God’s Great Rescue Mission

I do want to welcome you, again, to this event. It’s something that we have started to do annually, and it’s become a tradition, and so, I’m glad you’re here.

I want to start by reading to you a couple of verses out of the Bible. And, what you’ll see is that these verses, there’s just two of them, are verses that you would normally hear read to you during Christmas. But what you’re going to see is that they have real pertinence to the topic that I want to share with you today. And what you have is, Joseph, who I guess we would say is engaged to be married to Mary. And, he’s just found out that she’s pregnant and he’s not the father. It says,

“Because Joseph was such a good man, he planned to send her away.” (Matthew 1:19)

I’m not sure what that meant, but that was the plan. And, then this Angel appears to him in a dream, and this is what the Angel says to him,

“Joseph, son of David. Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has be been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call Him name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

Now, as you read those words, what you realize is that Jesus’ mission had been well established before He was even born. In fact, if you go back 700 years prior to that, the prophet Isiah tells us how He is going to save us from our sins. He says,

“By being pierced through for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:5)

We’re told,

“God will call the inequities of us all to fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:6)

So, this plan, this mission, was well in place, far in advance of Christ even being born.

But I want to go back, and I want to focus on a phrase,

“That he will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

That word saved is an interesting word. A lot of people don’t like it. They feel like it’s something that maybe a street evangelist would use, you know, “Are you saved?” We, a modern people, we like words like to be redeemed, to have our sins atoned for, or just to be forgiven. That seems more proper. And, I share all of this with you because what I have found, there’s another word that’s used in the New Testament that I personally think captures best what Christ has done for us, and what Easter is all about. It’s a Greek word, and it’s pronounced “room-I.” It’s spelled R-H-U-O-M-I-A and what it literally means is to rescue and set free. Now, I want you to focus on those two, to rescue and set free. Those are two important words that you’ll see throughout this presentation.

Let me read to you two, these are Paul’s words. He’s the one that primarily uses it. But let me share with you a couple of verses. Paul says,

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.” (Colossians 1:13)

And, then, in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 & 10, it says,

“For they themselves report about us what kind of reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead,” that is” Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9 & 10)

So, Jesus came, it says, “to rescue us.” Now, this is significant, guys.

There’s an author by the name of Donald Miller, who shares a wonderful story, a true story, about a rescue operation that actually happened. It’s about a group of Navy Seals performing a covert operation somewhere in the Middle East, to free some hostages. He said,

“They flew in by helicopter to a secluded building. They made their way to the compound and stormed into the room where the hostages had been imprisoned for months. The room was filthy and dark. The hostages were curled up in a corner; they were terrified. When the Seals entered the room, they heard the gasps from the hostages. The stood at the door and they called to the prisoners, telling them they were Americans, telling them to ‘Get up and come on!’. But the hostages didn’t move. They sat there on the floor and hid their eyes in fear. They were not of healthy mind and they didn’t believe their rescuers were really Americans. And the Seals just stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t possibly carry everybody out. And so, one of the Seals got an idea. He put down his weapon. He took off his helmet and he curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face. He put his arms around them, and he was trying to show them he was one of them. None of the prison guards would have done this. He stayed there for a little while until some of the hostages started to look at him, finally meeting his eyes. The Navy Seal whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them. ‘Will you follow us,’ he said. Then, this hero Navy Seal stood to his feet, and finally one of the hostages did the same. And, then another, until all of them were willing to say, ‘We’ll go with you.”

The story ends with all the hostages safe on an American aircraft carrier.

Miller likes to use this story because he says, “So many people.” Maybe you’ve felt this way

“So many people see the God of the Bible as nothing but an angry judgmental wrathful God.” He says, “But instead, we should see Him like these Navy Seals who have come, in fact, to rescue us from God’s wrath. And, how does He do it? Jesus absorbs God’s wrath for us on the Cross.” Miller says, “The decision to follow Jesus is very much like the decision the hostages had to make to follow their rescuers.”

And, I think every single one of us would agree, that if any of these hostages had said, “We’re not going. We’re staying right here.” We would say that they have lost their minds. And, I share that with you because it’s interesting in the work that we do, one of the things that we find is so often many men refuse Christ’s offer of rescue. And, you have to ask yourself, why would anyone do that?

