Unexpected Jesus #9 - Does God Get Angry?
Dr. Kurt Bjorklund looks at the second part of John 3 and how 3 of the hardest concepts for us to wrap our heads around in the bible should not be looked at as "fine print", but important to how we view what God has to offer in a relationship with us.
Well, hello again. Before we jump into the teaching today, I want to take just a few minutes to highlight a couple of things that are happening around Orchard Hill. First, this week is the last week to get the early bird price for Kids Fest. If you want to send your kids to Kids Fest, great to get them registered, and you got a chance to hear a little bit about how significant that has been for some people as they look back at their life and their own spiritual journey. If you have kids, I just really want to encourage you to help make that a part of their summer. Great thing to invite friends to and introduce them to the idea of Jesus and God and how God can make a difference in their lives, their families' lives. This week is the end of the early bird pricing on that.
Also, just wanted to highlight that if you're on our email list, you received probably an email explaining about a care email that you could opt-in to. What that is is if you've ever walked around Wexford here, being a larger church, and thought, "I didn't know that that person was sick. I didn't know they had a baby. I didn't know that that person had died and that the funeral had happened," and you thought, "I wish I had known," there aren't a lot of easy ways for us to communicate, and so what we've decided is that the easiest thing is to use something that's already in place, which is a care prayer email. Cares and praises are shared generally about twice a week, sometimes more if there's more stuff happening, but usually we'll wait until there's a few things together. That's something you can opt-in to. You're not opting in to commit to anything. You can pray. You can send cards. You can do nothing but read it. You can hit delete, whatever works for you.
If you want to know what is happening in people's lives, not church-wise, not announcements, but people's lives, that's the way that you can do that. You can opt-in to that. I think you can send something to firstname.lastname@example.org and be a part of that. Also just want to mention that Lorie had said that there is the LES offering today at the back. That is just an extra offering that we receive on the fifth weekend of the month, which is this weekend. What that is is those who maybe feel like they're just in a really good place financially give a little extra. Then, what happens is the church is available to those within the congregation who have some special needs, acute needs for a season. I can just tell you that every month something is done on that front that helps somebody substantially inside the church family. That's what that is.
That's an opportunity for us just to, as a church, care for one another, an opportunity for you to partake in that as well. I also just want to mention quickly that Easter is coming. It's April 21st. This year, we have a couple of different things, new things happening, things that are a little different than past years. First, on Good Friday, we're going to have Good Friday and Good Friday on Thursday. There will be a Good Friday service Thursday at 7:00, Friday at 7:00, which is because the room has just been too full in recent years. That will give us an opportunity just to accommodate more people. Then, Easter weekend, we're going to, on Easter Sunday, have 7:00, 9:00, 11:00, and 1:00 services. There will be 7:00 and 1:00 will be in the chapel. Then, at 9:00 and 11:00 will be in the worship center and in the chapel.
If this is your church home, and you've been around here for a long time, if your plans are flexible, and you can go to the 7:00 or 1:00, that would be really great, especially if you're around and can come to either the 7:00 and 1:00 and then serve at the 9:00 or 11:00. That would be super. Last year, we had about 6,500 people come for Easter weekend, which is more than twice what will be around this weekend. There's just a lot of people coming, a lot of opportunity to serve, a lot of opportunity to open up some seats for folks. If your plans are flexible, and you can do that, that would be outstanding. If they're not, we understand and come whenever is most convenient, but we just wanted to make a pitch for that as well. There will be a great worship experience in the chapel as well as in this space on that weekend.
I want to just take a moment and speak to one other thing. This is not church related as much as in our city. That is you've heard I'm sure about the Antwon Rose verdict and what all has happened kind of since then with people protesting and different things. I realize that to not say something says something. Certainly, as a church, we don't feel the need to comment on every local or national event that happens or all we'd ever do is comment on news stories. That isn't what our goal here is, to comment on news stories, but there are some news stories that are close to home or significant in a way that to not comment on them is to miss something. Certainly, with this being a local story and tied to the issue of race as tightly as it is, I think this is a significant issue just to make a few comments on.
