God, the Supreme Court, and the UnthinkablePastor Lutzer | June 30, 2013
All of the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States of America cannot change the decisions that have been made by God’s Throne.
Selected highlights from this sermon
On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Though they did not officially rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, it was assumed in the decisions they made.
Thus the doors to legalize same-sex marriage in all states have been flung open, and a series of dominoes are starting to collapse.
In this impassioned message, Pastor Lutzer reminds us that this isn’t about hate. This topic should be grounded in respect, listened to with compassion, and debated with love.
Throughout, we hear the implications this decision will have on children, parents, and our freedom of religion. Then stating that “the time of a casual Christian is coming to an end,” Pastor Lutzer lays out seven directives for the church, for only the Gospel can cure the human heart.
Note: towards the end of the message, Pastor Lutzer mentions this website regarding intercession on behalf of our nation: www.onecry.com.
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It was Francis Schaeffer, the theologian and philosopher of the seventies, who told us that when a culture goes downhill the unthinkable becomes thinkable. And then in the next generation once again the unthinkable becomes thinkable. Well, I think, as a result of the Supreme Court decisions recently the unthinkable has now become thinkable, and here we are.
As you well know, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) and also Proposition 8, making same sex marriage legal again in the state of California. I don’t want you to take any hope or comfort from the fact that the court did not officially rule on the constitutionality and the legality of same sex marriage because the fact is that it assumed that in both of the decisions that were made. So we can anticipate in the future that at another court at another day, perhaps sooner than we realize, we’ll finally make it constitutional and legal in all fifty states.
I want to speak about this today, and I’m going to be bringing a message from my heart to your heart. I will not be preaching on one passage of Scripture as I normally do, but rather sharing my heart and many Scriptures throughout the message, so it will be a biblical message. But I want you to listen very carefully because I have a burden that I need to deliver to you and to our wider audience.
I want to make a couple of comments by way of introduction. First of all, let’s remember that this is a matter not of hate but debate. The fact is that according to one of the Supreme Court justices, in effect those who oppose same sex marriage are really enemies of the state or at least they are enemies of decency and tolerance, and enemies of love.
I want you to visualize something. I want you to visualize a truck backing up, and because it has a blind spot, it can’t see directly behind itself (the driver can’t) and as a result of that you see that he’s going over the cliff, and you run to him and you say, “Stop, stop! You’re going over the cliff!” And instantly you are surrounded by a whole crowd of people. And the crowd of people says to you, “Why are you so prejudiced? Why are you so bigoted that you believe that trucks should only go on the roads that you think are the right roads? Who makes you a judge over where this truck can go? The truck should be able to go wherever it wants to go, and as a result of that you are nothing but a hater.”
That’s the way I sometimes feel and I think I feel this way today because there are those who are going to say, “You hate.” No, I don’t hate. I wish that you could see into my heart today. And if those of you who are present who struggle with same sex attraction (and I hope that there are many of you listening to this message) could see into my heart today, you would see nothing but compassion, nothing but love, nothing but concern because I believe that you are going over the abyss. And my desire today is to make sure that your soul is saved by Jesus Christ. (applause) I wish nothing for you except the grace and the mercy of God and the salvation that was purchased for all sinners, no matter what their orientation is.
You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, what about all those who were so jubilant and so happy as a result of this decision?” Well, first of all, look at it through their own eyes, and when you do that you’ll discover that of course they want justification for their lifestyle, and now they’ve received it from the Supreme Court of the United States. And so of course there is jubilation. But you know I’ve studied moral philosophy. I have a degree or two in philosophy and as I studied it I noticed that there is no moral philosopher that I know of who says that the rightness or the wrongness of an action should be determined by the amount of jubilation or giddiness that it produces in the mind of the person who commits it. I don’t know of any who say that.
There are, after all, some higher laws, and some higher principles that we must adhere to. So I say to those of you today in same-sex relationships, or wherever you are, remember it’s not hate. It’s respect. It’s debate. It’s listening. And I want you to listen to this message to the very end, to the concluding illustration, because I have your soul and your future in mind, and all people who do not know Christ as Savior, as we shall see.
There is a second introductory principle and that is that we keep in mind that the Bible speaks very directly to homosexuality, but remember also that it is not simply in the Bible, but it is also rooted in what we call natural law. Now for those of us who believe the Bible, of course that settles it. And if you are a little unclear as to what the Bible teaches in the New Testament regarding it, could I encourage you to read Romans 1 very carefully? And there it is all laid out, inspired by God. And I might say in passing that it actually means what it says.
