Hello Project Ezra! I pray that you are doing well, and it is a privilege to share with and encourage you again this week. I pray that you will consider encouraging your friends and church family in sharing the gospel as well. If you are anything like me (and I’m guessing at least a few of you are), then it is much easier to share Christ with encouragement and accountability. It took an evangelism training seminar and a local public evangelism team to really get me motivated. I believe that, by God’s grace and His conviction, that I would have been led to Biblical public evangelism anyway, but it would have been a much more difficult process. I’m sure there are people around you who are wanting and waiting for that encouragement as well.
With that in mind, we are now about three weeks away from Mission Good Friday, year 5! It’s amazing to think about how much God has done and how faithful He has been over the last four years. Many have been introduced to public evangelism and street preaching, and have shared the word in public for the first time, through the working of the Holy Spirit in this group. Often I feel like I’m just along for the ride, watching what He has done in many of you and reading your testimonies, and it is absolutely thrilling! I would encourage you to step even farther out of your comfort zone, and make a point of bringing at least one other person with you this year. I’ll put together an information sheet and post it on the event page soon. I expect to put up the event page this weekend, so be looking for it and praying about who you can invite.
This week’s reading is Revelation chapter18, and talks about the fall of the wicked city of Babylon. In reading the chapter it was impossible not to see parallels between Babylon in the ancient world and our country in our day. In my case, living less than an hour from San Francisco in California, a city known for sin and particularly alternative lifestyles, sometimes I wonder if it isn’t worse today than it was then! But worse or not, there is certainly a lesson to be learned and preached to our society, particularly in the wealthy Western culture. So this week I took the example of Babylon and tried to draw some parallels with our day, and then moved the discussion to more personal sin. Don’t forget that many, though they admit they are sinners, think it’s a small thing since after all, everyone else does too. They think God can’t condemn everyone. But He could, and it is only through His grace shown on the cross that He doesn’t, so make sure that truth is clear. I pray that it is a blessing and an encouragement, and that hearts are impacted.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND THE GROUP
READ REVELATION 18
Babylon is frequently referred to in the Bible as an example of the worst rebellion against God, and the worst moral depravity
The Bible also frequently talks about the ultimate destruction that will come on Babylon because of her sin
Many of the sins that were true of Babylon are also true of our country today
We worship the gods of money and pleasure, and have little care for the things of God
If there is a natural disaster somewhere, a mass shooting or act of terrorism, we may thing about God and eternal things for a short time, or show up at church for a Sunday or two, but
then most of us will go right back to our worship of money, power and pleasure.
The Bible says that God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). It would be foolish to think that God isn’t horribly angry with our country.
If you don’t think God has reason to be angry with us, consider our country’s sin before God.
Consider our adultery. Broken marriages and families abound. Many couples live in sin and never consider marriage. The God-given institution of marriage is redefined to include same sex unions that the Bible calls wicked and pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. Yet God tells us that no adulterer will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Consider out murder. We glorify violence on television and in video games, and then wonder why our young men, who have been told by our schools that they have no purpose in life, go on shooting rampages. And in the name of choice we have slaughtered 25% of our unborn children over the last 40 years. Yet God’s word tells us no murderer, whether in fact or even in thought, has eternal life in him.
Consider our blasphemy. Misusing God’s name is so common and so accepted that we think nothing of it when we hear if on TV or in the movies, and it frequently rolls off our lips if we are frustrated or angry. Yet we know from scripture that God will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.
Consider our coveting. Our whole economic structure seems to be built on greed. What we want seldom has much to do with our needs. It has to do with our public image, with impressing our friends and neighbors, and with keeping up with the latest trends. We spend thousands of dollars on clothing, cars, and electronic trinkets while the spiritual treasures God offers are laughed at and families in poor countries, or even here in our own country, go for days without food.
One day, God will judge this country for its wickedness, as He did Babylon.
None of us know when that day will come, but even if the United States continues for a thousand years, all of you will stand before God in less than 100.
When you do stand before God, will you be good enough to enter heaven?
No. None of us will. Even if you believe you have no guilt for our country’s sins, you have plenty of your own.
You are a liar, like we all are. And all liars will one day be cast into the Lake of Fire, the second death.
You are a thief, like I am. And thieves who are judged by God’s perfect justice will not enter His kingdom, but will feel His wrath.
In truth, every man, woman and child is a guilty sinner, deserving of only God’s judgment.
But though Hell is what we have earned, our Creator is not only just, but merciful
God’s justice and holiness mean sin must be punished, so He Himself chose to carry that punishment.
Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth 2000 years ago, not to Babylon, but to Jerusalem
He came to the one city which should have immediately recognized His identity and His mission. Yet they rejected Him.
He lived a perfect life, obeyed His Father in every thought, word and deed, and then died a perfect death for the sake of His children.
The anger, hate, and wrath that we rightly deserved was put on Him, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for sin, and our debt to His perfect law was discharged.
Then He rose again, proving His power over death, and now sits in power in heaven, as our eternal mediator and high priest.
And now, because of that perfect life and glorious resurrection, you can be made right with God, through the one mediator Jesus Christ, if you will repent of your sin and turn to Him in faith.
Repentance is a change in direction, and a change in heart. True repentance is when you take your eyes from your sin, which you love and God hates, and fix them on Christ instead.
With repentance must come faith, since they are two sides of the same coin. Faith in trust placed in Christ, and Him alone, to save you from your sins.
Only Jesus Christ was, and is, God in human flesh. Only He lived the perfect life we could never live. Only He died the death we deserved. And only He rose to stand as our mediator, our advocate, with God the Father. Therefore, only through Jesus Christ can any man be saved!
My friends, have you done that? Have you turned from your sin? Have you put your faith in Christ alone?
Life is short. Psalm 103:15-16 says “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
Though we hope you will live many years, even the rest of tonight is not guaranteed to any of us.
God has been very patient to us all. It may be that the only reason you are still living is that God is waiting for you to repent and trust in Him. And He tells us that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live (Eze 18:23).
So today, while He has given you time, turn to Christ and live!