What It Means To Have Christian Maturity | Dr. Chip Bennett
Just Take the Next Step | Week 6
So, one of the things that I've tried to do, and sometimes, probably, better than others, over the last 12 plus years since we started Grace Community Church is I tried my best visually, in my mind, every time I've gotten up to speak, to think about how every person in here has a toolbox. Sometimes, those toolboxes are not filled with many things. So, when life comes, it's sort of difficult because maybe you don't have the flashlight, the screwdriver, the wrench, or whatever it would be that you would need to address life. So, one of the things I've tried to do over the years, and, probably, in some messages better than others, and maybe in some series better than others, is I've tried to make sure that everybody at Grace who is a believer is equipped. I really believe in Ephesians 4. It says that a pastor and a teacher is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and I take that very seriously.
I know other people see things differently, and that's fine. I don't think that the way we do things are, necessarily, the only way they can be done. But rather than trying to get people in here and doing whatever needs to be done to try to get people in so that they can know about Jesus, I've decided, in this ministry, for the last 12 years, I want to train and equip people so that when we go, we can leave here and try to be ready to go reach people outside of the four walls of this church because I want to build solid, mature Christians who really walk the walk and talk the talk.
One of the things that I'll say to you, as your pastor, is there is no way — it's impossible — on just a weekend service for you, me, or anybody to get enough to really be able to mature at the levels that God would want us to mature. So, I want to talk to you not only this weekend, but next weekend, because we're in a series called Just Take the Next Step, and I want to challenge you a little bit to take the next step in your Christian walk, in your Christian maturity process, to think about, “Do I want to take that step to have more maturation in my life and to grow in my faith?”
That’s what I want to do. I'm going to tell you, right now, that I try, every weekend, to give as much as I can. I say very, very little other than everything that needs to be in that 25-30 minutes. I try to compress it all because, for some people, it may be the only thing they hear all week. But I'm telling you, and I'm going to challenge you, to get more involved. Get involved in ministry. Get involved in small groups. Read your Bible. I mean, I try, every single weekend, to try to make the Bible, in the best way that I can, come to life so that you want to go home and read it. I want to challenge you in your prayer life. I want to challenge our church because I really believe — and if I'm wrong, it's still okay, but I believe we could possibly see some incredibly challenging times, and we just need to make sure that we are ready because what I don't want to do is stand before the Lord, one day, and find out that the people that we trained and pastored here just weren't equipped well enough. I want to make sure that you are equipped to handle life, and that your toolbox is filled with every tool and resource that you need to be able to live your Christian life. Amen to that? Is that a noble thing?
So, what I want to do is I want to go back to an epistle. We actually talked about James 5 a few messages back, but we're going to pick it up again in James 1. As I was doing the work this weekend, I realized I couldn't get through all the verses that I needed to go through, so we're going to continue. We'll stop this weekend, and we'll continue on. I think you're going to want to continue because I think there are some really great biblical passages. We're going to look at an epistle where the writer, who happens to be James, is trying to help his church, and the people that will read this letter, to grow up in their faith. They’re really faced with difficult times, and he wants them to live — because he's Jewish, he wants them to live in wisdom. Wisdom is this wonderful thing that's in the Old Testament. We think of wisdom a certain way, but wisdom in the Bible is knowing what God's Word is, and being able to then apply that to your life. The biblical writers don't think that you and I have the wisdom within us, that we don't just sort of know what God wants from us by nature, but we need to be shown that. That’s why Solomon says to search for it like silver and gold. Like, make sure because not knowing godly wisdom, and not living it, can actually, in many ways, cost us so many areas and consequences in our lives. So, James really wants the church that he's writing to, which has more churches and people, to be able to walk this thing out. In doing so, they wouldn't make a distinction in services between the rich and the poor because God doesn't look at people that way. That’s in James 2. In James 3, James is sort of saying to the teachers who are teaching in these churches, “Make sure that you don't teach things that are false. Make sure that what you say really matters because you can steer the body, the church, one way or the other.”
He says, “By the way, don't use your tongue to curse people that are made in the image of God and then bless God with the same tongue.”
