We’re looking at the book of Revelation which is God sending us a gift about how it all ends so we can make our life conform to what we know the future is. We have a unique insight. When politicians or financial sector people make stock trades because they know about stuff before the public knows about it, we call it insider trading and it’s illegal, but God says this is legal. I’m going to tell you how everything’s going to end, so you can adjust your life to get ready for it. Isn’t that neat? This is really special knowledge.
Why does God give humans a taste of Hell? What is the taste of Hell? In the broadest sense, it’s the Tribulation. The Tribulation is like a slow motion river going into Hell. With God, the salmon are going upstream and the fishermen are grabbing them as they’re going upstream. God, out of the river going toward Hell, is grabbing people. He’s saving them through what we’ve seen; the 144,000, the two witnesses, the Gospel Angel.
The Tribulation that I’ve shown you so many times comes to a crescendo. That’s what we’re going to do today. It’s God’s final wrath. Revelation 15 and 16 surround the seven bowls and the seven bulls. These aren’t like cereal bowls. These we would call kind of shallow bowls, like in fancy meals where they have multiple courses. They have these shallow soup bowls that are wider, but they’re not very deep. That’s what they used in the temple for all these drink offerings. They didn’t want to be pouring out gallons, they were just doing a little bit. These bowls are shallow dishes that quickly can be dumped. That’s the word that’s used. The reason for using that maybe is that they come so fast.
Here’s number one. This is in my journal, the first thing I wrote as I read Revelation 15. How many of you have started reading the book of Revelation? Raise your hand. How many of you aren’t interested in Revelation and haven’t started yet? Don’t raise your hand. I wouldn’t do that to you. Oh, I saw that. I didn’t look at your names yet. I’ll look at them in the second hour, but I can’t wait to see what clever things you guys have thought of as you register, but in my journal I’ve already read this, and I wrote rapid fire wrath. This is one of the saddest points in scripture. At the end of Revelation 15, Christ has run out of patience. You talk about someone that has a lot of patience. Jesus has perfect patience.
Can you imagine growing up with Him? Psalm 69 is a description of what it was like to grow up with Jesus. It talks about how His brothers didn’t like Him and other people around Him. It’s a prophetic psalm looking forward to the advent of the Messiah. Can you imagine growing up with Jesus? He never got impatient. He never got angry. He was never selfish. He didn’t disobey His parents, even though they thought He did when He stayed behind at the temple. He looked at them and said, how could I be disobeying you because you’re supposed to be leading Me to seek God and I was seeking God. Jesus has perfect patience.
By the way, Psalm 69 says that nobody liked Him growing up. Isn’t that interesting? Jesus understands what it’s like to be ostracized at school to be the one that’s not the cool, popular person. He wasn’t because He was perfect, and nobody likes to be around anybody perfect. How would you like to grow up with a perfect sibling? Wow.
His patience ends and His wrath is coming. There’s something new in verse 8. There’s always been a glory cloud but rarely smoke. You understand what I mean when we’re talking about the things that have God. Smoke showed up on Mount Sinai because the law spoke of judgment. Remember it was rumbling up there with God on the mountain with Moses, but never in the earthly tabernacle or temple except here. All of a sudden, what we see is the heavenly temple that’s portraying the earthly place of God starts having smoke coming out of it. What’s that? It’s the fiery wrath of God. God’s mercy has ended. The smoke probably indicates that the way to God’s presence is now closed.
See God had done the Church, chapters 1, 2, and 3, then the Church goes to Heaven, 4 and 5, and then the Tribulation starts and the 144,000, in chapter 7, launched their ministry through all that horrible stuff going on. Then God sends the second team, the two witnesses, and then God sends the final team, the Gospel Angel. The Gospel Angel goes everywhere and talks to everyone. God is not willing that any should perish, even in the Tribulation. He’s reaching down and trying to get as many as possible, but in chapter 15, boom.
I wrote this: the way of forgiveness, guidance, cleansing, and blessing is over, and no one can enter after that. It’s very interesting to think about it being too late. Someday, it will be too late just like it was in the days of Noah when God shut the ark door. Have you read Genesis lately? Genesis 6, 7, and 8, the flood? After a hundred years of building the ark. After all the time it took for animals to start collecting all over the Earth and pairing up. It must’ve been amazing to live back then. To look up and you see this river of animals orderly walking to the ark, paired up. They didn’t just walk there, they went in. It’s amazing. After that whole event, God shuts the door.
