This morning’s TVCOG at the movies doesn’t feature a family-friendly movie, so I can’t recommend you all see it, but it is a movie full of inspiration and faith, so I would tell you to pray about seeing it. 🙂 Hacksaw Ridge tells the true story of Desmond Doss. Desmond grew up rough. His dad was an alcoholic. His dad, a former soldier himself, had PTSD and it was expressed in his relationships at home. His son, Desmond, saw lots of fighting and violence. Prone, perhaps, to repeat his father’s impulsive and violent behavior, Desmond almost killed his brother when they were roughhousing as kids. Arrested by the seriousness of what could have been, Desmond took to heart the Ten Commandments, especially the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” one. Later, in an altercation with his father in his teen years, Desmond pointed a gun at his dad and almost took his dad’s life. Realizing again, what could have happened, Desmond committed to a non-violent way of life.
When war broke out and all of his peers were enlisting to serve his country, he felt a call to serve as well. He knew he couldn’t serve in combat given his convictions regarding taking a life, so he enlisted with the goal to become a medic. I don’t know that I have ever heard of or seen depicted, a more “no compromise” kind of person.
He was persecuted for his beliefs during basic training. He was labeled a coward. He was beaten by fellow soldiers who tried to get him to give up and quit the military. He was berated and belittled by the commanding officer who also wanted him out. The commanding officer devised a plan to have him court marshaled for not following every instruction which in his mind included the rife-training portion of the program. Desmond Doss wouldn’t compromise his convictions or back down from his calling. He knew that in war soldiers were going to take lives. He was going to save them. Nothing could deter him. He never swore in the film. He never fought fire with fire. He turned the other cheek when he was unjustly treated, and he kept hold of his faith.
His dad had a friend who had risen high in the military ranks. He appealed to his friend to help his son, and Desmond was granted the opportunity to go into battle and to never have to carry a weapon. Desmond, with his Bible tucked into his uniform near his heart, stayed faithful to God and faithful to his calling to support his fellow soldiers as a medic while also maintaining his conviction about not ever taking a life.
Take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ-d5nfweS0
What I love about Desmond Doss in addition to the fact that he was a Bible lover, a peace lover, and a man of prayer is that he was a life lover. He valued life. He defended life. He protected life. He was called to give life and to do so under the most difficult circumstances one could ever imagine. In order to advance against the Japanese in WW II, U.S. troops were going to need to take Hacksaw Ridge. It wasn’t going to be pretty. Many would lose their lives. However, many would have them saved by Desmond Doss.
Things weren’t going well on the ridge. Many had been killed and injured by the Japanese, and the commanding officer gave the order for the U.S. Troops to retreat and to get down off of the ridge. They all left. All except one. Desmond Doss began praying, asking God what he should do. It was then that he heart a cry for help. It was the cry that anchored Desmond to God’s mission for him once again, and Desmond knew what he had to do. Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy6kwogmhRY
All throughout the night, using the strength that God was providing as he repeated his “Give me one more” prayer, Desmond Doss single-handedly rescued at least 75 men. His “One More” prayer gave him courage to run into flames, into harm’s way, into enemy territory to save lives. Not only did he save his fellow soldiers who had been abandoned by the rest of the team, but he also saved some of the Japanese soldiers who were lying wounded. His faith, his conviction, would have him do no other.
Where am I going with this? Desmond Doss was desperate, passionate, convicted, and determined to save lives—to get just one more—He was willing to risk it all for just one more and one more after that. I know Someone else like that.
Matthew 28:20- “The Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Luke 19:10- “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.”
Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth because of a war; a war for our souls, a war for our eternal destiny. He willingly gave His life so that you and I could be rescued from the clutches of sin and the condemnation of Satan. He saw the cries of help, the desperate cries of those wounded by bad choices, addictive behaviors, and unholy flaws. He knew we couldn’t get out alive without help. He knew we couldn’t make it to safety, so He came to rescue us. His sacrifice, His death on the cross, paid the price for all who would believe in Him and receive His forgiveness.
And here is what I grew up hearing and believing, “If I had been the only person on earth, Christ would have died just for me.” While it is beautiful that the finished work of Christ on the cross takes care of all of us, I was Jesus’ “one more.” You were Jesus’ “one more.” Who is your one more? Do you have one?
Is bringing spiritual rescue to people a conviction you hold? Who are you praying for? Who are you talking to about Jesus? What are you risking to get one more person into the Kingdom of God?
It was in 1869 that a blind lady named Fanny Crosby was speaking to a group of men and God led her that night to ask if there were any boys in the crowd who had wandered away from God. And if so, to meet her on the platform after the service.
An eighteen year old came forward and said, “I promised my mother to meet her in heaven, but as I am now living that will be impossible.” Miss Fanny prayed with him and he prayed and was saved.
Afterwards, he said, ”Now, I can meet mother in heaven; for I have found her God.” That night after the service, a line came to her that she couldn’t get out of her mind: ”Rescue the perishing, care for the dying.” Before she went to sleep that night, she can completed the now old hymn: ”Rescue the Perishing, Care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave. Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the mighty to save. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.”
I am here today to remind you that we are in the rescuing business. It’s our responsibility to throw out the lifeline to all who are drowning in the sea of sin. Rescuing the perishing is to be our priority because it was the priority of Jesus who came ”to seek and to save that which was lost.” That night, Fanny Crosby rescued one more. Are you praying for one more today? Each one of us needs to have a “one more” on our hearts.