As a church, we certainly have racial diversity within our church, and we celebrate that. Certainly, we have people who are part of the law enforcement community, and we celebrate them as being part of our church family. I realize that what has happened in this instance is that many people have said this is a clear case of systemic racism in our culture because a white police officer shot a young black man in the back three times. If you're not familiar with the story, Antwon Rose was involved in a shooting and, when his car was pulled over, ran. The officer shot him in the back three times. Pittsburgh police dismissed him immediately, and then the Allegheny County brought charges of a homicide against the officer. Through the trial, the officer was not convicted of that homicide. Now people have said this is a demonstration of racial inequality in our country. Then, others have said very quickly, "No, no, no. The police have to have a right to do what they need to do."
Here's what I'd like to do, is just simply read one Proverb to you that I think speaks maybe to this situation, and what I find is that often, actually, not just often, always, God's word says things better than I could say them. Let me read just read this verse to you. Proverbs 17:15, "Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent, the Lord detests them both." Let me read it again, "Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent, the Lord detests them both." Some versions say it's an abomination to the Lord. Here's what that says. It says, "Do you want to know something that God hates? God hates when people condemn the innocent or justify the guilty." This is an instance, if you just think about it, that, very quickly, we can take a narrative that we believe in, and we can say, "That officer was clearly guilty," or, "Clearly, that officer is innocent."
I'm not suggesting that we don't come to a point of landing this or saying what you think, but what I'm saying is that it's significant to say, "I'm not just going to take a narrative that I already believe in or I already think is true and say this reinforces my narrative, but I'm going to at least do some research, listen before I take a strong position." Now, again, I'm not saying you don't, at some point, take a strong position, but to say, "I don't want to just use this to reinforce a narrative that I already believe, but, instead, I want to make sure that I'm not just jumping to one side." The other danger here is that you can, maybe especially if you're white and live in the suburbs, you can say, "You know what? This is hard to figure out, and I just don't know what to think, what to feel," and you can become indifferent to this.
It's possible to care about law and care about police officers and still care about the plight of individuals and people and people groups that have said this is a struggle. As a church, I just want us to be the kinds of people who say we engage in the conversation well, we take positions that are informed, and we care about people on all sides of an issue. Let me pray. Father, I pray for our community as we work through an issue of race and law. God, I pray that, as a church, you would help each of us who's part of a church, this church, to be people who care about other people, care about their stories, care about what's going on, and want to honor you with all that we do and say. God, I pray today, as we consider a portion of John three together, that you would let my words reflect your word in content and in tone and in emphasis. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Years ago, one of the better known pastors in America was a man named Jonathan Edwards. He later became the president of Princeton Seminary. Whether you have ever heard this name or not, you may have heard of his most famous sermon. His most famous sermon is a sermon that was called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. The reason that I say maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't, but that sermon was influential in shaping New England at the time that he was a pastor there, as people ended up believing in God during that message. The reason I mention that is because, today, even to say Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God feels uncouth in our broader society. People hear that, and they say, "That's not the way I like to think of God. That's not the way that I like to consider who God is." What's happened as a result, I think, is that in many churches what will happen is you'll hear a lot of banal messages around all kinds of themes that never deal with things like sin or God's anger or eternal destinies.
In fact, I did a very quick search knowing that this was in this text. By the way, this is one of the reasons we teach straight through texts. I didn't choose this today. I didn't sit around in my study and go, "I want to talk about sin and anger and God." It's actually in the text that we're looking at, and so this is what's driven this. I looked at just some of the larger churches in our country's websites. Granted, they may have hidden it in the marketing, but most of the messages that I saw were, "Here's how you can be happy. Here's how you can have a great life. Here's what God wants for you." Now, I'm not saying those things aren't true, but if you never get to this, then, in some ways, you're never actually dealing with the essence of Christianity. We've been working through the gospel of John together. As we do that, these first chapters, we've called this the unexpected Jesus because what we find here is that Jesus is not exactly as we expect.
Some people see God, because of a reaction against kind of the Jonathan Edwards way of thinking of sinners in the hands of an angry God, and they just see a grandpa figure who's all love, who's all goodness, who's all kindness. Others see a God who is angry. What we see in the gospel of John, in chapter three especially, that we're looking at here is we see a God who is capable of anger and love simultaneously. In order to appreciate the love of God, we need to understand the anger or the wrath of God. This all comes especially from the very last verse of John chapter three, John three verse 36. Here's what it says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them." What we see here are three concepts that I believe are three of the hardest concepts in our culture to get our hands around.