By the way, there was no handle on the door. It’s very interesting. God shut it and God opened it. If I was teaching Genesis I’d talk to you about how that’s a beautiful picture of salvation. Everybody inside was saved. Everybody outside wasn’t saved. The ones inside were shut in by the Lord, they couldn’t get out. That means eternal security. Do you know what it says? That God called to Noah and said, come into the ark. God was already in the ark. Salvation is going to where God is. He shut the door and nobody else got in. It was too late. The door shutting is what we’re sadly seeing right here.
The Lord saw with Noah that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and it grieved His heart, so the Lord said, I’m going to destroy man, whom I’ve created, both man and beast and creeping things and birds. I’m sorry I made them, Genesis 6:5-7. The smoke in Revelation, 15:8 portrays the final outpouring of God’s tribulation wrath. He said that’s it. It’s really sad.
Also, if you go to Revelation 15, let me get there with you. Look at verse 3. This is the last song. Remember a few days ago I showed you a chart of all the songs and all the prayers, the worship offered in Revelation, 14 of them. This is the last one of the songs. Remember the angels don’t sing until after this is finished, but the saints are singing. Wow. “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!” Verse 3. “Just and true are Your ways. O King of the saints!” Wow. This is the final song of the scriptures. It’s amazing. Then in verse 5, Jesus Christ is victorious.
What I love about this is, and as you’re getting to read it, “After these things I looked.” Remember John is witnessing all this and he’s recording it. It’s like one of those reporters that are standing at whatever event, whether it’s a storm or tornado or hurricane or whatever he’s reporting. They’re telling the eyewitness account. He’s saying, “I looked, and behold,” verse 5, “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in Heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen.”
By the way, whenever you see someone in Heaven, what do they look like? Very modest. You should think about that. When God is directly in charge of the dress code there’s no question. God invented clothing. Clothing is not for show, it’s for modesty. It’s a choice all of us make as believers; whether we want our clothing to reflect God or for our clothing to reflect the God of this world. Every day when you get dressed, you’re reflecting either God or the God of this world Satan. Very interesting.
How did we get on that? Because they’re wearing, look at this, they’re clothed in pure bright linen. They have their chest skirted with golden bands. “One of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.” Here it is, “the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” Wow.
It’s interesting how it says that he saw this amazing thing in verse 2. I didn’t read that. Let me back up. “And I saw something like a sea of glass” in verse 2, “mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.” They’re the ones singing. This whole scene in chapter 15 is loaded with stuff. I hope in your 10 choices maybe some of you’ll pick chapter 15.
This is what I wrote. This Jesus Christ is victorious note is going back to the song in verse 3 as well as all the way to 7, but look what I wrote: Now, I want to show you the triumph that the patience of Christ produces. “I saw something like a sea of glass.” It’s not an actual sea of glass, but it’s like a sea of glass. I don’t know what it is, and we shouldn’t try and figure it out, but it’s crystal clear and it indicates the holiness of God. Nothing is hidden. That’s why it’s glass, it’s see through. Nothing is hidden. It’s all clear.
Look at this, “mingled with fire.” Remember I told you there’s a river of fire flowing out? I didn’t tell you, Daniel told you in Daniel 7 verses 9 and 10, that out from the steps going up to the throne of God is a river of fire flowing. All that is mingled with fire, it’s reflecting in this crystal glass stuff. It speaks of the fire persecution, the fire of refinement through which these saints have gone. They have victory. See what it says. They “have the victory over the beast, over his image …and over the number of his name” and all that stuff. They went through all that persecution. Now they’re standing on that sea of glass and God gives them harps. That’s where the whole thing about just sitting around playing the harp comes from because we see these harps.
Look at what I wrote. This is what I mean by you can apply this to your life. From a human perspective all the people standing on that sea, if you read carefully what it says, we’re simply killed on Earth and that’s the end of them. See, that’s how humanly people look at it. All those people got killed, but that’s not how God portrays them. That’s our humanness. What Jesus already said is “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” These people are standing. These martyrs are standing on that crystal sea that’s got this fire reflected in it and they’re put on display before the God of the universe. He said these people did what my Son said. They didn’t go through life trying to save every ounce of their life, to have the best time possible, the most comfortable, convenient, secure life possible.
