How to Lead a Soul to Christ Part 3
“Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain,
and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain,
and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth
and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” James 5:17-20
Intro: Today is the third part of the worship series called “How to Lead a Soul to Christ.”
I am teaching on five simple steps to learn and use
when talking to someone about becoming a Christian.
The first one was: “SHOW THE NEED FOR SALVATION?”
We talked about the fact that most people believe they are a good moral person.
But even good people must have a relationship with Jesus Christ in order to be rewarded with heaven.
The second step was “SHARE THE GOSPEL.”
We have talked about the harvest is ripe.
Also that being too timid is just as bad as being too pushy.
So we have to find a balance between timid and pushy to start a spiritual conversation.
Today we are going to look at the third step in “How to Lead a Soul to Christ”
III. “PROCLAIM FORGIVENESS.”
Forgiveness of sin is something…, that only God can do…, through Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Forgiveness of ourselves
Forgiveness of others is also something that we must have the help of the Holy Spirit to do.
It is job of every believer, every professing church member,
It is the duty of every Christian
to be able to lead a soul…,
thru the process of understanding how available and simple it is to be forgiven of sin.
Leading a soul to Christ is the greatest joy in the spiritual life of the believer.
Let’s imagine that you have actually gone thru steps one and two.
You have “Showed the Need for Salvation”
You have “Shared the Gospel”
Now the conversation turns to the word Forgiveness.
Eugene Peterson is a pastor and author of over 30 books including the Bible Translation the Message.
He tells the story of how he had been prepared for the world and school
by memorizing, “Bless those who persecute you,” and “turn the other check.”
He says, “I don’t know how Garrison Johns knew that about me –
It must be some sixth sense bullies have.
Most afternoons after school, he would catch me and beat me up.
Also when he found out I was a Christian he began taunting me by calling me “Jesus-sissy.”
I arrived home most days bruised and humiliated.
My mother told me this had always been the way of Christians in the world
and that I had better get used to it.
She also said I was supposed to pray for him.
One day I was with seven or eight friends when Garrison caught up with us and started jabbing me.
That’s when it happened. Something snapped.
For a moment, the Bible verses disappeared from my consciousness, and I grabbed Garrison.
To my surprise and his, I was stronger than he was.
I wrestled him to the ground,
sat on his chest,
pinned his arms to the ground with me knees,
and he was helpless at my mercy.
It was too good to be true.
I hit him in the face with my fists.
It felt good, and I hit him again.
Blood spurted from his nose, a lovely crimson red in the snow.
I said to Garrison, “Say uncle.”
He wouldn’t say it. I hit him again. More blood.
Then my Christian training reasserted itself.
I said, “Say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.’”
He wouldn’t say it.
I hit him again. More blood.
I tried again. “Say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,’” and he said it.
Garrison Johns was Eugene Peterson’s first Christian convert.
I don’t personally encourage this method of Evangelism.
Everybody can laugh at that story – everybody except Garrison Johns
A Presbyterian evangelist named Alfred H. Ackley was asked by a young Jewish man
"Why should I worship a dead Jew?"
Ackley replied, But Jesus lives! He lives! I tell you. He is not dead, but lives here and now.
Jesus Christ is more alive today than ever before.
I can prove it by my own experience,
We know it by the testimony of countless thousands of others.
He lives! We have the scriptural evidence to prove it.
He lives! We have the evidence in our own heart.
Ackley was so emphatic he sat down at the piano and voiced for the first time
the words that flowed into the song. (UMH 310)
I serve a risen Savior,
he's in the world today;
I know that he is living,
whatever others say;
I see his hand of mercy,
I hear his voice of cheer,
and just the time I need him
he's always near.
He lives, he lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
along life's narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives?
He lives within my heart.
2 In all the world around me
I see his loving care,
and though my heart grows weary,
I never will despair;
I know that he is leading
through all the stormy blast,
the day of his appearing
will come at last. [Refrain]
3 Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
lift up your voice and sing
to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek him,
the help of all who find,
no other is so loving,
so good and kind. [Refrain]
So powerful were those words the young Jew became a Christian.
If we want to lead a soul to Christ
and must first be truly changed by Jesus and His Gospel, Transformed by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Like it was on the Day of Pentecost. ---50 days from Easter to Pentecost
40 days teaching.
Great Commission God make Disciples/Ascension
10 days nothing---prayer and fasting---fellowship
50th Day they received power
we must apply love by telling the transformational stories of how our own relationship with Christ changes us.
Let’s say you get thru the first two steps.
Show the Need for Salvation
Share the Gospel
And you start talking about Forgiveness
Ninety-Nine percent of the time you are going to hear something like “I just can’t.”
They say something like. Yes, I know I should be in church. But I just can’t.
The problem isn’t…, just that the person is bad…, and they need Jesus to make them good.
The problem is…, the person is dead…, and they need Jesus to make them alive again.
That is what Jesus does when he comes into your life.
If you don’t let your past die it want let you live.