If you're kind of new to church today, you're coming back to church, you haven't been around church for a long time, somebody invited you to lunch later, and so you said, "You know what? I'm going to do church today," this will either be super helpful or this will confirm everything that you say, "I don't like about Christianity." This is not in the fine print. You know when you get to kind of a website, and you have to agree to something, and then you have to scroll way down and then hit accept. This is not at the bottom of that accept document. This is not in kind of the end of the story. This is part and parcel of what it means to understand who Jesus is and what God wants, and so we're going to look at these concepts today.
First, the concept of sin. Here's where we see this. Verse 36, it says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life." The word rejects here is a word that means basically not to be compliant. The ESV translates it does not obey. What it's basically driving at here is this idea. That is you can believe in the Son, have genuine faith, or you can be non-compliant to the Son. To be non-compliant is, in essence, the idea of sin. There's a book that just came out recently. It's called Girl, Stop Apologizing. The lady's name who wrote it is Rachel Hollis. She had written a book earlier, Girl, Wash Your Face. I didn't actually read the book because I wasn't drawn to the title, but I saw two reviews of it.
What caught my attention was the two reviews were from two very opposite sources. One was Buzzfeed. I read all kinds of things. The other was The Gospel Coalition. If you're not familiar with these, you have on one side kind of The Gospel Coalition, which is a fairly conservative kind of Christian take on things, and then you have Buzzfeed, which is not. These two both had reviews of this book. The review that was in the Buzzfeed, a lady named Laura Turner basically said here's the problem with her take, and here's how she described what the author does. The author basically says, "I was poor. I was struggling until I decided to believe in myself. Now I'm powerful. If you would stop apologizing and be yourself, you could be powerful and successful like me." That's the Buzzfeed take on Girl, Stop Apologizing.
She uses a phrase she calls curated imperfection. She says the problem with curated imperfection is that you say, "All of my problems were in the past, but now I've earned from and grown from them. Now, I have a new self-actualized self that can achieve or do anything." The critique coming from the secular side, from the Buzzfeed side was to say, "Really? Now you're that much better than you used to be? And you just have learned to stop apologizing." Then, the more Christian critique said this. Jen Osman writes that it's exhausting and damning, the advice of Girl, Stop Apologizing, and it leads to enslavement because what it does is it says, "I'm now the person who's got all the power in my own life." She said her actual freedom starts when we actually start apologizing to a holy God.
You see, in our day and age, what we want is we want to say, "I don't have a God to answer to. I get to answer to myself." The essence of that is actually sin because what we're doing in that moment is we're saying, "You know what? I want to define for myself what my world should be, what everything should be like rather than having a God define for me what it is." Until we're comfortable with the idea of sin, we won't understand or appreciate the idea of God at all. In fact, in the New Testament, there are a couple of different words that are used for followers of Jesus. One word is the word Christian. Do you know how many times that word is used in the New Testament? It's used three times. Do you know there's another word that's used to describe a follower of Jesus? It's the word disciple. Do you know how many times that word is used? You can guess by how I've set this up, 269 times.
In other words, the idea of being a Christian, saying, "I'm a Christian. I affirm a few things," is not the New Testament concept of a follower of Jesus. A Christian is a disciple. A Christian is somebody who says, "I will do what God has called me to do," because a disciple was a learner. A disciple was somebody who would say, "You know what? I'm going to actually attempt to do what this person that I've committed to following is telling me to do." Sometimes we'll say, "Wait a second. Isn't God working by grace? Don't we end up being right with God by what he's done, not what we do?" Absolutely, but here's the issue. For some people, the idea of sin can keep us from saying, "I'll be an actual follower," because what we'll do is we'll say, "You know what? God has done it, and I don't need to do anything," but being a disciple means that we're engaged.
I remember as a kid, I don't remember much about this, but my mom put me in swim lessons. I guess I was the kind of kid who would run and jump into water without a life jacket according to my mom. They'd have to jump in and get me. She's like, "We have to teach this kid to swim." She put me in swim lessons. I don't remember much about it, and I may have these names wrong. What I remember is that there were a couple different groups. You went in, you did a little quick swim test, and then they put you in a different group. I think the groups were sharks, dolphins, this is before it was probably politically incorrect to have sharks, sharks, dolphins, and minnows. I think I was in the minnows. I remember being offended by it as a child like, "I'm not a minnow. I should be a dolphin. I want to be a shark. I'm better than that."
