Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Birth of the Savior

Luke 2:1-20

The Adoration of the Shepherds, by Dutch painter Gerard van Honthorst, 1622.


Here we have the story of how the Son of God came to earth. He was born of a woman. God became a man. He laid aside His glory for a time, never His deity. 

I. A Humble Beginning
His earthly parents traveled to Bethlehem of Judea, their ancestral home, from where they were living in Galilee. They made the trip in response to a decree of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus.  The decree was that everyone must be enrolled, in a census taken for the purpose of taxation.

Joseph and his wife were not able to find accommodations in an inn, so they had to take shelter in a stable, possibly in a courtyard of a humble inn. The word translated manger means a place where animals are fed, so could mean a feeding trough or a stable.

Mary gave birth there in that humble stable, and wrapped her Baby in cloths and laid Him in a manger. That she wrapped Him herself indicates it was a lonely birth, for there were no female relatives or friends there to help her.

She knew, though, that this Child was born in fulfillment of what the angel told her, and that she gave birth as a virgin.

II. A Glorious Announcement
As it happened, there were some shepherds in that region, watching over their flocks by night. Since the sheep they were caring for were in the vicinity of Bethlehem, it is likely they were sheep destined for sacrifice in the Temple.

Shepherds were not highly regarded in the society of that day, and in fact were despised, that is, lightly and contemptuously regarded. They were considered untrustworthy and weren’t even allowed to give testimony in court.

The shepherds mentioned here however, were probably devout men, even if ceremonially unclean, and God chose them to be the Lord’s first visitors. For them, it was a great honor.

The angels gave such a spectacular display it was very frightening to the shepherds, and the angel had to reassure them. Then they announced to these humble shepherds that the Savior of the world had been born in Bethlehem, and that it was an occasion of good news that would bring great joy. The shepherds didn’t waste time puzzling over why God would choose to tell them about it. Rather, they took the opportunity, and rejoiced at their good fortune.

III. A Joyful Visit
Following the angel’s instruction, they soon found the Baby, and joyfully worshipped Him. It was a moment that must have been vividly remembered for the rest of their lives.

They had nothing to bring, except their worship and good wishes.

They were overjoyed at their privilege.

The could not keep from telling others, everyone they met, about what they had seen. The Bible says that those they told wondered at what the shepherds had said. Although the people didn’t quite know what to make of it, they knew something very unusual had happened.  The shepherds returned to their sheep glorifying God.

Mary “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (v. 19).

IV. An Example for Today

The shepherds gave a great example of how the Savior should be greeted.  Even Caesar, who gave the order for the census,  should have been there worshipping Christ.  People today should follow the example of the shepherds:

     A. They learned who Jesus was and how He could be found.

              God reveals to people today who is blessed Son is, as Savior and Lord, and through the
proclamation of the Gospel, we learn how we can find Him.

     B. They sought Him in faith.

              Once a person hears about who Jesus is, the wisest thing to do is seek Him in faith. The shepherds weren’t necessarily men of great faith, but they exercised the faith they had and trusted in the angel’s message. They followed the instructions and soon found the Lord.

      C. They rejoiced when they found Him.

               When a lost sinner finds Jesus, it is an occasion for great rejoicing. There is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner being saved.  The shepherds knew this was a wonderful thing. Can you imagine how they tried to share this news with others?  When Christ comes into our lives, we will naturally want to tell others. And not just at that moment, but from then on. 

              The shepherds were probably telling people about their experience from then on! When the wise men sought Jesus, we are told that “when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”
When we receive Christ we’ll rejoice. We must rejoice when we know it’s really true! At this Christmas season, are you rejoicing over the salvation of the Lord? That’s why Jesus came - to offer salvation and eternal life to all who receive Him by faith. He made the full payment for the sins of all believers by His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. Let’s pray that people will come to understand who He is and will seek Him in faith.
Merry Christmas!

(Note: written for publication in December, but not published due to my error. Apologies.)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Visit of the Wise Men

Matthew 2:1-12

Introduction: Who Were The Wise Men and Where Did They Come From? 
  Magi – philosophers, astronomers, dream interpreters, counselors – probably not kings, but having a similar degree of respect.

