Anne Graham Lotz | Focus On The Gospel
Anne Graham Lotz gives a charge to focus on the Gospel and cast out any distractions that would derail from the main objective.
Anne's focus and the charge are clear in recognizing there are many places we can spend our time, but if our time is spent doing anything other than giving people an opportunity to engage with the Gospel, it's likely wasted. Anne talks about her father, Billy Graham's legacy. Lotz also discusses peace in Israel.
- Would you welcome my friend, a friend of the Joshua Fund, Anne Graham Lotz.
- Very special to be here with you. Very special to be here with Joel. And I probably shouldn't say this in front of him but I would probably do just about anything he asked. And the reason we met at Edmonton years and years ago, is because I was in Raleigh in my hometown and I was listening to the radio and the interviewer was interviewing this guy they described him as the Notre Domus of novelists. And so I perked up and then he started to describe what I had just written and I thought, "Well, that guy has to know the Bible if he's gonna write like that." And then he said, "I'm a born again Christian, I'm a messianic Jew." And he was talking about the Zico option at that time. So after the interview, I just drove straight to Barnes and Noble. I picked up his book cause I love novels, I read novels all the time. And then I had to work my way backwards in that series. And I've read every single one of his books, the novels and the others also he's the smartest man I know actually, he writes what he does, but I love his heart for God's people. And Joel, it's so interesting cause God moved him to Jerusalem, but it was almost as though it was more for the Arab countries and Israel's neighbors. I know it's for Israel, but the doors that God has opened for Joel it's supernatural. And divine appointments, it's been amazing to watch. And it's not been easy. I know it's not easy to move your four boys into there and learn the language and join the army and all the stuff that bad to do, but we just thank you and appreciate you so much and appreciate you for supporting him and being a part of what God's called him to. So I'm honored to be here and humble then of course, he assigned me this passage and I don't usually take assigned passages, but I believe it's God's message. It's just not familiar. So I'm going to stumble my way through it and pray that you'll get the message. So pray with me. So Lord Jesus, we come before you now and we thank you and praise you for your presence here. Thank you for what we're about. Thank you that the people here have a heart for your people, not only within the church, but within the nation of Israel and Jews and Gentiles. So Lord, I ask now like little Samuel that you would speak to us that as we choose to open our ears and listen, that we would hear the soft whisper of the holy spirit speaking to our hearts and that we would respond in a way that brings pleasure to you, in a way that's in accordance with your will. We ask your blessing on this message not because we deserve it, but because we ask in Jesus name and if you don't bless us, we're not going to be blessed. And so we just ask for you to give us everything you want us to have after a full morning, just enlarge our capacity to receive we pray. And we ask now for your blessing and thank you for it in advance because we're asking in Jesus name, amen. Joel referenced 911 and we're coming up on the 20th anniversary. And he said last night that he remembered exactly where he was, when that took place and all of us do. We all can tell you where we were. I was at home, like Joel said he was, and my daughter called, turn on the TV. I turn on the TV and down to see the first plane in the trade tower and then the second plane I watched it hit. And then the first tower imploded and the second. And I remember putting my hand over my face and wanting to cry out like, no God, no, you want to stop it. This is just, because I knew I was watching on my television screen, people stepping into eternity. And I wondered are they stepping into eternity but they're not ready to meet God. And are they not ready to meet God because people like me haven't shared the gospel with them. So the impact of 911 on me was that I fell on my knees and made a recommitment to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. And then we fast forward to Afghanistan. And you've seen the pictures coming out of Afghanistan. And one picture that's almost as indelibly impressed on my mind as the trade tower was coming down, was that picture of the hundreds of people running across the tarmac, clinging to the evacuation plane, climbing into the wheel wells. When the plane took off, the people were dropping down to their deaths and I thought that's a picture of people desperate to be saved. And then it's like the spirit just whispered. And there are people all over the world who are desperate to be saved, not just physical salvation, but spiritual salvation. So I got on my knees again and I recommitted my recommitment to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Years ago, I was teaching my Bible class, I wasn't traveling, I wasn't on the road. So I wasn't out there. I got a call from a missions organization, a great one, actually international. And they asked me if I would give the keynote address at their annual convention. And it was such a random invitation. I asked them, "Why did you ask me?" And they said, "Well, we know