Why So Many False Professions?
By Bobby Blakey on January 28, 2024
Why So Many False Professions?
By Bobby Blakey on January 28, 2024
Hey, I want to talk about Romans 10:9, because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. And I love the verse, but I don't like the way that people use this verse. Because people use this verse to make it feel like, hey, if you just say it right now, if you just believe it right now, if you'll just agree that it's true right now, and they'll make it like in this moment, right now, right here, why don't you just even pray this prayer with me? Why don't you just even ask Jesus into your heart, and they'll take Romans 10:9 completely out of the context that it's in. Romans 10:9 has become like the, hey, just do it right now and you'll be safe. So tonight, we've got to look at this verse together, see what it actually is really saying. And so, I want to invite you to open up to Romans chapter 10. And we're going to look at Romans 10:5-9. If you've got a Bible, would you please open up and turn there with me, because we're going to talk about having a “salvation conversation.” And I have a passion to have these conversations with people. I don't know why you wouldn't have a passion to have conversations with people where they could end up saved by the end of the conversation. Have you ever experienced that you're talking to somebody, and they don't know who Jesus is, they don't believe that he's Lord, and that God raised him from the dead. And you get to tell them who Jesus is, you get to show them what Jesus did when he came down from heaven as the Son of God, when he died on the cross for their sin, went up on the third day, he rose from the grave with the mighty triumph, or his foes, and you're explaining to them about Jesus, and their eyes open up and they realize that Jesus could actually give them a new life and forgive them for sin. That is the best conversation I've ever had, where you get to talk to somebody, and they get saved. And so, you should want to have those conversations with people, we should all be equipped as Christians to share the good news with other people. And there is a way that that is happening today where it is totally dumbed down. And I don't want you to do that. I want you to actually be equipped to share with somebody who Jesus really is and what he did for them in a way that could change their life for eternity. So, that's why we're looking at Romans chapter 10, verses 5 to 9, and out of respect for God's word, I'm going to invite everybody, would you stand up for the public reading of Scripture? And let's give this our full and undivided attention because this is the Word of God. Start with me in Romans 10, verse 5.
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
That's the reading of God's Word, please go ahead and have your seat. And I just want to show you, if you’ve got the handout, you could pull out the little handout there in your bulletin. And I just want you to see what people are emphasizing from Romans 10:9 is they're emphasizing the action steps, they're emphasizing the personal response, at least this is the way I've heard it, maybe you've heard it this way too where it becomes about, all you’ve got to do is say this, or all you’ve got to do is pray this with me, or all you’ve got to do is agree with me that this is true. And so, what we're emphasizing today is this idea of “confess with your mouth and believe in your heart,” where like if you just do that, okay,. Now as we think through this verse, is that really where the emphasis is on this verse? Is it really about the confession and the believing or you might want to circle the content here? One, Jesus is who he is, the Lord, and then to what are we believing in our heart? Well, it's true that God raised him from the dead. So we have this idea that I can just appeal to the person, and then the person will just believe. That's what's leading a lot of our modern-day evangelistic efforts. If I could just make a strong enough pitch and a persuasive enough appeal, then that person, as soon as they say it, as soon as they think it, boom, they're saved. Almost like I can just kind of trick them right into being saved with Jesus.
Okay, now, let's just throw up some of the Greek words here. First of all, confession is the Greek word homologeo. Here, it's a verb, all right? It means “to say the same thing as when you confess that Jesus is Lord.” Who are you saying the same thing to? Are you saying the same thing as another person who is the one that gave Jesus the name that is above every name? Who is the one that exalted Jesus to the highest place? Who is the one that declared in heaven, that his Son would have all authority in heaven and on earth? It is God himself. God has made Jesus Lord. Sometimes, people will say things in evangelism like make Jesus Lord of your life. Look, Jesus is the Lord of your life, whether you make him that way or not, because God made Jesus the Lord of all of our lives. Anybody want to say amen here on a Saturday? So, to make a confession is not repeated prayer. That's not what this verse is talking about. It's acknowledging that you are living under the kingdom, under the Lordship of Jesus, the Son of God,. Who were they confessing was Lord? In the Roman Empire, who was the top guy who was the head honcho, the supreme boss? Caesar is Lord would have been the confession of the day. You say, Jesus is Lord, that's a very bold move you just made there to say Jesus is actually the boss, calling the shots and not Caesar.
Let's talk about believing in your heart. The Greek word for belief is this word pisteuo. You might have heard this verb before, but it's pisteuo. It could be translated “believe,” it could be translated “to have faith,” it could be translated “to put your trust in.” So, what you're doing is you're not agreeing with the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. You're not just thinking that two thousand years ago, it really happened on the third day that they went to the tomb, and he was not there, just as he said, because God raised him from the dead. No, it means I'm now transferring my trust from my life and me trying to live, I'm now transferring my trust to Jesus and the resurrection life that he has. I'm now putting all my faith in what's going to happen in my future, how I'm going to live right now. I'm transferring my trust to Jesus. No longer living for me. I'm putting all my hope in Jesus. So, this is not like, do this right now, and maybe it'll last forever. This is like, whoa, do you really know who Jesus is? Are you really ready to let everybody know that you're now putting yourself under the Lordship? You're submitting to the Lordship of Jesus? And then are you really transferring your trust, from you living in your own way to trusting in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ? That's what this verse is talking about here. The emphasis is not on us, the emphasis is on Jesus. And we don't understand. I mean, it's like Romans 10:9 gets pulled, and like, nobody's really talking about how there were nine chapters before that, and like, we’ve got all the way to 16 to go. It's like people just dropped this one verse like it exists in isolation.
