Monday, March 31, 2008

The long walk home.

Luke 24:13 – 33

The long walk home


These followers of Jesus knew Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. They had heard the women’s stories of Jesus being alive. The disciples had confirmed the empty tomb but had no other explanation.


It must have been a long walk home. Depression, confusion, and hope all mixed together. They had hoped Jesus was a powerful prophet. (“He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” v 19) They had hoped Jesus was special. (“We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” v 21a)


Hope is one of those sticky things that tends to spoil reality, cause despair, and inspire grumbling. Yet, hope can also transcend some bad circumstances. Now they were hearing stories of Jesus alive again. Now they meet a stranger who opens Scripture to them. Now they have burning hearts in response to Scripture.


Now they miss the presence of the living Lord Jesus Christ. It must have been a long walk home.


 

A.        A DISCOURAGING walk home.

 

            1.         Cleopas’ wife (Mary) had been at the cross and probably the empty tomb.

 

                        a.         Can you imagine being torn between what you are hearing and what you know to be true?

 

                        b.         Hope of a prophet, reality of a cross, and now the confusion of the story of the resurrection.

 

            2.         The two “talked and discussed” [v 15]

 

                        a.         Notice they had no insight without Scripture.

 

                        b.         Here is a promise Jesus had made and now fulfills: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” [Matthew 18:20]

 

            3.         Jesus appeared and they did not recognize Him. Why?

 

                        a.         Grief and confusion tend to focus us in the wrong direction by pre-occupying our assumptions about life.

 

                        b.         Stubbornness and unbelief and blind us outright.


It must have been a long walk home.

 

                        c.         Missing Jesus was not necessarily of God and they were not the only ones to miss Jesus.


Mary Magdalene had also failed to recognize Jesus. (See John 20:15 – 16)


 

B.        A DISCUSSION to find answers answered only in Jesus.

 

            1.         They were talking and they were discussing... but when asked, the conclusion was one of downcast faces (see v 17).

 

                        a.         They probably were rehearsing the events, its what we all do when we are trying to puzzle something out, trying to find meaning to an event....

 

                        b.         Going over the events to figure out what they were missing. Proposing ideas, discounting the others ideas, trying to remember.

 

            2.         What was not adding up?

 

                        a.         Jesus’ life seemed to point one direction... that Jesus was a powerful prophet.

 

                        b.         Jesus’ death pointed another direction... that Jesus was a dead friend (along with all their dead hopes and dreams of what would or could be).

 

                        c.         The possibilities of Jesus’ resurrection pointed another direction... the Jesus is God.


It must have been a long walk home.

 

            3.         They were even willing to discuss this with a complete stranger.

 

                        a.         Remember the disciples were very afraid. (See John 10:19)

 

                        b.         This discussion was risky, they might have been talking to an undercover agent for those who might want to “tie up loose ends” concerning Jesus.

 

                        c.         Yet, they listened to what seemed to be a superior grasp of Scripture.


“He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" [27] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” [Luke 24:25 – 27]


It must have been a long walk home.


 

C.        A DISCOVERY is made as the end of the day nears.

 

            1.         It started on the road with “burning hearts.”

 

                        a.         While Jesus talked with them, their hearts were burning.

 

                        b.         While Jesus opened Scripture, their hearts were burning.

 

                        c.         The burning hearts pointed them toward an unmistakable hope. Jesus has risen from the grave!

 

            2.         At Emmaus, Jesus starts to continue on...

 

                        a.         At this point, a choice must be made. Here was an opportunity to hear more and continue the discussion with someone who was opening Scripture to them. OPPORTUNITY OFFERS POSSIBILITIES.

 

                        b.         It was nearly dark, the stranger was in need of a place to stay. They were all in need of supper. NEED FORCES DECISIONS.

 

            3.         Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread...

 

                        a.         “And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” [1 Corinthians 11:24]

 

                        b.         It was at this point they recognized Jesus. Something happened. Scripture made sense in light of Jesus action.


