In this Easter message, the Rev. Canon J.John highlights a few of the reasons Christianity is attractive - its historical accuracy, the opportunity to be forgiven and the fact that the Christian faith really works. (Part 2 of 2)
Rev. Canon J.John: I’ve been in the ministry for 33 years. Christians are Easter people, who live in a Good Friday world.
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John Fuller: An appropriate opening for today's "Focus on the Family," with our president, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, today we're coming back to a message from British evangelist J.John, explaining four reasons why he's a Christian. And if you missed part one of his presentation yesterday, get in touch with us. It is powerful. We're offering the audio download for free today so that you can share it with a friend or a family member, certainly someone who needs to hear that Christianity is relevant and true.
John F.: And you can visit www.focusonthefamily.com/radio to get that download. Here now is J.John, speaking at an Easter service in Australia. And we're gonna start with a brief recap of what we heard last time.
Rev. Canon J.John: I’m gonna give you four reasons why I’m a Christian. In fact, I could give you more reasons, but I’m kind of, with the time that I’ve got, I’m gonna give you four reasons why I’m a Christian, four reasons why you should be a Christian. Now, there’s a very famous verse in the Bible located in John’s Gospel, chapter 3, verse 16. It says this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That little one sentence kind of captures the essence of what Christianity is all about.
The first reason I am a Christian is because Jesus Christ is alive. His resurrection authenticates (Applause) everything that He said, everything that He did. After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 days before His ascension into heaven. During the 40-day period, He taught. He neither withdrew, nor added anything that He had taught the previous three years. That is why we can believe Jesus about the past, about the present and about the future. I am a Christian because Christianity is true. (Audience response)
The second reason why I am a Christian is because I need forgiveness. I need forgiveness. I gave a whole series of lectures at Oxford University and a student comes up to me and he said, “I’ve listened to all your lectures and I’ve enjoyed them, dah, dah, dah.” And I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you know. And then he goes, this is what he said, “But personally I believe Christianity is a crutch.” I said, “Really? If you broke both of your legs, would you appreciate the use of a wheelchair to get around?” He said, “Yes, I would.” I said, “If you broke one leg, would you appreciate the use of crutches to get around?” He said, “Yes, I would.” I said, “I am broken person. So are you. I’ve never met a person who isn’t broken and I’m so pleased I can lean on Jesus while He’s putting me back together again.” (Applause)
I am a Christian because it’s true. I am a Christian because I need forgiveness. That’s why you should become a Christian, because you need forgiveness. The third reason why I’m a Christian is because Jesus did something for me and for you to clear the overdraft. So, “For God so loved the world,” put your name in there, “For God so loved John,” “For God so loved” your name in there. For God so loved you, me, He gave His only Son.” He gave His only Son. Jesus came into this world to do something for us.
I was doing my shopping at a supermarket and the lady at the supermarket on the checkout desk, she had a cross around her neck. So, I said, “Oh, hello.” I said, “You’re a Christian.” She said, “Whaaat!” (Laughter) I said, “You’re a Christian.” She said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “You’ve got a cross around your neck.” She goes, “Oh, it’s nice.” (Laughter) I looked at her name, Tracy. I said, “Tracy (Laughter), it was not nice. It was nasty.” She looks at me as though I was an alien that had just landed from another planet. (Laughter)
So, I’m putting the stuff on the conveyor belt. We’re packing. We’re talking. I said, “Tracy, listen; if I have an earring here and you said, “What’s your earring there?” “That’s a gas chamber.” “No.” “Yes, gas chamber.” (Laughter) “Why are you wearing a gas chamber earring?” I said, “Well, I want to remember how millions of Jewish people died in the second World War.” And then you said to me, “What’s your other earring?” Oh, that one there, electric chair.” “No.” “Yes, electric chair.” (Laughter) “Why are you wearing an electric chair earring?” I said, “Well, I want to remember how certain criminals got executed in the United States.”
I said, “Tracy, what would you think of me if I was walking around with an electric chair earring and a gas chamber earring? What would you think?” Well, she goes, “I’d say you’ve lost it; you’ve lost it.” (Laughter) Now so, I said, “Tracy, is that because they’re symbols of execution?” She goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I said, “So, Tracy, what do you think you’re wearing around your neck?” (Laughter) I said, “Tracy, you gotta remember this. Jesus didn’t wear it around His neck; He wore it on his back, big difference.” And we were in this huge supermarket and it’s like the whole place went quiet. (Laughter) Jesus came into this world to clear our overdraft, to clear our overdraft. (Applause)
John F.: This is “Focus on the Family” and our presentation today from J.John is available as a free audio download for you at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. And now more from J.John on today’s “Focus on the Family.”
