The Lord's Day MorningJanuary 28, 2007
“Seeking to Save the Lost”
Dr. Harry Reeder
Take your Bibles and turn in your copies of God's word to Mark, chapter five. I'm now going to read all these verses, verses 1-20 of this very interesting and momentous account in the life of Jesus and the life of the disciples, and certainly in the life of this demoniac, who was converted in the land of the Gerasenes. Follow along with me in the word of God.
This is the truth:
“And they came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He had come out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. Now no one was even able to bind him any more, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. And constantly night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out and gashing himself with stones. And seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!’ For He had been saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ and He was asking him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said to Him, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ And he began to entreat Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there was a big herd of swine feeding there on the mountain, and the demons entreated Him, saying, ‘Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.’ And He gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. And their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they became frightened. And those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. And they began to entreat Him to depart from their region. And as He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was entreating Him saying that he might accompany Him. But He did not let him, but He said to him, ‘Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him: and everyone marveled.”
Join me in prayer.
Father, the grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God abides forever. By Your grace and mercy may this word be preached and Jesus exalted. Father, may the meditations of our hearts and the words of my mouth be acceptable in Your sight. May this word preached around the world from the rising to the setting of the sun this Lord's Day exalt Christ. And, Father, come here and visit us. In Jesus' name. Amen.
It's great to be with you. Let me give you why I chose this text. I want to kind of give you two things before we look at this text itself. I chose this text this morning because you’re pretty much on the same calendar as we are at Briarwood. It's amazing. You've got your Missions Conference coming up, and we've got our Missions Conference coming up. It's a highlight in the life of our church, and I know you enjoy your Missions Conference. So we're going to be considering–you’re going to be considering–the next few weeks “What about world evangelism? What about the global movement of the kingdom of God around the world?”
As I understand the Bible, there are only two things that are yet to be done, and then the final thing to be done, and that is Jesus comes. As I understand the Bible, the two things left to happen are all the elect are brought in, and God is not impatient in this matter. He is patient, not willing for any of His to perish, but to bring them all to Himself; and, secondly, the gospel is to be preached to all the nations. Those are the two things that I know have to occur. So I love Missions Conference because every year I keep thinking...or every time I have the privilege to lead someone to Christ, or every time the gospel goes to a new field, I keep thinking, “Well, Lord, this may be it.” Have you ever thought about that? Lead somebody to Jesus...that may be the last one? Amen! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
So you’re looking at missions. I know you’re just into your evangelism ministry, so what I wanted to do was go to a passage of Scripture that perhaps could give us evangelism and missions in perspective. But I wanted to develop this text in what I'm calling a four-fold perspective.
Now, secondly, did you know the most favorite term in the New Testament to speak of the church? The Bible speaks of the church with numerous word pictures. The church is called a building; it's called a temple; it's called a family; it's called a marriage; it's called a field; it's called the army of the Lord. But the favorite term in the New Testament is the body of Christ.
Now I want you to place that in your mind this way. So I want you to look at this just a little simply with me. Here's the way I look at it.
We just finished a Christmas, right? We celebrate the fact that God, with no diminishing of His deity (now, He laid aside privileges of His deity, but none of His deity was laid aside)... Jesus comes and takes upon Himself full humanity, including a body that was prepared for Him. That body...He lived in that body...He suffered in that body...He bore our sins to the cross in that body. He was buried in that body. In that body, He rose and in that body ascended, and right now in that glorified body He is at the right hand of the Father, and will remain there–He who ever prayed while He lived, ever lives to pray for us–and will be at the right hand of the Father until in that body He comes again.
Now, between the ascension–the bodily ascension of Christ–and the bodily Second Coming of Christ, we are Body No. 2. That's what we are. God is accomplishing His purposes until His Son comes again. He is accomplishing His purposes through us. That's why when Jesus left, what did He say? “As the Father sent Me, now I...” [what?] “...I send you, body of Christ.” As the Father sent Me. That means there is a clue as to what we should be doing now as the body of Christ, by looking back to what Jesus did in that body that He had in His 33-year ministry.
