penalty himself.

I have another story about a man that grew up to be a judge. These were two friends in Australia. They went to school together and graduated together. One became a judge. The other became a banker. And the banker was good, but after a while got a little bit crooked and embezzled a huge sum of money. And he stood in court before the judge, his friend, his friend, graduated from school with. So his friend the judge is facing his friend the embezzling banker.

So there's a conflict of interest. The judge leveled the stiffest penalty possible monetarily against the criminal. Gavel went down. He read the sentence. And then the judge stood up, took off his robe, walked down to his friend, and before he embraced him said, I want you to know. I have emptied my bank account, all of my savings, to pay your fine. As a judge, he leveled the sentence. As a friend, he paid the penalty.

And that is a picture of what Jesus did on the cross. The penalty must be paid. He paid the penalty himself. See, without punishing sin, God would be unjust in forgiving sin, like any judge in a courtroom. So that is the balance theologically. Jesus loves people, but be balanced theologically. Here's the second thing I want to end this series with. Jesus loves people, but be bold spiritually. Be bold spiritually. Please notice how bold Paul is. I think you already have noticed it. Notice how bold he is in his speech, like in verse 4.

"Do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, long suffering, not knowing the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." Most people would walk out at this point. "Who will render to each one according to his deeds eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good, seek for glory, honor, and immortality? But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath." He's bold.

And why was he so bold? By the way, this isn't the only time. If you know the writings of Paul, Paul even said, I am bold to say this to you. Why was he bold? Because of the statement, he said in chapter 1, verse 16. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen. And you know what? You shouldn't be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You shouldn't be ashamed. You have nothing to be ashamed of. It is the power of God unto salvation that says for everyone who believes.

However, you are living in a culture, in a country, you are living now in a society that is doing everything it can to make you feel ashamed of the Gospel. How dare you say you believe in God and believe in the Bible? They're trying to make you feel ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the moment you say, well, you know? I don't agree with that ruling, or I don't agree with these values. I believe in the Bible.

What? Oh, that's a hate crime. Oh, you're discriminating. Well, actually, it's just not what I believe. I believe something different. I don't agree with that. I just want you to know that I have a different way of thinking than you do. Please don't discriminate against me for thinking that. But you live in a country that's trying to make you ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was bold. Jesus was bold. One time Herod, who represented the government in those days, called for Jesus. Herod Antipas. And somebody said, Herod wants to see you. Jesus said, go tell that fox I'm busy.

On another occasion, the religious elite confronted Jesus, and he said to them, you brood of vipers. Who has warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come? This is gentle Jesus, meek and mild. He was bold. Now the goal of that boldness and the goal of that theological balance is simple. It's to lead a person to repentance. Notice it says, the goodness of God, verse 4, leads you to repentance. That's the goal. That's the goal.

Yes, Jesus loves people, but now once they experience his love, it's not just to say he loves you the way you are and wants you to stay the way you are, Jesus loves you the way you are, but he loves you too much to leave you the way you are. So the love should move a person to repentance. And that's who you and I are. That's where we come in. You and I are agents of God to help people come to repentance. The only way that's ever going to happen is you have to be bold. You have to be bold.

The world is trying to tell you, shut up. Don't speak. Don't tell me your opinion. Don't give me your voice. Don't be bold. This is where we need to step it up and go ahem, I've got something to say. Listen to what Jesus said about you. You are the salt of the earth. If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It's good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city set up on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a lamp and cover it with a bowl. But they put it up so everybody can see it. So let your light shine among men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Amen.

Salt and light. For that to happen, it infers boldness. Now when Jesus said the words that I just quoted, there's three things that are implied by that. Number one, it's implied that Christians are fundamentally different from non-Christians. Oh, yes, we're humans. Yes, we all blow it. But the images of salt and light show the difference between the two communities of the world of unbelievers and the world of believers. Jesus said, you are not of this world even as I am not of this world. The world is dark. We are to be its light. The world is corrupt and decaying. We are to be salt.

