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Build a Rescue Ship, Not a Luxury Liner

Posted by Pastor J.D. on January 9, 2017
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In Long Beach, California, you can visit the Queen Mary, a ship that’s been turned into a museum. It was originally launched as the ultimate luxury cruise liner of its time. But during World War II, it was commandeered to carry troops back and forth in battle. You can go onto the ship now and see examples of both setups: When it was a luxury liner, it accommodated 3,000 people with every possible convenience; in wartime, however, it was refitted to house 15,000 people. Rooms that once slept one couple could now hold eight soldiers.

Wartime and peacetime demand different things. The same is true for us.

In his farewell message to the church leaders in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul shares with them the values he’s lived by, values that give us crucial insight into how the Holy Spirit wants all believers to think about their lives.

Paul starts by saying that in his life, he made sure his generation knew the truth: “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable …. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:20a, 26-27 ESV).

Paul saw himself primarily as the bearer of a message. As a messenger, he was not responsible for whether people liked the message—only that they heard it. For Paul, this was very serious business: “I am innocent of the blood of all.”

That seems like an odd statement. But Paul uses strong language because he sees the gospel as the life or death message that it is.

The gospel is an announcement that the human race stands underneath the judgment of God because of our rebellion. The gospel starts with bad news: We are dead in our sin, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

But after the bad news, the gospel proceeds to give us good news—the greatest news—that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Jesus came and did for us what we could never do for ourselves. He lived the sinless life we were supposed to live, died the sinner’s death we should have died, and now offers forgiveness as a gift to all who will receive it.

I’m not responsible for how someone responds to that message. But I am responsible for making sure the people around me hear and understand it.

Does your community know the truth? Have you made it clear to everyone in your life? Have they felt its weight?

As the church, we shouldn’t be trying to build the Queen Mary luxury liner for Christians. Yes, we want to have warm, inviting, well-kept environments, done excellently for the glory of God. But we do it with the understanding that our resources weren’t given to us to create a cruise liner for Christians; they were given to build a rescue station for the broken.

This principle should shape our entire approach to life. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying God’s blessings. But there is something profoundly wrong with putting our heads in the sand and pretending the world is not lost.

Keith Green said, “This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls all over the world.”

We’re their only shot, and we should live that way.

For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.

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Pastor J.D.

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J.D. Greear is pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013). More

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  1. Build a Rescue Ship, Not a Luxury Liner - January 10, 2017

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  2. A La Carte (January 9) - January 10, 2017

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