you have a heart for the gospel." And when I hung up the phone, thought about that, they don't know me, Why did they say I have a heart for the gospel? And then I thought, "It's because I'm Billy Graham's daughter." And that put me on my knees. And so I asked the Lord to show me if I had a heart for the gospel. And what he showed me is that yes, I had a heart for the gospel, but it was too small. And so I prayed that he would enlarge my heart for the gospel. And I believe he's answered that prayer to the point that now when the secular press tries to describe me, they described me as an evangelist and I'm not. I've asked the Lord to give me that gift, but he's withheld from me, but I think what they're saying, is the answer to that prayer that God has given me an enlarged heart for the gospel. So what I want to ask you, I know because you're part of Joshua Fund. I know that you have a heart for the gospel, but I wonder if like me, do you need an enlarged heart for the gospel? So if you have your Bible on your phone, your tablet, you have a hard copy like I do, Romans chapter one, the first 17 verses, is the text for this message. And there are three characteristics of heart for the gospel that I see in this text. And I'll take them one by one, but I'll give them to you. A heart for the gospel is conscious of God's call, convinced of God's compassion, confident in God's cross. So first of all, a heart for the gospel is conscious of God's call four times in the first seven verses, Paul refers to calling. And he says in verse one, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle. And he describes himself as a servant, which is a beautiful picture because a servant is someone who is a brilliant to his master his voice and attentive to his master's every desire and submissive to his master's will, doing his master's work. It's a beautiful picture of being called to Jesus. And verse six says, you also are called. And our first calling, can I just lay it down? Our first calling is to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to put our faith in him, to serve him, to obey him, to love him, to get to know him, to bring him glory. So our first call is him. Years ago, I went through an Isaiah six experience where for seven days, God just rate me through the calls. Convicted me of sin after sin, after sin in my life. I didn't know I had, and I was in ministry. And when he finished and he let me know when he was finished, I felt just wiped out, spiritually depleted but I also had this huge sense of unworthiness. How can I go back into ministry when I've just gone through this experience? So I asked the Lord for a recall and he took me to first Corinthians 1:9 and I put my name in it. So Anne, you're called to fellowship with Jesus Christ. And I thought, "I can do that." I love to spend time with him. I love to hear his voice. I want it to be obedient to his word, I want it to be surrendered to his will. And I knew my first calling was to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. So let's just make that clear, but we're called to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of making him known for sharing the gospel. And Paul says in verse one, Paul a servant of Christ Jesus set apart for the gospel of God. He knew what his mission was. It was to present the gospel. And if you gave Paul a chance to tell you his testimony, I'll know, you know it, but Pharisee of the Pharisees, zealous for the law and was right there when Stephen was stoned to death holding the cloaks of those who were stoning him and then he was so enraged and so filled with zeal. And what he felt like was a protection of God's holiness in his name that he went out and he began to persecute Christians. He dragged them out of their homes, he put them in prison, and then you heard there were some Christians up in Damascus. He got the letters from the authorities to go up to Damascus and arrest the Christians there. And on the Damascus road, it was a brilliant white light. And you heard a voice out of heaven saying, and this is Acts 26, so you know Soul is Paul before conversion, same guy, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Then I asked, who are you, Lord? I am Jesus whom you're persecuting, the Lord replied. Now get up, stand on your feet. I have repaired you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness. So look at that last raised a point you as a servant called the Jesus first, right? And then as a witness for the purpose of sharing the gospel and making him known. So this is my point, the moment Paul was converted, he was called, are you converted? Then you've been called. Story of the old missionary who came home on furlough and he was standing in front of a congregation that had sent him out and he supported them, and he was giving a report on what had been doing. And then he said, "I've never been called to share the gospel." There's this collective gasp that goes up and what have we been supporting you for? And then he said, "I haven't been called just commanded, like the rest of you." And I think a call of God becomes a command when we hear the call with our name on it. It happened for me in 1974, my husband and I went to Lozan, Switzerland for the International Congress on World Evangelism. And we heard speaker after speaker, after speaker, it was a great Congress. And we came home and my reaction was that was a lot of money, a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of organization put into