Skip Heitzig - Believing the Miracle-Making Messiah
- Buy this sermon
Would you please turn in your Bibles to the book of Matthew. The Gospel of Matthew. It's in your New Testament. It's the first book in the New Testament. Matthew, chapter 11. We're going to be reading from that in a moment. But let's begin by praying. Can we do that?
Father, we come before you and we present our bodies as living sacrifices. That's what Paul told us to do. Holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service. We pray, Father, that as we are focused on things of the Spirit, now, focused on your Word, we give you our full attention. We pray, Lord, that you would bolster, strengthen, confirm our faith in you. Make us stronger going out this morning from this place than we were even coming in. Lord, I pray that through the fellowship together, the songs that we have sung and the reading of your word, that we would be equipped for whatever comes this week. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Back in World War II David Greenglass was a traitor to the United States of America. He sold secrets to the Russians. Atomic secrets. And having done that, he fled down to Mexico. Well while he was down there his conspirators figured out a way that he could meet with the Russian ambassador of Mexico City.
However, his identity was absolutely vital. Identifying that man to those people was paramount. So Greenglass was given six signs in advance. Six pre-arranged signs known to him and to those that he would meet. So number one, once he was in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the ambassador signing his name as I. Jackson. Number two, after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City. Number three, he was to stand before the statue of Columbus. Number four, with his middle finger placed in the guide book. In addition, number five, when he was approached he was to say that it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma. Number six, the secretary to the ambassador would then give him a passport so that he could leave the country.
Those six identifying signs made it impossible not to identify the right person. We have been looking at a series of signs given from the Old Testament, predictions, prophecies, prearranged predictions as to the identity of Jesus Christ, the identity of the Messiah. Not six, but over 300. We're not looking at all 300, of course, but some of the highlights. And one thing is obvious, God wanted to make sure it was impossible not to identify. Or was impossible not to mistakenly identify the Messiah. He wanted us to make sure, as he wanted the Jewish examination to make sure, who he was.
So prediction after prediction was given. For example, Isaiah said that he would be born of a virgin. Micah said he will be born in Bethlehem and he was. Hosea the prophet said he will be called out of Egypt and he was. The prophet said he would arise out of Galilee and he did. Isaiah called him a servant and we looked at that. And then Paul the Apostle, we noticed last week, said he came at just the right time. In the fullness of the time. When you put all those puzzle pieces together you have an unmistakably accurate composite picture of who that Messiah was to be.
Well, one of the descriptions of what he would do is that he would perform miracles. That it would be one of the authenticating, confirming signs that this one was the one because he would perform miracles. So Isaiah, 29 and Isaiah, chapter 35 say "the eyes of the blind shall see, the ears of the death will be unstopped. And then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongue of the dumb shall sing." Those are predictions made by the prophet Isaiah. But there were others who also believe that when the Messiah comes, you'll be able to spot him because of his miracles.
You've heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They're scrolls that were found in desert caves of Qumran down by the Dead Sea. They were placed in those caves, we believe, before the time of Christ. And one particular document found in cave number four of the Dead Sea scroll archaeological dig found a statement in a scroll that reads this, "the heavens and the earth will obey the Messiah. He will heal the sick, resurrect, the dead, and to the poor he will announce glad tidings."
And so when Jesus came on the scene, almost immediately miracles happened. His first miracle was turning the water into wine in Cana. But then he healed people who were sick, he raised people who were dead, he controlled forces of nature like calming the storm. And it was so notorious, his miracles, that even his enemies, people who disagreed with him were forced to say, you know, something's up. Did in the Jewish Talmud Jesus is called a sorcerer? Why a sorcerer? Because they knew of all of the signs that accompanied him wherever he went.
Well, there are 35 recorded miracles that Jesus performed in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 35. But those weren't the only ones. Because John writes at the end of his book "and many other miraculous signs Jesus did in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that, believing, have life in his name."
One of those who believed in Him was a guy by the name of John the Baptist. J the B for short. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, believed in Him. But in chapter 11 of Matthew, John is in prison. And he's not getting out. He's going to die in jail. And while he's there, he struggles, he doubts, his faith is rocky. So much so that he needs to ask a question. Find out what's going on with Jesus. We're going to read it.
