Not So Far-Fetched: Is Noah and the Flood True?

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We remember Noah and the Ark as a Bible story from Sunday School. The cute little ark in the shape of a bathtub and animals that barely fit on the boat. But as we look into God’s Word, the Bible reveals a much different picture. The epic journey of Noah and his family was not just a bedtime story, but a real event involving a real boat.

In 1961, The Genesis Flood was written. This book was a turning point in how Christians viewed the story of Noah, the Ark and the Flood. Henry Morris and John Whitcomb gave a scientific explanation for a worldwide flood and the Ark that survived that global disaster. Dr. Whitcomb still continues to lecture and teach on this subject. The Genesis Flood has been powerful in taking something that seems too hard to believe and making you say, “That’s not so far-fetched.”

Whitcomb and Morris showed the world that the Biblical Ark was large enough to hold all the land-dwelling, air-breathing animals. They also established that the dimensions of the Ark given in the Bible gave the Ark the needed proportions to make it a truly sea-worthy craft. The dimensions of the Ark are recorded in Genesis, in cubits.

“This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.”  Genesis 6:15

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From those three dimensions, you get a rectangular shape. God didn’t record in the text what the Ark looked like. That is left for us to figure out. We don’t know the exact shape. We just know it’s size. There are statements that the Bible plainly says, things that we stand by that we don’t change and other things that we need to be prepared to be flexible about man’s models that are built on the Bible.

The ark in the shape of a box gained popularity in 1976. There was a documentary called In Search of Noah’s Ark. This film presented the shape of the Ark as box-like and there were unsubstantiated eye-witness accounts of a structure on Mt. Ararat. It’s important to understand that there is no solid evidence to support the claim that Noah’s ark has been found and that it is box shaped. There are many who believe that the Ark still remains unfound.

“…Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29

The design was exactly what was needed for the destruction it survived. The ark delivered Noah, his wife, their sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth) and their wives. When they left the ark and entered a whole new world, imagine the exciting stories they passed down to their children and the generations that followed. The stories were told over many generations But sometimes the stories were distorted.


Flood Myths and Legends

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There are stories recorded all over the world of a great flood. They fall under the category of ancient myths and legends even though they are partial descriptions of the actual event. The bits of truth they do contain, match dramatically with the real story. The Australian Aborigines have Dream time Legends of a man who built a boat. He had three sons on the boat and there is a rainbow at the end of a global flood. The reason you see so many different legends in so many different cultures around the world is because they have a basis in truth. Noah’s ark happened before Genesis was written.

The Babylonians wrote about a great flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh. It was discovered on cuneiform tablets. Those tablets say that the ark was built in seven days by Utnapishtim. It was a cube, 180 cubits on each side. There is a contradiction when you claim that the Bible got its Noah story from these other legends, because these other legends have lots of mistakes in them. The Ark proportions in the Bible are very realistic. So realistic that the proportions happen to match modern cargo ships.

blog cargo.001You wouldn’t expect a made up story to accidentally choose 300 x 50 x 30 as the proportions of this imaginary vessel. Cargo ships have a typical proportion of 50 x 30, because it give the right stability. The Bible is specific on the ark’s dimensions, but it doesn’t go into detail about its shape. The only description in the Bible is the Hebrew word TevahSome say the definition of the Tevah is “box,” but that’s not necessarily true. Tevah only appears in the Bible twice. There is Noah’s Tevah and then there is the Tevah for Moses’s baby basket. In any language, the meaning of a word is understood the more it’s used in different contexts but when it’s only mentioned a couple of times like that, it’s difficult to know for sure.

We can be thankful for a God who gives us imagination to fill-in details for words we don’t understand. So Tevah doesn’t necessarily mean “box,” because Moses’s baby basket was a little basket. If it’s not a box, what should we picture? How would the ark even be built? What was the technology like before the flood? There are clues in the Bible.

First of all, the long lifespans of the people who built the ark give us a better understanding of the feasibility of taking on such an enormous projectIf a person lives for centuries, they are going to be very experienced and skilled in a lot of different areas. Also, they were very healthy. To live that long it implies that you were very healthy. With a healthy body, you are very capable and able to do a lot of work.

The Bible also makes it clear that the first people on this Earth were brilliantEven when technology was not like it is today, we see how Tubal-cain, long before the flood was a brilliant in creating tools to do difficult work.

“Tubal-cain, who is the father of every maker of cutting instruments of brass and iron”   Genesis 4:22

God gave Noah technology, tools and help to build this ark over 120 years.

Noah was perfectly capable of building a gigantic ark that wasn’t just any shape. The dimensions, 300 x 50 x 30 is a big clue. Those dimensions look like a ship with a long hull. That is not what you would expect. If you’re going to build something that floats on the water, you wouldn’t make it so long. It takes more work to build it long and it takes more wood. It is in more danger as it crosses over waves too. The fact that they built it at that size means the ark was built for comfort, strength and stability. A balance of those three things comes in a vessel that is 300 x 50 x 30.

The other thing that seems far-fetched, is the construction of the ark. How could such a large wooden boat hold together in rough seas? It bothers people when they wrap their mind around how large the ark was. One argument against the authenticity of the Bible is that you can’t build a wooden ship that big and in the same breath they usually pick ships from 100 years ago and say, “They had trouble building ships longer than 300 feet so it’s impossible for ancient people to build Noah’s ark.”

Ancient ships were constructed different than modern sailing vessels. The edge jointed planking design that is seen in ancient ships takes claims that it can’t be done and blows them out of the water. It’s not so far-fetched.

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That’s a lot of work and not a quick way to build a ship. In the 18th or 19th century, they did not bother with that extensive construction. That’s why ships would loosen up. The  phrase “a tight ship” comes from a newly built ship that had tight joints. Over time those joints became looser. The ancient Greeks had much higher quality of hull. They built the hull with planks that were mortice and Tenon The hull was strong enough to ram another ship, and light enough to be carried onto a beach by the crew. It doesn’t take more technology, it just took more labor.

The Bible teaches that the flood was a real historical event. Often when you open up a children’s book and see the ark, it looks like an overloaded bathtub with giraffes sticking their head out the chimney. It looks as if it could sink at any moment. It makes sense in a children’s room to paint Noah’s ark in a cartoon style, but there is a dark side. These children grow into adults and if all they can remember is this cartoon picture of the ark, we have whole generations who have grown up in the church looking at everything they’ve been taught in the Bible as a group of stories.

The Bible describes the flood account as the time God saved humanity so that you could be born.

“The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.”  Genesis 7:18

Was it really a global flood? Sadly, there are many Christian colleges that teach that it was only a local flood. We’ve seen lots of localized floods. What we haven’t seen again is a global flood. The rainbow isn’t a reminder that God will not send another localized flood, it’s a reminder of a promise that God will never flood the entire earth again.


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Wikipedia says this about the Grand Canyon: “Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago.”

That’s one hypothesis.

Is there another way the Grand Canyon could have formed? Is there an observable way the Grand Canyon could have formed?

Mount St. Helens erupted in the 1980s. It was a small volcano in Washington state. A tiny mountain, in a small location. Nothing compared to a global event and it had a huge destructive force that changed the landscape. The result of that eruption formed miles and miles of what they call a little grand canyon.