Second, it implies that Christians must permeate non-Christian society. We are to be morally distinct. We are to be spiritually distinct. But we are never to be socially segregated or separated. We're to bring the salt into the society and bring the light into the darkness. The church is never meant to be one giant bless me club. Unfortunately, it becomes that. Well, it's all about me feeling good, isn't it? I should be able to come to church and say, I feel really good about what I heard and what I say. It's all about me. No, it's not. It's all about strengthening us so we become salty. And then the salt gets poured out of the salt shaker into the world. That's what it's about. You've heard that old saying that says a person wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. Well, the church wrapped up in itself makes a very small package. There's a purpose to our existence.

The third thing this implies what Jesus said is that Christians can influence a non-Christian culture. They can. I think back to the likes of William Wilberforce in England. Born-again Christian, loved God, evangelical, Bible-believing man of God. William Wilberforce fought long and hard against the morals of his culture and helped to overturn slavery at that time.

Lord Shaftesbury, Ashley Shaftesbury, saw the injustice done in the workforce and fought for fair labor laws among the lower class and lower middle class. They boldly opposed their culture and prevailing cultural ideas. They had a voice, and they used it. Some of you have heard and maybe even seen, until it was canceled, a TV show called Flip It Forward. It was on the HGTV network. It was about entrepreneurs who take properties and turn them around. Two brothers were featured, two identical twins, David and Jason Benham. These Benham brothers had a great show, and it was very popular until they started saying things like, well, you know, we're Christians. You're what? Yeah, we're Christians. We believe in the Bible. And they said phrases like simply this, we believe in traditional marriage. Show's been canceled.

You know why it's been canceled? The pro-choice lobby and the gay lobby put so much pressure on HGTV network they canceled the show. So these two brothers decided, we're not going to roll over. We're going to make this known. We're going to spread the news. And they went on talk shows and news programs to tell the real story. And this is what they said why they did it. Jason said, "We're not doing this because we want to fight. We're doing this because we love Jesus. We're compelled by love, and we're willing to be bold because of that love. Jesus loves all people, but he does not love all ideas." Jesus loves people, but be balanced theologically. Jesus loves people, but be bold spiritually. And third, and I'll close our series with this, Jesus loves people, so be bountiful, generous. Be bountiful practically.

Notice in verse 4 something. And here I want to set the tone, what I think our tone ought to be. Because I've taken 14 weeks of studies, and I've sort of brought a little balance to it so far. Now I kind of want to balance out what I just balanced. We're talking about what our tone ought to be. And notice in verse 4, Paul talks about the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and long suffering. Notice those words. The riches of his goodness, forbearance, long suffering. That, that is God's approach to a sinful world. And that ought to be our approach. The New Living translation renders it, "Don't you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Don't you care? Can't you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?"

And haven't we seen this over and over again with Jesus, whether it's the rich young ruler, or the woman caught in adultery, or Pontius Pilate, or Thomas, or Judas Iscariot, or Saul of Tarsus? That patient, long-suffering goodness. Zero in on that word in verse 4, that one word. Goodness. It's mentioned twice. "Do you despise the riches of his goodness, not knowing it's the goodness of God that leads you to repentance?" Most translations translate it kindness rather than like this, goodness. And that is actually a better translation. That is more accurate.

Because when we speak of God's goodness, we're not speaking of his goodness as opposed to his badness. We're speaking of his goodness in terms of his benevolence, his tenderness, his being bountiful and generous to people. That's one of the unique features about Jesus Christ above all others, his unique ability to love people.

The last couple weeks for me have been very interesting in my travels. But let me just tell you that one of the most interesting meetings I've ever had in my life took place last week in Jerusalem, when I had the ability and the privilege to meet with the prime minister of Israel. And I sat in Benjamin Netanyahu's office. I thought I'd be there for 10 minutes. For an hour.

I was with Franklin Graham and a couple of other people, and we talked about a number of things. And one of the things we talked about, and the prime minister wanted to talk about, was the person of Jesus Christ. And he said something I'll never forget. He said, you know, Jesus Christ brought to our nation of Israel and to the Jewish people a whole new level of, and he stopped. Of, he's trying to think of the word. He brought us a whole new level of, and he couldn't think of the English word, so he said to his aide the Hebrew word. He brought a whole new level of chesed, chesed.