Go back with me to Romans 9:11. Let's just review what we have learned. We have learned for weeks, we talked about in Romans 9:11, it talks about God's purpose of election. Do you see that there in the middle of the dashes of Romans 9:11? “in order that God's purpose of election might continue,” not because of works but because of him who calls. Who calls? What is God's purposeof election, God is choosing people for himself. Does anybody want to say amen to that? God, before the foundation of the world, God has chosen people that will be there at the end of all things, giving the glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. God is the one gathering of people, choosing them, electing them for himself. And then notice what it said there of him “because of him who calls.”
Go over to Romans 9:24. We did a sermon about this: “even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles.” He's calling all people, all kinds of different people. He's calling them to be safe. He calls us out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. Once we were not his people, but look at us now? We are his people. Once we had no mercy, guess what? Now we do have mercy. God's doing all of this to save people. So, what did we learn in chapter 10:9, if you were here last week? “Brothers, my heart's desire and what my prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” If you want somebody to be saved, don't go to appeal to the person. Don't go try to dumb down salvation to the lowest common denominator. So, anybody can jump over that hoop to be saved. The only person that can save anybody is God. That's what we should be thinking. And I'm praying that God would save them, I'm making my appeal that God should save them for Jesus's name to be exalted, for the resurrection power of Jesus to be seen in their lives. And then yeah, I'm going to let them know what God can do for them, and I'm going to appeal to them. But my confidence in somebody getting saved is not my pitch to them or their response. It is in the power of God to save their soul. And we're doing it the wrong way today. We're thinking, don't say anything that will offend somebody, don't come on too strong. Just make it easy. Make it light. Look it, salvation is impossible unless God is saving that person. You're not going to talk them into it. Okay? God's going to call them into it. And so, we’ve got to stop with this whole repeat this prayer after me. Look, that person has to know what they are doing in and of themselves. They have to know who Jesus is, they have to know what Jesus did in the Gospel. And they've got to be putting their full heart into following Jesus Christ. Repeating after you is not going to work. I want to strongly encourage everybody here tonight, don't ask people to repeat prayers after you. And don't tell anybody to ask Jesus into their heart, they need to get on their knees, and they need to confess that Jesus is the Lord of everybody's heart. That's what they need to say. And so, we’ve got to say it how the Bible says it.
So, let's get that down for point number one. If we're going to talk to people about what it means to be saved, we've got to “make sure that you say what the scripture says.” And you can't just take verses out of context, because they seem like, well, that'll fit in this conversation. No, we've got to figure out what is the verse actually saying, and then we need to say what the scripture says. So, I want you to have conversations with people about salvation, I want you to be able to express to somebody the good news of Jesus so that they could confess and believe and be saved. And if you're going to have that kind of conversation, you've got to know Scripture, and you've got to know how to use it.
Okay, and then let's just jump right to point number two: You’ve got to “make the gospel of Jesus clear” when you're talking to them. So, you’ve got to use Scripture to say it, and then you've got to make it clear that the emphasis is not on the person, the person you are emphasizing is Jesus, the Lord, the one that God raised from the dead. That's who you've got to make clear. Okay, so if you use the Scripture, the Scripture is able to make people wise for salvation. 2 Timothy 3:15, talks about that, James 1:21 talks about the Word which is able to save your souls, like all we need to do, we don't need to come up with modern-day methods to try to talk people into getting saved. All we need to do is say what God says. And God, through his Word, is mighty and able to save many people. And so, we’ve got to say what God says. You need to know Scripture well enough that you could teach it to somebody else, so that they could believe in Jesus. And I want to challenge you if you go to this church, if you're a part of our church family, I want to strongly encourage you, I want to challenge you, you need to be able to have a “salvation conversation” with somebody else. Can I get an amen from anybody on that?
We did this whole men's conference. It was exciting. We did this conference on maturity. One of the passages we looked at – let's all turn there, just to catch everybody else up. Let's go to Hebrews chapter 5, Hebrews chapter 5. We looked at this together as men. And he says something here that I want our whole church to consider, as we're looking at Romans 10:9 together tonight. He says, in Hebrews 5:11 about this: “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.” He's got more to say to them about Jesus, and how Jesus was made mature, or complete, or perfect through suffering, and how Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. He's got more to say, but they're not ready to hear it. They're not really listening. And then he says this in Hebrews 5:12-14. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.” Then, so it says here, “powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again, a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. How the writer of Hebrews, this guy who's preaching here in the book of Hebrews, how he feels about these Jewish people he's talking to his in his day is exactly how it is in Southern California church in our day. Hey, you know the gospel? Of course, I know the gospel, let's go share the gospel with other people. Oh, I'm not ready to do that. Why don't you tell me what the gospel is? Again, he's saying you ought to be able to teach it to somebody else. And because you can't, you are immature. That's what he's saying to those people. So, I don't know how it became acceptable for me to walk around. Like, I totally believe in Jesus, just don't ask me to ever share that with anybody else. I don't know how that became acceptable. But the truth is, it is not acceptable. And everybody, if you believe in Jesus, you should make it your goal. I want to tell other people about Jesus so they could know that he's Lord so they could know that he raised from the dead so they could transfer their trust to Jesus and be saved.
