Skip Heitzig - The Gift of Frankincense
Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to Matthew's gospel, chapter 2, where we have had the privilege last week and this week and again next week looking at the details of the gifts that were given to Jesus after his birth: the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. Recently I received a small gift of incense from a couple of friends. I was at their house, and I noticed the aroma, and I asked about it. They said, oh, they're burning this incense, and so they gave me some. And, you know, I was kind of a wannabe hippie, so I thought, "This is kind of cool." And I took it this week and I burned it in my office, carefully. But I lit it and smelled it and it brought back a flood of memories, some good, some not so good, but I was taken back to my college days in my apartment.
And, you know, incense, it just has a particular, depending on what kind, a particularly fragrant smell, and smell is a memory trigger. We're told that it's one of the strongest things that will trigger your memory back to previous events. You have nerves called olfactory nerves that are connected to what's called the limbic system, which controls emotions and even motivation. So as soon as I lit that up, my mind went back and I connected with some previous events. It was such a strong, strong trigger. So here's a question: Who would give a gift like that to a toddler? Who gives incense to a toddler? Besides hippies, who does that? Trucks, yes. Ninja Turtles, certainly. But incense? What's that all about? What is the meaning of giving to a young child a gift of frankincense?
Now I ask the question because we are afforded the time in taking one gift per week, considering some of the details around the Christmas story. I think that as believers we are so familiar with this, that we just read it through and don't even consider. We sort of overshadow and overlook what's there. I know that people generally do this every year when it comes to Christmas. I've always been intrigued by the story in 1903, December 17th, to be exact, two young men in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, did something historic. Ring a bell? They flew. The Wright brothers flew an airplane. They were so excited at being able to just go a few feet, they wired back to their sister Katharine in Ohio a simple message. It was this: "We have flown 120 feet." And then they added a little addendum that said, "We will be home for Christmas."
Well, she was so excited, she took the message down to the newspaper editor who read those words, and his response was this: "How wonderful that the boys will be home for Christmas." That newspaper editor overlooked the most monumental news of the century. Man had flown, and all they're thinking about is "the boys will be home for Christmas." But that happens every year at Christmastime. This world overlooks the grand news that a Savior was born. They overshadow it with gifts and wrapping and parties. We know that. But I think sometimes we overlook the details in the story, like what the gold meant, and what the frankincense meant, and what the myrrh meant. So, because we've slowed down and we've considered one gift per week, we're able to look at it more carefully.
Now something about the wise men, once again, or these magi, as they are called: they appear, not on the birth, but after the birth of Jesus. We're told that in the story. It is sometime after Jesus was born that they showed up. Look at verse 1. "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem." Some scholars think that they showed up as much as two years after Jesus was born. We're not sure, but it was some time and it was time enough for him to grow from a baby into a young child. It says in verse 11 it was a "young Child." And he was no longer outside in a manger, but he was in a house, also it says in the same verse, and we noticed that last time as well.
But today we want to consider the men who gave the gift, the meaning of this particular gift of frankincense, and then the ministry of the one who got the gift. That's what we want to look at. Now, just make a little note here. Of all of the things in the story that we have a record of, there are certain things we don't have a record of and there are certain things we do. For instance, Matthew left out any explanation about the magi, the wise men. It just says "wise men from the East" showed up. He didn't tell us who they were. We have to go back into history to find that out. And Matthew, interestingly, doesn't tell us a lot about the star. He just said they followed a star and the star showed them where to go. And as much as people would make of that star, he made nothing of that star.
However, what he did show us and want us to know is not only that these magi brought gifts to the young Jesus, but they want us to know the particular gifts that they brought. And he names them: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. So the Holy Spirit, through Matthew, preserves that information, and here's why: not only were they precious, but they were emblematic, I believe. They were prophetic of a role that this child would fulfill. James Montgomery Boice who is a commentator and a scholar, now in heaven, said linguistically, because these gifts appear at the end of the story after the child has been found, they occupy in the text a place of prominence. They occupy a place of prominence. And that's why we slow down to examine one of these gifts every week.
Let's go to verse 9 in our story. "When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, until it came and stood over where the young Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshiped him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." They recognized he was a King. That's what the gold was all about. But now we have frankincense. And essentially here's what we have. I'll spill the beans before we even get into it.
