Tag: Easter

I Am the Life from God

John 14:6

Try wrapping your mind around this – are surrounded by a culture of death, yet when someone dies we have a celebration of life, not a funeral. Death is glamorized, many fascinated with zombies, several million worshipers of Santa Muerte (sacred death), lobbying for assisted suicide and euthanasia, abortions worldwide at more than 1 every second. True, there are many who labor diligently to save and nurture life. Yet much of what we see / hear on daily basis centers on death and dying. Many we encounter daily have completely upside down view of life and death.

Understandable for first followers of Lord Jesus in hours immediately following real Black Friday – blackest day they had ever known. One they were counting on to save them could not even save himself… instead succumbing to unspeakable agonies of crucifixion. No surprise if they were more preoccupied with death than life – after all, how attractive would life be if all your hopes had died?

There is shock… too much happening too quickly, all just so wrong. Mob violence, repeated injustices from those charged to uphold justice, and everything turning out exactly opposite of expectations. Then so little time for burial, no time for proper one. Gloomy days, sleepless nights, devoted followers now anxious for their own future. Certainly no mental or emotional resources to more than deal with present reality.

Easy for us, from this distance, to say gently “don’t you remember what he said?” But we know rest of the story and… we were not there in the moment, experiencing it first-hand. On first morning, women returned to garden sepulchre intending to do right what men had done hurriedly days earlier. Found that nothing was like they expected – tomb not sealed by massive stone, not guarded by contingent of Roman soldiers, body not there needing further care. Was an open tomb, overseen by angels, empty but for now superfluous and empty grave clothes.

Those angels asking questions that make little sense – Why do you look for the living among the dead? Well, he was dead the last we knew. He is not here! We know that, we see that, who took his body away? He is risen! Risen? What is that supposed to mean? Where did you put his body? Remember what he told you… Remember? All we remember is how this is all so wrong. He said what? …the third day rise again? What? This is too much, we need to process this.

Slowly, very slowly at first, over next hours reality of what happened, what Jesus had said begain to register. Jesus spoke often about significant upcoming events. Immediate followers heard, lacked places in framework for viewing life to hang pieces of information. Spoke on 3 separate occasions about his upcoming death and resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33) – hearers didn’t really begin to get it until after had taken place.

A. the source of life (John 1:4; 8:12)

life does not come from non-life

to believe, first, that anyone knows exact recipe for mass of highly condensed matter that exploded in Big Bang 13 billion years ago takes massive amount of faith

then to believe anyone can accurately describe what followed requires just as much faith, as does believing life spontaneously arose from soup of nonliving substances

far more believable that a living God created all things by his powerful word, out of nothing, in space of 6 days, all very good

is true for life in all forms

every last bit of tangible evidence clearly demonstrates requirement for living to produce more living things after their kind

the one at beginning, already present, in whom was life – the Word… who was with God, who was God, gave life to every living creature from single-celled organisms right up through most complex being

one who is source of life also the authority – John 10:18

one who has power to give life has not only power over own life, has authority over everything to which he gave life

no other being has power to take life away from source, yet he has necessary power to lay it down, to take it up again

need to think carefully and precisely – was not God who died on Calvary’s cross; was the God-Man who gave his human life and then raised himself: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)

B. the first living sacrifice (John 6:51; 1 Cor. 5:7)

gave his life so he might give life

was the Lord Jesus – the true passover lamb that every other lamb dimly pictured – who was sacrificed for us

Jesus gave his life so he could give eternal life to all who trust in him – nothing less would satisfy holy and righteous God

that way from nearly the beginning – Adam and Eve forfeited life… not only for them, but for all their posterity

justice required a life in return for theirs, if not from them, then from a suitable substitute… who had no debt of his own to pay

could only give life from own treasury – had to take it back to give

Jesus laid down his life, gave up his human life by his own authority and power; would take it up again so could give it to others

way God designed it – had to be someone to do perfectly what first Adam failed to do, then he could be substitute for his people, grant them life he purchased on their behalf

C. his life the ground of our life (John 14:19b)

see John 5:21; 10:10, 17

was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth – to give life to his people: “even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”

unlike what some think… that Jesus leveled playing field to put us on par with Adam, Jesus gives life more abundant – life that can never be lost or taken away

both death and life absolutely necessary

Jesus – “because I live, you will live also” – could not skip they dying part first, otherwise is not a resurrection!

besides, since had forfeited life, someone had to recover it for those who needed it – had to be life for life, not works for life, money, bargaining

must be in that order

had to be real death followed by real resurrection – only way to satisfy God’s demands, only way to know they were satisfied

if Jesus could not overcome death, would mean he failed to pay penalty for sin – why Paul could declare confidently: if Jesus did not rise from dead, our situation is hopeless, we still in our sins

D. his resurrection guarantees ours (John 5:25-29)

if no resurrection – preaching futile, faith is empty

would make no sense to try and proclaim good news of salvation if Savior was accused truly: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.”

hope promised in Gospel some for this life, mostly for next life – if Jesus still buried somewhere, his fate is our fate… hopeless and empty of any true value

Jesus’ resurrection to better life

true, Jesus walked and talked here on earth for nearly 6 weeks after resurrection – for last 1900+ years, been experiencing all joys of heaven at Father’s right hand

Heb. 6:19-20This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Heb. 12:2 “…Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

same true for us – John 11:25-26

Jesus is both resurrection and life to those who live and believe in him – may experience physical death, at same time possessing life

Jesus himself promised resurrection of those who are his will be to “resurrection of life”; those who die in their sins will hear Father’s summons to “resurrection of condemnation”

E. a singular package (John 17:2-3)

“The distinctive gift of the Gospel is the gift of life. ‘I am the Life,’ says Christ. And the apostle’s confession is in harmony with his Master’s claim–‘For me to live is Christ.’ Salvation is nothing else than the restoration, preservation, and exaltation of life.” Archibald Alexander

salvation not ticket to good life

can all probably come up with description of “the good life” – easy, enjoyable, no drama, everything you need close at hand

keep dreaming! that is only place where that kind of life exists around here… and is nothing at all like what God has in mind

not even ticket to heaven

God loves you, has wonderful plan for your life, even better in heaven… not that either; Jesus didn’t die and rise again to save people from hell – would only be treating symptoms

he gave his life and rose third day to save us from our sins – not getting old, not our neighbor, not even cancer is greatest problem… is our sin that stands between us and God, between us and life

salvation as offered in Gospel is only way to life, the real thing

Bible describes those yet unconverted as dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) – unresponsive to spiritual things, not fully alive

different situation for those whom God has changed: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5)

requires belief in some basic things: Rom. 10:9-13

if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Listen to words of Jesus –

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

1 John 5:10He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.”

There is human existence beyond death – not reincarnation, not something we pick off buffet after arriving. Destiny is obvious from choices made before death, character of life now. Make sure you have reason to be confident in a good future found in eternal life through our savior Jesus Christ.

