Jesus Skeptic, Message Part 1

Exploring The Question, "How Can I Make A Difference In The World?".

John Dickerson
Jul 3, 2022    49m
Have you ever asked yourself, how can I make a difference in the world? This message shares real-life stories of people who were powered by the Holy Spirit to illustrate how God uses ordinary people who truly believe in Jesus to do extraordinary good in this world. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

John Dickerson: [00:00:04] All right, Venture, hello. Good to see you guys. Hey, for those of you who don't know me, my name is John, and I used to live here, and I miss you guys. I kind of feel like I'm back home a little bit, so we've been looking forward, my wife, Melanie, me, and our three kids, we've been looking forward to this trip out here really for about a year now. We're just thrilled to be back.

John Dickerson: [00:00:28] So, hey, if I don't know you at all, let's start off with something that we all have in common, and that is we want the best for the people we love and care about. So right now, would you just think of someone you care about, maybe it's a child, a grandchild, maybe it's a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a spouse, someone that you think, man, I want them to live in freedom, I want them to live free from violence, I want them to live free from injustice, free from disease. Do you have a person in mind? Here's who I have in mind, I've got my two daughters in mind. We've got three kiddos, and here are my two girls, Zoey on the left, and Evy on the right. And they're about the best thing that has ever happened to me, just the sweetest girls. They think that I know everything, they think I'm super smart, which is awesome, they think I'm really strong, and that I really can't do anything wrong. And I guess I hear from some of you who have teenagers that maybe that changes a little bit as they get older, but I've got my fingers crossed that it won't happen with them. Zoey and Evie have this whole little world they live in with stuffed animals and dolls. I mean, in their bedroom, there are probably over 100 total stuffed animals and dolls, here's just a couple of them. Everyone has a name, everyone has a story, and very often if you listen in on to their imaginary play, these stories get pretty intricate and pretty involved.

John Dickerson: [00:01:54] But I have noticed this in their world, while sometimes there are problems to solve and difficulties to overcome, I've noticed that there's no COVID in their world, there's no cancer, and a lot of the things we deal with aren't there, it's actually a pretty soft little world. However, there is a villain in their world, actually. You see, Zoey and Evie are my two daughters, but I also have a son named Jack, their older brother. And Jack's a super sweet guy, he loves his sisters, but he's the only boy in the house, and sometimes he just gets overcome because Jack's not so much into dolls and stuffed animals as he is into dragons, T-Rexs, and fighter jets. And every once in a while, Jack can't control himself and there will just be a raid on the village. And this is just a normal part of childhood, but the other day, this was probably about a year ago this happened, I just can't forget it. My one daughter came to me in tears, and she said, Dad, it just feels like everything I was working for is ruined.

John Dickerson: [00:03:08] It's funny, but I wonder, do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel like, you know, you're just working so hard for the dream family or for your job, or maybe you care about the country and its direction, or the world and the people in it, and you see different events that transpire, and you just feel like, man, I'm trying to do everything right and it's just not working? Some days it feels like the world around us is being torn apart, it feels like our society is being torn apart, and it feels like justice is being torn apart.

John Dickerson: [00:03:43] I want to wrestle today with this question, as I watched my daughter in tears go back and kind of rebuild her world. Where you want to help the people around you, where you want to rebuild what's broken in the world, how can you make a difference in such an impossibly big world? I mean, when the sickness of humanity grieves you, what can you do about it? Or put another way, how can you be a force for good in a world that I mean, it's so big, it's so complex, and in many ways, it's so broken and it's so hurting. If I could tell you today how you can be part of the solution to whatever it is that pains you in the world. I mean, whatever it is that pains you, maybe it's racism, maybe it's injustice, maybe it's more moral morality, the direction people are going. If you could be part of the solution to that problem that pains you, would you want to know how?

John Dickerson: [00:04:46] Well God answers this question for us, and as always, we're going to find the answer in the word of God. But I actually want to start with a story, because I believe God's answer in his word points us to a mosaic of lives, real people who prove that God can use people like you and me to solve the problems that pain us in the world. And I want to take you into a true story that rose out of the ashes of a natural disaster, it was actually an EF5 tornado that hit in Rochester, Minnesota, in August of 1883. This EF5 tornado was actually just one in a series of tornadoes that completely destroyed this little town, dozens of people were killed, hundreds of people were injured, and thousands of people lost everything they had. All of a sudden, there are orphans and widows and many, many people who are homeless, and many, many businesses that are destroyed.

