Hello and welcome to this message from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calgary Albuquerque. As these teachings are shared worldwide, our prayer is that God uses them to bring more people into his family. If this message encourages you, we'd like to know, email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving.
The Lord wants us to grasp his vision for our fellowship. And we believe it is vital to the health and the growth of our church to know where we are and where we are going. In this message, United in Pursuit, Skip challenges us to take the next steps as followers of Jesus Christ. Now we invite you to turn your Bibles to Acts, Chapter 6 as he begins.
Would you turn please in your Bibles to the Book of Acts, Chapter 6, Sixth Chapter of the Book of Acts, Fifth Book in your New Testament and Sixth Chapter of that Book, Acts Chapter 6.
You know the very fact that this church even started is pretty amazing. When I first came here, I knew nothing at all about church planting. I knew nothing at all about church organization or church polity or policy. Some argue that I still know nothing about those things.
But we were just two newlyweds in love with God, with his word, with his plan. We moved here on a whim, really. We moved from the West Coast. And I remember telling people that I'm moving out East. I'm moving out East. Anything to that side of where I was living was back East.
So I was moving out East. And we just had a dream to see a healthy community of believers get established. Nothing has changed in that. We still want that. But a lot has changed since we started. In fact, sometimes it's fun to compare the year that we started to where we are today.
Did you know when we started the church, the Rubik's cube was invented? It was during that year that CNN got its start with its very first broadcast, CNN began. It was during that year that MTV was born-- Music Television. This is when people started looking at music, not just listening to it.
During that year, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married. Motorola introduced the first mobile phone in the US. We are really dating ourselves here. Sony presented the first camcorder. It's replaced now by what you carry in your purses or your front pocket. And compact disks had just been invented.
Now this is amazing to me. That means the year we started this church, we were just getting rid of vinyl records. And it's like the CD, it's so cool. Now CDs are outdated. And MP3s have taken their place. And now people are starting to go back to vinyl. So it's funny how these things cycle around.
Well, as I was preparing this week's message for Vision Week, I was struck with a thought. It's really not about my vision. In fact, honestly, who cares about my vision. It's really inconsequential what my vision is for the church or what our vision is for the church.
Really, the central thought that we ought to focus on is what is God's vision for his church. It's his church. Jesus said he would build it. It was his idea. So the thing to come to grips with is what is God's vision, purpose, strategy for his church, his people.
And to be quite honest with you, that's a question that over the years we have discussed with leadership, with staff, with lay leaders, with senior leaders of other ministries. What is the New Testament purpose of the church?
And we have written that down. We've prayed over it. We've rewritten it. We've reworked it and we've codified it into a little statement that we now share with you. And hopefully, you'll remember this-- that we pursue the God who passionately pursues a lost world.
We believe that God has already been pursuing a lost world and we're following after him. But then, to further that, we do that with one another, together, through worship, by the word, and to the world. So to boil it down even further, we believe what God wants is two things. He wants people fitted for heaven and then outfitted for service.
Fitted for heaven and outfitted for service. Now to be the most effective at that, we have to be united. We have to be united in that pursuit. Because if we don't have unity, we will malfunction. The church malfunctions without unity. It's the essential glue that keeps us together.
So if you were to look at that Book of Acts that I asked you to turn to this morning. There is an overriding theme that is throughout this book. And it is the theme of unity.
After the church is born in Acts Chapter 1, we come to the Second Chapter of the Book of Acts. And the very first verse of Acts Chapter 2 Verse 1 says they were all in one accord. That's their unity.
And then that is further added to several more verses, same chapter. Acts Chapter 2, Verse 42-- that all important seminal text that we have looked at before. "They continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine fellowship breaking of bread and prayers." They did it all together.
That theme is then accentuated two verses later in Verse 44 where it reads "and they were together and had all things in common." Then it's added to again in Chapter 4. "The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul."
So we find in the Book of Acts a church beginning by being united in their pursuit of God's purpose and God's plan. And of course, you know, there is a very unique designation, is there not, in the New Testament for the church. It's called by Paul, I think, his favorite description. It's called the body of Christ.
