As JP begins a 2-part series called “Unashamed" he works through 2 Timothy 1:7-12 and focusing on verse 7, examining 3 reasons why we are timid, ashamed, to share our faith.
Obligated, Eager, and Unashamed
Why We Are Ashamed
Good morning, good morning. How are we doing? Good, good. Glad you're here. If you're tuning in somewhere beautiful, I'm glad you're listening in with us wherever you're at. My name is JP or Jonathan Pokluda. I have the privilege of serving on the teaching team here at Watermark.
The other day I was leaving community time with my guys. The guys meet every Friday morning. This particular morning we met at Café Brazil up on Campbell. I got in my truck and was going to come to Watermark from there. My phone rang, so I answered it. It was like, "Hello, Mr. Pokluda. How are you doing today?" My friends don't call me Mr. Pokluda. My wife, unfortunately, does not call me Mr. Pokluda. Sales call, right?
I'm like, "Hey. I'm good." She said, "Hey, my name's Ashley. How's the weather in Dallas?" I said, "Oh. It's good." She said, "I've been to Dallas once, but I don't really remember it. You guys have quite the bar scene there." "Yes, I'm very familiar with that, Ashley." I'm just thinking, You know what? I have a fifteen minute car ride. Let's go. Let's talk. She said, "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" I said, "Ashley, ask me anything you want."
She says, "Well, I see that about a year ago you inquired about purchasing gold." I was like, No I didn't. Then I was like, Oh. A year ago was the Declaration series. Maybe I did. Maybe I did ask about it. So she begins to ask some really personal questions. "How much money do you have? What kinds of things do you invest in?" She begins to tell me about buying coins and how that's a good investment (I'm not saying that; she did). She is telling me all about this.
As I'm pulling into Watermark (now we've been talking this whole time), she says, "Are you ready to make that $5,732.00 investment?" I said, "Whoa! How did we get there, Ashley? I didn't… You went for the close. Okay, what's going on? Ashley, I'm so sorry. I think I've wasted your time. Listen, I will answer any questions you have. We can continue to talk if you want, but I have no intention of buying any sort of precious metals today. So that's what's going on."
I said, "Ashely, in fact, do you mind if I ask you two questions?" She said, "No. Ask me anything." I said, "Ashley, I've got to tell you. These are going to come out of left field." She goes, "No. I'm fine." I said, "Great. Okay. Between one and ten, ten being certain and one being not so sure, if you were to die today, how certain are you that you would go to heaven?" "Wow! Oh, man. I didn't see that coming. I told you… Okay. Well, I don't… I mean, that's just really personal."
"Ashley, you just asked me for $5,732.00 dollars, and we've never met." She said, "I know, but it's just faith and religion and belief and… Wow. Okay. I guess a seven." "Okay. Well, I told you there would be two questions. Second question: If you stood before God and he said, 'Why should I let you in?' what would you say?"
"I don't know. I mean, just because I'm trying really hard to get my life… I made some choices before. I want to do good. I'm trying…"
"What I asked, Ashley, are called the Kennedy questions. They're called this because they come from D. James Kennedy who founded Evangelism Explosion in 1962. He just came up with these two questions he found quickly cut to the chase of what someone believes." I have to agree with him. They really do.
So Ashley is walking around. She's thinking, "There's a 70 percent chance I'm going to go to heaven." The reason is because she thinks she's a good person or she's trying to do good. So I got to share my story with Ashley. "Ashley, 14 years ago someone asked me those same questions. I also said a seven. I also pointed to my works, but as I continued to explore world religions, I kept tripping over a man name Jesus Christ.
I'm sure you've heard of Jesus. I was kind of biased against him. I liked the Hindu faith, the Buddhist faith, the Jewish faith, the Islamic faith, the Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, and on and on and on. I kept tripping over this man who reset the calendar 2,016 years ago, who every atheist we know acknowledges him by the dates they put on their checks. Ashley, I have to tell you why. I believe it's because he died and came back to life, and people saw him.
Ashley, I believe the reason he died was because I'm not a good person, that I've done terrible things, that I've run from God most of my life. So his death was a payment for my sins. He suffered for my sins instead of me. He rose from the dead promising me life after death as well. Ashley, you're selling gold. I don't know if it's because you believe in the product or you get paid to sell it. I am giving you…I am giving freely…eternal riches."
