Skip Heitzig - Cross Examination
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Would you please turn in your Bibles to the book of Psalms? Psalm 22, or as they used to say in olden times, Psalm the 22nd, Psalm 22. A defense attorney was cross-examining a police officer in a felony trial. And I am told that what I'm about to read you is the actual transcript from that portion of the trial. It's in a question and answer format. So the defense attorney in the cross-examination begins.
Question, officer, did you see my client fleeing the scene? Answer, no sir, but I subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender running several blocks away. Question, officer, who provided this description? Answer, the officer who responded to the scene. Question, a fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers? Answer, yes, sir, with my life. Question, with your life? Well, let me ask you this then, officer. Do you have a locker room in the police station, a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties? Answer, yes, sir, we do. And do you have a locker in that room? Answer, yes, sir, I do. Question, and do you have a lock on that locker? Answer, yes, sir.
Question, now why is it, officer, if you trust your fellow officers with your life that you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you share with the same officers? Answer, well, you see, sir. We shared the building with a court complex. And sometimes the lawyers have been known to walk through that room. Well, the courtroom burst into laughter. And the judge had to put the gavel down and call for a recess before they reconvened.
Today, we're going to make a cross-examination, not putting somebody on trial and peppering them with questions, not interrogating a witness. We are going to examine the cross. We're going to examine the cross through the lens of a messianic Psalm, prophetic scripture. In this series, Against All Odds, we have looked at the prophecies made in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New. And as we move closer to Easter, we are now looking at the cross of Jesus Christ. The very fact that this Psalm opens and closes with two statements that Jesus made while hanging on the cross immediately piques our interest. You will notice how it begins. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
The Psalm also ends with, at least in the original Hebrew, with the words, it is finished. Now you know, there are some Old Testament texts that when you read them, they're difficult to understand until you put Christ in them. And when you put Jesus in that Old Testament text, it comes to life. It all makes sense. Psalm 22 is one of those texts. This Psalm is quoted seven times in the New Testament. All of those times, they refer to Christ. Why is that important? Because it shows us that the New Testament authors interpreted Psalm 22 as being prophetic, as being messianic.
Even John in John chapter 18, as Jesus was hanging on the cross and the Roman soldiers were casting lots for that last piece of clothing of Jesus', John said, this was done that the scripture might be fulfilled. And he quotes the 22nd Psalm. The problem we have is this. It says it's a Psalm of David. At the very top, you'll notice the superscription above the Psalm designates it as a Psalm of David. So he wrote it. The problem is we can't find in the historical books that tell us about King David any instance in his life that this Psalm would fit into. There may have been. And certainly there is great upheaval. Poetic description is a prayer to his God in anguish. We just can't find something this desperate.
And as we work our way through the Psalm, we discover these are expressions that describe an execution. A righteous man is being killed in this Psalm. In fact, many over the years have noticed, many scholars have noticed that Psalm 22 is as accurate or more accurate a description of the crucifixion of Christ than even the accounts found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It's as if someone was watching this firsthand and writing about it. But more amazing than that is that David wrote this 1,000 years before Jesus was crucified. And he wrote this 600 years before crucifixion had ever been invented at all.
So David is writing with accuracy and detail about a method of capital punishment that he knew nothing about or never saw before. It is truly amazing. The question is, how could he do that? The answer, of course, for Bible believers is simple, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we would say. Acts chapter 2 says, David, being a prophet, wrote these things. So David was a prophet. And prophetically, he looks forward in time to the cross.
Now you'll notice that this is a lengthy Psalm. We're not going to have the time to go through it all. We're just going to kind of skim certain parts because of our time. But one thing to notice is that it's divided into two parts. First part is verses one through 21, second part, verse 22 through 31. And they're very different in tone. The first part is all a prayer. The second part is all a praise. The first part focuses on agony. The second part focuses on accomplishment. In the first part, the one speaking feels deserted by God. In the second part, the speaker is delivered by God. We've outlined it. You can find it in your worship folder. I've outlined it. The first part is the torture of the cross. And the second is the triumph of the cross.
