The purpose of life often feels unclear, leaving many of us confused and wanting more. Do you even know what you’re living for? In this message, guest speaker Drew Worsham walks us through Acts 4 to find out what the secret to life really is.
A special hello all the way from San Antonio. It's a huge honor to get to be here tonight. Whether you're here in this room or you're in overflow or maybe you're watching from one of the 13 live sites, it's a joy to get to be here. I just want to say this to you, The Porch team, and specifically David. I'm so grateful getting to watch what God has been doing here at The Porch.
I don't know if you know this, but my wife and I lived in Washington State for about a decade, and getting to watch what God is doing here among young adults is pretty supernatural. There's nothing like this that we've seen in the entire US. I hope you know that. Even the fact that you guys have overflow, that this is a packed room, is absolutely incredible.
I think a big piece of that, yes, is God moving in a really unique way, and you're a part of something really special, but it's also the leadership of The Porch that is pushing forward and really defining how young adult ministry is being done across our nation. You guys are setting that pace. So, thank you guys so much. It's an honor to get to be here tonight.
Really quickly I'll do a trick, because I feel like you won't listen until I do. Before I do, like David said, a year ago my wife and I planted a church in San Antonio. I have a picture of my wife and my family. There's my wife Jane, and that's our almost 2-year-old daughter Tilly. Her eyes… Listen. There's not another human on planet earth I love more than that little kid. Her name is Matilda, but we call her Tilly.
Now that we got the introductions out of the way, this is going to get weird. Are you guys cool with that? Is that okay? Some of you tonight are going to walk out of this place, and you're not going to have heard anything that was said after this point, and there will be many of you who walk out tonight a little upset and angry. Some of you are going to love it. Some of you, not so much. If you walk out of this place angry, sorry. You've been warned.
Well, how do you teach after that? I don't really have a great segue, so if you have a Bible, grab it. Meet me in Acts, chapter 4. What's interesting about magic and illusions and the way it works is that the secret to how that works was on full display on this stage right in front of you. Every detail of how it worked was literally right in front of you, but you missed it because you're not trained to see it or because of what magicians would call misdirection. Your focus and attention all go here while the secret and the magic happen over here.
Here's the reason I share that tonight. I believe with everything in me that not a single one of you is here by accident or happenstance. Whatever reason you walked into this place tonight, you're not here by accident. I believe the God of the universe has pieced things together and put you in the seat you're in because he wants to speak to you tonight. He has something for you.
More than you being here on purpose and with intention, I believe the God of the universe is here tonight. My fear is that we would walk into a place like this and, although his presence be on full display, that it would be right in front of us, but just like the magic trick, we miss it; just like the magic trick, our attention is diverted.
We spend so much time worried about what people think about us or maybe we're just here scoping and hoping ("I hope I get a date out of this"), or whatever this is, that you completely miss the God of the universe showing up and showing off and wanting to speak to you in a language your heart can understand. So, tonight, I want to pray for us and just ask God to speak to us in a really powerful and sweet way that maybe, just maybe, you understand.
Jesus, I believe you're here, I believe you're in this room, and I believe you have something in store for us all, myself included. I don't want to step into this space and you show up and then I miss it, God. So I pray for every person in this space. I pray for every person in the overflow, every person watching remotely. Right now, would you open the eyes of our hearts to see you? Would you open up the ears of our hearts to hear you in a unique way?
God, I pray we'd walk out of this place forever changed, not because some guy did a card trick, not because some guy taught well, but because you showed up and spoke to your people. That's what we want. That's what we need. Not another talk. We need your presence. So speak to us tonight, Jesus, in a way we can understand. It's in your name we pray, amen.
My wife and I have been walking through a Scripture app that has been chronologically walking through the Bible, and this was the passage we read this morning, so I was like, "This'll be sweet. I'll just share this." But I believe there's something in this that we're going to see tonight that ultimately is the secret to how you and I experience a life to the fullest. Jesus shows up on the scene, and in John 10:10 he would say, "I have come to give you life, and life to the fullest," but if we're honest, very few of us actually experience that type of life.
