So What’s Your Excuse?
Text: Mark 16:15; Exodus 3:1 – 4:17, Romans 1:16
By: Ken McKinley
For Sunday, Jan. 18 2009
(Read Text from Mark)
One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2009 was to share the gospel with at least one person per week. If I’m faithful in doing that it will mean that I share the gospel with 52 people this year (and no preaching on Sunday doesn’t count). I’m talking about personal evangelism. I don’t know about you all, but I think that’s a pretty good resolution, but I have a problem. Let me explain it if I may.
When I encounter someone I immediately begin to rationalize things. I say to myself, “What if this person doesn’t appreciate what I’m trying to tell them?” Or, “What if I come on to strong and turn them off towards the Gospel?” Or, “What if while I’m trying to break the ice, I have nothing in common with them and they have different interests, and they don’t like my personality?” Or what if this? Or what if that?
And maybe you’ve been in that same situation. Maybe you’ve got the same problem I have. Before you agree, let me tell you what that problem is. It’s not that I’m really worried about the things I just said, it’s that I’m worried about myself… my self image, my self esteem, my ego, and my comfort zone.
Turn with me to Exodus chapter 4:1-17 (Read).
Now it’s my prayer that we can find the answer to why we don’t work on fulfilling the Great Commission from Moses’ example.
Now prior to this passage we just read in Exodus chapter 4 God said to Moses in chapter 3 verse 8, “I have come down to deliver my people out of the hand of the Egyptians.” Chapter 2:24 tells us that God decided to do this because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And so God comes to Moses and says, “I will deliver them…” In-other-words, God is saying to Moses, “This is my battle, I will fight it, and I’m doing it because of the covenant I swore with your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I’m the One who is going to secure the victory, and it will be to my glory… but Moses you are getting the opportunity to be a part in this epic portion of history, but don’t worry about a thing Moses… I have come to deliver them!”
But look what Moses does. In chapter 3:11 he says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” “God, don’t you know that Pharaoh is one of the most powerful men on the face of the earth, and I’m just a sheep herder?” That would be like God telling you or I to go to Washington D.C. on inauguration day and telling our new President, “End abortion now, or else God will smite you down!” Can you imagine that? And so Moses says, “Who am I that I should do this?” Many years later God would explain His reasoning in 1st Corinthians 1:27 where He moved Paul to write, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” I can see God thinking: Moses, you’re exactly right, you are nothing and yes Pharaoh is a mighty king upon the earth, but don’t you remember “I have come down to deliver them, and I will be with you.”
So what happened here was that Moses got caught in false humility.
God took care of that though, Yes Moses you are weak, but I will be with you. I will help you. I have come to deliver my people.”
So with that argument shot look what Moses does next… “Ok, so when I go to Egypt who should I say sent me?” So Moses has changed his tune somewhat. Instead of asking “Who am I?” He’s asking, “Who are you God?”
And God said to Moses in verse 14, “I am who I am.” Now this is a whole lot more than Popeye saying, “I am what I am.” This is God saying, “There is nothing outside of me that determines my character; there is nothing making me what I am. I am not in the process of becoming something, I AM. I am without beginning, I am without end, I am unchanging, I am sovereign, I am omnipotent, I am omnipresent, I am omniscient.”
God goes on to tell Moses how it will go, He tells him that He will bring the Israelites out of Egypt, that He will make sure the Israelites listen to Moses, that Pharaoh will resist but will eventually give in, and that He will give the people of Israel favor with the Egyptians and that they will not go out of Egypt empty handed.
Then in chapter 4:1 Moses begins to argue again (Read). I think that this shows us that God is incredibly patient with us. God has just told Moses that the people of Israel would listen to him and then Moses says, “But what if they don’t listen to me or believe me?” You know what I would’ve said to Moses? I would’ve said something like, “Moses weren’t you listening to me? I just told you that the people of Israel WILL listen to you! Are you calling me a liar Moses, because it sure sounds like you are?”
