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Revelation 7:1-8

All right, we are in the middle of a series called Omega, it is a study on the Book of Revelation and the End Times, we are almost at our one year anniversary with this taking at verse by verse and of course, a couple of breaks along the way. So if you have your Bibles with you today, go ahead and pull them out and turn with me to Revelation Chapter seven. We’re going to start in verse number one, and we’re going to go through to verse number eight. Today, we are transitioning into a new chapter, and I think it’s going to be exciting in wha God has to show us through this. In addition to turning to Revelation Chapter seven, here’s our religious callisthenics here. I’m going to ask if you please rise and stand in honor of God’s word for our initial and primary reading of it today. After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on the earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun with the seal of the living God. And he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm Earth and sea, saying do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of the seal one hundred and forty four thousand sealed from every tribe of the tribes of Israel. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Judah were sealed. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand from the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand from the tribe of Asher. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Naphtali. Naphtali. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Manessah. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Simeon. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Levi. Twelve thousand from the tribe of this Askcar. Twelve thousand from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand from the tribe of Joseph, and twelve thousand from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. You may be seated. How many of you guys have ever been to a play? Maybe you went there by choice, maybe you had to go. Yeah. OK. Raise your hand there. All right. You’ve been to a play. What’s that thing they call in middle that happens sort of in the middle. You know, you stretch your legs, go to the bathroom, go to the concession, stands…. intermission. Well, Chapter seven of Revelation is just that. It’s an intermission. It’s a break between Chapter six, which is the first six seal Judgement’s. We need a breather after that and Chapter eight, which is the horrid final seventh SEAL judgment. It can get easily lost in our perspective as we study chapters like Chapter six, that while God is passionately committed to justice and punishing the wicked for their sin, he’s also merciful and he’s the author of Salvation that he provides and out he provides an opportunity to escape his wrath in his son, Jesus Christ. What we see in Chapter seven is that while God is executing his wrath on the world for all of the things that have happened that are evil, he’s also responsible for one of the single greatest revivals that’s ever happened in the history of the world. And while he’s executing his justice, he’s saving countless numbers of people, ushering them into the kingdom of God. This is the mercy of the living God. An Old Testament prophet wrote this in the midst of wrath, God remembers mercy. And this speaks to the events of Chapter seven really well. So let’s dive in and take a look at it. The first thing that we want to notice about verse number one is it starts with after this every time in Revelation, these two words, every time in Revelation, you see those two words were shifting focus. We see it between revelation one and two, between three and four. We see it between five and six and now six and seven. What John, the human author of Revelation is indicating to us is now we’re sort of shifting our focus and what we’re focusing on and looking at something different. The scene, the scene focuses on the judgments that are happening to the ungodly, to the special protection that the godly are receiving from God himself. So there’s some key notables in this text. Let’s finish reading verse number one again, and we’ll look at the notables that we need to look at today. It says after this, I saw four angels standing in the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth that no wind might blow on earth or the sea or against any tree. So some key notables, number one is the role of angels in all of this, which is fascinating. Angels take an active role in what God is executing in His end time plans. And this is normal. We’ve seen this in Revelation. We’re going to continue to see this in Revelation. These four angels in particular have power over the elements of nature now something that is important to mention is this doesn’t confirm some sort of Greek mythology sort of understanding that are supernatural beings that have been placed over specific elements of creation, rather. These are agents of God that have been placed in God’s authority to execute what he wants them to do. They don’t have any authority outside of what God’s given them. This is his nature, his creation. He’s using these angels to fulfill it. And these angels simply can’t go crazy and do whatever they want. They can only step inside of the divine sovereign will of God and execute his plan. Now these angels are withholding the wind from