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The Three-Fold DNA of a Missions Church

Sermon by Harry Reeder on Mar 3, 2013

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The Lord's Day Evening

March 3, 2013

“The Three-Fold DNA of a Missions Church”

Acts 1

The Reverend Dr. Harry L. Reeder III

If you've got your copies of God's Word, turn with me to the book of Acts and chapter 1, Acts chapter 1. Join me in prayer if you would.

Father, I'm grateful to You for the extraordinary privilege to open Your Word to these, Your people. Father, do that work which only You can do by the Holy Spirit, and Father, that is, from this Word through the inadequacies of the one preaching, there are many. Father, I pray that You would, by the Holy Spirit, speak to their hearts so that they might hear Christ and hearing Christ believe and believing so live, so that Christ might be exalted and shall have dominion though all the earth. I pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

Look with me in verse 1:

“In the first book” - this is Luke writing, inspired by the Holy Spirit - “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

Now before I read any further, let me just stop at this point and kind of give you a heads-up. I've said it twice since I have been here and this is something very much upon my heart for my own congregation and by no means is it my assessment of your congregation, it's just on my heart for my congregation and any others. I'm very much disturbed and concerned that a lot of our churches really have lost a sense of the commitment to world missions. So whenever I see a church like this, not only holding onto that legacy but building on it, I rejoice. And I'm grateful for it and I'm actually concerned among the current movements of evangelical churches that that's kind of lost. And of course the excuse is, “Well the world has come to America,” and there's a sense that there's local missions. But I think that every church needs to have an intentional commitment that you go from your Jerusalem to your Judea to your Samaria to the outermost part of the world, intentionally. I think that has to be an intentional commitment to seek and to save the lost throughout all of the Lord's vineyard.

But the second thing is, on the other side of that, is that I'm very much concerned that somehow we get a satisfaction that we send out missionaries, we pray for them, we highlight world missions, we give Faith Promise giving, therefore we're a missionary church. No, no, if you’re a missionary church then you’re doing the work here as well. So I begin to try to put my mind into the book of Acts to try to ascertain what is it, what is it that makes a church effective, not only locally, but regionally, nationally, and internationally. What is it that empowers them, that keeps them on mission, on message, in ministry? What is it that has to be built into the very integrity? Now the phrase I've used is “The Three-Fold DNA of a Missions Church.” Now I've chosen that because I believe First Pres., like Briarwood, is a manifestation of the body of Christ. Now no local church is the body of Christ; we are a manifestation of the body of Christ. And so what does it looks like? The body of Christ — what is the essential DNA that makes the body intentional, effective, vital, and successful in the cause of the Great Commission? What would be that three-fold DNA?

Well I'm immediately going back to the book of Acts. Now it's written by the Holy Spirit through Luke. Luke probably did the work of the gospel of Luke that he wrote. Now if you’ll notice in what I just read, it said, “This is the second book I've written to you, Theophilus.” Now there is a lot of discussion — Theophilus: theo = God; phileo = love; lover of God. Is that an actual person or is that a term to encompass all of believers that would read it or is that both, an actual purpose but in God's providence a wonderful name for that person that is descriptive of what we ought to be, lovers of God as well? I don't propose to solve that for you now, but I do find it very interesting. It says this is the second book. And what I really find interesting is that he says this is the second book. The first book was “all that Jesus began to do and teach.” When I saw that fifteen years ago, I realized my ministry just got revolutionized again. When I first started doing discipling, I understood that discipleship — you heard Scott talking about it today, life on life, I understood that discipleship was informational and relational. We learn by instruction; we learn by imitation. It's not just like when we first started out discipling. I'm going to get you through that, you’re discipled, now let's go. No, there is mentoring and modeling that takes place. There is both of them.

