FOCUS: Jesus is the King
FOCUS: Godliness With Contentment
FOCUS: Honoring Authority
FOCUS: Values for the Family of God
FOCUS: Protecting the Church
FOCUS: The Mission and Message of the Church
FOCUS: Church Leadership
Focus: Men and Women in the Local Church
Focus: Sinners and Saints Like Us
Focus: Sound Doctrine
What conduct should mark the life of a believer? In our series, FOCUS: A Study in 1 Timothy, David Marvin teaches through 1 Timothy 2:1-7, showing that God calls us to be a people who prioritize prayer, pray that all people might be saved, and remember who we are praying to.
Welcome, those of you joining in online, on Stage 2, the Loft, or wherever you are listening from. We are continuing the series on 1 Timothy called Focus. We are just going to keep moving forward. Let me start by sharing a story that'll frame up where Paul, in this letter that he is writing to Timothy, takes us next.
I grew up in Houston, Texas. Anybody from Houston in here? Man, we have like five people in this church total from Houston. So I grew up in Houston. You know what I'm talking about where they had something called AstroWorld. What is AstroWorld? It's our Six Flags. Sadly, it went out of business a long time ago, but when I was growing up as a kid, it was still around.
So that would be where we'd go for birthday parties, for celebrations. It's what you went to. It was the exciting time of the season when we'd get to go to AstroWorld. Something happens when you are a middle school or high school boy and you and your brothers go to a theme park and ride rollercoasters over and over and over.
Eventually, you get to the place where something that was really thrilling and exciting at first is no longer that thrilling and that exciting. So my older brother came up with games that we would play while we were on the ride. These are games that only me and my brothers or only males were able to play, and you'll understand why here in a second.
Here was one of the games that he came up with. You go on the ride, and the goal objective is not just to make it to the end. You need to change shirts with the person sitting next to you. This had to be a person who you knew. It also had to be a male. It had to be done within the ride. There were certain rules. You couldn't start until click, click, click, click, click.
You're on the ascent, and you're beginning that process. We had a confirmation system worked down so, "Hey, I need you to confirm. Confirm you have the shirt." Because if they didn't, one of you is leaving without a shirt on that ride. So we had all of this down. It was just stuff you do when you're a high school boy.
If you're in the room, you know what I'm talking about. Everybody else, I've lost all credibility already with this message, but here's the point. We played that game, but eventually even that became boring. So what did we do? We decided, or a friend who we introduced to this game was like, "I have a great idea. Here's the next challenge. We're doing a full-body clothes change, everything but underwear and socks. The whole thing on the ride."
It had to be a ride that didn't have the over strap, just the bar that was on there. We decided to do this, and we only did it one time because of what you're about to hear happened. Anyway, we get on the ride. We decide we're all great. We're psyched up to make this happen, make the switch happen. The ride begins. We go off. It's me and my friend. We do the shirt.
Everything goes off without a hitch. Things are going fine. This is going great. We begin to go through shorts. I underestimated the fact that I was wearing basketball shorts and he was wearing jean shorts, which is very problematic when you're working with an inch of space underneath this bar. So anyway, the ride is going on. Things seem to be going okay for the moment.
I realize, as I'm trying to put on his jean shorts, "Oh man, I have a problem. It's not easy to put on jean shorts when you have a lot of space, let alone when you're working with two inches." So I'm pulling this up. I see we're coming around the last curve. I'm pulling up. I'm pulling up. I'm pulling up. I'm trying to get it to make it work. Then… And I didn't make it.
So I have to stand up and pull my pants up in front of lines of people as I exit the ride. People are thinking, "What kind of ride is this?" But it didn't end there, because of course we did what you do when you're a young male. "Man, let's go down to the kiosk and see the picture." Because every rollercoaster has that picture moment. Right?
So we go down to the kiosk, and we're going to go see at what moment in the ride this picture was taking place. Here's the picture that was where our picture should've been. In other words, they had like nine carts that are lined up, and then there's just one that doesn't have a picture. It just has the X. We wanted the picture.
