A Church on a Mission: Gospel Boldness?

by | Feb 5, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor Chuck Holiday

Scripture: Acts 9:19-31

Paul’s witness was bold and compelling because his truth telling came with the love and humility of brokenness. He always saw himself as the biggest sinner in the room.

Transcript

If you have a Bible you can open back up to Acts chapter 9. and it’s so good to see you all again this morning, I wonder what it means for the for the salt in our lives the we who are the salt of the of the earth I wonder what it means for us to lose our taste to lose the tastiness of the salt uh Jesus said that can happen when the salt loses its taste it’s worthless and I think I’m wondering about our witness for Christ I wonder what it would look like and I think immediately our our um you know our minds go to the immorality of the church and you know we we don’t look any different than the world you know we’re just engulfed in the same sins as our neighbors and you know that what Jesus says in mind is purifying his church so that we can be a better witness for Christ now what if it’s our humility that we’ve lost it’s an interesting thing because Jesus said when they see your good works who are they going to glorify your father in Heaven there’s a difference between living our lives in a righteous way that draws attention to how good we are and how Superior we are to those around us versus living our lives in a way of loving people that makes us attractive what would it look like for the church to become tasty to lost people I think it would require Brokenness and humility along with our loving acts of service this is you know the Apostle Paul was a Street Preacher he was Fearless he was bold this is all over the passage we’re reading today and it’s all over the rest of the book of Acts which is mostly about the Apostle Paul he was a bold Fearless courageous

Street Preacher

how do you like Street Preachers

if you’re like me you run from them you try to avoid eye contact because you know we’re brothers and we we should be somehow glad for what they’re doing and supportive but man I put my head down and I I go the other way right so here’s the question how could Paul be a bold courageous Street Preacher who had an audience

why did people stay to listen

instead of running like he had the plague what was attractive about his street preaching

you know it was this was instinctive for Paul it says he got converted on the road to Damascus he was going to put these people in prison and he met Jesus and it says at once he started preaching Jesus is the son of God

he was preaching out of his own amazement

it was two it was two things that made him attractive one was his his bold clear articulation of the Gospel he was a very knowledgeable learned Bible student who unders when he saw it he saw it you know and he couldn’t unsee it he went from thinking that Jesus was an imposter

some guy seeking the attention of the world a blasphemer to understanding oh my goodness he is the son of God and all of a sudden he saw Jesus everywhere in the pages of scripture and he he just couldn’t unsee it

you know some of you can remember your early days becoming Christians you know you you had that same I’ve got to tell people I I just have to tell people and and most of you I’ve talked to and I hear this story a lot didn’t go so well didn’t go so well um why

because Paul

never forgot that Christ found him when he was an enemy

Paul knew that God didn’t find him because they were friends because he had been such a good person and he had been so diligently seeking for God Paul says I was an enemy when God found me and he and he never forgot that he was a truth teller and yet many listened and they listened I think his listeners found these two things compelling one was his knowledge and his logic that he was able to prove that Jesus was the son of God from the scriptures I mean he he knew what he was talking about he was a very intelligent articulate knowledgeable guy and and that was compelling but but that alone doesn’t win the win win the war it was that combined with verse 21 his testimony they all knew who he was yesterday and he’s somebody different today and they couldn’t deny it they knew what this guy was

and there was a sense in which wow if God can save him he could save anybody he could save me

it wasn’t just his testimony now this is the trick it wasn’t just his testimony of what he was a day before he got converted but but because a lot of us start that way but how did he hold on to that that humility that Brokenness that that knowing who he really was how did he hold on to that as he become became a leader of the Christian the leader of the Christian church so we want to we want to look at that today because because Paul speaks with the humility of a broken man who knows how wrong he has been when you speak of Jesus do you speak with that energy

I think most of the time we find ourselves speaking with the energy of people who know more than the person we’re talking to the energy is one of superiority of of speaking from the higher place oh yeah I once thought like you but now I understand you know people can they’re not just hearing our words they’re they’re feeling the tone they’re feeling the energy of our hearts whether we’re speaking down to them or whether we’re speaking as fellow sinners traveling the same road of broken humility