 

D.        The DEMONSTRATED their faith.

 

            1.         Some things cannot wait. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:33]

 

                        a.         But it was probably dark... imagine the possibilities; they could trip, fall, get hurt.

 

                        b.         When they recognized Jesus, nothing else mattered. Not personal safety, not supper, not reputation... absolutely nothing else mattered.

 

            2.         They testified to their encounter with Jesus. “Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” [v 35]


Now that long walk home, became a long run back. (I don’t know that they ran, but it makes sense that they would want to convey their news as soon as possible.)


I think this walk to Emmaus is a parable for the church today. Where are you today?

 

            1.         You are on the long walk home. You are trying to make sense of all the shattered hopes and dreams you may have had at some point. You are going over the events of your life, the events of Jesus’ life, the events that have happened recently. Crushed hope mixes with confusion and further discussion does not help. Despair tries to down the possibility that the living Lord Jesus Christ is here, now.

 

            2.         You feel the burning heart. Somehow you know Scripture makes sense, you want it to make sense, still the pieces are not all there for you. You desperately desire an encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ. You want a hope beyond hope that transcends the hurt, ugliness, and bitterness of life. You don’t want a prophet, you want a savior... not good words and advice but one who put their life on the line for you.

 

            3.         You have met the risen Lord. You know you have when an unqualified excitement runs so deep into who you are that there is no possibility of containing it. Hope has been replaced with experience. Life is the fulfillment of walking with Jesus.


(I hope to investigate what it takes to make walking with Jesus a reality in your life over the next few sermons.)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What happened?

Luke 23:44 – 24:12

“What happened?”


This week has been an emotional roller coaster for the disciples. Last Sunday, they celebrated the return of the King to Jerusalem... or so they thought. They had watched Jesus cleanse the temple of the money changers, severely question the religious elite’s application of theology, and had been there when one of their own betrayed Jesus. In fear, they ran for their lives instead of standing up for Jesus.


Now in fear, they had locked themselves into a room... Maybe they wondered what went wrong, maybe they questioned if they were wrong about Jesus. Either way, they were grieving because their teacher had been dead three days. But the twists and turns of this week just kept getting stranger and stranger.


The women had returned from the grave with some story about Jesus being alive. They tried to convince the disciples, tried to get them to remember Jesus’ words, tried to get them to believe. Could it be? Peter, who had denied Jesus, ran to the tomb. If the women were right... I wonder what he was thinking.


What did happen?

 

I.         The events of “Good Friday.”

 

            A.        Jesus was crucified on “Good Friday.”

 

                        1.         Why do we call it “Good” when something very bad happened?

 

                                    a.         It is good because on that day, Jesus solved our worst problem.

 

                                    b.         The problem was sin which separates us from God.


Define sin...

 

          Sin is “trespass” or “transgress” or crossing a line. We ask what the line is there for and we step over it. This is willful rebellion against the known law of God.

          Sin is “falling short” of God’s glory this is also considered “error.” We cannot reach God ourselves so we set up an intermediator, an idol to take God’s place, try to earn our salvation through ritual or good works, or try to ignore God on our own.

          Sin is “iniquity” which means either foolishness, defilement, or perversity. Things like pride fit here.

          Sin is not doing what we ought to do. [“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” James 4:17]


Sin is ultimately selfish. What ever we do, we do for our own reasons

 

                        2.         When Jesus was crucified, the veil (around 3 feet thick) in the temple was torn from top to bottom.

 

                                    a.         The temple was laid out in a way to limit access. The courts were open with gates on four sides. The temple had only one opening. Inside the temple was another building with one opening that only the priests could enter. In that inner sanctuary was a curtain, that was the veil that kept the priests from entering God’s physical presence.

 

                                    b.         Jesus was crucified the day the Passover lambs were being sacrificed at the temple. On that day the gates of the court temple were open, the door to the temple was open, and the door to the inner sanctuary was open. In other words, if you were looking into the temple, you would have been able to see the veil and been reminded of the separation between you and God.