I have read those who have tried to get around the clear teaching of Scripture, and you can’t, and God isn’t more tolerant than He used to be. I preached a couple of messages on that years ago. The tolerance of God has not changed. For a moment I want you to see the throne of God high above the heavens. Isaiah said that he saw that throne high and lifted up, and the train of God’s robe, looking at it through human eyes, filled the temple.
All of the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States of America cannot change the decisions that have been made by God’s throne. (applause) So please keep in mind that the Bible is clear, but of course natural law also teaches us that. That’s why you have one-man one-woman marriages in cultures that are non-Christian. In fact I did write a book on same sex marriage of about a hundred pages that is available to you. You know, some of us think we have the gift of writing, but apparently very few people have the gift of reading, so I just simply throw that out to you. But in that book I quoted a lesbian who said in effect, and I’m giving it to you only as a paraphrase here, “Homosexuality is not normal. On the contrary it is a challenge to the norm. Our bodies were designed for reproduction and no fancy linguistic games can change that fact.” We all know, as it says in Romans 1 that those relationships are unnatural, and everyone knows that.
Now the other things that we must keep in mind are some of the implications. And by the way, this message is going to give you seven directives as to what we as a church should do, so I want to get to those directives. But first of all I need to cover some other ground. What are the implications of all of this?
Well, first of all, let us be clear that this is only the first domino to fall – only the first domino. The next domino to fall is polygamy. Why should somebody be married to one person regardless of what sex it is? I’m reading here from someone – a Megan Laskowaukee. I hope I pronounced that correctly. She says, “It is time for our culture to wake up. Monogamy, that is one man with another man, in other words only two in a marriage, is not natural for many or probably even most humans. With people living together longer than ever before, a greater tolerance toward the human impulse to experience sexual variety is needed. Whether a person succeeds at being sexually monogamous depends as much on biology as environment. Only 3% to 5% of all the mammal species on earth practice any form of monogamy. In fact, no mammal species has been proven to be truly monogamous. Biologically we are all human animals, so it makes sense to look to the animal kingdom for clues as to what we are built for. I mean, after all, if you should be able to marry the person you love, why should you not be able to marry the persons you love?” So you can have any relationship you want – maybe two men, six women, or the other way around. It does not matter.
Let me say that one person on television said it very clearly. “Our long range goal is the destruction of marriage because as long as you have traditional marriage the traditional marriage is still going to have some sense of superiority, and not until everything is broken down will many people be satisfied.”
You can also probably have appeals to other things such as pedophilia, etc. because the walls and the foundations have been broken, and you never know where it will end.
Let me say also, secondly, that this has huge implications for children. Huge implications! You know the Bible says that children are given to parents, and the parents should bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord, teaching them to fear the Lord. Every little girl and every little boy longs for a daddy and a mommy so that the daddy can be there as the protector, and his money is there. And please don’t try to tell me that some survey shows that two men can take care of a baby with the same love and tenderness as a mother can, whether a biological mother or an adopted mother. But please don’t tell me that they can do it as well.
We are living in a culture now where by law, or at least by the implication of the law, we are okay with institutionalizing the idea that a child can have two mothers without a father (And you know what fatherlessness does to society?) or two fathers without a mother. We are breaking down the very basis upon which God created us, and what God put into the hearts of every child.
And folks, you as parents are losing your authority as a parent. The idea that you can have some kind of control as to what is taught in your public school has already been going and gone for a long time. And you won’t have authority over it. Whatever the state now decrees regarding this, it will be a matter of civil rights. It will be a matter of non-discrimination that your children will have to accept. And then, of course, beyond that you never know what’s going to happen. I was in Colorado recently (and I do know that Denver is the city within Colorado by the way) and someone handed me a news article, which you can find on the Internet. There was a boy in a Denver school who was born a boy, but because he was transgender (at the age of six now) and thought of himself as a girl, he wanted to use the girls’ washroom, and the school said no. But the ruling of the state’s civil rights division, which enforces anti-discrimination laws, decreed that he was a victim of illegal discrimination. And so he can go into a girls’ washroom because, according to the report, he was now in an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive. Now what the school said is, “You can use other washrooms. You can use the nurses’ washroom. You can even use the teachers’ washroom, but you should not go into the girls’ washroom because you were born a boy.” And then the report says, “Compartmentalizing a child as a boy or girl solely based on their visible anatomy is simplistic.” It’s a simplistic approach to a difficult and complex issue.