It's very interesting that Paul decided that the church is analogous to a human body. Your body is a marvel. Your brain is a marvel. In your brain, there are 100 billion neurons, nerve cells, interestingly shaped, all giving out information and taking in information, sending messages, receiving messages, regulating everything that you experience, see, hear, touch, controlling over 600 muscles in your body plus tendons, ligaments, organs. All so that your body can function as a unit.
It's the same in the church. There is a head. And the head is not the pastor. The head is to be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is called the head of the body of the church.
So he gives the orders. The Holy Spirit is sort of like the nervous system conveying the message from the head, who is Christ, to all the different members of the body so that there can be a smooth operation.
But if one part of your body decides not to cooperate, there's going to be a malfunction. The whole body will suffer. Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? Where do you hurt when that happens? Don't just say your thumb.
I mean, it radiates through your whole body and explodes in your brain. Or if you have a heart attack, you're not going to just go, yeah, I just kind of hurt right here. Your whole body is affected by it. Or if you're sick to your stomach, once again, your whole body is put into check because of that event.
Well, Acts Chapter 6, what's interesting about it, why I've had you turn there, is that suddenly, we come to up a place in church history in Acts Chapter 6 where the church is no longer in unity.
They're not are united in pursuit in Chapter 6. In fact, the chapter opens up by showing a group of people divided by a problem. They're not united by a pursuit, they're divided by a problem.
But then they solve the problem. And they solve the problem by enacting priorities. The problem is met by people who have priorities. And the priorities include a participation of the whole group, which ends up in progress.
Those are the things we're going to look at as we go through the text. Let's begin with the problem at hand in Acts Chapter 6, Verse 1. Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
The problem is characterized by two things-- growth and grievance. They're growing and they're griping. There has been massive growth in the church up to this point. Massive growth. It is safe to say that by the time we get to the Sixth Chapter of the Book of Acts, there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of people in the Church at Jerusalem.
Some clues to that-- in Acts Chapter 2, Verse 47, it says, "the Lord added to the church daily." Acts Chapter 5, Verse 14, "multitudes of both men and women were added."
And now we get to that little phrase in Verse 1, "the number of the disciples was multiplying." Isn't that interesting? God begins by adding, and now he's pushed the addition away. Now he's multiplying. Multitudes are coming. There are thousands and tens of thousands.
But you know, there's a little old principle. You know it well. When you turn on the light, the bugs come. We know that in the summer. You turn on the porch light, you wait a while, make sure the doors close because those bugs are going to come around the light and complicate the experience of the light shining.
And we see that in the Book of Acts. We see God is doing a work. But we see Satan trying to extinguish the light. How does he do it? Well, first of all, he tries it by persecution.
The first few chapters of the Book of Acts, the church gets persecuted by the outside world. But that doesn't extinguish the light. In fact, it grows. More people come, more people get saved.
So Satan tries a second tact. Persecution didn't work. So now he tries corruption. He takes two people in the church, Ananias and Sapphira, to play the hypocrite and to spread lies. And that comes into the church, but it doesn't work. God deals with that situation and immediately afterwards, it grows and grows and grows.
So now, Satan is on ploy number three. If persecution doesn't work, and if corruption doesn't work, let's try distraction. Let's try dissension. Let's try division within the ranks of the church. And that is what we see happening here.
There are two groups of people. Church has grown and the groups have grown. So on one hand, you have what's called Hellenists. That is Greek speaking Jews. They are from the diaspora. They're from somewhere outside of Israel.
They have come to Jerusalem probably for Passover. They probably heard the gospel, responded to Christ. And now they want to live there. They are Greek-cultured, Greek-speaking Jews that have a slightly different worldview than the native population.
The native population, the Hebrews, are Jews who have been raised in Jerusalem, speaking Aramaic and Hebrew, the language of worship. And they have a slightly more Jewish worldview than the Greeks. And there is an animosity between these two groups because the church has now grown.
So Satan tries division. And here's why he tries it. A church with internal conflict finds its message buried. A church with internal conflict will find its message buried. Disunity hinders our ability to preach the gospel to our society.
Listen to what John Stott writes. "We cannot proclaim the gospel of God's love with any degree of integrity if we don't exhibit it in our love for others. Nothing is so damaging to the cause of Christ as a church that is torn apart by jealousy, rivalry, slander, and malice, or that is preoccupied with its own selfish concerns."
We live under the watchful eye of unbelievers. You say you're a believer, you say you're a Christian. You say that at work, you say that to your neighbors. They watch you a little more carefully. They want to see what you're really about.