I sat there on the other end of that phone call when this boisterous, big personality, very confident woman who is paid every day to make calls like this… Everything changed. She just said, "Thank you for telling me that. I have to wrestle with that, but I appreciate you taking the time to tell me."
We got off the phone, and my heart was pounding in my chest. I felt so much joy, and I just wanted to get out of my truck and run laps around the parking lot. I just felt so alive. This is what I realized in that moment…I've learned it before, but I forget…I cannot stop doing that. That is what makes me feel so close to God. That is what stirs my affections for Christ. I cannot stop doing that. I don't know why I don't do that all the time. Then I do… Because it's awkward and there's tension and I don't want to be weird… But then I don't know why I don't do that all the time.
I just feel so alive. In fact, the Scriptures tell us. In I Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 23, Paul is saying, "This is why I share the gospel. This is why I share my faith. I do it all for the sake of the gospel that I might share in its blessings, that I might receive blessings from God as I share the gospel." Some of us this morning are missing out on blessings from God.
We're going to spend two weeks in a series called Unashamed, unapologetically leading up to Easter, so you would show up here on Easter not alone, that you would walk across the street to a neighbor and say, "Will you get in the car with us and go with us as we celebrate the death and the resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sins?" It is a layup opportunity to have these conversations. I want you to all the time, but especially at Easter.
This morning we're talking about why we are ashamed; that is to say, why we are afraid to share our faith. Let me show you there is a problem among our body I have to point out before we start. We just took the 4B, which is a spiritual assessment, to tell us how we are doing as a body. Several thousand of you took it. This is some of the data from it.
Roughly 90 percent of our members believe God is in absolute control of our lives. We believe in the sovereignty of God. We have a high view of God's sovereignty. That's good news. About 75 percent share what they are learning from God's Word with their Community Group on a consistent basis. That's great news. That 75 percent number is really consistent as you look at the data. There are about 75 percent of you who are just getting after it. About 73 percent provide accountability around spiritual disciplines. That's great news.
Then you get to this one. There is one piece of data that is so much lower than all the rest. It says something along the line of, "I consistently engage with nonbelievers for the purpose of talking about Jesus." It goes from 75 percent to 6 percent. So here is the data. If you add together the "often" part of it so you have "consistently and often," you get 28 percent, but it's almost like the graphs are inverse. Now you have about 75 percent who are not engaging with nonbelievers for the purpose of sharing the gospel.
Now about 10,000 people will hear this message today. That means about 600 of them, 600 of the 10,000, are receiving God's blessings in this area. About 600 of you are actually engaging with the lost for the purpose of sharing your faith on a consistent basis. So we have a problem. I want to ask why. I want to look at some reasons I believe we are ashamed to share our faith today.
Before I do, I'm going to dive into a book Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy, chapter 1, if you want to turn there. It's an admonishment from Paul to Timothy, who is also struggling to share the gospel, to evangelize, to witness, to share his faith. All of these words, if you're new to church, mean the same thing. It's talking to people who have not trusted in Jesus about Jesus. Sharing the faith, sharing the gospel, evangelizing, giving witness are all the same thing.
If you're turning there, it's towards the back of the book, towards the back of the New Testament. We're going to look at three reasons we don't share our faith this morning. To set this up, Paul wrote this about AD 67, about 67 years after the birth of Christ. What happened in AD 64 is Emperor Nero, who was a maniacal crazy man, set Rome on fire. Much of Rome burned down. He blamed the Christians. He said, "These people who follow the Way are the ones who burned down our city."
The temperatures have turned on the Christians. Nero is punishing them, torturing them for sport. All of this is going on, so that in AD 67, Paul finds himself in prison. Maybe you've heard Paul was on house arrest once. This is not that time. This is the time he is sitting in a cold, dark dungeon in chains. He's on death row. He's about to die. This is the last letter Paul ever wrote. We are about to read it. These are some of the last words of the apostle Paul.
What's going to happen in just a few weeks from him writing this is he's going to be escorted out by some Roman guards. In a non-event, with no one else there, no one to see, no one to watch, they are going to sever his head. The apostle Paul is going to go home to be with Jesus. The end of the apostle Paul. Or the beginning, depending on how you look at it. So he writes these letters.