So, I’ve given this a lot of thought. I’ve been doing this work for almost 14 years now, and I’ve really seen a lot. I’ve really looked into the minds and the hearts of men as they share with me. There are several things that I’ve seen. I will start by saying that often men just don’t understand the Gospel message. In other words, they don’t realize that they’re in any type of spiritual danger. That’s why we have this five-week investigative study that I shared with you a little bit earlier. I’ve been through this with scores of men over the last 30 years. I’ve had many of them say to me, “I’ve never heard this before in my life.” I had a guy that I just finished this up with, and when we got to the end, his eyes were as big as marbles. And, he looked into my eyes and he said, “I have never heard this message in my entire life.” I had another guy who was raised in the church, and he said, “I’ve never heard this message, and I think I’m kind of mad that nobody’s ever told it to me!”

Another great example of this, maybe a little bit different take, is one of the greatest scientists in our world today is a guy by the name of Dr. Francis Collins. You may be familiar with him, very well-educated. He went to the University of Virginia, where he got a degree in chemistry. He went on and got his Ph.D. in chemistry at Yale. And, I guess he loved school so much he decided he would get his MD; he went to medical school. And, then when he was finished, he went on and taught chemistry at Yale, and then at the University of Michigan. But he’s really best known for being chosen to chair the Human Genome Project in 2003, where he led an international collaboration of 2,000 scientists in sequencing the human genome. And, most people know of him because he was appointed by President Obama to be the Director of The National Institute of Health. Clearly, guys, a very prominent scientist. And, yet, his spiritual journey I find to be quite remarkable.
He shares how he was in medical school, his third year as a resident. He was at a hospital. He said,

“I was an atheist.” He said, “One of my patients was this little old lady.” He says, “She was sweet. She was kind. But she had run out of options. She was dying.” And, Collins said that she would talk to him and share with him, and she had incredible faith, incredible peace. “And, finally, she said one day, caught him off guard and said, ‘Dr. Collins, you’ve been so nice to listen to me all this time. Tell me a little bit about you. Tell me a little bit about your faith. Tell me a little bit about what you believe.” Well, he was really caught off guard. This is what he said, “Nobody had ever asked me that question before, not like that. Not in such a simple sincere way.” He said, “I realized I didn’t know the answer. I felt uneasy.” He said, “I could feel my face was flushing. I wanted to get out of there. The ice was cracking under my feet, and all the sudden, by this simple question, everything was muddle in my life.” He said, “I began to wonder was I an atheist because of reason, a well thought out reason, or is this just the way I wanted life to be?” And he said, “It finally came to me.” He said, “As a scientist, I had always insisted on collecting rigorous data before drawing a conclusion. And yet, in matters of faith, I had never collected any data at all.” He said, “ didn’t know what I had rejected! So, I had decided I should be a little better grounded in my atheism. I had better find out what this is really all about.”

Now, Collins, I share with you the rest of this story in the book that I wrote, Reliable Truth, The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism. And, it’s fascinating how he became a Christian. But he says that today so many of the skeptics he meets, he said,

“…are just like I was. They don’t draw their conclusions from the real evidence that’s available. They don’t really know what they’re rejecting.”

It’s what the brilliant philosopher Dallas Willard called irresponsible disbelief. He says,

“That’s when people choose to disbelieve in something without any significant commitment to an investigation of that belief, by the way of sound reasoning and careful examination of the evidence.”

So, guys, the first reason people reject the rescue that God offers us is because they don’t see that they have a real need. They don’t know and they don’t understand that spiritually, they’re in great peril and that Christ has come to rescue them! But I think there’s a bigger issue involved. And, again, this comes from meeting and talking to men one-on-one. Because I’ve had a number of men over the years who say, “I truly understand it.” And, I’ve had them say, “And I believe what you share with me is true, but no thanks. I don’t want it.” Or at least, “I don’t want it right now.” It has to make you wonder, what is that really all about? What’s the real reason anyone would say no to this incredible rescue that Christ offers each of us?

I think that the Apostle Paul nails it in the Book of Romans, in 2:5. This is a verse that’s meant a lot to me over the years, and I’ll tell you why. Because it describes me in my earlier years. It helps me look back and understand my own life. And, Paul says,

“Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you’re storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, and revelation in righteous judgement of God.” (Romans 2:5)

What I’ve learned, guys, this is ultimately a battle of the heart. We naturally have stubborn hearts. We have unrepentant hearts. Now, there’s another word we don’t like. Repent. That’s the word that that crazy John the Baptist would scream out.

