“WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?” SERIES
Message #5 – “Don’t Exclude Anyone”
CWBC – 3/25/18
INTRO – Good morning, everyone! Welcome to this Palm Sunday worship service. I’m so glad we are here together today!
Have you ever been left out of something? Right after I graduated from high school, I went over to one of my friend’s house to see him. Didn’t call or anything. Just dropped by his house, which wasn’t unusual. We had been friends since elementary school. Knocked on the door. His mother came to door, & when I asked if my friend was home, she said, “Oh, he & Billy went to Florida on a senior trip. They left yesterday.” Billy was one of my buddies, too. It got really awkward really quickly, as she realized what had happened, & I realized what had happened, too. I quickly said goodbye to her & jumped back into my 1975 Pontiac Lemans & drove back home, mad as a wet hornet, & sad at the same time. Couldn’t believe that I had been excluded from that trip!
I read an article written by a psychologist on the subject of being excluded. Here’s what she had to say: “Being excluded is one of the worst feelings in the world. Ask any middle schooler and they will tell you it’s the thing they fear most – it’s not getting bad grades or angering their parents – it’s being deemed an outsider at school, not worthy or altogether forgotten. When we think back to our early school years, most of us can remember the painful experience of being excluded at one time or another. It may have been not getting an invitation to a party, or being left out of a game on the playground. Or it was much worse: systematically being bullied and shunned by classmates.
You would think that being excluded would be an experience that disappears as we age. When we get older and wiser, we are more thoughtful and inclusive, right? Not always. In fact, it often continues into adulthood and has some familiar emotional pangs. It can bring up a lot of painful feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, and as adults (just like kids), it can be experienced as alienation and loneliness.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/pat-blumenthal/being-excluded-can-be-jus_b_11281980.html)
While it may be uncomfortable to be excluded or left out in school, at work, or in some social situations, it is downright sinful for us to exclude anyone or leave anyone out when it comes to sharing the Good News about Jesus! The message of the cross is a message for anyone & everyone, anywhere & everywhere in the world! That’s what we are going to talk about for a few minutes here today.
Grab your Bible or a pew Bible or open your Bible app & find Acts 10:34-43 (page 919).
Acts 10:34-43 English Standard Version (ESV)
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
QUICK BACKGROUND OF PASSAGE: Acts 10 tells a story that is one of the great turning points in the history of the Church. For the first time, a Gentile is allowed into the fellowship of the Christian Church. Cornelius was a Roman centurion stationed at Caesarea, a devout, generous, God-fearing, praying man whom God used to let Peter know that it was time for the Gospel to move out into the Gentile world. Strict Jews believed that God had no use for the Gentiles, & that God’s favor was extended to the Jews & only to the Jews. That belief was about to be blown out of the water!
THE IMPARTIALITY OF GOD – v. 34-35 – We are bad about not being impartial. We will let a person’s financial status or social status sway us & cause us to treat them in a more special way than others. We might be influenced by their popularity, their standing in the business community, their political affiliation, their skin color, or who their family is or what their nationality is. I once had a man tell me that I needed to check the giving records of the people in the church so I would know who I needed to be listening to. In other words, he was saying that I needed to be more partial to those who gave a lot of money to the church than those who didn’t. Apparently, he had not read James 2:1 – “My brothers & sisters, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”
But God doesn’t care about any of those things. “God shows no partiality” (v. 34b). Romans 2:11 says the same thing, as does Eph. 6:9. God simply shows no partiality. He wants to save anyone & everyone, no matter who they are, who their daddy or granddaddy is, what their skin color is, how much money they have in the bank, who they voted for for President, what their gender is, or what their religion is. He is not just the God of the Jewish people, nor is Jesus just the Jewish Messiah. The Gospel is for ALL people – PERIOD! God doesn’t look down on some people b/c of their race or ethnic background, or show favor to others b/c of their race or ethnic background. He wants all people from every walk in life, every place on earth, & every people group in every nation to come to Him & be saved.
- He wants drug addicts, & murderers, & adulterers, & thieves to come to Him. He wants folks w/ a criminal record a mile long, & folks who’ve never even gotten a parking ticket to come to Him.
- He wants white folks, & black folks, & Hispanic folks, & Asian folks to come to Him.
- He wants children to come to Him, teenagers to come to Him, adults of all ages – college students to senior adults – to come to Him.
- 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” (CSB)
That’s why Jesus came & died on the cross b/c God so loved the WORLD! That’s the impact of the cross!
THE IMPACT OF THE CROSS – v. 38-40 – Everything Jesus did during His earthly ministry was leading Him to the cross. From the moment that He was baptized by John the Baptist & the Holy Spirit descended on Him & God the Father spoke, to every person that He spoke to, & touched, & healed, & forgave, & restored, to His betrayal by Judas, to the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the mockery & brutality of the Roman soldiers, to the moment that the hammer came down on that first nail, everything was leading up to that moment. The impact of that hammer reverberated through history as the culmination of God’s plan for our redemption was happening. There’s no way we can overestimate or overemphasize the impact of the cross! Without it, we have no hope, no future, no story to tell to the nations. The impact of the cross is MASSIVE!
This evening, Vicki & I are going to see the Newsboys in concert at the coliseum. They released a song last year called, “The Cross Has the Final Word.” One of the writers of the song, Peter Furler, had this to say about the song:
“[This song] is all about the power of Jesus and the great work He did for us on the cross. It’s truly something Christians place our hope in. That something started on the earth in the beginning when man disobeyed and were separated from God. Doors were opened that brought in powerful things like sickness, disease, hurt, and pain. Science can’t defeat those things. Drugs can’t defeat them. Alcohol can’t defeat them. Buddha can’t. The New Age movement can’t. Muhammad can’t. The only thing that can is something more powerful than all of them…something more powerful than death. The only thing more powerful than death is Jesus Christ and the reconciliation of what He did on the cross.” (https://www.todayschristianmusic.com/media/newsboys-story-behind-cross-final-word/)
THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARING THE GOSPEL – v. 42-43 – That’s why we MUST share the Gospel! We are commanded to “preach” – to tell & announce publicly (no “Secret Service Christians”), & we are commanded to “testify” – to affirm & solemnly declare that Jesus is the ONLY Savior of the world, & that “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (v. 43) Did you read that? It says EVERYONE! God was clearly telling Peter that NO ONE GETS EXCLUDED! And He’s telling us the same thing today.
When it comes to sharing the story of the cross, NO ONE GETS EXCLUDED!
Had an elderly man tell me once in a church that since you don’t see a red bird & blue bird playing together, that’s God’s way of telling us that white folks & black folks aren’t supposed to go to church together. God help us!
CWBC – predominately white church in the middle of a community that is growing more & more racially diverse. How are we going to impact this community with the Gospel? Through the love of Christ, we will not exclude ANYONE!