But what I hadn't seen is the order so clearly enunciated. See, I had done instruction — “Now that I've taught you, watch me do it.” That's the way I had been taught. But it seems as if — now I believe in verbal plenary inspiration; I believe the order of the words are very important in Scripture. And so when it says that “The first book that I wrote was about what Jesus began to do and teach,” not “teach and do” but “do and teach.” He's pray. They’d say, “Teach us to pray.” He’d evangelize; then He’d teach them about evangelism. It was do and teach, do and teach. Now this is the second book. If the first book was all that Jesus began to do and teach, what is Luke saying by inference? The second book he's writing, the second volume he's writing, is that Jesus continues to do and teach.

Now if you’ll let me just be a very simple person, because I am, the first book describes the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Right? His earthly ministry, the gospel of Luke. So that means that the gospel of Luke covers how many years? This isn't hard. Thirty-three years; thirty-three years. So the Father sent the Son to do His will. To save the people He's given to them. Jesus comes. “Father, I lose not one but will raise them up on the last day.” So Jesus could do that, He takes upon Himself — He doesn't diminish His deity; He lays aside privileges of His deity. We didn't have thirty-three years without a Trinity. So He takes upon Himself humanity. So that by a man came death, by a man comes the resurrection of the dead, and in that body He lived a perfect life and in that body He died an atoning death and that body was put into a tomb and that body, glorified, was raised, and that body ascended and that body is at the right hand of the Father where He now intercedes for us. And in that glorified body, He will come again one day. In between the ascension and the Second Coming, you are body number 2. That's why Paul, Paul uses all of the metaphors in the Old Testament to describe God's covenant people. He uses all of them and he adds one that you don't find in the Old Testament and that's this — the body of Christ.

We are how Jesus continues to do and teach. “The Father sent Me. As the Father sent Me, now I send you.” So he then writes the second volume. And by the way, guess how many years are covered in the gospel of Acts? Thirty-three years. The first volume is all that Jesus began to do and teach; the second volume is all that Jesus continues to do and teach. I don't want to lose you; I don't want to lose you, but if you look at the last chapter it's just a period. It doesn't end because it's not supposed to end. Jesus is continuing to do and teach through First Presbyterian Jackson. What is He doing? He is fulfilling the Great Commission. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” And so when the church gets started, He gives them their marching orders again.

Now look with me in Acts chapter 1 and look down to verse 4:

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And then He was taken up into glory to the right hand of the Father, from which He will come again.

So you go through the book of Acts and guess what the book of Acts is? The book of Acts is the Holy Spirit coming upon them, the church is conceived in a prayer meeting — Acts chapter 1 — it is birthed in the sermon — Acts chapter 2 — and then the first eight chapters is the power of the Holy Spirit through the body of Christ with the Gospel reaching Jerusalem — 3,000, 5,000 every single day people are being converted. The evil empire strikes back. All that does is multiply the church. Then, what is Acts chapters 9 through 12? Acts 9 through 12 is the kingdom going to Judea and Samaria. And then what happens after that? Then you have the kingdom of God going to the world — Acts 13 through 28. Acts 1 through 8 is the kingdom of God going to Jerusalem and the powerful church, the body of Christ, the church at Jerusalem. Then Judea and Samaria, a powerful church, the church of Antioch. Then to the whole world, another powerful church, the church at Ephesus. And when Paul dies, he's ready to go to Spain and he's looking for another church from which will be this epicenter work of the Gospel, this Gospel earthquake. And that church will be Rome, so he writes an exposition of the Gospel to lay the ground work to go and do that.

Harry, why are you going through this? Because when you get to Acts chapter 17 and the Gospel is going to the world, to the very thing that I preached on this morning, is when it lands in Thessalonica and the evil empire strikes back — and by the way you’ll see that every time, every city. When Paul gives to the city, he evangelizes and disciples and he meets with success, then the empire of Satan strikes back and he's persecuted or arrested or stoned or whipped or something that happened. Three, God intervenes. God intervenes on behalf of His people. Number four, they go right back into the city and get more success. Number five, they plant a church and then move on to the next city. That happens time after time after time after time.