Because we were going, "Hey, it's kind of a funny memory and moment." So I ask the lady behind the kiosk. "What happened to that picture?" She responds with, "Inappropriate conduct, sir. I can't show you that picture." "Please, look. We were having a little fun. Can I have it?" "Inappropriate conduct. You're lucky that I'm not kicking you out of the park right now."
What does that have to do with 1 Timothy? Nothing. I just needed to get that off my chest. No. In this passage that we're about to look at as it relates to appropriate and inappropriate conduct, the apostle Paul is going to transition and say, "This is the appropriate conduct that should mark the life of the believer."
Further throughout chapter 2, as we'll study next week. "Hey, here's some inappropriate conduct that should not mark the life of a believer." He is going to say in this next section of the book. "Hey, this is the appropriate conduct that should mark a member of the body of Christ." Last week, we did chapter 1. If you're taking notes, you're following along.
Basically, you could break Timothy down into chapter 1 is the message of the church. Chapter 2 is the members of the church and their conduct. Chapter 3 is the ministers who lead the church. And chapters 4 and 5 are really the ministry of the church, if you will. So today, we're going to look at the conduct that should mark the members of the church, or one of the conducts that he talks about.
We'll talk about more of them next week. One of the conducts that should mark members of the church. Because what is at stake in this scenario? If our lives are not marked by appropriate conduct, it's not just missing a picture at a kiosk from a roller coaster. It is missing our purpose on this planet as the people of God.
So we're going to look at one of the first things that Paul says, "This should mark your life." He even says, "First things first. This is what members of the body of Christ should do." First Timothy, if you're not familiar or just joining us, was a letter written by the apostle Paul. Paul was the artist formerly known as Saul.
He had his life radically changed by Jesus one day when he was riding along the road trying to stomp Christianity out. Jesus shows up and knocks him off his donkey. That's a true story. He says, "You're going to come work for me." Paul spent the rest of his life making disciples and spreading the message of Jesus.
Along the way, he met a guy named Timothy. Timothy became the Robin to Paul as Batman. He became his protégé. He became the guy who Paul said, "I have no one else in my life who is like Timothy." They had an incredibly strong relationship. Paul, at some point, went to the church of Ephesus. In other words, there was a city named Ephesus where a small church began to grow and grow.
Paul spent three years there. He loved the Ephesian church. At the end of those three years, he moved on to go minister in other places, and he left behind Timothy. "You're going to be the leader of the church of Ephesus." So he leaves him behind, and then Paul eventually shortly after writes to Timothy, and begins to give instructions as it relates to the conduct that should mark the body of Christ.
So we're going to look at some of the first things that he says. This is the conduct that should mark the body of Christ. So I'm going to read the entire passage, then we'll slowly walk through it for the next 25 or so minutes. Famous last words. Here you go. Verse 1, of chapter 2.
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth."
Specifically, Paul brings up the conduct of prayer, which is a huge topic as we're going to talk about for the next few minutes. It is an action or a behavior or a conduct that without it being involved in your life, your relationship with God is not going to grow. My relationship with God is not going to grow, and I forfeit one of the most significant ways to influence society and the world around us that God has, if not the most significant way.
So here's what I'm going to walk through. I want to talk through three ideas. Paul says prioritize prayer or keep prayer in focus, if you will, with our series. Then he goes into who to focus some of your prayers on. Then he talks about not losing sight or not losing focus of the God who is there.
So the first idea of prioritizing prayer. He says "First of all, then, I urge…" Then he gives the word prayer in four different ways as it was hammering home the idea. If you take notes, the first idea is prioritizing prayer. That the body of Christ, the conduct that should mark us is we are a people who prioritize prayer. Prayer, as in talking to God about what we're facing, talking to God about those around us, and talking to God about whatever we're going through.
"…supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings…" They all have a little bit of nuance, but he is hammering home, "Just go to God. Talk to God. Talk to God. Talk to God." Why do I say that? Supplications by definition is presenting a need to God for the sake of having it met. Prayer is the presentation of needs to God. Intercessions involves submitting a request to God. Thanksgivings is expressing gratitude or appreciation to God through communication.
