Sermon: The Sweetest Message Summary: There is no sweeter message than the message of rescue. God has gone to very great lengths to provide a means of rescue. God wants those who are already rescued to participate in his rescue ministry, which is why he left us the Great Commission. This means that the power of rescue is in the Gospel, but the instrument of rescue is us, the church. Know: God provides a means of rescue. The power of rescue is in the Gospel, the instrument of rescue is the church. Feel: Constrained to take some part in sharing the Gospel Do: Discuss and identify what the Gospel is, why we need it, and reflect on its centrality in the life and ministry of the church. Identify ways the church preaches and spreads the Gospel and ways it can be more effective in doing so. Text: Rom 5:6-11 Scripture Reading: 2 Pet 3:8-9 Intro: 1. You may have heard some of the emotional rescue stories from Haiti2. They keep reporting these stories, and people relish them. Why? a. There is no sweeter message than the message of rescue b. We have the greatest stories of rescue of all time 3. Think about it a. Thousands of people, in cruel bondage in foreign land, Egypt, Ex.1-15 - At the hands of a cruel despot, bent on destroying them - They cry out in pain and despair, and God hears, sends Moses - A people in cruel bondage and slavery...rescued! b. A widow and her son in a time of famine, starving - 1 Kng 17 - Only enough flour and oil for a loaf of bread, will eat it and die - But God sends a man named Elijah, flour and oil never run out - A poor widow and her son...rescued! c. A woman caught in the very act of adultery - Dragged out into public, by all rights, she should be stoned - They brought her to Jesus to see what he would say - A woman, deserving of death...rescued! d. A man, zealous for God in every respect - Rooted out heresy, the blasphemers, dragged them to jail - Had no idea he was against God instead of for God - One day, he literally saw the light, and became an ally of God - Paul, once an enemy of the Gospel...rescued! 4. This book, the Bible, is full of stories of rescue I. God has gone to great lengths to provide means of rescue (Rom 5:6-11) A. We needed rescue B. This passage demonstrates the type of God we serve 1. While we were still helpless. a. Other ways Bible expresses this idea - We were dead in our sins, Eph 2:1 - We became slaves of sin, Rom 6:6 b. We were dead, helpless, slaves of sin c. ILL: Bible often uses legal metaphors to describe it - When you sin, you cannot "un-sin" - Like when commit a crime, it is part of your record - Even if you pay the penalty, it is still on your record - Always be an ex-con, - it a stain with you forever d. Sin is on your record, you are a sinner, helpless 2. Is sin that serious? Yes... a. Rom 6:23 - Wages of sin is death b. Gen 3-4 demonstrates what kind of death this is - Not just physical death, but worst kind of death - Death that comes from alienation from God - Separated from life, love, light, etc. - Physical death soon follows c. (Is 59:2) - Sins have separated your from God - Hidden his face from you - Will not hear your prayers - Mic 3:4 - Even if you cry out to him, he won't hear d. If separated from God into eternity, what is that called? - Bible calls it several things - Outer darkness, weeping gnashing of teeth - Where the worm does not die, fire not quenched - It is a horrible, horrible existence - eternal death 3. At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly a. Christ died for sinners - One might dare to die for a good man = Person of integrity, kindness, did extraordinary deeds of kindness = Someone like Mother Teresa = Might dare to die for someone like her - But Christ died for us while we were yet sinners - Who are the sinners? US! b. Rom 3:23 - All have sinned and fallen short - Sin means to miss the mark, fall short - But can you say you never have fallen short? - (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-23) - Never fallen short? - Yes, we are all in the same boat - helpless, sinners c. Text says we are "justified" by his blood - Means to be made righteous - "Just-if-I'd never sinned" - (Jude 1:24) - Blameless/faultless through Him - (Heb 8:12) - Sins I will remember no more d. When he shed is blood, sins were washed away - They are gone gone gone - Our record is clean - Destroyed power of sin to separate us from God 4. We are saved by his life a. Jesus didn't just die on a cross for our sins b. Jesus also rose from the grave c. (1 Cor 15:20-23) - Christ is the first fruits - Point, he is the first of many presented to God - Those of us that "belong to Him" will also raised d. Jesus took care of BOTH sin and death C. What I shared with you is called the Gospel 1. Rom 1:16 - It is the power of salvation 2. 