The Crossing Community Church
“Knowing Where You’re Going”
Pastor Jim Botts
September 15th, 2002
This past week we were inundated by the images and memories from the tragedy of 9-11. Last year we were asking, “where was God on September 11th?” But this year we’re asking a different question, “Where do we go from here?”
I want to suggest three things we should have learned from the events of 9-11-01…
1. Men are capable of committing unspeakable acts of evil. We have learned not to underestimate the evil choices people can make in the name of religion.
2. God can bring good out of evil and comfort those who suffer. We’ve heard so many stories of God touching lives and bringing hope out of the ashes of destruction.
3. Our lives are frail and there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Our self-assured September 10th mindset has been challenged by the sudden and irreversible events of September 11th.
Our post 9-11 thoughts about evil, God, and our own mortality drove many people to attend religious services like never before. The same nation that kicked God out of the public schools, suddenly rallied together in prayer, proclaiming the words “God Bless America,” and we are “One Nation Under God.” But we seem to have come full circle, as evidenced by recent attempts to remove the words “One Nation Under God” from our nation’s pledge of allegiance. How quickly we forget!
The Barna research group released a study on September 3rd, 2002. They interviewed 6000 people in 48 states and concluded that…
· Immediately after the attacks, church attendance rose for several weeks, but fell back to normal levels by November.
· There were no changes in levels of individual Bible reading, church attendance, prayer, small group and/or Sunday school attendance.
· “What we saw was people who attend every once a month or two suddenly returning on a consistent basis for a month or two before falling back into their regular pattern.”
· Barna said that, “The fact that we saw no lasting impact from the most significant act of war against our country on our own soil says something about the spiritual complacency of the American public.”
We heard the wake up call, but many have reached for the snooze alarm. But that doesn’t change the reality of our human mortality…
· A total of 56,000,000 people died in 2001. That’s 106 people every minute.
· The past 5,600 years of world history have seen only 292 years of world peace. During that period there were over 14,300 wars killing 3.6 billion people…and counting.
· In the USA alone 2,400,000 people died last year. That’s 1 person every 13 seconds.
· Regardless of what you own, how smart you are, or how you look, death knows no partiality and knocks on every door. Death is not about IF but WHEN. One out of every one people will die.
The new TV show “Worst Case Scenario” is becoming very popular because it shows how to be prepared for potentially life-threatening situations. Today I want you to be prepared for life’s ultimate worst case scenario…death! Let’s start with this verse…
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test (NLT).
I have a two question self test to begin with…
1. Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you KNOW FOR CERTAIN that if you were to die today you would go to heaven? It is a yes or no question; circle the appropriate answer in your notes.
2. Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to ask you, “Why should I let you into MY heaven? What would you say? Fill in the blanks with your gut response! PAUSE!
You might say, “How can anyone really know for sure?” Here’ what the Bible says:
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you…in order that you may know that you have eternal life (NASB).
Circle the words “know” & “eternal life” [write “I can know for sure!”]
There are five truths to embrace in order to KNOW you that have eternal life…
1. IT’S A FREE GIFT (write down the word grace)
Eternal life was God’s idea. It begins & ends with Him, not us. The same God, who granted physical life to everyone in this room, also offers the free gift of eternal life.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (NNAS). Circle “free gift”
Surprise: Eternal life is a free gift. Most people believe that all religions are the same. They all teach the same thing in different ways – WRONG. Anyone who says that all religions teach the same thing is not revealing their intelligence, but their ignorance. Eternal life offered as a free gift based on God’s grace is unique to Christianity.
1. It cannot be earned: What do we call the compensation for your work? Wages! According to Romans 6:23 the only wages we can earn are the wages for our wrongs, which is death. No amount of church attendance, good living, rule keeping or deed doing could earn what is freely given.
2. It is not deserved: Our verse says that what we deserve as a result of our sins is death. But the opposite of what we deserve is what God offers as a free gift – eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it (NCV). Circle “grace” it is the exact same word as free gift.
Great news: Having a home in heaven is not the result of anything we can do. This is the fairest way for God to make heaven available on the same terms to every person.
**Can you embrace that truth?** So long as you do not really get this, you cannot have eternal life. Mark your notes if you can totally embrace this truth.
The second truth you must embrace in order to know you have eternal life is…
2. MAN IS IMPERFECT
What God says about man in the Bible, He says about you and me!