And they might even come to church from time to time. They want to see if there really is a community of nurturing, caring people who will love each other across the barriers of age and rank and race, if there really exists such a place. So the disunity or the unity of the church is challenged now by this problem.
What does the Bible say about unity? Well, it's interesting. Jesus, anticipating this, prayed for unity in the church, You'll remember, some of you at least, in that great prayer in John 17, the high priestly prayer of Jesus. "He knows that there will come other people in the future who will believe in him."
And he prays for them. He says. "Father, I pray not only for these disciples, but for those who will believe on me through their word." That's us. "That they may be one, Father, as I am in you and you are in me that they may be one in us--" listen-- "that the world may believe that you sent me."
In other words, the world's ability to believe that Jesus is real and come from God is directly proportional to what we do with each other. That's what he prays for. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit has a mission to work out unity among us in the church.
First Corinthians 12, Verse 13-- by one spirit. That's the Holy Spirit. We were all baptized into one body. We've all been made to drink into one spirit, Holy Spirit, that there should be no division in the body. That the members should have the same care for each other.
So if Jesus prayed for unity and the Holy Spirit works unity out, you can bet your life that Satan will attack at that very point. So that is why in Corinthians, Paul writes a letter to them. Opening chapters, he said, there's this guy, he has caused trouble. But now he wants to come back. Bring him back. Reconcile with him, forgive him.
Listen to why. Verse 11. "Lest Satan should take advantage of us." I'm reading from Corinthians, Chapter 2. "Lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of His devices."
You know, I read something about American history that in our War of Independence took eight years, eight bloody years. Seven, almost eight years. There were 13 American colonies at the time. It's estimated that if those American colonies would have been more unified, the war would have only lasted a year or less.
But because of the disjointedness and disunity among our own colonies, it took eight bloody years to win the war. I think there's a principle for us. Sometimes, we Christians are better at fighting each other than we are at fighting the real enemy.
Somebody once said that the church is a lot like Noah's Ark. If it were not for the storm on the outside, you couldn't stand the stench on the inside. Now that doesn't mean that we all stink. But I know you've been in situations around other believers and you just sort of go, what's that smell. That's disunity you're smelling. That's the stench of disunity.
So Chapter 6 of Acts begins not with the church united in pursuit, but divided by a problem. So what do they do? What do they do to solve that? The problem is met by priorities.
Verse 2. "Then the 12--" that's the Apostles-- "summoned the multitude--" that's the rest of the ranks of the believing church-- the multitude of the disciples and said, this is what they said, "it is not desirable or preferable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we, we Apostles, we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
Now notice that the Apostles didn't hide from the problem, didn't turn a blind eye to it. They met it head on because they knew unless we're united, we're going to be defeated.
Now if the church is going to be united, we have to be united over priorities. What is the priority of the church when we gather together? The Apostles said, it's not that we serve tables, we Apostles, that has to be done. But we shouldn't be the ones to do it. In fact, the priority ought to be-- listen to them-- the word of God. The word of God.
Now here was their thinking. Their thinking was this. If the church becomes what God wants the church to be, then God will do for the church what he's always wanted to do. So let's keep the priorities right-- and that is, who does what. We Apostles are given to prayer and the ministry of the word. See if we're going to be united in pursuit, we've got to pursue the right stuff, the right goal.
Now go back to Verse 2. Look at it a little more carefully. The Apostles say, "it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables." What does that mean? The word tables refers to literally the counter of the money changers.
In other words, the place where money was given and food was given to the poorer saints who came and settled in the early church. It was doling out the supply of necessities for those who were there living. The Apostles are saying, simply, we can't let ourselves get involved in those details and serve the church in that capacity.
We can serve the church, just not in this capacity. Why? Why did they say, we Apostles aren't going to leave the word of God and serve tables? Were they above it? Were they are unable to do it?
No. It's a matter of priorities. It's not their highest calling. They're saying to serve the church in this capacity will take us away from our priorities. In other words, you serve with the tables. We'll serve with the scriptures. You find those who can deal with the financial physical nourishment. We'll make sure that when you come, you are spiritually nourished. That's the priority base.
So we have that statement, that mission statement. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. But we do it with one another, through worship by the word to the world.