Well, it's not hard to find out what He came to do. He said, “I've come to give glory to the Father.” And it's not hard to know that He said “I've come to give glory to the Father because I delight to do Your will, O Father, and because I do Your will, I and your children, none of them will be lost.” Why?
Here's what He said: ‘In that body, I have come to seek and to save the lost.’ So I would suggest to you that is exactly what we ought to be doing for the glory of God, according to the will of God (His revealed word). We ought to be seeking to save the lost. That's why I want to bring you to this text.
Could you just kind of pretend like it's one of those wonderful moments when you've come into someone's home, and they've said, “Wouldn't you like to see my grandchildren?” And they open up a photo album. Don't you love that moment? I've never seen so many plastic smiles in my life...when you say “Would you like to look at the pictures of my children?” Now, Matthias is my grandchildren, and I encourage you to see the picture of my grandchild. I love this grandparent thing. In fact, if I had it to do over again, I'd just start with grand-parenting. It is
so-o-o much fun! I just shared with the men: I've become convinced that grand-parenting is God's reward for not killing your children! I mean, it is fun! I really enjoy it!
Well, seriously, what I'd like for you to do is to think of this in a moment. What we've done is we've opened up the album of the life of Jesus’ ministry, and we've looked at a little snapshot. The place is called the Gerasenes. A demoniac is converted. The disciples are with Jesus. It is an amazing moment. I believe there is a four-fold lesson to give us a perspective on world evangelism and personal evangelism. I believe there is a perspective in this text that would guide us for global extension of the kingdom of God through the gospel and the personal witness for Christ, and the sharing of the gospel in my home, in my family, in my neighborhood, and with my business. Let me give you these four principles, right out of this text. You ready? Here's No. 1.
I. There is no place that Jesus will not go to seek and save the lost.
There is no place that Jesus will not go to seek and to save the lost. That's the first lesson in this text. There is no place that Jesus will not go to seek and to save the lost.
Now. You've got to get behind...you've got to take it...you can't just go from this text to Jackson, Mississippi. We've got to stop off at the Sea of Galilee. And if you will go with me back to the Sea of Galilee, in the Sea of Galilee, in the days of Jesus’ life and ministry, was a hotbed of what we would call revival. From right above Tiberius all the way around the western side of the Sea of Galilee to the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee, a tremendous movement of revival had begun to take place before Jesus got there for those Galilean ministry moments that are recorded in the Gospels. It is alive! It is pulsating! There is an excitement.
But not on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. In fact, you will notice that John Mark, inspired by the Spirit of God, to be directed by Peter, gives us this Gospel. John Mark is not even able to give us the geographical names of the place until finally at the end: Decapolis. And when he does, we immediately notice that's not a Hebrew name. That's a what-kind-of name? Decapolis. What kind of name would that be? That would be Greek. Deca- (“ten”)...polis (that's “cities”). In other words, the eastern side had become so paganized it had lost all of its biblical Hebrew names. I mean, what would good Jewish people be doing with 2,000 swine in a herd? It has become Hellenized. It has become paganized. The Hellenistic culture had taken over, and it was so much...John Mark can't even bring himself to mention the name! He says “the other side of the sea.”
You remember when you were growing up, your mama said, “Son, don't go to the other side of the tracks. Don't go there!” Well, if you’d been growing up at the Sea of Galilee, like Peter, James and John, your mother would have said, “Son, good Jewish boys don't go to the other side of the sea. There's crazy people over there. I mean, I don't know about Satan, but demons feel comfortable over there. We hear there's people living in cemeteries, running around without any clothes on! You can't even control them! Don't go over there!” If Jesus had told the disciples where He was going, my guess is they would have had an argument with Him. “Mama said I can't go there.” They would not have wanted to go there. But there's no place that Jesus will not go. He’ll go to the other side of the sea, He’ll go to the other side of the tracks, He’ll go to the other side of the world.
