Summary: With a Home Mission emphasis - this message speaks to how we can follow Christ’s instructions to begin "IN JERUSALEM"
Start Here (Pt 1)
* As an SBC church, we are now partnering with the North American Mission board in an emphasis we call “The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.” This emphasis bears the name of a godly woman named “Annie Walker Armstrong” and the receipts from this offering go to missions in North America. Annie Armstrong was & is a hero among SBC churches for her commitment to the gospel & the mission of the gospel. She would be one who would be champion the concept which the NAMB has laid before us & summed up in two words, “Start Here.” Jesus’ final words were, “you’ll be witnesses in Jerusalem.” That’s “Start Here” (Vid)
* That last phrase is sobering, “It starts with YOU!” If people are to know Jesus they must first KNOW ABOUT Him and Romans 10 asks, “How can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him?” And the answer is, ‘they cannot.’
* It is just as true today as it was in Jesus that people are divided into 2 groups, ‘those who know Christ’ and ‘those who need to know Christ.’ It was Jesus who gave us the truth that there are only 2 roads to choose from, the broad way and the narrow way. If people are to miss hell & make heaven it will be because people who know Christ “START RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE” and share Christ. The starting point is clearly ‘those who know’ making it a priority to offer Christ to those who “need to know”. It starts here and it starts now.
* (Read Acts 1:8) Today, let’s consider the one word in this verse which is calling us. That word is Jerusalem! This is a geographic location, it is an emotional location, and it is a spiritual location. Our call from the Lord to give the gospel begins with Jerusalem! I submit that many ‘believers’ in the 21st century American Church have abandoned the call to reach the people in our Jerusalem with the gospel of Christ and have replaced it with the call to reassure people with the gospel of our culture. Christ’s message is far different than the message of the culture. It is easier to offer ‘reassurance’ than it is to offer ‘regeneration.’ To “Start Here” means that we start where we are with what we have and make a priority of presenting Christ (and His gospel) to all who need it.
1. Christ calls us to personally surrender to HIM while this culture calls us to personally surrender to THEM. Some might ask, “Where does He say surrender? I’ve never heard that.” I submit that surrender is written over many pages of scripture and has many stages. Stage 1: Salvation is about surrender. The first message Jesus spoke was simply, “Repent.”
* Before Jesus, the first message of John was “Repent” and after Jesus, the first message of Peter (Acts 2) was “Repent.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Godly grief produces a grief which leads to salvation.” And Christ put the nail in the coffin when He said “Unless You Repent, You will all perish. Repentance is surrender. It is saying, “I have sinned & messed up before you Lord and I now surrender my will to yours. To surrender to an enemy is to place yourself at their mercy. Generally, they take you, their captive, and control everything you do. So to surrender (through repentance) to Christ is to become like Paul, “a slave to Christ.” Now, He control, He commands, and He directs. By the way, for those who have silently said, “I have not been an enemy of God.” The Bible says in James 4:4, “Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.” This is what we are & were before we repent of our sin, surrender to Him, & trust Him.
* We also surrender in how we live. This would be stage 2: Discipleship. Being His disciple means walking, talking, and living LIKE HIM. It’s not just “What would Jesus Do”, rather it’s “What DID Jesus Do” & then do like He did. This would mean that we recognize our divine calling to be salt and light, to be HIS “Plan A” to redeem the world, & that our lives become HIS conduit for love and truth in this world.
* For some today who have been long time member of the church, there had never been a point of true surrender, complete repentance, & allowing Christ to ‘take control.’ For others, you can clearly remember that experience (because you will never forget divesting yourself of pride, arrogance, and sin) – yet today, the Spirit of God is telling you that something has taken His place in your life. This is why the call to start here in Jerusalem has become so unimportant. Honestly, when our hearts gets cold from little sin, our Jerusalem becomes veiled.