something that would not be necessary, at least in the United States. If people like me were sharing the gospel with our neighbors and I had never shared the gospel with my neighbors. So before I lost my nerve, I picked up the phone. I'll call my neighbors, invited them for coffee. I came into the house and we talked about nothing for an hour cause I was just trying to work up nerve to share the gospel. And finally, I didn't even make a transition, I just blurted out why I asked them to my house for coffee and shared the gospel. And one of them got up and hit the door. She just ran out of the house and the other started talking about baptism and the churches they went to and all that. And I just made such a mess of it, but can I tell you, within two years, every single one of my neighbors came to faith in Jesus Christ. Two of them went on to become Christian leaders in the community. So when have you heard God's call with your name on it, becomes a command to go into all the world. A world between your own two feet and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. So are you conscious of God's call? Paul was conscious of God's call. He knew what his mission was, it was to share the gospel. He knew what his message was. Let's be clear, verse one, verse two, verse nine, verse 15, verse 16, verse 17, is God's gospel. That's the message. And he promised that he said in verse two, the gospel I promised beforehand, you remember back in Genesis 3:15, I'm going to send the seed of a woman who will crush the serpent's head, bring you back into a right relationship with your creator. That's my paraphrase. And then all the way through the Old Testament, I'm going to send a prophet like you. He said to Moses, who will deliver you, not from slavery, but from sin and go on. You have Isaiah 53, that incredible passage that by his stripes, we would be healed. And oh, it was promised in the Old Testament through the prophets. Jeremiah 31:31, this is an interesting one to share with Jews. When God said, "I'm going to give you a new covenant." And Jesus the night he was betrayed, he took the cup representing his blood and he said, "This is the blood of the new covenant, God promised through Jeremiah." So our message is the gospel. And he promised it in verse two, provided it through his son in verse three, and then he proved it when he raised Jesus from the dead in verse four. So our message is not politics, is not programs, it's not philosophy, it's not prosperity, it's not equity, it's not equality because listen to me, you can solve the racial problem. You can eliminate nuclear weapons. You can reverse global warming. You can feed the hungry and house the homeless, and clothe the naked and eliminate abortion on demand and redistribute wealth so the rich aren't so rich and the poor are so poor. And listen to me, they will all go to hell. Can I just tell you? So our message is the gospel of Jesus Christ. So what is the gospel? I wish I had time to go into it in depth, but you know it, I hope we never get over the wonder of it. John 3:16, that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him would not perish, you would not go to hell, but you would have everlasting life. And Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." No one, oh, listen to me, no one, no Jew, no Gentile, no Baptist, no Buddhist, no Methodist, no Muslim, no one, no agnostic, no atheist, no theologian, no one will come to the father, except they come through me. Acts 4:12, there's no other name given under heaven among men where you can be saved, just the name Jesus. So in our cancel culture, in this Roque society in which we're living, you and I have to be guarded against compromising, watering down the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not wanting to offend people, we want to be tolerant, we want to be inclusive to the point that we have to be careful that we're not speaking the truth boldly. I loved my last night. I just thought he was such a great, I'd not been around him before, but love the fact that he just lets it ride out there. And he's a born again, evangelical Christian and doesn't care who knows that, and he just makes it so plain. So don't let the enemy intimidate you in the silence or even to holding back. We share the gospel with love certainly, with cultural sensitivity, with appreciation for where the other person is coming from, but our message is the gospel. So heart for the gospel is conscious of God's call to the person of Jesus Christ. For the purpose of sharing the gospel, we know the mission is to share the gospel. We know the message is the gospel, okay? Second characteristic, heart for the gospel is convinced of God's compassion. For God so loved the world. Just wrap your mind around that. So if I can give you a big picture and I'll use a baseball game and my son in law trainer was there, he was on scholarship with Baylor University on the baseball team. So I know he thinks this is sort of silly, simplistic, I guess, but it's the truth, right? So when a batter gets up to bat at the baseball game, the pitcher throws him the ball and he swings the bat. If he misses that strike one, okay? And then he gets a second chance. So the batter gets up to the plate and the pitcher throws him the ball, he swings the bat. He misses the second time, that's strike two. So he gets a third chance and the pitcher throws in the ball, he swings the bat, he misses, that strike three. And I know there are other factors in there, but