Which is scary because so many people in America, in church, think that the more you run down people, the more you call out people by name, the more godly you are. James would say that is carnal. That is not godly at all. Bite that tongue. You can't curse and run down people who are made in the image of God and bless God with the same tongue. You’d be surprised how many people think that's mature Christianity to just run everybody down and say all kinds of negative things like we really even know them. Do you know what I'm saying? We run everybody down and we don't even — when's the last time you had lunch with them?
Then, in James 4, he talks about being selfish and greedy. Everybody's like, “We need to preach about the difficulties of life.”
Well, let's talk about greed. How about gluttony? Anybody been to Der Dutchman? I saw gluttony all over that place. I got in on it, too. I mean, my goodness. Do you really want to get gluttonous? Go to Fred's in Plant City and Lakeland. Man, we have a phrase in Kentucky. It’s so good that you swallow your tongue. You know? But what I'm saying is, like selfishness, these are the things. Then he says we need to learn to pray and be patient in James 5. So, he's trying to teach us.
What I'm going to do is I'm going to just start in James 1, we're only going to go through a couple verses, and we're going to continue next week. I'm just committed to — I was driving here today, and I was like, “At this point in my life, I'm just going to continue to preach line-by-line stuff, and that's just what we're going to do.”
As long as I'm the pastor here, we're going through the Bible all the time, every time. We're never going to deviate from that because we need it. You know? I know there are people out there who will tell you, “Oh, the Bible's outdated,” and everything else. I'm just going to tell you here, so that nobody is under any sort of question mark, that this church believes the Bible is the Word of God. Period. End of story. Okay? I make no apologies for that. So, we're going to start in James, and let's start. We’re going to talk about taking that next step towards being more mature, maybe going a little deeper, maybe trying to see how we can move forward in our faith. So, let's look here.
James 1:1: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
“To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
Now, lean in here, a little bit. Probably, when you're at home and you read this, you're like, “Okay, great. Verse two.”
Right? It’s okay. It’s okay that you would say that, but I'm committed to making sure that you know there are no surplus words in the Word of God. I want you to see here that this is not just, “Oh, this is great, Chip. What's the next verse?”
No, no. I do this so that maybe you go, “Whoa, I need to take some time,” or maybe you go home, and you blow the dust off the Bible, open it up, or whatever it may be. I'm not being snarky. I'm doing my best to get people excited about Jesus and about His Word because I'm telling you something, if you spend time with Him, and you spend time in His Word, there is no way your life will not change. It's impossible. It's impossible. Okay? So, let's look at this. Let's pay attention here.
First of all, we've got a guy named James. Well, this is important, James, because this is the brother of Jesus. I mean, this Jesus’ half-brother. After Mary had the virginal birth, later on they had other children, and James was one of them. Jesus' brother. Isn't it interesting that Jesus' brother, who could have said, “James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem — and, by the way, the brother of Jesus, lean in and pay attention.”
No. What does he say? He says, “James, a servant.”
“Doulos” is the Greek word. A slave. We could probably talk about maturity right here. James doesn't talk about or name-drop any stuff. He's just there to serve. I say this all the time. Do you want to find mature Christians? They’re the ones who just want to go grab a towel rather than a title. They just want to mop the floor, they just want to help out, and they just want to serve. They don’t want anybody to recognize them. They don’t want anybody to notice them. They just want to just do what they do for Jesus. I mean, James, if anybody, could have dropped the name.
“Yo, J.C., my brother.”
He says, “I'm a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now, you have probably had, every once in a while — if you haven't, you will. Somebody will knock on your door and say, “Jesus isn't God.”
You might have had some of those people. Let me tell you something, as your pastor, so that you understand. You don't need to be scared. You don't need to be worried. The whole New Testament is just loaded with the fact that Jesus is God. It's just assumed. Nobody even thinks to think differently. Let me show you here. He says that he’s the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no Jewish writer ever who would've put “God” and “the Lord” in the same phrase and thought, “Yeah, that's just two different things.”
They knew. In fact, Dan McCartney, who's got the Baker Exegetical Commentary series — it's an academic series. A really good series — here's what he says in his commentary on this. I think this is probably a little heady, but I think you'll get the point here. He says, “Since James includes no definite or indefinite articles with these words, it's possible to read this phrase as, ‘Servant of Jesus Christ, God and Lord.’”