Do you remember John Piper, the great Christian writer that is always stirring us up with what he writes? Do you remember he wrote this little book called Don’t Waste Your Life? You might have missed it. It was maybe 20 years ago. What he does is he tells the story of two older women both in the medical profession. When they reach retirement age, because they’d done so well, one was a doctor and one I don’t know, a nurse, they went to Africa because in America you’re too old to work in the system. You’re 65 or whatever it was so they went to Africa and volunteered in one of these needy clinics. They were driving a missionary vehicle and you know what most missionary vehicles are; after a car wears out we donate them to the mission. You wouldn’t give them a new one. You give them the one that wears out.
They were driving this old worn-out car that someone donated to the mission in Africa. They were rounding a corner on a mountain road and the brakes gave out and their car kept going and it went off the edge. The American newspaper said a great tragedy in Africa, two past retirement age women, medical professionals, were in a car and the brakes failed and they tragically died. Piper said, tragically died? What part was a tragedy? He said they gave their lives to the Lord. They served Him with the neediest people, and they got nothing back in return. They were even driving dumpy stuff because that’s all that was available, and they offered their lives for Me.
He said you know what the real tragedy is? Then he reads an article about a couple from Boston, Massachusetts that had a high tech company that cashed in and sold it at the high part. In their fifties, they made millions and mega millions from their high tech company. They bought a beautiful yacht. They had every accouterment, and they spent their life sailing around all the beautiful parts of the world collecting seashells.
Piper’s whole book goes like this. He said which do you think is going to count in Heaven? The elderly two ladies that died in the crash after offering everything they had to Christ? They come up and stand in front of the throne and say, this is what we did for You. That American dream couple that spent their life collecting shells… they say, oh Lord, look at all these shells we collected in our lives and our suntan because we sailed the world. There’s nothing wrong with suntans or shells or sailing. There’s everything wrong with looking at life that is measured by how much fun, comfort, convenience, and security I can have.
Did you know, most of the things we do for the Lord are uncomfortable, they are very insecure, and they are very inconvenient? I know. I have two daughters who for the last 12 or 14 years have been living in the jungles of Central America with all the army ants. They said we were walking home the other night, my one daughter said, and as we walked it felt soft like we were on carpet. We wondered, oh boy, I wonder what that is. We got back into our house and the army ants, there was a river of them this wide, had gone across where our house is. They were actually walking on army ants. Those fire ants, those red ones. They really bite. That was one time.
Do you know what they said the next time? One of my daughters said I woke up and the army ants this time had come up the side of our house and in through the eaves. The houses are very loosely constructed. The ants came down the wall a foot wide and they just cut across the corner of the bed, and I could feel them, but they never got out of line. I could feel them brushing against my head. When I woke up and looked, they were going up the wall and out the other side of the house. Did you know that’s quite an inconvenient way to live? With scorpions. They can’t even get out of bed without turning on their UV light or black lights or whatever you call them because scorpions glow in the dark. Before you get out of bed, you take your flashlight and scan it around the floor and see if there’s a spot where you can put your feet so you can walk to the bathroom and not step on one. Then you come back with a hammer, and you smash them and kill them. See, that’s very inconvenient, but boy does that matter when you stand in front of Christ.
Think about these people as a picture. The Earth would say they just died. Kind of like those women going off the corner of the road in Africa, but God said no. They sang a new song. “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!” We got to be a part of it. “Just and true are Your ways.” Even though we got martyred, it’s good. Verse 4. “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name.” That’s what we want to do. “For all the nations shall come and worship before You” and we were part of it. They were part of bringing all the nations to Christ. From a human perspective, all the people standing in the sea were simply killed and that was the end of them, but not to God. By the way, what God thinks is what matters. Okay.
Let’s go to chapter 16. Christ’s compassion is that mankind gets a taste of Hell. What we’re going to see in this chapter is these bowls of wrath, the sores, the sea of blood, the rivers, they are rapid. They come very quickly. They’re horrible as you read about them and I’m going to describe them. Then they end when the Lord says it’s done and Armageddon and all that stuff.
What I call it is Earth becomes a living Hell. It’s like everybody gets to see something. Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without Jesus? Hitler freed Germany from their consciences and brought the killing fields, the gas chambers, and an industry of death. That was the darkest hour of the 20th century. Mankind’s unending fight with God, at last, brings them the freedom they always wanted; life without God. What does life become without God? Chapter 16 tells us; a living death, a living Hell of unutterable blackness. So, what is it like?