 

I Am the Truth of God

John 14:6

In just a few hours from when Jesus spoke these words to disciples, would be engaged in dialog with someone from significantly different worldview. We know him as Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of province of Judea. In fascinating dialog between Pilate and Jesus,

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)

Gospel writer does not indicate Pilate’s facial expression, tone of voice – was he sarcastic… or seeking? Pilate by no means first to ask question. One that has been debated for centuries, number of different answers given. Defies logic but many today don’t seem to care whether question has answer, even less what answer might signify.

Subject of “what is truth” puts us into realm of philosophy. Before your eyes glaze over, keep listening… won’t be that complicated! Greek philosopher Aristotle, lived between Malachi and Matthew, gave an answer… later called “correspondence theory of truth”. Here’s what he said: “to say that that which is is and that which is not is not, is true”. In other words, “truth agrees with reality”. As you might expect, not everyone agrees with Aristotle. As time passes, fewer and fewer agree that Aristotle was right.

Some make truth in any form relative – “that may be true for you but it isn’t true for me”. Your truth and my truth can both be valid even if they contradict one another. Some make it pragmatic – “if that’s what works for you, great; it doesn’t work for me”. The convinced skeptic refuses to accept that truth can even be known since no one has fully accurate and unbiased knowledge of reality. Vast majority of world citizens vigorously deny that any worldview has corner on truth, possesses absolute truth – truth that is always true in all places, times, circumstances and applies to all people.

Before we even get to definition of truth, try to figure out which might be right, need to know if truth even exists. If it does exist, can we discover it and know it? If we can know it, what good is it… what will truth do for us? And how do we go about finding it?

Does God have anything to say about truth, if so, what?

A. truth exists (John 1:14; 17:17b)

do not need NT in order to know this: God himself abounds in truth` Ex. 34:6; repeated Ps. 86:15

He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. …And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth

not simply that God is truthful, recognizes and appreciates the truth – is abundantly filled with truth – permeates who he is, what he does and says

God’s word, like his character, is truth in its entirety Ps 119.160

“The entirety of your word is truth” – no part of God’s word lacking in truth, no part of his word communicates untruth… means truth and not-truth can be distinguished

also in keeping with his character, God’s truth is always true, universally – not every true statement is universally true, time/date e.g. not true at given moment in all the world

not only an idea or principle, has substance: Ps. 91:4

His truth shall be your shield and buckler” – has power to be our protection, our defense against all that would cause harm

shop saying – “mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it don’t matter”; God’s truth not simply state of mind – are statements, concepts, propositions that correspond to reality from God’s point of view and have ability to do something

Jesus embodied truth and reiterated that God’s word is truth and has ability to make one holy

final prayer before arrest that Father would make his people holy, make them pure by his truth… found in God’s word

if you have been follower of Jesus any time at all, know the reality of that prayer – was hearing God’s truth warned of sinfulness, brought message of hope, informs what displeases God, strengthens to resist sin

B. truth is essential (John 4:23-24)

for Lord to be near, must call on him in truth Ps. 145:18

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.” – cannot call on him any way we please, expect God to answer

” the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” Heb 11:6 must be confident of certain truth to receive response

to please God, must walk in truth… his truth Ps. 86:11

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth;” – don’t get to make up own truth about God, what is acceptable

God’s truth applied to thoughts, words, actions vitally necessary for us to live acceptably before God, to be able to depend on him as our help and guide

to worship God, must do so in spirit and truth

has never been acceptable to worship true God according to own invention – made obvious by Adam & Eve’s oldest son

Jesus made sure we know rules haven’t changed: God seeking true worshipers who will worship Father in spirit and truth – with a true understanding of Jesus as our access to the Father, the fulfillment of OT shadows

C. truth is knowable (John 8:32a)

God desires us to possess truth – Ps. 51:6

You desire truth in the inward parts”: not just know it, recognize it, even appreciate it – but… possess it… in our inward parts – iow, saturated to the core w/truth

for God to desire that we possess truth that way, we must be able to know it and work to absorb it and retain it

God expects parents to communicate his truth to children – Isa. 38:19

The father shall make known Your truth to the children.” – carries on theme from Deut. 6:6-9 “these words [God’s truth] which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…”

God’s truth not hidden, no secret decoder ring necessary to read and comprehend his truth from his word – Holy Spirit’s ministry sufficient to lead us into truth

Jesus said we can know the truth

“you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – truth as embodied in Christ and declared in Gospel sets free from bondage to sin and Satan

God’s truth can only do that if it is knowable and absolute – applicable to all people in all places at all times

God our Savior desires all men to know the truth – 1 Tim. 2:3-4

“God our Savior …desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” – and God gets his way… never frustrated in his desires

D. truth sets people free (John 8:32b)

sin enslaves through deception

sin promises what it cannot deliver, promises to bring pleasure / satisfaction… when comes up empty, says try again… harder, it’ll work for sure this time

cannot know every form of deception well enough to recognize

Satan a master of cloaking his agenda and sin in different ways to keep sinner guessing and permanently trapped in sin

many deceptions are close enough to truth that must have knowledge of truth coupled with Holy Spirit’s help to discern

can know truth, recognize what is not-truth

it is truth that unmasks deception, shows sin for what it is; we can know truth, God expects us to use knowledge of truth to discern not-truth

truth leads to true solution for our need

Satan tries to convince we have no need or we only need what he promises – leads in opposite direction away from truth

God’s truth not only exposes our true need of Savior, same truth leads to true solution for our need… Lord Jesus