Paul spoke with the humility of a broken man who who knows how wrong he has been not the arrogance the one who knows he’s right keenly aware of how much harm he had done he had put men and women innocent men and women in prison he had dragged them out of their homes in front of their children and put them in jail and when when the vote was cast whether we put them to death or not he voted for death

he had the blood of many innocent people on his hands Penny and he spoke as one who knew that about himself I am capable of doing that much harm that’s who I am and whether he said it or whether he just felt it people could feel the energy it was truth in love it was gospel boldness it wasn’t human boldness it wasn’t human courage it was gospel boldness and my friends that’s what we need right

you know I feel like we’re gonna it’s gonna get real real uncomfortable here for a few minutes so hang in there with me okay but you know we’ve been preaching on on the book of Acts for five months now the church on Mission David’s been doing a wonderful job leading his son Sunday by Sunday the church on Mission now my question is it’s just simple how are you doing it’s been five months now we’ve been talking about this every Sunday

God didn’t leave us here to do church he left the church here to do mission how are you doing I mean can we just have a reality check how are we doing you know it’s the most dangerous thing in the world to preach and hear sermons that don’t change us

if it doesn’t change us it hardens us

how is it changing us

well I’m going to tell you it hasn’t changed me much

I’ll be the first Lord help me and I’ve preached some of the sermons you think it’s convicting for you to to listen to a sermon and not change

try preaching the sermon and not changing

James says it’s not a good thing for a man who looks in the mirror and walks away and forgets what he saw

okay so I don’t I’m not gonna now we could go two ways right now right I could Beach up for the next 20 minutes make you feel worse than you already feel or we could ask the question what prevents us what keeps us from doing what we know we’re supposed to do and what we want to do what prevents us

can I just offer a few things you may have more to your list but I think it’s worth us pausing right now and just asking that question honestly what what prevents me from reaching out to my neighbor what prevents me from talking to the guy at work what prevents me what stops me well at the top of my list probably there’s two there’s two there’s two categories to this as I think this through for myself one of the sins of the Flesh and the other are the sins of spiritual Pride okay let’s talk about the sins of the flesh first the top of top of the list for me in my mind this week was fear okay afraid of what people think of me is that fit for anybody I don’t want to look like that Street Preacher okay fear of what people will think of us fear of being disliked or excluded you know I don’t want my neighbors to go inside when they see me walk out to water my lawn right that hurts if you’re of disappointment and failure I mean I I am really really resistant to doing things that might not work I mean I I can work hard if I feel like success is at the end of the path but boy I I really have a hard time sticking with something that I don’t think is going to go anywhere there’s not going to be a return and I can get overwhelmed with discouragement with trying to think that God’s actually going to use my witness to do something to make a difference and what’s worse than that is people who I think got saved to turn out to fall away and I was disillusioned I was I was tricked I was excited I had I had the wild party for my loss neighbors and and then you know a month later they don’t want to talk to me I was like well what happened I hate this appointment I’m afraid of disappointment uh I’ll tell you another one I’m afraid of doing it poorly

you know and I say that you know as one who spent you know most of my life learning how to do it I I probably know more than most of you do about the right way to do it the right things to say not because I’m smarter but I’ve I’ve just been my job and I still am afraid that I’m going to do it poorly you know you know a lot of times I say to husbands and if we’re talking about what it would look like for them to love their families better you know this is my favorite phrase I say look guys if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing poorly

you just gotta do it the best you can do and you know you can’t do it right but the worst thing you can do is to do nothing

my friends I’d say that’s true about our witness for Christ if it’s worth doing it is worth doing poorly just do what you can do and you’ll get better Dwight Moody who is a great evangelist back in the last century early part of the last century one time he was uh you know talking about his plan of evangelism and training people to do evangelism and a lady confronted him afterwards and said well you know I just don’t like your plan I you know I just feel like there’s a better way to do it and you know it feels too canned and you know and he said well I’m not crazy about my plan either what’s your plan I said well I don’t I don’t have a plan and he said I like my plan better than I like your plan

okay fear if okay fears at the top of my list of why why I don’t do it the second one is is a hard one it’s in indifference it’s the sin of indifference at the end of the day can you admit that the plight of the Lost just doesn’t really keep you awake at night the fact that there are lost souls in your life in isolation from God’s loving friendship they have no sense of his purpose for their lives they’re they’re isolated from from The Father’s Love and purpose and and I’m and I can just get about my day without it really overwhelming me

my indifference to people who are dying without hope

but here’s even more my indifference to God’s passion to save them the people that you and I are indifferent to God’s heart is breaking for them