Number one, life without Jesus is horrible. That’s how I summarized it. Do you know how you’re writing your chapter titles? My chapter title once was Earth becomes a living Hell. The next time I read it through I wrote this: life without Jesus is horrible. Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without Jesus? Perhaps you’re seeking but haven’t found Him. In my journal, I always think of this evangelistically. People are fascinated with Revelation.
I sit at coffee shops doing this reading and writing my devotional guide. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been busily marking and coloring in my Bible and writing with my journal when all of a sudden, I sense someone standing there. I look up and people at Starbucks or Panera will come up and they’ll stand there for a while. Finally, when you look up they say, what are you doing? I go, I’m studying the Bible. Why are you doing that? Do you have a class? I say no, I just love it. I even have them say, what are you finding? People have this background interest in the Bible. It’s this mystery book.
I wrote this one because I thought if someone came over and asked me, I’d say let me read it to you. You’re considering God, but you haven’t decided. You’re looking, but you haven’t put your heart’s desire in Christ and chosen to follow Him. If that’s where you are, pay close attention to the 16th chapter, it shows what life without Jesus is going to be like. It’s the most graphic, vivid, and powerful description in the scriptures of what Hell will be like. Life apart from Jesus is a living Hell and He wants us to see that the seven bowls of His wrath are the coming result of rejecting Him.
Let me just show you something. I’ll animate this because something fascinating about the Bible is that it was supernaturally engineered by God. Not only does this correspond with the plagues of Moses in Egypt, I told you that a few days ago how God decimates all the gods of this world that people follow. Even the structure of the seals, the trumpets, and the bulls, there’s parallel to them. The bottom line is the seven trumpets we already covered in Revelation 8, 9, and 10. The burning trees and the mountain of fire and the comet coming. I’ve talked to you about that so many times.
Look what the bowls are; sores on all the people with the mark of the beast, the sea becomes blood, and all die. Now, look below it. The mountain of fire hit the sea and only a third died. What you see is God is giving people a sample with the trumpets. I call it the judgments of the thirds in red there. Notice all those were a third of all the green grass, a third of all the creatures in the sea. A third. It’s not a third. It’s all the creatures in the sea that die. All the rivers of water become blood in the third bowl. The sun scorches with fire. It’s not just the sun diminishes a third in its luminescence. Not only that but now it gets turned up. It’s whoa, it’s overheating.
Then darkness comes. Remember there was darkness when the demons came out in the clouds filled. Then back in this sixth trumpet, the Euphrates angel killed a third of men, the four angels, and that army. Now we come to the kings of the east, the Armageddon thing. Then, after those frogs come and get everybody to come, look at what the Lord says in the seventh bowl; it is done. Look what it says in the seventh trumpet, it is finished. What I’m trying to show you as you read is there’s this beautiful parallelism. What lessons.
Number two: life without Jesus is like having a deadly incurable cancer. Jesus has sanctifying power. He’s the One who cleanses and keeps us. Have you let Him sanctify and cleanse you from the inside out? Christianity’s not turning over a new leaf, it’s giving the leaf to the Lord. He changes us from the inside out, that’s Christianity. Jesus has life giving power. He’s the One, John 10:10, who gives abundant life, but in these three verses, God shows us that if you choose to go through life without Jesus, it’s like the worst kind of cancer.
Look at verse 1. “I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls.'” Verse 2, “So the first went and poured out his bowl…and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.” Then the blood was like a dead man. It’s just illustrating life without Christ.
Frank Peretti who wrote This Present Darkness was the guy that wrote all those popular books 20, 30 years ago. He wrote one about this and everybody that was secretly sinning had this black stuff oozing out. It would ooze out of their clothes. It would ooze out of their sleeves. It was a gross book to read, but what he was saying is that’s how God sees sinners, oozing the blackness of sin. That’s what happens. Number one, life without Jesus is like having deadly incurable cancer.
Verse 5, only God is eternally self-sufficient and needs nothing. In verse 5, “I heard the angel of the waters saying: ‘You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things.'” Do you remember I told you, I wrote it down here, that this is another reminder of all 25 of our God’s attributes declared and illustrated in Revelation? I grabbed my Systematic Theology and I’m going to read it to you here. Notice God is eternal and independent, those are two of the attributes of God. There are 25 that all theologians have agreed upon. There are communicable, incommunicable, all these different attributes of will, attributes of being, all these things.