Well when they got to Thessalonica, an adversary of the Gospel, an adversary of the kingdom, says this. “These people who have turned the world upside-down have now come here also.” Let's stop and think. Less than twenty-five years after the ascension of Jesus, all the way in Europe, an adversary of the Gospel is frustrated by the world shaking movement of the kingdom. All the way in Europe. Well I think the key to it starts back in Acts chapter 1. Jesus says, “You’re going to go to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the uttermost part of the world, but don't go until you go back to that Upper Room. And I want you to get on your knees. And there is a promise that the Father has given and it can't be given until I ascend, but when I ascend, it will be given. And the one whom the Father has promised in My name will be poured out upon you and you will be My witnesses and you will receive power and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the world.”

And therefore I think He puts in place very clearly what is this three-fold DNA of a missions, world-shaking church. So you say, “Well pastor, we've got a nice sized church. Are you sure we can shake the world?” A hundred and twenty people in the Upper Room. A hundred and twenty, and some of them had been running in fear just a couple of days before. “Pastor, could that really happen to the church you pastor, to the church I pastor?” Most of the time we think the key is how we're going to strategize. And I'm all for strategic thinking. My goodness, that's a vein in my life. I love to think strategically. But brothers and sisters, I believe that the body of Christ that is effective to send the Gospel around the world is a church that has three marks that Jesus said, “Don't go until this happens.”

DNA OF A MISSIONS CHURCH: HOLY SPIRIT FILLED

Number one. Here it is. I'm going to give you the three-fold DNA. DNA number 1 — the church must be Spirit filled, must be Holy Spirit filled. He said, “Go, and I’ll pour out the Holy Spirit upon you and when He comes you will receive power.” The Christian life cannot be lived without the Holy Spirit and the Great Commission cannot be accomplished without the Holy Spirit. That's why the last thing He says is, “I’ll be with you until the end of the age because you can't get this done without Me.” So we must be utterly surrendered. Now let me give you the good news. If you’re a Christian here today — I was going to ask for hands to be raised but I won't do that lest you — then I was going to tell you the buses are waiting for you but I wasn't going to do that either. But if you’re a believer here today, first of all I've got good news - you have the Holy Spirit. He has been poured out upon you. That's why I believe John says, “There is one coming after me. He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Jesus is the baptizer. He has two agents that He baptizes with. He’ll either baptize His people with the Holy Spirit or He will baptize and gather, I'm sorry, He will baptize with fire, meaning judgment. I think the context is very clear.

The Holy Spirit is poured out upon His people because the next verse says, “He gathers His wheat into His barn.” Then the next part of that verse says, “and the chaff will burn with unquenchable fire.” So today, if you know Jesus, then you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. If anyone has not the Spirit of God he does not belong to Christ because you’re still dead in your sins. To have come to Christ required the intervention of the Holy Spirit to bring you from a spiritual boneyard of death to life evermore. My dear friends, you and I were not sin-sick before we became Christians, we were sin-dead. We weren't in the intensive care unit, we were in the morgue. Every single one of you that know Christ, He uprooted the tomb of sin and brought you to the triumph of His resurrection and He did that by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out upon you and He is the down payment of your everlasting life and He is the one who empowers you. I am not asking you today if you’re a Christian, “Do you have the Holy Spirit?” I'm asking you, “Are you surrendered to Him or do you neglect Him?”

A lady came up to me one time after a sermon and she said, “Can I ask you a question?” I said, “Yes, ma’am.” She said, “Have you gotten the second blessing?” And I said, “Yes, ma’am.” And she said, “I thought so.” And I said, “Ma’am, can I tell you something?” She said, “What?” I said, “I've got the third one.” She said, “The what?” I said, “The third one.” She said, “I haven't heard about that one.” And I said, “I've got the fourth one.” She said, “No.” I said, “Absolutely.” Then I turned to Ephesians 1:3 — “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” “Ma’am, my problem is not that I don't have what I need; my problem is that I keep trying to act like I don't need Him.” Here's what the Bible says. “Without Him I can do nothing.” But I've got great news. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Who is the strengthening power of Christ? The Holy Spirit. So this church, and this church will not be surrendered to the Holy Spirit unless its members intentionally surrender.