This isn’t the first time that this has happened. Months ago I read of situations in which teen-age boys were able to go into girls’ washrooms because they said that they were trans-gender. And if they couldn’t, there was discrimination and unfairness. And if the girls complained there was no possibility of being able to respond to that. That’s your fault because you are discriminating and you are bigoted regarding someone’s sexuality. We don’t know where all this will lead but it’s coming to a school near you.
Implications for freedom of religion are absolutely huge. Already it is happening. I am thinking of Elaine Photography in New Mexico. She and her husband were Christians and had an independent photography studio. They were asked to photograph a same-sex marriage. They wouldn’t do it. They did give indications as to what photography studios would. They were fined $7,000 because of a civil rights issue and violating the state’s civil rights code. Expect more of that.
Christian organizations will not be able to discriminate. You have people who, after they have come to you, or before they have come to you, are in a same-sex relationship. You’ll have no recourse. None! Churches, apart from the pastor and apart from those who teach, will not have the ability to terminate somebody who is in a relationship like that. And chaplains in the military will be forced to perform same-sex marriages or else get out of the chaplaincy.
Tax-exempt status for churches will be on the line. There is no doubt as we watch the unthinkable become thinkable that that’s where this is headed.
When I was at the National Religious Broadcasters meeting some time ago there was a Canadian pastor who has a television program in Canada. Canada is even further along this line than we are, and he happened to preach on Romans 1, and instantly his program was taken off the air. He was not permitted to come back unless he promised that he would not refer to those passages of Scripture. So he is back on the air but here’s the interesting thing, and this is going to become more difficult for Christians. How do we navigate these issues of conscience? I can see one person taking the point of view, “If I can’t preach the whole Scripture I’m going to stay off the air.” On the other hand you can preach the Gospel easily without referring to these same sex issues. Therefore, do you go ahead and preach the Gospel?
You know, sometime if I had enough wisdom (I was thinking about it this week), I’d like to preach a sermon entitled Conflicts of Conscience, because many of us as Christians are going to be in that kind of a predicament. Where do we compromise reasonably and where can we not? Conflicts of conscience!
Well, all that by way of introduction. Now what I’d like to give you is seven directives that we must follow as a church. Where do we go? That’s the question you are asking, isn’t it? I’m glad that you are because I would like to respond to that question.
Number one, we have to be an informed community. Now when I speak about being an informed community I don’t just mean that we should know what’s going on. The media tells us that, sometimes with a huge bias, but nonetheless we get our news. I mean we have to take a step back. We have to take a deep breath of air and ask ourselves what the Christian Church has been doing for two thousand years, and what we’ll discover is that throughout the history of the Christian Church, beginning in Rome, the Church has always been an island of righteousness in a sea of paganism, and has had to put up with discrimination, conflicts of conscience, and death throughout two thousand years of history. Will you remember that?
I like to tell people that after the Reformation – we’re speaking about during and after the 1500s - there were rebaptizers who believed that you should be baptized upon confession of faith rather that infant baptism. And I know that some of you were baptized as infants, and I don’t want to open that discussion in this message. I’m only telling you what happened because infant baptism was a symbol of Christendom, the union of Church and State. There were decrees and laws that all those who would not have their infants baptized should be put to death. And those who were rebaptized, like the Zurich City Council said, “They must be put to death by burning, fire or drowning,” and Felix Manz was drowned. But here’s the point I want to make. Throughout Europe more Anabaptists or rebaptizers were massacred than all of the persecutions in Ancient Rome.
You know we say to ourselves, “Oh really?” Yeah, oh really! I had a scholar who lived in Europe for a while studying tell me that. Now just think about it. Here you live in this village and people are coming to massacre you, and your little children are crying and saying, “Mommy and Daddy, protect me,” but there is no protection. You are all massacred. That’s the history of the Christian Church.
