Tag: Gospel

According to the Scriptures

1 Corinthians 15:4c

Particular emphasis this Easter season – What Is the Gospel? Have unpacked statements one by one from v.3 & 4 of our text. Statements made here by divinely inspired writer proclaimed “as of first importance”. This is the Gospel, the good news, that had been preached, received, formed immovable foundation on which their life was based. Not only threescore and ten of this life, next life also.

Now come to final statement we will consider – repeated twice for emphasis – “according to the scriptures”. What we celebrate here this morning centers on a person and his work that is rooted in history. Jesus a real person with real parents, a real career and ministry, a real life/death/resurrection during a real period of human history. Enough people convinced of existence of Jesus Christ that unquestioningly accept dating system determined by his advent. Both person of Jesus and significance of his life/death/resurrection have place in human history from very beginning – God’s word the Bible makes that abundantly clear.

Heard on the radio just last week:

“The living word, the Lord Jesus, and God’s written word, the Bible, stand or fall together. Anything that diminishes or discredits one attacks the other. To diminish or discredit the work of the Lord Jesus is an attack on God’s word. To diminish or discredit what God’s word has to say is an attack on the Lord Jesus.” WRJ

That is true in part because of what our text declares – certain historical events took place according to what God’s word said would occur. And… if God’s word assigns particular significance to those events, they occurred for that purpose. Since those events took place publicly on the world stage, means word of God applies to what we think of as real life. Cannot be consigned to some sort of parallel universe, existing only in churches on Sunday morning, or in minds of weird people they call Christians. The Bible is God’s word for all people in all time and in all places.

Paul used phrase “according to the Scriptures”, are other phrases throughout NT which carry same meaning. “this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel” – Acts 2:16; “it is written”; “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet” common in Matthew’s Gospel. Each of dozens of occurrences reinforces confidence in Scriptures; demonstrates God’s character repeatedly in Scriptures; shows centrality of Christ in all of God’s Word. Good news that brings hope to lost sinners centered in Christ; good news that brings comfort to redeemed sinners centered in Christ. Just as Christ is central in God’s word the Bible, he must likewise be central in our thoughts and lives.

A. to give confidence in God’s Word

perhaps you wonder: can I trust the Bible? have you read it from start to finish? if you question, I challenge: ask God show you truth, and read – here’s what you will find:

details

Bible not a technician’s manual, not filled with generalities either – includes sufficient detail to be credible witness

Herod asked Bible experts where Messiah would be born; answer… not “in Middle East”, was “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet”

Paul not content to simply say “Jesus came to be our savior” – he died, he was buried, he rose again, he was seen

accuracy

didn’t stop with “rose again”… “rose again the third day”… but wait, there’s more – “He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”

not only accurate about facts, is accurate in how it presents truth: is noun singular or plural, verb past tense or present tense (Gal. 3:16 Seed[s]; Matt. 22:32 I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob)

relevance

Lord Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” – since we’re still here, God’s word still has relevance and meaning and application

in need of life? “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31

lack confidence whether you have eternal life? “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” 1 John 5:13

can count on God’s word to get the details right, to be accurate and relevant… for you and me – when Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory” it is right; when says “there is none righteous, no, not one”, Christ is “the way truth and life, no one comes to Father but by him” it is accurate; if it is right, if it is accurate, if it supplies answer to man’s need, is certainly relevant

B. to demonstrate character of God in his Word

wise

look at first statement again: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”

“The wisdom of God in redemption is visible in manifesting two contrary affections at the same time, and in one act: the greatest hatred of sin, and the greatest love to the sinner. In this way he punishes the sin without ruining the sinner, and repairs the ruins of the sinner without indulging the sin. Here is eternal love and eternal hatred; a condemning the sin to what it merited, and an advancing the sinner to what he could not expect.” Stephen Charnock, Existence and Attributes of God

faithful

over and over God promised what he would do – sometimes took place in short time, others required hundreds or thousands of years for God to fulfill

consider two, made to first parents Adam and Eve: when you eat from the tree you will surely die, fulfilled in matter of days

“he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” – thousands of years, yet was accomplished at Calvary – God faithfully keeping his promises to his people

powerful

God’s promises not empty – every time “as it is written” demonstration of God’s power to accomplish his purposes without fail

loving

greatest standard of love: God sent Son to be atoning sacrifice – Christ died for our sins; all that God promised and accomplished in sending Jesus the demonstration of God’s love for his people

C. to show centrality of Christ in God’s Word – see Luke 24:27

All things were created through Him and for Him” “All things hold together in him” Father’s intention is “that in all things He may have the preeminence” Col. 1:13-18

is it any wonder, afternoon of first Resurrection Day, “Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! …And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

by name (Seed, Prophet)