So what do you do when it comes to the flood not being so far-fetched? You can:

Read up: We don’t have all the information about Noah, the Ark and the flood in one blog post, so you need to read more so you’re educated. When you educate yourself, you can make better decisions and help your friends wrestle through difficult questions too.

Listen upListen to what teachers are saying or what your friends are talking about. The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to question things that we are being taught. Figure out if what you are being taught lines up with God’s Word.

Speak up: Be willing to share your opinion with other people. Ask questions that show the other side of the coin a little bit. If you’ve read up and you’ve been listening, you can  speak up with a little bit more confidence.

Be willing to speak up when God gives you those opportunities. 


Check Back

Check back on what you discussed last week. Does anyone have any more thoughts on God being real after reflecting further on that message? Were there any conversations with others about existence of God?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week we looked at why the biblical account of Noah and the Flood is not so far-fetched. This message can be heard at rockbrook.org or on the Rock Brook Church podcast.

The full account of Noah and the flood is found in Genesis chapters 6-9. Now would be a great time to pause and read those chapters together.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in the message or as you read the Genesis account?
  2. The account of Noah and the flood has been wildly misunderstood and misrepresented in our culture. Was there anything in the sermon, or in Genesis 6-9, that surprised you? (Maybe you’ve forgotten it said a specific thing… or never heard an accurate account of the flood before.)
  3. What’s been your experience with the topic of Noah and the flood? Have you ever had a conversation about it? Ever studied it in school? Ever watched anything about it? What did they say?
  4. The account of the flood ended with a promise to never flood the whole earth again. God’s promises are true. There are many of them. What promise are you relying on from God right now?
  5. Pastor Andrew challenged us to read up, listen up and speak up. “Be willing to speak up when God gives you those opportunities.” A great resource for more information about this topic is http://www.answersingenesis.org

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this practical message with about a major part of your faith? You could send them to rockbrook.org/sermons. More importantly, who do you need to encourage with these truths? How can you lovingly “speak up?”

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Not So Far-Fetched: Is God Real?

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On the historic Apollo 8 mission, astronauts, for the first time, were outside of earth’s orbit, circling the moon. They were looking back at the earth from space. During this mission, they were able to speak back to earth. Do you know what they said to the people on earth?

They opened a book that they packed. A book they made sure went on board with them, when they had to consider every ounce of weight, they intentionally packed a Bible and read the creation account from Genesis and prayed a prayer for the planet of people they were looking down on. (see Genesis 1)

Today, many years later, the reality of God and creation, seems like a far-fetched leap of faith. We’re constantly bombarded with different ideas and views claiming to have the answers to life’s big questions. It’s tough to find satisfying answers, and we end up asking ourselves, “Can we ever confidently know the truth? Does it all come down to a far-fetched leap of faith?”

That’s the idea for this next series of posts. We’re going to tackle six big questions over the next six weeks.

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It won’t come as a surprise to you that we believe the answer to each of these questions is YES! It’s not a hesitant yes or reluctant yes. It’s a bet the farm, give your life, burn the ships kind of yes. You can have a remarkable confidence and remarkable faith in the answer to those questions.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God…”  Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

We believe these things on faith, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also reasoned. We didn’t come to these conclusions by not thinking or just blindly making some kind of far-fetched leap of faith.

It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

Now just because you believe in Jesus, doesn’t mean every assumption or thing you believe about God is true, so lean in these next 6 weeks. Part of the human condition is that we want to base our beliefs around feelings.

Many people in our culture shape their beliefs around how they feel.

If you know someone with an addiction, they justify their behavior and create a belief system. They don’t feel like their behavior is hurting anyone and create a belief system that makes it okay to live the way they are living. This is an extreme example, but we all do this to some degree. We all justify the way we live or justify our life based on what feels good.

Instead, shape your beliefs around what’s real.

Follow where the evidence leads, not where you hope it leads.


Is God Real?

So what does the evidence say about the existence of God? There are a few different choices before us.

  • The atheist says, “No”

The atheist considers all concepts of god as human inventions. The definition of an atheist is one who believes God does not exist.

  • The agnostic says, “Maybe”

The agnostic says “I don’t know, so I’m going to investigate it” or “no one can know, so I’m going to decide not to believe anything.”

  • The advocate says, “Yes”

The advocate says, God exists. That doesn’t necessarily make them a Christian, it just makes them an advocate that God exists.

All three of these are a belief system.

To believe there is no God, is a belief system. Theism vs Atheism, it’s not like one believes and another doesn’t. Both walk away believing something. We believe God exists. We believe God is real, because the evidence says He does.

There’s a creator. There are times we all feel like God is not there. There are times when we struggle to connect with Him. There are times of disappointment because He didn’t answer a prayer the way we wanted Him to. It’s okay to wrestle with those things. 

In the midst of all of that, there are some things to come back to, that can’t be explained without God.


Why We Believe God is Real

Here are three reasons or evidences why we believe God is real.

1. The evidence from the universe.

This is called the cosmological argument for the existence of God. This argument says that every effect must have a cause. For a long time, the prevailing thought was that the universe always just was. Then a scientist by the name of Hubble came along, and went against that way of thinking.

Hubble came up with a theory that has grown into the big bang theory. It says the universe has a beginning and it’s expanding. So the universe had a beginning and as the energy that propels it in motion wanes, it will have an ending. Hubble’s discovery doesn’t contradict scripture, it aligns with it. Everything has a cause. Something never comes from nothing. Something always comes from something.

It’s not so far-fetched.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”  Romans 1:20 (NLT)

2. The evidence from design.

This is called the teleological argument. When we look at creation, it’s ordered and designed. What we know about our world, living organisms and humans DNA is incredible.

The leading scientist who mapped the human genome the first time, Francis Collins, says if you took the DNA out of a single cell amoeba, there’s enough information in the DNA code to fill 30 encyclopedias. That’s how complex living organisms are. That doesn’t just happen. It’s not so far-fetched to believe there is an intelligent designer who did that within us and designed a place for us to live in the universe, to sustain life.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV)

3. The evidence from morality.

This is the moral argument. The dignity of humanity. We refer to it as human rights. It’s the idea that every person, just by virtue of being a person, has inherent worth and value that can’t be trampled upon and shouldn’t be violated. Even if you don’t always live by it, every person believes humans have worth just by virtue of being human. How do you explain that?

There is no debate, regardless of what you believe, that each life has worth. The idea of worth and dignity came from the Bible. The civil rights movement was based on the “imago Dei” concept. That’s latin for the image of God. That’s the basis for human worth, because God made you!

“God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27 (NLT)

We don’t think robbery is wrong because we dislike it. We dislike robbery because it’s wrong. There’s something in us that is repulsed by certain things. Things like murder. The people who think murder is okay, we call wicked or sociopaths. They have a moral construct that’s not connecting with what human beings believe is right and wrong. This is what makes us different than animals and why evolutionary theory doesn’t have a good explanation for morality. If there’s such a thing as moral values there has to be a moral law giver. God stitched right and wrong into your heart and mind.