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J.John: There was a very famous artist who went back to the very small town where he grew up and he’s walking around the stores of the little town and in an antique shop, he cannot believe it. In the front window is one of his masterpieces. It was one that he painted years before he was famous. The frame was broken. It was scratched. It was dented. The painting was dirty, but it was his. But he couldn’t go into the antique store and say, “That’s my painting. Give it back to me.” If he wanted it back, he had to buy it back before he could clean it, restore it, reframe it. Jesus bought us back. (Applause) Jesus bought us back. (Applause) Jesus came into this world and died upon the cross, because by dying on the cross, He was purchasing for us forgiveness from the past.
You know, when I experienced this, I experienced this on the 9thof February, 1975 (Sound of a snap of fingers), the light came on. Straightaway, the light came on. My heart, “Whoa! And what was that?” I didn’t know what it was. Now I know, but it was like “Whoa!” My mother said, “You’re brainwashed.” I said, “Mother, my brain hasbeen washed.” (Laughter) “If you only knew, mum, what was in my brain, you’d be pleased it got washed.” (Laughter)
It is an incredibly amazing experience to be set free from the past. You and I cannot alter the past, but we can bring the past to the altar of God. (Audience Response) And we can be cleansed and set free. I’m a Christian. Why am I a Christian? Because it’s true. I am a Christian because I need forgiveness. I am a Christian because Jesus died on the cross for me to purchase for me forgiveness from the past.
Back to our verse, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, so whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, to give you and me forgiveness from the past, new life, new life today and a hope for the future.
I love it when you read the Bible, you read about Jesus and you read about who He was and what He did and who He is, it’s amazing. So, it’s so many different images in the Bible to help us capture it. Jesus is the Bread of Life, so that bakers can understand. (Laughter) Jesus is the Water of Life so that plumbers can understand. Jesus is the Light of the World so that electricians can understand. (Laughter)
Jesus is the Cornerstone, so that architects can understand. Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness, so the astronomers can understand. Jesus is the Hidden Treasure, so that bankers can understand. (Laughter) Jesus is the Life, so that biologists can understand. Jesus is the Great Physician, so that doctors and nurses can understand. Jesus is the Good Teacher, so that educators can understand.
Jesus is the Lily of the Valley so that florists can understand. (Laughter) Jesus is the Rock of Ages, so that geologists can understand. Jesus is the True Vine, so that horticulturalists can understand. Jesus is the Righteous One, so that judges can understand. Jesus is the Pearl of Great Price, so that jewelers can understand. Jesus is Wisdom, so that philosophers can understand.
Jesus is the Word (Applause), so that actors can understand. (Applause) Jesus is the Good Shepherd, so that farmers can understand. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, so that scientists can understand. Jesus is the King of Kings, so that the royalty can understand. Jesus is the Way, so that traffic wardens can understand. (Laughter) Jesus is the Truth, so that politicians can understand. (Laughter, Cheers and Applause) Jesus is the Resurrection, so that funeral directors can understand. (Laughter) Jesus is the One! (Cheers) Jesus is (Applause) the One.
Audience: (Extended Applause)
J.John: Why should you be a Christian, you should be a Christian ‘cause it’s true. You should be a Christian because you need forgiveness. You should be a Christian because Jesus died for you so that you can have forgiveness from the past, new life today and a hope for the future.
The word “Christian” has got the word “Christ” in it. If you remove the word “Christ” from the word “Christian,” you’re left with I-A-N; Ian isn’t gonna help you. (Laughter and Applause) Now I’m sure Ian’s a nice guy (Laughter), but he ain’t gonna help you. (Laughter) You know, I meet too many people today who say, “Oh, yeah, I’m Christian, yeah, Christian.” And they’ve got more in common with Ian (Laughter) than they do with Christ.
John F.: You’re listening to British evangelist, J.John on “Focus on the Family” and you’ll find a free audio download of this program so you can listen again and share with a friend, at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let’s go ahead and return now to more from J.John.
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J.John: Think of your life like a car, just for a moment like a car, okay, the car of your life. To be a Christian means Christ is in your car, okay. So, in a few minutes I’m gonna ask you, if He’s not in your car, put Him in the car and I’m gonna want you to stand up. I want you to do that and say, “I want Him in my car.”