But what I want to do is take the opportunity in the first six verses of Matthew, chapter 11 to give you three stages of faith in respect to the person and work of Jesus Christ. And they're simple. Devout believers wrestle with their faith. You'll see it in John. Devout believers wrestle with their faith. And then the second stage, developing believers reason through their faith. And finally, determined believers remain in their faith. We'll see all of that in these verses.
Verse one begins "it came to pass when Jesus finished commanding his 12 disciples that he departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John", this is John the Baptist, "had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, are you the coming one? Or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said to them, go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed it is he who is not offended because of me. As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, what did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what did you go out to see a prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written. Behold, I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way before you."
John the Baptist is the forerunner of Jesus. You've heard the term forerunner? He's the guy that came before him. And when Jesus came, pointed to him and said, that's the guy. That's the Messiah. So John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, was someone who, himself, was predicted in the Old Testament. This is Matthew's point in verse 10. He's quoting Malachi the prophet, chapter three. That says, "behold, I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way before you."
Here is John, predicted in the Old Testament, along with Jesus, as the one who would point to him. And John do this to be true because when he's baptizing in the Jordan River, and they all come out and the religious leaders said, hey, who are you? Are you the Messiah? Are you the Christ? He goes, no, I'm not. And so they say, well, who are you? And he quotes Isaiah 40, "I am the voice" crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord." That's a quote right out of the Old Testament. So John is saying, I am not the message, I'm just the messenger. He is the Word, I'm getting people's attention. I'm just a lowly road worker pointing the way that you need to follow him.
John the Baptist, J the B, was an uncommon man with a common misunderstanding. A common misunderstanding as to who the Messiah would be. And I'll explain that. Jesus said something very, we didn't even get to it, but in verse 11, you can even look down, Jesus says of John the Baptist, "he was the greatest man ever born of a woman." But he was an unusual guy. I mean, if you know the Bible, you know this guy was a little bit different, right? He hung out in the desert regions, he ate bugs, and he wore animal fur, so PETA would not like this guy at all. And he was very different in his approach to preaching. He just called it like he saw it. He told people when he saw them, repent. Repent because the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And he would just call it like it was. And that's one of the reasons he gets into trouble.
Now let me just give you a thumbnail sketch of who he was. His dad was Zacharias. His mom was Elizabeth. Both of them were old. Zacharias, his dad, was a priest in the temple and his mom, Elizabeth, they were past having children. And as older people, they'd never had a child, she was infertile, until one day, while Zacharias is in the temple, doing his deal, burning incense, the angel Gabriel shows up and says, John, you and your wife are going to have a baby. You're going to have a little boy.
Well, Zacharias, even though he saw the angel Gabriel, didn't believe Him. And asked for a sign. He goes, OK, I'll give you a sign. You won't be able to talk for nine months. How's that? I'll say, it was sort of a curse on him, but I think maybe even more so for his wife who couldn't have a conversation with him, meaningful conversation for nine months. So during this time as Elizabeth starts growing and that baby start showing itself, when she's about six months pregnant her cousin Mary up in Nazareth miraculously gets pregnant by the Holy Spirit. You definitely know that story. And she goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth down in Jerusalem.
Well, as soon as Mary walks through the door and says, hey, something happens. And Elizabeth says to Mary, "as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ear, the baby leaped for joy inside my womb." So J the B is already excited to meet Jesus because in the womb, Elizabeth says, he's jumping up and down. Then came the day he was born. Now remember, Zacharias cannot talk. So when they say, what's his name going to be? He has to take a writing tablet and write on it his name will be called John. And then when he can finally speak he says to his newborn boy, "and you, my son, will be called the prophet of the most high because you will prepare the way for the Lord." It's exactly what he grew up to be. He grew up as the forerunner pointing the way, preparing the way, for the Lord.
Something else, John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins. We know this to be true because their moms were cousins. Mary and Elizabeth were first cousins, making Jesus and John second cousins. Which means they knew each other. They probably had gone to a family reunions. Certainly when it was the feast time, the festival time, and they went up to Jerusalem, they hung out together. And I've always thought that this added authenticity to the testimony of J the B. Because how many of you would say, my cousin is God? How many of you would say, my cousin is the one who takes away the sins of the world? You'd say, my cousin adds a lot of sins to this world. But John was absolutely convinced that his cousin Jesus was the Messiah predicted by the prophets.