Image via Wikipedia
Probably, they were all from Persia, where the Magi had prominence, but possibly from more than one country. The Bible does not say there were three wise men (but three gifts are mentioned), and we do not know how many there were.

The Magi historically held positions of authority and honor in the Gentile kingdoms of the Medes, Persians, Babylonians and Parthians. They were men who sought after truth, whether spiritual or scientific. They were the learned men of their time.

The wise men of this account traveled a long way. No doubt they traveled with a large company, and the journey itself was costly.

Tradition has them as kings, representing different nations, ethnic groups, age levels, etc. According to tradition they visited the Christ child on the 12th day after His birth. In Spanish-speaking countries, Three Kings Day is observed on January 6, and that is the day when Christmas presents are left by the Three Kings (not Santa). That would be the 12th day of Christmas.

But in the Bible, we are not told precisely where the men were from or that they were kings.

Their visit evidently was not at the stable where Jesus was born, but at a house. Perhaps Joseph and Mary decided to stay in Bethlehem for a while before going back to Galilee, or perhaps they intended to stay there permanently. The actual visit may have taken place a year or so after the birth of Jesus.

I. God Let the Wise Men Know About the Birth of Jesus

He revealed it to them through the sign of a star. There are several theories on what they saw in the heavens. They would certainly know it if anything unusual could be seen in the sky. It is said that there was a triple conjunction of Mars and Saturn in the year 6 BC. In 7 BC, Jupiter was eclipsed by the moon. We do know that Jesus was born some time before 1 BC, probably between 4 and 8 BC, although it was probably not in December.

Whatever they saw, they recognized it, correctly, as a sign of the Messiah’s birth.

There has been documented a mysterious worldwide awareness and expectation that a great prince would be born in Judea in those days. Even the Romans had such an expectation. More importantly, from the prophecy of Daniel 9:24, the approximate time of Jesus’ birth can be calculated. “Weeks” in that text is literally “sevens,” which can be understood as “weeks of years” or seven-year periods.

What we know of God is what God chooses to reveal to us. It seems ironic that the wise men, though not Jews, were better characterized by reverent spirits and pure hearts than were the Jewish religious experts. They informed Herod that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and they could calculate the time. They were indifferent to the event they were talking about, while to the wise men, it was a matter of great importance. They believed the Scriptures.

As for King Herod, he just wanted to secure his own position at all costs, although he pretended to have a religious interest.

God has given us special revealed knowledge through the Scriptures about Jesus Christ.

II. The Wise Men Acted Upon the Knowledge God Gave Them

They determined that it was worth while to set out on a long, expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous journey to find and worship the Messiah.

It took a considerable effort and a certain amount of courage to do this.

We should act upon the guidance God gives us in His Word, prayer, our spiritual gifts, and the church.

III. They Were Not Disappointed

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”

They knew that God was giving them a great privilege.

They were pleased to visit Jesus in His humble surroundings. He was not in a palace, as one might expect the Messiah, the King, to be, but in a very ordinary house.

We should be grateful to be able to meet God, regardless of circumstances. He will not disappoint us. (see Romans 5:5)

IV. They Gave Jesus Their Best (Matthew 2:11)

They gave Him their worship.   “When they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him…”

They worshipped Him as King of the Jews.
They worshipped Him as the Messiah.
They were Jesus’ first Gentile worshippers. 

They gave Him the best gifts they could bring.
    Gold - a gift for a king - notable for its purity and non-tarnishing beauty and durability. 
    Frankincense - used in many religious rituals. In Judaism, the incense was perhaps the holiest part of the ceremony, and had to be burned in precisely the manner prescribed. Frankincense was, ounce for ounce, as valuable as gold. It was a gift appropriate to acknowledge the priesthood and deity of  Jesus.
    Myrrh - A very expensive perfume used as an ointment for embalming the dead. This is appropriate for recognizing that Jesus was born to die.

     We should give Jesus our best - ourselves as a living sacrifice, and the best of our gifts. He has given us His own very best.