Evolutionary thinking says our moral constructs come from decisions we made when we were animals. But when a cheetah kills a giraffe, we don’t call that murder. When a shark forcibly copulates with with another shark, that’s not called rape. If our species is supposed to be the most advanced animal, where did we come up with the idea that those things are now wrong?

If all of our morality was developed through evolution, you would never come to the conclusion that the things you hate, like racism and genocide, are wrong. They are all just illusions if there’s no God. We’d never even get that category in our minds if our morality was a conclusion of nature. Genocide wouldn’t be a bad thing, it’s just nature. It’s the strong eliminating the weak. That’s the belief that fueled the holocaust. That’s the reason we’re repulsed by it. If your morality was a product of nature, there would be no reason to be repulsed.

“How could that trait have come down by a process of natural selection? Such people would have been less likely to survive and pass on their genes. There is some supernatural standard of normalcy apart from nature by which we can judge right and wrong.”    -Tim Keller

There’s something aside from nature that came in and said you don’t get to decide these things based only on nature. If mankind is only a biological creature, why do we have a sense of moral obligation? Theism gives us the answer. God gives us the answer. We have an inner, moral witness placed there by God. 

When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman.”  Romans 2:14-16 (MSG)

The Christian faith is not just about believing something, it’s about knowing Someone.

It’s about knowing God. The goal of this series is introduce you to someone. God wants to be found. God wants to be out in the open.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6

It’s believing something, but it’s more than that. It’s seeking and being rewarded by finding God himself.


Check Back

Check in on some of the next steps each other have taken. Maybe there are new people in the group. Get to know each other. Maybe you haven’t met in awhile. Get to know each other again. What’s life look like right now?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Those who believe there is a God, believe in Him by faith, (Hebrews 11:6) but it doesn’t have to be a far-fetched blind leap of faith. It’s reasoned. There’s evidence. The invitation laid out in this series is for each of us to follow where the evidence may lead, not where we hope it leads or how we feel it should go. Many people shape their beliefs around what they feel. It’s wise to shape your beliefs around what is real.

1. As a kid, were you quick to question things or did you generally believe whatever was presented to you? How has this tendency evolved for you as an adult?

2. What was the attitude toward God in your house growing up? Did you parents lean you toward faith or away from it?

3. How did you arrive at the place you’re at today spiritually? Are you an atheist, agnostic, advocate, Christian?

This week we looked at three of the many fields of study that present rational arguments and point to a place of reasonable faith.

Cosmology Argument:​ This is what we know about our universe. It had a beginning. We know we live in a cause and effect world. Something can’t come from nothing. (Romans 1:20, Job 38.)

Teleological Argument: ​There is a strange and mysterious complex design to the universe, our planet, and our human bodies. The complexity it takes for our planet to sustain life, the complexity of living organisms, and what we now know at the DNA level make the step toward a God, an intelligent designer, a relatively small leap of faith. (Psalm 19:1-4)

Moral Argument: ​This is the philosophical argument around humanity’s sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice. This argument also considers how nearly every culture and people group throughout history has felt there is a greater being above them or around them. (Genesis 1, Romans 2:14-16)

Application

1. Of these three arguments, which one jumps out the most?

2. While some people don’t find themselves wrestling with big questions of faith, what good might come from a Christian who embraces questions? How might an informed faith, enhance and enrich someone’s beliefs?

3. Tell us about a season of your life when you wrestled with the question “does God exist?” If you are in that season now, you can be honest about that.

4. If morality, cosmology and the design of the universe do not point toward a creator, what do you think they point toward?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this life-giving message about the existence of God? You could send them to rockbrook.org/sermons, our iTunes podcast channel or Google Play. More importantly, who could you have a conversation with about the existence of God?

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Taking Next Steps

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Salvation is not the goal of the Christian life. Salvation is the start of the Christian life. Once you become a believer, that’s when your journey of spiritual growth begins.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Coming to Christ is turning onto the right road and the next thing to do is to walk on it.

We are headed into a season of spiritual growth at Rock Brook with a new small group semester and new sermon series called Not So Far Fetched. As we head into this amazing season of spiritual growth you should be warned that you will face predictable resistance.


Predictable Resistance 

We have a Savior in Jesus Christ, but we also have an enemy in the Devil. Just as Christ wants you to grow during this season, the Devil wants to stunt your growth.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

Yes, we get eternal life when we die and go to heaven, but Jesus also offers us a full and abundant life right now.

At Rock Brook we’re not just concerned with getting you into heaven. We want you to live a new, full, productive life right here on earth. You don’t have to wait till you get to heaven to enjoy Christ.

The Devil is working overtime to keep you from experiencing that new, full life that Christ offers you. Once you’ve trusted Christ, the Devil can’t keep you out of heaven. If the Devil can’t keep you from trusting Christ, he will try to keep you from living for Christ.

“The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy…”  John 10:10 (NIV)

The thief will try to:

  • Steal your identity with shame

The Devil lures us into sin and then heaps shame on us when we succumb to it. The Devil tries to get you to focus on the shame of your past. If he can get you to find your identity in the sins of your past, then he can freeze you in that sinJesus Christ frees you from the sins of your past.

Our spiritual growth is rooted in our new identity in Christ, not our issues from the past.

  • Kill my potential with guilt

Too many of us live with the guilt about our past. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t done. The Devil is all about your past, Jesus is all about your potential. It is essential for our spiritual growth that we get our eyes off our past and focus on our potential in Christ. You won’t find the new, full, abundant life Christ offers you by looking in the rear view mirror. Address and confess those old sins, hurts, habits and hang-ups and let Jesus Christ forgive and forget them.

  • Destroy my hope with fear

We all struggle with fear at some level. There’s fear of the future, fear of failure, the fear of dying… So many people struggle with the fear of man. We can be driven by the desire to please other people. The Bible says the fear of man is a trap. It’s a fear that drives us to make bad choices. But God does not want us to live in fear; He wants us to live in hope.

God offers us the hope of heaven, but He also offers us hope for the here and now.

Don’t let shame, guilt and fear rob you of your opportunity to grow. Instead, take your next step of spiritual growth and replace shame, guilt and fear with:

your identity in Christ.

your potential in Christ.

your hope in Christ. 


Taking Next Steps

How do we take another step on our spiritual journey? 

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

These next steps are about taking off the old and putting on the new. Taking next steps isn’t just about you. Don’t do it to just start ticking off boxes and complete a to-do list. If that’s all you are doing, you are missing the point.

A couple of weeks ago we posted about how to have Gospel Conversations with the people in our lives. Take a look at that post and the chart that explains how sharing the gospel isn’t just about getting someone saved. Everyone is in a different spot in their spiritual journey. Salvation is only the beginning of the Christian life. A gospel conversation is anytime you encourage someone to take ONE STEP from where they are, to where God wants them to be.

Once you understand this roadmap to spiritual growth, not only can you apply it to your own life, you have a pathway to encourage other people to follow.

When you start doing that, you unlock the power, purpose and potential God has for you. That’s when you begin to live a new, full, abundant life that Christ offers. You might think your spiritual life is an individual journey, something private and personal, but that is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.

We are in this thing together. We are a family, a flock and a body. We are an army of God fighting this battle together.

Here are four areas you can start taking next steps in.