That, grammatically, can be read that way.
He said, “But it's probably more likely that he's simply closely associating the two nouns, Lord Jesus Christ and God. In any case, we must remember that when a Jew put the words ‘God’ and ‘Lord’ together, the Lord in view could only be God.”
So, when you read James, and you're reading this intro, they're not just like, “Move on to the next verse.”
There's a lot being said here. James is a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, and working out that early Trinitarian formula of who God is and who Jesus is. He's the Lord. He’s God. I mean, it's powerful.
“James, a servant of God and of Lord Jesus Christ,
“To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
This is important to you. Now, this is not a salvific issue because this is a hermeneutical question. It's a question on how to interpret scripture, but I can tell you that what I'm going to tell you here stands within probably 90-95% of historical Christian interpretation over the last 2,000 years. There’s a strand of interpretation that's about 200 years old, that does run through our country pretty widely, that does this, but it's not within the large section of Christianity. Who these twelve tribes are or how we should interpret this. So, there will be some who will tell you, “Well, James is writing only to Jewish people because the twelve tribes are the twelve tribes out of the Old Testament, and that's who they are. There’s no other way it could be that way. So, he's writing to Jewish people, which would mean, theoretically — and those who hold to this position, and really hold to this position, would say to you that it's not written to you and me, at all, because we're Gentiles, most of us. So, the book of James then really has no meaning because he's writing to Jewish Christians.
I’ve got to watch my words here. I was going to say, “That is crazy,” but I'm going to back that up because I don't want to say those words. That's crazy. No. I mean — hold on. In my honest opinion, that doesn't take into account the whole New Testament and what's going on. There are not these two things where God's dealing with one group of people and dealing with another group of people. Paul couldn't say it any clearer in Ephesians 2. He says, “The two He's made one. There’s just one now. One new person, the Church.”
Jesus is actually the new Adam. He’s the new Israel. He constitutes the twelve apostles around Him. If you're in Jesus, you’re in Abraham. That's what Paul says in Galatians 3. He goes, “If you're in Christ, then you're part of Abraham's seed.”
That’s why he says about the Galatian church, in Galatians 6:16, “You are the Israel of God.”
Peter, writing to Gentiles, says, “You’re a holy people. You’re a chosen race. You’re all of these things.”
He’s using all the terms that you would use, but he goes, “You used to not be a people, but now you've been brought near.”
So, who are the twelve tribes that he's writing to? Well, it would be Jews and Christians who are out there. Although he's primarily writing to more of a Jewish church and Jewish people, it would include Gentiles. It's not just one group to the other. Otherwise, the epistle wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. Grant Osborne, a great scholar — nobody questions whether Grant Osborne is a great scholar — here's what he says about the twelve tribes.
“They're the Jewish-Christian churches of Asia Minor, as the righteous remnant gathered by God from the twelve tribes, reestablished as His people with the twelve apostles over them, and together with Gentile Christians constituting the new and true Israel of the new covenant age.”
Why do I say that? Why do I take some time out to read that? Because how you and me interpret the Bible really matters. I'm your pastor, and I'm going to do the best job I can to make the Bible come to life and make it understandable for you. Some of these issues are not salvific, but I'm not going to go through a text and not let you know, “Hey, what do I think is the best way to interpret this?”
So, James is writing to Jews and Gentiles. He’s writing to people who have been scattered throughout all of the Roman empire, and then here's what he says next to people who are going through some really difficult times.
He says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,”
Now, let's be honest. This is one of those passages that you go, “Yeah, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense because nobody really wants to go through something.”
What does he say? Well, again, this is the Word of God. He says, “Count it,” like reckon it or add it up. This is what we are supposed to do. We're supposed to count it, reckon it, determine, choose. We're to count it all joy. Not half, not 10%, not, “Well, I mean, there might be something good out of what's going on.”
No. Count it all joy. It could not be any clearer. Count it all joy, my brothers. Listen, when do we count it all joy? When do we do this? When do we count it all joy? When do we reckon it all joy? When do we add it up that it's all joy? Well, when we meet trials of various kinds.
