Archive for the 'Consequences' Category

Consequences 05

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Consequence 05

 

 

 

The Message 2 – The Resurrection

 

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In this brief series called Consequences, we are looking together at 7 consequences of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Today we continue to look at the message of the early church regarding this Jesus – a message which is also relevant to us today! Yesterday we looked at the Cross and today we will look at the Resurrection.

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1 Corinthians 15:12-14 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

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Significance of the Resurrection

That was the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church about the crucified Jesus having been physically raised from the dead! What significance is there in Jesus’ resurrection, that the early church afforded such great value in it as part of their message? The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1:22; Acts 4:33, Acts 17:18). Certainly within Paul-ine theology, but what significance is there in Jesus’ resurrection?

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The Solution!

The resurrection proved and vindicated all of Jesus’ teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to His being fully God, fully human and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53:10-12; Acts 2:36; Acts 3:13-15; Romans 1:4). The resurrection, declared God’s approval of Jesus’ obedient service and the fulfilment of Old Testament promises as well as Jesus’ own words about it! The cross and resurrection of Jesus results in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ.

This was the prime motive for evangelism in the early church (Acts 2:32, Romans 4:24-25). Jesus’ resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in Him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15:12-58, Romans 8:10, 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3 & 21). As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow Him (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 6:20, 1 Peter 1:21).

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Finally the Cross and resurrection ensure victory over satan, sin and death – they are conquered and squashed. Satan is a defeated creature and will do anything to drag people into defeat with him. The power of sin is conquered, and sin’s grip is overcome if you are a believer in Jesus Christ. Finally, as I said earlier, death has been beaten, because those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ will live forever with him – death is not the end but a beginning. if Jesus Christ did not physically rise from the dead, we as Christians are the product of the greatest delusional lie and are the most foolish of all people.

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Our Resurrection

Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee that all humans also will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)… Amazing love… There will be a bodily resurrection of the dead, those who are saved and those who are unsaved (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15). What will our resurrected bodies be like? We get a good glimpse from the Bible writers. The resurrected body of believers, those who are truly disciples of Jesus Christ will be:

  • Like Christ’s glorious body (1 Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2)
  • Not just flesh and blood (1 Corinthians 15:50ff)
  • Not just spiritual (Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:42, 53)
  • They were only always going to be a temporary measure as they pointed forward to Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross.

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Those who are, or were, non-believers will also be resurrected (John 5:28-29), but will not have the new glorious bodies of believers, nor will they enter into heaven. It makes the work of evangelism for all Christians, all the more imperative.

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Ultimately Jesus gives all humanity a choice. You can choose to deny the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ and say it doesn’t matter. You can say that it is an irrelevance and that is your right. God’s love is compelling and amazing but He does not force anyone to love Him in return, because love never forces! Such is the enormity of the love of God that each person has a choice to make – follow Jesus and accept His cross and resurrection or not to do that. God will not force you to accept it, but he will keep on calling you back to the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

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Jesus death on the cross and His resurrection was the central message of the early church! That is also to be our message as church in the 21st century! Tomorrow we look even closer at the man central to this extraordinary message in the next of our series, “Consequences”! See you soon at Partakers!

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Consequences 04

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Consequence 04

 

 

 

The Message 1 – The Cross

 

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In this brief series called Consequences, we are looking together at 7 consequences of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Today we start to look at the message of the early church regarding this Jesus – a message which is also relevant to us today! This message is the Easter story – Jesus’ death and resurrection!

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Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

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The Problem!

There is a problem in the world, which has been a problem since time almost began! That problem is sin. Sin is anything that separates humans from God, which as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Isaiah 59:2). Under the Old Testament Law or Covenant, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement for sin (Leviticus 17:11), for without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). A blood sacrifice was God's way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • They provided a covering for sin.
  • They showed the great cost of sin.
  • They were an exchange or substitution.
  • They were only always going to be a temporary measure as they pointed forward to Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross.

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The Solution!

However, the ultimate solution to sin was not the continual animal sacrifice of the Old Testament because the blood of animals was unable take away sin because they were only a veneer. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again! But those animal sacrifices pointed forward to a time when they would no longer be necessary! They pointed forward to the time when only through the Christ’s death on the cross, that sin would be taken away (Hebrews 9:11-15, 26-28) and not merely covered or coated!

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What has this to do with Jesus? We see in the Gospels how Jesus Christ was tempted and taunted by satan to disobey God to the extent of not going to his death on the cross. If Jesus had ever succumbed to temptation, and sinned against God in thought, word, action or inaction, then He Himself would have needed a Saviour. That is why Jesus is the perfect sacrifice – because he never sinned and he always did what He saw God the Father wanting Him to do. Because of the cross and resurrection alone, satan, death and sin have all lost their sting and have been vanquished. WOW!

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The Cross is a choice!

