4-19-15 “Can I Get a Witness”

“Can I Get A Witness” Sermon preached at Lake Murray Presbyterian 4-19-15 by Dr. J. Ben Sloan based on Lk. 24; Acts 1:8

For a video of this sermon, click here; https://youtu.be/24qzqrFR5Nc

?CAN I GET A WITNESS???? Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:8

Have you ever wanted to tell someone something ? and you were just about to burst at the seams to tell them? I remember feeling that way when my grandchildren were born. I wanted to put it on Facebook, put it on the internet, tell the world- I was so proud. My daughter and Kay rightly wanted to let her have control over telling her close friends first so they heard it from her. When I found out ten years ago I was coming to this church, I was so excited I wanted to tell everyone- but it had to be approved by the Committee on Ministry- which took a few weeks. It was hard to hold it in. I love to tell good news. It is worth telling. ???? The media has worked really, really hard these days at trying to tell some good news. They will put a two minute most popular segment at the end. They all do it now. NBC has ?Making a Difference.? But what we hear is that there was a shooting about a thousand miles away in California, or there was a horrific accident in Minnesota. The news brings the worst tragedies that were not heard or thought about years ago into your home and mind and the mind of your family. The news seems to be spreading bad enws- ISIS, Iran?s cleric said last week he wants death to America, Somewhere a storm destroyed homes. Now I am not saying we should not be aware of things. But my main point is that bad news travels fast. But good news does too.

  1. The Call of what we Tell is by the Resurrection and Spirit A. THE RESURRECTION CAUSES US TO TELL- The power of God over death and over life calls us to tell others. We are by nature running out of power. One day we all will. Even youths shall faint and grow weary and utterly fall the Bible says. It is not the dead love of Christ that compels us to tell others- it is the living love of Christ that compels us. If you know the risen Lord- tell someone else. The women went to tell the disciples- they didn?t care what they thought or who they were- they had something to say. The message of the women changed the world. I have some friends of mine who don?t believe women should tell anything today. I wonder if they were in that upper room and the women came to tell them Jesus was alive if they would cover their ears. B. THE SPIRIT CAUSES US TO TELL- I am going to send you what my Father has promised- but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. ? The Spirit was given to help us remember what to say and to have the right words to say. But if we refuse to tell anyone we are telling the Spirit to be quiet. Have you been doing that? Don?t quench- don?t silence the Spirit of God. Don?t rationalize Him away. Let Him speak through you and use you.

The resurrection is the original life- the Spirit is the life applied to today. II. The Content of what we Tell is Forgiveness- ?and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem.

  1. REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS- Jesus does not just offer blanket forgiveness. He offers forgiveness upon the condition of our repentance. Only He knows if we truly repent. Only He knows if we are sincere.?? Mercy is not getting what we deserve; forgiveness is getting what we don?t deserve. Nonetheless- there must be repentance, Why? If we do not repent- we are saying our sin does not matter and the cross means nothing. If we do not repent- we are saying rebelling against God is really okay- because God will forgive you anyway. If we do not repent- it not only muddies the water between right and wrong, it sucks any difference away.?? Bureau of Justice Statistics studies have found high rates of recidivism among released prisoners. One study tracked 404,638 prisoners in 30 states after their release from prison in 2005.[1] The researchers found that:

Within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested.

Within five years of release, about three-quarters (76.6 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested.

Of those prisoners who were rearrested, more than half (56.7 percent) were arrested by the end of the first year.

Property offenders were the most likely to be rearrested, with 82.1 percent of released property offenders arrested for a new crime compared with 76.9 percent of drug offenders, 73.6 percent of public order offenders and 71.3 percent of violent offenders.

Prison Fellowship found that if an inmate participates in Bible studies each week for over a year their recidivism rate goes down 66%. A different study by Baylor University found that African Americans were much less likely

to commit crime again if they participated in church services at a high rate. This, is a sign of repentance- a willingness to get their life straight and right. ?? Peter was asked after the resurrection if he loved Jesus three times- to correspond to his denial of Christ three times. Three times he was told to go feed Christ?s flock. There is no doubt Peter knew the power of repentance and forgiveness. The resurrection means that forgiveness is real. It is by his wounds that we are healed- the resurrection proves that.

III. The Context of what we Tell is Everywhere- repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached to all nations.

  1. ALL NATIONS NEED TO KNOW- All have sinned- all need forgiveness. In 1955 the missionaries left China and there were 1 million Christians there. Now many sources say there are 100 million Christians in China. The Chinese Communist party- the largest atheist group in the world only has 85 million. There are more Christians at worship now on any given Sunday in China than in Western Europe. In 15 years there will be more Christians in China than any other nation on earth. Some would have said we are wasting time sending missionaries to China. Many did. But God has once again made a way when we thought there was no way.?? Now that Cuba is opening up to the news media we have found there is a tremendous revival going on there as well. Some say that the country is so poor that there are no other distractions and people are turning to the Lord in droves. I saw that with my own eyes in 1993. Christianity may be fading in America as we are facing a crisis of faith in the churches. But it is growing by leaps and bounds in Asia, South America, and Africa. The Great commission is for all the nations. But you and I are called to be missionaries around us. We should be embarrassed that the Chinese, the Koreans, some from Africa are learning English so they can come to the United States to help spread the gospel here because the church has not done its job
  2. The spreading flame- starts in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria- to the ends of the earth. Jesus clearly said, ?Go into all the world and make disciples.? But where were the disciples 20 years later? They were in Jerusalem for the most part. There are a few stories of Stephen and Philip and Peter going out- but most of the 11 stayed right there in the city. Do you know what made them move? The Roman government. For in 70 AD the Romans came and tried to kill every Jew in Jerusalem. They had to leave. To me, it was almost like Jesus said, ?I told you to get out of the nest and you just snuggled in deeper and deeper until I made you go.? Sometimes God wants us out of the nest- out of our comfort zones to do something for Him.?? Last week I talked about ?waiting on the Lord.? Well that advice is balanced out. The disciples were to wait on God until He met with them and told them what to do. God opened a door for them and they just stood there staring at it. God will open doors for you. That is not the time to wait or the time to make up excuses. Your door may be different from mine- but the living God will open a door for you- then you must go through it. God called Moses- he said that he stuttered too much to speak to Pharaoh- pick someone else; God called Gideon- he said he was of the poorest family in the smallest clan- how could he do anything? God called Jeremiah- he said he was too young; God called Zechariah to have John the Baptist- he said he was too old. God called Samuel as a young boy- and he said, ?Speak Lord for your servant is listening.? Are you listening to His call to speak up for Him? God called Paul despite his persecuting Christians- the resurrected Lord showed the power of repentance and forgiveness with Paul. God called Isaiah and he said, ?Here am I send me.? God called the disciples and they dropped their nets and followed Him. A lifeway study found that while 81% think that Christians should invite people to Jesus and to church- almost half (48%) did not invite a single person in the last six months. Why is the church in America dying? We have the power and the Spirit and we are keeping it to ourselves. . If Christ has made a difference in your life- that is a reason- to share the power, grace, and love of Christ with another. You have good news just bursting to get out of you. ?Let it out.