(For the accompanying powerpoint - http://www.hueytownbaptist.com/pastorspage/sermondownloads.html)
* In September, 1991, the ruling government of the Soviet Union admitted something it had denied for nearly sixty years. During the Stalin era, officials once forgot to set the national clocks back one hour when they came off winter daylight-saving time. They were so embarrassed by the gaffe that the Soviet government stayed on the wrong time and denied the whole thing for nearly six decades.
* When I read this story, my mind was drawn to the parallel between the Soviet Union and the modern day church. Somehow we have come to believe that if we say something “loud enough”, “long enough”, “vote on it” and the majority says it, “it had to be true.” This attitude has almost crippled the American church and has resulted in a society which is drowning in a sea of immorality, moral relativity, and universalism. While all of this is “going on” before our eyes, the church (members) sit silently by.
* Consider this, when the Holy Spirit fell on those believers at Pentecost, the immediate result was a change in the lives of ALL the believers, which impacted a city, country, and ultimately the world.
* Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:5 “…fulfill your ministry”, John writes in chapter 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Then Matthew teaches in 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.” Light is a change agent. Darkness is defined as the absence of light. In the beginning, God didn’t have to create the darkness, but He said, “let there be light” and the darkness was change.
* The very reason we need to be in the business of Changing lives for time and eternity is because of the darkness. Let’s put some Biblical reasons to our case.
1) The Design and Desire of the Sovereign –
> God created man in HIS image then blew divine breath into him and man became a “living soul”. By design we are to have a special relationship to the Father.
> You and I were designed to have a special, personal, ongoing relationship to God.
> We can only find complete peace and fulfillment when we do what we’re designed to do. Rick Warren calls this our “purpose”. Simply stated our purpose is to return to our creator and establish a relationship with Him which parallels the one Adam and Eve had in those early days.
> Had Adam and Eve not sinned there would be no need to “change lives for either time or eternity” because we would be perfect. When sin entered the world we became flawed and imperfect creatures who were and are unworthy of a relationship with God. In fact, there is no way to get to God on our own.
> We’ll try, but it won’t work. In the Old Testament we discover the people after the flood saying, “we can build our way to God.” In the New Testament we discover people saying, “We can work our way to God”. Today, we’ll either hear that OR people will say, “We can think our way to God”. For there is an in-bred part of each one of us which KNOWS we need the Father. The problem is that we cannot get there by ourselves. We need help.
> The New Testament is all about “how” God wants us back: 1 John 4:9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him, Galatians 4 But when the completion of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons, 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
> The design and desire of Sovereign God is for lives to be touched and changed by the very ones whose lives have been touched and changed. And how is this express?
2) The Determination of the Savior -
> Have you ever considered the number of times that Jesus had an opportunity (and even the temptation) to throw in the towel and quit. We are never told about His “private prayer” times. But I wonder if He never asked the Father, “You want me to die for these hard-heads, these knuckleheads, these people? We may love them, but they don’t listen.”
> Yes, I know this is not very theological, but it does serve to remind me of just how determined Jesus was. Think about this “while we were still sinners, while we were undeserving, and at the right time,” Jesus demonstrated His determination by enduring the cross while despising its shame. Nothing, not even a painful, shameful death would dissuade Jesus from making a change in our lives.
> His determination to restore us is evident. Jesus never gave up! When I think of Peter, Thomas, Saul of Tarsus, you and me and how His love toward us made Him determined to reach us; and for HIM, failure was not an option, then Jesus tells us, “as the Father sent me, so send I you”. All these truth should remind us of just how determined our Lord was to change this world. (recap)
3) The Destination of the Sinner –
> Most people prefer that the preacher not mention this because “different people have different views”. That may be in this society, but this is an eternal truth which God has given us in His word. First, remember in Romans 6:23 we are taught “the wages, payment, compensation for sin is death”. Marry that truth to the story (not parable) of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
> The Rich man lifted up his eyes in hell. This man was dead and couldn’t die. All of his senses were highly functional. His sight, hearing, touch, and taste are mentioned. Jesus tells us the way to eternal life is narrow and few people get there while the way to eternal death is wide and many go there. We are told in Proverbs that “there is a way which seems right to a man, but the end is destruction”.
> Here’s the payoff question: Why should I (personally) be involved in “changing lives?” Because my mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, friends, and all the rest will spend an eternity in unimaginable punishment “if’ there die the way they were born. Revelation calls it a “lake of fire”, the New Testament says there is weeping wailing and the gnashing of teeth, and scriptures also say it is a place where the worm does not die and the fire never goes out. (illustrate)
4) The Duty of the Saint –
> I use the word duty for many reasons. First, it is not a popular word any more (kind of like commitment, faithful, consistent). Know what one of the great struggles facing today’s believer? Consistency, faithfulness, and commitment. We are called to run a marathon, give our lives, stay with it, and most of the time, we run a sprint, give a few moments, and move on. Without apology, I say to the one who have redeemed, reclaim, remade by Christ, that we have a duty. The amazing thing is this: Our duty should be seen as a privilege. Why? The very fact that this question is asked reveals something about us. Until recently, when life in this country was so seemingly luxurious, the believers considered it the least they could do was to serve the very one who died for them and tell His story. When you are employed, you have responsibilities to complete and if you do not complete those duties (responsibilities) in a good way, you’ll be terminated. You must fulfill your duty. In the military, you are depended on by the others you are serv-ing with to do their duty and they are depending on you. Guess what? Lives depend on it, both yours & theirs.
> Candidly, you and I doing our duty have a direct impact on lives. And not just physically life and death, but spiritual and eternal. You see, God’s only plan for the redemption of man was and is for those who have been redeemed to share the message with those who need to be redeemed.
> As I sat in an attitude of prayer, considering this message and the impact of it, here is what came to mind. Most in this room have had loved ones who died in defense of our country. They died so that we could live. We want their story to be told and their sacrifice not forgotten.
> Consider this; Jesus came, lived, died, and resurrected, so that we could live. Our God has given us the duty to tell the story. It has life and death implications.
> Why are we to be “changing lives for time and eternity?” Because of what Jesus has done for us.