The Difference Easter Makes

This has become somewhat of an annual event to have a breakfast like this on Good Friday, leading into Easter weekend. And it struck me while I was preparing this that Easter weekend is really different from all other weekends and holidays on the calendar. Because if you think about it, we’re commemorating two of the most significant events in all of human history. And of course, Easter weekend, I guess some would say, started last night on Maundy Thursday, but really, it starts in my mind today, on Good Friday, that somber day where we reflect on the Crucifixion and then leads on to Sunday when we celebrate joyfully Resurrection.

And today I want to share with you some thoughts on both of these events, and then I’m going to, at the end, bridge them together, really pull it together into a central theme.

And where I want to start is, I want to read to you two verses out of the book of Acts. It’s Acts chapter 17, and it’s where Paul gives his famous sermon at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. You know, Paul goes into Athens, that was the center of learning and scholarship where all the Greek philosophers were, and as you’re reading, Paul interacts with some of the stoics who were a certain school of philosophers there, and they are so fascinated by him, they take him to the Ariopagus which is this place where he can stand and speak to a big group of people and have discussion, kind of like Hyde Park in London. And Paul gives this brilliant talk, and he quotes their philosophers. He quotes their poets, and then he gets right down to the end of his sermon. And this is the way he closes it. He says, “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent because He’s fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, through a man who He has appointed having furnished proof to all men, by raising Him from the dead.” Now, one of the first things that strikes me about these words is that Paul says that God has fixed a day out in the future when He’s going to judge the world. And he says, “He will judge the world justly and in righteousness.

And so, as we think about this judgment, we have to ask the question. But when you think of any kind of judgment, what is the criteria? What is the scale that’s going to be used to judge us by? I was talking to a young man recently, you know that airliner had gone down, and it was right around that time. He was headed overseas, and we got into an interesting conversation. And somehow, I engineered the conversation. I said, well, if the plane went down and you died, do you know that you’d go to Heaven? And he seemed pretty confident. And I said, why? He said the good in my life outweighs the bad. And I was reading that in a survey that this is the way so many people think there’s a scale out there. And hopefully my good is going to outweigh the bad. I don’t know if any of you read, the remarks by former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg the other day. He’s just pledged to spend $50 million to push gun control, The New York Times reported, and for this and other deeds, such as taking on obesity and smoking, listen to what Bloomberg said, and he’s a billionaire. He founded Bloomberg News. He says, “I’m telling you, if there is a God, when I get to Heaven, I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I’m heading straight in. I’ve earned my place in Heaven. It’s not even close.”

Now, this is a natural way to think because you know, this is the way life operates. Particularly out in the world of business. You have to earn what you make. This is the way the religions of the world work. You live your life. You present your record to the divine being of your religion. And hopefully you measure up. But as I shared with my younger friend who was headed overseas, how do you know that your good outweighs your bad? How do you really know today where you stand?

Randy Alcorn, who is a very fine teacher and writer tells of a story, a true story of a woman who was really pushing her husband to go meet with Dr. Alcorn. And he finally, his name was Rudy and Rudy finally showed, they finally were able to get together and he could tell Rudy did not want to be there. And he said, well, what can I do for you, Rudy? When he said kind of gruffly, my wife wants me to get some religion. He said, why is that? She doesn’t want me to go to Hell. So, Alcorn strikes up a conversation with him and Rudy kind of loosens up and begins to kind of like Alcorn. And then Alcorn made a really, I think insightful, gave him an insightful question. He said, well, Rudy, when you stand before God, what do you think will keep you from going to Hell? And there was this dead silence. And then Rudy chuckled, I guess I never really thought about it. He said, yeah, but you know, I’m really not a bad person. No, I don’t run around on my wife like some of my friends do and I try to be nice most of the time. And so, Alcorn says, we decided, you know, I’m going to try to help him out. He said, so God probably has this big scale, wouldn’t you think? On one side would be your sin, and on the other side would be all your good works. He nodded, he kind of liked the direction the conversation was going. And when God puts your life on this big scale, you’ll have more good than bad and everything will be okay. Is that right? A smile across Rudy’s face. He really liked what Alcorn was saying. He said, I want you to help me out here, Rudy. And he took out a big old piece of paper. And on one end he wrote totally evil, 0% good. And he draws this long line. And to the other end, it said, totally good. A hundred percent good. So, you had this big line. Totally evil. Totally good. I said, now, Rudy, you just need to decide how much more good than bad you need for the scale to tip in your favor.

