Pastor Star R. Scott

God's Greatest Gift

I love to read of the time they came to the garden, and the angels of the Lord were there, who asked a very interesting question: "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5). Think about that. So much of religion today is dead, not only the different religions, but even within professed Christianity, it's only dogma and traditions. Aren't you glad that He is alive in you this morning? Much of it took place on the Day of Pentecost: as the Lord admonished the disciples after He was risen, He said, "Go back to Jerusalem and tarry for the promise" (Luke 24:49). He had told them when He was here, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee...I will not leave you comfortless" (Hebrews 13:5, John 14:18). We live in an hour in which we can use plenty of comfort; amen? That word comfort does not only mean to bring solace, but companionship; it is an assistance, a coming alongside to give ballast when things begin to shake, a strengthening. Because Jesus is risen, we have received the promise of the Father; and the power of God indwells every one of us to finish this course in victory; praise God. In a day when people's hearts will be fainting, the greater one lives in us. "Greater is He that is in [us] than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). So, we just want to celebrate and enjoy this season; but, you know, churches all over this area are causing traffic jams as one-time-a-year people are coming to church. Aren't you glad that, when you know Him, every day is Easter; praise God. So we rejoice in the goodness of the Lord, and in the great things He has done.

Today--to the very day--we moved to this property thirty-three years ago. It's been quite a journey, and we believe that the Lord ordered our steps here all those years ago; it was the wisdom of God, and it started a new journey for us. We were distracted for a while in the middle of that journey (as those of you who have been here for many years on course with us know). Not very many have been here for the whole trip: Steve has been putting up with me for thirty-five years; can you imagine? You talk about patience and grace. But, what a trip we are on, and what a privilege we have--and I'm just so thankful as Father who, in these last years, has brought us back to Bethel and to a straight and narrow path--to see a remnant that is going to finish this course.

Let's turn to Matthew 27. Matthew makes a couple of interesting observations concerning the crucifixion and the burial and resurrection of the Lord. Here on Easter Sunday, of course, is always that great time of the celebration of resurrection power. Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, "If Jesus be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins... [and] we are of all men most miserable." That's quite a statement for the Apostle to make. You see, he didn't put any credibility in religion. If Jesus is not risen, then your faith is vain; and you, of all men, should be pitied and the most miserable. There is no value in religion. There is no value in moral living. The value is in knowing Him, in being reconciled back into a relationship with Father that was broken in that garden through the original sin. By one man sin and death entered into the world; and even more, then, by one man, Jesus Christ, having been made sin with our sin, we might then be made righteous this morning with His righteousness (Romans 5:12-21). What was this that occurred 2,000 years ago that we are to be so boldly proclaiming as though it were yesterday, as current as today because today is the day of (what?) our salvation? Aren't you glad that it never grows old? I am as excited about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus--my redemption--as I was forty years ago when I first came to know Him; praise God. It never gets old; this story we are going to look at this morning never gets old; praise God. But there are a lot of people who have never heard it to this day: people who don't really know who Jesus is. It seems strange to us; but a lot of us came from that very background.

I was in California, just a couple of weeks ago, to celebrate my grandmother's hundredth birthday. I saw cousins whom I hadn't seen in forty years. It was a very interesting thing to see how everyone else got older but me. I was trying to figure out who all these old people were--they were my cousins. I began thinking about my roots. I know each of us has his own personal testimony. It's very interesting how this great free gift of eternal salvation finds its way into the lives of individuals like you and me. Think for just a moment, of all the circumstances that brought you to that moment of bowing your knee and bowing your heart to the Lordship of Jesus. While we were sinners, the Scripture says, He loved us (Romans 5:8). He sought us; we never sought after Him. Prevenient grace: He is always the initiator, and we are so thankful for that.

