28th April 2024

The coming of the Word of the Gospel to call you to become a Christian

Passage: Acts 8:36-39, Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 10:13-16, John 18:36
Service Type:

This sermon explores the significance of responding to God's call and forming a personal relationship with Jesus. Through the examples of biblical figures like Samuel and Philip, the message emphasises that true Christianity centres on a direct connection with God through His Word, rather than through church ceremonies or creeds. The sermon invites listeners to acknowledge, recognize and respond to Jesus' call in their own lives, highlighting the transformative power of hearing and accepting the Gospel.

Automatically Generated Transcript

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It is interesting to hear from people who come to our Church from interstate or just from other places in the city and come and join our Church. We do get a lot of Brethren people who come, a lot of other Baptists and we also get Church of Christ and I wonder why we seem to have predominantly those denominational people turn up and yet we do get also Anglicans and other ones that come to our Church and what is it that brings them to us? Something in common that all those different people are looking for as Christians and I think it is that they're looking for somewhere where the Word of God is proclaimed and can be learned. And so it is the feature of our services that we have an exposition of a Bible passage as the central thing that we're doing here. And of course we've just had a baby

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dedication so we're going to have a Bible passage that relates to that eventually in a minute. But we're also always interested in storylines of how people come to that moment. I was talking about us praying for baby Lilly one day to have that moment when Lilly and Jesus get together. and it's very interesting as you listen into Christians that they have different stories to tell and God doesn't work by formula or he has to do everything the same way with everybody but it's true that there is some moment in the stage of your life, in the play that metaphorically represents your life. The central line that you have is the one that is your response to Jesus, whether it be a simple acknowledgement or whether it be a crisis moment or whether it be in a meeting

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where someone speaks and gives a call and they're asking you to pray or whatever. Whatever be the outwardness of that moment, it is the most important moment of your life when Jesus is getting through to you and he's calling on you to respond. That often does happen in churches as a consequence of being at church, where people become just, aware that it's more than a simple human talk but there's something that seems to be behind or underneath or over and above the whole moment. I used to do a lot in youth evangelism and part of my roles in Youth for Christ as well as in our Baptist. We used to have a monthly gathering, I wish we still did, where we would have people come to Christ rally by rally month by month. One of my roles was to look after the counseling room and I'd arrange for when we used to have some of these

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meetings in State High School Hall for one of the classrooms to be available and I put out the counseling materials on desks. I'd rearrange the desks so that there'd be like two or three chairs around one one desk. The counseling material there. And then when people responded to the call of the preacher to come to know the Lord Jesus, to come to Christ, they would be let out and I'd look after him in this room. And the way that I did it was, we had counselors trained to know what to do. And a part of what their training was, that they would bring the person that they've been talking to, and seeking to bring to that point of encounter with Christ, to me. And I'd be standing at the door. And I had them trained that they'd fill you a little card of the

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person's name, that sort of thing, give them some literature. But they'd come and introduce the person to me at the door. And this was on purpose. I had my counsellors told not to hang around, keep on walking, and then I'd have a moment to ask some questions. And I used to do little tests to see that the counselling was done well, and also to find out what happened. And I had some questions. asked, I said, why did you come forward today?

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What amazed me was how many times I kept hearing, while that meeting was on, God spoke to me. While the preacher was talking, it wasn't a much a commendation of what the preacher said. But the person would say, God spoke to me. There is something I think our generation somehow has forgotten that the heart of Christianity is that coming into a personal relationship with God and it happens because God speaks it is his Word coming through and so the Bible talks about the scriptures being the

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Word of God the Bible talks about the Gospel message being the Word of God God, especially in inner part of the Word of God is the gospel message. You can't become a Christian without hearing the gospel and responding to it and it calls for a response. And that happens sometimes at odd moments but especially in Christian meetings where they've prayed in Jesus' name. So these people would say and I got used to the fact that that was what the heart of coming to know Christ is about is actually answering a call by God. Who knows whether this morning you're sitting here and you didn't come expecting that in this moment you become aware that God is speaking to you, as Jesus. He's alive, he

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rose from the dead, of course, he went back to heaven, he is in heaven, but by his Holy Spirit he comes to meetings like this that's why we open them in prayer in Jesus' name. And Jesus said we're two or more gather together in my name he said there am I in the midst and he is present here now and he's the one who speaks to people and if that's you and you come to the end of today and and you're aware that something is been going on with you, find a spot to say to Jesus Lord are you talking to me. That's what the little boy Samuel had to do who was taken down to the temple by his mother and given to the old priest. She made a rather a promise, I don't know whether she regretted it,

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but she was barren without a child and she asked the Lord please give me a child and she ended up not having any success. And she prayed and said, Lord, if you give me a child, I'll give him back to you. So she took him, the baby Samuel, down to the temple and gave him into the care of the priest. But that was all in God's plan because God intended that moment to come to that little boy. The Bible tells us that Samuel did not yet know the Lord.