And Alcorn says, “I handed Rudy my pen and asked him to put an X on the line to mark how close to totally good he’d have to get to be good enough for Heaven. Rudy studied the pad for a few minutes. He went down to about 75%. Then he went back down to about 60. Finally, about right at 70%, he put an X Mark. He handed up on the pen back without looking up. I pointed to his mark and say, let’s say you hit your spot right on the nose, Rudy, because you’re really not as bad a guy as all those friends of yours that you were mentioning. But what if, when you meet your Maker, He reveals to you that unfortunately, the X spot is further to the right. Say it’s 71%. If you were 70% good but God said the minimum requirement was actually 71%, where would that leave you? He crossed his arms. He didn’t look at me. He said, well, it wouldn’t be good.” Then Alcorn said, “I thought this was really wise.” He said, then really finding out where that actual X is on that line would be probably one of the most important questions in your life. Wouldn’t you think? He grunted in agreement. Yeah, but I’m not really sure where it’s got to be. Well, Alcorn closes the notebook. He’s walking away and Rudy says, can I know exactly where the X is? Cause I really need to know. And then Alcorn explained to him there are really two options you got. The first is the X is at a hundred. You’ve got to be sinless because it says in the book of James, if you’ve committed one sin, it says is if you are guilty of all. He says the second alternative, or the second option is you can be forgiven of your sins. In other words, your slate can be wiped clean. So, when you stand before God, if your slate is wiped clean, it’s as if your record was sinless because it’s been wiped clean.

As we come together on this Good Friday, I would tell you that Jesus’ entire mission centered around this one issue, the forgiveness of sin. It seemed to be His mission. Think about the Christmas story. When Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant and he’s not the father and then the angel comes and tells him she has conceived by the Holy Spirit, so stick with her Joseph and you will call His name Jesus, chapter one, verse 26. You will call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins. In the midst of his ministry in Luke 9:56, Jesus says, “I didn’t come to destroy men’s lives. I came to save them. I came to save them from their sinfulness.

And then at the very end, right after the Resurrection, Jesus is giving His final instructions to all of His men. And He says, this is the message that you’ll take out into the world, repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Now, you may be asking, what does Good Friday have to do with the forgiveness of sins? Well, that has everything to do with it. And to really understand this, or maybe, demonstrate this, I want to share with you a really good story. It’s going to take me a minute but it’s worth hearing. And it’s a great story for you to hear on this Good Friday.

It’s about a guy by the name of Barry Leventhal. Leventhal was a great football player. He played for UCLA in the late sixties. He was on a team that was expected to not really fare well. And yet they surprised everyone by winning the conference, going to the Rose Bowl and upsetting Michigan State. And he was a hero. He was the captain of the team. It was one of the great moments of his life. And Barry Leventhal was Jewish. He wasn’t a real practicing Jew, but he grew up in a Jewish family. And one of his best friends on the team was a guy by the name of Ken. Then several weeks after their Rose Bowl victory, he and Ken were in the student union talking. And one of Ken’s good friends, a student minister by the name of Hal comes up and they get into a conversation. And somehow, they began to talk about the Jewish Messiah that is discussed so frequently in the Old Testament. And Hal begins to share with Barry, these Messianic prophecies and showing them how they clearly point to Jesus. Well, Barry loses his temper. He goes ballistic. He says, I can’t believe you’ve done this. That you’ve produced this fake Old Testament. You Christians have done this to try to trick us Jews into believing in Jesus. And Hal said, well now, just calm down, and he said, I’m going to do this. I’m going to write 10, 12, 15 of these prophecies and you take it back. You get out your Jewish Tanakh, which is their Old Testament and look them up yourself. Leventhal grabs the piece of paper, leaves angry. He says, all right, don’t call me. I’ll call you.

But that night he’s kind of intrigued by the conversation. So, he goes and pulls out his old Tanakh, which he hadn’t read since he was 13 at his bar mitzvah. And he began to look up some of these prophecies about the Jewish Messiah. And he is absolutely stunned at what he reads, particularly when he gets to the famous chapter in the book of Isaiah chapter 53, that describes this suffering servant. In fact, it reads almost like an eyewitness account of Jesus’s life and Crucifixion, and yet, it was written 650 years before Jesus was even born. Listen to Leventhal’s words. “I vividly remember the first time I seriously confronted Isaiah 53, or better still, the first time it seriously confronted me, being rather confused over the identity of the servant. In Isaiah 53, I went to my local rabbi and I said to him, rabbi, I’ve met some people at school who claimed that the so-called servant in Isaiah 53 is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. But I’d like to know from you, who is this servant in Isaiah 53.” Barry was astonished at the response. The rabbi said, “Barry, I must admit that as I read Isaiah 53, it does seem to be talking about Jesus. It does seem to be talking about Jesus, but since we Jews do not believe in Jesus, it can’t be Jesus that Isaiah is describing.”

