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Why Christ Needed To Be Fully God and Fully Man

April 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Radio Program Hour 1, Radio Show

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Guest: Greg Gilbert, pastor and author, What Is The Gospel

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

What took place on this weekend 2000 years ago was the most significant event in all of history.

Jesus Christ, having lived a perfect life, offered Himself on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sin, satisfying God’s wrath and justice for our sin. And then Christ rose victoriously over sin and death three days later, thus providing the one way for all of mankind to be reconciled with God.

To accomplish His work, Jesus Christ was and needed to be fully God and fully man. This is known as “the hypostatic union of Christ.” Why is this and how can that be? And what aspects of the gospel message are sometimes overlooked by biblical Christians? And what does the Christian’s union with Christ mean?

Greg Gilbert, senior pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky and author of What Is The Gospel, joins us this Easter weekend on The Christian Worldview to answer these questions and others.

“Our Priority Must Be To Share the Gospel!” Okay, How? – rebroadcast from 11/17/2012

May 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Radio Program Hour 1, Radio Show

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Guest: Dave Gibson, pastor of missions and evangelism, Grace Church Eden Prairie

The recent re-election of Barack Obama by an electorate that also voted for the first time to legalize same-sex marriage in several states caught many Christians by surprise.  Christians are still asking: After all the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, debt- and dependency-creating policies of the Obama administration over the last four years, did America really just cast a vote that stated, “We want our sin and we want our stuff”?

The answer is “yes”.  The United States of America has now crossed a tipping point where the Judeo-Christian worldview will be the perpetual minority view.  The future looks bleak for Christians to have their views represented in the Oval Office.

Since the election, some Christian leaders have been trying to “encourage the troops” by reminding believers that God is sovereign and that believers should be more focused than ever now on “sharing the gospel”.

“Sharing the gospel” is a commonly-used, catch-all expression that we all hear rolling off the lips of Christians.  But what does sharing the gospel actually mean and how do we roll up our sleeves and do it?

Who better to answer that question than an evangelist, who spends his life sharing the gospel?  Dave Gibson is the pastor for missions and evangelism at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, MN.  He joins us this weekend on The Christian Worldview to get very specific about how each one of us can become more effective sharers of the gospel.

“Our Priority Must Be To Share the Gospel!” Okay, How?

November 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Radio Program Hour 1, Radio Show

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Guest: Dave Gibson, pastor of missions and evangelism, Grace Church Eden Prairie

The recent re-election of Barack Obama by an electorate that also voted for the first time to legalize same-sex marriage in several states caught many Christians by surprise.  Christians are still asking: After all the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, debt- and dependency-creating policies of the Obama administration over the last four years, did America really just cast a vote that stated, “We want our sin and we want our stuff”?

The answer is “yes”.  The United States of America has now crossed a tipping point where the Judeo-Christian worldview will be the perpetual minority view.  The future looks bleak for Christians to have their views represented in the Oval Office.

Since the election, some Christian leaders have been trying to “encourage the troops” by reminding believers that God is sovereign and that believers should be more focused than ever now on “sharing the gospel”.

“Sharing the gospel” is a commonly-used, catch-all expression that we all hear rolling off the lips of Christians.  But what does sharing the gospel actually mean and how do we roll up our sleeves and do it?

Who better to answer that question than an evangelist, who spends his life sharing the gospel?  Dave Gibson is the pastor for missions and evangelism at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, MN.  He joins us this weekend on The Christian Worldview to get very specific about how each one of us can become more effective sharers of the gospel.

Giving The Gospel At Christmas (previously aired 12/18/2010)

March 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Radio Program Hour 1, Radio Show

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Guest: Greg Gilbert, author, What Is the Gospel? (9Marks)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

This program was previously aired on 12/18/2010
“Gospel” is a word that is bandied about almost everywhere nowadays.  So much so that “the gospel” has taken on different meanings for different people while the real meaning found in Scripture has become unclear, even amongst Christians.

So what is the gospel?  Is it limited in scope to the “good news” that God has offered to reconcile condemned sinners to Himself?  Or does it have a much broader definition relating to good works that bring about social change and justice?  And what does it have to do with the Christian life once one is saved?

This Christmas season as you gather with family and friends, you may have the opportunity to talk with someone about the gospel.  How will you explain it?  Is there a simple way you can communicate the gospel so anyone can understand it?  What are the fundamental elements that need to be included so that you can give a faithful gospel message?