Seed of the woman, Seed of Abraham, Prophet from among your brethren, the Lord’s Servant, Messiah, Immanuel God with us, King of kings and Lord of lords

description (son, shepherd)

serpent on pole in wilderness; son of a virgin; one who would sit on throne of David forever; sufferer of Psalm 22, shepherd of following

type (sacrifice, tabernacle/temple furnishings)

Passover lamb; light of the world, bread of life, veil through which access to Most Holy Place; deliverance from Egypt

to remove direct references and allusions to Christ from Bible would turn it into pile of shredded paper

D. how is this good news? – see Acts 17:22-23, 30-31

started series on Thursday with “Christianity stands or falls on what is contained in these two verses. And this is what separates Christianity from every other religion or worldview.”

can also state: if you can believe Bible on this, can believe the Bible on anything… especially concerning significance of historical claims made here

if can believe Jesus died, was buried, and rose again third day… can believe what Bible teaches about its significance – if are convinced Lord Jesus died for your sins and God raised him on third day, you will be saved

if this piece of “story of hope” genuine, whole story must be true – Bible a package deal… if any to be believed, all must be believed

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: …Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

no other god in human history has done all necessary to redeem people – what is his story?

God, in beginning, created universe and all that is in it in six days, all very good, and on seventh day he rested from his work of creation

Man was created, male and female, in image of God with knowledge, righteousness and true holiness, with law of God written on their hearts and desire and ability to obey

Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s direct command by eating of the fruit he had forbidden

Death immediately followed disobedience, just as God had promised and corruption of sin was passed along to every one of Adam and Eve’s natural descendants

Christ, the one promised by God throughout OT, entered time and space, born of a virgin, and lived in perfect obedience to his heavenly Father, being without sin and having committed no sin

Cross was his destiny, to be crucified there, giving up his own life as a perfect sacrifice and substitute for those he came to save

Faith through which we are saved by God’s unmerited favor alone rests on finished work of Christ; saving faith accompanied by repentance from sin is the free gift of God, not anything earned or achieved

Life that never ends is promised by God to the one who has saving faith; true believer demonstrates saving faith by obedience to Christ’s commands

That is God’s story, story of hope as presented to us in God’s word the Bible. Is story lost sinners need to hear and by God’s grace respond to in faith. Have you heard his story and turned from sin to follow Christ in faith? The living resurrected Lord Jesus calls us to deny self, take up cross, follow him… and as we go, make disciples. The nations start with family, neighbor, co-worker, beyond as God gives opportunity. We know his story, we must tell his story to all who will listen.

 

He Rose (Was Raised) Again the Third Day

1 Corinthians 15:4b

Psalm 16:1-11; Hosea 6:1-3; John 2:13-22

It is early in the morning, right about official sunrise. Many struggle with thinking too hard at this time of day, especially before coffee! Know from Mark 16:1when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices”. Saturday ended at sunset; the next day (first day of the week) began and ladies made their purchase. Luke 24:1 tells us “very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.” Do you think maybe they stayed up all night preparing the spices and fragrant oils for anointing Jesus’ body?

If they did, I’m certain their conversation and thoughts did not include possibility of finding the tomb empty. Was probably darkest night of their lives – shock of Jesus’ death has worn off, reality beginning to take root, depth of sorrow growing moment by moment. Becoming more real as they think about what their hands are busy with doing – cementing the reality of death in their minds as they carry out final arrangements of a proper burial. As practical-minded as they were, grieving and preparing pushed one detail from their minds until they reached the cemetery: how would they get into the tomb? Who would move the stone for them?

Did it perhaps take a few steps for it to register as they looked up, saw entrance to tomb open, stone off to the side. Totally unprepared for that, not knowing what to expect next, went inside… still probably expecting to find Jesus’ body and carry out task of anointing. Totally confused, unable to process what they are experiencing, now confronted with a question: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” They had “observed the tomb and how His body was laid”, had they gone to wrong tomb? Had Jesus been buried by mistake in wrong tomb, then moved to right one? What did he mean by that – “the living among the dead”?

Gently but firmly instructed, ​”He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you?” And they began to grasp what Jesus meant when he said, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” I’m sure they didn’t count on fingers – day one, day two, day three – much more preoccupied with where Jesus was. Yet that phrase – the third day – found 12x in NT alone referring to Lord Jesus.

A. why the third day – to change frame of reference

why not next day? to prove he was really dead?

possible, but was already clear indication of that before end of first day: his cries from the cross (“it is finished”, “into your hands”), pierced side, centurion’s witness, labors of Joseph and Nicodemus

centurion a professional, was not his first execution, knew what the signs were; Joseph and Nicodemus not strangers to death, preparation of a body, like we are – family and friends did work of modern morticians

third day wasn’t necessary to prove reality of Jesus’ death but certainly confirms it

why not seven or twelve or forty? strengthen faith?