In a couple of weeks, you’re going to be talking about going to the other side of the world, aren't you? And you get a chance to go by partnering with other people in prayer, in giving, in sending, and even short-term mission trips. But wait just a minute. Is there any place that you've crossed off here in Jackson? Or your home? Is there any place that we've called...? You know, missions ought to simply be an extension of what we're doing here. And if there's no place we won't go out there, there's no place we ought not to be going here. No place that we will not go.
You know, one of the biggest challenges is not so much the tough places, but the close places. I remember when I became a Christian; I just started telling everybody about the Lord. Some people in my family got upset with me, because every time we’d get together I'd start talking about Jesus, and I got...I was now the holy-roller, they said, and don't invite him anywhere. And I know I had to learn how to do this a little bit better...I mean, you had to kind of...but you know, have you ever noticed how new Christians are the ones that...they’re the best evangelists! Two reasons: one, guess who their friends are. Unbelievers. The longer you’re a Christian, the more you just kind of “clump up together; and when you’re an unbeliever, all your friends are unbelievers. And when you get saved, there's all your friends! And you just...you’re so excited about it, see? I mean, you don't just say “amazing grace”; you actually believe: “Amazing Grace! Do you believe this? I was lost, headed to hell. I'm saved, going to heaven! And I can take some more with me! I can't believe this!” And you start telling everybody.
Now, I was putting my wife through school at the time, and I was a truck driver. Y’all ought to be sharing the gospel in the locker room with a bunch of truck drivers! That's a lot of fun! And one of my best friends...so, I'm going to tell you about my unsaved life. I was an immoral, ungodly, pagan, violent man. And I don't want to talk about it any more than that, because that's under the blood, praise the Lord. But I want to tell you this. There was a lot of guys that I did a lot of things with that I couldn't wait to go tell them what had happened to my life. One of them I actually used to pray for an opportunity to see, to tell him.
It was not long after we were married, when Cindy and I were riding down Middleton Road, and I looked over there, and there was Larry! I'd been wanting to tell him. Hadn't seen him since I had become a Christian. And so I said, “Hey, Larry!” He said, “Hey, Harry!” [...Larry-Harry...that was a lot of fun!] We pulled over into the side of a Seven-Eleven, and he's parked this way and I'm parked that way, and I'm talking out my window to him, and he's talking out his window to me, and I'm just sharing with him, and I'm saying “O Lord, would You open up the door for me to tell him about Jesus? Just open the door...something....” And then Larry looked, and he saw a Bible on my dashboard–’68 Chevelle–had the Bible on the dashboard. He said, “What's that?!?” I said, “It's a Bible.” He said, “What are you doing with a Bible?” and then I said... [Whoa! Open door!]...so I just started talking fast as I could just to get it out, because I'd noticed his car started moving. And first I thought it was mine moving backwards, but it was his moving forwards! And he was starting to move, and I was just going as fast as I can.” The reason I carry the Bible in my car is...” [Anybody ever been to Charlotte, North Carolina? Anybody? All right. Three people, Charlotte, North Carolina. That's great! Y’all can't leave Jackson? Is that the thing?] In Charlotte, North Carolina, you've got the longest stop lights in the world. Sharon Avenue and Independence Boulevard — two chapters! You can get two chapters read. You can get Psalm 119 read, right there at Sharon Avenue! And so I'd just take it in the car with me, and instead of getting mad at the light, I'd just open up the Bible and start reading. And so I was telling him about becoming a Christian, why I wanted to read the Bible, and he just kind of pulled...he said, “Hey, that's great! I’ll talk to you some other time.” And he just kind of pulled on off.