And there is yet more to the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ! All human beings, in their natural state, are born sinners and have rebelled against God (Romans 3:23). However, because of Jesus’ death on the cross, God offers forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7), Peace (Romans 5:1) and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). Through the cross, humanity can choose to be made just before God (Romans 3:24-26) as it cleanses from sin (1 John 1:7) and makes humanity right before Almighty God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of the Cross, we can choose to have direct access to God (Ephesians 2:18) and Jesus Christ intercedes for us (Hebrews 2:17-18). Because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, all those who choose to follow Him have freedom from slavery to sin (Galatians 5:1) and freedom from the power of the devil (Hebrews 2:14). None of the above things are true if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Ultimately the Cross brings you to a choice. You can accept the cross and therefore be guaranteed peace with God. The cross of Jesus Christ epitomises God’s glory. Jesus Christ, as the Son of God who was simultaneously fully God and fully human, died on a cross, taking on Himself the sins of the world, paying the greatest price, so that you can be restored into a peaceful relationship with God the Father. That is for all people, of all nations, ages, generations, statuses and gender. There is a price to pay for those seeking to be followers of Jesus Christ! They must surrender completely to Him, be prepared to identify with Him in suffering and death and be willing to follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

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Jesus death on the cross was preached by the early church! That is also to be our message as church in the 21st century, but that was only part of their message! The second part of the message we will look at in the next of our series, “Consequences”! See you soon at Partakers!

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Consequences 03

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Consequence 03

 

You Go!

 

Jesus has ascended back to the right hand of God the Father and the Holy Spirit has come upon and in the disciples! We go back to before those events now, to Matthew 28, to see the prelude for the next consequence of this series.

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Matthew 28:18-20 When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”

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What will the disciples do now that Jesus has gone and the Spirit has come? They will do as Jesus commanded – go and tell the world about this Jesus and teach them to be His disciples! One of the major themes of Matthew’s Gospel is the authority of Jesus. Matthew highlights Jesus’ authority in action and not just merely in words. For example, Matthew records Jesus’ authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6) and Jesus imparted authority to His disciples for a short time when they went on a mission in Matthew 10. Jesus has all the authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28v18)! Jesus has authority over all things and all people. Jesus has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons, as well as over all nations, governments, rulers, and over all earthly and spiritual authorities.

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One of the consequences of Easter is that Jesus’ authority is passed to His disciples. The disciples could be obedient to God without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm them, regardless of the circumstances they would find themselves in. That is why they were so bold and why the church spread quickly! That was the work of the Holy Spirit who changed them from living in fear to living out their faith boldly! They had great confidence in their God, knowing that through His death and resurrection, Jesus had conquered all enemies.

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If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then the disciples would not have had a story to tell. But Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, and the early church exploded numerically as the twelve disciples exercised Jesus’ authority and His power.

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For The Church Today

Christianity is a faith whereby all Christian Disciples are to tell others of the goodness of God and what Jesus has done for them. Indeed God Himself is a missionary God. Ever since Genesis 3 and the fall of man, God has been on a mission to bring and call people back to Himself. That was the purpose of the nation of Israel, to be a light to all nations of the goodness and glory of God! That was purpose when God, who is outside of time and space, entered human history taking on human flesh and restricted Himself in a human body as the man we know as Jesus Christ. Jesus whole mission was one of calling people back to life in God. As followers of Jesus Christ, all Christian Disciples are to showing and tell others of God’s message of reconciliation to all people of all time. It is not forcing people to adopt Church standards (1 Corinthians 5:12) and nor is it simply a message of join the church as a symbol of good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

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Why?

The prime motivation for evangelism is out of gratitude for what God has done, in that we love because He loved us first. We are not all called to be evangelists but we are all called to make disciples of Jesus Christ! Making disciples is not just evangelism but ensuring that guidance and care is given to new disciples of Jesus Christ. How is this achieved? How can the Christian Disciple exhibit Jesus’ authority and power in evangelism? Who gives the impetus for Christian Disciples? That is part of the role of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would come once He had ascended back to the right hand of God the Father. After all, as a Christian, you also have the same Holy Spirit within you as Jesus’ disciples did! WOW! Lets go make disciples to the praise of God the Father, with the authority of Jesus the Son of God in the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Our consequence tomorrow will be about the message we are to go with!

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Consequences 02

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Consequence 02

Holy Spirit Comes!

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~Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

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As we saw last time, Jesus has ascended back to the right hand of the Father. The 12 apostles are now back in Jerusalem and waiting. Waiting for the Holy Spirit to come and baptize, fill, empower, indwell and transform. Before Jesus went to the cross, He told his disciples a number of times that He was going back to the Father, that He would not leave them alone and powerless because the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would be sent. The Holy Spirit would live in, empower and motivate the disciples. He would also remind them of all Jesus had taught them.

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Throughout the Book of Acts and in the other New Testament writings we discover more about the Holy Spirit. We see that His prime role is to see Jesus Christ the Son of God praised and glorified (John 16:13-14) by testifying for Jesus Christ (John 15:26) and witnessing for Him (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is involved with ministering to members of the church. The Holy Spirit declares God’s Word, interpreting and illuminating it. He convicts of sin, transforms, indwells, fills, baptizes and seals the believer. With all this, the Holy Spirit also equips for service. God is at work in His body the church, to will and to act accordingly to his purpose (Phil. 2:13), to be my witnesses (Acts 1:8).

