GOD’S PROMISES FOR EVERY NEED: UNSAVED LOVED ONES
INTRODUCTION… The Most Important Decision You Ever Make (p)
We all make decisions. Some decisions we make are bigger than others. I was thinking about the biggest and most important decisions we make. I am pretty sure that whether or not to get married and who we marry is one of the biggest decisions we make as people. Marriage for most is the most significant relationship we have and so it is tied to children, in-laws, money, morals, and just about every aspect of life. Where we live is also a huge decision. We can choose to live where we were raised near family or go where the job takes us or we can even choose to be homeless. Tied to that is buying a home or renting or living in an apartment or living with family or “living in a van down by the river.” Where we live seems pretty important. Because we just had an election, who we vote for seems quite important because who we vote for determines the direction of the country we live in, tax levels, immigration policy, foreign policy, funding of the armed forces, and even who is appointed to different offices.
I am sure we could come up with some other big decisions. I happen to think that all of those decisions are not “the most important” decision we ever make. I believe that the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the most important decision that any person can make. That one decision has impact in eternity, but also in this life. A decision to follow Jesus impacts every other decision we make… or it should… including who we marry, how we spend money, our jobs, our friends, how we spend our time, what we find entertaining, and may even impact where we live. Jesus is an all-encompassing decision.
THE NEED OF UNSAVED LOVED ONES
Our sermon series that we are working through is “God’s Promises for Every Need.” The need that we are going to talk about this morning is a tender one. It is tender because it is tied to eternity and destiny and choices that we all make as human beings. It is tender because it is tied to our love and care and concern for other significant people in our lives. I hope you believe that the decision to follow or not follow Jesus is the most important decision you will make and also the most important decision people you love will make. It is the most important decision everyone makes.
Maybe you have already made that decision to follow Jesus.
Maybe someone you love has NOT decided to follow Jesus.
Therein lies the need and the tension and the tender issue that we will discuss today:
* What do we do when we are believers, but our spouse is not?
* What do we do when we raise our children to love Jesus, but they walk away from faith?
* What do we do when we are a Christian, but our mom or dad is not?
* What do we do when the children of our children do not believe?
* What do we do when our most significant friend is not a Christian?
It is a big deal that these people are important to us and they do not believe the same things about God and Christ that we do. This creates a fundamental difference between us. It is such a difference that the Apostle Paul warns us that if we are already Christians, we should not yoke (2 Corinthians 6:14) ourselves with non-Christians. This difference creates a need in us for them to believe in Jesus and be saved and to know that a relationship with Jesus is all important. This need can create worry, shame, concern, doubt, and guilt in us.
Let’s read from the Old Testament, from the book of Isaiah today, where God speaks through Isaiah about the salvation of others in our lives.
READ ISAIAH 56:1-8
This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for My salvation is close at hand and My righteousness will soon be revealed. 2 Blessed is the one who does this— the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps their hands from doing any evil.” 3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from His people.” And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.” 4 For this is what the Lord says: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, who choose what pleases Me and hold fast to My covenant— 5 to them I will give within My temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever. 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to Him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be His servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to My covenant— 7 these I will bring to My holy mountain and give them joy in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” 8 The Sovereign Lord declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”
This is an interesting passage, but to be honest with you, it is not as plain as it could be. It is not a story or a parable, but God is speaking to His people about those around them who are not believers. As I was looking over this passage, I noticed the condition of others, the expectations of us, and the promise.
I. THE CONDITION OF OTHERS
God speaks to Isaiah about three different types of people that His followers would come across. Each of these three groups had reasons to think that they would never be accepted by God, but God tells them differently each time.
First, we have the foreigners. These are the people who are not Hebrews. These are the people that stick out in the Promised Land among the people who belong to God. They don’t necessarily fit and aren’t sure if they will fit in with God’s people and be accepted. They dress different. They act different. God says to them that the fact that they are foreigners does not matter to Him. He says they will not be separated from Him if they join themselves with the Lord. Later in the passage God says His house is a house of prayer for all nations… for all people to come to Him.
You and I who are believers should take note. There may be people in our lives who say things like, “I don’t fit in at church” or “Church people are not like me” or “God doesn’t want me.” This passage and others points out that God brings us into His family and we are accepted and belong to Him. God’s family is made up of people of all colors, walks of life, economics, and backgrounds. There is room in God’s house for every single person who wants to come.