three strikes and you're out, right? So let me apply that to Genesis one to 11, the world of humanity represented by Adam and Eve were created to know God, to fellowship with God, to enjoy God, to serve with God and the world of humanity represented by Adam and Eve said, "We don't want what God wants, we want what we want more than what he wants." And they disobeyed God, that was strike one and he removed them from the garden. So God gave him a second chance in Genesis chapter six. And in Genesis chapter six, God announced to the whole world, I'm going to send judgment on the whole world because your thoughts and words are only evil all the time, but nobody paid any attention. It was like nobody was listening, except one man, Noah who was, and God saved the human race through Noah but the world of humanity was destroyed in that flood, that was strike two. So then we come to the third strike and in Genesis 10 and 11, we have the tower of Babel. The world of humanity gathered at the plane of shine, our building of a tower that would reach to heaven, in essence, saying, we're not gonna become the God the way he said, we can work our own way into heaven, we can build our own religious system, we can come through our own good works, our own philosophies and that was strike three. And God confused their languages, scattered them out all over the world and where they still are today by the way. The descendants of those who were in such rebellion, defiance, disobedience of the tower of Babel are everywhere in their rebellion defiance and disobedience against God. But God so loved the world that he reached down and he picked up Abraham and he worked through Abraham and his family to give us what we know is our Old Testament. To give us the laws and the ceremonies and the sacrifices that teach us that we're sinners, that the law we could never keep it, we needed a savior. And then John the Baptist just standing beside the Jordan River and he sees Jesus of Nazareth walking by and he says, "Look, there goes the lamb of God who's going to take away the sin of the world." And the world was back in the game. So are you convinced that God loves the whole world, Jews and Gentiles, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, Iranians, Iraqis, the Taliban, the Afghans, Africans, the Russians, Americans, Europeans, Asians. God loves the whole world. And Joel, I just want to affirm, y'all love the fact that you reach out to the neighbors of Israel. God loves Israel's neighbors as much as God loves Israel, but his purpose for them is different, okay? God sent his son to die for them, every bit as much as he sent his son to die for you and for me and for any Jew that's ever existed. So are you convinced that God loves the whole world. Verse seven, Paul says to all who are in Rome, who are loved by God and Rome was the world. So Rome was outside of the descendants of Abraham. I'm assuming that after Pentecost, somebody that was there who was saved, went to Rome, found that a church, because there were people in that Roman church who came to Christ before Paul came to Christ. And that Roman church represented the world. And so Paul is writing to the Roman church and he was informed about what was going on in there, he said verses seven and eight, first I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is reported all over the world. Paul heard the reports, he knew what was going on, he was informed of what was happening in the Christian community. Are you? and thank the Lord for the Joshua Fund, for all Israel news, for services that keep us informed as to what's taking place in the community, outside our Bible study, outside of our church, outside of our community, we want to know what's going on in the world. So how informed are you? And I think I know you're involved in the Joshua Fund. I suggest you also download if you haven't the Christian Broadcasting Network's app and use apps. So you can just check the news. I think the best Christian magazine that informs you about what's going on in the world is "Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Magazine Decision." And just make sure that you're informed, not just about your little niche, but the world at large. The reason for that, is because when we're informed, it leads us to intercede. And Paul says in verses nine to 10, God whom I serve with my whole heart and preaching the gospel of his son is my witness. How constantly I remember you in my prayer at all times, he prayed for the Roman church and he prayed for them because of the information he had received. So who do you pray for? Several years ago, and I'm like Joel, I can't remember dates anymore, but it was several years ago, I was invited to be a part of National Broadcasters Association delegation to Israel. So I went to Israel with a very special group of people. And one of the things we did, we went down to a farm in community on the Gaza border. And it was when the missiles were just raining like rain, just coming in thick and fast. And when we went to this little farming community and they said, "When you hear the siren go off, you have 30 seconds to get into a bunker." The siren went off, we all dashed into the bunker. I was facing the bunker. And then you come out and the iron dome is taken out the missile. You see the puff looks like a little white cloud, but it's not, it's the missile that's been exploded. We went into the underneath bunker and we were briefed. And the head of that community, she was head of