7, 12, 40 numbers all have biblical significance; could plausibly defined elapsed time between Jesus’ death and resurrection

might have served that purpose but wise God has chosen other means to strengthen our faith; besides, takes same power to achieve after three as after more days

why precisely third day? fulfill prophecy?

it certainly did that; abundant repetition of how served that purpose, and was absolutely necessary to do so – more on that during morning worship

but… still doesn’t answer “why?” Bible doesn’t explicitly inform us but are some things we can draw together to help, and we need to start with Friday

reason why Jesus died on Friday – the “real” Passover Lamb of God

remember ritual of Passover, especially the first one: Ex. 12:21-23Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.”

John saw Jesus, said “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 There is the real lamb, the true and final Passover who would do what all previous Passover lambs had symbolized

that significance not lost on apostle Paul: “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Cor. 5:7

reason why Jesus could not rise on Saturday – would indicate nothing had changed

Passover inseparably connected with Sabbath observance – commentary on fourth commandment Deut. 5:15And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”

for Jesus to rise on Sabbath would indicate his people needed to keep remembering their deliverance from temporal slavery and that nothing had exceeded that in importance

Sabbath worship also linked to creation: Ex. 20:11For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

for Jesus to rise on Sabbath would indicate his people needed to keep remembering initial creation and Fall, and that nothing had exceeded that in importance

reason why Christian church began meeting Sunday (third day)

historical deliverance under Moses’ leadership from slavery in Egypt was significant – obviously for what it meant to enslaved people, more significant as a type of what God intended to do through his Son Jesus Christ

is our redemptive deliverance from slavery in sin of most importance –Rom. 6:6“our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

initial week of creation is significant – is only adequate explanation for what exists now; but if first creation is all that is in view, what hope do we have?

old creation is in ruins, our only hope is in new creation 2 Cor. 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

meeting for worship on Sunday commemorates the accomplishment of all necessary for those in Christ to be new creations set free from slavery to sin

is resurrection of Lord Jesus that displays the Father’s stamp of approval, his acceptance of what Jesus accomplished in our place – see Rom. 4:25

must be looking forward more than backward

yes, history is important; God does not expect us to live in the past – expects we will live in present, pressing on into future

day on which we worship is important move toward future day when we will be entirely new and entirely free

B. which is it – “rose” or “was raised”

translated both ways here, must look elsewhere to see if there is an answer

remember what Jesus said

John 2:19Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

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.”

and testimony of early church

Acts 2:23-24“Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”

5 additional times in Acts alone, “God raised“, further reinforcement throughout rest of NT

and the answer is… Yes!

no contradiction there – God the Father raised Jesus from the dead: Jesus who is one with the Father raised himself

like other things relating to God – gets really deep really fast, don’t be shy about staying in safe end; it’s ok to stop where Bible does

C. to loosen our ties to the temporal

must be complete break with past – old life / new life – Rom. 6:4

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

complete change of values – Col. 3:1

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”

no hope of acceptance with God found in this world – Rom. 4:25

Christ “was raised for our justification” – to be declared right with God, must look to Christ and him alone as means of justification and reconciliation

D. how is this good news?

1 Cor. 15:17 – no resurrection, still in your sins

Reporter quoted as asking religious leader: “If we discovered the tomb of Jesus, and could somehow prove that the remains in the tomb were Jesus’ remains, what would that do to your faith?” The Archbishop (Peter Carnley) replied that it wouldn’t do anything to his faith: Jesus Christ has risen in his heart.

according to Bible, if Jesus has not risen, the Father did not accept his work of redemption – you and I still on the hook

1 Cor. 15:19 – no resurrection, no hope for the future

even if somehow were relieved of penalty for sin, no resurrection means nothing beyond this life

important to note: dependence on Christ not for this life alone, is forever – the glory of heaven and eternal life nothing w/o Christ

Rom. 10:8-9 – key to salvation – “But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach):that 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.”

The good news is: “If this be true, then all is true. Then it is true that he came forth from God; that he died for sin; and that God approved and accepted his work. Then it is true that he ascended to heaven, and is exalted to dominion over the universe, and that he will return to judge the quick and the dead.” Barnes

 

He Was Buried

1 Corinthians 15:4a

Psalm 22:1-24; Isaiah 53:10-12; Matthew 27:57-66

Commonly think of what occurred nearly 2000 years ago in this way: Jesus came to live exemplary life, bear punishment for sin, conquer death, return to heaven and wait until time to come get us out of here. All that certainly true, but is not all that is true. Some key points that lack emphasis in that sort of minimalistic summary of Jesus’ last Passover week. As surrounding culture continues downward slide, those key points are ones becoming increasingly distasteful.

People have always been allergic to personal responsibility. Started with Adam and Eve: the womanyou gave me…; the serpent tricked me. Put another way – it’s not my fault but someone else’s. And if it’s not my fault, it’s not my responsibility. Let’s go one more step: if it’s not my responsibility, I shouldn’t have to endure consequences for poor choices or wrong actions. Now, in current culture, even that has been turned on its head. Mindset of many has become: I should be able to do what I want, have what I want, because I deserve it.