We have a group of priests from afar bringing the substance that priests used in the Jewish temple to someone who would fulfill the role of a priest in the future. Let's consider, then, the men who gave the gift. And we did a little bit of this last week, but there's just so much more and particular to this story. You'll notice again in verse 1 they're called "wise men" in the text. The Greek word, as I said last week, is magoi/magos. We get the word "magi." It's really a word that is untranslatable, and so we are given in English "wise men," because that is a role that they filled in antiquity. But they are called the magi. It's a tribe of people. Here's what's interesting: I mentioned last time that a historian by the name of Herodotus said that they were a priestly caste of Medes; that is, they came from the ancient Medo-Persian Empire.
But get this: the magi were a small group within a large group, the large group being the Medes, and this being the priestly tribe of the Medes. It was very similar to the nation of Israel where you had twelve tribes, but there was one tribe set apart as the priestly tribe; that's the tribe of Levi. They represented the whole of the nation to God as a priestly tribe. Well, it would seem that the Medes had a very similar setup. There were many, many tribes within the Median kingdom, but they selected one tribe to perform rituals and ceremonies and all of the spiritual sacerdotal functions of worship. And the tribe that they picked was this tribe, the Magian tribe. And they maintained an influence not in just one empire, but through several empires throughout history.
They were important, for example, in the Babylonian Empire, they were important in the Medo-Persian Empire, they would be important in the Greek Empire, and in the present empire of Rome. Kings sought them out to get advice from them. So they were a hereditary priesthood, much like the Levites, who influenced kings. They were monotheistic; they worshiped one god. The primary element of their worship was fire. We don't want know exactly why that is, except they must have seen fire as being symbolic of the power of god. So they had an altar, and on the altar was a flame that was burning perpetually, eternally, they called it. And they believed that that flame was lit by god himself.
So they had an altar where fire burned, but they had another altar where they sacrificed animals, similar to the Levitical form of worship in the Old Testament. When they consumed an animal on the altar of sacrifice, they lit the fire off of the altar that was burning with the perpetual flame. Once the sacrifice was consumed, again, much like the Levites and the people of Israel in antiquity, the animal, the sacrifice was then eaten, consumed by both the worshiper and the Magian priests. Not only that, but the magi had a system of clean versus unclean animals, kosher versus unkosher, so to speak, certain insects, certain reptiles that they avoided completely, again, like the Jews of old.
Not only that, but when it came to the dead, they were very fastidious about how they would handle the dead, because they believed one could be defiled by touching a corpse. Now why is that important? It's important because when Daniel comes into Babylon where there are the magi in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, and he becomes the head, the chief over all the magi, according to Daniel 5 verse 11, when he becomes the head of the magi and he brings in this Jewish belief system that he grew up with, and all of the prophecies about the coming King, it was much easier for these magi to receive that kind of a system that was very, very similar to their own, very, very similar. So, we have a priesthood, a hereditary priesthood that has political power involved in the royal courts and ancient government function.
The reason they are called "wise men" is because they were sought out and consulted about the future. Kings would have them in their court. Kings would want to know: "How should I move my armies?" "What country should I invade?" "What did my dream mean?" And they would consult this priesthood for that information. By the way, this is fascinating, no Persian could become king unless he met two conditions: number one, he had to master the spiritual disciplines of the magi; and number two, he had to be approved and crowned by the magi. How's that for power? They were literally kingmakers of the ancient world, and they were consulted throughout many, many kingdoms.
Their influence became so famous that there was a phrase to describe it in the Old Testament: "the law of the Medes and the Persians"; Esther, chapter 1; Daniel, chapter 6. That is the law given by the king after consulting with the magi. That was the law of the Medes and the Persians. So, to sum it up: a priestly tribe, influential during many kingdoms over hundreds and hundreds of years, who came to extreme prominence during the Babylonian era under Nebuchadnezzar, influenced by the prophet Daniel who brought in the Jewish Scriptures and made predictions of the coming Messiah. However, something happened: around the sixth century BC the magi began to morph a little bit. Okay, so it gets a little convoluted.