Greg Gilbert, author of the concise book, What Is the Gospel? (9Marks), joins us this weekend on The Christian Worldview to help us be crystal clear about what the gospel is, what it isn’t, and how we can better understand it ourselves so we can better communicate it to others.

Sermon Audio: Making the Last Words of Christ Our First Priority (by David Wheaton)

July 31, 2010 by  
Filed under The Latest from Our Blog

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In the midst of troubling times in the world, our country, the church, and our own personal lives, how should we THINK and what should we DO? Some of the last words of Jesus Christ before His crucifixion and His ascension give us answers to these questions.

David delivered a sermon at an old-time summer church service on the shores of Lake Minnetonka near Wayzata, Minnesota on Sunday, August 1st.  The sermon is entitled, “Making the Last Words of Christ Our First Priority” based on John 16 and Matthew 28.  Be sure to hear this 35 minute message.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

How To Be Right With God

June 9, 2010 by  
Filed under The Latest from Our Blog

We consider this page to be the most important page on our site, for there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important than being right with God.  That is what the first section of this page details.

Further down in the second section, you can read the short story of how David Wheaton (the host and editor of The Christian Worldview) was made right with God.

“What must I do to be saved?” This question was asked to one of the followers of Jesus Christ nearly 2000 years ago and is still just as important and relevant of a question for you today.  Have you ever thought about this question?  Do you know the answer to the question?

I would like you to seriously consider this question today because your response will determine how you will live your life and where you will spend eternity after you die.  So please, read this column carefully in its entirety.

“What must I do to be saved?”  Here is how the follower of Jesus answered the question:  “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

It is a simple response, but what exactly does it mean to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ”?  And from what do you need to be “saved”?  Let’s answer the latter question first.

SAVED FROM WHAT?

The Bible, which claims to be the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and entirely truthful (John 17:17; Psalm 119:160), gives a straightforward answer to what you need to be saved from:  you need to saved from God Himself.

The Bible says that God created and sustains everything in the universe (Genesis 1:1; Job 38:1-41) … including you (Psalm 139:13-16).  It is He who established the unchanging laws of nature and morality.  It is He who has ultimate authority over His creation.  It is He who desires for you to be in a right relationship with Him (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

In addition to being the Creator, God has another title — Judge.  He has established good and righteous laws for our benefit, but sadly you (and I and everyone else) have disobeyed His laws in one way or another: by lying, lusting, gossiping, slandering, envying, coveting, stealing, cheating, using God’s or Jesus’ name as a curse word, or loving someone or something more than God.  Some of God’s laws that we’ve broken are listed in Exodus 20:1-17 (The 10 Commandments) or in Matthew 5 (Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount).  If your violations of God’s laws aren’t resolved on His terms, you will stand before Him as Judge someday.

There will be no injustice in God’s court; no one will get away with any crime against Him; God has seen and recorded in His “books” every single sin ever committed and He will be completely just in pronouncing His sentence.

That is what you need to be saved from: God’s judgment and wrath.  Or to put it the terrifying way one of the final chapters of the Bible does, you need to be saved from God “throwing” you into the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

While it is certainly true that God is loving, forgiving, merciful, and gracious — as will be shown in the following sections — the Bible also presents God as being full of wrath against those who break His laws and reject His offer of reconciliation.

While many people wrongly conclude that hell isn’t an actual place, “and if it is, a loving God certainly wouldn’t send anyone there,” the Bible states clearly that God, the just Judge of the universe, has the authority, the power, and the intention of sending all those who reject His Son Jesus Christ there.  Consider the following passages from the Bible:

“He who believes in the Son [Jesus Christ] has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him [God] who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

“God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Jesus Christ] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

The concept of God sending those who reject His Son to a literal hell may seem unlikely, unfair, or even crazy to you.  Yet the Bible plainly and consistently speaks of its reality (Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10) which leaves two options: either hell is real or hell is not real.  Since nothing else in the Bible has ever been proven false — historical events, places, people, prophecies — it would be wise to take the Bible at its word — hell is real.

Being separated from God and punished in hell for eternity should cause everyone to ask, “What can I do to be saved from God sending me there?  The answer is clear: “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What does that mean though?  Does that simply mean that you believe Jesus existed like some other historical figure, like Plato, Napolean, George Washington, or Alexander the Great, or is there something more to belief than that?

To “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” is much more than intellectual assent to the fact that He existed; it means that you place your trust, your faith, your expectant hope for being saved in who Jesus is and what He did for you.

WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?