In Acts, chapter 4, we're going to start in verse 1, but let me set the stage so you know what's going on. Acts is the story of the early church. You have a couple of Jesus' followers who are hanging out, and all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit descends on them. They begin to share the gospel, and people's lives begin to get changed.
Peter and John, two of these disciples, these followers of Jesus, are on their way to the temple, on the way to a church service a lot like The Porch, and they come in contact with a lame beggar…he can't walk…who has been outside of the temple. The Scriptures are going to tell us he's about 40 years old and has been there for the majority of his life, so he's pretty well known. If you have to think about it, if you're going to beg for money, doing it outside of a church is not a bad place to do it.
So, Peter and John are walking toward the temple. They come up to this lame beggar. He asks for money. They kind of bypass him for a second, and then they stop. They pause, they turn, and they look at him. You have to be thinking this lame beggar is like, "Cha-ching! Here we go. Payday." Peter and John, these two men, look at him and go, "Hey, listen. Silver and gold… We don't have it, but what we do have we give freely. In the name of Jesus, get up and walk."
All of a sudden, the muscles in this man's legs begin to strengthen, and his legs begin to straighten, and he stands up for the very first time and begins to walk. The Scripture tells us not only that, he's kind of skipping. He's almost dancing. The people in the synagogues are paying attention, going, "What in the world? We know this guy. How did this happen?"
So they begin to point to Jesus, and lives begin to be changed. It's causing this great commotion. Then the religious leaders at the time grab Peter and John because they're causing all this commotion. They throw them in prison, and they're like, "What do we do? It's pretty late. Maybe we should deal with it tomorrow." That's where we find ourselves in the story. Got it? Perfect.
Chapter 4, verse 1. This is what it says: "The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people." Sidenote: Sadducees are the religious leaders of the day. Fun fact: they're the ones who put Jesus on trial and put him on kind of this whole false witness, and they're ultimately the ones who execute him. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. Just a fun fact.
"They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?' Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them:
'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is "the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone." Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.'"
1 . The message has to be clear. We moved to San Antonio about three years ago and were so grateful to move back to the South because you guys have my wife's and my favorite restaurant in the world, a place called Chick-fil-A. We love it, absolutely love it. Most of us love it. There might be some different camps, and they may be divided a little bit on maybe the sauce choice or maybe it's sweet tea versus lemonade or maybe it's the Chick-fil-A sandwich versus the nuggets.
But here's what's interesting. The vast majority of us love it really, really well, and somehow, someway, Chick-fil-A has hired two renegade cows that are vandalizing billboards all across the Southeast. No matter what place you find yourself, whatever side you find yourself on, all of us in this room know Chick-fil-A's slogan. It's three simple words. You know it, right? "Eat Mor Chikin." Why do you know that? Because Chick-fil-A's message is unbelievably clear.
What is sad is that the world in which we live right now is dying for the answers you and I claim to have, curious about the hope we claim to have, and sadly, the church right now finds itself stuttering. It finds itself confused. So it's no matter that even in your own heart, when you think about the message you've given your life to… You claim, "I've given my whole life to Jesus, surrendered everything to him," but why is it that the message is so unclear even for our own hearts? Some of us don't necessarily even know what exactly it is we're living for.
I didn't grow up in the church, so I didn't know most of the stuff. I remember sitting down with a youth pastor when I was almost a senior in high school. He goes, "Drew, can I just ask you a few questions?" I'm like, "Yeah. Shoot for it." He's like, "What do you know about the Bible?" I was like, "Uh, I'm pretty sure Jesus is the main character." He was like, "Yeah. Good." He goes, "Drew, can I ask you this? If I could tell you the whole story in just three or four minutes, would you want to know?" I was like, "Yeah, bro. You bought lunch. Sure. I'm listening."