Let me tell you how they morphed. King Darius who was the king of the Medo-Persian Empire decided to make a national religion, a one empire religion, and he chose the religion that we mentioned last week, Zoroastrianism; Zoroastrianism: the worship of the single god Ahura Mazda. Now, when he made that the decree over all the empire, the magi did something very interesting. They needed to keep their jobs, they wanted to maintain their influence, they're being paid by the government, so they conveniently converted. So now you have a mixed bag. By the New Testament you have this ancient monotheistic religion similar to Israel. And then the Jewish system superimposed over that because of Daniel. And then you have Zoroastrianisms superimposed over that.
So, you had basically a split where some magi would want to follow the ancient religious systems, others would want to follow Zoroastrianism because they're paid for it. But then there were others, and I believe these magi represent this group of people who were seeking the God of Daniel who was one time the chief of their magi. In antiquity they talked about a future King who would be the ruler of Israel, ruler of the world, and they had access to the Jewish Scriptures. And when they came into Jerusalem and in Bethlehem, they were seeking the true God. They were God seekers, because it says when they found him, they "worshiped him." Proskuneó is a very strong word of devotion and worship that is almost typically used of the true God. So, these are the men who gave the gift.
Now, let's look at the gift. It says, "And when they opened their treasures, they presented gifts to him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." Frankincense, what is frankincense? And it doesn't say incense; it says "frankincense." Is that like Frankenstein's brother? What does that mean? What is frankincense? Well, I'm glad you asked. Frankincense was a very particular resin from a very particular tree, a very pure kind of incense highly prized, highly sought after, and very expensive. It was a resin or a gum from a tree in the Arabian Peninsula. The scientific name for the tree is Boswellia thurifera. I know you always wanted to know that, and now you know. This tree was native to Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Oman, and Yemen. It only came to Israel by caravan. It had to be imported from afar.
So here is how it was harvested: an incision was made in the trunk of the Boswellia thurifera deep inside that trunk in the winter months of the year, and out came, oozed a sap, a yellowy, amber, white kind of a sap. They allowed it to dry, harden, crystallize, and then they would grind it into a powder. And when it was burned, it was so fragrant. It gave off this woodsy, kind of balsamy, with a hint of oil fragrance. Highly, highly sought after. That's frankincense. It's important to those of us who read Scripture, because it appears in the Bible seventeen times. Almost always it was associated with one thing, the priesthood of Israel, the priesthood of Israel. It was a substance used for priest. It was a substance used by priests. It was used for them when they were anointed, when they were inaugurated, ordained into the priesthood.
They took oil mixed with frankincense, so this wonderful smelling oil mixture was put on them to anoint them, to mark them for service. But then also it was used by the priests in a very particular kind of an offering called the meal offering. Remember that in your Old Testament studies of Leviticus? I know you just probably read that the other day. Leviticus, chapter 2, the grain offering or the meal offering? I'll refresh your memory. Leviticus 2, it says one of the sons of Aaron "shall take from it his handful of fine flower, oil with the frankincense. And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire", get this, "a sweet aroma to the Lord." I've always loved that. It's as if God in heaven goes, "Ooh, that's good."
He smells it and it's wonderful, not because it really smells good, though it did to people, as much as they did it in obedience and thanksgiving. That's what the offering was about, a thanksgiving offering to the Lord. And God says, "When you do it that way, when you thank me and you're obedient to me, oh, that smells good." Well, this is that offering that Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Philippian church in chapter 4 concerning their financial giving to support his ministry. And Paul said it is "a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God." It is what David referred to in Psalm 141 when he said, "Let my prayer be set before you as incense, and the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice."
So, it is a substance used by Jewish priests in the worship of the God of Israel in the Old Testament. We have a substance used by priests given by Parthian priests to one who would become a priest. Let's consider that third thing now: the one who got the gift, this little Child being given a gift of incense, and Mary and Joseph probably scratching their heads going, "Wha-whaaat!? What's this all about?" Well, I think it's emblematic. It's prophetic. One of the roles that Jesus would play, so to speak, is that he would be a High Priest, right? We know that in the New Testament in the book of Hebrews it's one of the great themes. Eleven times in that book Jesus Christ is called our Great High Priest. In other words, here's what it means: you right now have representative before God the Father in heaven.