Let’s talk about what it means. Do you know what it means when it says, “You’re the One who is and was to be.” That’s His eternity, His timelessness. Let me read to you about that. God’s eternity may be defined as follows: God has no beginning, no end, and no succession of moments in His being. He sees all time equally vividly. Yet God sees these events in time and acts in time. Sometimes this doctrine is called God’s infinity concerning time. That’s interesting.
What is this self-sufficient part? God is the only being in the universe that doesn’t need anything to continue to exist because He’s uncreated. Everything else from Satan on down, right to us and right to every infusoria, every plant, everything, anywhere on Earth, any spirit being in the universe are created so they need something to keep them alive. Do you know what it says in Colossians? By Him, all things consist. Do you know what it says in Hebrews? He’s the God of all spirits. He even keeps spirits alive. Do you know what He said in Daniel 5? I hold your life’s breath to Belshazzar. What God is saying is I’m the only self-sufficient independent One.
What is every American that thinks at all about life want to be? They want to be independent. Why do all little kids fight with their parents? They want to be independent. They don’t want anybody controlling them or telling them what to do or anything else. We want financial independence. We want every kind of independence. God is the only one that’s independent and people that come to Him submit to Him. They bow to Him.
Christians in the New Testament are called His servants. That’s a light translation of the word doulos, which means slave. Christians sign up to be God’s slaves. When you look at the Bible there are only two things left in Revelation 22: God and His slaves. That’s actually what it says when you get there, it’s bonds slaves or bondservants because the only people that get to Heaven are the ones who are not independent. They bow and they say I’m a sinner. You died in my place. I have no hope on my own. I ask for Your free gift. I cannot keep myself alive. I can’t forgive myself. It’s very interesting. Revelation is a powerful illustration that God alone is eternally self-sufficient and needs nothing. We are not self-sufficient, and we need everything, and we need Him.
Verse 8, here comes the ultimate and final global warming. We hear about it all the time and it’s true. The temperatures are recorded. Temperatures are going up all over the world. It’s having its effect. Amazing things are happening. They don’t think that birds are going to be alive in Kuwait, Kuwait over in the Gulf area. The mean average temperature of Kuwait keeps going up so much that it’s reaching a point where if it goes right here, birds cannot live. They’re dying in Mexico City because of the pollution, not the temperature. They’re going to die in the Gulf region because of the temperature.
People struggle with this. At present with every scientific measurement going on, there is a gradual increase in measured temperatures. We don’t have to fight about that, but look at this, look at what happens in verse 8. “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the power was given to him to scorch men with fire.” You talk about global warming. This is the ultimate global warming when God just takes the thermostat and pushes it all the way up. It starts frying people. God the Son, the Creator of all, again touches the sun. It gets scorching hot. If it lasts long enough the polar caps would melt. The remaining humans would find few places to flee once those polar caps melt. That’s why all these things are happening very rapidly.
Fifthly, verses 4 to 7, talk about the dying of thirst because all the water is gone. I wrote this: life without Jesus is like dying of thirst. Only Jesus has satisfying power. He’s the promise. The One that promised us will never thirst. Do you know why we thirst? Now we’re getting into spiritual things, because of sin. What the Lord is saying in John 7:37, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
Did you know that’s how we’re supposed to be going through life? You and I, we’re going out into the desert of this world with everyone around us dying in various degrees of thirst. I’m not talking about not having Aquafina. I’m talking about spiritual thirst. They don’t know why they’re here. That’s why people commit suicide. They don’t see any purpose in going on. That’s dying of thirst and what we’re supposed to be is like fire hydrants.
Have you ever seen New York City or Philadelphia, any of the big cities where the firemen come on one of the hottest days of summer and bring out that great wrench? The big red or yellow or whatever color the fire hydrants are, they turn them on and they blow out that white spray of water and you see kids running around. They don’t allow that anymore because it’s dangerous. In the old days, when I was little, that used to be the big thing. A fireman would crank and spray the water, and everybody would get wet like going to the water park or something.
When I see that, I think all of us are fire hydrants and we’re walking around with everyone around us dying of thirst and we have rivers of living water inside of us. Until we surrender and say, Lord, I want to be Your instrument of Your Gospel, righteousness, and truth. I want Your life to flow through me. We’re just fire hydrants until we allow the Holy Spirit to spray out through us. That’s what witnessing is. It’s spraying the rivers of life giving water to people around us.
Life without Jesus is also like being enslaved. Look at verses 8 and 9. They were “scorched with great heat.” Verse 9 says “they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not,” what does that say? “Repent and give Him glory.” Wow.