But something happened to John. He gets arrested. And he gets put in prison. Why is he arrested? Because, I said, he calls it like it is. So when Harod Antipas, the ruler, dumped his wife and married his brother Philip's wife, her name was Herodias, and brought her home, he let it loose. He said basically, you're a vile, wicked sinner against God. Well that didn't go over very well with Herod.
So Herod has him put in prison where he stays until his death. And while he is in prison, there he starts to doubt. He hears about Jesus. He hears what he's doing and saying, but he thinks well, I'm writing in jail while the Messiah that I'm convinced is the Messiah and pointed the way to is out there doing his thing. So John's doubt is based upon an unfulfilled expectation. Remember, I said John was an uncommon man with a common misunderstanding? The common misunderstanding was simply this, when the Messiah comes he's going to first immediately set up his kingdom. Because it says so in the Old Testament. Didn't say he'll do it first, but he says he will set up a kingdom.
Now he knew the prophets. He knew what Daniel, chapter two said and Daniel, chapter seven said that the Son of Man will establish an everlasting kingdom. So he's in jail going, where is the kingdom? He starts to doubt. And he's probably thinking thoughts like, well, didn't Jesus announce up in Nazareth, I've come to set the captives free? Didn't Jesus say in that speech in the synagogue in Nazareth, I've come to set at liberty those who are bound? So John's thinking I'm bound but there ain't no liberty. And what's up with that? If he came to set free the captives, why am I still here? John doubts.
I remember my first struggles with the Christian faith after I became a believer. I remember struggling. And I struggled with it because I had been saved that summer and then I went to college. And I had wonderful professors who made it their aim to undermine my Christian faith. One of them told me those words exactly. I will undermine everything you believe. I thought, well I thought you were paid to teach me zoology, I didn't know that was your stated goal. But it was. And there were many others after him. My anatomy professor, my physics professor, et cetera, et cetera.
And I remember getting really down and doubting and wondering if this was even true. And I wrestled and I struggled. But my doubts became my stepping stones, eventually, to an unshakable faith. Something else, and I'll talk a little more about that in a moment, but it is not unusual for even spiritual leaders like John the Baptist to have times of uncertainty. Moses second guessed his calling. Jeremiah the Prophet wanted to quit and never say another word for God. Elijah the Prophet wanted to die.
So as I go through the Bible, I find these great giants of the faith from time to time struggling. In fact, maybe this will encourage you. If you are to chase down the word doubt in the New Testament you'll discover that in every single occasion except for one instance it refers to believers. Not unbelievers. Believers. For instance, Jesus said to his disciples, "oh ye of little faith." On another occasion he said, "how long will you doubt?" And then after the Resurrection, it's a very interesting passage, it says "when they saw Him, they worshiped but some of them doubted."
It's wild, right? He's up from the dead and they are worshipping and some are going, I don't know. They struggled with it. So it's almost as if you have to believe before you can doubt. You have to invest, you have to buy in before you can even challenge what you believe in. So it's not uncommon. And here's how it works. You find a believer who has faithfully served the Lord to year after year after year and then suddenly something happens. The loss of a child. The loss of freedom because of a debilitating disease. And that person at some point is going to stop and look up and go, why would you allow this to happen? Where were you, where are you when I'm really hurting?
John the Baptist for 18 months has been preaching the gospel, pointing to Jesus, thousands of people are around him listening to it, being changed by it. Now, suddenly, he is in a pit in the middle of the desert of palace known as Machaerus. And he is in the lower part of the pit total of about a year's time before he finally dies, is killed there. And so he doubts. He wonders. And I bet, even right now, I'm speaking to some people who have had or are having doubts. You're at church, you've been drug to church, you've been convinced by a loved one that you should come to church so you pacify them, perhaps. You're here, you're listening, but you wonder, all that Christians say about Jesus, could it really be true? I have my doubts.
Let me encourage you to do with your doubts what John the Baptist did with his. You know what he did? He went to Jesus. Now he couldn't get out of prison so he sends emissaries in proxy to ask him the question, are you the one? Are you really the guy? Or should we be looking for somebody else? But I love the fact that with his doubt about Jesus he goes and talks to Jesus. I just want to know, who are you? Are you really that one? And let me just encourage you, if you are doubting, there's a lot of study you can do. There's a lot of books you can read. But first, why not take it to Jesus?