blowing on the earth. What an interesting phenomena. If that were to actually occur right now, think about that for a second. Could you imagine the no waves on the shore? The sea would be like glass. No breeze, the trees would not be moving. No movement in the clouds, everything is deathly still. I want to look at our friend, Dr. Harris from his book The Revelation Record, he always has keen insight in his scientific understanding of of the events of Revelation, and he tries to conceptualize what this might look like. And this is what he says, as I’ll quote him. He says The circulation of the atmosphere is a mighty engine driven by energy from the sun and from the earth’s rotation. The tremendous powers involved in this operation become especially obvious when they are displayed in the form of great hurricanes and blizzards and tornadoes. These winds of the Earth make life possible on earth through the hydrologic cycle, transporting water inland from the ocean with which to water the earth. Yet the angels, only four of them had turned this turned off this gigantic engine. Now, the word holding back here in the original language of the New Testament, which is Greek, is the word Creteo. Creteo, interestingly enough, was used in several other spots in the Bible when God was restraining judgment. So the picture here symbolically of the angels holding back the wind is God is withholding the the impending judgment that’s getting ready to come. Building up its pressure like the wind wants to blow, but God is holding it back and pausing for a moment, almost like a dam that’s holding back a body of water, getting ready to burst forth. The pressure would be immense and catastrophic. Revelation chapter seven, verse two, we see a fifth angel enter into the scene. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun with the seal of the living God. And he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the earth and sea. And this is what he commands in verse number three. Saying do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. And then he goes on to list 12000 people from 12 different 12 different tribes of Israel fulfilling the prophecy that God was going to save Israel in the end times that he was going to come and that there would be people that would come to know Christ. And come to God and be redeemed. The second notable in this text is this the location of the Saints. Notice the location of the believers in comparison to what we studied in Chapter six. These believers are not in heaven they’re on earth. And the angel is holding back the pending judgments. God is pausing for mercy. Before the last most horrid seal comes seal my people. Protect them. Here’s what’s important for us to notice in all of the chaos. In all of the destruction. God has never lost control. He knows exactly where his kids are. And he never loses one of his kids. And they’re so important to him that he will withhold the impending judgment and say, go mark my kids. Let the world know who they are to keep them safe. At this point on our timeline of history, as well as every other timeline position. God always knows where his kids are at. At this point in our journey, those who died prior to the rapture of the church well they’re in heaven with the Lord, those who were alive during the rapture. They’re in heaven with the Lord. Those who got converted to Christianity and accepted Christ after the rapture. Well, if they died at the hand of one of these these are natural phenomena. Well, they’re in heaven with the Lord. Those that were martyred for the faith because they’re followers of Jesus. They’re under the altar, specifically in heaven with the Lord. And then there are those on earth. And there’s two different sections. The one hundred and forty four thousand that God is marking and sealing. And then there are on the outside of the Jewish nation, all these multitudes mentioned in Revelation seven nine is that after this, I looked and behold a great multitude that no one can number from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages. Standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed in white clothes with palm branches in their hands, God never loses his kids. He knows exactly how to protect them. OK. God destroyed the earth with a flood. These people are so far gone, they hate God. I’m done with it. But he knew how to save the eight people that loved God. God destroyed the city of Jericho, Pagan City, disgusting, too far gone. But he knew how to say Rahab in her family. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and he knew how to save Lot. When the wrath comes, it is for those who refuse to obey God and Jesus Christ. The reality is, is as followers of Christ were not appointed onto wrath. We deserve it. But Christ Jesus absorbed the wrath for all of our sins on the cross. And so now we escape the wrath. We’re not punished for the sin that we’ve done because Christ took the punishment for us on the cross. So we’re not appointed to the wrath. But let’s not get big heads about this. We deserve it. It’s a real fear that people have one that isolates them from the truth. People fear God is going to forget about them, lose them in the mix. That God not paying attention to him. But this is never the case. Sometimes we go through seasons in our life, we feel like God is silent, he’s not paying attention, maybe he’s left