His point is go to God. When you're anxious, do you turn to God or do you turn to WebMD to see what symptoms align with whatever you're feeling that day? When you're anxious about something at work, are you quick to go to God or quick to call on a colleague or quick to call up someone else? None of which are bad things, but Paul is saying, "Go to God. Go to God."
If something is important enough to worry about, it is important enough to pray about. If you're concerned about your principal at school, are you quick to call up another mother before you go to God and pray for them? Whatever you're facing, Paul says, "Go to God. Go to God." The people of God prioritize prayer.
The reason this is so essential and such a huge part of the Christian life is without communication in any relationship, you can't have intimacy, right? In other words, there's no marriage that would define, "You know what was really healthy? Ever since we made this one move, we've been so much healthier. We just stopped communicating. We've been married enough that I don't even need to talk to her ever again." No. That'd be terrible advice.
Every relationship that is healthy and intimate involves communication, whether it's with a friend, whether it's with a spouse, or whether it is with God. One of the ways that you and I continue to grow our relationship is going to God, spending time with him in prayer, both extended time and in the moment. With whatever I'm facing, I go to him in prayer. I go to him in prayer. I turn to him in prayer.
This season, I think most of us have gotten really tired of Zoom, or maybe it's just me. I'm speaking for myself. Zoom or FaceTime or Microsoft Teams, which is how we communicate in the office, or did throughout a lot of the last season. Eventually, most people come to a place where they're like, "I'm so over it. I'm done with the Zoom. If we have to Zoom, I don't even want to do it."
In my own life, I can definitely get there, with one exception. There's one group of people that I never get tired of using FaceTime with. Never. That is my kids, especially when I'm away on a trip or when I'm away on a trip or I'm traveling out of the country. When I'm away for something for work, I'm missing out. I'm separated from them in the sense that I'm not as fully connected as I will be again.
In those moments, I never get tired of using FaceTime my kids. Here I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, a boy and a girl. I never get tired of hearing. You can imagine, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old on FaceTime. They're not bringing up deep philosophical things. They're like, "Look, I had french fries today. Look at this toy I got."
Despite that, I love talking to my kids. It never gets old. If I'm separated or I'm away from them, I love using FaceTime because I want to communicate no matter what they want to talk about or no matter what we end up talking about. The picture that we're given in Scripture as it relates to prayer with God and our relationship with him as Father is prayer is the FaceTime that we have with God.
Like any good heavenly Father, he is not concerned over whether or not you're talking about all the right things with him. He wants to have a relationship. He wants you to talk to him. He wants you to not feel like you have to bring up only certain things or you can't go to him and be honest and intimate and actually see him as Father.
Paul says, "Man, prioritize. Whatever you're walking through, talk to God. Talk to God. Talk to God. If you're afraid of something that's going to happen, you talk to God about it. If you're upset about something happen, are you talking to God about it?" Prioritize prayer. Then he says not just focus on prayer, but he gives some specific things and people to focus our prayers and some of our prayers on.
He says that prayer would "…be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…" Or your translation may say authority. "…that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
So Paul says pray for everyone. Pray for people in leadership. That would include elders, local leadership, the president, elected officials, and your boss at work. Spend time talking to God, and pray that all people would be saved. The second idea we see from this text is Paul saying pray for all people to be saved, for everyone to come into relationship with God.
Have prayers focused on God saving the lost. This idea of all people being saved would've been radical to the original listeners of this message, the original recipients of this in a way that's not really as radical to us today. Why do I say that? When Christianity was birthed, it was primarily birthed among Jewish people who came to faith in Christ.
In other words, it was almost entirely Jewish men and women who had been raised Jewish and were Jewish, and then they came to faith in Jesus. They were reconciling or trying to reconcile the fact that for years and years and years the Jewish population and the nation thought and saw, sometimes wrongly, that, "We're really the people who God cares about.