I’ll just share with you what I do. I'm a very simple person. Before I get to my quiet time, before I get to anything else in the day, I just wake up in the bed and say, “Lord, first thing, I just want You to keep me amazed at grace today. Second thing, I want to thank You for saving me. Third thing is, I need Your help; I need Your power to do what's before me today.” Just surrender every day intentionally. Don't negotiate. Just surrender to the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

“Harry, how do you know if we're surrendered to the Holy Spirit?” Well here, I’ll just get a little controversial. It's not whether you speak in tongues, it's not whether you don't speak in tongues, it's not whether the evidence, the singular evidence of the Holy Spirit — now yes, the Holy Spirit gives the Fruit of the Spirit, yes the Holy Spirit gives gifts, yes the Holy Spirit gives all of that, but the singular evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in a Spirit-filled Christian and a Spirit-filled church is this — they are always talking about and exalting Jesus Christ. As J.I. Packer says, the Holy Spirit is the shy Spirit. He did not come to bring attention to Himself or even His gifts. He came to bring — now certainly we need to teach about the Holy Spirit, but when the Holy Spirit comes, when He's doing His work, that church and that Christian is making much about Jesus. What did Jesus say? He said, “When He comes you will receive power.” And what's the result of Him showing up? “You will be My witnesses.” When the Holy Spirit comes, then those in whom He dwells lift up and exalt Jesus. And if Christ is exalted He will draw all men to Himself.

DNA OF A MISSIONS CHURCH: CHRIST-CENTERED

Well that's DNA number two. DNA number two is — the Holy Spirit leads you to exalt Jesus Christ. Christ is exalted. So a, what is a world shaking missions church? It is one that is Spirit-filled and it is one that is Christ-centered. It is one that is Christ-centered. Christ is the center, the sum, the substance, and the circumference of everything we teach, everything we do, every doctrine that we have. Is it leadership? Sure it's leadership. What do you do? You shepherd! That's a leader! How do you shepherd? The way Christ did. He laid down His life for His sheep. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church. Wives, how do you submit to your husbands? As to the Lord. Christ is the center, the sum, the substance, the circumference of all that we do. And when He's lifted up it's amazing what happens in that church and from that church.

I was sent to plant a church in Charlotte, North Carolina. We had about thirty-eight folks and Ralph and Wendy were there for a while, but before they were there we had our thirty-eight folks and our modular unit and — I’ll tell you what a modular unit is. It's a double-wide trailer with the wheels covered up is what it is. We had our thirty-eight people that were there and this family comes in. And this lady with four children, we get to talking to her, we get to ministering to her, and praise the Lord she was a wonderful lady and one day she comes to me and she says, “Pastor, my husband has left me four times for another woman. He's come back three but this time I'm just wondering what I'm teaching these boys. I think it's time that he's got to have some accountability.” And obviously she had grounds for divorce. So I said, “Okay, we’ll we're going to walk with you through this but is it okay if I go after him?” And she said, “Well, yeah, but he's heard it.” Well long story short because I haven't got much time here, but let me at least put it this way — he said pretty — he became a Christian after their divorce. We started discipling him. One day he showed up and he said — and they’d let me use that name. He said, “Harry, is it okay if I, do you think it's okay if I start; do you think Marty would remarry me?” And I said, “I don't know. You forfeited that right. Why don't you start courting her?” So he did. Long story short again, they got married. Now Steve was way up there. You know that big level in the financial industry in Charlotte. And we're meeting now in a gymnasium with these that we called, “the widow makers.” I'm serious. I'd be preaching and people would just disappear; they would just disappear. I mean I thought at first they were getting slain in the Spirit but that wasn't it! They were just disappearing!