John Dickerson: [00:05:48] Now, at the time, the city there, Rochester, didn't have a hospital. In fact, back in 1883, there were only three hospitals in all of Minnesota, the entire state. But God had placed someone there in the debris, someone there in the wreckage, it was a young woman named Mary Moes. And Mary Moes was this woman who had given her life to the teachings of Jesus, and she'd actually grown up in a family that had quite a bit of money, and she walked away from all of that to be a devoted follower of Jesus. And she took Jesus' words literally, so when Jesus said, whatever you do for the least of these you've done unto me, Mary Moes was the kind that as she's bandaging the wounds of a child who's got shrapnel from the tornado, she's imagining that she's bandaging the wounds of Jesus. I mean, she was a fanatical follower of Jesus. She took the words of James the Apostle, literally, when he said true religion before God and the Father is this, to care for the widows and the orphans in their affliction. And we actually have a picture of Mary, here's what she looks like, you can see how religious she is, she even dressed the part. I mean, she gave her life entirely to be a follower of Jesus. And there, through the rubble, in the debris, she's putting together little groups of the survivors and she's nursing them.

John Dickerson: [00:07:14] And she comes across this doctor, the one doctor in town, and she says to the doctor, we should create a hospital here. We've got all these people who are hurting, you're a doctor, let's start a hospital. And he said, no, no, Rochester is not a big enough city to have a hospital. He said, one, I don't have enough nurses. And two, there's no way you could come up with enough money to build a hospital. Mary said more or less, challenge accepted. She went out and she found about 30 other of these young women who had given their full lives to Jesus, and she shows up with these 30 women and she says, we'll all be your nurses, we'll bandage the wounds, we'll lift people from bed to bed, we'll change the bedpans, we'll do all the messy work, all the grunt work, if you'll just be the doctor. And he said, well, you still don't have enough money to build a hospital. She said, well, what if me and these other 30 women will go door to door as long as it takes to raise enough money? And sure enough, they did, it took them a few years and they built this little building. And together, she and these other women, they were getting no pay, they were doing all of this out of their love for Jesus, kept caring for the people. The doctor started to add to his staff, and eventually, they said, what are we going to name this thing? Well, Doctor, your name is Mayo, let's name it the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Mayo never had a vision for a world-changing hospital, Mary Moes didn't even, she just had an obedience to Jesus.

John Dickerson: [00:08:39] Now, if you know much about medicine, you know that the Mayo Clinic is the number one hospital not only in the United States, but in the world. That its practices have been used by all the other leading hospitals in the world, and that while it has directly saved hundreds of thousands of lives, it has indirectly saved millions of lives. If you were to go to the Mayo Clinic today in Rochester, Minnesota, right in the middle of the campus is this hospital, which is named Saint Mary's Hospital after Mary Moss. The point is this, in the midst of tornadoes, in the midst of debris, God is looking for ordinary people who will really believe what Jesus says. And when we believe what Jesus says with our actions, it does extraordinary good. God uses ordinary people. You might think, oh, John, I'm not going to start a hospital. My life's not that significant. That's probably how Mary Moes felt, she wasn't strategically thinking, ah, we're going to start the number one hospital in the world. She said, Jesus said to care for the sick, he said to care for the poor, and she just obeyed Jesus, she ran his plan and ended up having this huge, extraordinary impact on all of humanity.

John Dickerson: [00:09:59] I want you to think right now, what kind of tornado are you in? Mary Moes found herself in a literal tornado where she was just grieved to see people homeless and hurting. What is it that's grieving you in the world? Is it what people are believing? Maybe it's a grief of your own identity. Maybe you're in a tornado of who am I? What do I really believe? God will use ordinary people who truly believe Jesus to do extraordinary good in this world.

John Dickerson: [00:10:31] Well, I haven't always been a pastor. I used to work as an investigative journalist back when that was a little bit more admirable of a thing. Journalism has become not what it was, I was raised in the old school of there is objective truth, and you go find the story and you acknowledge that you have prejudice and bias, and you tell the truth no matter if you believe it or not, we don't see a ton of that kind of journalism anymore. But when I was an investigative reporter, I did a whole series of stories on medicine, on hospitals in Arizona. It was a series that Charles Gibson and Tom Brokaw and a number of other national news leaders gave some national awards to. But as I was doing those stories, I started to notice something, all the best hospitals were named Saint Joseph's, St Mary's, St this St that, Baptist this, Methodist that, Catholic this. And I thought, why do Christians have the corner on the hospitals? Where's the diversity here? Why aren't there some more atheist hospitals and other world religion leading hospitals? I started to look into the founding of the top hospitals in the country, and that's how I learned the story of Mary Moes. And I learned that her story is not an exception or some weird, you know, some weird anomaly.