You may say, “Wow. Okay. How? This doesn't make a whole lot of sense.”
Okay. Well, what he's done here is he's told us the “what.” When you do something, it's what you do. So, when people come to me and say, “Chip, why do we do First Friday? Why do we give out book bags to people? Why do we partner with the different groups we partner with?”
Well, we do it because of our “why.” That's what we do. The “why” is that we exist to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. So, everything that we do, the “what,” is informed by our “why.” We want to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. That's why we do the things that we do, and then what we do is what we do. James says, “This is what you do. You count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds,” and now he's going to tell you why we can count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds. Just saying that is one thing, but you’ve got to know why you would do this, and he does. Now he tells you.
He says, “…for you know…”
This is what you know.
“…you know that the testing of your faith…” — listen — “…produces steadfastness.”
Two Greek words put together which mean “to hold up under.” So, what he's saying is that you count all joy when you come into trial because what you know is that when your faith is tested, it gives you the ability to hold up under. Which is what none of us really want to do. We want to run out from underneath it. We're going to see, next week, when James talks about being tempted, these passages that we just yank out of context, the temptation is to get out of the trial. We’ll see this. Actually, every good and perfect gift are the trials. See, we read the Bible, and we just pick and choose.
“This verse here.”
Even “when you ask of wisdom” is dealing with this, not with, “Well, we’ve got to buy a house. James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom…” — that's not what it's talking about. It's not saying that you shouldn't pray, but that's not what that verse is talking about. That's why we read scripture here. That's why we go through it contextually. What does it say? Because here's what I know, and I've learned this in my life. When you don't read it right, then you apply it wrong. Okay?
So, he says, “…for you know that the testing of your faith…”
What pleases God? I'm not doing a very good job. Listen, the answer is faith. Okay? Without something, you cannot please God. What’s the answer? Oh, man. You guys have a good pastor. He's training you well. So, in the testing of our faith, what does God do? God gives you and me circumstances that don't look anything like what He promised. Why? So we can have faith. What pleases God? Faith. James says, “You should know this. You should know that whenever you fall into all these different problems, difficulties, and all this, what happens when your faith gets tested is it develops. You start to get some really strong shoulders that can hold up underneath the weight of the difficulty.”
“And let steadfastness [the ability to hold up underneath it]…”
Let steadfastness. Let steadfastness. Choose to do it. You and I get to choose. We can choose to get out of it, if we want. We can choose to find a way around it. He says, “No, no. You need to let steadfastness have its full effect.”
See, there's no Christian that when life comes at them, their faith has been tested to the point where they can hold up under any trial, any difficulty. That doesn't mean you don't cry, that doesn't mean you don't grieve, that doesn’t mean that there's not difficulty, but you're able to sustain in that because you have faith, and you trust God. He's like, “When you get to that place and you've allowed it to have its full effect, what happens is you become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. That doesn't mean you're perfect and never sin. That doesn't mean that you don't do something wrong, but you're at a place where nothing in the world can throw you a curveball and get you spun out of where you are in your relationship with God. You know that you know that you know, no matter what comes my way, it is well with my soul.
If there's any type of Christian we need in the world today, it's that one. Because, let’s agree, we've got a lot of chicken littles running around.
“Oh, the sky's falling.”
The sky ain't falling. I know who's holding it up.
I know who's holding it up. You go, “Well, it’s getting bad.”
Okay, it could get badder and badder and badder and badder. God's never going to be any gooder and gooder than He actually is. Okay?
So, he says, “…that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Next week, we're going to talk about wisdom, trials, temptation, and all this stuff. If we’ve got to go another week, we'll go another week, but we're going to stop here because now I’ve got to do some application stuff on taking this next step to being mature. Listen to me. I'm telling you, this is for you.
First of all, taking the next step to Christian maturity involves acknowledging and accepting the sovereignty of God. Notice, there, I didn't say you had to understand it. We'll get there in a minute. Acknowledging and accepting the sovereignty of God. If you don't believe that God is sovereign, it would really be hard to count it joy no matter what happened because there'd always be this sense of, “Well, what's going on here?”