Let's look at what happened on that particular day. It is interesting that, after the death of Jesus on the cross, in the very noonday sun, darkness came across the land. Jesus had cried out, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). Don't think for a moment, beloved, that this crucifixion, which Jesus experienced, was without conflict and without torment. We think that, because He was the God-man, it was a very easy thing for Him to endure. Not so. If we go back to The Garden of Gethsemane and, as He asked the disciples to tarry with Him, He prayed, the Scripture makes it very clear that He agonized before God and said, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matthew 26:39). In that prayer, sweating drops of blood, while those who pledged to never depart and never forsake Him, to always be faithful, received the reproof of the Lord--"At the hour of My greatest need, could you not even stay awake for one hour and pray for me?"--I think it interesting that Jesus asked for prayer. Aren't you glad that He ever lives to make intercession for us?

We are coming into an hour, beloved, when He is asking again of His Church, "Come apart from everything the world has to offer you, from all of your business and weariness, and seek the better part, seek the throne of God, seek the will of God. Pray as you have never prayed, as Jesus agonized, for one thing. "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me [what?], �??My grace is sufficient for thee'" (2 Corinthians 12:8). This hour we are entering into, beloved, is going to be our own personal Gethsemane: an hour of embracing that cup. We are going to pray, and we are going to weep, and we are going to sweat, as He did; and we are going to cry out, "God, let this thing pass from me!" But because Jesus is risen, and because He ever lives to make intercession, and because He has filled us with His Holy Spirit, we are going to be able to finish that prayer with the same commitment He made: "Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). Amen? That's what the resurrection is all about: the breaking of the power of sin; the indwelling of the presence and the person of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit that will let us pray that prayer. Jesus, after coming out of His own Gethsemane and standing alone, forsaken of His closest friends, prayed to embrace the will of God. That cup He was drinking, beloved (as we all know very well), was filled with the judgment, with the torment, of your sin and my sin. He who knew no sin was made sin with my sin! (2 Corinthians 12:8). Jesus was made sin before the Father, and therefore had to experience the justice of God, that we might receive the mercy of God. He received the wrath of God that we might be adopted as sons and be called friends.

I was sharing with a man on Friday the delight of Good Friday. Now, don't get me wrong: I understand very well, of course, the full plan of God and the dynamics of the resurrection. I thank God for the dynamics of the resurrection, that He destroyed death; but there is just something about Good Friday, isn't there? The moment I wake on Friday I think, "This is the day Jesus died for me! Praise God!" It was made more real as I went home, and got to see my natural relatives again. There were a hundred people gathered there for Grandma's hundredth birthday. I looked around that room and asked, "Lord, why me?" A hundred relatives, and not one there, outside of my family, knew Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Genetically, we are long-lived on both sides. I have had relatives from the maternal and the paternal sides over a hundred years old. But "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Amen? Why me? Why you? While we were sinners He loved us and died for us, the Scripture says (Romans 5:8). Now that we have so freely received this gift, the mandate is this: "Freely ye have received [say it with me], freely give" (Matthew 10:8). We don't have much longer to proclaim this Gospel. Jesus is coming back. We need to tell some folks; amen?

I'm side-tracked, but just so thankful. I hadn't been home for so long, and seeing the family and where I've come from, I'm just so thankful. But, you know, every one of them has had opportunity, and rejected it. Many of the closest relatives I have shared the Gospel with personally. In pride and self-will they refused to bow their knees. Thank God that His grace enabled us.