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But in the middle of the night, God called him, Samuel, Samuel. Samuel thought it was the old priest, so he ran in to see the priest, must've woken him up. I'm sure the old fella didn't like that, getting woken up but the boy says, here I am, you called me and he says, no I didn't, go on, lie down again. That went on in several times until eventually the old priest twigged.

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that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. I think we Christians need to wake up a bit about where the heart of Christianity is. It is in Jesus. It is in Jesus and me or Jesus and him calling others. There is nothing more exciting than being involved in a life where the role that you have is to be there, to listen in, to win the Lord is calling. we've got a passage here in the scriptures about Philip and he's one of the early evangelists in the church and he wanders around places like most evangelists he probably has times when he has to go to villages and he's had some big occasions of what we would call today missions or crusades

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And they're exciting. And he's in the middle of one up at some area when the Holy Spirit says to him, leave here and go down into the- It's a desert road he's told to go to, and this desert road is gonna be where he's gonna speak to just one person. I enjoy being at our church. I tell you that, though I am aware that any day

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God could tell me to leave the joy of being in a fellowship like this. This is not a lead up to tell you anything, but but any day he could say, Jim, I want you to go somewhere else. I came here because the Lord got me to, and I'll have to leave, if he tells me to go. And in Philip's case. I'm sure he had such an exciting time in the mission, the crusades he had in Samaria, with dramatic things happening, that it was a bit of a wrench to be obedient and to believe there and go out into a desert road,

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which is where he had to go. But as he's in this desert road, the Holy Spirit gets him to see a man in a chariot and he's leaving Jerusalem and going back down to Africa. He's the Ethiopian eunuch, and that's what we're reading of. And Philip gets told by the Lord to run up and go alongside. And when he's running alongside, he hears what the man is reading, and he asks him some questions. And as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, see here is water, what prevents me from being baptized?

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Now, I asked you a question when I started today, and I probably need a tissue if someone's got one, please, anybody, if you have one, thanks, Ben is going, he'll get one, or else one of those serviettes in the, yeah, good, okay. We got a lot of wogs in our house, germs, I mean, and so they're members of our, okay, members of our family who are home trying to recover from them, but I'm not sick, I just need a bit of help here. And anyway, here's our friend Philip, and the fella he's talking to sees some water, either been a flash flood or some sort of, it wasn't a deserted road, though the word in the Bible desert doesn't mean like we mean, not like Sahara Desert, it means wilderness more than it means no water at all, but there'd been a flash flood or something, and there

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was a whole lot of water, and the Ethiopian eunuch says to him, he says to him, what would stop me, what prevents me from being baptized? Now I asked a question at the start of the message about- I mentioned about how we get a lot of Baptists, Church of Christ and Brethren who come to our Church and some Anglicans and others, but what do the Church of Christ and the Baptists and the Brethren- if I want to be accurate there'd be Baptists and Brethren and half of the Church of Christ. There's a hint, but what do those three groups have in common? So you get a lot of them coming to our church. And you have a thought as to what to we have in common, those 3 groups, still we get some of the others as well, but I will give my own... give the answer.

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What we have in common is the other denominations tend to have creeds, a creed is where there been some big meeting that decides what everybody is to believe in the whole denomination. Like, for example, there's a Creed that is called the Westminster Confession, but you know that in Baptists and Brethren's and half of the Church of Christ's I'll explain that in a minute, they don't have creeds because they say the Bible is our Creed. And because the Bible's not necessarily interpreted by everybody exactly the same, it sort of leaves it open for there to be a lot of different ways of reading the Scriptures. But it's putting the Bible in its exposition as the chief thing, but there isn't any enforced Creed, per se. We do have a Church constitution that sort of sets some limits. And they're not meant

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That's not meant to be a creed. It's just meant to be let people know what we're on about. And if you are so different from them, we ask you nicely to go somewhere else, because we want to have a unity. And we work out what are some of the limits of the unity that can be made? But we don't have creeds. It's scriptures. And that's why we are called evangelicals

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because the word evangelical means gospel. It's a Greek word, evangelical. There's got the word e delivers, which is the word for gospel. And we believe that the central teaching of the Bible, which is the gospel, and all of the word of God, is our Creed. Whereas the other groups, they have Westminster Confession and they've got other things where it might be the denominational sitting out of what everybody is to believe. Now, why would they be different?