Think about the irony of this. The one who killed Christians is about to be killed because he's a Christian. He writes these letters to Timothy. The reason he's writing them is because Timothy is afraid. Why is Timothy afraid? Because Paul is in prison about to lose his head! The current of the culture has turned. In fact, everyone here in Rome is worshipping Zeus, and Christians won't worship Zeus. So the culture sees Christians as unloving. Why? Because Zeus makes the flowers grow (so they think). Zeus makes the crops grow. Zeus gives reason for life.
If the Christians won't worship him, Christians are unloving. The culture of this time, AD 67 Rome, sees Christians as unloving. Timothy is tempted to shrink back, and Paul writes, "Don't shrink back. Press forward. Your grandmother had a faith. Your mom had a faith. Now I'm convinced you have a faith, Timothy. Don't shrink back. Press forward. In fact, I want you to fan into flame this faith. Breathe on it. Throw kindling on it, kerosene on it, gasoline on it. Let it grow."
Everybody came in here with a flame of faith, some of you a birthday candle, some of you a bonfire, and some of you somewhere in between. You need to know…I don't know…you need to know where you are at. Do I have this contagious bonfire of faith so everything I touch sets on fire? Is it a birthday candle about to be snuffed out? Where are you? "Fan into flame," Paul says. Then he writes these words. Verse 7: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline."
He says, "Timothy, as you yield more to God's power, your fear is going to be replaced with power, love, and self-discipline. When you yield more to God's Spirit, your fear will be replaced with power, love, and self-discipline. "So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel."
"By the power of God, be unashamed, Timothy, and join me. Don't be ashamed. Be unashamed and join me." "He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace." I've never noticed before, until this week, how similar that is to Ephesians 2:8-9. That God saved you in spite of you for his purpose according to his grace, and it's nothing you've done.
"This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
Paul writes, "Hey, Jesus was here, Timothy. He suffered and died for our sins, Timothy. He was buried and on the third day, he rose from the grave. He defeated death, Timothy. He's offering us life. This is the gospel. This is the good news, Timothy." Verse 11: "And of this gospel, I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame.""Be unashamed, Timothy."
"Because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day." The world saw Paul as a common criminal. As he sat in prison about to die, the world saw him as a wacko, someone deserving prison and death. He says, "Don't be ashamed of this, of me or the message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Don't shrink back, Timothy. Press forward."
I think we are afraid of how the world will view us. Maybe we don't know how, and so we're timid. We're going to focus on verse 7 now. "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord." So why are we so timid? I'm going to spend the rest of the morning answering the question…Why are we so timid and ashamed to share our faith? I think the first reason is…
1) We are ashamed because we are not effective. I believe some of you do not share your faith because you believe it will not make a difference. "They live in Dallas. They live in DFW. They've heard the gospel. There's a Bible in every hotel room. There's a church on every corner. What am I going to tell them that they don't know? I will not be effective." Or, "I've shared the gospel with them so many times. I'm tired. They don't listen." You're afraid you will not be effective. You're ashamed you will not be effective.
Second Timothy 1, verse 7 says the Spirit gives us power.It gives us power. This is the opportunity to partner with the power of God when we share our faith. You can't save someone, but God saves someone. You can share; God saves. Your role sharing; God's role saving. We get to partner and intersect with the power of God. There is a spiritual thing happening when we share the gospel that is the power of God who saves.
I think some of us are just afraid. "The only thing that's going to change when I talk to them about Jesus is they are going to think I'm weird. That's it. That's going to be the outcome of that conversation. The end." We forsake the reality that God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, is going to intervene with our words and use them to bring death to life.
A group of us just got back from Israel. If we're friends on social media, you know that. Todd was there with my wife, Monica, and I; Alex; and some of our staff. An incredible time. One of the greatest things about Israel was our tour guide, Ron. I can say with all integrity that he was the most extraordinary human being I'd ever met, truly a genius. I mean that in the most literal sense. He's an Israeli Jew, lived in Israel his whole life, knew everything about everything, spoke fluent Hebrew (obviously) knew the Old Testament, knew the New Testament.
He's walking around, and he's showing Christians on a regular basis for his occupation the road Jesus walked, where Jesus died, his tomb, where Jesus was born. These are the things he does every day of his life, but he would not identify as a Christian. Now this guy knows the gospel. He's heard the gospel all the time. He shared the gospel.