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Let’s look at the Holy Spirit at work, concentrating on His work in the life of Peter! Remember how Peter had rejected Jesus Christ and openly defied Him by trying to stop Jesus going to the cross. That Peter was a dejected and defeated man. There is now a new Peter! A new Peter, transformed by the Holy Spirit! A Peter who speaks with the authority Jesus gave all the disciples. This Peter, given impetus by the Holy Spirit, preaches a sermon and 3000 people are added to the church in one day (Acts 2:41). This Peter, who when passing by a man who couldn’t walk, told him to get up and walk – and the man did (Acts 3:1-11)! Peter was allowing himself to be guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit. The difference between this Peter and the dejected Peter before Jesus’ resurrection is due only to the Holy Spirit making a difference to Peter. Peter, by submitting himself to the authority and power of the Holy Spirit, was allowing the Holy Spirit to control him and guide him. The greatest evidence of the Holy Spirit living inside any of us, is the transformation of the individual into the image of Jesus – as demonstrated here in Peter.

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This Peter who under the influence of Holy Spirit’s power, administered church discipline as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:10). But it wasn’t just Peter who was empowered. As Acts 5:12-16 shows us, all the disciples, not just the twelve apostles, were able to do all manner of things for the glory of Jesus Christ because they were baptized and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

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The Holy Spirit empowers and delivers the disciples passion for making Jesus Christ known. The early church was dynamic and seen to be exercising the authority of Jesus Christ. This was done by preaching the good news about Jesus being the long waited for Messiah. The Disciples exercised Jesus’ authority by submitting themselves to and relying upon the Holy Spirit. Would that be for the church of the 21st century! The Holy Spirit, lives inside and empowering all believers for the service and glory of Jesus Christ! Not just the 12 apostles for the service of Jesus Christ. Next time in this series Consequences we will look at where the early disciples were told to go and teach!

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Consequences 01

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Consequence 01

Jesus Goes!

 

Jesus has been raised from the dead! What happened next! In this brief series called Consequences, we shall look together at 7 consequences of Jesus’ death and resurrection and some of the theological implications.

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Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. Frequently Jesus taught that he would rise from the dead. He was mocked for it when on the cross. The disciples had seemingly forgotten this and were hiding in fear at any retribution by the Jewish religious authorities. At his tomb, there were both Temple and Roman Guards to ensure nobody could steal the body of Jesus.

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Acts 1:1-12 In my first book, Theophilus, I wrote about what Jesus began to do and teach. This included everything from the beginning of his life until the day he was taken to heaven. Before he was taken to heaven, he gave instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles, whom he had chosen. After his death Jesus showed the apostles a lot of convincing evidence that he was alive. For days he appeared to them and talked with them about the kingdom of God. Once, while he was meeting with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for what the Father had promised. Jesus said to them, “I’ve told you what the Father promises: John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when the apostles came together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you’re going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus told them, “You don’t need to know about times or periods that the Father has determined by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be my witnesses to testify about me in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he had said this, he was taken to heaven. A cloud hid him so that they could no longer see him. They were staring into the sky as he departed. Suddenly, two men in white clothes stood near them. They asked, “Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking at the sky? Jesus, who was taken from you to heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives. It is near Jerusalem, about half a mile away.

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Jesus’ resurrection is the catalyst for the mission of the church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Indeed, the growth and spread of the church, is a proof of the historical fact of Jesus’ physical resurrection or rising from the dead. Having been raised from the dead, Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end and shortly He will be returning to the right hand of the Father. Just as He had said to his disciples a few times before He went to the cross. Before He does leave though, He has some final instructions for His disciples.

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In the Gospel of Mark 16:14-19, the Gospel of Luke 24:50-51 and in our reading from the book of Acts 1:1-12, we read about Jesus physically ascending into the heavens. Jesus has returned to the right hand of the Father, as He said he would do before His death on the cross. During their last discussion with Jesus, the disciples were still expecting him to lead a revolution against the Romans (Acts 1:6). Despite all Jesus had said to them in the previous 3 years, they still did not understand that Jesus had come to lead a spiritual kingdom and not a political kingdom.

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Now it would be easy to think that Jesus has abandoned them, but no! Jesus tells them to go back to Jerusalem, wait for the Holy Spirit and then go tell others the Good News about Him! He had told them previously that he was going away and that it was better for them if He did, because the Holy Spirit would be sent to be with them, to live in them and empower them for the work they had to do! And even after Jesus had vanished into the clouds, the disciples still gathered around looking into the sky for Him to return! So two angels came and said “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky.” (Acts 1:11) From there the disciples returned to Jerusalem and waited. They didn’t have to wait long, 10 days, until the Holy Spirit came, filled them and started living within them. And that is what we will look at tomorrow in the next of this series Consequences.

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