E. truth makes people holy (John 17:17a)

to see things as they are makes people holy

far more than just negative – yes, need to know our sinful condition; also need to know reality about God

truth enables us to see God as “infinitely lovely and pure; his commands to be reasonable and just;

equips us to believe heaven to be holy and desirable; Christ’s service to be easy, and religion pleasant, and sin odious

enables to see that life is short, death is near; pride, pomp, pleasures, wealth, and honors of this world are of little value

and that it is of infinite importance to be prepared to enter on the eternal state of being.” Barnes

is God’s truth that convinces us of importance of our immortal soul – need to make sure is in good health according to God’s standard… and keep it that way

that kind of truth can be found in fullness in God’s word the Bible

Bible is only source of truth that is fully reliable in its entirety; are other helpful assistants – teachers of past and present

God’s word is fully sufficient as it is reliable – don’t need to go looking for God’s truth elsewhere to know what to believe and how to behave pleasing to God

F. we have a guide into the truth (John 16:13)

not expected to stumble around in dark

Holy Spirit, poured out in abundance on first Pentecost after Ascension is absolutely reliable guide to God’s truth and word

significant ongoing work of Holy Spirit – illuminating God’s truth, our areas of need

has brilliant and focused beam he turns on particular places in God’s word, leading us from truth to truth, helping us grow

turns that same beam on places in our lives that need to be changed by God’s word, God’s truth – guides both understanding and application of truth

Truth is this: Eph. 2:1-4, 11-12 and it required this: Eph. 2:13-19

I Am the Way to God

John 14:6

GPS a wonderful invention. When equipped with accurate maps can take lot of guesswork out of travel. Usually a reliable guide that can be trusted in unfamiliar places. Can be a fun exercise – use GPS in area where you are familiar, then take shortcuts and back roads you know about. “In 300 feet turn left.” No, it’s the next left. “Recalculating… turn around as soon as possible.” And so it goes, not taking turn suggested, taking turns not suggested. Even if you do become disoriented, just follow directions given and will most likely arrive at destination.

Lots of folks treat eternal destination in similar way. Believe they have some sort of internal GPS makes it possible for them to take any road, make any turns they choose, still arrive at good destination at end of life. God may be at end of road, could be heaven or nirvana or nothing at all. Whichever it happens to be, are confident can live life how they choose and still arrive where they intend.

Many of same folks at least profess to live by principle that truth is relative. What is true for you does not need to be true for them and vice versa. What is true in one situation not necessarily true in other places or at other times. According to them, definitely is not any body of truth that applies to all people in all places in all time. One absolute truth exists… that there is no absolute truth.

Would also be of opinion that mankind has prerogative to decide when human life begins, when it should end. If they believe certain procedures are not unjust taking of life, then abortion is ok. If they believe a particular life is not worth sustaining, well then, end it by assisted suicide or euthanasia. Anyone who dares to challenge those views is obviously wrong, should not have a voice in the discussion. Is especially true when challenger has temerity to say their way is the only way of rightly responding to all these issues.

Christian should not be satisfied with these answers to questions foundational to all of life. We must ask “has God said something about these topics? If so, what did he say?” He said: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Same truth expressed elsewhere in God’s word the Bible – cannot blame exclusive nature of Jesus’ statement on bad translation.

Much of what you will hear now through Sunday… have heard before. Is good to review, be reminded of truth, have it reinforced in thinking so are better equipped to declare truth to others. Is helpful to begin at beginning – think about what Jesus said… unnecessary unless Jesus speaking to genuine area of need.

— if Jesus is the way, must be that we need a way, know where to find it, how to access it

— if Jesus is the truth, not simply a truth but the truth… must be that it exists, we need to know it and it can be known

— if Jesus is the life, then apart from Jesus mankind is cut off from life, the kind found only in Jesus

A. we need a way (Gen. 3:21-24)

perfect fellowship broken / ended by sin

God said “let there be… and there was, God saw, God rested – all creation very good in God’s estimation… satisfied with what came into being in response to command

God said all this… but not this; serpent said, woman saw, no longer good – all that was very good now scarred and cracked and darkened… distorted and defaced from original condition

true of every human relationship – now contorted by sin, deception, accusation, frustration and opposition

original way guarded / off-limits

way to fellowship with God now blocked; where only truth existed, now falsehood and twisting of truth; those once alive now beginning to die, the inevitable outcome of sin

way to perfect eternal fellowship with God guarded by flaming sword, off-limits to man and woman fallen and corrupted by sin

impossible to make own way – Job 9:33

God showed great mercy guarding his presence from sinners – holiness and purity would have destroyed them, tree of life would have condemned to hopeless future

God made original way to his presence, only God can make another way – beyond ability of mankind to restore what was lost

are estranged from God, from our side with irreconcilable differences

fallen sinners have no desire for any contact with God – first parents with pretty small collection of sin hid from God’s presence, resisted his efforts at reconciliation

B. there is a way (Isaiah 35:4-10)

a highway and a road

many places nearby, some we have checked out over past summers – nature trails – some well-made, clearly marked, others not so much… hard to find trail markers, impassible certain times of year

way God makes is clearly defined – is highway for safe travel, well defined and marked, constantly accessible and in good repair

limited access

only certain types permitted to use this highway, has only one way of access; provided with effective guard rails keeping travelers in right way, safe from harm

no unclean on it, reserved for redeemed, ransomed of the Lord; whoever uses it never get lost; unerring leads to final destination

way of holiness, gladness, joy

way that leads in holiness to perfect holiness – purity in all things and suitable for God’s presence; not burdensome, pleasant surroundings that supply joy and gladness… disperse sorrow and sighing

C. we know the way (John 14:4)

…but not everyone does John 8:14

Jesus spoke plainly to Pharisees: “I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.”

also spoke plainly to his intimate followers: “You know the way where I am going” – both destination and route to get there

had to help the Eleven adjust focus from immediate to eternal – not going to “Father’s house” in Jerusalem but real one

his followers must make other followers

is task Lord Jesus has left his followers – go make more… show and tell, at every opportunity, help others find only way that leads to eternal life

need not be overwhelmed by task – not our job to reach all the lost (all several billion) with the Gospel – one at a time… pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus

D. he is not a new way (John 1:51) (Rom. 4:5, 9)

Gen. 3:15 – promised

important note: Adam and Eve sinned, under God’s condemnation; before righteous Judge issued sentence, declared message of hope for fallen sinners

God would supply someone who would overcome evil Serpent had brought into the world, in process would deal with Serpent

Gen. 28:10-17 – confirmed

way to tree of life perhaps only dim memory passed down through generations; not hard to believe mankind wondering if anything would ever change, if God’s presence to be forever off-limits

Jacob leaving town and murderous brother, stops for night, has dream: “a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; … the LORD stood above it”, renewed covenant, now with Jacob

Jacob’s response: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” – God confirmed he would make way

Lord Jesus added more detail – told Nathanael “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)

John 19:30 – completed

that new and living way into house of God completed when He cried “It is finished”, then on third day rose from the dead

E. he is the only way (John 14:6b; Acts 4:12)

no access to God apart from Jesus

Lord Jesus is Jacob’s Ladder that stretches from Father in heaven to touch earth – God himself the only one without exception who can establish ladder, a way that reaches from fallen sinful mankind to his presence

Jesus told Eleven “I am the way... No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – unpopular maybe, but consider this:

he did not keep this essential truth hidden from mankind – declared it openly, wrote it down, preserved so all may know

no salvation in any other

another exclusive statement, and so incredibly helpful: don’t waste your life trying other ways, there is no other way to acquire salvation – “there is salvation in no one else”

no other name

no other person, being, method, plan that can provide salvation acceptable to God; and… no other means ever devised by God himself for the salvation of a lost world

God’s entire plan of salvation wrapped up in Jesus – every ritual sanctioned by God in OT worship looked forward to him, in NT looks backward to Calvary and forward to his return

Heb. 10:19-22Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Encourage One Another

Hebrews 4:14-16

Eccl. 1:14-15 “I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded: Everything he has accomplished is futile – like chasing the wind! What is bent cannot be straightened, and what is missing cannot be supplied.”

Jean-Paul Sarte (20th century French philosopher) wrote: “Man can count on no one but himself; he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.”

If those two variations on same basic perspective are comprehensive and correct, why bother? Must we then do as Bertrand Russell declared: “it remains only [for man] to cherish the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day.”

Perhaps you noticed – all of that, even quote from the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, gives no place to God in scheme of things. If all you consider, for this life, is man – his desires, predicaments, solutions, ambitions – everything is futile and empty, only for the little moments of his little day.

Our text makes it plain – Bertrand Russell was wrong: more to all that exists than “omnipotent matter roll[ing] on its relentless way”. There is whole other dimension to life and existence, one that is absolutely real although unseen with physical eyes. It is there, with the God who inhabits eternity, that we discover truth, real truth that can be known and understood. That truth assures us of two things: there is meaning to this life and hope for the next life. Also assures us: genuine lasting meaning and hope come to us only on God’s terms.

The inspired author’s point in these 3 verses: Encourage one another. Don’t give up hope!! Our cause for hope inescapably founded in what we commemorate every “first day of the week”, more intentionally on this first day, Easter. It is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that guarantees our hope, that gives substance to our encouragement of one another. Encouraging one another not an after-thought; was front and center for angelic messenger at empty tomb. Two Mary’s not allowed luxury of keeping good news to themselves: “But go, tell his disciples, especially Peter”. (Mark 16:7)

Let us hold fast, let us take heart, let us come boldly, let us encourage one another!

A. Let us Hold Fast v.14

our belief in Christ – “​Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Heb. 3:1)

do you have a true confession? – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)

details of confession of utmost significance: Jesus is Lord (not Savior), Jesus is King, Jesus is in charge and calling all shots in your life

is doing so presently, 2000 years down the road, because he is alive, raised from the dead, ruling his kingdom and his subjects

if that is your confession and your belief, you can be assured that Jesus will save you from your sins

ok, so that is true, now what? Hang on! Hold fast to Jesus. When life is dark, hold fast to Jesus. Confusing. Discouraging. Impossibly hard. Painful. Lonely.

remember this: it doesn’t depend on you and strength of your grip! “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)

notice also: you are not in Jesus’ hand, we are in his hand – “neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

one of our tasks while there in Jesus’ hand – encourage our brothers and sisters to keep hanging on…to Jesus

if he has the words of life, if he is our life, we must cling to him and do our best to help others to cling to Jesus

B. Let us take heart v.15

“One day in October 2012, a New Yorker named Jeff Ragsdale, recently dumped and down on his luck, taped a flyer around Manhattan. It read, “If anyone wants to talk about anything, call me.” He included his cell-phone number. Within a day, he had received about a hundred calls and text messages. When people started posting pictures of the flyer on Reddit.com, the social-news Web site, that number jumped to seven hundred calls and a thousand text messages daily.” no training, but he understands

Jeff probably a nice enough guy, maybe even useful to talk with; but, in ultimate sense, Jeff is powerless to help with our greatest need

we have an understanding Christ

is important to know: we are not clinging to a rope, a rock, a statue, a dream or an ideal; are clinging to a real live flesh and bone Lord Jesus who has gone before us, now present with his Father in his office as High Priest

let’s put beginning of verse 15 in positive – “we have a High Priest who can sympathize” (don’t stop there) “with our weaknesses”

super-important qualifier there – point not that Jesus can sympathize with our circumstances, he sympathizes with our weaknesses, our infirmity, our lack of strength and ability

to live pleasing to God in fallen, sin-corrupted world required all strength of the God-Man; and then even beyond, in Garden Jesus needed strengthening to carry through – perfect humanity not sufficient by itself for that trial

no matter what happens, can’t honestly say to Jesus “you just don’t understand” – he came from highest heaven, glory of God’s immediate presence, descended all the way to death and the grave, experiencing all trials of humanity along the way, from human perspective; now, that very God-Man, “Jesus the Son of God” has returned, ascended to the presence of His Father and our Father once again

if you come from another religious tradition, might wonder why we in our Baptist church don’t have priests – ah, but we do, we have a Priest who is not in place that represents presence of God, he is in very presence of God

has gone there to make it ready for us, he made promise about that, too! – John 14:3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

what does that mean in practical terms? “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” Jerry Bridges