He kind of loves everybody, but really at the end of the day, we're God's chosen people, his special possession. He really loves us. God is heaven going, 'Give me a J! Give me an E! Give me a W! Go Jews!' He is really all about us." Then Jesus comes along and he says, "No, God's heart is for the world. It's for everybody."
There's not a person alive or who has ever lived who God did not love, give his life for, care about. No matter the color of their skin, the language they speak, the time period they lived, their nationality, all of them. So the recipients are continuing to have a better understanding of what God is actually like. His heart is for all people.
So Paul says, pray for all people to be saved. When it comes to your prayer life, maybe one of the more convicting questions I had asked myself is, "If I was to take the sum total of my prayers this past week, how many of them at the epicenter were me and the things I want to get done? How many of them would be God saving someone else, whether it's a neighbor, whether it's somebody in my family who doesn't have a relationship with him?"
If you were to take the sum total of your prayers this past week, how many of them could you connect directly to you praying specifically for a person to come to knowledge of the truth, as it were Paul states, or to be saved by God? Paul says, "Go to God who desires all to be saved and pray for the salvation, or focus on salvation, of lost people around you."
He includes a really interesting addition or addendum, if you will. After saying, "Pray for everybody." He says and then pray "…for kings and all who are in high positions…" Paul, why do you need to include that? If you say, "Pray for everybody," they would fall into everybody.
I think one of the reasons he did it is our tendency when it comes to positions of authority such as the president or the Senate or the school board administrator or superintendent is to be quick to criticize and slow to pray. Consider that the most distinct thing about whatever person, no matter what position they hold, is they are someone made in the image of God who Jesus loves and gave his life for.
Every member of the Supreme Court, whether they vote the way you want them to or not, Jesus would say, "I love that person." Every person on the school board? He gave his life for that person. Every person who you work with, the CEO or your boss, your director at work? Jesus gave his life for that person.
Paul says spend time going to God, asking that he would save people in positions of authority and save all people regardless of who they are. Which is crazy when you think about who the king… When Paul wrote this, who was the king? In other words, sometimes we think that, "Dude, the world is crazy and this party is crazy."
Especially in America, where we think, "These leaders are the worst of the worst and they're terrible and how is this the best America has to offer?" Any elected official right now is a hundred thousand times better than the king in this day who Paul says, "You should pray for him to be saved. You should pray for him. You should spend time praying for him."
Why do I say that? Who was the emperor or the king in this day? It was a man named Nero. If you're not familiar with Nero, Nero ruled the Roman Empire, which basically ruled the world, during the 60s…AD 60 to 64. It was right around the time that Paul was writing this letter. Nero was by all historical accounts a psychopath.
I don't mean, "I just don't like how he votes on things." I mean like a crazy person. Nero set the city of Rome on fire, and went around playing a fiddle while it burned because he just wanted to have some new construction built with his own artistic touch on it. Then he blamed Christians for the burning and had widespread persecution take place because of his blaming it on them.
He was a guy who was married five times. Not just any five times. He killed his first two wives. Then his fifth marriage, he decided, "You know what? I'm going to mix it up. I want to be the wife this time." And he married a guy and declared himself the wife. He was by all accounts crazy. He had his own mother killed. This man launched the persecution of the church.
Prior to that, there was not a persecution wave like the one that Nero started, where you had Christians murdered and burned outside of the city. I'm about to read a text from a Roman historian talking about how harsh Nero was toward Christians. Paul says, pray for this man. Here's what the Roman historian Tacitus… This is a guy who is not a Christian.
This is not in the Bible. This is a guy who wrote about the time period of Roman rule, and he wrote specifically in the days when Nero was around. He wrote about what Nero was doing to Christians. After he blamed them for the fire in Rome, he had them rounded up and sentenced to death. Here's what Roman historian Tacitus says in his book Annals.
"In their very deaths [Christians] were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for evening lights," outside the city. Paul writes and says, "Pray that this man would spend eternity with Jesus. Pray that this man, who is doing horrific things to family members and members of the family of God, pray that he would come to a realization that Jesus is the Savior, that Jesus is God, and put his faith in Jesus."