He's a good friend of Todd's. Todd has faithfully, faithfully shared the gospel with Ron over and over and over. I would be tempted to think, "Well, what is the point?" Right? But at dinner, I find myself sitting across the table from him, and I just say, "Ron, what is keeping you from being a Christian?" He said, "Well, I've tried. I've tried. I just don't feel anything. I don't know. I mean, I've tried."
Well, that day Monica and I had bought him a gift. It was just a tee shirt. It was in a bag sitting beside me, and I handed it to him. I said, "Ron, I want you to try to take this. It's a gift. I want you to try to take it." Of course, he took it. I said, "No, no. Give it back. I want you to try to take it." You can't try to take something someone is freely giving you. You can take it or you can leave it, but you can't try to take it.
This is what God is doing with grace right now. Verse 9, " He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus." It's freely being handed to us. When somebody is freely handing you a gift, you cannot try to take it without taking it. If you effort to take it, you'll end up with it.
Todd might be tempted to think, "JP, why would you share the gospel with him? I've shared the gospel with him so many times. What is the point?" That's not what he did. The next day, he pulled me aside and said, "Man, thank you for loving my friend. I hope everyone does in that way. I hope everyone would continue to share the gospel with him." I'd like to think (I'm speaking now) that he's closer, that with every conversation he moves more to a point of a greater understanding of who God is and what he has done for him in Jesus Christ.
The reason I share that with you is to make this point: obedience is not defined by the outcome. Obedience is obedience. Obedience is not defined by the outcome. You being obedient is not contingent on them becoming a Christian or not. You sharing your faith, you being obedient to share, that's your role. Let me say it like this: sharing is up to you; saving is up to God.
I will say that again. Sharing is up to you; saving is up to God. You can't save anyone. You never will. In fact, of all the commands to share your faith, there are no commands to save anyone. Dozens and dozens of commands from Jesus and the prophets, God, the Holy Spirit, tell you, "If you are my follower, you must share the gospel with people," but there are no commands to save them. That's God's responsibility. You're a herald; Christ is a savior. The second reason I think we don't share isbecause…
2) We are ashamed because it doesn't feel loving. Whenever we're talking about what someone believes and the possibility of hell and how their beliefs are contingent upon whether they go to heaven or hell, it can feel judgmental. It is loving. It's the most loving thing we could tell. If it's true, it's certainly loving, right?
I think we wrestle with this idea, especially in 2016, of the exclusivity of Christ, that he's the only way. Christianity feels so exclusive. I want you to know why it feels so exclusive. Because it is. It feels exclusive because it is. Jesus says in John 14:6… And he said this. He spoke these words when he was here. "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one…not anybody, no one ever will, ever has…come to the father except through this one way."
Not only does he say that in John 14, but in Matthew 7, he says, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and narrow the path that leads to destruction and many find that one. But narrow is the gate that leads to life and few will find it." Wide is the path and wide is the gate that leads to destruction, but narrow is the path that leads to life and few find that one.
Friends, Christianity is exclusive, but it is the most inclusive of all the exclusive religions. All religions… Make no mistake about it, they are all exclusive. Christianity is by far the most inclusive because Jesus says, "Here is the narrow path, and everyone is invited. Everyone come onto the narrow path." In fact, he sends his followers to invite everyone. Listen closely to what I am saying. Jesus sends people who believe in him to invite everyone to believe in him. So Christianity is exclusive, but it's very inclusive in that his followers are to invite everyone.
Here's my conclusion: this means his followers get to determine how exclusive it is. It's exclusive because only 600 of us are telling people about it. We've made an exclusive club here. "Hey, come and consume and learn and keep it to yourself." Meanwhile there is this real exclusive club of 600 who are going and inviting everyone, making it inclusive. His followers get to determine how inclusive it is. That's profound to me.
I will just say this quickly. If there was another way to God, then the gospel is foolishness. If there were any other way to get to the Father than the narrative that he would allow his Son to die to save anyone, it would be insane crazy. I mean, the most offensive idea that competes against the gospel is that it wasn't necessary.
"Jesus, your death was wasted. You didn't have to die. I could have just been good. How stupid is it that you would die when I could have just been good." It's crazy. If there were any other way to God, then the narrative of him allowing his Son to die and allowing him to say, "I'm the only way," when he was here is crazy. It's foolishness.
