You know this particular part of the book of Romans is the practical section. It is that section that deals with our daily life, with day to day living, with day to day challenges in our life.
Sunday as I preached from Romans Chapter 13 about it being time to wake up, about it being time to get up, about it being time to dress up, and we understood the urgency of the time in which we live and the fact that every moment is precious to us and counts for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the import and the teaching of chapter 14 have to do with your influence as a Christian. You know Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven." This chapter deals with the things that you do and the way that the things that you do affect the lives of other people. Paul has a great deal to say here about whether you should eat or drink or eat certain meats or not eat certain meats and it all hinges on how it affects your witness for Jesus Christ.
I can sum up all he says in this chapter by saying, "Do not do anything that would cause a weaker brother to stumble. Do not do anything that would influence someone else to perhaps not become a Christian because they doubted that the things that you are doing are things which Christians should be involved in or should participate in."
And so he is talking about your influence knowing that in verse 7 and 8 Paul says, " FOR NONE OF US LIVETH TO HIMSELF, AND NO MAN DIETH TO HIMSELF." And here with one great swipe of his hand, Paul knocks down your flimsy excuse that what you do doesn't hurt anybody else.
"Well, preacher it doesn't matter what I'm doing, it doesn't hurt me and so it doesn’t hurt anybody else. It is my business. If I want to do it, I can do it."
Well, my friend the Bible says that you do not live to yourself. The Bible says that what you do affects the lives of people who live around about you.
Then the Bible says here in verse 8, "FOR WHETHER WE LIVE, WE LIVE UNTO THE LORD" And so even more important than your influence upon other people is the fact of whether or not you please the Lord in y our life.
"FOR WHETHER WE LIVE, WE LIVE UNTO THE LORD, AND WHETHER WE DIE, WE DIE UNTO THE LORD: WHETHER WE LIVE THEREFORE, OR DIE, WE ARE THE LORD'S"
Now I want to speak this afternoon from this subject: Wanted: Dead or Alive.
Paul says whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. Perhaps you have gone into the post office and in the post office you see those posters that said, "Wanted: Dead or Alive".
On that poster so many times there are the pictures of individuals who are wanted and what this is simply saying is that the government has laid claim upon the lives of these individuals in so much that they are able to claim them whether they are brought in dead or whether they are brought in alive.
I want you to know this afternoon that as a Christian and as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ this is exactly what God says concerning your life. Whether you live or whether you die, you belong to Him and Christ has a claim upon your life as long as you live and Christ has a claim upon your life even after you die and your spirit goes on to be with the Lord.
It is one thing to say, "I will accept Jesus has my savior." It is something else again to really acknowledge Him as Lord of your life. And the Bible teaches us that God is not having His full intent in your life until you come to that place where every part of your life is surrendered completely and totally to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Every Christian is wanted dead or alive. "FOR TO THIS END CHRIST BOTH DIED AND ROSE AGAIN THE BIBLE SAYS THAT HE MIGHT BE BOTH LORD OF THE DEAD AND THE LIVING" here in verse 9.
I. Demonstrations by the living
Now as we look at these three verses of scriptures, verse 7, 8, and 9, we see two things that are very important for us. Number one we see that as God looks at us, He wants demonstrations by the living.
He wants demonstrations by the living. D.L. Moody preached a revival meeting and in that revival meeting on one night when he gave the invitation there came a man down the aisle to accept Jesus as his savior and lord.
After the service, Mr. Moody said, "Sir, what was it that brought you to such conviction and to the point where you were willing to come down the aisle and give your life to Jesus? What was it that I said? What was it in my sermon that caused you to want to be a Christian"
And that man said, "Mr. Moody, it was nothing that you said though you would be a preacher of the word of God." He said, "It was the sermon that my mother lived before me all the years of my life as I grew up in a Christian home."
And my friend that is the kind of demonstration that God wants when he says in Romans Chapter 14 that I want you dead or alive but whether you live or whether you die, you belong to me, you are mine.
Unsaved people are not interested in what Christians claim to be but they are interested in what Christians practice. No wonder the Bible says, "Faith without works is dead."