John Dickerson: [00:11:57] Now, let me tell you just a couple of others very briefly. One of the other top five in the country would be Massachusetts General over in Boston. Do you know how Massachusetts General started? Two pastors wanted to care for the poor and the sick there in Boston. By the way, those pastors were seminary students at a Bible seminary called Harvard, which was also started by a pastor. And I started to kind of unearth these things that I had never been taught, and that a lot of the, quote, smart people I know would say, there's no way that's true. But when I would look at the founding documents and the irrefutable evidence as a journalist, it's irrefutable that Mary Moes was a follower of Jesus, it's irrefutable that the two pastors who started Massachusetts General were followers of Jesus. Johns Hopkins, one of the top three in the country, was started by a Quaker Christian named Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins was a businessman, very successful, but his Quaker parents had raised him in Christian Sunday school to believe that slavery was wrong before it was outlawed, to believe that caring for the poor and the needy is what Jesus taught. And so when Johns Hopkins was nearing the end of his life with no heirs and no legacy to speak of, he left his fortune, and he split it three ways. An orphanage for African American children of slaves. A university that would better society by teaching the Word of God. And a hospital called Johns Hopkins, which, very much like the Mayo Clinic, has not only directly saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but has created practices used the world over. I found that these weren't exceptions.

John Dickerson: [00:13:36] And then as I continued working as a news reporter, I started to run into people like Mary Moes and Johns Hopkins who are alive today. I was assigned by my editor to go down to the border of Arizona and walk the trails where immigrants would illegally come across into the country, and there's a lot of conflict and there's a lot of politics around that. But what my editor wanted me to document is just how many die baking in the sun in the desert every year? It's a few hundred. And I ran into this young woman who was a student at Arizona University, a very gifted young woman, and she had given her life to going out and putting these water jugs out there. And I said, why do you do this? She said, well, one, I do respect the rule of law, I don't think it's right that they're doing this, but they don't know that a lot of them and these people are literally baking to death in the sun. And she said, I'm a follower of Jesus and He said, Whatever you do for the least of these you've done unto me.

John Dickerson: [00:14:33] Then up in Phoenix, I met this woman named Kit Danley. Kit was an inheritor of what you'd call old money, money had been in her family for generations. She sold a huge chunk of her fortune, she bought an entire city block in a rough area of Phoenix, and she hired a staff, and they pretty much built this whole compound. And any boy who was getting caught up in gang activity, or any girl who was about to go into prostitution, she would invite them in. And if they would live by the house rules of this community, it was like a big orphanage, but they would also get an education and she'd teach them skills. And I got to meet kids who she had pulled off the street, who were now doctors and attorneys. And I said, what motivated you to do all this? And she said I'm a follower of Jesus.

John Dickerson: [00:15:21] And it got me to the point where, you know, having been raised as a Christian, but then having doubted a lot of it, I realized that for myself, I really had to look and see, is this Jesus guy real? I mean, the impact that I was seeing on society was undeniable, but did the guy really live? So I spent about a week, I thought it would take a year to really, you know, let's look at all the historical evidence did this guy even live? It took about a week because the historical evidence is overwhelming, and it's in my book if you want to see the historical evidence of the proof that Jesus lived. But I would say this, if you search that out with just a genuine curiosity of I just want to know the truth, I'm not prejudiced, it's irrefutable the evidence that Jesus lived. If you would somehow come to the conclusion that he didn't live, then you'd have to also conclude that Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, and pretty much anyone from over 1500 years ago didn't live. I mean, the evidence is overwhelming.