the security for the community. She was five months pregnant and she was terrified. And the little guy that showed us around was just a farmer. And I remember his eyes just so wide with terror. And while we were there, his home was hit by a missile and his mother and his baby were not there, thank goodness, but his home was hit. And when we left, we were in the car and the siren went off in the four-lane highway. We had to get out of the car, lay face down in the ditch and look up and you see the puff of smoke where the missile had been taken out by the iron dome. And I came back and I want to tell you something, I was angry. How could this be? How could people who are trying to make a living and farm in their community and grow crops, and have babies and raise children, how can it be that they have to live in that kind of horror and terror for no other reason than they exist? There wasn't anything they were doing to provoke the Palestinian attack. It's just because Israel is there. And I came back, and I'm gonna tell you that information was heavy on my heart like a burden leading me to intercede. And for me, it's hard for me to keep my concentration and pray. I don't know if sometimes you have that. And so I write down my prayers from time to time. And so I wrote down a prayer that actually was about an hour long and posted it on our website, invited people to pray with me. And we had about 25,000 people who joined me in prayer, it was called 911 and it's still on our website. If you want to look it up, but 911 Prayer for Israel. And I brought a portion of it to read to you so you can understand how the information leads to intercession. I believe information allows God to give us the burden that's on his heart so that we can then ask him for what he's wanting to give us. So this was a portion of my prayer, our father in heaven, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. You are the eternal am, we know that you so loved the world that you gave us heaven's treasure when you sent your only son to die so that anyone and everyone who places their faith in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. Yet we also know that your great heart of love still longs to pour out your blessing on the city and the people that you have uniquely chosen as your own. Jerusalem, the house of Israel, the Jews, we pray with compulsion for the peace of Jerusalem and for the whole house of Israel, your people in the city that bear your name are surrounded by vast multitude of hostile evil men, seeking to kill and destroy. And now these demonic forces are on the verge of being equipped with nuclear weapons. Your people are subjected to the continuing barrage of enemy missiles, mortars that are destroying farms and families, incendiary balloons, communities, and children, while dealing with a raging pandemic. While one ceasefire after another promises peace, when Israel's land is divided and surrendered for peace, when people cry out for peace, peace, there is no peace. Are you not the God who rules over the nations? Power and might are in your hand, no one can withstand you. So we are compelled to pray for your people because they're facing their enemies without the strength, wisdom, peace, comfort, security, hope that you reserve for those who are in dwelt by your spirit, through faith in your son Jesus. They have no deep blessed assurance that their sins are forgiven. That eternal life is theirs. That a heavenly home is waiting to welcome them. We ask great creator, God that you give sight to those born spiritually blind, open the eyes of your people to see you for who you truly are. Don't let their sight be dimmed or distorted by centuries of religiosity and rejection of the truth. Open their eyes to Jesus as their Messiah, then show up in great power, giving your people supernatural strength to withhold vengeance, to execute justice, to remember mercy, to walk humbly as they acknowledge that victory will be won, not by their might, nor by their own power, but by your spirit, yet we do ask you for victory over the enemy. In the name of the lion of the tribe of Judah, in the name of the Messiah, in the name of Joshua Jesus, amen. So when I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I'll be honest with you. I don't believe there'll be peace in Jerusalem, not permanent peace. I don't care how many people saw that Abraham Accords. There won't be peace until the prince of peace comes back and establishes it, but we can pray for it. And every time I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and I'm saying, "Lord Jesus, please come." Even so come Lord Jesus, especially right now before Rosh Hashanah, feast of trumpets, just looking up. Zachariah 12:10 says that one day Jews are going to look on the one whom they've pierced and mourn as for an only son, mourn because for 2000 years, they've rejected the one who was their Messiah and that morning is going to be repentance, and they're going to turn to Jesus. And Paul says in Romans 11:26, that one day all of Israel will be saved. I don't know if that means every single person, but it's going to be a messianic nation. So if you're convinced of God's compassion that he loves the whole world, then you'll be informed about what's going on and that leads you to intercede. And then you get involved. Paul is writing this letter, he's planning a visit. And I think that's one of the wonderful things about networking in the Joshua Fund, because you can learn opportunities to