And so I said, “Would y’all like —“ Because I knew CEOs and COOs and CFOs and UFOs and they were all going to be there and I said — I was just trying to figure out whether we should rent a church or not. And they said, “We worship here; we’ll get married here.” So we had the wedding and Steve gave his testimony, Marty gave hers, and we got those four boys like stair-steps there. And after that I got a phone call and it was a guy by the name of Harvey. And Harvey said to me, “Harry, I work with Steve and he's been telling me about Jesus. And I've never seen a wedding like that.” He said, “Could I talk to you about that?” And I said, “Sure, meet me at the Chateau Restaurant.” So we met at the Chateau Restaurant, I asked him two questions, wrote down three things — our situation, God's solution, and your salvation. I explained it to him for about thirty-five, forty minutes. I said, “Harvey, do you understand?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Is there any reason why you shouldn't become a Christian, Harvey?” He said, “Absolutely not.” And so he prayed, took the napkin, stuck it in his Bible, and he said, “Praise the Lord! I'm a Christian now!” I said, “Well come to church, read this, and I’ll meet with you next week.”

What I didn't know is that he went home — I didn't realize it but he had a relationship with a woman we used to call “living without the benefit of clergy” and he said to her, he said, “I'm a Christian. You've got to move out.” She said, “What kind of cult are you in?” So she came that next Sunday. She told me — I can still see her. Red hair, red face, red everything, and she was really upset with all this stuff that was going on. She said, “I was sure you were going to bring out a box of snakes any minute!” And she was just all upset about everything so she had to come down there. And I sat there with her and I introduced her to a lady named Miriam. Miriam led her to Christ and Harvey and Beth started dating and I did their marriage. And again, Harvey works with Steve and all of these people are back with the “widow maker chairs” and then Harvey gives his testimony.

And then Bev and I get a phone call the next day and it's a guy by the name of Joe — I'm sorry it's a guy by the name of Dan. And Dan said to me, he said, “Harry, you know I work with Harvey and Steve and they've been telling me about Jesus and what he's done in their life and I've been to those weddings — I've never seen weddings like that before. Can I talk to you about that?” I said, “Sure, meet me at that Chateau Restaurant.” So we met at the Chateau Restaurant. So I pulled out a napkin, asked two questions, wrote down three things. “Do you understand? Is there any reason why you shouldn't become a Christian?” “No.” And so the next thing you know, praise the Lord, Dan's a believer. Now his wife had left him, I wish I could tell you she did come back, but a wonderful lady that actually taught on the same faculty that Wendy did, Ralph's wife there, she got married and, just a wonderful couple, and I got a phone call and it was a guy by the name of Joe. And Joe said, “Harry, I work with Steve and Dan and Harvey and they've been telling me about Jesus. And by the way, I've been to those weddings and I've never seen weddings like that before. Could I talk to you about that?” I said, “Sure, meet me at the Chateau Restaurant. You’d better bring a napkin; I think they’re out!” And then Joe became a Christian, went home, brought his wife to church, and Betty became a Christian.

Y’all get the picture? Just lift up Christ. “I will draw all men to myself.” I love my confession, I love my denomination, I love my church government. I love all of those things. And I believe Christ is in the middle of all of that but what we want to lift up is Christ. People need to hear Christ. That's why Nebuchadnezzar looks into a furnace and he's startled. The same man that said, “What god can deliver you out of my hands?” When he sees Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego come out, what does he say? “What kind of a God saves like this?” He had heard of gods that blew up furnaces. He had never heard of a God who would come down to a furnace to save His people. And that's the glorious work of Christ. Have you ever wondered why Jesus loved — do you remember when Nebuchadnezzar said, “Did we put three men? I see four, one like the Son of Man.” Jesus, that day, went to that fiery furnace to tell us about the day on the cross when He would go to our fiery furnace to save us from our sins. Just lift Him up. It's at the cross where the love of God meets the holiness of God and sinners are saved by the grace of God to the glory of God.

Joe, Joe became the president of the Men in the Church. His wife became president of the Women in the Church. Dan and Chris helped us plant our first church and helped us — they adopted four children from Russia and helped to bring in Bethany Adoption agency. Harvey became an elder in the church and he and Beth oversaw our Evangelism Explosion ministry. Steve is now, Steve has been Vice President for Reformed Theological Seminary. His wife, the headmaster at Covenant Day School. One son is the youngest tenured professor at Princeton. The other son just became president at Covenant College three months ago. Spirit-filled, Christ-centered saves the world.