Well. I turned to Cindy, and I said, “Honey, how’d I do?” (Now you understand I was just converted, but Cindy was converted on the way out of the womb. Catechism? She had that done by the time she was teething.) And so, you know, I said, “How am I doing? How’d I do?” And she said, “Well, I don't think...” (She's also honest.) “...I don't think you did very well.” And I said, “Well, I hope something comes of it.”
So a couple of weeks later, we're out at a restaurant. We call them “fish camps” over there on the river, and I was at a fish camp called Linebergers, and I'm standing in line out in the parking lot, and this lady comes...now, remember: I'd just been married, and I didn't have this great lifestyle before...I'm standing in line, and this lady comes running up behind me, throws her arms around me, and says, “Harry Reeder, I love you!” I said, “Oh, no! It's a blast from the past!” I turned around, and it was Larry's mother. She said, “Larry's a Christian.”
I said, “He is?”
She said, “Yes.”
I said, “You know, I'm a Christian.”
She said, “Yeah, he told me.”
And I said, “In fact, I talked to Larry a couple of weeks ago.”
She said, “Yeah, he told me!”
I said, “And now he's a Christian?”
And she said, “Yes!” I turned and looked at Cindy...and I said, “Was it something I said?”
And she said, “Ah...no.” She said, “He said you didn't make a whole lot of sense, but anything that would change somebody like you that much, he wanted to go find out about it. So he found a good Baptist church and got saved that Sunday.”
Larry called me right before I came to Birmingham...calls me periodically...growing in the Lord. His children know the Lord. Just so exciting. You can go next door...in your home. That's may be one of the toughest places to go. You go in your home, go in your business, go in your neighborhood. There's no place that Jesus will not go to seek and to save the lost.
No. 2: There is no power He cannot overcome to seek and the save the lost.
There is no power that He cannot overcome to seek and to save the lost. Now, don't get lost in this text, because John Mark has carefully woven into a beautiful narrative...he has carefully woven the five rabbinical marks of a truly demon-possessed.... The rabbis had five things that they always looked for to see if it was true demonic activity: bizarre behavior (John Mark shows gashing himself with stones, running around, yelling); supernatural strength (chains can't hold him); necromancy (living among the dead)...he's living in the cemetery; sexual perversity (there he is with no clothes on); and then, uncleanliness (as he shows up absolutely dominated by the dirt and filth of his existence). All five marks are there. He's making it very clear that the demonic world was there. But there is no power that Jesus cannot overcome to seek and to save the lost.
Brothers and sisters, we make a terrible, terrible mistake. Satan is functioning. Satan is greater than me. But you need to remember two things as we go about this world. Jesus said this on His way to the cross. He said this: ‘I have bound the strong man. Now go plunder his house.’ The reason we're able to send the gospel around the world and see men and women come to Christ, the reason we're able to see it in our neighborhood, the reason we're able to see it in our country, the reason that we can confidently go forward is not because we can rebuke Satan, but because the Lord has rebuked Satan. Christ defeated him at the cross. Christ has given you the Holy Spirit, and greater is He that's in you than he that is in the world.
We've flip-flopped so many things in the Christian life. One of the things that we do is we try to resist temptation and flee Satan, and the Bible says no, you've got that exactly backwards. Don't resist temptation; flee it. In fact, you even pray that the Lord won't lead you into such trials. Flee temptation, and what else? “Resist Satan and he will flee from you.” You can go right into your home to evangelize your children, and you can say to the Lord God Almighty, “Bring the power of the gospel.” And when you bring the power of the gospel, Satan must flee. There is no power He cannot overcome to seek and to save the lost.
You can go into your lives, and into your marriages, and into your businesses, and into your families, and you can go confident that no matter what manifestation of Satan–either his blustering attempts to roar like a lion to strike fear, or his subtle maneuvering as an angel of light, even to preaching heresies from pulpits in the name of Jesus Christ–but you can be confident of this: that whenever Christ is honored, Satan must flee.
