I read the horrific story today of a young woman being stoned to death by a group of men—including her own father. She was accused of adultery, led to a hole in the ground, and placed there with a rope tied around her neck, pleading for her life.
This horrific event was captured on video, and according to the article, “Because the leader of the mob is the woman’s father, the man most shamed and humiliated by his daughter’s alleged transgressions, he is awarded the group’s highest honor: the biggest stone to cast and deliver the death blow. The video fades to black before the father releases the stone.”*
These men were ISIS militants, a group that has become infamous for beheading journalists and performing acts of terror.
As this poor young girl called out to her father, begging him for forgiveness, he coldly replied, “Don’t call me father!”
Have we heard a story like this before? As a matter of fact we have, but it took place 2,000 years ago.
Instead of ISIS militants, there were religious Pharisees, who cast a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus Christ. Jesus quickly surveyed the self-righteous and bloodthirsty group of men. Then He did the following.
“Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:6–8 NIV).
What do you think he wrote?
No one can say with certainty, but my suggestion would be that Christ wrote the “secret sins” of these men, starting with the oldest, and ending with the youngest. That is why they then left.
That’s probably because the oldest guys had more to confess than the younger ones. Whatever the reason, all of the would-be rock-throwers left the scene after Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
So, here was this woman, left alone with Jesus. He did not pick up the biggest stone and execute her like the man in the news story I quoted. Instead, He forgave her.
“At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin'” (John 8:2–11 NIV).
The Bible doesn’t say much about this woman’s background or character. She might have fallen into sexual sin for the first time that day. Then again, she might have had a reputation for being easy and sleazy. Either way, she was now facing the stark consequences of her action.
What she needed in that moment wasn’t a critic, a judge, or the cold curious stares of those who looked on.
She needed a Champion.
She needed a Rescuer.
She needed a Savior.
And she found that, and more, in Jesus.
Maybe you have had to face the consequences for your actions of late.
Perhaps, as the Bible says, “Your sin has found you out.”
That unplanned pregnancy.
That wrong thing that you did.
Jesus does not want to condemn you, but He will convict or convince you of your sin so you can find real and lasting relief.
If you will turn from your sin and ask His forgiveness, He will forgive you of all your sin and then say to you, “Go now and leave your life of sin!”
You might ask, “When did this woman believe?” Probably right after Jesus turned away her accusers. She had never met anyone like Him before.
He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” That word, “woman,” probably wasn’t the word she was expecting. She’d most likely been called a lot of things in her life—hooker, whore, slut, trash—but never “woman.” The word as Jesus used it was a polite term of respect. It would be like saying, “Ma’am,” or “Lady.” In fact, it’s the same term He used to address His own mother as He hung on the cross. So He said to her, “Woman, lady, where are those accusers of yours?”
Why did He say that? She certainly hadn’t been acting like a lady. No, but He didn’t just see her for what she was in the moment. He saw her for what she would become. He knew that her life was going to change. He knew who and what she would be as the years went by.
God sees the same in you right now. Not just what you are or what you were, but what you can be when you put your faith in Him.
He said to her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” In the New King James Version He tells her, “Go and sin no more.”
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can now personally know and walk with the God who created us. Because of what Jesus did, we can now refer to God almighty as “our Father who art in heaven.”
In contrast to the man in the story who said to his daughter, “Don’t call me father!” your Father in heaven wants to hear from you.
*Here is the article from the NY Post that I referred to.
This weekend, Dinesh D’Souza will be our special guest speaker.
Dinesh is one of the leading thinkers and speakers in the country today. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and National Review. He has appeared on TV programs, such as The Today Show, Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, and many others. He speaks at top universities and churches across the nation every year, and has also debated many atheists, including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
He has written a number of books including: What’s So Great About America?, What’s So Great About Christianity?, and Life After Death-The Evidence.
This Sunday morning, He will speak, and I will interview him and ask him those hard questions that non-believers ask, as a part of our Crossover series.
If you have questions you would like to ask, e-mail them to Greg@harvest.org.
You can come and join us in person for one of our services, which will be at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., 11:45 A.M., and 5:00 P.M. You can also watch the live webcast at Harvest.org.
You can download it today for free!
After several months of work from the Harvest web programmers and designers, we are launching our new “Harvest: Greg Laurie” iPhone app. We’ve tried to take our best web content and pack it into one place to help you “know God” and “make Him known” to others. It is unlike any other Christian app I’ve seen. Let me give you a “sneak peak” of what you’ll find when you launch it.
The app includes all of my recent “Messages.” You can play messages from my Worldview and Essentials series in both audio and video formats, as well as Parables from the Beach videos and A New Beginning radio programs.
You’ll have easy access to my daily devotions, so that every day you’ll find fresh inspiration to help you walk with God.
What really makes this app unique are the “evangelism tools” designed to proclaim the gospel and help you share your faith with others. There are videos to share, including a gospel message, first steps for new believers, and answers to tough questions. You’ll learn how to share your testimony with others through a One-Minute Message. We’ve also included Scriptures to memorize and strategies for sharing your faith with people from other religions. If you help lead someone to the Lord, they can register their decision and request a New Believer’s Growth Packet directly from the app.