Listen, I can do worship. I can lead worship. I was the first worship leader at this church. I play a guitar. It is not my highest calling. Ask any of the great worship leaders we have. Will let Skip do it from time to time, but not that often.
I can do it, but it's not my highest gifting. In fact, if I did it a lot, it would be a distraction. I can also counsel. It would be a distraction for you. I can also counsel people. I can sit down in an office one-to-one and counsel.
But it is not my highest gifting and calling. But there are some on this staff who are incredibly gifted, enabled, to be able to do that. So we want to find people with different gifts to match the different needs.
Now it's interesting. They say, we don't want to leave the word of God and serve tables. Did you know that churches-- churches, organizations, institutions, churches-- can leave the word of God and serve tables. In fact, history is littered-- littered-- with churches who have left the word of God to serve tables.
Churches, schools, organizations, institutions-- once known for preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible, there's that tendency to leave it, to become more relevant, to become more seeker-friendly. Not that you want to be seeker unfriendly, but soften the message or remove the message. Forget the narrow-minded gospel of salvation, going to heaven by Jesus, blood-- get rid of that.
Let's just raise money and do nice things for people to feel good in this life. And we'll call that the gospel. There's always historically been a tendency for churches to leave the word of God and serve tables.
But not only churches as an institution, but pastors have a tendency often to leave the word of God and serve tables. And I've discovered, I think, why it is-- because it's just plain hard work.
To saturate yourself week by week, going through that routine of sitting down and doing the hard work of laboring in the original languages, and the organization, and saying it in a certain way, it's hours of research, hours of study. A young man went up to Donald Gray Barnhouse-- that name may not mean much to you-- but if you've studied preaching, you know the name.
Donald Gray Barnhouse-- a great Bible teacher, very in-depth, very effective. He lived in Philadelphia. Years ago, a young man goes up to him and says, Dr. Barnhouse, I would give the world if I could teach the Bible like you. And Barnhouse looked at him and immediately said, good, because that is what it will cost you.
He wanted that young man to understand, if you're going to do this, you're going to have to push aside lots of other activities in your life for your life to be able to focus on this.
Have you heard the name J. Vernon McGee? Does anybody know that name? OK, J. Vernon Mcgee is on the radio. He has been on the radio for years. He's in heaven. J. Vernon McGee has that deep Texas drawl. And he preaches like this.
And he lived in Pasadena, California, taught in Los Angeles. But he kept that accent. And he's on the radio. And years ago, about a year before he went to heaven, I had him speak here at this church. And I interviewed him that day on the radio and I asked him a question because Dr. McGee goes from Genesis to Revelation, teaches every verse of the Bible, which is what we do.
And I said, Dr. McGee, I have a question. Why is it that more churches, in fact probably most, don't teach through all of the Bible? And he turned to me on the radio-- I was a little shocked by his response. When I said, why don't pastors do. He turned to me and said, because they're lazy, in that classic McGee voice.
I had a young man call me from Colorado some years back. He was a young pastor. He had started a church. It was growing. He decided to do a series on marriage.
As he did this series on marriage, it started sparking things in the married couples of the church, who now wanted him to counsel them. So he found himself taking more time away from preparing his messages for the weekend and for midweek. And now he's counseling people who need help based on what he has taught on Sunday.
And as time went on, the weeks went on, he found himself having to study even less for that and more time, until eventually he calls me up and he goes, I've just got to let you know, I did this series on marriage but I stopped preaching. I have my assistant pastor now preaching because now the counseling is just-- so there's so much of it. What should I do?
I said, either make him the pastor and you just his assistant. You're going to council. But I'll guarantee you, what will happen is they're going to hear from him and want him to counsel. So you're going to find yourself in this vicious cycle.
I suggest you get back to studying the word of God and teaching it and raise up other people around you who can help you by the personal one-on-one counseling. Well, I said that to him because I remembered a statement that a professor told me in a preaching class many years ago.
He said, if you preach for one hour to an audience of 100 people and you get up in the pulpit and you are not prepared, you have just wasted 100 hours of God's time. I'll never forget that. It stuck with me.
I thought, that's the perspective I need. This isn't just my time or your time. This is holy stuff. This is God's time. This is his work. This is his plan. This is his church.