Sin is only something vague that old people used to talk about. Even if real, definitely not a big deal. Certainly not something beyond my ability to deal with. And that only if I can’t avoid consequences. If in this life death is ultimate consequence, let’s change that. Can do some genetic tinkering, some stem cells here or there, find equivalent of “fountain of youth” and beat death. Meanwhile, for those unfortunates caught in cross-fire, let’s make it more palatable, less real and final. We can call it a “Celebration of Life”. Let’s bring truckloads of stuff, make it look like loved one just out for a break. I know, can get funeral director to put body in favorite pose so they can party on. Growing fascination with zombies. For some, cremation rather than burial of a body – dear Aunt Agony really hasn’t left us, she is right over there in the urn, or here in crystal on my necklace.

See what has happened – have so minimized sin and its consequences the cross is emptied of all significance. When we do that, Cross becomes the story of unfortunate victim of a political plot gone wrong or small-minded religious zealots. If the Cross is stripped of its meaning, how much significance can there possibly be in v.4 of our text?

Is only when we understand the hideousness of sin as an offense against a holy God that we grasp significance of the Cross. Is only when we understand how loving God sent his well-beloved Son into sin-cursed world, ordained he would be crucified by sinful men, then poured out his just wrath against sin of the people he loved, that we begin to grasp awfulness of sin. We need both: what Bible teaches about God and sin, what it communicates about the Cross. Sin is so terrible that the God who is love punished the Son of his love in the place of the people he loves that they might experience his love and be granted life.

Now, what was extent of that punishment? The flogging? Crown of thorns? Carrying his cross? Nails in hands and feet? Injustice and ridicule? Awful as all that was, did not contribute to payment for sin. Listen again to Isaiah text:

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Was all that Jesus experienced, not at hands of men but at the hand of God that paid the ransom for our souls. Read last night from Isaiah chapter 52: he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man”… by punishment for our sin. Punishment did not end with his cry “It is finished” – still one more requirement: “wages of sin is death”. Not “near death experience”, not momentary death, but real verifiable death beyond ability of mere man to overcome. Burial is essential element in our full redemption – both for its symbolic value (die to sin, rise to new life) and practical use (grave for Christian need not be feared or avoided).

A. to show reality of his death

declared dead by attending soldiers (John 19:33)

started with the others, broke legs to hasten death; believed Jesus to be already dead, did not break his legs… pierced his side instead, ensuring truly was dead not just fainted

centurion summoned to convince Pilate that Jesus was really dead and body could be safely released to Joseph

treated as dead by Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:59-60) and Nicodemus (John 19:39)

to ask for body when Jesus not truly dead would put Joseph at risk of obstructing justice; was convinced enough Joseph still took risk of guilt by association

Joseph bought linen cloth to wrap the body, Nicodemus brought 75 pounds or more of myrrh and aloes – best they could do given time of day… approaching Sabbath

followers convinced enough to bring more spices (Luke 24:1ff)

ladies, after sunset on Saturday purchased more spices; at daybreak, made their way to garden tomb intending to take time and care to prepare body for long-term burial

soldiers sealed occupied tomb (Matt. 27:65-66)

religious leaders convinced dead body in tomb, wanted to make sure it stayed that way – persuaded Pilate to let them seal it – unlikely that they sealed an already empty tomb

could been, even likely that was late in evening on Friday (Jewish day starts 6pm) they got seal on tomb, guard outside

soldiers convinced enough Jesus was really there they were willing to lie about circumstances, risking life and professional career

Matt. 28:13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’

B. to confirm veracity of his claims (would he decay?)

remember Lazarus: “he stinketh”, dead four days, didn’t even want to open up his tomb – if same of Jesus, only a man; if not, something else must be true – see Acts 13:35

“Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’

knew couldn’t apply to David, must be someone else… the Messiah; if Jesus truly was Messiah, this must apply to him

claimed to be one with Father

understood by his contemporaries as claim to be God (they tried to stone him) – somehow this one we know as Jesus, if his claims were true, had to be more than just a man

if Jesus the God-Man, could not experience death the same as ordinary man – God is eternal, unchangeable, must have some kind of effect on that body in the tomb

claimed he would raise it up – John 2:19

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” – have John’s commentary “He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

his temple would be destroyed, he would lay down his life… die, and on third day something would happen – custom and good sense meant he could not stay on the cross all that time if truly dead… must be buried

claimed full authority over his own life – John 10:18

“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.”

to demonstrate that authority, must be some intervening period between “laying it down” and “taking it again” so observers can be reasonably convinced not some kind of magic trick

