Summary: The inner struggle between the natural man and the Holy Spirit intensifies until you give your life to Christ.

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March 18, 2007

Morning Worship

Text: John 7:12-13; 25-44

Subject: The Inner Conflict of a Lost Soul

Title: Ripples on the Water – Part 1 in the Conflict Series

I remember now how it all began. A pebble was thrown into the pond of life of a seven-year-old boy. The occasion: Vacation Bible School at an old stucco Church of Christ one block off of South Florissant Road in Ferguson Missouri. The recipient: me! The pebble; the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Little did I know then that a seed had been planted. That had to be the beginning because I never heard the name of Jesus Christ at home except as a curse word. It wasn’t long after that I remember waking early one morning and hearing what I now realize must have been the voice of God Himself speaking three words, “Welcome my son.” I know it was God because the voice was so rich and so loving and so real. And the ripple effect began.

As a young teen I had been invited to many churches. I went to a United Pentecostal Church where they had musical instruments – guitars, drums, trumpets – and remember thinking, “How cool is this?” I went to the Methodist youth group for a while, but there was nothing there to keep me coming. I used to go but never really understood what was happening or why I was even going. One young Korean pastor at a small Presbyterian congregation used to pick a bunch of us boys up in a 52 Chevy. He was so short that he could hardly see over the steering wheel. I know he had a real heart for young people but my time there ended when he ran off the road and down an embankment and back onto the road with a car full of kids. I wasn’t quite ready to go to heaven at that point. But the ripples continued.

In my later teen years I spent a whole summer with my sister Ruby. Her husband had deserted her with four kids (thank God she met Fred) and I spent the summer helping her and watching the kids while she worked. I’m not sure how much help I was. It was then that I became familiar with the whole concept of being born again. I remember one Wednesday night going to the altar to be saved but no one ever even explained what was happening to me so it didn’t really take. But the ripples began to swell in my life.

I could go on but I want to jump about 20 years into the future. The little pebble that had been thrown into the life pond of a seven year old finally reaches a crescendo as a thirty-six year old husband and father of three girls gives in to the ripples turned tsunami and relinquishes control over his life by asking Jesus Christ into his heart.

My story is probably the life story of most Christians. The time frame and the order may vary but it all begins with a little pebble thrown into a life that causes a ripple and disrupts the norm of a life living in the world.

I want to look today at the stages of inner conflict that take place in the life of a pre-Christian that takes them to the point of decision.

Walk through the scriptures with me as we determine the stages of inner conflict as the Holy Spirit draws people to Christ.

I. MANY ARE NOT WILLING TO STIR THE POT. (12-13) 12Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. Do you know that God has placed an inner witness to Himself inside every one who has ever been born? Romans 1:18-20, “18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

That inner witness is stirred whenever the gospel message is repeated. The gospel message is the “Power of God for salvation for those who believe…” Look at what has been happening in the life of Jesus up to this point. 1) He overturned the tables in the Temple. 2) He turned water into wine at a Jewish wedding in Cana. 3) He had a conversation with Nicodemus, a Jewish teacher. 4) He went out of His way to speak the word of life to a Samaritan woman. 5) He healed a Roman official’s son in Galilee. 6) He healed a man by the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. 7) He fed five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. 8) He walked on water. Then he begins to teach that He is the true bread of life that has come down from heaven. Notice that in Jesus ministry thus far He has made contact with every segment of the population in every area of Israel. His message is for all people. The pebble is cast into the water and the ripples are disrupting the lives of everyone. People are starting to talk about Jesus. But notice that it says there was widespread “whispering”. People are talking but not too loudly. Somebody might hear them and think they are zealots. Needs are being met, lives are being changed, bodies are being healed, yet no one wants to talk openly about it. The evidence points to the reality of who Jesus is but the world resists the message. However the first pebble has been tossed and the change has begun.

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