This morning we had a video here in church and did you hear what was said? When it was said that a wife believed on Jesus her husband killed her and then didn’t he say that he was going to kill the person who introduced her to Jesus? That’s the way it is all over the world, especially throughout the Middle East and in North Korea. So folks, we still have it so good. Let us count our blessings. Let us take a deep breath and thank God for the opportunity of being alive at this hour. I couldn’t help this week but think of the fact that I could have been born in a different era, and to think that I get to be alive at this moment of history. For that I am deeply grateful.
Listen to the words of 1 Peter. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” Join 2,000 years of Church history and let us be grateful for the opportunity of living at this moment of history in the great United States of America. (applause)
Secondly, we have to be a courageous community. The second directive is to be a courageous community. Parents, in addition to reading the Bible to your children, and reading those great stories of Daniel and others who stood against their cultural times, begin to read biographies of great men and women, and great missionaries who laid down their lives. Let’s instill within our children a culture that says, “What an opportunity to witness for Christ, and what an opportunity that we should be called to the awesome privilege of dying for Him.” And as a result of that rejoicing I’m thinking, for example, of the book of Acts where the Apostles were put in prison and then after they had been whipped, mind you, they returned to their company rejoicing that they had been called and had the privilege to suffer for His name. That’s the kind of young people we need to be raising in our children and our young children and our grandchildren in the days ahead to be a courageous community.
I think the idea of being a casual Christian is probably coming to a conclusion here in America. Soon we are going to be able to distinguish between those who are really committed to Christ, and those who are marginally committed who will kind of drop off. We have to be a courageous community.
Third, we have to be a repentant community. I initially had used the word praying but I changed it to repentant. You know I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah. Have you ever read the book of Jeremiah? You say, “Oh yes, Pastor, because I read my Bible through in 2002, and I think Jeremiah is in my Bible, so I think I read it.” (laughs) I’ll tell you, I can’t get over this book. I’m trying to read it paragraph by paragraph, and I’m just totally blown away. And the reason that I am blown away is because it is so exciting because I am preparing a series of messages that really, really has me excited and motivated.
But anyway, Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. You know what we need in the United States today? We need not just people who pontificate, but people who know how to cry for a nation, people who are so burdened that they come before God and they lay out their souls on behalf of the nation. I was speaking to somebody recently who doesn’t have a prayer meeting in his church, and I can be very mean and ask pesky questions at times. Those of you who know me know that I can do that. So I said, “Under what conditions would you have a prayer meeting?” I mean if half your house were burned in a fire would that be time to pray? If terrorists came and took your children, would you then say, “You know, I think it’s time we had a prayer meeting?”
What will it take? We all know we are desperate, and yet we are not praying. Why not join us this Wednesday for prayer meeting? Let us call on God on behalf of our nation. I invite you to do that so that we can cry up to God together and we can pray, and then join Onecry (that’s all one word), a ministry that is uniting together tens of thousands of Christians to call on God.
When we were in Colorado we saw the American Basin, and it is sort of in a valley, and things were very dry in Colorado, but I am told that when it rains this American Basin suddenly comes to life and you have every possible flower you can imagine. You know, a lot of prayer is going up for America. In Colorado I met a man from South Korea who said that he is here for one purpose and that is to intercede for the great United States of America because he said that we are a laughing stock overseas because of what happened. And there are prayer groups all throughout America, and there have been for years. I like to think of those as seeds in the ground, and if God were to bless us by rain, we might still see a flowering in America that we did not think was possible in our present situation. So let us call unto the Lord. And being a repentant community means that we repent of our own sins, which are many, and that we clean up our own act before we can speak to this generation with its great huge needs. We have to be a repentant community.
Number four, we have to be a compassionate community. Let me ask you something because the temptation might be for us to self-righteously look at ourselves and then look at “them” out there. Do we care about the children of Chicago and the children of the United States of America? Does your heart break because of what is happening as we see the disintegration of the family and the acceleration of that disintegration as a result of our courts? Does that cause you any grief? Do you leave with a burden or is this something whereby we can just attack others? God knows we need to be a compassionate community.
Years ago I told you about Bishop Samuel, who died in a hail of gunfire with Anwar Sadat in the 1980’s. He told a friend of mine how Christianity conquered North Africa in the early centuries. He said it was the acts of the kindness that the Christians did. For example, bodies during the plague were just burned but the Christians took those bodies, washed them before they were burned, and buried them, arguing that in light of the resurrection even the wicked have a right to a decent burial.