A day by day demonstration of the New Testament, Christianity in the life of a born again believer will do more to bring an unsaved person to conviction than all the sermons that I could preach or a thousand recitations of a creed are an empty profession of faith.
God wants demonstrations by the saved. A profession of faith without a demonstration of life is completely useless to the Lord's cause. Now with that in mind there are two things that we think about when we think about demonstrating by our life.
Number one I think of the word winning. As we demonstrate in our life what Christ has done, God wants it to be to the end that people might be saved. Jesus said, "Herein is my father glorified that you bear much fruit. So shall ye be my disciples."
And one of the great spiritual tragedies of our hour is the very fact that it is not difficult to find a Christian who has been a Christian for a number of years and yet has never been instrumental in the winning of a single soul to the Lord Jesus Christ.
God wants us to be Christians whose lives and whose testimonies are used to bring people to Jesus Christ. The slow pace at which the kingdom advances is a testimony to the fact that many Christians never attempt to lead a soul to Christ.
Now you may not agree with this and you may be tired of hearing it, but I'm standing here to tell you the truth before God this afternoon and the truth before God is that every preacher ought to be a soul winner, that every deacon ought to have a burden for souls.
No Sunday school teacher should be allowed to stand before a class if there is not in that person a burning fire for the souls of men and a longing to see people come to Jesus Christ. Now that is the truth before God.
God wants demonstrations by the living. If you live, you live to the Lord. If you are having a problem at this point then by all means, by all means, pray for a burdened heart, pray for specific people, examine your own life and begin to see that in your life God wants to use you.
God can use you, God will use you if you are really a child of God that you might bear much fruit and bear in mind as you do that the Bible says that the fruit of the righteous is the tree of life and he that winneth souls is wise. If you forget everything I said this afternoon, winning, remember that word.
Then the word working and working for the Lord Jesus Christ is a sacred privilege given to those who have been saved by the grace of God. The most useless thing that a lost person can do is to work for Jesus. It doesn't help a lost person to work for Jesus.
They are just as lost and just as bound for hell and just as dead spiritually by working for Jesus as they are when they are living for the devil. The only people who can really bear fruit in working for Jesus are saved people or God's people.
You know as I read the Bible I find a lot about work. I find God saying again and again that we ought to be workers in His vineyard. I hear Jesus talking about work. He said, "I must work the works of Him that sent me."
I don't find anything in the Bible that talks about being idol or lazy Christians being acceptable unto God. The Bible definition and the Bible picture of a Christian is one who labors in the Master's vineyard.
The apostle Paul reminds us that "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not love, it profited me nothing." And so acceptable working and service for the Lord is that service which is done out of love and gratitude for what Jesus has done for us in salvation.
If you are one of those Christians who always is looking for an alibi for not working, I feel sorry for you because I can guarantee you this afternoon the devil will always be there to manufacture a new excuse fresh off the griddle to give to you.
He can always give us plenty of excuses for not working I thought I'd write a book sometime on the excuses of Baptists. I tell you it would be a thick one. IF I'd have put them all down, I'd be down to volume 16 by now.
I tell you Christians today need to understand that God is not interested in idol words but God is interested in a divine demonstration for the living and there is no place in the church and there is no place in the kingdom of God and the family of God for lazy Christians.
You know it is an amazing thing that professing Christians can find time to do everything else it seems except work for the Lord Jesus Christ. They find time to work in the yard, find time to watch TV., find time to visit the kin folks, find time for the extracurricular activities at school, find time to read the newspapers and keep up with all the latest magazines, find time for everything in this world.
But when it comes to a revival meeting or when it comes to service for the Lord Jesus or for visitation or for studying the word of God or for calling people or writing people or trying to get somebody to Jesus Christ so many say they just don't have time. A lot of people didn't have time to be here tonight.
I tell you as Christians, God says, "You belong to me." That is what Paul had in mind in Corinthians when he said, "What know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which you have of God and that you are not your own; you are bought with a price."
He says exactly the same thing in these verses. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's and God wants some demonstration from the saved. Let us remember what Paul has already said in this chapter and what I preached Wednesday night.