John Dickerson: [00:16:21] So once I had concluded, okay, I know 2000 years ago this guy lived in Nazareth named Jesus. I know that today his followers are changing the world in ways that are very curious to me and exceptional. How do we know what happened in the middle? I mean, do we know what this guy said? So I started to look into the ancient manuscripts, now here's what they look like, this is a papyrus, so that's plant-based paper, and that's Greek. And these are found scattered all around the ancient Near East, they still find them in caves and in the desert sand in Egypt. And here's what I found, if you look at Alexander the Great, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, we don't have any copies of their original writings. And the closest date we have to the time of their life is usually a few hundred years, but nobody doubts when they read Aristotle in a book that's been translated from a Greek manuscript that was 400 years after that, that's what Aristotle wrote. I found that these, papyrus, and they're also Latin copies on leather, which you'll find in the caves in Italy and all around the world, they're much closer to Jesus' life, they are within a hundred years, and there are thousands of them, and they continue to find new ones that are sometimes 1200 years old, sometimes 1800 years old. And for the last 400 years, scholars at the leading universities around the world have been putting all of these next to each other, it's called textual criticism, and they've found that if you look at the gospels, that is the accounts of Jesus' life, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and then the Book of Acts has some of Jesus words as well, it's about a 98% agreement. You can take an Egyptian papyrus and you can take another one that's on vellum leather out of a cave in Italy from 800 years later, 98% agreement. And the bottom line that I had to conclude from an objective perspective was this, if I believe that when I read the words of Socrates and Aristotle and Plato that those are their words, then I have to believe that the Gospels are Jesus' words.

John Dickerson: [00:18:28] So at this point, you don't have to believe in God, you don't have to believe in anything supernatural or religious to simply acknowledge, did the guy live? Yes. Do we know what he said? Well, we have as accurate a record as any other historic figure. And that led me then to start reading, what did he say? What did this guy say who's motivating girls today who are college students to go out in the desert in Arizona and put jugs of water, millionaires to sell their fortunes, and buy city blocks to help kids, people like Mary Moes? What did Jesus say? Here's one of the things Jesus said that caught my attention as a researcher and a journalist. After Jesus died on the cross, and his followers believe rose from the dead, he's talking with his disciples, and he makes a prediction.

John Dickerson: [00:19:16] Now try to take your churchy glasses off and just look at this objectively and historically. We know the guy lived, we know the guy said this, what are the chances of this prediction, which we know was made 2000 years ago, what are the chances of it coming true? Because here's what he says to his ragtag group of followers, there's maybe 120 of them, they don't have any land, they don't have an army, they have no political power, they don't have a building, and he says this, "You'll receive power when the very spirit of God comes upon you.", big claim, and as a result of that, "You will be my witnesses." In other words, you're going to tell people that I'm God, Jesus says, in Jerusalem, that's where they lived. So it'd be like me saying, you're going to be a witness in the Bay Area. In Judea, Samaria gets cross cultural, a little uncomfortable for them. But here's what caught my attention, "And to the ends of the earth." Now, if you're looking at that objectively, that is a ridiculous prediction, that's impossible, steam locomotives don't exist yet, printing presses don't exist, and this guy is telling his ragtag group of followers, you're going to go tell people and my movement will spread to the ends of the earth. Impossible. Socrates didn't do that, Aristotle didn't do that, only crazy people say this kind of stuff, right? The very Spirit of God is going to come upon you, and as proof, you're going to tell people about me all around the world. By the way, many people in history have claimed that their movement would spread to the ends of the earth, Napoleon claimed that, Alexander the Great claimed that, the Third Reich in Germany, they claimed that they would take over the world, the Soviet Union claimed that it would take over the world, it didn't last even a hundred years. Many religious figures have claimed this. What I loved about this claim is that it's measurable, here we are. 2000 years later, we have modern technology, we have sociologists who measure what everyone in the world believes, and we can see, did this radical prediction come true or not? That's fascinating to me, whether you believe in spiritual things or not.

John Dickerson: [00:21:37] So where was Christianity worldwide when Jesus made this prediction? All the blue areas are Christian, it doesn't even register, right, 120 people out of the total world population, and he says, you're going to spread my message to the ends of the earth, it's ridiculous, it's impossible. Now, as a researcher, I didn't want to ask Christians how many Christians there are in the world because I thought they might be a little biased. There's an objective sociology group called the Pew Research Center, and they're kind of the gold standard of what you'd call sociology. So I looked it up with the Pew Research Center, where are Christians in the world today? And here's the map of their research, all the areas in blue are areas that are Christian, and the darker blue, the higher percentage. As you can see, this movement has spread literally to the ends of the earth. Even the countries that are white are all countries that historically had Christians, but it's illegal to be a Christian in those countries, you get killed in those countries for being a Christian. And by the way, there are actually still are Christians in those countries, just when the Pew Research Center comes in and says, raise your hand, people don't raise their hand because they want to keep their hand in their neck as well. And of course, down in Antarctica, you know, it's not blue because there's no population there other than the penguins.