C. Let us Come Boldly v.16

totally opposite response to Adam and Eve – “the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God” (Gen. 3:8)

desperately needed God’s help, in absolutely hopeless condition without God’s intervention; tried to fix in their own way

when God showed up, against their wishes, still didn’t seek his help, blamed others for what went wrong

was the same in Moses’ day – people told Moses they wanted God to keep his distance (Ex. 20:19); were afraid to get too close to Moses after he had been in God’s presence (Ex. 34:30)

is to be something different for the Christian – therefore, let us come boldly, with confidence, into God’s very presence

On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’ (Matt. 7:22-23)

we did this, we did that, yes was in your name, we didn’t do that, we’re not like them; coming boldly, perhaps arrogantly on their own merits, even though they acted in Jesus’ name, still trusting in their own performance to make the grade

the “therefore” makes the point: on basis of what just came before approach the throne of grace confidently

on the merits of Christ

“since we have a great High Priest” – he is the privileged one who provides access to God – no priest, no admittance, and you don’t get to bring your own priest

must avail ourselves of the High Priest who is already in God’s presence, the Lord Jesus, and make our requests in his name

repeatedly in John 14-16 Jesus exhorts his disciples – “ask in my name”; God is our Father but only because redemption purchased by Jesus has been applied to us, righteousness of Jesus has been credited to us

have you “received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”? Does “the Spirit himself bears witness to [y]our spirit that [you] are God’s child.”?

then approach the throne of grace with confidence expecting your sympathetic High Priest to supply precise and abundant resources to meet your need

come confident that you will find mercy – doesn’t matter what you bring for need: no sin too great or shameful for God to show mercy; no need too great but what God’s grace is greater

do not think “I can handle this ok”; do not think “I ought to be able to handle this ok” – come to the throne of grace

talk to yourself, encourage one another with words of Wesley’s hymn, “Arise, my soul, arise”

D. Let us encourage one another

at very beginning, even before sin, God looked at Adam and stated his conclusion: “​Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”” (Gen. 2:18)

by God’s design, we need one another; because of difficulties associated with living in fallen sinful world, we need encouragement from one another – that also is by God’s design

God thought it important to become one of us; Christ thought it important to give himself for the church; we must think it important to care for one another

God didn’t leave it up to us to figure out solution to our problem, we can’t leave it up to the other guy (our brother) either

these three verses full of plural references – we / us – we are in this together, even when looks like you might be alone

Elijah, a prophet of God no less, fresh from God’s amazing victory over false prophets, declared to God: “I alone am left and now they want to take my life.”

God’s response to him: “I still have left in Israel seven thousand followers who have not bowed their knees to Baal”

can’t say that for those with different confession, with different High Priest, only those who recognize Jesus as their High Priest

can assure you of this: we live in throw-away society, that includes relationships too! BUT, listen to words of Jesus:

John 6:37, 40“whoever comes to me I will never cast out. …For this is the will of my Father – that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.”

you have to come empty-handed, depending solely on his grace and mercy; same is true of those who come to throne of grace – God doesn’t make deals

For all of this to make sense, to have meaning, to be an encouragement and provide hope, one thing must be true: must be a risen Savior who has conquered sin, Satan and death who now stands by his Father in heaven. There he has one hand on his Father, stretches out his other hand toward those who come to him by faith. Come to him now, while it is still Today – there you will find saving grace; you will find sanctifying grace, the perfect and all-sufficient grace to help in time of need.

Comfort One Another

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

John 2:12-22; Mark 16:1-8; 1 Cor. 15:12-22; 1 Thess. 4:13-18

Have a great luxury (something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort) – vast majority of the time, are insulated from death. Even from a lot of the dying process. Not in our faces, integral part of everyday life like for much of world’s population. See it on the news, movies, but rarely if ever for real in our personal space. Is rare indeed that we would take active role that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” did, intending hands-on preparations of Jesus’ corpse for permanent burial.

Has, I believe, contributed to unhealthy attitude toward death: get to deny it, pretend like it didn’t happen. I know that doesn’t apply to everyone; but is true for increasing numbers of people every day. So how is this text still relevant? If more people are refusing to grieve, how does this text speak to them? If they are denying sorrow, what meaning is there in Paul’s words?

Truth is, this text doesn’t speak to them. In fact, it isn’t written for them – the ones who refuse to acknowledge death and loss. Not written to those who are determined to hold on to bones of the past, refusing to give up their grief / grudge. Is written to those who grieve, whom Paul could rightly consider brothers and sisters. His words are intended to inject hope into sorrow and prevent despair regarding those who “sleep in Jesus”.

A. remember and believe (John 2:22)

Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”

remember the Scripture

genuine hope for the future that provides comfort (gives moral, emotional, spiritual strength) must be sourced in Scripture

all kinds of people with all kinds of opinions (written, expressed verbally) that are just that, opinions, no basis in God’s reality

Bible makes it explicit: there’s this life, the next life; your standing before God in this life determines your destination in next

Bible also makes it plain what we can expect – not as comprehensive as we’d like :-), but everything God figures we need

remember his words

side note: promise of resurrection not an after-thought; came right up front in Jesus’ ministry, even before he identified all the 12

dot-to-dot, a fun little activity for children – for developing motor skills, counting ability, etc; problem with life is all dots aren’t necessarily numbered… often takes passage of time, successive events to supply numbers

we don’t get to see whole picture all at once, usually don’t recognize all details at time things happen – often more focused on finding the next number than figuring out what we’re drawing

after he had risen they remembered – probably John implying “oh, duh, this is what Jesus meant; now we get it”

Dad, in hospital, struggled with communication, “want to go home”… not across bridge to SoPo – didn’t get it then, needed more maturity, life experience, just like disciples

those who fail to remember, refuse to face truth cheat themselves of God-given opportunity to learn and grow and be comforted

have confidence in God’s word

confidence should not come from historical accuracy, beauty of language, cohesiveness of story told, number of translations or copies printed, practical benefits of book we call the Bible

should have confidence in Bible because we have confidence in its author – his knowledge, power and goodness

didn’t leave anything out, has the power to make it happen, has our best interests at heart

all those other things help to confirm our confidence in Bible is not misplaced – MAPS, for example

must translate into more than intellectual confidence – have confidence in your doctor, writes out a scrip, thank him, stick on the fridge? no, follow directions; same should be true for God and his Word