Now, Barry didn’t know a lot about formal logic at that point, but he knew enough to say to himself, that’s just doesn’t sound kosher to me. Not only does the rabbi’s so-called reasoning sounds circular, it also sounds evasive and even fearful, and it was April now, more than three months after the glorious Rose Bowl victory and Leventhal says, “I suddenly realized that I had nothing that withstood the test of time, let alone the test of eternity. This was most graphically demonstrated to me by the Rose Bowl victory itself just a few months before, just a few months after the most significant event of my whole life, all the glory, everything involved was now slowly fading away into a distant memory. And I began to ask, ‘is this all there is to life?’”

So, he continues to read. He continues to study. He continues to be haunted by those words in Isaiah 53, until he finally came to the conclusion that Jesus was clearly the Jewish Messiah that’s described in the Old Testament and he gives up his Judaism and becomes a Christian. He goes to Dallas Seminary and today he teaches seminary up in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the turning point for him were those words in Isaiah 53, and I want to read just a couple of them to you to give you a feel because it’s describing what took place on Good Friday over 2000 years ago. And as I read, remember, these were written 650 years before, “that he grew up before him like a tender shoot and like a root out of parched ground. He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon him nor appearance that we should be attracted to him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised and we did not esteem him. Surely our griefs, he himself bore. And yet our sorrows, he carried yet. We ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” Listen to this. “But he was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon him. And by his scourging, we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.”

You know, Jesus in Mark chapter eight, is trying to explain to His disciples, what’s getting ready to happen. You know, they’re thinking this big earthly kingdom, they’re going to overthrow the Romans and Jesus comes along and says that, and this is verse 31 and 33, that He “must suffer many things that He must be killed. And after three days rise again.” And it’s crucial to note that he used this word ‘must’, it ‘must’ happen. I must suffer. I must be killed. I must rise again. He’s saying this is absolutely necessary to happen so that we can be forgiven of our sins. You know, every religion of the world says that there is a judge and that you will be judged, and yet in Christianity, the judge leaves the judgment seat, and he comes to earth to go to the cross. And He goes to the cross to bear our judgment so that we don’t have to. There’s nothing like that anywhere else in the world.

And this is the way Jesus says it in John chapter five, verse 24, “Truly, truly I say unto you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life.” Did you hear what he said? Does not come into judgment? We will not be judged because Christ bore the judgment; He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell on Him. Guys, as I stand before you today, I would say, this is great news.

Now, let’s move from Good Friday to Easter. Again, going back to Paul’s final words at Mars Hill that I just read to you, “having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Paul is telling us that the Resurrection is a powerful, comprehensive argument for belief. It’s the great authenticator of the Christian faith and without it, I can say this with all honesty, without it, we have nothing. But if the Resurrection is an actual historical event, it means everything. Particularly as it relates to death and dying. You may be familiar with Albert Camus, a very prominent, very popular philosopher and author. He said, “Philosophy seems to be able to provide great insight into the mysteries of life. It just doesn’t provide any good answers about death.” If you think about it, that’s true about philosophy, psychiatry, any of the sciences, and I’ll have to say, I don’t know about you, but I am continually amazed at the advances of science and technology. I mean, it’s incredible. And many scientists believe that there is nothing that we can’t accomplish. And yet every scientist in the world would admit that there is nothing in science or medical medicine that can stop the deterioration of human life as time goes by. Nothing. Now they can make the body look a little younger and they’ve been able to marginally lengthen the average lifespan, but there is no formula to keep death away from any of our doors. And yet in the Resurrection, Paul tells us in II Timothy 1:10, Christ has completely abolished death and opened up the possibility of eternal life.

I was reading a book by a retired minister who spent a great deal of time with the terminally ill, and he concluded after all this time spent with people who are dying, he said, “There is one question, one question that is consistently on their mind, probably consistently on our minds as time goes by. And that one question is this. What is going to happen to me after I die? What’s going to happen to me after I die? If a person doesn’t know, this is what creates such dread and fear of death and dying.”