READ 2 TIMOTHY 2:3-6
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Notice that in this passage from the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, God desires all people to be saved because Jesus Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all people. You and I need to make sure we do not think anyone is excluded from the Kingdom of God. We as a church need to make sure we treat all people equally because they are valued in the eyes of God. Each and every person has worth to our Savior. As a believer, we need to make sure that if someone says they won’t fit in with church, make sure they know it’s God they need to mold to… not people in church… God the Father draws all people unto Himself and saves them by the blood of His Son and sanctifies them by the work of His Spirit.
Second and most notably, we have the eunuchs. If you do not know what a eunuch is, I will give you a moment to ask your neighbor and they can explain it to you. I will give you a minute to explain, I promise not to cut you off mid-sentence (pun definitely intended). [pause] These are people who think that because of their background and what has happened to them that God will not accept who they are now. Some sin carries scars. Some results of sin walk with you through the door. Some sin causes addictions and breaks up families. We carry around guilt because of these things and we think that because of what we have done, God will not accept us.
God is very clear to the eunuchs and uses language that gets their attention. He literally says He will not “cut them off.” I wish God had used different words, but he doesn’t… perhaps because He wants these folks to hear Him. God says that He wants those who are damaged in His family. Those who join Him He will put His Name in them and bless them more than a family might. The promise for damaged folks is restoration that lasts into eternity.
You and I who are believers need to take note. There will be people around us who say “If I walk through the door the roof will cave in” or “God doesn’t want me with all I’ve done.” That is the furthest thing from the truth. It is exactly because of what we have done and who we were that Jesus Christ came to save us. No one in this church is perfect. No one in this church is worthy of the death of Jesus. We are all unworthy. We are all in need of a savior. Some of us are just better at hiding our junk.
READ 2 PETER 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Notice that the Apostle Peter states that God desires all people to come to the place of repentance and He wants no one to die without Him. Repentance is required to receive the gift of Jesus Christ as is placing faith. As believers, we need to make sure those around us know that no one is so far from God that He cannot save them. No one has done anything so awful or is so damaged that God cannot redeem them and adopt them into His family. Anyone can abide in Christ. As believers, we need to skip any judgment that somebody is not worthy of Christ.
Third, in this passage God speaks to people who are exiles. Exiles are those of God’s people who were no longer in the Promised Land, but left because they had been unfaithful. They once were part of God’s people, but turned their backs on God and God handed them over to the kind of life they wanted. Exiles break the heart of those who are faithful because they once knew God, but now don’t seem to or want to or care. I happen to think there are many folks who fall into the category of exiles because when Jesus tells the parable of the sower… 75% fall away. That is a lot of people who accept the Gospel and then go another way.
You and I who are believers need to take note. There will be people who are around us who maybe once were Christians, but because of the draw of this world or anxiety or doubt or maybe false teaching have wandered away from faith and returned to no faith. They might even think they are Christians, but in reality are not. They might say things like “I can be a Christian and not go to church” or “I am a good person and Jesus is fine with that” or “I did the Christian thing when I was younger and I’m good now.” This passage makes it clear that when we repent, God gathers us back with His people. In fact, the word ‘gather’ is repeated 3 times in verse 8 when it comes to exiles and outcasts who are scattered all over... with repentance comes gathering back to the Lord.
READ ACTS 17:30-31
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.”
The Apostle Paul explains in this passage that repentance will get you everywhere. When you and I are faithless and let our relationship with God go by the wayside, repentance is needed. We admit we have sinned and we ask for forgiveness. The grace of God is extended to us and we are forgiven. A person who has turned away from faith and can always turn back to God as long as they are living. Repentance in this life is important because we cannot repent once this life is over.
This entire passage tells us that there is room for everyone in God’s Kingdom.
"Big House" is a song by Christian rock band Audio Adrenaline, from their 1993 album Don't Censor Me. The song reached number 1 on Christian radio and is often regarded one of the band's biggest hits of their career. It won a 1996 GMA Dove Award and received the Song of the Decade title from CCM Magazine for the 1990s.
