Summary: Second message for revival, Emmaus Baptist Church, Quinton, VA; done in costume as if Paul were the preacher. How can you compel others to live as you would want? You cannot; you can, however, love them and lead them toward the new creation.
This is astonishing! This is absolutely, totally astonishing! That you – YOU – in whom I invested so much and to whom I taught the Way so diligently, would turn away. It is just incredible. Do you not care about how hard I worked with you? Did you not think twice before you listened to somebody with a silver tongue, coming to undo everything I have done? How can this be? And what must I do, now, to compel you to come back to me? How can I make you come home?
What am I talking about? You don’t know? You don’t even understand what is at stake? Oh, this is frightening – that you do not get it -- what you are doing and what you are giving up!
Listen – what I taught you when I was here among you earlier is the Gospel. It is the only Gospel. It is the way, the truth, and the life, without which no one comes to the Father. This stuff you are getting from others – it’s, it’s – well, it’s not Gospel. It’s confusion, it’s perversion, it’s wrong! And those who teach it to you, about them I want to say -- well, because the Lord said, “Do not swear,” out of respect for the Lord I will not say what I think of them. But you – YOU have deserted the Gospel and you have deserted me. Oh, Lord God, how can I compel them to come back to the truth?
What’s that? You say you still don’t know what I am talking about? You haven’t got a clue what the issue is or why I am so upset? Well, brothers and sisters, let me give you a refresher course. Let me remind you of the fundamental truths in which we stand. Here is a quick outline of the Gospel – THE Gospel – not that garbage you have been listening to.
Oh, I am so frustrated! I could just wish those who have messed with you would … would … would do something drastic to themselves!
But now, the quick outline of the Gospel. This is what we live by, this is what I have taught you. If only I could just force you, compel you, to follow this:
First of all, we are sinners. Sinners, all of us. That is, because our minds constantly turn away from God and we follow the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have cut off the fellowship God wants. We have created a huge gap between ourselves and our Creator, and we cannot bridge that gap ourselves. We cannot undo what we have done. We cannot be good enough to make right all the wrong we have done.
However, God, who is rich in mercy, even while we were yet sinners, poured Himself into the life of Jesus of Nazareth, came to live among us, came to taste life as we live it, came not only to teach us how to live, but, more profoundly, came to die for us. Dying for our sins, giving Himself as a sacrifice for the wrongheaded and the spirit-broken, Jesus Christ came to bring us back to the Father.
So that what you and I must do is to trust Christ for forgiveness. We must trust the gift of God expressed in Jesus, sufficient to reconcile us with Him. Yes, that is mysterious. Yes, that is hard to understand. But, brothers and sisters, it is also so clear and so simple, so straightforward that we miss it! We don’t see it because we want to muddy it up with vain philosophies and pointless arguments. We want to make it complicated. Oh, how can I compel you to accept this? How can I persuade you that this is the truth, the greatest truth there is? How?
I shall not only point out what I want you to hang on to, but I shall also highlight how the old way of life has been destroyed … you could even say that like Christ Himself, the old way of life has been crucified. And so, now, I am the freest of men, because it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Do you see? This is all-important.
I have taught you this before. You and I need our fellowship with God to be restored, because we have broken it; God has in Jesus Christ provided a way, through His sacrificial death, so that we can grasp how profoundly God loves us. And then we just come home. That’s it. That’s all. We just come home, and live in Christ. Free. FREE! You must believe this! I insist on it! How can I compel you to believe this?!