You know, back in 2005, I wrote, I wrote a book called Safe Passage, Thinking Clearly about Life and Death. And as I was doing the research on it, I kept running into, in some of the books I was reading, I kept running into famous skeptics and how they struggled in the face of death. During their lifetimes, they mocked God, they made fun of Him, they scoffed at Jesus and the Resurrection yet, at the end, everything changed. In fact, that’s why Pascal says death is life’s great wake up call. For instance, the French skeptic Voltaire cried out on his death bed, “I must die abandoned of God and of men.” He was terrified. David Hume, the renowned Scottish skeptic, when he died in Edinburgh, the local paper interviewed his housekeeper of many years. She said, “In his last days, he struggled hard to appear composed, even before me, but to one who attended his bedside from so many days and nights and witnessed his disturbed sleep, and still more disturbed awakenings, who frequently heard his involuntary breathings of remorse and frightful startling, it was no difficult matter to determine that all was not right within this man.” So confident in his atheism. Probably the most famous outspoken skeptic to ever live was Bertrand Russell. And his autobiography said this of death. “Death is the night of nothingness. All death is, there is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then there’s nothing. You’re gone.” Yet, Donald Coggan former Archbishop of Canterbury in his book, The Heart of the Christian Faith says that Russell asked a priest to come right before he died and asked, “would you pray with me before I die?”

Probably the most notorious murderous person to ever live was Joseph Stalin. And he couldn’t, even he couldn’t shake the presence of God. In Newsweek magazine, it says that when he died, this is the description of his daughter. “My father died a difficult and terrible death. God grants an easy death only to the just. At what seemed to be the very last moment, my father suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, or perhaps angry and full of death and fear. Then he lifted his left hand towards the Heaven as though he were pointing you to something above and bringing it down, a curse on all of us, the gesture was full of menace. And the next moment, the spirit wrenched itself free from the flesh.” And she later said it was if he was shaking his fist at God for the very last time. And I think this is why Jean-Paul Sartre, another famous skeptic, said, “It’s difficult to be truly faithful to atheism your entire life because you’re always asking the question: What if I’m wrong? What if there is something out there?”

Rollo May was a very well-known highly regarded therapist. He wrote a book a number of years ago called My Quest for Beauty, and May recounts this time of his life. He was at Mt. Athos, a peninsula in Greece inhabited only by monks in the Greek Orthodox Church. And he was there recovering from a psychological breakdown and it happened to be Easter. And he vividly describes in his book the deeply symbolic service with all its religious icons and ritual and with the incense filling the air. And during the service, the priest gave each person these three wonderfully decorated Easter eggs, and they all pronounced ‘Christ is Risen’. And everyone in the service included Rollo May was instructed to respond, ‘He is Risen indeed’. Now you need to know that Rollo May was not a Christian. Nevertheless, he relates that he was profoundly moved by this experience. Seized by a moment of spiritual inspiration, he posed a question that is the heart of this message this morning. And this was the question. “What would it mean for our world if Christ had truly risen from the dead? What would it mean?” What would it mean to you?

Well, it means everything. Think about it. It would legitimize the claims that Jesus is the Son of God. And it also would mean that Christ has the authority and the power to teach us what is true about death and eternity. And then we can put our future hope and very lives in His loving care because He is not just any God. He is a God who raises the dead. Go back and think about the words that that minister said, that dying people want to know that one thing; what’s going to happen to me after I die, and not knowing he says is what causes such dread and terror.

But what if you do know what awaits you? What if you do know? The apostle Paul says you can know. In I Corinthians 2:9, he says, “Nothing our eyes have ever seen, nor ears have ever heard, nor anything we have ever thought of or dreamed about can compare to what waits for us in God’s eternal kingdom.” Guys, history knows of no solution, none to set us free from the terrors of death and dying, except the message found in the empty tomb of Jesus. That’s why this young, I was reading about this young Russian nun who in World War II voluntarily, she didn’t have to, she voluntarily walked into the gas chambers holding the hand of this terrified young Jewish girl, and as she walked in, she said, Christ is Risen, there is nothing to fear. Christ is risen. There’s nothing to fear.

Now, all this might sound good, might sound very hopeful, but how does a man really get this into his life? Where it’s real? For too many people, it’s just conceptual up here, but how do I get it real into my life and into my heart? How can I know for sure that I’m forgiven of all my sins and how can I be truly delivered from the fear of death where I have a real peace as I look to the future? And as I consider my mortality, how can I know that I have a future with a real hope?