C. to emphasize helplessness of man

no man could endure penalty for sin and survive

weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth barely begins to describe its horror – lake of fire not overkill, is perfect justice for sin

how do we know no one can endure and survive? if possible, could go through that then die and escape hell although not gaining heaven – no such third option given in Bible

no man can experience real death and have ability to survive

if death is separation of soul and body, no human can hold soul in one hand, body in the other, then put back together

only Author of life himself has ability, say nothing of authority, to perform such a feat – true regardless of NDE’s and OOBE’s

no man on his own could escape the tomb

would require superhuman strength to move rock from inside; then it was “sealed” somehow to prevent opening, with Roman guard stationed

all of that is necessary to procure eternal life, none of it achievable by one who is only human

for our redemption to be complete, full penalty for sin must be paid – sin must be conquered so it no longer has mastery over us

for redeemed sinner to have hope, power of death must be overcome – the grave on both Friday and Sunday is essential

D. how is this good news?

three texts are significant

Gen. 2:17“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Rom. 5:12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned;”

Rom. 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

burial = finality = we don’t like it, don’t consider burial good news; desperately want to get to what comes next

try to get through the death and burial part, focusing on where dearly departed is now, where we will be someday

less than full satisfaction less than good news – 1 John 4:9 death confirmed by burial necessary for our life

since “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” – possible only because full satisfaction made

if anything were lacking in what Jesus accomplished by suffering and death, we must make it up = still hopelessly lost

also sends powerful message to present culture: the Gospel is not a message of instant gratification

want whatever problem we have fixed now, don’t want to wait; not how God works in lives of his people

just like Jesus followers had to experience sorrow, loss, discouragement… until third day, we must experience challenges of this life up to and perhaps including physical death

even grave itself has been sanctified by presence of Christ – need not fear dying, death, or beyond: the Forerunner has already been there, done that, will walk with us through it

at no point will true child of God ever have opportunity to cry out as Jesus did: “​My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

because Lord Jesus was forsaken in our place, we will never even in darkest moments be forsaken by God

Good news is that because Jesus died and was buried, is nothing left for us to add to work of our salvation. Through faith in his finished work, we can have hope of eternal life.

Christ Died for Our Sins

1 Corinthians 15:3

Deut. 18:15-19; Isa. 52:13-53:9; 1 Cor. 15:1-4

Christianity stands or falls on what is contained in these two verses. And this is what separates Christianity from every other religion or worldview. Just first statement – Christ died for our sins – is enough. Yes, is a summary, but given what is explicitly stated and implicitly required, is a complete Gospel.

Much masquerades as Gospel in American culture. Sad fact that much of that poison being exported to other parts of the world. What fallen mankind needs is not self-help. Not behavior modification. Not having faith to claim. Drowning ’cause I can’t swim – don’t tell me to dog-paddle faster. I’m drowning, now is not time to tell me pay more attention to how thick ice is. I’m drowning, don’t tell me click my heels and just believe – this isn’t Oz. Reality is… picture of drowning person inadequate – that individual still has life. Natural man not just a little or even a lot messed up but needing help. Natural man left to own devices hopelessly now and forever lost.

Must be no compromise, no confusion on what the Gospel is, who embodies it. Right and wrong are not relative, truth is not what you want it to be, we don’t all worship same god and all roads do not lead to heaven. God’s word the Bible gives us absolute standard of right and wrong, supplies absolute truth that will make us holy and acceptable to God. Tells us there is one and only one true God, the only way to him is through his son Jesus Christ. Those are words of life even when they cost us our life.

a. Intro

must be preached/proclaimed

not sort of thing we know automatically, by instinct – must be communicated to us by external source; not something that can be found in nature, rituals or holy books of another religion

if we know truth, means we have responsibility to communicate it whenever God supplies opportunity, whether preacher or not!

must be received

hearing, knowing, even understanding truth of Gospel not sufficient for salvation – must be received, embraced, evidenced by outward action: Rom. 10:9if 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.”

is unchanging – you stand

idea here is that of being immovable – stand stationary, in one place: only possible if what you’re standing on doesn’t move

Gospel, message that was good news for Adam and Eve is same message every other sinner needs to hear; just as relevant 5000 years in future as in past

will save

Gospel message when accompanied by regenerating work of Holy Spirit has power: Rom. 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

is of first importance

everything else in Bible points to it, everything else depends on it for significance – is essential to life now and hereafter

important enough to repeat, clarify, define so there is no question what Paul had in mind – is a summary, but still must be at the core of true Gospel

book published 2014, “The Gospel of Better”: quotes much from Bible, claims to be genuine good news, never mentions sin, the Cross, Jesus’ death or resurrection

according to what God says to us in our text, book does not qualify to be called a Gospel; don’t fall for the lie

A. who did it – Christ

Seed of the woman

the one promised in the Garden shortly after Creation; yes, the chicken did come first, then sin, immediate need for Redeemer

did not prompt God to issue immediate fix – would come in his way and time… as he promised; mankind needed to learn some things first

Adam and Eve not convinced they were truly helpless; didn’t immediately grasp full scope and seriousness of sin