 

            B.        When Jesus died, He changed the spiritual dynamics of how God and people interact.

 

                        1.         Before, only one person could enter God’s presence on one day of the year.

 

                                    a.         That was called the day of Atonement. Two goats were used. One goat provided the blood, the other goat was became the “scape-goat” that carried the sins of the people.

 

                                    b.         Jesus did both. His blood “atoned” (“make amends for” – Oxford University Press) for our sin. By being taken out of the city, Jesus fulfilled the carrying of our sins.

 

                        2.         Now the way is open through Jesus only.


“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, [20] by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body...” [Hebrews 10:19 – 20]

 

II.       The events of Resurrection Day.

 

            A.        The women went to the tomb.

 

                        1.         Their purpose was to put burial spices on the body.

 

                                    a.         They expected to have a problem with moving the stone. [Mark 16:3]

 

                                    b.         They were doing that “last thing” for the one they loved.

 

                        2.         What they found was different than what they expected.

 

                                    a.         They expected a body, they found angels asking, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” [v 5]

 

                                                1.)       Ever notice how we do that too? We go to bars or dance halls to find acceptance, easy our pain, or distract us.

 

                                                2.)       We go to churches that major on the experience and are thin on the truth of God’s Word and behavior altering grace.

 

                                    b.         They expected more sorrow, they heard the angels say, “He is not here; he has risen!” [v 6]

 

                                                1.)       Ever notice how we do the same thing? We grind our way through the week. Punch a clock, collect a paycheck, do email.

 

                                                2.)       Somehow we miss the joy.

 

                                    c.         They expected the natural course of life, “Then they remembered his words.” [v 8]

 

                                                1.)       Jesus taught His disciples to look at life differently based on what He said.

 

                                                2.)       Events are interpreted by what we think we know. That’s why remembering changed their perspective on what they were seeing.

 

            B.        Peter is torn between grief and guilt.

 

                        1.         Sound familiar?

 

                                    a.         Grief weighs us down.

 

                                                1.)       The “Why bother, what the use?” attitude.

 

                                                2.)       Hopelessness can keep us confused and muddled up (disordered and confused state: Oxford University Press)

 

                                    b.         Guilt devalues us.

 

                                                1.)       The crushed and dirty feeling sin naturally leaves can keep us from God.

 

                                                2.)       (Ill.) Of a $20 bill... crisp and clean v a $20 bill crumpled and dirty.

 

                        2.         Peter has a choice.

 

                                    a.         Grief can blind him, guilt can drive him away...

 

                                    b.         Peter chooses to run to the tomb to see for himself.

 

                                                1.)       Great people are people who have chosen to do things that are courageous, right, just, and holy.

 

                                                2.)       Peter doesn’t know what it means, but he suspects something has happened that will change him forever.


 

III.      Running in sandals: What did happen?

 

            A.        Theological truth:

 

                        1.         Jesus resurrection forever ended the question of Jesus identity.


“And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 1:4]

 

                                    a.         Jesus is the Christ. “Christ” is the Greek title for the Old Testament “Messiah.” The Christ is the anointed one of Old Testament who would sacrifice Himself.

 

                                    b.         Jesus is Lord. “Lord” was the substitute for the sacred name of God (which could not be spoken). It was so sacred, if it was to be written, the scribes would bathe, change their clothes, and destroy the pen after the name was written. When it was to be spoken, they used the word “Lord.” In English texts it is symbolized by “LORD.” (All caps) This is an unmistakable claim to the divinity of Jesus.

 

                        2.         Jesus resurrection became the difference between truth and error.

 

                                    a.         Some people do not like or want the cross of Jesus... it is either a stumbling block or foolishness.


“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, [23] but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” [1 Corinthians 1:22 – 23]

 

                                                1.)       It has become the “in” think to write books or do TV specials to try to debunk, humiliate, refute the claims of Christ.

 

                                                2.)       People go through mental gymnastics to say Jesus was not who and what He claimed to be... They will reduce Scripture to a code and say the letters or numbers don’t add up to point to Jesus.

 

                                    b.         Its very simple. If Jesus rose from the dead (which has seldom been disputed) then Jesus is the Christ and Jesus is Lord... not a good teacher, not just a prophet, not even a visionary.