Now I know many of you have got Him in the car. You’ve got Him in the car. Others of you haven’t. Invite Him in tonight. Those of you that have got Him in the car, where is He? (Laughter) Do you drive your car to church, unlock the boot or the trunk, get Jesus out for religious happy hour (Laughter) and then you say, “Get back in there.” (Pshh)
And you’re going, “No, J.John, He’s not in the boot, in the trunk; He’s in the car. Where? On the backseat, a bit of a passenger. No, he’s in the front passenger seat. Ah! A bit of a companion, but still a passenger. Now you’re thinking, “Ah, we know where you’re going with this, J.John.” You don’t actually. (Laughter) But you’re thinking, he’s now gonna say, “Ah, is He in the driving seat of the car of your life?” I am actually. Is He in the driving seat of the car of your life?
Now everybody who thought, “Yes, He’s in the driving seat of the car of my life,” I have one more question for you. Are you a backseat driver? (Laughter) The car gets to an intersection. Jesus turns left. No, oh! (Laughter). I’m going down the road of generosity, (Vroom) I don’t want to be generous. (Laughter and Applause and Cheers) You know, a lot of people haven’t yet heard the “Sermon on the Amount.” (Laughter) You get to another intersection, Jesus turns right. “Where are You going?” “I’m going down the road of forgiveness.” “Oh, I don’t want to forgive her.” (Laughter)
Did you ever see the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” Yeah. (Audience Response) Well, I’m Greek. I’m Greek. When that movie came out friends of mine said, “John, is it true? Is it true?” I said, “No, it’s not true at all; it’s worse.” (Laughter) My mother is a travel agent for guilt trips. (Laughter)
But my belief in Jesus has to affect my behavior. It has to affect what I do and how I do it. See, it’s very easy to say, “Ah, yeah, Jesus is in my life.” Some of you tonight, you know Jesus is in the car of your life, but you need to reposition Jesus. Some of you have gotta get Him out of the trunk, the boot, out of the backseat and you’ve gotta say, “Jesus, I want You in the driving seat of my life,” because if He’s in the driving seat, this is what’s gonna happen. His Spirit will produce in you and through you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
So, how long you’ve been a Christian? Five months? Five years? Fifteen years? Okay, how fruity are you? (Laughter) If you’re lacking some of that fruit, that means you’ve got a little red light in your car flashing, saying it’s time for a repositioning. But some of you tonight have gotta stand up and say, “Hey, I want Him in my life. I want Him in the driving seat. I want my overdraft cleared.” Others of you have gotta say, “Tonight I need to reposition Jesus. I’m a Christian because it’s true, because I need forgiveness, because Jesus died for me.”
Okay, let me give you another reason, one more. (Laughter) I’m a Christian because it works! (Audience Response and Applause) It works! It actually works. It makes a difference. Our next-door neighbors, they’re not Christians yet. They call my wife and I the neighbors from heaven. (Laughter) That’s quite encouraging actually, isn’t it? You don’t want to be called the neighbors from the other side, do you? (Laughter)
Anyway, the lady, she had a stroke and as a consequence of the stroke, she fell into a coma and had to be admitted into a hospital and the family came round. She was in intensive care. The family came round and said, “We’ve just met the doctors and the doctors have told us that there’s no brain activity and we’re going to switch off the life-support machine in five days.”
And my wife said, I was away that day, my wife said, “Ah, listen. Is there any way that we can go visit her before you turn the life-support machine off?” They said, “Oh, would you, because she was so fond of you.” And it worked out, because I was away, I got back. We went on the fifth day, so the day after they were gonna turn off the life-support machine. We go to the hospital. We walk into this intensive care room and she’s there on her own.
We walk in. I call out to her and I say, “Hey, the neighbors from heaven are here.” My wife’s like, “Be quiet. (Laughter) We’re in intensive care.” Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, sorry, sorry, sorry.” So then I start speaking to her and I say to her, “Listen, we’ve come to pray for you.” So, Killy gets hold of her hand. I hold Killy’s hand. I hold her other hand and I say, “Killy, let’s pray the prayer that Jesus taught us.”
And we prayed. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.” As we said, “Your kingdom come (Sound of fingers snapping), she woke up. (Audience Response and Applause) She’s home. She’s home. She’s still not a Christian (Laughter). What’s all that about?! (Laughter) Christianity works. Now listen, listen.
I’ve been in the ministry for 33 years. Christians are Easter people, who live in a Good Friday world. The world is broken. In our world, there is the tension between miracle and mystery and I realize that.
And you might be in a situation where you feel overwhelmed by these mysteries that are happening to you, burdens, whatever it is. God knows. God knows. If you have a concern about your health, okay, wherever you are, put your hand now on your heart. Just put your hand on your heart.