1. Declare God’s salvation 

Some people believe that your relationship with Jesus is personal and private. But the first act of obedience that Jesus calls a believer to do is a very public event, your baptism. When you ask Jesus Christ into your heart, that’s a personal decision. Then, Jesus commands you to go public with that decision. The Devil wants you to hide it or keep it to yourself. That’s not what Jesus says to do. Jesus says… “Let your light shine before men!”

Why do people face such a spiritual struggle over getting baptized? Because there is something very powerful about making a public declaration of our faith in Christ.

Peter says, “In baptism we show that we have been saved from death and doom by the resurrection of Christ; not because our bodies are washed clean by the water but because in being baptized we are turning to God and asking him to cleanse our hearts from sin.”  1 Peter 3:21 (LB) 

Jesus not only commanded us to do it in Matthew 28, He also modeled it in His own baptism. Maybe you have been a believer for years and haven’t been baptized. It’s time for you to take that next step. You don’t have to wait till you’ve stopped all your bad habits. You don’t have to wait till you’ve grown spiritually.

2. Cultivate God’s presence 

Cultivate is a farming term that means to stimulate growth. You have to break up the soil, fertilize it, water it, mulch it. You have to disturb the status quo of the soil if things are really going to grow. There are things in your life you need to weed out.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  James 4:8 (NIV)

Take a step toward God, cultivate His presence and God will show up.

Here are three ways to cultivate God’s presence in your life:

  • God’s Word
  • Worship
  • Prayer

[Take a few minutes to hear to a story of one man’s devotion to God’s Word, Worship and Prayer listen online. (start at 15:25)]

Those three things will cultivate God’s presence in your life no matter the struggle you face or the prison you are in.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”  Acts 2:28 (NIV)

Joy isn’t found in your circumstances. Joy is found in God’s presence despite your circumstances.

3. Connect with God’s people

“You are a member of God’s very own family… and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.”  Ephesians 2:19 (LB)

If you, as a believer, are going to grow spiritually, you need to be a member of a local church. There are 58 commands given in the Bible that you cannot obey if you aren’t a member of a local church. The way to become a member at Rock Brook is to take StepONE of Growth Track. It’s offered every first Sunday of the month. At StepONE we will lay out the 5 purposes that God has for your life and explain how being a member of Rock Brook will help you fulfill those purposes. We explain salvation and baptism. We will walk you through our Membership Covenant and put you on the pathway of spiritual growth for your life.

The world promotes independence and self-reliance. God promotes community and fellowship and belonging.

God knows that growth and health are found in relationships. That’s why He created the church, the body of Christ. That’s why He wants you to be a member of a church. That’s why you need to belong to a small group to grow.

Too many Christians are chasing information, they want more knowledge. But they don’t need more information, they need transformation. Transformation comes through relationships.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

4. Discover God’s purpose

“It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.”  Ephesians 1:11-12 (MSG) 

If you are going to grow to be all that God wants you to be you’ve got to pursue with passion the purpose that God has for you. That’s what our Growth Track process will help you do.


StepONE become a member 

This is to get you connected with Christ through salvation, declaring Christ through baptism and connecting with the Body of Christ through membership.

StepTWO essential habits 

Here you will learn how to develop the essential habits of the Christian life. Getting into God’s Word every day, worshipping God every day and praying to God every day.

A disciple needs to practice the disciplines that Christ lays out for His followers. A Christ follower needs to follow the pathway that leads to purpose and joy.

StepTHREE discover your design

This event helps you discover your design, your personality, your spiritual gifts and your passion for ministry.

God has shaped you for your place in the church. You were made for this, so you need to discover your design and purpose.

StepFOUR join a team

He we get you plugged into a Dream Team. Our Dream Team are the people who make ministry happen at Rock Brook. The Dream Team is the engine that drives this church.

Which step is the next step for you?

Which step can you encourage someone else to take?

Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!”  1 Peter 1:4-5 (MSG) 

The key to your spiritual growth is to take your Next Step and take it now.


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Have you made a commitment to be involved in a Small Group this semester? Who can you encourage to join the group with you?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: Ephesians 4:22-24

Application

1. Declare God’s salvation

Water Baptism

  • Have you been baptized by immersion as evidence of your faith in Jesus Christ? 
  • If not, what is holding you back from being baptized?
  • How can your group encourage you to take this next step?

2. Cultivate God’s presence

God’s Word   |   Worship   |   Prayer

  • Which of these three have you built into your life?
  • Which one do you need to work on?

3. Connect with God’s people

Join a local church   |   Commit to Small Groups

  • Have you taken Growth Track Step One?
  • Have you joined a Small Group?

4. Discover God’s Purpose

Attend the 4-step Growth Track   |   Join the Dream Team

  • Have you completed Growth Track?
  • What Dream Team are you serving on?

The key to my spiritual growth is to take my NEXT STEP and take it NOW.

Tell Someone Else

Have you had any Gospel Conversations with anyone in the last two weeks?  Have you written the person’s name on a ping pong ball and dropped it in the Go & Tell wall?

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One Group Away

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Do you ever feel like something’s missing? It might not just be something…it might be someone that’s missing. You could be one group away from changing the future of your family and changing your ability to make a difference in this world.


Every time you change jobs, enter into a friend group, join a sports team or sit with a new group at lunch, you are entering into a culture and a community with an identity, a language and a protocol that will affect your life.

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”  Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)

Everyone has a part of their story with hurt or pain in it. There are also people who have found freedom in the midst of those difficult situations. Almost all of those stories, in the bad parts and in the good parts, in the before and after, in the destruction and restoration, both the bondage and freedom result from the group of people around them.

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”  Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)

How do you become wise? Be around wise people. Wisdom here doesn’t mean book-smarts, because you can get good grades and still not be wise. Wisdom here means good judgement, humility and acknowledging God in all things. The way you get that is by who you are around.

Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future. 

You will become like those you spend the most time with. If you hang around those who are passionate, positive and faith-filled, you will become more passionate, positive and full of faith. If on the other hand, you hang around with people who are negative, sarcastic or critical, you’re going to stoop to that level.

Chances are you want to be rich in wisdom, not wisdom impoverished. When we think of poverty, we normally only think of one specific thing, but there are three different types of poverty.

  • Material poverty

Someone who is lacking money and possessions and the ability to provide the basic necessities is material impoverished.

  • Spiritual poverty

You can have material wealth but if you have no eternal hope, you are spiritually impoverished.

  • Relational poverty

It seems the more financial blessings people have, the more they are losing the blessings of relationships. If you’ve ever been to a third world country, you know about this. At first, you see their physical condition and you feel sorry for them. Then, you discover their hope and their values as family and friends and you start to feel jealous of them.

We’re losing the blessings of relationships and there’s a lot of reasons why. One of them is that in our society we celebrate and strive for independence and self reliance. We don’t want to depend on anyone to the point that we forget that to be self reliant is to be distinctly non-Christian. God did not create us to be independent or self-reliant, but instead, but to be dependent on Him and the people in His family. Jesus died for us and loves the church and we, together, are to serve one another, love one another and lift one another. 

In our culture we have so many external blessings and yet so many people, internally, are relationally impoverished. Here are three reasons why so many people are relationally impoverished today. 