get involved and ask them, I'm sure you've given many ideas this morning but just something strikes your heart and quickens you and get involved because Paul said he was indebted. Verse 14, I'm obligated both to Greeks and non Greeks, both to the wise and to the foolish. So Paul had been part of that rebellious humanity defined God. He thought he was protecting God's name and all that, but actually he was defying them and coming against him. And Jesus said, "You're persecuting me." So then Paul, when he was saved by God's grace, not by his works, not by being a Pharisee of the Pharisees and the tribe of Benjamin and keeping the law and all that kind of stuff. But he was simply saved by God's grace. He was so grateful for the grace of God in his life. He felt indebted to go back to that world of humanity and tell them how they could be saved. So do you feel that indebtedness to other people and not only indebtedness to the world of humanity but indebtedness to the Jew. I'm a Gentile woman, without the Jews, I would not have my Bible, without the Jews, I would not have my savior. Oh my goodness. That's a huge debt of love to repay whether they know I owe them or not. We're obligated. We're the branch that's been grafted in, aren't we? We should never forget who we are, whose we are and the debt that we owe the Jewish people. So Paul was informed so that he could intercede and get involved because he was indebted. Indebted to the Jew, indebted to humanity and indebted to the Lord, Jesus Christ who had saved him by his grace. Oh my goodness, what could we... We can't pay off that debt, can't we? But we can lay down our lives. One life would not be enough to just pay Jesus back for all that he's done for us. So we live our lives abandoned to him. So if you're going to have a heart for the gospel, conscious of God's call, convinced of God's compassion. So much so that you're informed, you intercede, you get involved because you're indebted. And lastly, your confidence in God's cross. The same power that brought forth everything into existence that had no existence in creation. The same power that brought his children out of Egypt, out of slavery with a strong, powerful hand, and then the same power that opened up the Red Sea so that they could cross over on dry ground, the same power that rolled back to the Jordan river so they could cross into the promised land. The same power that brought down the walls of Jericho, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the same power that transforms solid Tarsus into Paul the apostle. That same power is available today. It has not been depleted, diluted. There is power in the cross of Jesus Christ. Oh yes, there is. Verse 16, I'm not ashamed of the gospel because it's the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. And the apostle Paul was so faithful, wasn't he? To take the gospel first to the Jew, every town he went, he went to the synagogue first, when they ran him out, then went to the Gentile. So are you confident that there's power in the cross of Jesus Christ, that transform lives today, Gentile or Jew? We're sharing the gospel with what I would call a righteous Jew and a lovely, lovely man whom I dearly love. And I'd shared the gospel with him multiple times but this last time I was just a little bit bolder. And so then he just was honest with me. He said, "Anne, I believe there are two tracks and you're on one track to God, but I'm on another track to God. And I thought, oh no, I didn't argue with him. But Paul said, "The power of the gospel for the Jew first and then the Gentile is the same gospel, there are no two tracks." So there's power in the cross. And I just want to pick up on the phrase in verse 16 that says, is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Has anybody ever asked you, "Huh, what are we saved from? I don't need to be saved." So of course we're saved from an empty way of life. We're saved from futility. We're saved from darkness, we're saved from ignorance, we're saved from... But one of the primary things we're saved from, can I just tell you? Is hell, so I don't hear too many people do this and I don't want to be offensive but this is what the Bible says. I'm going to describe hell to you. And I won't give you the text but it's a biblical description, okay? Hell is a place of great suffering, weeping, gnashing of teeth. Only time I gnashed my teeth was in childbirth cause it hurt, it was so painful. And hell is the place of intense physical torment forever and ever. Hell is described as a bottomless pit. If I fell into a bottomless pit, I would feel like I was always falling, I was never safe. And hell is described as a lake, undulates changes you. You'd never feel like you were standing on solid ground, always feel insecure. Hell is a place of total darkness where the sun never rises, it never shines. People say, "Well, I'm going to go to hell, all my friends are there, we're gonna have a party. Well, your friends may be there, but you're not going to see them, it's dark. You're going to hear their screams of agony, but you'll be in darkness. And it's a place of solitary confinement and you're all alone in hell. And you know the worst time when I'm sick, is in the middle of the night, when it's all dark, there's nothing to distract me from the pain and the agony. Hell was like that on steroids, forever and ever. Hell is described as a fire, place of intense thirst, dissatisfaction, torment. Remember the parable Jesus gave about the man