Okay, so go back with me now to Romans chapter 10, verse 9, and let's try to really see what is Paul doing here. What is the context? Because this is what really bothers me when I'm trying to study the book of Romans. And he uses some Scripture, he quotes some different Scripture here in this passage, and it took me down a lot of different things, a lot of different theories that the scholars have about why he quotes this verse, or how he's using that verse. But what is so clear, it is right here in Romans 10:5, for Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law. Okay, and then look at Romans 10:6, “but the righteousness based on faith…” So, there are two possible ways that people are trying to get righteous in this scenario. Some people are trying to get righteous by their works. And some people are trying to get righteous by their faith. And he's been drawing this distinction.
Go back to Romans 10:3, maybe you remember this from last week, that people were ignorant, the Jewish people were ignorant of the righteousness of God. They were seeking to establish their own righteousness, and they did not submit to God's righteousness. Or go back to Romans 9:32, where he said why, because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on work. So, Romans 10:9 is a verse in the middle of a section. This is really the third time in a row that Paul has made it clear, the Jews aren't really getting saved because the Jews are trying to be righteous by their works. And in contrast, the way that you really get righteous is by your faith. And so, he's emphasizing, don't make it about what you do, make it about what Jesus did. And let me tell you what Jesus did. He's the Lord. God raised him from the dead. And then what are we doing 2000 years later? We're making that verse all about here, if you just do this right now, then you will be saved. We're making it about the person's work. We're saying, save this, believe this, agree with this, and you will be saved. We are doing exactly what he's saying in Romans 10 not to do. Don't make it about what you're doing; trust in what Jesus has done. That's his whole point here. So, the first verse that he quotes, let's go through. There are three different verses here in our text that he's referring to. The first one is in there in Romans 10:5, where he says, Moses. So, something that Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. And so, let's just throw the Bible up here on the screen. That's a quote from Leviticus 18:5, “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules. If a person does them, he shall live by them. I am the Lord.” So, in the original context, God's telling Israel, don't be like the other nations, don't be like they were in Egypt because they got judged. Don't be like they are in Canaan because they got judged. You guys need to do what I tell you, so you won't get judged. Now, if you know the story of the people of Israel, did they do what God told them? Or did they get judged? Which one ended up happening, everybody? They got judged. So, I mean, by quoting Leviticus 18:5, he's bringing up the fact that God promised blessings for those who would obey his law. But actually, looking back on the history of Israel, that's not really what happened at all. Looking back on how that's worked out, we shouldn't be thinking that works work for a way to get right with God. So, he's bringing up that possibility, oh, you think you can actually keep the law? Well, that's not what the history of the Jews has shown. And so, then he quotes now from Deuteronomy, the next book of the Torah, in verse 6. So, he's making a contrast here. He used a verse to describe that idea that you could be righteous based on your works, the law, but the righteousness based on faith says, do not say in your heart who will ascend into heaven. Now, he's doing kind of a Deuteronomy mashup, which we've seen Paul do a few times now, where he's taking kind of two different verses from Deuteronomy and putting them together. The first part of it is in Deuteronomy 9:4. Let's throw that up here on the screen. Deuteronomy 9:4 where it says that very clearly “do not say in your heart,” the exact same words that he started quoting there, in verse 6, do not say in your heart after the Lord goes in, he thrusts the Canaanites out of the land, because God's going to judge them. “Don't say in your heart, it is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land.” No, don't think because you were right with God, that's why he did this. No, he did this because the Canaanites have been wicked, and it's time for them to be judged. And you know he gives the Israelites enough time., and they're going to get judged, too.