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The difference is that the big denominations that have creeds also have another difference. So second thing, and that is that their picture as to how God's salvation comes down to us, what is the conduit? The channel that God's salvation comes down is through the ceremonies of the church. They call them sacraments. That we've had a baby dedication, and the baby dedication is the equivalent in some sense

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as to what other denominations do when they have a christening, which is another word for a baptism. But the difference is that in those denominations, the christening or the baptism is considered to be one of the channels for whom God's salvation comes down and gets into the person. So I once went to, for example, a very beautiful, wonderful school where our kids went through, And he was a Lutheran school to visit the principle.

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And as I waited in his little ante room, I looked and saw there was a little tracks that he had there were the top of the track sticking up, and you could read at the top of what they're about. It said, how to become a Christian. And, oh my heart was warped, because this bloke he, I knew he was a Christian as principal, even though he wasn't a Baptist or a brethren or a Church of Christ. He was a lovely man,

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but it warmed my heart that he would put that how do we become a Christian there as a trek for people who are coming to see him. But then I got disappointed, not by him. I pulled one out, and as I read at it, it was telling how you get baptised as an infant. And I knew that baptisms as an infant is a belief people have because they think the ceremonies of the church are what turn you into a Christian.

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And I know that the Bible teaches that there's no ceremony that makes you a Christian. It doesn't matter what name you give your ceremonies. But the idea of a sacrament that's actually what it means. A sacrament is one of these channels in the Roman Catholic Church, there's seven of them. In other churches it might not be the same number. And there's lots of differences across the different groups. But the idea of a sacrament is that, that's how you're made into a Christian and how you're blessed by God. You receive the Lord the communion because there is something in it that makes you a better person.

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There's not the Bible teaches. When Jesus spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he wasn't talking about literally doing it because he was still standing there and no one came up and had a bite on his arm when he said it. he was talking about the fact that he and how he's coming to the world to be its Savior and how he's gonna die on the cross would bring salvation Jesus is the conduit but not by any ceremony that I can do I can't do any ceremony for you that will do anything for you it might be good for us to understand that this is what we're trying to say and we dedicated a child but we prayed for for Jesus to be the one that would take that child and look after her.

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And so, what's the heart of the way to — it's actually what an evangelical is. It's a person who believes the evangelist, the means of getting in the door. And there's a direct connection between the individual and God through his word of the gospel. When God speaks to people, like in those meetings I used to be a counsellor or person for, they may be listening. The person that we used to get to come to speak at those meetings will be someone who had a gift to make the Gospel clear, a gift that when they made the Gospel clear, God spoke, which is what an evangelist is. When that happened, when God spoke to them, that's the conduit.

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It's the Living Word of God coming to a person that will turn you into a Christian. Without the Word of God there is no Christianity and without the Gospel there's no opportunity for a person to hear the call of God and make peace with him. You know I make it a bit of a point to ask people that I talk to in meetings whether or not it's actually happened to them. I'm not trying to say that you have to have an equivalent emotional experience as some people give testimonies about I'm not saying that I had to happen in any dramatic way or that you cried or that you perhaps said a prayer. Yesterday I had at my house three lovely Christian brothers from another nation they have a church of their type of people in Brisbane and

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they're going around and where I live and they're talking knocking on doors and I was out of my car at the moment they came up and they said we want to know whether you prayed the prayer of, how did they word it, prayed the prayer of accepting Christ and I let them talk and they told me how this was necessary and eventually I've told them that yes, when I was a little boy of nine I did. It's not because I actually said the prayer properly because at my occasion for me I sensed Christ calling me in the moment I went to move, move to to go, it happened. I actually got a counsellor who was going to do the counselling job that I later had learned out how to do, and he was a big man. He was a really big man, he used to sit where he sat with his legs like this

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because he had to stand up afterwards and and he was very big, and he did a wonderful job, my brother and I responded together and he led us in the prayer but I knew it had already happened. The moment I decided to say yes to Christ and I moved this leg, it happened. So I let him leave me in the prayer but the prayer is not actually what does it. It's just your heart saying yes to God. I'm asking you this morning in your heart, have you responded to the call of God to let Jesus be your personal Saviour? If you haven't, would you do that this morning? Not because I'll give you any special way to do it. Just decide yourself. Find a spot on your own when you get home if you're like or a friend that's with you that you know loves the Lord and say I I really want to say yes to Jesus and

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I'd help you, whatever, the words of the prayer, it's not the words being accurate that matters, it's just that you recognize that Christ is calling and you want to answer and this bloke is a in our storyline, he is a eunuch which means he's the castrated man which those ancient civilizations did to provide people who'd be able to staff their harems and not run away with the girls or to become in his case he was the treasurer, so he would have been castrated before he went through puberty and so he didn't grow up properly and he didn't get to be a man that would want to take over the money. That was a cruel thing done to him. And he'd become a Jew because he was seeking for God and he'd learn about the Jewish religion and he used to come up to Jerusalem to

