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Turning Off The Unsaved

  • December 10th, 2009 by Pastor Darryl Curtis   |  0 Comments

            I was sitting in the coffee shop today uploading sermons to the web, and a young man was sitting behind me talking to an older woman. When their discussion turned to Christianity, my ears perked up. The young man was of the opinion that there may be a god somewhere, but he was not too enchanted with the Church or any other form of organized religion. “After all”, he opined, “don’t all of the religions teach the same thing, just with different names? How can any of them say that they are right? Since they all claim to speak for God and they all have different points of view, I doubt if any of them actually know.” 

            The older lady responded, “Well, I grew up a Methodist, but we lived on a farm and we didn’t go to church very often. My Dad said that he talked with God while he was on his tractor, and Mom said that she talked with God when she worked in her garden. I think that your relationship with God is your own personal experience.”

            The woman then related a story about some very aggressive Christians that came onto the campus where she went to college to recruit the students. The Christians’ in her story told the students that if they didn’t straighten up, they were going to hell. Not exactly an attractive pitch, and the lady wasn’t real impressed by it. She told the story in order to agree with that organized religion leaves something to be desired.

            After the woman completed her story about the zealots, she changed the subject. She asked the young man how his rehabilitation was going. I listened as they discussed his time in jail and drug rehabilitation, and that he was doing well in the twelve step program. How much better would his life have been if his parents actually knew about God and taught him to be a Christian as a child, I thought to myself.

            After they left the coffee shop, I thought about that which I learned from their conversation. In another blog I will talk about the inconsistencies in the young man’s arguments, but, you know, it is really bad form for Christians to accost non-Christians about sin. In the Gospels, the Jewish leaders were the ones that constantly chastised and rejected the common people for sinfulness, but the Jewish leaders didn’t realize that they were closer to hell that any of them. God does not appreciate people that are proud or arrogant about their personal sense of self-righteousness. Luke 18:9-14 tells us:
9 Also [Jesus] spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

            When we go out to witness for God, we ought not look down on the person to whom we are witnessing because we are such good people and the person to whom we are witnessing is a sinner. We should not hold ourselves up as an example of righteousness; neither you nor I can tell others that they have to be righteous like us to be saved, because we ourselves are not righteous. Isaiah 64:6 says:
6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
            What we can be, however, is a witness to the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ died so that sins can be forgiven, from the guttermost to the uttermost. I’m not the standard; people don’t have to be as good as me to be saved. If I can be forgiven, anyone can be forgiven, even someone as rotten as a thief hanging on a Cross next to Jesus.

            God did not authorize me to tell anyone that they are going to hell just because they aren’t saved yet. I was saved when I was twenty-seven, but there is no requirement that anyone has to be saved by their twenty-eighth birthday to go to heaven. The thief on the Cross was saved just before he died. Of course, the sooner we are saved, the better the rest of our lives will probably be.

            Jesus does not tell us to witness about righteousness, or about sinfulness, but about forgiveness. The gospel teaches that Jesus wants to forgive sins. 1John 1:8-10 tells us:
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, [Jesus Christ] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make [Jesus] a liar, and His word is not in us.
           Righteousness and sinfulness are matters with which we should deal after we are saved, but our focus to the unsaved should be forgiveness.

           The point that you should take away from this blog is that in order to effectively witness for the Lord, we need to please put away our self-righteousness and talk to the unsaved about the grace of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not of works, lest anyone should boast.

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