John Dickerson: [00:23:04] I actually learned in this research from Pew Research Center that Christianity, followers of Jesus, is the largest movement ever in the history of the world. So today, out of about 7 billion people, about 2.4 billion, roughly one out of every three people in the world today wears a cross or claims to be a Christian, or says they're a follower of Jesus. It is by far the largest movement ever in the history of the world, and the other world religions tend to be really regionally focused, they have not spread to the ends of the earth, that's pretty notable. And it got me thinking this, if Jesus was right about that, and statistically, the chances of him being right about that are so close to zero, if Jesus was right about that, what if He was right about the other things He said? What if he was right when he said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I'll give you peace, I'll give you rest for your souls." What if he was right when he said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Creator and to paradise, to heaven, except through me." What if he's right about that, too? What if he's right when he says that he's Almighty God and that someday he's going to return to judge the living in the dead, and all the people who've ever lived will kneel before him and proclaim that he's King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and will each give an answer of what did we do when he reached out to us? Did we respond back? What if he's right about that? And I started to realize that the stakes are high, to simply say, well, whatever, I think it's for weak-minded people and to just brush it off, is a very ignorant thing to do and it's the largest movement in history. And the stakes are so high, I mean, what if this stuff is true? What if that's actually going to happen next? Next week, I'll share some of my experience of stepping out to test Jesus on those claims and those promises.

John Dickerson: [00:25:18] But right now, I want to take you back to the scene of the little dolls and stuffed animals in my girl's bedroom. Because what Jesus describes is this, [00:25:28]God wants you living in a perfect world. When God created Adam and Eve, according to his record, it was a perfect world, there was no cancer, there was no racism, there was no rape, there was no death, there was no disease, there were no locks on doors, and there wasn't even a need for hospitals. But what God describes is that there is a villain of humanity, that there are fallen angels, God calls them demons. One of them's name is Lucifer, it's not made-up stuff. And God says that those demons came into this world to kill and steal and destroy, and they're the author of pain and destruction, and they primarily enslave people through ideas, ideas that cause people to harm themselves and harm others. And Jesus came as a light into that darkness so that whoever believes in him, whoever doesn't reject the light, can finally see the truth about who we are and that we do need rescue. And can actually, if you'll trust in Jesus, if you'll humble yourself to stop being the God of your life and let Him be the God of your life, He can not only open your eyes, but he can then transform your heart. [00:26:38]And it makes you a better husband, it makes you a better employee, it makes you a better person. You're then able to say no to the things that hurt you and hurt others, and you're able to say yes to living a life of serving others like Mary Moes, like Kit Danley, like so many others. Jesus is really the hero of the human condition.

John Dickerson: [00:26:59] And I want to encourage you, I know I'm talking to two groups today. Some of you are here and you're not yet sure what you believe, you're not even sure if you believe in God. I just want to encourage you, stay with me today and please come back next week. I once was where you're at, and just give it a fair chance, so many people don't give Jesus a true, fair chance. For those of you who would say, yes, I am a follower of Jesus, or I am a Christian, here's where I want to invite you in our time, I want to ask you to open your heart to God and really invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you today. To answer this question, do you really believe the words of Jesus like Mary Moes did? I mean, are you living it out? Doesn't mean you have to sell everything and put on the religious garb she wore, but in your workplace, in your family, in your school, in your neighborhood, are you actually living like someone who believes the words of Jesus to be true? Because that's how we change the world. We don't have to have a grand strategic plan, we just be faithful to run God's play, God's way, and if He puts you in the middle of a tornado, maybe you start a little home and it ends up becoming, after your lifetime, the number one hospital in the world. Or maybe you just faithfully raise your sons and your daughters, or you serve in the local church, and a little boy or a little girl grows up and they change the world spiritually or medically or socially. If you're a follower of Jesus today, God has important work for you to be doing.

John Dickerson: [00:28:35] And it's easy for us when we see the world around us falling apart to just get depressed, or to turn inward, or to kind of bunker down and think, I've just got to survive this crazy world mentality, and lose sight of the fact that Jesus said, go and make disciples. Here's how you change the world, you go and make disciples, you baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and then you teach them my new way of life, that's what changes the world, that changes the hearts of voters, that changes the thinking of lawmakers, that changes the future, that changes the present, that makes your life so much bigger than your life could be.

John Dickerson: [00:29:12] With each of our different gifts. God has called us followers of Jesus to do that. So if you're a parent, I want to encourage you today your ministry of raising your sons or daughters, your grandkids for the Lord. If you're a programmer where you work, if you're a software engineer, if you're an entrepreneur, whatever you do, God has placed you where you are so that you can do your part in the kingdom and only you can do your part in the kingdom, I can't do it, no one else can do it. God has given each of us unique gifts, and He still uses ordinary looking people to do extraordinary things.