us on a boat, kicked us out the sea, and he could care less about us. And in our loneliness and our broken heartedness and and whatever’s going on in our life, our emotions can lie to us, convince us that God has abandoned us. But your emotions lie to you. Sometimes those moments where it feels like God is silent is actually a test. Will you be obedient even if you don’t have the goosebumps? Will you be obedient even if you don’t feel like I’m knocking down your door with blessings and all these things, will you still be obedient? Reality is, God’s never lost track of you. He knows the number of hairs on your head. Right. As I’m getting older, that’s getting easier for him to keep track of. But but here’s the reality. He knows the number of heads, hairs on your head about said heads on your hair. That’s weird. It’s a probably revelation thing. But it’s a real fear that people have God’s forgotten about me. He’s he’s lost track of me. It’s never been the case. He hasn’t forgotten about you. Certainly hasn’t lost track of you. What’s fascinating about this is we were rebels of God. At one point, we never view ourselves that way. But when we sin, we become enemies of the cross. Yes, we were. We were the we’re not the victims of the story were the perpetrators. We sinned against God’s ways. And regardless of the fact that we were once the rebels, the truth is, is that we are one of God’s prized possessions. That’s fascinating to me. He saves us, he sees us, he keeps us, he secures us. But here’s the problem. We need a find balance because we can’t put too much value on us and our inherent value. The fact that we’re prized possessions of God is more of the display of his grace to redeem sinners than it is our inherent value. We had value. We were created in the image of God. But then we welcome sin. That image became a distorted image, and we ruined everything. We actually became enemies of the cross at that point. Our value on the stock market plummeted, right? So the fact that we’re one of God’s prized possessions after we rebelled against the kingdom just shows his great mercy that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. The seal the Angels uses here in the Greek is a Safargis, it’s actually a signet ring, if you can think about of the old times, they had these clay stamps that they put on documents to the the authorized their authenticity and to make a guarantee. OK, so if you had a seal on this that you owned, if you sealed something, you owned it, you protected it. Now I want to talk about a tale of two seals. Much has been made about another SEAL. The mark of the beast. The SEAL that the Antichrist gives unbelievers who worship. Satan and the Antichrist in the in times. The worship of the beast or the Antichrist is called the beast in Revelation. Will come with great personal benefits and security. The ability to buy and sell, to travel about with freedom. We know this from the scriptures. But a vast misunderstanding of this mark of the beast has caused great delirium of fear in the church today. Allow me to make this super clear. A believer in Jesus Christ can not accidentally receive the mark of the beast. It’s not hidden in a microchip or a vaccine, although it could come via those methods. It’s not going to come by deception. Trust me, if you take the mark of the beast, you will knowingly and deliberately be both rejecting Christ and accepting the Antichrist. It will be an act of worship, it will be deliberate, and it won’t be somebody slipping something into your drink while you’re on vacation. And oops, I’m doomed to hell forever. That’s not how it’s going to work. OK. So just as Satan wants to mark his people, God is going to mark his people. And just as God always seems to do before a great act of divine judgment, God pauses, he hits the pause button, there’s an intermission. Let’s pause. And let’s seal my kids, because I’m going to save them. Let’s talk about the power of a SEAL for a moment. When God seals, you nobody can remove that seal. Nobody can challenge God’s ownership of you. Satan’s pretty powerful. Not even he can remove God’s seal off of you. This is something to get excited about. Ain’t nobody taking your seal. They can steal your car, your house. They can’t take your seal. God saves you, he keeps you, he secures you. God doesn’t lose his kids. He brings you through whatever you face, rest in his greatness, cling to his word, and the next time you’re tempted, the next time you’re tempted resist the devil with this truth, God has sealed you as a believer. You don’t have to yield to temptation anymore and deny your faith because your sealed. Revelation chapter eight, verse thirty eight, I’m sure that neither death nor life nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. This is invincibility, right? Nobody’s taken it. Yeah, Mike gets it. Come on. Nobody can take it away to God seals his kids. Then he then he gives us the Holy Spirit as a seal on to our salvation. Now, here’s what I want you to do. I need your help. OK, we’re Republic. This is how we say guarantee guarantee. OK, everybody, stay with me. Ready? Three, two, one, Guarantee. All right. So I’m going to read you three texts. And every time we hit the word, I want you to say it that way. Second Corinthians one. Twenty two. And who has also put his seal on us and given us his spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. second