Abortion was not the way it is today. You just left a baby outside. You left it on a step and left it to cry itself to death. If anybody wanted the baby they could take it. The Church organized baby runs and they picked up these babies in abandoned alleys and brought them to nursing mothers who nursed them as if they were their own, and the pagans said, “Where in the world is all of this love coming from?”
My dear friend today, the world can out-organize us. They can outnumber us. They can out-finance us. They certainly can out-politicize us, but let it never be said that they can out-love us because “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given unto us.” (applause) We have to be a compassionate community.
Directive number five - we have to be an engaged community. There are many prolife, pro-family groups out there, and it’s perfectly fine to join with them because they need help, and I think that together we need to be able to provide some kind of visibility. I think that for the dissemination of information there are more people in the United States of America who, if they are given some directive and some information, will understand what the issues are and join. We may not agree with them all theologically but the point is that we can agree that to this culture it is possible to speak on this issue. And there are many groups out there that are doing a great work of alerting the larger population to the needs, and maybe even fighting politically on these issues. We have to be an engaged community.
Number six, we have to be a cross-centered community. We could say a gospel-centered community. You know here at the Moody Church we do not endorse a political party. We do not endorse any political candidate. And the reason that we do not is we say that the cross of Christ has to be above all political parties and all politicians. And we have to be able to say to the Democrats and to the Republicans and the Independents and to those who don’t know what they are, that if you do not believe in Jesus Christ you are in huge trouble because Christ is the Savior of the world. (applause)
When the Apostle Paul came to Corinth, that city filled with immorality, he said, “I desire to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Why? It was on the cross that Jesus redeemed us. He redeemed those who would believe on Him. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and that is the message that the world needs to hear, because at the end of the day our concerns and our issues are not just cultural or sociological. They are spiritual and only the Gospel can cure the human heart.
By the way, it says in Jeremiah regarding Israel, “Your wound is incurable,” but the Gospel was sent for sinners. Aren’t you glad that Jesus died that we might be redeemed? (applause) But here’s the point I want to make. We not only have the cross as our means of redemption – the only means of redemption, but also Jesus said, “Carry it.” After you receive Christ as Savior you are invited to be His disciple, and Jesus said, “Carry your cross.” If ever there was a time in America for every Christian to carry his or her cross (and every young person) it is today.
You know there was a man who was walking through a forest and he had this dream. As he was walking through he had this very, very heavy cross on his shoulder, and it was so heavy. He saw a woodsman, and he said, “Would you cut off part of my cross? I just can’t bear it anymore.” So the woodsman took the saw and sawed off part of his cross, and then he discovered that it was much lighter and he walked along very happily. But then he came to a gorge, a place where he needed a bridge to get to the other side of this crevice. And he tried to lay down the cross, and he discovered that it was too short, just the amount that had been cut off.
My friend, I am speaking to you today from my heart and I want you to hear me. The lighter our cross, the weaker our witness! And it is when we have a heavy cross and we bear that cross - it is then that we represent Jesus Christ, because the time may come in America when the Gospel can no longer be preached in words. It must be preached in lives of Christians bearing their cross.
And I say to those of you who struggle with same-sex attraction, what you must do (and I urge you to do it for the name of God and for yourself) is to make sure that you live a chaste life of celibacy. That’s what God is calling you to. It’s a hard life, yes. That may be your cross, but it’s the same cross that heterosexual young people and older people who are never married have to bear. It is a cross that can be borne if you love the Lord Jesus Christ and want to please Him in all that you do. That is your cross, but it’s not just for people who struggle with this. This cross is to be borne by all of us and it looks differently. I believe that the cross that Jesus speaks about is the burdens and the concerns and the criticisms we would not have if we weren’t Christians. In other words, it’s the cross of Christ that we carry into the world, so we must be very much a cross-centered community. The cross that redeems us is also the cross that inspires us to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, no matter the cost, no matter what we are called, for the glory of God and the Gospel. That’s number six – a cross-centered community.