God honored their faithfulness by giving them the privilege of finding and worshipping the Messiah. He also protected them from the ruthless King Herod, by giving them a warning in a dream (Matthew 2:12). They were not disappointed. With God’s help, they accomplished what they had set out to do. When they returned home, they undoubtedly told others. What God has done on our behalf, and in our lives, we should be telling others.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Christmas Spirit

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...
The Child Jesus with the Virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child John the Baptist and Saint Elizabeth on the right.Painting by Bartolomeo Esteban Murillo, c.1670. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Luke 2: 1-20
Matthew 2: 1-12


Are you ready for Christmas? Do you have the “Christmas spirit”?

Sometimes I’ve felt that by the time I really get in the mood for Christmas, it’s over. Some people are bubbling over with holiday enthusiasm, but there’s always a little of the old Scrooge around.

After the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, we see in the Scriptures a variety of responses from those who were there: the innkeeper, Mary and Joseph, the angels, the shepherds, the townspeople and visitors in town for the census, and later, the Wise Men, King Herod, the Jewish scholars …  Our own response may well be like some of the aforementioned.  It might be a good exercise to evaluate our own attitudes.

I.  The meaning of Christmas, briefly stated, is that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was born, God in human flesh, for the purpose of dying in order to offer us salvation through His sacrificial death, by which He paid for all the sins of all who would believe the Gospel and receive Him by faith, and His resurrection. He was raised from the dead to live and to rule for eternity, and all who receive Him will be with Him.

II. The events are familiar: The angel’s appearances to Mary and Joseph, the Emperor’s decree of a worldwide census for the purpose of taxation, Mary and Joseph making their way to Bethlehem, the City of David, to register. Mary giving birth, as a virgin, to Jesus, in a stable. There was no room in the inn. Although the city was very crowded, and many people could not find proper lodging, yet we have here a symbol of the world’s response to Jesus: No room.

The fact that they had no room at the inn does not indicate dire poverty for the Holy Family, but it does show that even though Jesus is the Son of God, His birth was in very humble circumstances. No palace or mansion.

III. The attitudes and responses
      A. Mary and Joseph - chosen by God because of the moral and spiritual fitness for the task (if indeed anyone could be so), they dealt with the harsh realities on the one hand, the divine and glorious meaning on the other. They would not have traded places with anyone.

      B. The innkeeper - probably not knowing about the Messiah being born; preoccupied with business at a busy time. Simply seemed unable to give attention.

      C.  The angels - They express the joy of heaven at the birth of Christ on earth. The One they have adored from their creation is bringing the love of God in a very profound way to people on earth. Truly this was an event to celebrate.

      D. The shepherds - if our attitudes could be like theirs! Full of awe and wonder that God would let them in on His great doings, and give, to them first, the privilege of finding and worshipping the Savior of the world. Everything the angels told them proved true.They found the Baby, they experienced the great joy of it, and they had to tell people what had happened.

        E. The townspeople and visitors - they were very impressed with what the shepherds told them. Evidently they believed it was all true. But, of course, they had important business to take care of, so they couldn’t take time to make a big issue of spreading the word further. Yet they would remember this night in later years.

         F. The Wise Men - They came some time later, maybe after a year or two - when they figured out what the Star they saw might mean. They came probably from Persia, or Babylon (where Daniel the prophet had lived and taught centuries earlier). Possibly they had learned Daniel’s Jewish religion. They knew something of the Scriptures.

             Traditionally we think of three men, possibly kings. We know that the Bible mentioned three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Valuable gifts suitable for a king, symbolizing the fact that Jesus is (as the song says), “King and God and Sacrifice.”
             They saw the birth of the Messiah as an event worthy not only of their expensive gifts, but also their long journey, and even their worship.  “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy!” (Matthew 2:10, NKJV)

              They understood both the seriousness and the joy. They knew that God had done something very significant for the benefit of man.

         G. King Herod - Some react to Christ with violent opposition. Herod was enraged to think that some other king might overshadow him in his little empire, especially a baby. He was enraged that the wise men didn’t come back to report to him. In his great anger, he caused great destruction to the innocent, and accomplished nothing to help himself. In a few years he was dead, bearing the weight of even more sin, leaving a legacy of horror.