Well, I’m going to answer that as we kind of wrap this up, and what I’m going to share is so crucial to understand. It’s so crucial to grasp because this talks about what is real faith. What is real faith? And I want to go back to what Jesus said in John 5:24, “Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” What Jesus is saying there is you have to believe, but the question is, what does it mean to believe? You know, believe is kind of a friendly term. And in the English language believe means to give mental assent to something; it involves just the mind. I believe in UFOs. I believe in God. I believe He exists. And therefore, many people think a Christian is someone who believes in his head that Jesus is the Son of God.

I believe and that’s all that’s required. But if you read the Greek word in John’s original document, that word believe is the Greek word pisteuo. And it has such a more dynamic meaning than just giving mental assent. It means to trust in, cling to, rely on. Many of you have heard me share this illustration of, imagine a man who knows there’s something terribly wrong with him. And he goes to the doctor and the doctor tells him you’ve got a rare form of cancer. The good news is with surgery and chemotherapy and changing your diet, you can be healed. And your first thought is joy because you believe what he’s telling you, but just believing it up here is really kind of worthless to you. Because if you really believe in the doctor, you must entrust your life into his care. Doctor, I will do what you tell me. My life is yours. I entrust myself to you. This is what it means to believe. This is what, not only an act of the head, but the heart, the will.

I went to a funeral about five years ago and the elderly gentlemen that had passed away in his eighties had written a letter to his minister about his journey to faith late in life. And it was a powerful letter. And after the funeral I was leaving and a man grabbed my arm, a man that I knew, somebody, he was 88 years old and he said, I need your help. I said, well, what can I do for you? He said, I’ve just realized something for the first time in my life. I’ve been going to church all my life. And I’ve just realized that all along, I’ve had Jesus here in my head, but he’s never made his way into my heart. Can you help me?

You know, when we start talking about surrendering the heart, I get grief from a lot of people. They say, you’re taking this way to say this belief stuff way too seriously. You know, others have said, you’re not supposed to take religion this seriously. Then there are those that think, you know, you need balance in your life. You need a little bit of religion, but just a little bit. But listen to what C.S. Lewis says in his book, Mere Christianity. He says, “If you live for yourself, you will find in the long run, only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. And you end up in a dark hole. Man gets himself into this dark hole because he lives his life as if his life belongs to himself.” It’s my life. I do what I want. Lewis goes on to say, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement. He is a rebel who must lay down his arms, laying down your arms, surrendering, realizing that you had been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor. That is the only way out of our hole, this process of surrender. This movement full speed of stern is what Christians call repentance.” Now that’s not a real friendly sounding word. Is it sound like something that radical John the Baptist would be preaching about? But go back to that sermon that I started with at the very beginning from Acts 17. What does Paul start off by saying? “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring demand that all people everywhere should repent.”

When we were reading about Jesus’s mission in Luke 24:47, the message He told the disciples to take out into the world is repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In II Peter 3:9, Peter tells us, “God does not want any person to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” Not belief, repentance. And the Jews, Jesus says in Luke 13:3, “Unless you repent, you will perish.” Now guys, this is serious stuff. And yet people don’t want to talk about repentance. What is repentance? Well, Lewis says, it’s just surrendering your heart. It comes from Greek. Repentance comes from a Greek word, metanoia, which means, a changing of mind and purpose. But literally it’s a turning. It’s a turning from self and living for self with a whole new purpose of living for God and the turning to God and living for Him.

Clearly guys, there is a link between belief and repentance and surrender. The Gospel message must be received and believed in the mind, but it has to be embraced by the heart through repentance. And I’ll just tell you this. This has so been so enlightening to me about the role of the heart in our lives. In fact, the apostle Paul says, if you’re going to have legitimate belief, it involves the heart because in Romans 10:10, it says with the heart, a person believes and is declared righteous. Doesn’t say the mind. It says the heart. And then in Psalm 14:1, the Psalmist says, “the fool says in his heart, there is no God.” He doesn’t say the fool says in his mind. And so, I began to think that we assume that most skeptics don’t believe in God because of intellectual reasons, but maybe not.

Pascal himself said based on his work who were skeptics, people almost invariably arrive at their beliefs, not on the basis of proof, which convinces the mind, but on the basis of what they find attractive to the heart. Isn’t that interesting? C.S. Lewis says that’s what attracted him to atheism. I could gratify my wishes. In other words, he was drawn to atheism or basically leaving God out of his life so he could gratify all of his desires with no divine authority to interfere with his life.