Corinthians five five. You guys are so good at this. He who also prepared us for the very thing is God, who has given us the spirit as a guarantee. Ephesians one 13. So the city folks know how this works in him. You also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and believed in him were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory. Do you trust the seal that God has placed upon you and kept you secure in him if you’re a follower of Jesus? Here’s the reality, OK, we’re getting down to the the bulk of this, I talked to Christians all the time, professed Christians who question. And are insecure about their salvation. They’re insecure about the idea that if their life were to expire right now, that they would spend eternity with God. So I want to take a few moments and I want to drill in on this and I want to talk about where this insecurity can possibly come from, because I’d be recking to bet that most of you have dealt with this at some point in your life, and you may be dealing with it right now. So let’s talk about some reasons why a person may be insecure about the reality that they might spend eternity with God or not if they were to expire right now. Well, the first one is. Is a case of a believer, a true believer that’s following Christ Jesus, but they lack of understanding of God’s power and authority. This can be a key contributor. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, but you don’t comprehend God’s sovereignty, as expressed in his word, his absolute power. Then you’ll no doubt express an insecurity of God’s ability to save you and to keep you. And where we question that God has forgotten about us, left us behind and may not be faithful on his promise to deliver us from the hands of destruction because of our sin shows that our faith needs to grow. How is faith good faith grows by hearing the word of God. If you come to God in Christ Jesus, you must first recognize that he can save. Does he have the power to save? Yes. Can he forgive you of all your sins? You must first recognize that he can save, that he desires to save. Amen. And then his salvation is strong. You can’t look at this as a situation of, OK, well, you know, he can save everyone else but what I did unforgivable. Now you’re doubting God’s ability to save. Which by the way, is a huge deal. Second, possible source of this insecurity. Am I really saved or not? Well, here’s another case. You have a believer, a true believer in Jesus Christ. That has a misguided and dangerous understanding that their salvation relies upon their works. OK. Hang with me carefully from front to back on this one, you theological nerds might get sideways if you don’t. If we aren’t saved by our works, then we can’t maintain our salvation by works. Let me say that again, super important, if we aren’t saved by works, then we can’t maintain salvation by works. You can’t receive Jesus by faith and then say, OK, now it’s up to me to keep this deal going. He got the initial thing going, and now I got to keep being a good person to keep this deal secure, no Galatians chapter five, verse twenty two, but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things. There is no there excuse me against such things. There is no law. The guarantee thing got to me. Here’s the deal. We all think we’re good at that list. The dashboard cam on your car shows you don’t have self-control. OK. We all think we’re good at this until Aunt So-and-so starts complaining at the. Family dinner. OK. And then all of a sudden, love and patience is not a part of the deal. Just like the type of fruit a tree bears tells you what kind of tree it is. So the fruit of your life shows if you are a Christian or not. Come on. The fruit becomes evidence of a genuine saving faith, but it’s not what saves you. So flip the script. Bad fruit or disobedience doesn’t remove salvation, but. Persistence in disobedience reveals that though a person may profess to be a follower of Christ, maybe they really aren’t. So if an apple tree produced one bad apple or two bad apples or three bad apples, what would you do? You cut the thing down? Of course not. You take the three bad apples in. Put them in a bag and give it to your neighbor. You don’t like or you throw them on the ground and let the let the scavengers get it right. You don’t cut down a whole tree just because there’s three or four bad fruit. But what if the tree constantly put out bad fruit or didn’t bear fruit at all? And you needed it to you cut the thing down and you throw it out and you re-plant. If our righteousness is as filthy rags to God, in other words, any good deed done outside of the power of the Holy Spirit is as is disqualified. Then only fruit generated by the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is found acceptable to God. Hebrews 10, 20, six, for if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin. In other words, there’s no margin for a person to profess Christ as savior and Lord. But then deliberately continue in sin now. This is where I need you to hang on to the in a genuine believer will sin. Amen. Yeah, probably did on the car ride into church. If you have kids. But here’s the difference a genuine believer recognizes their sin grieves over their sin. Confesses their sin. Prays that God will deliver them. Resist the devil and trust in the Holy Spirit to transform