That's what Jesus is showing. This isn't a nice...this isn't the demon saying ‘Would You mind not sending us out of the country? But can we have those swine, and go over into that sea over there?’ The picture that's... If you understand Hebrew cosmology, what's happening when Jesus sends them (the unclean animals) over the cliff into the roaring sea (which is the open door too the abyss in the Hebrew mindset), Jesus is telling us something: He is Lord of all. Satan is God's Satan. He can't do anything that God doesn't allow him to do, and whatever he does will ultimately fit into the glory of God, if those people of God put their trust in the hands of the living God. There is no power that He cannot overcome.
We can send missionaries into the darkest place, and we can go to the darkest places of our rapidly paganizing society today, but we can go. And there is no power that He cannot overcome.
The first time I experienced that–and was grateful for it–was when I got to Pinelands Presbyterian Church, my first church. That's where I met your previous pastor, Jim Baird. He was a mentor, and chairman of my ordination council. I got to that church, and I found out three of my... I had five elders. The one that knew the Lord had died of leukemia when I got there. The other one got transferred. The other three didn't know the Lord.
I went to the office supply place. The office supply place, I said, “Can I charge some things for our church?” And she said, “Oh, yeah, we have charge accounts for churches.” And she said, “What's your church?” I said, “Pinelands.” She said, “Ooops! Y’all get cash only.” Not a great testimony.
The average age in that church was 69. No children. No children in that church but my three. That was it. I want to tell you, those were the fastest 69-year-old people you've ever met in your life! I got to the end of my first service there when I preached...I got to the back to shake hands, and there wasn't anybody to shake hands! They’re gone! I've never seen people get out of a church so quick before in my life. They’re gone. In fact, I'm out in the parking lot trying to stop cars, just to shake somebody's hand! I come back at five minutes after twelve, and the door was locked. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life.
Preached my second sermon. Before I preached my second sermon, I got a phone call. It was one of the previous pastors. He said, “Harry, this is your first PCA church?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Did you pray about that?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He said, “I mean, did you really pray about it?”
I said, “Yeah, I did.”
And he said, “Did you know that the first pastor was stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors by his wife at the Cutler Ridge Mall because he was having an affair with the choir director?”
I said, “Well, I did, I'd heard about that.”
He said, “Did you know the next pastor is out of the ministry because of alcoholism?” He says, “You know, the next pastor is out of the ministry because of his wife's addiction to prescription drugs.” And he said, “I’ll tell you,” he said, “I wasn't there but two years and I was ready to go.” He said, “Harry, I believe this church has the mark of Satan on it.”
You know? That's not real encouraging to hear, your first week!
I didn't know what to do, so the next Sunday I took II Timothy 1:12:
“I suffer these things and I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him against that day.”
I just shared the gospel that day, invited people to become a Christian.
I had it worked out with the organist, Roxanne, just to play something really light — a hymn. And I'd picked the hymn, and I was just going to invite people to pray with me. But she wasn't playing. Now, I'm trained at Westminster Seminary, so when the organist doesn't play, you know, we teach you what to do there! I opened my right eye, and I looked back just to find out where she was. She wasn't there. Now, she's paid more than I was! And I said...I couldn't believe she was gone...and then I heard somebody laughing and crying all at the same time. I looked down, and there's Roxanne. I can still today see her in that green chiffon dress. And she said, “Preacher, I've been choir director eight years, and I'm not a Christian. Can I be one?” I said, “Sure.” So Cindy and I prayed with her.
I got to the back, and the Chairman of the Deacons met me, and he said, “What were you doing down there?” I mean, he's red-faced, and he's a man's man. He's a captain in the fire department. He said, “What were you doing down there?!?”
I said, “Well, Roxanne wanted to be a Christian.”
He said, “I thought that's what you were doing.”
And I said, “Yeah.”
He said, “Well, I need to be one!”
And I said, “Well, great!”
And he said, “I want to come forward like that. Can I do that next Sunday?”