Look at verse 11, “they blasphemed the God…” Every time He cranks up, one more judgment pours out one more bowl. They blaspheme God, verse 11. It sounds almost like a repeat of verse 9. “They blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.” Wow. That’s hard heartedness. Life without Jesus is being enslaved to the worst master, sin is the worst master, Satan is the worst master. Our fallenness is the worst master.
Jesus has liberating power, remember? Look what He says in John 8:31, “Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are My disciples.” Verse 32. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” That’s how you know that you know Me. I’m the truth. I set you free. “They answer Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free?'” Verse 34. “Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.'”
Everyone born into this world is enslaved at birth. They sin by choice, by nature, and by divine decree. That’s the theological description. What it means is it’s not the environment around us, our parents, or whatever, that makes us bad. We were born bad. See, that’s the Gospel. That’s our fallenness, our sinfulness. “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore,” verse 36, “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Jesus is the one who sets us. Do you see what I said in the top paragraph? Are you allowing Jesus to set you free?
I posted my devotional this morning. I posted on YouTube this morning and I launched it with prayer. I said, how to know for sure you’re saved. I can’t wait to see how many YouTube watchers are interested in the assurance of salvation. What I talked about is the way that you understand whether or not you’re saved is just to let God do what He promised He would do to know that you’re connected to Him. Any of you, do you want to know if you’re connected to God? This is how to know if you’re connected to God: are you allowing Jesus to set you free? He wants to. He’s able to. He promised to. He did everything it takes to set you free.
What’s the holdup? Deep down we don’t want to be free. We still like our sin. Sanctification makes me enjoy sin less and less. Then spiritual maturity is me not only not liking it, I hate it. That’s how you know if you’re growing, not that you hate sinners. There are some people, the ones that march around and protest at the funerals of people that had aids. Remember that crazy church? I don’t know where they were from. They were protesting at funerals because the people were what they called the worst of sinners. We’re not supposed to hate sinners. We’re supposed to love them and hate the sin that so easily besets us. See as Christians we confuse the world.
Let’s talk about being made free. Let’s see, I’m halfway through my slides and it’s 10:40. It’s going to be interesting. I was preparing my message like I always do. I was trained that you spend one-half of your 60 hours a week studying when working in the ministry. The other half is spent with the people. I spent 30 hours a week discipling, nurturing, teaching classes, visiting people, doing funerals and weddings and counseling, and everything. I spent 30 hours a week for 38 years studying. That’s a lot of hours studying the Bible and in my 30 hours a week studying the Bible. I would get in my office, and I’d have my Bible and I’d be writing out my messages longhand. I’ve written out every message I’ve ever taught in its entirety since I started in the ministry. People say all the time, oh how can you do all these things and have books and everything else? I say it’s very easy. If you wrote out everything you learned in the scripture you would have this growing amount of material that you have studied.
I was in my office writing and studying. While I was listening, I heard scuffling outside the door of my office in my secretary’s area, the pastor’s secretary. Her name was Kay, and she was about 84 years old. She was only about this tall, small woman, fiery. She’d been the secretary for all the pastors for the last 50 years, I think, or 60. I’m not sure if she started in her twenties or thirties, she was great. She knew the church. She knew everything and what a blessing she was. I could hear her making a sound and then a bump against the door and someone was bumping my door and I thought oh, maybe it’s a robbery or something.
I opened the door, and she came in stumbling backward with her hands raised in front of her. There was this man. He was a little taller than me. He was one of these powerlifter guys, like in the gym, the extreme gyms, I don’t know what they call them. The ones where they take the big balls and hang and do endless pull ups and everything. He was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be when he was Mr. America and Mr. Universe or whatever he was.
I knew who this guy was. I’d seen him since I started pastoring there. He was this fitness guy. Whenever it was over 50 degrees he walked our town, every part of the town. I don’t think he had a job, he just worked out all the time. He wore these shorts that were too short for a man to wear. They were just too little. You just went, oh, you tried to look away. Come on, get them down a little, you need board shorts. Those are too short. That’s all he wore. The rest of him was dripping with perspiration. When he power walked he had, I don’t know if they were five pounds or 10 pounds or 20 pounds weights, but he walked around pumping the weights. He was sweating, rippling with muscles, showing us all how unfit we were. Later he became a dear friend of mine. He was an army ranger. He was I don’t know what level black belt; I don’t know how high you can get, but he was way up there. He served in the armed forces and was a fitness nut. Amazing.