         H. The Jewish scholars - They who gave Herod and the wise men the information concerning the birth of the Messiah, themselves expressed no interest whatsoever beyond relating the Scriptural prophecies. They showed themselves to be spiritually dead, even though they were learned in the Scriptures. What a contradiction! Yet there have always been religious leaders who had religious knowledge, but no real concern about the substance of it in their own lives.  We find, as we study the life of Jesus, that the religious authorities were usually more concerned about protecting their supposedly secure position, than in any real relationship with God or actual ministry to people. And ultimately, even though they were willing to defend it at all costs, they lost it.

              Their attitude is perhaps the hardest to understand, yet at the same time not uncommon.

 IV. Do any of these attitudes describe us?  Which ones are pleasing to God?

           A. God the Father wants us to accept His Son as we accept the Father Himself.
            B. God sent His Son specifically for our benefit.
                  1. He brings us eternal salvation if we trust in Him
                  2. He brings us the only real peace we can find in this world (Prince of Peace)
            C. How could we not receive Him with joy as the wise men did; rejoice at His birth and what God has told us, as the shepherds did; endure the momentary adversities knowing God is preparing us for eternity, as Mary and Joseph did?

                 Like the innkeeper, we have important business to take care of. But not more important than recognizing the Son of God. Not more joy-filled than truly finding and worshipping the Savior.


May God make this Christmas one of your best, and may it be filled with the joy and love of Christ for you and your loved ones.

The real Christmas Spirit is the Holy Spirit, Christ in you.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Keep Christ in Christmas

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Detail of stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I. We Are Celebrating the Birth of the Savior

   A. His Earthly Parents
         Found favor with God -- Luke 1: 28, 30
         Took on a great responsibility 
         Chosen for faith and character, as well as family line 
         Readily accepted God’s will (v.38)

   B. His Identity
         “ shall name Him Jesus.” (v.31)
        He will be great (v. 32)
        (He) will be called the Son of the Most High (v. 32)
       God will give Him the throne of His father David (v. 32)
       He will reign forever (v. 33)

   C. His Virgin Birth
         Verse 35
          “ … the eternal son of God took to Himself a genuine, though sinless, human nature and was born as a man, without surrendering in any aspect His deity.” -- Charles C. Ryrie
   D. His Presentation
         1. To the Shepherds -- Luke 2:8-20
             a. Outsiders of society
             b. Responded in faith to the angel’s message
             c. Found and humbly worshiped Christ
             d. Were filled with joy and returned praising God and telling everyone they met

         2. At the Temple -- Luke 2:21-39
              a. Formal Presentation -- According to Law
              b. Prophecy of  Simeon
              c. Anna’s Devotion

   E. The Timing of His Coming
         But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born  under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  (Galatians 4:4-5, NKJV)

         Fullness of time: Fulfillment or prophecy, Roman peace, Messianic expectations, worthy family members in the line of David living in Israel, readiness of people to respond. Above all, a time of God’s choosing.

   F. His Purpose in Coming
         To save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)
         There is no other who can save us (Acts 4:12)
         Immanuel -- “God with us” (Matthew 1:23/Isaiah 7:14) (Virgin birth)
         He sends the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18).
         Jesus will come again in power and glory (Matthew 24:29-31).

        God shows undeserved favor toward mankind in offering salvation through the sacrifice of the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).  At Christmas, we celebrate the gift and blessing, that grants believers favor with God and eternal life with Him through His Son, in which He is glorified.

        This great purpose overshadows all other considerations, great as they may be.

II. The Celebrations We See Around Us
     A. Less Emphasis on Christ
     B. Determined Effort To Exclude Christ
           “Holidays,” not “Christmas”       

     C. Open Hostility Against Christianity
           More rejection of the Bible
           How dare Christians try to keep Christmas for themselves?
           Political opposition to Christianity

III. The Celebration We Should Experience

     A.  Focus on Christ
     B. Additional Meanings
           1. Gifts, especially for children
           2. Expressions of compassion
           3. Expression of desire for peace
           4. Family traditions
           5. Food

IV. Don’t Forget What The Essence of the Celebration Is
      A. The Birth of the Savior
          Without Christ, the Celebration Is of a Different Character -- More like Halloween or Valentine’s Day
      B. Tolerance of Others Who Don’t Share Our Beliefs
            -- Respect the freedom of others
            -- This does not mean regarding all beliefs as equally correct

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving: The Grateful Attitude

“In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:18

"Hearty Thanksgiving Greeting" Postcard, c. 1910. Collection of Plimoth Plantation.
Introduction: Thanksgiving Day            
Harvest feasts, Pilgrims 1621

 Lincoln Proclamation 1863

In America these days: A day of worship, feasting, visiting, and possibly football

I. The Grateful Attitude Is Learned - and Can Be Forgotten.

             (Where are you in this process?)
    Expressing thanks is an elementary principle of etiquette.