Now I recognized that word just from my Bible study tonight. I said, oh. Chesed. Loving kindness. And he goes, that's it. That's the word. Loving kindness. Jesus Christ brought a whole new level of loving kindness. I thought, oh. That is quite a statement. That is who he was. So please notice because of the word we just saw in verse 4, Paul doesn't leave all of mankind under God's judgment and just sort of walk away. He didn't go and, you're all judged. Like, you made your bed, lie in it. Oh, no, that's not the end of the story. The real story is that God is kind and he is patient. He's possessed with an innate goodwill toward sinners. And innate kindness. He by his very nature is tenderhearted and compassionate and withholds judgment until judgment can be withheld no longer. And when all else fails and a person decides, I will not repent, then certain judgment will come.

But you need to know this, when it does come, and it will come, it will come, God takes no delight in it. He has no joy whatsoever. There's no glee in his heart when a person rejects his son and goes to hell. They will. They will. But there's never any delight in the heart of God. Ezekiel 18, verse 32, the Lord says, "I find no pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord." Jonah went to Nineveh and was hoping that God would just nuke it. By the way, Nineveh today is ISIS territory. Nineveh just thought, wipe them out. And God said to his prophet, should I not show compassion on Nineveh?

Peter writes in 2nd Peter, "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to", finish it. Repentance. He wants all to come to repentance. Jesus came to the city of Jerusalem, and what did he do? Wept over it. Wept over it. He saw the judgment coming and he wept over the city, saying, oh, Jerusalem. How often I would have gathered you. But you were not willing. That's why he wept.

But our tone should be one of chesed, loving kindness, bountiful tenderness. Ben Franklin was right. You'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. And brothers and sisters, we will attract more unbelievers with kindness than with correctness. You can have both, you know. You don't have to sacrifice one for the other. You can be doctrinally, theologically, biblically correct and balanced, and you can be bold, and it's a tough little dance, you can also have a tone of kindness and sincere love. Being willing to be rejected because of your display of truth in love.

So balanced, bold, bountiful. Jesus loves people, but that love is meant to lead them to repentance. And if they refuse repentance, then he will judge them. Until he does, people are imperfect. Have you found that out yet? People are imperfect. They mess up. They sin. And our posture ought to be an open hand. An open hand is better than a pointed finger. An open hand is better than a pointed finger. Some of us are really good at this, really great at wielding the finger and going, that's sin. Be careful, because you just might hear Paul going, therefore, you are inexcusable, oh, man.

An open hand is better than a pointed finger. Now when you open your hand, it's not going to be easy. You'll be called a hater just because you have an opinion that's different. Just because you say, that's not right, that's wrong. I disagree with that. You'll be called a discriminator. But don't, don't, don't fall for the tendency of the finger pointing. Maintain the open hand.

I want to close with this story. And it closes today, it closes our series with a little illustration on how kindness, how love, covers a multitude of sins. Come with me to the third grade classroom. There's a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk, and all of a sudden there's a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he can't possibly imagine how this happened. It's never happened before.

And he knows that when the boys find out, he'll never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they'll never speak to him again for as long as he lives. The boy believes his heart is going to stop. So he puts his head down, and he prays this prayer. Dear, God, this is an emergency. I need help now. Five minutes from now I'm dead meat. Amen.

He looks up from his prayer, and here comes the teacher with the look in her eyes that says he's been discovered. As the teacher is coming to snatch him up, a classmate named Suzie is carrying a goldfish bowl filled with water. Suzie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl in the boy's lap. He pretends to be angry. All the while he's saying thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus. Now all of a sudden the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the children are on their hands and knees around the desk, cleaning up the mess. OK, stay with me on this. Get past that.

The sympathy is wonderful. The ridicule that should have been his was transferred to somebody else. Do you see the gospel in that? It was transferred to Suzie. As the day progresses, the sympathy grows better, and Suzie's ridicule grows worse. At the end of the day they're waiting for the bus. Suzie has been shunned by all the other children. The boy walks over to Suzie and says, Suzie, you did that on purpose, didn't you? She whispers back, I wet my pants too once. You see, the Bible tells us in Romans, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ."

All of us don't have the right to do that. We have the right, the privilege, the calling to open the hand, knowing that they don't like your kind of brand of love. I don't call that love. I should be able to love who I want to love and do what I want to do. And God should make me happy. Even for those who have exchanged the truth of God for the lie. Be willing to be maligned and impugned and misunderstood. Happens to me all day long. Check out my Facebook post this week. It's OK. I know who I am, and I know where I'm going.