Let's begin at the beginning, with the torture. Psalm 22, verse one, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me and from the words of my groaning? Oh, my God, I cry in the daytime. But you do not hear, and in the night season, and I'm not silent. But you are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in you. They trusted. And you delivered them. They cried to you and were delivered. They trusted in you and were not ashamed."
Now we recognize that first verse, don't we? We recognize that statement as being the fourth statement that Jesus made on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Here's what's noteworthy. All of Jesus' words, all of His statements on the way to His execution and while hanging on the cross, up to a point, all of them were focused on other people. It's noteworthy because somebody who is carrying a cross or being stapled to a cross with that level of pain and suffering tends to be focused inwardly on one's self, on one's suffering. People I've noticed who suffer, they can't think of anything else but their pain.
But Jesus, interestingly, was, in His pain, focused on others. So He's on the way to the cross. And there are women in the street who are weeping for Him. And Jesus says, women, don't weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when they will say, blessed are the wombs that were barren. And they'll cry to the rocks, fall on us. He was foreseeing the fall of Jerusalem and the anguish that would fill that city. But He's focused on others. When Jesus laid on the cross, and they put those spikes through His wrists and His feet, and they put him up on that cross, the first words out of his mouth, first words, were Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing, focused on others around Him.
Then there was a thief and insurrectionist that was crucified next to Him, one on either side, actually. And one of them said, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus turned to him and said, today, you will be with me in paradise, focused on others. Then after a while, He looked down and noticed His mother standing at the foot of the cross and thinking of her and her future said, woman, behold your son. To John, His apostle, son, behold your mother. In other words, take care of my mother. All of the words of Jesus were focused not on Himself, but on others. But then we know the story, a darkness fell upon the land, upon that area of crucifixion. Other historians, not biblical ones, say it was a darkness that you could feel, whatever that meant.
It's interesting. If you look in verse two, He says, "Oh, my God, I cry in the daytime but you do not hear and in the night season. And I am not silent." Jesus was crucified at 9 o'clock in the morning. It was the middle of the day until 3 o'clock when he died. But a darkness fell on the land. There was a night season that occurred even in the middle of the day. Jesus was silent during that period of time. He may have silently recited Psalm 22. We don't know. But then He broke the silence with His fourth cry on the cross. And it's this one. "Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani." That was the Aramaic of "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Anybody who knew the scriptures would have said, I know that's a Psalm. It's Psalm 22. Also noteworthy in that is it was the first and only time recorded where Jesus referred to His Father not as my Father but as God. It's as if there is a distance now between the relationship that once was so close and so intimate. Instead of Father or my Father, it's my God, the generic form, my God. It's a cry of broken fellowship. He is feeling a separation, will you notice in verse one? "Why are you so far from helping me and from the words of my groaning?" As he bore the burden of our sin, he felt separated. Because sin always separates. He felt the separation from His Father.
When He cried this, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me," this was not a lapse of faith. This was not a broken confidence. This was simply a cry of disorientation. He had never experienced this feeling of being separated from the Father. What was He used to? He was used to intimacy. He was used to that protective presence of His father, until now. Jesus even spoke of that. When He raised Lazarus from the dead, we're told that Jesus came up to the tomb of Lazarus. And He prayed a prayer. He goes, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. For I know that you always hear me." Then He said to his disciples in John chapter 16, "The hour is coming, yes, and now has come that you will be scattered each to his own and will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because my Father is with me."
All of that was true until now. Now as the sin-bearer, He is feeling the effects of sin, and that is separation in fellowship. As Isaiah the prophet put it, "The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all." All of the sin of all of humanity, every single person's filth from the past when humanity began to the very end, was placed upon Jesus. And He feels separated from His Father. And He cries out. Looking at the cross and hearing these words, we would ask, why is this necessary. All of this anguish, all of this pain, this guttural, plaintiff cry of being abandoned, why is that needed? And the text gives us the answer, verse three. "But you are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel."