1. Increased mobility

We don’t stay in one place very long anymore. The average American moves once every five years. If you’re between the ages of 20 and 40, you move, on average once every three years. It’s difficult to have long-term, committed relationships when we don’t stick around.

2. Modern Conveniences

Things like air conditioners and automatic garage door openers have massively changed the landscape of friendship. Before the air conditioner, people hung out in front of their houses because it was cooler outside and you would get to know your neighbors. Now, because of garage door openers, you can pull right into your house. You can live in the same neighborhood for years and never get to know the people next to you.

3. More and more media

Media can be a tremendous blessing, but at the same time, it’s not the same as face to face contact.

So many of us are going through life surrounded by people, yet, with no one we could call if we really needed to talk.

We start thinking something’s missing, something’s wrong or something is not as is it should be. It may not be something that’s missing, but it might be someone that’s missing. It may even be that it’s not someone that is missing, but it could be a group of someones is missing from your life.

You might be one group away from changing the course of your destiny. 

You might need to be in one group of strong, committed believers. People that you do life with in the highs and in the lows, those who lift you, pray for you, encourage you and always have your back. You might honestly be one group away from changing the future of your family, changing future generations and from changing your ability to make a difference in this world. You might be one group away from finding freedom. You might be one group away from kicking that addiction. You may be one group away from changing the course of your destiny.

The kinds of groups the Bible talks about don’t happen by accident. They are a group of devoted people making a commitment to grow in Christ and grow in relationships.

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—  all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”  Acts 2:42-47

You don’t just stumble into a group like this on accident. You create it and cultivate it in an intentional way. Here are three things we cultivate in our small groups at Rock Brook.

1. Small Groups are a place to connect with others.  

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”  Romans 15:5-7

You can’t have a Biblical community if every time you meet or get together you wonder if you are getting anything out of it. To really be fulfilled in godly community, to really be fulfilled in your friendships, to get anything out of it, you will have to think of what you can give, not what you can get.

Small group can be a place to find encouragement and renewal every week. However, it may not feel that way every time because we are all imperfect people meeting together. There are times when forgiveness is tough. Someone might do something and it might rub you the wrong way. You might get offended or maybe feel excluded. But pour out grace to these people and know they aren’t trying to offend you. Prepare yourself, there will be people who offend you this week, go ahead and forgive them right now. Don’t be surprised by it. Forgive them in advance. We are all broken. We all need forgiveness. We all need each other.

2. Small Groups are a place to grow together.

We all want to grow in our faith, that happens collectively. We’re better together.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Proverbs 27:17

Do you know how iron sharpens iron? Sparks fly, metal clanks together, it’s active. It’s worth it though. You are sharper today because of the wise people in your life. Growing isn’t easy. Wisdom isn’t easy, but it’s a lot better than harm. The cost of growing together in the context of healthy, godly relationships is great. The cost of not doing it, is greater. The cost of wisdom is great, the cost of harm is greater.

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

Light and salvation from God doesn’t only mean fellowship with God, it means fellowship with others. It doesn’t only mean peace with God, it’s means peace with others.

3. Small Groups are a place to protect each other.

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sister.”  1 John 3:16

When you give up your time for great relationships, you give your life. Your time is your life. There’s nothing more precious in life than time.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.”  1 Peter 5:8-9

Now, don’t miss the connection between Satan and the lion. We have a spiritual enemy who wants to devour us, to pick us off, to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to the heart of God. We live in a battleground. Our enemy comes to attack, and destroy everything that we know. We have each other’s backs and we’re at each other’s sides. We can fight and we can be in there with one another when the enemy comes, we do not roll over. 

You have to build that group before the lion comes.

You don’t know what’s coming in your life, but you don’t want to fight it alone.

You don’t want to fight cancer alone.

You don’t want to hurt financially alone.

You don’t want to parent alone.

No one knows how the lion has a hold of you today, but don’t hold to it in any longer. Sometimes we want to hold our sin in, and try to beat the devil alone in hopes to then talk about it from a conquered state. It doesn’t work that way. We fight our battles in community. When you have community, it is so rich and satisfying and so meaningful. 

At that point, the unbeliever starts looking on and sees how we love each other, how we take care of one another and how we care about each other.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – Jesus  (John 13:35)


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. How did the Go & Tell series affect your life? Are you having any gospel conversations? Is there someone with whom you can have a gospel conversation?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: Acts 2:42-47

Application

1. “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)  

Think over your life, your family, your friendships. How have you seen this truth demonstrated in your life? Have you ever done anything you regret because of the influence of people around you? Have you ever grown in wisdom because of the people around you?

2. Are you experiencing any relational poverty in your life? What would you say was the major cause of relational poverty in your life?

3. A small group of honest and godly friends in your life accomplishes a lot of things. Of the three mentioned in this message, which do you need in your life the most right now and why? What would you say a great community of friends look like?

4. In what way do you need help from your group to fight the lions that you’re facing?

Tell Someone Else

When it comes to relationships, you ultimately receive back what you put in. You get what you give. Who can you connect with? Who can you pray for? Who can you help grow? Who can you protect? Who can you listen to? Who around you could use your experiences, encouragement and love?

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Go & Tell: Praying Like It Matters

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

Just like someone told you the best news ever, someone prayed for you. Someone prayed that you would come to believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Someone prayed that you would come to trust that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Today’s post is about prayer. As a church we have committed to have intentional gospel conversations with people for the next 90 days. To do that, prayer will need to be a big part of those conversations. One of the purposes of the Go & Tell wall, we talked about in last week’s post, is a reminder to pray.

When you pray for the lost, you can follow this outline. Pray specific things for each lost person you know.

*Twitter G&T praying for the lost.001


If you are really honest, your prayer life could probably use a boost. Paul urged Timothy to pray for the lost. Here’s how he said it:

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”  1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)

God has built prayer into evangelism. Prayer is a big deal to God. So why do so many people struggle to have a great prayer life? Here are four possible reasons why people don’t pray more:

  1. They are not sure how to pray.
  2. They get bored or distracted while trying to pray.
  3. They think their requests are too small for God.
  4. They are not sure prayer matters.

What exactly is prayer? Let’s establish a working definition for today’s post.

Prayer is communicating with God.

Prayer is so simple. Can you even believe that we have full access to God? Scripture says we can come boldly before His throne of grace that we might find help in time of need. Prayer is just communicating with God. Our prayer life doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Break out of your prayer box so you can pray more creatively. More authentically.

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing…”  Psalm 5:1

David, in this verse, is asking God to consider his sighing. He says, “God, I want to talk to You. God, we’re so intimate I can sigh towards You and You can acknowledge what I am saying.

“Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”  Psalm 5:2-3

We all connect to God in different ways. Give yourself permission to recognize prayer is not just kneeling down by the bed with hands clasped. You might like to sing, so sing your prayers to God. Maybe you like to write, so write out your prayers to God. Type an email to God or learn to pray during routine tasks of the day. When you’re hurting, you may just go before God and just unleash your emotion toward God and cry with Him. Have the courage to break out of your pre-conceived ideas of what prayer has to be.  Prayer is communicating with God, here are four very simple ways to communicate and to talk with God.