Lyrics: All I know is a big ole house, With rooms for everyone, All I know is lots a land, Where we can play and run, All I know is you need love, And I've got a family, All I know is your all alone, So why not come with me? Come and go with me To my Father's house Come and go with me To my Father's house
It's a big big house With lots and lots a room A big big table With lots and lots of food A big big yard Where we can play football A big big house Its my Father's house.
II. THE EXPECTATIONS OF US
As I looked at this passage, I noticed that this passage is actually addressed to us… to those who are faithful to the Lord. God is speaking to believers. In my opinion, as we think about those around us who do not know God, we have a responsibility as God’s People to be a witness for Him. We are witnesses of what God has done in our lives and how He wants us to live. God’s expectations of His people are sprinkled all throughout the passage, but focus on how we act, our attitudes, and how we interact with those around us. We are salt. We are light. We are a city on a hill that witnesses to the Lord and God wants us to be His witnesses. What does this passage say?
First, we are called to maintain justice and do what is right. We are to do that so that God’s righteousness is revealed to those around us. People see God through us. People hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ through us. People see what is attractive about a relationship with Jesus Christ through our lives and our joy and our struggles.
You and I absolutely harm our witness when we do not maintain justice and do what is wrong. Because we bear the name of Jesus and we carry the Holy Spirit with us, when we willfully do wrong those who do not believe in God assume we are examples of His people. When they see no difference between us and them, the reason to accept Christ dwindles away.
Second, we are called to keep holy things holy. Twice in the passage God mentions keeping the Sabbath which means keeping holy things holy. That means choosing the things that please God and making sure our actions are in line with God’s way of living. We are to hold fast to the covenant.
You and I absolutely harm our witness when we take the things of God in our lives and let them pass off as ordinary. We harm our witness when Sunday goes from a worship day to “Sunday Fun Day” when anything is permitted. Holy things staying holy is a statement against the world and the values of the world and that we stand apart from the world because we belong to God.
God lays out for us the same expectation He lays out in other passages. Once we are followers of Jesus, He wants us to act like followers of Jesus. You and I who claim faith in Jesus Christ are examples of what abiding in Christ looks like. When people wonder about God, they first look to us to investigate our God. May we do right. May we keep holy things holy.
III. THE PROMISE
The last part of the passage that I want to focus on today is all of the promises that God makes. The passage starts out with the words “This is what the Lord says” (verse 1). God is the One speaking. The Creator is the One speaking. The Author of the Plan of Salvation is the One speaking. God is making promises and God keeps His promises. Romans 4:21 says, “be fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” Hebrews 10:23 says, “He who promised is faithful.” In this passage, God tells us over and over again what He will do. He gives four “I will” statements in this passage.
“I will give within My temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters”
“I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever”
“I will bring to My holy mountain and give them joy in My house of prayer”
“I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”
God does not promise that those we love will automatically choose Him for that is their choice. Every person has to choose if they follow Christ or not. God makes promises when we are in need because we have loved ones who have not chosen Him. God promises to be God and when they turn to Him… He will accept them. God promises that no matter who they are that He will bring them into the Kingdom. God promises that no matter what they have done, He will adopt them into His family and place His Name in them. God promises that no one is outside the influence of prayer and when they respond He will give them a place in Heaven. God promises that He will gather people to Himself no matter how far they have walked away from Him. Those are the same promises to us, by the way.
In summary: God will not give up waiting and offering salvation to anyone.
In summary: God will offer grace to all whenever they repent and turn to Him.
Our challenge then, from Isaiah 56, is to be a faithful witness, pray, and let God be God. No matter how impossible a person might be, God can do much when we pray and ask for opportunities and boldness to share the Gospel. Remember, God wants to save and redeem and give life.
* Pray that God would draw them and change their heart towards Him.
* Pray that they would be overwhelmed with the reality of God’s love and purpose for them.
* Pray that you are obedient when times to share about faith come about.
* Pray that God would send sorrow over sin and a desire to be redeemed.
For the Christian, there is no greater pleasure than that of a relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s only natural to desire the same for our loved ones. So, when those we love most reject Jesus, or ignore God, it can be a heart-wrenching reality. Particularly over the eternal consequence of such actions.
PRAYER TIME FOR UNSAVED FAMILY MEMBERS