Father, we applaud you. We applaud you. We applaud your grace, we applaud your love, we applaud your forbearance. Lord, you have watched from heaven since man started on this earth for thousands of years snub you, revile you, blaspheme you, curse you, reject you. And yet you so loved the world that you gave your son. We are agents to help people come to life change, come to repentance. Help us, Lord, to be balanced, to be bold, but to be bountiful. And Father, finally, I just want to pray for anybody who might have come today who doesn't personally know your love and your forgiveness.

Whatever they may be like on the outside, inwardly there's a struggle. Inwardly there is no satisfaction. There's that sense of, my life isn't what it should be, it's not what it could be. And I wonder if I could have a do-over. No matter what their messaging is externally, internally there's an emptiness and there's a need that they have. And it's a need to be forgiven. It's a need to be forgiven by you, by God in heaven, because we all face a death sentence. And you are willing to extend life freely, freely, if we receive it. If we are willing to believe in Jesus and turn from our sin and turn to a savior.

I pray, Father, for those who don't know that yet, don't know you yet. Up to this point they've played church. It's been a game. It hasn't been real. They're not following Jesus. He's not their savior. Church is filled with people like that. Lord, may this be the day where we discover Jesus loves me, and I'm personalizing that love, and I'm committing my life to Christ.

Our heads are bowed, our eyes are closed. If you're here and you want to do that, you're willing to give your life to Christ, to come to him on his terms, to say you're sorry to him, to be willing to receive a gift. And it is a gift. You can't earn it. You could never earn it. The gift of life. If you want to receive that, I want you to raise your hand. Just so I can notice your hand. Everybody else can't see you, but I can. I'll acknowledge you. Keep it up for just a moment. God bless you, sir, to my right. Anyone else? Raise it up high. God bless you to my left. Anybody else? You. God bless you, right in the middle. I see your hand, and your hand on my right toward the back. Anyone else? Now's the time. Bless you.

Right over here on my left. In the balcony. If you're outside, raise your hand up. If you're in the overflow rooms, raise your hand up. There's pastors in those places who will acknowledge it. Raise it up. Say yes to him. Surrender your life to him. Find out for yourself if God is who he says he is and can do for you what he says he can. Be willing to make that and see that life change. God bless a few of you guys right there in the middle.

Father, we are thankful. We render thanks for being able to see this. And I pray you would strengthen those who raised their hands, who are making that crucial, most important decision. This is where it begins. Change them, Lord. Make all things new. In Jesus' name, amen.

Would you stand to your feet? We're going to play one final song, and as we play this song I'm going to give you an opportunity, if you raised your hand, please, even in the balcony, come down the stairs. Come down one of these aisles and stand right up here right now, where I'll have the opportunity to lead you in a prayer making Jesus your Lord and your Savior. Just come and stand right up here.

If you're in the middle of an aisle they'll move for you. Trust me. Just say excuse me. We'd love you to come down and stand here and have the opportunity to celebrate. Heavy-laden, come find rest here in his arms. And all you downcast, give your labor to the savior, won't you now? He's here for your burdens. He's here for your cares. He's... so take just another moment. Here every time you call.

So take just another moment. Until then, this is our highest honor and privilege, to watch this happen. New birth happen. We're honored. If you're in the family room and you want to join us, just come through the door there. If you're in the overflow, the pastor will direct you right over here. Anybody else? That's right. Awesome. Hi. It's just us. It's just us. There's nobody important here, there's nobody big here. Just a bunch of us sinners welcoming other sinners who love God's forgiveness. That's all we are. So please come. Anyone else?

For those of you who have come forward, so glad you did. So glad you did. You are welcome here. And I want to lead you in a prayer right now. It's a prayer of asking Jesus to come into your heart. I'm going to say this prayer out loud. I'd like you to say it out loud after me. Say it from your heart. Tune all of us out. Tune him in and say these words to him, say:

Lord, I give you my life. I'm a sinner and I know it. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus died for me. I believe he shed his blood for me. I believe he rose from the dead for me. I believe he's alive right now. I turn from my sin. I leave my past behind. I take Jesus as my savior. And I want to follow him as my Lord. In Jesus' name I ask. Amen.

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