That's the reason. That's the reason for the cross. God is holy. God is perfect. No one else is like that. He is so unique, so perfect. And I guess the best way to describe it is God's perfection can't just mingle with our imperfection. I mean, it's sort of nice to think that God is just going to pull up a chair and hang out with whoever. And yeah, you're OK. You're OK. Come on in. But he can't do that. He is holy. He is absolutely perfect.
Let's suppose for a moment that you can't sing very well. I mean, when you open your mouth, bad things happen. You can't carry a tune in a bucket. Now I'm not indicting you. I'm just, for the sake of an analogy, saying that. But let's just say you can't sing. And when you sing, it's like, ugh. Sing louder. Cover that up. You can't decide that you're going to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I don't know why you'd want to do that. How about the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir or any choral group? You can't. They're not going to just say, come on in, man. Let's sing a tune together. They're not going to let that happen, because they're at a level that requires a transformation in you for that to ever happen.
So this is why Jesus, the perfect one, became, the substitute for all the imperfect ones. And we are a part of that group. Fortunately, what I just said is put in one verse of scripture. I like when the Bible sums it up that nicely. 2 Corinthians chapter five, verse 21, says this. "God made Him who knew no sin", that's Jesus, "to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." I could do several sermons in that one verse. There is a lot of theology in that. "God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." So our righteousness is an imputed righteousness, not an intrinsic righteousness. It's one that is given to us, not one that is earned by us. So He is feeling deserted by God. That's part of the torture of the cross.
There's another reason He feels that, not only deserted by God, but despised by people. Verse six, "But I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see me ridicule me. They shoot out the lip. They shake the head, saying", what a vivid description, shooting out the lip, wagging their heads back and forth, "saying, He trusted in the Lord. Let Him rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him."
Now again, those words are familiar, right? If you know your New Testament, you know that as Jesus hung on the cross and the crowd that surrounded Him, in seeing Jesus dying, that group included scribes, priests, chief priests, they all said, according to Matthew 27 these words. Listen. "He trusted in God. Let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him," almost verbatim. Did you notice verse six? "But I am a worm and no man." It's hard to think of Jesus saying that, isn't it, thinking that? "I am worm and no man."
We've heard of I Am statements of Jesus, right? You know them. I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the true vine. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the way, the truth, and the life. There are several statements Jesus made that He said, I am. Here as one of the forgotten I Am statements of Jesus Christ. "I am a worm and no man." Now obviously, this is a figure of speech. A worm is one of the lowest creatures in the world. But while Jesus was on trial, He was not treated like a human. He was not treated like a man. He was denied human rights, legal rights. They gave a verdict to His case before the case was even heard. He's guilty. Get rid of Him. Kill Him. Get rid, whatever it takes.
Isaiah the prophet said He was tortured. His visage was so marred, more than any other man, the physical effects of the beating that he had received. "I am a worm and no man." But I don't want to just move on too quickly. I want you to look at the word worm. It's a Hebrew word, tola or tola'ath, in some cases. 42 times, the Old Testament has the word tola or tola'ath. Sometimes, it's translated worm. Other times, it's translated scarlet, like the color scarlet.
Now we listen to that and go, I don't understand. Those two concepts are so far apart, worm, scarlet. Why is that? Well, come to find out, there was actually a worm that was a scarlet worm. Called the crimson crocus, it was the worm which they extracted the fluid out of to make a scarlet dye to dye garments, like the royal robes of kings or the scarlet hangings in the Tabernacle. They got it from the crimson crocus. The only way to get the crimson is to crush the worm. It was the crushing that brought the crimson, very, very picturesque. Jesus was, in effect, the scarlet worm, lowly to look upon, ugly to look upon. But when His life was crushed, His blood was the source, not to change somebody's garments, but to change somebody's eternity.
