GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 37
By: Dr. Robby Gallaty
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|Repentance. How can you learn to throw off the things that are dragging you down to free you to follow Jesus?|
Walking by Faith Not Sight
Good morning. The title of the message is Walking by Faith, Not by Sight. In just a few moments I’m going to give you an opportunity to respond to the Lord through repentance and faith, and I want you to prepare your hearts for that as we get ready to respond to the Lord.
I want you to imagine for a moment that you were born into the world blind. I don’t want you to imagine—God forbid—that something would happen and you would go blind. But I want you to imagine for just a moment that you were born blind. Close your eyes for just a moment, those who haven’t already, and I want you to imagine what it’s like to be born blind. You’ll never see the colors of a rainbow your entire life. You’ll never count the stars in the sky. You will never experience a beautiful sunrise or a sunset. I want you to open your eyes.
That’s the world that Bartimaeus came into. Bartimaeus was born blind. And in the first century if you were born blind you resorted to do one thing. What was it? That was to beg. And that’s what he did. He found a well-populated area where he would sit down on the corner. He would hold out his cup and he would beg. And there was one thing that was of the utmost importance to Bartimaeus, and guess what it was. His coat or his cloak. And the cloak was a dual purpose. What he would do is this: at night when it would get cold, he would take his cloak and he would wrap it around himself. He would take his money, he would pull it in tight and he would cloth himself and warm himself from the cold air. And then during the day he would take the cloak and he would hold it over his head and shade himself from the sunlight. The cloak was everything to him. You have to understand that. If he loses the cloak, he loses it all. It was never at arm’s length or out of arm’s length from where he was sitting.
That’s the context we find ourselves in this morning. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Mark 10:46. “And they came to Jericho.” This is Jesus just moments away from going to Jerusalem to die on the cross to save us from our sin. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd—hundreds, thousands—were with him that day. Can you imagine?
“Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.[ Doing what? Begging.] And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ [But notice what happens.] And many rebuked him. [The crowd said, Be quiet!] But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.’”
I want you to imagine the scene that day. Bartimaeus is there like any other day. It’s a normal day. He’s got his cup out. He’s got his cloak nearby. And all of sudden he hears in the distance the footsteps of thousands that day and he realizes it’s Jesus in the crowd. Now he’d never met Jesus, but he’d heard about him. And so he cries out to Jesus, Jesus! Have mercy on me! This is what he’s saying: Jesus, help me in my sin! Help me in my sickness! I need help! And what does the crowd do? Be quiet! Don’t you see we’re on a mission here! We’re trying to go to Jerusalem. We’re going to take over the Gentiles. We don’t have any time for you. And I love Jesus. What does Jesus do? Look what the text says. Jesus stopped. Wow. You know what’s amazing about our Lord? Is that he always hears the cry of a truly repentant sinner. Right? He always hears the cry of those who would cry out to him for help.
Now when I was a child, I thought—when I was a kid—I thought Jesus or God was too busy for me. Right? I never looked at God as someone who had time for me. I mean, he was always busy. He was running the world. I mean, he doesn’t have time for me. But as I read the New Testament, I realized that God always responds to the call of a truly repentant sinner. Jesus says, Call him to me. Look at verse 50: “And throwing off his cloak [do you see it?] he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to him, ‘Rabbi, [I want to see or] let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’”
He hears about Jesus. Jesus stops and I almost imagine it was like the parting of the Red Sea, if you will. Bartimaeus gets to his feet. He probably hadn’t showered in days if not weeks. Doesn’t smell very good. Doesn’t look like a Christian, right? Doesn’t have a suit on on Sunday morning. This guy’s living in street clothes. Stands to his feet and he starts to make his way to Jesus. No one’s going to help him. Nobody’s going to touch this man. He stands to his feet. The crowd parts like the Red Sea. And he makes his way over to Jesus.
But he does one thing. Guess what he does. He has to do something with the cloak. And the interesting thing about the cloak is, if he loses the cloak in a crowd of that magnitude, he will never find it again. Don’t you believe that? And the text doesn’t say that he took the cloak and he set it down on the ground only to come back to it. The text doesn’t say that he gave it to person standing by and said, Hey, man, can you hold this for me? I’ll be right back. The text doesn’t even say that he tucked it in the back of his pants. Notice what the text says. He sprung to his feet and he throws the cloak aside and then he comes to Jesus. What an incredible picture of salvation right?