B. you will see (Mark 16:7)

“But go, tell His disciples; and Peter; that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

required putting faith into action: go

seeing empty tomb, folded graveclothes a start, but could only provide limited comfort; hearing declaration of angel stationed in the tomb reinforced their hope, but…

wasn’t the angel they were looking for – “you seek Jesus of Nazareth”; at that point, nothing short of real living Jesus would satisfy

apparent from Mary Magdalene’s exchange with one she thought was the gardener – he was only important as source of information and help, she wanted Jesus

fully grasping the reality meant they had to go from the place of death to place of the living – “why do you seek the living among the dead, he is not here, for he is risen as he said”

required verbal witness to faith: tell his disciples

angel had said “don’t be alarmed” but his words had little effect – they kept a grip on it as long as angel could see them, then took off at top speed: trembling, amazed, afraid

totally different response from shepherds at beginning of Jesus’ earthly life – they told everyone they could what had happened

two Mary’s didn’t let off the throttle until they were back with Jesus’ disciples – friendly faces, shared perspective

Matthew adds important detail: left “the tomb with fear… and great joy” – same emotions present for us today, tug of war between

joy won out – they did indeed tell his disciples, all the others present with them – the telling helps to reinforce the reality

only then will you see

had the ladies and disciples set up vigil inside the tomb, candles and all the rest, would not have experienced the risen Lord

Jesus was done with death, had reached lowest depths of his humiliation, already begun his triumphal march back to his Father

if we expect to see him, must believe the words Jesus said, put that belief/faith into action, confess it to others, and follow Jesus among the living

C. in fact, Christ has been raised (1 Cor. 15:20)

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

hope is for more than this life

previous verse (19) “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

Paul’s argument goes on – our hope not only in this life, it extends into the next life because our trailblazer is already there

don’t lose sight of first point – dependence on Scripture: only way we know about any of this is the Bible, only way we can understand significance of any of it is Bible illuminated by Holy Spirit

emphasis this morning: Jesus’ resurrection; in the big picture, that event nearer the end than the beginning

because we know the beginning of the story from the Bible, we understand why we need hope

also understand that really important things not what is limited to this life, earthly existence

talking with woman: father just died (6 wks from cancer diagnosis); he was Christian, so is she; her confession – “I’ve learned that most of what I’ve pursued in life is stupid; it is relationships that are important.”

her point: the stuff of this life stays in this life; relationships, people are part of next life as well as this one

guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection

what keeps us who hope in Christ from being miserable deluded idiots is the resurrection of Lord Jesus

think of it this way: if Son of God could not break bonds of death, what hope can we possibly have? what better hero is there?

since “Jesus died and rose again”, verified by numerous witnesses over several weeks who were still alive when Paul wrote, we can have hope that death not the end of existence

good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this: there is a life after this one, unspeakably and incomparably better than this one… for those who trust in Christ alone for their salvation

he is the prototype / firstfruits

“That which is apart and portion of the whole which is to follow, and which is the earnest or pledge of that; as the “first” sheaf of ripe grain was not only the first in order of time, but was the earnest or pledge of the entire harvest which was soon to succeed.” Barnes

Jesus the pledge of the entire harvest of redeemed believers – all those who will be raised to new life on that great day

Paul makes clear who this applies to: “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (22)

begs the question: are you in Adam or in Christ? no middle ground here, is either one or the other, is matter of eternal life and death

trusting in your own merits to satisfy God’s scales of justice? or… trusting in Christ’s merits, one with him by faith, believing God will accept Jesus’ payment for your sin in your place

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)

D. we will always be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17)

family and friends are great, but…to be with Christ is far better

what formed basis for Paul comfort of Thessalonian believers: confidence that “thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

who is “we”? – those who “believe that Jesus died and rose again”, “those who sleep in Jesus”, those who when they died believed in the death / resurrection of Jesus

we will be with one another; but more important, we with one another will be with the Lord, the one whom God raised from the dead

timing doesn’t matter – his ascension guarantees his return guarantees our future with him, no matter when he comes

declaration of God’s messengers (Acts 1:11) connected ascension and return – “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way”

not an event we will miss or miss out on: we will either come with him or meet him, whichever way timing works out

Even Jesus could not endure agony in the Garden without help – “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” (Luke 22:43) Father did not remove Son from suffering, did not allow him to bypass or take shortcuts through it. At one point, even felt to Jesus like God had abandoned him to his suffering, but we know rest of the story!

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) God not only delivered him up to suffer for us all, God raised him up to be the firstfruits of us all. And he told us about it in his word to comfort us, and as we find comfort and strength in those truths, to comfort one another.

“thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Son of God, Exalted Lord

Matthew 26:57-68

“Why study the Passion stories? Has not the resurrection turned them into a bad episode to forget? However, the Gospel writers do not relegate these facts into second place, because the resurrection actually drives us to re-evaluate the Lord’s suffering.” College Press

Particularly this morning, the day we focus especially on our risen Lord, why go back? Why replay this disturbing courtroom scene when we already know how it turned out? The answer is found in Jesus’ focus. Jesus was not ignoring the immediate, what he must endure in the next few hours. Nor was he so consumed with those details that he lost sight of what was beyond the injustice and indignity of the cross, the humiliation of death.

Jesus understood his pathway to exaltation lay through humiliation. Just as certainly as God is God, Son of God’s storyline would not end with humiliation. Humiliation began the moment God stooped to take on humanity in the form of a servant. Continued throughout his life of suffering – experiencing the assaults of Satan, unbelief of his own people, persecution of his enemies. Extended all the way to rejection by those who needed him most, a death reserved for the lowest criminals, and burial in a cold tomb.

The wonder of it all is “this Jesus, [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, …crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”Acts 2:23-24ESV Thus began his exaltation – resurrection, ascension to heaven, inauguration as the ruling King. It will reach its fullness when Christ returns to judge the world and perfect the salvation of his people.