“Repent! The kingdom of God’s at hand!” (Matthew 3:2)

But you know, in preparing this, I went and looked up, counted every one of them, in concordance, the word repent and repentance is used 56 times in the New Testament. If it was just used once or twice or three times you would think, you would think this is something that’s kind of on the periphery. It’s not that important. But 56 times.

Let me share with you a few of these. Listen carefully, and you’ll see how significant this is. In 2 Peter 3:9 it says,

“God does not wish for any person to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

In Acts 17:30, in Paul’s famous sermon at Mars Hill, he says,

“God is declaring to all people everywhere the need to repent.” (Acts 17:30)

Jesus, risen from the dead, in Luke 24:47. He’s sending His disciples out for their final instructions and He says,

“This is the message that you’ll take out into the world. Repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 24:47)

And, then finally, very simply in Luke 13:3, Jesus Himself says,

“Unless you repent, you will perish.” (Luke 13:3)

Now, guys, this is clearly quite crucial to grasp, and yet, I don’t think we really understand what that means. Repentance. I’d heard it for years and I was clueless to what it meant. It comes from a Greek word, metanoia, which means to change your mind or your purpose. Literally, it means to turn or change course. To turn from living for self and my will to living for God and His will.

I think C.S. Lewis saw the significance of this and explained it better than anyone that I’ve seen, thus far. He talks about it in his book, Mere Christianity.  He talks about, there’s a verse in Psalm 7:15. See if this hasn’t ever applied to your life. I find it to be very simple but very appropriate. In Psalm 7:15 it says, that we have this tendency to dig a hole, hollow it out, then we fall into the hole and we wonder, “How in the world can I get out?” Has that ever happened to you? And, Lewis asks,

“What is this hole that man has gotten himself into?” He says, “He has tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs to improve. He’s a rebel and must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you’ve been on the wrong track, and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor. That is the only way out of the hole. This process of surrender, this movement full-speed astern is what Christians call repentance.”

Do you hear what he’s saying? What is repentance? He says,

“It’s about surrendering your heart, your life to Christ.”

It’s what George Sandlin likes to call “waving the white flag.” But the problem, guys, this is what most people don’t want to do. As one man once told me, he said, “I’m not surrendering my life to anybody.” And, let’s face it, it’s hard. It’s difficult. It’s a struggle. And, I’ll tell you what. There are two main reasons. And, these two reasons are very powerful forces in each of our lives. Very powerful.

The first is this. Guys, there is one question that we as men are always asking ourselves. And, it seems to be the central question that must be answered before we make decisions or take a definitive course of action. It’s a question that, I think, haunts many a man. And, this is the question, “What do people think about me? What do people think about me?” You see, guys, the fear of rejection is a powerful force in a man’s life, and some men can never shake it until the day they die.

I had a guy that I met with in Investigative Study, over 20 years ago. Before we started, he said, “You need to know this; I’m not sure I really even believe in God.” And I said, “Okay.” And, for the next 45 minutes, we talked about all of the evidence that points to the existence of a divine being. And, at the end of the session, he said, “Well, you haven’t convinced me.” I said, “Well, I guess we don’t really need to go forward because, you know, that’s really the starting place, is you really need to believe that God exists.” He said, “No, I want to go through it.” And, I said, “Are you sure?” He said, “I want to go through it.” And, so, for the next three, four, five weeks, we met, and we had some great discussions. I’m sitting here thinking, I’m talking to an atheist. And, we get to the end, and you know what he tells me? Kind of bashfully he says, “Well, I need to tell you, I really do believe in God. I really do believe what you’ve told me.” But in a very frank admission, he said, “You know.” He was young, he was really just getting his career going. He said, “I’m afraid if I become a Christian that it will impact my business, my career, and my friendships.” So, he said no. Now, think about it. It was much easier for him to say, “I don’t believe in God,” than to say, “I fear rejection. I fear what people will think about me.”

