Skip Heitzig - God, the Jew, and You
Good morning. Hey, I come bearing gifts, but not for myself. This is a gift for some child somewhere in the world. There is a football in it. There's a dinosaur in it. A little car. I'm guessing it's for a boy. Play-Doh, bar of soap. I'm pretty sure it is for a boy. Hairbrush, sundry little gifts. And it's part of a thing called Operation Christmas Child.
This is the 25th year we have partnered with that organization, Operation Christmas Child. And I show this to you because it's a very simple thing to do. You just grab a box, a shoe box. Well, I don't have a shoe box. Get a new pair of shoes. Have your husband buy you a pair of shoes at Nordstrom Rack. They're on sale. And then get the shoe box. Or you can get a box, we'll give you the box for the gifts. Fill it full of gifts and bring it in the next couple weeks to the church. So what starts with a simple shoe box ends up as an opportunity for evangelism.
Since it started in 1993, 168 million people have heard the gospel through Operation Christmas Child. It is the most effective child evangelism tool that I know of. Every day, because gifts are given through OCC around the world at different times other than Christmas, every day it is estimated 30,000 children hear the gospel through Operation Christmas Child alone.
Now, once they come and receive their gift, there are little presentations the churches put together, and it gives them an opportunity to pray to receive Christ. As soon as they do, they're placed in a 12-week discipleship program, where these kids afterwards learn Bible verses, learn how to share their faith so they go back home, tell their parents, tell their friends. And the evangelism keeps going. So 18 million kids have enrolled in that discipleship program. And so it's amazing. I just want to just encourage you to get a shoe box and fill that up for that project.
Would you now turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 9. We're continuing our series called Heart and Soul, as we march through the book of Romans. And we're in chapter 9. We live in a day and an age of polarization. Political parties don't trust each other. The rhetoric is amped up way too high. And you will hear both sides of the political aisle accusing one another with words like liar, fraud, fake, untrue. You hear it on both sides. My take on it is it doesn't just reflect a political condition. It reflects the human condition. I found a book some time ago. It has a chapter in it. It's a book of research and polls. The chapter called American Liars. And according to their polling, 91% of Americans admit to lying routinely about matters they consider trivial.
Here's an example. That meal was delicious. You're thinking, I wouldn't feed that to my cat. But you don't say that, nor should you say that. But you're not being honest. I don't quite know how to get around that. Or if you say, oh, no, you look great. You don't need to lose any weight. You're perfect. You may not be thinking that, but you say that. Or you say, no, I'm great. I'm good, when you may not be all that fine. So 91% of Americans admit to lying routinely about matters they consider trivial. 36% of those say they tell big lies about important matters that hurt other people. Here's the breakdown. According to this research, men lie more than women. Was that funny? Men lie more than women. Young men lie more than older men. The unemployed will lie more than those with jobs. And the poor will lie more than the rich. And finally, liberals lie more than conservatives. Now, don't shoot the messenger. I'm just telling you what I read.
I think most often, the lies come from broken promises. And the good news is that we have in our hands a book filled with promises from a promise-giving and promise-keeping God. Do you know that in your Bible, you have 31,173 verses in total. That is 23,000 in the Old Testament, about 8,000 verses in the New Testament. Of all those verses, it is estimated there are 7,487 promises that God made to us. The Bible says, in Numbers 23, "God is not a man that he should lie. He is not a human that he should change his mind. Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" You and I should live no other way other than being extremely confident in what God has given us in terms of his promises.
I don't know how you treat God's promises. There is a story about when America was first being settled and a man wanted to cross the Mississippi River early in the wintertime. The water where he was crossing was frozen over. He didn't know how much the ice would hold his weight. So he decided he had to cross it. There was no bridge. He got on all fours to distribute his weight evenly, and he moved very, very slowly, very cautiously.
But then he hears a noise. And he turns to look, and he sees a horse drawn carriage weighted down with all sorts of supplies driving over the ice. The man is sitting aboard with the horses, and he's singing and he's smiling, obviously very confident that that ice would hold him, which it did. So which are you like? Are you like the guy that is creeping on the promises, or are you standing firmly on the promises?
