I love the story of a man who said to his friend, “I hear you dismissed your pastor. Why?” “Because he told us we were going to hell.” “What does your new pastor say?” “He says we’re going to hell, too.” “So, what’s the difference.” “When the first pastor said it, he sounded like he was glad about it. When the new man says it, it sounds like it’s breaking his heart” (Ray Stedman). A broken heart makes all the difference. Love people into the kingdom. I’ve never heard of anyone that ushers people to Christ with an ambivalent spirit. You can mouth all the right words, say all the right Scriptures, make all the right arguments, and never see anyone come to Christ. The saying is so true, “No one cares how much you know till they know how much you care.”
In order to make the greatest impact on the people in your life for Christ, there are three needed qualities: Conviction ~ has to do with my internal compass, my heart. Love ~ my attitude towards the people whom I desperately desire to receive Christ. Respect ~ my appreciation for those whom I am passionate about accepting Christ.
#1 ~ Conviction. READ Rom. 9:1. Paul is a man of conviction. You have to care about people, and truly believe in your heart Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. When I was in high school looking for summer jobs, my father told me that if somebody calls, just tell them I can do whatever it is they are asking... I got a call from one of the farmers on the Halverstick. He wanted me to drive the old pick-up truck between the field and the barn picking up the wagons. Can you drive a stick shift, he asked. The real answer was NO, but my father had told me to say “yes.” I did not enjoy that day ~ back and forth, sweating as the gears grinded every time I shifted… at last, one last hay wagon. Back at the barn, the whole crew was gathered. One of the guys unhooked the wagon ~ the only thing left to do was put it in gear and park the truck. There must have been 6-8 guys standing around. The gear shift wouldn’t move, and I started sweating, I put extra pressure to get it to wiggle around, still it would not move…I tried to force it with more pressure, and low and behold, the gear shift suddenly detached itself and I was holding the whole stick in my hand. Convictions must be sincere, or you will be found out…
True convictions are heartfelt ~ sincere, honest, integrity.
Sincerity: Even in the Christian world, we’re good at telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. Sincerity means what you see is what you get ~ I try hard to be the same person in all situations. I have it easy because I had the best example ever in my own father…Paul is sincere…
Honesty telling the truth, not tricking people into the kingdom. The phone company called here at the church and wanted permission to conduct a survey of our phone service… I said, that’s fine, but we hardly use the church phone so I want it as basic as possible. She understood, she said, but then she went on to try and sell me internet service, inside wiring, a calling package with all sorts of cadilac features. She was not honest in her motivation in wanting the best for us, she wanted to make more sales.
In order to be an effective witness for Christ, you must truly believe Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. You must honestly care about the people you love. Sincere…
Integrity has to do with the impact of your life. Like the integrity of a tire, will it do its job, or is it getting worn out and in danger of going flat. The world is going to test your integrity//, how well will you hold up as a Christian? will you be a person of integrity, or will you lose your air and go flat, useless, not up to the job? This week, I listened to a woman that told me she felt a church in her life several years ago was phony, so she’s rejected the Church and Christ out of principle, but guess what, she likes me coming around....maybe I do something right at least some of the time! People are smart, they know when they’ve been lied to, or misled... That’s why sincerity is so powerful. That’s why people of integrity are welcomed. Nothing will transform Sumas, the Foothills and NV like sincere, honest Christian men and women of integrity that genuinely care… the message must be born out of a heart of conviction…
Where does Paul’s conviction come from? Within and without: his conscious and the Holy Spirit (Rom. 9:1).
#2 Love. Paul’s LOVE is incredible. Love is given to others… READ Rom. 9:2-3. Paul declares his great love for his unsaved brothers and sisters. Paul’s dream: his own people go to heaven with him. Rom. 9:2 underline Sorrow and Anguish… Paul’s heart is broken for the people he loves that do not know Christ. God uses people with broken hearts to reach those who are searching.