So, there's a warning, don't think that it was because of what you did. Don't think it's because of your righteousness. And so, then he goes on to quote Deuteronomy 30. And I'd like to invite everybody to turn there with me in your Bible to Deuteronomy 30:11-14. And this quote makes up the majority of our texts that we're looking at together in Romans 10. But what he does is he takes this quote that Moses gives here towards the end of the law, and he puts Jesus into this quote. So that is very interesting what Paul does with this scripture. He refers to the scripture that the Jews would have been familiar with in some ways. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 is kind of like you should respond text in the Torah, kind of like Romans 10:9 has become, a you should respond text in our day and age. And so, he's using the language of how you would respond. But then he's adding in little statements about Christ as he goes through the text. So let's look at it here in Deuteronomy 30, starting in verse 11, where it says, “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
So, see, Moses here, he's kind of calling for a response. He's been explaining to them, hey, here's God's commands, do them, and you will be blessed. Here's God's warnings, disobey God's commands, and you will be cursed. I've set before you life and death, but blessing and curses, choose life. That's kind of the whole tone of the end of Deuteronomy. And so how are you going to respond to? Are you going to do it? Or are you not going to do it? And the encouragement here is it's not impossible, the word is near you. The word is like something you could say in your mouth. The word is something you could believe in your heart. So, respond to it is the idea. Now there's even here, if you get into the context of Deuteronomy 30, there is a promise here that at some point, God's people will disobey his commands, and then they will be exiled from the land, and even after they are judged and taken out of their land, God, because he has a remnant with his people, because the Jews are his chosen people, God will bring them back to the land. There's a promise of that here. And look at verse 6. This is very interesting. In Deuteronomy 30:6, it says, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” This is kind of a prophecy now of the New Covenant. God's not just going to give you the law, he's going to do something in your heart. And he's going to put his law on your heart, and then you have a new heart, you'll have the Spirit of God within you, and now you'll respond to God in love. So, this is a very interesting passage, problem prophecies that the Jewish people will be judged and taken out of the land, and returned prophecies that God will establish a new covenant where he'll do a work in our hearts. And then it's like, so respond to that. You can do that. It's not like you’ve got to get into heaven, something impossible like that. It's not like you've got to go across the sea, something impossible like that. No, it's God's Word, respond to God's Word. It's in your mouth. It's in your heart. You should respond right now. That's what he's saying here.
Now what Paul's doing… turn back to Romans 10 with me. Now let's see how Paul takes that text and how he kind of just puts Jesus into this already familiar idea to the Jewish people. Who is Paul praying will get saved? The Jews. Who is he appealing to right here? The Jews. So, he's using a passage that they would be familiar with, like, you don't have to go to heaven, you don't have to go across the sea. You can do it right now. We'll look at how he uses that in Romans chapter 10. Starting in verse 6, he says, “Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven,” and then notice, he puts Christ in there, that is, to bring Christ down. Oh, if you do feel like it's impossible to keep the law if it's impossible to live up to God's holy standard, in fact, if all of us have fallen short of the glory of the, if all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, well, then how could we live up to God's standard? How could we ascend into heaven? Well, guess what? Jesus already came down from heaven. Or here, he does something interesting, where he doesn't say go across the sea, like Deuteronomy 30. He actually makes it the abyss, actually taking the idea of the sea to the place of like a death to the place of like this idea of an underworld. You don't have to go across the abyss, the underworld, no. And look what he says, as if to bring Christ up from the dead. Oh, if you feel like it's impossible, to do your own righteousness by works of the law. Well, guess what, you don't have to go up to heaven. Jesus already came down from heaven. You don't have to go through death, Jesus already raised from the dead. So, he's taking this Scripture that calls for response that they would have been familiar with. But he is putting the fact that Jesus came to save us and Jesus rose from the dead. He's putting that into it. And that's why he says, “because the word is near you.” That's where he goes in Romans 10:8. What does it say? “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim).” So, you can see he's saying, you guys are familiar with hearing this call to respond, will now make your response about Jesus. That's what he's doing.
So, I hope that helps you understand this passage a little bit more and see it in context. Paul is concerned for his fellow-Jews, who have made getting right with God something they can do. And he wants to make it about Jesus. And he's taking a passage that calls them to do something, and he's using that passage to highlight, Jesus has already done it. Jesus is the Lord, who came from heaven to earth on a seek-and-save mission for your soul. Jesus died in your place to pay the consequence of the wrath for your sin. Jesus paid it all, and then God raised him from the dead. That's what you should respond to. That should be in your mouth, that should be in your heart, you need to respond to Jesus. That's what he's saying. And what we have done is we've taken this beautiful verse that promises salvation in Christ, and we've said, see, you can do it right now. That's not the point. The point is much better than that. The point is you don't have to go to heaven. You don't have to die to figure this out. Jesus already came from heaven, and Jesus already died for you. You don't have to do anything. Jesus has already done it. Proclaim his name. Believe in him, stop trying to do it yourself. Stop thinking that because you said something one day about Jesus, you're now in Jesus. No, the reason you're safe is because of what Jesus did, NOT WHAT YOU DID. Do not say it's based on your righteousness, make it about the righteousness by putting your faith in Jesus Christ. Can I get an amen from anybody on this?
