Sermon: The Fine Print in the Gospel

** attached is my powerpoint.  The fine print in the Gospel

Propositional Statement:  There’s no Salvation without Surrender.

Intro:

It’s an honor to be here sharing God’s word with you. (introduce myself if needed)   I was in Indonesia last week, preparing a different sermon for you guys.  But one of the points just jumped and screamed to be expanded and preached like  “hello?  I need to be the main THING here.”  I felt this is the Spirit’s leading.  I confirmed that with pastor Mike and my own pastor.  And to be honest, I need this message too.  So I’m preaching to myself today.

I call this “the fine print in the Gospel”, because.. you know, fine prints are those statements at the bottom of an agreement or an advertisement with those tiny 6 pt fonts.  Usually it tells you about the hidden details, the hidden cost, or restriction that advertisers don’t want you to know.  They’re very unattractive, but legally, they need to be displayed.  Advertisers wish people will bite the offer without first going through all the hassle, reading the fine print.  And if you read the fine print, you’ll discover the actual deal that you really want would cost much more than you expected.

Unfortunately, there’s fine print in the Gospel nowadays that many of us are not aware of.  It’s not meant to be hidden.  There shouldn’t BE any fine print in Jesus’ gospel.  But many preachers don’t tell you about the fine print because it makes the gospel a lot less attractive, and it turns people away.  And preachers (including myself) like big crowd and big churches.  We like it when we make an altar call, lots of people come forward, filling the space in the front.  I understand that.  The intention maybe something like, “let’s get you in the church, then slowly reveal the real truth.”  But that’s misleading if not deceptive.  And you need to know what it is so that you are not deceived and you can make a good decision.

< pray>

We live in a culture where a water-down gospel is often preached.  In evangelical meetings and churhces, we hear preachers preach that salvation is completely free, buy-one-get-one free, that it’s completely by the GRACE of God, it’s a free gift (they’d quote eph 2:8), Jesus has done everything and all we need to do is to accept that gift through faith.  We hear preachers preach that there’s forgiveness without repentance, and that there’s salvation without surrendering.  And those messages are popular, draws a big crowd.  It’s very easy to preach.  Who wouldn’t want free-gift?  Who wouldn’t choose heaven?  I’ll vote for Jesus.  Go Jesus.  And I’ll admit I’ve preached the same gospel before.

But my biggest concern is that the result from those sermons is we get a bunch of so called new ‘christians’ from those meetings, they run around thinking they’re Christians, they goto church, get religious, vote republicans, but their hearts have not changed.  Their directions, their plans for themselves, their purpose in life are not one bit different than what they were before, and from any non-christian.  And at the end, this is what happen.  This is from Jesus….

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [n]miracles?’  (and may I add, served in worship band, attended small groups and all these programs)  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Dude.  This is serious.  Jesus warns us that at the end days, there’ll be lots of poor people deceived, thinking that they’re christians, serving Jesus all their lives.  But they’re not.  Part of the problem is that they’re not told the whole, complete gospel in the first place, but another part is they’ve never gone to read the BIble themselves to find out the fine print.

<God’s will/plan>

Because here it talks about doing God’s will, I want to spend a couple minutes on that.

It’s not difficult for us to accept that God has a plan for us.  I’m paraphrasing Psalm 139:16, but it says that God has a plan for us before we’re born.  He has written His plan in His book by days.   “You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  God has a plan for you before you’re born, like I have a plan for my baby daughter Tiara, and you have a plan for your children.  Before Tiara was born, before I was married, when I was in my college days, I attended various “how to raise your children” seminars, and I formed a plan to raise my children.  I’ve got all sorts of training ideas.  She’ll learn to love the Lord and build a personal relationship with Him, Obviously she’ll take piano lessons, obviously she’ll goto Chinese school, I also want to take her to mission trips to experience different worlds so that she can develop a heart for the needies.  Our Father in Heaven has a wonderful plan for you too.

We don’t have time to go into the detail of God’s plan for you and me.  So I’ve summarized here in this powerpoint with references.  Notice that His plan for Christian doesn’t involve you working hard to gain wealth, planning your annual vacation, moving to a better school district, getting bigger houses, maximizing your investment and 401K, retiring young and early, so that you can travel the world with your family, so that you can play golf with your friends, enjoying God’s beautiful creations, and living a care-free, relaxing life.  Oh… and of course, donate your spare money to church and charity.

God’s plan involves you making disciples, leading people to Jesus and baptizing them, and do good works for your brothers in Christ, and to your neighbors, helping the poor and the needy.