Imagine Timothy, who is reading this to the Ephesian church. He is leading the Ephesian church. He would take this letter, and he is reading out loud. He is saying, "Oh, and he says pray for Nero." Paul says every person is someone God wants to save. Every political candidate that you'll see in the next few weeks is somebody who God gave his life for. He says pray for all people to come to a knowledge of the truth in Jesus.
The radical ethics in the New Testament over and over are so convicting and humbling. Or Jesus would say in Matthew, chapter 5, "…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…" The most significant thing that you and I can do as it relates to the… I don't even know what the right words are, and whatever I say is going to maybe offend somebody.
The climate around us feels so polarized and so crazy. Yet in the midst of all of that, the most significant thing that I can do as it relates to an elected official or as it relates to an issue is pray that God would save that elected official. That God would capture that person's heart, no matter who is elected. God can save anybody at any time in any moment. He wants, according to the text, every person to be saved.
Let me draw down even more fully in how this was convicting for me this past week. I am, like the body here, passionate about the pro-life issue. The Bible tells us that human life begins at conception in Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1:5. Inside of the womb is a life, but when it comes to that issue, the most significant thing, not the only thing, but the most significant thing that I can do as it relates to seeing abortion ended in our generation is go to God in prayer.
By the way, if that's a part of your story, there's nothing but incredible grace from God as I know there are men and women who have had that as a part of your story. There's nobody who God can't use and heal. All of us have fallen short. All of us are sinners who are broken. As it relates to that issue, my biggest, most significant lever to pull is not to post about it.
It's not wrong to post about it. It's not to talk about it. It's not wrong to talk about it. It is to pray about it to God, and go to him. I don't know what those issues or what those things are in your life, but I do know that God has invited us, and Paul is commanding, "Pray for people in positions of authority."
As it relates to your kid's school board. Maybe you see the way it's going, and you're like, "Honey, we're about to homeschool." Or, "We're not going back because of the decisions that are being made." The most significant thing that you can do is to pray to God. "God, would you save the person in this position of leadership or at your company? God, would you save the person in leadership at my company?"
That's not the only thing you can do, but it is maybe the most significant thing that you can do. The reason is because of who you're praying to when you do that, which is who Paul lays out and reminds us of in verse 4. "… [God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God…" By definition of being God, that means he controls everything. He can do anything.
"…and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…" In other words, there's only one way to that one God. "…who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." So he says, "Hey, there's only one God who can do anything out there. You can talk to him in prayer. That same God who can do anything out there?
He loves humanity so much that he gave himself as a ransom for every person on the planet. He said, 'Take me instead of them. I will give my life to pay for their sins. I'll take what they deserve so they can have what they did not earn, which is eternity with God.'" That's what Christians believe. That's the message of the gospel. But in the midst of praying…
We have prioritize prayer, pray for people to be saved, and don't lose focus of who you're praying to. You're praying to the God who controls everything, who loves everyone, and can do the unimaginable. We're invited to go to him. He loves everyone so much he would give his life. Whatever the price, he'll pay it.
I'm going to use names that are true. The quality God is most concerned about for Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden is them having a relationship with him, first and foremost. No matter what position you hold in this land, in this life, if you spend eternity in hell apart from God, you have failed.
As the people of God, we go to God in prayer remembering, "There's no person in my family that he can't save in a moment. There's no person at your workplace that he can't change their heart in a moment. Proverbs, chapter 21, verse 1 says that people's hearts… It says a king's heart, but it applies to everybody. "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will."
In a moment, no matter who is elected. We could wake up November 4, and every person in the Senate and Congress is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Not because they got elected, but because that night, God reached out his hand and opened eyes. The people of God have access to the one who controls everything, who gave his life for every person.
Paul says go to that God and spend time praying to him. I don't know who that is in your life. It could be people at your work or maybe it's a child who has gone prodigal, because he says everybody. God has invited us to go to him in prayer. In Daniel, chapter 4, it punctuates the idea that God is over all those who are in high places.