It's gotten so twisted where I'll meet people, and they'll say, well, I know I'm a Christian because this one day at this one crusade, or this one event, or this one church, I confessed with my mouth, and I believed in my heart, and they're saying, I know I'm a Christian, because I did something. You want to know the only reason that anybody in this room can know that they're a Christian is because Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God, and he came down and died in your place, and he rose from the dead. That's why you're a Christian. It's one hundred percent based on Jesus; it has nothing to do with us. Do not say I pray to prayer. Do not say I walked in; do not say I did anything. Just confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Put your faith in Jesus and you will be saved. It is about Jesus and it is not about us. And we need to stop making it about us. And everybody here should be going out there and making it about Jesus. Because Jesus is the Lord. And we need to stop acting like that's just what we believe is the reality of the universe that you and I live in. The reason the sun rose today is because Jesus upholds the universe by the Word of his power. Jesus is the Lord. And it doesn't matter what anybody believes. It doesn't matter even if you believe it or not, Jesus is the Lord of heaven and earth, and every knee will bow before him, every tongue will confess Jesus is. And they can act like they don't believe it's so hard, they will all bow and they will all confess it. Do not give them the ground that you are giving them, you are afraid of them, we should fear the Lord Jesus Christ. That's what we need to do. And if you have been living your life, afraid of what you would say. And if you have been living your life, afraid of what other people will think, that fear needs to stop right here tonight, because you need to go and you need to make the confession that Jesus is Lord. And you need to tell the people for the reason the hope that you have, that you put your hope in Jesus, because he rose from the dead. And that's why you've believed in him. And he's changed your life. That is a testimony, you should be ready to share at any place at any time. And so, we’ve got to go and we’ve got to start proclaiming the name of Jesus. He's taking what might have been a very common Jewish text of Scripture, the end of the Torah, Moses is called to respond. And he's saying, yeah, you should respond. But guess what, Jesus already came down, Jesus already rose, you need to respond to Jesus, not to you doing anything. That is the point of Romans 10:9, and that is how we should go and present it to other people that we know. So, all you're doing is talking to other people about Jesus. That's what I'm here to say you need if you believe in Jesus, and Jesus is your Savior, and you know that he's Lord. And you actually know, on the third day, the stone was rolled away, they went there, nobody, he wasn't there, he rose from the dead. If you know that, why would you not want to share these two truths that are highlighted right here? Why would you not want to let everybody know that Jesus is the boss? Why would you not want to tell everybody that he rose from the dead? And even if you die, you could live because of Jesus. Why would we not be spreading that news? See, we're overthinking it. Well, we’ve got to make it about the person and the person has to do this. Well, yeah, we want to call people to repent. We want to call people to believe, but we're not just trying to provoke a response in the person. We're trying to present Jesus. Jesus will provoke a response. Jesus is the most polarizing, most divisive person that has ever been brought up in the history of planet Earth. People are either one hundred percent for Jesus or they are not with Jesus at all. Jesus said, I came to bring a sword and I'll divide even households. And some will believe, and some will not believe, all we have to do is get Jesus to people. Is that what you're on a mission to do? Look at that. Look at these details with me. Let's go to the parentheses here. What is he inserting into this Deuteronomy 30:11-14 quote, because even the Bible scholars I was reading all week hold books about well, what do we do? And this guy does this with this because this is very interesting. He's quoting scripture, but then he's mashing in these statements about Jesus. So, there's this idea. It's not impossible. It's not like you have to ascend into heaven. But then he wants to say, well, didn't Christ come down from heaven. This idea of like, descending and ascending into heaven, this is very interesting. Turn with me to John 3:13, and let's think about this. Let's think about who Jesus really is. Gee, Jesus says something fascinating about this himself. This is John chapter three, verse 13. John, chapter three, verse 13. And maybe you know John 3:16. Unfortunately, the verses before John 3:16 are not as often known. So, let's look at them here. And look what Jesus says, No one has ascended into heaven, except he who descended from heaven. And then he says, The Son of Man.
So, let's get this down for point number three: We want to “make it clear who Jesus is”; there is no one else like Jesus. Somebody tries to say, well, there are many religious figures in the world. No, no, there is no one like Jesus. Jesus claimed exclusive access to the Father. He said, “I am the way I am the truth. I am the life. No one gets to the Father except through me.” That's what Jesus said. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. And his claim was so clear that they picked up stones to kill him for blasphemy. Even his enemies could see clearly what Jesus was saying because he was claiming to not be like anyone else. He was claiming to be God. He loved to use this title, the Son of Man here in John 3:13. You can write down Daniel 7:14 where one like a Son of Man comes riding on the clouds, and every eye is going to see this one riding on the clouds, and the Ancient of Days is going to give all authority to the Son of Man, he's going to crown the Son of man as Lord. Daniel 7:14 is the Son of Man. So, Jesus is saying, hey, well, no one's ascending into heaven except for the one who descended from heaven. Jesus is the Son of God who put on flesh, the incarnation. He is God one hundred percent, man one hundred percent. And after he died for your sin, and after he rose again to give you a new life, Jesus ascended back to the Father, was seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and Jesus has been exalted to the name of Lord. That is what Jesus is referring to. And then he says this, look at verse 14. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life, for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Now, has anybody been reading the book of Numbers? Anybody? A few people? A smattering. Okay, there you are. I see you. Okay. So, if you've read numbers, do you know what this is talking about here? If you read numbers 21 this week, as we were doing in our reading note where it says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” that's numbers by midbar, in the wilderness? Well, there's a story in Numbers 21:4-9 that Jesus is referring to. So, Jesus is saying, I've descended from heaven, I'm going to ascend to heaven, basically, I'm going to do the impossible things that no one else can do. Why? Because I am a God, I am the Son of God, the Son of Man. And Moses, let's turn to Numbers 21, because maybe not everybody read it. Because this story in numbers 21, one of the most fascinating stories I've ever read in just a few verses, a story that I will never be able to get out of my mind. It puts a picture in your mind that you can't unsee here in Numbers 21:4-9. And it's saying that this picture of Moses, lifting up a serpent in the wilderness is a picture of how Jesus is going to be lifted up, and everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. And so, what does that mean? Well, if you go back to numbers 21 And look at verse 5, there's a whole lot of complaining in the book of Numbers, a whole lot of speaking against God, a whole lot of speaking against Moses, and that's what they're doing here. Numbers 21:5, and the people spoke against God and against Moses, why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? There is no food and no water and we loath this worthless food. Next time your kids are complaining about dinner, just open up your Bible and read Numbers 21:6. I did that with my kids one time, and I read this, then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people. How would you like it, kids, if I threw a big ol snake on this table right now? They stopped complaining for a few minutes. Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people so that many people of Israel died. This sounds like a horror movie just broke out in the middle of the desert right here. I mean, we had grown men, we actually did this thing at the men's conference, the bros know we actually did this thing where like grown men had to put their like hand in a little tub. And like, rock solid, tough dudes at this church couldn't even touch a snake. You know what I mean? And so that's terrible. All these snakes going around biting people. And so, it says here in Numbers 21:7, the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against YHWH, against you pray to YHWH that he take away the serpents from us.” So, Moses prayed for the people and the Lord said to Moses, make a fiery serpent set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it shall live. So, Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. So, notice this is very interesting, because what do the people say? Pray to YHWH that he'll take away the snakes. We don't want the snakes. Well, God doesn't take away the snakes. But God gives the people a way to be saved from the snakes. I find this fascinating because the idea of these fiery serpents is that if one of these snakes bit you, then maybe the venom that got into you, it would feel to you like your body was on fire. So that terrible game that maybe you heard people play before when you were in junior high, would you rather die by snake bite? Or by fire? Well, Numbers 21 is like the answer is yes. Right? They're biting you. And it feels like you're on fire. That sounds terrible. And so, God says, put this serpent on this pole. So, I mean, imagine this the persons realize that they've been bitten by the snake, the persons starts to feel like they're on fire, they're going to die. And could you just imagine somebody crawling on the ground to get around the tent or get around whatever's in front of them. Because if they could just see the serpent on the pole, if they look at it, then they will live. And Jesus says, just like the serpent was lifted up, so I'm going to be lifted up.
See, we don't need to talk anybody into being saved. There's only one way that anyone gets saved. God has to open their eyes so they can see Jesus lifted up, and then they can look at him and they will live. Like people have been bitten by the serpent, people are going to die, it's going to be a fiery death. Like all the imagery is here, like he hasn't taken away that the wages of sin are death. And if you've sinned, then you surely are going to die, but between when you've sinned, and when you die, if you look to Jesus, if you see who he is, as the one that God sent, the one that God lifted up on the cross, the one that God exalted to the name of Lord, when he raised him from the dead, if your eyes can be open, and you can see Jesus, then guess what? You can live. That's what we need to tell people. Every single child growing up that you know, should know this story. Every single person should be like, hey, have you ever read the book of Numbers? Have you ever heard the crazy snake story in the book of Numbers? People are interested in crazy snake stories, they will hear you out. And you tell them the crazy snake story from the book of Numbers. And then the next thing you know, you're telling them how Jesus died on the cross. And if they would just look at Jesus paying for all of their sins, then they could live. Because everyone who believes in him has eternal life. And I'm talking to our church, and I'm saying, hey, are you equipped to have a “salvation conversation”? Are you ready to go tell other people about Jesus? But I would be remiss if I didn't stop right here and say that there are people in this room here tonight, that you have been bitten and you are going to die. And if you don't make it about Jesus, if you don't look to Jesus, if you don't transfer your trust from you trying to save yourself, and transfer your trust to Jesus being the Son of God, who came down from heaven, died in your place, rose from the dead, and then ascended back to be with the Father. If you don't look to Jesus, then you will die in your sin. That is true for every single one of us. But if you do look to Jesus, and if you can see who he really is, you will live. You will have an eternal life. Eternal life is not just going to heaven when you die. Eternal life is a relationship where you know God. And it is a higher quality of life, because you are no longer dead in your soul, but you are made alive in Christ. There are people in this room that I'm not just telling a story. I'm talking about you like you will die unless you look to Jesus and live. Why will you die in your sin when you could look to Jesus? And you’ve got to see who he is. He's the one who came from heaven, the one who returned from heaven. Jesus is Lord.