That the night is coming, that the day is far spent, that the night is at hand, that now as our salvation nearer than when we believed. Let's remember what Paul said when he said, "Let us cast off the works of darkness and let's put on the clothing of light and let us walk honestly as in the day."
II. Devotion from the dead
Now not only does God want demonstrations by the living but God wants devotion from the dead. You are wanted dead or alive. Remember the title of this message. You are wanted dead or alive.
God wants devotion from the dead. There can be no question as you read the word of God that God expects your life to have as much power after you die as it does now while you are living.
Remember that story about Elijah, the man of God, that story that we find in the kings where it is recorded that the body of a dead soldier was thrown into the tomb of Elijah and you remember what happened that when that body was thrown into the tomb of Elijah that body revived and that man became alive again.
Why Elijah had more power dead than most Christians today do alive. And God expects us to have devotion from our life even after we are dead. We find in the word of God. We find that it is possible to so live for Jesus Christ that our testimony lingers on long after we die.
What invaluable sources of inspiration are the lives of those martyred saints whose trail of blood we find across the pages of church history, whose lives inspire us today to greater heights?
In Hebrews 11:4 God's word tells how this is possible. The Bible says by faith Able offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain by which he obtained witness that he was righteous. God testifying of his gifts and by it he being dead, listen to me, he being dead yet speak.
He being dead yet speak. The real tests of our life is not how much did we do while we lived but how powerful was our life in so that it kept on influencing people for Christ long after we die.
People are still being saved today by the testimony of Able who brought the blood sacrifice to God. People are being saved today for the testimony of God's saints. You think of people like C.H. Spurgeon and the preachers who still read his messages and preach his messages. The thousands who heard him were blessed in London, England as he preached to those people week after week and hundreds and thousands of people were saved through the ministry of a man named C.H. Spurgeon.
But now people read his messages and are saved and preachers preach his messages and people are saved. And his testimony is continuing to speak and Spurgeon being dead yet speak.
The same thing could be said of Mordecai Ham. Somebody said, "Whose he?" Well, he is the man that preached one night in a little country town in North Carolina and when he gave the invitation a couple of boys by the name of Billy Graham and Grady Wilson walked down the aisle and gave their hearts to Jesus Christ.
And Mordecai Ham has gone on to be with Jesus Christ but my friend he being dead yet speak because every time Billy Graham preaches the word of God and thousands of people come forward, Mordecai Ham being dead yet speak. He continues to have influence for God through what his witness did while he was alive.
And the same thing could be said of Moody and the same thing could be said of the apostle Paul and what a tremendous wonderful influence he had in his life. He built more churches, won more souls, traveled more miles, preached more sermons, helped more people, ordained more preachers, established more churches than anybody else in Christian history.
But that can't even begin to compare with the influence of Paul in the world today. Look at how Paul's writings and Paul's messages and Paul's example and Paul's testimony is being used today to bring people to Jesus Christ.
The Bible says you are wanted dead or alive and God wants your life to so count for Him in this life that when you die your life will go on influencing and go on counting for God. I want to tell you the simple fact is simply this and you think about it. This is how important it is, whatever you do right now, listen to me, whatever you do right now good or bad will determine whether or not your testimony and your influence can be used for Jesus Christ after you are dead.
The life you are living right now. So in view of this truth, how careful we ought to be about what we do in this life. Our deeds will be judged and our influence will be assessed on the basis that it has upon people down through the centuries of time.
That is why the judgment is not when you die. It cannot be when you die, people are judged at the judgment seat of Christ, Christians are judged and sinners are judged at the Great White Throne at the end of time. Why at the end of time? Because it will not be until the end of time until their influence can be assessed and the proper judgment and uation can be made of their life.
It will not be until Christ comes again and raptures His church and takes us to be with Him and we stand before Him that the full import and influence and testimony and strength of our life can be assessed.
And so God wants devotion from the dead. Now if He is going to have devotion from the dead then we are going to have to be true to His word in this life. We can't expect to please God if we are not faithful to this book. We cannot expect our life to count for Christ after we are going if we don't live by the Bible. Jesus said, "if you love me, keep my commandments.'