them, right? Yes. I messed up. And listen, sometimes genuine believers even go through seasons of habitual parasitic sin. Where they battle and they fight. But there are constantly in the mode of repenting. God help me repenting. God help me. Connecting to the vine. But a person that says they’re a believer and they persist in sin. But instead of grieving over their sin, they look for justification. They look to alter God’s word to accompany and make allowance for their sin, or they act like a victim, like is something happening to them rather than something coming from within their heart. Or they look to blame someone else for their sin. Is that the heart of a real believer? No. Believers that are simply misguided will take on the lie that they actually have so much control over the salvation process that they can undo what God did by cussing in the car right before a fatal car wreck. That’s a really weak perception of God’s grace, right? If your idea of God’s grace is that weak you clearly don’t believe that he can save someone who raped someone or someone who murdered someone. We have to believe that God’s God does the saving and that if he’s truly changed and regenerated us, then it’s our job to cling close to the cross and depend on him. Amen. The third possible scenario, you have a genuine born again believer, but they’ve been deceived by the enemy, that their salvation is not real. Sometimes this happens often to this type of internal rhetoric is stricken with condemnation. The hyperfocus on a past or current sin, if the enemy can convince you that God’s not truly saved you, then you’ll walk around denying the work of Christ in your life and you won’t be able to walk in your identity. You’ll disqualify yourself from all sorts of Christian service. You’ll disqualify yourself from ministry appointments that God’s called you to. And ultimately, this type of deception leads to all sorts of unhealthy thinking that not only put yourself back under the burden of the law, but also calls God’s ability to forgive into question. You either trust that God has the ability to save you and forgive you or you don’t. Come on. By the way, this is really important when you come to Christ, he’s not just Lord, he’s also the savior, that he has the ability to forgive and that he desires to forgive and that he will forgive. Most of the time we look and say, you know what? Good deal with all these other yahoos. You forgave them, but you can’t forgive me because I know what I did. That’s doubting God’s ability to save. You can’t come to God through Christ if you don’t believe Christ can actually save you and forgive you. This brings me to my last scenario. The last scenario is, you may not actually be a believer. That a person who is doubting the fact that they would spend eternity with God maybe is a unbeliever that’s actually being convicted by the Holy Spirit, that they have not truly given their lives to Jesus Christ. Let’s consider what may be the most worst possible scenario, someone who goes to church maybe got baptized, VBS, do all these things, but. They never really submitted to Jesus as Lord and savior, they’ve adopted some sort of form of religion. But they’re not living radical lives for Jesus Christ. Matthew, chapter seven, verse twenty. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father, who is in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name, and then I will declare to them, I never knew you depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. That’s terrifying. Yes. The idea there will be people that these are clearly like if you’re going to church and casting out demons. That’s religious activity. And you’re strolling up into heaven, you’re saying, cast out demons, healed the sick, did all these things, will maybe, was God doing these things possibly. Maybe through his divine plan, he was still orchestrating his power, even though you were off. And people are going to walk in to everything, I’m good, I was a part of so-and-so church and we did so-and-so things, I’m good. But that person may have never submitted to the lordship of Jesus confessed their sin repented and turned to Christ. And they’ll be rejected. This is one of my biggest concerns with the Christian culture of America. I see mass conversions like crazy. Oh, we had a we had an event and a thousand people got saved. What I see is mass false conversions. Thousands of believers thinking they’re safe because of their association with a church or with religious activities. The problem is, is none of these things can save your membership on a church roster. Your your a stamp from your VBS teacher that said good job, you memorized your scripture verses or your baptism by your favorite Sunday school teacher. When you’re a kid doesn’t save you. Thousands of people thinking they are saved because they are they have emotionally responded to maybe a good speech and raised their hand and thousands of people thinking they are saved because they repeated a prayer. I want to I want to. Create a comparison between a modern call to receive Christ, an altar call, if you will, an altar recall that Jesus actually did in John Chapter six. In a modern altar call, you hear things like, you know, Jesus loves you, Jesus knows you, which one way those things are true. But would you accept Jesus into your heart today? He knows what you’ve been through and he cares about