1 Cor 15:1-4 - The Gospel is the death of Jesus for our sins, burial and resurrection 3. This is what God has done D. What does God want us to do? II. God wants us to respond to the Gospel A. ILL: Like a gift - Let's say you have won a gift 1. It is a gift, because you didn't work for it or earn it 2. I say - You must come down to the bank to receive it 3. Not going to get it until you respond 4. God has specified how we are to respond B. How has God specified we respond? 1. (Rom 10:9) - Believe, Confess 2. Lk 13:3 - Repent or we will perish 3. (1 Thess 1:7-9) - Know God, Obey the Gospel 4. (Rom 6:3-6, 17-18) - Obedience from the heart to the Gospel a. Baptized into his death b. Buried with Him in baptism c. Raised to walk in newness of life d. Body of sin done away with, no longer slaves to it - Sin is what separated you from God - When obey the Gospel, he washes away sin - It is gone, done away with C. ILL: In Phoenix, a young wife & mother, Michelle responded 1. Said she had been searching for God a. Had a Jewish background, had attended Synagogue b. Had started praying at the beginning of the year for God to really show her the way c. Our timing was a God thing 2. She realized us coming was answer to her prayer 3. After she obeyed the Gospel, said, "Feels like a fresh start" 4. It is, when born of water and spirit, you are "born again" a. Born again, and into the family of God b. All things are new - New Father that has adopted you - New Savior that wash away sins - New Spirit to empower you - New Family to encourage you c. A woman, searching for direction...rescued! D. No sweeter message than the message of rescue 1. If you have not obeyed the Gospel, he wants you to today a. Right now, you are separated from God b. Nothing you can do about the sin in your life c. Let him wash away your sins 2. Water is always ready 3. If you have already done this, there is more... III. God wants us to participate in his rescue operations A. Yes, we have a part in his rescue operation B. Why weren't we whisked away to Heaven day we were saved? 1. Some of the things God calls us a. City on a hill, light of world, salt of earth - Mt 5:13-16 b. Royal priesthood proclaim God's excellencies - 1 Pet 2:9 c. Pillar and support of truth - 1 Tim 3:15 d. Body of Christ - 1 Cor 12 - Jesus was literally embodied in the flesh - In a sense, he is embodied in the church, his body - We are his eyes, hands, feet, mouth to share Gospel 2. Mk 16:15 - Go into all the world and preach the Gospel 3. We have a part in God's rescue operation a. Power of salvation in the Gospel - God's part b. Instrument of Salvation is in the Church - Our part C. The Southwest congregation in Phoenix realized this 1. They along with 85 We Care Cadre worked together 2. Result - 65 lost people...rescued a. 61 were baptized into his death b. 4 repented and were restored to Christ 3. On my team was a woman named Kay a. We agreed that if female answered the door, she talked b. Met a young mother named Renni c. Kay did the study, Renni obeyed the Gospel d. Found out this was Kay's first time doing a study! 4. On the way back received news of my Uncle Mike's cancer a. Dad asked Mike if he could share the Gospel with him b. Mike said, "I need all the help I can get" c. Mike, his wife, son, two granddaughters, grandson, and a family friend all obeyed. Daughter in law said already did d. Mike knows no matter what happens, he is okay, family is okay D. When fulfill God's desire and participate in his rescue operation... 1. Can be tiring, often emotionally and mentally tired 2. But it ended up with peace and joy Concl: 1. Truly, there is no sweeter message than the message of rescue 2. That message has been entrusted to the church...us a. This is why Cadre, which includes preachers, members, retired folks, all kinds of Christians, do campaigns with churches b. This is why Bill goes to Mongolia, some have gone to Ukraine c. Power of salvation in the Gospel, instrument of salvation is the Church - Each of you have a part in the body in making this happen - We are the body of Christ, carrying on His mission 3. There are people trapped in sin, right here, we are God's instrument of rescue a. God has entrusted the Gospel to us b. I know we don't want to bury it in the ground, right? c. Would you like for us to do more? I believe we can d. Realize it is not a one-man show, it involves the body of Christ - Jesus had Apostles, Paul had a group, always a group - The church (collective) is the body of Christ 4. I would like to refocus and renew our efforts at bring the Gospel to neighbors a. Involves mental, emotional, and spiritual preparation b. Involves prayer, involves study - what is the Gospel we need to share? - Do you remember the training clinic we