With that is the background we come to Romans chapter 9. And the issue at stake in Romans chapter 9 is that the promises of God are under scrutiny, especially the promises that God made to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Now let me explain. When Paul writes the book of Romans, there is a shift occurring in the demographics of the church at the time. You know that the early church, when it first started, it was all Jewish. Started in Jerusalem. The people who believed in the Messiah were Jewish believers.
But as time went on, that began to change. At this point, there are far more Gentile believers in this Jesus than Jewish believers, even though it's a Jewish messiah and the promises are Jewish promises. Israel as a nation has rejected Christ, and the Gentiles have embraced him. So the issue is since they have pushed Jesus aside, has God rejected them? That brings us to chapter 9. It is the new section of the book of Romans. And if you remember, if not, I'll just tell you again, but the book of Romans can be divided into four sections, section one, from chapter 1 to chapter 3 verse 20, is all about the wrath of God. Paul places all of humanity under the death sentence.
But then that is eclipsed by the grace of God. So chapter 3 verse 21 all the way to chapter 8 verse 39 is all about the grace of God. Chapter 9, 10, and 11 brings us to the third of the four sections of the book of Romans, which is under the banner, the plan of God, for the Jew and the Gentile. This is the plan of God. So chapter 9, 10, and 11 is like a trilogy, the Israel trilogy. Chapter 9 is about Israel's past. Chapter 10, principally about Israel's present. Chapter 11 about Israel's future. We're going to look at chapter 9. We're not going to read all the verses, but we're going to read many of them. And I want to show you a four-tiered strategy of God in relation to the nation of Israel. I'm calling this message, "God, the Jew, and You."
So let me give you that strategy. Number one, God's pick is Israel. God chose that nation for a very specific reason. Let's go to verse 1 of Romans 9. "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen, according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises, of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen."
Paul begins by acknowledging that God picked the nation of Israel. Why? To reveal himself, to reveal his plan, and to eventually reveal his son. If you look at those few verses that we just read, he lists several advantages, several benefits, that they have. I want you to notice, first of all, the adoption. No other nation on the planet could say that they were God's special treasure like Israel could. In fact, God even said, in Exodus chapter 4, "Israel is my son, my first born." He regarded that nation as like an adopted son brought into the family. And in Deuteronomy chapter 7, the Lord declared, out of all the nations on the earth, I have chosen you as my special treasure. So they had the adoption.
Second, they have the glory. Have you ever heard the term Shekhinah or Shekhinah glory? It is not a biblical term. It comes from rabbinic literature. But it's a word that means the presence of God. And it's a reference to primarily that cloud in the wilderness that led them, a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night. And then it rested over the tabernacle and eventually the temple. That's the presence of God, or the glory of God.
Third, the covenants. A covenant is an agreement, a pact, a deal. So God made a covenant with Abraham for the land. God made a covenant with Moses for the people of the land. God made a covenant with David for the Messiah who will come to those people in that land. Next, he says the giving of the law. If you think about it, every book of the Bible is Jewish, except for two, Old and New Testament. The two exceptions are the book of Luke, Gospel of Luke, and the book of Acts, both written by Luke, a Gentile. But the rest of them are Jewish scriptures, special revelation of God, Old Testament and New Testament.
Then he mentions the service of God. That is the temple service. They were allowed to administrate that worship center so that people could have fellowship with God as he dwelt among them. Next, and this is really germane to this study, the promises. I mentioned 7,487 promises God made to us. Many of them were promises God gave to that nation. God promised them a land. God promised them and eternal kingdom. And God promised them a messiah. If you were to go to the nation of Israel today, make it to the West Bank, there is a town in the West Bank that was called in antiquity, Beth Al, Bethel. It is in the center of the land. We don't take groups there because of where it's situated. But you can go there. I've been there a couple of times.
There is a sign at one of the intersections just outside of Bethel sponsored by a local grocer. He owns the store. And the sign reads this, "Here in Bethel 3,800 years ago, the Creator of the world promised the land of Israel to the people of Israel. It is by virtue of this promise that we dwell today in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Shiloh, and Hebron." In other words, they're saying, the only reason we're still here is because God made promises to us for us to be here. And so they are there.