What we are responsible to do is not to save anybody but to share and to pray. God is going to do what he is going to do, and we can rest in the sovereignty and control. That doesn't mean that there's nothing to do, but we are called to go to him and pray for all people. In Daniel, chapter 4, it says that God is the one who ultimately puts every person in leadership in their position of leadership.
It says this. Daniel chapter 4, verse 17: "…the Most High [God] is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people." That God is in control. In other words, sometimes if you look around at the political landscape and you're like, "This feels like a lose-lose."
It is a win-win for believers because our God is in control, he has ordained, and he is going to work. We have been invited to go to him and say, "God, would you save the people around us? The people in leadership, local, state, nationally? The people in my life? Would you help me to be faithful to share and faithful to pray?"
We go to him and ask that he would do so. When I think about this idea… In a second, I'm going to have a chance where we're going to get to spend just a few moments being marked by the conduct, the appropriate conduct of prayer, collectively together. I'm just going to give a chance for you to spend time going before God and praying before we sing again.
When I think about this idea, I think sometimes I lose sight and I forget what can happen, how extraordinary the movements in our world have been when the people of God go to God in prayer and are faithful to share. God answers those prayers, and the unimaginable happens over and over and over again. I'll explain what I mean by that.
I'm so quick to forget I have access to the Creator of the universe who, in a moment, can capture anybody's heart, save anybody. He gave his life for everybody. I'm invited to go and ask God to stretch out his hand and to save people. How remarkable it is when the people of God actually do that. The unthinkable happens.
There's a picture that I look at on my desk every single day in the office. It's a picture that my wife gave me. I'll explain why this is such a reminder to me of what happens when the people of God are faithful to share and faithful to pray and what God ends up doing. Before I explain more what that is, this is a picture of the Roman Colosseum.
The Roman Colosseum was built in the first century by an emperor named Vespasian. It had 80 different gates, and held 50,000 people. It held 50,000 people. It was one of the marvels of the world. One of the walls has been torn down, as you can see. It was three stories high. The 80 gates were just like American Airlines.
You'd go up. You'd find your gate. You'd park your camel, and you'd go on inside with the exception of one of them. There was a gate that was reserved for only one person, and that was the emperor's gate. The emperor would go through, and he would go through his gate, and he would eventually make his way to his seat.
Historians estimate that 400,000 people lost their lives in a few centuries inside of the Roman Colosseum. It was a depiction of the brutality and the murderous attitude of Rome. It was the devaluing of human life where people would show up and 50,000 people would come together. They would gather around, and they would watch men and women thrown to lions, thrown to animals, and forced to kill one another.
It was the heart of the brutality and a picture of the attitude of that culture. Thousands of Christians lost their lives here, and they especially lost their lives at Nero's circus, which was right down the road from where this was in Rome in this time where Paul and the Christian movement is beginning.
Today, where the emperor once sat is no longer an emperor, but it is a cross in the emperor's seat in the Roman Colosseum. Let me explain why this is so powerful to me. It's such a depiction of, if the people of God, if they come together and pray, they share no matter what they face, they're saying, "God would you save people? I'm going to share the message of Jesus. I'm going to go out into this world," and God answers those prayers. The unthinkable can happen.
Think about if we could go back in a time machine. We travel back to the first century where Christians are being killed. They're being crucified outside of the city wall. You go inside of the Roman Colosseum. Maybe you talk to some family members who just saw their brother or just saw their sister, maybe their sister in Christ, be killed inside of a Colosseum filled with 50,000 people chanting on, bloodthirsty.
You get them together, and they're weeping over the fact that their sister's body is being dragged off of the Colosseum floor. You would say, "In just a few short years, the faith that you have, that she had, the faith that is spreading all throughout the empire… It's going to overtake the emperor, the empire, the world, and Rome will fall. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Keep sharing. Keep praying. Keep going to God." They couldn't have believed it.