Sorrow, sadness. Anguish. deep personal pain. Paul was not a passive observer, standing by idly while his friends rejected Christ. He saw their unbelief, and it tore at his heart. I did a hospital chaplaincy internship. One of the chaplains bothered me… He was rigid, did not care so much about the people, but for him, saving people was more of a category. It was about numbers. One day he shared what motivated him to see patients. He told us that once he toured a smelter and saw a huge vat of molten aluminum. Whenever he went into a patient’s room, he formed a mental picture of that person being dangled over the molten aluminum about to be dropped into the pit of hell. // Not for me. I’m not disagreeing with reality of heaven and hell, but I think there is better motivation: 2 Cor. 5:14 “For the love of Christ compels me.” Love people into the Kingdom because Jesus loves them…Jesus died for them…I see people in Sumas that are in the most difficult situations that are loved by God... for people to fully hear the gospel it has to come out of a heart of love, a broken heart for people because you so much want them to know the love of Christ.
Paul goes on and speaks a most amazing statement: Paul says he would be willing to go to hell if he could if it would help his Jewish brothers and sisters come to Christ. “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Jesus Christ for the sake of my brothers” (v. 3). No man ever exulted in knowing Christ like Paul did. He is the man who spoke more than anyone else about being “in Christ.” Yet he says he would be willing to be separated from Jesus forever if it would help his friends be saved.
How far are you willing to go to see your friends come to Jesus? What sacrifices are you willing to make? Time? Forgo opportunities? Gas…Paul said, “I think about it all the time. And it breaks my heart. If I could, I would trade places and go to hell if only my brothers and sister could be saved.” Obviously that is not a trade-off that even makes sense, but it shows the depth of what he is willing to do… that is love.
Conviction, love and #3 Respect: Paul lists advantages God gave the Jewish people (READ Rom. 9:4-5) ~ the final advantage of the Jews: God gave them Jesus, “who is God over all, forever praised” Of all the blessings, none was greater than this: Jesus was a Jew, born of Jewish parents, raised in a Jewish home, taught the Jewish law, steeped in the Jewish traditions. Jesus was a Jew. And therein lay the ultimate privilege of Judaism. From the Jews the world received the Son of God, the one who saves all people.
Next week I’ll a bit about the place of Israel in God’s plan of salvation and what the Jews are chosen to do. Not chosen because they are favorites, like a teachers pet, but chosen for an awesome task…
Today’s message is a great principle of sharing the gospel: Respect those whom you are sharing the Christian faith. You’ll reach more people for Jesus by seeing in others what is good about them. Knowing them. Figuring out who they are. What they do right. You cannot argue people into the kingdom of God. I try to answer sincere questions of unbelievers, but I don’t argue. If somebody has already made up their mind and only want to point out that God is an ogre, I’ll listen, but not argue. I let them have the last word. Arguing makes people defensive.
Out of the conviction of his heart Paul starts by sharing his broken heart for his own people. No one can read these words and doubt his love for his Jewish brothers and sister. Were they sinners? Yes. Had they rejected Christ? Yes. Were they guilty? Yes. Did they face eternal judgment? Yes, but Paul doesn’t start there. He begins by sharing his great love and great respect for others. He tells them how much he loves them and appreciates them, even to the point of being willing to die for them. In other words, Paul starts with the good news first. Seeing the best in others, not the worst. Begin with what is positive, not negative.
A couple of questions to consider…
Are you convinced Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation? Is your heart broken over the people in your life who do not know Jesus? Do you anguish over those who don’t know the Lord? I love the people of Sumas! For those who invite me into their homes and lives, I respect them by listening, learning, commending, urging better choices….
Do you anguish over your closest friends and family members? Paul did. He considered the Jews his own people. He wept over them, prayed over them, agonized over them. I am learning. I am not sure my heart is as broken as Pauls… I do not know the last time I wept over friends who don’t know Jesus?
One more question: Do you anguish over the state of your own soul? In this message we’ve been talking about sharing the gospel with others, but what about you? Where do you stand in relation to Jesus Christ? Is your heart right with God?” Can you say, “Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life?” Nothing matters more than knowing Christ.
Let your heart be broken over those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Be convinced in your heart that all people need Jesus. People will see your sincerity, your honesty and your integrity. You will reach those whom God places on your heart through love, weep over them, care about them, and above all else, respect them for who they are and what they are doing right. A broken heart is a heart that God will use to reach people with the love of Christ. Amen.