There he was in his little, tiny shorts with my 84 year old secretary not wanting to touch him because he was wet and didn’t have enough clothes on. She was trying to keep him away. He was trying to get into my office, and I was studying so she was protecting me. She was this tall and he was so much taller. I wish back then we had instant pictures because I would show you the picture right now. That was the funniest thing I’d ever seen.
I said, Kay, what’s up? She said he wants to bother you and I told him he can’t bother you. I said, what did he say he wanted? He’s standing right there. He said to me I want to talk to you about the people in this church. I said, great, come in. I’m the one to talk to. So here Mr. Power Walker comes in and stands, dripping in my office, all that sweat was coming off of him. I said, what would you like to know about our church? I still have my Bible in my hand because I was studying. I said what do you want to know about our church? He says I power walk. I said, I know I’ve seen you for months. He said I power walk through your parking lot. I said, I know I’ve seen you for months. He said I would like to know one thing: Why when I walk through your parking lot do I feel peaceful? He said I feel something. He said it is wonderful. I walk a little extra slower through your parking lot. He said I like to walk by the people when they’re coming into the services. The people were bothered by that. They would have their kids not look at him because the mother said you shouldn’t dress like that to their little kids, and you shouldn’t show off and everything. He was not a positive thing to the church people. I just thought that’s his thing, don’t bother him. He’s not hurting anybody. In fact, he made me feel bad like I needed to lose weight or do barbells.
The short of it is he wanted to know, what was he asking me? He spiritually sensed there was something different about the congregation of that church, so he came to me. By the way, do you know what he said? I would like to know father, why those people are so different. He thought I was a Roman Catholic. That’s all he knew, that everybody that’s religious must be Catholic. I said hey, let me share with you why the people in our church are so different.
What did I have in my hand? My Bible. I started sharing and I went through the plan of salvation, but actually, to tell you the truth, up close it just was hard. It was distracting to look at him, so I just was reading my Bible keeping it right in front of my face, so I didn’t have to look at all the sweat running down him. I just kept sharing. Finally, when I got to the end, I said, and what would keep you? I lowered my Bible. He was gone. I thought he left. He was actually down on his knees on the floor.
He had gotten to the point of me sharing the Gospel just reading through the Romans Road as I did for you a couple of days ago. I was reading through it, and he had slowly gotten down on his knees. I looked down and he looked up at me and he said that’s what I want. It was one of the best leading to the Lord I’ve ever had. I got down next to a sweating wet man and he prayed the most beautiful prayer.
By the way, do you know what he told me about himself? He loved to go to bars, and he wore clothes when he went to the bars. He said he would always pick the most provocative woman at the bar. The one, the blonde that’s the envy of everybody or whatever it was. He would slide up next to her and sit either in her chair or the chair next to her hoping the boyfriend would challenge him and almost always it happened. He loved for that boyfriend to push him away and say, that’s my girl or whatever. He’d say, okay, you want to fight? They would start the fight. They’d try to throw the first punch and he would knock them out. He said I always got the girl because who wouldn’t want that thing. He told me that he loved to harm people. He loved to fight. He was very immoral. He told me all this as I was discipling him.
Let me show you Titus 3 because this is the best part then we’ve got to keep going. Titus chapter 3. I gave him a Bible and I told him that he needed to start reading it and we could meet every week and talk about it, and I would disciple him. I gave him a paperback Bible. The very next Sunday, now it only takes 18 hours to read the whole New Testament. This was on Monday. On Sunday he came to me at church, by the way, he came to church fully dressed. I never saw him again, the rest of the years that I lived there, ever dressed like that again. Isn’t it amazing? I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t say anything. He just stopped all that exhibitionism.
He said to me on Sunday, I found myself in the Bible. I said, what do you mean? He said I’m in the Bible. I said I want to see it. He said it’s in T-Tess. I said, what? T-Tess. I said, Titus. Yeah, Titus. Okay. Where are you in Titus? In verse 3 of chapter 3 he said. Here he is standing and all these people from the parking lot of the church know who this is, and people are listening. He didn’t have a little voice. He had an outdoor voice. “We ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” He said that was me. He said that’s exactly my life until I walked into your office. Then he said, verse 4, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” That’s the testimony he gave at his baptism. Boy, did it make everybody in the church want to be really nice in the parking lot because they all wanted to see who else would want to know Christ.
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