You have to step out of your past in order to step into your future.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
[a] The old has gone, the new is here!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
I want you to think about the words gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
When you became a Christian from God through Christ
God gave you the ministry of reconciliation.
Everyone Christian now because God has blotted out our sins
We are given the task of reconciling other people to Him.
It is much deeper and much more personal than a command from God
Because of what God has done in us and forgiven us of it is a privilege to encourage others to do the same.
You have to let go of the old self or you will never be able to live in your new future.
If you are taking a group selfie
And you look at the picture… who do you look at first?
There can be twelve people in the picture including yourself.
And if you look good…, then you say oh, that’s a good photo.
But if your eyes are closed
Your hair is blowing in the wind.
Or your clothes make you look…., fluffy….
You say let take another picture.
We always see the worst in our self when it comes to forgiveness.
You don’t have to beg God to forgive you
God is eager,
God is ready,
God is able, God is willing and waiting to forgive you.
Romans 5:8 “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us we were yet sinners.”
God sent Jesus to die for us NOT because we were good enough
But just because he loved us.
How do you help someone accept and believe that God has forgiven their sin.
A lot of people have a problem when it comes to believing that God can/will/has forgiven their sins.
A few years ago I met a man who was highly respected in the community
He was we liked
He was one of the first persons at church and one of the last persons to leave.
As his pastor he and I often had one on one conversations:
He would say, “Preacher nobody knows the things I have done.
The people I have hurt. He would begin to cry.”
I asked him was he still doing those things?
No, it happened years ago.
But I just can’t let it go.
I have heard that thousands of times as a pastor.
There was a woman who drove a tiny ten year old Fiat.
She got a new job
Began making more money and bought a brand new Chevy Traverse
Now the difference in the width of a Fiat and Chevy Traverse is over a half foot wider.
The very first time she backed out of her drive way she heard this screeching noise
That at first sounded like it was coming from the rear of the car
then sounded like it was coming from the drivers side door of the car.
She looked and could see her mailbox right beside the front door of her car.
Instead of backing on out she pulled up.
When she got out she had two shiny pinstripes down the drivers side of her new car.
Imagine every time she goes to get in her new car she is going to hear the sound of that scratch
And see the that mark all the way down the side of her car.
Even if she takes it and gets in repainted.
She is always going to think about it every time she puts that car in revere.
When she goes to get the mail out of the mail box
She is going to think about that scrape on the mailbox on that new car.
There will always be something that will trigger her mind
that will cause her to remember that scrape down her car.
I am convinced that we have people here today in this room who have something in your past
That there is not a day that goes by without you thinking about something that happened.
Either to you.
Or you did not someone else.
There is some smell
or song that comes on the radio
and you have a flashback to that cut down the side of your life.
You can be having the best day of your life and something pops up and reminds you of your past
And you get sick to your stomach and want to throw up all over again.
It is an event in your past that you will live with.
It is not something you will forget.
But I have Good News for you today.
God created forgives because of the things we can’t forget.
Write that down---
Write this down: In Christ I am completely forgiven.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus doesn’t just partially forgive.
There is commercial on T.V. it drives me crazy.
It is the commercial for Liberty Mutual Car insurance.
I have heard it so many times it just gets on my nerves
If I have the TEVO I try to fast forward thru it every time.
It say, something like: Those other auto insurers must want you to drive around on three wheels.
But at Liberty Mutual we want to replace your whole car.
Aren’t glad that God is like that.
He doesn’t just forgive three/fourths of our sins
He forgives our whole sins.
He replaces our whole life.
He makes us completely brand new.
You don’t have to live with guilt and shame and pain.
1 Corinthians 13:5 “Love keeps no record of wrong.”
The only thing is in Christ you are completely forgiven.
Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
All of us have debts and trespasses.
But as a Christian my identity is not found in my debts and trespasses
but found in death of Jesus on the cross and my identity as a Christian is the Empty tomb of the resurrection.
And the death and resurrection of Christ is bigger than all my debts and all my trespasses combined.
In Christ I am completely forgiven.
Forgiveness is not something you achieve IT IS Something you RECEIVE!!!
There is no amount of drugs or alcohol or highs that can completely take away the problems in this world.
You can’t even be good enough
Or do enough good deeds
Or give enough just to make you feel good
that will ever take away the hurts and pains and brokenness you experience in this world.
There is only one thing that I have found that works that gets me out of my past.
When I talk about the past. We often think about the past as something that happened 10, 20 years ago.
But the past can also mean Last night as the past.
Last week as the past.
It may be something that just happened.
Or you are not even completely though yet. It is still happening.
There is probably an event or a season in your life that you wish didn’t happen.
It is either something you did or something that was done to you.
But either way the only thing that is going to get you through this is the Forgiveness of God
that comes with by having relationship with Christ.
“If God can do it for me…, and forgive my sins.
He will do it for you…, and forgive your sins.”
Some of you are probably thinking why does he keep using the same text now three weeks in a row.
It is because every time I read it I get something else out of it.