Let me ask you this morning, my friend. What is the cloak in your life? What is the reminder of your past that you need to lay down this morning before you come to the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus says to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Bartimaeus stumbles up and he says, “Rabbi, I want to see.” I don’t know if it happened this way. I imagine it could have. All eyes are on those two individuals, Jesus and Bartimaeus. All of the crowd surrounding them and all of sudden that eye that had never seen the light of day, filled with sand and mud—imagine it—begins to fill up. A tear makes its way down his check. And the other eye that has never seen the light of day begins to fill up with another tear drop. It falls down his cheek. And then all of a sudden, Bartimaeus begins to flicker his eyes and standing before Bartimaeus he sees for the first time the Light of the World. Can you imagine that? I mean the very first thing he sees is Jesus in the flesh. And Jesus says, Go home, man, you’re healed! And Bartimaeus says, Where will I go? I’m going to follow You.
And I have to be honest with you. I’ve never been physically blind before. In fact, I’ve never been blind at all. But for 26 years for my life, I’d been spiritually blind. I was actually raised in a Roman Catholic family as a child. And we weren’t nominal Catholics who went to church casually. We didn’t go on Christmas and Easter. We went every week. In fact, we went so much to church that if we missed Sunday, we went to confession on Saturday and asked the priest to forgive us. That’s how religious we were. I was very religious but I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord. I’d come in and punch a spiritual time clock on Sunday and do what I wanted throughout the week.
I got a scholarship in 1994 to go to a college in North Carolina, UNC Greensboro, to play basketball. And two weeks before going to college, the girl I was dating threw a fit and she said, there’s no way you’re going to go that far away to school. You’ve got to stay close to home. And so I literally opened the phone book up—you can imagine—and I found William Carey College. Have you ever heard of the college before? Neither had I. And I called the coach up and I said, Coach, can I come try out for the team? He said, Robby, it’s two weeks before school. He was hesitant and he said, I don’t think we’re going to be able to give you a spot. I said, Can I come try out anyway? And he said, Come on down. He called me back a few days later and gave me a scholarship to go to William Carey College.
Now when I got on campus, I didn’t realize that it was a Southern Baptist College and I was Roman Catholic. Now, I don’t know if you understand what that means, but I was the target of every evangelism class on campus, right? I was riding through campus in my red mustang with two 10” bazooka subs in the back of the trunk blaring the unedited version of Tupac Shakur. And if you don’t know what that is, ask your grandchildren. They’ll tell you. I mean, it was obvious that I was lost. And not many people told me about the gospel because I was a big guy and I was a tough guy and I was prideful.
And then one day, a man by the name of Jeremy Brown came up to me and shared the gospel with me. And I think the only reason he did that is because he was six foot five and he was the only guy brave enough to do it. And he would share the gospel and he would go back home every night and he would pray for me. And I have to be honest, in 1995 I recited a prayer with Jeremy. But it wasn’t a real, truly repentant prayer. I didn’t put my belief in Christ. I didn’t repent of my sins. And the reason I know that it this: because my life 1995 to 2002 didn’t change. And if you’re here with us today and you’re holding on to a prayer that you said as a child or you’re holding on to a decision you made as a kid or maybe you just made a decision two years ago or five years ago or ten years ago and there’s no definitive life change in your life, I would question your salvation today.
Well there was no change in my life. I got out of college in 1998. I started a computer company. It was successful for a while. I partnered with two other guys. And then all of a sudden after eight months, the company dissolved. And I had gotten so burnt out on business that I decided I didn’t want to do anything stressful. And I started to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Is anybody familiar with this? It’s this no-holds-barred kind of ground fighting. I was going to the Karate Dojo. And a guy sees me. I was six foot six, 285 pounds. A guy sees me and he says, Hey listen. Would you be interested in being the head bouncer at our club downtown New Orleans? We’re expecting hundreds of people a night during Mardi Gras season and I need someone to lead the bouncers. I said, Let me think about this. I can get paid to fight? I’m in. And I did that for three months.
And then all of a sudden three months later, I was escorting two guys out of the club that night that were rowdy. I walked them to the car. The guy was cursing me out the entire time. He opened his car door up, went under the seat and pulled a gun on me and I thought, Okay. Time for a career change. So I moved from bouncing to bartending. I moved in the bar instead of outside of the bar. And then I was driving home from work on November 22, 1999—didn’t ask for it to happen, didn’t expect it to happen—an 18-wheeler came across two lanes of traffic and rear-ended me in the guardrail and sandwiched my car. The seatbelt locked, the seat torqued and my back actually torqued and I herniated two disks in my neck, one in my back and one was bulging in my back.