As the list continues, verse 5, "of whom are the fathers." Who are they? The patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the 12 tribes, all of them belong to Israel. Israel began by God choosing one man, one person, by the name of Abraham. He wasn't Jewish. He was a Gentile. He lived in Ur of the Chaldees. He lived in the Mesopotamian River valley. And God said to him, through you, I'm going to make a great nation, which proves that God has an incredible sense of humor. That God is going to take an old man with an infertile wife and say, I'm going to make out to you guys a great nation. But he did. You know the story.
She had a baby. The family grew. That family went on to produce lots of children. They eventually went down to Egypt as a family, stayed there for 100 years, became slaves in Egypt, were delivered from Egypt across the Sinai Desert into the land of Canaan, where they populated that land, settled that land, grew in numbers, developed a monarchy there under King Saul, David, Solomon, a whole bunch of other kings, eventually taken captive, but brought back into that land. And if you go to the Middle East today, you can still walk in the land of Israel. Against all odds, it still exists. Today, there are 9 million people living in that small little state of Israel. 6.7 million are Jewish.
It has indeed become a great nation with a $300 billion per year gross domestic product. It is the fourth leading exporter of citrus to the world. It is the third leading exporter of flowers to the world. From one man who was old, with an infertile wife, to a nation of slaves in Egypt, to a land God gave them so that God could showcase His glory through that little nation. The greatest blessing that they showcased is mentioned in verse 5, "of whom are the fathers, and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God."
Now, if you're looking for a verse that encapsulates the humanity and the deity of Jesus Christ, it's hard to beat that one. And Jesus has a Jewish background, but he's God. He's the eternally blessed God. Amen. Jesus was a Jewish man. He was dedicated in the Jewish temple. He went through the Jewish bar mitzvah. He went to the Jewish Passover. And so salvation came to the Jews through a Jew. Do you remember the conversation Jesus had at the well of Samaria with the woman, who said, look, we have our own little worship system. We do our own thing. You Jews do your own thing. Jesus said, we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
God made promises to that nation singularly. It's why I love to go there. I think you've guessed that I love to go there. I've been there 41 times now. I plan to go back in February with a group of about 250 or so of you.
And why do we go there? Why do I keep going back? Well, that's where Abraham came. That's where the prophets preached. That's where David reigned. That's where Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again from the dead, and is coming back to Jerusalem.
This sort of mystifies some people. Some, even Christians, wonder why we evangelicals support Israel so much. What's the big deal about Israel? Why do you guys support Israel?
First of all, let me say we don't support everything Israel does politically, modern Israel. We really support God's covenant to Israel. Because of that, we support Israel. God made all of these promises, and he is keeping them. And we believe, especially according to Romans 9, 10, and 11, that God has future plans for this nation. God has plans for the future of Israel, as we'll see.
I've always loved that little quip I've shared with you before by William Norman Ewer. It's a quirky little thing. Listen to how it goes. "How odd of God to choose the Jews." That's half of it.
"How odd of God to choose the Jews. But not so odd as those who choose the Jewish God but spurn the Jews." In other words, if you choose to follow God, know that what you're getting is a God who developed this nation of Israel and still has future plans for the Jewish nation. So God's pick is Israel. That's the first tier in this four-tier strategy.
Second, God's preference is independent. Look at verse 6. Paul says, "But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect." The word means fall short, or fail. God's word, God's promise didn't fail. Why not?
We'll keep reading. "For they are not all Israel who are of Israel. Nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham. But", now he's quoting Genesis 21, "in Isaac, your seed shall be called. That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God. The children of the promise are counted as a seed. For this is the word of promise.
At this time, I will come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man even by our father Isaac for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls. It was said to her the older shall serve the younger." That's Genesis 25.
As it is written, verse 13, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." Now, that's a bothersome verse. I'll get to that in a minute. Paul is saying this. Look, God's promise to Israel has not failed. Why not? Because some Jews did believe. And for those Jews who did believe, they are a part of God's elect remnant.
So the rejection of Christ by the majority does not negate the promise of God to the minority. He still has a covenant with them. In fact, God's choice to save is not based upon physical descent nor human merit.