This, the joy set before Jesus that he might endure the cross, what Jesus had in view when under oath responded to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. How much did they understand about what they were doing? Did they know they were acting both as agents of Satan and according to the plan of God? If so, more shame to them for it. Jesus recognized their agenda, their determination to find him guilty of a capital crime. He called them on their arrogance and unbelief – v.64 ==>

Jesus knew as soon as he opened his mouth in agreement with Caiaphas question, his sentence was a done deal. Jesus could simply have answered “Yes” to the demand: “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Instead, he said much more:

“nevertheless” (in spite of your unbelief) “you will see”: you cannot see truth now because of unbelief. You reject truth when it is in your face. The day will come when you will see and will acknowledge and be without excuse because you have had clear warning. But Jesus spoke to deaf ears – ears stopped up with unbelief, prejudice and self-righteousness. May our Good God deliver us from such, enable us to see clearly our Exalted Lord in his glory.

A. who will it be v.63b-64a, 65

the Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Man

the anointed One who is at the same time Son of God and Son of Man – the one whom God promised to send

the one who was a fit substitute, able to take God’s just punishment for sin and reconcile sinners to a holy God

see also Acts 1:11a – 40 days after his resurrection, ascending to his Father, angels made it explicit: “This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”

the same Jesus but…with significant difference – fully invested with power and authority, having stripped off robes of earthly existence and put on garments fit for a reigning king

John saw him: Rev. 1:13-16 “in the midst of the lampstands was one like the son of man. He was dressed in a robe extending down to his feet and he wore a wide golden belt around his chest. His head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame.His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword extended out of his mouth. His face shone like the sun shining at full strength.”

Duchess of Cambridge, England’s next queen in training, watched and studied incessantly; she wears something “off the rack”, sells out in matter of hours

how about you? do you want a robe like Jesus has? Rev. 7:9 “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands”

account goes on: Rev. 7:14 “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

B. when will it be v.64b

hereafter – from now on – Jesus told his accusers when to expect this that he promised to begin

many have burning desire to know “when is Jesus going to assert himself? why hasn’t he come back yet? we must be getting real near the end, any time now….”

we certainly should live so we would have no regrets if Lord Jesus did return tomorrow, or later today

but…it’s big mistake to think all good stuff Jesus will do is in the future; we get too focused on that, miss what he’s doing now!

seems some folks think Jesus did his thing here on earth, went back to heaven, just hanging out, chillin’ until the second coming — wrong, not how Jesus told it

from depths of death and the grave, Jesus began a triumphant victorious coronation march to his Father’s right hand

he has been invested with all authority in heaven and on earth – told his disciples that before he left

he ascended to his Father, was welcomed and has received next installment in glory promised to him

final installment will come at “the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power.”

Lord Jesus rule began from the time of his ascension – aren’t waiting for it to begin at some future time, he is actively ruling over his kingdom now

first martyr Stephen – saw “the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

from that position of honor “he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” – right now he is sovereignly directing history toward the conclusion God has ordained for it

C. what will it be v.64c

Jesus described to Caiaphas what to expect – made reference to portion of Daniel’s vision everyone agreed was about the Messiah; Jesus quoted one line, Caiaphas filled in the rest from

Dan. 7:13-14“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”

sitting at the right hand

position of honor, dignity and majesty – don’t judge by appearances; there before Sanhedrin, Jesus had no stately form or majesty; seemed to be just another insignificant political zealot

following his ascension, a different story; only because our physical eyes cannot penetrate spiritual dimension that we don’t see him; on authority of God’s word, though, should be 100% confident our risen Savior is indeed our exalted Lord

place of authority – role reversal: judge will be judged — day will come, guaranteed by his resurrection, when he will judge the world in righteousness

on that day: those who have died in their sins, persisted in their rebellion and unbelief will receive their just condemnation, sentence will be carried out

those who have devoted their allegiance to Lord Jesus will be held up as trophies of God’s amazing grace

Lord Jesus’ prayer in the Garden will be answered: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:24

coming on the clouds

will be culmination of history, God’s plan of redemption, when Son of God enters time and space and earth again to bring this age to an end, make all things new, joy in his redeemed people and creation for all eternity

Think back to time when you purposed to do something really nice for another person, something they couldn’t do for themselves, doing it because you loved them – the anticipation of planning, the satisfaction of preparing, the joy of experiencing their delight. Now multiply all of that by one less than infinity – that’s Jesus, accomplishing in time and space the eternal plan of his Father.

A broken world and broken people made right, no more cause for sorrow. Jesus was looking at end result, glorious future day when he could say “I did it”. He could take full satisfaction in it because he was that sacrificial lamb who took away the sin of the world. Jesus began his march of triumph, of victory when he walked out of those grave clothes and the tomb 2000 years ago. The last steps of that march will come when Jesus returns to this world and has final victory over our last enemy, death. Everything will be made new and right and maintained that way, forever.

D. how can it beJohn 10:17-18

from perspective of “the night in which he was betrayed”, when Jesus was seemingly at the mercy of his tormentors, how would that sort of victory march be possible?

he will take up what he laid down – Jesus laid down his own life, no one took it from him, he gave his life up of his own free will, and he took it back up again on the third day – displaying that death had no power to hold him

he could do that because of who he was – the Son of God, with authority and a commission given to him by his Father; anyone less than the God-Man would still be in that borrowed grave outside Jerusalem

“Either He was all that He laid claim to be, or Caiaphas was right when He charged Him with blasphemy. We have no middle course today any more than they had; He is a liar, or incarnate Truth; an impostor, or God the Son, raised to the place of eternal Empire.” G Campbell Morgan

“He was either deserving of condemnation or He is entitled to the highest loyalty and allegiance that human hearts can give Him.” — Lyman Abbott, D.D.

So, when he comes in his glory to bring this age to an end, what will your situation be? Will you be coming with him? or will you stand condemned by him? Will you be like the Roman centurion at the foot of Jesus’ cross: “Truly this was the Son of God”? or like Caiaphas: “He has spoken blasphemy; he is deserving of death.”

For us who love and obey our exalted Lord, our task: hold up the risen, living, majestic Son of God before men and women, boys and girls so they may see his beauty and be drawn to him. We’re not to hold up a good example, a plan of salvation, a road to follow; we are to hold up Christ and nothing less.