There’s an author that I have really come to like and appreciate. His name is Dr. Paul Vitz.  He’s a retired psychologist. He taught at NYU. And, you know what his specialty is what he calls the psychology of atheism. He spent a great deal of time studying and writing about famous atheists. It’s fascinating what he’s come up with. But he shares how he was an atheist until his late 30’s. He tells about why he was an atheist. Listen to this. He says,

“The major reason for me wanting to become an atheist was that I desired to be accepted by the powerful and influential psychologists in my field. In particular, I wanted to be accepted by my professors in graduate school. As a graduate student, I was thoroughly socialized by the specific culture of academic psychology. My professors at Stanford, as much as they might disagree on psychological theory, were as far as I could tell, they were united on two things. One, their intense personal ambition. Two, their complete rejection of religion.” He said, “In this environment, just as I had learned how to dress like a college student by putting on the right clothes, I also learned to think like a proper psychologist by putting on the right atheistic or skeptical ideas and attitudes.”

Do you hear what he’s saying? He says,

“I wanted to be accepted by my peers and my professors, and therefore, I feared rejection. And so, I adopted their views, whether I believed them to be true or not.”

What amazing admission!

And, you see this in John 11. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead and created an unbelievable stir. And, in Chapter 12, you read about people who saw

“These incredible signs,” it says, “and they refused to believe.” (John 12:37)

And, then it says this,

“Many did want to believe but they didn’t.” (John 12:37)

And, in John 12:43 it says why. Because

“They loved the approval of men more than they loved the approval of God.” (John 12:43)

You know, it’s hard to believe that we would allow the approval of men to set the boundaries of our faith, and yet this happens to so many of us. So, that’s the first reason.

Now, the second reason, I think, is even a more powerful force. Nobody wants to admit it, but it’s true. And, it’s pretty simple. It’s this; deep down, people are not willing to repent because they want to call the shots themselves in living their lives. Deep down, they believe God is going to radically change their lifestyle, and they don’t want that. But you know, if you think through, what we’re really saying, guys, is that we don’t trust God with our lives. And, that we can do a much better job of running our lives than He can.

It’s like the great philosopher Mortimer Adler. One of the great minds in the last century. He taught philosophy at the University of Chicago in Columbia. He helped found the Aspen Institute. He was the co-editor of the 55-volume series, The Great Books of the Western World, and he wrote 52 books himself. He described, in most of his life he says,

“I was a pagan.” And, then at the age of 82 he became a Christian, shocking the world. And, he lived another 16 years. He died at the age of 98. And, in those 16 years, he did a lot of reflection. And, he said, “As I thought back on my life, there were a number of times that I found drawn to the Christian faith,” and he said, “but I never took the leap.” He said, “Looking back, I realize that deep-down, I didn’t want to change my lifestyle. I didn’t want to live the Christian life.” He said, “The decision to become a Christian lies in the state of one’s heart, not in the state of one’s mind.”

He says, it dawned on him late in life, that his supposed atheism was not intellectually driven, it came down to how he wanted to live his life.

John Stott tells of a similar situation. He has a conversation with a young man who had been raised in the church there in England, in the Anglican Church. And, then, this young man had rejected his faith. And, he came to see Stott, and they had a conversation. Stott’s in there trying to answer all of this guy’s objectives, and they kept going round and round. And, finally, Stott stopped and said,

“Let me ask you something. If I can answer all of your questions to your satisfaction, will you return to the faith? Will you surrender and repent?”

And, there was a silence. Then, Stott said he kind of blushed, and he said,


You see, Stott said,

“This man didn’t have an intellectual problem. He had a heart problem. He had a stubborn unrepentant heart.”

Now, the best example of what I’m trying to tell you comes in a true story that the famous psychologist Scott Peck shares. He wrote the bestselling book, The Road Less Travelled. Peck had a patient that he met with. Her name was Charlene. He said,

“Charlene struggled with depression, and she kept saying over and over, ‘Life is so meaningless.” But as he probed, one of the things that he discovered, that she, apparently, had grown up in the church. And, as Peck put it, “She had a very well-developed religious world view.” And, so, he began to ask her, “Why don’t your beliefs not make a difference in your life, and help you with this sense of meaninglessness?” And, he said, “There was a long silence. And, then, she exploded with this incredible admission.” Listen to what she said. She said, “I can’t do it. There’s no room for me in that. That would be my death! I don’t want to live for God. I will not. I want to live for me, for my own sake.”

Wow. You have to appreciate this woman’s incredible honesty. In fact, I think this is a picture of the human heart, that doesn’t want to repent. That refuses to surrender. And, as she put it, “I want to live for me!”