So God doesn't operate on the basis of human connection, who you're related to. God's choice does not operate on the basis of human perfection, working really hard, earning your way to God. But God operates on the basis of divine election. So he could say, before the kids were born, the older will serve the younger, not after they were born.
The two examples he uses are Abraham and Isaac. Both of them had sons. Abraham had Ishmael first, then Isaac. But the promise was not to the firstborn, though that was the culture, and that was what the cultural law demanded, that the firstborn would get the inheritance. But it skipped the firstborn, went to the second born, Isaac, son of promise.
Same with Isaac and Rebecca. They had two kids, Esau and Jacob. Esau, the firstborn, should have gotten the inheritance. He didn't. It went to Jacob.
Now, go down to verse 13. This is the bothersome verse. "As it is written, Jacob, I have loved, but Esau, I have hated." So what's up with that? OK, verse 13 is a quote out of Malachi, that's the last book in the Bible, in the Old Testament, Malachi chapter 1. When Malachi chapter 1 was written, it was 1,000 years after Jacob and Esau were born.
So 1,000 years after they were born, nations developed from Jacob and Esau. Jacob developed the nation of Israel. Esau developed the nation of Edom, which hated the worship of God, hated the Jewish people, were enemies, sworn enemies, to them.
So what Malachi is speaking of is not the person of Jacob and Esau, but the descendants of Jacob and Esau. It's a statement that has to do with national election, not individual. These two boys produced two nations.
Now, again, this is a bothersome verse. There was once a seminary student who said to his professor, it happened to be Griffith Thomas, the great eminent British/Welch scholar, and the student said, Professor, I'm having a problem with Romans chapter 9 verse 13, "Jacob I have loved. Esau, I have hated." What's up with that?
And the professor looked down at the verse. And he said, you know, I have a problem with that verse too. But my problem is different from yours. I don't understand why God loved Jacob.
No matter how you look at this doctrine of election, it's hard to get your mind around it. It's hard to figure out how God can predetermine and elect you before you are born but then demand that you make a choice to follow him after you are born. He chooses us. But then he says to you, you must choose him.
But the Bible says both are true. God elects us, but then he tells us to select him. He predestines and he calls. But then you have to decide to believe. How does that work?
I can't unravel it perfectly. But let me give you an illustration that has helped me. A flight is about to leave London and fly to New York. It's a Boeing 767 airline. The destination is determined. The route is already predetermined by the proper authority. The FAA has determined it as well as the ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization. It's predetermined.
But aboard that plane are passengers who have chosen to fly. They have chosen which airline to fly. They have chosen which day to depart. They have chosen where to sit, do they want a window, do they want an aisle. Nobody wants the middle row. But up to a certain point, they have made a choice.
Once they're on board and the flight takes off, they have the freedom to move around the cabin. Once that little light goes off, they can move around. They can talk to different people. They can use the restroom. They can eat a meal. They can play on their computer. There's a lot of freedom aboard that plane.
But the airplane is carrying the passengers to a predetermined port. So you have two things at play. You have freedom, and you have sovereignty, or authority. And they do not contradict each other. They're happening at the same time on that flight.
And so God makes a choice based on his sovereign will. It's called election, predestination. You were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. And yet he says you must choose.
Now, somebody can look at that and say, that's not fair. Well, glad you brought that up. Because that's exactly what he talks about in the next verse, verse 14. "What shall we say then. Is there unrighteousness with God, or is God unfair?" Now he's about to show us the third level of this four-tiered strategy, and that is that God's plan is impeccable.
"What shall we say then? Is their unrighteousness with God? Certainly not." Or no way Jose. And then he'll explain it.
Now, here's the explanation you're about to read. God's election is always a matter of grace. He doesn't elect based on what we deserve. If God acted only on the basis of our righteousness or the fact that we deserve it, you know how many people would be saved? That many. If it was the basis of who deserves to be saved, this many people would be saved, nobody. It's always on the basis of grace.
So look at verse 15. He continues. "For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
For the scripture says to Pharaoh, for this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, that my name may be declared in all the earth. Therefore, he has mercy on whom he wills and whom he wills he hardens."