John Dickerson: [00:29:49] Let me tell you another story about that. There was a time when there was a global pandemic, we can all relate to that. but it was actually a far deadlier global pandemic than COVID. It was called smallpox, and there were not hospitals like we have today, and scientific understanding of disease and immune systems was nowhere near what it is today. And smallpox had killed more than 50 million people, a huge number of people, entire towns, entire nations, no one was immune. Ben Franklin's son died from smallpox, many world leaders and their kids were dying from smallpox. And the idea, you know, we're born into a world where there's a lot of diseases that have been eradicated, but no disease had ever been eradicated. Now I'm going to show you a picture of what smallpox looks like, and I will disclaimer it, if you have a weak stomach, look away. I warned you, all right. Here's what smallpox looked like, the kiddo in the middle has smallpox, and these marks would cover the entire body, it was incredibly lethal, far more deadly than COVID. And even the people who survived would be scarred physically for life, many people would lose their eyesight as a result of it. In the midst of this suffering, God placed a pastor who had nine kids, one of his kids was a pretty bright boy named Edward, and Edward showed an interest in medicine from a young age. So this pastor who had taught his son to read, so he could read the Bible, got him an apprenticeship with a surgeon. He did this at age 14, he started as a surgical apprentice, and went on the road of what we today would call a medical doctor, Edward had this bright mind.

John Dickerson: [00:31:39] And as smallpox was spreading around and the whole world was just living in fear. Keep in mind, world history, up until about 200 years ago, every 20 or 30 years, there'd be a black death or a plague or a pandemic, and a third or fourth of the world would just get wiped out. I mean, this was just normal. But Edward Jenner had this creative mind, and he had this calling as a follower of Jesus that he was doing medicine, not for profit, but he wanted to help people as God had instructed him to do. And he started to notice that these nursing, these maids who would milk the cows, that they would get this thing called cowpox, and it looked like smallpox, but then he started to notice they never got smallpox, they were immune to it. The word immune didn't really exist, and he started this whole field of thinking of immunology, that you have an immune system, and that you can expose your body to certain things that will strengthen your immune system. And he came up with this wild theory of what if we were to give someone cowpox on purpose, and then see if they get smallpox? He chose his own son; I wonder where he got that idea. And it worked, his son suffered with the cowpox, but then when his son was exposed to smallpox, his son didn't get it. And Edward Jenner invented this medicine that people could take, and they wouldn't get smallpox, and in his lifetime, it literally changed the world. Smallpox went from everyone was afraid of it, to within a few decades, no one in the world had it, and it was the first time ever in the history of the world that a disease was entirely eradicated, no one had ever seen that before.

John Dickerson: [00:33:24] Today, according to the World Health Organization, Edward Jenner, here's his picture, it's probably more pleasant to look at, has saved more lives than any other person in all of human history. He's the father of modern immunology, and he's why you're born into a world where you don't ever wake up and think, well, I hope I don't have tetanus, I hope I don't have rabies, I hope I don't have yellow fever or whooping cough or measles or mumps, those diseases have been eradicated where people will use this kind of medicine because of one person's insight.

John Dickerson: [00:33:57] But my point is this, if you asked Edward Jenner, why were you able to do that? He'd say this, he did say this, "I'm not surprised that men are not grateful to me, but I wonder that they're not grateful to God for the good which he has made me the instrument of conveying to my fellow creatures." In other words, this guy who has saved the lives of more people than anyone else in history, who, by the way, never made a profit from his invention, never patented it, never sold it. People would send him letters and say, we're scared our kids are going to get smallpox, he would mail them the medicine at his own cost. And he more or less says this medical breakthrough that has changed the world actually came from God, it didn't come from me. You can read in Edward Jenner's own journals, and you'll find quotes like this. He says, "The Sacred Scriptures." That is the Christian Bible, "Are the only pillow on which the soul can find rest, or repose and refreshment."

John Dickerson: [00:34:59] Now some of us in the false thinking of today would say, whoa, how could such a scientific person believe that you have a soul, and believe that the Bible is from God? Well, Edward Jenner wasn't alone in that, Isaac Newton believed that, Blaise Pascal believed that, and Johannes Kepler believed that. And I started to find, as a researcher, when I actually read the direct primary writings of these people who had these breakthroughs, that one after another, they were followers of Jesus, not someone's opinion, but their own writings.