   A. Stages of Gratefulness in Attitude
     1. Ungrateful heart - disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy...
             - 2 Timothy 3:2
     2.  Thoughtless Neglect - Where are the nine? - Luke 17
     3. Disciplined response 
     4. Overflow of love - Giving thanks in all things
    B. Gratefulness Is Learned By Example
      1. Jesus
      2. Parents
      3. Peers
      4. Teachers, Leaders, Public Figures, and others
      5. History

    C. Gratefulness Is Learned By Study
    D. Gratefulness Is Learned By Action
    E. Learning Must Be Reinforced and Remembered

II. What Giving Thanks Does  (It does not “repay” or “reciprocate“)

   A. Recognizes a Blessing (something good done for us)
       1. - which should not go unrecognized
       2. - shows respect

   B. Imparts a Blessing  (a good word)

       1. People want and need to know that they and their actions are appreciated
       2. Builds their self worth

 C. Blesses Us
        1. Cheerfulness
        2. Self worth
        3. Easier to say "Thanks" next time - builds a good habit

III. It Ought To Be Easy!

   A. So much to be grateful for!

Ps. 103: "Forget none of his benefits ... pardons your iniquities, heals your diseases, etc., 

To Whom              For What
God                Salvation, family, church, friends, leaders, country, health, life
Parents           Self-sacrificing care, love, teaching, support
Spouse, friends, others     Love, help, concern, sympathy, work, help, ideas, ....
                              for the joy they bring us!

If we're grateful to parents, we can also be grateful to God.
If we're grateful to God, we'll also be grateful to others.

  B. So Easy to Express Thanks!

Prayer and testimony
Words, letters, cards, phone calls, invitations, gifts, etc.
According to teachings of Scripture and customs of etiquette
  C. We Lose No Dignity by Expressing Appreciation to God and to others!
  D. We Set a Better Example.

IV. Our Christian Service Should Spring from Gratefulness to God.
What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits to me?  Ps. 116:12

Take the cup of salvation, pay my vows, be his servant…
And ... Be His friend!
 Don't expect everyone to express thanks to you as they should - be forgiving, and don't
 hold a grudge if they fail. We have all failed at times.

Conclusion: Let our lives demonstrate gratefulness to God and others for all they have  given and done for us.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Epilogue: The Ascension of Jesus Christ (Luke 24: 50-53; Acts 1: 1-11)

Ascension of ChristImage via WikipediaBEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
An Easter Series -- Part 7 of 7


Jesus taught them, showing them in the Scriptures the things concerning Himself:
   A. “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ must suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” (Luke 24:46)
   B. “… and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (v. 47)
   C. They are witnesses (v. 48)
   D. The promise of power of the Holy Spirit (v. 49)
   E. “He led them out as far as Bethany…” (on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives)(v. 50)

I. He Ascended into Heaven

   A. He Lifted Up His Hands and Blessed Them (v. 50)

      1. The usual posture of blessing
      2. His blessing was for all Christians
      3. This ended his earthly ministry. He had appeared to them over a period of 40 days after his resurrection, but would not be doing so any longer until His return.

   B. While He Was Blessing Them, He Departed from Them (v. 51)
      (this emphasizes the blessing)

      1. He rose up from them bodily, and a cloud received Him (Acts 1:9)
      2. He rose up slowly.
      3. They saw everything clearly. (Acts 1:9-11)
      4. They were assured by two angels that He would return in the same manner.
(Acts 1:11)
      5. Several people saw this happen (the Emmaus disciples, the eleven, and those who were with them) (Luke 24:33)
      6. The blessing was their last sight of him.
      7. They could see the wounds in His hands.
      8. This represents the ascension of Christ's humanity into heaven

   C. He Was Received Into Heaven

      1. Demonstrated God’s acceptance of His sacrifice.
      2. It was necessary for Him to return to heaven to complete His mission.
      3. He was received into heaven not only to dwell but to reign.
      4. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father.