Here's the issue. That is when we come to following Jesus, it doesn't matter if you're a minnow or a dolphin or a shark as long as you're engaged and you're moving forward and you say, "I understand that the issue here is obedience, that being a disciple means I make a decision to do what Jesus says." Then we come to understand this concept of sin. Again, to modern ears, we don't like the idea of obedience. We think of obedience as being something that we do for our dogs. We send dogs to obedience training, but, people, we don't need that. Do you see the rub in our modern world? Think of it this way. If you were to try to join a company with a really dynamic CEO and you were to go to work for this person, it would be crazy to say, "I'm going to go to work for this person. I want to learn from this person, but I'm not going to do what she says. I'm going to do whatever I want."
It would be crazy to say, "I'm going to join a team because I really want to be coached up by somebody, but you know what? The coach doesn't know what they're doing. I'm going to choose my own path." Or, "I'm going to join a band. There's a wonderful conductor who knows how to bring out the best of all the band mates to make them the best they can be as a band, but I'm going to play my own tune." Yet, sometimes that's what we do when we come to Jesus. Here, we have this concept, this juxtaposition. There's he who believes in the Son, and the person who rejects the Son, doesn't do what the Son says. The truth is, a lot of times, we don't know why it's this way. I remember when our kids were younger, one of my boys, when we had some new carpet on some stairs, took out an orange marker and colored on the stairs and on the wall a little bit. I remember being frustrated, like, "Really? You know better than coloring on something." I remember asking him, "Why did you do this?"
You know what he said, right? Same thing all your kids say when you ask them that question, "I don't know. I have no idea why I did this." That is part of our human condition, but understanding this is important. Jesus, at one point, is talking about this. This is in Luke chapter six. He says that the person who understands and follows his word is like the wise man who builds his house on the rock. When the storm comes, his house is secure. But the person who doesn't do it, he says, is like the foolish person who builds his house on the sand. When the storm comes, the house is washed away. Notice, at least in that instance, what Jesus does. He doesn't say it's the evil person. He says it's the foolish person. In other words, saying, "I'm going to cut my own path. I'm going to do my own thing. I'm only accountable to me," is ultimately foolish because what we're doing in that moment is we're saying, "I know best for me," rather than saying, "There's a God who made me, who loves me, who created me, who knows best for me, and I'll follow him."
Here, we have this concept of sin, which, again, to many people is troublesome when it comes to understanding Christianity, but it's really at the core of understanding faith. Here's a second concept. That's the concept of anger. Verse 36, again, says it this way, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." Here we get the word wrath. The word means anger or indignation, and it's not a like explosive wrath or a wrath in the moment, but it's a settled anger that's being talked about here. For many people, the idea of God being angry seems unworthy of God. In fact, many people would say, "You know what? I don't like to think of God like this." This becomes troublesome.
Here's how Leon Morris, who wrote a commentary on the gospel of John, writes about this. He says, "The wrath of God is a concept that's uncongenial to many modern students, and various devices have been adopted to soften the expression or explain it away. This can not be done, however, without doing great violence to many passages of scripture and without detracting from God's moral character. Considering the first of these points, there are literally hundreds of passages in the Bible referring to God's wrath, and rejection of them all leaves us with a badly mutilated Bible. With reference to the second, if we abandon the idea of the wrath of God, we are left with a God who is not ready to react to moral evil. We should not expect God's wrath to fade away with the passage of time. Anyone who continues in unbelief and disobedience can look for nothing other than the persisting wrath of God. That is basic to our understanding of the gospel. Unless we are saved from the peril, from true peril, there is no meaning in salvation."
Here's what he's pointing to. That is he's saying that if you take wrath out of the equation and say, "I just like to think of God as love," that love isn't meaningless, and ultimately to say that we have a God who isn't angry means that we have a God who doesn't deal with anything that's unpleasant or unjust in our world. In fact, if you think about it, the context here has John writing, John, the gospel writer, writing about John the Baptist's reaction where John says that he's like a bridegroom, Jesus is, and he's kind of like a man who's coming along. The reason that I find that significant is if you are engaged to be married, and somebody spurns your love or betrays your love, what happens, or you're married and that happens, what happens? You get angry. Your anger is justified. It's right at that moment because what you're doing is you're saying, "You're threatening something that we hold dear. You're threatening something that we believe matters."