**We are sinners: Some people believe that man is inherently good, but a brief look at CNN during the evening doesn’t bear that out. We have wars, riots, crime, delinquency, murder, hatred, envy and strife. According to the Bible, all of these are the result of sin.
Romans 3:10,23 As the Scriptures say, "No one is good-- not even one…for all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard (NLT). Circle “all”
The Bible says that we ALL fall short of God’s standard. THREE WAYS: Our thoughts, words, or deeds. TWO CATAGORIES: In commission (what we’ve done wrong) and omission (what we failed to do).
Remember, if you’ve only sinned 3x per day in thought, word and deed (commission and/or omission). That’s 1,000 sins per year. Think of your age right now and multiply that by 1000. This isn’t even a 10th part of the reality of our sinfulness.
**We cannot save ourselves: It is one thing to understand that we are all imperfect sinners. But, because we are sinners, we cannot save ourselves. If you think you can earn your way to heaven, read what Jesus said about how good you would have to be...
Matthew 5:48 So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (NCV).
Broad Jump: Imagine there is a 100’ canyon between the edge of this stage and you. All the people in human history are lined up on the edge of this stage and we are going to try to jump to the other side. Some would do better than others, but none make it. The same is true for getting into heaven through our own self-effort. God accepts only perfection, so we all fall short.
Omelet: You would not make an omelet out of five good eggs and one rotten one and serve it to company. Much less can we serve up to God our lives, which have many thousands of sins and expect it to be acceptable to Him?
**Can you embrace that truth?** That being a sinner, we are a drowning persons, unable to save ourselves. Mark your notes if you can totally embrace this truth.
Let’s go from what God has said about us, to what He has said about Himself.
The third truth you must embrace in order to know you have eternal life is…
3. GOD IS PERFECT
Opinion polls tell us that 92% of Americans believe in God. Journalist Chris Stamper said that God, “looks less and less like the One true God and more and more like the star of a do-it-yourself gospel pulled off a tray at the postmodern cafeteria.” AW Tozer was right when he said, ‘what we believe about God is the most important thing about us.”
**Merciful and Loving: The Bible declares over and over that God is a loving God. He made us and desires to have a relationship with us. Event though we’ve rebelled against Him, He patiently extends His love to us. He loves us not because of what we are, but because of what He is. As wetness is intrinsic to water, so also love is intrinsic to the nature of God. The bible says that…
1 John 4:8 …God is love (NNAS).
**Because God is merciful and loving He does not want to punish us.**
**Just and Holy: The same Bible, which tells us that God loves us, also tells us that God is Just and Holy.
Exodus 34:7 I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so I do not leave sin unpunished… (NLT).
Notice the balance between God loving the person, yet having to punish the sin.
Let there be no doubt, GOD WILL PUNISH ALL SIN, He is Perfectly Just!
A few years ago in Scotland, a man murdered a member of his family. By the time he was brought to trial, the judge decided that he’d already punished himself enough, so he let him go. The public responded by calling for the Judge’s dismissal citing his responsibility for justice and upholding the law. “There is a famous quote on a courtroom wall that reads, ‘The Judge is condemned when the guilty are acquitted.” God is a Perfect Judge who will dispense perfect justice for every violation fairly.
**Because God is Just and Holy, He must punish sin.**
**Can you embrace that truth?** That God is Perfect. He wants to get close to you, but can’t get close to your sin. He has to punish sin, but does not want to punish you. Mark your notes if you can totally embrace this truth.
God’s perfection and our sinfulness created a problem only solved by Jesus Christ.
The fourth truth you must embrace in order to know you have eternal life is…
4. JESUS IS THE ANSWER
Jesus Christ is God’s answer to solving our sin problem and to maintaining His perfect justice.
He is the Infinite God-Man:
There are many opinions about Jesus Christ, but let’s hear a few of His own claims about Himself:
1. He came from heaven. John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.
2. He gives eternal life: John 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
3. He can raise the dead: John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies…
4. He will judge all mankind: Matthew 25:31-32 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word…the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us… (NASB).
God Himself came to earth and lived a perfect life among us. He paid for our sins, and purchased heaven for us: God became a man and lived the perfect life we could never have lived.