John Dickerson: [00:35:28] The words of God, give life, I could go on and on. Did you know Down's syndrome, what we call it Down's Syndrome is from a doctor named Dr. Downs? He was a follower of Jesus, who in a culture where people who had that kind of syndrome were outcasts and throwaways, he created an orphanage in a home for kids with this disease, they didn't know what to call it, so they called it Down's Syndrome, and in the middle of his orphanage is a chapel because he'd tell them all about Jesus and how God loved them.

John Dickerson: [00:35:57] The impact of followers of Jesus on our modern world started to astound me, as I did more and more research I found, I won't go into detail today, but as I looked at the writings of the key people who ended slavery Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, who was illiterate, but in her recorded speeches, talked about Jesus all the time. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, a Baptist pastor, the people who gave their lives to end slavery, when you read their own writings, they're called the abolitionists, it's all documented, you'll find the New Testament quoted over and over and over again. They'll say, Jesus said, I've come to set the captives free. We're willing to die to set slaves free because of what Jesus said.

John Dickerson: [00:36:40] Medicine, modern medicine, we've already talked about Mary Moes, we've talked about Edward Jenner, Dr. Francis Collins is alive today, leading geneticists in the world who became a Christian by studying the genetic code and concluding there has to be a creator. The story continues, hospitals we've talked about, universities, top ten, pick any one, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cambridge, Oxford, all started by Christians and all documented, it's in their founding charters. And they're all in this book that I wrote, Jesus Skeptic, because I wanted young people especially, to have this evidence. So that you know it's not an opinion, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are part of the greatest movement for social good in human history. Don't let people intimidate you about it, don't be embarrassed about it, you're part of the greatest movement for social good. And if someone challenges you on it, you can look in there and you can see for yourself, okay, Yale, founded for the propagation of the Protestant Christian religion. If you remove the influence of Christianity in founding these blocks of modern society, and we would be back in the Dark Ages. Even the fact that we know how to read, this was not the norm in history, up until about 300 years ago, only about 5% of the world population knew how to read. You would most likely be illiterate, but it was Protestant Christians who said, we want to train our boys and our girls to read the Bible. Who created, let me nerd out for a moment here, in New England, here in the US, the Old Deluder Satan Act, which meant every town and village has to have a schoolhouse that teaches kids to read the Bible because otherwise Satan, the deluder, will enslave their minds. And we have to teach them to read the Bible, so they'll be free. In Germany, they called it kindergarten, and that's where we get our word kindergarten from, a Protestant Christian pastor. I could go on and on, but I started to realize if you remove these breakthroughs from history, we'd be living in a very different world.

John Dickerson: [00:38:35] Now, on the book, I just want to say this briefly, I want to say thank you to you as a church Venture, because when I was here as a teaching pastor, that job allowed me the freedom when I wasn't teaching, to put all this research that I had spent the last ten years gathering, to actually put it into a book. And God's using it, at Easter, I got to baptize a retired medical doctor, and I love it that her name is Mary, Dr. Mary. She had been a skeptic her whole life, she read Jesus Skeptics, she became a believer, and I got to baptize her on Easter Sunday. Yeah, to God be the glory, it's all his truth, I just got to put it all in one book. We've got a high school senior in our church named Katie; she became a believer her sophomore year of high school when she read Jesus Skeptic. And so I want you to know, those of you who've been part of Venture here, what are you doing? You're running God's play God's way, you're supporting a local church, you're making disciples. And who knows what God's going to do through Katie, who's a senior in high school. Who knows what God's going to do through a retired doctor Mary, who's only like 54 and now is joining our Whole World View Initiative to help train the next generation?

John Dickerson: [00:39:45] The point is this, when you run God's play God's way, he uses you to do extraordinary good in the world. And I think God brought me here this weekend, for those of you who are believers to encourage you, keep running God's play God's way. We don't have to be smart, we don't have to have a massive strategic plan, just go and make disciples. The Holy Spirit is upon you, so go and be witnesses of Jesus in your workplace, be witnesses of Jesus in your neighborhood, and in your family.