1. Talk to God with gut-level honesty.

So many people talk to God in a way that they don’t talk to anybody else at all. Sometimes people almost put a show on for God in prayer. God wants us to talk Him with authenticity. It doesn’t have to be a show. In fact, there are times in scripture when people are so honest, it’s almost scary. There are so many examples of people giving God their honest feelings and you can be certain, God is secure enough to handle it. 

Moses, in the Old Testament, was rather upset with God. He was almost sarcastic in his prayer.

“Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”  Exodus 5:22-23

You can pray honestly before God and continue to be reverent. You will always want to be submissive to Him.

If you look at Jesus, there are only two things that He criticized about people’s prayers. The only time He is critical is when people’s prayers were too lengthy for show purposes and when they were inauthentic.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men…And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”  Matthew 6:5,7

Your prayer doesn’t have to be unnecessarily long, and it doesn’t have to be perfect and fancy before God.

A guy was recently buying paint at a paint store and he was asking how primer should be applied, roll or brush all these questions and the guy working at the store said, it doesn’t have to be pretty, in just has to be on there.

Prayer is the primer of the Christian life. It creates adhesion and cohesion and it doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s just gotta be on there.

2. Talk to God about everything that matters to you.

What matters to you?  Take it to God in prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

In everything, we talk to God. 

Whatever is important to you, talk to God about it. If it’s important to you, it’s important to Him.

Here are some of the different prayers people prayed throughout scripture. Every prayer is unique in what mattered to different people.

  • Zacharias prayed for a son
  • Solomon asked God for wisdom
  • Moses and Samson both asked God for water in a time when there wasn’t water
  • Daniel had a weird dream and he didn’t know what it meant, so he asked God to help him know what it meant
  • Gideon asked God to give him a sign
  • Abraham had a servant, who prayed that God would give him favor to find a wife for Isaac
  • David prayed for forgiveness after sinning with Bathsheba
  • Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain and then he prayed three and a half years later for it to rain again
  • Paul prayed about something that bothered him, this thorn, something in his side, and he pleaded with God to take it away
  • The disciples prayed for boldness
  • Jesus prayed that His disciples would be unified

When you look through scripture, what you are going to see is all these different things that matter to God’s kids. They took their requests before God and it mattered to God, because it mattered to his children.

Don’t go to anyone else until you’ve gone to God. Pray about everything. What matters to you? Pray about it. Do you have headaches that plague you? Talk to God about it. Do your feet hurt at work, talk to God about it. Are you about to start homework and you’re unsure how to do it, talk to God about it. Do you need a friend? Talk to God about it. Is your child struggling in school? Talk to God about it. Is your boss driving you crazy at work? Talk to God about it. Do you have tension in your family, are you worried? Talk to God about it. Whatever matters to you, matters to God, so pray like it matters.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

Cast it. In order to cast something on God you may have to say it out loud. You probably haven’t given it to God unless you articulate it and say it out loud.

3. Talk to God continually.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

You may not be good at sitting in prayer for an hour, but you can have a continual awareness of the presence of God. Train your mind to pray first. We give out bracelets that say “Pray First” to remind us that we are always about to do something…we can pray before everything. Before you walk into a meeting, before you click send, before you walk into the office or walk into the house…Pray First.

It’s an ongoing, consistent conversation with God. It doesn’t have to be just in the morning or just over the meal, but it’s an awareness of the presence of God. It’s an ongoing conversation. When it comes to prayer, we’re going to PUSH through.

Pray    Until    Something    Happens

Like the widow in Luke 18, who comes back before the unrighteous judge, who finally gives in because she’s so persistent. And Jesus said, “Don’t you think God will be like that?” When you pray, God might choose to change your circumstance or He might change you.

4. Talk to God and listen for His response.

Imagine how flat an one-sided only relationship would be. If the only things you ever said to someone else was what you needed them to do for you. Why would God be any different?

God not only wants to hear us, but He wants us to hear Him.

How is He going to speak? In all sorts of different ways. In a loud booming voice? He may speak that way, but He often doesn’t. When God spoke to Elijah one time, scripture says very clearly that there was a wind that tore through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God was not in the winds. Then there was a huge earthquake, and most people would say God was in it, but God was not in the earthquake. Then there was a blazing fire, but God was not in the fire. God did reveal Himself, though.

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”  1 Kings 19:12-13

God can speak to you through His word, in worship or in prayer. You will probably find God working in you and speaking back to you through His word and godly people around you. That’s why we have small groups at Rock Brook. Your small group can pray for the people in your life who need the Lord. They can speak into your life. The word and God’s people, they have to align, but through those two things you can hear God’s voice.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Have you used any of the strategies? Have you had any gospel conversations? How did those go?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Psalm 5:1-3, Exodus 5:22-23, Matthew 6:5-7

Application

  • Of the reasons people don’t pray more, which one do you relate to most?
  • Describe a time how God answered an important prayer in your life. How did the way God answered your prayer affect your relationship with Him?
  • How honest are you with God when you pray? What are some reasons that keep us from being totally honest with God?
  • Describe how you communicate with God. What ways are most effective and meaningful to you?
  • What types of things do you typically pray about?
  • What keeps most people from praying on a regular basis? What are some specific ways we can overcome those challenges?
  • What is the biggest issue or need in your life currently? Spend some time praying for those needs as a group.

Tell Someone Else

To share our faith with others, we must rely on God’s word. Read through the Bible verses in the outline. What Bible verse can you look to for strength as pray for the lost?

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Go & Tell: Dynamic Gospel Conversations

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

How do I share the best news ever? We’ve posted about the best news ever, why we share it, some wisdom in how to share it, but what do we say in a conversation?

“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  Colossians 4:5 (MSG)

We put too much pressure on ourselves when we go to share our faith. We forget what our responsibility is and that God is in control.

“A successful witness is sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and then leaving the results to God.”  Bill Bright

Our responsibility is to go and tell. 

Their responsibility is to respond.

God’s responsibility is to save.

We don’t do high-pressured salvation moments in our weekend services. We make the gospel clear. We say there’s one truth, one way to be saved, one way to God the Father, that’s Jesus Christ. We don’t try and manipulate or talk people into believing it. We do that because if we can talk you into believing in Jesus, someone else can talk you out of it. God is the only one who can open blinded eyes. God is the only one who can free a soul from the bondage of sin and transform someone’s life.


 

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Take a look at the timeline above. In the center is a cross that represents salvation, when someone believes in Jesus for eternal life. That’s not where we start, however, we start on the left side, far from God. There’s also space to the right, because salvation isn’t the end of the line, it’s the beginning of the line. The goal after salvation is to become like Christ and fulfill his purposes for your life and the church.

These three things don’t happen overnight. We don’t grow automatically, we grow in steps. So there are positive and negative numbers to illustrate that people are in different places. We all want the salvation conversation. The one where we pray with someone and they walk across the line. We should want that. It should be a goal. But maybe you’ve been gauging your success on the wrong thing or maybe you’ve even given up, because you’ve forgotten there’s a lot more to it.

People will need to be challenged and encouraged several times before they cross that salvation line. Our responsibility is to just have the conversation. You don’t have to move someone all ten steps. You don’t have to move someone all five steps from far from God to salvation. But maybe because of you, someone will move one step closer to the cross.