In fact, we read this in Isaiah 62 verse five, that this analogy that John uses is actually much broader in the scriptures. Here's what it says, "As a young man marries a young woman, so will your builder marry you. As the bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will God rejoice over you." I love that. It says that God will rejoice over his people like a groom rejoices over his bride. One of the best moments in a wedding is when the bride appears at the back, and the groom is standing here, and everyone turns and looks at the bride. I, often because of where I get to stand a lot of times, get to be right next to the groom. You see these guys who just, all of a sudden, are overcome by the moment where they're like, "She's awesome." You do know that's the best she'll ever look, right? Just kidding.
All right. I'm moving on. The jealousy and fervor is what is in view here. If the girl or the guy before the wedding had said, "I just went and hung out with my groomsmen or best man," or the opposite, whatever the case is, "and we spent the night together," you wouldn't say, "It's all good." You would say, "There's something off here." Maybe another way to think about it is the issue of addiction. If you've ever dealt with addiction in somebody you love, you know how devastating it is. You don't simply go, "Addiction, I'm sorry." There's something in you that says, "I am angry at the people who would supply you, at the situation, and I don't want you to be a part of that."
That anger is part of having a love for somebody, and that's what's happening here, where God says his wrath remains when you reject because he says, "I know what this can be. I have a desire for you that you're not living in. I know what's best for you," but so often what we do is we say, "I don't like the idea of God being angry," rather than seeing it as a lover who feels spurned or feels like a parent or a loved one, a brother, a sister, who watches somebody ravaged by addiction. We have a concept here of sin. We have a concept of anger, but there's one more concept that is troubling to many in our day and age. I'm going to say it's the concept of hell. Here's what we see, verse 36 again, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life." You have eternal life, and then you have the opposite. Here, it's not noted as the word hell, but hell is clearly stated in several places in the New Testament.
Now, some people will enjoy kind of saying, "Well, hell was a literal place. It was Gehenna. It was this kind of trash dump outside of Jerusalem that Jesus was referring to, so this isn't really talking about something all that bad," but if you read through all of the images of the New Testament, my guess is that what you would do is you would say this is much more concerning than what we tend to give it credit for. What's happened is you get these caricatures that people make of hell like, "Hell is a party for a bunch of people that will go on for all eternity. I'm on the highway to hell. Isn't that great because it's going to be good when I get there because my life's been good on the way there." We kind of trivialize the idea, and even sometimes the very images of fire and damnation leave us with this sense of saying, "That's just so otherworldly. I can't even imagine what that is." Back to Jonathan Edwards, in his famous message, he talks about a sinner dangling by a thread over the fires of hell is the image that he uses.
See, in our day and age, what we prefer to do is talk about Jesus is going to make your life better. The truth is your life may not necessarily be better. The reason you come to Jesus is because of sin, because of God's wrath, and because of the promise of eternal life and the promise that if we don't come to Jesus, that what awaits us is hell. That's part of why we come to Jesus, not just to say, "I want my life to somehow be better." Here's a place where Jesus actually articulates a little bit of what hell is like. This is Mark chapter nine verse 48. When he's talking about hell, he says this, that it's where? He quotes Isaiah again. This is Isaiah 66, but he quotes it. He says, "It's where the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched." Here's what he's talking about. He's saying that what hell will be is it won't just be a place out there like in the future and somewhere else.
I'm not saying it isn't that, but he's saying that there's a sense in which hell becomes internal because the worm is eating you from the inside and causing you to struggle. The idea of fire not quenching is he's saying this will go on and on. There's another place where hell is referred to as a place of gnashing of the teeth. You ever gnashed your teeth at something? Did you know what gnashing of the teeth connotes? It's that, "Why did I do that? I wish I hadn't done that." I gnashed my teeth a while ago. I was backing out of my garage, and somebody had parked a car right where I back out, and I hit it. My first reaction was to jump out of my car and be like, "Who parked there?" You know what happens when you hit a parked car? You have no one else to blame. I mean, there is nothing you can do but say, "I hit a parked car. How stupid of me."
That's gnashing of the teeth, except here's what the implication is of what Jesus says. He says the worm will not die, the fire will not be quenched, it's going to go on and on and on for all eternity. The picture in the Bible is not of God throwing people into hell against their will, and them wanting to get out, and them kind of burning in sulfur, and God saying, "Ha, ha, ha. I put you there." It's people being in internal torment because they say, "Why was I so dumb and still yet refusing to change?" That's the picture that God gives us. In fact, in Luke chapter 12 verse four and five, Jesus says this. These are chilling words about this whole thing. He says this, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more, but I will tell you whom you should fear. Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has the authority to throw you into hell. Yes, fear him."