So that's the priorities that are helping to solve the problem. But their priorities don't stop there. The priorities include now the participation of the people, the participation. So we go from the problem to the priorities, now to the participation of everybody.
Look at the Fifth Verse-- "and to saying, please the whole multitude. And they chose Steven, a man full of faith in the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
In meeting the problem by establishing the priorities, they effectively solved the problem. How? By sharing the responsibility with the whole congregation. Look at Verse 2, if you will. "The 12 summoned the multitude." Verse 3-- Brethren, he's saying to the multitude, "brethren, seek out from among you." He gives it right back to them to do the work.
In Verse 5, in the same please as the whole multitude. So notice that everyone is involved, not just the Twelve Apostles, not just the Seven Deacons, but the whole congregation.
DL Moody used to say this, I would rather put 1,000 men to the work than to do the work of 1,000 men. Isn't that great wisdom? I would rather put 1,000 men to the work than do the work of 1,000 men.
There is a principle that emerges here. Here's the principal. One person, know matter how gifted, can't do ministry alone. One person, know matter how gifted, can't do ministry alone.
Ask Moses. He tried. Exodus Chapter 18, old Mo is out there working his talents out in the desert. His father-in-law Jethro, not Bodine, Jethro, comes to visit Moses out in the wilderness. If you laughed at that, you are dated.
His father-in-law comes to watch Moses work. And I'm sure Moses thought, pops, dad-in-law, he's going to be so happy with what he sees. Moses gets out there and he meets the people and counsels with them from morning till night, solving all the problems, talking to people.
And he comes home, he's done it all alone, thinking his father-in-law is going to pat him on the back. Jethro says, Moses, the thing that you're doing-- it's not good. You will wear yourself out and you will wear out the people because he saw Moses, a one-man show, being the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive branch all rolled up into a one-man-show. He says, spread the load out, spread the load out. Get other people around you.
That brings up the second principle. Big loads are to be borne by many. Big loads are to be borne by many. But they must be carefully selected, not just anybody. Choose the right people to fulfill the need that is presented. So you get gifts and callings and talents to meet the different needs that come up in the body.
By the way, speaking about that, you will notice in Verse 5, all of the names listed are Greek names. Ah, now it's beautiful. Because who's complaining? The Greeks.
The Greek-speaking Jews are complaining against the indigenous population. We're being neglected. OK, we'll put Greek men over this to solve the problem. Now the pressure is on them. But it was a beautiful display of wisdom that brought unity.
You see, for unity to happen, there has to be buy-in from everyone. Verse 5, the saying, "please the whole multitude." They're united in pursuit. It's like your body. If your body is going to accomplish anything, every part has to be working.
So you're sitting down on your couch or in your chair, and you're watching whatever you're watching. If you're like me, you're just going from channel to channel, not really watching anything.
Suddenly, your brain receives a signal from down in your stomach. It's a hunger pain, the brain is now informed. The brain might even tell the mouth to verbalize, I'm hungry. But nobody is around to hear it.
So now your whole body gets engaged. A message is sent to your legs. You've been in a sitting or recumbent position. And so the muscles contract and you stand upright.
And then the brain continues to tell the body, turn, turn the whole body. Go that direction. So now the legs start walking. The legs are receiving the signal. And the brain is saying, go toward that refrigerator.
And everything is working, everything is cooperating. And then the message from the brain to the right-hand, open the refrigerator door. And then the eye becomes engaged as it sees the leftover honey-baked ham. And your nose gets involved smelling the onions.
And then the brain says to the free hand, grab it and stuff it in your mouth. And voila-- you are fed because all of the body cooperates together. But what if the left leg goes, not moving. You don't spend much time talking about me. I don't get any exposure around here.
You need all of the parts working. Paul said in First Corinthians 12, "now the body is not made up of one part, but many. If the foot should say, because I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, well, because I'm not an eye, I don't belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body. But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be."
Do you know what a vestigial organ is? Have you ever heard the term vestigial? It means useless or non-functioning. For a long time, we were told that the appendix is a vestigial organ. It has no purpose, no really use in the body.
And the way I remember hearing it when I was growing up is that the appendix is part of our evolutionary past. It's one of those leftovers. It's now a vestigial organ. It plays no functioning role.