I think this is the heart, guys, of our sinful nature. And this is why Peck says,

“There are just two states of being that a person can be in.” There are two states, not three, not four, there are only two. He says, “The first is submission to God and His will. Or, number two, refusal to submit to anything except one’s own selfish will.”

And, you know guys, Charlene was absolutely correct. She says, “This would mean death for me.”

And, she’s right. Because, Jesus, in Mark 8 says,

“Anyone who wishes to come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. But, whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul. For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-36)

For years, I never understood what does it mean to take up your cross and follow Him. And, what I learned is that the cross, back then, was an agent of death, or an instrument of death. And, that we must die to ourselves if we’re going to follow Christ. And, that’s why modern people, if they were honest, would tell you Christianity is too costly. It’s too absolute. Jesus wants too much of a commitment out of you. And, so, I’m gonna pass.

But this is what we don’t get, guys. Please hear this. This is crucial.
In Matthew 16:25, Jesus says,

“If you will lose your life and die to self,” He says, “that’s when you will find your life.” (Matthew 16:25)

It’s when you will find your life. What does He mean by that? Do you know what He’s saying? He’s saying you will find what you’ve always been looking for. That’s the great paradox of the Christian faith. In order to really live, you have to die.

And, C.S. Lewis, I think, got this better than anybody, and explained it better than anybody. He probably has sold more books than anybody in history, other than, maybe, the Bible. He sells millions of copies every year he’s been dead since 1963. And, his classic book, if you haven’t read it, I recommend, is Mere Christianity. But the last paragraph of the book, the last words of the book, you need to hear. He says,

“Give up yourself and you’ll find your real self. Lose your life and you’ll save it. Submit to death, the death of your ambition, and favorite wishes every day, and the death of your whole body in the end. Submit with every fiber of your being and you will find eternal life. But keep nothing back. Nothing that you will have not given away will ever really be yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.” And, then, he says this, “If you live for yourself, you will find, in the long run, only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look to Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.”

Now, what does he mean by everything else thrown in? He says,

“This is how you will find everything you’ve been searching for in this life: meaning, purpose, peace, joy, contentment.”

Now guys, as I bring this presentation to a close, I want to go back to where we started because I don’t think there is anything more important that I could tell you, with what I’m getting ready to share with you. Jesus came to earth on a mission to rescue us. And, as I read to you earlier, He rescues us from the domain of darkness. He rescues us from the wrath to come. And, when a person really gets this and basically integrates it into his life, it will change everything. And, it makes such a difference as you live your life in the here and the now. Let me tell you why.

Philip Yancey tells a great story, a true story, of some prisoners in Germany during World War II. They were in a Nazi prison camp in the heart of Germany. And, they lived with a great deal of despair, as you can imagine. A lot of depression, a lot of fear. They had no idea how the war was going. Would they ever see their families again? Would anybody come to their rescue? Because they had no idea what was going on in the war. But, unbeknownst to the guards, a couple of the prisoners were engineers, and they were able to build a makeshift radio. And, they heard, over this radio, that the Allies had pushed across Europe, they had entered Germany, and that the German high command had surrendered, and the war was over. But, because of communication breakdown, the German guards didn’t know it. And, as word spread within the prison, as you can imagine, a loud celebration broke out. For three days, the prisoners were hardly recognizable. They sang, they waved at the guards, they laughed at the German Shephard dogs, they shared jokes over meals. On the fourth day, they woke to find that they were now free men; they had been rescued by the Allied troops.

But, think about it. Here, they were in such despair and misery, which is the way so many people live this life. And, yet, for three days, their circumstances really hadn’t changed, if you think about it, had it? They were still in prison, they ate the same prison food, they were guarded by the same soldiers and German Shephard dogs. But they now knew the final outcome. They knew they were going to be rescued. And, once they knew they were going to be rescued, it changed everything.

And, you see guys, this is how God intends for His people to live in the present. With great joy, as we anticipate the future. Because He has told us what the final outcome is, and what our ultimate destiny is going to be, that we are rescued and that we have nothing to fear. And, yet, if we’re honest, most people don’t live their lives this way deep-down.

As Ernest Becker,  in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death says,

“The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts us like nothing else.”

He’s right. And, this shouldn’t be surprising, because, in Hebrews 2, we’re told that,

“Human beings are slaves to the fear of death all of their lives.”

The Amplified translation says,

“We’re haunted by death all of our lives.”