I'll never forget what he said. He said, "Drew, in the very beginning of this book was just God in perfect relationship with himself, and there was nothing else. God begins to speak the world into existence. He creates all things with just his words. On the sixth day, God reaches into the dirt and forms mankind. It would be the first thing God ever touches. He breathes life into man. Why? So that we would have this opportunity to have this intimate, deep relationship with the God of the universe, that we could be fully known, fully loved, fully treasured by him.
We make it three chapters into the book before we totally screw it all up. We go, 'God, hey, thanks, but no thanks. I want to be king, I want to be captain, so would you just slide off the throne and let me take charge?' In that moment, sin entered into the world, and it fractured it. It broke it." Real talk. I don't have to convince you of that. You don't watch the news or flip through Twitter for very long before you're like, "Yeah, it's pretty broken. It's jacked up. Surely this isn't the way God intended it."
Or better yet. I love my daughter. She's about to hit 2. You don't have to hang out with a 2-year-old very long before you're like, "Dang! That's the most evil creature on planet earth right there." But here's what's interesting. Think about this. My wife and I don't sit down with Tilly and go, "Hey, listen. When you don't get your way, you need to bite people. Let me show you how to do that. When you get frustrated, throw a punch. Scream." No, no, no. That's inside of her. She's born with it. That's her default setting.
That's where every single one of us finds ourselves. The sin of our great-great-grandparents has been passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, and it's in every one of us like a cancer, a plague that's killing us. The entire Old Testament, although it's filled with a bunch of really crazy stories, is all just one giant promise, and this is the promise: God sees you in your brokenness, and he loves you too much to leave you there, and one day he's sending a hero to fix every bit of it.
When you turn the pages from Malachi into Matthew, or Old Testament into New Testament, you see that the hero actually shows up, but it's not what anyone expected, because the hero was actually God himself who was willing to leave his throne room, his kingdom, wrap himself in human flesh, and move into our trailer park. That's who Jesus was: God in the flesh, God incarnate. That's why we call him Immanuel at Christmas: because God is with us. He's here. He's present.
He walks on earth for 33 perfect years, teaching us what it means to be fully human, fully alive, and then he willingly lays his life down on our cross. Don't miss that. That wasn't Jesus' cross; it was yours. That was our death penalty for our treason against the God of the universe. He willingly lays his life down on that cross, crucified, placed into a tomb, and then three days later he walks out of the grave, proving that he has the power over sin and death.
All who call upon the name, all who take their lives, Texas Hold'em style, and push the chips in and say, "It's all yours. I'll step off the throne. You be the captain. You call the shots," in that moment, something miraculous happens. The Bible would tell us that we go from being enemies of God, slaves to our sin, and the moment we say "Yes" to him we get adopted into the family, no longer orphans but now sons and daughters of the King of the universe. That's our message.
Porch, hear me. Do not leave this place thinking the message of Christianity is that Jesus came to this earth to take bad people and make them good people. That's not Christianity. Christianity is that Jesus came to take dead people and bring them to life. That's what it means to follow after Jesus. Our message has to be clear, not just to the world around us but to us, to ourselves.
Do you know why many of us live such defeated lives? Because that's not the story we believe. We think, "Jesus, you just came here to help me not cuss as much. Didn't you die on the cross just so I would watch a few less rated-R movies?" We joke, but that's what many of you believe by your actions. What if you really did begin to believe that the same power that rose Jesus Christ from the grave now courses through your veins and that you can live a life of victory?
2 . These men were marked by Christ. In verse 13 it says, "When they [the Sadducees] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled [uneducated] , ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 'What are we going to do with these men?' they asked. 'Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.'"
These religious leaders look and go, "Hey, listen. Those two guys? Here's what's obvious. They're not very educated, they're not really smart, they're unschooled, but here's what's really clear: those guys have been with Jesus." How do they know that? Think about this. When Jesus was put on the cross, the disciples all peaced out. None of them were around. How was it obvious that those two guys had been with Jesus?
Let me paint it this way. Right after I graduated college, I jumped in a car with a musician named Josh, and we spent a year and a half touring around America, just making loops around the US. Eventually, we would move to Washington. We'd end up planting a church together and would serve together for a decade. So, we go to college together. We spend all this time together.