And let me give you a challenge, it's what my friend does even to atheists. He says, I love talking to atheists and I don't get into all the philosophical arguments at first. I just say, let me give you a challenge. Are you willing to accept my 21 day challenge? He says for 21 days, it'll take you 10 minutes a day, I want you to read one chapter of the Gospel of John every day. Read one chapter and as you go through, ask one simple question, who is Jesus Christ? Or at least, who does he claim he is? Or in the very least, who does John in writing the book, John the author, claim Jesus to be. Just start there and see what will happen with that first.
So devout believers wrestle with their faith. There's something else about faith and that is developing believers will reason through their faith. In verse four, Jesus has an answer to give John and he gives it to the disciples who come to ask him the question. After asking it he says to them, "go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Notice the answer is not a simple yes or no answer. Are you the one? That's the question. Jesus didn't go, yep, I'm the guy. He answers it by appealing to two things. Number one, personal experience. Go tell him what you see. Go tell him what you hear. And second, biblical prophecy. Personal discovery and biblical prophecy. And he gives a list of things that are mentioned in the Old Testament prophets.
Now those two lines of evidence, I believe, are vital for your faith. There is the subjective element, which is what you experience, there is the objective element which is outside of your realm of experience. Those are the evidences that corroborate what you have experienced. So the first one is personal discovery. Or, as I said, human experience. Go tell John what you hear and what you see. Listen, your personal testimony is one of the most powerful tools you have in your spiritual arsenal. The people ask you questions, you just start, you know, before we get into those questions, let me just tell you what happened to me. This is what I used to be like, this is what happened the day I met Christ, and this is how my life was different afterwards. You have that story. Tell that story. Now you're going to need more after that, but begin with that. Tell people what Jesus did for you.
I remember the first time I heard a personal testimony, I'll never forget it. It was David McCacharen. You don't know who he is, but he was in high school. He was a rabble rouser, man, he was a party animal. And suddenly he comes to school with a Bible. And I see it and I go, what up? He goes, well let me tell you what happened to me. And he told me his story. And first of all, I thought he was insane. Told me about how he met Jesus, I said, whatever. At the same time it made an impact on me. It was his, it's what he heard and what he saw. It was subjective. But notice what else, Jesus now appeals to biblical prophecy. Verse five, he gives the list. "The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, deaf hear, dead are raised up." How's that for a resume? "And the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Now why does Jesus tell those things? Because he knew it would make an impact with John. He knew that John knew his Bible. He knew that John loved the prophet Isaiah especially because he quoted from him more than any other prophet he knew that John knew these prophecies. Like Isaiah 35 which predicted "the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be unstopped, the lame will walk." And Isaiah, chapter 61, there is a reference to that. Isaiah 61 is something Jesus quoted in the synagogue in Nazareth when he said "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor."
So go back to John and tell him I'm the man with the message and my message is proven by my miracles. I'm the man with the message and the miracles to prove it. Go tell John that. When it comes to miracles, I have discovered, my belief is that people do two things with them. Make two mistakes concerning miracles. Number one they naturalize them. What I mean by naturalize as they make the term miracle a loose term, an empty term, a common term. Well every baby born is a miracle. Well, no it's not 353,000 of them will be born today. And 353,000 more of them will be born tomorrow and it happens every single day. So it's not uncommon. That's common.
Well every sunset is a miracle. Well, sure, you and I can't do that but it happens every day. Miracle, by definition, is an extraordinary, uncommon event. Well, it's a miracle I got a parking space at the Apple Store. That actually may be a miracle, because I've never gotten one. But you get my drift, all that does is cheapen the term. It sort of degrades the definition. And so people will naturalize them.
Another mistake people make is they trivialize them. They explain them away. Somebody says, well, it says right here, Jesus performed a miracle. And they smile politely with that little erudite smile like, I know better. As if to say, well, that's simply a primitive interpretation of a very normal occurrence. These were primitive people. This is a long time, they're uneducated. And so they had to figure out a way to explain something that happened around them and so they said it was a miracle.
But I've always loved what the once unbeliever who became a very strong believer CS Lewis said about miracles. In fact, he wrote a book on it called "Miracles." And in that book he had something very profound to say. He has a lot of profound things, but here's something very short, very simple, but very profound. "If God, then miracles." "If God, then miracles." If there is a God who can act, then acts of God can exist. If a supernatural being exists, then supernatural acts can happen. If Genesis 1:1 is possible, then everything else is also possible.