Jesus Christ is without question the most significant person in the history of the world.  The Bible says much about Jesus — that He was born of a virgin woman, that He performed supernatural acts like healing people of diseases and turning water into wine, that He was crucified on a cross and rose from the dead.  Here are a few more things the Bible says about Jesus:

Jesus is the Son of God:

“And the Word [Jesus] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus is equal with God:

“In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2).  “I and the Father are one” – Jesus (John 10:30).

Jesus is the only way to God:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” – Jesus (John 14:6).

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

WHAT DID JESUS DO FOR YOU?

Jesus is all of the above and much more.  So what did He do for you that He is calling you to believe in?

Jesus lived a perfect life so that He could offer Himself on the cross in your place as the only sacrifice that would satisfy God’s justice for your sin:

“He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Jesus died so that God could demonstrate His love for sinners and so that God’s just punishment for sin could be placed on Jesus and not on you:

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  (Romans 5:8-9).

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [i.e. satisfying God’s justice] for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

“And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of people so that you would have a living Savior and Lord:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Therefore, to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” means to place your trust, your faith, your hope in the person and work of Jesus Christ, whose sinless life and sacrificial death are alone able to reconcile the broken relationship you have created with God as a result of your sins against Him.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

So let’s go back to the very first question and put it all together: What must you do to be saved?

1. You must agree with God that you have sinned against Him and that you deserve judgment for it.  If your offenses against God aren’t settled on His terms, you will have to pay the awful penalty yourself — eternal separation from God in hell.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

2. You must repent of your sin, which means that you turn in a new direction away from your sin and commit to following God, relying on Him for the strength to do so.

“Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’ [literally, the good news about Jesus Christ] (Mark 1:14-15).

“God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Jesus Christ] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

3. You must respond to and receive God’s merciful and gracious offer to save you and place your faith, hope, trust, belief in Jesus Christ’s righteousness and His perfect sacrifice of Himself on the cross as the only payment God will accept for the sin debt you have accrued against Him and the only means of your being reconciled to Him.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:16-21).

“The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, “whoever believes on Him will not be disappointed.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek [Gentile]; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:8-13).

4. You must reject any and all of your own supposed good works as completely ineffective to save yourself and mend your separation from God — church attendance, religious activities like communion, baptism, or prayer, charitable giving, personal goodness and kindness, helping the poor and disadvantaged, good intentions, etc.

“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5).

5. You must follow Jesus Christ as your Lord (master) by obeying Him and His Words — this is the evidence of one who is saved.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation [one who satisfies God’s justice] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.  By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:1-6).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

CONCLUSION

Every human being has sinned and thus created a conflict with God — you, me, Mother Theresa, the Pope, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the apostle Paul, everyone.  You have only two choices in dealing with your sin:

1.) You can choose to accept God’s gracious offer of reconciliation by repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Jesus Christ’s sinless life and atoning death on your behalf as the only way that God’s justice can be satisfied for your sin.

Or…

2.)  You can choose to pay the penalty for your sin yourself by ignoring or rejecting or altering God’s offer of reconciliation through Jesus Christ which will result in someday your being judged guilty by God and sentenced to hell for eternity.

AND FORGET BEING GOOD, YOU MUST BE PERFECT … OR MORE PRECISELY, DECLARED SO BY GOD

No matter how good of a person you think you are right now or how good of a person you plan to be in the future, you can never be good enough to go to heaven because God’s standard is perfect righteousness and you have already failed that standard (and will again).

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10).

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” – Jesus (Matthew 5:48).

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees [those who were thought to be righteous], you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” – Jesus (Matthew 5:20).

How can anyone ever be perfectly righteous?  No one can … except if God declares you so.

To be forgiven and spend eternity with a sinless God in a sinless place (heaven), you will need to be declared righteous (justified) by God, even though you haven’t been righteous and never will be.  That can only occur when God declares that your past, present, and future sin be credited to Jesus’ account and Jesus’ perfect righteousness be credited to your account.  This “swap” (your sin paid for by Christ and His righteousness credited to you) is how God can judicially declare you righteous and allow you into heaven.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

“For if by the transgression of the one [Adam, the first sinner], death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  So then as through one transgression [Adam’s] there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness [Christ’s] there resulted justification of life to all men.  For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:17-19).

A BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURE

The following passage from the New Testament letter to the Ephesians gives a before and after picture of one who believes in Jesus Christ and is saved.