We’re now gonna pray for everyone that has a health need. So, Jesus, You are the King of Kings and You are the Great Physician. So, we’re asking You to release more of Your healing presence and where there is any sickness, infection, disease, we pray that You will flush this out of our systems now.
Where there has been any kind of degeneration, we’re asking You for regeneration. We’re asking You for restoration and we pray health and wholeness and well-being in body, in mind and spirit. And we pray that You will continue to minister Your healing grace throughout this night, all through the hours of our sleep, minister healing to us. And may be experience this week a tangible sign of Your healing at work. We pray this in the name of Christ, amen.
I’ve given you four reasons why I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian because it’s true. I’m a Christian because I need forgiveness. I’m a Christian because Jesus died for me. I’m a Christian because it actually works.
John F.: British evangelist J.John, as we close this edition of "Focus on the Family." And Jim, you and I can also say Christianity actually works.
Jim: It's so true, John. You might not have seen someone come out of a coma while you were praying for them, as J.John and his wife did, but I think all of us could say that we've seen circumstances where God is obviously working behind the scenes for our good. In fact, we get letters every day from "Focus on the Family" listeners who have had those miraculous experiences. And we praise God for how He's working in our lives and how He cares for us. Here's just one example from a woman named Michelle.
She wrote, "I was listening to your radio show and felt moved to donate $50, but I didn't have any money. I asked God to make it happen. Later that same day I received a $50 tip at work and immediately called Focus on the Family to donate it. God is good." Man, I'm telling you though, so are you, Michelle.
John F.: Yeah
Jim: Thank you so much for providing that hard-earned money. Tips are tough and to give us that kind of generosity, I am grateful for. I just love hearing stories like that. And you know what? The more you trust God, the more opportunity you give Him to work in your life, like He did in Michelle's.
John F.: Yeah, for a lot of us, that's a struggle. I mean, where is that walk of faith gonna take us? And in Michelle's case, wow!
Jim: So true.
John F.: God worked on somebody else's heart to give her that $50 and she opened up and gave it. Wow! What a story.
Jim: Well, and that's part of how God disciples us as we learn to trust His guidance, trust that still small voice in our hearts.
And as we celebrate Easter this weekend, let's thank the Lord for dying on the cross for each one of us and more importantly, let's praise Him for the resurrection which is all the difference in our faith. We serve a risen Savior and I hope you were encouraged by this message from J.John.
And as our Easter gift to you, we're making the audio download available for free. Just request it from our website and let me say, as I would say at Christmas, Happy, Happy Easter to each one of you.
John F.: And if you don't yet believe that Jesus was who He said He is, then let me encourage you to get our free e-book. It's called "Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God's Family." You'll find that e-book and the free audio download of today's presentation at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Have a great weekend and be sure to tune in on Monday. You'll hear how humor helped comedian Chonda Pierce get through some very difficult times.
Mrs. Chonda Pierce: And I praise God that at some point in my life, God flipped the switch for me and taught me what a gift that hearing the sound of laughter, the medicine that it can really be.
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John F.: That's next time on "Focus on the Family." I'm John Fuller and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening and join us again on Monday, as we once more, help you and your family thrive in Christ. And as we wrap up, one final thought from J.John.
Rev. Canon J.John F.: If you haven't yet received this, receive it tonight. In just a moment, just a minute I'm gonna ask you to stand up if you need to say yes, if you need to reposition Jesus. I'm not asking you to stand up to embarrass you. I wouldn't do that. I'm asking you to stand up amongst hundreds of Christians, because if you cannot stand up here, you'll never be able to stand up out there. If you would like to begin to be a follower of Jesus and invite Jesus into your life, or you would like to reposition Jesus in your life, can you please stand up. Stand now. Now's your opportunity. Please stand. Please stand. Fantastic. Keep standing. Come on. Stand up and say yes, I want to do this. I want to do this today on this sacred Easter Day. May you and all of us know God's protection as we endeavor to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author of our faith. So, we ask for the blessing of the Holy Trinity--God, the Father, who made us, God, the Son, who died for us and God, the Holy Spirit. Be with us now and forevermore, amen. All stand. (Applause) Thank you, Lord! (Applause)
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J.John is an evangelist, minister, social activist and a popular public speaker who has addressed audiences in 69 countries on six continents. He has authored numerous books, of which there are more than a million copies in print in 13 languages. J.John resides in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire. He and his wife, Killy, have three sons. Learn more about J.John by visiting his website: www.canonjjohn.com.