Here's the deal. If I were to invite Josh out on the stage… He's not here. He's in Washington still. But if I were to invite him out and we would get a chance to hang out or maybe go grab coffee afterward, there are a couple of things you would notice pretty quickly. You'd be like, "Dang! Drew, you and Josh are super similar. You talk a lot alike. You have the same inflection, same mannerisms. You tell a lot of the same stories and jokes." (Most of which he stole from me.)
Here's the deal. Why does that happen? Why is that true? It's not because we set aside and went, "Hey, let's practice our moves here. Like, how do you do your hand when you talk? Is that how it works for you?" No, no, no. The reason we're so similar is we spent every single waking moment for a year and a half living together side by side in a car.
Why was it so obvious that these men had been with Jesus? Because for every single waking moment of their lives for three solid years they were side by side with Jesus. It was obvious. "Those guys have been with Jesus. They talk just like him. They have the same mannerisms, the same stories they tell. It's just like Jesus. It's obvious that they've been with him." So then maybe the million-dollar question for you and me is…Is it obvious that we've been with Jesus? Are we marked by Christ?
When your coworker looks at you, when your friends hang out with you, is it obvious that you've been hanging out with Jesus? Do they go, "Real talk. I don't know if I believe in all this stuff. I don't know how I feel about Jesus, but here's what I do know. If he was on earth, I'm willing to bet he talked a lot like you do. I'm willing to bet he lived like you do. I'm willing to bet he would love like you do, that he would listen like you do, that he would care like you do"? That it's obvious you've been with Jesus.
Here's the deal. Church, please don't miss this. It's not about performance. It's all about proximity. Over time, as you walk with Jesus, as you build intimacy, you begin to look more and more like him. The pieces of you that look like you begin to fade away and he begins to step into the spotlight. Church, is it obvious that you've been with him? It breaks my heart to think that the vast majority are going to leave this place tonight, and what you're going to hear is you need to leave this place and start performing, start doing more theater, acting more like Jesus.
That's where we get the idea of hypocrisy, that it's just theater. But as you walk with Jesus, as you know him intimately, he begins to change you. Listen. Some of you aren't going to believe this, and I'm okay with it. The love of Jesus is more real than the chair you're seated in right now. Jesus is not a philosophy or a theory or something you subscribe to. It's actually something and someone you can experience. It breaks my heart to think that the vast majority of us are going to continue playing a game and missing out on that love he offers.
3 . They were motivated by the cross. In verse 18 it says, "Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, 'Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.' After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old."
The religious leaders pull Peter and John aside and go, "Hey, guys, come here real quick. We're going to chat with you." They go, "Here's the deal. We're going to let you go to kind of keep things from getting a little crazy, but here's what we need you to do. This whole Jesus stuff? We need to keep it on the DL, a little hush-hush if you don't mind. If we don't mention this again, we'll be cool."
Peter and John's response in that moment is, "Listen. That's ultimately between you and God. He gets to decide that. But here's what we know for certain. We can't help but speak about the things we've seen and heard. Our minds have been blown. Our lives have been touched in a drastic way, and we can't help but talk about the things we've seen and heard."
Church, it is the thesis of my life that I believe if you're in this room and you really love Jesus…not just an idea, but you really love him, you're a follower of him…then the only reason you're still here on planet earth is God has left you with an assignment and a mission to carry into the world. Just real talk. Let's think about this. If you love Jesus, like, that moment you push all of the chips in, why do you not in that moment get zapped up into heaven to be with him? Think about this. That would be a much better deal than what we have going on down here.
As amazing as The Porch is (and it's incredible), as amazing as the DFW area is, to be in the throne room with King Jesus, to be fully known, to be fully loved, to be truly seen for who you are and completely accepted, no hurt, no pain, no cancer, no fear, no anxiety, no worry, no stress… Are you kidding me? That's a much better deal than what we have going on down here. So why leave us here? Because he's not done. He rescued your heart, and he sent you into the world, motivated by everything you've seen him do in your life.