There is something else about this little worm, this crimson crocus. There's a lifecycle. And we are told that that crimson crocus, when it's ready to give birth, the mommy worm will find a piece of wood or a tree and crawl up into a place in the trunk or on a tree branch and embed itself into the wood. In giving birth, it will bring her death. Shortly thereafter, she dies. It's like this explosive birth, where all of that crimson dye explodes onto the wood. And that wood is stained with crimson in giving birth to little worms. So again, how picturesque of the cross where Jesus gave His life. But in giving His life, He brought life to so many. But there's more. In the death of that little worm, that wood is stained crimson. But after three days, that crimson turns white, to a white, waxy, flaky, powdery substance that falls off the wood to the ground, after three days.
What did Isaiah say? "Though your sins be a scarlet, I will make them as white as wool, as white as snow." Don't you love that song? It's no more applicable than now. "What can wash away my sin?" Say it. "Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." Jesus on the cross, deserted by God, despised by people. And something else that brought that torture, He's distressed by pain, physical pain. Verse 14, "I am poured out like water. And all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax. It has melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd."
A potsherd is a little, dry piece of pottery. "And my tongue clings to my jaws. You have brought me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me. The congregation of the wicked has enclosed me. They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look and they stare at me. They divide my garments among them. And for my clothing, they cast lots."
These verses describe the physical effects of crucifixion, the excruciating pain of that event. In fact, that's an interesting word I just used, excruciating. Did you know that it comes from a 16th century Latin word that literally means out of the cross, out from the cross, excruciate out from the event of the pain of the cross. And so it has become a vivid English word.
Verse 14, the Psalmist said, "I am poured out like water." One of the side effects for a crucifixion victim is the profuse sweating that occurs that dehydrates the body. The ordeal is so intense that the victim sweats and sweats. And Jesus has already begun that process. In the Garden of Gethsemane, we are told that he sweat great drops of blood, a medical condition, we are told, called hematidrosis, where the tiny blood capillaries burst into the sweat glands. And a bloody sweat comes out. "I'm poured out like water."
Notice also in verse 14, "And all my bones are out of joint." Anyone who has studied crucifixion knows this effect, that the body is suspended by four wounds. And then the body slumps itself out of joint. The major joints are dislocated. If you've ever dislocated a shoulder or a knee or a toe or a finger, you know the pain of that.
Imagine the major joints in that position being dislocated. And what that does, it causes suffocation of the vital organs. That's how the victim dies. Crucifixion victims die from asphyxiation. And the only way to get air during that time is to push up on the spikes in the feet and pull up on the spikes in the wrists to [GASP] take a breath and and exhale and slump back and do that minute after minute, hour after hour, sometimes for days. That's why the merciful gesture was to break the legs so that death could come quicker rather than later.
Notice it says, "My heart is like wax. It has melted within me." Remember when Jesus was finally dead and a Roman soldier took a lance and pierced the side of Jesus? What came out? Blood and water, he hit the heart and out came out blood and water. And doctors tell us that that is evidence that the pericardium, that serum sack around the heart, had so engorged that it crushed the heart, that the cause of death was a ruptured or, some would say, a broken heart. So the lance goes in. And out comes blood and water. "My heart is like wax. It has melted within me."
Verse 15 describes the intense thirst of the event. "My strength is dried up like a potsherd. My tongue clings to my jaws." Remember Jesus on the cross, one of His sayings is, I thirst, as he experienced this. Verse 16, look how graphic and detailed. "They pierced my hands and my feet." And then the 18th versus what John, the writer in chapter 18 of his book quoted. "They divided my garments among them. And for my clothing, they cast lots." That's what the Romans did with Jesus' robe.
In my study, I have a book called "Examine the Evidence," By an author named Ralph Muncaster. Ralph Muncaster was a former skeptic, an atheist, who tried to, through the research, show that Christianity was a hoax. There's no good evidence. And in so doing, he converted to Christ, which is what a lot of people who try this do if they're open-minded with the evidence. It happened to him. He looked at Psalm 22. And one of his statements caught my attention. He said, he pointed out 23 prophetic details in Psalm 22, all of which correspond to New Testament accounts as being fulfilled, 23 in one Psalm.