What I’m NOT saying is I’m not discouraging you from have a savings account, from having a big house.  Nor am I saying you should quit your job and be a missionary  But…Deep down, and intuitively, when you look at this plan, you know which plan you’re on, which plan has been your focus.  Is it that plan, or a plan focuses on your children, on your retirement, on having fun?  Are mentoring disciples, reaching out to people and show them Jesus, helping the needy and weak something you do on your spare time?  Only when it’s convenient?  Or are they your primary focus where the majority your energy goes, and these other stuff, which are not bad nor evil, what you do on your spare time?

The difference between people who’re on God’s plan and people who’re on their own plan lies in two key words:  repentance and surrender.

<The plan requires surrender>

Repentance and Surrender are the fine print of the gospel.  And they’re really two sides of the same coin.  But let me assure you of this:  There is No forgiveness without repentance, and there is no salvation without surrender.  <repeat>

<repentance>

A little notes about repentance.  What I hear, if ever, about repentance is this: “admit that you’re a sinner.”  And what’s the definition of ‘sin’?  Missing the mark?  Not being perfect?  Well, by that definition….(it’s like admitting that you breathe)  Everyone knows you’re not perfect.  If you know anything about repentance Jesus preached, you know that it’s not admitting.  Real repentance is going back to Genesis 3, and reverse that, putting that fruit back onto the tree.  God makes your rule.  God makes the plan for you.  God calls the shots.  Where you live, where you goto college, which major, which job, which spouse, who can you date, what can you watch on TV, computer, and theater, music you listen to, car you drive, where you spend your mola, what words come out from your mouth.

<surrender>

If you know anything about the salvation Jesus preached, you’ll know that salvation is NOT free. It costs you everything.    Turn with me to Luke 14.

Luke 14: 25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

I love my wife, I love my daughter, and I love my parents.  I do nice thing for them to show them I love them.  But what Jesus’ is asking is that my love for them, in comparison to my love for Jesus, my passion for His will and plan, is all the way down here.  Jesus is way up here.  There’ll be times when people you love tell you you’re too radical, too churchy, too extreme.  But Jesus is looking for people who’d go after Him with such extreme passion.  He wants you to go all in.  Look at next verse.

27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

In Luke 9 and Matthew 16:24 Jesus says “24 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his daily cross and follow Me.”

What does that mean?  Imagine you pick up your cross, and you start to follow Jesus.  Where’s He going?   He’s going over that hill to be executed!!  And so are we if we’re to follow Him.  Apostle Paul says in Romans 6  “How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, (skipping down to version 6) so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him<STOP> in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

Then in Galatians 2:20, Paul says 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  Colossians 3:3 says “ For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

That’s really what it means to deny ourselves.  Denying ourselves simply means “If the Spirit wants me to spend my money to help the poor, but I want to spend my money buying a house, I choose the Spirit.  If God wants me to spend my time mentoring the youth, but I want to work extra to get promotion, I spend my time with the youth.”   Why?  I deny myself because I’ve died.  Dead corpses wouldn’t want no house or car or game, wouldn’t it.  We call moving corpses zombies.  No one likes them.   I’ve given up everything, every right, every plan for myself, every desire to Jesus.  They’re nailed on the cross now.  And EVERYTHING is the cost to follow Jesus.

Jesus used 2 parables to describe this:  He said in Matthew 13:44.  44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  45. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

What did they do?  They sold EVERYTHING.  say ‘everything’ with me.

That’s the cost of salvation.  and Jesus had no desire to hide that from people.  In fact, He tells them up front.  He says “if you want to follow Me, you better know what you’re getting into and count the cost.”  Turn back with me to Luke 14.

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Why does Jesus tell us to count the cost?  Because it’s not free to follow Jesus.  Salvation is not free.  It’s costly, it’s hard.  Jesus says “I don’t want people, on an impulse, get emotional, decide to follow Me without counting the cost, and then quit half way.  I don’t want people who’re half way in and half way out, semi committed, testing the water.  I don’t want lukewarm people.”  Then Jesus describes those who’re in half way, who haven’t counted the cost.

34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. ”

He compares those people to tasteless salt.  He says tasteless salt is less useful than soil (dirt = grow stuff), and … manure (crap! fertilizes).  He really doesn’t know what to do with you.  He says if you’re like tasteless salt, and you’re standing in a pile of manure, “get out of my manure!! you’re ruining my manure.”  He can not find any use for you.  You’ll be thrown out.

And at the end, He says “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”   I love that.