I said, “Well, we may be able to work that out.” I said, “But you don't need to go forward. You can give your life to Jesus...”
He said, “I knew you’d say that.” He said, “...and I did that. But I've been a hypocrite 14 years, Chairman of the Deacons. I want to do this thing publicly.”
On Thursday I got a phone call. He’d cut his thumb off. Microsurgical equipment had just been delivered to Jackson Memorial Hospital in 1980. He was the first one. You've heard the phrase “the practice of medicine”? They practiced on him. Took them hours. Got him sewed up. Put a button on the end of it, tied it off and bandaged him up, had his arm up in the air like that. Told him, “We hope it takes.” I got there, I said, “Jack, I don't know what to tell you but two things. One, you’re now a believer and Satan's going to attack you, to find out if you’re really one or not and see if he can get you back if you’re not one.” I said, “Secondly, God's sovereign. Satan can't do anything God doesn't allow him to do, and God's now given you a promise–not that all things are good, but all things work together for good. Now let's pray.” So we prayed.
That next Sunday I stood to preach, and there came Jack, right when we did the Call to Worship. As I looked in the back, he took the back seat back there, his arm's all bandaged up...I tell everybody that's my one “Billy Graham moment” in all my life, right there! At any point in that service I could have stopped and said, “I see that hand back there!” In fact, the whole service it's up! I got to the end of the service, and before I could say “Amen,” he's up, down the middle aisle; I met him, put my arms around him. He's got one arm around me, the other one up in the air like that...! And I said, “Jack, I didn't expect to see you today.” He said, “Harry, Satan could have taken my arm off at the shoulder, I'd have been here today. It ends today. It really begins today for me.”
Behind him came his wife, Beth. Behind her, of the 55 people at Pinelands (that had once been 980, now was 55), behind them came 28 more. That day God brought life to that church.
‘Harry, why do you tell me that story?’
So much for the mark of Satan. God's grace is glorious and great. There is no power He cannot overcome to seek and to save the lost.
No. 3. There is no person so lost that He cannot save.
There is no person so lost...I mean, just think of this guy! Chains...no clothes. What if he came in the back door right now? Yelling, screaming, gashing himself with stones, coming right down that aisle right there...what would you do? (I'd get behind Ligon, that's what I would do!)
I mean, it's amazing. Can you imagine the disciples as they...I mean, if they’d known where they were going, they wouldn't have got in the boat! If they’d know who they were going to meet, they wouldn't have gotten out of the boat! But there is no person so lost that Jesus can't save them. Don't cross people off just because you think they’re beyond salvation. They’re not! There's no person so lost that He cannot save. Listen. He saved “the chief of sinners,” Paul.
Well, in fact, let me put it this way. What if I were to tell you that, oh, ten years from now Osama ben Lay-den was going to be the Pastor of Missions and Evangelism at First Presbyterian Church? You’d say, “Well, Harry, first thing, you didn't get his name right. It's Osama ben Lah-den.” No, it's not. Not in Birmingham. In Birmingham, it's Osama ben Lay-den–l-a-d-e-n! Remember Christmas? “Mary was heavy....” Let's try that again! Mary was heavy... ..l-a-d-e-n. She wasn't “heavy lah-den.” She was heavy “lay-den.” Besides, I've got a sermon I preach: “From Ben Laden to Ben Haden” and it has to rhyme! I have to do it that way!
You say, “Harry...ben Laden? Evangelist? Church planter? Missionary? Is that possible? Well, Harry, he's a religious terrorist! He hates Christians, kills Christians!” Who's the greatest evangelist and church planter we've ever had? A guy by the name of Paul, whose name was Saul, whose occupation was religious terrorist–killing Christians. God's grace is greater than all of our sin. There is no person so lost that He can't save them.
No. 4. There is no person that He's saved that He will not use to seek and to save others.
Here's the last one: There is no person that He has saved that He will not use to seek and to save others. Now think about this.