 

            B.        Personal truth:

 

                        1.         The resurrection implies a question. If Jesus is who He said He was...


“I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!” [John 8:58] (notice Jesus used “I am” not “I was” because “I am” is a translation of the sacred name of God.)


I and the Father are one.” [John 10:30]


“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [7] If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [John 14:6 – 7]


“Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" [62] "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." [63] The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. [64] "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death.” [Mark 14:61b – 64] (Notice the people who tried Jesus seemed to understand the implications of His claim.)

 

                        2.         Will you accept Jesus’ claims and make Him your Lord?

 

                        3.         Will you truly (“to the fullest degree, absolutely or completely” Oxford University Press) celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord?

 



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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Here comes the King

Matthew 21:1 – 11

Here comes the King!


Historical background.

 

            1.         Passover was an awkward time of unease between the Romans and those celebrating because it commemorated God freeing Israel from the oppression of Egypt. Some were reading symbolic meaning into the oppression of the Romans.

 

            2.         This was the first day of the week. The day the Passover Lamb was being chosen. So this was a busy day for every family. Attention was being drawn away from the religious observance of the week towards what was perceived as a political movement.

 

            3.         Lots of prophecy is being fulfilled. (We will see this later.) Because of the prophecies, Jesus was making claims that challenge the core of everything from who owns our possessions, will we humble ourselves before Jesus, who has spiritual and actual sovereignty.

 

I.         The MAJESTY of the King.

 

            A.        The King is “gentle.”

 

                        1.         Someone has said that greatness is the ability to condescend.

 

                                    a.         Jesus is riding a donkey, symbolizing peace, not a horse which symbolizes war.


“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” [Zechariah 9:9]

 

                                    b.         Jesus is setting a tone for the rest of the week: Peaceful Power.

 

                        2.         Yet, Jesus is who He is...


Revelation 5... [v 5] “the Lion of the tribe of Judah”

                        [v 6] “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain”

[v 9] “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”


“You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness--who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.” [Genesis 49:9 – 11]

 

            B.        The King is righteous.

 

                        1.         They watched Jesus, set traps, and used false witnesses. They found nothing, could not spring a trap that didn’t back-fire, and even the false witness couldn’t agree. Jesus was finally convicted (and rejected) by His claim to being God. [see Mark 14:61 – 64]

 

                        2.         Judas, who betrayed Jesus said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” [see Matthew 27:4]

 

                        3.         Pilate stated: “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” [see Luke 23:4]

 

                        4.         The Bible claims that Jesus was not only faultless, He was without sin even under the severest pressure.


“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.” [Hebrews 4:15]

 

II.       The MASTERY of the King.

 

            A.        Jesus claims the surrender of possessions.

 

                        1.         Nobody questioned Jesus claim to the donkey. It was a small demonstration of Jesus’ Lordship.


                                    a.         Jesus commanded demons [see Luke 8:29 – 35]

 

                                    b.         Jesus commanded the sea to be calm [see Luke 8:22 – 25]

 

                                    c.         Jesus walked on water [see Matthew 14:22 – 32]

 

                                    d.         Jesus healed the sick [see Matthew 4:24, and others]

 

                                    e.         Jesus knew the thoughts and intentions of people [see Matthew 9:4, Matthew 22:18]

 

                                    f.         Jesus changed physical elements [see John 2:1 – 11]

 

                                    g.         Jesus forgave sin [see Matthew 9:1 – 8]

 

                                    h.         Jesus multiplied little into much, such as feeding 5,000+ with five loves and two fish [see Matthew 14:15 – 21]

 

                        2.         The donkey/colt. It takes 8 weeks to “break” a donkey. It takes even longer to get them used to the noise of a crowd.

 

            B.        Jesus claimed the surrender of pride.

 

                        1.         People recognized Jesus as one who would bring salvation.

 

                                    a.         The work “Hosanna” means “save now.” It is both a blessing and a prayer.

 

                                    b.         To say this, one would have to recognize the need for salvation.