We had a devotion right before the service. We do that on Saturday nights. I told the worship team, “Here’s the reality: If you don't believe that God is sovereign, if you don't believe that He’s really in control, then what you do is you start wondering what is.”
And we do this as Christians. We go, “Where did God go? How come He’s allowing this to happen to me? Why is this going on?”
He didn't go anywhere. There's nothing in all of creation that can separate you, as a believer, from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Period. And acknowledging that He’s sovereign moves from asking why to asking what.
“What are you doing? What are you trying to teach me? What are you trying to show me?”
Because you and I know this. We know this. We cannot count for joy that which we aren't sure God is in somehow, in some way involved, working through, and sovereign over. You can't. If you're going “Well, I don't know that He’s really — He can’t be in this. Well, then you don't know. You can't count that joy.
I’ll put it another way. If there's one thing in this universe that is somewhat outside of God's control, then we can never fully have confidence that God can and will do what He says. You go, “Well, yeah, but…”
I grew up in that tradition. I grew up in a tradition where all we did was pray at the devil. I remember, one time, we were praying in a group. We’d been praying for like 30 minutes. We'd cast out every demon in Tampa. We’d cast out every demon in the church. We had told Satan he was a liar. I'm sitting there, I'm in the group, and I'm going, “Man, we're praying to the devil like he's the one that's in control.”
I remember saying, “Maybe we ought to pray differently.”
They're like, “We rebuke you.”
I was like, “Yeah.”
I knew I was in the wrong spot. I knew that something wasn't right. What I want you to know is that God is in control. But listen to me. Listen to me. Acknowledging and accepting God's sovereignty is not the same thing as understanding it. A guy in Texas named Matt Chandler — this is probably the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. This is just a great quote. You’ll laugh, too. This is just fantastic. He said, “Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch a fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss.”
I didn't say you would fully understand how God is in control. I'm just telling you He is, no matter what you see. I had somebody come up to me just, I mean, mad.
“You know, you’ve got to talk more about this issue.”
I’m like, “Man, did you ever read Romans 13? What does that say? It says that the people who are in power wouldn't be there if God didn't want them to be in power.”
“Well, I like that when it's my guy.”
No, no, no. Ain't nobody doing anything that God's going, “How did they get there? What happened?”
No. He’s in control, and He’s got it under control more than you have any idea. Do you know why you can rest in that? Because He tells you at the end of the book that He wins, and if you're on His team, you win. I mean, I'm not saying there are not difficulties, I'm not saying there are not problems, I'm not saying there's not stuff outside the four walls of the church that are bad. I'm just telling you that I know the One who's got it under control, and I'm going to trust Him more than I'm going to trust what I can do.
Second, taking the next step to Christian maturity embraces the rhythm of grace. You’re going to hear this. I've been doing this for years and years and years. You're never going to not hear me talk about this. The rhythm of grace is that suffering leads to glory. Just mark this down because here’s what we do. It’s the DNA of our country. We just like to go to one side or the other. It’s either/or. We have no both/and. We just can't do both. It’s either/or. You’ve got people over here on suffering.
“The world's going to just be a challenge. It's going to be terrible, but one day, in the by and by, God's going to make it okay.”
It's like, “Can I get a razor blade or something?”
I mean, I know that there's truth there, but that’s just like, “No.”
Then you’ve got the other people over here that are going, “God wants you to have everything now. If you don't get healed, if you don't have a big house, and if you don't have all this stuff, then you don't have faith.”
And that ain't true either. It’s got some truth in it because God can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think. He can heal. He can bless. He could do all that stuff right now, today, if He so chooses. But the big way to pray — and nobody likes to pray this way in that camp — is, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”
So, suffering leads to glory. Otherwise, this doesn't make any sense. You know that the difficulties you're going through lead to something great. The bottom line is this: The reason a mature Christian should be able to endure life's difficulties differently is because we've been equipped and trained to know that suffering leads to glory. No matter what you're going through as a child of God, I can absolutely guarantee you that if you are a believer, no matter what you're going through, difficulty, there will be glory on the other side. It may be in this world, it may be in the world to come, but glory's coming. It may be Friday, but Sunday's coming. It’s coming. Paul says, “The suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that's going to be revealed.”
Now, this is not Bible. This is just a great quote.