I've always thought that. If you can believe the first verse of the Bible, the rest is a cakewalk. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." That's a good trick. If he can pull that off, everything else is pretty easy. If the big miracle, then smaller miracles can happen. "If God, then miracles." And if you do not believe miracles are possible, if you believe they never really happened, and if you believe that life simply spontaneously sprung from non-life, like all evolutionists and naturalists do, then you already believe in miracles. If you believe that life spontaneously sprung from non-life, you already believe in miracles.
And actually, when you think about it, there's no problem to turn water into wine if you can be the one to make water out of nothing. It's not a big deal to multiply loaves of bread when you can make grain out of nothing. And by the way, God is never a prisoner to his own laws. He establishes natural law but that doesn't mean God can't come along and go, yeah, I'm going to do something different right now. I'm going to, in fact, take this law and supersede it with another law.
And before you say, well, that can't happen. It happens all the time. In fact, we do it all the time example, gravity. Things are earth-bound, anything with weight falls to the center of mass. Gravity. Did you know the space shuttle, remember that thing? It closed off, I think, in 2011. From the 80s to a few years ago that thing flew. Amazing that it did. Space shuttle weighed 4.5 million pounds. I don't know, law of gravity says that thing ain't going nowhere. But if you apply a couple of other laws that will supersede the earth-bound law of gravity like aerodynamics and thrust, seven million pounds of thrust we're in those engines to take it past our atmosphere and into space. Well, if we can do it and "if God, then miracles." God can do something anytime he wants.
So I'm just saying at least think this through and let your faith be reasonable faith, rather than ransacked faith. It doesn't have to be ransacked. It can be rigorous and reasonable. Which leads me to a third, and we'll close with this, determined believers remain in their faith. Look at the sixth verse, the last statement, Jesus has for John the Baptist. It's like a p.s. Tell him what you hear and see, tell him what you saw in terms of miracles of this, this, and that. But then verse six, and blessed is he who is not offended because of me.
The word offended, skandalizo, means to stumble or bait a trap, to entrap somebody. It's a gentle rebuke to John the Baptist. He's saying J the B, don't let this stumble you, dude. Don't get hung up on this. Don't doubt because what I have just told these guys who are going to give you this message is enough evidence of who I am even if you don't understand a lot of stuff. There's a lot you don't understand, John. I know you're suffering in prison but I have given them enough evidence, subjectively and objectively, that could keep you tethered to believing in me.
So Jesus is saying, John, don't be offended if God doesn't do everything you want him to do. John, don't be offended if miracles happen around you but not to you. John, don't be offended if people are set free while you stay in jail. John, don't be offended if dead people get raised up but you stay there to die. And what I'm saying to you is this, there's a lot of stuff I don't know, we don't know, but there's a lot of stuff we do know. And I will never give up what I know for what I don't know. I will go always to the place of the evidence and lay my head on that.
And so let me just give you sort of a parting exhortation in saying, let God be God and you be you. Even though there's things in your life you can't figure out, right, I have enough evidence to believe that God is big enough to handle it. So let God be the one seated on the throne and you and I be the ones who bow before it. Period. He's the one, he's in charge. And if you are struggling with matters of faith, as they call it, wrestle with it, reason through it, and remain in it.
I had a friend named Dennis. I remember meeting him. I met him because he was one of the emergency room doctors at the hospital that I worked at. Dennis was a very confident unbeliever. He told me a story. He was raised in a Christian home. He grew up believing in God, believing in Jesus. But as he grew up and came of age, he had his doubts and his doubts grew to not only doubts, but unbelief. By the time he got to high school and college he disregarded the Christian faith altogether and became a scientist. He was a biology professor in a college. And then later got an advanced degree, became a medical doctor.
So he was pretty confident. And we had great conversations together. And over time I watched through these conversations something happened with Dennis, he began to doubt his doubts. Which I always love seeing. Because he was so confident in his unbelief. And so we had this conversation, he started doubting what he didn't believe in. He started doubting his doubts. And I was there, I remember when he gave his life to Christ.