 

                        2.         The crowd was shouting praise to God, recognizing God’s provision in Jesus.

 

                                    a.         This was/is a compelling desire when we recognize God’s provision for our salvation.

 

                                    b.         The event was so powerful that if the crowd was silenced, the rocks would have cried out.


“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” [Luke 19:39 – 40]

 

III.      The MINISTRY of the King.

 

            A.        The King brings cleansing.

 

                        1.         The first “official” act of the Passion Week Jesus does is clean the temple.


“Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. [46] "It is written," he said to them, " `My house will be a house of prayer' ; but you have made it `a den of robbers.” [Luke 19:45 – 46]

 

                        2.         Why was this necessary?

 

                                    a.         The temple court was filled with everything except what God wanted...

 

                                    b.         They were providing a legitimate service, possibly engaging in profiteering (making an excessive or unfair profit – Oxford University Press) BUT it had become a “den of robbers.”

 

                                    c.         A “den of robbers” was a hide-out for thieves and other criminals were the law would or could not go. It was a safe for practicing criminals.

 

                                    d.         Prayer on the other hand does not hide our sin. It does not allow us to be “safe” from anything except the fires of eternal hell.


Choice: feel secure on the road to eternal hell or cleansed on the narrow path to eternal heaven.

 

            B.        The King brings salvation.

 

                        1.         If we continue reading after the prophecy about the donkey we will see this:


“As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.” [Zechariah 9:11]

 

                                    a.         Jesus at the “Last Supper” claimed, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” [1 Corinthians 11:25]

 

                                    b.         The blood of Jesus, seals the covenant God has made with us.


“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” [Hebrews 9:22]

 

                        2.         We see this sacrifice on the cross.

 

                                    a.         So we can be free from the punishment of sin.

 

                                    b.         So we can be free from the guilt of sin.

 

                                    c.         So we can be free from the rule of sin.


“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” [1 Corinthians 1:18]

 

IV.      The MANDATE of the King.

 

            A.        The question we must all face: “Who is this?” [see Matthew 21:10]

 

                        1.         Was Jesus a liar (who deliberately misled people), a lunatic (who was mistaken or insane), or Lord (who He claimed to be)? [C. S. Lewis]

 

                                    a.         Some people like Jesus’ moral teachings and good advice.

 

                                    b.         Some people hate Jesus (and followers of Jesus) passionately for various reasons.

 

                        2.         God gives us the freedom to choose. It is not forced. He took the initiative by sending Jesus to the cross. You can do two things today.

 

                                    a.         You can walk (or run) away.

 

                                                1.)       You might say, “this is not for me.”

 

                                                2.)       You might say “not today... I need time to think about it.”


[Reality check, the facts will not change. A decision will be made.]

 

                                    b.         You can bend your knee to the King of Kings, your King... Jesus Christ.

 

            B.        What is your choice?

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Joy of the Cross: Purpose

Luke 24:44 – 49

The Joy of the Cross: Purpose


Rick Warren, commenting about the search for purpose, in “Purpose Driven Life” stated, “typically we begin at the wrong starting point – ourselves.”


That’s a difficult idea because human nature sees the world and other people as extension of the individual self. Basically we project our feelings and motivations on others. The human sin nature knows no other way, no other starting point, no other reasoning process.


Christ cut through all the nonsense of our self–orientation. Strange, when you are able to step away from the basic self–orientation... you discover that when you begin with yourself, nothing will ever completely make sense.

 

I.         Scripture is the starting point.

 

            A.        We must have God’s help to understand Scripture.

 

                        1.         “Then He (Jesus) opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” [v 45]

 

                                    a.         These are people who had been with Jesus for three and a half years.

 

                                    b.         They struggled with their faith and the revolutionary ideas Jesus proposed.

 

                                    c.         Even after the resurrection, they did not understand.


“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” [1 Corinthians 2:14]

 

                        2.         Does this set up a special “privileged” class?

 

                                    a.         The easy answer is “yes.” You cannot understand what God does not open to you.

 

                                    b.         The hard answer is “no.” God makes you responsible for understanding, which means He provides the means for you to understand.