Before picture: dead in sin

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

God changes the picture…

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

After picture: saved through faith for good works

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

This passage gives the complete picture: you are dead in sin, God intervenes to save you because of His love and mercy (not giving you what you do deserve – judgment), He brings your salvation to pass by His grace (giving you what you don’t deserve – Christ’s righteousness), and you are called to receive this offer of reconciliation with God by faith alone, not trusting in any righteousness of your own.  Good works will be the evidence — not the means — of your salvation (James 2:26)

Being “saved” or “born again” (John 3:1-8) doesn’t mean your life will become easier.  In fact, you can count on being misunderstood, ostracized, persecuted, and maybe even killed for your faith in Christ.  If the unbelieving world hated Christ, it follows that they will hate His followers (John 15:18-25).  You need to count the cost of being a follower of Jesus.

But having your sins forgiven, being declared righteous, fulfilling the purpose for which you were created (to serve and glorify God), experiencing joy in the midst of turmoil, and inheriting eternal life in heaven far outweigh any temporal trouble.

Now you know the answer to the question: “What must I do to be saved?”  The final question for you is: Will you respond to God’s call in your heart today and receive his loving, merciful, and gracious offer to save you?

Remember, you are sinful and stand condemned before God, the just Judge.  Yet God loves you and desires to save you through His Son Jesus Christ, who is the only One who can mediate the dispute you have created with God.  I’m pleading with you: be reconciled to God today through repenting of your sin and placing your faith for salvation in Jesus Christ.  When you do, God will forgive your sin, He will credit you with Christ’s righteousness, He will indwell you with His Holy Spirit, and He will give you eternal life in heaven.  What could be better and more important than that?!

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

Genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be right with God.  If by God’s grace you have received this gift of faith, you must now spend the rest of your life striving to become more like your Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in thought, word, and deed (Romans 8:28-30).  That may sound like a daunting task — and it is — but God promises to give you the power and desire to do so (Philippians 2:12-13) as you draw near to God in prayer and studying His Word.  It will also be important that you become a part of a fellowship of other believers (a church) where God is reverently worshiped and His Word faithfully taught.

Please call or email us with any questions or comments you might have or to share with us your new faith in Jesus Christ.  We would look forward to talking with you more about such things as believer’s baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, finding a Bible-teaching church, and a plan to help you grow in your new life following Christ.

All for God’s glory,

David Wheaton
The Christian Worldview

Phone:  1-888-646-2233 toll-free
Email:  feedback@TheChristianWorldview.org

————– David Wheaton’s Faith Story ————

A passage in the Bible perfectly describes the before and after picture of my life:

Before: And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

After: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:1-9).

Speaking of before and after pictures, this picture of me before I became a follower of Jesus Christ is worth a thousand words.
There I am on the cover of Minnesota Monthly. “David Wheaton: A Smashing Success.

What more could a 22 year-old ask for? There they are: fame, fortune, success.

But what makes this magazine cover really interesting is the actual photograph. It can be viewed a number of ways, all perfectly representative of my life at that time:

I appear to be a prisoner behind my racquet. I’m holding a mask in front of my face. The broken strings represent my relationships with God and others. There is no joy in my countenance.

That was me before I came to know Jesus Christ: outward success, but inward conflict.

But why? How could a young man be so internally conflicted and empty when he had already attained what most people in this world seek after?

At the Grand Slam Cup in Munich, Germany in 1991, I experienced an overdose of fame, fortune, and success. I had just won the largest prize money check in tennis history in one of the biggest tournaments of the year and my success was being broadcast all over the world.

But within 15 minutes after one of the biggest moments of my life, all 12,000 fans filed right out of the stadium. I vividly remember experiencing an incredible letdown and thinking how quickly it all came to an end.

I had spent my whole childhood and teenage years practicing tennis, I had played hundreds of matches in junior, collegiate and professional tournaments, I had worked so hard just to qualify for and win this tournament, and now everyone just gets up and leaves. For the first time in my life, the brevity of earthly success hit me hard.

Yes, that week in ‘91 changed my life, but one thing is for certain: I didn’t become a happier person as a result of my big win. As a matter of fact, my life continued to become more filled with internal strife, relationship conflicts with my parents and others, and an emptiness caused by a misguided life purpose. Instead of contentment brought by fame, fortune, and success, deep down I was unhappy and unsettled.

Growing up as the youngest of four children in a close, church-going Christian family, I was clearly taught the Bible and Christian values by my parents. I knew the right way to live, but I felt like I was somehow missing out on what the world had to offer: pursuits that I later learned resulted in a guilty conscience, regret, and spiritually unhealthy relationships.