and he’s asking us to say speak to them indifference indifference to God’s glory

you know John Piper says evangelism exists because worship doesn’t

can you can you envision the day when the knowledge of the Lord will cover the Earth like the waters cover the sea it’s Isaiah’s promise

well how indifferent can we be to the fact that the worship of of the Lord is not worldwide yet God’s glory is being diminished it’s it’s and and we’re okay with God’s glory being haphazard in the world partial when his desire is forth to cover the Earth that all men will know what a great God he is a good and gracious King that people will know he’s a good and gracious King we can be indifferent to that I’ll add you a third one okay fear indifference this was mayor harder for you to to find in your heart but I it might be there it is in mine bitterness bitterness you know I have neighbors that I just really am bitter toward I don’t like them

I just don’t like them they’re they’re offensive they’re rude they seem disinterested in me they’ve yelled at my grandkids you know bitterness

we don’t like the bitters that’s a harsh word but you know maybe you can find someplace in your heart where you do just kind of feel some sort of way towards some people in your life you really don’t care that much if they find Jesus but here’s here’s a harder one bitterness against God

what

are you aware of how God has disappointed you

where he hasn’t answered the prayers that you feel entitled for him to answer are you aware of that pardon your heart sometimes you have to dig deep to find that place of bitterness toward God but my friends the Bible says it’s true of all of us we are enemies of God

there is a place of entitlement in our hearts that feels that we didn’t get what we deserved and we got garbage to deal with that we did not deserve at all that somehow it found its way to our front door and we didn’t do anything to deserve this well wherever bitterness hides itself in our hearts bitterness towards God you know where it’s going to show up

in our refusal to do what he asks us to do

that’s that’s I’m not going to spend more time on that you might not be ready to hear that but the Bible says that’s the truth let me give you one more reason it’s I find I mean I can find it sometimes in my heart it’s that’s probably the hardest one to admit okay but let me give you the fourth one our addictions keep us from being about the father’s business our addictions they’ve captured us and they’ve numbed us drinking drugs pornography dining out sports and recreation I mean it can be bad things and good things but what are the things that have captivated you TV shopping I mean it can be lots of things uh how do you settle yourself before you get to bed at night how do you settle yourself

how do you deal with your anxieties how do you deal with your sense of of pain how do you numb yourself to the to the painful parts of your existence our addictions can creep in and they can just completely numb us from being and doing what we would want to do they take away our life and when they take away our life they take away our desire to tell people about Jesus we’ve become too numb that’s a that’s a tough list okay and you might find more it’s not exhaustive those are just the ones that came to me as I looked at my own heart this week but those aren’t even the tough ones okay if we stop there I I you know I could say a few more words and we could all go out here and be really bad I mean feel terrible about ourselves and ask God for mercy and resolve to go do better this week my friends that would be the worst thing I could do to you because some of you would do better this week

some of you would be more discouraged next week because you didn’t couldn’t do anything and some of you would go out and feel pretty darn good about yourselves because you changed and then you’re stuck with the worst sin of all the sin of spiritual Pride my friends the worst thing we could do as a church is resolve to be better Witnesses right now that would be a catastrophe

what are the sins of spiritual Pride that ruin our witness for Jesus

I mean it’s terrible that we don’t do it but what’s even worse is how we do it when we do it

when we do it from a place of spiritual Pride

spiritual Pride just means self-reliance and self-exaltation that comes along with spiritual Reliance First the first on my list is our obsession with Counting

when we need to know how are we doing that is the sin of spiritual Pride we count members in our churches we we count the money in our budget we count the number of churches we plant um accounting is a horrible sin now there’s a place to count but but um the worst sin David committed in the Old Testament wasn’t his murder and it wasn’t his adultery it was the sin of counting at the end of his life it was the sin of counting

our obsession with buildings and programs that make us feel better about how we’re doing and and I’m absolutely in favor of our building program you know I 100 percent believe it’s what God wants us to do but my friends it’s never going to be about the building it’s about what happens in the building it’s about what happens because we have a building because we have programs

and and you know the sin of spiritual pride is ultimately about our dedication to duty and obedience

if we if we if we if we deal with the conviction of the holy spirit for our lack of witnessing with a resolve to do better and we do it because God has asked us to do it and because he’s called us to do it

you know what we’re going to be

we’re going to be the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 23. that Jesus spoke to and let me just read it to you because it’s pretty convicting at least you know this Pharisee finds it convicting woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees you Hypocrites you travel over land and sea to win a single convert and when he becomes one you make him twice as much a son of Hell As You Are