Seed who would bless all families of the world

further promise to Abraham – descendant of his son Isaac (not Ishmael) would bring good news and life to all families regardless of ethnic origin: Jew first, then Gentile

promised Prophet

not just what he would do, what he would say: this Prophet would speak with full divine authority – we know Jesus taught that way, claimed that authority

son of a virgin who is the Son of God

the “who” is important, so also the “what” – was by man that sin came into the world, must be by man that sin would be taken care of

no other type of being is suitable – obviously animals don’t make the grade, even when sacrificed; angels not in running either

David’s son who is David’s Lord (Ps. 110:1)

but not just any man; every other man had his own sin problem, is only the God-Man who meets all necessary qualifications

is only one Jesus, the one in the Bible – not Jesus in other books viewed as sacred, not Jesus of movie fame, not Jesus as sinful man likes to define him

good news is that he isthere, and he did come here, to do exactly as God promised

B. what did he do – died

not a martyr

did not die because of what he believed; enemies wanted his blood because of who he claimed to be – one with God the Father

not a victim

was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” Acts 2:23 – Judas and Herod and Pilate and others were agents, many irregularities connected with his trial, yet outcome was precisely according to God’s plan

a willing sacrifice

repeatedly declared “I lay down my life”; stated “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself” – John 10:15, 17-18

and he did exactly that – laid down his life, he died, he died – nothing less, no one else, his life just like life of every lamb offered

C. what was his purpose – for our sins

couldn’t be for himself

John didn’t say “behold the Lamb of God who dies for his own sin”; wasn’t “who covers sins of his people”; was “who takes away sin”

any sinfulness in sacrifice disqualifies it as a substitute – if what Jesus did is truly good news, had to be for more than himself

couldn’t just be for Adam

JW, discussion about why Jesus died – to pay penalty for Adam’s sin; asked question: “what about your sin? who takes care of that?” – not good news if only Adam had a substitute

Paul declared: “Christ died for our sins” – not sins in general, mine might not be in there; our sins, personal possessive pronoun difference between life and death

D. how is this good news?

Genesis 2:17; Rom. 6:23 God promised death as consequence of disobedience… both in OT and NT, no hint of changing his mind

on one of earth’s darkest days, when those who had experienced God’s greatest blessings said “His blood be on us and on our children.” Matt. 27:25 God didn’t say, “that’s ok, don’t take it so hard”

heaven was silent in response to their howls of hatred as if God was agreeing – responsibility for Christ’s death would indeed be on those who clamored for his death and all who shared their unbelief

when it comes to sin, is either you or an acceptable substitute

good news is that there is an acceptable substitute, Jesus, who came to save his people from their sins

if your confession is that Jesus is the Lord of your life, you believe he died for your sins, you will be saved… and so will all who have that same confession

this perhaps the most astonishing part of good news: God did all this because of his love for us: 1 John 4:10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God loved us while still sinners, but never intending we should stay sinners – purpose from beginning to save his people from their sins, give them a future and a hope

Christ’s death was not an accident, an unfortunate mistake, a hoax that accomplished nothing. It was the necessary sacrifice of the perfect Son of God that paid the penalty for sin, satisfied God’s justice so that all who believe in him might have everlasting life. May God give us courage and opportunity to proclaim that truth to all who will listen.

Witness in Action – The Samaritan Woman

John 4:1-29

We have considered the root of missions – in the very character of God, to seek out those who are lost with the intent of saving them. Next we learned how God covenanted with Abram to make him a blessing to all families of the earth through his Seed, the Lord Jesus. We saw from Psalm 150 that the ultimate goal of missions is the right worship of the true God, a topic found also in this morning’s text. Then, over the last three weeks, we explored the nature of 1st century missions and how Christ has equipped his church to evangelize the world. Today and for three more weeks we will look at the example of Jesus and also Philip, the evangelist, as they spoke one-on-one about the Gospel.

1.  The Samaritan Woman – one who knew little and had little interest (at first)

2.  The Rich Young Ruler – one who knew a little and had a wrong understanding

3.  Nicodemus – one who had the facts but not the understanding

4.  The Ethiopian Eunuch – one who knew some but had a desire for more

A. The Dialogue

1. Jesus initiated the conversationv.7

a. dealt with issue common to human need

b. nothing overtly spiritual in the opening exchange

c. crossed accepted cultural barriers

2. Jesus’ response had dual significance – “living water”v.10

a. running water – the spring at the bottom of the well

b. spiritual refreshment

3. The woman was stuck on her physical “needs”

a. no bucketv.11

b. no inconveniencev.15

4. Jesus’ next request designed to reveal her need was spiritualv.16

a. her responses show her recognition of an area of emptinessv.17, 20

i. “I stink at relationships.”

ii. “I was thinking about going to church.”

b. and a reluctance to deal with it too quickly and openly

i. “I’m not sure which church would be a good one.”

c. Jesus was careful to affirm her honestyv.17-18

i. “You spoke well.”

ii. “You spoke truly.”