Peter, having denied the Lord in verse 72 of this chapter (Chapter 26), and having sworn and taken an oath that he didn't know the man, comes into the presence of the Lord, who asks this question: "Peter, do you love Me more than these?" We remember the story: Jesus had spoken to him, and Peter had all kinds of confidence in himself, saying, "Lord, though everybody else forsakes you, don't worry about Peter; I'll be here for you" (Matthew 26:33). Many of us have had that attitude over the years, and experienced the same humbling Peter did. As we said just the other day, I think it is so important for us to realize that Peter was impetuous. Having forsaken the Lord and run off to go fishing, he went back to where he had been arrested by the love of God in that first encounter with the Lord Jesus, where he had thrown his nets aside when Jesus said, "Come; I will make you a fisher of men" (Matthew 4:19). And, as Jesus in His resurrected presence came, and Peter recognized Him after John said, "It's the Lord" (John 21:7), he swam to Jesus. It was his personality; some things just don't change, do they? Some of us are just that way. Oh, it's sanctified; God's Spirit begins to bring it into control. There are certain people, who are go-getters; Peter was one of them. But I don't want to belabor the point. This is after the great miracle of the draught of fishes: they had labored in their own strength all night, but couldn't catch anything. They were good fishermen; generationally, people who knew how to fish knew where the fish were. They couldn't catch a thing. Then the Master tells them to cast the net again, resulting in the miracle of the 153 fishes. Then He asked the question: "Lovest thou Me more than these?" I wonder what we would have done that night in the garden. You don't need to respond; I'll just ask a rhetorical question, do you think you would have stayed awake? Having denied the Lord Jesus--I mean, you were the one everybody looked to as the leader, the spiritual one among us; now you deny the Lord publicly--what do you think your response would be? Judas went out and hanged himself; would you quit? The shame, the doubts, the fears, I'm sure those are the same emotions David had, and we hear the cry in Psalm 51: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." I have always thought it such a great message to you and me that the mandate was given, "Go tell the disciples and [what?] Peter...He is risen" (Mark 16:6-7).

In preparation for this last hour, which we are coming into, Jesus said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee...I will not leave thee comfortless" (Hebrews 13:5, John 14:18). The Bible says that "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6); praise God. This morning, as we reflect on Passion Week, on Gethsemane, on Good Friday, the day of Jesus' crucifixion, and on this great celebration of Resurrection Sunday, it is not a historical event; it is still ongoing; amen? And it's going on in you. What are we doing to prepare ourselves in this hour, to tarry for that hour? What are we doing to remain faithful, and to not forsake Him because of our own appetite for comfort and ease and acceptance. What are we doing to identify ourselves without mistake as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ?

After Jesus was taken down from the cross, Joseph of Arimathaea came (he was a wealthy man, who had a lot of political influence) and went to Pilate and said, "I want the body" (Mark 15:43). There was some opposition. I want you to know that Joseph put his reputation and his life on the line. As you read the accounts, they did not readily say, "Well, okay." He contended, and was given the body of the Lord Jesus. The Scripture says he then took and laid Him in his newly hewn sepulcher. He was buried with the wealthy, the elite, possessing nothing (Isaiah 53:9).

The Pharisees had this great testimony against them, their hearts being revealed in the sixty-second verse of Chapter 27: "Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, �??Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, "After three days I will rise again." Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, "He is risen from the dead:" so the last error shall be worse than the first.' Pilate said unto them, �??[Use your own guards.] Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.' So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, �??Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said.' [Hallelujah! Come and see.] �??Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee.' And they departed quickly; and did run to bring his disciples word." The Scriptures say, in the other, synoptic Gospels, the message they shared was not believed. You know, that is one thing I always enjoy about the truth of God's Word. God shows, without apology, the frailty, the humanity, and the sins of His chosen ones, whether it is David, or Peter, or the depression of Elijah. Aren't you glad that these are all men of like passions, just as you and I are? (James 5:17). Yet, this Resurrection Sunday, He has provided for us that power to live beyond ourselves, for "it is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20).