Jesus certainly taught the greatest teachings, did the mightiest miracles, but His purpose for coming was to do the greatest transaction ever made. To solve our sin problem…
This book on my hand represents every sin I’ve ever done (Rev 20:12). Every sin must be accounted for. God loves me (HAND) but hates my sin (BOOK) and must punish it. Standing between me and God are my sins - they are a very real barrier.
My empty hand represents Jesus: God sent His beloved Son into the world (LEFT HAND). Isaiah 53:6 says that God laid on Him (TRANSFER THE BOOK TO THE JESUS HAND) the sins of us all. God laid all my sins and guilt on Jesus Christ when He died on the cross. Jesus bore my sins and punishment in my place - as my substitute.
- Paid in full: God’s wrath against sin was poured out on Jesus. When the last sin was paid for Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” The word is an accounting term that means ‘Paid in full.” The debt for sin was paid. The wrath of God against sin was satisfied by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. He got the justice so we could get the mercy.
- Raised: 3 days later Jesus rose triumphantly from the dead. For 6 weeks He showed Himself alive and turned the world upside down.
He purchased a place in heaven that He offers to you as a gift.
The gift of God:
Most of my life I thought as many of you have, that I had to balance my good and bad deeds to get into heaven.
Heaven is a free gift because Christ paid it for. Jesus purchased heaven for you and me and offers it as a free gift.
The gospel is not spelled DO, there is nothing we can DO to earn or deserve eternal life, it is spelled DONE, because Jesus has DONE all that was necessary to secure eternal life in heaven for us. Eternal life is a gift of God, based on His unmerited favor or grace, not based on human performance.
GRACE is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Jesus said that few there are who take this way. Would you be one of those few?
**Can you embrace that truth?** That Jesus Christ is the God-Man who died to pay for your sins and rose form the dead. God punished Jesus for your sin. Mark your notes if you can totally embrace this truth.
The fifth truth you must embrace in order to know you have eternal life is…
5. YOU MUST TRUST CHRIST
Faith is the key that opens heaven’s door (200x in the Bible)
- Faith is not merely believing in facts:
I have many keys on my ring, they all look somewhat alike, but only one of them opens the door to my house. Believing in God or the historical facts of Christianity will not save you. The devil believes the historical facts ABOUT Jesus, but he will not be in heaven.
- Faith is not asking for help:
I bet every single person in this room has prayed a prayer in their life. “God help our finances, heal the kids, help the family.” These things are fine, but are not SAVING FAITH. Trusting the Lord for finances is financial faith. Trusting Him for family issues is family faith. These all relate to this side of eternity.
**Saving Faith: Is trusting Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. It means resting upon Christ alone and what He has done to pay for your sins and grant you eternal life.
I believe that chair exists, and that it can hold me up. But I am not sitting in it. Many people believe in Jesus the same way. He is the God-Man and He died for my sins, but they are still trying to be good enough to merit heaven. Saving faith is not saying I believe in Jesus, but resting from trying to earn eternal life.
Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life? Because this is such an important matter, let’s clarify what it involves. It means you need to:
1. Transfer your trust: from what YOU have been doing to what Jesus has done for you on His cross. The BOOK goes from one hand to the other by faith!
2. Accept Christ as your Savior: The person you’re counting on to get you into heaven is your Savior. You must make a moment of time choice to invite Christ to be your Savior.
Revelation 3:20 ’Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me (NNAS).
3. Repent of your sins: this means to turn away from what God hates and turn too Jesus to wipe them away. The word means, “to change your mind.” They are not the answer, but the problem. Jesus is not a problem, but your answer.
**Can you embrace that truth?** That you must personally trust Christ for yourself. You must invite Him into your life as your Savior, or He will not save you. Mark your notes if you can totally embrace this truth.
If this expresses the desire of your heart, then you can call on Him, asking Him for this gift right now!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and do not deserve eternal life. But, I believe that You died and rose from the dead to purchase a place in heaven for me. Lord Jesus, I invite You into my life, forgive my sins and save me. I repent of my sins and now place my trust in You alone for my salvation. I accept Your gift of eternal life. In Your name, Amen. If you trusted him from your heart, read the promise…
John 3:36 And all who believe in God’s Son have eternal life. Those who don’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them" (NLT).
Circle “have.” If you’ve transferred your trust to Jesus as your Savior, then you HAVE eternal life. If you have not, then God’s wrath remains upon you!