We don't have time to uncover every single one. It would be a fascinating study in itself. But I want to move to the second part of this Psalm. Because after the torture of the cross, beginning in verse 22 is the triumph of the cross. Now the crucifixion is over. And you will notice the change in tone. "I will declare," verse 22 says, "I will declare your name to my brethren. In the midst of the assembly, I will praise you." Now this is completely different language than verses one through 21. And I want you just to scoot back to verse 21 and notice how desperate it is. "Save me from the lion's mouth." That's like the whole first 21 verses, right? "Save me from the lion's mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen," is his prayer. But then look at the very last phrase of verse 21. "You have answered me."
That's a prayer of confidence. With confidence he says, through all of the anguish and all the pain, "You have heard me." Now we read that. And we're wondering, He did? When did He hear you? How did He hear you? Here you are, crying out, deserted by God, despised by man, distressed by pain. He's heard me. How? Verse 22 will give us the answer, the next few verses. "I will declare your name to my brethren. In the midst of the assembly, I will praise you. You who fear of the Lord, praise Him, all you descendants of Jacob", those are the Jews, "glorify Him. And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, nor has He hidden His face from him. But when he cried to Him, He heard. My praise shall be of you in the great assembly. I will pay my vows before those who fear Him."
It's pretty evident from this verse on that death is over. Weakness is gone. Suffering is past. Sorrow has vanished. Now there is life. Now there is strength. Now there is a declaration. Now there's praise. How is it that you have all this pain and all this despair, verses one through 21. Now all of this life and all of this strength and all of this praise, something must have happened between verse 21 and verse 22. What do you think it could be, any guesses? A Resurrection. A Resurrection.
Now it's not stated. But it is implied by the abrupt change in language. Because the first part of the Psalm is all about a suffering one. One person suffers. It's the suffering of one. The second part of the Psalm is the salvation and service of many, incredible difference. So these verses speak of a Resurrection and an expansion of the work that the first 21 verses accomplished. Now how do I know that? I know that because verse 22 is quoted in the New Testament. In Hebrews chapter 2, verse 22 of Psalm 22 is quoted. And it's referring to Christ. Listen to it. Hebrews 2, "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family." So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers", my brethren, "in the midst or in the presence of the congregation, I will sing your praises."
So in that scripture, Jesus is the speaker. And his brethren are all those for whom He died and rose. So Jesus is assured by the Father that all of His agonizing work on the cross is going to result in the salvation of many. And it's going to start small but expand outward. This, this is amazing to me, blesses me at least. I want you to see it. Look at verse 22. I will declare your name to who? My brethren, it's a small group. "In the midst of the assembly, I will praise you, you who fear the Lord." Verse 23, "Praise Him all you descendants of Jacob." Those are Israelites. "Glorify Him and fear Him all you offspring of Israel."
But then go down to verse 25. "My praise shall be of you in the great assembly." Verse 27, "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord." Now the circle is widening out. That's a pretty wide circle. "And all of the families of the nations shall worship you." Verse 30, "A posterior or a seed shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation." And finally verse 31, "They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born." It's as if Jesus can see this expanding group of respondents, recipients, believers, followers. It starts small. But it grows and grows till people around the world and aren't even born yet are going to be affected by it.
When Jesus rose from the dead, Acts chapter 1 gives us His words to His disciples. He said, you take this message, this gospel. And you preach it, beginning at Jerusalem. Then you move to Judea. Then go up to Samaria and eventually to the uttermost parts of the Earth, same outline as what you see in Psalm 22. You are part of that posterity who will be born. Here's the exciting part for you personally, if you can try to get that Sunday morning glaze out and just hear this. You were never an afterthought for God. It was God's plan to save you all along. It's not like you came along and God said, oh, well, you know, you'll do. There is room for maybe one more. And that would be you. Were chosen in Christ before the foundations of the Earth. He had you in mind all along.