I went to the doctor. He said, It’s amazing you made it out of the accident. We’re going to send you home with four things, Mr. Gallaty. At the age of 22, they sent me home with OxyCotin, Valium, Soma, and Percocet. Now I’d never taken drugs before in my life and I was actually legitimately in pain. And so I started to take the drugs every 4-6 hours for pain. And you know the story. Within three months I was addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. I didn’t want to be successful in the world. I didn’t want to make money in the world any more, I just wanted to get high. I have to be honest with you. I had this insatiable desire to get high. And it happened to the most unsuspecting kid, if you can believe that. I never smoked marijuana as a child, never did drugs. It happened because of a car accident.
And so I had to find a way to fuel this habit. The 30-day supply that the doctors were giving me I would go through in two weeks, and so I had to find a way to fuel the desire. So I met a guy in the city and he said, actually you could sell drugs and make money. Why are you fooling with pharmaceutical drugs when you can buy heroin in bulk, cut it up and split it up and sell it? And so I moved into street drugs where I began to import into the city of New Orleans everything from extasy to GHB to marijuana to heroin to cocaine and special K, which is not a cereal. You name it, we had it.
And times were good. I have to be honest with you. We did what we wanted. We flew what we wanted. We bought what we wanted. I had a red Mustang. I lived on the third floor of an uptown apartment, downtown New Orleans. I had all the money that I knew what to do with. But inside I knew. I didn’t know the Lord, but I knew there was something more to life than this. You ever been there before? You can have all the money in the world, all the fame in the world, all the friends in the world, all the girls in the world, but in your heart you knew something was missing. I knew something was missing.
We had good times. And then all of a sudden my world was rocked when my friend died of a heroin overdose in 2000 with the needle still in his arm. And from 2000-2003, I didn’t lose one or two friend, I actually lost eight close friends. I want you to feel the weight of that. Imagine. These weren’t random acquaintances. These were close friends of mine that died. Six of them went to jail.
The cops started to catch on to the operation and I had to find a way to fuel my habit because my addiction outweighed my intake. I couldn’t take in enough money to fuel this addiction. And so what I did is I went home when my parents weren’t looking, went into the bedroom to Mom and Dad’s house where they cared for me. They supplied for me. They gave me money. They paid my insurance. I took my Dad’s credit card and memorized his credit card number. I went back home and for the next three months I charged over $15,000 in three months on his credit card, nearly bankrupting the family. I’ll never forget the phone call when Mom called that day. It was around Mardi Gras 2001. She said, Robby, your father is furious with you and I’m disappointed. Don’t ever come to this house again. Ever. And I said, You know what? I don’t need you anyway. I didn’t need you guys to begin with. And I took the little bit of money I had and I blew it over the next few months.
Then I lived without gas in the house for almost three months. No hot water. No hot air. Lived without water for a month. Lived without electricity for a month. Bill collectors called until they turned the phone off and eventually they said, Mr. Gallaty, you guys have to go. This six seven, 280 pound guy who never really shed a tear before found himself in the living room of his parent’s house and I got on my knees and I said, Mom and Dad, I need help. I can’t do it anymore. And they graciously took me back in, sent me to rehab. I went to rehab, did good for a while, got back on the drugs again, went to a second rehab to make the story short.
And the reason I went to two rehabs is because the first two times I did it without Christ. Let me say, just a side note, if you’re trying to enter into any kind of recovery from any addiction—drugs, alcohol, pornography, selfishness, greed, any kind of addiction you have, food, anything—and you do it without Christ, it’s a dead end street.
November 12, 2002, I was in my room. I wasn’t in a revival. I wasn’t at a church. I was in my room. I remembered what Jeremy had told me seven years ago. And I got on my knees and I finally realized that I was a sinful man in the face of a holy God and that I needed to repent and I needed to return from my sinful ways and put my faith in Christ. I tried everything in the world and basically I said, God, I’m going to completely surrender to you. If you save me, I’ll commit my life to you and I will not be ashamed to tell people about what you did. November 12, 2002 God radically changed my life, just an amazing radical transformation experience.