In verse 15, he is quoting Exodus chapter 33. Let me remind you what happened then. In Exodus 32, Moses comes down the mountain, Mount Sinai, with the Ten Commandments. And what are the people worshipping in front of? What did they build? A golden calf, right? And they're having a party, and they're debauched, and it's idolatry. And the whole nation's involved.
And the whole nation deserved to be destroyed. But God did not destroy the whole nation. He killed 3,000 of them, but the majority of them he left. God was merciful and compassionate to the many, though all of them deserved death.
So here's Paul's argument. If you're going to say God is unrighteous because he chooses one over another, then you have to say that God was unrighteous at Mount Sinai when he let most of y'all live when you all should have been dead. The fact that God did not kill the nation but let them live, and then God said, I will be merciful on whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion, it's God's mercy, grace, and compassion that let you live.
So you might say, you know, God isn't fair. And I'll say to you, you're right. God isn't fair. It wasn't fair that Jesus should have to die on a cross. That wasn't fair. He didn't deserve that. He was perfect. Yet he did it. Why? Because God was showing mercy and compassion to me and to you. And God will do that.
The next illustration is Pharaoh. And that comes from Exodus chapter 9. Now, Moses and Pharaoh had a little meeting together. Moses said, let my people go. Moses was raised in Egypt. Moses was a Jew. Pharaoh was a Gentile. Both of them were leaders. Both of them were sinners. Both of them were murderers.
Both of them saw the power of God. Pharaoh was lost. Moses was saved. Why was pharaoh lost? Answer, because Pharaoh hardened his heart. You say, but that's not what this text says. The text says, whoever God wants to harden, he hardens.
Now, it does say in the book of Exodus that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. Do you remember that? But before that, it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Alfred Edersheim, the great Jewish scholar, noted that in the Old Testament with Pharaoh, that story in Exodus, 20 times it talks about Pharaoh's hard heart. 10 of those times he hardened his own heart. The other 10 God hardened his heart.
And the word, when it says God hardened his heart, is a very different word. It means to make firm or to confirm. So this is how it works. Pharaoh said, now, I'm not going to let the people go. I'm in charge here. I'm going to do what I want. Who is the Lord that I should serve Him? You remember that? He hardened his heart.
In effect, God said, I see your five, and I raise you 10. I'm going to take your decision, Pharaoh, and I'm going to firm it up. I'm going to confirm it. So he hardened his heart. Then God hardened his heart. He hardened his heart again. God hardened his heart. If he would have softened his heart, God would have made firm that decision as well.
The point of all this is simple. If you decide you're going to harden your heart against God, if you are determined to go to hell, God will honor your choice. God will confirm the choice that you make.
He did not create hell for any human being. Let's make that clear. Jesus said that hell is a place of everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. God never meant humans to go there. But he lets them go there if they choose to go there.
As GK Chesterton, the great author, once noted, "Hell is God's great complement to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice." So if you want nothing to do with God, God's not going to force you to have anything to do with him.
If you want nothing to do with God on this earth and you are pushing God far away from you, you don't want him messing in your life, how could a loving God make you be in heaven with him forever? How cruel would that be for a person, I want nothing to do with God, and God says, well, I'm taking you to heaven then, so you have to be with me forever.
So don't worry. God won't save you if you don't want to be saved. You say, well, that's not fair. Well, you know what? A gift isn't fair.
Let's say I give you a gift. You might look at it and go, why are you doing this? I don't know. I just wanted to give you a gift. Well, did you give everybody a gift? No, I just gave, Well, why are you giving it to me? OK, give it back then. No, it's a gift. It's not fair. It's a gift.
The lottery isn't fair. A sweepstakes isn't fair. God makes a sovereign, independent choice to show mercy, to be compassionate, on whom he wills. And you could say, well, what does that have to do with the fore, maybe God in his foreknowledge knows, and that's a whole nother can of worms I'm not going to go through.
But I'm going to take you to the fourth tier. And that is God's purpose is inclusive. I'm going to take you now down to verse 23.
It says, "and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had prepared beforehand for glory. Even us." This is the good part. "Even us, whom he called not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." As he says also in Hosea, "I will call them my people who are not my people, and her beloved, who is not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, you are not my people there, they shall be called sons of the living God."