Desmond Doss’s rescue mission seemingly began with prayer as he prayed, “Lord, what would you have me do?” But it began before that as it began with a desire to provide care for the injured and to rescue the wounded. Do you have the desire this morning? If so, are you willing to pray, “Lord, what would you have me do?” His desire led to his prayer. His prayer led to him being able to hear the cries of people in need.
People are crying everywhere we turn today. Broken homes, addiction strongholds, financial challenges, abuse, confusion, insecurity, anger—all of these and more lead people to long for an answer, to long for hope. Yes, salvation comes in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ, but so do answers and so does hope. That is why Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Way.” People are looking for a way—a way out, a way up, a way forward. He said of Himself, “I am the Truth.” We can look around and see that we can’t trust our own ideologies and judgments as they have led us to self-absorption, hatred, and division. He alone is the truth. He said of Himself, “I am the Life.” People are spiritually dead without Jesus, and they know it. They may not know that He is the answer, but they know they are dead on the inside. They know things aren’t right. They know they have been chasing things that still haven’t brought their spirits to life.
We need a soul burden. We need a passion for the search and rescue mission of Jesus. When Jesus called the first disciples He explained to them that He was selecting them in order that they might become fishers of men. What is your greatest ambition? Is it to make a name for yourself? To store up wealth? To achieve a certain status? As Christ-followers, our greatest desire should be for souls. When was the last time we wept over the unsaved? Are we moved to make sure we have done everything we can, said everything we can, prayed every way we know how to make sure people know the way to Heaven?
Jesus’ call to discipleship isn’t simply a call to a right relationship and right living, but it is a call to the mission of salvation. We have been called in order that we may call others to go with us.
Maybe our first step to winning the lost is an act of repentance. Maybe this first step is simply admitting that we really haven’t cared about the mission. Whether people give their lives to Christ or not, whether they go to Heaven or Hell, hasn’t really been of much concern to us. Maybe we haven’t taken it seriously because we haven’t cared like we should. O God, break our hearts for what breaks yours. Give us a love for people that motivates us to go and to work and to care. Maybe this morning we need to repent from apathy.
Maybe it isn’t apathy that we need to repent of. Maybe it’s just busyness. Maybe we have been too busy, too focused on our own success and fulfillment that we haven’t taken time to invest in someone who is dislocated from the love of God. Maybe this morning we need to repent from busyness.
Perhaps it is fear that keeps us from sharing God’s plan of salvation. Either we don’t want to be labeled a fanatic or we’re afraid we can’t answer every question someone might ask. If we are afraid, we have given Satan an inroad into our lives because God doesn’t hand out fear. (II Timothy 1:7) Maybe this morning we need to repent from allowing fear to paralyze us.
In Luke 10:2 Jesus said,”The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
What does that verse mean? It means that people need salvation everywhere. The potential for a harvest of souls is great. But are we as God’s workers, actively trying to harvest those souls? Are we planting? Are we watering? Are we working in the fields? If we aren’t, why aren’t we, and what will it take to get us to do so? Wilbur Chapman put it well when he said:
If to be a Christian is worthwhile, then the most ordinary interest in those with whom we come in contact should prompt us to speak to them of Christ.
If the New Testament is true–and we know that it is–who has given us the right to place the responsibility for soul-winning on other shoulders than our own?
If they who reject Christ are in danger, isn’t it strange that we, who are so sympathetic when the difficulties are physical or temporal, should apparently be so devoid of interest as to allow our friends and neighbors and family to come into our lives and pass out again without a word of invitation to accept Christ, to say nothing of sounding a note of warning because of their peril?
If today is the day of salvation, if tomorrow may never come and if life is equally uncertain, how can we eat, drink and be merry when those who live with us, work with us, walk with us and love us are unprepared for eternity because they are unprepared for time?
If Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men, who gave us the right to be satisfied with making fishing tackle or pointing the way to the fishing banks instead of going ourselves to cast out the net until it be filled?
If Jesus himself went seeking the lost, if Paul the Apostle was in agony because his kinsmen, knew not Christ, why should we not consider it worthwhile to go out after the lost until they are found?
If I am to stand at the judgment seat of Christ to render an account for the deeds done in my body, what shall I say to Him if my children are missing, if my friends are not saved or if my employer or employee should miss the way because I have been faithless?
If I wish to be approved at the last, then let me remember that no intellectual superiority, no eloquence in preaching, no absorption in business, no shrinking temperament or no spirit of timidity can take the place of or be an excuse for my not making an honest, sincere, prayerful effort to win others to Christ.
Wow. Take a minute. I know I need one.
Take a minute to think about opportunities that have passed you by when you haven’t shared the Gospel with people who need it.
Take a minute to evaluate your personal faithfulness to be a fisher of men.
Take a minute to take in the seriousness of our failure to share what we have found.
Take a minute to think about how long eternity lasts.
Take a minute to think of those in your sphere of influence who need Jesus. Who is your one more? How many one mores can you reach?
Maybe you have asked them before, but maybe they are waiting for someone to ask them just one more time. On your seat are pieces of paper where I want you to write down the names of unsaved people that you can begin to pray for and ask God to use you to witness to them. In just a moment, while a song plays, I urge you to bring those names to the crosses on the floor here at each side of the platform and lay them down as a symbol of your willingness to witness to them.
And if you want to stop and pray at an altar or if you want someone to pray with you about your need to repent from not witnessing for some reason or if you need to accept Jesus as your Savior today, prayer counselors will be standing on the sides and will be ready to receive you. If you wish to pray alone today, just kneel at one of the altars where you can meet alone with the Lord.