But in that same verse, it tells us that,

“Christ came to,” listen to this phrase, “set us free from the fear of death.”

And, I think this is critical, men. If you’re going to live a full, vibrant, and peaceful life, in this earthly existence that’s so short.

And, so I close with a powerful true story. There’s a guy by the name of Dr. Mark Buchanan.  He’s a theologian. He teaches at a seminary, I believe in Calgary, Canada. But prior to that, he was a pastor or a church, and he tells a story that took place in his days as a pastor. I’m just going to read it to you, and I’ll wrap this up. He said,

“I got home late on a Saturday night, and looked at my sermon for the next morning. The phone rings as I was getting into bed, and it was a nurse at the hospital. She was frantic. She didn’t know me, and I didn’t know her. But I was the only pastor that she had ever heard of. She said she had a situation she really didn’t know how to deal with. She said there was a man there in the hospital who was dying hard and fast. But he was dying with such anguish that he was howling, he was writhing. And, she said ‘His family is beside themselves, they don’t know what to do!’ She said, ‘Could you come and do something?’ So, he said he got dressed, he went straight to the hospital. He walked in, and this was the picture that I will forever see when I hear the word death row. He says, “This man was twisting, his limbs were flying. He was writhing, he was howling, he was moaning. But the worst thing was the look of terror on his face. He was seeing hell. And, his family was greatly distressed.” Buchanan said, “I really didn’t know what to do.” He said, “I just prayed, Lord help me. Help me.” He said, “So, I put my hand on this man, and I began to pray over him. And, he began to settle down. His breathing became regular, and his body stopped thrashing. And, then he became lucid, and I could have a conversation with him. And, so I began to ask him, ‘Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you have a relationship with Him?’ He says, ‘It turned out 25 years before,’ he said, ‘I had some type of encounter with Christ, but that was about it.” He said, “I told him, that he was just hours from going to eternity.” He said, “I want to reintroduce you to Him.” He said, “This man, and this woman, they’re in the hospital room, surrender their lives to Christ.” He said, “There was an incredible peace in the room. For the next half hour, I told him he was about to go and meet the One who loves you face-to-face. We know that it will be unbelievable, and the love of God will overwhelm you and will never diminish.” He said, “When I left that room that night, there was a tangible light in it. There was a spirit of celebration with him and his family.” He said, “The next morning, I preached at church, and as I was driving home, I thought I’d drop by to see if he made it through the night.” He said, “I went to the nurse’s station, and I said, ‘Is the man who was in that room last night still there?’ She said, ‘Oh, he’s still here! He’s still in that room.’ So, I went into the room,” he said. “This transformed creation was in the room,” and he said, “I didn’t recognize him. There was so much joy and strength and vitality in his life. God had truly transformed this man.” Buchanan said, “We chatted for a few minutes.” He said, “I left, and I never saw him again.” He said, “But a year later, church service was over. Everyone had filed out.” He said, “But there was a woman in the back of the church.” He says, “As I walked to leave, I looked at her and I realized this was that man’s wife!” And he went up to her and he said, “Tell me about your husband. Tell me what happened.” She said, “Well, he lived for another year, and that he just died last week.” And she said, “It was the best year of our entire married life.” She said, “And he died with such joy and with such peace, and I thought that you would want to know.”

Now, think about it guys. This man was dying, and was clearly staring into the eternal abyss, and was absolutely terrified. But, Dr. Buchanan came and introduced him to Christ, who was the only person that could rescue him from this situation. And, the man said yes to Jesus. And, he surrendered. And, the horrible fear he was experiencing was transformed into joy and peace.

And, so as we leave this morning, I have a question to ask you. What about you? Where do you stand, and do you have that type of peace? Have you ever truly repented? Maybe you didn’t know you really ever needed to. So, I’m going to close us in prayer, and just like I did last year. I normally don’t do this, but last year on Easter, I closed with what I call a prayer of repentance. It just seems appropriate. And, so I’m going to do this because you may be thinking, “Well, what am I supposed to do?” So, I’m just going to close with a simple prayer before God. And, if this is the desire of your heart, I want to encourage you to make it your prayer, as I pray it out loud. Make it your prayer, as I pray it out loud if you feel led to do so. And, right when I’m finished with the prayer, I’ve got one quick announcement and then we’ll be done. So, let’s bow our heads.

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

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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