   D. The Disciples Returned to Jerusalem with Great Joy (v. 52)

      1. Because of His blessing
      2. Because of His assurance that they would receive power
      3. Because of the angels' assurance concerning His return
      4. Because of the exciting challenge that lay before them
      5. Because of their strong sense of fellowship

   E. They Were Continually in the Temple, Praising God (v. 53)

      1. God-given joy is the real and lasting joy
      2. This joy leads to greater faith
      3. This joy leads to worship
      4. This joy leads to praise
      5. This joy leads to action

“...Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah. 8:10

Afterwards, they received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and witnessed a miraculous demonstration of God's love and power. They received power to accomplish their task. As Christians, we have this same Holy Spirit. And we have an assigned task, and the power to complete it!

II. Jesus’ Work Since His Resurrection Is Vitally Important
(Consider the time element: years on earth vs. years afterward)

   A. He is Co-Regent with God the Father.
   B. He is our Intercessor
      He defends us (believers) against any accusation Satan might make. He helps us as we pray in His Name
   C. He is our High Priest
      He hears our prayers and prays for us. He represents us before the Father.

   D. He sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26, 16:7) and thus is present with us.

   E. He is preparing a place for us (John 14:3).

   F. He is coming again (John 14:3).

   G. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (I Timothy 6:15)
      1. He will end the tribulation period (Matthew 24:22)
      2. He will defeat those who fight against Him
      3. He will establish His Kingdom on earth
      4. He will rule for eternity, and we (believers) will be with Him

   H. He is Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18)
      1. He rules in the church.
      2. He gives spiritual gifts
         “...When He ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men..” (Ephesians 4:8, quoting Psalm 68:18) “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry..." (Ephesians 4:11-12)
      3. He gives guidance and power.
      4. He deserves obedience
      5. He is the One the world needs.

Direct Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.
Illustration: Ascension of Christ by Garofalo, c.1510-1520. Public domain.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

RESURRECTION! (John 3:14, John 12:32, I Corinthians 15)

Jesus resurrected and Mary MagdaleneImage via WikipediaBEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
An Easter Series -- Part 6 of 7

I. Basic Facts About the Resurrection of Jesus

   A. Jesus predicted His own death and resurrection.
      Matthew 26:31-32: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.” [Quoting from Zechariah 13:7] But after I have been raised, I will go before you into Galilee.’” (He said this just before going to the Garden of Gethsemane.)

   B. It is a historical event.
      1. It happened - literal, physical, bodily.
         Without the bodily resurrection, you do not have biblical Christianity, but something else.
      2. It is attested -
         a. Tomb was empty
         b. Theories don't hold up - At the time everyone apparently agreed that the empty tomb was an incontestable fact.
            Swoon - How could he appear later in no need of medical attention?
            Jews stole body - would have created the rumor they wanted to stop
            Disciples stole body - Why would they be willing to die for such a hoax?
            Legend created by the church - reaction to early preaching was not denial of the resurrection as an event. Evangelists do not claim to have seen Jesus' resurrection. Preaching always connected the spiritual victory of the resurrection with the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
      3. Post-resurrection appearances over a period of 40 days (Acts 1:3)
         People saw Him with their physical eyes, while they were awake, One they recognized as Jesus of Nazareth. (Sometimes delayed recognition)

         To Mary Magdalene -- John 20
         To the other women -- Matt. 28
         To Cephas -- Luke 24
         To the Twelve (Thomas absent) -- John 20
         To the Emmaus disciples - Luke 24
         To more than 500 at one time -- I Corinthians 15:6
         To James, the Lord’s half brother -- I Corinthians 15:7
         To Paul (Saul) - Acts 9