What I want to do is go from this particular point and share with you many of the different arguments against the resurrection. The swoon theory: Some people say that the vinegar mix that was given to Him caused Him to pass out, but He didn't really die. Well, if He didn't die, and they mummified Him, and wrapped Him up, and put Him in a tomb, it isn't like some of these magicians' safes they get locked in. Do you know how magicians put themselves in safes, then get out? Safes are made to keep people from getting in, not to keep people from getting out. From this tomb there was no access in or out. You remember how these things were built: the tomb was hewn into the stone; and the stone was not just some round ball that was rolled up against the entrance. These were engineered such that, once they were sealed, they could not be opened again, because one of the greatest things people were concerned with was grave robbers in those days. That's why this type of tomb was even more secure, being hewn out of solid rock, than something that was built with blocks of the era, which could be destroyed, torn down, and tunneled through. This thing was fool-proof. And the way it was engineered was that this stone was more like a big wheel. As that which was the brake to the stone was removed, that stone rolled into place into a concave trough which would lock it in place. There was no band of twelve guys who could go down there and steal the body. Some still argue that His disciples came in and stole the body (and I won't get into the different arguments; we have shared them over the years): That the guards were there; they were arrested by the presence of God's messengers and overcome while sleeping. And, after the resurrection, they were confronted with the presence of the heavenly beings and smitten with the glory of God; and then just dismissed? We know that when a watch like this is given, should the prisoners escape, it was the death penalty. When the prison was opened in Paul's day, he said, "Do thyself no harm..." The guard was going to kill himself, because he knew he would be prosecuted. "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here" (Acts 16:25-28). That is just a bit of history for us to see where the natural mind goes to try to justify their rebellion and their refusal to bow the knee to Jesus. They come up with all kinds of reasons to argue against the Scriptures. Jesus said, they are going to crucify Me and they are going to kill Me; then I am going to rise again the third day (Matthew 20:19).

I want to go back, however, from the resurrection. I haven't taken time to look over the congregation to see if we have any visitors here this morning, but if we do, then I have some good news for you this morning. If you have never made Jesus your Lord and Savior, if you have never really understood the love of God toward you, which was expressed on Golgotha hill on the cross that Friday, then I have some good news for you this morning. Everyone is familiar with the classic scripture, John 3:16. Some people say it's over used. "John 3:16? We need to come up with some other Scriptures. Everybody has heard John 3:16." Do you want to know why? It's because it can't be expressed any better. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [amen?] that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I have some good news for you this morning: "God is not willing that any should perish."

First Timothy, Chapter 2, verse 4: let's turn there, and take a moment to assure our own hearts this morning, those of us who are believers, not only for the assurance of our own salvation but, in this hour in which God is really moving on our hearts as a fellowship and stirring us again, to be about Father's business, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. There is probably no time in the history of our nation in which there has been more hatred for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People try to stay civilized about it; they still, because of their attempts to embrace their humanistic doctrine of tolerance, try to, but they cannot contain themselves. The conversations go well until one name is introduced into it: that name is what? Then, tolerance begins to show intolerance when we say what God says: "There is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved, but the name of Jesus." Oh, they want to say that it's good works, it's moral living, that there are many paths to heaven: "All paths lead to God." No! All paths, but one, lead to hell. Ooh, I said the H-word. Nobody wants to talk about hell anymore. People are tormented by the thought of it. It's unthinkable in our society that there would be consequences to self-will and rebellion, as men continue to be worshipers (as Paul said in Romans 1:25) of the creature instead of the creator. "And even as [Romans 1 says] they did not like to retain God in their [remembrance], God gave them over to a reprobate mind...that they should believe a lie" (Romans 1:28, 2 Thessalonians 2:11). There is only one hope for them: for people like you and me to bring the light of the glorious Gospel; amen? You will be hated for His name's sake (Luke 21:17). Some people will think you are just whacked out, while some people will think you are mentally weak, and that you need a crutch. I don't need a crutch; I need an ambulance; I need life support; because without Him I can do nothing (John 15:5); praise God! "In me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing," the Scripture says (Romans 7:18). We are being called to go into a world that hates us, hates this message, and hates the God who loved them. Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). Just keep preaching; praise God.

People are going to mock you; people are going to talk behind your back. As you know, we have had all kinds of complaints about the literature we have handed out. Thank God; I believe it was over 25,000 homes that received the tract He Is Risen. Praise God! Can you say "Praise God" for that? 25,000 homes! If nothing else, just looking at the cover. Then, you have to ask yourself a question--and answer a question--Jesus asked: "Whom do men say that I the son of Man am?" (Matthew 16:13). You see, you can't come into the presence of the Word of God--into the presence of Jesus--and remain neutral. You must either rebel, stiffening your neck and hardening your heart, or bow your knee. There is no neutrality. He said, "You are for me or you are against me; you love me or you hate me" (Luke 11:23, James 4:4).