When we were in Israel, maybe the most spectacular part of the trip was going into Jordan and getting to see Petra. We go into the country of Jordan, and we get to see Petra. If you don't know what that is, it's one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, these incredible rock formations, hundreds of acres of incredible rock formations. The Nabateans have carved out of the rock these incredible shrines, thousands of years ago, that have been preserved.
If you've seen Indiana Jones, that's what we're talking about. It was filmed there. It's a really incredible scene. As we're walking through Petra, this particular day we've hiked 15 miles. Fifteen miles on these feet! We get to end of the day, and we want to leave. There is this way out that goes through this tunnel we saw. We're trying to find it, and we don't know how or where it is.
Bedouin people have always lived in Petra. There was this Bedouin woman who lives there; she's actually never left there. We stumble across her path, and we began to ask, "How do we get out of here? Where is this path that leads through the tunnel?" She says, "Well, it's over there. You've got to find a siq, which is a like a little hole in the rock. You've got to walk through it, and it will lead you out." "Okay, we'll go find this."
She says, "You'll never find it. I'll go with you. I'll show you. I'll show you the way." We said, "No, no, no." I think we have a picture. This is us negotiating with her. There is Todd talking to her. There is her pointing, "It's over there." She is the one in the front there. She is saying, "I will lead you to that path."
As we're walking along (her name is Hanan), I'm talking with Hanan, and I just say, "Hey, Hanan, what do you believe?" She says, "Well, I'm Muslim." I said, "Oh. You know, I'm a Christian." She says, "Yes. I believe if you're a good Christian and I'm a good Muslim, we will both get to Allah. You will be with Allah one day. I will be. Anyone who follows their faith faithfully will get to Allah."
So I asked her… I think we have a picture; this is where that conversation is going down. I'm a Nephilim, and she's not. So we are talking, and I just asked her, "Hanan, what if when we asked you for the way out, what if you had said, 'Hey, take any path. They'll lead you out.'?" She goes, "No. They wouldn't have. You're looking for the path with the tunnel. You've gotta find the narrow siq."
I go, "I know. I know, but what if you would have said, 'Pick a path and any of them will lead you out.'" She said, "You would get lost." Then she kind of sized me up and said, "You'd actually die." I said, "It would have been unloving, wouldn't it of?" She said, "Yeah, because there is a specific path we're looking for. There is a specific way. It has to be identified."
We needed someone to come to us and say, "No. Let me show you the way. There's one way. Let me show it to you." Then I said, "Hanan, this is what Jesus did. There are not a lot of ways to Allah. God sent his Son Jesus to show us the one way: that he would die for our sins, that he would pay the price for our sins, that we wouldn't have to work our way to God, because no one is good enough to get to God."
There is nothing in life where we say, "Oh, you want to go somewhere? There are lots of paths there. Choose any path. It will get you there." There is nothing in life that we would say that to. Her message sounds so loving, though, doesn't it? "Oh, any path will get you there." It sounds loving. It's just not true; therefore, it's not loving. The truth is loving. "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid but gives us power…" Not only does it give us power, but it gives us love.
Not only do we get to access God's power, but we get to intersect with an all-loving God. He interjects love into our words. It is loving to share that message. If God is good and hell is real, then sharing the truth is the single most loving thing we could do for someone. He gives his Spirit of love to help us, to share with that motivation.
I will tell you my biggest whiffs in evangelizing are when my motive has not been love. When I look back in times I've just whiffed, and I have whiffed, it's because I shared with some other motivation other than love: maybe to check a box, maybe to argue a point, maybe to try to be right, maybe my anger or frustration overwhelms the situation.
My motive is not love, and I whiff, but I have never ever, not one time, shared the gospel with the motive of love and regretted it. Never, not once. Second Corinthians 5:14 says it's Christ's love that compels us to share.First Corinthians 13 says our motive must be love.
On Wednesday I went to lunch with the young adult team. We engaged with our server, Kina. My friend, David, just asked her, "Hey, do you have a faith?" Very powerful question. "Do you have a faith?" We are there. We are talking about spiritual things. The second that question leaves your mouth, we are there. He says, "Do you have a faith?"