I've heard it said this way: the gospel just hit you on its way to someone else. Check this out. What if God so loves the people in your office space that he rescued and redeemed your heart and then left you there so you could share the gospel with them? "I love them so much I'm not going to pull you out. I'm going to leave you there so you can pass on that love, so you can share that with them." Think about this. Once again, it's not about performance. It's not about duty.
These men were threatened with their lives, and they went, "We can't help but speak about it." Think about Isaiah. Some of you may remember this story. In Isaiah, chapter 6, there's this moment where this very broken man comes face-to-face with the God of the universe. He sees him high and lifted on his throne, and he goes, "Oh man! I'm screwed up. I'm messed up. I have a lot of issues. Don't kill me." And God heals him, forgives him.
Then God asks this question: "Who will we send? Who's going to go into the world and tell them about my goodness? Who's going to tell them about my love, that I have a rescue plan just for them?" If you ever go back to that passage, I want you to know what it doesn't say. Isaiah doesn't have a moment where he looks around and is like, "Uh, I guess it's just me. I guess I'm the only Christian in the office. I guess I'm the only one in the social club who loves Jesus, so I guess me. I'll do it." No. There's an exclamation point by the end of his statement.
He steps up to the plate, and he goes, "No, no, no, God. Here I am! You send me. God, you could send anybody. Anybody could go, but I'm asking you, send me! God, I've seen your beauty. I've seen you to be a treasure you promised to be. Send me! I'll go. I'll tell the world. I'm motivated by what you've done for me, that you've rescued me, you've redeemed me. I was once an enemy. I was once a slave, but now I'm alive. I'm adopted. I'm your son. I'm your daughter. Send me, please! You don't have to. You could send anybody, but, God, you left me here, and I want to tell them. God, send me."
A couple of years ago, I was at an event much like this, and at the time I was just doing magic. I'm sitting in the back, watching people worship, and I'm watching this gentleman just lose his mind, hands up. I mean, he's just going for it, like no one else in the room. It was obvious. There was something stirring in me, and this probably wasn't smart, but I walked over and kind of tapped him on the shoulder.
I'm like, "Hey, bro, I hate to bother you, but I need to know. What's the secret? What is it that allows you to worship Jesus with such reckless abandonment, like nobody else in the whole room?" He responds this way: "What do you mean I'm the only one in the room worshiping this way?" It was in that moment that one of the moving lights swings across the audience, and I notice there's this massive glaze over his eyes. I go, "Man, I'm so sorry to ask, but are you blind?" He's like, "Yeah."
It was in that moment that God dropped a message in my heart. This was a young man who couldn't see with his eyes, but his heart was fully open. For him, the message was so clear that God had rescued and redeemed a broken person just like him and adopted him into the family. For him, it was so obvious that he was marked by Christ, that he loved Jesus, not just in a moment, not just to sing a song, but the rest of his week, the rest of his month, the rest of his year was spent walking with Jesus, and it was obvious that he was motivated by what God had done in his life.
Church, this is my prayer for each and every one of you. May it be so. Would you know that this is the life Jesus invites you into and would you know that he is absolutely worth it? He really is a treasure. He really is everything he claims to be. Please don't spend all of your time playing church, playing Christianity, and missing the life Jesus invites you into.
Jesus, we love you. I have no idea the stories of the people in this room, but I know you do. I know you are good. I know you love them. I know you have a plan for them. I know you're inviting them into something deeper. God, I pray that they wouldn't miss out on that. I pray that I wouldn't miss out on that, that I wouldn't get so busy playing the role of a Christian, playing the role of a pastor, that I miss out on the intimacy you invite me into.
Jesus, for every person in this room, I pray tonight that they would walk out of this place with your message unbelievably clear in their heart. No matter where they land, no matter where they are spiritually, would the message be clear to them? God, in the days to come, I pray that you would mark them with your presence, overwhelm them with your presence. God, I pray you would motivate them such at a deep level of what you've done for them, and then you would send them into the world to be agents of hope and reconciliation and change in this world. We love you, Jesus. We trust you.