Here is the good news. Let me give you a verse: Acts 2:21, "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever..." I love that, whosoever; don't you? There is a big segment of Christianity today that promotes the doctrine of limited atonement: that only a special group of people can come; that there is no decision on man's part; that there is an irresistible grace. "You are going to become a Christian whether you want to or not. But if you want to, but God hasn't chosen you, you can't come." The majority of fundamental Christians today holds to some form of that doctrine, or at least is involved in ministries that embrace it. That is not what the Bible teaches. If you read the Scriptures and see what the original language says (in the Greek) spoken in context, whosoever means whosoever. Whosoever! " shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Praise God!

When you are out sharing the Gospel, don't just share the facts of the Gospel. Introduce people to the knowledge that, if they believe in their heart and they confess with their mouth that God has raised Jesus from the dead, they shall be saved; amen? Challenge people to come to a place of decision; because, beloved, one of the greatest factors is in each of our lives is volition--a decision. Many of us minister, or bring the Gospel, in the vein of many with the Calvinist perspective. We can't do that beloved. There has to be a decision. There has to be a believing within the heart. There has to be a confessing from the mouth: "I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins--was made sin with my sin--that I might be made righteous with His righteousness. I believe that God raised Him from the dead; praise God!" This isn't essential to regeneration, but it's important for us to understand: God not only raised Him to make Him victorious over death, hell, and the grave (as 1 Corinthians 15 declares), but He has ascended to the right hand of God the Father, and He is living right now to make intercession for us.

If you are here this morning, and you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I have some good news for you: Jesus is praying for you right now that you would believe on Him! Are you going to be like those in the Garden, and deny Him and choose yourself and your own comfort level, or are you going to embrace the same cup He did? "Not My will, but Thine be done." Are any of you who are believers burdened, grieved, depressed, oppressed, fearful, or weary? "Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). "He ever liveth to make intercession for [us]" (Hebrews 7:25).

I have shared with you that this last year has been a very difficult year. I have been beat up. There are times that, while lying on my face before God, I am so thankful for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the ability to pray in the spirit, because I couldn't come up with any words. As I lay before the throne of God, and I couldn't even come up with thoughts to put together--my mind was so dull that I could hardly bring up a Scripture verse--I knew a couple of things: God is good--He will never leave us nor forsake us; and that He ever lives to pray for us; praise God! "Having done all, stand" (Ephesians 6:13). As always, in my life and in yours, the promise is fulfilled; "He makes a way to escape [praise God] that ye may be able to [endure]" 1 Corinthians 10:13. Amen?

Let's go out boldly and address the "whosoever." Romans 10:13: you will want to know these passages, because we are going to encounter people who will say (and I ran into this just recently), "I have done so much to betray the Lord and deny the Lord; surely there is no way I can be redeemed." Romans 10:13: "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." 1 Timothy 2:4: "[He] will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." He will have all men to be saved--all men--and to come to the knowledge of His great gift of salvation.

We are running out of time; I'll end with this for this morning. Titus 2 is always so to the point: "The grace of God that brings salvation [verse 11] hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."

As we continue to share this message with folks, we must let them know that this isn't just a prayer and a declaration of the lordship of Jesus, but a true regeneration of our lives. This dead spirit-man is brought back to life. Paul says in Romans that "sin shall not have dominion over [us]" (Romans 6:14); praise God! We realize from this passage that we become new creations: "old things are passed away [the Apostle said]; behold, all things are become new" (Galatians 6:15). The good news, beloved, is that, when we make this kind of commitment to the lordship of Jesus Christ, He enables us by His grace--the grace of God that brings salvation, teaches us, enables us--to live lives of discipline, sobriety, righteousness and godliness in this present world. "Man, I don't know if I can do that." You can't! You can't do that. "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). What is your responsibility? Make the decision to acknowledge the free gift of God's grace. Bow your knee. He will bring the enabling for righteous living, for a life that is a testimony to Him.

Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God." It is the gift, this morning, that each of us has embraced.

Romans 6:23 says that there are wages to sin: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." It's been forty years plus since I heard this story, and I never get tired of hearing it. Every day I can read these verses I have shared with you, and it brings refreshing to my spirit. It brings a challenge to my heart that I have to tell somebody, because the night is coming when no man can work (John 9:4).

I was born again in February, so it wasn't long until the first Easter. I have shared most of my testimony with you over the years but, having just been born again, I remember going back to my home town the following week. I remember telling my uncle, Jack, "Jack, I have to share something with you, man: I got saved." You know, we use church terminology, and people don't know what we are talking about. He asked, "From what?" Forty-two years later, I realize what I was saved from: me. Amen? I was saved from me--my independence, self-will, pride, and rebellion. We all know that the source of that is the sin that rules our nature; but, beloved, we need to get saved from ourselves. I got saved from having to experience the justice of God. I got saved from justice, and got mercy; praise God! I proceeded to share with him what God had done in my life. Like some of yours, our family was very carnal--pagan alcoholics. My uncle, who does all our family tree research, found that we have the prestige of having two relatives who were the first to experience the death penalty--for murder and serial killings--by the new method that had been introduced. That's kind of what runs in the family: alcoholism, violence, and so many other areas, just like your family. We are all the same. But I remember sharing that with Jack, and hearing him say, "Yeah, okay; so we'll see how long this lasts." I talked to Jack a couple of weeks ago. He subsequently had given his life to the Lord twenty years after that, but is living in a very dangerous place right now of separating himself from the community--from the Church. He was hurt by people and the hypocrisies; but I believe that He who has begun the work in him will perform it; amen? "We'll see how long this lasts." Well, it's been forty-two years, and I so long to finish this race and hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

But, as a young man, my scholarship had been taken--I lost my scholarship; I didn't lose it, I forsook it, because I knew that I could no longer pursue that lifestyle. Jesus had put a call on my heart and my life--my parents had forsaken me because of my acceptance of Jesus as personal Savior, and disowned me, I was living in my car, and we were challenged at church. I'm a brand new believer, challenged at church for missions to honor the Lord in His resurrection with 30 pieces of silver. "Judas denied Him for 30 pieces of silver; let's show our commitment this way." I thought, "Lord, how? I don't have any money. How am I going to come up with 30 pieces of silver? I might have some pennies, but that's copper. I've got to get some silver, man. Nickels! I've got to find some nickels." I began to earnestly pray, "Lord, supply the money for 30 pieces of silver; I just want to honor You, Lord. I want to make my commitment." The whole theme was that I will never sell Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver; this was real to me. At this very same time, I was in church, and a man came down the aisle and he tapped me on the shoulder. It had not been long (right in the same period of time) that I was called out of church. My mother was on the phone, and she said, "Bob, I just wanted to call and tell you that Bob just killed himself." I was his namesake: Star Robert. He had just shot himself. I was a brand new believer. Hell was very real. I knew that Granpa Bob would be tormented for eternity. He had been a good Grandpa; he always played around with the grandchildren. He was an alcoholic; he was an adulterer; and he was a murderer in the end. I went back into that church service, sat down, and asked the same question I began with this morning: "Why me?" The answer is that I chose, and they didn't. This message, and this gift, is unto all, and upon all them that believe; amen? (Romans 3:22). Let's go tell somebody.

Father, we thank You this morning for Your Word and for Your love. Even now, Father, this morning, before we close, if there are those here this morning who have never bowed their knees and acknowledged Your lordship, have never prayed and confessed the belief that You were made sin with their sin, that they might be made righteous with Your righteousness, I ask that they would pray, even now, at this moment, "Jesus, I believe, that You were made sin with my sin, that I might be made righteous with Your righteousness." It cannot be your works, your effort, but His righteousness put to your account.

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