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This blog post is Part 3 of a series entitled, "(re)born to Lead" by Pastor Jeffrey Dean Smith of Donelson First in Nashville, TN. 

Message Date: October 23, 2022

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 I sure want to get to the leadership part of this series. I really want to get there. I want to teach us through the Goldy attributes and character of authentic, empowering & impactful leadership.   But I tell you - - I am so glad we have not rushed to the leadership part of this ever-important series. After all, this series is NOT “to lead.” This series is: (re)born to lead!  

There have been, and continue to be, many, many great leaders who have led well empowering, motivating, and inspiring others to do the unthinkable. But let me be clear:

It does not matter how well I lead if I am not (re)born to lead.

And no matter how well I empower, motivate, and inspire others to do the unthinkable if I am not (re)born to lead, I lose. And so do the others who follow my lead. 

When you consider who is the greatest golfer ever, you can’t do so without mentioning names such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and, of course, Tiger Woods.  

A conversation around the greatest basketball player of all time must include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and #23, Michael Jordan.  

Then there is the debate over who has been America’s greatest President? Though party lines are overly divisive just about more so than most at any previous time in our nation’s history, such a conversation is sure to include names such as Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Old Hickory’s ever-famous President Andrew Jackson.

We could obviously extend this conversation as we examine great composers, artists, designers, orators, doctors, teachers, creatives, and curators of fantastic Sunday lunch fajita & salsa...which of course, would be the Cinco de Mayo cooks at each of the 7 Middle Tennessee locations!      

It goes without saying that there are “greats” all around us - - people who do the unthinkable - - people who achieve the unthinkable in their respective arenas of gifting and skill sets.  

As we continue our conversation on leadership, I want you to consider this question: What makes for a great leader?  

Vision. Character. Inspiration. Determination. Focus. A never-give-up motivation.  

As we have discussed, you have heard the statement before that, true leaders are born to lead. Through this series, I want to continue articulating:  

True leaders must be (re)born to lead.  

I want to again bring to your attention these words of Jesus recorded in the book of John:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14 

The condition to do greater things than Jesus did requires I: “...believe!”

My ability to be the greatest leader among leaders who have ever walked this planet requires that I believe in Jesus by being (re)born as a follower of Jesus.  

In part 2 of the (re)born to lead series, I stated that: True leadership is contingent upon my salvation.  

To be the leader God can empower me to be, I must first come to a place of ultimate life surrender. This is what it means to be (re)born. And, as I shared several weeks ago, you will never be the leader this world needs you to be without you have first given your life to Jesus.  

In Part 2 of the (re)born to Lead series, we examined 6 of the 7 major religions of the world. Here’s a quick recap:  

Major Religions of the World:

7. Baha’i (baHI-E)

Worldwide population: 7M

A Baha’i follower believes all religions lead one to eternity with God in heaven.  

6. Judaism

Worldwide population: 15M

Believe God is yet to come. But, He did in fact come, they just missed Him.

5. Hinduism

Worldwide population: 900M  

4. Buddhism

Buddhism = enlightened one

Worldwide population: 360M

3. Islam (Muslim)

Islam = submission

Worldwide population: 1.3B  

2. Irreligion

Irreligion = a rejection of all religions

This is THE fastest-growing religion.  

One commonality with each of these 6 worldly religions: No relationship! Each of these religions offers NO access to, and intimacy with, God.  

I want us to spend our time today talking about the #1 major religion of our world.  

And I want to make a request this morning as we begin. I want to implore you, no matter your resume with the Lord, to listen. I have been studying, teaching, and delivering the Word of God since I was 22 years old. Now that I am 33 years old, I’ve been doing this for 11 years!

No, I’m 53 years old and have been preaching the Word of God for 31 years and I have to tell you: THIS is THE MOST important message I have ever delivered…ever!  

If you are not a (re)born follower of Jesus, today I am going to help you understand what this means…and then I am going to give you the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I am going to help you better define, defend and be able to clearly articulate the answer for yourself and for others who ask you, “Why Christianity?”  

1. Christianity

Christian = little Christs; follower of Jesus Christ

Worldwide population: 2.2B  

Main beliefs:

1. God is the only God. And His Son is Jesus Christ, who came to earth, died for humanity, and conquered death by coming back to life and proving that He is the one true savior of the world.  

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18  

2. The Bible is God’s ultimate Word.

The Bible is the ultimate authority for everything I do. God has given us His Word to guide us!  

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12  

3. I follow the resurrected Jesus Christ. THIS is what it means to be (re)born - - to believe Jesus died, was resurrected, and offers me a new “resurrected life” in Him!  