You have a High Priest. A priest is somebody who stands and represents people to God. We have a Great High Priest in heaven. It's the theme of the book of Hebrews. One of my favorite Scriptures is Hebrews, chapter 4, that says, "Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has gone into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just like we are, and yet without sin." And the writer of that book goes to great lengths to say that Jesus Christ's priesthood is much better than the Old Testament priesthood of Aaron. It's much better, because (he quotes Psalm 110), "You are a priest forever", "forever," it's not temporary, it is forever, "after the order of Melchizedek."
So we have a substance used by Jewish priest given by Parthian Gentile priests to someone who would become what the Bible calls our Great High Priest. Now, there's something that Jesus did after he died, after he rose, and after he ascended into heaven. It says that as a Great High Priest he ascended into heaven, and then he did something that a lot of us just sort of read over. It says he "sat down." "[He] sat down at the right hand of God." Do you remember that Scripture? He sat down. Why is that important? It's important because priests in the Old Testament never sat down. Of all the articles of furniture that were in the tabernacle in the temple, one was absent, a chair. They were on their feet all the time. The work of the priest of the Old Testament was never done.
They had to sacrifice and repeat those sacrifices every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, on and on and on. It was never done. So here's Jesus, he comes and he acts as a priest offering the sacrifice. And he acts as the Lamb; he was the sacrifice. He offers himself for the sin of the world. He dies, he's raised, he ascends into heaven, and he sits down, which means only one thing, "It's done. It's finished. It's over. What I did on the cross is enough to take care of the sins of the world." And so he sat down. That's why it is significant. Our High Priest has finished the task. By the way, to sit down at the right hand of a monarch was very significant, because the only ones who sat down on the right hand of a monarch were generals and magi, those close advisors to the king, those close priest representatives before the king.
So Jesus sat down signifying, "I'm done as Savior. I finished the work on the cross. It is finished." But to continue his work as intercessor, the same book of Hebrews says that "[Jesus] ever lives to make intercession for [us]." That's the role of a priest. He makes intercession for you. Have you ever had somebody say, "I'm praying for you," and you go, "Oh, thank you. I really appreciate you doing that." Jesus is praying for you. How's that? He's interceding for you. He's talking to the Father about you. He's the one who's giving the help before the throne of holy, perfect God for you and for me. He's our Great High Priest. Now, this is exactly what Job asked for in the Old Testament. If you know your Old Testament, you know there was Job, and we believe that is really, he even predates Abraham.
But Job was feeling so alienated from God, so isolated from God because of his physical suffering. Some of you have been there. You feel cut off. And in the middle of his suffering in Job, chapter 9, he cries out for a mediator, for an arbitrator, for a go-between between him and God. Here's his words: "If only there were a mediator between us," between God and myself, "who could bring us together." Then comes the New Testament, and Jesus shows up, and he is that go-between. He is that mediator, as Paul said, "There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus." Jesus is the middleman, you might say. Now, I know, we hear that word and you go, "I don't-I don't really like a middleman." In our culture we go, "Get rid of the middleman. Go directly to the source."
You can't do that in salvation. You need a middleman. And you need the Man Christ Jesus who stands in the middle between you and God the Father. And, by the way, he is the perfect middleman. Because in reaching God, he can relate, because he is God; in reaching man and touching us, he can relate, because he became a man. Theologians call this the theanthropic nature of Christ: fully God, fully man. Perfect representative to bring us together, the perfect middleman, the perfect priest. When I grew up, I was never fond of ants. I'm still not. You know, those little crawly things. I don't mean aunts and uncles. I like those, but as a little boy I tortured ants. And I have to say, not aunts and uncles, but the little crawly things.
So I remember going out with my dad's magnifying glass, aaoohhh some of you guys are going, "Yeah, I still do that." But I used to take the magnifying glass and just go at the right, where the concentration of the sun's rays came through that lens and then just burned those ants. I don't know, boys do that. Do they not still do these things? No? Okay, so, so wait a minute. I've grown up. I don't do that anymore. You proud of me? I still don't like them. If they show up in my kitchen, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to kill them. I'm going to kill them all. I have a can of... do you have a can of such? So, do you like ants? So, you do it too. So, don't look at me that way. So, so I take Raid and I kill them.