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participate in all of their special feasts. The only trouble was that when he got to the temple they wouldn't let him go very far into all of the celebrations because he was a wounded male and there was something in the Old Testament about people who'd had bad things happen to their limbs or people castrated that they couldn't go into the chief part of the process. So he was really hurt by his exclusion in the religious offerings of the Jewish system. I've met people you know who haven't known Christ but yet were feeling their way, they're wanting to know God, but turned away because something happened in a church where they felt excluded, or there was something that went wrong in a church, who knows what, but it kept them away. And this is a fellow just the same. He's on his

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way out from Jerusalem, never really making it to find God. And the Lord sent Philip into a desert to find him, to tell him the gospel. And then he brings up the fact that he's been excluded previously. And he says, What would stop me from being baptized? He saw the water. And Philip answers, look at the answer that he gives. Philip says, If you believe with all your heart you may.' And he replied, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And so he, that's Philip, commanded the chariot to stop, or maybe it was the man, because it was his chariot, and they both went down into the water. So it was going to be an immersion Philip and the eunuch. And he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away and the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing because he had found the Lord. Now the important point here is it wasn't

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any special ceremony. They're out in the desert there's no priests with big robes, there's There's nothing special told to us. He had to dip him three times or he had to go backwards or forwards. It wasn't like someone had set up a baptismal tank and says, you can't be a part of our church unless you're baptised in our tank. No, none of that. It's just a simple accepting of Christ. And the key to it working is that you believe the word. In the heart of Evangelicalism there's a Christi, subset of Christian practice, is you rely on the message to be the thing that brings the power.

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If you believe with all your heart you may, and he replied I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, so there it is. By the way, in some of you bibles you'll find that this verse 37 is only down the bottom because some manuscripts include it and some don't and so the translators sometimes put this verse in the main part and others put it down the bottom. But it is showing that the key to getting God's salvation come through to you is not through a sacrament, I know some churches use the word sacrament just to mean the things that you do and there's even Baptist pastors that use the word sacrament ignorantly because they didn't get a good training at their college to know we actually normally call them ordinances because that's just what the

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Bible tells us gives us the order to do, but there's nothing special about it that's the Baptist tree and I tell people when they're baptized anything the water will do for you is get you wet. It's what you're confessing That's the issue. And you're confessing and we get them to verbalise it one way or another. You're probably, those of you who've come regularly, are used to seeing how we do that, that we get them to say how they've come to believe in Christ. They've trusted his word. I might word it one time, have you believed in Jesus. I might say another time,

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have you received Christ as your personal Saviour? Whatever the language, the point is, is that have you come to say yes to His call, and then we don't actually baptize anybody unless they've already answered yes, cause we don't want them to think it's the water that does it. The water's just the outward confession of the inward faith in the faith in God's Word,

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the response to God's Word, is the conduit. I'm using the word conduit like a big, long tunnel of water or blessing or grace coming down to a person. The grace is that which comes through the Gospel and the Word of God. And at some time in your life there will be a moment, I believe, especially if you attend a church where the gospel has sounded, where you will hear, you'll be aware God is getting through to you. Answer the call. Let Jesus be your personal Saviour. By personal I mean not just the church's Saviour or the belief of the family but tell him Jesus deals with individuals, tell him that you're willing to let him be to you what he came into the world and died on the cross and rose again to be your Saviour. From that moment forward you will belong to him

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and he will belong to you. Well the dedication was simply talking about about praying for little baby Lily that one day there'll be a moment when she will be aware that she has come to know Christ and as I said earlier it doesn't it's dramatic for in one person the way they come it says an adult and another person not last a twig it's sometimes a child at his or her mother's knee but what counts is you and Jesus. He's calling you. Find some way to say yes to Jesus, and commit yourself to be a person that lets him be the leader of your soul and your heart and your destiny and your future. That's my message for this morning. Let's have a were to pray. Heavenly Father I thank you for how we've had opportunity to see

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children come into families. I'm so glad my mum and dad loved you father. They love being involved in your things. I'm glad my dad was the principal of a college and loved the Word of God and I got taught it from the earliest age and I'm glad one of the things he did was to become involved with that Billy Graham crusade and charged the counseling and our family had to go every meeting. Because in that meeting Lord you got through to me that although I've been in a Christian family I've never done business with Jesus as a Savior and you were calling me to do that that time. Father may that call register on people here this morning and there'll be some who knows who who will find Jesus today we ask that to be the case in his precious name. Amen.

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