Here's the point. God's plan includes everyone, Jew and Gentile. It is all inclusive. He is not willing, the Bible says, that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God's plan includes you. Now, you might fold your little arms and say, well, maybe God's plan doesn't include me. Maybe perhaps I'm not elected to be saved.
I'll respond to that and say, why don't you choose him right now, and you'll discover God already chose you. You'll discover God has already been pursuing you. For Jesus said, no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And he said to his disciples who made their own choice to follow him, He said, you didn't choose me. I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bring forth fruit.
You say, well, maybe God didn't choose me. Actually, I can prove that God did choose you. Receive him today. Receive him right now in your heart. And you'll discover God picked you. But come to Christ today.
No, I'm not willing to do that. Don't push me into this. I'm not ready. I'm not ready to receive Jesus yet. OK, well, maybe he didn't choose you then. Well, that's not fair. Well, then choose him. Pick him. Surrender to him. No, I'm not going to do that. Well, maybe he didn't choose you then.
Listen, God's predetermination and God's election never precluded anyone from entering the Kingdom of God because they just discover they were already selected by God when they made that choice. Salvation is like throwing a rope to a drowning man. The rope itself doesn't save the drowning man. The drowning man has to grab it.
He can't stay in the water and go, well, there's the rope. I hope it saves me. He'll die. He has to grab the rope. But he can't be saved unless there's somebody at the shore pulling him to shore.
So that's how it works. God, by election, draws you to safety. You, by your choice, grab a hold of the rope. So let's close by just giving you three takeaway lessons from this lengthy chapter. Number one, you can be numbered among God's people and yet not be one of God's people. You can be numbered among God's people and yet not be one of them.
It could be that you're here today in church, but you're not one of God's people. You don't belong to him. Verse 6 says, "For they are not all Israel who are of Israel." Going to church doesn't make you a Christian.
How do you know you're saved? Well, I go to church. Didn't answer my question. How do you know you're going to heaven? I go to church.
So? I go into a garage. I don't get turned into a car. You don't get turned into a Christian by walking into a church. You can be numbered among God's people, but not be one of God's people.
Second lesson. Spiritual life doesn't come from physical birth, it comes from spiritual birth. Ishmael was the son of Abraham. Esau was the son of Isaac. Neither were sons of the promise. You can't say, well, my parents were Christians, and my grandparents were Christians, therefore, I must be a Christian. It comes from being born again, as Jesus said.
Third takeaway lesson is this. God's plan includes you. But does your plan include God? And that's where the appeal comes in to make a choice. Make a choice to follow him. You can argue over election and predestination all you want.
I say just enjoy it. I don't argue over it. I walk away going, he picked me. I'm on his team. I'm on the winning team. I don't care how you wrangle that in your mind. The fact that he picked you should cause you great humility and great elation.
So it's like this. God wants everybody to be saved. That's what the Bible says. God is not willing that any should perish. So God wants everybody to be saved. The devil wants everybody to be lost. You cast the deciding vote.
You got one and one. You're going to either say yes to Jesus, or you're going to say no. You say, well, I'm not ready to say yes. Well, then, you're saying no, because Jesus said you're either for me or you're against me.
Well. I don't understand how it works. I don't either. But I know it does work. I know his promises are true. DL Moody said, it's like this. It's like you're walking through a hallway, and there are several doors. So you have the choice. You can go in any room you want.
And you're walking down the hallway, and you're looking at the doors. And you see a sign on a particular door that says, whosoever will, let him come. And so you think, I'm going to go into that door. I'm curious as to what's on the other side. I make the choice, I open the door, I enter in.
And I see a table set, and my name is there at the place setting, Skip Heitzig. It's as if they anticipated me. And then the door closes automatically behind me. And on the inside of the door is a sign that says, chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world. Wait a minute. I made the choice. But now I discover I've been chosen. Both are true.
Jesus said whoever comes to me, I will in no wise cast out. If you make a choice to follow Jesus today, he will not say, no, you can't come in. I didn't elect you. You'll discover he did. And you'll discover he gives you the power to live for him.
Father, we thank you. Even though this is a great mystery to us, the fact that you make a predetermination, a predestination, an election, that is your sovereign prerogative, it is based on mercy and compassion and grace. And yet you say whosoever will let him come. Come unto me, our Savior said. And so Father, we pray that many will, heart and soul, give their lives to you.
