Jump Start # 2916
Acts 8:12 “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.”
The other day I was going through some ledgers where I keep record of sermons that I have preached. Each week I record the title, the date and the place. Many preachers write those things on the back of the sermon itself. Not me. I keep my info in ledgers. I was looking at the year 1998, some twenty-three years ago. I was on a journey looking for something specific. But in flipping through the pages of that ledger it made me think about all those sermons. Lots of sermons. Lots of sermons since 1998. And, of course, two questions popped in my mind. I wonder if anyone remembers any of those sermons. Then, I wonder if anyone was helped by those sermons. A lot of time when into thinking, researching and writing those sermons. Most were preached just one time and that was it. They won’t be preached again. I have them and probably need to toss them in a large fire someday. But it’s hard to part with them. They were more than just work, they were part of me.
Our verse tells us about Philip. He was in Samaria. He was preaching up a storm. He was preaching about the kingdom of God. There was good news about the kingdom. It was possible for even Samaritans to belong to that kingdom.
What we have are the three key and necessary aspects that lead to salvation. A message was preached. That was Philip’s job. Bring the book, is what preachers must do. Don’t preach yourself. Don’t promote yourself. Don’t take the focus off of the cross. Second, people listened. The greatest message does little good if no one can hear it. The people had a heart to listen and to believe. When the message and an open heart intersect, great things will happen. And, that leads to the third aspect, salvation. Only God can bring salvation. Philip can preach about it. The Samaritans can believe in it. But, only God can save. The bridge from God to us, that we must travel, is the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Preach it. Listen to it. Do what it says. Obey it. Then, you will find God meeting you with His saving grace. Take the gospel out, and you’ll not find God. Remove the listening ear and the believing heart and you won’t find God.
Now, why is all of this important? Modern thinking has moved away from preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, they preach, but it’s not the Gospel. They preach a message of laughter, good times, gathering, connecting, making friends, but what is left out is the need to change. What is left out is the message that we are sinners and that we need Jesus Christ. What is left out is Bible doctrine, obedience, and believing God as He as revealed Himself. Salvation has switched from obedience in Christ, to feeling good about yourself and life. I’m certain the rich farmer in Jesus’ parable in Luke felt good about himself. His life was all mapped out. He forgot one detail, God. He never thanked God. He never included God. He never obeyed God. And, when his soul was called that very night, he was cast into eternity unprepared. He was successful here but a failure there. He had everything taken care of here, but he had nothing taken care of there.
God cannot meet us with His saving grace if we no longer preach the good news of His message. God cannot redeem us and forgive us if we are believing things that are made up and not based upon His word. We may feel good. We may have a blast. We may have everything planned just so. But, what we have failed to see is that we are not saved. We do not have the saving grace of Christ because we have not heard the Gospel message and we have not believed and obeyed that message.
Every generation has had preachers. Sermons have filled the air on Sundays. Time passes. Those preachers move to the other side of life. The sermons are put in a box and later tossed. Was any good done? What is the measure of success?
At the back of my property I have some tall, tall trees. Oaks. Beech. Hickory. Tall and straight those trees stand. They were standing there before my house was built. They were standing there before the roads were put in my neighborhood. They were standing there before the internet wires were put in the ground. They were there for a long, long time. Seasons of rain and sunshine have allowed those trees to grow so tall. And, those mighty trees have been nourished not by just one spring rain, but generations of rain. It wasn’t one sunny day that made them stand tall, it was years of sunshine. And, so it is with sermons. Likely, not one sermon provided all that you needed. But like the rain and sun, it was right for the moment. And, today you stand so tall because of years and years of sermons, articles, classes and personal study. You have fed you soul and protected it and your soul has grown. It has grown strong. It has grown tall. And, like the trees in my yard, your soul has become a blessing to others. How did you get that way? Years and years of goodness flowing into your heart. The right choices. The proper spiritual diet.
Sermons…they have a place. They are always needed.