A gospel conversation is anytime you encourage someone to take ONE STEP from where they are, to where God wants them to be.

How do we have the conversation? What do we say? Here are three primary ways you can have a gospel conversation and share your faith. These can work in your everyday relationships.


Three Ways to Share Your Faith

1. Share the hope we have.

People are dying for hope. Share your hope.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16

Share your story with someone. Here are three elements in telling your story.

  • Tell how you realized you needed Christ

You needed someone who was strong enough to save. No matter what the situation or how old you were, you have a story to tell.

  • Tell how you committed your life to Christ

Before you point out what people should do, show them what you did. Tell them how you’ve committed to building your life on God. Share your life with them in such a way that they want what you have.

  • Tell the difference it has made in your life

This is the hope part. Share the difference and the hope you have. One of the best ways you can do this is to do it such a way to where they are hungry for what you have.

2. Share my church.

We have designed parts of our church for people who are far from God. We work very hard to provide ways for your kids, students and for you that move you to your next step. We create weekend services that believers would enjoy and unbelievers would want to come and see. A place where lost people could come, we want to make people feel welcome, serve them and add value to their life by answering their questions on how to live.

“Go out into the country…and urge anyone you find to come in, so that My house will be full.”  Luke 14:23 (LB)

God says, He wants churches full because the need is so big. How can you share your church?

  • Pray for them

Pray for the lost people in your life. In our small groups, we write down the names of the lost people in our lives and then, as a group, call out those names before God. The Lord is going to have to stir their heart before they will make a step toward God.

  • Show them I care

Before you invite them, show them you care. People don’t care what you know, they want to know that you care. So don’t even share your faith with someone until you’ve  added value to their life. People want to know if you really care about them. When you gain people’s trust, you gain their hearts.

  • Invite them to join me at a service.

When you invite someone, don’t just say, “Hey we’ve got five services, good luck!” Ask them, “Which service do you want to go to? I’ll go to the one you like.” Sit with them. You can pick up an invite card at the info table in the lobby and give to someone.

3. Share Christ.

We’ve made sharing the gospel too hard. If you know John 3:16, then you can share the gospel with someone.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NIV)

That’s the answer to have eternal life. Every person is on a spiritual journey trying to connect with God. Tell them, God loves you, and the reason your life is so messed up right now is because…

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10 (NIV)

Now just because you become a Christian doesn’t mean you stop having problems. It doesn’t make life easier. It does mean fulfillment. It does mean strength. It’ll bring a fulfillment that you cannot explain. If they say no, they don’t want that kind of relationship with God, say, “Well if you ever think you do, if you ever change your mind…God’s love does not change and the invitation is always there.”


Three Simple Ways to Explain the Gospel

Here are 3 common misunderstandings that people have and ways we can clarify the gospel for them.

1. DO vs DONE

So many people make their spiritual life all about DODo this. Join that. Get on this path.  It’s only about what He has DONE. He lived a perfect life we could never live, He died in our place on the cross because of our sin, He rose from the dead and gave us eternal life. It’s no longer about what I do to be acceptable to God. it’s about what Jesus did to make me acceptable to God.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

2. Good/Bad  –  Dead/Alive

Some people think being a good person is enough or they are too bad to be accepted by God. Sin isn’t about being a good or bad person. It’s about being dead and Jesus making us alive.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23 (NIV)

3. System – Savior

Some people will tell you a list of things they have completed from church attendance, Christian school to Bible classes…that all sounds like a system. Jesus isn’t a system, He’s a Savior.

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”  Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)


Three Things to Remember

1. Rely on the Holy Spirit.

You might have a conversation with someone on a lunch break. The Holy Spirit was talking to them before that lunch, empowering you during the conversation, and will continue to talk to them long after you walk away. You played a role in the story God is crafting in their life. You don’t know what’s happening under the surface.

2. Reverse the question.

Almost every time you share your faith the other person will ask you a strange question. They go down a completely different path and ask a question about religion or things they’ve heard from the news.

The best thing you can do in that moment is to reverse the question and ask them how they explain whatever they just asked you about. You can even ask them, “Is getting that question answered really the thing that is keeping you from deciding who Jesus is?” Once you reverse the question, the conversation settles down into the realization that you weren’t trying to make them do something, you were just telling them some good news. All they need to know is that you met Jesus and something changed in your life, and now you have hope.

3. Remember your brokenness.

Brokenness is the biggest open door in sharing the good news. When life is great we give thanks to God, but it’s in the low points that we have a great opportunity to give an answer for the hope we have. When you share your story how out of grief or brokenness, God has given you hope, you will will rarely lack a listener. This is the message of hope that people are dying to know.


Today, we handed everyone a ping pong ball as they walked into church. Each ping pong ball represents someone we’re going to have a gospel conversation with. We want a fun way to track how many gospel conversations our church will have in the next 90 days.

As you have a gospel conversation, share your story, invite someone to church, explain the gospel or tell someone you’re a Jesus follower, write the name of the person you talk to on the ball and drop it in the wall display in our lobby.

Set a goal for yourself. How many gospel conversations can you have in the next 90 days? We believe everyone can have at least one conversation. Even if you’ve never shared your faith before, one conversation is a great goal. Watching other’s drop a ping pong ball in the wall will spur all of us on. We’ll rely on the Holy Spirit together.


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Have you begun being intentional with any of the seven ways from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  Colossians 4:5 (MSG)

Application

  • Talk about times you’ve shared your faith with others. How did those go?
  • Of the three ways to share your faith, which one do you gravitate toward? Sharing your story? Inviting to church? Sharing Christ and explaining the gospel?
  • Talk about the sequence of events leading up to the moment you believed in Jesus as your Savior. Who introduced you to God? What kind of false perceptions did you have of God that changed when you encountered His presence?
  • Have each person in the group give their two-minute testimony to the group. As everyone shares their testimony, be sure to point out God’s role in each story.
  • What do you remember from the message? What stood out to you?
  • What do you find difficult when you are having a conversation about Christ with someone far from God? Based on what you’ve learned, how can you overcome those difficulties?

Tell Someone Else

This is week four of this series. You now know what, why and how. Now, WHO do you need to tell? How would you tailor the sharing of your story where the people involved might have different levels of belief? Write a name down and ask the group to pray for you and that person. To share our faith with others, we must rely on God’s word. Read through the Bible verses in the outline. What Bible verse can you look to for strength as you share your faith with others?

 

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Go & Tell: Intentional Evangelism

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Think back to how you heard the best news ever.
The news that God loves you…
That He gave His Son, Jesus…
That He made a way for you to believe and be saved. 
You may have heard it from a parent or a teacher. You may have read it in a book or heard it on the radio. You may have heard it from someone standing on the stage or from a friend sitting next to you. But someone told you, and it was the Best News Ever.
Who are you going to tell?

Today’s post is from 1 Corinthians on how to be intentional in sharing your faith, written by the greatest evangelist, Paul. Much of what we know about God today comes from his willingness to share his faith. This passage is his blueprint for evangelism.

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!”  1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (MSG)

Paul tells us that we must be intentional in sharing our faith. Everything worthwhile is uphill. It takes intentionality in the following areas to share your faith well. Here are 7 intentional steps we can take from this passage of scripture.