II. The importance of the resurrection

O.T. Scriptures - Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Zechariah 12:10, for example
   A. Christian faith rests upon this fact!
   B. It validates the gospel - It is an essential part of the gospel.
      Romans 10:9 Confess Jesus as Lord, believe God raised him from the dead....
   C. Vindicates Jesus' messiahship
   D. Vindicates Jesus' sonship
   E. Vindicates Jesus' work
   F. Further shows Jesus' humanity
   G. It demonstrates our own resurrection - OUR HOPE!
      “And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (I Corinthians 15:49)

      1. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. v. 50
      2. We shall not all sleep, but we will all be changed. v. 51
      3. Final victory over death, vv. 54-57
      4. Our body shall be like His.
         a. perfectly responsive to the Spirit
         b. retains individual identity
         c. No longer bound by material and spatial limitations (Materialize / localize at will)
         d. Not subject to any weakness or indignity
         e. Beautiful, strong and healthy
         f. Not subject to corruption
         g. Having continuity with earthly body / seed - to - tree / sown - raised

III. Christ Lifted Up

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” John 3:14
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:32

   A. On the cross
      John refers to the crucifixion as glorification.
      We must understand what Jesus did for us on the cross.
   B. Lifted up “from the earth”
      1. The cross is “from the earth.”
      2 . The resurrection “from the earth.” He lives forever.
      3. The ascension “from the earth.” He is exalted forever.
      4. Seated at the right hand of God
         a. Mission accomplished
         b. In a position of honor
         c. In a position of authority
         d. In a position not shared

      5. Started his heavenly ministry as
         a. Our Advocate, our High Priest, our Intercessor, our Sustainer
         b. Head of the church -- The church must honor Jesus as Head of the body, manifesting his love and power, reaching out to the world.
         c. Preparing our place
         d. Preparing to return for us

      6. Proclaimed Lord and Christ
      7. Receiving great honor and glory

   C. Lifted up in the believers’ lives -- worshipped as Lord and Christ

    D. Lifted up in the church
      1. Early preaching lifted up Christ and always emphasized his death and resurrection.
      2. We can't give our life to a dead man. We can't expect anything from a dead man.
      3. Without the resurrection, our faith is futile.

   E. Lifted up In the world
      1. By the church, the Bible, and missionary effort
      2. By the Holy Spirit

   F. Lifted up by the power of God
      1. God's power raised Jesus from the dead
      2. God's power draws people to Him
      3. God's power gives us eternal life
      4. God's power is needed for the proclamation of the gospel
      5. God's power is needed to for us to live the Christian life. The same power that raised Jesus Christ is in every believer.

   G. Lifted up for the glory of God
      The resurrection glorifies Christ and God who raised him.
“I am the resurrection…” Jesus is the one who makes possible our own resurrection.
“ ... and the life…” Only through Him can we gain eternal life. He sustains us.
(John 11:25)

IV. For the salvation of man / eternal life, God allowed the crime of the crucifixion to
become the sacrifice to pay for our sin. Jesus bore our sins - He died in our place.
He lifts us up.

   A. Whosoever will may come
   B. Will share with Christ
      1. Eternal life / immortality
      2. Resurrection type bodily existence
      3. Glory and authority
      4. Serving and worshiping God forever

V. The Resurrection Process Starts Now

   A. The believer has eternal life now.
      1. This amounts to a moral and spiritual regeneration and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
   B. The bodily resurrection and exaltation happens later. By the resurrection, death is defeated!
   C. Christian faith governs the believer's a way of life.
      “I have come that they might have LIFE and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
      “Choose life, that you and your descendents may live.” Deut. 30:19
   D. Christian faith is the way to life.
       “… you must be born again” John 3:7

VI. There Is Another Resurrection -- to Judgment and Condemnation

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36

   A. Retribution is not inconsistent with God's character or the Bible's teaching.
   B. Condemnation that is eternal
   C. Condemnation that is irreversible - no appeal to higher authority

VII. What Can We Do?

“There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

   A. Understand the importance of the Resurrection
      1. Part of the Gospel
      2. Part of the Christian's life now
      3. Part of the Christian's future

   B. Let God help you live the Christian life
   C. Lift up Christ / make Him known
   D. Help your church to lift Him up
   E. Celebrate the Resurrection!

Direct Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.
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