Within a month and a half I asked God to give me an opportunity to preach. I preached my first sermon at a homeless shelter. Seven people responded to the gospel. I left that place. God said, This is what you’re going to do the rest of your life. I called Jeremy back up. I said, God has saved me and we need to go in ministry together. And God opened doors. Now, people don’t know this, but I used to be an illusionist or a magician, if you will. I used to do magic. I didn’t know how to preach but I knew how to do tricks, and so we traveled the country. And God opened doors and we would preach the gospel. We preached in Louisiana, we preached in Alabama, we preached in Georgia, Mississippi, even went up to New York.
And I’d gotten to this place after a few months that I thought I was invincible. And I said, Jeremy, I’m going to go back in the world and try to save two lost friends who are still addicted to drugs. And I went back to them and I said, Hey listen, can I share Christ with you? Now before I went back in the world, let me tell you a stumbling block for me. I won a lawsuit because of the accident. I went out and bought a $50,000 Cadillac CTS, chrome rims, 20 inch rims, black on black, $9,000 stereo system in the car. I don’t tell you that to impress you but just to impress upon you that that was the stumbling block that drew me in the world. It was a root of pride. Because of the car, I went back into the world.
And I went back and told those guys, Hey man, look at the car I’ve got. Let me show you what God’s doing in my life. Do you mind if I share Christ with you? Oh man, no problem. Do you mind if I roll a joint while you do it? No man! I’m invincible. I’ll never go back to drugs and alcohol. I’m invincible. And in the process of leading those two guys to the Lord—or in a failed attempt—in two weeks I was back on drugs again. And this time, I had money. And for the next two months I spent over $28,000 on heroin and cocaine. For those two months I had a $180 a day heroin and cocaine addiction. And what that means is this: every morning I woke up, I had to get high. And what I would do is what I would go to the daiquiri place on the way out. At 10 a.m. every morning religiously when it opened, I showed up at the daiquiri place and I got the strongest drink they made, the large 190 octane daiquiri.
And when I’d get the daiquiri, there was a girl behind the counter and I would share Christ with her. I’d say, Let me tell you. Do you know about Jesus? Do you know about Christ? And in the process of sharing Christ with her, leading her to the Lord, God brought me back. This is what happened. One day as I was getting that daiquiri, paying for it, she looked at me and she said, Robby, for someone who knows so much about Jesus, you sure don’t act like it. Wow. $28,000 lesson the Lord showed me. You know what the Lord showed me? It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been believer, doesn’t matter what you’re doing for the Lord. You can fall like that in the Christian life if you don’t have healthy parameters set in your life.
Well, God brought me back, and by his grace he allowed me over the next two years to pay my Mom and Dad back the money that I stole from them. Just that next year, God opened the door for me to go to seminary. He took a drug-addicted alcoholic and allowed me to go to seminary. I still don’t know how they let me in one year after being set free from drugs and alcohol. They let me in the school. I went to New Orleans and I started to study expository preaching.
In March of that year, I met my wife by the grace of God. She is the most godly woman I know. She prays for me. She encourages me to be a better husband, better father, better pastor. I was able to go and not only graduated with my Masters of Divinity but the Lord opened the door for me to go into the Ph.D. program and prayerfully by the end of this year God will allow me to graduate. It’s been a long process but I will graduate with a Ph.D. in preaching. Think about it. God has given me, by his grace, the opportunity to preach his Word. God has been good to me and the highlight of our life, I have to say, all of that is fine. The highlight of my life was that after Hurricane Katrina, losing it all, I was able to share Christ with Mom, Dad, and my sister and saw by God’s grace all three of them come to know the Lord. This past year at Brainerd Baptist Church in that baptistery I was able to baptize my Mom, my Dad, and my sister.
Friends, God has been good to me. And I know what you’re saying at this point. You’re saying, Pastor, that’s not my story, because I’m not even close to that. Maybe you are, I don’t know. But most would say, Well, I’m not even close to that today. I would say we could put every person in here today into two categories. The first is this: you’re a sinner who’s been saved by grace and now you’re born again. Or I have a sneaking suspicion many in here today would say, Pastor, I’m a sinner who is desperately in need of grace because I don’t know the Lord. I’ve not been born again.
Let me share with you about God. We’ve heard about Robby. This is what God did in Robby’s life. We heard about Bartimaeus, what God did in Bartimaeus’ life. Let me share what God could do in your life this morning. Listen to me. God created the world. He created the heavens. He created the earth. He created the stars. He created the planets. He created the animals and he even created you and I. Genesis 1:26 says this, “Let us make man in our image [God said],
and after our own likeness.” And so we were made in the image of God. And because we were made in the image of God—listen to me—you and I are accountable to God because he made us.