She says, "Yeah. I believe in a higher power." This is often the response of people in recovery. AA talks about this higher power. I just thought, "How unloving would it be for us, who have met the Higher Power, not to introduce her to who he is?" Kina is going through life with this nebulous idea that there is some cosmic higher force out there who created all things but that she can't know him and have a relationship with him and talk to him and commune with him and be with him forever and ever and ever.
I said, "Kina, I know who your Higher Power is. I've met him." It's like Paul in Athens. "I know who this temple of the unknown god is." I know the God. Can I introduce you to him? It would be unloving for me not to. So we got to invite her here, that she would come here and get to learn about whom this higher power is. The third reason I think we don't share our faith is because…
3) We are ashamed because we don't know how. This message this morning, as I talked with Todd, was actually going to be five rejections you run into in sharing your faith. That's what I was going to do this morning, kind of apologetics. We even put a list together of the five things.
This is what I came up with: the Bible can't be trusted, the problem of evil, hasn't science disproved God, I feel judged right now, I don't believe in a God who would send anyone to hell. Five objections you run into when you're sharing your faith. Then I began to talk to people who actually share their faith. I put together a panel of folks who I know are actively engaging in evangelism, actively going places and talking about Jesus.
I said, "Are these the five things you run into?" You know what they said? "Never." Then I even began to reflect on it in my own life. I will tell you, rarely have I ever run into those in just sharing my faith. Some of them I've never run into. I think we all sit on this side: "They're going to ask me a question I don't know how to answer."
This is apologetics. There are always resources on apologetics. You can go to www.gotquestions.org. It's a great resource. You can come here on Monday nights to Great Questions. You can ask about dinosaurs, six-day creation, the problem of evil. Anything you want to know. But on the street, when you're talking to someone for the purpose of sharing your faith, it's about Jesus.
"What about dinosaurs?"
"What about Jesus?"
"What about carbon dating and tectonic plates and the age of the earth?"
"Good question, but hey, what do you think about Jesus?" Evangelism is about Jesus.
"Well, I don't know, but what do you think of the whole global flood, local flood?"
"We can talk about that some other time. Let me ask you this question, 'Who do you think Jesus was'? Do you know he died? Did you know he came back to life? Can we talk about Jesus?" It's not nearly as difficult as the Enemy wants to convince you it is.
"Can we talk about Jesus?"
"Yeah, we can talk about Jesus, but I have all of these questions."
"Oh my goodness, I'm so glad, because I've got a place for you to go and ask your questions. In fact, if you'll write them down for me, I'll sit with you over lunch. We can take them one at a time. I even have a resource. We can look at www.gotquestions.org, www.probe.org, and www.karm.org." Google can be your friend in some of these things. It will give you volumes and volumes and volumes of libraries of books that will talk about, "Well, if God is good how come there are evil and suffering?"
"There are lots of answers to that question, but can I tell you about an evil and suffering that occurred to his Son Jesus Christ when he walked on the earth. When he died, he did so because of my evil and suffering, the evil I've done and suffering I've caused, so I don't have to suffer for eternity. He died, and he rose from the grave. What do you think about Jesus?"
The gospel is this: Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried. Three days later, he raised to life, and people saw him. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He raised to life three days later, and people saw him. That's the gospel.
Some of you are thinking right now, "Well, wait a minute. You know, there's Genesis. You were created to be in a relationship with God. There's Revelation. He's coming back…" No, no. This is the gospel: that Jesus Christ died for your sins. He was buried. Three days later he rose to life, and people saw him. "How can I be so sure?" "Because the Bible says it in 1 Corinthians 15. He says, 'Here's the gospel. Let me tell it to you.'"
Paul writes it as clearly as possible in I Corinthians 15. "And this is the gospel, that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, that he was raised to life three days later, and people saw him." The people saw him part is just the stumbling block. You have to deal with it. He says over 500 people saw him. Paul says, "Go ask them. They're still alive. Go talk to them. Folks saw this man come back to life. People wrote books about it, accounts about it. Go ask them."
I want you to say it with me. "Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He raised to life three days later, and people saw him." Can we say that together on three? One, two, three. "Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He raised to life three days later, and people saw him." Do you know what you just did? You just shared the gospel. Give yourself a hand. I mean, you just shared the gospel. You articulated it with great clarity. It was the gospel, and now you all know how. You all know how.