I may have thought I had a faith of my own, but my life bore very little resemblance to one who knows Jesus Christ. Cultivating a relationship with God through reading the Bible and praying, honoring my parents, and living a holy life were not characteristics of my life. My inner conflict stemmed from knowing God’s way, but living another way according to my own desires.

In the midst of my outward success and inner conflict, God allowed two things to occur in my life:

  1. He let me experience the emptiness and vanity of what the world seeks.
  2. He brought me to the low point of understanding my own sinfulness and need for a Savior.

A couple years after my big win, I began to earnestly read the Bible and study some of the biblical principles presented in a Christian seminar I had attended that year. Finally, the rose-colored glasses came off my eyes and I saw my own sinfulness.

During this time of intense study and soul searching, I confessed and repented of my sin to God and trusted in His Son, Jesus Christ as both the Savior and Lord of my life.

My life began to change immediately, though not easily. Difficult choices needed to be made between my old way of living versus God’s way. Previously, I could not reform myself from my sinful thoughts, actions, and relationships. Now, these sinful habits were being overcome through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit reminding me to obey God’s Word.

God was changing me from the inside out. These positive changes in my life gave me great motivation to continue following Jesus Christ.

During the last twelve years, a few practical things have helped nurture and deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ:

  1. A daily time with God reading the Bible and praying.
  2. Honoring the God-given authorities in my life.
  3. Spending time with like-minded Christian friends.
  4. Avoiding anything that would offend my Savior.

Please don’t get the idea that I’m perfect or sinless. But God’s goal for every Christian is that they become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. I try to keep this as my calling.

These last ten years of being a committed believer in Jesus Christ have given me the most important thing in life—something fame, fortune, success and the “passing pleasures of sin” could never offer: a sense of joy and contentment to be in a right relationship with the God of the universe when I put my head on the pillow each night. That is truly priceless.

As someone once said: “Life without Christ is a hopeless end; life with Christ is an endless hope.”

Realities Indeed

May 24, 2010 by  
Filed under The Latest from Our Blog

Realities IndeedThe gospel minister must help his people live well. But more importantly, he must prepare his people to die well. Those of us who are young and healthy can scarcely imagine what comfort the gospel of Jesus Christ provides for dear saints in their dying days.

John Newton tells a story of visiting a young woman who died too soon from “a lingering consumption.” She was wise, but plain. She could read her Bible, but had read little else. Newton supposes she never traveled more than twelve miles from home. A few days before her death, Newton prayed with her and “thanked the Lord that he gave her now to see that she had not followed cunningly-devised fables.” At this last remark the woman repeated Newton’s words and said, “No, not cunningly-devised fables; these are realities indeed.” Then she fixed her eyes steadfastly upon her pastor and reminded him of his weighty vocation.

Sir, you are highly favoured in being called to preach the gospel. I have often heard you with pleasure; but give me leave to tell you, that I now see all you have said, or can say, is comparatively but little. Nor, till you come into my situation, and have death and eternity in full view, will it be possible for you to conceive the vast weight and importance of the truths you declare. Oh! Sir, it is a serious thing to die; no words can express what is needful to support the soul in the solemnity of a dying hour.

Fellow preachers, our people are asking for living bread tomorrow. Do not give them a self-help stone. Our people may not know the weight of which we speak until they come to their end. And at that moment they will be infinitely glad they received ballast instead of blather.

How Much of the Gospel Must One Understand to Be Saved?

February 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Radio Program Hour 1, Radio Show

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TRANSCRIPT

The jailer in Phillipi asked one of his inmates, the Apostle Paul: “What must I do to be saved.”  Paul’s answer was simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

But what does it mean to “believe in Jesus”?  Here’s how some would answer: “You just have to accept Jesus into your heart.” Read more

Belly Up to the Bar to Share the Gospel?

January 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Radio Program Hour 2, Radio Show

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Guest:  Jim Stitzinger, pastor, Grace Bible Church

You probably agree that Christians are called to take the gospel to the lost but does that mean going into “dens of iniquity” like bars and nightclubs to do so?  Jesus Himself shared the gospel to the outcasts of society such as tax collectors and prostitutes so how should we follow in His footsteps today? Read more

What Is The True Gospel?

January 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Radio Program Hour 1, Radio Show

Guest: Steven Lawson, pastor, Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, AL

TRANSCRIPT

This program was originally broadcast on December 20, 2008.  Click here to listen and read preview and transcript.

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