5. Jesus’ response zeroed in on the heart of the matter

a. it’s not where you worship but Who and howv.21-22

b. it’s not a matter of externals, it’s a matter of the heartv.23-24

6. The woman’s saturation point was reached

a. “I’m not ready to deal with it right now.”v.25

b. “Ready or not, here’s the truth.”v.26

c. Jesus’ self-identification is the final recorded interaction between him and the woman

d. There is no direct indication in the text of her conversion

B. The Strategy

1. Jesus had a goal and purpose in mind

a. encourage and edify (build up faith and godliness of) the one who is a true disciple

b. move the one who isn’t a disciple toward a crisis – follow Him or reject Him

2. Jesus spoke so as to prolong the encounter

a. showed an interest and concern in the person

b. made statements that aroused curiosity, kept the conversation going

c. broke the stereotypes

3. Jesus engaged in drawing her out from behind her protective layer

a. wasn’t satisfied with the herfeltneed

b. wanted her to recognize her spiritual condition

c. all for the purpose of identifying hertrueneed – see 1.a.i and 1.a.ii

d. led her to “discover” the same things

4. Jesus dialogued creatively

a. used vocabulary that could be taken one way but applied in another

b. used language and word pictures she could relate to

5. Jesus moved beyond the comfort zone

a. made the transition from physical/felt to underlying spiritual need

b. led her to at least mentally identify that there was something missing

i. guided the conversation into the area of lack

ii. encouraged her to acknowledge the emptiness and insufficiency in man’s solutions

c. OMNISCIENCE IS NOT REQUIRED (for us to have)!!

i. skillful dialogue and good listening will uncover pertinent information

ii. understanding of human nature helps fill in the gaps

6. Jesus did not pressure

a. Sheep scatter when driven, follow when led

b. God often uses multiple means to bring someone to faith

i. Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase1 Corinthians 3:6

c. Jesus was satisfied with giving her a clear understanding of who He was

i. pointed the woman to Christ, the only one who could truly satisfy

ii. pointed her to the only one who could forgive, redeem, reconcile

d. Effective evangelism most often occurs in the context of relationships

i. Pastor Art Warner, Greenfield Alliance (MA): (1st encounter) Can I ask you a personal question?Sure.Tell me about your father.I don’t have a father.Let me guess: you’re lacking a proper father figure in your life so you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places; now life’s a mess.Yup, that’s about right.(2nd encounter) You said you didn’t have a father.Well, I do, but…You’ll have to tell me about him sometime.It’ll make you cry.That’s OK.

1st Century Missions – Individual Witness

Acts 8:1-4; 11:19-21

15 years prior to the church in Antioch sending out those first missionaries to Cyprus and Asia Minor, something occurred which set an entire series of events in motion. Stephen, a gifted man chosen to be deacon in the Jerusalem church, had become too effective a witness for the Gospel. Enemies hatched a plot to frame Stephen, falsely accuse him before the Sanhedrin, and hopefully get him out of the way. Not even waiting for a verdict, the mob gathered for his trial lynched him, dragging him out of the city and stoning him. As our text begins Saul, later known as Paul, was satisfied with the outcome – Stephen’s death.

As effective as they were, the Jerusalem church lacked one thing – they had failed to follow through on Jesus’ departing mandate to them.

A. satisfaction 8:1

the “church in Jerusalem”, not the “church in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, …”

6 or 7 years after ascension of Christ, after his instruction to them – “you shall be my witnesses”

had become complacent, satisfied with the status quo

entrenched in the comfort-zone

at risk (perhaps) but not taking risks

content to grow bigger instead of broader

focused on internal needs

feeding widows 6:1

developing support structure 6:2-4

local ministry necessary BUT…..

time comes to move, to obey Christ’s command

B. persecution 8:1, 3; 11:19

mega – severe 8:1

harassment

making havoc – ravaging – trying to destroy

raids – war of attrition, not all-out assault

because of Stephen 11:19

began at the time of Stephen’s martyrdom

directed at typical church member, not leaders 8:1, 3

not the primary leaders who were scattered – “except the apostles”

evidence of God’s sovereign providence

sheep w/o shepherd scatter

church would have died without leadership

results not what Saul desired, exactly what God intended

strengthen – outcome of adversity

look outward

C. dispersion 8:1, 4; 11:19

scattered

Judea 8:1

Samaria 8:1

Phoenicia, Cyprus, Antioch 11:19

leaders remained

Jerusalem church not without problems – Acts 11:28-30

“And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.”