You can't say, "Well, I don't know how to share the gospel." It's this sentence. "But what about tectonic plates? I don't know. I don't even know how to spell tectonic." But what about Jesus? Jesus died for your sins. We go out there and share, and then we get all ashamed. "Okay, listen…" No. "Can I just tell you about Jesus? Can I tell you what he did? It's good news, man."
It's what we celebrate at Easter, easy to talk about right now. It's not bunnies and Easter eggs. Let me tell you what Easter really means. "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love…" Not just power and love, but also self-discipline. It will take discipline to get better at this. It will take discipline to share your faith. You will have to push through the awkward tension. If you want tips and tricks, tools, if these are helpful to you…
"Do you have a faith?" There's one. There's a tip and a trick. "Do you have a faith?" Here's one, the Kennedy questions. "Between one and ten, how certain are you that if you died today you would go to heaven? If you stood before God, why should he let you in?" Two questions. Very powerful.
"Well, here. Try to take this pen. You can't try to take it. I'm freely giving it to you." These are tips and tricks.
"If I give you a ticket to the Cowboys game, if I pay for it and say, 'Here's a ticket to the Cowboys game…' and you get up to the Cowboys game, and they stand there and say, 'Why should we let you in?' are you going to point to all the good things you've done? Are you going to say why you are such a good person that I would give you the tickets? You're going to say, 'Because my friend paid for tickets and gave them to me. My way has been paid for.' The only reason anyone gets to heaven is because their way into heaven has been paid for through the blood of Jesus Christ."
If those are helpful to you, great, but when you are sharing your faith, talk about Jesus. "So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." Paul invites us to suffer with him. Did Paul suffer for the gospel? Did he suffer? There's this little section of Scripture I want to read to you real quick. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 24-28, Paul writes,
"Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches."
Did that brother suffer for the gospel? He suffered. Could you imagine having a conversation with Paul about evangelism? "Paul, man, you don't understand Dallas. Bro, it's hard. Like, no man, I've got these coworkers… It's really tough, Bro." He's understanding. He's like, "I get it, man. They're coming at you with the whips?"
"No, Paul. It's not the whips. No, no, no."
"It's the prison, right? They're saying they're going to throw you in prison, in the cold dungeon. Nero, he's crazy."
"No, Paul. Nero's dead. Um. It's not really… Like, no one's going to put me in jail."
"No, they don't even do that. They just cut off your head, huh? They're just going to take your head off."
"No. It's not… Paul, it's not that they're going to take my head off. Um. It's not really that."
"Well, what is it? Why aren't you telling them? Why are you afraid?"
"Paul. Mr. Apostle, you know, it's just… It's awkward."
"Is that some kind of medieval torture device? What do you mean awkward?"
"You know, they're going to think I'm weird, Paul."
Could you imagine having the conversation? This gospel this brother faithfully carried forward so you could benefit from it, so you can be with God forever, so you can live your life in that way. He suffered, and he lost his head for us. We're like, "But Paul, you want me to share, man. My friends are going to think I'm weird, man. Don't make me do it, Paul, God, Jesus." That's crazy. I don't think we would say we're ashamed of Christ. I don't think we would say that.
I was thinking about that, though. I don't know if you've ever seen someone who's actually ashamed of someone. I'll tell a story; maybe it will help paint the picture. In high school, this young woman was introducing me to her father, and it was very clear she was ashamed of him. He was drunk and not a great man. I was going to meet him. There was just this tension you could sense. It was palpable in the room.
She kind of did the, "Hey, Jonathan. This is my dad. Dad, this is Jonathan. Okay, come on." It was awkward. It was tense. She was ashamed. "Okay, I guess I've got to do… Okay. All right." Now contrast that with when someone's going to meet my wife, who is like the second best thing that ever happened to me. I'm like, "This is Monica. You know, she's amazing. You're gonna love her. Everyone loves her. She's the sweetest person you've ever met. Meet Monica! Come here, baby. See?" I'm not ashamed. "Monica! Best thing!"
Let me ask, which one is more like us talking about Jesus? Is it the, "Oh, man. So listen. In the beginning there were tectonic plates…" Or is it, "Oh my goodness! God saved me through his Son, Jesus Christ. Can I tell you about him? It's amazing! Listen, he died for my sins so I don't have to die for my sins. And he died for your sins. He was buried, and he rose from the grave, showing us that we can live forever, that there is something after death, that he's bigger than death. Is this not good news? Can I tell you about it?"