But science has looked at it a little more carefully and now, science is inclined to believe that far from being a vestigial organ, that the appendix plays an intricate part in the immune system, that it's like the gatekeeper between the sterile part of your bowel, called the ileum, and the non-sterile part, called the colon. Sorry, TMA, Too Much Information for some. But it illustrates the point.
The point is this-- there are no vestigial organs in the body of Christ. There are none. There are no useless, there should be no non-functioning members of the body of Christ. He set them in the body, Paul says, as he pleases
All of you have gifts. All of you are talented. All of you have spiritual inclinations. And we need them all. You're all called to serve.
Some of you have a wonderful smile. Some of you are very affable in your personality. You would be perfect to greet people. Or your voice-- we want you answering the phone because you've got that personality.
If you have a grimace, some people don't have a good smile, you look at him-- hi. OK, well, that's not your calling. But, though that may not be your calling, you may be really gifted at leading something or organizing something.
You may have a wonderful voice, you should sing. You don't have a wonderful voice-- you probably shouldn't sing here, you should sing there and be pleasantly drowned out by good voices. But you still should get involved.
All of us are gifted to serve in various capacities, to lead, perhaps, to pray, to give. We all have a part. So the problem is met by priorities. It includes participation. And you know what it leads to? Progress-- that's the result, progress.
Verse 7, then, "then the word of God spread." Let's just stop right there. Then the word of God spread. I read that and I go, of course it spread. See, if the word of God is neglected, it can spread. But if the leaders make that their priority, it's bound to spread. It's bound to spread. The word of God spread.
I'm so thankful for this church. Together, we have spread the word of God, the teaching of the word through an app in the app stores, through digital media, on the radio and television, around our community and around the country, and even around the world. We are spreading together the word of God. The word of God spread.
Thank you for that partnership.
And look at the two verbs in Verse 7. The first verb is spread, the second verb is multiply. See those verbs. Those are both in the imperfect tense in the Greek, which denotes continual action. It kept on continually spreading. The church kept on continually multiplying.
Love that. I love the way it's written, and these two things, because I really believe God is involved in only two worldwide pursuits. I know, I'm really boiling it down here, but I believe God has only a two-pronged plan for the world. Want to know what it is?
Number one is evangelism. We call ourselves evangelicals. We preach the gospel to people. God is involved in that. Picture God embracing this broken world, inviting men and women of all ages, all cultures, all backgrounds, to come into a relationship through his son Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish. That's it-- evangelism.
But there's a second undertaking. It's called the church. It's called the body of Christ. Once he saves people, he puts them with other people together. So when somebody says, well, I don't believe in the church, I don't believe in organized religion, listen, you are going against the very priority that Jesus came to build.
He said, I will build my church. That's how important it is to him. The church has called out people from all over the world with different backgrounds, called to be together in some kind of local expression of accountability to one another so that we can grow together.
So God wants people fitted for heaven and he wants them outfitted for service. As we close, I want to get to that first part. We're close, we're closing. Are you fitted for heaven? Are you fitted for heaven?
Forget a minute about, well, what church should I go to. Forget that. Are you fitted for heaven, are you saved? Didn't ask if you're religious, didn't ask if you believe in God somewhere out there. Are you ready to meet God? If you were to die-- and you will, I will, we will-- are you ready?
Do you know your sins are forgiven? Do you know you'd go to heaven. Because if you don't know that, that's where we begin, right there, asking Jesus to save us, to forgive us.
Would you pray with me? Father, together we come as people who depend you, as people who are needy. We always are. We just don't always know it. But Father, we come to you, expressing our love for you, our dependence on you, our trust in you that you are working, even now, to bring more people into the Kingdom of God, into the place where Jesus is the head over his people.
And we, even in our imperfect leadership styles and skills, we are working together, praying together, and growing together. Father, I pray for those who don't know you yet on a personal level. I pray you bring them to yourself.
With our heads bowed, I may be speaking to those who are religiously inclined, to others who are not at all, to some of you who are sporadic attenders, some of you who are weekly attenders. But more than attending, it's belonging to Jesus.
Have you ever come to a place where you have turned your life over to Him, or you have him asked him to save you, to forgive you, to give what he calls everlasting life followed up by abundant life? You may not have that, and you may know it right now. You need to come to him, you need to receive him.