As we close this service, I want you to think of your own choices up to this point. And I want you to answer this question as I ask it sincerely. Have you authentically surrendered your life to Jesus Christ? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? I'm not asking you are you a religious person, or a well-meaning person, or a well-adjusted person, or a very sincere person. Or if you're a very, very sincerely religious person. I'm just asking you, have you authentically given your life, surrendered your life to Christ?
Maybe you haven't done that. You've come to church. But you haven't come to Christ. Others of you remember making some religious choice some time ago, maybe many years or decades ago. But today you're not following him. You're not walking with him. You're afar. You're away. You need to come back to him. You need to come back home to him.
If you are willing this morning to grab a hold of the rope, He is willing to draw you in to safety. And if you're willing to say yes to Jesus for the first time or come back to him, with our heads bowed, our eyes closed, I'm going to leave mine open so I can acknowledge you and pray for you, I want you to raise your hand up in the air. Raise it up, and just keep it up.
God bless you, and you in the back. I see a few of your hands over here. Over here to my left, and over here, on the back, on the side. Anyone else. Right here in the middle, and on my right. In the front, over here. To my right, yes, yes. Anybody else? Raise that up high, wherever you're at. Just raise it up. In the balcony. If you're in the family room, raise your hand up. If you're out, God bless you. If you're outside, you're outside in the amphitheater, in the courtyard, there's a pastor out there, you raise your hand up. I see a hand right over here, in the back, to the left.
And now, Father, I want to just pray for each hand. Behind each hand is a heart, a name, a person, you love, you have a plan, you plan for them to come and hear this today. And we're able to see it. We're a part of that. It's so thrilling. We just pray, Lord, that you would transform these lives, make all things new. Make everything make sense. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I'm going to have you all stand now. We're going to sing this last song. If you raised your hand, I'm going to ask you to do one other thing. And that is get up from where you're standing, find the nearest aisle, and come stand right up here, where I'm going to lead you in a simple prayer to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus called people publicly. And we want to rejoice with you. You're going to hear the encouragement as you come. We're going to be applauding for you, making a lot of noise for you.
So you come. If you raised your hand on the side, in the back, in the front, in the middle, get up and come and just stand here. It won't take long. It won't hurt. That's right. That's right. Come on up. Come on up. That's right. Whether you raised your hand or not, you want what God has to offer, you come. "From the altar, the Father's arms are open..."
Come on up. If you're in the balcony, come down the steps. If you're in the family room, come through the door. If you're outside in the courtyard, they're going to bring you inside if you raised your hand. Takes just another moment. Won't take long. "The Father's arms are open..." Come on. You're welcome. The whole family, you're welcome. "The precious blood of Jesus Christ." Yes. God bless you. So glad you came. Come on up.
"The precious blood..." Doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter what you've done. "To the alter. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood..." Some of you might be thinking, Skip, you don't know what I've done in my past. Hey, you know what? You don't know what I've done in my past. But I do know this. God forgave me. And it doesn't matter where you've come from. It doesn't matter how good you are.
I find that good people are harder to get saved than people who know they're really bad, because their pride keeps them from coming. And some of you maybe need to swallow your pride, or get rid of it, or just push it aside, and admit that you have a need. You know, the Bible talks about repentance. And that means change your mind. It means you change your mind about God, about you, about your need.
And you change your mind, God will change your heart. He'll change your life. He'll transform you. But you have to be willing, I'm going to change my mind here. And you need to maybe push pride aside and come. Anybody else, real quickly. We're about to pray. Anyone else.
Well, there's a bunch of you up here, and I'm glad you came. So can we squeeze in just a little bit this way? I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to pray out loud. I'm going to ask you to pray out loud after me. Say these words from your heart. And if you can, pretend nobody is around you, just you talking to God, OK? So say:
Lord, I give you my life. I admit I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. That he died on a cross. That he bled for me. That he rose from the dead. That he's here right now. I turn from my sin. I repent of it. I turn to Jesus as Savior. I want to follow him as Lord. Help me. It's in his name, I pray. Amen.