And then secondly if we are to render devotions after we are dead, if we are to testify after we are dead then that means the trial we are going through now is very important. Faith that is not tried is worthless and unfortunately this generation seems to have changed the words of Jesus when He said, "Take up thy cross and follow me." And they changed it to say, "Take up thy couch and follow me."
Jesus said, "Take up thy cross and follow me and that is why God's people go through trials so that people can look at our lives and people can hear our testimony and they can hear about a God who has the power to save from the utter most of sin to utter most of salvation.
Every great Christian became a great Christian through trial and trouble and tribulation and being faithful under hardship. John Bunyan who wrote Pilgrim's Progress wrote it under the strain and the trial of twelve years in a Bedford jail.
Felix Manz was sentenced in 1527 to death because of his stand on baptism by emersion and some preachers today want to take any kind of baptism into their churches when people like Felix Manz literally gave their life for the precious doctrine of baptism by emersion and as he walked to his execution his mother and brethren walked with him and encouraged him to be strong and give a great testimony for Jesus Christ. The reason we baptize people as we do today is because of the faith of these men, their testimony to the grace of God.
Obadiah Holmes who for the crime of meeting with a little group of people for worship in Massachusetts in the home of William Whittner, a blind Christian person, was taken by the Massachusetts authorities and literally was beaten so much that for two weeks the only way he could sleep was on his hands and knees.
His faith was tested and tried and people are being saved today because of the faithfulness of these early leaders who took their stand for God and their testimony continues to count.
Some of you are going through trials right now, some of you are, and the Bible says in First Peter Chapter 4:12, "BELOVED, THINK IT NOT STRANGE CONCERNING THE FIREY TRIAL WHICH IS TO TRY."
As though some strange thing happened to you but rejoice in as much as you are partakers of Christ suffering that when his glory shall be revealed, you may be also with exceeding joy. The greatness of your faith and the influence of your Christian life on the generations that are to come are dependent upon how you weather the storm and stand up under the trial right now.
We know this OJMIC church is here because of people who were faithful to God's word and faithful on this corner to witness and testify and give and sacrifice. That is why we are doing that today and that is why we are in a building program. That is why we are trying to reach people for Jesus Christ.
It is what He has commanded us to do and we want to do it in such a way that after we are gone and the history are written people will read of it and our faith will speak to them, of faith, of people who believed in Jesus Christ and His power in His church.
We expect our lives to give a glowing testimony after we have gone on then we better stand for Jesus right now. What about your influence this afternoon? I'm afraid that some of us don't have the right kind of influence for Jesus Christ.
I'm afraid that some of us are saved though we are not winning and we are not working and we are not living and we are not demonstrating. I'm afraid that if some of us died right now our friends that saw us last week or saw us today or looked at our lives or heard us talk and speak would have to say that we didn't have anything to testify of when we died.
I believe this afternoon it is very serious as we come to think that God said, "Whether you live you live unto the Lord and whether you die you die unto the Lord.
George Mueller is one of the greatest examples of faith in Christian history. Mueller had that great ministry to the orphans and to the hungry children in England.
Time after time he tested the promises of God. When was the last time you tested the promises of God. When is the last time you tried a promise of God and found God's promise to be true.
George Mueller tested those promises and he literally waited day by day upon the power of God to meet the needs of his life and the needs of all of those children who depended on him.
And every time the story of George Mueller is told in the faith of Christians are encouraged. He being dead yet speaks. I want to tell you this afternoon that is what God wants from every Christian.
You know in Savannah, Georgia there is a statue of Nathan Hale. His hands are bound, his feet are tied, and under the statue is this inscription, "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
That ought to be the attitude of every child of God this afternoon. I regret that I have but one life to live for Jesus Christ. I want to live that life in the power of the holy spirit to the intent that no matter what comes in my life I will be the winner of souls, I'll be a worker for God, and when I die my testimony will be more powerful than it was when I lived. My friend that is what God wants for every Christian here this afternoon.