No other religious leader has died in full view of trained executioners, had a guarded tomb, and then rose 3 days later to appear to many people. The resurrection is proof of who Jesus is and that He did accomplish what He set out to do: provide the only means of redemption for mankind.

Buddha did not rise from the dead. Muhammad did not rise from the dead. Confucius did not rise from the dead. Krishna did not rise from the dead. Only Jesus Christ has physically risen from the dead. Only in Christianity do we have the person of Jesus Christ who, both fully man and fully God, died, rose from the dead, and proved in fact that He alone is the way the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.  

Perhaps the most defining principle of Christianity that makes it truly unique in every way and provides its fundamental basis is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Within Christianity, the resurrection is vitally important, for without it, Christianity does not exist, and our faith is useless!  

1 Corinthians 15:14: And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 

The resurrection of Jesus is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. The resurrection of Jesus is what changed the lives of the disciples. The resurrection of Jesus is what should empower and impassion me to love and lead with confidence as I point others to Him.    

4. I can’t save myself. THIS is what separates Christianity from all other religions. There is nothing “good enough” you can do to be (re)born because all it takes is for one sin, ONE SIN, for you to be deserving of spiritual death. Other religions require you to “perform” – to do acts or to accomplish good deeds to gain access to their so-called god. But not Christianity.

Access to God, access to heaven, is not conditional upon your performance. And what a gift this is, because if doing good was all it took to get into heaven, none of us would make it. 

Ephesians 2:8    

So... why Christianity?  

For every Christ-follower in the room who has been (re)born, why did you choose Christianity?  

For some, I think it’s hard to fully articulate this answer. 

Especially for the one who has been a born-again Christian most of your life.  

For many, you’ve grown up in the church. Your parents went to church. You went to church with them. You got (re)born at a young age in the church. So, it’s just always been your life. So, if this is you, let me help!  

I want to articulate 5 truths that, no matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, should help you get to the right answer as to, “Why Christianity?”  

If you are not a Christ-follower, please listen as I answer this question: “Why Christianity?”    

The Christian religion is better than any other religion because:

1. What points to God is better than what points away from God. 

My sins have led me away from God. This is what sin does. It pulls us away from God.  

I think of Adam & Eve 

Isaiah 53:6: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.      

John 14:6: Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

2. That which is true is better than all that is false. At times, it can be tricky to discern that which is true from that which is false.  

True or false:  

Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the US.

Answer: True (Mushrooms come in second.)  

Toy Story was Pixar’s first movie.

Answer: True (It was released in 1995. To date, three more Toy Story films have been released.)  

Santa Claus has his own postal code.

Answer: True (In Canada the Postal Service has designated H0H 0H0 (ho ho ho) as the official postcode for letters to Santa. Volunteers have been helping Santa reply to the letters for over 30 years.)  

Every golf ball has the same number of dimples.

Answer: False (Golf balls have between 300 to 500 dimples.)  

President George Washington brought macaroni and cheese to the USA.

Answer: False  (President Thomas Jefferson gets the credit. He brought the recipe back from Paris, France.)  

Dr. Pepper is the oldest soft drink in America.

Answer: True (It was first sold in 1885 in a drug store in Waco, Texas.)

Would you agree that there is so much “false” in the world today?  

Jesus is the embodiment of truth. Jesus is the revelation of God to humanity.

Unlike all other false religions, the Christian religion is grounded in truth, being based on a historical Person whose acts were verified by eyewitnesses and recorded by different biographers. No other religion can say this. Instead, false prophets continue to lie and deceive in an attempt to attract followers.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Matthew 7:15  

Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:30

And speaking of truth, think about it…  

No other religion forces me to face the truth about myself and then leads me to do something about it as does Christianity!

All other religions allow me to live within my sinful self and never face the reality of my sins nor the consequences I bring upon myself due to such a life. Christianity, though not always easy, forces me to look myself in the mirror, face the real me for the choices I’ve made, and then offers a way for me to have freedom and hope as I let go of my sins and find a new life, a better life, through forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

3. What is good is better than what is evil. Once (re)born, life doesn’t automatically become void of hurt & pain. As a matter of fact, when you are (re)born, you immediately become enemy #1 to Satan, the snake. He hates you, and he wants nothing more than to destroy your life. 

Once you have been (re)born, Satan knows that he can never snatch you away from Jesus, so he instead goes to work trying to convince you that Christianity, Jesus, God, and heaven are all a fairytale.  

This is a lie. This is of Satan. And this is evil.  

Any religion other than Christianity is a false religion and is evil. Life with Jesus as a Christian, though not void of challenges, is a life forever united with all the good that Jesus is. And once you are His, you will forever be His.

John 10:28: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

4. Life is better than death.  

In a recent survey, people were asked to answer this question: What do I most fear?   