And I'll go back to Romans chapter 10. Because that's one thing that it wants to highlight that we need to make clear who is Jesus? Well, he's one of a kind. Well, there's no one like our Lord Jesus. He is the name above every other name. So, we can talk about how he came down from heaven. But God-man could talk about how he ascended into heaven, and was exalted to God's right hand as Lord. there is so much you could share with somebody about Jesus. Like, did you know Jesus did this? Did you know Jesus did that? There's a lot that you could tell people about Jesus that they may not know. And you're not trying to like persuade them or talk them into anything. You're just telling them who Jesus really is. They can't make a good confession that Jesus is Lord, if nobody tells them that Jesus is Lord. Now, go with me to the next little thing that he throws in here because he says in Romans 10:7, “Who will descend into the abyss?” Well remember in Deuteronomy, it said, “who could cross the sea?” Well, that's the idea, nobody can cross the sea. Well, who can make it through death? Well, the abyss being like this idea of like, the depths, and well, no one can make it through the depths. Oh, actually, what about the fact that we brought Christ up from the dead? Also, someone has died. It has made it through what would seem impossible to overcome death, to conquer the grave, to have life taken from you and then to be alive again. Oh, wow. So, he's inserting the resurrection. That’s the emphasis here. What does it say? Believe in your heart. In verse 9, believe in your heart. You have to believe something very specific. One of the things that I'm really concerned about, as I talk to a lot of people, is I ask them, what do you believe? What do you believe to be saved? And I don't give away answers. I just ask the question, what do you believe to be saved? Most people will say I believe God. Okay, great. Well, what do you believe about God? Well, I believe the Bible. Okay, well, what do you believe in the Bible? Oh, well, I believe Jesus. Yeah. It is very rare that when I ask somebody, what do you believe to be saved? That one of the clear things that they say to me is, well, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. That's one thing that I believe to be saved. That's where it focuses our attention. Right here. Somebody asks you, why do you think you're going to be saved? What do you believe in? If you say, I believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, you've just captured the whole thing because he can't have risen from the dead if he didn't die for our sins, and he wouldn't be risen and exalted and ascended unless he is the Lord. The resurrection should be like a very clear, specific thing that we all think of what makes me a Christian. Well, I believe Jesus rose from the dead. That's what makes me a Christian. And if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then everything else we believe is a complete waste of time. It all hinges on the fact that just like he said, on the third day, he was not there because he had risen. He's the living one who died and behold, Jesus is alive forevermore. And now Jesus, he holds the keys of death and Hades. Now Jesus decides who lives and dies. Jesus is now the judge of the living and the dead. Jesus, he has power over death, he has risen from the dead. That's who Jesus is. That's what you say right away. What makes you a Christian? I believe Jesus rose from the dead.
Let's get this down for number four: “Make it clear that you can rise with Jesus.” Make it clear, you can rise with Jesus because this is super exciting. Not only do we believe in the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus, and his ascension to the right hand of the Father, but in the resurrection is a promise that everyone who believes in Jesus will also have a life that has risen, or a new life, both a quality of life right now, where you are no longer dead in your sin, but you are alive in Jesus, and both a quantity of life where you will continue to live with Jesus, even if you die, you will live with Jesus forevermore. That's what he promised. And so, this resurrection isn't just history. It isn't just the centerpiece of what we believe, this resurrection is your whole hope for the future. This resurrection is your power to wake up tomorrow morning. This resurrection is a living hope. It's something that you can walk around in 24/7 that you can kill my body, but I will live in Jesus Christ because my Lord is risen from the dead. That's what resurrection is. I'm tired of asking people who go to church, what do you believe and nobody answers with the resurrection. How can that be? That is completely unacceptable. That should be bursting out of our mouths every chance we get. Well, you know the thing about Jesus that makes him different is he rose from the dead. Everybody should know you believe that. That is what it's all about. The biggest problem that human beings face is not climate change. It's not what the politicians are doing, it's not cancer, the biggest problem that human beings have is we are all going to die, every single one in this room, it is only a matter of time. And you will die and the people who love you, they will cry, and they will miss you and you will be dead and what will happen to you then? There is no doctor that is offering you hope for that. There is no politician that can give you a promise for that. There is no religious person that can even say they could do something about there is only one who can make you a promise that he can keep when you are dead, and his name is Jesus. And everybody you know needs to know that because everybody you know is only a matter of time till they go. And they need to know that Jesus rose from the dead and inherent in his resurrection is a promise to everyone who believes in him will experience a resurrection on to eternal life.
Go with me to Hebrews chapter 13. Hebrews chapter 13. He says something here and is a benediction at the end of his sermon when he's talked so much here for 13 chapters. He said something here Hebrews 13:20-21. “Now may the God of peace…” So, he's saying, hey, at the end of this, I want to say this kind of prayer over you guys. “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,” hey, let's talk about what God did when he raised Jesus. Does that give you hope to okay, oh, as soon as he says that I want to hear what he's going to say after that, “who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Do you see what that is saying? Because God raised Jesus from the dead. Look, look at that right there in verse 21, I am now equipped with everything good, that I may do his will because now God, through the power of the resurrection of Jesus, and God placed me into Christ. So, it's like, I've died with Christ, and I have risen with Christ, I now walk in newness of life. I'm no longer who I used to be. I'm all new me now in Jesus, and therefore, God is working in me. And he's equipping me to do everything good. And this just makes me so happy when I think about it that which is pleasing in his sight. There is no possible way that me in and of myself could do anything where God would look at me and say, that guy right there with him, I am well pleased. I would never hear that from a god, but from Jesus, and because the father was pleased with his Son. And because I've now transferred my trust from myself to Jesus, and now I have the