you. Would you accept him into your heart everybody bow your heads and raise your hands and fill out this card before you leave? We want to let you know that your next steps as some sort of class where we’re going to actually try to assimilate you into serving and giving. Well, it’s no surprise with that sort of system that people would go on believing the rhetoric that as long as I’m associated with the church and I’m giving and I’m serving in a church, that I’m OK. But these are the religious activities, just replace casting out demons and prophesying and all that in that text. The people. But what happens and why people become disenfranchised and why we have this culture of deconstruction that’s happening right now. It’s because when the church fails them. And it will because we’re human. When the church fails, them or when all of a sudden the giving in the serving doesn’t reap the benefits that they thought they would receive, all of a sudden their whole construct of faith comes crumbling down. What they told me that this is what salvation was, what they told me that this was how it was supposed to work. I thought as long as I was going to church and giving and serving and watching online, I was OK. And their entire construct of the faith comes crashing down, they deconstruct, we have all these people going. I’m not a follower of Jesus anymore. No, you never were because you were lied to. You were assimilated into a religious system, you are not welcomed into the body of Christ. I think it’s fascinating. The whole idea of asking Jesus to come into our lives or asking him into our hearts. OK, so here’s my life. Here’s Jesus, by the way, none of you nerds look at this and say, why is my life worth as much as Jesus, the circles that are the same size? OK, just go with me, OK? Huh, huh? You know who I’m talking to. All right, so. And I love you with all my heart. OK, so here’s my life and here’s Jesus. Think about this for a second. Think about what we’re saying. Well, I accepted Jesus into my life. And listen to plenty of well-meaning people have done this so well. And I have. All right. So. What we’re doing is we’re saying, Jesus, why don’t you come into my life? Guess who’s still in control? Yeah, me. Yeah. You come into my heart, you come into my life. And then what happens if we’re still in control? Well, the minute we won’t we don’t want Jesus to see what we’re doing or hear what we’re saying. We can ask him to leave. Jesus, I’d really not like him not to see what I’m getting ready to do, so would you please exit? I invited you at church on Sunday, so I’m going to have you exit here on Friday night, and then I’m going to invite you back on Sunday morning. Isn’t that cool? It’s like our little agreement that we have back and forth. Who’s Lord? You. Rather, it’s not. Rather, it’s not me saying, Jesus, would you come into my life? It’s recognizing that Jesus is Lord over all. Whether I acknowledge that or not, and I’m simply saying, yes, I will come under your reign and I will come under your Lordship and I will recognize what is already true, and I’m not accepting you into my life so that I can kick you out any moment I want, but rather I’m coming into your kingdom where it’s your way’s or the highway. OK. This is important because there’s so many people doing it this way. And then when the institution really were accepting the institution as our lord and savior, right. Hmm. That one hurt. But when the institution fails us, all of a sudden it’s God’s fault. No, we presented a way to salvation that had everything to do with building the kingdom of a church organization rather than building the kingdom of God, which is eternal good, so much bigger than any 501(c)3. We come under his rule. We come under his reign. We do things his way. You see what I’m asking Jesus into my life. All of a sudden, when when the truth messes with my sensibilities, I can rearrange the word of God because I’m still Lord Josh lord. Hey, I’m still Lord so I can rearrange the truth. Paul didn’t mean that. That’s cultural. But when I’m under Jesus’ reign, I have to bow to the king. Amen. And it don’t matter if I don’t agree with the king or the king is messing with my sensibilities and making me all weird and sideways. It means king your way or the highway. So I asked you to transform my heart, to see things the way they actually should be. So what we have modern altar calls, and there’s this idea of I got to get as many people to respond as possible because then my numbers are high and then I can report back to my denomination that my church is doing really well and then I can stand before the church to be like five hundred people. God got saved, OK, it’s a game and it’s got to stop. Here’s what Jesus does in his altar call. I love this. Oh, John, 660. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, this is the hard thing. Who can listen to it? Like I can hear that little tone like Jesus is dropping truth bombs. He’s telling people Jesus is an upfront contract guy. Complete and utter surrender on the front end. None of this accept Jesus into your heart, and then maybe in 40 years you’ll have enough faith to do major big things for Jesus. Hey, it’s an up front. It’s an up front deal. He said, You’re not worthy to be my disciple unless you pick up your cross and follow me and your cross is literally your execution device because you’re going to die to yourself so that I may live through you. Guess what? You’re going to die to your love for money. You’re going to die for your love, for culture. You’re going to die to your love, for your own plans. You’re going to die to all those things so that I can rise up in you. And the kingdom will be expanded through you. Because it ain’t about you, it’s about Jesus. Hey. He said, if you if your love for me in comparison does not look like hate for the rest of the people in your life, then you can’t be my disciple. If you will not deny yourself and lose your life for my sake, you’re not worthy to be my disciple. Jesus is preaching these things, the kingdom over and over and over again. And the disciples, these people that were actually following and were like, oh, these things are kind of hard. Yeah, he’s asking for an upfront contract. Don’t step into this unless you know what you’re actually getting into. Watch what happens. Verse sixty six. I think this is fascinating, by the way. Kind of irony. John, six, six, six on a week. We’re talking about Mark of the Beast a little bit. Sorry, ADD, after this, many of his disciples turn back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the 12, Do you want to go away to. Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed. And have to come to know have come to know that you are the holy one of God and. Jesus version of the altar calls, he attracted all these people with these signs and these wonders because they wanted to go to a magic show. And then when Jesus started dropping truth bombs on them about the kingdom and the requirement in the surrender necessary. All of a sudden, the crowd wasn’t interested anymore. And Jesus, instead of going. Guys, guys are hurting my ego, and you might hurt my church numbers, would you please come back or soften the message a little bit? Instead, he let him go. They weren’t really they weren’t ready. They weren’t really ready to pay the cost. He let them go. And then he turned to his disciples in a bold move. If he loses these 12, he’s got no followers. And he turns to the twelve and said, you guys want to go to. I’m not keeping you here, I’m not going to make you stay. Peter got it. He said, where are we going to go? Have you arrived at that place in your life? You got nowhere else to go but the shadow of the Almighty. I got nowhere else to go. What am I going to do? You have the words of eternal life. Jesus is looking for people. That will lay it all down on the front end. The rich young ruler came to him, what did he say, you know, why won’t you come to me and, you know, just pat you on the back and rub your shoulder for a little while and tell you everything you want to hear? And maybe 50 years into this thing, you’ll sell all of your possessions. He said, go sell all you’ve got to the poor and then come and follow me. Now, is that a requirement for all of us? Not necessarily. But what he was saying was, this is an idol and you’ll never love me. You’ll never love me first. If you have all your stuff. So go sell your stuff, you’re willing to sell your stuff, then you can love me first with the rich. He walked away. Sad story, right, but at least he knew up front what it was going to cost. What do you appreciate when someone is honest with you on the front end or when somebody. Gives you some sort of sales job and then you find out all the negative stuff that’s hidden in the contract on the back end. Nobody likes that. Jesus, don’t play that way. He gives you everything up front. You’re not worthy to be my disciple unless you pick up your execution device and follow me. And we got a lot of Christians standing at the bottom of the Golgotha Hill watching Jesus go up the mountain. This is the example that I use a lot because I think it pictures it perfectly. And they want to be cheerleaders. Go, Jesus, you’re doing awesome. But he didn’t ask for cheerleader’s, he asked followers. You’re going to get your cross. Stop standing in the bottom, put your megaphone down from the bottom and cheering Jesus on. Go get your cross. Put it on your shoulder and go up the hill with them. That’s what he’s asked for. That’s the upfront contract. Is that what you’re doing? It ain’t about your plan. It ain’t about your life, it’s not about you anymore. When you follow Christ, you literally lay that down, you lose your uniqueness, you don’t lose that how God made you and you’re wiring him. He did that in you strategically. And he said, I would love and care to use it for the kingdom. I’m not saying lose your personality. I’m saying have you laid down is Jesus really number one or is he this nice little side item that you can work in whenever it’s convenient or you need him? He’s not a religion. It is a lifestyle, a radical lifestyle. It will invite persecution. You want to know how many names I’ve been called because I don’t preach soft lots. I don’t care. Because I got to stand for God someday, and he’s going to say, did you tell the truth or did you just build your church? I built your church, not my church. OK. Upfront contract. Walk away from it, if you will. That won’t mean I won’t give up on you. I’m a evangelize you. I’m going to evangelize you until you’re Sick and tired of me. Because it’s that important, is it all in? Or is it all out? There’s no gray. You’re all in or you’re all out. That’s the kingdom way. Lincoln agrees. Let’s pray.