It's out of Dostoevsky's “The Brothers Karamazov. It's a speech that Ivan, a character in the book, says. If we could grasp this, I'm telling you it would change the way we view the world. I just love this.
He says, “I believe, like a child, that suffering will be healed and made up for, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”
I believe, with all of my heart, that when we stand before God — because we just don't know. I believe, one day, we're going to go, “Oh my gosh. I never would have sinned. Whoa. Mind blown.”
Otherwise, how does He wipe away every tear from your eyes? How would He do that unless, one day, you're going to look back, and you're going to go, “Oh, man, He was so much better than I had any idea. I wish I would've listened to the boy from Kentucky more.”
Third, taking the next step to Christian maturity means understanding how important our attitude is because we get to choose how we deal with stuff. Let steadfastness. That's a choice. That’s an attitude. Let’s be honest. So many Christians have real stinking thinking. We ought to be the happiest people in the world. We were on our way to eternal separation from God, and He stepped in and did something for us that we couldn't have done, shined the Gospel light into our hearts, saved our soul that wasn't deserving of being saved, and has now given us eternal life and told us what He is going to do. We ought to be the happiest people in the world. I mean, I don't want to diminish problems and difficulties. I get that. I don't want you to hear me saying that. Paul says, “We don't grieve like those who don't have hope.”
That doesn't mean we don't grieve, it doesn't mean we don't hurt, but I'm telling you, we ought to be people that no matter what comes our way, we have the attitude. I mean, here's the bottom line: The attitude in which we embrace trials either equips us or exposes us. It either allows God to continue to work with the attitude of just saying, “God, teach me, shape me, mold me,” or it exposes us for the fact that we’ve probably got some room to grow and to take some next steps as believers to become more mature.
Dan McCartney, the guy quoted earlier, this is what he says in his commentary. He says, “A large part of the life of faith is one's attitude toward things in life, and one's response to events. We often can do little to control our environment and the things that happen to us, but we can control the way we think about them and how we react to them. Knowing how to interpret events and actions is a large part of wisdom, and the faithful attitude of the Christian is one of joy.”
I want to continue this next week. We'll continue in James, but I just want to challenge you a little bit. I want to push you, a little bit, to look at where you're at in your faith, to look at how you look at the world, to look at how the world gets you down, to look at how problems get you down, and go, “Do you know what? Maybe I can take a step here, a little bit further, maybe acknowledge the sovereignty of God, maybe look, a little bit, at my attitude, maybe go home and talk about it, maybe go home and pray about it, maybe open up the Scriptures, read a little bit more, and just let God start to work.”
Because I am convinced — I mean, I'm telling you, I am convinced that the darker it gets, the brighter light is. The more you and I walk in the fullness and the assurance of the power of God, the more joy we have, the more that we can hold up under difficulties, I'm telling you, people are going to ask you what pharmacist you go to. They're going to. Okay? And you're going to go, “It’s not a pharmacist that I go to.”
“Well, then what doctor?”
“He’s sort of like the great healer, but He’s not a doctor.”
“What have you got in your life?”
That’s when you don't have to have all the great words, and you don't have to be awesome speaker or whatever. That's when God puts you on the stage of life, and all you have to do is go, “Let me tell you about my Jesus.”
I'm telling you, God wants to raise up an army. There is an army that needs to be raised up to go out there and shine bright. Who doesn't want to? He wants all of us to be a part of that. All of us.
“Not me, Chip.”
No, you. It's not like God goes, “Yeah, you know, everybody has a part in the body but this person.”
We all do. I just want to challenge you, as your pastor, to believe that God's ways are the best ways. He really is the defender of our heart. He really is the defender of our soul. Walking in wisdom and doing it God's way is the best way, and to say, “Do you know what? Wherever I'm at, if I've been a Christian for a year or 30 years, I'm going to take a step forward.”
If you're here and you're not a believer, you can belong here before you believe. But do you know what? I want you to know Jesus. I want you to know that He died on the cross for your sins, that He rose again on the third day so that you could have eternal life, and He loves you with an everlasting love. Maybe you're here, right now, just to go ahead and settle that moment, and you can. You can settle that moment, too.