This man gets–watch–saving grace? “Just as I am,” and he's saved. Transforming grace? God has transformed him. Now he's in his right mind, he's clothed, he's conversing. And then he says to Jesus, ‘Can I join Your church? I just don't have a good reputation back there,’ as they go to get in the boat. [I've got a little sermon series I'm working on: Jesus’ “no” answers to prayer.] He asks Jesus, ‘Can I go join Your church?’ Jesus says, ‘No. You can't join My church. You’re not going back with Me. You go home and you tell your people–your family, your friends– what great things the Lord has done for you.’
And he went back to Decapolis–a hostile culture–and he preached Jesus.
There is no person that He has saved that He will not use to seek and save others. That's you. That's not just the missionaries we're going to send out. That's not just the people that go through EE training in this semester. That's you and me, at our home, in our neighborhood, everywhere else. There's no person that He's saved that He will not use to seek and to save others.
When I got to Charlotte, North Carolina, I met with this lady whose husband had left her for about the fourth time, and now they were actually going through the divorce. We walked with her through the divorce, and we prayed through that entire process. And the Lord sustained her, and it was a marvelous thing of how His grace and mercy brought her through that, and her four little boys.
In the meantime, we reached out to the fellow, and a true conversion took place. He was converted. We then discipled him, and then one day he came to me and he said, “Harry, do you think my wife would let me re-marry her?” I said, “I don't know. You forfeited that right. But you keep being discipled, and why don't you start courting her. We’ll see what happens.” So he did court her, and then he was, and she eventually said yes. So we remarried them.
Now, we're in a metal gymnasium. We started out in a modular unit (the difference between a modular unit and a double-wide trailer is you cover up the wheels) and then we moved to a...just like this...(I feel so homesick for Christ Covenant right now!) We’re in a metal gymnasium like this, except we didn't have these nice chairs. We had plastic chairs. We called them “widow makers.” I mean, anybody I saw sit down over 210 pounds, I knew they’d disappear sometime in that service! They’d be right down! They would just fold right up, or whatever it did. And so I said, “Y’all want to rent a church for your wedding?” Because you know, Steve was way up there in the financial industry and all these CEO's and COO's and CFO's and UFO's...and they were all coming to that wedding. And so we had that wedding...and he said, “No, let's have it right...if we can worship in this gymnasium, we can get married in this gymnasium.” So they stood there, and the four boys gave their testimony, and we remarried them. And by the way, I got a chance to remarry my dad and mom, too, after their 14 years of a divorce. That was a lot of fun! I stayed up all night praying about it — how do you do that? So I said, “Dad, would you take Mom to be your wife?” I said, “Mom, would you take Dad to be your husband?” and she said, “Yes.” And I said, “Mom, are you sure?” But anyway, they’re remarried.
I got a phone call–let me give you this real quick now–but, anyway, I got a phone call that Monday. It was a guy that worked with Steve, and he said, “Harry, I was at that wedding, and I've never been to a wedding like that before in my life. And I've worked with Steve...he's been telling me about his relationship with Christ, and that he's saved. And I went to that wedding and I heard all that...can I talk to you about that?” I said, “Sure. Meet me at the Chateau Restaurant.”
So we met at the Chateau Restaurant on Moorhead Drive, and I pulled out a napkin and I asked him two questions: “If you died tonight, do you know where you’ll spend eternity?”
He said, “No.”
I said, “If you stand before God, and He said ‘Why should I let you in heaven?’ what would you say?”
He said, “I don't have an answer.”
So I took the napkin...I've got this little gospel presentation that starts with three things: your situation, God's solution, and our salvation. And I just walked him through it. And then after it was through, I said to him, “Do you understand?” He said, “Yes.”
I said to him, I said, “Harvey, is there any reason why you shouldn't receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”
He said, “No. I want what Steve's got. I want what you've been talking about.”
