Archives for posts with tag: resurrection

risingtoanewdayI wanted to share the Easter message broadcast this week from Jentzen Franklin. Listen to it when you get the chance. It will bless and encourage you and help you be ready to receive more of the word when we get together this Sunday, April 23rd.

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compeledThe Bible speaks of how the love of God draws everything and everyone in our lives down to a singular relationship with Jesus. We don’t live for ourselves. We live so that others would know what the crucifixion and resurrection means for them. But, the Apostle Paul says their is something more ontological that we need to know that shapes our faith and witness as an ambassador for Jesus Christ and that raises the dead to life.

It comes from reading 2 Corinthians 5: 14. “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”

What are the implications of all being dead? What has to happen for all (or anyone) to go from being dead to being alive? For that, we’re going to tell the story of love from John 3: 13 – 21.

State the Facts: “No one has ever gone (ascended) into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”There are two groups of humanity. The first group is ‘the all’ who cannot ascend into heaven. The second group consists of the One who can.

Share the Faith: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

See the Future: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Show a Singular Focus: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Start the Funnel: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

The Simple Framework: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that the works they have done that they are wrought in God.”

graceFirst and foremost, the purpose of grace is to gift you with repentance. Without repentance, we have no seed or source for our faith. As one who is aligned with God in repentance, the Apostle Peter said, “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5: 29 – 32)

Without repentance we will obey man rather than God. The word ‘obey’ is built on a compound word in the Greek language which means to have trust in the rule of someone. In this case, Peter and the other apostles replied they had trust or confidence in the rule of God rather than ruling themselves or being ruled by the meant-to-be persuasive and strict orders they had received from the Sanhedrin. Without the gift of repentance, that obedience would have been manipulated and directed by the superior threats and consequences of the council. Just as today, without repentance, we will do almost anything or keep ourselves completely quiet so we can stay in the good ‘graces’ of our culture.

What is forgiveness without repentance? It is an admission of guilt where no guilt exists. What is our witness without repentance? Is it a charade? Is it being asked to suffer for what we do not believe?

Repentance aligns us with reality. In this case, repentance aligns Peter and the other apostles to the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

What is the reality with which you are aligned? Is it a reality that causes you to trust yourself or does it cause you to trust God? Is it a reality where what you think is what’s most important or have you exchanged your will for the truth that is in Christ Jesus? Is it a reality where you blame others for what is wrong in your world or have you and the Holy Spirit taken responsibility for everything?  Is it a reality where you do what you have to do or a reality where you are led by the Spirit? Is your reality marked by the need that something’s gotta give or is it marked by the fact, God already gave?

Is your life marked by the purpose of Grace?

P.S.

As you read Acts 6 today, notice the “double silence” that was at work in Stephen’s life. He wasn’t full of himself, he was “known to be full of the Spirit” (Acts 6: 3) and when opposition arose against him, “they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.” (Acts 6: 10)

Acts 6: 8 describes this quality of the “double silence” when it says that Stephen was “a man full of God’s grace and power”. Today, may we be so marked by the purpose of grace that we are described as Stephen is.

keep-on-prayingActs 1: 14 says, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

The disciples gathered in Jerusalem to pray and wait for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This was Jesus’ last request of them so they might fulfill their commission and become the witnesses they were meant to be. For forty days after his resurrection, Jesus had met with the disciples, eaten with them, given them evidences to remove their doubts, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God.

But, in the midst of this waiting group of disciples a few more people are introduced. The ones I want to observe in particular are Jesus’ brothers. It was only after the resurrection they are counted among the disciples. Proximity had not produced intimacy. Time and teaching had not served as the best healer.

No, it was the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that finally made the difference. This is why we keep on praying for other people. We can’t predict when this difference will be awakened in those for whom we pray.

It may be quickly as the Word of God finds good soil to be planted, cultivated, and fruitful in a person’s life. Others for whom we pray may have thorns that choke the Word of grace and something has to happen to bring the light of Christ to a point of breakthrough in their life. Others may have tried to receive the Word of God lightly, holding it alongside their own will. We keep on praying that a day of decision will come when the trouble or persecution because of the Word clarifies for them that Jesus alone is the Risen Lord.

We keep on praying. Some lives are dominated and devoured by the birds of hell that peck the Word out before it can take root in their heart. We keep on praying and following Jesus. We die to ourselves brand new each morning. We bury ourselves in loving and witnessing to others. We rise to tell them the truth. We keep on sowing. We keep on praying. We meet with them, eat with them, and offer them evidences to remove their doubts, and speak to them of the kingdom of God.

We keep on praying until they are joined together with us in prayer.

We keep on praying.

Luke 18: 41 gives the reply of the blind man to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied, “I want to see again. I want to recover my sight.”

When we cry for mercy from the Lord, for what are we crying? Are we crying out to see again? Sin has sabotaged what we were meant to be. Ephesians 4 spells out how the resemblance to the Father we were meant to carry has been terribly marred. Our thinking has become devoid of truth and appropriateness, our ability to think things through has been darkened, and we’ve become locked into being strangers towards God. Me, myself, and I don’t know enough to change things.

Not knowing, instead of humbling us, setting us in the road of life crying out for mercy like this blind man on the downhill side of where he should be, we harden our hearts. Instead of recognizing our distance from God as a sinner, unable to look up to God and crying out for mercy (18: 13) , we are busy giving the reasons why we should be justified by God even though we are still in our sin.

Finally, sin causes us to lose all sensitivity because of the spiritual callouses we have built up against correction and repentance.

Only God can reverse and deliver us from what sin has done. Most of the time, when we are complaining about someone’s immoral behavior the damage has already been done. They don’t need reform. They need renewal. They need regeneration and resurrection. They need a new horizon of eternal life set before them and only Jesus can answer that request if and when it’s made.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.” (Luke 18: 42 – 43)
P. S.
This miracle of recovery began when the blind man heard that Jesus is passing by. Let’s try to be in the crowd that’s telling others this sight-giving, life-giving truth.

In the pathway of grace and in the life of Jesus the resurrection is the breakthrough event that ushers in the work of the Holy Spirit. In the listing of first principles in Hebrews 6, the resurrection of the dead is the principle that corresponds with the bringing of life in the pathway of grace. It is the singular event that demonstrates the efficacy of Christ’s suffering and theresurrection (1) victory over sin, death, and hell God brings to us through Jesus Christ.  The book of Acts repeatedly proclaims that it is the resurrection of Jesus that exalts Him above all others. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, (whom God raised from the dead) both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2: 36)

In Acts 3, Peter gives Jesus the title, the Prince of Life. The Holy Spirit has been poured out so the apostles and all who repent and believe in Jesus might become witnesses to this fact.  Peter goes so far as to say whosoever will repent and be converted to follow Jesus will have their sins blotted out and experience the time of refreshing promised by God. (Acts 3: 19) Even more stark and declarative, Peter quotes from the Old Testament warning to those who refuse to turn to the Resurrected Prophet. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3: 23)

But, as Peter shares in his own epistle, God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3: 9) This is shared in Acts 3: 26, “God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Yes, this is the divine plan: for you to experience life and that more abundantly.

Please remember though, that life is mediated through one person – Jesus.  Peter says, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 10-12)

And Paul later speaking to the philosophers and thought leaders of Athens says much the same thing.  “For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 29-31)

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” (Acts 17: 32) I hope we will hear again about this matter.  Our lives depend upon it.