Intentional Evangelism

1. Intentionally add value to lost people.

“…I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all…”  1 Corinthians 9:19 (MSG)

He says, I’m not a servant, but I’m going to voluntarily become a servant and that’s how I’m going to add value to people. You’ve got to earn people’s respect. You do that by adding value to their life. Don’t share your faith until you’ve added value to someone’s life, until you’ve served them in some way. Add value to someone who doesn’t know you or can’t give you anything in return. No strings attached. You have to earn their respect before they’ll give you a relationship.

“We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”  1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NLT)

2. Intentionally include everyone.

“…in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever.”  1 Corinthians 9:20 (MSG)

For God so loved…the world. That’s everyone! He gave his one and only son that… whoever. God loves you, God loves people you don’t know and God loves people you don’t like.

If you go through the gospels the one thing you’ll see is that Jesus values people. You are most like Jesus when you love and value everyone.

Let there be a greater desire to connect with lost people than you do to correct them.

God doesn’t change us to accept us. He accepts to change us. Think of the lost people around you. The biggest deal to God is not that they missed church last week or that they’re living with a girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s not that they get drunk or that they’re in a same sex relationship. It’s not that they’re stealing or gossiping or have uncontrolled lust or anger raging in their life. God is concerned about those things in anyone’s life, but his primary concern is that they’re infected with a venomous snake bite and they’re not gonna make it. His primary concern is that they’re lost, they’re dead.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Colossians 3:13 (NLT)

Make allowance for faults and forgive, just as Christ forgave you. If you have a school friend, coworker, neighbor, whoever, and you struggle to like them or have anything in common with them:

Find the 1% you agree on and give it 100% of the effort.

We disagree on a lot but we can find one thing. Keep looking for it and when you find it connect on that one thing. You don’t have to be like them to reach them, but you have to like them. We’ve got to intentionally include everyone, not just those who are easy to be around or those that we think are worth our time.

3. Intentionally know who I am in Christ.

“…I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ…”  1 Corinthians 9:21 (MSG)

Paul is saying he’s solid, he knows who he is. He’s not compromising, he’s not giving that away, he’s not a silent Christian and hanging around lost people isn’t going to tank his faith. You truly find out who you are when you hang out with lost people. It’s easy to love Jesus at church.

Never forget who you are. You’re their friend AND you’re a Christ follower. You’re saved, redeemed by the blood of Jesus. You have the hope of heaven in your heart. Be so confident in who you are so you can go to where they are. Some of you work or live in dark places. It’s amazing how you share your faith and stay so solid. Some of you can’t even be around a lost person without going back into bad habits and just living as lost as they are. It’s because you’ve just stopped at knowing God.

Everything about Rock Brook Church is built on taking people on a journey so they can be solid enough in Christ to then help others. We want to help people to find freedom from the past and the junk in their heart. You can know God and believe in him but still have habits and junk in your life. That’s what small groups and Celebrate Recovery are about; getting people connected to a group of godly friends so they can be real and find freedom from the hurts and the habits and the hangups. Then you have a purpose to live for. When you live with a purpose, you can make a difference. Then you’re solid enough to go back out into the community, back out and say, I know who I am in Christ.

“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…”  Matthew 5:13, 14

Salt makes things better light makes things brighter. When you become salt and light you become a dealer in hope. Every person has a homing device in them looking for hope that wants them to know God. When you meet a lost person, that person was looking for you – they need your hope!

4. Intentionally enter their world.

“…but I entered their world…”  1 Corinthians 9:22 (MSG)

“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”  Matthew 9:35-36 (KJV)

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When you enter their world you will be filled with compassion. The closer you are with them, the more you love them. Jesus came to us. He said, “I’ll enter their world. I’ll put on the robe of humanity. I’ll live where they live. I’ll feel what they feel and experience what they experience.” Don’t lose your passion and compassion for lost people. Someone entered your world. Someone told you. Someone accepted you. Someone loved you.

5. Intentionally experience things from their point of view.

“…and tried to experience things from their point of view…”  

If you can get them to love you you have a chance to get them to love God. If they don’t love you, it’s going to be harder for them to love God. How can you share your faith without first being a friend? How can you be a friend with someone and never share the most important and powerful thing in your life?

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”  Proverbs 11:30 (NKJV)

6. Intentionally be creative to move people toward God.

“…I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life…” 1 Corinthians 9:22 (MSG)

Be creative. Do anything to help people know God. Everyone wants to know God. Be creative to move them toward God. 

Plant seeds of curiosity.

Don’t make lost people mad, make them hungry. You’re the salt and the light. You’re the one that makes the earth palatable, you’re the one that lights up the darkness, you’re the one with the hope. When people are talking about the problems of the world and the darkness, and how scary it is, and how dysfunctional it is, don’t join in, say, “I wish you had my peace right now.” or “I wish you had my perspective right now.”

There is a business guy who goes around teaching and he starts his talk by saying, “There are four essential ways to value people, I’m going to give you three of them.” He just gives them three, and inevitably people stop him at the elevator or standing in line afterward to hear the fourth thing…which is about God. Make people curious. Make people hungry. Get creative.

“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  Colossians 4:5 (MSG)

7. Intentionally experience God at work.

“…I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” 1 Corinthians 9:23 (MSG)

The moment you get your heart on what God’s heart is on. The moment you have a heart that is broken for lost people. There is an anointing for you, a covering for you and a power that will radically change your life.

In a conversation with a lost person, there are three people. There’s you, there’s them, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is doing something in you that you cannot see and the Holy Spirit is doing something in them that you cannot see. He is doing something in their life that we cannot do, He is drawing them to Jesus.

“The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few.”  Luke 10:2 (AMP)

The harvest is abundant. There are thousands in our community who would take their next step toward Jesus today, if someone just told them. Don’t just talk about it get in on it.

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his great name; make known among the nations what He has done.”  Psalm 105:1 (NIV)

Share the good news, not only the gospel of God but your own life. You were in darkness and hopeless when you cried out to God and He saved you. You were headed for hell. God doesn’t send people to hell, he saves people from hell. God is so amazing that he sent his Son Jesus to die on a cross. God does everything he can to save people from hell and gives everything he can to save people. You have to step over Jesus to go to hell, That’s our God. That’s what he has done. That’s the God I serve. That’s why we Go & Tell.


Check Back

Check back and review what we talked about last week. Anything from Pastor Kelly’s message on why we share our faith staying with you? Anything new reflections about the fishing illustration?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (MSG)

Intentional Evangelism:

  1. Intentionally add value to lost people.
  2. Intentionally include everyone.
  3. Intentionally know who I am in Christ.
  4. Intentionally enter their world.
  5. Intentionally experience things from their point of view.
  6. Intentionally be creative to move people toward God.
  7. Intentionally experience God at work.

Application

  • Did you take any extra notes or have something you’ve been thinking about since you heard the message?
  • Of the seven steps to intentional evangelism, which one do you need to work on the most?
  • Share some ideas on how to creatively share the gospel.

Tell Someone Else

Who in your life do you need to be more loving towards? Who are you excluding? Ask the group to pray for you and help you as you forgive them and reach them.

 

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