I said well that’s the Jews that’s not Christians my friends this is religious people

this is God’s word to religious people he said you people who don’t care about the Lost you’re not doing well but he said but let me talk to you who’ve given your life to winning the Lost and feel better about yourselves because you do

feel Superior because you do feel like now you’re a friend of God because you’re doing what he asked you to do let me talk to you for a minute he said you are infecting everybody you reach with the sin of spiritual Pride that is the sin that will keep them from heaven not the sin that will bring them in

so my friends you know JD Salinger this this is at the heart of why people won’t listen to us why won’t people listen to the Street Preacher when they listen to the Apostle Paul why JD Salinger in in Franny and Zoe says as a simple matter of logic there’s no difference at all that I can see between the man who’s greedy for material treasure or even intellectual treasure in the man who’s greedy for Spiritual treasure as you say Treasures treasure and it seems to me that 90 of all the world-hating saints in history were just as acquisitive and unattractive basically as the rest of us

do you get what he’s saying he’s saying Christians who are determined to be Godly

are unattractive people

who are trying to accumulate spiritual treasure

are very unattractive people because they’re not loving people what they’re loving is their own reputations their own view of themselves as being righteous good people

and it’s unattractive because it’s full of pride and a sense of superiority so my friends what are we to do what are we to do

pray

pray and our prayers need to start with confession you know we’re going to pray in a few minutes and one of the things we’re going to pray is we’re going to ask God to forgive us for the things that we’ve done that we ought not to have done and then we’re going to pray and ask God to forgive us for the things that we have not done that we ought to have done so for today can you think of anything that you ought to have done that you haven’t done you know let’s let the Holy Spirit hear our help us pray that prayer Lord we haven’t witnessed we haven’t cared we’ve been blocked by fear we’ve been blocked by indifference we’ve been blocked by our addictions

it starts with prayer not it doesn’t start with praying for the lost people around us it starts with praying confessions of Our Own Lord we are the enemies of Christ and then it’s praying for our neighbor praying we don’t you don’t know what to do I don’t know what to do but it starts with praying and it starts God give me a love for the people I don’t love

and then praying for ourselves in our church praying that God would restore to our hearts what’s amazing about Grace you know it’s interesting in in Acts chapter 7 when Peter Paul is there when they’re stoning Stephen in in Stephen gets his vision of Jesus standing from his throne you know Jesus is saying I’m going to do something Stephen I’m going to do something and and Saul’s there and then the next thing we say about Saul is God meets him on the road Jesus says Saul why are you persecuting me and Saul gets converted how does Jesus deal with his enemies

Saul was the most hated despised feared man in Palestine how does Jesus deal with his enemies he makes them his friends

you know when we when we see Jesus getting off his throne to do something we would expect him to wipe soft from the face of the Earth

Jesus said no I have another plan I’m going to save him I’m going to forgive him of all his sins

and I’m going to give him a new life now contrast how Jesus treats his enemies with how the disciples treated Saul when they found out he got saved in chapter 9 verse 26 when when Saul finally got to Jerusalem what did the disciples do they avoided him they were all afraid of him not believing that he really was a disciple

they they were afraid for good reason and they avoided him and they didn’t believe that God could save him they treated them the same way we treat our neighbors the ones we don’t like the ones who are despicable the ones who are mean and hateful

God says I I still love him

and I’m going to save him Paul never forgot that he was an enemy Romans 5 10 he says for when we were enemies Christ died for us Saul of Tarsus the most feared-hated man in Palestine became a friend of God it’s my friends as as we close who do you hate

because that might be the one that God has called you to who do you hate so I don’t hate anybody I’ve got nothing but love in my heart for the world okay let me ask it a different way who do you avoid

who who is it that if their kid ended up in jail something in your heart would kind of find a little bit of pleasure in that or if they won the lottery you’d be a little disappointed who’s that person you know when you’re walking your dog and you see him you know you go the other way who’s that person maybe that’s the one maybe that’s the one that God’s called you to so my friends will you will you um will you join me in just praying that God will forgive us and that God will help us and God will remind us that we were the enemies that God found and rescued and he’s asked us to help rescue others Lord help us amen

 

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