And so I saw a man who grew up with a belief system. He went from faith to doubt. And from doubt to unbelief. And from unbelief back to doubt. And from doubt to real, vibrant faith. And I discovered that Dennis is not alone, but some of the best believers in history were those who struggled with their faith, were struggling believers before they became strong ones. Men like CS Lewis, people like Josh McDowell, Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, Lee Strobel, Antony Flew, and others. In fact, Charles Spurgeon even said, "I suppose no man is a firm believer who has not once been a doubter."
So all of the prophecies we've been studying, yep, they're against all odds but they're not against our God. Jesus said, "with God, all things are possible." "If God, then miracles." "With God, all things are possible." So I'm hoping that through this series you are building and bolstering your faith. And if you are struggling with it, you're wrestling with it, that you reason through it and come to a place of rest and remaining in it. Let's pray:
Father, we want to close this time together doing what was said to do. You're seated on the throne, we bow before it. You're God, we're not. You run the universe, we don't. And though miracles may happen around us but not to us though everybody else may have wonderful things happening while we feel like we're imprisoned by some experience or some event or some disease or some set of occurrences, it doesn't diminish you in any capacity. You're God. And you're on the throne. And you're in control. And we have enough evidence to trust. And I simply want to pray for those who haven't fully trusted yet. They've come, they've listened, they've done that on many occasions. And certainly, there is enough evidence for them to just wholly trust you. But up to this point, they haven't done that. They haven't made it personal. And some are struggling. And I pray they would come to rest their head, their heart on that pillow of truth of who you are and who you are to them as they surrender their life to you.
Heads bowed, eyes closed, I'm going to just give you a simple invitation. Very simple. If you are here and you are at a place where you are willing to surrender your life to Christ, I'd like to know who you are because I'd like to pray for you. I'd like to acknowledge you. Celebrate a decision that you're making at this very moment. And that is to trust Jesus.
If you're willing to do that, if you're willing to give your life to Christ, right here, right now, I'm going to acknowledge you when you raise your hand. Would you just raise it up high in the air and say, Skip, pray for me. I'm giving my life to Jesus today. Yes sir. Hand went right up, I love it. Anybody else? Anybody else? Raise that hand up saying over here, pray for me, god bless you. And you and you. I see your hand, right over here in the middle. Thank you. Anybody else? Raise it up. Up in the balcony. Anybody in the family room that I didn't see? Right over here, yes ma'am, in the front.
Lord, I just want to say thanks for that. I love seeing people just make an acknowledgement of need, an acknowledgement that life hasn't been everything I thought it would be and I'm willing now to stop and go a different direction. An experience you call in your Word repentance. Change your direction, go in a different direction. No, I just pray for everyone who has raised that hand. I pray you'd strengthen them, help them in Jesus' name. Amen.
Let's all stand. We're going to close simply like we do often. If you raised your hand I'm going to ask you to get up from where you're seated, if you're in the back, in the middle, in the front just say excuse me to the person next to you. We do this all the time. And just say excuse me and find the nearest aisle and come stand right up here where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior. And he's going to change your life as you let him in. So if you raised your hand you get up and come as we sing. We're going to wait for you. Let us see it right here, I'm going to lead you in that prayer.
Sometimes people ask, well, why do you call people forward? We do it for a couple of reasons. Number one, Jesus seemed to identify people and call them publicly, like Matthew the tax collector. In public he said, Matthew, follow me. And Matthew left everything and followed him with people around looking at him. Because it's something about making a public declaration that you believe in Jesus. And Jesus said, if you confess me before men, I'll confess you before my Father in heaven. If you deny me before men, I'll deny you before my Father in heaven. And there's just something that is settled in your own heart when you make that once for all public decision we're all your witnesses of what is happening, this holy transaction.
So, again, if you raised your hand or I didn't see it or you didn't raise your hand but you know you need to be down here to pray to receive Christ as we sing this through one more time, we'll wait for you. There's a place at the cross for you. You come. Those of you who have come forward, let's gather right over here. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray this prayer out loud after me. Say these words from the depth of your heart. God knows who you are, loves you as you are, is accepting you as you are. But this is your asking Jesus to come in and be Lord. This isn't religion, this is a relationship with God. OK? Let's pray. Say:
Lord, I give you my life. I know that I am a sinner. And I am sorry. I believe in Jesus. That he died on the cross. That he shed his blood for me. And that he rose again from the grave. I turn from my sin. I repent of my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. Help me to follow him as my Lord. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.