Do you think that maybe Satan was nearby whispering in Moses ear, “Did God really say?” That’s sort of how all sin begins, we question whether or not God really said what He said. Did God really say – “The wages of sin is death?” Did God really say – “The soul that sins shall surely die?” Did God really say? Is the Great Commission for all followers of Christ? Is Jesus really the only way?
But luckily for Moses (and for us) God is patient and merciful. Instead of sending a whale to swallow Moses up and keep him in his belly for 3 days and nights, God gives Moses a couple of demonstrations. He turns his hand leprous, and then turns his staff into a serpent and back into a staff. This is God’s way of saying, “You see Moses, it’s not your ability, it’s not your speaking, it’s not really about you and what you can do. I am the one who is going to deliver my people out of Egypt.”
In verse 10 Moses gives one last excuse. He say’s “I’m not a good speaker God, I don’t think I can persuade Pharaoh to let your people go.”
You know, its funny, Moses was trying to persuade God that he was not very good with persuasion.
Moses’ argument was the same argument we can sometimes use – God should only pick people with special natural abilities to proclaim His Word. But again Moses is looking at himself rather than at God, but this time Moses tries to cover for that. Look at what he says in verse 10, “The Moses said to the Lord; ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before NOR SINCE you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” What’s he saying there? He’s saying, God I’m not a good speaker, and even since we’ve been talking, nothing has changed. If you want me to do this thing God, then you’re going to have to make me a better speaker. You’re going to have to make me more charming, better looking, more people friendly, more like Billy Graham, more like Adrian Rogers, more like John Piper, more like so and so and such and such.
But what is Moses doing? He’s doing the same thing that he’s done the entire time he was speaking with God. He was looking at his own self, his own power, his own abilities and he was judging success on what he was capable of doing.
God gives Moses an answer that ends all of his objections. “Who made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” In other words, Moses don’t you understand that the God who is the creator and sustainer of all things has already promised you success? Don’t you understand that the God who created the heavens and the earth, the maker and creator of everything has promised to go with you, and deliver His people, and He is offering to let you in on this wonderful deliverance of His people? Moses don’t you understand that the God who not only did all these things, but continues to rule and reign sovereignly over all His creation is the one who is telling you that you will indeed have success and be the means which He has chosen to deliver His people out of bondage? Don’t you understand this Moses?
Turn with me to Romans 1:16 (read). What is the power of God unto salvation? Is it our speaking ability? Is it our charm? Is our seeker sensitive worship service? Is it power point presentations? NO! It is the gospel of Christ that is the power of God unto salvation. Sure all of those things might attract people to church, all of those things might open a door for conversation, but it is the gospel that saves them, it is the gospel that will secure their place in eternity. All the slick preaching is useless and vain if the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t being presented. All the programs and performances and posturing is a waste of time if lives aren’t being changed and souls aren’t being saved.
Can you share the gospel? Can you tell someone that they are a sinner in need of a Savior, that they are an enemy of God, and that they need to be reconciled to Him in order to be forgiven of their sins and given eternal life? Can you tell someone that the only way that can happen, the only way they can be forgiven and delivered from the law of sin and death is to receive Jesus Christ for their salvation? Can you tell someone that because of our sin, and because of our transgressions against a purely holy, righteous, and just God, we are doomed for hell? God demands perfection because He Himself is perfect and we could never achieve that perfection. But God is also merciful and gracious. And in His grace He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life. Can you tell someone that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins on the cross, that He died in our place, taking our punishment, and that He was raised because of our justification?
If you can tell someone these things then you can present the gospel. You don’t have to say it exactly as I just did, you just have to present it faithfully, and true to the Bible.
God said to Moses, “I am God, I’ll provide the ends, and you Moses are just the means.” This brought Moses to reality. Look what Moses says in Exodus 4:13 (read). “God I don’t want to do it. I have no more excuses, I just don’t want to do it.”
It wasn’t until then that God became angry.
I wonder if God is angry with us today.
Jesus has told us that we are to go into the entire world and preach the gospel.
What’s your excuse? Does it hold up?
Closing Prayer and Invitation.