That we would be unashamed. I'm not concerned about the new converts here. You are hearing this, and you're like, "I'm just not there yet." You'll get there. "The Spirit of God is not one of timidity but power, love, and self-discipline." You'll get there. I'm concerned. I want you to hear me. I thought about this a lot.
I'm concerned about the person who has been in church most of their life, and they're totally okay sharing the gospel once a month. Like, "Every now and then I will trip over a circumstance that I just can't help but talk about Jesus," and being okay with that. That causes me real concern. People say crazy things right now. Pastors will say things like, "You're either a missionary or you need one." I've said that before. It's powerful. It's a great tweet, right? "You're either a missionary or you need one."
Spurgeon said, "Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you're not saved yourself, be sure of that." Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak." They make it sound like if you don't share your faith, you're going to hell. Are you going to hell if you don't share your faith? Listen, we go to heaven because of what Christ did, not because of what we did. Christian, are you going to hell because you don't share your faith? No. But a lot of other people are.
We wrestled with this yesterday. They were like, "Really? Are we responsible? What do you mean by that? Hold on!" I'm just asking the question: If somebody is headed for a cliff, and they're going to drive off that cliff. If their parents or someone who loves them sends you to stop them, to tell them about the cliff, and you're standing between them and the cliff and you say nothing, are you not by definition negligent?
This is what God has done. He said, "Tell them. Make it inclusive. Tell everyone the way they can get to me." If you're not motivated by that, let me just say you're missing out on the blessings of God, the full spiritual life, the goodness he offers those who faithfully share their faith.
In summary, do not be timid. Be unashamed. The Spirit of power will work through your faithfulness. The Spirit that gives us love will work through your faithfulness. God's Spirit which gives us self-discipline will work through your faithfulness. Right about now you might be thinking, "Well, you basically have shared all the ways you share your faith. Good for you." It can even sound arrogant.
Let me tell you something. None of those people trusted Christ. Not Ashley, not Ron, not Hanan, not Kina. Pray for them, okay? I hope God moved them a little closer to him. I hope when you meet them and then you share, it's the thing that pushes them over, that one would plant and one would water, but God makes it grow. I don't at all do this perfectly. I'm silent way too much.
I'll end with this. In 1980, there was a man in Rwanda. His tribe told him to renounce Christ. They had heard he was a Jesus follower, and they called him to renounce Christ. We don't know a lot about the event. He said no. They killed him on the spot. The end. They killed him right then and there. When they went through his hut, they found something he had recently penned. I want to read it to you now. He wrote these words before he died.
"I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won't give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me and when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear." I'm unashamed.
May your life matter. Be a part of this really exclusive group here of 600 people who said they're going to consistently share their faith. You can be a part of that exclusive group today, and we will be a church like Dallas has never seen if 10,000 of us are out there actively sharing our faith. Take advantage of Easter. Don't show up alone. Grab a neighbor and say, "Come with me." Let me pray you would.
Father, we know you do not give us a spirit of timidity, that your Spirit does not make us timid, but you gave us the Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Father, help us to know that's true. Would you make us courageous in the way we share with our friends who don't know you? Would you intersect with our words, breathe power and love, so they would resonate deep within the hearts of our coworkers, our peers, strangers, servers, people who we run into, that they would cross over from death to life?
May we be motivated by the fruit of the labor that you work in and through us. Help us to see it, God. I pray you would make this church one like the world has not seen in this day and age, that its members would faithfully share. Would you do that in and through us? In Jesus' name, amen.
I want to remind you of this opportunity that's coming up called Unashamed. I've told you before about how that started. Todd has talked about it as well. It's something you can do. I think we have a slide. If you want more information, the website is
www.watermark.org/dallas/ministries/unashamed. Go check it out.
Pray for Ron, Ashley, Kina, and Hanan. I would love to pray with you or pray for you in whomever you are sharing with, whomever you're inviting this Easter, whomever you're engaging with. You can write that down in the Watermark news. Put in the back. Our staff and a team of folks, hundreds of folks, will be praying with you this week as you share with them. Have a great week of worship.