Number seven and last, we must be a witnessing community. Have you ever been asked this question? I know that I have. Are you saying that all homosexuals are going to go to hell? Now when you get asked that question what you have to be prepared to do is to say that the question itself is illegitimate because what it does is it takes one class of sins and acts as if this class of sins is in a category by itself, and everyone who is not, that is okay. That’s not the question that people should be asking. There’s an entirely different question that should be asked. The question that should be asked is, “Is it really true that everyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ is going to be lost forever because Jesus is the only Savior of the world?” That’s the question to ask because the Apostle Paul says that when it comes to sin there is no distinction “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And you come short of the glory of God in one way. I become short of the glory of God in another way, but we all stand condemned in the presence of a Holy God. We all stand together in the presence of God. (applause)
I have to tell you that reading the book of Jeremiah has blown me away. I read chapter after chapter and I can’t believe how massively God hates sin. It is incredible. I just read and I say, “God, forgive me.” I always thought that you kind of said, “Yeah, it’s bad,” but I’ll tell you God really, really hates sin. It is a terrible offense to Him.
You know in evangelical circles today what happens is this. It used to be that preachers preached the law, preached the holiness of God, and then when people cried up and said, “I can’t keep the law, and I can’t live up to God’s demands,” they said, “Jesus came to give us grace so that we might be forgiven and cleansed and meet all of God’s requirements for us.” That’s the way it used to be.
Today in evangelical circles everything is topsy-turvy. We offer people grace ahead of time. We say, “God loves you unconditionally. It doesn’t matter who you are living with. It doesn’t matter your sexual relationships. You are just so important to God. He’s just smiling at you,” and the person thinks, “Oh, okay, that’s great. He really doesn’t care how I live, whether I am immoral or not.” Like somebody told a friend of mine, “Sure, I’m immoral but God will forgive me. That’s His job.”
And so what’s happening, dear friends, and hear me out today, we have people who are claiming to be saved, and they don’t even know that they were once lost, because they think that the grace of God just somehow covers everything. And the reason that some of you are not saved is because you have never come to the realization that you are lost without Jesus Christ.
There was a man by the name of John Newton. The year was 1748. He was a slave trader and had committed many sins. He was very immoral and he didn’t fear God, but he was on that ship and you remember the story. You probably do. They were in a three-day storm and the ship began to sink. He had to tie himself to the pump so that he wouldn’t be thrown into the water. And he decided to look at the New Testament his mother had given him. Actually it was the New Testament and the Old Testament. His eyes fell on Proverbs 1. Do you know what it says in Proverbs 1? God is speaking and He says, “I stretched out my hands to you and you wouldn’t come. I spoke to you and you wouldn’t listen. Therefore I will laugh at your calamity and I will exercise mockery when fear comes to you.”
That’s the God with which we deal. There’s nothing there that says it doesn’t matter how you live and that God is gracious and that’s his job. No, and Newton saw himself in that text. God had stretched out His hands and he had not responded. God had spoken and he had not listened. And later he cried up to God for forgiveness and cleansing because he knew that the issue was not the greatness of his sin. The issue was the wonder of the righteousness that God would give him were he to believe in Jesus, and knowing that he was lost and needed to be saved.
And he wrote those amazing words:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
He didn’t say, “that saved somebody who made some mistakes, you know, or somebody who made some bad choices.”
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost and now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
He understood that only those who know that they are lost get saved. I appeal to you today no matter where you are on the spectrum of sin – big sinner or little sinner or somebody in between. Jesus today has His arms outstretched to you and says, “Your issue is not your past. Your issue is, ‘I can prepare you for the future because no matter what your sin is, and no matter what your orientation is, no matter what kind of a life-style you have lived, I will receive you, if at least you acknowledge that you are lost and that you need a Savior to save you from your sins.’”
That is the Gospel that we offer to all the communities of Chicago. That is the Gospel that we offer to the world, for we all stand in need of that grace. Wretches though we are, we come with empty hands to receive. And if you will, would you bow your head now in prayer?
Father, you know my heart, how it longs and aches for those who do not know the warmth of the Father’s home, who live with consciences that torment them, but nonetheless live with those consciences. And we ask today, Father, that Your Holy Spirit might be here to draw other people to Jesus Christ, to draw everyone to Jesus regardless of where they are because we thank You that You died for sinners just like us, and we all stand in need. We confess today, Father, that without Jesus we are lost, but with Him we are found.
And now before I close this prayer I am talking to the congregation and all those who are listening by whatever means. Would you at this moment cry up to God and say, “Lord Jesus, I receive You as my Savior; I receive You today; I stop justifying my sin and I trust You?” Would you tell Him that?
Father, for people who hear this message today I pray that Your voice that they’ve heard so clearly in their hearts might not be muffled. Pursue them until they believe, for we long that they shall be in Your presence, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.