And listen, I can only think this is what the New Testament means when it says this. "And for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame." What possible joy could anybody being crucified ever have? Under those conditions, feeling abandoned by God, cut off from people, hated by people, scorned by people, in that kind of physical agony, how could you have a modicum of joy? His joy was this, you, you, you, you, you, all of you who trust in Jesus, those not born yet. He could see that this would have an effect that would be like waves going outward and encompassing the world. And Jesus on the cross, seeing that, said, that's worth it. I'll go through this for that. That will be the joy set before me that will get me through this. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame. Amazing.
I want to draw your attention to the last verse of this Psalm. "They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born." Look at the very last phrase, "That He has done this. That He has done this." That's five words, right, that he has done this. Do in Hebrew, that's not five words? That's English, that he has done this. In Hebrew, it's one word. The translation, one word, as sa'ah is the word. And as sa'ah means it is completed or it is finished. You remember when Jesus, before He gave up His spirit, He looked. And He said, it is finished, three words, one word in Greek, tetelestai. As sa'ah, tetelestai, it is finished. It is finished.
So the psalm begins with "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." And it ends with a completion. "It is finished." I would love it if your life would have that as a banner statement over it, it is finished. And what I want to say to some of you is quit trying to convince God that you are good enough to be saved. Because he knows you're not. He knows that. Quit trying to add to what God did for you on the cross through Jesus Christ. Because He knows you can't. Did you know Isaiah the prophet said of all your good works, all your religious works, everything you can try to do to earn your way, you know what God said about it? It's filthy rags. Because no matter how good you live, you can never be as good as God. He is holy. He is perfect. That's why there needed to be a substitute.
If God were to ask you, when you die, why should I let you into my heaven? I wonder if some of you would say, because I go to church. I've read my Bible through, you know how many times, God? Let me see, five times all the way through. I sing songs. I help people. I recycle. If that would be your answer, it's the wrong answer. The only appropriate answer if God were to say, why should I let you into my heaven, would be for you to point to Jesus and say, it's because of that man with those five wounds and what He has done for me that I'm coming into your heaven. And you could say it boldly. The great word of the gospel is not do. The great word of the gospel is done. Jesus didn't hang on the cross and at the end say, OK. This is all I've got. Now finish it. He said, it is finished. It's done. It's over. The task is completed.
Finally, I want to say a word to some of you who, when we read verse one, it did something in your heart. It echoed a feeling you have had in the past. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." Some of you I'm speaking to right now have felt that you have been forsaken by God. I'm here to tell you that's a theological impossibility. If you're in Christ, it's an impossibility. Oh, you may feel like it. And you may even be experiencing the silence of God. David did. Isaiah did, where God isn't speaking like he used to to you.
Some of you may be experiencing the discipline of God. We all do that. In fact, some of you may even be experiencing the displeasure of God due to your sin. Sin, even though you're a believer, has erected a barrier. You know what God said the prophet Isaiah. "My hand is not short that it cannot save. My ear is are not heavy that it cannot hear. But your sin has separated between you and your God." And some of you may need to confess that or may need to reconcile with the person that you've hurt or harmed. But forsaken by God, never, He was forsaken so you never would have to be forsaken. He went through the darkness so you could walk in the light. He will never forsake you, ever. You say, well, it sure seems like it.
Well, what it seems is not what is so. Jesus said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Some of the great hymns of our faith capture it so well. I'm thinking of a hymn that I used to hear every morning when J Vernon McGee's radio program came on the air. "How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord." There's that one verse that says, "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes. That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I will never, no never, no never forsake." You could never write forsaken over your life if you're in Christ, ever ever, ever, never. He'll never leave you. He'll never forsake you. Some of you right now, and rightfully so, are feeling a hunger in your heart to be loved by God, forgiven by God, accepted by God. I want to give you an opportunity to do something about that. Would you bow with me, please?