who just put just a drop of water on my tongue but it wasn't possible. Worst aspect of hell, is that you're separated from God forever. The one who created you, the one who loved you, the one who gave his son for you, and you're separated from him, you can't see him, can't know him, can't ever be in his presence. So let's read the verse again. I'm not ashamed of the gospel because it's the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, Jew and Gentile, because we're all going to hell if we don't put our faith in Jesus. And Jesus doesn't condemn us to hell, it's our sin that condemns us. So if we just keep on in life, the way we were born and we're all born sinners. Romans 3:23 says that we've all sinned, all come short of God's glory. So if we just keep on living our lives the way we were born, then we're just going to cruise right into hell, which is why God so loved us that he gave us his only begotten son that when we place our faith in him, we would not go to hell, but would have everlasting life. Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death separation from God, hell when we die. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. So the power of the cross, is still sufficient to change hearts today, whether they be Jewish or whether they be Gentile, and on there right now, the Jews have that hardness in their blindness but we were talking at dinner last night and there's somethings going on in the Jewish community. And I know Aras could probably, maybe has already told you about that, but it's like the spirit of God is beginning to move in the hearts of his people. And I don't know if I'll be alive to see those blinders come off and the eyes open, and then morning for someone as for an only son, turning to Joshua as their Messiah. But that time is coming. So in what are you trusting to change lives? I was invited recently to be on a televised panel discussion on racial healing and reconciliation. So I accepted, I thought it was very worthwhile and the moderator told me he would save me the last. So I said, "Okay." So it was a panel discussion. So the moderator interviewed the different panelists and as they shared one by one, they shared that they believe that in order to change our nation, in order to change people that the foundation of our nation needed to be destroyed. They believed that the KU Klux Klan had infiltrated the police. So they needed to be defunded and done away with, they believe that we were saturated with systemic racism. So when it got to me, the moderator said, "All right Anne, what do you think?" So I had to bite my tongue and then I just said, "I disagree with most of what I've heard." But there was a panelist white guy that was on the panel and he had been raised as a skinhead Nazi, he hated blacks and then had heard the gospel and his life was transformed. And when he was on the panel, he was serving on the pastoral staff of a black church in the deep south. So I turned to him and I said, "What changed your life?" It wasn't marching in the streets, It wasn't breaking windows, it wasn't defunding the police. It wasn't joining Black Lives Matter. It was the cross, it was the gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, listen, don't forget the message. There is power in the cross, to change hearts and to change lives. Black, white, Jew, Gentile, Arab, Israeli, Muslim, whoever, there's power in the cross to transform human life. So that same principle that I gave that panel, applies in the middle east, doesn't it? It's the power of the cross that will bring reconciliation between you and Arab, and Israeli, and Palestinian and all that's going on there. The purpose of the cross, verse 17. In the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last. So from the first time when you are converted, then you meet Jesus, you put your faith in him, you're made right with God. But then you grow in your righteousness until the last day when you see them face to face. So some people come to the cross, they get their ticket to heaven and then they just feel like they go back to live their lives the way they've always lived them. But we come to the cross, we put our faith in Jesus. We're saved by faith. And that same faith that saves us, is the faith we live by. We don't live by our own wits, our own common sense, our own logic, we live by faith in the son of God who loves us and gave himself for us, right? And it's a righteousness that's imparted, and the righteousness is imputed, so we're saved and then we're sanctified. The power of the cross is the sanctifies. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer and I went through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. Radiation was every day for a month and I would go to the hospital, they would lay me down on this machine then the little technicians would run out. Then the machine would come down and I'd hear the beep and the poorer and the whatever and I knew I was being radiated. The idea being that what the surgery didn't get, then the chemotherapy would get, what chemotherapy miss and the radiation would get. And a deal was that every day when I went through that radiation, it would break down any cancer cells that it found until they would be broken and dissolved and they couldn't do their destructive work. Can I just tell you the blood of Jesus is like that radiation on cancer. So when we come to the cross and we're forgiven of all of our sin, past, present, future, all of our sin was future to