“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” [Romans 12:2]

 

            B.        That means, we must understand.

 

                        1.         God expects us to put some effort into testing and approving His will.

 

                        2.         Another word for this is “discern” (“distinguish with difficulty by sight or with the other senses.” Oxford University Press)


And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, [10] so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ...” [Philippians 1:9 – 10]

 

II.       The message is the starting block.

 

            A.        The message is about Jesus: “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” [v 46b]

 

                        1.         Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) spoken about in the Old Testament.

 

                                    a.         Some people struggle with the concept of Jesus dying on the cross.


“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, [23] but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, [24] but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” [1 Corinthians 1:22 – 24]

 

                                    b.         Yet God played the strongest possible move (in chess terms) a sacrifice. The sacrifice was necessary to satisfy the idea of “justice.” (A price/penalty must be paid for our sins. We cannot do it, so Jesus as the sinless Lamb of God took our place and paid the penalty.)


God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice...” [Romans 3:25a]

 

                        2.         Jesus rose from the dead!

 

                                    a.         If we focus on the means of Jesus’ death we miss the fact that the resurrection is prove positive of who Jesus is.


“And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 1:4]

 

                                    b.         The tombs of past leaders such as Buddha, Mohammed, etc... are occupied with earthly remains. Jesus’s tomb is empty.

 

                                    c.         So we enjoy, not just words... we participate in the most powerful event in history.


“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” [Philippians 3:10]

 

            B.        Our response to the message is “repentance.” [Repent is to change the mind and the behavior.]

 

                        1.         There are different reactions to guilt triggers.

 

                                    a.         Psychology will try to teach us to change our beliefs so our interpretation of consequences of our actions will change. But this does not produce positive productive life change, it only masks the cause of the problem.

 

                                    b.         Addiction is a form of self-medication we can use to dull the pain.

 

                                    c.         Sin does have its pleasure for a short time [see Hebrews 11:25], so sin is a form of distraction.

 

                                    d.         Call it what you want, there are only two types of reactions/responses to the guilt of sin.


Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” [2 Corinthians 7:10]

 

                        2.         Repentance is necessary.

 

                                    a.         Peter expressed the heart of God this way: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]

 

                                    b.         Paul asks: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? [Romans 2:4]

 

                                    c.         Trouble is, human nature fights against the need to admit we are wrong (change the mind) and take serious corrective action (change the behavior).


(Scripture is the starting point, the message about Jesus and our response in repentance is the starting block but staying on track is our responsibility.)

 

III.      Our responsibility is to stay on track.

 

            A.        Notice Jesus said: “You are witnesses of these things.” [v 46]

 

                        1.         You means you, not someone else’s responsibility.

 

                                    a.         Before William Carey’s time it was believed this was just for the original Apostles. Their obstacles:

 

                                                1.)       “Theological rigidity” in a perverted form of the doctrine of “predestination.”

 

                                                2.)       “Sanctified Self-interest” where the church’s responsibility was to “nurture the seeds of faith planted in baptism.”


(Source: Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, p. 549)

 

                                    b.         William Carey preached a sermon in 1792 where he stated, “expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”

 

                                                1.)       It was not long after that sermon that Carey headed to India as one of the first pioneer Protestant missionaries to “non-elect” (non-Western) world.

 

                                                2.)       The gravity of Christianity has shifted from Western and English speaking nations to the rest of the world. Christianity has become a world religion. (The head of the World Fellowship of the Free Methodist church is from the Philippines.)

 

                        2.         What does a witness do?

 

                                    a.         A witness tells the truth from their perspective and experience.

 

                                    b.         In our case, we tell truth handed to us through Scripture and we tell how we have experienced the life changing power of faith in Jesus and our response in repentance.

 

            B.        Jesus promised us help.

 

                        1.         God never tells us to do something we cannot do... So if He expects us do something, it is more than possible.

 

                        2.         When God tells us to do something supernatural... such as witness... He gives us the resources to do it. (Pocket Testament League presentation.  See www.pocketpower.org)

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