did? - Some said it was one of the most positive things we did c. I want to move forward with it again - Probably need to step back and look at it again - Classes on what the Gospel is and how to present it - Can lead to campaign, weekend campaign(s) - Can lead to lifestyle of talking about the Gospel wherever you go d. Can seize the opportunities ... and make opportunities - I believe that God wants us to do both ---------------------- Small Group Notes: The Sweetest Message Summary: There is no sweeter message than the message of rescue. God has gone to very great lengths to provide a means of rescue. God wants those who are already rescued to participate in his rescue ministry, which is why he left us the Great Commission. This means that the power of rescue is in the Gospel, but the instrument of rescue is us, the church. Open: - What is the hardest separation you have had to endure? - What is the greatest and sweetest reunion you have experienced? Explore: 1. Describe the ways that we were helpless before Christ died for us. (Also see Isa 59:2; Eph 2:1 and Rom 6:6) 2. How did God take care of the sin problem? How did he take care of the problem of death? What things does this teach us about God? About ourselves? 3. What is the Gospel? What does it do for us? Describe some things that God wants us to do in response to the Gospel. (You may want to look at 1 Cor 15:1-4; Gal 2:20; Lk 9:23-26; Rom 6:3-7; etc...) 4. What is the church's role in God's rescue operation? (Mk 16:15). Apply: 5. Discuss some things about this that you find inspiring or amazing 6. What are some ways the church spreads the Gospel? How can the church be more faithful to God's mission? Prayer: (Briefly discuss love in John 3:16 and use it as a focal point for you prayer, particularly what it might mean to love as Jesus did.)
STORIES OF RESCUE FROM THE NEWS:
Everybody is calling it a miracle: an elderly woman was pulled alive and singing from the rubble in Haiti, one full week after a killer quake tore many buildings to the ground. "It was an amazing thing to witness, no one could believe she was still alive," said Sarah Wilson, of British charity Christian Aid. "It seems rescuers were communicating with her and managing to get water to her through a tube. She was singing when she emerged. Everyone clapped and cheered," she added. Now in a hospital in Florida, she says "just breathing is a pleasure."
A 23 year old carpenter was trapped for 5 days in the rubble of a hospital, nailed to the floor. "I thought it was the end," he said. "The ceiling collapsed before I even understood what happened," The top section of his bed collapsed on him, piercing through his left thigh and pinning him to the ground. But the top bunk also provided the breathing space that kept him alive - leaving him just enough to turn his chest around when the pain became unbearable. "I got so, so hungry," he said. Then, just after dawn on the fifth day, he heard 3 taps from a hammer, and he responded by tapping back 3 times with a rock. For the rest of the day, he heard a jackhammer, circular saws and pliers working. About 4 p.m., he heard a voice say, "My friend, I'm here with other friends, and we're going to get you out." Then someone lifted a slab above him and he felt a rush of warm tropical light from the afternoon sun. "Then I saw a human face, a young white man, grinning," "He said, 'Good afternoon,' and I answered, 'Thank you. Thank you.'"
Rescue teams found a 15-day-old baby alive in a crumbled house. A search and rescue team was demolishing the remains of the home of the mother, Michelene Joassaint, believing that there was no chance that her baby Elisabeth, eight days old when the quake struck on Jan. 12, could possibly be alive. The rescue team found the baby in the same bed where she was napping when the earthquake struck. The bed had fallen to the ground floor, but the baby was not even injured. "It was the mercy of God," said the mother. Ms. Joassaint was staying in a homeless camp set up on a soccer field when she learned the news. "I cried and then ran to the baby," she said. She had spent nearly half her life without food or water amid the ruins of the earthquake. "This wasn't the way Jesus wanted the baby to die," said the baby's grandfather, a 47-year-old fisherman. "Everybody knew the baby was dead, except the Lord."
HAITI'S REMARKABLE SURVIVORS
- Rico Dibrivell, early 30s - rescued after 12 days
- Wismond Exantus, 24, found after 11 days
- Emmannuel Buso, 21 - rescued after 10 days
- Marie Carida, 84 - saved after 10 days
- Mendji Bahina Sanon, 11 - trapped for eight days
- Lozama Hotteline, 25 - pulled out after seven days
- Elisabeth Joassaint, 15 days - buried for seven days, half her life
- Ena Zizi, 69 - rescued after seven days