Finally, you’ll be able to get “Connected” to all of our social network feeds. You can also share content from the app with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or by sending an e-mail.
I hope you like the new iPhone app and find it a useful tool to help you draw closer in a relationship with Jesus Christ and for sharing your faith with others.
You can download it for FREE on iTunes: here.
If you like our new app, make sure to write a review in the iTunes store. We are also working on apps for Android phones and one optimized for the iPad. They’re coming soon!
Get your doctrine straight!
Years ago, C.S.Lewis gave this warning: “If you do not listen to theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones.”
If this has ever been a problem in the church, it is certainly now. Paul warned such a day would eventually come, telling Timothy: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3 NLT).
Friends, the “time” that Scripture spoke of is here. I am shocked to see how people who describe themselves as evangelicals can be so ignorant of what the Bible clearly teaches.
For a vivid example, check this out.
That is what I have committed my life to.
People who believe in Jesus wouldn’t say such outlandish things if they studied their Bibles. That is why we need preaching and teaching from the Scripture.
Right before that verse are these words: “Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with Good teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2 NLT).
That is what we are committed to each day at Harvest Ministries. This is what I have committed my very life to, preaching the gospel and teaching the Word.
James MacDonald at Harvest
It has been our privilege to have Pastor James McDonald at Harvest while he is in town getting treatment for cancer. The treatments are going well, and James has been giving an amazing series of teachings on the topic of Turning Your Trials Into Gold.
His series continues this Sunday morning at Harvest, with the remaining messages coming at our Wednesday midweek studies.
Back at Harvest
I will be back in the pulpit at Harvest next Sunday, January 25. I have been on vacation with my family, and we have had a restful time. I will be wrapping up my series in the Book of Acts called Upside-Down Living.
“There are many ways to God.”
“Jesus is just my way.”
“All religions are true in their own way.”
We have all heard statements like those before. Sometimes, even Christians who don’t understand their Bibles will say them.
Have you ever wondered how God reacts to this? It’s insulting.
I have mentioned the emergent church before. It’s a popular new movement taking place in the evangelical church that has caught the interest of many.
The emergents get it wrong
Here is a statement from one of its unquestioned leaders:
“Missional Christian faith asserts that Jesus did not come to make some people saved and others condemned. Jesus did not come to help some people be right, while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion.”
Sorry to disagree, but this is all wrong.
First of all, Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. Plain and simple.
As Paul wrote, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV).
He did not come to “help some people be right, while leaving everyone else to be wrong.” We ALL were wrong and separated from Him by our sins. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV). And only those who believe in in Jesus Christ will be saved.
Another emergent leader I quoted before writes:
“I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherence to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.”
This sounds very inclusive and loving, but it is flat-out wrong and unscriptural. We want people to become “followers of Jesus” in a biblical context!
The Bible teaches that you become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (NKJV).
Jesus plainly said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life . . . ”
Insulting the Holy Spirit
That brings us to the sin of insulting the Holy Spirit. I have been blogging about specific sins we can commit against the Holy Spirit, and I have briefly dealt with lying to, grieving, and quenching the Holy Spirit.
Now let’s consider insulting the Spirit. What is that? It’s when we reject the work He has come to do.
It is the office of the Holy Spirit to present the saving work of Jesus Christ to the unbeliever. Jesus said, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8 KJV).
But when someone refuses to accept Jesus Christ, he is really denying the very mission of the Holy Spirit and is saying that he doesn’t need salvation. They are saying that Jesus cannot save them and His shed blood was a waste! His death was unnecessary.
This is a blatant insult to the Holy Spirit of God. As it says in Hebrews 10:29, “Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people” (NLT).
To resist the Holy Spirit’s appeal is to insult God and cut off all hope of salvation.
The Bible poses this alarming question: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3 NKJV).
Tomorrow, I want to talk about how insulting the Spirit can actually lead to resisting and ultimately blaspheming Him, which is the only unforgivable sin.
Today is Good Friday! This is a special day on the Christian calendar when we remember the death of Jesus Christ for each of us on the cross. It was here that God and man were reconciled once again.
- Here at the Cross, God’s righteous demands were satisfied.
- Here, what was lost in the garden was regained again.
- Here, a crippling and decisive blow was dealt against Satan and his minions.
- Here, our Salvation was purchased.
We can never talk about it too much, or contemplate it too often. And because of this we know there is truly life beyond the grave. This is what sets our faith apart from all others.
With Buddhism, Islam, Krishna, and all the rest, you can go to the tomb of their prophets and gurus and pay your respects. But if you go to the tomb of Jesus, you will find it empty! He is alive!
The originator of a new religion came to the great French diplomat-statesman Charles Maurice de Talleyrand and complained that he could not make any converts. “What would you suggest I do?” he said. Talleyrand replied, “I should recommend that you get yourself crucified, and then die, but be sure to rise again the third day.”
I encourage you to check out our online Good Friday service today at 12:00 P.M. Pacific Time. Just go here.
Also, our very talented worship team of Billy Batstone, Steve Wiggins, and Hanz Ives have written a brand new song for this Easter weekend that you can download here for free. It is based on the message I will be giving this Easter Sunday.