River Church NOLA
March 31 Share Your Testimony
  • PRAISE IS RISING
  • Set A Fire
  • We Are Hungry
  • Intro
    As we approach Easter, we have been talking about asking God whom you should invite to church Easter Sunday...
    Tonight we want to talk about another way to see people come to faith in Christ.

    Never underestimate the power of your testimony.

    A witness is simply someone who told what they have seen and heard. A lawyer is someone who argues a case. We were not told to be lawyers, but witnesses. Your testimony is worth more than all the well organized arguments. You will always find someone who can out argue you, but no one can dispute what God has done in your lives.
    It’s not that a well thought out plan of salvation is bad… it’s good and we all should memorize the basics of one so that we can tell people the basics of the faith, but anyone can share what God has done in their lives.
    The Bible says that the early Christians overcame the devil by the blood of the lamb (Jesus) and the word of their testimony. And in these last days, we will overcome the devil be the word of our testimony.
    Listen, you don’t have to be a theologian, or even a mature Christian to share your testimony. Remember the man born blind. Jesus healed him on the Sabbath and it infuriated the Pharisees. The asked all sorts of questions to the man. His parents even dodged the questions. He finally said, I can’t answer all those questions…
    John 9:25 NLT
    25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
    That shut them down because they could not argue with the fact that he could see.
    Here is a possible outline for a testimony from the Apostle Paul.
    Ephesians 2:1–10 NLT
    1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
    In these 10 verses, Paul deals with your past guilt, your present grace and your future glory. It actually might provide a good framework to put your testimony into.
    Let’s look at who you were before you became a Christian… a follower of Jesus.

    1. What you were: Your past guilt

    - Without Jesus you were dead

    Ephesians 2:1 NLT
    1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.
    When you get saved, you need more than your sins forgiven. Paul says that you were dead in your sins. If you forgive a dead man, he is still dead.
    Why are we dead?
    When Adam sinned, he died. God told him that he would die if he ate the fruit of the tree of good and evil.
    Genesis 2:17 NLT
    17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
    Even though he physically lived a long life, he died when he sinned. The Lord left him at that point. We know that in HIM is life...
    John 1:4 NLT
    4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
    So when the Lord left Adam, he died. So because of Adam, every man and woman born was born spiritually dead.
    Romans 5:12 NLT
    12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
    That’s why Jesus said that he came to bring life...
    John 10:10 NLT
    10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
    So before you were saved, you were dead in your sins.
    Jesus gives life. He did it when he was on earth and he still does today. While he was here, he raised three people from the dead.
    The first was Jairus’s daughter. Mark 5:38-42 and Luke 8:48-55 . Jesus walked in there and looked at that little girl and said sweetie, get up and she did.
    Second, he raised the dead son of a widow. Luke 7:12-15. He had recently died and Jesus stops the funeral procession and raises him from the dead.
    Third he raised Lazarus. John 11:38-44. Remember when Jesus told them to roll the stone back? They all said don’t because he’s been dead 4 days and he stinks…
    Let me ask you. Which one of these were the most dead? They were all just as dead. Dead is dead and that’s what every man, woman and child is after the age of accountability… dead. That’s why we have to have a burden to reach people and to see them come to faith in Jesus.

    - Without Jesus you were devilish

    Ephesians 2:2 NLT
    2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
    Obeying the devil. When you are spiritually dead, you are obeying the devil. People will say that they want to do their own thing, but that’s not the way it works. You are serving someone… either the devil or the Lord.
    You are not free to live life until you know Jesus and he has set you free.
    John 8:36 NLT
    36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

    Without Christ you were disobedient

    Because dead people obey the devil, they disobey Jesus…
    Ephesians 2:2 NLT
    2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
    People are inherently disobedient and rebellious. All you have to do is to put up a sign… wet pain… don’t touch and someone will touch it. How may of you really go the speed limit… 70 means I can go 80? Look at the commotion over wearing face masks during this pandemic.

    Without Jesus you were depraved

    You were morally corrupt.
    Ephesians 2:3 NLT
    3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
    Everyone who has ever been born follows the desires and inclinations of their sin nature. Look at this
    Psalm 51:5 NLT
    5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
    Psalm 58:3 NLT
    3 These wicked people are born sinners; even from birth they have lied and gone their own way.
    A baby can make you think something terrible happened and all they want is for you to pick them up… they learn to deceive us before they can even walk.
    That’s the way you were before you knew Jesus. You can fill in the details with your own story. But remember, you were dead, you were devilish, and you were depraved. That’s true of all of us. That’s past guilt.

    2. What you are now: Present Grace

    Ephesians 2:4–7 NLT
    4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
    This deal with our present or saving grace and what God did for you when he saved you.