Son of God, Risen Savior

Romans 1:1-4

Gospel today as promoted by some fellows with big audiences has more varieties than colors in Joseph’s coat. Nearly all of them are sugar-coated poison.

“God wants you to be a winner, not a whiner.” Osteen

“…belief (in hell as conscious, eternal torment) is …misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.” Rob Bell, Love Wins

It’s about living the life you want because a great percentage of the population is living a life that [someone else] wanted…Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.” Oprah Winfrey

If anyone understood and clearly articulated the Gospel, was apostle Paul. Identified as the author of our text, Paul writing by inspiration of Holy Spirit is a trustworthy source of teaching on the subject. Well-known NT theologian wrote: “The one all-important difference between Saul the Pharisee and the Apostle Paul was his evaluation of the person of Jesus.” George Eldon Ladd I believe Ladd has identified an effect and not the cause of difference. Let me correct that statement this way: “The one all-important difference between Saul the Pharisee and the Apostle Paul was his [transformation by the Gospel] of Jesus.”

3x in book of Acts alone have account of Paul’s conversion as he was confronted with the risen Christ on road to Damascus. Obviously a significant event in his life; understood from first-hand experience what it meant to be changed by the power of God. True, his “evaluation of the person of Jesus” changed as result of his face-to-face encounter with Lord Jesus. But what made Paul different from Saul started in the very depths of his being as he was transformed by the God of the Gospel.

Paul identifies 3 essential things here in our text about the Gospel – God promised it in Scripture; it concerns his Son; focuses on Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection.

a. promised in Scripture – not a new thing

far more than “what” is promised; most important – “who” is promised

very first hint and promise of the Gospel, the good news for mankind bound in slavery to sin identified a person – seed of the Woman

not anything new – Gospel didn’t start with Paul, not even with pronouncement in the Garden; Gospel is older than Creation – determined by God: Father, Son and Spirit before was ever anything other than God

good news promised by God, one who would conquer evil; everything necessary to make it good news to God’s people included in the promise

A. descended from David – one of us

really human – Son of Man

didn’t simply have appearance of man; his body not an illusion, a hologram, something assumed so he wouldn’t stick out in a crowd

use word incarnation, it’s good word and important one; means “the act of taking, or being manifested in, a human body and nature.”

Jesus, son of David, as blind men identified him (Matt. 9:27; 20:30) on at least two occasions, really was David’s descendant with real human body, real human nature

after resurrection Jesus himself went to great lengths to demonstrate reality of his humanity:

John 20:27 “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.”

John 21:9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.

why important? means we don’t have to try become something we aren’t for Gospel to “work”

Son of God became one of us that he might do for us in our nature, human nature, what we cannot do for ourselves

justice requires life for life – God’s condition declared on Mount Sinai (Ex. 21:23), satisfied on Mount Calvary

whatever he has accomplished or will accomplish on our behalf applies to us in present state/condition

our risen Savior is mediator, high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses since he was tested in every way as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15)

means his work of redemption is effectual for us in our condition as fallen sinners “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12)

B. declared to be the Son of God – at the same time, God

really God – NT authors had no problem accepting / declaring dual nature of Christ

don’t ask for explanation of how “one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures”

great minds of the church don’t try to explain, most often only say what it does not mean

bottom line: this son of David according to the flesh at the same time the son of God with power – a real person with a real mission

means he had/has/will have all resources necessary to achieve whatever is required for his mission

can debate endlessly about how much a sinless man might accomplish; one thing true, no man can bring himself back to life

total victory over all mankind’s enemies requires victory over death – only possible by power of God

Gospel only good news if it offers genuine hope – that Son of God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves and by power of God is determined to make it reality in those who trust him

C. by his resurrection – our Savior

don’t misunderstand what Paul is saying – was not the Son of God because God or anyone else declared him so

just like God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, God the Son has existed eternally – “we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity” Athanasian Creed

Paul is saying: by his resurrection he was declared to be “the Son of God with power”; he’s been Son of God all along, now is obvious to all he is Son of God with power

born in weakness according to the flesh, raised in power; no wonder he could say “All authority has been given to me. Go, therefore…” (Matt. 28:18-19)

even though final victory has not been declared, it’s a given: 1 Cor. 15:25-26 “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be eliminated is death.”

Son of God, Lord Jesus has been victorious over death; when he returns in glory he will finally eliminate it

it is resurrection, that we worship a risen Savior, that is God’s guarantee that Lord Jesus will return – Acts 17:31“he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

if he has power to bring himself back to life, certainly has power to bring others to life

Jesus himself said: John 10:17-18“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

raising those dead in trespasses and sins to newness of life – far more than just picking us up, dusting us off, pointing us in right direction, off you go

are picked up out of our coffins, given new life, led off in the right direction

“our justification, which was begun in his death, was perfected in his resurrection. …By his death [Christ] paid our debt, in his resurrection he received our acquittance, Isa 53:8; when he was discharged, we in him, and together with him, received our discharge from the guilt and punishment of all our sins.” Poole

isn’t that good news?? if we are in Christ, have “received our discharge from the guilt and punishment of all our sins.”

D. Jesus Christ our Lord – and our Lord

phrase either near beginning of v.3 or at end v.4 depending on version of the Bible

gospel is good news of a whole Christ, must be accepted that way

Jesus (he shall save his people from their sins) Christ (God’s anointed) our Lord

not a buffet – pick and choose what, how much we want, we think meets our needs; it’s all or nothing, on Jesus’ terms

if you want the blessings that accompany salvation, you must be a follower of Christ, one with him

Paul preaching, 1st missionary journey: Acts 13:32-34And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our forefathers.God has fulfilled this to us their children by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm: You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.Since He raised Him from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, I will grant you the faithful covenant blessings made to David.”

Jesus gave invitation during earthly ministry. As risen Savior, gives same invitation, makes same offer regarding those blessings:

Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Invitation is not “come to church”; not “buy my book and read it”; not “come hear story and respond”; not even “come let me show you how to help yourself”. Invitation is “come to Jesus”; Gospel is that God loved sinners and gave himself, his life, for their redemption. Truth of Gospel is found in pages of Scripture; experience of Gospel is found in saving relationship with a person, Jesus Christ “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures.” To God be the glory, great things he has done!