Jesus when we were saved. But we come back to the cross every day to confess our sin. Not only to be restored in our fellowship with him, but to break that hold that sin has because we still sin, don't wait to be honest? We're saved but we're still sinners and our habits and our thought patterns and our actions. And every time we're aware of sin, we bring it to the cross, plowed the blood of Jesus. And increasingly like that radiation on cancer, the blood of Jesus weakens the sin, weakens the hold until we can be set free. Yes you can. You don't have to live in depression. You don't have to live in that bondage, you're no longer a slave to sin. You've been set free. First John 1:9, if you confess your sin, he's faithful. And just to forgive you, that happened when you were converted and to cleanse you everyday when you come back to the cross. So the cross isn't just for them, the cross this for me and the cross is for you. We live at the foot of the cross and our gratitude for what God has done, sends us back out to share the gospel with the world. Do the characteristics of a heart for the gospel, match your heart? Are you conscious of God's call? Call first of all, to the person, the Lord Jesus Christ. When was the last time you spent time with him, not to prepare something, not to give out, not to really study, but just be in his presence without looking at your watch for the purpose of in making him known, sharing the gospel. When was the last time you shared the gospel with somebody one-on-one? And are you so convinced of God's compassion for the whole world, that you're willing to make the time to be informed and then to intercede, and get involved as God leads you because you're indebted. And then lastly, are you so confident in the power of the cross? You know what your message is, you know what your mission is, and you give out the gospel to the Jew first, as God brings them across your path and then to the Gentile while you are growing in righteousness. So that first Corinthian says, we're changed from glory to glory till other people can see Jesus in us. That's the purpose of the cross to save us and sanctifies for God's glory. So my challenge to you, if you're like me, would you ask God to enlarge your heart for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray with me please. And I don't know if there'll be somebody here, maybe somebody who works here, somebody who'll be watching, but you've never come to the cross for salvation. And I don't feel I can give a message like this without extending you have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ by faith as your savior? And it's so simple, but you can miss it, but you just come to the cross by faith and I'm going to lead you on a prayer, if you want to do that right now, let me pray, and then you pray after me, very simple. Dear God, I bow before you and I'm deeply aware that if I were to die today, I'd come under your judgment. I would go to hell, that terrifies me. I want to be saved. And so I'm coming to the cross right now, believing there's power in the blood of Jesus to save me. So I believe Jesus died on the cross for me. If I was the only one who needed to be saved, I believe he would have died for me. And I ask that you would cleanse me with this blood. Forgive me, I claim him as my savior, and I believe Jesus rose up from the dead to give me eternal life. And I believe he turned a life is a right relationship with you now but heaven went out and opened up my heart. I choose to turn away from my sin and invite Jesus to come live inside of me, take control. And I know he'll come in and the person of the holy spirit who will never leave me, never forsake me. From this day forward, I choose to follow him all the way to heaven. Now I pray this in his name. Listen, if that's your prayer, somebody who's watching, somebody who's listening, then God has heard. It's not your words, it's the faith in your heart that God responds to. So you're saved. Welcome to God's family for the rest of us. Father I ask now please, that you set our hearts on fire for the gospel, that in this craziness in which we're living, people so desperate to be saved. Lord, where we see the people falling out of the trade towers and the people falling off of that airplane. And we want to scream and cry but there are people all around Lord that are falling spiritually speaking into destruction and judgment. Oh Lord God, in the short time that there is left, use us to share the gospel in such a way that people's hearts and lives are changed. Give us an enlarged heart for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh yes, please Lord we ask. We surrender our hearts to you for that purpose, give us opportunities to share the gospel, give us courage to open our mouth. Even if we'd do a bad job Lord, you can take it and clean it up, and wing it into people's hearts so that they respond. Thank you for Joel. Thank you for the Joshua Fund. That when I went on that website over and over and over again, I saw a reference to the gospel. Thank you for the clarity of his vision, his mission, his message. So we ask your blessing on the rest of this time together on this epicenter briefing. And we thank you for the blessing we've received and we look forward to what else you have for us. And we make this commitment. I don't want... Lord, I pray that any decisions that are made would not be snatched away by what comes after us, but seal it in our hearts please, we ask in Jesus name, amen.