10. Doctors/needles

9. Dentists

8. Crowded spaces

7. Public speaking

6. Spiders

5. Clowns

4. Snakes

3. Heights

2. Disease

1. Death  

FYI – In the top 20 list of people’s greatest fears: #12: Cats #15: Dogs #19: Feet  

Why? Why do so many people fear death?  

The Bible talks a lot about death. As a matter of fact, the bible mentions death more than 400 times. Why do many fear death? I believe it is because: One fears death when having never received true life.  

John 1:4: In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  

This is why Jesus spoke so much about life. He is life.  

But here is another thing we find in the Bible. There are three words we find in the Bible that can give us peace when it comes to those things we fear, particularly the fear of death.  Any idea what these three words are?  

It’s the words: “Do not fear.”  

Guess how many times we find these three words in the bible: 365! One for each day of the year! Is this a coincidence? I think not.  

Jesus is life and He offers you the way to have true life, abundant life, through a relationship with Him. Without Him, you will die, and you will spend eternity spiritually dead.

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

Lastly, the Christian religion is better than any other religion because:    

5. Heaven is better than hell.                        

Answer this Q: What did Jesus speak about more? Heaven or hell? Hell!  

As a matter of fact, Jesus spoke about hell more than any other person in the Bible.  

In Luke 16, he describes a great chasm over which “none may cross from there to us.”  

In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells of a time when people will be separated into two groups, one entering into his presence, the other banished to “eternal fire.”  

He calls hell a place of eternal torment in Luke 16 and an unquenchable fire in Mark 9:43.

Mark 9:48.  

Jerusalem’s ancient garbage dump was a place called Gehenna. (ju-hen-a) This dump was on the south side of Jerusalem. In Old Testament times, children had been sacrificed to idols there. In the time that Jesus lived on earth, it was a place burning with constant fires to consume the waste that was thrown there. The material burned there included everything from household trash to animal carcasses to convicted criminals. Needless to say, the Jews considered Gehenna (ju-hen-a) a cursed place of death.  

Hell (Greek) = Gehenna (ju-hen-a)

Jesus uses this place to paint a vivid image of what hell is like.  

In Mark 9, Jesus is actually quoting from Isaiah 66:24 which says: And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.

In both Mark 9 & Isaiah 66, the word translated as “worm” literally means “grub” or “maggot.” A maggot would have an obvious association with a dump like Gehenna (ju-hen-a) where dead bodies are thrown; however, the maggot Christ speaks of “will not die.” Church - - this text is one of the most horrific descriptions of what hell will be! The thought of eternal torment likened to maggots eating away at a rotting corpse, is undoubtedly ghastly. Hell is so awful that Christ said in Matthew 5 that it’s better to cut off the hand that causes you to sin than to end up in this place of torment! Obviously, Mark 9 does not mean that there are literal worms in hell or that there are worms that live forever; rather, Jesus is teaching the fact of unending suffering in hell—the “worm” never stops causing torment.  

Those in hell, being completely cut off from God, exist with a nagging, guilty conscience that, like a persistent worm, gnaws away at its victim with a remorse that can never be mitigated.  

Look at what he says about hell in Matthew 13:42:  

They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Think about this statement from Jesus!  

Jesus speaks of the horrors of all the people in hell who will constantly gnash their teeth in anguish and regret.  

The Greek word weeping here does not mean merely “to cry,” but instead:  

Weeping = regretful stress & anguish  

Listen! If you don’t think that the choices you make in this life will be carried with you to the afterlife, what Jesus states is a harsh reminder to everyone who doesn’t choose him as Savior…   

If I choose not to be (re)born... I will regret the life I lived and the choices I made. Forever.  

Imagine...those who die and are sent to hell for eternity. There is no way back and no way to warn others, not even those whom you love the most. 

It is obvious that Jesus knew about hell. He knew about the horrors of hell. He warned about this place.  

And this is why He came to give His life so that no one would ever have to experience this indescribable place – hell – forever!  

So, how does one avoid this place?

Romans 3:23

Romans 6:23

Romans 5:8

Romans 10:9-10

Romans 10:13  

This is THE most important collection of passages I have underlined in my Bible!  

So... what are we to do now?  

I want to end by asking you the most important question you will answer in your life.  

For answering this question, I want to take it back statement of the (re)born to Lead series:  

True leaders must be (re)born to lead. 

 The most important question of my life: Have I been (re)born?


Jeffrey Dean Smith is a husband, father to Bailey & Brynnan, author, and the Senior Pastor at Donelson First in Nashville, TN. If you are in Music City, meet Jeffrey and enjoy iced tea on the front lawn each Sunday at 10:30a.