resurrection life of Jesus. Now, I'm walking in a whole new way. Because Jesus rose from the grave, I've got a new life today. Now God can even look at me and be pleased with me because I am alive in Christ. Is that good news to anybody else here? So, this resurrection isn't just what we believe, and what we're here to proclaim. This is what we have the power now to live out every single day, that we can go and be equipped to do the good things that God wants us to do. Not because of us, but because of the resurrection of Jesus working in us. And you know anybody who needs a brand new life? I mean, you might be that person sitting here tonight. And I don't know why people would want to stay dead when they could rise with Jesus Christ. And that could be you. But I'm not asking you to try to do something. I'm not trying to persuade you. I'm not trying to manipulate you. I'm just here to tell you that Jesus really is the boss, and Jesus really did rise from the dead. And if you put your faith in him, you will not be disappointed. You will be saved is what you will be. And it will have nothing to do with you. Do not say I did this or I did that, boast in who Jesus is and boast in what Jesus did? Because that is our salvation. That's what the world needs to hear from Romans 10:9. And so, if you flip that handout over, you'll see we've got to take away questions inspired by our men's retreat this weekend where we said, hey, if you can't teach somebody else what you believe, then you are immature in what you believe. And so, we want to ask this takeaway question to every man, every woman, every person who believes in Jesus at this church, I want to ask you this question. Are you ready to have a “salvation conversation”? Are you ready to talk to somebody else about who Jesus is and what Jesus did for them? I mean, question number one, what is the verse you would be ready to use? You want to make sure you're saying what the scripture says? Do you have a verse you're ready to share with somebody? Number two, what is something about Jesus that is personally meaningful? What is something about Jesus? Is that the fact that he's Lord, is it how he died on the cross? Is it the fact that he rose? Like, what is something about Jesus that you are just in awe of. You can't believe he's like that, you can't believe he would do that to you. Is there anything about Jesus, that means something to you that you want to share with other people? Like, you would talk about your spouse, or your kid or your friend, because you were excited to know them. Once you want to share with somebody what you know about Jesus, see, if you've been living like, I don't need to talk to people about Jesus, I'm asking you to rethink that here. What do you mean, you don't need to talk to anybody about Jesus? Are you trying to tell me you don't know anybody who needs to know Jesus? Everybody here should, we should say, I want to have this conversation, I want to see somebody make a good confession, and believe I want to see somebody have their eyes open to realize that they've been bitten, and they're going to die. And they're going to go into a fiery existence. And then they could turn, and they could look, and they could live. I want to be a part of something like that. Why wouldn't all of us run out of here, like, I want to talk to somebody. That's the way we should be at this church. So, I want to ask you to really consider if you're ready to have that conversation, and we'll talk about it at our fellowship groups this week. And I also want to make an invitation, that if you know that you don't really know Jesus, and you haven't really said, Jesus is the Lord, and you haven't really transferred your trust to him rising from the dead, we would love to talk to you about that here tonight. We have been praying for you if you know right now that you need to be saved by Jesus, you have been prayed for before this service. And I'll be here up front afterwards. There'll be people at this table out here in the lobby. There are many people in this room, they would love to talk to you right now. They would drop whatever they're doing and spend the rest of the night answering any questions you have, explaining who Jesus is, and what he did, because everybody needs to be saved. And if that's you, I'm telling you, Romans chapter 10, verse 9 says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Let's pray.
Father in heaven, we just need to confess that we make it about us, and we miss the point of your Son, Jesus. Father, how ironic, how sad that even when we are talking to people about believing in Jesus, we make it about us and what we do rather than about Jesus and what he did. So, Father, I just pray for anybody here who's tried to talk to somebody about Christ, and they've tried to just tell the person do this right now. I pray that you will change our minds about that. And I pray that we'll be ready to tell people about who Jesus is when we talk to them. And Father, I pray if there's anybody here who has been deceived, and they're like, wait a minute, I thought because I did say this thing, or because I did kind of agree with this, that I was safe. Because I did that. I pray that you would open their eyes that they would be able to see clearly, nobody here saved because of what we did. We’re saved because of what Jesus did. Father, I just pray that no one here would say in their heart, well, I know I'm right, because I did this. I pray that everybody here would stand their heart. The only reason I could be right is because of Jesus, the Lord, the one risen from the dead, the Savior of my soul. I pray that Jesus will get all the glory and that we won't claim it, any of it. As a father, I pray for everybody in this room that you could turn our eyes upon Jesus. We’re a bunch of people bitten by snakes, with fire in our bones, all destined to die. Then we could look at the one who was lifted up. One bleeding on the cross. And he cried out with his last breath, it is finished, paid in full. God, I pray that you would open eyes to see Jesus tonight. That they could see who he really is. When you came down from heaven to save the one who had back into the city, your right hand, the son of man who will come riding on the clouds, and every eye will know that what we said tonight was true. Father, I pray that you would open people's eyes to look at Jesus and to live. And I pray for my brothers and sisters, that we will stop it with a well I don't know what to say, then let's go learn what to say. Well, I'm afraid of what they'll think. Well, let's be afraid of what they're going to think if they don't know Jesus. What's going to happen to them. I pray that you will change our minds. I pray for people in this room that they will stop with the excuses. Stop looking at the world, stop looking at other people, that they will turn their eyes and look at Jesus. He's the one we're here to talk about. He's the one we're here to worship. It's not about what people think about us. It is about what people think about Jesus. So let that be what we're about. Father, we pray that you will hear this prayer in heaven, that you will answer it here in our hearts. We ask you to do this in the name of Jesus, the only name that means anything. The name above all names. The Lord, the one that you raised from the dead. We asked if you will hear us in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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