John Dickerson: [00:40:15] I want to tell you just one last story about another follower of Jesus who's living out his faith in our time. This is my friend Ralph, he's a fireman, that's an actual picture of Ralph Lucas, that's his last name, it's in Prescott, Arizona. And when I lived in Prescott. Arizona, one day I was sitting at lunch with Ralph, and he said, John, the most incredible thing happened to me this last week. Ralph always had a good story, and I said, Ralph, you've got to tell me, what are you talking about? He started to describe to me that he was off duty, he was actually driving in this big Ford pickup, didn't have any of his fire gear on, but he had his radio on, and he heard a call come through of a baby who had been left in a car. Sadly, this happens in in Arizona with the sun and the heat, usually, it's a death. He hears the call, and he hears the address and he realizes it's about two blocks away from where he is, and he knows where all the fire trucks are in the area, and he knows he can get there first. So even though he's off duty, he slams the brakes on, does a U-turn in his truck, and floors it. It's a gas station on a corner, he careens into the gas station, slams on the brakes, and he jumps out and there's this mom and she's just freaking out. She's holding this lifeless baby; she has no idea what to do. Ralph's training kicks in and he goes right over to her, he scoops up the baby. He yells to some of the bystanders who've gathered around to run inside and get ice out of the gas station so they can physically cool the body down, and then Ralph immediately begins CPR. CPR, which, by the way, was invented by a Christian doctor, but I'm not making that point right now. If you've ever seen in real life or on a movie with an adult for CPR, you use two hands and your whole-body weight to try to get the heart moving. And then, of course, those rescue breaths into the mouth are to get the lungs moving, to get the whole circulatory system going. Well, on a little baby like that, it's different, they're so little, that you just take your two fingers and right on the sternum, you just press right there real fast, little fluttering heartbeats to get the heart going. And then because their face is so small, you actually put your mouth over their mouth and their nose. And so, Ralph, as a follower of Jesus, trained as a life-saving paramedic and firefighter, he's got this hot baby in his hands, he's doing the little compressions on the chest, he's putting his mouth over the mouth and nose, and he's breathing his breath into the lungs of this little child. And he can see with his line of sight, he can see the little lungs go up, and then he'd do the compressions again. And the whole time he's praying, God, I know it would be a miracle, please spare this child. God, please let this child return to life. And the mom's freaking out, and the people are gathering around and they're pouring ice on the body, and Ralph continues with the compressions and the breathing and he's just watching the chest. And then Ralph said, John, it was the most surreal moment of my life, that I'm praying and I'm holding this baby and all of a sudden, I feel in my mouth its breath as it exhales. And Ralph pulls the baby away and it starts to sputter, and it starts to cry and it's breathing and it's alive, and he's crying, and the mom's crying, and everyone's crying.

John Dickerson: [00:43:42] [00:43:42]God describes his Spirit as his breath. My breath will come upon you, it's the Greek word pneuma, and you'll be my witnesses. You'll go out into a world where people are dying, and if you'll tell them about me, they'll come back to life, they'll be set free, and their eyes will be opened. As a follower of Jesus, God wants to use you to breathe life into a dying world, one person at a time, one family at a time, one neighborhood at a time. You don't have to change the electorate, you don't have to change Russia, you don't have to change these huge things, be a follower of Jesus where you are, tell people about Jesus where you are. And if all of us who are followers of Jesus would actually do that, we'd see eyes opening, we'd see dead people coming to life spiritually. [00:44:44]Imagine this movement at Venture, if all of us this next week woke up every day, and just like Ralph, the firefighter, just like Edward Jenner, the doctor, just like Mary Moes in Rochester, Minnesota, what if we, simple, ordinary people woke up every day believing that the power of God is in us to breathe his life into a dying world? God uses ordinary people who actually believe in Jesus to do extraordinary good.

John Dickerson: [00:45:15] Let me pray that for you right now, Father, in this place, I pray, I want to pray first for the person who's not sure what they believe, the person who's doubting or they have questions. Lord, you promised that person, if you seek me, you'll find me if you search with all your heart. And God, I pray that you'll give the doubter or the skeptic, give them the grace to turn their will to you, to seek you so that they can find you. God, I thank you that you did that for me and for how you've changed me. And Lord, I pray now for all of us who have received your gift of salvation. God, I pray that we would live this week like we actually believe your words to be true, that when we see a coworker, a neighbor, a relative, they wouldn't just be an inconvenience or a person, but that we'd see an eternal soul. And then, like Mary Moes, we'd sacrifice some of our own comforts to bandage their wounds, to let them know there's a God who loves them. And even if they reject us, even if they misunderstand us, Jesus, suffering servant, make us more like you. You've given us the recipe to change the world, we just fail to use it very often. Lord, I pray for this movement as it makes disciples that your life-breathing Spirit power would be on every man and woman and on every son and daughter, that every one of us would believe you and that we would live like it. We pray in Your name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032