I know that this is heavy, but my point in this is is this is in this passage, but more than that, it's to say this is not in the fine print of our New Testament and of our Bible and of our concept of God. Now, what was happening in this context was that John the Baptist was baptizing people, Jesus' followers were baptizing people, and people had this debate about whose baptism was sufficient. What happened was they got to a point where it was this petty debate over who was baptizing more people, basically, in the way that this was going. What we see in this passage is we see something about how to view these significant matters. John says this in verse 29, "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom."
Here's his point. He says, "Do you want to know where real joy is found? It's in pointing people to the bridegroom, to Jesus." Why? Because that's when people get free. If you are here, and you've had a friend who's been bugging you for a long time to come to church, to believe, and you're like, "I can't believe I finally came and this is the message," do you know why your friend keeps inviting you? Because they believe this fully, and they say, "I want you to have freedom," and their greatest joy will be if you believe what is true. You see humility here, verse 30. He says, "He must become greater. I must become less," because what happened for John the Baptist here was he said, "You know what? This isn't about me. This is ultimately about Jesus. He's the bridegroom. He's the one we want to follow and acknowledge here." Then we see just an acknowledgment that God's the one who gives any kind of scope to anything that we do.
Verse 27, he says, "A person can receive only what's given him from heaven." Here, he just basically bends his knee and says, "You know what? This is ultimately God's deal," but here's what I'd like to just end with. I'd like to go back into this chapter just a little earlier and read you a couple of the verses that were covered last week. Josiah, Rick, Joel, Brady all did great jobs covering these verses because here's the issue. Sin, anger, hell, what God wants for you is the opposite of those. Those are hard concepts, but what he wants to offer to you, wants you to experience is grace, that Jesus came and did for you what you can't do so that you don't have to live in your sins, but you can be a disciple, a follower, and live in grace. He wants you to experience his love, and he wants you to experience the promise of eternal life.
Here's where we see it, verse 16 through 18 of John three, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but who does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." Let me just take a moment and try to apply this. Maybe you're here today and you say, "This is the kind of thing that I don't like about Christianity, and I'm uncomfortable, and I can't wait till this ends so I can leave and get to my car and get home as quickly as I can."
Can I just encourage you, if you're feeling that, don't let this moment pass because you may be right now experiencing the work of God's Spirit drawing you and saying, "You know that this is true." If that's you, maybe today is your day to say, "I do choose to believe in the Son. As much as I may not want to acknowledge my sin, by acknowledging my sin, I acknowledge that I move from wrath to being loved and from damnation to eternal life." The way that you take that step is you simply say, "God, I believe in what Jesus has done on my behalf. I know I'm sinful, and I need a Savior." Maybe you're here and you say, "You know what? I've believed this for a long time. This is the same message I've heard, I've known. I don't necessarily love that it's talked about all the time because it feels a little uncouth to me too, but I do believe it." Can I just encourage you to say this?
That is that if you really believe that the most loving thing you can do is not conceal it but encourage others to come and believe it as well, I mentioned earlier that we have Easter coming. It's a great time to invite people. We have invitation cards out at the connect desk, a great time just to say, "Come and check out this Jesus that I've come to believe in." Maybe for you this year is just a time to say, "Do I really believe this? If so, maybe my action step is to be engaged in inviting some others and being the best man or the bridesmaid at the wedding and being able to point people to who Jesus really is." Either way, my hope is that what you see is that we have a God who really is worthy of worship because sin means that we put ourselves in a place where what we deserve is anger and wrath but God, in his mercy, has Jesus Christ take that punishment for us so that he can give, without qualification, without exception, radical love and eternal life.
What that hopefully does for you, what it does for me, is it moves me to say this is a God that I want to follow. This is a God I want to be discipled by. This is a God that's worthy of saying, "Whatever you say, that's what I'm going to do because of how great your work has been on my behalf." Father, we ask today very simply that you would help each of us here to understand these concepts and, as troubling as some of them may be at times, to not be troubled by them but, instead, be moved to worship in awe and reverence and obedience by them. Father, I pray especially for any who are here today who would just say, "I don't know that I've ever actually believed." I pray that even just in this moment there would be an acknowledgment of sin before you and a request just simply to say, "God, would you let Jesus be my Savior, my substitute?" We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen. Thanks for being here. Have a great day.