It has to be personal. You have to be willing to do it. You have to be willing to ask God to forgive your past, forgive your sin that has separated you from him. And he's willing to do that because Jesus shed his blood on a cross. He's the only one that lived the perfect life we never could or did. And he died in your place so that you could live. But you have to say yes to him and receive it.
Others of you may have wandered away from the faith, and you need to come back to Jesus today. As our heads are bowed, if you want to do that, my eyes are open. I want to pray for you. I need to know who I'm praying for.
I want you, if you are willing to receive Jesus, right now to raise your hand up in the air. Just raise it up and keep it up so I can see it. God bless you. Thank you for that. God bless you.
And you right there in the middle, toward the back. And in the back, a couple of you right here in the middle. Anyone else, raise their hand up. In the back to my right, right in the middle on my left. Right up here in the front. A couple of you, God bless you guys. Thank you.
Right up here in the very front, yes sir. Yes sir, awesome. So glad you're doing it. Anyone else? If you're in the family room, I see a few hands in the family room. You may be outside, we have hundreds of people outside. There's a pastor out there. Raise your hand up, right where you are.
In the balcony, man, a bunch of guys, awesome. And in the middle toward the back, up toward the front on my right. Father, thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord. We love it. We just love that acknowledgement of need, that dependence on you, Lord, that brokenness. You love that.
You said in your word, in your Bible, the sacrifice of God is a broken heart. A broken and a contrite spirit, you won't turn away. Lord, I do pray for everyone who has raised a hand, on this campus, on other campuses, outside, inside.
Lord, I pray that you would replace anxiety with peace, with love, with purpose. Give them newness, newness of life, freshness in the way they live, and a joy and a peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Let's all stand, please. I saw lots of hands go up. And I'll tell you what I'm going to do next, and it involves you. And I'm going to ask everyone to stay instead of leaving because this is like a maternity ward. We're seeing birth happen here. It's the most exciting part of the service.
If you raised your hand, I'm going to ask you to come forward, as people are already doing right now.
Come and let me lead you in a prayer to receive Christ.
You may be in the family room, and there's a door right up to the front. In the front of the family room, it'll take you right in here. If you are outside and you're listening to this, if you raised your hand, a pastor is going to walk you to the inside.
If you're in the balcony, I saw a bunch of hands go up, you come down the steps. We're waiting for you. We want you to be a part of this.
OK, so listen up. I saw a lot more hands go up. We're not doing this to call you out or embarrass you. We're doing this to help you. When you are willing to make a stand in a group of people that loves what you're doing, it will help you stand around a world that doesn't love what you're doing.
So this just sort of seals the deal in your own heart. And do you know that Jesus himself called people publicly. He did it publicly. He went up to people and said, follow me, follow me, follow me. And in public, they got up and followed him. So we think it's appropriate that you do so. I want to lead you in that prayer. I want to wait till you get up here.
Lord, bless you. Awesome. Wait just a few more moments. That's right. That's right.
Some perhaps are just watching. As you stand there, you have realized for a long time, and maybe more so right now, you need to be up here. People have told you about Jesus. You've come and you've listened. You've been cool so far. You're hanging out where you're hanging out.
But inside, it's not what this is saying. Inside, you're empty. You're broken. You need fixing and you know it. You need forgiveness and you know it. You need God and you know it.
Anybody else? Come and say yes to him. Come and grab a hold of him. I'm just going to lead you in a prayer to receive him. Anybody else? Awesome. God bless you.
Thank you, Lord, for we welcome you. This is called Welcome Week. And we're welcoming you here as soon to be part of his church, his flock. It's his group. So I'm going to lead you in a prayer.
I'm going to say it out loud. I'm going to ask you to pray it out loud after me, OK. Say these words from your heart. Say it to him. Let's pray together.
Say, Lord I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know that I'm a sinner.
I know that I'm a sinner.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.
I believe in Jesus Christ.
I believe in Jesus Christ.
That he came from heaven.
That he came from heaven.
That he died on a cross.
That he died on a cross.
That he shed his blood for me.
That he shed his blood for me.
And that he rose again from the grave.
And that he rose again from the grave.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
Help me to follow him as my Lord.
Help me to follow him as my Lord.
I pray it in his name.
I pray it in his name.
As believers, we are united in our love for Christ. And we want to follow his vision for our lives. How will you live out what you learned in this message? And we want to know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.