DNA OF A MISSIONS CHURCH: GOSPEL DRIVEN

Finally this is it. Number three is this one. You’re going to be Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, and you’re going to be Gospel-driven; Gospel-saturated. So the DNA is Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, Gospel-driven. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God. The first time I knew the Gospel was powerful was when I was fifteen years old and I was in a church called the Christian Missionary Alliance. And our AYF, Alliance Youth Fellowship, was having a retreat that Saturday. And my dad said, “You’re going.” And I said, “Dad, I don't want to go.” He said, “You’re going.” Now I was in a home that children didn't choose church. I hear that all the time — “Well my children want to go here.” Oh my goodness. That just utterly — I've tried to think of a moment on a Sunday when I would wake up and Daddy would say, “What church do y’all want to go to today kids?” I'm trying to think of that moment. I just don't have a category for that one! And I tell people I got saved by the drug problem. My dad and mom drug me to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night. (laughter) At least I thought it was a drug problem.

So he said, “You’re going.” And I said, “Okay, I'm going.” I wasn't happy but I got there. I did not know. I thought retreat was fun and games and actually it was two students from Toccoa Falls Bible College who came and taught us how to share the Gospel. And then after lunch they took us out door to door to share the Gospel. People ask me, “Harry, does the Lord hear the prayers of unsaved people.” Yes sir, I can tell you that. First door as we're walking up to it, “Oh Jesus, I know I'm not a Christian but please don't let anybody be at home.” Nobody was home! The Lord hears the prayers of unsaved people! (laughter) But on the third house, the Lord said, “Nope, it's time for somebody to be home.” We got in there and the Toccoa Falls guys were halfway through and they said, “Okay, Ike,” Ike, that was my nickname, “Ike, you finish it.” Oh. Well I finished it and I just sort of said what I had memorized and I said, “Now you wouldn't want to be a Christian, would you?” They said, “I've been waiting for someone to tell me about this.” And he became a Christian. That day I realized, at least I became to sense, that the Gospel was the power not the deliverer.

The Gospel is powerful. I know the world makes fun of it, but it's so unique, it's so glorious, and the world makes fun of it. You know why the world makes fun of it? Because they hate it. Because it tells them you need a Savior. They don't want to be told that. It tells them they can't save themselves. We think this gift thing would be great. No, the reason it's a gift is that you can't save yourself. They don't want to hear that. And by the way, your religion, whatever it is, it can't save you. I don't care how sincerely you believe it. It's only Christ that saves. So they either respond angrily or they respond making fun of it.

If you’ll allow me just one more little illustration - this is the way I like to think of the Gospel because I get to talk about it every single day of my life and I get the privilege to do that. Thank you, church. I'm scared to death they’d find out I'd do this for free. It's just amazing. I love it. I love to see what the Gospel does in people's lives. So I get into these. I'm reminded of the time when I was sixteen years old, one year later, and my dad said to me, “Son, you’re sixteen.” I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “Happy birthday.” I said, “Thank you.” He said, “I got you a car.” Now folks, you could have knocked me over with a feather. My dad was in minor league baseball and there was a lot of month at the end of the money in our family, a lot of month at the end of the money. And then he said, “It's a ’57 Ford.” Now let me tell you something, if he couldn't get a ’57 Chevy or a ’57 Thunderbird in 1963, ’57 Ford was number three.