<Fear of surrendering.>

Now that you’ve heard, and you know the cost Jesus asks you to pay, you’re now facing with a choice.

What’re some of the fears people have from surrendering to God and His plan?  One of the common ones I get is:  ‘oh.. I know if I surrender, God’s going to make me sell everything and goto Africa and be a missionary.”  or “God’ll make me celibate.”  “God’ll make me do the things I hate and dread the most.”

I’ll tell you that most of the time it’s not like that.  Just imagine my daughter (when she’s a bit older) comes to me, hugs me and says “daddy, I love you, today, I’ll do whatever you ask, no question ask, total obedience”.  And I run to my wife and say “honey, wow. this is what Tiara said, she loves me.  Hey.. what’s the thing she hates doing the most?   mwahhaha  let’s make her do THAT”.  Isn’t that just sick?  God’s not like that.  Unless it’s absolutely necessary, God will only ask you to do things WHEN YOU’RE READY.  (I used to dread public speaking)

Fully surrendering to God is a decision to put God’s will and His plan for you above yours and it’s a direction.  When we surrender, we surrender all and we LEARN what this all entails as we mature in Christ (Church, fellowship, worship, repentance, prayer, etc.). It’s like getting married.  You have to commit everything up front (I’m forever yours, till death do we apart), and then you learn.. “oh.. I will continue to love her in her mood swing?  I did say that.  I will continue to serve her and pursue when she’s ill or has family issues?  Yes”.  And sometimes, we do struggle to love our spouse, and it takes time to work things out.  Same with your walk with Jesus.  We can struggle to surrender certain things and plans, but since we’re moving in a direction toward God, we’ll get there.

<Rich young ruler.>

I’ll close with this.  Remember the story of the Rich young ruler?  He came and asked Jesus how to get eternal life and Jesus said “just admit that you’re a sinner, acknowledge I’m the Messiah, and say the sinner’s prayer.”  No.  He cut straight to the chase.  Sell everything and give them to the poor and then follow me.  He doesn’t mess around.  The Bible says the man left.  Face.  Sad.  He’s afraid that following Jesus would make him poor.  His lifestyle, all that he’s worked for, everything would change.  Who wouldn’t?  He couldn’t let go.  That’s understandable.  But little did he know that had he given up everything and follow Jesus, he’d be richer than he’d ever imagine.

Not only would he change his community by building up shelters and food banks for the poor, he’d be one of the 70 ppl Jesus sent to towns, 2 by 2.  And they’d come back, face gloating with JOY.  “Master!!  We casted out demons!!  We healed the sick!!  That’s freaking amazing!!  You’re amazing!!.”  He’d be one of the 120 people in the upper room, receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tonques, witnessing Peter converting 3000 people.  He’d be one of the 500 people who witnessed the resurrected Jesus!  How much money would you pay to witness that?!  He’d be like the early apostles, who went all over the places, preaching, healing, perform miracles, making disciples, changing lives.  He’d have built so much treasure in heaven.  And at the end, he would have heard his Master said to him “well done, good and faithful servant.  Come join your master.”

Guys, this is my biggest fear.  It’s what kept me up at night at times.  That at the end of my life, I’d be in my bed, looking back.  I’d have a good family, money, fun, friends.  I’d have served at church when I could, and probably made some impact.  But.. I knew I’ve been holding something back, I know I’m not on God’s real plan me.  Times and again I refuse to let go when He call me.  Times and again I deny His call because I got scared.  I could have lived a life that’s filled with Him and His hands.  Could have…

Will you stand with me?   This message speaks to 3 types of people.  First is people who have surrendered to Jesus before, but today, God showed you that you’re holding something back, today, God show you that you’re not on His plan anymore, you’ve somehow gotten back to your plan.  I in no way want you to doubt your salvation.  But you need to repent.  2nd, is people who’ve never surrendered to Jesus before, you might have said your sinner’s prayer, but you never knew this is the cost.  and today, you want to declare that you’re fully His.  His plan is your plan.  You’re surrendering.  Do we have anyone here today who want to make that declaration?  and lastly, are people who have counted the cost, but you’re not willing to surrender.  It’s fine, and it’s good to be honest with God and with yourself.  And today, Jesus is showing you which side you’re on.  Don’t fool yourself.

———-

Intentionally leaving out some of the verses and questions that need to be answered to pastor Mike.

<isn’t salvation free, a gift, all by His grace?>   <didn’t Jesus say in John 3:16 that all we need to do is to believe?>  <romans 10:6?>  <eph 2:8-9?>  <the guard in Acts>

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