So we prayed right there in Chateau Restaurant. He gave his life to Jesus. I remember, he took the napkin that day, stuck it in his Bible. You can read it today. He's at Christ Covenant, he's still got he napkin in his Bible.
He had a relationship that we used to call “living without the benefit of clergy.” So he went home and told the lady, “You’re going to have to move out, or I'm going to have to move out. I'm a Christian now.” She thought he was in a cult, so she came that next Sunday to our metal gymnasium, plastic chairs, and she said she thought we were going to bring Kool-Aid out any minute! And so she got so mad at what she heard that she had to go out. There was only one way out, and she went out and shook hands. I shared with her. Long story short, Beth became a Christian. And then Harvey was being discipled, she was being discipled. Harvey said, “We ought to get married. Will you marry me?” She said, “Yes.” And so they got married.
So we were back in that gymnasium–remember, it's the same people coming back for this wedding that were at the other wedding. All the CEO's and everybody. They’re all out there again. And we do this wedding, Harvey shares his testimony, Beth shares her testimony. It's a great wedding.
Next day I get a phone call. Monday. Phone call says, “Hey, Harry. My name is Dan, and I work with Harvey and Steve, and they've been telling me about being a Christian and Jesus, and I've never seen weddings like that before in my life. Could I talk to you about that?” I said, “Sure. Meet me at the Chateau Restaurant!” So we met at the Chateau Restaurant, and I asked him two questions, pulled out a napkin, wrote down three things, asked him...yeah...is there any reason why...? ...No, I want to be a Christian. So Dan gave his life to the Lord.
Now, his wife had left him and she didn't come back. I wish I could tell you she had, but she didn't come back. But the Lord gave him a wife. Her name is Chris, and she taught in the Christian school, and they adopted four marvelous little kids from Russia.
And then I got a phone call from a guy by the name of Joe. And Joe said, “You know, I know Steve and Dan and Harvey, and they've been telling me about being a Christian, and I've never seen weddings like that before. Can I talk to you about that?” I said, “Sure.” I said, “Why don't you meet me at the Chateau Restaurant!” And so ...and I said, “By the way, bring a napkin...I think they’re out now.” And so we shared the gospel and Joe became a Christian.
Here's where I'm going to just end it right here with you. Today Steve is Vice President of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina; adjunct faculty. His wife is superintendent of the 1200-student Christian school. Harvey is an elder in the church. Harvey and Beth have been involved in Evangelism Explosion, sharing the gospel. Chris and Dan went out to help us plant a church, and they helped bring Bethany Adoption Agency into Charlotte, North Carolina. Joe became president of Men Of the Church; his wife Betty became president of Women In the Church. Y’all get the picture?
There's nobody that He's saved that He will not use to seek and to save others.
So, yeah. Missions. Let's be fellow workers. Let's send people all over the place, but how about you and me, right here? No place we won't go. Don't cross any place off. No power He can't overcome. Don't run; be bold in the Lord. No person so lost He cannot save them. Don't cross anybody off. You’ll be amazed at who He saves. And there's no person that He saves (that's you and me) that He will not use to save others.
Father, thank You for the privilege to be with these men and women. What a joyful, joyful time in worship and praise! I do pray for the evangelism ministry of this church; not only its formal training in Evangelism Explosion, but its everyday lifestyle exhibition. Lord, lay on our hearts right now...I pray that You would lay on the heart of every person here at least five people that they know they can plant the seed of the gospel, or water the seed, or cultivate the seed...or maybe even reap the decision. But, Father, would You give us such hearts; and then, would You cause their conference to be an exciting anticipation of the gospel around the world, so that the praise of our God would cover the earth, even as the waters cover the sea. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Let's haste to fulfill our mission. The hymn is right there; we’ll stand and sing it.
[Congregation sings O Zion, Haste, Your Mission High Fulfilling]
Go, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded. And lo, He will be with you all the day, even to the end of the earth.
And God's people said....
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