There was a saying in that day that Rome is forever. Imagine if we could pull aside one of the centurions who was dragging the bodies of men and women who were dead and their blood soaking into the sand. We pull him to the side and say, "Hey look, in a few short years, the message of Jesus is going to so explode that now where the emperor sits declaring life or death, there won't sit an emperor declaring brutality or the murder of Rome or life or death but a picture of God's love for the world, a cross.
It is not representing crucifixion, a style of murder. It is representing a single crucifixion of Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, who billions of people are going to worship and know is the one true God who gave his life." He couldn't have believed it. How did that happen? To us, we look back and we have the vantage point of understanding history, but if you go back in time, they wouldn't have believed that people in every level of society are going to become saved.
Eventually, Rome is going stop trying to stomp out Christianity and just go, "We're a Christian nation," imperfectly, in all the ways that played itself out. How did that happen? Where an emperor sat, now sits a cross. The people of God shared the message of the gospel. They prayed for God to save people, and God answered those prayers by the millions and thousands.
The unthinkable happened where a culture and society that people thought would never change was toppled by the message of the true and only King of Kings, Jesus. Whatever you think is unimaginable, whether it's the salvation of somebody in your life that you've been praying for for eight years and you're just going, "God, when are you going to save this person?"
Whatever you think is unimaginable as it relates to us as our country as a whole and as a nation is not impossible. God has done it before. He has done it over and over throughout history, but it happens when the people of God share the message of Christ and they go to God in prayer. Now we're going to have a chance for us to do that for just a few minutes right now where I want to encourage you.
I want you to pray if there is somebody in your life who you have been saying, "God, will you please save this person?" As they come to mind, the band is going to come up and play behind before we sing another song. I want you to go to God right now and ask him, "Would you save them?" I want you to pray for the election coming up.
Pray for Joe Biden and for Donald Trump, for God to save both of those men, which would be the most significant thing that either of them needs in life. I hope when you see the debates, and everything that's happened ahead, I hope all of us go, "God save this person." Then go and ask him to move in the midst of any other position of leadership, whether it's somebody at work or anybody else in your life who you know they don't have a relationship with God.
There's one group that as we do this, you can't go to God in prayer, because you never had a moment where you trusted in God or trusted in Jesus as the death and payment for your sin, for everything bad you've ever done in your past, everything you ever will do in your future. Jesus paid for. He extends the free gift. "Will you not trust in how good of a person you are? That won't ever get you into heaven. You have to trust in me! I've already paid for it!"
If you will accept it by faith, your life will change, and your eternity is going to change. The message of Christianity is not whosoever behaves for Jesus has eternal life. It is whosoever believes in Jesus, trusts in Jesus as the payment for their sin, who is the only way they can go to God because he is the one mediator. They have eternal life.
Right now, you need to do what Nero in that seat never did. Nero's emperor's seat is your heart, if you will. You have to put the cross in the place or position of ruling your life and your heart. That's the next step that you need to take, and just say, "God, I'm a sinner. I'm unworthy of a relationship with you.
I know you gave your life on the cross and you died and you rose again to prove the payment was more than enough. I'm not trusting in how bad I am or how good I am or how many times I go to church. I'm not thinking that anything in my rearview mirror of my past can keep me away from you because you paid for it." That's the prayer you need to pray. For the rest of us, we're going to just storm the gates of heaven right now and just pray for our land, for our leaders, and for those in our lives who are lost. Then I'll close us out here in just a second.
Father, I know that there are thousands listening, and thousands of prayers that are sent in your direction related to men and women who are in our families, are in our government, and in our lives that we are asking, "Would you save them?" You do the unimaginable all the time. You do what only you can do, which is abundantly more than all we ask, think, or imagine.
Would you help us to be people who faithfully share and faithfully pray? Would you stretch your hand and save? I pray that you'd save every person listening right now who has never actually put their faith and trust in what Jesus did. They have a misunderstanding even of what Christianity believes or is. That you now would open their eyes and they would accept the free gift that you have extended and worship you. Would you be magnified in our lives? We worship you in song, amen.