But we have a problem. Here’s the problem. Adam sinned. Do you remember the story in Genesis? God says to Adam, You can eat of any tree in the garden. Just don’t eat of that tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And what did that do? They ate of that tree, right? And what the Bible says is this: human beings, created in the image of God, when they are disobedient in word, action, or deed, it’s called sin. Sin just separates us from God, right? It’s what the Bible says in Romans 3:23: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all have sinned, right? Romans 3:10, There is no one righteous, no not one. No one seeks after God. No one understands. They’ve all together become meaningless. No one’s righteous, no not one. Romans 6:23, The wages of sin is [what?] death. But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.
So here’s the problem. You and I all have the same problem. Have you ever told a lie before? Have you ever coveted someone’s things before? Have you ever stolen anything before—answers off a test, change off a dresser? Have you ever called someone a fool before? Jesus said that’s sin. Have you ever looked at a woman or a man with lust in your heart? Jesus says that’s sin. So we’re all in the same boat. We are sinners and we need a savior. And that’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus Christ was the first missionary, right? He wrapped himself in human flesh. He came to the earth on a mission to rescue mankind. He was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life. He didn’t commit one sin. He was perfect in every sense of the word. But the people he came to save turned on him. And as he hung on Calvary’s cross that day, the sky—if you read the gospels—turned black. And it was significant of the fact that God’s wrath that was meant for sinners was squarely placed on Christ.
But the story doesn’t end there. Listen to me. Although they placed the crown of thorns on his head, although they beat Jesus on the back 39 times with a whip, and although they made him carry that cross to his death, and as he carried the cross people sneered at him and people laughed at him and they spit on our Lord as he carried the cross. And if that wasn’t enough, they hoisted him up after they nailed his hands and his feet and he was hanging there. They stripped him of his clothes, naked, and people laughed at him and mocked Him. And if that wasn’t enough, they speared him in the side and then they watched him die.
But the story wasn’t over, see, because they put him in a tomb. And then on the third day he arose from the dead. Praise God. And then over the next 40 days he showed himself to over 500 different people. If you don’t believe me, read the gospels, read 1 Corinthians. Over 500 people saw the resurrected Christ. And right now he sits at the right hand of God and one day he will judge the righteous and the unrighteous. The Bible says one day every knee will bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Amen?
But that’s not the whole gospel. We understand we’re accountable to God. We understand we have a sin problem. We understand Jesus is the Savior. Here’s the fourth part of the gospel. You ready? There has to be a response. See, every person within the sound of my voice has heard the gospel today and you can respond one of two ways. Here they are. You can either accept the gospel or you can reject the gospel. See, if you reject the gospel, you leave this place or you walk out of here the same way you walked in. You’re going to do it your way. You’re going to be the captain of your own life and you make your own decisions and you follow your own agenda, right? And because of that you will face judgment and you will be separated from God in a Christless eternity forever. Or, you can accept God’s way, which is you repent of your sins this morning. You put your faith in Christ. You acknowledge him as Lord. God saves you for eternity and your sins are forgiven.
Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, But Robby, I don’t want to make a decision today. I’m not ready to make a decision today. That’s okay. Because not to make a decision is to make a decision and the decision is to reject the gospel. It’s to reject the gospel.
You ever driven by the side of the road and seen someone holding a piece of cardboard before? You ever seen that before? And if you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what the story is on this person like how did they end up there on the side of the road? And the cardboard could say a number of things. It could say Vietnam vet. Out of work. I can say abandoned mother in need of food. Homeless. Anything will help. Right? And if you’re like me, I’m always thinking what is the rest of the story? What is the future going to be like for this person? I believe every person in here could write their story on a piece of cardboard. I want to share mine with you. This was mine. This is what it would be….
And maybe you’re saying, Robby, God hasn’t done a deep work in my life. God hasn’t worked in my life. You know, that can change today. You’re going to have to surrender to Christ today and I don’t care if you’re 16 in here or maybe you’re 65. If you’re far from God, would you respond to God this morning? Would you surrender your life to Christ? Maybe you’re addicted to pornography. Maybe you’re addicted to drugs. Maybe you’re addicted to alcohol. Maybe you’re just prideful and you haven’t surrendered your life to Christ. Maybe you’re stubborn. Maybe you’re secretly angry with God or bitter towards Him. I want to ask you today to respond to the gospel. You’ve heard the gospel. I’m going to ask you to repent and believe this morning.