I ran out the back door, I looked and I saw that ’57 Ford and my face hit the ground. I turned to my daddy and I said, “Daddy, I can't drive this car to school.” And then my daddy said, and my daddy had a way of saying things that I'm convinced are in the Bible; they’re somewhere in there. I haven't found this one yet but he said, “Son, a poor ride is better than a proud walk. It's nine miles to East Mecklenburg High School. You can either walk it or drive this.” He said, “Why are you so upset?” I said, “Daddy, I can't drive it” — it was pink! The car was pink! I said, “Daddy, I can't drive a pink Ford. I mean, it's a ’57 but it's pink!” He said, “It's not pink; it's coral.” I said, “It's pink.” Now he said, “Son, I bought this at an auction for seventy-five dollars.” Then I realized how we got this car! I said, “Did they pay you or did you pay them?” Now he said, “Before you get too uppity, look under the hood.” So he lifted up the hood and he said, “I bought this at the South Carolina State Highway Patrol. It's a retired South Carolina State Highway Patrol interceptor.” Well interceptor kind of got my attention. And when he lifted up the hood I looked under and it was a 390 engine. And I said, “You know, Daddy, I kind of like this coral color.”

And I’ll finish with this. Now it's only my — first of all, the next thing I'm about to say, all teenagers, I was not converted yet. So I would pull up and Corvettes and Chevies and ’57 Chevies would all pull up and laugh. They’d laugh at my ’57 Ford; my pink Ford. And I'd just point. And they’d point back at me. And so now that I am a Christian it's only my humility that causes me to refrain from telling you how many of those Chevies and Corvettes sucked right up the exhaust pipe of my ’57 Ford. Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, Gospel-driven. Folks, there's nothing more powerful than the Gospel. It is unique; it is glorious. All we've got to do is lift the hood. Just lift the hood and watch what happens. It's life changing. And watch the earth shaking. How many of you know who Edward Kimbrell is? Well let me tell you who Edward Kimbrell is. He was a Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, Gospel-driven shoe salesman that taught a Sunday school class. And this teenage boy was working with him and he walked by him three times and finally he got the courage and he said, “Would you like to come to my Sunday school class?” And he said, “Sure.” So that little teenage boy went with him to Sunday school class, became converted, and his name was D.L. Moody. Don't you love Edward Kimbrell? He's a world shaker.

And by the way, Moody — how many people? How about F.B. Meyer? He mentored and changed the course of F.B. Meyer's life. And he went and God used him with Wilbur Chapman. Anybody ever heard of Youth For Christ? Wilbur Chapman, who, by the way, Billy Sunday — Wilbur Chapman developed and discipled Billy Sunday, who, by the way, developed and discipled Mordechai Hand, who came to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1943. Edward Kimbrell, D.L. Moody, D.L. Moody, F.B. Meyer, F.B. Meyer, Wilbur Chapman, Wilbur Chapman, Billy Sunday, Billy Sunday, Mordechai Hand — and he came there to Charlotte in 1943 and twenty-seven people went forward in that meeting. In fact, if I started naming those people, many of you that are old enough would know their names, most of them. But one of them, most of you will know; his name is Billy Graham.

Billy Frank Graham went forward that day in Charlotte in 1943. Then in 1948 he came back to Charlotte, North Carolina to preach his very first crusade. And he stood at Calvary Church and he preached and at the end of the service an eighteen year old man and his seventeen year old bride and their two month old baby came to the front to give their life to Christ. That was my daddy and mama. I was the baby. I thank the Lord for Edward Kimbrell. Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, Gospel-saturated.

Father, thank You for the moments to be together. Thank You for the privilege to be with this congregation, and Father, to explore what it means to have the very elements of vitality at work within us intentionally. Lord, while we rejoice in everything and anything and all things that have been done, we do not want to live in the past, we want to live in the present to change the future and shape the world for Jesus Christ. So while we love to strategize, we love to think, and we love the gifted people that are around us, help us to intentionally, prayerfully to be Spirit-filled surrendered to Him every day. And that there be evidence of that, that Chris is the center, the sum, the substance, and the circumference of all that we do and say. And that the Gospel power would drive our lives, our ministries, and our missions and our missionaries. And Father could we hear one more time — these people have turned the world upside-down and now they come here also. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Would you please stand for the benediction? I believe after that, I believe after that you close with singing.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord cause His face to shine upon you, may the Lord be gracious to you, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And God's people said, amen. Let's sing.

© First Presbyterian Church.

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