But let's say I invite you over to my house. And you, being different, being a lover of all God's creatures, you come into my kitchen and you see the ants that are sort of trailing around. And I'm reaching for the can of Raid, and you quickly run over to the little ants, you go, "Flee, little ants! Go from the big bad man with the can." Would your yelling at them, warning them, would that help them? It wouldn't. But let's say you could shrink down and become one of them. And you, in ant language, whatever that would be, tell them about me, and you rescue them. Well, then you would really be the ants' savior and you would be the perfect mediator between Skip Heitzig and the ant world. Okay, that little silly illustration illustrates what Jesus did in an incredibly greater way.
Being theanthropic, God who became a man could come into our world and perform the work of the sacrifice, sitting now at the right hand of the Father, interceding, communicating on our behalf. He finished as sacrificer, but the work of supporter is unfinished. There's really a great example of a middleman in the Bible in the New Testament, Paul, Paul the apostle. He was a good middleman. He wrote a little letter called Philemon. Anybody ever read Philemon? It's a short, little, one-chapter book in the New Testament. He writes this letter to Philemon, who was a slave owner, whose slave Onesimus had run away. Story is that he probably stole a bunch of stuff from his owner Philemon and ran away to Rome. While he's in Rome where Paul is, he meets Paul. Paul leads him to Christ.
Now we have a criminal ex-slave, runaway slave who's a brother in Christ. So Paul writes a letter to Philemon. And Paul says, among other things, this: "If this guy owes you anything at all, charge it to my account and I'll pay you." See what he's doing? He's being a middleman. He's bringing the slave owner and the slave together because they are brothers in Christ. And he says, "If he owes anything, I'll pay the bill." He's the middleman. He stood in the gap for a runaway slave. I remember reading a book or hearing a term that I found in this book, I think it was in the title of the book, many, many years ago by Joyce Landorf. The term is "balcony people." Ever heard of the term "balcony people"? Balcony people are those who cheer you on. They're in your balcony.
They're the ones that encourage you and tell you, "You can make it. You can go on." And she uses another term in that book: "basement people." You know what those are? Those are your critics. They always got a burr under their saddle. They're always complaining about something. Those are basement people. But then there's balcony people. Paul was a balcony person. He did that for Onesimus the slave. Jesus Christ is like the ultimate balcony person. He died, he rose, he ascended, if you will, to the balcony of heaven where he talks to the King, the Father about us. He's the perfect priest, perfect advocate. The heart cry of every person is to make contact with God. I believe that. I believe that every person born eventually gets in touch with this need that everybody has this big hole in their soul and they try to fill it some way.
And some try to educate it away, some try to philosophize it away, but there's still that empty hole, "How can I get in touch with God?" Here's the problem: the gap is just too wide. You need a bridge. You need somebody who will build the bridge, and Jesus Christ who came from heaven to this earth is the bridge builder. By the way, you know the word "priest" in Latin, if you grew up Catholic, you will know this. The word "priest" in Latin is the word pontifex, and it literally means bridge builder. Isn't that beautiful, bridge builder? Jesus is the ultimate bridge builder who takes the gap that exists between mankind and God and brings us together.
I'll close with this story, true story: 1936, when technology was at its height and radio waves ruled the world, an historic radio broadcast from England to America was about to be staged. It was King Edward VIII who was going to speak to the good people of America via radio using the station in New York City, WJZ. Everything was set. The king was approaching the microphone. Just moments before the event, one of the workers at the radio station ran across the floor and broke the wire that would transmit the sound from England to America. The producer, the executives didn't know what to do. But a bright, thinking, quick-thinking intern grabbed one of the wires that was broken with one hand, grabbed the other wire that was broken.