And probably one of the most prominent well-known philosophers of the 20th century was a guy by the name of Mortimer Adler. He was a skeptic all of his life and he was hostile to God and faith. And at the age of 82, he shocked everybody by becoming a Christian. And afterwards he shared this incredible admission from his own life. He said, “The decision to become a Christian lies in the state of one’s heart and one’s will, and not in the state of one’s mind.” And he even admitted, he says, “The bottom line for me is, all those years, I didn’t want to live like a genuinely religious person.” You see what he was admitting that his atheism was not intellectually driven. It came down to how he wanted to live his life. And what I find guys today, it is so much easier and fashionable these days to say, I don’t believe in God or some type of intellectual objection. It’s much easier to do that, instead of being honest and saying, I believe in him, but I reject him so I can live however I want to live. And I believe that is true in so many people’s lives. That’s the real objection. It’s not intellectual. The apostle Paul nailed man’s problem in Romans 2:5, as he addressed these words to those who rejected Jesus. He said, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” You know what we’re ultimately talking about? There is a battle for every man’s heart. It’s about repentance at the heart of faith. It’s about repentance and a surrendering of your heart.

And so, I’ll leave you with this. This is a great, great ending. And I’ve said a lot and you’ve been great audience. I’m done, but I want to close by reading to you some words from C.S. Lewis, this is a good way just to tie all this together. C.S. Lewis, probably the most prolific author of all time. born in 1898, was a skeptic, and was an atheist until the age of 31. At the age of 31, he came to believe that there is some kind of God out there. He just wasn’t sure who He was. And it was two years later after still searching that he concluded that Jesus was the Christ. That Jesus was God. What happened? He says, “In my search for spiritual truth, I finally realized that I was not simply accepting a body of doctrine and believing them, but that I had found truth. And that truth is found in a person. And that person was Jesus.” And Lewis, who was not only brilliant, but he was one of the most logical, clear thinkers of anybody I’ve ever read. His first reaction was, this was his first response, and we don’t think this way, his first response, when he concluded that Jesus was the Son of God, he concluded that Jesus demanded complete surrender of his life. As Lewis said, his demand was simply my all. You see, Louis realize that there was a logical reason for this, and the logical reason was that he recognized that Jesus was a King and not only was he a King, but He was also the King of all Kings. And that he was a wise, benevolent, loving King, who desires only the best for you and I and He demonstrates that love for us by going to the cross to rescue us from our sinfulness.

And you know, this isn’t something you would expect, would you? A majestic King that voluntarily goes to a cross, but this is what Lewis recognized. “I recognized,” he said, “you don’t negotiate with a King on how you’re going to conduct your affairs. You lay down your arms and you serve him with your life.” And that’s what God is asking each one of us to surrender. And I try and entrust our lives into His care, to repent, then we can say either yes, or we can say no, I reject your offer, but guys, Jesus makes it real clear. There is no middle ground. He himself says, either you’re with Me or you’re against Me. There is no middle ground. So, I’m going to close our time with a prayer, but I’m going to do something I normally don’t do at these breakfasts. And don’t worry. We’re not going to have an altar call or anything like that. But you may be wondering, or you may, it struck me as I was kind of closing this up, that there might be some men here today here who are like my 88-year-old friend. In fact, he even may be here today. He’s 92. And he’s the one that realized that Christ had been in his head all those years, but it never made it into his heart. And some of you might be wondering, well, what do I need to do?

Well, it’s a simple prayer. It’s a prayer of repentance. So, I’m going to close with this prayer of repentance, but this is something that you have to choose for yourself. You have to have your own faith. You have to choose this for yourself. If this is really what you want for your life. And so, guys, if this is the desire of your heart and make this your prayer as I pray it out loud, and when we’re finished, I want to make one final comment and then we’ll be gone. We’ll be done. So, let us pray.

Lord Jesus, I confess to you that I’m a simple man and Lord that I need Your forgiveness. I pray that You’ll have mercy on me, that You’ll wash my slate clean. And Lord, I surrender to You and ask that You come into my heart, that You make me complete as a man, that You make me the man that You want me to be. And on this Good Friday, I thank You for dying for me on the cross. It’s in Christ’s name that we pray. Amen.

Real quickly. If that was your prayer, I want to ask you to do something. I just want you to take where it said, where you see on this card. It says prayer request. Just circle it. That’s all you need to do; just circle it. You might just want to take it and send it back in. We’ll get with you, show you how to grow spiritually. Maybe get you into one of our small groups with some guys that maybe you know, in your age group. Y’all have been a great audience. I know it was a long message. Thank you so much. God bless you.


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