significant enough material difficulty to encourage help from the church at Antioch

necessary to give unity to the church

Apostle’s Creed – one holy, catholic, apostolic church

provide doctrinal and practical direction in new situations – see Acts 15

D. action 8:4; 11:19-20

man’s work – to be a witness

by giving life

Stephen

eventually all but John, NT author, gave life for the Gospel

Tertullian, 2nd century, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Foxe’sBook of Martyrs

by giving testimony

evangelizing – speaking 8:4, 11:19-20

Jews first

then Gentiles

God’s work 11:21

adding to the church Acts 2:41,47

“The scattering abroad of Jerusalem is the cause of the gathering together of many other churches.”Geneva Notes

both are necessary

God works through means

proclamation

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Rom. 10:17

modeling

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 5:16

“always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” 1 Pet. 3:15

man needs God to do what only God can

only God can give spiritual understanding – “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” 1 Cor. 2:12

only God can change man’s heart – “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” Eze. 11:19

only God can save – “Salvation is of the Lord” Jonah 2:9

we must do our part

be outward-thinking and acting

be prepared

be mindful of our heritage

live accordingly

1st Century Missions – Planting Churches

Acts 14:19-28

The church at Antioch blessed with 5 elders: Barnabas, Niger, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul (Acts 13:1). Divinely revealed to them: send out Barnabas and Saul on a mission – the work to which God had called them. The first NT record of a local church intentionally sending men out on mission following Jesus’ ascension. Four essential elements to Paul’s 1st misisonary journey: establishing churches, exhorting the saints, appointing leaders, and reporting to the senders. They still remain as necessary ingredients to missions today – same God, same goal, same method since He hasn’t changed it.

A. Establish v. 21

evangelized – see vv. 15-17

good news of repentance and forgiveness

discipled

baptized – see Matt. 28:19

taught – see Matt. 28:20

to observe [To keep or adhere to in practice; to comply with; to obey,Webster]

Luke 14:27 Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commandments.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

gathered – Col. 1:15-18

Acts 2:47 The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

ἐκκλησία– an assembly of people called together for worship; a congregation

B. Exhort v. 22

strengthen hearts

confirming faith – belief and behavior

given events/facts of this (the 1st) century what you believe is the truth

don’t allow opposition or criticism to shake your confidence

“we know what we’re talking about; we were there or know those who were” – witnesses

encourage to continue

sharp opposition in Antioch Acts 13:45,50

plot to kill them in Iconium – fled for their lives – Acts 14:5-6

stoned in Lystra – v. 19

went on to Derbe then returned to the 3 towns

warning of trouble ahead

Jesus’ words and experience

statement about cross-bearing meant something

He told them on the road to Emmaus “was it not necessary for the Christ to sufferLuk. 24:26

“He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isa. 53:3

Gospel message and life not popular with many – will be strongly resisted

“all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Tim. 3:12

Christ our example – we should expect similar treatment

Matt 5:10-11 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”

C. Appoint v. 23

local leadership

3-self churches: governing, financing, propagating

required leadership: bishops/overseers/pastors to lead, guide, guard the flock

must be local for long-term sustainability

requires relational connections

contextualizing the message – living the Gospel in a particular culture

under the headship of Christ

“Christ is the head of the body, the church” Col. 1:18

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church which is his body” Eph. 1:22-23

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Eph 4:15-16

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Eph. 5:23

to direct/encourage outreach in the local neighborhood

growth and reproduction of local churches expected by Christ

“I will build my church” Matt. 16:18

“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world… I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” John 17:18,20

and the apostles

“after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints” Eph. 1:15

“since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the saints” Col. 1:4

For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” 1 Thess. 1:8

D. Report vv. 26-28

closed the circle v. 26

confusion!?!?!! – Antioch v.19 is in Pisidia (modern central Turkey); Antioch v.26 is in Syria (300 miles ESE, modern far southern Turkey/northern Syria border region)

sent out to do a particular work, then return

permanent or even long-term residency on the mission field not part of the picture

tasked with the goal of establishing self-supporting churches, then return to “base”

had gone out under the authority and commission of local church, needed to report on the success of the mission

important element of maintaining accountability to a local church

even the Apostle Paul did not act as a Lone Ranger – went with at least one assistant, stayed connected with his home church

rehearsed the work God had done v. 27

shouldn’t be a surprise:Acts 1:1the Gospel account recorded “all that Jesus began both to do and teach”, the Acts continue that record

worked miracles through them:Acts 13:11;14:3,10

caused many to believe, others remained in unbelief Acts 13:43,45; Acts 13:48,50; Acts 14:1-2

missionaries readily acknowledged their results explainable only by God

God had worked through them

God had opened the door of faith

rejoiced in the expansion of the church – faith to the Gentiles

the next major leap for the Gospel following the ascension of Christ

no longer just a Jewish church or even Jewish and Hellenistic church

now includes representatives from both major people groups: Jew and Gentile

see Acts 13:52 – communicated that joy to Antioch church

dual significance of successful mission

major barrier to church growth had been crossed: linguistic, cultural, ethnic

God had begun final fulfilment of his covenant with Abram, commission to his Servant

still work to do

2 further journeys at least by Apostle Paul

list goes on down through the centuries

1/3 of the world’s population still live in unreached people groups

without an indigenous church planting movement