Thursday, 31 May 2007

Evangelistic Talk

Below is a talk that I gave to about 55 year 7-9 kids from my church's youth group. I took a fair bit of this talk from the just stop and think video, and I tried to shape it around Colossian 1:16-23, but I am not sure I pulled that off. At the end they each got a little card with the general outline on it to take away. So below is generally what I said.

Hey there, how ya going. Now I have to confess that I don't know what you have been told about tonight. I don't know if you regularly attend the youth group or if you have been dragged along by a friend for the first time. I don't know if you were told that tonight there was even going to be a short talk. But for whatever reason you are here, I am glad that you are.

I don't know where you are at tonight with this Jesus, God and this religion thing, but where ever you are at, what I am going to tell you is for you. Its for you because you are somebody who God has created and also because nobody is perfect. What I want to tell you tonight is the central message of Christianity. Its all about Jesus and the message that comes from the bible.

Now I am going to talk to you tonight about three things. (1) A Problem, (2) a Solution and (3) a Response.

The problem that I am going to talk about is with us. We are not perfect we have all broken God's rules. The solution for us is Jesus. God sent His own son Jesus to die for us and to take our punishment for us; and the response is how you react to this message.

What do you think of Jesus? Or the bible? Do you feel uneasy? Do you feel like I am trying to take something from you? Like your fun or freedom? Some people feel that, but its not really like that. The message of the bible isn't about God taking something from you. Its about how God wants to give you something. There are many people out there that don't like what the bible has to say, as they feel it limits what they can do and makes them feel bad. But maybe its not the message of the bible that is the problem, maybe the problem is with us and that we don't want to hear that we are doing the wrong thing. But the main point of the bible is that we can be made good and pure and right.

Now in the bible God gives us some guide lines on how we are to live. The law is there so we can live correctly, and you probably have heard of the commandments "Be faithful in marriage. Do not Murder. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Respect your father and mother". These laws are there because the world would be a better place if we were just honest with each other and if we treated each other fairly. Jesus summed up the law saying that we are to love God and to love others.

And we know these laws, we know they are necessary, in fact we get annoyed when a person breaks them. We have a sense of what the world should be like and we get upset or angry when the world doesn't meet that standard. We see and hear about things that upset up us and we almost want the justice of God to come down upon them. For example today in Perth an autistic 18 year old was bashed on a bus. How do you feel when you hear that story? Or on Monday it was found in the NSW Supreme Court that a man and his son planed to kill the grandad in the family to get the inheritance. What do you make of that story? You just have to quickly scan the news headlines to see that there is a problem with this world. Something is wrong.

It is easy to point the finger with those type of stories and to point out who is in the wrong, but it gets harder when we look at ourselves and realise that we are not perfect. We do things that we are wrong. The bible says that we are hostile in our minds and that we do evil things. So here is the problem: We have broken God's rules.

You may have this idea that you are better than others. Your idea about getting into heaven maybe kinda like when you get told that you have a test at school. You look around the class and see some people that aren't as bright as you, and you feel a bit better about the test, because you know that at least you will beat those people. And you might have a similar idea about God; that one day he will line us all up and half the people on one side God will say "You guys are alright" and the other half he says "you guys have been pretty bad". But it doesn't work that way at all. God doesn't just take an average. God gets his law and judges us against that. And as he goes through his law with us, it won't take that long for him to work out that we have broken them. The bible says that no one is perfect, not even one. When we stand before God we will be seen to be in the wrong. We have broken God's rules.

So think about this. God created you and me, he gives us these laws and we break them. So at the end of our lives he has every right to punish us in how he sees fit, as he is the ruler and creator over everything. So if our lives ended with His anger on us, that would be right and fair and just. God is not the Judge that says to the guilty "It's ok, as long as you tried your best. Everyone has their off days" How do you think the victims of the crimes would feel if a judge said that? If he just let the punishment slide, where is the justice in that? We have broken God's rules, and God is just judge so a punishment has to be given to us, because we are not perfect.

But you know what? If you don't hear anything else I say tonight, hear this: despite everything you have ever done in your life, God loves you, in fact He doesn't want to punish you. In the greatest act of love ever, God had his son come down to earth in the form of a man and be nailed to a cross, to take away our punishment for us. You and I are the guilty ones that had broken God's laws, but God has his own son, Jesus punished for us. Jesus made us blameless. So here is the solution: Jesus. Jesus took our punishment for us, so we can be made right with God.

But why would God do that for you and me? The bible says its because he loves you that much. The God of the universe loves you. Think about this for a bit. Think of the person who is most dear to you and picture them dying on a cross that they are nailed to. It is horrible, horrible thing to think about, it is even sicking to think of it. But God put his Son through that for you and for me. Now it feels good to be loved by someone, but think about how intensely God loves you. He sent His Son for you, to die and take the punishment for you. But I also don't want you to pity Jesus, to feel sorry for him, to think "poor guy, he got killed horribly." Jesus himself said that no one takes his life from him, that he gives it up freely. Jesus gave His life so that we may live. To be loved that much makes life worth living.

So you have to make a choice because God wants to know you. No matter what you have done in your life, God wants to know you. But you have to choose to accept him. At the end of your life, you don't get a self-survey and are asked how you think you lived and you reply something like "I did ok, I stuffed up a little here, but overall I was alright". It doesn't matter how we think we are. We are not going to stand in front of God and convince Him that we deserve eternal life. It is God who does the assessment. He decides how we are, based off His law. And we are not going to pass, we are not going to be found innocent.

But the thing is, its the same God that finds us guilty is the same God who is saying, "I want to forgive you, I sent my Son to die for you". You may of heard the John 3:16 passage: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life". Do you believe in Him? Because the flip side of that message is that if you do not believe in Him, you will die. But what I am saying is that God loves you and wants you to believe in Him.

And all you have to do is say to God "Yes, I want to follow you. I understand that I have done wrong towards you, I thank you for your Son who took the punishment for me. I want to live my life in a relationship with you".

But don't just say those words and not mean it. Don't just continue along in life not thinking again about God and treat believing in Him like it was an item on your to do list that has been crossed off. Jesus said "if you really loved me, you would listen to me". Becoming a Christian is an act of trust. You say "I trust Jesus, he has done everything for my good. He has given me life, his laws and his forgiveness. So I believe his commands as they will be for my good" and that will show in your lifestyle.

So we have seen that there is a problem with us. We have broken God's rules and so deserve punishment for our actions. The solution is Jesus and how he took the punishment for us, so now we are seen a pure and blameless before God. And a response in faith is to trust in Jesus, to follow and obey him.

So please think about this tonight, don't just forget this message and head onto ice skating or whatever. Have a think about what was said tonight. If you have any questions please ask me, or another leader, or your friend who brought you tonight. I'll be in the grandstand for the first 20 or so minutes, or you could then grab me while on the ice. But please don't just forget this message straight away.


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