    - You are restored

    God restored you! He gave you life. You were dead but the Bible says that he gave you life…
    Ephesians 2:5 NLT
    5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
    Salvation comes from the Grace of God. You were dead and could do noting about it. Do you think that Lazarus, while he was in that grave could do anything about being dead? Of course not. What about the little girl? No! Or what about the widow’s son? No. When you are dead, you are dead and cannot do anything about it.
    Listen, we come to him because he comes for us.
    1 John 4:19 NIV84
    19 We love because he first loved us.
    He loved us first. If God did not take the initiative we would all still be lost.
    Let me ask you a question. If Lazarus were right here how would we raise him? 4 E’s

    Four Ways We Try to Give Life

    Example
    Example - we might show him what it means to live… stand up… sit down… eat…
    Salvation does not come by learning the lessons of life, but by receiving life from the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus is an example for the saved and living, not for the dead. You can’t raise a dead person by example.
    Environment
    Let’s keep Lazarus in a room full of people who are alive and that will make him alive. This is the way many people try to deal with the sin problem. You put a dead man in a room of living people and he will still be dead.
    Environment is not the answer. Adam was in the best environment ever, the Garden of Eden, and he brought death into the world.
    Encourage
    We could all encourage him to live. Come on… you can do it… you have it in you…
    That’s what a lot of people do. They want to encourage dead people to do better. Encouragement is good, but we encourage the living. Dead people need new life.
    Education
    Educate him and he will come back to life. give him 10 steps to living… That won’t work.
    This is what the world tries to do… example, environment, encouragement, and education… Do you know what it takes for a person to be saved? born again? A miracle.
    Your salvation is as big of a miracle as Jesus walking out of the grave.
    The next thing Jesus does for you…

    - You were raised

    When Jesus saves us, he doesn’t leave us in the grace - dead. He raises us up.
    Ephesians 2:6 NLT
    6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
    He spoke to Lazarus and he came out of the grave. He gave Lazarus his life back but also gave him freedom to leave the grave.
    Jesus gives us power to leave the grave too.
    “He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free.” Charles Wesley
    God gives you and I strength and power to live the Christian Life day by day. Without that power we would not make it. Thank God he has restored us and raised us.

    You are resting

    Ephesians 2:6 NLT
    6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
    We get to sit with God because of His grace. People who don’t understand this are constantly working to gain God’s favor and earn their way into heaven.
    Too often when you ask someone of they are a Christian or if they are going to heaven, they will say, “I’m trying as hard as I can.” It’s not about trying. It’s about trusting and resting in the Grace of God.
    Paul says that we are sitting in the heavenly realms next to God. IN a way, you don’t have to wait until you die to go to heaven, you are seated in the heavenly realms right now. That’s home.
    The heavenly realms is a sphere of victory where you as a Christian live each day. Jesus is there too.
    Ephesians 1:20 NLT
    20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
    Do you know what Jesus is doing? Resting in HIS finished work he completed at the cross and the resurrection. Have you learned to rest in the Lord? If you haven’t you need to.
    Do you know where Paul was when he wrote this book? Prison… not a good one either. But you don’t get the feel of prison, you get the feel of heaven because Paul is full of peace and joy and it spills out onto his writing.
    We have been restored, raised and rested. This is what Jesus is doing for us right now. Let’s look at what he will do…

    3. What you will be: Prospective Glory

    Ephesians 2:7 NLT
    7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
    Ephesians 2:8–9 NLT
    8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
    God is going to use you as an example for the rest of time into eternity. You may feel liek a failure, but you are a trophy of grace.
    God wants to show his exceptional love and grace to us for all to see.
    What’s the purpose of ...

    - It’s a saving grace

    What’s God’s purpose in Grace?
    Ephesians 2:8 NLT
    8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
    If you could be saved by your good works, you and I would brag about it. But since we are saved by Grace, we have to give God the glory for it. All Glory and praise go to Jesus.
    You are saved and maintain by Grace. Some believe that you are saved by grace and works. If that were true, then Paul was wrong when he said,
    Romans 11:6 NLT
    6 And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.
    You and I are saved by the pure Grace of God.
    Chain - If you are suspended in the air by a chain with 10,000 links of steel, but one is made of crepe paper, how safe are you? Not safe
    If any part of the salvation chain depends on you or on me, we won’t make it. At our best we are imperfect. I would not trust the best 5 minutes i ever lived to get me into heaven… It’s by GRACE. If you could earn salvation, it would not be a gift.
    Romans 4:4 NLT
    4 When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned.
    God would owe you wages and we know God doesn’t owe anyone.
    Romans 11:6 NLT
    6 And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.
    God is not keeping score on you to see if you make it. You are not saved based on what you do, but on what Jesus did.

    It’s a sanctifying grace

    Grace not only saves us, it sanctifies us. It causes us to grow more and more like Jesus.
    Ephesians 2:10 NLT
    10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

    It’s is surviving Grace

    It’s a sure Grace

    Conclusion
      • John 9:25TLB

      • Ephesians 2:1–10TLB

      • Ephesians 2:1TLB

      • Genesis 2:17TLB

      • John 1:4TLB

      • Romans 5:12TLB

      • John 10:10TLB

      • Ephesians 2:2TLB

      • John 8:36TLB

      • Ephesians 2:2TLB

      • Ephesians 2:3TLB

      • Psalm 51:5TLB

      • Psalm 58:3TLB

      • Ephesians 2:4–7TLB

      • Ephesians 2:5TLB

      • 1 John 4:19TLB

      • Ephesians 2:6TLB

      • Ephesians 2:6TLB

      • Ephesians 1:20TLB

      • Ephesians 2:7TLB

      • Ephesians 2:8–9TLB

      • Ephesians 2:8TLB

      • Romans 11:6TLB

      • Romans 4:4TLB

      • Romans 11:6TLB

      • Ephesians 2:10TLB

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