Lord, our heads are bowed in reverence. We know that we're talking to the one who is holy, the perfect one, imperfect ones addressing the perfect one, the Holy One, the unique God. You are not like we are. You are holy other than we. But we address you in the name of Jesus, your Son, who provided an atonement whereby we have access. And we can talk to you. We can call on you. We can laugh with you. We can have intimate fellowship with you. We can invite you into every part of our day, all because of what was done 2,000 years ago in a holy transaction on a cross outside Jerusalem. You've made it possible. But some of us are alienated from you. Some of us are separated from you. We're separated because of our sin. We come to church. We're hoping it would help. But there hasn't been a transformation that has taken place. We've not received Jesus into our heart, into our soul, as our Lord and Savior. So we're always going to feel that, always going to experience that. And we're going to try to work hard and earn this and do that when we need to hear the words, it is finished. It has been done. Lord, you also said, as many as would receive Jesus, you'd give them the power, the authority, the right to become your children. So it's as simple as that. Simply, it's an act of faith where we ask Jesus to be our Lord, our Savior, our master. And we personally make that choice to turn to Him. You call that repentance in your word. And I pray that some here would make that decision to do that right now.
If you're here this morning and you don't know Christ personally, though you may have grown up in a church or been religious or had parents or uncles or aunts who told you the stories or took you to church. You might even have come here many, many times but you've not received Jesus personally. I want to give you an opportunity to change that.
Others of you, maybe you remember an experience of your past. But bottom line is, you're not walking with the Lord today. You're not obeying Him. You're not following Jesus. You need to come to Him or come back to Him.
But you have to consent. You have to be willing. You have to invite the one knocking at the door of your heart to come in. If you are willing to do that, it's a simple ask. If you are willing, I want you to raise your hand in the air.
Our heads are bowed. Our eyes were closed. Mine will be open so that I can see you raise your hand in there. And in raising you're hand, you're saying, right over here. Pray for me. God bless you and you and you, three of you right in the front row, and over here to my left right, right in the middle, and over here to my far left, and in the back, and on the side, and right in the middle to my right. Anyone else, raise their hand up. Raise it up. Raise it up high, unabashedly, unashamedly, up right there in the middle. You know you need this, so receive it. In the balcony, thank you for that stretched out arm. Anyone else? Anyone in the family room, would just raise your hands up? Acknowledge your need.
Father... in the back, God bless you. Father, thank you for those saying yes to Jesus. I pray, Lord, that you would meet them. I pray that you will change them. I pray that you will assure these hearts of your love for them and make all things new. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Can we stand please as we sing this final song? If you raised your hand, I'm going to give you an opportunity now. Find the nearest aisle and come stand right up here right now, where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ as your Savior. If you're in the back, the balcony, come down the steps, start walking that aisle. Say excuse me if you're in the middle of a row. It's easy for you guys because you're right up in the front. Good. Come on up. Come right on up.
Sometimes just the very presence of others coming forward is enough to spark that, yeah, I need to do that, too. And maybe you didn't raise your hand. Doesn't matter if you raised your hand or not. It's like, well, I didn't raise my hand. I can't come. Please get up and receive Christ. Get up and come. We'd love to wait around for you. It's our joy. Glad you came. I didn't mention this, but if you're in overflow next door or outside where there's only the speakers, if you raised your hand, somebody will walk you quickly right over into this auditorium. And you can be a part of this great party we're having right now. If you're in the family room, there's a door to the front on your right. Just walk through the hallway. And we'll be here for you. Anyone else? Anyone else?
Good thinking. Way to go. Those of you who have come forward, and there's a boatload of you, we're glad. There are. Would you just come a little closer? I promise I won't bite. I'm going to pray. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to pray. I'm going to ask you to say these words in a prayer out loud after me. I want you to tune everyone out, everything out, just tune into the fact that you, right now, are about to talk to God. And you're going to take Him at His word. And you're going to receive Jesus as your Savior. So I'll pray. You pray out loud after me. You ready? Say:
Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe He died for me. I believe He shed His blood. For me. That He rose again from the grave. That He is alive right now. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus Christ. As my Savior. And as my master. It's in His name I pray. Amen.