Let’s go back to the sermon text: James 5:17-20
“Elijah was a human being, even as we are.
Elijah was what? A Human being.
How was he? Just as we are.
I going to ask you to use your imagination with me for a few minutes.
Because I have never heard this thought before.
I have never seen this in any book or heard it from any other preacher but it came to me as I kept reading this verse of scripture over and over again.
“Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain,
and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain,
and the earth produced its crops.
What happens when it doesn’t rain for three and half years.
Drought. Famine. Greed. Starvation.
Elijah must have saw some pretty harsh things
as a result of God’s judgment on the wick King Ahab and Jezebel.
There were probably even some innocent people caught up in all this evil and wickedness by these to
Malevolent disgusting rulers.
They were as bad or worse than ISIS is today.
The judgment and justice of God is a whole other sermon.
But think with me what happens after three and half years of no rain
And then it pours the rain?
Again I am asking you to bare with me.
The bible says, oh, it rained and the earth produced its crops again.
That sounds all sweet and pleasant.
But remember Elijah had warned Ahab that if he did not leave Mt. Carmel before it started to rain he would never make it back to the city of Jezereel.
In 1987 a bulldozer accidentally uncovered ancient structures which led to an Archaeological dig at Jezreel.
They discovered a fortress made of well-cut boulders and stones.
The fortress enclosed an area of almost 11 acres, and defended by a steep slope to the north
and a moat 20' deep and earthen levy on the other three sides.
So Ahab was spared in his fortress on this ridge.
But like Flat Gap in the flood two years ago, I wander how many homes were destroyed by the torrential rains
The hardened ground that cause deadly flash floods.
Now again, I don’t have any evidence or proof that happened.
But if I were Elijah.
Being human as I am.
And if as a result of my pray I saw people go thirsty and hungry.
And even if as a result of prayer for it to rain people lost property by flash floods.
Kind of like Noah.
Noah was a man who found grace in the eyes of God
Noah built an Ark.
Only Noah and his family were saved on the Ark in the Flood.
After the flood Noah the earth produced its fruit again.
And Noah built a vineyard and make strong wine and Noah gets drunk.
Noah was a human just as you and I.
It would be nice not to talk about such terrible acts of sinfulness such as Noah getting drunk and laying naked in his tent.
Or Moses who became angry and murdered an Egyptian
Or David who committed adultery.
Or Simon Peter who denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.
Yea the pain of the past is something we don’t want to talk about.
But ignoring the truth doesn’t make it go away.
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth
and someone should bring that person back,
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death
and cover over a multitude of sins.” James 5:17-20
Is there something in your past that you refuse to let go of because you have never faced it.
It is not that you can’t be forgive of it.
It is you can not be forgive of it until you confess it and let go of it and turn it over to God.
Once you face the past.
(By the way the word I am looking for here is the word “Repentance”
It is a turning from the error of our ways.”
Then you are saved from death and your sins are covered by the blood of the cross.
We all need forgiveness
And we also all have people in our own lives that we need to forgive.
Forgiveness if a beautiful thing, but not everyone expresses it or demonstrates it.
A married couple was having more marital disagreements than usual.
They wanted to make their marriage work, and agreed on an idea the wife had.
For one month they planned to drop a slip of paper in what they called “the fault box.”
Each would have their own “fault box.”
They would simply write their “irritations” on a slip of paper and drop it in the respective box.
The wife was very diligent in writing her “irritations.”
Some read: “Left the lid off the jelly jar.” “Wet towels on the shower floor.”
“Dirty socks left in the floor.” On and on until the end of the month came.
At the end of the month, after dinner one evening,
they exchanged boxes and began reading one another’s “irritations.”
The husband read and reflected on each one of the wrongs he had done in his wife’s eyes.
Then his wife opened her box and began reading. TO HER AMAZEMENT,
ALL THE SLIPS OF PAPER READ THE SAME THING: “I LOVE YOU!”
Let me tell you sometimes I don’t feel forgiven.
But the facts in God’s word are bigger than the feelings in my life.
Forgiveness is not achieved it is received.
I am here today to declare your forgiveness.
I am not the judge
Only God can forgive our sin.
But I can declare the Forgiveness that is found in God Word.
God so loved the world. With such an amazing love. That he gave his only begotten son.
That whosoever, believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
When you believe those simple words.
Then you receive forgiveness.
It is that simple.
The hard part has already been done for you.
The hard part of letting go of sin was done on the cross for you.
Jesus made it so easy for you.
God created forgiveness for the things we can not forget.--bruce lee
We have been carrying around a fault box full of mistakes and sins and faults.
But Jesus has been saying I love you. I love you. I love you.
Christians we must: Show the Need for Salvation
Share the Gospel
And Proclaim Forgiveness.
We are going talk about two more very important steps on closing the deal How to Lead a Soul to Christ Part.
You don’t want to miss the next two weeks in this Worship series.
In the mean time the altar is open. The invitation is come. Come and be forgiven and start your new life today.