And as the king approached the microphone and spoke to the United States, the words were literally being transmitted through the body of that person. Do you know that's the role of Jesus Christ as our priest? Heavens voice is transmitted through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. "He is the image," Paul said, "of the invisible God." He reveals God's intent, God's Word, God's will. No wonder Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." He's our High Priest. He fulfills the role. Let's pray:
Father, what monumental truth. My heart bursts at these things. How humbled and grateful we are at your sovereignty in using a group of priests from the pagan world, and making sure that at the right time Judah would be taken captive. And a young man named Daniel would be inserted into their reign to become the head of the magi, to influence not only them, but future generations, some of which would show up at the birth of Jesus, and say, "We have followed a wonder in the sky, and we know that a King is born, and we're here to worship him." And in presenting gold, they recognized he was King. In giving incense, they recognized he would be a priest somehow, and he is our priest. He is our Great High Priest, the one who offered the sacrifice, the one who was the sacrifice, and the one who is still at your throne right now influencing on our behalf in your presence. Because we know that the Bible says, Father, we have an accuser of the brethren who accuses us before your throne day and night, and that's Satan, how grateful we are that we have an Intercessor, an Advocate. What wonderful truths. How amazed we are at how detailed you are and how much you love us. Lord, I pray if anyone doesn't know Jesus as their Savior, their sacrificer, as well as their supporter, their Great High Priest that that would change and it would change today.
As our heads are bowed, and has you're praying and you're considering, along with myself, what we have just heard, I want you to look into your own soul. Is there a hole still in your soul? Is there, as one philosopher said, "a vacuum that nothing created can fill"? You've tried different things, different people, different experiences, but life is just sort of flat. It's sort of left you thirstier, and hungrier, unfulfilled. God intended it that way. The Bible says God made all of his creation subject to that kind of emptiness, so that we might hope after him. So God put that desire, that emptiness in your heart to draw you to his Son Jesus Christ who will be for you Savior, satisfier, and supplier. If you don't know him personally, or if you've ran away from him and you need to come back to him, admit that and receive it. And I want you to raise your hand in the air if you're ready to do that. Just raise it up so I can see it. Our heads are bowed, but I'd like to pray for you. I need to know who I'm praying for.
So you raise your hand up right now, and you're saying, "Skip, here's my hand right over here. Pray for me. I'm going to give my life to Jesus, or I'm going to come back to Christ, and receive his help." Keep it up for just a moment. God bless you right in the middle and toward the back; and again toward the back on my right-hand side. God bless you guys, thank you. Anyone else? You slip that hand up. God bless you right over here to my left, and again right up front to my left, and in the family room. Raise it up and just keep it up for a moment just so I can acknowledge you. Somebody raised her hand last night, she came afterwards, she said, "You didn't see my hand. I'm short." So, just raise it up high.
Father, we pray for all of those who raised the hand and are about to make the most incredible decision of their lives, strengthen them as they do it. Help them. And may this Christmas season be for them the best so far, as they come into new relationship of salvation, that it would be real, that Jesus would be real to them. It's in his name we pray, amen.
Let's all stand. We're going to close with a song, and I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hand to get up from where you're standing, and find the nearest aisle, and stand right up here in the front publicly. Jesus called people publicly. And I'm not doing this to embarrass you. We want to celebrate with you and we want to give each of you a Bible.
So, if you raised your hand, no matter if you're in the family room or in the auditorium, if you're in overflow there's a pastor there who will take care of you, but if you're in this auditorium, please, as we sing just come right up to the front where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ. It'll just take a moment. Please come. If you are in the family room, even if you're with your family, there's a door up front to your right, and it leads to another door right in here. We'll wait for you as well. If you're in the back or the balcony, come down the steps. We'll wait just a few more minutes and then we'll close off.
Have you seen altar calls like this before, but you've never responded? You've just sort of said, "No. That's not for me. No. I'll wait." You've been invited to Christ before and yet you've said no to him. Let me ask you this: Has your saying no filled up in your soul that empty spot? Has that been working for you really well, saying no to Jesus Christ? You feel really fulfilled? I don't think so. This is an opportunity for you to give your life to Christ. Do it. He invites you. He gives you the gift of salvation, if you'll take it. We'll wait just another moment. If God is speaking to you, we invite you down here right now. Give your life to Christ. Let go. Surrender to him. Watch the Lord work on your behalf.
All right. Welcome. Those of you who have walked forward, I'm glad you did. I'm really glad to see you up here. This, to me, this is fun. It's fun to see people just say, "I get it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it now." So I'm going to lead you in a prayer, and I'm going to ask you to say these words out loud, to pray after me. I'll break it up, and you just say this from your heart to the Lord. Okay, let's pray. Say:
Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. I admit it and I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe he died on the cross and I believe he rose from the dead. And I turn from my sin and I turn to you as my Savior. Help me to live for you as my Lord, in Jesus' name, amen.